There is no better indicator of a season gone awry for the Lakers than what was experienced over this past weekend. On Saturday the playoffs started and rather than participating, the Lakers found themselves at home for the 2nd straight year. This, the fallout from a season that saw them lose their most games and post their worst winning percentage in the history of the franchise.
Getting to the post-season used to be the natural result of whatever type of year the Lakers had. If it was one of their better ones, they were angling for a top seed in the conference and home court throughout the playoffs. If it was simply an average one, they were still in the hunt for home court in the first round or two.
Today is a far cry from that, but I’m not here to eulogize the team. We know they were bad. If you read excerpts from the team’s exit interviews, they know they were bad. No sense in really chronicling it too much more (though, of course, we will eventually).
Speaking of the exit interviews, that’s where we’ll begin our fast break thoughts while also getting into the playoffs, free agency, and the draft:
*While the players always have some choice quotes, my favorite soundbites typically come from Mitch Kupchak. He is, after all, along with Jim Buss, the architect of the team and is usually a straight shooter (though he can be purposefully vague when he needs to be). Below are a couple of key quotes from Mitch from his sit-down with the press.
On free agency:
We don’t want to use our cap room to win 40 games, which this year doesn’t even get you in the playoffs. You work hard to create a future whether it’s with draft picks or the opportunity to make a trade, and you don’t want to give it away just because you have it. But you do have to weigh anticipation and your fans wanting to see some improvement. It’s not to say the only player we’ll spend our money on this summer is a max player.
On the decision to play Clarkson:
His development was slow in summer league and training camp, but with Steve Nash and the veterans we had we paid more attention to him. When we got into 2015 and it was obvious the season wasn’t going to go how we wanted to go … Byron and I had some discussions, and Byron put him in the starting line up.
*Ryan Kelly is a player who takes a lot of criticism among some Lakers’ fans. Some say he’s not a player in this league and doesn’t belong. I disagree with that notion, believing that he can be a rotation player if he’s used in a way that maximizes his strengths. That was not the case this year and Kelly, in his exit interview, said as much when discussing how much small forward he played:
They knew all along that wasn’t exactly what was best for me, but that was what was needed. I think I’m going to train to be a stretch-four. We’ll bridge that gap (to small forward) if we come to it.
*Jordan Hill’s session provided some interesting points, but none more so than his comments on Byron’s desire to see him play with more energy and the disappointment that came from it not really happening:
Byron wanted to see more energy out of me this season that I didn’t show. He was praising me last year about my energy, and he just was disappointed he didn’t see that (same level). I agree with him. The first month I was showing the energy, but the first time having all these minutes on my hand, I started feeling myself getting tired and fatigued. I tried to pace myself a little more, and the energy started to slide off a little bit. It was a different environment for me and I wasn’t used to it. But now I’m used to it so I feel I should be a lot better next time.
Which leads me to this:
Weird. That's what D'Antoni said would happen, but… You know. Whatever. AK https://t.co/wd1xbEdHHo
— Kamenetzky Brothers (@KamBrothers) April 16, 2015
*I have long assumed that most of the big name free agents will not leave their current teams. Ramona Shelburne thinks LaMarcus Aldridge may defy that line of thought.
*Some random thoughts on the playoffs:
- If there are two series you need to watch every second of they are Spurs/Clippers and Warriors/Pelicans. The former is a match up of two teams who probably shouldn’t be playing until the conference finals. The latter is a match up of two of the more unique — and best — players in the league in Steph Curry and Anthony Davis. Both those guys are worth the price of admission and their teams just happen to be playing each others.
- Playoff LeBron is also fun to watch.
- While I do not like over reacting to Game 1’s, the Blazers are in trouble of Aflalo cannot play and if Batum continues to be the same guy he was in the regular season. Dame and Aldridge need another wing to space the floor and provide scoring punch to escape the grind of the Grizz.
- Derrick Rose doing Derrick Rose things will always bring a smile to my face. Seeing him close to full speed and getting to/finishing at the rim is a joy.
- Just like the Blazers need Batum, the Mavs need Parsons. Carlisle is an excellent coach that can scheme his way to good offense with his assortment of pieces around Dirk and Monta. But Parsons is the guy who needs to hit shots and show his all-court game to give the Mavs the edge. If he can’t, Harden’s offensive brilliance and the interior defense from a healthy looking Dwight look like a lot to overcome.
*We’ll have more to come on the site in the coming days and weeks. Including a call for additional writers as we head into the draft and free agency. Stay tuned.