Friday Forum

Dave Murphy —  March 2, 2012

It’s an active weekend for Lakers basketball. They host the Sacramento Kings tonight and welcome dastardly Dwyane Wade and the Heat on Sunday. The past few days has seen Kobe playing masked bandit with 31 points against the T-Wolves, the always constant trade chatter, and plenty of opinions about the front office, especially regarding one Jim Buss. Below are some article excerpts for your reading pleasure, to go along with this morning’s new Rumor Mill feature, and the upcoming game preview. Enjoy the weekend, everybody!

Brian Kamenetzky, ESPN Land O’Lakers: Kobe Bryant did what he could following Wednesday’s win over Minnesota to diffuse any talk about bad blood between himself and Miami’s Duane Wade – at this point, do I need to explain what I’m referring to? — ahead of Sunday’s game. Clearly his words of moderation never reached Matt Barnes. The Lakers forward said last night he saw the foul Wade put on Kobe in the All-Star Game as part of a pattern in which opposing teams are allowed to push the Lakers around without fear of consequences, in part because “me and (Metta World Peace) act like we’re going to do stuff, and get flagrant fouls called on us. Hopefully they’ll let us play. If they’re going to let the league play physical, they need to start letting our team play physical.” Barnes, who said he views Metta as the team’s true enforcer (not unreasonably) and himself as the enforcer’s “sidekick” later reiterated his point. “If they’re gonna let our star players continue to get beat up,” he said, referencing not just the Wade foul but the one delivered by Brendan Haywood to Pau Gasol, Feb. 22 in Dallas, “we’re going to have to step up.”

Dave McMenamin, ESPN Go: When the Lakers last played the Kings back on Dec. 26 in just L.A.’s second game of the season, Sacramento started the Lakers’ season-long road woes with a 100-91 win. The game? Not that memorable aside from the four-time All-Star Pau Gasol getting tangled up with the second-year player DeMarcus Cousins, incensing the Kings’ center enough to cause him to ball his hand into a fist and cock back his arm as if he was going to punch Gasol. Fortunately, the punch went unrealized as Cousins calmed down and Cousins (12 points and 11 rebounds) ended up finishing the game with comparable numbers to Gasol (15 points and nine rebounds) in eight fewer minutes of playing time. The question is, will Cousins’ tremendous talent go unrealized too? In Cousins’ short amount of time in the league so far, he’s already been removed from the team plane following a fight with teammate Donte Greene and demanded a trade, a poorly handled situation which ultimately cost Kings coach Paul Westphal his job. The Lakers play the Kings again Friday, this time at Staples Center and Gasol isn’t holding a grudge against Cousins for their near skirmish the first time they played this season. “You want all guys to succeed,” Gasol said. “You want all talented guys to reach their potential, because I think they’re given an opportunity in life, a special opportunity, and they should value it and take advantage of it. Absolutely, I want any kid in the league who comes up to do well and have a successful career.”  

Mark Medina, L.A. Times, Lakers Now: Andrew Bynum has some good news to share about his health. “My knee feels really, really good right now,” he said after posting 13 points and 13 rebounds in the Lakers 104-85 victory over the MinnesotaTimberwolves on Wednesday. Bynum said he felt discomfort in his surgically repaired right knee after it was hit by Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant during last week’s loss to the Thunder. That prompted Bynum to “ice the heck out” of his knee to minimize swelling before undergoing a lubricating injection Friday. And he played only six minutes during the All-Star game to help rest the knee. Lakers Coach Mike Brown called Bynum’s seventh consecutive double-double Wednesday a productive night, “The injection really helped,” Bynum said. “There’s no swelling.” That allowed Bynum to appear quicker than usual against the Timberwolves. In the second quarter, he spun around Minnesota center Darko Milicic for a two-handed dunk along the baseline. On the next possession, he threw down a dunk on a lob from Steve Blake. Bynum reported no pain after participating in most of Tuesday’s practice, sitting out a full-court scrimmage. His knee has remained sound all season; the precautionary measures of the last few days apparently are helping to ensure that.

Mark Heisler, Sheridan Hoops: Lakers fans were already recoiling in horror when Jim Buss began taking an active role in 2005, which someone (OK, me) compared to Jed Clampett turning over the Beverly Hillbillies to his cousin, Jethro (whereupon Jerry was heard calling his son “Jethro”). That spring, Jim Buss was part of the delegation that scouted Bynum, a little-known prep center. He was invited along by Kupchak, who knew he’d need help convincing Jerry Buss to draft a high school kid. In a long history of slick moves with West in charge for so much of it, that pick was one of the slickest in the team’s history. Of course, Lakers officials like to remind you, “We’re a mom and pop store,” meaning Jerry Buss doesn’t have billions like Paul Allen, or even Donald T. Sterling. On the other hand, the Lakers do have that $3 billion, 20-year TV deal kicking in next season, which will add many hundreds of millions of dollars to their account. Nevertheless, coming off a mere $20 million profit last season – down from the usual $40-50 million – it was pure Jerry Buss to tighten up and – when Odom moped in – giving them an excuse to dump his $8.9 million salary. Until then, the Lakers had two tradable players, Odom and either Gasol or Bynum. Now they have one. Jim Buss, who played the leading role in Mike Brown’s hiring, has been additionally criticized for axing Odom. But it looks like it was really a financial call, and Jerry Buss makes those. First-year coach Mike Brown now has a problem as more players besides Metta World Peace question the offense, or lack thereof. Yes, Brown is in over his head, but Phil Jackson would have been, too. If Jackson wouldn’t have junked the triangle, exposing their point guards who were fine in it, you may remember that he was there last spring when their issues surfaced Laker fans live in hope someone will rise to the occasion, as someone always has. Even if it’s been a while.

On the subject of Jim Buss (and buddy Chaz), there’s a piece in Ball Don’t Lie by Kelly Dwyer, incorporating another article by Lakers scribe Roland Lazenby from Hoopshype. I’m not doing the copy/paste here, as the material is best read in its entirety, rather than in excerpt form. The links are provided above – read ‘em and weep.

– Dave Murphy

Dave Murphy

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19 responses to Friday Forum

  1. “Read ‘em and weep”

    That’s hilarious. I actually feel like weeping when I read any articles about Jim Buss. I’ll hold back the tears though, until the trade deadline.

  2. “But it looks like it was really a financial call”

    All the moves, or lack thereof, point towards that, including the Chris Paul trade, which which have saved them 20M over the long term.

  3. I am a die hard Laker fan. I am also a Manchester United fan. The parallels between the two is interesting. Both are the most decorated franchises in their respective leagues and sports. Both have had long tenured coaches that brought them multiple titles (LAL: Riley, Jackson; MU: Busby, Ferguson). Both have rivalries that are legendary in their leagues (LAL/BOS, MU/Liverpool). Both have “noisy neighbors” that out of nowhere became relevant (Clippers/Man City). And finally, both have new owners/managers that base decisions on financial reasons rather than for the good of the team (Jim Buss/Glazers). For me, to see these things happen at the same time is disheartening to me. Reel in Jim Buss and get Jeanie to run things, for the good of the Forum Blue & Gold!

  4. Barnes is 100 percent right.

    Had Haywood’s foul on Pau been switched around, and say it would have been Bynum hitting Dirk, there would have been a suspension.

    Likewise, the other night in OKC when Artest was hit with a T for simply walking near a verbal scuffle between Kobe and Harden and others? Total reputation call.

    I wish the league would call a spade a spade; there are too many double-standards in the NBA, whether it’s superstars getting bogus trips to the free throw line or the home team getting the benefit of the doubt from the refs. The sport is better than that, but it’s always been this way in the NBA and likely never will change.

  5. I think Jim Buss has the reason to let people in scouting dept go, Lakers didn’t dratf well. The excuse people said that because Lakers made playoffs every year, but San Antonio got Tony Parker and Ginobli after they won championship. Houston team came to Portland this year and beat Portland, bench players of Houston scored 66 pts in total.

  6. @3 Abu – that’s a really interesting parallel… and yeah, I’d like to see Jeannie taking over the reins as well. She’s been such a good executive for the Lakers for so long.

  7. @DJ – the scouts were actually let go before the draft if that counts for anything. They’d all been with the organization for a long time. I think they’d done a decent job over the years. Certainly not as good as San Antonio but nobody drafts as good as the Spurs – they’re legendary for their scouting.

  8. I’m curious if the Lakers have anybody at the Sloan Conference. Anybody have some info on that?

  9. Funky Chicken March 2, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    DJ has a good point. Fifteen years ago the Lakers drafted Derek Fisher with the 24th pick in the draft. Here’s a list of all the guys drafted by the Lakers since that time (WARNING: you might want to cover your eyes, or grab a trash can):

    DeJuan Wheat, Paul Rogers, Sam Jacobson/ Ruben Patterson, Toby Bailey, Devean George, John Celestand, Mark Madsen, Chris Jefferies, Brian Cook, Luke Walton, Sasha Vujajic, Pallalcesto Amatori Udine (?), Marcus Douthit, Andrew Bynum, Ronny Turiaf, Von Wafer, Jordan Farmar, Cheikh Samb, Javaris Crittenton, Sun Yue, Joe Crawford, Toney Douglas, Patrick Beverley, Chinemelu Elonu, Devin Ebanks, Derrick Caracter, Darius Morris, Andrew Goudelock, Chukwudiebere Maduabum, and Ater Majok.

    Now, we all know that the Lakers have consistently drafted near the end of the first round during this time (the one exception being the Bynum pick at #10) pr sometimes not even until the 2nd round, but, really, fifteen years is a long time not to get lucky (or smart) on a late round pick. Looking through this list, it’s hard to find anyone that is a legitimate NBA contributor. Wafer has talent, but we let him go. Turiaf was a contributor. Goudelock looks good so far, so we’ll see with that one. Other picks? Not so impressive.

    This isn’t in any way intended to defend Jim Buss for his apparent disdain for scouting (at least as he articulated 14 years ago), but the Lakers’ track record of draft picks surely doesn’t constitute ringing endorsement for the team’s scouts….

  10. @9, VoR

    Jeannie is there

  11. sbdunks – if you are not messing with me, then that pretty much says it all….

  12. Hahaha, no dude I was being serious..

    http://twitter.com/#!/JeanieBuss

    I saw another tweet from an ESPN writer that said only three teams didn’t have a representative there, the Heat, Clippers and Jazz.

  13. Funky Chicken, you left out Marc Gasol, who was picked 48th by the Lakers in 2007. Granted, I would rather have had Mitch choose Ramon Sessions instead of Sun Yue, Aaron Brooks instead of Javaris Crittenton, Tayshaun Prince instead of Chris Jefferies (who was traded for Kareem Rush), and Jeremy Lin instead of Derrick Caracter. However, the Lakers did get mileage out of Sasha, Luke, Farmar, Turiaf, Wafer, and Marc Gasol. The one time they hit the lottery under Mitch, we got Andrew Bynum (and Gasol plus Wafer in the 2nd round).

    I think the one thing we can say is that Mitch’s front office has done a below-average job of selecting point guards, probably at least in part because the triangle de-emphasized their importance.

  14. Funky Chicken March 2, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    Dude, yes, I did forget about Gasol. No doubt that PG was not emphasized under the triangle, and that may have led to the PG problems (although, if you’re going to pick one, maybe pick on that could stick in the NBA).

    Overall, it’s interesting that over a 15 year period, and even accounting for low picks, the Lakers only managed to pick two guys who could start in the NBA (both centers). I didn’t want to spend the time to analyze all the other teams, but I venture a guess that that’s a pretty weak record when stacked up against other teams’ drafts over the last 15 years.

    Sometimes, I think people get lost in the fact that it is hard to draft a guy in the late 1st round or 2nd round and expect him to start on a championship caliber team. The list that I posted is pretty much devoid of any players who could start on ANY teams in the league (certainly any good teams), and in the last 15 years it isn’t as if the Lakers didn’t have positions that could obviously be improved.

    The point isn’t to say that Jim Buss is right and scouts are all overrated; but rather to suggest that getting rid of the Lakers’ scouts might not be totally unwarranted, because I’m not sure that you couldn’t replicate that record of success with two guys from a bar the way Buss suggested…..

  15. I think Tayshaun Prince was picked higher than the Lakers pick in the ’02 draft. We couldn’t have gotten him.

    However, the Lakers (and everyone else) could have picked up Carlos Boozer in ’02, and I still can’t understand why he wasn’t drafted until the 35th pick. I followed his career at Duke and while I thought he was a little predictable, he was also solid and NBA-ready/worthy. I thought he was a 1st round lock. Had an NCAA title, so there were no secrets about him. Also, while there may not have been enough room in the paint with Shaq in the middle, this was during a time when we desperately needed someone at the 4-spot to bang with the big 4s of the west… Instead we had Horry/Madsen/Slava/Samaki to hold down the fort and battle with Duncan, Garnett, Malone, Webber, Brand on a nightly basis, and then we go pick Jeffries and trade for Rush… instead of picking up Boozer. I do not get it.

  16. @16 – Luke was a decent starting SF for awhile, and Turiaf was a decent (but below average), defensive-minded starting C/PF for the Knicks and the Warriors, whenever he was healthy. In addition, Devean George started for the Lakers in the 2004 season.

    @17 – The Lakers had a deal in place with Toronto for the Raptors to pick Rush at #20 and the Lakers to pick the SF Chris Jefferies at #27. The Lakers then sent Jefferies and Lindsay Hunter to Toronto for Rush and Tracy Murray.

    Tayshaun was chosen by Detroit with the 23rd pick. I had my heart set on Tayshaun because of his height and freaky reach, and the fact that SF was our weakest position at the time (Devean George started, Rick Fox backed him up). Not getting Tayshaun probably cost us the 2004 championship.

  17. Re: drafts picks – I’m not gonna tolerate anyone complaining about the Machine. His eyebrow-grooming tactics at the free throw line were epic.

  18. I. Thomas looked darn good last night as the 60th pick. Lakers passed on him 4 times in tbe draft. Of course we don’t need a fast, athletic good shooting point guard.

    Clearly Chaz was busy bar tending when Thomas was hitting game winning shots in collage.