Which Model Should LA Lakers Use to Rebuild into Legitimate NBA Title Contender?

The next 10 months will go a long way toward determining how the Los Angeles Lakers fare for the foreseeable future.

Dwight Howard, the previously presumed centerpiece of the future, has left to join the Houston Rockets. Kobe Bryant, the one of the past and present, is attempting a comeback from the most devastating injury of his basketball life—at the age of 35, no less. Likewise, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash, both well into their 30s, are looking to bounce back from the most injury-riddled campaigns of their careers.

It won't be long before the Lakers have to determine, to some degree, whether they're better off trying to rebuild through free agency, as the Dallas Mavericks have, or by way of draft picks and trades, as the Boston Celtics are doing right now.

LA's current predicament isn't so different from those faced of late by the Mavs and the C's. All three teams have won championships within the last five years. All three have since been faced with a quandary that's confounded many a team over the years: what to do about an aging superstar who's been the face of your franchise for years but can no longer carry the team.


Putting the "D" in "Rebuild"

Dallas decided to stand by Dirk Nowitzki, even as the organization was stripping itself of expensive assets in anticipation of tighter restrictions under the new collective bargaining agreement. Tyson Chandler, JJ Barea, Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson, Peja Stojakovic and Corey Brewer were all let go once the lockout was lifted. Jason Kidd, Jason Terry and Ian Mahinmi followed suit the next summer.

In their places, the Mavs plugged in a plethora of stopgap "solutions" on short-term deals—Chris Kaman, OJ Mayo, Darren Collison, Elton Brand and Vince Carter, to name a few. The idea was to keep the team's cap sheet relatively clean so that the Mavs could pursue a major free agent or two to ride out the rest o...

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