2013-14 Lakers Season Preview

Darius Soriano —  October 28, 2013

Much of how this team is viewed revolves around what they aren’t and what they’ve lost rather than what they are and what they’ve gained. This is the natural byproduct of examining a team coming off the season it just had and dealing with the circumstances the Lakers are. A quick inventory of the baggage this team is carrying reveals why expectations aren’t just low for the 2013-14 Lakers, but why they position this team as one of the lesser groups in the league:

*They lost Dwight Howard in free agency to a conference rival.

*Kobe Bryant is coming off what is typically considered the most devastating injury a basketball player can suffer.

*Their starting point guard, Steve Nash, is going on 40 and had several debilitating injuries last season and continues to suffer through minor nicks and dings this exhibition season that have hampered him physically and affected his performance.

*Their best big man, Pau Gasol, also suffered injuries last year and there are still major questions about whether he can remain healthy and, even if he does, whether he can still perform up to his past standards.

*Capped out, they were only able to add low priced veterans and reclamation projects who either have poor reputations or haven’t sniffed the success they were slated to have when entering the league.

*Their defensive talent is suspect at best and they just happen to have a head coach in Mike D’Antoni who doesn’t have the best reputation in terms of teaching defense or installing the types of schemes that cover up player weaknesses on that side of the ball.

I could go on and on, but you get my point. The questions about the Lakers don’t just inspire doubt, they overshadow what we really know about them and with the stench of underachievement still wafting around them like dirt particles around Pig-Pen in a Peanuts cartoon, there are valid reasons to be down on  this group of Lakers.

And down on them is exactly what most people are. A panel of over 200 analysts pegged them to be 12th in the western conference. One of the most respected basketball writers on the planet calls them just plain bad. Many smart people think they’re much more likely to earn a top 10 pick in the lottery than make the playoffs and predict a struggle to reach 35 wins, much less the 45 or so they’d need to make the postseason.

There is a flip-side, though.

While the team lost Howard (and Metta World Peace), Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss did add some serviceable players to bolster the roster and add depth. The return of Jordan Farmar adds athleticism and playmaking to the point guard spot. Chris Kaman adds a skilled big man who can play next to Pau Gasol or in place of him. Nick Young offers scoring punch and shot creation that was sorely needed. Shawne Williams has good size, can hopefully provide quality outside shooting, and has a strong competitive streak. Throw in former lottery picks Wes Johnson and Xavier Henry, both of whom add positional versatility and athleticism to a roster that is shifted closer to one you’d expect to play for Mike D’Antoni.

And, really, that’s a major key for this season. If there was one thing, beyond the injuries and resulting lack of cohesiveness, that plagued last year’s Lakers it was the lack of total buy in from the full roster of players combined with a lack of true fit between the roster and the coach. These two things went hand in hand, of course, but it can’t be overstated how the team and the coach never fully seemed to mesh and find a path that they could walk down, together, in the hope of building the success many pegged for them. The end of the season run to make the playoffs was great, but if you look at sets the team was running it didn’t resemble anything you’d really seen D’Antoni run for any extended stretch over the course of is career.

This year, that should be different. The roster assembled has more pieces that fit the style the coach would prefer to play. Stretch forwards flank big men who can play pick and roll, pick and pop, and provide straight post up games. There’s more than one ball handling point guard who can create shots for himself or others out of the pick and roll or when isolating. There are capable shooters at every position and with the right tweaking of personnel groupings combined with a relatively stable rotation, this roster has the chance to sport a more consistent offensive attack that can display diversity while still having an identity.

This doesn’t ease all concerns, though. D’Antoni still has to show a commitment to personnel groupings and not lose faith in players as easily as he did last season. We can talk about buy-in from players and pin some of the disgruntled-ness on the players just having poor attitudes or personal agendas, but some of that must also be attributed to the coach not establishing nor sticking to roles for his players and/or moving them in and out of the lineup as he searched for solutions. This season, that must change and considering that the year will start without Kobe in the lineup and Nash already dealing with nagging ailments, the head coach will need to have a steady hand in how he deals with players, communicate well, and follow through on what he wants the same way we expect the players to.

This isn’t just true on offense, but on defense as well. Adding Kurt Rambis to his staff was a nice move and through the preseason, we’re already seeing more organization on that side of the ball with an easily identifiable plan being executed (or at least trying to be executed) nightly. Considering some of the defensive issues this group of players have as individuals, a scheme that can become the foundation for how they play on that side is as important as ever. These players will need help when isolated on an island or when fighting through high screens and it will be up to the rest of the players on the floor to be there to show the needed support. If this isn’t happening nightly, there’s no way this team sniffs a defensive ranking that is in the middle of the pack — a goal that they will need to reach if they hope to advance to the post-season.

And, ultimately, that is the goal this season. While there are calls for this team to tank heading into a draft with potential superstars at the top of the lottery, the Lakers’ front office built this team to try and win as many games as possible. They’ve added better athletes at every position (except center where Kaman “replaced” Dwight Howard) which should help in creating more easy baskets in transition and in being able to make defensive rotations. They’ve also added shooting which should help in being able to spread the floor in a way that generates the points they’ll need in order to compensate for some of their defensive issues that can’t be solved simply because they have younger, fresher legs.

This is the balance this team will face this season; the balance they’ll need to get to tip in their favor. The Lakers, for all their name brand power (be it with the organization itself or their trio of stars at the top of the roster) are no longer the powerhouse team that they were projected to be just a year ago. Winning a championship may be a goal that Kobe and others inside the organization speak of, but the landscape of power in the West has changed, leaving the Lakers behind in the process. This year is more about finding ways to win more games than critics say they can, find growth in some of the individual players who may be part of the team’s future, and be as entertaining as possible while doing it.

Whether this ends up being enough for an organization (and a fan-base) that seems to always set its goals at the top of the mountain remains to be seen. But, ultimately, it will have to be. The ceiling for this team has been lowered dramatically from what it was last season (and in season’s past where they really were one of the elite rosters). This doesn’t mean they can’t surprise and be more competitive than many expect them to be — something that I, in fact, have predicted. But it does mean that we should all be prepared for a sizable variance in performance from what they can be when at the top of their game and what they could be should there be a repeat of the unfavorable luck that damaged their chances last year.

In a sense, these are uncharted waters for nearly every member of the team. The old guard are staring down the barrel at their basketball mortality, seeing if they can defy the odds and show onlookers that they can still, in fact, play at a level that resembles the ones they used to build their names. Meanwhile, the younger, new additions are looking to restore tarnished reputations by playing up to their respective skill levels and, ultimately, reestablish their values as contributors. The potential downside, of course, is that most (if not all) of these players can’t prove the naysayers wrong and the team ends up suffering in the process.

Which is very much a possibility this year. As is the opposite. This is part of what makes this year intriguing. Every season offers the chance for a roller coaster ride and this one will be no different. Here’s to being excited and not let down when we get to the end of the tracks.

Darius Soriano

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40 responses to 2013-14 Lakers Season Preview

  1. The KBros did their preview in Podcast form, and took the non-playoff option, saying, “It’s a talent league.” Darius OTOH predicted in the 5-on-5 that the team would make postseason. So, we have disagreement among pretty astute observers of the Laker scene. Time to play the games.

  2. hoping for a seismic shift.

  3. Unfortunately, I’m in agreement with the K-Brothers. After viewing the preseason games, I have a hard time visioning this squad making the ‘offs. There was a time when I was of the belief that we could possibly sneak in as an 8th Seed, but with Nash already suffering through injuries (sore Neck and Ankles) that would probably be looked upon as minor but for the fact that he’s pushing 40 yrs old, Pau looking and playing soft (on both ends of the floor), with rapidly deteriorating athleticism and of course, Kobe’s situation, I’m predicting us to end up in ‘The Andrew Wiggins Sweepstakes’. And truth be told, in regards to decline, whether due to injuries, age or mileage, I can’t envision the aforementioned three improving at all during the duration of this season (Kobe, coming off of, and as it pertains to an injury such as this, will probably look better next season than this season).

    My outlook for the Western Conference (Playoffs) -
    1. Spurs
    2. Clippers
    3. Rockets
    4. Thunder
    5. Warriors
    6. Grizzlies
    7. Timberwolves
    8. Mavericks

    I have us finishing at either 10th or 11th and with the team reminding me, on a nightly basis, of the ’88-’89 Knicks with the amount of 3 pointers they’ll probably attempt. Hoping that my prognosis is incorrect, but if not, maybe we can get lucky within the lottery.

  4. .. And reading news such as this (no matter how PRVP Black tries to paint it), just reinforces my opinion in regards to this years team –

    http://m.espn.go.com/nba/story?storyId=9895335

  5. Can Lakers sign Kobe to a new contract after the season starts tomorrow?

    If new contracts can’t be signed once the seasons starts, should we expect to hear Kobe has been signed for 4 more years tonite?

  6. Tra: Another good post. Of course this makes you a pessimist, a borderline fan, and an overall grump. Takes one to know one : )
    Treylake: Yes we can. Will we – no. Should we? Not yet, but sooner rather than later.
    trianglefan: Me too. Can you be more speciifc? : )
    LakerFanatic: Kobe after he comes back will be: High % from 3; High % from the FT line; More dimes than his historcial norm; lower average ppg, but still capable of the big game. This is under the premise that he comes back at 85%+ which I am hoping for but not yet stating as a given.
    rr: Dilusional? I need to start reading your posts more thoroughly. I only wish they were diliusional. I find your posts accurate to the point of depression at times, but hey the situation is what it is.

  7. Have to say I’m in the talent camp. Just don’t think there’s enough here. I see a lottery team, but a fun one where we have some underdog players to root for and, as always, some interesting storylines to keep us entertained.

  8. Darius is more of a breaking down film guy more than a prediction guy. He clearly doesn’t have enough practice.It’s hard to see how anyone who watches a lot of basketball can think this Lakers roster is making the playoffs. This is a second pick in the draft roster to seventh pick in the draft roster. But since it’s a lottery we have a chance for that first pick.

  9. And everyone let me in… There is more than the talent camp? What’s the other camp? Is it a coaching camp or a chemistry camp or a Santa clause camp?

  10. Robert-

    Look at the upside–maybe I am as wrong about the team as I was about Ramon Sessions.

  11. Looking for Kobe to he back by Thanksgiving. That means 16 games. Looking at schadule I see 7 and 9.

    That means Lakers need to go 38 and 28 last 66 to have a shot at playoffs and 45 wins.

    That is is very attainable in my opinion.

  12. I won’t join in the speculations.

    Let the games begin.

  13. Aaron is so generous with his opinions he is even right sometimes. The Lakers ain’t making the playoffs. If they win more than 32 games let’s call it what it is: a miracle.

    Got very sick of the word “tank” this off season. But never fear; they won’t need to tank to make the lottery. It’ll happen naturally.

  14. Really R? So this team is worse then the Kwame Brown Luke Walton team before Pau showed up?

    Really?

  15. The Kwame Brown Lakers had an in his prime Kobe Bryant. So they were are or better thuan this years lakers.

  16. Keno & R –

    They could be. Nash appears to be breaking down, and Gasol, while he’s reporting he feels great, could be hampered, if not sidelined for a noticeable portion of the season. Kobe’s return date is up in the air, and if they stumble out of the gate even to the tune of 2-6, this season could be functionally over from a sneak-into-the-playoffs perspective, which barring major surprises good or bad, is probably their ceiling.

    Conversely, if some combination of Williams/Young/Farmar/Meeks/Johnson/Henry suddenly put it together, the vets stay healthy and productive, and combined with the ill fortune of some of the other Western Conference teams (there’s always a surprise injury or slump), they become the unlikeliest 50-win team and snag the 5 or 6 seed.

    On one level, it sucks because we always want to see the Lakers contend and all this “if everything goes right, they could make the SECOND round!” talk is a little depressing, but it’s also a little exciting.

    It reminds me a bit of the 93-95 teams, where (and I’ve said this before) on any given night they could destroy the best team in the league by 20, then two nights later lose by 40 to the Bobcats (who didn’t exist then, but you know what I mean). Even if the winning record and possible contention doesn’t keep us watching this year, the “who’s going to go off (or lay an egg) tonight?” factor will.

    The real drama will start in January or so–if they’re way out of the playoff chase, do they shut down Kobe, Nash, and Gasol to try and, uh…what’s the word? Ah yes: Maximize their opportunity in the draft lottery. And what if they’re .500 and limping? Do they push to try and get into the playoffs? Promises to be interesting in any case.

  17. The 2007 team had a 27-year-old Odom, young Ronny Turiaf, and a 19-year-old Bynum playing 82 games before the knee injuries started. Walton was 26 and decent; Kwame, as bad as his hands were and as frustrating as he was, was a guy who could help you defend the paint. Brian Cook hit 40% of his 3s playing 16 minutes a game. They also had Farmar, Sasha, Mo Evans and VladRad. none of whom was particularly good but none of whom was totally useless. That team is remembered as the dreaded “Kwame/Smush Era”, but it was a decent collection of role players, and Odom was a pretty good starter.

    And that is before you get to 28-year-old Kobe. That team won 42 games.

    This team certainly might win that many, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

  18. @ Aaron really? So the Lakers are one of the worst 2 or 3 teams of the league, why your not sharing or inflicting your “wisdom” on a mayor media outlet is beyond me. On the Lakers, worst case scenario? Around 34 wins full of injuries, this team is not as bad as when the Lakers had Smush, Kwame and Luke as starters even w/o Kobe, if healthy, Kobe returns to some semblance of his past self if he do we all know the huge silverback gorilla he will have on his back and if we can get something meaningful out of Henry and Williams, along known comodities like Farmar, Blake,Hill and Jones we have a playoff team. Lots of variables i know but after last year it cant be worse health wise.

  19. I have mentioned the schedule a few times; here are the first 11, * = back-to-back.

    LAC
    AT GS*
    SA
    ATL
    AT DAL
    AT HOU
    AT NO*
    MIN
    NO
    AT DEN*
    MEM

    So, they play every West contender except OKC, and every second-tier team except Portland. The only interconference game is against Atlanta.

  20. I claim 4-7 through the first 11 games. Then 6-10 through 16 games.

  21. rr’s post at 9:27 pm hit the nail on the head. It would be easy for some to suggest this is a 2006/2007-like roster — the rebuilding angle is obvious, but the differences outweigh the similarities.

    Kobe was the league’s MVP those seasons — I don’t care that Nash won the trophy; that was more politically driven post-Eagle than representative of what happened on the floor. This year, we don’t know when Kobe will begin to play, nor can we expect anything close to what he delivered in his 20s. It’s unrealistic and unfair. Likewise, the talent surrounding Kobe now isn’t nearly as young or talented as those pre-championship rosters. The caliber of coach also isn’t close.

    I hated the dysfunction of last season — ridiculous expectations, coaching changes, Howard’s mere presence, so many injuries, Pau’s uncertain role, etc. For those reasons, I’m more optimistic that this year’s team will at least be more enjoyable to watch. But I am not expecting a playoff appearance.

  22. Funny we have the fans who want the Lakers to win and then the others that want us to lose and tank and get a top 3 pick….which will be really hard especially with 76ers, Celtics, and the Suns trying to see who can be the worse team…

    I asked my friend who is a Magic fan (another team I should have listed for candidates for a top 3 pick) and asked how you root for your team. If you want the team to tank are you actually watching the games hoping they lose each game? Just seems counterproductive to have interest in the season if you aren’t competing towards the ultimate goal.


    @Robert: I’m thinking Kobe’s efficiency will be a little better when he comes back and he will pick his spots more. I kinda think this injury will slow the game down more too which will lead to him not playing out of control. I’m thinking he will have a game similar to the flu game I think they were playing the Nuggets. I remember thinking he was really smooth scoring and didn’t force anything..everything was in the flow…granted they did get blown out but that was hardly Kobe’s fault…

  23. One thing no one has bothered to talk about…everyone is saying of the 19 back to back games Nash may need to sit…which he probably does but I think Gasol and even Kaman are going to have to have nights off…which means they need to get another long flexible body…

    ———-
    ESPN INSIDER FA AVAILABLE (9.4.13)
    The calendar has flipped to September and by now all of the significant free agent signings have already taken place. Still, there are a handful of unsigned FAs who could still have a place in the league next season.

    Here’s a look at some of the top names available, by position:
    Point Guard:

    Sebastian Telfair — Nine-year vet who, at 28, can provide solid depth at the position.
    Rodrigue Beaubois — Only 25 and very athletic, still waiting for game to come together.

    Shooting Guard:

    Richard Hamilton — 104th on NBA’s all-time scoring list, still only 35.
    Marquis Daniels — Might be the top defensive specialist available.
    DeShawn Stevenson — 3 and D, and that’s about it.
    Dahntay Jones — D could be attractive for a contender.

    Small Forward:

    Stephen Jackson — A proven clutch scorer, but a detriment in the locker room.

    Power Forward:

    James Johnson — Former first rounder still hasn’t carved out a role, but can help as a defender and rebounder.
    Tyrus Thomas — One-time lottery pick who had trouble seeing the floor in Charlotte. Only 27, will he find a taker?
    Lamar Odom — Troubled yet talented veteran who comes with major risks after recent reports of drug use.

    Center:

    Drew Gooden — About to turn 32, the veteran rebounder could have fresh legs after sitting most of last year in Milwaukee.
    Fab Melo — Boston gave up on him after one season. Memphis did the same after two weeks. Raw rim-protector still worth a flyer?

    —-
    I’d only take Tyrus Thomas, Stephen Jackson, and Deshawn Stevenson from this list but we need frontcourt depth…so I’d go with Tyrus if possible before he gets snagged. Definitely saw the effect Birdman had on the Heat….

    S/N: Not sure why we don’t get someone raw like a Fab Melo and just hire Kareem and make him his project and then see what happens in 3-4 years…

  24. What a depressing thread, I mean, it may all be true… But, the main post by Darius was a good read.

  25. Think we might be interested in Kendall Marshall ? Lots of chatter about Shannon Brown, but would rather see the Lakers go the youthful route ala Xavier, Elias, et al…not thrilled to see Shawne Williams make the team…a retread IMO.

  26. Doom and gloom maybe premature. Lakers can make the playoffs if …. Jordan Farmar plays elite.
    Farmar has potential to be among the best point guards in the league. Maybe this is Taft HS bath water, but if you saw Farmar in HS oh boy.

    Jordan believes he was done wrong by Phil Jackson, when Lakers made ill-advised decision to re-sign DFish and attempt three peat with his royal slowness at PG. Farmar killed DFish every meaningful stat per min over the championship years — yet 11 ring Phil kept playing DFish.

    Lakers would have had better 3-three peat chance putting smoked Fish in the broadcast booth and going with Farmar, Shannon Brown and Sasha. The young ones could have defended the opposing PG’s something DFish couldn’t do, plus they could take ball to the basket something DFish couldn’t do. Mitch K believed in Farmar, he drafted him, but Phil and Kobe wanted Fisher.

    Now Farmar has his chance to demonstrate his worth. Nash is a non-entity and a wasted signing. Nash was old and used up. Best news about Nash is he can be bought out and salary spread over 3 years providing more cap room.

  27. Oh no. A negative DFish comment.

  28. Treylake,
    One think we do not need is another very young player who needs minutes to develop. We have lots of those. I think there is a possibility we bring in Shannon Brown after everyone else passes on him, but I hope it is Meeks who goes in some way.

    The last several years – including Phil Jackson’s last coaching year – have been pipe dreams. Now we need to start the change. I believe that is exactly what this year is. In it’s own way, that excites me. We are opening a new door. Let’s go Lakers!

  29. Trey

    Completely agree. Lakers can be better at PG then in past 8 years. Start Farmar 30 and Nash 18. Also be better at SF as Metta was throwing bricks. Just need Kobe back and they will be ok.

  30. Fanatic–

    There are two ways to look at that:

    1. If the optimists are right, and the team goes 45-37, playing exciting ball, then that might help with FA recruitment. One thing everybody always forgets about the Club Ced teams was that the team Shaq actually signed with in 1996 had gone 53-29 the year before. The team didn’t win it all until Kobe matured, the FO hired Phil, and the roster was restructured, but actually getting Shaq in the first place was tied to that team having some projectable talent on hand–we saw that again, from the other side, when Howard left this past summer.
    2. But, since the Lakers have so few draft picks, and this draft is supposedly loaded, it might be better long-term for the team to go 27-55, get a pick in Top 6, and trade Pau for another pick or two, if they can.

    One reason that analysts are so down on the Lakers is that they believe that the team is set up to win about 35 games, which means no playoffs, no excitement–and probably a pick in 10-13 range.

    And, of course, players are out there competing, and want to win, and as fans, emotionally, we want to see the team win. This is yet another reason that however this year goes, it will be a very different experience than what we are used to.

  31. 50 wins. And each one has to be grinded out like a root canal.

    I can’t tell you how exactly but the Lakers are meant to be a different team come mid-season. All I am observing are the movement around the league. The bad teams want to be worse, the good teams are getting players on the cheap. This allows for opportunities for buyers to get better without having to spend so much. In LA, we’re always buying.

    I promised Darius I will not speculate trades, or specifics that lead to it. All I can tell you, before tipoff is that the Lakers are primed and positioned to make deals. Small ones, big ones, both. Don’t count on this roster looking the same when the All-Star Break hits.

    In the meantime, 50 wins. Hmmm. Delusional quite.

    Jordan Farmar has shown he can be a very good point guard. Not elite, but very good. He has the footspeed to play D in the PG position, something we’ve never had in a looooong time.

    Xavier Henry has athleticism that we’ve never had since Shannon Brown. It might look like we’re gonna have both real soon.

    Wes Johnson and Jordan Hill, both reclamation projects themselves are players we’ve never had since Rick Fox and Robert Horry were part of the Lakers. Man that was a long time ago.

    Overall, we will be winning more than expected. I’m in the 1% of the people who believe so.

  32. Naysayers I think keep looking at the decline of the Lakers stars and the loss of Dwight. Fact is the Lakers have drastically improved their overall team. In the playoffs their lack of starting strength will force them to an early exit. But in the the regular season where depth matters and a number of teams are tanking so hard they are gimme games the Lakers are going rack up enough wins to get to the playoffs.

  33. The Lakers will be fine. I think we will actually beat the clippers tonight and eventually end up being the 7th seed. We need to make the playoffs. Everyone is talking about the draft, please stop. The best chance of us getting anyone note worthy as a free agent is to make the playoffs. We need to show to the rest of the league that we are decent and are 1-2 player away from the championship. It will help us attract free agents. Lets be optimistic, we have not even lost a game yet.

  34. I find it interesting that the main problem, the biggest problem, was not mentioned by anyone. Which in my humble opinion is Ownership. While history tells us that teammates can win titles while bickering, I can’t recall an example of a major league franchise winning it all in spite of ownership’s internal conflicts.

    In order to build (or rebuild) something positive, a solid foundation is needed, in this case, that’s an ownership which can communicate and make decisions which they believe is best for the organization. Everything else is secondary…at best.

    Thus based on what I’ve heard & read (as well as what I haven’t heard or read) pertaining to this new Laker ownership, this season doesn’t look promising :-( .

  35. I’m with Warren. I’m optimistic.

  36. this team is going to be a little bit worse than the sacramento kings were last year. a fast-paced team that doesn’t rebound in a slightly tougher conference. 25 wins.

  37. Sid,

    That is a legit point, but doing that , or at least doing it a lot, seems to cause tension at times around the Laker interwebs, here and elsewhere. Also, I think the feeling about the Jim Buss/Mike D’Antoni regime in a lot of quarters is, “Give it more time.”

    I think for the part of the fanbase that is still backing him, MDA’s timeline could be pretty much this year, depending on how things break. There has been a lot of talk among people who are optimistic about the team about how the new guys fit what MDA wants to do, etc. and he has a full training camp, his own assistants, Rambis to help with D etc. While not many people are talking about a specific number of wins, I think those people do expect to see an exciting, fast-paced, engaging, competitive team.

    As to Jim Buss, I think people will give him two years, but I think that there is an expectation for some that the team will be in a lot better shape two FA cycles from now. If it isn’t, I think that there will be much more media and fanbase focus on ownership at that time.

    Note: I am not really thinking of anyone here in posting this; these are general observations.

  38. The last several years – including Phil Jackson’s last coaching year – have been pipe dreams.

    The 2011 team won 57 games, lost to the eventual champions. and after they got Blake and Barnes, Jerry Buss himself said that he thought it was the best team that the organization had put together in several years. The 2012 team was never a legit contender, and I was scolded here for saying that before the season started. The 2013 team was widely considered to be one of the best teams in the NBA by various kinds of observers, both inside the game and out.

  39. BigCitySid raises a really good point. Unless there’s a seismic shift, this will be a festering problem. But it will be interesting to see what leverage Kobe can exert when his contract is discussed. Jim Buss has already announced that kobe’s a laker for life (not sure why that’s such a huge concern to anyone besides Jim Buss at this particular time). And those kind of statements are hardly complete. How Kobe’s contract is resolved will probably play a bigger role than anything else this season. I don’t think kobe’s going to stick around unless he really feels like there’s a chance for another championship, and the status quo is not going to work. Kobe will have a real interest in the next laker coach and, indirectly, the current state of affairs between phil, Jeannie and Jim Buss.

  40. The 2012 team was never a legit contender, and I was scolded here for saying that before the season started.

    ———————

    Lol wow.