Around the World (Wide Web)

Phillip Barnett —  February 1, 2011

From Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: The Lakers officially entered crisis mode Monday, when general manager Mitch Kupchak told NBA.com that the recent poor play by the two-time defending champions may drive him to make a trade to shake up an underachieving roster. “Regarding a trade, I may have to,” Kupchak said at the team’s practice facility a day after the convincing loss to the Celtics. “I’m not saying that I’ve made calls today or I’ll make them tomorrow. But I just don’t think that we’re playing as well as our talent level should allow us.” Even speaking in his usual measured tones, Kupchak’s disappointment and frustration were obvious. More importantly, while saying he had not talked to owner Jerry Buss since being controlled by the Celtics in the fourth quarter at Staples Center, Kupchak said, “I’d be surprised if he feels any different.”

From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: It’s easy and maybe even trendy to say it was Kobe’s fault. It wasn’t. True, Sunday the Lakers offense against Boston Celtics was a heavy dose of Kobe Bryant. And way too much Kobe in isolation. It’s an easy storyline to say Kobe shot too much, but it’s not wholly accurate. The reality is there is a much more symbiotic relationship between Kobe taking over and his teammates not stepping up. Kobe doesn’t need a lot of provocation to step into a vacuum and fill it up with shots (shots he was largely hitting against the Celtics Sunday, going 16 of 29). His teammates are fully capable of laying back, and, well, you’ve seen the result. It’s a spiral — as Kobe tries to fill in more his teammates tend to stand around more and the result is stagnant isolation. That’s what happened Sunday, and Phil Jackson for one backed Kobe saying it was more about his teammates. The hard truth, it was more about Pau Gasol.

From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: “Is it the playoffs yet? No. OK. It’s not the playoffs yet, we’re still playing regular season games,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said after Sunday’s loss to Boston. “We’ll get there in time.” Derek Fisher, certainly no stranger to the process of preparing for a playoff run, echoed his coach’s sentiments. “I’ve just played too many seasons and I’ve been on too many successful teams to get bunkered down on ups and downs over the course of the season that happen to everybody. That’s just part of it,” he said. So despite the Lakers’ high-profile failures in high-profile games, they’re not panicking. And they can’t. That said, they know there is work to be done. The Lakers have 34 games remaining in the regular season and if they want to reach a point where they’re good enough to win a third straight title, here are five issues they need to address.

From Mark Medina, LA Times: You decided to help out with scouting after you retired from playing. How did that opportunity come up? My last two years of playing, Frank Hamblen used to always tell me, “You’re going to be a coach.” He used to always tell me, “You need to come in and start watching film with the coaching staff and see how we put together these scouting reports.” I started to do that, and he would give me reports the coaches would have and explain to me how they were doing things. When I finished playing in 2003, I talked to Phil about staying on and coaching. He said I needed to take some time away from the guys so that they would respect me as a coach. I had just finished playing with all of them so they would just know me as a teammate with the guys on that particular team. We talked to Mitch and there was an opening in scouting in the West region, so I was doing mostly college evaluations, going to a lot of college games, tournaments and sending in evaluations on the players and who I thought was draftable and what have you. Then as the college season ended, I would do advance scouting where I would go out and whoever we were playing in the playoffs, I would stay one playoff series ahead of who we were. So in the first round, I was scouting who we could possibly play in the second round and so on. After doing that for a year and a half, Phil came back. He said, “OK, you have enough time and distance away from the guys and the only guy on the team still was Kobe, basically. Devean George was still on the team. It was all new guys so they could respect me as a coach.

From Billy Witz, Fox Sports: Finally, amid all the grim looks, stern questions and tongue-clucking from the assembled media, Lakers coach Phil Jackson came up with an answer Monday that should satiate the masses. Question: After back-to-back losses to Sacramento (gasp!) and Boston (quelle horror!) what should the team’s approach be? “Suicide,” Jackson said. Baffled questioner: Suicide? “Yes, suicide,” Jackson said.

Phillip Barnett

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15 responses to Around the World (Wide Web)

  1. We simply do not have any moveable assets (besides the core of Bynum-Gasol-Odom) to make any impactful trades. This sounds more like a shot across the bow more than anything.

    Also, I think the whole “we will wake up in the playoffs” mentality has a bad effect on our younger players. Much like any company where you earn the right to “coast” only because you have a track record of delivering results, our younger players need to learn how play hard during the regular season in order to be trusted in the playoffs. However, if every veteran on the team is coasting, that is infectious. Also, Phil doesn’t even play our promising prospects anyway. As an aside, does anyone know what Ebanks has done/not done to never get off the bench in the midst of Artest’s monumental decline and Luke’s remarkably consistent sub-average play?

  2. 1) The team misses Tex Winter.

    2) The Gasol/Bynum pairing is not producing as hoped. They don’t need strong offensive performances from both of them, with Kobe on the team. They need one of them to be willing to really focus on defense and rebounding. Neither of them has shown that yet.

  3. OC register reporting Bynum out for game with bone bruise to his knee.

  4. @#2, Disagree with the notion that neither Gasol nor Bynum has been willing to really focus on defense and rebounding. Ever since his return Bynum by actions and words has been focused on defense and rebounding.

    He’s had a bad stretch the last few games but overall he’s put in the effort on that side of the court.

  5. 2. Agreed, we need one of our bigs to be a Joakim Noah type guy, because quite frankly Gasol and Bynum have similar game, one is just more physical than the other.

    The only tradeable assets the Lakers have are our bigs and rookies. But trading a big away does nothing but hurt this team against a team like Boston and the Lakers effectively lose their identity. Trading rookies away won’t happen either because they would get less in return and with a payroll already so high it’s impossible. Quite frankly I think Mitch said that to motivate all players on the team. At this point it really makes me hate the poor contract decision on Luke, most overpaid NBA player ever.

    I wanted to make a comment about Steve Blake, I like the guy’s game overall but I haven’t seen anyone mention this at all. The guy has never been involved in any significant game in his life, he is kind of like Chris Bosh, unproven and untested especially in post season play. He may be a great player but maybe we are all seeing that the guy isn’t ready for the bright lights and big moments that come with the Lakers.

    Finally, I will always despise Trevor Ariza’s agent for messing up negotiations, he is the player the Lakers needed for the future (even after Kobe), and he would be a great player on this team right now.

  6. Darius,
    Not to burst your bubble but YOU ARE the spelling police. And if you see the timeline from the game chat you would see I mentioned Bynum’s gait in the 2nd quarter… Way before the ABC crew mentioned it in the 3rd quarter ;) I mean it’s not a big deal… I’m just a basketball genius.

  7. Darius,
    Not to burst your bubble but YOU ARE the spelling police. And if you see the timeline from the game chat you would see I mentioned Bynum’s gait in the 2nd quarter… Way before the ABC crew mentioned it in the 3rd quarter ;) I mean it’s not a big deal… I’m just a basketball genius.

    Re: Blake
    What’s wrong with him? Nothing is wrong with him. He was always a solid back up PG… Nothing more and nothing less.

    Re: Ariza
    Are you kidding me? He has been a very bad basketball player this year. He was a very bad basketball player last year. He has been a very bad basketball player every year in fact besides that one playoff run with the Lakers. Where he could actually shoot. I mean he still couldn’t play one on one defense that year either as even Hedu tore him up in the Finals. You think Artest can’t shoot at 36 percent from three? Try Ariza at below 30 percent.

  8. Ariza would only be a good complement player to Artest. The same as Barnes. The problem is we wouldn’t have Barnes’ toughness or rebounding if we still signed both Artest and Ariza. Our problem is Luke. He is useless and handcuffs our ability to trade for a more serviceable player.

  9. The general malaise we are feeling is premised upon one simple focus: the team opted to stock up on veterans for the playoffs. That means this veteran-laden team will suffer more through the regular season grind, but hopefully be more focused for the playoffs.

    Maybe that’s too simplistic. But if we are trying to think of ways to improve by trades, simply going “younger” is not dispositive.

  10. Can it be as simple as this:

    When the Lakers win the rebounding battle, they win the game. It all goes back to true grit on D.

    No?

  11. I am glad to see people being open minded and talking about possible trade. We all know that is not going to happen, but Ron Artest and another bench player would be your best bet at this point. Whether he is soft or not, Pau is to talanted to give away and Bynum, even though he is overrated now, is too young and is only going to get better. Then there is Fisher, but no will take him and he belongs on the Lakers. Trading is hard with this team because I think its more about the lack of chemistry this team has more than individual players who have just stunk. You would need to find someone who really fits into the system.

  12. I disagree that Gasol and Bynum are basically the same player. We have always harped on how Gasol is not really a center. Pau Gasol is a power forward. His game is best when he is 10 to 15 from the rim in the high post area. It gives him more room to work with his diverse set of moves. It also allows him to see both sides of the floor and be the great passer that he is. If Gasol and Bynum are indeed the same player now then Gasol has regressed. At his best he is a good center. However, he is a great power forward. That was the main reason most Laker fans shot down the “proposed” Chris Bosh for Andrew Bynum trade last season.

    Regarding trades, I don’t see any coming. Mitch’s m.o. has always been to surprise people with his moves. He has not really been one to announce or allude to trades, especially in season. He is trying to motivate the team. We all know Kobe, Pau, Andrew, and Lamar are not going anywhere. No one is taking Luke or Ron’s contracts. And the rest of the guys don’t make enough money to net any impact players.

  13. 4) CHownoir,
    If Bynum’s focus has been on rebounding and defense, then the Lakers are really in trouble!
    Gasol does not have enough of an outside game to really stretch the defense, or at least hasn’t displayed that consistently. He is much more of an inside-10 feet player, as is Bynum. So their offensive strengths cancel each other out to some degree.

  14. Aaron, you are looking at Ariza on a New Orleans team where he needs to be a reliable scoring option behind Chris Paul. That is NOT what he was here and nor would he be if he was still around. Here in LA all he needs to do is play sound defense, finish athletically around the rim, and knock down an open shot or two, he has shown he is capable of doing this on a team where he doesn’t need to be the go to guy. You are referring to him like we need another Kobe or something. How many wide open shots do you think he gets in NOLA compared to here? Not many. He has the potential to be a great role player here and that’s all the Lakers would have needed him for, plus the fact that hes still young and has room for improvement under Kobe’s wing. As far as that year against Turkoglu on defense, do you know how much Hedo probably outweighs him? He did a solid job given that fact on defense, he used his long reach to challenge shots as effectively as he could. You think Artest could do any better? He can’t even jump and quite frankly his offense has become a liability for this team, especially around the rim. You claim to know so much about basketball but your comment holds no logic. He was a big part of the Lakers title two years ago whether you want to admit it or not.

    14. Gasol and Bynum are both primarily back to the basket players, Gasol just shoots more outside shots now that he has developed it but Drew can hit a few of those as well when he is healthy, he has shown he is capable of it. They both really play the exact same thats why they aren’t dynamite together in the game. Sure Gasol has a few years of mastering his footwork and ball skills around the rim, but Bynum is young and that will come with experience. They really are very similar if you think about it, Bynum is just a bigger guy with broader shoulders but that doesn’t mean Gasol isn’t capable of playing Center because the guy did it for 3 straight title runs.