Evaluation Of The Present Will Determine The Path Ahead

Darius Soriano —  May 9, 2011

There will be a new NBA Champion this year.

This is something that the Lakers players, coaches, executives, and fans face today. Sometime in June there will be a final buzzer with confetti, tears of joy, and champagne spraying and the guys we root for will be missing from the celebration. They’ll be on vacation somewhere while we watch from our couches (at least I’ll be watching).

The league moves on quickly and those teams that fall behind in the wake of those that advance are capsized and forgotten. Such is the way of sports. We haven’t felt this way in some time, but we confront these feelings today as fans of this team.

There is anger, disappointment, grief, and frustration. It’s hard to watch this team go out the way that it did and not be upset and second guess; to point to all the errors and feel that things could have been so different. This team was pounded into submission and its players didn’t respond as we’d hoped and when they did respond it was in frustration and dirty play. This is not the team that we’ve come to expect or root for.

There’s also perspective and pride. This team – or at least its core – has achieved so much over the past three seasons. They went from a team on the brink of being disbanded at the beginning of the 2008 season to one that reached three straight Finals with two Larry O’Brien trophies to show for their efforts. Yesterday’s victimization doesn’t erase those achievements - nothing can or will. The fall from the mountain top is a hard one but the fact that the top of the mountain was reached at all is something to be cherished.

But in balancing these feelings and as the reality of what’s occurred settles in, I’m stuck thinking about where to go from here. After all, change will occur, to what extent is the question. But in even exploring that question, another question arises in which the answer will define what you think should come next.

How do you view this team?

Today, many will view this group within a vacuum. As the reasoning goes, the Phil Jackson lost this team. The offense stopped working. Discipline was short and freelancing ruled. Players failed to live up to their abilities, playing sub par basketball for extended stretches. Pau Gasol disappeared, Kobe took on the burden of doing too much and the chemistry of a champion crumbled. Lamar Odom, Ron Artest, and Derek Fisher all came up short when their team needed them the most and the bench did little to support them in this time of need. There are varying degrees of truth to all of this and I would not blame people for taking this approach. After all, we do live in a world judged on wins and losses and instant-critiques.

This mindset naturally lends itself to the Magic Johnson school of thought: blow up the team. They are too old, not athletic enough, and obviously are no longer built to succeed (that 2nd round sweep being the proof). With a new coach coming in, now is the time to reshape this team in the mold of its new leader; emphasizing a new style to match the new voice.

The long view offers a different shaded lens.  This team needs not a new core of players but trims around the edges. Younger more athletic players are needed but not at the expense of the size and big man play that’s been so successful up to this point. A bad playoffs isn’t an indictment of the approach, it’s the result of so many long and arduous battles. As Phil Jackson said after the game yesterday, continuing to respond to the nightly assaults of hungry teams is exhausting mentally and physically over the course of multiple seasons. This team doesn’t need to be completely torn apart, it needs rest to reset their minds and bodies and prepare for a new push next season.

For me, I’m much more aligned with the latter point of view. An influx of youth, perimeter defense, and shooting is needed. But, the Laker big men and Kobe are still quite capable of leading this team to a championship. The players that surround them need to be looked at closely in order to maximize the results from the entire team. This isn’t to scapegoat the bench (though they did perform poorly) but rather to look at the overall weaknesses of this group and try to improve them. The problem with this approach is improving the team without giving up a core player will be difficult.

Ultimately, the future begins today but how the team approaches that future will depend on what they think of their core, who they think their core is, and what an evaluation of the mental make up of the roster produces (not to mention who the next coach is). Patience will be key, but practicing patience after early playoff exits is quite difficult. I trust this team to make the right decisions but defining what’s “right” will probably depend on your perspective after this loss.

Darius Soriano

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82 responses to Evaluation Of The Present Will Determine The Path Ahead

  1. kehntangibles May 9, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Reposted from previous thread, hope you don’t mind.

    I’m not ready yet to think about what changes we make. We do have to make changes – that much is clear. And it starts wtih a new coach. I have to put my trust in the group that’s got us this far. We crapped the bed in the worst way possible yesterday, but even in spite of all that, this or any future championship has never been guaranteed so you have to trust the minds that got us this far.

    I’m not going to waste many more braincells dissecting the 2010-11 campaign, but I think there is something valuable we can take away from it.

    Winning a championship is hard, hard work and an epic struggle in every sense of the word. We found out that sometimes you go through the ups and downs of the season, but there’s no pot of gold at the end. Sometimes you do exactly what’s worked before, armed with the knowledge that it HAS worked before… and it doesn’t.

    There is such a fine line between success and failure in the NBA – last year, as with this year, anything short of a ring would have been a failure. We remember how close we came to losing game 7, but we only understand the concept of losing game 7 in an abstract sense, because it didn’t actually happen. We had no shortage of angst-ridden moments where we saw the title slipping away, but never had to see that nightmare play out before us at Staples Center because, in true Hollywood fashion, the good guys banded together in the end and treated us all to a happy ending.

    This time, we didn’t come together when it mattered most, we didn’t conquer the obstacles put in our path. There was no happy ending and there sure as hell wasn’t a gallant last stand. The NBA playoffs aren’t a Hollywood movie; they’re a grueling battle and winning a title once, let along two or five times is truly a feat and not something that just comes served up for you to take. It’s not the feather in the cap that we wanted for Phil or Kobe’s legacy, but it doesn’t diminish that some formidable legacy one bit.

  2. This evaluation starts with Pau Gasol.

    Who is Pau?

    Is he the wimp we have had to deal with for the last two thirds of this season, or the MVP-caliber, option 1A player we saw at the beginning?

    When the FO have answered this question they can start to look at the rest of the team. Does Bynum have to be 1A? Or is Pau still that corner stone? etc

  3. Could not agree more with the patience point of view. Had the internet been around in 1986 Im quite sure the sky would of been falling like it is today. Kareem is to old to battle the Twin Towers, lets move Worthy for Aguirre. Scott cannot play on the road, ect, ect.

    The Lakers ended up being a couple of hamstrings away from 3 peating. The Lakers had reached the Finals in 82,83,84 and 85 FINALLY conquering the Celtics in 1985. Sound familar? There is juice left in the orange, but LA just did not have the strength to squeeze the orange. Expect a reenergized, refocused group with a serious chip on there shoulder. Good things ahead.

  4. As I just wrote in the previous post I too think this team can win/compete for another title next year without major changes.

    We need more perimeter quickness and athleticism. We need more focus, which should come with not only the bitterness from this years failure, but a new coach.

    We need to find ways to reduce Pau’s minutes, much like we did Kobe this year (although I’d hope he could practice with the team more).

    We need 3pt threats. All too often teams just dared us to take 3s, thereby reducing the effectiveness of our interior length.

    We need to rely less on Kobe isos down the stretch. He’s still great, but slowed down just enough that he can’t do it all himself night after night.

    Magic is my favorite Laker of all time, but I have never been quite as impressed with his basketball analysis since. To me there are only a few ways that ‘blowing up’ the team would make any sense. 1) the new CBA prevents us from adding the things we need without trading one or more of our top pieces. 2) unsolveable locker room dissension. 3) the decision that Drew’s growing presence into a traditional low post big man is incompatible with our more finesse bigs like Pau and Odom.

    That last point might be as important as any for whomever the new coach will be. Do we structure our offense in a more traditional big center kind of way or not? That decision will impact all of the other player personnel choices that need to be made.

  5. Among the personnel changes that we are expecting and/or suggesting, the mental focus was not there for this squad. One thing this team didn’t have that the previous 2 championship teams did was a key player going for their first title. In 2009, we had everyone not named Kobe and Fisher going for their first chip (along with the fact that Kobe wanted his important ring minus Shaq). The 2010 team had new guy Ron Artest going for, as he would say, the “one thing he hadn’t yet accomplished”. Do you think this 2011 team was going to muster all it had for the likes of bench disappointments Steve Blake and Matt Barnes? I’m not saying that they shouldn’t have pushed for the title this year. But psychologically, maybe it just wasn’t as appealing at previous years. The only player that I never questioned in this Dallas series was Kobe. But he has a motivation that I have never seen from any other NBA player. With some new KEY players added next year and the anger from this season still bubbling, I’m hoping to see a fire from this squad.

  6. I’d say there is at least 22-24 teams in the league that would love to be in the position the Lakers are in today. This team does not need to be blown up. Especially considering the cap situation and salary commitments.

    I have faith in Mitch and the Buss ownership to do what’s right for the franchise. In this case, I will gladly look at past performance to predict future results.

    Ebanks has shown very good potential to be that slashing athletic wing defender that’s needed. He’s also shown flashes of a scoring game.

    If this team has a dependable shooter and slasher from the guard position, it makes the entire offense a lot smoother.

    Finding a guard with those skill sets is a lot easier with the cap limitations than it is finding skilled big men the Lakers currently have.

    Panicking has never been a successful way of making any kind of decision in life or business.

  7. How can they get athletic, defensive wings/PGs without giving up something valuable? I don’t think they can get good perimiter players back by trading away Blake, Barnes, Artest, or Fisher. They are not valuable assets to any teams after this sweep.

  8. Q, you’re absolutely correct that the lakers cap/financial situation will make it quite hard to add anything of great value without trading someone of ‘stature’ of which the lakers have only a few.

    Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if the teams basically stands pat and hopes that blake and artest can find their 3pt stroke. It also wouldn’t shock me to see Buss trade someone of value. He has shown a willingness to shake things up. With as mucj money as he has invested in payroll I cant see him standing pat if he doesn’t think tweaks will be enough to seriously compete for a title; losing in the 2nd round doesn’t justify the payroll.

    Matt, I think focus was a huge problem this year. When you’ve won titles you know, even if subconsciously, that the only games that matter are in Apr to June. With that attitude it is hard to develop the habits in Dec-Feb that you ultimate do need to win in the playoffs. After this unsuccessful year I think the Lakers will be much more focused next year. But the front office cannot count on that being enough.

  9. 7. Q. I agree with you. A true upgrade at the perimeter and PG position is going to cost the Lakers one of the bigs, and may even appear lopsided. Memphis’ GM took so much grief for the Gasol trade, do you want to be the GM that gave up the stud PG to the Lakers and allowed them to re-tool?

    That is why I do not understand how a lot of Lakers fans think we can painlessly upgrade our talent. We have a lot of talent; it just happens to be concentrated in our big men, whom we can only play 2 at any given moment, and especially during crunch time. We have taken an inverted approach to age and athleticism. Big men tend to age better than perimeter players. Going past 30 is usually a death knell for most perimeter oriented players. Also, it’s not like Mitch hasn’t tried to recruit 3 point shooters (Vlad, Sasha, Blake). For some reason, they just tend to play flat in LA.

    I think we may be due for another evolution of Kobe when it’s all said and done. But it’s a circular event. If Kobe’s teammates don’t pick up the slack, Kobe rightfully tends to go ‘hero’ mode. But if he goes hero mode, then the same players shrink. That is the cold hard fact that we Lakers fans are facing. Kobe is human, and his humanity is painfully on display. He is still a top 12 player, but physiological gravity will ensure that he will be a top 5 player for moments, not for seasons anymore. I am ok with that. It’s just that both the team and Kobe need to come to terms with this and find complimentary parts. Fisher, our lionheart, no longer is that kind of complimentary part, nor is Blake.

    (as an aside, who are people cheering for, if you are cheering at all? Here’s my order: 1. anyone but the Celtics, Miami. 2. Thunder, but am loving this less because of Perk the Jerk).

  10. my cheering order:

    grizzlies>bulls>mavericks>thunders>hawks>>>>>>>>>>>>>heat>celtics

  11. Well, Kupchak can try to talk Walton and Fisher into retirement.

  12. What happens next depends on how willing Kobe is to changing his game. And it’s a big if.

    But, if I were Mitch, and looking at a window of two to three years for continuing to go to war with Kobe, I’d trade for Nash, who can manage the floor, and bring harmony to the locker room. Plus, it wouldn’t hurt Kobe to pay attention to what Nash has done to keep playing at a high level at his age.

    Kobe’s game would have to change somewhat, from his pure scorer game, to a game more like Jerry West’s, but partner him with Nash, and you’ll see something amazing come out of that. It would allow Kobe to pick his moments.

    Remember, the main difference between Kobe’s and MJ’s top 10 highlight reel is that the latter’s includes at least two passes.

  13. kehntangibles May 9, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    @9 – that’s exactly what my rooting interest is.

    As for specifically who to root for between the Heat and the Lepers: I’m rooting for an alien laser attack. Failing that, I have this dilemma: I can at least respect the Celtics as a former championship team and true rival. On the other hand, if the Celtics advance where we didn’t, we’d never hear the end of it from their fans. Whereas, if Miami advances, they have all of what… fourteen fans? And one of them (LeBron’s mom) is in jail.

  14. in spite of all we saw, I still think that if 2010 Pau had showed up for these playoffs, we would be talking about a threepeat.

    that’s a huge part of why we couldn’t close 4th quarters, is because after you double Kobe, nobody else had what it takes to push through and manufacture points when we needed them. Pau was there last post season. This post season, he was a turnover machine. I have no idea what it would take to get him back to his old form, but if he’s back to being what he was, the solution to fixing the Lakers is pretty easy, they just need to address shooting and athleticism. Same thing we tried and failed to do last offseason.

  15. Iggy: 2009 Finals, Kobe to Fish for 3….2000 Conference Finals, Kobe to Shaq lob. Id have those 2 plays in his highlight reel.

  16. Everyone keep saying that they don’t want the team to be “blown up” – I’m not sure if you all are just too attached to the team, but its obvious that it is not working. We are too old, not athletic enough, Pau and Kobe are in decline, we have no bench, and as Magic said, the guys are probably tired of playing with each other.

    As I’ve said many previous threads, we can no longer win with Kobe as the primary offensive option. If he keeps thinking he is the best player in the NBA and dominating the ball it will hurt the team. We need to bring in some superstar talent and Kobe needs to shift to a supporting/mentor role.

    (edited for trade speculation.)

  17. kwame.. not even close to MJ to Paxson or MJ to Kerr. Sorry.

  18. I think this is a very difficult issue. “Blowing up” the team simply because they got swept in the 2nd round might not be an appropriate response. However, if the Lakers have a chance to make a significant upgrade to the PG and Center positions by trading their two current big guys, that would probably constitute “blowing up” the team, and would make a lot of sense.

    A lot depends on your view of Pau. If you think the 2008 and 2011 version of Pau was an anomaly, then you stand pat. If you believe that the 2009 and 2010 version was the anomaly, and was made possible by a better version of Kobe than we’ll ever likely see again, then you have to consider moving him. I tend to be the latter camp, but only slightly.

    The “new” NBA is one where teams like Chicago and Miami can trot out teams that can run the floor in ways that the current Laker roster will never be able to do. Beating up tempo teams is easier when those teams don’t play any defense (see, e.g., Phoenix or the Knicks) but when they start playing defense they can be devastating (see, e.g., Chicago and Dallas).

    I’d love to see the Lakers retain their core and improve at the PG spot and get better shooters off the bench. However, is this possible given: (i) the CBA; and (ii) the utter lack of any tradeable assests NOT part of the core?

    I am guessing that as for next year, the easiest way to make a big change is not to “blow up” the team as Magic suggested, but to blow up the team’s mindset. Patience, calmness, zen, and all that Phil Jackson brought to the Lakers had its run, but it also failed them this year. Perhaps installing a fiery coach who can instill a sense of hunger is the best and most practical way to go. Someone with a history of getting older players to change their mindset and play defense, and to emphasize “team” over “self.” Someone, that is, like Jerry Sloan or Doc Rivers.

    You’re going to need a new coach regardless of the salary cap, so maybe the safest bet is to hire a proven winner with a completely different approach from PJ. Give that a try for a year or two (Sloan might be tempted by a 2 year deal), and if that doesn’t work then pull out the dynamite and blow this thing to kingdom come.

  19. it wasn’t the best end but I keep reminding myself that this team went to the finals 3 straight years. Perhaps asking them to reach the finals again (4 straight times) was a bit unfair. They’ve seemed a bit exhausted and all season and in the playoffs they didnt have that edge that they usually do and ended up making mistakes their opponents usually do.

  20. #18. Do you mean Paxon’s jumper to beat the Suns in the 1993 Finals? If so, I’ve got some bad news for you. Jordan didn’t pass Paxon the ball. He passed ahead to Pippen from the back court, Pippen – after penetrating – hit Grant, and then Grant hit Paxon. So, Jordan wouldn’t even get the hockey assist on that play.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnAr4I3-Z48

  21. #17. I’ve edited your comment for trade speculation. At some point, I’ll post threads that look at trades and who fans would like to acquire and how. But this thread isn’t one of them. Thanks for understanding.

  22. Darius.. game 5, 1991

  23. btw, not meant to rag on Kobe. Just suggesting a way for him to continue to be great while his physical skills decline.

    Someone with such a high BBL IQ should be able to adapt to changing circumstances, and team up with another player who can complement him.

  24. what people forget to mention is that this looming extented lockout would do wonders for Kobe’s game. He has basically been playing non-stop basketball since 2008. The extra rest could produce fresh legs and a renewed hunger.
    Also, I don’t get why some people on this site are asking for JVG? Really? Has he ever won anything? The last significant event he was part of was the alonzo leg-grabbing incident.

  25. Why is it that players who seemed to be decent come to LA and struggle, e.g. Barnes/Blake? The stage is too big for them? The stakes are too high?

  26. I haven’t read the comments in the prior posts (too depressed), so this may have already been mentioned. One thing that stuck me about this group is that they never seemed as cohesive even when they were winning. There’s some speculation that there was a problem in the locker room that affected the team on the court. I keep thinking that something must have happened around the time of the Denver loss which began their late season swoon. It’s hard to believe that a team that was rolling like they were turns around and loses five in a row.

    My long-winded point being that maybe it’s a personality issue vs. a skill issue, which may require more significant changes.

  27. Iggy, Kobe’s lob to Shaq in ’00 was more iconic than any of MJ’s passes, ever. I see it way more often on NBA highlight reels than any pass to Kerr or Paxson. I’ll grant that Shaq’s dunk is a more impressive finish than a perimeter jumper, but come on, now, give that play some dap.

    That pass was set up by his abusing Pippen on the crossover, which in turn was set up by his canning the jumper over Pippen on the previous possession. Next time you see it, just watch how hard Pippen bites on the crossover.

    Ah, memory lane…feels pretty comforting today!

  28. #23. Thanks for clarifying. I thought Paxon and immediately thought of the Suns series. That was such a big shot.

  29. #26: That’s a great question. I think it has to do with the biggest question concerning the Lakers: whether this organization stays wedded to the triangle offense.

    An offense you’d teach to kids successfully , but pros have trouble learning it. For example, everyone wants a PG(CP3?) but this system needs no PG. A great PG’s skills would be wasted, because he would not be doing the things that made him great. But a BJ Armstrong… he’s got his rings.

    And I’m thinking that the Buss family would like to go away from the triangle, which spells trouble for Brian Shaw. In order to do so, though, the personnel has to be changed.

    So, do we really want the triangle to stay or do we want to see a new system in place for the new coach?

  30. There’s a lot to consider. I think Kobe has 2-3 solid years left but you’ve got to really watch his minutes and his body – no injuries of any kind! But who else can you say that about with certainty? Pau? Bynum’s knees? There are bloated salaries, I would say Luke and unfortunately fisher (maybe he can be a player/assistant coach). And what kind of coach do you want? Shaw? Adelman? Doc? Odom is probably the best person you could trade, but why? I would like to think that Barnes and Blake had bad years, Pau as well. But with a declining Kobe, is Pau really a solid # 2? Is Odom a solid # 3 or 4 guy if Bynum and Pau are not healthy? Will Artest commit to 82 games and not do double work outs as he did for most of the regular season – and would that make a difference? It’s not so easy as blowing it up – unless someone wants out.

  31. If Kobe ever gets a shooter like Kerr, Paxson or Armstrong, then we’d probably get a lot more highlight passes.

    Take a look the shooting percentages from 3 those guys had. Those guys shot in mid 40′s from 3 point range most of their careers. Kerr hit over 50% one year. Have the Lakers ever had a guy hit more than low 40′s for the year? Let alone for career?

    Blake was the closest thing to it having been in the 40′s the last few years and Kobe hit him with a pass for the game winner the first game of the year. Too bad Blake’s shot completely deserted him.

    Heck Glen Rice, the supposed star shooter didn’t even break 40% from 3 in his two years with Lakers. And for career he’s right at 40%.

    I don’t want to turn this into another MJ vs Kobe argument. But let’s be realistic here.

  32. It is really too early to talk a lot about changes. We have to see what the CBA brings and we just have to ‘cool our jets’ and let some time go by. Right now we are all too involved with what has happened this year to say much with any insight or intelligence.

  33. “Younger more athletic players are needed but not at the expense of the size and big man play that’s been so successful up to this point.”

    Size is important, yes, but I don’t think the current collection of big men is cutting it anymore. There’s no real cohesion between our big front court – as I’ve stated before, in my opinion this was brought on by Andrew’s improved play. There should be a shake-up of at least one major piece in the front court. To re-invigorate the existing roster, make things interesting again, etc. Many variables are up in the air, especially with the coaching position being open – gonna be an interesting summer for Laker fans.

  34. iggy-i do agree that his bball iq should let him play a more balanced game. Ive always wanted as much, but at this point am resigned to an ‘it is what it is’ viewpoint on his “attacker” v. “facilitator” mode

  35. It’s definitely early to talk about blowing the team up, both in terms of the CBA and the murky view of available talent. However, this team does have some compatibility issues in terms of playing style.

    Take Kobe, for example. In 09-10, we saw him increasingly go to a post game that was devastatingly effective. Remember, before he got banged up in the second half of the season, his efficiency was near a career high. With him losing a (half?) step–see his drastic decrease in FT attempts in the playoffs–there is every reason why Kobe should plant his body facing away from the basket more and more. It’s what he knew he should evolve into, and somehow that didn’t happen this year. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Bynum’s offensive game took on a more important role. The Lakers have a logjam of post game players. Gasol’s best O game is also his post game; this is not to say Kobe and Pau’s face up game isn’t good, they’re both tremendous, but the the duplicity of their post up games is negating the variety of their individual talents.

    Similarly, Phil had not been going to a Bynum-Gasol-Odom frontcourt even though they are the 2nd through 4th best players on the team. Would it work as a regular lineup? I don’t think anyone can definitively say. But that Phil didn’t think it was optimal for the team leaves one of the great talents of the team on the bench at the most important moments of each game.

    These are real team compositional issues that the Lakers have had from 08 til now. These problems were sometimes solved through Bynum’s injuries and slow returns, Kobe’s hot outside shooting (e.g., WCF against the Suns), excellent play all around or measures of good luck. Of course the size of the team is a great strength, but we still have to measure that strength against possibly utilizing the players to a better extent.

  36. I sure would like to see the lakes move away from the triangle. i think it is too complicated and new players can’t be integrated unless they have super bb iq.

    lakers couldn’t make any meaningful trades by the deadline cause it wouldn’t have made any difference. Player probably wouldn’t know the offense and PJ would never play him.

    I love PJ but i hope they don’t hire shaw as head coach. he will bring more of the same approach and these players need some discipline – i vote for sloan.

    jvg – never!!! this guy bad mouths the lakers all the time – why would we want him? he is so biased against the lakers i mute the tv when he is calling the games.

    And please – some how, get rid of luke walton. i know no team wants him but please somehow package him in a trade.

  37. Renato Afonso May 9, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    You guys tackled a lot of subjects that actually need to be properly discussed by Kupchak and the Buss family.

    a) The first order of business is: what kind of system do we want? And I’m not talking about offense only, transition defense is as important if not more nowadays. Pick the system first and then slect the coach you want. The triangle, as I explained in full detail about 5 years ago (if Darius could get me the link to that article, I would appreciate), requires a certain skill set and our starting lineup almost has it on paper. Unfortunately, people get old and some adjusting is needed. I think we should keep the triangle in place because we simply cannot trade enough pieces to completely change what we have (more on that below)

    b) Since the Mavs swept us, it is only fair to assume that they have more merit than most people give them. Sure, we sucked, but they also have a great team who is built specifically to knock out the Lakers. People forget it, but Cuban really gambled on building a team he felt could take on us. He finally got it in 2011… The key, contrary to what most people believe, is not catching us on the fast break or slashing to the rim all the time. The key is use the pick and roll to create some penetration and pass the ball outside to the open man, since our defense will be scrambling. Add that to a stretch four that pulls one of our bigs from the area near the rim and suddenly we have a team that can pick and roll us to death, shoot over us (not drive straight to our bigs) and battle for rebounds as equals.The players we have are not suited to win it all anymore. The secret is out there and a team out West has it already…

    c) We’re in salary cap hell for years to come. I did enjoy watching the big lineup we got on the floor game 3 (LO, Pau, Bynum) and I think that with enough practice it could actually work against certain teams, but those are our only trade assets and we wouldn’t get much back. I assume the front office will do the smart thing and let them stay. Kobe is not moving. Everyone else, except Ebanks, is expendable. Caracter had a great summer league but then he did that bonehead thing. Is he reliable? And Artest and the killer B’s… Just wish we could trade him, but noone will take any of them. Sure, we should trade those four players for a big defensive PG who can shoot the 3, a 3pt specialist as backup SG and two energy/defensive guys for SF/PF, but it isn’t going to happen. Really, it’s not happening…

    d) We have no idea how the new CBA is going to be. I don’t think it will benefit the richer teams, such as ours, and we may not be able to trade anyone due to their bad contracts. However, it’s Kupchak’s duty to find ways to make it happen.If we could trade Artest and the Killer B’s, we would be ideally be able to relegate Fisher to the bench, get more minutes for LO at SF (depending on matchups), get a couple of shooters and some energy guys (Ebanks being one?) and we would be in the race…

    e) We may not be able to win it again with this core, due to their limited chances to do so. But no matter what the result will be, once Fisher, LO, Artest and the Killer B’s are near the end of their contracts, it is our duty to blow up the team. And by blowing up, I mean getting a new system a new coach and keep the core of Bynum, Gasol (now older) and Kobe (not carrying the team anymore) with maybe Ebanks and some young guns. Will it work? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe this team will slowly morph into the post Magic Lakers, aka, the Lake Show. But believe it or not, the team that I am most fond off is the team with Eddie Jones as rookie and sophomore. They played hard, tried to do things their way even when they were overmatched nad it was just fun. But if those are the dark days ahead, then everything will be fine soon enough…

  38. 30- with Phil out, the triangle may be done in LA. But regardless of what offensive scheme we go with next season, the team still needs a younger more athletic PG for defensive purposes. Blake and Dfish couldn’t keep JJ Barrea from going anywhere he wanted on the court, with or without the Pick n Roll. The next generation Laker PG doesn’t have to be a dynamic player, Memphis has gotten this far with Mike Conley. But, triangle or not, an upgrade at that position is probably the number 2 thing on Kupchaks list behind a new coach.

    I’d probably have to say the Blake signing and the Sasha trade, while independently making sense, both doomed us as a defensive squad. We were left with not enough players who could consistently stop penetration, and put all the weight of the defense on Bynum and his ability to clean up blow-by’s.

    Lastly, I think exit interviews are going to be a big part of where Kupchak goes. We had so many players start off the season on the right foot and end up in the gutter during the last 10 games of the regular season and in the playoffs. Pau is the best example, but remember how well Shannon started the season? Barnes had some great early season performances. Even Blake was hitting big shots early in the season. Odom was almost an AllStar selection. Where did that go? Was it chemistry, or personal issues/agendas that lead to the downfall of that wonderful play from all those guys? I think the exit interviews will reveal some of that, and help tip Kupchak’s hand in rebuilding.

  39. One big question I’ve not seen discussed much here is what happened to throw off the chemistry? Unlike other losses, say 2008, 2004 or 1989, for example, we can’t look back and say, “Well if so and so hadn’t been hurt…”

    This time everyone was there. They just weren’t in it like they should have been. And that’s cause for concern.

    There’s not enough evidence to suggest this Pau-Kobe girlfriend rumor is legit, but something clearly led to the lack of cohesiveness on the floor. Bynum’s honest to a fault, and while his trust comments probably should have stayed in the locker room, the fact that he inappropriately aired them doesn’t mean there were no trust issues in play. Phil wasn’t able to get this team to push through adversity anymore; neither could Fisher or anyone else.

    If a wife did lead to a girlfriend leaving a player, things like that are just hard to get over and the best recourse is to make a trade. But even that may not solve the issue, since some guys may side with the player who is traded, leaving third-party resentment in play long after the fact. We can only pray that rumor isn’t true, since that would be very hard to overcome.

    That aside, this season’s team was mentally flawed from early on. Would the 2008-09 team ever have let a loss in Utah lead to a four-game losing streak in November-December? No way. Same thing with the Nuggets tip-in late in the year — one sloppy quarter, and the next thing we knew the 17-1 train had fallen totally off the tracks.

    So yes, there are some on-court holes that need filling — point guard, perimeter defense (Ebanks?) and outside shooters to name three. But the other key issue is what poisoned the camaraderie, and how can that poison be withdrawn?

    Also, will Kobe begin to cede his role, even just a little, as Alpha Dog? He’s not what he was even two years ago, and at some point he’s got to take on a different role. But will his ego ever allow him to do that? If not, I pity the new coach who gets to force him into that role.

    I could potentially envision Kobe asking to be traded again, only this time it might be the Lakers who would be happy to make such a move but the rest of the league saying, “No thanks with that contract at this point in his career.” It’s not summer 2007 anymore; Kobe’s got way more mileage than he had then.

    Buss and Kupchak have their work cut out for them, and if anyone can salvage this, my money’s on the Lakers’ front office. But it’ll be interesting either way, and possibly more painful than the fans would prefer.

  40. A couple of things hurt us this year

    - bench composition: when you look at our unused bench I think there could have been a few pick ups that would have helped more than Joe smith and theo ratliff.

    Trey came in very late but I liked the different feel he had to his game plus he actually fed the ball down low.

    Over the past few games you just saw how perimeter players and especially Shannon brown just did not let the ball go into the post.

    Back in 09-10 there was wonderful play in he post between our bigs with kick outs for 3s that worked great instead of the high post pick and handoff that lead nowhere too many times.

    Defensive strategy: we have read many times how our defense was designed to funnel guys to bynum to protect the rim instead of having our guys stay in front of his man. I think this was one of our major problems as it lead to bad habits that came into the light during the series with Dallas.

    I really liked our defense in 2009 with Rambis under control compared to our new stratgy.

  41. The new CBA will have a huge impact on the possible approaches that management can take with upgrading the roster.

  42. bluehill,
    “One thing that stuck me about this group is that they never seemed as cohesive even when they were winning. ”

    I agree – they didn’t give the impression of having fun when they were playing. And that offsets the mental grind of the regular season, which in their case was worse than for other teams because of the three previous Finals appearances.

    Other teams might be willing to take a “bad” contract along with Odom, since he is underpaid.

  43. Lakers definitely need some reliable shooters and some more quickness

  44. I thought this core was extremely cohesive when they were winning. I’m not sure what team you were watching. The chemistry and dynamics changed as soon as Pau joined us. It was beautiful to watch. When the the team was clicking and firing on all cylinders, it was a sight to behold. This was a veteran squad who inherited the Zen Master’s calm, professional demeanor. Am I watching a different team, because I see these guys celebrating on the sidelines all time time…. ?!

  45. Pau for Paul please.

  46. With all of the Kobe-MJ talk going on, I can’t help but think that it’s time for Kobe to go into MJ’s 95-98 mode. That means bulk up and devote your game to midrange play. I’d like to see him a) play with higher efficiency and b) deliver more punishment to opposing wings. They have the speed, hops, and quickness, but if Kobe can combine his smarts with an appropriate physique, then he can easily hit 50% of his shots for the year.

  47. our strategy for the next year should be simple…Dwight Howard, Dwight Howard, Dwight Howard

  48. Well… at least I can still celebrate a Boston loss!

  49. Winning probably covers up a lot issues. It’s when you’re losing that you are more likely to see the cracks. I think they were professional, but I’m not sure how much they liked each other or maybe they just got tired of each other. Of course, I’m speculating, but when Bynum says there are “trust” issues he must be referring to something.

    Oh well, we’ll see what happens in the off-season.

  50. No to Sloan, no to JVG, nooooooooo to Larry Brown, no to Shaw.

    How about the LBJ era Cavs coach or Rivers? Those last two are worth a look. Possibly even the W’s coach that just got let go? (I’m sounding desparate!)

    Needless to say, the Triangle needs to go. I’d like to see an offense you don’t need a PhD in Astrophsics or to be MJ in order to run properly.

  51. To address the athleticism issues, why not give Ebanks some burn? We knew he never had a chance with Phil, but how do you expect young players to grow without actually playing? He has a very good chance to be Ariza-like, and not just in the looks department.

    Need speed at PG? Easy. Re-sign Trey Johnson for cheap. He is more athletic than Fisher and Blake combined. I would have rather Trey on the court than our regulars, once it became obvious our guards just could not handle getting around pick-and-rolls or stop Barea’s dribble penetration.

    Utilizing those two players would appear to make sense considering the team’s financial situation, which is unlikely to be improved by the future CBA.

    As for our future offensive system, I’m not sure. The Triangle is a proven system, but I would like to see something similar to Memphis’ system. I don’t know what it’s called and I could be totally off mark here, but it seems as if they utilize both bigs in additional to slashers, much like the Triangle system, though not as rigid and dependent on player IQs.

    Typing this is pretty difficult so I’m just going to end it. I’m more interested in reading others’ opinions, but I just wanted to throw out my thoughts on Ebanks and Trey.

  52. yea Trey Johnson looked pretty good in those few minutes. But Phil was never going to give him a chance anyway. I wonder if people will still watch LO’s reality show if he ends up getting traded.

  53. I have no patience for the blow-the-team-up talk. You can’t get more reactionary.

    AT MOST, we’re only trading one of the first 6 in the rotation and ONLY IF something like the Dwight Howard scenario materializes or if the salacious Kobe-Pau rumors happen to be true (stranger things have happened in Lakerland…).

  54. Been down thinking about the collapse and decided to rewatch some vintage Kobe. Here’s a stat that I came across in the Youtube comments.

    Wilt 100 Points in 140* Possessions. Points In 100 Possessions= 71

    Kobe 81 Points in 83* Possessions. ? Points In 100 Possessions= 98

    Robinson 71 Points in 95* Possessions. Points In 100 Possessions= 74

    Jordan 69 Points in 102* Possessions. Points In 100 Possessions=68

    Kobe 62 Points in 67* Possessions. Points In 100 Possessions= 93

    Kobe 61 Points in 78* Possessions. Points In 100 Possessions= 78

    Kobe 56 Points in 66* Possessions. Points In 100 Possessions= 85

    Kobe=Greatness

  55. I’m probably in the minority here too, but with the exception of Game 4 (see also other elimination game nuclear meltdowns: 2008 Game 6 in Boston, 2006 Game 7 in Phoenix), I didn’t feel that bad about our performance. But for Dallas otherworldly 3-pt shooting, we would be going back to LA up 3-1 with everyone giddy about a 3-peat.

    I live in Dallas and watch a lot of Mavs games–let me just say that Dallas has been playing uncharacteristically good these past couple weeks. Don’t you think you would have heard about it if Dirk had been playing all year like he did in this series?! I mean 60+% from the 3pt line as a team!?!? Their 3-pt shooting would best the league’s best overall FG%! And our defense really wasn’t THAT horrible–we’ve been a top three point defense for years now. Dallas is a team that lives and dies by the 3 and long jumpers and they (like the previous Suns and other 3-pt-happy teams) are literally UNBEATABLE when they’re on fire like Dallas was in this series. Trouble is, the law of averages demands that you’ll eventually “die by the 3″ before the NBA’s lengthy playoffs end, as Dallas inevitably does year-after-year….

    It’s never been about Dallas’s toughness–it’s the fact that they overly-reliant on the 3–if they’re cold they’re out in the first round. If they’re hot, they beat the Laker or reach the finals. It’s a bummer the Lakers had to deal with ultra-hot Dallas and not warm or extra cold Dallas (to say nothing of having to face this challenge with an out-of-character Gasol, gimpy bench, and ailing Kobe).

    I think a summer off will do this group a lot of good…

  56. kehntangibles May 9, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    Ah, Perkins with clutch FT misses. Feel better already.

  57. I meant typing this on my phone is difficult.

    And do people actually watch the show? Do they have their own show or does LO appear on the Kardashian show?

    I will be rooting for the Grizzlies. I really do not want any of the other team to win. Don’t like Boston and Miami for obvious reasons. Atlanta, well, I don’t believe they are true contenders. As for Chicago, they have received plenty of accolades this season, but I don’t to hear everyone fawning over Derrick Rose all summer.

    From the west, I just can’t cheer for the Mavs, even if I tip my hat to them for this sweep. I also can’t cheer for OKC because I dislike Perkins so much I never want to see him win anything, not even a scowling contest. Oh, and Westbrook looks like a Ninja Turtle.

  58. “Other teams might be willing to take a “bad” contract along with Odom, since he is underpaid.”

    “Pau for Paul please.”

    And when Bynum goes down with yet another injury? I well and truly wish that people would understand that Bynum’s value need be discounted owing to the substantial injury risk that he presents. And related to that is the notion that Bynum plays limited minutes. Last year was the only year he avg’d more than 30 MPG (30.4). This year was 27.8 MPG. How sure are you that he can withstand even so much as another 5 MPG? And that in terms of simply not having done it before (conditioning/endurance) but also the increased risk of injury (the more he’s on the floor the more opportunity for injury).

    And if the Lakers trade Pau for Paul, who are the backup C and PF? The one luxury the team had is that it really didn’t need Mbenga or Ratliff or Smith. I’m still trying to figure out why the team ever had them, unless they were Bynum insurance, i.e., Bynum sits, Gasol moves over, Lamar at PF, Bynum subs in for Gasol, and then Gasol subs in for Lamar and you’re back to 1st unit with only the one big sub, who is pretty darn good at what he does, i.e., he isn’t the usual backup and you’ve managed to keep two first unit C’s on the floor at all times.

    Trading Lamar doesn’t help, since it first rids the team of what I just described and then there’s the need to find both a worthy backup C and a backup PF. And trading Lamar further means that if Bynum goes down, the team is in trouble. Again, the risk of Bynum going down is not insignificant and no one should imagine that it is.

    When Darius frees up the board (if ever) to trade speculation, I’ll propose a trade of both Gasol and Bynum that might work, or would work if acceptable to the two teams in question. Heck, let me take a chance, since FB&G’s man Kurt wrote in the one linked piece that Gasol and Bynum are untouchable unless it is for the likes of Howard. (Denied for trade speculation)

  59. @JM: I don’t think its in the Laker’s best interest to start rookies and D league players.

    The window is closing on Kobe. We need to breakup the core for an elite point guard(one of the available two) and big man (think you know who i’m talking about) to take advantage of the final years of Kobe’s career.

    Unlike other teams, we cannot waste time “rebuilding” – we need to get back up on top of the mountain ASAP.

  60. Marc Gasol has 26 points and 20 boards. This is a great game between these teams.

    Darius, I agree with your idea–but tweaking will be tough given the contracts and the CBA situation.

  61. Well,drop off triangle,get a passable PG and somewhat dependable 3P shooter.No Dwight needed we are slow already.I guess that would work.

  62. Good read Darius, you are going into new territory for yourself now, with what has happened. I enjoy what you have to say, and the morning links FB&G finds to post, I am sure they take a lot of work. For me, now I can concentrate completely on the last month of college and Finals (school one’s). This had been suffering somewhat with trying to watch a Laker game every other day, and putting my heart and soul into a basketball team to win a three-peat.

    “Time has a wonderful way of showing us what really matters.” – Margaret Peters

  63. A lot of good food for thought. Like #1, I’m not quite ready to look ahead yet. I know it’s necessary but I’m still thinking more about an era. Our on-court needs have to fit a system of course and I think a future coach may be a little less certain without the comfort of another title under our belt. Shaw still seems the favorite but perhaps not to the same degree. I highly doubt that we’ll be running the triangle in the future – maybe some aspects but not as a cornerstone. One thing we do need, is shooters. Not guys that can shoot, but a couple of legitimate, long-range bombers. IMO. Here’s a little post-game (season) wrap-up from SfS, a day late.
    http://tinyurl.com/65n6zam

  64. Ken from Newport May 10, 2011 at 12:13 am

    Considering the Lakers were playing 3 against 5 all year on offense we did pretty good. Fish and Ron were among the lowest rated starters in the NBA at their position.

    You all must come to grips with the fact Pau will not be back. He created his own exist strategy by quitting in the playoffs. He will not play with Kobe again. This is a surety.

    The question is how do you buy out Walton’s 11 million and can you package Artest and Blake with a Pau deal. That’s a lot of baggage to get rid of. Like Ron Ron said as he was tweeting to set up a bowling match on the plane flight home “It’s gonna be a long off season”. That’s coming from the guy who had a breakaway layup blocked by Wilt the Stilt Rim.

    Enjoy the Mavs- Heat finals. Cuban vs James. It just doesn’t get more depressing then that!

  65. I am as frustrated and disappointed as anyone, but I have to say I am looking forward to next season (if there is one)… I agree that we can be frustrated with this year’s playoff performance, but that doesn’t take away what our Lakers have done the last few years. What kind of fans are we if we only support our team when it wins? I’ll tell you, bandwagon. If you bleed Forum Blue & Gold like I do you’ll be upset, but never stop supporting our team…

  66. 59) Slappy,
    I agree with your take on Bynum’s health, and your scenario makes sense. But I don’t see the Lakers trading Bynum. I think Jim Buss is too personally invested in him to let that happen.

  67. The Lakers’ advantage is size. We don’t want to give that up for certain. But, the league is changing, and even a team like the Lakers with its tremendous size advantage needs some quickness and shooting from high caliber players. Kobe demands too much attention from the defense to be the team’s 3 pt shooter and ultimately he needs to be attacking the basket more than he did this season (I think having some shooters around will free him up to do this). So one of the bigs needs to be traded for a quality point guard who is starting this year and a small forward who can shoot. This is not about blowing the team up, but more about responding to what the league has become. Just enough shooting and quickness to somewhat neutralize a team like Dallas when their shots are falling while keeping the size advantage that will be your bread and butter during most games.

  68. It is impossible to say what the team HAS to give up to get a “shooter” and “quality point guard”. It all depends on the involved teams.

    But I don’t think Shannon Brown, Steve Blake, Ron Artest and Barnes are hopeless pieces, even Fisher might have value to other teams as a championship leader. It all comes down to specific matches with others teams personel, contracts and needs.

    But it seems to me that even in the aftermath of this ugly playoff exit, most of the fans on this site are willing to stick to the core of this team. Stick to the formula of size + Kobe.

    That should mean that the pieces that are fully available are everyone but Kobe, Bynum, Gasol and Odom (in that order).

    I for one hope that the Lakers go with Shaw and stick to the triangle, and if they do, I hope they find an old sharp shooter to transform into the PG role. Someone in the Michael Redd, Ray Allan, Manu Ginobili mold.

    Someone just past his prime, but still with enough juice to fill it up from distance and chase the oppents PGs for 30+ minutes a game.

    Another priority, if the nucleus is kept intact, should be to find another backup bigman who can take 10 minutes a game all year. A Big Baby, Aron Grey, Chuck Hayes kind of talent. It would be a great luxury to have, and would keep the others fresh for the postseason.

  69. Question: When was the last time an elite point guard won a championship? Tony Parker in 2007 or Billups in 2004 (were these even elite point guards)? Magic and Isaiah from 1987-90?

    My point: in the modern NBA, PGs don’t win championships. Size is the ultimate weapon. 11 out of the last 12 champs have had elite size. The Lakers should NEVER EVER give up size for a point guard (even Chris Paul or D-Will), no matter how annoying it is to watch opposing point guards run circles around a 52-year-old D-Fish…

  70. TheDane,
    “just past his prime, but still with enough juice to fill it up from distance and chase the oppents PGs for 30+ minutes a game”

    Unfortunately, that’s not someone they’re going to be able to get with the MLE or in a trade not involving Bynum, Gasol, or Odom.

  71. Warren Wee Lim May 10, 2011 at 7:04 am

    Maybe I should start posting again and all will be well in Lakerland.

    Hello guys, been occupied with alot of things and a 3rd baby is on the way. Sorry I could not keep up with the 1st post thing that worked ever so well since end of 2008.

    I will separate my greet post (this one) from the other one which is more technical or speculative if you may.

  72. Realistically, the new CBA will reduce the salary cap, so for the proponents of “let’s find some perimeter players without surrendering our size,” that is unrealistic. We will have to give up something of value to obtain value.

    And as an aside, wow, is the door now open for Miami to win it all! Only Chicago, OKC, Dallas stand in their way. Besides Dallas, this year was truly the changing of the guard. Sad.

    And say we do get Dwight Howard, then we have ceded our best trade assets and the only way to build up our biggest weakness is through 2nd round rookies and D-League players. Or, we can hope some washed up veteran plays for the minimum here, but what’s the track record of these guys? (Smith, Ratliff, etc.?). We have some very difficult decisions to make. But I’m curious to see how this will all pan out.

  73. Warren Wee Lim May 10, 2011 at 7:18 am

    I believe we have to take things 1 at a time, and its better to be prepared. That said, I have come up with what we call our Lakers Grocery List (LGL) aka the Things To Do.

    Obviously, top of the heap is a coach. Brian Shaw seems the most logical choice but he doesn’t seem to be a lock. I give him a good 55% probability – thats equal to your pocket 9s beating an AK hand. Sorry for the poker reference.

    If its is BS (Brian Shaw) the advantages are:
    1. Continuity
    2. Familiarity
    3. Trust

    It will be Phil Jackson Jr. and it may be running a semi-triangle offense. Meaning, its the triangle but BS may invent diversifications from the actual triangle, perhaps it will influence a breakoff theme that happens from time to time. More on that later.

    The team we become will be dependent on the coach. And so if its BS, then its more or less the same with roster moves that will address athleticism and perimeter defense and hiring a 3pt shooter.

    (you may edit this part but I hope it passes)
    (Edited by Zephid :-P )

  74. If we are looking at improving with just the MLE, we could be looking at guys like these:

    10 min a game centers that become unrestricted FA this summer, and just might sign for the MLE:
    Etan Thomas
    Krstic
    Kwame
    Przbilla
    Boris Diaw
    Chuck Hayes
    Craig Smithø
    Gadzuric
    Aaron Gray
    Willie Green
    Turiuaf
    Shelden Williams
    Reggie Evans

    Possible point guard/shooter solutions that become unrestricted FA this summer… and might sign an MLE for a contender:
    Jamal Crawford
    Ray Allen
    Carlos Arroyo
    Sasha Pavlovic
    Delonte West
    Jose Juan Barea
    Stojakovic
    Michael Redd
    Sebastian Telfair
    Leandro Barbosa
    C.J.Miles
    Earl Watson

    And then there are the two goodies I would love to see the Lakers some how get their fingers on (maybe a sign and trade?):
    Caron Butler
    Shane Battier

    The question is, would adding one or two of these guys solve the Lakers’ problems? It would be very much like what they did last summer – re-tooling!

    I think Blake and Barnes are better than most of the guys I just listed, which makes it very questionable if this kind of move would be enough to et the team over the hump!

  75. I think some time off will benefit these guys, along with reduced expectations. They just couldn’t hack it this year. Focusing less on living up to expectations as the team that SHOULD win based on talent and size to just executing will do worlds of good.

    Getting Kobe to move off the ball, and play in the post, and have one reliable shooter to pass to, would do a world of good. He’s still pretty unstoppable when receiving the ball with space. He is no longer unstoppable when having to work off the dribble, facing the basket.

    All of these changes would be difficult to achieve.

    I’m just really curious about what happened after that Nuggets loss – the wheels just came off, and never got back on. Sometimes that happens, but not often as disastrously as this.

  76. C’mon guys, their corpse isn’t even cold yet and you’re already carving it up into pieces.

    If I’m not allowed to trade speculate, no one else is. Until we decide to open the floodgates (probably soon), everyone just keep your ideas to yourself or post them elsewhere if you really have to get them off your chest.

  77. And there’s really no point in talking about signings until the CBA is sorted out. The MLE may not even exist for all we know with the new CBA. So while “dude, Player X would be great for us” is cool and fun to think about, it isn’t very useful.

  78. I’m not on the let’s blow the team up philosophy either, especially since we have bad contracts and no assets we’d be willing to give up that people want.

    I won’t talk trade here (Darius, I’ll be looking for that post soon hopefully), but the only real way to get more athletic and better shooting for this team is through the draft. We have like 4 second round picks, and I know we aren’t going to keep all of them but I think we have to get lucky and find at least 2 gems in this draft.

  79. Please Zephid. Do keep the bulging floodgates locked because we will starting hearing the Luke Walton and fillers for Superstar X and Y comments.

    What I’m interested in the psychology of this team. Due to a likely lockout, this Lakers team will have a longer off-season stewing period. Does that help/hinder this team’s growth? Pau had time away from bball last summer. I doubt he will pick up the ball this summer, but if that rest extends into December, January, is that helpful to him given his dismal playoff performance?

    Bynum, he left the court in a defiant yet disgraceful manner. The media is rightfully hitting him hard. Will time away, and in particular, all the swirling rumors about him being traded help him?

    Then look to the vets like Fisher. Fighting the union fight may help occupy his mind, but his remaining career is hanging by a thread since any incoming coach may decide to stick him on the bench.

    We had some long summers after the Detroit and Celtics NBA Finals losses. In 2009, the team picked itself up and won the championship. Was this year a hiatus? Let’s hope so…and we’ll have a long offseason to hope.

  80. We should only trade Kobe if we can get LeBron, Wade, or Durant in return. We should only trade Bynum if we can get Howard in return. We should only trade Gasol if we can get Bosh or Amare back. My point is the best way to improve your team is not by trading away your best players… its by replacing a bad player (Fisher) for an average player. For many reasons… the biggest is that its easier to get an average player because there are lot of them. Not so easy to get Dwight Howard or LeBron James.

  81. What should happen, and from everything we know about how the front office operates what we can safely assume really will happen, is that Mitch pushes as hard as he can for any and all possible upgrade scenarios, be they tinkering or blowing up, and pulls the trigger if one comes to fruition.

    If not, then they stand (relatively) pat. They have always played it very close to the vest, and we should assume that they made serious inquiries running up to the trade deadline, only to find no suitable deals.

    Based on the track record, we have no reason not to trust them completely. They have the jobs they do because they know way more than any of us (and quite possibly all of us combined). They are also in possession of insider knowledge that will help them make informed decisions. They can walk down the hall and ask the coaches why they think the defensive trust broke down.

    And for me, that is all that happened. If they had played the same energized, trusting defense they played against Boston last year, or even at times early in this season, then they’d still be playing. So, I’m with the “it’s psychological” camp. I don’t think there is anything structurally wrong with this group. We have minor holes, but every team ever assembled does as well. The big question is whether or not the breakdown in trust is irreparable.

    If it is, then go ahead and blow it up, even if you don’t get equal value back. If not, then only make changes that inarguably make you better.