The return of Pau Gasol and Steve Nash to the lineup is likely to mask most, if not all, the symptoms afflicting the underachieving Los Angeles Lakers. But the perennial all-stars will do nothing to address the disease lurking deep inside the foundation of the Lakers, the malady that will prevent the high-priced collection of veterans from getting past the Thunder, Spurs or even the Grizzlies come playoff time.
The disease isn't bungling, overmatched executive vice president Jim Buss. It's not bungling, overmatched coach Mike D'Antoni.
The root cause of the Lakers' dysfunction has been consistent for 15 years. It is Kobe Bryant's ego, his desperate pursuit of Michael Jordan's legacy. L.A.'s Dwight Howard experiment is going to explode and implode in spectacular fashion unless someone in the Lakers organization is bold enough to kill Kobe's Michael Jordan avatar so that Howard's Bill Russell avatar can emerge and lead the Lakers.
The wrong player is driving the Lakers...