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Lakers look to the future as they are swept by Spurs

The Los Angeles Lakers opened their regular season losing four of their first five games and ended their short postseason losing four straight.

On Sunday, the Lakers were blown out by the San Antonio Spurs 102-82 to put an end to a season that included the firing of a coach, disagreements amongst players and a serious career threatening injury to superstar Kobe Bryant.

Sunday’s loss and elimination from the postseason was the first time the Lakers have been eliminated from the playoffs before the start of May since 1978.

The question now is where the Lakers go from here. The first thought by many is the team needs to make drastic, wholesale changes to players and coaches. However, to make drastic changes they would have to use the amnesty provision and get rid of Bryant the face of the Lakers for over a decade.

They would have to say no to Dwight Howard who they hoped would be the franchise’s next face. The Lakers would be forced to admit they could not hire the right coach unless they re-hire Phil Jackson.

When Mike Brown was replaced after five games of the regular season with Mike D’Antoni, the Lakers front office insisted D’Antoni was the right fit.

At this point, it is obvious he was not. D’Antoni did not utilize the talented Pau Gasol during the season the way he should have. Gasol sat to start games and to finish them. D’Antoni used Howard too often on high screens and could not figure out a way to hide the deficiencies the Lakers had as a team.

Even though the team was eliminated in the first round this season, the Lakers’ front office insists that D’Antoni’s position is secure.

Coach D’Antoni is pointing to the way the Lakers ended their regular season winning 28 of their last 40 games even though injuries sidelined a number of players. Metta World Peace, the often outspoken player said he wants to see both Bryant and Gasol take more leadership roles next season.

A huge question mark and the most important over the long haul is Howard. He was tossed out of the game on Sunday by the officials, but will it be the last game he plays in a Lakers uniform? He only played 20 minutes before receiving his second technical.

After the game, Howard would not commit to what team he would be playing for. The only thing that might keep him in LA, besides $25 million guaranteed on his contract, would be that superstars at his level in the NBA do not make three team changes in as many years.

Championships today are not won through the low post. Just look at Miami and Oklahoma City, the two NBA finalists from last season, and possibly again this year. Both teams have strong guard-forward tandems.

However, in Los Angeles the Lakers have their eye on Howard being their future. He might end up being the next face of the franchise, but do not expect the team to be playing for the NBA title over the next two to three seasons.

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