The mistake was the D'Antoni hire. Up until that point, the front office were hitting home runs.
If someone told me two year ago that the 2013 Lakers would have Kobe Bryant, Paul Gasol and...Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Jordan Hill, Earl Clark, Antoine Jamison, and Jodie Meeks. I would call the front office brilliant.
This is no longer about needing to add talent (yes...even a wing player better than MWP should not be necessity on this team), teams have won Championships will lesser talent. The rosters that helped Kobe get his two Rings post-Shaq had less talent than this roster.
The problem is not talent. The problem is that the coach and his system are all wrong. When the coach is forcing players into a system...it works great for less talented players. But, for talent-laden rosters, unless the system plays to their natural basketball talents, its the wrong system and will do nothing but lessen the potential greatness of the player and the team. Plainly speaking, the superstars struggle and good players look very bad.
Even if the players were latching onto D'Antoni's offensive coaching style/system, Championships are usually won with defense. The Chicago Bulls dominated on defense just like the Miami Heat did last year. Their offense lives off their defense and it produces excellent results in the standings. Examples of the importance of defense are everywhere today. The Knicks would not be serious contenders if they hadn't started playing defense, same with the Clippers, Thunder, Heat, etc.
It all starts with defense and the Lakers have none.
How would I get this team back on track?
- Swallow your pride and fire D'Antoni immediately. Take the massive media hit and ridicule that will follow. Get a coach like Jerry Sloan who preaches defense, is a strict coach, and had success with old school PGs (Stockton) and will pick & roll you to death. Forget Phil, not happening.
- Do not even think for a second of trading Dwight Howard.
- Do not trade Pau Gasol unless you get a solid starter at your weakest position (wing/perimeter player to replace MWP AND a potential future PG for Nash to groom).
- Trade for a couple of shooters (even if they are one dimensional).
Dwight, Clark, Smith, Kobe, Nash...is an awesome starting five in the right system...because outside of Nash, that is one hell of a defensive lineup.