Lakers Slide to 7th in Draft Lottery

Darius Soriano —  May 20, 2014

Earlier we wondered how lucky the Lakers would be in the draft lottery.

Seems the answer is, based on your perspective, that their luck on Tuesday night was either slightly bad or neutral as the slid down a spot from their slotted 6th position to settle into the 7th selection in next month’s NBA draft. (As an aside, I don’t think you can argue they were unlucky considering the second most likely spot they would pick at was 7th and that’s exactly where they will pick. But I digress.)

Regardless of what is said in the aftermath, this is not the “worst case scenario” for the Lakers (that would have been falling to 9th). In fact, it’s not even that bad a spot to be in.

Most pundits would tell you that this draft, like every other, has talent that falls into tiers. The very top tier consists of 3 players — Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins, and Jabari Parker. The next player on most draft boards is Dante Exum, a player who is the most intriguing prospect and has a high ceiling, but also someone we don’t know much about due to him being from Australia and not playing in a major European league. So, lets slot him in his own tier right below the aforementioned big three.

The next tier, however, is about four players deep and consists of Marcus Smart, Noah Vonleh, Aaron Gordon, and Julius Randle. If the top four picks go as expected, at least one of these players will be available when the Lakers pick. Any of these players would instantly help a talent barren Lakers’ roster that only has 3 players under contract heading into free agency.

Of course we are early in the process. Player ranks are subject to change and are sure to fluctuate as guys go into their individual and group workouts. By the time we actually get to the draft, who knows how those workouts, agent maneuvering, team needs, and several other variables will shape draft boards of all the teams — including the Lakers’.

What we do know, though, is that the Lakers are very likely to have more than one very good player available when they pick. Will it be one of those top two to four players we all lusted after just 12 hours ago? Probably not. But it will be someone who has a chance to come in, compete for a rotation spot and, through hard work and proper development be a high level contributor for years to come for this franchise.

That, more than anything else, is my takeaway from tonight.

With Kobe and Nash the Lakers have name recognition and with Robert Sacre (and, if his contract option is picked up, Kendall Marshall) they have a young player who will work hard and fight for a rotation spot. But beyond those players, they are a blank slate. They need talent and especially young, athletic talent. The players likely to be available when the Lakers pick should be both young and talented. If they are also smart, hard working, and willing to take in some of what Kobe and Nash (and other veterans the team is likely to sign) have to offer in terms of experience and how to be a professional in this league, they can grow into the type of player we will all be proud to root for.

Time will tell what happens with this pick, but I’d be lying if I said I weren’t excited. The Lakers need good players and whoever they draft has an opportunity to be one.

Darius Soriano

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90 responses to Lakers Slide to 7th in Draft Lottery

  1. Ding reports the Lakers love Vonleh at #7. Wonder why they let that leak.

  2. Without top 3 picks, i think the Kevin Love conversation is over. Do you have 2nd picks? We need to find diamonds in the rough. We can hope for another kind of luck.

  3. So Celts will take him.

    At first I was bummed. Then after reading Darius I remembered. Lakers have NOTHING! Nash is done, stealing money. Sacre a D leaguer that tries hard. Marshall can’t stop my wife.

    Right now they have one NBA player Kobe. Last time I checked you need 5. So you see who ever they get at 6 or 7 or where ever it’s way better then what they have.

    Boy did someone mess this thing up. Remember when the 8th or. 9th guy on the team was really good? Now that guy would be 2nd best player on Lakers.

    If the pick can run and chew gum he will be a improvement. Someone really messed this thing up!

  4. From other thread:

    Players picked at #7 from 1980-2013:

    2013-Ben McLemore
    2008-Eric Gordon
    2007-Corey Brewer
    2006-Randy Foye
    2005-Charlie Villanueva
    2004-Luol Deng
    2003-Kirk Hinrich
    2001-Eddie Griffin
    2000-Chris Mihm

    The best guy taken at 7 since 1980 is probably Steph Curry or Chris Mullin.

  5. Also from other thread:

    3rd pick:

    2013-Otto Porter
    2012-Bradley Beal
    2011-Enes Kanter
    2010-Derrick Favors
    2009-James Harden
    2008-OJ Mayo
    2007-Al Horford
    2006-Adam Morrison
    2005-Deron Williams
    2004-Ben Gordon
    2003-Carmelo Anthony
    2002-Mike Dunleavy Jr.
    2001-Pau Gasol

    The best #3 ever is of course Michael Jordan. Busts include Chris Washburn and Darius Miles.

  6. Decent spot but could’ve been better as the recent NBA combine has shown that there’s still top talent available past the 10th pick. One thing landing 7th does is silence the K Love rumors but hopefully FO considers dropping lower (a FEW spots tho) to either acquire another first rounder (doubtful) or an early 2nd round pick.

    Some players who’ve taken advantage of the combine include Rodney Hood (SF), Patrick Young, Kyle Anderson, and Zach Lavine-guard (better shooter than Exum and Smart currently) while being Kobe fan as Lavine tries to model his game after R Westbrook and Steph Curry (smooth jumper).

  7. Now is the time for Mitch and the Lakers’ scouting department to earn their money. Lots of irons in the fire. Big coaching decision as well. Something tells me Mitch won’t have much time for Malibu Beach this summer.

  8. The lucky numbers are not known yet. It’s not where you pick but who. Look at the best 3 players picked each year. They don’t go 1-3. Fourth to seventh best don’t go 4-7. The player the Lakers choose has a chance to be the best of the lot, or at least one of the better picks.

  9. I am so high on Aaron Gordon. That kid is going to be real good. He might not have a jump shot but he is a lock-down defender and finishes above 70% around the rim which will be both translate. He knows how to ball too.

  10. Lucky number 7, baby! Let’s stay positive.

  11. Renato Afonso May 21, 2014 at 7:16 am

    Oh well, assuming we keep that we’re not going to trade whoever we select with this pick, this certainly makes Mitch’s job easier from a drafting standpoint. First of all, Embiid, Parker, Wiggins and Exum ill probably be picked before we get our chance to do so. Then, it’s safe to assume that two out of Gordon, Vonleh, Randle and Smart will be picked, so Mitch, probably, will only have to pick between two “available” players.

    If I were to rank them, I would have Randle ahead of Vonleh, Gordon and Smart in that order and the only one I really don’t like is Smart. Regarding Lavine, I don’t think he’s a necessity since we can sign more than reliable PG’s (think Farmar) that will have more immediate impact in our team. However, agent maneuvering, as it was stated above, may greatly influence who will be available at 7th. Is it far fetched to think that, despite his latest public remarks, Exum is really interested in joining the Lakers and Rob Pelinka is making it happen in the backstage? I’m not saying it will happen, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it did. At least this draft will be fun for us…

  12. Now is the time for Mitch and the Lakers’ scouting department to earn their money. Lots of irons in the fire. Big coaching decision as well.
    That´s it in a nutshell; & `Lucky #7´ is a heck of a mantra for the time being!!

  13. melcountscounts May 21, 2014 at 8:12 am

    Please, no Aaron Gordon. Please.

    Could do worse than Marcus Smart, physical strong point, may shore up permeter defense..

  14. As other have noted the Lakers have needs at all five positions. With that said, I like Smart. He’s wide and strong. He’s ready to play now. And he can provide some defense at the PG position. In the West stopping the point is a top priority.

    On a side note, I figure Wiggins and Embiid will be the top two picks. I wonder what their reactions were when they realized Cleveland and Milwaukee have the top two picks.

  15. It could be worse… If the Lakers don’t tank next year they lose their pic all together

  16. darius: so much for our 2nd pick. lakers next move is to select and then announce their next head coach before the nba draft june 26th 2014.

    Go lakers

  17. Aaron: “It could be worse… If the Lakers don’t tank next year they lose their pic all together” I have said this a few times. Was told I was wrong here and was completely mocked on SSR. Of course this would all require planning. If you were working towards the long term tank, you would not be entertaining big trades or FA this summer. You would simply make our pick, sign some vagabonds to fill the roster at 1-2 year deals and let Kobe go for it. It appears as you are pointing out that we have our target set for places 7-13 in the standings.
    rr: Please respond to Aaron and I, as you state the counter to this most eloquently. Also- please see the headline above. “Lakers Slide to 7th” Why do I think that happened a long time ago? : )

  18. Chris Y,
    I am glad you qualified that lineup by calling it a “dream”, because it sure ain’t happening on the Lakers under this collective bargaining agreement.

  19. Most observers are assuming that either Boston or Utah will take Vonleh. So, my guess is that the Lakers’ guy will be one of


    Or, if they want to reach, LaVine.

    I think it is possible that Utah will try to put something together to move up a couple of spots so they can get Parker.

  20. On the bright side… It might be good we got the seventh pic… He will be bad enough for us to get a top five pic next year.

    Robert: I’ve been advocating tanking for three consecutive years since before last year even started. As soon as Kobe had his career ending injury tanking was the only way to go. I never read SSR so I wouldn’t know. But the majority of the folks here understand it’s better to have the worst record than the seventh worst record.

  21. Kobe needs to play the 3 going forward, too old & slow to chase 2 guards around screens i.e Redick, Klay Thompson, Danny Green, etc.

    PG: Kyle Lowry ($10M per yr), Farmar (we all know Nash won’t play more than 10 games)
    SG: Lance Stephenson ($10M per yr), X Henry
    SF: Kobe, Swaggy
    PF: Vonleh/Gordon, Hill
    C: Pau, Sacre

    From what I understand, they would have to renounce the rights to all their free agents, sign Lowry & Stephenson, then re-sign Pau, Swaggy, Hill, Farm, Henry. Not exactly sure if they can do this, will need to check with Larry Coon.

  22. Robert,

    I am not sure what point you are making, exactly. I never said that tanking next year was necessarily a bad idea (maybe you are talking about other posters) but there are two reasons why I think it won’t happen:

    1. If we believe the FO, the Lakers are trying to make a FA push in July 2015. In order to make that happen, they will need to try to have a better team on the floor in 2014 than they did this year. Unless there is a guy in the 2015 draft class who is a Duncan/James guy and the Lakers get him, top-tier FAs in their mid-20s are probably not going to be drawn in by some 19-year-old joining a team that lost 59 games. So, I don’t think you can hope for a FA score in in July 2015 and also be a tank commander at the same time.
    2. Kobe has a two-year deal that takes up 35-40% of the cap. If they had let Kobe walk, or signed him for one year, then maybe. They didn’t.

    Also, I believe Mitch when he told Sam Amick that he was shooting for 40s in wins/low playoff seed this past year. I thought the team being that good was highly unlikely, and said so before training camp started. But I think they were trying to be Dallas–that is why Young, Kaman, and Farmar were brought in.

    But, even if they try for 40-45 wins as a FA recruiting tool next year, there are a lot of moving pieces that could change that and they might be unwilling tankers again:

    1. Cleveland has the #1 pick, which may mean that they will draft Embiid, keep Deng, and try for a mid-tier playoff seed in the East. That takes Deng off the market.
    2. Lowry may simply stay in Toronto.
    3. Love and Aldridge, and maybe Marc Gasol, may be locked up and off the market at some point during the season or after the draft. Memphis is changing management, Portland had a really good year, and Love might be a Warrior or a Bull by August.
    4. Kobe may go down again, and even if he doesn’t, he may be ineffective.

    Also, remember that Young and Kaman are “vagabonds”–and their late-season occasional heroics helped dropped the Lakers below Utah and Boston in the draft.

    So, again, I think sometimes that you look too much at the idea of a “plan” and “titles” and not enough at the actual pieces on the chessboard. The Lakers may go 22-60 next year without consciously trying to break down the roster to do so.

  23. Lakafan,

    I kinda like your hypothetical line-up (if it can be managed under the current CBA). A couple of other options:

    PG: Marcus Smart (rookie contract)
    PF: Greg Monroe ($10 Mill)

    I like the idea of playing Kobe at the 3. He might go for it himself.

  24. Of the tier of 4 players likely to be available I would choose in this order.

    1) Vonleh – Soft hands, good on both sides of the court, most potential to develop into an all-star level player.

    2) Gordon – Amazing motor and speed. He was I believe the only non guard to place in the top 10 in speed drills neck and neck with Smart. Thats pretty amazing Translates into great defense, break aways on offense. His big draw back is he not a great shooter.

    3) Smart – Great floor general, strong body, deals with contact well, good on defense, He is not amazingly fast and lacks a solid outside shot for a PG. I would consider drafting Smart over Gordon if I knew what the Lakers plans were at PF. But I think Gordon is slightly better from a talent perspective.

    4) Randle – I would not draft Randle. I would like to see the Lakers address their defensive woes. And Randle is just too slow. One of the other guys will be available and they all are btter defensive players.

    I think there are remote chances of Exum forcing his way down, or Embiid falling further down then expected due his back concerns. If it happened the Lakers should draft them. Though if it were Embiid I think Mitch would be popping tums as he pulled the trigger.

    (edited for trade speculation)

  25. What kind of thinking is this about signing Lowry and Stephenson to long term deals. You want to cap out the team for 4 years and have zero legit all stars (Kobe will get voted in) and 7 – 8 seed in the west?

  26. As a reminder, trade speculation will be deleted.

  27. I want gordon. Can guard positions 1-4, and I see his floor as an iggy or marion type player if he never gets a consistent jump shot. If he does develope a jumper kid is pretty much unguardable. Great handle, vision, rebounder and was hands down the best defender in xollege basketball.

  28. Dan – Paying Lowry & Stephenson a combined $20M is money will spent IMO. Both are still fairly young and are in their prime or getting close to it. Plus both guys are tough as nails, can play D, and would not be classified as soft. After Kobe retires in 2 years, that still leaves $40M+ of cap room to chase elite talent (KD, Westbrook). Keep in mind the cap will continue to rise in the next few years also. Backcourt would be set for next 4/5 years.

  29. RT@WojYahooNBA: Mike Dunleavy, Sr. interviews for Lakers coaching job w/Mitch Kupchak.

  30. Dunleavy? It’s bad enough the Clippers have become the smarter run organization in recent years…now Jimbo is interviewing Clipper rejects? Who’s next on Jimbos list? Del Negro?

  31. I would not draft Embiid even if available, his back problems have “bust” written all over it. These guys stock will go up or down as Draft day aproaches. Who knows who will be available by them. Sign Stephenson? So he comes off the bench? Someone forgot who is still our starting SG? We need to draft a pg or a wing.A pg preferably in my opinion.

  32. Kobe might be able to play wing ocassionally but full time? Nah, and he might be slower now but if he recovers he can make it up for being slower with his vast experience and smarts. I seen him outplay,outsmart and shut down a lot of younger faster players when he has a mind to do it. He is going to be hungry as hell. If there is something i know about the Black Mamba is that he is not to be underestimated. I dont see whats the big deal interviewing Dunleavy, is the Lakers doing due diligence, i really really doubt he is going to be the next coach, people needs to chill the hell out.

  33. Lakafan: Like Mid-Wishire, I like your thinking. I wouldn’t overpay for Lowry; and I think Mid-W presents a couple other options. The key thing is playing Kobe at the 3, and signing Stephenson.

    Truth is, we need assets. Signing quality players to a bit more than market value contracts is the best way forward. As you point out, there is still enough cap space to sign a top-level player once Kobe comes off the books. Those quality players under manageable contracts are chips. To be kept or moved as need to build the roster. We need to spend money to get where we can attract talent.

    Jim213: You’re right about LaVine’s shooting. He’s the guy I expect to climb the most in the draft, going anywhere from 6-10. With his skill set, and measurables, he has as much talent as any of these prospects.

    rr: I agree that Vonleh will be gone before the Laker’s pick. But Aaron Gordon is a very nice prospect and should be available at #7. He compares very nicely with Kawai Leonard as a prospect: great athleticsm, great size as a three, and tough enough to guard fours in stretches, big hands, better passer and ball handler than Leonard, exceptional defender, will improve due to work ethic and intelligence. Not a bad consolation pick if we can’t get Vonleh.

    Vasheed: Agree with your rankings and especially your thoughts on Randle–whom I expect to still be on the board when the Lakers pick. We need floor spacing bigs; that isn’t Randle.

  34. Kobe can’t play sg anymore… Too old, slow, injured. Must be a SF now

  35. omg – if they hire dunleavy as head coach they have seriously lost their minds and turned this great laker organization into a soap opera. just make it a reality show already.

  36. Coaches wanted: Must be named Mike.

  37. Darius Soriano May 21, 2014 at 10:23 am
    As a reminder, trade speculation will be deleted.

    How about tanking speculation? Can it please be deleted as well?

    I mean seriously, we’ve had absolutely endless variations on the theme of the Lakers failing their way to success …

  38. Dunleavy? Please, no…

  39. Lakafan,

    Kobe definitely can’t defend most 2’s anymore. He can post them up though. But he will need some real shooters around him to stop teams from just doubling him when he tries to post up. Putting him at small forward might be a stretch though. He is a little too short and definitely too light for that position.

    I think the Lakers need to draft the most NBA ready player they can get their hands on. They also may have to overpay for a guy like Bledsoe (or someone similar). For example, if they can get Bledsoe and pair him with Randle then they have a PG and post player. The goal is to make the team competitive again and attractive to key free agents down the line.

    It used to be that marquee free agents moved and talent followed them. Now that seems flipped. The Lakers need to put together a competitive, reasonably priced team to lure the big fish.

  40. I like Dunleavy as coach… as long as it’s on a 10-day contract.
    Then we can hire Fish as soon as the Thunder implodes against the Spurs.

  41. Stephenson has reportedly been causing significant chemistry issues in Indiana (his brawl with Evan Turner being only one example). I think it would be a good idea to pass on him.

  42. darius: no doubt the laker front office have no viable head coach candidate otherwise they would have taken the necessary steps to secure one by now. in two to three weeks smells iike the next laker head coach is already on their wish list and the hope is that things will die down between now and the time they make the (depending on your personal preference) horrendous or great head coach decision. the more, the merrier? due diligence? perhaps. makes for great back page second guessing. just waiting for phil Jackson to throw out (like bait on a lure) the next speculative head coaching name to follow along like a bouncing ball.

    we still got time, what’s the hurry? ask mitch kupchak; he seems to have things well underhand; overhand; sleight of hand.

    Go lakers.

  43. Stephenson is Larry Bird’s favorite Pacer. Larry will never let him go. In my opinion, Stephenson will be the be player on the Pacers in 2 years. If he afreed to be a Laker it would be a major coup.

  44. I am crushed that we did not get a top 3 pick. I must say I was hoping that a major rebuilding block was going to be acquired in the draft.

    I do think this draft will tell a lot about what the team’s future will be like. If the Lakers keep it then that says the team is willing to invest in acquiring talent over the next few years. If they trade it for a veteran then that tells me they are in win now mode. Personally, I think the team needs to step back and do this the right way. Acquire young talent and look to compete in 2 or 3 years. No one move is going to turn this around.

    I have also been thinking about the benefits of moving down. Let’s say a player the FO wants would be there at #14 then a move, that also yields them #18, would be a benefit.

  45. Due diligence is interviewing smart basketball minds and hot prospects like Steve Kerr, Kevin Ollie and Stan Van Gundy. Ooops, too late. Interviewing Dunleavy Is foraging in the scrap barrel.

    Dear Jimbo, I beg you! Show us fans something. Give us a clue….a tiny hint…. that you just might know what you are doing.

  46. i’m more interested in what the lakers do after they make the #7 pick. the lakers need aaron afflalo- and chandler parsons-type players/contracts.

  47. You guys that don’t want Dumbleavy clearly have no idea of the cost of changing the name sign on the coach’s office door.

    Money saved on the Mike sign can buy another baseball hat!

  48. LT mitchell – you hit on something that has been bugging me. The need for fresh ideas in the FO.

    I am in Marketing/Advertising. Without fail when a new individual took over a key position at XYX company one of the first things they did was generate a Request for Proposal. They would use this process to get perspective and unique ideas from multiple smart companies. More times than not the Request for Proposal was dropped without any business being awarded. The exercise was designed to get free consulting insight.

    The same goes for Jim and Mitch – they missed out on getting free consultative insight.

  49. LT Mitchel- why interview folks who have no intention of working here (SVG) or want too much control which we would not give (SVG)? Or unproven coaching prospects with limited experience outside of TV (Kerr)? Or a guy that says he is not interested in leaving his current job? There is an aspect of being efficient in due diligence that you seem to miss. In other words, due diligence does not mean chase all possible leads – even if remote or undesirable.

  50. Serious question: why is Dunkeavy such a bad choice?

  51. rr: I wasn’t making any point other than what I have said all along. A multi year tank is what is probably needed. I was serious that you made the counter point to that eloquently and you have done so again above. Don’t forget you are still my GM (Have you hired the coach yet?). The Lakers may unintentionally tank as you say, but the “plan” I am looking for is do we spend our money this summer to get incrementally better or do we wait? Waiting is a form of tanking. Signing vagabonds may not make us the worst in the league (that is hard to do with Milwaukee and Philly around), but it will keep our powder dry for the future and it will not make us too much better. My question to you as GM is this. If we make our pick and fill the roster with 1-2 year vagabonds, were will we finish? Alternatively – if I tell you to go for broke and get as good as we can get next year – where do we finish and at what cost? Then I would decide. My issue is that I am not sure Jim even thinks like that.
    Anon: Dunleavy is bad merely because his name is Mike at this point.

  52. Chess Board: Our King (Jim) is castled in his corner. Our Queen (Jeanie) has been captured (politically). One of our Knights (Magic) has been off the board for a while. Our Bishops (Jackson/West) are playing for the other side. We have Kobe – who is a Knight ready to ride his steed into battle and we have Pawns (vagabonds). Chess comparisons are not good, because if we are not already in checkmate, then the honorable thing to do would be to resign. Perhaps MD was on to something.

  53. Robert

    Plan won’t work. A healthy Kobe is already worth 6 or 7 wins. Any new coach not named Mike or Magoo is worth 5 or 6 wines. So if with your board of pawns you are going to be 10 to 12 games better and stuck in purgatory.

    Might as well draft the best player and spend the Max to take a shot at 8th or 7th. It’s not a fast checkmate but at least the game lasts awhile.

  54. The FO dont have to “show” us anything, they will hire a coach when they feel like it. First right after the season was over, the desperation about MDA, he is gone, Mitch said that they wont hire a coach right away, certainly not before the lottery, not even 24 hrs has passed and people are desperate asking about why we havent hire a coach yet. The Lakers know more than any of us that they need to get the pick and the coach right and they cant make pannicky decisions like people here want them to do. Mitch said it again today, they will interview more candidates and the process will take at least 2 or 3 more weeks. I dont get the freaking damn desperation. I forget the Doom n’ Gloom Club sometimes how silly of me.

  55. “A multi year tank” with what @&$@@$ picks?

  56. Even at full health I do not see the Lakers making the playoffs next year. I base this on the fact that the Suns won 48 games last season and missed them. I do not see the West as getting any easier.

    I don’t see the Lakers ceiling as being more than a.500 team. Nash and Pau (if he comes back) are almost guaranteed to miss substantial time. Even with Kobe at full strength I do not see how, as a 36 year old, he can perform at a level to carry the team.

    I will get in trouble for saying this, at this stage of his career Kobe should be a #2 or #3 option. That is why the defection of DHoward was such a dagger to the gut. We have no one to take up the slack. Did anyone look at the 36 year old Paul Pierce this past season? He was a shell of his former self. My fear is that is what Kobe will look like his season.

  57. Ko,
    A healthy Kobe? We will never see that again. The guy had back to back career altering injuries. Even if he stays on the court he won’t be anything above an average player. If the Lakers do everything they can to win next year they still miss the playoffs… So again… It just makes sense to try to ensure we get a draft pic next year.

  58. Comparing Pierce to Kobe? One never met a bar he didn’t like the other a gym he didn’t ‘t like.

    Not buying that. .

  59. Here is the plan: Joel Embiid refuses to allow any team, drafting 1-6, to have access for medicals. However, his agent back channels to the Lakers that everything is OK. The Lakers then draft the best player in the draft at the 7th slot.

  60. Issues with Dunleavy, he does not adjust in game. He makes bad tactical decisions. Remember, he was the one that coached Portland during their game-7 implosion against us in 2000. His move to bring in Ewing for the Clips, againsts the Suns, in 2006 blew that series for his team. He made no adjustment to Magic getting clamped down by Pippin in ’91. His only significant success was with Magic as an on court coach. Plus, you should listen to Baron Davis’ interview on The Moment with Brian Koppleman. His time with the Clippers gives insight to Dunleavy that fits what I see when watching his teams. Too rigid, too mechanical, too controlled, lacks creativity and does not build trust with his players. Brand deserted him for a reason and Baron was slurred by Dunleavy. If Dunleavy is hired, we can all look forward to an utterly infuriating experience as Lakers fans and I will be counting down the days until Jim Buss fulfills his pledge to step down. It would be a huge disappointment to see the Lakers go with that flat retread of a mediocrity.

    Messina, Fish, Stan Van are still out there. BTW, I don’t know if anybody remembers my call out in February, when I suggested that Luke Walton might be the next Pat Riley for us. A former player, TV looks, has championship experience, did some coaching and worked as a TV guy before taking the job that made him a legend. I still think Fish is a viable option and lean in his direction, but Luke is another interesting possibility.

    I don’t mind if we get Smart at #7 but I really don’t like his jumper. His release is on the left side of his head. If it worked, fine but his numbers as a spot up shooter, or shooting off the dribble leave a lot to be desired. Gordon’s free throw shooting is a big red flag for me. 42% guys. That is horrible. He’d have to improve his percentage by 80% to be competent. Guys like that do not become good jump shooters. I’m not saying I hate the guy but he is my least favorite out of the Vonleh, Smart, Randal, Gordon group. Getting Vonleh would be a huge get. He has some of the biggest hands measured at the combine ever, and they are soft. He is very mobile and long. He draws fouls, can shoot from the line and behind the 3. Vonleh also got 37′ on his max vert. That is not bad for a big, at all. It’s not freakish but it’s solid. Vonleh is a prototypical stretch 4 with all the tools to become a guy who hurts you down low and play defense. I lust for Vonleh at the 7.

    I don’t know what is easier to fix, Smart’s jumper from the left of his head or Randal’s left hand dominance. Remember all those times we excreted bricks because LO went left, imagine that with this kid, who not only goes left but also seems to refuse to use his right hand around the rim. Other then that, I like Randal. Gordon is my least favorite of those guys and no way I reach for LeVine at 7. Trade down if LeVine is that good. I saw a raw kid, with some IQ issues and a jumper that deserted him the second half of the season. While guys like Westbrook, Maggette and other college bench players were drafted and became very good to exceptional players, they still got plenty of playing time. Take a look at LeVine’s PT in February and March. In a draft like this, you reach fate will teach.

  61. Anon: Agree with KO that Kobe and Pierce are 180 degrees apart in terms of how they treat their bodies. However, I think Aaron is correct in that the Kobe we last saw in 2012/13 is gone forever. And, unfortunately, that is the Kobe the Lakers will need to make the playoffs next year. Not going to happen.

  62. Ko nail it, comparing Paul freakin Pierce with Kobe Bryant..speechless, if healthy Kobe is going to be fine, not the same player as before but he has more smarts and savvy than anyone in the league. People forget something, that he truly “got game” and can adjust his style accordingly bc he has the skill to do so. And he being the freak that he is, he is going to play with a humongous chip on his shoulder. Like i said and a lot of people has said, including the people that truly know, the Lakers unless Mitch works a miracle, wont be that good next year, they should be better than this past season, thats easy. If people wants a contender between here and opening day they must be insane or dumb. Aint happening, Mitch and James Worthy now has been preaching patience for a while now but people dont seem to get the memo. People are overthinking too much.

  63. P. Ami: “I will be counting down the days until Jim Buss fulfills his pledge to step down.” Take out the words “will be” and replace them with “am” and you and I are identical : )

  64. Nobody knows how Kobe’s going to recover. Or how he’ll adjust his game, or what style the team will be playing, or if he can even stay healthy enough to play… I’d never count him out until I see it with my own eyes. I know with him playing, there won’t be much tolerance for losing. If the Lakers end up at the bottom next season, it’ll be because things didn’t go the way they’d hoped. As far as moves they make til then, they want to be the best they can be, but without committing to any inhibiting contracts. It really doesn’t even matter if they need to look good for potential free agents, and of course next year’s draft isn’t something they plan for. Winning, within their means, is the only consideration. Making the playoffs is always the first goal, even if they’re not favored to go very far. At least that’s the reality I know, and as a fan, I root for them to do the best they can under those circumstances.

  65. Unfortunately, Kobe will never be the same player he was pre-Achilles heel but what we can all look forward to is his competitiveness and desire to prove the naysayers wrong. Kobe will return with a game below the rim that relies on foot work and good old fashioned will power. If he suffers another set-back I look for him to retire rather than become irrelevant.

  66. Don’t feel bad because the Ko above I have used for 3 years is not mine. I will be changing my name to my last name. Silly stuff

  67. I dont get the freaking damn desperation.

    Some facts:

    The Lakers are going into next year with over 50% of the cap committed to two guards who will be a combined 76 years old when play starts and played 21 games–combined–last year, and who did not play very well in most of those 21 games. They have already committed to making a 37-year-old coming off two major leg injuries the NBA’s highest-paid player in 2015-16. They have no good or even decent young players under contract.

    As Brian Kamenetzky detailed today, they are facing a severe lack future of draft picks. They are picking at #7 this year, and as the list that I provided shows, getting a good player at 7 is not easy. The fact that this is supposedly a great draft mitigates that somewhat, but the Lakers would have been helped by catching a big break in the lottery, as Cleveland did. It didn’t happen.

    The Lakers have an unusual ownership/decision-making structure, unlike any other in the NBA, and there are legitimate questions about how well it will work. It does not have a great track record. A perception exists, and specifics exist to back up that perception, that the Lakers are behind the curve in their use of analytics, both in terms of evaluating player performance and preventing player injury.

    They are also facing an extremely tough competitive landscape, with a talented and exciting Clippers team in town, and the West stacked top-to-bottom. The only team in the West that won fewer games than the Lakers did, Utah, will pick two slots ahead of the Lakers, and may land a better player than the Lakers get at 7 to add to what is already a better talent core than the Lakers have.

    And, of course, they do not have a coach.

    Working against these realities are the facts that the Lakers have a strong brand, play in LA, and will have some cap space. That’s it.

    So, therefore, we have people telling us about process, people telling us that Chris Paul and Dwight Howard are chokers and losers, people telling us that Phil will fail in New York, people telling us how great Zach LaVine may be someday, people telling us to trust the FO and to stop complaining. I understand that posters complaining every day is tiresome. But the facts indicate that the Lakers are in a very, very tough spot, and it is not at all unreasonable to be pessimistic right now.

  68. I blacklisted the impersonator. Hopefully that clears things up.

  69. I agree with Aaron 100% on Kobe. I don’t think he was trying to say as Pierces goes so goes Kobe. I believe he is saying age beats every player no matter how great they are. I can’t remember any shooting guard past the age of 35 excelling as a primary option. And when we consider Kobe’s mileage he’s really more like a 40 year old shooting guard. And when you add in the two major injuries it all seems like a long shot.

  70. Robert, I’m still fine with Jim. I like that he’s put himself under the gun and hope he holds himself to that standard. Or rather, I hope we never have to find out if he’d follow through. So far, most of the moves he’s made have been successful or defendable. Then again, I wasn’t a big fan of bringing Phil back. I wasn’t a fan of hiring MDA (once he was hired I was hoping he’d be okay) but all down the line, from trading for CP3 and Howard, gathering cheap athletic players last season to see if anyone sticks, to signing Kobe, to the plan for the future (keeping space available to lure a big time FA), I think the Lakers are doing the right thing. Hasn’t worked just yet, but a Dunleavy hire would indicate a catastrophic level of confusion on the part of leadership. From Mike Brown, to MDA to Mike Dunleavy…. that would show a pattern that needs cutting out from the tapestry.

  71. I’ll open myself to criticism with this, but I really do feel some of the Jim Buss/front office bashing here is overstated. (Pause to duck the bricks thrown my way…)

    He’s (very) far from perfect, as evidenced by the past two head coaching decisions. That said, he wasn’t the only one who felt Mike Brown had some solid credentials as an NBA boss; Brown clearly didn’t work in L.A., but hindsight is 20/20 and he still managed to land another head coaching gig. Dr. Buss had Randy Pfund and Magic as head coach, so even the best blow those decisions from time to time.

    The D’Antoni decision was harder to justify given the Phil availability, but had the Lakers hired Phil in 2012, I honestly do not believe that season works out much better than it did — the injuries and aged roster were beyond even Phil’s magic wand’s ability to fix.

    I personally hated Howard, but fans were clamoring for the Lakers to get him and Buss & Co. delivered arguably the league’s best big man. There was elation then. Buss & Co. also traded for Chris Paul before the league weighed in. And while many hated Bynum, landing a talent like that with the No. 10 pick was a great move. Adding guys like Young and Farmar last season were good moves too; injuries killed last season more than anything.

    Buss & Co. clearly whiffed on the Nash signing, and likely on Kobe’s extension. But that “Go For Broke Now” approach was in effect even before Jerry Buss died, and taking care of Kobe makes sense for many off the court reasons. There was clearly a desire to push for Kobe’s shot at No. 6, and the franchise mortgaged its future to some extent to pursue that goal.

    People give grief over losing Howard, but there were signs Howard didn’t want to be a Laker independently of what his thoughts on the owner may have been. To pin that “loss” on Jim Buss isn’t wholly accurate nor is it fair.

    My point here is that the entirety of the Lakers’ current problems don’t lie at Jim Buss’s feet. Looking ahead, however, the future really will bear his fingerprints. That’s why this next coaching decision and draft choice are so critical — if the Lakers nail those, people’s faith in the current leadership should improve.

    While Buss has had some missteps, I don’t see him in the Sterling/Dolan tier of complete incompetence. Let’s see what comes next.

  72. I am warming up to the idea of Fisher being our new coach. Hear me out:
    1. Most folks agree that we are not going to make the playoffs next year. So there is no pressure to win now.
    2. If need be, Kobe can provide him with cover out on the floor and in the locker room.
    3. While Fisher fine tunes his craft the FO is assembling talent which makes the Lakers competitive in 2 or 3 years.

  73. Anon,

    Good post, but even Buss’ harshest critics would acknowledge many of those points.

    But the key point is the last one: as has been said, all the escape hatches, contextual arguments, and excuses are gone: the Old Man has passed, Phil is gone, and all the deals signed under the old CBA are off the books. Nash’s deal is left as the only remnant of the Lakers going nuclear, and Jim was already in a prominent role by then, and that deal will be up after next year.

    So at this point, Jim Buss will either get it done or he won’t, and he gave himself a 3-4 year timetable. So far, two big decisions have been made since the passing of the Old Man:

    1. Kobe’s extension (strongly disagreed with it).
    2. Negotiating a buyout with D’Antoni rather than extending him (agreed with it).

    Like you say. next up: draft pick and coach.

    Also, Sterling eventually mostly got out of the way of the basketball ops.

  74. melcountscounts May 21, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    All those draft picks for Nash, still shaking my head…..

  75. Awwwwwwwwww…I missed it. Who was impersonating who? Or is it “whom”?

  76. ***Bryan S***

    Agree with your view of Lavine but he has a lot to learn too. Just like Exum and the one and out college players. IMO, he’ll likely go between 9th and 15th. Aside of that if the Lakers end up drafting a PF like Vonleh, Randle, or Gordon while deciding to keep him long term then there’s no use in going after Love (PF/strength) down the road.

    If not for the long term then one of these players if acquired should be considered as a possible trade asset if Love happens to remain with the Wolves come trade deadline. By then the Lakers would have a full roster of assets (players picked up this off season) to try get something going as if not there’s always Chris Bosh in 2015FA (with championship experience).

    Thus, IMO hopefully FO considers drafting a FEW spots lower to try to make the most of the draft b/c the Nuns will likely acquire the Lakers pick (with a healthy Lakers roster) next year tho top 5 protected as the 2nd round pick may also be in jeopardy next year tho protected (31-40). However, next season will come down to what players FO can acquire to help the starting rotation IMO.

  77. And the award for the post with the least understanding of how the collective bargaining agreement impacts roster construction goes to Chris Y. Congratulations! Your prize is a link to Larry Coon’s Salary Cap FAQ:

  78. Trip: Chad Ford touched on how Embiid could slide in the draft.

    Eric (Delaware)
    We saw Nerlens Noel slide to No. 6 last draft because of injury concerns in what was by far a weaker class. If teams are concerned with Embiid’s back do you see the same thing happening to him? I think if I were a gm and I wanted a big guy I might pass on Embiid for either Randle or Vonleh. How far could you see him sliding?

    Chad Ford (1:52 PM)
    The back is an issue. But no one knows how much of an issue it is. If he gets a clean bill of health (totally clean) he’s in the mix with the Cavs at No. 1. If it’s clean, but with minor issues, I still think he goes Top 5. If this will require surgery or require him to miss a portion of his rookie season, he slides to 8-12.

  79. Chris Y: Baseball has no salary cap. Basketball does. Plus basketball has an incredibly onerous repeater tax penalty. Not hating on Kobe, but from a basketball perspective the reasons why the deal was a bad one are long (and have been well documented on this site).

  80. Kevin Ding reports Lakers like Vonleh.
    Doesn’t that tip off other teams who may be considering him?
    Does Ding not care or consider if this type of reporting affects the team’s chances of getting him?
    Or am I reading too much into it?

  81. If Boston or Utah wants Vonleh, and I think it is almost certain that one of them will, they will take him regardless of what they hear about the Lakers. Teams that won fewer than 30 games can’t really worry about other teams that much IMO.

  82. Front office of Celts probably pays attention to rumored prospects coveted by Lakers and vice versa I’m sure.
    Should be very interesting regardless.
    Looking forward to reports of workouts these young prospects have, which I assume will have definite impact on team selections.
    E.g. if Lakers fall in love with a player whose stock isn’t currently high, just makes sense to keep those cards close to the vest.
    Or maybe there’s no secrets these days thanks to the Internet. Exum’s stock for example has clearly risen beyond our reach, yet he was originally somewhat of an unknown.

  83. JC,

    There’s another 35 days until the NBA draft. The players will be working out before many of the teams. It will be a while before the Lakers really know for sure which player(s) they want. Anything could happen in 5 weeks. Right now, it’s way too early to tell.

  84. Duncan, Ginobili and Parker won their 111th career game in the playoffs, which passes Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Cooper from the Lakers for most in NBA history.
    Just read this in the recap of last night´s OKC-SA game…ugh
    the award for the post with the least understanding of how the collective bargaining agreement impacts roster construction goes to….
    With all the posts centering, mainly, around: draft picks, head coaches, our two aging vets, the FO´s competence (or incompetence, one), long-term tanks, current woes & the like, [& believe me folks, IMO most of our chatter is interesting, insightful and generally well-balanced] I can´t help but think what our beloved Lakers need as much as anything is a bit of luck to come our way to go along with the heavy decision making that will have to be made soon.
    Sure, many of you will think `of course luck plays a part, and an organization like the Lakers must unerringly put itself in a position to best take advantage of it when, or if, it does come; but we can´t depend on it in the least.´ – & I wholeheartedly agree people!
    But for me, the quandary lies there:
    Isn´t it luck itself what is precisely out of anyone´s control? No matter what intricate machinations can be set in motion, or despite what all the best laid plans may be? We all know the answer to that.
    Let´s keep our Lakers-rooting, basketball-loving, FB&G-opining heads and hearts open to whatever lady luck might kindly endow us with, and roll from there!

  85. Anonymous (at 9:58 PM): Nice post. Your synopsis of the major decisions of the Jim Buss era is very complete and also reasonable. That said, as one who has criticized Jim a fair amount : ) let me summarize using your own words.

    * He’s (very) far from perfect, as evidenced by the past two head coaching decisions.
    * Brown clearly didn’t work in L.A
    * The D’Antoni decision was harder to justify
    * Howard didn’t want to be a Laker
    * Buss & Co. clearly whiffed on the Nash signing
    * and likely (whiffed) on Kobe’s extension
    * Buss & Co. also traded for Chris Paul before the league weighed in

    That is a pretty good synopsis. I also agree with:

    “My point here is that the entirety of the Lakers’ current problems don’t lie at Jim Buss’s feet. ”

    Then again – Jim is the top guy – so while the entirety of the issues do not lie at Jim’s feet – they do loom over his head. Such is the way of the world when you are the top guy.

  86. It is not at all unreasonable to be pessimistic right now.

    Sure; so as a fan, where do you go from there? Does pessimism improve or diminish one’s fan experience? Personally, I can see a way forward through FA signings,a pick with big upside, shrewd trades and Kobe’s contract coming off the books. Is a team that competes and is entertaining enough for now? I think that is a reasonable expectation for this coming season,and I am sure as heck looking to forward to it! Go draft! Go FA signings!

  87. For those who care, I was the Anonymous poster at 9:58 last night… not sure why my name didn’t appear, though there was a freeze-up when I posted so maybe it was a technical glitch? Anyway, throw any bricks my way for those who feel so inclined…

  88. Sure; so as a fan, where do you go from there?

    Wherever you like, as long as you follow Darius’ guidelines and rules. Everybody gets to decide for him or herself how to be a fan, and IMO most folks don’t want advice on the subject.

  89. Wherever you like

    You are absolutely right! No harm intended, enjoy your fan experience.

  90. Though they were fun at times this year, I didn’t watch but maybe a quarter of the games-usually will miss less than five. Next year looks like another year of Netflix. KB8-24 should have signaled the world that he wants good teammates and rings 6 and 7, and upstaged LBJ, by signing for the vet min.