A Key Question for Next Season

Darius Soriano —  March 20, 2014

With only 15 games left in this forgettable campaign — or maybe it is a memorable one for all the wrong reasons — the shift in focus from this season to next is basically complete. Wins and losses this year matter more from the perspective of how they impact lottery odds and draft position than anything else.

With that, the questions that are being asked now relate to prospect watching and the NCAA tournament, who the team should draft should players X/Y/Z be available, what free agents the Lakers should chase, and whether or not Mike D’Antoni should be retained. Nearly everyone has strong opinions on these questions (especially the last one) and these have become the major talking points in this final month of the season.

I would argue, however, that the biggest question isn’t any of those listed above, but a more foundational one: whoever coaches the team next year, will he be flexible enough to adapt his philosophy to the roster he has at his disposal?

If Mike D’Antoni is that man, I think it is very much fair to doubt that this will be the case.

Whatever you think of D’Antoni, it cannot be argued that last season he showed a fair amount of flexibility in what offense he ran in attempting to maximize his roster. No, Pau Gasol wasn’t optimized, but at least he played next to Dwight Howard often. He was also utilized as a decision maker in the team’s HORNS sets, playing a fair amount at the elbows with the ball in his hands.

Beyond Gasol, the Lakers’ offense also featured a fair amount of direct post ups for Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant. Both preferred to work from the post and both got opportunities to do so — even if both would likely say they wanted more of those chances. Both also got to work in isolation more than a typical D’Antoni offense would allow. Go back and watch the tape and you will find many times where Kobe and Dwight got the ball in the mid post (or further), had teammates clear a side, and then got a chance to work one-on-one against their defender. These are the types of actions both players have utilized most of their careers and D’Antoni did a decent job of accommodating them last season — something I don’t think he got enough credit for.

This year, however, those adjustments have not been present. Gasol is better utilized this season than last, but has been used more as the lone big man on the floor in an offense that resembles what D’Antoni would traditionally run. The HORNS sets that were so prevalent last year have all but vanished and have been replaced almost entirely by sets predicated on pick and rolls or ball reversals through the big men at the top of the key.

This style has also led to an abandonment of nearly all lineups that feature two traditional big men, especially as the season has progressed. This has translated to D’Antoni swapping out Hill and Kaman in favor of Shawne Williams, Ryan Kelly and Wes Johnson as the primary frontcourt partners for Pau. And while all three of the latter players have their strengths (with Kelly projecting well as a nice offensive player as a stretch big man), I don’t think it can be argued who the more effective players are at this stage of their respective careers.

The counter to this is that lineup data shows what groups have been more effective this season and an examination of these groups point to the more successful lineups having guys like Williams, Kelly, and Johnson playing the PF. However, when adjustments to playing style are not necessarily made and there is an emphasis on pushing the pace and taking shots early in the clock (the Lakers play at the 2nd fastest pace this year), I would argue you are probably not going to get the most out of a lineup that features two of the Pau/Kaman/Hill trio on the floor together.

Ultimately, maybe D’Antoni didn’t see enough of a talent disparity between the bigs he chose to play versus the ones he did not to make the types of adjustments he did the year before. It’s not like Hill and Kaman are Dwight Howard and necessarily deserve to be catered to. It probably also helped that Kobe wasn’t on the floor to dictate more of how the offense was deployed — remember, he was a major beneficiary of the teams HORNS sets last year. In the end, though, what D’Antoni showed this year was that his marriage to his system mattered more than making adjustments to maximize the likes of Hill or Kaman.

This was his right, of course. He is the head coach. And I have long argued that if you’re going to be held accountable for the results the team produces, you might as well go about achieving those results in whatever manner you see fit. That said, when heading into the next season the Lakers must ask themselves if this year’s inflexibility in terms of style of play and in lineup deployment will carry over into future seasons. If that answer is “yes”, the answer to whether this coach stays on may be the opposite.

Darius Soriano

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77 responses to A Key Question for Next Season

  1. You are giving too much credit to MDA adapting last yr. Those ISOs/ post ups for Kobe and Dwight were player initiated, players respect Kobe and if he says give me the dam ball in the post and clear out ppl listen. Any attempt to defend this man is a horrendous crime

  2. D’Antoni did not implement those changes last season, it Was reported that Nash & Bryant “forced” D’Antonia hand in running the offense, that’s why they went on a nice run last season.
    And that’s why with no Nash or Bryant there has been no adjustments this season

  3. Since I want to retain Pau and, if so, we need a rim defender, I come to the conclusion MDA cannot be retained for next year and I won’t comment further about this for the rest of the campaign. What I am interested in is who we would like to coach next year – given that we will probably still be rebuilding – and who do we think would take the job?

  4. I listened to the 1.5 hr interview with Jeannie Buss today on the Ireland/Mason show. Jeannie says she is boss and Jim effectively reports to her. She represents the Lakers at NBA meetings. She has confidence in Jim and Mitch. Jim and Mitch are in sync as to what to do going forward. She understands fans are frustrated with this year – she is frustrated with this year – but don’t sell your season tickets because you will lose out on the future and the Laker family currently surrounding your seats.

    It was a great and wide-ranging interview and I encourage everyone to listen to the podcast.

  5. George Karl. Or ::: shudder :::: Gregg Popovich. Just imagine …

  6. The interview with Jeanie gave out no new information except that Jeanie can fire anyone she wants….Other then that she gave out what isx expected…The team will get better..lots of injuries…everyone on the same page…. Blah..Blah.. Blah…

  7. I would love for Pau to stay a Laker, but I still think that the constant trade rumors (and the failed trade) will make him look for greener pastures. Its a shame, as I think resigning him for the right amount would give this team the flexibility to pursue KLove or the other Gasol in 2015.

  8. There were two major adjustments last season.
    The decision to slow down the pace and play through the post was decided by the players in a players only meeting in Memphis. The second adjustment was when Kobe decided to switch to PG. These adjustments had nothing to do with MDA. Sure, MDA gets a little credit for going along with the…ummm…strong suggestion… made by the players, but as Antwan Jamison stated, MDA does not make adjustments from game to game, or at halftime.

  9. I think Lionel Hollins is a decent candidate depending on the roster. If the Lakers want to play big and slow, Hollins has shown he has the ability to make it work.

    Thibs would be the ideal coach for this team no matter what the roster is made up of. He is everything that MDA is not. He prioritizes defense, he maximizes talent, veterans respect him, he has steady rotations despite injuries, he makes adjustments, he doesn’t make excuses when his star players are injured, and I would guess that free agents who want to win would be drawn to Thibs.

  10. Unless he was told to audition players he has no justification for shuffling players the entire season. There were times when injuries were an issue, but lineups were shuffled from game to game for no apparent reason at all. Right out of training camp there was no set line up besides pau and nash. The success of the two bigs in the preseason didn’t mean anything to mike. Therefore, he has been playing games tom day one! Jordan Hill played with heart and energy last season, after sitting until there was no other option. This season? back on the bench. You can’t win by running players into the ground just to score quickly. No defense, no rebounding, lack of fundamental play on both sides of the ball. Not to mention getting blown out by a kins ransom nearly every game by marginal teams…..time to go!!

  11. @ LT,

    I was skeptical when melo had a problem with d’antoni. When Jamison, Hill, Kayman, and pau have issues, then I doubt if free agents will come to la and play for an erratic coach with no plan, except to shoot

  12. darius: ” whoever coaches the team next year, will he be flexible enough to adapt his philosophy to the roster he has at his disposal? ”

    you are absolutely right and begs the question: who should the lakers be looking at to replace the incumbent laker head coach? therein lies the fundamental and arduous task the front office (if it hasn’t already) will need to create and a clearer vision as to the direction the team will undertake as it relates to adding/drafting/acquiring new players. the philosophy of keeping and getting good/great players is the easy part. finding a way to get good/great players to play well together is the main job of the head coach.

    time to do some head hunting. I mean head coach hunting. no time like the present.

    thanks for the subliminal suggestion

    Go lakers

  13. What about giving the Princeton offense another shot, but this time under Byron Scott? He’s used is with every team he’s coached (sometimes with better results than others). He’s obviously close to Kobe, and, Bryant was enthusiastic about the Princeton for that brief period during 2012 training camp and the first few games, before Brown was fired and D’Antoni hired.

  14. Good post.

    I would just like to add that last year’s Laker team was 5th in Pace Factor and 3rd in 3PA and this year’s team is 2nd in Pace Factor and 7th in 3PA.

  15. rr,
    Yep, I don’t think there were any concessions in terms of pace or the value of shooting three pointers last year. I do think there were concessions in how plays were initiated and what the sets looked like when the team was forced to settle into halfcourt actions.

  16. I think this is a good post and fits with a question that has been on my mind, namely do the Lakers draft for need or best player available? I know this is a perpetual debate, but if MD remains coach, shouldn’t the team then draft appropriately? Unless the FO thinks he is a placeholder for a year?

    I’ve been watching this kid Payne from Michigan State thinking he would fit nicely next to Pau (perhaps at a lower pick in the first round), but would he fit in MD’s system? Or would Pau even come back at a much lower salary to play for MD?

    I also have real doubts about MD being the coach of a high pick in a losing environment. Not sure MD will be able to handle that positively.

  17. If the rumors of Kobe and D’Antoni having a falling out are true it wouldn’t surprise me if the moment came when Kobe answered a question about him having to make adjustments with the team playing well. Kobe responded (correctly) that at 10-9 the team, “wasn’t exactly playing like gangbusters”.

    To my utter amazement D’Antoni responded by basically saying Kobe was dead wrong, that the team was indeed playing really well and implied that the onus was on Kobe to make it work within his system. Based on those comments you would have thought it was a coach with gravitas like Phil Jackson or Pat Riley coaching a team to 16-3 with Kobe out.

    Instead it was an average NBA coach with no significant accomplishments coaching a team playing .500 ball calling out a 5-time champ and one of the greatest players of all time. The same player that literally dragged last year’s team criminally underachieving team into the playoffs before his body gave out.

    Now I’m not a Kobe fanboy but D’Antoni’s comments drove me crazy so I know they must of driven Kobe up a wall to hear that. Kobe’s idea of “success” (along with most Laker fans) and D’Antoni’s idea of success are not the same and those comments made that abundantly clear.

  18. Rex do you have some sort of link? I’m not questioning you but I thought it would be interesting to read more into that matter as I honestly don’t recall it. I’m surprised MDA would even consider saying that.

  19. Teamn–

    There are a lot of gray areas WRT the Lakers right now, but one I thing about which I personally am adamant is that the Lakers should take whoever the FO thinks the best guy on the board is when they pick. The Lakers need any and all kinds of talent, so they should not worry about fit with MDA’s system or another system, or about fitting with Kobe etc. Identify the best guy and get him on the team. I think this is true whether they pick 1st or 9th.

  20. Will the Buss children hire another micro-manager for a coach or will they try to find a coach who will empower the players? Brown and D’Antonio share the same traits of needing to control all activities on the court. Jackson was the exact opposite to a fault, letting the players try to figure things out even if they lost a few games doing so. As for this season, the Lakers simply do not have 5 players who would start for other NBA teams. For that matter I am not sure if they have any who would. It did not matter who the coach was since they were going to miss the playoffs anyway. As an organization, the Lakers need to figure out who they are and what they would like to be. That would help them decide what players to keep and whether or not to change coaches.

  21. Unfortunately this coach is not going anywhere.very unfortunately.

  22. If it were up to me, I would give the Timberwolves GM a call to ask who he values most in the draft.

  23. To the question of drafting for need vs. the best player available – since the Lakers have holes (absolutely everywhere!!!) I would think they would draft for the best player available.

    ‘Course, it seems equally obvious to me (to legions of us) that MDA must go, so we shall see.

  24. whether MDA is the Lakers coach next year should be decided before free agency begins. After the season, Mitch and Jim will decide (if they haven’t already) what direction they want to go with free agents which will be dictated in large part by coach and philosophy. that is to say we will know very soon what the plan is going forward. If Kobe has an issue with MDA as people seem to think, I doubt he will be back next year.

  25. Now that Jeanie says she is the boss(and can fire anyone at anytime)…Does she get the blame if the FO doenst do a good job_?

  26. After listening to the interview with Jeannie, I think the FO has a direction and all we are trying to do is fathom what that is. I don’t think anything we say will change anything already decided.

    I also think it is pretty clear the FO will draft who they think is the best player, regardless of position. Not only are we not in a position to fill in where needed, but we would hopefully draft a potential star (even if that star needs development), then free agents could be signed to add to our starting lineup.

  27. KEVIN DING
    Lakers waited 20 minutes for Jordan Hill, who was late for team photo. Then they went ahead without him.

  28. Not everybody is focused on next year:

    “We just got to finish the year off not being the worst team in Lakers history,” said Nick Young, who will play Friday against the Washington Wizards for the first time since Feb. 23 because of a left knee injury. “I talked to Pau (Gasol) about it and he’s been on me about coming back, so I’m trying to come back and help the team out.”

    “I think the goal is to try to get 30-plus [wins],” Young said. “It’s been tough. ”

    http://espn.go.com/los-angeles/nba/story//id/10641258/nick-young-says-los-angeles-lakers-want-avoid-worst-record-franchise-history?ex_cid=espnapipublic

    I remember posting a couple of months ago, wondering about having guys like Nick Young trying to get the Lakers to 30-35 wins…

  29. I bet Jeanie cant fire Jim she is not running the team abd she has no part in basketball decisions. She just said the things she is expected to say. Nothing knew here, i wont take anything she ir Jim say at face value until we start seeing results. I believe what Mitch says thats it.

  30. Ugh – I think the Jeanie comments on jim and mitch having an idea on how this team will play and the comments made by Mitch which stated that dantoni has done a good job and with all the injuries this year I think dantoni will be getting a pass and get next year to have fair shot – which I think he already had last year.

    I do think though he is going to get canned midway through next year when we are under 500 before the all star break and it will cost us another year and bring about the possibility of Kobe chasing a ring somewhere else possibly even in new york for one year or even across the hall for less money in case he is worried about a divorce if he went to NY

    If Dantoni stays … our whole front line is gone unless they resign Pau to a kobe like deal around 15+ million – personally id like pau to finish up his career here and get his number up on the wall so here’s hoping

    Im also worried that they will be thinking that Nash will have a good year next year which will stop us from going after lowry – who I think will be the best achievable free agent target next summer – 2 way player who is balling for the raptors

    Also Kudos to Phil for signing Shanwow for the whole season … guy needs to be in the NBA

  31. If we refuse to believe Jeannie & we refuse to believe Jim, exactly why are we here as Laker fans? The ownership represents the team far more than us individual fans; and since it is a family owned business, this is especially true.

    At some point we fans have to put some faith/belief in something or else we just become bitter, negative people. It would be better to support the Clippers and live a more positive life.

  32. Thanks Dave. He was more passive than Rex described and more political in his approach. I can’t see that being the main reason why Kobe doesn’t want to play for him. Maybe one of the reasons, but not the main one.

  33. Craig,

    We all have different focal points as fans. You focus very intently on supporting the front office and ownership, but most people are more focused on the team actually winning games–which they aren’t doing.

    I listened to Jeanie’s interview; it was a standard PR move, reminiscent of her dad’s yearly interviews. The organization needed to speak to the fans for PR reasons since the team is in disarray, and answer all the standard questions that the fans have been asking, and Jeanie was the person for that job and that’s fine. Mason and Ireland did a nice job of asking the pointed questions, and she gave exactly the answers that one would expect: Kobe will come back, having him for 20 years is all kinds of cool, Jim knows what he is doing, we are going to rock free agency, we are still the Lakers etc.

    So Jeanie’s interview was nice, but it doesn’t matter. The team needs to get some talent and start winning again. The rest of what the org. says is mostly noise.

  34. Lakers’ Fanbase Tunes out Terrible Season as TV Ratings and Attendance Plummet

    Down 49%.

    Time Warner Cable raising their prices again.

  35. It really doesn’t matter if I support the FO or not. If nothing the team is doing is to my liking and I don’t believe the people responsible for running the team, I’m not sure why I would continue to frequent blogs about that team. Spend my time elsewhere until things turned around or I lost interest completely. Continuing to complain about the same thing would seem to be somewhat a waste of time.

    I read this blog to see who people are interested in and why – particularly as it relates to players (both professional and incoming college) and coaches. I want to broaden my knowledge of the Lakers and share my insights. Continuous carping about Jim Buss isn’t nearly as interesting.

  36. Ko,
    This season certainly had a lot to do with this, but so did the injuries to Kobe Bryant. People want to watch Kobe. It is the main reason the FO chose to resign him and to overpay (in many opinions) in the process.

  37. I thought they wanted to watch Shawn Williams?

    But yes I agree Kobe got the $48 as part of TW deal. Not many people tinning in to see Marshall, Sacre, Kelly and the back of Kaman’s head.

  38. I think a large reason for the confusion and disbelief amongst Lakers fans regarding the front office is MD’A’s coaching style. When we see Sacre playing ahead of Kaman, for instance, it’s easy to speculate that the FO may be tanking on the sly, and giving Mike its tacit approval to bottom out this season in hopes of acquiring the best possible draft pick. Or are we to believe that MD’A is acting on his own, doing what he really thinks is best to win games? Neither belief engenders much confidence in the FO.

    At this point in time, I have no idea what the Lakers mgmt.’s plans are. I hope their plans involve a new coach for next season.

  39. Warren Wee Lim March 21, 2014 at 1:29 am

    This is a very very good post. Lets talk about “certainties” and flexibilities.

    The team has “flexibility” but with that goes the uncertainties involved with it. Meaning, you can go this way or that way or go either way. One thing is clear, we’ve worked very hard for these flexibilities. To cut it short, we’ve endured this very painful season just to own these flexibilities.

    Certainty: Kobe Bryant, a Laker. No one would believe he’d sign elsewhere or such but he was, an uncertainty himself. When he signed the 2-yr $48.5M deal, he became a certainty. It was for certain that he was coming back with Achilles tendon tear. It is now a certainty that for the next 2 more seasons, he is the team’s focal point. How he plays, is another matter to discuss.

    Certainty: Phil Jackson is no longer an option. To coach or to manage the team, I’ve never liked him to be anything more than a coach anyway, and since that’s not happening, I am not excited over him taking the job from Mitch (who I believe is a great GM) …

    Certainty: A High Draft Pick. We are guaranteed to have one. Question is who and how we choose and in what number it is. It belongs to another debate.

    Certainty: Atleast $22 million in cap space. This has been booked unless some of the current Laker players get an extension between now and July 1st. Highly unlikely, the Lakers are keeping this “flexibility” until July. Or atleast that’s the plan.

    So for the 1st part, certainties involved are: Kobe Bryant, no Phil, high draft pick and 22 million cap space.

    Per contract, Mike D’Antoni, Robert Sacre and Steve Nash are Lakers. In case he chooses to stay, Nick Young is still a Laker next year. However certain at some degree, these personalities do not dictate the Lakers future. They are, however, part of it.

    Which leads me to some chicken-egg-chicken loophole of a questions: Do you pick in the draft based on your current coach, or do you pick whoever is best and decide the coach afterwards?

    In this debate, the draft pick is of higher importance because he represents the future for the Lakers, and or the potential piece to use to trade for the next guy. Importance and Urgency are both high so this is the current priority. I believe this is the very first domino in our mystery.

    Once the draft is done (its the 1st step in chronology anyway) and trades are still very much a factor, what do you plan next? Free Agency hits next, and most-likely, the team will decide the crop of free agents to make offers to based on the certainties we will have at this point which are: Kobe, Draft Pick, Cap Space.

    Kobe being in the team signifies we are not rebuilding as in we can afford to lose for 2 more seasons. We need to achieve the optimal results within the next 2 and that remains atleast one championship. However difficult the odds of that might be, we need to make moves that achieve that goal.

    At the same time, the team cannot salvage/pawn off its future for that alone. We need to effectively rebuild properly while trying to fast-track the possibility of Kobe’s last championship. All in all, its about doing this properly. Be if for Kobe, or the future.

  40. rr,

    I tend to agree, draft best available. Still not sure it is best case with MD and the potentially volatile environment. But, then again, perhaps the plan will come together.

  41. This is a really good post. I believe that we should draft the best possible player at all times, regardless of position or coach. If he turns out to be a superstar who plays the same position as a good veteran, you can always trade the older player and get something in return to fit the team’s needs. Remember Eddie Jones? Plus, superstars stay longer with a franchise than a coach, so, no point on trying to accomodate a coach’s personal preferences (unless he’s Pop or Phil).

    On the coaching front, I would say that now we might as well keep MDA until the end of the season. It improves our lottery odds and the damage has already been done. Changing coaches now wouldn’t improve our odds of resigning our front court players any more than waiting for the season to end and then getting a new coach. So, I’m guessing that the FO is waiting for the season end interview with the roster and coaching staff. I’m not saying that they’ll make a decision based on that but it may tip the scale on way or the other. If Gasol says something along the lines of “I won’t stay here if MDA is the coach” and to a lesser extent Jordan Hill (I assume Kaman is gone, regardless of the coach), Mitch and Jim will have to seriously consider the problem at hand.

    On the available coaches, the ones I really wouldn’t like seeing in LA are George Karl and Byron Scott. George Karl is terrible when it comes to in-game adjustments as well as adapting to playoff opponents. Arguably, his most successful season showed all his shortcomings as a coach, when it took him three games to matchup the best defensive guard in the game with the best player. By the time, the season was already lost.

    Regarding Byron Scott, I don’t think that being a Laker should mean anything when it comes to hiring a coach. I believe that it should be a factor when it comes to assistants but not the head coach. So, the Lakers would be better off without him, since his tendency to micromanage the game can be detrimental to the team.

    Also, regarding the Princeton offense that Dave M mentioned, I’m against it as well. While I agree the Princeton is a good system that can lead to easy baskets, it must be told that it would hardly work properly at NBA level. Defenses are faster, therefore they recover better. Player are taller and stronger, therefore creating space and finding proper passing lanes is harder. And most of all, the shot clock is only 24 seconds long. The Princeton offense works better with a 35 second shot clock since you’ll be moving the ball long enough until you find the open man. Remember that from those 24 seconds you have after you suffered a basket and there is no fast break, it will take you at least 6 seconds to initiate the offense, so there’s really no time to run all the options in the Princeton offense.

    So, we could either try and get a respected coach in the league that can lead these veterans (Kobe, Nash, Pau) to contention which means getting Lionel Hollins or someone who’s currently under contract like Thibs, Carlisle, etc., or we could go the other way: hire a younger coach like the Leprechauns did, get him proper assistants with Laker connections and long time in the league and assume that we’re transitioning from Kobe to the new rookie and this is the coach that will lead the team in the future. It won’t be hard to get one of those ;)

  42. I doubt they fire MDA in the offseason because of one reason, money, tgey dont want to pay him for sitting at home is as simple as that. If we make a good choice in the draft that should start the turnaround right away but we wont be anywhere near contention status next season. The team cant be worse than this season. What is more interesting of all the talk Jeanie has done this days is the Kobe retiring tour comments, what she basicaly said was “we are paying you the next 2 seasons and thats it” one of the reasons the Lakers extended Kobe is that he brings in more money than what he gets paid, thats a fact. If he decides to retire in 2 yearsnthe revenue of a farewell tour will be massive. I love Kobe but this era needs to be over so we can move to the next one.

  43. She (Jeanie Buss) also said she “absolutely” agreed with the decision to give star Kobe Bryant’s a two-year, $48.5 million contract this fall that keeps him as the highest paid player in the NBA.

    “I believe that Kobe will come back from this injury and he will be the Kobe that we always know he can be,” she said. “He has so many different degrees to his game. I’m confident that he will be productive in the next two seasons.”

    Productive, sure. But worth $48.5 million?

    “You can judge that years from now when you look back,” she said. “I think he will be a huge contributor to this team going forward, in terms of mentoring young players, in terms of attracting other free agents who are like minded, that want to play, that want to win, that want to be successful. He’s an asset, I don’t know how anybody can doubt that, and he did take less money than he would technically have been entitled to.”

    I’m not as confident as she says she is on any of these points. :-(

  44. This season was lost the night Kobe blew out his Achilles’ tendon last year. Howard had one foot out the door before that happened, but without Kobe the chances of Dwight sticking around decreased exponentially.

    Not having the Mamba around this year has really hurt. I just love to watch him play basketball for many reasons. Mostly, because he has helped bring championships to the only team he has played for. Kobe has had a profound effect on the league and the machinations of other teams for a long, long time. Miami’s big 3 was formed as a direct answer to the Lakers’ repeating in 2010. The league was particularly wary of the Bynum dynamic, as it looked like he was emerging as a dominant force. It looked like the Lakers would be in the hunt for the foreseeable future. Things change quickly in the NBA and those days are long gone.

    Now, the task is the front office’s to reinvent their team and bring it back into contention. Every move that they make moving forward is critical. Right now, this team needs some luck as well as a firm hand of leadership.

  45. Jeannie Buss interview: predictable yes, but solid nonetheless. She comes off intelligent enough yet passionate, friendly, and down-to-earth. She handled some fairly tough questions with grace.
    When a caller mentioned her father warmly then proceeded to bash her brother, she genuinely thanked him for the fond memory of Dr. Buss and steadfastly supported Jimmy.

    I was surprised when she asserted she ranks above Jimmy as I had assumed they were equals. That gives me a bit more confidence in the FO. She is not her father but seems very capable and competent.

    Her radio appearance unfortunately contrasts with Jim’s virtual disappearance from the public eye. In his limited interviews he sounds surprisingly dull and even slightly dim-witted. I hope I’m wrong about his level of competence.

    It’s been said but I feel it should be re-iterated: the move to obtain CP3 was viewed as brilliant at the time. The timing was regrettable and if they had it to do again they probably should had waited even just 24 hours – or 48 – before pulling the trigger on that deal, so that the groundswell of indignation from the entire league’s owners wouldn’t have had access to Stern’s ear. Had they waited a mere day or two, they would have been back to their day-to-day business and their complaints would have been sufficiently diluted; Cleveland’s owner would have stood out to be the crackpot he is, and Stern might have listened and responded politely but probably wouldn’t have vetoed the trade. So the timing of the move appeared a bit clumsy in retrospect but as Mitch said, the veto was unprecedented.

    The Dwight and Nash were viewed similarly – as brilliant- and their respective failures were again, not really the fault of the FO. Howard never really wanted to be here (even Nash said as much) and in Nash’s prior year he was still an all-star. His injuries were far worse than anyone could have predicted despite his age.

    These strong moves occurred under the current watch of Jimmy and Mitch, and Jeannie.

    Here’s hoping the Laker braintrust can make a few more deft moves this off-season and restore some hope to the Laker faithful.
    One poster above suggested we trade our pick for KLove now. That’s a decent idea. Unless we are confident he’ll come of his own accord in FA.

    Lastly: DANTONI HAS TO GO.
    I understand why he was hired. After being swept by Dallas it was tempting to think that Phil’s voice may have grown tired to the team. I also think Dr. Buss didn’t want to reward Phil for keeping Jeannie waiting 12 years for a ring as Max Kellerman asserts and to which Jeannie somewhat alluded.

    Regardless, whether it’s Hollins or Thibs (why would he leave Chicago?) or the janitor as his replacement, MDA has to be shown the door.
    This summer. Delaying his termination will effectively delay any serious return to contention.

  46. -After hearing Jeanie B, I feel worst about the front office than I did yesterday. If someone feels encouraged by her speech, please help me see the light.

    -Interesting to see Worthy & Byron Scott believe the front office has a plan, while Kobe & Magic don’t. Things that make you go hmmm.

  47. BCSid
    I get what you mean, Jeannie’s comments may have come off as slightly whitewashed or as “company line” damage control.
    But my overwhelming sense was still relief. She has enough of her father’s instincts that along w Mitch and whatever positives Jimmy brings to the table that I’m inclined to give them one more season, or at least off-season – to right the ship.
    My prior comments re an insurrection notwithstanding.

    The insurrection pertains specifically to Dantoni.

    Do you think Chris Kaman wants to take a swing at Dantoni?

    Scenes we’d like to see.

  48. Sid,

    Think about it for a second: the last thing that Jeanie could do was go on ESPNRadio and say that the team is in deep trouble, Kobe’s contract is a bad risk, and her brother is in over his head. She was basically doing what the Old Man used to do: reassure the fanbase in times of trouble, and there is nothing wrong with that. But, there is no way to know IMO what she actually thinks. She may have believed every word that she said, she may have believed none of it, or she may have believed part of it. But standard corporate damage control is part of her job–she is, basically, the President of LA Lakers, Inc.

    There were two mildly interesting takeways. One was when they asked her about whether she could be involved in FA recruitment. She said that it was not technically her job, but if “they think I can help”, she was certainly happy to meet with players the FO was interested in on an informal basis. IMO, that should be happening.

    The other was when they asked her is there is a “mechanism” that would allow her to “remove people in basketball operations.” IOW, is there a way for you to can your brother if the team is still bad in 2017? She hedged it as much as she could, but sort of said yes.

  49. IMHO, Jeannie’s comments should be viewed as a positive step forward toward reconciliation and setting the sights on the future of the org. Sure, there may be some less than genuine statements in what she said, but she made a few things clear last night: (1) she is the boss (the face of the franchise); (2) we have a plan going forward that she supports (even if less than truthful on the support part, there is a plan); (3) we, the Lakers, are the best franchise in the league and one, two or three years of struggles will not change that.

    It was also very insightful to listen to Ramona Shelbourne and Max do a post-mortem on the interview during the Max and Marcellus show. Max is very much anti-Jim and Ramona seems to be its-too-early-to-judge-Jim. While its hard to get a word in with Max on the mike, it was very interesting to hear their takes on Jeanie’s interviews. I highly recommend that you listen to it. However, be forewarned: I do not believe either argument will change any one’s minds on where they stand on their side of the issue.

  50. Big City

    Worthy and BScott are on one year deals with TW(Scott agent is a friend). Kobe a 2 year and Magic none.

    As one of the people who called in(asked about Stern-Paul and did someone call first) I agree. Her answers were scattered, evasive and sounded more like a cheerleader then a President.

    What makes us think any of these kids are capable. Any Harvard Bus Grads? No. Any with years as executives running other companies? No.

    They were born into a company. So was Paris Hilton but no one made her President of Hilton Worldwide.

    Enough of “has the instincts crap” TW deal began 3 years ago with Jerry and attorneys. All this kids have done is decrease ratings by 40%, have the worst record in Laker history and make ZERO good moves. While making a mockery of the franchise. Jeanne didn’t ‘to even know what Jim and Mitch were doing? Really? Really?

    You don’t go from running stables to running NBA teams and you don ‘to go from nightclubbing and playboy to President of a team.

    Lakers need experienced, qualified management to return to brilliance or Mark Cuban comment is correct “lakers will never be back without Dr Buss”

    I feel worse also after hearing her and she still never answered my question. Did anyone call Stern before attempting and announcing the trade to get approval? Answer is no! This is bad management and bad ownership!

    Time to face reality Laker fans. They have issues.

  51. Darius
    Every word in my post is accurate if not a bit harsh. . I feel it should be heard.

    Thank You

  52. With nearly the entire team likely being replaced next year I would have to question why wouldn’t the Lakers get personnel that would fit MDA’s system. The only question mark is do you change the coach if that play style does not suit Kobe the guy you just awarded the big contract to.

    If the Lakers were to change coaches I would recommend George Karl. As the opposite of MDA you can hand him any roster and he will figure out a scheme that fits the roster he has been given.

  53. darius: the part that Jeanie buss left out was, if phil would have married me; he would be in charge of basketball operations for the los angeles lakers, not the knicks of new York.

    after all, she says, the buck stops with her. didn’t she??

    anyways, we got another game tonite, who is it now?? Washington.

    Go lakers

  54. Proof is in the pudding. Pr move, Jeannie has no say whatsoever. Otherwise Lakers wouldn’t have passed on Phil TWICE. Even Kobe was dumbfounded. She is clearly not the boss.

  55. I love the George Karl idea because you get to keep the up-tempo style but pick up much more respectability. At least Karl knows how to spell defense.

  56. Ko,
    Much like Wooden said that we should not mistake activity for achievement, I believe we should not distort opinion with fact nor offer context-less critiques and act as if those should carry weight.

    Also, I don’t moderate comments based off whether I like what’s said or not. If that were the case, there’d be fewer comments on this board and some people would not be commenting at all. Read the commenting guidelines and get a sense of what would inspire me to moderate or delete a comment. Those are the only things that influence me.

  57. Duke lost to Mercer in the NCAA today–will be interested to see how or if that affects Jabari Parker.

  58. Of course, the Jeanie Buss interview was PR. Whether what she said was true or not, that’s the only reason ownership speaks to fans. That’s what the “P” stands for. Laker ownership wants you to feel good about the product they sell. What else would be the point? Buy it. Don’t buy it. And by that I mean, with your time and your wallet. Nobody cares, otherwise.

    Seems many fans find it difficult to understand what the Laker FO does, rather than letting the actions speak for themselves. I think there’s probably some disconnect between what Laker ownership values, and what many of the more vocal Laker fans value. Obviously, pro sports ownerships sell hope — a competitive team with a chance at the big prize that ulitmately satisfies fans, creates more fans and more hope for the next championship. Hope is the primary commodity that gets fans to devote their time and part with their money, and the Laker franchise has built a legacy and fan base that has and will continue to allow them to float through down years without too bad a hit on the bottom line. Their goal is championships, however, beyond that, the ownership, especially a family-owned business, also has an emotional investment that values “family”. They have values as people that they want reflected in their business. That’s certainly one reason why Kobe is getting paid so well. Kobe retiring a Laker is valued highly, and if he can help lead the team to another championship, that’s even better. Nash is given every chance to succeed, despite the mountain he must climb, because they respect the fact that a basketball great signed to join their team, and they value him as a person. They let the winniest coach in history go because he’s a different voice who is not at the top of the family chain. They don’t “tank” the season for a variety of reasons, but one is surely that they have a sense of pride in what they stand for, and for the identity, they own — THE LAKERS. They want the fan to feel like the team belongs to the fan, but an emotional investment is not actual ownership. They do what they want, and I can imagine they may even get annoyed at the fan who feels too entitled. They must get some satisfaction out of saying, no, we own this team, and this is the way it’s going to be.

    As long as they win enough to sell hope, it’s a successful business, but failure, even for a short time, is costly these days. There are so many things competing for our attention. Once the hope starts to fade, many old fans drift off to other interests, and fewer young people become Lakers fans, probably to grow up Clippers fans. So if Laker management makes any decision that favors short-term over long, that could be part of the equation.

  59. @rr

    There’s a reason Coach K kept taking him out on defensive possessions at the end…his D is atrocious. I always believed that would hurt his stock, even though he’s still top 5. He should join US and make MDA proud!

  60. rr
    Parker had a terrible game too…I think it has to have some effect. His game reminds me of Carmelo Anthony’s. The most NBA ready out of any of the top 4, but I’d rather have Wiggins or Exum. Embiid’s back situation scares me. Going through another Bynum like injury process doesn’t appeal to me at all.

  61. why does everyone keep repeating that Kobe has “bashed” the FO or expressed no confidence? this is clearly a case of the writers and fanbase projecting their own angst. Kobe said that it’s the FO’s duty to right the ship. he said that they have the same responsibility to feild a competitive team as he has to get himself ready and to play as hard as humanly possible. this is the truth of the matter, even if the politics are “incorrect”, there’s nothing incorrect about the substance. i’m glad the star player who gets paid a fortune cares.

    i do think D’Antoni is a good coach. i also don’t like his brand of basketball and am ready for him to go. it’s not because he “sucks” or he can’t motivate his players. clearly, he CAN motivate the players. when the Lakers had the majority of the squad intact, they were not a bad team, they were a team with limited talent. once key players went down it was over, but until then, the team looked organized and played hard. that’s a good coach. i don’t want to see a strictly small ball team, though. i’d rather see a bigger team with more half court action. i think that it’s necessary for long term defensive stability. small ball is great when used at the right time and place, however, especially if the team is full of great shooters. i’m ready for a coach that prefers a bit more offensive/defensive balance. i’d like to see a few players in position to rebound for a change.

    now Jeanie’s full of poo? ok, she probably is, but right as everyone is calling for a united front from the FO, she delivers this. isn’t it great? everyone always wants to act like they have a crystal ball and know the future. i don’t think that even those that were correct about the results of this season had even the slightest inkling that the exact scenario that played out was the only possibility. it must be really boring to have all the answers so far ahead of time. why watch the team at all? find a more rewarding hobby. actually, i think most of those who spend a lot of time over the team on the internet are more concerned with demonstrating their own awesomeness than they are rooting for a basketball team. why don’t these people have a job in the industry?

    when the team loses, it really stinks. i hate having to eat crow for fans of other rotten teams that have something working for a few seasons, but that’s just how it is. be glad you don’t root for the Cubs or Sacremento or even Charlotte. look at perennial bad teams and their fans and realize that the fun is in the support of the team. i think that it’s great to complain and decry the current state of the Lakers right now, write to the Lakers office instead of just trying to make other fans misreable…

    these are just random opinions…

  62. Thanks Darius.

  63. Darius: Its pointless to argue with people who have their mind made up. Nothing that is said by Phil Jackson, Jeanie Buss or even the resurrected ghost of Dr Buss will change the way Ko, Gene and others feel about Jim, Mitch, MDA, Kobe, etc. Its pointless to argue. I just ignore now.

  64. Comment Moderation: To back up Darius’ statement above, there are other boards where comments are moderated in a very opinionated fashion. Also on other boards, mods can join the arguments in a very bullying type of way (if you don’t agree with me I will take my blog and go home). Darius does not do that and this board is very fair about moderation. I would like to see all of us posters not comment as much about other fans and posters and stick to content and the Lakers. I could care less what you all think about each other – I want to hear what you have to say about the Lakers. So for example you could be like me and say “Kobe Rules” ! Or you could not like Kobe and say “Kobe must go”. No need to put prefaces and suffixes on these statements like “only ignorant fans would disagree”. I used Kobe as a less controversial example – other names could have been filled in there : ) There are “masses”, “ignorance” (these words are also somewhat “baiting” which is against our rules), and “irrationality” on both sides of every issue we discuss here . I can draw that conclusion for myself and don’t need to be told what one poster thinks of another : )

  65. Manny

    If you feel they are qualified as opposed to entitled then that is fine. As a business owner I know how long it took me to do things right and the mistakes over the years.

    It is possible that some have more information and or contacts that offer insights that may have value.

    I respect all on this sight as long as they are respectfully. Funny thing about blogs is you never fully know who is blogging. Heck you could be Jim Buss and I could be Magic Johnson for all anyone knows.

    Thanks

  66. “Heck you could be Jim Buss and I could be Magic Johnson for all anyone knows.”

    Funny you mention that. For the past year, my theory has been that either Craig or Manny is really Chaz.

  67. Parrothead Phil March 21, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    @mud In addition to being a Laker fan, I am also a Cubs fan. I know the joy and the pain. Haha

    (PS Raider fan too- that alone has brought both joy and pain)

  68. likewise mannyp. it gets old to see people get trashed as “haters” because they have substantive, reasoned, factual issues with the current state of the team. Those “haters” often don’t bash those who support the FO – even though quite a few deserve it. It’s not really a two way street around here.

  69. Parrothead Phil March 21, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    The reason we keep reading the same arguments regaridng the FO and the Laker future is because there really is nothing to discuss regaridng the product on the floor. I always enjoy reading this site even when the comments become repetitive (there’s not much new to discuss).

    In re: news- The Lakers announced that Nash and Young will return the lineup tonight. I know many on this site disagree, but after watching the Grantland videos of Nash, I find myself rooting for him to be able to play at a decent level. Swaggy P is always fun to watch.

  70. Jeanie’s Interview: It did not really make sense to me and Ramona was throwing underhand lobs. If Robert was interviewing:
    1) Do you want your brother to be co-GM with Mitch? You say you have confidence, but why do you need two GM’s? Who does Mitch report to? Does he answer to you (The Boss) or to your brother? Are they co-GMs or is Jim the GM and Mitch the Assistant GM? If you are the Boss – then exactly what is Jim?
    2) Can you fire your brothers if you wanted to Jeanie? Yes or No?
    3) Who does Mike D’Antoni report to? Mitch? Jim? Or you (The Boss)?
    4) Can you over-rule decisions made by the GM tandem? Certainly Jerry could in his day. Are you a Boss like Jerry or different type of Boss?
    5) Did you decide not to go into the DH meeting last year? Did you also decide that a coaching change was not needed?
    6) Who is going to decide the coaching situation this summer? Mitch? Jim? you Jeanie? Or perhaps a Buss Family meeting as you stated there needs to be a family consensus (what does that mean?). Does every sibling get a vote? Is it majority rules or do some votes count more than others?
    7) Who fired the scouts Jeanie? Who fired Ron Lester? Did you do that or did you empower someone else to do it? Did you agree with it?
    8) If Kobe was given his extension largely due to business reasons, does that mean you crafted that? Did the “basketball” guys try to offer him less for cap reasons?
    9) Are you going to beat the Knicks on 12-25-2014?
    Jeanie response: Next year’s schedule is not out yet.
    Well – part of it is.

  71. Parrothead Phil March 21, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    On a side note, I watched some of the NCAA games last night. It was nice to hear Spiro calling the games. Too bad that Laker management decided to let him go because he wanted to be able to call NCAA and NFL games too. I really wanted him to be promoted to the TV broadcast.

    Sorry for the multiple successive posts. I’m taking advantage of my luch break to actually post instead of just reading.

  72. @Parrothead Phil

    I miss Spiro’s voice and cache, but I’m definitely more concerned with who controls the play action rather than who calls it. I like George Carl and a few of the other names that have been floated, but I reiterate my sentiment from the Jim Buss thread a few days ago…who would want to step into this chaos/uncertainty (unless it’s secretly being placed into order by a variety of moves we are not privy to in Georgia Frontiere middle of the night-type fashion)?

  73. Robert when I called in to speak to Miss Buss I told screener I was going to asks count question. They said pass. I changed it to Stern/Buss question.

  74. Parrothead Phil March 21, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    @Jane
    The Laker FO has traditionally not openly talked about the moves they are making. I am not saying that we should simply have faith that the FO will make the correct moves. Part of the fun of being a fan and this blog is discussing what moves we believe the Lakers should make and the impact of the moves they have or have not made.

  75. Are Buss interviews like a congressional hearing? Are they on trial? They don’t need to tell everyone everything about their internal organization. What do fans need with that information? Except for the few who run the Lakers in their heads… and ownership really has no reason to cater to that. I’m not sure I even heard the whole interview, but wasn’t the gist of what Jeanie Buss said is that she’s the kind of director who wants to get everyone working together on the same page? She’s not the dictator type. The Lakers are her “life” and priority, but she trusts Jim and Mitch and everyone else to do what they do, and she doesn’t interfere unless they want her opinion? What more does she need to say, and does she need to hold your hand while she says it? :)