Earning My Lunch Money

 —  May 16, 2005

Bunch of thoughts from a bunch of different things this past weekend.

• Let’s get the Phil Jackson stuff out of the way (I’m growing weary of the Buss/Jackson dance the same way I was weary of the Shaq/Kobe “As The Basketball Turns” soap opera).

Phil Jackson spoke to the LA Times and said, “the current roster is not appealing at all” and then turned around and said. “There’s no doubt this team was much more talented than their record showed.” In a Zen way, however, those contradictory statements are both true. In a radio interview Sunday on TJ Simers program, Buss said the same things he did at his last interview — Phil is at the top of a very short list of coaching candidates. The one new bit of information is that the new coach will not be a current college coach (whew) or a current assistant. That narrows the field for those looking ahead.

Buss told a number of media he wanted a decision made by May 15, then Jackson tells the Times he is in no rush to make any kind of decision. It’s all negotiations through the press. Forget May 15, the real deadline is closer to June 15, a couple of weeks before the draft. Sadly, that could mean another month of posturing and negotiations through the media.

• On a more interesting note, can we talk about how much fun the NBA playoffs have become? I thought we’d have to wait a round for things to pick up.

My new favorite series is Seattle and San Antonio because of the great coaching job by Nate McMillan and his staff (including a guy I look up to) — it’s a gutsy move to go after Tim Duncan’s defense. In game three, the Sonics moved their pick and roll farther away from the basket and when Duncan jumped out the Sonics used their quick guards to drive past him, which led to a lot of easy points in the paint. The Spurs adjusted the next game but the Sonics were one step ahead, having their guards not drive all the way to the hole but rather hit the 12 to 18-foot jumper (a renaissance, at least for a series, of the lost art of the mid-range jumper). On defense, the Sonics have packed it in on Tony Parker and dared him to beat them with his jumper — he shot just 40.5% (eFG%) during the regular season from more than 15 feet out, and in the playoffs that has fallen to 36.7%. Add to that that the Sonics have a host of big bodies to throw inside and bang around and this gets interesting. I’ll still take the Spurs, but the Sonics have been better than I thought the way they limped into the playoffs.

• When was the last time you watched a series as entertaining as Dallas and Phoenix? Dan Rosenbaum from 82games.com did a great breakdown of how these two teams got here on Sports Illustrated’s Web site, one of the must reads of the week.

• Who do you think was better, the 1992-93 high octane Suns or the 2004-05 run-and-gun Suns? The answers Hoopsanalyst got surprised me.

• Heading into this weekend, TNT’s NBA playoff ratings were close to last year’s, however ABC’s are down by a third. My read would be that the real NBA fans are still watching, but the casual fans drawn in the by the Laker dynasty/circus have tuned out.

• If you want to get a standard mainstream media member’s perspective on the state of the Lakers, as well as the Dodgers and more, the Times JA Adande has a long interview up with LAist.

• Jeannie Buss will be representing the Lakers at the lottery, rumor is. Good choice. She is the best face for the organization — and I don’t just mean her looks.