Why the L.A. Lakers are in trouble

By: Nick Solari


There is no team in basketball with more pedigree than the Lakers. Because of the likes of Magic, Wilt, Kobe, West, Kareem, and countless others fans all around the country are accustom to seeing their team near the top.

So maybe this is why six games into an 82 game marathon people are demanding answers. After a 1-4 start, which has since improved to 3-4 with the latest win over the Kings (Yay?), individuals all over the country are left scratching their heads. We live in a modern sports era of the here and the now, and the media in a city like L.A. don’t just sit back and give the home team time to figure things out before they start criticizing, even if the fans do.

The Lakers have not been on the same page this season. (Getty Images)

So is it time to panic? Let’s dig deep into the heart of the problem.

When Mike Brown took the job in L.A. he mentioned there would be some growing pains. In fact, he said the team wouldn’t hit full stride until the second half of the season. He might be right, but we know one thing for sure: it will not be under his watch.

Brown was fired only a handful of games into his new gig. After a disastrous 1-4 start, with the only win coming at home against the Pistons, and a failed attempt to run his Princeton style offense with a star-studded starting lineup, Brown was let go for what is likely soon to be the familiar face of good old Phil Jackson.

So in the end, feelings ignored, the Lakers got exactly what they wanted. Jackson and his 11 rings as an NBA coach will be back in control of the Lake Show. “Showtime” is back. Or is it?

Is it totally fair to blame Mike Brown for all of the failure that has happened so far with the Lakers? After an 0-8 start in the preseason the Lakers lost to the Mavericks without Dirk, gave up 90 points to just four different players in a loss to Portland, were defeated by the Clippers in front of a national audience, and lost to the lowly Utah Jazz. How can this all be a coaches fault?

Though many wishful thinkers who have been taking in too much sun want to blame the majority of this train-wreck on the ex-coach, it really should serve as a warning of what may be to come.

Let’s start with the injuries/age factor. Newly acquired 38-year-old point guard Steve Nash is already dealing with a slight fracture in his left leg. Nash, who looked a step slower in his two games before the injury, is going to miss AT LEAST one more week. Is he going to miraculously become Steve Nash of old upon his return?

How about the back of Dwight Howard? Who’s to say that he will hold up over the course of a grueling season out West?

Then you have the usual for Kobe, dealing with and, of course, playing through various aches and pains that come with his now-17 season career. Isn’t it a little too early for this?

The bigger picture to all of the injuries for the Lakers is much deeper than simply not having these players at 100% on the court. What it means is that L.A. will be forced to use their bench more. Now who has the problem, Houston?

When your bench is led by Antawn Jamison, Jordan Hill, Darius Morris, and Steve Blake, you had better hope those aging stars stay healthy. This is not a Laker team who can bring instant scorers or lock down defenders in midway through the first period to stop the bleeding anymore.

So we have a 36-year-old who hasn’t played a full season in five years, a center who played all of seven games last year, a guard who averaged all of 2.4 points in the 19 games he played in as a rookie, and Steve Blake. This is the bigger problem for the Lakers.

However, there is no need to panic with the starting unit on L.A. So long as they stay healthy, the Nash-Bryant-Peace-Gasol-Howard unit will be just fine. But even if they are fine, you need some kind of contribution from at least one or two guys off the pine.

So can the aging stars stay healthy? Can Phil win with this bench? Can the Lakers make a run at another title?

Only time will tell…



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