Around The World (Wide Web): Lakers Loss, Dwight’s Shoulder, D’Antoni-Pau, Nash,

Ryan Cole —  January 31, 2013

From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen & Roll: The Los Angeles Lakers have, at times, shown to have a great many problems this season. Problems with turnovers. Problems with defense. Problems with shooting. Problems with chemistry. But there is one problem that stands above all, one problem the Lakers have never shown any indication of having a solution for: When adversity has come calling, the Lakers have always, always failed to meet the call.

From Mike Bresnahan, LA Times: One by one, the Lakers were introduced before their game. Predictably, loud boos followed. But Phoenix Suns fans couldn’t dismiss the guy affectionately known as “Two-Time” around here. So they cheered whenSteve Nash’s name was called. There were some boos as well, some fans feeling slighted that Nash green-lighted a trade last July to the Lakers, a Pacific Division rival. If only they had heard what Nash told reporters before Wednesday’s game.”It’s a special, special place,” he said, summing up his 10 seasons with the Suns over two tours. “It’s unfortunate that all things come to an end, but to be able to come back and still be playing, I feel the energy here and it’s terrific.”

From Dave McMenamin, ESPN LA: The Los Angeles Lakers’ all-important seven-game road trip started off by adding insult — a 92-86 loss to the Phoenix Suns after blowing a 13-point fourth-quarter lead — to injury, with Dwight Howard aggravating the torn labrum in his right shoulder. Howard was blocked by the Suns’ Shannon Brown with 6:57 remaining in the fourth as he tried to bring the ball from his waist up to the hoop following an offensive rebound and went down to the floor in pain. Howard checked out of the game and did not return as the Suns finished on a 19-8 run without him. Howard’s shoulder will be re-evaluated Thursday after the team flies to Minneapolis and his availability for Friday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves will be determined.”It’s real sore,” Howard told reporters after icing his shoulder and applying kinesiology tape to the joint following the game. “Everything on (the right) side (of my body) is hurting pretty bad right now.”

From Marc Quaranta, Lakers Nation:  Before the Lakers tipped off against the Phoenix Suns last night, they were still dealing with internal problems. Pau Gasol wasn’t happy with his benching in the fourth quarter of the Lakers 111-106 win over the New Orleans Hornets and voiced his displeasure. This was the fourth time that Gasol had been benched in the fourth quarter and he still isn’t sure why it is happening. Pau had said that if they found a winning formula, he didn’t care what the rotation looked like. He was upset because the team was losing and he couldn’t do anything about it riding the bench. Well, the Lakers won three in a row going into last night’s game, but Pau was still voicing his unhappiness.

From Kevin Ding, OC Register: The Lakers have been fragile all season. They still are. Dwight Howard’s shoulder couldn’t be handled with enough care Wednesday night, and the Lakers’ burgeoning optimism was stuffed by a come-from-ahead 92-86 loss to an also-ran Phoenix Suns team that came in lamenting the offseason departure of Steve Nash to the Lakers. The Lakers led, 78-73, when Howard went out — and they lost the poise and flow that marked their past three games — all victories. The Lakers got stagnant — it didn’t help them that Pau Gasol played almost the entire second half because of Earl Clark’s foul trouble and then Howard’s injury.

 

Ryan Cole

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44 responses to Around The World (Wide Web): Lakers Loss, Dwight’s Shoulder, D’Antoni-Pau, Nash,

  1. Some have stated that the season is over. Of course many stated that weeks ago only to get reeled back in by a brief winning streak or similar. In reality – it is not over, but things are getting a little bleak. Before we make trades, or other wholesale changes we do need to have an overall plan. I have said this many times, but it is worth repeating: Are we still trying to salvage this year and make the playoffs and a subsequent run? Do we think we can contend next year? What is the plan in 14, when our cap frees up? Of course these lead to more questions – such as: What is DH going to do? What are our plans for MD? What is KB going to do in 14? Etc. So speaking with certainty about this one should be traded or that one should be traded, is a bit difficult, because we do not have the answers to all of these questions. I can say – that if I were in the FO, I would certainly answer them and more or less in the sequence I have them listed, before I made any big moves.

  2. I get why people are upset. However, we just went 3-1 on the last 4 games. If we can go 3-1 on the next 4 I will take it. If we win 75% of our remaining games we should make the playoffs. Pau is getting blamed for last nights loss and while he might not deserve it I am glad he is being blamed. Complaining after wins about playing time, I wonder what he had to say last night.

  3. Robert, you’re no doubt right that before making any kind of major change the organization needs to answer those questions. I just don’t know why the answers are not already evident. This is clearly a severely flawed team (to put it lightly). There is simply nothing, absolutely nothing, to warrant optimism about “turning it around” or “making a run” other than hope.

    Last year it could be argued that we had awful PG play, a slow-footed and plodding center who didn’t play hard all the time, and a bench that consisted of Matt Barnes and nobody else. Adding Nash, Howard, Meeks, Jamison, and Clark addressed all of those issues. Not only did it not work, but the team lost all 8 preseason games and 4 of the first 5 regular season games.

    At that point, an objectively upgraded roster that was performing even worse than last year’s group seemed to suggest that the problem was coaching. So, Mike Brown was justifiably relieved of his duties. Today, we know that Brown wasn’t the (only) problem. Early on, we could blame Nash’s injury, and Howard’s poor conditioning. Today?

    I see an old, slow, low bb IQ team, with bad FT shooting, an awful bench, bad defense, and probably the worst chemistry of any Laker team since the last time they were in the lottery.

    Dwight is hurt and he won’t get better. Teams don’t just occasionally foul him, but routinely and intentionally do so because he is such a bad foul shooter. That shoulder isn’t going to heal under these conditions. Is Pau going to get better? Why would anyone who has watched his sad decline over the last 3 years feel like he can or will turn the corner? Will Steve Nash become a better defender in his 17th year?

    I just don’t see any legitimate basis for belief in a playoff run. Based on that, a major move seems very much warranted….

  4. I agree with Robert’s overall point, but pretty much everything, including what to do with Pau, revolves around Howard and D’Antoni, and I don’t think that Howard himself knows what he is going to do. I also think that Buss is probably committed to D’Antoni in his mind right now, but that could change.

    On another note, a lot of people have been bagging on Metta for his missed 3s, but that is partly a coaching issue and partly a personnel issue. As the weakside spot-up guy in this system, playing with this personnel, Metta is going to get a lot of looks at 3s. So far, he has taken 282 in 46 agmes; last year, he took 189 in 64 games. He is hitting them at an OK rate for his skill level–35.5%. The Lakers depreately need a 3/D guy who can hit at about 37-38% from 3 and has good lateral movement on the perimeter on defense. I suppose that they were hoping that Ebanks could be that guy, but it seems he’s not.

    This is not to say that Metta does not make bad decisions on O sometimes; he does. But it is not all his fault.

  5. rr: mentioned that last night. I think either Nash should be put in the corner for those 3 point opportunities or play ron at pf and meeks at the sg and spot him up in the corner, especially if they’re going to run that kobe post up 30% of the game and the result ends in passing to the opposite corner. Ron can make 3s like you said but there’s a higher chance Meeks hits more than 3/10.

    Pau: I was against it at first because at the beginning of the seaon I was thinking Pau still had something left after the olympics showing. Then the knee tendinitis came up and felt injuries were stopping him from becoming elite again. But as the season has wore on it clear Pau is no longer a elite big man or low post player. His paint presence at both ends is poor. Mid range shooting is sporadic and ft shooting is becoming a problem. His elite skill is his high post passing. Another thing that was great about Pau was his ability to also be a backup center, but the team defense falls apart when that happens and teams take it right to him and get great results. If Lakers can find a mid 20s player on the verge or an already elite player they should trade him even if it jepordizes the 2014 cap. Clark, Jamison can’t replace Pau’s passing but can fill the role of what D’Antoni wants the pf to be in his offense. With Kobe willing to play point guard, and through his play and words indicates he’s going to continue to do so, Pau becomes even less valuable.

    Also think there needs to be more balance in ball handling duties between Kobe and Nash to give the defense a different look. Kobe rarely runs pnr at the top of the key and teams load up when he iso’s on the strong side. Nash can give the defense a different look running his pnr and get good looks as well.

  6. This was another lazy game by the Lakers. Why are they taking 27 three point attempts? Why did they only have 38 points in the paint and Phoenix 42? My beef with MWP at the end of the game was the way he played Beasley. You would have thought that Beasley was right handed instead of left handed. MWP overplayed the right hand and even a fumbling Beasley had a free lane to the basket using his left hand. Lastly, it is time to stop the charade and shut Dwight down. He has at least a partially torn shoulder muscle and it needs rest, recovery and rehab. This will take at least 4 months and he is risking major injury and missing half of next season if he continues.

  7. ‘This was another lazy game by the Lakers. Why are they taking 27 three point attempts? Why did they only have 38 points in the paint and Phoenix 42?”

    Because Mike D is the coach.

  8. Funky: Thanks for the response. I certainly can’t argue with most of your points, which does lead one to question if this year is salvageable. So if it is not – then this would mean we would not necessarily trade to get better immediately, which means you might want picks or youngsters, rather than veterans who would contribute immediately. With our contracts this is difficult, because the salaries or TPE’s still need to match up. Also – even if this year is a bust – what about next? Are we trying to be barely competitive or would we try to be a contender? We always have a path to the title somehow, but in what year would that be targeting. Then as rr said – DH is an unknown. Also MD is like an elephant in the room. Do we get players to fit his style or just the best players available?. I haven’t seen much basis for putting him in the middle of our table like a bouquet of flowers, and then planning the entire meal around him. So my thoughts are that we would only do moves that would fit multiple scenarios. DH may/may not be here. MD may/may not be here. KB may/may not play beyond 14 (I hope he does). The Lakers may/may not be able to land top free agents when funds free up in 14. I would not do anything we would regret later not knowing those answers. And your current state of the Lakers points are well taken. Since we are a total loss right now in so many ways, what would the objective of a major move be? To take us to the 7 seed? : )

  9. neil: Uh – well – in fact – YES – exactly how I feel
    All: No this does not mean that it is all MD’s fault. However we need a better qualification for asking him back next year, other than the fact that it is not all his fault. It is not all my fault either, but that doesn’t mean I should be coach : )

  10. Since we are a total loss right now in so many ways, what would the objective of a major move be? To take us to the 7 seed? : )

    This is a legitimate point. My only caveat would be that I think in the Lakers’ case, it is worth going for the 8th seed, since:

    a) the pick is gone anyway
    b) they might do better in postseason with no b2bs.

    I would suggest that since a “major move” obviously means Pau or Howard, trading Pau now would be done based on the idea that Howard is staying, and you want to pick up a faster 4 and either backup 1, 3 and/or a draft pick to set up next year’s team. Trading Howard now would be based on the idea that he is leaving, so they want to put a decent team on the floor in 2013-2014 with Pau at the 5, and then hit the reset button in June 2014.

    Two long-term things to consider:

    1. As per Larry Coon, the 2015 first-rounder that went to PHX is Top 5-protected, meaning that if the 2014-15 team goes 23-59 post-Kobe, they might get that pick.
    2. I think it would be wise for everybody not to place too much faith in the clean cap off-season (not that you are doing that). With the Miami exception, most teams that have “cleared cap space” have come up way short. The next two teams on that train are the two that want Howard and Paul: Dallas and Atlanta.

    So, as long as the contract is not huge, I think trading for a guy whose deal runs through 15 or 16 should not be off the table.

  11. Robert, it’s a real dilemma. My view is that I don’t see anybody on the Lakers (players or coaches) worthy of building around for the future. Nash & Gasol are clearly running out of gas before our eyes. Kobe is still great, but after 17 years we can’t realistically build around him (he can and hopefully will be a part of the future, but not as the centerpiece).

    To me, Dwight has shown himself to be unworthy of franchise status. I get that he’s not at 100%, but health isn’t what makes him a terrible free throw shooter, an awful ball handler in the post, devoid of any real low post game, or a guy who remains immature enough to walk around a locker room with a stat sheet complaining of getting only 5 shots on a night where his turnovers and fumbled opportunities were in the double digits. He’s still the best center in the game, but that’s only because we’re talking about the least talented position in the NBA.

    Mike D’Antoni seems like the wrong guy under any circumstance. For this roster, he’s not the right coach. For some different roster, he might put a more entertaining and effective product out there, but they’d still have no defensive priniciples.

    I don’t know, but to me all this adds up to a vision of a total makeover by 2014. Yes, you cannot count on signing free agents as rr correctly points out, but as I see it this is the only path that gets the Lakers back to elite status in the next few years. It might not have much historical precedent, but I like the Lakers chances of reloading through free agency more than teams (and cities) like Dallas and Atlanta. In the meantime, I’m not sure how best to accomplish this goal, but it definitely can’t include trading for any guys whose contracts extend beyond two years. Maybe that means standing pat and riding this team down the drain (depressing thought), or maybe it means trying to find a trade partner who will give up draft picks and expiring deals. Either way, I think we’re a long ways from elite, and tinkering around the edges won’t likely get us where we want to go.

    I would love to be wrong about all this. I did find myself getting sucked into the narrative that we’d turned a corner and found a new way to play, but I was always suspicious of that (we won 3 games in a row, at home, against one great team at the end of a long road trip, one decent team that is likely to lose in the 1st round of the playoffs, and one awful team that nearly came back to beat us). I have no interest in watching a Laker team that considers making the playoffs a success. If they aren’t going to be contenders, I think they need to do whatever it takes to transform themselves so they can be….

  12. Funky,

    NO is actually 8-5 since Eric Gordon came back, so I don’t see them as “awful.” As I said in preseason, the West is very deep.

    I see your points, but I don’t see any better alternatives out there than keeping Howard. back, shoulder, and all. I don’t have Insider anymore (got rid of it to make a point re. Abbott, even though he is not behind the paywall) so I didn’t see Kevin Pelton’s piece with Howard trade scenarios, but I would suggest that while Howard is very flawed, it is not a good idea to just write him off because he is not Shaq or Kareem. The Lakers need to do a lot of things to try to get better, but one thing they need to do for sure is to do better at the middle of the roster. How good the 5-8 guys are is a big deal, and only two teams at a time can have Durant and James.

  13. Funky: I am with you in regards to Kobe (part of us, but not the full center piece post 14), Pau/Nash (out of gas), and D’Antoni (not the right fit at all, in any case). I am with rr however with regard to DH. It is not ideal, but he is our best option and a real coach could do something with him. I was amused by 2 phrases in your post:
    “riding this team down the drain”: I have said this several times – and I still feel we dealt ourselves this hand – and it was a 2 year gamble – so yes – we must ride it – even into the drain.
    “tinkering around the edges won’t likely get us where we want to go”: This takes me back to last year, where I said this many times. I used tinkering sometimes, but as rr remembers, I also used the word “futzing”

  14. rr, I can accept that NO is not awful, so that was probably a bit hyperbolic (though, by their record, technically accurate). In any case, I see the West as being deep, but primarly with “good” teams, not great ones. Beating Utah and NO are only impressive by the very low standards that this Laker squad has established–and using those victories as the rallying cry for “we’ve turned the corner!” seems a little foolish after last night (even as I admit that I was one who was starting to think it was true…).

    I think you and I have exchanged thoughts on DH before, and I see your point. I keep waiting for something to emerge that pushes me into your camp, but I don’t see it. Instead, I see more risk in signing him with every passing week. He isn’t recovered from his back, but now we have a shoulder to worry about. If the reports about this requiring surgery and a SIX month recovery time are correct, a good chunk of next season will be lost to rehab and getting back in shape. That will essentially be two lost offseasons, with no improvement in his game.

    Moreover, maybe I’m just not creative enough, but when I see a formula for winning I feel like it is worth copying. Winning titles with a dominant center (if Dwight can ever return to that status, because he surely isn’t that today) is not a common occurrence. True, there aren’t many Lebrons or Durants out there, but there are a lot of solid perimeter and small players around the league who can be assembled into championship teams. I might be willing to overlook what seems to me to be mental weakness, but Dwight has now shown himself to be unpolished in the low post (with far worse hands than I ever suspected), moody, flaky, and at least over the last year, injury-prone. I’m just having a hard time seeing him as part of a championship team.

    Robert, I think “futzing” says it better than “tinkering” so I think I’ll steal that one….

  15. Rusty Shackleford January 31, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    Stop it with the Manti T’eo news coverage by ESPN!

  16. Lakers are ranked 26th in points allowed per game. That is really bad.

    I just don’t think that they can get to where they need to be defensively with Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant at this point in their careers. Kobe cannot sustain intense pressure on defense without wearing down. Nash has never shined defensively, even when he was a young pup. I think they need to get rid of Nash. Find a quick PG, who can play nasty defense.

    The playoffs always come down to incredible defense. The Lakers are on the other end of the spectrum, in this regard.

  17. Moreover, maybe I’m just not creative enough, but when I see a formula for winning I feel like it is worth copying.

    Well, I am probably older than you are, so bear with me on this one, but the “formula” IME is the same in every era: “Have one of the top 5 guys in the league, regardless of position, enough help around him, and the right coach.” People said the age of the big man was over when Bird, Magic and Jordan ran the league as well. Then came Shaq and Duncan. The three best players in the NBA at the moment happen to be two guys who play the 3 and a point guard.

    Certainly, the 3-pointer and the no-handcheck rules do favor speed, and the Lakers’ lack of it really hurts them night after night. But IMO talent is talent and big men with Howard’s ability come along very rarely. The argument against him is the health issue, but unless I got an insane offer, I would try to keep him if I ran the Lakers.

    As to “futzing”, Robert at times seems to think that Ramon Sessions not doing that well last year sort of clinched that argument for him, but I disagree. Here is a simple way to think of it: Chris Duhon, Jodie Meeks, and Darius Morris have played 2134 combined minutes this year, 353 more than Kobe Bryant, and only 155 fewer than Jamal Crawford and Eric Bledsoe have played combined for the 34-13 Clippers. If you don’t think who gets those minutes substantially affects the performance of the team, we can agree to disagree.

  18. There’s no question that DH has been a disappointment… the degree to which one attributes that more to attitude or injury can be debated as much as you’d like… frankly, the debate doesn’t interest me as I don’t like discussions about what’s going on in players’ heads.

    Still, the problem with not pursuing him like some kind of love-struck virgin and begging him to condescend to please, please take a max deal from the best franchise in sports begs the obvious question: who will be his replacement? In a center-starved era like this one, second tier centers still get about 12M/year; comparatively, maxing out Dwight even if it’s the Dwight we see now is pretty much a bargain.

    Disagree? Let’s see what kind of contract Bynum gets, despite being a certified headcase who missing the majority the season and has a ceiling considerably below Dwight’s. I was never a Dwight fan – I find his personality to be almost unbearable – but I think it’s a no-brainer that the Lakers will (and should) build around him in the future.

  19. I mostly agree with lil Pau on this issue. I have never liked Howard, and from a purely fanboy perspective, I was more excited about Nash. But the simple fact is that Howard is basically the only guy to whom the Lakers can offer the most money/acquire who has a good chance to be a Top 10-15 player over the next 3-4 years (unless you count Kobe and think he can do that).

    On top of that, there is the old “buy low/sell high” thing. Howard’s trade value is lower today than it has been at any point in his career–he is a UFA with major health and personality issues.

  20. Lil Pau

    As a very long time Lakers fan I must disagree. The thought of watching him get stripped 5 times a game( not a back issue) set illegal screens for fouls(not a back issue) get at least one goal tending call per game( not a back issue) shoot 49% FT(not a back issue) and call out team mates on and off the court is not something I want to see for the next 3 or 4 years.

    Dwight is one of the worst fundamental players in the NBA and that is a head, not a back issue in my opinion.

  21. KOOO,

    It is easy to get frustrated with him since he is not IMO likable and has been very good as opposed to great, but to me, doing so is similar to bringing up Kobe’s flaws day after day, as some do. The good far outweighs the bad with Howard, in the big picture.

  22. It

    Understood. Guess it comes down to what the team might get in a trade this year in respect to the possibility of Dwight pulling another nightmare like he did last year.

    If the Lakers don’t make the playoffs do you think he will just blame others and skip or except that he and this roster/coach don’t fit and stay?

  23. rr, I agree with the idea that having a top 5 talent, regardless of position, is the key to building a champion. On this, we agree. Where the disagreement is, I think, is the premise that Dwight Howard belongs in that category.

    In Howard, we have a guy coming off back surgery and, soon, shoulder surgery. For a guy whose entire game is based on athleticism, this is scary stuff. I have seen nothing from Dwight to suggest that his game will age well. His skills are rudimentary to say the least, and if he loses hIs explosiveness I’m not sure he is a top 50 player, much less top 5. If he had shown the character and drive to convince me that he’d work on his game and compensate for the inevitable loss of athleticism, I’d feel differently. However, I have zero confidence that this poor foul-shooter with a worse post up game than at least three current Lakers is up to the job.

    Historically, there are never more than a few guys at any time who can lead a team to a title. I don’t see today as any different, and I would not place Dwight in that category. Maybe it is temporary, but his current condition has rendered him a shell of his former self–and the old Dwight couldn’t lead a team to a title. With the new cba offering no margin for error when it comes to max contracts, I’d take my chances elsewhere if I were calling the shots.

  24. Well said Chicken!

  25. As I said above, I think Howard has a very good shot to be a Top 10-15 guy over the next few years. I think one thing with him that causes the opinions to form is that his flaws are very visible and frustrating. In the context of what is the worst Lakers season since Magic was forced to retire, it is easy to overlook the fact that Howard is still a very good player, even right now.

  26. Trading howard wouldn’t be smart. He can still rebound and defend that alone makes him valuable. It hasn’t been a full year removed from surgery. He’s 27, plays through injuries and should be motivated next year. Dwight’s had at least 5 great games with only a few duds. Pau has missed games and will never be what he once was. Don’t know why lakers would trade dwight and keep pau. Dwight still impacts games I think lakers already rolled the dice and prepared themselves for the worst.

  27. Kooo, all those things drive me crazy as well – at Staples, I’ve been known to yell ‘Catch the ball, Kwame! ‘ while my daughter looks on in horror – but if you were to start coming up with possible replacements (real names the lakers could conceivably get) for the center spot and estimate their salaries… well, imo the list of DH failings pales in comparison to those players’ collective mediocrity.

    Further, I agree with RR that DH is not in that stratosphere of A++ players who can ‘lead’ a team to a championship, but I can imagine that in 2014-15 and beyond: DH + mystery near max guy + Kobe hopefully at 10M + role players might have a chance to compete at the highest levels. We’re not the Sonics/Thunder– I don’t see us gutting the team after 2014 and slowly acquiring talent via the draft for the next five years until we creep back into contention around 2020. As a season ticket holder, they sure as hell better or not….

  28. No point here but:

    Watched Dallas/GS game. Both are top 5 coaches IMO. Not once did either coach let the other team go mire then 6 points without calling a TO to stop runs. Also both teams ran great out if bound plays and Jackson’s off/def subs were brilliant.

    I would bet the house and the cars that the Lakers would be 10 games better with these coaches. Dallas has a terrible roster and Derk missed another game yet that old, slow team is battling the Lakers for 11th.

    A very smart former player and friend told me a great coach can mean 10 extra wins a season while a bad one can cost 10. That’s 20 games. Interesting to see what Laker win total ends up being.

  29. Dwight Howard had a herniated disk less than a year ago which required surgery. He is still mending. The back is the core for the entire body and a herniated disk does cause a person to lose strength in their hands, legs and arms. Dwight was not slated to return to basketball until mid-January and in retrospect he probably should have stayed away from the game until then.

    Derrick Rose is still rehabbing from a knee injury and surgery that occurred in April 2012. Approximately, the same time that Dwight Howard had surgery on his back. Yet, Howard began the 2012-2013 season on the court for the Lakers. Give him a break, if he didn’t want to play for the Lakers he could have feigned rehabilitation of his back and not played at all. Just allowed the GM’s around the league to remember his game pre-injury and sign a max contract.

    Let’s not forget that the Lakers are a mess. A team with thoughts of a championship, does not fire their head coach after 8 pre-season and 5 regular season games. A move like this is not something the Lakers organization does, this is an antic reserved for the teams that are the bottom-feeders of the league. Not the lofty Los Angeles Lakers. If this team were playing in the NBA live video game league, the firing of a coach would have no effect on the team. Obviously this is not true as this team full of veterans have exhibited an inability to just push forward and play through the season as normal. Kobe Bryant is the only player that played through this adversity, but then again Kobe has played great through many adverse conditions. As new players in Los Angeles, Howard, Nash, Jamison and Meeks were blind-sided by the turmoil that encapsulated this season.

    In the future opponents will slap down on Dwight’s shoulder with regularity to get him out of the game. He should stop playing to give his shoulder a month to see if it can heal without surgery. Spend the remainder of the season working on some post moves and free-throws.

    Pau has some sort of a protective bubble that keeps him with the Lakers. When Bynum started playing at an elite level and the Lakers might have thought about trading Pau, Bynum went out with an injury. Then the Lakers traded him for Chris Paul and that trade was rescinded. Then the Lakers find a viable backup center in Jordan Hill, and then he goes out for the season. Once again the thought of Pau ending his career with the Lakers is thwarted by the injury to Dwight. Pau Gasol is a blessed man.

  30. I don’t know if you’ve seen it or not but Pau is burning his own bridge towards MDA and the management. For someone thought to be very professional, I believe this frustration (both on his own play and others) have gotten to his head and heart and thus the inevitable must now begin.

    Pau Gasol is a great player. Maybe not last year, maybe less so this year. But he is a great player and that just does not go away. Teams know this, teams realize his value is at an all-time low and therefore they figure they can buy him low this season at his floor value. That reason alone creates a market for him. Rubio has already indirectly lobbied for the Wolves to trade for him. I tell you, we have takers.

    With or without Dwight, my advocacy is for the Lakers to structure the payroll properly. I believe that buying players at close to market value is the best way to build deep teams that can set themselves up for 1 good trade that will propel us to a championship. Thats what the Celtics did in ’08, thats what the Lakers did back in ’09 and its the same strategy Dallas did to eventually win in ’11. Miami becomes the next example of this and won last season. This is the same strategy that Houston is employing under Morey.

    OKC and San Antonio belong to a slower-roast approach. Such is a small-market-type of approach because they cannot spend overnight and worry about costs later. They are not as capable as the above-mentioned teams who are much richer in terms of economics. Utah is following suit as well.

    A team building model from a Laker team standpoint needs to be addressed properly. I know there will be no payroll structuring until 2014 when we can clean house but there are other factors we need to address NOW rather than later.

    All things being equal, the Lakers plan is to sign Howard to a new 5-yr contract making him the face of the franchise till the age of 32. What may not be foreseen in all this was the emergence of Earl Clark as a very useful player beside Howard. This off-season commands the attention of the team-building philosophy to a challenge if they could somehow retain Clark to a 4-yr 16M deal that would already secure our frontcourt for the foreseeable future.

    That said, such an event suggests spending 23 million. This requires that the Lakers shed Pau’s 19 million fully. That decision has to be made THIS deadline and not in the off-season.

  31. IF I may…

    The Lakers are at the best position right now to do whatever they like. That is because the season is only 3 months away from being over, either players go on vacation early or we’re getting mopped off the floor in the 1st round is all but a foregone conclusion. To think that we can be more (LA Kings my arse) is but wishful thinking and only the right thing to say publicly, but the fact is the Lakers have a rare opportunity to play the season out, shuffle all the deck chairs of the titanic and sail through next season with a brand new ship. This is the least pressure we’ve had to win a championship and its time to capitalize.

    Delving further into this advocacy, here are several realistic steps we can do NOW and in the off-season to get us going. Without being too specific and at the risk of Darius’ wrath, here goes:

    1. Trade Pau Gasol for expirers. Surprise? Yes because we have to. Like we’ve beaten ever so badly in emphasis, the team is facing a 100M tax bill (taxes alone) if we are supposedly keeping the same team together for next season. And what happens if we don’t? Steve Blake and MWP will cost us 35 million in taxes to retain.

    2. Amnesty Steve Blake. IF you feel that MWP has some value left with his recent good play, which I do, then the only option is to let Blake go via amnesty. This move alone can save the Lakers some 15 million in tax bills. Foreals.

    3. Re-sign Dwight Howard and Earl Clark. Dwight gets Max, Earl Clark gets a 4-yr 16M deal.

    4. Negotiate Kobe’s next contract. I can totally see Kobe signing a 2-yr 24M deal before the 2013-14 season begins thereby nulling his cap hold for 2014 summer (amounts to some 30+ million) if he doesnt extend or retire or have his Bird rights renounced.

    When all this have been resolved, the Lakers now have a rebuilding season for 2013-14. This with Kobe, Dwight, Metta, Clark, Hill Meeks and Nash. Thats pretty much the same team we have now only we have the next summer set up with a max cap space to sign someone with Nash, Kobe, Clark and Dwight on board.

  32. Phil or Pat Riley can’t coach this team either , people forget the problem is Lakers don’t have a consistent player who can score 22, 25 pts behind Kobe, so as the coach, you only can try to change players, MD did the best he can. When Howard was re-injured this is the time or last time in Memphis ,Gasol should show the world that he is still good, but i don’t see it from him. Rubio and Gasol are top players ( as Rubio thought), look at Minnesota and LA Lakers now. The worst thing Nash looks old, MD has to let Kobe play PG, it’s good idea, but this is crazy season, so do the best you can, if Lakers can’t made playoff, i am ok, we try next year.

  33. I have to admit, all this talk about building the future around Dwight is making me sick. This guy is NOT a franchise player. Period. Really, he is not that good. Ken gave pretty much all the reasons for this, but most of all, its his immaturity. And no, I don’t think Dwight will grow up, this is who he is. He is not going to be a Lebron story where suddenly he “gets it.” I am sorry, but you just don’t build your franchise around centers is this day and age unless that center is Shaq like- and Dwight aint anything near that, nor ever will be. Not a guy who has no low post game at all. You can’t build your franchise around a guy who has obvious offensive limiations and can only make 50 percent free throws. Around a guy who for that reason is probably better off sitting at the end of games. Who else should the Lakers build around when Kobe is gone? I have not a clue, but Dwight is not the guy. Franchise players are able to dominate even with injuries. Look at Kobe, look at Iverson when he was with the Sixers, who almost was always inujured, but still managed to lead the league in scoring. Franchise players are tough, not just talented. They have killer instinct. This is NOT Howard. Can Howard be a big part of helping a team succeed, yes. But is he the franchise? The guy you depend on? Absolutely not.

  34. A couple of points here:

    I have heard many people reference OKC in terms of “blowing it up”, but it is important to remember that they are the exception, not the rule. There are other franchises which have had years of lottery picks and while teams do eventually improve that way, there is no guarantee that you get to the level that OKC has reached. Minnesota, Sacramento, Washington, Golden State, Toronto…

    As to the references to the structural team-building in Boston, San Antonio, and Miami, what you need to look at there is personal connections among the principles and luck/timing as well as brains. Danny Ainge had years of lottery picks but the Celtics never did much. But he is pretty smart–he got Ray Allen and drafted Jefferson, Rondo and Perkins. And then he was lucky–McHale was running Minnesota when Garnett wanted out. San Antonio is very smart, but there were luck elements in the acquisitions of Duncan, Parker and Ginobili. And, the Duncan/Popovich relationship has sustained them. Miami and the Lakers we know about. OKC and Sam Presti are very smart, but they would just be another team if Portland had taken Durant instead of Oden.

    So, there is no formula other than getting the best players you can 1-12 and the best coach you can, then making bold moves when the opportunity arises and timing and other things are spinning in your favor. Buss has made the bold moves–Paul, Nash, Howard. He and Mitch have had trouble with the other two, but while Dwight Howard may not be the Dream Man some thought he would, the only reason to cut bait on him is if you are almost sure his health will wreck him–and it might. But the percentages dictate that the best thing to do is to keep him and then try to get smarter about what and who you are putting around him.

  35. rr, whenever you are involved in professional sports, luck is always a part of everything. The same luck was needed for the current squad to work. Such we didn’t get.

    Whats not healthy is to discuss the outcome in the “what could have been” format. No one could win that argument because we’re all geniuses after the fact. But you can never argue how much sense it made to pick the proven Oden over the lanky Durant. Such could be argued over everything else. We could go to the beginning of time and say: “Adam could’ve refused the apple/fruit from Eve.” Won’t do much, really.

    The Lakers are a big market team and thats a fact. The billion-dollar deal we got helps in our ability to contend because some expenses are mitigated. This we use to our advantage. And we have for many years, much moreso than most. This is where our business and basketball acumen will come in.

    If you are smart, not only is work easier, it pays more too. Compare Danny Ainge to Mitch Kupchak? Well, thats a no-brainer choice.

    I guess what I’m saying is that if we are a big market team, we should build teams like we are a big market team. But doesn’t mean we would be dumb about it.

  36. DH: Let me see if anyone is willing to disagree with my previous point that DH will be 1st team All NBA in 2014 (he may/may not be this year depending on how many games he plays). That said, if you have the inside track at a 1st Team All NBA player – you take it. The NBA landscape is littered with GM bodies who did not go after the top 5-10 guys in the league, only to grant max/near max contracts to second tier players. Is DH as good a player to build around as LBJ or KD? No. However – what is the alternate plan – to hope that LBJ takes his talents to Malibu in a couple of years?

    Building the Roster: The roster must be built top down. Without the stars and the top players – there are no banners. The secondary roster spots do matter, but they do not make the difference between a title and the 25th best team in the league. They can make the difference between a title and let’s say being “6th”. The irony of us not being successful with the middle roster spots, is that we should have an advantage in some aspects of this. We are the Lakers, we have the tradition, we have the nightlife, we have the stars, you can get a ring, so what’s not to like? Yes – we can’t offer the middle guys big money, but we must choose wisely where we can. We “could” have paid Shannon and we chose not to. We “could” have kept Barnes and we chose not to (because of MB – are we going to do this with MD?). Hindsight is indeed 20/20, however one must use hindsight to evaluate previous decisions. It is obvious that the Lakers have not done well with their second tier players. Let’s not compound that by not having a firm and workable plan at the top of the roster.

  37. No one likes to spend the Buss’ money more than Warren, it seems.

    To me, the argument on Howard is whether you think he’ll fully recover or not — or at least if he’ll recover to a level where he can somewhat approximate the player he was in Orlando. If the answer to that question is “yes”, he’s worth the max easily. He’s “worth” double the max in the same way that Kobe is still “worth” about triple it.

    If you don’t think he’ll recover, the answer is still likely to sign him to a max contract. The Grizz just got pretty good value for Rudy Gay in a trade. Gay will make $19 million in the final year of his contract. My point is, contracts are assets and they can almost always be traded. If you are the Lakers, you’re better off with assets than without them. Especially since having that asset in hand does little to affect your long term cap situation.

    Building a team is chess, not checkers.

  38. RR is on point throughout this thread. I hope the front office is not as hasty as some of us fans are. We Laker fans are a bit spoiled. For many of us only a coach of Phil or Pop’s caliber can sit on the bench. Only ultra transcendent players like Magic or Kobe can anchor the team. The thing is coaches and players like that only come around once a generation. Fortunately for us championships are won every year. So it doesn’t take once in a generation leadership and talent to get it done. It just takes having the right elements in place. I don’t see why Dwight Howard can’t be one of those elements.

    We easily forget that many questioned LeBron’s ability to become a champ in spite of his talent. Plenty of Lakers fans didn’t believe in Kobe Bryant when O’neal was traded. His work ethic was never questioned. But many believed he didn’t have what it took to be the leader of a championship team sans Shaquille. In the cases of both LeBron and Kobe they faced the challenge, took their lumps and got over the hump. Who is to say Dwight can’t do the same? He did lead his team to the Finals. They were the top rated defensive team that year and it was because of him. So he has shown some greatness already. He has some more growing to do. But he is probably closer to that mark than any young player not named LeBron James or Kevin Durant. And outside of those two I can’t see any other players I would want to trade him for.

  39. I wanna save some to spend some actually.

    In other news, Pau Gasol was traded today 5 years ago. Just sayin.

  40. I certainly hope DH will recover; his defensive presence when he´s firing on all cylinders is a heck of a weapon –
    But first we gotta win tonight against the T´wolves!

  41. My useless random thoughts:

    1. Gasol: a few years ago he could still move a bit. Now his feet is gluing to the floor. A pass to him will result as a standing shot most of the time. But he can’t even make a free throw now.
    2. MWP: horrible shooting mechanism. By the way he is shooting these days, call it a success if he can touch the rim.
    3. Howard: hurt or not, lack of bodily coordination. Bill Russel can demonstrate what is smooth bodily movement about.
    4. Clark: one of the few bright spots of the season. Not as smooth and smart as Ariza, but a bit taller and almost as fast. By the way, why Kupchak let Ariza go?
    5. Kobe: this guy would do anything for the team, including sacrificing the scoring title for the season.
    6. MD: he is doing the best he can so far, though it’s hard to tell whether his best can save the team. The decision to get MD over Phil is so weird that the brain hurts just to think about it.
    7. Kupchak: won’t hesitate to chase a player of fame with Buss’s money. Though not sure about his own ability to evaluate players.
    8. Nash: It’s like only yesterday that he was the MVP of the league twice in a row. The guy can still shoot and dish, but the timing is not there. Either he is truly degrading or that the new teammates are not as good/smooth as the old ones in Phoenix.

  42. I think it is officially time for Laker Nation to panic. This may be a lost year. The question now is, can you re-sign Dwight Howard to a long-term deal?

  43. But you can never argue how much sense it made to pick the proven Oden over the lanky Durant.
    ==
    That wasn’t the point. The point was that landing a guy like Durant is in some respects a matter of luck, and we need to remember that about 18 months ago, Howard was considered by most to be the second-best player in the NBA, as T Rogers suggests. It is certainly possible that he will never again reach that point, but then again, he might. Even if he doesn’t, there is a pretty good chance that he will be a Top 10-20 guy, and he is in his prime. The Lakers do not have better options than that going forward.