Wednesday Storylines

Darius Soriano —  April 9, 2014

It is almost over now. This season of injuries, losses, records of the wrong kind being broken, and, mostly, failure. That can sound harsh, but it isn’t meant to be.

This season started under the guise of hopes just to make the playoffs. Internally and in issuing sound bites, key figures spoke in the same grand terms they typically have — “contention” and “championship” were words tossed out as the goal, but we all really did know better. This team was built with cast-offs and rentals and asked to be a team. And for the first part of the season, they were that. But then it started to fall apart similar to the bodies of the players. Nerve roots and knee caps, hamstrings and groins, strains and fractures.

And through all that there was a coach searching for…something. A lineup that worked. A power forward to stretch the floor. A big man who played well on both sides of the ball. Rotations changed. One day you were in, the next you were out, and a week later you were back in.

It’s been 78 games of this, but it is almost over now.

Where the team goes is the question on everyone’s mind. Kobe has his contract extension, but has no team to surround him at this point. The Lakers will have some dough to spend, but last I checked cap space has never grabbed a rebound or hit the open man in stride for an easy bucket. That money must be used wisely and, probably not all on one player. After all, the Lakers aren’t one guy away. After all, even a prime Kobe and Shaq needed other dudes to help them get those rings.

Speaking of building a team, Mitch Kupchak is pretty good at that. In fact, he’s been so good and is so trusted the Lakers extended his contract. Next season was to Mitch’s last under his current deal, but the Lakers rectified that last night.

Last night Mitch, maybe after signing that deal, sat down with USA Today’s Sam Amick and spoke openly and honestly about the path ahead. He didn’t “give away his plan” but acknowledged the team has a lot of work to do and said he is not sure if it will be one, two, or even three years to get to where they want to be. He also said many other insightful things, so click away on the link.

One of the questions he answered was about Mike D’Antoni’s status for next season. Kupchak stated that no decision has been made to this point. However, Dave McMenamin is reporting that the Lakers are “leaning” towards not retaining their embattled head coach. This only a week after Kevin Ding said the opposite. If all of this makes your head spin, well, welcome to the club.

If the Lakers do make a change at coach, one writer thinks they should target UCONN head coach Kevin Ollie — and he thought that even before the Final Four.

Is Pau Gasol done for the year? It sounds like it. Is Steve Nash? It sounds like it too.

Another player who is out for the year is Kent Bazemore. The 2nd year pro tore a tendon in his foot and will soon have surgery. This, though, is just one more obstacle for him to overcome in what has been quite the journey to get to the NBA.

Much like Bazemore’s journey, the Lakers have an arduous path ahead. Building a winner takes time, it takes talent, and it takes a fair amount of luck. It takes a coach and a front office all on the same page. And even when all those things happen, a team still might not win it all. For all that the Thunder have done to build their contender, they still have yet to actually win it all. Their accomplishments have been many and should not be diminished in any way. But this is your gentle reminder that winning is hard and even the most prepared team with a boatload of talent may not break through.

The Lakers, actually, know this better than most. Because while fans love to talk about the 16 banners and the hall of famers, there are also the 15 defeats in the Finals. They have been oh-so-close more times than most teams could ever dream of and have felt the heartbreak that comes with it too. In a way, then, it’s good to remember the feeling you have now watching this team lose 50+ games. Because just as the team has broken through before, when you have been down in the dumps feeling awful, the turnaround is that much sweeter. Even if it does take years.

Darius Soriano

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  1. My dream: Coach Van Exel!! (With assistants Eddie Jones, and a grizzled Del Harris, in the Tex Winter role)


  2. Kupchak: Glad he was retained. Can we change his title to President of Basketball Operations?
    Re-Build: To be the master of the obvious – in the NBA – talent wins. Not too many would dispute this, however, there are different degrees of interpretation. Students of the game like to look beyond the superstars and try to armchair GM their way to diamonds in the rough in both the draft and FA. While this possible, it will not be the foundation of a title. It will merely get you parts to accompany your 1-2 superstars (maybe even 3 in today’s game). No I am not just looking at the Heat. In fact during the last 34 years (the beginning of the Magic/Bird era), I would say that the championship team had one of the top 3 players in the league, on the team. Here is a quick ring list during the period: MJ 6, KB 5, Magic/KAJ 5, Shaq 4, Duncan 4, Bird 3, Hakeem 2, LBJ 2, Moses/Dr J 1. Most of these guys were the indisputable best player in the league, and if not – they were in the top 3. This accounts for 29 rings. The 5 that were not in that category were the 08 Celtics, the 11 Mavs, and 3 Pistons teams. So I have said it before – Moneyball does not exist in the NBA. If we are spending a lot of time talking about Ryan Kelly, we are light years away from a title. Our entire focus should be on targeting/retaining, franchise players. We have been spoiled, that we have had Kobe, Shaq, Magic, KAJ, Wilt, West, Baylor, and Mikan. Literally the best in the game at their times. We have never even been in the Finals when we did not have player like that. So everything we do needs to move us closer to getting such a player. What increases our odds is debatable: some want to tank, others want to keep our money available until 15, however whatever we do, we must land the franchise guy. We have a lotto ticket to do that in the draft, but even more important than the pick, is making ourselves attractive for a possible blockbuster FA. If history repeats, almost all of the rings are going to go to the team that has LBJ, KD, or someone who is going to rise to that level. A team of AC Greens (I like that reference Fern) and bench mob type guys will not cut it. I am not even sure Kevin Love will either. He is more like in the Worthy/Bosh type category. He will most likely need the LBJ or Magic to win the title. Very tough hole to get out of.


  3. Robert
    That’s really insightful

    And u could prob even add Dirk for the 11 Mavs
    And Isaiah for the Pistons
    Which further supports your theory

    Agree about KLove but I think he could still evolve
    into that sort. Or as an equal contributor such as the 08 Celtics had w their big 3

    Unfortunately if your theory is true then big game hunting is what we need to stick with.
    I think Lakers also know – this is the only way.


  4. With that said what’s the realistic and likely scenario of any big game/talent coming anytime soon-like before Kobe has to hang his crazy boxers sneakers (he was never gonna wear those!)


  5. I hit publish before finishing my thoughts(much like our season has been lol)
    Everyone seems set on the idea the top three picks on the draft are going Bucks Philly Magic in some kinda order.I’ve never watched and or followed a draft (beyond mycareer on 2ksport). So my draft knowhow is hopeful at best. Is there a chance the Kobesque talent we desperately need can fall on our laps in this draft? Can we still get a gem with our projected 6-10th pick? Kobe did go for like 17th or something(don’t know for sure). Appreciate any insights 😉


  6. Darius, indeed it is almost over.

    Robert, you only have a few more games to post your ‘this coach’ alert! Your last two posts were excellent, informative, and thought provoking.


  7. Robert, this is a great post, but it underscores another problem, a paradox of sorts– it’s not enough to get a star, one has to get them in the right way (without giving up the store to get him). The Knicks thought they were getting a franchise player in Melo, but gave away the rest of their team and their future flexibility to get him (and I know its debatable whether he deserved to be considered in that top canon anyway).

    Let’s say the Lakers could get Love this summer, but it will cost them their draft pick and also some cap flexibility (they’ll have to take back some bad contracts). Do you do it? That’s getting a star, but at a significant cost. What if you think there’s a 60 percent chance you’ll get him ‘for free’ next year in FA? What if it’s only a 25% chance? The CBA incentivizes building from within on rookie deals, the Lakers have one big chit to play with and how to play it is far from clear.

    You are right that it takes an MVP level #1 player, but it also takes very strong 2-7 as well. fwiw, I agree with J C that Dirk was at that level (at least in those playoffs when he went Supernova), which leaves the Pistons as really the only modern exception. (And damn it, we would have beaten them with a healthy team, I know it!)


  8. Robert,

    Indeed–and Chris Paul and Dwight Howard were as close as the Lakers could get to that kind of combo of top talent without crashing to the high end of the lottery before Kobe retired. So, it is more like a crater than a hole.

    The next shot? Get an All-Star caliber guy in the draft who develops quickly, and then add Love to him. That is not Magic and Kareem, but it moves the needle.


  9. Of course we would have beaten Detroit if we were healthy in 04… I tell myself that all the time, lol


  10. Having a superstar is important to winning a title, but it’s still only one piece of the puzzle—a big piece, but you can’t neglect other factors. First, a coach. How many titles did the Bulls and Jordan win without Phil? Or Kobe and Shaq? The Celtics have always been very well coached. Lebron didn’t win anything until he got with the right management and team. Magic had a top coach and great cast of characters for Showtime. The Spurs have won because of coaching and team play. Some players may have been superstars but were never on a championship team, or very rarely on one.

    The Lakers are not assured of attracting a top 3 player in the next several years, so the question is whether they should therefore just park it in neutral waiting for it to happen, and possibly lose more mystique and credibility along the way. And no matter what, they are not going to have the only superstar in the league. They have to have a better team. They have lots of work to do to build a solid foundation, and putting too much focus on any one thing is not what I’d consider a formula for success.


  11. “but acknowledged the team has a lot of work to do and said he is not sure if it will be one, two, or even three years to get to where they want to be.”

    They’d need to snag Lebron or Durant for any of that to be correct. I mean, Wiggins et al might end up all that, but it won’t be right away (no NBA ready Magic or Bird in this draft).

    Next, for the WTF moment of the interview, was and is the part about how the team still has the same advantages as in the days of yore, even though Mitch immediately prior spoke to all those things that weren’t in effect then, to include the max salary limit, the max contract length, etc. Quite simply, to address a comment made in the game thread, the team can have the best cable deal ever, but a 65 mil CAP is just that, a 65 mil CAP, and so the billions in cable dollars don’t really translate into team success. In other words, precisely owing to the CAP, the Lakers simply cannot do what the Dodgers are doing.

    Lastly, and by the way, the Lakers would be worst in the West and tied with Orlando for 3rd worst overall, if they had only gone 0-2 versus the Celts instead of 2-0. If the Celts wind up with some franchise stud owing to superior draft position, some of you will never hear the end of it from me. Remember, lads, titles. And not wins against the Celts in a meaningless season.


  12. Since this draft very likely does not contain a franchise #1 player who will develop to be a top 5 player in the league, should we be putting so much in to who we are going to draft. I agree it is important, but we are probably going to have to sign an existing talent, rather than get lucky inthe draft. So far we have drafted only Magic since West & Baylor. All the others were trades of some kind. Magic was #1 and West would have been if Oscar hadn’t been there.

    My guess is that Mitch and company are way ahead of us on this score.


  13. Mart – the short answer is, sure, (almost) anything is possible.

    BTW, Kobe was picked 13th; the Lakers traded their starting center for the rights to him.

    West made the deal. I’ve read several versions of how it went, but here’s my favorite. Pre draft, Kobe was brought in for a try out against the retired but still much stronger and in great shape Michael Cooper. Kobe destroyed him, and after about 10 minutes West said in essence, ‘I’ve seen enough. he’s better than anybody we have on the team right now.’

    Leaving aside the possibility of a super sleeper out there, what draft pick do you think the Laker’s starting center would bring? Besides, I’m pretty sure Sacre is untouchable :0)


  14. Robert, I completely agree with your assessment of Kevin Love. Don’t see him leading a team to a title as the #1 scoring option. Unless one believes he’s heads & tails better than Pau Gasol in his prime…and I don’t believe he is. For those with short memories, as the main guy, Gasol was able to lead to Grizz teams to the post season three (3) times, yet never led them to one (1) victory. Getting swept 3 times, going 0-12. However as the 2nd banana to a superior player, Gasol went to 3 finals, winning back to back titles.

    To this date, Love hasn’t even reached the playoffs as numero uno.

    That’s the formula I see Love using to win titles. The 2nd guy to a superior talent…unless of course you believe he’s that much better than Pau in his prime.


  15. Yes Darius is almost over thank God. Great comment Robert and ty for the mention, what i mean with AC Green is to temper our expectations on the draft, if we get a Mr Green type player that would be great, a step in the right direction but obviously we will need more, a lot more. I really doubt we are going to get the next Franchise player on this draft but i wish we would.


  16. C Hearn: Thanks – Glad you saw the “Alert” in the last thread. It was in purgatory for a while so I wasn’t sure if anyone saw it. I like your “this coach” thing. It implies that the name is a variable : )
    J C/lil pau: Appreciate your comments. Like I said – I am the master of the obvious. Not sure what to do about it – that is rr’s job : )
    rr: “moves the needle”: We want to make sure it is moving the needle closer to the super star and titles, not just toward a few more wins (and yes – those could be the same).
    Fern: Agreed. The pick would be a success if we get an AC Green.
    Pistons: Not just 2004 but also 1989. The Lakers won those series in another universe.


  17. Some excellent posts here–Robert and Lil Pau, well done. Your comments are truly insightful. I just hope the Lakers’ front office has been reading them.

    The Lakers’ situation is certain one that will test Mitch Kupchak’s savy and acumen. As I see it, he’ll have 3 challenges to address:

    1) How and when to attract another franchise player or two to the Lakers to join Kobe;
    2) How to fill out the starting 5 for next year; and
    3) Whom to bring back and/or sign up for the next year’s bench mob.

    (Of course, this doesn’t even address the issue of who will coach the Lakers and what kind of coaching philosophy will lead them back to contention.)

    Item 3 is the easiest to address–not easy, necessarily, just less difficult than the other 2. For one thing, the Lakers have been auditioning players for places on next year’s bench all season long. The names are all familiar to us by now. My own preferences include Jordan Farmar, Jordan Hill, Xavier Henry, and possibly Kent Bazemore and Ryan Kelly. I would love to bring back either or both of Nick Young and Jodie Meeks but I think they’ll both be too expensive for the Lakers’ tastes next year. Hill will also find wealthy suitors. But the Lakers should do what they can to retain him. With a bench of Jordan Farmar, Jordan Hill, Xavier Henry, and, say, Nick Young, the Lakers could have one of the most exciting benches in the league next year, at least on offense. But…it may or may not happen.

    Bringing in true franchise players (Item #1) will be the most difficult challenge. And it will also be the most time consuming. Kevin Love won’t be available until 2015. Kevin Durant wont be a FA until 2016. And there’s no guarantee that they’d come to the Lakers. This is the most tenuous part of the Lakers’ long term strategy. But it’s a problem Mitch K. has solved before. Addressing this issue will probably be the greatest challenge of his career. Kevin Love (if he comes) will not be enough. Who else will join him?

    Meanwhile, this next year, the Lakers have got to fill out the rest of the starting 5 (Item #2). That will probably be the most important thing that they can do in terms of personnel moves during 2014. Should they pursue Kyle Lowry? How about Luol Deng? And at what price? Who will their 1st round draft pick be? And will that player be ready to contribute? (Marcus Smart and Doug McDermott seem to be the most NBA-ready players in the draft but they’re not as exciting in potential as some others who are younger and still developing.) Should the Lakers retain Pau Gasol? Is Jordan Farmer ready to become a starting point guard in the NBA?

    These are the (many) questions that must be answered by October. And it will probably take a good 3 years to put all the pieces of this puzzle together.


  18. – The Lakers already have a potential AC Green type player in Jordan Hill. Losing Jordan will be like losing a valuable first round pick. This after losing Dwight, who would likely be the number 1 pick in this year’s draft. And than there’s Gasol, who might be the best big man free agent this summer. Odds are, keeping our free agents may end up being more important than the draft pick.

    – As far as winning without a top 3 player, the Lakers have no choice but to try to win another way. The Spurs were one play away from winning it all without a top 3 player last season. The Pacers were close without a top 3 player (no, Paul George is not a top 3 player yet). Thats all a fan could realistically hope for..a team with a chance (i.e. Warriors, Portland, Memphis). After Lebron and Durant, the next tier includes players like Carmelo and Love, two players who the Lakers can pursue this summer. Adding these two players will give the Lakers a chance against anybody in a 7 game series. There are other routes, of course, but the options are out there.


  19. Based on what we can see now, IMO the Lakers’ best shot to get off the deck in a hurry is probably to sign Lowry and draft Embiid, and then go after Love. Reasons:

    1. Minnesota’s next two best guys after Love are probably Rubio and Pekovic. Rubio is entertaining and talented, but he is not a very good shooter. Pekovic is a pretty good center, but like Love, he is big and slow.
    2, Lowry is the kind of multi-dimensional 1 who can create for himself and others, he is a UFA, and he is on Love’s timeline, since he is 27. Love has never played with a guy like Lowry.
    3. Embiid, even if he does not hit his ceiling, is the kind of rangy, laterally mobile rim-protecting big that Love needs and, again, has never played with. Minnesota is acutely aware of this; they are supposedly considering moving Pekovic for a perimeter player so they can pair Love with Gorgui Dieng.
    4. While I do not disagree with some of the criticisms of Love, they are more or less like the criticisms of Howard that I have heard here so often. OK, Love has faults, and maybe he is only a Top 20 guy instead of a Top 5 guy. Fine. Love is the best player who is most likely to change teams over the next two years, and he is in his mid-20s. He has ties to LA. There is not a better option out there that we can see right now.

    To be clear, I have no idea if Love and/or Lowry will be interested in the Lakers, nor obviously, do I know if the Lakers will be in position to draft Embiid, or if they will do so if they are. The back issue may be a huge deal, particularly given the Lakers’ injury record the last two years. And, I am not claiming that Lowry/Love/Embiid=parade. But I think it is the best shot that the org will have in the foreseeable future, again, based on what we can see now.


  20. Lowry is 28–turned 28 a couple of weeks ago.


  21. “…the Lakers would be worst in the West and tied with Orlando for 3rd worst overall, if they had only gone 0-2 versus the Celts instead of 2-0. If the Celts wind up with some franchise stud owing to superior draft position, some of you will never hear the end of it from me. Remember, lads, titles. And not wins against the Celts in a meaningless season.”

    Well, that should lead to some valuable discussion. 🙂 The what-ifs are meaningless. No way the Lakers or Celtics are throwing games back in January in anticipation of the lottery. Just like Orlando wasn’t when they beat the Lakers a week later. Or when Utah beat the Lakers in Feb. Then Boston beat Orlando that month, but Utah beat Boston… If the Lakers hadn’t beaten the Thunder, Blazers, Suns, and Knicks, how sweet it would be. If the Celtics had lost to the Wizards, Nets, Heat, Hawks, etc. they’d be even lower in the standings. See a trend? None of these teams were trying to lose, so why expect something that wasn’t in anyone’s plans?


  22. If we’re going by history be your guide, then LeBron, as a Laker, would at least need complementary stars the caliber of Wade and Bosh to win it all. Durant hasn’t won a title yet, and he at least needs a Westbrook. What superstar is going to carry the Lakers by himself? And this assumes that either of these guys are even leaving the teams they’re on. If the Lakers can get someone as good as Love, especially for a D’Antoni team, they’d be smart to jump on it.


  23. If Wilt couldn’t win it by himself, nobody could.

    I really like the discussion when it goes into combinations of players, instead of just talking about one. I learn a lot more.


  24. Warren Wee Lim April 10, 2014 at 9:04 am

    Technically speaking, no one could win by himself.

    Even with the era of big 3s, the Lakers need to attract 2 guys to play together beside Kobe. We have a chance this off-season to do that. However, we need to identify who these guys are.

    Pau Gasol is on the books for 20+ million of cap hold if we retain his bird rights. With our cap figure only at 22-25 million, renouncing him is a no-brainer. Unless we sign him for 20.25 million. Ugh.

    Upon renouncing Pau, the Lakers still need to make a decision on the next guy on the cap hold category, that would be Jordan Hill. He is on the books for 6.65M. Sign him, sign-and-trade him, or let him walk.

    Next guy is Marshon Brooks. $3,201,471. Yeah.

    The rest’s cap holds are about the same as the minimum salary. The cap hold for an empty roster space is $507,336.

    You would have to assume Nick Young would pursue a better contract. I want him on my team.

    Suppose we renounce everyone, Nick Young opts out, we have a payroll of: 39M. This already includes the salary of our 1st rounder assuming he is the 1st overall pick. That gives you some 22 million and change but deduct 7 cap holds the figure is 19 million.

    19 million. That is as much we have.


  25. Not even the (arguably) greatest player in NBA history could win by himself. People forget how amazingly talented Scottie Pippen was on both sides of the ball; his top 50 greatest designation was not a fluke, the Bulls had key role players who killed their system and were better than most 3-5 guys on teams today, and the team victim to MJ’s burnout and short-lived MLB aspirations almost went to finals sans MJ. All this discussion disheartens me in terms of the Lakers post-2014 because, as a self-proclaimed Kobe Bryant apologist, I have to admit that two players BETTER than him (assuming he can return to whatever expected form is for a man of his miles, recent severe injury setbacks and unmatched work ethic) will be required to even approach title aspirations. Sigh.


  26. Lakers need to fill out a decent roster next year. They don’t have the money to go out and sign a big free agent and fill out their roster with decent players. Don’t forget the Lakers needed at least a decent base of a team to get Shaq to come to LA. So building the foundation of the team is priority #1. The following year when Nash comes off the books and better free agents are available is when the Lakers should bring in that big free agent. But for this year hopefully Mitch gets a great draft pick and goes out and fills out the core roster.


  27. If Wilt couldn’t win it by himself, nobody could.


    Not to mention KAJ. As a Buck he had young hungry players as well as an all time superstar in the Big O to help out.

    In LA he had talented players but came up short year after year until, well, you know …


  28. Let’s pretend Kevin Love is a great offensive player. We know this isn’t true because he can’t create shots for himself or teammates. He is a spot up shooter and garage man around the rim. But let’s live in a world where Love is a great offensive player. This still means he is a dead average NBA player since he is one of the worst defensive players in the NBA. I don’t think the Lakers should waste a max contract on a guy who at best is an above average player and in my opinion is slightly below average. To me he is a 7.5 out of 10 on offense and a 1 out of 10 on defense. So overall around a 4 out of 10 for me.


  29. It’s kind of hard to say who is a future franchise player and who isn’t. Wade was good at Marquette. But who saw him becoming possibly the third best NBA shooting guard of all time when he was there? Sometimes there are the LeBrons, Durants, Magics, and Birds of the world where you know coming in they are franchise guys. Other times players need to be developed.

    In the past it was a little easier. You drafted for size and skill, in that order. Now the league favors wing players. But an athletic 6’8″ wing coming out of college could be the next Tracy McGrady (before the injuries) or he could be the next Rudy Guy. How can you tell the difference? You may not be able to. That is particularly true when dealing with 19 and 20 year olds.

    The role of the organization is important. We all love Kobe’s work ethic. The guy is a maniac in that regard. But it sure helps your development when your mentors are Jerry West and Magic Johnson. It does wonders when your teachers are Phil Jackson and Tex Winter. At any given time you may run into James Worthy and he can put some gems in your ear. You learn not just the X’s and O’s of the game, but the mentality needed to be a consistent winner.

    Great players and great organizations feed off each other. Hitting a home run in the draft not always necessary when your organization knows how to develop players. The Spurs continue to prove this principle year in and year out. I hope beyond all hope that the Lakers start doing this again. The CBA is such that simply buying free agents is not enough anymore.


  30. @ T. Rogers

    Drafting for size and skill, in that order, worked out OK for the Rockets but clearly didn’t work out so well for the Blazers in 1984. LOL. Hindsight, indeed.


  31. R,
    While I feel KAJ leads in any discussion of the GOAT, Wilt was certainly the most dominant player ever to play basketball. He could and did lead in points, rebounds by large margins, and even led in assists when he put his mind to it. He was also notably good in defending around the rim. Trying to downgrade him because of competition simply doesn’t work, as Wilt would absolutely ‘kill’ the type of centers present in the NBA today.

    His listed height of 7′ 1″ shorted him by an inch or inch-and-a-half and his weight ran to 290 in his later career. He was a top-flight track-and-field competitor and all around athlete, like Jim Brown or Jim Thorpe.


  32. Jane,

    I said it was “a little” easier back then. There are always exceptions!


  33. Aaron: Thank you. Analytics are wonderfully exciting and revealing tools that if used carefully, can unearth talent in unseen places. Chandler Parson’s might be the poster boy for Analytics; discovered, as he was, by Daryl Morey and drafted on the second round. Conversely, Kevin Love should be the poster boy for how misleading these tools can be; particularly when measured against the eye test, or put into classical terms, the scouting report. The net scribes who slavishly devote themselves to analytics are attached to their emerging methodologies with evangelical fervor, and like all zealots are blinded by their biases, and eager to dismiss the scouting report as the gold standard for player evaluation. The limitations of their methods are painfully obvious when evaluating Love.

    Clearly there are a number of knowledgeable fans on this site that aren’t ready to dismiss what they see about Love with their own eyes. I suspect the Laker front office, being a more traditional basketball organization (Mitch, Bertka, et al) sees Love as a guy you don’t want to overpay for. ( I’m keeping my fingers crossed on that one!)


  34. @ T. Rogers

    I get it and didn’t comment to harp on that, it’s just that I think exceptions are not as much of an anomaly because of your very point…the draft is largely unpredictable. There are enough other examples on the size premise besides 1984 to that end…Bradley in 1993, Olowokandi in 1998, Oden in 2007, etc.


  35. Jane,

    My point was not that the Lakers should draft for size now. It was that part of having a first round (or later round) pan out is developing that player. I only referenced the older philosophy of drafting to point out that it doesn’t fly today. I think you and I are saying the same thing in that regard. I just think the unpredictability factor is diminished when you have scouts, coaches, and leadership that knows how to truly develop young players. These days I’m wondering if the Lakers still have that.


  36. Like I said, the anti-Love stuff here is like the anti-Howard stuff–people were saying not to “overpay” for Howard, too. Here is Zach Lowe’s piece again which includes a lot of criticism and some video breakdowns for the “don’t trust the numbers” types (a group which, funnily enough, includes Aaron on this one particular player).


  37. I think stretch 4’s are very important to an offense. But it’s not like Kevin Love is a 45 percent three point shooter. He is a nice three point shooter just under 40 percent. And if Love was an average defender I would be salivating for the Lakers to sign him. But if I’m looking for a third best player on a championship team Love wouldn’t be my guy. Big guys need to be able to play defense. And dispite what Lowe (who I really like) would have you believe, Kevin Love isn’t a low post player and isn’t good at creating his own shots. He isn’t a Dirk. A guy like Dirk who was never a good defender but in his prime was still much better on that at end of the floor than Love, could at least create offense so you could better excuse his defense. It also should be said Love doesn’t have the type of body that screams “I’m in great shape and will age well”.

    Having said all that… If Love was a guy that superstars wanted to play with I would welcome him with open arms and a giant max deal. I just doubt that’s the case.


  38. Heisler reports that if MDA gets fired, Byron Scott and Rambis could be the primary candidates for the job. I expressed my preference for Scott a while ago. About Kevin Love i know he is very very deficient on D its common knowledge but he can rebound like a madman and us a stretch 4, something this team really really needs. Will we get him i dont know. He should be a great second fiddle to whatever superstar we can lure. If we lure one.


  39. T. Rogers,
    Throughout Phil Jackson’s tenure we weren’t a very good team for developing youngsters. I would contend that Famar and Bynum would have developed quicker under other types of coaching. Luke Walton was a smart enough player – and developed enough in college – that he didn’t need much coaching. This is an area the Lakers need to become better at and MDA was a first shot at turning this around.

    With the CBA designed the way it is, there is no other option but to develop youngsters at the end of your bench.


  40. Gaaaads!


  41. If you live in the area, Andretti Wine tasting tonight at long Beach Hilton. Free!


  42. Warren i really really really doubt we will assemble a “big 3” this summer i dont think is going to be the Lakers objective unless some miracle happens, next year im sure we will have a bunch of reclamation projects, just like this year, in part one of the few good things about this season is that we been able to identify some pieces moving foward. I expect a wash-rinse-repeat next season with a little better team another fringe playoff team if we can avoid this acursed injury bug. I believe the FO is lining their ducks in a row to break the bank in summer 2015 and try to send Kobe into the sunset with a last shot at that 6th ring. This season and the next must be about building a foundation. This summer is not the time, but steps have to be taken to improve the team and start laying down the foundation.


  43. Warren Wee Lim April 10, 2014 at 7:20 pm

    I don’t like Rambis as head coach. He’s failed too much in his days that he would be significantly worse than MDA. If the team couldn’t defend w/ MDA, atleast they can score. With Rambis, they wouldn’t be able to defend AND wouldn’t be able to score.

    Byron Scott is an elitist coach. He favors the superstars but disregards the rest. This was the report coming out of New Orleans that he loved CP3 but forgot about everyone else. He would love Kobe naturally since he was a teammate of his, and its only natural since he’s the alpha dog, but what about the other 14?

    My personal favorite for coaching is JVG. He’s been out of the picture for quite awhile but I don’t think he’s detached himself from the game. Great defensive coach, his understanding on the game to me is highly advanced. He’s quite eccentric on his comments, which I like. If you like Thibodeau, well this is the guy that taught him.

    Stan is someone who could also follow the high-octane offense team. He would fit very well. He made it work with Howard and scraps in Orlando, he can make it work here.

    Those are my 2 cents. Or 4.


  44. Warren Wee Lim April 10, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    Fern, regarding the big three, I was referring to this era being one that uses 3 stars and no longer 2 which was so in the past.

    The Lakers have Kobe, a good pick, Nash, Sacre, Marshall. That occupies 39 million of a possible 62+ million in salary cap. Factor in some 3.5M in minimum cap holds and the Lakers find themselves available to spend 19 million. Carmelo’s max is 22M if he’s the target, I still like the idea but I find it less possible with Phil on board NY. If we signed Melo for what we got, then its bye bye Kevin Love, Rajon Rondo and Lamarcus Aldridge in 2015. Most of the guys here don’t want Melo.

    If we allocated 19 million (as high as 22.5M) wisely and waited, we could somehow land a combination of Lowry + Deng + Hawes. Note, if we waited. If these guys get big offers in other places, I am certain they will be signing quick. Only Deng from the list has earned his NBA money, the other 2 haven’t. I would be ok with spending 13 on Hawes and Lowry (6.5 apiece) and hopefully something like another 6.5 for Lance Stephenson. But again, these are the mid-tier prospects we need to be satisfied with.

    The last route is to pillage restricted free agents like Eric Bledsoe, Gordon Hayward and Greg Monroe. But these are all subject to their teams matching the contracts.

    Your choice.


  45. Warren, I hope you meant SVG. I think JVG should stay in the booth, where he is outstanding. And yes, I am not for retreading Scott or Rambis. I am not sure why everyone trys to extrapolate from past greatness, rather than thinking outside the box, but I am sure glad Mitch doesn’t do this.


  46. I thought Lionel Hollins did a solid job with Memphis. He’s kind of an anti-D’Antoni. He emphasizes defense rather than offense. He likes to pound the other team. Grind it out. Use whatever size he has. If you have the personnel to match his style, you could do a lot worse than Lionel Hollins.

    I also thought he got a bum rap when Memphis let him go. And he has a strong enough personality (I think) to handle Kobe’s withering glare.

    I’m not sure he’d be my first choice (I often imagine Coach K. leading this team–a guy can dream can’t he?). But Hollins should certainly be in the running. He had a great college career. He was a dynamite guard–especially on defense–playing next to Bill Walton on Portland’s championship team. And he had an excellent record at Memphis. He’s actually got a pretty strong resume.


  47. but I am sure glad Mitch doesn’t do this.

    None of the Lakers’ coaching hires since Phil was hired (and that was supposedly purely a Jerry Buss hire. Jerry West hated the idea–and Phil) has been anything close to what most would see as outside the box. Every coach they have brought in, including Brown and D’Antoni, has been brought in based on past NBA success and had previous NBA HC experience. Brown and D’Antoni were unpopular hires, but they were hardly creative ones. Other than that, the hires that Kupchak has been associated with have been Tomjanovich and Phil II. And according to some reports, Kupchak wanted Phil III but was outvoted by the Busses. One of the most-often repeated defenses of Jim Buss around the internet is that it was Dr. Buss who most wanted D’Antoni.

    If the Lakers go “outside the box” now, that would probably mean either

    a) an NBA assistant outside the Popovich coaching tree–someone like David Fizdale, who was born in LA and went to college in San Diego.
    b) a high-profile college guy, like Billy Donovan or Kevin Ollie.

    That is the argument the KBros have been making: that if the Lakers fire MDA, they should do something like what Boston has done with the Brad Stevens hire, rather than bringing in SVG, Scott, or Karl. The position has some merit, since the Lakers have literally never had a team this bad at any time in their history before, so new approaches may be needed in some areas. But that is not the type of hire that the Lakers have made during the Kupchak era.


  48. Warren,
    Why not try to cherry-pick one of the restricted free agents? If we get them, great, but if we don’t then we pursue the three lesser lights, assuming they didn’t get an early, large offer. That way we could win a sizable chip, but if we don’t, then we try to strengthen the starting lineup.


  49. I can see them making a run at Lowry this summer.
    I think the Lakers are strong on him.
    I am a Marshall fan but I think he only sticks around as a 3rd stringer.
    Unfortunately, this leaves Jordan Farmar out of the picture if Nash is healthy enough to return.
    I like Farmer’s athleticism but he seems injury-prone as well.
    So if it’s Nash and Lowry, Farmar prob leaves rather than play 3rd string.

    Personally, I’d retain Hill and Pau, keep the draft pick and select a 3, sign Lowry as a FA,
    and dump the coach.

    Craig, I love the Wilt comments.
    He was one of my heroes growing up.


  50. Kobe won a championship with Pau (probably a hall of famer bur barely), Odom, and Bynum (never healthy for the whole season) and got his team into the playoffs and very close to an upset with the likes of Smush Parker and Kwame Brown. Name one player besides MJ who could do this. He was downright brilliant. Whatever criticism one might have of his defensive game gets immediately diffused when one looks at his defensive play against LeBron, Wade, Pierce, Allen, and even Nash in the games that mattered during this era. The man was a beast and it is sad that the NBA has structured its CBA so that it is highly unlikely that he will ever be part of a championship team again. He is in there with MJ, Magic, Bird, Kareem, Wilt, and Bill Russell. A league unto their own that Lebron may one day join.


  51. Warren, i prefer Byron bc of his track record with rebuilding teams, it didin worked out in Cleveland bc after Irving, they could not draft their way out of a paperbag. But he make the Nets and Hirnets contenders before that he has the championship pedigree he is a Laker and he should command the respect of the players Rambis has his chances and he blew them. I like Hollins too, if he can adapt his style to what the Lakers are triying to do and do not bring that slow to a crawl style he built in Memphis thats not what the Lakers want. We need to stay clear of the old fossils like Sloan, Van Gundy and Karl. I support a Byron Scott or Leonell Hollings as head coaches. Thats it, unless we can kevin ollie somewhow.


  52. Paul,

    Pau Gasol is a sure HoF’er. If you factor his international play then he’s surely there. Drazen Petrovic, and I agree that he was special and his career was cut short, is there and he didn’t achieve Pau’s accolades. Calvin Murphy is there. Dennis Johnson is there. Ralph Sampson is there. Silk is there. Bernard King is there. And I’m not mentioning those guys from the early days that noone really knows. You can’t honestly say that the players that I mentioned above had a better career than Pau. So, let’s stop with this “Pau is barely a HoF’er” thing before people start believing that getting to the HoF is something only granted to those who dominated the sport for stretches. Check the list… 😉


  53. Paul, Pau is easily the best power forward to ever where a Laker uniform for more than one season and will easily make the Hall of Fame.


  54. Also, the Basketball HOF is just that–it is not an NBA HOF. Pau’s international and Olympic play add to his resume, so Renato is correct. When people who don’t really get that hear the term “Hall of Famer” they think of guys like Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, and Wilt Chamberlain. But that is not really what the HOF is.


  55. My vote – Pau gets into the HOF fairly easily. However, don’t downgrade HOF players because they played in the 40s and 50s. The game was different then, we didn’t see them then, but the players were awfully good in their time. For you youngsters, I wouldn’t be downgrading the players in the 60s and 70s either – no ESPN, but some of the best talents ever to grace the game played then. By the old is not as good logic, Babe Ruth was a questionable HOFer, not in the running for GOAT in his sport.


  56. darius: I have no doubt because the pattern has always been the same and I expect more of that when the free agency period begins; cba or no cba. Jeanie buss has made that clear and i’m certain she has discussed that with both jim buss and mitch kupchak prior to disclosure.

    just got to wait for the right time to pounce if the opportunity presents itself to nab LeBron James if circumstances fall into place beginning tonite vs the Indiana pacers.

    another issue I would like to see the laker organization address in either the upcoming draft and/or free agency: obtain a player with toughness. every championship team had at least one complimentary player w/toughness that stood out during their respective championship playoffs run. of the recent past, a few come to mind:

    ron artest (not metta world peace)
    trevor ariza
    rick fox
    ac green

    Get tough, be tough, Go lakers.


  57. Pau Gasol in the HOF is a no brainer. And Sid is right about him being the team’s best power forward ever. If you had to pick a greatest Lakers team by position Gasol would be your four. Add in his international resume and he should be 1st ballot.


  58. I dunno if we are getting ahead of ourselves on a coach change. My candidate to replace MDA would have to be George Karl. The year he got fired he got coach of the year. He had been running an uptempo system recently but in years past ran a half court system. I think hes a great coach in that you can hand him your available talent and he will develop a system for what you give him. In this way he is the antithesis of MDA who has a rigid system that you have to get the right personnel to play it or disaster ensues.

    Lakers line up at the moment Looks like Kobe + Rookie + 3 FA or +2 FA +1 Current Player. who we get out of the draft greatly influences the other 3 choices.


  59. Pau international resume alone makes him a sure 1st ballot hall of famer. His NBA career alone should get him into the HOF too. He will be a 1st ballot hall of famer and is certainly the best PF the Lakers ever have. Can we stop the Lebron nonsense? Why would he come to LA and what significance tonights game have besides standings? Is a win or go home game? Please. Lebron is not coming to LA.


  60. rfren: Not a matter of what if. Read again what Mitch envisioned. 40 some wins, likely first round exit, followed by Anthony Peeler at no. 15 in the draft. The unreality is simply stunning. People talking about desirable free agent destination. Let’s go through the history:

    Pau – trade
    Bynum – draft
    Odom – trade
    Shaq – FA, except the rules changed, so no outbidding the Magic as there’s now max salary and max contract length, with the home team able to offer more
    Kobe – trade
    Jones – draft
    Van Exel – draft
    Vlade – draft
    Scott – trade
    Cooper – draft
    Worthy – draft
    Magic – draft
    Kareem – trade

    So, going all the way back to Kareem, the team landed but the single star FA and that was when the rules allowed the big market team with all the money to simply outbid the opposition. Again, can’t do that anymore. Someone spoke to the hole being hard to climb out of. Absolutely. Or, ABSOLUTELY. Shout it from the hilltop, brother! And I left out Rick Fox, a free agent, who said he left money on the table to come and win. This team isn’t built for winning and so no one is going to be leaving money on the table to come and win.

    Or we could say that given Kobe’s age and recent injury history, he’s not nearly the lure or magnet that Wade was for Lebron and Bosh. The circumstance is also different in that Wade himself gave up money whereas Kobe is sucking up, what, 25 mil of the CAP? And did no one understand what those billboards around LA, begging Howard to stay, symbolized? Monuments to a monumental desperation, since win now with Kobe and Howard and then after Kobe, Howard is the lure or magnet. Now with Howard gone, they’ve but a handful of ashes. Hence the desperation at the time with those billboards, as in, Howard or a handful of ashes, so please, for the love of all things holy and pure, Dwight, stay, pretty please, with a cherry on top, what those billboards were.

    Even before the season began, I was calling for 20-62, which was the Thunder’s record the season leading up to the Westbrook draft (so I’m not without my reason). I would have went for the preferred 0-82, but that seemed a tad unrealistic, so 20-62 it was. And so my point was, rejoice in losing, and shed tears on wins, since all wins can do is make it harder to get the no. 1 pick and hopefully select the franchise changing stud. And worst of all, to not only celebrate the win, but of all things, against the Celts, who were expected to be competing with the Lakers in the matter of hopefully selecting a franchise saving stud (the team did the Celts a favor by beating them, that’s how bad it was and is). And so I was not commenting on what if, but instead I simply fail to understand why one and all can’t see that, all along, losing was and is the infinitely preferred option.

    And the Mitch interview was a complete and utter joke. Going to compete in one year. Please, Mitch, we’re not entirely dim. Even three years is pushing it, since, again, Kobe’s contract is a millstone around their necks, and who wants to come, in any event, when Kobe is already one foot out the door. And Darius has said it any number of times. What the team needs is plus talent on low end, say, rookie contracts. So if the team had the same as OKC, that would be Durant, Westbrook and Harden, with Westbrook and Harden still on their rookie contracts, and so enough CAP space to sign a FA to add to the mix (they’d draft Harden Part Deux and sign the FA in the same of-season). OKC couldn’t do that, as they don’t even have the money to resign everybody when their cheap contracts end, witness Harden’s departure, and so never mind the added FA for them, but what with the cable deal, etc., the Lakers do have that money. And so that should be the plan.

    And so some losing is in order. Rejoice in it. Revel in it. Whatever you do, don’t celebrate victory, and certainly not against the hated Celts who are competing with the Lakers to sign the next franchise changing stud. As that would be madness…and so not, what if, but a comment on the madness of some…for not seeing that wins can only hurt the future success of the team given the current state of affairs.

    And sticking with current state of affairs, I don’t blame Howard for leaving, since in addition to a young Harden versus an old Kobe, there’s the rest of the team as well. And so none of us lose sight of the Harden over Kobe advantage, Dwight was born in ’85 while Harden was born in ’89, so unlike the circumstance with born in ’78 Kobe, Dwight can finish his career with Harden and the Rockets if he desires, youth over age and all that, and Harden also represents a known commodity, in contrast to Jimbo and Mitch telling Dwight, all will be well after Kobe leaves. Houston was simply the better choice in every sense and respect. And so Dwight chose wisely and got out while the getting was good.

    For a bonus freebie, what scares me is that Jerry is dead. He was well and truly capable of making some money outside of the Lakers. I’m not at all convinced that Jimbo and sis can do that. So my great fear is that management will simply be happy with an Eddie Jones, Nick Van Exel, Vlade type of team. Would be entertaining, sell tickets, keep the TV viewership up, etc., so good income for the Buss family, but won’t ever be in the running for a title. And the league scheme provides them with cover, since there’s now an excuse for why they can’t and so won’t outbid everyone, including the Heat, for both Lebron and Bosh. And that was disconcerting, by the way, the singular failure to read any report of some great objection on the part of the Lakers to a scheme that can only hamstring them when it comes to team revenue being used to improve the team. Why, instead of the family transfer, I’d have been rather happier with a sale to Bill Gates, who could keep on making millions via Microsoft, while using the team revenue entirely to improve the team, and all while railing against the anti-competitive nature of the current NBA scheme (player freedom of movement and all that, citing all the way back to the Magna Carta in 1215 A.D./C.E.).


  61. Karl has had limited postseason success. A long time ago in Seattle but more recently underperformed in playoffs in Denver despite strong regular season records.

    I’d favor making the unconventional move for Ollie or Fisher. Less pricey too which makes it easier to pay Dantoni for taking a front office or scouting role.


  62. Why people would want George ” 1st round exit” Karl is beyond me. On other news Nick Young is willing to take less than market value money to stay (12 mill for 3 years sounds good at least to me) and Jabari Parker said that being a Laker would be a “blessing” not that i think it would happen but the Lakers are high on the minds of these YOUNG people . Patience and they will come. The Lakers are still the Lakers…


  63. As rr pointed out from the kam article and I have to agree w them, given the state of the team next year – if you have to go w. A New coach then be innovative and go w someone like Ollie. He would work well w young developing players, has been in the nba and paid his dues so would have respect of nba players and would know how to coach w/o treating them like little kids. Both Pitino and calipari coached in the nba before and the problem w them was they couldn’t adjust from coaching kids that they had to take control over to coaching grown men who are more important to the team than you. The only senior college coach who could make the jump would be coach k and I don’t see him making that jump at this point in his career.

    Please no retreads or Rambises. Scott isn’t a bad coach but I don’t see that hire working well and it makes things awkward when you have to fire one of your stories players. Perhaps fish might make a decent coach some day, but I don’t like the idea of someone who played w kobe having to deal w him for the last couple years of his career. At some point a coach is going to have to point out his deficiencies and that would be a lot easier done by someone who is a bit more detached from kobe’s playing days.


  64. I like jerke’s point noting that Ollie was in the NBA as a player for several years. I think that may be pretty important, particularly with Kobe still on the team. Stevens seems to be doing OK with the transition in Boston–but Boston traded Pierce and Garnett, so Stevens is not dealing with any old stars headed for the HoF.


  65. Slappy, if the team was healthy and zkobe close to Black Mamba? without a doubt they would be fighting one of the last playoffs spots. With a healthy team i see no reason why next season would be a low tier playoff team, nobody has an idea what the team will look like but since we wont have a pick next season the team have to move upward performance wise. Mitch said competitive not a contender and he added that it could take longer than one year. This season was an anomaly and the tank came uninvited but welcomed when it showed up. But its not the culture and being semi glad for losses has been the most demoralizing and shameful thing i have done in my decades as a sport fan not lakers fan as a sport fan. We have to wait which way this team is going to move fwd. Draft night will give us the 1st indication of where this team is going. We wont be that good next season but we wont be as bad as this season if healthy. (Knock on wood)


  66. I think we’re making a mistaking lumping all these coaches together as “re-treads.” SVG, Larry Brown, and Jerry Sloan, for example, are not in the same league as Kurt Rambis, Byron Scott, George Karl. Coaches should be evaluated on an individual basis, instead of painting with broad strokes. I tend to dislike the idea of pulling from the NCAA ranks, as the track record of success in both leagues is very limited. Brad Stevens has done little except hold together the locker room of a tanking team. We’ve got a long way to go before we have enough data to judge the wisdom of hiring Stevens. I’d caution against following a completely unproven model.

    If we do want a young coach to “grow” with a young team, then this seems to contradict targeting Love/Durant in free agency – veteran players should be paired with experienced coaches (even with Ollie/Durant recent speculation). Taking a coach with little NBA experience only increases the chances of wasting these players’ primes.

    If we do pull from the NCAA ranks, then the priority should be a coach with a long NBA history. Ollie and Hoiberg would be the only two I’d give a second look.


  67. Fern,
    Karl has been to the Finals and lost. He was again very recently coach of the year. It wasn’t for being teribad. Hes the polar opposite of MDA in that he does not have a set system. He builds the system to the players he is given. The only way he could be any better is if he had a Championship Title but the same could be said about a lot of coaches. Karl is a very solid choice.