Philadelphia 76ers vs Los Angeles Lakers
Sun Mar 22, 9:30 PM EST – TWSN, CSNP
Line: LAL -4.5, O/U: 195.0
Staples Center – Los Angeles, CA
How much is the Lakers’ 2015 draft pick worth? Who wants to lose more? These two questions are tied together today as the Lakers play the 76ers in a direct battle of organizations who really are fighting for the same thing. If you need a recap, here you go:
- The Lakers 2015 draft pick is top 5 protected due to the trade with the Suns that netted them Steve Nash.
- In a trade deadline deal between the Bucks, 76ers, and Suns, three point guards changed teams. Brandon Knight went from Milwaukee to Phoenix, Michael Carter Williams went from Philly to Milwaukee, and Isaiah Thomas went from Phoenix to Philly.
- Included in the package that went to Philly from the Suns was the Lakers’ top-5 protected pick. The 76ers subsequently traded Thomas to the Celtics for more draft picks.
So, the Suns no longer own the Lakers’ protected pick — the 76ers do. At the time of the trade, the Suns’ front office said they did not feel the Lakers would convey the pick this year and that it was much more likely it would be conveyed next summer. That lessened the value of the pick (in their eyes) and made it a more tradable asset.
It seems, however, that the 76ers think differently. And today, they play in Los Angeles with a chance to help reinforce that thought process through direct competition. So, I ask again, which team wants to lose more and how much is the Lakers’ 2015 draft pick worth? Both teams on the floor have a vested interest in this asset and we shall see how, if at all, it affects the game on the floor.
A peak at the standings tells us that both the Lakers and 76ers have 17 wins. The 76ers have 52 losses and the Lakers have 50. This leaves the 76ers with the 3rd worst record in the league and the Lakers the 4th worst. Should the Lakers lose this game, however, Philly will leapfrog them for the 4th worst record with the Lakers moving “up” to the 3rd worst. For those scoring at home, the Lakers’ odds of keeping their draft pick this June go up from roughly a
50/50 83% chance to about an 80% 96% chance of retaining their pick if they close the season with the 3rd worst record rather than the 4th worst. In other words, today’s game against the 76ers (and the 2nd time they face off before the end of the season) are sort of a big deal when it comes to the lottery race.
Do I expect the players to openly play poorly or not hard? No, I do not. Do I think we might see some questionable rotations from both coaches or guys get longer stretches on the floor/key minutes who normally might not? Maybe. I don’t think either team’s decision makers will gun for a loss, but I’d be lying if I said I thought neither side were aware of the things I typed above. I can almost say for certain that Philly does.
In any event, this is the backdrop to today’s game. Yes, there are some interesting match ups on the floor — namely I’m interested in seeing Philly rookie big man Nerlens Noel match up against the Lakers’ front line — but the more interesting thing will be to me the ramifications of this game on what happens off the floor come the lottery drawing in the lead up to the June draft. This game just means too much from that angle to ignore. No matter what either team says.
Where you can watch: 6:30pm start time on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen at ESPN Radio 710AM Los Angeles.
Well boys and girls…this one could be for all the marbles! If we can get this L, then I think the pick is ours. 😉
Thomas Rickard says
Your %’s are wrong! Keeping a top 5 at 4 is much better because of their increaced oddd of moving up into top 3 earlier in year all the odds for staying in top 5 from 4 is almost 80% thats why Suns traded pick! Fortunately rookies are trying to win and 76’s have more talent
Just to clarify, if the Lakers retain the fourth worst record, their odds of keeping the pick are 82.8% (as opposed to “50/50”).
If the Lakers finish with the third worst record, their odds of keeping the pick are 96.0% (as opposed to 80%).
Darius Soriano says
Yes. Mistook the numbers for 5th worst record vs. 4th worst as the ones for 4th vs. 3rd worst. Will fix the post when I am back at a computer. Thanks, folks.
82 almost meaingless regular season games resulting in half hearted contests due to fatigue and shear uninterest…
A system that rewards losing…
A system that promotes competitive balance by definition promotes average baskegball (if everyone is the same everyone is average)…
But tonight is one of the few nights that the game actually counts! And we are rooting for a loss??!!? FU NBA!!!! I can’t wait till another rival league pops up… So the NBA has to change and the Lakers can be great every year 🙂 And that is why no league has popped up. If one did the NBA the very next day would wipe away the draft and salary cap all together. There would be promotion/relegation and one to two games a week. All would be right in the basketball world. Of course that other league would imidiatley fold.
These teams have met 6 times in the NBA Finals. Sadly they are now meeting in the Battle of the Bulge.
The NBA and the ownership of these 2 teams should be ashamed of themselves.
I as a 40 year fan am embarrassed to watch the sandlot crud ball. Better games today at the courts in Laguna Beach.
Yea Coach. Play Kelly and Lin 40 minutes tonight.
96% sound good on pick!
Aaron is 100% on target with that post. Slam the microphone to ground.
for once, I am rooting for Lakers to lose tonight! Go Lakers!
lil pau says
I’m trying to watch. Really, I’m trying to watch. But it’s a losing battle, I fear
Good post, Aaron.
Quite simply -> Aaron’s best post ever. Well done!
Jeremy Lin is destroying this tank.
Baylor Fan says
Just how bad are the 76ers? Nerlens Noel should be dominating the Laker front court if he truly is their center of the future. The bulk of their players are selected for their defensive skills with hope that offense will develop. If they cannot shut down an offensively challenged Laker team, do they really have any keepers on their current roster?
Lakers find a way to win and lose a game in the standings thanks to a brilliant 4th quarter by the 76ers.
Is Mike D a guess coach tonight? Smart win.
We will remember this Mr. Lin!
Again, guys like the guys the Lakers have are going to have good nights sometimes. Also, Philadelphia has won 5 road games all year and has the worst point differential in the league. So…I didn’t expect the Lakers to lose.
So, ORL is the team to watch. But here’s the problem: everyone is focusing on keeping the pick, but if we believe the consensus, there is a dropoff after the Top 4 guys. As per Wikipedia, here are the odds of getting each pick with the 4th-worst record:
6th and 7th of course do not matter to the Lakers. So, as of now, the Lakers have a 47.7% shot at Towns, Okafor, Mudiay, or Russell.
road trip starting Tuesday:
The Lakers still have two games to play against Minnesota, plus the one with Philadelphia. The last two are a home/home with Sacramento.
bryan S. says
rr: I didn’t see a Laker loss here either. Very hard to lose against a horrible team on your home court. I actually thought though, that if Lin didn’t play at all we could steal the loss. But Jeremy shines against weak teams so once it was clear that he was on, I gave up any hope for a loss.
As to the draft, after watching a lot of college hoops this weekend, I was less excited about Towns than I had been, and I’m not sold on either Okafor or Russell. Towns has to get much stronger in the lower body. The latter two are not elite athletes. Mudiay is more of an unknown, but is the best athlete of the four. I think there are guys who are going to move up when we get to the draft workouts who might go fourth or fifth–where we are likely to draft if we don’t lose the pick on account of stupid wins. My darkhorses with the fifth pick are Mario Hezonja, Kevan Looney or Jakob Poetlel.
Now is the time to sit Lin! He plays best with no pressure or expectations. He’s going to cost the Lakers their pick.
It’s not in Lin’s job description to try and lose games. Players don’t play that way. Why would they? They are not meant to manage the big picture.
The Dane says
What a stupid stupid win… try not to comment on wins, but damn. This one could have been huge.
What the heck is Lin doing? No more, Jeremy, no moar!
Lastly, and by the way, I’m revising my draft pick desires. Still Towns early if they have the chance. If not, well, either way, this fellow here comes with some baggage and needs some work, but if he can jump like this, say hello to rim protection:
As much as I want the team to draft Towns, I won’t cry if the one other fellow is right re the picks, i.e., Mudiay at 4 and Upshaw at 34. The late 1st rounder is under further review. Though to be safe, they could take Upshaw with that pick. Oh, and so he develops the right ‘tude, he lives in a spare bedroom at Kobe’s place.
Magic: As has been the case for many years, Michigan State’s biggest fan is Magic Johnson. He is at games getting camera time, doing supportive interviews, and even has been invited into the team’s locker room to get them primed. The entire Michigan State nation and staff welcomes Magic in this role. Nobody is telling him to be quiet, and he is fully involved and supportive of a well run, successful program. So with Magic we can contrast Magic’s relationship with Michigan State to his relationship with the Lakers. While on their other side, the Lakers can contrast their Magic relationship with whom?
Aside from proving that Clarkson is a rotational player, this season has been a total disaster. And worse than that is the Lakers are very close to have nothing to show for all this pain as each meaningless win makes keeping the top 5 pick less likely.
So last night Jeremy Lin, who likely won’t even be on the team next year, had his best game of the season. Why Byron/FO allows players who won’t be on next year’s roster impact the future of the organization is beyond me. At this point there is no goal, there is no objective other than keeping this pick.
I harp on this fact and I know it annoys some folks — I don’t trust Jim Buss’s judgement. Absent this draft pick the only way to improve the roster is through free agency. The last time Jim Buss tried to woo a free agent was the currently fading Melo. I fear a team constantly operating within a tight win window because the players we have signed are all older and on the downside of their careers.
Byron is going to get himself fired if he keeps this up. If we lose out on the 5th pick and the Lakers roll cap space forward for the FA frenzy in the summer of 2016, then the Lakers will be awful again next season. If that happens, I can’t see the FO standing pat — they’ll need a scapegoat and it will be Byron.
On the other hand , if we keep the pick and are playing a young core, even if we are losing, I believe it buys Byron some time. I think keeping this pick allows Byron to finish his 4 year contract. Without the pick, he doesn’t make it through next season.
I fully expected both teams to shoot in the low 30’s with Silver having to come out and announce an investigation. As things turned out only 1 team came out to tank.
I wouldn’t be terribly upset if the Lakers got the 5th pick. I think there are enough talented players to still choose from at the 5th slot like Stanley Johnson. But games like this bring back memories of last years meaningless victories.
Amazing. Draft picks, draft positioning, tanking possibilities dominate this board. It’s very easy to forget that human beings run the Lakers and that humans coach and play the games.
Extending my condolences to Byron Scott’s family on the loss of his mother.
Darius Soriano says
You say “Why Byron/FO allows players who won’t be on next year’s roster impact the future of the organization is beyond me.”, but how do you envision this playing out in any practical way? As of today, the only players under contract for next season are:
Of those guys, only Clarkson, Kelly, Black, Sacre, and Hill are healthy enough to play. Not sure how you trot out a rotation with those 5 guys and playing no one else is an actual strategy anyone would employ.
As I noted on twitter last night, I can’t see getting upset over beating a team as bad as Philly. People who think the Lakers can viably lose their remaining games are silly. As noted above, these are real people playing for their careers, not pawns in a tank/losing scheme to be controlled like robots who will only do poorly because fans want them to.
I wouldn’t say silly. We wouldn’t be able to point to known historical scandals like the Black Sox, NBA referees betting on games, the ban of Pete Rose, etc. without saying this is history of what was and is. I don’t expect the Lakers to lose every game. I’m sorta happy to the Lakers definitely did not try and tank this game but at the same time I’m keeping my fingers crossed hoping for a draft pick.
Darius Soriano says
Hence the word, viable. If you think an NBA franchise purposefully losing games in the hopes of retaining a draft pick is viable, more power to you. I am not one of those people.
Tanking: The players and coaches should always try 100% in every game. The FO can manipulate the roster and even give the coach “some” instructions as to rotations in order to tank. So, can we fault Lin or any player? Of course not. Can we fault Byron? Not unless he disobeyed direct orders to play a certain rotation to “allow the FO to evaluate certain players”. However – if the FO had a tanking strategy (which is valid under the NBA structure), they could have done more. Just like last year when we failed to move Pau, Kaman, Farmar or Hill, this year we also failed to move anyone. Am I aware of what deals were on the table? No – but neither is anyone else on this board. What we do know is that no deals got done this year or last year. The deals not only could have helped the odds of good pick, but they also could have netted picks. Perhaps if I knew what was available, I too would have not made the deals, but to believe this was the case with DH, Pau, Kaman, Farmar, Lin and Hill is getting to be a little – well hard to believe.
Darius: Of the players on the court last night only Hill (team option) Kelly and Clarkson are under contract for next year. everyone else is a free agent. I believe that we discovered that Black is a free agent as well but I could be wrong there.
I understand your point that the Lakers have to play five guys. But my point still holds: that the near term future of the franchise is being determined by players who likely won’t be on the team next year. There is no core that we can can look at last night’s victory and say: “yes, we can build on that for next year.” The situation just strikes me as odd — we win a game that means nothing except that it hurts the Lakers chances of being better next year.
I guess a silver lining, for some, is that if we miss out on the pick there’s a good chance Jim will roll cap space forward and most of these guys will be back on one year deals, again.
Darius Soriano says
Here is a good resource for the Lakers’ salary/roster commitments: http://www.basketballinsiders.com/los-angeles-lakers-team-salary/ That shows Sacre and Black having non-guaranteed deals. I did not include Davis as he has a player option on his deal and has noted he will opt out. But, technically, he has a contract with the Lakers for next year too (at least until he chooses not to).
I fully agree on the point regarding players — specifically guys like Lin and Boozer — impacting games when they have no part of the Lakers’ future. I’ve said this a few times, but I’d cut back on Lin’s minutes, close games with Clarkson, and give Boozer’s minutes to Kelly (and Black and Davis and Hill). I’d prefer the Lakers see what they have in some of their younger players rather than playing some of their veterans as much as they do.
I know I’ve been hard on Byron this year, but his management of the rotations has probably been my biggest issue. From playing Price as much as he did to the shifting of the starting lineups to playing Kelly primarily at SF…I just wish he’d have done some things differently in these areas. Not because it would have produced better results, but because some of these decisions seemed to be out of line with a long term plan of growth and development for the roster.
I will add, though, that his plan with Clarkson has clearly worked well and he deserves credit for bringing him along at a pace that has clearly helped his development curve.
It’s a little naive to think front offices and coaches don’t tank games. It’s actually a little more than a little naive…since that’s exactly why the NBA put in a lottery draft system.
One distinction to make is that between “tanking” and actually throwing games–guys deliberately missing shots, throwing the ball away etc. The former happens all the time; phantom injuries, etc. The latter–no, I don’t think so.
As to the Lakers, once Kobe went down again, there was no reason to keep Lin and Boozer on the team. And, like a lot of people, I never wanted Boozer (or Young for four years) to begin with. Lin was OK because they got the pick with him, and I was also lukewarm about Hill.
So, the FO could have bought Lin out, waived Boozer, and/or order/ed Byron to sit them. The thing about Byron, though, is that the man is old-school in all respects. And the FO knew that when they gave him the gig.
It’s very easy to forget that human beings run the Lakers and that humans coach and play the games.
Yeah. I said something like this very early in the season. The players and coaches have to do their video work, their conditioning work, travel together, and go out there and play, and they all have friends, family members, agents etc who are connected to their career arcs. The actual NBA season isn’t a computer sim where you can hit autoplay until the lottery.
J C says
Todd, rr and Darius,
Excellent points and discussion about these issues.
It’s clear for many reasons that players and coaches cannot play to lose intentionally.
Discussions of a coach implementing losing strategies seems hypothetical.
Postgame, Byron smiled and said, “I know I’ll be asked, ‘what are you guys doing?’ ”
So it was nice to see the coach knew the implications of winning and could appreciate the irony.
By the way, under normal conditions, it would be appropriate to say-
Nice game, Jeremy!
P. Ami says
Condolences to Byron Scott and his family. Sorry to hear he lost his mother.
Condolences to Lakers fans. Scott will be missing the next couple of games, which means there is a chance one of our coaches actually game manages us to an inspired win.
Byron ain’t reading this, so, I’m not piling on while he is low. I can’t stand his coaching. I don’t like his rotations. I don’t like his philosophy. I don’t like his game management. I don’t like his interviews. I hated the hire and nothing has changed my mind.
If the Lakers sign Rondo to anything more than $7m a year I will probably just check out for a few seasons. Not that I’ll stop following the team or root for another one, but I will certainly check out in terms of having any faith that the front office has their head screwed on straight.
I love Towns. We need rim protection (I don’t see Randal providing that) and great centers who are good teammates draw smart free agents. I think Towns can dominate the traditional center position while adding that stretch aspect that the modern game is built around.
I think Mudiay is a nice consolation prize. That said, if Rondo is signed, it shows the Lakers have lost sight of how the game is played and recovering from that will take a while.
Calvin Chang says
A few games ago, I mentioned that having Lin and Ed Davis finishing out games is playing with fire. They have holes in their games, but they have heart. Sometimes, that leads to inadvertent wins like last night. I tweeted Mark Madsen, telling him I’m available to ensure the tank. Buy out Boozer and Lin, sign me to a couple of 10-day contracts. For sneakers, personalized uniforms, and season tickets, I will play my heart out. I don’t mind getting dunked on, crossed over, having my shot swatted to the stands. My plus-minus will always be in the red.
Robert: re dealing players for assets…’but to believe this was the case with DH, Pau, Kaman, Farmar, Lin and Hill is getting to be a little – well hard to believe.’
I agree 100%. The FO spins tales that they didn’t want to take back contracts that would eat into the cap space. The same cap space, by the way, that we have been rolling over for the past two years. So talent, that other teams have inked to lucrative deals, was allowed to walk out the Lakers’ front door for nothing in return.
Jim’s plan was simple: we’ll just sign a few max FAs and we’ll be back in contention. But he needed time to wait for these elite’s to hit the market. The plan was to keep a sizeable amount of cap space and sign Kobe to be the distraction the FO needed to keep the wolves at bay. Of course, the plan blew up in his face.
Keeping the pick this year isn’t a guarantee of anything. Even if the Lakers picked first, the player could be a bust in terms of ability and/or durability.
Besides, the Lakers are losing their first round pick anyway; if not this draft, next draft, if not next draft, the one following. The take away is, the Lakers are going to be plenty bad for a while, maybe a very long while, no matter where they draft this year.
A much bigger concern to me as a fan is the possibility that the quality of the Lakers’ ownership has reverted to the mean (or actually much worse perhaps) with a vengeance.
THAT, my friends, is a problem that no number of high draft picks can correct. It’s a problem that will assure Lakers mediocrity or worse in the years to come.
A much bigger concern to me than this years draft pick status is the possibility that the quality of the Lakers’ ownership has reverted to the mean (or actually much worse perhaps) with a vengeance.
Let’s see if the Lakers sign Rondo or another overpriced has-been this off season. If they do, its a pretty good sign they didn’t learn anything from the Nash “experiment”. It’s scary enough they tried to sign ‘melo, and not a good sign at all; and makes me expect more bad decisions are on the way.
Calvin Chang says
rr: A few weeks ago, Yahoo featured a story about a high-school girls basketball game between 2 playoff-bound teams trying to lose on purpose to avoid a certain opponent in the playoff round. It was hilarious. There were many clips. A player deliberately missing free-throws. Intentional back-court violations, trying to shoot at the wrong basket. The coaches being indifferent. The refs finally called the game and both teams were disqualified from the playoffs.
Baylor Fan says
Sorry to read about Byron’s mother passing away. At least she lived long enough to see him get his dream job. I am sure growing up she never thought he might one day be the Lakers’ head coach.
It does not make sense to have Lin close out games at this time of the year. Clarkson should have been manning the point and the team either sinking or swimming with him.
On response to several posts above.
I used to be very sure under Dr. Buss that winning was the most important thing. He turned a couple of questionable investments(Lakers/Kings) into a LA lifestyle and several billion.
Not so much with the kids. I feel they are spoiled and lack the business or sports knowledge to BUILD a winner. Trying to buy players like Nash, Howard etc without understanding the process proves it to me. Playing the bait and switch game by pretending there was a chance to sign James or Carmelo was a joke. Getting zero for Pau, Howard or dead Nash contract only proves their absolute incompetence.
Add in signing of Kobe coming off a potential career ending injury before he was able to prove he could play is final judgement.
The Buss family is only about tricking the fans and TW into believing they care about winning. Truth is it’s only about the money and I do not see it changing until they are gone. This team went from the pride of LA to fools gold. We fans are the fools and those family members are the ones with the gold.
As a staunch long time supporter of the Lakers I feel like a idiot that bought a stock because some broker guaranteed it would be worth tons only to find put the guy was a con and I was the fool.
The Buss family is to sports what Madoff was to safe and trusting investors. Tell me one thing these people did in their past to warrent our time, money and trust. I await your response!
Calvin Chang says
Ko: I don’t think you’re going to get any response. The reason why I don’t comment much on FO and ownership is 1) we don’t really know what their plan is. everything is just speculation. 2) The Lakers are a family business. Buss kids own majority of it. It’s not like we own stocks. We’re just fans. As long as they own it, they can do whatever they want. They’re not accountable to the fans. If we don’t like what they’re doing, we’re free to root for the Clips or some other team. It’s not like we can sue them. The worst we can do is not buy tickets or merchandise.
Calvin: You know I like your posts and your out of box ideas about signing off the radar 7 footers. However – “we don’t really know what their plan is” That is part of the problem. And what we know for sure is the results. The most successful franchise in all sports has become a five second video on the Clippers blooper reel. In addition to the financial pressure you note, we can make sure that every time they search the team name or their own, they will hear our complaints. And besides you could be wrong. On another web site, I was blamed for MD’s departure. I understand you and others would rather talk about players and rotations, and you know what – so would I. However we have as much control there as we do over the FO. And to me the FO convo is more logical, because it is central and paramount to everything. As Todd, Ko, and Kevin are noting above, no matter what happens, Jim is still making the decisions, and what makes us think that his success is going to change? I would love to be in another world where whether Kelly played 3 or 4 mattered. As it is, the FO is like a gaping hole in our hull and what position Kelly plays is akin to what song the band is playing on deck.
Calvin Chang says
Robert: We know that Jim ultimately has the final say in player decisions. The results have been bad for the past 3 seasons. But maybe they’re just biding their time, waiting for Kobe’s salary to come off the books and the new salary cap to kick in so they can throw money stars. I’m pretty sure Jim has heard all the heckling, and he’s reached a point where he’s just tuned it out. Bottom line is the business is still making them millions in profit. Maybe Jim is ok with that. Like Aaron said, maybe rock bottom is better than where the Clips are right now.
Calvin Chang says
A lot of it is just luck. Sure, they struck out this past offseason. But Kobe himself absolved the FO, saying they tried their best to pitch max offers to stars. It only takes one home-run and the Lakers are back in business. Maybe Jim is still swinging behind the scenes. Maybe if Marc, or KD picks the Lakers, or if they get lucky and get Jahlil Ringzzz, the team can jump from last place to contender. With some analytics, maybe Jim has some offers ready to go. Or maybe Jim is just laughing and counting his money. We don’t know. The results are frustrating so far.
lil pau says
this is brutal (from marc stein/espn):
What sort of season has it been in Lakerland? Here’s one way to gauge it: Not until this past week, amazingly, did another Laker finally pass Kobe Bryant for the team lead in total points. Kobe scored 782 points in 35 games this season; Carlos Boozer is up to 805 after totaling 29 in three games last week.
Condolences to Byron and his family –
`As noted above, these are real people playing for their careers, not pawns in a tank/losing scheme to be controlled like robots who will only do poorly because fans want them to.´
Now THAT´S what I´m talkin´ `bout! Way to go Darius
Baylor Fan says
The Clippers are in the position the Lakers wish they were in. An owner with deep pockets and a strong foundation of players to build on. The only thing slowing them down is their GM. If the Clippers are healthy going into the playoffs they could make the WCF and put a dent into the Lakers market share.
J C says
Times have changed and the new CBA has mandated these changes.
IMO the problem Jim Buss has is, he’s TRYING to do things the way his Dad did. But that’s not gonna work anymore.
Dr. Buss had Jerry West, who was a visionary, helping him. West’ crowning achievements were the Shaq signing and recognizing Kobe’s potential when he was just 17.
Jim doesn’t have Jerry West but he has his protege Mitch K. Mitch pulled off the Bynum for Howard trade. Not bad.
But when it came time to KEEP Howard, Jimmy didn’t have the personality or the follow-through his father did. He just seemed to watch him leave. (I don’t count the billboards – those were too little too late.)
When we lost Pau, and got nothing in return –
That was when our sheer NEGLIGENCE became apparent. If we wanted to retain Pau we should have treated him far better when he was here. That’s not on Dantoni. That’s on management and ownership.
Still, Jimmy tried again this summer. ‘Melo will come, Lebron will come. We’re the Lakers.’
Dr. Buss could have willed it to be so. Instead, Jim is thunderstruck.
Wait, what? They don’t want to come?
Jimmy’ problem is that he actually has to UNlearn the way his father did it. The Lakers are no longer the only game in town, or the only attractive FA destination.
It’s been a long time since we were the only city with dancing girls at the games.
The new NBA landscape requires planning for the future, good GM work, scouting, coaching, timing, talent and luck.
The last of which Jimmy seems to be running out of.
The Clippers are in the worst spot a team can be in. They are first or second round and out every year with no chance to improve the team because they are capped out. Their best player is on the downside of his career and their super athlete can’t jump anymore.
Baylor Fan says
The cap is about to go up and the owner who liked to visit the players while they showered is gone. The playoffs are all about which are the healthiest teams. Rivers gets that and knows how to extend the careers of his stars. The challenge is keeping CP3 healthy and rested. With a better GM the Clippers would have better role players. As it is, they have a good chance to be the home team for round one and there would not be any shame if they lost to GS in round two. Ballmer does not accept mediocrity and is not afraid to replace people who are not productive. There is a whole new culture at Staples and it belongs to the Clippers.
lil pau says
My God. I’ve agreed with Aaron two posts in a row! This is the bizarro Lakers-season, indeed!
I think Aaron is absolutely right– the Lakers are closer to winning a title than the Clippers are— or, another way to look at it, the Clips are 1-2 years away from being our Pau-Kobe-Nash-Howard team, not good enough to compete for a ring and on the verge of a protracted, painful rebuild.
Calvin Chang says
Since we’re all just speculating here – what if… what if there really is some truth to the rumor that superstars don’t want to play under Kobe’s leadership? Phil Jackson himself mentioned this -during the pitch to Dwight, when Kobe told D12 that he planned to play a few more years, Phil thought Dwight checked out. I don’t think Jim can be blamed for that. It’s just what it is. Maybe the plan is to suck for 2 seasons, ride out Kobe’s contract, then start from scratch armed with a huge salary cap space enough to sign 2 or 3 stars, along with Randle, Clarkson, and Jahlil. Then the Lakers are back in business.
what if there really is some truth to the rumor that superstars don’t want to play under Kobe’s leadership?
Superstars don’t want to play on thin, capped-out teams whose best guy is 34 years old and just blew out his Achilles. Howard didn’t like Kobe, and vice versa, but I think the main reason Howard left is that Houston had a solid talent base of guys on his timeline, with a premier perimeter player in his 20s. Houston may never win a title with Howard and Harden, just like the Clippers may never win one with Griffin and Paul, but those teams win a lot of games and are relevant, which, if you are a player in his prime, is a far better situation to be in than playing for a team like the Lakers is.
As far as the “plan” you mentioned, that is the narrative Aaron has been pushing since preseason, and it is just another way that FO apologists in particular and Lakers fans in general are coping emotionally right now. At the moment, there is no surefire franchise anchor in this draft, the Lakers have only an 11.9% chance of getting the first pick in any case, (incidentally, Aaron has already predicted that Jahlil Okafor will be a bust), Julius Randle is still in rehab, and while one of the “2 or 3 stars” is presumably Anthony Davis, no one really seems to know who these guys that Jim talked about are or exactly why and when they would play for the Lakers, other than, well, because the Lakers are the Lakers.
The basic things to remember are:
1. Each big-time FA is an individual guy who will make his own choice for his own reasons, and no, not everyone is dying to wear the Purple-and-Gold.
2. Guys at the very head of an FA class who can get big money anywhere.will generally want to be on a team that can win a lot of games immediately and looks like it has a solid 3-4 year window.
3. The salary cap will go up for every team in the NBA.
Craig W. says
I guess some are glad my posting has gone down, but it gets so depressing reading drivel that passes for fact.
Players don’t like playing with Kobe because Phil Jackson says so??? When has Phil Jackson ever had a word that didn’t have an second meaning to get something he wanted? The type of players we need all want to play with Kobe – I doubt Dwight Howard was one of those, however.
We criticize the front office because they simply won’t tell us their strategy for improving the team…well, they won’t say what we are thinking anyway. Surprise, surprise! A front office won’t give away what they intend to do to the fans and other general managers.
It is a rough ride right now, but our team is learning to play gritty ball and to play together. That does say something for the players who are here and the coaches coaching them. I don’t always agree with the rotations, but I can’t fault a team who keeps on trying, even when they are mathematically eliminated.
Maybe we get a high pick this year and maybe not – luck of the draw and we have to live with it. Even if we get a high pick, it probably won’t help us next year and may even be a bust.
J C says
I read awhile ago that in a confidential/blind survey that Kobe ranked as the second least popular teammate in the league. (Can’t recall who was first.) So I think you’re right.
In fact I think the Lakers could have retained Dwight if Phil were rehired OR if Kobe had sold things better. But Kobe didn’t like Dwight, the Lakers didn’t want Phil, and that was that.
Kobe’s famous ‘Let me show you how to win,’ fair statement or not, would have turned off almost any self-respecting athlete.
But I think any prospective FAs now know Kobe’s almost done – and maybe a bit humbled by Father Time – and therefore wouldn’t shrink from playing here just because of Kobe. The team’s level of talent, or lack thereof, however, may.
And yes we can’t blame management for Kobe’s attitude during the Dwight pitch meeting – or can we?
If they had sensed Kobe’s real feelings about Dwight, why invite Kobe to the meeting at all?
That’s on management.
The gripe I have about the current FO isn’t about swinging for the fences with Nash or Dwight.
It’s about the dysfunctional lack of awareness and communication between management and the players that’s so plainly evident by the way Pau and even Kaman were treated here.
Marc Gasol is never coming. If the FO thinks he’d ignore his own brother’s exit experience here, they’re completely clueless.
Darius Soriano says
I’ve found that most complaints about the Lakers by its fans end up being focused on who that fan happens to not like very much. Be it Kobe, Jim Buss, Byron Scott, etc, etc. Fact is, the Lakers have a lot of issues right now and it’s hard to know how much any one thing matters more than another. My sense is that Kobe’s age and declining play matter as might his “personality”, that the perception of Jim’s inability to lead/make good decisions and the fallout of the deals this front office made (Dwight, Nash, hiring Scott) matter, and that some of Scott’s suspect coaching decisions combined with his “old school” approach might matter too.
All of these things are intertwined, though. One example: the front office hired Scott, Kobe’s personality matches perfectly with Scott’s and only encourages/enhances that “old school” style, and Scott seems unlikely to change/evolve as the league does. So, you can blame the FO for hiring or you can blame Kobe for helping to foster an environment where Scott’s style is reasonable, or you can blame Scott for not adapting/adjusting after getting fired from every one of his jobs for (seemingly) the same types of transgressions.
Anyway, I think my point at the top of this comment stands.
I want to expand on my bust prediction for Okafor. He is Kevin Love without the outside shot. He is very coordinated and has strength (for college) but won’t be able to score in the post in the NBA because of a lack of size and lack of leaping ability and quickness. He also will be one of the worst defensive big men in the NBA. All in all he will be an above average to good PF on offense if he can learn to shoot but overall he will be below average because of his defense. If he was white he would be picked around tenth in the draft. As is I think he will be picked around third. I’ve only seen him play for three to five minutes but you dont need to taste the entire bowl of soup… You just need one spoon full.
Before the draft I’ll watch a little of each prospect and have a report on everyone for you 😉
Re the Blame Pie:
There is reallly nothing to blame besides Mother Nature and the draft and salary cap systems. Kobe, Nash, and Pau got old and Dwight had a career changing injury. Most of the reason Nash and Kobe gut hurt was because of age. I would also like to add I’m equally saddened by the decline of Dwight as I am with the decline of Rose. These were two of the most exciting athletes in the NBA until injuries basically ended their careers as we knew them. They are now bad NBA starters at least judging by advances stats and the Aaron eye test.
Having said that… If there was no draft or salary cap the Lakers would already have their replacements on the roster even possibly before those guys even declined. The next wave of talent would be on loan to another team and when age and injuries ended the careers of the old guard the Anthony Davis’ of the world would be brought in.
With the system the way it is anytime you have an aging team their is a tough rebuilding process. That’s what the lakers are in now. There is really nothing the FO could have done to change any of this. If they decided to keep Dwight and let Kobe go while bringing in Phil Jackson the Lakers would have a sub par starting center who would be being paid the max and an aging coach who would most likely retire when he saw the player Dwight had become. The Lakers needed to tear it down and that’s what they did. There is nobody to blame here besides the NBA schedule that killed Dwights back and the bad Orlando doctors that originally Mis diagnosed his injury leading to the surgery. Btw… That’s another reason players want to play in LA. The medical care. OKC might have ended Durant after they operated several times on Westrbook instead of the once necessary.
Byron Scott is good at winning his team a chance at ping-pong balls, not much else. Even with talent his style, approach, and offensive/player rotations are generally very poor. In addition he doesn’t seem to be a developmental coach either, so he uses lots of vague generalities as feedback for his players (AKA calling them names, questioning their masculinity/toughness etc). This has been going on for years, well before he ever came here. That’s why I really didn’t think the Lakers were very serious about winning in the short run. It’s hard to imagine looking at Scott’s resume that he exudes winning. Thought I read he has the 2nd worst record ever for a Coach who has coached a thousand games.
It’s just a homer hire, stop-gap and with his Laker player resume, the fans won’t revolt quickly against him. If he wasn’t a former showtime guy, he would be getting trashed big time, and would have met tons of resistance when he was hired due to his coaching record. Calling out toughness endlessly is just about worthless. This squad wasn’t built to win much anyway, due to having 5 Power forwards and only one center on the roster. Only 1 true small forward on the roster. It’s not built right even if they were more talented. Its not as if the Lakers excell at small ball either, they only have a few decent 3 pointer shooters on the entire team. Spreading the floor with 15 footers is pretty much a joke.
Be prepard for another year of losing big time next season. Even if they get a couple of 2nd tier names to sign up. Not many fans really want to spend another year cheering for losses. As it stands now I’m not very impressed with the incoming draft class, I think it looks worse than last years. Plus, it seems that the Lakers are willing to try for Rondo, so they are likely dumb enough to sign him to a 4 year max contract. Even though he is one of the worst starting PG’s in the league. IF that happens, fans are going to have to wait until next decade for the lakers to make the playoffs again.
We criticize the front office because they simply won’t tell us their strategy for improving the team
No. We criticize the FO because
a) They have made some very questionable decisions.
b) They have put the two worst teams in franchise history on the floor in back-to-back seasons.
c) The future looks like it could be very bleak.
You can rant about the silliness of fans all day if it makes you feel better, but until there are clear signs that the Lakers are moving in the right direction, the criticism will continue, and, indeed, will get louder. As I have said a few times, successful decisions don’t need to be explained–like the decision to get Clarkson, which was a small move, but a very solid one. When you no longer feel the need to post stuff explaining what the FO is doing and complaining about fans, then that will mean the team is actually headed up.
And DS is right of course; it is all connected, and people here, including me, have certain people/situations that we focus on more than others based on our feelings etc. That said, it starts–and ends–at the top. The FO gave Kobe his deal, the FO brought in Boozer, the FO gave Young his deal, and the FO hired Byron, and as I said in preseason, all of those guys were and are known quantities before those agreements were reached.
rr – You really need to focus on your basketball knowledge and less on what Craig says. For a guy that contributes so much, you seem too obsessed with making sure you counter every single point he ever makes. Every. Single. Day. It gets tiring, particularly from someone as smart and knowledgeable as you.
P.S. This is a fan site. People rant all the time. Ko does it. Robert does it. Craig, JC, Baylor do it too. You also do it. No need to counter attack every day. Geez.
I appreciate the compliments, but I will focus on what I want to focus on. And if you are going to tell other people what to post, you might consider telling Craig to focus more on the team and less on angrily defending the FO and bagging on fans and other posters here. Every. Single. Day.
Well, if stars don’t want to play for Kobe that “problem” is solved or about to be solved.
Calvin Chang says
I will go out on a limb and counter the Aaron eye test. I think Jahlil will be an all-star. He will get stronger, smarter and improve on defense. On offense, he’s got good footwork and coordination. Kevin Love has 2 moves in the post. Back you down, hook shot going right. Or fading jumper which is much less accurate. Okafor has a ton of moves he executes easily. Up and under, spin, fake, right, left. He’s a guy you dump the ball in the post to, and he’ll draw doubles because he can score at a good rate with single coverage. His weakness is his FT shooting.
That’s why I love rr as I’ve stated many times before. He takes the time to correct everyone and everything. He doesn’t let anything go. That improves this site more than anyone and everythkng.
I agree he is more coordinated than Love and he is taller and longer. So yes he will be better in the post than Love… But only if he plays at PF (which will be impossible unless he can learn to shoot the three point shot or can put the ball on the floor). The reason I think I would rather have Love is because Love can spread the floor.
Calvin Chang says
Jahlil reminds me of Brook Lopez on offense. Brook is underrated because of his injuries, plus the Nets have sucked and his defense is suspect, but on offense Brook scores so easily in a variety of ways. He’s got so many moves, a feathery touch. If he gets the ball in the post, there’s a good chance he’ll score in single coverage. Come to think of it, if Brook is healthy, Lakers should think about giving him a max offer. He’s only in his mid 20s.
I don’t have the scouting eye of some here, including Aaron, but based on what I have seen, I’d probably go with Towns over Okafor from the Lakers’ POV. If the Lakers had a better team and already had some solid D upfront and a floor spacer, I might look more at Okafor. I have only seen Russell play twice and have never seen Mudiay, so I have no opinion at all on them.
My tone was overly snippy; sorry. But I pretty much stand by what I said.
the other Stephen says
^ aw, huggles all around.
T. Rogers says
How tall is Okafor really? He’s listed at 6’10” but looks smaller than that on the floor. How about his wingspan? The reason I wonder is because size affects how well front court players do in the post. Guys like Pau, LaMarcus, and Dirk have excelled in part because they are true 7 footers. And they have the length to match. It allows them to see the floor. It allows them to get off shots with less effort. It makes them difficult to cover defensively. Of course great footwork is key as well.
Okafor looks to be closer to 6’8.5″ or 6’9″. And his wingspan doesn’t appear to be that great. Against primary college defenders who are mostly 6’7″ to 6’9″ he looks like a beast. But what happens when he’s being guarded by legit NBA big men? What happens when he sees NBA zones where the help man is a 6’8″ Trevor Ariza or a 6’9″ Chandler Parsons. That’s on top of primary defenders like Gobert or Tyson Chandler.
In short, I just think he may be undersized. He definitely will be as a center. And to play the four he needs to add some range to his game.
wow, after all this time, the return of the “if the Lakers had kept Phil” meme!
Some ideas never die … after all, there are even to this day people who still think the earth is flat.
I guess it’s true PJ wanted to be offered the head coaching job, and lost an entire weekend over the ordeal (the horror of it all!), but let’s face it, he was done as a coach. He’s said as much since. Remember the comedy of “maybe he can coach part time”? awwwww, ‘cmon!
Calvin Chang says
Jahlil is probably 6-10 and a half. He should play 4. Maybe he can add a 3pt shot to this game to help with spacing. But he’ll be undersized as a 5. If healthy, I would offer Brook Lopez a max deal this summer. It’s a luxury to have a low post player you can dump the ball to anchor the half-court offense.
You need a great defensive player at the five. It’s such a big deal. That’s the only spot left where pkayers can’t stretch the floor so your center can still be in tbe paint and protect the basket. Lopez isnt great enough on offense to make up for the awful defense.
ESPN ranks the FO of every NBA team. I’ll save you the trouble of following the link. The Lakers are ranked 28th out of 30.
There is an accompanying article, with some interesting comments:
Dave Thorpe: In L.A., it’s hard to know who to blame, since ownership could be far more involved than we know, but there is no doubt the team currently lacks a plan.
Amin El Hassan, talking about team’s creating flexibility in their player contracts: I’d also throw the Lakers in the mix as well, and not just for vastly overpaying Kobe Bryant. Sometimes, it’s the subtlest moves that hamstring flexibility, for example, giving Jordan Hill a team option (worth $9 million) on his second year instead of giving it a delayed guarantee date. Both offer the Lakers an opportunity to be off the hook financially, but the team option removes the ability to trade Hill on draft day to a team looking to shed salary, as the option would be automatically picked up in that case.
Chad Ford: But those bad teams — the Lakers, Nets and Knicks — have so many resources and believe so strongly that their big markets will lure top talent that they’ve lost their ability to innovate. They tried to spend their way to a championship while the other teams above them (with the exception of the Heat) have used innovation to get there.
Calvin Chang says
Hmm… good point Aaron. If Lakers get Russel or Mudiay in the draft, maybe they can get Brook Lopez as the 4, and Larry Sanders or Javale McGee (at low price) to play the 5. I would explore signing Javale and / or Larry Sanders at lowball price. We’re venturing into a lot of hypothetical here…
If Lopez could shoot the three and move his feet in the PNR then that would be a great idea.
Calvin Chang says
Aaron – it does depend what kind of offense Byron plans to run. Maybe Byron doesn’t believe in stretch 4’s shooting 3s. If Byron runs his favorite Princeton / elbow play, there’s no stretch 4 needed. Also depends on what Kobe wants to do on offense. Does Kobe want to do mid-post? Shoot 3’s? Be Point Kobe and look to assist? Like I said, lots of hypotheticals… Wait. Are we talking about next season? Or this is assuming next season is another tank sucky season?
On a slightly different topic, this is March Madness after all. So, I’ve been noticing a few players in the NCAA tournament that could possibly help the Lakers, especially considering that the Lakers will have, if nothing else, at least a late first round pick (through Houston) and their own very high 2nd round pick. Among others, these are four that have caught my eye (one of whom isn’t even on the projected draft lists):
DELON WRIGHT, Senior PG from Utah, 6-5, 190
33.3 minutes per game
14.7 ppg (on 51.8% shooting overall)
36.1% 3-pt. shooting; 83.4% FTs
4.9 rebounds per game
5.2 assists per game
1.9 TOs per game
2.1 steals per game
1.0 blocks per game
KYLE WILTJER, Senior PF from Gonzaga, 6-10, 240
27.3 minutes pg
17.1 ppg (on 54.8% shooting overall)
47.9% 3 pt. shooting; 79.8% FTs
.5 steals; .6 blocks
RONDAE HOLLIS-JEFFERSON, Sophomore SF from Arizona, 6-7, 220
28.4 minutes pg
11.3 ppg (on 50.6% shooting overall)
21.4% on 3 pt. attempts; 70.3% FTs
1.1 steals; .9 blocks
T.J. McCONNELL, Senior PG from Arizona, 6-1, 195
30.1 minutes pg
10.1 ppg (on 50.2% shooting overall)
34.3% from 3 pt. range; 80.1% FTs
2.2 steals pg
Several statistics stand out — Delon Wright’s 4.9 rebounds per game as a PG in addition to 2.1 steals and 1.0 blocks pg and a very strong balance between offensive and defensive performance;
Kyle Wiltjer’s 54.8% shooting including 47.9% from 3-pt range + 1.9 asists (very high for a PF);
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s 6.9 rebounds per game + 1.6 assists, 1.1 steals, and .9 blocks pg, all of which points to an outstanding, all-around floor game; furthermore, Hollis-Jefferson is considered something of a defensive specialist and is usually asked to guard the other team’s best wing scorer; and
T.J. McConnel’s 6.3 assists (vs. 2.0 TOs — better than a 3:1 assist to TO ratio) + 2.2 steals per game; T.J. McConnell was the primary defender against D’Angelo Russell and was largely responsible for hounding Russell into a 3-19 shooting performance; some scouts consider McConnell to be one of the premier PG defenders in the NCAA; remarkably he is nowhere to be found on the projected draft boards.
There are, of course, other intriguing players who could be taken in the late 1st round and early 2nd round. These are just a few.
As a reminder, Jordan Clarkson was the 46th player taken in the last NBA draft.
Darius: “I’ve found that most complaints about the Lakers by its fans end up being focused on who that fan happens to not like very much. Be it Kobe, Jim Buss, Byron Scott, etc, ” Indeed. And we all feel justified n our positions including me. My positions are clear on all three. So hey – I like 66% of the list, which I think is above average for the board. I knew I was an optimist : )
R: “Well, if stars don’t want to play for Kobe that “problem” is solved or about to be solved.” Very true. And Byron is indeed an interim coach. However – what to do about the third point of the Laker triangle to which Darius refers?
We are talking about two seasons from now which is the earliest the Lakers will be competing for anything. And any real offense needs a stretch four (hence Robert Horry)
Aaron: Some form of salary cap has been around for three decades. And there has always been ways to exceed it including now. The Lakers have been over the cap legally for the better part of the three decades. We still could be, if we had a roster that justified it. We do not and it was not the salary cap that caused that.
Todd: Nice. As per your references, we do not seem to be fair too well in terms of how basketball writers feel about our FO. As for me, I am not even asking for the next coming of Jerry West. I simply want ownership to own (and not meddle with the GM), like is the case with 25 other teams in the league. I will concede that there are about 4 teams that ownership does meddle somewhat with the GM, but there is only one that I am aware of, where the owner is the top GM (Jerry Jones style).
Calvin Chang says
Robert: Do you have some insider information that confirms that Jim meddles? I honestly don’t know, so I’m asking. Didn’t Mitch K come out a few weeks ago, saying Jim defers to him, and they decide together? If that was fake, and Jim is doing Jerry Jones style ownership, then he’s doing a bad job. But we really don’t know, unless you have some inside source? And even if Jim was meddling, what do fans do? Throw eggs and tomatoes at him? I’m sure he’s been heckled already. They did make dumb moves like the JHill and Swaggy contracts.
Calvin: Inside information is not needed. Jim’s title is Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations. He gave it to himself. ESPN published lists earlier this year ranking the Front Offices and the General Managers There were only 5 teams whose owners even appeared on the GM lists at all. For example in Miami, Mickey Arizan’s son is involved in the GM role, but Pat Riley is the top guy. There are about 4-5 situations like that (Cuban being another). Jim was the only guy listed as both an owner and the top GM. He was listed in the same spot that Riley and Pop were listed in. I am not asking for much. Just be like Peter Holt and let others run the team. We have the legendary history, the Pacific Ocean, and the Buss Family has tons of money. The Spurs have none have that.
Robert: ” … what to do about the third point of the Laker triangle to which Darius refers?”
I’m afraid we have few options … become Spurs fans? … Kidding!
really!! Does anyone really think top notch players, even for max $$ are going to come here with scott as coach.