They have to get one or the other.
Adding just side pieces isn’t going to get it done. They need a bonafide star to team with Kobe Bryant. Andrew Bynum in my opinion isn’t that guy. He is a very good player, but to win championships you need another star and solid role players.
The Kobe, Gasol & Bynum threesome has hit its peak so it is time to make a move and it appears the Lakers are trying to figure out a way to do that.
Bryant, according to numerous sources who spoke with Howard, sent a not-so-subtle message to the Magic big man that he would be welcome as long as he was willing to play third fiddle behind Kobe and power forward Pau Gasol. So the trade talks never heated up and Howard, after much vacillation, eventually exercised his $19.5 million option for next season.
But the dynamic has changed, and it’s one of shared desperation at this point. Both Howard (whose Magic have lost in the first round two consecutive years, the latest with him sidelined because of back surgery) and Bryant (whose Lakers have back-to-back second-round exits) need each other now more than ever. Howard, 26, an eight-year veteran, is still searching for his first title, having fallen to Bryant’s Lakers in his only NBA Finals appearance, in 2009. The 33-year-old Bryant, defiant, as always, at the end of the loss to Oklahoma City and well aware that Father Time just got louder still, must know deep down that he’ll never get that sixth ring to tie Michael Jordan as long as this Lakers group remains the same.
For the Lakers, Williams could be a possibility if Howard is not. A source close to the three-time All-Star said he would be interested in joining the Lakers, though it would have to be via a sign-and-trade deal. (Lakers point guard Ramon Sessions, who was acquired from Cleveland at the trade deadline, has a $4.5 million player option for next season.) The source said Williams’ preference, however, is for the Nets to improve the roster sufficiently enough that he can feel good about staying put rather than fear a repeat of this season, when they finished 22-44. As for Dallas, which sacrificed its best chance to defend the title by preserving salary-cap space last summer in anticipation of this free-agent class, the source said of the Mavericks: “There’s no longevity there.” If owner Mark Cuban can clear enough space to sign a worthy sidekick for Williams, though, then maybe Williams would join his hometown team after all.
While all of this is speculation right now, what we do know is the Lakers roster won’t be the same next year and that will probably be for the best.