Week At A Glance

Andre Khatchaturian —  December 15, 2013

For over a month, the Lakers built an identity without Kobe. They finally had it figured out it seemed like, as they were 10-9 and had momentum.

The identity of the Lakers was forced to change once Kobe came back this week, though. The Lakers struggled – losing their first three games with Kobe in the lineup before finally winning last night in Charlotte.

It’s important to note that Kobe has not played with many of the new guys on the Lakers squad like Nick Young, Shawne Williams, Wesley Johnson, and Xavier Henry. Kobe didn’t have training camp with these guys and as a result, there may be a little bit of rust.

Kobe is averaging 65 touches per game. The league leader, John Wall, is averaging just over 100. One would think Kobe would be closer to that based on his history of taking control of a game. However, we haven’t seen that Kobe yet.

We’ve seen a combination of facilitator Kobe (13 assists in loss to Thunder), rusty Kobe (6.3 turnovers per game), and clutch Kobe (huge shot and free throws in fourth quarter in win at Charlotte).

But we haven’t seen dominant Kobe. It’s as if the Lakers have been trying to maintain their identity as a balanced scoring team with Kobe in the mix. This is a very new concept for Kobe and as a result, the chemistry just hasn’t been there yet and it will take time to develop.

For the next 20 games, expect the Lakers to be just as up and down as they were in the first 20. They’re going to be searching for an identity yet again and I have a hunch that we’re going to be seeing a more Kobe centric offense as the season progresses. The Lakers simply can’t win with Kobe getting only 65 touches per game. Kobe won’t allow it either. He’s an alpha male and he hates losing.

Finally, now is the time to rant on D’Antoni’s obsession with recency bias. His coaching decisions have been incredibly interesting this past season. One player has a great quarter? Oh, let’s start him. One player has a lousy stretch of six minutes of play? DNP. Coach’s decision.

Take Robert Sacre for instance. After a few solid efforts off the bench, all of a sudden he was in the starting lineup. However, after a poor nine minute effort in Sunday’s game. He was benched at home against the Suns.

I understand that the team is trying to develop an identity by trying out different lineup combinations. But how is a team supposed to develop continuity when there is constant change in the lineup.

We’ve seen the same thing happen with Jordan Hill and Jordan Farmar (when he was healthy). Their playing time would get significantly cut when they had a bad game and vice versa when they had a great game. These are two players that should be starting every game. The numbers show they have been two of the most effective Lakers this season. They should not having their playing time fluctuate so drastically.

We even saw it last year with the benching of Pau Gasol.

With Kobe back in the lineup, at least we’ll have one constant – Kobe will get his playing time and his touches.

The Lakers have another tough week ahead of them. Their road swing continues as they play Atlanta and Memphis back to back. Then they return home for a tilt against Minnesota before heading to the Bay to play Golden State.

It’ll be interesting to see if we see more of “Dominant Kobe” this week especially after his great play in the fourth quarter at Charlotte. We may have to if the Lakers are going to go above .500 again.

 

Andre Khatchaturian

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59 responses to Week At A Glance

  1. Agreed on the recency bias. As much as we used to be frustrated with Phil for his stoic insistence on sticking with his rotations every game even when there were clear matchup problems or inconsistent individual production, it helped the players establish a sense of rhythm throughout the season.

    Like Andre points out, it’s hard not to be frustrated when you have your playing time fluctuate from 30-min starter to DNP-CD’s in a matter of one to two games. At this juncture when more than a quarter of the season’s over, D’Antoni needs to really solidify one rotation and stick with it.

  2. It is easy for fans to get frustrated about practically anything – why isn’t so-and-so getting more minutes, he is so hot – why is the coach changing things up so much, the players can’t get into any rhythm.

    I think we all need to remember exactly what this season is about and what the front office wants to see. Yeah, we need to win, but the main objective is to see exactly who is going to be worth extending as a role player next year and who’s stock is rising so fast they might be fodder to get a real star in here in a trade this year.

    I actually like the team this year. I enjoy watching them play much more than the disaster that we watched last year. Even when we were winning with Kobe, there was an undercurrent of instability fomented – IMO – by Dwight Howard, with his indecisiveness and thin skin.

    I do not, however, have any illusions about why some players may be getting minutes. Sure, they help us win, but they are also showing what their strengths are. We then can analyze them and determine if they fit long term into our future, or if they are good trade bait. This club is definitely rebuilding.

  3. Kobe: Just a pleasure to watch this guy. Last night’s game was another major milestone. He was clearly the MVP of a winning effort and made the winning free throws. In the overall scheme of Kobe’s career, not a unique game, but it was the first one of these in his comeback. Hopefully it will be the first of many.

    Pau: I will continue to state that it is probably not a good idea to trade him at this point. If we can fleece someone – then fine, but no bad contracts, and I do not see how we move him without receiving back unwanted baggage. Let him roll off our books and see what he wants in the off season (we should not offer much) after seeing how he does. This is not like DH, where the contract was like a placeholder of value. That only applies when you are over the cap. When you are trying to get under the cap, which we are, then letting guys walk is fine, especially if they have little trade value.
    In fact – at this point – I do not want us to really make any moves other than signing guys at minimum and things like that.

  4. Phil’s concrete rotation entrenched DFish to the team’s detriment. During the last 2 years of the PJ reign, Jordan Farmar statistically and visibly out performed DFish, yet no minutes or starting adjustments were made.

    DFish was getting blown by on defense, couldn’t finish at the basket, and was inconsistent from distance.

  5. Treylake, Farmar wasn’t even on the roster for 2010-11, which was Phil’s last year with us. And IIRC, Fisher’s game meshed better with our starting unit which predominantly ran the triangle – he could space the floor with minimal on-ball usage.

    Farmar, on the other hand, was a good fit for the reserves, with his energy and activity leading the (albeit much reduced) bench mob during those latter years.

    As for how many minutes each should be allotted at the position, that’s the thing that could be debated in more depth. But the fact of the matter is, Phil’s rotation helped entrench the identities of the individual players on the team, and establish consistent roles and expectations.

  6. To me, the biggest adjustment must be made on the defensive side. Last night, against the Charlotte whatevers, we were switching on every screen, throughout the 3rd and 4th period, which sometimes left the inside players on an island against a a point guard.

    While I agree that when we have three out of Kobe, Meeks, Young, Henry and Johnson playing 1 through 3, switching among them is the most obvious thing to do. They’re all long enough to guard a taller wing player if needed to and that will help the team over the course of the game. But we cannot have such switch with Hill, Gasol or Sacre. Worst than having them being beat off the dribble is surrendering offensive rebounds to perfectly contested jump shots. Remember that when we were winning by one and needed a defensive stop to secure the win, there was a switch and Gasol ended up contesting the shot outside the key, which was missed and Kobe+(Young?) couldn’t stop Al Jefferson from getting the board. Maybe a younger Kobe would’ve leapt enough to grab it, but we can’t expect this to happen anymore.

    The bigs need to edge and recover to their man or we can actually double-team and increase the pace of the game. Either solution is fine, but what we did yesterday isn’t fine at all.

    Kobe seems to be shaking off some rust, but it’s clear that the explosiveness is gone and he’s now a different player. Yes, he had 7 TO’s but 3 of them were Hill and Gasol’s fault, who didn’t move towards the ball. He can be a 24-7-7 with over 50%EFF once he’s in tune with his teammates. But, like I’ve said many times, let’s wait to see MDA’s adjustments when everyone’s healthy and check if Kobe really fits with this bunch or not (fitting means getting us wins, not stats).

    Now that we covered Kobe and defense, here’s what’s annoying me in MDA. Player’s minutes. I’m all for going with the hot hand. Every basketball player understands if he sits on the bench because the guy playing his minutes is going 7 for 8 in 12 minutes or something. I’m also ok with someone gradually increasing his minutes because he’s outperforming everyone else for that spot. It happens gradually through the course of 10 games or so. What MDA is doing makes no sense. He’s not adjusting to the opponent. He’s not rewarding good play. He’s not developing young players (Henry). He’s not using everyone who’s useful on a basketball court (Kaman). I simply don’t understand those rotations… I do like his system. I do like his approach to the game. I think he was humble enough to recognize he needed help on the defensive side (Rambis’ hiring).

  7. @Simonoid. Oops, you are correct. Didn’t realize Farmar had been gone so long. Farmar wasn’t on team in Phil’s last year. My comments were regarding the last 2 years Famar was on the team and the 2009-10 season especially. PJ playing DFish as a starting PG in a concrete rotation was a disaster. Farmar performed much better per minute played than DFish. We don’t know how Farmar would have performed with the starters because he was never given a chance. Maybe Farmar would have thrived and maybe DFish could have provided steady “vet” leadership to the second unit. DFish started 82 games while Farmar played in 82 games and started 0. That is rigid for sure.

  8. Jackson’s rotations were set in stone, and I recall that people here (not thinking of anyone in particular) used to complain about it, including me sometimes. Phil would often have the starters in there when the game was over one way or the other, and of course, as was oft-discussed, Fisher would be there at the end no matter what kind of game he’d had.

    So, I think some flexibility is good, but MDA may be going too far the other way. But this isn’t really a “rebuilding year” as the team is constructed now. As one of the SSR writers said, the Lakers are neither contending nor tanking. They’re competing. I think “existing and functioning as a successful business operation” is a better way to put it, albeit a bit negative.

    Young, Kaman, Blake, Pau and maybe Meeks, Hill and Williams, all seem very or somewhat unilikely to be part of a future Lakers team that contends, and in any case, what those guys can do is reasonably well-established. And, any team paying Kobe Bryant big money is not really in a building mode. So, I think MDA is going with the strategies that he thinks will win games. Remember the first time he benched Pau in the 4th last year: “I was trying to win the game.”

    As to Kobe, he is never going to fit with MDA ball. As I said in my post prior to the Toronto game, and as others have said, and as we have seen, Kobe simply does not play in a way that fits SSOL. Last night was KB’s best game back, and the Lakers had a grand total of 2 fastbreak points. So, the issue will be how MDA and KB work with that.

  9. Rusty Shackleford December 15, 2013 at 11:40 am

    If any trade proposal putting J.R. Smith and Nick Young on the same team comes across David Stern’s desk in his final season as commissioner I pray he vetos it for “basketball reasons.”

  10. Some people thrive as the under dogs! There is a comfort zone in that, because lower expectation, hence less pressure. MDA is perfect for that. He likes that under dog status, under size, out manned,… So it makes him look good as an over achiever. He is the perfect guy to get a group of undrafted or some reclamation project kind of players to play well enough to build some trade assets while he can look good, and fans feel good about over achieving.

    But if you want to win big, to become a real contender, MDA is not the right guy. His head is not wired like that.

    It’s not as simple as making better rotations, defensive adjustments…. To achieve greatness beyond your own expectation takes certain character. Sorry Jim, you found the wrong guy!

  11. Renato, I had noticed all the perimeter switching since Kobe’s return and think his defensive limits (foot speed) are to blame. Henry, Young, Farmar, Johnson etc… are all quick enough to adjust to being picked off. Kobe is not and this then exposes an already problematic inside defense. Kemba is a fine point guard, but we have gone back to making good opposing 1s look like hall of famers. This team is too slow, but that is what we have for now.

    In my opinion, this is the team we have for the rest of Kobe’s contract (I can’t speak to whether he will have another after this one). LeBron is not coming and the Lakers know this. We are positioned to make some trades while maintaining flexibility for the upcoming classes of great players. Be it Irving, Westbrook, Love, Durant… I think the Lakers are looking to target one or two of those players as they become available as unrestricted FAs. Maybe we get lucky with some makegood signings or draft picks. I think a team needs to do so to be successful these days. Getting Manu, Parker, and Leonard when they did has been a big part to San Antonio’s success.

    I trust Mitch to make smart moves. I trust the owners to understand when to cut their losses and just ride out the rough patches. If getting to watch Kobe break records and remind us how lucky we have been to watch him play is what we get for the next few seasons, fine. We live with that. We enjoy that. We take our lumps and see if we can recapture championship relevance with the next batch of Lakers greats. I don’t think we win against excellent teams when the alpha dog is as limited defensively as Kobe is these days (which is why Carmelo should never be a blip on the radar). Excellent teams find your weaknesses and execute against them. Kobe’s foot speed, as well as Pau’s, are our flaws. They won’t get better. Let’s just enjoy what they have left.

    As for Pau, I would be surprised to see him on the team past this deadline. There are plenty of desperate teams out there. New York will look to shake things up. Maybe Chicago needs a reset. Milwaukee has a very disappointed owner. Toronto is looking to turn things over. I think the Lakers will take on contracts that give flexibility for 2015 and 2016, while bringing in talent and/or picks to try out. I’m not a big fan of Shumpert but Prigioni is interesting, Chandler is interesting, Boozer is a useful big that expires in time, Gibson is a fine player. Monroe might be had. We just need to hold the fort a couple of seasons.

  12. Not true SD2.

    If your plan was to not make the playoffs without looking like your tanking then MD is the right scape goat Coach.

  13. BTW Wall has more touches then Kobe cause he plays lot more minutes right now…

  14. ESPN is reporting Lakers contacted Knicks about Iman Shupert, huh? Front court is Lakers issue. (edited for trade speculation)

  15. another round of good posts everyone

  16. 5D2, maybe you only started watching basketball recently but you should look up the SSL Suns. They had Steve Nash, Shawn Marion, Amare Stoudemire in his prime (dominated Tim Duncan in a series), Joe Johnson, and a whole bunch of really good role players. They gave great San Antonio teams all they could handle, but injuries and stupid suspensions intervened. Those teams were great teams and guess who their coach was. Besides that, it’s not like we could further test your theory with these Lakers or the Knicks of a few years back. The Knicks were mediocre in terms of talent. Neither of these Lakers teams had the material to be great. They were injury ravaged, had bad chemistry, and had the same defensive flaws that the Lakers have had since beating the Celtics in 2010, Kobe and Pau have lost footspeed and so their defense is not good enough to force stops. Phil barely got the Lakers past the Hornets in his last year and was beat by Dallas, all for the same problem.

    It just occurred to me that 5D2 might think that teams only qualify as a great team if they win the championship. I think last season’s SAS was an example of a great team (one rebound away from winning in game 6). Going back you could look at a number of great Lakers teams that lost to the Celtics, the ’85 and ’87 Celtics were great, didn’t win. The Sixers had some great teams in the 80’s that didn’t win. There are few serious minds who don’t think that winning a championship requires some good luck. D’Antoni’s Suns teams were great and only lacked in luck.

  17. P. Ami,
    So many people use ‘advanced statistics’ and ‘rings’ as the sole determinants of greatness. Often the beauty of the game is in watching the play on the court – what goes on and when it goes on. That is at least as much a part of greatness as stats and rings. Jerry West wasn’t great because of the number of rings he did or didn’t win, nor the fact that the Big O often had better total stats.

    Watching this team is fun because of what goes on on the court. Sometimes I am absolutely flummoxed by stupid passes or clanks, but then there is the spectacular play or the clutch rebound. It is really nice to was a player slide their feet and suddenly find themselves being in the right place at the right time.

    Come to think of it, that is why Pau frustrates me oftentimes. He simply doesn’t move his feet, but reaches for rebounds or to defend. He doesn’t have to move fast, just move a little. That is why I want him focused during the game and will gladly settle for a lack of dominance, if only he is more consistent.

  18. It is not fair to look at the change in the Lakers since Kobe has returned given that they are without any semblance of a point guard. Kobe is a good passer for a shooting guard but it is a waste of his talent to have him initiate the offense. Also, as much fun as it is to watch these Lakers, only Kobe and Nash will be on next year’s team if they sign a max level free agent. The main person auditioning for a Laker job next year is MDA.

  19. The best shot to move Pau is probably Memphis–they are losing again tonight, at home.

  20. @rr answering your comment about me on the other thread, i comment on the ups and downs of the team during gametime thats right, but i want to see if you have ever read a single comment from me about trading Gasol at halftime, calling him a bum or worse, saying that Jim Buss ruined the Lakers, that MDA should be fired or any of that histerycal bs that i read every game. I refrain on commenting that way bc of one thing, i dont know anything!!! games are only one part of the picture, none of us know exactly whats going on. And like i said before, all of us knew coming in that this team is a patchwork to get us thru this season, im glad we found some pieces worth keeping moving fwd, we all knew the financial situation, that dead horse has been beaten over and over. And i said it a thousand times that this team even with Kobe is a borderline playoff team and that we should not made any moves and stick with what we have hell i dont like any of the free agents next summer and the Lebron thing is just a stupid pipe dream and it would be stupid to sign and Max a 30 year old Melo i also believe on keeping Pau expiring contract and letting walk after the season unless he takes a pretty dignificant paycut , i been a fan long enough to see some significant droughts by Lakers standards so im not either hysterical or desperate. I knew this was going to happen since the nixed CP trade. So i dont expect the Lakers to be real contenders until at least 2015. So thats were i truly stand.

  21. Rotations: Yes – Phil was hard headed and his rotations were like large ships in terms of how quickly he changed them. And yes – I was one of those who occasionally screamed at Phil. That said, I always knew what his logic was, even if I did not always agree with it. The difference with MD, is that I do not always understand the logic. Additionally, having “faith” in a guy with 11 rings is easier than one without them – that did not stop me from yelling at Phil – and I know I have told you all before, but I actually got Phil to look at me directly once – it was one of my finest moments as a Laker fan : )

    5D2/P Ami: I am going to have to take 5D2’s side in this one. P Ami – your posts are good, and you make some decent points here, but I am in lock step with 5D2 on this. The Lakers are not about exceeding expectations – they are abou titles, and MD has not demonstrated this in his 12 years in the league And yes – P Ami – there is luck – in everything. Phil is a lucky guy, Jerry Buss is a lucky guy. I like betting on lucky guys, not guys with coulda woulda shoulda stories. That said 5D2 – this discussion was for last November or this coming April. For now – we can ride it out with the “underdog” guy. PS: I have a couple of pictures from the internet of my face right over MD’s shoulder behind the Laker bench. I was wondering if anyone had some ideas for captions?

    Renato/and others: Do not give up on Kobe yet. He was the MVP of the last game and this is his 4th game back from what is usually a career ending injury. Do I see #8 coming back in full force? No – but I am hoping for some flashes of that. How cool would that be?

  22. Fern,

    You have gone up and down many times on the quality of the team. Sometimes it is a bad team; other times it is better than everyone thinks. It is true that you don’t talk about Buss and D’Antoni that much.

  23. Fern,
    I support your statements. We all get frustrated, but some revel in arguing about how good or bad the organization is – which is a pointless exercise. Look how much good it did the Clips over the last 20 years.

  24. Robert, I’m cool with the side you have taken. It’s true, luck does seem to follow certain guys. I would still say Phil was less lucky than good, unless coaching MJ, Pippin, Kobe and Shaq were part of his luck. Even if we ignore the giant disfunction of that 2011 team, which seemed to have the same problems we have now (slow feet from Kobe, Pau and Metta) we can also look at Popovich. Nobody doubts his quality as a HofF coach. He’s won chips. His decision to keep Duncan out of the end of game 6 looks like it cost them a championship. Fisher hitting that shot in 2004, or Horry missing his shot that same year, all this was his bad luck. He’s still a great coach. Bad luck, bad decision, mediocre players, all this plays into a coach’s legacy. No doubt MD has a legacy of failure but I think it unfair. He isn’t just a guy who disappoints with dominant teams and over-achieves with lesser teams. That’s what 5Ds argued. MD’A has done it all. He has succeeded with great teams, failed with them, failed with bad teams and overachieved with them. He is a perfect coach to help make this team entertaining, all while setting up for a retooling, and perhaps a better hire down the road.

  25. @rr i get frustrated or hopeful like the fan i am, i said before the season started that this team is better than a lot of people thought, thats been the case for the most part, i have never said that meant we are a championship team or even a contender. People here talked about a 20-25 win team. We are a bad defensive team but we are not historicaly bad like a lot of people believed, about MDA i think he have done a good job not great but solid. My main gripe with him is whats trending here, rotations, i know we are depleted at the guard position but he need to settle on a rotation and stick with it, its maddening to see a player getting a start bc of a good quarter and get a dnp- coach decision after the next game because he did not played that good the next game, he needs to settle that like asap preseason is over. About Jim Buss he has made his share of mistakes but i cant fault him for triying, every move he has made so far is been triying to make an impact. The CP botched trade, Dwight and Nash have been risky moves that didnt workout, thats were the luck factor comes in. If those moves had worked out he would be a genius, cant blame him for that. Btw i enjoy your comments and agree most of the time with them. About the team in general the impresion i have right know is that last night game showed that Kobe and the team are starting to learn to play togheter and i believe the attempt is being made to incorporate Kobe without losing the qualities that made the team what it was while he was out, i think last game we saw some of that.Ken is the one that drive me crazy lol but if he is not here screamin and bashing Pau, Jim Buss, MDA, Obama and global warming i miss him lol.

  26. P. Ami: Incredible post. First you state “Phil was less lucky than good”, then u invoke the “Got Fish?” shot. However, the real priceless piece of your post was the last sentence: “He is a perfect coach to help make this team entertaining, all while setting up for a retooling, and perhaps a better hire down the road.” That one sentence says it all. For now, we simply watch and let KB and the Phoenix Sunshine Band entertain us. Then we retool. And then “perhaps a better hire down the road”. Who is driving down this road? Whoever it is – Punch It !

  27. I wonder if Dwight Howard walked around the Rockets locker room with a stat sheet today?

  28. No wonder this blog doenst get the action other blogs get…you can’t mention Chandler in a trade??? Espn did….smh…

  29. gene,
    All you need to do is read comments on the other blogs out there and you will be thankful for Darius and Kurt.

  30. Fern,

    Thanks; I appreciate that. You are one of the “regulars” who make the site fun.

  31. Robert,

    The problem with that is KB plays like a 1970s Black Sabbath riff–slow and menacing. Doesn’t really work that well as the lead guy in The Sunshine Band.

  32. Gene,
    This is the second time you’ve mentioned something about the number of comments at the site and using that as a measuring stick for the success of it. The first time I let it go, because that’s a pretty small minded way of viewing things and I didn’t think it merited a response. This time, however, I thought I’d just clarify that I don’t measure the success of this site by how many comments appear here. In fact, I think that’s a pretty silly way to measure the success of a site. I’d go into it more, but honestly I couldn’t care less about explaining this to you.

    As an aside, comments get moderated for pretty simple reasons. You should read the commenting guidelines linked at the top of the page for a full list and explanation. The trade talk, however, is pretty simple — there’s not a substantial report to discuss so it’s all speculation. I don’t care to have the comment section of this site filled with speculation so I moderate those comments. When you have site, you can make up your own rules. On that note, if you’re not feeling these rules, there are many other sites out there where it’s not my way and you’ll probably enjoy them more. I won’t miss you if you go. All that said, this isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned this to you and you seem to keep coming back. So, from that perspective, thanks for the continued support of the site. I truly do appreciate it.

  33. I think the one issue that people are missing is that Kobe has played in a MDA system very well as part of Team USA – the issue is that he has to be surrounded by equally talented/appropriate personel so he won’t/can’t dominate the ball… ergo in that sense MDA’s hire w healthy Kobe/Nash/Howard/Gasol/Artest etc… makes sense – but between injuries to Nash/howard/pau and pwer struggles/whining/competeing agendas on the team limited what could’ve been a championship caliber squad. This year MDA has managed to fashion an underdog scrappy competitive team that despite Pau’s whining and Kobe being out – managed to stay relevant. The problem is the cumulative injuries to this team especially at the pg position are forcing Kobe to assume a more dominant role as he comes back vs integrating back into a free flowing system. As guys come back hopefully Kobe will be able to ease back to being an opportunitive scorer w some two man game w Pau to keep him happy.

    P.Ami’s post is a pretty balanced take on MDA – he’s been all over the place and he’s done some really great things w great teams only to suffer bad luck (stackhouse breaking joe johnsons face/horry’s cheap shot suspensions/tim duncan hitting an overtime 3 pter) unfortunately always against the Spurs – and vice versa has flammed out when he got frustrated and tired of the situation in New York. P.Ami’s last line is perfect – “He is a perfect coach to help make this team entertaining, all while setting up for a retooling, and perhaps a better hire down the road.”

    Don’t forget the Lakers are a business and at least MDA (while not known as a turnaround coach) has at least fashioned a entertaining product on the flr that can at least keeps seats full and make the club money while they try to retool on the fly once the cap clears. Lakers can’t tank as Kobe won’t suffer it and they’ve given up so many picks in the Nash and other deals that they would pretty much have to be assured of getting a top 3 pick via the lottery balls other wise it would get shuffled off to someone else (some deals w picks were top 10/top 5 protected etc..) so all things considered and injuries taken into account – the team ain’t horrible and at least has a chance for a playoff spot which is all that management can hope for as they try to refresh the roster. As for the next coach – if MDA keeps things reasonably respectable w effort and guys buying in and playing hard despite a deficient roster – I suspect Buss and Mitch will give him at one season at least w a new healthy squad to see what he could do.

  34. jerke,
    Thanks for the balanced comment.

  35. ergo in that sense MDA’s hire w healthy Kobe/Nash/Howard/Gasol/Artest etc… makes sense

    This is a long reach, which ignores some very basic facts. MDA ball is built around playing at a fast pace and shooting a ton of 3s. He was hired to coach an old, slow team that didn’t shoot 3s particularly well. Check the Lakers Bask Ref page from last year for Pace, 3PA, and 3PCT–the facts are very clear on this. I backed the hire, because of the Nash/Howard factor, but I did that partly based on the caveat that MDA would adapt to the personnel more than he did. He did adapt some but not nearly as much as some have claimed. Blame Pau and Howard if you want to, but it is not as if the Lakers’ personnel last year was a big mystery to NBA people or they had a bunch of unknown players. Your defenses of MDA would play better if you acknowledged these things.

    And it is pretty clear that the way Kobe plays–posting up, stopping the ball, surveying the D, shooting a lot of mid-range 2P shots–doesn’t fit what MDA likes to do. But if I know that, then Buss, D’Antoni, and Kobe know it as well, so we will see how it works out.

  36. As far as the business/entertainment angle, I think there is something to it, but the 2010 and 2011 teams were slow and medium-paced. The Showtime Teams were fun to watch, but fans mostly like winning. Going 60-22 is what entertains the best.

    D’Antoni has done a good job so far this year; I think everybody has acknowledged that. I certainly have, and a lot of what happened last year was not his fault. But there are reasons to question some of what he has done here.

  37. rr – my point regarding the “ergo in that sense MDA’s hire w healthy Kobe/Nash/Howard/Gasol/Artest etc… makes sense” is in relation to his offensive schemes and philosophies in relations to team USA (not as much SSOL) play which made the best use of skilled players – those teams weren’t merely fast breaking 3 pt shootings teams but highly talented individuals that would be willing to move the ball and find the best shot, and sometimes that meant playing fast, but it also meant taking advantage of individual match ups etc… Melo/wade/kobe/cp3 all had success playing under mda’s olympic schemes and managed some huge individual games while not playing outside the system. Obviously Mike made his mistakes last year – but not having a training camp to implement and never truly having a healthy team ever for any stretch of time made it impossible to fulfill the sky high expectations for that time.

    Yes MDA’s teams do/can play fast depending on personell – but the schemes he ran w team USA were about maximizing flow and finding the “energy/hot hand as he terms it – the player that moves and is active, on his teams the ball will always find him – USA bball was never really the constant fast break teams as people pigeon hole MDA into being. With a talented team 1 thru 5 as the team was last year – that should’ve been the ideal, but for various reasons it never came about – chiefly in my opinion that you had 2 guys in howard the didn’t want to buy in (howard needing the be top dog when he physically/mentally not being able to/Pau’s decline and lingering malaise after the undone trade + the Nash injury etc…). Again ideally MDA’s system doesn’t necessitate playing super fast and outta control ala GS under Don Nelson – but w flow and taking the earliest best shot.

    People mistake playing in this system as being more physically demanding/taxing than slowing things down – but (and I can attest to this as come to the end of my playing days myself) it is infinetly easier on the body to be a little leaner and relay on constant movement, quick passing, and taking advantage of easy opportunities than it is to slow things down and try and grind out shots over and over again. Older players maybe slower – but it doesn’t mean they can’t be effective in a motion/tempo based offense – especially when it means scoring on cuts and layups versus banging against a set defence/double teams and iso’s all night – think about the mens league teams where the old guys/masters teams are successful and they score with the ball barely touching the flr as it moves 90 ft up court. That being said, you need individuals on a team that have both a reasonable skill level and decent bball iq and the overall skill level on this team w all injuries etc.. just isnt there this year.

    i thought Pau would be a great fit – but mentally he seems like he’s checked out and I wonder at what point does Kobe just realize he can’t babysit him anymore. Could Pau get 20-10 every night and return to allstar stats – probably – but that would be a lot of forced touches and would be to the detriment of the teams record – especially considering he now has trouble covering his own guy and provides zero rim protection (aside from getting lucky blocking Jefferson last night).

  38. just a thought and this isn’t trade speculation but there would be a delicious irony in flipping pau to houston for a certain young defensively effective center who is currently not playing due to Howard – who would rebound great and protect the rim while not demanding the ball lol

  39. @jerke the Rockets FO should be comitted and Dwight would jump off a cliff if they make that move i would love it lol. About MDA sucess as a head coach there is been some bad luck involved, first in Phoenix and that fight that cost them a trip to the Finals and in NY he was on to something when they hired Amar’e and were playing the best ball the Knicks had played in years and then that idiot owner Dolan decided to trade half his team for Melo so he could sell some more jerseys. That move still make me shake my head to this day if he waited until summer and signed Melo, who wanted to be a Knick, he would have turned the Knicks into a juggernaut and a contender, that was a missed golden oportunity, but thats why that guy is a moron and the Knicks are an eternal mess, and we complain about Jim Buss lol.

  40. rr: I love the Black Sabbath reference. And yes – while those riffs were indeed menacing, much like Kobe, Black Sabbath is still selling out arenas as we speak. The Sunshine Band of course was very “entertaining” while they lasted. As far as your implication that the riffs and the upbeat tempo may not go together: I guess trying to get KB to play in MD’s offense would be like trying to get Ozzy Osbourne to sing “That’s the way – uh huh uh huh – I like It”

  41. Jerke,

    That was a well-thought-out post, but it doesn’t change the basics: D’Antoni’s best teams in PHX lead the league in 3PAs and Pace Factor, or were top 3-5. The 2007 Suns, probably his best team, lead the NBA in 3P%, were 2nd in 3PA, and 3rd in Pace. And sure, it worked because of personnel. In addition to Nash, MDA had a unique talent in Marion who could check 4s, run the floor,and shoot 3s, and he had pre-injuries Stoudemire as his 5 and roll man. It was a perfect mix of system and talent, and MDA deserves credit for seeing it–and he has gotten that credit, over and over again, in very tangible and visible ways. Jack McCallum wrote a book about those teams, D’Antoni works with Team USA, and he has gotten BOTH the Knicks’ and Lakers’ jobs. And, the “he’s never won anything” argument is IMO weak. Phil never won anything without Jordan, Pippen, Shaq, Kobe, and Pau, either,

    As to what he has done here, I agree that Howard’s not buying in was a huge deal, and even with all the issues, the Lakers were still 9th in O. The biggest issue was perimeter D, but I also think it is pretty clear that MDA’s style made the transition D worse.

    And, I simply don’t see any argument that Pau is a great fit for this system. As a 5, he is too slow. As a 4, he is both too slow and lacking in shooting range. Since last year, the Lakers have:

    drafted Ryan Kelly
    tried to play Wesley Johnson at the 4
    brought in Shawne Williams off the scrap heap and used him at times as a starter.

    It is very clear what MDA wants on the front line. Pau isn’t it, and both guys know that. The same goes for Jordan Hill, albeit to a slightly lesser extent.

  42. Robert,

    It goes back to my long post that I made prior to the Toronto game. It is very clear that Jim Buss wants Mike D’Antoni to be his coach, and it is very clear that Jim Buss wants Kobe Bryant to be the centerpiece of his team. It is not very clear, at least not to me, how exactly those two decisions work together.

  43. Great Black Sabbath analogy.
    Agree that Kobe and MDA seem an odd fit.
    But sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t. Who knew Kobe and Dwight would really clash so much Dwight would bolt?
    Bigger surprise last year was Dwight not meshing with Nash. The game in which Dwight insisted Steve throw the ball up toward the rim and Nash debating him regarding the bounce pass he threw was classic Dwight. He’s not a leader and in Houston it’s clear Harden is the leader of that team. Dwight’s just a great supporting player that sees himself as a #1.
    I feel strongly that Kobe’s new contract hamstrings the team unnecessarily for another 2 years. Kobe would have signed for 15 per over 3 years and that would have given the team more room to add real depth and still rewarded Kobe for his lifetime achievements.
    It seems like we can add one max player now and beyond that be confined to churning minimum salaried players each year.
    I hope they can retain players like Farmar Hill Young and Johnson but it may be tough as they’ll all warrant better than minimum salaries next year.

  44. @ rr
    It is very clear that Jim Buss wants Mike D’Antoni to be his coach, and it is very clear that Jim Buss wants Kobe Bryant to be the centerpiece of his team. It is not very clear, at least not to me, how exactly those two decisions work together.

    Those two sentences are a perfect description of the problem. MDA is a good coach. I can’t say that he’s great because he has yet to do great things. He wasn’t the right coach for the job when he was hired, but he’s a better fit for this team as it’s currently constructed minus Pau Gasol. Which is why his days are numbered here in L.A….

    Now, can MDA coach a team with a player that needs the ball in the post or in iso like Kobe? We’ll see, but my hopes are not too high.

  45. Haven’t we said about all there is to say about how MDA and Kobe don’t match up? Isn’t it about time to sit back and watch what happens?

  46. Haven’t we said about all there is to say about how MDA and Kobe don’t match up? Isn’t it about time to sit back and watch what happens?

    Tell you what, Craig. I will stop talking about how Kobe and MDA don’t fit when you stop talking about all the various things that the fanbase doesn’t understand and shouldn’t question. Let’s do it as kind of a FBG holiday gift exchange.

  47. KenOak,

    Here is an interesting stat on Pau from Kevin Pelton:

    So far this season, Gasol has been exceptionally efficient in pick-and-roll opportunities, shooting 51.4 percent and averaging 1.024 points per play.

    ————

    And, Pelton confirms other stuff talked about here: Pau should probably have a smaller role, and he is not converting post-ups very effectively.

    So…it seems that there is perhaps more of a role for Pau in MDA ball than my post (in mod) suggests, although I still stand by the rest.

  48. I wonder how much of Pau’s success is predicated on his converting on shots the offense gets him while in it’s flow. MDA is a huge proponent of the ball finding energy. It’s my experience that you find energy in the flow of playing together and playing for each other.

    I just saw the preview for that new movie “Lone Survivor”. The thing that resonated with me was in how the Navy SEALs have this sense of teamwork and working for the other guys on the team. They shoot, not to protect themselves but to protect their fellow SEAL. They put their lives on the line, so the similarities with basketball stop on that level. When you have a team that works together, the feeling of covering for each other, creating opportunities for each other, and communicating with each other- it’s a humbling and energizing experience. You get your legs under you. You feel the energy to give that second, third, fourth effort… whatever it takes. To do that you need a system to follow and MDA has that. The system being what it is, it provides opportunities in the flow when you are moving and the ball moves. Playing in the post the way Pau and Kobe do, it changes the flow of the offense. Pau getting the ball while cutting to the basket or off the P&R (and the P&P) doesn’t play as much to Pau’s comfort, but within the offense it may play better to the team’s comfort. In a round about way, it effects Pau’s shot. He, like the rest of the team, may just be more effective doing what he is less comfortable doing, because it’s within the natural scope of the system.

    I’ve harped on this a few times already but I’ll say it once more. I don’t think the problem is the offense, the defensive philosophy or the coaching. We have the same problem that has plagued us since 2011. We have old slow feet. Letting Metta go was one part of the solution but Pau and Kobe together is going to continue to be a problem.

  49. We’ve been making excuses for Pau for a few years now. Maybe the once great Pau is just a shot player. Fg% has steadily dropped each of the last 6 years and he’s less willing to get physical, he’s averaging 1.6 off boards a game. He’s complained for 3 straight years and done nothing about it, but take his problems to the media. Fans are tired of his passive aggressive ways and he needs to produce with his massive $19 million salary. He’s the 8th highest paid player in the league and Lakers front office expect him to produce no matter what and he’s not right now. Very intelligent player who I have no doubt can be vital on a team playing alongside a with a strong rebounder/defender and elite wing, but he’s may not be the guy for the Lakers. His heart isn’t in it with the Lakers anymore. Time to unload.

  50. I said at the time that they extended Pau that the deal was a year too long–as was KB’s, and I certainly was not alone in feeling that way. I don’t really blame the FO for that, and I said that at the time, too, but this is not all Pau’s fault. He’s old, with heavy mileage, playing in a system that doesn’t suit him, and that is before you get to the veto, the trade rumors and the media issues.

    It is easy enough to say, “He makes 19M, so he needs to shut up and produce.” But then, I think you should also say:

    “Jim, Mitch, and Mike have the TWC deal, the Laker brand, and the LA market. They need to shut up and produce.” One goes with the other.

  51. Robert,

    It looks as if there’s another player that you can add to your list of individuals who are not enamored with D’Antoni.

    http://m.espn.go.com/nba/story?storyId=10147111

  52. I haven’t yet heard “Jim, Mitch, or Mike” shout out any particular things to date. It is the fan base who has their ‘xxxx’ in an uproar. Lousy comparison.

  53. I haven’t yet heard “Jim, Mitch, or Mike” shout out any particular things to date. It is the fan base who has their ‘xxxx’ in an uproar. Lousy comparison.

    D’Antoni could have said that he would take care of the issues with Pau behind closed doors and not ripped Pau in the media about it. He chose not to. Buss could have left his father out of the Phil hiring decision and taken it entirely on himself, since Jim was officially in charge at the time. He chose not to.

    But really, the point was that everybody operates in a context–ownership, FO, coaches, players. Heck, even the fans. So, if people are going to ignore the context of Pau’s situation and put most of his problems on him, then I think they should do the same with the FO instead of bringing in the CBA, the veto, etc. This is the Lakers. Get it done. No excuses.

    Personally, I don’t approach things that way. Pau certainly has brought some of this on himself. But it is not his fault that he is 33, that Odom fell off a cliff, that the Paul deal was vetoed etc. Given what Pau has done for the Lakers, and given MDA’s management style, I am going to cut Pau some slack. YMMV.

  54. rr: Lakers have the 5th highest payroll in the league. They have made countless seismic moves in the nba the last decade plus that have produced championships. Their track record speaks for themselves. And had the veto not happened, which you’ve mentioned previously, Lakers would be at the top of the heap. When it comes to Pau, I am a huge fan and once traded to the Lakers he became my favorite player since kg wasn’t traded here, but he has to produce. He getting paid franchise player and playing like a 3rd option. He’s attempting 14 shots a game and averaging 14 points and plays zero defense. Kobe doesn’t fit D’Antoni’s system either, he’s not a floor spacer at this point, but he makes it work. Pau hasn’t adapted and has become stubborn. Last 3 years he’s been on the perimeter for the most part and should be one of the best shooting bigs from midrange, but he wants to play in the post and hasn’t jumped to elite status from that position.

  55. Re; Players not enamoured w/ MDA’s system – i think the problem w Kaman (and this comes with the caveat that i like him personally as a player) is that he gives you nothing different that you can’t get from Pau (slow, white, offensively skilled center who cant guard quicker guys nor help protect the rim) – so given that Pau makes a stupid amount of money anyways, you might as well play him more at least so you can get his numbers up to make a trade to get rid of him or at least keep him productive. Hill can at least play both centre/pf, sacre gives a you a defensive banger w lots of effort, and Pau can play a little pf depending on the matchup. Kaman is strictly a center – and as long as Pau is there – there is only so many slow white guy center mins to go around. Get rid of pau for a scorer wing/combo guard and athletic center/defensive pf and then Kaman would be able to play 20 mins again – giving the lakers a legit center/post look.

  56. Kevin,

    Well, then it is easy enough to say that Pau delivered big-time in both the 2009 and 2010 Finals, and outplayed Garnett in Game 7 when all the money was on the table. And the Lakers have the 5th-highest payroll, but about the 19th-best team. And the moves that produced championships were made with another man in the big office. Also, Kobe’s D has been as bad as or worse than Pau’s. Like I said, everyone operates in a context.

    I think Pau’s biggest problem is that he is old and his legs are shot. That is pretty much what Pelton said in the ESPN piece about it today. Pau is not handling it well, but then I don’t think MDA is, either.

  57. In fairness to MDA, Kaman did not mention him specifically, at least not in that piece, and I thought that when Kaman was acquired, he was acquired either to cover the 5 if they moved Pau or as a trade chip himself. So I don’t think any issues with Kaman are really on MDA, except for maybe stuff with communication.

  58. Jerke, didn’t know that “white” was a basketball quality.

    rr, It is unrealistic to think that any franchise wins the championship every year, or that they compete for it. The Lakers made moves to extend Kobe’s window. It worked from 2008 to 2010. Time caught up as did David Stern and the CBA. The front office is not perfect. They are excellent.

  59. rr, It is unrealistic to think that any franchise wins the championship every year, or that they compete for it

    Sure. It is also unrealistic to think that a guy with Pau’s age and mileage, who has been through the upheavals he has been through, is going to play as well now as he did four years ago. That was the point of the comparison.

    Also, one more time: it is not the same FO as the one that won the titles. Ronnie Lester is gone; some of the old scouts are gone. Jerry Buss has passed away and Jim has put himself in a different role than the one the Old Man was in. Those facts are IMO as relevant to the picture as the Veto and the CBA.