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?