The Miami Heat of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, after all, were 9-8 in their first 17 games together before finally getting it right and advancing to the 2011 NBA Finals.
So it can get better.
So why not Kobe, Dwight and eventually Pau and Steve getting it together in a similar fashion off of 9-10?
At 9-8 on Nov. 27, 2010, the Heat were in the process of coming together, particular in the visceral players-only meeting that night in Dallas following a loss to the Mavericks.
For better or worse, backed by Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra was coach, even amid what appeared to be a pushback by LeBron's camp. The team's core was healthy, whole, allowing for the roster to be sorted out, the rotation adjusted. James and Wade were about to reach a compromise about stop compromising, that each would return to their attacking styles, even if it meant stepping on toes at times.
The Heat took off from there.
And with Steve Nash out with his leg issue and Pau Gasol sidelined with his knee trouble, there still is not a sense of how it fits together, but whether it fits together at all.
The last thing the Lakers needed, particularly with an in-season coaching change, was a "system" coach. How, exactly, do you bring in a coach who renders your former All-Star power forward nearly obsolete in the offense? And now there's an ultimatum that Pau Gasol either work to make it work with Mike D'Antoni system or he may have to be moved.
With Phil Jackson and the triangle, it was understood that each piece would have to fit the system. So with Gasol and World Peace (then Artest), the merits of the players were weighed before they were added. The players knew what they were getting into.
But players who just a month ago were being asked to work in Eddie Jordan's Princeton-based offense now have been asked to remake themselves into the Suns of the mid-2000s.
With Nash, that will be far easier, since he made everyone look better in D'Antoni's Phoenix system. That, however, also was a younger, healthier Nash.
The lessons to be learned from the 2010-'11 Heat, a team derided for its cockiness, but one that nonetheless was able to make it to the 2011 Finals, is that missteps are part of the process, that there can be losing streaks, injuries, skepticism as long as there also is singular direction.
It has been years since we've seen that from the Buss family, something largely masked by Jackson's leadership.
We certainly haven't seen that on the sideline. As Steve Blake recently noted, "When I first got here, it was the triangle. And Mike Brown the next year was something else, and now even with Mike Brown starting the year, it was something else. And now it's going into something else again. As far as style of play, Lakers' way, I don't know what that is right now."
As for the roster itself, there still are no assurances that Dwight Howard is in it for the long run, or whether his midseason whims will make the Lakers locker room as toxic as the Magic locker room stood a season ago.
With James, Wade and Bosh there was a four-year commitment before the first of the opt-outs could be exercised. The Lakers began their remix already in the midst of an end game with Dwight. This has to work. And it has to work now.
It is all the more reason why a coach with a more traditional, fundamental approach might have been the way to go.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
So what happens if come January or February the Lakers find the pieces don't fit D'Antoni's system. Can you expect him to change? (Has he ever?) Or do you get desperate at the trading deadline?
Twice in his career, Nash has been the NBA's Most Valuable Player. This time he merely will have to be that for his team, even as he hardly holds the keys for his team's defensive woes, a legitimate perimeter stopper still lacking (something World Peace hasn't been for years).
Those who derided the Heat at the start of 2010-'11 and, indeed, for much of that season, said the Heat never stood as a team, but merely as three independent contractors. Until, at the moment of truth, they became a team, albeit not as much of a team as the Mavericks in the 2011 Finals.
The challenge is the same for these Lakers. It took the Heat 17 games in 2010 to figure it out. The Lakers, because of injury, coaching change, system realignment, have taken a bit longer.
It can, though, be done. It has been done.
Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.
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