Around The World (Wide Web): Lakers-Nuggets, Johnson, Gasol, Swaggy

Ryan Cole —  October 7, 2013

From Mike Bresnahan, LA Times: Brian Shaw stepped out of the visitors’ locker room and into his past at Staples Center. After so many years as a Lakers player and assistant coach, he was on the other side of the scorer’s table Sunday for an exhibition game, his first as a head coach. Shaw was hired by the Denver Nuggets after interviews with countless teams over the years to be a head coach. Of course, he hoped to get a chance with the Lakers last November after they fired Mike Brown. Shaw was an assistant with the Indiana Pacers at the time. “There were some opportunities that I would’ve loved to jump at,” he said before the Nuggets’ 97-88 victory over the Lakers.

From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: Hopefully this is nothing too serious. Wesley Johnson needed a fresh start and he was getting one with a Lakers team that has minutes to give out off the bench if you can earn them. Johnson on paper should fit well in a Mike D’Antoni system and all the reports out of Lakers training camp are that he was impressing coaches and teammates. Then in Sunday’s exhibition loss to the Denver Nuggets, Johnson left the game in the first quarter with what is being called a “strained left foot.” He did not return and will have an MRI Monday, reports Dave McMenamin at ESPNLosAngeles.com. “There was some burning sensation in his foot,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We’re hoping [it is] not bad.” Johnson was the No. 4 pick of the Minnesota Timberwolves but after two seasons they let him go. He played 50 games for the Suns last season, averaging 8 points on just 40.7 percent shooting and 32.3 percent from three — he has primarily been a spot up shooter who doesn’t shoot all that well. He played better defense in Phoenix, but we wouldn’t call it lock down. We’d call it okay.Which means Johnson has a lot to prove in Lakers training camp if he wants to get consistent run this season. A foot injury certainly would be a setback. Hopefully it’s nothing serious.

From Dave McMenamin, ESPN LA: With Kobe Bryant (temporarily) some 6,000 miles away in Germany andDwight Howard (permanently) some 1,500 miles away in Houston, Pau Gasol had plenty of room to operate on the court for the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday. Gasol had 13 shot attempts in 23 minutes in the Lakers’ 97-88 loss to the Denver Nuggets. While he didn’t shoot the ball all that well (4-for-13 for 13 points) in his preseason debut and the first organized game he’s played in more than five months, just the sheer amount of touches was a welcome change for the 13-year veteran. “I think that’s a good indication of how much liberty and how much my teammates also trust me to make plays and make shots and then, when the defense collapses, find them,” Gasol said after the game.

From Sean Highkin, USA Today: As part of USA TODAY Sports’ NBA season preview coverage, Adi Joseph and I recently finished ranking all 30 teams by “watchability.” The Los Angeles Lakers came in at No. 24, the reasoning being that Kobe Bryant’s return date is still unknown, and after losing Dwight Howard, they simply weren’t going to be very good. Not good enough to merit 29 nationally televised games, anyway. After two preseason games, it’s evident that we made a big mistake. To be clear, the Lakers aren’t going to win more than 35 games or so, and will probably miss the playoffs, unless Kobe somehow plays on opening night and hasn’t lost a step. But Lakers fans are going to have a lot more fun watching this team than they did last year’s. The main reason: Nick Young. The Lakers signed “Swaggy P” to a two-year minimum contract over the summer, hoping he could provide some scoring help for a roster that struggled in a big way to put points on the board when Kobe went down. But he’s going to give them so much more than that.

 

Ryan Cole

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27 responses to Around The World (Wide Web): Lakers-Nuggets, Johnson, Gasol, Swaggy

  1. I was curious if anyone has any insight on what Kobe intends to do when he retires. Has he indicated that he’d like to coach, join a front office (with the goal of being a team president), become an owner/part owner, build a business empire or simply take it easy?

    While I hope his retirement is years away I would welcome his involvement in the Lakers. I strongly believe that the team would benefit from his focused perspective. The dream of PJ joining the Laker leadership circle is a pipedream. Jim would never accept that plus Jackson’s gift is coaching not the front office. Most tend to forget that it was PJ that helped freeze Jerry West out of the Lakers.

    I would hope Kobe would choose a path like Pat Riley’s. Pat’s success as an executive is directly tied to his experience as a coach. While Kobe the player may lack the calming hand of a successful head coach I think he has actually mellowed/matured as his career has evolved.

    The bottom line is that Jim needs real help making basketball decisions. Maybe he will accept assistance from the most beloved Laker of them all. The will to win that makes Kobe such a challenging team mate would in fact make him a great recruiter for FA talent as a coach or executive.

  2. It’s always interesting when the media finally admits an aging player just isn’t good anymore. It was this offseason for Nash… I’m guessing it will be next offseason for Pau

  3. Todd – I have often thought about the same thing. I am really concerned about the direction of the franchise with Jim in charge. The reality is that it would be tough to create a winner with Jim and Jennie on the same page. It’s likely impossible if they are not – which seems to be the case.

    The problem is that I don’t think Jim will give up power. For some reason he seems to think he has to follow his dad’s model where the owner had the last say in all player decisions. I wish he would bring on a talented executive who would take input from Jim and Mitch but have the final say. We need someone like Pat Riley, who you mentioned.

    The only problem I don’t see Jim opening up the circle even for Kobe. As you indicated maybe Kobe would earn a seat at the table by coaching. However, while I give Riley credit for being a successful coach he did fall into an enviable position. Those Laker teams were loaded.

  4. I think the people underestimate the Lakers. I don’t think they’ll be a championship team, but they will at least make the playoffs.

  5. Ding as always is spot on….

    @KevinDing: My column about the 1st @SteveNash game in 5 months — and basketball mortality: http://t.co/vCwz1L7ESn

  6. If Kobe is not able to make a full recovery and is forced to retire the Lakers will fall into rebuilding mode. MDA will then become a transitional coach who will wear out his welcome/contract as soon as the Lakers begin to acquire new talent. In other words the team will be looking for a new head coach by the 2015/16 season.

    Not my call but if Kobe wanted to coach I’d be open to it.

  7. Regarding the Lakers on the court: I don’t think its any surprise that we will often struggle. If injuries – especially Kobe’s – linger we won’t make the playoffs. If we can find a few gems that could play a role in the future then the pain of the next few seasons will be worth it. We’ll be back, it’s just going to take time.

    Regarding the side thread on Jim bringing Kobe in to help him: Dr Buss sold Magic 5% of the Lakers although it did not appear that he had any sway in basketball decisions. My point being that if Dad Buss did not give Magic (a part owner) a seat at the table why would son Jim give Kobe any authority.

    This Buss clan is a prickly bunch. We were fortunate that Dr. Buss knew what he was doing. We are equally unfortunate that it appears Jim does not.

  8. I think it’s very telling that when Dr Buss began to realize that he could not lead the team as he had been that he did not look for a ‘talented executive’ to bring in and help guide the franchise. Dr. Buss turned to his son, Jim.

    We can argue until the cows come home that Dr. Buss should have seen the limitations of Jim and the potential friction caused by Jeannie (and her relationship to PJ). The fact of the matter is Dr. Buss put this specific model in place and his kids are going to see it through.

    Yes, I agree that the wise choice would be to have hired someone like a Pat Riley a few years ago. But that alternative is not part of the solution set available to the Buss kids. It’s just not in their DNA.

  9. if the two preseason games are any indication, then the only thing to look forward to this upcoming laker season is the schedule:

    http://i.cdn.turner.com/nba/nba/.element/media/2.0/teamsites/lakers/media/1314schedule/2013_14_lakers_printable.pdf

    go lakers

  10. Shaw: His coaching post is overdue and well deserved. It should have been different.
    Morgan: Your post is highly accurate. What I would like is that Jim should at least taper back to the level of involvement that Jerry Buss had. He does not need to be the Jerry Jones of the NBA and be involved in everything.
    Bruce: Your last paragraph is priceless.
    Todd: “The bottom line is that Jim needs real help making basketball decisions.” Another alternative is that he does not have to be involved in all the decisions. Let Mitch run the team. He can be involved in only the big stuff. The scouts, the lower level front office people, and the 4-12 players are not big stuff.
    Kobe: He has said he will not coach, not do I want him to. Instead I would prefer he play forever.

  11. Please, please, please stop making every single post about getting a new coach or asking that Jim bring in Phil or lamenting that Phil is not here, or defending the FO, or other should-have-beens. etc…. Geez. Its preseason. Game 1. It’s a very long season with lots of great items to discuss. Sure, coaching and the FO will be topics to be addressed, but not every freaking post.

  12. MannyP:

    I hear you. However, many Laker fans, myself included, feel very deeply about the team. The Lakers are facing a real challenge in the years ahead. Who is in charge really does matter. I think what you see playing out are the frustrations of fans that have very little faith that the current FO can make the right decisions. They don’t want the Lakers to become just another middle of the road team.

    We, as Laker fans, are so spoiled. I think we all know this team is in transition. We likely will not compete for anything meaningful this year. It’s hard for many hard core fans to wrap their heads around that. When faced with uncertainty we all wish there were a fast forward magic solution button that could transform us to the future where everything is OK – or for Lakers fans ‘back to competing for championships’.

    We probably all need to be a bit more patient this year.

  13. MannyP: In my case, I am going to remain as positive as possible in the game threads (or I will say nothing) and recaps. Case in point, I made positive post about our preseason opening game victory, and I said nothing about the last game. There will be no lambasting of the team’s performance or the FO – game by game from me. As far as above, I thought some of the posters had some good points, and I complimented them as such.
    Ed: Good post. “They don’t want the Lakers to become just another middle of the road team. ” No we don’t. In my case I just don’t want us to break our record of 8 years without a Finals visit. I don’t think that is too much to ask is it? However I am worried I might be disappointed.

  14. Guys, my point is that there will be plenty of posts devoted to analyzing if the coaching staff, players and/of FO is doing a good job. All I am saying is no need to turn every post into a veiled or direct attack on the person or persons you dislike or, alternatively pledge your undying support for the other guys.

    I get that there are no set rules as to posting, but here we saw Bryan Shaw’s first game as head coach and many of you who are ultra-die-hard Shaw supporters did not even make a single comment about what you saw that you liked or did not like.

    There’s also a good article on the injury to Wesley John and how that may affect his chances of making the team. In light of Hill’s dull performance and how rusty some of the other returning-from-injury vets looked, maybe this was something to discuss.

    On the opposite side of the spectrum McMenamin’s article gave some optimistic views on Pau’s game while Kobe is out.

    Instead of talking about the game, the players, matchups, lineups or, hell, even coaching issues we saw that created concerns, the conversation deteriorated into the typical “no way the Lakers win/do anything positive because Jim is inept and not his father” and a “the Lakers will never win unless Jim steps down” conversation, as it always seem to as of late.

    I get that as fans we love to vent. So, as a fan of this site, I am venting. I just wish we would all try and keep the convo going within reasonable bounds of the topic at hand. I don’t know for sure, but I get the feeling that if someone really wanted to post an analysis of the game only to visit the site and note that the convo had once again steered itself into a Jim/MDA /FO discussion, they may be turned off and not post at all.

    I guess I just happen to think that a meaningless game 1 of the preseason, which the Lakers won, with zero at stake for the franchise just seems like an odd place to bring some of these Jim/MDA /FO issues up.

  15. MannyP,

    I agree with you entirely. There’s a little too much emphasis on the FO, Jim Buss’s readiness for the job (or lack thereof), the lingering shadow of Phil Jackson, etc., etc. So…let’s see if we can focus on something else. Below are a few of my observations re: some of the players (bear in mind–we’ve only seen 2 rather pathetic preseason games). Let me know where you agree or disagree.

    Wes Johnson–His foot is injured so he sat most of the last game. But he has to be far more productive on offense. The reports have been that he’s been sensational in practice. I’d like to see it in a game. I’m terrified that he’s going to disappoint us. I was kinda counting on him.

    Jordan Hill–He, too, has disappointed…so far. But he is recovering from major hip surgery in which he missed 50 games last year. Let’s give him a chance and see if he can regain his dynamism. He’s looked a little pedestrian to me which is not the Jordan Hill that I know.

    Nick Young–Shooting 4-16 won’t happen too many times when Kobe comes back and Nash starts to play longer minutes. Hopefully, he’ll realize that he’s being watched. This isn’t the Washington Wizards. He can’t free-wheel as he did with them. If this had been a regular season game, can you imagine what Kobe would have said to him? His shot selection must improve. But then again, this IS Nick Young.

    Pau and Nash–Both are still rounding into form (and probably a little bit rusty). Let’s give them a chance to get the cobwebs out.

    Xavier Henry–A surprising and welcome start. In 2 games so far he’s scored 44 points (!) and grabbed 10 rebounds in 50 minutes of action. Who would’ve thunk it. Obviously, he gets to the rim well and also rebounds well for his position. He’s also a willing defender. But there are holes in his game. I still don’t believe he has much of an outside shot. Also, he doesn’t take care of the ball very well (4 TOs in 24 minutes last night). And he’s played 50 minutes without a single assist. It seems to me that his game is still evolving. Clearly, he’s got to learn to take care of the ball and share the ball with his team mates. But then again, he’s only 22. His game is maturing. I think he’ll make the team. But he definitely won’t start…not if he turns the ball over every 6 minutes.

    Jordan Farmar–A truly auspicious return for Farmar. He had real energy in Ontario. He scored. He got others involved. And he played some D. He’ll be the best of the lot off the bench. I was very pleased with what I saw.

    Chris Kaman–Looked good in his one game so far–10 points (although on 4-12 shooting) and 10 boards. He’ll get better as he finds his groove. He’ll definitely contribute.

    Elias Harris and Marcus Landry–Harris is on the bubble (but I like his athleticism.) Landry is going back to the D League.

    Shawne Williams–He’ll contribute. But if he starts, then something’s wrong.

    Kobe Bryant–Get well soon.

  16. Look the team did what they could this offseason – they got a good amount of talent on the team for cheap – if anything I didnt like the artest amnesty but if they make a trade to fall under the tax and miss the repeater tax in planning for next year then fine …. without kobe … no chance we make the playoffs johnson looks kinda like a dud and young will be young but if we keep playing the style we have seen through 2 games we are gonna get smoked a lot this year… and so be it – I would rather get a top shelf prospect like wiggans through the draft to then team up with kobe,pau and whoever we keep on the roster than meek through to 8th only to get slaughtered like last year.

    If we get 1st or 2nd then I think getting a major FA next year will be very plausible.

  17. Todd,

    The only thing I have every heard Kobe say about it is that he has thought about being part-owner of a soccer team overseas, and that was just in an off-hand way. He also said that he didn’t see himself as a basketball executive, but this was a few years ago.

  18. Its not a secret that Hill and Meeks have been disappointing by far. I also look at Steve Blake and he doesn’t look particularly helpful if we intend to run more of Farmar. Why not shop/ship them?

  19. OK – I have a somewhat “different” topic that I am very curious about. It is Kobe’s status, which is extremely important to our results. As everyone knows, this seems to be somewhat of a mystery. We have heard all sorts of stuff ranging from – “he is targeting opening night” to a possibility that he will miss significant time. Let me preface with “I am not a doctor” – however I think the reality is a narrower range than that. So my question is why the media secrecy? Meaning if he is going to miss the first 20-30 games – why not just say that? If he “truly” is day to day and could come back at anytime, then why not say that? We all have our theories and it seems that most on this board are expecting KB to miss about 25% of the season. So why hasn’t the team issued better guidance on this? This is a like an SP500 firm issuing earnings guidance that stated, “we will not go bankrupt, and we will also not have record earnings, where it falls in the middle – we don’t know”. I think the CFO would be questioned on that one. And I think our training staff has a much narrower range than that to which they are releasing publicly. Why?

  20. Robert,
    By being vague with a potential return date, the team does a better job at controlling expectations. Most teams do this in regards to returns from serious injury. They mention that a player is “on pace for full recovery” but never mention what that pace is. It can be frustrating, but by limiting info they can shape the story somewhat in that they set the tone for how they’ll respond to any inquiries.

  21. Darius: I agree in general, however we are well into the process. When the injury occurred, saying that the recovery is 6 to 9 months, while being a large range, is a very reasonable statement because there are many unknowns. We are now about 5 months in so this should not be 1-4 months : ) And of course it is not : ) Kobe and the training staff have a narrower range. Most teams narrow this range publicly as the return date nears. The fact that they have not given us information actually concerns me, and makes me speculate it is not soon (I hope I am wrong).
    All predictions on team performance must be contingent on this issue. When will KB come back and at what capacity. In my case – if KB were to play the whole year at 85%+, then I would say we could get 6th or 7th in the West (barring injury to others). If KB missed the whole year then we are looking at 12th or 13th. Even with the KB info – these are still just wild guesses.

  22. @Aaron: good piece on Nash.

    My question with Nash. Is he getting a free pass because he’s 39/40 yrs old or because he is likeable? What is it going to take for the national media to say he needs to try to be more productive and mostly more aggressive?

    Sorry but a line of 0pts does nothing for me at all. If he isn’t going to be a major threat on offense he really isn’t the best option at the point guard position due to the fact that he can’t really defend. Nash is running around like Rondo not shooting at all…at some point you have to keep defenses honest and I would go a step further saying you really need to make them try to stop you from scoring to open up more passes. I get that he wants to give everyone opportunities in the preseason but he still needs to get in the habit of shooting 15-18 times a game.

    Sorry for the rant. lol

  23. Robert,

    I’m with you on the Kobe injury updates. It seems there should have been an updated time table given at the start of training camp. That goes double in light of Russell Westbrook’s recent setback. That has to have us Laker fans nervous. If they think Kobe will be out until Christmas, then just say it. It would be in line with the original prognosis. And no one would be upset if he beat that time table and made it back by Thanksgiving.

    Part of the reason the team “owes” the fans an update is they kept pushing the narrative of him shattering the original time table during the off season. People were not expecting those kinds of updates. But the Lakers and Kobe kept putting it out there. Kobe’s people talked about never seeing anyone recover the way Kobe is. Jim Buss went on record saying he fully expected Kobe to be suited and playing on opening night. Now that training camp has started everyone’s gone tight lipped. We only know that he most likely won’t be ready for opening night.

    The inconsistency is a bit frustrating.

  24. sadly, it’s all about the money. as long as kobe is not playing, fans everywhere will not be filling up the arenas. on the off chance kobe returns to play soon, arenas will fill up. until then, patrons will be hesitant and ownership is well aware.

    i’m counting on kobe’s reputation.

    Go Lakers

  25. T. Rogers,
    The Lakers never once pushed the narrative that Kobe shattered his rehab timeline. Kobe did that. He did it in interviews internationally when traveling for Nike. So, if you want to be upset with someone about not getting updates based off those reports, be upset with him since he’s the one that initiated those reports.

    The team has consistently said that the normal recovery period is 6-9 months and that they had no other updates as far as an expected return date. That’s been their status quo since he had his surgery. They said the same thing at media day just a couple of weeks ago and I don’t expect them to say anything else until he’s basically practicing full bore.

    Whether fans like it or not, this is how every team operates. They want to control expectations and will share with fans only what they want to in terms of his progress. Saying he’ll be back by day X means nothing unless he actually makes it back by that date. If he’s out shorter, you said that would be great, but what if he’s out longer? Fans then start to worry about what’s wrong and questioning his rehab, the team doctors, and every other party in which they can assign blame. There’s nothing to gain by stating what their expectations are. Nothing. The only thing it will do is temporarily pacify fans who thirst for updates. But even that will only be temporary as they’ll then want updates, likely daily, on how he’s progressing in the lead up to that return.

    People are anxious for his return. I get it. But getting upset at the lack of updates is strange simply because there’s really no precedent for teams to divulge what their internal timelines are. My guess is that we’ll get our first bits of information about a possible return date from someone besides the Lakers or their PR reps. This is just how this works.

  26. LakerFanatic,
    Nash should be gettig a pass. He is 40 years old. It’s not his fault he is old. Mitch should be the one getting more blame for the signing. But because media types are dumb and thought it was a good signing (I’m pretty much the only one who was against it) Mitch is getting a free pass.

    I also think you’re right… Nash is likable. I don’t think he is but people like him. Probably because he is a white guy who speaks English. To me there is little likable about his personality when compared to other players.

  27. @Aaron,

    I understand where you are coming from. I’m not talking about his minutes (at this particular moment anyway) or injuries or even his foot speed to stay in front of defenders. I’m referencing the point that he is one of the few players to have the infamous 180 designation of shooting 50/40/90. So with that said he is by all accounts the only real pure shooter on the team and if we can get him looks or if he can take a lot of shots (I know he prefers to shoot off the dribble), then he should by all means do so.

    And maybe I’m looking at it wrong but it almost borders on selfish to me NOT to shoot it more. It’s like he wants to maintain his efficiency so bad he won’t TAKE or ATTEMPT extra shots to actually possibly hurt his percentage. Its like the guy in the NBA who won’t shoot the half court buzzer beater at the end of the quarter because they want to keep their percentage intact.

    Despite his percentages I’m not saying he should take 25 shots a game (although it may not be so bad of an idea), I understand he isn’t a volume shooter, I know its not in his “DNA”. But in his MVP time he was scoring 20ppg 43% of the games that he started in 2006-2007 and with the Lakers a whopping 8%. I understand the pace is different and obviously he was younger and I’m not even asking for 20 & 10, but he should look for his shot or opportunities while on the floor otherwise he isn’t anymore valuable than a Steve Blake at the end of the day.

    *Deep breath* I’m done. lol