Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Jazz

Darius Soriano —  April 14, 2014

Regardless of whether you support the idea of losing games as a mechanism for long term improvement or not, you have to acknowledge that tonight’s game is relatively important when it comes to the potential slotting of the draft lottery.

Entering tonight’s game, the Lakers have one more win and one less loss than the Jazz. If the Lakers lose against Utah tonight, they become tied. This would leave open the opportunity for the Lakers to end with a worse record than their Western Conference rivals and, thus, leapfrog them into a better position (in terms of odds) for the draft lottery scheduled to happen next month. And while that’s getting ahead of ourselves a little bit – there would still be one game left to play, after all – this game will go a long way towards clarifying the end of the year standings.

For that reason, tonight’s game has a certain value. Not aesthetic value or actual competitive value – at least not in the traditional sense – but value all the same. Tonight’s loser will be in a better position to land a top 5 pick than they were yesterday. For those of you who root for such things, this game is your super bowl. For those of you who just want this season to be over, well, you’ll just have to suffer through another game. Sorry. What’s one more tacked on to the previous 20?

I really don’t have much to say about this contest outside of the two paragraphs above. We’ve seen enough of the Jazz this season to know their strengths and weaknesses and who the key players are. I could sit here and write paragraphs on Gordon Hayward, Trey Burke, or Derrick Favors, but click here or here if you really want that stuff. I could write about the importance of rebounding or how Jordan Hill and Ryan Kelly or Nick Young need to play to help the team win, but honestly those things are sort of secondary to what I’ll be watching tonight.

In all honesty, the thing I’ll be looking out for most is what strategy is employed by both sides in how it relates to losing the game. That sounds harsh, and I won’t be actively rooting for the Lakers to lose, but if you were really looking for a game where either team might “tank” this is the one. There are real stakes at play and the winner of this game is putting themselves in a position where the difference between a top 5 pick and one that is a spot or two below is very real.

Does this mean the coaches or the players will change their approach? I don’t think so – Nick Young said it well when he stated guys won’t try to lose games when all it does is help the team draft their replacement. I think the same is true for coaches who are wired to try and win games and understand that they are judged on results above all else. But, at the same time, just as there is a positive momentum that comes from winning there is a negative one that comes from losing. The Lakers have been riding that downward wave for the better part of a few months now. An occasional win here or there doesn’t obscure the fact that in most games the Lakers can only muster a half of strong play before fading to a double digit loss.

Will the same happen tonight? On the second night of a back to back against a team that, for all of their own warts, has already beaten the Lakers by 20 points this year? We will soon find out.

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

Darius Soriano

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112 responses to Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Jazz

  1. God I can’t wait for this Laker season to end and the playoffs to start. Cheering for losses and sweating close games out is making me sick LOL. Not many bright spots on the year….crazy that Ryan Kelly’s play has been one of the only positives in my mind from the season. Hope they lock him up to a deal similar to the way Houston kept Parsons on the cheap. Other than that LET IT END!!! Oh and I’m really hoping they try and sign Stan Van Gundy. Enjoy the summer.

  2. darius: can’t believe that it seems more than a year ago that the lakers were fighting to make the 2013 nba playoffs when kobe bryant went down with his infamous achilles injury – april 12th to be exact and yet here we are watching the lakers fighting for a better position in this year’s upcoming lottery. laker drama, never ceases to amaze. like a moth to a flame; it draws you in and careful not to get burned in the process.

    like you said over a month ago; let’s root for information. reading between the lines, here’s rooting the results of tonite’s information is beneficial to the laker organization and all fans here at forum blue and gold.

    Go lakers

  3. In Utah’s last game, in Denver, Tyrone Corbin played each of Burke, Hayward, Kanter, and Favors 34-38 minutes. Alec Burks, the 5th starter, went 24 minutes. Marvin Williams didn’t play (I assume that he is hurt) but Richard Jefferson was the first guy off the bench and went 26 minutes.

    So, if Corbin decides that tonight would be a good night to give heavy minutes to Rudy Gobert, Ian Clark, and Diante Garrett, that will be a sign that Utah wants to lock themselves in to having more ping-pong balls than the Lakers will have, which will happen if the Lakers win this game.

    In the Lakers’ case, the calculus is different, since they can’t keep more than 8 or 9 guys ambulatory, and unlike Utah, they do not really have any guys suiting up right now who are likely to be regulars on the franchise’s playoff team. So we will see.

  4. While I’m interested in the outcome of this game, I have absolutely no interest in watching this game. Grizz – Suns is the address of professional “pre/post-season” NBA B-ball tonight. Heart goes out to those who “must” watch Lakers – Jazz :-(

  5. Considering the Roster D’Antoni has had to work with this season doesn’t 25/26 wins feel like an over achievement? Look at their 3 most used lineups:
    1. Marshall-Meeks-Johnson-Kelly-Gasol
    2. Blake-Meeks-Johnson-Hill-Gasol
    3. Marshall-Bazemore-Meeks-Johnson-Gasol

  6. “The Lakers are interested in Meeks, 26, a soon-to-be free agent who is paid $1.6 million in a league whose average salary is $5.5 million. He’s interested in them, too.” LA Times

    Jimmy B, listen to Mitch, this one is a no brainer.

  7. For those who only recently started rooting for Lakers losses I have this to say… A loss counts as much the second game of the season as it does the second to last. It looks like some needless wins this year might cost the Lakers their future. Let’s wait and see. I didn’t create this silly lottery system… It isn’t my fault the NBA has forced me to root for losses every time my favorite team plays. I’m a lakers fans. So I want what’s best for my team and not for the current players on it. Hopefully Kobe’s injury does for the lakers future what David Robinsons back injury did for the Spurs. Two more must lose games and we can start focusing on what’s really important.

  8. Is anyone else having a Lottery Party on May 20th?

  9. I think tonight’s the night Robert Sacre plays all 5 positions.

  10. I WONDER IF Dantoni wanted to ingratiate himself to his bosses,
    does he play to win or lose tonight?

    Like Darius said, this is the one game of the year where both teams may actually want to lose (or at least they can’t deny the potential benefit of a loss).
    That’s hilarious to me.

    Tonight I’ll watch for lazy passes, concession baskets and odd substitution patterns.
    That last one – odd substitution patterns – may be tough to spot for Laker fans,
    since in that area at least, it has seemed like Dantoni has been tanking all year :)

  11. Is it too late for Lakers to sign me to a one game contract? I promise I will not try to tank. Au contraire, I will take every open or semi open shot and try to make them all ;D

  12. The Lakers will have lots of cap room next year (assuming some players’ rights are renounced, removing cap holds etc).

    Do you guys see much value in their ability to intentionally take on a bad contract or two next year? Maybe a trade for a bad contract and a good pick/decent player? Are there other teams, with assets we would be interested in, who are looking to unload?

    Just a thought.

  13. Wow Boston. Wow.

  14. Warren Wee Lim April 14, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    Echoing this statement: Wow Boston. Wow.

    They just tank better than us man.

  15. This is just too sad.

  16. I spoke too soon! It’s a comeback!

  17. Just watched Marshall miss 7. 20 footers in a row during warm ups in the background as Stu and Bill were talking .

    Ouch!

  18. JC

    If you can’t coach to win, what makes you think he can coach to lose.

    Only way is to play Marshall and Sacre 40 minutes. Sure thing!

  19. Ko
    It might be a little easier to coach to lose.
    But you’re right. Ineptitude is ineptitude.

    Did anyone have 25 wins in the “whine” contest?
    We are so bad right now it’s amazing.

  20. No 25s. But I will do a split case for you and Shawn at 26.

    Question to all.
    If you can only keep one:
    Young or Meeks

    Also
    Henry or Basemore

  21. And we are suppose to think Utah is trying?

    12 TOs and they were passes right to the Lakers.

    Yea right!

  22. Ko, whomever signs the cheaper $ per year deal.

  23. Good questions.
    Such a strange season that these guys all seem valuable to some extent.

    I’d take Young over Meeks as a gunslinger off the bench on a good team. Vinnie Johnson type.
    More versatile offensively.
    In the real world, salary probably plays a part in these decisions.

    I’m keen on Bazemore.
    A more committed defender than Henry.
    Although Henry’s one of these guys that could blow up elsewhere after we release him (see Gerald Green).

  24. If it were actually possible that even one or two players were ‘instructed’ to play ‘differently’ for just one night…
    Then yeah – some of these plays are really suspect.

  25. Nick didn’t get the memo.

  26. By the way to James above.

    Find a place for lottery party and I will supply the wine and beer!

  27. F%%$&g swaggy P killin our chances of movin up!

  28. Meeks over young … im assuming we will be going after main playwrs who we will want to have the ball in their hands which negates a lot of youngs value … meeks does more of the little things but young could be a good 6th man scoring guy off the bench / kobe insurance

    Hemry over bazemore….if henry is healthy … similar to note above bazemore has done better as the “man” in his rotation time …. kobe will rip him if he is on the floor amd he takes some of those shots or doesn’t pass the ball

    Id rather get the loss … aparantly boston hit a 3 to tie philly but the guys foot was out of bounds on the replay

  29. Clearly Nick wants to make sure Lakers can’t pick a small forward in draft.

    Cunning Swaggy.

  30. Ugh its looking like a win and drafting 6th … or worse .. or maybe karma will help us get a leg up …. either way half a case :) … thx Ko for even considering the give away

  31. MD put coached again!

  32. This team pisses me off so damn much.

  33. Jazz impersonating Kobe.
    “Let me teach you how to tank.”

  34. Alright. That settles that. Hope for the ping pong gods to smile upon us.

  35. I said a couple of months ago that having guys like Nick Young (and Jordan Hill and Jodie Meeks) go off and lead the team to pride wins might wind up being a net negative long-term.

    This game and Boston’s loss basically lock the Lakers into the 6th spot:

    1. MIL 15-66
    2. PHI 18-63
    3. ORL 23-58
    4. UTAH/BOS 24-57/25-56
    5. BOS/UTAH 25-56/24-57
    6. LAKERS 26-55
    7. SAC/DET 28-53/29-52
    8. DET/SAC 29/52/28-53

    So, the Lakers could pick as high as 1st or as low as 9th, conceivably.

    Nothing to do now but wait and see, obviously.

  36. Any we have wine winners.

    Thanks Nick?

    You owe me.

  37. I guess the Lakers aren’t quite bad enough. True that Young, Hill, and Meeks can be effective. Sacre had a good all round game. Play-making by Kendall. Defense by Wes. Farmar some key plays. Bench players against a young Jazz squad. They did what any pro athlete does. Try to win the game. It’ll be interesting to see who’s still a Laker next season.

    The lottery’s mostly about luck. Good or bad luck to have your season fall apart. Luck that other teams don’t stink worse than you. Luck to have the ping pong balls fall your way. Some amount of luck to pick the right player. Luck to have that player stay healthy after being drafted. I guess if you want to look at it that way, thank Mitch, Mike and the guys for at least a fairly high pick. Don’t be greedy. :) Whatever’s meant to be will be.

  38. KEVIN DING ?@KevinDing 1h
    Making matters worse for D’Antoni, he did not understand the lottery implications of Lakers winning. Thought it didn’t matter.

    __________

    KEVIN DING ?@KevinDing 1h
    I asked @paugasol why he came on final trip when he still wasn’t feeling well. He shrugged. “Be a good teammate, be a good professional”

  39. Be a good teammate!

    When the last time $48 million was at a Laker game?

  40. Last time we will see these guys together:

    http://instagram.com/p/mzAjpPuGOP/

  41. most depressing win of the season

  42. This is the most painful regular season game in a long time. We can basically kiss our chances goodbye of getting a top three pick. That’s the problem with not locking up a coach for the future. There is no incentive for MDA to want the team to get a top pick.

  43. It looks like this entire freaking season was a waste. I can’t tell you how pissed I am. I guess we can hope for a Ping Pong miracle.

  44. Well, everyone,

    I’ve done some research into the last 4 NBA drafts (courtesy of DraftExpress.com). Below is a list of the most prominent draft picks for each of the last 4 years (1-8 for the most part with other intriguing selections–both booms and busts). History is so interesting when one looks back on it with perfect hind sight.

    2013
    1. Anthony Bennett, Cleveland
    2. Victor Oladipo, Orlando
    3. Otto Porter, Washington
    4. Cody Zeller, Charlotte
    5. Alex Len, Phoenix
    6. Nerlens Noel, Philadelphia
    7. Ben McLemore, Sacramento
    8. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Detroit

    Others:
    11. Michael Carter-Williams, Philadelphia
    14. Shabazz Muhammad, Minnesota
    24. Tim Hardaway, Jr., Knicks
    2 / 6. Ray McCallum, Sacramento
    2 / 18. Ryan Kelly, Lakers

    2012
    1. Anthony Davis, New Orleans
    2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte
    3. Bradley Beal, Washington
    4. Dion Waiters, Cleveland
    5. Thomas Robinson, Sacramento
    6. Damian Lillard, Portland
    7. Harrison Barnes, Golden State
    8. Terrence Ross, Washington

    Others:
    9. Andre Drummond, Detroit
    13. Kendall Marshall, Phoenix
    18. Terrence Jones, Houston
    2 / 30. Robert Sacre, Lakers

    2011
    1. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland
    2. Derrick Williams, Minnesota
    3. Enes Kanter, Utah
    4. Tristan Thompson, Cleveland
    5. Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto
    6. Jan Vesely, Washington
    7. Bismark Biyombo, Sacramento (traded to Charlotte)
    8. Brandon Knight, Detroit

    Others:
    9. Kemba Walker, Charlotte
    10. Jimmer Fredette, Milaukee (traded to Sacramento)
    11. Klay Thompson, Golden State
    15. Kawhi Leonard, Indiana (traded to San Antonio)
    22. Kenneth Faried, Denver
    25. Marshon Brooks, Boston
    30. Jimmy Butler, Chicago
    2 / 8. Chandler Parsons, Clippers (traded to Houston)
    2 / 11. Darius Morris, Lakers
    2 / 30. Isaiah Thomas, Chicago (traded to Sacramento)

    2010
    1. John Wall, Washington
    2. Evan Turner, Philadelphia
    3. Derek Favors, Nets
    4. Wesley Johnson, Minnesota
    5. DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento
    6. Ekpe Udoh, Golden State
    7. Greg Monroe, Detroit
    8. Al-Faroq Aminu, Clippers
    9. Gordon Hayward, Utah
    10, Paul George, Indiana

    Others:
    12. Xavier Henry, Memphis
    18. Eric Bledsoe, OKC (traded to Clippers)
    2 / 10. Lance Stephenson, Indiana
    2 / 13. Devin Ebanks, Lakers

    Thoughts? Reactions? Any lessons to be learned? For the first time in a long time, the draft will matter to the Lakers.

  45. To borrow the title of the one Deadspin piece:

    Nick Young, Who Is The Devil.

    In other words, there goes all hope of sole possession of 4th worst with its 119 chances at 1st pick (unless the Jazz imitate Nick Young, Who Is The Devil, they’ll lose to the TWolves on the road to end their season and claim the 119 for themselves)(might even tie for 3rd if the Magic pull their own Nick Young, Who Is The Devil). Leaving the Lakers with 2 possibilities: (1) a tie for 5th with the Celts and so a coin flip for who gets 76 versus 75 chances at 1st pick, or sole possession of 6th and its 63 chances.

    Oh, and Nick, they’ll be having a draft whether you like it or not, so they’ll be coming to take your job no matter what (he wears his IQ and the value of a U$C education on his jersey)(Go Bruins!). And, Nick, way to help the Celts! And I particularly loved his latest rationale, courtesy of Kevin Ding: he didn’t want to finish last in the West. Uh, Nick, this is the worst team in Lakers history. Rejoice in it. Revel in it. Since one more victory, even another against the Spurs bench won’t change the worst in franchise history. Again, Deadspin put it just sot: Nick Young, Who Is The Devil.

    For a bonus freebie, for how bad the loss was, never mind the decreased odds for 1st pick. Instead, think, if they finish 6th, the odds of picking 7th shoot up to very nearly one-third (30.5%). Noe note the team photo here, Instagramed by Nick Young, Who Is The Devil :

    http://distilleryimage0.s3.amazonaws.com/5c30d7cec45511e386c40002c9d543a8_8.jpg

    Not the brightest bulbs in the socket. And so Nick Young, Who Is The Devil, gets the point, you left out the caption: Worst collection of misfits in Lakers history. But, hey, you didn’t finish last in the West.

  46. “They played hard and I think, if I’m not mistaken, it’s the same number of ping pong balls, right?” D’Antoni said. “They flip a coin, or something …

    A reporter informed D’Antoni that the win by the Lakers actually cemented the Jazz with a worse record, and thus, better lottery chances.

    “I mean, you kind of hate that,” D’Antoni responded, realizing what the win did to the potential draft order. “But, I thought we had the same rank.”

    ____

    http://espn.go.com/blog/los-angeles/lakers/post/_/id/39643/despite-victory-mike-dantoni-wont-win-fans

    McMenamin, who wrote the piece, defended MDA a bit, noting that it is his job to win games.

  47. This system really has to change. It makes me raving mad to check the night’s results and hope for a loss. It is the most ridiculous system in sports.

  48. Something worth noting is that w how many guys on this team that will be free agents and not returning – why would any of them not play hard when their next possible pay cheque and contract could hinge on their play. They have no loyalty to the lakers and won’t be back next year so why should they care about tanking and draft position- they’re playing for their lively hoods. Can’t begrudge anybody for showing up and playing hard. If one win or two at this point in the season meant the difference between picking 3rd or 12th I could see getting frustrated, but picking 4-6th isn’t gonna be much different – especially since lakers could move down just as easily as moving up depending on how the lottery goes.

  49. As a pro-tanker, I am shattered. I had been following the games just because I had the draft date in my mind. It’s indeed the most depressing game. I wanted them to lose this one, no matter what. The loss mattered a lot lot more than a win. I still pray we end up with someone great in the draft. Even though the chances are less. A franchise rookie would have been a great piece to start the rebuilding. I am gonna throw up

  50. What a shame…. Really nothing to look forward to now…. This team pisses me off

  51. A few points:

    1. There was no lottery until 1985–it was put in after Houston tanked to get Sampson and Olajuwon. So, tanking is far less incentivized than it once was.
    2. Football and baseball both still do reverse record drafts. So, it is not that the NBA has a bad system relative to the other major US sports; it is simply that one guy can make such a huge difference in basketball that people focus on getting the #1 pick a lot more.
    3. The Lakers reduced their chances at a Top 3 pick, but they did not eliminate them.

    As I have said, I think it is totally reasonable to root for losses right now. But we simply don’t know yet what tonight’s win will mean yet.

  52. So, with the 4th-worst record, the Lakers would have had an 11.9% shot at the #1 pick. Now it will be 6.3%. There is a 43.9% chance that they will pick 6th.

  53. I find it incredible that any fan can honestly think players or coaches would not try to win games. I know if I had any of those people working for me, they would be gone at the first opportunity.

    I too realize why the discussion of ‘tanking’ comes up and I too understand the NBA probably should tweak things a bit to reduce the pressure on bad teams to lose games. It has been said – ad nauseam – that there is no incentive for players or coaches to lose. Still we focus venom on players and coaches when they win. I understand why fans would be frustrated by a win at this time of year, but to expect professionals to follow our wishes is simply nonsense.

    I enjoyed some well played basketball tonight; even if it was against an inferior team – incidentally, one that has a much better starting 5 than we have had most of the season. Given the results, I have no problem thinking our coaching is better than theirs – as if that wasn’t the pot calling the kettle black.

  54. In the past ten years, an eastern conference team has gotten the number one pick 7 times, the west 3. With a win in their last game the suns will be the second team ever (since the expansion) to miss out on the playoffs with 48 wins, joining the warriors. I’m all for getting a high pick, but with the owners clamoring for more parity between teams, when it obviously doesn’t exist between the two conferences, and hasn’t for years, eastern conference teams will continue to dominate the high draft picks. Parity does not exist in this dojo.

  55. Apparently, if it was up to some fans, and following their “logic”, there’d be a handful of NBA teams with legit title hopes playing to win, and all the other teams would be trying to lose every game in the hopes of a #1 lottery pick. The Lakers entered the season trying to make the playoffs, but some really thought all along they should have tanked the entire season. It’s just so silly, I wonder how adult human beings can think that makes sense, and that the league could have any legitimacy that way. Nick Young played like a man last night. Like a pro. He’s a genius, if we’re comparing to some of the moronic stuff written on the Internet. Guess that’s the difference. He makes millions playing the game. Some can only attempt to write about it.

  56. Agreed The Dane and rfen. If anything, Nick Young made me want to keep him in our roster even more. He plays with pride, passion and isn’t afraid to step up for his teammates, even if they won’t step up for him (remember the incident with the Suns?). This is a stupid system that doesn’t work that well for the NBA. I understand that the logic in american leagues is different from the one in Europe, but the influence of one player in the game is so much that losing cannot be rewarded. And because of that, parity in this league will never work as the NFL since it’s easier to have a swing from 4 wins one season to 13 wins the next due to improvements in the roster and SoS. I would severily decrease the odds of winning the lottery for the teams with the worst record…

    So, to answer the above question:

    Nick Young over Jodie Meeks in a heartbeat.
    Xavier Henry over Kent Bazemore, but this one is closer. I just saw more of Henry than I did of Bazemore…

  57. Not sure I buy the idea of MDA not knowing the details of the lottery. It might make him sound clueless and might rile up some fans, but knowing too many details wouldn’t sound great either. It’s that “Tanking? What tanking?” idea. Do you really want your coach quoting tiebreaker info?

    And does anyone seriously think this subject hasn’t been discussed on the team and in the organization? These guys don’t live in a vacuum.

  58. Warren Wee Lim April 15, 2014 at 4:46 am

    Draft position matters, but history has proven that its a crapshoot. The 11th seed Magic went on to win Dwight Howard. The 9th seed Bulls won Derrick Rose. Utah traded for the 3rd overall pick and got *only* Enes Kanter. Nets traded the 6th overall pick that became Damian Lillard.

    Here is a list of the 6th overall pick in the last couple of seasons:

    2013 – Nerlens Noel, NOP (traded to PHI)
    2012 – Damian Lillard, BKN (traded to POR)
    2011 – Jan Vesely, WAS
    2010 – Ekpe Udoh, MIL
    2009 – Jonny Flynn, MIN
    2008 – Danilo Gallinari, DEN
    2007 – Yi Jianlian, MIL
    2006 – Brandon Roy, POR
    2005 – Martell Webster, POR
    2004 – Josh Childress, ATL

  59. Well if you look at that list, then it is obvious that picket at #6 is usually not the best way to grap a franchise player.

  60. @rr

    Why is it that people in the US always compare with football and baseball??? Why not look around, the rest of the world is here too and nowhere else do people accepte rewarding losing? Just because football and baseball is even worse, does not mean the system is good.

    Play a tournament for the #1 pick during the first round of the playoffs. Give it to the team with the best record outside the playoffs, or just rewar every team with a #1 pick every 30 years, or have a lottery with every team outside the playoffs with equal odds. There are lots of ways to improve on this.

  61. When people here will understand that the odds of getting a franchise player thru the Draft are minimal? I be happy if we get a good player on the draft, not the next Kobe or Magic because i really really doubt that is going to happen. And excuse the Lakers for beating a team they were supposed to beat for a change, how dare they. Nick Young was a beast last night.

  62. If the Lakers want to take advantage of kobe’s window or want to win sooner rather than hope to develop young talent….they will most certainly trade their draft pick along with a package to Minnesota for Kevin Love then sign someone like Eric Bledsoe. The Lakers have very nice stretch shooteres and role players that each have complimentary skills. I see this team competing for a top 5 finish next year.

  63. Is not MDA’s job to know the odds of the draft, neither is Nick Young job of losing games on purpose. Im ok with the losses as the team is injured and without a lot of talent, but to think that the team will throw games on purpose because a damn ping pong ball, the team lost 7 games in a row before this win and like 11 of the last 14, what the hell you people want? I mean seriously? really? I am ashamed for real whoever think we were getting the next franchise player if we get a top 3 pick is just stupid im sorry. This bunch of 1st year college players might turn into good players but Lebron or Durant they are not. The most overrated event in sports year in year out is the Draft, they hype these players and ocassionally a handful of them turn into good players, a couple every 2 or 3 or 4 seasons might turn into franchise players. I be happy if we get a solid player that can help the team for years to come but if people are waiting for the next Kobe or Magic or Worthy in that Draft, well you are in for a huge dissapointment.

  64. Actually kind of refreshing to see Nick Young still playing his heart out and the team showing a bit of pride.
    We’ll still draft relatively high and there’s no guarantee of anything no matter how high we finish.

    Dantoni’s semi-ignorance makes sense too all things considered. He’s done a fairly decent job of keeping his sense of humor considering he probably knows he’s about to get the axe.

    Pau’s professionalism and unselfishness clearly highlights Kobe’s obvious lack of same.

  65. If you mean by Kobe’s selfishness that he wants to win a championship then I’ll take that anyday over a company man who would never pressure and criticize management even in the interest of excellence.

  66. Now Kobe is “selfish” because he is not with the team. He earned the right to distance himself from this bunch. I guess he wasnt selfish when he helped bring those 5 chips to the team and played thru a myriad of injuries that would had benched a lesser man. If he dont want to be around the team so be it.

  67. Ah…the joys of irrational fandom…and don’t try to tell me the numbers back you up. Right now, a lot of what I hear is frustration from fans who think they are entitled to win every year. Absolutely no club can do that, but the Lakers do better than most. Now that we are down this year – certainly in part, due to a historic run of injuries over the last two years – we fans are looking over the abyss and seeing only a black hole down there.

    Mitch has proven he knows how to run a front office over the years and I choose to enjoy good performance – Nick Young, Jordan Hill, Jodie Meeks, Wesley Johnson – last night and hope these players can be retained for next year.

  68. Man, the Lakers internet these days. Swaggy played with some pride for his city, his colors, and that name on the jersey. Everyone understands the lottery implications, but there’s something to be said for not going out like a punk.

    The lottery and the draft are coming, we’ll see how it all shakes out. Until then I’m glad the Lakeshow isn’t simply rolling over. Now lets go out there, whup on the Spurs, and get this terrible season behind us.

  69. My wish list for this offseason and future ones: Keep Pau; keep pick if top 4, otherwise trade for role player; keep Hill; keep Farmar (if cheap); go after Lowry hard; next year, go after the other Gasol; part ways with Mike D and get an interim coach (Rambis or Scott) while we secretly make moves for Thibbs or get a coach that understands next year will be garbage (again), but believes in the long-term plan.

    My nightmare scenario: We sign Melo; do not sign Pau; get K Love only to have him sit on the bench 80% of the time due to injuries; Kobe demands a trade (again); people keep chanting “we want Phil” at games

  70. rr – To piggy back on your point, I would argue that a better system (if parity is what you wish for) is a system where the top pick goes in order based on record of the teams that missed the playoffs, with the rest of the picks being assigned in reverse order to the teams that made the playoffs. I would also institute a policy where the NBA is obligated to force the sale of any team that finishes in the bottom of the standings more 4 times or more in any 10 year moving window. I think that this would eliminate the “tank” mentality, while helping teams that are on the cusp of greatness get there quickly. Of course, this is based on the assumption that this is allowed under the rules of the owners agreements with the NBA.

  71. The Lakers couldn’t lose to that sorry team if they tried. Jazz are abysmal and should be sold and moved to Seattle. Anyone hating on Nick Young, Meeks, Hill et al, should find another sport to watch. It’s one thing for a front office to strip a team down to nothing in order to lose big, but quite another to expect professional athletes with nothing to gain by losing to deliberately do so. I don’t even blame D’Antoni, who also has nothing to gain by losing. And props to our front office, who clearly intimated nothing to D’Antoni about the benefits of throwing this game. We are better than that. It’s the league who isn’t. With some luck we beat the odds and move down in the picking order. The way forward is going to be through asset acquisition while preserving cap space. A tricky wicket but it is the hand we have to play. Lakers forever!

  72. KEVIN DING ?@KevinDing 1h
    “Making matters worse for D’Antoni, he did not understand the lottery implications of Lakers winning. Thought it didn’t matter.”

    Make matters worse? My respect for D’Antoni goes up. His job is to coach, not waste his time on lottery implications. The lottery has no bearing on any coaching decision he makes. Just like it matters nothing to the players. Gotta see it from their perspective.

    While I don’t like the way the Lakers have played the game this season, I think D’Antoni believes in what he’s doing and puts the work in. If he’s back next year, I hope they give him some talent, they stay reasonably healthy and make some kind of run at having a respectable season. It’s going to take some patience to see the Lakers back on top.

  73. I’m concerned that falling out of the top five or six spots would increase the odds that we look at trading the pick for Kevin Love, as Chris Y suggests. I can see how this could work for the Wolves, though it’s far from ideal; maybe they could package the two picks and move up to grab a guy from the “franchise” group. (Though knowing the Wolves’ draft history, that’s a dubious proposition at best.)

    It’s harder to see how this would work for the Lakers, beyond the obvious “compete during Kobe’s window” idea. We would still lose our best opportunity to acquire not just young talent, but cheap young talent. A core of Love/Bledsoe/aging-and-coming-off-a-major-injury Kobe, plus whatever flotsam and jetsam would fit under the cap, would be a potential 50-win team right back in cap hell and without any real claim to elite status, IMHO.

    That’s compared to Love/Kobe/lucky lottery pick and another FA next summer — which I still think is the better option. You have to pray the guy you get this year is elite (and that Love wants to come to L.A. next year), but that’s where we are.

  74. When people here will understand that the odds of getting a franchise player thru the Draft are minimal?
    ==

    Everybody understands that. People just want a better shot to get a good player. That’s it.

    As to changing the system, all systems have flaws and issues, and the suggestions made by Dane and Manny, or variants thereof, have been made many times by various people in various places. All of them, including “The Wheel”, would have flaws, issues, and unintended consequences–as do the systems in place in overseas leagues in various sports, like the relegation system. And I don’t think a system where owners were forced to sell given certain competitive conditions would pass any league voting structure.

    Basically, this type of system gives a bad team in a small, cold-weather market, like Utah and Milwaukee, its best shot to land a franchise anchor. People may not like the trade-offs for that, and I don’t either to some extent, but it is not irrational from a commercial POV given the nature of NBA basketball and NBA talent, and the NBA CBA. But there probably will be some changes over the next few years, given that ESPN types and others are complaining about it pretty loudly now.

  75. I think there is basically zero chance that Minnesota will trade Love anywhere before the deadline, unless he comes to them next week and says, “I am leaving even if we win the 2015 NBA Title.” And I don’t think, based on what I have read, that they would even briefly consider trading him to the Lakers for a deal built around the 6th pick in the draft.

    As to Nick Young and Mike D’Antoni, I have no problem with Young’s wanting to win that game last night, but it is an outgrowth of the team the Lakers FO designed, for better or for worse. In his interview with Sam Amick, Mitch said that he thought this team had a shot to get “into the 40s” in wins and compete for a playoff spot, and while I don’t believe a lot of what public figures say in public, I do believe that. But the problem there goes back to what many, including me, said in preseason: the Lakers’ absolute ceiling with this group, if everything broke right, was probably about 44-38. Given the age and injury issues with Nash, Pau and Kobe, and the general thinness of the talent, 33-49 or so was much more likely, and of course if a lot of things broke wrong, as they have, the team was going to crater into the 20s in wins.

    But players like Young, Hill, Meeks, Farmar, and Kaman are going to have some big nights sometimes–that is why they are in the league. And the team’s few wins late in the year resulted from that. Luck, as Branch Rickey said, is the residue of design.

    As to what this means, if anything, time will tell. But I am skeptical about any arguments suggesting that Nick Young’s pride and passion etc, etc. will help get the franchise back to relevance over the long haul, and I think Young is probably a bit redundant on a team that is still, for better or for worse, going to be focused on Kobe Bryant, assuming that he is physically able to play.

    That said, I have enjoyed the fact that Nick Young clearly loves being a Laker.

  76. jerke’s point is right. Utah’s core is under contract for next year, and even Hayward is a Restricted FA, and all those guys are 21-24. Young, Meeks, Hill, Johnson, and Farmar are all UFAs who are 26 or older. Big difference. Last night’s result was a result stemming from team design and recent team competitive arc, on both sides.

    No way to know yet what it will mean, if anything.

  77. Fern: Kobe should at the very least been there for fan appreciation night. I don’t see it as a “selfish” gesture, rather, more of a disrespectful gesture toward the fans. As far as not being on the road w the team, I can’t say I blame him. He was injured so early in the season that he really has not bonded with any of the new guys. So he likely doesn’t care if a bunch of one and dones like him or not.

  78. rr: I agree with the idea that it’s pretty far-fetched the Wolves would trade Love, especially for a 6-10 lottery pick. The small advantages of doing it now, if they believe he’s not going to re-sign, would be to avoid the Minnesota version of Dwightmare, and — by getting two lottery picks, they might have a chance to move up to get one of the top guys this year.

    That said, I have some faith that Minnesota will save the Lakers from what I think would be a shortsighted move, window or no window for Kobe.

  79. easy to be classy when you win…….Right..Kobe…

  80. Manny

    Nash shows up
    Rose show up

    Neither are making $31 million to go out and shoot commercials and sell over priced shoes .

    Sorry but that is very disrespectfull in my view.

    Pay me $31 million and I am at every practice and game as the face of the franchise and highest paid player in the NBA .

  81. rr im referring to the people that are so dismayed about the win last night because it close the door on the next super duper top 3 franchise player that is coming thru this draft. As the NCAA season went along i was less and less impressed with the talent. There is potential there but those guys proyected at the top, i dont see one of them being a potential game changer franchise player. They could be good players another cog in a competitive team, not much else. Like i said a 1000 times before i be happy if we get a decent player out of that draft. I dont expect a lot more than that.

  82. If Kobe dont want to sit with this team,thats his prerrogative, after he has done for this team for 17 years playing hurt not sitting out games because he is “tired” winning championships injured people have the gall to call him out because he is not in the bench for a handfull of games and *gasp* fan apreciation night, please. Kobe is never been the most warm and cuddly teammate he is about winning as it should be. He sat on that bench long enough on civilian clothes and his despair and his fury as the team sank was evident. Yeah lets have him on the bench shooting death stares to MDA and the rest of the team when they allow 140 points and get outrebounded by 20 on an almost nightly basis. The press would love that. He needs to stay away and heal he dont owe us jack at this stage of his career. He has put the work and effort his entire career.

  83. rr: “Basically, this type of system gives a bad team in a small, cold-weather market, like Utah and Milwaukee, its best shot to land a franchise anchor. People may not like the trade-offs for that, and I don’t either to some extent, but it is not irrational from a commercial POV given the nature of NBA basketball and NBA talent, and the NBA CBA.”

    I agree. There are no ideal solutions, at least that I can think of. If one wants some equality in the chances teams have to compete on a high level, we must have a system in place that helps small market and less attractive cities acquire some of the best young talent. Even with a salary cap, the big markets are going to have a clear advantage in signing the big free agents. I’ve heard the argument that the pro sports leagues win by having dynasties that attract more attention, but I think these arguments tend to be made by fans in large markets. Personally, I prefer competitive integrity, where winning is a larger accomplishment earned through brains and effort rather than having an advantage going in. Unfortunately, it happens that teams have been helped greatly by the high draft picks they earned by losing, and teams have been helped simply by being in a large market. Hopefully, there’s a balance found.

    While I think there’s some legitimate concern that the lottery is spoiling the game, encouraging fans to root against their teams, and maybe weakening the trust they have in the league, the reality is not as bad as all the handwringing suggests. What will make the NBA viable and strong is that organizations have incentive to win, want to win, that coaches coach to win, players play to win, and fans pay to see good competition. There is more to the game than championships, though that’s the ultimate goal for every individual team. The playoffs this year, at least in the West, offer some fantastic competition, so if the East can improve, we should see a healthy league in the future. Most of the teams that didn’t make the playoffs at least didn’t just give up.

    It’s hard to appreciate the larger picture when the Lakers are not a top team, but I’ll continue to root for them if they continue to respect the game. The next Laker championship should be harder earned, rising from the bottom without some of the advantages they’ve had in the past. I’m just hoping it happens in my lifetime. :)

  84. Fern,
    If you want a “decent player” in the draft then you wanted the Lakers to lose last night. That would give them much better odds of gettig a too 4 pick which would give them much better odds of getting a “decent player”.

  85. Never fear, don’t fret, the Lakers will be a lock for a lottery pick next year, as well.

  86. Ko: My point (poorly made) is that we should be more concerned about the disrespect Kobe showed the fans by not making an announced appearance, rather than the disrespect to his teammates, as most if not all of his teammates will not be around next season, and those that may come back (Nash, Pau, Farmar, Hill), already have established relationships/repoir with Kobe.

    But to be clear, I am furious that he did not show up to say “Thank You” to the fans. Very low class on his part – regardless of how frustrated he is regarding how the season turned out. I hope for Kobe’s sake there was a valid reason for him to miss the game. Just wait until Simmons or Woj have an opportunity to write about this. There’s a storm of criticism coming that was entirely avoidable by Kobe. SMH.

  87. Im ok with the losses, i dont want the team to lose period, any top 10 player on this draft have the “potential “to be decent. We dont know how the team has end up in the Draft, teams with better records have been lucky enough to get the #1 pick, the important thing is draft right no matter the placement. The draft is only one tool in the rebuilt.In this “loaded” draft we are going to end up with a top 8 pick and im fine with that, no need to whine about beating a team thats even worse than ours snapping a 7 game losing streak mind u, and then suggest that the freaking Lakers should throw games for a ping pong ball. Thats assinine and disrespectful.

  88. By the way, Fern, you are in very good company.

    The Logo doesn’t think this year’s draft is all that, either.

  89. R,
    Unless the Lakers get a top 5 pick they lose it. So I guess people (including me) will be rooting even harder for tanking next year.

  90. R

    They have no 1st founder next year i think.

  91. Aaron is correct. The pick traded in the Nash deal is Top-5 protected. That is yet another reason that the FO can’t miss on this year’s pick.

  92. Unless the Lakers get a top 5 pick they lose it. So I guess people (including me) will be rooting even harder for tanking next year.

    Aaron is correct. The pick traded in the Nash deal is Top-5 protected. That is yet another reason that the FO can’t miss on this year’s pick.

    ————————————————————–

    Wow, that Nash trade really paid off didn’t it?

  93. Aaron: As we have discussed before, the multi year tank has merit, however I also understand those who want to root for wins, as I do not like tanking myself. I have never quite seen the logic in tanking this year and then struggling for a playoff spot next year. The tanking logic is the same. Unless you put together a young team that will gradually grow and the Lakers will hardly have that.
    Draft Position: I find it enormously amusing that the discussion of the Lakers draft position revolves around “6th”. For you newcomers I used to write that about once a day during the Mike Brown era. We were doomed to have the “6th” best team in the league. Well – I got the “6th”right, as well as the “doomed”. The amazing thing about the spot we are in is the monumental task it would be just to get back to “6th”. Then the distance between that and #1 is even greater.
    Craig W: “we fans are looking over the abyss ” Actually, we were looking over the abyss a couple of years ago. We are now at the bottom of a hole wondering how to get out. Also – you are correct that we can’t win every year, however before this bad run, we did win every fourth year, and go to the Finals every second year over our entire history. If we do not get there next year (safe bet), then it will already be the second longest streak in franchise history.
    How We Got Here: 5 things: VETO, Mike Brown Hire, Mike D’Antoni/Phil Jackson fiasco, Dwight Howard debacle, Steve Nash deal. And we have added a “6th” to make sure we stay here for a while – the KB extension. While I look forward to the day MD is no longer our coach (imagine that), I also fear it, because it will be an opportunity to put #7 on the list.

  94. I’m amazed by Kobe’s athleticism.
    His work ethic is second to none.
    His will to win is awesome.
    Earlier in his career he was super clutch.
    His overall career point total is a clear reflection of his brilliance.

    Kobe was also voted, I read recently, one of the least popular players in the league. Guys don’t want to play with him.
    Why?
    Because he’s not exactly about Team.
    He talks about wanting rings like it makes him special.
    Yeah he’s special – but everyone wants rings.
    Every player wants to win.
    Some guys can win without making their teammates miserable in the process.
    Magic Johnson did.
    Lebron has two rings now and he’s not done yet.
    Duncan was one rebound away from a 5th ring last year. You never hear about him alienating teammates.

    Kobe had Shaq for his first 3 rings. He didn’t win them by himself.
    Kobe had Pau and Lamar and Phil for his 4th and 5th.
    One reason Kobe loves Pau is that Pau is a true champion and a gentleman whose ego doesn’t need to be constantly stroked. Pau gladly defers the glory to Kobe. IMO Pau was the best player in game 7 in the 2010 finals. Neither Pau nor Kobe wins those two titles without the other.

    The Spurs are perennial contenders because their system develops role players well and because their superstars take pay cuts for the good of the team. I’m not even sure I could do that! So I find it extraordinary that some players do.

    Kobe’s opportunity to show unselfishness has come and gone. He certainly could have scratched his head before signing this new contract and asked, will this leave $ for Pau to return? For Jordan Hill? And for a FA to help us?
    He didn’t. He tweeted that the FO was ‘smarter than you (the public).’

    And no sooner was the ink dry, Kobe voiced his impatience with the FO and their rebuild plans.

    If Kobe wanted to be unselfish he would have taken less money so the team could afford some new talent to help him get some more rings.

    If you’ve ever played ball with a guy that keeps shooting and never passes – that’s Kobe.
    It’s more fun to watch on TV than it is to play with.

  95. I have never quite seen the logic in tanking this year and then struggling for a playoff spot next year.

    FA recruitment. Houston recruited Howard from 9th in the conference with a 44-38 record. Of course, they had James Harden and some decent guys along with him, but it is unlikely that any big-time FAs will join a team coming off back-to-back 27-win seasons selling Kobe Bryant’s retirement tour and two 20-year-olds as its core assets.

    The Lakers IMO hope to be selling the idea that they are 1/2 way back and if FA X joins up in 2015, they will 3/4. That is why I assume that they will make a big play for Kyle Lowry and/or a RFA; they will be selling that guy and the draft pick as core guys in 2015 and beyond.

    I am not saying that it will work, but I think that is the idea.

    Also, I do not think Kupchak and Buss saw this as a tanking year, as I said above. I think they were trying for 45 wins. That is why Kaman, Young, and Farmar were added to the team.

  96. Craig W: “we fans are looking over the abyss ” Actually, we were looking over the abyss a couple of years ago. We are now at the bottom of a hole wondering how to get out.
    ——————————
    Robert, it may be even worse than that. I’m reminded of what some think happens to objects as they closely approach a black hole. Refer to Wikipedia, using the term “Spaghettification”.

    Oh, and by the way, there’s additional significance to the concept of “6th”: The ring Kobe isn’t getting.

  97. 6th best team in the league. You’re right Robert, that does look pretty far away right now.

    As of today, the Heat and Rockets are tied for 6th best record. The Heat have the mythological three “max contract” type players required to go all the way, while the Rockets have two of those type players.

    The Lakers? Uh …

  98. Warren Wee Lim April 15, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    Craig, being a Laker fan has alot of perks. However, you have to take that with all the fans that are less than ideal in our eyes, including how they think. Its just the way things go.

    I mostly got past this season skating through the idea that it will all be better next year. I believe last season was more painful to watch as the Lakers had real talent and there was no flow to the game. This season was more fun to me because we won games we were not expected to, including last night’s, and that last year we lost ALOT of games we were expected to win. A matter of perspective I say.

    The Lakers are at the tail end of a bad season. I wondered how I’d ever get through that if it happened, but now that it has, I find myself a stronger fan and supporter despite the ugly season.

    To be optimistic despite everything is amazing. I guess I must be some sort of Lakers PR guy. Sorry, such a low-hanging fruit.

    We are at #6 and thats the best thing to assume because that has the best odds of happening at 43.9%. There is also a small 30.5% chance we’re 7 and a combined 4.1% we slide to 8 and 9. The grand prize of #1 overall sits at 6.3%, #2 overall at 7.1% and #3 overall at 8.1%.

    To preview possible players we can draft (and not just assume it gets traded):

    1. Andrew Wiggins – athleticism, length, range, offense.
    2. Joel Embiid – defense, length, potential
    3. Jabari Parker (not declared) – preparedness, offense, range.
    4. Dante Exum – explosiveness, handling, international branding.
    5. Julius Randle – low-post presence, inside scoring.
    6. Aaron Gordon – athleticism, potential, system fit.
    7. Marcus Smart – athleticism, strength, PG play.

  99. JC,
    I need a drink of water after swallowing all that narrative.

  100. I like Marcus Smart. He doesn’t have a great shot. But, physically, he may be the most NBA-ready player in the draft. A few facts:

    Size: 6-4, 200+
    Avg. PPG: 18.0
    FG %: 42.2%
    3-pt. %: 29.9%
    FT %: 72.8%
    Rebounds per game: 5.9
    Assists per game: 4.8
    Steals per game: 2.9
    Blocks per game: .6
    TO’s per game: 2.7

    Several things stand out. On the negative side: his shooting needs to improve. But he’s not horrible. Also, he turns the ball over too much.

    On the other hand, there is no other guard who is averaging 6 rebounds and 5 assists per game and scoring 18 pts. per game for a major college program. Also, he’s built like an ox. And his defense is absolutely intense. This could be something that the Lakers need. His steals per game — 2.9 — is outstanding. Remarkable really. And he’s a leader on his team. He turned 20 yrs old in March. His upside is very good.

    I think, with his physical strength and commitment to defense, he could surprise people. Of the top 7 or 8 draft picks, don’t be surprised if 3 or 4 of them disappoint. But I think Marcus Smart could make the transition from college to the pros as effectively as any other player from this group. We’ll see.

  101. R: Spaghettification: To reply in kind: I believe the Lakers are well within the Event Horizon.
    JC: “He talks about wanting rings like it makes him special” No – wanting them does not make a player special – winning them does. Kobe is who he is. He will never change. He will never-ever be Magic on the court. Magic and KB do seem to agree with regard to their current opinions of the FO however : )
    rr: I think a successful draft pick who plays reasonably well under the right “guidance” would be the best single thing to make ourselves more attractive – I guess that is 2 things : )
    Spurs: I hate the Spurs. I do not care if they play team ball. I do not care if they play the right way. I despise them almost as much as the Celtics. Yesterday, Craig wrote: “The interesting thing about the NBA is that the most successful dynasty of the last 15 years – the Spurs ” and now JC today writes, “The Spurs are perennial contenders “. Enough. The Spurs have gone to 5 Finals in their entire history. Kobe has gone to 7. Pop has 4 rings, Phil has 11 and Riles has 5 (as coaches). We have met them 12 times in the playoffs and won 8 including 4-0 in the Western Finals. We have them topped in every category in spite of our recent futility. However, as I did last year I am recruiting for the anti Spur club. I do not want to hear about how you do not like LBJ. You need to hate the Spurs worse. Yes – I would rather have the Thunder win it, but am rooting for anyone other than the Spurs and that includes the Clippers (who by the way are my 3rd most hated team).

  102. Haha Darius
    Taken as a compliment!
    Most of us need a drink, period.

  103. Warren Wee Lim April 15, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    JC, most of what you said is how media portrays Kobe. Now I don’t claim to know him on a personal basis but to be different you cannot be the same as everyone.

    Tim Duncan, the soft spoken giant who was a rebound away from his 5th ring, will go out in history as the greatest power forward who ever played the game. Hardly someone you compare to.

    Lebron has two, and he’s not done yet. Yes, but there is no assurance that he’ll get even another one. See you when you get there.

    The mystique of Magic Johnson comes with that smile. Only Mona Lisa can top that.

    Kobe is Kobe. He is aloof, he is a loner. He is someone who isn’t content, he hardly smiles. But he is Kobe. Bash him all you like but I prefer to thank him of countless moments I was exhilarated by his play. He is not infallible, but he is a Laker hero. His next contract, while richer than what everyone thinks, is deserved. While that poses a bigger challenge for the Lakers to build a contender in the new CBA is another matter. If you could pay Lebron James 50 million at this point, you would.

    Many people bash Kobe but want to achieve what he has. Many people criticize his personality but can only admire at what he has done. And before you say Lebron is not done winning more championships, the day I quit on Kobe winning is when he hangs those Kobe 14s. Until then.

  104. Funny

    In a year that the Clippers are everything to team play, rebounding, unselfish play, winning snd good coaching:

    The Lakers are none of the above.

    Real Funny?

  105. A little Aaron code breaking for you guys… “NBA ready” means very little upside. It usually wants guys that have already developed NBA body’s. So they are closer to their peak. Guys like wiggins who are the same kind of player as a Parker have a higher ceilings. For when they develope their NBA body” the all of the sudden will have added extra strength and athletisism.

  106. Smart graded out #1 using Kevin Pelton’s metrics, and the stats are not high on Wiggins. So, that is one of those scouts/stats divides. I am on the scouts’ side about Wiggins. Not sure on Smart, but if the Lakers pick 6th, that may be who they end up with. I have doubts about Randle and Gordon.

  107. rr,
    One of the things metrics like when translating college success to the pros are steals, blocks, and rebounds. The fact that Smart is good at two of those things (at least for his position as a rebounder) probably help him. I haven’t watched enough of these guys to this point to have an opinion, but just thought I’d chime in. I should also add that Pelton’s numbers rated Kelly as the 17th or 18th best prospect in the draft and, based off the rookies’ performances this season, that seems about right.

  108. Darius,

    Yes, that is true, and Smart may be a very good pro. That is also part of why the metric analsyis is not keen on Randle–blocks and steals. I have only seen Smart a few times, but I have questions about his shot and his lift at the NBA level. But I think I would take him over Randle.

    The guys I have seen the most are Embiid and Wiggins–but even that is just seven-eight games. I have not seen Vonleh or Exum at all.

  109. J C….
    It’s easy to speculate about how other players feel about playing with Kobe, but I suspect that you are just projecting your own feelings. In the Kobe era, the Lakers have never had the cap space to sign any UFAs, so whether they would want to play with Kobe or not is a moot point. We don’t know why Dwight left… Maybe he didn’t like playing with Kobe, but it could also have involved many other factors, such as state taxes or Achilles injuries or not being able to handle the environment in LA. All he iterated was that he was doing what was best for him and that he wanted to have fun. Maybe he never fully forgave the Lakers’ organization and Kobe for that azz whipping they put on him and the Magic in ’09. That sort of started him on his odyssey around the league.

    I grant you, Kobe does not suffer fools on the court well. He may like someone personally, but unless he senses that a teammate is “all in”, he may have problems with that teammate. I’ve seen Kobe bring out the best in many teammates over the years and have heard many of them speak very highly of him. Pro sports is not a popularity contest. Players are paid to win, not participate.

    And Father Time and injury has dulled the Mamba’s luster. We can all agree that he is closer to the end than the beginning. However, he’s still in the mix. I don’t begrudge him one penny of his salary. I think that the league is skewed too far in the direction of the owners and that Players like Kobe and Duncan should never be asked to take a pay cut for the good of their team. Veteran players who have done so much for the league deserve those salaries. The players may be rich, but the owners are wealthy.

  110. I have weighed in on this before, but I think the main issue with these things is almost always very simple: winning. Shaq and Kobe had already won three times when things fell apart and recall that the team didn’t win in 2003 or 2004. Pau and Kobe made three straight Finals together and won twice. Guys may not like Kobe in the buddy/buddy sense, but IMO they won’t really sweat it that much or want out if the team is elite and they are title-hungry,

    Howard obviously left for a lot of reasons, but I think much of it was simply that Houston, particularly with him on it, is a far better team than the Lakers are and has another All-Star on Howard’s timeline. Howard said himself that he is not a young guy in NBA terms anymore, and he wanted to win, and with Harden and Howard, Houston will be in the mix the next 2-3 years.

    Now, though, Kobe is a huge question mark and the team is really bad.

  111. As the standings begin to set and the dream of a top 3-4 pick dims, the discussion already is under way about who will be there when we likely pick. Maybe I’m unduly optimistic, but I think there will be value at our spot. I’ve watched clips of Smart, and I think his shot will improve with work. A guy who can really defend with his size, strength, length. There is no question about his motor. Upside: a bigger, stronger Kyle Lowry with greater defensive ability. That ain’t bad at all.

    rr: ditto on Randle and Gordon.