It’s already been a long season (and decade) in Lakerdom, even if fans knew the team is rebuilding.
They just didn’t think it would last this long.
Ding, ding, ding!
Nothing that’s happened has been a surprise – Kobe Bryant is out, Steve Nash is trying to get his legs under him, Nick Young is Nick Young – but it’s a bad time for Lakers fans, half of whom cheer every win in the hope … well, the team can’t really win a title, can it? … as the other half cheer every loss, in the hope … well, the Lakes aren’t likely to get the No. 1 pick, are they?
Lakerdom under water. And folks out here aren’t used to drowning like this.
This is a team coming off an epic meltdown after Dwight Howard joined with Bryant, Nash and Pau Gasol to produce a heap of smoking rubble with Mike Brown fired in five games, Phil Jackson looking like he was on his way back before they hired Mike D’Antoni, who may as well have stepped off the plane into a vat of boiling oil.
Actually, firing D’Antoni, who is hardly the problem in a three-season decline that started under Jackson and Brown, would really mess the season up for Lakers fans, who would then have nothing achievable to root for.
NBA.com’s Scott Howard-Cooper just got Laker-turned-Clipper Antawn Jamison to acknowledge the Dwight-Kobe standoff poisoned the atmosphere, although he blamed both – perhaps so he doesn’t have to look the other way when he runs into them.
The standoff was Dwight’s fault, as was his inability to run pick-and-rolls with Nash or hint at wanting to stay. Kobe was totally supportive, while noting there was a Laker standard Howard had to meet. To Dwight, who had never been held accountable for his hijinks in Orlando, it was like a public flogging.
Of course, by remaining steadfastly aloof, Dwight was, at least, able to leave without anyone being able to say he broke any promises.
Lakers management suddenly found itself left to follow a salary cap strategy, which was actually fine, if far slower, with a chance to create two and possibly three max salary slots from 2014-2016.
Unfortunately for Lakers fans, that is then and this is now, with management focused first and foremost on keeping its cap space.
Lakerdom is awash in denial, yearning for D’Antoni’s firing or a trade that would Change Everything.
Unfortunately for Lakers fans, no one would win 50 games with this roster, which has no one anyone wants.
Gasol, 33, is averaging 15-10, down from 17-10 the season before Dwight Howard, not enough to be worth a good young player or a No. 1 pick. (Although Sheridan disagrees.)