The Lakers are a team in transition. From the moment they got swept by the Mavericks in the playoffs, throwing punches on their way out, you knew change was coming. Phil Jackson was walking away at the end of the season so the team would need a new coach. They selected Mike Brown, a defensive specialist, without consulting Kobe Bryant. We have said that the Lakers are still a championship team and that they just need a few pieces to get back to the Finals. Apparently there is a different mentality on the inside.
Veteran Lakers reporter Roland Lazenby wrote on HoopsHype.com that the Lakers have become Andrew Bynum’s team. Even though it was fairly easy to see that Bynum was becoming a key component of the franchise, it’s still a pretty shocking thing to read, especially for a team that still has Kobe Bryant.
Lazenby writes about the Lakers “The message is clear: Brown is Bynum’s coach, and the team belongs to the young center as well.”
“It’s obvious that that is what’s going on,” said one longtime Lakers insider. “Jim Buss is setting up Drew.”
As I said, we’ve realized that things were moving in this direction. However, it’s still shocking to read that this transition is happening earlier than expected.
If anyone will be resisting this movement (besides half the fans in LA), you know it’s Kobe Bryant. As recently as May he was quoted as saying he’s still the top priority in the Lakers’ offense and that Bynum will have to fall in line.
The Lakers may still compete for championships the next two seasons, but you better believe there will be a conflict over who really controls the team. If there’s anything the past has taught us, it’s that we shouldn’t expect Kobe and his ego to back out.
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