I really don’t want to jinx the Lakers right now. But if they can sign both Gary Payton and Karl Malone this offseason for far below their market value, Los Angeles will reclaim the NBA title.
End of story.
Sorry San Antonio, Dallas and Sacramento.
Now the big question is if these persistent rumors become reality.
The Lakers, unlike the Spurs and Dallas, don’t have any money to throw around during this time of free-agent shopping. Instead, Lakers’ owner Jerry Buss and General Manager Mitch Kupchak have had to use other variables to create interest for free agents.
That isn’t to say Buss and Kupchak have gotten creative with their “play for us” slogan.
They haven’t really had to.
Who wouldn’t want to play for a viable contender that has won three of the last four titles?
Who wouldn’t want to dish the ball to Kobe Bryant on the wing or Shaquille O’Neal on the inside and watch them go to work?
Who wouldn’t want to attend many “special functions” in Los Angeles involving lots and lots of attractive ladies?
Yeah, it’s true that the Lakers are throwing around pennies while other teams have buckets of cash at their disposal.
But if I were Jason Kidd or Alonzo Mourning, would I want to spend seven or eight months in Texas?
Payton and Malone are getting up there in age. The “Mailman” specifically is 39 right now but still averaged 20 points a game for the Jazz last season.
He also grabbed almost seven rebounds a contest and would temporarily fill the Lakers most glaring weakness which is at power forward.
More importantly, Malone has stated that if the Lakers could bring Payton on board, he would sign for the veteran’s minimum of $1.5 million.
Payton is 34 and still gets it done on a nightly basis. He is a great defender and can score when he needs to.
The Lakers couldn’t handle the Spurs’ Tony Parker, who killed them with quickness and penetration.
The “Glove” could be the answer to that problem.
However, Payton believes that he is in the prime of his career so $3 or 4 million might not be enough to reel him in.
Even if the Bucks offer Payton more loot to stay in Milwaukee, why would he take it? The Bucks will never win a title and have just signed rookie point guard T. J. Ford to a deal.
Milwaukee obviously feels that Ford is the future at that spot.
Right now, the Lakers would be a much better club with both Payton, an upgrade over Derek Fisher, and Malone, who is light years better than any forward on the Los Angeles roster.
Furthermore, the Lakers’ draft picks Brian Cook and Luke Walton would have time to fit in and wouldn’t have to be big-time contributors right away.
This is a deal that could be huge for the Lakers but only if the price is right for both Malone and Payton.