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Superman heads to Hollywood, as LA eyes a title…

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August 13, 2012

A few months ago after a disappointing loss to the Thunder in 5 games, Kobe Bryant expressed the desire to win both he and ownership shared. “I’m not fading into the shadows. I’m not going anywhere. We’re not going anywhere… Come hell or high water, we’re going to be there again.  There’s just something about the Lakers organization… Management has done a phenomenal job, scouting has done a phenomenal job, and they will again.”  Months later, Bryant’s comments came to fruition.  GM Mitch Kupchak pulled off another series of brilliant trades.  The Lakers essentially traded Lamar Odom (trade exception), Andrew Bynum and draft picks for Steve Nash, Chris Duhon, Earl Clark, and Dwight Howard.  Not to mention picking up Antawn Jamison via free agency to bolster the bench.  These moves have catapulted LA into championship contention.   Quite a recovery from the failed trade a year ago that nearly landed Chris Paul due to “basketball reasons.”

            This by any means doesn’t anoint the Lakers a title next year.  They still have plenty of work to do.  The Heat will be as strong as ever following this year’s championship run.  A healthy D. Wade, Chris Bosh, and addition of Ray Allen will make them a formidable foe in the Eastern Conference.  The Finals runner up Thunder will also be a year older and wiser.  OKC’s trio of Durant, Westbrook, and Harden will surely continue to give the Lakers fits.  The Spurs, Celtics, and Clippers will also be strong contenders.

            The Lakers are now in title or bust mode.  A 38-year-old Steven Nash is searching for his 1st ring, while 33-year-old Kobe Bryant is searching for his 6th.  And 3 time DPOY Dwight Howard will definitely bolster the defense, especially in the pick and roll.   Steve Nash was make there offense more potent in the transition and in pick and roll.  Kobe’s job just got a heck of a lot easier.  He won’t have to worry about handling the ball as much and will receive more open looks.  Pau Gasol will also benefit from these signings.  After looking lost at times in Mike Brown’s new offense, Nash will provide Gasol with plenty of easy buckets.  Jamison will be the team’s wild card next year.  He averaged 17 ppg last year for the Cavaliers, and if he can duplicate last year’s production he will provide a huge spark off the bench.

            Time will tell if Kobe Bryant will ever hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy again… Can Dwight resist Hollywood’s bright lights or will he focus on winning?  Will Nash maintain his play at a high level despite being 38?  Will Kobe be willing to step back and allow others to make plays?  Can Mike Brown successfully manage the new egos?  The LA Lakers temporarily stole the spotlight from the Olympics, but will they be able to halt the Heat’s quest for a repeat?  We will find out come October…

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