Now Things Get Serious

Kurt —  June 29, 2007

It was a nice draft for the Lakers.

That’s basically how I’ve felt about most of the personnel moves of the team in the past couple of years — they were nice. Nothing wrong with them, but they certainly weren’t not thrilling or aggressive.

However, come Sunday, the time for something thrilling is upon us.

Back to the draft, Jarvis Crittenton is a quality pick up — yes we have Farmar but is having two young point guards with potential a problem? Let them push each other, let them fight for playing time and may the best player win. (And, by the way, Lakers staff said they are not in the running for the Greek PG.) Crittenton was the best guy left on the board when the Lakers drafted, he was the best choice. And the fact he played the triangle offense in high school gives him a leg up.

Marc Gasol provides potential depth if Kwame and/or Bynum gets traded. Sun Yue is a gamble, but that’s what should be done with second round picks — take a flier and see if it pans out down the line.

While Thursday night may not have been thrilling for Lakers fans, there were a lot of good things that happened (as Reed pointed out in a must-read comment). First and foremost, Kevin Garnett did not get traded. Minnesota did not get the picks and expiring contracts they sought, and now have to rethink their plans. Indiana is in the same boat, still having Jermaine O’Neal and decreasing options.

The Lakers are still in the mix if either of them get moved, and that’s why I say that come July 1 — when free agency opens and sign-and-trade deals can happen — it is the time for something thrilling. Not that the Lakers should overpay, but if a superstar is to be moved the Lakers are in as good a position as any to still be in the mix.

Fans wanted something to happen fast, ideally before the draft. But the Lakers as buyers better understood the market than the sellers. They were right to be patient, let the sellers see that the market is not quite what they thought. Both Minnesota and Indiana are under some pressure to make deals, and while things previously stalled the Lakers need to make sure they stay in the mix as the sellers re-evaluate their options.

What is not an option — based on the comments of Kupchak and Jackson — is trading Kobe. Trading Kobe because he demands it would leave the Lakers with the same problems other sellers face — a market not paying what you’d want in return. The Internet (and the comments of this blog at times) have been awash in Kobe trade scenarios, with most Laker fans thinking they could get a fair deal for Kobe. But right now that is not the case. Trading Kobe this summer, unless a spectacular deal comes out of nowhere, sets this franchise back a decade.

Patience is a hard thing for fans, but the Lakers are in a good position to be aggressive now. They are in a pretty good position in the market to make a move. It is the time to be aggressive — smart, but aggressive. That would be thrilling.