A Race Against The Clock

Darius Soriano —  January 21, 2012

For the past couple of weeks, I must have used the phrase “work in progress” to describe this Laker team at least a dozen times. With an entirely new coaching staff, new schemes on both sides of the ball, a training camp and pre-season that offered little time to prep with a full team (remember, the Lakers were adding players that are now in their rotating a week into camp), and little (if any) practice time in between games, the team is obviously learning on the fly. In the best of circumstances – a full camp and normal game schedule with regular practice schedules – the change in staff and schemes alone would have me tempering my early season expectations. When all the factors listed above are combined, it’s hard to make any qualitative analysis about this team beyond going back to that phrase.

The Lakers are a work in progress.

However, in their fruitless trip to Florida where the offense was absent and their defense didn’t live up to the standard that’s been set early in the year, it seems that this team is more “work” than “progress” at this point. In fact, these two games showed a regression more than anything else. The offense – which hadn’t been that great but was still average – fell off a cliff. They flirted with franchise lows for points scored in a quarter and a half. Defensively, they looked even slower than normal and struggled to execute the principles of contesting shots, running people off the three point line, and controlling the defensive glass.

And in a shortened season where Sunday’s game vs the Pacers will represent one-fourth of the full 66 game campaign this is problematic. In a normal season the Lakers would have reached the 25% mark of their year (let’s use game 20 as that benchmark) in early December (last year they played their 20th game on December 3rd). Considering the regular season ends in April, that type of timeline would give the Lakers a full 5 months to find their stride and work out any kinks. This season they don’t have that luxury. Five months from today will be May 21st. For comparison’s sake, the Lakers’ season ended on May 8th last year.

Time is short, but there’s still much work to do. Especially in the area of determining what the finished product really is. Of course, this is complicated by the variables raised above but also by roster changes that may or may not come and how, if at all, that’s affecting the players on the team.

Will this really be the team that finishes the year? Will the Lakers make a big trade to shake up the core of the team? Will they work around the edges to add a point or combo guard that can add the playmaking and/or scoring that this team is currently lacking? We have no answers here and the team must work as if this group is it, but if that’s actually the case the flaws on this team are real and that must be taken into account when evaluating what this group’s ceiling is.

Meanwhile, the clock keeps ticking. Soon it will be the all-star game where two Lakers will likely be in the starting line up for the West, then the trade deadline in March, then the push for the playoffs, and ultimately, the second season. It seems so far away but it will all be here before we know it. As someone that’s preached patience – and still does, by the way – that reality is both exciting and scary. The Lakers have so far to go and little time to do it but possess the work ethic and talent at the top of their roster that make it hard for me to count them out.

This season is shaping up to be one of the strangest I’ve seen in some time and the race against the clock has a lot to do with it.

Darius Soriano

Posts

58 responses to A Race Against The Clock

  1. Darius I’d like to give you props on the 5 on 5 questions you had with ESPN before Orlando game yesterday, you provided some of the best answers out of any of the guys on there.

    I think Lakers fan need to take a step back and realize that no matter what happens this year, this team is not winning a title. Yes we as fans are spoiled and expect a title yearly but those expectations are unrealistic even for the bright lights in LA. It’s as simple as this, the talent as constructed on the roster right now cannot win a title. There is one superstar (Kobe) with 2 good players (Bynum, Pau), and the rest are mediocre to subpar players. Clearly this team will not be able to beat elite teams come playoff time, it is a lack of talent and we all realize this.

    However with that being said, unless Mitch can pull off some miraculous *TRADES* (emphasizing plural) the team still is not a title team. If you trade Bynum for Howard straight up (although I think now Orlando will insist on Pau+Bynum because they’d be crazy not to) this team is in the same exact situation. No role players to step up and fill the necessary voids that role players do on Championship teams. If the Lakers trade Bynum+Pau for Howard (which at this point must be done for Kobe, as well as for the future of the franchise – Deron Williams would be likely to come here as a FA with Kobe and Howard both here) the team is worse off due to a lack of depth and a lack of talent. Either way the Lakers cannot improve drastically by either one of those trades.

    The second issue is attractive trading pieces. The Lakers have 2 (Bynum+Pau), nothing more in the form of expiring contacts, attractive draft picks or young prospects (sorry Ebanks, Character, and Morris you don’t qualify). Because of this Mitch really has the ability to pull off only one trade that will have any impact at all. Sure he can add a veteran here or a decent journeyman there, but his hands are really tied due to the chips he has. People have mentioned guys like Beasley or O.J. Mayo as players LA could pursue because of their disgruntled situation with their respective teams but what could LA possibly offer those teams in the form of comparable value? Teams are not just going to help LA by giving them a good player for nothing, this only happens to bad teams. Really this team is in a bad spot in a bad way, stuck in a place where they are trying to maximize Kobe’s last few years with an aging roster, or blowing it up and building for the future. At this point there is no solution to the issues this team has and there probably will not be by the end of the season because they can only improve so much.

    So as hard as it is for some fans to stomach, its time to temper expectations and look at things realistically . . . . This team is not going to be a contender this year regardless of what happens by the trade deadline (unless Mitch can pull a miracle off by selling his soul to the devil).

  2. I too suggest patience. The Lakers have two starting All Stars on their team and Pau Gasol who I think should make the All Star team behind Griffen, Love, Aldrdidge, and right right in front of Dirk who will miss it for the first time in a while. It shouldn’t be too hard to add the right peices. Like I have said since before opening day… This isn’t the team we are going into the playoffs with… So we should sit back, enjoy basketball, and wait to see what the FO does.

  3. Patience yes – now we have no choice – because the Magic will wait until after the ASG. Patience in the pre-season was not the move- because we could have had D12 then for Pau/AB. Now we may not get that. so patience is not always the right thing to do : )

  4. The problem with “patience” is that the Lakers don’t have any good young players. Yes, Bynum is only 24, but this is his 6th year, the knee injuries have made him less athletic, and he is unlikely to to get all that much better. Morris and Goudelock are not NBA-ready, and Ebanks never gets to play.

    So, while more familiarity with the system may lead to minor incremental improvements, it is highly unlikely to make a significant difference. The Lakers are a “work in progress” mostly because we are assuming there will be personnel changes.

    I do think where “patience” is needed with this team is with the FO, as it is likely nothing will happen until the deadline or closer to it.

    Short-term, Brown can try a few adjustments in the rotation and maybe try to work in a few “Triangle-ish” sets that suit the team’s personnel better.

  5. 1. “Will this really be the team that finishes the year?” …. Hope and Pray not, cause if it is, with the way that they’re currently shooting the ball and playing on the road, they’ll be hard pressed to make the playoffs. And even if they happen to make the ‘offs, they’ll be a 1st round exit. Opposing teams will simply take the ball out of Kobe’s hands and dare someone else on the roster to beat them. Although the Defense is steady (not Elite), the premise of the game is still to put the rock in the basket and outscore your opponent. As currently constituted (getting nothing offensively from the 1 & 3 spots, Kobe being the only playmaker and this ‘Perimeter Pau’), I don’t see that happening.

    2. “Will the Lakers make a big trade to shake up the core of the team?” …. I Hope and Believe so. Not only for this season, but for the future of the franchise. After last nights debacle, it’s become obvious that the only way that we’ll be able to acquire Howard is if we surrender both Drew & Pau. Magic GM Otis Smith new this all along. When you mention Howard, you’re talking about a SUPERSTAR. Future Hall of Famer. When you mention Bynum, you’re still talking POTENTIAL. As in, ‘He has the Potential to be The Man on a Championship Caliber Team.’ Howard is and has already been that. For years. The only way that we can avoid this is if we’re lucky enough to get a 3rd team involved. As for Williams (who also has us on his Short List), I do not believe we have the pieces to acquire him. They wouldn’t take back Pau (especially at his age) and the only Big that they’re interested in is Howard. In regards to the future of the Franchise, Superstars attract other Superstars (i.e. Miami).

    3. “Will they work around the edges to add a point or combo guard that can add the playmaking and/or scoring that this team is currently lacking? …. To put it simply, if they don’t make the ‘Big Trade’, they sure as hell better use that TPE to add a piece or two if they wish to contend for the ‘chip this year. As a matter of fact, if they go on ahead and decide to move Drew and Pau to pick up Howard, they better maintain that TPE. That combo is compensation enough for Howard. So in essence, even though I doubt that they would, they could still use the TPE even after making the ‘Big Trade.’ If they play their cards right.

  6. I said the other day I didn’t see progress. Against Miami and Orlando I saw for the first time back screens and baseline screens to get Pau the ball deep in the paint about 5 times in a row to start the 2nd half. It seems the coaching staff has found out where Kobe likes the ball he said as much. And now Pau has been a focal point and coaches have made a consistent effort to get him the ball down low.

    I see the PnR with Gasol and Fisher spotting up for a 3 or dump it into Gasol. The PnP with Kobe and Murphy. I see the coaches are finding ways to get guys in position to make plays.

    Floor spacing has been better these past 2 games. Kobe has been hitting open guys they just haven’t made shots. I would hope guys make those shots eventually. I see some progress. Lakers should put Ebanks in the game for Kapono.

    I have seen something resembling an offense vs Miami & Orlando I know you guys see it too. It’s just a struggle to score right now because we are literally learning on the fly. I see coaches getting player sin sweet spots. Now if they can build on that and if Bynum can become the player we have all hoped for since 08.

    Lakers still have holes at PG, SF, backup SG. Devin Harris looks out of shape I don’t know if he helps right now. Would a reunion with the LA area OJ Mayo tap into his potential? Don’t know. Do the Lakers gamble and take on Stephen Jackson for the bench? JR Smith, A couple 1st rounders for Nic Batum?

    But I did see more than I’ve seen all year last night in Orlando and in Miami as far as running plays and figuring some things out.

  7. The more I think about it the more I think the Lakers should get Stephen Jackson. He isn’t happy in Milwakee he would play hard for a ring and fits a need backup SG. He’s a underrated playmaker and a spot up shooter. The only problem would be his whining about a contract. If we get him I hope we would trade MWP or DNP him all season he doesn;t help us at all.

    fish, kobe, barnes, pau, drew

    blake, jackson, ebanks, mcroberts, drew

    end of game fish, kobe, jackson, pau, drew sounds alright

  8. Lakers8884: good post by the way. I would emphasize the part about either maximizing Kobe’s last years or blowing it up. The time to do one or the other will be soon.

    Patience: Sorry, let’s come up with a new word. I heard “patience” too much on this board in pre-season. Perhaps we could use “tolerance” for the time being : )

  9. The problem with patience is too many people don’t have enough of it.

  10. The first thing that needs to happen in Laker land is for the Bigs to remember how to play basketball. Pau isn’t a 3 point shooter, he’s majestic on the post. Bynum isn’t a second option – he’s a pick up the scraps on the board guy and defense guy.

    Watching this team as a whole, you can tell that they don’t trust/like/enjoy to play with each other. These incessant Howard trade rumors is leaving everyone on edge, so they don’t work as a team together.

    Bynum so wants to be a primary option on offense that he actually pouts when the Lakers don’t force feed the ball into him on a double team.

    Pau is so far away from the basket these he’s playing an old man KG’s game – which will result in a lack of offensive rebounds and a precipitous fall in efficiency.

    And Kobe doesn’t trust his shot behind the 3pt line because of his wrist, so when the ball goes to him, often times is sticks and the offense stops moving.

    The other guards and forwards are so self conscious, that often they refuse to shoot when they are wide open beyond the arc. Jason Kapono is in this league for 1 reason – to shoot 3 pointers – but his foot is always on the line and he seems to tentative to step in rhythm and shoot..
    shot.

    More than anything else, the Lakers take FOREVER to get into there offense – how many possessions last night were there less than 10 seconds left on the shot clock. That gives the opposing defenses tons of time to set up, and exhausts them less because they don’t have to fear to sprint back.

  11. The problem with patience is too many people don’t have enough of it.

    Darius,

    If you have some specific arguments to refute what I said, let’s hear them.

    There may be something to what you and Kevin up above are saying. OTOH, the Lakers were basically blown out of both of those games, even though Miami didn’t have Wade and Orlando was without Turkoglu. If the Lakers start running their sets better, that may lead to some incremental improvements. My position, however, is that the team’s personnel issues preclude major improvements. If you disagree, please explain why, in specific terms. For example, do you think that improved running of the sets along with some regression to the mean, will dramatically increase the team’s 3p%? Do you think that there are particular players, perhaps Ebanks or McRoberts, since they are both young, who can dramatically increase their production with some adjustments in player usage patterns and offensive tactics?

    I would be quite happy to be wrong about this team. To this point, though, I have not been.

  12. I disagree with the assessment that this team is doomed. There will be guys available that can make this team a contender. A guy like JR Smith would be huge. We desperately need someone who can create on the 2nd unit and he will be available in February. I would bet that Mitch has already talked with his agent. Aaron Brooks will also be available. While he is a restricted free agent, if he signs a one year offer sheet with the Suns, he can walk next year. Would the Suns not try and get something for him? Same thing with Nick Young. He can walk this summer.

    There will also be the annual salary dumps at the trade deadline. So I am not convince that we can not improve this team.

    As far as Bynum and Gasol for Howard. Thats just crazy. We would become the knicks. If we are going to trade both Pau has to go somewhere that would bring back some role players.

    So what can be done in the short term?

    1. Start Morris until Blake gets back. . Metta is not working out as the 2nd unit facilitator. Play Fish with the 2nd unit. If nothing else he can organize the offense and he is a willing passer into the post. Morris as a starter would have 4 vets around him to help him out.

    2. Give Ebanks run with the 2nd unit. He has demonstrated that he can shoot a little and Metta has demonstrated that he can’t.

    3. If Kapono won’t shoot there is no reason for him to be on the floor, same for Murphy. Both were brought in to shoot and both have been reluctant shooters. The rest of their game is too much of a liability if they don’t score.

  13. Yearning for optimism I stumbled upon team stats from the ’98-99 lockout season and compared them to ESPN’s current team statistics.

    The teams that made the finals in the ’98 season were the Spurs and the Knicks. They were 3rd and 4th in regular season Team OPP/PPG. Lakers lie with Boston at 5th so far.

    In the ’98-99 season, the New York Knicks were 26th in the league in team PPG, Spurs were 13th. Knicks that season had apparent chemistry issues. Lakers are at 19th so far, and display an offense uglier than Troy Murphy’s mug.

    The Spurs and Knicks (at 1&2, respectively) led the league in OPP FG%. In OPP FG%, Lakers are at 3rd so far this season.

    Meaningless statistics, you say? Eh…

  14. I disagree with the assessment that this team is doomed. There will be guys available that can make this team a contender. A guy like JR Smith would be huge. We desperately need someone who can create on the 2nd unit and he will be available in February. I would bet that Mitch has already talked with his agent. Aaron Brooks will also be available. While he is a restricted free agent, if he signs a one year offer sheet with the Suns, he can walk next year. Would the Suns not try and get something for him? Same thing with Nick Young. He can walk this summer.

    There will also be the annual salary dumps at the trade deadline. So I am not convince that we can not improve this team.

    As far as Bynum and Gasol for Howard. Thats just crazy. We would become the knicks. If we are going to trade both Pau has to go somewhere that would bring back some role players.

    So what can be done in the short term?

    1. Start Morris until Blake gets back. . Metta is not working out as the 2nd unit facilitator. Play Fish with the 2nd unit. If nothing else he can organize the offense and he is a willing passer into the post. Morris as a starter would have 4 vets around him to help him out.

    2. Give Ebanks run with the 2nd unit. He has demonstrated that he can shoot a little and Metta has demonstrated that he can’t.

    3. If Kapono won’t shoot there is no reason for him to be on the floor, same for Murphy. Both were brought in to shoot and both have been reluctant shooters. The rest of their game is too much of a liability if they don’t score.

  15. Darius: We have also been “patient” with those on this board who have flip flopped on issues, and also those who abandoned the team and the board. They are the people who need a little more patience. robinred and I have been consistent: We want a team that has a chance to win a title or a plan to build, to get that. Right now we have neither. We will wait “patiently” to see if we get one or the other. In the meantime, we cheer and comment on how we think to best pursue those goals.

  16. Robinred,
    From where I sit, your position actually requires the most patience. You’re vocal for change and express grave concern over the long term prospects of this roster as it is. However, the type of change you seek doesn’t happen overnight and typically takes at least one trade partner to work with. That trade is then typically complex, involving high salaries, with a lot of haggling over who gets what and how much dead weight or sweeteners a team has to take on or give. The trade that landed Pau in LA was in the works for close to a year.

    People think patience is solely living with this group and waiting for them to play better. That’s one form, but not the only one. It’s also understanding that the type of deals many fans seek – impact ones that actually improve the Lakers and aren’t lateral moves that are only change for change sake – don’t simply materialize overnight. They take time. Waiting takes patience. But fans want to complain about how the team is playing, want instant improvement, and expect it because they root for the Lakers and expect to win a championship.

    Meanwhile, I’m sitting back and basically saying these things: I want to win. This team isn’t awful. They can improve and I’m hopeful they will. Also, if a move is going to happen, that takes a willing partner and one that you can actually work with to improve the team. Everything I’m saying takes time and some patience to live through.

  17. Darius,

    I appreciate the reply.

    Michael H,

    Agreed on Ebanks. Also liked Darius’ idea of pairing Pau/McRob and Bynum/Murphy. Disagree about Morris, but do want Blake as starter at PG when he gets back.

  18. Guys I was one of the people asking for immediate changes but if we make drastic changes doesn’t that just start the process all over again. then we’re back to square 1.A lot of these players were used to doing someone one way for 5+ years. you can’t just change habits overnight.

    This team plays like it’s the playoffs come playoff time games will slow down and get ugly and at least we are used to that by now. but I see some progress as minimal as it is. this is a marathon not a sprint. guys will start to make open shots and the familiarity with each other and the offense will start to show.

    with that said it doesn’t mean we don’t have holes in our roster. If Bynum can just stop pouting and dominate the paint we’ll be better for it. And someone please tell Mike brown to play ebanks he was hitting shots when he was starting

  19. I am just curious, why would Howard sign an extension here if we need to trade both Pau and Andrew to get him? Sure we are on his list now but would he be as willing to commit here if Matt Barnes is our 3rd best player? Would we still be on his “list” ? At least the Nets has D Will and he is still young. Kobe is 33. Better yet he and D will could sign in Dallas and he would have Dirk as well. Trading both wouldn’t guarantee that he would stay beyond this year. I can imagine him thinking, I have it better staying put.

    All one has to imagine is how tough the Lakers would be with a couple of shooters like Orlando has. Teams could not flood the paint like they do now and both Andrew and Pau would would look much much better. I can’t see Howard having much more success then Andrew and Pau with 4 guys camped out in the paint.

  20. Michael,

    Robert and I have discussed that. If the Lakers tried to get Howard, I would try to get him to sign a two-year extension and would try to bring Turkoglu (who would help the Lakers) here with him. Also, Orlando, shooters or not, does not have Kobe Bryant and is not going to beat Miami or Chicago as constructed.

    On another level, though, you’re right: Cuban and Dallas are in the driver’s seat to land Howard long-term right now.

  21. Guys I was one of the people asking for immediate changes but if we make drastic changes doesn’t that just start the process all over again
    ___

    Doesn’t seem to be hurting the Clippers much.The Clippers have gone from 30th in turnovers to 2nd–with three new starters, and a short training camp.

  22. Aloha Robinred,

    The problem with Dwight signing an extension is, well, he has stated over and over that he will not sign anything until the summer. And under the new CBA it makes perfect business sense not to. If we can find a way to get Howard without giving up Pau, great. But seriously, I just can not see him wanting to come here without Pau. He would have a better chance at a ring in Orlando.

  23. Michael: U are correct with your concern, why would he sign here. That becomes a bigger concern with every game : ) Hence why I wanted the move in pre-season – he would have wanted to come here then : ) I like ur short term moves. I also agree that there will be players available, but with an $80 mill payroll, our chances of getting them are not good. We will get a role player or two – but that’s it. Stars will require a big deal.

  24. Michael,

    Howard says a lot of things. But, sure, if he won’t sign, then the Lakers can’t risk it. Like I said, the two-year deal would be my pitch to him–no idea whether he would take it. If not, so be it. I do not see Orlando trading him here for Bynum straight-up, particularly after last night.

    Better chance for a ring in Orlando? Perhaps. But LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Derrick Rose are not between him and the Finals in the West. OKC is, but with the above deal, the Lakers would still have the TPE.

    The Lakers are not going to get Howard in FA, barring a miracle. If they don’t really want him, fine. But if they don’t make a run at him now, they can forget it.

  25. I agree with Matt Moore’s assessment of the Mike Brown offense: the Lakers run a lot of pick and rolls, but the results are never penetration toward the basket; it just shifts the ball to the weak side. Kobe just doesn’t have the handles or explosiveness at this age to attack the rim on every possession, so the result is a lot of long shots after a lot of useless passes. This is an issue that I do not think is going to fix itself over the course of this season, barring the Lakers acquiring a new PG.

    Also, Mike Brown said we would be transitioning into a twin towers offense. Um, I don’t see twin towers at all. Frankly, I don’t see a single tower. Both Bynum and Pau seem to be at Kobe’s mercy when it comes to getting the ball in good post position, but we keep hearing from Fisher that it is Brown calling the plays off the bench. A lot of times, I don’t even see a big trying to post up on the strong side. Our offense has gone from the majestic Triangle to “get Kobe the ball and hope something good happens.”

    I think the biggest problem is that the Lakers have been for the past few years a very top heavy squad. After Kobe, Pau, Bynum, Odom, and Artest, the Lakers were a pretty crappy group of players. And now, with Odom gone and Artest becoming MWP and basically turning into a walking zombie, we now have a team with 3 very talented players, and a lot of below average role players. It actually reminds me a lot of the Paul-West-Chandler New Orleans Hornets teams, who were solid playoff teams, but never seriously in the hunt for a championship.

    If the Lakers can get back to an inside-outside game on offense, I think they’ll be solid contenders. Maybe it’s due to lack of practice time, but this season is definitely going to be one where the Lakers are going to have to peak at the right time.

  26. Didn’t see the piece, but Moore is a Hater, so I would be disinclined to trust anything he says. Kobe has not shot all that much the last three games, particularly in the first half, and the Lakers offense looked worse than ever. Most honest commentary about the Lakers right now basically leads back to the same places. Focusing on Kobe as a problem indciates a preoccupation with him–which Moore has shown himself to have.

    The stat guy at SSR, who goes by the handle Actuarially Sound, wrote a long piece showing how far below their career averages the Lakers are from 3. This may be bad luck, may be lack of clean looks due to the limited drive-and-kick skills of the guards, it may be simple age, or some combination thereof. An analysis of that data that provides a more definitive answer would give some insight into the Lakers’ offense.

  27. For the “traders” here:

    If I were Otis Smith, I’d trade DH for Bynum right now. Yes, even after last night game.

    I just lost $20 to my brother-in-law. Before the MIA game, he said that the refs will take Bynum out of the game early, so MIA can shoot from the perimeter. He was right. Last night, he said that the refs will take Bynum out of the game so he looks bad and DH looks good. He stated that it will be “devastating” (his words) for the NBA if DH go to the Lakers coz DWilliams will probably follow him.

    I said that the refs will not call fouls like they did 2 games in a row on Bynum…$20 on the table….I was wrong.

    But Otis know that Bynum will get way less calls playing for Orlando. And, despite last night’s performance, Bynum can really develop playing for the Magic, instead of playing on Kobe’s team.

    For Otis, is this or loosing a lot of money.

  28. robinred, clippers didn’t change coaches and systems. they added veterans in butler and coaches on the floor with chauncey/cp3/ there transition is much easier. lakers have made progress there were a number of wide open shots they just didn’t hit. that’ll change or i hope so.

    the thing that’ll hamper lakers chances are mwp and blake long contracts. i see no reason to trade pau for anybody he helps ni so many ways. 3 finals with him. he’s been aggressive lately lakers need to keep kobe and pau together for sure

  29. The Clippers have had an easier time of transitioning three starters into their offense because they have three veterans that understand what they are trying to achieve in Los Angeles. The Clippers have the same coaching staff and have been running the same system for years. It is very easy for veterans to run to their ‘sweet spot’ and just wait for the pass.

    The Lakers had every opportunity to claim Billups off waivers, yet chose to stand pat.

    During the Jackson years the Lakers triangled themselves into a corner by not developing younger players. Thus, the team got rid of the young players that showed potential to be effective players in a different offensive system. Players like Farmar, Sasha, Powell and Mbenga were allowed to depart to other teams.

    Our current rookies can neither get time on the floor to develop, nor prove that they do not belong in this league.

    One way to give rookies playing time is to initially give them 2-3 minutes a game with the starting unite. That way they are more apt to play under control, thereby diminishing their willingness to play outside of their abilities.

    One thing is sure, young players do not improve by sitting on the bench. Why are the Lakers refusing to utilize the NBDL, like they did with Farmar? They would send Farmar to play in the NBDL, and then bring him back to sit on the bench in Laker games.

    If Pau is going to continue playing in the NBA, he should not be allowed to play for Spain in the summer. He earns his living playing basketball in the NBA, and it is a disservice for him to play animated basketball for Spain, then return to the NBA to play an anemic, uninspired game of basketball. At age 31, if he is too old to play in the NBA, then certainly he is too old to play for Spain.

    So sad constantly seeing McRoberts begging for someone to throw him a lob pass. The Lakers were throwing lobs early on (not like Lob Angeles) but at least one or two a half.

    The Lakers are not having fun on the court. When’s the last time you saw Kobe smile.

    The Lakers need to incorporate the “Kobe System!”

  30. @29 – Butler is probably the best non-star NBA player. The guy delivers every night and consistently.

  31. Magic Phil: Anyway I can have your thoughts put inside Otis’ head? I like it, but I don’t see it. I see the most likely result now as DH goes FA and goes to the Cubans; the only way to prevent that is to go 14′ for 7′. Does not solve all of our probs but allows Kobe to stay, Lakers have something to build on post Kobe, and we prevent a return to 80’s TV (Dallas-Dynasty).

  32. Chearn, Kevin:

    This is Del Negro’s 2nd year with the Clippers. The transition has been easier because the Clippers upgraded their personnel (coaches on the floor, as you said) and the personnel matches the system. The Lakers’ main adds– Kapono, Murphy, and McRoberts–are also all veterans.

    Insert Trade Veto caveat here.

    The Lakers had no chance to claim Billups. Amnestied players can only be claimed by teams under the cap. If all teams pass on them, as was the case with Baron Davis, then anyone can sign them.

    As far as the hope that they will start hitting more shots–I hope so, too. That is about where we are here in LakerLand: hope.

  33. Actually the Lakers did not have the opportunity to Claim Billups. Tax paying teams have to wait for a player to clear the non tax paying teams first. I am sure Billups would be a Laker or a magic if he had gotten through waivers.

  34. I will continue to be the voice of doom.

    The Lakers scored 10 points in the 1st quarter of the Orlando game. TEN!

    I missed the first half, but what I saw in the second half is exactly what we’ve been seeing. The Magic played the samesimple defense:

    1) Double-team Kobe when he has the ball.
    2) Pack the paint (making it tough for Pau/Drew to set up in the post or make moves)
    3) Let the rest of the Lakers fling from outside.

    No amount of practice time or tweaking the offensive system will make up for the fact that no one on the Lakers outside of Kobe, Drew, and Pau can consistently make a shot.

    Until the Lakers get players that do, they will face the same simple-but-effective defense.

  35. The Clippers transtion has been smoother because they acquired the best pick and roll guard in the league to run an offense that is based off the pick and roll. I don’t have a link in front of me but Kevin Arnovitz covered this quite well in a post at TrueHoop a couple weeks back.

  36. Darius,

    Correct. If the Lakers had Chris Paul, this offense would look a little different–with the same amount of practice time. That’s the point.

  37. Chearn – we couldn’t have picked up Billups. Only teams under the cap were allowed to bid on him; as the Clippers bid, he never made it past waivers to the point where we had a chance.

    If I were Pat Riley, I would offer Orlando a Bosh/Cole package. The Heat would miss the spacing that Bosh provides, but those 3 freaks on the same team? C’mon.

  38. The reason why the transition for the Clippers has been easier is that their new guys have a certain something that ours don’t: actual freakin’ talent!! Yes, they’re veterans, but they’re also all-star caliber players and not a bunch of stiffs like the majority of our players are, especially the bench.

  39. Thanks, I forgot about the cap situation, Re: Billups.

    Why did the Lakers pass on Nate Robinson? Word is that Nate Robinson is incapable of learning a set offense, but the Lakers could have used him off the bench in spurts. Even if he did not work out, he would have been a more attractive player to package together with the TPE and picks, for a player that fit the Lakers.

    @Zirk: =-)

  40. robinred, you have to trust the process. it goes against conventional wisdom to think a team will continue to miss open shots. so that should improve. lakers will do something to improve the team. but you have to like this team’s chances because of defense. that’s the only reason i’m optomistic the offense will improve it has to. I think of this team as the 2010 Celtics it seems to be following the same path. a group of guys who went thru the fire the year before then came together to make a run. i still say lakers will get stephen jackson

  41. Mike Brown is like a lot of people in the business world. They write business plans, make grafts and they have lots of meetings.

    Then they start the business and fail because they can not adjust or change plans in mid-stream.

    Brown is a good talker. He fooled Jimmy because unlike Jerry West, you can always fool a fool if you just keep talking.

    Jackson, Collins or Popovich coaches this existing team to 3rd ir 4th in the West with a outside chance of winning the West.

    Smooth talking Brown has turned this team into a confused, limping 8th seed and swept by OKC.

    Brown has lost this team. Complaints are surfacing about working them to hard and ass’t coaches questioning Brown on burning his 3 good players out in blow out losses.

    Sure we need a guard and Brooks would be perfect but more important Brown must go before the season turns into mutiny on the Staples Floor.

    .

  42. Congratulations to Lamar for getting double digits and a win for Dallas while starting in Dirk’s place.

    Good to see that LO smile!

  43. Lot’s of interesting comments on this thread, a good time for it actually.
    @13 Anon, I like what you had to say,and how you said it, I wish I knew who you were. I am happy for LO also, that was a great smile.

  44. Here’s a thought- Dallas sits at the 8th seed right now, only 1/2 game ahead of Portland and Houston. With Dirk hurt and the possibilities of future injuries because of an aging team, there is a chance they could not make the playoffs. That would mean that the draft pick we obtained from them for Lamar would be a lottery pick, and that could be worth something…

  45. Hey Davis! There us better chance the Lakers won’t make the playoffs. Dallas is smart enough to rest and get Dirk in shape for tbe 2nd half. Brown instead is playing Kobe 42 minutes a game and wearing him out for 2nd half.

    So who is the smart one here?

  46. 43, the pick is top 20 protected until 2016, so if the Mavs are in the lottery, they can keep it.

  47. @Kevin,

    I respect your optimism; unfortunately, I can’t share it. My view of the situation is a bit more like Zirk’s.

    I am not as down on Mike Brown as some appear to be. But I am seeing a few things I don’t like.

  48. Perhaps its time we discuss in detail the options and possibilities we have. It will involve quite the bit of speculation but it will engage on discussion matters thats still ‘intelligently relevant’ to this conversation.

    The hectic sked has not allowed us to talk as much as we’d like, since gameday threads are appearing 4-5 times a week.

    I will have something up in my blog sometime within the next couple of days of that to tackle such issues and hopefully they make it to mainstream. Just a discussion, not really a case of pipe dreams. There will be support logic to reinforce the ideas.

    Just a precursor, the deals I refer to are not the homerun deals everyone dreams of. They aren’t the Deron + Dwight trade scenarios that force a Miami-like scenario mid-season. I for one don’t see the sense of doing that right now. Perhaps one that would enable us to do it in the off-season.

  49. 30 Chearn

    Not trying to be a [@#$%] but I could have sworn I saw Kobe laughing and smiling on the bench last game. And he was cracking jokes with Jameer Nelson. Just sayin’.

    On the Lakers shaking things up–I say we start Luke Walton at PG and pray for the best. Ha.

  50. IMO

    The lockout and the resulting new CBA were aimed at two groups. The first was the players like LeBrawn, Bosh and Carmelo who felt that they were in charge and could choose where they wanted to play. The second was to the owners with deep pockets who overspent and caused small market teams to lose their players (the Lakers, Mavericks, and Boston). The other owners were tired of the monopoly.

    This belief ties into what Darius wrote “….if a move is going to happen, that takes a willing partner and one that you can actually work with to improve the team.” I don’t think that anyone wants to help the Lakers. Why would they? The owners did everything they could to level the playing field and they are not going to let the Lakers improve through them.

    I see the Lakers only having one choice, that is to trade for D12 for Bynum and lesser pieces if possible and hope that the thrifty (read penny penching bastard) Donald “DumbShit” Sterling gives Mo Williams away for the TPE. Don’t get me wrong, I love Drew, but he just doesn’t maintain his hustle. He may not be in game shape and he may be tired, but he is 13 games into the season. Where is his fire. D12 has the perfect fire to compliment Kobe and McRoberts. Hopefully it will put a fire under Pau’s arse and he will start to hustle instead of putting up these pedestrian numbers. Sixteen points, nine rebounds, and one block are good for a player making $8 to $12 million, but that number is lacking for someone making $18 million. He should be at 20, 10 and 2. That is entirely possible if he stops missing so many “chipies”.

    Mo Williams would give us the speed that we need at the point. Hinrich would be an improvement over Fish, but he is almost a mirror image of Blake and we need better as our starter. Devin Harris would require a trade, which would entail us giving up a valuable tool (Blake and Barnes plus or Pau and take back Al Jefferson). The same for Deron Williams who would be the ideal choice for our point guard. In order for D12 to work, we have to keep Kobe, Pau, Barnes and McRoberts. I don’t know if that would be possible with Deron.

    Why would the owners of the Cavs, Bobcats, Rockets or Bucks give us Ramon Sessions, DJ Augustin, Goran Dragic or Beno Udrich when they are small market teams who bitched and moaned about parity. It ain’t gonna happen.

    Nothing is going to take place until (or after) the ASG. I just hope that we can convince JR Smith to take the veteran’s minimum for one year to strenghten our second unit.

  51. Wow. George Karl played 7 men in a 2OT game. Gallo had 51 minutes and knocked in a cool 37 points and 11 boards. Nice middle finger to James Dolan, I approve.

  52. Why is this so easy to belief????!!!!!

    http://eye-on-basketball.blogs.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/view/22748484/3

    Kobe Bryant is talking to Dwight Howard, but is he moving Howard away from the Lakers? (Getty Images)

    By Matt Moore

    There are various rules and regulations that prohibit NBA teams and players from talking to one another in regards to recruiting for a trade. But when that player has been given permission to talk to other teams, that all goes out the window. Such is the case with Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant, who have apparently become like teenage girls gabbing on the phone with Howard weighing where he wants to be traded to, if at all. Unfortuntely for Lakers fans, it doesn’t sound like Bryant’s doing a great job as a pitch man. From the Los Angeles Times:
    Kobe Bryant has had at least one in-depth phone conversation with Howard recently, even discussing how Howard might fit in with the Lakers’ scheme.

    One person with knowledge of the conversation said Howard came away feeling as if he wouldn’t be the Lakers’ top option, for obvious reasons. It’s Bryant’s team.
    via Lakers-Magic center swap might be on back burner – latimes.com.

    It’s slightly bizarre that two stars on different teams playing Friday night have been chatting casually about their prospective dynamic should one of them join the other. But that’s the new NBA.

    Bryant scaring off Howard is pretty much the most Kobe thing ever. Yes, the Lakers are 10-5, but they’ve also looked very beatable this season, more like a “good team that isn’t winning a title” than a true contender, never more so than against the Heat (without Dwyane Wade) Thursday night. And yet Bryant has to make sure Howard knows the pecking order. It’s his team, and no Defensive Player of the Year, MVP candidate, most dominant center in the league is going to come in and take touches away from him. Bryant feels he’s earned the right to determine his order in the pecking order, what with the rings and the Hall of Fame eventually and everything.

    But this isn’t how you bring a talent like Howard in. That’s not how his makeup is geared. You have to try and get him excited. But if Bryant is good with his guys, this is a great effort to sabotage a trade, which the Times says is on the back burner, with both teams not having talked for weeks.

    At least if Howard does push for and agree to a trade to the Lakers, he’ll know for sure what he’s getting into. It won’t be Dwight’s team. It will be Bryant’s.

  53. I love all the criticism about Pau and Kobe’s heavy minutes, to which I ask, who else is supposed to play? I know the Lakers traditionally search for star power in trades, but the team may actually need more depth than name recognition.

    I also paid more attention to body language from our players in the Magic game, and it was horrible. The players look defeated, confused. For the first time in years, I have no idea what can help this team. Still, we root because we love this team and I hope Mitch has some magic (like the Cp3 “trade”) up his sleeves.

  54. WWL’s attempt to analyze the current team: http://warrenweelim.wordpress.com/2012/01/22/assessing-the-lakers-and-its-options/

    Hope you enjoy. Hope more you disagree.

  55. 50: Actually I was seeing it the other way compared to you and agreeing with Chearn about the fact that I don’t think Kobe was enjoying himself. It’s hard to interpret people we don’t know personally, but he had a look like he was a bit distant and frustrated during an offensive stretch (maybe right after the argue-tech-defensive lapse stretch in the last game?) that gave him flashbacks to 06′.

    I wish I still had the game DVRd so I could pin point the exact moment when on the bench for a timeout.

    Bye.

  56. While what he says may be true, again: Moore is a Hater, so I wouldn’t take it seriously.

  57. 57. None of us know these players personally. I’m just saying what I saw. I rarely see Kobe in such a lighthearted mood, I thought it was odd especially since the Lakers were losing at that point.