Friday Forum

Dave Murphy —  May 31, 2013

The book tour was over, the late night talk shows, radio appearances and lunchtime interviews on sun-dappled patios in select cities. He was back at home, sitting on his high comfortable chair at the breakfast counter. In front of him was a  tablet device and a small case housing his eleven championship rings from his days as a coach and the two rings he earned as a player. His fiancee was in another room. She was on a conference call with an Asian electronics consortium. The topic of conversation had to do with leasing rights for the Los Angeles Lakers. Her father’s will had very strict stipulations about the team’s ownership but there wasn’t anything in there about offshore leasing. Jeanie thought it was a win-win. The conversation was at a delicate and critical stage.

Phil was looking at the tablet screen, frowning. He was comparing several different reviews of his latest book, cross-checking them not only for accuracy but to also make sure that everyone understood the spirit of his communications. He removed all of his rings from the case and carefully arranged them on the counter. He took a cell-pic, then rearranged them again and took another cell-pic. He sighed, called out plaintively.

“Hey Jeanie, are you busy?”

There was an apologetic murmur from the other room. “I’m on my conference call honey. The one I told you about?”

“Oh, okay. I’m not sure all these so-called sportswriters understand the essential truths that I’m trying to get across here. There are discrepancies.”

“Okay honey. We can talk about it at lunch. After I’m done with my call.”

“Oh, okay. Do you know what Portia’s making us for lunch?”

“No honey, but you can ask her.”

Phil sighed heavily. It wasn’t easy being a legendary ex-coach with eleven rings plus two others which made a total of 13. Not that he was counting. He frowned at his arrangement of rings, bent down and flicked a tiny piece of dust off a sparkling purple jewel.

“Hey Jeanie? Do you think Portia might have been dusting my rings earlier?”

There was sigh and a pause, followed by a bright and somewhat tremulous reply. “Not since you had them out earlier this morning, Phil.”

“Oh. I’m not concerned about it. They’re just ornaments.”

“Yes honey, rings are ornaments. Sometimes it can take a long time to get the ornament you want. I just gotta finish up this call.”

From ESPN, Phil Jackson visits with Mark Willard and Mychal Thompson.

Marc Tracy for the NY Times reviews a book entitled Eleven Rings.

From Scott Soshnick at Bloomberg News, Phil says Carmelo should read Sacred Hoops.

Dave McMenamin from ESPN relays Phil’s advice – the Colin Cowherd conversation with Phil is also embedded.

From Joseph Nicks at Silver Screen & Roll, Phil offers insight into some things.

Drew Garrison at Silver Screen and Roll on the zen of being a distraction.

Jeanie had finally finished her call. She took a deep breath, ran some spreadsheet numbers on her laptop. She had a full afternoon ahead of her. Phil had stopped posing questions 20 minutes earlier. She smiled slightly, wondered what he was doing. Maybe sitting in his garden, perhaps contemplating the universe. Her cell chirped again. She looked at the screen and frowned, then picked up. “Yes Jim?” A long pause as she listened. “Okay Jim, I’ll ask him.”

A long moment passed. Another deep and tremulous breath. It wasn’t easy balancing the business end of a billion-dollar franchise and challenging family dynamics.

“Phil honey? Did you go on the radio and claim to be the only true son of the basketball gods?”

The zen-master ambled by in the background. “Eleven rings, babe. Plus two more as a player.” He entered the bedroom. Soft warm sunlight streamed through the windows. There was a small sandbox with a tiny rake and some pebbles on his nightstand. He lowered himself onto his bed for his mid-morning nap. He wondered what Portia was making for lunch. Maybe he’d make some calls later, just offer a little insight here and there. He enjoyed life’s little teaching moments.

Dave Murphy

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44 responses to Friday Forum

  1. The Dwight Howard Addition

    Bill Simmons is only wrong because he is ignoring Dwight’s plays the last few weeks of the year when he started getting healthy…

    http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/9308573/searching-dwight-howard

  2. rr: Nice link. That thing reads like a sheet of music. I will just include a few of my favs, because I don’t want to be totally redundant with my previous posts.
    “By parting with Fisher, the Lakers got rid of a strong leadership presence in the locker room and also one of the few people on Earth with the power to sway Bryant. ”
    “What if Shaw had been handed the reins, continued to run the triangle offense and maintained strong relationships with Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol?”
    “because great organizations don’t treat their personnel like they’ve done.”

  3. Robert,

    I would also note that McMenamin mentions Jim Buss getting rid of about 20 long-term employees after taking over.

    As noted, I disagree with you about the impact of losing Fisher. If any fanbase should grasp that the NBA is a superstars league and a talent league, it is this one. If Chris Paul played here, I doubt that anyone would be saying too much about Fisher.

    That said, it does fit the pattern of Jim Buss cutting ties with long-term, respected employees.

    Along different lines, I note that McMenamin put the Sessions departure on his list. Sessions would have exacerbated the defensive problems, so his utility to last year’s team would have been questionable, but, like Brown and Barnes, he is a decent ballplayer and they could use him. I don’t think he really wanted to stay, but he wound up as a backup anyway in Charlotte, and he is probably better than and is definitely younger than Steve Blake.

  4. The Drew Garrison link above calls out Phil, and in many respects, rightly so.

  5. rr: The issues all inter-relate. “one of the few people on Earth with the power to sway Bryant.” There are not a few – there are only 2 and the Lakers dismissed DF and dissed Phil in the same year. If we had Phil – we have the Kobe control. Without Phil we needed DF. Without either nobody here to relate to KB.
    With regard to Sessions, yes we could have signed him and as you know I was never a big fan. So we let Sessions go, we let DF go, we let Shannon go, we let Sasha go, Nash was injured, and hence we were left with Morris, Blake, and Meeks.
    Your reference to Paul: Nobody is denying (at least I am not) the impact of the Veto on all of this, and also on how Jim would be perceived. Like I said before getting your pocket Aces cracked by an inferior card player does not give someone the right to go on Tilt and start making bad decisions.

  6. Without either nobody here to relate to KB

    Perhaps, but I see no evidence that such matters affected the performance of the team, and in fact, supposedly Fisher was angered by the Sessions deal and the FO allegedly believed he might be disruptive. That is speculation, but:

    Fisher would not have helped much with either the defense or the offense. It is not as if they collapsed after he left. Again: they made it to the 2nd round and Steve Blake was great in Game 7 in 2012 against Denver. Kobe is under contract; he is not going anywhere. Kobe’s USG didn’ t change. Jordan Hill is a useful player. These are all facts. If you want to speculate that Fisher might have helpd with Howard or something if he were still around, fine, but basically this comes down to the fact that you like Fisher and you miss him.

  7. To me, the two most critical decisions from the McMenamin article are the following: (1) hiring Brown and (2) letting go of the support staff.

    #2 may not have hurt us too much the last couple of years, but it will hurt us long term, particularly when considering how draft-centric the future looks under the current CBA. I think the move to layoff the support staff was premature given that there was not of understanding of how the CBA would impact operations for years to come. The right move would have been to retain these guys and then decide on their fate after the FO figured out how the CBA would impact operations down the line.

    With regard to #1, I truly believe that this has had the most impact in terms of where we are now. I can’t remember who was available at the time Brown was hired, but I have always thought he was the wrong coach for this Laker team. However, given how the team flamed out of the playoffs the prior year, I cannot fault the FO for deciding to skip on Shaw for many reasons, from being unproven as a coach to wondering whether he could handle Kobe’s personality as a head coach to perhaps determining that a change in style would shake the team enough to wake up. Nevertheless, the Brown hiring made as little sense then as it does now. Who knows, a different coach may have been able to get more out of Dwight, Kobe and the gang this year – which would have avoided this whole “We want Phil!” debacle we are living through right now.

  8. Rick Adelman and Brian Shaw were consdiered the top two candidates. I and many others said at the time that we would have preferred either to Mike Brown.

  9. From what Lakers fan have been told Fisher was the backbone of the team and Odom was a true teammate. Juwan Howard, who doesn’t even suit up, is said to have riled the Heat at half and Haslem was a physical force on the court. Two players who aren’t top 5 on Miami got them going. Fisher and Odom were that to the Lakers. Those presences haven’t been replaced. Who’s getting Lakers ready to play in the 2nd half? Evidently, nobody because they were one of the worst 3rd quarter teams in the league this year.

  10. “Hey Kobes – dude – I think you should keep your minutes down – you are old like me – I do not see how you do it”
    “Hey Kobes – buddy – uh – I think you should talk to Dwight – he seems kinda down”
    “Key Kobes – well uh – some of the guys aren’t real happy with the offense in the 4th quarter and they wanted me to speak with you”

    He might have listened. However there was nobody speaking.

    MannyP: Yes Yes – another compromise !! So the Brown hiring was what caused all the issues. The MD hiring did not cause the issues – it just failed to fix them. Again we are more efficient than Congress at working out differences !

  11. Robert: I think the Brown hiring had a snowball effect that can’t be ignored. Yes, D’Antoni failed to fix them, but I hate to tell you that even Phil would not have fixed them either last year.

  12. Manny and Robert

    I believe dumping the entire support staff and the scouts was the biggest killer. What this said to me is the Jimmy felt he was smarter and knew more then the vastly more experienced people his dad had put together. This arrogance was the tipping point and will continue to distroy this team in the future. From coach hirings to the decision that seasoned scouts are not important we’re Jimmy decisions. Please don’t
    tell me Jerry was involved because he was not. My excellent source told me the last year Jerry was fighting for his life and made very few day to day decisions.

    Jimmy wanted to erase all that was either Phil touched or anyone else’s doings and make it Jimmy’s world. Watching from home or from a bar
    dosen’t make one any more qualified then me watching ER and doing my own heart surgery. Arrogance is a killer.

  13. Sorry I forgot my name above.

  14. `I believe dumping the entire support staff and the scouts was the biggest killer´
    _________
    I agree with that wholeheartedly. I certainly felt dejected when it happened, just didn´t feel right.

    Dave M. –
    another great piece, thanks

  15. Warren Wee Lim May 31, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    rr (from last thread)
    “People wanting to move on from Howard or dump Pau so the Lakers can play Earl Clark or draft some 19-year-old wing player are reaching and overthinking.

    This is not to say I am opposed to trading Pau in the right deal, but trading him because of beliefs about the way the league is structured is misguided. Duncan, Hibbert and Marc Gasol are huge, slow guys as well.. Pau’s main problem is that his body is wearing out.”

    I don’t intend to move Pau because he’s old and slow at the same time, for the very same reason I want to trade him too.

    The Lakers are a team built in the dynamic of the PNR with 1 big and the other bigs required to not be the focal points on anything but hustle and defense. Jordan Hill is that kind, he requires no shots to be allocated to him, but he has developed quite the 18-footer and he has decent skills inside. He has the rebounding rate of a Dwight Howard type of player despite not having the real size or length. The combination of these things make him an ideal match beside Howard with the way we intend to build a future team.

    On the other hand, forcing yourself to keep Pau will only cause more problems than it would help. Aside from him being old and slow, he doesn’t intend to come off the bench. I don’t doubt his skill but its his fit that becomes the problem. This is the part where we say less is more because in the absence of Pau (traded) and Metta (amnestied) we have little choice but to play the youngsters, in the example I placed, developable youth is the term I coin them. They will only benefit from more burn and more game-time acumen over learning from looking at Pau Gasol fail at defense and getting pushed by the bigger and burlier guys of the league.

    On the job training is what I put on Hill and Clark. Never will I say they can ever become anything close to Pau, but at this point, where we need to run and defend, being the consensus problem for LA (and not the offense) this is where we need to favor the younger and more capable guys to play and not the old, worn-out and sulking Pau Gasol.

    Defense is not just a matter of willingness, its also the ability to run.

  16. The ideal place to trade Pau is a team with several young and somewhat good players that wants to jump into the playoffs in the next couple of years and needs a dominant vet to lead the frontcourt. This team would be willing to give up multiple draft picks and a player and they are probably under the cap, so we could clear out some cash and a trade exemption, along with getting a decent player back.

    I doubt a team with a vet leader would want to add Pau, nor would a team already in the playoffs or over the cap like to add $19M next year. Therefore Warren, I would rule those teams out before starting.

  17. Regarding the question of trading or keeping Pau. What’s the number one reason any team takes on a veteran $19,285,850 expiring contract? To free up cap space the following year. Do teams trade away other expiring contracts to get one in return? Not usually, what would be the point? If we look to trade Pau this year, what will likely be offered? Bad contracts. Do we want bad contracts or do we want a ton of cap room in 2014?

    Look, I know this is oversimplifying to make a point. But the odds are pretty slim that somebody’s going to want to trade us real value for an aging big man coming off procedures to both knees. So what do we get if we keep him? A smart, versatile player who makes his teammates better, who co-exists well with Kobe and whose salary comes off the books at the end of the season. That’s not so bad.

  18. Dave M.
    I tend to agree with you, but with all the discussion about what to do with Pau… I really doubt there is a team who wants him, who is under the cap, and is willing to give us multiple picks, a player, and a TPE to get the deal done. If we are interested in trading him that scenario is where we would have to start. That is the purpose of my post above.

  19. I don’t see any team helping the Lakers with respect to Pau. I think they will wait them out and offer 40 cent on the dollar in the form of a bad contract and a couple so-so players. It may not be worth it. Getting rid of experienced personnel and not replacing them adequately is what separates my beloved Dallas Cowboys from successful teams like New England. Jimbo is turning us into the Cowboys. Hiring Mike B and Mike D were mistakes on top of mistakes (akin to hiring Barry Switzer and Chan Gailey after Jimmy Johnson). Shaw and Adelman were the obvious choices after Phil.

    Even getting rid of Sessions who could have been a great change of pace point guard, hurt the Lakers. We would not have ended up with Duhon if we kept Sessions. Which player had a better year? Sessions proved that he was willing to be a back-up. Imagine him learning under Nash! He would have become a player better just like Blake did. Sessions was a defensive liability because he was so fast on offense, it caused a ripple effect on defense on the Lakers (I know everyone remembers Kobe et al complaining about his pace). To tell the truth, he would have been perfect for a Mike D. point guard. Scoring in 7 seconds or less.

  20. If we are going to criticize a trade/resigning then we need to do it in context with what was happening at the time. Sessions was a logical attempt to upgrade our PG position – and he did that. However, he felt he was worth more than we were willing to pay him and we were able to trade for Steve Nash. At the time this was a very logical move.

    Because of Steve Nash’s injuries and the hiring of Mike D. it may look like we could have done better to keep him, but there is no assurance he would have signed with us, even if we offered him equal money. Remember we had Steve Nash and Sessions wanted to start. Also, the fact that he didn’t start for Charlotte shouldn’t play into the process – except that we may feel we avoided another Walton contract.

  21. Aloha Robert,

    I haven’t agreed with all of the FO moves, especially in the coaching department but I think you are kind of grasping at straws to make your point when it comes to personnel. I love D-Fish, he will always be one of my favorite Lakers. That said the trade for Jordan Hill was a no brainer. It was similar to the move Mitch made to pluck Ariza from the magic. It was, well, robbery. We received a 25 year old athletic, high energy big man for Fish. While Fish brings some intangibles to the table, with all of the injuries, intangibles would not have even mattered last year. I mean, that trade worked out extremely well and gives us a solid big for years to come.

    Then some of the other names you mentioned were real head scratchers as well. Yes we let Sasha go. And so did the nets and he ended up playing in Turkey. For me Sasha was a complete head case, one of the greatest shooter of all time, in practice. The only negative to that deal was using first round pick to unload him. Personally I would have paid him to sit and saved the pick. But then, I’m not writing the luxury tax checks. I actually think Sasha is an example of players that Phil has actually hurt. Not all players are strong enough mentally and emotionally to play for Phil. I think Vlade was another example. And Farmar butted heads with him as well. Although I think Jordan was just too full of himself.

    As for Shannon, it’s no secret that he has been a disappointment for the Suns. Mitch didn’t want to pay him more then he thought he was worth. And I agree. Since arriving at the Suns he has been over paid for what he has produced. Other then a couple of wasted draft picks, I can’t argue much with the personnel moves the Lakers have made. It’s just that we were extremely unlucky with injuries last year.

  22. Warren Wee Lim June 1, 2013 at 3:30 am

    Since Craig and Dave M. has started asking, the team I refer to the most that could give us something is the Timberwolves. This is pure speculation therefore I will not delve into the particular names.

    1. Far enough under the cap to give us a TPE in the exchange.
    2. Have 2-3 contracts that are also expiring, the other being a team option.
    3. Interested at making the playoffs because they have been in the lottery for quite some time.
    4. Disappointed at a top prospect of theirs.
    5. Ricky Rubio.
    6. David Kahn.
    7. Have been interested at Pau Gasol for quite awhile.

    That team would be Pau’s perfect destination.

  23. David Kahn was fired. Flip Saunders has replaced him. Going to have to find a new GM to fleece.

  24. Michael H: I generally agree with most of our personnel moves as well. Countless times I have said the same as you just did. We gambled and lost (significantly due to injury). I do not fault the FO for that. I evidently am not redundant enough. The post to which you refer was something I wrote in response to rr on his favorite topic, which is the secondary players. And I can’t argue with him. We were stuck with Blake, Meeks, and Morris last year and all of the guys in your post above are better than they are. We did not have to give up DF to get Hill, we simply dumped him as part of the deal (they released him immediately remember). We paid another team to take Sasha, and we simply let Shannon go. And did you agree with the Blake contract as well? And let me know about Nash when we are still paying him in 15. We have not done well at this position, no way to sugar coat it.
    Busboys: Awesome post. Your Cowboy comparison is perfect and one I have used in the past. Jerry Jones and Jim Buss are both meddlers. They love to tinker with their teams, rather than leaving it to others who are more qualified. They also got rid of legendary coaches and replaced them with yes men. At least in Jerry Jones’ case he has some rings. Also – you are correct on Pau. We simply keep him. You refer to 40 cents on the dollar. The problem is that it will be (as you indicate) 100 cents on the dollar in the form of vagabond, boat anchor contracts, which extend beyond 14.

  25. Warren Wee Lim June 1, 2013 at 7:42 am

    Can I respectfully change #6 to Rick Adelman.

  26. Rusty Shackleford June 1, 2013 at 8:02 am

    Did anyone hear what Bill Simmons said about the city of Memphis?

  27. Warren Wee Lim June 1, 2013 at 8:42 am

    What about it Rusty?

  28. Rusty Shackleford June 1, 2013 at 8:51 am

    In a podcast he related the tension of the Memphis Grizzlies crowd in Game 4 of the WCF to the tension of the city population after the MLK assassination.

    He’s lost it.

  29. Change it to Adelman if you like, but people close to that team have told me he loves nearly every player on that team save Derrick Williams. I’m sure the former #2 pick is part of your dream scenario, but based off your comment of “expiring contracts” I can tell you for a fact that Rick loves those guys whose deals are up next summer, especially Kirilenko. The odds of making a deal with the Wolves dropped dramatically when Kahn was fired.

  30. So just in the interested of beating the Pau question to death (although it will die countless more deaths before it’s actually dead), here’s a question. If you had choice A, B or C, which would you take?

    A. Keep Pau, hope he comes back refreshed with healthier knees, him play out the year and let his contract expire in order to clear room.

    B. Trade him in for a couple mid-range draft picks, a role player and some cash.

    C. Ask the 76’ers if Kwame Brown is available.

  31. Hi Robert,

    Actually if you recall the Rockets cut Fish at his request. And of course being over the cap, we could not have taken Hill back without sending salary to the Rockets. As for Blake, yes I agree with his contract. That contract was offered on past performance and the salary environment at that time. When looking at those factors, he received market value. And Blake rediscovered his form this year. Would you be complaining about his salary if he had played this well all three years?

    Meeks is another good sign by the FO. As always his salary was based on past performance. Somewhere in the middle of the season, he lost his shooting touch, although he really began to develop as a defender. If he had shot 38% from 3 the entire year instead of just the 1st half, would that have changed your opinion? And market value? He left a million on the table to become a Laker. Kind of gives you an idea of what 1.5 mil buys you.

    Now I am not saying that the F.O did the best they could have done, considering we didn’t have any depth at small forward. I am not sure what happened with Matt Barnes but it appears there was issues with him and Brown. Considering Barnes is always under paid for his talent level and can’t seem to stick with any team, I would have to guess that was on Matt, not Brown. So I can’t say the F.O was perfect but I have to agree with their moves concerning the players you mentioned in your post.

  32. As to Pau, I think it is about 75/25 that:

    a) Howard will sign with Houston.
    b) The Lakers will simply keep Pau and play him at the 5, and sell next season as a farewell tour and as a buildup to whenever Kobe comes back.
    c) Metta will be amnestied and sign with Brooklyn.

    I have no idea what will happen with Nash other than that he will play somewhere. He is involved in an ugly domestic court fight with his ex-wife. I think it is about 80/20 that he will start the season with the Lakers, but if he is playing well, I could see him getting moved at the deadline.

    As to 2015, if this year goes badly and he is still here, Nash might well accept a buyout and retire and/or return to PHX as a player-coach/FO/PR guy.

    There could, of course, be some last-minute reversal–Jeannie steps in and brings Phil with her; Kobe calls Howard at midnight on June 30 and talks him into staying. Dwight seems to like Dwama. But I think the signs are pointing to Houston right now.

  33. “Hey Kobes – dude – I think you should keep your minutes down – you are old like me – I do not see how you do it”
    “Hey Kobes – buddy – uh – I think you should talk to Dwight – he seems kinda down”
    “Key Kobes – well uh – some of the guys aren’t real happy with the offense in the 4th quarter and they wanted me to speak with you”

    He might have listened. However there was nobody speaking.

    ___________

    Like I said, you can speculate all you like. Doesn’t change the facts.

  34. Who’s getting Lakers ready to play in the 2nd half?

    I don’t doubt that Fisher and Odom were good leaders, and Phil of course was a great one. But the 2011 Lakers season ended in a humiliating sweep and a pair of disgraceful ejections. And, according to people around the team, Fisher actually gave one of his halftime speeches during Game 3 in Dallas. All good things come to an end.

  35. If you had choice A, B or C, which would you take?

    Depends on who the players in “B” are. But, like I said, I think Howard is going to take this out of the Lakers’ hands. I agree with the KBros and others who say that Kobe will not be Amnestied unless it is at his express and personal request, and I don’t see that happening. So I think that means that Pau stays.

    Something else to get out there, not intended as criticism of Kobe, Pau or the FO, but worth knowing:

    Tim Duncan’s contract:
    10.3M in 2014
    10M in 2015

    Tony Parker’s contract:
    12.5M in 2014
    12.5M in 2015 with a clause that they can waive him before June 30 and pay him 3.5M.

  36. rr: “Like I said, you can speculate all you like. Doesn’t change the facts” Whether DF would have filled the leadership void is speculation – that is true. The existence of the void however – was a fact.
    I see you agree with my appraisal of our diminishing chances for DH. I had us at 35%. You are down to 25% or less? Anything we can do to improve our odds or is it too late for that?
    Dave M: I am fine with A or B however the role player mentioned must have a 14 expiration date on his contract.
    “the 2011 Lakers season ended in a humiliating sweep ” Yes it did. And so did the 2013 season. And let’s not speculate about what could have been – 2011 could have been different too – if you want to speculate. So let’s not do that and base things on facts and results as you stated.

  37. rr: The rare instances of 4 straight finals trips, Pau’s play, the cancer announcement and a hot Mavs team. A whole lot was going on that playoff run that not even Fisher could galvanize the team for a half. I’m just wondering who gives those speeches now. Metta? Only so much coaches can do and say the players have to come together. And there’s no one on this team to do that.

    Does anybody consider Derozan a bad contract? He’s 23 with a bright future ahead of him. Toronto just hired a new GM who might want to shake things up. Minnesota and Toronto were already places most gave the best chance at getting Pau. Not much young talent available next year, mostly vets I’d jump at the chance to get him. But it’s all moot if Dwight bolts because Pau likely stays.

  38. I absolutely agree with several comments above on the firing of scouts being a shortsighted move, and it goes with the Lakers MO of “we don’t develop players, we bring in vets” that’s got to change with the realities of the new CBA. That plus throwing away draft picks for nothing: I’m not referring to getting Nash which arguably made sense at the time, but moves like giving up a 1st round pick to get rid of Sasha and another to get Sessions for a half season rental.

    I’m glad the Spurs are going to the Finals because everyone is focusing on how they’ve done a great job with player scouting and development, which has greatly taken the load off of their aging superstars, especially Duncan. I hope this slaps some reality in the Lakers FO.

  39. Robert: The existence of the void however – was a fact.

    Yeah, but you don’t really know, what, if any,effect it actually had. Speaking of which…

    Kevin: And there’s no one on this team to do that.

    _____

    Maybe, but there is no way you can know what really goes on in the clubhouse or on the plane or in the workout room and how that affects the team on the floor. Again: speculate if you like, but be aware that that is all you’re doing–just like I am speculating about what will happen to Howard.

    For example, not long after Kobe’s surgery, Kobe Tweeted a picture of himself, Meeks, and Howard shot at Kobe’s mansion–all smiling with Howard holding a small Bryant-owned dog. I commented at the time that Howard sure didn’t look like someone who was leaving town in that picture.

  40. “the 2011 Lakers season ended in a humiliating sweep ”

    With Fisher, Odom, and Phil all in the locker room and on the bench, and with the team mostly healthy. That was the point of the comment.

  41. Anything we can do to improve our odds or is it too late for that?

    No way for anybody who is not around the team and/or around Howard to do anything but guess on this issue. The only thing that I will say is what I said last week: IMO people around the team with power and/or influence–Buss, Kupchak, D’Antoni, Jeannie, Kobe, Pau, and Nash
    –need to reach out to Howard, and I would ask Kareem to talk to him as well.

    The Lakers’ FO (as well as people in the fanbase who complain about Howard) should IMO do a simple thought exercise: imagine an alternate reality in which the Bynum/Howard deal did not go through, and Howard played out the year in Orlando, while the Lakers went through the year with Pau, a minimum-salary vet, and Sacre, at center while Bynum was bowling and going to hair stylists. Such a team probably would have been below .500, out of postseason, and in the 20th-26th range in team defense. Then, imagine that in this alternate reality, the Lakers had the cap space to sign Howard, who played better down the stretch in Orlando, and were battling Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, and Golden State for his services, but had a legit shot.

    That is how the FO and the fanbase should look at this, rather than focusing on all the things about Howard that they find problematic. In that scenario, it seems pretty clear to me that you would want him.

  42. To add:

    The FO and the fanbase should think of Howard as Unrestricted Free Agent 27-year-old Very Good Defensive Center Dwight Howard, now over a year removed from back surgery, not pain-in-the-you-know-what Dwama Queen who was part of what may have been the worst Lakers season since Magic retired.

    If you look at it through that lens, I think the picture is very clear.

  43. rr

    Excellent points. Still think he’s gone though.