Don’t Call it a Tank

Daniel Rapaport —  February 17, 2014

This season has been a nightmare. There’s simply no denying that. The Lakers come out of the All-Star break at 18-35 and have a better record than exactly three other teams. The injury bug has taken the form of a tarantula who’s robbed the team of any opportunity to develop anything resembling a rhythm (when you’re without five of your top six scorers for multiple games, building chemistry on the court isn’t realistic). To put it bluntly, it’s the worst season in recent memory for the purple and gold.

From a purely basketball perspective, the most beneficial move for the future of the franchise would be to tank the rest of the season in hopes of landing a top-3 pick (Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins of Kansas, as well as Jabari Parker of Duke are considered by scouts to be capable of turning a franchise around quickly). Holding Kobe out for the rest of the season makes sense; the team has gone 5-22 in their past 27 games and have shown no signs of being able to put together a winning streak.

That’s why it’s easy for those who don’t watch this Lakers squad to diagnose them as tankers. Kobe’s been out much longer than he expected, and the Lakers recent form suggests a conscious shift from trying to sneak into the playoff picture to trying to sneak into a top pick. But for those of us who watch this team on a nightly basis, it’s remarkably clear that this team isn’t tanking. Not one bit.

I’m proud of this squad. Sure, their record is bad, but they’re significantly outmatched talent-wise on each and every night (except when they play the Bucks, the most difficult NBA team to watch that I can remember). When you watch them play, you can’t help but root for them – and root hard. They fight, they battle, they play with pride – something last year’s team was incapable of. For all the crap head coach Mike D’Antoni has taken from fans, I can’t imagine any coach getting much more out of this group.

Last Thursday’s game against Oklahoma City is perfect evidence as to just how wrong it is to say that this team is tanking. The Thunder came into the game having won 20 of their last 27. Kevin Durant has been nothing short of sensational this season and all signs point to him winning his first MVP in a few months. The Lakers, on the other hand, had eight available players. Eight.

It would have been the perfect opportunity for a tanking team to pack it in and try and head to the all-star break without any additional injuries. Well, that’s not what happened. The Lakers played inspired and incredibly hard, and it took a 35-21 fourth quarter for OKC to finish with its nose ahead. Both coaches’ quotes from after the game are telling as to the identity of this Lakers squad.

“I thought the effort was terrific,” D’Antoni said. “They battled the whole game.”

It’s been a common theme this year. The team just doesn’t have one ounce of quit in them. Sure, it’s important to remember that D’Antoni wants to keep his job and is in the business of justifying losses. But for a coach of an 18-35 team, he’s been unusually proud of his team and has voiced that opinion often. That’s because he knows what everyone should know by now: it’s simply not feasible for the team that the Lakers put on the floor tonight to win more games than they lose in today’s NBA.

“When you play against an NBA team that’s prideful like the Lakers, they’re going to have a good game,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said after Thursday’s game.

Prideful. Sound like a team that’s tanking?

Look, I’m not sure tanking even exists in the NBA. It’s a weird notion, isn’t it? That players would try less than their hardest so that their team can lose more games and reward the players who took part in the tanking effort by replacing the with new top-draft picks? Imagine this scenario: at the end of every year, your office participates in a draft for new talent where the order is determined by the profits your company makes. Your company has been struggling in recent years and believes the only way it can return to past glory is by reloading with fresh, young faces. Would your natural reaction be to participate in the tanking effort? Wouldn’t your competitive nature kick in, prompting you to want to prove your worth so you can survive the rebuild?

The vast majority of this Lakers squad is only guaranteed one year in purple and gold. The Nick Youngs and Wesley Johnsons of the world aren’t in the business of helping the organization acquire Andrew Wiggins. They’re in the business of showing the Lakers’ (and other NBA teams’) front office that they are valuable contributors who warrant playing time in the NBA.

Some have pointed to the Lakers’ lack of in-season personnel moves as evidence that the team prefers losses to wins. While it’s true that Mitch Kupchak has been relatively inactive this season, it’s important to remember that this season is distinctly different. In the past, there’s been an emphasis on winning, and winning now. Keeping that same mentality wouldn’t be smart from a basketball or a financial point of view. This past offseason, the front office assembled a team of rentals that, when fully healthy, are probably good enough to be in the hunt for one of the final playoff spots. The team hasn’t been healthy all year, so it’s easy (and convenient) to point to the roster and say “hey, this team is designed to lose.” But that’s simply not so.

If the Lakers really wanted to tank this season, they would have traded Pau Gasol already. It’s as simple as that. They’d have shipped him to Cleveland for a package that would have provided additional financial flexibility, but wouldn’t be worth what an aging Pau still has left to offer. That would really bottom the Lakers out and turn them into one of the worst teams in the league even when fully healthy. But that’s not the Laker way.

This team has given us plenty to be proud of. Their record just isn’t one of those things. But to say that they’re tanking is an insult to the team’s effort and to an organization that has as much pride as the Lakers do.

Daniel Rapaport

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86 responses to Don’t Call it a Tank

  1. I haven’t heard anyone credible say the Lakers are tanking. Tanking is a notion that some fans embrace because it makes them feel better about their team losing. It gives a positive spin and purpose to losing. It’s an inevitable consequence of the lottery, a whiz-bang flashy event where a losing team can be the spectacular winner. In this age of fantasy leagues and armchair GMs, many fans seem to be more interested in team building and less connected to the blood and sweat of the game they’re watching on the floor. Of course, players don’t tank. That’s nonsense. Yet, regardless of how the draft works in any particular sport, franchises do make decisions based on where their team is, and where they want to go.

    The Lakers have been up and down this season. They consistently lose, but they go through stretches where their confidence and effort is good to poor. D’Antoni’s a nice guy who gives players a lot of confidence and freedom offensively. But it’s also a system that leads to a lot of discouraging games defensively and on the boards. It was wrong for Howard. Wrong for Pau. It’s run Kobe and the team into the ground. But I think it’s the game the Lakers want, and over the coming years of struggle, they’ll try to build that exciting uptempo team that can win. One that will come up short against teams that demand defense, rebounding, and toughness.

  2. Tank or no tank if they get nothing for Pau like the got for Dwight then the question becomes basketball IQ.

    Good writing as usual.

  3. well written post
    in case any of you haven’t seen this, Kupchak has explained the team’s approach:

    Kupchak: I’ve been here over 30 years, and it’s never something that’s been discussed or talked about. When we go into every season – like most organizations – we’re excited about the season and think we can win a lot of games. Expectations vary, of course, but we are always going to do the best to win games that year, while also thinking about the following year. There is no way to believe that a team would, on purpose, do a terrible job in the summer and a terrible job in the draft because they want to lose games the next season. Now, I’m sure once the season begins and things go or don’t go your way, the speculation as to what may happen if things continue may arise. We’ve been through years like that, and there’s never been a discussion in midseason in this building where ownership would say, “It’s best to lose.” That’s never taken place. Now, I don’t even know how you convey that message to the coach if it were the goal. Coaches are defined by their record; it’s intuitive that they do not want to lose. It’s inconceivable to me that a general manager would try to convey that message to anybody. So it’s never happened here and it never will. It’s the worst message you can ever give to anybody.

  4. rfen: “One that will come up short against teams that demand defense, rebounding, and toughness.” So we are striving to have an exciting team that will never win the title? : ) Does not sound like Showtime to me : )
    Tanking: The team on the floor should not and is not tanking. It is beneath the Lakers and I do not think we should or are doing it. The FO can tank legitimately (call it what you will), if they make deals that make us worse in the short run and better in the long run. They have not really done that yet. The Kobe extension and the Nash deals did just the opposite. If they trade decent players for picks and/or space, that is what I understand when I hear the word “tank”. The key to tanking is to not put yourself in the position where tanking makes sense. If you are in that position, you are in bad place, if losing more games is your only solid way out.

  5. Most people don’t really take the time to define, or think about, what is meant by “tanking.” IMO, It doesn’t actually mean:

    1. The guys who are suited up not trying as hard as they can.
    2. Guys deliberately doing stuff like missing shots–that would be “throwing games.”

    What it means is engaging in roster and perhaps game strategies that will probably lead to fewer wins now but might lead to more wins later.

    No one that I have seen, here at least, has implied, or suggested, that the guys suiting up every night do not or should not try as hard as they can. I have seen it joked about. People have pointed out–correctly–that the Lakers will not really gain anything by trying to go 32-50 rather than 26-56, and perhaps could lose something very important by doing so.

  6. If the team cant arguably do better than they have been doing with the players they have, no one can say they are tanking. The players simply arent that good and our better players are hurt all the time. Its a blessing actually as even fully healthy, we were an 8 seed at best a first round out.

    Ill take the losing for a top pick. Its like San Antonio and Duncan all over again. Hopefully Kobe sits out the rest of the year and if Pau not traded, he needs to be resigned and sit out the rest of the year. With a top three pick and full health, this team turns around quick.

  7. Regardless of what you want to call it, least everyone forgets, after all is said and done, Lakers are only a little worst than they were predicted to be in preseason. 12th place in the West in case anyone forgot. 12th place w/ Kobe, 15th place w/o…big difference this year: no. Can it make a big difference for next season…YES!!!

  8. So i guess trading Jordan Hill to the Nets for peanuts isn’t tanking. Yep.

  9. Let’s say the Lakers finish with the 3rd worst record in the NBA. There is still a good chance they will have the 4th, 5th, or 6th pick in the next draft. In this draft the 6th pick is a distance from the 3rd pick.

    If we have the 5th worst record, there is a chance we will pick 6th, 7th, or 8th and there is a bigger difference between the 5th pick and the 8th pick.

    What I am trying to say is the draft is a crap-shoot, both in where you will pick and what that pick will become. For a winning organization, with a desirable destination, hoping to lose to get a higher draft pick simply doesn’t make any sense.

  10. With all due respect to Daniel- that isn’t what anyone has ever said that this team is doing by tanking. Tanking can absolutely happen while every single available player gives everything they have on the court. The FO can make moves that prompt tanking without telling its players that they should pack it in. They can also do this without specifically telling media and fans that they’re tanking. Shopping their second best player for a pick and a player that’s injured is “tanking.” It means that you’re not trying to put your best lineup on the floor that is capable of the most wins. Sure trading that #2 player may be what’s best for the team in the future, but it isn’t trying to get the most wins as possible.

    rr says it best: Most people don’t really take the time to define, or think about, what is meant by “tanking.” IMO, It doesn’t actually mean:

    1. The guys who are suited up not trying as hard as they can.
    2. Guys deliberately doing stuff like missing shots–that would be “throwing games.”

    What it means is engaging in roster and perhaps game strategies that will probably lead to fewer wins now but might lead to more wins later.

    I’ve never heard Darius utter the words “I think the Lakers are tanking,” but he has said “I don’t understand why MDA is playing lineup XYZ.”

    We’ll be able to tell what’s what within the next few days though. And the argument that Pau would already be gone is kind of a moot point because he hasn’t been playing for the last couple weeks anyway and I would make the claim that the FO wanted to maximize his value as much as possible…

  11. KenOak: “I don’t understand why MDA is playing lineup XYZ.” I have see a number of people on this site and others make statements like, We must be tanking – why is MD doing this or why is he not doing that? I have never said any of that and strongly disagree with it.. The reasons why MD does those things is because he thinks that is what will make us have the best chance to win. If you think otherwise, that is a different discussion : )

  12. I think most of us can agree that the coaches and players do not intentionally ‘tank’. Perhaps you think MDA is a terrible coach and that is the reason for lineup XYZ, but it is not because he is trying to lose.

    The only real argument is whether the FO is trying to ‘tank’ by making trades or roster decisions that would result in short term losses. As I mentioned above, IMO the FO will not make decisions to increase the number of ‘ping pong balls’. I do, however, think we would do something like trade Jordan Hill, if we could accomplish something that will give the organization better long term results, i.e. get below the Luxury Tax line this year so we would be able to exceed it in 2015/16, if needed. I don’t believe we would trade someone like Jordan Hill to only partially accomplish this goal – that would not accomplish anything, except allow MDA not to have to play Jordan any more this year.

  13. If Hill goes and William’s was not resigned yesterday who will play power forward?

    Jelly Kelly and Curt Rambis?

    Tell me that is not tanking!

  14. @Craig W. That is the very definition of tanking. Putting a losing team on the floor *now* in order to get a better team *later* is “tanking.” We’ll find out if this is the case by the deadline.

    Also, it is totally possible for the FO to go to D’Antoni with a request like, “play our younger players, so that we can see what they’re capable of if we happen to trade Hill, Pau, or Kaman.”
    Again, if it costs you wins in the present in order to possibly get better in the future then it is a sort of “tanking.”

    For the record. I don’t believe the FO went into this season with that in mind, but with the ridiculous rash of injuries and the competitiveness of the Western Conference, AND the incredible awesomeness of the top 4 players coming out this year….well finishing 9th in the West doesn’t make much sense.

  15. The intent was never tanking but the tank arrived by itself with this injury epidemic, i read elswhere about Hill to the Nets for a trade exception.

  16. They’re not tanking because everybody on this team is fighting for a career. They wouldn’t jeopardize that to do the team a favor.

  17. Yea Fern because Kelly is by far a better rebounder and this team is rebounding monsters. Who needs the best rebounder per minute played.

  18. Under the CBA, there’s no way for a franchise to be consistently good. To be consistently bad is a possibility if management is awful enough, but not consistently good. As a result, it is natural and even proper for teams to think in terms of ‘windows’ of competitiveness. I think the Lakers really thought they could be a championship contending team last year before the veto, injuries and disharmony ruined the season. This year, MDA did a great job early on and it looked for a brief moment (10-11 or so with Kobe due to return) like the team could be a ‘step away’, meaning we could make the playoffs this year and be one big off-season acquisition away (or one big, one medium) from competing for a ring next year. That was a long time ago… So where are we now? Is our window in the next three seasons, trying to get Kobe one more ring, or is the real window going to open once Kobe retires and Kobe is instead viewed as an entertaining stopgap while the Lakers retool? What is certainly to be avoided is to be option #3– a perenially pretty good team (Atlanta is the perfect example), always good enough to be competitive, but never good enough to sniff a championship.

    As for ‘tanking’… if management agrees that the window is not open for a given season, it is quite right to engage in a ‘soft tank’ which is what I think the lakers are doing now– not trying to lose but prioritizing other factors (evaluating personnel, stockpiling picks, perhaps protecting Kobe) over winning. I agree that playing Kelly and Sacre ahead of obviously better players (in order to see if they have a future with the team) is not about secretly trying to lose, but to be fair about it, it’s even less about trying to win. So do we call this a tank, or not? It’s different than what Sac or Utah or Philly are doing (a wire to wire tank, rather than a recalibration due to injury), but ultimately, the effect is the same.

    I’m no MDA fan, but I think he deserves huge credit for how hard the team competes every night; it’s almost kind of unprecedented for a team this bad to play so hard and so unselfishly. I really wonder if coaches I wanted instead (Adelman, Macmillan) could have gotten the same results under these dire circumstances.

    All I want now is to beat Houston, to see Kobe come back strong, and to win my case of Italian wine which I will need plenty of in order to watch the Lakerless playoffs, something that feels curiously like seeing an ex-girlfriend with another guy.

  19. Ko we still stink with or w/o him, make the salary dump, its not like this team is going anywhere, most of these guys will be gone after the season.He wont be back bc of MDA and because the Lakers probably wont want to pay him what he would be asking 5 or 6 mill a year?, so what if they trade him?At this time the Lakers needs to get closer to the cap threshold, nothing else matter this season. We still losing 55-60 games.So lets get ready to the rebuilt/reload financially wise.

  20. I define tanking as making a decision for no other reason than to intentionally make winning tougher for your own team. The Lakers won’t be tanking. They may make moves that on paper makes winning this season tougher. So what? It happens all the time in every sport whether the draft is a consideration or not. Personnel moves are made for a variety of reasons. Financial. To improve the team for the future. Players don’t fit the system, future plans, or are expected to leave of their own accord. Injured players are kept out because it’s best for their future. In none of those cases is the motive to lose games–i.e. tanking. If a team has no hope to make the playoffs, that will likely have some influence in these decisions, but that doesn’t make it tanking.

  21. Losing hill who is our 3rd best player because dantoni is an idiot is not the a way to become a contender.

    Given our recent track record this will be the 5th big that dantoni has misused which has deteriorated the relationship to this point – hill, jamison, howard, kaman, and gasol – im sorry but laker tradition states that we always have a strong Inside and outside pressence during contention.

    We cant build a winning bench by having scrubs like young, meeks, johnson,kelley, sacre or marshall having big minutes over guys like hill, gasol or kaman – and while the injuries have put us here we all have seen tgat it seemed like dantonis rotations were taking us here.

    Look at how dantoni forced new york to jettison zach Randolph as an additinal example of how he cant work with bigs.

    If dantoni is still our coach next year we will miss out on every significant free agent.

    While lower level players like marshall might like playing for him the reality is that his relationships with star players has soured in every city he has been in and has been a cancer to our team since he was hired bringing along additional bad karma …. Jim – please do not retain this guy through the offseason it will ruin the team for the next 5 years

  22. Let me make my point more clearly.

    The FO won’t trade Jordan Hill without some plan to get under the Luxury Tax threshold this year. It makes no sense to not quite get under the Luxury Tax limit. Keeping Jordan Hill, in that scenario, makes much more sense. Yes, he may leave at the end of the year of his own accord, but we also might replace the coach before 1 July and we might look a lot better to him in that case. Then, he might have some loyalty to the organization and like living and playing here. He would be part of a building organization that would value his skills. If MDA stays I suspect he is gone in any case.

    Again, I don’t see Jordan Hill being traded unless we are well along on a plan to get under the Luxury Tax before the trade deadline this Thursday.

  23. Lil Pau is my belief that if Kobe decides to retire in 2015-2016, the Lakers will go all out to get him a final ring before he retires, i think things are lining up in that direction, 2015 FA class, last year of Kobe extension the Lakers getting their financial house in order i dont expect much from this summer or next season but i think the following one have potential to be exiting, i dont know call it a gut feeling.

  24. Guys are not playong hard for dantoni … they are all on 1 year deals – they are all playi f for their careers to be extended … good job mitch not pringles

  25. All I want now is to beat Houston, to see Kobe come back strong, and to win my case of Italian wine which I will need plenty of in order to watch the Lakerless playoffs, something that feels curiously like seeing an ex-girlfriend with another guy.
    ___
    lol, right on!
    ___
    our guys have been giving their all this whole injury-racked, crazy-ass season, nuff said

  26. Re-posted from two/three threads ago:

    The notion that this coach has the team playing cohesive all out basketball is off base. Players play on the offensive side of the ball for themselves, for their stats, for their next contract and players play defense for the coach, for the wins, and for the organization. Since this team does not play defense, the easy conclusion is that this coach does not have a voice with this team. Does anyone believe that if this same group of players were bound by long term lucrative contracts, there would not be more dissension? In regards to their playing time, Hill and Kaman would be apoplectic in the locker room, and with media. A team full of veteran players with contracts could never play for this coach (see the Knicks) because he is old and dogmatic in his ideology about how basketball should be played.

    He would garner much more acceptance of his philosophy had his system flourished on any team in the NBA, that did not have Steve Nash as the point guard. A winning track record is non-existent without Steve Nash as his coach on the floor. And, I think that Steve Nash is not given the credit due him for being the genius in the wake of this coach’s success in Phoenix.

    Devoid of Nash, would this coach even have an NBA coaching career? I liken this coach to Mike Brown, in that Brown is still surfing the wave of Lebron. Too, this coach is in a different ocean but no less riding the wave of Nash.

  27. I agree the Lakers are not tanking. I wish they were, but they’re not.

  28. When you have a bunch of young players on 1-yr deals the most common result is somewhat rudderless play and a team that gives up when they are beaten down. This is a club that continues to fight to the last man. A lot of the credit for the fight, and the development of players previously out of the NBA (or almost out), should go to the coach. That doesn’t mean the coach is the best choice going forward, but it does mean there shouldn’t be so much ‘hate’ expressed by the fanbase.

  29. Call it whatever you want, this team is not built to win many games. The players have already said they lose focus when they are playing lesser teams so I am not sure they always play as hard as they could. Clearly the defensive effort is more along the lines of the first three periods of the all-star game with occasional forays into stopping the ball. As long as they keep pushing the tempo of the game they will keep putting their core of geriatric players in the trainer’s room. Leg injuries accumulate in older players and running hard just exacerbates them.

    It is amazing to me that the Lakers did not jump all over Cleveland’s offer to take Pau’s salary off their hands. It would have put them into position to be able to take some salary back in trades going into the deadline and possibly pick up a useful player.

  30. When you have a bunch of young players on 1-yr deals the most common result is somewhat rudderless play and a team that gives up when they are beaten down

    Do you have any examples or data to back this up?

    I agree that D;Antoni should get some credit for the team’s effort, but I also think that is very likely that the fact that almost every guy on the team is playing for his next deal is a factor. Cleveland, by way of contrast, has a roster of guys who are mostly signed beyond this year.

    Also, the Lakers are 2nd in the NBA in Pace Factor, which helps some guys get numbers.

  31. This sentence says it all -

    “Losing hill who is our 3rd best player because dantoni is an idiot is not the a way to become a contender. ” – shaun

    If Hill is your teams 3rd best player – seriously consider that thought for sec – and you feel this team should be trying to contend – well my friend give your head a shake because this team has a lot bigger problems than can be solved by simply smearing the coach as an idiot.
    Most people are reasonably realistic on here but some overvalue guys simply because they play/played for the Lakers before.

  32. As a European I find this whole idea of rewarding losing very weird and against the whole idea of sports. Why not give the most lottery balls to the teams with the best record outside the lottery? It is bizarre that ping pong balls determine the future of the teams, and what is the problem with just rewarding the best teams with the best picks?

    I don’t mind that some teams will stay good? Who wants to see big talents waste the careers for dysfunctional clubs? In soccer Manchester United, Barcelona etc. always put out great teams, and shape the future of the sport, it works just fine.

  33. I agree with the anonymous above , If Hill is your 3rd best player you have issues. Stop overrating players, the Lakers stink so bad that people talk about a player who should be around 8th in any rotation in the league like he is this beast, well he “beasted” in like a 10 day spam in December and could not sustaint it once teams got wise to him. Good rebounder and hustler not much else. The Lakers are horrible with or w/o him. So it dont matter if they trade him or not. Just a role player, the season is lost, bring up the firesale like any team on any sports do when they have a season like this one. I heard some rumblings about Steve Blake too, trade him too!!

  34. If they trade , Hill, Pau and Blake at the trade deadline for a washing machine and a box of cups i be fine with it because the important thing is getting out of the repeater tax territorry. Thats going to be hugely important very soon. I wont be surprised if we witness a fire sale athe the deadline, if we get a 1 or 2 picks that would be a bonus

  35. Consider for a moment the Thunder without Durant, the Heat without Lebron and the Clippers without Chris Paul. Now consider that the Thunder is without Westbrook too, the Heat without Wade too and the Clippers without Griffin too.

    Yup, you guessed it right. Their coach is dumb and should be fired.

  36. I know Pau trade speculation will be at its peak (pending the injury report) in the next day or two. As has been said many times here, I will also be sorry to see him go if it happens, though happy if he gets a chance to chase a ring — unlikely as that will be in Phoenix, Charlotte or Toronto.

    I also know Mitch usually works in stealth mode. But if Chris Kaman is on the team this weekend, I will find that the most baffling non-move in recent Lakers history. It can’t happen, right? You have to get at least a second-round pick and a little salary relief for a guy I think could be huge for several contenders.

    (That’s before we get to other guys, like Blake and Hill and even Meeks, who I think should be in the same discussion.)

  37. The Lakers have enough money to allow them to keep all the players they have now. That is the first fact we all know.

    With that in mind, it makes no sense to rip apart this team if we are not going to get under the Luxury Tax line – see my comments above. Unless we get something of real value to the organization, or we get under the Luxury Tax level – IMO – we are not going to make any trade this season. If we do make a trade that doesn’t get us value or under the Luxury Tax level, it will mean we have another deal in progress that will get us value or under the Luxury Tax level.

    The only exception I can see for this logic would be – a particular player has expressed a real desire to be somewhere else and the front office feels team chemistry will be impacted.

  38. We really do overvalue our players – as fans, that’s probably a good thing. Jordan Hill is a perfect example – he’s a great energy guy, hustles and does a lot of dirty work but he does have his flaws & people posting seem to forget that. He’s pretty good around the basket but doesn’t have a reliable outside shot (improved from last year but not great).
    He’s averaging career highs in points, rebounds and gasp, minutes per game (even more than his years in Houston). It’s not clear to me that he really is a 25-30 min guy; when he gets those minutes, he seems to lose some of his effectiveness.
    My worry isn’t that we as fans overvalue our players, it’s that the FO does. We need to be getting assets (either personal or picks) for the few players we have who have value and who the FO isn’t going to sign. We let DH go for nothing, gambling that he’d want to stay. That’s the only gamble over the last few years that I thought was too risky.
    (I know we don’t want to take on salary, but players and picks can be bundled in trades. Right now we have very little of value to create an appealing trade).
    Unfortunately, I think we’re going down the same road with Gasol – playing hardball with other teams and ending up with nothing. With the tax penalties of the new CBA, I think many teams will take a pass on a player (unless it’s an elite player) if the asking price is too high, even if that player has the potential to improve their team.

  39. On Hill, I think hes a good player but I believe he is way way overrated on this forum resulting in some rather ill informed comments. Take into consideration if reports are true the best offer the Lakers have gotten for Hill is taking him off their hands for cap space. No picks nadda.

  40. I have never ears anyone think tanking means the players are losing on purpose. Tanking means the front office and coaches are losing as much as they can.

  41. here’s a very revealing and thoughtful article by dave murphy regarding the one year anniversary of the passing of the man with the midas touch:

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1963309-remembering-jerry-buss-one-year-after-his-passing/page/5

  42. “As a European I find this whole idea of rewarding losing very weird and against the whole idea of sports. Why not give the most lottery balls to the teams with the best record outside the lottery? It is bizarre that ping pong balls determine the future of the teams, and what is the problem with just rewarding the best teams with the best picks?”

    Basketball, baseball, football, hockey… I think all pro U.S. team sports “reward” the worst teams with the highest draft picks. The various markets where teams play are not all equal, and the idea is to make a more entertaining, competitive league for everyone. And if there’s limited constraints on spending, a few teams have the money where they can buy up most of the top talent. Fostering some measure of parity is considered healthier for the league as a whole. It’s not purely sports, it’s entertainment business.

    The draft can, probably, have the most impact in basketball. One dominant player can make a huge difference, and helps draw the other relatively few vital pieces needed around him. That’s why I think the NBA lottery is too generous to the worst teams. I’d rather see all the non-playoff teams get equal odds.

  43. To me hill is the equivalent of a haslem, ibaka (who I think is overated), amir johnson, Hickson or even favors in terms of talent and ability – And he is about what 26 yrs old and we could have him for 5 million which is comparable to his counterparts.

    This is what you should be spending on who should be you 3rd rotation big man. Gibson is making 9mill amd while better I would argue the difference in salary makes them equal.

    Now if hill is our 3rd best player do we have problems … yes .. of course we do we had problems all year but lets say we are trying to reload for next year and we lose kaman and hill – we need to find replacements from somewhere to replace their production – has kelly worked – no, sacre – no … do any big men want to play for dantoni – no …. hmmm so lets say we get lucky amd draft embid and employ a stretch 4 that still kills us defensivly

    When you look at championship teams they have won because they have had guys like hill to step in with the second unit – if we just give those guys away there is no way for us to build our full team

    Look at the free agents – I dont really see any good bigs becoming available

  44. When you look at championship teams they have won because they have had guys like hill to step in with the second unit – if we just give those guys away there is no way for us to build our full team
    ___
    I totally agree with Shaun on this.
    ___

    thanks for the link david h, I too dig Dave´s writing.

  45. While I agree with the train of thought that both Shaun and PurpleBlood share – Hill and Kaman would be great role players on a good team. The truth is that they are both FA’s this summer and are less than likely to return to the Lakers because of MDA and due to the fact that they will want more $ than we can give.

    In this light there really is no alternative than to try and get something for them at the trade deadline. As a note, I really like all of our kids – Hill, Young, Farmar, Henry, Johnson, Kelly, Marshall. The reality is that they would make an incredible bench on a winning team. Our problem is that we are using them as starters. We have to focus on getting front line talent and a lot of it.

  46. There is NO WAY trading Hill is a GOOD idea. As has been asked countless times on the site, who else do we have? Pau does not appear to be “walking through that door” anytime soon. Kelly can’t hold his own on defense, Kaman is fragile and foul prone, we let Shawne walk again and I don’t see anyone in the D-League as good as Hill. SO WHY TRADE HIM!!! This would be Organizational Tanking in it’s finest. MiD needs to show some of that coaching accumen that he showed last year and play the bigs the proper way. He can run with the young guns and let Kaman and Hill play together and do what they do (abuse the opposition’s second string). We need another big as a starter. What we don’t need is to lose one of the three we have. IJS

  47. “I also think that is very likely that the fact that almost every guy on the team is playing for his next deal is a factor.”
    ——–
    Do YOU have any data to back this up?

  48. Excellent points Leo & Busboys4me,
    & therein lies the tremendous pressure both Mitch & yes, Jim, must be dealing with tonight: our squad as it is, with all the unknown variables to boot, needs retooling one way or another, that of course is obvious to anyone.
    But it´s such a delicate balance between what `little´ we have as far as a solid starting 5, and getting those players who´ll become part of it, & a clearly strong 2nd unit, which is just that, a solid 2nd unit, not a playoff-caliber, 82-game starting squad.
    Man, it just gets tougher & tougher as this season winds down, and that includes for us die-hards as well!
    ___
    btw, Busboys, is that a reference to the band Eddie Murphy liked so well and helped promote? They were always a fun band back in the day, and they grooved too! `goin´downtown & I´m gonna buy me some new shoes!´ (just took a look at their website, glad to see they´re still out there doin´ it good :)

  49. Do YOU have any data to back this up?

    Not really. That is why I said “I think” and “very likely” as opposed to making an assertion about it. Also, I am speculating about one team–the 2014 Lakers. The post I was responding to made a more global claim.

    Opinions and assertions are different things. I did, however, contrast the Lakers’ contractual situations to Cleveland’s, since there have been a few people here and more at SSR bagging on Mike Brown for “losing the team” and some of those people gave MDA a lot of credit for the Lakers’ win in Cleveland, and used that to support the idea that D’Antoni is a better coach than Brown.

    Also, try using a handle the next time you go for the gotcha, instead of “Anonymous.”

  50. Shaun: “do any big men want to play for dantoni ”
    Leo: “Hill and Kaman…….. are less than likely to return to the Lakers because of MDA”
    Well – I think this is a valid concern. DH, Antawn Pau, Kaman, and Hill are all reasons why a big would not want to come here. I do not think we have any reasons why they would (other than the obvious – Pacific Ocean, celebrities, etc). I posted that list of names early in the year for similar reasons. I was met with a flurry of rebuttals. Don’t think I will be this time : )
    Purple: I’m at Vroman’s in the Fillmore. The boys are back in town.

  51. Hill is the kind of guy good teams coming off the bench on 2nd unit. If he’ll stay, why not have that piece already in place? If he won’t stay, I guess off he goes. More time for Shawne Williams, hooray! Just wait until Nash comes back, it’ll be great!

    How long until we see Terrence Williams? Another first rounder who didn’t pan out…

    Like MDA style of teams, but it doesn’t promise wins. Really wonder if he’ll get another NBA job after this.

  52. Anonymous,

    You never played pro or semi-pro ball, did you? You know what you do when you’re not sure how much money you’re making next season? You play hard every single night. Trust me, it works THAT way…

  53. What I wish would happen.
    Lakers go into next year having kept Pau and resigned (on the cheap!) Lamar Odom and (gasp!) Andrew Bynum, along with former Lottery Picks Yi Jianlian and Al Thornton, bolstering a roster already deepened by the addition of new Lakers Lottery Pick Andrew Wiggins. Kobe returns from rehabbing to a career year, and, after an off-season of intensive training and tutelage from Steve Nash, Kendall Marshall makes his first all-star team and win’s League’s Most Improved Player award. Steve Nash and Lamar Odom win co-6th Man of the year awards, and the Lakers roll to the championship guided by New (old) head Coach Kurt Rambis, with assistants Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones fresh on the staff, and Phil Jackson in the Tex Winter (wizened advisor) role.

  54. Brian,
    If you are going to go for it, really go big — your motto.

  55. darius: this is a bit of a stretch at this time, ahem, what’s wrong w/obtaining kevin love now? if anything, it follows front office thinking and is exactly what’s needed in sustaining coach d’antoni’s stretch the floor at the four philosophy.

    let’s move on. got a less than stellar statement game versus the rockets tonite at staples center.

    Go lakers

  56. `What I wish would happen.´
    ___
    dang, I sure friggin´ hope that pans out, man! We´ll have to erect a statue in your honor, right next to Chick? or would you prefer Kareem, Magic, J. West or the good Dr.? ;)
    ___
    I’m at Vroman’s in the Fillmore. The boys are back in town.
    _
    LOL! Love that film! You rock dude!

  57. There is absolutely no way the Wolves ate trading KL at this time, why would they? The Lakers did their due diligence asking, hey worth a shot, if they dont make the playoffs this season and struggle the next? Yeah ,but the Wolves are not a hurry, a year from now sure, things look like we have the best shot to landing him, why gave away a prime pick from a loaded draft if we can get him w/o giving nothing away in 17 months?if the Lakers get Love today we still aint making the playoffs, that would be a huge waste of time and money for both parties but more so for the Lakers

  58. While I would love to convince Love that the team that loves him the most is the Lakers (see what I did here? I’m a effin poet…) and he should come here sooner rather than later, I agree with Fern on this one. If we’re trading for the future, we might as well wait for the draft.

    PS: So, what if on draft night, after Adam Silver announces the Lakers pick and the rookie comes on stage to shake his hand, Kaman bursts out of the backstage wearing one of those WWE speedos, grabs the mic and yells at the camera on a roid rage: “Here’s something for you Mike D’Antoni” And then he proceeds to calmly give a pink slip to the rookie while asking him to hand it over to MDA when he gets to LA. So, MDA wouldn’t know if the pink slip was real or not until the rookie arrived only to find out it was real… Oh well, too much time without a new topic leads to things like this!

  59. I would not trade for KLove if it would require the Lakers giving up this year’s lottery pick in addition to Pau. The trade does nothing but upgrade Pau’s slot. The Lakers would be capped out and mediocre at best. KLove is a great #2 – still looking for a #1 to replace Kobe.

    The Lakers need talent and lots of it. We need to hit homeruns in the draft (this year and next), sign a young RFA this offseason and then sign KLove next summer.

  60. In my opinion (so take it with a grain of salt), the only deal that makes sense for KLove (the guy, not the LA spanish radio station) is a straight swap with a certain Spaniard. I don’t think the Lakers will move their pick for a player that is widely believed will come here anyway in two years.

    As far as Hill/Kaman, I think if we can get decent picks in return, they may be worthwhile moving, specially if the FO wants to keep MDA around for the last year of his contract (which, I hope they do not do purely for free agent marketing reasons). However, if MDA is not coming back, the FO may decide to wait until they have a new coach on board b4 they make a decision on what to offer Kaman and Hill – so it may make sense to trade them now anyway since there’s no guarantee they will hang around and wait for a new coaching decision to be made.

  61. here’s kevin ding’s take for those still in agreement as to the “for basketball reasons” the lakers are in the predicament they’re in now:

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1965686-los-angeles-lakers-true-rebuild-was-set-back-by-failed-chris-paul-trade

  62. There is no point in holding onto expiring contracts for next year. Next year will be a rebuild with the Lakers adding a lot of mid tier talent. They won’t be looking to fill out their starting line up on minimum salaries. They will be looking for those minimum salary guys as bench guys as the team aquired this year but unfortunately need to use as starters. These guys are going be on the open market regardless of whether or not they are traded this year. ANy pick’s the team acquires and cap relief will go a long ways to rebuilding.

    Hill is the inscrutably most overrated player on the Lakers roster. MDA wants a Stretch PF. Does Hill have that? No. Ok so what about as more traditional PF able to hit a 10 to 15 foot shot? Hill hits this in the low 30% neighbor hood so again no. What Hill is good at is hanging around the rim picking up loose rebounds and putting them in the bucket at point blank range. What does this mean? On offense he is a Center. This means you need a center with at least a pretty good jump shot. Which the Lakers have in Gasol and Kaman. If you play this way you need to switch assignments on defense which results in poorer transition defense.

    So ok what if you play him as a small Center alongside a stretch PF? Works great on offense, Hill I would argue on offense is exactly the type of Center MDA would love. Don’t need to run any plays for him and just sticks missed jump shots back in the basket. But then on defense how does this work? Well Hill manages to play halfway decent man on man coverage vs other bigs. However, hes not an overly effective shot blocker or help defensive player. This means your perimeter guys have to be really good on defense to play Hill as a Center. Overall this Lakers team does not have that.

    Hills amazing ability to rebound the ball has made him a fan favorite but, he is difficult to insert into a line-up and maximize his skill set. Especially on this roster. I like what he brings but the Lakers would be a lot better off shedding his salary and hopefully grabbing a much needed draft pick.

  63. David i knew that the rebuilt was ruined the day Emperor Palpatine errr i meant David Stern ( put a hood on him and i bet any Laker fan would think the same lol) stopped the trade citing “basketball reasons” and those basketball reasons were Dan Gilbert and Cuban, how many big time FAs they have gotten combined since?Monta Ellis? Dont make me laugh, the Lakers coup was threefold, shed salary, get the next franchise player and have an instant contender. All that was ruined by meddling from third parties in an attempt to destroy the Lakers, the result of all that was a cascade effect that we still feeling to this day if that trade took its course we have CP and DH as our franchise future. Thats why im not desperate like some other people because i knew this was a major blow, any other franchise would be set back 20 years by this, not the Lakersi read a quote somewhere that its great” there is nothing scarier in the NBA than the Lakers with cap space” and that was right after DH took off, i have this feeling by observing how things are progressing that we might be better but still not very good next season, but if Kobe decides to retires in the last season of his extension the Lakers are going all out to try to get him that 6th ring, payroll be dammed 2015 is the objective. Just a gut feeling might be the Force.

  64. David H-

    Kevin Ding knocked it out of the park once again. Everything he’s saying in this article is why I don’t buy the hyperbole spewed about Jim Buss. They made some amazing moves that should have been…

  65. KenOak: exactly and yet they still can and will because I believe they believe that costs overrides are still secondary to championships.

    Go lakers

  66. david h: “costs overrides are still secondary to championships.” As they should be. The Lakers should spend as much as legally possible when it makes sense So paying taxes should not prevent anything basketball related. This is no different than the Yankees who spend way more than anyone else. The common factors are the huge fan base, the history, and most of all – the TV contract. Taxes are a small footnote on the income statement.
    KenOak/Fern: As a FO critic, I have never denied the Huge impact of the VETO. However it is what it is. Things like that happen. Bad calls are made, bad decisions are rendered, and bad luck occurs. Who knows what would have happened? Would DH have still hurt his back? Would he have still been a worthless baby as many on his site think he is? Would Kobe have still gotten hurt? How bout CPIII himself who has had a couple of injuries? So would we have added rings now? Who knows? However we do know what we have done since and it has not been good. I ask you this. If any of us had taken over the Lakers, the day after the VETO, would things possibly be any worse now?

  67. Robert:

    Yes, they would have been a lot worse. The Lakers actually did a pretty good job picking up decent players under the extreme financial pressures they were facing (had to be low contracts, one year only). Everyone here seems to want to scapegoat, but injuries are the biggest factor in this team’s struggles.

    Going to the game tonight. Wearing my #12 with Howard crossed out, Marshall written in.

  68. note to david stern: never cross the lakers or someday you will have to retire. oh wait, that already happened.

    note to adam silver: never cross the lakers or someday you will have to prematurely retire.

    Go lakers

  69. Robert they probably be worse at least in my case because i would never presume that i would run things better than the people that are actually in the FO and have 99% more knowledege of the team operations and inner workings than all of us combined. I would be furious if the FO sat on his hands after the VETO, but moves were made designed to improve the Lakers, did they worked out? No, but i know everyone here was ecxtatic about the Sessions trade,the Nash and Dwight coup, they did not worked out for a miryad of reasons and mistakes were made. These last 2 seasons have been a catastrophe of injuries, not really happy about the coaching situation bit MDA have been asked to make a cake out of cow pies.The wreckage after the VETO have been a minefield, no other team in the league has been close to all the things that befallen the Lakers since, if there were no VETO there would had been no Nash, no blown Achilles and a lot of other things would had worked out better.

  70. Renato – ROFL -that was hilarious

  71. Sorry for the delay, folks but the game preview won’t be up until right before game time. Keep the conversation going here and if there are any thoughts on tonight’s game, leave them here and they may make the preview…

  72. On an added note when last year team got semi-healthy they had the best record of the NBA after the All Star game, it took Kobe playing at God level a lot of times but that team could had been a tough out in the playoffs but we lost 60% of our starters in the eve of the playoffs, this year after the 10-9 start a lot of people included myself thought that this team was a move or two personel wise to be a really good team and we had the deepest bench in the league with no Kobe and a hobbled Pau and then the 10 ton injury bug crushed this team. Even not in the most auspicious circunstances the FO had put competitive teams in the field. In the next 2 years we will se a very different and younger team.

  73. darius: here’s hoping that prior to game time tonite, we’ll all know what laker trade will transpire prior to the trade deadline. with all the speculation notwithstanding; something’s gotta give soon.

    so like you’re saying, smoke em if you got em.

    Go lakers.

  74. Darius: Your ability to get game threads and post game reports up, is always very good. However this year considering that the topics were not always so pleasant, your track record is phenomenal.
    Fern/All: Well – we all agree that the VETO screwed us up royally. Of that there is no doubt.
    lil pau: Yes – So perhaps the previous #12 is your scapegoat : ) Enjoy the game – root hard. Hope you get a good game.

  75. lil pau. Hilarious

  76. to Dwight Howard: tanks, but no tanks for the memory.

    Go lakers

  77. The talk about the Chris Paul non-trade and speculation of what might have been is really just noise. The fact was, the Lakers didn’t have what it took to get the deal done because, ultimately, the powers-that-were said they didn’t. Tough. Nobody other than Laker fans will ever cry about it. Bottom line is results. No trophies for what might have been. Maybe you like what you’ve seen from Laker management recently, maybe you don’t. Only time will tell if, under different circumstances, they have the vision to come even close to matching past successes.

  78. rfen: I always enjoy reading comments that make me look like a moderate : ) “Bottom line is results.” Can’t say I can argue with that.

  79. I’ve never met a successful person in any field or endeavor, who continually makes excuses for their failures, or where they are in their profession, or in life.

    When bad luck is used as the main excuse, typically bad luck (aka failure) follows that person. Successful people take their punches and move on. Jimbo took a big blow with the Veto, but it’s time to move on folks. At some point, the man in charge has to take responsibility for the current state of this team…and I don’t want to hear about injuries. This team is not a contender even if healthy. They still need another star, as well as a solid coach, to even think about contending. These two components were out there to be had with Phil and Dwight, but Jimbo failed or refused to get them. At the end of th day, the state of an organization always starts from the top.

  80. Per David Aldridge, NBA.com: Hearing that [Pau] Gasol to Suns, if it ever was serious, dying quickly on the vine. PHX “looking at other stuff” now, per source

  81. PurpleBlood

    It is in deed.

    http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://images.artistdirect.com/Images/Sources/AMGCOVERS/music/cover200/drd500/d582/d582316a459.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.artistdirect.com/nad/store/artist/album/0,,59449,00.html&h=200&w=200&sz=11&tbnid=wfTp7Mi_oONBRM:&tbnh=125&tbnw=125&zoom=1&usg=__a2SoJeCdE0f3E5MuHTEwHgib2eI%3D&docid=odZb8kGi-HxC-M&sa=X&ei=tkwFU_H5DojgoAS65YCIDw&ved=0CC8Q9QEwAw

  82. While it hurts to wish him gone, I hope that Pau has a great game tonight. The Lakers really need to pursue draft picks, young/cheap assets and cap flexability. Moving Pau for any of the above helps the Lakers shorten the road back to quality.

  83. Great Lil Pau

    To bad you didn ‘t make that cross out Dwight, Kwame, stomach flu

  84. thanks for gettin´ back to me Busboys!
    ___
    lil pau, lol!!

  85. Steve Blake has just been traded per Mike Bresnahan. Steve Blake just acknowledged he’s been traded, says he’ll miss L.A. Didn’t rule out returning to Lakers in free agency in July