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While at Las Vegas Summer League, we caught up with Laker coach Mike D’Antoni, who was taking in the Los Angeles Clippers/Atlanta Hawks game.

FORUM BLUE & GOLD: Coach D’Antoni, how did last year’s Laker season compare to all of the other years in your coaching career?

MIKE D’ANTONI: It is what it is. It’s fun, it’s exciting. We just had to deal with a lot of stuff that happened last year. But in the end, we ended the year with a positive note. We’re looking forward to this coming year.

FB&G: Did the “WE WANT PHIL” chants bother you? I know it’s tough to follow a man who has won 11 championship rings.

MDA: You can understand it. You don’t invite it. But it doesn’t bother you.

FB&G: Do you expect Kobe back by the start of the regular season?

MDA: Yeah, I hope so. If anybody can do it, he can do it.

FB&G: As far as Dwight goes, what was your first reaction when you heard about him going to Houston?

MDA: It wasn’t a real big surprise. He just had to make a decision what was best for him. He did it, we’ll move on and do the best we can do.

FB&G: Lastly, I know it’s July. A lot of people seem to be writing off the Lakers. Should we write them off?

MDA: I would never write Kobe Bryant off. Or Steve Nash. Or Pau Gasol. I can understand why they do but that’s okay. You don’t win a championship in July. And we’ll see what happens.

We’d like to thank D’Antoni for a few minutes of his time.

At first, we had this tweet from Daniel Buerge of Lakers Nation.

And then it was confirmed by Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles.

We all remember Jordan Farmar. He came into the league in 2006 with the Lakers as a late first-round pick. Farmar was a superb player off the bench in that surprising 2007-08 Laker team, averaging 9.1 points. He was also part of the Laker teams in 2009 and 2010 that won back-to-back championships. We also remember Farmar wanting to start for the Lakers but he was never able to get the position away from Derek Fisher.

Farmar would spend 2011 and 2012 with the old New Jersey Nets backing up Deron Williams. He played in Turkey last season.

With Farmar’s speed and fearlessness to drive into the hole, he seems perfect for the D’Antoni offense. Except he’s actually kind of a mismatch with the roster since it looks like the Lakers will play one side of the ball in slow-motion. Also, the Lakers need wing players; Farmar is certainly too short to play off the ball. With Steve Nash and Steve Blake on the roster, L.A. suddenly has a logjam in the point guard position.

I’m personally a big Farmar fan and I’m glad that he’s back in the league. While we’re still only in early July, what direction are the Lakers going? They get a third point guard, a speedy one at that, to go with the rest of the turtles on the roster? Huh?

The curious offseason of the Lakers continue.

Well, it seems that the Los Angeles Lakers finally signed a free agent. This had been talked about for a bit.

Per Marc Stein of ESPN…


And per Ramona Shelburne of ESPN L.A.


Mr. Kaman himself made it official.

Since the Lakers are all capped out, the mini-midlevel was the most the Lakers could offer ($3 million).

You may remember Kaman from his long tenure with the Los Angeles Clippers, where he spent eight years. You may also remember Kaman making the all-star team in the 2009-10 season when he averaged 18.5 points amd 9.3 rebounds per game. After the Clippers, he spent 2011-12 with the New Orleans Hornets and last year with the Dallas Mavericks.

Since the deal is only for one year, this won’t affect the Lakers’ cap space for the 2014 offseason. As far as Kaman’s fit with the Lakers? While Dwight Howard left, a big isn’t exactly a huge need for the lakers with Pau Gasol there. Kaman has a good offensive game around the post and a decent jumper. Here’s his shot distribution from last season.

Shotchart 1373314872218

If D’Antoni intends to start Kaman, I’ll be curious to see how he meshes Pau and Kaman together since both of them can play the post. But if Kaman is signed to back up Pau, which is what I hope he was signed for? That would actually be quite the steal. While the Lakers are getting the leftovers in the free agency bin, Kaman at the mini-midlevel is a very good signing. He still has plenty left in the tank and while Kaman isn’t the strongest defensively, he can still block a shot or two (averages 1.4 blocks his career).

Now let’s see who else the Lakers can get on board in what seems to be a transition year. Need a little wing help, guys.

*Data from NBA.Com stats

The Los Angeles Lakers are pulling out all the stops when it comes to keeping free agent center Dwight Howard. They even have the hashtag, #STAYD12, for this campaign.

The Lakers put up a banner at Staples Center. Then they highlighted Kobe Bryant’s quote about Dwight Howard. There were billboards for him (such as the one on Hollywood Blvd.). There was a photoshopped pic of the legendary Beverly Hills Hotel with Dwight Howard’s jersey on it. And then earlier today, there was this. It’s safe to say that there will be more of this to come.

What does FB&G think of this interesting courtship? Five of us each answer five questions about this.

Did it surprise you that the Lakers went on this route?

REY MORALDE: I am. This is unprecedented. The Lakers, while a very public sports franchise, usually have a quiet confidence in them when it comes to… negotiating with their own free agents. But then everything within the last season has been unprecedented itself with the excessive injuries and the Lakers being buried in the weight of their own expectations. Still, this is so weird to me.

ZEPHID: Absolutely not. At this point, it’s pretty clear that plans A through Y are to re-sign Dwight, and any edge they can get, I believe they will take. Whether it be the billboard, or any other crazy huge sign, the Lakers FO will put up anything that will serve as an attention grabber for people (especially Dwight). Perhaps some would want the Lakers to have an air of superiority when it comes to free agents, given the general expectation that all FA’s want to sign with the Lakers. However, I see no harm in making it clear (abundantly so) that the Lakers want Dwight back.

DAVE M.: Not at all although it would’ve been awesome if the BH hotel pic was not photoshopped. This isn’t about the purity of sports or shame or pandering or whatever some think it is. Wasn’t this franchise built on Showtime? As if management would actually not let their PR staff do the job they’re paid to do?

PHILLIP BARNETT: It did a bit. We’re not accustomed to the Lakers as an organization having to sell themselves to a particular player. With the roles reversed, it’s fascinating to see billboards in the city asking Howard to stay with the team despite the fact that it may seem like a calculated ploy to save face incase he leaves. As a fan, I appreciate the effort from the team as they’re, at the very least, making it seem like they’re doing everything they can to field a quality basketball team — but I am surprised that it had to come to this.

RYAN COLE: I am certainly surprised. All my life I’ve never really known the Lakers to be in a position where they seriously had to sell themselves, as well as the city of Los Angeles to a superstar. I must admit it was pretty strange to see the giant billboard riding Figueroa, but at this point, the priority of the franchise is to retain Dwight at all costs. If this is part of the plan, I like it, as opposed to some Laker fans.

Do you think the Lakers would’ve done this if their free agent was another player (ex. Chris Paul, Tim Duncan)?

REY: Nope. I don’t know of any other star that would want billboards, candies, and that kind of pampering from a team like that. I think if someone like CP3 and Duncan received that kind of treatment from the Lakers, they would be a little freaked out. I do understand this is necessary for someone like Dwight but it just doesn’t feel right coming from the 16-time champs. It’s like Friday night dinners at the Gilmores.

ZEPHID: I think so. It’s difficult to say because this type of tactic clearly plays to Dwight’s indecisive side, since I doubt someone as cutthroat as CP3 or as stoic as Duncan would be swayed by such a frivolous message. However, I have no doubt that if CP3 were a Laker, the FO would do anything and everything to keep him. If they felt a sign would help, I think they would have done it.

DAVE: Sure, depending on the star. You’ve got to tailor your approach. Dwight loves attention, you’ve got to play into making him feel wanted, and wanted by the right people. Personally, I’d put him in a room with Phil. He’s not going to be your coach but he could be a guy behind the curtain. Not that he’d want to stay behind the curtain. Phil likes attention, too. That brings up a whole other can of worms.

PHILLIP: I don’t think so. Howard is one of those guys who seems like he has a need to be needed. He’s shown before that he can be fickle in his decisions, and he can be leaning toward one team today, another tomorrow. If Howard wants to be wooed, the Lakers have to woo him. I don’t think this would have been necessary for other guys, however. Most superstars want to know that you’re going to pay them and build a quality team around them, for Howard, it’s a bit more complicated.

RYAN: I do not, but this is what comes with the territory in trying to retain a superstar like Dwight Howard. He needs to feel wanted not only by the Lakers, but by the city of Los Angeles. Dwight’s image has taken a huge hit in the public eye over the last year, so to assure him that he is wanted is the smartest thing to do.

How would you feel if Dwight Howard ended up leaving the Lakers?

REY: I wouldn’t feel too sad about it. The guy carried baggage from Orlando and it’s tough to be a fan of someone that acted so petulantly. However, I know what Dwight brings to the table when healthy and if he did leave, I would only think of all the what-if scenarios. What if he actually just agreed to be the roll man for the pick and roll? What if he just accepted his role as the #2 guy until Kobe Bryant retired?

ZEPHID: Resigned. As in accepting our fate, not as in re-sign (pet peeve). Without a doubt, Dwight leaving would be the end of the short-term Lakers’ championship window. No way a team with an aging Pau, Nash, and Kobe can compete for a title. But is it the end of the world? Certainly not, because the Laker machine will keep on churning no matter what happens. Some have openly talked about tanking to hit the 2014 lottery (shoutouts to @DrewGarrisonSBN and @brosales12 at SS&R), which in my mind isn’t the WORST idea, but I think it’s a tough one to swallow for those who value winning and effort. However, if Dwight does leave, I see the Lakers FO blowing up the roster, trading Pau and Nash for youth and hopefully picks, making the roster so shallow on talent that it wouldn’t have to tank to get a high lottery pick. Given everyone’s general excitement for the 2014 draft and the ability to go after a big time free agent (like LeBron or Melo), this would be the easiest way to rebuild quickly. However, the only flaw in this plan is it effectively cuts off Kobe’s last chance to get a championship, and it’s difficult to see the Lakers FO abandoning that possibility after all Kobe has done for the team.

DAVE: I’d be disappointed but I’m not sure it’s the end of the world. If anything the past year should show us that. The team needs a system and a direction they can all buy into. Plus overall health. I’m not sure there’s any single element more important than that. Mitch has been finding ways to field teams through challenging circumstances for a few years now. Regardless of the cap, I don’t see him throwing up a white flag and tanking a season. Same goes for Kobe, naturally.

PHILLIP: Conflicted. During his short tenure in Los Angeles, Howard has never felt like a member of the Lakers to me. While I understand that these sort of things typically take time with new members of the organization, it hadn’t taken a full season for me to buy into other free agent pick-ups or guys brought in via trade. Pau immediately felt like a Laker when he was brought in. Same with Ron, Steve Blake and, to an lesser extent, Nash. Howard had this summer hanging over the season like a rain cloud and the Forum Blue and Gold he wore seemed akin to a mirage.

RYAN: From a basketball standpoint, I’d feel sorry for the Lakers next season. Dwight leaving would certainly put the stamp on a lost season, especially with the uncertainty of Kobe’s return date. From a personal standpoint, I’d be understanding of Dwight’s decision and have no ill feelings against him. He has the right to leave being that he is a free agent. He’s not entitled to the Lakers, and should not feel as if he is. The city of Los Angeles is not for everyone, as well as the pressures that come with having to perform in a Laker uniform.

How would you feel if Dwight ended up re-signing?

REY: Hooray, I guess. Again, I would still have my reservations because Dwight can be so wishy-washy. Even if he signed that full five-year max deal, I would wonder how long before he would become unhappy again. But I do think Dwight is a guy that can keep the Lakers on top even if most of the team is approaching Methuselah’s age; at his peak, he can defensively dominate a game.

ZEPHID: Curious. Dwight is definitely the big piece, but a team of Dwight, an aging Pau, Nash, and Kobe is still only an outside shot at winning a championship. It would be after this coming season, in Summer 2014, that things get interesting, as only Nash and Howard (should he re-sign) would be under contract as of now, leaving plenty of cap space to pursue the aforementioned superstars. Without a superstar to flank Howard, the Lakers would then become a lesser version of the 2009 Orlando Magic, which would be a surefire way to tread water but never attain a championship. So pretty much, regardless of what Dwight does, it will be Summer 2014 that will shape the destiny of the Lakers in the years to come.

DAVE: I would be good with it but I also want him to be good with the coach because I don’t think that position changes this year.

PHILLIP: On the flip side to my previous answer, I know bringing Howard back would be in the best interest of the team in terms of on the court play. What he does on either side of the floor simply won’t be replaced by any other (available) person in the NBA, and that’s a tough pill to swallow considering Kobe’s championship window, which is closing at an alarming rate. I wouldn’t be jumping for joy with Howard coming back, but it would give me peace of mind that at least part of Mitch and Jim’s plan for the future is in place.

RYAN: I think Howard re-signing ensures that the Lakers will have a franchise player moving forward, so in that aspect I’d be happy for the franchise. Howard is by far the best center in basketball and there are so many things that Dwight does on the basketball court that simply can’t be replicated, so it’s obvious why the Lakers are taking such measures to convince him to stay. Personally, I’m not the guy that’s going to go running through the streets leaping for joy if he stays, but I’ll be content with knowing that the future of the Lakers is in tact.

In one word, what do you think of the #StayD12 campaign overall?

REY: Tacky.

ZEPHID: Fluffy.

DAVE: Searching.

PHILLIP: Bizarre.

RYAN: Brilliant.

Well, here’s some news on the Lakers front. Here’s Mike Trudell of and Time Warner Sportsnet.

Jodie Meeks came to the Lakers last season to help out with the three-point shooting. He shot a decent .357 from behind the arc (122 out of 342). Meeks also averaged 7.9 points mostly off the bench last season in 78 games. But then he injured his ankle in Game 1 of their first round series against the San Antonio Spurs.

At times, Meeks had phenomenal shooting games; he scored 24 points (9 of 14 shooting) in a December win against Washington and had 21 points (7 of 8 from behind the arc) in a November win over Denver. So he can definitely be a dangerous shooter for the Lakers. We just wish he’d control himself a little when he drives to the hoop. Meeks is also, while not the best, a willing defender.

At $1,550,000, Meeks is actually a bargain for the Lakers. With his quick shooting release, the defense still has to watch out for him. Meeks can definitely make a defense pay but while shooting over 35 percent is decent, he is capable of shooting better than that (career-high .397 percent in 2010-11 for Philly). This is a good move by the Lakers and for a team that wants to keep Dwight Howard, the Lakers are going to need as many shooters as they can get.

In the meantime, depending on the circumstances, Jodie Meeks will probably start for Kobe Bryant if #24 isn’t back by the start of the regular season.

What else is there to say?

The Laker season has come to a merciful end after the Spurs put the brooms on them, 103-82. It goes without saying how disappointing this season has been; it’s definitely the most disappointing Laker season in my lifetime in terms of what was expected out of them.

As for the game itself, what did you expect? It was a bloodbath from the start. It was surprising enough that the Lakers were only down six after one and that it took more than 15 minutes of game time for the Spurs to be up by double digits. Then in the third quarter, Dwight Howard got ejected after getting his second technical. Even in losing, the Lakers are spectacular; they go down in flames. They couldn’t take care of the ball (21 turnovers) and the Spurs made very few mistakes (eight giveaways). After Dwight’s ejection, it pretty much looked like Pau Gasol and a D-League team. At least, they had they D-League MVP (Andrew Goudelock) in that squad?

We expected a championship trophy at the end of this campaign but what we got was a rash of injuries, a coaching change that didn’t result to most people’s liking, philosophical clashes between coach and player, and (sometimes) inexplicable losses to bad teams. Sure, the regular season ended with a flourish but luck just wasn’t on the Lakers side as we all know what happened to #24. It was like we all thought we were going to see the cast from Saved By The Bell but instead we got The New Class. Sure, Mr. Belding was still there but it really wasn’t the same and it turned out to be terrible.

Oh, yeah. Hi, Kobe. Nice to see you in the building. Also, hi, T-Mac. How does it feel to be in the second round?

We can all point to a lot of what ifs but the fact of the matter is that THIS is what happened. I’m sure we have a lot of questions in our minds. What if Mike D’Antoni came in from the start? What if Dwight Howard was healthy from the start? What if Steve Nash never got hurt? What if Pau Gasol never got hurt? What if Kobe Bryant played less minutes?

And that’s the theme coming into the summertime: it’s questionable. We’ll have weeks and months to dissect what the Lakers will do in the offseason. Will Dwight Howard stay? How healthy will Kobe Bryant be? Will Steve Nash retire? Will Pau Gasol be traded? Will someone get the amnesty clause? Even the coaching situation will have some questions.

This will be a long, long summer. Mitch Kupchak has a lot of work to do.

Thanks for reading, everybody. I’m sure the other guys here at FB&G can agree with me that it had been quite… an interesting season writing here.

Well, maybe not just a little.

But the San Antonio Spurs beat the Los Angeles Lakers, 102-91, to take a 2-0 series lead in this best-of-seven.

It seemed like the disparity of talent showed in this game. It’s not like the Lakers played bad overall but you can see how much better the Spurs are. The Spurs were able to get a basket when they needed to and have a lot more firepower than this depleted Laker team. What’s even worse? Steve Blake (16 points), who had been basically carrying the Lakers in the past week or two, injured his hamstring late in the game. Yes, because what the Lakers need are more injuries.

On the positive side, it was nice to see Jordan Hill back on the court. Did Mike D’Antoni bring him in too late? Perhaps. But the guy just got back from an injury so I don’t blame Coach Mike D’Antoni taking it easy on him. It was also good to see Andrew Goudelock get some minutes and he probably should’ve been used earlier considering how the backcourt was so hobbled.

Also, this was the most energized Dwight Howard had looked this season. He was quick to rotate defensively and made some athletic putback dunks and rejections. Dwight had 16 points, nine rebounds, and four blocks but foul trouble limited his minutes.

It hurt to see Steve Nash out there. The 39-year-old looked more like he’s 89 years old out there and he was laboring. If anything, he seemed to hurt the team more by being out there but it took a lot of guts for him to get on the court. You gotta admire that.

It also wouldn’t hurt for them to get on the post more. They have Dwight and Pau Gasol (13 points, nine rebounds). The Lakers should use them more often. It was nice to see the 2-4-5 alley-oop play even without Kobe and I wonder if they should use that more often.

As for the Spurs, Tony Parker persevered through Steve Blake’s tough D and ended with 28 points. We knew he wasn’t going to be kept down for long. Tim Duncan was his usual brilliance with 16 points. Kawhi Leonard got it going for San Antonio with 16 points of his own. And Manu Ginobili with his herky-jerky movements and pull-up threes poured in 13 points, five rebounds, and seven assists. Even Matt Bonner put in 10 points (the Red Rocket, Red Mamba, Red Rooster, whatever). Just too much firepower. When the Spurs made runs, the Lakers simply couldn’t counter.

I don’t have much to say at this point. They’ll be at the comforts of their own home on Friday and we know what the Lakers’ advantages are. So they should go to that more and often. But if Steve Blake isn’t going to play, who will fill in for him? Heck, who will be their third scorer?!

All year long, the Lakers haven’t belonged in a professional basketball league. They really should be in a hospital ward.

Game 3 will be on Friday. Let’s hope we get some good news out of Blake’s injury.

And lastly, I would’ve loved to see Kobe Bryant live-tweet the game. But instead, he probably ended up watching Pitch Perfect for the tenth time. I wouldn’t blame him. That’s way better than watching Game 2.

This wasn’t exactly fun for the Lakers fans. After a triumphant win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday, the Lakers lose control of their destiny once again as they lose to their crosstown rivals, the Clippers, 109-95.

The Lakers never recovered after the Clips boosted the lead to 13 early in the second half. From then on, the Lakers tried to play catch-up, and with tired legs against an uptempo team, there was little chance of the Lakers overcoming the younger Clippers.

With Steve Nash, Metta World Peace, and Jordan Hill (of course) all out, Coach Mike D’Antoni opted to use only seven guys in the rotation. I’m not sure if I agree with that, especially with the playoffs coming near. If the Lakers do make the postseason, they’re probably only going to play without legs because they would’ve fallen off by then.

In the first quarter, the Lakers played some good defense, making some sound defensive rotations and making the Clips take some difficult shots. But after that, it all disappeared and the Clippers started to run amok at Staples Center. Kobe played facilitator (10 assists) for most of the game but never got going with his shooting, finishing 6 of 19 (going 12 of 14 from the line gave him 25 total points). Dwight Howard played a decent game, going for 25 points and four blocks. However, his rebounding was nonexistent as he finished with four boards. Pau Gasol flirted with a triple-double, going for 12 points, 13 rebounds, and eight assists. Earl Clark started off strong and finished with 11 points.

Where the Clippers killed the Lakers was rebounding. The Clips had 50 compared to the Lakers’ 36. It must have been real frustrating for the Laker fans to see the Clips hit the boards as the Lakers, on some possessions, were just standing around. Not ideal.

It didn’t help that the Clippers were making some tough shots and the Lakers were missing some wide open ones. Kobe didn’t have it going. Steve Blake missed some open corner threes. Earl Clark missed some open ones, too, after a fast start. And then you had Chris Paul making floaters, Caron Butler making buzzer-beating shots, and even Blake Griffin making three-pointers. Just a bad combination for the Lakers.

Congrats to the Clippers for winning their first Pacific Division title and sweeping the Lakers for the first time ever. As for the Lakers, they’re going to be fighting for that playoff spot once again. With this loss, they have fallen to 40-37, the same record as the Jazz. However, the Jazz have the tiebreaker so, as of now, the Lakers are on the outside looking in.

The Lakers have five games left. They may have to run the table to make the postseason. So each game from here on out, they’re going to have to go in with clear eyes and full hearts.

Just hope they still have enough on their legs, Coach D’Antoni.