Lakers Drop 5th Straight Game AKA Watching the Sausage Being Made

Darius Soriano —  December 29, 2013

That about sums it up as far as the game against the Sixers goes. During the game Xavier Henry hurt his knee and did not return. Chris Kaman played on his gimpy ankle and looked solid in spurts, but didn’t see very much run overall. This left the Lakers with a group of healthy wings named Farmar, Meeks, Young, Wes Johnson, and Kendall Marshall. The bigs healthy enough to play sustained minutes were Hill, Williams, Sacre, and Kelly. At one point the team had a lineup of Marshall, Meeks, Young, Kelly, and Sacre. If you imagined that lineup getting important minutes during the 4th quarter of a close game, you get some sort of prize as being a masochist.

In any event, the Lakers aren’t a good team right now. Injuries have decimated them to the point that Xavier Henry’s MRI scheduled for tomorrow is actually a huge story since missing him for any extended period of time takes away the team’s back up point guard and one of the team’s better players to this point in the year. Read that last sentence again and you’ll have a better understanding of the shape the Lakers have been in this year.

I tweeted that at some point after the game and it also sums up the Sixers game for me. I understand the hope that a high draft pick is waiting for the team at some point this summer. This, however, does little to take away the sting of losing games like the one against the 76ers. Losing, for lack of a better word, sucks. Rationalizing the losses with dreams of the draft lottery going the Lakers’ way is nice, but, again, it doesn’t make nights like this any easier to deal with in the moment.

Really though, there’s not much else to say about this team at this point. You can point to coaching or the front office ownership if you want, but what Brian Kamenetzky tweeted at the top is the most basic truth about the Lakers right now. There are too many players hurt and not enough talent remaining to compensate for those injuries. After the game Mike D’Antoni reiterated that this team plays hard and fights, but still acknowledged that it isn’t enough right now. Beyond getting players healthy, I don’t think there’s a solution right now. Sure they can execute better on some plays and pay more attention to detail on both sides of the ball, but this is a talent league and right now the team doesn’t have enough of it.

At some point that will change. But right now, this is the Lakers’ lot in life and we all just have to deal with it.

Darius Soriano

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36 responses to Lakers Drop 5th Straight Game AKA Watching the Sausage Being Made

  1. Wonder if management will ever publicly acknowledge that the team is in a rebuilding phase?

  2. There is hope there is hope!

    D’Antoni comes out of postgame news conference and into a closed-door meeting in his office with Mitch Kupchak.

    From Kevin Ding

  3. Mr. Scott your New Years present may be here soon!

  4. Firing MDA now would make no sense at all. Does anybody think any coach in the histoy of the game woud have won with the current roster? What is he supposed to do? Plus, who would replace him? PJ is not walking through that door – even if he was: He doesen´t win with a team decimated like this. And why pay MDA for sitting at home when the outcome of the season is basically meaningless anyway, at this point? I guess Mitch and Jimmy called Mike to tell him to stop trying and start tankig. Or to discuss an imminent trade with him. Just my 2ct based on rationality.

  5. Soooo pau is….quitting?

  6. Keep D’antoni this year. I say go after coach K, keep rambis as D-coordinator/asst coach.

    If the Lakers get a miracle draft pick and get a healthy kobe, keep farmar, hill, X, swag… Then maybe a jumpstart of the lakers can truly begin.

    This season has been fun when they play top tier teams, they seem to rise to the occasion. But injuries has doomed this team this year.

  7. I think so.

    The sausage being made is never pretty. Welcome to a non-Laker fan’s perspective many seasons when we’re busy trying to keep our statistics of once-every-forthyear championship contention.

    Was busy the entire day (cut-off at warehouse and office) so atleast I didn’t get to see the in-game frustration. Gotta keep yourself busy these days, find a good team to cheer for, I’ve rooted for Indy last year and they have won me quite alot in bets this year.

    As for our Lakers, it just keeps piling up.

  8. “D’Antoni comes out of postgame news conference and into a closed-door meeting in his office with Mitch Kupchak.”

    I think what this means is that both executives discuss the possibilities that are on the table. Either the Lakers sustain bad play blaming it on injuries or make a deal that will help the short term a bit and lose some flexibility moving forward. I don’t advocate tanking and never will, I believe in giving it your all and let our play determine our place in the standings.

    But I also believe in doing some sacrifices NOW to reap the benefits later. Like if the Lakers was able to get below the tax line (not easy but Cleveland presents an opportunity) this year when we’re headed nowhere, and allow us to go over the tax line in 2-3 seasons thereafter 2014.

    I think Mitch is consulting w/ MDA a choice of 2 deals (Chicago is motivated to get a big expirer) and the other deal where we sell. Buying or Selling.

    Otherwise, expect a deal announced early tomorrow.

  9. The Lakers are one of just four Western Conference teams with a losing record at home, along w/ the T’ Wolves, Pelicans, & Jazz :-( …’nuff said.

  10. As a Lakers fan, I think we should all do a little more reflection on the last 5 years. We had an absolutely amazing run with kobe and Pau, not the 3 heatles, kobe and pau everyone is impressed by what the heat are doing with an injured derrick rose and young pacers team, while they teamed up just after the lockout, it’s really not THAT impressive to me especially considering the spurs suffered the worst loss in finals history and that the heat have had to go 7 games with everyone they’ve played. The lakers have had some things go really wrong for them. The Chris Paul trade veto, the icon of the lakers franchise passing away, Phil Jackson being diagnosed with prostate cancer as the lakers got destroyed by the mavericks. The only real blame I will place on Jim buss is the Mike Brown hiring. The Phil Jackson incident screams of family squabble and ego. I think Mike D’antoni has definitely messed up the situation with the bigs and wasn’t the right coach for Howard but he didn’t hire himself. As fans we really have to just take a step back and not overreact to one game or one decision like kobe’s contract. If you’re going to sit there and criticize the contact or Pau’s, just understand that the Lakers made him that offer and that he makes the lakers probably around 100million dollars a year in profit. Just saying. Also Pau has been completely disrespected and I don’t blame him for sitting out if that’s what he is doing. Why should he put on his armor and fight for a franchise that has done nothing but throw him out there as the scape goat and in trade rumors. Players like Pau are international icons, they don’t just represent the lakers, he has great influence in Europe and with unicef and has contributed to two championships and whose overall body of work competes with the greats of all time. If he is done in L.A. and wants to leave I wouldn’t blame him.

    I think the Lakers need to make two decisions going forward, what their identity as a team is going to be, and who they want leading that group as a coach along with kobe for the next two years. The lakers have impressed with their ability to bounce back and on paper this was a very solid roster with 3 extremely capable pgs in Nash, farmar, and blake, each has shown they can run the system and thrive if healthy, we have great wing prospects who are all different in Xavier, Johnson, and Young, along with the greatest in Kobe. We have a very solid NBA front line and I would say above average in Pau, Kaman, both of whom have been all stars and can provide 25 minutes of excellent interior play, and two young centers in hill an sacre that each bring energy and passion. We have a very strong rookie in Ryan Kelly and that’s where I will end it. So the Lakers really need to decide sooner rather then later what the identity of the team is going to be and if Pau and D’antoni are not in their plans, they need to turn the page quickly because they shouldn’t start relying on the draft now. There are plenty of options and we shouldn’t panic but I do believe all the uncertainty is creating a lot insecurity and problems specifically for D’Antoni and Pau and players that aren’t sure of their role or contacts and it’s not a healthy combination. Hopefully we will figure some things out soon.

  11. “I don’t advocate tanking and never will, I believe in giving it your all and let our play determine our place in the standings.”

    Warren, wish this were true in professional sports, but this is a business first and foremost. Therefore, obtaining a high lottery pick is more valuable than anything the Lakers can try proving on the court this season. Whether the Lakers actually use the lottery pick or trade it next season, it’s better for the long term success of the organization and in turn us fans as the product on the floor will be vastly better if we can be smart about the process. Tank it up boys!

  12. Sausage: Watching the sausage being made is not pleasant, but at least if you ordered Eggs + Sausage, then you would know that a good meal was coming in the not too distant future. I have not seen a menu, and I am not even clear that this is sausage being made. There certainly is some unpleasant grinding going on, but what the end result will be is unclear.
    MD: No reason to get rid of him during this year. We have until May-June to get a plan together. The loss to the Sixers changes nothing, other than the fact that if we keep losing, I will (in a warped way) become an MD defender, as more will be calling for his immediate ouster.

  13. >The Lakers are one of just four Western Conference teams with a losing record at home, along w/ the T’ Wolves, Pelicans, & Jazz

    JFTR and FWIW: that would be Memphis and Sac. as the 3rd and 4th; the ‘Wolves are 9-4 at home.

  14. No reason to fire MDA. It may be hard to admit but the Lakers simply have an old, bad and expensive roster. This year is just the beginning. Lakers likely won’t be competitive gain until after Kobe retires.

  15. nice post chris, though I´d argue that our interiror defensive presence is not excellent by any means.
    Still, the excessive injury bug has been up our ****s for two looong seasons now (& it´s f***ing torture!) and this has surely been a huge factor in our fate so far.
    ___
    Hope it´s nothing serious Xavier!

  16. Why is it so important for some folks to hear the FO use the word “rebuild”? Not being judgmental, just curious. I mean, if you look at the team we have now as a result of injuries and also consider expiring contracts, I don’t see why there is a need to call out the obvious.

    The Lakers need to keep D’Antoni until the end of the year. Short of two top-tier coaches being fired or suddenly made available, there is nothing to be gained from firing the guy right. If anything, we are better off having him raise the trade value of some of the expiring young guys. Once the season is done, the FO should evaluate where we are and where we are headed. Even then however, don’t be surprised if the coaching stays the same. Short of Kobe asking for a new coach or a marquee free agents agreeing to join the Lakers on the condition Mike D is not the coach, assuming we get a decent draft pick (or trade for a decent spot) we gain very little by letting go of the guy without a bonafide high-power replacement available.

    Personally, I am secretly hoping Chicago’s management continues to have a bad relationship with Thibbs. That’s one guy I would love to see coaching the Lakers. The other guy I would have loved is Woodson – but this year is making me second guess that choice. Shaw is one guy I did not like a few years ago, but after seeing his work with the Pacers and now heading the Nuggs, my mind is slowly changing. I would welcome suggestions from others, but I frankly think that there are slim pickings.

  17. MannyP: Thibbs would be great. You obviously know I am very positive towards Shaw. Neither one is likely to be available. Another possibility is B Scott. With regard to slim pickings – yes – it always is – which is why if you have an opportunity you must take it. There are always about 3-5 coveted coaches in the league, while the rest are days away from being fired.
    Chris I also think your post was good, but I had a hard time reconciling: “The only real blame I will place on Jim buss is the Mike Brown hiring” . and “MD …..wasn’t the right coach for Howard but he didn’t hire himself” So was Mike Brown the “only” thing? : )
    Re-Build/Tanking/Managing the Cap: Whatever you call it. Let’s just get a plan and do it. Unfortunately, for the rest of this year, that involves very little other than waiting. Most of what we would do would set us backward.

  18. Robert – I’m weary of B Scott because he does not really have a winning record as a coach and because he is known as an old school hard @ss and that attitude I do not think works well in this league anymore. But, who knows. Kobe is kind of an old school hard @ss himself, so perhaps this will work out OK while Kobe is still around.

    Also, regarding Mike Brown, it is interesting to note that he has the reputation as having zero spine with the players or not being able to stand up to them. However, he just benched Bynum for conduct unbecoming, so perhaps he is finding a new style of coaching. I wonder what Drew did to earn the benching? Anyone know?

  19. Fire MDA now! Swallow the pride so players around the league can restore the confidence that the Lakers are still a premier franchise that does not allow mediocrity. This will not save your season, but it brings you hope of getting some top-tier free agents this summer.

    Hire a coach with real Lakers’ heritage! Wesley John, Nick Young, Xavier, and Sacre, there are at least 2 keepers here. So get a coach who will help building them for the next season. Knowing that we are grooming players and coach for next season, watching the sausage being made would be a bit more palatable.

    There is a reason why these players are getting hurt. MDA is not using these players properly. You can say it is bad luck on injuries. But look at how whenever he is comfortable with one player, he just runs him into the ground, or make him play out of his position.

    I will keep rooting for the Lakers. I think MDA should coach other teams!!!

    Fire MDA will at least give fans interest to watch the Time Warner Sportsnet.

  20. Talking in terms of a full rebuild doesn’t make much sense to me when the team has committed approximately 40% of the cap to Kobe over the next two years. That could change if accumulated physical problems force him into retirement, but we are not there yet.

    So, ISTM that the plan, based on what the FO did with KB’s contract, should be to keep the guys that they think will fit around Kobe and try to trade the guys who won’t for whatever they can get. Obviously, it is not quite that simple, but that should be the basic idea.

  21. I would have issues with Thibs, as the guy just grinds his players to the bone. I don’t think his rotation schedule is sound for the course of a long season and PO run.

    I like this team. They aren’t winning, and there is frustration with that, but they do some fun things. I can keep watching this sausage. I don’t anticipate the team tanking for a top spot, as there is no certainty in getting a top 3 pick and nor in that pick panning out. I think Mitch is a much better judge of talent than others, but look at Cleveland. That team had some high picks and still hasn’t turned it around. That said, I’m no expert but it looks like there are some really good players in this draft. I believe someone is getting a super-star in the middle of the first round. If there is any chance of making some moves that can net another pick in this draft, I make it. Kobe is the only untouchable and I would identify players I would like to keep, but I’m open to trading anybody.

    Guys, Kobe has 2 years after this one. There is no really great FA coming up this coming offseason. I’ve heard that the Lakers are really interested in Deng, but that may change as his injury situation makes him less appealing. I certainly don’t want the Lakers to go after a 29 year old player, with injury problems. If we get two star type players in the draft and develop them, I think 2015 and 2016 is where we can snatch a top level talent. Dream of dreams, the Lakers get that unforeseen superstar in this draft, get Love in 2015 and then Durant in 2016. With one more good pick in these next three drafts, and any of the combination of Hill, Young, Johnson, Henry and Farmar, I think we can have a really good run during the last part of of this decade.

    Back to MDA, I thought his rotation seemed good. Then again, who did he have to go to? The team is just depleted and that won’t change much until well into the season. I want to see him play out this season. If we draft perimeter players, I’m fine with keeping MDA for another season but once we have really good bigs to develop, or the team signs a big FA, we might want to find a better tactical mind to run the team.

  22. I love the “fire so and so” comments that offer absolutely no alternative as to who would replace the guy – because top caliber NBA coaches are so easy to find that there are dozens of them just waiting for an NBA team to hire them, right?

    If you buy that, then I you probably think we can trade Pau for Lebron, Ricky Rubio Brooke Lopez and Kyrie. Sounds simple enough to do, right?

  23. Manny,

    I think it’s because of the Lakers’ personnel and because of the hype surrounding this draft. On the first point, Chris Kaman, Pau Gasol, and Steve Blake, and to a lesser extent Nick Young, who turns 29 in June, are not really the kinds of guys you keep around/add when you are in a full rebuild, unless one believes, as a few do, that the Lakers FO was just faking people out–trying to look they were trying to compete when they weren’t. But these players are basically guys whom you keep around/add to try to win a few extra games.

    One reason analysts were so down on the Lakers heading into the season was that they felt the team had been constructed to win about 35 games. Going with some short-term moves to try to make the playoffs, like Washington and Minnesota are doing, is reasonable. Stripping down to get a higher pick, like Philadelphia and Utah are doing, is reasonable. But some people feel that the Lakers have stuck themselves in a no-man’s land between those two approaches. Also, Washington and Minnesota have some young, high-level talent. The Lakers don’t.

    As to the second point, there are 6-7 guys in this draft–Wiggins, Parker, Embiid, Smart, Randle, Exum–whom draftniks see as future All-Stars and there is a chance that 1-3 of them might be transcendent stars. If the Lakers go 35-47, pick about 11th, and miss out on one of those guys because Nick Young blew up and won a couple of games for them, or because Chris Kaman put up a couple of 20/10s that turned a couple of Ls into Ws–well, that might not be a good thing.

    That is why there are a few fans, including a couple of the writers at SSR, who believe that the losses to Philadelphia and Utah are actually positive developments.

  24. darius: so unless we had a confidant in the form of a fly on the wall, here’s guessing the meeting between gm kupchak and coach dantoni was more about player playing time and less about job security and/or a combination of both. i mean one goes thru the trouble of recruiting chris kaman; for what? to ride the bench ? to make excuses that his pinkie toe is on fire?? what gives should have and probably was topic one between the two last night. same goes for that new point guard they signed up the other day, what’s his name. probably just a reminder that we went thru the trouble to sign him for the just in case happens (another injured point guard) to use him for the forseeable future because we are weeks away before steve blake comes back and to entertain the idea when kobe comes back that he not have to play point guard again…..and again….and again. probably was phrased moreso like a pep talk than an actual admonishment. after all, coach dantoni’s hiring was based in part on a recommendation of current number uno, boss of basketball operations for our los angeles lakers:

    coach, we’re you behind 100 percent, anytime you need to talk to us, feel free, we support you………….

    and the cold chill went walking into the night.

    Happy new year to all

    Go Lakers

  25. MannyP A couple stats just for fun, and to demonstrate that I spend too much time on this. In the 67 years of league history, 34 of the 67 coaching rings have been won by guys who also won rings as a player. That’s pretty impressive. Further, 20 rings have been won by guys who played for the same team (Pat Riley for example account for 4 of these). That is something to think about. And also why Shaw and B Scott have always been on my list.
    P. Ami: “I would have issues with Thibs, as the guy just grinds his players to the bone. ” I mean can we get any worse in this area? Everyone is injured and we are talking about sausage.
    “we might want to find a better tactical mind to run the team” What are you implying? This statement pretty much trashes 3 guys in one sentence. Well played.

  26. David H,
    Yes and no. My guess is that they discussed the potential need to make another roster move if Henry ends up having to miss time with his knee injury. The Lakers are so thin on the wing and with Blake not due back for another few weeks, not having that secondary ball handler (outside of Marshall) may require another move. Again though, as you noted, we’ll likely never know what was discussed.

  27. Firing D’Antoni now would be ridiculous, and while I make no claim to insider info, I would be very surprised if the conversation dealt with that at all. My guess is that they were discussing whether they should still try for postseason or start looking at some small deals and/or seeing about finding a taker for Pau.

  28. Robert, you can always get worse in the area of injuries. Chicago may be an example. I respect the defensive system that Thibs developed. I respect the way he gets players to play for him, and getting bad defenders to play their part in a great defensive system. I can’t say that Thibs had anything to do with why Rose is injured. I don’t mean to imply that. I don’t know that he has anything to do with Deng or Noah. Guys get injured. I do know there is a basic wisdom that successful head-coaches have all shown in terms of how their team approaches the season and the ability to gear up for the playoffs. Thibs’ teams seem to be playing playoff basketball all season long, with attendant short rotation. As a result, when the playoffs do come around, Chicago has looked incapable of shifting to a higher gear. That is my criticism of Thibs.

    Dang, I didn’t mean to leave that last sentence in my last comment so open for interpretation. To be fair, I think Kupchek is a fantastic GM. I’m not sure about Jim’s leadership but still give him some BOTD. MDA has shown significant tactical flaws, if his goal is winning games.

  29. It is a real hit piece, which is very uncharacteristic of McMenamin.

  30. rr,
    Both McMenamin and Ding wrote about Pau missing games lately and both went in on him pretty good. Leads me to believe there’s a sense around the team that Pau should be playing but no one is really saying it. Both guys are too respected to take the stance they did without there being some fire behind the smoke.

  31. Meetings between coach and GM should be commonplace.

    I assume that losing five straight games (despite our injuries) especially to teams such as Utah and Philly, SHOULD generate some conversation.
    Kupchak may be simply asking Dantoni:
    1. if a roster move were possible, where do feel we need the most help?
    2. And, what do you think we need to do differently to start winning some games?

    Once he’s heard Dantonti’s thoughts, I trust that Mitch voices his own opinions.
    I’m sure that Kupchak feels that although the team is injury-ravaged, some of these games are very winnable. The Laker organization wants to win–especially since Kobe will return this season and he will put forth another effort to will the team to the playoffs to the best of his ability.
    I also hope that Kupchak would broach the topic of playing time for players like Kaman, whom the team is paying more than its other one-year players.

    I do NOT believe any conversations about tanking take place between a coach and a GM, at least not with the Lakers.

    The Lakers are too proud an organization, despite the current turbulence, to discuss such a thing with a coach who is paid to win games and uphold the Laker brand.

  32. Yeah, Ding’s piece was even rougher than McMenamin’s, although that is the BR culture.

    Pau is going to play against Milwaukee.

  33. Robert – I do not agree with the rings as a player=great coach argument. Just remember that Andrew Bynum, Slava, the Machine, Magic Johnson, MJ23 and countless others all have rings and yet probably have no business coaching anyone in the NBA.

    Anyway, going back to B Scott, he started off very strong, but has not really done much or proven much in the last 4 years. Granted, he’s had bad teams so one can’t really blame him entirely. I guess my observation really comes down to gut-feel more than anything else. Not really very scientific, but its all I got.

  34. MannyP: Winning a player ring does not make you a coach, but based on the stats, with the given that you are a coach, you are probably a better one if you had success as a player. Think about it: 34 of 67 rings were for the players with rings, and if you add Kundla, Auerbach, and Pop, you are now up to 52 out 67. That leaves less than 1/4 for the others. That is the odds you are up against with a Mike Brown or a Mike D’Antoni. Finding the next Pop or the next Chuck Daly is about as likely as finding an All Star in the second round. B Scott: Well I am down to my third choice now that we let PJ and Shaw opportunities go by. Lionel Hollins is another possibility.
    Pau: This type of stuff is to be expected if losses mount. All this stuff about scrappiness and fighting for each other goes out the window and it is every man for himself. If I were Pau’s agent, I would realize that he already has decreased in value, and for the rest of his time with the LAL, there is more downside than upside. While I do not think the Lakers should trade him, if I were Pau, I would want a trade, and if not, coasting out the year in neutral and getting healthy is not a bad back up plan.

  35. I agree completely with the previous statement, Pau hasn’t been done any favors by the Lakers or front office, he is consistently the scape goat even after 3 straight finals appearances and two titles something the lakers did easier than the heatles even after sucker punching the league teaming up. Pau has every right to treat the organization how he sees fit including D’antoni and doesn’t owe a single guy in that locker room anything. Don’t worry he’s already paid the lakers paid with his jersey sales and production 4 years ago. Ding and Mcmenamin are just two journalist trying to get attention who knows, maybe jim buss slipped em a grand to try to call out Pau, the most liked professional in the world. Bottom line, HE IS SICK, AND if he wasn’t, he shouldn’t play because he probably knows the lakers are actively trying to trade him…..and that gets old.