Fast Break Thoughts

Phillip Barnett —  May 16, 2011

With the retirement of Phil Jackson, there have been myriad reports on who should replace him as the Lakers head man. Many pundits suggest that either Brian Shaw or Rick Adelman, however, Laker Nation’s Kevin Figgers thinks the Lakers should be looking in a different direction when he writes, “[…]but for a veteran team like the Lakers, with a number strong personalities, they need a veteran coach that will come in and command respect and preach accountability. No coach fits that mold better than Jerry Sloan.”

Brian Kamenetzky also has a short piece on Mike Dunleavy being on a short list of guys to replace PJax.

Both of Sunday’s games weren’t fun to watch come the fourth quarter, but both games featured fantastic individual plays. There was Taj Gibson’s garbage time tip-dunk, his lethal dunk on Dwyane Wade, and my personal favorite from this weekend — James Harden’s silky smooth tip back pass to Kevin Durant on the fast break. I’m probably in the minority in ranking these plays, but this pass is beautiful to me.

The following is an excerpt from Andy Kamenetzky’s post about the possibility of Dwight Howard becoming a Laker: Do you make a deal for Howard with Andrew Bynum as the centerpiece? In a nanosecond. Talented as Bynum is, Howard’s better, and his odds of attending games in a uniform rather than street clothes are considerably higher. He and Pau Gasol would complement each other exceptionally well, almost the perfect yin and yang. For that matter, Howard and Lamar Odom could co-exist nicely. Plus, I get the distinct sense Bynum desperately (and even understandably) wants to spread his wings, which may not be happening any time soon. The longer he maintains this role, the more dissatisfied he could grow, which could mean an eventual departure anyway. Throw in the legitimate questions about committing to a player with Bynum’s injury history, and Howard makes even more sense if feasible.

There are some players that some of us can’t seem to let go. Allen Iverson was one of those players for Kenny Masenda over at Ed the Sports Fan. Time and time again, Iverson stepped on the floor and did something that we hadn’t seen before, or if we had seen it, he did it in a way that was unique to his personal style. In this post, Kenny recounts the night Iverson gave the basketball world a 52-point playoff performance against the Toronto Raptors.

The New York Times Dan Barry has an exceptional feature on Rick Welts, an NBA Executive who has recently confessed to co-workers and friends about his homosexuality. Barry write that Welts wants to “be a mentor to gay people who harbor doubts about a sports career, whether on the court or in the front office.” The feature is largely about a conversation that has been largely off limits within the scope of professional sports, and may be the first step in the acceptance of everyone and another step forward toward equal rights in the sports world.

Phillip Barnett


to Fast Break Thoughts

  1. Do other Lakers fans share the idea that they’d rather see Dallas or Chicago win the title rather than Oklahoma City, if only for the fact that the thought of seeing Nate Robinson get a ring is almost undigestable?

    I just can’t stand that guy; Perkins as well. So go Mavs.


  2. Chris- Yes!

    Also-J-kidd and Dirk have both long been under-rated….its their time


  3. I have no idea whether Brian Shaw will make a great head coach or not, but I would sure hate it if he turned out to be one for a team other than the Lakers.

    For years, Mike Scioscia was the clear heir apparent to manage the Dodgers. People talked about his special leadership ability and his knowledge of the game. He had a championship career as a Dodger player, albeit in a supportive role, and he embodied the Dodger style of baseball (when it was still a winning style!)

    Unfortunately, ownership frittered away the chance to promote him and give him his first job, instead going with a long and forgettable series of retreads in the manager’s position, while watching Scioscia move across town and bring the old Dodger style to the Angels, with all the success that had been predicted for him.

    I’d just hate to see that happen with Brian Shaw, for the sake of someone like Rick Adelman (or God forbid, Mike Dunleavy or Jeff Van Gundy, ugh.)


  4. my order of preference:

    mavs > bulls>>>>thunder >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>heats


  5. Hey Phillip, just a heads up, the link for the Kamenetzky article links to Gibsons dunk on Wade, although I sure didn’t mind =)


  6. Look, if we had a team like OKC (young and rising), Brian Shaw may have been a great choice. But he is NOT going to win a championship, simple as that. Even if he does prove to be a great head coach out of the gate there is one problem remaining. He is too much of a familiar face in the locker room, and as such I don’t think he will command the appropriate amount of respect and attention from all our veteran players. Those things are critical for a coach in order to be successful.


  7. I am in the camp that says the Lakers need a coach who will demand respect, and I am doubtful that Shaw fits the bill. I don’t think it is likely, but Jerry Sloan is, to me, the best available choice.

    Jerry is a competitor like no other coach in the league, and he can’t be satisfied with the way his career “ended” (if it really ended) in Utah. Perhaps a short contract to coach a Laker team that actually needs him (as opposed to one that had just 3-peated, where he’d have nowhere to go but down) would be just the ticket to entice him out of retirement.

    The Lakers didn’t underperform during the regular season, and then completely fall apart in the postseason because of age or lack of talent; they collapsed because they did not have the hunger necessary for a title. Losing by itself will instill some of that hunger, but nothing would serve to drive the Lakers to exert championship EFFORT next year like Jerry Sloan.

    Sloan’s teams play hard. Plain and simple. If this Laker roster plays HARD and plays TOUGH (the other hallmark of Sloan teams), they’ll win the title next year going away.

    In light of the impending lockout, a shortened season, lack of tradeable assets, and luxury tax hell, the simplest and most cost-effective way to transform this team (aka “blowing it up”) is to bring in the only coach out there who isn’t afraid to go toe to toe with Kobe Bryant or any of the other Lakers.

    So, for me, the choice is clear: give Sloan a two year deal, and announce that Shaw will take over for him when he leaves (if Shaw wants to stay on as an assistant). Then, having served as an assistant to two of the greatest coaches in NBA history, Shaw is the obvious best choice to take over once Sloan retires once and for all.


  8. The Bulls’ smackdown of the Heat was so beautiful to watch. I was eating sushi and got wasabi in my eye but I still couldn’t look away. It was glorious.

    Definitely going for the Bulls and Mavs. I like Durant (although the media fawning is a bit sickening … they build a guy up and will tear him down eventually), but I hate Perkins so much.

    I’m guessing trade speculation is off-limits in this thread so I can’t directly respond to ideas in the last one (there were definitely some good ideas in there), but I’ll just make 1 general comment about the potential move everyone is talking about. I don’t believe we should be so willing to clear the house for Dwight Howard. Giving up multiple bigs and taking on cap-crippling contracts is a bit much. It’s likely just me, but Howard’s attitude has always rubbed me the wrong way. His lack of intensity is annoying. Go watch Game 4 of the 09 Finals to see what his FTs are like in crunch time (yes, we won 3 with Shaq, but if you put Shaq and Dwight in the same sentence I will have to metaphorically b*tch slap you). He’s a tremendous help defender, but his flaws are very real – all I’m saying is that I wouldn’t ship out tons of great pieces and take on awful contracts just to get one guy.

    Edit: I just read Andy K’s piece above after typing that out, and I agree completely with his take on it. This is why I like having Mitch at the helm – he’s patient, and I don’t think he’ll gut a great team for one player.


  9. Everyone makes good points about Shaw’s rookie coaching stature and how it relates to a veteran team with championship aspirations and potential. But the Lakers have actually been down a similar road before, exactly 30 years ago.

    That’s when an assistant with zero head coaching experience came in to lead a Laker roster that featured a mix of aging veterans and young stars, and that had flamed out spectacularly in the playoffs (in the first round!) the year after winning it all.

    Pat Riley did a pretty good job with that Laker team that year. And in the years to come too.


  10. Jodial, all valid points.


  11. Is trade talk off limits in this thread? The format of the blog makes it hard to continue conversations once their front-page status expires..


  12. #11. This is from the commenting guidelines:

    “7). Discussion of trades is allowed only once discussions of said trade between organizations can be confirmed. Posts of fan fiction speculation on how the Lakers can land LeBron (or whomever) are not. (There is no shortage of other Lakers sites that welcome that kind of speculation.)”

    If you want to go to the thread from the weekend to comment, feel free. There are folks still commenting there (they have been all day) about how the Lakers can get Dwight Howard (and many other teams players).


  13. The Mike Scioscia/Brian Shaw comparison was very apt.

    Also, despite Sloan’s many positives, he’s always been a “my way or the highway” type of leader. He demands respect, demands that players follow his system, and that’s why he won for so long in Utah. The players knew he would be there long after they were gone, and accordingly they fell in line right up until the end.

    In L.A., at his current age, Sloan would be viewed as a lame duck from the jump. Notice how the Jazz didn’t fall apart under his reign until questions arose about his long-term status. Once that crack appears, NBA players will seep through it like pressurized water.

    In L.A., Kobe knows he’s the big dog and wouldn’t take kindly to being ridden the wrong way. His reaction could easily be, “I’ve got $90 million left on my deal; they’ll get rid of you before they run me out.” Plus the Lakers are a veteran-laden bunch, with quirky personalities that won’t fit well under a one-size-fits-all approach.

    That’s what made Phil Jackson a perfect fit for this franchise in recent years, and that’s also why I don’t think Sloan could work, particularly at his age and on a short-term deal.


  14. Although I’d have no problem with Adelman becoming a coach for all the already mentioned reasons, I think Shaw would be the same type of gamble at worse as Adelman.

    Both hires carry the same amount of risk, just different types of risk. But both are IMO the best possible out of available candidates.

    I don’t think Shaw’s lack of head coaching experience is that big of a handicap. Seems like in the past several years, young up and coming assistant coaches have had more success than veteran coaches.


  15. I assume that the Bulls won’t shoot that well from 3 in game two, but if they replicate that level of effort from their starting five and their bench, they should be an extraordinarily tough out for Lebron, Wade, and Bosh. Miami might have reached its wall for season one of The Grand Experiment. They looked tired. In game one.

    Once the Lakers lost, the priorities were: see the Celtics lose, and then see the Heat get beat. I could stomach any other team winning the whole damn thing.


  16. Agreed, but Riley was special. Interesting to note how Phil Jackson, unlike a lot of other coaches, has not spawned off many assistant coaches that grew into successful head coaches, for whatever reason.

    We love Shaw, but we loved Rambis too years ago. I’m terrified of wasting a year of this group’s potential while a rookie coach gets his bearings.

    I’m rooting for the Mavs over the Thunder, but the pure basketball fan in me would love to see the Bulls-Thunder match up. Think about the symmetrical matchups. Noah and Perkins. Deng on Durant. Rose and Westbrook – two very similar PGs – vying for supremacy.


  17. 12.

    Wow! A simple ‘no’ would’ve sufficed.


  18. #17. Ha! I thought a simple no with no explanation would have been offputting.


  19. Agree with PalaNi (4)

    Mavs then Bulls then Thunder then … nuclear war and the finals are called off for this year.
    Mavs and Bulls could be a great finals.

    If the team is kept together (hopefully with some bench improvements), I think Shaw should be coach.
    If Kupchak makes a major change, I’m not sure who between Shaw and Adelman would be best.
    I vote no to Dunleavy and Sloan. I can’t believe anyone in the Lakers is seriously considering Dunleavy.

    Snoopy2006 (8) makes good points about not jumping at Howard so quickly and especially at too high a cost. He has many weak points in his game and it’s long been a complaint that he doesn’t have that killer instinct to win.
    Except for the injury question, and given their age and the state of their games right now, I’d rather keep Bynum.


  20. Warren Wee Lim May 16, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    ^ Yes. Atleast Darius put in in proper perspective. But Igor is right, citing the rule is overkill 😀


  21. Neither Shaw nor Adelman are defensive coaches and that is a problem. Kobe, Shannon, and Lamar all cheat off three point shooters and it bites us in the ass everytime. When we were running the defense they way Person designed, we were way more effective. We need a coach that can elicit effort from players who have become content with bad habits and only using only minimal effort to win games. They were bored, complacent, and unmotivated during the season and only got marginally motivated when the chip was up for grabs. The other problem is their age. They need some new blood at both the coach and player levels. All this needs to be addressed before this team will be ready for another championship.

    Adelman is my first choice and Shaw my second. Kurt has been there with us before and I would have no problem with him coming back to right this ship. He hasn’t done a bang-up job in Minnesota because he doesn’t have players, but they give the Lakers the blues every game they play. Even Kobe couldn’t argue with Kurt, who happened to have a 24-13 (.649) record with the Lakers as coach. No other coaches should be allowed in our front door without their opposing teams.


  22. Is it any coincidence that the nicest plays are coming from local products, Gibson and James Harden? Not to mention other LA guys still in the playoffs like Westbrook, Chandler, and Korver (I’m sorry but Scalabrine doesn’t count). I especially enjoyed watching Mayo get into it with Harden and Westbrook.

    The point is, LA is still well represented in these playoffs, giving us Angelenos something to watch and root for.


  23. Renato Afonso May 17, 2011 at 2:59 am

    While I’m waiting for a WTS post where I’m allowed to explain my miraculous way of landing Arron Afflalo at the cost of Shannon Brown, I’ll give my input on the new coach (again)…

    Dunleavy – nooooooooooooooo!!!!! I think this is well constructed enough for people to understand.

    Sloan – Chris J said it best. If Sloan was a long term approach, I would be fine with it. But he isn’t. The egos in our team are not left at the door once practice starts and I think Sloan would struggle with that. Maybe we need the kind of approach he has to reduce the size of those egos, but it must be done by someone you know will stay with the team for a long time.

    Shaw – The rookie thing doesn’t worry me at all. One can be young and know how to properly schedule a season and also have enough tactical knowledge for the NBA. He’s been in the league for a long time and he’s obviously not dumb. However, his success (both as player and assistant) came alongside Phil and the triangle offense. And he is too close to Kobe to put him in his place when it’s needed to be done. I think he would benefit from being an assistant for a couple more years under a new coach and that person should be…

    Adelman – His offensive system is as amazing as the triangle. I would even say it is a better system than the triangle since it allows for better defensive transition when the team is not executing perfectly. We have the personnel to run that offense (except maybe a shooter) and we have the desire to win it al again with a coach who wants nothing more than win it for the first time. Adelman’s offense frequently has a big operating in the high post with the ball which would be perfect for Gasol and Odom. Since they would probably be covered by opposite bigs, the probability of a turnover on the passer is quite low and would help us protect the rim (a big closer to our basket than any opponent, should a steal happen after the ball leaves the hands of our big).

    Regarding this years title. In order of preference: Mavs over Bulls. OKC and Miami cannot win… EVER!


  24. #17 – You just got the rule book thrown at you!


  25. I was wondering about the coaching staff. If Shaw was hired, then I can see everyone coming back. But there would be one position open. Who would be the #1 assistant. Would Person move up if he wants it?

    I don’t know if it would work since I don’t know the relationships, but I think it would be interesting to have Mike Brown as an assistant if Shaw was the head coach. Have him on as the assistant coach specializing in the Defense. Brown has a solid background in coaching defenses. The Cleveland teams always played hard and well as a unit defensively. He has a background from San Antonio. If Person really did institute a system that mirrored San Antonio, why not someone who has a lot of experience in it and would understand the nuances even more.

    If Adelman was hired, then he’d probably bring in his own staff. In Houston, he had very strong defensive teams who played well above their heads. But I wonder if he would retain a couple of people from the existing staff.


  26. I say Buss goes for broke and tries to get Coach K. I know that he said he’s too old to coach in the NBA, but I think suitcases full of cash have a way of changing people’s minds (ask Manny Pacquiao).


  27. @ChrisJ,

    “In L.A., Kobe knows he’s the big dog and wouldn’t take kindly to being ridden the wrong way. His reaction could easily be, “I’ve got $90 million left on my deal; they’ll get rid of you before they run me out.”

    If this is correct, then the Lakers will not win another championship until they rid themselves of Kobe. Kobe has never been good enough to lead a team to a championship by himself (no single player ever is). The Lakers win when they get all their players involved, and if Kobe feels that suggestions to the contrary are “riding him the wrong way” then we can all stop dreaming of parades in June.

    From top to bottom, this team needs a coach who is unafraid to stand up to the players and to demand that they play the right way: hard, with effort, and a focus on defense every night. It takes a certain kind of coach to deliver this message, and either the Laker players are receptive to this message, or they are not. If they are, we’ll all be celebrating in 13 months; if they are not, who they sign to be the next head coach is completely irrelevant.


  28. kehntangibles May 17, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Coach K is the sexy pick, Coach K would also be an unmitigated disaster of a pick. Here’s hoping that Mitch Kupchak’s UNC sensibilities keep him on the straight and narrow here.


  29. Yeah, not a big fan of college coaches, even one as decorated as Coach K. International ball is a different animal. In general, college coaches don’t fare well in the NBA. And to give one the reins to a potential championship is a recipe for disaster.


  30. Sharky towers May 17, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    23- Renato, I basically agree with everything you’ve said here. I’d be “more ok” with Sloan than you, but I’d certainly rather Adelman. I really hope that people understand exactly how great of a coach he is. He is absolutely on the level of Pop and Phil in my opinion. In fact the only other coach I’d rather have coach the Lakers is probably Tom Thibadoh (sp?). Shaw is a good option, but I’d still love it if he “mentored” under another coach/system before taking the big chair. The triangle is great, but sometimes the right horses just aren’t there to run it. I’d argue that while we have a couple excellent triangle players (gasol, Kobe) the Lakers have more that ARE NOT suited to it.

    Also, though I love Rambis as a person and player, I REALLY think he’s not a good head coach.