Byron Scott hints at what the Lakers will do defensively

Darius Soriano —  August 25, 2014

Last week, Byron Scott sat down with Mike Trudell of Lakers.com and gave a wide ranging and insightful interview. Among the topics covered were his relationship with Kobe Bryant, views on Julius Randle, and who might fill out his coaching staff. You really should read the entire thing — Scott is honest and forthright, but also showed a confidence in what he wants to do and how he will go about doing it.

The part that interested me most, however, was when Trudell turned the conversation towards what the Lakers would do on the defensive side of the ball. Last season, as we all know, the Lakers were an awful defensive team. We don’t need to recount every issue, but they could neither contain the dribble nor protect the rim and when the ball was rotated around the perimeter after exploiting these issues the Lakers’ rotations were inconsistent.

Fixing this is Scott’s biggest priority and he hinted at how he will go about in doing just that:

MT: You watched the majority of Lakers games next to host Chris McGee and fellow analyst/former teammate James Worthy last season on Time Warner Cable SportsNet. Now, (former coach) Mike D’Antoni didn’t have championship-caliber talent, and lost an absurd 319 games due to injury. Yet and still, what did you take from watching the games that could be improved upon defensively regardless of talent?

Scott: Defensive philosophy has to be constant. This is no knock on Mike at all, but there were games where they were playing defense one way, and other games where they played it differently. When I go into the season, there are three ways we’re going to guard side pick and rolls, for example: we’re going to down it, hard show, or red it (trap). If you do it from day one, guys get better at it because they’re working on it every day in practice. I want to establish those things day-to-day, and if you do that, it takes a lot of the thinking away and gets back to reacting.

MT: You can play defense differently if you have a rim protector that you don’t really have on the currently shaped roster.

Scott: We’ll have a plan, but it will depend some on how guys play in training camp. With that said, we can’t force everything defensively to (Jordan) Hill or (Carlos) Boozer, so we’ll focus more on forcing guys to certain places and corral them instead of trying to block shots. What I see during the first few days of practice will make an impact there, so we can have an identity on that end of the floor.

MT: How do you specifically play screen/roll differently with a team that doesn’t have a true rim protector?

Scott: You’re going to have to play a lot of help the helper to keep the ball from getting into the paint. That’s a lot of rotations, a lot of help, a lot of stunt and recover, where the guy with the ball sees one-and-a-half or two defenders every single time. You want to clog up the paint as much as possible and make the opponent take contested jump shots.

First off, simply hearing Scott talk in scheme specifics is something I enjoy. The details of how to defend a certain action and how that triggers the next series of defensive assignments is always interesting to me; it helps me understand the game better and, for the purpose of this site, helps inform analysis.

More important than how it helps me, though, is how sound of an approach this is and if what Scott describes will actually work.

The scheme Scott wants to employ is sound strategy. When the Lakers had prime Gasol/Odom and, later, Andrew Bynum, they often funneled penetration to their bigs and let them challenge shots at the rim. This effectively lowered opponents’ field goal percentage in the paint and allowed the Lakers to be a top defensive team. As Scott mentions, this current group does not have this luxury. The back line of the defense will be “anchored” by Hill, Davis, Boozer, and Randle — none of whom will be mistaken for Dikembe Mutombo anytime soon.

The Lakers will need to be a help and recover team, corralling and walling off dribble penetrators with extra bodies and then making the extra rotations back to the perimeter to contest jumpers and/or run players off the three point line and into long two point jumpers. If that sounds like a lot of work, it’s because it is. Having the mental awareness and disciplined required to run a precise defensive scheme like this can be exhausting enough, but actually moving off an offensive player to help middle on a drive and then scurrying back to a perimeter player under enough control to simultaneously be ready to contest a jumper or breakdown into a defensive stance and slide with a dribbler to force him to more help is actually exhausting. Especially when asked to do it possession after possession.

Do the Lakers have horses to execute this? Yes and….maybe. Henry, Young, Johnson, and Lin are all capable athletes to perform these tasks. You can add Jordan Clarkson to this list. Randle, if guarding a stretch four, is capable as well. The maybe’s are Kobe, Nash, and Kelly. For Kobe, much of this will come down to effort and a willingness to put that much energy into defense when so much will be asked of him offensively. For Nash, it will come down to being healthy enough and if his wheels still have enough in them. For Kelly, it will depend on whether he’s actually physically able to do such things at his size and with his level of athleticism what it is.

Scott, though, will hold these players accountable to do their jobs defensively (or so he says). Playing defense in the scheme that he describes is as much about want as it is ability. Players have to want to make the extra rotation; they have to want to be there for a teammate and not let the integrity of the scheme fail because of their personal mistake. When you combine that want with discipline — and a bunch of it — you are on the path to where you want to go.

The question, then, is if Scott can coach up the players to bring the right amount of focus to the job while instilling the level of buy-in needed to generate the needed effort. If Scott can, the Lakers will produce better than expected results. Not to the point that they are a top ten defensive team, but to the point that they are not a bottom five one (which they were last year). This should be the priority. After all, if the Lakers are going to surprise people the way that Scott (and Kobe) hope to, it will have to be on the defensive side that they show real improvements. Scott seems to understand this. The key will be getting the players to do the same.

Darius Soriano

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63 responses to Byron Scott hints at what the Lakers will do defensively

  1. Offense will not be an issue…If Scott can fix the defense the Lakers will be competitive… Adding Cooper to the staff would be awesome!!!

  2. Defense is about attitude as much as about fundamentals. It has been proven talent doesn’t necessarily win games: Popovich, Larry Brown. A great coach can get the players to believe. When they do, then the sky is the limit.

  3. Darius, i agree. i like to hear those specifics.

  4. Clarkson finally signed … Anyone know tje terms?

  5. Defense is also about having players not on one year deals trying to put shots up because they don’t want to play in foreign countries.

    Next year I think they have 9 multi year deals. Defense will be better.

  6. Defense is about trust. Every player on the team having confidence that every man on the team is held accountable for helping the helper. If a player drops an assignment, including Bryant and Nash, what are the consequences? Coach Scott is going to have to address this issue from the onset. Maybe he should allow the players to vote for the relevant discipline. A monetary penalty won’t work for obvious reasons. In practice (home or away), they should have to wear something absurd like a purple tutu. After a player is the butt of all jokes for a few practices, it should be a deterrent from future infractions. In the beginning, there will probably be 3-4 players in tutus but as the season progresses, several practices should lapse before the tutu makes an appearance until the tutu finally goes into retirement. Surprisingly, these are the little things that make a group of players a team.

  7. I expect them to be bottom 5 defensively. Kobe won’t be buying in and Nash is feeble even when healthy. And is obvious, while there is no other choice of scheme given the talent, would be a much better result if was the days before the 3, or shortly after the 3, when teams still didn’t take a lot of 3s. And for Darius, I get what you mean by accountable, problem is, if no one does the thing, owing to the exhaustion, how can anyone be held accountable? i.e., if no one is doing it, kinda hard to sub in someone who will. Also seems obvious that the worst results will be against teams with the better 3 PT shooting and better against the teams with the worse 3 PT shooting.

    And I will also assume that the mental part that will go with the physical part, the exhaustion, will be the disheartening when a team gets hot and makes some 3 PT shoots consecutively (other than quicker rotations there isn’t much else to do re the exhaustion and we’ll see how Scott’s encouragement works against the disheartening)(and, of course, the down side of any quicker rotation scheme is presumably a loss of offensive efficiency as lesser souls get more time).

    This is all, by the way, the compelling witness against the claim that it’s a small man’s game now.

  8. Actually, I disagree with the notion that this type of defense doesn’t work against a good 3pt shooting team. Its nemesis is a good drive and kick team that can get hot from the outside, which it’s not necessarily just a good 3pt shooting team. ;)

    But back to this post… Last season I talked about how a good coach would improve a team defensively and what Byron Scott is saying is certainly right and there’s no (good) coach in the world that wouldn’t agree with him. If the players buy into it, then half of the job is done. And let’s assume that we’re talking strictly about half court defense and not about transition defense, to make things easier to discuss…

    The fact is that defending the PnR without good rim protection may actually be easier to do if everyone is on the same page and you don’t have an imposing shot blocker. Think about it for a second: if you’re the coach and the opposing team has a big guy who’s actually a great shot blocker, how do you attack him? You screen and roll him to death, right? That’s why during the Shaq years and Bynum years those two were always involved in that type of plays on the defensive end. With this team, it won’t be as easy to single out one guy to screen and roll. Maybe Nash will be heavily involved in it, but if I was coaching against him I would actually try to isolate him on defense. We’ll find that out soon enough though. I must also point out that having a versatile team on defensive that helps a lot doesn’t necessarily mean that they will get abused inside by opposing bigs. In fact, if the perimeter players are active on the ball handler, the entry pass becomes way more difficult and the offensive big will have to search for spots out of his comfort area to receive the ball. So, that shouldn’t worry us.

    What should actually worry us is the lack of good one-on-one perimeter defenders. You can have the best defensive schemes in the world but if your PG or your SG can’t single handedly stop a simple dribble penetration, then there’s no scheme in the world that can cover that. If you’re rotating in the last 6 or 7 seconds of the shot clock, it’s ok. If you’re rotating with 14 seconds left, then you’re in trouble. Will a Nash/Kobe backcourt be able to do it? I doubt it, but let’s wait and see.

    On another note, I see a lot of people saying they’re not worried about our offense which seems illogical to me. Playing this sort of defense will have a toll on the players legs quite early and we all know how important that is. Byron must find some schemes that grants us some easy looks at the basket without relying on a wing beating his man off the dribble, otherwise our offense won’t be effective. And yes, we have a deep bench but we’re not talking about starters with all-star quality here. You need to get easy looks on offense and to avoid fast transition offense by the opposition otherwise we won’t have enough legs to properly play half court defense.

    Also, apart from Steve Nash, Lin and Boozer, I believe that switching on screen and rolls can be very effective with this roster. The wings have either length or bulk to guard almost everyone on the perimeter and our bigs are actually quite agile. Between switching, hard show by the big and trapping the ball handler, the opposition should have a hard time using this against us. (The Spurs are going to eat us alive though)

  9. Defensive accountability is a direct and real reflection of coaching.
    Byron can and I believe will instill a tough mindset that won’t accept a lax attitude on the defensive end.

    Defense is in fact one of the most coachable aspects of the game.
    Effort categories can be tracked and hustle can be rewarded.
    Look at Thibideau teams.

    I don’t expect miracles this year but I expect Scott’s team this year to compete. I confess I’m more comfortable now with the Byron hire than originally, based on what I’m hearing from him.

  10. For whatever reason, guys seem to play better defense when:

    -they believe in the team’s defensive scheme
    -they get a few touches on offense
    -they believe the team has a real chance at success

  11. Defense to me has always been about scheme and talent. Sure giving effort on defense is needed, but when does effort not matter? If the lakers have a competent scheme and above average defenders, they will have a good defense. If not, no amount of effort can save them.

  12. I like the tutu idea. Byron scott should implement it. I hope you’re reading this, B!

  13. Kobe Bryant: Muse, coming to Showtime this Fall.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aimEswd0pA0

  14. The good news I believe the Lakers have a deep enough bench to thow the fresh bodies out there to implement this. I’m not that concerned about Nash as his playing time would likely be very reduced anyway. More concerning is Kobe. How many minutes can he play if he has to play hard D too?

    I do like how Scott addressed this but, it boils down to the team doesn’t have a shot blocker so they have to double team post threats, close out quick, and hope the other team can’t make them pay from the outside. I think they can win games like this but they at some point need to address their need at Center.

    I am reminded of Miami Heat in past years playing D something like this but they had the guys to make it work.

  15. First off the lakers will play for coach Scott , some of you make me laugh. The way you guy’s talk is like they have no chance , this a different team , first off kobe , nick , Lin , x man , Wes ,julius, are working out together , they got a leg up on a lot of teams in the west , second this team is healthy , everybody is talking about kobe , first off kobe bryant is a top 5 player in this leauge, and he will get his numbers 24.5 / 5/ 6 , that’s about right for him !!, then the lakers can win 50 games plus let’s be real outside of the spurs ,,who is championship material , OKC ? The last 3 years KD & company no rings , next the Clippers ? They have a lot if talent in the starting 5 , Cp3, Blake, Jordan , but fold in the playoffs lol , next Houston lol lol, D12? Harden ? Lol lol , Patrick Beverly mr hack them hard lol , first off James harden is a joke on defense , great on offense , but the rockets are not a championship team , next Golden State , a 50 win team no doubt but they have no toughness in the paint , and they are a run and gun team , like the old phoniex suns , on the defensive side of the ball the are okay some games ,? Poor in others , next Portland , they have 2 top 25 players in the leauge , and Wes Matthews and batun are good 2,way players but they are a couple of pieces away from winning the west , Memphis thier time has passed , they have the best big man combo in the West but the small forward position is ugly lol , and the shooting guard position is thin , tony Allen is a beast , but the drop off behind him is not good , 45 to 50 wins at best maybe , maybe 6 seed lol , and this is a old team , next Dallas they came close to knocking the Spurs on thier Asses in the First round , now the got better , now they have a real shot at winning 53,54, games this season and doing some real damage this season , if the Spurs fall and OKC is not heathly , Dallas could end up in the WCF ? , next Denver , Phoniex , lol lol ? the rest of the west is not thier , so let me say this The Lakers , Can make the playoffs , second Kobe Bryant has some help and players that want to win with him as thier leader !! And with the players they got young , randle , Davis , Lin, clarkston,X Man, they can play fast , and with hill , boozer, kobe, nash they can slow it down , and with kobe , swaggy p , J hill buying into coach Scott gameplan , and Repecting his position and leadership I think the Los Angeles Lakers , can win 52, 53 games , get the number 5 spot in the playoffs and have a chance at something good , keep in mind kobe will be serving ass kicking this year and a lot of the team the kicked the lakers ass last season , BRACE YOURSELF !!!!!!

  16. bleedpurplegold August 26, 2014 at 10:04 am

    Great piece as always!

    You could see that b-scott thinks pretty positive about our chances to improve on the defensive side of the ball and i think he is absolutely correct…..everyone has got to give maximum effort and rotate intelligently in order to contain the offense of our opponents……and i think Scott hints Kobe as kind of an assistant of his in the floor to hold the others accountable when he said he is gonna See things that i cant…..and i can see that we really can acomplish that goal to be one of the better Teams on D this upcoming season….i also liked his plans regarding the pick and rolls….i think that even without a true center, we can put out some pretty big lineups ( clarkson-kobe-randle-boozer-hill for example) so clogging the paint seems like a valid Option…

    What i was surprised with is his concern regarding the other end….i understand that guys have to get used To each other, finding them in their sweetspots within the flow of the game……but we have some great offensive players and some point guards who know how to get the ball where it needs To….i think we will be where we need To be offensively come all star game at the latest and until then our offensive juggernauts Kobe, boozer(i guarantee at least 15/8 from him this season) AS well AS lin and young (if healthy Nash too) will help us Hanging around .500 before we Start our push for the playoffs

    Very optimistic after reading this Interview, i think Scott has a great plan in place and i hope he will be our next long term Coach (5+ years)

    Go Lakers!!

  17. The only position the Lakers are weak or lacking in is back up pg and center. When I say back up pg I mean that nash isn’t giving us anything and if he does I will consider it a miracle, but I do believe Jordan Clarkson is going to be exceptional so that’s the wild card, as far as center goes I’m talking about a rim protector, Ed davis has that potential but we have enough athleticism and length to have a really good defensive team. This team is deeper than many think and as Wesley Johnson, Xavier Henry, Clarkson, Randle, Davis, Lin improve (all so young) and buy into the purple and gold which I believe Scott can do, maybe not this year but if kobe is anything like himself they will be reckoned with because I see KD on the horizon.

  18. Vasheed’s comparison to the Miami Heat is a good one. The Heat never had a true big up front. So their defense was predicated on their perimeter guys collapsing and recovering quickly. Wade, LeBron and Bosh excelled at this. For their team to defend as well as it did without a real big patrolling paint is a testament to how good the big three were at moving their feet defensively. Its one reason why I smirk at people who insist LeBron’s new big three will be so much better than his old big three. But that’s another conversation.

    Without a real big man upfront there will be a lot of pressure on the perimeter guys to keep players in front of them. The current crop of Lakers perimeter players can provide the effort, but they won’t excel at it. Their defense should be better than last year’s. But that’s not saying much. Still I’ll take any improvement.

  19. Now that he’s resigned for next season it’s okay to let the cat out of the bag about Ryan Kelly.

    I’d wager Ryan Kelly will be their best defensive player in Scott’s defense. He’s not strong enough to defend in the post, but everywhere else he’s using his length to alter shots. He contests everything, he’s constantly moving, he closes out shooters hard and blocks three point shots (though he rarely gets credit for those deflected threes). He’s also 7 feet tall and has unlimited range on his jump shot. He passes, finishes in traffic, and does plenty of the ‘little things.’

    How is that not a useful player in today’s NBA?

  20. The high-IQ players on our roster don’t have much physical quickness left, and the quick/athletic guys we have aren’t high-IQ enough to deal with complex rotations. I expect them to be extremely poor defensively, and I expect to see a lot of missed rotations or two players rotating to the same guy, pointed fingers, confusion. Just the nature of the roster.

  21. #5 Jordan Clarkson PG 22 6’5″ 193 Missouri $507,336 2014-2015

  22. Why havent we went after anyone else. Liked Beasley, Bledsoe, any other player that truly can help us get to the playoffs this year. Whats the hold up.

  23. Defense is about capability as much as it is willingness. If you insist that a 36-yo superstar needs to sweat on D as if he was 26 then I don’t think you’re the right coach for the team.

    For all the great things you’ll get from Kobe, you’d have to live with some of the bad. As coach I would impose things but not single out our elder statesmen.

    The rest? That’s how their next contract should be based on. If there is one at all. Over-achieving sure is a good way to get paid next season.

  24. In our search for rim protector, Hasheem Thabeet had just become available via trade-and-waive. He might be a good pickup for the minimum. He was once picked #2 overall.

  25. Warren,

    What should Bryon ask of Kobe defensively then? He has to coach the entire team. He can’t tell Kobe to take it easy and then grind on guys like Lin and Young if they miss a rotation. That is a perfect recipe for losing the locker room. I expect Kobe to spend most of his time guarding shooters like Sefolosha, Redick, and Thompson. Guys like that aren’t the biggest threats to drive into the paint. But they do have to be chased around screens. I think (hope) Kobe is up for that. I think those would be reasonable assignments for Kobe.

  26. I love the dedication to the Lakers. I really do. But in a season where the goals for the front office is to keep the lottery pick and develop Randle we should probably stick to long term Lakers talk and not what bad players we want to add to fill out the roster.

    I’ll start it off… How do we get that freak African high school seven foot KG on steroids monster? I want him at center and Anthony Davis at PF in a few years. With Randle at SF when he learns to shoot? Now that’s a Lakers team I can talk about.

  27. rene m: Why havent we went after anyone else. Liked Beasley, Bledsoe, any other player that truly can help us get to the playoffs this year. Whats the hold up.

    We are a franchise stuck between competing and rebuilding. Straddling the line does not work in the NBA – especially not with the current CBA. On one hand you have the FO saying that ‘we are the Lakers and the only thing that matters are championships’. On the other hand the FO does not want to go ‘all in’ on anyone other than a top 10 player that is a FA – so we have short term deals that provide financial flexibility for that next star FA.

    It’s unlikely that we will be relevant in the near future. Top FAs are increasingly going to teams where there is already a winning infrastructure in place – where they can be the last ingredient to success. The Lakers are pushing the fact that the roster would be clear and we can build a team around you. That is a harder solution to sell because it makes the FA take a risk that all the other pieces will fall into place. Hard to do unless you have assets like we just saw with the Cavs trading the last two #1 picks for Love.

    I still say the Lakers were foolish to push all their chips into the center of the table for Melo. He would have been nice for the last two years of Kobe but a disaster to build around the following two years. The better play was to push for Stephenson, Monroe and or Bledsoe. All were 23 or younger and would have been building blocks moving forward. Stephenson was a true FA and signed a reasonable deal in Charlotte. Both Monroe’s and Bledsoe’s current teams would have been hard pressed to match a high dollar offer for them. Instead of having a core of young assets: Randle/Monroe/Stephenson (for example) to build on we have just Randle/Young.

    We are told that that the next target is Durant in two years. I believe that Kevin would find the Lakers with Randle/Monroe/Stephenson more appealing than Randle/Young and cap space.

    I truly think the FO does not know how to go about building a roster. They have always played for the homerun FA acquisition and built around that star. Well what if that star never comes? The NBA has changed and I think we are living in the past.

  28. Leo: I know you were a huge advocate for pursuing Stephenson and Monroe. Dude you have to let it go. The good news is that if Monroe and Bledsoe sign qualifying offers they will be un-restricted FAs next year. I do want Monroe but we may not need Bledsoe as I am hopeful that Clarkson blows up to be our PG of the future.

    I do agree with you that the FO is straddling a line in competing and rebuilding. Signing so many new players to short deals does not seem to be an approach that leads to deep playoff runs. Teams that compete have a core that has been together for years and have learned to trust and win. The Lakers don’t have that. While I do expect to see the Lakers better the 30-52 predicted record that the ESPN expects have forecasted I do not see the team being better than .500. Which means that we will certainly miss the playoffs. This would call into question the FO’s efforts to put a team on the court that was doomed to fail. Better to have been far, far worse, keep our top 5 pick and add another youngster to the Randle/Clarkson foundation.

    So, yes, I often do wonder what the FO is up to. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that the worst place to be in the NBA is somewhere between the 7th and 10th best team. You’ll never get the talent you need to move out of the quicksand.

    And yes, I do agree that the FA landscape has changed. Gone are the days that Shaq goes to a barren Laker roster and is willing to wait five years to win a championship. The new mantra is joining a good team and being the player that makes them great. This is something that the FO does not seem to comprehend.

    If the play in two years is truly KD then the goal now should be total asset/young talent acquisition. Winning would not be a priority. We would bottom hard and hope for top picks, we’d sell everything of value with the objective of obtaining more assets. We’d then put together a young unproven roster and tell KD that he is the missing piece for a team set for a multiple championship run. Instead we won’t have much to offer other than Randle/Clarkson and back to back Western Conference 10th place finishes.

    It is a frustrating time to be a Laker fan.

  29. Todd: You ignore an important fact that Kobe is still in the team. If he’s healthy and plays to the same form he did two years ago (when he had one of his best seasons) the Lakers are very capable of catching lightning in a bottle and making a deep playoff run.

  30. Most fans of NBA teams are frustrated. It is so annoying when the front office doesn’t tell us what they are trying to do. Of course that would be advertising to the world – and their ticket holder base – what the organization’s strategy is and that is not a smart business practice.

    We cannot know exactly what our front office is trying to do. We interpret and assume based on past actions and known philosophy, but we can’t really know.

    I guess I would warn bloggers not to take the ‘facts’ spread by the talking heads and other bloggers as being strictly true. Of all the NBA organizations, this one keeps things ‘close to the vest’ more than most.

    Me, I’m hoping for an entertaining season where our team really develops as the season goes along. I think we have our team defined, unless Mitch pulls something out of the hat.

  31. Renee, Beasley isn’t worth the trouble and Bledsoe wants a max contract (which in my opinion he isn’t worth) which we don’t have the cap space to sign him for… That’s the hold up.

  32. Warren: Hasheem Thabeet cannot play. He is slow as molasses on a cold day.

    Aaron: Thon Maker is 40 pounds away from being physically able to play in the NBA. Rail thin. Not so easy to add muscle given his East African genetics (tall, skinny people). He may get there, but it won’t be easy.

  33. Craig W. – Your sarcasm in your response above was loud and clear. : ) !

    However, I think if you look across the NBA its relatively easy to determine what a great majority of the FOs/teams are doing. From San Antonio (win now) to Philly (lose now) its pretty obvious.

    The Lakers are among a handful of teams that are hard to figure out. They want to win but aren’t open to making moves beyond trying to woo a FA superstar. When that fails they sign virtually their entire team to 1 year deals – which doesn’t foster a lot of confidence that they are trying to win. See the ambiguity.

    Honestly, I think the team is trying to be competitive but not necessarily win. They can’t afford to be un-watchable. They know they wouldn’t be forgiven if they blew the last two years of Kobe’s career and were plain awful. However, they do know the future of the franchise is on the other side of Kobe’s contract so they won’t take on long term commitments which would extend beyond his deal.

    The Lakers are treading water. While they hope to catch lightning in a bottle and make a deep playoff run, the reality is that teams thrown together on a prayer usually don’t succeed.

  34. The competing vs. rebuilding dichotomy is a little off, imo. I see three tiers of teams. 1. Competing for a championship. 2. Playoff fodder. 3. Rebuilding/tanking. The FO could certainly make, or have made some moves to get into Tier 2, but that is not the goal. The goal is competing for championships. You don’t get there by overpaying middling talent for the long term.

  35. Todd: Honestly, I think the team is trying to be competitive but not necessarily win. They can’t afford to be un-watchable. They know they wouldn’t be forgiven if they blew the last two years of Kobe’s career and were plain awful. However, they do know the future of the franchise is on the other side of Kobe’s contract so they won’t take on long term commitments which would extend beyond his deal.
    ___

    Bingo.

  36. Scott does have a decent plan and given the makeup of this team – sticking to 3-4 central strategies and keeping it simple should help alot. Unfortunately , w/o having any legitimate rim protection or at least 1-2 guys who can contain an individual player for 3-4 secs on a posession i’m afraid we’re gonna see a lot of good defense fpr the first 15-19 secs of the clock – only to have one more rotation of the ball find the open guy/backdoor cutter for the deflating easy basket at the 20-22 sec mark. Bball defense isn’t played on an island – Nash was a reasonable team defender when healthy and good positionally even, likewise Lin – but with this team having no stoppers to slow individual players for a couple secs to allow rotaters to recover and no one to protect the rim – there will be a lot of scrambling every game as guys try to keep up – eventually leading to defensive breakdowns no matter how well they’re coached or how hard they try.

    Sure defense is about effort but at this high a level you need a certain physical ability to be able to defend these opponents – and this roster is sorely lacking unfortunately.

  37. I find it beyond ridiculous that people here want a scrub/bust of the magnitude of Thabeet, he make Kwame Brown looks like freaking Shaq. Are people that dense? Like someone mentioned he is slow as molasses and there is a reason he is the bust that he is. Im all on board about giving a second chance to players that were picks and for some reason didnt pan out, but this guy is terrible. I honestly prefer Sacre over him. Beasley, he is a moron and he squandered every chance he got, in the situation the Lakers are in, i doubt the FO and Kobe will have the desire or time to suffer this fool. Bledsoe, he wants max money but he is coming from injury and his while body of work career wise dont warrant that kind of contract. Sorry he is not worthy, outside of any minor signing i dont think the Lakers will make any major moves going into the season. Im fine with that. As David Farragaut said in the battle of Mobile Bay: “Damn the Torpedoes Full Speed Ahead”!!

  38. what’s all this worry about? it’s quite clear. the Lakers are rebuilding and they are doing it as best they can. i’m glad that they aren’t making bad deals just to have a mediocre team anyway.

    no, they aren’t going to reveal their intentions if they can. these things require negotiation, sometimes negotiation that lasts a season or more. revealing your desires and intentions makes negotiation impossible. see the Kobe deal for an example. the Lakers need to be fleece-ors, not fleece-ees. that’s a championship mentality.

    also, if possible, they want to win now, so they got the best group of players possible within the current cap circumstances. they’re under the cap and can really go crazy if they need to in the future. actually, if i’m an NBA exec or player, i want to keep all contracts for one or two more years. i’ll bet the next collective bargaining agreement goes the players’ way. i could be wrong, but an honest bet is rarely a sure thing.

    in any case, the Lakers do need a star in the future. the auditions are open. in the meantime, the current star may have something left to prove.

    i’d rather see more news and hear more details, too. it’s probably best if i don’t see or hear it though.

  39. Bryan,
    He doesn’t need to become Shaq. Stay rail thin and be KG with three point range. How old is he? 17? I think he will get a lot stronger with today’s PEDs

    Anonymous,
    Couldn’t have said it better myself

  40. Beasly had a 2nd workout today …. as someone that partakes in his past time … it doesnt make him a bad person … just a relaxed one … id be happy if he joined

  41. Telling your fan base what you are doing is exactly what the front office has to do to keep people watching the games. Fans have to be sold on the vision of the owners. This is the other side of depending on broadcasting revenues for income. If people do not agree with the direction of the team, channels will be changed to other entertainment. Scott gets that and is doing his best to show that he has things under control. He has to prove that his last few years in Cleveland were a fluke and that he can take mediocre players and get them to play defense as a unit for 24 seconds at a time.

  42. regardless, fans will still be fans.
    when the team starts winning again, then the bandwagon will fill back up.

  43. Not that we need him but If Michael Beasley gets two or three more workout opportunities with the Lakers chances are he gets an offer from Mitch.

  44. Its not about he partaking on it, it’s about being a huge idiot.

  45. i’m glad that they aren’t making bad deals just to have a mediocre team anyway.

    They are paying Lin, Hill, Young, and Boozer ~a combined $25.7M against the cap this year. All of those deals were signed/added this past offseason. And Young was signed for four years. That is pretty much the definition of paying to have a mediocre team. Three of them are one-year deals, and they picked up a pick with Lin, so it is not a disaster, but the 2014 Lakers are in fact paying veteran guys to try to win 40 games.

    Todd is mostly correct, but he is wrong about Shaq joining a barren roster. That team was thin, but West was able to keep the other starters and draft Kobe, and the team had gone 53-29 the year before.

    That said, I agree that it is clear that the Lakers are trying to put together a competitive, likable team that people will watch, while leaving enough cap room to chase more FAs in the future. I don’t think that is a particularly good idea, don’t think it has been very well-executed, and would have preferred a different approach, but I don’t see it as some big mystery. And, there are no easy or obvious options for the Lakers, given how much has gone wrong since the summer of 2011.

    Also, one more time: this idea of the Lakers as shrewd card players playing it close to the vest, keeping their genius machinations away from the prying eyes and fervent hopes of ignorant fans is at least ten years out of date. Media have changed. There was a banner headline on ESPN right after the lockout saying that the Lakers were going after Paul and Howard. The Nash deal was a surprise–Kupchak claimed that it developed very suddenly–but that is the exception, not the rule.

  46. “Gone are the days that Shaq goes to a barren Laker roster”

    ——-
    Shaq joined a team with Nick Van Exel, Eddie Jones, the recently drafted Derek Fisher and Kobe Bryant (via trade), as well as Cedric Ceballos. That’s four All-Stars, and one of the most-clutch supporting players in NBA history. Within the group were also the pieces that helped land Robert Horry and Glen Rice.

    If I could go back in time and pluck that roster from 1996 and plug it in place of the Lakers’ roster today, I’d do it a heartbeat. There was in-their-prime talent, and guys with upside on the roster that summer. Today the only upside is in Randle, and hopefully Clarkson.

  47. “They are paying Lin, Hill, Young, and Boozer ~a combined $25.7M against the cap this year” Lin,Hill and Boozer are basically one year deals, you make it sound like signing them is a huge mistake of those 4 players 2 of them are almost certainly gone after this season, one could remain in the team if the team opt to keep him and Young got paid what he would had been paid in the market considering he had a career year. The first 3 guys could pottentially take 20 million off the books next summer add Nash salary definetly being gone too and the figure go up to 29 million thats a lot more that what we had available this summer thats the purpose of them being here. All these guys except Swaggy are one year deals and the Lin trade brings a second round pick this season and a 1st round on one of those seasons that we would not had anything otherwise. I fail to see what is wrong with that. The Lakers are not going to rebuild thru the Draft it’s not happening and it’s not the Lakers way never have never will and how we are going to rebuilt thru the Draft with no picks? Smh, the Lakers are going to keep this process of triying to built a competitive roster w/o sacrificing flexibility until they get the players they want and lock them up, if it takes 3,4 or 5 more years so be it but im sure it’s going to take less than that. This team is rigged with C-4 the FO retain the capability to blow it up anytime they want if the right deal comes along. As far as im concerned this team is better than last season and should be in the lower playoff hunt if healthy. A catastrophe of injuries like last season must be mathematically imposible. If by better means 40 wins is still an improvement. The Lakers future lies in Free Agency not on this “building thru the Draft” crapola, thats what the FO is aiming for.

  48. 1) “The situation” our Lakers find themselves in has been discussed over & over again…and “the situation” will continue along a similar line for at least the upcoming two seasons…success has it’s own price.

    2) Pertaining to rim protection: any love for Ryan Hollins? Seems to be the type of player Lakers are currently looking for to fill out roster. Very long and athletic 30 yr old underachieving UFA 7 footer, not that skilled, but available on the cheap.

  49. you make it sound like signing them is a huge mistake


    I specifically said that:

    1. The deals other than Young’s are not a disaster because they are short.
    2. That there are no easy or obvious answers to where the Lakers are.

    Like I said, I think there were better ways to go, and all of your explanations are the typical mix of hope and speculation.

    Sid,

    As always, you focus too much on Kobe. He is neither making the decisions nor writing the checks. Keep it real.

  50. With regards to all the worry about Beasley. Remember, folks, this is California, we have legalized medical marijuana. You don’t think Beasley doesn’t have some condition that a “doctor” might think a scrip to some cheeba would help? I think this will go a long way to making him feel at home. As Peter Tosh says, “They’ll be no more reason to smoke and hide”

  51. So the salary cap the Lakers could have available next summer its hope and speculation, there is nothing to speculate about the numbers, they are right there. Sorry i forget you think you can run the team better than Mitch, that they haven’t hire you ASAP is beyond me we would be contenders by know. The Lakers did the best they could, it’s really simple no need to over analize it, the Lakers are bidding their time, and they going to keep doing this expiring contract one year contract thing until they can get the kind of players they want, i dont know what would be a perfect solution for you, max Stephenson? Bledsoe? That would be as dumb as maxing Melo which would had made me a nervous wreck. None of those players warrant a max contract. The Lakers are going to wait until an oportunity present itself either by the trade deadline or next summer or even the next. I dont think the Lakers could done better than what they did. Short of being lucky like the Cavs they did pretty good and are in better shape than 365 years ago.

  52. This year was not a good year to try an get an all-star player. Its not just what the Lakers don’t have on their roster but that upon signing any big name they couldn’t then afford to go out and get anyone else. The Lakers best tactical move would have been as being a facilitator for other teams big free agent pursuits taking on short term contracts and receiving draft picks.

    LA is starting to become the place guys go to try and resurrect their careers. I don’t think Beasely would be a huge gamble. You would be talking about a minimum non-guaranteed contract. But it would be another signing that fits within a troubling narrative

    I think Scott is being thrown into an unenviable position. I support his declared scheme of defense. He really needs to make sure Kobe buys in but, this will surely require reducing Kobe’s minutes fairly drastically to allow him to play with intensity on both sides of the court.

  53. rr,
    Fern is keeping it real. Your comments almost always have the flavor of the FO not quite knowing what they are doing. Fern is giving them credit for having a strategy and a philosophy, even if you may disagree with it.

  54. Every approach in FA involves risks. In UFA, players can take their time, visit whoever they want, and have financial benefits of staying with their incumbent team. In RFA, the incumbent team has the right to match any offer and has 3 days to do so, tying up the cap space of the team trying to sign the player via the offer-sheet while they decide. But since the Lakers have traded away their draft picks, FA is their main option. This past year they drafted Randle and acquired a pick in the Lin deal — they are trying to stack young assets as best they can considering the deals they made prior to this year.

    Team building isn’t complex from a strategy standpoint, but executing is quite difficult. The good thing is that the Lakers will have cap space next summer, will have Bird Rights to Lin, an option year on Hill, and should have the Rockets’ draft pick. if both Bledsoe and Monroe sign their qualifying offers, both will be UFA’s next summer & the Lakers can make a run at them if they choose. Marc Gasol will also be a FA as will some others who may entertain the Lakers’ money.

    We’ll see how it plays out, but I am basically fine with what the Lakers did this past summer. I likely would have gone after Lance and maybe made an offer to Bledsoe, but both players involve risk. The Lakers seem to want players who have a better foundational reputation than guys like them, too. It will be interesting if they wade into the waters to offer guys like Gasol or LMA money (should they explore FA). Those guys aren’t “superstars” but have bonafide NBA accomplishments (all-NBA, all-star, all-D team, etc) on their resumés. In my opinion, those are the types of foundational players the Lakers need to try and grab next summer so they can make a big push for a major FA when Kobe’s contract comes off the books.

  55. rr: They are paying a combined 25.7 mil against the cap this year

    So what! They are very short term deals that do not impact the future while giving the team credible NBA players to field a roster around Kobe. The team did a great job in the draft with Randle, shrewdly paid top dollar to buy a pick to draft Jordan Clarkson who is looking very good, acquired Lin on an expiring deal along with a first round pick, and signed highly regarded big Ed Davis on the cheap. The Nick Young has raised some eyebrows, but look what teams are paying for shooting! Viewed this way, it’s a smart and solid deal. They have done very well this off-season given the resources available to them while shrewdly staying under the cap–which gives them more flexibility

    Shaun: I’m giving you and Beasley an ‘A’ in home economics for baking.

  56. again, the problem with Beasley is not the weed.

    how much weed was Robert Parrish busted for? we know he had a great career.

    the problem with Beasley is that he often does truly bonehead things. otherwise, he’s definitely worth a look.

  57. Craig W:

    “rr,
    Fern is keeping it real”

    That wasn’t directed at Fern. It clearly says “Sid” above that line.

    ___________________

    Darius: “I likely would have gone after Lance and maybe made an offer to Bledsoe, but both players involve risk”

    Sure. Stephenson signed for 3/27 with a team option in Year 3. And if they didn’t like Bledsoe, I think they should have been in on Monroe, who wound up signing a QO. Monroe’s agent, David Falk, has said that Monroe was not seeking offer sheets, only S and Ts, and that may have affected the FO’s moves here. Also, as you note, they can go after Monroe as a UFA if he makes it to the market.

    But Stephenson, Monroe and Bledsoe are good, young players, and assets that can be used on the court, as guys to make the Lakers more attractive to other FAs, and to make off-court moves. I think the FO should have been in on them. The Lakers need talent.

    As to Marc Gasol, he is certainly very good, but he will be 31 when he hits FA and who knows how he will feel about coming here. Aldridge has a good situation in Portland and has already said that he plans to stay. As far as the “big push”–if that is Durant, well OK, but I don’t see why the Lakers would be particularly enticing for him. The KBros have used the term “infrastructure” a lot lately–they are saying that FAs are looking to go to a team with some talent in place, etc. So, I think since the team sort of needs to build through FA, they need to get some good players that big-time FAs might want to play with.

    I am more or less OK with everything they did except the Young deal. But I would have been OK tying up some money for 72 hours to take a shot at guys who are better–and younger–than who they have now are.

  58. None of those players warrant a max contract.

    Never said they did. But you need to realize something: cap space has never scored a basket or blocked a shot. There has always been this idea out there that The Lakers With Money and Cap Space was Something For the NBA to Fear. Well, Howard left, Anthony didn’t come here, and James. Bosh and Love apparently never seriously considered coming here. And looking at the next group–Gasol, Aldridge, Durant–I am not seeing why these guys would want to come here to join this organization, either. Doesn’t mean that it won’t happen, and as Darius notes, maybe they can go after Monroe and Bledsoe. But so far, the whole “The Lakers Have Money Now–Look Out!!” thing has not been working:

    bryan s,

    I notice that you left out Boozer. As far as the rest, we have covered all of it already.

  59. rr: fine with the Boozer deal for the same reasons I’m fine with the other moves I mentioned.

    “We’ve covered it already”–intentional irony? :-)

  60. rr,
    I’m not sure if you’re trying to argue with me on what I wrote above, but in the larger context I’ve written the exact thing you have multiple times so I’m not sure if you’re really trying to make a point to me or not. The Lakers need more talented players, period. Whether that’s to attract bigger named FA’s or just to make them more competitive in general.

    As I’ve also said, though, there is no fool proof strategy in free agency. And most players involve risk of some sort. Not acknowledging that is as silly as focusing too much on what those risk factors are. In terms of the Lakers’ strategy, I can at least understand what they are doing and why they wouldn’t want to tie up cap space in chasing RFA’s like Bledsoe or Monroe. I’d have probably still made an offer to Bledsoe, but the team was in a tricky spot in that they clearly wanted to either land a true talent for multiple years if they were going to pay big money *or* they were going to overpay for a not as talented player (or two) in order to keep the deal short.

    I have no insider information to back this up, but I’d imagine that if Bledsoe was a UFA rather than an RFA, they might have pursued him with a big money offer for longer years rather than paying Lin/Hill for shorter years for more $ than they may be worth on the open market today. But because he was an RFA, they not only have their cap space tied up, but they have no guarantee of actually getting the player if he agrees to the deal. During the time that their cap space is tied up, they could lose the ability to make a deal for the players they actually ended up with (Lin, Hill, etc). There’s no way to know this, of course, but these are the variables that go into play when chasing RFA’s.

    As for Lance, I’d have chased him without any reservations for a variety of reasons and because he was a UFA, I don’t give the Lakers much benefit of the doubt for not doing so.

  61. “We’ve covered it already”–intentional irony.

    ____________

    Partly. But there is a point to be made there, as well: you have repeated your Randle/Clarkson stuff several times now, and Fern, Craig, and Mud have made their opinions about the FO and criticism thereof from fans known multiple times as well. In fact, they do so pretty much every day. Redundancy is a two-way street.

    Darius,

    I wasn’t really arguing with you. I agree with a lot of stuff that you wrote. But I would really have had no problem with the Lakers tying up some money for 72 hours waiting for Monroe or Bledsoe, since I do not see Lin and Hill as notable assets for a team that is not in position to compete for a Top 4 or 5 seed. Lin and Hill will presumably serve two purposes: making the team more watchable and competitive, and possibly serving as salary ballast if the opportunity to make a big deal at the deadline arises. But I see Monroe or Bledsoe as valuable enough to be worth pretty substantial money as well as a 72-hour wait. I agree with you on Stephenson. And, as noted, I am very skeptical about the idea of cap space leading to big FA scores in ’15 or ’16,

  62. rr: So we all repeat ourselves–very true–I’m still going to give you grief though.

    Totally agree on Stephenson–in fact as I recall I was one of the first here to trumpet the opportunity–risks be damned. Could the front office be a bit gun-shy after the missteps of Howard and the Nash trade? Probably. I also have come to see Lance as a bit of ball stopper; so I’m not sure how coachable he is, and shudder to think of Kobe and Lance together killing ball movement.

  63. Aaron, I’ve posted several times that the Lakers should look at Thon Maker 2015 and/or his brother Matur in the 2017 class. Matur is not as good as Thon but then again he is only a freshman, that being said Thon was a beast as a sophomore so chances are his brother may never reach Thon’s potential.