The Lakers continue to take the spotlight

Been a hard time in Tinsel town.

I must admit that the Mike Brown firing came as a shock to me. Can Mike D'Antoni bring La-La land another NBA championship?

Steve Nash may be out, but I think D'Antoni may be the change that this new look Lakers need after all. Don't get me wrong, I am a big Mike brown fan. It really is tough to see a coach who has won the NBA Coach of the Year award not be able to get a championship team to their destiny.

It could be argued that the Lakers were already on a championship track after the lethargic start to the season think the Miami Heat of 2010-2011. Did the Laker management overreact? Was a change really necessary? Only time will tell, but for now let's look at some facts.

The Lakers have rebounded to a 7-8 record after a dismal start. D'Antoni comes in handy for his offensive acumen as opposed to Mike Brown’s defense emphasis. Defense will not be as important in the wide open Western Conference this season. D’Antoni’s offensive system offers players a lot more freedom and this should be vital for the likes of Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard.

Kobe has been his usual goofy self and even thinking up a hilarious nickname for his injured teammate Steve Nash. Bryant has nicknamed Nash 'Gatsby' from the character in that great piece of literature 'The Great Gatsby.'

Still, in Bryant's heart he must be wanting so bad for Nash to return so he could prove what the best point guard and shooting guard of their respective generations can do. The Lakers are down, but still not out.

The Mike Brown firing

Lakers have gone out and hired Mike D'Antoni after a dismal start.

After Mike Brown was terminated and Lakers fans cheered for the Zen master, it seemed almost automatic that Phil Jackson would take his familiar spot on the Laker bench. But this is not going to happen and the fault seems to lie roundly on Jackson's shoulders for making far too many demands. I guess Jackson is in the driver's seat having done all he needs to do in the NBA, but still is this not a sweet looking opportunity that even Jackson would have had a hard time passing up.

It has now becoming public news that the Lakers management have signed Mike D'Antoni to a four year deal more out of desperation than anything else. Don't get me wrong, D'Antoni did his bit with the Phoenix Suns and then the NY Knicks (Jeremy Lin shone in his trademark system). He has also had a marked influence on the Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant who has welcomed D'Antoni to guide the new look premier Los Angeles basketball team to a championship.

There has been a lot of mystery around the Jackson snub so to speak and analysts are pretty sure that Jackson must be kicking himself for believing that the Lakers top brass wouldn't call his bluff. Nonetheless, D'Antoni will now have a hard time living up to the Lakers fans expectations who wanted Jackson and are used to the success that he has brought the basketball team.

It will be interesting to see how D'Antoni steps up to the challenge after the Lakers have passed up the almighty Jackson for him. LA is in a spot of bother early in the season and this might be a great time to regroup albeit the recent resurgence by the team.

Kobe dishes on worst players he has played with

It is the worst this week.

This week is the worst talent he's been around. Kobe is specifically referring to those years when most basketball fans had written him off. The 2005-06 season was especially hard for Bryant and he had probably the worst starting lineup in franchise history.

There was Smush Parker at point guard, Bryant at shooting guard with Lamar Adam as Small Forward. Brian Cook and Kwame Brown played in the low post. Compare that to the current starting lineup of Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard. This is exactly what Bryant did and Lakers fans have a mixed reaction about this.

I suppose Bryant should be taking the high road. Still, he was only reminiscing aloud about the past and how far he has come from those days when a playoff victory was such a treasure. As for stating that Smush Parker should not have played in the NBA, I thought that was unfair. I guess the Black Mamba wants to get back at Parker who has been a critic of his for years.

Nonetheless, I thought Kobe would be happier with a season in which he had a career best 35.4 points per game that included his amazing 81 point game. At the same time, this is the man who had once said that a season in which he doesn't win a championship is a wasted year of his life. Even his wife remarked on how grumpy Bryant can get when he doesn't win the NBA title.

It will make it easier for him to add that elusive sixth ring this year with Steve Nash running the point and Howard grabbing those all important boards.

"Best talent I've been around."

Bryant is extremely pleased and looks forward to playing with Howard and Nash.

Kobe Bryant has won five championships with the Los Angeles Lakers and has been hunting for that sixth ring. It is this desire to win the sixth ring and go beyond Michael Jordan in terms of championships that has persuaded Laker management to bring veteran point guard Steve Nash and the NBA's most dominant center Dwight Howard to La-La Land.

Bryant played Shaq during his three-peat with the Lakers and then there was the star-studded lineup during the 2003-04 season which included big names like Karl Malone and Gary Payton. Lakers fans should not forget the last two NBA championships Bryant won with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum too.

Even after playing with all these great players, Bryant is enthused about the Lakers' next season and feels the talent - the best he has been around - will take them to another title. There are some issues that have to be dealt with right now, though. Howard is recovering from back surgery, but there is some good news for Lakers fans, as he is aiming to be back by the season opener against the Dallas Mavericks.

The other concern that the Lakers fans have is the health of Steve Nash at 38 and whether the veteran point guard and Bryant can share the basketball effectively. The media blew up Kobe's 'It's my team' quote, but I was happy as a Lakers fan to see the superstar take ownership of the star-studded team that also includes Metta World Peace.

One thing is for certain: basketball fans in Hollywood will be very disappointed if their team is not playing in June.

Kobe Bryant is the highest paid NBA player next season

Bryant is set to make $27.7 million

There is no denying that when it comes to entertainment value and box office draw, Kobe Bryant has earned his $27.7 million salary and then some. But someone has got to say something when Bryant makes considerably more than the next highest paid player on the list Dirk Nowitzki.

Nowitzki makes $20.7 million and LeBron James actually comes later on in the list raking in a cool $17.5 million. But it is the Black Mamba that is at the very top when it comes to the greens. Is he overpaid?

I am a big fan so I don’t think so. But let us just analyze the situation. It is true that Bryant has not been able to win that elusive sixth ring and has not been able to make as big of an impact as he would have liked. A lot of basketball analysts even blame Bryant for the Lakers troubles as of late. I guess this is fair given his penchant for shooting too much and not passing the ball up to his big men.

But the point I am trying to make is that everyone gets really excited to watch the Lakers because of Kobe Bryant. When Bryant is in town, the basketball arena is sold out. Some of you might disagree that it isn’t about selling tickets and I completely agree with that. But the thing is that Bryant already has the rings and the superstar talent combined with the ability to sell a lot of tickets. And I mean a lot!

More Dwight Howard talk

Back injury results in missing part of NBA's regular season

Anytime you add a big man like this to your lineup, it forces a Lakers fan like me to continue to talk about it here on LA Lakers talk. The issue with Dwight Howard seems to be the back injury that he suffered and his surgery will force him to miss a month or two of the NBA regular season.

That means that the Lakers will probably have their dominant center only by the New Year 2013. Injuries aside, Dwight Howard’s offensive game has often been criticized by basketball analysts. It is his free throw shooting that is a major problem and his stats speak for itself having a less than 50 percent shooting record from the charity strike.

The pressure that Dwight Howard will be under in Hollywood cannot be underestimated as well. Howard will have to live up to some pretty big expectations and this could affect his game negatively as was evident during his time with the Orlando Magic.

Some Lakers fans think they will miss the young and temperamental Andrew Bynum in the low post. But I can’t argue with Lakers management over the Dwight Howard trade as he is definitely more consistent than Bynum. Moreover, Howard is arguably the best big man in the NBA.

As for Steve Nash, he is now 38 years old and will soon be 39. It won’t be long before he will have to hang up his sneakers. And talking about back problems, the veteran point guard has had his own back issues to deal with.

Dwight Howard is the latest addition to the Lakers

I guess Howard will have a great time in La-La Land

The LA Lakers have made their championship intentions pretty clear for next season. After trading for Steve Nash, the Lakers welcome Dwight Howard to Hollywood to make a team that Magic Johnson states would now be the team to beat.

Dwight Howard Impersonates Kobe

Dwight Howard is seen impersonating Kobe Bryant in his inimitable style in the video above. Los Angeles is going to see more of these antics and really what the fans want is more rings.

The Lakers have won big on this trade as most analysts on various leading sports networks have pointed out as opposed to the Orlando Magic whose management has not been very astute with this move. But the Lakers are obviously not going to be great from the get go and this new team should start dominating from the spring of 2013 onwards.

Dwight Howard is definitely ecstatic to be with Kobe and the Lakers despite having some qualms when the trade talks were on. He was with ESPN analyst extraordinaire Stephan A. Smith when he learned that he would be a Laker and Smith related to the crew on Mike and Mike that Howard was extremely pleased and looks forward to a new journey in Los Angeles.

Furthermore, Howard fully expects to win his first ever NBA title in June next year. It definitely looks like a possibility with only the Thunder standing in the way for the Western Conference. Don’t expect the Thunder to back down, but it is quite evident that the Lakers are a far more talented team now.

Ice Cube: LA Lakers Talk

Long-time Lakers fan, Ice Cube, discusses the team's off-season moves.

I have been watching ESPN over the years and have discovered how big of a fan Ice Cube really is when it comes to the Los Angeles Lakers.

ESPN First Take is becoming one of the best shows in the country with sports journalists like Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith making up the marquee. On Wednesday, ESPN First Take had Ice Cube drop by to talk about his hometown Lakers. There were some very important matters discussed.

Andrew Bynum or Dwight Howard?

As attractive as trading for Dwight Howard really is, Ice Cube didn’t think it was the solution as he felt that Howard has not been vocal enough in wanting to come to LA. Ice Cube states that if the Lakers are not going for a ring, then he just doesn’t want to watch!

Steve Nash

The big question is how does the addition of Steve Nash affect the perception of the LA Lakers in the Western Conference? Nash and Kobe could have some trouble playing together as Steve Nash has been known not to discriminate when it comes to distributing the basketball. But from the Kobe I know and Ice Cube agrees, number 24 will not have any issues if Nash does not pass the ball to him as much if the Lakers end up winning games on a consistent basis.

Kobe Bryant wants ring number six pretty badly and the more time goes by, the lesser his chances will be of winning that elusive ring. Anyway, Ice Cube has his money on the LA Lakers as always.

Steve Nash lands with the Lakers

What difference will the 38-year-old All-Star point guard make in La-La land?

The Los Angeles Lakers are an old team of course. Apart from Center Andrew Bynum, there is not a player in their projected starting lineup for next season that is younger than 31. Kobe Bryant seems to love the move and I have wondered ever since this trade was announced whether Steve Nash might have made a difference in the outcome of the Lakers-Thunder series.

This Steve Nash trade is actually very interesting because Kobe Bryant is known to hate the Phoenix Suns and Steve Nash too. This is all because the Suns sent the Lakers packing on a few occasions in the NBA playoffs and there was also that infamous Raja Bell incident in a game six clash in the playoffs in 2006.

But in any case, in terms of the payroll, the Lakers have gotten very expensive with Pau Gasol having two years left with $19M each year and now you bring in Steve Nash by paying him $27M. This makes it a very expensive team with Bryant and Bynum too among the other Laker stars. There may be a possibility of moving Pau Gasol to get some payroll relief.

The Lakers might have another big move up their sleeves. They may decide to trade away Andrew Bynum so that they don’t have to deal with his immaturity and look to bring Dwight Howard to the Lakers. But Lakers owner Jerry Buss loves Andrew Bynum and so they may not want to trade away the young Bynum who really has a lot of potential.

Kobe Criticism of Pau Gasol

Is this fair?

Kobe Bryant feels that he stood up for Pau Gasol and somehow the 7 foot center did not deliver up to what was expected in the conference semifinals against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Is this fair?

Let us look at some statistics. Like they say. There are lies, damned lies and statistics. In Game 5, Gasol was in the game for 39 minutes with 4 of 10 shooting from the field and 10 points. Kobe was simply stating that Gasol is not producing to the level that he is capable of.

Gasol was also passing up a lot of shots and there were a lot of unnecessary passes back to Bryant too. I understand that Bryant hasn’t been at his best either with the Black Mamba being widely criticized for the Lakers second round exit in the NBA playoffs. But it is Kobe’s team and they don’t have Shaq anymore to give the Black Mamba heat.

No one really wants to speak up against Bryant right now and this is going to be an issue long term. There is no Phil Jackson on the sideline and as for Gasol, you can forget about him calling out Bryant in any interview or at the podium.

I agree that Gasol is a great guy and an immense talent, but it looks like the criticism of Gasol not being aggressive seems to be pretty accurate. I guess Bryant being the team leader and the guy who stood up for Gasol during all the trade talks has the right to point out any flaws that the big man has in his game.