Archives For Uncategorized

The injury bug still hasn’t left the Lakers organization. Following consecutive seasons that saw the Lakers battle myriad injuries to nearly every rotation player, this season has now seen it’s first major injury of the year. Nick Young has a torn ligament in his shooting thumb, according to ESPN’s Arash Markazi.

Lakers guard Nick Young suffered a complete tear of the radial collateral ligament in his right thumb during practice and could be sidelined for the start of the regular season.
Young’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, told ESPN.com he expects the injury to sideline the veteran for six to eight weeks.

According to the report, the injury came during Thursday’s practice when Young was defending Kobe Bryant and jammed it trying to swipe the ball from Bryant.

The news is troubling for the Lakers on several levels. Young is coming off the most productive season of his career and was expected to fill a similar role from last season as a scorer off the bench.

While Young’s primary role may not change for the upcoming season, the offensive philosophy will change dramatically. Moving from Mike D’Antoni’s more free wheeling, run-and-gun style, Byron Scott is bringing a version of Eddie Jordan’s Princeton Offense. While the principals of the Princeton aren’t terribly complex, you want guys to find a rhythm on the court at this time of year because of the read-and-react nature of the offense.

Young’s injury also has implications outside of his health to begin the season. Wayne Ellington was the most recent Laker to be signed, and his ability to shoot from three should allow him to see the floor to eat some of Young’s minutes. There’s also the case of rookie Jordan Clarkson, who could be in a prime position to earn some minutes early in the season playing as an off-guard, especially with the timetable for Xavier Henry to return still a bit up in the air.

There’s also the question of what the Lakers will do with their final roster spot. The team currently has 14 men signed on for the season, and can potentially add another before the start of the season. The team’s training camp invitees include a plethora of guards and wings, and the Lakers could make a need-based move instead of a talent-based move to make up for the absence of Young — and Henry — to start the season.

There have been a lot of good things said about Ronnie Price since camp has started, but the Lakers may need a bigger guard who can defend opposing wings.

Lastly, this hurts because Young was going to be the main guy who would help eat some of Kobe’s minutes. This team is a bit better off in this department than in seasons pre-dating the D’Antoni and Mike Brown eras, but losing a guy like young hurts Scott’s ability to be creative with lineups to cut back on Bryant’s.

The positive is that, should Young only miss the eight weeks of expected recovery time, the team will be without his services for only a month, and will have to watch him play into game shape for another couple of weeks.

Scott is going to see what the bench unit is made of without its primary scorer very early on, and should only help the rest of the unit once a guy who can create his own shot is brought back with to the group. While this isn’t the greatest news to receive this early in the season, it’s not necessarily something that will make or break this Lakers season. Let’s just hope Young has a speedy recovery.

Another Laker is staying with the team. Here is Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports with the report.

My reaction? That’s a lot of money. Now I will never criticize players for getting as much paper as they can but this seems like a bunch of cash.

Maybe we can hope for increased production, considering the Lakers really don’t have any bigs beyond Robert Sacre and rookie Julius Randle. Hill averaged 9.7 points and 7.4 rebounds in under 21 minutes per game, all career-bests. While we love Hill’s motor, he tends to run out of gas pretty quickly since he doesn’t seem to pace himself very well.

Nevertheless, maybe he’ll learn to pace himself on an increased role. There were times where he looked absolutely brilliant, having a few 20-15 games under his belt last season. But he also got inconsistent playing time last season with Mike D’Antoni. Maybe he’ll get a lot of PT under the new coach, who we STILL don’t know as of this writing.

But, hey, we’re getting some semblance of a team now. Good for Jordan Hill on securing a job and getting that pay raise.

The old saying goes, no news is good news…

But does that apply to the Lakers?

On Wednesday the two coaches most in demand to fill vacant jobs were snatched up as Stan Van Gundy signed on to be the Pistons’ Doc Rivers (SVG will get control of basketball operations along with his coaching title) while Steve Kerr spurned the Knicks to coach the Warriors. In the Lakers’ shotgun approach to searching for a coach to replace Mike D’Antoni, both Kerr and Van Gundy were rumored to be on the long list of interested targets. Now both are gone.

Meanwhile, in El Segundo, all is quiet on the western front.

Since an initial report of the intent to seek permission to speak to Tom Thibodeau and the aforementioned leaks of multiple candidates who would interest the Lakers, there has been no word of the team moving forward with scheduling interviews or even putting out feelers to gauge interest in their sideline vacancy. And, as far as what is public information, that request to Bulls has not yet been made.

The draft lottery is scheduled for Tuesday, May 20th. It will be that date that the Lakers will learn whether they luck out by jumping into the top 3, stand pat at 6, or fall to one of the 7 through 9 slots. And, I imagine, that will also be the date that the team starts to seriously consider how it will move forward with the hiring process of their new coach.

If this really is the plan, I am on board with it 100%. I see no reason to rush hiring a coach. The Lakers already did that when chasing Mike Brown and in choosing his successor. Doing so again would be a mistake. This hire will be the most important decision the organization makes since it took a chance on Andrew Bynum with the 10th pick in draft nine summers ago. They cannot afford to get this decision wrong and the person who signs on must understand that he will need to navigate what will be a minefield of expectations and impatience stemming from the closure of Kobe’s career. And while there will also be the sentiment that time will be needed to make the needed strides to become competitive again, frustration will quickly mount if (when?) the team loses.

Handling this situation will take a special type of coach who can project confidence, insulate himself from the inevitable criticism and doubt that comes from losing, while also instilling the core values and work ethic that winning programs are built upon. Finding this person will not be easy and it will take time and patience to sort out who can actually fill this void.

In a way, it is the gravity of this hire that actually has me finding comfort with there being little movement to this point. Because once the decision is made, there really is no turning back. So better to take the time now and leave no stone unturned than think you have the right guy only to, in a year or 18 months, know that you actually do not. In other words, take your time Lakers. Because whoever the next coach is the clock starts ticking and with his hire there will be news whether they want it or not.

Just ask the last two guys who had the job.

Grantland’s documentary series on Steve Nash continues, this time with Nash responding to fan backlash calling for his retirement.

Whatever side you fall on when it comes to this issue, the thing that stands out most to me from this video is Nash’s honesty about still wanting to play. He cites his love of the game, his desire to prove people wrong, and, yes, the money. He even goes so far as to say that anyone in his shoes would make the same choice (something I pretty much agree with, by the way).

What this clip also highlights for me is the conflict that comes up at the end of the career of nearly every great player. When is it time to retire? How can that be managed in a manner that is best for both the player and the team? When a player makes a significant amount of money, the decision of what to do becomes more than just a decision that the player makes for himself as fan and popular opinion starts to creep into the equation.

Right now, this issue relates to Nash, but we are already starting to see some of the same idea, twisted slightly, in regards to Kobe. His salary over the next couple of seasons is quite large and he’s yet to show he’s physically able to perform to a level that matches what he will be paid. (As an aside, even if Kobe plays wonderfully, there will still be backlash related to how much he is making, but that’s another post for another day.)

Ultimately, though, what Nash says in the video above is both incredibly honest while also showing the conflict that exists in him as he continues to work towards a goal that he understands he may never reach.

The Los Angeles Lakers made a furious rally late in the fourth quarter, but Chris Bosh, LeBron James, and the back-to-back defending champion Miami Heat held off the Purple and Gold and won, 109-102.

Bosh scored 31 and James added 27 as the Heat opened up a 16-point lead in the third quarter. However, the Lakers slowly chipped away at the lead and cut it to 98-94 with 4:09 remaining. A late LeBron three pointer with just over two minutes to go increased the Miami lead to 106-99 and the Heat never looked back from there.

There was a long stretch in the fourth quarter where the Heat would promptly respond to every Laker basket. Both teams were on fire. In fact, from the 5:56 mark of the fourth until the 1:39 point, neither team missed a shot. It was a remarkable display of up and down basketball by both teams and it was Miami’s rapid response to the Lakers’ clutch shooting that sealed the deal for the Heat.

For the Lakers, Pau Gasol and Jodie Meeks (both big factors in the Lakers’ offensive burst in the fourth) each scored 22 points. Kendall Marshall added 11 assists but the Lakers as a whole did not do a great job moving the ball — only recording 21 assists on 40 field goals made. The team shot 36 percent from three point land – a figure that’s closer to their three point average when they lose (33 percent) than their three point average when they win (43 percent).

The most glaring stat of the game, though, was rebounds. The Lakers got murdered on the glass to an awful rebounding team, 48-35. While the Purple and Gold had more offensive rebounds than the Heat, the Heat were more efficient in getting offensive rebounds. Out of 34 rebound opportunities, the Heat had 12 offensive boards while the Lakers grabbed 13 on a whopping 49 opportunities.

As mentioned in the preview, the Heat may have the fewest rebounds per game, but it’s the Lakers that have the lowest rebounding percentage in the league. LeBron had 13 rebounds and absolutely dominated Wesley Johnson and anyone else that attempted to guard him throughout the game. Greg Oden, the oft-injured former No. 1 overall pick, also made his presence felt, getting four offensive rebounds. Meanwhile for the Lakers, Jordan Hill finally got some playing time and got seven rebounds in 22 minutes. Perhaps if he played more, the rebounding disparity may have shrunk because of Hill’s athleticism and rebounding skills.

At the end of the day, the Lakers actually played a solid game against an extremely superior opponent on the road. They fall to 2-3 on the road trip and have now lost eight of their last nine against Miami, but they hung in there and fought hard until the final whistle and that’s all Laker fans can ask from their team at this juncture. The Vegas spread was +11 and they covered it. They only had 11 turnovers, shot over 45 percent from the field, and even got on a little bit of a run at the end. Ultimately, it’s never easy beating the world’s greatest player and another All-Star especially when he’s on his game and the Lakers defense struggled badly against Bosh and James.

The Lakers now head to Orlando to take on the Magic before finishing off their Grammy road trip in the Big Apple.