“Not all that glitters is gold.”
The season from hell is over. The drama has ceased. All that’s left is ruble. But for the sake of discussion, let’s run it back.
The 2012-13 season for the Los Angeles Lakers was one filled of suspense and just plain bad luck. Before the season started, the Lakers were 13/5 odds to win the title, second only to the Miami Heat. ESPN had 25 of their 35 analysts predict the Lakers to represent the West in the NBA Finals. Who can blame them? After acquiring Steve Nash in a sign-and-trade deal with Phoenix, LA pulled off a 4-team blockbuster deal that brought Dwight Howard to Southern California. With four potential Hall-of-Fame caliber players, including Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, the Lakers were a lock to do damage. Or so it seemed.
A sluggish start to the season saw Mike Brown relieved of his duties as head coach after only five games. Talks of the possible return of Phil Jackson swirled in the national media until the announcement of Mike D’Antoni put the kabosh on it. Since then it has been a season fueled by speculation and attention. “Will the Lakers make the playoffs?” “Are Kobe and Dwight are odds with each other?” “Will Pau Gasol be traded?” All questions that were heard a multitude of times throughout this season.
You can’t say it was all about the play between these players. They barely played with one another. According to 82games.com, the starting five of Howard, Bryant, Gasol, Nash and Metta World Peace managed to play 189 minutes together. That barely equals four full games. Howard has been recovering from back surgery that he underwent in the offseason, Nash has dealt with hip and back problems on and off. Gasol tore his plantar fascia. To cap it all off, Bryant tears his Achilles heel to end his season. Maybe it was not meant to happen.
Not everything was bad. Bryant had one of the most productive seasons in his career. Averaging 27.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg and 6 apg, one could argue he played his best during his 17th season. Sure defensively he didn’t give a damn but what he did carry his team offensively, against all odds.
They made the playoffs. Don’t really think that means anything when you get swept in the first round but they made it. Game 4 was just a microcosm for the season as a whole, being forced to start Darius Morris, Earl Clark and NBA D-League MVP Andrew Goudelock. Everything that could go wrong for the Lakers did. They were left with their hopes and dreams in hand as they walked off the Staples Center floor for the final time this season.
The Lakers caused a ripple effect in the league that can be felt this season and quite possibly for seasons to come. As far as this season goes, one could say the Lakers were the losers of the Howard trade.
Never fully healthy, struggling throughout the season, Howard just didn’t have a great season as we’ve seen him have in the past. Denver got Andre Iguodala, a player who fits great in the system of Run-&-Gun for the Nuggets. Orlando was able to do everything they needed for the future. The Magic got pieces that can be sold to the fanbase (Nikola Vucevic, Arron Afflalo, Moe Harkless and draft picks) all while achieving the worst record to secure the best odds at the number one pick in the draft. Philadelphia is the only team that can feel worse about this trade, not seeing Andrew Bynum play a single minute of game time in a 76ers jersey due to knee injuries.
The offseason brings a lot of questions for LA. How much does Kobe have left in the tank? Can he come back healthy? Will Howard resign? Has Gasol seen his final game as a Laker? Do the Lakers use their amnesty provision?
The Lakers have many questions to answer but one thing is certain; they will be ever-present in our NBA daily lives this summer.