Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Nets

Daniel Rapaport —  February 23, 2014

The Nets will look to snap an 11-game losing streak against the Lakers tonight when the two teams, both performing well-below the levels they expected to before the season started, face off at Staples Center.

The Lakers offense should receive a boost tonight with the return of Swaggy P, who missed five games due to a right knee injury. He won’t start tonight, however, as the ever-rotating D’Antoni wheel of starting lineups churns on. Tonight, Marshall and Meeks will start in the backcourt, with new addition Kent Bazemore starting at the three. Wes Johnson and Gasol round up the starting unit. With MarShon Brooks available off the bench tonight, look for the Lakers to push the tempo early and often.

One person who will not be in the lineup tonight, or any time soon, is Kobe. He visited team physician Dr. Steve Lombardo on Friday, and received less than stellar news: he’ll be out a minimum of three more weeks before being reevaluated. It’s now a legitimate possibility that Kobe will miss the entire season- in three weeks, when he’s due for the next evaluation, there will only be 17 games left. However, like always, he won’t take no for an answer, and recently told the Boston Globe that he’s committed to returning before the season ends.

The Nets have righted the ship a bit after a horrid start, and sit at 25-28, which is good enough to be firmly in the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference. But they’re 2-10 in the second game of back-to-backs and come into tonight fresh off a 93-86 loss at Golden State. It’s no wonder, really, as their roster is filled with stars who are well past their prime (Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Joe Johnson, etc.) That makes today’s game very winnable; the Lakers should be much fresher, and faster than Brooklyn will be.

Keep an eye on the new Lakers tonight. Bazemore and Brooks both enjoyed stellar games by their standards in their first contest under D’Antoni. I’m interested to see if the increase in production and playing time (Brooks averages 6.2 minutes and played 23, while Bazemore averaged 6.7 and played 33) are a sign of what’s to come or just a function of having such few able bodies. If these two young, explosive players prove their worth, they could be one of the few pieces the Lakers will want to keep heading into the summer.

I think the Lakers will win tonight, which may upset those who are fully on board with Team Tank. I always like D’Antoni’s chances against teams that like to play slow and emphasize the half court offense. Whatever the outcome may be, it should be an entertaining game to watch- Paul Pierce should give a little extra at Staples Center, where he has made so many memories.

Where you can watch: TWC Sportsnet, 6 p.m. start time

Daniel Rapaport


101 responses to Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Nets

  1. This game takes on additional significance with the Nets’ signing of Jason Collins to bolster their big man rotation. Collins, as the first openly gay player in the 4 major American sports, makes history tonight. I never liked Collins’ game and always thought he was one of the dirtiest players in the Association. I’m sure his revelation won’t change my opinion of him as a player. It will be interesting to see if he can contribute anything to the Nets in light of the length of his layoff.

  2. I hate Pierce. I hate Garnett. I hope we win by 30 with Swaggy P shooting FT’s in a wheelchair…

  3. Renato–I would kill to be Kobe for one game against Pierce so that, during the positioning for the opening tip, I could look over nonchalantly and say “s’up, Wheelchair?”

  4. Starting Wes J at the 4 is a recipe for disaster

  5. Rings: Kobe:5 Pierce: 1 Garnett: 1
    Rings since 1980: Lakers 10 Celtics:4
    Rings since 1970: Lakers 11 Celtics: 6
    All Time Rings: Greek Olympians: 83 Yale: 35 Havard: 33
    Cincinnati Red Stockings: 26 Celtics: 17 Lakers: 16

    You decide which is the most relevant stat

  6. Well, I’m impressed. I’ll never bad mouth the Greek Olympians again.

  7. JC,

    It actually makes sense to some extent in this matchup. Pierce and Johnson start at forward for BKN.

  8. “Very winnable”….I dont know if “very” is in the
    Lakers world….lol…

  9. Robert…all time rings for Boston vs Lakers…We need to tie them…

  10. I was having a blast watching the Nets dysfunctions early in the season but it looks like they righted the ship, sigh at least i have the memories. No we will see if the 2 new guys are consistent. About Collins in this day and age it should not be news that he is gay. I could care less. He sitll stinks gay or not.

  11. And i forgot to mention my everlasting hatred of Kevin ” fake tough guy” Garnett and Paul “wheels” Pierce. May both especially Pierce rot in hell.

  12. I thought Brooklyn was Hell’s nickname.

  13. It seems to me that the Nets season is a clone of last season Lakers, slow, injured,, old and with a coach way over his head. I nver thought it would be possible to duplicate last season Lakers template.

  14. Got a point there busboy lol. I was triying to keep it clean. Cant say here what i really wish for them lol

  15. gene: Yes we do. I would not hold my breath on that just yet tough.
    Also – this was a trick that Jack Kent Coke and Jerry Buss missed. First off they barely acknowledged the first 5 titles for the longest time. The trophies were literally almost thrown away at one point. We are lucky to have everyone acknowledge 16. Jerry Buss insisted they were not our titles for years. Further the Celtics have out marketed us. When thinking of good NFL teams people think of the 9ers, the Pats, the Steelers, etc.. Nobody mentions the Browns or the Bears. The Celtics are just like the Browns, but somehow they have outsmarted everyone because of the mothballed banners in the ceiling. We have dominated the modern era and it is not close.

  16. As much as I detest Paul Pierce and KG…I would rather get back to the tanking position. Watching Wiggins and Embiid the other night was fun times.

  17. Ken
    Parker IMO is going to be the best of those three.

  18. Terrible match up by MD. Lakers will be killed on boards. Stupid.

  19. anyone have a link where I can stream this? For some bizarre reason, NBA league pass won’t give me the game (says it is already on a Canadian channel – so not true) Aaargh!

  20. Here we go KO…

  21. On any given night, I vacillate between Embiid, Parker and Wiggins. All three show signs of future domination in the NBA. It might just come down to which of the three in the NBA will remain the healthiest.

    It is too much like the year that Bowie went no. 1…yikes! I like Parker and Embiid’s motor on the floor, Wiggins waxes and wanes far too often for my pleasure.

    I’m happy to Sunday quarterback this year’s class.: Depending on a team’s needs and or front office strategy, there are plenty quality players.

  22. Good thing this is not my team. I would fire the coach for being soundly out coached with that lineup.

    Very amazing.

  23. Poor start for the Lakers. Especially disappointing to see nobody running in transition with Wes Johnson when he blocked that shot.

  24. Farmar 2 the rescue?

  25. Pierce must read this blog…

  26. Can’t tell you how much I hate Paul PIerce!

  27. Farmar, Gasol, Hill, Meeks, Swaggy P can play.

    They will come back.

  28. Agreed Trey . They should have started.

  29. Really hate seeing PeePee strutting around Staples like that.

  30. *sighs* looks like a long night.

  31. Brooks body type brings to mind the young Bean.

  32. Starting to see issues in Marshall’s game. As many TO as points last 2 games.

    Can we just play the Celts every game?

    Like Kent’s aggressive play.

  33. we need to come out with some kind of defensive energy for the 3rd Q-
    the Nets are on the second of a back-to-back to boot.
    Can we just play the Celts every game?
    lol !

  34. Looks like Bazemore should stay beyond this season. One of the things that give me war flashbacks is seeing Paul freaking Pierce prancing around Staples… I hate that guy!!!

  35. I expect that this game will tighten up in the second half.

  36. C.Hearn in my opinion i would take Embiid because he looks like he is going to be one of that diying breed in the NBA, the good center. Maybe im just old school but i always believed that the foundation of a team starts with a good center or a good pg bc is easier to build around them. If the Lakers get a shot on him they should not let it pass.but i doubt we get the chance.

  37. Why no subs Mike?

  38. Watching the Rockets- Suns and Howard post up try to make a “move” toward the basket loss the ball out of bounds and stay complaining to the refs. Got to shake my head.

  39. Bc the team is cutting on the Nets lead why would he make an hysteric sub Ko?

  40. Brooks body type brings to mind the young Bean.

    Definitely agree. As a matter of fact, when he first came upon the scene a few years ago with the Nets, I mentioned as much on this site. He’s stated on several occasions that he grew up idolizing Kobe, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that he has some of the same basketball mannerisms of a young Kobe. Key word being young. The problem I’m witnessing with Marshon, although it’s a small sample size, is that it looks as if his game hasn’t improved since entering the league. This could be do to the fact that he hasn’t played much since that first season with the Nets, but time will tell whether he’s willing to put the work in to elevate his game.

  41. Wes Johnson has GOT to be more assertive. He’s invisible on offense.

  42. Those 2 3’s at the end of the 3rd by Teletovic really hurt. He can really shoot the 3. Definitely a player worth keeping an eye on. I’ve seen him have some outstanding games this season.

  43. Tra…
    Sooner or later the Lakers have got to get lucky with some cheap, young talent. Guys like Brooks, Bazemore, Johnson and Henry are being given the opportunity to produce. It’s on them to do so.

  44. Fern, I agree the if he’s there, or the Lakers can move up to acquire Embiid they should. A center is not a bad foundation, by which to jump start the Lakers future road back to championships. Decent centers in the NBA can remain dominant for 15 years.

  45. Remember way way way back when Kelly and Sacre used to start?

    Clearly either Mitch or Jim read this site.

    Now neither get off the bench.

    Tough game for Laker guards. Jordan and Marshall.2 for 10

  46. Farmar showing why he is a back up not a starting pg

  47. maybe Meeks should´ve used the glass on that jump shot – a fading art

  48. Lakers unable to overcome their slow start tonight. Sacre and Kelly with the DNP-CD

  49. Brooks might have a similar body type and mannerisms/game as a young Kobe, but from what i’ve seen, it seems pretty clear he doesn’t have anywhere near the explosiveness or quickness from a physical standpoint

  50. I’m gonna miss Pau Gasol. The guy was the perfect #2 to Kobe’s alpha dog persona. As to Parker/Wiggins/Embiid- I think the tournament is going to go a very long way in determining who goes #1, but if I were choosing right now I would go with Embiid first and then Wiggins. Then Parker. I still worry about taking Embiid if D’Antoni will still be coaching though.

    Back to 5th.

  51. Was only saying the guy has Kobe’s body type. Very few players have Kobe’s physical skills.

  52. BTW did anyone else expect PP to fall down and beckon for the wheelchair when his headband got pushed over his eyes? He had that same look of pain that we all remember so well…

  53. Got to shake my head.

    Howard was 10/12 from the floor, and Houston came back to beat a good team on the road in the 4th, pushing their record to 38-18. Meanwhile, people here are posting that the Lakers need to draft a center.

  54. Little confused, as I said, by the decision to bench Kelly and Sacre NOW, while going back to Kaman. And Hill played 30 minutes. Lakers are at 19-37, 15th, and last, in the West. Not sure what they are competing for down the stretch.

    In any case, it looks like the evaluation period for Kelly and Sacre is over, at least for now.

    Good effort from Bazemore tonight.

  55. JC said it best “Starting Wes J at the 4 is a recipe for disaster!”

  56. Well. I’m disappointed in the loss but pleased with the Lakers’ fight. The Nets are not a bad team at all. After a disastrous start to the season, they’re very much in the playoff hunt and are now in the 6th playoff spot in the East. So, the Lakers’ pushing them with a rag-tag group such as this is not bad.

    Some observations:

    1) The Lakers really miss Kobe. They had no one to answer the star power of Pierce and Deron Williams;

    2) The Lakers missed too many FTs; in a close game you simply can’t do that;

    3) Gasol (22 pts., 11 reopunds) played 29:13. He should have played more;

    4) The Lakers’ PGs were completely over matched by a superb Deron Williams; Williams had 30 pts. K. Marshall had 2; Farmar had 3. Also, both Marshall and Farmar were too TO-prone. Just not a good game for the Lakers’ PGs. They should probably just put this game behind them and move on.

    5) Jordan Hill had another decent game (11pts., 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block). He played 29:34, more than any other Laker. Most importantly, he finished the game. Is this a new development? Or will MDA abandon this strategy in 3 more games? Only time will tell.

    Overall, a good game. Not a win. But a good game.

  57. “Little confused… Not sure what they are competing for down the stretch.”

    To win the game? Because competing is what makes them professionals? Because that’s what they’re being paid to do? Because their jobs are on the line? Because they have pride? Because people paying money to sit at Staples are expecting the team to compete? …

  58. Yeah, Johnson made sense on paper in this matchup, but he didn’t do much. Also, with Livingston out, Brooklyn went a little bigger–hence the extra PT for Hill.

  59. @rfen
    rr was asking what the front office and MDA were competing for. It doesn’t make sense to give Kaman and Hill DNP/CD’s all year long to ‘get a look at Sacre/Kelly’ and then decide to start playing them more once we’re already tied for last place in the West…

  60. Rr

    It’s more and more clear that Mike has no plan. He’s like a guy who keeps switching slot machines at a casino waiting to hit a jack pop as opposed to working everyday. He did this in NY also. It’s ok for this year but another year of musical players will drive us all nuts.

  61. To win the game?

    You are missing the point. As I have said many times, I expect the players who suit up and get the call to try to win every game. I am talking about the organization’s strategy. I don’t get why you bench a 32-year-old slightly-above-league-average backup center for weeks on end, and then bring him back for the stretch run when you are dead last in the conference, and need the highest draft choice possible, while benching a couple of your own young guys, whom you had been playing, in the process.

    I personally don’t think that Kelly and Sacre are worth much, but I see no reason at this point not to run them out there for 20 minutes a game over the next six weeks, assuming that the organization thinks they can possibly contribute in 2015 Sacre is under contract through 2016, and we already know what Hill and Kaman can do.

    The only explanation that I can think if is that the Lakers have done a 180 and are now looking to keep Kaman and will bid competitively on Hill, and have decided that Kelly and Sacre are useless.

  62. Thanks, KenOak. My reply to rfen is in mod.

  63. First of all, if we say it to everyone who’s coming back from injury, the same must be valid to Farmar. He still doesn’t have his game legs back. Give him time. When I say that he can be a starting point guard in this league it means that I see the potential for him to be an average starting point guard, specially because he’s a two-way player. He’s not there yet, but a little roster continuity and playing time would do wonders for him. Remember that playing in Europe is a good thing for many point guards. I’m still not sold on Marshall though. His lack of defense is… (sorry, don’t know the english word for it, but it’s bad).

    So, about the current Sacre/Kelly DNP-CD’s. I don’t get it. If MDA suddenly realized that Sacre and Kelly are simply not good enough, then he’s a terrible coach because everyone with a pair of functional eyes could see that right from the start. If he’s trying to tank, then he’s doing it wrong since the Gasol/Hill/Kaman combo is better than any lineup with Sacre or Kelly mixed in. Unless you play Johnson at the 4 (oh, wait…). Or maybe the FO told him to put the best players on the floor in hopes of trying to retain their services next season, which might be too late due to all that happened this season. Maybe it is maybe it isn’t, but I’m willing to bet that if Kaman or Hill get an offer as good as we will present them this offseason then they’ll sign elsewhere.

    About this upcoming draft, obviously Embiid is the most coveted since I agree with Fern that it’s easier to build a winning team with solid post presence. However, I think that Embiid will go at #1 and the odds are against us, so after that my order of preference would be Parker, Exum, Wiggins… We just need talent and I think any of them will do just fine in the NBA. Obviously, if we do get Embiid or even Randle, then Kaman and/or Hill won’t be a priority…

  64. Ok rr was wrong with drafting a good center if available?

  65. We are speaking about consistency. When Kaman was being benched there were those who saw some grand plan by Mitch to protect his trade value. Others were saying that it was part of tanking. As rr states the players and the coaches (during games) should always try to win. So what is the explanation? We were tanking and now we are not? We hated Kaman – now we like him? Again it is consistency. Same with Pau. If we were protecting Kaman for a trade – why were we not doing the same for Pau? So some actions we take, suggest one thing (let’s bench Kaman, play the youngsters even though it makes us worse, and trade away Blake), while other actions are quite the opposite (Kobe’s extension, not trading Pau, now all of a sudden playing Kaman). I know – I know – “In Mitch we trust”. Well I do trust Mitch – it is the other 2/3 of our managerial triad that I do not trust.

  66. Robert, 1/3 of the part that you do not trust has passed away a little over a year ago. Cut him some slack.

    The Lakers were wise to get 2 youngsters and have their bird rights (and low cap holds) … 2 youngsters that are just itching to get a chance. Bazemore can develop into an Ariza role which if we end up getting, is just a huge coup.

  67. Renato,

    I agree with you about Farmar. He’s been injured and has been in and out of the line up. We should give him a chance to get his wheels underneath him. I also agree that Farmar should, over time, be our starting point guard (unless someone better comes along). I like his defensive intensity and his emerging leadership skills. Marshall’s defense is non-existent. And in this league–at that position–that’s an issue.

  68. “To win the game?
    – You are missing the point. As I have said many times, I expect the players who suit up and get the call to try to win every game. I am talking about the organization’s strategy…”

    I’m just trying to help clear up the confusion. The organization’s primary focus is always to win games. Kupchak has made it clear that he expects the team to play hard, try to win, try to improve the remainder of the season, and in context, it appeared that D’Antoni was being challenged. Everyone’s being evaluated. The roster, and players’ availability and health has been an ongoing merry-go-round all season, so really no surprise that MD’A is still searching and juggling. For reasons known to the coach, Kelly and Sacre got a lot more minutes than anyone expected they would. Apparently to be evaluated, and because of specific skills that fit the way the coach wanted to play. Kelly, a rookie, seems to have hit the wall, and Sacre’s limitations have been further exposed. Maybe they’ll find minutes again, maybe not. It’s not a big mystery either way.

    So if anyone doesn’t accept that the Lakers are trying to play their best and win games, and that the lottery is not a priority, then they’re just going to continue to be confused. Maybe try to put yourself in the mindset of career sports professionals and learn from them. It’s a pro business. There will always be a big picture strategy for a season that dictates decisions being made, but beyond that, they put the best product they can on the floor. It’s not a fantasy league.

  69. Ok rr was wrong with drafting a good center if available?

    Nothing. The point was that almost every time Houston is on national TV at or around the same time the Lakers are playing, we get a few posts talking about Howard can’t do this or is lame for this or that reason. I am not in the business of telling people what to talk about and not to talk about, but given the context, including the fact that Houston came in here and thumped the Lakers last week, I think it the other side is worth pointing out.

  70. I’ve really liked what I saw out of the Lakers Players this year. When doing what they should be doing and not asked to do more because of injuries theres been a lot of bright spots. I’m still thoroughly disappointed with the lack of results getting under the tax cap. The Lakers will still be spenders every year for the next 3 years. But they could have done more by getting under the cap. I keep reading this year is an audition for next year’s team. But without that cap flexibility it is a tougher sell to resign anyone currently on the roster for a salary bump. All players being hired will have to fit within the cap constraints making being currently on the roster rather moot unless they don’t expect much of a salary bump vs their hold.

  71. As to what, if any, clear strategy the head coach & FO are following with regard to the lineups (specifically our big fellas and 4s):
    In MD´A´s case, it is true he´s had to deal with 2 injury plagued seasons and a somewhat handcuffed FO, however, i also believe that in some way the SSOL way of doing things, and many keen posters here have alluded to it several times, has created a two-headed beast of the squad.That is, the coach would really like to implement HIS vision of a contending team, that is of course a slightly revamped(?) SSOL plan, to the detriment of the bigs and to the less than able, for the time being, strecth 4s (after all, Kelly is a rookie & our other 4s are not elite plyers in this league.).
    The apparent flip-flop of the use of Kaman & Hill over Sacre & Kelly lately is therefore, IMO, par for the course of that Jekyll-Hyde basketball mind that our head coach seems to display and must struggle with every day of his professional life. As John Lennon once sang: `How do you sleep at nights?´; in this case of course, it would refer to Dantoni tossing and turning in some hotel somewhere thinking: what the heck do I do to get what I want out of my squad and how should the above mentioned players fit in?
    With regard to the FO: I feel that Mitch and JIm & whoever else is involved in the process of putting together a contender have rolled wtih the punches as best as they have been able. That would include the invariables and the `klunker´-type desicions that have come our (sic) way, In the wake of all that has come down like the rock of Gibraltar on the organization these past two and a half years, the fact that there seems to be so much uncertainty as to how things will pan out leaves the FO, unfortunately, in a kind of holding pattern that to the public eye, i.e. us fans, looks too much like a lack of decision-making and boldness.
    But I am truly of the opinion that despite the missteps & the dark horizon of seemingly endless uncertainty, our ship will be righted soon enough. What we need as a team, as the great Chick Hearn used to reiterate often (and allow me to paraphrase here) is: “to be very good, & if you´re lucky as well, then boy, you got it made!´´
    Both the Lakers´ FO and our head coach must work incessantly toward being very, very good; and this Forum Blue and Gold hearted die-hard feels that´s exactly where the people whose responsibilities are to make that happen are trying desperately to do.

  72. Why do we continue to blame Jim/Mitch for players being benched or getting minutes? As far as I have ever heard, on any NBA team, that’s a coaches decision. I hate to be the old grumpy guy here, but let’s be rational with the criticism. Mitch has nothing to do with who plays or does not play, other than maybe signing or trading for players. Please stop this non sense. It sinks your otherwise stellar comments.

    I agree that the non-play by Kaman/Hill is frustrating. But that’s MDAs problem and criticism should fit squarely on him.

  73. Next season…Kobe….bring back Gasol at a smaller salary….trade for Love…get a good draft pick….keep your best 5 or 6 players on the team now… Gasol…Love…Bryant… Draft pick…Farmar with Bench of Marshall,Bazemore,Young,Williams plus couple more..Not bad…

  74. What’s so confusing? D’Antoni has a way he wants to play, he has players for any particular game with various skills, and he adjusts as he gets or doesn’t get the results he wants. Losing means he’s constantly searching, and players, depending how they play, are in and out of his favor. Whether or not his philosophies are sound is a matter of opinion, but we’ll eventually reach a point where the results will speak for themselves.

    Kupchak, whether you agree with his decisions or not, has integrity. He represents an organization that plays to win, and tanking to get a better lottery pick is not acceptable. Most people, and the league, do not condone it. And apparently Kupchak’s philosophy is that the coaches and players you have now, and creating a winning discipline and atmosphere, is a higher priority than a lottery pick. Nothing says you have to like it, but what’s to understand?

    Laker ownership must have some idea of what they can spend. They certainly understand the cap. If they make a decision to sign a contract, or to keep a contract that prevents them from getting under the cap, then that’s their business. They must think they’ll have the flexibility needed, so we’ll have to wait to see what happens.

  75. Mitch has nothing to do with who plays or does not play,

    Probably, but not necessarily.

  76. Gene: Please tell me how the Lakers are going to trade for Love? What assets do we have that could yield a top 10 player?

    In my view the only way we get Love is by signing him as a FA next Summer. In order to do that the Lakers will have to hold cap space over from this summer. This means obtaining payers on the cheap – like we did this season.

    If MDA stays then I can’t see any of our FA bigs wanting to return. His rotations have really frustrated Pau/Kaman/Hill. Additionally, you have to view Kobe as a question mark in terms of whether he can stay healthy and regain his 2012/13 form.

    We’ll have to see how the FO plays their cards this summer. If they take a short term approach and sign a top tier FA, like Melo, then the Lakers may be competitive next season – although they will sacrifice signing Love the following summer. If they forgo any big investments this summer then you can assume they are looking at the summer of 2015 (Love) or 2016 (Durant/Westbrook). Of course that means the team’s won/loss records will be frustrating for another two years.

  77. The implication Mitch made is that D’Antoni and everyone is being evaluated. Kupchak wants to see improvement and players performing for the coaching staff. This would run contrary to any notion that the GM is making coaching decisions. He wants people to do their jobs.

  78. MannyP: “But that’s MDA’s problem and criticism should fit squarely on him.” Wow. Let me just take that comment in for a minute : ) Love ya Manny. Now agreed to some extent, but every Boss must answer for the actions of their subordinates. MD works at whose direction and who hired him? Therefore they are responsible. And to be clear I am not calling for anyone’s head (at the moment anyway). I’m just pointing out the inconsisency. That is why rr is my GM. He says things that are consistent with what he has previously said, and changes his mind only gradually. I like that. Being that I am one of the most consistent (some would say redundant) people on the board.
    rfn: “He wants people to do their jobs.” Does his apply thrughout the organization? Because the jobs should be: Mitch runs the team, Mike coaches the team, Jim handles TW. From the Movie Rock Star: “AC and I write the songs – you sing the songs”

  79. Sid: “Of course that means the team’s won/loss records will be frustrating for another two years.” Can you guarantee me only 2? Where do I sign? If MDA stays then I can’t see any of our FA bigs wanting to return.” So can you see any FA big coming here?

  80. and creating a winning discipline and atmosphere, is a higher priority than a lottery pick.

    Like I said two weeks ago, that horse has left the barn. The Lakers are 19-37; any window that they had to have a Dallas Mavericks-type season, which I what I think the FO was trying to do, closed weeks ago. If the Lakers go 22-4 the rest of the season, they will be 41-41–and still in the lottery.

    But, if we take your sentence at face value, and that was in fact their objective, then all that does is bring us back to the basic question: why were Kelly and Sacre playing to begin with? These are not guys who are hot prospects; we are talking about guys picked 48th and 60th, respectively who are going to have learning curves. It was pretty clear that heavier minutes for Kaman and Hill was the best short-term option, and that Kelly and Sacre were not guys that you wanted out there much–unless you were playing for the future. Kupchak himself talked about balancing next year and this year, and how that balance may change on a team.

    Also, I am not really “confused.” I was being diplomatic. I think benching those guys to play Kaman now is probably a mistake, in view if what has come before.

    As far as the stuff about professionalism, etc, the goal in the NBA is to win the title, and there are times when in order to pursue that goal, a team needs to take a step back. The Lakers, as an organization, are in such a time. The players who suit up should absolutely play as hard as they can in each game. It is the job of the FO to superimpose the long-term interests of the org. over that.

  81. “Like I said two weeks ago, that horse has left the barn. The Lakers are 19-37; any window that they had to have a Dallas Mavericks-type season, which I what I think the FO was trying to do, closed weeks ago. If the Lakers go 22-4 the rest of the season, they will be 41-41–and still in the lottery.”

    I hate to repeat myself, but it’s simply a matter of you and the Laker organization having a different view of what’s important. They’re not trying to make the playoffs. They probably have no final W-L record as a goal. They want to improve as a team this season, and to evaluate coaches and players they’ve already hired, and may or may not be part of their future. They take pride in what they do, they have respect for the Lakers and the league, and they’re going to play to win. They don’t care about the lottery as much as you do, or maybe it’s better to say they have real jobs to do now, and therefore have different priorities. That’s just the way it is.

    You and D’Antoni obviously don’t agree on things either, but he’s coach of the Lakers. Kelly and Sacre played because D’Antoni thought they were the best options. And we don’t know what the coach sees in practice, or how minor injuries or fatigue is effecting every player. He doesn’t go by where players were drafted. He liked Kelly’s smarts and skills and as a stretch-4. Sacre is young, strong, and battles defensively. D’Antoni marches to his own drummer. It doesn’t have to make any more sense than that. Now Kelly’s hit the wall, etc.; Kaman’s playing well, so they’re going with that at the moment.

  82. @rr
    Very well said my friend.

  83. For reasons known to the coach,

    This pretty much summarizes it.

  84. They take pride in what they do, they have respect for the Lakers and the league, and they’re going to play to win.
    Kelly and Sacre played because D’Antoni thought they were the best options

    this is a really good post – well said.
    It is probably the closest thing to the truth that any of us will find as we scratch our heads and try to make sense of a frustrating season for everyone.

  85. it is my opinion that the GM occasionally discusses playing time and personnel w a coach.
    Probably not as a directive – play this player – but rather,
    ‘how does this player look to you?
    How do you feel about him? It seems like he may be able to contribute (in a certain area).’
    I’m almost certain those type of conversations take place between the engineer of the roster and the coach installed to steer the ship.

  86. I hope you guys are right. I think there is more to it. Hill and Kamen seem like independent guys. Not yes man. Their appearance may not be what Mike likes. Kelly and Rob seem to be yes men who jump through hoops for MD.

    Consciously or subconsciously I feel that has something to do with the DNPs and limited time of both players. Even my 9 year old son knew they were far supierior players to Kelly/Sacre.

    I am sure if they don’t resign we will find out the truth.

  87. The comments about the Lakers not tanking are a bit amusing. Pau would have been traded for the right draft pick and salary cap relief. That would have made the Lakers worse for the rest of this season but could have helped make them competitive again sooner. Blake was having one of his best seasons when he was traded. He improved as a point guard and remains a very reliable 3 point shooter. The Lakers will probably lose a game or two without him.

    It looks like the Laker FO underestimated the value of having cap space in regards to being able to make trades. Had they been in the position of being able to take extra salary or at least not have to dump salary they may have been able to get the 1st round pick they coveted.

  88. It’s not a fantasy league.

    The 76ers, the Bucks, the Magic, and the Celtics all play in a real league, too. Philly traded Hawes and Turner; Orlando bought out Davis. Gerald Wallace and Brandon Bass have played in every game for the Celtics. The Lakers did make a nice trade involving Steve Blake, but OTOH are apparently not going to buy out Kaman, were not able to trade him, and have made inconsistent and occasionally puzzling decisions about his playing time.

    Injuries have of course played a role here, and I am sure MDA has his reasons. But I just don’t see any good arguments for sitting Kaman six weeks ago and playing him now, based on what we know.

  89. I wrote about this earlier this year and have commented about it on twitter a fair amount, but at the time that Sacre and Kelly were getting extended minutes the lineup data suggested that the team performed well when they were on the floor. The samples weren’t big — and I mentioned that at the time — but there was a statistical argument for them to see minutes. And, as has been mentioned, they are also young(ish) players who need playing time to see how they respond against NBA level talent. The fact that they were playing over Hill and Kaman is frustrating considering those two are more established players, but I’d argue it was worth seeing if those numbers the team was producing while those guys played was sustainable. It turns out, they weren’t. And now Hill and Kaman are back in the lineup.

    I also agree with the idea that we’re not privy to all the information. We don’t watch film with the coaches/players and we’re not in practices. Even the parts of practice the media sees is are only a sliver of what actually takes place during those sessions. There is simply a lot we don’t know.

    That said, I understand the frustration of seeing the team lose games that seem winnable and when that is happening how easy it is to look at the coach, his strategies, rotations, and lineup combinations and wonder why he did things one way versus another. It’s only natural. If I had my druthers the team would have been employing a three man big rotation of Pau, Kaman, and Hill with spot minutes for Kelly at PF. I would not have Wes playing any PF at all and, when the team was reasonably healthy — I don’t count Nash or Kobe here since they’ve not been healthy all year; nor do I count Henry since he’s also been out a long time now — I would have played Blake and Farmar as PG’s only and rolled with Meeks, Young, and Wes as the main wings. When Harris was on the roster he would have played and now that Brooks and Bazemore are with the team they would also see minutes at the wing spots along with Young, Meeks, and Wes with Farmar and Marshall playing PG. This would make for a crowded wing rotation and maybe there would be times where someone didn’t see minutes (at this point, it might be Wes since he’s the guy who brings the least to the table on O and, while solid, can gamble too much for taste on D) but that’s what happens in a crowded rotation.

    But that’s just me — I prefer a more traditional lineup. This coach wants a more stretchy lineup, but that’s his style. A lot of people don’t agree with his approach and there’s an argument to be made that with the stretch PF’s he had available this year (Williams, Kelly, Wes) that he should have abandoned his style and played more traditionally. However, again, he has his preferences and I’m mostly a believer in the philosophy that a coach should coach the style he wants to since he’s going to be held responsible for the results regardless.

    Said another way, if you’re going to go down with your ship, you might as well steer it however you see fit even if people don’t agree with you. It’s more complicated than that, of course, and there’s a risk in alienating players or having outsiders turn against you, but as the coach it’s your name on the line and if you can manage your locker room well enough (and this coach, whether you want to credit the contract status of the players or not, seems to have done a relatively good job of keeping the peace in his locker room) you might as well just do things your way since you’re the one that is held accountable anyway.

  90. Even the Laker players are tiring of MiD:

    LOS ANGELES — As far a blockbuster trades go, the Los Angeles Lakers deciding to swap Steve Blake to the Golden State Warriors this week for two little-known bench players and save the team $4 million in salary and luxury tax fees barely made a blip on the radar.

    But those little-known players, Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks, are suddenly being played a lot and that seemingly minor deadline deal has the rest of the Lakers feeling out of whack.

    Nick Young made his comeback to the lineup in Sunday’s 108-102 loss to the Brooklyn Nets after missing the past six games because of a non-displaced fracture of the patella and a bone bruise in his left knee, and admitted that he may have rushed his return.

    “They was actually telling me to wait until it’s pain-free, but I just love the game of basketball and I want to get out there as fast as I can,” Young said after putting up 10 points on 3-for-4 shooting in 20 minutes.

    Young undoubtedly loves to play more than most in his sport, but his decision wasn’t entirely altruistic. Young’s contract expires at the end of the season and there will be money to be had on the free-agent market if he proves he can still play over this final stretch to the season.

    To prove it, he’ll need playing time, something he feared could be dwindling with Bazemore averaging 31 minutes in his first two games with L.A., Brooks averaging 21 minutes and Xavier Henry set to return in a week from the bone bruise in his right knee.

    “When you see players out there — like when we had four point guards — you don’t want to be lost in the shuffle,” Young said. “I wanted to get back.”

    Young wanted to be back so bad that when he was re-examined this week by Lakers physician Steve Lombardo, he did not opt for an MRI exam on his knee as a final clearance.

    “I’d rather not know it,” Young said. “I told Doc I was ready.”

    While it has been a fairytale turn of events for Bazemore and Brooks to go from nightly DNPs to averaging 16 and 10.5 points, respectively, through their first two games with the purple and gold, it has been unsettling to the glut of wing players the Lakers already had on the roster.

    After an up-and-down season, Wesley Johnson had finally found his rhythm, averaging 16.6 points in seven games in February leading up to the trade deadline. In the two games since L.A. made the Blake deal? Johnson has scored four points while taking five shots and will now find minutes only at the stretch-4 position, rather than his natural wing spot.

    “I’ve got to clear some room for Nick Young to be able to play and we’re going to have Xavier Henry back and we’re going to have a log-jam back there,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We want to see MarShon Brooks, he was playing well. We want to see Bazemore. We want Xavier Henry. So these are all the guys, so Wesley Johnson’s going to have to be able to play the 4 a little bit. We still want to see him and we’ll see how that goes.”

    Pau Gasol, who was trying to keep positive as recently as a couple of days ago when he realized he would be finishing out the season in L.A. when no deadline deal included him, sees what’s going on and says he doesn’t think it’s a breeding ground for success.

    “We’ll see how it goes for the next [26] games that we have left,” Gasol said. “The coach decides to rotate these guys and I doubt there is going to be any consistency on their minutes. So, they’re just going to have to be ready to play, bring the energy and do their best.”

    It’s a fair to point out that at 19-37, the Lakers really shouldn’t owe any playing time to any of the players who contributed to that terrible record, but at the same time, there seems to be a lack of loyalty.

    “I think it changed a lot,” Johnson said of the Blake trade. “I think for us having the players that we did have and then really getting the same type of players that came in, it just added more bodies and people are coming back from their injuries and everything, so we’re really just trying to find some type of chemistry. Find some type of flow now. At this point, it’s kind of hard.”

    Other players are recognizing what’s going on. When Robert Sacre received his first DNP in more than a month Friday, Jordan Hill yelled out to him across the locker room, “Great work tonight, Rob.” Not to chide him, but more so bring attention to the snub. When Kendall Marshall didn’t get off the bench in the final quarter Sunday, Young interrupted his talk with the media to shout out, “All right, Kendall. Maybe next fourth quarter.”

    With two months left in the season, the Lakers seem to be throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks, trotting out their 29th different starting lineup of the season Sunday.

    “We are still trying to figure it out,” Marshall said. “We are playing with a different lineup and the minutes have been ranging, so we are still trying to get a feel for each other.”

    The problem is, at this point, with no mutual goal of making the postseason keeping the group together, it is more about “me” than “we” moving forward.

    “I just want to play,” Young said. “We ain’t got too many games left and I don’t know what’s going to happen after the season, so I just want to have that Laker uniform on.”

  91. Darius: I understand your points, and as you imply, when you do things an unconventional way, and it is not successful, then that is going to be questioned, as it should be. Nobody would try to imitate the free throw shooting methods employed by either Wilt or Shaq. They used questionable methods and the results were poor. They would not change, and as we know – they both thought they were deploying methods that gave them better chances to make the shots. I am sure this coach feels his methods are giving us the best chance to win. Just like Shaq and Wilt from the line, the method is unconventional and the results are poor.

    “since you’re the one that is held accountable anyway.” “he’s going to be held responsible for the results regardless.” At what point will he be held responsible? I have been saying this for two years. MD is a master at keeping his job. He wins – he is a genius and a motivator (at 9-10 no less). He loses – he has built in excuses of injuries, dysfunctional ownership, and a poor roster. This is the year end debate and it always has been.

    “there’s a risk in alienating players or having outsiders turn against you” Outsiders being a very key part of the sentence.

  92. Thanks Darius.

  93. I don’t frequent this site nearly as much as I used to due to the busyness of life, but when I do and in dire times like these, I enjoy reading the diatribe on all things Laker…particularly from you, Robert. Thanks to all, though. It’s a nice respite.

  94. Elgin Baylor is an example of a GM who followed his bosses wishes and didn’t try to rock the boat with arguing for what he thought best – at least he never talked about it with the press. He never “walked” when his boss took directions he thought were stupid. As a result he never ran-his-own-ship. As a GM, what do people think of him today? – not very much!

    Your way might be right, or your way might be wrong, but if you believe in it why not be completely yourself and follow it – see a recent Jason Collins comment.

  95. Thanks Jane
    I sometimes come here so I can procrastinate the busyness of life : )

  96. I don’t see a conspiracy in the rotations being used. It does appear that the otherwise cohesive locker room has been irked somewhat by Mitch’s recent acquisitions playing so much as reported on ESPN, “Minor Trade having major implications.”

    I believe not getting under the cap was a major failure. The rebuilding effort will go on but it hamstrings efforts especially limiting the possibility of role players this year returning. I believe Mitch was protecting the brand. To not be seen as trading something for nothing. To not be an organization that stresses finances over winning. I believe the brand was more important to the F.O. then doing what would otherwise be the most logical decisions to make.

  97. Darius,

    Thanks for your comments. They echo and encapsulate sentiments that many of us have been expressing almost all season long — only with a greater degree of balance and calm.

    I suspect that when the season finally ends, any coaching decision will not be made based on win-loss record (which has been horribly skewed by the Lakers’ many injuries) but by judgements such as D’Antoni’s use of his players. And the answer will not be an easy one.

    On the one hand, there have been some very positive results. (Let’s remember that the team was playing .500 ball through the first 26 games of the year, largely without a healthy Kobe.) The development and use of players such as Xavier Henry, Nick Young (who has been more than merely an offensive gunner), Wes Johnson, Kendall Marshall, Jordan Farmar, and –more recently– Kent Basemore and MarShon Brooks is evidence of a coach who seems to know how to develop and maximize talent, especially his guards.

    On the other hand, as we all know, there is the more controversial –and to some– extremely questionable side of MDA’s rotations, his erratic use and , on occasion, alarming neglect of Chris Kaman and Jordan Hill. Also, we should not forget how befuddled D’Antoni seemed last year in his use of Pau Gasol and how frustrated Gasol was as a result.

    The two –MDA’s use of wings and his use of traditional big men– have got to be balanced against one another. The decision of whether to keep D’Antoni or not (and I don’t believe that decision has been made) could be the biggest decision of the off season even though his contract is not at an end. And it could tell us a great deal about the perspective and the courage of the present Front Office. It should be a very interesting summer.

  98. Mid- agree, and well said.

    Vasheed- Kupchak has stated that next season, due to the way the CBA works in conjunction with their upcoming cap space, that the Lakers won’t be tax payers regardless who they sign, since exceeding the cap and incurring the tax is virtually impossible to do when signing Free Agents, unless they are retaining their own players (in this case probably only Pau)
    Any tax they’re paying this year is minimal and therefore not of any consequence.
    This per an article I read about a week ago when he was interviewed by Mike Trudell.

    As Mid-W stated above, pride and self-preservation of the Laker brand are kicking in.

    That makes even more sense in light of comments recently made by K Love as he publicly wondered, what’s better about the Lakers than the Timberwolves?

  99. “The 76ers, the Bucks, the Magic, and the Celtics all play in a real league, too.”

    Each team has reasons for doing what they do. At the end of the season for non-playoff teams, a lot of it’s about money and future assets. Blake was said to be traded to make room on the roster for guys who are considered part of the future. Not worse players, younger.

    I’m not making any argument that tries to support the Laker FO or coaching as always being wise. We’ll see how they do if they can ever put together something that stays reasonably healthy. What I’m saying is that they’re trying to do their jobs the best they can. Their jobs are much more involved than sitting around waiting for the lottery. Kaman plays now because D’Antoni feels it gives the team a better chance to win. The situation is always changing, but winning today’s game is still and always the goal.

  100. Report

    The Kings are attempting to buy-out Jimmer Ferdette. Question: Who will Madd Mike D try to get rid of in order to sign his quintessential pg gunner?