Phil Jackson has said he is not the panacea for the Lakers, which, if true, means their roster better be a cure-all if well-being is to be achieved.
Changes will come in Tuesday's draft -- the Lakers hold three of the top 39 picks -- but the majority of the team is expected to remain intact, leaving some players as losers and others as winners in Jackson's grand scheme.
For example, Jackson's hiring was bad news for point guard Chucky Atkins, who struggled defensively last season and, at 5 feet 11, is several inches shorter than the long, athletic types the coach likes to work with.
Jackson's second coming is good news, however, for Lamar Odom, whose potential has already been pinpointed by the coach.
And then there is Kobe Bryant, the unequivocal center of an offense without a proven presence down low. Jackson will try to get Bryant to play unselfishly, an experiment that turned out all right when he tried it years ago with Michael Jordan.
Jackson will need Bryant to trust teammates. Jordan ultimately did, but Bryant had trouble doing so last season.
In Jackson's first tour with the Lakers, Bryant played a lot of point guard, the so-called "initiator" in Jackson's offense. This time, however, that role is likely to go to the 6-10 Odom, whose days as a power forward may be over. Odom said last week he planned on "taking back my claim as the league's most versatile player," and he will get every chance to prove he can be the next Scottie Pippen, already somewhat of a cliche in L.A.
Forward Caron Butler was one of the team's most consistent players toward the end of last season, averaging 21.9 points over the last 15 games, but his stock could decline slightly because his defense was shaky.
Cluttering the mix at small forward is Devean George, who struggled last season and never seemed fully recovered from ankle surgery. But Jackson has a comfort zone with players he knows and George, who started 19 of 22 playoff games for Jackson in 2004, is a better defender than Butler, an important attribute in Jackson's system.
Jackson declined to comment on specific roster questions, deferring through a team spokesman to General Manager Mitch Kupchak.
"I think it's fair to say that Phil may be familiar with [his former players] a little bit more than he was with the other players," Kupchak said. "He knows what they can or cannot do. They'll have an advantage. Would it be a great advantage? I would say no."
Center Chris Mihm saved his best for first: He had 23 points and 12 rebounds in the Lakers' season opener against the Denver Nuggets but beat those numbers in a game only one other time. He can knock down outside shots and can work on the wing, but he has to stay out of foul trouble and improve his hand-eye coordination -- dropped passes in the post are unacceptable to Jackson.
As for the veteran post players, Jackson said last month that Brian Grant and Vlade Divac each "didn't earn his lunch money."
Divac played only 15 games and averaged 2.3 points because of back problems. Grant, who will receive $29.7 million over the next two seasons, averaged 3.8 points and 3.7 rebounds because of knee and shoulder problems.
Divac could be brought back for $5.4 million for one year or could be bought out for about $2 million, a decision that Kupchak said would come next week. Divac is an exceptional passer, an important attribute for the triangle offense, but his balky back and hefty contract are negatives. The Lakers also have the option of buying him out, waiving him and then trying to re-sign him for the veteran's minimum of about $1.5 million if he clears waivers, a move that would save almost $2 million toward the salary cap.
Jackson needs something out of Grant because, unlike Divac, Grant cannot be bought out and sent away. Jackson would like to get about 22 productive minutes a game out of Grant, a number that falls between the 16.5 minutes he averaged last season and the 30.3 minutes he averaged in 2003-04, his last season with the Miami Heat.
Neither of the younger forwards, Luke Walton and Brian Cook, made a sizable leap in his second pro season, but Walton's stock will improve faster than Cook's if he is re-signed. Jackson was intrigued by Walton, who played 72 games in 2003-04 as a rookie, a rarity in Jackson's world. Walton is a restricted free agent.
Cook, who played only 35 games as a rookie under Jackson, needs to get stronger and prove he can play around the basket.
He will be pushed for playing time by Slava Medvedenko, who fell off the map as soon as Jackson left town. Medvedenko signed a two-year, $6 million contract last summer to stay with the Lakers and then averaged 3.8 points and played in only 43 games. Teammates were also annoyed that he shot too often: He had only 13 assists last season.