The Lakers lost to the Raptors 102-93, falling to 1-4 on their current road trip. This, in and of itself, is not news. After all, the team was 3-17 heading into the game. Leaving 3-18, especially after playing a team over .500 in their gym on the second night of a back to back should not raise any eyebrows.
Kobe Bryant shot 50%, making 8 of his 16 field goal attempts en route to 21 points. He also added 8 rebounds, 4 assists and two steals. Statistically, this was probably his best (and one of his more well rounded) games of the year. This is news. We don’t need to rehash Kobe’s level of play this year, but shooting that percentage and cutting his 3-point FGA’s to 4 is worth noting as a true positive. Yes, he still led the team in field goal attempts and dominated the ball down the stretch, but those things aren’t really going to change much, if at all, this season.
The biggest news, though, isn’t about Kobe (or another L on the schedule), but the decision by Byron Scott to remove D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle from the starting lineup in favor of Lou Williams and Larry Nance, Jr. The decision was made this morning and did not involve a sit down with either player to explain the reasoning. When Byron was asked (both before and after the game) he noted that neither Russell nor Randle were playing poorly, but, rather, that the team has been. He cited their 3-17 record and noted there needed to be a change.
This reasoning, regardless of how you or me or…anyone, really, feels about it shows again where Scott’s mindset is. He wants to make a change because he’s tired of losing games. Similar to benching Nick Young (and, in this game, Brandon Bass), Byron wants to “try something new”. That involves switching things up and trying it. If you forget all the ripple effects that come with this sort change; all the interpersonal relationships/player management that can potentially be negatively impacted, you can understand what he’s trying to do.
Here’s the thing, though. If you make this change, you better be prepared to, you know, actually win games. You cite wanting to try something new and tie that to the team’s poor record, you have let us know what is most important. It’s getting those W’s. So, go get some. Against the Raptors that didn’t happen. Russell and Randle were part of a unit which helped go on a run that cut the deficit to 5 points in the final 5 minutes. They went out and the team lost by 9. It’s only one game, but this sort of tells me that this team has problems closing regardless of who is on the floor.
Again, though, this is only one game. Scott says this arrangement will last another 5 to 10 games, so let’s see how it goes. Let’s see how many games this team wins. Let’s see what these changes translate to. Russell and Randle both played about 21 minutes and they were okay (Russell) and good (Randle). If that continues and the team starts to win, folks can still complain, but it comes in the face of winning. No one really likes to complain about wins (unless you’re Philly – ZING!).
But, if they don’t win games, that’s going to be a problem. Because when you prioritize winning, when you decide that core players for the future can “learn by sitting and watching“, when you openly state (as Byron has in the past) that his #1 priority is to win, then you best win. You can’t end up 3-23 in five more games or 5-26 in 10 more games and say that this change was a success. You can’t even say it was anything but a shuffling of the deck and a (truly bad) misallocation of resources.
I can guarantee you if Scott’s rhetoric was that the team was going to ride with the young players — win or lose — and that their development through game action — win or lose — was his top goal, and then he executed his game plan and rotations around that concept, fans would accept what is happening. But by saying you want to win games and then de-prioritize the playing time of this year’s #2 overall pick and last year’s #7 overall pick, the wins better come. So, be careful what you say or people might actually hold you to it.
On one hand, you want to think Byron would be preparing for the future….but on the other hand..what is the future for Randle and russell….mid rotation players….maybe?
Definitely not future stars,maybe enough to package for a high level veteran two years from now.
Neither have one all star level skill, so in the grand scheme, Scott, Russell and Randle will be gone soon.
Preach DS! I hope mgmt will hold him to winning now since he is inexcusably deprioritizing player development. Still don’t understand Scott’s logic. Even if these “shake ups” improved this team from say a 12 win team to a 15 win team is that worth sacrificing Russell and Randle’s development? I think this move could end up dooming Byron as head coach sooner rather than later.
I liked some aspects of the change. First, the team has looked consistently horrible at the beginning of games, and the new lineup changed that somewhat. We had a good start. Second, I think we are stronger with Nance vs. Randle defensively. Third, I was happy not to see Bass at center, even though Sacre isn’t exactly a scorcher. Finally, I admit it – I just dig watching Heurtas play, running around like the veritable chicken with its head cut off, waiting for an opportunity to unleash one of those slick assists we saw in preseason.
That said, I couldn’t really tell why BS subbed for Randle and Russell in the fourth when things were going well with the 2nd unit. Not sure if Lowry went off because of the subbing, or the first-unit looked bad because of Lowry. Either way, some old result.
I would love to understand the thought process behind these changes. I’m assuming that Byron has some rationale for these particular rotations, but having Sacre play so many minutes makes it had to discern. From the outside, it almost seems like he’s just throwing lineups out there for X number of games to see if something sticks. Maybe he should try it on his Xbox first before doing it for real.
At least Scott changed it after Russell was trending downwards…. Oh wait…never mind.
Are you serious, bruh? Julius Randle is averaging 12 points, 9 rebounds and 2 assists per game in less than 30 minutes of playing time per game. Get out of here with that nonsense, dude! So, Randle, who is basically playing in his rookie year all over again, averages 12 points and 9 rebounds per game while not getting starter’s minutes, isn’t a future star? Oh, ok. LOL. He’s putting up numbers that most experienced NBA starters don’t put up, but he’s just a role player to you? As for D’Angelo Russell? The kid is averaging 11 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal in just 25 minutes of playing time per game. When Russell has gotten at least 30 minutes of playing time, he’s averaged 16 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds per game and is just 19-years-old. Looks like a future all star to me.
I must admit, this recent change in the rotation has caused me some real heart burn.
Have the Lakers been struggling at the beginning of games? Yes, on occasion. But I’m not at all convinced that the answer is to bench Russell and Randle.
The problem in doing so is that by bringing those two off the bench, you unavoidably end up diminishing their numbers (21:18 for Russell and 20:45 for Randle as opposed to the 30-33 that they had been playing). Furthermore, you end up taking away on court time with Clarkson; and these are 3 key players who absolutely must learn to play together.
In addition, neither Russell nor Randle finished the game tonight against Toronto. In Randle’s case, in particular, that was almost criminal since he was very possibly the Lakers’ best player tonight. Doesn’t it stand to reason that you should have your 5 best players on the court at the end of the game?
If Byron wants to make some changes in the rotation, here are some suggestions which I might offer (and which I realize may never happen):
1) limit Kobe to 25 minutes per game (as opposed to 32-37);
2) play Tarik Black at the back up 5 for 18-21 minutes per game; Robert Sacre is an emergency back up center and should never play 16:37 in a game;
3) start giving some burn to Anthony Brown who has been playing quite well in the D league of late and could very well be a part of the Lakers’ future.
This would maximize the minutes of all 6 young Lakers (Clarkson, Russell, Randle, Nance, Jr., Brown, and Tarik Black). Isn’t that what this season is all about, anyway?
So, be careful what you say or people might actually hold you to it.
Right. And if you don’t believe this, ask Jim Buss.
I go back to Todd’s succinct point about the FO trying to do too much. I think that applies to Scott here. If this whole mess is actually some elaborate Tanking Long Con, then, well, the Lakers are not only being duplicitous, they are also overthinking things. If we take Scott at his word, and this is being done to shake things up, get some more veterans on the floor at tip-off, get a few Ws, etc then he is, again, trying to do too much. Keep it simple: play Kobe, Hibbert, and the six young guys, cut Kobe’s 3s, try to move the other guys for anything you can get, and play them as needed, and then let the Ben Simmons ping-pong balls bounce as they may. If Scott can’t/won’t do those things, then replace him.
T Rogers says
They’re tanking. Not the players, but the main guys at the top. It’s clear the towel has been thrown in on this season. It’s a joke at this point
Let it be known that many of the Lakers poor starts have to do with Kobe dominating the offense with inefficient play. For example, in Detroit, during the 0-15 start, Kobe took 3 of 5 of the team’s missed shots and contributed 1 turnover. During the first 9 minutes of Kobe run, Kobe took 5 shots of the team’s 18 offensive opportunities (including FTs, excluding TOs), missing each. Three of his attempts were 3pters, 2 of which resulted in transition/semi-transition 3pt makes for Detroit. During the 12-21 start (through 10 minutes) against Indiana, Kobe shot for 8 of the team’s 22 offensive opportunities, making 1 shot for 2 points.
Mid-Wilshire, to answer your (rhetorical) question, benching Russell and Randle is not the right move. Kobe making shots is key to the Lakers not falling behind; however, he’s just not making shots and he’s taking a lot of them. This is all obvious though. Just another example of the seemingly contradictory nature of Scott’s comments.
Chris J says
Hey Byron — perhaps the awful play by the starting lineup (prior to Toronto) has more to do with the guy whose play has been way, way below NBA standards, and not the fault of the two young guys you just benched? Just a thought.
the other Stephen says
I respect you guys for being able to keep talking about basketball with some decorum, while my only contribution is this: http://youtu.be/YL42GI-X5WA
I think the shift of Russell and Randle to the bench is part of the tanking strategy.
It would have made more sense 5-8 games ago, but both players were starting to emerge as real forces (esp. Randle — consider his 18 rebound game recently).
Benching just one of them looks like punishment for no reason. Benching both of them gives plausible deniability for the cover story “We’re losing, so we have to shake things up.”
Frankly, I’m happy they’re not playing much with Kobe. When Kobe retires, the Lakers will probably hire run an actual NBA offense with ball movement and player movement. If the youngsters can get some experience playing that way now, it will benefit them in the future.
Devean George Forever says
On the bright side, we don’t need to worry about the Russell-Mudiay comparisons any more, here’s the season stats not including the Toronto game
Off Rating/Def Rating: 93/109 – 78/108
I find people making definite statements about rookies extremely hilarious, probably has a crystal ball
Kupchak weighs in…
I really don’t get these “tanking strategy comments” as the rationale for benching Randle/DAR. We already were tanking! So 3 wins is just too many?
Maybe they are hoping to somehow bump some trade value for L. Williams? I just don’t see how this line-up really helps us lose anymore than we already were. As the article points out it just amounts to more time “learning from watching”.
Honestly without Randle playing a lot of minutes I have little interest left in watching our “development” this year. Because we are going to be stuck watching “Development” AGAIN next year as well. This is no one year project underway. I’m just hoping by 2017-2018 season they have improved enough to really make a big impact.
Lakers #30 in the league in team assists per game. Pretty much the opposite of showtime. We don’t have anyone really running the show and our team offense clearly needs a system to help improve.
Thanks LKK for the link. I appreciate Kupchak taking responsibility but, I wouldn’t give BS a pass. I’m happy to see Bass not playing Center although I think he is a fine PF but, there is a huge log jam at the position. Something Kupchak should address. Sacre is an okay emergency Center although Black is a better option and I’ll throw in Upshaw as worth trying to develop in the NBA at this point of the season. Kobe’s minutes and 3pt attempts should be reduced. What I’m trying to get at is that the sorts of corrections fans are looking for are by and large fairly obvious. As Darius pointed out in his great article if you make moves like Scott has made with the declared intention of winning you better start coming up with some wins.
Jim C. says
What makes you think that Randle and Russell are mid-rotation players at best in the future?
They’re both effectively rookies and playing pretty well for that level of experience this year. Randle in particular looks like a future stud. In the month of December he’s been been averaging 13 points and 11 rebounds in only 27 minutes of work. That’s pretty damn good. If he works on finishing with his right hand and getting a consistent mid-range jumper then he could be an all-star for years.
Russell hasn’t been as good yet, but he’s still averaging 11 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists as a 19 year old learning the toughest position to learn in the NBA.
Check out the stats of John Stockton and Steve Nash =- both all time greats and much older when they came to the NBA – in their first three or four years in the NBA.
I definitely think it’s premature to be declaring that they don’t have an all-star skill level.
david h says
darius: looks to me like Byron Scott is trying to not get behind early and often in games in hope that the opposition will have mental lapse down the stretch and turn the ball over with a five second violation enabling lakers to win a game or two by default. this has already happened, resulting in two of the three laker wins. Scott’s apparent mentality is that the team is so poor performing that lightning needs to continue to strike in order to win games.
Scott, as enabler is largely responsible for poor performing lakers. who knows, lightning needed may strike where we need it most…..on to Minnesota.
It’s almost humorous that the declared intention is “winning”, one would normally assume winning is high on the agenda. I really hate the lies associated with losing on purpose for draft picks. Anytime a team/FO/Coach or player is trying to lose on purpose it destroys the integrity of the game (even if gambling isn’t involved). I’m sure lots of 76ers fans are disgusted as well, at least they are going all in on the youth movement–we are still being wishy washy.
TOJW @ 12:17am
I’ll second all that.
Marques, though it’s been said quite effectively several times this thread: Talent scout is not your forte; try anything, but that.
Curry averaged 10.9pts and 4.9ast over first 20games of rookie season. Puts perspective on DRussel. + steph was 3years older
Interesting. Wonder if (hoping) the NBA will hire an adult to oversee the Buss kids.
“Since the summer of 2014, NBA owners have been lobbying the league’s front office to step in with regard to the direction of the Philadelphia 76ers, sources told ESPN.com on Monday night. It was that effort that helped lead to the hiring of Jerry Colangelo to a senior position earlier Monday, the sources said.”
Besides the fact that Byron fails to see that Kobe is largely responsible for their poor starts we now have our top 2 picks coming off the bench while they are clearly outplaying the new starters. What bothered me most was the fact that we drafted Russell as the point guard of the future and now he’s playing off guard on the 2nd unit. Byron has 3 players not playing out of position. Bass as a Center, Russell as off guard, Kobe at SF and Clarkson back at PG when he’s supposed to be the Lakers off shooting guard. Last night the only guard with more that 1 assist was Russell and we wonder why we are last in assist when half the team is playing out of position.
Interesting. Wonder if (hoping) the NBA will hire an adult to oversee the Buss kids.
Unfortunately, the Lakers play by the rules with their stealth tanking. The 76ers openly mock the NBA system with their overt tanking — so they have no cover in this situation.
I read Mitch’s LA Times interview and obviously catch Byron’s comments in the media. Its a shame that their ring leader, Jim Buss, is no where to be seen.
It’s been said here previously and it’s true. Jim has been as horrible at his job as any executive in recent memory. If he was running a public company he would have been relieved long ago. Yet, the humiliation of past three years will be lessened if by failing, yet again, the Lakers are able to draft Ben Simmons.
Surely Jeanie has seen all she needs to see. Jim’s goal was a team with Kobe, Melo and Aldridge. People forget this part, Jim’s overall objective was to build a team with a two to three year competitive window!
How can she trust Jim to lead an FO charged with nurturing a potential Simmons, Randle, Russell and Clarkson core? Especially when that FO has shown zero basketball acumen in their off season decisions and personnel acquisitions for the past three years.
There is no justification for the B Scott fiasco. Dude is coaching himself out of the NBA, WNBA, NCAA, hell, even high school bball by now.
Mark my words. He will be gone by Xmas. He will be replaced with an interim guy. Team will try and get Luke Walton or Tyron Lue next year to work with the young core. With Kobe gone, no issue with either coaching.
Byron’s ineptitude as a head coach is beginning to be broadcast even in non-sports publications. Here’s a piece by Jack Moore. Word is definitely spreading. Do you think Mitch reads GQ?
The conflicting agendas of this season have led us to this point. As many here have pointed out, Kobe’s last season and farewell tour, trying to win and developing the young core are incompatible at best and impossible at worst.
Regarding last night’s “demotion”, I’ve long thought that the team and DAR would be better served with him coming off the bench, with the caveat being that he still saw at least 30 minutes a game. Kobe, Clarkson and Russ all need the ball in their hand to be most effective. That’s not going to happen with them all starting. I totally disagree with removing JR from the starting lineup. Julius’ hard work and skillset can’t be replicated by any other player on the team.
A poorly constructed team, a coach with conflicting agendas and limited imagination and a youthful core being used improperly. Ouch!!
Anti-Byron stuff is now kind of an internet cultural thing. It is clear from that GQ piece that the guy is a haterboy who knows jack about the NBA, but saying Byron is a clown is way to establish that you “get it.” That is one of the big problems with another Lakers site, which is run and dominated by a bunch of people in their 20s.
The group here is much more sober, knowledgeable, and even-handed, but Byron’s presence here still goes back to the FO. There is no way around that fact.
Thanks LKK, for the link.
I hope Kupchak follows through with his goal to make sure this years worth of development time for our core, is not wasted.
Thanks also bluehill for that article.
I agree, that in order to successfully rebuild via draft, a team needs to firmly, not hesitatingly, or stealthily, go for the tank.
This might actually be the perfect season to go for a tank. Kobe playing ensures that ticket sales will remain high at exorbitant prices. They just have to keep it simple. Trade or sit Lou, Young and Bass. Play all the young guys. Keep Kobe’s minutes around 25, shot attempts lower than 20 and 3s lower than 4. This plan allows the Lakers to develop their players and lose games while allowing Kobe to have his moments. It’s a win-win scenario.
I have to defend the Lakers front office and Jim Buss from some of the kvetching I see above.
What I see is a lot of Anything That Went Wrong is Jim Buss’ fault and Anything That Went Right is Luck (or Jeanie Buss’ competence).
What people need to realize is the decisions that led to where the Lakers are now were at the time they were made mostly sensible and reasonable.
It made sense to try to trade for Chris Paul
It made sense to try to combine Kobe and Pau with top-level veteran talent (and sacrifice late 1st-round draft picks to get it).
It made sense to hire Mike D’Antoni, whose offensive system is what the whole damn league is now trying to run.
It made sense to not tie up the salary cap by overpaying middling free agents so that max money could at least be offered to top-notch talent.
And, yes, in retrospect most of that has gone sideways. But the front office had no way of knowing that ahead of time.
Yes, they’ve a few blunders that seem like they should have been more predictable. They should have had more faith that the lockout would end and not let go so much of the staff. They should have anticipated how valuable 1st-round picks would become and how little cap space would mean under the new CBA. They should have “pulled the plug” on Howard/Pau/Nash sooner and tried to unload those assets for anything, before they departed with no compensatory talent coming in.
But these decisions tend to limit options. Assuming the Lakers knew Dwight Howard wouldn’t re-sign, how much could they really have received in trade? If the Lakers had put him up on the trade block, the league would have known the Lakers were desperate and low-balled the heck out of them. The following year, the best the Lakers were offered for Pau Gasol was a 2nd-round draft pick. So the Lakers were essentially stuck with hoping Dwight would re-sign.
Similarly, for all the complaints about Byron Scott’s coaching (and I share many of them), who else should the Lakers have hired? What does the Best Coach in The World do with the Lakers collection of talent and the Kobe Bryant Farewell Tour/Bad Shot Selection Exhibition that Scott hasn’t done? If the Lakers were 7-14 instead of 3-18, would it really make that much difference?
It’s a tough time to be a Lakers fan, and the impulse to find someone to blame for the Lakers’ woes is natural. But I think some fans have unrealistic notions about what the team could have done differently, given the circumstances they found themselves in.
Hank the tank says
Sadly one of my favorite showtime Era players has turned out to be a despotic, analytically challenged, and mostly unethical head coach. Allowing kobe to wilfully burn the staples center to the ground as a final sad act of his storied career, while actively polluting the young core we are painstakingly building is pretty criminal behavior. S.O.S.
Stealth Tank: If this is what is going on, given how many people both inside and outside the fanbase are speculating about it, then the Lakers FO needs to upgrade the “stealth” part. While anything is possible, I find it hard to believe that with the team at 3-17, the team’s decision-makers got together and decided that the team isn’t bad enough, and since Randle and Russell are starting to make progress, they need their minutes cut and to come off the bench.
The narrative has obvious appeal to Lakers fans, especially those who back the FO: as Andy Kamenetzky said, “stealth tank” is more fun than “bad coach” and “rudderless front office.” I have also seen that it has appeal to some people outside the fanbase, since it enables them to feed the stereotype of Lakers fans as being know-nothing Kobe worshippers and adds to their enjoyment of the Lakers’ predicament.
My own opinion is that in the wake of the disastrous Butterfly Chain coming largely from the Veto (Paul-Odom-Nash-D’Antoni-Howard—Kobe’s Achilles-Pau-Byron-Extension) the FO has been trying to be Dallas: a respectable team, anchored by an old HOFer, that rolls over enough cap space to bid on FAs. For many reasons, the strategy has not worked, and here we are.
@rr — The reason I attribute the JR/DAR benchings to stealth tanking is because no other explanation makes sense.
If JR is having problems scoring and his lack of shooting range is clogging up the offense, why do you replace him with Nance, who also has no shooting range?
If the offense is struggling due to lack of ball movement and the defense is suffering because of lack of containment on the perimeter, why do your replace DAR with bad defender/ball hog Lou Williams?
And why make the moves now as JR/DAR are starting to show signs of improvement? Why not five games ago when they were struggling much worse?
If you can offer an explanation why Coach Scott would make moves which, at best, merely preserve the status quo, I’d be glad to hear it. I suppose it could be because he’s just a “bad coach”, but this level of incompetence strains credibility.
These moves are necessary for the stealth tank because Philadelphia may only win 2 games this year. We need to be blank out the rest of the regular season and hope for a few brotherly love miracle games. Some seasons, 14 wins might net you the bottom pick. Other seasons, you have got to go full Bobcat to have a reasonable chance. Also, that shade to the “other” Lakers site.
My own opinion is that in the wake of the disastrous Butterfly Chain coming largely from the Veto (Paul-Odom-Nash-D’Antoni-Howard—Kobe’s Achilles-Pau-Byron-Extension)
rr: you forgot the decision that may have averted much of this firestorm. Jim’s decision to square-peg a round hole with Mike Brown. If you recall, Mitch wanted Rick Adelman, and was overruled by Buss. Adelman was a veteran coach and I think would have been able to effectively work with Kobe, Howard and Pau (and Nash, when healthy).
Adelman means no MDA and probably means no Kobe Achilles. Long story short, Adelman allows Kobe to bow out a more productive player and keeps the Lakers much more competitive these past three years.
That core Kobe, Howard and Pau would likely be winding down this summer. Even if Howard had resigned with the Lakers he would have still opted for free agency this summer. So, we would have been at the same place: the Kobe/Howard/Pau chapter closed with a ton of cap space heading into the Summer.
Now, of course we have kids to restart the rebuild (fingers crossed they are that good) but that parallel Lakers team, under Adelman, likely had some deep playoff runs with possibly a championship to show for it.
In my mind, the MB hiring was that bad.
True indeed D’Angelo and Julius were finding their NBA game, but their on-court ascension just might lead to unwanted wins. Truthfully, since the Lakers method for building championship teams via free agency was banned in favor of the tank now for high draft picks later, I’m okay with the 1st and 2nd-year rookie’s full onslaught postponed until next year with that year’s draft pick. Hopefully, it’s Ben Simmons. If not Simmons then Kris Dunn will more than do if the Lakers somehow fail to net the number one position in the draft.
Where Byron and the Lakers made their mistake, this season was inserting those players in the starting lineup from the start. Had the team started the veterans initially, they could have replaced the starters with the youngsters at this point, or, at least, prior to the all-star break. The problem with that scenario is the Lakers record would be a few games better, thus jeopardizing the Lakers draft position. What if Jim Buss’ decision to draft Russell a guy with beautiful shooting form this year was with an eye on next year’s draft class and specifically Ben Simmons?
Just maybe the Lakers have an archetype for the ‘next’ team model with five players that handle the ball and creates shots for themselves and others, rebounds both offensively and defensively, and can run and fill the lane. Visualize this lineup: Pg – Russell; Sg – Clarkson; Fwd – Randle; Fwd – Anthony Brown; and Fwd – Simmons. Since the center position is obsolete, there is no center. And even if the opposing team has a center this NBA model will run him off the floor, with Showtime Part Deux.
That lineup is eerily similar to I think it was Pat Riley’s vision of a team with an entire starting lineup comprised of players 6-7” or was it 6’9” and capable of playing any position on the floor. Of course, this lineup requires defensive mentor-ship to lockdown defenders and initiate the offense, so they should hire Meta as a defensive coach.
I opposed the Brown hire; I wanted Shaw (given how things went for him Denver, that might have been terrible) or Adelman. I think Brown was hired based on the idea that the Lakers would have Paul to “coach” the O and Brown would run the D.
Also, the Lakers actually had a pretty good year under Brown—41-25 and won a playoff series, although they were a little lucky (beat their Pyth by 5 games and Bynum stayed in the court all year).
Just for the record, I backed the Nash deal (with reservations) and loved the Paul and Howard trades. I also backed the D’Antoni hire, although I would not have had I known that Howard didn’t want him here. Most (but not all) of my complaints about the FO revolve around what they have done/not done since Howard walked and Kobe blew out the Achilles.
Also, I think that, probably because of your intense dislike of Kobe, you are making the situation less about the FO than it actually is. After all, Kobe is here because of the FO. And the Lakers’ FA strategy, which resulted in offers to Pau, Anthony, and Aldridge, actually does not really make much sense, in addition to being rooted in what seems to be an unrealistic set of organizational self-perceptions.
As to who else they should have hired, I would have gone with an unproven coach, either a college guy or a guy with NBA/international exp, rather than Byron Scott, and given him a chance to see what he could do. The Lakers job is not attractive in many ways, but the NBA is still the NBA and money is still money.
Finally, as to why Byron changed the lineup around if he is not tanking: 1) I think he saw the data about the Lakers’ poor starts in games and was reacting to being down 15-0 against Detroit. I don’t think he would see benching Kobe or even Hibbert as an option—Byron is a veterans-first guy. So, he probably thinks that watching to get the flow etc. will help Russell and Randle (and Randle played very well against Toronto). 2) I think in Byron’s mind, young guys need to earn it, pay their dues, etc…so they are the guys you change if you are 3-17.
I am not saying that I agree with it—I don’t. But I think that is what he is thinking.
Perhaps, but the Lakers were on pace to have the second-worst record in the NBA doing what they were doing. So if losing as many games as they can is the goal, I am not sure that benching Russell and Randle aids that. For all the ranting, the team played as well against Toronto as they had been otherwise.
Yemple ask yourself if Jerry West was there would he have gotten nothing for Nash, Howard and Pau.
Results are Lakers now have nothing.
I have no problems with BS trying to shake things up. As mentioned by others, I’m sure he has a good reason behind it. What’s bothersome about him is that he is not using the young talents when they could learn the most, i.e., 4th quarter close outs (not in a game that’s already lopsided and garbage minutes). Clearly, the veteran line up that we have is not good enough to go against the other teams’ 1st team, so then I would understand having the young guys go through the experience to learn and grow from it.
As a fan, I don’t mind rebuilding years and victory lap for Kobe in his last season, but really, there should be some balance between celebrating now and preparing for the future. I just feel like we are completely lacking in the latter with BS which is why it’s so frustrating to watch. Give us fans something to cheer for.
I’m sure we’ll have more gripes as we continue this path of tanking but we just want to watch some competitive basketball and not just pass to Kobe and have the rest of the players stand around and do nothing basketball for 30+ minutes.
KO, not to “defend” the FO, because they don’t deserve it now, but I think your characterization is a bit unfair. Pau and Howard left via free agency because they wanted to. They were both UFAs and any trade would have hamstrung the teams they would go to. It just didn’t make sense for them to facilitate a trade as opposed to signing as a free agent. I guess you could argue that Pau might have been traded earlier, prior to Howard and Nash, but that would have been questionable for anyone other than a Chris Paul caliber player (the aforementioned Veto). Nash was washed up. That’s why there was no “getting anything”.
Back to the Present, which gives birth to the Future:
I say roll the tank out into full view, and go head to head with Philly in battle for D’Angelo’s high school team mate, a player who wants to come to the Lakers: Ben Simmons.
Yeah, I don’t think there was any tanking on purposes with roster construction. I think they just did a horrible job of recruiting this offseason, and additionally did a fairly poor job of roster construction. Bass/Hibbert made sense for a short term attempt to shore up those positions (well assuming Bass was a PF). My big beef when it happened was Lou Williams, who I was not high on to begin with, he has never been much of a sharpshooter–plus he’s an undersized SG basically. He wants to shoot and get to the line, but he’s 6″1 and small on top of that and can’t guard anyone with size, and you end up having to switch in the NBA. So I saw him as yet another defensive liability on a team that was basically set to be pretty poor defensively accross the board. Plus we already had Swaggy who is a bench volume scorer, Kobe who jacks them up regardless of him not really being HIM anymore.
I would assume they knew they weren’t going to be too good, but assumed they would be better than this. But also they did pick Coach Scott, who spent the previous three years doing a horrible job of coaching the Cavs. Clearly, they were hoping for a Hibbert resurgence, and Kobe resurgence. My biggest frusration is IF Lou Williams doesn’t start playing ALOT better he is going to have about no trade value to us. And he’s 29, so he’s not really going to be around for when these guys are any good to begin with. 7 million may not look so bad under the upcoming contracts, but I dont’ think many teams are going to view him as a 7mill player regardless. So it looks like we are back to having no trade assetts (beyond the young guys I assume we want to keep).
Maybe there is a big Tarik Black trade in the works and they are resting his legs 🙂
@Keith & RR,
Keith I found your what if analysis interesting regarding Adelman.
RR, I too would have liked to see the Lakers hire Shaw at the time. He didn’t work out in Denver but, at the time he would have represented a continuation of the Triangle after Phil and also a continuation of the team. Changing coaches represented changing systems, changing players (or should have), essentially a 3rd team rebuild in the Kobe era. Given the circumstances I felt they were probably better off trying to extend a few more years of the Triangle with Shaw.
So it looks like we are back to having no trade assets (beyond the young guys I assume we want to keep).
This is an unspoken fear for many. There is a good chance the team we see on the court this year is the one we will see next year:
1) Losing our pick. We have a 45% chance of falling out of the top 3 even if we finish with the 2nd worst record in the league. (Can you imagine finishing with say 10 wins and not keeping the pick — it could happen).
2) This is a slim free agent market and as we all know no elite free agent will sign up for a multiple year rebuild.
3) As you noted we have no trade assets except for the kids and we can’t get better by dealing them
So the only way we get better, next year, may be through the organic growth of the kids.
Slight correction, NBA Draft odds of keeping a top three pick:
– Keep it = 64.3%
– Lose it =35.7%
2nd Worst Record
– Keep it = 55.8%
– Lose it = 44.2%
Bottom line is that there is a good chance the FO will piss off fans by tanking and then really piss them off by missing out on the pick. The FO has really painted themselves into a corner here.
I think there is a good chance this doesn’t begin to turn around until the Summer of 2017 when the kids have proven themselves (hopefully) on the court so that we can attract some real talent on the free agent market.
Yikes! I hate to agree with your assessment.
We could very well tank, finish the year with a top two worst record, and lose the pick. That would be very painful and would likely lead to Jim and Mitch being fired.
At this point we’re all thinking that Ben Simmons will save the franchise — it may not play out that way.
TOJW: “Anything That Went Right is Luck (or Jeanie Buss’ competence).” I have not seen too many singing Jeanie’s praises. And in your post, after you said this, you listed a bunch of FO actions that all turned out bad, So to what items are you referring when you say “Anything That Went Right”. I do agree with your point about “who else should the Lakers have hired?” and would ask – Who can we hire next? This is what happens when everything goes south and you paint yourself into a corner. As to your last paragraph = “I think some fans have unrealistic notions about what the team could have done differently” – Well actually some of us have been posting many of those suggestions on this very board both before and immediately after many of those actions you have listed. There are lots of things they could have done differently. Coaching selections, the Kobe extension, the overall handling of the Dwight Howard saga, the trading away of so many first round draft picks, the signing of extended contracts with Lou and Nick, and the driving away of every big man who has played for us in the past 3 years – just to name a few. Other than that everything is great and it is all the fault of Byron and Kobe (other than the fact that they are here due to the FO of course).
Re: Tanking and FO incompetence.
I thank other FB&G readers for their feedback.
I personally, wish the Lakers would have pulled the plug when Kobe tore his Achilles and D-How didn’t re-sign. That was the time to go into rebuild mode.
But once they decided to keep Kobe and try to build around him, their freedom of action was very restricted. They tried to lure top-notch free agents and when they couldn’t, they wisely didn’t sign Just A Guy-level players to long and/or expensive contracts. Of course, that left us with a lot of Kendall Marshall, Xavier Henry, and Carlos Boozer’s hairline.
It’s been an ugly few years, but I don’t think they could have been avoided. The FO made decisions which made sense at the time, and when they went sideways, those decisions limited what they could do going forward, and so here we are.
I like your optimism chearn, I just picture KD in browns spot.
Over the summer, I thought there was a good chance that Byron would start the vets. The summer league reinforced my belief that Russel and Randle would come off the bench. That would jibe with Byron’s desire to get wins, let the Kobe tour progress with Kobe playing with vets, and the rookies transitioning around the all-star break into starter roles. I think the choice not to take that path made things more difficult as you point out.
Also, I think the front office not only misjudged the impact of the CBA, but lost sight of the benefits of the TV contract. The CBA, as many have pointed out, pushes teams in the direction of draft picks and young, cheaper talent. The TV contract, however, allows teams to chase big dollar FAs as well. Those two together demand, in my mind, different strategies to appeal to the best players.
We’ll see how this plays out. Not one right answer, obviously. Hopefully the FO chooses wisely.
I think Yikes points out why a tank cannot be intentional. The odds of losing the pick is just way too high.
Lakers FO are secret admirer of Cleveland, Cleveland fired Mike Brown and Bryon Scott, Lakers hiring both of them, how many of NBA championship did Cleveland win? this is the last job of BS in the NBA. From the dynasty to the bottom of the West, thanks to Lakers FO.
I think that there were two possibilities coming out of the summer: (1) everything clicks and we win games putting us at number 9 or 10 in the West; or (2) nothing clicks and we are one of the worst teams. In lieu of (1) failing, (2) became inevitable. Going into the season, we knew of the high risk-low reward reality. I’m not sure that “stealth tank” is even necessary. We’re just really that bad. Byron Scott also mentioned about a week ago that the team needs to consider its pick for next year. I don’t know if that more than anything undermines this playing to win front that he’s projecting.
Additionally, many of the rotations that Scott is utilizing are dumbfounding. I realize that some think he’s ride or die with vets, but others have pointed out that Irving and Paul under Scott were given much longer leashes than Russell has been. Bass at Center. Black at nowhere. Kobe at 30+ minutes a game, iso after iso. People are want to attribute his coaching approaches to idiocy and whatnot, but I just don’t see it. He has coached historically bad teams, but they’ve also had historically bad rosters in the midst of massive overhauls.
I’m mostly just confused by him and feel there has to be a jedi mind trick in the midst of all of this. Once the losses started piling up, throwing in the towel just makes good sense for the franchise. So, doing the little things to encourage losses seems like one possibility. Or he’s a bad coach. Or both.
Simmons would be ideal, however there is also Skal Labisseire, Jalen Brown, Brandon Ingram, (not sold on Kris Dunn).
As far as the odds, 55 to 65% are fantastic odds imo.
Even if we lose our pick, I for one believe our current core can grow into a dangerous group, and with a few additions which we will have the funds to obtain, seriously compete.
I seem to remember that there came a point in time where Adelman withdrew from consideration for the Lakers’ job due to health concerns for his missus. I could be mistaken, though.
Nets beat the Rockets, so intentional tank or not, our 2nd position is a little more secure. Also, another reminder that I’m glad Dwight left.
It’s a long season…way too early to be counting on lottery picks.
Who knows if the team suddenly starts clicking after the ASG? In an 82-game season, anything could happen.
Mid-Wilshire I think this is kinda like Warrior fans talking about winning another chip. Sure it’s early but it’s fun to think about 😉
Wayy to premature to be talking about picks, it’s the first week of December!!! A lot can happen in the NBA and the NCAA before the Draft so i don’t think it’s worth at least my time going thru every single minutae regarding the Draft, i want the team to win, i dont give a flying rat about the Draft, if we go back to the lottery it means the Lakers failed that’s the bottomline, people here want the team to lose every single game so we MIGHT hold to that pick? Dream away that’s their prerogative but i dont root for loses, NEVER, all that talk about Simmons and whatnot is a pipe dream to me until there is a clearer picture after alll the basketball that is left to play is played…
It’s a long season…way too early to be counting on lottery picks.
Who knows if the team suddenly starts clicking after the ASG? In an 82-game season, anything could happen.
Not if the FO is smart and dumps every vet with value for future assets. Of course our FO is not very smart…
J C says
i think there is a greater chance that the Warriors repeat than the 55-65% chance that Lakers get a top 3 pick.
The Warriors’ season is already one of the greatest ever. Teams like this generally go all the way – barring an injury to a key piece such as Steph, Clay or Draymond.
Scott’s lineup changes are odd but could have been his misguided attempt to simultaneously mix things up just for the sake of change and also an attempt to give Russell minutes against the opposition’s second units, which could be a healthy thing. Randle’s inclusion here smells to me like a clumsy attempt to avoid offending Russell.
Unfortunately, like everything else this coach does, that’s a flawed idea when coupled with the team’s long-term goals of giving the young players max minutes.
I blame Russell’s lack of assists on the putrid non-offense Byron runs, Kobe and others shoot-first mentality, and Russ’s reluctance to penetrate and kick. But as many have pointed out, his numbers look very good when compared to the early years of Curry and Nash.
I do not think Byron is a good coach for Russell so far, and I don’t think Kobe’s swan song is helping anyone on the team besides himself.
Chris Kaman to Nick Young: I told ya.
I actually felt pretty good about the team over the summer. When Mitch said he didn’t expect the team to be this bad I take him at his word. I don’t think there has been a strategy of tanking.
As to Scott’s roster management reading ESPN headlines this one gave some perspective. “Scott benches Russell, Randle as they may play better when Kobe sits”. If you cannot pull Kobe from the starting line-up and you want to develop chemistry among the rookies this actually sort of makes sense.
Scott also has coached Bass before and has a lot of confidence in him. He has too many PF’s to find playing time for him there but he still has more confidence in Bass than Black or Sacre, well up until now. The Lakers also went all of last year masquerading PF’s as centers. Out of the bunch only Sacre is a true Center whom doesn’t draw much confidence from fans.
Dr Mike says
Byron paired DAR with Huertas (who needs the ball even more than DAR) when he had NYoung (team’s best spot up shooter) on the bench. That alone illustrates how much of a farce BS is.
david h says
note to Byron: if you follow your own logic in that you want to change the line up for the next 5 to 10 games (which will take us up to xmas versus the clips at staples); then why don’t you just start hibbert at center, bass at power forward; kobe at small forward, lou Williams at shooting guard and huertas at point guard? continuing with your own stragedy (misspelled on purpose) the 2nd unit should consist of Russell at point guard, Clarkson at shooting guard, a. brown at small forward, randle at power forward and since you’ve just gone this route; sacre at center. all other bench players can be subbed in in cases of foul trouble; fatigue and mental lapse.
Merry Christmas Byron Scott.
I can understand the logic of some of Byron’s moves. Yet I just don’t support him. He has ignored the obvious at times and instead circumnavigates the problem in a rather construed manner. I think he should be fired at this point.
The FO made decisions which made sense at the time, and when they went sideways, those decisions limited what they could do going forward, and so here we are.
Even if you absolve the FO for resigning a not proven to be healthy Kobe there are a litany of FO decisions that have been fails. I think the prime error was Jim’s hubris.
It’s time for Jeanie to just make him an owner and turn the Basketball Operations responsibilities to someone who has a vision of what the Lakers should be going forward, someone better suited to roster development (around that vision) and can select a coach to execute that vision.
The Lakers are a young team. But they were not the design of this FO — they are a fortunate plan B to the massive fails on the floor. I would have a different perspective on Jim/Mitch if their plan was building a young team for an eventual sustained run, but it wasn’t. Their goal was Kobe, Melo and Aldridge. Their objective was a capped out team anchored by a 37 year old, a 32 year old and a 30 year old. That is a disaster waiting to happen.
No, the Kobe retirement is a natural break — Byron, Jim and Mitch need to go. Bring in new leadership to nurture the kids and craft a clearer direction going forward.
Too early for draft talk, anything could happen?
Not if we purposely and seriously Tank.
You want to win now?
So do I, but unfortunately, we aren’t going to win enough to make any difference outside of losing our draft pick, thus it’s only logical to go for it !
There is a 35 to 45% chance we lose our pick?
Are you serious?
Any shot over 50% is smart to take, as you have a higher chance of winning, than losing !
For your own sake, and those around you, please stop being a downer.
Pessimists have more problems, bad relationships, higher rates of disease, depression, and die earlier.
Be an optimist and live life to the fullest!
The season can still be entertaining by trying all sorts of complicated and exciting plays to bring out the best talents of our kids, and to set up Kobe with fun shots.
Then in the fourth, if we are ahead, we shoot far bombs to improve our range, or clean our bench.
Let’s make the best, out of our situation!
* Stealth tanking.
* Then hoping for a lucky ping-pong ball.
* Then praying that that coveted pick actually becomes a serious NBA baller and not mediocre or worse. (We here at FB&G—I’m almost a decade-long lurker—have often whipped out the “superstar vs. disappointment’ stats for early 1st round draftees. Revisiting our prior forensics: odds an’t great we score big, WAY more meh than wow, etc.)
P. Ami says
I was out on Byron Scott the second I heard he was being interviewed. Everything he has said and done has confirmed my bias. So, I have nothing to add in terms of BS’ tactics, thinking, motivations, skills, etc… I don’t recall where I posted my desire to have the Lakers interview Walton. I did on this site. My thinking was very simplistic and idiotic. He was a smart player with excellent skills, betrayed by a body that could not handle the rigors of the NBA, long term. He was coached by some of the best coaching minds of the era. He had done some coaching himself, I believe. He is telegenic, he has a history with the club, his insights on TV sounded thoughtful rather than spoken for entertainment’s sake. He sounded a bit like 1980 Pat Riley to me and while that is a very generalized image to create of a man I know very little about, once again, time has shown that my bias can be confirmed. I think a coach needs to be adaptable, self-aware, understand people, know the game, and accept their role as a supportive leader. Coaches are a kind of role-player and I think they set the standard for how the team relates to their individual roles. Byron… Oh, never mind about Byron.
I just finished finals and I’ll actually be able to watch games without much to distract me. I may have something to say about the current team at that point. I like D’AR a lot. It will take him a few years but I see him as having some special skills that will translates as he gets repetition. I’ve seen some footage of him, now, where he does create space for himself off of picks. He was not doing that earlier. I’m sure he’ll get stronger. Speaking of stronger, Randal is fun. He is going to be fine. He works hard, he has a nose for the ball. He has a knack for getting the ball in the hole, dude can move his feet. He is strong as #$%. Is he a superstar in the making? I don’t know. I don’t care. He is a baller. There is something special about Clarkson. He wants IT. Or maybe He WANTS it. He is going to be a really nice, complete player in two seasons. That is a nice core but its not Harden, Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka nice.
I really hope we get the stud of this coming draft. If there is someone better than Simmons coming out, holy moly. I think I like him better than Wiggins, and I love Wiggins. KAT is amazing, and as a big he brings so much value; but Simmons might be good enough to make me want him over KAT. Simmons may be the best player available since The Brow. So, yeah I am enthusiastic for us getting the top pick. Having Four guys in your lineup with the passing ability of Simmons, Randel, Russell and even Clarkson will always be fun to watch and effective but, we aren’t there yet. We may never be there. Where we are is in a place where we aught to be watching our future develop while we say good-bye to a legend. Yes, Byron seems to be f-ing that up too.
Baylor Fan says
I do not get why changing rotations is such a big deal. It happens all the time for young teams. All a coach needs to do is talk to the players and explain what he is doing and why he is doing it. He needs to hear the player’s concerns and get their buy in. Byron is doing this, right?
I will ask the same question I posed last season: how many years do the Lakers need to “tank”? How will they know they got the “right” draft pick? Why on earth would you teach your players of the future to lose? I could accept that last year’s team did not have any players of the future once Randle got injured. That was wrong as Clarkson developed during the second half of the season. So, if they have three building blocks, why not put them in a winning culture? Why not teach them the defense and offense they will need to execute? At the current winning rate, the Lakers may or may not get a draft pick who will be a foundation for the next great Laker team. However, the Lakers will definitely learn how not to win games.
Darius Soriano says
You said “All a coach needs to do is talk to the players and explain what he is doing and why he is doing it. He needs to hear the player’s concerns and get their buy in. Byron is doing this, right?”
No, he’s not doing this, apparently. From Mark Medina this morning in advance of the Wolves game:
Baylor Fan says
Darius, thanks for the quote. In my experience this has nothing to do with being a big boy or a not so big boy. People need to know what it is they are doing and why. Even crusty old Popovich does this. If Byron were to use this approach, he might have better relations with his players and results on the floor. But, it looks like I am preaching to the choir.
Thanks for moderating the discussions. The comments here are way more civil than they are on other sites.
@Tsig, I too like Durant in place of Brown, great inclusion.
@Teamn, I believe I echoed you and others in starting the veterans over the rookies. Mainly because none of them are of the caliber of Magic Johnson capable of carrying a team mentally and physically in a regular season game let alone a championship game.
@KevtheBold, I watched the Kentucky v. UCLA game and Skal Labissiere was in foul trouble, so I didn’t get a chance to assess his game. I also saw him play in one other game for Kentucky but it wasn’t memorable because the opponent was weak and the game was a blowout. I forgot about Duke’s Brandon Ingram!
@J C “Randle’s inclusion here smells to me like a clumsy attempt to avoid offending Russell.” Bingo! During the game, I saw Russell laughing and playing with Bass on the bench while the Lakers were losing as if the demotion didn’t bother him. Meanwhile, Randle sat on the bench seriously watching the game and waiting for his opportunity to get in and assault the stat sheet. Benching Julius tells me much about him as a player, he’s turned it up in games and is separating himself from Clarkson and D’Angelo as the team’s pivotal player. Randle is growing on me as a player.
A ping pong with a 55 to 65% winning odds is NOT, your corner store lotto ticket.
If Vegas gave those odds, there wouldn’t be a Vegas, but a ghost town.
But you want a guarantee before making a move?
There is only one guarantee in life, that is of you don’t try, you are guaranteed NOT to win.
With regards to a Tanking season:
Who says the team needs to slack off?
Let them play their hearts out, try their best because it won’t make a difference.
This is a losing season !
What it does do, is take the pressure off the rookies and allows them to learn without that taint of feeling like a loser, which is what will occur regardless: Losing.
Some of you don’t want to face the facts, that we will not win enough to make a dent in an alluminum can.
So we might as well go for some goal which has a much higher potential return than pushing our heads into a brick wall.
david h says
darius: Try using seething and imbecile in a sentence as they were the words that surfaced that could be acceptable language when googling every four letter word known to mankind. So fed up doesn’t begin to explain the feeling one gets when reading the excerpt from mark medina’s discussion with Byron scott regarding the recently demoted Randle and Russell.
Sadly, this speaks to the organization and a slap in the face to laker nation. A 12 game win season seems inevitable. At least we’ll have that.
I read somewhere that Kobe has played more Christmas games than any other NBA player at 15 games. This streak is scheduled to continue this Christmas vs. the Clips. Christmas games seem to be almost always practically unwatchable in the best of times; so this one should be really “special”.
It is a coach’s prerogative to determine rotations and make changes as he/she sees fit. But when said changes defy all logic and reason and they come after a quarter of the entire season has passed (isn’t this one the main objectives of the pre-season?) then it should not come as a big surprise that the timing, the merit, in fact pretty much everything about this latest exasperating and nonsensical “decision” by Byron Scott have come under heavy fire. You combine this with his apparent lack of player communication, stubbornness, deafness/blindness to analytics, consistently playing players out of their natural position, inability/unwillingness to manage Kobe’s minutes/shot selection/playing style and you end up with the circa 2015/2106 Lakers.
This season feels so long already and the only bright spots have been the steady advancement of JC, Randle & Russell. And of course the farewell tour of Kobe “Bean”Bryant. But you know things are seriously amiss when you see in the headline that Darius posted above “Kobe plays well” since this year that has been a rare and fleeting thing.
Anyway just as the coach has the right to change rotations, determine playing times, etc so too it is not only the right, but the responsibility of management/ownership to relieve a coach of his duties when his actions are not furthering the development of the team. However, the latest comments from Mitch reinforce his support of Byron in general and his recent decision to bench Russell & Randle in particular. Please tell me this is the classic “vote of confidence” that often immediately precedes the decision to remove the person that management just expressed so much confidence in.And before anyone says that we need Coach Scott to be our tank commander I say BS. Recognize that this team is likely to finish at or near the bottom of the league with or without Scott and if not then so be it regardless of whether that means we lose our #1pick. It is abundantly clear that the Hinkie model which focuses on the accumulation of “assets” is flawed to the core. All it really does is develop an institutional culture of losing and treats players like inanimate chess pieces.
And since ownership cannot be “fired: I hope that ultimately Jeannie hires a top flight and likely younger GM. Mitch has been a great Lakers GM but I fear that the league has left him behind.This is perhaps unfair since it is not known whether he has merely been following Jimmy’s orders but he just strikes me as being out of touch in 2015. The new GM will hire a new coach å la Brad Stevens.
There have been many posts about how Kobe’s performance this year or rather lack thereof has been detrimental to the development of our young core and the team as a whole. And this is true enough. But what about the potential damage to Kobe’s legacy? Based on pure self interest alone does Kobe want to have his final season in a glorious 20 year career be one where he is the league’s worst in overall & 3 point shooting percentage?
This may be my longest FB&G post ever and I have consciously avoided posting at all for the past few days but the benching of Russell & Randle managed to get me out of my cave. A cave not unlike the one occupied by Col. Kurtz in Apocalypse Now where his words:
“I’ve seen horrors…horrors that you’ve seen”
Could just as easily be applied to this Laker’s season thus far…
Chearn, I like Randle’s drive and determination, yet it gets him into trouble time and time again.
He makes up his mind on a path then barges in blindly using brawn, versus taking the path that opens up as one moves.
Unless he overcomes that, he probably won’t be our team leader.
I also wouldn’t say the level of his dermination is higher than Clarkson or Russell.
They also have a keen desire to win, yet especially in Russell, that drive is more cerebral, than physical.
Let’s also not forget that Randle had to sit on the pine for a full season last year, which makes him highly adversed to doing so.
Lastly, I don’t agree that Randle’s benching was to keep Russell in check.
Both were doing well and were key in comebacks against opposing teams, thus it’s more logical they were diminishing the odds of a successful tank.
However, who knows what goes on in the mind of Scott?
I think your last post is an example of what I’m talking about. You seem to think that if a Nameless Someone has the right vision and executes on that vision, everything will go great.
So why did the league basically just force the 76ers to hire Jerry Colangelo? They have a vision. They’re executing on that vision…and they stink worse than the Lakers.
And why is it Jeanie’s job to get rid of Jim? Why is she exempt from the criticism of the rest of the front office? As near as I can tell, it’s because she is an attractive woman and because she’s linked to Phil Jackson, who (along with Jerry West) some Laker fans seem to think never made a mistake or had a bad season.
“Having a vision” works great if you draft Steph Curry who, five years after not being able to start ahead of Acie Earl, breaks the game of basketball.
“Having a vision” doesn’t work so well if you trade a broken Andrew Bynum, Josh McRoberts, and a 1st round pick five years down the road for The Best Center in The NBA…and that BCitNBA is hurt, refuses to run pick-and-roll with Steve Nash, and finally decides he’d rather be in Houston.
People don’t seem to understand that just because some decisions turn out badly that does not necessarily mean their failure was predictable in advance.
Yesterday, December 8th, was the 4-year anniversary of “the Veto,” a decision that did irreparable harm to the Lakers and seriously impacted a number of teams throughout the league (New Orleans, Houston, the Clippers, Dallas, and possibly others).
Below is an excellent article by Jovan Buha of the NY Post (the article originally appeared on Fox Sports), revisiting that event and analyzing the ripple effect of this most controversial of decisions. It’s objective, dispassionate, and well-written. Must reading.
Jim runs Basketball Ops and said himself in public that he is responsible for getting the team back on contention and will step down if he doesn’t. He has asked for an extension on his timeline.
Jim C. says
Re: On Tanking
I think the Lakers should absolutely be tanking this season going forward, but only in the RIGHT WAY. What I mean by that is as follows:
First off, let us understand that the Lakers are not going to make the playoffs. Period. That’s not a realistic goal and I think nearly everyone can agree on that. So what, then, should the goal for the season be? Giving Kobe a good farewell tour? Prioritizing the development of young prospects? Trading away anybody who isn’t in the team’s longterm plans who can bring back any sort of usable asset? Building a winning culture by winning a few extra games and therefore instilling the right mentality and avoiding becoming Philly 2.0? Maximizing our odds of keeping our draft pick and getting a SF or a C that we can build around?
Ultimately, the correct answer is a mix of MOST of the above. How much weight to give each one will inevitably vary by person, but all of the above are worthwhile goals in isolation. The problem comes with how you combine them when some are in conflict. Winning a few extra games to keep a winning culture and attitude goes directly counter to the goal of maximizing the odds of keeping our draft pick. So you have to decide what order you rank those goals above and which have synergy with each other.
To me, this season should be about developing the youngsters, stockpiling assets, and keeping the pick more than it should be about giving Kobe a nice farewell tour, winning a few extra games that likely won’t change anything. Fairly obvious steps that the front office SHOULD be taking.
1. Randle, Russel and Clarkson all start and they play a minimum of 33 minutes per game and down the stretch in 4th quarters.
2. Kobe comes off the bench and plays 20 minutes per game.
3. Trades should be explored for Bass, Young and Lou. If they can bring back any sort of draft pick or expiring contract, then do it. They’re all reasonably decent players if used right. So having them here runs contrary to what should be our goal going forward of winning as few games as possible, without developing a loser culture. As an added bonus, all of them are soaking up minutes that SHOULD be going to players that ARE in the team’s long term plans. (Or should be.)
The FO would likely have to lay down a hard directive to get steps #1 and #2 above to go forward, which means they’d have to show some actual stones, but it can be done.
The beauty of this approach is it pretty much gets you everything that everybody wants.
Kobe still gets his farewell tour, and maybe a better one by having fresher legs more often given how often his shots are falling short this year.
The team will still be absolutely terrible because A) Scott is an awful coach, B) The youngsters aren’t ready to get a whole lot of wins for us and C) You trade away veterans like Lou, Nick and Bass who might just be good enough to get a few extra wins and bring in D-League prospects like Upshaw. But, and this is key, the team will be terrible with the players on the court still trying their hardest.
Kobe will want to play well if he can to go out as well as possible. The youngsters are motivated to prove themselves and get better no matter what and will be energized by getting regular, consistent, major minutes with no more jerking them around. And any D-League prospects you call up will be fighting like hell not to waste their chance.
And, most important of all, the youngsters get every chance to develop, find their rhythm and improve.
So with just a few very easy and obvious steps, nearly everybody could have their cake and eat it too.
Jim C. for Lakers GM 2016.
Temple of James Worthy:
1) Look in your mind Jim is doing the best he can, many people feel that way. I don’t. I think the Lakers deserve better and I would prefer new basketball operations leadership.
2) Jeanie says the buck stops with her. She has said that Jim reports to her.
3) You make the DH trade but there were warning flags about him. How his stay in Orlando ended and his back were areas of concern. If you really wanted to keep him management needed to create an atmosphere where he and Kobe could both exist. (Mike Brown couldn’t even figure out what offense to run.) Its that reason that Jim should have brought Phil back — he was the only one who could have kept Kobe and Howard on the same page. MDA sealed Howard’s leaving and a million ‘Stay in LA’ billboards would not have changed his mind.
4) Having a vision get’s you a roster that fits and coaches that can coach. Having a vision enables you to lead free agent meetings because you have something to communicate. Not having a vision means you are a last minute attendee (Aldridge meeting) and have your sister (who claims not to understand personnel decisions) lead the pitches (Melo and Aldridge). Having a vision means you eliminate as many distractions from your team so you can focus on winning. The Lakers (I think Todd said this) are trying to do too much: win games, cater to Kobe, develop the kids and maintain cap flexibility. Not having a vision leads to consecutive 25-57; 21-61 and 3-18 records
T. Rogers says
So basically the 76ers have done an intervention. Colangelo is taking over as president of basketball operations and Hinkie is being pushed out. Colangelo is the guy whose vision and leadership brought USA basketball back to top. Now he will be leading the Sixers. I sure wish a similar takeover was on the horizon for our Lakers.
Jim C, for GM,….I second that !
I don’t like the NBA intervening in the Philly situation. While I’m not sure just how much influence and input the league office had in the hiring of Jerry Colangelo, any input at all is too much in my book. It just smacks of preferential treatment and collusion. Sort of like the veto.
T. Rogers- re: 76ers. yes exactly. Ownership concluded although three years later that a major shakeup was in order. We are now 3yrs into our botched rebuild. Wishing for a similar intervention but given the Buss family dysfunction not holding my breath.
Thanks for the link…a dark day in Lakers’ history for sure. If the main purpose of the Veto was to cut the Lakers down to size, it has been a success.
BScott is tripping let them play and get the needed experience. He is trying to save his job…really? You need players for that BScott! So how’s about we don’t play the journeymen and play ourselves right out of top 3 protected pick. I’m sure your smart enough to figure that out without me telling you. Now you accomplish a couple of things…. 1) You get a top 3 player in this year’s draft….see earlier note (One needs players!) 2) The youngsters need experience so we can win in the future… this requires vision and foresight which we seem to be lacking at the moment. 3) Might attract some big time FA who would want to play your talented young core. FA who want you know win championships and not care about all the business and commercial opportunities we have been trying to pitch them. So, BScott like I said I’m sure you know all this and that was your plan from the beginning….my bad bro!
P. Ami says
@ Baylor Fan
I totally disagree about the “learning to lose” idea. Byron Scott did not learn to win. He learned to play with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, etc…
Jordan was on some crappy teams and he managed to sneak a few titles onto his resume.
Durant spent time losing while in Seattle and once he and his teammates matured, they won lots of games. Nowitzki did not win it all… until he did. Bob McAdoo was not much of a winner until he teamed up with great players. Kobe and Shaq could not win… until they did. Obviously, Shaq and Kobe were never in the position of having to play with as little talent as the guys are dealing with on this team, but developing through adversity is not learning to lose.
Thats my two-cents. I actually wanted to address this because those thoughts actually came to mind earlier, even before I read your post. Must be something in the air.
1) If you want to replace Jim/Kupchack/whomever, that’s fine. It’s a results-oriented business and people get fired for bad results. But I don’t think bad results necessarily indicate incompetence.
2) If the buck stops with Jeanie, then Jeanie should fire herself. IIRC, she was the one who approved the roster and salary-cap-killing extension for Kobe. She probably had her reasons, just as Jim had his reasons for what he has done. If results are the ultimate report card and she’s the Person in Charge, then she should take at least some of the responsibility.
3) Bernie Bickerstaff, who did NOT want to coach the Lakers, went 5-0 with the exact same roster Mike Brown went 0-13 with. Mike Brown wasn’t the problem. The players telling Mike Brown to go [profanity redacted] was the problem. Similarly with D’Antoni. Maybe the FO should have seen it coming, but if D-How refuses to run P&R with Nash (the play that turned Marcin Gortat into a top-notch NBA center on offense) and Pau Gasol whines about having to take the same high-post jumpers he happily fires up for the Spanish National Team, I blame the players, not the FO.
Which PhilJax would you have brought back: 2009 PhilJax who joked how easy his staff and players made his job? Or 2011 PhilJax who was punching Gasol in the chest because Pau had tuned him out (as several other players admitted they also had) and quit playing hard? How do you know which version the Lakers would have gotten had they rehired him? It seems so obvious in retrospect because you’re comparing the Idea of Phil to the Reality of D’Antoni. You don’t actually know what would have happened.
4) Once again, having a vision only goes so far. The 76ers are the perfect empirical negation of your argument.
LeMarcus Aldrige wasn’t going to sign with the 76ers, or the Knicks, or the Lakers. Not because of the lack of vision, but because of the lack of roster talent.
What “vision” could the Lakers possibly have sold to LeMA that would have been more attractive than the San Antonio roster?
I understand your frustration with the past several Lakers years. I share that frustration. But I think FO failure is only one component of a very complex picture involving factors (the nixed Chris Paul trade, injuries, Kobe’s financial value to the franchise, etc.) which the FO could not control.
Baylor Fan says
Your are making my point for me. Jordan is a classic example of a player who refused to lose. He returned early from a foot injury so Chicago could make the playoffs much to the dismay of Reinsdorf. That team had zero chance of getting to the finals, yet Jordan was not going to let them go down without trying. What I mean by learning to win is playing a style that you eventually want to run with the team once you get all the right players in place. It does not necessarily result in wins but it does result in teamwork and players enjoying the game. These Lakers are sorely missing that.
Regarding Gortat… err really?
I think that speaks more to the lack of quality NBA centers than to the fact Gortat is a top NBA center…more like decent.
But I get the point and agree especially regarding DH12…all that talent and no go to post move…what a waste. He should be unstoppable but lacks the will and instinct.
What “vision” could the Lakers possibly have sold to LeMA that would have been more attractive than the San Antonio roster?
You’re missing the point. The Lakers really should not have been talking to Aldridge to begin with, just like they really should not have been talking to Anthony and offering him a max. That said, plan, I think, is a better word than vision, and since the Lakers FO seemingly has not had a coherent plan, they have, again, been trying to do much, and serve too many agendas.
As to Jeanie, she is doing what her dad wanted—giving her brother a chance to run the team. If she is interfering in basketball ops, then by all means, call her out. I think there is very little evidence that she is, whereas Jim has repeatedly said that basketball ops and the results thereof are on him. FO defense narratives pretty much begin and end with The Veto and with the org’s desire to get one more ring for Kobe and Dr. Buss. The rest is just stuff like speculating about Jeanie and accusing Pau of whining.
P. Ami says
I don’t know that I am making your point for you. I think each of our points have some overlap but maybe we interpret them differently. When I hear people talking about “learning to lose” I generally understand them to mean that if you are on teams that lose a lot, you wind up developing the habit of losing. This argument falls apart when looking at how much losing players who eventually won had to go through before winning.
I don’t think losing builds the habits of losing. Like you, I think one needs to learn how to play well with great teammates. Sometimes that involves a lot of losing. It is a little like the idea behind wanting young players to keep pushing the envelope, even if it leads to turnovers. By turning the ball over, the player learns what doesn’t work and then fine tunes their vision until they regularly make excellent passes.
I think we both agree that the players need to play and gain experience. One can gain experience in loses and still be able to convert those efforts into “learning to win”. That said, I’m not so sure our players are in the same position as Jordan was, insisting on playing time. They may well, and seem to, want to play and their coach is no cooperating. We don’t really know but, it looks that way to me.