Wednesday Storylines

Dave Murphy —  May 29, 2013

In the brave new world of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, building through the draft becomes increasingly necessary. There’s a bit of a Catch-22 for teams that have successful seasons with any regularity. Winning compromises draft position while free agency spending becomes increasingly funneled into a punitive bottleneck. The Lakers have few options available for plugging holes in the dyke until the 2013-14 season when a lot of money theoretically comes off the books. For now, there’s the veteran minimum, the mini mid-level exception and one paltry pick – #48.

For teams like the Lakers, the conventional wisdom is usually to pick the best player available, regardless of position. It’s a simple matter of logic when you have one pick and a poor slot. It’s a little different if you’re the Cavs with four bites at the apple including number one, or Portland, also with four. So what are the Lakers needs? Everything. Given age, injuries and Dwight Howard’s free agency there is no position where we have any real depth – possible exception being point guard though you wouldn’t have known during the recent playoffs. Then again, there may not be a lot of positional choices by the time Adam Silver hits his mark and announces #48 – the bottom half of this year’s draft tends to favor big and slow.

Ben Rosales from Silver Screen and Roll has put together a thorough and thoughtfull Lakers draft primer – give it a read.

The Lake Show Life has put together a good round table of potential picks.

Here’s a great overview on Western Conference draft trends from Matt Norlander at CBS Sports.

Dave McMenamin from ESPN GO offers ten decisions that shaped the Lakers fate this past season.

Ronnie Lester was with the Lakers organization for 27 years as a player and executive before being let go in 2011. Eric Pincus from the L.A. Times has an update.

The San Antonio Spurs are legendary when it comes to managing the draft, especially with overseas players that are usually stashed and ripened. Tony Parker was drafted at #28 and Manu Ginobili at #57. J.R. Gomez from Pounding the Rock has the story on the team’s most recent long term development prospect – Tiago Splitter’s coming into his own in the NBA after being drafted #28 six years back.

Here’s a bunch of good Lakers links and rumors from Arielle Moyal at Lakers Nation.

Also from Lakers Nation via Elizabeth Benson, Phil Jackson’s view on fixing the Lakers problems.

Finally, while we rarely link financial media sites here (and it’s not really relevant to the draft), here’s an article from CBS MoneyWatch, How to Lead Like Phil Jackson.


Mitch Kupchak has done a lot of good things over the years. There’s few general managers better at high-level stealth trades and acquisitions, the melding of veteran talent and the mega market high-wire balancing act. If there’s room for improvement and there always is, the draft is a place to look. It’s been eight long years since the Lakers were in the top ten – that of course being the Andrew Bynum pick. Ronnie Lester and his staff were responsible for scouting the high school center and Jim Buss liked what he saw during a Lakers workout. It has to be noted of course that Buss was also the one who famously offered that “if you grabbed ten fans out of a bar and asked them to rate prospects, their opinions would pretty much be identical to pro scouts.”

The tag has stuck with Jim Buss ever since. To be fair, the remark was made long ago. Jim didn’t exactly douse the flames in 2011 however when he drastically reduced and consolidated the team’s scouting arm. Today, the nucleus of that division is Jim, his younger brothers Joey and Jesse, longtime consultant Bill Bertka and Mitch Kupchak himself. It would be inaccurate to say that the organization no longer employs additional scouts. It is not inaccurate however, to admit that the operation has been streamlined.

So what’s the big deal, it’s only a #48 pick, right? Sure, but there’s always choices. One team might find a Manu Ginobili hidden in plain sight at the end of the line. Or, you could pick a Chukwudiebere Maduabum. We’re about a month away from seeing how the Lakers roll the dice this time around.



Dave Murphy


to Wednesday Storylines

  1. Where’s the hope here? Jim Buss has really mismanged the new CBA. Played by Dwight, played by Nash, played by Mike Brown, played by MDA, and frankly played by commisioner Stern (got baited into trying to dump too much salary to get Chris Paul, didn’t anticipate the rebellion of the other owners). Just a good paying job with a lot of prestige to all these cats. It’s starts with the ownership. Old man Buss would have inspired them to try to build a new legacy in blue and gold. Good riddance, Dwight, you troll. Now if we can get Jim to stop wearing thongs and get some normal shoes we might get somewhere.


  2. Pat, how on earth did he mismanage the new CBA? The Paul trade would have essentially fixed our luxury tax problems this year while improving the team in the short-term. And regardless of what happens this year, they have a clean slate for 2014 except for Nash and presumably Dwight, the former of whom you can excise from the payroll with the stretch provision. Getting Nash and Dwight didn’t compromise their future flexibility in any way imaginable. I can see other complaints for the FO, but this one doesn’t hold water.


  3. Pat – lets not forget that Dr. Buss had a hand in many of the above-mentioned decisions. While I’m not a fan of some of Jim’s decision, the new CBA is a pretty big, messy situation that involved a whole lot of moving parts.


  4. More Jim Buss hate. It really gets tiring.

    As a Clipper fan, if I continually bag on Donald Sterling I would expect other fans to eventually drum me out of the club. In my opinion Sterling is a joke, but repeatedly bringing that up is not a positive for any Clipper fan.


  5. The issue goes way beyond finding talent. The Lakers need a major change in their attitude toward their picks. They need to commit to developing them as players. That means giving them consistent playing time during the season. Then they need to do the same the following season and the ones thereafter. It is ridiculous to put a first or second year player in as a starter for a few games and then decide he does not know how to play the game. How much of that is the player’s fault and how much is do to poor coaching? Wake up Lakers and make a long term commitment to player development.


  6. Baylor Fan,
    Good point. People just need to remember you have to go all the way back to coach Pat Riley before any real commitment to player development really starts to surface. The Lakers have been on top so much of the time the Buss organization hasn’t had to develop really young players. This means any coach has to have this as a priority, while the fan base requires winning every game. I am not griping about any of this, but organizational development has many tentacles.


  7. Craig,
    I’d partially disagree. The foundation for those “LakeShow” teams in the 90’s was a string of draftees from Lynch, Peeler, Eddie Jones, and Van Exel. Of course Shaq was a FA signing, but the Lakers have almost always used developed young players as contributors and then tried to flip them in trades that netted them cap space (Peeler/Lynch) to sign FA’s or, later, established talent (Crittenton/Marc Gasol in the Pau trade).

    Also, we mustn’t forget that Bynum, Turiaf, Farmar, and Sasha were key players in the Lakers’ most recent string of Finals trips. All 4 of them were on the 2008 team that lost to Boston and Bynum, Farmar, and Sasha all played key roles in the back to back titles the following two seasons (though Sasha was eventually usurped by Shannon Brown).

    Recently the Lakers have used draft picks as bait to net them established veterans to help sustain deep playoff runs. In the Pau trade that gamble worked out. In the trades for Nash and Dwight, they’ve not — at least in year one.

    Most teams who win are veteran laden teams who have a young player or two contributing as key starters or role players. The Lakers haven’t had that since 2010 but that was just 3 seasons ago. Overall I do agree that they need to start developing a young players again and using them as key contributors, but I don’t think we can say it’s been since Riley that the team has done so effectively.


  8. While I admire the Spurs’ system, the allure of the Lakers is the fact that they don’t methodically build but goes and grabs talent, prying them away from competing clubs and later shoving the championship trophy on everyone else’s throat.

    Too bad that the CBA will limit a lot of that and too bad we’ll probably have to change our culture a bit (and I’m half glad that the late Buss, while he agreed to it, didn’t have to go through all this), but don’t expect it to happen overnight or should it.


  9. CBA: Jim did not mismanage this, we simply gambled and lost. Between the Veto, the injuries, and the players that did not quite live up to expectations, it was a run of bad cards. Not even I would blame this on Jim. Now – as for some other things:
    “the nucleus of that division is Jim, his younger brothers Joey and Jesse” – So the core of our scouting group all has first names that begin with “J”, last names of Buss, and they all have limited NBA experience. This must have been an exhaustive search/interview process to hire this group.
    Pat: “Now if we can get Jim to stop wearing thongs and get some normal shoes we might get somewhere.” I am glad someone else has finally commented on the way this guy dresses. He must have shipped out all of his mirrors on the same day the scouting department was jettisoned.


  10. Seems like Phil is really trying his best to undermine D’Antoni and the FO’s decision to hire him. He carries so much influence in the basketball world that some of this has to get in the heads of the players.

    “It bothers me about the individuals,” Jackson said. “It bothers me that Pau [Gasol] had a season that he had so much difficulty, that Kobe [Bryant] had a season in which he had to struggle to help provide the scoring and push himself to the limit where he eventually tore (his) Achilles. Whether that would have happened or not, playing 40-plus minutes a game for that duration of time, who knows?

    “I think they need to get back inside, where the strength of their team is and use that presence in there to dominate games. I think there is a way to do that.”

    Cowherd posited that an inside-oriented approach would not occur with D’Antoni leading the team and Jackson replied, “You’re right.”

    “They picked the path to go on and they think that’s the future of the NBA and we’ll see,” Jackson said. “We’ll see if it is.”


    Money quotes. Casually (indirectly) insinuating that the Achilles injury was a result of D’Antoni pushing Kobe too hard, and that there is something fundamentally wrong with D’Antoni’s style and the Lakers’ FO decision.

    Not saying I disagree with that – we’ve rehashed many times why his style was a poor fit for this roster. But when Phil is constantly out promoting his book and is likely to bash the decision 10 more times before he’s done touring … he’s not doing us any favors. The FO will be even less likely to let D’Antoni go, to avoid looking like Phil painted them into a corner.


  11. who cares how jim buss dresses? silly….i honestly want dwight to leave…he can be single covered with ease…max players cant be single covered…hes terrific on defense hes mediocre at best on offense…hes like a serge ibaka/blake griffin to me…hed be a great power forward but as a center he just cant score the ball well…this may just be a bad time to be a laker fan…im down for the ride we will be back on top in a few years…not with dwight tho…his horrible foul shooting, stupid defensive and offensive fouls, volley ball spike when he could clearly control the ball blocks, lack of use of his base to establish post, bad temper, stone hands, 3 second violations, getting stripped every 3rd-4th touch and bipolar attitude wont be missed…never seen fire from the guy…not in one game and he complains that he wants to be a leader? he wants to be the man? when teams foul you on purpose because you suck very bad at the line? dude…youre a piece not the man …hes not a killer we need killers…if we played a big man game then maybe I could put up with it but we dont and probably wont with MDA as coach…id love to see us play team ball…like the mavs that swept us, like the spurs that swept us, like the knicks that got bounced but still played like a unit….watching kobe hand feed dwight into a strip or offensive foul nearly every possession is awful to watch…only time will tell…i was going for memphis in playoffs now im going for indianna, if they fail as much as it hurts and as much as i hate to say it rather the heat win than san antonio…i want LA to be the dominant western team the past 15 years


  12. Are the Lakers officially the only premier organization/team which doesn’t do (basketball) sabermetrics? I feel like Dallas, Houston and all these other teams look at players/potential draftees not only through the “eye-test”, but also through stats. I have a sinking feeling we’re still running on gut feel (Jim, Mitch and Chaz). Weren’t the Lakers the only team which didn’t send a rep to the Sloan conference?


  13. Warren Wee Lim May 30, 2013 at 8:13 am

    I for one don’t like this rift thats obviously cracking in between us, beneath us. Phil will use this prolonged publicity and continue to shoot MDA under the bus – maybe the hate between him and Junior Buss is real and cuts deeper than what we know.

    The organization cannot dwell in the past. It seems like his comments are not well-suited to be the Lakers’ defacto son-in-law. Its like saying that the “son” cannot do anything right just because daddy made some decisions. I wonder what Jeannie’s take is on this. This sure doesn’t help.

    For what its worth, Phil acts as if the Lakers had any cajoles to compete. WE ARE TOO SLOW. And defense, while its the politically-correct thing to emphasize, cannot be done if your personnel are too old and too slow.

    I’ve admired Phil, all his career as a player and moreso as a coach. But this is a new all-time low.


  14. Snoopy2006, I couldn’t agree more. There are 2 of my all-time favorite Lakers (Magic & PJ) who just need to stop this constant criticism of the organization. We’ve heard it, we get it and nothing could be more unhelpful to us moving forward.
    PJ is trying to promote his book and I’m sure his ego took a hit at the way the whole thing was handled (abysmally, by the way; very disrespectful of PJ).
    But LA is going in a different direction & unless there is a palace coup, PJ’s not coming back.
    If he wants to tweak Jim Buss, he should go to another organization and build a winner.


  15. Snoopy, along with everything else you wrote Phil is also tainting the decision making process of Howard. The more Phil pushes the “D’Antoni doesn’t know how to use big men” line the more Howard reconsiders his decision to stay. Count me with the ones who think D’Antoni was the wrong hire for this team. Still, this is not the way to go about it. Phil used to be better at hiding his manipulation. Now its all in plain view. And its not a good look.


  16. Phil/Magic/Jerry West/Kareem/etc: The problem with the Lakers is that they have had too many situations where they have had a falling out with former legends. I have made this point many times, and these recent comments by Phil are just another example of fallout from that. The former legends are not all innocent in this, and in Phil’s case, as I have said before he is not the nicest guy, which is another reason you do not want to battle with him. All of these legends not being in our camp fully is like a business having a bunch of disgruntled former employees. By their very nature, they are going to talk trash, and not speak highly of you. The question you have to ask is how you got so many disgruntled, former employees?


  17. So now we are criticizing Phil for speaking the truth? The truth shall set you free. The sooner the front office comes to grips with the truth, the better off the team will be…..and Phil’s comments, although possibly self serving, will hopefully put some added pressure on the front office to make a coaching change AKA a philosophical change AKA a different approach to how this team will play. This is not to suggest that Phil should take over the sidelines, but why not hire a coach who knows how to utilize his big men, who won’t play his veterans to absolute exhaustion, has respect from the players, and gives the team the best chance to resign Dwight. Lionel Hollins? Brian Shaw? Larry Brown? Phil? Some people have so much disdain for Phil or loyalty to Jim Buss, that they can’t see the obvious. Everything Phil said was spot on, and something needs to be done.


  18. Ok, so the next statement isn’t entirely unexpected, but I think someone on this blog needs to own up to their original opinion, so here goes…

    I was excited by the hire of Mike D’Antoni. I am really encouraged that he was able to alter his entire previous way of doing things as the year progressed and fit how he coached to the players and injury situation he was managing here in Los Angeles. I think he can be a really good coach for our team. I support management, should they choose to retain him as our coach next year.

    All that said, I think the Buss family – I emphasize the entire family – made a mistake in clearing out all the scouting staff on the eve of the previous lock-out. If they did it because all the scouts were old-school and weren’t producing as well as other organizations, I would understand. If they were intending to move more into the saber-metrics of evaluation and the scouting staff couldn’t fit in, I would understand. However, I don’t know if either of those things were true, because the organization is so tight-lipped about things.

    Finally, we have to get younger and more athletic. I think the D’Antoni hire helps us in this area more than recycling Phil Jackson and absorbing the ‘power-grab’ that Phil would have required to join our – or any other – organization. He is proving his viewpoint and loyalty to his future wife by what he is saying on his book tour – – yea! I hate what he is doing too.

    P.S. The loss of Jerry West was a direct result of Jerry Buss and Phil Jackson. Jim Buss had nothing to do with it. The issues with Kareem were also on Jerry Buss and Andrew Bynum. Magic is on Jerry Buss also. The former members of the Laker family may not be supportive of the current situation, but that shouldn’t be a concern of the current fans.


  19. Phil is certainly entitled to his opinion, but undermining another member of the coaching fraterniy is certainly not admirable and makes it easy to see why PJ has so many detractors amongst his colleagues. It’s MDA’s job, and Phil comes off as bitter and petty with all this analysis of his former team. We understand that he’s promoting his book, but still.

    I have nothing but dislike for MDA as the coach of the Lakers. However as someone earlier in the thread mentioned, public criticism of the Lakers’ organization coming from iconic figures such as Magic and PJ only feed the media frenzy which always surrounds the team.


  20. Good post, Craig.

    I wasn’t “excited” by the MDA hire, but I endorsed, it, believing that:

    a) MDA would immediately see that he needed to play at a much slower pace due to the personnel.
    b) Playing with Nash in the MDA system would be fun for Howard, and Howard has said many times that he is all about fun.

    These things didn’t happen.

    I agree with you about the scouts. If Jim wanted to change things, he should have done so slowly.

    As to Kareem and West… Phil and West dislike each other; that is well-documented. So, with Phil out, they should explore bringing The Logo back if it is possible (yes, I know he is under contract with Golden State).

    Thye should also be looking to bring The Captain back into the fold. The Lakers need to be in touch with their history in a very public way.


  21. Seems like Phil is really trying his best to undermine D’Antoni and the FO’s decision to hire him.

    Correct. As I said a couple of weeks ago, I think the situation with Phil is in part an example of the downside of family-run businesses. D’Antoni and Phil have hated each other for years, and Phil is married to the Lakers’ Head Honcho’s sister.


  22. Meg,

    Yes, but as noted at the time, Dr. Buss had just died. Still, IMO someone should have gone.

    And many stat guys have said that the Lakers use advanced stats less than any other org (this was also true when Phil was here).


  23. the pj/jerry buss vs. jerry west accusation is flat out wrong. Jerry West threatened to quit the lakers more times in a season than DH missed free throws this year. Was PJ a jerk to Jerry West? Most definitely. Did Jerry West drive people crazy in the laker org? Did Jerry West drive himself to exhaustation as the GM? Absolutely. Was he overdue for a change? No doubt.


  24. and let’s remember that Jim Buss – not Jerry – cleared out the scouting staff. And I believe the scouting staff is made up of mostly buss kids, kupchack, jerry west’s son, and 2 overseas scouts.

    the firing of the scouts, ronnie lester, and other key laker staff was done by jim buss. no one else.

    just like the hiring and firing of coaches.

    i wish jeannie was more involved on the basketball side. she seems a lot more mature, level-headed, and frankly, intelligent, compared to her brother.


  25. Personally, I don’t care if Phil’s out there tweaking the Lakers. He got jerked around by them in the most public of ways – Mitch acknowledged that he knew they’d take a PR hit for doing it. I can’t think of too many head coaches, execs (or players for that matter) who don’t take swipes. One of Jerry West’s favorite stories from his player days is the time Phil threw a backward elbow at him after a game, coming off the floor – one of the many times Jerry’s nose was busted A lot of the old-school coaches tend be bad-asses and we could go down a long, long list and not just basketball. And while we’re at it, MDA isn’t exactly a choir-boy. So, I don’t really care if somebody tees off on an organization. I want to see a coach bring the results, that’s it. As far as the notion that MDA won’t play to his team’s strength’s next season, I’m not so sure. His recent coaching resume is in need of some wins. I think he’ll go after them however he can.


  26. Actually Jeannie has never claimed to be extremely knowledgeable about the basketball side of the business. IMO, Jerry Buss put her in charge of the business side of things because that was her strength, not because of some macho needs on the basketball side.