Smaller title window: C's or Lakers?

Our Insiders debate which aging NBA title contenders have a brighter near future

Updated: March 31, 2011, 1:49 PM ET
By Chris Broussard and Ric Bucher | ESPN The Magazine
Kevin Garnett & Kobe BryantChristian Petersen/Getty ImagesKevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant are both getting up in years -- as are several of their teammates.

The only thing Ric Bucher and Chris Broussard like to do more than report on the NBA is argue about the NBA. So we decided to combine those two skills for Insider's weekly One-on-One series, in which they'll debate the hottest topics in the association.

Question: Who has the smaller title window, the Celtics or Lakers?

BUCHER: Looking at the age and health of the San Antonio Spurs' best players, I think we can agree that this is their last best chance to win a title. But what if we shift the argument between the next two long-in-the-tooth contenders: the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics? At the start of the season, I might've said this was Boston's last hurrah. But looking at the Celtics' trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder and the two teams' respective payrolls moving forward, I like Boston's ability to reload better than L.A.'s.

BROUSSARD: No way I can agree with you there. While I won't completely write off Boston's chances of winning a ring next season, I will emphatically state that the Lakers have a much larger window for rings beyond this season than Boston does. Consider that Shaquille O'Neal is going to have to be huge for Boston to win it this year -- something I'm not sure he can do -- let alone next year! Without him giving them that "Kendrick Perkins-like" presence in the middle next season, they won't have a shot.

Ric Bucher

NBA Reporter, ESPN The Magazine Senior Writer