Around The World (Wide Web): What Lies Ahead For The Lakers

Ryan Cole —  April 30, 2013

From Mike Bresnahan, LA Times: Steve Nash couldn’t finish this season because of injuries, but he knew where to start next season.With Dwight Howard. Nash was “very hopeful” the soon-to-be free-agent center would return to the Lakers. ”I think this is the place for him,” Nash said Monday. “He’s in the prime of his career. He’s got his best years ahead of him. He can play for one of the greatest franchises in sports and an amazing city. This has got to be the place for him and I’m hopeful that he sees it that way.” Howard, 27, can sign a five-year, $118-million deal with the Lakers in July or a four-year, $88-million deal with another team. Reserve guard Jodie Meeks, who built a solid bond with Howard during their first season with the Lakers, also seemed to think a reunion would be best.

From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen & Roll: The season from hell. A nightmare. The cursed year. These are the words being bandied about Lakers Nation now that the 2012-2013 Los Angeles Lakers has been mercifully put to rest. From the fans to the bloggers, the players and even the coach, everyone agrees this year was an abysmal failure on all fronts. Therein lies the problem … on all fronts. If the Lakers’ troubles were singular, or uniform, knowing what to do next would be easy. If the problems all stemmed from poor chemistry, or ill-fitting personnel, then the solution would be much simpler. If injuries were all that kept the Lakers from being great, there wouldn’t be a need to do anything at all. But the Lakers organization is not that lucky. Instead, they have many difficult decisions to make, and very little real information with which to make those decisions. That’s the worst part of the debacle that was the failed 2012-2013 Lakers season: Not knowing whether to try it again.

From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: The San Antonio Spurs didn’t just end the Lakers season, they put Los Angeles out of its misery. That was the first time the Lakers have been swept in the first round of the playoffs since 1967, but you could see it coming for a long time. From the injuries during training camp, to the firing of a coach five games into the season, to the hiring of a new coach with a radically different philosophy and style that didn’t match the roster, to more injuries, to fan dissatisfaction, to Kobe Bryant blowing out his Achilles, it was all building to this ugly sweep by the Spurs. The question now is how do the Lakers spend their summer vacation? What steps do they take to become the contenders they thought they were back in October. Here are five suggestions.

From Dave McMenamin, ESPN LA: Just before 1 a.m. on Monday morning, a few hours after leaving Staples Center following the Los Angeles Lakers’ season-ending loss to the San Antonio Spurs, Dwight Howard addressed his murky future with the team. ”I hope I get the chance to make it up to you! Thank u la,” Howard posted on Twitter. Whether that means Howard will indeed sign a five-year, $118 million contract extension when he becomes a free agent come July 1 and remain a Laker remains to be seen. Howard will be able to explain what he meant by the tweet when he addresses the media following his exit interview with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak on Tuesday, much like some of his teammates did Monday, including Metta World Peace, who said too much was put on Howard’s shoulders this season. ”I think we put a little too much pressure on Dwight and as responsible leaders, we gave him a little too much responsibility,” said World Peace.

From Kelly Dwyer, Yahoo Sports: In terms of overall word count, the NBA blogosphere probably broke the all-time record this season when it came to the 2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers. It’s true that the 2010-11 Miami Heat, fresh off of LeBron James’ annoying “Decision,” really turned on the content providers, but something about this collection of stars hit home with both writers and readers. It certainly hit home with me. The chance for the two greatest guards of their respective generation to mix with the NBA’s best center and most versatile big man had me salivating last summer. I didn’t appreciate Los Angeles’ borderline-cruel great timing as they seemingly fleeced both Orlando and Phoenix into acquiring the services of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. Even with the caveats – age, health, the presence of Mike Brown on Los Angeles’ sideline – I assumed that an 82-game season would last long enough for the Lakers to figure it all out and start to find their groove just as they hit the postseason.

Ryan Cole

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27 responses to Around The World (Wide Web): What Lies Ahead For The Lakers

  1. As the old saying goes, “May you live in interesting times.”

    Most fans would prefer to live in less interesting times, say spring 2001, when the only question out there was would the Lakers lose one playoff game. But we are where we are, and in all honesty, what right do we have to complain? We’re a spoiled lot, and while a few down years may be on the horizon, the Lakers’ mediocre years warrant piddling “division title” banners in other stadiums. (Or in the Clippers case, at Staples.)

    The Lakers will be back. Hopefully sooner than later, but 2013-14 doesn’t seem realistic given where things now stand.

  2. Funny how past decisions significantly shape the future. Recall after PJ ‘retired’ how Kupchak wanted to hire Adelman as coach. Adelman was seen as a logical transition to ride out the last three years of Kobe’s contract. He was known as a player’s coach and his offensive scheme was similar to PJs. Jim Buss saw differently and sensing a need to demonstrate his authority chose Mike Brown. I often wonder if Adelman would have better maximized the last few years of Kobe’s greatness. I guess we’ll never know.

    Also recall that prior to hiring Mike Brown Jim Buss did not consult with Kobe. At that time Kobe was arguably the best player in the game (Lebron had not won a ring yet). My point being is that Buss Jr. was willing to risk ticking off the one player that could lead the Lakers to a championship just to prove a point. What is Buss willing to do with him now that Kobe is injured and likely to lose significant playing time next year? I get the feeling that using the amnesty clause on Kobe is not that far-fetched.

  3. My biggest disappointment about this season is Kobe’s injury. Now, moving forward, the Lakers don’t have a true superstar that other teams fear. Kobe was that x-factor that always had to be respected. Dwight Howard is a fine player, and I don’t think he was able to play close to his best this year as he recovered from his back surgery. But the holes in Dwight’s game, particularly his poor free throw shooting, allow other teams to handle him.

    Kobe always gave the Lakers a puncher’s chance. The uncertainty of ever having that chance again with him makes me extremely sad.

  4. While I was extremely pleased wIth the team’s acquisition of Nash and Howard, I didn’t think it would be enough for the Lakers to win the Chip this season. I did think they would be much better than what they eventually became. I don’t think it’s far-fetched to imagine they could have added another 10 victories had they not been saddled with a decade’s worth of injuries in one year. I thought that some tweaks going into year two of this configuration of The Show would allow this team to really compete at the highest level. Obviously, none of this happened. Time to re-tool.

  5. Terri –

    I can only see the Lakers amnestying Kobe if feedback from his recovery is not positive. Additionally, I think that Kobe would have to go public about being open to doing so for the benefit of the team. Groundwork would have to laid for ‘returning to the Lakers when he was healthy in 2014/14′.

    The way amnesty works is that teams (starting with the worst records) have first dibs on bidding on the player. If you really want to see Kobe ticked off then envision him playing for Charlotte after the All Star break next year. If Kobe is amnestied it’s because he is not planning on playing next year.

    On a side note – is there any way that the other Buss kids can vote Jim out as head of the Lakers? Would love to see Jeanie in control and hire PJ as President with Mitch as GM. Can you imagine Kobe coming back to play PG in the Triangle with Brian Shaw as the head coach.

    Now that would be awesome.

  6. Sorry Leo… but what makes Jeannie a better candidate than Jim to run the Lakers? The fact that she is going to marry Phil? That seems to me like a leap of faith.

    Look, Jim has made big mistakes. But, there is no guaranty that Jeannie would be any better. To imply that she will be better because of Phil is a misogynistic comment that implies that she is only as smart as the man she happens to share her bed with. Would you feel the same way if she were married to a nobody?

  7. I hope Howard comes back. In retrospect our trade for him (Bynum and picks) is a steal for the Lakers. Howard over Bynum is a no brainer considering they have interchangeable salaries. Howard is a much more valuable asset.

    While I will agree that Howard is not a superstar on Kobe’s level (few are) he is certainly young and skilled enough to be the centerpiece of the Lakers’ next championship run. The challenge is to come up with complementary talent around him.

    For the Lakers 2013/14 is an unknown. With the team over the cap there is not much the team can do except fiddle around the edges. If this holds true then next year will likely be disappointing. Howard would be much healthier and more productive. But Pau/Metta would be another year older/slower. Plus the Lakers would have to replace Kobe for a good portion of the regular season.

    However, should dominoes start to fall this summer, i.e.: Howard leaving outright or Kobe indicating that he will miss all next year and being open to being amnestied – then I could see the Lakers sacrificing next year in an effort to maximize free-agency and the draft prior to the 2014/15 season.

  8. Manny:

    Relax – where did you get ‘misogynistic’ from my comment. I happen believe that Jeannie is smarter and better prepared to lead than Jim. If working with PJ creates better management chemistry then the tension currently between the siblings then I’m all for it. I just want what every Laker fan wants – a better product on the court.

    Besides, this is a message board based on expressing opinions. Of all the posts to over react about you chose mine?

  9. IMO Kurt Helin has done the best job of capturing a broad outline of likely Laker decisions for the 2013-2014 season so far: stick to the two year plan as closely as possible. Sign Howard. Expect Kobe to be back by Fall–fully capable by January. Retain D’Antoni. Amnesty MWP. Try unsuccessfully to trade Pau. Go for broke . . . .

    WHOOPS

    I wonder if they carried out a risk/reward analysis and presented it to the shareholders yet? Here are some obvious concerns that a shareholder might want addressed:

    1. Health of Kobe for 2013-2014. When would an outside expert, not connected with the Laker FO, predict that Kobe would reach the recovery level of, say, a Chauncy Billups: Opening day? January? Playoffs? Not until next year?

    2. How much would the Lakers expect D’Antoni to further adapt his coaching style to a defense oriented, inside out, style of play? Or, would they expect D’Antoni to use the offseason to further implement his style?

    3. How much would the Lakers rely on a short rotation without integrating the younger second tier players (such as Goudelock, Morris, Hill, Clark, and Sacre)?

    4. Other than a healthy Steve Nash, who would hit the perimeter 3′s to free up Howard on the inside, and reduce the frequency of hard fouls?

    5 Who would defend against the penetrating point guards in the NBA next year?

    6. How much money would be available for new free agents under the best and worst scenarios? To calculate this, if they re-sign in 2014, how much would the Lakers expect to pay Kobe and Pau (or his replacements)?

    7. Assuming that the risk is as much as $85 million in penalties, what is the expected likelihood that the Lakers would: 1. win a championshjp, 2. make the playoffs and advance several rounds, or 3. not even make the playoffs?

    This type of questioning might lead the stockholders to seek new answers from a substantially modified front office. Under these circumstances, Kurt’s projected scenario might change drastically.

  10. Manny,

    Jeannie is a Laker lifer, unlike Jim who got interested in basketball in his 30s, and is loved by the fans. But more importantly, I believe she would implement the same philosophy that her father used….which was to hire great basketball people and allow them to do their jobs. Sure, Jerry had his say when it came to the big decisions, but for the most part, he allowed Jerry West, the scouts, and the rest of his hires to do their thing.

    Jeannie would also not let her ego or pride get in the way of making the right decision. There’s a reason that Magic, who loved Jerry, despises Jim s leadership and decision making.

    The addition of Phil Jacksons wisdom to the organization would only be a plus.

  11. Leo – Ok. i took my meds. I feel better now.

  12. Manny:

    I am a woman and did not interpret Leo’s post to be ‘misogynistic’. I’ve always liked Jeannie and in my estimation her experience from being with the Lakers for so long is a huge positive. What is even more important is that she learned the trade at her father’s side. I trust her judgment much more than I do Jim’s.

    Have you seen ESPN today? Toronto is making a huge push to hire PJ as the Raptor’s President. So imagining Phil heading up an entire organization is not some fantasy.

    I’m with Leo, just relax.

  13. Neither Jeanie nor Jim Buss are the best people to be making basketball decisions. The difference is that Jeanie knows this and, I suspect, would be wise enough to let her people do their job while she does hers. (And from everything I’ve heard she’s been A-plus at running the business side of things.)

  14. The lakers just have to eat the bullet. I prefer they stand pat whether or not Dwight signs.if he doesnt, in 2014 they’ll have cap space and Kobe’s and gasols bird rights. So they could do kinda what Miami did which was sign two big players under cap space and sign dwade because they had his bird rights. I may be wrong thinking they could do it because I don’t know exactly how the new cap works.

    I don’t see pau being amnestied. He could be traded if the got a star back but otherwise I think we will see the same team pretty much. They have needs but they still have what it takes to be really good. They did finish the season like 20-8.

    And they won’t amnesty kobe. Can you imagine the first things Jim buss does as the sole decision maker is release kobe. Add that to the list of hiring mike brown, firing mike brown, embarrassing Phil, then hiring Dantoni.

  15. Leo

    Things may well happen. Majority owners in every business can remove minority owners with the proper votes. Might be costly but so then in losing 12 or so playoff home games. Phil is not going to Toronto. No way no how. I do believe he will be a Director of Basketball Operations somewhere next year.

    Things could get very fun then.

  16. humbling and learning experience comes to mind when thinking back over this past laker season. never has so much been expected and disappointment set in as a result of the abrupt ending in the first round of playoff series.

    silver lining to all this is that we saw a transformation during the season; a change in the thinking and the sacrifices made for the greater good of the team. something to build on if the core of the team remains to play another year.

    saw a little of kobe bryant, dwight howard and mitch kupchak exit interviews on twc and as expected, positivity protures from every fiber that is kobe bryant. on the other hand, my impression of dwight howard is that he is a person that feels deeply. deeply hurt by the lack of fan support; good, bad or indifferent. what speaks volumes, he mentions that he came back 4, 5 months early from back surgery to the start of training camp and never looked back. probably doesn’t help that he is critized by former laker center, shaq, the diesel, the big aristole, et al. me thinks dwight’s hesitancy is rooted in his sensitivity to the bright lights of los angeles media, all media and laker fanbase. he looks to feel under appreciated, often criticized and maligned and for this, he says will need to weight out his thoughts prior to making a decision as to his future plans in basketball; translation: commiting to the los angeles lakers.

    my take on mitch kupchak’s comment, the sooner the better speak volumes because it proves that he is no closer to the decision and the thoughts that dwight has at this time than the rest of us. not a good situation to be in and yet he shows restraint and respect toward howard’s decision to be with his thoughts. to place laker nation (possibly unbeknownst to him) on temporary hostage; ie tie mitch kupchak’s plans to move forward because obviously dwight howard is in the immediate and long term laker ownership/management plans. he made that plain and clear to all.

    the proverbial ball is now clearly and plainly in dwight howard’s court. some are patient and understanding. some are not. many were made to be jaded by a misunderstood, possibly jaded man. foremost, he is still just a man. the majority of laker nation understand the resolve of patience if for no other reason than to have lived thru this past season. a season of expectation and a season of no avail. hopefully, injuries aside, not a season worth repeating in the smallest sense.

    let’s give the man his breathing space.

    Go lakers

  17. Matt Barnes disappearing in the playoffs again.

    How do you like him now?!

  18. Warren Wee Lim April 30, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    Does anyone here even remember how we lambasted Mitch Kupcake before he made the Gasol trade? The Ariza trade? The Shannon Brown trade?

    Jimmy hasn’t had enough monumental failures to warrant this kind of hate. He did what was possibly the best he could do – but injuries ravaged us to a point that decimated our hopes. Nothing he could have done to prevent such an occurrence.

    I still make out this season as a success on the trading front. Signing FAs is a huge question mark for franchises and the best way to get a star that you did not draft is via trade. And we did just that.

  19. Developing talent takes time. Thr FO knows that we can always trade for our stars and we don’t have to have 7 years of irrelevance just to have a “shot” at a high pick. Which might never pan out anyway. Buy a proven talent, like we did, and give your franchise the best shot at winning it all. This is the job of the front office and not to guarantee a championship.

  20. As for Jeannie vs Jim, its really just an excuse to find better results. There is no reason to believe the injuries wouldn’t have happened if it was Jeannie at the helm and Phil at the sidelines. The sooner you realize this the better it is for everyone to pla nout the future. Dont get stuck with useless what-ifs that wouldn’t have mattered anyway.

    Part of Jerry Buss’ greatness was his ability of foresight, forget not that he placed Jim in here for a reason. Jim is part of Jerry’s plan.

  21. In other news, the grizzlies just made CP3 the best scorer on the Clippers. The rest of the team are rendered useless or ineffective.

  22. Based on watching his interview, I don’t think D12 is coming back. He doesn’t like the coach, seemed upset when he was thrown out of the game at Mitch (could anyone read his lips to see what he yelled at Mitch?), and didn’t seem to like Kobe’s mentoring style. Pau seems happy to leave based on his interview.

  23. Joel – in 2014 when Kobe and possibly Paus contracts expire we maintain a cap hold which is a percentage of their contract that is like a phantom contract in that it removed the possible cap space we could use until they are signed – so until we resign them to lower amounts or guys walk – we would essentially have no cap space in 2014 anyway – 20 mill for Howard – 20+ mill cap hold for Kobe – 15+ mill cap hold for gasol

  24. The lack of patience is not a virtue.

    The general tenor of the comments seems to be that we need Phil back and don’t like Jim Buss. In general terms that means you don’t like the unpredictability of the future and want to go back to a successful past. Not so different from some political views out there.

    The problem is that the future continually becomes the present and unexpected problems always arise. Phil is not the answer to our problems. His system, while successful, does not fit with the current CBA and NBA rules changes favoring a more open game. Ironically, it was Mike D. who was the one pointing this out to the other teams in the NBA. If fans were to look at the rules as a reflection of our society, where deep thought is not encouraged, but highlights are, they would see why the entertainment rules of NBA basketball have changed – this is entertainment, after all. Perhaps we should encourage the front office to give Mike D. some more rope.

    Warren pointed out that Jim was part of Jerry Buss’s plan. It may be that he was simply trying to make his son a success, but our main complaints would seem to be that 1) he is not his dad, 2) that he doesn’t hunger for the limelight and give us glib answers to questions, and 3) that he must have been the one responsible for any past bad decisions because his dad couldn’t have made any mistakes – see #1. Jeannie is a very engaging face for the Lakers – being very good looking in a male culture doesn’t hurt – and she is engaged to Phil. This connection to Phil would seem to be the key point in her part of this conversation.

    We are in a down-cycle. We will be disappointed during this time. To bad! That’s life! I saw it in the 70′s and in the 90′s and I suspect this will be no different.

  25. Jim is a neophyte. There is ample evidence that shows Laker fans will suffer until he figures out what he’s doing. Give him credit for pulling the trigger on Dwight and Nash, but he’s been a disaster in many other areas.

    He should suck it up an make peace with Phil – whether he invites him back or not. Given the total screw up earlier this year (and yes that is all on Jim) it would make a lot of sense to not only the fans but the players.

    It doesn’t take much effort to find plenty of reasoned opinions questions Jim’s basketball knowledge and managerial skills. He’s had plenty of time to prepare, and it’s unfortunate he’s still got a lot of basic skills to acquire.

    He certainly didn’t walk into the best situation with an aging roster, a new CBA and no real draft picks. But it’s not like he didn’t see it coming.

  26. I agree that we should look at the plusses and minuses on Jim Buss, rather than just trashing him; and any eval of him, must, again, include the Veto.

    That said, when you make the kinds of moves that he has WRT choosing the coach, going against conventional wisdom three times (hiring Brown, canning Brown, hiring D’Antoni), you need to be right.

    And Craig leaves out some of the other specific complaints that people have made about Buss:

    1. Canning Ronnie Lester
    2. Canning Rudy G
    3. Canning and turning over the scouting staff

    While we cannot draw a straight line between any of these moves and the team’s performance, given how things look right now, asking the questions is reasonable.

    And, I will hold Buss partly (emphasis on partly) responsible if Howard walks.

  27. It is interesting that we ascribe all the good moves to his father and all the moves we disagree with to Jim Buss. Jerry Buss was still in on Laker decisions until almost the end of his life. While he may not have been as dominant as earlier, he certainly was never a wallflower to what Jim wanted.