From Andy Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: Pau Gasol’s disastrous postseason has already been dissected like a biology class frog, so we’ll skip the rehash. The dirty little secret of this wipe out, however, is that his regular season actually signaled what laid ahead, albeit in more subtle fashion. Gasol’s 2011 campaign was, by his high standards, spotty. That’s not to say Pau played badly, because he didn’t. Plenty of big men would be plenty satisfied with his numbers — 18.8 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.6 blocks — in line with the best of his career, much less as a Laker. But one of El Spaniard’s greatest strengths is his consistency, and he wasn’t nearly as reliable game to game this season. The inconsistencies are revealed in his splits: December and January scoring averages below 17 points, including a December in which he shot below 50 percent from the field, which is basically unheard of for Pau. The inconsistencies are also revealed in his game log. Seven games with 16+ rebounds, but also pockets of multiple-game streaks with single digit grabs. Even during the Lakers’ post All-Star break dominance, there were four consecutive games with just five rebounds. That’s a modest haul by Kobe Bryant’s standard, much less a seven-footer’s.
From Actuarially Sound, Silver Screen and Roll: It should not surprise anyone that the head coaching search being undertaken by the Los Angeles Lakers is different than any other coaching search in the leauge. After all, the Lakers are a high profile team to begin with, and this particular job comes with the added pleasure, and pressure, of inheriting a roster that has championship quality talent. It remains to be seen whether this season’s flame out was simply a combination of unfortunate circumstances, or the beginning of the end of the Kobe Bryant era, but there can be no doubt that next season will be held to the exact same standard of success or failure that this season was.It will be championship or bust. But the high profile of the position is not what makes the Lakers’ search so unique. Instead, what makes this search so different from what is going on in Golden State or Houston is the stark similarity between the Lakers coaching search and a political campaign. The candidates are not being judged simply by their qualities and merits as a person. Instead, their ideologies are center stage in helping to make this selection. The process itself may not be democratic, but the choice will be made based on the answer to this question: Should we stay the course, and maintain the current system? Or is now the time for change?
From Brian Champlin, Lakers Nation: Brian Shaw is as familiar to Lakers fans as cracker jacks are to a baseball game. We all have fond memories of his clutch threes in the epic comeback against Portland, his steady veteran leadership, his defense and of course his alley-oop passes as part of the Shaw-Shaq redemption. But the question on Lakers’ fans minds now is, would he make a good head coach? There is something to be said for continuity and the of hiring Shaw would represent the ultimate in that respect. He would almost certainly run the triangle offense and there is probably no other available candidate more qualified to do so than he. The triangle has been good to the Lakers over the years and as recently a season ago it was the system that brought them a second consecutive title. And really the truth is that with their current roster of aging players and non-athletes, it tough to foresee the Lakers changing styles of play with their current personnel. But keeping the system in tact isn’t the only reason to go with Shaw.
From Elizabeth Benson, Lakers Nation: There was one reason why Mitch Kupchak brought Ron Artest to the Los Angeles Lakers: defense. Artest’s hiring brought many questions to the Lakers’ community because of his erratic and sometimes violent behavior on the court. In fact, it was Ron Artest who got into a verbal altercation on the court with Kobe Bryant a few months prior to his joining the Lakers’ squad. This altercation took place during the playoff series between the Lakers and the then Ron Artest led, Houston Rockets. Not to my surprise, Bryant shrugged off the situation and called it a part of the competition of the game. But what surprised me, was how Artest was able to forget the conflict and move on as a new Laker. The man behind the “Malice in the Palace” is a different man. His revelation that he is suffering from mental illness – which is the true reasoning behind his angered past – seemed to lift the monkey off of Artest’s back and inspire others. His further commitment to bringing awareness and helping those who also suffer from mental illness could only be commended and has in fact been rewarded. On the court, Artest has the defensive ability to frustrate his opponent’s mind and game. During his first season with the Lakers, he understood his mainly defensive role, but was still able to hit the jumper when necessary.
From Tim Kawakami, Talking Points: Jerry West, one of the most respected executives in NBA history, has agreed to join the Warriors front office in a non-decision-making, advisory role, multiple NBA sources confirmed tonight. An announcement is expected within a few days. West’s exact title has not yet been formalized, but he is expected to be reporting to co-owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber and possibly act as a sounding board in many areas. The addition of an icon like West is another aggressive and surprising move by Lacob, who brought in agent Bob Myers last month as his GM-apparent. West and Myers have a long relationship via West’s close friend Arn Tellem, Myers’ mentor in the agenting industry. West, a Hall of Famer player, was the Lakers’ GM from 1982 to 2000, when the franchise won 7 titles. West also was GM of the Memphis Grizzlies from 2002 to 2007, and was a consultant for a few years after that.
From Mark Medina, LA Times: Sitting on the team plane, plenty of thoughts raced around Lamar Odom’s mind. The Lakers just lost in a four-game sweep to the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference semifinals, officially ending the defending champions’ chance to three-peat. He had ended that effort in embarrassing fashion, committing a flagrant foul on Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki in the fourth quarter, a defining moment that symbolized the Lakers’ loss of composure. And then Odom’s thoughts quickly raced about his improved individual season, where his third-best 14.4 points on 53% shooting and a third-best 8.7 rebounds earned him the NBA sixth man of the year and coincided with his increased celebrity brand, most notably featuring he and wife Khloe Kardashian starring in a reality television show dubbed “Khloe and Lamar,” and the launching of a unisex fragrance line titled “Unbreakable.” But Odom’s emotions on the team plane provided more compelling drama than anything that reality television might capture and brought into question the validity of the name of his fragrance.
From Royce Young, Daily Thunder: The Thunder pulled out an incredibly gutsy, hard-fought Game 2 to even the series 1-1 with a 106-100 win. But more than likely, there’s going to be more talk about how the Thunder won the game than actually that they won the game. Scott Brooks is the main reason the word “gutsy” is in that lede. Brooks made what I’m sure was an extremely difficult decision to go with his bench the entire fourth quarter. Russell Westbrook — who was very good the first three quarters — didn’t play a second. It was Eric Maynor’s team to run. In fact, only one starter played the bulk of the fourth and it was Kevin Durant. (Thabo and Serge Ibaka played the closing minutes.) I’ve already heard people saying Westbrook was pouting, furious or a lot of other negative things about his “benching.” I’ve heard people speculating that Brooks wanted to teach him a lesson. But that’s not at all what this was about. This was about the five players on the floor and how well they were playing. This was about going with what was going to win you a game. Russell Westbrook isn’t stupid. The Thunder won the game and that’s what matters. He understands that. I’m sure he’s going to be a little upset. I’m sure he’s offended he didn’t come in. But the win is what matters and he gets that.
From Kenny Masenda, Ed The Sports Fan: When people think of the Oklahoma City Thunder, the first two names that usually come to mind are Kevin Durant and Kyle Lee Wa– err, I mean Russell Westbrook. It’s totally understandable, as they are the faces of the team. However, there’s another man on that team who is easily my favorite player and has been ever since he put on a Thunder uniform. The man looks about as athletic as a jar of applesauce, but when he gets on the court, he is a serious problem. That man is none other than James Harden. The story of Harden on ETSF is like others on here, in the sense that an opinion of a player is divided between Ed and myself. When OKC drafted him third overall last year, I preached to Ed how great of a pick it was. Shoot, the man was instant offense, a decent facilitator, and with the make-up of their team, he could be a legitimate sixth man of the year candidate for the Thunder.