So I’ve been looking for something new and exciting to write about ever since I kind of gave up on my”Legend of the Week” segment (remember that)? I’ve decided to analyze certain situations that have happened over the years, or didn’t happen, and elaborate on how I think everything would be different. Sound good?…and no, I’m not doing the first one on the failed lottery when the Celtics could have gotten Timmy D. (I do recommend you read that Sporting News article though. It’s pretty good.)
What if the Lakers traded for Jermaine O’Neal instead of Pau Gasol?
Man oh man. Imagine if this trade went down? What would be the state of the Lakers right now? Jermaine O’Neal has been one of the most injury prone and least effective centers in the league since those rumors circulated. Here’s a few scenarios that could have possibly happened.
Scenario 1: The Lakers make that trade, giving up Lamar Odom, Sasha Vujacic, and Jordan Farmar. So the starting lineup for the Lakers that year would have been Derek Fisher, Kobe, Trevor Ariza I believe, Jermaine O’Neal and Kwame Brown? Vladimir Radmonavic? Luke Walton? Maybe they would have signed a veteran like P.J. Brown or someone, but either way…that team is not reaching the NBA Finals. After another injury plagued O’Neal season, Kobe demands a trade, or another superstar…again. Do the Lakers attempt to rebuild by trading their perennial all star? I don’t buy it. I bet they package Bynum, O’Neal’s expiring contract, and a couple other pieces for a superstar named…Amar’e Stoudemire. Kobe and Amar’e become a dynamic duo, but their lack of depth will kill them for the next couple of years. So basically what this comes down to is, the Lakers would not be chasing a three peat this season because they overpaid for Jermaine O’Neal instead of waiting to essentially steal Pau Gasol from Memphis.
Scenario 2: Jermaine is actually effective. He thrives playing with Kobe and loves being his wing-man. There’s even talk about those two forming the better “Kobe-O’Neal” duo. This team is still not deep enough to cause too much damage, so they exit in the second round of the playoffs. That is actually encouraging news for Laker fans, considering they got knocked out in the first round the year before. They are optimistic that when Bynum comes back next season they could have an even deeper run in the playoffs. After several early playoff exits, Jermaine finally breaks down and now the Lakers are left stranded with just Kobe and friends again. This doesn’t sit well with Laker fans and, currently in the 2010-11 season, the Lakers are hoping to bank in on a top free agent this summer. They were also deep in the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes, but he still preferred New York because Amar’e is younger then Kobe.
Bonus Scenario 3: The Lakers don’t make a deal for O’Neal or Gasol. Instead, they acquire…Kevin Garnett. Don’t forget, this was a strong possibility before Boston got him. Now, if this happened things would get all sorts of crazy. LA would probably be in generally the same state that they are in now….that is, a championship or two and a leading candidate to repeat. But as for the Celtics? We would be a mess. We definitely wouldn’t have traded for Ray, but the big question is..where would Paul Pierce be? Don’t forget, Pierce was coming off several sluggish seasons, including an injury played 2006-07, so who knows what we actually would have gotten. But aside from Pierce, the Celtics core would be Jeff Green, Al Jefferson, Rajon Rondo, Delonte West, Kendrick Perkins and Ryan Gomes. They could have still made a deal for a superstar…maybe even O’Neal…but my guess would be that we would have traded Pierce for some draft picks and a couple young players. I don’t see Rondo developing like he has without the big three. Same with Perkins. Maybe we send Pierce to Dallas for Devin Harris and a pick. That could be a promising young core, but we certainly would not be a title contender now, or four years ago. Knowing our recent history, Ainge probably would have given up on some of the youngsters after several frustrating years. I could go on for days about this. But basically, getting the big three has been unbelievable and we should not take these years for granted.
But back to the Lakers. Funny how this video…
Turned into this video….
God dammit. We could be looking at a four-peat. Probably not…but maybe.