Fast Break Thoughts: The NBA Finals

Darius Soriano —  June 12, 2012

It’s always a bitter feeling when the Finals roll around and the Lakers aren’t participating – especially when they’re one of the handful of teams with legitimate title aspirations. But, for the second season in a row, this is where we sit. However, as a basketball fan, this Finals match up is one that intrigues me to no end. Both teams offer elite star players in their primes, are well coached, and the results will impact the league for years to come. If the Heat win, they’ll have achieved what they were formed to do and can (potentially) build on this success for future seasons. If the Thunder win, they’ll be so young that it could easily tip the balance of power in their direction for the next several years (especially if their ownership is willing to go deep into the tax to keep the team together).

From the beginning of the season this is the match up many predicted and now we have it. As a Laker fan this may upset me but as someone that loves the game I can’t help but be excited. Here are a few of my thoughts heading into the highly anticipated first game…

  • The LeBron vs. Durant match up will be the headline grabber but I think one of the most important tactical match ups will be Bosh vs. Ibaka. Bosh’s ability to spread the floor and play in space will challenge Ibaka’s desire to guard the rim and play close to the paint. If Serge can’t guard the rim effectively, LeBron and Wade will have a much easier time finishing off drives.  And if Serge decides to leave Bosh to still help at the basket he’ll be put in the difficult position of having to challenge without fouling while also leaving one of the premier jump shooting big men alone. If Bosh is able to hit his jumper like he did in game 7 vs. the Celtics, it will be interesting to see how the Thunder counter that match up over the course of the series.
  • The other match up that interests me is Wade vs. Harden. Wade hasn’t looked himself these playoffs and with reports about him getting his knee drained against the Pacers, it would not surprise me if he’s banged up. But he’ll need to be at, or close to, his best this series if the Heat are to win, especially when matched up with Harden. Wade will need to make Harden work hard on both sides of the floor and wear him down by running him off picks and attacking him in isolation from both the wing and the post. When the Thunder played the Lakers (and early in the Spurs series) Harden seemed to tire on offense when he had to guard Kobe on the other end (and Ginobili when he was coming off the bench). If Harden struggles, the Thunder become more beatable as he’s the bridge between Westbrook’s all out attack game and Durant’s more patient approach. Harden will need to perform well on both ends but that’s a tall task if it’s Wade he must go at consistently.
  • It will be interesting to see how much Perkins and Joel Anthony play in this series. My hunch is that they’ll be matched up a lot with each other but when Perkins sits, Anthony won’t play at all. I don’t think the Heat can afford to play him on a jump shooting big like Ibaka or Collison. Perkins, on the other hand, will likely play more than he should – especially when the Heat go small. I think his foot speed issues will be exploited when James plays PF and Bosh plays C. Whether he can make up for that on the glass and in the halfcourt by getting his teammates open in OKC’s screen game remains to be seen, but I’d be weary of playing Perkins too much when there’s an abundance of speed on the floor for Miami.
  • Which role players will step up? Will Ibaka have one of those games where he’s nearly perfect on his mid-range J? Will Battier or Mike Miller have a game where they get hot from behind the arc? Can Haslem still make a difference even though he looks like he’s not right physically? Can Fisher summon another hero moment and twist another dagger into an opponent? I’ve seen too many big games turn on a performance from a role player to not expect one or more of these things to happen over the next couple of weeks. The stars may headline, but at least one time a supporting cast member will steal the show.
  • Out of all the players in this series, Russell Westbrook may be the true difference maker. Every other star player has a counterpart at his position that is nearly just as key except for Westbrook. If he torches Chalmers or finds his groove shooting his mid-range jumper, the Heat will need to start to trap him and shade their defense his way. This will open up opportunities for other Thunder players on every possession. By the end of the Spurs series Westbrook was making the D pay by making smart passes when they overcommitted to him. If Miami is forced to do the same, they may be in trouble.
  • Ultimately, every time I try to pick a winner to this series I can’t really decide. Neither the Heat nor the Thunder have faced a team like the one they will tonight. OKC hasn’t seen a team with Miami’s defensive ability and athletes to match their own. And the Heat haven’t faced a team with as explosive an offense nor the depth and size of the Thunder. Both will be in for a bit of a shock tonight and will need to adjust accordingly. Predicting this series is as much about who navigates that change best and at this point, it’s toss up. If I had a gun to my head I’d choose Miami to win in 6 games but I’m about as confident in that pick as I am in winning the lottery.

However this series goes, we’ll be in for some great basketball. And while not having the Lakers still playing is disappointing, I can’t say this match up has me at all upset. These two teams have been on a collision course all season and to see it actually happen has me excited.

Darius Soriano

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to Fast Break Thoughts: The NBA Finals

  1. Great points Darius,

    The keys to this series will be how Ibaka plays defense, the ability for Harden to create offense at the end of games, Russell deferring to get everyone good looks, and boxing out.

    I would not like Ibaka on Bosh because I’d rather Ibaka play the Kevin Garnett role on defense. Success will come if he can play a player with no jump shot like Joel Anthony. Then he can have his foot in the paint for the entire year and contest every Lebron drive to the hoop. If you stop Chalmers or Lebron’s drives you stop the Heat.

    I would also be interested on D-Wade’s effectiveness on Harden. There is no doubt that Wade is mortal with his knee injury so it’ll be interesting to see the type of defense he’ll be able to display.

    If Westbrook penetrates and creates easy opportunities for Ibaka and Durant then the Thunder will easily take down the Heat.

    Finally, Boston and Miami were so close in the last series. Each team put their bodies on the line and the difference in the game were small fundamentals. Rondo kept going for the home run plays (one handed tip to Pietrus in the corner), but what killed Boston was the lack of Rondo boxing out D-Wade. Countless times in the 4th quarter of the last series D-Wade came flying into the lane to tip the ball out and gain a backbreaking extra possession. If the Thunder box out correctly I can see its defense stifling the Heat.

    These are the keys and I’m sticking to em.

    The final key would be to limit D-Fish’s minutes to about 15. Anymore and I see the Thunder struggling with his lack of athleticism.

    Get ready for some amazing basketball and fastbreaks that you’ll miss if you blink your eye.



  2. Just a thought, and it may be that he doesn’t have the foot speed for it, but given how little a threat ANY other big man on the Heat is to score, why not put Perkins (your best post on-ball defender) on Bosh and leave Ibaka to his usual role of help side defender/shot blocker.


  3. OKC has the deeper roster and more complete team. All it comes down to is pressure. Will Okc be able to handle the pressure of being in the Finals? We will get a good sense of that tonight.


  4. It amazes me that so many talking heads think OKC is just supposed to be happy being there. The narrative on these Finals is all LeBron. What does it mean to his legacy if wins? What does it mean to his legacy if he loses? What will he do in the clutch? Who will step up and help LeBron?

    OKC just beat Dallas, LA, and San Antonio (arguably the best team in the league this year). They aren’t just going to roll over for LeBron’s coronation. With proud vets like Fisher and Perkins combined with young guns like Westbrook and Harden all topped off with a silent killer in Durant I expect OKC win it all.


  5. TRogers: Miami beat much tougher defensive teams. They were down in 2 series and came back to win. Okc hasn’t been down in a series all playoffs. Kobe, Fish and Phil couldn’t make Lamar and Pau play better in 08 finals. They had to learn through experience.

    Ron was able to body Durant and deny him the ball. LeBron being just as strong and quicker may present problems for Durant.

    It’s tough to pick when both teams are so good. You always lean to the team with homecourt. If Miami gets ahead in the series they’ll take it.


  6. I would love to have Derek win a sixth ring as much as I would hate LBJ to win his first. Go Zombie Sonics.

    Pressure should not be a factor against OKC – they’ve proven they have more than enough confidence to win any time, anywhere, under any circumstance. But the Heat do have a bit of an upper hand.. the best player in the series plays for their team, and their Big 3 has an actual big in it. If Bosh is healthy, I’m afraid OKC will lose in 7.


  7. Kevin,

    OKC was down 0-2 to the Spurs. To come back and win four straight games was impressive. I agree with most of your points. At the same time Miami has not faced a young team with the combination of skill and athleticism like OKC. Boston lacked the depth and speed of OKC. Indiana lacked the overall talent. And New York was a joke and wouldn’t have even made the playoffs in the West.

    Neither team is miles ahead of the other. But with home court advantage and two clutch shooters (KD and Fisher) I see OKC having the edge. Still I could be wrong. That is why they play the games.


  8. Kevin, OKC was down O-2 against the Spurs, then won 4 in a row.


  9. Who cares, I’m NOT watching anyway!!


  10. TRogers, ryan: LOL. What a brain fart. Was trying to elaborate on my pressure point. “down” meaning elimination game. Hope my credibility is still intact.


  11. I think Miami will win, because they had enough exprience, and Lebron have to play like scoring leader of Miami, if they go back counting on D-Wade, they will loose. OKC had good shooters, but in NBA Finals, we often saw teams couldn’t shoot the ball well when needed. If OKC continue to shoot the ball well then OKC has a good chance. The format 2-3-2 is not good for young team on the road , so OKC have to win at home.


  12. OKC will win the series in 6. All of the pressure is on the Miami Heat not OKC. OKC plays best when they are loose with nothing to loose. Look for unexpected production from Dequean Cook and Sefolosha to seal the series.

    Too young, too confident=OKC win!


  13. I’m going to pick Thunder in 5.


  14. In unrelated news, Coach Messina is leaving the Lakers. I’m sad to see him leave as I don’t think with the lockout and lack of training camp we ever got to see him implement an offense. This also leads me to speculate that Pau may be on his way out because I think Messina was here to teach a brand of basketball in which a Kobe/Pau centric team could thrive. I don’t think a Bynum centric team is suitable for Messina’s system.


  15. Parrothead,

    I hate to hear that. I was really excited to see him come aboard. I wanted to see him inject some real creativity and motion into the Lakers offense. Thinking about LA’s offense, if the Lakers can’t get the PG needed to run pick and rolls like the rest of the league then they need to bring back elements of the Triangle.


  16. I hope that we see OKC get a little exotic with their defenses. Doc Rivers messed up a little when he allowed Lebron to drive the lanes by having Bass play up on him. I think you have to make Lebron a jump-shooter.

    Do we see Durant guard D-wade a bit? I think he could shut him down if he plays off him a bit and forces him to shoot jumpshots over his 7 foot wingspan. I like OKC in this series unless Lebron just goes nuclear. (think 38-15-10 every night.)

    I want Fish to hit some big shots and earn ring #6.


  17. I have long wanted to bet the Heat to win the championship. But the odds were too out of wack. But then by the grace if god the Heat fell behind 3-2 to the Celtics. So I got my chance. 250 got me 700 if the Heat won the championship. I made the bet (with different numbers) and now I’m sitting pretty. LeBron will be the best player on the court and either Perkins or Fisher will be the worst player on the court. If you’re going to pick a team… And you like making money… Go with the Heat.

    Paul Peirce like many good players put up big numbers on bad teams. Then all of the sudden they played with other good players and bam… Now they are winners. Haha. Funny how that works. Lee isn’t an all star. But he is a good player who would help great teams if he was on them. He would be a great role player because as you said… He isn’t good enough to make players around him better… But he is good enough to be made better by guys like Bynum and Kobe. There is no doubt.


  18. David Lee is one of the more egregiously overpaid players in the league. He is a decent role player who is receiving second banana money. No thanks.


  19. Aaron: Pierce was great at something. He could score with the best of them. Lee isn’t elite in any facet of the game. He’s a undersized poor man’s Pau. As a 4th option he would be solid.

    Perkins can post up his man in this series. I expect Okc to dump the ball to him a few times. He’ll be a liability on the floor when Bosh plays Center though. I expect Collison to play heavy minutes.

    I’d put the ball in Harden’s hands. Decision making will be key late can’t bail Miami out with Westbrook one/two dribble pull ups.

    All the hoopla about Boston taking Wade out the game. Many times I saw him not being able to get around his man. Sefolosha gave Kobe fits he should hold Wade to low scoring. I see no way Miami wins if Wade shoots under 50% unless Bosh obliterates Ibakawhich I don’t see happening. OKc takes game 1.


  20. Who’s on the list of the 2nd and 3rd tiered players? Also, are they obtainable under the right circumstances, i.e., asset or financially viable for the Lakers?


  21. I am so glad that I can enjoy the Finals now that the C’s are out. I will root for OKC but not with the same tenacity as I rooted for the Heat in the 1st round.

    If OKC wins the series, the we will have a 5 year streak of winning the title or losing to the team that did (credit KenOak).


  22. Zombie Sonics vs the Ugh, hell sandwich. Let there be a sweep so that this nightmare season can reach full terminus. OKC needs to win or I won’t be able to stomach the Olympic telecasts. OKC in 5.


  23. Okc in 6. Harden MVP.


  24. fish MVP!


  25. Just hoping for a good series. After the ridiculous Heat hype last year died down with their defeat , I don’t hold any grudge against LeBron. Love Durant’s game and attitude, and it’s not his fault for what happened in Seattle.

    Mainly the Cs are out and the Kings won. I guess I’m for the Thunder in “the West is Best,” but think with a healthy Bosh, the Heat will win.


  26. Kevin_
    I don’t think that there is anyway that they don’t give the MVP to Durant if OKC wins. The media/NBA wants him to be the next Megastar. I like OKC in 6.


  27. Okc played tight that quarter. Miami has to be dissapointed not being up double digits.


  28. Kevin,
    Haha… Miami would love if OKC tried to post up Perkins.


  29. Go fish! Laker for life


  30. Aaron: you’re right. We saw that in the 1st quarter he couldn’t hang onto the ball.


  31. Haha called the DFish PUJIT before it happened


  32. Every minute on the court and basket made makes Jim Buss look like the fool he is.

    Nice shooting Fish.

    Nice give away Jim. Lose a draft and get a guy in Hill who played 15 games as a free agent.

    Dosen’t get much dumber then that.


  33. actually, there are lots of ‘egregiously overpaid players in the league’ – most of them not worthy of max contracts and cannot carry their team to whatever they are aiming to go. owners now pay ridiculous $.

    on the otherhand, i can see Heat winning their first title this year. if they cannot, then there’s wrong with their lineup. and anything can happen after that.


  34. Just another thought. Miami get Shawn B. We get Kapono and Murphy.

    Again the Jim Bust years are here,


  35. “makes Jim Buss look like the fool he is.”

    Lmao .. Gotta Love Ko. If Individuals Were Paid Based On Consistency, He Would Be A Billionaire.


  36. Hey let me vent watching the hated Heat and the team that blew Lakers away.

    What the heck am I suppose to be for?

    A hurricane blowing the roof off?


  37. You know how Wade is getting old. When a pump fake becomes a primary move.


  38. Nice give away Jim.

    If the Lakers had Durant, Westbrook, and Harden, Fisher would have been fine.


  39. KD guarding Wade some and Sefolosha on Lebron. Make these guys shoot jumpshots and OKC wins. By the way…how about that Fish!

    Lookin’ good.


  40. This was Miami’s chance. You can’t expect Battier to score 17 again. You darn sure won’t see Harden score 5 points. Okc is a great team.


  41. @36 – “If the Lakers had Durant, Westbrook, and Harden, Fisher would have been fine.”

    I’m printing this as I type. Genius.


  42. Wow when the Thunder move the ball & push in transition, they remind me of Showtime and are as much fun to watch.

    If Westbrook and Durant continue to dish out assists while keeping turnovers at a minimum (scoring for these two is a given), I may need to reassess this series. Still picking the Heat to win and I’ll be glad to eat crow like I did last year’s Finals.


  43. Okc 9-0 at home. Miami 4-5 on road. Expect more of the same game 2.


  44. Does anybody think that if it had been Blake instead of DF, that there is any chance that OKC would have picked him up?

    Ko expresses himself a little differently, but he and I have the exact same opinion of Jimbo.

    He has shown no loyalty to Lakers such as DF and Brian Shaw, he has ripped through loyal front office staff, he had no patience with LO, he hired a coach who did not match our personnel, he did not complete any significant acquisitions, he traded away our picks, he has aliented his sister and PJ, he is disliked amongst his peers, and he can’t dress. Other than that he is fine.


  45. Speaking of people who can’t dress, Russell Westbrook is an absolute clown. Where’s Shredder when you need him?


  46. Happy and pulling for Fish to do well. Just glad he didn’t sign with the Heat. Fish fits well with OKC. He will ensure they stay focused. Remember he’s not only a 5-time NBA Champion he’s also a 2-time NBA Finals loser. Can’t put a price tag on mentorship.


  47. that there is any chance that OKC would have picked him up?

    Yes. Eric Maynor went down and they were using Reggie Jackson, Royal Ivey, and Daequan Cook. Cook is not awful but is a pure 2, but Ivey is even worse than Fisher, and Blake. Jackson is a rookie and was playing like one.

    I certainly do think that Presti and Brooks wanted Fisher in part to mentor Westbrook, but yes, IMO they would have considered Blake. Actually brought him in? No one knows.

    Again, Fisher is basically a short third-string 2 with some leadership skills. I suggested several times that Fisher be made Kobe’s backup. On the team he is on now, with three elite creators, a great shot blocking 4, and several young players, playing 15 mpg, he can help. As the starting 1 on a team that is woefully short on athleticism and three-point shooting, he was a liability and a waste of money. If they keep Hill, the deal was fine. If they don’t, they should have just cut Fisher and kept the pick.


  48. Wade is getting a pass this playoffs. I don’t know how analysts continue to say he’s a top 5 player when he’s done nothing except get on 3 hot streaks. What exactly has Wade done since 2006 finals?

    LeBron is holding up his end of the bargain. Wade is not getting bailed out by the refs so his game is ineffective. Really hope he stops being mentoined in the same breath as Kobe and MJ.


  49. My problem with Fisher move is the following.

    1-Rumered that Mitch felt he would be a distraction on 2nd team. Yet that’s what he now is with them.
    2-Had to know he would go to OKC and be a spy for brooks. He out coached Brown for sure.
    3-Got Hill for 15 games now he is free agent. Same as he would have been.

    Lakers get zero in return except more money in
    family pocket at the cost of us fans. Is that smart?


  50. The fact of the matter is, Fish or no Fish, we wouldn’t have beaten the Thunder this season, period.

    I do think that had we kept Fisher and Lamar, we would not have heard Kobe blasting Pau in public and things of that nature, but it still wouldn’t have gotten us very far.

    In a sense, this season was gone with us signing Brown combined with the lockout, made worse with the CP3 deal that fell through, and just went beyond repair when we did damage control by releasing Lamar and trading away Fisher.

    Looking back, I think everyone but Kobe was resigned to the fact that this was a lost season, Bynum especially. Oh well.


  51. First of all there seems to be a lot of guys here that was not paying attention to what was going down at the trade deadline. Trying to blame the FO for letting Fish go etc.

    We were trying to win another ring. We tried to trade Blake to Portland in a 3 way with the T-Wolves and that fell through. Then with 7 minutes left the T-Wolves pulled out of a trade with Fish going to the T-Wolves for Beasley. That was the trade we wanted and one I would have loved. So our back up front line was sucking big time so they pulled the trade for Hill. Who was great after he came back from his injury. The trade was not made for the future. It was made for the playoff run and I applaud the front office for trying. Since we are not allowed to post rumors I suggest you google Beasley Lakers trade, where you will see everything still may work out like it was suppose to.


  52. Kevin,

    I agree wholeheartedly about Wade. He has been mostly ineffective this playoff run. Of the big three he is the weak link. He seems to be battling some kind of leg or foot injury. If he can’t be his “old” self then Miami is in trouble. OKC is already deeper. Having Wade at half speed would be too much to overcome.

    With that said, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go off in the next game. The problem is he can only do it every so often now. He used to go off every night.


  53. rr just hit nail on head with a steroidic forearm


  54. Snoopy @ 44,

    Well played, sir.


  55. Warren Wee Lim June 13, 2012 at 2:24 am

    KO, the difference between the 2 of us is that I too want the Busses to make money. Unlike you, whom I get the feeling, that you feel entitled he should spend for your pleasure.

    I understand the virtue of fanhood. But Laker fans are spoiled. We expect the championship. Anything less is a freakin’ disservice.

    You have to understand that the Laker Payroll needs to be done right (just as other teams languish in lottery for 5000 years) before the Lakers can be right once more. Be thankful you got a team that can still make it to mid-May when all others book their vacations April 1st.


  56. Warren Wee Lim June 13, 2012 at 2:28 am

    Continuing the train of thought, that doesn’t mean I am satisfied with the results. Not Yet. But getting Sessions and Hill on a supposed rebuild year was an A+ in my eyes. These 2 are no superstars, but they are very good starts.

    I wish to remind each Laker fan that Mitch Kupchak traded 2 late 1st round picks, Luke Walton, Derek Fisher and they became Ramon Sessions and Jordan Hill. All this WHILE saving lots of money. All this while still being in the 2nd round with a real chance to beat OKC (which we blew, and who are we kidding we’d still eventually lose).

    I just don’t want us to sound ingrates with the way we complain about Jim Buss and what Mitch Kupchak has done. Perhaps my accountancy degree has made me see the light more than most have. But considering everything, the Lakers still came out swinging at the trade deadline.


  57. Renato Afonso June 13, 2012 at 3:30 am

    In an unrelated subplot, OKC has a former Celtic who (by the look on his face) never comitted a foul in his life nor a moving screen. I just hate him… And being a former Celtic, dare I say, I actually prefer the Nazgul to win it all than seeing Perkins lifting a trophy and being praised for whacking people around.

    Go Heat. (I’ll now leave to light myself on fire)


  58. Agreed on Wade’s play so far. One thing about Wade and his injuries – and this is a point I’ve made when comparing Nadal to Federer – analysts and Heat fans often say Wade is as good as / better than Kobe, and then add the tiny caveat when healthy.

    But Wade’s very style of play (similar to Rose) creates that high risk of injury. It’s the downside to his dribble-drive based game, and it is very much a part of his game. I tire of Heat fans and ESPN analysts who try to separate the injuries from his style of play. Wade in his prime changed directions faster than any NBA player I’ve ever seen, and he was a terror in the open court and off PnRs. But he hasn’t evolved enough of an outside, post-up, or off-the-ball game to compensate for a lack of explosiveness.

    Kobe has done 2 things: 1) evolve his game to minimize injury risk and 2) learn to play around his injuries while minimizing their impact on his game. Very few players can fracture their index finger (on their shooting hand) and learn how to shoot using their middle finger (although if anyone was made to shoot with their middle fingers, it’s Kobe).

    It’s the same point I make when Celtics fans complain about 2009 and KG’s injury. You traded for an old player with a lot of miles on his legs. Was a major injury that unreasonable? (vs. something like Rondo’s injury, which was definitely a freak accident). To me, Wade’s current and past injuries are a direct result of the style of game he chose to play, and you cannot ignore his injuries when discussing his greatness – especially in comparison to Kobe’s longevity.


  59. The big mistake Lakers FO made is that letting Odom go while keeping Gasol. When you trade for CP3, one Gasol is enough, Odom making less money than Gasol, and who will play power forward if both Gasol and Odom gone ? Lakers got Session deal done but they want to keep in secret to the last day of the trading dead line because they want to trade Fisher first. The more i think of Lakers FO moves, i am dissapointed.

    Kobe got Phil, and Tex Winter, LeBron got Mike Brown and Spoelstra, both were video coordinator. Miami coach made mistake on game 5 against Boston by not using Bosh, and in this series if he can’t figure it out to play Bosh, the Heat will loose again. The Miami Heat offense is slow and predictable.


  60. Fish looking decent in limited role off the bench. I for one would not have any problem with him getting a 6th ring…as a matter of fact I’d be happy for him. He’d earn it. Not like a guy like Eddy Curry of the Heat who’s not even playing.

    Watching the young Thunder & Heat play in the Finals while realizing the Bulls & Grizz best seasons are still ahead of them makes you wonder what our beloved Lakers front office mindset will be?

    Do they continue to surround Kobe with vets over the next two years or start rebuilding asap?


  61. Giving up 1st round picks for salary relief is dumb. That’s essentially what happened.

    Beasley was on an expiring as well he was going to be a free agent. Lakers were looking ahead to the future. Harsh 2014 luxury tax penalties more so than Sessions and Hill being a part of it.


  62. In an alternate universe, in which the Lakers had hired Shaw, kept Odom and Fisher, and kept the Triangle, I think the team would have…lost in the 2nd round or maybe the 1st round, and everyone would be saying how stale everything is,how old and slow the team is how the team is behind the times, and how the team needs major changes. IOW, what people are mostly saying now. And one more time: Buss DID make the bold move he needed to make, but Stern nixed it.

    Where I do think Buss can and should be criticized is the PR/org stuff: Lester, the training staff, the scouts, Jerry West, Magic Johnson, Kareem. That is not all on Buss, and we can’t know things going on behind the scenes. But the Lakers were not a bad organizations that needed a housecleaning, and Jim Buss did not ascend to the top of it after an exhaustive executive search. IMO these things, taken together, are warning signs for the org’s long-term future.


  63. I love our Lakers and it kills me that we are not able to compete for championships. I, like many of you have thought long and guard about what the team needs to do in order to be serious challengers for the crown.

    I look at OKC and barring injury I believe we are seeing a team that has a lengthy run in them. And I mean a run that could last the balance of the decade. They are young, long and aggressive. They maximize the new look of the league:
    1. they have a young super athletic PG,
    2. they do not possess a traditional low post center,
    3. their PF is not tied to the low block and
    4. their wings are extremely athletic, can handle the ball and can play multiple positions (Durant can play PF and Thesalossa gave Lebron fits in the 4th Quarter last night).

    It dawned on me that the best possible upgrades we all could hope for this summer (acquiring DWill and or DHoward) will not be enough to compete with the Thunder. If OKC were in the other division then there may be hope but even with the above additions I believe we will fall short.

    My reasoning is this, we have been spoiled by how productive Kobe has been in his 30’s. I’m not sure that DWill and Dhoward will be able to duplicate that. This is important because those two players will be in their 30’s in 2 or 3 years. Look at Dwade, the miles have already begun to show on him and he just turned 30. In 3 years OKC’s core will still be well under 30 and will still be running us into the floor.

    If the Lakers want to compete they must offer their established stars and either get into this draft or trade for young studs from the past 3 drafts (young, athletic and long). Obviously, we begin to realize the obstacles we face: why would teams trade their young stars? How do we marry the fact that we have to get younger and more athletic with Kobe who wants to win now?

    The reality is that the Lakers best hope may be to roll the dice and keep the core together while making peripheral moves. This is not optimal but it enables the team to keep the cash flow alive (by filling Staples Center) while allowing salaries to drop off the ledger in two years. The only hope may be to fall into a true, necessary and painful rebuilding phase.


  64. rr has been on fire with his last couple posts. Wow. Nail on head again. I don’t just critique commentors on here… I also offer praise after all. Kevin on the other hand… Haha… Ummm… Sessions was by far the Lakers best PG and Hill was by far the Lakers best big man off the bench… And they are both behind Bynum the teams youngest rotattion players. Salary dumps? What games do you watch? Now if the Lakers don’t resign them… Then they would be salary dumps. The Lakers can’t sign FA’s, so they have to trade for them.


  65. Mattal –

    Thanks for the insightful perspective. When the Lakers lost to OKC, I was among those who thought we weren’t as close to beating them as some of the games would indicate.

    We didn’t look comfortable on offense all year. Far too often our sets resulted in Kobe going solo. Now was this in response to a power struggle with MB or because the offense was really a mess I don’t know.

    I agree that the ideal solution is to conduct a makeover. Our PG and SF play are far below the level seen as being critical to championship contenders. Miami does not have a great PG, but Dwade and Lebron provide enough playmaking ability from the wings to make up for it. OKC is off the charts in these categories and that’s why they are on the verge of greatness.

    You make a good point that we have to rebuild with the mindset that OKC is going to be an obstacle for the next 5 to 7 years. If that is the reality then Dwill and Dhoward are not the solution. The next Dwill and Dhoward is what we need.

    I would target a young PG as the key piece to rebuilding the Lakers. Someone like John Wall who has all the tools to be a great player on both ends of the floor would be a start. Yikes, good luck finding him.

    JBuss and Mitch have their work cut out for them.


  66. Snoopy,
    Scientists don’t think it’s his style of play. Apparently Wade doesmt run with the proper form… And Israelie sports doctors said years ago he would have this problem as he runs on his heels instead of on the palms of his feet. This creates more pounding on his ankles, knees, hips, and lower back. It adds up. Those same doctors were saying how LeBron runs perfectly and are now saying the same thing about Andrew Bynum.


  67. Aaron: If Lakers plan on resigning Sessions we are in serious trouble. He is a back up PG has been his whole career. Lakers traded two valuable 1st rounders and were one game better than last year.

    Why would you trade over 200 games of playoff experience, 5 rings & 1st rounder for a backup PG?

    Making it to the Finals 4 consecutive years happened once in the history of the NBA. The 2011 playoffs you can excuse being the odds are so largely favored in not making the Finals. Boston, this year, on the other hand made minimal changes and were one game from the Finals.


  68. Aaron: I was watching the games seeing Sessions with the worst defense on the Lakers being a total liability on defense. In those same games aiming for the rim he missed completely and hit the logo on the side of the backboard.

    Lakers traded two 1st rounders for 2 backup players and were one game better than last year. Trade deadline moves accomplished nothing. I’m sure we’ll use next year’s picks to get a Joe Smith type player so no worries.


  69. Mattal: Thank goodness someone lse agrees with me that banking the future on DWIll and DHoward is not the solution. Even if we could get them we may not be able to get past OKC.

    Terri: Yikes is right. We are in a pickle as our weaknesses seem to be the where other contenders are the strongest.


  70. Snoopy 2006-…if anyone was made to shoot with their middle fingers, it’s Kobe.

    LOL! We won’t ever have another player like Kobe on the Lakers, at least not in the next two decades. He plays through injuries and reinvents his game when a part of his body fails him on the court, he plays even when he could sit back and receive a check from the Lakers. We are witnessing a unique, gifted, goal-oriented player that may never again be encompassed in one body as a player for the Los Angeles Lakers.

    Re: Lebron, for all the Kobe naysayers: “I guess it’s far more difficult to beat a team with one man even one that’s in his prime and regarded as the greatest player in today’s NBA.”


  71. Let’s avoid crowning the Thunder for the next decade until we see whether or not they can hold on to both Harden and Ibaka. We don’t know the owners’ philosophy well at this point. But next year they’re over $62 million with Harden at $5.8 mil and Ibaka at only $2. Even if they find a taker for Perkins over the next couple years, they’ll be toeing the tax line once they extend those two. It’s not unreasonable to see Ibaka or Harden gone in a few years (although if I had to bet, I’d say Presti finds some way to make it work.)

    But I agree with the general sentiment. With their current team, I really don’t know if Williams and/or Howard would be enough to get us over the top. I’m not sure what kind of team is needed to beat OKC, to be honest. Who is remotely capable of matching up with Westbrook? Which wing player is willing to come off the bench and mirror Harden, or at least has the defensive chops to stick him? They’re still an iso-heavy team (relative to a team like the Spurs) but their iso weapons are so incredible that they’re difficult to stop. Not sure what the right call is here, or if there even is any.


  72. Watching OKC I’m not sure any team can put together a group more athletic. The Lakers surely need more speed on the wings. But they will never trump OKC’s speed. Maybe a team built with Kobe and Bynum or Gasol (which ever one they keep) primarily posting up would be a better counter. Put some real shooters around them and play some real defense and they may have a shot.

    When the Lakers were running teams off the floor in the 80’s teams realized they couldn’t keep up with them. The response was the Detroit Pistons. A slower, half court team the literally beat teams into submission. You couldn’t “out Showtime” the Showtime Lakers. And if Miami can’t keep up with OKC no other team will. Go the opposite direction and attack their weakness instead. This group of Lakers are halfway there.


  73. 1-Rumered that Mitch felt he would be a distraction on 2nd team. Yet that’s what he now is with them.

    Sure, because they have Russell Westbrook at the 1, and Fisher has no history with that org. In that situation, Fisher either accepts his role with OKC or they cut him. The situation here would have been very different. There is no way to know exactly how Fisher would have handled playing behind a guy like Sessions. But:

    a) That is the kind of thing that people around the team know more about than we do.
    b) I know for sure that many people in the fanbase, including people here, would have been calling for Fisher the minute Sessions started having trouble. It is POSSIBLE that Kobe would have done the same thing.


    But Laker fans are spoiled. We expect the championship. Anything less is a freakin’ disservice.

    As already covered, Lakers fans may be “spoiled” or “entitled” but ANY fanbase with a second-tier contender, no draft picks until #60, the highest-paid player in the NBA, and an 80M payroll, would be wondering what’s next and asking questions. The other problem with the “trust the FO” rhetoric is that Jerry Buss, Jerry West, Ronnie Lester and Phil Jackson have been replaced by Jim Buss, Glenn Carraro and Mike Brown. Add that to the new CBA and the veto, and we are in uncharted territory. There is no reason to assume that Jim Buss and these other guys will get this team back on top any time soon, any more than there is any reason to trash every single thing the org does under him. Yes, Kupchak is still around, but Jim Buss is active and according to all sources, approves any big moves.


  74. “Those same doctors were saying how LeBron runs perfectly and are now saying the same thing about Andrew Bynum.”


    Has anyone ever seen Bynum run??


  75. Even if they find a taker for Perkins over the next couple years

    They can amnesty him if they want to.


  76. rr:

    “Buss DID make the bold move he needed to make, but Stern nixed it” = Yes I have stated this many times, but the problem is that we compounded the nixing with what we did and did not do afterwards.

    “everyone would be saying how stale everything is, how old and slow”: Actually we are still old and slow (so I am saying that now). And while you are correct, you are pointing out how bad we failed. We needed to improve from the team that got swept by the Mavs. Subtracting LO, SB, and DF and adding RS, JH, and JM is not going forward – it is going backwards. So I can agree that keeping LO, SB, and DF and naming Brian as coach would not have made us instant contenders. IMO however, we would have been better than we ended up. However I don’t really care, because we would not have made the Finals either way. What I do care about is that we needed to move forward and we did not. And the Veto is part of it and inaction is another part.

    How long are we going to use the Veto excuse anyway? Is that still an excuse next year? If we make no major moves, pick up a couple of vagabonds with the MLE and the Vet min, and finish 4th in the West next year is that going to be acceptable?


  77. Mattal: “This is not optimal but it enables the team to keep the cash flow alive (by filling Staples Center) while allowing salaries to drop off the ledger in two years.” Yes – and this is my worst fear. We bide time for 2 years (in “6th” or worse), and then we “start” the re-build at that time. What a nightmare.
    DJ: “The more i think of Lakers FO moves, i am dissapointed” Yes- and our numbers grow daily.
    Kevin: “Trade deadline moves accomplished nothing. I’m sure we’ll use next year’s picks to get a Joe Smith type player so no worries” This is a bullseye statement followed by justified sarcasm.


  78. Snoopy & T. Rogers: exactly.

    Styles make fights. There are no perfect players nor teams. More than raw speed the Lakers needed brains and heart in the playoffs. You can’t have players playing demure or stupid when it’s time to roar nor can you have coaches claim they have limited options in players because of the self-fulfilling prophecy of no developmental or practice time.

    Crowning OKC the team of the next 7 years is similar to giving LeBron the mantle of the greatest ever during his rookie season.

    For 5 years everyone chased the Lakers model trying to find a big man so Dampier-types got 8 bizzillion dollars a year. If the Lakers are going to keep Bynum (and they should), they’ll need to compliment him rather than throw burnouts and tomato cans in the equation. And they’re going to need better vision in evaluating free agents.


  79. How long are we going to use the Veto excuse anyway? Is that still an excuse next year? If we make no major moves, pick up a couple of vagabonds with the MLE and the Vet min, and finish 4th in the West next year is that going to be acceptable?

    When you miss out on a guy like Chris Paul, that is a huge deal. Also, again, you have no specific ideas. Until you do, you are just venting.


  80. rr: My idea is Lakers try to get into the lottery. Top 8 pick as a secondary option to getting D Will.

    Seeing if a team is willing to take on Blake or Ron’s contract to reduce salary I hope is a serious option.


  81. rr: My idea is Lakers try to get into the lottery. Top 8 pick as a secondary option to getting D Will.

    That’s fine, but it would probably need to be a complicated three-way deal, which are hard to come up with and which we are not allowed to discuss here in any case.