The Lakers are in Phoenix tonight, playing the second of four consecutive games on the road. The first game was a loss at Utah, a game that saw the team struggle mightily to contain Gordan Hayward while also allowing the Derrick Favors and Trey Burke to have good nights (though Burke did so rather inefficiently). Of course Kobe did not play in that game and, though he has not played since Thursday, he will not suit up tonight either. Ronnie Price will also sit out, so expect Jeremy Lin and Wayne Ellington to be the starters against the Suns just like they were against the Jazz.
Speaking of the Suns, commenter Calvin Chang had a nice summary of what the Suns will try to do offensively:
We all know what’s going to happen. In a half-court set, Suns like to run the high pick and roll with PG (Bledsoe, Dragic or Thomas) and big (Alex Len or Miles) and have space-out shooters in the Morris bros and Gerald Green. Our PG will get stuck in the pick. Their PG will make the read on how our defense reacts to the high pick and roll, then either shoot a 3, or penetrate and get a layup, or kick out to a 3pt shooter. We’ve seen it in the past 2 losses to the Suns. Can Byron come up with a strategy to counter this?
Indeed, it will be interesting to see how the Lakers handle the Suns’ three point guards and whether or not they can close down the lane while still recovering back to the three point line to contest jumpers. In the previous matchups , the Lakers have not done a good job of this, either ceding too many open threes or allowing the Bledsoe, Dragic, Thomas trio to get deep into the lane and either score or collapse the defense enough to generate a good look for a big man camping or a shooter spotting up. One way to try and slow this action down is to go under screens — especially on Bledsoe — to see if they can make the defense pay with long jumpers. Another tactic is for the big man to play well below the screen and hope that he can cut off the driving angle long enough for the ball handler’s man to recover after the screen. These aren’t perfect solutions — there aren’t any with this Lakers’ defense — but they could offer varied looks to keep the Suns guessing.
Offensively, if the Lakers are going to keep this game close, they will need some better play from Jeremy Lin. Against the Jazz, Lin scored only six points on 10 shot attempts and did not go to the foul line. He also only had three assists. Without Kobe, Lin needs to find ways to score and be a good enough set up man to keep the defense honest. He needs to get into the paint and, even if he’s not hitting his shots, draw extra defenders to allow his bigs lanes to the offensive glass. If he’s not doing these things, his utility falls off a great deal since he’s not the best defensive player.
Another key to the offense will be the Lakers’ bigs finding ways to remain active on the offensive glass and get some easy baskets on put backs. The Suns do not play “big” very often and typically have a stretch-y PF on the floor to aid in their spacing. Hill, Boozer, and Black need to take advantage of this by not only crashing the boards, but coming up with enough of them to get some points. This will not only help on the scoreboard, but will force the Suns to gang rebound more which, in turn, should slow down their transition offense where they typically kill the Lakers.
While shorthanded, the Lakers should be well rested and have enough legs — especially with Clarkson taking some of Kobe’s minutes — to get up and down the court and run with the Suns for stretches. Whether this is enough to keep the game close remains to be seen, but if this game is a loss it should not be for effort, simply due to talent.
Where you can watch: 7:00pm start time on TNT. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM Los Angeles.
Calvin Chang says
Another tactic is for the big man to play well below the screen and hope that he can cut off the driving angle long enough for the ball handler’s man to recover after the screen.
This is a great idea. When Hornacek springs the high PNR, have JHill play well below the screen and Lin (or Clarkson) put a little shove on their big to throw him a bit off balance on his roll, then recover. The idea is to leave the big (Len or Miles) with an open 17 footer and tempt them to make long 2’s. They’ll make some, but compared to layups or 3’s, long 2’s are the least painful way to get scored on. Also throw in some surprise zones from time to time.
The Kobe situation is beginning to make no sense to me. If tired – he should stay home, not spend time in planes, hotels, and NBA benches. If he is hurt – what is it? He has had 3 full days off and can’t play? Like I said – not good. We have gone from Kobe playing 40+ per game – to Kobe making cameo appearances without any explanation other than “he is old”. And as per discussion in the previous threads, most justifications for this type of schedule, just lead to the “shut it down” convo or worse yet “retire”. It is hard for me to come up with a good explanation for any of this. My explanation is (and trust me – this is not good). Kobe was ignoring the situation the whole time because of his competitive nature and his work ethic. However that is over. He is now accepting that the Laker FO has no card up their sleeve, and this is it for the next 1 1/2 years. Hs body aches and it is hard for him to press forward into these games when there is no competitive way to succeed as a team. On the individual side, he went by MJ and Karl is far off. So other than moving himself up on a few all time lists – what else is there? Yes – he still loves the game – but this is not tolerable – not even for Kobe. The laughter during the Cavs game may have told the story. Wow – this has been swift. I was hoping for the long shot of years 21 + 22, and now – year 20 is being discussed as questionable. If there is no “secret injury”, then all I can say is It takes a special type of environment to get Kobe to feel this way.
If you remembered Grizzlies game, they used two bigs set up double screens for Conley or Udrih to shoot uncontested, or they passed the ball back to one of the bigs (usually Gasol) to score, it was so effective, and it’s very hard to defend because the two bigs really blocked out a huge area for their PG to shoot, very rarely any defender can go through the screen, even some one did it, the PG can pass the ball to either one of the bigs to score. I learned it from that game, but never know that BS learned any thing or not, or may be he never care any thing about offense.
Calvin Chang says
@Robert: Kobe’s probably cooking up some bone broth 🙂 I read an ESPN article about Kobe relying on a diet rich with bone broth to help his body recover. I tried the recipe over the weekend. Not bad. Just takes a long time to make. I plan on trying it for a month to see if it will help with my knees 🙂
Robert if you are questioned what is going on just think how season ticket holders, road fans and Time Warner must feel. Just like the song made famous by Steve Nash it looks like “Take the money and run”.
Ko: I certainly understand crediting that Steve Miller song to Steve Nash. Alternatively you could have been thinking about Graham Nash of CSNY – he wrote “Teach Your Children” which could have worked wonders with the Lakers.
“So other than moving himself up on a few all time lists – what else is there?”
I’ve a post stuck in moderation on the last thread (seems we can only say so much about Nick Young), but Kobe is not so far away from 20, 5 and 5 for a career. Handily has the 20, has the 5.3 for RPG, so only need maintain that (he’s at 5.6 so far for this season), but needs to up the 4.8 (rounded up) to 5 APG. As I said in the one post, 10 APG this season and next would do it (actually less than that, but that would provide a safety margin). He’d then join The Big O, Jerry West, Bird, and MJ.
Some others who, like Kobe, are close but not quite….Magic, doesn’t have the PPG at 19.2, Wilt at 4.4 APG, and Kareem and Malone at 3.6 APG. Dr. J. was also close, at 24.2, 8.5, and 4.2. For how mind-blowing it is and would be if he somehow made it, this how hard it is, even for a single season:
So 5 times for a season. Kobe would make it 5 souls for a career.
pat oslon says
PHX has more talent, team continuity & plays well at home. The Lakers should be rested and ready to put forth a good effort tonight. It will be a tall order to win but I think we can pull it off. To do so J-cHILL, J-Lin, Boozer and Swaggy will have to pick it up on both ends of the court.
Please retire Kobe, I already wasted enough money this year.
If you can’t play…or don’t want to play, we get it. Now go away until they retire your jersey.
In reply to Ken Oak from the other thread:
KenOak, “What happens is that front offices will shut down players, who are hurt slightly, or trade decent players for draft picks.”
Shutting down players who are slightly injured, are you referring to Kobe? Don’t worry, he already shut down himself while pocketing the $ 24M because competition is not there. He just kept on repeating “he’s old” to make those who don’t like him to play, happy and disgusted as well.
Trading for 2nd draft picks, what I’m saying Ken, this is a long route and a tedious process and you are never sure whether that will pan out. This is not the way Laker operates over the years. They let other teams train the draft picks and grab them later through a max deal plus attraction of promotional advantage being in the high media market. Let the small market teams develop these young talents while Lakers provide them openings in the future.
Oh you mentioned Pops, he is smart Coach. He is reserving his work horses for the playoffs where the real competition begins. His players are as old as Kobe but his team is in the thick of the fight. Don’t compare it to the Lakers, the owner is not too smart, the coach is not a disciplinarian and the players belong to hodge podge scattered brains who can’t close the 4th Q. They always lead in 1st half and lose it in the 2nd half due to disorganized defense and sometimes poor shooting, no rim protector, no go-to-guy. Do you think the GM’s of other teams would take our players and give us their 1st draft picks? smh! They are mostly one year contract players so why not get them at the end of the season at low acquisition cost?
What I am saying is to use “smart Laker power” namely: 1) we have the market; 2) pay the max contract on players we want like Marc Gasol, Goran Dragic or Rajon Rondo, Aldridge. If their team offer them a counter, it will hurt their salary caps; 3) don’t be afraid to pay luxury taxes, the market will absorb it. 4) this is the end of Kobe, so why not compete than waste precious time in doing monkey business of tanking for nothing.
Sad how empty the stands are tonight. Phoenix mgmt. must be laughing their a**es off. They couldn’t have planned it better as far as the Nash trade went.
This has become a scenario even worse than what I thought would be the worst! Not sure how this team, with this culture of ineptitude and uncertainty and losing, can turn it around in the near future. Perhaps, but it becomes a greater and greater long shot with every new strange twist. I hope I am wrong.
Maybe Kobe is trying to be like Mike.
Only he sees himself as a starting pitcher.
Hence playing every 4th game.
I actually wasn’t speaking of Kobe, but whatever. We have no idea why Kobe isn’t playing. Is he injured? Are his legs simply too tired to go every night after the repaired achilles? Did the FO tell him to take it easy for the remainder of the year? Is Byron Scott telling him to take it easy? You, of course, immediately place all blame on greedy Kobe. 😉
“Trading for 2nd draft picks, what I’m saying Ken, this is a long route and a tedious process and you are never sure whether that will pan out. This is not the way Laker operates over the years. They let other teams train the draft picks and grab them later through a max deal plus attraction of promotional advantage being in the high media market.”
Here’s the problem with your solution. The Lakers have tried over the last couple years to swing for the fences on max FA and they failed. I’m not sure that the NBA landscape will ever be like it used to be. Maybe the allure of the LA market isn’t as great as it used to be. Perhaps the internet age has changed that?
The funny thing is that the team you were praising (SAS) has built through the draft for the most part and had some great success. Go figure.
Yes, I mentioned Popovich. So, he’s a smart coach that holds his players out of b2b which you think is smart? Yet you criticize “tanking” by organizations. Seems a bit hypocritical to me because Pop (the smart coach) is tanking by holding out his best players. You state that the playoffs are all that matters. Well, what happens when the Spurs get bounced in the first round after tanking like this? How do the season ticket holders feel then? How about fans in opposing stadiums that want to see Duncan, Parker, or Ginobili? How is this good for the integrity of the game?
Do I think some other team might want Hill, or Davis, or Lin? Maybe. What if they need a big man after an injury to their starter? What if they want J Lin’s expiring contract? Or Nash’s for that matter? Oh, 2nd round draft picks aren’t worth trading for? Here’s a list of some okay ones:
1- Omer Asik
3- DeAndre Jordan
5- Luis Scola
6- Kyle Korver
7- Goran Dragic (You mentioned that you might want to pay max money for him.)
9- Chandler Parsons
10- Lance Stephenson
11- Monta Ellis
12- Paul Millsap
13- Marc Gasol (Remember him?)
14- Manu Ginobili (He’s pretty good, huh?)
“What I am saying is to use “smart Laker power” namely: 1) we have the market; 2) pay the max contract on players we want like Marc Gasol, Goran Dragic or Rajon Rondo, Aldridge. If their team offer them a counter, it will hurt their salary caps; 3) don’t be afraid to pay luxury taxes, the market will absorb it. 4) this is the end of Kobe, so why not compete than waste precious time in doing monkey business of tanking for nothing.”
You’re last paragraph is a bit comical to me, but I’ll respond to it anyway…
1- Not sure the market is as important as it used to be as I said before.
2- I don’t like the idea of paying the max to either of those 3 players. But, YMMV.
3- They aren’t afraid of paying the luxury tax, but only if it means competing for a title which they were never going to do this year.
4- Yeah this is the end of Kobe’s career. Okay. The possibility of competing for a playoff seed ended when Nash couldn’t play and Randle broke his leg.
I feel like a broken record here, but I think it’s worth stating once more. This is a 20-25 win team. What are they competing for Oldtimer? Seriously, what exactly are they competing for? The 13th best record in the West instead of the 14th? I don’t blame the FO if they do what it takes to put themselves in a better position for next season because this one has a ceiling of 25 games. -> If we catch lightning in a bottle.
Wes Johnson makes a lot of screw ups on defense for a guy who suppose to be BS best defender. Getting old.
This homer Suns announcer on tnt is annoying!! Hope to see lot of clarkson, jelly, & black in the 4th once game is out of reach.
Baylor Fan says
Coming out of halftime the Lakers were tolerable to watch. They replaced iso-ball with passes. Four different players were getting touches on each possession. Then Phoenix began to tighten up their defense and the Lakers retreated into one pass possessions and slowly gave up all hope.
For curiosity’s sake, do the Kobe haters think that Russell Wilson purposely tanked for 55 minutes so he could play hero ball and save the Seahawks?
Kobe’s sitting out tonight was weird even in the current LakersWorld. They had three days off leading into a national TV game on a national holiday. PHX is a very short trip, and they had been at home before that. I presume that TNT was aware of these things when they put the game on the schedule, figuring that Kobe would be out there.
So, I have changed my mind and now agree with Flea and Robert: something is up.
But, I can’t see KB walking away with that much money still on the table. The Lakers owe him the rest of this year’s pay plus 25M in 2015-16.
Perhaps the internet age has changed that?
I think it has, yes. The media experience for young people, and all people, including basketball players, is very different now than it was when I was young.
Also, Kareem came by trade, and both he and Shaq had very specific, personality-driven reasons for wanting to be here. Jack Kent Cooke traded for Wilt, and paid him 250K in an era when Jerry West made 100. Pau and Howard came by trade.
Baylor and West were drafted when the team was bad–and in Baylor’s case, when the team was still in Minneapolis. Magic and Worthy were drafted with picks acquired in trades with incompetent organizations, leading to a rules change. Kobe was acquired when he was 17 and before he had played an NBA game.
So, for these and other reasons, I see no compelling argument to be made that the Lakers are going to clean up the current mess by binge-signing multiple FAs who will be inexorably drawn to the market and the brand. It is certainly OK to hope for it, but I think that the people who say that are usually either miserable Lakers fans looking for something to hold on to, or fatalistic hater types who can’t stand the Lakers and are fearful that they will be back on top soon.
Don’t worry Ken Oak, you will get what you wish for. This roster will lose more than the 5 games that you have in mind. You and Aaron are the magic Genie that came out from the Laker lamp or empty gas tank. 🙂
The problem with your solution is long range and may be off target if you get an Embiid, Wiggins or Parker, they need more to be interned in order to be good. From the list you mentioned, be sure they are F/A’s in 2015, if they are on contract or re-signed before end of season, then they are not a free agent.
The biggest problem I got, we have been doing this after PJ left the coaching staff or give the credit to Jimbo after he failed getting CP3. He should have sued David Stern if he had the guts. From that time on, there were series of miscues and bad luck from players and coaches and strings of injuries. To this season, the scourge is not over and we are arguing something out of our control. I fear nobody will come to the Lakers if they sense trouble and disaster. There will be no advertising dollars flowing in if the market and advertisers lose their fate and credibility of franchise. Just observe and go around, how many fans lost interest watching the Lakers. IMHO, this team has been tanking and rolling the dice since 2012.
Dang it! I was going to bring this up, but you beat me to it.
“Also, Kareem came by trade, and both he and Shaq had very specific, personality-driven reasons for wanting to be here.
Baylor and West were drafted when the team was bad–and in Baylor’s case, when the team was still in Minneapolis. Magic and Worthy were drafted with picks acquired in trades with incompetent organizations, leading to a rules change. Kobe was acquired when he was 17 and before he had played an NBA game.”
Byron Scott was drafted by the Clippers and traded to the Lakers for Norm Nixon. Time and time again this team has built through the draft and through trades. Shaq is pretty much the only Superstar that they brought in through FA. Maybe Ron Artest?
The Dane says
And Pau Gasol…
Can’t tell what you mean, exactly, but Pau was traded here.
Even if Kobe were to retire- wouldn’t next year’s salary remain on the Lakers cap? Oh, and I think
The Dane was adding that Pau was another player to add to our list for the Lakeshow building through trades.
@Robert, agree with Kobe “resting” assessment. First off watching him play, I don’t think he has any “secret injury”. My guess is that his achilles tendons get extremely sore and his knees constantly ache after playing a game. Even at 36years old the typical recovery cycle of 48hours shouldn’t have to be moved much beyond 72 hours for the inflammation to dramatically reduce. So Kobe is dealing with chronic pains, likely Kobe has little miniscus left, many guys with his mileage become candidates for knee replacements. If His achilles tendons are hurting for days afterwards this can’t help but put a bit of fear into Kobe’s mind of another ruprture. If there is no real reason in terms of winning for him to play, perhaps that’s enough for him to sit out.
I never expected him to be missing this many games purely because of age/fatigue. I thought perhaps he would make sure to get 2-3 days of rest after most games. Personally as the teams highest paid player, barring no injury, I think he should still rest some games, but he should be on the court more than this. IF this is the best we can hope for, I truly hope he retires after this season. This is going beyond “extra rest’ he is now missing more games then he is playing–withouth being injured.
Actually thought the team played fairly well in bursts last night, Suns are just better than us accross the board. The 3 guard rotation gives teams a huge problem, and having no extra defenders to throw at them was a problem. I think at htis point most of my analysis of nearly all games can be summed up as—they are better than us and they have more healthy players than us.
– “Hump Day” Last night was game # 42, welcome to the 2nd half of the season.
– @ Robert, pertaining to your post about “Kobe cameos”, I felt your pain while reading that, know it wasn’t easy for you.
– Los Angeles is 2-6 without Bryant this season
– The Lakers have lost five straight, seven of eight, eight of 10 and 13 of 17.
– Next five:
01/21 @NO 8:00pm
01/23 @SA 8:30pm
01/25 HOU 9:30pm
01/27 WSH 10:30pm
01/29 CHI 10:30pm
Knicks managed to beat Pels w/o Anthony Davis, so if he’s still out tomorrow, Lakers have a good chance for a victory.
J C says
Didn’t Cleveland have its worst year ever under Byron? A historically bad losing streak?
Yes that was with no Lebron. But still…
Check Thibideau’s record without Rose.
Better personnel, yeah. But still!
Keeping every game close until the 4th quarter? Then (almost always) losing?
Some of that is coaching.
J C: “Some” of it is coaching. Last year we had our worst year ever in LA and “some” of that was coaching as well. However, while “some” of both last year’s and this year’s performance is coaching, “most” of it is something else.
teamn: I wrote a post about three years ago called “my nightmare”. It involved Kobe leaving the Lakers. Like you – little did I know that reality would be worse. Kobe could be chasing rings somewhere and we would be 2 years further into our re-build. Wow – even with hindsight – how in the world did all of this happen?
BCS: Yea 2-6 and overall the record is seriously tanking. I may need to adjust my 1 out of every 3 games mantra. We are rapidly dropping to 25%.
tankyou: Without the “secret injury”, then we are left with the thought that the Laker’s current situation is so dire that it has stopped the flow of competitive juices inside of the most competitive man ever to play the game. That is quite an accomplishment : )
I am of the camp that wants to keep the top 5 pick, so losing does not bother me. The reality is that we have painted ourselves into a corner and this is what is needed to turn the franchise around as soon as possible. To me young controllable talent is a necessary building block to being competitive in the long run. We need to supplement this approach with trades that yield us young talent and or draft picks.
While we will certainly want to bring in talent through FA agency, I do not want to put all of my eggs in the elite’s only basket. I am so pleased that many of you have picked up on the foolishness of signing a 30 year old elite to a max 4 year contract. Not all elites are like Kobe and will perform as a top 5 player in their age 33 and 34 years. It is far better to pick a younger FA who is already good and on their way to being great.
I don’t think I’ve said anything that hasn’t been said by others numerous times already. What I haven’t seen discussed is why the FO seems so focused on the elite FA. I think it goes far beyond the instant marketing boost an established player brings. I really think the FO, is a little gun shy. So many decisions have soured on Jim — I think he may feel the best course of action is to make decisions that virtually everyone agrees is a good one.
That is why the Lakers went so hard after Melo, this past summer. In the eyes of season ticket holders and TWC execs he was a safe bet. Now, many of us were concerned with Melo’s age (11 years in the league) , that he doesn’t take good care of his body, that he has never been on a team that made a deep run in the NBA or the fact/fear that he would be a max player at age 32 and 33. I guess in Jim’s eye’s those risks were acceptable.
Every recent interview with Jim seems to have the comment that the team has enough room to sign two max FA’s. Last time I looked it takes a certain amount of talent through spots 1 – 8 on the roster to win. Jim never talks about the need to build a team and the desire to add talent throughout the lineup.
So, my observation and question to you all is this: Is our FO incapable of building a team through conventional methods: drafting well, making shrewd trades and choosing wisely on the FA market? Or, is the homerun (sign two elites)and fill in the roster around the corners the better approach?
Am I looking at this sideways — what do you guys think?
bryan S. says
Right now the best outcome re: Kobe is a medical retirement, as it would not count against the cap going forward. Not sure if constant physical pain without a specific diagnosis is enough to get a medical retirement–it ‘should’ be though.
bryan S/KenOak: We are not getting that mney back in time to do anything meaningful with it.
•If a player retires, even for medical reasons, his team does not receive a salary cap exception to acquire a replacement player.
Further I think we may have already applied for something like this for Nash:
•A team cannot apply for this salary exclusion if they have applied for a Disabled Player exception (see question number 25) that season, whether the exception was granted or not.
When you apply for two situations like this at the same time, the league has big stamp that they smack down on your application. It reads: ” What were you thinking? – Denied! ”
Lastly – the only way Kobe’s money can come back at all is of he is deemed to have had a career ending injury. Old age does not qualify, and even if this happened, we would have to wait one year from his last game played which at this point means well into next season, and we get the money back next May anyway, so there is no reason to root for this. We dealt ourselves this hand, now we have to play it. This is why you must think of these things “before” you sign contracts, “before” you make trades, and “before” you hire coaches. Exploring options afterwards is always what we end up doing. And I these cases, hindsight is not 20/20, because you have no option.
Calvin Chang says
Robert – I suspect Kobe is just preserving his body for one last run next season. He’s accepted that this season is lost, and I think he himself might be wishing they get a franchise player like Jahlil or Towns. It’s a win-win for him: He reduces wear and tear on his body, reduces the team’s chances of winning this season, increases the odds of getting a good pick, recharges for one final run next season. He’ll probably try to play 2 out of every 3 games the rest of the season in order to keep in shape and keep fans happy.
Chris J says
Nice piece on the Thunder and Cavs on Grantland. Its ending should resonate here, for varying reasons depending upon one’s perspective on the Lakers’ past, present and future:
“While the NBA divides itself between the haves planning for May and the have-nots planning for 2017, the two most star-studded teams in basketball are living proof that even when almost everything goes right, it can still go wrong. Maybe it’s a bad coach, maybe it’s a bad injury, maybe it’s a superstar who gets old at the wrong time. The lesson of the Cavs and Thunder is that it’s always fun to play armchair GM and plan for the future, but actually living it looks a lot more impossible.
How do you win an NBA title?
Draft smart, be patient, stockpile assets, get lucky at the perfect time in free agency, and … Sometimes, you’ll still be desperate by the end.”
Calvin Chang says
Chris J: I think Cleveland is just fine. They may be terrible in the regular season and may stumble upon the 7th or 8th seed. But once playoffs start, Lebron becomes playoff Lebron, and I’ve no doubt that they will advance to the conference finals or even the NBA finals. I feel bad for the top seeds if they get the Cavs as an opening round matchup. Lebron is still a force of nature. When he’s engaged and healthy, he’ll make winning plays on offense and defense.
Stuart: You bring up an interesting question that was touched upon in a previous thread. Historically, the Lakers have built through the draft (Baylor, West, Magic, Worthy were all selctions) and trades (Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe and Pau were acquired this way). The only major FA was Shaq (if I’m not missing anyone). So overwhelmingly the organization has used traditional methods to acquire talent.
I won’t recite all of Laker history but for the most part these major acquisitions made the team competitive but not necessarily instant winners (asde from Magic’s first year). The rosters had to be fine tuned again through traditional methods — key trades (ie Scott for Nixon, picking up Bob McAdoo or Mychal Thompson ) or good drafting (Norm Nixon, Michael Cooper, Eddie Jones, Derek Fisher and Marc Gasol).
Now, clearly Mitch has been focusing his attention are far more important matters. However, I wonder if Jim has simply ignored Mitch’s pleas of caution. Certainly Mitch has to understand that the homerun FA signing is a long shot at best. The winning teams he was on as a Laker player, Assistant GM and GM were loaded with talent. When the Lakers were limited to just two good players they may have been competitive but they did not challenge to win it all.
Chris J says
Time will tell, Calvin. Shaq used to be one who seemingly took off portions of the initial 82, then kicked it into gear come late April, so your theory isn’t unheard of. But that’s never been LeBron’s style.
Even as he scored 36 on the Lakers the other night, his play reminded me more of a 90-91-vintage Magic Johnson — very effective, but showing high mileage –than a 1984-85-vintage Charles Barkley force of nature LBJ previously resembled. Take away some overly friendly officials and LeBron looks very, very human this season.
Stuart – The reality is that we have painted ourselves into a corner and this is what is needed to turn the franchise around as soon as possible.
For you this means trying to keep the top 5 pick and obtaining young controllable talent. For Jim, who is looking at a Lakers’ team with virtually no talent and limited draft picks the only asset he sees is cap space. I’m sure Jim is feeling the pressure to win now. The best way, in his mind, to win is to sign two max free agents. To be sure that would be a marketing dream and should help make the Lakers’ competitive though likely not champions.
I think Jim is looking at this from his promised three year window perspective. He doesn’t have the time to develop a winner through the ‘traditional method’. The Lakers were awful last year and had a high pick which blew up in their faces. The Lakers are even worse this year and there is no guarantee that the team keeps its pick. I’m not defending Jim by any stretch. He bears much of the responsibility for the Lakers’ current plight. But in Jim’s mind the only way to save face is the swing big.
Now, the question I have is who are the two max FAs that Jim is continually talking about?
-Mike Trudell: “Kobe just arrived and will fly with the team to New Orleans. Scott thinks he’ll play vs Pelicans but will determine that for sure tomorrow”. Twitter @LakersReporter
Rumors tagsLos Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant, Injuries
See more at: http://hoopshype.com/rumors.htm#sthash.oYgfv72K.dpuf
T. Rogers says
I really think OKC’s window is closing on them. In June of 2012 it really looked like they were on their way to making multiple Finals appearances. But with Harden’s trade and untimely injuries to Westbrook and Durant they are regressing. Plus, they should have replaced Brooks a long time ago.
On the flip side Atlanta has emerged as a real contender. I know most people are waiting to see what they do in the playoffs. But I have watched a lot of Hawks games. Those guys are for real. And they are doing it without a real “star” player.
Calvin Chang says
Speaking of Atlanta, one player that can be had for cheap is John Jenkins. He’s a 3pt specialist like Jodie Meeks. Looks like the Hawks have given up on him. I would take a chance on him with minimum salary. He’s got a very quick catch-and-shoot release motion. Wing 3pt specialists are good to have for spacing on offense. Exactly what Point Kobe needs.
Stuart, George and Trip: So Jim could make some FA decisions in the next three years, still be unable to turn the team around, have to resign per his three year commitment and yet leave the Lakers in such a cap mess that it takes until 2022 to unwind from the bad contracts. Nice.
T-Rodgers: I agree that OKC’s window is not as wide as it should be. Trading Harden was a clear mistake and likely put a timer on their championship outlook. I think they have at least two years left.
I like Adams as a center much more so than Perkins — his development could tip the balance in their favor. He contributes so much without needing the ball on offense. My concern with them is Westbrook. He plays so hard that I worry about him physically. It’s too bad that Jackson is a RFA this offseason as he is a wonderful third guard off the bench. Then in the summer of 2016 Durant is a FA.
I think they make the playoffs this year and cause some damage. I think they go all in next year in an effort to win and keep Durant.
T. Rogers says
OKC seems to lack a real offensive system. Part of it is Brooks. Part of it is having a primary ball handler who thinks he can create a shot at any given moment. OKC is especially vulnerable because Durant relies heavily on outside shooting. And Westbrook’s explosiveness often crosses the line and become recklessness. And you’re right about Adams. He’s legit.
Craig W. says
The Laker front office doesn’t talk – never have. Therefore, I wonder just how everybody is so sure they know what the front office is doing? We don’t like Jim’s personality and he is following his father, therefore he must be an idiot.
Just because the front office made a play for Carmelo Anthony last summer it is assumed they are only trying to sign big name free agents – and not following their roots with the draft and trades. Well most of the draft home-runs were because of trades and the Lakers don’t really have a lot of trade assets at this time.
I’m not really trying to build up their performance – we are in the middle of a ‘downtime cycle’ – but expecting each week to bring evidence of some direction and improvement is simply not the way the business of basketball works.
Relax – this is a crappy season – and try to see the development of some of our younger players. Yes, I am frustrated with B. Scott for not giving some time to younger players over vets in the final year of their contract.
@T. Rogers, completely agree with you on the Hawks they are legit. The Hawks are playing Spurs style offense, but they have younger players. Watched a couple of their games thus far, and Teague is playing amazingly well. I think beyond the amazing team play, Kyle Korver is just plainly the best shooter in the NBA this season. He doesn’t shoot crazy high volume, but he is a tough cover. He runs people all over the court off of picks and the dude just seems to be constantly moving. IF Korver can maintain his shooting this could go down as one of the best shooting performances ever by a SG. His shoot 51.5%/54% 3-ptland, 92% free throw line and his PPS is 1.6 something. His impact is huge, since even when he doesn’t have the ball the other team needs to constantly keep on him, so he acts as a great decoy even when he isn’t shooting.
The Laker front office doesn’t talk – never have.
One more time: right after the lockout, there was an article at ESPN saying that the Lakers were going to try to get Paul and Howard–and that is exactly what they did. Also, Jim said publicly in his last interview that “the pitch is that we will be able to sign two max free agents.” Jim and Mitch have both emphasized “financial flexibility” in public many times. You can choose to believe what you like, but this isn’t 1981 when there was no internet and Jerry Buss would talk to the LA Times once every couple of years.
Also, it was reported that when the Lakers talked to reps for Isaiah Thomas (who stated publicly that he wanted to play here), Greg Monroe, and Eric Bledsoe, that they conversations were short ones because the Lakers were not willing to talk about long deals. Add that to the fact that everybody on the roster save Nick Young is signed to a deal that is short (Randle’s rookie deal has team options for years 3 and 4), I think it is fairly clear what the plan is.
Atlanta is playing very well. The only caveat for me is a lack of size across their front court. Will they be able to match up with the size of Chicago and a revamped Cleveland team that recently traded for a legit big in Mosgov?? That remains to be seen. They do move the ball well.
As to people’s thoughts on the FO: the Lakers throughout their history have been anchored by having two elite players, basically an inside guy and an outside guy, in the lineup:
Both Jerry Buss and Jerry West always believed in teams being anchored by superstars; the Lakers have never tried to be the 1970 Knicks or the 2004 Pistons.
So, I think Jim simply applied this principle and went after what he saw as the next pair in the lineage: Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. He almost made it happen, but he didn’t, and also of course doubled down by trading four draft picks for Steve Nash.
But I don’t think Buss is going to change course now. My guess–and that is all it is, of course–is that they are thinking about the next pairing of this type being Jahlil Okafor and Kevin Durant, or maybe Marc Gasol and Stanley Johnson, or maybe, if you really want to delay gratification and have pipe dreams, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook from 2017-2021.
I think the FO wanted Carmelo Anthony because
a) They thought that he and Kobe together would make the team interesting and competitive.
b) Anthony would draw other guys after Kobe’s deal ran out.
I don’t think it would have worked; Anthony is nearly 31 and Kobe is 36. But I think that Jim believes that his main job as Lakers VP of BB Ops is to “get the next superstar” because that is how the Lakers have always won, and so that is what he is trying to do.
Giving the FO and Kobe the maximum amount of credit, this is what I think is happening:
1. FO wants to tank
2. Kobe wants to win
3. Both realize Kobe needs rest to win
4. Kobe only plays in statistically winnable games, ‘resting’ in games that are either not winnable or have no marquee match-ups.
5. Reduces the “team better off without Kobe” talk.
6. Increases chances of holding on to the pick.
7. With the pick and with Randle back, hopefully something akin to having Robinson-Duncan happens.
Stuart: “is the homerun (sign two elites)and fill in the roster around the corners the better approach?” Well I can tell you this. If you look at NBA history, 95%+ of the championships have been won by teams with superstars. They usually got the superstars first and then filled in around them. The Lakers have never won without superstars and usually built around these superstars for years (Mikan, West, Chamberlain, KAJ, Magic, Shaq, and Kobe). The number of times we have successfully filled the corners and built a balanced team to win like the 2004 Pistons is zero.
Craig W: “We don’t like Jim’s personality and he is following his father, therefore he must be an idiot. ” That was not why I reached that conclusion.
Hawks: I rate the chances of them winning the championship at approximately 2%. I am already worried about the Spurs repeating (I think they have about 60% chance at this point). I am rooting for Houston cause they might be able to beat them. Then again I would root for anyone to beat them other than the Celtics.
I don’t agree with all of it, but harold’s post is certainly well-thought out.
I believe the best approach to success in sports today is the Dodgers. Separate ownership from management by placing smart, cyber thinking management people to run the business leaving ownership to counting their money.
Hope hope hope!
Robert: the Lakers have never won without superstars and usually built around these superstars for years (Mikan, West, Chamberlain, KAJ, Magic, Shaq, and Kobe).
Not arguing the need for elites to win. Of those superstars only Shaquille was a FA acquisition. Jim has doubled down so often that we have no assets. He is going to try and acquire his superstars solely through free agency. I have my doubts this will work out.
Hope hope hope!
This is pretty much what we have at this point. As Andy Dufresne said in “The Shawshank Redemption”,
“Remember, Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”
Baylor Fan says
rr – West/Baylor and Kobe/Gasol are a reach for your inside/outside superstar argument. The rest of the lineups simply featured the best big in the game and Kareem played away from the basket with his sky hook. Playing along anyway, why hire Antoni who had no use for bigs playing near the basket and ran Gasol out of town.
West/Baylor and Kobe/Gasol are a reach for your inside/outside superstar argument.
Baylor and West were actually called “Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside” back in the day. As to Kareem, he was a unique player but not every shot he took was a skyhook, and it is not as if the skyhook was usually a 20-footer. Also, I said, “elite”, which is not necessarily the same as “superstar.” Pau from 2008-2011 was a Top 15-25 guy.
As to the MDA question, no, Pau was not MDA’s kind of guy and vice versa.
Baylor Fan says
People are missing the point on Atlanta and their connection to the Spurs. They run the same basic offense with players who have different skill sets. The Atlanta coach is a Spur disciple who does not happen to have Duncan et al. However, Duncan has not been a superstar for a few years now and yet the Spurs continue to roll by moving the ball around on offense until they get a good open look. You do not need superstars for that kind of offense to succeed and more importantly it is possible to give players adequate rest during games and during the season. That is the genius of the Spurs, keeping older players effective even while they play fewer minutes and have fewer scoring opportunities. The Spurs made the superstar theory obsolete the last few years as they humbled the younger Heat and helped James make the decision to retire to Cleveland.
The Spurs made the superstar theory obsolete the last few years as they humbled the younger Heat and helped James make the decision to retire to Cleveland.
Uhh, Miami won in both 2012 and 2013. OKC also beat the Spurs in 2012 when they had Harden and were healthy. Also, this is January. We will see what Atlanta does in post-season. One story that has gotten lost with all the hoopla over Atlanta is that another no-star Eastern contender, Toronto, has hit a real downturn. People were talking up Indiana last year at this time as well, and they couldn’t beat Miami in the ECF. Also, one reason Miami lost to SA is that they were not at all young, and the guy who was actually MVP of the Finals, Kawhi Leonard, was and is young and very athletic.
As has been said many times, the lesson of history is clear on this–winning the title with 8-10 good-to-excellent players and no true superstars is possible, but rare. It may be that the advent of the three-pointer as an offensive weapon, advanced metrics, international players, and other factors have changed that. If the Hawks actually win the NBA title, I will certainly consider it. But I doubt it. The Spurs are a unique organization and they do in fact have a superstar of sorts–their coach.
This is an unusual moment in NBA history for many reasons: The Lakers and the Celtics are both bad. The guy seen as the best player in the game going into the season appears to have perhaps declined suddenly, and the guys seen as the 2nd and 3rd-best are both on teams that would, if the playoffs started today, both be staying home.
But there is a lot of basketball still to be played, and the NBA is about the postseason.
Craig W. says
There are no hard and fast rules about how to win the NBA championship. There are trends and historical facts, but the game is evolving – unlike baseball. While nice, the dominant big man is not as necessary today as he was when Kobe broke into the league. This has implications when you are trying to build a team and cannot find a dominant big man.
The Spurs are certainly a constant and – today – are far more like the 2004 Detroit Pistons than they were in 2004. They have evolved as their players have aged. The unique thing about them is that they kept the same three stars together for their entire careers – unlike the norm where players leave in their early 30s. This has to do with the players drafted and the consistent nature of the Spurs environment – they stick to their principles and they are a small market team (both have influenced how the Spurs do their business).
It is instructive to note how good they are at spotting talent that will fit their organization -regardless the ‘talking head’ NBA principles (think Kawai Leonard and Tiago Splitter).
The Spurs are always there, and that is the thing that makes them a factor in the changing nature of how to build a winner.
Ah well, Darius, nobody is going to read this anyway, because it is at the end of a thread that has been replaced. Still, I think I get this more than most.
-regardless the ‘talking head’ NBA principles (think Kawai Leonard and Tiago Splitter).
Stat guys were backers of both Leonard and Splitter.
Still, I think I get this more than most.
You tend to think that about most topics. The evidence for such is scant, however.