Lakers need shakeup

Who you looking at, old-timer?

Though we're not sure if the Lakers have to be rebuilt, reconfigured or merely revived, this season is like a long-running western in which they can't get a sarsaparilla at the local saloon without being called out by attitudinal post-adolescents or grudge-bearing codgers.

Happily for the defending champs, spring is a ways off, because the post-adolescents and codgers are shooting them full of holes. Not that coach Phil Jackson is worried. Being Phil, he picked this moment to pooh-pooh the Heat, who separated his team into its constituent atoms on Christmas.

"I, personally, don't think they can get by Boston," he told KSPN-AM in Los Angeles. "But there's a chance they can maybe round themselves into a team by that time."

He didn't say how the Lakers would beat the Celtics ... if they get past the Mavericks and Spurs.

Of course, there's a chance the Lakers can round themselves into a team by that time too.

The Lakers are still a good team, but they're a big, slow, low-energy team. Though 10 of their players are over 30, they're more middle-aged than old, with Derek Fisher the only rotation player over 32.

Compared with the Thunder, however, with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, the Lakers are sumo wrestlers.

At the three speed positions, the Lakers have Kobe Bryant, who's 6-foot-6, 210 but can keep up; Fisher, who's 6-1, 210, the size of an NFL halfback; and Ron Artest, who's 6-7, 260, a full-sized outside linebacker (who may have missed his calling.)

Pau Gasol is fast for a big man. Andrew Bynum isn't even fast for someone as big as he is, looking 10 to 20 pounds heavier than the 285 he says he is.

Jackson isn't big on changes, but if times get worse, he could give up size and defense for athleticism and energy — say, starting Shannon Brown with Bryant moving to Artest's forward spot.

At this point, anything that's the way it was looks good to Lakerdom.

Welcome to N.Y.: Carmelo Anthony's dream team, the Knicks, might offer Danilo Gallinari or Wilson Chandler ... even if they can sign Melo as a free agent and coach Mike D'Antoni and Amare Stoudemire don't want him.

Owner James Dolan does, and amazingly, he has a point: With Anthony and Stoudemire, they'd be the default destination for free agent Chris Paul in 2012. Even saving the money, they wouldn't be Dwight Howard's default destination if he leaves Orlando in 2012.

That's the Lakers.

The handwriting was on the wall last summer when Paul joked about he, Melo and Amare forming their own big three in his toast at Anthony's wedding in New York. Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke stomped out and ordered Anthony traded.

Pray for Blake: Meet everyone's new favorites ... the Clippers?

Well, at least one of them, Blake Griffin, whose dunks make up about 20 percent of ESPN's highlights these days. Unfortunately, the only defense teams have found is elbowing, shoving or punching before he's airborne.

Commissioner David Stern, who barred midair clotheslines to free Michael Jordan, owes as much to — and may profit almost as much from — Griffin. Take out all intentional fouls. If it's not a play on the ball, it's two shots and possession.

Coast to coast: If Griffin and Kevin Love aren't All-Stars, what's an All-Star? That winning-team thing is OK — when it's close. Love is averaging 21 points with the best rebound-per-minute average in 14 years. ... Close: I wrote Anthony made the playoffs once before Chauncey Billups' 2008 arrival. Melo made it in all four of his previous seasons.

mheisler@tribune.com

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