Mitch Kupchack has his hands full this off-season.
The Los Angeles Lakers general manager enters an uncomfortable position where his superstar is aging, but young pieces could be the future.
Kobe Bryant, who will be 34 entering next season, averaged 30 points per game in 12 playoff games this season. He won’t be lacking production soon in my opinion and his.
“I’m not fading into the shadows,” Bryant said following the 106-90 Game 5 loss to Oklahoma City.
That doesn’t seem bad, right?
There’s a superstar who is expected to perform at a high level and two seven-foot pieces surrounding him.
Th Lakers’ bench under-performed throughout the season, getting outscored 35-5 in their final showing of the season, and although that needs to be addressed, a major move needs to be made.
And it won’t be easy, but if someone can do it, Kupchak can.
If the Lakers want to win at least one more championship with Bryant as the leader, center Andrew Bynum or power forward Pau Gasol has to move.
And like I said, it will be easier said than done.
Bynum is the choice if the Lakers want value in return. Gasol, who will be 32 beginning next season, will be gotten rid of to negate the $37.7 million he’s owed throughout next season.
I want Bynum out. He will be 24 when the season begins, but he acts like a teenager. He needs to go. Just yesterday I was asked what I thought of Bynum.
I responded with: “I’ve wanted to quit on him before because of maturity issues, but he has one thing Dwight doesn’t: Free-throw shooting. Keep him.”
That was before his post game interview. He told TNT’s Craig Sager that: “It really doesn’t matter to me,” in regard to a long-term contract with the Lakers. “I’ll play anywhere.”
To me, that doesn’t show the desire to wear the purple and gold. He disengages himself when Bryant is in take-over mode. Gasol works with Bryant when he’s in the same mode.
Bryant and Bynum can’t co-exist any longer. Bynum is entering his prime and wants to be the No. 1. Bryant won’t hand the No. 1 over. I’m trading Bryant if I’m Kupchak, so Bynum is out.
Howard is what most NBA fans would expect in return for Bynum. Not me. Part of my prior response holds true. Dwight Howard can’t shoot free throws. That bothers me.
Instead, ESPN analyst Steven A. Smith said it best. The team needs to see what the Brooklyn Nets want for Deron Williams. Go out, offer Bynum and get Williams and Brook Lopez. Williams averaged 21 points per game, but more importantly 8.3 assists.
Lopez averaged 19.3 points per game, but only hauled in 3.6 rebounds despite being seven-feet.
Will the Nets do this? Who knows. Williams needs help or I expect him out. The Lakers would be a major contender with three 20-point scorers and a true point guard.
If Gasol were out of the picture, I see the Lakers building the bench. They won’t be able to get Howard with Gasol.
Instead, they could add pieces a contending team to surround Bryant and Bynum.
Prior to this season’s trade deadline, the Chicago Bulls were interested in Gasol for power foward Carlos Boozer. The Lakers were rumored to be uninterested in Boozer, but with another early exit from the playoffs, who knows what the Lakers are willing to do.
Boozer could be packaged with other players or a third team would have to be involved if the team is still uninterested.
Whether it’s Bynum or Gasol, someone has to give up their purple and gold. The Lakers win and move on with pieces other than Bryant during this era.