No need to worry about who gets bumped off the roster when Karl Malone comes back — he’s not.
Malone’s agent, Dwight Manley, took time out of his busy afternoon schedule to get interviewed on virtually every radio station in Southern California and say that if Malone is coming back, it won’t be with the Lakers. He said that Malone felt “broad-sided” and “disrespected” by Kobe’s comments yesterday that he didn’t know, but if he had to guess Malone wasn’t coming back, and that it was unfair for the existing team members to have that have this hanging over their head.
Sounds to me like someone was looking for a way out.
As I have said before, I think Malone not coming back is good thing long-term for the Lakers — he was a short-term fix for the Lakers’ long term problems inside.
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 the short term, this is going to make it tougher for the Lakers to make the playoffs this season — they are still weak on the inside. Right now the Lakers have Mihm and a bunch of guys (Odom, Cook et al) who are big men who like to play on the perimeter (hopefully the return of a healthy Brian Grant can fix some of that in the short term).
What the Lakers need to find is a long-term fix.
Update: As you would expect, this is getting beaten into the ground this morning on both radio and in the newspapers. (It bothers me I agree most with T.J. Simers.)
Here’s the bottom line to me: Why did Malone come to the Lakers last season? He wanted a ring. Was he going to get a ring with the Lakers this season? No. Was he looking for a way out of saying he would play here? Yes. Do I expect him to sign with San Antonio or some other contender? Probably.