Kupchak Talks Kobe’s Farewell and the Impact on the Young Players’ Development

Darius Soriano —  January 6, 2016

When I went about previewing the 2015-16 Lakers, I wrote mostly about the difficult balancing act the team was trying to accomplish with the roster which was constructed. Here is a sampling:

On a roster with a mix of young prospects who need development and capable veterans who play the same positions, how do they balance playing time? When trying to win as many games as possible, but also needing for young players to be able to play through mistakes to learn — sometimes at the expense of wins — how do they balance the different priorties? On a team with at least seven rotation players who do their best work with the ball in their hands, how do they balance touches?

As the season has transpired, however, a new variable has been thrown into the mix: Kobe Bryant announced he would retire. While it was pretty much assumed this would be Kobe’s last year, him putting it on the record in the manner he did shifted the discussion and caused a recalibration of what this year would be about.

In a talk with ESPN’s Baxter Holmes, Mitch Kupchak laid out how Kobe’s pending retirement has taken a front seat to any other agendas which might have been on the docket:

“This [season] is really a justified farewell to perhaps the best player in franchise history. And, God willing, he’s going to want to play every game and he’s going to want to play a lot of minutes in every game, because that’s just the way he is.

“And as long as that continues, which it should, then that’s 30-35 minutes that you might give to a young player that you can’t. How do you get a feel for your team going forward when you know that your best player is not going to be there next year? So it’s really hard to go forward until he’s no longer here.

First things first, I credit Kupchak for saying what has been pretty clear to anyone who actually watches Lakers’ games, but no one seemed to want to say. Kobe has clearly been prioritized. From the way his minutes are handled to his role within the team structure to how he is spoken about by the coaches, front office, and ownership, he has been put front and center. His play has turned a corner, aiding in this approach, but earlier in the year when he was not playing well the role he filled was identical to what it is now. None of that is by accident.

Further, I have always said I am glad it is not my decision on how to manage Kobe or navigate his final season under these circumstances. The Lakers have no blueprint for managing how an aged, homegrown superstar exits gracefully on what is an awful team.

Kareem’s last year ended in a Finals loss. West and Baylor retired abruptly when they thought they could no longer be the players they were. Magic’s HIV announcement cut short his career at the tail end of his prime years. Maybe his comeback in 1996 most closely mirrors what the Lakers are doing for Kobe now — one more chance for the aging legend to go out on his terms — but that “LakeShow” team was a solid playoff outfit and Magic still came off the bench and played Power Forward.

None of these circumstances resemble what they are going through with Kobe now. As Kupchak also notes, Kobe is, maybe, the greatest Laker ever. Beyond that, he is a global icon who, at last count, led the league in all-star votes and packs arenas wherever the Lakers play. If you have a good idea on how to manage saying goodbye to this player, in this situation — and I have not even mentioned his personality/charisma/will to play — I’m all ears, but I’m pretty sure there isn’t a great answer.

The above quotes aren’t all Kupchak said, however. In fact, his most interesting comments came later. More from Holmes:

“That’s not a bad thing. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing at all. It’s something that I think is a good thing. In some regards, there’s a silver lining. Our younger players can make mistakes and it can kind of go under the radar because Kobe garnishes so much attention. Every game, it’s about Kobe. Even when he doesn’t play, it’s about Kobe. So in a lot of regards, there’s a silver lining that our guys can develop under the radar and maybe make a mistake or make two mistakes and it not be a big deal.”

Here, I think, is where Mitch is trying frame the discussion and shape the narrative. My issue with these comments, however, is that I don’t really buy into them much. First, while I agree the media attention is on Kobe, most on the record comments from those who provide them — aka the head coach — deflect and smooth out any rough edges about him and instead highlight what is wrong with the young players.

So, I don’t think the young players are able to “develop under the radar” when every other week the head coach is telling one of them to “grow up” (or some general variation of that message), openly discussing areas of weakness or what needs to be improved upon, and/or using their minutes and status as starters as foundation to making lineup changes while decreasing their roles. Scott has said positive things about the young players as well so I want to be clear this isn’t all one sided negativity. But I think it’s more than fair to say the most vocal negative comments which have gone viral nationally have been about Russell and/or Randle while deflecting against backlash which could be leveled against Kobe or other veteran players.

You can call this approach several things, but “under the radar development” isn’t one of them.

Ultimately, though, the bigger question isn’t whether the spotlight is too bright it is whether the stage is set up for their development appropriately. Kupchak, with his comments, tries to shift the conversation towards the former, but the real question is whether, by making the priorities what they are, the young players are getting the most out of this season.

Some might think this is a cop-out, but I will not pretend to know the answer here. But I will say I believe it is more than fair to question if this is actually the best way to handle their development. I have said before that if a prospect is good enough, some bad coaching along the way won’t derail their trajectory. But, just because it’s not thrown totally off course, it doesn’t mean it cannot be negatively impacted.

This gets us into gray areas we can never really discuss with any certainty. When talking about how well — or not — a prospect develops, how much of that is the talent of the player and how much is the coach? How many little things on a daily basis contribute positively or negatively to a player’s development arc? The Lakers — as well as other teams (like the T’Wolves under Sam Mitchell) — are interesting test cases for this. And while we have our opinions, we can not know for sure.

What we can know, however, is that by even thinking the question is relevant we have entered one of those unsafe zones that make me uneasy. And that, more than anything else, is my takeaway from Kupchak’s comments. I won’t pretend to be smart enough to tell the best way to manage Kobe’s last season or how, exactly, it all impacts the young players development.

But the fact that there are any potential negatives concerns me. And that is not helped by Kupchak’s comments, not with the realities of how the situation has played out to this point.

Darius Soriano

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39 responses to Kupchak Talks Kobe’s Farewell and the Impact on the Young Players’ Development

  1. I agree, Darius, that Mitch’s comments — while seemingly honest in acknowledging the difficult situation the Lakers have put themselves in re: Kobe — become harder to buy when he talks about Kobe’s effect on the young players’ development. As you point out, being called out publicly is tough to classify as “under the radar.” It’s one of those cases where I think I’d prefer he’d said nothing, rather than come up with a statement that is so easily refuted.

    It begs the question of whether Kupchack — who seems like a very intelligent guy to me — really can’t see the issue with what he’s claiming, or whether it simply reflects the Lakers’ party line at the moment, which Mitch is forced to toe. Neither option makes me feel that great.

  2. Is this the same guy who pre season said they were a possible playoff team?

    Funny when the lie gets exposed as just a money grab by ownership.

  3. KO, I always enjoy your nuanced take on things! (Grinning).

  4. Scott is a cancer. He has made enough comments already deserving of getting the ax. I don’t think that Kobe needs Scott to hold his hand. The rookies don’t need to be harangued in the media while at times obviously not getting counseled in private as to what is expected of them.

    Hand the team to Madsen to finish the year. Madsen has been a steadfast guy in the organization for years. I wouldn’t mind seeing him given an opportunity to finish this season as coach. I’m not expecting miracles but, from what I saw in Summer League I don’t think he would be worse than Scott.

    If that works out great if not, first guy I call in the off season is Luke Walton. He has done a great job in Goldenstate.

  5. Well, definitely not under the radar so far as Byron is concerned. If you modify the statement to ‘gets less attention and/or criticism from the national media and fans than otherwise,’ still not necessarily true, but closer.

    Also, while I don’t think Byron’s approach is optimal, obviously Byron thinks that it is the way to go. And I suppose you could argue that it helps or is a net positive. Maybe Mitch thinks so.

  6. Great read. I agree that Mitch’s comments seem a very stark contrast from the preseason.

  7. I hope to god Mitch is being forced to toe the party line. Otherwise, it means there isn’t a rational person in that FO.

    Yes, I know the money has poured in regardless of where the Lakers are in the standings. But the more you connect the dots the more you realize that KO is fundamentally right. Ownership leveraged fan’s love for the Lakers and Kobe to hide the fact that their efforts to win Dr Buss a championship before he died had, from a basketball resources perspective, bankrupt the organization.

    The Kobe extension was nothing but a security blanket for the FO to hide behind while they figured out what to do. As it turns out they still don’t really know. The party ends next year. Absent the miracle gift of a top draft pick, Kobe will be gone and the questions about the teams’s performance will be aimed squarely at Jim and Jeanie.

    I’m sure they are both lining up interviews with sympathetic reporters to get their ‘perspectives’ out there. It should be an interesting soap opera to watch.

  8. Mitch said this in the interview:

    “Could we have won 45 or 40? I guess it’s possible.”

    If he really thinks that, then that’s an issue. The best way to approach any questions about the won-loss record this year would have been with non-answer answers–“We are just looking for progress” etc.

    Like I said: I think the Lakers have been trying to be Dallas but haven’t pulled it off, and to call back to my two favorite posts this year: The FO tried to do too much, and Jim’s image will improve when his decisions start leading to Ws.

  9. The Lakers front office has seriously mishandled this entire Kobe situation. They have let Kobe taken hostage of the organization. Since giving that ridiculous contract to Kobe and then going after big time free agents and totally missing out, then going after pointless left overs…this period has lacked any kind of vision. If signing Kobe to that astronomical contract was a justification of the Lakers being relevant…then see the local and national ratings! No one cares about Kobe and most of everyone knows Kobe is done! We (as Laker fans) want to see our team be competitive again. Based off of this, both Mitch and Jim should have been fired a long time ago

    Now Mitch comes out and tells us that this season is all about Kobe and his farewell. THIS IS RIDICULOUS. I agree that Mitch is trying to shape a new narrative here but this is a very false and idiotic narrative. As you mention Darius…B-Scott has totally negated any kind development that was to happen despite Kobe’e farewell. B-Scott and Kobe have hindered our young core to the point where our two best young players are coming off the freaking bench; not only coming off the bench, but playing less and meaningless minutes and as you again mentioned getting called out for making a mistake. That is a joke!! There is no constructive criticism to these young men.

    This off-season needs to be about adding mid-tier talent to surround our young core so that we can at least be competitive again. If Durant wants to come here then of course pursue hard, but if he is going to dilly-dally…then make guys like Batum high priority. Also his comments on “the pitch” this off season is scary as hell. I seriously am beginning to doubt if Mitch can deliver for us. I have zero faith in Jim Buss but Mitch was always the guy I had faith in because he at least seems reasonable. But today’s comments just seem so idiotic and mind boggling. Are we ever going to get out of this crap fest of losing?? The excuses from Mitch are now truly becoming tiring..and I have been probably one of the most patient Laker fans in the past few years.

  10. – “How do you get a feel for your team going forward when you know that your best player is not going to be there next year? So it’s really hard to go forward until he’s no longer here.” as per the Mitch Kupchak puppet via Little Jimmy “the ventriloquist” Buss.

    – Baxter’s latest piece is an interview with Mitch, in which Mitch states this season’s goal. So obviously the owners, FO, & coach all are in line with it:

    espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/14514574/los-angeles-lakers-willing-sacrifice-youth-movement-order-celebrate-outgoing-kobe-bryant

    – This should bring tears of joy to all Kobe fans the world over. So if you are more Kobe than Laker fan, STOP complaining about the ownership, the front office, and the coach. This season is for you.

    – And some of you have wondered why top level free agents who have choices choose other destinations. Whether leaving the Lakers and money on the table or deciding not to join in the 1st place. After all, if Kob has this type of carte blanche at this stage of career, just imagine what he had before.

    – Bottom line: quite obviously many players (including past & present teammates), coaches and Laker fans don’t feel the same. News Flash: you can count me among them. No question, my most frustrating Laker season as a fan (since ’65).

  11. Like Byron, I guess I am ‘old school’. We call it ‘guiding the younger players’ but we used to call it coddling and that wasn’t meant in a good sense. Remember the ‘rookies are dogpoop..’ comments by Phil Jackson? Well, there is a reason for that. Rookies can’t be depended on night-in night-out and they really haven’t fully learned how to deal with either the NBA schedule or the NBA life. Until the do learn their lessons they are going to be picked on – regardless their draft status. Magic learned his lessons practically from day one, but he was a very unique player and there is no one like him in the league today – the closest being Lebron, and he took more time to learn his lessons.

    In this arguement, I side with Bryon and feel Russell and Randle simply have to ‘deal with it’. They are likely to be better players long-term for it, or they will not be what we expect and should be sent packing in a year or two.

  12. As always, great piece of writing Darius. Kobe is definitely in the GLOAT discussion. I’m excited about our young core and the future. If there’s a silver lining during these lottery years at least we purge the site of all the bandwagon Laker fans. Thanks for giving us true fans a place to come home to.

  13. Sid,

    One thing that is clear about FAs with multiple options: they almost always go where they think they can win. If Kobe had Bill Russell’s gravitas and Magic Johnson’s smile, guys would not want to be on a team that was going to lose. Back in 2004, Gary Payton and Karl Malone took monstrous pay cuts to play on a team with Kobe–because they wanted to win. Ron Artest wanted to play with Kobe–so he could win. LaMarcus Aldridge went to SA–so he could win, but LA said the best part of the pitch here was talking to KB. And on and on.

    Basically, you are more emotional about Kobe than even his most ardent fans are, and it shows.

  14. Craig,

    Well, most of Phil’s teams were contending for titles and even the worst ones he had here were low-seed playoff teams. This team is 8-28. So, those are very different situations.

    That noted, some of the young guys who played for Phil here (Farmar, Bynum, Ariza, Walton) developed OK, and while I think Phil preferred vets, I looked at the record again, and I think his track record with young guys was fine. So in that vein, I largely agree with the idea that if the young guys have what it takes, Byron’s grouchiness and even his playing them fewer minutes than many might wish won’t kill them long-term.

    But OTOH, the fact that Byron has taken a liking to Nance Jr. and that Nance Jr. is thriving may be part of the problem: Nance is probably the guy among the rookies who is closest to being a finished product and that, combined with his low-usage style, makes him the best fit for this team as it is now. But the team as it is now is not well-constructed.

  15. In this arguement, I side with Bryon and feel Russell and Randle simply have to ‘deal with it’. They are likely to be better players long-term for it, or they will not be what we expect and should be sent packing in a year or two.
    ___

    I have tried not to grind directly on Byron or Kobe (his extension and subsequent poor play). I see them as symptoms of a seriously flawed FO.

    BS is as close to a ‘rent a coach’ as there is. Clearly he would not be the coach if Kobe wasn’t here. And he won’t be the coach when Kobe is gone.

    Much has been said recently about Byron actions in relation to Randle and Russell. Most have sided with Byron that tough love is the right and proper course – Randle and Russell have some growing up to do. This is obviously true, they are kids and have much to learn about the NBA. However, they are unique in that they hold the absolute key to whether the Lakers cumulative record of 54 – 146 these last 2+ years produces a relatively quick turnaround or one that runs into the next decade.

    My point is that Byron, in his less than sure thing standing, may not be the right person to crack the whip. His duplicitous handling of Kobe versus the team was always a high wire act prone to creating animosity. I heard the Petros and Money show and the sound bite from Randle. The ‘it’s not like I’m taking 25 shots remark’ was a zinger at Kobe and Byron. It’s only natural that Julius, averaging a double/double at the time of his demotion, would lash out. Byron, being a strict disciplinarian, is likely moving Randle further into the doghouse. This angst is creating a rift between Randle and the coach and possibly the organization.

    It’s been said before by many others, if Brad Stevens was the Lakers coach – someone with long term job security as a result of being really good at their job and someone who has a more even hand across the roster – then this issue with Randle likely isn’t a big deal. I think the fact that the messenger in this case, Byron, who has little credibility beyond being Kobe’s guy, is potentially far more damaging. Byron’s penchant for taking internal issues to the media prompted Randle to fight back in the media. It’s a slippery slope that could get ugly.

    I want to point out a few of the contributors here: AH – strong take! rr – you are the ever present grown up in the room.

  16. Darius: “And that is not helped by Kupchak’s comments” So Mitch is not helping now or in preseason – “playoffs”. Byron does not help with all of his tough love. Jim does not help with his “turning the corner” comments. And Jeanie of course does not help with her sibling rivalry stuff. Who is in charge of communications?
    Vasheed: “Hand the team to Madsen” Do you think he is qualified to be the VP of Ops?
    AH: “I have been probably one of the most patient Laker fans in the past few years.” Well I have not been. However I agree with a large portion of the rest of your post.
    BCS: “This season is for you.” I actually said this 3 years ago that we would be here, and I would be rooting for Kobe records. What else am I supposed to do? Everything else is a total wreck. I wanted them to have a winner with Kobes. Once that was not possible, I wanted them to consider parting ways with Kobes and I certainly did not want the extension at $48. However – once they gave it to him – of course I am going to enjoy him. So if your point is that the FO mishandled this – then I agree. What is your point?
    Jayelvee: “GLOAT” – The L is not needed. GLOAT and GOAT are the same discussion. GOAT is a bunch of Lakers and MJ : )

  17. How should a long time, franchise great be managed by a team? Oh, I do not know. Let’s look at San Antonio and Tim Duncan. This could end up being Duncan’s last season as well. The injuries have been adding up for him and he is not the player he once was. His minutes have been cut and he has been held out of games. This is possible in part because free agents actually want to go to San Antonio and play for the Spurs. That takes a lot of the pressure off Duncan to be the man on a nightly basis. The Spurs have been consistent over the past few years in cutting down Duncan’s minutes and finding players who can be productive when he is not on the court. As much as Duncan is respected by his coach and teammates, he is not the Spurs. But he is part of the team. Compared to this, Kupchak with his comments comes off as having gone the Leonard Tose route.

  18. Slightly off topic: Mike Bresnahan of the LA Times reports that the 3 Lakers with non-guaranteed contracts — MWP, Tarik Black, and M. Huertas — will all probably be retained on the team. This comes from an unnamed source from within the Lakers. So…apparently, there should be no changes.

    Meanwhile, below are some comments from Byron re: Tarik Black. Apparently, Byron is not exactly ecstatic about Black’s play in the post:

    “Coach Byron Scott wants to see better mid-range accuracy and an improved post game from Black.

    “‘From a statistical standpoint, when he gets it in the post, he’s not very effective,’ Scott said. ‘If he gets it where he can just go up and dunk it, obviously, he’s a pretty effective scorer.'”

  19. Another note off-topic: have you heard of Dragan Bender? Apparently, he could be the next great Euro (or not). The problem is that he’s 17 years old and only weighs 216 despite being 7-1. But even so, he looks pretty good:

    http://www.cheatsheet.com/sports/why-this-17-year-old-is-the-player-to-watch-for-the-2016-nba-draft.html/2

  20. Re: Tarik. I watched Black in a workout without a defender with Scott’s son performing post moves from the block. He missed four out of every five shots, which is poor since most players routinely make those shots when no one is defending them (Huertas rarely missed any of his shot attempts during pre-game warm-ups). He appears to be in phenomenal physical shape with a toned upper body, so clearly he’s been in the weight room. Nonetheless, his workout was less than impressive with so many missed shots. OTOH, Embiid looked prepared to beast in the paint. His workout was perfect from both sides of the block and during face-ups. He too has gotten familiar with the weight room.

  21. Mid — the only problem with Bender or any draft pick is whether the FO is willing to take the necessary steps (within the rules) to assist the team in keeping its pick. Although trading the vets may be more difficult than any of us hoped.

    Yahoo’s Woj spoke today that with the Warriors and Spurs breaking away most teams realize that they are more than one role playing vet away from winning. Thinks there will be little trade interest in the Lakers vets. Thankfully, we look bad enough without any intervention.

  22. Kobe fans wish he had a coach instead of an enabler. Coaches can be supportive & unfair towards their star players (eg Phil Jackson favored Shaq during his first Lakers tenure, and shied away from confronting him on some things), but they still know how and when to get their attention and improve (Jackson challenged shaq to improve conditioning, passing, etc)

    Randle is dealing with an unfair situation but his protest smacks a bit of entitlement rather than putting his head down and bettering himself. (Also, the no one was playing d in that quarter, why he got to pick on me). These are signs to watch out for, and if he doesn’t improve over the off season, check if it is a trend

  23. I think Lakers are doing damage control the only way they can. The Lakers brand is at jeopardy and it’s not just the winning, it’s the Lakers mystique that is at danger. No longer is LA the marquee destination it once was, and players will gladly accept deals from a no-income tax state if things are equal, and if not, look for a team that can bolster their value by going deep into the playoffs – the local market is no longer what it was.

    With that, the FO is trying to play with the other thing the Lakers were known for: loyalty to its players. While I don’t know how many will appreciate this, but if you look long term, this is going to be the selling point to somebody who can legitimately start/finish his career as a Laker. And since human psychology works the way it does, the more Randle/Russel get thrown under the bus, they will also see the light at the end of the tunnel and know that they could be given that respect once Kobe leaves and they take the keys to the franchise (if they are worthy).

    I don’t think the FO is mishandling the situation. It’s not the smart business savvy way of the 2000s, but the more loyal approach of the 1980s, but they’ve committed to this path since Kobe’s extension. Given that this is a family business and Kobe is the last remaining Laker signed while the elder Buss was still alive, I also see this as an homage to the owner that made the Lakers great.

  24. The question is not really about managing Kobe—it is about how the whole team is constructed. I think you can make a case that the team’s nine-man rotation should be, and should have been:

    1-RUSSELL/CLARKSON
    2-CLARKSON/KOBE/ABROWN/JBROWN?(instead of letting him go)
    3-KOBE/NANCE/ABROWN
    4-RANDLE/NANCE/KELLY
    5-HIBBERT/BLACK

    IOW, Kobe, Hibbert, and a bunch of guys 24 or younger. That is a very bad team with huge floor spacing issues, but, well, if they were 6-30 instead of 8-28, I don’t see that as a big problem. If the Lakers wanted an emergency PG/mentor, they could have just kept Ronnie Price, who was mocked a lot on other sites and a bit here last year, but recently was singled out for praise by Jeff Hornacek as being the one guy in PHX who is bringing it, and who has always been known as a clubhouse guy. Price is very borderline as a player but has been in the NBA for ten years now, which strongly suggests that he is a guy whom people like having around.

    I never wanted Young; I saw the reasons behind Williams but was ultimately against it. BB is a solid bench guy and true pro, but is wasted here and is one reason Scott sits Randle. The counter I suppose is that you need some vets around, but Price/Metta/Kobe/Hibbert provide/could provide that.

    So, having thought about it a little, I don’t think the issue is really Kobe (if we presume that the extension is not up for questioning) per se with the usual caveats about minutes and 3s. The issue is hiring Byron and bringing in vets when the team is/was clearly not good enough to fight for a low playoff seed. Given Byron’s track record and personality, and Mitch’s playoffs comment, it is not at all surprising that Byron has turned more to BB, Williams, Young and Nance Jr. rather than to Randle, Russell, Black, and Kelly.

  25. Add: and yes, maybe the FO can get something for Williams/BB/Hibbert.

  26. I think Todd gets to the heart of this: lame duck coaches (and everybody knows, and has known from the very beginning, that Byron Scott is one) are like substitute teachers. They command no respect because people know they won’t be here tomorrow.

    I understand all the reasons Byron might have been the choice as coach — loyalty, his relationship with Kobe, his success with some PGs, etc. — but it surprises me still that the front office couldn’t see how poorly a lame duck coach might mesh with young, high draft picks. I don’t support Randle (or Russell, or anyone else) acting up and acting entitled. But if your coach is a guy on his way out, presumably, it will probably only encourage that behavior. I fear we haven’t seen the last of it during Byron’s tenure.

  27. I’m realizing being a Lakers fan we’ve for the longest time seen them build a team around a star, SHAQ, then KOBE, I’ve never payed attention to how the other teams built, now this year we rebuild, and it has left us huge holes in the team.

    we drafted a point guard, had a returning young guard, clarkson, and had a returning power forward in randle to play his first season. So because of this we gotta leave holes in the lineup for these young players to get time on the court and develop, also lets not forget we need to leave a hole for kobe,

    so because we have russell and clarkson, we sign a come off the bench guard lou williams, so our young guys can play and develop. We also have randle at power forward so we gotta leave a hole there too, so we draft nance jr and sign a temporary fill in brandon bass, just in case randle is not ready. Now for kobe we leave it open so he can play, small forward. Then we bring in roy hibbert hoping he is motivated by new team and end of contract, also he eats up remainder of salary without taking any of the others playing time.

    Now I am understanding what the other teams gotta go through, if you draft a prospect, you gotta open up spots on your team to develop them, it’s very risky, and causes you to be a terrible team for a couple years. This makes me think what is next for the Lakers, do you continue to leave a hole for randle, and clarkson. I would for russell. If you draft a small forward you gotta leave a hole for him now. These are big decisions for the future.

    Anyone else…

  28. I don’t think Kobe is hampering the rookies all that much. Kobe is playing SF and about the only rookie losing playing time is probably A. Brown who has had to spend time in the D-League unless Kobe will be rested. In that case Brown gets called up to start n Kobe’s place.

    Bigger issues are things like Williams taking time from Russell/Clarkson and of course the absolute glut at PF taking minutes from Randle/Kelly. Also note Black hasn’t gotten time at Center because of Bass but even Black is a PF. I can’t complain about Nance not getting enough playing time, and he has done well given the opportunity to play.

  29. I think the fact that it’s the lakers has effected byron scotts attitude toward coaching, if he was coaching anywhere else he would have less emotions.

  30. Was Mitch’s comments about this year being about Kobe directed at Jeanie? Was he really saying, Jim and I need another year because this year is being wasted on the Kobe retirement party?

    I don’t know the relationship between Jim and Jeanie. My gut says its pretty frosty. Maybe they don’t talk. Maybe an opportunity like the Mitch press conference is an chance to float the idea that this year shouldn’t count against his promise. Clearly, Jim knows that time is running out on his Western Conference Finals or better guarantee. He’s facing what will surely be an embarrassing resignation or firing in May/June of 2016. He’s trying to buy another year.

    My reaction: Nice try, but no thanks. Jim was hoping that Kobe would retire and hand the keys off to Carmelo and Aldridge. People need to realize that Jim’s grand plan would have produced a 2016/17 team anchored by a pair of 31+ year old forwards taking up 50% of a $90+ million dollar cap. Its not like he has been busy, for the past three years, drawing up grand plans for the next Lakers dynasty. He may be a nice guy but his basketball acumen is limited and its time to turn the reins over to someone with more vision.

  31. I just want to see the young guys attempt to hustle and pla defense. Not 1993 defense, simple 2016 defense which is essentially move your feet and make the guy take an extra dribble or two.

    Is that too much to ask from your high draft picks? Get back on d, dive for a loose ball, fight through a pick……

  32. So Kupchak basically voiced what we already knew.

    With regards to the consequences, the negatives have already been hammered on.

    The positives are that our kids are soaking up wisdom from the momba, and it’s true that the rookies get to enjoy a slower dunk into the hot water.

    Lastly, the Lakers are reinforcing the fact that we take care of our own. (sometimes at the expense of us fans, yet the big picture may show that we win in the end.)

    So,..for me, this season offers some final glimpses of the Black momba in action, and flashes of our future in the kids.

    I’m good with those.

  33. If we get Ben Simmons, I think Byron Scott should get coach of the year

  34. The FO serves up yet another batch of purple and gold kool-aid. Some of us are drinking a bit too much of it.

  35. “Clearly, Jim knows that time is running out on his Western Conference Finals or better guarantee. He’s facing what will surely be an embarrassing resignation or firing in May/June of 2016. He’s trying to buy another year.”

    Jim may as well be shown the door tomorrow morning, this afternoon if possible. Even if he is given another year it doesn’t matter. The Lakers are at least 2 years away from being a break even (41-41) team. WCF is a pipe dream at this point. The next coach will have to come in an fix the mess Byron has created with the youngsters. At some point Russell and Clarkson will need to learn to play efficiently off one another. That learning process can’t start until Bryon and his wacky rotations are gone.

    For the Lakers to be WCF bound in two years they would need the mother of all free ageny hauls this summer. Plus, they would need to fleece a couple of other GM’s in trades this season.

  36. Anonymous-

    what is the downside of drinking the kool-aid?

    being a fan is strictly something to do for fun and entertainment. win or lose it actually doesn’t make a bit of difference in people’s real lives.

  37. Mud: Nothing wrong with being a fan and deriving enjoyment from the game. For Lakers fans the last 2+ years have been complicated. It was mentioned, above, that the Lakers are 54- 146 over that time frame. That has begged the question of why?

    Sports media has given us access to what goes on ‘behind the curtain’. Many of us have not been impressed with what we have seen.

  38. Keith, the ‘behind the curtain’ glimpses are mostly made up from interviews that everyone has access to. whatever the reason for the losing, the people who own the team aren’t directly accountable to you or your wishes. all you can do is gripe to other uninvolved parties who also don’t have access to backstage. your choices are:
    1. whine like a spoiled child
    2. find a team that you like better(appropriate for bandwaggoners especially!)
    3. support your team anyway.

    choice 3 doesn’t mean that you can’t complain at all, it just means that you can’t get as emotionally involved in your complaint as you would for say, your child, pet or possession, or if you had hired a serviceman who hadn’t provided what was promised. the Lakers never promised you anything other than entertainment, so there’s actually not much to take personally.

    no fan has a better or worse life just based on the record of the team that he roots for.

    rooting for a team doesn’t mean that you deserve wins.

  39. @Mud,
    Pure logic, with a sunny side.

    I like it !!