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Ummmmm Ok
05-21-2003, 01:42 PM
May 20, 2003

This Sean Deveney column is in the current issue of Sporting News magazine on sale now and is a sample of the type of in-depth coverage Sporting News delivers each week on the NBA. Subscribe today and receive a special offer.

For the time being, at least, the Lakers dynasty is ended, derailed by a 28-point Game 6 humiliation at the hands of San Antonio. Good riddance, for if the Lakers had won this season's championship, a terrible message would have been sent to players and fans around the NBA: The regular season does not matter.

The Lakers did not take this season seriously, figuring that only the playoffs mattered. If they had earned a fourth ring despite their nonchalance, we would have to wonder why, exactly, we bother with the first 82 games. As it stands, we can go on believing the games of November through April do matter.

That the Lakers did not seem to agree brings two players to mind: Ron Harper and Karl Malone.

Harper closed his career with LA's 2000 and 2001 championship teams and, during those years, repeatedly was asked how the Lakers stacked up to his old Bulls teams. His reply typically went, "This team ain't (crap)."

This year's version of the Lakers needed a Harper. LA seemed convinced it was a champion merely because it had last year's trophy. Kobe Bryant liked to say the Lakers had "the heart of champions," as if their championship hearts alone would make everything right. What a crock. What the Lakers need is a Harper-type critic to remind them they ain't crap, no matter how much they win.

That brings us to Malone. The Lakers absolutely must sign him this summer. They're rumored to have only lukewarm interest in Malone, a free agent, but maybe watching Tim Duncan & Co. muscle through the paint in the playoffs will make the front office change its mind. The team's glaring weakness is at power forward, and what better way to firm up the position than with a 14-time All-Star?

The Lakers have few opportunities to change the roster. Tracy Murray and Samaki Walker are gone, and the team won't exercise its option on the final year of Robert Horry's contract, though he could re-sign at a veteran's minimum. The team must re-sign Mark Madsen and Brian Shaw.

Los Angeles is well over the cap, meaning general manager Mitch Kupchak has only the $4.5 million midlevel exception to lure players. That money can be spent on multiple players, but that would be unwise. The Lakers can't afford risks. That rules out Alonzo Mourning (still battling a kidney disease) and injury-prone Scottie Pippen. Who can guarantee they'll be healthy?

LA needs a credible power forward, and budding stars Elton Brand and Jermaine O'Neal are beyond the team's means. That leaves such players as Juwan Howard, Keon Clark or P.J. Brown. But why not go for the gusto? Why not go for Malone?

He sets brick-wall screens. He is an above-average passer. He makes 15-foot jump shots. He rebounds. He would ruin double-teams. He can defend one-on-one and still moves well enough to play help defense.

Most important, Malone does not take nights off. He approaches every game with intensity and professionalism. And he has a little bit of Harper in him -- old enough to be crotchety, with enough of a resume to back up his flapping gums, unlike Howard, Brown and Clark.

Malone would not sit in the locker room talking about heart. He would look around at the Lakers, and every night the team underachieved, he would say, "This team ain't crap." That's exactly what the Lakers need.

MFFL
05-21-2003, 04:27 PM
I can't imagine Karl Malone taking a back seat to the whiney Kobe. At least with the Mavs he would be around a good group of guys.

madape
05-21-2003, 05:17 PM
Malone still remembers when Kobe disgustingly motioned the mailman off of a pick he set for him during the 2000 All-Star game. No way does a man of Malone's stature play with a punk like that. And you think he craves the bright lights and fast women of L.A.? This is a man who drives a big rig for fun. He was born to play in Texas. That's where he'll be next year. Sorry, California Commies.

Ummmmm Ok
05-21-2003, 05:25 PM
I just hope like hell he comes to the north part of the state and not the south...

MFFL
05-21-2003, 06:08 PM
<< Malone still remembers when Kobe disgustingly motioned the mailman off of a pick he set for him during the 2000 All-Star game. No way does a man of Malone's stature play with a punk like that. >>



Not play WITH. It would be play FOR &quot;a punk like that&quot;. Malone would be a distant third option behind Kobe and Shaq.

LRB
05-21-2003, 06:46 PM
<<

<< Malone still remembers when Kobe disgustingly motioned the mailman off of a pick he set for him during the 2000 All-Star game. No way does a man of Malone's stature play with a punk like that. >>



Not play WITH. It would be play FOR &quot;a punk like that&quot;. Malone would be a distant third option behind Kobe and Shaq. >>



What goes around, comes around. And with Kobe it's a lot of Sh!t. i/expressions/face-icon-small-disgusted.gif

TVI
05-22-2003, 07:58 PM
<< I just hope like hell he comes to the north part of the state and not the south... >>

Spurs owner Peter Holt pretty much said that they won't pursue Malone. I kind of think that's a mistake. Malone would be a great replacement low-post presense for the retiring Robinson, and assuming that Kidd stays in Jersey, Malone has got to be considered one of the premier free agents out there. I think the Spurs should offer Malone a big one-year deal, and let him get his ring. Then, in 2004, renounce Malone's rights, and recapture that cap space to go after Garnett.

MavsFanFinley
05-22-2003, 08:33 PM
Malone would fit better with the Mavs where he'd have the oportunity to be posted up than in LA or San Antonio. I'm not saying those teams couldn't use him, but in LA they post up Shaq and in SA they already have the post up threat in Duncan.