Lakers need to get some help for Bryant, now

THIS HAD BETTER be a productive offseason for the Los Angeles Lakers. No way can they have Smush Parker, Luke Walton and Kwame Brown as starters next year. Well, not if they plan to be any good, anyway.

As has been proven time and time again, one star — even with a Hall of Fame coach on the bench — isn't going to get it done. It's not enough to just have Kobe Bryant. It's not enough to trade away his partner in dominance, Shaquille O'Neal, and replace him with just Lamar Odom.

You know such is true when Kobe Bryant, the lone star who craved a seat at the head of the table, is begging for help.

"Do something, and do it now," Kobe Bryant told the Los Angeles Times. "Personally for me, it's beyond frustration. Three years and still being at ground zero. This summer's a big summer. We have to see what direction we want to take this organization. Make those steps and make them now."

No, the return of injured center Chris Mihm is not the offseason addition that will do the trick.

The Los Angeles Lakers need to make some major moves this offseason. They need to land a Kevin Garnett or a Jermaine O'Neal. Yes, even if it means giving up promising young center Andrew Bynum.

The fact is that Kobe Bryant will be 29 by the time next season rolls around, with 10 years of experience under his belt. This, right now, is the peak of his career. Do you wait for Andrew Bynum to develop, and risk Kobe being well into his decline if and when Andrew Bynum does come around?

Or do you take

advantage of having one of the greatest players in history at his peak, and surround him with title-ready players now? The latter is more of a sure bet.

"We're very aware of Kobe Bryant's age," Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said. "We're aware of that window, and we're making every effort to make this the best team possible."

Andrew Bynum may not ever become a dominant center. Even if he does, he may wind up not having enough talent around him to win a title — the same situation Kobe Bryant is in. Sure, it's tougher to find perimeter help than dominant big men. But it's even rarer to find a Kobe Bryant or a Dwyane Wade (which even O'Neal, certainly a dominant center, needed to win a title).

A Kobe Bryant-Garnett tandem is a much more a likely championship candidate than banking on Andrew Bynum to become the next O'Neal. Put K.G. and Kobe with Phil Jackson, and upgrade at the point guard position, and the Los Angeles Lakers are serious contenders.

At the very least, the Los Angeles Lakers need to snatch up a Chauncey Billups or a Shawn Marion to go with Kobe Bryant and Odom, one more really good player to take some weight off Kobe Bryant's shoulders.

They had better do something. Because forwards Ronny Turiaf and Maurice Evans won't be the answer.

FAKING KIDD? Toronto Raptors coach Sam Mitchell lit a fire under New Jersey Nets point guard Jason Kidd by intimating that Kidd's injury was exaggerated. Kidd, trying to take a charge in Game 2, banged his knee with Raptors forward Chris Bosh's knee. But Mitchell wasn't buying the talk of Kidd's bruised right knee — especially after Kidd put up 16 points, 19 assists and 16 rebounds in Game 3.

"Kidd, with his so-called injury, just dominated the game," Mitchell said.

He didn't back down from his comments, either.

"The man just did something only three players in the history have done," Mitchell told reporters, "and all the questions I'm getting are, 'Did you think he was faking?' 'Do you think he's really hurt?' He just set a record. What do you think? He's not hurt."

Obviously, Kidd didn't like being called a faker. He said if this were the regular season, he would've had to sit out for about a week.

"That's their opinion," said Kidd, who played on a bum knee in the 2004 playoffs. "They don't have to see me go through what I have to go through to get ready. I don't want to make this a big thing about my knee. We're dealing with it, and we just have to prepare. We're trying to concentrate on the game more than just my knee."

BORING BORIS: A noticeable absence from the Phoenix Suns success is the impact of forward Boris Diaw. His production has dipped significantly since the return of post Amare Stoudemire.

Diaw is now coming off the bench. He averaged 7.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists a game in the first round, which is well short of his averages during last year's playoffs (18.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists). Now coming off the bench, Diaw averaged just 26 minutes a game.

Last season, Diaw played center and power forward for the Suns, and his guard skills made him too tough to guard for opposing big men. With Stoudemire starting next to Marion, Diaw is left to play small forward, where his advantage isn't as pronounced. Also, the rise of backup point guard Leandro Barbosa has diminished the need for Diaw to have the ball in his hands, which was often the case last season.

"He's more of a complementary player," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni told the East Valley (Ariz.) Tribune. "He gets lost in the shuffle a little bit."

BOUNCE PASSES: With their team awaiting the draft lottery, it is becoming fashionable for Sacramento Kings fans to get behind the Warriors. City Councilman Rob Fong told the Sacramento Bee: "It's nice to watch the playoffs and not be in agony. If (the Warriors) lose, it's not like we're going into mourning like we would if it were the Kings. But me and all my friends are on the Warriors bandwagon. It's great to see a team that's athletic and small and fun to watch. Plus, Matt Barnes grew up here. Don Nelson wanted to coach here, and we never called back. And Mark Cuban, well, we hate the Mavericks." ... New York Knicks coach Isiah Thomas learned, according to the Bergen County (N.J.) Record, that his sexual harassment trial is scheduled to start Sept.10. Anucha Browne Sanders, the Knicks' former senior vice president for marketing and business operations, filed suit against the Knicks and team-owner Cablevision in January 2006. She said she repeatedly complained to management about Thomas' inappropriate behavior toward her, accusing him of excessive flirtation and making crude comments and berating her to co-workers. According to the Record, the Knicks claim Sanders demanded $6.5 million to go away quietly without a lawsuit. Settlement talks have been unfruitful. The trial is expected to end before training camp begins. ... Jackson, peeved about his team's Game 4 performance, sent the players home. "I did tell them that they have the brainpower of slugs or earthworms," Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson told the Los Angeles Times. "That was just in the moment of irritation."