LA Lakers Need Youth Infusion for Kobe Bryant to Win Elusive Sixth Championship

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistDecember 3, 2012

DALLAS, TX - NOVEMBER 24:  Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers at American Airlines Center on November 24, 2012 in Dallas, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers have fallen to a dismal 8-9 on the season, and even though Steve Nash has yet to return, the movement for change has started. That change needs to be more youth, not more superstars.

With Lakers big man Pau Gasol struggling, a lot of talk has been whether or not the team should trade him, and it seems as if the public's focus is rolling in that direction sooner than the Lakers would have hoped.

Even though we know the Lakers aren't at full strength, there are a handful of reasons to move the big man, but who he should be traded for is still very much up in the air.

First of all, the Lakers are going to have to decide whether or not to trade Gasol in the first place. That alone is going to be a tough decision.

What we've seen in the first month is an obviously struggling Gasol battling knee tendinitis and a definite conflict between him and Dwight Howard. That's not to say that Howard and Gasol aren't getting along, just that Howard is taking shots away from Gasol at the rim.

Taking a look at Gasol's shot chart so far this season speaks volumes. Just look at how often he's taking shots around the perimeter rather than right at the rim or inside the paint as he usually plays his game.

So what should the Lakers try to get out of Gasol if they do decide to trade him and find a willing trade partner?

A few rumors have swirled surrounding Gasol in the past months, but they've linked him to big-name players that just don't make sense for this Lakers team.

Amar'e Stoudemire was big news for about six minutes before the Lakers denied any interest in the Knicks' big man with busted knees, and the trade that everybody hyped surrounding Josh Smith just never got legs.

Both these trades are the wrong road for the Lakers. They would just be adding another ego with a desire for shots among other things, not a sole desire to play basketball and win games.

After watching the Lakers give up 40 points to the Orlando Magic in the fourth quarter on Sunday, there's something obvious the Lakers are missing: youthful exuberance.

Mike D'Antoni quipped about the team being slow and struggling athletically, and that's what you're going to get out of a starting lineup featuring one guy under 32 years old (and who isn't Darius Morris).

During the fourth quarter of their game against the Magic, there was no energy in the Lakers' legs as they were outscored 36-19 over the course of the final eight minutes.

According to Fox Sports West, Kobe commented on the Lakers not being able to get their games, or their attitudes, together, saying, "I’ll kick everybody’s ass in this locker room if it doesn’t happen."

At some point, however, there's got to be a feeling of exhaustion from a team predicated on Dwight Howard's surgically-repaired back, Gasol's aching knees, Kobe's veteran body that's been in the NBA for 16 seasons and Antawn Jamison's continually slowing frame.

If there's a team out there that would give them a quick infusion of youth, whether it would be a young forward like Derrick Williams, or even a slow-developing seven-footer like Andrea Bargnani, Los Angeles needs to offer them a trade for Paul Gasol.