Friday Forum

Darius Soriano —  March 29, 2013

After yesterday’s loss to the Bucks, the Lakers only have 9 games left in their season. Their record in the previous 73 games shows 37 wins and 36 defeats. They are, in essence, a .500 team who, based on their baseline play, are just another team fighting for their short term lives rather than plotting towards more long term goals in the second season. There is no strategic positioning taking place, no looking ahead. In fact, the Lakers are looking behind them as their recent falters have the Jazz and Mavs coming up quickly with their blinkers on eyeing the passing lane on the freeway of the western conference standings.

At this point, there’s not much new to say about this team. The ups and downs that come from the on court product no longer surprise, like riding the same roller coaster all day at the amusement park. This team is what it is. Banged up. Flawed. Hard working in stretches, but not consistent in their drive to achieve. Like milk that’s been left out in the sun, there’s a pervasive sourness to the evolution of this season; a season where most of the breaks the Lakers have caught have been bad ones.

Some of the wounds they’ve endured have been done unto them, others have been self inflicted. But when the autopsy is performed on this season, all that will be seen are the scars. Make no mistake, there’s fighting still to do. This team has some proud players who only know one direction to travel in. But this season’s journey looks like it will end much sooner than many thought (and hoped) it would. Around the web we go…

At Land O’ Lakers, Brian Kamenetzky sees a Lakers’ team that’s not just fatigued but one that’s fraying as well.

At Yahoo!, Adrian Wojnarowski sees Kobe limping out of the Bucks’ arena and sees a Lakers team also hobbling down the stretch.

At the L.A. Times, Mike Bresnahan has the word on Kobe’s ailment as well word on Steve Nash’s “hip spasm”.

Speaking of Nash, at ESPN LA Dave McMenamin talks of the point guard’s sense urgency this season.

In recapping the loss to the Bucks, Brett Pollakoff of Pro Basketball Talk details what went wrong and how the playoff spot that seemed so assured a week ago is now in jeopardy.

At Silver Screen & Roll, Chris Clark also talks about the Bucks game and how it was just another example of what we’ve seen all season.

Also at SS&R, Drew Garrison explores Pau Gasol’s role on offense and how the Spaniard must break some bad habits of floating on the perimeter and find ways to get back into the post.

In a piece of news that’s a bit happier, Metta World Peace had successful surgery on his knee yesterday. Get well soon, man.

I think all Lakers fans were happy to see the Heat’s win streak end at 27 and, in the process, preserve the 1972 Lakers’ record of 33 straight wins. At the L.A. Daily News, Mark Medina caught up with that team’s head coach, Bill Sharman, who expressed his happiness that the record remains “in the family”.

Speaking of the streak, has a great info-graphic comparing the Lakers’ streak to the Heat’s. There are some great nuggets in there, including the fact that the Lakers played FOUR back-to-back-to-backs in their streak.

The season trudges on with a game in Sacramento on Saturday. The Kings are coming off two consecutive road wins and would like nothing else than to help dig the Lakers’ hole even deeper. How much fight this team has left in them will help determine how much further they can go on this journey, but so will the opponent on the other end of the floor and the other external variables that haven’t much helped the team this year either. I’ll be watching — as will most of you, I assume — but I’d be lying if I said prospects looked as good as they did just a week ago. As an old favorite of mine used to say, things can turn on a trifle. The Lakers know that all too well this season.

Darius Soriano

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  1. well put, but you’re too kind – to some of the players and management. but i appreciate your approach. i thought fidel stern yanking cp3 was the worst that could happen, but it’s like the curse continued this year. let’s hope they pull it out.


  2. That thread of hope I had for this season was snipped when MWP went down. With the exception of a month when it appears he was playing through a hip injury, he has had a solid season.

    So what’s left to do? Roll the dice I guess. First I think Clarke should be starting. I do not like the 3 guard line up. At 6′ 4″ Meeks is just to small. Then I would insert Ebanks into the rotation and see if he can Rhein some of the he showed late last year. I haven’t been one of those calling for him but at this point there really isn’t anything left to lose.


  3. Interesting stat from BK at Land O Lakers:

    (One very telling statistic emphasizing the importance of continuity: Via Elias, of all the two-man combinations in L.A.’s big four — meaning two on the floor, two on the bench — the most successful on a per-minute basis is still Kobe and Pau, who are a plus-84 in just over 222 minutes. Bryant and Howard, by comparison, are only plus-41 in 466 minutes while Nash/Howard is plus-13 in 155 minutes. The worst combo? Nash and Bryant, without either big. Minus-82 in 172:34 of floor time.)


    BK basically says that MWP going down is the last straw, and strongly implies that the Lakers will miss the playoffs. I think he is probably right, but I am still hoping the team can reach back and win enough of the last nine to get in.


  4. @rr The stats basically confirms that nash and bryant do not work well together. Both needs the ball in their hands and if bryant is the primary ballhandler theres no need to have nash on the court since hes just not very good at defense. The two star platoon that you suggested might be the best way to maximize the talent on the Lakers..but mike D will never do that.


  5. Such a winnable game it was, but the Lakers kept throwing lifelines to the Bucks. I think Gasol had a good game and the best part of the Lakers game was when they went through Howard and Gasol (much more skilful than Howard in my view) and when Nash was playing (he was doing quite well). But after Gasol’s final offensive spurt the game was over, they were beaten (just look at the body language…) and Kobe’s ISO was just desperation bad offence. Howard will need to work on his FT’s in the offseason, it really is a liability, but if Griffin and Splitter managed to do it I am sure he will do it too.
    All in all when watching games like this till 2.30AM from overseas I wonder why I am a Laker fan when there are much better teams to follow… Got to go rewind the win at Indiana…



  6. Neil: putting blame on Kobe gets old. Does he deserve criticism after shooting the Lakers out of games? Sure. But he’s changed his game a lot this year for the better of the team. Nash went out the second game of the year and Blake not far after. Kobe had to take on ball handling duties. he did it very well. He shouldered the load while Dwight was coming back, Pau was out and through all the turmoil throughout the year he’s been a constant representing the purple and gold the way all players are supposed to.

    When Pau says “they need to go away from Kobe” sometimes. This is also true. But when Pau is constantly late or fails to show up to help Dwight guard the rim. You get dunk show like Larry Sanders displayed last night. Pau’s battled through the year too but everybody has played a part in the season. D’Antoni says it’s too much one on one and the ball needs to move. When you start off the game inside out then when Nash gets in the game to start the second quarter let him run PnR. What do you expect Kobe to do once Nash leaves the game? He’s going to run PnR too along with his Iso’s. D’Antoni hasn’t found a formula for this team to have success night to night he deserves blame. This isn’t a lockout year like Mike Brown had. There’s been plenty of time to get the team on the same page. Nash turning the ball over, Dwight missing ft’s and turning the ball over, Pau not being able to protect the rim, Meeks streakiness, Injuries and everything but someone how it always goes back to moving the ball for D’Antoni. I commend Kobe for not blowing a fuse this year and even though I have my rants about his bad games he has I still realize this team wouldn’t be close to a playoff spot if not for him. I don’t like how la radio, pau and d’antoni are making this all about moving the ball. They scored 100+ points again last night but gave up 113.


  7. “The two star platoon that you suggested might be the best way to maximize the talent on the Lakers..but mike D will never do that.”

    Mwp injury puts them in a world of hurt. Don’t know if anyone has noticed because of course this is all because Dantoni is basically a brain dead mongoloid, but Nash and Kobe have started to be on the court together less already.


  8. Good post, Kevin.

    Kobe deserves a lot of flack for his off-ball D, and some for his 4th qtr. usage rate. As I have said, I also put a lot of blame for the latter on Nash and MDA. When Nash walks the ball over the timeline late-game, dumps it to Kobe, and everybody stands around, that is partly on MDA and Nash–not just on Kobe. So, analysis that focuses on Kobe this, Kobe that, is weak.

    Part of what we are seeing now, IMO, is just an old team that is falling apart physically and has been overworked by Phil at times, and by both Brown and D’Antoni. Every rotation player over 30 has dealt with some type of injury, and they have often been compromised even when they have played. And as I said earlier, and others have said, and as P Ami said a few days ago, lateral movement goes with age. Pau is painfully slow; Nash, Jamison, Kobe, and Blake can’t stay in front of people and cannot recover quickly, MWP has slowed down a lot, and so on. Better schemes and more commitment from Kobe and others would help, but a lot of it was unavoidable.


  9. Ron Artest out for 6 weeks. Nash probably out a game or two with the back spasm. And now Kobe with a bone spur. Injuries have plagued this team all season long. All key players from Dwight, Pau, Hill, Ron, Kobe, Clark, Nash, Blake and Jamison have suffered injuries that halt or impede a team seeing ALL its players healthy for at least a month. With that, team chemistry has been disrupted in ling stetches of the season. Very frustrating indeed but if they can come up with some sort of miracle then this would be the sweetest ride ever for us Laker fans.


  10. There is a balance that needs to be found in discussing this team. From one side, I have been a Lakers fan for decades. Even as I was aware of the glorious 80’s happening, it was the 90’s Lakers that caught my heart. Ceballos, Nick, Eddie, Vlade, Elden, Sedale, Lynch, Peeler… Not a team of superstars. Not a flawless team. Not a team that could win a championship. Not a well coached team. It was a fun team and winning against the Spurs with Van Exel shadow boxing down the court… it’s not the iconic baby-hook in Boston, not the crossover on Pippin and ally-oop to Shaq, not the supernally long arms maintaining the gooseneck behind Horry’s back. It wasn’t 0.4 seconds. It wasn’t Pau getting a shot off while coming down- Sheed and Pierce draped on him. Nick shadow boxing against the Spurs was effort, intensity, and reaching beyond expectations. I loved all these moments even as some did not lead to a championship. What tied every one of these iconic moments together was intensity, confidence and fraternity.

    I feel sorry for this current squad. I also feel a sort of disgust with it. Not because they are falling short in the win columns, although that is disappointing. I feel disgust because they have no intensity or confidence in themselves or each other. I have contempt for a team that has managed to nullify the effects that Steve Nash has on the soul of a team. I am disgusted with how this team just does not have each others’ back on rotations, on box outs, on finding ways for the other to succeed. What pride I see is individual, not communal. I see a team that doesn’t even play the sort of defense Orlando played around a Dwight in need to back surgery. How did this team ruin Steve Nash. How did this team make Jamison’s scoops meaningless. How did this team relegate Kobe into an injured and desperate warrior. How did this team have Dwight freakin Howard anchor a bad defense? How did this team turn the most skilled post player in the game into a spot up shooter? They did it by failing each other.

    I’m not turning my back on this team. I’m turning my back on THIS team. I don’t care if they make the playoffs or not. It’s not about how many games they have left to win. It’s about playing basketball with love for the game and for one another. Maybe it’s there. I don’t see it and I can’t see it, I see no point in caring. I’m an addict. I’ll turn to Time Warner and listen to Rob and James try to coat poop with fudge. I’m just not engaged with this team. I don’t really care.


  11. Ami

    Well said. A poorly constructed team with older players who leads the NBA in back court turnovers, is unable to get back on defense and whose bench has zero defensive stoppers to help out.

    Add a overrated coach who lacks the teams respect and is clueless to make adjustments and you have the biggest disappointment in the
    long Laker history. It’s not about winning a championship as that’s impossible, it’s about the imbarrisment of not even making the playoffs with no draft choices and by far the highest payroll in the NBA.

    When it’s all said and done it’s the fault of the front office. Good organizations and coaches find a way to win even with injuries. See
    Chicago as an example. As long as Kobe commands 50% of the cap space and terrible coaching choices like Mike Daaa is there, this team will remain a .500 team and will not be a contender again.

    Our only hope is for a sale of the team or Jimmy Boy quits and turns the team over to a real basketball man like Jerry West.

    It was the best of times and now it is the worst of times.


  12. Well, in other news, the Heat are beating the daylights out of NO.

    Hey, its been a great, great ride for us Lakers fans. And now, it’s over.

    For now.


  13. Well after (60)+ games it is quite clear the MDA is bad fit for this team and possibly a worse coach than Mike Brown ever was if it were not for his “street cred”. He never should have been hired in the first place, not when Phil was lurking in the background.

    As they say, There is always light at the end of every tunnel.

    Well here’s our light. Steven A. Smith said on First Take (I don’t know if he’s a reliable source, but he is tight with D12) that part of Dwight’s demands to sign an extension, is that Phil be on board to coach this team next year.

    If Jim Buss wants to keep D12, welp, he has to bite the bullet on this one and sign Phil too. Offer him a “Corleone” like deal he can’t refuse.


  14. Goodbye Playoffs. Utah is winning at Portland. PS Good Luck to the Jazz/Mavs survivor against the Spurs. Let the Laker Chaos begin……..


  15. FO top priority should obviously be to get rid of Captain Pringles, but even that won’t be enough. Nash is not the same Steve Nash, Howard is an overrated big crybaby, Kobe still a warrior, but not the same Kobe, Gasol is still Gasoft. There you go people, that big four will NEVER, EVER, win you a championship, even if we get Phil Jackson. Either the FO finds some way to make some big moves or we are heading into the dark ages for years to come.


  16. The big 4 could definitely win a championship, if they were to do what the big 3 in Miami did, which is to take a paycut so we could sign some bench help. But Kobe makes $30 million a year; he’s made his money, and I still don’t see him playing for veteran’s minimum, even though that would help him towards his ultimate goal of winning a championship. Pau and Dwight both want to keep getting big deals. So we’re gonna have 4 guys that combine for more than the cap, more than the luxury tax even, and so in that scenario, no we won’t a championship, because there will be no decent roleplayers. I think Kobe’s gotta make a financial sacrifice so that this team can sign some help, but I think he’ll just push it onto ownership and expect them to pay a $100+ million luxury tax bill.


  17. PAmi. You speak for me too. Nearly verbatim even the NVE stuff! 🙂


  18. P. Ami is spot on. terrible mix, no chemistry, no heart. what is better to miss the playoffs or get swept in the first round?

    have to believe MDA will be back, but at least he will have the offseason to assemble his own staff. hasn’t he been working with a somewhat inherited staff this season?

    at this point, I don’t even know if Mitch will be able to get assets back for Pau. might be either a straight salary dump, or amnesty. first point of business after D12 makes his decision.

    have to think Jamison will move on. does Mitch pick up the modest option on Meeks? does Clark resign for Hill money or less?

    will be an interesting off-season for sure as many hard decisions must be made.


  19. Steven A. Smith said on First Take (I don’t know if he’s a reliable source, but he is tight with D12) that part of Dwight’s demands to sign an extension, is that Phil be on board to coach this team next year.

    Funky Chicken, where you at? Looks as if Dwight is doing exactly as you suggested he would.

    And FWIW, I believe that, when it comes to NBA Players (especially Dwight), Stephan A. is definitely a reliable source.

    Lastly, judging from some of these comments (and, according to Stephan A., Dwight himself), it seems as if I’m not the only one who is focused on THIS off-season.


  20. Rob W, NBA isn’t the NFL, contracts don’t get restructured. So, there is no financial sacrifice Kobe can make. If anything, Kobe has made the financial sacrifice over the years and deserves the money he is making now. As for the season, even if the Lakers don’t make the playoffs they did OK this season in my eyes. No other team in the playoffs has had to deal with the number of injured rotation players the Lakers have had. Lakers r gonna have to make a coaching change though. Mike D’Antoni is not a championship coach. Lacks the poise of a champion and is running this team into the ground.


  21. Tra, I’m here. Just lurking. Waiting for the offseason, frankly, because this one can’t end soon enough for me.

    Like most issues, causation is not just a simple “Kobe sucks” or “they would have won with Phil.”. This team is flawed in many ways.

    The bench is weak, because all of the starters are overpaid. The injuries have prevented any sustained attempt at getting in sync. The perimeter D is awful in part because the players are old, in part because they are poorly coached, an in part because they are often disinterested. The pieces don’t fit well together at all: a ball dominant PG being asked to play like Derek Fisher; perhaps the best offensive low post player relegated to standing on the perimeter (sometimes by choice, sometimes by design). A coach who has only one style; a style which requires exactly the opposite kind of roster than what he now has (and a style that has and likely never will win a title).

    Throw in an early season coaching change, learning a new, flawed, system on the fly, and the worst injury history of any Laker team in memory, and in some way you could build an absurd case that this team with 4 future Hall of Famers that may not even make the playoffs has actually overachieved….

    I’m just tired of watching the same weaknesses get exposed night after night.

    As for Dwight, I don’t know if there is any truth to the Stephen A story, but as I previously said, if I were Dwight it is exactly what I would do. I wouldn’t want to play for MDA, and I wouldn’t want to come back to a roster with a bunch of old and miscast players who are all bad at defense and so highly paid that there is no reasonable hope that the team will be any better next year. I believe Phil’s ability, temperament, and system better fit this flawed roster, so if I was 27 years old I’d make it a “him or me” and only come back if D’Antoni does not, plus a commitment to turning Pau and MWP into younger and more athletic players via trade and/or amnesty….


  22. I read a story about missing the playoffs. If the Lakers miss the playoffs, as opposed to a run to the finals the cost would be huge.

    With increased ticket prices, parking, concessions and all TV and NBA revenue shares it could be in the $60,000,000 range for the loss of potentially 9 additional home games.

    Based on their current payroll, managements costs and other
    expenses the Lakers even with this years TWC deal would lose money. Guess that means no new horses or Bently’s this year for Jimmy. Wonder if he can afford the inheritance tax imposed ?

    Also for the last time Kobe can not change or lower his contract per the current league rules. It’s either $30 million next year or nothing. Even a silly amnesty dosen’t remove the pay nor does him waving his
    no trade. Still must trade for comparable value.

    No draft choices, bad contracts with Kobe, Nash, Metta, Pau and paying two coaches again next year should all be part of the Lakers
    next book ” How to destroy a great business in 5 easy lessons”

    Guess the Buss family will have to take pay cuts next year.


  23. .. plus a commitment to turning Pau and MWP into younger and more athletic players via trade and/or amnesty….

    True indeed Funky. We’re on the same page, as I have, on separate occasions within this FB&G Community, stated that, with all due respect to the both of them, this should be the last season for Pau & Ron-Ron under the Lakers banner.

    As for tonight’s game: With both Kobe & Nash hobbling, the Kings coming off 2 impressive road victories against teams that we’ve recently succumbed to, the Warriors and Suns, and the fact that they always bring their A Game against us, unfortunately, I’m anticipating another L .. Hoping that they can prove me wrong.


  24. I am getting a kick out of the Riley/Ainge thing, and I am glad baseball is starting up–need a Lakers break.

    Utah is at home tonight against BKN, and will obviously be fired up for their one shot to beat Deron Williams in SLC.


  25. Based on their current payroll, managements costs and other
    expenses the Lakers even with this years TWC deal would lose money.

    I don’t mind the consistent sour mood. That’s your deal and that’s fine. What I do mind are countless unsupported statements passed off as facts. Things like the statement above and countless comments about where a player “ranks” in the league when no such rankings exist.

    We try to deal in facts here, so please bring some to the party every now and then to back up your statements. For example, this year the luxury tax is still 1 to 1. So the Lakers payroll and tax commitment is around $130 million. The TWC deal has been reported as a 20 year/$4 Billion agreement with an option to extend it to 25 year deal worth up to $5 Billion. Take the shorter amount and that’s $200 million a year just from the TV deal. That amount covers the entire Laker payroll with $70 million to spare. Forbes reported that the Lakers made $76 million on gate receipts last year — and that’s only receipts from the gate, not concessions, parking, merchandise, etc. Tell me how they’re losing money this year. I’d love to hear your formula. As an aside, even when you include revenue sharing — which is estimated at $50 million — the Lakers TV deal *still* covers their payroll (including the luxury tax) and the revenue sharing with approximately $20 million to spare.

    Again, I don’t mind your (or anyone else’s) outlook. Everyone’s entitled. What people aren’t entitled to do is pass off opinions as facts or misrepresent the facts in order to bolster a point or take cheap shots at people because you don’t like them. Take that somewhere else. I won’t miss it and neither will anyone else. And, if they do miss it, let them know where you went and they can follow you.


  26. To add to our misery… Utah’s remaining schedule is easier than ours. I now believe that it’s a toss-up at best. Man, this has been a long season.


  27. How can we complain about Kobe’ s contract, when he is the constant we have year in and year out? The value he brings to the Laker franchise and the league warrants the costs. It’s not his fault for the team’s injuries , Pau being unproductive for the last couple of seasons, Steve Nash’ s decline, Howard’s inability in the post, the inconsistent bench. That doesn’t mean he is without his faults, but he’s the only consistent guy on the team year in and year out.


  28. tony, the point about Kobe’s contract is simply that it becomes very difficult to construct a deep roster when one guy takes up half the cap. Nobody (or, at least few) here don’t appreciate Kobe’s contribution or the fact that he is by far the Lakers most consistent player. However, I’m not sure that it is reasonable to say that Kobe is a good value at a cost of $10 million a year more than Lebron, Durant, or Chris Paul. That Pau also makes more than those guys just demonstrates how little maneuverability the team has, even with its huge tv deal, under the new cap.


  29. It’s time to start a youth movement and retool the bench. Get Corey Brewer plus several other players with youth and energy.


  30. This team was going well until the return of Pau. They gave away the game in Atlanta in which Kobe was injured with some horrible shooting (and that was the second night of a back to back and had a blown call from the refs at the end of the game). Then, even with the loss of Kobe, they won the next two including a great road win in Indiana before the second night of a back to back (and a 7 man rotation) again did them in in Phoenix. But that game, also without Kobe, was not a warning sign or the beginning of any loss of momentum in any real sense.

    Rather, the Washington game on Friday was the first sign of a real problem. Including the Washington game, they are now 1 – 3 against very average competition with Pau and Kobe back, when they were 13 -7 while Gasol was out. Immediately before Gasol went down, they were 3 – 0 with Gasol while Howard was out with his right shoulder injury. The rest of the year (apart from this 16 – 7 stretch when either Howard or Gasol was out injured) they are 21 – 29.

    Of course, Howard and Gasol have been a disaster together (- 2.2 per 100 possessions any time the two have been on the court together). This is a pretty remarkable statistic, since any 4 man combination of Howard, Kobe, Nash & MWP is + 9.7 on the season. Substitute Gasol with MWP and that number goes all the way down to -.9. Of course, the coaching staff knew this, which is why Gasol was taken out of the starting line up in the first place.

    The answer seems pretty simple. Take Gasol out of the starting line-up, substitute Clark or Jameison. Play Nash, Howard and Meeks together at all times. Play Gasol, Kobe and Blake together at all times. Keep Howard and Nash the hell away from Gasol at all times. If the Gasol, Blake line-up is going better than the Howard/Nash line-up on any given night, reward them with more playing time. Do not worry about anyone’s ego.


  31. As I said back when they signed them, Kobe’s and Pau’s deals are a year too long and too expensive from a basketball perspective, but I can see them, particularly Kobe’s, as a “thank you”, so they don’t bother me. People who are mad about it should realize that the man who approved them is no longer with us, and I think it is unwise to suggest, as a few people have over the last year, that Kobe and Pau should have taken less.

    Also, Kobe and Jordan will for the foreseeable future go down as the only 30M a year players in league history. I would guess that was part of it as well.

    The new CBA over time will have, and already has had, the effect of effectively reducing the NBA’s middle-class, so there will be players available for the mini mid-level and the vet min that can help a team 6-10. Kupchak and the various Busses in the FO need to do a better job of getting the right ones to help the Lakers.