Can Past Experience Guide The Lakers?

Darius Soriano —  May 27, 2012

Every Memorial Day my thoughts drift back to the 1985 Finals. The Lakers were playing the hated Celtics, trying to defeat them for the first time of what would become the Showtime Era. The previous year the Lakers had been defeated in 7 games by those same Celtics, a series that spawned the nickname Tragic Johnson due to late game gaffes that directly led to losses.

The series didn’t start out well with the Lakers losing game one badly by the score 148-114. The game was dubbed the Memorial Day Massacre and there were serious questions if the Lakers had the mettle to beat the Celtics in the Finals. After the game, Pat Riley said “We’ll be back. If a seven game series could be decided in one game, it’d be over with but there’s going to be six more basketball games.”

There actually wouldn’t be six more games, however. The Lakers would come back to win the series in 6 games behind stellar performances from Kareem and Magic. I’ll never forget Kareem defiantly raising his arms in celebration after he hit a sky hook in the game 6 clincher in the Boston Garden. Not only did the Lakers win, but they did so on the Celtics home floor. That game represented a come back that helped catapult the Lakers to two more championships that decade, including another win over the hated Celtics. That game was a turning point of sorts for the Lakers as a team and solidified their approach as a franchise.

Today, the Lakers look to make a different type of comeback. There’s not a championship to win this season as the Lakers have already been defeated in the conference semi-finals. It’s the 2nd straight year they’ve failed to advance to the conference championship round and, with those early exits, the Lakers face the prospect of having to find a way to get back to championship level form. In a way, the situation they face to day is analogous to what they faced after that game 1 humiliation. After that game, there were serious doubts about the Lakers. Could they win with that group? Could they get past their rivals?

This, of course, will not be easy. There are tough choices to make and we don’t yet know how the organization will move forward. Unlike that 1985 season there isn’t a stock pile of talent to lean on and ultimately trust. The Lakers have some top talent but lack the depth of that team. But like that 1985 season, the Lakers must show commitment and resolve and find a way to come back.

No one knows this better than Mitch Kupchak who was on that 1985 team. He’d made his own comeback of sorts, finding a way to contribute after a knee injury changed the landscape of his playing career forever. Now he must call on some of that experience to find a way to make it work as an executive. Again, no easy task but if there’s a person that knows what it takes it’s him.

Darius Soriano

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111 responses to Can Past Experience Guide The Lakers?

  1. Darius: Thanks for trip down memory lane. 85 was my all time favorite year and I also believe in the overall significance that you point out. Had not heard that term Tragic Johnson for a while, but for you youngsters, – yes there were haters in the 80′s as well : )

  2. those were the days, indeed.
    McHale clotheslining Rambis, talk about physical play, those were the days, the Bad Boys of Detroit, eventually getting their day in the spotlight, against our lakers, the best times the NBA ever saw, in my opinion.

  3. I don’t know…personally, I suspect Mitch would rather be back there out on the court facing the likes of McHale and Bird than facing the task he has ahead of him at present.

  4. Mitch was just a role player of the main cast but what a role player he is. Wearing knee braces, he was a monster on rebounds and good in boxing out. With our two bigs today, they’re inconsistent on rebounds and has put up a putrid effort being boxed in the post. Rambis was unshaken when clotheslined by McHale, never got angry like Bynum nor crazy as Artest, Rambis just punished the Celts with his power rebounding and give the ball to Magic.

    If you look at those teams eliminated in the 2nd round, what do they have in common? Lakers, Clippers, Pacers and Sixers, they have imbalanced and soft roster coached by a so-so head coach. When they all started on Christmas day, the odds were unkind to them as Finals contender. Perhaps, we should have added here the Celtics, if Derrick Rose did not sustain a major injury. It is unanimous that Kobe is the best but he has no help, 2 7 footers who are inconsistent and slow. Artest is the only reliable guy but no longer sure of his fading talent after the Dallas series. All of these scouting reports were fairly accurate in the end. Our Lakers truly deserved to join other teams being eliminated in the 2nd round. Having said that, shall we continue the “as you were state” and expect to finish 1st next year? Some people said they need a regimented formal training which was circumvented by the strike. OK, after playing 5 games in preseason; 66 games in season and 12 games in playoffs – is it not enough to make some judgements? or carry on with all the b/s excuses to another season?

    Compare this team to the 1985 roster, except for Kobe, 2012 team will be beaten by the role players of yesteryears Rambis, Kupchak, McAddoo, Lester, Spriggs and McGee. Muscular Spriggs will just toy on Pau around.

  5. The hardest thing to do in any business in which you have invested your soul is to make an objective analysis and decision – right or wrong. This has to be done all the time, but there are certain key points where it is more difficult to do than others.

    This is something fans – as a group – are uniquely unqualified to do. We take our past prejudices, i.e. Jim Buss is irrationally attached to Andrew Bynum because he was a key part of drafting him, and imbed them in concrete. We have eternal hope that people we like will ‘see the light’ and change their approach, while we presume that others are not capable of any change.

    By this time, Jim Buss has had plenty of experience and Mitch is generally regarded as a very good GM – perhaps not in the drafting class as Sam Presti or R.C. Buford, but plenty good.

    I think I will just leave these decisions to these people and reserve the right to roundly criticize them if I think they made a mistake. Anything else and my stress levels will be high enough to endanger my heart.

  6. Darius: “I’ll never forget Kareem defiantly raising his arms in celebration after he hit a sky hook in the game 6 clincher in the Boston Garden.”

    Yes, that was electricfying, wasn’t it?

    “That game represented a come back that helped catapult the Lakers to two more championships that decade, including another win over the hated Celtics.”

    Thanks for the flashback! I was there for that 1987 homecourt beatdown of the Celtics and was it ever sweet.

  7. Of all the Lakers’ championships, 1985 was the most satisfying for this fan. In 1984, the Lakers were one pass away from heading to LA with a 2-0 lead, then Gerald Henderson changed history. Mistakes in game 4 allowed Boston to tie the series at 2-2. Viewed through the lens of that pain, as well as the Memorial Day Massacre, 1985 becomes incandescent.

    After that, I would rank 1988 (first team in nearly 20 years to win Back-to-Back), then 2000 (return to glory after 12 painful years).

    But then there’s 1980 (Magic’s 42 point, 15 rebound, 7 assist masterpiece-the greatest performance of all time IMHO) to kick off the Showtime Dynasty.

  8. Sessions’ player option will probably play a big part in determining what the Lakers FO does. Everyone thought he would for sure decline it, but his mediocre play during the playoffs makes me think he’ll pick it up to showcase himself some more with the most prominent NBA team next season. I still don’t think he is a starting PG in this league, but that’s just my opinion.

    If Ramon accepts his PO, we have to dump Blake along with Pau/Drew, get back a starting PG as part of a package and make Ramon a bench player. He might do better there as part of a younger lineup that can play at his speed.

  9. TB 8788: We agree on 85 being the best. You also mention 80,88, + 2000. Let’s not forget the greatest shot in Laker history: 87 – Game 4.
    Edwin: “if Derrick Rose did not sustain a major injury” Yes – 2 things – one – 4 leaf clovers – 2nd – that is why you need to be one of the top teams – anything can happen in the playoffs – it just usually doesn’t : )
    Craig W: Yes – Jim Buss has experience – but then? – Just because a guy has been in his job for a while doesn’t mean he knows what to do : )
    Avidon: Blake is unfortunately – guaranteed through 14. The price of getting rid of a $4 contract is a 1st round pick – as established by the DF dumping : )

  10. To take a page out of the 80′s the Lakers did not blow the team up after each loss in the playoffs. They figured out who they had to beat and the best player to make that happen. Watch how the Spurs defend OKC and then decide who the Lakers need to do the same. The Laker defense never had an answer for Durant or Westbrook. Let’s see how an experienced coach handles them.

  11. Winning or losing has little to do with transactions made in the offseason. Every summer you should make the team better any way you can. Be it blowing the team up or small tweaks or staying exactly the same. Whatever opportunities are available you need to take advantage. How the Lakers did last year has really nothing to do with anything. Now… How the players individually did does matter. The team could have won 10 championships in a row… But if LeBron was available for Kobe that trade needs to be made. The Lakers as always will look to improve any way they can. That means they will make every trade that helps the team… If no trades are available that would improve the team then no trades will be made. Simple as that.

  12. Lakers 85′…I loved! Mostly for what happened the year before, so 85 was cool.

    But I have the 80 (because of Magic stelar performance) and 87 (because of the team chemestry) in a special place in my heart.

  13. Baylor Fan: Yes – I loved those days. We got Bob McAdoo for a 2nd round pick. We got M Thompson for a guy named Brickowski and a couple of picks. We got a young B Scott for an older N Nixon head up, We got the pick we used for J Worthy, essentially for Don Ford, if you can believe that; and we got Kareem for a package led by Brian Winters and J Bridgeman. If we can pull off something like that this summer – we will be fine – however – I am a little skeptical – what about you? : )

    PS: Let me not forget Magic who we got essentially for an aging Gail Goodrick and of course Kobe who we got for Vlade. Quite a history we have here. Although 98% of the credit goes to people not named Mitch or Jimbo.
    PS:

  14. Looking at the speed and defense of Spurs/OKC clearly the Lakers are nit in the same universe as these two teams.

    No chance aganist either.

    Wake up call for us fans and FO.

  15. Ko: Some of us were already awake (and I will include you in that group). Spurs bring Gino off bench; OKC brings Harden; We bring Steve Blake

  16. Speed kills…. In basketball foot speed kills!

    Spurs have chemistry they know where everyone is at on the floor, at all times. Everyone knows their role.

    Derek Fisher is fearlessly scoring in the finals. Aww, to have that in a pg. But hey, Lakers fans got what they wanted a pg capable of scoring in the regular season.

  17. Fisher is playing good ball. Doing something lakers pg’s couldn’t. Hit an open shot.

  18. Diew is better then our bigs.

    Duncan is better then our bigs.

    Splitter looks like our bigs.

    All 4 of the PG are better then ours.

    Both coached are better then ours.

    Ahhhh never mind I am making myself sick.

  19. Lakers lost sight of the big prize. MB had them thinking of winning games in the regular season not the post season.

    Lakers trade away ‘Coolhand Luke’ Derek Fisher for the ‘Scariest Guns in the West’ Ramon Sessions and Steve Blake.

  20. Same shot Blake missed.

  21. Fisher just outscored our point guards for entire OKC series.

    Another brilliant move FO.

  22. Freaking Fish: 4 of 4; damn! Well – good luck to him because lakers screwed him!!!

  23. Hey c’mon now, Ken- I seem to recall that you and Aaron led the “get rid of Fisher” charge during the regular season.

    But I’ll agree, it was senseless to ship Fisher off. He’s coming off the bench in OKC just fine and making the FO look terribly foolish.

  24. No I said find a quick starter. I never wanted to dump him due to his locker room and clutch value.

    Besides please don’t put me in the same category of Aaron. that’s mean!

    Thanks

  25. This looks like those Lakers vs Spurs series of old except Duncan isn’t 03 Timmy. Superstars overwhelming the Spurs.

  26. Josh: Since you have a good memory, and since I am so repetitive, I know you remember my views on the DF dumping which I started voicing immediately after the Trade (I mean dumping).

  27. And we traded Fisher for a guy who is a free agent?

    We get nothing.

    Fisher get more rings then Kobe?

    One stupid front office.

    No wonder Lakers have become a also ran.

  28. Ko: Don’t forget the draft pick we gave up. However we did add $ to the 2012 Laker P+L statement.

  29. Yea Robert I know. Those race horses are not cheap.

    Now I know what the rest of the NBA felt like each year when we used to make the smart deals and they had to watch us in the playoffs.

    These are the Jimmy(Sterling) Buss years and they suck.

  30. Fantastic matchup right here. Watching the movement and communication on defense and the offensive adjustment of these 2 teams, plus the pure speed and quickness shrinking the floor from the Thunder’s side … this is going to be a fantastic series.

    Popovich in the huddle: “I want some nasty!”

    Which would mean something completely different in a Jay-Z track. But the young guns for SA have looked a bit shocked at times … it’ll be interesting to see if they can settle down. The entire (theoretical) problem with giving young players such huge roles is that they shrink in pressure situations and stop trusting the system … but the Spurs have such a fantastic system I don’t think it’ll be an issue after this game.

  31. Where was this Westbrook and Harden round 2. They’re laying a foundation with all these bricks.

  32. Snoopy

    You mean shrink like Pau, Andrew, Sessions, Barnes?

    Oh wait their aren’t rookies.

  33. Fisher is the best Laker on the floor!

    Oh I forgot Jimmy traded him for a bag of beans found on a Hill.

    We have become the old Kansas City baseball team. The farm teams for other NBA teams.

  34. Nice job by the spurs in the 4th quarter to beat the Thunder. But dang – the thunder score really quickly.

  35. Crazy Stat that’ll make Robert happy.

    Lakers scored 66 bench points in 5 games vs OKC

    Spurs scored 52 tonight

    That. Is. Insane

  36. Spurs shot 75% in the 4th quarter too, lol.

    Fisher’s not getting ring number 6 this year.

  37. Kevin: Thank you for thinking of me : ) That stat did bring a smile to my face for about 3 seconds. Then I realized again that we still have the same bench : (

  38. From 00-10. Lakers in finals 7 out of 10. Lakers win finals 5 out of 10. Spurs in Finals 3 out of 10. Spurs win Finals 3 out of 10. Lakers and Spurs won 8 out of 10 titles in a 10 year span. I’d like to see the Spurs win keep the old heads on top. Pop deserves it so does Duncan.

  39. Actually glad we didn’t best OKC. Spurs would have embarrished the heck out of Lakers.

    Can you imagine Parker and Ginob going around and to the basket Whike AB stands and watches like a guy parked in a handicap zone?

    Imagine Blake coming off the bench while they are burying 3′s.

    Spurs would have sweep and Jackson would have been in Kobe’s mug with KB shooting 35 times a game.

    Weeeeeeeew did we dodge a bullit.

  40. Kevin: You and I need to stay focused on one item, and that is the elimination of the Celtics. When/if that is done, you can root for whoever you want : ) I can’t believe I am going to be rooting for that Punk Wade and LeBronze tomorrow, but I will be : )

  41. It’s amusing reading some of the comments to me. When we had Fish there were people calling him the worst PG in the NBA. Noe that he steps up for the Thunder the same people are calling out management for trading him. Seriously.

    Personally I would have liked to keep Fish. We might still be playing but it didn’t work out. If you recall. Blake was going to the Trail Blazers with a 1st. Crawford was going to the T Wolves and Beasley was going to the Lakers. Now we wouldn’t have gotten Hill but Beasley would have given the Lakers another scorer. But the T Wolves pulled out. Seems like the basketball gods just were not on our side this year.

  42. http://whtc.com/news/articles/2011/jun/01/lakers-unveil-mike-brown-as-successor-to-jackson/

    Dr. Buss ” I only have 1 win thing on my mind Mike and that’s wi….”

    Brown ” Cheesecake. Yeeeeeaaaaaah”

    Jim Buss” Man, Am I good at this or what”

  43. One more time: While he deserves credit for his playoff shooting track record, which he added to tonight, Fisher would not have made a difference. He looks better on the team he is on now because he is in the right role. If the Lakers had Russell Westbrook and James Harden along with Kobe, keeping Fisher would have been just fine.

    And yes, the Spurs have a great bench. One reason for that is that they use a future HOFer as the 6th man.

    Also, Hill hasn’t left yet.

  44. Funny how it’s us with 5 championships and Spurs with 3*, but we still envy their success ;)

    Greedy bunches.

    Anyway, there is something about the Spurs that make you envy them somewhat despite their ‘lack’ of success compared to ours.

    And, as much as I love Fisher, I would love for TD to beat OKC, then proceed to annihilate the Heat…

  45. um, can we get over the Fisher trade already? I mean, geez, we cleaned up that spilled milk months ago we really shouldn’t be crying about it.

    Good for Fisher for making shots against Spurs. Just what OKC was looking for when they signed him for the remaining season.

  46. Renato Afonso May 28, 2012 at 4:24 am

    Would Fisher have made any difference in the outcome of the series against OKC? I seriously doubt it. We took a chance and it failed but we had to try something. Let’s just move on… Fisher couldn’t be a part of our roster next year…

    People can criticize Jim Buss on several things, namely the hiring of Mike Brown, but the FO was right about moving Fisher. And Hill was a good pickup for us. Mitch has been doing a good job, so let’s just wait and see. Now, Jim Buss, on the other hand should just let his sister takeover the team.

  47. Being real. We got swept last year with Fisher and LO. This year we won 1 game without them.

    Appear there is a bigger problem.

    Is it the system or the core players?

    What if we trade Pau or Andrew and get a all new bench and still get bounced in the 1st or 2nd?

    Perhaps it becomes a bigger issue.

    Do they want to or can they as team win with a 34 year player who takes up 50% of the cap room, takes 25% of the shots and makes only 43% and 28% in 3′s?

    Are the days of one player dominating over? Does the CBA now force teams to be less selfish money wise and shot wise?

    Is the NBA become a league of 10 man good players instead of 2 superstars? Guess we will find out if for 2nd year in a row the champ is Spurs or Celts type team. If so do you as an owner break up the Lakers and the Heat?

    Can a team win today with two guys making $55 million and one of them dominating the ball 50% of the time?

    The answer for Kobe fans might be difficult!

  48. Ko, I agree that is the system. Somehow we don’t the staff in place necessary to develop young role players and that is killing us on several fronts, from an extremely poor bench to too much playing time in the regular season from our stars.

  49. Spurs, and Boston are playing team basketball that’s why they are tough to beat. They have (Pierce, Garnett, Allen, Duncan & Manu) late 90s Superstars (just like Kobe) who are still playing at a high level because they adjusted well on thier new roles. Hopefully next season, the Lakers and Kobe can scrap thier team concept of “Kobe eats first” and just play team basketball.

  50. I think you’re right.

    Kobe will always eat first though as that’s his mentality. Doubt that is going to change. But if he were to tone that down a little bit and we had a bench/pieces to round out this team and not have it so top heavy, the team might have a chance next year.

    Oh, coach might need to adjust better to situations too!

    Bye.

  51. Kobe’s not going anywhere. For several reasons, including his leadership and value as an attraction. The new CBA makes it tough. The league no longer favors rich, big market teams, so the Lakers will have to be smart with what they’ve got, or what they get by trading Pau or Bynum. They need great coaching. I think dynasties are a thing of the past, and it’s not as likely we’ll see another Laker title for awhile.

  52. 1st.

    Boston’s not a good team. They just happen to play in the east – who only had two good teams this year: Chicago and Miami. Switch Boston’s position with the Lakers, and no way the Lakers aren’t in the Conference finals and Boston isn’t home before the end of the first round.

    And, Chicago lost their spirits when DRose tore his knee – in the first game of the playoffs. So Boston hasn’t faced a good team yet.

    And even though Bosh is hurt, the Heat are still winning that series. The Celtics can’t score enough against a good defense. For all the love that Rondo/KG/Doc get, the Celtics offense is TERRIBLE.

    2nd

    San Antonio is very good. This year. And are favored to win it all because they have depth. But lets not forget they haven’t won a title since 2007, and the only good team they had to play en route to that title was the Suns, who were eliminated through David Stern suspensions. And the Lakers – with Pau and Kobe – took them out in 2008, pretty easily I remember, when their big 3 were there and healthy. Then after that – they were never good enough to even be in the way of a Title.

    2009: Laker opponents: Utah; Houston; Denver; Magic.
    – San Antonio eliminated – In the FIRST ROUND in 5 games by Dallas.

    2010: Laker opponents: OKC; Utah; Phoenix; Boston.
    – San Antonio eliminated – In the SECOND ROUND IN A SWEEP by Phoenix.

    2011: Laker opponents: New Orleans; Dallas. eliminated in a second round sweep.
    – San Antonio eliminated – In the FIRST ROUND in 6 games by Memphis.

    If the Lakers had gone through a stretch the Spurs went through after 2007, people like Ko would have been all over these boards whining about the decline of Tim Duncan, or the injury proneness of Ginobili. Or that Parker can’t shoot. Or that Popovich had lost his touch. yada, yada, yada.

    But they stuck with their guys and drafted well. Why losing every season has to be the complete end of the world, with every player on the Lakers being bashed only for their deficiencies, is beyond me.

    Have some perspective. As much as the Spurs have been a “dynasty” since 1999, the Lakers have been the better organization. Los angeles: 5 titles, 7 trips to the finals. San Antonio, 4 titles, 4 trips to the finals.

  53. rr: Hill’s a FA. Had a trade kicker his team option became void. He’ll get a raise from someone.

    Mitch has done a great job. Built a championship team. He paid Blake and he hasn’t earned it. I remember the pulse of LA when Ron got 5 years was that was 2 years too much, but as long as he won a ring it would be overlooked. Now 3 years later we’re in the same situation when Luke was sitting on the books. He gave up two 1st rounders to get rid of 10 million while upgrading to a 2nd round 4-1 loss instead of a sweep. I trust Mitch and Kobe I don’t trust the useless old overpaid role players he signed.

  54. Cdog: With regard to Boston – All true – However if they get lucky (even more than already), there will be no asterisk next to the title, so I will feel better if/when they are out. They were miles away from us in 84, and Worthy’s TO, and the Air Conditioner broke and the four leaf clovers
    SA: again agreed – We trounce them when comparing results over any time period selected. However they are trouncing us over the past few years in the FO. They stuck with their core, but they have done so with reasonable fiscal responsibility towards the cap (ironic hearing that from me). Point is – they are not stuck like we are – and on top of that they are doing better. Deadly combo.

  55. rr: With regard to Fish: Some of us complained about this the minute it happened, so yes – when the guy we kept (Blake), is horrible, and Fish is doing well, then yes – I will squawk about that. Further we did not have to get rid of Fish. Houston did not want him. We did so to dump his salary. And lastly – no he wasn’t the missing link to a Laker title, however realizing how far we were from the title, if you follow that logic through – then you re-build. You do not trade away picks in this new environment. You trade picks when you are “close” and you are adding the final pieces. And if we were “close”, then a guy like Fish does make a difference (that is why OKC picked him up – because they are close). The FO did not have a clear plan – if we were re-building – fine – get rid of Fish (but at the end of the year), and if we were trying to win – then keep him. I still have no idea what we were/are trying to do.

    Perhaps we are tring to be “6th”. And if that is goal – Mission Accomplished !

  56. You can’t compare the Lakers situation to the Spurs. What the Spurs did was a process over the last couple of years. Plus there was a system in place where the young guys could lean on the vets. In our case the vets were also learning a new system. With no summer league, grainy camp or practice time that new system made it nearly impossible to teach.

    I fully expect next year to be better. In Sessions, Hill if we can keep him and Ebanks I see 3 guys ready to step into contributors. Especially Session. We saw what he can do. Then the team asked him to slow down, that I believe contributed to his struggles later. We will now have a full off season and training camp to work him into the system. Even if we trade for a better PG he will be valuable off the bench.

    Trade or no trade it will be important for those 3 guys to step up.

  57. Renato@46: Agreed – let’s keep Mitch, dump Jimbo, and bring back Jeannie. Can you get that done? : )
    Radius: I will never bring up Fisher again – however I will comment if someone else does : ) And with regard to the milk: It was spilt months ago, however I do not agree that the clean up is complete : )

  58. After the Pau trade in 08. You have to factor in PJ’s system some.

    Gone: Farmar, Sasha, Powell, Brown, Mbenga, Ariza, Fisher, Lamar, Luke, Snowboard Vlad, Ammo.

    Replaced: Blake, Goudelock, Bum Knee Ratliff, Joe Smith, Derrick “Pancake” Caracter, Ebanks, Barnes, Ron, Murphy, Hill, Kapono, McRoberts, Morris.

    Adding to the core has been successful early on. With top heavy contracts that’s all they can do. But these fillers of late have been busts. This team is far from the 80s Lakers coach on down. No more fillers time to get Kobe his apprentice the way Kareem got his Magic.

  59. Robert,

    To use your terms, either keeping Fisher or getting rid of him is “futzing around.” It makes no difference. And neither, for the most part, do late #1 picks. Late 1st-round guys usually are about like…Jordan Hill. What they do is get you cheap role players, which is helpful. But they are not, in your terms, decisive. And, again, Fisher is doing better in OKC mostly because of the players around him and the role he plays.

    As to why they did it, I think, in an odd way, the fact that you and other guys keep complaining about the deal shows why it was made. As was stated at the time, if they had kept him, every time Sessions messed up, particularly in post-season, people would have been calling loudly to get Fisher in there. I think that might well have included Kobe. I am not saying that that was necessarily enough reason to make the deal, but it would have happened and the FO seemed to think it was a problem.

    Kevin,

    I know Hill is an FA. He may stay; he may not.

  60. The difference between Sessions/Blake and Fisher is that Fisher was willing to TAKE the shot. Sessions and Blake were open repeatedly and refused to shoot. Steve 0-1 took one shot in the final game when the Lakers desperately needed someone to shoot; and Ramon was 1-6.

    Fisher would not have made a difference on the Lakers but at least it would have been palatable to watch a guy whom is way past his prime, actually give a darn.

    Steve has been on the Lakers long enough to bring something to the table on a more consistent basis. He was with the Lakers last year when outside shooting was a problem, did he come back this season prepared to take and make the outside shot. There is no value in him as he is a veteran with no upside. And, after three years if Blake is not comfortable with the Lakers it’s time to let him go.

    As a pro, Ramon has never been asked to be a starting pg for an NBA team. Moreover, he has never been a contributor in the playoffs. So, this was his inaugural season on both counts. Ramon is worth re-signing as the Lakers have given him valuable experience that the Lakers should not allow to walk away and sign with another team.

  61. Fisher couldn’t hit an open 3 wearing the P&G. If he’s hitting now, good for him. But I don’t want him back. Besides, I think Hill was a good addition. Sessions too. That’s our “depth” right there.

    Now, what we need is starters-level players. I know, not easy to find. But now that the season is over for us, the Dwight for Bynum trade makes a lot of sense to me. And what about the old Gasol for Lowry + Scola trade? Not sure Houston wanna go this way (once they didn’t get Nene), but having a line of Lowry, Kobe, Ron, Scola and DH seems fine to me PLUS Sessions and Hill coming from the bench, that’s an improvement on the depth dept.

  62. Just read a nice interview with Sessions on Hoopsworld. He seemed to really love the Lakers. When talking about the challenges he faced he stated the biggest was practice time. They had one. As in one. The rest was learning in games and game day shoot a rounds. I saw a lot of potential there when he just came in and did his thing. It was when he was asked to slow down that he struggled.

    He we were able to pick up say D will with some for of Pau trade great. But if not I would rather keep Sessions and use Pau to fill other needs then trade him for say Lowery.

  63. Derek Fisher has played back up SG for the Thunder and not PG. He also has played so terribly in the regular seasons and playoffs that Thunder fans are calling for his PT to go from a few back up minutes a game zero. It seems the few Laker fans who still think he is a NBA player just won’t let it go.

  64. Aaron: I am not comparing Fish to Sessions or any other starting point guard. I am comparing him to Steve Blake and there is no comparison. Both of them are liabilities on Defense, and Fish contributes leadership and shooting where Blake contributes nothing. I think rr is correct in that either way – we do not win this year – Even though according to some we had a championship roster. We clearly did not.

  65. The only thing I like about the Celtics is Garnett’s PnR defense. He’s the best defender I’ve seen in my lifetime. Right next to Pippen and Hakeem.

  66. All I know is Sessions and Blake were scared to shoot and scared of contact. Fish is neither and he just out scored Andrew’s game five.

    That’s sad.

    And if they had the sense to keep fish he could be a coach for Lakers. Since they clearly need one.

  67. Watching KG deal with the Heat and their fronting defense. I hope that Pau and ‘Drew are watching and taking notes. KG isn’t letting them get away with it so far.

  68. Before Lakers got Pau KG was my favorite non Laker player. i don’t care how many rings Duncan has KG was/is better.

  69. I don’t know if “past experience” can help the Lakers, but better writing can help the website and analysis. The Laker’s experience can certainly help them, but not the redundancy of their “past experience.” Nor could their “future experience” for that matter.

  70. Garnett and Duncan have both been excellent in the post-season.

  71. Everyone please start rooting.

    We haven’t even gotten to the 4th quarter deer in the headlights part yet.

  72. Wow, the C’s have looked completely gassed on the last couple plays. No one gets back on D and then no one rotates on a slow Wade drive to the rim. Very uncharacteristic, you can see the fatigue in the older guys.

  73. Rob – it doesn’t really matter. Whoever comes out of the East isn’t taking the title, barring some major injury in the West. While I hate both the C’s and the Heat, I also enjoy great basketball matchups – and watching the KG/Duncan and Rondo/Parker matchups that would take place in a Spurs-C’s final is intriguing. That would be far more interesting than Lebron on Kawhi Leonard. On the other hand, anything that gets the C’s closer to another title in this KG era does make me nauseous, I agree with that.

    Ignoring team hate, on straight basketball matchups, a Heat-Thunder and C’s-Spurs final would both be more intriguing than the alternatives.

  74. OK Snoop – then let’s go with Heat – Thunder : ) And I will root for OKC : ) But for now – I am rooting for LeBronze and his sidekick – that Punk Wade

  75. @73 – Are you sure? Have you see how the refs call the Heat games?

    I think SAS has a chance. And they’re a better team.

    Still, no guarantee of a title to the west.

  76. Smarter to root against the Thunder than to root for them. San Antonio doesn’t have many years with the group that they have.

    But the Thunder: They are a young team, but if they don’t win this year – or at least make the finals – after being in the WCF last year, next year is going to be much harder for them.

    And as much of a “good feeling” story that they are, those stories have a half life. The pressure on them next year would be to win the whole thing, or reconsider their strategy. And then, eventually, they’ll have to give money to both Harden/Ibaka – and will have to amnesty Perkins in the process if they want to resign them.

    Thus, this needs to be their year, or they are going to begin having much rougher offseasons/summers.

  77. i really hope we can re-build our team so next year, we can get a chance playing against Heat in the finals. hopefully, we can get 2 or more rings before KoBe and Gasol calls it quits. we must rely on Mitch’s miracle work.

    I think this year, the Heat have a chance to get their 1st ring and next, they could be defending champs. then again, the Spurs are really looking sharp, they might go all the way for Timmys 5th ring.

    and as much as I like Tim Duncan plays smart/basic basketball, which is boring at the same time, I also like KGs tenacity on both ends of the floor, especially on Defense. He anchors the Cs defense like no other can. This could be Bostons last stand in the playoffs.

  78. Pierce has no tread on his tires. Bone spurs for a guy who has to run around to get his shot is the worst Allen’s done. KG can make a difference somewhere else. Next year will be early 00′s Orlando for Doc. All the hoopla about Boston big 3 they have 1 title in 5 years.

  79. So many high expectations when McHale gift wrapped KG to Boston. And they have 1 title in that time. Celts were irrelevant for 20 years so this era seems bigger than what it is. Worst part is they beat Lakers for their title I’m sure that satisfies them more than anything.

  80. @78 – I remeber the big 2, Stockton and Malone. Those guys were legit. And they never got a single ring.

    The C’s big 3, at least, got 1 ring. That’s not bad at all.

    We, with our big 3 (Kobe, Gasol & Bynum) got 2. Nice.

    That’s how it is.

  81. MagicPhil: Speaking of Malone I’m still convinced Lakers win 04 had he not got hurt.

    Can’t forget Lamar. He was vital for our success.

  82. Kevin: “Celts were irrelevant for 20 years” Yes – there is no comparison of Lakers vs Celtics for anyone younger than 70 years old. We have them 10-4 in NBA titles since 1980. We have them 16-7 in conference titles during the same period. Throwing in the 70′s doesn’t change things much, as the numbers go to 11-6 and 19-9. They love to talk about 17, but again it is comical for 20 year old Celtic fans to talk about that. Like I said before – it is like Harvard or Yale claming football dominance because they won in the 19th century. Celtic banners had to be replaced last year due to the fact that most of them had been eaten by moths.

  83. @80

    Lakers big 3 in 08-09; 09-10 = Kobe/Pau/Lamar.

    Bynum wasn’t even around in 08-09, and while he played in 09-10 and gave some solid minutes in those playoffs, he was more or less a non factor in most games because he was always injured.

    the Kobe/Pau/Bynum triumvirate haven’t got past the 2nd round.

  84. Well, first things first.

    Nothing can be, and will be, done about Kobe. He is, as somebody else put it aptly, a problem but not the problem, and even then not the largest problem by far. Sure he eats up a lot of cap space, but it is what it is. We forget, but we have all seen how willing a passer he is when he senses his teammates trying – or being effective. He holds everyone on a shorter leash than he does himself, and that’s a big character flaw because of the degree with which he does that, but it’s not implausible to satisfy him and earn his trust.

    We have also toyed with the twin tower system, but we have been most successful when Pau played center for us. That’s because he’s a much better passer out than Bynum while not that far lacking offensive prowess. Factoring in effort, and present trade value, he’s the keeper of the two. I don’t think Pau can get us an all-star in return, even if it’s a small.

    Bynum is at his apex in terms of trade value. Nobody else on this team comes even close, and unless he makes yet another major leap in terms of growth (both mental and skill growth) he can’t be a cornerstone of our franchise… maybe for some other franchise who are proud to have their team get into the playoffs perhaps, but not for us.

    Fussing about the other players is just technicality, although the amnesty presents us with an interesting problem. Amnestying any of the big 3 is absurd since it will end up being a gift to the rest of the NBA. Ron is a good target salary wise, but who can you get at that price tag that will bring what Ron brings?

    At any rate, I do have faith in Mitch to conjure up something. It’ll be interesting to see exactly what it is that he comes up with.

  85. @81 Kevin – I agree 100%. Malone was a key factor on that series and when he got hurt, we were done.

    @83 Cdog – Yeap, Lamar + Pau was the duo that gave us those 2 rings. Bynum have yet to prove he’s a franchise player.

  86. I’m very confused with some people calling Kobe a problem for the Lakers. Perhaps you could say that he shot us out of a couple of games during the regular season, but at worst his (mis)fires cost us one game during the playoffs. Meanwhile, his superb play is what gave us any chance of competing in both the Denver and OKC series. Very baffling.

    Ken, statistics are a pretty lazy way to evaluate Kobe’s value to the Lakers. Were you watching the playoffs? He was the only one with heart AND the only one taking and making shots.

    k

  87. The thing is that championship bench usually involve players that already play with the starter before or at least have high IQ to know what going on.

    2009: andrew, luke, farmar have been playing with the lakers since their rookies year
    2010: andrew/odom, farmar and Shannon: with the exception of shannon which actually play withus for a year, the rest are pretty solid
    2011: Dallas bench, of terry, stevenson, and barea: pretty much have players that are either vet or have play with the starter for a while.

    That why I think it is a good idea to bring back Trevor which is a much needed defensive player and in some cases can play the SG. Or even sign sasha haha….

  88. As fans we get a little emotional and irrational. There are a host of problems on every team that doesnt win the championship each year. The perception is the deeper into the playoffs you go the fewer problems you have. This year was an outlier. Due to the lockout, many things were exacerbated. For the Lakers new coach, new system, no training camp, compressed schedule, old (not older) old legs, the failed trade, Lamar being butt hurt, undefined roles, failed twin tower experiment all played a HUGE part in this teams failure to advance. Add in Drew being suspended at the beginning of the season, MWP being suspended at the end, veterans “playing” themselves into shape also were contributing factors as to who the Lakers would play. Mitch will put the emotiuon aside and weigh all the factors. Every year every team that doesnt win needs to assess why and make the changes they think they need to make to beat the team that wins. For years we have been the team that other teams have built themselves up to beat. Now we have to look at the OKC’s and the SA’s and think about what needs to happen to beat them. MB has a history of getting a lot out of his teams during the regular season. He has coached two of the best players in the history of the game. His method and system has not produce championships. Phil coached 2 of the best players in the history of the game he produced championships, Riley has coached some of the best players in the game his methodology has produced championships. Food for thought. Phil won with this core MB couldnt get out of the 2nd round. We need to make better use of our exceptional talent. Find a system they by into that utilizes talent that other teams envy and covet. Popovich, Rivers, Riley, Pressi, quite a pedigree wouldnt you say?

  89. Robert,
    There is no comparison between Blake and Fisher. Although offensivley they both were bad shooters Fisher was worse. But defensivley Fisher couldn’t guard PGs and Blake could (although poorly). Fisher hasn’t been asked to guard a PG much since he left the Lakers being out onto SGs whenever possible.

    Kevin,
    Malone being injured was such a it deal nit because Malone was an all star but because his back up was….. Slava Medviiiidddddeeeennnnko

  90. Kareem: You are correct that Kobe is our only hope. However that hope can only be fulfilled if we surround him with a contending roster (we did not do this in 2012). KB is probably not going anywhere for the next 2 years, however I do not think the FO has yet made a plan (I could be wrong) for what to do with him in 14. In any case, keeping him around as a ticket seller/record breaker, like the Suns have done with Steve Nash is no way to treat the greatest Laker. Let’s bring in some talent and leave no unspent money on the table to help KB get his 6th ring here.

  91. Aaron: Can we agree on this? The fact that we are having a debate between Blake and Fisher is a pitiful situation in and of itself. The Lakers have always had guys on the bench like McAdoo, Cooper, Horry, + Odom. Even guys like Shannon and Ariza are studs compared to what we have now.

  92. Dom,

    I’m not sure if you remember the 2010-2011 season, you know, the one where Phil Jackson coached the Lakers and had his team swept by the eventual Champions the Dallas Mavericks? Phil Jackson actually failed to get this year older team to produce in the last playoffs, and that’s with a very productive Lamar Odom on the squad. I really don’t see it that Mike Brown has proven his ineptitude yet.

    Robert,
    I have been in agreement with you all year, and I still would support a trade of Bynum for Howard (while we’re at it). The only point where we differ is our is our evaluation of the FO. As you pointed out, we did not do much this year in terms of personnel moves, and what we did could mostly be described as lateral movement. However, what we do know is that the FO tried pretty hard to get CP3, use the trade exception for Michael Beasley, and perhaps even pushed for a Bynum/Howard swap (who knows, right?). None of these moves came through, but they made (and perhaps were forced to make) somewhat decent trades for Hill and Sessions. Though not game changers, these were positive developments at that point in the season. You take these failed trades as evidence of poor managerial performance, but I think that that’s a pretty lazy analysis, something ESPN usually resorts to during their trade deadline report cards. Sometimes you can’t win the swaps, and to grade us based on what we needed and not what was possible is not really fair. Sure San Antonio made some late season signings that really helped them out (Diaw comes to mind), but they lucked out more than anything.

    There is no transparency or democracy in the NBA (except for the Stern veto), and I genuinely think that Mitch gave it his all to get us a contending team. And when that didn’t work, he did his best to improve our roster. I think that Mitch’s best efforts are worthwhile, and better than the best efforts of whoever’s been piloting the Clips (sorry Baylor) for the previous decades, and better than the GMs of most team in the NBA.

  93. 88,

    Dom, I agree to what you said especially the last few sentences where you addressed the system that may keep us winning.

    Bill Plaschke of LaTimes gives another season pass for Mbrown although if he doesn’t succeed in moving this team advancing to WCF, then it would be a stretch of going on with a system that does not work with the Lakers. If the Buss Family would like to extend the tenure of the present Coach, give him some inputs to work on. This happens in any business where the Board of Directors reviews the CEO performance. I think Mbrown’s performance is just average, he’s has a 86M budget on players and another billion worth of business depends on his coaching. If he is not a proven winner, don’t prolong that agony for more than two years.

    Mike Bresnahan of LAT had some ideas of 5 scenarios for the Lakers. See if you like it. I prefer only #2.

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/basketball/nba/lakers/la-sp-lakers-20120525,0,3933401.story

  94. Tomorrow’s lottery will tell a lot. We are rooting against the Nets in that scenario. The likelyhood of Howard to LA will rise significantly if Nets pick isn’t high.

    Sessions has until Friday to decide on his player option.

    Can a team buyout a player with 2 years left on his deal?

  95. Robert,
    Haha. But see I dont think there is a debate. Blake is better than Fisher. But yes… Blake is awful. The thing is I long felt he was the fourth best PG on the Lakers behind Sessions, Morris and GLock. But of course he was being paid the most so he needed his PT ;)

  96. And while we are at it. A team needs to e crazy to trade for Howard fresh off back surgery. I don’t think people know how awful that injury is. It’s career altering… Or usually is. No NBA team will trade for Dwight until they see him play in the NBA again.

  97. Still strikes me as odd Kobe didn’t have an exit interview. That you hear Mitch’s name mentioned for multiple GM jobs. He has a meeting with Kobe and Brown scheduled. After the fact you realize last 3 trades (would be 4 with failed deal) have been to cut payroll. It’s an uneasy feeling in Lakerland a feeling something big is going to happen. It really sucks to be in such a huge transition period. Only 2 main holdovers from the early 2000s that Mitch, Kobe and Vitti.

  98. Aaron,

    You are right about Howard’s back. Back problems are usually chronic. I am not sure how bad Howard’s back is. But you have to wonder if a guy who relies so much on athleticsm (particularly jumping up and down) will even be the same player after back surgery. Who knows? At this point Howard’s back may be just as big a ticking bomb as Bynum’s knees.

  99. Kareem, wasn’t one of the arguments for MB was a different voice. That the talented core had grown deaf to Phil. MB wasnt brought in the duplicate what Phil did. He was brought in the improve and frankly did not. I am agreeing that the strangeness of the season may have in part contributed to this but he had similar results with LeBron in Cleveland. Stronger regular season than expected then failure in the playoff’s. If this repeats itself again, i think it will speak a lot to how effective a playoff coach he is. We are the Lakers we dont care if we are the number one seed, we want to be the final one standing. That is our only standard. Lol i noted the our and we

  100. As far as the Fisher/Blake debate in my mind there shouldnt be one. Fish’s role in OKC is vastly different than the one he played for the Lakers. He is playing SG not PG. OKC is not relying on him defensively or offensively he is there to spell Westbrook and Harden, his productivity is a luxury,a luxury the Lakers couldnt afford. We needed production, first team production out of Fish and he couldnt produce consistently. Sure once in a while he would deliver something big but day in day out he was inconsistent and a liability on the defensive end. Blake is a back up PG which is why Mtich was trying to trade for CP3 and ended up trading for Sessions. Its comparing apples and alfalfa. Neither is the staple we need(ed) at point guard.

  101. Looking at the Kupchak/Jim Buss track record, you have to be a little bit worried when you look at their free agent signings. Not that all of them were bad, but almost all of them were overpaid (Ron, Blake) and not that Kobe, Bynum and Gasol don’t deserve max money, but you can’t give 3 guys close to $65 mill combined and expect to have any roster flexibility.

    But one thing I have to feel good about is the fact that those guys sure can swing a trade. Despite what the talking heads say, we have the pieces to rebuild around Kobe one more time and build for the post-Kobe era. They key will be getting some nice draft picks (and keeping them) and keeping future free agent money in control (no more $34mill role players)

  102. If you were to rank the current roster based on who is showing improvement, we are in deep trouble down the road. The only potential rising star on our horizon is Drew. This team is only going to get older and slower. Between cap issues and a lack of youthful talent, this team is in trouble. If we take fantasy and emotion out of the equation, the Lakers do not have the moveable parts or the financial flexibility to fix this immediately. Can Kobe extend and restructure to provide cap relief? Is he willing to sign an extension and defer some of his mammoth cap hit out a few years, potentially less productive years to help improve the roster. Is it that important to him to be the highest paid player in the league? I have read and digested all of the posts since our playoff exit and its coming clear that, we need not only youthful athletic players, but youthful contracts which we have none of. With the lottery upon us, Is there exceptional young talent out there that can be had, or a move we can make that would interest GM’s.

  103. oh, and it’s not like there aren’t some nice veteran names on the free agent market this year who could help fill some holes if we make a big trade and need midlevel support (Garnett, Allen, Diaw, Dragic, Hawes, Farmar, Landry, Nash)

  104. I’d like to see the lakers go after Antawn Jamison…guy can still ball and can be signed for cheap.

  105. Agreed on Howard. A disc surgery is no joke. You’d be foolish to trade away Bynum in the offseason without watching Howard carefully post-surgery.

  106. Dom: Two comments in your post brought 3 second smiles to my face which were quickly replaced with frowns.

    1) “we are in deep trouble down the road”: Welcome to our fraternity my friend! And the longer we wait to do something about it – the harder it will be. KB can’t restructure in any way where it will help us in 13 or 14. so we are stuck with a near $30 number for him for both of those years. There is a price for greatness and it is steep.
    2) “Is there exceptional young talent out there?” Answer = yes there is, however you must actually have draft picks to get it : ) This is why we must decide either to go all out for the title or re-build. Trading picks to finish “6th” is starting a spiral from which it is tough to recover.

  107. Kareem: Yes – we are frequently in complete agreement – or are you just saying that because I have your guy Kareem still ranked in front of my guy KB on the all time list? : )

    Now with regard to the FO:
    Veto – agreed it was an incredible deal and we got the shaft.
    Mitch’s effort: No doubt about that – he tried very hard -I think even harder than we know – as I believe that other GM’s were cruising around in Formula 1 cars as the TD approached – Mitch was slogging around in a Buss.
    Mitch’s Track Record: It is pretty good – although the major title winning player(s) go on Jerry West’s ledger.

    As you know – most of my wrath goes towards the owner’s son (a title which encapsulates his qualifications for the job). He is not as savvy as his father and he is more active in the day to day, than his father ever was. Not a good combo.

    So we agree on even more than you thought : ) It seems only Jimbo comes between us. Perhaps we could ask Ken to break this tie ? : )

  108. Kind of new blood in the Lakers front office, possibly. Well, more like rearranging old blood:

    http://espn.go.com/los-angeles/nba/story/_/id/7984861/sources-los-angeles-lakers-talks-promote-staffer-glenn-carraro-assistant-gm

  109. An undersized center with possible long term back problems is really where you want the Lakers’ future to hinge? Howard’s game is athleticism and now after back surgery he might spend half the game in Rick Mahorn/Larry Johnson position on the sidelines.

  110. Why does Mitch need an assistant I thought he did a great job with what he had with what he was asked to do, shed salary. Gives more credence to the reports of Mitch’s uncertainty.

  111. And the longer we wait to do something about it – the harder it will be.

    Not necessarily. With what you want to do, (get the next superstar) draft picks won’t mean much, unless it’s one of the top 2 or 3 in the right draft. With the Robert Plan, better to hold the assets until all the superstars have signed long-term.

    Also, feel free to email specific ideas.