Meaningless Exhibition Game May Portend Much of LA’s Basketball Future

The Lakers play the Clippers tonight in a meaningless exhibition game. All that is as stake is the future of LA basketball.

The stumbling Lakers play the rejuvenated Clippers in what promises to be a battle of old vs new with long-term ramifications.

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The Lakers go into the game, and the season, as a patchwork of aging veterans, with a new coach who is above all else, NOT Phil Jackson. As discussed a couple of days ago (“Top Ten Reasons Why the Lakers Will Suck This Season”) the Lakers have problems at key positions. One of those problems has been further addressed since that post, with the signing yesterday of Troy Murphy. Murphy has moved around much in recent seasons and has missed a lot of time with injuries, but when healthy as been a 10-10 guy in five seasons, and at 31 should still have some good years left. IF he is in shape and picks up the Lakers’ system, whatever that may now be, quick enough (he’s only a few days behind the rest of the team, after all) he

should get some solid PT at backing up Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. What has not been further addressed is the lack of all-around play, and any defense at all, at point guard, tension with on-going speculation about trading Gasol and acquiring that imagined savior Dwight Howard, Kobe’s problems, and, really, at the top of the list, the fact that Mike Brown is not Phil Jackson.

On the other side of the court, we have the young, talented Clippers, with Blake Griffin, Caron Butler, Chauncey Billups, and that guy, Chris Paul. They have super talent and motivation, and a great young coach, and that coach is going to have to demonstrate his expertise from the start, getting a team full of point guards, including two on the court at all times, to work together. I for one, just do not see Paul and Billups meshing together, at least from the start.

Paul’s chronic knee problems will also be an issue to deal with, as will the reaction of the over-rated under-talented pick-up from late last season, Mo Williams,

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to reduced playing time as the number three or four point guard on the team.

Tonight will be interesting, and should be a glimpse into the future.

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