Welcome to the longest week of our lives, Lakers fans…
*Phil Jackson is set to make a decision on his coaching future at the end of this week and honestly the waiting is going to kill me. In the same way that Cavs fans are wondering if Lebron is going to stay or go, I’m wondering what Phil is going to decide. Last week he said he’s leaning towards retiring, but recently also said that his 13 total championships (11 as a coach, 2 as a player with the Knicks) may be an unlucky number to stop at. So, as like everything else with Phil, who knows what his decision is going to be. I’m hopeful that he returns for at least one more season as an unprecedented 4th three-peat as coach is an achievement that he has the inside track on. But as a fan of the Lakers, I’m selfish like that. I want the best chance possible for the Lakers to win and that means a team led by Phil. However, all we can do now is wait on his decision.
*If Phil does indeed step down as head man, the two names out there as potential replacements are Byron Scott and Brian Shaw. Both of these guys are qualified head coaches in this league, but I’d definitely lean towards Shaw. As Wondahbap detailed over at Silver Screen and Roll (with some opinions from other folks including yours truly), Scott is a coach that has had good results as a defensive minded coach but often faltered with a grating style and suspect offensive schemes. I don’t think Scott is a bad coach (the Lakers could do much worse), but I think the continuity that Shaw would provide is an invaluable ingredient towards continuing the Lakers current run of success (an idea that Kurt over at PBT also makes quite well).
*However, if the Lakers really do want Shaw they’ll (potentially) have some competition for his services as the current Lakers #2 has been granted permission to speak with the Cavs as a candidate to fill their vacant head coaching post. Uh, I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer to keep Shaw in house. Even if Phil does return, I’d like to keep Shaw on the Lakers bench as a potential replacement whenever Phil does call it quits and so here’s hoping that Shaw stays in LA regardless of what transpires with Phil.
*The other big deadline looming is the beginning of free agency on July 1st. And while the Lakers don’t have the cap space to pursue the big names of Lebron, Wade, Bosh, or Dirk, there will be things for the Lakers to consider when the clock strikes midnight Eastern (or 9pm Pacific) on Wednesday. It’s now being reported and confirmed by his agent that Shannon Brown will opt out of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent. My two cents on Shannon are good for him. He’s now been a solid contributor on a team that won back to back titles and he’s looking to parlay that into a more secure financial future. Remember, Shannon’s a player that was drafted late in the first round, never had his 3rd and 4th year options picked up and ended up playing for the bi-anual exception this past season. He’s made about as much money in his career as Luke Walton did this past season. So, I don’t blame him for trying to maximize his value, especially since after next season the collective bargaining agreement will likely affect the structure and pay scale of player contracts. He really should try and get a good contract now. The Lakers will also have to deal with the UFA status of Derek Fisher. Not to mention making decisions on the restricted status of Ammo and Farmar (likely renouncing the rights to both players) and whether or not they want to offer contracts to Powell and Mbenga. Lots of decisions around Laker land right now on what the composition of the roster will be next season.
*If the Lakers did have some money to spend on the big name free agents, it’s at least good to know that they’ve got the owner and the franchise that players would want to play for first. This is where Dr. Buss really does deserve credit as he’s a smart business man that has truly capitalized on a great market (look at the Knicks and the Clippers as examples of how this can go wrong), has allowed other smart people to do their jobs, and has been loyal to current and former players while also not allowing himself to be walked on by any one. Just a great, great owner.
*Lastly, I’m thinking of doing a mailbag every once and while but would like some feedback from you guys on whether or not this is something that you’d like to see. I’d answer questions about the Lakers or the league in general and turn them into a post either once a month or every other week depending on the volume of questions. Is this something you guys would be interested in? Let me know in the comments.