The Lakers aren't good. They won 27 games with a depleted roster last season and it's hard to imagine the old guys pulling it together magically this season.
But, that hasn't kept Lakers management from thinking big. Too big. Teams like this year's Lakers should try to sit quiet and sneak up on people.
Instead, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak spoke like a guy whose team wasn't 14th place in the Western Conference last season when he spoke with the Los Angeles Times recently.
"Our expectations are to win a championship. I know that sounds . . ." Kupchak told the Times on Friday. "Expectations outside of this room might not be the same."
And they shouldn't be.
Reason for optimism?
Having Steve Nash back, at age 40, shouldn't be a big reason for optimism. He's here to collect one last big check before retirement, when we'll probably see him on the sideline coaching.
You would think. But, this summer, Nash told reporters the opposite. “I’m not necessarily interested in coaching at this point in my life,” Nash said. “I would never say never, but it’s not on my radar right now.”
A little weird, but OK.
The obvious big question mark is Kobe Bryant, who can still be one of the league's best when healthy. But is he truly healthy? Can he stay that way for a full season?
I'm skeptical, you should be too. The only people who aren't are Lakers fans and apparently the Lakers' GM, who confirmed Kobe's lost between 10 and 12 pounds from last season.
"I think he's going to have an excellent year. He's been working every day. I get reports. I've seen him personally. I know he's working and speaking with [Coach] Byron [Scott] on a daily or semi-daily basis," Kupchak said. "He's going to play differently than he played 10 years ago, maybe not so different than what he played two or three years ago. I think he'll be very effective. I'm not going to predict what his statistics will be but . . . if we needed 30 from him or 35 one night, I think he can get it."
What else has changed?
While, for one there's Carlos Boozer. But there's a reason the Bulls wanted to get rid of him and add Pau Gasol. Quite simply, Gasol is an upgrade.
Then, there's Jeremy Lin. He'll sell tickets, but he won't make the Lakers a contender. Then you have Jordan Hill, Nick Young, Robert Sacre, Julius Randle ….You can tell already.
There's one team to watch and one team to consider a contender in L.A. this year. But it's the Clippers, not the Lakers.
New big names?
The reality is, the Lakers now need their next big thing. The next Kobe, the next Shaq, the next Magic, the next Kareem.
Right now, they don't have that. L.A. is a town that needs a star. The Lakers went after LeBron and Carmelo Anthony this offseason and came away empty-handed. No one was surprised, not even the Lakers' GM.
"Our expectations with either player just based on what we perceived the environment to be . . . we never felt it was realistic that we could get one or [both]," Kupchak said. "But if you don't try you don't know.
"We'll get somebody. At some point we will."
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