Phil Jackson will be back as coach, which is good. But the Lakers signed Ron Artest from the Rockets and let Trevor Ariza go to the Rockets, which is bad. I tried to say so on a Lakers blog yesterday, but my post apparently didn't make some sort of cut. So it was left to a LA Times regular columnist to make precisely the points I did, with the same memory: the attempt of a championship team to augment with Big Names past their prime (Karl Malone, Gary Payton). Besides which Payton was an asshole, and so is Artest.
The rationale might be buttressing the "physical" element (i.e. the muscling, pushing around, flying elbows, etc.) for the finals next year. The Eastern contenders have strengthened themselves since the end of the season: Cleveland, Orlando and Boston. The Lakers may not even be tested much in the West, but it's going to be very competitive among these three teams in the East. The Lakers will have to be plenty tough to beat the winner, because the winner from the East is going to be plenty tested.
It also looks like either the Lakers management screwed up, or Ariza's manager is an asshole, or most likely both. So this past year's Lakers may be its team for the ages, particularly with its team play and various players rising to the occasion. Ariza thrived as a Laker and was likely a big star in their future. In the NBA anything can happen, and he could wind up back in LA, though he has a three year contract in Houston. Artest may be popular with a certain segment of the Lakers fan base. But not with me.
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