Four Questions From Lakers’ Exit Interviews

Darius Soriano —  May 3, 2013

The aftermath of a disappointing season is always difficult. And, for the third straight season, the Lakers’ season ended in a manner that not only qualifies as disappointing but also leaves everyone grasping for answers as to what went wrong and what the future holds in terms of fixes to try and ensure these results don’t repeat themselves next season.

In the exit interviews the Lakers players, head coach, and general manager had earlier this week, there were many different topics discussed. Everyone reflected on the season that was and touched on various topics of import related to next season. In watching all those interviews with the media, there were several questions raised that linger without answer at this time. Here are a few that I think are most pertinent in terms of preparing for next season…

1. When will Dwight Howard make a decision? The Lakers’ stance on Dwight was reiterated several times by all the key people. Mitch Kupchak, Mike D’Antoni, and Kobe all issued the same talking points in reference to Dwight: they all want him back, the all think Los Angeles is the place for him to be, and they all respect his space in making this decision.

However, it was that last part where Mitch Kupchak also gave a bit of a nudge in stating that the sooner Dwight does decide the better it is for everyone. Mitch specifically referenced how a quick decision would allow the organization to plan better for next season while also stating it would allow Dwight to establish roots in the community and make the contacts outside of basketball that could benefit him in a market like L.A.’s.

Dwight, however, doesn’t seem in that big a hurry. He said he wanted to get away from the game for a while and tune out everyone around him when trying to make this decision. In the past he’s also hinted at wanting to get a sense for the market for him and to hear the pitches of the various teams that would court him.

This creates a bit of a dilemma for the Lakers in that there are ways to make over a team that come well before when free agency begins on July 1st. Draft day, for example, is in June and is a time where trades can be made to change the landscape of a roster. If the Lakers had a commitment from Dwight before the draft, that could change how they approach that day and could lead to a reworking of their personnel. Conversely, not knowing could leave them without the solid footing they’d need to makeover their roster on a day when a lot of teams are willing to deal.

This is just one example, but it’s true no matter what the date is. The Lakers want to know what Dwight’s going to do because it’s difficult to build a roster when you don’t know if one of your foundational building blocks will be playing for the team in the coming season or not. It’s Dwight’s right to make the choice in whatever manner he sees fit, but delays may end up being problematic.

2. What will happen with Pau? The Spaniard’s exit interview offered good insight into the organization’s thinking about his future. In short, Pau is the Lakers’ best trade asset and will be treated as such. If a team wants him, he’s available and if the right offer is made he could easily be on another team next season. I for one, wouldn’t be happy about this, but it’s the reality of the situation. I see Pau as a fantastic teammate and a championship level player. That said, I also see him as a player with positional overlap with Howard and someone who needs to be a focal point of the team’s offense to be at his absolute best.

If that can’t happen with the Lakers — be it due to coaching, the other players on the team, or any other factor — it may be best that he’s moved.

Needless to say, it will be interesting to see which direction the organization goes in when it comes to Pau. He’s an expiring contract and the fact that his deal expires the same year as Kobe’s offers an opportunity for what would be a $50 million commitment to two players turn into a lot of financial flexibility in the summer of 2014. That said, cap space is just that: cap space. It’s not a contributing player and isn’t a key part of the future. The Lakers will need to figure out what matters more to them between Pau the player with the expiring contract and the financial flexibility they’ll achieve a year from now when his contract comes off the books and Pau the asset who could net a player via trade who could potentially be a nice fitting part for the future success of the franchise.

There’s no perfect answer here, only a preference. Which way the Lakers’ lean isn’t yet known and it will all be complicated by what other teams try to offer for Gasol, but it is clear the Lakers will listen.

3. When will Kobe be back and how well will he play when he does get on the floor? This is probably the greatest unknown and any answer at this point is speculation. History tells us that few players come back as good or better than they did before this type of injury. History also tells us there are few players as dedicated to training and who have had the type of success working back from injury as Kobe Bryant. These truths will collide at some point and the outcome will shape next year’s roster and, potentially, ones for the next few years.

If I were to guess, I’d say Kobe comes back as less the athlete but the same level a competitor with the same refinement and craft in his game. When it’s all combined, I see a very effective player who can still be a cornerstone piece to a contender. Of course, that may just be wishful thinking. But I’d add that no one has, historically, come out looking smarter for doubting what Kobe can accomplish.

4. Will someone get amnestied? The Lakers only have 4 candidates for the amnesty provision: Kobe, Pau, Ron, and Steve Blake. Kobe isn’t getting amnestied. Pau is the team’s best trade asset and can be of value as a contributor while Kobe heals. He’s not getting amnestied either. That leaves Ron and Blake. Dealing with the latter first, Blake is coming off his best season as a Laker. He shot over 40% from behind the arc and really took well to Mike D’Antoni’s system. He also showed solid defense in the playoffs and down the stretch of the season. For $4 million next season, I could see the Lakers hoping he duplicates that effort and holding onto him.

Ron is a trickier player to evaluate. If you look at some of the more advanced metrics that measure team performance and lineup construction, Ron was one of the more important players on the team last year. Numbers that measure on/off court team production show Ron having nearly as much a positive impact on defense as Dwight Howard. And when you look at lineup data, Ron is part of nearly every single one of the team’s best performing lineups. That said, Ron is aging and his individual production is slipping. His defense isn’t at the elite level it was in 2010 and he doesn’t have the same ability to lock up wing scorers. His versatility on that end is still impressive, but that doesn’t completely override the fact that he gets beat more now than he did in the past.

If the Lakers do amnesty anyone, Ron is the likely target. His salary is nearly double what Blake makes and when you add in the luxury tax payment, a lot of money could be saved from making that move. However, the Lakers are in a position where they have major holes on the wing already. To willingly give up a wing player for nothing weakens the roster with no ability to bring in a replacement besides using one of their free agency exceptions (which, theoretically, would already be used to try and sure up the roster they have, not to replace a player they pay to go away).

I can see both sides of this argument, but if the team is really looking to save the money, I’d imagine they make the move to cut him loose. We shall see.

Darius Soriano

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95 responses to Four Questions From Lakers’ Exit Interviews

  1. IMO, the Lakers decided on a 2-yr plan and this was the 1st year. I think the most likely scenario is that they continue with this direction. They have already made a coaching change and another major change this summer probably means they have simply given up on the 2-yr plan.

    Therefore, I suspect MWP will not be amnestied unless the Lakers have replaced him by the July timeframe for this move.

    Should they give up the 2-yr plan, I suspect Kobe can pretty much give up any hope of another ring and concentrate on his statistics – the Lakers will be in a somewhat state of flux for the remainder of his career.

  2. Warren Wee Lim May 3, 2013 at 9:51 am

    I think one good point is also to ask if we keep which FAs to retain. And then who we go after.

    Of course everything hinges on Dwight.

  3. Warren Wee Lim May 3, 2013 at 10:01 am

    Steve Nash – Steve Blake – Darius Morris*
    Kobe Bryant – Jodie Meeks**
    Earl Clark* – X
    Jordan Hill – X
    Dwight Howard* – X

    Suppose you amnesty Metta and gave Pau up for expiring players that fit the bill. Thats how it would look.

  4. I don’t see any plan – and I cannot follow at all the logic ascribed above. Anyone with an understanding of Lakers history knows they would never move on such a short time span of 1 year or 2 years. Kareem, Shaq, Kobe – those moves were long term moves.

    The problem is that there are multiple moving parts. It’s a pretty difficult situation, and aside from Mitch Kupchak, I don’t know who else has the knowledge in the FO to deal with the situation. Most of the experienced staff was cleaned out a few years ago, and I have not heard or read about the replacements.

    If Jim Buss cannot think beyond 1 or 2 years, then laker fans will continue to suffer through his mistakes.

    The smartest thing would have been to patch up things with PJ, and see if he’d be willing to lend his thoughts. But he’s already doing that for Detroit.

    There’s a good chance that if Dwight stays, he will ask for a different coach – a coach that understands offense and defense.

    These rumors of McMillan coming as a defense coach seem to be coming from MDA’s people. McMillan is a head coach, not an assistant.

    Trading Pau for CP3 was a good deal, and I would be surprised if a similar one is going to arise over the summer. Trading Pau at this point really leaves the Lakers at a disadvantage. The Lakers will not get close to equal value and trading Pau is leaving Kobe on an island.

    The lakers would have a better chance of trading other, lesser valued players for one solid player and a diamond in the rough (like an Earl Clark). Kupchak has been pretty good at finding those players. It’s not an easy thing to do, and I don’t know who’s doing our scouting, so it may be more difficult than before.

  5. Dwight is good not great. He got swept and outplayed by Duncan. His athleticism predicated how good he would be. Since he’s not the best athlete in the league and skying over everyone he’s become a guardable player. Any player making max money shouldn’t be as easy to guard as Dwight is. He does rebound and defend very well affects that side of the court tremendously. Max money are for franchise players not defensive specialists. I would say Lakers should keep him but the only way that happens is if he gets max money and he’s not worth it.

    Pau still has value on the floor. He is not the player he once was due to injuries, but still impacts the Lakers offense. Without the lobs from Pau Dwight’s buckets would’ve been even harder to come by. He should only be dealt for a young player with upside i.e. Gordon, Bargnari or Derozan. Any deal for a young player probably affects the 2014 cap. In Mitch’s exit interview he said it depending on the player is whether they’d jeopardize the cap. I think those 3 are worth it.

    Amnesty is tricky. If Lakers want to get younger and faster they could amnesty Blake and keep Goudelock. Metta could be a possibility but sf would have a huge hole unless they trade for a young shooting guard and slide Kobe to small forward. Lots of decisions for the front office wouldn’t want to be in their shoes.

  6. This article lays it out perfectly. For me, the most important point is the first one. If DH intends to stay AND wants to win, he needs to tell LA as soon as possible so that they can begin retooling the roster. If he waits and waits and waits, we will be worse off than last year as we will have less time & fewer options to fix the holes in the roster.
    The front office should explain this to him as he doesn’t seem clear on this and then set a reasonable deadline for his decision.
    LA can give him max money & exposure, we all pretty much know the teams that will make a serious run for him that he would consider going to so just get on with it.
    I do realize that it is a huge decision but I honestly can’t believe he hasn’t thought about it this past season. I have this horrible feeling we are going to be held hostage by DH until the bitter end…and I truly hope I am wrong.

  7. Whether MWP gets amnestied or not likely depends on whether Pau is traded or not, and what pieces a trade would return.

    Whether Pau is traded or not likely depends on whether Dwight signs or not.

    Whether Dwight signs or not could possibly depend on whether MDA is fired or not.

    Whether MDA is fired or not likely depends on whether Pau is trade or not for pieces that better fit MDAs system.

    Whether Pau us trade or not depends on……..

  8. What exactly is there for Dwight to figure out and why do star players so often need to ‘make the rounds’ before deciding whether to stay or go? His agents/managers could sit down with him over lunch and brief him on possible destinations, their rosters, and each team’s possible additional moves that that team could make should he join them. Admittedly, he may want to sit down with the coach to see if they get along, but beyond that, what is there to figure out?

    I fear these kinds of tours are ultimately lowest common denominator nonsense, in which players, say, tour the Dallas locker room and think ‘Gee, I get my own flatscreen in my locker? Maybe I should sign here.’ If Howard *knows* he wants out, then I can completely understand why he might want to kick the tires on his various options, but I can’t understand why the decision whether or not to opt out would be aided by touring other teams’ facilities. As Darius notes, this kind of delay absolutely hinders the Lakers from optimizing the team around him.

    Finally, this Mamba vs. Mamba Mommy stuff is so sad…

  9. can Mwp come back for less? can they rewrite the last year of his contract? It sounded to me like he was hinting at something like that, and I get the vibe from him that he likes it here so much, that if faced with the possibility of amnesty, therefore getting more but playing elsewhere, and getting less but playing here, he might choose the latter.

    Also, while I still think they could use at least one more really solid Battier type defender/shooter, I was impressed by Goudelock and Morriss this playoffs and think they will have advanced a bit by getting some key minutes in the playoffs. So at the very least, think the team has improved the deeper part of the bench.

    Finally, why is there the assumption that Jamison is gone? is that a decision which seems to have been made by the FO?

  10. The Lakers have no choice but to take advantage of the salary cap tax reset available to them when virtually all the contracts roll off the books next summer. Any trades with Pau would not take back anything other than someone else’s expiring deal. So unless a team throws in a nice draft pick I do not believe that Pau gets traded.

    Since equal talent in return is unlikely the FO must decide whether Jordan Hill/Earl Clark (if he returns) can make up for Pau’s lost production. Of course a high draft pick may soften the loss but a pick is delayed gratification.

    Kobe’s dream of keeping the core in place for a championship run does not change a likely disappointing outcome. I believe that the FO will have to commit to a plan that makes the Lakers relevant past next season to ensure that Dwight resigns. Dwight wants assurances that he will not be alone after next season. However, making a move to ensure he feels comfortable resigning may upset the salary cap tax reset of next summer.

    I do not envy Mitch Kupchak’ s situation.

  11. The plan was very clear:

    1. Make a run in 2013
    2. Re-sign Howard
    3. Make a run in 2014
    4. Reload/rebuild around Howard, based on brand, market, Howard’s presence, and cap space, in 2014 and 2015.

    It was a very reasonable plan, but it simply did not work and seems very unlikely to work next year.

    I agree with Darius in the sense that I think some people are overrating the whole “Hit the reset button with cap space” thing and the value thereof. If LeBron James were still ringless in Cleveland and had grown up in So Cal as a Lakers fan, then OK: clear the books and go after him. But that is nowhere near the reality of the situation. He is in a great situation that he created for himself and in which he is enjoying massive success. Conceding that I have no idea what is in his head, I see little reason to think that he is looking to leave Miami any time soon.

    If the Lakers/Lakers fans want to wishcast abouit a future FA, Kevin Love is the guy, for obvuous reasons. But he is not a FA until 2015, as of now.

    So, IF Howard and D’Antoni stay, I think they should look at all options in terms of trading Pau for more shooting range upfront, more youth. more D and more quickness, because they are going to need those things anyway, both sooner and later. Having a couple of guys on the books on 2015 and 2016 who

    a) Can help the team
    b) Do not have onerous deals

    Is not a disaster; they are going to be buying guys like that in any case in summer 2014.

  12. Dwight’ll be back … he’d be leaving crazy money on the table to go to … Dallas? Uh, that’s not like taking one’s talents to South Beach.

    He is max contract worthy. He’s no Wilt, no Shaq, and certainly no KAJ, but he’s good enough to get max money in today’s NBA.

  13. can Mwp come back for less?

    ___

    He has a player option for around 7M, which he would be foolish not to exercise, as I am pretty sure his agent has told him. His best bet is to take the 7M and if the Lakers Amnesty him, ring–chase and/or try to get home by signing in Brooklyn, who could actually use him as a bench guy.

  14. Re: Dwight – I read somewhere that he could go to Atlanta. Atlanta? ha, ha, ha

    sure

  15. As to Howard, the best basketball situation for him is probably Houston:

    1. The Rockets have an elite wing locked-up long-term, pretty near Dwight’s age.
    2. They have some 3P shooting.
    3. They are coached by one of the greatest low-post players in NBA history.
    4. Their franchise’s greatest player ever is one of the greatest low-post players in NBA history, and has mentored Howard.

    Also:

    5. The Houston fans would celebrate in the streets if Howard comes. That will not happen here.
    6. A lot of people would rag on him for bailing, but just as many would love him for telling the Lakers to pound sand.

    Against this, the Lakers offer:

    1. Guaranteed money + endorsement plusses
    2, The LA market and lifestyle
    3. The Lakers brand

  16. rr – heh, yeah that’s a pretty good analysis.

    Can see why DH would want to check out his options. He should!

    If I was a Lakers decison maker, I’d want him to want to be in LA.

    So, we’ll see.

  17. The overriding concern for all of these players is how healthy will they be next season and when will they return to health? Howard and Pau both have serious injuries to overcome. Three months of rest and rehab may not be enough for Howard’s shoulder to heal and who knows about his back. Pau has knee problems as well as plantar fasciitis, he may be approaching Bill Walton territory in that his minutes need to be severely limited. Kobe’s days of attacking the hoop with abandon are over which leaves a major hole in the Lakers’ offense. MWP was also playing hurt and it is hard to tell how much of his deficiencies as a defender were due to age vs injury. Depth and the use of bench players will be important if the Lakers are to have any success next season.

  18. If the Lakers amnesty Pau, I would love to see him picked up by either the Miami Heat or the Oklahoma Thunder. Either team would LOVE to have Pau.

    Miami with Pau would be devastating to every team in the NBA for at least the next FIVE years. He completes the team. He gives them exactly what they are missing – a world class center. Pau would play his natural position. The Lakers will NEVER win the NBA championship while Pau is in Miami.

    Oklahoma with Pau would take Oklahoma to their first NBA Championship. He completes their team – giving them a wold class center with the best offensive skills – who would be open all the time with Durant shooting from the outside. He would make Oklahoma equal to or better than Miami. Oklahoma and Miami will exchange NBA Championships for many years. The Lakers will NEVER win the NBA championship while Pau is in Oklahoma.

  19. I think the Lakers will keep Metta World Peace. They already have NOBODY to guard the wings or to guard opposing small forwards and power forwards. Who on the Lakers is going to guard Lebron James or Kevin Durant or Manu Ginobli? Come on. Be real.

    Defense wins championships.

    The Lakers suck on defense precisely because of the players not named Dwight Howard, Metta World Peace and sometimes Kobe Bryant (who won’t be able to defend well next year).

    It would be better to let all the contracts expire in 2014 then rebuild or renegotiate contracts then.

    It would be nice in 2014 to get Kobe and Pau to sign for 10 million a year each, Metta for 5 Million a year, giving the Lakers far more flexibility to get other players.

  20. RR’s points about Houston are spot on. If I were Howard I’d be taking a hard look at the Rockets right now. The money is not that big a deal. In four years Howard will be able to get another max contract as he will only be 31 years old. When you crunch the numbers I doubt he loses very much money by leaving the 5th year of a potential Laker deal on the table. The Houston option could be why is in no rush to make a commitment to the Lakers.

    The Lakers have two great unknowns. The first is Howard’s free agency. The second is Kobe’s health and effectiveness. The first will be resolved one way or another fairly soon. The answer to the second could stretch into early 2014. Next season is basically in limbo until Kobe comes back and the team sees exactly what they can get from him. For the Lakers to have even a punchers chance at contending next season they need Kobe to look something like the Kobe Bryant we remember.

  21. T Rogers – “The money is not that big a deal. In four years Howard will be able to get another max contract as he will only be 31 years old. When you crunch the numbers I doubt he loses very much money by leaving the 5th year of a potential Laker deal on the table.”

    Sure, he’d be eligible for a max deal @ 31 years old if he’s healthy and still able to play. When does the collective bargaining agreement expire, btw? When it does, you can be sure the owners plan to give the players another haircut. If it’s before a truncated Howard deal expires that’s another wild card.

  22. darius: in a perfect world, the core of the lakers will be retained for another year. that perfect world would have to include reasonably good health; sans any major setbacks and therein lies the key to next season. if we had a crystal ball, we could shake it so that things will fall into and not out of place.

    have we heard front office speaking in terms of amnesty for anyone or is that conjecture on our part. if it’s money, let’s start by passing the hat. let’s say 8500 laker fans come up with $10,000.00 each; a laker investment in the future; what is that, 85 million? have we come to that front office?

    my take on orlando howard is that he is holding laker nation on hold for now primarily because he believes the grass is always greener on the other side theorem and the brown spots he sees on this side haven’t been watered enough to satisfy his current dilemma: underappreciated; not sure if he can deliver; no belt to speak of whatsoever for the big boy pants he was given at the beginning of his laker career. for that, who can blame him for his hesitancy. he’s got a little growing up to do. where better than in los angeles? so, the sooner the better as mitch kupchak says and get off that teeter tottering fence one can call the intersection of deep thought. how long has it been, three days?

    the promise that being a laker brings with it great respect, great history and great expectations. that’s another three days. in addition to what being a laker really means to one’s career, one’s legacy and one’s life achievement, we can think of 30 million reasons why re-singning as a laker for life is a good and sound business move.

    be bold and might forces will come to aid you, dwight howard.

    Go Lakers

  23. Houston is a huge threat. Like it has already been stated, there are lots of players that actually fit with his abilities. Harden would also get better as he wouldn’t have to expend as much energy for the team to be effective offensively. He would actually play defense. The last point, Tracy McGrady is still one of the most popular players in China. Yao is one of the most popular players in the world, because of China. Kids in China grew up watching the Rockets and the Rockets have done a good job of maintaining market share in China. Bringing Lin to Houston has helped with this as well. Dwight could, conceivably, make up for what he loses from being in the LA market with what the China market can offer him. Houston is a big threat.

    MWP can choose to not exercise his player option. He could then sign with the team for less money. Metta is one of those guys that I see willing to do such a thing. I love Metta- the man he has become, the style of player he is, and his connection to the community. He is a man whose life shows us a path to redemption. He is a walking catharsis. Plus, it’s not like there is anybody to take Metta’s spot who will come cheap enough to matter.

    I don’t think the Lakers amnesty anyone unless its a big ticket amnesty. It’s just not worth the hit to the team next season, as they still need to replace that player with something.

    Dwight is a great player. He isn’t Shaq, where 5 guys can pack the paint, hack him, grab at the ball and he’ll still find a way to get it through the rim. Tell me who is that kind of player today. Dwight wasn’t exactly outplayed by Duncan. Dwight was outplayed by 4 guys packing the paint and not giving him any room to move. I still give Dwight an edge as a defensive player against Shaq. He covers more ground then Shaq did, and defends much further out, yet he still manages to rotate very well, contains his own player very well, and rebounds very well. Now, I wouldn’t compare them offensively. Shaq was far and a way a better player. He also had a better disposition. I just don’t think you can look at the Duncan/Dwight matchup and say Duncan outplayed him. Duncan had Manu, Parker, Neel, Leonard, Green and a system to rely on. Dwight had Pau… a system fractured by injury and it’s newness. Again, I think this is a poor comparison to make.

    There are a number of points made above that I disagree with.

    — I don’t think Earl Clark is a diamond in the rough. He is a nice but limited player. When I think of diamonds in the rough, I think of a Paul George as a rookie. Earl Clark’s ceiling is a poor-man’s LO. You tell me he becomes a regular, in his prime LO, then he’s a diamond in the rough. Otherwise, Earl Clark is a guy where 15 players better then him get drafted every year. I appreciate Clark. He had an unexpected contribution to this team. He is not a diamond.

  24. rr: Good points. As to #’s 3 + 4: We “could” do something to counter those items. Could we not? For example we have literally 2 of the greatest big men of all time amongst our alumni. Could we not bring them further into the fold and have them help out? I know Shaq is not exactly a mentor, but KAJ would welcome a larger role. With regard to #3 – what are you saying? : ) Are you saying we can’t compete with that? They might have one of the greatest PFs in history as their coach, but we have a guy who went toe to toe with Phil Jackson (the greatest coach of all time), and beat him in a “fairly contested” interview battle. So how is that an advantage for Houston? And if it is – let’s change it : ) With regard to 5 + 6 – I find that interesting that on this blog, some talk quite a bit about what a true fan is and that we should not complain about JB and MD. Then the many of the same people turn around and trash the players including DH. You are right on those points and DH knows that. You can go to Houston with a bunch of rabid fans wearing white t-shirts screaming for a guy with a crazy beard, or you can stay hear and listen to golf claps from people who stuffed their shirts into their wives Gucci bag while they talk on their I-phone. Then again – what do I know – I complain about MD, complain about JB (at least at some of his decisions), and I often sit in the 100 section and make lots of noise. So how can I be a real fan? : )

  25. jameskatt,
    The Heat and Thunder are both over the salary cap so neither can make an amnesty waiver claim on any player waived under that provision.

  26. P. Ami: Dwight is a great defender but offensively is extremely limited. He wasn’t doubled, tripled and quadrupled every time down the floor. Many times because of his own self because of foul trouble all series. He won a state title, was high school player of the year and has been the main guy on a team for 8 years before this year. He’s seen every coverage their is and should be unstoppable. His aggressive level should at least pick up knowing Kobe was out but it didn’t. Kobe and Pau played in the same new system and were effective offensively. As a great player no matter the system or teammates you should dominate your one on one matchup and Dwight didn’t. Yes, Lakers were injured and Spurs are far superior on the sidelines. But that doesn’t excuse a sweep and the production Dwight had that series. I don’t think Lakers can afford to pay out max dollars to a player who has problems with aggressiveness and on offense.

  27. I know that this will sound blasphemous, but…

    LET HOWARD GO!

    Reasoning is twofold:

    (1) He has too many flaws, and they are the type of flaws that other coaches (Pop) can exploit
    — Lack of offensive mobility
    — Poor footwork in the post
    — Kwame Brown hand (the turnovers this year were ridiculous)
    — Proclivity to pick up offensive fouls (especially when frustrated); too many bumps and elbows… he should be using his butt, but instead uses his arms to clear out

    (2) I know its already ancient history, but we went to the finals and won two back-to-back championships with Pau as our main center. We rewarded him by telling him to take a subservient role to Bynum (2 years) and Dwight (1 year), and it hasn’t paid dividends AT ALL. I know it’s 3 years later, I know he’s old, but… it worked! At this point, I would sooner ride Pau out as primary center for one more year and then regroup (possibly resigning Pau for less as he moves into Derrick Fisher territory; possibly looking for a replacement later) than trusting that Howard would be able to overcome his flaws. Pau is no longer a long-term solution, but resigning Howard, even with Bryant, makes us into the Orlando Magic 2.0 but without outside shooters. Based on what I’ve seen, I’d take Pau. And, the older I get, the more I value intelligence, which Pau clearly has, and Howard does not.

    Of course, I know I can’t get what I want, but I’d also dump D’Antoni, hire Phil (or hire my damn self since we share the first name) and find a way to seduce Antawn back, because he could be that Stretch-4 that Lamar used to be in the Triangle.

    I’m a dreamer. I’m also right. This team is going nowhere under D’Antoni anyway, so they may as well let Howard walk, amnesty Kobe, and do a formal rebuild, until they hire someone who actually understands human beings to coach this squad.

  28. I don’t think Lakers can afford to pay out max dollars to a player who has problems with aggressiveness and on offense.
    ______

    Not only can they afford it, they’ll have no choice but to do so.

    Bottom Line: Dwight will receive Max Money wherever he ends up at. No Ifs, Ands or Buts about it.

  29. Robert,

    I have no idea, actually, if McHale and Olajuwon represent a real advantage for Houston, but they might. Howard, like Kobe, has been tutored by The Dream. And, again, we get it: you want D’Antoni fired immediately and you want the Lakers to bring more of the past legends, like The Captain, back into the “family.” These are not unreasonable positions, but if you need to talk about D’Antoni, at this point I would prefer a more direct, on-topic case or spec about what the Lakers will do. We already know what you think they should do, just as we know that Kevin does not see Howard as a franchise anchor.

    As to the fan angle, it isn’t really a LA/Houston thing. Part of it is just the difference between a guy staying and a guy arriving. The latter is inheretly more exciting. Also, Howard’s first year in LA was an abject failure on the team level, so I think it is hard for a lot of the fanbase to get excited about him. If the Lakers had cap space, had never gotten Howard, and there were spec about Howard coming here from somewhere else, people would be jacked.

  30. Warren Wee Lim May 3, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    If I was Dwight, it would be Houston. All things considered. Including the money. Opt out clause after the 3rd season, have his extension then and voila! A 6-yr deal in effect.

  31. Darius,

    When Jerry Buss was in charge of the Lakers, he didn’t need to ask the shareholders. He always had more than 50% of the votes. That’s no longer true. The Buss family now has 60%, and that 60% may not automatically accept Jimmy’s strategy and focus (not to mention the other 40%): they are clearly divided–mostly against Jimmy. His strongest claim on their heartstrings is that he is fulfilling Jerry’s dream.

    Jeannie, other family members, Magic Johnson, and other Laker Alums might well have differing perspectives: look at the direction Jerry West is taking with Golden State and Pat Riley took with the Heat.

    They may not want him as the decision maker–even with Mitch still in the fold. It’s not clear when or if Jimmy must report to the shareholders, but if I, as a shareholder, were to be asked to go minus $85 million next year on “the plan,” I’d want all options to be discussed–especially cost/benefit, risk/rewards, and the plan beyond next year.

    If such a discussion takes place soon, and Jimmy becomes little more than a ceremonial figurehead, all bets would be off.

  32. Magic/Rambis/et al have different perspectives; Jerry West with GS; Riles with the Heat; Where is Shaw going to do it?; Where is PJ’s next stop? We do not use KAJ. Can we arrange a Homecoming Dance or an Alumni weekend or something? We are successful, so of course we feed other teams, but not while we are going hungry. My question is why?

  33. Tra, no doubt.

    DH is getting a max deal.

    Worse players than him have and will continue to get max deals as well.

  34. in an ironic twisted world, if DH decides to walk, can we sign/trade him for Bynum and some young sixers? at least aaron is going to be happy.

  35. Happy to see that the Knicks handled their business.
    Now I just need for the Grizzlies to hold up their end of the bargain.

    After getting swept in the 1st rd, watching the Celtics and (hopefully) Clippers getting knocked off in the same round works like Tylenol by helping to alleviate my pain.

  36. drrayeye,
    Just a note. I don’t believe Magic retains any part of the Lakers – he had to sell.

    However, your point is well taken. We, the fans, assume there is a rift in the family when that may not be the case, however. We all assume Jeannie is in agreement to give Phil major control of the Laker franchise – if not direct ownership. This is an assumption based on the fact that she is engaged to Phil. Jeannie is a pretty sharp person in her own right. She may not see it in her best interest to have her future husband controlling the Lakers. Phil has no experience with managing an organization – no matter his talent with both the press and the physical team. He has not shown any real aptitude in developing younger players and he likes a style of basketball that is getting less popular with the public and the players.

    If I had a major interest in the Lakers, I am not sure I would want that type of individual controlling my organization, long term. That is not the same thing as being married to him. I might want to retain more control myself.

    This isn’t based on any facts I know, just observation based on my business sense.

  37. Sure am glad the FO keep Netta and picked yp Meeks instead ofvre-signing Barrnes.

    Nice move.

  38. Ken May 3, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    Sure am glad the FO keep Netta and picked yp Meeks instead ofvre-signing Barrnes.

    Nice move.
    —–
    Naw

    Netta and “yp Meeks” > opera singing Barrnes

  39. Now I know why fans don’t like Joey Crawford LoL

  40. Funky Chicken May 3, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    Joey Crawford is just a disgrace.

  41. Chris Paul is a great player – and has personally humbled the Lakers on more than one occasion – but someone please show me the team he’s taken on a deep playoff run, let alone led to a title.

  42. Thank you Memphis.
    David Stern’s Pet Project gets ‘Backdoor Swept’ ..

  43. Chris Paul is much-loved by so-called experts because he’s ‘efficient, unselfish, makes his teammates better and plays winning-type of basketball’. He is your typical anti Kobe and has always been ranked by these experts as a better player than Kobe. Yet what has he done really? He has not even been to the Western Finals. This year, the Clippers is one the most complete and deepest teams in the league and he can’t even lead them past the 1st round even with homecourt advantage. In a way like Steve Nash who wasn’t able to get to the finals. In fact you need to go way back to have a ball-dominating point guard as the best player winning a championship. One can make an argument for Billups in 04, but beyond that, you would have to go back to Isiah and Magic era. So I wonder what ‘winning-type’ of basketball is? Kobe, the ‘inefficient, selfish, doesn’t make his teammates better’ meanwhile has been to the finals 7 times and won 5 the past 14 years. And the experts say he has always hurt his team with the way he plays.

  44. New Clip coach? Phil?

  45. I think the Clippers will hire Stan Van Gundy.

  46. I agree with some of Craig’s points about Phil; it is hard for me to picture him as a FO guy. He is a leader, but does not profile IMO as a manager or a personnel guy. I think he would need to be in a carefully defined and constructed role.

  47. Warren Wee Lim May 4, 2013 at 5:15 am

    Hypothetical Scenario:

    Its 12:01 midnight of July the 1st. Dork Elvis calls up Dwight. Mitch Kupchak, is 2 seconds behind and has his call put on hold. Dwight and his agent have discussed this already and is ready to sign with Houston. Houston, however, needs to get rid of a partial few salaries to have the signing complete. They are also open to negotiating a sign-and-trade to “facilitate” the Lakers if need be. With Francisco Garcia’s contract option declined some weeks ago, the Rockets need only to let go of nearly 2 million and the Suns 2nd round pick.

    ===

    As has been discussed during the Chris Bosh/Toronto Raptors free agency 2 years ago, the Lakers have little leverage except to accept what the Rockets offer in spares. They would, prefer to give Dwight his full max. We would need to be compensated to cooperate. Otherwise, Dwight walks and asks for Houston to maneuver its payroll (they can do this very easily) and then sign a 3-yr deal with an opt-out for the 4th season. He will get his full bird rights this way, and he can negotiate a 2-yr extension to his contract (effectively making him under contract for 6 years) with max max max money.

    This is the reason why we don’t like Dwight hitting FA. He controls his destiny, and with several teams out there that have the outright cap space to sign him, we are left to wonder. So if I’m Mitch I would insist on knowing his decision 2 weeks prior so I would know what to do with the rest of my pieces.

  48. Warren Wee Lim May 4, 2013 at 5:44 am

    I’d like to bring into consciousness to my fellow Laker faithful the reality of Houston’s threat to Dwight.

    The Rockets have 13 players under contract. In order to have max cap space, they would need to decline Francisco Garcia’s final season (and why wouldn’t they?) and one of Carlos Delfino or Aaron Brooks in order for them to have the max cap to sign Dwight – estimated at 20.5M starting

    Assuming they decline all 3, they’d have 10 players with:

    5: Omer Asik – Donatas Montiejunas – Tim Olberecht
    4: Thomas Robinson – Greg Smith
    3: Chandler Parsons – Terrence Jones – Royce White
    2: James Harden – Carlos Delfino* – Francisco Garcia*
    1: Jeremy Lin – Aaron Brooks*

    Figure in there a lot of flexibility, I would contend that the best FA they should be pursuing is Josh Smith. But if Dwight doesn’t have his mind set, which I am pretty sure he hasn’t, he will be choosing Houston as the top destination. The Lakers would be a very close 2nd and I think Dallas is a distant 3rd – if they are able to find a way to get out of Marion and others, convince CP3 to head to Dallas to pair up with Dwight.

    Scary.

  49. Despite the public comments by Mitch regarding giving DH the time he needs it is abundantly clear that he will not allow Dwight to drag this out to the free agency deadline. It would simply be irresponsible to the franchise to do so. The message has to be ‘we want you back big guy and take as much time as you want…as long as we have your decision before the draft.

  50. Warren Wee Lim May 4, 2013 at 8:05 am

    DieTryin’

    The Draft is an important timeline for the Lakers as Darius noted because its a time when teams are aggressively looking to make moves. Thats not to say a deal between LA and Minnesota cannot be struck tomorrow, its legally plausible to do so since both our seasons are over.

    The Draft, being an important date, doesn’t necessarily mean we’re trading for draft picks. It would go against our natural philosophy. However, this was pre-Kobe and we were expecting to go deeper than a 0-4 showing with him on board. Now that he’s out indefinitely, there is a positive into buying our way into the draft by nabbing a player or 2 (high 2nds hold value to payroll-strapped franchises like us) so we can get players on the cheap hopefully to give us surprise production.

    This draft (2013) is regarded as one of the more-shallow drafts in recent memory by scouts. Thats not to say there is no talent, there’s just no consensus #1 to #5 picks and March Madness didn’t really define any as well. I’ve seen a total of 5-7 names projected to go #1. That means its a tossup as much as its a sure thing. Guys like Tim Hardaway Jr. (long, athletic, with range) could be good additions to the team esp if we get to pick them at the 21-30 range. Some 1.5 million wouldn’t hurt our payroll (as much) even next year’s mythical 2014 cap space.

  51. They may well approach this the way people are describing (I have no idea, of course, and have never been a big fan of keyboard negotiators) but I don’t really think that the Lakers are in much of a position to be giving Howard deadlines. Yes, a lot of team make deals around draft day but I don’t think that the market for Pau, whatever it is, will evaporate when draft day is over.

  52. I think Howard is watching playoffs, and find out which teams he interests, it means he doesn’t like Lakers a lot, but it makes sense, because he said before that he did not like to join Lakers to be 3rd option behind Kobe and Gasol.

  53. All the talk is about Dwight. That guy in the other uniform Chris Paul is also a FA. Where would he rather be after Clips latest flameout?

    Would you all rather have Dwight or Chris/Pau/Kobe with current guards going for a SF?

  54. Well, I am happy that neither the Clippers or the Celtics advanced.

    Will that change how CP3 feels? Another interesting curveball.

  55. rr: “on-topic case or spec about what the Lakers will do” – Unfortunately I think it is more like what is going to be done to us, rather than what we will do. We could do something at the coaching position, or we could wait and see if DH demands a change (which I don’t think he will). This coaching change “could” influence DH, but if we don’t do it, then there is little else we can do to influence DH, and the ball is in his court (as you outlined). We need to pray that Kobe heals properly and quickly (in that order). We need to hope that Dallas, Houston, or others don’t put together a scenario where they will land multiple stars like Miami did. We can use our amnesty and we could trade Pau, but I am not a big fan, because I think in both cases it makes us worse for 2014 and does little for us after 2014, so we wait.
    “The Lakers brand”: This is normally our Ace in the hole, however does anyone think that is a strong suit right at this moment? Yes – yes – we will rise again as we always do, and the brand will be intact in the long run, but right now, the Gold has lost a little luster. And to an earlier point you made, who is primarily responsible for making sure this brand stays intact? And how was the damage done?

  56. Extremely happy the Clippers got knocked out, the world make sense again,that buffon Sterling dont deserve any kind of sucess. Order restored.

  57. Warren Wee Lim May 4, 2013 at 10:24 am

    Celtics are too old to compete. So are we.

  58. Cp3 and Kobe are cut from the same cloth mentally. A serious, tough minded cerebral player. The total opposite of Dwight. I can’t see a cp3 teaming up with dwight. If he sees Kobe can’t get him to become more aggressive and mentally tougher it’s not much he can do.

    Duncan: 24.4 PER 17.8 pts 9.9 reb 2.7 ast 2.7 blk 2.1 TO. 8.3 win share. 3 yr 36 mil

    M. Gasol: 19.5 PER 14.1 pts 7.8 reb 4 ast 1 stl 1.7 blk 2 TO. 11.5 win share. 4 yr 58 mil

    Howard: 19.4 PER 17.1 pts 12.4 reb 1.4 ast 1.1 stl 2.4 blk 3 TO. 7.6 win share. 5yr 117 mil?

    Hack a Howard, drama queen, joker and him seeming to hit a ceiling as a player and I’d say he’s not a max player. He’ll get the max deal from someone but you can’t definitively say Howard is 59 million dollars better than Marc Gasol.

    Average win share from 07-11 was 13.5. Last 2 years 7.6. Almost cut in half. Maybe the contract year overwhelms him or the whole Dwightmare affected his play. I think the the big men in the center position in the league has gotten better and he’s no longer going against a soft east front court. Good player but some team is going to make a mistake giving him the max if this is his ceiling. He’s in the Marc Gasol price range.

  59. Kevin: Let me respond to you the way I am often responded to: OK – we get it – you don’t like DH (actually that is a joke, because I like your posts). That said, what is the alternate plan? I have presented 3 alternate plans for my coaching fixation : ) So for your fixation, what do we do? Let him walk, and simply wait for 2014, then hope we land someone big then? Comparing stars to middle players never makes sense financially, as the stars always seem overpriced (KB at $30+ for example). However when you realize there are only a handful of guys who can win chips, then you must have one of them. Understood that you do not think DH is in that group, but how would we get someone who is? I feel I would need to have pure faith in Laker manifest destiny to buy into such a plan, but perhaps you can prove me wrong.

  60. I would not put CP on Kobe’s galaxy in the mental thoughness part. Could not make it in NO and cant hack it with a loaded team in the Clippers, the Clips would had 2 straight first round exits the last 2 seasons if it wasnt for Memphis choking on game 1 last season. He can act tough all he wants in tje regular season but he is shown he is a failure in the playoffs. If the Clippers had the kind of season the Lakers had would he had risen his game the way Kobe did? No. With the talent the Clippers had the playoffs returns have been hugely underwhelming.

  61. Can you build a team around Dwight Howard. No. Do we resign him? Of course. The point that is not being made much is it really takes two stars to compete these days. Look at OKC. Sure fire return to the finals until Westbrook went down and they will probably not make it out of the west. After resigning Howard the next task for the Lakers will be signing another star that compliments dwight.

  62. The end game of most sports franchises is to have a shot at the respective championship. The really successful franchises, however, always have some kind of star attraction in addition. This brings in the interest during the regular season and expands interest beyond the local fanbase.

    If you accept what I said above, then stars are not overpaid – and certainly Kobe is not overpaid at $30M. He brings much more than that into the Laker coffers, as well as other NBA teams where he plays. This formula is one reason we need Dwight Howard or Chris Paul to continue the star legacy after Kobe is gone.

    Even if Howard is not equal to his salary demands on the court, he gets that salary because of what he brings the organization. This is also why Carmello Anthony may be worth his max contract – regardless what the purists or the playoffs say. It is also why Denver never seems to get much press.

    This entertainment lesson is a key legacy of Jerry Buss.

  63. Glad the Clippers lost. Find them to be an obnoxious bunch of front runners. Denver too. ZBo put the wood to the Clippers’ front line. Blake Griffin continues to be more of a circus performer than a basketball player

  64. Even without the injury, Kobe was never going to be as good as he was 4 or 5 years ago. Nothing lasts forever. Now, if he can come back and be effective, he will still be a difference maker.

  65. I think that if you switch Chris Paul and Kobe on their respective teams, the Clippers are still playing. Assuming a healthy Kobe, of course. Kobe’s post game is made for the playoffs.

  66. Robert is correct; there is no alternative on Howard other than to wait and hope. There is no reason at all to believe that James would even consider signing here, given his present situation and how it came about. The Lakers cannot sign Paul without amnestying Kobe and trading Pau.

    That leaves Howard. The Lakers’ best chance over the next five years that is visible now is to try to team up Howard and Love.

    If Howard walks, that starts a new conversation.

  67. who is primarily responsible for making sure this brand stays intact? And how was the damage done?
    _____________________________________

    I suppose at this point I would prefer straight answers or new topics to rhetorical questions. The Lakers’ current state is the result of several interrelated decisions and events. I think the Brown hire would have looked a lot different absent the veto, and IMO the D’Antoni hire came about largely due to the veto and then the Nash acquisition. Everything else spins from those two situations, and from Jerry Buss’ decision to reward Pau and Kobe with their massive contracts. Those things are all givens and done.

    IMO, those who want to bag on the FO should be looking at stuff like firing the scouts, not renewing Ronnie Lester, the turnover on the training staff, the fact that many observers, including Kevin Pelton, have suggested that the Lakers make less use of advanced analytics than any other team in the NBA, the recent pattern of adding age to the bench, and one of your topics, cutting ties with old legends. Our information on these issues is limited, but OTOH we already know where most people are on D’Antoni.

  68. I think Kobe will come back and play at a high level again. I base this primarily on the fact that he hasn’t relied on atheletism for the last few years. He learned to play through so many injuries that it’s all about position, footwork and the mental game now.

  69. Last time I checked Dwight led the NBA in 3 categories.

    Free throws missed.
    Goal tends.
    Offensive fouls on screens.

    If that is a max player then I am blind and clueless.

    Give me Kobe, Paul and CP3 and build shooters not named Jody or Metta around them. Might nit win it all bit bet its a top 3 team in the West. Basketball IQ trumps a guy who gets a few dunks a game.

  70. Guys jusr don’t want Dwight because of his game. Don’t want to sign him for many reasons.

    Tell you what, where will be this team 5 years from now without a star?

    If we can’t get cp3, dwight or smith, we’re all be losers for the next 5 years.

    Think of the future also not just your own views and wants.

  71. Robert: I’d be foolish for not wanting Dwight back I do just not at the max. Being that it’s a perimeter oriented game if a team is going to commit that much to a big man he better obliterate his man every night and I’m not sure big man can do that. He can be part of a championship team but not as the best player. If he was John Wall’s age 22 it’d be a no brainer but at 27 with his deficiencies it’s hard to justify other than naming his past accolades. As a fan on my wishlist is a young wing with upside, preferably Derozan, and shooters. And the plan is if there’s a young talented wing available jeporadize the 2014 cap for him.

  72. Trolling/baiting comments will be moderated. If those comments get deleted, I delete the responses too. If you have any questions, email me. The link is in the upper right hand corner of the site.

  73. I’m not trying to pile on Chris Paul – although I can’t stand the Clippers and am glad to see them bounced – but how is it that when he plays well (and scores a lot of points) and the rest of his team flounders in a losing playoff contest, CP3 is doing all he can in a heroic effort and just being let down by his teammates, whereas when Kobe does the same thing, he’s “playing hero ball” and “not playing the game the right way” and “not getting his teammates involved”?

    You’d think Chris Paul was the guy with the 5 rings and 7 Finals appearances.

    Incidentally, you may remember that when the Lakers beat New Orleans in 6 games in Paul’s final season in NO, CP3 (who had a very good series) was just about invisible in that elimination game (10 points on 4-9 shooting, 11 assists but 5 TO). No one ever said a peep about that, though we’re still hearing (way overblown) stories about Kobe’s supposed disappearing act in game 7 versus Phoenix in ’06.

  74. Kevin: I would love to get DH at below max as well, but the only option seems to be to offer the max and then hope he takes it. Offering less than max is letting him walk. Today’s formula is having a couple superstars at max combined with one or two underpriced guys who you get early in their careers or late in their careers ring chasing. One superstar can’t compete with a Heat like team. So – yes DH would need KB to return and then some.
    rr: What did I do to you? : ) It is not rhetorical, and I think your response summarizes it pretty well. Some of our situation is bad luck, some was the Veto, and some was bad decisions. It is not just DH, at this moment, the LAL are not looked upon as the desirable destination for NBA players. This will not be permanent of course, as the location, and the history will ultimately prevail, but right now – we are at a low point, and that does not reflect well on those making the decisions and rolling the dice (the luck part). You and I could take over the team and the Lakers would still have 16 banners and would still be located in LA with all their history. However what else would we add to that? : )

  75. I think about Dwight not being a 25 ppg guy, after 9 years in the league i dont think he will improve that much in that aspect, he is a max contract guy because if what he do on the other side of the court. And if he dont come back well, big deal, we keep Gasol one more year and wait for the big 2014 reload, i find it hard to believe that people here are clueless as to how much salary cap space the Lakers will have 14 months for now, thats the north of everything the Lakers are doing right now, they gambled this season and the next and then they are going to reload like they always do. If Howard bolts i dont mind the Lakers taking some lumps next year as long as it lead to the financial well being of the franchise on the long run, cant win every year.

  76. Anybody who thinks coaching dosen’t matter, just watch Chicago. If MD coached that team the would miss the playoffs by a lot.

  77. I have a really difficult time reconciling myself to the fact that Dwight Howard is a max player that will make 20 million a year and Joakim Noah only makes 11.5. Noah is a freakin beast. 24 pts/14 reb/6 blks

    I would rather trade DH12 for whatever we can get for him and roll with Pau next year at center. I know that I’m crazy for even thinking this way, but it really seems like we will be overpaying Howard if he re-signs here. Of course, having typed this out, Howard will now come back fully healthy next year and completely dominate the league. I’ll love it if he does this for us….

  78. The thing about DH12, is that fans will continue to pay the high cost of a Laker game at Staples to see him play, just like we do for KB24.

  79. Warren Wee Lim May 4, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    Amazing how naive some can be re: Dwight. The best center in basketball is worth max. Hate him for all your reasons, you could shoot better Free Throws FOR SURE.

  80. Fern,

    Who do you think the Lakers are going to get in 2014?

    Robert,

    Well-put.

    Stat-based article about the Lakers’ D:

    http://espn.go.com/blog/los-angeles/lakers/post/_/id/36638/defense-was-biggest-impediment-to-lakers-success

    Excerpts:

    >>>Since the start of the D’Antoni era, the Lakers have yet to employ a cohesive defensive system, and the results showed, as they struggled against offenses that moved the ball well, had a lot of off-ball action and forced them to make multiple rotations.

    Note: MDA has said publicly that he wants help with the D.

    And one for everybody who doesn’t want to give Howard a max deal:

    >>>After the All-Star break, the Lakers relied on Howard even more. With him on the floor, they allowed 101.2 points per 100 possessions (10th best again). When he was on the bench their defense fell apart, allowing 113.5 points per 100 possessions, the worst figure in the league and an indication that Howard was vital to any defensive success they had.

  81. Warren Wee Lim May 5, 2013 at 12:45 am

    People want defense yet they don’t want Dwight Howard. They think that firing MDA solves everything… and apparently, trading Dwight too.

    My my how deep we’ve fallen.

  82. @rr
    My question is whether Dwight Howard is really worth nearly 10 million more than Noah and 7 million more than Marc Gasol. Howard contributes like nearly no other player in the league on defense. Noah and Gasol seem to be near his level. The Grizzlies defensive efficiency is at 97.4 and 102.2 with Gasol on and off the court. Noah’s numbers are even better and very close to Howard’s. Noah- 95.6 on court and 106.1 when he’s off.

    Each of these players are contributing on offense on Howard’s level too. Don’t get me wrong- Howard is “better” than these guys on offense because of how athletic he is. I just don’t know if he’s 10 and 7 million dollars better when you add it all up. Now there could absolutely be a discussion about how much he’s worth to the Lakers from a marketing perspective. After all, no one believes that Kobe should be making 10 million more than Lebron unless you factor in how much revenue Kobe brings his team. (And yes, I believe that Kobe is worth the 30 million. The contract is only bad because of the new CBA.)

    What will happen? We’ll offer him the max and hope he takes it.

  83. @Warren Wee Lim
    I don’t think anyone is devaluing Howard’s defensive contributions. Just exactly how much he’s worth. DH12 isn’t the only great defender in the league. He isn’t the only big man who can change the game on that end of the floor. He also has a penchant for pouting when he doesn’t get his touches and turning the ball over a lot when he does… Then, there’s that whole free throw issue that he has.

    Hell, I didn’t even bring Roy Hibbert into the discussion. He’s the anchor on the top rated defense in the league.

  84. Warren Wee Lim May 5, 2013 at 2:27 am

    KenOak,

    Comparing what a hotdog’s worth vs what a burger’s worth, when they both fill your need to eat is a choice. Dwight Howard vs Joakim Noah vs Marc Gasol isn’t. Dwight earns his max regardless because he commands it. Blame it on marketing, blame it on anything else but it is what it is. It is simply idiotic to think that there’s actually a choice here.

    On the other hand, if this was a fantasy draft and you are able to pick your starting center (with set salaries of what they have now, with Dwight pegged at max) then you can make your case of “I would rather have Joakim Noah” … in our case, its not about Dwight vs Noah, its about Dwight and what he’s worth to other teams. It is my opinion that if I were Dwight Howard, Houston would be my top destination. The Lakers would be my very close 2nd choice. That said, how dare you offer me anything less than max? That would be an insult to my game, me reputation and I sure as heck wouldn’t make you my 2nd best choice anymore.

  85. Warren Wee Lim May 5, 2013 at 2:34 am

    KenOak,

    I understand your complaint about Dwight’s game. He is what he is. But you also need to consider that a max contract is what he’s worth, maybe not to you, but for the market. Other teams would pay him more than that to have him play for their team.

    ====

    Beyond 2014, the Lakers desperately need someone to represent the team. Kobe would be 35, and I have no doubt he can still play. 3 more years I would even dare say. But the writing on the wall is that its Dwight’s turn. Kobe even acknowledged this, part of his sales pitch to recruit him back, that this WILL BE his team. Kobe doesn’t have to go, perhaps the achilles injury is the silver lining that the Lakers needed to make this Dwight’s team now.

    Dating back to Shaq, you would see the same contention about his lack of conditioning, free throw shooting, his goofing off, his injuries… there really isn’t someone that would represent this team in a manner where its perfect. Hell even Kobe gets criticized for shooting too much. All in all, there is no winning with complaints. There will forever be flaws to your next franchise player. Its a fact. Live with it.

    Our just happens to be Dwight. Or would you rather this was the “big bowler” instead?

  86. KenOak: good stats.

    Dwight is not better than Marc Gasol and Tim Duncan on offense. If Dwight’s not dunking he’s not effective. Dwight’s most effective offense this year was lobs from Pau, not PnR or post ups. He needed other players for his own offense. I’ve never seen that from a hall of famer. It was the same thing in Orlando his best offense was sealing his man before receiving the pass in finishing position. He can finish but when he has to jump start a play or his own offense he struggles. Duncan and Gasol can can shoot from mid range letting Splitter and Randolph get post ups. Pau was relegated to the high post most of the year because Dwight is one dimensional on offense. I’m not sure any of these things are debatable.

    It’s a perimeter oriented league and for a team dying for back court help it’s silly to sacrifice 1/3 of the $59 million dollar cap to a big with Dwight’s deficiencies.

  87. KenOak (and Kevin),

    What Howard is worth relative to guys like Gasol and Noah in some Platonic sense is an an interesting thought exercise but is totally irrelevant in practical terms. Even as a thought exercise, it comes with huge caveats, since the NBA is a cartel with rigid price and labor controls, rather than a free market. In a free market, LeBron James would probably be worth about 70M a year to a team here or in New York.

    In the real world of the actual NBA, the Lakers have no better alternative that I can see than offering Howard the max and going from there. He will almost certainly never again be as good as he was 3 or 4 years ago, but as noted by many, even at 90% of that he is a Top 15 player who anchors the defense. In addition, his presence here would probably make the Lakers more attractive to most potential FAs, as they would already have a big piece in place in a hard position to fill.

    So, I think a lot of people are focusing on how they feel about Howard’s pesonality and on his faults rather than looking objectively at what he does do and what the other options are.

  88. To follow-up on what rr said:

    As an incentive for others to play in LA, Dwight is a very good starting point. His strength is defense and he can cover up a lot of deficiencies at that end of the court. He also benefits from having a very good scorer on his team. A good scorer wants the ball to shoot it. Easier to do with a big who will dominate on the defensive end and on the boards. If a star wanted to go somewhere, why not to a place with all the media and a defensive big?

    P.S. That isn’t the Clippers.

  89. It’s a perimeter oriented league and for a team dying for back court help it’s silly to sacrifice 1/3 of the $59 million dollar cap to a big with Dwight’s deficiencies.

    ______________________

    Well, let’s take a look at the teams still playing and their bigs:

    Indiana-Hibbert
    New York-Chandler
    Chicago-Noah
    San Antonio-Duncan (and Splitter)
    Golden State-advanced in part because they finally have Bogut
    Memphis-Gasol (and Randolph)

    The other two teams still playing are the ones that have James and Durant. But even Miami picked up a decent big (Andersen) and OKC has Ibaka and Collison.

    Chris Paul’s team is out; so is Deron Williams’ team, and James Harden’s, and Ty Lawson’s.

    Yes, the Lakers’ season was a disaster, but they still made the playoffs, in large part because of Dwight Howard. What the Lakers need is Howard *and* better perimeter play. It would be nice if they could get hm for 11M a year, but that is not the world we live in.

  90. rr: Even though it seems with my position hammering there are big men as good as Dwight I am not saying the Lakers shouldn’t accept his willing to resign since it’s his choice. It’s that he’s not a max player compared to the other big men’s games and salaries. He’s not by far and away the best center in the league and this year wasn’t the best. So he shouldn’t warrant a max other than because it’s the cba rules.

    Dwight didn’t like playing with Kobe who’s a scorer. Why would he like playing with another scorer with less accolades? That’s why I keep mentioning John Wall because he’s 22 and plays an all around game. But who do you pair Dwight with? Shooters that hasn’t worked since 2009.

  91. “Max player” is a bit misleading. Different players can get different levels of “max” depending on how long they have been in the league and other factors. Roy Hibbert signed max deal as did Brook Lopez. Dwight is a 3 time DPOY. Not even Noah can say that. Plus, Howard is only 27 years old. It is ridiculous for fans to say Howard is not worth the max when just about every GM in the league would give it to him.

    And RR made a great request earlier. For everyone who doesn’t want Howard what are the Lakers to do for the foreseeable future? Who should be the next franchise player? Who is actually available? And is that player(s) better than Dwight Howard? I doubt it.

  92. But who do you pair Dwight with?

    ____

    The best players that you can find. One thing I agree with Aaron on: the NBA is a talent league.

  93. rr: that’s an easy out. What type of player hypothetically speaking? A scoring perimeter player, pass first, a bunch of average role players, a dominant big. He just played with great talent in Pau and Kobe who tried everything to accommodate him to help his game. It took 3 trades to find that guy for Kobe. Caron, Odom, Kwame and Pau. PJ coming back helped but what type of talented players would be a good pairing with Dwight?

  94. Fit matters, but it’s overrated. Wade and James really don’t fit all that well together in some ways; neither do Durant and Westbrook. Neither in some ways did Jordan and Pippen; they did many of the same things.

    That said, basically, you want a high-level perimeter player to pair with Howard as well as a 4 who can play away from the basket on offense.

    As far as what you said about Pau and Kobe WRT Howard, the key there is that article I linked. Even with all the injuries and all the other issues, the Lakers still had a pretty good offensive team this year. The problem was the defense and the depth, as well as some skill overlap with Howard and Pau.