Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Bucks

Darius Soriano —  March 27, 2014

Maybe I should just cut and paste my preview from this past Sunday’s game against the Magic game here, huh?

After all, the Lakers head into Milwaukee to face the team with the worst record in the Eastern Conference. Considering the 76ers have lost 25 games in a row, the fact that the Bucks are still below them in the standings is quite the accomplishment. But there the Bucks are, the winners of 13 games this year (woof) and playing on the heels of the announcement that Ersan Ilyasova will miss the remainder of the season. The poor get poorer, it seems.

Don’t look for the Lakers to throw a pity party for the Bucks, however. They have too many of their own injury issues to deal with for any such sympathy. Even though Steve Nash traveled with the team, he has ruled himself out for this game and the next one, looking instead to next week for a possible return. That mirrors Pau’s timeline for a possible return with the big Spaniard still dealing with symptoms of vertigo. And then, of course, there’s this news:

The hope is that Kaman arrives in Milwaukee in time for the game, but as Dave McMenamin noted, odds are that Hill starts in Kaman’s spot — a development that intrigues me.

I am quite interested in seeing how Hill can play in what is essentially a small-ball lineup where he operates as the lone big man. I have long said that for D’Antoni’s purposes, Hill is essentially a Center and now he gets to play in that exact role. Do not be surprised to see Hill get plenty of chances at the front of the rim as a roll man in the P&R and for him to benefit from the extra spacing he’s bound to have playing with the starting group without Pau or Kaman flanking him up front.

Beyond Hill’s freedom (and likely minutes boost), though, there is little for me to be genuinely excited about when it comes to this game. While the Bucks being bad is part of it, the fact is there really isn’t much to learn about the Lakers at this point in the season either. If I were making a list, the things that truly deserve an extended look are whether Bazemore can continue to flash some playmaking skills as a ball handling wing and…actually that’s about it. As much as the other young players deserve a look from a keen scouting eye, the real question about most of them is what they do in the off-season to develop further, not what they do on the floor over these last 10+ games. For most of these guys we understand their strengths and weaknesses; we understand what holes exist in their games and what they can do to try and close them up. The question is whether they go about doing those things.

Those answers will come over a long summer and into next season, not in the next month. That takes an edge off these games that, at least for me, was present just a month ago. But in learning more about these guys — especially since they have actually had an opportunity to play — the urgency to see more isn’t there anymore. That doesn’t make these games meaningless (the lottery still matters, right?), but from an evaluation standpoint there isn’t too much more to learn.

With that being the case, my advice is to simply enjoy what is left of this season the best you know how (whether that’s rooting for wins or losses). Because very soon, there will not be any Lakers’ basketball to watch.

Where you can watch: 5pm start time on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM.

Darius Soriano

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44 responses to Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Bucks

  1. If they win this game they’re looking at the 7/8th pick and little hope at 1 – 3.

  2. Did you all see this video and article? It is about backlash against Kobe because he did not support the Miami Heat’s solidarity with Trayvon Martin. This is coming out now because of an upcoming New Yorker profile on Kobe.

    http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-Sports/2014/03/27/Kobe-Bryant-Trayvon-Martin

    Makes me love Kobe even more !!!!

    GOOOOoooOOOOOOO LAKERS !!!!!

  3. I wonder if Kaman just can’t get a break or whether he is throwing away his own breaks.

    Nice comment about Bazemore being the only player we have to continue to look at to evaluate. I do think Hill is another player that needs minutes to develop an on-going rhythm to his game. He needs this to show his growth over last year. So far his minutes have been so variable that, whether you love him or hate him, you really have a hard time pinning down what he has improved on.

    What I will also be looking at is how the team plays together, win or lose. While we may be sure of talent, we need to see if a consistency develops game-to-game to determine how combinations work this year. Why this is important is that we may want to try to sign combinations of players, rather than just to pick out individuals. Stats tell us something about individuals, but we must see the games to determine how the puzzle fits. The injuries and the new bodies have made looking at continuity a lost art for this team.

  4. Two best Laker players.

    Hill-Kamen

    You know MD DNP guys.

  5. Craig, Hill has his shots, when he got hot in November and was in the starting lineup he dissapeared after a couple of games when rival teams wise up to him, thats the difference between a starter and a role player coming of the bench, he us a good 7 or 8 energy guy coming of the bench with the 2nd unit. He has proven he is not a starter. Considering his game against Orl one of the absolute worst teams in the league some kind of “breakout” game is ridiculous. His effort against the Knicks is more of what we can expect from him most nights with the ocassional overachieving game. If he sustained that stellar play in November he would had kept the starting job even with MDA.

  6. I’m not bashing Bazemore, but is he a player that requires a coach and system that allows the player to shoot whenever he likes, or is Kent a player that will continue to develop in a structured offense?  

  7. Have I mentioned that Marshall is not very good?

  8. Jordan Hill has a double-double @ the half (14 points & 10 rebounds).

  9. Hill is having a great game, against the Bucks…

  10. Who lied and said Bucks were worst team in NBA?

  11. Not going to win much when your starting PG has more TO then points for the 12 time this year.

    Also you starting forward again has 2 points.

    Enjoy Europe.

  12. Ok we ended that damned 2 game win skid, back to our regular programing.

  13. Lakers get the upset! #tank

  14. After the game, when D’Antoni was asked what he thought of Jordan Hill’s game (28 points, 16 rebounds, 9 offensive boards, 1 steal), he replied: “He was part of the unit that didn’t defend very well.”

    My goodness. Why is D’Antoni so begrudging of praise for Jordan Hill? Regardless of the competition, he should give the guy some credit. To go 28 and 16 in any NBA game has got to be acknowledged. To do otherwise, is really mean-spirited.

    It almost makes you think that there is something personal between Hill and D’Antoni. D’Antoni’s reaction is simply wrong. It’s poor management. It’s poor psychology. And it’s unfair.

    Question: Would Lionel Hollins have praised him? Or Byron Scott? Or Michael Cooper? I think so.

    D’Antoni has by now completely worn out his welcome. And Jordan Hill — in my book — is a keeper. I really hope that the Lakers bring him back.

  15. Marshall has reached out to Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni to gauge his interest in coaching his alma mater, according to sources close to the process.

    Sources told ESPN.com that the Thundering Herd have pursued D’Antoni before and made this latest inquiry — which coincides with his uncertain future in Los Angeles — because they “always sound him out” any time Marshall has an opening in a bow to D’Antoni’s stature in school history.
    ===
    http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/story/_/id/10685216/marshall-thundering-herd-reach-los-angeles-lakers-mike-dantoni

    ==

    But sources stressed D’Antoni is highly unlikely to make such a switch even if the Lakers opt for a coaching change at season’s end.

  16. Mid-Wilshire,

    While I think your observation about MDA being begrudging is true and important, the comment more caught my attention because it confirmed that MDA knows the words “defend” and “unit.” Who knew?

    GOOOOoooOOOOOO LAKERS!!!!!

  17. good thing we lose. :(
    on another note-
    http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/story/_/id/10685216/marshall-thundering-herd-reach-los-angeles-lakers-mike-dantoni

    hope they’ll take him, so we can start with our needed changes. i personally think it needs to start with changing our coach, whether now or at the end of this season…

  18. This helps make up for the win over the Knicks. Xavier needs to shut it down and not risk making his torn tendon worse. Nine offensive boards for Hill and there are still issues finding time to play him? Incredible.

  19. Hill….a plus 4 for the game(best on the team) and coach was negative about him today…smh.

  20. Jordan Hill much like Chris Kaman have been screwed by D’antoni all year! I’m tired of seeing them play, have big games like Hill had tonight, and then magically disappear from the rotation. I’m hoping D’antoni takes the Marshall job because we need a coach in place before the draft.

  21. With D’Antoni it’s always the players’ fault when the defense stinks. Of course, it stinks almost all of the time. Any team can play some defense in spurts, when their energy is super high, and/or when the other team is cold or flat. The mark of a good team is one where their defensive principles facilitate consistency. When the team can never find consistency, look to the coach as the problem. It takes a tremendous individual and team effort to compensate for bad match ups, poor floor balance, and lack of discipline in the entire approach on both ends. That’s on the coach.

  22. No Kaman no win..

  23. Yep, Hill sucks. How dare he not execute the amazing defensive schemes we have? It’s totally on the player. He should take a look at Kendall Marshall who gets playing time due to his defensive ability and high IQ on defense. It doesn’t matter if you have more TO’s than points or every opposing guard gives you the Rondo treatment, as long as you’re good on defense you’re starting and getting minutes. Our coach is really a keeper…

    *sarcasm*

  24. “MILWAUKEE — Struggling through one of the worst seasons in franchise history, Brandon Knight and the Milwaukee Bucks wish they could play the Los Angeles Lakers every night.

    Knight scored 30 points and Ramon Sessions added 22 to lead the Bucks to a 108-105 victory over the Lakers on Thursday to break an eight-game losing streak.

    The Bucks swept the season series for the first time since 2006-07, as Milwaukee beat Los Angeles 94-79 on Dec. 31. Knight scored a career-high 37 points in the first meeting.

    “I’m not sure what it was, but I was able to have two good games against them,” Knight said. “Some teams you just match up well against and we did this year against the Lakers.”

    AP

  25. I’ve been in “radio silence” for awhile because there hasn’t been much I’ve been thinking that hasn’t either been said better than I would say it, or beaten to death to the point that the horse is not only expired, but is hanging on the wall of a five year old kid’s dad’s office, holding a collage together. However, as someone who has tried to give Captain Pringles the benefit of the doubt this year, and still firmly believes he’s been dealt a pretty grim hand, his misuse of Caveman (who was inexplicably nailed to the pine in favor of Sacre late) throughout the season and his comments about Hill are pretty close to bringing me to “ok, that’s probably about it.” Which unit played good defense last night, Mike? The worst team in the NBA, (who also happens to be one of the worst offensive teams in the league, and who still leads Philadelphia by a full game in the tankathon standings depsite the Sixers being in the midst of a historically bad run of basketball) shot almost 60% for the game. How about the guys who were guarding Knight, as he was taking open jumper after open jumper, and Sessions, who had his own personal free-throw parade? Clueless.

  26. Warren Wee Lim March 28, 2014 at 5:37 am

    Jordan Hill has really played alot of really good games lately. Unsurprising that these games are without Pau. 26/36 from the field, total of 34 rebs, and his 65pts. I hope we keep him and let Pau go. Alot of teams would just kill to have a guy like him right now, to spot start, to backup both positions, etc. A 4-yr deal worth 24 million should prove to be fair at this point. He would eat up our cap space next season and in 2015 yes, but he’s someone I would like to build upon. I mean he’s 26 and has foreseeable growth in his game.

  27. MDA is so far off on Jordan Hill it’s not even funny anymore. Maybe he’s made a Phil-like decision in analyzing his players, and he feels like needling Hill in the media is the best way to get the most out of him. Who knows what’s going through MDA’s head? But if he really believes what he says, he’s sick. Hill is a good bench rotation player on an elite team.

  28. Players need to be held accountable too on D, as much as this coach is clueless on defense, c’mon this players are tought the basic tenets of defense since their childhood, box out, stay in front of your man, challenge a shot by raising your @&$@@&@&&@@ hand. I seen numerous good defensive players and teams despite a bad defensive coach. Its on the players as much as the coach and PJ himself wasnt a good defensive coach he was a motivator but as Kobe mentioned before they ran probably 1 or 2 defensive sets.. About MDAs Alma Matter reaching out to him, repeat with ne ” graceful exit strategy for everyone” lol

  29. Warren Wee Lim March 28, 2014 at 8:01 am

    JORDAN HILL – Key to the Lakers Cap Space

    Contrary to what you might think, its not Pau Gasol that holds the key to the Lakers cap space.
    Instead, its Jordan Hill.

    Lets get things straight, there’s what you call the cap hold.
    The Cap Hold is a value assigned to a player whose rights belong to the previous team he plays for.
    In this case, everyone who finishes the season with the Lakers, who does not have a contract for 2014-15, has a cap hold.
    For every player under 12, the team is also assigned a ghost cap hold of the minimum salary worth +/- $507,336.00
    Cap holds can be released when you renounce the player’s rights.
    The Cap hold for an empty roster slot below 12 however cannot be done away with.

    In a world where the Lakers seek to make use of cap space, Pau Gasol’s fate would have to be decided.
    Since he is no longer worth 19 million per season, retaining his bird rights is no longer necessary.
    Moreso because we are not about to max him out, nor is he worth close to what he is earning this year.

    With Gasol’s cap hold out of the picture, what remains in between the Lakers cap space plan is Jordan Hill’s cap hold worth $6,650,000.00

    Currently the Lakers are primed to pick 6th but the possibility of winning the lotto is well within reach.
    For the 6th overall pick, the amount is $2,736,100.
    Conservatism dictates we need to assume the team wins the #1 overall pick and thus incur maximum salary cap hit due to his pending salary.
    Such amount is $4,592,200 for the 1st overall pick.

    At this point the Lakers have 5 players under contract: Nash, Bryant, Sacre, Marshall and the 1st overall pick.
    The total payroll at this point is 39.6M but the Laker cap holds of current players amount to 13.5M.
    If the Cap Space projections of cappologists Larry Coon and Eric Pincus hold true, 62.1M is the number to be.
    Add 39.6M and 13.5M it gives you 53.1M leaving barely 9M of cap.
    Remove Jordan Hill’s cap hold by renouncing him brings the number to 15.6M.

    But the thing is, are we really trying to get rid of Jordan Hill? Lets examine.

    If we are set to lose Gasol to another team’s mid-level exception or cap space, does it not make sense to retain your only remaining big man not named Robert Sacre?
    Before you utter the words Chris Kaman, he’s long gone to his cave.
    So unless we plan to start Robert Sacre, Jordan Hill is a must-keep.
    Aside from the fact that he rebounds like a madman, he has developed his knack for scoring.
    His percentages are lowered with midrange jumpers but increase heavily on offensive rebounds and close-to-basket attempts.
    His defense is not all that impressive but he is passable.
    Best of all he’s 26. Gasol will be 34. Defense will be a matter of capability and not skill.

    If the Lakers want to compete soon enough, we need players and not just possibilities.
    Even with Embiid as possibility of the 1st overall pick, the Lakers need someone to start at PF or C.
    Jordan Hill is the perfect situation, the Lakers wished they had made the contract longer last time.

    However, all this is not possible if MDA is at the helm.
    Even for a positive supporter like me on the benefits he brings to the team, his dislike for Jordan Hill is just maddening.
    I have always given Mike his fair shake on things, I still like him, but only if he chooses to see the benefit Jordan Hill is bringing to the team.
    If he can’t accept that, then it is time for him to move on to other things.

  30. I agree to some extent on Hill with Darius, in that I think, as I have said, that D’Antoni sees Hill as a small-ball back-up 5. Period. And, while this is spec, some of MDA’s comments certainly do indicate that there is a personal element involved.

    As to Hill the player, I think some of the metrics overrate him a bit, since those tend to weigh efficiency and rebounding very heavily and miss certain elements of team defense. BUT…Hill is a pretty good player, even with his faults, and pretty good players are needed around here right now.

  31. D’Antoni’s player management skills, particularly during bad times, are really worrisome. If he is the coach next year, how will this play out with a first round pick, Kobe, and another losing record? Is this the environment the FO wants to foster? What if MD sours on the pick — can we expect him to treat the kid the way he has treated Hill, Kaman, and Gasol? Particularly if the pick is a 19 year old with almost no college experience?

  32. Warren Wee Lim March 28, 2014 at 9:47 am

    rr, my thoughts on Hill gravitate around the positive things he brings for ANY ballclub like hustle and rebounding (particularly offensive). That is not to say that he’s faultless. He slacks on D, he’s limited offensively, he lacks basketball instinct overall. But the positives outweigh the negatives at this point. He has 26yo going for him.

  33. With or without Hill or Kamen this is still a bad team, questionable coach and am array of mediocre players brought in by Jimmy.

    Maybe they win 4 more games. Whoop de do so they end up 2 nod worst in West. We are splitting nails here. Need to start from scratch.

  34. Ko,

    Yes and no. The thing is…Kobe’s deal means that, nominally at least, that the Lakers are not really starting from scratch. I think the FO’s plan is to try to compete next year, to try to be Dallas, and then to go after Love. I am not saying that I necessarily think it will work, but that I think that is what they want to do.

    So, as I said when KB signed the deal, to me the guys that you try to keep with him from the team now are:

    Hill
    Farmar
    Johnson
    Henry

    Hill and Johnson are relatively low-usage dirty-work guys; Farmar is certainly not a great defender by any stretch but he is the most mobile 1 on the roster and Kobe played with him in the glory days; (his leg problems concern me) and Henry is a guy whom you can use to fill in at three positions–the ones Kobe plays. I expect that the Lakers may try the Duncan/Garnett thing of resting KB in some back-to-backs, and even if he mostly stays on the floor, KB is likely to miss some time. The 82-game Iron Man stuff is is almost certainly over. Henry will be a guy you can run out there for some scoring on nights Kobe is not able to go.

  35. rr,

    Wouldn’t you want Pau? At 8-10M I still think he’s the best option available, since I don’t think Monroe will go for less than 12M…

  36. Pau Gasol has our offer (if we even have one) or the mid-level. He would have to hate us so much to take MLE over our offer, if we even have one. So there it is about Pau.

    For me, its about moving onto life without him, shifts the attention elsewhere. Its time to move on. We missed getting value for him, lets not make a mistake thinking he’s worth 8-10M still.

  37. I think he’s still worth that money. He’s simply that good on the offensive side. But we’ll find out soon enough when offers are made. If he stays for an MLE-level contract, better. But I think that if we lowball him he’ll sign elsewhere.

    And yes, to me Pau is still worth more than Jordan Hill, as his skillset is harder to replicate than Hill’s.

  38. I think Pau is a keeper. My base line list is as follows (players we should absolutely try to keep):

    Kobe
    Pau
    Hill
    Farmar
    Henry
    Young
    1st Round Draft Pick

    On the bubble:

    Bazemore
    Johnson

    Everyone else is scrap metal.

  39. Pau is a different animal than the other guys. Even if MDA gets fired, Pau may want to leave to:

    a) Play with his brother
    and/or
    b) Play for a contender (Pau may see Memphis as a contender)

    Pau has two rings, two silver medals, is a national hero in Spain, has made a lot of money already, and will be 34 years old this summer. He is probably not a guy like Johnson or Hill whose decision will likely be based almost 100% simply on playing time and money. Pau’s decision process will, I suspect, be more complex. Also, while Pau is still a good offensive player, I think the Lakers should try to get as young as possible and as good on defense as possible, around Kobe. So while I still love Pau, it’s complicated. Pau also would not really work with Kevin Love that well.

    Finally, while this is in the dead horse category, I am still going to point out that the fact that people are talking about keeping Pau shows yet again (as does all the Love and Embiid talk) just how much the Lakers needed to keep Dwight Howard.

  40. rr- Excellent points.

  41. If the Lakers really want to keep Gasol, they need to double their billboard budget this summer. That should do the trick.

  42. I don’t see the Lakers starting from scratch. They have Kobe, a product to sell, and some common sense. Much of the talent they have right now is viable, though not in a starring role. It depends on where players want to play and their cost. Unnamed players available in the imagination are always better than the reality of what you have. The Lakers have some pieces; they must incorporate the right ones as part of a solution to the puzzle.

  43. For all his deficiencies, I think Pau would be very difficult to replace. Also, bear in mind the he and Kobe work well together. So the whole is bigger than the sum of the individual parts.

    But there is a larger issue to consider here. And that issue is — what to do with our front line in the coming year(s).

    If D’Antoni stays (which I do not believe will happen), then we will lose Pau, Jordan Hill, and Chris Kaman. If we toss in the exit of Dwight Howard from last season, that would mean the departure of 4 strong, capable, complementary, skilled big men without anything to show for it. The net result would be a devasating loss to the franchise that would set the team’s turnaround back another 2-3 years (in addition to the 3 years we’re already facing).

    Therefore, D’Antoni must go. It’s really quite logical.

    If D’Antoni is released, then the recruiting of Pau and Hill can start in earnest. (The Lakers, BTW, have Pau’s Bird Rights.) And the Lakers will also have a high draft pick. And they’ll be able to make a play for a Free Agent or 2. With that in mind, the makings of a “Plan,” very possibly, could start to unfold.

    The sequence of events could be something like this:

    April — Lakers fire D’Antoni;
    April / May — Lakers hire a new coach;
    June — NBA Draft;
    July / August –Lakers bid on Hill and Gasol;
    July / August — Lakers bid on other FAs.

    At least, that’s the way I see it.

  44. hey darius: just 11 more games before we can officially turn our attention elsewhere. in the meantime, here’s my copy and paste from laker nation news:

    On the second night of a back-to-back, the Lakers take on Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves, after a tough loss in Milwaukee against the Bucks last night. Both of these teams are out of the playoff race at this point but there is still a lot to play for. The Lakers, as Jordan Hill pointed out, continue to play for pride, while the Timberwolves are tying to finish above .500 for the first time since 2005. There is sure to be talk about T-Wolves star Kevin Love and his future in Minnesota as he has been linked to the Lakers in a number of reports. The T-Wolves come in with a 35-35 record, but have lost three of their last four games. The Lakers come in with a 24-47 record, and have won two of their last three.

    there’s more, but what’s the point. eleven more games before the real games get interesting.

    Go lakers