Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Suns

Darius Soriano —  March 30, 2014

The Lakers are back from their two game mini road trip with two losses in hand, each game building on the frustration felt all season. It’s like losing to the lowly Bucks wasn’t enough so the team went into Minnesota the next night and lost by 36, giving up 143 points (in regulation!) in the process. I’d say this little stretch would be considered rock bottom, but who am I kidding the Lakers have had too many moments that qualify for any single one to stand out.

There are only 10 games left in the season, however, so the suffering is almost over. Soon there won’t  be any more bad losses to stew over (or, if you’re that guy, to root for). And while I fully anticipate there being a few more good moments to cheer for over the this final 20 days of the campaign, I must admit I am relishing this year coming to a close like no other I can really remember. As a Lakers’ fan, normally the end of the year is either an extreme celebration or major disappointment. The stakes the team typically plays at demands the emotional investment that creates this environment. This season, however, there is none of that.

I suppose it will all be over soon enough.

Tonight, though, the team is back in LA and facing off against a team who still does have something to play for. The Suns are in a battle for their playoff lives, fighting for that one of those final slots in the second season with the Mavs and the Grizzlies. They currently sit as the 7th seed, but are only a half game up from dropping to 9th in the conference. For them, then, this game against the Lakers is a must win and they will come into Staples looking to get one step closer to making the playoffs (and obliterating their preseason expectations in the process). This is what they have to play for.

The Lakers? They want to play spoiler to teams just like the Suns. As Nick Young said earlier this week, if all they have left to play for is ruining other team’s hopes, they’ll take it.

That will be extra difficult tonight, though, now that Eric Bledsoe is back in the lineup for Phoenix. The dynamic combo guard has returned from his torn meniscus and picked up right where he left off, stuffing the stat-sheet and giving the Suns that second perimeter threat to play next to and off of Goran Dragic. With Bledsoe back in the fold, the Suns are more dynamic on both sides of the ball and are even more of a nightmare in transition.

If you’re looking for strategy, it’s that last point that should worry the Lakers most. Phoenix is one of the best fast breaking teams in the league, able to put up points in bunches with Dragic and Bledsoe able to get all the way to the rim once they get a head of steam and multiple other finishers flanking them who are equally comfortable scoring in the paint or running to the three point line to take advantage of a sagging defense. Considering the Lakers are one of the worst transition teams in the league, if they hope to even keep this game close their play in this specific area will need to be at its best.

The other way to keep the game close is to hope the three ball is falling for them in bunches. If there is one place the Lakers can theoretically match the Suns it is in the area of outside shooting with several wing players able to match or outdo their Phoenix counterpart. Jodie Meeks and Nick Young are especially important in this area, but so are Kent Bazemore and Xavier Henry (should he suit up). If Steve Nash is also able to go, he too can generate a boost as a shooter and a playmaker who occupies defenders and gets teammates open looks.

This is the ideal scenario, however, and as we are well aware the Lakers have rarely dealt in the ideal this season. As mentioned, the Suns have something tangible to play for while the Lakers are at the point where they need to invent motivation. In a contest of equal talent, I will always take the former over the latter. In a game where the talent is already tilted, it becomes an even more lopsided equation. That doesn’t mean the Lakers don’t have a chance — this team has beaten some of the top teams in the league this year by sticking to their game plan and getting hot from distance. But as the year has shown, that style mixed with this talent base isn’t nearly consistent enough to be reliable.

In that way, I expect the Lakers to go down tonight, even if they are able to stick close and surprise. Only 10 games left, folks.

Where you can watch: 6:00pm start time on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM.

Darius Soriano

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85 responses to Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Suns

  1. Marshall against these guards will be very humorous. Coming off another zero point game he might get out scored by 30 tonight.

    Number one priority next year is to find guards that belong in the NBA and actually stay in front of someone. Bad defense starts with penetration and that was Lakers biggest problem.

  2. Ko,
    I’ve noticed your ‘admiration’ for Marshall and it’s definitely inspiring.
    Your opinions (like mine!) are generally spot-on and obviously based on years of hoops appreciation, play, etc.
    However, as a fellow purist I must say I differ slightly in this case.
    Granted, KM’s footspeed isn’t even close to the level we need and which is common nowadays in NBA PGs. So his D suffers.
    But IMO his court vision is exceptional, in some instances extraordinary. His ability to deliver the ball in traffic or on the break and arrive ‘on time, on target’ is fun to see and for me, he’s entertaining and dare I say has been a rare bright spot this year.
    I could be mistaken but doesn’t he hold the career assist record at NC state?
    His shooting form is flawed and overall I’d say he’s a quirky player, but I’d say he belongs in the association as a backup PG.
    I assume he’s popular among his teammates since he clearly prefers to set others up to score before himself.
    On that note, I’d also merely comment that he shoots fairly rarely and doesn’t seem concerned about his scoring average at all, so his scoring numbers do look poor, but in his case it almost seems like a positive – unselfishness is a commodity and a talent as well – and one we don’t see often enough at any level.
    Personally I’m more of a gunner myself.
    I’ve always just admired those guys who can thread the needle and seem happy when others benefit.
    Just sayin 🙂

  3. D’Antoni Alert: My apologies. My last MD alert was in error and MD’s Laker record was actually worse than I stated. I have always said that I was too easy on him and would turn into a moderate on the subject, but I do need to be accurate. MD’s record coming into this game is now 64-80. Pfund’s final record 66-80. So MD can move by the Pfund loss total today.

    Darius: Yes – with regard to the two ways to possibly win, being impovements in the transiton game and hitting a bunch of 3’s. I have a strange feeling I know which one of those two the Lakers are likely to attempt.

  4. MDA, a true company man. Taking all the hits for the direction his superiors have deemed “the best course of action”. One thing for sure, since this season has been soooo bad, for soooo long, the Laker front office got a head start working on the obvious…next season, right?

    “Here’s hoping 2014-2015 has more highlights than Kobe passing MJ on the NBA all-time scoring list”.

  5. I guess I’m “that guy”, the guy who wants the Lakers to lose. I’m not “rooting” for a loss. It gives me no pleasure to see them lose. I don’t want to see guys wearing the B&G and working hard to suffer mentally, emotionally, financially. But I’m looking at years of frustration and futility for Lakers fans going forward, and I think it only makes sense to want to see the team improves its odds, however marginally. That means losing games to gain a higher “seed” in the lottery.

    This is where we’re at now, when winning is pyrrhic and losing is bitter relief. But to keep things in perspective, we are still, what, only the 4th or 5th worst team in the league? And for the fans of many teams, ours is situation normal, all f—ed up, for years and decades on end.

  6. I agree. We could improve our transition defense, grab some rebounds, slow the game down and destroy the Suns in half court. I guess we’ll go with shooting 3 threes per minute and hope someone catches fire.

    Oh well, nothing new…

  7. I always root for the Lakers to win, and the lottery changes nothing for me. I’m content for the Lakers to get the pick they deserve based on how good or bad they are, playing as well as they can and trying to win. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be a sports fan. Hoping for losses is a perversion of sport and isn’t the entertainment I’m looking for. Whatever it’s going to be, the Lakers are bad enough to be assured a pretty high pick, high enough that some potentially great players will be available. I’ll be rooting for a very impressive win over the Suns, while at the same time expecting the Lakers to get blown out by a team they probably can’t handle.

  8. I must admit I am relishing this year coming to a close like no other I can really remember.
    couldn´t agree more

  9. JC I get what your saying but stats don’t lie. The past 6 weeks( since scouts figured out he can’t go right) his shooting is under. 30% with 7 zero point games. He has more TOs then points as defenses look for that cross court pass.

    At the same time guards are running by and through him as teams focus on his lack of speed. With no rim protector it’s no wonder Lakers are last the the NBA points allowed.

    The dam is leaking and the point of the leak is Mr. Marshall. Watch tonight how many times guards focus on beating him to start offense and then double on defense because he can ‘not shoot. His plus minus is by far worst on the entire team.

    Nice guy though!

  10. if you haven’t done so, every Laker fan should get a copy of the latest issue of The New Yorker. Great article on Kobe.

  11. J C,

    I really cannot agree with you. Marshall does not belong in the league, if I were to judge him by the sample size of his games as a Laker. Granted that he has a good court vision and is an assist-first PG, which is the way I prefer point guards to be. However, his lack of shooting touch combined with his lack of defensive awareness and slow lateral speed makes him a liability on defense.

    Remember how Kobe used to guard Rondo? Well, Rondo at least could get some dribble penetration and could play defense, so he stayed on court. Marshall’s game is just too flawed to keep him playing at NBA level. I would go as far as saying that he wouldn’t even start for most Euroleague teams, as he doesn’t open up the floor for the guys he tries to assist…

  12. Two best players I have seen that Lakers really need are.
    Napier. Iverson like
    Randle. Pippin like.

    Either would vastly improve team. Keep Henry, Young, Hill and Pau with Kobe and you make playoffs at least.

  13. It’s Kamen’ ‘s world!

  14. Chris Kaman with a double-double in the first half. He is having a nice game tonight.

  15. “Keep Henry, Young, Hill and Pau with Kobe and you make playoffs at least.”

    Nope, no way. get rid of MDA if you want, but that doesn’t make any of these guys better individual defenders or team defenders. W Pau/Hill you still have zero interior defensive presence to protect the rim – Pau isn’t athletic enough to help, and Hill is far overrated defensively and not that smart. Young is kobe Lite and only good w the ball in his hands as a chucker and has shown nothing on the defensive end. Henry is maybe average.
    Kobe barely shows any flashes of being involved on the defensive end except when it really matters – and if this is your team it would matter every single night and he doesn’t have the wheels or stamina or will to do it night in night out.

    And none of these guys do anything to stop point guard dribble penetration. Are Pau, Kaman, Hill useful players – sure for different reasons – but none of them help seal any holes defensively.
    I sorta understand the love affair w Pau since he’s been here – but if he’s gonna cost alot, id rather have a player that can play defense and help backstop what is gonna be a younger, changing team going forward. Keep one of these guys sure – but 2 is wasting your money. Spend the $ and roster spots on defensive minded player instead.

  16. Kaman with an 18/10 and 4 dimes at the half.

    Phoenix needs this game, so I expect it will tighten up a lot.

  17. That was based on Napier at point. Maybe not though.

  18. @jerke agree with you 100% more so on the Hill being overrated part. Huge games against the 2 worst teams in the NBA and avg or below against teams that have some talent.

  19. Ok ok
    Keep Kobe.

  20. Kamen a plus 29

    Sacre a minus 13

    Rob is my best player says Mike.

  21. Good thing this Chris Kaman guy hasn’t been playing all year. We might have won more games or something. :/

  22. Ryan Kelly preserving tacos….

  23. This years team is making me sick. Must lose games and guys who aren’t even going to be on the team next year are costing us draft position! I’m god damned sick of these sons of bit##es!!!!

  24. T-A-C-O-S!!!

  25. Lakers surprise the Suns and even get the fans Tacos.

  26. Phoenix came into this game hitting .377 from 3, 5th in the NBA. The Lakers 3PD isn’t terrible
    –.359, 16th–but PHX was 8/36 on 3s tonight.

    As to the almost 32-year-old Chris Kaman putting up a 28/17/6 to spark a win in Game 73 when the team is 24-48…great performance from The Caveman, but I am not seeing the value for the team there. It will help Kaman’s agent a little this summer, but I am still not clear on why Kaman did not go to a contender, one way or another, (trade or buyout) unless Kaman is in the team’s plans and MDA is not.

    Kelly played well in this game.

  27. Nice rope-a-dope Lakers. Look like worst team in league on road trip to force the Suns to that Saturday night in LA thing. Then come back with knockout punch.


  28. rr The Kaman situation is beyond befuddling.
    Can anyone provide a explanation for why we did not play him all year, then did not trade him, did not speak to him for 3 weeks, and now this?

  29. Must lose games and guys who aren’t even going to be on the team next year are costing us draft position!

    Not sure if you’re being sarcastic or if you’re dead serious, but either way, it’s hilarious.

  30. @ Robert

    Nope. No such explanation is forthcoming.

  31. What is there to say? This is Kaman’s way of getting back at the Lakers by killing their chance for a high draft pick. We need more Sacre!

  32. Only good news from tonight.

    This further shows how completely incompetent Mumbles The Clown is.

    Nice game Chris. Plus 31 while Mikey’s fav Sacre was a minus 11.

    What a guy.

  33. melcountscounts March 30, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    Kaman pulling his own strings tonight.

  34. MDA certainly looked foolish tonight for forcing Kaman to sit on the bench – remember him lying down? – when he has the skills to do what he did tonight. Sure, part of it is the match-ups, but Kaman is a much more versatile player than MDA gives him credit for.

    On the show after the game Dave Miller emphasized a play were Marshall, instead of trying to force a pass into the middle, passed to Kelly at the 3pt line and pointed at Kaman, indicating Kelly should use an over-the-top pass because of a severe mismatch down low. That is recognizing who is doing what on the floor and taking advantage of it. He does have skills and it is too bad he is so slow defensively.

  35. Ya just never know.

    Lakers hot, Suns not. Kept waiting for the Suns to get it together, but the Lakers have a potent offense at times. Small PHX couldn’t match up with Kaman, opened things up a lot. Kelly, Baze, and all…some kids looking good. The tankers want to be the spoilers. Lovin’ it… at least for a day.

  36. Can’t even tank right… btw I still hate the system, where you reward loosing!

  37. Can anyone provide a explanation for why we did not play him all year, then did not trade him, did not speak to him for 3 weeks, and now this?

    I could explain any of them, maybe, but all of them together are hard to figure out. Kaman didn’t play at all between February 28 and March 25, and then was inserted into the lineup when Pau got sick. In the previous game against Minnesota, Kaman played the first 5:37 and then never got off the bench again.

  38. my fav Laker – R. Kelly. A steal by the FO. As rfen said we just do our best and pick wherever we land in the draft. Aaron Gordon might not have a jumper now but might be better than Jabari, etc when all is said and done. I want Embiid/Exum though.

  39. That Kaman guy is good. Too bad he is a recent addition to the squad. He’s not a superstar and he’ll have some bad games, but if we only had him since training camp instead of getting him at the trade deadline we could’ve looked more competitive and won a few more games.

  40. By the way, I remember Darius saying that our best defensive frontcourt was Hill/Kaman and, for at least one game, we held a very good offensive team to under 100 in a game played at a fast pace. I don’t think this is a coincidence (even though the Suns are really small)…

    I do have another question: will this moronic use of our big men (and saying that D-League Sacre is our best player to the media) influence the decision to be made about MDA’s future? If we only knew Jimmy and Mitch’s thoughts on our coach.

  41. I’d rather have Wiggins than wins at this point

  42. Renato,

    Excellent question and especially pertinent for the draft. The Lakers need so much at this point and as others have argued should draft best talent available. But, what happens if MD is here and cannot work with a young big man? I fear he has the potential to waste the first couple of years of that player’s career.

  43. Sports teams should try to win – that’s why we are fans. Losing for the possibility of getting to choose someone who has a reasonable chance of being a bust seems like stupidity of the highest order. Take what we get after trying our best, or be known as losers.

    Of course the above paragraph applies to our coaching situation, so I really don’t expect MDA to be around next year. I also doubt we are going to get any indication from the front office until the year is completely done.

    With Mitch, Rudy, and others I don’t really know about, we did pretty well with the 48th pick last year. I think we have a good chance, where-ever we pick this year.

  44. Robert
    The only answer to the Kaman question(s) I can come up with is:
    Because Mike Dantoni is an IDIOT.

  45. Agreed Craig. I can’t root for losses, no matter the odds of winning the draft lottery…

  46. I would like to see a comparison per minute Kamen vs Pau for points and rebounds.

    Guess Chris might win.

  47. Embiid could play the PnR 5 in a D’Antoni system, although there would be a learning curve. Vonleh and Gordon could play in MDA ball too, but both of those guys are still teenagers and will have learning curves in any case and neither of them really profiles as a Stretch 4. Randle is more polished but plays sort of like Zach Randolph and would not seem to fit MDA ball.

    Exum, Wiggins, and Parker could all play MDA ball, and the former 2 might thrive. Smart I would have questions about in general and as a fit in MDA ball.

    The fact that the Lakers got an apparent rotation guy at 48 is nice, but it doesn’t have much to do with what the Lakers need in the upcoming draft. The Lakers need to be in a position to draft a guy that doesn’t require as much scouting, because his ceiling is obvious and high. If they are low enough that they are trying to choose between Zach LaVine’s upside and Tyler Ennis’ polish, that will in all likelihood make the rebuild longer.

    Also, if there is any tangible, specific, evidence that Tomjanovich is involved in scouting and the draft, I would like to see it.

    I really have no idea what the FO will do about D’Antoni. I would assume it depends on who else is available and what Kobe thinks of MDA, but I may be wrong. There seems to be a subtext here that Buss is determined to put together “Showtime II” no matter what (although the 36-year-old Kobe obviously does not fit with that) and that Buss thinks D’Antoni is the coach to do it.

  48. I would like to see that comparison but per pair of bigs + PG on the floor, as dribble penetration will have an influence on the rebounding and defensive numbers.

    You would need to compare rebounds and points per possession of said trio as well as offensive rebounds allowed, points allowed, assisted baskets allowed and defensive efficiency for every possible combination. And, even then the numbers wouldn’t lead to a conclusion since there’s no consistency in minutes allocated by MDA to get a proper conclusion.

    Those of you who played ball know what I’m talking about. It’s totally different to rack up 4 minutes in the first half and 8 minutes in the second of a blowout (this year, mostly losses) than to play 12 minutes in a row. It just isn’t the same… So, like SVG said, analytics can only take you so far and should be used by coaches with actual basketball knowledge.

    NOTE: There are so few posting now that it appears that it’s always the same people posting…

  49. This win basically kills our chances for a top five pick. This is now the worst season imaginable. Hopefully we can find a gem in the back end of the lottery. Still this is very sad. Very sad indeed.

  50. Take what we get after trying our best, or be known as losers.

    The current Lakers are losers whether they go 30-52 or 27-55, and worse, they are a bad team without a young, foundational talent. Kaman’s going off on Phoenix doesn’t change any of that.

  51. rr,

    What do you think of Payne? I thought he might look good next to Pau, assuming the latter would come back at an acceptable price. Payne can shoot from outside and play interior defense/rebound, but would probably be better if the Lakers trade down and can turn one pick into two. Then perhaps someone like Payne and a PG?

    Of course, that’s an absolute pipe dream.

  52. “This win basically kills our chances for a top five pick. This is now the worst season imaginable. Hopefully we can find a gem in the back end of the lottery. Still this is very sad. Very sad indeed.”

    This, this this. A few wins here at the end of an awful season are absolutely 100% meaningless towards being a “winner” or “loser”, however they could completely screw us if we get locked out of the top 4 picks. The Spurs shut down David Robinson for a full season and got Tim Duncan out of it. The Celtics have been known to tank as well, and they certainly are not a “loser” franchise.

    Look, I’m not saying that I ever wanted this season to be a tank season, but as RR stated-

    “The current Lakers are losers whether they go 30-52 or 27-55, and worse, they are a bad team without a young, foundational talent. Kaman’s going off on Phoenix doesn’t change any of that.”

    If we’re already a bad team, then wouldn’t it be better to go ahead get the best foundational piece that we can possibly get?

  53. Ken

    Look at the 1st half shooting for Suns. That was not due ‘to Laker defense. That was a hung over Sun team or unprepared based on Bucks, Minn scores. Suns were terrible and only Kamen was way above norm for Lakers. Other then only suit up 4 players what more can you do.

    Do not fear. I have Lakers going 2 and 7 test of the way. If 27 wins and worst record ever doesn’t get you a top 4 pick them the NBA needs to dump 3 or. 4 teams . Show me a year where their were worse records then this year? Nice CBA owners.

  54. Take it back. 27 wins got you 5th last year and 6th in 2010. Oh well.

  55. darius: now that the lakers are playing what else is there left to do ball, ie; let’s trot chris kamen out there and see what he could do hoping he will flop for so many reasons that would have made coach d’antoni look like a genius for not only not communicating and not playing him at all and fly in the face of the front office who acquired kamen this past offseason with aspirations of using this former all star for a relative inexpensive contract for one year no less. so far, that’s another plan that hasn’t worked out so well for coach d’antoni. laker’s win last night was due primarily to the efforts of one, chris kamen. irony can be a bitter pill to swallow. gulp it down with a little of ko’s expired wine; tastes of vinegar with a dash of oil and toss it like a salad.

    there are so many layers to the bad luck this laker organization has faced the last couple of seasons. even when one makes an apparent effort to fail for the betterment of the team, just the opposite has happenned.

    with just five home and four away games left for this illustrious season; one can only think back and say, I was dreaming, right? this didn’t really happen, right?

    the story of this laker season: in an effort to attain failure, small dosages of success were met.

    Go lakers

  56. The Spurs didn’t ‘shut down’ David Robinson – he was injured.

    My point is that organizations are known by their active intent as well as the result they achieve. The last two years can be defined by the injuries suffered, as much as any coaching deficiencies, plus the Dwight Howard fiasco. This is not an excuse for the current coaching staff or the front office, but a view that allows for a largely ‘grey’ landscape and not just a ‘black and white’ one.

    What the 76ers are doing defines a loser organization. They may succeed this year, but over the long run they will not remain in the top half of the league if they think this approach is the way to rebuild, nor will winning veterans want to go there with any frequency.

  57. “Loser” organizations:

    – have dysfunctional ownership
    – hope and pray that the lottery will save them from all of their past mistakes, and if that fails, they pray that the next lottery will save them…and so on.
    – make rash coaching hires without doing the necessary due diligence
    – do not consult their superstars about coaching changes and other personnel moves
    – are unable to keep their superstar free agents
    – put up billboards to beg free agents to stay
    – fire their succesful scouting team because the owner thinks any guy at a bar can be just as good
    – give their aging superstar starter’s minutes right after returning from an achilles injury, rather than slowly integrating him into the lineup
    – do not value defense
    – pass up on Phil Jackson…..twice
    – continually make excuses

  58. “The current Lakers are losers whether they go 30-52 or 27-55, and worse, they are a bad team without a young, foundational talent. Kaman’s going off on Phoenix doesn’t change any of that.”

    I think the confusion here is in terminology. There are losers who try to win, and there are quitters. Quitters are the real losers. I’m thankful that nobody in the Laker organization I know of is a quitter. Of course there are examples in history of those who have sacrificed their integrity, the integrity of whatever larger entity they represent, taken a short-cut and found some success. If those are your heroes, then by all means, follow their lead. Maybe the Lakers are not the franchise they used to be, but at least they still have pride. And integrity …for the good of the NBA as a whole. Their legacy has not been built on tanking to get draft picks, so that is also an example for people to follow.

  59. but a view that allows for a largely ‘grey’ landscape and not just a ‘black and white’ one.

    What the 76ers are doing defines a loser organization. They may succeed this year, but over the long run they will not remain in the top half of the league if they think this approach is the way to rebuild, nor will winning veterans want to go there with any frequency.

    Aside from the fact that you are projecting the actions of unknown free agents in unspecified years in the future and are making claims that you cannot possibly support, these statements are self-contradictory. If the Lakers are operating in a grey area, there is no reason to think that the 76ers aren’t as well.

    I would also suggest that there is really no such thing as a “loser organization” per se, and we have a rather painful example of that right down the hall, so to speak. The Clippers were the biggest joke in the NBA for many years, but then four things happened:

    1. They won the lottery the year that Blake Griffin came out.
    2. Sterling hired some good basketball people, left them alone, and put out the money needed to let them operate.
    3. The Veto landed the Clippers Chris Paul.
    4. Sterling approved the money to bring in Paul’s choice for coach, Doc Rivers.

    And now, the Clippers are legit title contenders and will likely continue to be in the championship conversation over the next 2-3 seasons. And they got there the same way that all contenders do: with a combination of star talent, good luck, and good management.

    The idea that some overarching organizational presence/philosophy leads to success works better in football and baseball, in which you are dealing with larger rosters, farm systems, bigger draft pools and longer drafts, and with a competitive context in which no one player can have the impact that one guy can have on an NBA franchise. But as noted before, if you are going to sell this type of narrative about the Lakers, then it would seem to be concerning that so many of the faces of Lakers greatness are no longer directly associated with the organization.

  60. Quitters are the real losers.

    The 76ers pulled together enough last game to break their 26-game skid, so I don’t think that anyone should be suggesting that Brett Brown and his guys are quitters. And of course it was Kaman who fell asleep on the bench a few weeks ago. Additionally, I think any confusion here is on your end. No one is upset with Kaman; he did what he is paid to do: compete. People are questioning the organization’s plans, priorities, and direction.

    So, this isn’t a moral question so much as a strategic one. There is an argument to be made that what Hinkie is doing in Philly is not good strategy, for three reasons:

    1. History shows that teams this bad often take a long time to get good again and often never do.
    2. There is no sure-fire franchise player in this draft.
    3. The weighted system means that the 76ers could be this bad and still pick 5th, rather than 1st or 2nd.

    But there are equally good reasons to question what the Lakers are doing. Looking ahead, while each FA makes his choice for different reasons, I think it is fair to say that:

    1. 2nd, 3rd and 4th-tier FAs will make their choices (most of the time) based on money, contract length, and playing time. There are exceptions, of course: Young and Farmar are local guys who grew up as Lakers fans and who simply wanted to be back in LA and to wear the colors, and power to them. But I think that is exception, not the rule. Also, I doubt that either Young was overwhelmed with better offers and Farmar’s decision to give up guaranteed money overseas was pretty unusual.
    2. Top-tier FAs will make their choices most of the time based on the opportunity for immediate and sustained title contention. These guys are going to get playing time and money regardless.
    3. Veteran ring-chasers will make decisions based on what that term implies.

  61. rfen: Nice post. I like your appeal to integrity–just hope the league sees it the same way and rewards the Lakers with a lucky ping pong ball (for basketball reasons, of course!).

  62. teamn,

    I have only see Payne play once, so I am not really in position to answer. A lot of people seem to like his game.

  63. “The 76ers pulled together enough last game to break their 26-game skid, so I don’t think that anyone should be suggesting that Brett Brown and his guys are quitters. And of course it was Kaman who fell asleep on the bench a few weeks ago. Additionally, I think any confusion here is on your end. No one is upset with Kaman; he did what he is paid to do: compete. People are questioning the organization’s plans, priorities, and direction.”

    No, not confused. I wasn’t talking about the 76ers specifically, or Kaman or just the Laker players. I’m talking about everyone in the Laker organization, who at least as far as I can tell, is still focused on winning games. This is how the NBA is supposed to work, or meaningful games impacting playoff positioning will be compromised. I think the Lakers respect the league. It’s also typically in the character makeup of those who devote their careers to sports competition to never stop competing—and that may include those in management. I think that’s where some fans get confused. They can’t put themselves into the heads and hearts of those who put their reputations on the line. The Lakers don’t make plans to lose. It’s not a direction they look to. So a denial of that is never going to add up to an understanding of why they do what they do.

  64. The Clippers have won the lottery more than once. This last time seems to have taken, but it also didn’t succeed until they got Chris Paul (hummmmm!). Oh yeah, Donald Sterling took his hands off the wheel – and I don’t think Jim Buss has his hand on the wheel like a GM, or Mitch would be long gone.

  65. The key, as I suggested, is winning the lottery when the right guy is there and is so gifted that he is fairly easy to identify and can be a cornerstone for the team. Cleveland won the lottery last year and has Anthony Bennett. They also won it and got LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. Toronto won it and took Andrea Bargnani. That is the luck part, which applies to any championship team. As smart as Popovich and Buford are, San Antonio would not have done what they have done without winning both the Robinson and Duncan lotteries. Any org winning those lotteries would have taken those guys.

    As to the Jim/Mitch thing, neither of us knows what goes on day-to-day nor we do know what would cause Kupchak to quit. Here is what we do know:

    1. Jim has a title related to player personnel that his old man never had.
    2. Jeanie gave the radio interview in which she referred to Jim and Mitch together several times with a shared vision etc. There was no indicator in that interview that Jim is a hands-off boss when it comes to team construction.

  66. Losers? I look at it more like a great General ordering his troops to retreat because the cost of winning this particular battle may be too high or not worth the price. However, this great general regroups at some point where his troops have the advantage and wins the war. :/

    This year has been doomed since Kobe reinjured himself. Sure, the players never gave up- as is absolutely right. Telling your players to not play as hard as possible is wrong IMO. But, can anyone here honestly say that we’ve put our best squad on the floor every game? And , if not, then does that mean that we haven’t (as a FO or coaches) tried our absolute hardest to win every game? What does that say?

  67. hey darius: am sure you’re reading up on some of these posts and just thinking out loud whether you also believe that rr is really a chef at heart as he likes to keep stirring the pot, adding a little spice here, a little salt there, some tobacco for added flavor to the vichyssoise I refer affectionately to as the lakers. and of course there’s ko turning the heat up higher and higher and higher…

    bon appetit everyone!

    Go lakers

  68. david h,

    I am just talking ball. Not a chef, but I certainly can be pretty pedantic. But I do think that using Kaman the way they have is worth discussing. YMMV.

  69. There seems to be a subtext here that Buss is determined to put together “Showtime II” no matter what (although the 36-year-old Kobe obviously does not fit with that) and that Buss thinks D’Antoni is the coach to do it.

    No disputing that subtext exists, but what’s concerning is that Jim Buss’s idea of “Showtime” might not mesh with reality. The myth is those 80s-era Lakers were merely about the run-and-gun, outscore the opponent with Magical passes and highlight-worthy dunks. Many have compared that style to D’Antoni’s offense-laden Phoenix teams and the whole “SSOL” concept, but the differences between the 80s Lakers and mid-2000s Suns are vast, and if Buss’s solution truly is to believe merely employing the same coach and a heavy emphasis on scoring is the recipe for success, we should all be worried.

    People forget the Showtime Lakers played excellent, trapping defense. They forget how deadly that team was in the halfcourt game, from Kareem or Worthy on the block; Magic posting up or passing over the heads of smaller guards; the great pick and roll combination Magic enjoyed with Mychal Thompson; and how some much action in the paint drew double-teams that opened Scott and Cooper for three-pointers.

    Not only was there star power — four overall No. 1 picks who brought NCAA championship experience in as rookies — but there was a highly versatile, hard-working team who fought hard nearly every season.

    The key to replicating Showtime, if it’s even possible with the new CBA, is stockpiling talent and guys with a strong will to win. Miami is the closest comparison — and with Riley, it’s no mystery why.

    A D’Antoni up-tempo offense is just one part of the equation, and as Phil Jackson proved, you don’t even need that to win. Hopefully most fans won’t care whether the future Lakers win by playing like the ’87 Lakers or the ’94 Knicks — just as long as they win.

    But if Jim thinks the only path to success is emulating the star-studded, razzle dazzle game his dad’s teams initially enjoyed, let’s hope he goes back and reviews what really made that era so beloved. It’s a lot more than scoring 115 points per game.

  70. With the obvious exception of Kaman – at least leading a 2nd team – I think MDA did pretty much put out the best players available on a day-to-day basis. Mostly, they were 2nd tier players used to short minutes and never starting games. These types of players generally play much worse on the road and must get used to playing big minutes and in crunch time. Meeks is an example of such a player who made the transition and now has a good career ahead of him – IMO.

    Looking at the schedules, I think the Lakers finish with the 7th/8th worst record and we would be lucky to draft Exum at that position. We might get Vonleh or Smart might drop. Otherwise it is probably Gordon or Cauley-Stein for our front-court, unless the front office is enamored with Anderson. Anyway, these are my guesses at this time.

  71. KenOak–

    Kupchak said something a few weeks about the ratio of “this year to next year” and used percentages as shorthand for it, saying that those percentages change–IOW, at some point in time that what you are doing as an org. might be “80% next year” or whatever.

    So, using those terms, it seems that right now the Lakers should be at about “100% next year” and using Kaman as they did last night would not seem to fit that. A couple of people have talked about this in league terms, so I suppose that you could say since Phoenix is in a tight race for a playoff spot, the Lakers “owed it to the NBA” to play him big minutes last night when he got hot. But OTOH, Kaman went 22 minutes against Milwaukee, and started that game, too. Maybe Kaman goes 32 if Milwaukee is in contention…who knows.

  72. I find it kind of absurd when fans root for their team to lose. And it creates a losing culture. What makes you think that once a team gets their coveted pick they can suddenly turn some magic switch and start doing the little things that are necessary to win consistently after ignoring them in the previous season? You have to develop good habits if you want to win consistently.

    And it doesn’t help that

    (i) there might not be a real franchise player in this draft, anyway,
    (ii) losing only increases the probability of getting a higher draft pick but doesn’t guarantee it and
    (iii) historically, the best players haven’t always been drafted very early in the draft.

  73. So who´s still in the running for that case of wine?

  74. rr: hoping YMMV meant your method or mileage may vary and did not mean, you make me vomit?
    that could be a little hard to swallow.

    Go lakers !

  75. @Joshua That is why this system is absurd. It is only in America you have something like this. In Soccer (the biggest sport in the world), you relegate to a lower division if you have a bad season. That has major consequences for a club, and makes the bottom feeders fight with tooth and nail to keep winning.

    I hate the draft system.

  76. Stop winning, Lakers. It’s not funny anymore.

  77. One can rationalize their position all they want to regarding the Lakers and how hard they are trying. Kobe has said that he could have returned by now if it had been worth it. The Lakers have not consistently put their best team on the floor all season and that is underscored by Kobe stopping his comeback for the season. It would be great if we as fans could influence the culture of the team but the reality is the team wins and loses based on their talents and coaching. As fans we can hope for a brighter tomorrow and that could be helped with a higher draft pick. That is the NBA that David Stern created.

  78. Good question Purple! Who had 27-28 which is what I see. Think they get one of two with Celts and could go either way with Sac to see who can play worse.

  79. Is no one else high on Napier? A fast, penetrating PG seems like our biggest need.

  80. “The Lakers have not consistently put their best team on the floor all season and that is underscored by Kobe stopping his comeback for the season.”

    There’s always a weighing of risks and what’s best for the organization in the long run, but that’s not the same as intentionally losing or setting yourself up for failure. Kobe should not come back because it’s not worth the risk to his health. But you can bet, that if he was healthy, he’d want to play every game no matter what, and he wouldn’t be there to lose. Teams make trades midseason that are geared towards the future rather than the present, and that’s legitimate. The Lakers had chances to dump Pau, Kaman, and others this season, but they chose not to because they couldn’t get back what they wanted. They could have made the team even worse than it is, but they didn’t.

  81. Ko,

    I had 29 wins. Do I have a chance at the wine contest? (Probably not.)

  82. Ko, I haven’t seen Napier ply but a fast legit pg would help tremendously. If they could take someone like that who could defend and pressure at the point position, that would make a huge difference for this team. If Nash comes back healthy and is able to split time or back up 15-20 mins a night to mentor, that would be ideal. This being the case if lakers don’t draft in top 4-5, in which case they just take best player available.

    I haven’t seen enough if Ennis from cuse – would he fit this mold?

  83. Who had 27-28 which is what I see
    Yeah it seems that way, don´t it?
    Someone´s gonna be a happy, wine drinkin´ camper soon! & at least we´ve got something to play for!

  84. I know Bill Simmons is someone who is viewed with utter contempt but after seeing the last few games, does this Laker season qualify in the Tyson Zone? Where if someone tells you that this Laker team did so and so in any game, you would no longer feel shocked or surprised. I kinda feel like this 2013-14 season has either reached or come very close to reaching it.

  85. They can’t put themselves into the heads and hearts of those who put their reputations on the line.

    This may be true, but:

    1. There is no reason for you to assume that you have a superior understanding of what is the heads and hearts of Lakers management and players than anyone else here does.
    2 As I noted above, Kupchak himself said that some decisions are made based not mostly on this year, but on next year.
    3. None of that explains the way Kaman has been used.
    4. You are making it an either/or thing, and it isn’t. It is possible to make short-term sacrifices for long-term gains.