Writers from around the Tribune Co. discuss the Lakers, who are 8-10 overall, 1-5 on the road and tied for 11th in the Western Conference. Check back throughout the day for more responses and join the conversation with a comment of your own.
Ira Winderman, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Who knows? We haven't seen the real Lakers yet.
Until Steve Nash actually plays a game under Mike D'Antoni in Lakers colors, who the Lakers are and what they can be remains an abstract.
This is not LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh working through their growing pains during a 9-8 Heat start to the 2010-11 season. This is a Lakers team that has yet to play a single game intact under the D'Antoni system.
For now, there is nothing but chaos, chaos exacerbated by Pau Gasol's knee issues (banishment?).
Only when Kobe, Pau, Dwight and Nash are together on the court, playing in whatever style D'Antoni is supposed to be delivering, can we appreciate the level of desperation.
The Lakers put this thing together piecemeal, lacking a concrete blueprint, one that continues to be assembled on the fly, perhaps with a Gasol replacement next to parachute in.
Like those Dwight Howard free throws, we have no idea where this is going to land, and we won't until it's whole.
[Updated at 1:09 p.m.: Lisa Dillman, Los Angeles Times
Underwater and sinking fast. Welcome to the injury-riddled, befuddling Lakers season, checking in at an underwhelming 8-10. They opened the 2005-06 season, 9-9, but you have to go all the way back to the 2002-03 campaign to discover such a woeful start after 18 games. That would be 6-12. (At least they recovered to make the playoffs that season, losing to the Spurs in the second round).
Turnovers (an average of 16.3 per game in the Mike D’Antoni era) and trouble seem to lurk around every corner considering that seven of the Lakers' next nine games are on the road and that there is no fixed date for the return of starting point guard Steve Nash. Backup point guard Steve Blake was scheduled to have abdominal surgery Wednesday and won’t be back for at least six to eight weeks. Dwight Howard seems fixed in denial about his considerable free-throw shooting woes.
At least Magic Johnson hasn’t tweeted about the Lakers since Monday morning. Then again, the day is not over yet …
Brian Schmitz, Orlando Sentinel
The best (and worst) thing about an NBA season is that it is 82 games. We figured that by now, the Lakers would just be bored with it all, the only real entertainment provided by Dwight Howard and Jack Nicholson yukking it up.
They'd be largely marking time until the playoffs.
Instead, there has been high drama, coaches coming and going, offenses installed and stalled, Dwight a fright at the line. If Steve Nash had been playing during this slow start, I'd say the Lakers should sound an alarm.
But let's see them after Nash returns from injury in a week or so. The offense will run smoother and Mike D'Antoni will be a much better coach.
K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune
They're in far more trouble than anticipated, but no assessment can be fully completed until Steve Nash gets healthy. Not that Nash is any longer the player who won back-to-back most valuable player awards. But his body of work under Mike D'Antoni can't be ignored. Simply put, he'll make that team better.
It's also logical to assume the Lakers will turn the asset that is Pau Gasol into something that fits better for them with Dwight Howard. Gasol is still a very good player who can net a good player (Josh Smith? Andrea Bargnani?). He just doesn't seem to fit in Laker Land anymore.
The organization is known for making big moves. These initial ones haven't worked to this point. Give it one or two more tweaks until the obituary is written.]
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