Fast Break Thoughts

Darius Soriano —  June 12, 2013

*The Spurs are showing the perfect blend between a team who starts a traditional lineup with two big men and one that has the shooters and versatility to play smaller while spacing the floor. They also run a fantastic system that relies on constant ball and player movement in order to generate good looks on most every possession. The Lakers, who have some of these same ingredients as the Spurs, could do well to take some notes on some of the things that are working for the Spurs on both sides of the ball and adopt them into next year’s team.

*Speaking of next year, Brian Kamenetzky argues that the Lakers should trade Pau Gasol. Several good points are raised and I found myself nodding along in several sections of BK’s piece. That said, I’m still not entirely convinced trading Pau is the right move.

*The NBA could see an all time high in coaching turnover this summer. We’ve already seen 3 coaches who led their teams to franchise records in victories let go or not had their contracts renewed for next season. Today, rumors resurfaced that Doc Rivers may not return to coach the Celtics should they go into full rebuilding mode this summer. With all these coaching changes on the mind, the guys at Silver Screen and Roll discussed whether or not Mike D’Antoni will return to coach the Lakers next season. I, for one, think he will be back.

*Of course, the prevailing wisdom is that if D’Antoni were let go it would be because Dwight Howard made it be known he’d like it to be case should he return to the Lakers next season. I doubt Dwight goes in that direction, however. Dwight may not be known as the most PR savvy individual, but attaching his name to another coach getting fired likely isn’t in his best interest even if there are fans that would praise him for calling for the hit.

*Speaking of Dwight, Shaq is back in the news saying the reason he’s so hard on Dwight is because he thinks it’s his “duty” to held him “become one of the best big men in the league.” Okay, Shaq. Next you’re going to tell me you actually drive a Buick.

*I can’t take full credit for that line, by the way. I got a variation of it from this video compilation of players reading mean tweets they received in a segment for Jimmy Kimmel.

*Shaq’s not the only former legend dishing dirt on Dwight. Today, in conference call in his duties as analyst for the Finals, Magic Johnson said that Howard needs to work on his offense while also mentioning that Mike D’Antoni needs to focus more on defense.

*Not sure if you got the chance to watch the Julius Erving film “The Doctor” on NBA TV when it aired, but if you didn’t you should find the chance to do so. It was a great look at one of the all-timers and true pioneers of the modern game. As a bonus, the film ends with the Doc throwing one down at the ripe old age of 63. Pretty incredible.

*Of course, one of Dr. J’s most famous plays came against the Lakers when he dunked on a leaping then ducking Michael Cooper in the open court. Here’s a neat story of Cooper talking about that play and how he gets a royalty check every time the clip is shown.

Darius Soriano

Posts

23 responses to Fast Break Thoughts

  1. Agreed with the noted praise for “The Doctor.”

    It made me feel for those basketball fans now in their mid-30s or younger, who were force fed with the NBC/Nike-driven “Jordan is God” mantra for so many years. Just like Kareem, the Doctor will never get his due praise simply because he came along a few years too early.

  2. Also, Kareem was A) too intelligent for the ‘talking heads’ around him and B) didn’t care to constantly delve into the daily details of dirt and short-term analysis that is demanded by the news media – hence they simply didn’t like him. He only got accolades begrudgingly, when they couldn’t be avoided. Not everyone has a Magic Johnson smile and personality, but that doesn’t detract from their skill and dedication.

  3. I simply think we need to account for the bias inherent with growing up when we did. I grew up in the 80’s and was a young adult in the 90’s. Somebody 10 years older then me probably sees Dr. J like I see Jordan. Sure technology has changed how we perceive our sports but I’d wager that on an individual level we are rather more formed by the players that taught us the game. Baylor, Dr. J, Jordan, Bean, LBJ… How we relate to them will depend on how their era relates to our own.

  4. Guys, I was a Bball junkie back in the day. I was fortunate enough to see The Doctor operate many times up close and personal in various summer venues in NYC, including the fabled Rucker Tournament. Julius Erving was one serious ballplayer and entertainer. He always sent you home feeling enriched with the sense that you had just been privileged to watch a master ply his trade. He deserves every bit of his legendary status.

  5. Warren Wee Lim June 12, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    The Kamenetzky Brothers post echoes what I have in my heart. One thing they have not tackled is the question of Pau’s happiness and comfort level. If I was management, moving Pau (although this is not his top choice) is a matter of giving him a comfort level of sending him to a team where his talents are optimally maximized. It ultimately leads to a satisfaction of his role, and consequently happiness. I’ll trade Pau Gasol because I want him to be happy.

    Obi Wan would just wave his palms and jedi mind trick the heck out of other GMs. In this case, using the argument that putting an old and slow Gasol to a team that has enough guns to cover his weakness makes him the team’s most-skilled and very useful big man. Putting him on an old and slow team like ours, makes him older and slower.

    I will trade Pau Gasol that sends back decent value. Note that its not great I look at. For those that insist we can’t trade him without onerous contracts coming back, well, if that was the requirement then I’d play him and we’d let him expire for all intents and purposes.

  6. Warren Wee Lim June 12, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    On another note, if K-Bros think that sinking rock bottom is the way to go, they should know better that there’s a snowball’s chance in hell that happens.

  7. P. Ami,
    Astute observation.

  8. Warren Wee Lim June 12, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    Craig, part of Cap’s less emphasis is due to his religion and belief. That shouldn’t impede on how he’s to be perceived. Just a plain baller that Lew Alcindor guy.

    Maybe if he kept that name… Makes you wonder.

  9. I lived through the Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali thing, as well as Kareem’s change so I know what you are talking about.

  10. Keith Wilkes to Jaamal Wilkes, also.

  11. Rusty Shackleford June 13, 2013 at 8:46 am

    World B. Free

  12. P Ami nails it on the head. For example, I “know” that Mikam, Parrish, Wilt were great in large part because that’s what people say, but if you ask me to compare them to Magic, MJ, Kobe and Lebron, I find it very hard to rank them because I do not have a frame of visual reference for these guys. So, I “know” they were great, but I do not truly “know”… boy, I just confused myself.

    Craig – I agree about Kareem. In some ways, the Magic-Kareem comparison was the same as Kobe-Shaq just a decade ago.

  13. “I doubt Dwight goes in that direction” I doubt he will go in the direction of asking for a coaching change either. However how is that a good thing? All that means is that if he does not like the coach (which there is indications he does not), then he will simply leave.

  14. Warren Wee Lim

    I respect your insights. However, I disagree with you regarding the Lakers returning to glory by hitting rock bottom. You said that course has “a snowball’s chance in hell” of happening.

    Of course, it is preferable to rebuild without losing a step. The Lakers could resign Howard this summer and hope Lebron is open to joining him next off season. That certainly would be an acceptable outcome in light of the uncertainty we currently face. Unfortunately, the odds of that happening are small.

    I was all for acquiring Howard and making him the center piece of the Lakers going forward. Listening to Magic Johnson’s comments from yesterday helped solidify the thoughts that have been running around in my head for most of this season. Magic did not seem to endorse resigning Howard – eluding to the fact that his skill set is more complementary than they were deserving of being a team’s focal point. I share this assessment. The problem being that Howard views himself as the first option on offense and defense. The gap between Howards perspective and reality will be a constant source of frustration for the Lakers both on the court and in the locker room.

    While rebuilding via young talent, acquired via trade and draft, is not a path with 100% certitude I think the fans would understand that approach. In fact I believe that they will support a team that had young players that are viewed as building blocks for future success. The alternative is a team, built around Howard, that drifts into the NBAs no man’s land. Not good enough to compete at the higher levels and not bad enough to acquire great talent through the draft. I think resigning Howard puts us in that category. In that instance we’ll be forced to constantly ransom the future (draft picks and salary flexibility) in an effort to improve an inherently imperfect roster.

    I would go all in and sell every current piece that is not part of the future for draft picks or young talent. That means Howard, Gasol, Nash, MWP will have to go. This approach may take Lebron off the table next summer as we may not have a core in place he sees fit to compete for a championship. That’s OK – the Summer of 2015 has a crop of young free agents that would propel the Lakers forward as well.

    While a rebuild starting this summer is going to piss Kobe off what choice do we have? What guarantee do we have that he comes back at all next year and if he does at what level will he perform? He may ask to be amnestied but I would hope that he takes the year off to heal and help the 2014 – 15 team from the start of training camp.

    It all comes down to management’s belief in Howard. They may see him as the best player on the best team. I do not and because of that I would not commit to him.

  15. Kareem’s beliefs played a part in how the media portrayed him, and I sense some of the same underlying vitriol in how Shabazz Muhammad has been repeatedly attacked in the media, from his character to his family. it’s not absolute – Hakeem, soft spoken later in his career, is generally portrayed very well – but there is a definite trend.

    It took Pop three years to figure out how to keep Duncan and Tiago on the floor together without compromising the team’s offense. I’m not well versed enough in x’s and o’s to pick up the subtleties, but elite corner shooters at the wing spots, an elite penetrator, and constant movement helped negate a lot of the twin tower issues, as well as Duncan and Splitter growing familiar with each other, and Duncan becoming a truly elite midrange shooter. Splitter is also young and excellent at moving off the ball, finding creases, etc. It’s not an easy model to replicate.

  16. The hardest thing for most of us fans is that there my be absolutely nothing anyone outside of Dwight’s circle can do to focus/alter his decision mindset. We all simply have to wait it out.

    This is not in FAN DNA and results in innumerable posts about what should be done and how the front office should react, plus more pulling of hair about what has been done and how it could have been done differently. All this doesn’t change a thing, but it does heighten the temperature of the blogosphere.

  17. Robert, if Howard stays and does not request a coaching change, the same issues that he had with said coach will rear its head mid-season.

    D’Antoni is confident that he’ll remain with the Lakers because he purchased a million dollar home on the beach.

    If Rivers leaves the Celtics wouldn’t he make a wonderful head coach in Lakersland. Did I just say that? We took Phil from the hated Bulls, so I guess I could take Rivers from the disgusting greenies!

    Congratulations to Jason Kidd. How many players have retired and gone directly into a head coach position?

  18. Robert,

    I think you are right to a degree, but I would also add that I would guess that if Howard really wanted to stay, he would go ahead and take a bigger plunge in terms of asking that D’Antoni be replaced, or, as the case might be, not asking for that. So, I think the two are tied together. If he walks and then statements are made to the effect that he didn’t talk to Buss and Kupchak much about MDA, I would take that as an indicator he wanted out all along.

    As I pointed out a week or so ago, and as others have since noted, Lionel Hollins’ track record fits the current Lakers very well in the broad strokes. Memphis was 30th in Pace Factor and played with two bigs a lot. They played good D, and Hollins is not a sabermetric guy.

    Also, I would note that Shaw was not chosen by Detroit, where Phil consulted, and now has not been chosen by Brooklyn. Whether that says more about Shaw or about those teams, or about Cheeks and Kidd, or none of the above, well, no way to know.

  19. Amusing that Darius (or whoever) let Craig’s comment stay up and took mine down. Global insults about “fans” are OK, I guess. Good to know.

  20. Snoop…

    Mohamed Ali is one of the most beloved sports figues in our country. In his day, his attitude and then his conversion were definitely issues. They may still be issues for some but I don’t think his place in sports is anything less then the highest possible. Today we view the man as the biggest historical figure in his sport and transcendent of it. Why wouldn’t that happen with Kareem, unless other factors play a role?

    My lord, with all the players in the NCAA that have Muslim names, pointing out Shabazz Mohamed as an example of prejudice seems to be a complete reach. Mohamed lied about his age. That is a red flag. I can’t speak to the rest of what he has experienced at the hands of the NCAA, but reflexively blaming prejudice is harmful. Not to mention the various NCAA manhunts and it’s manner of using and abusing all players, all while capitalizing on their hard work, I don’t think a Muslim name or beliefs (if he is Muslim, I don’t know, don’t care) are at the heart of Shabazz Mohamed’s problems with the NCAA. Some personalities just rub institutions the wrong way.

    Moses Malone, Robert Parish, Wes Unseld, Ralph Sampson, Jack Sikma, Nate Thurmond, Bob Lanier, Dave Cowens… All those guys were all-time greats and we just forget. We are regulated to thinking the newest is the best because of our technological focus. Then the issues with how memory works, how story telling can effect our memories, and the various marketing pressures we experience… we just forget.

  21. What’s amusing is your continued offense taken towards relatively benign comments about fans.

  22. What’s amusing is your continued offense taken towards relatively benign comments about fans.

    Nah. This is just your lack of objectivity showing.

  23. Nah. This is just your lack of objectivity showing.

    Pot, meet kettle.