Podcast: Tank is a Four Letter Word

Darius Soriano —  January 23, 2017

I know during Sunday’s 49 point drubbing at the hands of the Mavericks, many Lakers’ fans threw out a bunch of four letter words. After the game, though, the one which might have been most uttered by fans wasn’t an expletive, but rather a reference to what the team’s strategy should be for the rest of the year: tank.

With the Lakers falling to last in the West and now in possession of the 3rd worst record in the league, the draft pick ramifications of the Lakers’ position is not lost on anyone who roots for the Lakers. So, with that, in the latest Laker Film Room Podcast, me and Pete discuss the direction of the team, what approach they should take in the 2nd half of the year, and, briefly, a couple of – gulp – prospects in the upcoming draft.

Click through to listen to the discussion.


Darius Soriano

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43 responses to Podcast: Tank is a Four Letter Word

  1. Habits:  This is difficult, because we need to play the youngsters to see what we have. However if they do not follow the coaching instruction and do not exert effort, then what do you do?    Bench them or coddle them?   It appears as though Luke is doing this fairly well, but the players are not exactly responding which is largely on them, but also on him.   Results matter and not just wins and losses.   What is the team attitude?   What are the habits?   Not good answers at this point and this does not bode well for the ceilings of the youngsters or the patience of the coach.  Giving up and getting creamed by 30 points or more (much less franchise records) means you simply do not care for portions of the game.   It also of course means the roster is horrible and the FO was simply wrong on this.   I have said all year that this roster is bad and it is.   Attitude and coaching are important but it is talent that rules the NBA – always has.
    Tank:    Are we really talking about this for the 4th straight year?    A long time ago I remember Aaron (where is he?) and I spoke about “the long term tank”.   However – wow – not even sure we were envisioning this.  What we were envisioning was a plan to be bad for a few years and a projected plan to contend again.   What the Lakers have done is to attempt to be good in several different ways, and then ended up tanking because we failed – 4 times in a row.   This is inexcusable that we are talking about this.     That said – in essence yes – you tank in that you do not play vets simply to win 5 more games.   Been saying this since last year.   We should have dumped Lou and Nick and we would know more about our youngsters and we would be closer to the tank now. Mosgov and Deng have clearly not hurt the “tank” but they weigh down our cap in future years like  the Grand Piano weighed down the Titanic.  
    Where to?:  
    1) Change the FO and do it now.    The team is already in chaos and our management has zero credibility.  We want a smooth Summer.   If we dump Jim now the drama gets behind us.   Wait until June and it spoils the Summer.    Dump Jim – let Mitch ride the year out with Ryan.   
    2) Decide if you want a Mitch to Ryan transition or if you want a new Pres/GM to come in.   Get that done by June at the latest.  If it is Ryan, you need Jerry or others to assist him as per #5.
    3) Get all Buss family members out of the org except Jeanie.
    4) Keep Luke (for a few more years minimum – but results matter eventually)
    5) Bring in Magic, Jerry, Kareem, and anyone else who can re-establish some credibility – cause we have none  (only bring in a couple of them though cause too many cooks will spoil things).   As I have said many times – our relationship situation with our legends is a travesty.
    6) Evaluate the youngsters and start to decide who we are willing to max out.    I do not think maxing out everyone is a good plan.   Clearly.
    7) Hope we keep the pick.
    8) Do not sign mediocre vets to long term contracts.   Try to dump the boat anchors currently on the roster (why did we sign them – I don’t know).
    9) Wait until opportunities develop for major stars and unfortunately – this could take a couple years because we have missed out on most of the top stars changing teams or signing contracts recently. 
    10) Start acting like the Lakers.   No feuding in the family,   no firing of coaches every two years, and no ridiculous statements in the press about how we “turned a corner” until we have.
    Finally we must hope we catch some breaks.   The hole we have dug for ourselves is deeper than even my most pessimistic posts have projected (and I admit – I have written some doozies).   As many of you know – I play poker.    At this point the Lakers are like a bad player who also gets very bad luck.    It often happens this way.      What we need to do is to change the deck, change tables, and change out the guy controlling our “Chips”     (pun intended).

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  2. I ran across this quote from an article by Kilgary on SB Nation:
    Jim and Mitch’s continued failures do not paint a positive light on Jeanie Buss. By “empowering” her front office, Jeanie has given them enough rope to not only hang themselves; but to hamstring the franchise for years to come. The four year deals they handed out to Mozgov and Deng do exactly that. The bar can not possibly be lowered further. The time has come to make a change in the Laker front office. Even after the change, it will take years to undo the damage done to this franchise from last summer’s free agent signings alone. Jeanie has a lot of work to do to make up for the mistakes she allowed to happen under her stewardship of the team.

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  3. I read that board quite a bit. Kilgary is one of my favorite posters.

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  4. What everyone misses about tanking is we HAVE gotten lucky two years in a row. Now it’s tightened to a top 3 pick or we surrender it to the sixers. Every year a team with the top 3 worst record falls out of the top 3 in the lottery. Huge risk. Huge. Can you imagine surrendering the number 4 pick in the draft to Philadelphia? No. Tanking should not be an option this year. Play the vets. Try to finsih middle of the pack, while everyone else starts tanking.

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  5. I’m not a big fan of tanking for a top 3 protected pick.  The odds of losing it even with a terrible record are too high.  The losing is demoralizing to the players we already do have.  I admit it would be very nice to keep that pick and therefore also not owe a 1st round pick to Orlando.  However, I’d rather try my best to instill the right culture and if by chance win the lottery it be a result of happenstance rather than intentional tanking.
    I don’t think the F.O. could do anything to appease fans other than win games.  Unfortunately many fans favor policies that are counter to doing so.  A complete commitment to a youth movement at all costs for one.  It takes some time for young guys to develop.  It also helps to have a winning culture to develop a young talent.  Developing a lot of young guys at once is hard because you don’t have that culture and you a re essentially asking the young guys to build the foundation.  These young guys might have great potential but whether they realize that potential is unknown and as I said made harder without the right culture.
    People are upset about the signings of Moz and Deng.  People were upset the Lakers before that the Lakers chased stars while all the plan B guys signed elsewhere.  This year the Lakers signed those plan B guys as soon as it was apparent the stars weren’t coming.  Deng has been disappointing although he was considered a decent choice if overpaid and too many years (the so called loser’s tax).  Mozgov was a guy the coaches Walton and Shaw wanted.
    The F.O. this year did exactly what fans asked for who can only quibble about the details.
    My own criticism of the F.O. is that they should not be wholely dedicated to a youth movement.  They should look to trade some ‘potential’ into some proven commodities.  This does not mean a fire sale nor does it mean jettisoning every young player but a rebalancing of the roster for the here and now as well as the future.  This does not mean trading for dinosaurs either.  This means creating an environment where the remaining rookies are surrounded by players who can help them grow and known commodities that can help attract free agents without a loser’s tax.  Moz, Deng, and Peace are simply not enough to develop a large group of youths.

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  6. My idea is not to tank, but to trade away the vets that take time from the youngins to develop. Lou Williams is very dependable, therefore we do. Trade him away, and someone else (maybe two or three) would step up.

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  7. Sorry everyone time to end the farce and begin the rebuild in earnest. Tank is not a 4 letter word it is reality. I do not like losing but also winning with Lou & Nick chucking up 3’s do us no good. I told everyone earlier this is where we would be. Let the youngsters play and develop and see what we truly have. Quit trying to be GS and form a discernible identity with a true plan to get back to the mountaintop. This reminds me of the Sedale version of the Lakers with Lou Williams playing Sedale. When the banners got hung he was no where to be seen. Let go of the silly emotional attachments to any player we currently have because they might not be here when it truly counts. I suggest everyone take a trip to Staples and look at the Jerseys & Banners to get a refresher as to what we are all about and it certainly is not mediocrity. Quit acting like these kids are going to be great and that being young is an excuse…really? Again Earvin and Bird both were ruling the league at their ages. Jordan killing it…Duncan champ first year in the league. Patience? That is for the Sacramento Kings of the league not us. Who knows what we got and that is the problem right there. We don’t know and we should. While most of them will develop into decent or good players…we need “thee player” and we have always had one. This win by sharing it around and playing a platoon means this… it is like when you have a Football team who has a two QB system or Running back by committee. That coach would tell you in secret he does not really have a QB or RB. Again if they do not make any moves that will show all you need to know. Which is … it will probably take about 5 to 7 (if we are lucky… more like 7 to 10) years to fix the fiasco we have now. Now I ask do you have that type of patience?

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  8. wwlofficial 
    Agreed bye Lou! So long Nick! Remember Kobe was supposed to be in the way of their development? They have to learn to close out games and that means playing meaningful minutes. That means being out on the floor in “Crunch Time” or 4th quarters and learning to beat these guys. Of the young guys only Clarkson displays the fire needed to beat people down. The other guys are just too passive or just smile … example. Cousins calling out Randle and coming to the Lakers bench really? I have watched the Lakers for over 45 years people never seen that before…ever! And if someone would have they would have gotten the “Beat Down” and that’s what Randle should have done! But he was just smiling standing in the back but he is supposed to be a “Beast” right? Because the beast I know would have stepped to the front and been “nose to nose” with Cousins. Randle was a “Bully” and has always had a size advantage against lesser players…that is gone now because in the words of the great Hubie Brown. The NBA means ” No Babies Allowed” and I don’t know about you guys when I was his age the “fire” burned in my chest and came out thru my nostrils. Not singling him out because all of our youngsters have this problem. Time to quit stroking them and let them know they have not done “ish” in this league! You think Pop would be telling them how great they are? You got to want it…Isiah Thomas in Boston…that kid wants it! Throw the analytic numbers to the side and look for some “Heart” because as they say in the street we got a bunch of guys “Pumping Kool-Aid” right now!

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  9. ChrisBoshie 
    Why would you play the vets and try to be in the middle of the pack? And I doubt if these vets are good enough to get you there. So, now you got a double negative going. Still out of the lottery & and a wasted year of development.

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  10. Does it not strike anyone as vaguely ironic that some of the same posters who bemoan the ‘terrible contracts’ of Mozgov and Deng are simultaneously suggesting the team jettison it’s best (non-rookie) contract (Lou Willlams) and a decent one (Nick).  Settle down, folks, and look at the long game:  If Zu is our future, then Mozgov makes perfect sense.  Who else do you want Zu playing against in practice, T Black? He’d get the crap beaten out of him!  It’s the same reason that MWP is still on the roster, to give Randle someone to battle against day in and day out (only with Mozgov, there’s also a cultural/linguistic component as well).  This FO is much better, and more LOGICAL, than people here give them credit for– they’ve drafted incredibly well and matched their young players with specific veterans who by all accounts are great locker room guys to guide those young players along.  Can you imagine if Rondo was the primary vet on the team?  Or Boogie?  How would the lockerroom be different then?  

    Would I like it if Deng played better?  I would, but I also appreciate that he’s probably mostly around to bring Ingram along as well as being a good role model as much as anything else.  The Lakers are bad right now, but they are not toxic– they are not a team like Sac, for example.  Or NYK.  I think Ingram, Zu, and DAR are going to be great players in this league and Randle and JC will be very good players at least, but you cant just set them loose in the world with their new million dollar contracts and expect them to walk the line.  

    I may be the only one left on this board, but I (mostly) like what the Lakers have done, and are doing.  (And before anyone calls me an ‘apologist’ – a pejorative term by the way as opposed to offering a reasoned rebuttal – I’ll tell you what I didn’t like at all: the ill-fated chase of Melo and LMA.  That would have been a disaster and that idiotic plan is on the FO, I agree.  But since then, I think things have been pretty well-handled, despite the record.  For example, anyone here think the Knicks wouldn’t trade rosters with us right now? 

    We have the right coach & a group of very talented kids some of whom can’t legally drink a beer yet….we have some vets who have 3 years left on their deal, but those contracts will become very tradeable in their last years and no one’s beating SA or GS in the WCF in that interval even if our kids were older.  The timeline makes sense– we’re going to be poised to compete when the best teams fade (of course, others will as well.)  It’s going to be rocky, but I for one enjoy watching this youthfest coalesce into something special.  Sure, some 4th Q heroics by LWill might cost us a shot at some ping pong balls, but does anyone think it’s not useful for a player like Ingram (or DAR) to watch Lou close-up?  Wouldn’t DAR benefit from having a lot more Lou in his game?

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  11. lil pau

    This is the same defense that was used of the Deng and Mozgov deals after they were made, and while there may be some truth in what you are saying, you are doing a lot of heavy lifting with stuff like mentoring, practice time, culture, hypothetical off-court player interactions, etc. 134M is a lot to pay for guys to talk to Ingram and to practice against Zubac. 
    Again: Philadelphia has moved up to 10th in overall D, and they are not paying big money for someone to mentor Embiid, have few veterans around, and Embiid has played at an ASG level. Yes, Embiid has been around the NBA two years doing injury rehab but the point holds. Minnesota kept Garnett around as a sign of respect to KG and to mentor Towns…but KG was on a cheap, one-year deal. If the Lakers had done something like that, no one would be complaining. But the Lakers gave Deng and Mozgov long, guaranteed deals at starter money and put them in the lineup, and the team is still at the bottom of the league in DRTG, is still dogged by questions about effort and focus, is still losing constantly, and is still suffering the occasional demoralizing blowout. And sure, the deals may be movable eventually. But for now they hamper flexibility and do not seem to be giving much return. 
    As to Williams, he is 30, and there is not much point on having a guy with his skillset on a young, bad team with two combo guards who need the ball and reps. So, many people think it is better to cash him in for some type of future asset.

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  12. Vasheed

    A) Fans will always complain. I was posting here in 2008-11 and people complained then, too. Kobe shot too much, Pau was soft, Phil was stubborn, Fisher was washed up, Odom and Bynum were not focused enough. Part of the FO’s job is not to worry about that and to do what they think is best for the organization. 
    B) Fans want different things. But I don’t think a lot of fans wanted Deng and Mozgov. No one here was talking about them until the FO pulled the trigger, and I think if the FO was going to drop big money on non-star FAs, people would have been happier with younger guys, like Bazemore and Biyombo (both of whom have had bad years but are at least still in their 20s). 

    As far as attracting FAs and/or getting in position to trade for a star, I think the best shot there is to keep the young guys together, play them, maybe take a run at adding Noel to them, and hope that Walton can develop them into a 45-50 win Lake Show 2 group, and hope that the Deng and Mozgov deals won’t be a huge roadblock.

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  13. new rr  Vasheed
    Fans were debating whether we should get Harford or Whiteside.  It quickly became apparent they weren’t coming.  Fans have argued in the past the Lakers let B-Type players get away while chasing Superstars.
    The Lakers signed those B-Type guys.  They could have done worse when you consider Mozgov is playing better than guys like Mahinmi or Biyombo who got similar long term big contracts.  Budget guys would have been like Ezeli or Hibbert.  Again it also should be emphasized that our coaching staff had a preference for Mozgov as that B-Type signing.
    Deng I’d argue wasn’t questioned quite as much although the consensus was he was overpaid.  I also think he should be moved to PF and yeah I know that would be a problem.
    As to development, I think for most rookies they are better off being on the floor with 4 guys having 4 or 5 years of NBA experience than having 1 or 2  guys like that on the court and playing  inexperienced players in a sink or swim environment.  I just consider playing with experienced players a better environment for most rookie players.  Guys like LeBron or Embiid are the exceptions.

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  14. Vasheed new rr

    Some fans have “argued” that, sure. But around here, at least more have argued to let the kids play, as we are seeing again now. 

    And sure, it is OK to have some veterans around. But the question is for how long, at what cost, in what role, and how they fit with the roster construction. And if you look at the Deng and Mozgov deals in those terms, they do not look like good moves now, just as they didn’t when the FO pulled the trigger on them.

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  15. new rr  Vasheed
    The F.O. has also been previously lambasted for constantly signing cheap 1 year rentals.  So I’m not buying they could have just not paid anybody argument.
    I do agree it is the overwhelming consensus is to let the kids play.  I  disagree on this.  I think it reduces the chances of developing young players to their maximum potential.

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  16. new rr  lil pau

    TELL IT brother!!!!!  

    Great point on the KG-Minny deal.  How many MENTORS do the Wolves, Sixers, Nuggets etc. have??? We’ve got the biggest and highest paid staff of TEAM MENTORS on the PLANET!!! Metta, Deng, Mozgov (somehow he gets Mentor status from some) Huertas (if hes NOT here for NON basketball reasons, that is a serious FO problem), Calderon (opportune pick up who came w 2 second round picks–default mentor), Lou, and NICK (OK, Nick IS NOT A MENTOR)  half the team is mentoring the other half!!!!!!!

    Damn it!!!! The Player that NEEDS a mentor the MOST, D’Angelo Russell doesn’t have one.  I’d rather have Andre Miller than Huertas.  Would have been the best Mentor money that we coulda spent IMO.  

    Nick and Lou are mere place holders and they need to be moved so that the NEXT GEN can take their places.  If we can be 3rd worst WITH these guys, then clearly the bigger value is not in the fools gold they provide on the court, but rather in cashing them in while they are at the tops of their respective games.  The fact that they are on decent contracts is a great advantage because the types of teams that would want to add them are gonna be capped out. 

    Though I can imagine a very real scenario where the FO thought it made perfect logical sense to add these two components, with each passing day, I despise the Mozzy and Deng deals more and more.  Its an irrational sickness…..
    With the clarity of hindsight, Luke didn’t need them after all it seems.  I don’t believe the team needed them either as they don’t even play in most of our better line up groupings.  But Deng keeping Ingram away from the Strip Club at 3am for $18M per year for 4 years??????  PAY THEYAAAATT MYANNNN HISSSS MAWWNEEEYYYYY!!!!!!! He is a MENTOR and he’s earning it!!!! 

    We basically have the ALL MENTOR TEAM here!!!!!!! We are in the MENTOR LUXURY TAX for sure!!!! : (

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  17. LordMo

    I find myself agreeing with you more and more bro.  Much respect for the Sedale mention and comp (I loved Sedale!!!!!).  Sorta similar situation IMO with Lou and maybe a couple of others. 

    You may recall, Sedale was signed with Magic’s blessing (Perhaps even ad Magic’s behest—I think Magic may have even reportedly accepted a smaller contract so they could sign him—I believe Magic was making $2.5 Million at the time—SOO wrap your head around THAT sh*t ; )  ) and I believe he was signed after the 1991 season where the Lakers lost to the Bulls in the Finals that season.  

    Threatt was to be that missing piece that was the decent, productive veteran back up to Magic that we could never quite find (sorry Larry Drew).  That was his envisioned role. 

    Then Magic abruptly retired with the whole HIV deal and suddenly, this nice little pick up who was gonna play a valuable 15 min per night role became the Starting PG AND a volume shooter much in the vein of Lou Will.  

    We’ve got guys carrying the team who were brought in to be bright spots in limited bench minutes.   

    “I do not like losing but also winning with Lou & Nick chucking up 3’s do us no good.”

    AMEN x 10!!!!

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  18. rr,

    thanks as always for you reliably intelligent response.  you remain among the treasures of this site and I always enjoy your posts.  my rebuttal:

    136M may be a huge # when taken out of context (it would certainly go a long way to paying off my mortgage, for example) , but it may not be ‘a lot to pay’ under the future CBA and I can imagine many round these parts, in the absence of Mozgov’s deal, making the opposite complaint in a couple of years, that the FO failed to prepare for the new CBA by neglecting to sign a big.  7’s are going to be making an absolute  fortune under the new CBA– let’s see how Mozzy’s deal looks when lesser players are signing for 50 percent more.

    Basically, my argument re the 5 is that we have to fill a roster, we’re not going to just have kids on it, and whichever 7′ one thinks one can get for a year rental is either going to be (1) worse than Mozzy or (2) someone we’re going to wish we had locked up prior to the new CBA.  Do I wish we had Whiteside?  I do, but the idea is so obvious that I assume he was out of reach.  Meanwhile, we have the guy who seems the percent choice for Zu, basketball and cultural reasons alike.  Obviously, none of us can know how useful Mozzy is in this regard, so we’ll have to weight it retroactively based on Zu’s development.  The better he is, the better the Mozzy deal will look; if he flames out, then i’d agree the TM signing will be pretty indefensible.

    Comparing Mozgov/Zu to KG/KAT is simply unfair, imo– for one reason, KAT was such a beast out of the gate that he doesn’t require the same kind of longterm work as Zu (and I’m not even sure that’s the main reason KG was around in the first place).  

    Further, I do not share your admiration of the other teams you cite.   Phily is a mismatched roster full of 5s, a product of a regime (since fired, notably) that came out of wall street and viewed contracts as ‘assets’ that could be easily traded– well, it may still happen I suppose but it hasn’t happened yet.  By contrast, it’s easy to see the future of at least 4 of our 5 positions and 5 of 5 if everything breaks just right.  If Philly moves those guys and creates the perfect roster, I absolutely will admit I was wrong about this, but at present, I like our roster better.

    I understand the Lou argument and I wouldnt be shocked if he gets moved around the ASB (can you imagine him on SA?), but I’d feel better about it if I felt DAR was clearly ready – or even ALMOST ready – to take on more 4th Q minutes.  imo, he just seems to get gassed in 4th quarters and then makes even more passing mistakes; & simply responding ‘he just needs more playing time to get used to it’ is reductive in my opinion (I’m not suggesting this is your argument, just one I read a lot). 

    Finally, I’ll avoid responding to the other poster’s ‘irrational sickness’ crack as it is emblematic of exactly the kind or pejorative response I dreaded and which has led to far more reading than posting on my part of late.  I love engaged debate about my favorite sports team; name calling… not so much.

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  19. LordMo 
    Just for keeping it real,.. Not all Star players were known ‘out the gate’.
    I would call your belief,. the exception,..Not the Rule.

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  20. lil pau

    Who’s Name Calling?????  My IRRATIONAL SICKNESS “Crack” is a comment regarding MY OWN SICKNESS over these deals……….It seems abundantly clear in the post. I don’t see where you are coming from—there is nothing adversarial about my agreeing with rr’s post.  

    But go ahead and “avoid responding” to what I wrote.  Wouldn’t want you to have to actually defend your reasoning or anything.  

    Further, I fail to see any irony in bemoaning bad deals while wanting to trade valuable pieces that could net us more assets and are not getting us anywhere anyways. If we could trade a guy on a bad deal and net assets, I’d be all for that as well.  I don’t see any “vague irony” here.  

    Just because Nick and Lou currently represent good value based on what they are currently being paid doesn’t mean that they are somehow untouchable.  They are playing well and are not affecting our big picture team direction any. Why keep a player just because his contract is a good deal when you have the 3rd most losses in the league?? Its like a homeless person hoarding antiques and never selling them because they might be worth something.  

    I don’t get the feeling people in the forum are bashing MOZGOV as much as DENG. Not me or the national pundits.  I have said that Mozgov being a big, AT LEAST fills a need albeit a possibly diminishing one and therefore was a more palatable signing.  Deng though……….not so much……in fact not at all.   

    But go ahead and “avoid responding” to the Deng signing.  I know it sounds good but this whole “Mozgov was signed because he is Russian and therefore some particularly Tailor Made Mentor Option for Zubac just because they are both Slavic” is completely overstated. The notion that Mozgov was somehow hand chosen to be able to help develop Zubac is a stretch at the very least.  If this FO pays that much to in in developing  2nd Round Picks that the GM had never even heard of when he drafted him, then its worse than ANYONE imagined.  Even if true, it goes to my point (that you “avoid responding to”) that questions how many Mentors one team needs when the Mentors are taking up the bulk of the Salary Cap??  

    The FUTURE CBA btw is not going to bump salaries so high that these deals will somehow be insignificant in the future AT ANY TIME.  The biggest single bump was from the NEW TV deal and they don’t come along every year.  The recent Cap jump was the most extreme in history. These deals are being bemoaned because they were CRAPPY signings and misuse of the available money the team had.  The Deng signing in particular is probably the worst contract signed this off season.  I invite you to present a worse overall signing other than perhaps Noah.   

    The point is we can’t afford to have ANY missteps and wasted signings.  We can’t just say, “Well its not that bad.” when it IS that bad.  When you are last place, you can’t keep making bad decisions.  It just compounds our low standing talent wise and crushes our flexibility going forward.  

    I agree with you that there will be detractors regardless of the direction the team takes and hindsighters as well.  I myself was in a wait and see mode hoping the FO and coaches knew something we didn’t when they signed Deng and Mozgov.  It appears there is no secret knowledge they relied upon.  So now the deals appear crippling.  And if we lose 2 more high draft picks, ALL THE MORE CRIPPLING.   

    If you REALLY believe your “rebuttal” that the $136 Million for Mozgov and Deng over the next 3 years after this one are good signings or are not negative going forward, you sir, are in the minority and I invite you to further defend your position. rr for example preferred Biyombo for the same money Mozgov got and based solely on age, if not recent performance, looking back I would say he was right.    

    The fact you are even talking about 7 footers and wishing we had Whiteside shows you somehow still value what is clearly being phased out of the modern game like it or not.    

    The only deal for a 5 worse than Mozgov’s is Ezeli’s and perhaps tied with Mahinmi’s.   Did the team need some Vets?  Sure.  Did the team need to pay $32 Million or ROUGHLY A THIRD to a QUARTER of the entire Salary Cap over 4 years for merely 2 such Vets??? If the answer is YES, then our FO is worse than I thought.

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  21. In a cap driven league paying $34 million per year for
    players that contribute little on the floor is a problem.Mozgov/Deng are producing career low stats —
    and this is the first of their four year deals.They take up 36% ($34M/$94M) of the current
    cap.In their last year under contract, the
    2019/20 season they will still take up 33% ($36M/$109M).
    Teams get into big trouble by overpaying for
    mediocrity.  For whatever reason Jim and
    Mitch did that with Mozgov/Deng.   Excusing this massive mistake by saying that
    was the going rate is simply not true. 
    The cap went up $22 million last summer. 
    It will go up much less this summer, $8 million.  It would have been more prudent to stay on
    the sidelines and let other teams cap themselves out and do a little shopping
    this summer (2017) and maybe more in the summer of 2018.  Less dollars chasing more players sounds like
    a buyers’ market to me.

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  22. The last sentence, in the above post, is a little awkward.  I was trying to say that the Lakers would have cash to spend, when most other teams don’t, would create a buyers market for them.

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  23. This is a great podcast with lots of thoughts to digest.  I like Pete’s suggestion that the Lakers starters be all young players after the All-Star break.  What better way to start to decide who to keep and what combinations work?  The record will not matter by then since they are not a playoff bound team.  The worst that might happen is a better chance to keep their pick.
    It is time for the Buss kids to bow out and turn the operation of the franchise over to someone with a real vision for the team.  Sometimes conflict can be used to spark creativity.  That is not happening here.

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  24. KevTheBold 
    True Kev and I believe this current crop will have some All-Star years but Kev we need a “SuperStar” type player to become the “Alpha Dog” and leader of the pack. That is my point none of these guys are that guy. Because if they were they would throwing a fit getting benched in the 4th and challenging Luke about his goofy rotations and what not. They would have beaten a hapless Mavs team darn near by themselves and challenge their teammates when their effort was lacking. Attitude reflects leadership and the it’s ok free and easy atmosphere that pervades this team is not acceptable. I look at that bench and nobody has the “Magic Game Face” or KB24’s “Fierce Face”. It is just smiles and dancing when we win or the disassociated “Guess we are going to lose again” demeanor.

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  25. lil pau

    Thanks for the reply and the compliments. I like your posts as well. 

    76ers: I don’t feel “admiration” for them, but they do have Embiid and Simmons, and I think at this point that most non-Lakers fans see them as being in better shape than the Lakers are. They actually have a better record than the Lakers do (they are 16-27). My point, however, was that the 76ers have a pretty good defense without any traditional veteran presence. One of the things that we hear about young players is that they need time to learn about the intricacies of NBA defensive rotations, etc. and that is one reason you want guys like Mozgov and Deng around. The counter I suppose would be that the Lakers are learning a new system whereas Brett Brown has been in Philly for three years. But OTOH the 76ers were 13th in D playing Noel a lot, dropped to 26th playing Okafor a lot, and now, with Embiid and Noel, are in the top 10. The Lakers meanwhile are 30th, so I am not seeing how the mentoring/culture angle is helping with the D and that is one area where I think it should be helping.   
    Mentors: When KG retired, Towns’ dad was quoted as saying that working with KG was one of the best things that had happened to his son, and Towns was effusive in his praise of KG as well. When the deal was signed, I saw articles saying that Minnesota wanted KG to work with Towns. But even if KG had no value to Towns, the point I was making is that it was a cheap, one-year deal. If Mozgov had signed here for 1/10 you would be hearing much less negative talk about his contract. I just don’t see “mentoring” as something to make a huge financial investment in in the context of a capped league. If you are going to 136M on guys over four years, they should be helping you on the floor through their own efforts. Also, like Clay B., I am skeptical about the Mozgov/Zubac connection. Mozgov is a Russian; Zubac is from Bosnia-Herzegovinia. They may be buddies and Zubac may be learning a lot from Mozgov, but, well, it had better be a lot for 16M a year. 
    Future deals for Centers/Cap: You may be right, but I think it is equally likely that the opposite will happen. Since the long-term deals given to 5s are not going well, we may see more Ezeli/Nene/JaVale McGee type-deals for bigs moving forward. 
    Contention Timeline: Maybe, but IMO the Lakers should not be making plans based on Golden State’s window. Play the long game and worry about the other contenders when you actually get near the top of the mountain.

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  26. Vasheed new rr

    Well, the FO shouldn’t be doing anything based on fan and media criticism. They should be doing what they think is best for the team. As I have said many times, people defending the FO often seem to do it by disempowering them, and you seem to be saying here that they HAD TO spend some money since they had been “lambasted” for short deals in the past. And that type of argument is a type that I cannot get behind. Yes, there would have been some blowback if they had not spent big money in FA. But there is always going to be blowback on every decision, especially when you are losing. The Lakers signed Deng and Mozgov because they wanted to. 
    As to the idea that young guys, unless they are stars, develop better with veterans around, sure, maybe. But the questions are again who those veterans are. how they fit, and how much they cost.

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  27. Excellent posts, thoughtful discussion & intelligent arguments from everyone here – in short: great reading for Laker fans!  Thanks to all –

    Agree: play the young fellas as much as possible from here on out-

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  28. Interesting ESPN article: How far away are the Lakers from winning?  In a word: Far

    http://www.espn.com/nba/insider/story/_/id/18541224/how-far-los-angeles-lakers-winning-nba i

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  29. rr & mattal,

    I read your posts last night but wanted to digest…. found myself muttering about the merits of Mozgov’s deal at 230 am, muttering to myself until my wife told me to shut the hell up.

    I think your arguments are strong and I am coming around to the majority opinion here, but I am still left with a couple of questions or unresolved issues:

    let’s say you’re right and deng and, to a lesser but still significant degree, TM are not just mistakes but bad mistakes.  how can it be possible that the team can draft so well but make these kinds of mistakes in FA?  I’ve heard some suggest these acts may be separated – Ryan West vs. Buss/Mitch – but I have heard Mitch speak publicly and semi-privately on this matter many times and I am convinced this isn’t the case and that, instead, decisions are made by consensus.  so then, WTF?  wouldn’t it be easier to accurately predict the next 4 years of Deng’s career than of, say, Nance’s or DAR’s?  

    team defense/DRTG: I’m going to recuse myself from this one on the grounds of lack of expertise.  thousands of games later, I still am not certain where i stand on what is surely the most basic question about defense: personnel vs. scheme.  I will say this: I attend a bunch of games (about half) and one thing one sees live that doesn’t always appear on TV is how ‘active’ this team is defensively (I’m talking the 2nd and ‘finishing’ units, not the starters), at least most of the time.  this does not seem like a lazy team to me (although I do have concerns about JR and JC at least sometimes), but the lakers switch constantly and seem often to find themselves in unthinkably bad positions.  At some point, this is going to be on Luke, if it’s not already.  The fact that the artist formerly known as swaggy is arguably our most committed on-ball defender is some kind of cosmic joke; that said, the player who impresses me most going forward is Ingram (and of course LNJ as well).  In terms of team concept/execution, we are indeed horrible and I understand RR’s reference to Phila in this respect– their mobile bigs help, of course, but it’s unclear to me still why we are as bad as we are.  i put a lot of the blame over the last couple of years on kobe, who would get blown by on the perimeter and cause the backline to scramble, but things look more or less unchanged since then and are possibly even worse.  this is an further indictment against Deng, I admit, assuming what we see with him is what we’ll get and he’s not limited by injury.

    ***

    in terms of the roster, I accept the complaints but still struggle to imagine what could have been done better, other than I guess the argument implicitly  or otherwise made by RR and Mattal that the answer is nothing, to roll cap space forward.  let’s admit what that would look like, however– that would result in guys like wes johnson, perhaps, who are lousy, unwatchable, and teach the kids little.  that said, i do admit that when I go to staples, it’s not like i’m excited to see TM or LD light it up.

    Finally,  apologies to Clay.  I was sure the ‘sickness’ crack was directed at me– I take you at your word that you were talking about yourself, so I apologize for that– nothing worse than a false accusation.  & you are right, of course, that even my most spirited defense of the FO was more about Mozzy than Deng.  I still hope the Deng we are seeing is not him at his Laker best, but if it is, or close to it, then even at my most bullish it’s pretty hard to defend that one.  Obviously, he feels a big positional hole, so on those grounds, it’s where you might want to spend $, but I recognize that he looks pretty awful and, if one can’t get a player like Butler, there’s an argument for plugging the gap with a scrub and keeping the cash.  while I think I hold ‘locker room presence’ in higher regard than most here, of course there are limits.  (otoh, a one year contract locker room guy might not be taken seriously, assuming its not some maniac like KG).  [Special thanks to RR for the KG/KAT info, which I admit I had not heard before.]

    as a final thought…

    I want this team to get better with such passion and I’m willing to be patient to chase rings in 4 years rather than risk becoming a perennial competitor that can never win (like say, the hawks and likely the clippers).  I really like the kids and do think they are more likely to be great than to be average (esp BI but also DAR) and I remember how Mitch turned an expiring Kwame into Pau to bring a more or less immature team over the top. and imagine/fantasize about Mozzy’s deal in 2020 having the same value.   Finally, and probably most controversially, I look at the young teams others admire (Philly, Denver, even Minn) and still – despite everything – think there’s an argument to  be made that the Lakers’ future looks brighter (i am not including Utah or Bos, and I admit Minn is a stretch), but in terms of the central issue at hand, the value of TM and Deng… I don’t know… you guys have me pretty much convinced.  (sigh)

    /LP

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  30. Thanks to everyone on the board for insightful and civil discussion. FB&G; is a real refuge in our otherwise unpallatable online environment.

    All in all, I would have preferred if we had not overpayed for TM and LD and kept our cap flexibility, even if it meant another year of accepted losing. With that said, I understand the point about winning and losing cultures, and I can see the argument against purposeful tanking. But the lack of explicit direction and a concrete plan to resurrect the team has created the worst of all worlds: a team with questionable talent and a losing culture. I’d rather have a couple of ASG-caliber players and a losing culture, and let Luke go about changing the mentality.  

    Looks like Plaschke has been doing the same speculating we are.

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/lakers/la-sp-lakers-buss-plaschke-20170124-story.html

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  31. lil pau
    I don’t think there is much getting around that the LD and TM contracts are not good contracts.  Though I haven’t seen a credible argument made about other options.  No not spending anything was not a realistic option.  Other realistic options like Mahinmi or Biyombo have not significantly outplayed Mozgov, nor do they have more cap friendly deals.  Fact was if you wanted a center this year you paid.

    A couple of links:

    Deng: http://www.silverscreenandroll.com/2016/11/18/13684260/la-lakers-luol-deng-power-forward-small-forward-stats-analysis-video-highlights-julius-randle
    The gist of the story is that Deng is pretty much at this point in his career a PF where he could be a good defender, and stretch the floor instead of featuring his inability to explode to the rim.  So do you keep playing him at SF where he is inefficient or move him to PF where we have Randle and Nance?  This is a real issue the F.O. has to decide how to resolve.

    Mozgov: http://www.lakersnation.com/timofey-mozgov-and-the-lakers-center-struggles/2017/01/19/
    This article basically shows something that really stood out to me in an older thread where RR linked some stats.  The Lakers play better defensively with virtually anyone else at Center other than Mozgov.  But it is important to realize going into free agency the Lakers didn’t know Black would return or how ready a 19 year old Zu would be.  It is good news that those other guys seem to be working out better than expected.  With hindsight bias these things are more obvious.  That leaves the difficult question of what do you do with Mozgov?

    The Youth: http://www.latimes.com/sports/lakers/la-sp-lakers-buss-plaschke-20170124-story.html
    I’m reposting Peterson’s link to highlight one part, “The sorry truth is, they don’t need to tank to keep tanking. They need to keep playing these kids to learn which three or four of the six they will keep. http://www.latimes.com/topic/sports/basketball/brandon-ingram-PESPTF00545-topic.html and Julius Randle seem to be the only locks. The rest of this season will probably used for further evaluations.”
    I love our young guys each on an individual basis.  However, only some of them play good defense making playing some combinations unworkable.  By holding onto to our rookies yes that means we may discover the hidden gem.  On the flip side everyone will know who your failures are too. It is popular opinion to hold onto the youths at all costs.  But, I don’t think that the wisest move.  It is my opinion the F.O. should start considering roster construction as things are now, and who fits and who doesn’t to start decide who is worth spending more time developing and who’s potential should be trade for assets that fit.

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  32. lil pau BTW, in what seems an eternity ago.  I used to argue that the Lakers wasted too much money on Mozgov.  The board posters argued with me on this and pointed out that cheaper guys like Ezeli had serious issues (injury).  Contracts given out otherwise were quite comparable.  It was a good argument which is why I defend it now.

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  33. _DPeterson_
    Interesting article,.. 
    The only opinion I find exception with, is his belief that Randle and Ingram are a lock for our future.
    Imo, the only player that fits that category right now, is Ingram.
    Everyone else has much to prove.

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  34. It makes sense….way too much sense to prioritize player development at this stage, but to do so would be an admission of failure (incompetence?) by the front office. This is the main reason the transition to player development has not happened yet, and the main reason I would prefer Jimbo gone now as opposed to the end of the season.
    Before the season started, Luke said all the right things about prioritizing player development over wins, but when Lou and Nick became starters coupled with the Mosgov and Deng acquisitions, it was clear that winning was a high, if not the top, priority. Brian Shaw said in preseason that the number one goal for this season was to improve enough to attract the top free agents next summer. Thus far, neither goal is being achieved.
    There is still time to achieve one of those goals, but will Jimbo let it happen? Prioritizing player development now also increases the odds of keeping our pick…..but is Jimbo still desperately prioritizing wins (AKA keeping his job) over what is best for the Lakers? The answer is Yes, and always has been.

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  35. mattal This would have been a better story if they had more statistics to work with.  For example, who are the comps for Randle?  You need a big, athletic, PF who broke his leg in a very freak injury his rookie season.  Kupchak commented on how long it has taken Randle to recover emotionally from that injury.  We are just beginning to see how much Randle is willing to jump off that leg.  The same basic argument applies to Russell.  How many 19 year olds have been given the keys to a storied franchise and told to run the offense?  He is now on coach #2 and having to wash out last year’s tank out of his system.  How good would he be if he just played the 2 guard and focused on catching and shooting which he does very well.  Anyway the statistical analyses are interesting but the analysts are still figuring out what stats to use and how to apply them.

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  36. lil pau

    Nice post. Thanks for that. Addressing your points and one of Vasheed’s: 
    Personnel and scheme: I am always a roster guy, but some sabermetric types and others believe that coaching shows up more on D. As a data point, Minnesota under Thibodeau has now crept up to 23rd in DRTG as per Bask Ref and are starting to catch a few breaks in close games. When Luke was hired, I expected/hoped that better coaching and Kobe’s departure would move the Lakers up a few spots in that metric. To date, it hasn’t happened. The Lakers are still dead last and are actually giving up almost one more point per 100 possessions than they were under Scott. The offense has improved under Luke; the Lakers are 20th as per Bask Ref. They were 29th last year and are scoring almost five points more 100 poss. under Luke than they were last year under Byron. 
    Deng, Mozgov and alternatives: Biyombo is a very limited player on O, and he is a poor fit on Orlando, as many observers have commented, and this was said when they signed him. As a very low-usage guy who is mobile, has pretty good shot-blocking numbers (much better than Mozgov over his career) and is still in his mid-20s (although some people think his listed age my be false) , I think he would have been a better fit here than Mozgov, and said so then and still believe it now. As of today, even having a bad year, Biyombo’s BLK rate is 4.4. Mozgov’s is at 1.2. If the FO was going to spend big $ on a 5, I would rather have that skillset/age than a guy who might mentor Zubac. That said, if

    a) Ingram and Zubac have very strong development arcs. 
    b) They specifically credit Deng and Mozgov as mentors.
    and
    c) The deals do not set up a roadblock to make a later acquisition and/or provide salary ballast to help execute a big trade

    You can make the case that the deals worked out. 
    As to Deng, I was not aware of the discrepancy between his SF/PF metrics until after the deal was made. Once I learned that, I thought and think that giving 4/72 to Deng with Nance and Randle on the team and with both being extension-eligible during the window of Deng’s deal was a very questionable allocation of resources.

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  37. Vasheed lil pau

    True enough, but even so, Ezeli is making 7.4M a year and his deal is up at the end of 2017-18. So, yes, if the Lakers had signed Ezeli, there would be a lot of complaints. But they would have more cap space this summer and he would be an expiring deal. Also, Nene signed for 1/2.9 in Houston and Bass signed for 1/3 with the Clippers. 
    To be clear, Mozgov is not a bad player and seems like a nice guy. But I am not seeing the return that I think the Lakers should be getting for 4/64. YMMV.

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  38. Vasheed, those links are really to the point… and damning….

    LP

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  39. lil pau

    All good brother.  We all come at things from different perspectives and bring our own emotions along with our posts.  Honestly, we are all SICK for agonizing over a Basketball Team as we do.  Envisioning your poor wife having hear you muttering Mozgov every other word as you fell to sleep is really all of us looking in the mirror at how crazy we can get over our team.  You are a true fan like the rest of us.  I feel bad for your wife as I can only assume she will be hearing “DENG” soon and often enough!!!  ; )   It IS a funny scenario tho…….

    Regarding your going often to games, I recommend re-watching them when you can (again your poor wife) from your DVR.  Its so interesting what you see and pick up on in person versus from the TV.  Even Luke often says in post game interviews when asked about specific players, “Well…..I don’t know.  We’ll have to watch the tape and see what we can see.”  I re-watched a handful of games I got to attend last season and it was amazing what you DON’T see in person.  Of course, I am always looking around at the whole spectacle when I’m at Staples but the TV view that allows you to see the whole court easily is very telling.  I was fortunate to have really close seats for my games but you don’t see the game unfold as much up close. Score 1 for the nosebleeds!!! 

    Lastly on TM and LD, I was willing to give them time to start to contribute before judging the signings too harshly.  When we signed them, I was NOT overwhelmed with joy but I reasoned that I don’t know everything that the FO knows and that there must be something I’m missing.  I after all, am just a fan and not a FO professional.   

    Now that I have seen what we all have seen, I am leveling my harshest criticism at these signings and for me, its the FO’s true “JUMP THE SHARK” moment.  Enough already!!!!! I’m a positive, wait and see how it plays out type of person for the most part.  Its just now that we have seen what lack of real impact these guys really provide on the court, coupled with their share of the salary cap, its hard to remain positive and impossible to defend the signings.  

    I’m hoping for some roster tweaking before the deadline.  No moves would be a disappointment IMO.  

    Keep it real brother!!  

    Go Lakers!!!!

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  40. Coach Walton is in the same untenable position as his last
    two predecessors: to tank or not to tank.This year’s team is as flawed and poorly constructed as the teams under Dantoni
    and Scott.Leaving the organization with
    the only sane objective for the season: to retain that top draft pick.

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  41. new rr  lil pau

    For me, seeing how LITTLE the team has any interest in passing into the Low Post or doing much of anything to initiate offense with our Centers, it only makes Biyombo appear MORE appealing.  

    When Mozgov DOES post, he is regularly ignored.  Same with Zubac.  Its as if its like, “Ok you’re the Center.  You play defense and get rebounds.  If you score on accident, that’s cool but we aren’t running any plays for you we don’t care how effective you are!! Lou, chuck another Three!!”

    I think that Zubac has more low post skill than any other player on our team yet when he plays, he mostly scores on busted plays or rebounds.  The young guys never pass to him.  

    All of this leads to me thinking a guy like Biyombo with his motor and highly limited offensive game would have been a much better system fit than Mozgov.  AND, he’s also 6 COUNT EM–SIX– years younger (or so) than Mozgov.  

    Biyombo is Rodmanesque in his lack of need for organized touches on Offense.  He would have thrived with our guards flat out ignoring him and just chucking perimeter bombs.  

    And he IS a poor fit in Orlando with Vucevic AND Ibaka………

    In summary, I agree with rr on Biyombo being a better option/fit for the Lakers even though he initially wasn’t producing in Orlando.

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  42. Chearn: glad to see you posting !!!!!   
    This will get better

    At some point      :  )

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  43. KevTheBold: So last time we spoke about this – you were “re-evaluating” DAR.  As per below, are you done with him in terms of being a Super Star?  I still think he “could” be a good player but as you know – I  never saw SuperStar potential.
    LilPau:   Are u still going to lots of games?   I salute you if you are.   These things are tough enough on screen.    I will let you continue with rr, Clay, and mattal, but I posted a while back on this claim that the FO has drafted so well.  In short – they have done decently, but lets just look at the three 1st rounders.    If anyone with a Fantasy Basketball cheat sheet was doing the drafting – the picks would been Randle, Okafor, and Ingram.     And as rr has pointed out, DAR was gaining on the consensus ranking on draft day, many would have drafted exactly the way the Lakers did.   This is not genius – it is just the fact that we had high picks.    And yes we did very good with the 2nd rounders – but they just do not move the needle.  So yes they same guys who did the drafting have done all the other stuff too. 
    LtMitchell:  “Jimbo gone now” – That my friend is a quest I have been on since the Fall of 2012.  
    D Peterson:   Yes – much more civil than all other boards.

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