Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Rockets

Daniel Rapaport —  April 8, 2014

The Lakers will look to player hate tonight when the Houston Rockets visit Staples Center at 7 p.m.

Houston comes into tonight’s game playing solidly despite missing two of five starters in Patrick Beverly, who’s recovering from a torn meniscus, and He Who Must Not Be Named (hint: #12), who has missed the past five games with a nagging ankle injury. They’ve won seven of 10 and are averaging an impressive 113.8 points during that span. Things seem to be clicking for the Rockets, who should be a legitimate contender to come out of the West if Dwight’s ankle injury doesn’t continue to be an issue, like he promises. Houston owns a two-game lead over the Blazers for the 4th position and are two games behind with Clippers with only 6 games remaining, so it appears likely that they’ll enter the playoffs as the 4th seed.

LAL, on the other hand, has lost 10 of 13 and is coming into the game fresh off a 120-97 beating by their crosstown rivals. They’ll be without Kent Bazemore, who joined the comically long list of Lakers who were hurt playing point guard this season. He’ll be out the remainder of the year with a torn peroneus longus tendon in his right foot, which requires surgery. Also missing in action tonight will be Pau, who’s still dealing with a gnarly case of vertigo, and Chris Kaman (calf). Steve Nash is questionable, as per usual, and Farmar told Mike Trudell that he’s likely to suit up and play tonight.

In short, this is a poor matchup for the Lakers. The Rockets are the second-highest scoring team in the league, while the Lakers give up the second-most points in the league and have given up the most points since the all-star break by a wide margin. If they want to have any chance to stay in the game tonight, they’ll need to keep Houston’s up-tempo offense in check. The Lakers are 2-34 when they give up more than their season average of 109 points. That number really speaks volumes; this team simply does not win shootouts.

The Lakers also must keep James Harden in check if they want to keep the game close tonight. The all-star has absolutely torched the Lakers this season, averaging 34 points in the previous two games, which were split. Remember when Steve Blake hit that game winning three right in Dwight’s face? It’s my personal favorite moment from this season in which their really hasn’t been many, but my goodness does it feel like ages ago.

A loss tonight would set the type of record no one wants. No Los Angeles Laker team has ever lost 53 games, and only one team in franchise history has matched that loss total (1957-58 Minneapolis Lakers). A few short weeks ago, Nick Young told the media that this team would fight tooth and nail to avoid that distinction. But when you’re dealing with as many injuries as the Lakers have, which is truly an unfathomable amount over the course of the season, pride really doesn’t matter. You can try all you want, but right now the Lakers have what I like to call a LOFT problem- a lack of f***ing talent. Their main scoring option tonight will be…who knows? With Pau out (and obviously Kobe), this team really has no first option, no one to look for to create his own shot when the shot-clock is winding down. Xavier Henry had shown some promise in this regard and then BOOM: he gets season ending surgery. Such has been our luck this year.

It just hasn’t been an enjoyable season. I’m looking forward to it ending.

Where you can watch: TWC SportsNet, 7:30 p.m. PST tip off

 

Daniel Rapaport

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61 responses to Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Rockets

  1. The game will be aired on TNT tonight, as well.

  2. Thx Daniel; so basically what you’re telling us if we expect to see a win, root for the team that has He Who Must Not Be Named or when we change channels from twc; maybe we get a different result on tnt? no such luck as in the multitude of injuries to the decimated laker team.

    diehards to the end; no less. i’ll be watching with fingers and toes crossed that no one else suffers a season ending injury nor I suffer a cramp in the process. I’ve been told to avoid cramping; drink a lot of water.

    here’s to water.

    Go lakers

  3. Renato Afonso April 8, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    This was depressing…

  4. Looking for more intrigue tonight: watching UConn vs ND. Absolutely no clue who’ll win.

  5. This is been depressing for a while Renato, stay strong its almost over…

  6. D’Antoni Alert: Waiting around in airports has left me with time to research some mindless stats. Team stats apply to both players and coaches, however we measure things by results and that means team performance and stats are attributable to you guessed it – MD. Let’s start with rebounding. The Lakers have an absolutely incredible, negative 7.7 rebounding differential. It is of course good for 30th in the league and the 29th team is at 5.0 ! The negative 7.7 is a hard number to achieve and it represents the lowest figure for an NBA team in the past 4 years. All of you questioning the Kaman and Hill usage may want to save this stat for the post season MD discussions. Next, we can go to opponent’s steals. We have been the victims of theft an average of a whopping 9.8 times per game this season. That again is good for 30th place. This figure has not been exceeded by an NBA team since the year 2000 ! Let’s move to Defense. The Lakers are giving up 109 PPG. Luckily for MD’s defensive reputation, the Sixers exist and they are giving up 109.9 so we are 29th in the league. However, the Lakers 109 figure is the 4th worst this century !. Only this years Sixers and 2 Warriors teams coached by Don Nelson exceed that figure. When you are competing with Don Nelson in this category, you have really accomplished something. So – that is Defense, turnovers, and rebounding. Not what I would call a smart, hustling, well coached team. Enough with the minor stuff – let’s move on to more important matters. The Lakers equaled their franchise record (67 years of history) for single season losses with their 52nd loss last game. We have 5 games to break that record ! This will be the 6th time in history we have not made the playoffs and the first time in history that we have not won a playoff game in 2 years. The Lakers will have to win their last 5 games just to achieve 30 wins – their lowest total since being in Minneapolis and the league played 75 games then !. To put this further in perspective, the Lakers won 41 games in the strike shortened 2012 season (66 games total) and 31 games in the strike shortened 1999 season (50 games total). Not impressed? Neither was the FO as both coaches were summarily dismissed after those seasons. As you know from previous Alerts, MD has already moved by Randy Pfund’s loss total. However the Lakers would need to win their last 5 in order for MD to avoid recording an all time lower percentage than Pfund with the Lakers. Pfund was 66-80 for a 452 clip, while MD is currently 65-84 for a 436 clip. He needs all 5 games to get above Pfund’s percentage. I wish MD luck. And “May the odds be ever in his favor”. Unlike the movie, “The reaping” for NBA coaches does not mark the beginning of the games, but rather takes place after the games.

  7. Hello all:

    I’ve been offered a ticket upgrade for tonight by a kind friend. Anyone who wants to go to the game: I am willing to sell my pair of tix for half-price, namely $93 for the PAIR. Sec 205 row 2. First person to email me at kb9kb9kb9@aol.com gets them.

    A chance to complain in a new environment, with like-minded friends, with beer….

  8. Nash apparently playing (not starting). 4 assists behind Mark Jackson (hand down, man down!) for 3rd on the all time list.

    Nick Young apparently playing (not starting). Two ridiculous ‘made three pointer’ hand gestures behind JR Smith for first on all time list.

    Kendall Marshall apparently playing (starting). Six complaints from Ko from 2nd on the all time list (Aaron/Derek Fisher).

    Marshon Brooks apparently playing. Five games away from being the 3rd or 4th best player on whatever D-League team he plays for next year.

  9. While my support for MDA has waned as the year has gone along, I really have to say that the injury situation this year has made anything that was possible at the beginning of the year a total joke. One game was finished with 5 players – one of whom had fouled out. Several games were played with 7, 8, or 9 players on the bench at the end of the game. For an NBA team this situation is simply ridiculous.

    Accepting that we weren’t the deepest team of 1st string players this year, the fact that we were forced to work with D-League players starting because of injury makes any analysis of chemistry or defense simply laughable.

    It is near the end now and – IMO – MDA will go by the wayside at the end of the year. Even so, this shouldn’t write a final chapter in his coaching career. Not only the player situation, but the injury status makes any fair evaluation impossible.

  10. Lakers are 2-34 when they surrender 109 points or more. So they don’t win shootouts.

    That’s a huge indictment of the Dantoni system.

    His approach to the game is predicated on doing precisely that. ‘We don’t play D, but we try to out-score them!’

    This sort of stat — 2-34 —- is exactly why the Dantoni ‘system’ is an insult to anyone who knows the game. Obviously they would have had more success slowing the game down like Thibideau does.

    As far as injuries go, whoever is left on the court should give you effort on the defensive end regardless of talent, skill level or athleticism.

    If I sound grumpy, let me go on record by saying that I attended two games last week!
    Vs Portland & Dallas. (Both losses. Duh)

    I still bleed purple and gold.

  11. tix available until 7p (I need to hear from you by then). can leave at will call. after 7, will sell them on the street in front of staples.

  12. The injuries are not all bad luck. The training staff can have a huge impact on reducing injuries and getting players back on the court. Firing Alex McKechnie was a colossal blunder. He is now Director of Sports Science for the Raptors and the Lakers are a much lesser team for making him go away.

  13. If you want to blame the injuries on changes in the workout staff, or the scouting staff, fine. But the situation is – IMO – never as simple as one single solution. Life is a complex interaction of actions and reactions. They all impact what happens. The Lakers were simply due for some down years – it happens to all franchises. I won’t say the new ownership is blameless in all this, but I don’t think we can blame everything on a single cause. The real test is how do we dig out of this mess. We are in a better position than a number of other franchises. I suspect we can take full advantage of this fact and will be competing sooner than many on this blog are willing to admit – like they think never!

    I believe the front office can draft well and sign the necessary free agents. This doesn’t mean we will be back next year, but we will be making progress. Perhaps that will also encompass some changes to the training staff. Anyway, I think next year will be better than this year.

    Go Lakers!

  14. Lil pau … if only I lived in LA

    Here here JC … great stat and statement

  15. Steve Nash is now #3 in all-time assists. Congratulations to Mr, Nash.

  16. Good to hear about Nash. Should have happened last season unfortunately

  17. Kendall Marshall apparently playing (starting). Six complaints from Ko from 2nd on the all time list (Aaron/Derek Fisher). [lil pau]
    __________________________

    That. Is pretty funny.

  18. Great great moment for Steve.
    One of the year’s few highlights.
    Nice to see him get the ovation from the home crowd.

  19. Don

    I do not find that funny at all . I already am losing here in Vegas and now I am being laughed at!

    Just kidding it was funny lil Pau. Wonder what will your name be next year. Big Sac ?

  20. 7th time this year the Lakers have allowed 100+ points before the 4th quarter per Basketball Reference.

  21. Warren Wee Lim April 8, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    What are the odds that Steve Nash assumes an assistant coach role next year?

  22. Google Alex McKechnie and see what he has accomplished for the Lakers and players for other teams. When Phil left for New York he said one of things he wanted to look into was how to prevent injuries to players. There is science behind injury prevention and optimizing the kind of workouts players need. The Lakers were out in front on this with McKechnie and now it would appear that they are chasing the pack. As much as I like what Vitti has done, he does not have the same skill set when it comes to getting players into proper condition.

  23. We are in a better position than a number of other franchises.

    Not really, actually, at least not in the West. The Lakers probably have the worst roster/asset situation in the conference, with the possible exceptions of Denver and Sacramento. And no one that I have seen has either blamed this on a single cause or said the Lakers will never compete again.

    http://espn.go.com/los-angeles/nba/story/_/id/10753551/los-angeles-lakers-renew-gm-mitch-kupchak-deal

    Kupchak has supposedly gotten a contract extension.

  24. lil Pau-I almost forgot how Aaron used to rip old Fish.

    Funny Ko, funny!

    Is it just me or does this coach look like someone removed the Rock of Gibraltar off his shoulders?

  25. I was the one who brought in the McKechnie stuff, so I will address it. Here is what we know:

    1. Phil and Shaq really respect him.
    2. Phil and Shaq are Lakers heroes but both are guys who use the media to further agendas.
    3. McKechnie was one of the people connected to the training staff let go by the Lakers in 2011.
    4. He was signed by the Raptors.
    5. He is connected to Catapult Sports, which is supposedly very cutting edge in injury prevention and works with 10 NBA teams, including Dallas and San Antonio. Both Dallas and San Antonio, particularly San Antonio, are considered to be very good organizations and both have some older players.
    6. Since he joined Toronto, they mostly have a very good collective health record.
    7. Since he left the Lakers, they mostly have a very bad collective health record.
    8. The article about it that appeared on ESPN was slanted in tone but fact-based.

  26. Well look on the bright side people. Houston didn’t get to 150. Worst defense ever. Kupchak should have fired Pringles right there in the tunnel!!

  27. Lakers have given up 130+ in regulation 7 times since the all star break.

  28. Link to Kupchak interview:

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/lakers/2014/04/09/mitch-kupchak-contract-extension-los-angeles-jim-buss/7496069/

    Q: Will (Kobe) factor in on the decision about Mike?

    A: We will not consult with him. No, we won’t consult with him.

    Q: So how’s Kobe going to handle (probably not competing for a championship)?

    A: He’ll be fine. He’s got no choice. He’ll be fine. When we lose, he’ll rant and rave and be upset and be hot and won’t talk to anybody, but that’s the way it is. You’ve got to take the good with the bad.

  29. One more Kupchak quote:

    .”…you know, by and large I think our fans have been pretty good…I don’t think — other than those few people who get really emotional, that one person who calls the postgame show every day for like three weeks — I don’t think it’s a thousand people. I think it’s the same two or three people. ”

    ” I never thought we’d win 60 games. I’m thinking we could get into the 40s, get into the playoffs.”

  30. Great now Mitch is talking about me.

  31. Lil Pau, hilarious post re: Ko, Marshon, etc.

  32. Warren Wee Lim April 9, 2014 at 3:29 am

    Q: So that being said, Mitch, what’s your outlook? Is it a situation where you have that experience from the past and you’ll apply it here and move forward with confidence that this too shall pass, or where is your head at?

    A: I’m confident that over time, that we’re going to be able to assemble a team that’s competitive, fun to watch. The advantages that this franchise and this city have always had remain, which is our fan base, it’s a great city, players like playing here, there are a lot of diverse components of this city that attract players. The organization itself, its legacy. So those things don’t change. Now the collective bargaining agreement changed considerably (after the 2011 lockout) the playing field. That’s just the way the owners wanted it, and as a manager all we’ve ever said is just give us the rules and we’ll play with the rules. But for example, when we signed Shaquille O’Neal (in 1996), Orlando made an offer and we topped it, and then Orlando topped it, and then we traded two players and got more cap room and then we topped it. They could have topped our offer and they chose not to.

    So it could have kept going back and forth because there was no max salary, and there was no home-team advantage — 7½ percent (annual) raises versus four (percent), a five-year deal versus a four-year deal, those rules didn’t exist (the current CBA gives the incumbent team this edge). So the playing field is considerably different. But having said all that, our advantages remain the same. And considering where a lot of teams have ended up in this kind of position, we have a lot of flexibility going forward. We don’t have a lot of players that are good players but not great players who are on long-term deals. Those kinds of contracts can sometimes bury an organization for four or five years. Going forward it’s pretty clean, so it’s up to us to use that money wisely. We are going to have a good (draft) pick this year, so those are the advantages that we have. The short answer is that yes, I’m hoping to be very competitive in a year or two, but the key really is over time.

  33. Nice to see Mitch directly address the elephant in the room (and I’m not talking about Ko, although that is pretty awesome). I’ve wondered all season, but especially after the extension, how Kobe was going to co-exist with another re-building year. It will definitely be a tense situation. How does MD stay for that? And if Pau is gone as well and Nash can rarely play? Kobe and a first round pick and MD and ???

    I find it hard to believe that Kobe is just interested in personal stats, although I fully recognize a lot of folks out there do believe that and will use the contract as evidence. I guess more fireworks to come next season. To use a somewhat disparaged phrase from earlier this year — should be interesting.

  34. “In Mitch i trust” glad he said that they had a plan but he wasnt going to share it with the press. I never understood people demanding a plan and guessing that the Lakers didnt had a plan talk about entitlement. I always said that the FO talking and babbling about any plan they have would be beyond stupid, “yeah lets spill the beans on our plans so every other FO in the league knows what were up to” like he said there are a bunch of variables still in the air so whatever plan they have is not set in stone. Mitch is a realist and he said that it might take a while to rebuilt, i rather hear that thing you know ” the truth” than pipe dreams like the stupidity about Lebron coming to the Lakers because Calipari a coach that flame out on his prior NBA stint would coach. Thats the stupidest rumor i have heard in a while.

  35. http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/the-distribution-of-fandom-in-pro-leagues/

    Check this out …. shows how the lakers are 2X more popular than the heat and generate roughly half the interest in the NBA

    Looks like they are keeping MDA based on the quote … im thinking they are hoping to get exum and have damtoni try amd mold him to become an all offense no defense montrosity

  36. Very interesting Shaun. Whenever the Heat go back to irrelevancy their popularity will plummet. Its in the middle of this dynasty and they dont sell out every game. The Lakers are irrelevant right now and still rule the NBA and its not even close. This made my day. :)

  37. if anyone believes everything that comes out of kupchak’s mouth, well…

    i love kupchak, but he knows that this franchise has fallen off and there’s not a hint of hope right now it’s going to make it back to a respectable position before kobe retires.

    The tumble down from the top is a lot faster than the climb up. A new coach and lots of new players will be needed. It takes time and patience to get on the same page. And direction from the FO – please stay away Jim Buss!

    There’s none of that right now. Kobe is going to be a really unhappy dude for 2 years – if he lasts that long. To me, he seems like a guy who would retire out of frustration that the Lakers are simply not contenders rather than play out his contract.

  38. Double shout out to Ko:

    The Kupchak citation.

    And also this:

    Wonder what will your name be next year. Big Sac ?

    awesome.

  39. Trianglefan, as much as Kobe likes to win, he want those 48 million dollars more. And Mitch happens to be one of the best if not the best gm in the league not said by me but his peers. Saying that there is not a hint of hope? well i dont understand that, i would if we have most of this players locked in long term deals, they are not, we are going to get a high draft pick on a suposedly stacked draft. The team is lining its ducks in a row for 2015 which should be Kobe’s final season, coincidence? I dont think so. We are going to have a ton of capspace for the 1st time in i dont even remember. The truth is that the Lakers wont be contenders next season. Mitch is been saying it for a while that the rebuilt will take more than a year, i hope it takes 2 but im prepared for the possibility it could take longer. This season went to hell bc of injuries, with a healthy team this team would had been not a contender but a fringe playoff team. Injuries happened and thats that. No hope smh. Btw Ko outdid himself lol

  40. Mitch sounds like Calvin from Calvin and Hobbs – keep expectations as low as possible to prevent people from getting disappointed in you.
    Good try Mitch, but that won’t work with Laker fans.

    At least he acknowledged that the Lakers still have major advantages over every other team, although he failed to include the biggest advantage of all, the extra $200 million a year from the tv deal……but even with all these advantages, along with cap space and a lottery pick, Mitch is still trying to distance himself from the expectations of putting a contending team together next season. Again, good try Mitch.

    So Jim Buss apologized for not consulting Kobe regarding Mike Brown’s hire, and now Mitch is saying Kobe won’t be consulted for the next coaching decision. This front office sure learns from their mistakes.

    Mitch basically said scr*w you to Kobe’s request to be consulted in major decisions. He also said sc*ew you to Kobe’s demand for a contending team next season. Jeannie tried to convince us that everything was just fine and dandy between her and Jimbo. She might have to do another press conference soon to try to convince us that everything is fine between Kobe and Jimbo as well. The toxic atmosphere surrounding this team just went up another level.

  41. I liked reading that Kupchak said, Kobe “doesn’t have a choice.”
    Meaning, Kobe should just let us run things and enjoy his $$.

    I doubt Kobe would consider retiring out of frustration during this contract because there’s too much money involved. Next year will be rough, but by the following season we’ll probably have some new pieces and a new coach.

    I think it’s more likely that Kobe at age 38, or whatever he will be by the time his contract ends, that he begs to stay another year or two – if he’s healthy – and makes a show of taking a greatly reduced salary, because by then (2016) it’s conceivable we could be contenders again.

  42. Anyone see the movie Captain Phillips?
    Tom Hanks. Great movie.

    The half-crazy, half genius Somalian hijacks the ship and tells Hanks, “I’m the Captain now.”

    I keep picturing Kobe bursting into Jim Buss’ office and attempting a similar coup.

  43. Warren Wee Lim April 9, 2014 at 10:40 am

    Is it hard to see that if I owned the Lakers, I will not be ran by my MVP employee? Mitch Kupchak is being a GM. Doesn’t mean he doesn’t talk to Kobe and consult using other people like Pelinka, etc. The point is that no one man should be bigger than the organization. Its a subliminal message he delivered to Kobe in response to Kobe’s impatient message.

  44. I think it’s worth considering that Mitch is protecting Kobe– that Kobe of course has a huge say in all coaching matters but Mitch is willing to take the heat so that Kobe doesn’t look like a coach killer (remember laker fans booing Magic re: Westhead?).

    The Lakers made the decision to give Kobe half their cap space; I find it impossible to believe they would head in a direction without his approval

  45. Kobe needs to be informed, not consulted.Mitch keeping expectations “low” lol, like we are going to be contenders next season maybe not even the next. I call that the truth. I guess people wants to hear ” wait until next season after we get Lebron, Melo and every other player under the sun and win another championship and the next 5 more with our 300 million payroll”. Team building takes time and the Lakers market and tradition will make the rebuilt shorter than any other team. But its still going to take time. That its going to take more than a year and his comments about Kobe are the truth and i have no problem with them at all. They have Kobe under lock stock and barrel and he is untradeable with that contract. He can grumble he can complain but he is not going anywhere. My guess is that their are going all out on 2015 to try to sent him him off to the sunset with a championship. At least it looks that way to me.

  46. Mitch might be laying down the law in regards to Kobe, but I find that less likely given Kupchak’s history. I find it more likely that Kupchak is setting up protection in advance for Kobe when MDA is fired, as fern pointed out above.

    Kupchak has an excellent temperament, and by and large has succeeded in league trades. He has had more misses in free agency, and his draft record has been mixed but also hampered by draft position. This upcoming pick – arguably the first big one with a very different scouting staff – will have long-term implications for Kupchak’s public value.

  47. lil pau,

    Good thought. I would add that if that is NOT true, IMO Kobe will Tweet something firing back. True enough that Kobe has “no choice”–but that goes both ways. The Lakers are as tied to him as he is to them now.

    But OTOH ISTM that Mitch could have just given his more common, non-committal vanilla answers to those questions–”Kobe is of course a huge part of the Lakers and we value his opinions, but Jim will make the decision based on what is best for the Lakers” and “Kobe’s competitiveness will always be asset no matter what” etc. etc. etc. The text bytes out there seem to be mildly, but pointlessly, confrontational.

  48. Snoopy,

    Good post (but it was lil pau who made the point you ref’d).

    I have said that IMO this will be the most important draft pick that the Lakers have made since 1980.

  49. I find it hilarious that there are comments out about how Kobe approves everything and there are comments about the organization not talking to Kobe about anything. The comments are so skewed that the organization must be doing something right.

    The only thing I can say about the last two years is that injuries have been so horrific that no plan – other than to look at possible role players – has been practical. What that also says, is that the front office has to be looking at our training methods and what changes can go on there. That doesn’t mean Gary Vitti will leave, but it does mean we may try some new – or older – things next year.

  50. Great points from lil pau and Snoopy.

    I tend to agree that Mitch might be protecting Kobe here. I wouldn’t be surprised either way- if MDA is fired or if they bring him back for another season. Part of me thinks that firing him is absolutely the right move, but then a (much) smaller part thinks that he hasn’t been given a fair shot with the amount of injuries that this team has suffered under him. The bottom line, for me, is that it seems like most of the star players have not liked playing under him as the Lakers head coach. Dwight left giving not having Phil as one of the reasons. Kobe is grumbling. Pau has been quite outspoken. And while Hill and Kaman aren’t “stars” per se…they are two of our better players who are probably going to leave because of MDA. The only player, of any consequence, that seems to like MDA is Nash- and he may only play 15-20 games for us next year.

  51. kobe doesn’t need the money. he wants rings. he’ll go back to europe and collect a few titles there before he’ll go through another year like this.

    Unless kobe sticks around longer than 2 years, it’s not going to be easy to get back to a respectable position. It’s going to be really, really hard.

    Better find a massage therapist. I see a lot of neck pain in the future.

  52. darius: kudos to the buss family for extending the contract of gm mitch kupchak. would have been hard enough to keep one lame duck in a row; priorities in tact; good job.

    with the away game next Monday at Utah, can’t really see lakers winning any of the four remaining games this season unless san antonio decides to go with their third string in the season finale which would make for an interesting match up.

    Go lakers

  53. I think Kupchak is being as truthful as he can be. He’s not going to say, “we’re desperate to make moves for next season,” for Kobe or whatever, because that doesn’t put them in a good bargaining position if they’re looking. Of course, putting together a contender isn’t going to happen overnight, but that doesn’t necessarily mean next season is just about going through the motions waiting for a superstar to magically make everything wonderful. This team needs a lot of work, and they’d best get to it.

    They asked Mitch if he’s confident. What’s he going to say? No, I’m just here to collect my money? Will players want to come here? He’d hope. He’s telling the truth about it being a different playing field now. So optimists will cite past Laker glory. Pessimists will point out the state of things lately. What do you think of how the team’s been run the last several years? How much patience is there for another losing season? All anyone can do is just wait and see what the new Lakers, now at the bottom, can do, in a new world, to rise to the top.

    Personally, I could enjoy it no matter what if the team plays the right way. This year, that hasn’t been the case. Forget the injuries; forget the talent. To my eyes, they’re not putting a game on the floor worthy of the NBA.

  54. rr – Thanks for the catch, it was indeed lil pau who made that point.

    I remain slightly confused as to the delegation of responsibility within a team’s training staff. How did McKechnie’s responsibilities differ from Vitti’s? It sounds like McKechnie – with a physical therapy background – played a role in prevention of injury and core strengthening techniques. Does that mean that Vitti, by contrast, treats injuries rather than focusing on prevention? If so, then what role does the team’s actual doctor play, and how is Vitti’s role separate from that of a physician? Is an MD/DO only consulted when a surgical intervention is a possibility? Don’t sports teams employ non-surgeon physicians? (I should point out the team also consists of Judy Seto – who may be Kobe’s personal physical therapist instead of the team’s, I can’t remember – and likely others).

    I find the delineation of roles confusing, likely because there is heavy overlap. (Sports medicine is a field practiced by physicians, physical therapists, those with degrees in kinesiology, among others). If McKechnie was fired, was the remaining staff left to fill the void, or do we have someone similar in that capacity now?

  55. the other Stephen April 9, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    Re: Snoopy, RR, and the gravity of Mitch’s pick.

    Look, if you had one shot, one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted, one moment, would you capture it, or just let it slip? Yo.

  56. Well said, rfen.

  57. KenOak,

    Brian Kamenetzky, who doesn’t favor firing D’Antoni, pointed out that in many ways, D’Antoni has not had a fair shot, as you imply. But BK added that the issue is not fairness; the issue is what is best for the organization. FWIW, my personal POV is that as long MDA is paid what he is owed contractually, that is as fair as they need to be with him. So, my questions about firing or retaining MDA remain the same:

    1. Does the FO believe that MDA will be a net plus, a net negative, or a net neutral in FA recruitment and working with the pick?
    2. If they fire him, who do they plan to hire, will that guy probably take the job, and do they believe that that guy will be a net plus, a net negative, or a net neutral in FA recruitment and working with the pick?
    3. Does Kobe want to play for D’Antoni, or not? It is easy enough to say, “He has no choice” etc. etc. etc. but in practice, given the money the Lakers have contracted to pay KB, and given the fact it is a two-year commitment, it would be a good idea to have KB on board with the coach as much as possible.

  58. Snoopy,

    Good questions, and of course I don’t know the answers. The thesis of the ESPN article was that

    1. Injury prevention, as opposed to yet also in conjunction with treatment, is a rapidly developing field and is cutting edge in sports science.
    2. McKechnie is a top guy in that area.
    3. The Lakers let him go, and as noted, have had major injury issues since, while McKechnie’s new team, as well as SA, DAL, and some other teams using these methods, have had good team health records.

  59. Embiid declared today; he will be in the draft.

  60. rr
    Simple questions with fairly simple answers IMO.
    1. I would claim that since MDA has won zero titles and players “serious” about winning will notice that defense is just as important as offense, when it comes to winning titles… he’s a net negative.
    2. This is the most difficult question to answer. Who can they hire? Who would current players- including Kobe- respect? Who would attract free agents? I would claim that it needs to be a college coach. A fresh face that fans and players will give a chance. Coach K?
    3. Kobe doesn’t want to play for MDA.

  61. I hereby declare today April 9 to be day 1 of
    The Dantoni Countdown.

    Rfen said it very well.
    And IMO the way the team is underperforming, regardless of injury, is an embarrassment.

    I’d use the phrase Dantoni Deathwatch for its alliteration but that may sound a bit harsh. I don’t wish the guy ill by any stretch.

    Seems like the Lakers could always use him as a scout or in some capacity other than coaching if he’s replaced, to avoid “paying him to sit at home.”
    I believe Rudy T currently fills some similar role within the org.