Kobe, Phil, and the languishing Lakers
Miraculously, the Los Angeles Lakers, with a win tonight against the Houston Rockets, could finish seventh in the Western Conference. That really shouldn't be considered a miracle. Heading into the season, most people thought the Lakers could compete for a title. Now, most people just hope they qualify for the playoffs.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
But if the Lakers get the seventh seed — and that's a big if — they might actually be able to advance. They would play the San Antonio Spurs — a team that's great in the regular season that has scuffles in the post season. But beyond that it would be a date with the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets have suffered some injuries but were still one of the hottest teams in the NBA down the stretch.
Heading into the off-season, there is plenty to wonder about here. The Lakers don't have Dwight Howard under contract, though many think he will sign. If he doesn't, that will be a huge hole. Even if he does, there are more questions than answers.
Now there's the Kobe Bryant question. Some are suggesting the Lakers should amnesty Kobe, meaning release him. He may or may not be available until mid-season next year, but some have suggested asking him to sit out a year (with no contract) then come back to the Lakers. I doubt Kobe would like that, and it seems more likely he would sign somewhere else...
But even if Kobe does go for it, how does that help the Lakers? Steve Nash and Pau Gasol are under contract for one more year. If that's a lost season, then this whole experiment could end with no titles, the Lakers blown up, and a diminished Kobe playing second fiddle to Howard and the also-ran all stars during the 2015-2016 season. How appealing!
Then there's the fact that Phil Jackson is ready to return to the NBA. Most Lakers fans wanted him to coach the team again this year, but management felt differently. Some think he might get a role in the Front Office with the Lakers, which would be nice, but more likely he wants to coach.
So how's this for a nightmare: Next year Phil Jackson coaching another team, Kobe Bryant playing for another team, and the Lakers limping to a sub-.500 season.
As I said, oh, how the mighty have fallen.