Lakers Ask Fans for Patience but Need to Exhibit it Themselves Too

Darius Soriano —  May 4, 2014

With Mike D’Antoni no longer the Lakers’ coach, it seems there has been a huge weight lifted off the shoulders of the organization. While a major decision will need to be made on finding a replacement, the prospect of starting fresh — even if it will be challenging — brings about hope for better days after suffering through consecutive sorrow filled seasons.

This list of potential candidates to replace the departed D’Antoni looks to be long and wide ranging. From college coaches to those with ties to the organization to outsiders who have paid their dues around the league, the Lakers seem to be casting a wide net with the hope that they can find the right person to transition them from a team centered around Kobe Bryant to one that will revolve around the team’s next superstar. This won’t be a small task — for good thoughts on this subject, read this — but rebuilding (or, if being generous, retooling) never really is.

And while most all our thoughts are on finding the right person and having him move the franchise forward, my focus shifts backwards and to the past.

One of the hallmarks of the Lakers’ organization has been a combination of its ability to formulate a plan for success while having the patience to see that plan through even when it would have been much easier to change course and make a drastic move.

I think back to the building of the “Lakeshow” teams. The organization could have easily tried to get back on top quickly after losing Magic to early retirement by making quick fix trades that mortgaged the future of the team. Instead, they built through the draft, made solid signings in free agency, and when the time came to make a move for the big star or gamble in the draft, they could do that because they had built the foundation of a competitive team through their previous patience. More recently we saw the team hold onto a disgruntled Kobe Bryant when he lobbied hard for a trade, again having a solid enough foundation and enough assets in house to pounce in the trade market when a difference maker became available.

The past few years, however, has seen a departure from this philosophy.

Whether it was the quick hire of Mike Brown after rumors that the Warriors were in hot pursuit of him, his subsequent quick firing when the team looked to be tuning him out after a winless preseason and a sluggish start to the regular campaign, a trade for an aging Steve Nash that surrendered multiple draft picks, or a contract extension for Kobe before he had even stepped on the court for meaningful action after rupturing his achilles tendon, the Lakers have gotten away from letting situations play out fully in favor of making the bold move that would seemingly get the team back to the top quickly.

Most of these moves were defensible at the time. The success rate, however, ranges from not at all to we still have to wait and see. Nowhere, though, has there been a home run that the organization can hang their hat on as proof that their quick trigger was overwhelmingly correct. Of course context and circumstance matter and we cannot simply ignore those things to bury the bold thinking as if it were off-base from the start. I think it is always best to remember that even the most surefire move can have its detractors and few things are ever 100% guaranteed to be the right move.

That said, the Lakers must get back to their roots of being thoughtful and calculating rather than impulsive and gambling at every turn. Yes, Kobe Bryant’s career is winding down. And the pressure to win now isn’t just born out of his pursuit of a sixth title, but out of the franchise’s desire to get back on top and contend for a 17th banner.

But the fact is that the team is, essentially, starting from as close to scratch as it possibly can be this summer. With only 3 players under contract (Kobe, Nash, and Robert Sacre are already signed while Kendall Marshall has a team option and Kent Bazemore can be retained via issuing a qualifying offer) and a new coach on the horizon, now isn’t necessarily the time to shoot for the moon as if the team is only one move away from being in the Finals again. Simple math tells us this team is at least 10 moves away. After all, they need to make that many decisions just to hire a coach and field a roster of 12 players next year.

With that in mind, it’s time for the Lakers to get back to a more methodical approach. They need to get back to thinking long term, strategizing on how to position themselves for success over the course of multiple years (and not just the next two), and be patient enough to see it through even when the times get hard. When you think about the success of the Lakers it’s easy to see the flashy move — drafting Magic, signing Shaq, trading for Kobe’s draft rights, swapping Kwame for Pau — but in reality, what has mattered just as much to the organization’s stature has been getting so many of the little moves right.

Over time, they have built what they have through the ability to figure out the best plan of action over the long haul and executing it every step of the way even if at times it looked as though they may not be heading in the right direction. If there is one thing I hope Jim and Jeannie learned from their father, that would be it.

Darius Soriano

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69 responses to Lakers Ask Fans for Patience but Need to Exhibit it Themselves Too

  1. Right on man!!

    Go lakers!!!

  2. Renato Afonso May 5, 2014 at 2:57 am

    Agreed. The problem is that much of the fanbase actually thinks that patience in rebuilding=tanking. The Lakers may miss the playoffs or not next season, but that shouldn’t make the Lakers change their path. Aiming for a top 5 pick is only worth it if there’s a Durant or a LeBron waiting there, and even then it may backfire.

    We need to get the best possible team without overpaying for players, find a suitable coach that can teach winning habits to younger players and good veterans to help the team grow. Then, we must draft really well according to team need and player potential, even if we’re drafting at 16th or higher. The free agent signings must be shrewd as well. Rooting for losses in order to get a higher draft pick (and all the uncertainties that are attached to it) is not real fandom in my opinion…

  3. Cheers Darius.

    For me, it looks like FA ’15 has potential to be the time to make the big move. This coming year is all about building a team and culture that will attract that star FA (or multiple). Whether that attractive core consists of Kobe, Lowry, Deng, the new young kid, a fun and upbeat bench mob etc. It’s about building that up to a point where the big move can be executed.

    I think the FO want to at least be contending for a playoff spot next year. Similar to Houston before it got Dwight.

    I really can’t see the Lakers aiming anywhere near bottom 5 for the draft pick. Just not the Laker way, nor has Mitch suggested anything of the like, express or implied. Patience is a wonderful thing to have, but patience is not the same as inactivity.

  4. Renato Afonso May 5, 2014 at 7:02 am

    Well, this may be a little off topic to some, but I think it actually shows the difficulty of conjugating the right roster with the right coach at the right time. I actually took the time to read this piece on SSR:

    http://www.silverscreenandroll.com/2014/5/2/5660052/shot-distribution-editorial

    My opinion on SSR writers and commenters is well known but apparently I should give it more attention. Not that the writer actually surprised me in a positive manner but everyone should read the 13th or so comment by t_sensei. The comparison between the shot distribution of the Lakers against the top 5 offenses is important but ultimately pointless if you don’t know the diagrams of MDA’s plays/system. Is the offense supposed to generate open looks where we actually took more shots? How many shots at the rim were contested? How many corner threes were taken with a hand in the face and time running out (not much of those I suppose)? This data without anything else mean nothing on the context of our offense.

    Regarding the point brought up by t_sensei in the comments, and I didn’t bother to check his numbers so I assume they’re true, not all players are the same and not all rosters have the same strengths. His analysis shows that MDA didn’t use Pau properly, which actually meets my eye test, not to mention Kaman. Maybe we should have more off the ball picks to free certain players to shoot or have a ball motion that puts Pau on an island against a weaker defender and good shooters on the opposite side. It’s not about the system, it’s about how said system meshes with the roster…

    So, shouldn’t the Lakers be looking for a coach that’s good on the defensive side (not approached in the article) as well as one who’s able to squeeze the most out of his players? In a team with 36y.o. Kobe, should we really look for this shot distribution? Shouldn’t our future coach be able to capitalize on Kobe’s elbow game and low post moves? Shouldn’t Kobe be coming off screens for mid-range jumpers (he’s one of the best at that)? Shouldn’t a team with an aging Steve Nash have off the ball movement that includes backcuts by the athletic wings for the easy finish at the rim off the pick and roll action? Do you put Kobe on the side off the ball or the opposite side, when that happens?

    Regardless of age (and most people don’t want retreads), the most important factor is the flexibility to adjust the offense and defense to the available roster. And since we don’t have a roster, that flexibility is even more important if he was to be hired before filling out the empty roster slots.

  5. We’re not starting from scratch, by the way. We are starting from a hole.

    We really need the patience. We need the Zen (and I don’t mean Phil).

  6. This is, IMO, the best article so far since the end of the season. Over the past few seasons, our FO may have tried to forgo the methodical & `thoughtful´ approach by trying to hit a few out of the park without any success, as mentioned in the post, but Darius certainly has crushed one way on past the outfield bleachers.
    ___
    Rooting for losses in order to get a higher draft pick (and all the uncertainties that are attached to it) is not real fandom in my opinion…
    ___
    absolutely right!

  7. Rooting for losses in order to get a higher draft pick (and all the uncertainties that are attached to it) is not real fandom in my opinion…
    ———
    Yes, Renato and I hope this forum takes your wise words to heart. I’d like to add my 2 cents: The concept of failing one’s way to success is repugnant, poor sportsmanship, dishonorable, counterintuitive, and a total buzz kill.

  8. This is very similar to the evolution v creationism debate. Some people think a great team will just come from nowhere. That’s not how it happens. You need to aquire top end talent. In order to do that you need to have cheap good young players on your roster. The best way to do that is through the lottery where players on rookie contracts are cost controlled. Signing average veterans like the mavericks will keep you in first round purgatory for a very long time.

  9. Probably not the sexy move, but hiring Byron Scott and drafting a really good point guard like Marcus Smart (Scott seems to do well with excellent point guards), would lead to better results next year. Not championship results, but – playoffs?

  10. The SSR piece wasn’t bad (much better than “Mitch Kupchak: Tanking Ninja”, which was written by the same guy). But, as the guy sort of alludes to, it is basically a talent problem. As he says:

    “However, I hope I was able to illustrate that aside from having better players, one of the most prudent things the Lakers can do going forward in order to improve their offense is to take more efficient shots (at the rim, corner threes) and fewer less efficient shots (mid-range).”

    This is a new stathead meme, and the team that does it the most is Houston. Haberstroh at ESPN wrote a piece pointing out that IIRC Aldridge buy himself took more mid-range shots that Houston did as a team.

    But, like anything else, it depends on personnel–and Kobe is one of the most mid-range oriented guys in the NBA, which the SSR guy totally misses in his conclusion to the piece.

  11. I believe that George Karl is the best possible coach choice for the Lakers. He has proven himself able to work with virtually any roster and devise schemes to fit the talent he has been given. He has taken modest talent to the play offs and taken great talent to the Finals. He has gotten the accolades of Coach of the year in the year he was terminated in Denver, and has acknowledgement by Phil Jackson as one of the few coaches he respects. Karl is unquestionably in my mind the right guy for the job.

    I believe the Lakers need to hold onto their pick this year. My choice if the Lakers could draft anyone would be Exum. He would be my choice at #6 or even #1. I think he has what it takes to be a franchise player without the consistency problems of Wiggins or the health Concerns of Embiid. Odds are though the Lakers should be able to at the very minimum pick up an impact player at the rookie scale.

    My biggest concern would be the Lakers trading their pick to get Love not building any sort of foundation and then watching Love walk as he realizes theres no future on a team that isn’t building a foundation.

    The Lakers need to be wise with their dollars and get some guys who aren’t minimum salary guys but not budget busters either who are viable starters. This will be the foundation to build on. The following year may be more exciting with a big name signing but this year may be more important for deciding the success or failure to come down the road.

  12. The difficulty with showing patience with the Jimmy B era is thus far, he has only made one good decision…”firing” MDA. EVERY other personnel decision made during his reign has left a lot to be desired. Teams are built on plans, not hope. Glad to at least see more and more Laker faithful realize the Lakers won’t be relevant on the court until they are better equipped to utilize their salary capped payroll to hire better quality & quantity of professional NBA players.

  13. “Some people think a great team will just come from nowhere. That’s not how it happens. You need to acquire top end talent.”

    Some people think great teams come from being lazy and lucky. If there was only one way to acquire top talent, and that way could be counted on, then that would be the goal of every team needing top talent. Of course, that’s not the case, and in fact, the league would be destroyed if the goal for most teams had to be lose before you can win. A high draft pick can be a difference maker, but there are no shortcuts to championships. Great organizations don’t rely on getting lucky in the draft.

    There are lots of big time players out there, some already established and a known quantity, and some now barely on anyone’s radar. The Lakers just need to keep trying to move forward. That’s their best chance to be an attractive target for talent, and to put together all the many pieces that allow superstars to win championships.

  14. darius: I think you opening a whole new can of worms and good for you when you say: Lakers Ask Fans for Patience but Need to Exhibit it Themselves Too. the thinking here being that jim and you included jeanne as if to protect jim to some extent that jim is capable of exuding some form of patience? he’s way too impulsive and inexperienced to maintain some semblance of patience, so far, that is. any pseudo executive vice president of basketball opeations can swing for the fences with obvious free agent choices, ie; chris paul, dwight howard and steve nash. we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation if said chris paul and dwight howard deals worked out for the los angeles lakers. strange how fate/luck are a two way street.

    so what we are left with here is a big, big question mark as to the future of the los angeles lakers. the thought here is for jim and jeanne buss to agree on bringing in basketball minds to assist and make recommendations and decisions for the organization to; as you say, methodically rebuild a winning team which should include not only players, but coaches, scouts and as others on this blog have alluded to trainers and medical staff that had worked wonders for the players in the past. on the one hand I can feel for jim buss in that he is trying to follow his dad’s wishes but he has to remember that he now has to take himself out of the picture as being the one involved in the everyday basketball related decision making process and be more like his dad; and I’ve said this before but worth mentioning again, to be involved in the approving process only in all things laker basketball operations wise. for that, i for one would more than willing to be patient for, and two, would go a long way to show that the front office has the mindset and the flexibility to show they have the ability to show patience also.

    darius: you hit another home run.

    Go lakers

  15. Aaron is right about drafting high quality talent. Not only can they be kept at artificially low salaries for several years the team also retains their Bird rights. The team can go over the cap to resign them. Both of these elements are huge in building a contending team.

    Plus, with the exception of Brooklyn every team in the second round is anchored by at least one player they actually drafted. And in the case of Portland, San Antonio, OKC, Washington, and Indiana there are multiple key players those teams drafted contributing now. Of course Miami has LeBron. But they still drafted Wade. Their situation is not only unique, it is nearly impossible to replicate under the new CBA. And Brooklyn is paying luxury tax through the nose for all those high priced free agents they signed.

    The Lakers will have to draft some quality players and allow them to develop. As Darius noted it will take time. We all need to be prepared for that.

  16. The next coach will probably be here only a few years…The next coach after that will be the Coach to take us to being contenders…Realistically we are 4 years away…Next season we need to replace the talents of Gasol….Two years from now we will be replacing Kobe….By the time Gasol and Kobe are gone..it will be time for a new coach…

  17. Patience??? Is this some kind of a cruel joke?

    Patience is for Utah, Milwaukee, and Philly fans……not for Laker fans. Small market teams with limited resources, bad weather, and without $200 mil a year TV deals preach patience.

    In only four years, the Lakers went from winning the championship (2010) …….to losing contender status……. to becoming contenders again (2012)…….. to losing contender status once again. Yet, Jim Buss is asking for another four years (on top of the last two years) to become contenders again? Talk about setting the bar as low as possible.

    Things can change rapidly in the NBA. One star free agent can make a huge impact.

    If Kobe can get back to 80-90%, he will still be one of the best SGs in the league. Gasol is still one of the better centers in the league. The Lakers have a highly coveted lotto pick (that can be traded for an all-star) with plenty of cap space available. There is an open coaching position with plenty of excellent coaches available.

    If theres ever been a time to forget about patience and swing for the fences….it is now.

  18. ” … right about drafting high quality talent.”
    ——————-

    Yes, of course. Now more than ever. Much of the value is and will be found in quality players on rookie deals and superstars. How much do you figure LBJ could command if his max salary wasn’t limited by the CBA?

  19. This never gets mentioned enough, but I’m not sure fans realize that the Lakers haven’t selected a player in the first round of the draft and had that player play for them since Jordan Farmar in 2006. 2006!!!! There was a player taken in 07 but we don’t need to mention who that person is.

    At some point that catches up with you. We got out titles in 10 and 11, now the core is old, and the only people you can replace them with are lottery cast offs from other teams (Wes, Henry, Marshall, ect). What other elite teams go this long without adding 1st round talent in the draft? I’m fine with a rebuild that takes 3 years, I just hope management is as well.

  20. darius: “Being able to see the email addresses commenters use at my site can be particularly insightful when reading what they write.”

    care to explain??

  21. david h – I’m guessing that when a persons email address include the words/numbers like: kobe, mamba, 24, ect… Then tend to view the Lakers and Kobe a certain way.

  22. LT mitchell – I think we have two types of Laker fans, regardless on where you stand on the FO: (1) those who plead for or are resigned to being patient and (2) those who, as you put it, want to swing for the fences.

    I think both sets of fans are equally passionate about the team and share the ultimate goal of getting back to the top of the NBA. However, while I wish things would allow us to be immediate title contenders next year, but short of a certain free agent candidate for best player on the planet coming to this team for peanuts and encouraging other key contributors to do the same, I just don’t see a path to that that is closer than 2-4 years. I really want to believe that we are one little change away from being contenders next year, but I just don’t see it.

    If you or anyone else has any realistic ideas that could sway me, please share them as I sure could use some cheering up.

  23. They dont have to preach me patience, i been a fan too long to be desperate because we havent won a championship in the last 4 years. I hope to get the right coach, draft a good pick and hope the team is healthy enough to compete next season while picking up/keep some nice pieces to lay the foundation for 2015-16 when we could make a big splash in free agency and even if we do it might take longer to really have a contender. The Lakers are still going to be a prime market for FAs, my hope is that we start building something solid next season and go for broke in Kobe’s last season in contract and try to send him away with that six ring. If that works out and he retires we would have cap enough for another max contract and some change available to try to plug the hole he would left. Im convinced we will be better next season at least not as bad as last season and then go for broke in Kobe’s hopefully last season. If not well it will take longer but we will be on top again before this decade is over.

  24. David H – One quick comment. Jim Buss has been involved with the FO since 98 (under Jerry West) and as VP (same title he holds today) since 2005. I think to say he is “too inexperienced” is just not true. I know you seem to think any “pseudo” exec could have arranged for the Chris Paul trade (which would have cost us Pau and Lamar), the DHoward trade (which did *not* cost us a single starter) or signing Nash (OK, you are right on that one – but don’t forget the original trade that brought pau here!), but I look around the league and fail to see a single organization that has been able to execute the same caliber of trades.

    Also, not sure where you get that Jim is “too impulsive.” While, I get that one could argue Jim can be impulsive after the way the MDA/Phil decision was handled (and that is only if one assumes that it was Jim and not Dr Buss that made the final call on that hire), I don’t see this single incident backing up a claim that there is a history of impulsive decisions. Actually, if anything, there is history of Jim being quite the opposite, such as when he refused for many years to trade Bynum, his refusal to fire MDA despite loud public criticism, and his refusal to trade Pau and other pieces once it was quite obvious after the Kobe injury that this season was going to be a waste.

    Where I do agree with you is where you argue that the Buss kids need to work together going forward. As you allude to in your comments, there is this perception that Jimmie is off and running his own kingdom, not caring what Jeannie or any other person on the family says. A lot of that has to do with the Buss siblings not following the best advice I have ever read from Jerry West from an interview years ago, which (hopefully I remember correctly) provided that you always speak with one voice, giving the impression that everyone is on the same page, and if you can’t do that your best approach is to simply say “no comment.” Sadly, the team did not give off that impression in the past because, to be fair here, while the rest of the Buss siblings responded with the typical “no comment”, Jeannie’s book and comments stated otherwise. However, I think that recently you have seen a very calculated effort from Jeannie to correct that impression, a HUGE step in the right direction – which perhaps is part of a compromise between the siblings that also includes the “4 year plan” we all have heard by now. Hopefully, 4 years from now this conversation is a moot point and the Lakers are on track once again. Unfortunately, only time will tell.

  25. Mike Brown hire… that was stupid… that + CP3 nixed trade, put this team back 2 years.

    Pau and Lamar’s contracts would have been taken off the books…

  26. Has anyone ever had a worse series then a certain 7 foot, highly paid center for pacers?

    Another zero point zero rebound game.

    Wonder if he and Andrew Bynam are buds?
    Get it?

  27. Wiz are nice- but Pacers have ISSUES.
    It’s strange seeing a number 1 seed struggle this much. I guess Hibbert is a part of the problem there but I haven’t watched enuf Pacer hoops to know.

    Manny that’s a nice post.
    I think credit is due for the Gasol acquisition, keeping Bynum til the time was right (perfect, in fact), the CP trade and the Howard experiment, to an FO that included Jim Buss, whether or not these deals worked out in the long run.
    They were in fact all great moves that had the city buzzing each time, and that includes getting Nash.

    Now letting Dantoni walk is a nice move and to the Laker’s credit it didn’t feel rushed.

    I think we’re still in good hands with Jeannie Jim & Mitch.

    Really looking forward to seeing what the draft brings, who we hire to coach, and how these pieces affect our FA push this summer.

  28. Seeing as how the Lakers roster only has three players the new coach should have a say in how next year’s team will be assembled. Otherwise….

    The Clippers are poised to possibly win the WCF and a championship this year! Yikes. And the Lakers management think they have four years. The Clippers could go on a four-year-run with banners of their own and no longer in need of covering the Lakers.

  29. Watchimg this game it looks like durant will in fact leave in 2015 … the kwy would be to get lebron amd duramt in the same summer

  30. Manny,
    The West is incredibly deep and currently has seven teams that can be considered contenders (Thunder, Spurs, Clips, Rockets, Warriors, Grizz, Blazers) and three teams (Dallas, Phoenix and Minnesota) that are one or two solid moves away from joining the contending group.

    This Lakers, if healthy, could have been a fringe playoff team this past season ala Dal/Pho/Minn.

    I think the “patient” group is grossly overestimating the gap between fringe playoff teams and contending teams. The gap is not nearly as big as people are making it out to be. One or two solid moves can be the difference. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

    – In one season, the Blazers went from fringe playoff team to contenders mainly by adding two inexpensive role players in Lopez and Mo Williams.
    – Houston went from a lottery team to contenders in less than a year by trading for Harden and adding Dwight.
    – The 2012 Lakers became instant contenders in one summer when they traded for Dwight (and Nash)…..post CBA.
    – The Smush era Lakers team went from fringe playoff team to first in the stacked West by adding DFish, coupled with Bynum’s improvement.
    – The Knicks went from a 54 win team with hopes of upsetting the Heat to a laughingstock in one season. A couple players like JR Smith had off years and the team lost Kidd’s leadership, but the roster makeup barely changed.
    – The Bobcats made a giant leap in one season by adding Al Jefferson and Steve Clifford.

    The Lakers have the cap space to add an all star caliber player like Lowry or a super star caliber player like Carmelo this summer. They have a lottery pick that they can use or trade for another all-star. They are one of the few team’s that can afford any coach money can buy. Kobe will hopefully come back close to his former self. With the new CBA, solid role players can be had at discount rates.

    I’m not suggesting that the road back to contender status in a year or two will be an easy one….just trying to point out it is very possible, and not nearly as daunting as many here believe. The Lakers have all the tools to make it happen quickly. Along with the cap space and a lotto pick in the best draft in years, they have an elite GM, the perks of LA and Hollywood to attract free agents, and more financial resources than just about any other team.

    Ever since Jim Buss officially took over, it’s been nothing but excuse after excuse. The time for excuses is over. Asking for “patience” is a preemptive strike on the next excuse, and I’m not buying it.

  31. A few points on having patience:

    1. We need to remember that the Lakers are not sitting on a ton of draft picks, like Boston is.
    2. Buss and Kupchak have both talked about “financial flexibility” as being a big deal–which would indicate that they are expecting to add FAs.
    3. The idea that the Lakers are a destination team is still very much in the collective mind of the fan base, and Jeanie made the same claim in her interview.
    4. The Clippers are on the verge of getting to a new level. The Sterling thing has made them cool in an odd way; their national TV ratings are up etc. If they go on a long playoff run, Sterling is forced out, and they are bought by some Hollywood magnates like Winfrey and Geffen, or by Guggenheim–look out. That may or may not directly affect the Lakers that much, but it will be yet another way that the landscape has changed.
    5. Kobe is still here.
    6. Buss himself gave a 3-4 year timeline.
    7. That said, ANY NBA organization losing Chris Paul to a league ruling and Dwight Howard without compensation could easily be down for a decade. Add that to all the traded picks, and it is a tough situation all around.

    But, while I think most rational fans do not expect the team to be back in contention for at least three years, I also do not think that most people will be OK with 27-55, 32-50, and then 40-42. I think the expectation will be that there will be impact moves happening in the next two years.

  32. RR, your conservative & very realistic timetable states the obvious: Lakers will not make the post-season as long as they are paying one player to be the highest paid player in the league. I guess less Laker fans will be outraged with an ESPN pre-season prediction for next season of a 12th place finish while ranking #24 @ 25.

  33. Very insightful, many know patience is needed but with Jim giving himself a 3 yr timetable not certain his timeline will allow them time to rebuild through the draft. However, given the Lakers rebuild through FA that seems to be the sure thing to turning things around (to accommodate Jim’s timeline) given the draft picks they’ve given up to bring in players who haven’t necessarily worked out. DEFENSE needs to be addressed this off season as hopefully FO also gives attention to some of the weakest positions on the roster being the PG, PF, and C positions.

  34. The name on the front of the jersey won’t bring people here. It won’t bring the difference making players here. We need to lure them with young star talent. We need to understand this. Players only go places based on where they can win now that the CBA is in place. In a way that’s great for the NBA. The star players are looking to play with each other now like never before. LA is a great place to live. And the Lakers have a lot of fans. That’s it. That’s all star players are looking at when they see the Laerks now. We need to draft young talent to attract the next Shaq. We need to draft young talent to attract the actual Shaq. If we didn’t draft Eddie Jones, Nick Van Exel, Elden Campbell, and Anthony Peeler Shaq would have stayed with the Magic. We need to make these picks count. For many reasons.

  35. Renato Afonso May 6, 2014 at 6:25 am

    Aaron,

    naming Elden and Peeler as reasons to attract Shaq seems a bit off. You’re right regarding Van Exel, Eddie Jones and even Ceballos. But I’m not sure about the others. Also, Shaq wanted to be in Hollywood to do some films and demanded a high pay check as well, so money was certainly a big factor in his decision.

    However, let’s take money out of the equation and assume that building a competent team is almost everything that matters in order to land the next franchise player through free agency.

    Nick was the 37th pick. Eddie Jones (personal favourite of mine) was drafted 10th. Ceballos was the 48th (and came from Phoenix). Elden was 27th.

    Apparently you’re the one who needs to understand this because you keep saying the same thing over and over in every post… We need to draft well regardless of where we draft. We don’t need to follow the Seattle/OKC Zombiesonics and suck for 3 years in a row in order to land 3 consecutive top 5 picks. If we draft well, there are certainly good productive players available lower in the draft that can help the team in one way or the other. So, apart from OKC that hasn’t won a single title yet, can you please name one team that achieved the title building through the draft only? I’m not asking for much, just one.

    We need to draft well but that’s always a necessity of every single team. We don’t need consecutive top 5 picks to build a contender, even considering the CBA changes. You need to understand that.

  36. Darius, I think we can add a point about why Lakers have deviated from their past methodical approach for the last 2 – 3 years.

    Jim Buss and Mitch perhaps knew about Dr. Buss’s ailing condition, and tried too rush another championship before Dr. Buss passed away. Also, Dr. Buss probably never really embraced Phil Jackson as part of the family, which yielded the ill-fated outcome of hiring MDA. (whom BTW is the only coach ever beat Phil’s team in seven-game series in 2 consecutive years)

    Jim and Mitch need to go back to drawing board and really redesign the future identity of Lakers. And Kobe needs to learn to take a back seat, and be more of an elder in order to attract top notch or upcoming star players.

    Lakers have money to spend, a huge fan base, and still attractive brand name. With couple of right moves, they can be formidable again soon.

  37. Jim Buss and Mitch perhaps knew about Dr. Buss’s ailing condition, and tried too rush another championship before Dr. Buss passed away.
    ___
    interesting point; had never really considered it.

  38. Congratulations to Kevin Durant for winning a well deserved MVP Award. Time to go out there, handle your business, and show n prove why you received that prestigious honor.

  39. LT mitchell- Excellent points. Unfortunately, being patient is all we have to keep us sane.

  40. 5d2, I think that’s a very valid point about trying to win one for Dr buss before he passed. Doesn’t excuse every decision but it’s pretty reasonable to think that was in the FO’s mind to try and load up one punch for a shot at a ‘chip before Jerry was gone

  41. Other then Magic Johnson whom the Lakers drafted when Dr. Buss bought the team the Lakers haven’t been a tanking team. I understand the value of rookie scale contracts as they allow teams to get talent for value prices for years to come. However, as the Lakers don’t have half their picks for the next 4 years its not even a feasible option. The Lakers will have to acquire talent via shrewd free agent signings and trades.

  42. It is interesting to ponder exactly why Jerry Buss didn’t trust Phil Jackson, even though he was almost a member of the family and an NBA icon.

    As great a coach and motivator as Phil is, he also tends to make enemies of people in management positions. That is because, while not an owner, he has a ‘my way or the highway’ mentality and he frequently manipulates through the press. This leaves a very active owner – and Jerry Buss was that – at odds with the coach at times. Combine this with the fact that Phil could make an end run around Jerry by using the press, and you can see where animosity might just rear its ugly head. This pattern is consistent with Phil’s days in Chicago so it wasn’t really a surprise.

    Now we also see that Phil took advantage of a wedge between Jerry Buss and Jerry West to push Jerry West entirely out of the organization and you begin to see a reason for Jerry Buss’s hesitance with ‘letting Phil under the tent’. While it was Jerry Buss who let Jerry West go, he was smart enough to see Phil’s fingerprints on the political manipulation going on at the time.

    Phil’s relation with the press is in direct opposition with the Buss family practice of keeping all information ‘in house’ until something was ready to be announced. Over the years, this has resulted in ‘leaks’ that undermined various Buss children – specifically Jim – and I suspect Jerry Buss not only didn’t appreciate it, but actively distrusted Phil when he was dealing with the Buss family.

    Now Phil is in New York. If any of this surfaces there, I expect Jim Dolan will not be very understanding. It will be interesting to see if Phil has learned by his mistakes with management, or if things come crumbling down sooner, rather than later.

  43. Warren Wee Lim May 6, 2014 at 10:20 am

    It is important to realize which among the popular routes of success is best to follow, and which applies to our situation. If you want to claim that the Sonics/Thunder path is the best, well you’re s#it out of luck because we can’t do that. If you want to reclaim past glory by thinking you can spend your way to a top caliber team, at this day and age, then you’re in even bigger trouble.

    Balance has always been the key, admit it or not, its the hardest thing to do as well. Balance is what the Lakers need to achieve starting this off-season and to parlay into the next. Opportunities abound us, its just a matter of perspective what we can do next.

    Kobe brings pressure to the organization because his presence alone is enough reason to compete. The high draft pick this year, possibly allows us a cheap salary for either a starter or someone we can groom to be a starter in a year or two. Kobe’s 23.5M is being offset by the rookie’s +/- 3.5M salary. Both guys represent very important phases of our team, the past and the future, and both will have to stand up at present and transcend time.

    Effective team building (esp in the new CBA) requires managing your payroll right. This is why Kobe’s deal hurt the team in some way. He represents a salary of 1.5 stars, which is why the rookie-deal of the incoming pick is a good equalizer. While I say that Kobe hurt us in some way, I want to reiterate that Kobe “should” be earning 15M, but I will not dwell on that because it cannot be undone anymore.

    Between Kobe, the rookie and Sacre, it represents 3 slots of the team worth 28 million. Going by expert estimates, 28 million is 45% of the team cap. If we luck out in picking that guy, we might be at the thick of things. If the guy is raw enough to be considered a project, well then.

    Steve Nash’s 9.7M represents 16% of the cap. If you are going to save yourself some money to sign Kevin Love or so in 2015, then you need to get yourself some 8.7M of expiring salary into your team (or not use it) just so you’ll have that next season.

    If we’re talking about contending as soon as we can, or increasing the odds of it atleast, Nick Young at 1.2 million needs to come back. It assures us a defacto starter.

    At this point, you’re probably sensing that in order to contend as early as we can, before we hit to actual free agency, we need these things to happen:

    1. Kobe back to health. Decline accounted for.
    2. Luck out on lottery, or the pick.
    3. Nick Young opts in, which is highly unlikely. But he might want to play beside Kobe.
    4. Steve Nash needs to be able to contribute something like 15 minutes a night.
    5. Set aside additional 8.7M of unused space or expiring salary to prep us to sign a big time FA in 2015.

    Suppose we did everything I mentioned, including a top 3 jump into the lottery and Nick Young opting in, you only have 23% or 14.3M to spend THIS summer that has salary that extends beyond 2014-15.

    Where does this put Pau Gasol, Jordan Hill and potential signings? Well, we’re in LA and we’re the Lakers. You need to ace your signings, and do every impossible thing I indicated above. Thats your blueprint to get to 50 wins next season, and take it the next level next season when you sign Kevin Love or so.

  44. Bresnahan (one of the few trustworthy ones, imo) reporting that Roy Williams is being considered for the head coaching position. Not clear if he is ahead of the pack or just another member.

  45. Craig-I think an additional issue the Dr had with Phil was over Phils relationship w Jeannie. The Dr was a life long philanderer, and I’m sure it was hard for him to swallow his own medicine when a much older guy dated his pretty baby daughter – particularly when Phil, until 2012, continuously and publicly expressed no desire to get married.

    Additionally, Philand Jeanie started dating while Phil’s divorce was not yet final – an additional fact that would certainly bother any father.

    And let’s not forget the impact Dr Buss’ disapproval may have had on the 4 Buss Boys.

    In short, IMHO I truly believe that Phil did a gigantic favor to the Lakers by taking the job in New York. That’s not a swipe at Phil or a dig at the Knicks – on the contrary, I hope in 4 years to be talking about the prospect of a new long-term finals rivalry between the Lakers and Knicks. That would be the best case scenario for all.

  46. Where would the Lakers have been without Phil Jackson? Would they have won a single title since the 80’s? We don’t know, but we know what was accomplished under PJ’s leadership. Fortunately, he’s the kind that does it his way or the highway. The Buss family, despite any hurt feelings, can thank their lucky stars for Phil.

    The way I see it, the Laker head coach needs to be the leader. Jim and Mitch must be smart about picking their coach and then allow the coach to lead. The coach is the brains of the organization. The owners pay the bills, the GM acquires talent, and it’s all in service to the head coach. It’s not a situation like, say, Miami or NY, where Riley and Jackson are leading from the FO.

  47. LT mitchell> “I think the “patient” group is grossly overestimating the gap between fringe playoff teams and contending teams. The gap is not nearly as big as people are making it out to be. One or two solid moves can be the difference.”

    The Lakers will need a leader or two on the floor and a stronger roster, and with good judgement and luck, will have those players eventually, maybe led by Kobe, or maybe not til after he’s gone if age and health decide the issue. If we’re talking championships, though, the Lakers need to find a great coach who brings a winning identity. Lots of teams become contending teams quickly by adding a Paul, Dwight, Harden, Jefferson, Lopez… or drafting a Lillard, George, Wall, Beal…, but they’re also-rans without a very solid foundation built under them. That’s where the Lakers have much work to do.

  48. MannyP, rfen and probably others:

    Agreed; I’m happy PJ took his act to NYC. A win win for us Lakers fans. If he succeeds in NY, good on him. If he fails, oh well. For us fans, a major distraction has moved a continent away.

    No need for regrets about what might have been for PJ in LA. He was instrumental in bringing five titles to LA, which is beyond wonderful; we should always be happy for that.

    However, all things must pass. Let’s keep in mind that his last two seasons in LA were nothing special, I think he had lost the team.

  49. 4 Year Plan: Whether it is a plan or not, we are a ways away from being a contender. Realizing it is one thing – liking it is another. If not liking it, is impatient – then I am impatient and have been ever since we lost in 2011. The irony of the 4 year plan is it is really an 8 year plan. The fact that we spent the first 4 years of the plan going in the wrong direction does not change the fact that it will be 8 years, and that is if indeed the “4 year plan” is successful. Problem is – I see little hope for the plan to be accelerated, while I see many ways it could take longer.

    Darius: “But the fact is that the team is, essentially, starting from as close to scratch as it possibly can be this summer.” Well we are starting close to scratch in terms of filling up the roster, but not in terms of filling up the cap. : )

    Aaron: “Signing average veterans like the mavericks will keep you in first round purgatory for a very long time.” That is indeed what we might be about ready to do. People do not like the word tank – however I know this is what you speak of. How else do you make it to the lottery?

    rr: “That said, ANY NBA organization losing Chris Paul to a league ruling and Dwight Howard without compensation could easily be down for a decade. Add that to all the traded picks, and it is a tough situation all around.” Yes – and let’s add on the Kobe extension and the coaching chaos and that decade could be an underestimate. And other than Paul, the whole rest of the list was self inflicted.
    “Destination Team” – Does anybody still believe this? We were a destination team a couple of years ago. At this point we have “arrived” at our destination : ) And the next stop is 4 years away : )

  50. Let’s keep in mind that his last two seasons in LA were nothing special, I think he had lost the team.

    The Lakers beat Boston to win the the NBA title in 2010, and then won 57 games and lost to the eventual NBA Champions in 2011. Then Phil left.

    Note to the FO apologists: while you guys are of course free to discuss whatever you like as long as Darius approves, I suggest that you go back to what Darius said a few weeks ago: this is Jim Buss’ time to lead. The excuses, narratives, explanations, and background stories are all gone. Dr. Buss has passed away, Phil is across the country, Jeanie has stayed here, and every deal from here on out in addition to Kobe’s will be ultimately approved by Jim and, with the exception of Robert Sacre’s deal, will have been signed under the new CBA. Either Jim Buss’s FO will get the job done, or it won’t.

    In terms of rehashing the past, I think one major takeaway is the various dangers of mixing business and family. We will see whether the Lakers can overcome that as things unfold.

  51. Mark Jackson out.

    A test for the Lakers front office. If they seriously consider or worse yet, actually pursue him, it bodes quite poorly for the team’s future.

  52. I expect Jim Dolan will not be very understanding. It will be interesting to see if Phil has learned by his mistakes with management, or if things come crumbling down sooner, rather than later.

    This applies to Dolan much more than to Phil. If Phil walks because Dolan is meddling, that will make the Knicks’ fans even angrier with Dolan than they already are.

    It’s cool if you think that the Lakers are better off without Phil; everyone is entitled to an opinion. But the idea that Phil is scrambling here is simply inaccurate.

  53. Mark Jackson is available and a proven commodity. Very worthy of an interview.

  54. The Warriors won 51 games with an injury prone front court and one All Star in a tough Western conference. Jackson pretty much got as much as he could out of the group this season. Firing him was dumb. It is especially dumb when the team is trending up and their best player really connects with him. But those are the breaks.

    Scott Brooks better be looking over his shoulder.

  55. Simplistic offense, irrational lineups and substitutions patterns, overbearing religious zeal, self-aggrandizing, small-minded and insecure (see assistant coach firings), and finally, and most importantly, banned Jerry West from the locker room and practices.* No way, no hell, Mark Jackson is even interviewed by the Lakers. Book it.

    *The single biggest reason that I despise Phil Jackson

  56. Fair enough rr; I just fired my fact checker. :0)

    I do stand by my other comments however.

  57. I think the Lakers are better off with Jackson in N.Y., not that I didn’t respect his coaching. I just have never bought into the reverence he gathered from the Laker faithful. Jerry West has earned that from us, but Phil brought a number of ‘stickers’ in his personality and they have conveniently been ‘forgotten’ by many of us fans. My point above was that he (Phil Jackson) earned some of the distrust he garnered from management and it will be lessons he should have learned that will help him in N.Y. – as well as the lessons Dolan must learn. If it fails there, it will be on both their shoulders, however Phil manages to twist things originally.

  58. If it fails there, it will be on both their shoulders, however Phil manages to twist things originally.

    Not so much, at least in terms of perception. Phil has 13 rings, and was actually a member of the only two Knicks champions. Dolan, OTOH, is literally a punch line.

    And what you are saying about Jackson and West actually applies to more readily to Jerry and Jim Buss. It is Jim Buss who needs to to earn the respect of the fans now, and there is only way for him to do it: by winning. Period. Buss himself even said as much. Everything else is soap bubbles at this point.

    According to Lazenby, West was very much against hiring Phil, at least initially, and said so using, shall we say, a bit of off-color language, so I think it is likely that the hostility was there on both sides from the beginning.

    In any case, whatever kind of guy Phil is, he delivered in his job. We shall see if Jim Buss can do the same.

  59. As to Mark Jackson, it is a strange story. GS had their best season in many years, and here is what Curry had to say after Game 7, prior to the firing:

    After losing to the Clippers, Warriors All-Star guard Stephen Curry said, “I love Coach more than anybody. For him to be in a position where his job is under scrutiny and under question is totally unfair.”

    So the star loves him, attendance is up, the Warriors are playing without their center, and they extend a team that is better than they are to 7…and Jackson gets fired. Depending on how things play out, this will either be seen as a meddling owner messing things up or a courageous move that works out.

  60. On Mark Jackson:

    The assistant coach thing is weird, and his rotations have been criticized. But the Warriors have improved under him.

  61. Rr- there are issues w Jackson that go beyond the basketball court. Don’t want to get banned, so I will only say that he has certain conservative points of view that clash with the San Francisco culture. The team is trying to get an arena built there and Jackson is a liability on that front.

    For these same reasons I think the Lakers will pass up on him – unless he does a 180 on his comments.

  62. Well, fine, and obviously he wasn’t getting along with management. But I generally think basketball teams should focus on the basketball court as much as possible.

  63. So, apart from OKC that hasn’t won a single title yet, can you please name one team that achieved the title building through the draft only? I’m not asking for much, just one.

    ——-

    Draft “only” is borderline impossible in today’s NBA; there will always be some free agents or trade additions. But I’d suggest the Spurs’ core of Duncan, Parker and Ginobili is as good as one could get in making an argument about building a championship core through the draft.

    The Spurs used both luck (losing Robinson for a season and parlaying that into the No. 1 pick) and skill (finding Ginobili at No. 57). But as important as their talent is/has been, the Spurs have also stayed competitive by keeping an established front office and coaching staff that have jointly created a culture of success. The Bowens and Horrys moved on, but new blood like Leonard comes in. All the while, there is never a change in the team’s culture.

    The Lakers had that culture/identity under Riley, and again under Phil. It starts with a good coach, and talent being placed around him. Whether it works or not in the end, I respect what Ainge is trying to do in Boston, as it mirrors that model. My main hope is that the Lakers’ next coach can be one who is able to create another era of consistency in Los Angeles, as that attracts talent as much as the sunshine, hottie fans or big TV ratings.

    Hopefully a healthy Kobe, a very good draft addition and a solid hire as head coach will be the next steps in building the foundation.

    As to the statement, “Rooting for losses in order to get a higher draft pick (and all the uncertainties that are attached to it) is not real fandom in my opinion…”

    We’re all entitled to an opinion. Just note that I had high hopes for the Lakers at the start of the last season, and I respected the team’s decision to not mirror the 76ers and deliberately throw away a whole year. I didn’t begin to hope for losses until it was clearly evident that 2013-14 was a lost cause, with so many key players hurt and no chance at the playoffs. Only after hitting that point did I begin to hope for losses, as a better draft pick would be the lone consolation for an otherwise damned season.

    In my view, hoping for losses in March and April was the long view for a faster track to rebuilding. I stand by that sentiment as a lifelong Lakers fan.

  64. Well, fine, and obviously he wasn’t getting along with management. But I generally think basketball teams should focus on the basketball court as much as possible.

    ————————

    Me too, and in my mind that would include leaving one’s religious faith out of the workplace. I expect that where I work, and don’t see why a professional sports team should be any different.

    Perhaps its a news flash to some, but in my experience there are number of different religious beliefs out there, and not just in the Bay Area. I don’t know what my boss believes, he doesn’t organize bus trips for his employees to his church (if he has one), and that’s all more than fine with me (since I don’t work for a religious organization).

  65. Me too, and in my mind that would include leaving one’s religious faith out of the workplace. I expect that where I work, and don’t see why a professional sports team should be any different.

    Professional sports teams are actually very different than the environments in which most people work in any number of ways. But the thing is…you can always find a new coach, and apparently Jackson didn’t go along enough. This article takes a pro-Lacob stance:

    http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/68070/mark-jacksons-way-and-the-highway

    That said, it is hard to make a good case for firing Jackson based on what the actual team did in the actual games.

  66. Warren Wee Lim May 7, 2014 at 2:38 am

    I like Mark Jackson both as a player and as a coach, results speak for itself. However, the next coach hire needs to stay away from stigmas. In short, do we really need “another Jackson” or “the wrong Jackson” ? ..

    My top choice is Jeff Van Gundy. Thibodeau is really interesting but we all know thats a long shot. What do we do again, do like what the Clippers did? Pay a 1st rounder for a coach? At this point, the Lakers have nothing to offer the Bulls, and besides, we need someone that can help Kobe and our franchise achieve the ultimate goal.

    If you like Thibs, well, JVG was the guy he learned his tricks from.

  67. I like JVG too. I followed those Houston teams quite closely and he did a lot with a very flawed roster.

  68. rr,
    Ok, we can agree to disagree. I do respect that you may have a valid viewpoint, however much I may disagree with it. Please accord me the respect that I, too, may have a valid viewpoint that has facts behind it.

  69. rr – interesting True Hoop post; thanks for sharing. Here’s one that discusses how Doc and PJ have handled spirituality with their players.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/for-nba-teams-religion-can-be-unifying-or-divisive/2014/05/06/33c810fc-d54b-11e3-8f7d-7786660fff7c_story.html