To say that last off season for the Los Angeles Lakers was chaotic, would be grossly understated. From the “Dwight Howard Stay” campaign the team would launch, which ended when Howard snubbed the team and decided to take his talents to the Long Star state and sign as a free agent with the Houston Rockets. Not only did Howard turn his back on the most decorated team in all of sports, but he left millions of dollars on the table on his way out the door and a team that is littered with the greatest centers to ever play the game in George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabar and Shaquille O’Neal.
But even more detrimental to the future of the Lakers, now lays in their past, or more important in the Achilles tendon of the seventeen year NBA veteran Kobe Bryant. Bryant, when we saw him last during the playoff last season, was being helped off the court by teammates, due to the potential career ending injury. This all prior to fan favorite and a key member in the team’s last championship run, Ron Artest, whom would be released with the Lakers using the one time amnesty clause to clear room on the salary cap.
The 2013-2014 Lakers squad has several new faces, including USC standout and Los Angeles native Nick Young, Chris Kaman by way of the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers. Returning to the team and to the NBA, Jordan Farmar, whom like Artest was a key member in the last championship team.
Additional key players returning to the team, that will be expected to man the ship until Kobe’s return include, Steve Blake, Steve Nash, Jodie Meeks, and Jordan Hill to name a few. On October 5, the Lakers rolled into Citizens Business Bank arena in Ontario to kick off their season in their first pre-season action, in what could be a potential playoff match up against the Golden State Warriors.
In a game that had the intensity of a playoff series, Lakers new comer Xavier Henry had a performance that was a declaration that he’ll be a major contributor to the team for a while to come. After finishing the 2012-2013 pre-season without a single win at 0-8, the Lakers started the season off with a strong win, defeating the Warriors 104-95, in a game that was much closer than the final score.
Henry turned in the game high with 29 points, Nick Young added a strong 17 points for the Lakers. Steve Nash, Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant did not play due to injury. Klay Thompson scored 26 points for the Warriors, Andre Iguodala added 15 points, Harrison Barnes and David Lee added 10 each, and Stephen Curry ended the night with only 5 points.