The Los Angeles Lakers won't exactly be ringing in the New Year with championship-or-bust goals as they did the previous two seasons following NBA titles.

With the Clippers taking over the L.A. spotlight thanks to their acquisition of All-Star Chris Paul, the Lakers are already facing some early-season adversity.

Kobe Bryant was listed as day-to-day with a torn wrist ligament but said he will play through the pain. Center Andrew Bynum is suspended for the first five games for a flagrant foul against J.J. Barea in the playoffs. And guard Derek Fisher is still recovering from the lockout, in which the demands of being president of the National Basketball Players Association didn't allow him to condition.

Having three starters not at full strength is not a good sign for a team trying to get comfortable in new coach Mike Brown's system.

Not to mention the Lakers' schedule in the 66-game format is hardly easy. They open against the Chicago Bulls on Christmas Day and play back-to-back-to-back in the first three games.

All this adversity comes after a proposed trade would have sent Pau Gasol to the Rockets, Lamar Odom to the Hornets and Paul to the Lakers.

Instead, that deal was blocked by commissioner David Stern, and Odom instead was dealt to the Mavericks.

A frustrated Bryant, who is getting divorced from his wife of 10 years, told the Los Angeles Times, "I'm not sure what the hell the direction is."

Not the words you want to hear from your franchise player.

- Scott Gleeson