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Lakers Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum talk about the team's future after they were bounced from the NBA Playoffs. Fred Roggin reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Monday, May 21, 2012.
Tell me if you've heard this story before -- Los Angeles Lakers season ends with a blowout loss on the road.
Sound familiar? It should. What happened in Dallas last season happened again Monday night in Oklahoma City.
The Lakers lost by 16, and it would have been a lot worse if not for a highlight-filled 42-point night from Kobe Bryant. As usual, he is the only Laker heading into the off-season that can actually say that they left it all on the court. In his postgame remarks, Bryant said this isn't his swan song and he's not "fading into the shadows."
The Lakers will be back fighting for championships. However, when pressed, Bryant wasn't exactly sure how the Lakers will get back to contending for championships in the future.
But you can't blame him for not knowing. There definitely are some bizarre things happening in Lakersland.
Andrew Bynum, who has a team option for next season, said after the game that he doesn't care if he is a Laker or not. He will be playing somewhere next season.
Seriously, that's the guy Kobe is supposed to play with every night in the waning years of his career? Kobe has more desire in his left thumb than Bynum has in his entire 7-foot-2 body. It's a shame it didn't work out, but after seven years it's time Lakers management cut the cord and ship Bynum out of town. He has admitted he doesn't care if he is a Laker or not.
What more do you need to know?
He will never be a consistent force down low, and he simply doesn't have the drive to be great. If he did, it would have happpened by now. Lakers management can stop using the word "potential" to describe Bynum.
Instead, maybe they should try "frustrating" because that is exactly what he has been to Lakers fans since he first put on the purple and gold.
For Pau Gasol fans, it's probably time to say goodbye, too. He played with heart on Monday night, but it was still evident he lacks confidence, especially when he is on the floor with Bryant. Gasol is owed around $20 million next season. No way the Lakers can tie up that much salary cap space with a guy that seems afraid to step up in clutch situations.
Finally, the focus shifts to first-year Lakers head coach Mike Brown. Something seems just a little off. It feels like he never grasped the fact that he is head coach of the 16-time NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers. His nervous laughter in postgame press conferences seems odd at best.
He was clearly out-coached by the Thunder's Scott Brooks in the series. Case in point -- Monday night, as the fourth quarter began, Brown decided to sit Bryant for a rest with the Lakers trailing by six points.
On the flip side, Brooks left in starters Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook -- something Brooks never does during the regular season, but he felt was the correct move since it was the playoffs and that you must try to win at all costs. Brown needs to learn from this way of coaching in the playoffs, or his career in Los Angeles could be short-lived.