Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban thinks it will take some time for the Lakers… (LM Otero / Associated Press…)
This offseason, the Lakers went from being considered a team that's boring to watch to the team to watch.
They acquired premier point guard Steve Nash and All-Star center Dwight Howard, propelling the team to the forefront of the NBA championship conversation.
The oddsmakers immediately responded, improving the Lakers' odds of winning a championship from 7-1 to 3-1 last month, according to RJ Bell of Pregame.com. That put them squarely behind the Miami Heat, who are favored to repeat with 2-1 odds.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, however, remains skeptical that the Lakers can build the type of chemistry needed for a title run that quickly.
In an interview with sportingnews.com, he explained his rationale.
"The Lakers have done this before," Cuban said. "Remember Gary Payton, Karl Malone and Kobe and Shaq were all together, and it didn't work.
"It takes great chemistry, like [Dallas] coach [Rick Carlisle] alluded to, it takes guys wanting to be there — I don't know if all their guys want to be there — it's going to be interesting.
"Look, [the Lakers are] going to be a great team, but I remember when we made our run. We weren't supposed to win any series. The Lakers were defending champs when we swept them and they had everybody back."
Former Laker great James Worthy also believes that the Lakers will need more time to mature into a championship-caliber team.
"They look better on paper," Worthy said Thursday morning. "They look really good on paper. So does a counterfeit $100 bill until you try to spend it. They have work to do."
Worthy, however, predicted that the Lakers will at least reach the Western Conference Finals. Last season, they were eliminated by Oklahoma City in the conference semifinals, winning only one game in the Thunder's five-game blitz over the 16-time champions.
Kobe Bryant, however, apparently thinks the team is ready to reclaim its dominance over the league.
After all, Nash is a veteran point guard who can command a locker room, and perhaps more importantly, he commands Bryant's respect. Bryant badly wants his sixth ring and has acknowledged that his playing days are winding down. And Howard, a six-time All-Star, wants to prove he's one of the best centers of all time, which would be hard to do without a title behind his name.
On Aug. 10, after Bryant learned that the Lakers had acquired Howard, he posted this to his Facebook wall:
"The Lakers landed a piece that will hopefully carry the franchise long after I'm gone. I have spoken to Dwight Howard already and we are locked and loaded to bring back the title. Wow, what a summer Jimmy [Buss] and Mitch [Kupchak] have had so far. Unreal!"
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