The 2011-2012 Lakers

Last Season: 57-25. 2nd seed in Western Conference. Lost to Dallas in 4 games in the Western Conference Semi-Finals.

Who’s Gone: Phil Jackson retired. Lamar Odom traded to Dallas. Shannon Brown signed with Phoenix. Joe Smith and Theo Ratliff (both unrestricted free agent) will not return.

Who’s New: Jason Kapono – Forward/Guard (1-year/$1.2 million), Josh McRoberts – Forward (2 years – approx. $6 million), Troy Murphy – Forward (1-year/$1.3 million)

Right Now: Drama is no stranger to the Lakers. But the drama they have right now is slowly shaping the character of a season that already has plenty of issues prepared for them.

Getting acquainted with their new coach, his playbooks and the newest members of the team have at least kept them busy from all the distraction of the botched Chris Paul trade, the possible Dwight Howard trade, the loss of Lamar Odom, and Kobe Bryant‘s newest marital problems.

Even Metta World Peace being out of shape coming into training camp and the fact that the Lakers will have only Pau Gasol, Josh McRoberts, and Troy Murphy suited to man the frontcourt now and until Andrew Bynum has served his 5-game suspension are just side notes compared to everything else going on with the team and the organization itself.

But despite it all, the Lakers are still a dangerous team…with or without CP3.

Prognosis: Even if the Lakers were able to get Paul or Howard, this season’s success is going to be predicated in how much they can absorb Mike Brown‘s system, build a good chemistry with all the new pieces, and how well they can take both the mental and physical blow of a compact season that will feature some 3 games in 3 nights schedule.

However, they’re still seem committed to proving everyone wrong that last year’s debacle is a one-time deal that isn’t embedded into the team’s true persona. With everything new and unsure about the Lakers this year, that is one thing that should motivate and empower them as a team.

That said, it remains to be seen if Gasol has actually gotten over his near-trade to Houston. If not, then it’s possible that we won’t be seeing a fully invested Pau throughout the season or until a member of the front office tells him that he’s no longer part of any future trade.

Kobe said that the current roster is “good enough” to win. Then again, he never mentioned if he meant the title.

Final Thoughts: It’s hard to predict how successful the Lakers are going to be this season. They still have most of their championship pieces intact but also have new ones as key parts of their bench. Their young players are either too inexperienced or too unpredictable in terms of how much they’ll really contribute now or later down the road.

I, for one, don’t expect the new coaching staff as one of the factors that could hinder the team this year. In fact, I’m confident they’ll manage to get this team on the same page by the end of the season. But the unknowns surrounding them can’t be ignored also.

It pains me to say that without a new point guard and with the possibility of a huge trade happening by the trade deadline still lurking around, it would be next to impossible for the Lakers to really get to the level to compete for the championship.

Here’s hoping I’m wrong.