How Can Lakers Get Back To The Top?
They Wanted Kevin Love But that's Over
By Mitch Chortkoff
Now that the Clippers have a new owner, a proven outstanding coach and two of the NBA's best players they seem equipped for an outstanding season.
Where does that leave the Lakers, who were targeting Kevin Love until he decided to sign a five-year contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers?
The Lakers made a run at Carmelo Anthony this summer but were saving salary cap money for next summer's free a agent class, led by Love, the former UCLA star.
They were counting on Love desiring a return to the West Coast after he couldn't get the Minnesota Timberwolves into the playoffs year after year.
Several Laker insiders told me Love would likely come here. But they didn't take into consideration that winning is the most important goal of most elite players.
These Laker insiders didn't take into consideration the Lakers finished 15th among the 16 Western Conference teams last season.
To elite players that's more important than the Lakers' proud history with 16 championships.
Among the many Laker people I've talked to recently is Randy Pfund, who was Pat Riley's assistant coach on championship teams and the Lakers' head coach for a couple of years before joining Riley in Miami as general manager.
Pfund now lives in Chicago but still cares about the Lakers.
"I don't know how they're going to get back into championship contention," he said. "I think Byron Scott is a good choice as coach but there are so many quality teams in the Western Conference."
I agreed with Pfund. Kobe Bryant's playing career is likely to end in two years. Love will be playing in Cleveland. What then?
I think Laker fans can count on improvement this season but only so far. Can the Lakers make the top eight to earn a playoff berth? Maybe, but a deep run in the playoffs is unlikely.
At this very early date an NBA Final between San Antonio and Cleveland seems probable.
Once the Cavaliers acquired James they decided to make a championship run. They're in position to make it happen. The Lakers aren't.
So when LeBron James signed with Cleveland and the Cavaliers eyed Love as an ideal teammate the Lakers' chanced vanished.
I consider Lovd one of the five best players in the NBA He averaged 25 ppg last season, he's a good rebounder and he throws one of the best long distance outlet passes of any player in NBA history.