The Season That Was, Hopefully Not What Will Be

Darius Soriano —  April 29, 2013

We’ve spent months chronicling what went wrong with this Lakers’ campaign. And, to be completely honest, I’m tired of doing so. There’s only so many words to be devoted to the countless injuries, the faults of the coaches, or even the death of an owner. This season brought many more lows than highs and for that it was memorable, even though I’d pay to forget.

In the wake of such a season, the impulse is to try and fix things; to figure out a path to avoid the same results the next year. For the Lakers, this won’t be easy. There are too many questions to answer in one day. Health, personnel decisions, coaching, the salary cap and luxury tax, the draft, and on and on we could go.

The Lakers are a team that needs to take some time to reflect and reassess. The plan was to always make a push in the final two years of this core’s contracts. Does the utter failure of this season change that? Do the injuries and uncertainty of key players heading into next season? Do the feelings of a fanbase about a coach?

Only the Lakers’ brass knows the answer to these questions, but I’ve a feeling that even they don’t at this time. There’s simply too much to comprehend to think logically on such things right now. Anyone who claims to know, for certain, what will work and the moves that need to be made are either lying or so cocksure their opinions are likely not worthy of legitimate discussion. It’s one thing to think you know, another to know you know. At this point, no one can know those answers.

The only thing anyone can know is that next season can’t be like this one. Whether the front office believes that will be the case with minimal changes or believe the opposite and try to make sure through radical ones won’t be decided today. The draft isn’t until June and free agency doesn’t begin until July. As much as we’d like for the makeover to begin now, it will have to wait.

And maybe that’s a good thing. Most great things take time to come to fruition. It may seem like they happen in an instant, but that’s just the moment when many hours of thought and hard work combine to create that defining moment. For this organization, some of those hours have already been put in but there are many more to go. From Jim and Mitch on down through the players.

In the end, I think Rey said it best when noting that this season was mercifully put to an end last night. Through all the bad moments I’ll try to recall the good ones, but even those are crowded out by what went wrong. As we transition to next year, hopefully what was will not be what is to come.

Darius Soriano

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42 responses to The Season That Was, Hopefully Not What Will Be

  1. D’Antoni: T Rogers is making sense to me with regard to the coaching spot. I would prefer to keep MD for one more year and then make the change, vs. attempting to hire an experienced type now (like a Van Gundy/Sloane type). However, that is one route. Another route would be to hire Shaw and be done with it (the Phil dream might just be too much to ask for). Shaw uses next year as his “get the feet wet” year, he goes through the trials and error, and he is in place for the wholesale change in 2014. Now if Jim Buss is unwilling to say “I was wrong” – then Shaw is out, and so is Phil, and B Scott is probably tainted as well, because he once wore the purple + gold. Another variable in the equation is DH. We need to sign him. I do not think MD is a plus for D12, but he may stop short of demanding change. He may just simply not sign if he is looking at the long term with MD. Perhaps a meeting between Shaw, DH, and others would be in order. Add Phil into the mix as our new Executive VP in Charge of Basketball Operations, and the franchise could be rejuvenated. Phil would of course report to Jeanie, who would be President of the Lakers. I would be happy with just the Shaw part, but hey – I figured to throw the other stuff in while I was at it : ) That is my hopeful scenario. Me skeptical one is that Jim retains power, Jeanie pouts, Phil writes 2 more books, Shaw pines for a real team, B Scott signs elsewhere, MD stays, DH goes, and FBG erupts with posts of displeasure. So isn’t my hopeful scenario so much better : )

  2. First..the coach needs to go…He shouldve been protecting Howard during the last few games….D.A. shouldve got a T instead of Howard..That would make a statement for the future…..Now you have to wait for Howard to make up his mind….but either way..with or without Howard the Lakers are far from winning a championship.Old age and injuries that are not getting better next season.Nash and Peace(if he comes back)with Hill would be a decent bench. Kobe…Howard(if he stays)Gasol(if played the right way) and Kobe is a decent 3 starters. Now the key is the 2 other spots..Younger and athletic ..but within the budget…Is that doable???? dont know…Morris and Godilocks as your back up guards…Trust this organization?? Dont know yet cause Jerry is not with us anymore so its a new organization per se….

  3. So Phil was effectively “playing hurt” in 2011. So you win 11 championships and go to the Finals 13 times in 20 years. You then get cancer and tough it out Kobe style, by finishing the year out. You then get accused of being over the hill and sleep walking through your final year, so you are done as a useful coach in the minds of some.

    http://www.cbssports.com/nba/blog/eye-on-basketball/22167333/phil-jackson-reveals-he-was-diagnosed-with-prostate-cancer-in-2011

  4. This longtime Laker fan (since ’65) is not interested in knee jerk emotional decisions on personnel. Not interested in building a team around a hope & a prayer. Front office needs to make the best decisions for the franchise going forth in order to become a serious contender again as soon as possible. Anything or anybody who distracts from that goal is not part of the solution…but a part of the problem.

    I understand and supported what was attempted this past season, but it didn’t work.

    The Lakers play for rings…rings. And unfortunately they will not be in position to win one next season. But with the right off-season moves, the Lakers can return to glory sooner than later.

    The Lakers won their 1st title in just the 3rd season of the BAA/NBA and would win 5 titles during the Mikan era.

    However it would be 18 long years until their 6th title was bought home by West & Chamberlain.

    Eight years later, Magic, Kareem & Company would begin their era, and add five banners.

    But it would take 12 years after their last one before the Shaq-Kobe Lakers started claiming titles for the Lakers. They would add 3.

    And seven years later the Kobe-Gasol Lakers would add 2 more.

    That’s 16 titles. It takes time to re-build or even re-tool. It will be three years in June since the Lakers were the last team standing. Long term planning, not short term is what it’s going to take to hoist # 17. And it’s time to get started…now.

    Jim Buss, the ball is in your court.

  5. From TrueHoop

    • Dating back to his stints with the Suns and Knicks, Mike D’Antoni is 1-14 in his last 15 playoff games as head coach. Elias says the only other coach in league history to lose 14 of 15 in the postseason is current NBA broadcaster Mike Fratello. His worst span was losing 16 of 17 from 1995 to 2006 while with the Cavaliers and Grizzlies.

    • Additionally, the Lakers’ expected starting five of Nash, Bryant, Gasol, Howard and Metta World Peace played only 189 minutes and 11 seconds together – just 4.8 percent of the team’s total minutes played during the regular season.

  6. BigCitySid,

    I love your post. Given the unknown factors, I can’t afford to to condemn our team to a minimum of 4 more years between a championship, but it has looked continually bleak for the last 3 years. I think something can get done but it is not always the best team that wins but the healthiest and luckiest.

  7. I’m probably not alone in this sentiment, but I’m tired out from this season. The results were bad enough, but the outcome was much more draining in light of the high expectations coming in. Next year, I won’t have particularly high expectations, so another early playoff flameout won’t likely leave me as exhausted.

    As for the future, I think it is time to start looking realistically at who can reasonably be expected to be part of the Lakers next title run (which won’t be next year). Optimistically, Kobe will come back determined as ever, and will use this disappointment to motivate another couple of years as a big PG. Dwight Howard has to be part of this plan. I have been a frequent critic of the big guy, and have questioned his status as a “franchise” player from the start of the season. He has many flaws (fundamentally unsound and limited game, very low bb IQ, not mentally strong) but he is probably the league’s best defender when healthy, and he does play hard on that end of the floor. For those who criticize him for not coming up bigger against the Spurs, I’d refer you to the photo on the front page of today’s LA Times sports section. In it, you will see Dwight covered by literally all 5 Spur defenders (at least two of which are blatantly fouling him). Not one Laker teammate is in the frame. That’s what Dwight had to deal with during this series (and, frankly, season) because he had no teammate who could consistently make outside shots. It’s hard to put up numbers (or even shots) when being defended by literally every available defender, and when two hands in the back, or multiple arm grabs, aren’t called as fouls, it’s not hard to see why turnovers follow. I don’t like Howard’s reaction to it, but I can’t say I don’t understand.

    Aside from Kobe & DH, I don’t see anyone on this team worth keeping or who has a shot at being a part of the next title run. None of the free agents (other than Howard) should be resigned for more than one year at anything over the minimum. Pau should be traded (if possible) or amnestied (if necessary) if Howard is re-signed. As for the coach, I am hoping that Mike Brown’s recent hiring will alleviate at least some of the financial burden on the Lakers, and will motivate them to cut the cord on the MDA experiment. Yes, he had no training camp, an old team, and almost historically bad luck with injuries. None of that changes the fact that he is a one-system coach, with virtually no record of success when it counts the most. Maybe Phil is unavailable or unaffordable, but you can’t expect Mike D’Antoni to get the best out of (or, frankly, know how to use) the league’s best defensive player or be the guy to lead the Lakers back to glory.

    I appreciate this forum and enjoy the well-written posts and comments, and I will look forward to updates throughout what will be an interesting offseason, but for now I’m just ready to put this catastrophe of a season (first round sweep, death of the owner, two inept head coaches, and a major injury to Kobe Bryant; ugh) behind me and direct my attention to football season….. Go Niners.

  8. @ Hale, thanks, appreciate the love. While I agree with you about health issue, luck not as much. In the NBA, comparatively speaking, luck has less influence. The more games a team has to win to be crowned champion, the less a role luck plays. And they have to win 16 in the NBA. Lol, if this was the NCAA or NFL, the Bulls & Warriors would be eliminated instead of leading their respective series 3 games to 1 with an excellent chance to advance.

    As far as the time between titles number 16 & 17, would anyone not sign on the dotted line today for the 17th title to come in 2015-2016? Sounds long, yes, but it’s only three seasons away. And the Lakers, even under the guiding hands of Dr Buss & Jerry West have never re-built or re-tooled a championship team in only six years.

    But, here’s hoping Jim Buss can.

  9. Shaun – I believe you have encapsulated the coaching discussion in a nutshell. The man has a terrible track record, but we could keep him since we had lots of injuries : )

  10. Sid: I would sign up to that yes. I would even concede that Kobe would not be a part of it if you guaranteed me the title. However would you concede that you probably wanted to throw the baby out with the bath water in the 2005-2007 years? You are favoring what I have always described as the “scorched earth” policy. I agree that hitting rock bottom is better than dwelling in the middle, but that does not mean we have to get rid of DH or arrange an early exit for KB. If you can figure out how to get LeBron or KD then I am with you, but a “Scorched Earth” policy simply followed by hope is something the wizards and Clippers tried for 3 straight decades and it did not work.

  11. Im not tired…because I didnt have foolish expectations.

    Dwight was what he is
    Nash was what he is
    MDA was what he is

    Nothing about this team said championship…the pieces didnt and dont match.

    I knew that ..the question is how the front office still doesnt know this.

  12. Funky Chicken: I think a few guys are worth keeping, the specialists. Goudelock (shooting), Hill (hustle guy), Morris and Clark. DM and EC have proven to having a few head scratching plays, but given roles I think they can contribute. That’s four 25 and under rotation guys who may come cheap and gained experience this season. If Morris and Clark learn how to dribble under control and develop a reliable jumper they fit D’Antoni’s system.

    Blaming teammates all year, showing a stat sheet around the locker room, getting thrown out of a few games and 49% FT shooting. All but one are part of a flaw. Immaturity. The only question about Dwight is whether he can grow up mentally like LeBron did after the 2011 Finals. Whatever the answer is is the answer to whether they should resign him or not. Farts in the locker room and being goofy people can live with, but throwing elbows, getting senseless offensive fouls and whining to refs all game is something that needs to change. If Dwight was to dunk on people after those hard fouls players would clear the runway when he’s in the paint.

  13. I hope they can find at least one player who can get (and make) his own shot. Look around the league, is there another team that is as lacking in this area as we are? I don’t think so. Even with our shortcomings, if we had a change of pace guard, or a scoring wing, it would open things up so much I could see us improving mightily on this season’s record. Some times it’s one piece that has a domino effect. The Spurs seemed to have a few guys who could make shots when the floor was spaced, or slash when appropriate. It’s a make or miss league, as JVG likes to say.

  14. @ Robert, understand your point, but no, I wouldn’t have wanted to blow up those Laker teams from ’05 – ’07. For one I was a HUGE Andrew Bynum fan, thought he would be the future of the Lakers. Kobe was still in his 20′s (& arguable the best player in the league), Phil was there, as was Dr Buss and the franchise had direction.

    This current group: front office, coach, players…not so much :-(. Now with that said, I haven’t mentioned eliminating anyone. However I would say no one should be off limits. Lots of things need to be considered.

  15. Rusty Shackleford April 29, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    To me it’s just disappointing that they only have one amnesty clause. What reason is there to believe that Nash will both stay healthy and regain his old form moving forward into the next $20 million dollars of his contract? Secondly, while I do appreciate everything Pau has done for the Lakers and he deserves just as much credit as Kobe for the two championships they won together, he has not been that player for the past two (3 regular) seasons and is not playing at a level that warrants his salary.

    Trying to keep a positive mindset – at least there is uncertainty moving forward. Who the hell would want to go into next season with the exact same set of circumstances?

  16. Darius – are you going to be posting up all of the exit interviews? do you think a single post could have all the video links once they are all done?

  17. Maybe I’m still fantasizing, but I still believe in the core of Kobe, Nash, Howard and Pau.

    If we manage minutes like San Antonio and look at the big picture, we actually need them all and will not have much trouble with sharing the ball and stuff.

    I know it has been rehashed to death, but i think it still will work if:

    1. Kobe and Pau for 20 minutes
    2. Nash and Dwight for 20 minutes, although Nash will probably work as a shooter more than a PG here.
    3. 5~10 minutes where they mix and match to build comfort.

    Now Metta will probably have to go, and whatever we do will eventually have to be what Orlando did if we are moving forward with Howard (get. some. shooters.) but I am cautiously optimistic.

  18. Harold,

    Of everyone you listed Nash is the one I have the most problem with. The PG position in the NBA (especially the West) is dominated by speed. To many guards are getting into the paint at will against Nash. Whatever he may give on offense is completely negated on the other side of the ball.

    Defense is also where my greatest concern is regarding Kobe. Can Kobe play the kind of wing defense needed to win games on a repaired achillies? Can he do it at 35 years old with his mileage? This may be one of those questions we don’t want answer.

    Pau is still decent. He is just not worth his current contract. I wouldn’t mind them keeping him next summer and reduced rate. It never hurts to have a 7 footer who can post up.

  19. As happy as I was last night when our season finally came to an end, one would believe that we had actually won #17. That’s how excruciatingly painful this year was for me. So much so that I was smiling last night when I shut it down for the evening after we were put out of our misery by the Spurs. I, like I’m sure plenty others within this FB&G Community, had high expectations for this season after the haul that we pulled in last summer. Personally, I had us in the upper echelon of the league (right along with Miami and OKC). Unfortunately, as the saying goes, ‘Paper doesn’t win Championships’ and due to an avalanche of injuries, terrible decision making by the FO and during certain portions of the season, just bad basketball being played, we ended up on the wrong end of a 1st round sweep.

    What I’m about to say next needs to be stated carefully, therefore, I’ll simplify it. Though I hated to see Kobe go out that way, I was ecstatic that he wasn’t around for the San Antonio sweep. Yeah, him not having to suffer through the embarrassment of getting swept in the 1st round, at this point of his career, was 1 of the highlights of the season for myself. For me, that sums up our year.

    With that being said, looking towards our future, I’ll focus on Dwight, Kobe, Pau & D’Antoni for now.

    Dwight – We must do everything within our power to retain him (even if it means removing we all know who from the sidelines). Yes, he’s far from perfect (atrocious free throw shooter, needs to work on his post game and, at face value, lacks leadership qualifications), but with all that being said, when 100 percent healthy (which, more then likely, he’ll be next year), he’s hands down the best Center in the league and a Top 5 player in the Association. Right behind LeBron, IMO, as the best 2-way player in the game. Add to that the fact that he’s still young (27) and can dominate AND win a game strictly based off of his Defensive Presence alone, is more than enough reason to lock him up long term.

    Kobe – Amnestying him is out of the question. As I mentioned earlier today on the season finale post, Jim Buss wouldn’t be able to move comfortably around the city of L.A. if he were to do so. I’m just Hoping and Praying that Kobe takes his time with this injury and doesn’t push himself unnecessarily for the sole purpose of coming back in time for the season opener (which he’s aiming for). An Achilles injury is the type of injury that, basically, has to heal itself. There’s not as much that an individual can do as it pertains to rehab for such an injury. Pace yourself Kobe, you’ve definitely earned the right to.

    Pau – I’ve stated it before within this community and I’ll state it again, as much as I appreciate everything that Pau has done for us in the past, it’s time for him to be moved for pieces and/or draft picks that can better assist the team in the near future and get lock n key with today’s NBA. I believe that Pau himself has intimated that he wouldn’t mind a change of scenery at this point of his career (I wonder why?). Granted, I know, with the organization wanting to free up as much cap space as possible for the summer of 2014, that moving him won’t be easy, but the rebuilding phase starts now and Pau just happens to be our biggest (and only) chip to secure a better future. The lone caveat being, shipping Pau out is all predicated upon us signing Dwight. But once we get Dwight’s ‘John Hancock’ on the dotted line, Pau must be moved (although, truth be told, I’m not too sure if Dwight, himself, would appreciate Pau being traded. Since it seemed, at certain times, like Pau was the only one looking to feed Dwight).

    D’Antoni – Never been a fan of his (going back to when he coached my hometown team here in the Big Apple). I felt that the FO made a huge mistake when they hired him, but I was willing to give him a look based off of our personnel. Turns out that alot of the same things that plagued him in previous stops, came back to bite him in his rectum with our organization. Concentrated on Offense specifically during his introductory Press Conference. Benched and verbally disrespected Pau 1-2 weeks after taking over for the other Mike (or Bernie). Tried to run an offense that wasn’t compatible to our personnel (until the players, themselves, from most accounts, switched it up). Made asinine comments to the effect of not knowing what he had in Meeks and E-Clark (as the Head Coach, it’s your job to know these things. Video Footage and Practices should’ve assisted). Made disparaging comments about the teams championship aspirations (Sham-mockery), couldn’t figure out how to effectively utilize both Dwight and Pau together until it was too late (tho granted, injuries played a part in that) and definitely contributed to Kobe’s career threatening injury. Jamison’s recent comments about no adjustments being made during the Spurs series (even if they would not have amounted to much) showed that he quit on the team. All along, alienating several of the players (Pau, Hill, Jamison, Meeks, Dwight and Kobe), while supposedly being a ‘player’s coach.’ With that being said, I wouldn’t put all of the blame on D’Antoni. Injuries and the FO played a part also. But D’Antoni definitely didn’t endure himself to a good portion of the Players, Media in L.A. or the Hard Bodied Lakers Fan Base. Do I believe that he’ll be relieved of his duties; even with the knowledge that Mike Brown has reconnected with Dan Gilbert? No. Unless Dwight requires so. But for all of those who say that he deserves a full training camp to implement his offensive schemes and the opportunity to assemble his own coaching staff, seems I’ve heard that before around these parts. And look where it got that individual, right back in Cleveland.

    Jim. Mitch. Work your magic.

  20. Can we stop with the smiley faces. What are we in, 3rd grade? Make your point and move on – unless of course you are making the same point over and over and over again.

  21. This longtime Laker fan (since ’65) is not interested in knee jerk emotional decisions on personnel.

    Like I said in the other thread, you are about the most knee jerk, emotional guy here when it comes to #24, and you wanted him out even before the injury. Leaving aside the question of whether amnestying him should happen, there are any number of reasons that it probably won’t. I also recall your post before the Spurs series in which you speculated about the “implications” of what would happen in the event of “the Lakers reaching the third round without Kobe.”

    Also, while the Lakers having cap space is different than a cold-weather, small-market team having it, cap space is not a magic bullet. Many teams with cap space have simply wound up using it to sign guys who happened to hit FA at the right time to inflated deals.

    Basically, all the big things–including D’Antoni, whether Robert likes it or not–will spin off of what Howard does. And, while I didn’t see the whole post, keeping D’Antoni for a year so they can fire him next year seems like a very bizarre suggestion.

  22. Referees have not given Dwight any breaks since joining the Lakers. It’s barely been a year since Dwight had surgery, so it’s exceptional that he was on the floor at the start of the season. He was probably just a bit too zealous to join the Lakers and did not anticipate the level of scrutiny that he would endure on the court. More than likely Dwight wanted Los Angeles to admire his desire to help the Lakers, even though he probably should have stayed out until at least December.

    On Sunday the referees acted as though they were insulted by having to work the game Spurs vs. Lakers JV squad. Dwight was swarmed whether he had the ball or not. A smart move by Popovich he knew that the junior guards would be incapable of replicating their game one performance, so they packed the paint and dared the guards to shoot from the perimeter.

    When Dwight got ejected he walked past Kupchak and said _____ _______ _______ the Lakers: Everything inaudible but the word Lakers. Kupchak did not even blink, so whether what was said was disparaging or not; only the few in the tunnel know for sure.

    So much is made of Kobe entering the arena when Dwight left the court; one had to be there to understand what transpired. At half time there was zero life in the crowd, a lack of overall energy from the crowd and it was so quiet you could hear someone chewing on a marshmallow on the opposite side of the floor. Dwight got ejected and the crowd garnered enough energy to boo the call. Earlier to those nearby I teased those close by that Kobe was coming out, so when the person sitting next to me said there’s Kobe I laughed but looked. Our section started shouting Kobe-Kobe-Kobe (everyone jumped up to happily click away taking pictures). Kobe-Kobe…people on the opposite side of the tunnel joined in and the Kobe chants crescendoed. Bryant’s mere presence had the area walls reverberating with energy. The Lakers on the floor utilized that jolt to bolster their confidence and performance in the absence of Howard, even though it was short-lived. Kobe smiled as he made his way to a seat behind the bench and gave his crutches to someone to take away. He immediately began coaching the players on the court (while the Lakers coach sat on his hands).

    Now, I said all of that to say that: a) Dwight might not have appreciated being upstaged by Kobe while the team was on the brink of putting a finale to the 2012-2013 season. b) Kobe knows what a playoff atmosphere sounds and looks like and it sure wasn’t taking place at the Staples center on Sunday. So, he chose Dwight’s exit as a way to encourage the team to continue playing hard, and he did.

    Chants to free Ebanks broke out periodically from a fan base about 10 rows behind the bench. The Lakers continued losing, and eventually the crowd settled back into its earlier indifference. Someone in the in that general area of 10 rows behind the bench shouted, “We love you D’Antoni.” A couple players looked back and snickered.

    Near the end of the game Pau was pulled off the court and appeared reluctant to leave, he appeared hesitant because maybe he thought that he would be booed. Lakers fans understand the position that Pau has been in all season long, so he got a very loud and warm thank you cheer. Whether it was a well-deserved thank you for all of your sacrifice this season or thank you for having been a Laker and winning two championships, I am not sure.

    This season is one that I’ll try to forget, but I’m afraid it’s embedded in my mind…right up there with Magic’s announcement season. Before the Lakers can wash the taste of this season out of their mouths, they will have to address this coach’s helplessness in making adjustments on the fly.

    While waiting for next season, I will return often to FB&G for updates and the usual summer basketball repartee with the regulars. I’d like to thank the FB&G staff for running a top notch site.

    Thanks to Robert for the Kobe Alerts: Here’s to hoping that he returns at an elite level.

    Lakers for Life!

  23. this season is really over. reality sinks in.
    3rd consecutive year that we’re left to wander how can our team be better.
    before the start of the season, we all have high hopes, our worse scenario is losing to the finals.
    and then everything went kaboom. (bad sign from pre-season games, then continued until opening week, change coach (bad change to say the least when PJ was available), still we trusted him with all our hearts and give him a chance, injuries started eating our season, like an old man becoming susceptible to all types of illnesses. whenever we recover, another problem kicks in, and when we’re enjoying our team playing even when we’re losing, we lose our best player. for me, this is the saddest season following this Lakers team. we were bullied by rubbish teams, we were outplayed, out-coached, and out-everything.

    just glad that its over and we can start anew. decembers not yet coming, but i have my basketball wishlist now-
    - sign DH (he’s the best center for the many years coming)
    - find a better coach (someone who knows the value of pride and find ways to win – PJ is available :) )
    - show us another magic Mitch (the one that will surprise this league)
    - Kobe coming back (does not matter if he’s better or not, just come back and play)

  24. Chearn,
    From people who were in the stands right by Dwight and Mitch, reports are he was yelling back to the court and upset about the referees.

  25. There’s a major difference between how this Lakers core was constructed and how the Spurs core was constructed, which makes it impossible to follow their formula of resting the veterans and letting the younger more athletic guys carry the load in the regular season: We grossly overpaid every one of our core guys. Duncan, Ginobli, and Parker all play for less than they could get somewhere else. We also traded ALL of our draft picks to get Pau, Nash, and Howard on the roster. So, there will be no Kawhi Leonard in the draft for us this year. Not to mention Jim Buss gutted our scouting core, so even if we had picks there’s a chance we would waste them. Oh, and the Spurs also have an all time great coach, which we had the chance to do, but passed on because, hey. Anytime you have a chance to bring in the guy who used to coach your 39 year old point guard in his prime, but failed miserably at integrating a true center into his offense, you have to go for it. Who cares if Phil is the best coach of all time? Those Suns teams were fun to watch. Anyway, Lakers management really screwed the pooch. Long rebuild ahead.

  26. Warren Wee Lim April 30, 2013 at 8:03 am

    There is no denying how bad the season was. Like I said in the previous posts… the one good thing about that is it can’t get any worse. Can it?

    As early as now, and in the most subtle way I know how, let me offer my 2014 Lakers in this manner:

    1. Re-signing Dwight is top priority. Too much intrigue is being floated around Howard and his relationship with the Lakers… I say its all media. I know the relationship is not 100% but I believe the Lakers are still way ahead of everyone on this race. My offseason is predicated on the Lakers getting Dwight back.

    2. Re-signing Earl Clark to a reasonable deal, after Howard commits, is imperative. Youth, athleticism, defense and hard work. Earl Clark embodies all of this and is therefore part of the solution. He is someone I would consider signing to something like 15-16M over 4 years. His age and his game would fit very well beside Dwight, and is therefore a keeper.

    3. Jordan Hill starts. Remember him? The guy that puts in 100% of the himself, defends very well and rebounds even better? Yes he and Clark will form my ideal defensive frontcourt.

    We have defense, rebounding, athleticism and great rebounding for our frontcourt.

    4. Metta World Peace gets amnestied. Saves us lots of money, frees him to sign wherever he likes. Frees the minutes to start Clark.

    5. Waive Duhon.

    6. Retain Darius Morris.

    7. Trade Pau Gasol. Now since the details of this deal is not allowed to be discussed (since its speculative in nature) just know that I intend to trade Pau for guys that would fit a theme for my back court: Shooting and Size. I would also take a flyer at some younger pieces, hopefully one that had been picked in the lottery some years back. Overall, the pieces have to be younger, more athletic and have the team send us less salary than Pau’s 19 million.

    With the uncertainties to Nash, Kobe and the rest, I would urge us to take back Darius Morris on a 1-year deal. Such deal would allow him the opportunity to gain his full bird rights (3rd full season with the Lakers) and would have a guaranteed future for the team if this defense, hustle, shooting team proceeds.

    Overall, its no secret that the Lakers need to get younger. Younger and more athletic is our best bet trying to become a better defensive team. Defense is not a case of willingness as much as it involves capability. We need to get younger. More athletic. Then we can get healthy as well.

  27. Other than a great Ding article, there is very little detail about post Jerry Buss Laker management structure–the relationship between management and ownership. How much is the leadership of Jimmy and Mitch valued by stockholders with Jerry no longer the glue to hold things together? It’s not clear to me that their leadership is unquestioned by the family or the owners of the other 40%, and very real big money is on the table.

    It always starts at the top. . . . .

  28. I believe the Lakers should look to get under the salary cap next year to avoid the repeater tax and set ourselves up to rebuild a contender the following year with a reset tax bracket. We should not re-sign Dwight. We should waive Duhon. Try to resign Glock,Clark, and Morris to reasonable budget contracts. Hope that Nash retires. Hope that Metta opts out. I would if absolutely necessary amnesty Gasol but, I think he is still a solid player who if moved back to center would put up his numbers. I think it would be great to keep him a few more years at a reduced pay scale.

  29. Apparently there was too much pressure on dwight.. and kobe didnt let mike brown or MDA coach

  30. Warren Wee Lim: Lakers already have Nash, Blake, Kobe in the back court. Adding more players on the perimeter without losing any creates a log jam. If the Lakers were to send Blake out too they’d be receiving close to the $19 million Pau makes. Putting them back in the same cap mess they are in now. It’s tough to find back court players, unless New Orleans wants to rid themselves of a sg, who can help right away and make close to what Pau makes. I agree with your whole post. It’ll be hard to swap Pau for young talent who can perform right away, though and not risk the 2014 cap. Usually takes two desperate parties to move this high salary.

  31. Dwight is serge ibaka with bigger muscles and less range.

    Why the lakers want to go all in on him is beyond me.

    The league has changed.. we need to think small.

  32. Jamison blew off his exit meeting.
    I thought Ebanks held his composure during his considering how badly it could have gone. The origin and finality of his doghouse status remains a mystery.

  33. A season ends. Someone is left standing in triumph. This was the Lakers in the 80th game of the season. It was hard fought, players played for each other, desperate shots were taken, clutch shots were made, defensive stands resulted in stops. When I look back at the season I will remember the Lakers’ win against the Golden State Warriors for many reasons. Personally, I think it was one of the great games the Lakers have played in the last 10 years. Watching Kobe try to play a third game of 48 minutes, battle through two injuries and then go to the line, the game on the line, the line of his achilles tattered- he actually sunk those shots.

    I am not of the mind that players need to go out on their own terms. We don’t make terms with fate. You can bring in the best defensive player in the league couple him with a top 10 player all-time, one of the best PGs of his generation, another defensive player of the year winner, and the most skilled big in the game… you can do all that and Fate still makes her terms. But, we had that game. We saw Kobe shoot two free-throws on a leg most of us would have stayed off of. We saw OT. We saw great shot making and great defense, and heart from every player on the court. This is entertainment. Even in this shredded season, even with the injuries, even with the losses, we had that great game. We don’t need a 7 game series to decide it for us. That was as amazing a game as I’ve seen in a long time. It made me proud of our team. I had that this season.

  34. Thanks, Darius. I’m not buying that proposed exchange.

  35. Chearn,
    Well, I don’t know what to say beyond I got it on pretty good authority he wasn’t talking to Mitch Kupchak and that he was upset about the refs (this goes beyond what I was talking about earlier). But if you’re “not buying it” good on you.

  36. Hale, there is little mystery in Ebanks’ doghouse status.

    There is a screenshot from the Lakers Backstage show on Time Warner. I saw it on Twitter and I think Darius had a look at it. The camera had passed through an area in the training room, I believe, and posted on the wall was a board showing each player, the number of training sessions they had participated in that week, the average number of sessions in the season and the total number of sessions. Ebanks was at the bottom of the list and his total number of sessions was what guys like Metta, Nash, Dwight, and Blake did in 2 weeks.

    Obviously, that could be a symptom rather then the reason. If I were a guy struggling with playing time, I hope I would be busting my butt trying to force the team to give me time or getting prepared to show my ability for another team.

  37. Vasheed, you can’t amnesty a player you traded for after the lockout.

  38. P. Ami, the Persons we can currently amnesty are Gasol, Metta, Blake, or Kobe who were all on our roster before the current CBA. I did not suggest amnestying anyone not on that list. I think the Lakers will likely amnesty either Metta or Gasol. I believe next season would be best served by getting under the salary cap avoiding the repeater issue however necessary, eyeing 2014 as the year we will have the flexibility to sign some talent.

  39. Got it, I saw you wanted to waive Duhon and my mind thought amnesty. Never mind. My bad.

    I don’t think the Lakers amnesty Gasol. Too much of an asset. You don’t just let assets go. There are teams that can take on Gasol’s contract, if that is direction the team wishes to go, with few changes to their roster. I believe Houston has the flexibility to get under the cap. They have a player or two on the that roster that I think would be great for the Lakers and Gasol could fill the low post void for them.

    There are a number of creative moves out there and, at this point, creative is what we’ll need to see if we are going to get a good competitive team next season. I don’t think dropping into the bottom 5 is an option considering the talent we hope to keep. A team with a healthy Dwight is not likely to be bad enough to earn a high draft pick. So, the only option, really, is creative.

    Utah has assets that can be moved to teams with space. It is possible Mitch can work some moves involving Utah and a team like Houston. Cleveland seems to have a relationship with Mitch. Maybe they want to get some veterans around Sanders, Kyrie and whomever they draft. There are ways to facilitate moves and retool. It’s difficult, but I don’t think a mediocre season that nets a high to mid lottery pick is a good option, no matter what it does for the repeater. I don’t believe there is anything more then a 2% chance that LeBron comes here. He is the only guy worth blowing the team up for. Mitch is a smart dude and lets see what he can do.

  40. I’m a little fuzzy on draft picks but, I think all of our picks have been sent off already anyway. I’m looking at this only from a standpoint of how the current tax system work. Because of the way penalties work if you want to put a couple of guys on your team with big contracts then you have to get under the cap to reset the repeater tax. There has to be a year the lakers do not spend over the cap and then go out and spend. With the way the lakers set up their contracts they are going to out and spend in 2014. This next season the only reasonable course is to cut salary. Getting some pieces would be great but not at the expense of keeping high pay roll next season.

  41. A team like Utah has two assets that they may like to sign and trade if opportunity arose. The Lakers cannot do this because of their cap-status. Larry Coon would be a better person to ask about this, but I do believe Utah might sign and trade with a team that has space and the Lakers could be involved as long as they do not take on additional salary. It’s a tough trade to manage, as all 3-way trades are. I don’t know what Houston wants to do now, as it seems what they are doing is working fairly well. They are young, they are entertaining, they are pretty inexpensive, Asik is developing, etc… I’m not so sure they become a contender with the current roster. So, there may be moves to make that the Lakers could get in on. Whether it gets them out of the repeater tax, I don’t know, but there may be options that pundits haven’t considered.

  42. “We should not re-sign Dwight. We should waive Duhon. Try to resign Glock,Clark, and Morris to reasonable budget contracts.”

    Sign three borderline rotation guys and let a top 5 player in the league walk? I hope this is deadpan humor and not a serious basketball point.

    Was anybody looking to let Kobe walk and bring back Brian Cook, Ime Udoka and Jamal Sampson in 2004? That would be the same quality advice.