Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Spurs

Darius Soriano —  April 15, 2014

Game 82.

Normally at this time of year, I’m wondering about the playoffs. I am looking at match ups, dissecting X’s and O’s, and reviewing tape of the opponent. I am looking at X-factors, wondering about strategy, and imagining how a series might unfold based off the relative strengths and weaknesses of the Lakers and their opponent.

This year, none of that is happening. The Lakers season ends after this game, in the middle of April. The draft lottery is a month away. The draft, two months. Free agency another 10 weeks. In other words, get ready for a loooong off-season my friends.

To be completely honest, I have shifting thoughts about this season.

On the one hand, it’s been horrible. The losing has been insufferable. The injuries and the resulting lineup changes, the double digit defeats and awful defense, the 3rd quarter collapses and crunch time lack of execution. It all runs on loop in my mind more often than I’d like to admit. There are times I catch myself zoning out and thinking about a missed rotation and see the players just staring at each other with a look of “who was supposed to be there?”. It really is sad.

On the other hand, there have been some fun moments that have sustained me more than I’d have thought they could. Opening night against the Clippers. Blake’s dagger over Dwight. Pau and Nick Young, soul-mates in swag. Meeks’ 42 against the Thunder. That 3rd quarter against the Knicks. Those 19 three pointers against the Kings. Finishing with 5 eligible players against the Cavs and still winning the game. Not to mention all the other little moments in games that got me out of my seat (like this, for example). These have been the bursts of light in a mostly dark year. For these times I am thankful even if they represent only a drop of water in the drought.

This season hasn’t been what I’d hoped it would be, but that hasn’t always been a bad thing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been mostly bad. Just not all the way.

It ends in San Antonio, though. The Lakers will play out the string against the Spurs, looking to end the season on a two game winning streak and somewhat of a hight note. This season has been about the little victories and while a win in this game wouldn’t amount to much in the standings — in either direction too, since it wouldn’t affect the lottery — it would give the players a little reward for continuing to go hard even when, beyond personal pride, there wasn’t a lot of reason to do so.

For what it’s worth, after Mike D’Antoni feigned ignorance to the Lakers’ lottery odds after a win over the Jazz, he said his team would win this game. We’ll see if he’s correct, but I like his chutzpah. The embattled coach has had a rough go of it in his near two years coaching the Lakers, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have at least a slight appreciation for his honesty and his want to keep doing things his way — even if that stubbornness could be frustrating.

His fate may yet to be decided, but this year he went about his business the way that he saw fit, even if it wasn’t always popular, even it it wasn’t always what looked to be the best move to outside observers. Whether that works out in his favor when the emperor decides if it is a thumbs up or a thumbs down is unknown, but I imagine the ol’ ball coach will rest easy either way.

As for this game, forget strategy (as if you were even considering the opposite), and just enjoy this game. It’s the last one, after all. This year hasn’t been what many of us wanted when it started last October, but I think we can all pretty much agree now that we’re glad it’s over. Even if we will, though probably reluctantly, miss it when it is gone.

Darius Soriano

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116 responses to Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Spurs

  1. Thank you for providing a steady reference point when the games wheren’t worth watching and the talking heads had no more interest in the Lakers.

    No matter what next year will bring, I just hope the team will be relevant and in the hunt for playoffs and thus really playing to win.

  2. Thanks to Darius again for keeping steady hand at the tiller moderating the board this year.
    Just a carry on from last thread and a +1 on dariuss remarks about rwbounds/steals etc… Hollinger was also huge on those being great carry over traits that well predicted future performance in the NBA. But that’s easy to see as those are hustle/motor stats. A players drive seems to be the one constant thing at this age and doesn’t seem to change very much – certainly not in the years immediately before/aftr being drafted. I think thats prob the main issue w Wiggins. He just doesn’t seem like he’s locked in every game and has a tendency to float or disappear (as in getting knocked out in the sweet 16). The frustrating part is that he then turns it on and can have a dominant performance due to a very short stretch or in a second half but you can’t depend on that performance consistently in the pros. The lakers dont/arw unlikely to hit a home run if they pick at 6, but they need to get something at that pick and I’d rather they land a solid defender who is good for a potential double double every night than trying to land some huge potential guy.

    I’m w jerry west. I don’t think this draft has quite the superstar guys that some of the first 3-4 are hyped to be. 2 out of those top 4 picks I think are gonna be disappointing. Given as a canadian I’m duty bound to cheer for the raps, I’m so glad they didn’t tank out to try and win Wiggins.

    Fwiw, Chris palmer was doing hindsight redrafts today on twitter,

    @ChrisPalmerNBA: 1996 ReDraft: 1. Kobe (12th); 2. A.I. (1st); 3. Nash (15th); 4. Allen (5th); 5. Walker (6th)

    https://twitter.com/ChrisPalmerNBA/status/455950731674009600

    I think I still have that issue of Slam w the foldout draft class poster somewhere.
    Forgot how good that was, second best all time. Take a look – ridiculously talented draft.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/1996_NBA_draft

  3. Wish I was thinking of the Lakers 1st round playoff foe, but instead I’m wondering:

    -if Jimmy & Jeanie learned enough from their 1st season “at the top” to realize they need to put egos aside and actually work together (w/ Mitch) if the Lakers are to return to prominence on the court in a timely fashion?

    -Is there ANYTHING Mitch, Jimmy & Jeanie B can learn that they don’t already know watching the game tonight?

    -Who’s identity will Laker fans know 1st? Our 1st round draft pick or next season’s coach.

    -Does Jimmy B have any regrets signing Kobe to that $48 million salary cap killing contract?

    -Does Kobe B have any regrets signing that “now I know I don’t have a shot in Hell of winning a 6th title here or elsewhere” $48 million contract?

    -Will next season’s Laker high points be limited to Kobe’s return & continued ascension on the NBA all time points record?

    -Where will Pau Gasol play next season?

    -With the exception of the Spurs, Western Conf teams 1 thru 12 are all expected to improve next season. Will the Lakers have a decent shot at a playoff spot or will Laker fans be more focused on draft picks & free agency? If so, as late as April, or as early as February?

  4. It has been disappointing, to put it mildly. All the uncertainty the team faced at the start of the season remains. We can only hope the team does well in the off season and begins its climb back to the top of the mountain.

  5. I hope the Lakers keep Xavier, Young, Meeks, Johnson, Farmar, These 5 really seem to have great chemistry and enjoy playing with eachother all versatile wing players who can play without the ball. If the Lakers keep D’Antoni, retain these 5, a 85% kobe, a top 7 pick, and add an all star free agent, this can be a very very potent team. So lets hope they have a plan, if we get a top 5 pick the tanking was worth it, if not lets hope the Lakers have a plan.

  6. and I agree Darius, Nick & Pau Swag brothers and Steve Blake’s game winner against Houston were my favorite moments, you could even see Blake saying ***& dwight haha afterwards.

  7. Blake’s dagger and the opening night win were the high points, without a doubt. And, that’s it for me…

  8. Thanks for the steady helm Darius.

    I have been a Laker fan for over 50yrs and, while horrible, I have seen worse moments – Kermit Washington having to be dealt to the Celtics to enable him to continue to play in the NBA, for one; Magic Johnson’s retirement, for another.

    The injuries over the last two years are a real statistical anomaly, but they do make me question whether or not the organization should take a fresh look at training techniques.

    Here’s to looking forward, instead of dwelling on what went wrong.

  9. Off topic, but I think some people here will appreciate this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLgaTPUyq94

    Watch through to about 1:10, where Jalen Rose tells Simmons there’s no Lakers-Celtics comparison because “you guys won most of your titles when there were 8 teams in the league”. Simmons has to fight back the tears and quickly change the subject.

    I remember back in 2006 when the Laker haters were at full strength, and Simmons suddenly became a body language expert. He could tell that Kobe was evil by watching his facial expressions on Youtube in slow motion. After 2008, the haters had to scale back their rhetoric to avoid becoming a laughing-stock. Now they think they are back with a vengeance. The sad thing is, in the brave new Jimbo Era, they may well be right …

  10. darius: no time like the present, right? seems back in February, this was the longest laker season ever and yet, here we are, game 82 and am asking myself; how quickly time flies?? somehow, someway, you have kept it all together and that’s why we have the usual suspects here at your site, game in, game out and to the bitter end against Robert’s 2nd most hated team: the spurs of san Antonio, tx.

    I fully expect our lakers to outhustle, outplay and outclass spur’s 4th stringers and yet, like the rest of the season, the result being another setback in the loss column. to me, it’s just been that kind of season.

    ten years from now, we can look back at d’antoni years and say the laker organization has learned a valuable lesson…..or not. only time will tell. for most of us here, it’s the championships that count.

    Thx again Darius for another great year of forum blue and gold guidance.

    Go lakers

  11. So glad this Laker season is over. There were some fun times, and I like the players on this team, but 82 games is enough already. Watching a team constantly torched on defense and making no real progress on that end over an entire year gets real old. If it’s going to be a year without superstars, give me a team like the Bulls any day. Chicago won’t be in the lottery; they have real accomplishment, real inspiration, to build on.

    I’ll just be satisfied that the Lakers appeared to fight with what they had, and despite the system. Next season they need to regain some momentum in the right direction.

  12. O gpt a vested interest in the spurs winming tonight so id rather the loss be the final nail im MDAs career with the lakers …
    Robert do you have those final stats on MDA essentially showing how he was the worst coach we ever had

  13. I was just watching Nash’s Finish Line series again. Hopefully he can get on the floor and put a few final moments together. If tonight’s the last game of his career I’d hope he gets a chance to walk away having made some contribution.

  14. Darius: thanks for keeping the fire burning.

    And this too shall pass.

    Slowly.

    (Too slowly.)

  15. billy shakes said it best – what’s past is prologue. Hope the buss clan has learned that a family business does not always mean family comes before business. It will be an interesting summer, hopefully better than last.

  16. Love Darius’ use of the word “chutzpah”

  17. Parrothead Phil April 16, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    @BlizzardOfOz
    Thanks for the link. Its always great to see Simmons squirm with tears in his eyes.

  18. Shelburne piece of state of the organization:

    http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/10790507/los-angeles-lakers-make-spinning-stop

    “Still, the Lakers plan to take their time making a decision on D’Antoni’s future. A few weeks, perhaps even a month. There are those in the organization who support him and believe he can do better with a healthier, more talented roster. He’s also popular with some of the superstars the Lakers have eyes for in the future, from his time as the offensive coordinator with USA Basketball.”

  19. More Shelburne, and IMO very accurate:

    “But D’Antoni is not just a victim of circumstance or bad luck on injuries…Bryant and Gasol have won titles playing a very different way. Dwight Howard had little appetite for stepping outside of his comfort zone on the court. D’Antoni never figured out how to persuade them to do things his way, which ultimately was part of the job.”

  20. There’s no mention of defense in that article. It’s a glaring omission that’s very common on D’Antoni teams. I like Ramona. She’s a good reporter, but she sometimes lacks the distance needed. That article does not have any real critical voices. And I’m not sure it’s reporting, so it’s a column? It’s a bit fuzzy. She kind of puts out a lot of laker spin and it falls under “opinion.” Sometimes it seems like Ding has a better grip on things but he doesn’t have the same access. I wish Peter Vecsey (or a Vecsey type) covered the team, someone who separates the chicken salad from the chicken you-know-what.

  21. I think Shelburne is pretty well-sourced, so I think her stuff often reflects what the org, or at least some people in it, are thinking, even if I don’t agree with it per se. That is why I think her stuff is useful to the conversation. YMMV. And yes, she does often include her personal opinions.

    I see her as an old-school beat writer, more than as an analyst.

  22. Peter Vecsey? The guy who throws out the most ridiculous rumors (along with the accidental true one here or there) just to see what will stick? You need take Vecsey’s reports with an entire salt mine.

  23. Sorry Darius had to steal this tweet and post it here lol. Exclusive video: Lakers fans gather to talk to Jim Buss about Mike D’Antoni’s job status: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCHnt8NbnPU

  24. I have the feeling this offseason wont be as dull as others. The talk about the Draft who we draft and wathever we do afterward will keep us talking for months. At least the misery is almost over…

  25. vecsey is not perfect, but ridiculous rumors? don’t think so. the guy is well connected and well hated. he calls out bs when he sees it, and he’s right many more times than he’s wrong.

    klove tried to clown him a while ago when vecsey said he wanted to go the lakers. klove said he never talked to vecsey. a few days later vecsey pulls photos of him with klove at a clinic they did together. i’m sure the lakers were mentioned, and pv’s opinion is based on that. who knows if klove has changed his mind since that time, but acting like he never knew vecsey is bs.

    vecsey is just on twitter. the post let him ago about a year ago. he’s not doing it for money. if you know vecsey, he’s not an ass kisser. more like an ass kicker, bordering on being a jerk.

    the quote rr pulled above – and it’s not meant to question/criticize rr – regarding d’antoni’s bad luck/circumstance…sort of begs the question why d’antoni was hired in the first place. a better reporter would have pushed back and said – it’s clear you made a mistake, was it preventable? but it never goes there. that kind of paragraph tells me the lakers are all over that story.

    ramona can’t/won’t do that. not necessarily blaming her based on her compromised position. people talk to her because she won’t come out and blast decisions.

    i’d go with roland lazenby over ramona, and he’s no saint either. he got royally clowned for calling a gasol trade that never happened.

    but it’s not an easy balance. but ramona’s not really a beat writer, more of a hybrid. she’s not required to file every day like a bresnahan or a medina. and her access is not replicated by anyone else, at least as far as i know.

  26. Some interesting FACTS about the Draft that i picked up elsewhere: A lottery pick is an outlier. In the last five years there have been 70 lottery picks. 70. Only 3 have won a first round playoff series (Paul George, Blake Griffin, James Harden). Only 7 have been All Stars (Damien Lillard, Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving, Blake Griffin, James Harden, Steph Curry, DeMar Derozan). Basically what that means is that teams have a 90% chance of their lottery pick being average, like Gerald Henderson, or a bust like Johnny Flynn who is no longer in the NBA. Note to fans: live in reality.

  27. D’Antoni Alert: We have finally reached the end of this abysmal season, but the question will be – have we reached the end of MD’s Laker tenure? An interesting tenure it has been. First a few figures from this season. I spoke last time about the historical season the Lakers are having on defense. Our defensive rating (pts per 100 possessions) was the second worst in franchise history behind only the 2005 Lakers (Rudy T year). For those who think MD ball is “Fun”, and don’t think defense is important, this stat is also kept relative to how the league overall performed that year. It is called “relative defensive rating” . If you line up this stat across our 67 year history: Our 6 worst defensive years ever, contain 5 of our playoff absences (including this year – keeping in mind we have only missed the playoffs 6 times). On the other end, we won the NBA Championship in 7 of our 9 best defensive rated seasons. If you think it is a self fulfilling prophecy – you are wrong – because this stat does not line up at all on offense – this year being a perfect example. Let’s move on to pace, which is also measured historically relative to the rest of the league. Now – common sense dictates that good, athletic teams should play fast, and slow, injured teams should play slow. Not so with the Lakers. MD continued to play fast as if he was in a hurry to lose. This year, we had our second fastest pace relative to the rest of the NBA since moving to Las Angeles (the 72 championship team being the one who was faster, and they had reason to play fast). So let’s see – the only time we played at a faster relative pace was arguably the best team in NBA history. Conviction? I would call it – being stubborn and simply bad strategy for your roster. Even if the Laker’s win tonight it will be the lowest win total and lowest winning percentage since coming to LA,. The 55 losses is an all time franchise record. Now on to MD’s record. Going into what could be his final game, MD’s Lakers record is 66-87 for a .431 percentage. It is the worst winning percentage and the most losses for any Laker coach who had the job for more than 40 games. The man has taken out 67 years of history in only 2 years ! Here are the numbers for every coach in Laker history who coached at least 40 games (sorry – formattng this is not easily possible here).
    Coach W L %
    Pat Riley 533 194 733
    Paul Westhead 111 50 689
    Phil Jackson 610 292 676
    Del Harris 224 116 659
    Butch an Breda Kolff 107 57 652
    Mike Dunleavy 101 63 616
    Bill Sharman 246 164 600
    Mike Brown 42 29 592
    Jerry West 145 101 589
    John Kundla 423 302 583
    Joe Mullaney 94 70 573
    Fred Shaus 315 245 563
    Rudy T 24 19 558
    Randy Pfund 66 80 452
    Mike D’Antoni 66 87 431

  28. Fern,
    One thing we have to take into account is that the worst teams each year make it to the deep lottery. These are often the teams least able to help develop the very young players being drafted today. This is one reason I favor 2-3 years in college – or elsewhere – before a player is eligible for the draft. You will see more success among players drafted high.

    Actually, I like the idea of the 10 worst teams getting two ping pong balls and 11-15 getting one ping pong ball. That way the system is simple to explain, the worst teams are not incentivized to lose, and borderline playoff teams don’t get rewarded for missing the playoffs. Really bad teams get an 8% chance of first pick and other teams missing the playoffs get a 4% chance of the top pick – period and end of story.

  29. ” .. I think we can all pretty much agree now that we’re glad it’s over. Even if we will, though probably reluctantly, miss it when it is gone.”

    Well said Darius and I’m in total agreement. It’s been a custom of mine to DVR a few games during the season that I can watch during the off-season once I get that craving for Lakers basketball. However, TBT, because of the way that this season has played out, I haven’t put 1 game in the stash for viewing during the (Basketball) downtime in the summer. Not 1.

    Sure, we surprised everyone on opening night, but what stands out more, for myself, was the way we were manhandled and embarrassed by our co-tenants the following 3 games. True, it felt grand watching SB’s dagger knock off Houston, but what about us allowing a Dwight-less Rockets team to drop 145 pts (without the use of overtime) against us? Wasn’t mad at all when X-Hen posterized some scrub from the Pelicans, but I wasn’t smiling when D-Wade threw that pass off the glass to ‘Bron for that left handed dunk on Christmas Day.

    I mean, I can go on and on about how bad this campaign has been (being swept by Milwaukee, Robert Sacre, giving up over 140 pts, during regulation mind you, on 3 separate occasions, ..). Although I predicted before the season started that we wouldn’t make the playoffs, I could never have imagined that it would turn out this bad (injuries really sabotaged us). Really looking forward to the off-season to see how the FO goes about rebuilding TTFKATL (The Team Formerly Known As The Lakers).

  30. Note to fans: live in reality

    Sure. Here’s some more reality: there were 24 NBA All-Stars this year. 22 were lottery picks. The exceptions were Paul Millsap and Tony Parker.

  31. And really just one. Tony Parker would be a lottery pick in today’s NBA. Back then European players weren’t properly scouted. And I’ll also add Milsap is really not an all star.

  32. Via PBT. Presented without comment, with extreme restraint.

    Bryant went to France with family members either Tuesday or Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times has learned. The Lakers conclude their season Wednesday night against the San Antonio Spurs….

    Bryant has been in a surly mood since the team’s fortunes started sagging, muttering under his breath at last month’s team photo that he doesn’t like associating with a team so many games under .500.

  33. I stick to the 90% of the picks are either avg or busts. Hope we get a good player out of wherever we end up on the draft. After seeing the NCAA tournament i dont think any of the top 10 players will be a lot more than average. I also favor 2 or 3 years in college before elegible, back when players were drafted after finishing college, teams got inmediate impact players. Now we have ” projects” aka busts/scrubs/too green. Take Hibbert for example, he is touted as this dominant big man, what are his numbers? 11ppg and barely 7 rpg he block a lot of shots ( being 7″2 he better) take Damian Lillard who i really like 42% fg and dont even avg 6 apg and is an All Star!! and those fg% are like that across the board with all these up and comers. My point? These guys are getting drafted too early and is showing, they need to fix this system if i heard the word “project” one more time my head will explode.

  34. ” .. I think we can all pretty much agree now that we’re glad it’s over. Even if we will, though probably reluctantly, miss it when it is gone.”
    ___
    absolutely; and as an aside, it´s nice to be up (at least up to this point) in this one

  35. Good points, Aaron.

    Another way to look at it–most of the very best players in history were picked in the Top 3.
    Getting a guy like Kobe at 13 was an exception, and at the time was an unprecedented move by Jerry West. So, sure, there may not be any franchise guys in this draft, but the higher the pick, the better the chance to get an impact guy. End of story.

    And making guys stay in school longer, although it is going to happen, is IMO weak. The players should be able to get the money as soon as they can if it is there and they want it. The owners’ investments are already very well-protected; they can afford a little downside risk on personnel.

    As to Hibbert and Lillard, either one of them would be the best player on the current non-Kobe Lakers. Hibbert isn’t great, but he is a good defensive anchor and will probably be runner-up DPOY or the actual DPOY. Lillard is a good all-around player who can score. Both Hibbert and Lillard are key pieces on teams that won over 50 games. The Lakers should do so well.

  36. I’ve got a sinking feeling about my half-case of wine.

  37. MD continued to play fast as if he was in a hurry to lose.

    ———

    Thank you, Robert. Overall, a rather devastating picture you paint, even taking injuries into account, MDA managed to leverage the weaknesses of our favorite team to the limit. Isn’t that the opposite of what a coach is supposed to do?

  38. The wines gone bad…. bah .. good job renato (clap, clap, clap)

  39. Double sucking … utah is gonna win tonight so at least we would have been tied with them for 5th if we would have lost

  40. Thank you Darius! If it weren’t forum B&G, I would probably stop following the Lakers. Also because of this forum, there is an emotional outlet for this frustrating season, which probably keeps fans emotionally invested.

    It has been so difficult to watch the Lakers lose. Even worse feeling is to see my kids turning into Clippers fans. I hope Mitch can turn this thing around fast.

    Go Lakers!

  41. As frustrated I was at the win in Utah and the lottery odds, the team has really played hard this year. Based on the roster 27 wins is pretty good….there’s no way they should be a better team than Boston / Utah. MAY THE ODDS BE EVER IN OUR FAVOR MAY 20th!!!!

  42. Let’s see…we were missing our starting PG, 2guard, SF (much of the year), C (some of the year), and a backup wing. That means we were starting our bench, or worse, and we brought in a number of youngsters to examine this year. I’m not sure what we should have expected to happen, but – with all the injuries – I don’t know how much better we should have been, regardless the coach. This doesn’t mean I think MDA should coach next year – we do need to sign some bigs – but putting most of the blame on the coach is being simplistic.

  43. So Renato are you the winner?

    If so email me to set up your winnings.
    Ken@calbevimports.com

    Longest season of my life.

    Can only get better.

    Right?

  44. Can only get better

    We shall to have to hope so. I think it is important to note that except for Sacre’s money, every dollar on next year’s payroll will have been committed to by the team after the death of Jerry Buss. I noticed that Shelburne was actually connecting Kobe’s new deal to Jerry Buss–he was in favor of it, it was discussed before he passed, etc. I expect that we will hear more of that (not here so much, but in general among Buss defenders) if the extension blows up in the Lakers’ faces.

  45. Thank you, Darius, for monitoring the site.

    Robert, that’s the last of your MDA game alerts, you’ll surely have other alerts to post. I look forward to the Kobe alerts next season.

  46. So…Renato wins the wine. Of course, Renato lives over seas.

    Therefore, Renato, if you want me to hold on to your wine until you visit the States, I’ll be glad to do so. You don’t mind if I take an occasional sip, do you?

  47. Overseas?

    Guess I will have to send it to MDA!

    He should have lots of extra time.

  48. …the Buss defenders

    As I understand it, they own the Lakers. I am not sure, but until they sell, they will still be able to call the financial shots – correct me if I am wrong here.

    If we weren’t able to run Donald Sterling out of town, what makes anyone think we can force the Buss family to sell the club?

    My guess, and it is just a guess, but they will do everything they can to build the club into a contender as fast as they can. In that vein, they have a pretty good General Manager working for them and he, too, will be working to improve the club.

    If that makes me a Buss defender, then I gladly accept that title.

  49. If we weren’t able to run Donald Sterling out of town, what makes anyone think we can force the Buss family to sell the club?

    My guess, and it is just a guess, but they will do everything they can to build the club into a contender as fast as they can. In that vein, they have a pretty good General Manager working for them and he, too, will be working to improve the club.

    I have never suggested otherwise on either count, and with a couple of very arguable exceptions, neither has any other poster here.

    I explained my position in detail after Jeanie’s interview. In a typical NBA organization, if the Lakers are still one of the worst teams in the NBA 24-36 months from now, the owner would almost certainly simply fire the GM. With the Lakers, the head of the basketball side is both a part-owner and the older brother of the Team President, so it is an unusual situation. If the Jim Buss FO continues to make major decisions that don’t work, and the team continues to lose, we will see how Jeanie handles that.

    But, like I said, and like Darius suggested, although his views are different than mine are on the subject, spinning the narrative, or talking about context, will no longer really work for those who believe in Jim Buss. It is on him to improve the team now. The old pre-CBA player deals are off the books; Phil is gone, and the Lakers have some cap space and a lottery pick for the first time in several years. Jeanie made public statements saying that Jim and Mitch are in charge of basketball. Even if Jerry Buss wanted MDA, Jim can fire MDA if he so desires now. The context is different, so now everyone will be looking at results. Period.

    I mentioned Shelburne’s statement because it struck me as someone with the team trying to spin Kobe’s extension into being in part a Jerry Buss decision, which is, IMO, a little bizarre and very unsound analytically. Jerry supposedly entrusted Jim to lead the Lakers–even, we would assume, if that meant alienating Kobe. Kobe’s extension is on Jim, and if it works, I will be the first to say I was wrong and give Jim credit. And I hope that happens.

  50. Kobe Bryant ?@kobebryant 10h
    S*** season. Flush it. Forget it #amnesia Next Season will be epic #blackout #bussfam

  51. “No matter what next year will bring, I just hope the team will be relevant and in the hunt for playoffs and thus really playing to win.”

    I’m hoping for 20-62 again. Since the 1st rounder in ’15 is top 5 protected. I’m also hoping that Kobe scores 40 a night, as that would be worth watching while the team goes 20-62. Though I’ll have other thoughts if Lebron signs on.

    Now back to Craig, I don’t think that rr is claiming that we should even begin to contemplate the idea of running Jimbo out of town. I think he is saying that, well, speaking only for myself, I understand that Jimbo & Co. can hold onto the team until after I’m dead, but that doesn’t mean that we have to pretend that we like it and that Jimbo is even a shadow of his father when it comes to running the team. And presumably like rr, nothing makes me want to hurl more than this continual recital of, Dad was for it. As I’ve always said, people can say that, and they do, but they’ve only said it after dad was dead and so he couldn’t say it himself, just as he never said it himself to us all while he was alive. And what bothers me most of all is when some say, Jerry would never speak out, as that would undermine Jimbo. It might. But saying that Jerry was for it should be just as undermining.

    And to be fair, I don’t exactly hate MDA. Certainly not his fault that some decided that it was a good idea to hire a coach with an uptempo style for an aging team. And that’s probably another reason why Dwight bolted, by the way. Meaning, in addition to known commodity Harden over what happens after Kobe, what faith in management was instilled in Dwight when the team hired the exact wrong coach for the players on the team? Is that how Dwight was supposed to get an idea of what happens after Kobe leaves? I can see Dwight driving around LA, looking up at the billboard, chuckling, and saying to himself, Who are these clowns…

    Now for Darius, no rest for the weary, and so some more tape watching for you, so you can give us all a breakdown on what you see as the strengths and weaknesses of those expected to go top 10 in the draft. You can start with Embiid, since assuming that concerns over his back are mollified by time of draft, what with the dearth of quality big men and mere need for rim protection, he seems the obvious choice to go as no. 1.

  52. Darius,
    Thanks for providing a huge assist in getting thru this year.
    You’re the Steve Nash of bloggers.

  53. Hey, I won! Sweet!

    So, because the economy is harsh for everyone, I won’t ask Ko to send the wine overseas since it would be rather expensive. However, if the wine is presented to MDA in a King Joffrey’s way, I wouldn’t be mad… Just saying. Whatever gets him out of here faster… (I’m obviously joking, I don’t wish ill on anyone).

  54. “If we weren’t able to run Donald Sterling out of town”: Why is the word “we” being used here? I for one am not included in the word “we” when it is used in reference to the Clippers. Well – I take that back. “We” hate the Clippers. And if they had a bad owner and a bad coach, “we” want it to stay that way. Unfortunately – “they” have corrected their coaching situation and the owner has perhaps changed some of his ways. Which is exactly what “we” need to do.

  55. Much love to Darius and this community.

    It’s been a “fun” year. Always bleed purple (or blue) and gold; throughout the good times and the bad. We’re who? The fricken LA LAKERS ! and their supporters (roll call please!)

    GOOOoooOOOOOOOOO LAKERS !!!!!!!

  56. Should be the most interesting off season in a long time. I want to see the Lakers bring in some guys who are not minimum salary guys but who aren’t max contract guys either. I would like guys like Lowry and Gortat but I think they are going to get offers a little too pricey. The Lakers would ideally setup an expiring contract to come off with Nash next year to sign an elite player the following year.

  57. Laker decision tree in order of authority:

    NBA League Office – told Jeannie that she may not make basketball decisions
    TWC – More $ invested in the Lakers than the Buss children
    Buss children – Jimmy in charge of basketball decisions
    Mitch – Trying to make it all work
    Laker Coach – Same as Mitch
    Fans- not responsible for any decisions but can vote with their wallets and viewership

    My point is Jimmy does not enjoy the same control over the Lakers that Jerry did. He has more money but less ability to spread it around. Because of TWC, he does not have the luxury of having a few bad years and waiting to get fans back when the team recovers. The Lakers need to inspire their fans this offseason and show a clear path to getting back into the playoiffs.

  58. Baylor Fan: I disagree with the TWC considerations. You imply that they somehow control the destiny of the franchise, but they really have no say in it. Sure, the Buss Children would love to keep their partner happy with them, but its highly doubtful that they (like AEG with Staples Center) have anything to do with the day-to-day of the team, other than send them a check from time to time. For example, the new Laker practice and training facility that is being built on land owned by the team will replace the training facility the Lakers rent from AEG. Certainly, AEG cannot be too happy about that. However, the Lakers need to modernize their facility, which is in their best interest. In short, you keep your business partners happy, but you also must do what is best for the team in the long haul.

    I also disagree with the wideheld belief that the TWC deal has an “escape” clause allowing them to part ways if the team sinks in the ratings or standings. I personally highly doubt that would be something the Lakers agreed to back in 2010-2011 when the contract was negotiated (remember, that we won a chip in 2010 and were serious contenders for the title in 2011 with rumors swirling about DHoward potentially coming here – not to mention the fact that the Lakers are the most popular basketball team on the planet). There may be some financial incentives for the family that are missed, but you don’t agree to a deal as massive as the TWC cable deal without assurances that they will be there fore you in sickness and in health.

    Everything else you say is spot on.

  59. rr: “Another way to look at it–most of the very best players in history were picked in the Top 3. Getting a guy like Kobe at 13 was an exception, and at the time was an unprecedented move by Jerry West. So, sure, there may not be any franchise guys in this draft, but the higher the pick, the better the chance to get an impact guy. End of story.”

    People talk about championships being the only thing that really matters. Well, top draft picks have certainly not been the most important factor most of the time for the team that drafted them, and not a quick impact either. Since 1997, when the Spurs picked Duncan #1, there have been 16 drafts. If you look at the top 5 picks from each year, out of 80 players, only 7 have won a championship:

    #1 LeBron James
    #2 Tyson Chandler
    #3 Pau Gasol
    #4 Lamar Odom
    #4 Chris Bosh
    #5 Dwayne Wade
    #5 Mike Miller

    Only Wade won on the team that drafted him, and the other 6 were in the league at least 8 years before winning their first ring.

    Out of picks 6-10 in that time, another 80 players, 8 have won titles.

    #6 Shane Battier
    #7 Richard Hamilton
    #9 Shawn Marion
    #9 Dirk Nowitzki
    #10 Paul Pierce
    #10 Andrew Bynum
    #10 Jason Terry
    #10 Caron Butler

    Only Nowitzki and Pierce were drafted by the team that won the title, and they were in the league 13 and 10 years, respectively, before winning.

    Of those 160 top-10 picks over the last 16 years, a very small percentage have actually helped their drafting teams win titles. 144 picks have been by teams not winning a title, and most by teams not even coming close.

    The point being here that championship teams have not been built primarily from the draft. There are more important factors, and franchises better understand them before thinking that tanking gets you very far.

  60. This season has finally been put out of its misery. I respect the players for playing hard. You could tell at the end they got weary. There is only so many setbacks a team can take. But these guys showed a lot of pride out there this season. They just weren’t good enough. And they got hit with too many injuries.

    It wasn’t the players who put together a subpar team. It wasn’t the players who insisted on playing a style that alienated their big men. The players on this year’s team showed a lot of heart in spite of so many factors being stacked against them.. That is why I have a problem with Kobe Bryant’s attitude toward the team. Be upset at management. Be upset at the coach. But don’t be upset a guys who are doing their best and coming up short.

    It sometimes seems like Jim, Mitch, Jeanie, D’Antoni, and Kobe got together and said, “What are some things we can each do to make quality free agents NOT want to come here?” Kobe Bryant is legend and will go down as one of the 10 best players in NBA history. But who really wants to deal with a angry, aging star who hasn’t shown he can still live up to his own lofty standards?

    I’ll stop beating that horse. I’ll just say the season was what I thought it would be. Bad. But guys like Nick Young, Jordan Hill, Jodie Meeks, Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar, Xavier Henry, Ryan Kelly, Chris Kaman, and Mr. Pau Gasol showed some real heart out there this season. I’d love to see several of those guys stay. But I wouldn’t blame any of them for leaving.

    As Ken said above, it can only get better. Right?

  61. Jabari Parker is in. Like I said, the annual waffling about whether or not to stay another year in school is nothing more than a rite of spring. All the top guys will be in to secure their pay day.

    If we pick sixth, both Vonleh and Smart are going to very good players at the next level. One or both should be there. It’s good to remember how young these prospects are. It takes time for them to realize their potential, and much of that responsibility lies with the team that drafts them.

  62. Thanks Darius for the great FB&G site that you run. Next year will be better I am sure, it can not be any worse, I would think.

  63. Bryan–it’s a no brainer if those are the two–Smart it is. I’m probably going to eat crow when he turns into an NBA super stud, but I’m an Iowa fan and have seen plenty of Vonleh. I don’t personally understand the hype. He looked very mediocre whenever I saw him. Other than a pretty good performance against Syracuse early in the season, and decent games against Wisky and Sparty late in the year, his other big games were all against subpar opponents like Stony Brook. Against the Hawkeyes he looked terrible, and none of Iowa’s bigs were even all-conference players.

  64. Darius – How about a breakdown of the chances the Lakers pick first, second, third, ect ect ect ?

    I miss the days when an elderly Gail Goodrich could turn into Magic Johnson and an already powerful team could somehow draft James Worthy.

    Yeah, I know, the lottery was designed to “correct” that sort of thing.

  65. rfen,

    You are overthinking it. All I said was that getting a higher pick creates a better chance of getting a good player. That’s it. The Lakers need to get high-end talent through any legal means that they can. Championships have nothing to do with where the Lakers are right now.

    You and some other guys seem to think that the Lakers are sending a huge message to the NBA, the fanbase, and future FAs by winning 27 games instead of 23, and by having guys like Nick Young and Jodie Meeks instead of guys like the ones on the 76ers. And some seem to think that the organization is sending a similar message to future superstar FAs by giving Kobe another massive contract. I think those positions are wrong, but if a big-time FA signs here and says, “You know, the Lakers really showed me something by competing down the stretch in 2014–that is one reason I came here, and they showed me something with Kobe’s extension” I will happy to admit that I was wrong about both issues.

  66. mindcrime: Appreciate your observations. For sure Smart is by far the more NBA ready. Vonleh is the youngest kid in the draft. I’ve looked at clips of both and admittedly, Vonleh is playing against mostly inferior competition. At a young 18, Vonleh has an impressive build with great lower body strength and broad shoulders. 7’4” wingspan. He is considered a good kid who will work hard. Good handle, great shooting mechanics with range. I think what happens now for teams is to see the prospects in workouts. Much is gleaned when a team can observe up close and get the player in drills and scrimmaging against other players/prospects.

    As most Laker fans know, it was Kobe’s legendary workout with the Lakers that sold West on him. Andrew Bynum was also drafted on the strength of his workout with the Lakers. Enough so that the Lakers gambled on what turned out to be a great pick at that spot. The team will get more clarity on who they like through this process.

  67. R,

    Here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NBA_draft_lottery

    Scroll down for chart.

    The Lakers have a 6.3% shot at the first pick. There is a 43.9% chance they will pick 6th, so I suspect that we will be welcoming Marcus Smart or Julius Randle come summer.

  68. Don’t the Lakers have to land a 1-5 pick in order to keep it, courtesy of the Nash deal? Please correct me if I am wrong…

  69. Jane,

    That is in 2015, not this year.

  70. bryan–Appreciate your comments too. I have heard the comments that Vonleh has more “upside” than Smart, and from people much sharper than I—but I guess I’ve never been very good at divining “upside” hence I would be a terrible NBA scout….

  71. R,
    Yes, I will do more draft stuff than I normally do in anticipation of the Lakers’ having a high pick this year.

    RR/Rfen,
    I think there is merit in both sides of thinking, here. Having Young/Meeks vs. the guys the 76ers have, imo, is more beneficial simply because, as rr pointed out, talent is most important. Meeks can be a quality player on a good team. The same is likely true for Young. The Lakers now have a better idea of who these players are and have built a relationship with them via their time with the team. If building a talent base, start with the more talented players and go from there.

    With that said, I think fans who point to the draft and then argue it’s not a fix-all are missing the point. I don’t know any reasonable person making the argument that this lottery pick will be the franchise anchor who is the key guy for championships. That may end up being the case, but arguing for that now is silly. That said, the Lakers need to draft a good player and good players help win games and, yes, titles. Having a good players rights, through his rookie contract, and then having the ability to extend him or use his Bird Rights to offer a max deal down the line will be important in many ways. Arguing otherwise is counter-intuitive to how contenders are built.

    Lastly, I don’t know what FA’s think when choosing a new team. My guess, however, is that it’s a combination of winning, money, location, and the ability for the franchise to sell a guy on the future/organization as a whole (whether that’s via current standings, past prestige, another variable or a combination of all the above). What that means for the Lakers remains to be seen, but I think each FA will be a bit different on the things he values and what goes into his decision. This is purely speculation, but when it’s time for Durant to make his decision, will he look back at his past with the Thunder and remember that when it was time to keep Harden the team punted for financial reasons? Will that then influence him to want to play for a team with deeper pockets? I have no clue and, again, I won’t speculate on what those answers are. But, again, my main point is that some guys will make up their minds using variables that may not make sense to outsiders — at least not fully — and be content with their decision.

    As for the Lakers, the most true thing that can be said about them right now is that they have work to do. A lot of work to do. They have to draft well, spend their money well, and make an organizational decision about how to move forward with their head coach. Those decisions need to, at least somewhat, produce good results in the short term that can be built upon for the long term. Where you fall on their ability to succeed at these things is a personal decision, but that doesn’t change the calculus for them actually having to do it.

  72. Darius,

    I actually was suggesting that I don’t think that guys like Meeks and Young really matter all that much when you are winning under 30 games. That is not a reflection on them, but I don’t see their presence as having that much long-term value in the context of a 27-55 season, since guys in that class are available and are often easier to get cheap when you have good front-line talent in place already.

    Like I have said, though, and Kupchak’s statement to Sam Amick about thinking the team could “get into the 40s” in wins confirms it, I think the FO was trying to have the kind of year Dallas had, and in that context, Meeks, Kaman, and Young made sense.

    As to Class 1 FAs, I think the main thing they look for is winning over a window. Howard, James, Wade, Bosh, Paul, Durant–all of them either moved or stayed put because they saw a championship-ready situation in place that seemed likely to last. I do agree that each guy is different, and IMO Lakers fans need to remember that, and not assume that the Lakers will get guys they want in the future because of their historical track record.

  73. Darius: Really like your third paragraph. This pick is all about asset acquisition. I also would like to hear more from you about the draft and the options going forward. I know you are loathe to speculate; but informed speculation is going to be the lifeblood of this site for awhile and you are too good a writer to not join in the fun.

  74. rr,
    Six of one, half a dozen of the other when it comes to Young/Meeks types of guys. I agree that when you have a quality team already in place, role players will likely come & play at value rates. However, when you have guys like that in-house, it may also be a “the devil you know” circumstance.

    Also, I think there are deeper ways to provide context to a 27 win season beyond saying “these guys were on a 27 win team” and thus tie their value to that. Tracy McGrady was on some awful Orlando teams. Rip Hamilton was some terrible Wizards teams. Rick Rox some bad C’s teams and Robert Horry was labeled a malcontent on that Suns team coached by Danny Ainge. Boris Diaw was a wreck on that Bobcats team before going to the Spurs. Separating player from team performance can be difficult, but it’s also necessary when trying to establish individual value and then applying that to team needs.

    So, sure, they may not have value as a member of a 27 win team, but the hope is that you won’t be a 27 win team for long and the goal is to try and figure out if these guys can help you not be when the context of the team changes.

  75. Also, I think there are deeper ways to provide context to a 27 win season beyond saying “these guys were on a 27 win team” and thus tie their value to that.

    Well, my point there was t that I don’t see long-term value in having Nick Young go off for 41 points to lead a team to win #26. I would have preferred that the Lakers had a few fewer wins and a few more ping-pong balls.

    But, of course, it may wind up working in the Lakers’ favor, depending on how things play out.

  76. rr,
    I better understand your point now. You may end up being correct that the value of a lesser player and his contribution to more losses outweighs the value of a better player who may be part of the team’s future. I don’t know how to measure such things down the road, but it’s interesting to ponder either way.

  77. rfen: I understand your point, but what it really comes down to is that the rings go to the very top players in the league. Meaning the top 1-3 players in the league usually win the titles (again the 2004 Pistons being the big exception). The 16 year period to which you refer has these ring winners Kobe 5, Duncan 4, Shaq 4 (3 w KB), LBJ 2, MJ 1, Dirk 1, Pierce 1, Pistons 1.
    Not that I am saying that the draft is the answer, but ironically, 12 of the 16 rings were won by teams whose primary star (co-star) was drafted by them and was still on the team at the time.

    The draft is not the panacea in the NBA. Having one of the top 2 players is. If anyone has a plan to get LBJ or KD, let me know what it is. All other plans most likely do not result in rings unless you get very lucky and the draft is one source of such luck.

  78. At this point, especially if they can grab a big man in the draft – if the lakers can find someone that can contribute close to a double double every night and play some post d/protect the rim, that would have to be considered a win – especially since that player would be on the rookie contract scale till after kobes contract is done. Comparable production and defensive value from a wing/guard draftee would be fine.
    While a home run would be nice, I think it’s more important that the FO just doesn’t screw it up.

  79. Robert,

    I’d rather look at it another way. Since 2000, 8 different teams have won it all ( 2 Laker teams, 2 Heat teams, Spurs, Detroit, Boston and Dallas). Of these eight teams, three of them did not have a top 2 player (Dallas, Boston, Detroit). That’s 3 out of 8 teams. Having a top 2 player is obviously important, but not crucial. The Spurs were one defensive rebound away from winning it all last year without arguably a single top 10 player.

    What all these teams had in common, however, was great coaching…..and that’s where the Lakers need to start if they want to get back in the hunt.

    As far as gathering enough talent, basketball is a game where one solid role player can turn a contender into a champion….or a fringe playoff team into a contender, etc. The Lakers are in position to add two all star quality players if they choose to go that route. If the Lakers had been healthy, they would have likely been a fringe playoff team. You add a couple all stars to this roster and a solid coach, and they could easily contend next season. It’s hard to be optimistic with Jimbo as the main team builder, I know, but it can be done.

  80. If the Lakers draft a player who can get a double/double every game…but loses Hill..Then its a push….right?

  81. @gene, my personal view is that hill is overated for a variety of reasons but especially his defense. If they can grab someone that can get a double double and play help defense and protect the rim then that’s definitely a plus. Plus the fact is that even if they drafted someone exactly like hill and retained him, it would still be better than keeping his for the mere fact that the pick would be on the rookie wage scale for the next 3 years – which given kobes allocation of $ means every cent is going to count

  82. One other thought. Despite all the grumbling about pace of play in regards to the bigs and mdas offense, they all benefitted as well as all of them did have fairly decent offensive seasons and outbursts. Kaman and hill could make the case that they deserved more playing time- but when they did play it wasn’t like they didn’t get their fair share of touches. Even pau admitted in his presser that him and mda managed some sort of compromise and he was able to play fster than he initially felt comfortable. This isn’t a defense of MDA. Just saying that the bugs (when they did play) may have gained just as much inflation to their stats as their wing teammates due to elevated pace of play. For that reason, aside from Farmar and meeks who’ve shown an ability to at least consistently compete on the defensive end – I’m leery of keeping anyone else on the roster – including Pau, who realistically if he really wants to try and play 5 more years- isn’t going to waste the next couple on a rebuild here

  83. The one guy I feel bad for is young, because while is sorta a kobe lite (except friendlier) – and deserves a bigger pay cheque and a reasonable amount of time- he stands the most to lose when kobe returns as they have basically the same shot selection and young isn’t particularly strong defensively either. You can only have one on the floor at a time really and you know kobe won’t sacrifice his mins for team good. My feeling is that while the fo and fans might feel he certainly deserves a better deal – how much can they afford to pay a guy that will have to sit behind kobe – especially w the cap the way it is and kobe’s salary – and he ends up going someplace else. Which is a shame because he legit wants to be there and like meeks carried himself as a professional and never got down on the situation and tried to be positive the whole season.

  84. ” If anyone has a plan to get LBJ or KD, let me know what it is.”

    Robert:

    (a) draft a plus to all-star pick this draft;
    (b) finish bottom 3 next season, to hopefully make it the worst of luck of the draw to finish outside of a top 5 pick, then draft another plus to all-star;
    (c) draft a Serge Ibaka type the season after with a mid-1st rounder;
    (d) sign Durant. Tell him, to borrow from Darius, that the team has the money to resign its players, unlike OKC with Harden. Tell him also that you’ve got the above players. Then tell him that even though you’ve got the above players, if he’s good to go with it, you might flip one of them for an expiring contract before the upcoming season’s trade deadline, so you have the CAP room to sign Westbrook the following summer (depends on how you view the three in relation to Westbrook nearer the time). And I have no idea what the tampering rules, and if they even apply, but if possible the team should line up some folks for some additional endorsement deals, business ventures, and perhaps even in a bit role in a Hollywood blockbuster.

  85. Anybody have a thought about Kobe not showing up to fan appreciation and Nick having to speak instead?

    Also Kobe leaves for France before season ends.

    Is that a show of leadership or a show of disdain to us fans and the organization?

  86. LT mitchell: “What all these teams had in common, however, was great coaching…..and that’s where the Lakers need to start if they want to get back in the hunt. ” You and I have always agreed on this : )
    Slappy: You are espousing the virtues of a multi year tank. A possible plan that I have brought up before. I do not like tanking but this could be the only way. I like what you have written. Aaron will also be in favor. rr on the other hand may weigh in otherwise : )

  87. @ko his tweet sorta said it all. He just wants to pretend this season didn’t exist. Doesn’t help his image as a quality teammate that’s for sure

  88. KO, you still whinning about that? Get over it!! I could care less if he shows up on freaking fan apreciation night while injured, i think he has given us pretty of fan appreciation nights during his career. I dont give a fig how warm and cuddly he is or how much if a jerk he is as long as he produces results in the court and have he ever huh? MJ was one of the biggest A-holes of all- time same as Kareem who i think it was even worse and anybody cares about that?

  89. The Lakers didn’t tank this year–they just had a pretty bad team that they thought was an OK team, a team made somewhat worse by injuries, so talking about a “multi-year tank” is IMO inaccurate. Also, the Lakers don’t have enough draft picks to really make that a viable approach.

    As far as tanking next year, if they wanted to do that, then they should have not re-signed Kobe. I think it is quite possible that the 2015 team will be bad enough to get a Top 5 pick anyway, but I don’t see it as a part of a deliberate plan. If they win 25 or so games again it will IMO be due to bad luck and bad decisions.

    As to the overall philosophy–that you have to have a Top 3 player, and everything else is more or less a waste of time–there is certainly truth in it, but you can’t realistically run a franchise that way, for a few reasons. This is something that Robert obviously understands intellectually, but seems at times to have an emotional block about, and I think this is why he is dead wrong when he says that the guys Jerry West picked up in the 1990s to put together a competitive team did not do much to help land Shaq. I think West’s work as GM is one of the things that set the stage for getting Shaq. Again: guys like this, and even guys a step or two down from them, like Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony, do not want to join bad teams when they have a choice about it. Nothing is more obvious than acknowledging that everybody wants to win. You have to build your team accordingly.

    One reason for my statement above about franchise-running is simple business reality: the Lakers can’t shut down the franchise until Kevin Durant is a FA. Another is that by definition there are only 2 or 3 of these guys around at any one time, they are not available every year, and getting them is often in large part a matter of luck. James, Duncan, and Shaq were all no-brainer #1 draft choices.

    So…I think the way to think about it is that you have to try to get a couple of Top 10-20 guys and build around them, and you have to take every move you make seriously and get as many assets as you can, so you can be in the mix and move on a big name when the time comes. This is what Houston did, and I think it is the Lakers’ best shot–but it will take both luck and brains to get from here to there any time in the next 3-4 years.

  90. Jerke,

    I agree with a lot of what you said about Young, but the stuff about Kobe not sacrificing mins for the team good is exactly the kind of stuff that people who don’t respect either his game or his accomplishments say about Kobe that is dead wrong, because it assumes that he is an all-powerful force for evil who can do anything he wants. Kobe isn’t the coach, so if the coach, whether it is MDA or someone else, wants to play Kobe 28-32 MPG and Young 16-22 MPG, with a few MPG of overlap a game, there wouldn’t be much Kobe could do about it except complain, and 2014 isn’t 2007. Kobe doesn’t really have leverage over the Lakers any more than they do over him. Also, Kobe can pass and do other stuff enough that you could play Young with him a little. The issue there would be, as you suggest, D.

    Also, while Young did have a good year by his own standards and I get why people like him, I think that some people here are overestimating both Young’s on-court value and the market that will be out there for him. I do not think many teams will be interested in paying Young or in giving him a 2-3 year deal. His main value would be as a bench scorer on a contender–he is actually much more Jamal Crawford, Jr. than he is Kobe Lite–and those jobs are not that plentiful. And Young does not AFAIK have a great rep, except with Lakers fans.

  91. MJ > KAJ on the a-hole index, IMHO

    It’s one area where I think Jordan is the undisputed all time best.

  92. Kobe showing up or not showing up is a media/fans talking point, not one that matters when the games actually happen. Kobe’s rep as a “teammate” or as a guy fans root for will almost entirely be driven by how he helps the team win games through good play. rr has said this often and it’s something I wholeheartedly agree with (and have said many times myself): winning usually cures all ills.

    Fans like winning. Players like winning. When a team wins, pretty much everyone is happy, or at least has to act like it because who wants to be the selfish prick complaining about things when their team is winning? (No one.) If Kobe is back next season approximating the player he was for the 2-3 years before this past season, he will be a foundational player who helps the team win. And if that occurs, you won’t hear many complaints from fans or from teammates about him — at least not in ways that people don’t already complain about him. The guy is polarizing, after all. Haha.

  93. What all these teams had in common, however, was great coaching…..and that’s where the Lakers need to start if they want to get back in the hunt.

    ———

    Totally agree, but with one added point — teams need stability upstairs too. I’m not a Jim Buss basher, nor am I wholly convinced he’ll do well long term. But what’s been most upsetting, albeit expected, during the recent shift in power following Jerry Buss’s death is that the perception exists that the Lakers front office/ownership isn’t what it was before. In the past, that concern hasn’t been a factor for decades.

    That perception is deserved — Jim and Jeanie haven’t won without dad yet. But hopefully the infighting will go away, or quiet down, and a better semblance of order will emerge. Because it’s that kind of stability that has fueled the Spurs and Heat in ways that may not be as visible as a Duncan bank shot or a LeBron breakaway, but it damn sure enabled those guys and others to thrive.

    As for great coaching, I’m not sure where the Lakers will go to find that next. I am not sold on D’Antoni and wouldn’t be upset if he left, so long as the next coach is someone who can become a building block for the aforementioned quest for stability. We don’t need to see another retread like D’Antoni or Brown again, in my opinion. But before Mike D is sent packing, ideally the guys upstairs have a good name in mind to replace him. If not, it’s change just for change’s sake.

  94. rr> “rfen, You are overthinking it. All I said was that getting a higher pick creates a better chance of getting a good player. That’s it. The Lakers need to get high-end talent through any legal means that they can. Championships have nothing to do with where the Lakers are right now.”

    I explained what my point was. It was in response to many things that have been written here. I realize that higher picks are a better chance of getting a better player. My point was that the chance of getting a better player is not the stuff of what champions are made. Championship organizations exist by always striving to be the best they can be with the cards they’ve been dealt. They don’t depend on the lottery. They don’t tank games, much less seasons. My point was that most of the high picks the last 16 years didn’t make those high-drafting teams champions, or not until many years later when so many other factors contributed. Every good organization has bottomed out at some point and got themselves a top player in the draft. That doesn’t make it their strategy.

    Of course, the Lakers want to get the best player they can in the draft, and it’s better to have a 6-pick than a lower one. They’ll have the pick they get because that’s where they happened to end up in the standings and the lottery. They didn’t plan for it. They didn’t get a better pick because they were still a little too good after all the injuries. That’s a positive, perhaps for retaining some players, and that they still are fostering the winning culture they’ve established over decades. If the Lakers are able to get back to the top someday, I believe part of that is them knowing it’s not about trying to get more ping pong balls.

  95. Best to focus on the best possible pickups for 2014FA.

  96. Listening to Pau’s exit interview has just enraged me ….. it will be hard to watch the team if dantoni is still the coach next year

    No way pau signs, hill walks too which leaves us with a shitty steve nash who will sot more than half the year and a strike out with free agents this year …and dwight might havw stayed if phil would have made him shaq in our offense instead of a screener for an injured nash under dantoni

    Next year will be worse than the post shaq years

    MAYBE we can design pringle paper bag masks that can be work to games so that the message really becomes clear that dantoni has to go

  97. Fern

    I happened to see it on Sports Nation with Kellerman yesterday. They took a viewer vote and it was 74% aganist. I don ‘t really care but I wanted to know thoughts from Laker fans since the vote was a national one.

    Not a wine this time just a question.

  98. @rr thank you, you were way more articulate than I was regarding young. And I don’t think kobe is evil lol. Just that if he is healthy and productive his production will necessitate him taking the majority of mins, it won’t be as if he demands it. That and the lack of a full time defensive presence from either of those guys make it a hard case to allocate significant mins to Young. And I do agree that there is a lot of over valuing of young and other lakers, and as you said prime spots for young are rare – however I think someone will throw money at him and he’ll have a tough decision to make. Perhaps kobe lite is a bad comparison – though I feel they’re both chuckers/volume scorers – young is prob more akin to Jr smith and that sorta role

  99. R: MJ – he was the worst of all time in that area. That is why he was frozen out and shunned initially by the other superstars. Later however, he was just too good, and when every kid started wearing #23 and he was on every commercial, well then he was thought of as a great guy – which he never was. Kobe on the other hand was from Europe, had a different style, fought with teammates, fought with his coach, and was a braggart all before he was able to back it up fully on the court. Hence people hated him, even though they loved MJ. They are both not what I would call nice guys. Just like Phil. Not a nice guy. A pattern maybe?

    rr: Tanking: The issue with tanking is a subtle one. Saving money one year to allow for a signing the following year is a form of “tanking”. Hence the word “tanking” – keeping some fuel in reserve and stockpiling for the future. So where this applies to the future is: Are we going to be as good as we can be next year, or might we keep some in reserve for the following year. Next question , how much do we keep in reserve? It is all varying levels of tanking. If we traded for Love and signed some other big FA, that would be playing for today. If we signed nobody, that would somewhat be tanking. True? So what are we going to do? And my multi year tank comment is based on whether I see “clear” benefit in getting slightly better. Currently I am not sure I do. If we had a young team and a new/young coach, a 4 year plan where we gradually get better, makes sense. The Kobe extension and our lame duck coach (question is how long) make the gradual improvement game somewhat questionable. We go 41-41 next year – then what? Kobe’s days are numbered. MD’s days are numbered. And yes your previous points about the 90′s are good, but I think we are still compared to the early 90′s. Meaning the early 90′s had the announcement and the end of Showtime. It took a decade to get over that. We are not done with the Kobe era yet, as evidenced by the extension. To continue your comparison, we are sort of in the period where Magic tried to come back and play right now. The VETO is equivalent to the announcement. The extension is equivalent to Magic’s comeback. What a mess !
    Super Stars: We may not be able to base everything on them, but the Lakers always have. rr – you are the GM. What I would say is this. Do what you want rr, but do not make me regret it later If KD or LBJ or equivalent becomes available, I want to be able to strike. If you do something that prevents that – there is an issue – unless that something develops into a super star : ) So if you want to sign Love – fine. One of two things need to happen. Either Love needs to become the third best player in the league or he needs to be one of the items that attracts one of the top two. If he stays where he is, and we do not sign someone better, than that is a plan where if all goes well – we become the “6th” best team in the league : ) Your plan from a few threads back is decent, but I think the multi-year tank also has merit. I do not care about TV ratings. I want a title as fast as we can get it. Which plan gets us closer to a title is very debatable, because right now, we are so far way, that this is like NASA planning a trip to Mars, and we are just hoping that somewhere along the way, we do not get sucked into the Event Horizon (that was for you R).

  100. Championship organizations exist by always striving to be the best they can be with the cards they’ve been dealt. They don’t depend on the lottery. They don’t tank games, much less seasons.

    You might want to check out how the Spurs got Tim Duncan back in the day. They didn’t plan for it since it happened because David Robinson went down, but once he did go down, they didn’t make a big push to win 35 games. They went 19-63, and the rest is history.

    OKC’s current team was built almost entirely on high lottery picks; they still have two, and traded the other one for assets and to save money. There are of course certainly other ways to get in the mix. Indiana never hit bottom; neither did Houston.

    I don’t really believe in the concept of “championship organizations” in basketball. Maybe in football and baseball, due to the differences in the sports. Jerry Krause tried to sell that after Jordan, Pippen, and Phil left Chicago–saying that “organizations win championships.” He was rightly mocked for it on his way out of town after a few losing seasons. Certainly some organizations are run better than others, but contention follows the talent. I do think that the talent looks to the leadership, and that is why leadership matters so much.

    So, no, the lottery is not a cure-all, but given where the Lakers are, I think more ping-pong balls would have been better than a few more wins, as I said. The 2014 Lakers weren’t Dallas, putting together a competitive veteran team that nabbed the 8th spot, nor were they Phoenix, surprising everybody with a group of guys in their 20s. The 2014 Lakers were just a bad, capped-out team, at the start of what may well be a long, difficult down period and the late-season wins, while I respect the effort the players put into them, were IMO simply the NBA equivalent of putting a pretty scarf on a warthog.

  101. Jerke,

    You made a lot of good points in the post, as I said. I just thought you were selling KB a little short, and also putting responsibility on him that is IMO on the coach, whoever that may be.

    And you may be right about Young. I don’t know enough about the various rosters/FAs to know what teams might want him.

  102. Chris J,

    Good point about perception.

  103. Kobe: He needs a “Strong” coach. He is after all “Un-coachable”. To expect Kobe and DH to have worked out issues on their own, without a steady mentor guiding them was foolish. And to expect Kobe to react well to this year’s team, this coach, and more importantly next year’s team, without some serious coaching/mentoring, is equally foolish. I could roll the ball out there and let Kobe shoot. Now – managing his ego, getting him to get along with teammates, and getting him to buy into the system, is what people are paid $3 million per year to do. Well – I guess they get paid that amount whether they actually do any of that or not.
    rr: Response to you in mod : )

  104. Robert,

    Good post. Responding to one point:

    We go 41-41 next year – then what?

    The lesson of Houston is not all 41-41 teams are created equal. Houston went 44-38 and finished 9th, which is supposedly the NBA equivalent of being stuck at a truck stop in Needles for a year. But in their case, it wasn’t. They may not win with Howard and Harden, but they have a chance. That is what you have to get to.

    So, if the Lakers go 41-41 because they sign Lowry, draft Embiid, and those guys do what I think they can, they make a shrewd cheap pick-up in FA and Kobe plays pretty well, then maybe Kevin Love comes here, and they get to 50-32…and then Kobe comes off the books when Durant is a FA. Again, you sometimes seem to think that there are title teams and teams wasting time. The NBA is more complex than that. You may not care about TV ratings, but I don’t think you can really run an organization by saying “We are not going to try to get better because there might be some unnamed guy available in three years who might be awesome.” You have to try to get the best talent that is available.

    And as to the Durant stuff, IMO people need to look at some facts (and some opinions):

    1. Durant has three more chances to win a title in OKC.
    2. Durant has a lot of mileage already for a guy his age and will have a lot more by 2016. He may not be the same player by then and may be leaving his peak.
    3. Durant is already in an organization that has shown it is pretty smart.
    4. Durant has no ties of any kind to California, or LA. He has never lived in this part of the country.
    5. He does not seem to have the AAU/BeijingBuddies/pack mentality that drove James.

  105. I’ve really enjoyed having RR on the site for all this time. He saves me all the hours of posting. I hope everyone is reading his posts and learning.

  106. Ko i just dont think is a big deal thats all, like Darius mentioned Kobe’s “rep” is driven by what he does on the court. He is never been the most warm and cuddly individual or teamate and thats fine with me. If he was playing i bet he would had take the mic , but he is not and judging his mood the last couple of months i dont think it would had been wise of him grabbing that mic since we all know he dont hold anything back potentially putting the FO in an awkward posicion, maybe its just me but i believe that the honor of adressing the fans in apreciation night is for the players that are actually playing. If he comes back next season and play with some semblance of what he was before not a person would remember this non-issue. This offseason is going to be really really interesting on this forum it wont become dull like seasons past. Looking fwd to it. Im glad the nightmare is over.

  107. Agreed on Rr

    I have a hunch it stands for Rerry Rest in disguise.

  108. Aaron: Let’s get this straight. Next year. Would you prefer 41-41 or 20-62? You said previously that being bad and stockpiling draft picks for a few years was a good thing. So what if we have a reasonably heathy KB, get a decent coach, and draft a decent college player, then we go 41-41. Is that part of a plan to get us better or does that put us in no man’s land?

  109. Very interesting exit interviews from mda and mitch right now via Twitter. They sound pretty lockstep. Not saying that they will or won’t let him go, but given what’s being said by both of them it’ll be really interesting to hear mitches reasons if they do fire him, considering what is being said today.

  110. Robert,
    It’s obviously better if the team gets a top five draft pick next year as I’ve said all season. Finishing .500 or even getting an 8th seed does nothing for me. I like watching great Lakers basketball and watching them compete for titles. Next year I see the Lakers being awful again. Kobe was bad this year and I think he will be even worse with another serious injury under his belt. Players after achillies tears are even worse statistically two years removed. That’s because most of them suffer other injuries coming back just like Kobe. At best Kobe will be an average NBA starter next year.

  111. Also… Let’s get this straight. MDA is a good NBA head coach. Maybe too good. This roster over achieved. Most other coaches would have delivered a top 3 pick for us.

  112. Robert,

    I think Aaron probably prefers 20-62, but there is really no way to answer that, IMO. Too many variables. 60 losses does not guarantee drafting an All-Star, and 40 wins does not guarantee the ability to recruit one in FA.

    The argument for 60 losses next year is, I think, the fact that the Lakers lose the pick unless it is Top 5 and there are supposedly a couple of studs in that group (although the age limit may be raised by then). The argument for 40 wins depends on how you feel about the 2015 FA class and the ability of the FO to recruit one or two of them. But my argument is that 40-some wins does not necessarily mean “no man’s land”–and the next example of that may well be Phoenix.

    And I appreciate the props from Aaron and Ko.

  113. mda is a good assistant coach at best. he’s lacking in many areas. if it wasn’t for tim thomas draining that 3, he would have been out of the league a long time ago.

  114. rr> “You might want to check out how the Spurs got Tim Duncan back in the day. They didn’t plan for it since it happened because David Robinson went down, but once he did go down, they didn’t make a big push to win 35 games. They went 19-63, and the rest is history. OKC’s current team was built almost entirely on high lottery picks…”

    If one looks around, there are certainly going to be examples of where high draft picks were instrumental in turning a losing team into a winning one. Same with free agent signings or lopsided trades. That’s how teams acquire stars. But were these examples of tanking, or just the product of circumstance?

    The Spurs had one horrible year they had no real control over. They switched coaches, and that was huge. They were able to rise from that year because they had great people at the top, from owner, GM, to coach. Is Duncan the reason they’ve been so successful? One reason, but I think there’s much more to it, and that the Spurs would likely have figured out a way regardless. Duncan may have won no titles playing somewhere else.

    Seattle was a declining team, a franchise with new ownership, new management, and on the way out of town. This just happened to coincide with Durant entering the draft, a player they don’t get if they maybe pick first and go for Oden.

    So the Lakers didn’t tank this season, didn’t try to lose games at the end, and I still don’t see how people think that was a realistic scenario. The FO will be making many decisions in the near future that involve both longer term and shorter term goals, strategies, contingencies… patience will be part of it, waiting for the right opportunities, but I’m not expecting any decisions based on losing to get a higher draft pick.

  115. rfen,

    I think you are defining “tanking” in a way that most people are not really using it. You seem to think that it means throwing games. I think the way it is used now, it essentially means weakening the team short-term to improve long-term prospects for success. In the case of the 2014 Lakers, it comes back to the same thing that we have covered: I don’t see that winning a few extra games to get to 27-55 sparked by Nick Young and Chris Kaman is going to help the team get back into the mix. But OTOH, it is a draft lottery, so they might get a top 3 pick anyway. We will see.

    As far as the Spurs, sure they have a great organization. But Duncan has anchored the team on the floor for 16 years, and even now he is still an excellent two-way player, albeit in smaller amounts of floor time. One of the toughest things to find in the NBA is a high-level two-way big, and the Spurs have had two HOF two-way bigs anchoring their franchise for 25 years–because they won the lottery twice. You can speculate that Popovich and Buford would have “figured out a way” if you like, and they certainly might have. But I generally don’t buy into arguments based on narratives and/or counterfactuals.

  116. rr,
    FA’s don’t care what the previous record was of the team they are joinging because it is not the same team. They care about what the roster is of the team they would be joining and more importantly the top end talent on that roster.