From Dave McMenamin, ESPN Los Angeles: After everything the season brought for Gasol — Mike Brown wanting him to play the facilitator; Mike D’Antoni wanting him to play back-up center; a laundry list of injuries, including a concussion, knee tendinitis and a torn plantar fascia in his foot causing him to miss the most games of his 12-year career — he still chooses to identify himself as a Laker and everything that is supposed to stand for. Being traded from the Memphis Grizzlies to the Lakers made Gasol a champion. It lifted him from being remembered like the Grizzlies’ best franchise player before him, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, as a very good player on a middling team, to a great player on a great team. To Gasol, the Lakers’ lore is real. While Dwight Howard seemingly has struggled to grasp what it means to be the next in the line of great big men following George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal, Gasol got it from the get-go, helping the Lakers to three NBA Finals appearances and two rings in his first two-and-a-half seasons. When asked about the crowd’s ovation for him during his postgame news conference, Gasol teared up. “I am very appreciative and thankful for our fans and the support they show and their loyalty and their appreciation that they have for me,” Gasol said.
From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: Dwight Howard‘s final game as a Laker was ugly. San Antonio early on in its series against the Lakers took to the strategy of fouling Howard hard every time he went up for a shot. San Antonio fronted him in the post, was physical in taking away his position on the block, they collapsed on him (which they could do because there were no healthy Lakers guards to really fear), then finally when Howard would get the ball and start to make a move the Spurs would just foul him. Hard. Howard put up decent numbers through the series — 17 points per game on 61 percent shooting with 10.8 rebounds a contest — but he wasn’t the dominant force the shorthanded Lakers needed against the Spurs, either. He got frustrated early in the second half of Game 4, pickup up his second technical, and got ejected. He watched the end of the Lakers season from the locker room. Late Sunday night/Monday morning, Howard took to twitter to apologize to Lakers fans.
From Ben Bolch, LA Times: Staples Center held Pau Gasol in a warm embrace late in the fourth quarter Sunday, as fans stood to applaud when he left a game that had long been lost. Kobe Bryant then rose from his seat behind the Lakers’ bench to tenderly place two hands on his teammate’s shoulders. It was gracias, Gasol. It also felt very much like adios. The power forward who prompted Lamar Odom to exclaim, “The Beatles are back, baby!” on the day the Lakers acquired Gasol in February 2008 probably has played his last game as part of a not-so-Fab-Four. He stayed classy throughout the Lakers’ season-ending 103-82 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in Game 4 of their Western Conference first-round series, remaining on the court to congratulate conquerors who had swept him out of the playoffs.
From Drew Garrison, Silver Screen & Roll:The season has ended for the Los Angeles Lakers after the San Antonio Spurs swept L.A. in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. For the Lakers, it means the organization can finally focus on moving forward instead of trying to salvage a broken present. The 2013 off-season could be very interesting for the Lakers as they prepare for a new season that, hopefully, puts the nightmarish 2012-2013 season in the distance.
From Arash Markazi, ESPN LA: There have been many times over the course of this season when one could have wished to be a fly on the wall in the Los Angeles Lakers’ locker room, their training room or even the Buss family living room. The moments are far too many to number at this point and in the aftermath of the season just blend together like a marathon showing of “Jersey Shore.” But perhaps the most fascinating moment came Sunday night as Dwight Howard was inexcusably ejected from a game in which he was one of only two players from the Lakers’ regular rotation able to walk. Howard already had received a technical in the first half for complaining about a call, then picked up a second technical a little less than two minutes into the third quarter with the Lakers down 55-34. Many Lakers fans hadn’t even made it back to their seats from halftime as Howard walked back to the locker room.
From Stanley Lee, Lakers Nation: This postseason has most definitely not been what we all expected when this team began their post-All Star break turnaround. The injury bug has bitten the Lakers all year, but the list of hurt players is piling up like never before at the worst possible time. Already missing four guards—Kobe Bryant, Steve Blake, Steve Nash, and Jodie Meeks— in Friday’s humiliating loss to San Antonio, starting forward Metta World Peace now joins the list. After one of the most embarrassing losses in Laker postseason history in which the Lakers fell to the Spurs by a score of 120-89, Mike D’Antoni would once again be forced to trot out one of the worst lineups he has fielded all season—forced to start Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock against a champion-level Spurs team.
I have long thought that the Lakers would take advantage of the fact that virtually every major contract ends after next year to get under the cap and initiate a roster make over. There is a huge chance, if Howard leaves via free agency, that the makeover starts this summer.
I read comments from folks that would require the Lakers to spin off Gasol for solutions that have longer term contracts. There is no way the Lakers FO signs off on being above the cap in 2014/15. The team may be willing to pay the tax penalty next year but unless they reset in 2014/15 the penalty gets even more prohibitive than the projected $85 million due.. The tax gets even more onerous unless there is a reset. That reset will happen in 2014 if it doesn’t happen this summer.
I am more than ready for a makeover. The Lakers’ are built for ‘pound it inside’ basketball. Which ironically they refuse to do on a regular basis. Our roster is an outlier in a league increasingly built on quickness and speed. We simply don’t match up.
We have to stop fooling ourselves – if we are to compete in the future we have to embrace significant change. I hope that Dwight comes back. But the fact is that even if he does not we should not panic. We should take our lumps next year. There are worse outcomes then heading into the 2014/15 season with a high draft pick and endless cap space.
that would be the way to go, but what do you do about kobe?
let’s hope jim buss has a plan, or is willing to listen to others. there are no easy answers – so hopefully we won’t get quotes like:
“Kobe [Bryant] and I have a relationship where he can just look at me and say, ‘Everything’s cool,'” Buss said. “So yesterday during practice, I gave Kobe a quick glance, and everything was cool.”
T. Rogers says
Regarding Howard: If he is willing to stay the Lakers need to snap him up. Howard is not a once in a generation game changer like Magic, Kobe, or Shaq. There are only two players like that in the entire league. And those guys aren’t available. Let’s stop wanting Howard to be like Magic and Kobe. He is not that kind of player. However, he can be the first piece on a team built to win by committee. Starting your team with one the best defensive front court players in the league is nothing to sneeze at.
Regarding Kobe: It would be PR suicide to amnesty him. Doing it saves the Lakers money. But I can’t think of any other benefits. Let’s be real here. The team could realistically be waiting until next Spring before he takes the court again. And even then he most likely will not be the Kobe we remember. Still he should be allowed to go out on his own terms.
Regarding Pau: There is no point in trading him. They will have to take back longer contracts. Unless they get some steal of a deal they are better off letting Pau ride out this final season.
Regarding Nash: Can they buy him out? It is clear he is done. If they can cut ties and move on it would be best for both parties.
Regarding D’Antoni: They may as well keep Mike for another year. Next season is already a wash. It is clear the team won’t really know its direction until next summer. Hire a new coach then and let him help build the roster from the ground up. Like Mike be the place holder for now.
Kenny T says
When Kobe went down, the season was essentially over. I give the Lakers credit for making the playoffs. They overcame a Perfect Storm of injuries to do so.
The task of retooling the team begins with the coach, IMO. MD’A is not the right man for this job. He has no concept of managing a season or developing his reserves. He always seems to be in desperation mode. I’ll never be able to forgive him for abusing Kobe and possibly ending his career. You don’t hitch Secretariat to a freight wagon. Another red flag for me is that the Lakers never improved defensively the entire year. MD’A should also have been more vocal in supporting Howard during this series as SA brutally attacked his big man from all sides. He should have been the one with two techs, not Dwight. And it should have happened in the first game.
I’m not going to speculate as to the Lakers’ future. Too many variables. But I think that future is bleak if one Michael D’Antoni remains their head coach.
Post from previous thread: It would be extremely hard to bottom out with Kobe still on the roster. Who knows if Wiggins comes out after one year or if the Lakers might get the #1 pick. But that route seems better than being mediocre again getting a pick in the mid teens. The team also will have unlimited cap in 2014.
I’m not pressing for Dwight to come back. Enough mistakes have been made the past few years time to step back and take a hard look to see if re-signing a player who has failed to show he’s ready to be a leader. Coming back early after back surgery is something to give a standing ovation too. Other than that blaming teammates all year, prancing around the locker room with a stat sheet, shooting 49% on FT’s, getting thrown out of the last game and not keeping our word are all negatives. He said he’d fight to the end but he left his squad on the floor in an already lopsided fight. $110 million dollar question: Can Dwight grow up like LeBron did, who was already more mature than Dwight before leaving Cleveland, after his Finals meltdown? That’s the only question that the front office needs to ask themselves. Whatever the answer is that’s the answer to the resign him ultimatum.
I also don’t see how Blake and Nash can be back for the sake of back court speed. Giving 48 minutes to old and slow players spells doom. Couple that with Kobe returning from Achilles injury. The season will be over before it even begins.
Kenny T says
I saw DHoward clubbed many times in the head during this series by the likes of Matt Bonner, Splitter and Ginobli. Since when is that acceptable? It’s almost as if the referees have been instructed to allow inordinate amounts of contact against him.
D’Antoni: T Rogers is making sense to me with regard to the coaching spot. I would prefer to keep MD for one more year and then make the change, vs. attempting to hire an experienced type now (like a Van Gundy/Sloane type). However, that is one route. Another route would be to hire Shaw and be done with it (the Phil dream might just be too much to ask for). Shaw uses next year as his “get the feet wet” year, he goes through the trials and error, and he is in place for the wholesale change in 2014. Now if Jim Buss is unwilling to say “I was wrong” – then Shaw is out, and so is Phil, and B Scott is probably tainted as well, because he once wore the purple + gold. Another variable in the equation is DH. We need to sign him. I do not think MD is a plus for D12, but he may stop short of demanding change. He may just simply not sign if he is looking at the long term with MD. Perhaps a meeting between Shaw, DH, and others would be in order. Add Phil into the mix as our new Executive VP in Charge of Basketball Operations, and the franchise could be rejuvenated. Phil would of course report to Jeanie, who would be President of the Lakers. I would be happy with just the Shaw part, but hey – I figured to throw the other stuff in while I was at it : ) That is my hopeful scenario. Me skeptical one is that Jim retains power, Jeanie pouts, Phil writes 2 more books, Shaw pines for a real team, B Scott signs elsewhere, MD stays, DH goes, and FBG erupts with posts of displeasure. So isn’t my hopeful scenario so much better : )
I agree. What is the point of having rules regarding intentional fouls and/or flagrant fouls. Don’t you have to make a play on the ball? Kobe got in trouble for “non-basketball” moves when he was on OFFENSE a couple of years ago. Hacking at a guy without playing the ball is NOT a basketball move. Ridiculous.
Also agree about MDA. He does not inspire confidence. We have all had coaches and teachers who fail to bring out the best in people. There is something missing there that goes beyond the problems he inherited this season.