It seems we are still feeling the fallout of the seismic shift in the Lakers’ front office. Whenever there is a power change of that magnitude, the ripple effects are felt throughout the organization and can sometimes take time to manifest. Be it firings or, as with Assistant GM Glenn Carraro before the end of the season, having staff step down, change begets change.
The Lakers saw more of that on Tuesday with a key member of their training staff.
After six seasons as the Lakers head strength and conditioning coach, Tim DiFrancesco resigned from the team today, sources tell ESPN.
— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) May 3, 2017
On Tuesday we wrote about how, now that the off-season has begun, it is a good time to remember that it is not only the players who need to make changes and improve for next season. The coaches and front office also need to find ways to take a step forward and get better in order to build the best Lakers’ team they can.
I won’t pretend to know whether DiFrancesco departing will end up being a good thing for the Lakers. At least one league source doesn’t think that’s the case, however.
League source on DiFrancesco's departure: "They just lost their best asset downstairs [in the training room]." https://t.co/m4cpYQQpQu
— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) May 3, 2017
DiFrancesco clearly has supporters. This past summer several of the team’s young players formed a “Breakfast Club” for early morning workouts led by DiFrancesco. Obviously credit is due to the players for having a hunger to improve and for putting in the work, but DiFrancesco was there every step of the way to help shape the tenor and tone of those workouts and to maintain buy-in. It speaks to his relationships with the players and their trust in him that they would turn to him rather than seek outside guidance on their off-season regiment.
That story also features anecdotes about DiFrancesco’s commitment, sighting the example of him traveling to Louisville last summer to work with D’Angelo Russell in order to avoid not missing workouts. Maybe that’s the norm across the league, but I believe it’s that type of connection with the players that cultivates a culture of work and trust which leads to positive results.
With that level of commitment, then, one has to wonder where things changed to the point that DiFrancesco determined resignation was the better option than staying on with the team. Of course we’ll never know the entire story, but as noted above and in ways which I would imagine mirror how Carraro came to his decision, there may have been some writing on the wall for DiFrancesco.
After all, consider that since the season ended we’ve seen Magic Johnson go on the record with comments about the players’ needing to improve their conditioning, specifically noting that too many players’ body fat percentages were too high. Beyond that, during his exit interview, Rob Pelinka discussed his desire to bring on a “wellness coordinator” who would oversee areas of the players’ health, including nutrition and sleep habits. Any person in this role would, seemingly, have to work closely with DiFrancesco who, over his six years with the team, has taken a big role in the nutrition of the players by promoting their intake of grass-fed beef, bone broth, and post-game chocolate milk.
I do not want to imply that DiFrancesco would not want to work with new people or that comments made by Johnson drove him away. I don’t know what has happened and unless DiFrancesco decides he wants to explain his reasons for resigning to us, we’ll probably never know the full story. That said, I think the above does highlight what happens when organizations make changes at the top of the decision making tree. Those new people have their own ideas about the direction of the team and when you’re evaluating your own position relative to that direction, you may not always see a match.
Again, I’m not pretending to know this is what happened with DiFrancesco. But, if that was the case, it would not surprise me.
What I do know, though, is that the Lakers just lost their strength and conditioning coach of six years. They lost a person with massive influence in the day to day operations and function of their players in areas related to their diets and optimizing how their bodies perform on the court. Finding a top flight replacement for that person is now a major priority. And, like we wrote on Tuesday, is an opportunity for the team to take a step forward and improve — even if, as the league source Holmes quoted notes, the bar was already high with DiFrancesco.
Tar Baby says
Not totally surprising – Carraro was a cap expert and DiFrancesco is conditioning…. Pelinka would have worked extensively with guys in both roles as an agent and probably wants to bring them onboard. Hopefully soon, so he can work with guys this offseason.
Certainly understand that new management wants to bring in their own guy. It should be noted that Magic said he wanted the players to be in better shape next year. Magic is pretty qualified to make that assessment since he played the game. Plus, if you’re going to prioritize defense you need the team to be in good enough shape not to take plays on that side of the ball off.
And it also should be noted that MJ’s comment is a direct swipe at the guy who was responsible for getting them in shape this year — so in that light DiFrancesco resigning is not unexpected.
It’s up to Magic/Pelinka to make sure that in re-making the FO, and now in hiring a new head strength and conditioning coach, that they are not throwing the baby out with the bath water.
Although some good people had previously left, I think all of them can be replaced with other good people both in house and around the league. But this is the first one to leave that I said whoa! With them being so specific about body fat and “wellness coordinators” I hope Magic and RP have a guy or group of guys in mind already.
A Horse With No Name says
I don’t eat beef often, but when I do, I prefer grass fed (actually, that’s the only beef I will eat). Anyway, I hope Magic and Rob know enough to let go a smart guy who understood nutrition well enough to get the value of anti-inflammatory 0mega 3s and make it a cornerstone of the players diet. I cracked up my college age athlete sons up by purchasing and delivering to them, a huge supply of pacific sardines packed in water. It’s a clutch go-to powerhouse of a snack, filled with Omega 3s. (But admittedly, a bit embarrassing for young guys seeking the company of the fair sex, to reek of sardines!)
Possibly, yet chocolate milk? The lactate fluid of cows, combined with sugar? Please !
A Horse With No Name says
It was grass-fed whole milk–rich in nutrients like omega 3s. It was a custom blend made by Whole Foods, low in sugar and made with real chocolate–also high in anti-oxidants. Pretty good way to get young guys to drink healthy milk.
Sorry horse and all for this off subject, however cows milk is a survival food which became big business. I research and write on this subject and and studied it for decades. Milk has nothing to do with human health, in fact the opposite.Think about it,.. What species is designed to live off the lactation fluids of another?
Dr. Spock says
Think about it,.. What species is designed to live off the lactation fluids of another?
Umm…What about human babies.
Of another ‘Species’! Don’t allow your fingers to type until your brain gets in gear.
Dr. Spock says
Once human babies are weened off mother’s milk we doctors recommend whole milk from cows for weight gain and vitamins.
Maybe it’s you that should think your post through before you type. Need to get away?
You can’t claim to speak for all doctors, if indeed any. Nature provides us natural ways to thrive. Unless you have some motivation, there is no point in arguing the fact.
Sorry Darius, and all Laker, NBA fans of this magnificent forum.
Clay Bertrand says
At least them Sardines could help keep your boys from becoming unexpected DADDY’s!!!!! Natural Male Birth Control!!!
The deed is done so what can be do but hope for an improvement in that area.
Though over the past 6 years, I can’t say whether or not DiFrancesco has been what we needed or not, but I can understand wanting a fresh start, a clean slate, for him and for the Lakers.
Whomever is his replacement, please let him or her address individual, and specific needs.
For example: stretching out Russell’s hamstrings, and building his hips so he can guard from the proper upright stance, and be a more effective on defense and driving to the basket. Also build his feet, ankles and calves, so he’s not moving like scarecrow when he does. Only then, along with stoking up a fire within,..will he reach his potential.
Good riddens the guy sucked and his methods caused more injurys than being in shape and strong .. in 6 years we lost all kinds of dumb worthless injuries and that’s all on him