Will Lakers fans see a different Andrew Bynum when he returns from his suspension? (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)
How far have the Lakers sunk?
To stave off panic, they're going to have to count on Andrew Bynum returning to them as a grownup.
Scary, I know, but no more frightening than the reaction around here to the Lakers so far. You would think we were living in Nebraska, the sky falling because Big Purple was stinking things up.
The Lakers were 0-2 before getting a gift assignment Tuesday against Utah, a team that really does stink.
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But even in victory the Lakers were brutal to watch, at one point in the second quarter going with Troy Murphy, Jason Kapono, Steve Blake, Josh McRoberts and Ron World Peace. A lineup only their mothers could enjoy.
The outcry in the past few days with the Lakers' poor start has been beyond reality, the language often crude. But from what I can gather by reading email, the Lakers are idiots for playing Derek Fisher.
The Lakers know that. They tried to trade for Chris Paul.
What are they supposed to do now? Start Steve Blake?
They would love to play Deron Williams at point guard, but he's employed by New Jersey. This seems hard for a lot of Lakers fans to absorb — making one wonder if there was a time here when babies were dropped on their heads as some sort of ritual to become a Lakers fan.
The Lakers lost the opener by one to the team with the best record in the league last season and the reigning MVP. And the Lakers were without Bynum.
Yet a columnist in the morning newspaper went frantic in urging the Lakers to add another big-time player, and like now.
What if Kobe hadn't turned over the ball in the final minute or had scored the last basket — the Lakers winning by one?
Would they still need another big-time player, and like now?
A new guy isn't always better. Some folks advocated the trading of Matt Kemp before he matured; now the suggestion is to send Bynum to Boston for point guard Rajon Rondo. That would leave Don Knotts, a.k.a. Pau Gasol, playing center for the Lakers and screaming all night for help.
Steve Mason was talking on the radio, and I'm sorry but you've probably never heard of the guy. His partner is John Ireland; that might help.
Anyway Mason's been leading the hand-wringing, figuring there has to be something more to Lamar Odom's being traded than his going emotional and wanting out.
So what happens? Odom goes to Dallas, is two for 16 shooting, gets thrown out of his first game and is pretty much an emotional mush ball. Some things might be just as they appear, even from the grassy knoll where Mason does his radio show.
OK, so everyone knows the answer is really Dwight Howard, and bring him on whatever it costs.
Well, almost everyone.
"Before I came to this team, looking at Kobe, well, he's Kobe," says Lakers Coach Mike Brown. "But when you look at those two skilled 7-footers — that's what differentiates this team from the rest of the league."
Do you think the Lakers would be better with Gasol, Bynum and Kobe, or just Kobe and Howard? Were you dropped on your head as a child?
Everyone figures Howard wants to be a Laker? What if he doesn't, preferring to be a centerpiece on his own team rather than Kobe's rebounder?
Maybe it has nothing to do with whom the Lakers are willing to give up for Howard. Maybe Howard has let it be known he won't sign a new deal if traded to a team where he's not the star, killing a trade before it can be made. Yikes, I'm beginning to sound like Mason.
Whatever, it's not happening right now for Howard and the Lakers. Live with it.
If the Lakers are going to be successful, they need Bynum playing shoulder-to-shoulder with Gasol and Kobe, making it the Big Three. That would mean Bynum stepping forward as a professional.
I have my doubts. I was in his corner before he went punk in the playoffs, the big baby walking off the court while removing his jersey.
Then he became the walking embodiment of the entitled athlete, twice in a span of two months having his car photographed parked in a handicap spot. Obviously he doesn't care about the rules, civility or what others think. How many times did he park wherever he wanted without being caught?
His childish behavior, leading to his suspension, undoubtedly contributed to the Lakers' troubled start. Brown says the Lakers could very well have been 2-0 with Bynum before playing Utah.
Bynum should be bummed out, embarrassed and certainly motivated; we'll see.
The next time he reacts as if he cares, though, will be his first. He gets more than $11 million this year whether he goes all out or not, and much more for years to come as long as he remains 7 feet tall.
As for being all grown up, we'll see.
Given a pass so far for just being a kid, he's 24 now and beginning his seventh season. He's played in 62 playoff games and been a force at times.
He's the big-time player who can help the Lakers, and like now — beginning Saturday.
Or, it will be time to panic around here.