Around The World (Wide Web): A Team Meeting, Mike D, Two All-Stars, Continued Losing

Ryan Cole —  January 24, 2013

From Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo Sports: Beyond the personal animus and the uncertainty over Phil Jackson’s willingness to endure the job’s grind, the biggest issue Lakers vice president Jim Buss had with choosing Jackson over Mike D’Antoni as head coach centered on the consequences for Steve Nash. With no use for this point guard in the triangle offense, Buss’s fear was that Jackson would’ve pushed to move Nash out, sources said. Buss passed on the Lakers’ glorious championship legacy to attach his franchise to the desert mirage of D’Antoni and Nash, a reunion tour born of a one-dimensional, gimmick offense and a point guard pushing 39 years old. “The way this turns out,” one league source connected to the hiring process said, “you’ve chosen not only Steve Nash over [Pau] Gasol, but maybe over Gasol and Dwight [Howard].”

From Eric Pincus, LA Times: The team concept has 13 to 15 players coming together to make each other better. With a good team, individual flaws can be overcome.  The Lakers are simply not a good team, not this year. Whether they’ll find themselves before it’s too late remains to be seen.  Where has there been any true improvement? Steve Nash has always struggled defensively through his career.  Kobe Bryant will do too much on offense and get lost on defense playing “center field.” Nash won back-to-back MVP awards as the same, limited defender.  Bryant’s headstrong style of play has helped lead the Lakers to five NBA championships. Dwight Howard doesn’t have a refined post game and can’t shoot free throws – and yet he and theOrlando Magic made it to the Finals. Pau Gasol can be bothered by physical play but he’s a two-time champion. Mike D’Antoni has little reputation for coaching defensively but his run in Phoenix with the Suns helped revolutionize the game. As a group the Lakers are older, slower and deflated.  They’ve had injuries, coaching changes and too many failures to comprehend. The Lakers are exposed for all their flaws, making each and every individual look worse than they are.  There’s nowhere to hide – no one covering for their teammates.

From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen & Roll: On Sunday, February 17th, the NBA will hold its 2013 All Star Game in Houston, Texas. When the game tips off, the Los Angeles Lakers will represent 20% of the players taking the court, 40% of those donning the Western Conference jerseys. Not too shabby for a team that will probably miss the playoffs. Such is the weird state of the Los Angeles Lakers, in which a team full of top flight talent is vastly under-performing. Here’s the thing, though: Kobe and Dwight … kinda deserve to be there. At least as far as the numbers go. Kobe is scoring off the charts, and until the last three games, he was doing so at an efficiency that was historic in his already historic career.And Dwight, though nowhere near the form that people associate with him, is still just about good enough to be considered a legitimate All Star. He’s leading the league in rebounding by a sizable margin (though Anderson Varejao was killing him prior to the season ending blood clot injury he sustained).

From Kevin Ding, OC Register:  Communication is good. Health would be better.Defense would be best.The Lakers lost again Wednesday night, falling to the Memphis Grizzlies, 106-93. “Just another chapter in a difficult season,” Steve Nash said. The Lakers took another injury hit with Dwight Howard aggravating the labrum injury to his right shoulder a couple minutes before halftime. Unlike last time he hurt it and the pain faded, Howard said after the game: “It still hurts.” Howard has been doing exercises to strengthen the shoulder and protect against aggravation, but it happened anyway and he will be evaluated by a specialist Thursday. Howard’s absence contributed to the Lakers’ seventh consecutive road loss, and they haven’t won a road game in more than a month. The unity that they hoped would come from a team meeting earlier in the day was blown away by another wave of defensive breakdowns after sundown. They now have lost 10 of their past 12 overall to drop to 17-25.

From Dave McMenamin, ESPN LA:  In order to move forward and turn around their disappointing season, the Los Angeles Lakers attempted to let go of their past frustrations with a team meeting Wednesday. Prior to a shootaround in preparation for Wednesday night’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies, coach Mike D’Antoni invited members of the Lakers to air their grievances, according to a team source. Several players spoke up, including Steve Nash andKobe Bryant, the 17-year veterans who make up the Lakers’ backcourt.Bryant asked Dwight Howard if he was bothered by playing alongside him, according to the Los Angeles Times, which first reported the meeting. Bryant acknowledged he could be “hard to play with,” according to the newspaper, and challenged Howard to speak up if he had a problem with it. Howard was “despondent” and did not offer much of a reply, according to a team source.

 

Ryan Cole

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44 responses to Around The World (Wide Web): A Team Meeting, Mike D, Two All-Stars, Continued Losing

  1. wow.. feels like it’s time to face it…
    the fat lady is singing.

    loved the quote about Buss is picking Nash/D’A over PJ/Pau/D12
    that does make sense, and does kind of help me understand why this team, put together over the summer, had everyone expecting another ring, is where it’s at now. Buss Jr has to have a hand in all of this.
    now more than ever, it’s feeling like it shudda been PJ, and we all kind of know that with Jr, it was personal. I think he thought the assembled talent would overcome any coach (bad or good) but now it’s really apparent, these players need a coach they respect, enough to buy into a system installed by said coach… and it’s not D’A

  2. Dwight gets called out by Kobe and had no comeback? What a shock.

    How long after the All-Star break does he fake a season-ending injury, to complete his journey of mailing in the past three seasons and resoundingly dethroning Dennis Rodman as the Lakers’ Worst High-Profile Addition Ever? (That “honor” may be he only thing Dwight wins this year.)

  3. Ryan: You pretty much summed it up in the headline. Saved me the reading : )
    Aaron: He did not make every move I wanted : ) And please name the 2014 All NBA #5 man.
    T Rogers: I can’t argue with your view. What irks me is where I see articles that say we are going to match MD’s system. On what basis are we keeping him and nuking everyone else?
    Team Meeting: Sounds like we could not even pull off an effective meeting. How would we ever play together?

  4. Unless that meeting produced speed and talent..it was a waste.

    The truth is old people dont get back on defense..thats why you can only have one old man on the court at a time.

    Kobes arguing…paus pouting..nash is walking..world peace is lumbering..and dwight is already under the rim. whos back on d? Nobody

    Every game the same thing…a few turnovers a few bad kobe shots…a 10 point run now the game is out of reach.

  5. If every game was played at a slow pace where players could only jog, Lakers would be a great team……problem is, you are allowed to run in the NBA, and the Lakers cant run.

  6. From preseason palace to midseason outhouse, it’s been a long fall.

  7. Being a Laker fan this season is like going thru Chinese water torture. With each game, the Lakers are getting closer and closer to mathematical elimination from the post-season. At 17-25, our team is officially in the 2nd half of their season and this can’t end fast enough.

    Now to be perfectly fair, I really can’t complain. Since I became a Laker fan at the tender age of 13 in 1965, the Lakers have only missed the post-season four times in 47 years. And more importantly in that time have won the NBA championship 11 times…11 times. How many non-Laker fans can say that about their team, in any sport?

    So I guess my team is due for a disaster of a season, easily the worst in their history when you consider pre-season expectation. With that in mind, I’m writing off the rest of the Lakers 2012-2013, and turning my focus to 2013-2014.

    If the season ended today, the Lakers would be tied with Philly for the 10th pick in the draft, a lottery pick…but the Lakers don’t own a pick in the upcoming draft, we sent it to the Suns for Nash. In addition, Kobe will collect $30,000,000 next season, ouch!

    So I believe the Lakers should attempt to move whoever can get them unprotected 1st round draft picks this year &/or next season along w/ expiring contracts. Because unfortunately next season won’t be as bad as this one, but by Laker standards it will only be remembered as Kobe’s last year.

    So how does the upcoming draft look?

  8. not that I expected to generate any great conversation, but why is my comment stuck in mod?

  9. I’m all set to write off this season. Just saw Black Hawk Down a few nights ago. There is that scene where an injured American is losing blood through his femoral. It is seeping slowly out while pressure is on, but he will bleed out of they don’t clamp it soon. So, they pull off the bandage and try to get a hold of the artery and close it. Blood pools in the wound. Someone’s hand is in there trying to pull up that slippery worm while it’s still throbbing. He loses it twice and the next time he has a hold of it again it’s stopped throbbing. This team has no heart beat.

    None of us will ever know what move would have made a bottom of the standings team into a contender. Would less injuries have been the difference? Perhaps a different coach? This team is so bad that I have a feeling there was never much of a chance for this team to begin with. It’s one thing to find a dead spot on the court and get a bad bounce. I’m picking up the ball and it feels light. It’s lopsided with some rubber bubbles bulging out the mesh of torn seams. With all that said, I need my fix and I guess I’ll keep playing. I’ve adjusted my expectations and honestly there are elements to this team to enjoy if you don’t care if they win. Watching Kobe at all times, Meta’s D, Nash’s passes (that aren’t picked off), Earl Clark’s hustle, Pau falling down.

    It’s time to think about the next iteration of this team. We need athletes. We need youth. We need to start a new era. I’ll be happy with moves, either by the deadline or leading to the draft, that injects potential into this team. If one move or two gets us a reasonable draft pick or two this season, great. Bring in young, skilled, hungry players to put around whatever top-flight FA we might get in the next few off seasons. Pull the starters. It’s over.

  10. Kooo: Did not see last night’s poker reference until now – nice. The Lakers are looking like dead money right now.

    This article references Jerry Jones, which I have said several times, is the way Jim operates.
    http://sports.yahoo.com/news/jim-buss-ruining-lakers-examining-slow-painful-path-215400296–nba.html

  11. The Wojnarowski article above is brutal. Hard to believe that I am reading about things that actually happened. I feel I am in some parallel evil universe where the Lakers forgot – they were the Lakers (footnote credit to rr)

  12. WoW, I read Adrians post and said WOW! Man, no other words.I felt down on this season. Yeah, truth hurts.

  13. on the bright side, at least they did not embarrass themselves further more by partying and celebrating their “1,2,3…” rings at the beginning of the season:(((((

  14. @ Pinch, nice piece, and exactly my point. Lakers need to give up whoever it takes to start getting draft picks this year & next. This is a complete gut job and won’t truly get under way until Kobe’s $30 mill is off the books also.

  15. Im bummed that the season turned out the way it did, one fact remains, the team will not be scared to pay for talent too come to LA when salaries come off. Which makes having to live through this catastrophe a little less disheartning. It didnt work, so back to the drawing board with a good plan for 2013/2014. FO made good moves as far as the Pau4Paul, and even the NashnHoward that has fizzled this year. It just wasnt meant to be for LA this year.

  16. I know we love debating and ranting about our team, but lost in all the Laker talk is the fact the Celtics have looked equally as woeful. If not for a terrible eastern conference the Celtics would be barely in the play-off themselves.

    Here you have two of the greatest franchises in world sport, let alone the NBA looking for answers.

    Almost feels like a coming to an end party, struggling to find reasons for optimism for the future.

  17. It’s not the end of the world. Every sports dynasty finally ends. We’ve been blessed and incredibly lucky to have had the ride we’ve had w/ Kobe. A decade of championships is insane.

    It can be fun watching teams rebuild. There’ll be moments like in ’75 when we traded almost a whole lineup to get Kareem. Or the mid 90′s teams w/ Vlade, Eddie Jones, and Nicky V, who always over achieved.

    I think most folks would admit even this season has been a rush: snagging Dwight and Nash, then firing Brown. Though now it looks like we’re heading over the falls….

  18. I think we have seen enough of Dwight’s act to know he isn’t the future. the FO should move him to the highest bidder ASAP. I was previously in favor of moving Pau (it seems clear that one of them has to go) but my view now is that Dwight is the problem. just doesn’t get it. let another team deal with the never-ending drama, the pouting, and the excuses.

  19. Now I am really convinced that Jerry West is a genius. Who would trade a Center in his prime that can shoot, pass & defend for a HS Kid? Who would let go of players like E.Jones, Cebalos, Nick V. for complimentary pieces for the team? Who would let go of a third option in Glen Rice immediately after winning a championship ring?

  20. Dwight is a headcase for sure, however, you need talent to win and it doesn’t get too much better than Dwight.

    The Lakers have been great at being patient, hopefully they find a way to keep Dwight. (for all of you that think he is the one and only reason why this team is bad, then you do not know basketball… his stats are still fantastic despite his injuries)

    i got something in the works that will allow all of us to be GMs for nba teams… >:) … Just gotta be patient :)

  21. @BigCity Sidd

    Man your are more obsessed with Kobe than Abbott,chill out.

  22. Just a warning guys, might have to stop the Phil talk. One of my close friends is one of the investor group working on the Seattle deal. They are going hard after Phil as President of Basketball operations. Deep pockets up there. You heard it here first. By the way for Robert, rr, Aaron and others I may have two extra tickets (free!) during 3 game home stand. If so I will post it here tomorrow.

  23. As I understand, if we will get a late first round pick in a trade, we could send it to Phoenix (Nash trade) and keep our own pick, that will be in the lottery. Am I right?

  24. And for all who says that Nash is basically the same thing as Fisher at this point in his career, look at his numbers this season (33.3 MIN, 10.9 PPG, 8.6 APG, 3.0 A/TO, 16.4 PER, .510 FG%, .409 3P%, 0.96 FT%, see http://espn.go.com/nba/team/stats/_/name/lal/los-angeles-lakers) with Fisher’s numbers last season (23.9 MIN, 5.6 PPG, 2.7 APG, 2.3 A/TO, 8.0 PER, .371 FG%, .321 3P%, 0.85 FT%, see http://espn.go.com/nba/team/stats/_/name/lal/year/2012/los-angeles-lakers). Nash is older, but he is playing more minutes, scores and dishes more (even per 36 min), and do it more efficiently in every category. Maybe he is not an elite point guard anymore, but is better than anyone Lakers have at this position in many many years.

  25. So the Bench Gasol movement, came, saw and conquered… and the Lakers lost.

    Maybe Nash should be benched too? I love Nash, and was really torn when the Lakers played his Suns (as an old PG he just blows me away). But the Lakers could start Morris at PG for defense. And let Kobe go to work of screens, and post Dwight up like he wants to.

    Then bring Pau and Nash of the bench, and hand Nash the keys to the offense. relegate Kobe to floor spacer/slasher in the high PNR, and let Nash loose. Let him probe and drible, and toy with the defense, setting everyone else up for their shots in the process.

    “harvey M” made the comment that in the last thread (January 24, 2013 at 1:54 am) that Nash didn’t look very good (or old to some eyes) when the Suns hired Terry Porter and brought Shaq in. He needs complete freedom to shine. So maybe if these guys cannot play to their full potential together, they might just need to take turns. Let the opponents game plan for two different offenses, and star the games with 5 solid defenders on the floor.

  26. Phil Jackson won Michael Jordan’s 6th NBA championship in 1998 with a CREAKY OLD OLD Chicago Bulls team that went 62-20 that year and a record 72-10 the year before.

    Here are the ages of the primary players:
    Michael Jordan = 35 years old
    Pippin = 33 years old
    Dennis Rodman = 37 years old
    Ron Harper = 34 years old
    Steve Kerr = 33 years old
    Toni Kukoc = 30 years old
    Luc Longley = 29 years old

    This means an OLD team can win the NBA Championship. It takes a great coach to lead them there.

    FIRE D’Antoni. He is a failure as a coach of the Lakers.

  27. The NBA has changed today. If you watch games back then, you will see just how much of a slower paced it was played. That is a big reason the Spurs have stopped winning titles lately. Because they have gotten older and don’t have great speed. Despite the best record last year and being so dominant, they could not keep up with the Thunder. Bulls also won all those games and championships because of their defense. They were always at top the league in defense. Rodman, Jordan, and Pippen were 3 of the best defenders in the league. So if you are going to try and win with an old team, you need a team who can defend extremely well, not give up 105-110 points a game.

  28. @ el lungo, actually I think you’re the one who more obsessed with Kobe and his individual heroics and highlights. My point and many others here, I’m glad to see is about rebuilding the TEAM into a contender. And you may find this hard to believe but it’s not the easiest thing in the world to rebuild a team in a salary capped league when ONE player (@ $30 mill) is making more than half the salary cap of $58+ million ( http://www.nba.com/2012/news/07/10/nba-salary-cap-release/index.html ). Especially when that player is close to retiring.

    Now just for full disclosure, Kobe’s $30 mill salary is for next season, and the $58+ mill salary cap is for this season, but how much is it going to really increase to? $60 mill? $65 mill?

    Bottom line: whether or not you want to admit it, Kobe’s salary does not make it any easier to turn this team around in the near future.

  29. Sid,

    You seldom get through a post without a sideswipe at Kobe, so el lungo is exactly right. You have talked about his contract several times in the last few days. If you are upset with the contract, focus your ire on the guy who approved it: Jerry Buss. There are are 5-7 guys here who fit that “Kobe is the root cause of all Laker problems” profile.

    Robert,

    We are pretty much back where we were last year–limbo, except with darker shadows around us. But, again: Buss got Paul. He tried to get Williams. He got Howard, whom you personally and repeatedly asserted would “save the franchise.” He got Nash. I get how upset you are with the D’Antoni decision, and you may well be right. But going off on Jim Buss now is pretty revisionist IMO. We don’t really know how the team would be doing under Phil. My guess is ” a bit better” but we are talking counterfactuals.

    Jameskatt,

    The 98 Bulls actually went 57-25, and it was the 1996 team that went 72-10, not the 1997 team. That said, as noted in a later post, the best arguments for Phil are that he would slow the pace down, and that he was always a pretty good defensive coach. And they are good arguments.

  30. This was a 2 year gamble, so basically need to ride this out until the post 14 era. We could totally nuke it as some are saying, but what does that mean? Get rid of everyone except Kobe? What would we get in exchange and would it add post 14 salary to our payroll? Do we have a chance to recover this year? Do we have a chance to contend next year? What is the Kobe plan? The last question is one I have raised many times and I feel it is the next FO debacle, waiting to happen. KB can play beyond next year. He may not, but he might. So we talk about starting over, and nuking everything, but what does that mean exactly? Is DH gone? Is Nash now a complete boat anchor? Most likely Pau is gone. However, the last thing I would want is for KB to be gone and the slate to be clean (you need Star players to win). Why not sign him for $12-$15 like I said before? Just because we screwed this up, let’s not throw out the Kobe with the bath water.

  31. @ Big City–All true–but it’s really a moot point. Moreover, who do you really blame? Kobe’s salary was set under the old regime—and it was justified at the time for myriad reasons, all explained by many others on the board far more eloquently than I could (poorly) regurgitate them here—the short version–Kobe makes the team money, Kobe has brought the team success, and Kobe has probably benefitted the franchise from a financial standpoint that the money wasn’t (and still isn’t )indefensible.

    As an aside–you aren’t suggesting amnesty as the solution here are you? That would be the kiss of death–what high-profile free agent is going to want to come to LA on the heels of the franchise dumping one of its three greatest all-time players?

  32. Is Kobe’s salary too high? Yup. Is it deserved? Yup. Jerry Buss once said that Kobe was worth something like 75 million a year. Kobe deserved the contract when it was signed and he still deserves it. Once it has run its course they will sign him for 10-15 million for a year or two- if the team has a chance at a title.

  33. To add to Joe M’s point, defense was played differently in the 90′s. Due to hand checking and the old “chest bump” it was possible for slow footed players to still play adequate defense. Plus, most teams played slow half court offenses as well. When they outlawed hand checking and made wing players virtually untouchable on the perimeter everything changed. In today’s game players have to defend with their feet. If not, they get ran off the floor.

  34. Lowe is just simply the smartest basketball writer in the world

    Simmons vs. Lowe: The Lakers
    http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/8872264/lakers

  35. It staggers the mind that they gave Dantoni 3years. I mean, was he getting a lot of offers elsewhere?

    Phil’s health was a concern and obviously he wanted $$$$, but I think he would’ve been willing to sign for one year. And the idea that Phil wouldn’t know what to do with a decent old pg who can shoot is idiotic. I think Phil has some pretty good experience with big men. At any rate, you don’t hire a coach for the oldest guy on your team! If you hire a coach for any one player, it has to be the youngest star or your biggest star, Dwight and Kobe, resp.

    We are so screwed.

  36. rr: “Going off on Jim Buss” I suggest you read the last couple weeks of threads and the Jim Buss related comments and I can tell you that I am a moderate on the subject. For the record, my views have not changed. Jim is great when it comes to willingness to spend money, which is a great thing for an owner. However after that – get out of the way. I have always said Jim is a meddler and nobody wants an owner who meddles. Big deals and contracts yes, as a final approver. Day to day – no. It doesn’t work to have a billionaire’s son making basketball decisions. The billionaire himself was not this involved. There is nothing revisionist about it. With regard to DH – yes – I wanted him badly – and am still glad we made the trade when looking at the alternative : ) That said – I am also wanting to keep him as I think you are – true – so what is your point? : ) With regard to MD, it was a mistake – obviously. Keeping him is compounding the mistake. Everyone including DH is playing worse because of that mistake. I still say that DH will be 1st Team All NBA in 2014, so most GM’s want that on their team. I do not think you disagree with anything of substance in this post do you? Do you want to get rid of DH? Do you want to keep MD? Do you like that Jim is directly involved or would you prefer he give it all to Mitch (power that PR has in Miami)? Let me know : )

  37. At the end of the last century, we had the best owner in sports – Jerry Buss, we had the man who wrote the NBA book on how to be a GM – Jerry West, we had the best coach in the history of the NBA in Phil Jackson, we had one of the top 5 big men of all time in Shaq, and we had the greatest Laker of all time in Kobe Bryant. We were set up to win, and that is what we did with 7 trips to the finals and 5 titles. Moving forward to now, we have replaced Jerry Buss with Jim, replaced Jerry West with Mitch, replaced Phil with MD, replaced Shaq with DH, and well Kobe is still Kobe. And here we are : )

  38. Whatever problems we’ve had – and there are a crapton – I don’t pin any of it on Mitch. Yeah, his bench acquistions left something to be desired but on the whole Mitch has done a *fantastic* job as a GM. He’s made nearly all the right moves to keep us in contention. The only things he hasn’t done right are a) sign good bench guys after 2009 and b) convince Jerry to hand the reins over to Jeanie instead of Jim. When you look at the balance of what he’s done, I’d take him over almost ANY general manager in the league. That it’s backfired so horribly this season shouldn’t diminish what he’s done in his tenure here.

  39. Lakers were recently valued at $1B. Kobe’s $30M is 3% of that. For all he has done for and meant to the Lakers, isn’t Kobe worth 3% of the Lakers?

  40. Kenny T – The valuation is not based on the value of the “personnel” – but even if it was, you can’t deny that the popularity of the Lakers is owed in great part to the team headed by Magic, Kareem and Riley (as coach). Showtime in the 80′s is what made the Lakers the juggernaut we now see. How would we value their contribution today?

    Also, I think valuation also takes into account items like TV contract rights and real estate holdings. This is the only way a franchise that up to this year has been irrelevant since the 90′s (the Knicks) has a valuation of over $1b. I’m sure a lot of it has to do with the ownership of MSG and the sick TV rights deal these guys have.

  41. Everyone including DH is playing worse because of that mistake.

    You don’t know this; you just believe it. There is a big difference between the two, and I think it is an important difference to keep in mind. Phil couldn’t make Howard’s back and shoulder better; he couldn’t make Pau, Nash, Kobe, Metta, and Jamison younger.

    As to the other issue, as Aaron said yesterday, under Buss’ supervision, or whatever you want to call it, Buss/Kupchak put together what you and many other people thought was the best team in the league. So, I think criticism of Buss at this point should be tempered, unless you actually believe that this would be the best team in the NBA with Phil as coach and therefore the D’Antoni hire nullifies every other decision. And of course we don’t know how things would be going under Phil.

    As far as Howard, yes, he will almost certainly get a max deal, and no, I don’t want to trade him. It is also OK with me if they fire D’Antoni. But that won’t solve everything.

    I think the key issues to frame discussions here are:

    1) Pretty much everybody–FO, media, stat guys, fans–was wrong about this team on one level or another. In discussing how we/they got here, that should be kept in mind.
    2) Speculating about what to do next is problematized by the fact that in a situation like this, there are things going on behind the curtain that we can’t know.