Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Kings

Darius Soriano —  April 2, 2014

I typically believe that the simplest explanation is usually the best one. While conspiracy theories and grand schemes are fun to contemplate, the truth is often less sexy and probably pretty boring.

This brings me to Mike D’Antoni and, at least in the view of many observers, his puzzling rotation decisions from game to game. For some context, here is Eric Pincus of the LA Times on Jordan Hill’s lack of time in Tuesday’s game against the Blazers:

On March 27, the Lakers’ Jordan Hill scored 28 points with 16 rebounds against the Bucks in Milwaukee. Five days later, he couldn’t get off the bench, outside of Coach Mike D’Antoni’s rotation. “Yeah, man. I don’t know. I’m all out of words. I don’t know what’s going on,” Hill said after the Lakers’ 124-112 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. “It’s getting old now. Can’t be frustrated.  Can’t be mad. I just need to stay humble. “Hill, who will be a free agent this summer, said he is open to returning to the Lakers but not for more of the same. “Of course not,” Hill said when asked the question. “Who would?”

Forget for a moment the implication Hill makes about not wanting to return next season (should things stay this way) and instead focus on the fact that within a 5 day span Hill went from key player (and starter) to a DNP-CD. Hill’s situation is not unique, of course, as the player who replaced him in the lineup can surely attest. Chris Kaman went from a string of games planted firmly on the bench to suddenly getting a boatload of minutes and even starting against the Blazers next to Pau Gasol.

After the game, D’Antoni’s explanation was pretty simple:

“There’s not enough minutes,” D’Antoni after the loss. “You just can’t play 12 guys just in and out, in and out, in and out. … It just doesn’t work…You’ve got to make choices and you don’t know before you make the choice that it’s the right choice,” D’Antoni said. “You probably know afterwards. You just go on your gut, you go on what you see from previous games.  You go on the opponent and then just try to make the best choice you can.”

I, for one, tend to believe what D’Antoni is saying. In a different quote he explained that, in looking to the future, part of the plan is to play Ryan Kelly and Robert Sacre. With Pau a lineup mainstay, that doesn’t leave many minutes for the rest of the front court players. Likely one, or both, of Hill and Kaman will suffer by being left out of the rotation. This is just how things go.

I don’t have to agree with D’Antoni, but it is easy to draw a straight line to get to his conclusions. I have long discussed how this roster is out of balance and when that occurs someone is bound to get squeezed. It just so happens that the players feeling that pinch are guys who, on the surface, are the better players. They are the established veterans and, in most situations where trying to put the best talent on the floor is the goal, they would see time over their teammates who are younger and less effective (at least over the long haul) than them.

This is where things get less simple, however, and start to veer off track from the first sentence of this post. At this point in the season, the Lakers aren’t necessarily about winning each game — at least not entirely. Mike D’Antoni is trying to put his best players on the floor, but is also trying to play his young(ish) players minutes. He is trying to stick to his system, but is also trying to see what can work on the edges of that system by pairing multiple bigs in the same lineup.

This leads to the type of inconsistencies that have served as the backdrop of the team’s rotations for nearly the entire season. It doesn’t help that the coach can be fickle, trying to ride a hot hand only to bury the player when that hand turns cold. Jordan Hill’s game against the Blazers is a prime example of that — in the game immediately following his big game, he shot 5-12, didn’t go to the FT line, and saw his rebounding rate fall off. After that game his minutes got reduced and then last night he didn’t play at all. So, there is an argument to be made that inconsistent performance can lead directly to inconsistent minute allocation as the coach seeks workable solutions.

The flip side to this argument is how much this lack of lineup consistency (and some would argue trust in the player) contributes to the dips in production. I don’t know of any study to confirm this, but I would imagine no one plays as well when uncertainty of role and playing time exists; when minutes can be so unpredictable that a guy can go from having a key role one night to a nonexistent one the next. No one likes looking over their shoulder every night; everyone would prefer to have the peace of mind that their role is somewhat stable.

What does this have to do with the Kings game tonight? Nothing. At least not really. When it comes to tonight I think the coach will play who he thinks will help him win, while still trying to ensure that certain needs are addressed regarding the playing time of young players (like Kelly and Sacre, and to a lesser extent Kent Bazemore). This may make for wonky rotations or things that on the surface don’t necessarily make sense. And it will certainly lead to things that people do not agree with. That doesn’t mean an explanation is missing, however. There certainly is that.

Where you can watch: 7:00pm start time on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM.

Darius Soriano

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107 responses to Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Kings

  1. No Pau tonight
    No Nash tonight

    Choices become easier tonight .

  2. I get why D’Antoni feels the need to play Kelly over Hill, we all do. What I don’t get is what else do we need to see in Robert Sacre? I like the kid but unless he magically grows more fast twitch muscles or becomes automatic from 15 feet he is what he is at this point, a fringe NBA player who at best should be an 11th or 12th man.

  3. Most people won’t view it as a huge deal, but losing a contributor like Hill at his salary will be one of my biggest regrets about the D’Antoni era. We were never going to contend during his time here. The hope was to find solid role player type pieces to surround future free agents with. Playing Sacre at the expense of Hill (fairly young himself) is an idiotic move, and that’s nothing against Sacre. Laker fans often overvalue their young drafted players (I still remember the calls to try to develop and get more PT for Ebanks, Goudelock, and Morris). Kelly may still turn into a solid role player, but undervaluing the off-the-bench energy spark we have in Hill is a mistake. If I were him, I’d take off too.

  4. Reality ….we are playing for next season…Compeletly understand playing guys who might be here next season…What I don’t understand why Gasol,Hill and Kaman wasn’t traded at the deadline…No offers?…You will lose all 3 players and get zero in return….

  5. Pretty much the whole world knows Sacre is at best a taco time player. Hill is still young and can be the ideal 3rd big who can play both center and PF. Mike No-D-Antoni needs to be canned on April 17th!

  6. My comment from the previous thread probably belongs here. So, with everyone’s indugence, I repeat it:

    A few facts re: Jordan Hill, in his last 10 games, these are his numbers:

    Feb. 28 — 5:58 minutes, 0 pts., 1 rebound
    March 3 — DNP/CD
    March 4 — DNP/CD
    Injured
    March 21 — 26:39, 9 pts., 14 rebounds
    March 23 — 32:58, 28 pts., 13 rebounds
    March 25 — 14:02, 9 pts., 5 rebounds
    March 27 — 31:20, 28 pts., 16 rebounds
    March 30 — 18:27, 6 pts., 3 rebounds
    April 1 — DNP/CD

    So…in the lst 10 games, Hill has played in 7 games and averaged 21:06, 12.9 pts., 8.4 rebounds. In that same span, he has had 3 DNPs.

    Now, how do you explain having a player who is averaging 13 pts and 8+ rebounds per game and refusing to play him for 3 games out of the last 10. Also, notice the distribution of minutes (all figures rounded off): 6, zero, zero, 27, 33, 14, 31, 24, 18, zero. Wouldn’t such an erratic distribution of minutes throw anyone’s game off?

    Furthermore, to those who complain that Jordan Hill only plays well against inferior competition, bear in mind that he has had the following games:

    Feb. 9 — Chicago, 15 pts. and 9 rebounds
    January 28 — Indiana, 10 and 12
    January 8 — Houston 10 and 8
    December 21 — Golden State, 14 and 10
    December 16 — Atlanta, 21 and 9
    December 10 — Phoenix, 13 and 7
    November 13 — Denver, 18 and 15
    November 12 — New Orleans, 21 and 11

    Now tell me, why has Jordan Hill received 3 DNPs in the last 10 games?

  7. darius: that is why whack a mole makes perfect sense up until the bitter end of this dismal of all laker seasons in recent past.

    mid Wilshire: definitely agree with you and leaves us all scratching our heads.

    when it comes to coach d’antoni and his coaching staff: oingo boingo said it best:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3VeJgscWTg

    Go lakers

  8. What D’Antoni reveals by not playing Hill more consistently is that he doesn’t value him high enough as a player. Like with Kaman, he knows what these guys do, and he doesn’t care if Hill comes back next season. I think it’s as simple as that, because while you have a reason to play younger players to give them experience and to see what they can do, you don’t value that over a player who you want to keep and who could leave next year. Yes, we have a pretty good idea of what Hill can do. Unfortunately, D’Antoni doesn’t care about it.

  9. Why s Jordan Hill, a relatively young a player and by now a proven role player, less valuable that seeing what Ryan Kelly or Sacre can give you.

    Not one of our young players is a potential star, they are all potential role players and we want the best of them to surround our future stars with. Hill has shown to be arguably the best of the bunch and do to Dantoni he is most likely gone.

  10. “Laker fans often overvalue their young drafted players.”

    This is so true. I’ve been guilty of this myself. I really wanted it to work for Ebanks the first time I heard him compare to Trevor Ariza. We see how that turned out. I really see this happening with Kelly now. Whenever I read a comment along the lines of giving him time over Hill and Kaman because he is “developing” I just sigh. Kelly seems like a good all around guy. But only in the alternate universe that has become Lakerland does he get playing time over guys like Kaman and Hill.

  11. Surprised Miami never called about Jordan Hill around the deadline….Oden is doubtful to give them anything in the playoffs. Would have been a really nice 9th man for them.

  12. Good preview darius.

    @gene, well put, that’s my biggest issue w the FO is that the current situation was completely foreseeable and would’ve eliminated a lot of issues. The fo shouldve moved 2 out of the 3 and made some sort of move for assests or other young talent. That would’ve put to rest any issues about playing time for Kaman and hill and would’ve alleviated a lot of pressure off the coach. In that sense they hung him out to dry – ergo why I feel if they let him go they won’t begrudge having to pay him necessarily.

  13. Between all the injuries and Howard leaving D’Antoni probably hasn’t gotten a fair shake, but it’s hard to see him coaching this team next season. IMO the worst case scenario would be to fire him and then interview 4 or 5 candidates…then we’re most likely ending up with a Karl/Hollins/Scott retread. I’m really hoping that either Mitch or a combination of the Buss’ reach out to Stan Van Gundy right before the season ends or right after to gauge interest, work out the framework for a deal, ect…

  14. Why do fans have trouble understanding….Hill and Kaman are not going to play that much …No reason to play them….Its all about getting time for Kelly and Sacre ….They will be here next season…Hill and Kaman not…..

  15. Gene

    Why do you have trouble understand the concept of putting your best players on the court when us fans spend money on tickets.

    Why not just start the entire Defenders team and tell the test to stay home ? A losing team breeds a losing mentality.

  16. Kaman probably isn’t a long term solution for anything. he might give a great game here and there. i’m also of the mind that i’d rather see him as Pau’s backup. perhaps if the Lakers had a complete team, he would have been.

    Darius, i really thought that was a good write up.

    i don’t like D’Antoni’s style of basketball, especially now that i’ve seen a bit of it up close, but he’s definitely a good coach. the team has continued to play hard for him. if they had a lot more skill, they’d be among the top seeds. he can do that. i don’t want him to be the coach next year, though.

  17. KO….In a perfect world…yes you put your best players on the floor…but if you are trying to get better… You need to give Kelly,Marshall,Sacre time….Its the big picture….You can also build their value up in case they are part of a trade….In the beginning or middle of the season I could see playing your best team….but now…Keep playing the young players and see what you have….

  18. david h,
    lol at the boingo reference and video! I still have one of their EPs from 1980 (on vinyl) -
    ___
    everyone:.
    another good thread yáll got going this afternoon –
    bottom line, the few remaining highlights aside, I can´t wait till this darned season is over and done!

    GO LAKERS!

  19. MDA in the past has decided on his rotations and played the best 7 or 8 players like he did last season. This season has been different due to injuries and the “need” to give the scrubs a chance. I do not have season tickets so I can just choose not to watch them on TV but I imagine the ticketholders feel differently about paying for a pro game and getting D-league players.

  20. D’Antoni Alert: Sorry – been travelling (I know that is a lame excuse when Renato is posting with a broken thumb), so I am a little behind on my D’Antoni Alerts. That said, last game was a significant accomplishment for MD. He went by Randy Pfund’s loss total for a tally of 81 Laker losses. MD now holds a Laker record of 65-81 while Pfund finished at 66-80. Keep in mind that these are the only two Laker coaches in 67 years of history to have at least 40 games coached, with a losing record. Also keep in mind that Pfund was the post “Announcement” coach so I believe he has at least as much “context” as MD. Membership in “The MD Should Be Fired Club” has been growing (membership cards are in the mail – but delayed because the demand was overwhelming). However, there are those who are not quite sure this season will be his last. Again if he returns – he will be the first Laker coach to come back after two losing seasons.
    http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/04/02/report-lakers-leaning-toward-keeping-mike-dantoni/

  21. I have a theory as to why MDA is now playing the “Young’ens” more so that the vets. I personally think that he believes he is doing the FO a favor, as stated in his last interview with ESPN, I think, because he is giving these guys more time to “grow” as their upside is unknown and they have (hopefully) have not reached their peak, where in comparison Kaman, Pau and Hill are a known commodity and are, fore the most part, the players that they are.

    By doing a solid to the FO, I think this guys hopes to stay another year and potentially longer term.

    Not saying this makes sense for the organization, but I think this is how he is trying to save his butt.

  22. So Pau is dizzy
    Kamen is limping
    Hill has an upset stomach

    Anyone see a pattern here?

    Tank You

  23. Robert: I think whether MDA goes or stays will depend in large part on whether the FO thinks they can get a suitable replacement for him lined up.

    The worst situation we would be in would be to fire the guy and then be left with a situation where realistically the guys willing to take the job have a worse track record than MDA (can you say B Scott or Rambis?). Also, unfortunately, i believe that the NBA rules prohibit a team from talking to a coach (whether head coach or assistant) currently under contract with another team without the permission of the team currently employing said coach, so a lot of our “target” guys may not be available for discussions at all.

    So, again, while we all seem to think its a given MDA will be gone by the end of the season as the sacrificial lamb, there is a conceivable scenario where we are forced to keep him on board for at least another year. Please note I am not advocating for MDA to stay on. I think his time with this time has come to an end. However, I mention it to you bc it is a possible outcome given the fact that the Lakers need to make sure that, in order to appease the fans, they have a very, very, very solid candidate waiting to replace MDA if and when he is gone.

  24. ko: we do and it ain’t pretty.

    purpleblood: vinyl in mint condition will have real value someday.

    charter cable did some kind of system wide upgrade yesterday, affecting serviceability today per chat support. i say differently; saw someone resembling one of the buss male family members shimming up the telephone pole a few blocks away en route to home.
    chat support didn’t think that was funny; i beg to differ.

    i found a cap.

    Go lakers via espn 710 am…..

  25. *sighs* Ko our best players right now are just not good enough, thats it. Im glad MDA decided to put that twin tower lineup that people kept clamoring here, i hope that shut up some people about it. Pau and Kaman are too slow to be put togheter as i was saying all along. Right now just play the young’ins all we have to play for is the best draft pick available. It is what it is, at this point i could not care less about putting the best team on the floor or whatnot, we suck anyways…

  26. Let’s start a ‘DRAFT COACH NICK’ petition!

    GOOOooooOOOOOO LAKERS !!!

  27. I remain amazed on how bad a shooter Marshall is.

  28. Robert – not an argument, just a question – how does MDA returning next year make him the first laker coach to return after two losing seasons? They made the playoffs last year (granted this year is taking forever) but just wondering if I missed something?

  29. Warren Wee Lim April 2, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    Ko, I remain amazed of how consistent a complainer you are.

  30. Warren Wee Lim April 2, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    The idea of Kelly and Sacre is not a bad one. If we were running our vets to the ground now we would be clamoring for the opposite: “Give the young guys some burn!” or some kind. With consistent complaining from several people, you just can’t win.

    So Kendall Marshall is not a very good basketball player. You think? He got waived right after he was traded to the Wizards.

    Pau Gasol and Chris Kaman – only 1 of 2 will be back next season. Could be none. I really believe we signed Kaman as an insurance for Gasol being traded, except that didn’t happen. Why is this so hard to comprehend?

    Ryan Kelly has game. He’s not fancy, he’s not athletic, he’s white for cryin’ out loud. But he has game. Now if he was drafted somewhere at 17 you would be raving about him. Since he was picked 40-something then he is no longer worth anything? He came from Duke who has good training and he has height and range. He doesn’t lock it down like Ben Wallace but he has decent game. Best of all, we have a qualifying offer for him next season that makes him a restricted free agent and chance to sign him for 2 more cheap years. That’s important.

    Robert Sacre was one player away from not being in the NBA. Maybe the DLeague would be better for him. But such is not his fate, instead he is rounding out to be the Lakers backup center at this point. The benefit of playing him? Everything. Because he has a cheap contract next season and possibly the year after, you want your guys to be capable when their numbers are called.

  31. @Fern
    “Im glad MDA decided to put that twin tower lineup that people kept clamoring here, i hope that shut up some people about it. ”

    Ummm. Who was ever calling for a twin tower line-up featuring Pau and Kaman? I think that the only thing people were calling for was Kaman and/or Hill playing more than zero minutes a game.

  32. The Lakers bench this year has been a vast improvement. It had been a nagging weakness post the bench mob. The problem this year has been the starting line up has had injuries to its key players and plugged the holes with min deal guys. Some of these have worked out like Young but there just no way this depleted roster is going compete. Guys like Kelly are excellent bench players who have defined roles, does his job, and at a budget price. We need guys like him. Just don’t expect him to start against guys like Melo and not get burned. Even guys like Sacre are worthy reserves. Any worse then Mbenga really?

    Its a perverse night when I can only hope the Lakers lose to the Kings as it would solidify their draft pick position more. I think boston plays phil 2 times before the season ends so they might be within reach of the Lakers race to the bottom. I really want to get this tanking over with. With only a top 5 protected pick next year. things would have to get really ugly to string together another terrible season.

  33. @ KenOak i wasnt refering to you but i seen people asking for that a LOT through the whole season. There it was and it sucked, case closed. Kaman was insurance if Pau got traded he would be playing a ton of minutes.

  34. Wow Bazemore, that was Kobe in reverse. Totally unclutch…

  35. Seemed to be a bit late for that timeout. Nice effort. Questionable understanding with 30 seconds left.

  36. Kaman and Pau play 0 minutes or 30 it makes no difference we still stink. Im flabbergasted, stunned that the Lakers outrebounded Sacto. When was the last time the Lakers outrebounded anybody?

  37. Why is this so hard to comprehend?

    It isn’t. But once the season was lost, there was no point in keeping Kaman around, unless they are planning to fire D’Antoni and trying to keep Kaman on next year’s team.

  38. Warren Wee Lim April 2, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    RR, playing Kaman because Pau was out with Vertigo. It doesn’t make him part of next year’s team.

    Good effort, fell short. This is probably better for the long-term even though I can never really cheer for a loss. This will all be over in 7 games. Then some kind of excitement will brew.

  39. RR, maybe they fielded offers, played chicken and lost. Ultimately, no one knows what plans were in the works but didn’t come to fruition. I agree that even a second round pick or cash for kamen would have made sense, but unlike many here, I assume if it makes sense to me, it would have made sense to Mitch and buss as well. So many trades come down to who blinks as the deadline approaches; maybe this time, no one blinked.

  40. It doesn’t make him part of next year’s team.

    Didn’t say it did. I said that there was no point in keeping him on the roster once the season was lost, unless they are firing MDA and looking to keep the Caveman. And the fact that D’Antoni is telling Dave McMenamin that there are not enough minutes to go around just draws a line under that.

    And, of course, Pau was out again tonight–and Kaman got a DNP-CD.

  41. @ Vasheed
    I think that the Lakers will slide down into the 5th spot too. Boston has at least 2 more wins in them at minimum and possibly 3. I can’t see the Lakers winning another one unless the Spurs rest their entire starting 5 in the last game. Oh. NM.

  42. We have a home game against Jazz though. If Jazz win that one, then we close down on them too.
    Then maybe a 3 way tie for the 4th spot? Lottery should be exciting.

  43. “Im glad MDA decided to put that twin tower lineup that people kept clamoring here, i hope that shut up some people about it.”

    I don’t know how the two would play together. Nobody does. That was one game. Pau was nowhere near 100%. Did you hear about the vertigo? He and Kaman were thrown out there with no real plan how they’d play together. They were just getting in each other’s way. D’Antoni puts nothing into the interior game, and it shows. So a “twin tower lineup” might not work for this team, but seeing one game under those circumstances should change nobody’s mind about its potential.

  44. We gonna judge pau/kaman off one game? Ever heard of small sample size?. Also PAU wasn’t nowhere near 100% since his vertigo was still very prevalent. Regardless, gotta get to 4th. Lets root for some more Ls!!

  45. Apparently Kaman had a strained right calf and sat for that reason.

  46. Here’s the schedule:

    DAL
    “AT” CLIPPERS
    HOU
    GS
    MEM
    @UTAH
    @SA

  47. So who has 26 wins? Red or white? Napa or Italian.

  48. Marshall can pass the rock. His problem is that he decides to pass, then will pass regardless. This leads to passing into impossible traffic, simply because he decided who to pass to and simply waited for when to pass to them. No real feel for the situation. The key to great passing is not to predetermine when and who you are going to pass to, unless you are in the open court. It is like he is playing fast break basketball when they are in a half court offense – hence forced passes and turnovers.

  49. Good grief!!!

  50. Renato Afonso April 3, 2014 at 3:19 am

    Fern, the sample size isn’t enough to question the “twin tower” approach. Using two seven footers requires a different offensive system and different set plays, which obviously are not there. Just because MDA can’t make a twin tower lineup work on offense it doesn’t mean it won’t work. Are Pau and Kaman suited for a twin tower lineup? I’m not sure they are and that doesn’t even cover the defensive approach. With two bigs you really need to tweak your defensive rotations and perimeter defense to accomodate them. Again, I don’t think MDA did anything regarding that.

    However, I agree with others who say that the problem is the consistency of minutes allocated to each player. Our C and PF rotation should consist of Pau/Hill/Kaman/Kelly (in order of importance) and that doesn’t mean that Pau and Kaman should be simultaneously on court for long stretches. If Pau plays 30 to Kaman’s 18 and Hill plays 30 to Kelly’s 18 as well, nobody would complain about the rotation. And we’re talking average minutes played, so they could obviously go up or down a bit depending on the matchup or someone being “hot”.

    Regarding last night’s game, it was just a showcase of bad perimeter defense. Marshall simply can’t stay in front of anyone and this is no random complaining. This is a fact. However, I understand that he’s our only available PG, so he gets to play for long stretches. I’m not sure he stays if the FO keeps Farmar and they find a better PG elsewhere. I really disliked the way we “played defense” against the pick’n roll with the ball handler splitting the defense at least in two different possessions. I’m not sure if they players switch, show, drop back, or whatever they do. Tom Izzo’s video on pick’n roll defense is actually quite good as it covers almost every single way to guard against it. You guys should see it and then check the Lakers’ games.

    Besides minutes played, this is the thing I really can’t understand about the way this team is run. If your offensive system is based on a spread out offense with the big setting screens and acting as the roll man, to either score or open up a teammate for a 3pt shot, then you know what you want out of that specific screen, right? So, if you design your offense to do that, you should know how to prevent it, right? Why don’t we see improvements in that area? And this is something the team could easily improve on regardless of injuries, since they all need to be better at it.

  51. Renato Afonso April 3, 2014 at 3:20 am

    Jerke, that type of news is worrisome. It just reminded me of the power agents have in the backstage…

  52. Warren Wee Lim April 3, 2014 at 3:27 am

    Eric Pincus has been mentioning names on twitter that should not surprise most of us. I believe such a topic is worthy of a lengthy discussion that starts as early as now, as we wait and see what number of wins we end up with, and of course or projected draft position.

    Currently, after the Kings loss, the 25-50 Lakers sit at 14th in the West. We have a good 2 games “lead” on Sacramento and trailing 2 games off Utah. Currently, Utah and Boston are fighting hard for the 4th overall spot, and they are tied having identical 23-52 records.

    By the numbers:
    6.3% to land #1
    7.1% to land #2
    8.1% to land #3
    0.0% to land #4
    0.0% to land #5
    43.9% to remain at #6
    30.5% to slide to #7
    4.0% to slide to #8
    0.1% to slide to #9

    We still play the Jazz, while the Celtics are still to play the 76ers twice. These games have possibility of increasing our odds.

    Then there’s the discussion of who to pick aka ranking the prospects. A few of them have not declared yet – but using names mentioned by ESPN’s Chard Ford we have:

    Andrew Wiggins
    Jabari Parker
    Joel Embiid
    Marcus Smart
    Julius Randle
    Aaron Gordon
    Dante Exum
    Noah Vonleh
    Tyler Ennis

    These are 9 names slotted to be the top 9 picks.

  53. On the “who should we keep next year” debate: how about anyone who has gone the season without an injury!!! I don’t think I can bear to go through another year like this!!!

    GOOOOooooOOOOOOOO LAKERS !!!!!

  54. darius: here’s a early Thursday morning cold reality (wet blanket) statement by Jerry West:

    http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2014/4/2/5575250/jerry-west-thinks-the-2014-nba-draft-poor

    if so; the draft should be considered deeper as a consequence.

    Go lakers

  55. Warren,
    From your data, it looks like I would draft Dante Exum or Noah Vonleh, unless I hit the top 3 jackpot. I would take those two over Gordon or Ennis. I am not sure, but might take Exum over Smart – I seem to be a sucker for risks – but I think we need a banger too much to pass if we get a chance at Randle.

  56. Silly!

  57. Ko
    I’m the guy w 26 wins. I think we’ll finish w 26 or 27. If I’m fortunate enough to win, I’ll take red–maybe a pino noir or whatever you suggest?
    I’m in OC as well so shipping won’t be a problem! At the very least not to the Phillipines :)

    Anyone who can justify playing Robert ‘Kwame’ Sacre over Jordan Hill and Chris Kaman deserves the same symbolic fate as the current coach. We play the game to win.
    Or am I missing something?

    Implying that a reason not to play your best players is because they won’t be here next year is a moronic, self-fulfilling prophecy at best, and brings to mind the tail wagging the dog and other similar silly metaphors.

    Why did the FO pay Kaman 3 mil?
    Because he can play.
    And because we lost Dwight.

    So I believe their vision (obvioulsy!) was to start Chris and Pau together.
    If that didn’t work, then a rotation of Pau, Hill and Kaman at the 4 & 5 would. Personally, I’d start Pau and Hill, use Kaman as first big off the bench and Kelly the next.

    Kupchak’s failure to intervene or mediate with the coach on behalf of Hill and Kaman speaks either to a severe dysfunction in the FO or to an ethical principal he adheres to that allows coaches to coach, even to the detriment of the team.
    I fear it may be the former.
    In either case, losing both players in favor of retaining this coach is a tragedy, and an alarming one at that.

    I don’t think one pays an ‘insurance’ player 3 mil.
    As most posters here agree, R Kelly looks ok.
    And Sacre belongs in the D league or at the end of the bench.

    It won’t be long now. 7 more games.

    If Dantoni is retained for the next 82 I won’t be responsible for my actions.

  58. Kupchak: I think you should be playing Jordan Hill a bit more.
    Dantoni: Ok. (Shrugs, mumbles)

    Two weeks later:

    Kupchak: Why haven’t you played Chris Kaman?
    Dantoni: I thought you told me to play Hill!
    Kupchak: I did–I didn’t mean play Hill INSTEAD of Kaman. They’re both good players!
    Dantoni: So can I bench Pau?
    Kupchak: No!!
    Dantoni: I really like Robert Sacre. He deserves minutes.
    Kupchak: Who?

  59. The Caveman’s agent is Rob Pelinka–the same guy who reps Kobe, and now, Dante Exum.

  60. I think Parker is more likely to stay than Embiid is. Jahlil Okafor is going to Duke, and Parker has a said a couple of times that he wants to be on “a great Duke team.”

  61. I read Robert’s link about the Lakers “leaning” toward keeping D’Antoni. I can only shake my head. I hope they are putting in a moat and building gates around the practice facility in El Segundo.

  62. Haha T Rogers
    They’d best stock it with alligators as well.

    Can’t wait to see espn’s coach rankings Friday!

  63. I believe that Mitch does not tell MDA who to play, as it should be. They surely talk about what’s going on, but the GM isn’t going to undermine the head coach. If you don’t trust a coach to coach, then you get a new one. What I wonder is how well the FO understood what they were getting in D’Antoni. Are they learning and going to move further along the path to building the team he wants?

  64. I believe MDA was the right coach to allow young, athletic players to play enough to get a very good feel for their real value. I suspect he is more intransigent about bigs than the front office thought. There is – IMO – absolutely nothing to be gained from undermining MDA this year. At the end of the year is when the decision should be made – either way – and that is when I expect it.

  65. I think I lean towards the second approach. They hired the coach and they certainly talk about the team, but I doubt that Mitch or Jim tell him who to play or not. As it should be…

  66. Quite right. Kupchak doesn’t say, play this guy. Bench this guy.

    He does however, I hope, voice his opinion or ask questions. Why this? Or, what is your thinking about this? Any polite way you wanna phrase it.
    If the coach were playing scrubs ahead of proven veterans, naturally he’d speak up.
    Oh, wait…

    My point isn’t that the GM coaches and the coach is a puppet. Rather, I assume there must be dialogue on these matters and Kupchak’s role appears to be either in contrast with bringing on Kaman when they did and at the price they did, or that Kupchak’s ineffectively communicating w the coach (doubtful).
    Or- most likely- the sort of conversations I parodied above have occurred and Dantoni is stubborn or ignorant or both.
    I do agree that they can’t speak publicly about terminating him at end of season yet.
    I just hope they eventually “lean” the other way.

    Can we write a petition?

  67. I’m a big Jimbo critic, but even Jimbo can recognize the PR and basketball nightmare of keeping MDA on board. Despite Jimbo’s ineptitude the past few years, I still have a glimmer of hope that he can turn this disaster around……..but if he keeps MDA, all hope will be lost.

  68. JC

    My So Cal office is in Orange so you can come and pick out your winning in person!

    Winning by losing, what a concept!

  69. Warren Wee Lim April 3, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Craig, I don’t have access to information (and videos) like in the States. Like some might’ve surmised directly or indirectly, I come from a poor country. It should follow that I’m poor but I guess we’ll never know. In which case, I rely solely on scouting reports and draft videos on clips. I don’t see court demeanor and other things. Then again its too hard to predict them still even with it.

    If Parker and Embiid declare, it makes this class the 9-deep I posted. Winning top 3 obviously is an easier out, but its not guaranteed. Best to assume we’re at where we are, because odds are we will be. In short, lets act as though we’re #6 and not higher, nor lower.

    If we do end up at 6, with 1 thru 3 going as scouts/experts predicted, Parker, Wiggins and Embiid are off the board. That then leaves us with:

    Vonleh, Smart, Gordon, Exum, Ennis and Randle.

    Some people contend that Randle is better than Embiid and they might be right. So its not very hard to assume Randle and Exum are gone at 4-5 since Exum is an unknown but has been well-represented by Pelinka. Mystery is to his advantage.

    Eric Pincus picks Gordon’s size and athleticism as the ideal pick at 6 if all other assumptions hold true. My contention, is we need Vonleh.

    Noah Vonleh has the game best-suited to our needs. Even though its not advisable to draft merely according to need, when the values of players even out after the 1st-5 picks then its not bad to pick a guy you need as opposed to someone who would be buried in the bench because he’ll play behind someone who’s name is bigger.

    I pick Vonleh because I plan to let Pau go, keep Jordan Hill, retain Max Space in 2015 and find a way to keep Nick Young (he wants to be here), Xavier, Bazemore, Kelly. But that’s for April 3rd. Who knows what it’ll be in a week, or in a month when the real draft order is established.

  70. Ko
    Look forward to it
    I may just be the best loser here.
    I’ve had lots of practice.

  71. J.C….you have no idea if Kupchuk is telling D.A.who to play at this part of the season…..Also big picture is more important than meanless wins….

  72. Which top 5 draft prospects will opt out of this year’s draft? Not a one. Youthful dreams will give way to pragmatism by the time the draft rolls around. Simply put, these lads need to get paid while they can, as nothing is guaranteed for the future. That is the counsel they will get from advisers, family etc.–and they will reluctantly come to that conclusion in good time.

    Also, Jerry West’s pessimism about this year’s top prospects should be taken with a grain of salt. After all, the Warriors don’t have a shot at drafting any of them, so why talk them up? Better to kick tires and consider trading into the draft if there is an opportunity to buy low. Yes, West is known as a straight shooter; but his personal drive to succeed trumps any boy scout virtues that might be ascribed to him (e.g. see the Divac for Kobe trade).

  73. Ko,

    Bear in mind, if the Lakers make it to 29 wins, I’m THE Man! (Fat chance, eh?)

  74. Yeah, I am thinking 27 at this point–the last two. SA will almost certainly have clinched HCA by game 82.

  75. Mid

    Never know if a few teams have clinched their position they could throw out 3rd stringers.

    Lakers can beat those.

  76. Current West standings 4-9:

    HOU 49-25
    POR 49-27
    GS 46-29
    DAL PHX MEM ALL 44-31

  77. Never mind. Looks like 26 is the winner.

  78. Someone is reading my mail .

    From Laker nation
    This story got me thinking. Would fans want Derek Fisher as the next Lakers head coach should they decide to go in a different direction?

  79. Ko,

    I expect that Phil will hire Fisher in some capacity in NY–but I doubt that it will be HC. Maybe Assistant HC or Assistant GM.

    As to the question, Lakers fans might like it, but I don’t see Buss doing it. If the Lakers do fire D’Antoni, I think we will see a fairly big name replacement with HC exp.

  80. Kaman gets paid whether he plays or not. We don’t know how Kupchak feels about it. Just because fans believe the Lakers should play more Kaman and less Sacre and Kelly doesn’t oblige Mitch or anyone running things to believe it. They apparently see Sacre and Kelly as possible future pieces, and feel they’re showing enough to warrant significant playing time. They may now see Kaman as a mistake for D’Antoni’s system, but against some teams, he’s still used as a backup starter to Pau. If Kaman has a particularly good game or two, and can stay healthy enough to actually play, D’Antoni might try to ride that while it works, but is quick to go back to what he wants when it doesn’t. Kupchak may be in full agreement with this, and to be honest, I think it probably does make sense considering where a D’Antoni coached team is headed. Kaman is a good player, but really doesn’t fit the system, and hasn’t been able to stay healthy for years.

  81. Ugh the laker nepotism has to stop. No disrespect to dfish but b shaw put in some time before making the leap as did Rambis and neither of them have had much success w substantially more talent than the laker swill have overall next year. Last thing you want is a rookie coach learning on the job after you land a top draft pick who potentially may be a cornerstone to a rebuild.
    I fully understand the reasoning behind keeping MDA for next year, but I’d he’s not here I don’t see anyone aside from SVG who is qualified to step in w immediate respect.

    And before anyone brings up jason kidd making the jump from player to rookie coach, keep in mind his ass was on the way our till his veteran team stepped up, got healthy and saved his ass. Which reminds me – Lawrence frank is a quality coach who was kidds assistant before telling him he’s a joke and openly calling him out. He might be worth considering for a youthful rebuild.

  82. Considering that Denver lost Iguodala and Gallinari, that Ty Lawson has missed some time, that Masai Ujiri left, and how deep the West is, Shaw has not really had a terrible year in Denver. The context arguments that I have heard in defense of D’Antoni apply to Shaw as well.

    And complaining about “nepotism” WRT a hypothetical Fisher hire in a context that relates to the Lakers’ FO personnel makes no sense at all.

  83. Also, it is just as easy to argue that hiring a young coach and letting him grow with the team in a rebuild makes sense–like Boston has done with Brad Stevens.

    The problem with the Lakers hiring a rookie coach, if there was one, would probably be with Kobe.

  84. Feature story on ESPN Insider about Catapult Sports, which is supposedly cutting edge in injury prevention. 10 NBA teams use the company, and one of their key people is Alex McKechnie:

    “But during the 2011 lockout, the Lakers let McKechnie go as part of their organizational decision to cut payroll. Months later, McKechnie joined the Raptors to head up their training department. And now in 2013-14, the 42-32 Raptors rank as one of the biggest surprise teams in the league. Looking to explain the Raps’ unlikely rise? Start with this fact: The Raptors have suffered the NBA’s fewest missed games due to injury this season. Under McKechnie’s watch, the Raptors have lost just 46 games due to health and a total of 826 minutes, according to Insider Kevin Pelton’s injury database. That’s almost 200 fewer minutes than the next-healthiest team, the Pacers.

    The Lakers rank 29th with five times as many games lost and about eight times as many minutes. Contrast that with McKechnie’s final season in Los Angeles, where seven players played 82 games and six of them were over the age of 30 (Gasol, Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Metta World Peace, Derek Fisher and Shannon Brown).”

    ____

  85. Among the teams that work with Catapult Sports are Dallas and San Antonio…

    “My five championship rings don’t hurt,” McKechnie says. “But the players listen because we get results.”

    _______________

  86. Rr – super interesting about McKechnie-
    I remember being disappointed when Ronnie Lester (scout) was released – around the same time? (I believe.)
    I can almost understand the team’s desire to tear things down around lockout time & before rebuilding – and in so doing risking loss of some pieces that may have had more value than they realized.
    A good trainer translating to more games played by key players is huge.

  87. I think Fish would be a great idea for coach.
    Kobe’s buddy!

    But Phil will probably get him.

  88. Fish was quoted today he has no interest in NY.

  89. Mitch dont tell MDA who to play say what u will about him but im sure he would not let that happen. MDA has known for a long time this team was doomed and went to develop players and the injuries made it even easier for him. Like i said before if Pau, Kaman and Hill play more than 30 minutes it wont matter bc the team still terrible. And i seriously doubt they will fire MDA after the season. They are going to give him a shot next season but with a really short leash.

  90. Fish was quoted today he has no interest in NY.

    People are quoted saying a lot of things. Fisher may not even want to work in the league, but if he does, it is much easier for me to picture it being with the Knicks than with the Lakers as things stand now.

  91. @rr, fine, let me rephrase and say enough w the hypothetical nepotism w regards to dfish or any other former laker etc.. that some people seem to default to simply because said player played under pj and therefore should be considered for coach. Not saying that’s KO’s position – he just threw it out there. Just that if there is a chance for a real turnaround they need an experienced hand at the wheel not assume someone is a qualified candidate because he previously was a laker and was a smart player. If mda goes I don’t see anyone on this staff worth keeping and training staff needs to be examined as well. And if that’s the case you need someone who can put together a qualified staff without it degrading ala Brooklyn this year.

    And you’re right. Shaw and MDA have had similar seasons due to injuries and FO issues and decisions beyond their control – complete w veteran players questioning their competency (kaman/andre miller) – absolutely neither should be judged without context.

  92. Fern
    Leash?
    Or Noose?

  93. Lol JC. Could be a very fine distinction between the two

  94. This Popovich guy is a real clown . Using 2 bigs and slowing down his offense and going inside.

    What is he thinking?

  95. That’s a great article, whether you agree or not, very articulately nuanced.

  96. jerke:”Ugh the laker nepotism has to stop.” Agreed and I have been saying this for 3 years. Also, you had a question about my 2 year statement with regard to MD. Let me explain:
    D’Antoni Alert: The Lakers have had 24 coaches in their history. 18 of them finished with winning records. Of the 6 with losing records, 4 them had tenures that lasted less than 40 games. So either they or the Lakers realized that it wasn’t meant to be. Pfund and D’Antoni are the only two in the aforementioned dubious category. So the other 4 were not asked back for even a second year. Pfund was not asked back for a third year. And if MD comes back it will be for an unprecedented third year after an abysmal 2 year record. And since you brought playoffs : ) Pfund won 2 playoff games. MD really is unequaled in the results category.
    Fish: No chance he comes here. He is part of the Phil era. It reminds Jim too much of the shoes he is incapable of filling.
    T. Rogers/ J C: Sorry to depress you with the article. I think the 60/40 odds are about right.
    LT mitchell: So you are banking on Jim realizing he needs to get rid of MD? He might, but my bigger concern is then who he hires? He hired Mike Brown instead of Shaw. He hired MD instead of Phil. What’s next? We have a chance to hire to hire Pop and we decide to go with Vinnie Del Negro as an effort to get back at the Clippers. Firing MD is the easy part. Not making Jumbo’s nightmare Part III is the challenge.

  97. Ko seriously? The talent diference is abysmal. With the talent available it wont work neither Gasol or Kaman are really good defenders or rim protectors. Even if they were the talent sorrounding them stinks. Im just finding this debates with 7 games left to be so stupid. The season is done over. I rather focus on whats to be done with the upcoming draft and beyond instead of going on and on and on about MDA and if he should play Kaman and Gasol togheter after 75 games, i mean who the hell cares? Is this team going somewhere other than fishing? I cant wait for this team tp ne blown up to hell And JC yeah, a noose its a better description lol wish i thought of that.

  98. rr thats the best article i read in a while, it mirrors the vast mayority of my sentiments about the team now and moving fwd. Nuff’ said.

  99. Ah k, Gotcha now – thanks Robert!

  100. Glad to see BK get some ups. The KBros are underappreciated IMO.

    BK’s thing, as he says in the comments, is that he would be on board with firing D’Antoni if the Lakers went for what BK calls an “innovative” hire–and he mentions Brad Stevens as an example of such. The guy he was responding to mentions analogous possibilities: Fred Hoiberg, Kevin Ollie, David Fizdale. They don’t mention Billy Donovan, but Donovan has been talking about the NBA again lately and supposedly almost left Florida for the Orlando job a few years ago.

    BK is down on the idea of Hollins, Van Gundy, or Karl.

  101. Now Pau has that vertigo thing, ok shut him down for the sake of his career and let him walk, if he plays or not would not change this team fortunes. Shut him down.

  102. Pau is looking for his last contract. After a bounce back year (numbers-wise) he still hasn’t shown that he won’t miss games. If he’s able to play, he’s going to do it to show he ended the season on the floor instead of on IR.