Wednesday Storylines

Darius Soriano —  December 4, 2013

The Lakers are two days into their four day break from game action and the major story of the off period is injuries. Jordan Farmar is set to miss a month due to a torn hamstring. Meanwhile Jordan Hill and Pau Gasol are both nursing sprained ankles, though will play through the pain. Those three represent a major chunk of the Lakers’ production and having them out or at less than their most effective selves will hurt the team’s chances on any given night, irrespective of opponent.

On a somewhat brighter note, both Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant practiced on Tuesday, though with different results in their respective returns. Kobe Bryant, by all accounts looked like Kobe. Mike D’Antoni said he “looked good” while Pau said Kobe was sharp and guessed that #24 had been doing a lot of work on his own to try and get back to game form. There were even reports of a steal and dunk in the scrimmage portion of the workout where Kobe raced up coourt and threw down a left hander.

Nash, on the other hand, was not up to the same standard as his backcourt partner. The Canadian was only a partial participant in the practice session and didn’t really scrimmage — at least not at the same level as Kobe. After the workout Nash didn’t entirely rule out playing on Friday, but did call it unlikely. Kobe, didn’t speak to the press about his status, but the hope remains he could make his debut against the Kings in three days.


Mike D’Antoni called Kobe’s return to practice today a “big step forward”. Dave McMenamin has the story.

McMenamin also writes that with Kobe and Nash getting closer and the Lakers sitting with an even 9-9 record, the Lakers get to restart their season with reinforcements on the way.

Speaking of Kobe getting closer, Kevin Ding discusses the superstar guard’s unending drive to evolve and, thus, improve.

On the flip-side, Ding also wrote on Pau Gasol’s twisted path from championship big man to a player who likely doesn’t have a future in Los Angeles.

Jordan Farmar may be out for a while, but remains optimistic about his recovery.

For Steve Nash, it’s a bit more complicated, as Eric Pincus reports. While he was encouraged by his return to practice, anytime you hear a player say he can’t have an urgency while adding “”If I race to come back … and it’s not quite right, I could be out forever or for months”, it’s not such a good thing.

Getting back to Kobe, this is a couple of weeks old, but one hoops fan (and not necessarily a Kobe one) writes how not having Kobe around made him realize how much he took him for granted.


Where the Lakers’ mixture of players hurting and healing leaves the rest of the team is pretty much the same place that fans are — guessing.

The Lakers have overachieved to this point, but have done so mostly on the strength of different performers raising their games from night to night. An Xavier Henry career high is followed by one from Wes Johnson. Jodie Meeks is hot one night and Steve Blake the next. Hill, Farmar, Gasol, or Nick Young bring their ‘A’ game and suddenly the Lakers are a .500 team looking to make some noise. But as the injuries pile up, one has to wonder how much more stepping up guys can do.

Getting a guy back who is used to putting his mates on his shoulders would certainly help, or at least that is the hope…


Darius Soriano

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  1. Injuries and/or nursing players minutes due to previous injuries and/or age are major factors in the NBA. Very few teams, if any, have been unaffected by one or more of these issues. Best remedy: great training staff, educated & dedicated younger players, balanced payroll, and a deep bench. Most, but not all, of these issues can be traced back to one area of a franchise, their ownership’s way of doing business.

    My fantasy thought of the day: Imagine a team which starts talented young players and brings their talented but aging veterans off the bench?


  2. BigCitySid,
    There are alot of teams out in the the Leastern Conf that meet your fantasy (Orl, Sixers, etc)
    That isn’t a recipe for success.

    Kevin Ding’s piece on Pau was long overdue


  3. BigCity,
    Some on this board suggest that we´re in full developmental mode, & I tend to agree to an extent.
    So, your notions of:
    `Best remedy: great training staff, educated & dedicated younger players, balanced payroll, and a deep bench.´
    -seem to be in motion, at least partially. Wouldn´t you agree?
    How´s Dave Murphy doing? Haven´t heard from him in a while. Is he writing his second novel? 😉
    The K.Ding article on The Mamba is very good.


  4. Jay A
    Another great article by K Ding. Read the comment section for some fun times. The loss of Farmar for a month is going to be huge…hopefully Kobe coming back will be able to give the team the edge they need to keep winning games until Jordan comes back to lead the second team. I wonder who’s going to play pg on the second squad now. More Xavier Henry?


  5. From Dave McMenamin –

    The Lakers’ most accomplished facilitator, Nash, scrimmaged for only about 10 minutes with the second unit before being pulled off the court at the behest of Lakers trainer Gary Vitti.

    I’ll reiterate, or one could say, ask this again – How can anyone expect Nash to rehab and successfully come back – in 3 to 4 weeks, mind you – from an injury that he couldn’t recover from in the 5 months that he had off leading up to the start of training camp this season?

    I may be wrong, but unfortunately, when it’s all said and done, I believe that the 27 mil that the Lakers invested in Nash will be the worst money that they’ve ever invested in a player. Simply because, due to injuries, he couldn’t contribute anything to the organization in those 3 years.


  6. Tra, Hindsight is great, but most of us were enthusiastic about the Lakers finally getting a ‘top drawer’ PG. The fact that it probably won’t work out doesn’t retroactively change our opinion – just as failing to get Chris Paul because the ‘commish’ voided the trade shouldn’t impact our view of the front office.


  7. Lakers choose to pursue Nash instead of keeping Ramon Sessions, not great, but capable, younger, and healthy.


  8. Craig W.,

    Hindsight has nothing to do with it. As a matter of fact, I was 1 of the individuals who was excited about the acquisition of Nash. That’s why words such as ‘unfortunately’ and ‘due to injuries’ are reflected within the post. Therefore, in no way, shape or form am I blaming Jim Buss or Mitch. A Front Office who, I understand, you have an affection for.

    With that being said, it doesn’t take away from my point that Nash has not contributed anything of substance on the floor as of yet and it’s beginning to look more and more likely that this is an injury that he will not be able to recover from at this point of his career. Maybe you feel differently.

    That’s why, IMO – and since I firmly believe that this will be his last year in the league – his contract will end up being, arguably, the worst in the history of the franchise.


  9. BigCitySid,

    Again, Sessions did not prove himself to be consistent and fell off big in the playoffs before his moving on. We were in win now, got the pairing of Dwight and Nash. The FO did amazing work. It just didn’t work out.



  10. I read Ding’s piece on Pau a couple of days ago. While it saddened me, as Pau has been a personal favorite for many reasons, I’ve thought that he was done as a Laker following the 2011 season, at least emotionally and mentally. After 2012, I added done physically to the list. By done I mean done as a borderline elite player or even a truly good player in the league. I thought perhaps if he would take a major pay cut, to say $5-6 million a year, he would be great to have on the team. I suspect that is impossible for Pau to accept, but I just don’t know how he makes much more than that now. I guess anything is possible. Perhaps it is time for Pau to ride off into the sunset and enjoy life in Barcelona.


  11. Sessions stunk under Brown but would excel under MD.

    So was Nash money worse then the $36 million Walton money.


  12. Sessions could not handle the pressure is as simple as that. If he didnt look like he was scared out of his mind during those playoffs he would be a Laker right now, he had his shot and blew the audition. He is right at home playing on a crap team like the Bobcats.


  13. A shame about Sessions because when the rumors started, i really wanted him on the team and i dont buy the ” its Mike Brown’s fault” thing because Mo Williams was an All Star in Cleveland and he and Sessions are the same kind of players and Sessions avg double figures under Brown both in Cleveland and LA. His freezing in the playoff thing was what make the Lakers not really wanting to keep him.


  14. Fern,

    To be fair, Sessions also had the ball taken out of his hands. He started out the primary ball handler when he first arrived. Then they tried to turn him into Derek Fisher-lite. They had him bring the ball across the timeline, pass it off, and go stand in the corner. At that point he became useless.

    And I’m not sure if you have noticed, but the Lakers aren’t much better than Charlotte. If fact, due to the weakness of the East the Cats have a better chance at the playoffs than the Lakers do.


  15. So was Nash money worse then the $36 million Walton money.

    Since I’m predicting that this will be Nash’s last year in the Association and standing by my preseason prediction that, unfortunately, the Lakers will not make the playoffs, I would say yes, the Nash contract will end up being worse. You’re correct with your insinuation that Bill’s little boy’s contract was bad, but if my memory serves correct, he played in several playoff games and acquired a couple of rings during the duration of that second contract that he signed after the 07 season. Which means that he contributed something.


  16. T. Rogers, if im not mistaken and remember correctly he shoot like 17% from 3 point range, he was in that corner to hit that 3 and failed miserabily at it.Making the playoffs in the East is not a great achievement every year there are teams left out of the West playoffs that would go to the Conference Finals at least if they were on the East The horrible basketball being played in the East is beyond shameful i would not a pay a cent to see the garbage played there.


  17. A Front Office who, I understand, you have an affection for.


    I backed the Nash deal at the time and have owned that many times. Nash was seemingly the right guy to be the bridge between Howard and Kobe, and to help the team play well enough such that Howard would stay. Had those things occurred, Nash’s deal would have been worth it even if he had only given the team one good season. It didn’t happen, but I don’t blame the FO for the move. Trading four picks for a 38-year-old was a big gamble, and I wish that they had kept another first-rounder (although my understanding is that the 2015 pick is Top 5-protected), but I can see why the FO pulled the trigger. It just didn’t work out, for a variety of reasons.

    There were/are a few guys here who opposed the deal at the time, and they have reminded us of that.


  18. What is this? A FO debate and I am not even involved in the thread? I will fix that : )
    Nash: I was in favor at the time, however I also said 3 years was too long. It turned out to be way too long. Also the premise behind getting Nash was that he was going to play for 3 years with Kobe and Dwight, so losing Dwight kinda messes that up.
    Dwight: Getting him was a great deal. Losing him was not. You can’t put that all on DH. If he was as bad as everyone says he is (I have read a lot of good riddance posts on this board), then he was not too exciting of a pick up then was he? So maybe the Paul, KB, DH triad would have produced nothing?
    FO: So they made the Paul deal which would have probably yielded DH. It got the VETO. So what are we saying that DH would have been a different guy if the Paul trade had been allowed? Yes – the FO critics must acknowledge the VETO (and in my case – I have). However the FO supporters can’t have it both ways. They seem to be claiming that the VETO nullified a Laker Dynasty, however the loss of DH was no big deal. you can’t have it both ways. The bottom line is that the FO’s largest accomplishment was nullified and many of their other actions have been unsuccessful. The Nash deal among them. Without DH – there was no need for Nash – healthy or not.
    Think about this, we have dealt away a lot of players and picks, and we let others walk, and what do we currently have to show for it; An injured Nash and Jordan Hill? And for this we parted with – I won’t list it all out, because it is depressing. But to just use one example – I think we would trade Hill and Nash for Bynum back in a heartbeat as sad as that is. If we get our draft picks back, maybe Barnes, Sessions, and a pre-issue Odom, then we are really talking. Yes – I know hindsight is 20/20. However calling how we got here “genius” is just wrong. Calling it all “bad luck” is also wrong. And yes blaming “all” of it on the FO is equally wrong. However the last 3 years have hardly been the Laker’s finest hours in that department.


  19. Fern,

    Shooting was never his strong suit. Everyone knew that going in. Sessions best trait as a player was his quickness and ability to get into the lane. I remember how many of us complained that the Lakers offense that year was basically post up and kick out. Blake and Fisher were too slow to take anyone off the dribble. The Lakers shooters were terrible so teams just packed the paint. Sessions was brought in to help that by getting in the lane and forcing teams to scramble and open up space for Gasol and Bynum. And in the beginning he actually did that.

    But forcing him to stand in the corner and shoot was asking him to play to his weaknesses instead of his strengths. It was all downhill from there. And he wasn’t the reason the team lost to OKC.


  20. Sessions: Not that I was ever a huge RS fan, however this was another trade that was supposedly a phenomenal deal at the time. And perhaps it was. However where is it now? Yes – perhaps it was Mike Brown’s fault that Sessions was not utilized properly. And how did Mike Brown get here?
    FO genius is putting all the decisions together simultaneously and then having some luck thrown in to finish the complete picture. Sessions is just another example of where we did some things right, but not all of them, and in the end – we were left with nothing.


  21. Of course he wasnt the only reason we lost that series but Sessions shoot over 40% from 3 point range that season and the one before so yeah he could shoot the three so i have no problem with him being on the corner thata a tactic utilized by teams all over the NBA if he didnt shoot such a putrid horrible % he would still be a Laker and naybe just maybe change that Series outcome , he got demolished and exposed by Westbrook on both ends of the floor, the FO made a decision with the support of Jerry Buss mind you and it didnt worked out, that happens, Mike Brown hiring was supported by Dr Buss too, and all this stuff the, Sessions trade, the Nash signing is a direct consequense of Stern intervening on the CP trade and meddling on Lakers business. Since this FO is so clueless unlike some of you i woud love to know what would had been your master plan dealing with that.


  22. Fern: Yes – the VETO creamed us. And yes Jerry Buss’ last couple years may not have been his strongest. Just like Phil’s last year was not his strongest. However Phil and Jerry Buss had long successful careers. The best ever at their jobs as was Jerry West. The performance of Jerry Buss in his last years or Phil’s performance in 2011 has nothing to do with the performance of their successors. And by the way – I liked our post Veto master plan. We just did execute on it. Letting DH walk out the door was not part of the plan. And again for those glad he walked – then the Laker Dynasty that was nullified by the VETO was not real, because Howard was not real.
    Fern – You are awesome because you defend all things Lakers – all the time. So at least we agree on Kobe !


  23. About the CP, KB and DH situation i think Dwight would not had bolted, the veto was a attempt to destroy the Lakers for the forseabable future by a couple of owners that ironicaly have fell flat on their faces triying to get the prize FAs they tought they could get by taking the Lakers down. Add the illness and death of Dr Buss and there is going to be missteps and confusion along the way. But all things considered whatever we make the playoffs or not i think this organization is starting to move in the right direction.


  24. The Laker front office is neither ‘clueless’ nor are they geniuses. They have been a good, competent front office for a top tier NBA franchise. Everyone, including the Spurs, makes mistakes. With the CBA situation the Lakers evolved a plan to work with replenishing talent to support superstars. The CBA conditions changed – specifically targeting teams like the Lakers – and every club had to rethink how they would approach building a club (this was after Miami made their moves). Nobody has gotten it right and Miami has remained on top during this time. Some clubs are learning how to deal with this new environment and look better going forward, but they are not all doing it the same way. IMO, the Lakers are one of the clubs that gets it and would be better off except for the Stern Veto. Incidentally, better off does not mean champions.

    In retrospect, the Steve Nash trade was not a good one for us – period. Dwight Howard – IMO – is the wrong personality for a city like Los Angeles, with all its pressure. These trades were made by the front office – and we hailed them at the time – and they both turned out badly. Hold the front office responsible, but I wouldn’t call them a bad front office because of them.

    Trading picks for talent is a long time successful Laker technique, but is less valuable under the current CBA. However, tanking so we can get in line to maybe get a high draft pick that just might be more than a journeyman doesn’t seem like a real good solution to me either. The way forward is a blend of approaches and is not likely to happen over one season.


  25. Excellent points Craig, the Heat will start feeling the “heat”(no pun intended) of this new landscape soon enough. On the Lakers, since the VETO, they been triying to make bold agressive moves that did not work out, i cant blame them for that, about Nash, every single one of us and specially the FO believed that even a diminished Nash would be better than Fish and Sessions i tought we might get 1 or 2 good seasons out of him nobody on his right mind would had predicted that his skills and health would erode so dramatically so fast. About Dwight, well he is not cut out to be the franchise and the realization that the only thing that count here is winning and the VETO didnt allowed to have a second young elite player besides him, funny that he went to Houston to be second banana to Harden thats all he will ever be his whole career. His departure pave the way for the building blocks we have now so it was a good thing in my opinion. I think the FO needs to be patient, im not really exited about next batch of FAs next summer besides Lebron who will never come to LA what we have? A 30 y/o Melo? Wade? Bosh? Nowinsky? Pau? Give me a break, i believe we need to keep most of the team we have now and draft wisely now that we have a 1st rounder. And buy our time until 2015. Hey at least were not the Nets that dont have a 1st rounder until 2019, now thats truly sucks.


  26. i’m kinda over hearing about how different things will be under the new CBA. while player movement will be more restricted, the fact is that player’s salaries are just going to come down. the players have no choice because the CBA they signed agrees to the owners collusion to keep the salaries down. 20 million dollar men will become 10 million dollar men. if they ask why they have to take less, the answer is easy, “the CBA”.

    there are going to be plenty of good players for cheap, even very good players. the true stars and a few pretenders will get big contracts and then they will stay where they are unless they want to take a little less. players who currently make 5-8 million a year(or players of that caliber) will be making 1-3 million very soon. 15 million dollar men will be 7 or 8 million dollar men and so on.

    really, nothing has changed except the salaries have been cut. this is the adjustment period. in the next few years, players will adjust their expectations. possibly some talent may choose baseball or football, but overall, everything remains the same, other than the profit margin. Kobe’s contract is likely to be one of the last of it’s kind. Lebron can probably get another huge contract, but there aren’t many others.


  27. No Kobe Friday .


  28. Nobody has gotten it right

    What exactly does this statement mean?


  29. rr,
    In context, “Nobody has gotten it right” means exactly what it said. The new CBA created a new landscape for everyone and all clubs had to readjust their thinking. Nobody had a good map as to how to proceed. mud is correct when he/she says we are in the middle of a rather radical salary change. When finished, some of the old techniques may very well work, but they may not in this interim period.

    IMO — fans find it harder to adjust than do the good GMs and that is one reason for all the frustration with mistakes being made and risks being taken. When combined with a fan-base that expects ‘championship or bust’ there will inevitably be issues.


  30. The two biggest mistakes once Dwight signed was keeping Pau and acquiring Nash. How much better would Lakers be with. $27 million in younger players if they thought ahead last year .


  31. Nobody has gotten it right

    San Antonio? Indiana? Portland? Houston? The Clippers? Several teams have developed/improved high-level teams since the advent of the new CBA.

    What are the “old techniques” that are no longer applicable?


  32. Signing Nash was a bad move. Said so at the time. Now saying medical retirement eliminating Nash’s salary from next season’s salary cap would be his best contribution to Lakers. FO is stupid if Nash plays 10 games this season preventing them from getting his salary medically exempted from the cap next year. Nash was a great player, his time has past. Lakers need to move forward determining players who may be part of the next championship core. Assessing Xavier Henry’s potential is more critical to Lakers championship aspirations than Nash playing.

    D12 isn’t the brightest bulb but he was smart enough to know he was better off tying his fate to younger players like James Harden and Chandler Parsons than old players Kobe and Nash.


  33. Craig,

    You missed mud’s point, I think. Quoting now:

    “really, nothing has changed except the salaries have been cut.”


    Basically, the new CBA was designed to:

    1. Get money out of the players’ pockets and into the owners’ pockets.
    2. Appease angry small-market fans and more importantly, owners, like Dan Gilbert.

    2 is why The Paul Veto was such a conflict of interest.

    At the moment, both NY teams are a mess, and the Lakers have a lot of problems. OTOH, OKC lost a big star because their owners did not want to pay the tax or pay Kendrick Perkins to go away.

    I think the new CBA will mean a great reduction in the NBA’s middle class. There will still of course be max and near-max guys. But there will be fewer guys making 4-8M IMO. One can also argue that draft picks will be a bit more important, and that argument will gain a lot of momentum if Brooklyn, New York and the Lakers all stay down, and if Boston gets back on top. The tax penalties will reduce massive payrolls, but that may actually hurt small-market teams more in the long run–like OKC.

    But the draft has always been a huge deal in team construction, and winning in the NBA will always be about getting elite talent and then supporting it well. The CBA does not really complicate that picture.


  34. Player salaries established before the new CBA, including those renegotiated since, were somewhat predicated on what the player had been making. Players getting their first raise since the new CBA and the role players will all be more impacted by the new CBA. Since there are still quite a number of established players with high salaries, there is a transition period until they all retire or fall in line with the new CBA. That is the definition of transition period. During this time the draft may be overly important. However, after this period the importance of the draft will probably drop back to its previous level of importance.

    This doesn’t mean the draft isn’t important, just that it is one of a number of options a club will use to build their teams.


  35. And with all the ‘would haves” and “should haves” even with the old Phoenician making us reminisce fondly about Luke W (talk about depressing!), we still have a GREAT TEAM to celebrate and watch. So here is to whatever the FO did right!



  36. FO bashing? Ok then.

    Regardless of contracts offered (36M to Luke was too much but he was coming off a really good season and had his career derailed with injuries; 27M to Nash was just about right if you looked at his last season in Phoenix) the worst mistake the FO made was selecting Mike Brown as a head coach. The right man for the job, who was actually available, was Rick Adelman. I think of him as one of the phenomenal coaches of the past two decades and one that could get us wins despite of the roster’s shortcomings. One may say that he was getting old and we needed a younger coach to start preparing for the future. I say that Adelman was the perfect coach for the final years of Kobe’s career with the Lakers… And the Mike Brown hiring is all on Jim Buss if I recall correctly.