The season seems so long ago. Without constant NBA basketball material to stimulate my mind, I've resorted to occupying my time with things like Bomberman Ultra, Warcraft 3, Soju Town, actual basketball with friends, even some GRE vocab antonyms! Maybe I can finally move on with my life.
Obviously I'm being facetious. Move on from my NBA obsession? Let's get real. Here are the Laker exit interview post-interviews: http://www.nba.com/lakers/news/09_exit_interviews_central.html
Phil - He will get some medical advice in the coming weeks. Based on these and his personal feelings, he'll decide if he will return for his optional second year to coach our team.
Obviously having the greatest coach of all time on our bench would dramatically improve our title defense chances. At the same time, I wouldn't want Phil to do anything that might harm himself. He's already done so much for this team; if he feels he needs to hang up the sneakers (is that a proper phrase?), he should.
Kobe - ESPN reported, with a tremendously sensational title, that "Kobe pledges future to NBA champion Lakers." I think he did a little less than "pledge" his future to this team. Obviously he wants to stay. Obviously being a champion on arguably the greatest NBA franchise is a fantastic situation to be in. Obviously he wants to make money. Are we together on that all of these facts are obvious?
Kobe has the option to play another year (or two?) with our team with his current contract. He can also opt out, either signing a new contract with LAL or some other team. It seems, with our recent history, that the team likes to retain players that they like (see: Luke Walton, Andrew Bynum). I'm guessing that whether Kobe opts out (he probably won't) or gets to free agency next year, the Lakers will have a fantastic contract waiting for him. He's right. He's "not going anywhere."
Unrestricted free agents - Odom, Ariza, Brown
Lamar and Trevor - It would be great to keep our core together. Odom didn't start the majority of games, but he ended all of them. Ariza grew into the starting role with improved jumper and continued defensive effort. Both players have shockingly indicated their desire to remain on the team, with Lamar notoriously known to hate warm weathered cities and Trevor's distaste for all things Los Angeles.
If we can't bring both back, there are numerous arguments on whether Lamar or Trevor make the most sense for the team. Ariza starts, Odom comes off the bench. But both play at the end of games, with Bynum sitting. The starter-bench issue is really no issue at all.
What concerns me are Bynum and Luke's contracts. Both players have guaranteed contracts til the 2011-2012 season, with Luke guaranteed til 2013 and the team having an option on Bynum for another year. Pau is locked in til 2010-11. That translates to our starting center and power forward being set for at least two more years. Bynum is 21. The Lakers have plans for him to be our center for a while. He isn't going to 12, 13, 15, and 16 million to play 10 minutes a game and sit in crunch time. And last I checked, Pau starts at PF and plays more than anyone on our team. What does this all mean? Lamar is more expendable. It hurts to say it, because it isn't true from a basketball standpoint. He can stretch the floor with his jumpshot, rebound like a monster, and run point. Lamar is expendable in terms of team make up. We have Josh Powell and Mbenga able to knock down some shots as bench big men.
Now take a step back. Why did I mention Luke's contract? Because Luke and Trevor share a position. Both players act like glue when on the floor, plugging up holes and facilitating our offense with passing or shooting. Since Luke stands to be around for a while, and has started for us many times, it would stand to reason that Trevor is also expendable.
Shannon Brown? An afterthought. We'll sign him if we have some pennies left over.
If the Lakers don't resign both Lamar and Trevor, is there one of them we should go after specifically? Definitely a tough call. Can we bring Morrison and Sun Yue into legitimate players? Morrison's known to be able to knock down his share of outside shots, which may give him a bench SF spot, with Luke as starter. As Phil liked to do, if Pau plays center with Bynum on the bench, who can slide into the PF spot? As much as I like DJ and JP, they don't give me what Lamar gives. To that end, I think it is much more important to resign LAMAR ODOM than Trevor. I'd like to see some progress from Drew, playing more minutes and staying out of foul trouble. Then maybe can actually see some Drew-Lamar out on the floor, instead of the Pau-to-center switch that gave Pau too many minutes.
To summarize, let me restate my point. OUR NUMBER 1 RE-SIGN PRIORITY IS LAMAR ODOM.