Karl Malone was on the radio today saying he is physically ready to play, but is still working on getting mentally 100% ready after the death of his mother. I hope he he can work through this and, when ready, return to the NBA if he feels he can still contribute.
Malone also said he was looking at the Lakers and seeing where he would best fit. I hope he looks closely, because I think he’d fit best somewhere else — bringing him into the Laker mix will stunt this team’s growth.
We’re talking about a 41-year-old player coming of knee surgery who didn’t run the court all that well the past couple of years anyway, that spent his career on teams that wanted to play half-court basketball. That is not this Laker team.
Yes, he can still score. Yes, he is still a strong presence inside and will grab rebounds. Yes, he is a veteran presence in the locker room. After years of disliking him and the Jazz, he has grown on me after just a season in a Laker uniform (maybe because he could be counted on to show up and play hard every game last year, something no one else seemed able to do).
But this is a young Laker team that needs to learn to gel on and off the court, that wants to play an uptempo style, that needs to grow into being Kobe’s team. While Malone would not be a negative addition short term he is really a detour on the road to long-term success for this team, in reaching the goals listed above.
If Karl is serious about coming back to get a ring before heading off to the Hall of Fame, he should play half a season in San Antonio this year. There are plenty of other places he could fit in as well (Utah?).
But for the Lakers, this is a poor fit.