Where do they go from here?

Well, at least that loss had some time to sink in, right? But now that this season in the books, where do the Lakers go from here? Was this just a bunch of kids running into a superior, veteran-laden team? Or did the Celtics expose fatal flaws in the makeup of this team.

Phil Jackson seemed to suggest there would be changes in the off-season after the game.

“We have to get some players if we’re going to come back and repeat, to have that kind of aggressiveness that we need,” he said.

How big those changes will be remain to be seen.

Right now, at 4:22 a.m. (EST), just about four hours after the season’s final chapters were written, here are the three areas the Lakers will have to address this offseason:

1. How does Lamar Odom fit into their future plans. Odom and Pau Gasol were outstanding when teamed together the last few months of the year, but with Andrew Bynum coming back, Gasol will slide over to power forward and Odom to small forward. In the Lakers offense, the small forward needs to be a good outside shooter to stretch the defense. Hence, Vladimir Radmanovic’s spot in the starting lineup. Odom told me a couple weeks ago that he’s looking forward to the move, and that he’s going to spend the entire summer shooting 3s. But is this the right fit for his game? That question will need to be answered quickly this summer and next season as Odom heads into the final year of his contract. If he’s not a fit, his expiring contract will be attractive on the open market.

2. How much can they get out of Andrew Bynum. Everything, and I repeat everything depends on how quickly Bynum’s knee recovers from his knee surgery, and how confident the Lakers are that he’ll make a full recovery. If there are any doubts, the Lakers will need to look for a back-up center who can contribute at both ends. Is Ronny Turiaf that guy?

Well, that brings us to No. 3:

Turiaf is a free agent, and while he had a dreadful NBA Finals, he played well enough this season to interest many teams looking for a young, athletic big man with an under rated offensive game.

The other free agent the Lakers will need to decide on is Sasha Vujacic. He’s only a restricted free agent, meaning the Lakers can match what another team offers him. The sense is that the Lakers would like to keep both players. They both have great attitudes, basketball IQs and upside. But how much will they be willing to pay to do so?

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  • lakerfan

    Did anyone ask Phil if he thought the Lakers quit last night?

  • cheryl b

    KOBE U CAME A LONG WAY, I LOVE THE WAY U PLAY BALL,I THINK YOUR TEAM LEFT U 2 DROWN. THEY SAID THAT U HAVE HELP, BUT WHERE DID THEY GO

  • Celitcs Fan

    Lakers Fans,
    It wouldn’t have been the series it was if it wasn’t Lakers vs Celtics. Truly the Celts and the Lakers are the “franchises” with respect to history. No disrespect intended to others. The Celts have the edge wth 17 championships but the Lakers have made it to he finals an amazing 29 times! I believe that is nine more appearances than my Celts. I look forward to the rivalry. See you next year.

  • Anonymous

    Gasol as a power forward, the weakside enforcer who blocks shots and rebounds…Not likely. Odom the small forward who slashes to the basket and rarely shoots the three…becoming a three-point threat…dubious, plus there goes the few rebounds the team gets. Bynum the center, who will play in a offense that starts him in the hi-post more than the low post while not knowing if he will have a signature 6-12ft shot he can count on… and only a healthy Bynum plays defense… Gasol is not a power forward, Odom is not a small forward and Bynum might be better off at power forward as the starter and center when Gasol has to sit… Luke and Rony and Mihm will have to go, preferably for a Rashard Lewis type of player and by all means retain Vujacic… if Vlad cannot learn to defend and play from the bench then he is a bust….

  • Steven M.

    Point #1: Andrew Bynum was the biggest injury effectively, of the finals. His presence alone would have opened the court for Kobe and Gasol. Admittedly, I don’t think Gasol would have been acquired if Bynum had stayed healthy, but that’s immaterial. I was disappointed at how little his abscence was mentioned by the announcers for the Celtics National Broadcasting Network; also known as ABC.

    Point #2: Odom will continue to improve and if he isn’t able to make the position change, he will certainly bring a pretty good player in exchange if he’s traded. Either way the Lakers win. Personally I’d like to see him switch successfully and contribute to the Lakers beating the Celtics in next year’s finals.

    Point #3: I think Vujacic will be too expensive to keep, the Spurs might try to sign him and that just might be a good thing. Vujacic is still too Euro-like to be very effective in the physical attrition of the NBA playoffs. We still need energy off the bench, but it needs to be defensive minded. Someone like Matt Barnes or maybe the return of OG “bench-mobber” Mo Evans would be best. I think Turiaf will be resigned, but don’t be surprised if Boston goes after him. He would add size and youthful energy to that aging lineup.

    Finally, I’m looking forward to ’08-’09. I remember back in the Showtime Era when the Lakers lost to Boston in 1984, after getting swept by the Sixers in ’83, there was a lot of doom and gloom. The Lakers were the better team and already had a couple of rings in their pockets, but were turning the lineup over from Wilkes and Nixon to Worthy and Scott and were inconsistent against Boston. The Lakers were thought to be at the end of their run. Very similar to this current version of Lakers if you think about it. Magic and Kareem made the Celtics pay in ’85 and ’87, cementing themselves as the Team of the Decade. I am expecting likewise results for this group.

  • RICH

    i WAS AT GAME SIX…..THE CELTICS FANS HATE ABC …THOUGHT THEY WERE ALL PRO LAKERS….AND THE MAIN TALK WAS THAT THE FINALS WERE AGAINST DETRIOT NOT L.A…..THEY DIDNT SEEM TO THINK OF US AS A THREAT…EVER….I GOT IN A PRETTY DEEP ARGUMENT WITH ONE OF THEM BEFORE THE GAME…..BOY DID I HAVE TO SHUT UP AFTER THE GAME STARTED…I FELT STUPID !!! A TRUE POUNDING!!!!!

  • Chris

    #1. With Bynum back in the picture, they have Much more presence in the paint. Assuming he will become a key contributor on the team, it will give Gasol and Kobe far more opportunities and take some of the heavy burden off their shoulders.
    #2. Gasol is still fairly young and keeps getting better. He needs to spend his off-season time training hard to fit into the power frwrd/center position. His main weakness being…his weakness. Your team NEEDS you to be far more aggressive in the paint. When you are aggressive and playing well, you will garner the attention of the guards who should be looking at your guard wide open for three’s. I don’t care what it takes, get bigger, get meaner.
    #3. They need to keep Odom. He is also young and continues to improve. while he had his moments of weakness in the finals, he was one of the three main reasons they got there. He works well with Kobe and doesn’t mind playing a supporting role.
    #4. The rest. Sasha is a stud, they need him on the team. Competitive, quick, smart, plays great D, makes clutch shots.
    TRADE TURIAF NOW…please. I’ll give him credit, he plays hard….but it takes more than that. Talent, he doesn’t quite have it. Misses key free throws, makes bad fouls, misses too many shots. I saw him make far, far too many glaring errors in the finals…he needs to go while he’s young and can be traded for a decent bench player. While were on the subject, Walton and Vlad are also weak links on the team and should be considered in trade deals.

    I hope the Lakers are reading this or already know this. With a few trades and improvements on their bench and more improvement on their D and passing, I predict them to be dominant for several years and win at least 1-2 more championships in the near future.