Friday Forum

Dave Murphy —  November 23, 2012

It is the day after Thanksgiving. The day after families and friends and large meals, the day after expressions of gratitude and a tradition in this country that goes back a ways, to a long ago harvest. For NBA athletes and coaches and all the people that make up a basketball organization, it will be a return to the early stages of the long grind. A day off and back to the basketball wars. For the Los Angeles Lakers, it has been a busy time. Coach Brown was fired five games into the regular season. The following 48 hours saw Phil Jackson positioned for a grand return before being woken from his sleep by an unexpected call. They were going with Mike D’Antoni instead.

It has been two weeks to the day since Mike Brown’s dismissal. During that time the team has played seven games. They won four and lost one under interim head coach Bernie Bickerstaff. They have won one and lost one for Coach D’Antoni. The Lakers play in Memphis tonight and Dallas tomorrow night. Plus there’s other small matters, like practices in which to learn a new system and injuries to get over and tired legs to ignore. And then comes December – between the 2nd and the 28th, five home games and nine away. The team is learning and evolving on the run.

Bill Plaschke for the LA Times writes about Bernie Bickerstaff, a basketball lifer who is owed a debt of gratitude for a welcome bridge between the Mike Brown era and the arrival of Mike D’Antoni.

Kevin Ding of the OC Register reports the the Lakers are buying into Coach D’Antoni’s circle of trust.

Ramona Shelburne at ESPN Los Angeles looks at growing pains and Wednesday night’s slowtime offense.

Drew Garrison at Silver Screen and Roll takes an in-depth at the Lakers’ coaching carousel.

Mark Medina at the LA Daily News writes about the Lakers spending a day healing from aches and pains.

Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo reports that the Lakers are showing renewed interest in Raja Bell.

Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don’t Lie examines Pau Gasol’s conditioning and the impact of a busy schedule and a full life.

Ryan Ward at Lakers Nation takes a look at Dwight Howard’s free-throw odyssey.

And finally this, Eddie Sefko at SportsDayDFW writes about Chris Douglas-Roberts playing the the Texas Legends in the D-League, under Coach Eduardo Najera.


Storylines don’t always begin in the most obvious places and don’t always go according to plan. The narrative after the summer acquisition of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard was predictable, the team was sure to romp from start to finish. There were longtime observers however who took a more cautious note – the team had faced great expectations in the past and fallen, there were lingering injuries and a new system to learn and a head coach who had experienced a less than optimal first year.

The Lakers failed to win a single preseason game and went 1-4 to start the regular season. And then came the hook – exit stage left. This wasn’t to be a bombproof season by any stretch of the imagination. Of course for all intents and purposes, it has barely begun. There will be more bumps along the way and there is no timetable for Steve Nash’s return. The silver lining of course is Mike D’Antoni himself, less than a month from having a knee replaced, sitting in Phil’s old highchair and infusing the team with a newer, faster and funner way of doing things. For now, the villagers have put away their torches and are watching with an authentic air of curiosity. Something different this way comes.

Dave Murphy


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  1. The Plaschke article on Bernie is warm and thoughtful, yet at the same time it made me shudder; a worthwhile read in this Laker fan´s opinion.
    Dave, you made me LOL with the Mary Shelley-like comment! Thanks
    Let´s get one in Memphis tonight!


  2. Lot to be concerned about right now. Howard played 41 minutes on Tuesday, took four shots, and was not happy about it.

    Also, as Ko and others suggest, Kupchak seems to have assembled a bench built around plyers who can do 1 or 2 specific things, but cannot step into a breach and play at a near league-average level–no CJ Watson type players, except for maybe Hill.

    Nash still can’t run and is concerned about the nerve irritation in the leg. Here’s Kobe as quoted by Ramona Shelburne:

    “I can keep it up all year,” Bryant said. “The game’s pretty easy for me. I’m not working too hard. The shots that I made were all jumpers. Bringing the ball up, having to kind of initiate the offense and score and things like that, that’s making me work a little bit more than I will when Gatsby gets back. When Gatsby gets back, I won’t have to do that.”

    Not sure why he calls Nash “Gatsby” but I like it.


  3. I’m not a big Bill Plaschke fan, but that piece on Bernie Bickerstaff is so worth the read.

    I am just a year or two older than Bernie and my upbringing couldn’t be more different, but if you were at all involved with the sixties – and I was – then this isn’t the first time you’ve bumped up against the kind of things Bernie faced growing up. People like Bernie show us the value of giving everyone a chance to make something of themselves. The talent that gets wasted in trying to hold back people because of their race/religion/sex is simply criminal.

    Thank you Bernie, for being the person you are.


  4. @PurpleBlood – thanks back atcha. I too was impressed by Plaschke’s article. IMO, it felt akin to his signature style from some years back.


  5. The kelly dwyer article is nonsense. – not apologizing for Pau’s weak play last game etc… But the author of the article accuses pau of barely touching a ball since May. Which is crap considering pau played olympic ball at the highest level all summer. He could use some conditioning and hustle more but he’s kept his skill up.

    Bell would be a nice pickup – despite his age would play hard d, knock down 3s and would fit the system – prob is lakers would have to eat duhons or ebanks salary


  6. @siminoid – the only prob is morris has shown he isn’t able to get the lakers into their offense. He can play D – but having morris on court forces kobe to handle too much. If Nash was back, I’d say pull the trigger though.


  7. Jerke – ultimately, that’s what I’m saying. Heck, Blake doesn’t set up the offense when he’s on the court either. Ever since Nash went down, Kobe’s been the facilitator every game. So even with Nash sitting, there isn’t much of a difference between Morris and Blake, except one’s a better shooter. With Bell though, we could play Morris-Kobe or Nash-Bell during the times when the starters rest – the former with Gasol and the latter with Howard, ideally.


  8. With Nash’s recent history of back issues, I don’t think it’s a good idea to trade Blake and gamble on Morris.


  9. Thanks for getting back Dave!


  10. Ideally duhon going would be for the best – but his contract is too much. I actually think blake will do really well running this offense-only prob is hes the only one that will have any real trade value. He would be an ideal backup to Nash w Morris getting some burn depending on matchups-but ultimately i think blake will have to go unless they move ebanks.


  11. Duhon and Blake are bad fillers in trades. Nobody is taking 2 yrs of junk by themselves to help the Lakers. They might if picks were involved but Lakers shelved out all theirs this past summer. Four to the Suns for Nash who’s hurt and doesn’t look like he’s coming back anytime soon. Lakers have one trade chip and that’s Pau.


  12. @ex – Funny thing is the back issues are over stated. People just know about that because of how he’s been vocal about his regimin and treatment – and that he lies on the court when subbed to stay stretched out. Nash hasn’t missed more than 8 games since 2001 and hes missed more games to illness/twisted ankles than to his back in the past 10 years. Hes a pretty healthy guy so just have to hope the nerve damage subsides and he can get back on court soon. Nash is also capable of playing more than 30 mins a game – the prob was last couple years (since 2010) he’s had to do everything to keep the suns afloat – one thing to play 37-40 mins alongside allstars, another to do it w bench players masquerading as starters – Kobe would know what thats like from his kwame/smush years:P


  13. has a good article on nba chuckers w an adenddum at the bottom on Pau – basically saying be careful what you wish for which sorta summarizes the current state of affairs nicely. But seems Kobe is chiding Pau on his conditioning and even Pau is saying he has to keep moving.


  14. Craig W. Yea us old guys rule! Even if nobody listens.
    Kevin stop thinking like me on Pau being our only chip.
    If you want to read a bad article read Dings who claims Pau is buying in and producing under Mike D. He goes on to say Morris is a upgrade from Eubanks? Different position there Kevin.

    Tough tonight. Pau could get abused by Z and Conley will score at will. Been long time since Griz lost at home.


  15. I am getting very concerned. I still say we have the best roster, so do not call me a pessimist or “overly harsh” : ) Also, do not tell me to chill : ) I was pessimistic and heard that all last year – and it was a disaster. This year I was optimistic, but I am beginning to think I “could” be wrong. Not yet, however I am coming close to lowering our odds. That game on Wednesday was nothing short of disgraceful. We are 6-6 and we need every game now. – We can’t mail it in ever. We are 0-fer on the road this year and that needs to change pronto. Nine of our first 12 games were home, and December is not an easy “road”. So please respond with some optimism as to why you think we have a good chance to win it all, because Ko and Kevin are beginning to convince me that we do not. More importantly, the Laker’s situation and play is not convincing me that my optimism is well founded.


  16. rr: At this point we not only need “Gatsby”. We need the Great Gatsby,


  17. Robert

    I predicted we would be 10 and 10 first 20. I feel this is a 50 win team barring more injuries. Unless the bench improves and Nash is healthy and better then he has looked. That being said I can only hope Mike D excepts the Pops method and forsakes the regular season for the playoffs. Cut the minutes of the starters. Sure you will lose a few more but this team, healthy and rested can win in the playoffs.

    That is what it’s all about as the past two years showed us.


  18. Well Robert, its unlikely there is going to be a trade that is magically going to fix everything without causing a whole new batch of probs and unless you’re willing to have some patience – you already sound pretty down on the team. So I guess all thats left is for you is to watch the games and hope that you’re wrong:)


  19. “Kobe Bryant wonders if Pau Gasol might be ‘coasting a little bit’ because of his conditioning”

    From our friend Kelly Dryer.

    No comment needed.


  20. Ko: Understood. However the “Pops” theory does not apply unless you are near the top. The Spurs have won the title 4 times. They were the 1 seed twice, the 2 seed once and the 3 seed once. Nobody has won from worse than the 3 seed in 17 years and that was a strike shortened year.
    Jerke: I thought I told you not to call me pessimistic : ) Please re-read my post and all of my pre-season posts. We have the best roster. However we are not playing well. Yes – the sun will rise tomorrow, and we will go the journey called the 2012-2013 season, but will we have a good chance to win it all? I am getting concerned about that specifically. And no – it is not too early. Teams that start this way usually do not win it all. Inclusive of the Heat of 2 years ago. We must get a top seed.


  21. You guys were supposed to make me feel better and more optimistic : ) I know it is November, and I know we have 70 games left, but those two things would be true if I were commenting on a Wizards board, so please tell me something else : )


  22. Robert it’s Black Friday.

    Not smack Friday

    Not wack Friday

    Expect at best a split with back to back against a rough and tough Griz and a run and gun Dallas. Pau and Dwight are not ready for back to backs on the road.