Tuesday, June 16, 2009
OK the Los Angeles Lakers returned to the pinnacle of the basketball world after a seven-year absence with their impressive 4-1 series win over the Orlando Magic. General manager Mitch Kupchak, after a series of questionable decisions over the past few years, compiled a championship team with some shrewd deals such as netting Trevor Ariza from Orlando and Pau Gasol from Memphis.
The most difficult task for a general manager is not building a championship team, however, it's retaining a championship team. And Kupchak has some arduous decisions to make in the next couple of weeks for the Lakers to make a serious run at a repeat. Of course, Kobe Bryant and Gasol will be back, but let's look at the entire roster and the prospect of their return or departure.
Kobe -- Actually folks, he has an opt-out clause this summer but he won't exercise that, so rest easy. He is due $48 million over the next two seasons before free agency. How much should the Lakers pay him in 2011?
Gasol -- He has two more years on his contract at $34-plus million. He will also be a free agent in 2011.
Lamar Odom -- He's a free agent. He's nearly 30. He made $11.4 million last season. Do the Lakers give him a nice raise? No. They can get another solid player with that money who is younger and more consistent.
Derek Fisher -- He has one more year on his deal at $5 million. You let D-Fish come back and then perhaps he retires for a front office job.
Sasha Vujacic -- Wow, he has two more years on his deal at more than $10 million. Is the NBA hiring? He is stealing money. Kupchak has to deal him.
Luke Walton -- Who signed this guy to a six-year deal? By the time his contract is up, Lil Wayne will be Old Jeezy. Nobody is taking on his contract, the Lakers are stuck.
Adam Morrison -- Maybe I am in the serious minority here, but this dude has talent. Give him the summer and a chance to play a role on this team, and he can serve as a valuable asset.
Ariza -- The Lakers need to make him a priority. He doesn't turn 24 until June 30, Kupchak needs to give him a five-year deal at $45 million, and that deal will eventually become a major bargain.
Andrew Bynum -- He is owed $57 million over the next four years. The Lakers are stuck with his deal and has to pray he improves.
Jordan Farmar -- He has one more year on his deal and the Lakers will have to make a decision by Oct. 31 whether to bring him back for 2010-11. I think they should let him go.
Josh Powell -- He is a free agent and actually not a bad player. Give him a slight bump in salary and bring him back.
DJ Mbenga -- He doesn't make much, but the Lakers can find another backup center who is more skilled. Hey he got a championship ring out of the deal.
Shannon Brown -- Dude can ball and I would replace Farmar with him. He is a free agent. Give him $2.5 million per season and let him flourish.
Phil Jackson -- The one thing that motivates Phil is money, offer him a two-year deal with a raise and let him coach Kobe into his mid-30s.
Tell me what you think!