Lineup Change Brings Versatility, But Also More Questions

Darius Soriano —  December 20, 2012

One of the key developments from Tuesday’s win over the Bobcats was that Mike D’Antoni went all-in with his move of MWP to power forward. What at first looked to be a temporary move to off-set Pau Gasol’s absence from the lineup has now (seemingly) become permanent strategy.

If we flashback to June of this year, playing Ron at power forward was something I thought should happen. Here’s (some of) what I said at the time:

Once upon a time, Ron was one of the best two way players in the league and while his decreased athleticism has made him less effective, he’s still got all the facets of his game. He has a good handle, can create off the dribble for himself or teammates, is a decent shooter from the outside, and can post up and finish in the paint. Defensively, we know that Ron can still play well even though his foot speed isn’t quite what it was when he first came to the Lakers. But, overall, these are skills that could translate well to playing some PF if the Lakers decide they want to go small…

…Simply by having Ron space the floor against traditional PF’s the Lakers could open up their offense more. His ability to knock down open shots or drive past slower closeouts could also boost his effectiveness as a play maker. He still shows good instincts when moving into open space, bodying up his man, and in chasing loose balls, which would aid him when rebounding on both sides of the ball. Defensively he has the foot speed to keep up with most PF’s and has the strength to battle anyone in the post. In the past two seasons the Lakers have switched Ron onto Blake Griffin and Kevin Love on key possessions late in games to get the stops they sought. He held his own against both players and they happen to be two of the better players at that position.

As the league moves forward there will be a greater emphasis on lineup versatility. We’re seeing it right now in the Finals with LeBron and Durant both staples of traditional and small lineups their teams deploy. And while Ron isn’t in those players class as elite talents, his skill set is varied enough and his tenacity more than enough that a part time role as a PF could be worth exploring more in the future.

Well, the future is here. Ron is the Lakers’ back up PF and with tectonic plates of this lineup shift comes a myriad of aftershocks that will be felt across the landscape of the Lakers’ roster.

Below are some of my initial thoughts on what this move means:

*The Lakers’ roster is now woefully unbalanced. Ron’s move means that he joins Pau, Dwight, Jamison, Hill, Earl Clark and Sacre as players who could be classified as either power forwards or centers in D’Antoni’s system. Ron’s move away from the wing means that the only “small forward” on the roster is Devin Ebanks and the only shooting guards are Kobe and Jodie Meeks. At point guard, the Lakers have Nash, Steve Blake, Darius Morris, and Chris Duhon. When looking at that list of players, the wing positions are extremely shallow while the PG, PF, and C positions are overloaded. There simply aren’t enough minutes for the all the Lakers’ big men to play and once Nash and Blake are healthy, there won’t be enough minute at point guard either. At this point, the only way to re-balance the roster is to either make a trade or to shift players (like Ron or Jamison) back to small forward in order to lessen the burden on the wings. Because if that doesn’t happen…

*Kobe and Meeks are about to play a ton of minutes. This has already been true so, in one respect, this wouldn’t be a change from recent trends. However, with Ebanks’ utility as a contributor limited, coach D’Antoni has already hinted that Jodie Meeks will start at SG with Kobe sliding up to Ron’s old position. This creates an entirely new set of questions that will need to be answered over time.

First, who plays back up SG if Meeks starts? Ebanks is not a SG (this has been proven pretty well over the past two seasons) so he doesn’t seem like a good candidate. Darius Morris has okay size, but he’s not ideal either. Darius Johnson-Odom is a natural shooting guard, but he’s also a rookie and seems better suited to a D-League assignment in order to get experience, not playing key minutes for the big team. How this gets sorted out will be key because playing Kobe and Meeks together for long stretches (something that Nash coming back doesn’t really change) means the wing depth will be severely tested in a way that, as of now, would seemingly produce poor results.

Who guards the elite small forwards if Ron is on the bench to start games? Ever since Ron has joined the team he’s taken the more difficult defensive wing assignment whether he’s been a shooting guard or a small forward. But if Meeks starts instead of Ron, Kobe will no longer have the option of playing the lesser wing. Instead, defensive assignments will be dictated more by position. Does that mean Kobe has to guard Durant? Carmelo? LeBron? What about non-superstar, but still quality SF’s like Nic Batum, Kirilenko, Rudy Gay, Gerald Wallace, or Caron Butler. Will he have to guard the better offensive option regardless of position (James Harden when the Rockets visit, for example)? Playing bigger players each night while still carrying a heavy offensive load and playing heavy minutes is a concern here.

*Does Ron playing PF make Pau the new Bynum? Under Phil Jackson, the Lakers often played Odom with one either Gasol or Bynum to form the foundation of their most effective lineups. To close games, Gasol would slide up to center and Odom would play in Bynum’s place. This lineup created versatility on both ends of the floor and was the key front court tandem that helped win back to back titles. As mentioned in the cited post from June, Ron offers many of the same qualities that Odom did as a PF in terms of offensive and defensive versatility. Against the Bobcats, Ron closed the game playing defense against a perimeter oriented big man and spacing the floor offensively. This left Pau on the bench while Dwight manned the pivot.

In the future, will we see more of this? Will Pau only occasionally close games? Can the Lakers afford to have one of their best 4 players on the bench down the stretch of close games? The answers to these questions aren’t yet known but Pau has already expressed his desire to be in the game late when the score is tight. Furthermore, the Lakers’ potential ceiling was always built around the idea that all four of the Lakers big players would be able to thrive on the floor together. Getting the most out of them is important not only when lineups are staggered, but when they all play together. How D’Antoni manages this will be very important as the season progresses.

*What happens to Jamison and Hill? After the Bobcats game D’Antoni said “to no fault of their own” both players would be out of the rotation for now. From a practical standpoint, this makes some sense. Jamison is a reserve PF who is best as a floor spacer. Jordan Hill, though a good PF in Mike Brown’s system, is a C in D’Antoni’s spread attack. Ron has taken Jamison’s spot and with Pau back, he’s the natural fit as a five-man when Dwight is on the bench. With only 96 minutes of game time to split between PF and C, a three man rotation is easiest to deploy and that leaves Hill and Jamison out in the cold.

That said, both players bring useful qualities to a shallow Lakers’ roster. Hill’s rebounding and ability to hedge/recover are valuable to a team that sees countless P&R’s ran at them every game. Jamison’s ability to score points in bunches have already helped the Lakers win more than one game this season. They’re also two of the Lakers best 10 players and removing them from the rotation entirely weakens a team that doesn’t have a lot of useful depth. There’s no easy answer here. I think both players will be needed over the course of the rest of the season. Will they be ready when called upon? Is there a risk of losing them to disinterest and dissatisfaction? Both have proven to be professionals and hard workers for the Lakers. I’d think that remains true regardless of circumstances. That said, it must be disappointing to be demoted in the manner that they have been.

Ultimately, I like having Ron play more PF. I think it helps the Lakers in a variety of ways by diversifying what they can do on both sides of the ball. The fact that Ron is having a resurgent season makes it so the Lakers are playing to some of their strengths in ways that they weren’t earlier in the year. That said, it’s clear this change exposes other stress points on the team that weren’t necessarily there before. Getting Nash back will help in some ways, but not all of them. And we’ll know more about this team over the course of the next month when everyone is healthy enough to play.

Hopefully, in that stretch, we get some answers to these lingering questions.

Darius Soriano

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58 responses to Lineup Change Brings Versatility, But Also More Questions

  1. Darius,
    As good as the Lakers offseason was (or seemed to be) what was the thinking at the SF spot? They let Barnes go, did they have any thoughts on who would back up the 3? Did they not evaluate Ebanks properly, because to me he’s D-league level talent. Also makes me scratch my head as to why Grant Hill didn’t sign with with Lakers and Chose the Clips who are crazy deep at the wing.

    Lastly, assuming Grant Hill can actually play I feel like a Grant Hill / Jordan Hill trade would work for both sides.

  2. Furthermore, the Lakers’ potential ceiling was always built around the idea that all four of the Lakers big players would be able to thrive on the floor together. Getting the most out of them is important not only when lineups are staggered, but when they all play together.

    Exactly; I have said this several times, as have others–and you are right. But I think whether that can happen WRT Pau in the MDA system is at this point very much an open question.

    MWP at the 4 will work in some matchups; obviously, in others, it won’t.

    I still think that the two-star platoon system with Nash/Howard and Kobe/Pau units is the best way to utilize the personnel on this team, but the diverse number of offensive sets and keys it would require may prohibit it, and in any case I don’t think that MDA sees the roster the same way that I do.

    Basically, I think they need to try to move Hill for a backup wing or a backup point of similar ability and salary level (no idea who) and then see how Pau and Howard do, both together, and separately, once Nash actually plays.

  3. So in essence Pau’s inability to be that floor spacer on the court at the 4, in MD’s system, is pretty much causing a shift of positions or not playing at all throughout the roster. It is just more evidence that he needs to be shopped to get players that do fit into the new offense. No matter how hard you try you cant fit a square peg into a circle. I am not downgrading or diluting Pau’s skills on the court, its just a known fact that he wants his touches in the paint to be comfortable. We all know that is not going to happen with MD or with Dwight in LA. So lets move along from the handwringing and wishing what coach would do with Pau because as you can see he is going with what he knows and is comfortable with.

  4. This is a great example to demonstrate some of the major mistakes the front office made this year. they let barnes go and brought in jamison for a coach who wanted to go big and even play artest at the shooting guard spot, now they fire brown and hire a coach that wants to go small, so they now have mike browns SG at PF and no use for two of their major bench pieces. I was definitely in favor of getting brown out of town, but just dont think that Antoni’s style works well with this roster. while I love the way they built the team in the off season I now feel like they almost have to make some moves to make things work out the best.

  5. mountainman makes good points.

    The same thing happened with the Veto. When the trade got nixed, the Lakers had a Triangle roster. Then the pattern was repeated when Buss “vetoed” Mike Brown and switched to MDA while Nash was injured (I supported the decision, but the conceptual point still holds).

    Given how the Clippers are doing under Del Negro, Brown would probably still be here–and VDN would probably have gotten fired by now–if the Commish had let the deal go through.

  6. This post underlines what is at the root of the Laker’s problems right now – they simply lack quality depth. As a team, they don’t go more than 6-deep, with Meeks as the only current bench guy who’s not a net negative with what he brings on the court. Hill and Blake are at best neutral or a little below. After that, not much.

    I like the move of Ron to the four, but at the same time, it makes it painfully obvious that the Lakers are planning to move Gasol elsewhere. Hopefully what they can get back will be some useful players who’ll be more compatible with the current talent and offensive scheme. As well as some much needed youth and athleticism.

    I think it’s a fallacy to say carte blanche that if Chris Paul had come to the Lakers instead of the Clippers that Del Negro would be gone by now and Brown still here. Many more factors involved with the diverging fortunes of each franchise than that – chief among them that the Clippers look to have had a more sound overall conception of the type of team they needed to build to be successful.

  7. Laker reality stat of today: Despite a season high 3 straight wins, the 12th place Lakers have actually LOST ground in their last 10 games (4-6) to all 11 teams ahead of them in the Western conf. Ouch!! As far as the three teams behind them, the Suns & Kings have actually kept pace with the Lakers (both going 4-6), meaning the only team the Lakers have won more games than over the last ten is 1-9 New Orleans.

    Lots of work to do over the last 56 games.

  8. Ask, and ye shall receive. Good post; the most interesting point is the defensive burden Kobe will have to take on. I guess I didn’t consider it much, because this feels temporary to me (meaning I think a trade will come by the end of January). Mountainman is right; we are now reaping the rewards of indecisiveness in the offseason regarding Brown. This roster wasn’t constructed for D’Antoni. There definitely has to be a trade to clean up our glut in the frontcourt; it will either center on Hill or Gasol, but not both. Hill has real value as a backup 5 if Gasol is moved.

    And the mistake with Brown can’t be repeated. You have to commit to D’Antoni. To trade a big for a wing player is to imbalance our roster (slightly) for a future coach who likes to play traditional.

    I was also a little confused by the determination to let Barnes go this offseason. I think it mostly had to do with him firing bricks in two consecutive offseasons. With that said, the FO vastly overestimated Ebanks, considering all I remember was an attempt to sign Grant Hill.

  9. I think it’s a fallacy to say carte blanche that if Chris Paul had come to the Lakers instead of the Clippers that Del Negro would be gone by now and Brown still here.

    I said “probably”, and it’s not a “fallacy” in any useful or instructive sense of the term. I would call it “educated speculation” based on the fact that going into last year, Del Negro was the most maligned and disrespected coach in the NBA, and many thought he would not last the season. He may have grown as a coach, of course, but no one sees him as brilliant. The NBA remains a talent-based league.

    As to the Clippers, they took advantage of some breaks/circumtances (Veto, Barnes, Odom. Griffin) and made some smart moves (Turiaf, Crawford, Bledsoe). That is true of any good team.

    But the key ingredient is obviously Chris Paul. Paul’s ability to stabilize and run an offense dramatically reduces the pressure on coaches like Del Negro who are seen as being tactically less than brilliant on that end of the floor. That was one of the reasons that the Lakers wanted Paul. In addition, Paul’s presence contributes to other guys wanting to play for the Clippers.

    That said, Kupchak’s track record on assembling the back end of the roster has always been questionable, and that is certainly the case with this team.

  10. I’m dubious that this will be a long-term solution on a team that includes Pau Gasol. If the team determines that Pau is the 2nd best PF on the roster after Nash comes back (and the Nash/Gasol effectiveness is evaluated) I cannot see any way this team doesn’t move Gasol. Nineteen million is a lot to pay a 3rd best player on a team; and it’s absurd for a 2nd stringer.

    If Ron can thrive in the 4 spot, that means the Lakers don’t need Pau, and it means (as Darius correctly points out) that the Lakers are terribly out of balance with their roster. Moreover, it gives the Lakers maximum flexibility for a trade involving Pau. They can move him for a stretch 4, which was probably all they were thinking about until recently, but with this development they’d be able to move him for a stretch 4, starting-caliber 3, solid backup 2 & 5, or some combination of these things.

    However, if Nash’s return allows for a more seamless return of the Pau we have come to love, the Lakers have added flexibility knowing that MWP can fill that role if he needs to, while moving him back to the 3 spot. This would also allow the Lakers to move a very solid reserve PF in Hill for a more athletic reserve wing player.

    I think this is not just about tweaking a lineup to find a magical fit, but to give the Lakers the maximum flexibility. Maybe things work out well with Pau once Nash returns and the lineup goes back to what it was in game 1; maybe Pau is effective enough with Nash to justify keeping him, but letting him split PF minutes with MWP; maybe MWP fails at this PF thing and we learn that Pau is our best option; or, mabye we discover that Pau cannot fit alongside Howard even after Nash returns, MWP is a solid 4, and we can move Pau for pieces that add youth, athleticism and balance to a roster pretty lacking in those things.

  11. @snoop – I think barnes arrest didn’t help making a case to resign him much either.

    Nash coming back should help balance the shots a bit more in favour of the post players – while allowing Kobe to be more efficient w less shots knowing that he’ll get better looks – so in that sense it should help at least deal w Paus offensive misgivings. But as Darius and others have pointed out – moving Ron to the 4 does expose other weaknesses. Defensively Pau may need to be moved for athletic/quick defenders on the wings if his offensive value can’t substantially outweigh his defensive liabilities

  12. The ringing endorsement for MWP in the first place was that it removed Kobe for heavy time against the likes of Lebron, Durant, and Pierce. Three years after MWP joined the Lakers, Kobe is no longer a defensive juggernaut that can play elite 3′s for extended time. It’s questionable if he can play the 2 spot on defense. Unless the Lakers get Trevor Ariza back there is no way possible for Kobe to play defense against the top players in the league.

    I am almost of the belief that the Lakers will not make any more personnel moves as it will add to the debacle that this season has become. Whether good or bad the team is comprised of players that will be here until June or the end of the season which ever comes first. But then again, I thought Phil Jackson would be the Lakers coach after Brown.

    If the Lakers move Pau by the deadline, they are in effect saying that this year is a wash and they are not chasing a championship–some believe that the championship has already sailed. The team down the hall are winning games that make the statement that they are on course for a championship, and it’s their year not the Lakers.

    The Western Conference has teams that know their system and have players that have bought into their system. 1) OKC 2) Clippers 3) San Antonio 4) Memphis 5) Golden State 6)Denver and Minnesota (a team that is looking to get their players back on court and are still ahead of the Lakers).

    All teams take on the persona of their coach. D’antoni’s emphasis is on offense thus the Lakers concentrate on offense and have no identity as a defensive team. Until Mike gets upset about the defense and stops fixating on the Lakers woes dissipating when Gatsby returns, the Lakers will continue to have split personalities on the court.

  13. There was no one on this board in the summer who thought by acquiring Nash, Dwight, Meeks, Jamison and resigning Hill was a bad idea. In hindsight you can say that the FO made mistakes, but at that time who knew the team would look so bad that firing MB after only 5 games would be a great idea. I applaud the FO for those moves and thats why I have the upmost confidence that they will make the right personnel moves for coach D now.

  14. Leave MWP at the four and trade Gasol for an athletic SF who can spread the floor (plus additional depth)…and the starting unit will be locked and loaded to run DAntoni’s system.

    Without going into trade speculation, Iguadala is playing out of position in Denver. He’s a SF playing SG. His skill set would be perfect for this team on both ends of the floor.

  15. It has taken too long but it does appear that the Lakers are sorting out their front court. I really like the Dwight, Pau, MWP rotation with Hill and Jamison as backups. Dwight is still not Superman and, until that happens, the Lakers need Pau to back him up. Right now, it is too easy for teams to take Dwight out in the fourth quarter. It is a relief to me if MWP and Jamison are done playing the wing. They give up way too much on the defensive end to make it up with their offense. Rotating Kobe, Meeks and Ebanks on the SG and wing positions should be okay. That leaves Nash and Morris to man the point and possibly fill in on SG if needed. The rest of the bench is there for blowouts, one way or the other.

  16. “Educated Speculation”

    rr you crack me up sometimes

  17. I’m hearing reports that Jordan Hill is NOW on the trading block.

  18. Mwp only works if dwight is controlling the paint on both ends. It was worrysime to see thad young drive by him at will and ron is a undersized pf.

    This roster was more suited for the princeton. To be fair to brown kobe’s minutes are still high,
    pau and nash were hurt, defense still sucks and he had this same flawed roster. Only diffetence now is more 3s with some of the best post players in the league. Guess it’s be careful what you wish for.

    The d’antoni rifts are nothing new. Marion, stoudemire in phx, melo in ny and now pau. I’m guessing but they all probably thought they weren’t being utilized right. It’s a players league and we’ll lose one of the best because our coach can’t adjust.

  19. I have also read rumors about the Lakers being open to trading Hill. He also can’t be traded until January 15th due to a rule in the CBA. I’ll also repeat that we won’t get into speculation on this board. Thanks in advance.

  20. rr you crack me up sometimes

    The only thing about the Lakers that is funnier than I am is when Metta tries to dribble.

  21. “All teams take on the persona of their coach.”

    So we’re…angry, and possibly bats**t crazy?

    http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/1865049/mikedantonigeekout.gif

    On a side note – while I do think Howard will re-sign this summer – you have to wonder if his status affects the team’s willingness to trade Pau just a little. If he walked, you’d be looking at a frontcourt headlined by Robert Sacre next year. (Haven’t looked at the cap implications if that happened, too speculative). But it’s a thought. Pau continues to be Howard insurance, for when Howard racks up quick fouls or the Hack-a-Dwight is killing us near the end of a big playoff game.

  22. “.. D’Antoni has already hinted that Jodie Meeks will start at SG with Kobe sliding up to Ron’s old position. This creates an entirely new set of questions ..”
    —-

    True indeed Darius. Starting with –

    “Who guards the elite small forwards if Ron is on the bench to start games?”
    —-

    IMO, that’s the most intriguing question if D’Antoni decides to permanently insert Kobe at the SF Position and the roster isn’t altered. Taking a look at Small Forwards who Kobe might be forced to deal with, what I’ve done is narrowed it down to, first and foremost, only Western Conference opponents (imagining Bron, Melo and them kats from the East would be putting the Cart before the Horse). Also, since I feel that, with our pathetic start, we’ll finish no higher than 5th (I hope that I’m incorrect), I’m focusing on the 4 teams that I believe will finish the reg season at the top of the conference (no particular order) and would entail a 1st round meeting with 1 of them. Lets play with it.

    OKC – Kevin Durant – Answer is No – Arguably, the 2nd best player in the A. Too tall and skilled for Kobe to handle at this point of his career. Also, he’s the focal point of their offense (along with Westbrook), which means that Kobe will be attacked. Eventually, he’ll be worn out from this assignment; which will surely affect him offensively.

    S.A. – Kahwi Leonard (if healthy) – Answer is Yes – Excellent role player who isn’t much taller than Kobe. Being that he’s not featured within their offense, Kobe wouldn’t have to excert too much energy guarding him (although he has a bad habit of falling asleep against these type of players).

    LAC – Caron Butler – Answer is Yes – Caron is another individual who’s around the same height as Kobe and while he can get hot in spurts, he’s a player whose game Kobe is familiar with due to past matchups and the fact that they were once teammates .. Btw – It pained me to type this because it’s forcing me to acknowledge that the – damn, it’s hard for me to even say their name – Clippers will finish atop of us in the Pacific Division. This can’t be life.

    Memphis – Rudy Gay – Answer is No – Rudy, while not as talented offensively as Durant, would present Kobe with similar problems trying to contain him. His skill-set, height and athlecticsm would be too much for Kobe. Also, he’s premiered within their offense, so Kobe, even if he’s somewhat successful (which I highly doubt), would end up exhausted on the offensive end of the floor.

    For D’Antoni (if this is the path that he chooses to take and, as I mentioned earlier, no trades occur) some tough decisions definitely awaites him.

  23. This rotation swap is messier than I had initially thought. Coach is going to have to tweak this lineup against teams with versatile forwards, isn’t he? Kobe can’t guard those guys for 35+ minutes and expect to produce on the offensive end. In theory, I guess with the Nash/Meeks/Bryant/Gasol/Howard lineup you should have enough offensive punch to wear out the other team…but most teams are younger than us. Either way, like every roster experiment this year, it should be fun to see how this pans out.

  24. While Kobe is a bad defensive matchup for some of the above players, one positive when nash returns is that kobe should be expending a lot less energy on the offensive side of the ball. Now a lot of this will also depend on how Antoni decides to Pau and Ron. while using Ron at the 4 would definitely be useful against certain teams, there is no reason why we would have to be stuck to this lineup every night against every team, Okc and Memphis definitely seem like teams that it would be more advantageous to go with a bigger lineup.

  25. Even tho it leaves Gasol to odd man out. I actually would like to see this lineup in deciding minutes
    PG: Nash. SG: Meeks
    SF: Bryant. PF: World Peace
    C: Howard
    It spaces the floors well and then teams like Clippers and Thunder, for example, they may start the game traditionally
    (ex. LAC: SF: Butler, PF: Griffin, C: Jordan. OKC: SF: Durant, PF: Ibaka, C: Perkins)
    But these teams are capable of running small ball at any time in deciding minutes (4th Q)
    For example, the Clippers could run:
    PG: Paul. SG: Billups
    SF: Crawford. PF: Barnes
    C: Griffin
    And the Thunder could easily run:
    PG: Westbrook. SG: Sefolosha
    SF: Sefolosha. PF: Durant
    C: Ibaka

    So that’s why I like that lineup as a closing lineup. But to start the game that’s another story. Why would you want your aging leading scorer to run around guarding people like Durant, Gay, etc. the Lakers definitely need to look for another perimeter wing player that can defend/shoot if this MWP move to PF is permanent
    Because even if he came in off the bench playing the PF, but still guarding Durant for an example. That still means Kobe, Meeks or Nash are liable to get mismatched against Ibaka/Perkins.
    I gotta see how this “experiment” works out

  26. Tooks the words out of my mouth Mountain – kobe has said previously he’ll be able to focus more on defence knowing that he doesn’t have to do everything on offense w Nash back. – which should help a lot. And as you mentioned – Memphis w Gasol/ZBO and OKC w Perkins/IBAKA or even San antonio with Duncan/Splitter, both Pau and Howard will get extended play together as they matchup alright against those teams. It’s the teams with the stretch 4′s/small/fast where the issue will be. That being said – if the Lakers offense is dominant enough – it will forces teams to matchup w us instead. It’s all gonna depend on Pau. More and more this gets discussed though – its looking like its less of a coaching issue and more something that the FO needs to solve if it doesn’t click quick.

    On the plus side… finally some for sure good news.

    http://espn.go.com/los-angeles/nba/story/_/id/8768118/steve-nash-finishes-full-contact-practice-los-angeles-lakers-no-issues

  27. And the situation with Gasol vs Dwight in the 4th quarter is as simple as this. Yes Gasol will make his free throws. But let’s be real if he was on the floor opposing teams are not gonna “hack-a-pau”
    He’s been above average shooter from the charity stripe his whole career. But when he’s on the floor opposing wings and even some bigs don’t respect him as any threat in the paint. So he would definitely get attacked more than when Dwight’s in the game. Not saying Dwight is superman and can block everything. But he gives you the best chance defensively
    Only thing the Lakers can hope for is Nash helps them that much offensively, to the point where games are not necessarily close in the 4th quarters (comfortable leads, no blowouts) but good look with that

  28. Lakers need to signed delonte west he is a combo gaurd which he can play pg n sg. We need to get raja bell so he can also play sg and sf. Both players can contribute to the team. We need to trade blake and duhon.

  29. its obvious the FO was not thinking straight when they hired D’Antoni. They wanted showtime but how is the roster built for that? We got aging superstars or allstars and Dantoni’s offense requires a competent pg which we only have one of. Kobe is now forced to be the pg with varying results. Also the offense is predicated on spacing which means guys like Gasol and Howard won’t work together. The system also makes Hill a center and you already have a center in Gasol. So Hill is the odd man out of the rotation. Now heres the bigger issue. If Gasol doesn’t work as a PF in the offense, then he can only play about 12-13 minutes backing up Howard. Furthermore, do you want a player whos making $19 million a yr to come off the bench or play limited minutes because he doesn’t fit in the offense? Finally, I understand the need for spacing so you put world peace at backup PF. But putting Kobe at SF and meeks at SG is a mistake. We are essentially trying to get more offense out of the lineup at the risk of losing defense. For a team that finds it hard to play defense, this doesn’t make a lot of sense. This experiment won’t work.

  30. I thought that Barnes had Tweeted that he chose to leave the Lakers because of Mike Brown.

    While I’m happy for him w/ the Clips and a little amazed at his turn around beyond the arc, he was a disappointment w/ the Lakers, especially in the play-offs. I can’t blame the FO for not pursuing him aggressively.

  31. @VI – he did – was interviewd as well and when asked just said “Two words – Mike Brown”. FO can’t sign players that don’t really want to be there.

  32. “Kahwi Leonard…Kobe wouldn’t have to exert too much energy guarding him”
    —-
    Which is exactly why he is a bad match up for Kobe. Pop would be looking to exploit Kobe’s tendency to fall asleep on non-superstar players. They also run Stephen Jackson at this position as well. He’d be a better match up because he would keep Kobe’s attention. Plus he is not as much of a threat to drive.

    Overall, I don’t like Kobe against most SF’s. He lost weight over the summer in an attempt to pick up some speed. He is just too slight to go up against most decent small forwards. For example, Butler may be only an inch taller. But Kobe’s giving up between 20 to 30 lbs. to him. Him guarding Butler over the course of a seven game series would really wear him down.

    Going small only works if your guys are lighting quick. They can’t simply play fast. They have to actually be fast. The Lakers aren’t. Their speed is not enough to punish teams for playing big.

  33. the one thing going for this team though now is that they can play spread out around a single post – whcih given the quality of Pau/Dwight – can be dominating . Lakers went from being a poor 3pt team to now being ranked 7th – and will get better with Nash back. They have enough threats to keep teams honest – so there won’t be a threat of constant doubles on the post guys.

  34. T. Rogers….

    Excellent points about Kobe playing SF. For years, Kobe has been listed at 205 lbs. The summer weight loss of 15 lbs or so definitely puts him in the light in the azz category. Combined with the heavy minutes D’Antoni has Kobe playing, this is a recipe for disaster.

  35. clearly its time to trade pau.he is the 4th wheel and he is crying about offense.he is the best choice to get the players to balance the roster and get younger.

  36. Why are we only focusing on trying to make the roster fit dantoni’s system when he should be the one ”Coaching” and defining a system that would work to the strengths of the team.

    This is why Phil was the most logical choice to replace brown – Buss and Mitch stated that they thought Mike was a better fit for the roster that they had which we can now see was total BS or else they would not be putting our 6th best player in Hill on the block and Jamison with DNPs hoping that they can completely adjust the roster to suit the needs of Mike – I havent won anything – Dantoni.

    If we lose Pau to become a Suns 0.5 Alpha team we arent going to see #17 for another 10 years.

    we all had high hopes for dantoni because of his experience with Team USA creating a new offence to work with the all star team he had and now we are all over the place.

    Karma is rearing its ugly head at us

    Anyone know if we have lottery protections on any of the picks we sent out?

  37. 1 Nash 32, Kobe 16
    2 Meeks 32, Kobe 16
    3 MWP 32, Jamison 16
    4 Hill 32, Gasol 16
    5 Howard 32, Gasol 16

    8 best players

  38. @Shaun – The PJ arguement doesn’t hold water several reasons – I won’t rehash what was posted earlier but MDA is trying the exact formula that PJ used -except using Artest instead of Odom. Yes the system is slightly different and Pau can fit it – but its up to Pau offensively if he’s willing to adjust. PJ would be having the same issues but then would also have to come up w a credible way to use Nash – other wise you’re wasting him in the triangle – which wouldn’t fit this roster either. reality has been made clear that PJ was never a coaching option anyways.

    As for Hill/Jamison – they’re both so limited in their skills sets they just won’t see time against certain lineups and the same goes for Pau because he just can’t adequately guard mobile/quick stretch 4′s. And you may barely be able to make an argument for Hill/jamison being 6th best player on this team – but on any other team in the league they are 8-10th. MDA said as much and its not his fault but the roster is what it is and there are some weaknesses in it. If everyone – players and coaches makes adjustments and plays for the good of the team – then they can be dominant doing so with good health the rest of the way. but it frankly hangs a lot on Pau – and if he doesn’t want to adjust to a diffferent but equally important role – then the FO needs to bring in some younger, athletic defenders who can hit an outside shot or two and run the flr asap.

    This isn’t just about fitting MDA’s system – it’s about using the one expendable asset the lakers have (again Pau is awesome but he doesn’t do anything that much better offensively or defensively to make him indispensable as an indivdual player over the other 3 allstars) – to get younger, more athletic players and maybe a prospect or two or picks to help fortify depth, rotation, and give the lakers a chance to rejuvanate the team with some young talent.
    Hill/Ebanks etc.. being moved won’t get much back – but they might be able to clear a roster spot or get a pick/cash to facilitate a bigger move – because they won’t get even $ value for Pau. And they will most likely have to take back more players than they trade out w Pau so they need a roster space.

    Lakers picks have all be traded off in some way or the other for the next couple years etc… They have no lottery protection on any picks.

  39. Lakers need some personnel changes, only few, on back court

  40. I don’t know how many are aware, but most teams are going small these days. Guys like Carmelo, Lebron, and Durant are all playing more and more minutes at the 4. So Ron Artest playing the 4 works wonderfully in those situations, in my eyes. Much better than Pau trying to cover Lebron!

  41. Boy am I confused.

    Lakers traded Fisher and draft choices for Hill who now has no spot.
    Mike 1 played Metta a SG and now Mike 2 wants him at OF,
    Kobe dosen’t defend at SG so they want to move him to SF the best scoring position in the NBA,
    Pau is a center and plays smart but they don’t know where to play him and he won’t play at the end of games,
    Barnes was sleeping in a gym and now scores 20 a game and Jamison can’t play or even make a free throw.
    The team has 2 bigs and are older this year then last so they have a coach who only plays fast, run and gun basketball.

    Hummm all seems just perfect to me. Kind of like pretending a old hippo can run faster then a young zebra by painting stripes on it.

    If it walks like a duck>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>quack.

    Going back on vacation.

  42. I still believe that the Lakers as constituted are a team capable of winning an NBA championship. At the risk of earning Darius’s wrath, I feel compelled to suggest some possible trades whch could dramatically improve the Lakers without changing the roster at all. I believe Mitch could get strong positive responses from a number of teams: trade Mike D’Antoni!

    Think what D’Antoni could do for the three point shooting of the Nuggets. He’d immediately improve on 0 for 22. Trade Mike D for George Karl.

    Would the Grizz be willing to trade “Train” Hollins for Mike?

    Think of what Mike D could do for Irving in Cleveland. Would Byron Scott come to LA?

    Monty Williams might be willing to leave New Orleans.

    Dwayne Casey might be lured away from the Raptors.

    I’m sure that there are other possibilities out there . . . . .

  43. D’Antoni has said after Thursday’s practice that he’s MWP will start some games depending on the opposition, for example against OKC (Durant).

    MWP at 4 does give us an ability to switch from big lineup to small lineup and back. Now, on paper, we have bigs that can match up against Memphis and OKC (Hill will be useful here) and small-ball lineup to play against the majority of the league.

  44. D’Antoni seems as confused as Mike Brown. Not much difference, the results are the same. Bickerstaff did a better job.

  45. D’Antoni is trying to figure out the best combination for the long term (i.e. this season’s playoffs). That may mean that in the short term they won’t do quite as well, but it is a better approach to take.

  46. I don’t think people quite grasp the punitive nature of the tax next year. For that reason, it seems obvious to me that Pau will be traded before the deadline for a package of players at least one of which has a contract that expires this season. That assumes, of course, that DH12 is staying which I am sure is being discussed or will be discussed behind closed doors before any Pau trade is executed. The move of MWP to the 4, which is tactically a good decision IMO, also may be with a Pau trade in mind (or imminent).

  47. “at the risk of Darius’ wrath” really cracked me up. Oh Drrayeye, are we ever so mischievous to Kurt and Darius.

    MWP at the 4 has produced really good results. At the risk of “sounding bad” or “looking bad” I prefer to take the well-documented results over the theoretical norm. And regardless of how you refer to Ron Artest, he IS a forward whose defense and skillset match perfectly that of Dwight Howard’s.

    Lets examine some facts here so we can pretty much move forward properly:
    1. Kobe is the alpha dog.
    2. Dwight Howard is the future.
    3. We are not firing MDA and getting Phil Jackson.
    4. I’d say north of 90% of Laker fans wanted Mike Brown out.
    5. Pau Gasol is clashing with his coach.
    6. We need roster changes.
    7. We need Nash back ever so badly.

    So taking aside some of the sarcasm in that series of “facts” its become clear to me that #5 is the easiest path to solve. As a matter of fact, trading Pau Gasol NOW would ease the burden of re-adjusting later. Same principle as the MB firing. No use prolonging the agony, preventing the inevitable.

    So…

    If the Lakers lose Dwight next season, after doing all these things we’re supposedly doing (including trading Pau) then so be it. It remains the best-known fact that LA is THE destination, and there hasn’t been much as of late that has changed that. So if Dwight leaves, lets deal with it. But we cannot waste more time hoping and praying and forcing Pau Gasol fits here coz he simply does not anymore.

    Where does he go and what do we get in return? Thats where it will get tricky. But one thing I do know is that the Lakers ARE gonna get several pieces (out of Pau’s sheer contract size) in return. The players coming back, per my projection, is gonna support MWP’s move to 4, Jordan Hill’s retention as backup center, exit of Devin Ebanks as the team’s only defacto 3, and the ascension of Jodie Meeks into the starting lineup as the floor spacer that fits perfectly beside Dwight.

    Nash – Meeks – Bryant – Artest – Howard >> new starting lineup.
    xxxxx – xxxxx – xxxxx – Jamison – Hill
    Morris – xxxxx – xxxxx – xxxxx – Sacre

    As the bench will be occupied by the pieces I project to be coming from the Gasol trade, I will leave you to figure which 3 I believe are the best fits (with contracts considered).

  48. Howard, Gasol, Kobe, Meeks and Nash as starters,

    Reserves
    Gasol or Howard at center, MWP at the 4, Jamison or Ebanks at the three, Darius Morris at shooting guard, and Blake or Duhon at the point

    Odd man out
    Jordan Hill, Earl Clark, Darius Johnson Odom, Robert Sacre

  49. Please indulge my urge (post above held in moderation) and I would like to hint that the deal would be a 3-team deal involving 1 East team and 1 West team, both of which will be parting with good players.

    As for who they are in particular, we cannot discuss that here.

  50. I like Ron at PF too, but doing this makes it imperative that we trade Gasol this season. For the longest time I was resistant to the “Trade Gasol for roster depth” strategy, but reading again how g-dd-mn awful our bench is, I’m starting to think that might be the best option.

  51. What is incredibly fast and athletic…..can guard three positions including PG…… has an improving outside shot……is currently playing out of position on his team…….and rhymes with Biggy???

    The answer to this riddle is also the answer to many of the team’s struggles with speed, rotations, and defense.

  52. yay Iggy!

  53. Warren hold up, THE Gasol trade? WHAT Gasol trade?

  54. Can jameson play the 2 n=in D’Antoni’s offense? If so, it solves some problems.

  55. Formalhault: THE Gasol deal thats is imminent.

  56. Where’s the source? I don’t see an imminent Gasol deal.

  57. Any deal of Pau is speculative at best and wishful thinking of trade hungry fans at worst. There is no source because every report coming out of the Laker front office is that they want to give this team time to play together when everyone is healthy and with time under D’Antoni.

  58. D’Antoni simply doesn’t know how to coach this Lakers team.
    From his standpoint:
    1. Pau, Jamison, and Hill are going to spending a lot of time on the bench – what a total waste of three players – as if they were injured and taken out.
    2. Kobe will play HEAVY minutes and will have to guard the top wing players – increasing his risk of injury and wearing him out by the playoffs.
    3. There will be weak coverage of the wings. Already teams are raining 3-pointers on the Lakers.
    4. Defense – what defense?

    FIRE D’ANTONI before he ruins the team.