I know I’m going to take some heat for this one (even here at JBH), but hear me out: Monta Ellis is exactly what the Lakers need right now, and should do everything that is reasonable to get him. Why Monta? Let’s take a look at the glaring weaknesses for the Lakers in 2010-2011: lack of athleticism, weak guard play on the offensive and defensive ends, poor bench production. If done correctly, a trade for Monta Ellis could be an answer to all three of those issues.
Let me explain. If we consider that everyone on the Lakers’ roster is one year older, then there is no doubt that the championship window closes after next year, at the latest. At that time, the Lakers will have shed essentially the entire roster, save for Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant, with Lamar Odom‘s contract only partially guaranteed in 2012-2013, and Andrew Bynum up for a contract renewal in the same year. The team would be heavily relying on two aging superstars in Pau and Kobe, and would have nothing left to put around them. So, at the risk of losing some familiarity, if the Lakers go out and get someone young and athletic that can ease the scoring burden on Kobe over the years, and be a reliable #2 option to Andrew Bynum, the Lakers would immediately add some juice to an increasingly disinterested set of veterans, and also return to some of the “Showtime” glory that the Buss’ reportedly are craving since Phil Jax’ slow it down, kill you slowly, style.
Who do you give up? Either Pau or Lamar. Kobe is Kobe and he’s not going anywhere. Andrew Bynum is younger and more dominant than Monta can ever be, and is the kind of guy you trade for Dwight Howard. If you trade Pau you end up with a starting 5 of: Blake/Fisher, Kobe, Ron, Lamar, Bynum, and a second unit of: Fisher/Blake/Brown, Ellis, Barnes, and a yet to be named backup PF and C, but in reality you can put some heavier minutes on Bynum and Odom. That second unit would put great scoring pressure on opposing teams, and would make up for lack of size on the defensive end with better quickness and fast breaks.
If Lamar is the one to be chosen, which is more likely due to his contract situation, then your starting five remains unchanged from this year, you find some depth at the PF position in free agency, and you hope that Pau and Drew can play big minutes to lock down the interior in the second unit. But the most exciting prospect of adding Monta isn’t in the first five minutes of the game, its in the last five minutes. If you believe Mike Brown and his insistence that some elements of the triangle are going to be kept, then this late game rotation would be absolutely unstoppable: Ellis, Kobe, Ron, Pau, Bynum; OR Blake, Ellis, Kobe, Pau, Bynum OR … You see what I’m getting at? Putting Monta at the PG position on this incredibly PG-weak team would open up all kinds of insane options for Mike Brown to play with, and just having him in the line-up would provide Kobe with the ball-handling make-your-own-shot kind of guy he’s been looking for for years.
I’m not saying it would be perfect. And seeing Lamar or Pau go would be painful after the wild success they’ve shared since 2008. But the reality is that the league is getting quicker, in direct response to the Lakers dominating with size. If the Lakers adjust back to add the most dynamic scorer available, well, I think Lakers fans will need to offer up some more cheese.
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