Week At A Glance

Andre Khatchaturian —  January 4, 2014

The Lakers wasted a tremendous opportunity this week to get back on track. They had two games against Utah and one each against Philadelphia and Milwaukee but they were only able to muster one win.

The loss against the Bucks essentially showed the country why pundits and Vegas had predicted the Lakers to have a win total in the low 30s this year. I don’t care how many injuries a team has – going down 14-0 in the first six minutes against the league’s worst team at home is inexcusable.

And the loss against the Sixers? That was a team who had just one road win all season and was suffering a 13-game road losing streak. Instead, the Lakers made Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young look like All-Stars in the loss.

The Lakers could have won 45 games this year and made the playoffs, but let’s be honest – these injuries haven’t helped at all. The Lakers used their sixth starting point guard in Friday’s win against the Jazz. The effort has been there, too. Guys like Ryan Kelly, Robert Sacre, Kendall Marshall, Jordan Hill, and Xavier Henry have been doing their best all season long.

But that effort went away momentarily in the losses against the Jazz, Sixers, and Bucks. Those are games that can be won with effort alone. If the Lakers put the same energy they did in the Heat loss on Christmas, they would’ve been able to win.

In the Sixers loss, the Lakers outrebounded Philadelphia and held the Sixers to just 41 percent shooting. However, the Purple and Gold shot just 36 percent. They took 37 threes and made only 12 of them. They didn’t work hard to get good quality shots. They just bombed threes and missed them.

Then on New Years’ Eve, the Lakers were outrebounded by the Bucks, 51-39, and once again shot just 36 percent. Mike D’Antoni’s seeming disdain for Jordan Hill continued in that game as he only played him 11 minutes. That might explain why they were outrebounded by the fifth worst rebounding team in the league.

The Lakers finally woke up against the Jazz last night, though. Pau Gasol had a monstrous performance amidst the trade rumors of him going to Cleveland and Kendall Marshall became the newest point guard to elevate his stats under Mike D’Antoni. And let’s not act like he’s the next Magic Johnson – the Lakers were playing the Jazz. Nonetheless, it was an admirable performance by a guy who went from starting in the D-League to starting for the Lakers in less than a month.

The Lakers may have snapped their six-game losing streak this week, but now stand at 14-19 with a brutal schedule ahead. Kobe isn’t coming back anytime soon and Gasol’s days may be numbered. They need those two to make any type of run.

The rest of the Lakers season essentially becomes Survivor: Lakers Edition. Those who play hard, have a shot of staying with the team next year. Right now, guys like Hill, Farmar, and Henry have to like their chances of being wanted to stay in LA – that is unless of course they get contracts from elsewhere.

The biggest audition is Mr. D’Antoni’s. The proponents of #TankCity fail to understand that D’Antoni can’t afford to tank a whole season in favor of a draft pick. If the Lakers are bottom feeders and he loses his job, what good does a top five pick do him? He might as well have a gun to his head right now and the clock is ticking. D’Antoni needs to prove that he could at least coach this team to a .500 record. The more he wins with this roster, the more leverage he gains and the higher the chances are of him coaching the Lakers next year.

Maybe that’s why he played Marshall over 40 minutes in the win against the Jazz. His biggest strength is elevating point guards. Now that he saw what Marshall can do in a small sample, he’s hoping he can ride him to victory and a chance to coach next year.

Screen Shot 2014 01 04 at 4.35.56 PM

This is a list of point guards that played under D’Antoni before he joined the Lakers. All of them had better numbers with Mike at the helm. A few of them (Lin, Nash, i.e) had their best years with D’Antoni. So last night’s performance was no surprise. It would’ve been a surprise if we saw the Lakers allow fewer than 80 points a game for a five game stretch with D’Antoni as coach. But point guards elevating their game? Been there, done that.

The Lakers won’t be playing against cupcakes much longer. After a home affair against the Nuggets, they play three “road” games in four nights. Tuesday and Wednesday features a Texas two-step at the Mavs and Rockets. Then, the team returns to Staples Center to play a road game against the Clippers on Friday.

Andre Khatchaturian

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26 responses to Week At A Glance

  1. Andre: Not pulling any punches whatsoever – nice !
    “Mike D’Antoni’s seeming disdain for Jordan Hill ” Indeed
    “D’Antoni needs to prove that he could at least coach this team to a .500 record. ” I posted a while ago that the line of employment was 40. If you want to raise that to 41 – so be it : )
    “The proponents of #TankCity “: Take a visit over to SSR. They are fighting the Battle of the Bulge over there : )

  2. @Robert
    MDA doesn’t need to get to 40 wins to avoid the axe. Not with all the injuries that this squad has endured. That’s a pipe dream my friend. Get used to him being here for a while.

  3. Oh Man, looks like Pau is gone tomorrow…

    Bynum-Gasol trade news is back…

  4. yeah – don’t get the “MDA could be in trouble” take. Injuries to Nash/kobe et al have derailed his first two seasons, he’ll be given a chance to see what he can do with a better tailored/healthier squad next season.

    http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/10244821/los-angeles-lakers-cleveland-cavaliers-make-progress-andrew-byum-deal

    All the drama could be over tomorrow – Lakers need to pull the trigger and get moving forward to the future.

  5. If we cant sign Pau to a new favorable contract, or he doesn’t want to be here (mentioned returning to Memphis to play w/ Marc) any longer are all issues that would be extinguished with such a deal w/ CLE.

    Next year is another year and we are still one of the teams that COULD sign him back but there’s no more pressure to do so. We are free to explore the people we want to pursue as well as get rid of his 20 million cap hold.

    The move is a move forward in terms of the organization however little Pau brings back hypohetically.

  6. The move is also exposing the FO by showing their true intentions.

    Appear to be trying to win while all the time the plan was to save as much money as possible and not make the playoffs.

    Not disagreeing but don ‘t like to be tricked into buying full price season tickets to a 35 win team.

  7. Ramona Shelburne
    Follow
    Lakers vehemently deny Pau trade is done. Vehemently deny. Aren’t budging from stance that they want asset for Gasol

    @stephenasmith Pau/Bynum done per league source. Will happen Sunday. Lakers not getting a first rounder. Likely getting a 2nd.

    Marc Stein
    Follow
    Cavs would love to get deal done Sunday. But NOT there yet. Lakers still looking for extra asset + Pau-for-Bynum alone doesn’t work cap-wise

  8. @annonymous: i would not see this move as showing true intentions, but rather adapting to unexpected circumstances. I don’t think anyone out there believes that pau would be traded if this team was healthy and locked into one of the playoff spots. Unfortunately, the way this season has gone for us it seems that missing the playoffs is reality with or without pau. It would be smart to unload him to avoid the tax. Even smarter if the lakers can get the cavs to sign off a bigger deal and acquire dion waiters in return

  9. This would be great. Now would MDA be forced to play J-Hill? I guess not, not in his world.

  10. -ESPN’s B-Ball Experts predicting the Lakers would finish 12th in the West and Kobe being the 25th best player in the league this year isn’t looking as crazy as many Laker fans thought.

    -If Gasol doesn’t suit up for tonight’s game, the next time Gasol will receive unconditional love from all Laker fans will be on the night his #16 goes up in the rafters.

    -If the Lakers make the Gasol trade, and then waive Bynum, is there really any reason to bring Kobe back this season? Unless they believe bringing him back would actually improve their lottery chances.

    -MDA will be the Lakers coach next season…his last.

  11. Big City Sid,

    Regardless of what happens to Pau, he will always be a Laker to me. He has always been. Part of the reason why I like to trade Pau is for his own job security (next contract) and a place where he can succeed.

  12. “.. and Kendall Marshall became the newest point guard to elevate his stats under Mike D’Antoni. And let’s not act like he’s the next Magic Johnson .. His biggest strength is elevating point guards.”

    Well said and good post Andre. Especially as it pertains to Kendall Marshall and how most PG’s flourish under D’Antoni’s system.

    Could it be possible that Friday’s victory against the Jazz will go down as the last game in which Pau sported the FB&G?

    Lesha,
    Dion Waiters? Doubt it, especially now with Kyrie experiencing knee issues. But if Mitch was able to pull off such a heist, like you, I believe that it would be a late Christmas gift that no Laker fan would refuse.

  13. KenOak: What I want to happen, what I think will happen, and what will happen, are 3 entirely different things : ) My reference to 40 wins was made very early in the year, in response to a post that stated that MD would clearly deserve another year if we won 50 games.
    jerke: I was responding to Andre’s reference to going 500. As I have stated many times, I do not think the record, good or bad should be relevant to MD’s job security. The question is what we want to do (not clear) and whether he is a positive influence towards obtaining players. “he’ll be given a chance to see what he can do with a better tailored/healthier squad next season. ” This was exactly what was said by many at the end of last year – almost literally. We are not even 1/2 way through the season and the free ride into year 3 is already being issued? I am not even ready to can him (pending our plan for next year).
    BigCity: Well – the Lakers are what they are. Many saw a team that was going to overachieve this year, but most of those people have now joined what Andre calls #TankCity above. With regard to Kobe – at this point, he would obviously be far lower than 25th (not in potential but in actual results so far). I do not think a grade on Kobe is fair at this point, just like some do not think a grade on MD is fair. That said – I try to look at things objectively and I was not in favor of the timing of or the amount of the extension. In other words, personal preferences may or may not coincide with what is best for results. I like watching Kobe, but was his extension good for our future results? Some like watching up tempo/fun, but is that what is best for our future results?

  14. Well here is my issue.

    Lakers got nothing for Dwight.

    They are about to get little or nothing for Pau

    Lakers gave up 2 draft choices for Nash which turns put to be close to nothing.

    As a business owner I try to have a plan B and even a plan C.

    Kind of looks like Lakers didn’t have a plan A.

    How many people will pay full price to see a lineup of Sacra, Williams, Young, Meeks and Marshall? Would you Robert, Rr, Lil Pau, Fern, Mid, CHearn etc.

    Lakers don’t beat Utah Friday without Pau and would be 7 in a row. Is saving $20 million now more important then the fans hope the rest of this year?

    I am just not sure.

  15. rr: Please comment on this: “If the Lakers make the Gasol trade, and then waive Bynum, is there really any reason to bring Kobe back this season?” My response to Sid at this point would be: Yes – we need Kobe back as soon as possible. He is fun to watch and he will break more records. Now – if someone is looking at this strictly from a Laker results standpoint – what is the response, and why is it a different discussion in the Spring or the Fall (for discussion purposes, presume that Kobe is ready to play in February)? I think this is a very relevant discussion in that I think many will be calling for Kobe to sit the year, while not considering the overall philosophical implications of the statement.

  16. Ko – if the FO is confident that they can make the right moves with the cap space they have and get a decent player in the draft then yes rolling out that lineup is necessary. Look I agree that fans and TWC would want it different. What the FO has to balance is being really bad for a short time and pissing some folks off or being mediocre for a long while and passifying those same folks. The reality is that if you are mediocre for long you end up pissing everyone off.

  17. KO – while that lineup may be awful (it likely will be) there’s really no other way to do this. With the restrictions of the CBA you have to virtually hit bottom before you ca rebuild.

    The other option is for the FO to be constantly trading older or less useful assets for young ones or cap space in an effort to stay flexible. The FO did that with the Gasol/Paul and Bynum/Howard deals. Those were brilliant moves they just didn’t work out.

  18. @Robert Everyone knows that the reason people were upset about that “ranking” is that ESPN suddenly changed the way players were ranked from -what they did the prior season -> to what are they going to do in the upcoming season. They most likely changed it just to create the uproar that it did. It’s what they do.

    As to Kobe coming back? He’ll be back because this franchise needs him. Without Kobe in the lineup we get dropped from nationally televised games. That’s pretty embarrassing for a franchise as hallowed as our Lakers. With Kobe they will most likely be back in the limelight, if for no other reason than he’s chasing history. BTW. If Kobe comes back fully healthy and the team can’t figure out how to be better…I would make the claim that it’s the failing of the head coach for not figuring out how to use his best player.

  19. Ko, I see it differently. Plan A: CP3, DH, Pau, Kobe. Plan B: Nash, DH, Pau, Kobe. Plan C: Pau, Kobe, and a bunch of likable overachievers like Wes, Young and Henry, even a resurrected Steve Blake. Plan D: When everybody went down with injuries, accept that nothing is happening this year, so get under the luxury tax, so we can go after 1 or 2 huge stars over the next two years.

    Plan A was perfect, and sabotaged. Plan B is more debatable, depending on whether or not you feel that the Lakers should have had a better sense of Nash’s fragility. I’m assuming Nash looked good on his physicals, and the Lakers just got really unlucky here. Also, the DH/Kobe feud isn’t the FO’s fault. I understand how others might feel differently, that the Lakers should have seen these problems coming.

    Plan C was making the best of a terrible situation, and doing a pretty good job of it. Plan D is taking accurate stock of where we are and trying to clear the books to become vital again as soon as possible. The crazy thing is I was really enjoying this Plan C borderline-playoff version of the Lakers, before the whole team went down with injuries and the Lakers had to run out a D-League team. Plan ‘D’, indeed.

  20. Trading Pau to get some young talent is acceptable. But trading Pau to save 20 million is not a smart business move. Lakers as a team has brand value. You don’t give Pau away to save 20 million, and then allienate possibly the largest spanish speaking basketball fan base for your team.

  21. I mostly agree with lil Pau, except Plan C was “Hope Howard stays anyway.” He didn’t, so this year started on Plan D and if they do move Pau, we are officially on Plan E: try to get a higher pick.

    Robert,

    As I said via email when Kobe went down with the team at 12-13, I saw little long-term upside to bringing him back. If the people who saw the team as a “fun” 45-win band of overachievers headed for a 7 or 8 seed were right, then bringing him back to take away playing time from guys who had gotten the team into the playoff race wouldn’t be a great idea. If the team hit the wall, and the people who saw the team as a 34-win low lottery pick team were right, then bringing him back and maybe seeing the team win a couple of games that they would not have won without him wouldn’t be a great idea. I think some people, including maybe the FO, think the team’s true level absent injuries is the former, even now.

    But either way, if they basically dump Pau’s salary for tax relief and a 2nd-rounder, than that is a clear signal that they are not trying to make postseason, which would seem to encourage Kobe sitting out the year. That noted, with his extension, you could also argue that they need to get him back in there so he can work on his role and his timing etc.

    In any case, I expect that he will take plenty of time getting back and ease into it more this go-round, but we will see him out there again before the season is over.

  22. I’ve been a Laker fan since the late 60’s but I’m still fairly new to FB&G.
    Just wanna go on record and say that this site is by far the best of its kind.
    The posts & comments here are consistently thought-provoking, sophisticated, and entertaining.
    Checking in several times daily has now become part of my day.
    Thanks to Darius and all of you here for enhancing my personal Laker experience!

  23. Thanks for the feedback above. I know you all are right it’s just hard to swallow. If they get some player value for Pau ok but if it’s just a money move it’s tough to take.

  24. Under the new CBA, money move equals value.

  25. I am opposed to trading Gasol to save 20 million and net only a 2nd round pick. I don’t care how deep this draft is supposed to be there are too many misses on 2nd round draft picks. Let’s review the list I posted a few days ago about the Lakers history of draft picks since 2000:
    NAME YEAR PICK
    Mark Madsen 2000 29th
    Chris Jeffries 2002 27th
    Brian Cook 2003 24th
    Luke Walton 32nd
    Sasha Vujacic 2004 27th
    Marcus Douthit 56th
    Andrew Bynum 2005 10th
    Ronny Turiaf 37th
    Von Wafer 39th
    Jordan Farmar 2006 26th
    Cheikh Samb 51st
    Javaris Crittendon 2007 19th
    Sun Yue 40th
    Marc Gasol 48th
    Joe Crawford 2008 58th
    Toney Douglas 2009 29th
    Patrick Beverley 42nd
    Chinemelu Elonu 59th
    Devin Ebanks 2010 43rd
    Derrick Caracter 58th
    Darius Morris 2011 41st
    Andrew Goudelock 46th
    Chuckwudiebere Maduabum 56th
    Ater Majok 58th
    Robert Sacre 2012 60th
    Ryan Kelly 2013 48th

    Pau should stay for the remainder of this season, and if he is not amenable to a reduced salary, let him walk this summer. Or just maybe he’ll post good stats this year and another team can be bated into taking him for assets. At this juncture, the Lakers need assets and not cash, as they have plenty of one but meager moveable player’s.
    Why not trade or cut Steve Nash, that move alone should get the Lakers under the tax barrier.

    Pau plus Kobe will net a reinstatement of national games; neither Pau alone nor Kobe alone (due to injuries) will warrant such an addition.

    @5D2 valid points.

    @KO, I’d pay a reduced price to see Lakers games with that lineup on the floor. Once again I’d pay Yugo prices and not top of the line Mercedes Benz prices for those games or merchandise. In marketing, negative WOM (word of mouth) is the thing that a brand avoids at all costs, because a brand manager knows that it is easier to retain a customer than it is to bring one back to the brand/product. If the Lakers think the Hollywood crowd will continue to pay for that product then it will definitely be sad to see the crowd that Jerry Buss coveted jump down the hall to the Clippers. Those Hollywood Night jerseys would become laughing stock.

    In regards to Kobe shutting it down for the year. You don’t know Kobe if you think he’ll not play for any reason other than health. Besides @Robert, et.al., will not survive a full season with out Kobe Alerts!

    While it may be true that the Lakers had plans, A, B, C, D and even E in place, quality management are able to make adjustments on the fly.
    Now that’s the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of the once Magnificent Lakers. (Sorry for the reference but at present I’m watching these Westerns.)

  26. The value of getting under the Luxury cap this year and next – as opposed to next year and the following year – may very well move forward the day we can compete for a championship more than one year, i.e. the free agents between now and 2016 will be more available to us and desiring to make LA their destination of choice. If there is no other reason to move Pau, this may still qualify as a sound business decision. Of course, we must be able to use this fact to garner those free agents – that is what a lot of this site is discussing now.