Expectations haven't been this low since the Lakers had a point guard named Smush.
If the Lakers put their hands together and broke huddles by chanting "Championship" last season, what's the phrase going to be the next seven months? "Eighth seed?"
"I guess you would say there is a little bit of an underdog tag on us, low expectations," General Manager
Pau Gasol hasn't gone anywhere, but he'll have to stand his ground as the last line of defense without Howard hovering behind him.
Steve Blake remains on the roster, but do you care?
Perhaps the only hope these Lakers have is to overachieve as much as last season's presumed title contenders underachieved.
"I think they'll respond to Dwight's departure, to all the criticism they took last year, to being underdogs,"
"I think they can maybe compete for that last playoff spot, but defensively they've got some real issues. To lose Dwight and his rebounding and rim protection — and who knows with Kobe [possibly being out at the start of the season] — I think they're going to have their struggles."
Bryant was expected to make it back from the United Arab Emirates in time Saturday to provide an update on his status. But even if he returns by the Oct. 29 opener against the
Everything else is a question mark in 100-point type.
Will Bryant, 35 and beginning his 18th NBA season, possess the same explosiveness? Will he take the breaks necessary to preserve his body? Will he revert to the pass-first mode that was so effective late last season if it's what this team needs to win?
"I think he's at the point of his career where he's got to say, 'OK, I can still be extremely effective, but I have to let some of these younger players develop,' because they're going to need a collective effort, no question," said
"When they really need Kobe down the stretch in the fourth quarter, he can still rise to the occasion, but I think he might be fooling himself if he thinks he can just come off an Achilles' injury in his 18th year and try to dominate."
The Lakers smartly got younger and more athletic with the additions of
Farmar also provides a stronger defensive presence at point guard than Nash does, meaning Farmar could play extra minutes against super-quick counterparts
Gasol will be free to roam the interior now that Howard is gone, wiping out Gasol's biggest gripe from recent seasons. He'll also probably play more in fourth quarters, allowing him to put on his big-boy pants at the end of games.
Worthy said a full training camp under D'Antoni and the addition of
Of course, Worthy may be outnumbered by the doubters whose expectations aren't nearly as lofty.
"That's something you need to feed off, especially when people underestimate you," Young said. "If they come to the
The Lakers could be hearing it on an almost nightly basis.