Lakers Need A More Aggressive Steve Nash

Darius Soriano —  January 12, 2013

Steve Nash is in an interesting position on this particular Laker team.

He is the team’s point guard and, simply due to his position, one of the de facto leaders. Furthermore, because he is one of the best players on the team he is positioned as someone who others will look to for guidance. So, even though Nash is a newcomer and someone who came to the Lakers as a secondary player (not only to Kobe, but, arguably to Pau as well) he is still one of the most important players. When the coaching change occurred and Mike D’Antoni was hired, Nash’s stature on the team only grew as the head coach singled him out as a difference maker.

At this point in the year, Nash has lived up to his reputation in a lot of ways. He has been a point guard in the truest sense. When the Lakers started out running the Princeton Offense, Nash was one of the players voicing his buy in the loudest. He spoke of process and his own willingness to step back in order to accomplish more as a team. On the floor, he has played as a man more interested in getting the most out of his mates rather than someone who is concerned about himself. He makes the extra pass, looks to set up a teammate who has a mismatch, and has willingly given the ball up in order to be a worker away from the action in order to spring someone else for a chance at a shot. The term “floor general” was created for a player who goes about his business this way.

However, in Nash’s pursuit to help make his teammates better, it seems he may be giving up too much of himself. It goes without saying that Nash is doing a lot to help the team play well (or, at least well within the context of what’s been an awful season to date), but it’s also arguable that what the Lakers need is for him to stop worrying about his teammates so much and to start calling his own number more.

Consider the following:

  • Per 36 minutes, Nash’s scoring is down from 14.2 points last year to 11.7 points this season. Two seasons ago, that number was 15.9; three seasons ago it was 18.0.
  • Per 36 minutes, Nash is shooting nearly one and a half fewer times per game and attempting a shade over one less foul shot per game.
  • This season, Nash’s usage rate is a paltry 15.0. That number is 4.6 points lower than last season and represents his lowest usage since the 1999-2000 season where he only played in 56 games (only starting in 27).

Taken individually, none of these numbers are too alarming (except the decline in usage, which we’ll get to).

It’s not some sort of big surprise that Nash might score less this season. Playing with scoring threats like Kobe and Howard automatically affect any players’ point totals. As Kobe mentioned the other day, he and Dwight are “finishers” and are going to be the players who end plays taking shots whenever they’re on the floor. With this being the case, it’s also not a surprise that Nash’s FGA’s and FTA’s are also down. As the Lakers’ offense has evolved (under both the Mikes), Nash has been playing off the ball more and that’s led to him spectating as Kobe, Dwight, and (to a lesser extent) Ron take the shots. It was always going to be the case that Nash, operating with more individual talent than he has in recent seasons, would see a decline in certain stats.

However, it’s fine line between surrendering some of your individual numbers for the betterment of the team and not doing more with the ball when given the opportunity to do so. This season (and especially lately with Pau and Dwight out injured), the latter describes Nash better than the former. This may not be the Lakers’ biggest problem this season (it’s not close, actually) but it’s a problem all the same.

It can get lost in the discussion of Nash being able to create for others so well, but he can also do a pretty good job of creating shots for himself. As one of the best shooters in the game (Nash is shooting 53% from the floor this year and has a TS% of 61.7%), he can take advantage of even the tiniest slivers of space with a quick flick of the wrist better than most other players in the league. We’ve seen it this season multiple times: Nash probes the defense, escape dribbles to either hand, fades and hits a jumper; Nash drives by a closing out defender and hits a scoop shot at the rim; Nash comes off a pick, keeps the defender on his hip and then hits a floater/hook shot before the secondary help comes; Nash pulls up in transition and buries a long jumper.

We just haven’t seen it as often as I think we’d all like to.

Constructing an offense can be a delicate balance. Few understand that better than the best point guards in the league. Ever listen to Magic Johnson talk? Or Chris Paul? Or John Stockton? They all understood the value of getting guys looks and how, as the point guard, it was their responsibility to make it happen. Keeping your teammates engaged offensively is one of the surer ways to keep them engaged in other facets of the game. Nash, like those other all-timers, is in that mold and I’ve heard him make similar comments over the course of his career.

However, one of the reasons the Lakers’ even pursued Nash is because they’ve had a hole at point guard for several years. Taking nothing away from Derek Fisher or even Ramon Sessions, but they were not able to control the reins of an offense and be critical scorers for their team at the same time. Nash, for all his pointgod-ly ways, has not had that problem in his career. As Lakers’ fans, we’ve had front row seats to Nash not only creating for others, but hitting countless big shots of his own and controlling the game with both his passing and his scoring.

This season, however, Nash has become a player too willing to let others finish. Usage rate is a measurement of how often a play ends with a shot, free throws, assist, or turnover when a player is on the floor. As mentioned earlier, Nash’s is 15.0 this season. For comparison’s sake, Darius Morris’ is 15.7, Jamison’s is 16.7, and Meeks’s 19.7 (last year, Sessions’ was 20.5). I understand that Nash is a playmaker and that he’s moving the ball on to the open man and that may not lead to anything more than another pass. My point is that Nash needs to take it upon himself to shoot more; to look to be a finisher more, even if he has to force the action a bit to do so.

When completely healthy and playing to their abilities, the Lakers are a team with four all-star level players at the top of their roster. For the Lakers to be at their best, they need all of those guys playing to their strengths. And while Nash’s primary strengths are that of a playmaker for others and a person who can organize the offense, he’s also one of the game’s best shooters whose scoring is key part of his skill set. The Lakers can only be their best if Nash is taking it upon himself to do a bit more with that latter skill.

If that comes at the expense of an additional shot from Kobe, Ron, or Meeks, I don’t think anyone will mind. I know I won’t. I also think it will help the team.

Darius Soriano

Posts

64 responses to Lakers Need A More Aggressive Steve Nash

  1. 100% agree. Lakers need a vintage Nash and have not been getting it! Who’s fault is that?

  2. Completely on your side with this. I would rather have nNash shooting jumpers thanseing Ron, Meeks and Pau shooting threes out there.And since the absence of our Big Men why is it that the Lakers dont run the 1&2 PnR? This is the most deadly weapon we have out there

  3. Inorder for evil to succeed (ball-hugging kobe), is for the good man (Nash) to do nothing.

  4. I don’t think Steve Nash is the same player he was prior to this year. It’s either the injury or it’s his advancing age. Steve doesn’t seem to have the same confidence in his offensive game.

    I think that once he and Kobe become fully accustomed to each other, they can switch roles from time to time and have Nash play the 2 on offense. This would get Steve a few more open looks each game. And as Spartacus suggests the 1 2 pick and roll needs to be run more.

  5. The Lakers have had a pace of 100 or more possessions in each of their past four games -– all losses, of course. The Lakers now have a 7-16 record this season in games with a pace of at least 96 possessions, but they’re 8-5 when the pace is 95 or slower.

    http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/53459/playoffs-might-be-a-long-shot-for-the-lakers

  6. Kenny T: I agree. While overall – I think our roster is under-performing, in Nash’s case, we may have bought the car when the tank was on E (Kooo: Far from the vintage that I agree – we need). He cut his hair and apparently, like Sampson, he has no strength now.
    rr: That is an interesting stat. However you are much more than a statistician (and I mean that sincerely). Perhaps you could draw a conclusion from the stat? Perhaps evaluate previous decisions? Or perhaps make a recommendation : )

  7. Jamison makes me want to throw up in my mouth when he takes that 3 pointer early in the shot clock. Add Metta’s iso’s and early 3′s, too.

    Nash is not helping the team by refusing to take over the game on offense. One game it should be Kobe, another Howard, another Nash and another Pau based upon matchups.

  8. Between Kobe and Metta, I think we should be able to find 6 more shots per game for Nash.

  9. Neil

    Metta The Brick had 14 shots in the 1st half. Missed 11 of them. How long would it take Phil or Pops to bench him?

  10. If anything nash needs more possessions with the ball, maybe 8 more, to make pg decisions and decide to shoot or pass. Get players moving whuch then may transfer to defense. A few more made baskets and less sg decisions may lead to better defense. That’s the main flaw scoring 101 givung up 120.

  11. Lakers might be inconsistent this year but one thing can be counted on, great posts by Forum Blue & Gold.

  12. Agree with everything in this post. Maybe it’s due to our (the fans) understandable impatience as to how this season’s gone, but every time I watch Nash, I grow frustrated with his patience because I feel like he’s holding back. It could very well be that my standard of comparison is simply a younger, healthier Nash and that his drop-off health-wise was bigger than we expected (especially without Nelson and his training staff).

    rr – Interesting stat. Many of us made the point that D’Antoni – a coach married to his system – wouldn’t have the athleticism or shooters necessary to run his system here, before he was hired. Sometimes the simple take is often the most accurate. I’m not necessarily saying a different coach would have made this team a contender – there are true deficits in players’ physical capabilities right now, and also inherent personnel defects – but the “simple” worry of not being able to create the space and pacing necessary in D’Antoni’s system may have been duly warranted.

  13. KOOO…..

    Metta was WIDE open on a lot of those shots last night. He almost had to shoot them. The thing I always wonder is if a player misses three or four in a row from beyond the arc, why not step in a little closer to the basket? There comes a time that a player has to realize his range and limits….and that he may not have his three point shot working on a given night.

  14. KOOO…..

    Metta was WIDE open on a lot of those shots last night. He almost had to shoot them. The thing I always wonder is if a player misses three or four in a row from beyond the arc, why not step in a little closer to the basket? There comes a time that a player has to realize his range and limits….and that he may not have his three point shot working on a given night.

  15. One thing I saw that I liked in the OKC game was a developing synergy between Nash and Jamison. Steve hit Antawn for a few nice baskets and took advantage of Jamison’s slashing ability.

  16. I should make it clear that I believe in the FO completely. I do think the FO is nearly beyond reproach for its personnel job. The team didn’t work out on paper due to a variety of factors, but most of us had Kupchak pencilled in for EOY halfway through the offseason. He made moves that all of us approved of, and did what he could with limited $ for FAs and made low-risk, high-reward moves. The primary move I didn’t like – trusting Ebanks when he clearly wasn’t ready – seems like quibbling in the face of a great offseason that began in a very difficult position. In May, remember, most intelligent basketball writers were saying the Lakers were almost in a situation that made it almost impossible to rebuild on the fly.

    I do think you can make criticism with nuance while still appreciating the global job the FO has done, and on that front, I guess I just worry we have a tendency to “over-think” things when hiring coaches. I don’t know if our executives are particularly swayed by excellent interviews over examining true fit with personnel – MB’s meticulous game plans and detail and MDA’s breezy confidence make them great interviews, reportedly. It’s one of the reasons Del Negro actually got re-hired. And I don’t know what other coaching options were legitimately available at the time. So it’s hard to clearly say “we should have done X instead of Y.”

    Kenny T (from the last thread) made some very interesting points about players understanding and accepting limited roles, like Perkins/Ibaka/Collison on the Thunder. I definitely agree with this point, and it is a coach’s job to mollify egos for the betterment of the team, but I’d argue that the 2 situations are not really comparable. Collison and Perkins have always – for the entire careers – been role players with limited skills who have made money by doing dirty work. By comparison, Pau and Dwight – multi-skilled players – have both, from their rookie seasons, been #1 options on their teams and had entire rosters manipulated to suit them. It’s a lot harder – maybe impossible – to convince a player with that history, that level of skill and previous effectiveness, to be happy setting picks. And maybe that’s a legitimate reason why too many stars can un-balance a team.

  17. Well, I just returned from a yoga camp where I was supposed to stay away from all types on news, Internet, phone and almost everything that connects you to the world.
    So today, as soon as I got my cellphone to work, I rushed to check what Lakers have been upto during this period. And oh my, COLLAPSE is one word. I knew they’ll drop around 4 games out of 6. But now it’s not even the 6 straight losses that matter the most. We’ve lost every single legitimate backcourt player. OMG i remember saying we have a stuffed backcourt few days back. Now my brother joked to me that MWP will be playing Centre soon. We need to aim for far future, my championship hopes are scanty. Save veteran legs, and build for next season. That’s what my dejected self says..

  18. Robert,

    Very amusing.

    Snoopy,

    When D’Antoni got the job, I specifically said that I thought he would make more adjustments than he actually has. So I have been wrong up to now.

    As to Nash, yes, he needs to shoot more. The Lakers need to run some actions with Kobe setting up Nash for 3s.

  19. Snoopy2006….

    Good counterpoint to my previous post. Dwight and Pau do bring a lot to the table and one can see how it may be difficult for them to “unlearn” the way they have always played. But, team success should be the ultimate goal. Sometimes a player has to leave his comfort zone in order for his team to win. And Kobe and Nash have to embrace change as well. Right now, it seems that the Lakers have no roles and no plan other than to try and outscore the opponent. Somebody’s got to do the dirty work.

  20. I have been a Nash fan for a long time, so its interesting if somewhat painful to watch what is going on this year. First, while Nash is getting older and is probably also to an extent suffering from the effects of the injury of earlier in the year, this is only 25% of it, in my opinion. The complaint about his not shooting enough goes back through the last 2-4 years in Phoenix as well, so this is nothing new.

    My perspective is that this is the very essence of what makes Nash so great and what makes this years failures so acute. what we are seeing is exactly what could have been expected. Nash is the quintessential deferntial guy, as he does everything possible to enable his teammates, and maximize their “buy in”, but his teammates are perhaps the most selfish team left in the NBA, a veritable dinosaur among NBA teams that have for the most part adopted the unselfishness model started by Nash/Dantoni going back to 2004/05. With a team composed of Kobe, Dwight, Pau and yes MWP, you have some of the biggest “need more touches/Iso oriented guys in the NBA. JVG said it best on Friday, the struggles this year are all about how many touches various guys are getting and in that context, where that is so painfully obvious, what we are seeing out of Nash was inevitable.

    Notice how few (by Nash’s standards) high picks are being run for him. In Phoenix, the high pick would start 75% of plays..here it would seem to be no more than 25%. One moment on Friday was very emblamatic. The lakers had made a small move back into contention with mostly the bench guys to start the 4th. In comes Kobe and on three consecutive possessions (with no scores) there was a long contested outside shot posted by Kobe or MWP with not one pass preceding the touch and no touch by Nash, (obviously). and in that period any momentum gained in the early 4th quarter was lost. That pretty much said it all for me.

    And I don’t see that changing…with kobe’s inherent loud leadership and all the hue and cry from the stalwart Laker fans led by Magic and the like that are so critical of Dantoni ball and with Dantoni/Nash so on the defensive about their past, I just don’t see a window of change. In fact, Nash is now quoted as saying its on him to get Dwight and Pau going, indicating that his focus seems to be on less scoring rather than more.

  21. Harvey,

    One of many problems with your narrative is it would be just as easy to say that the Lakers, selfish dinosaurs or no, were winners–until Nash and D’Antoni showed up. Maybe they have wrecked the chemistry and robbed the Lakers of their championship mentality with their respective deferential and easygoing ways. And one more time: Kobe’s USG is down from last year and is about what it was in 2009 and 2010.

    That is the problem with these types of faux-analytical narratives–they can always be changed to suit the facts.

    Note this from Darius’ post:

    ___

    This may not be the Lakers’ biggest problem this season (it’s not close, actually) but it’s a problem all the same.

    ____

    The part in parentheses is the key. Nash should probably shoot the ball more, and it’s probably mostly his own fault that he doesn’t, although one could argue, like people sometimes do with Kobe, that Nash is “wired” to play a certain way. But the Lakers are losing mostly because they are one of the weakest defensive teams in the league and also to an extent because they don’t have the speed or shooting to run SSOL That is very clear whether one relies more on stats or “general observation.”

  22. IT,

    Yes you are right it is way more about defence than the issues I raised. But its more fun to talk about the offensive stuff.

    And you know I am not really saying the old lakers way can’t work. I get that many championships were won that way and that variations on those themes won’t work, or continue to work. And it is clear that at Nash’s advanced age, letting other guys just score the ball without him being the center of every play both 1) helps him cope with his aging body easier as he is not needed to create everything, 2) capitalizes on the strengths of others and 3) addresses one of the big problems the suns faced as the way they were constructed (at least prior to the more balanced 2010 team) they lacked ISO guys at the end of the game to just score the ball when defences tightened up and took away the PNR. It also has the potential to lengthen the careers of Kobe (and possibly Pau), as they both could benefit from an offence that requires less of them.

    So its not so much a total indictment of the Lakers and anything that is not SSOL as it is a recognition of the vast philisophical divide that is at the source of the Lakers issues to date. And it is because of that, that I am actually more tempted to give these guys a pass this year, as it becomes evident that this squad really needed a real training camp under Dantroni (or someone who was better suited to address these issues) and a lot more injury free time to really reconcile the style issues implicit in this discussion.

    the other point is that those who simply expect Nash to shoot more, are likely to be disappointed, imho.

  23. I think Nash IS trying to do more on the court. He is trying to be more of a playmaker and shoot more at the same time. I think the problem is 2 things. Number one, Nash is old. He has decreased speed and does not have the same incredible endurance he had years ago. Number 2, he is uncomfortable within the Lakers offense. I don’t think it is necessarily he does not have confidence in himself, but he does not have confidence in his teammates, besides from maybe Kobe. Unlike his days in Phoenix, he cannot rely on anyone to be consistent beyond the arc. He knows that this team does not fit well in the offense Mike D is trying to run, he knows they are not a fast pace team and cannot play that way. Number 1 is forgivable and understandable. No one expected Nash to be that same guy from Phoenix. But number 2 is not. But it is not Nash’s fault, but rather he is just not surrounded by the right group of guys for him to be at his best.

  24. Sorry for bringing this up once more, I believe that the casual fan that asks for Player X and Y or to keep this guy and such might not know about this TINY detail about next year:

    In my payroll post, it has become clear that the Lakers are sporting a 100M payroll this year with 30M more in taxes. Next year, assuming Dwight re-signs it will be a 100M payroll on 8 guys! Meaning if we budget 10M for the next 5-6 guys, thats a 110M payroll, 40M above the tax line and a total tax payments of:

    7.50M – 1st 5M (70 to 75M)
    8.75M – 2nd 5M (76 to 80M)
    12.5M – 3rd 5M (81 to 85M)
    16.25M – 4th 5M (86 to 90M)
    18.75M – 5th 5M (91 to 95M)
    21.25M – 6th 5M (96-100M)
    23.75M – 7th 5M (101-105M)
    26.25M – 8th 5M (106-110M)
    =======
    127.5M in taxes? You have got to be kidding me.

    So 130M this year and missing the playoffs then 230M next year? I just don’t buy it.

  25. If and when my post ^^ goes through, its imperative that we realize several interesting facts:

    1. We are not escaping the luxury tax even if we ended up amnestying Kobe. (blasphemy)
    2. We better have a team that wins it all otherwise 130M in taxes (notwithstanding payroll) is just a fortune to spend.
    3. If we want to do something about that we need to act now aka trade 19M of salary next year.
    4. This looks really bad for those that want to acquire more players. Seriously.

  26. Warren: Items 1 + 2 in your post above are simply facts that most of us know (or at least should – but perhaps you are correct – some don’t know). In my case, I do not want to add players (I do not want to do anything until after the year and we see what’s up with DH). I agree that simply spouting off that we just add various players to the roster is not productive. However I do not understand your philosophy with regard to #3. After 2014, Pau’s salary comes off our books free and clear. How does making a trade now help that? We need to get salary back. Are you aware of a deal where someone is going to give us 2 first round draft picks and a $19 million TPE for Pau? If so – yes – I am in favor of that – for sure : ) On the other hand, if you are proposing trading Pau for a few journeymen and vagabonds, whose contracts go beyond 14, then no (and that is all we will get – because Pau’s value is not high). Keep in mind I am no big fan of Pau’s performance and his salary is a crusher, but sometimes you just take the medicine for a short time to get better later. You declared in an earlier post that you had backed off this : ) It appears that like me with the DH acquisition, that only one thing will scratch your itch : )

  27. Dont blame fish January 13, 2013 at 8:37 am

    I think that our problems are in the defensive end. Nash could make every type of adjust leading the O, but what we really have to fix is the D.

  28. Warren,
    What’s difficult for me to wrap my mind around is that trading Pau now *specifically for salary relief* is the timing of it all. The Lakers have known about their tax commitment for next season since the new CBA came into action. If they were really looking to avoid the tax payment, they surely would have been more aggressive to make a move to lessen the burden before the season started.

    Said another way, it’s awful planning to say “let’s make a trade in-season to lessen our tax burden for the following season.” Furthermore, they could make a trade during the upcoming off-season but even that requires a certain set of circumstances for the Lakers to even save payroll (trade Pau to a team under the cap and/or take back high valued non-guaranteed contracts). To me, it’s a pretty big disconnect to say “they HAVE to do this now because they can’t pay that bill next season.”

    No, what makes more sense is that the Lakers have seen that big tax payment coming for some time. With the influx of their big TV dollars and the fact that they’ll surely avoid the repeater tax simply by letting the current contracts on their books expire when they’re set to, they can eat one year of a really high tax and then rake in the cash in the following seasons. Furthermore, the plan has always been (at least publicly) to give *this team* a chance to win. This season has been the worst case scenario in terms of player health and the building of team chemistry. With a coaching change made early in the year, Howard clearly not yet 100% each night, Nash missing so much time, Pau in and out of the lineup, Blake out for all but 5 games, and Hill now done for the year, it’s pretty clear *this team* hasn’t had much of a chance to show what they can do. Based off that (and, if you care to believe him, what Jim Buss says) the FO still wants to see what this team can do.

    At this point, the roster is what it is. I know you want to change it (and you’re not alone there). But just as you’ve talked about the *desires* of people to hold on to Pau and how that flies in the face of what’s best for the team, I think the *desires* of people that want to make a trade don’t account for the fact that the Lakers have created a pretty clean transition plan by making the moves they have — both in terms of getting key players they want (Nash, Howard) and in structuring player contracts to all expire at the same time (and before the team pays the repeater tax). I understand there are trades that *could* be made that meet accomplish multiple things and still keep that plan intact. I also know trading is incredibly difficult and, in going back to my first point, the FO seems more than content to see what *this team* can do when fully healthy under this coach. Even if that means going into next year with a similar team.

  29. Assuming Dwight re-ups, out payroll will be 100M having 8 players: Kobe, Metta, Pau, Nash, Blake, Duhon, Hill, Sacre and Howard. Assuming you can spend 10M for 6 more guys, thats a 110M payroll paying 127M in taxes alone.

    Do I miss something here or are we simply amnestying Pau? Coz there is NO WAY you’re paying 127M in taxes alone.

  30. I would just like to point out that if we indeed not trade Pau, the odds of dealing him out next season for a player or players that will lessen our tax burden (its 127m without the repeater tax btw) becomes ridiculously small.

  31. Warren,
    No, you didn’t miss anything. Though, I you seem to be implying the Lakers’ front office is missing something by pointing out the numbers in a way that make it seem like that number can’t be paid for *one season*. Some reports had the Lakers TV contract as worth up to 5 Billion over 25 years. In other words, $200 million a year just from their TV contract. Add in their gate receipts and it’s even more money.

    It’s not my money and I’ve never been one to say how this team needs to spend it. However, a revenue source that high likely allows them one year of an insane tax payment. Especially when you consider they’ll be under the tax the following season and be a *recipient* of tax payments from the other teams over the tax. I mean, for the 2014-15 season the Lakers will get revenue from teams like the Knicks, Nets, etc who are over the tax line. Long term planning says, they can eat a tough payroll/tax year if it’s only one. And, based off how they’ve actually set up their contracts, that seems to be their plan.

    Are you saying an injury riddled season changes that?

  32. Im currently asking Larry Coon if the math here is correct so advance apologies if its not. The computation I made is based on Coon’s cbafaq #21.

    That amount is not with the repeater tax yet.

  33. Btw, Zephid broke down what the payroll would look like next season with a payroll of around $100 million in this post: http://www.forumblueandgold.com/2012/09/03/mo-money-mo-problems/

  34. Again, I do love and still hope for this team to be what we all hoped ot would be. But I am just being realistic, andbif indeed the number of 227M for 1 season in payroll and taxes is acceptable and possible then consider me corrected in all aspects. I just don’t see it.

    Oh and by the way, IF we were winning and have a real shot at it and not just fighting for the improbable 7th/8th seed I would give it a chance.

  35. Very well written post there although I’m in the minority that feels Nash’s production is already good enough or scores enough for that matter. He gives you a near double-double on any given night and he’s 39. Being a terrific shooter throughout his career, it’s reasonable to say he should shoot more but those who didn’t follow Nash in Phoenix (last season esp) probably aren’t aware that Nash has tone down a lot when it comes to scoring. I really believe he feels that he is getting up that in age and physically isn’t that strong any more which is why he is leaning more towards setting up for his team mates and only takes the shot when he feels the need to. I can recall several instances when Nash posted 15 assists last season,and that is with a mediocre Phoenix team that really gelled together. But we should know that he is no longer the offensive threat that can weaves through the defence like he used to able(w/o turning the ball often).

    Now with all that said, the games against Cavs and Bucks are totally winnable and all-time crucial. Expect to see Nash being more aggressive.

  36. Warren: If we have no chance this year, then that would be all the more reason not to do anything drastic. You seem to be skeptical on our chances (rightfully so), so why would that make trading a better option? Yes we need shooters and younger players, but is selling Pau at a desperate auction the way to get those? As a fan, I care very much about our cap situation, but I could care less about taxes. If Jim is willing to pay them, then that is great and he deserves credit for doing that. Saving Jim taxes does not help us on the court. We only help ourselves on the court by getting all the way down to the cap and we can’t do that until after 14. I will concede that Darius and I being in total lockstep on this is a bit unusual – and probably concerning for Darius : )

  37. Warren,
    Not to pick on you here, but the flaw in your logic is your last sentence: “Oh and by the way, IF we were winning and have a real shot at it and not just fighting for the improbable 7th/8th seed I would give it a chance.”

    While it’s a debatable point, the Front Office obviously feels there have been extenuating circumstances that have limited their ability to compete at a higher level up to this point in the season. To take a page from your book, IF the team was fully healthy with Dwight 100% and showing no ill affects from injury, Nash having not missed a game, Pau not dealing with his various physical ailments, and Blake/Hill were available and this team was still performing this poorly, I’d imagine they’d be inclined to change gears in the manner you’ve laid out. That simply hasn’t been the case, though.

    So, again, this team came into the season with a plan to win with this roster. Some things have gone wrong and made it more difficult. But you seem to be implying that they ignored the upcoming tax hit altogether and it’s only apparent now that they have this huge payment coming next year. I just don’t see that as plausible. What makes much more sense is that they new the hit was coming, are willing to take it for one year, or have a plan to do something about it over the summer (like amnestying a player) to reduce the hit on their wallet. In any event, changing course mid-season based off what was surely a worst case scenario part of their planning process seems a bit strange. (And, yes, I do think those within the front office imagined this type of season was possible. All analysts thought injuries could catch up with this team and they’d have struggles. I don’t think anyone thought it would be to this extent in terms of injuries and struggles, but all plans involve best/worst case scenario planning. At least all good plans made by smart people do. Both of those terms describe the Lakers’ brass, in my opinion.)

  38. How about just sitting back, seeing what the Lakers spend, and stop trying to read their minds? Jim Buss said something about wanting to do all they can to win while Kobe’s in his final years. He said something about liking their chances if they’re healthy, and not blowing up a “solid” team. No predictions from me, but a few clues are available.

  39. Contrary to what most casual fans pov, I too consider our top brass as one of the, if not THE best in town. So consider me as a huge fan of the moves they made.

    Using the term possible but highly improbable, it is my view that our FO didnt see this coming. Atleast not THIS BAD. They have considered it a possibility that Dwight would’ve just started playing in January (early reports seem to suggest so) and that we could be hovering at 2-3 games above .500 or so.

    What has happened to the Lakers is the worst case scenario and for a team surrounded with glamour its just seems double as bad. My suggestion actually constitutes media suicide as I understand it but its in my view worse than amnestying Pau next year.

    Pau Gasol traded, as supposed to being amnestied just sounds more appealing to me. Not for guys whose contracts exceed 2014 obviously, but for guys that actually preserve the health of Nash and Kobe. For what its worth, I just see it more from the financial standpoint given my orientation and not from the aspect of being patient. I just dont see the team’s performance over the last couple of months to improve by much. I could very well be wrong. I hope I am.

  40. Darius, I gotta agree with Warren and believe that we will see a change to reduce payroll because looking at how we have played and with Dantoni as our coach going forward we will most likely see a move for pieces that fit with what dantoni wants to do and because Pau really is not worth the 19 Million he is being paid.

    Now in my objective opinion, that would be terrible, Dantoni went on record saying that if he cant get gasol to work in is system there is nothing wrong with gasol there is something wrong with him, so far its on Dantoni for not making it work, now he has said he will make changes when gasol comes back but if we dont see changes in these next 10 games then we know that either Gasol is in full decline or Dantoni is so stubborn to stick to his system that we will lose one of the best big men in the game to play his stupid small ball that will never win.

    Can we do anything with Dantoni – no – we would then be paying 3 coaches roughly 4 million per year for the next 3 years …. which is also the same cost of phil.

    If gasol is moved we will also see what our team has become since Phil has left with little semblance of the teams that actually won – we have now come very close to doing the full non-phil rebuild that was perplexing all of us when Brian Shaw wasnt hired the first time, we fired all our our scouting department, and had Karma kick our asses these past few years, it could also mean we are due for a much longer playoff/overall success drought that what happened between 04-08 – losing what will most likely be a lottery pick in the nash trade was a big mistake on the FO – Pheonix was either going to get 4 picks and 3 million for nash or…. nothing – who had leverage… us – why would we not place a lottery restriction on the pick even if it was just a top 3-5-10 protection – a protected pick is still better than no pick to pheonix.

    If we could have a post up about what we are even trying to do on defense it would be great in the past we had posts on the SSZ and looking at specific player rotations to show how we were playing well during the past few championships or even a post to compare and contrast to some of the better teams because we all know our defense is what is at fault – we are scoring near 100 Pts per game – offense isint a problem – allowing 120 pts per game is.

  41. Not to stir up more controversy than whats already on the table but I do believe trading Pau (given the right return) aids more in gaining in the ability to defend overall and giving our coach a roster that he’s more comfortable playing with. I care less about his image or so, but giving him the right roster as opposed to trying to accommodate Pau is a more productive thing to do given that it cant go any worse for us this season.

    Just one man’s point of view.

  42. I bet that OKC and Miami Heat looking at Lakers’s payroll and said that they wish to have 100 mil dollars to build a team. The main problem of Lakers FO is that they don’t understand NBA players, they thought these players are man of steel, look at Gasol, he played for Spain in the summer, what does it mean for Lakers in 2012-2013 season ? The guy won’t play good in the long season 82 games, you don’t have to wait until now and realize oh man , this guy can’t play, and when they hire MDA, they still think his offense can work with 2 big guys. I was surprised when they got Howard, i like Howard too, but they should wait one more year to make sure Howard can play before they decide to make a trade for him.

  43. if you want to win in kobes last years you dont bring in steve nash and dwight howard

    they dont fit kobe…and they dont fit the new NBA.

    in an era of fast point guards..stretch fours and doit all small forwards…we have none..and can defend none..

    even when healthy this is not a good mix

  44. People blaming the FO need to seriously get a grip, blaming them for the sacking of Brown so early in the season and the appointment of MDA I can understand.

    Blaming them for the players who were brought in to help Kobe though? with the current make-up of the team and the contract/salary situation they’re in what else could they of done?

    They went and got the best AVAILABLE PG in Nash and a C in D12 whom they were more comfortable in handing the reins to. FO did the best they could under the circumstances.

    I seriously doubt they will make any sort of move, other than FA’s. Making a trade now pretty much invalidates your plan of going into 2014′s FA class with as much salary as possible.

    In my mind this year is a wash anyway, literally ZERO chance of winning anything and I certainly fail to see how next year will be any better either. Not with this bunch anyway, they may or may not be more competitive next year though.

    I’ve already accepted the fact I’ll be waiting for 2014, whether or not MDA is still here or not by that point I have no idea, what I do know is only D12 (hopefully) & Nash will be on that 2014 roster.

  45. Forum Blue and Gold is on fire. Great articles and posts. Keep it coming!

  46. How does trading Pau reduce payroll Warren. What comes back must match. Unless they are all on last year contracts. That solves nothing and who cares! $200 mill or $60 mill it’s not our money. The issue is the personnel. Teams like Golden State and Denver seem to compete with half the payroll.

    Duhon, Meeks, Jamison, Blake, Metta are all overpaid. As are 2 coaches for a 12 place team. If those 5 plus Pau were 3 good both
    way players these discussion would not exist. Sorry but I still question the moves by the front office every time some 7th man comes in to score 20 plus off the bench aganist the Lakers.

    Fact is this team plays like a $60 million dollar team and that in the end is all that matters to me!

  47. I see my man Robert is trotting out the “vagabonds” thing again. You have the same problem Kupchak does, my friend: you don’t take the middle of the roster seriously enough. That is why you thought the Lakers had the best team in the NBA after the Howard deal. And, like I said, unless you no longer believe in Kobe and Howard, what to do with the rest of the roster is the big question, not an irrelevant one.

    You may point once again to the Sessions and Hill deals. I overrated Sessions a bit although I think he was utilized poorly. But I think there is general agreement that Hill was a useful guy and presumably will be again when he returns. And, again, these choices matter IF you have the guys at the top you need–and the Lakers have Kobe and Howard.

    As to dealing Pau, that comes down to how committed they are to D’Antoni and what they think Howard is going to do. If they are 100% sure that D’Antoni is their guy, then they need to try to move Pau for a couple of guys who fit what D’Antoni wants to do and who can help the middle of the roster. OTOH, If they think Howard is leaving, then they will probably want Pau to be the 5 in the last year of his deal.

    It goes without saying that they need to to do this without materially increasing the 2014-15 salary commitments, and it goes without saying that Pau’s trade value has cratered and moving him will be difficult. I think the Busses are clearly planning to pay the big tax next year and then cut back; Pau’s situation doesn’t really change that either way.

  48. As to Nash and the subject of the post, I am not really blaming him for playing his game. But I would like to see him shoot more, for two simple reasons:

    1. The Lakers’ current big rotation consists of Earl Clark, Robert Sacre, and Antawn Jamison.
    2. He is the team’s best 3-point shooter.

  49. rr: I was wondering when you were going to weigh in here : ) I do not think we are that far apart. Like you say the tax situation is what it is – agreed. The ideas about Pau that you previously shared with me are predicated on some important questions as you state. What is MD’s future? What about DH? What’s the plan post 14? Is this year a bust? As we agreed – if we can fleece someone for Pau (good “middle of the roster” players with good contracts – which is a pipe dream), then let’s do it. If not let’s wait. The answers to the questions are debatable, but the fact that they should be answered before acting dramatically is not. For the record – my answers: Sign DH; say good-bye to MD after the year is over – not during; let things ride for the most part for the remainder of this year and next (unless – as I say we can completely fleece someone for Pau – which is not happening). With these answers we root for the best this year and next, but we don’t mortgage the future beyond 14. Let me know if you agree – after all – you are the basketball mind in this conversation – I am just the owner. You can count on me to be a dream owner. I will spend as much as possible, and I will allow you the final decisions. Mitch gets the former from Jim, but not necessarily the later : )

  50. Also would like to her what people think about not just next year but the year after. yes the roster is old but not that old if you take away Pau and/or can substantially retool not next year but perhaps the year after. So even if this year is a bust there is next year and in my opinion the year after as well. Here is why..Nash in a limited role as he has been with a solid back up PG (say a Jose Calderon or someone of that or lesser ilk and there are a lot of guys hanging around), can play at a pretty respectable level for a few more years (think Jason Kidd but more effective). Kobe also has another couple of years and we will see what develops with DH.

    Kobe would have to be at a much reduced salary as he can’t take more than 20 mil anyway and would presumably take somewhat less (and Pau if still around would be at a big reduction salary wise). So I could see no more than 62-63 mil base salary for Nash/kobe/Howard/Jordan Hill…That leaves a lot of options for a solid bench, some decent utility players and a solid back up PG assuming that they are prepared to go say 10-15 mill over a likely increased cap (by then). Do people agree?

  51. Everyone keeps poo pooing the roster. This team just scored 112, 105 and 101 points without dwight, pau and hill. Roster talent isn’t hampering their ability to score over 100 every game.

    Those same 3 games they gave up 125, 108 and 116 points. That’s the problem not roster talent it’s defense and coaching.

    Lakers have scored over 100 points in 19 of last 21 games averaging (106 pts) in that span. But only 8 wins to show for that superior offense. In that same time they’ve given up 100 points 16 of last 21 games defense giving up an average of (106.8 pts) a game. If the offense is talented and good enough to score 106 the defense with the same talent should be good enough to not allow 106 too. I know some of those games are mainly Lakers playing catch up but we can’t deny the Lakers ability to score. Even with Kobe shooting too much, Pau playing below average, the bench nonexsistent and absolutely no cohesion on that side of the ball. Lakers are good enough to score they should be good enough to play defense. And they need the coaches help to become better in that department.

  52. Offense is not the problem. Even if nash scores more, doesn’t matter if the lakers allow opponents to score 120 plus points on 60% shooting. nuff said.

  53. I think the real problem is the decline in Paus play. The lakers should never have extended him, but at the time it seemed like the right thing to do. Now they have a 20 million dollar player than can’t even jump & a 7 footer who shoots 40% and can’t score over anyone.

  54. My complaint during the losing preseason was that the Lakers were concentrating on implementing the Princeton while neglecting the defense. Generally, a team implementing a new offense utilizes their defense to win games while waiting to gel on the offensive side. The Lakers did neither which necessitated a coaching change five games into the season.

    Enter MDA whom preached wait until Nash returns then you’ll see our offensive prowess. Just as with Brown the ability to get points was not the problem; it was the Lakers inability to make consecutive stops during the game.

    Most championship teams preach, defense and rebounds as a road to identifying the league’s best team. The Lakers ceased talk about defensive rotations, 50/50 balls, boxing out for rebounds and personal accountability the first few games this roster played games.

    The offense has been the red herring to mask the defensive deficiencies and lack of athleticism. Not once this season has Kobe called the team out for defense, he speaks in generalities about the team’s chances making the playoffs. If indeed the team is, “old and slow as +)*&” then the Lakers need to play smarter. That means no PUJF3 (pull up jumpers from the 3pt line) by anyone without the offense being probed for better options. If the Lakers slow the game down to maximize the skill set of this team and hold each other’s feet to the fire on defense and rebounding responsibilities. They may actually have something to build off of for next season.

    Regardless of Nash’s predilection on how he sees fit to distribute the ball, the Lakers sacrificed a lot to purchase a pg that does what the team needs to win a game. He cannot now become passive in deference to any player on the Lakers: Particularly, when they are having problems winning games. If Nash is not going to be aggressive on offense and is incapable of playing defense, then what was the point of purchasing his services? The Lakers could have brought Derek Fisher back for the veteran minimum and retained their draft pick and TPE.

    MDA has to find a way to get more out of Nash in fewer minutes than he is currently logging. That way Nash can play harder in spurts each quarter. The thought of less Nash is depressing as we have meager options behind him. C’est la vie.

  55. Rusty Shackleford January 13, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    Fix the defense. I think even if they could piece things together and sneak into the playoffs Mike D’Antoni would be shown once again that, without defense, one can’t win championships. To me, that is where this season seems lost.

  56. nice writeup!

    I notice atleast about 5 times per game, Nash is wide open on the perimeter and either Artest or Kobe ignore him and launch their own long range shot. It’s going to take a little more unselfishness from those 2 guys to recognize that Nash is a better long range gunner than them in order for things to work.

  57. Honestly don’t think defensive issues are primarily about Mike D. With this roster, (i.e. not enough youth and athleticism in the 1-3 spot) this cannot be a great defensive team, and can’t be a pretty good defensive team till DH is %100 on a nightly basis. When that happens, and with others healthy enough and happy, I think they have the potential to be a good enough defensive team (say top 10-12). That plus a top 2 or 3 offensive team is their ticket for success.

    Those goals are attainable I still think, though they will take time and patience (where that commodity is running very thin) and the injury to JHill doesn’t help.

    As for Mike D, I think he gets a hugely bad rap, that is associated with having the epically bad and thoroughly uncoachable Amare as his defensive anchor for almost all of his years. In the one year that Amare was out, Phoenix was top 5 defensively with a healthy Kurt Thomas, Raja Bell and Shawn Marion anchoring a D that included the average defence of Boris Diaw and Steve Nash. Also, here in LA, Mike D has retained the whole assistant staff so it can’t be all on him. To me its yet again the perfect storm of no training camp under MD, DH’s injuries, and bad chemistry emanating from offensive questions that have led to these issues. Yes perhaps the lakers were a bit better defensively last year, but that was with a pretty stagnant offence, playing in a familiar system, at a slow pace, and expending little offensive energy and with a better set up and healthier roster.

  58. “Those same 3 games they gave up 125, 108 and 116 points. That’s the problem not roster talent it’s defense and coaching.

    Lakers have scored over 100 points in 19 of last 21 games averaging (106 pts) in that span. But only 8 wins to show for that superior offense. In that same time they’ve given up 100 points 16 of last 21 games defense giving up an average of (106.8 pts) a game. If the offense is talented and good enough to score 106 the defense with the same talent should be good enough to not allow 106 too. I know some of those games are mainly Lakers playing catch up but we can’t deny the Lakers ability to score. Even with Kobe shooting too much, Pau playing below average, the bench nonexsistent and absolutely no cohesion on that side of the ball. Lakers are good enough to score they should be good enough to play defense. And they need the coaches help to become better in that department.”

    Yes, defense is no doubt the biggest problem with this team. To put it shortly, their defense is horrible. But it is not just that Mike D doesn’t preach defense, but rather the team is too old. Reinforces the idea that changes need to take place. But lets also be real here, their offense is not exactly great. Lakers score a lot of points based off of talent, and not the system. In other words, guys like Kobe, Nash, and even WP need to put a lot of energy into the offense to score and therefore they cannot put as much energy into their defense. The Lakers offense also turns the ball over a lot, which further effects their defense because they can’t get back to defend anyone. Did you see how bad this was against OKC? So yes, the defense needs work, but it is the Lakers offense is actually what causes a lot of the bad defense. If the Lakers offense had guys who could knock down more shots and had much more balance overall, then their defense would be a lot better. Whether it happens this season or next, the only way this team can succeed is if they trade at least 1 or 2 of their top big 4 (except Kobe) and get some younger, faster, more athletic talent. They may only need to make 1 move because I have high hopes with Clark.

  59. Robert,

    You have read the MDA hire better than I did to this point, so we are on at least equal footing as “basketball minds.”

    As to Howard, I would sign him bad back and all, but where he plays next year is of course his choice to make–which makes things tricky. I will weigh in in more detail later, either here or via email.

    Kevin,

    You are correct to an extent of course, but as WWL and some others have pointed out, defense is not entirely about focus and coaching. The Lakers’ roster lacks youth, quickness, length, hops, and hands. The plan was to compensate for these failings with a Top 3 offense and Dwight Howard. Hasn’t worked out at all.

    While WWL’s and Robert’s big picture questions are of course important, short-term I would insist on two things if I were Buss:

    1. That the Lakers get a young D-first wing player out of the DLeague and stick him in the rotation playing about 15 minutes a game, and then more if he looks decent. Obviously such a player would be very limited, but I think having a defensive specialist on this roster is a must and such players can be obtained cheaply and on short deals. If D’Antoni is unwilling to play Ebanks, then Ebanks needs to go and they need to add a wing whom D’Antoni will put on the floor. Kobe, Meeks, and Metta need help on D.
    2. That we see some sort of change in the defensive philosophy and coaching–immediately. This could take the form of hiring a consultant, giving more responsibility to Person and Bickerstaff, playing some zone, or some combo thereof. But whatever happens with Pau, Howard, D’Antoni and the payroll, and whether they sneak in to the 8th spot or end up out of the postseason entirely, they need to show that they are trying to do something about the defense–right now.

  60. Rusty Shackleford January 13, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    Who’da thought Earl Clark would be a silver lining at any point in this season?

  61. I dont care if Nash is scoreless and no assist. Team defense is what they need. Consistently!

  62. Blah blah blah. Same thing being said over & over again. It’s simple. We need to play better defense to win games. The end.

  63. There are several reasons that Nash is shooting less this season. He’s on a new team, and he’s no longer “the man” on that team. He defers to Kobe for that reason. They are learning a new offensive system. Nash is trying to help the rest of the team learn the system. There are egos on this team that demand a certain number of shots or they are not going to be happy. When Howard doesn’t get his touches, his defense suffers. When you don’t pass the ball to Kobe, he is going to shoot every time he gets it. Nash has said that his role is to get everyone involved. For the reasons I’ve already given it’s unlikely that he’s going to shoot a lot more than he is shooting now. Once the offense is running like it should he probably won’t need to. I would like to see him shooting more, but I don’t think he will unless D’Antoni asks him to. For those who think Nash is no longer capable of scoring, that’s just ridiculous.