Bringing Down the House

Pau Gasol and Mike D'Antoni

Pau Gasol and Mike D’Antoni

There is drama brewing in LaLa land, and unsurprisingly it is being played out in the media. This is nothing new. There has always been more media attention surrounding the Lakers. They are based in LA so by location alone the members are subjected to more media and paparazzi. I mean Kevin Durant is a super star, but how many people in the media are going to follow him to dinner in Oklahoma?

It is just the nature of the game when one is a Laker. However, this has resulted in things playing out in the public eye that should really be kept behind closed doors. Pau Gasol and Mike D’Antoni brought their feud back to the public forum this week. Once again Pau complained about being underutilized by D’Antoni, while D’Antoni publicly criticized Pau for bringing this issue to the media instead of to him directly. I am going to take a minute to let you all ponder the irony of that sentence.

Mike said that Pau needed to “keep it in house.” Again, I would like you all to take a minute to laugh about the fact that Mike is telling the MEDIA that Pau should keep their problems “in house.” Sometimes I chuckle at his stupidity.

The sad thing is that I do agree with him. Pau needs to stop complaining about D’Antoni in the media. The Lakers are a team and despite their record, they need to keep a united front. Listen, I agree with Pau. My readers know that I am not a D’Antoni fan. However, I am not a member of the Lakers organization. Despite my awesome insights, I am not paid by the Lakers. My opinions are mine alone. I do not represent anyone but me. Even Magic Johnson came out after criticizing D’Antoni, and vowed to stop because he felt it was unhealthy. Magic is no longer a player or owner of the Lakers, but he still represents them. He is free to make any comments that he wants, but he recognizes the power of his words and realized it wasn’t good to add fuel to the fire.

I came out against Magic for keeping is mouth shut. I understand why he did it, but I do feel that he is at a point where he can make those comments. However, I will respect his decision to practice his free speech.

Pau on the other hand needs to be careful. He is a free agent, aging, and has had some tough streaks. He has suffered more injuries and the league is moving away from big men. Therefore, he should not get a reputation for speaking out against coaches and management. Even the super stars who have done it have suffered. Williams has gotten the reputation of getting great coaches fired after doing it in both Utah and New Jersey/Brooklyn. Pau is not at the same level as Williams. This could damage his brand and contract options when he is negotiating with any team this summer.

The Lakers and Pau have said that they have not ruled out him returning next season. I personally think that is a long shot simply because of all the drama. I would love it if Pau came back, but I highly doubt he and D’Antoni will be able to weather another season together. The Lakers are going to have to make some big decisions this summer, so lets see where Pau and D’Antoni land.

Advertisements

Where is the Love?

I Love LA

It has been less than one week since Valentines Day. It is known as the national day of love for people in a relationship, or Singles Awareness Day for those who are not. Since the nation celebrated love (or resented those that did), there has been no love lost in Lakerville. Here is a recap of what has happened since the All Star Break: we traded Steve Blake, trade rumors have swirled regarding Kevin Love, Pau Gasol, and Jordan Hill, and the Lakers fans expressed their love by heckling ex-Laker D12.

I will take this blog in order and start with Steve Blake. I have mixed emotions on this move. On the one hand he has a decent sized contract and this move saves us money. He has also battled injuries and is streaky. However, the Lakers are lacking in the point guard position and he has been an overall bright spot this year. Going off of that point though, if I maintain that the Lakers need to lose this season, then trading him was probably a positive step. Either way Steve Blake is a class act and I wish him nothing but the best.

Moving on, I will discuss the trades that have not happened yet. The trade deadline will strike at midnight so the Lakers have only a matter of hours to make any last minute moves. Speaking of love, the rumor mill has been spinning with the possibility of Kevin Love coming to the Lakers. I have been very adamant about the Lakers making a play for Mr. Kevin Love. He grew up in Santa Monica and went to UCLA. He seems prime to come and I think he would be a good fit. However, he pointed out that Minnesota currently has a better team than the Lakers. I can respect Kevin for being classy and not wanting to act like some other stars and demand a trade. He is still a Timberwolf and needs to show loyalty while he plays for that team. Kevin is telling the truth, the Lakers are a bad team this year. However, we have a history of quickly bouncing back and he has been unhappy in Minnesota. I mean who wouldn’t be unhappy in Minnesota, have you seen that weather? It must be especially tough for a guy who was born and raised in beautiful Santa Monica. I believe Kevin will one day don the purple and gold, but I doubt that day is today. It seems more likely that he will be traded in the off season, which is all the more reason to rack up those draft picks.

Time to talk about my two Lakers that may or may not be wearing the uniform tomorrow: Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill. Pau has been the subject of trade rumors for years, and was even traded. He is a free agent and will leave us in the off season, and he should. The Lakers have not treated him well. This man is an all star and we have put him on the trading block every year. I understand that this is a business but they need to draw a line and either keep him or trade him. It is unfair to him to dangle him like bait every year and it reflects poorly on the Lakers. I love Pau and will miss him when he leaves, but since he will leave this summer, we should at least try to get something in return.

I believe Pau should be traded, but I am not sure about Jordan Hill. Again, I love Jordan and his energy. I am skeptical of any trade. However, I will defer to Mitch on this subject because Jordan is a role player.

Lastly, I want to talk about Dwight Howard. Full disclosure: I watched the first half of the game last night and then went to bed. It was a miserable game and I had no desire to stay up late watching Dwight’s highlight reel. I understand the Lakers fans are pissed that Dwight left us high and dry, but it is time to let it go. He didn’t do us any favors when he was playing for the Lakers and I understand he is putting up better numbers this year, but I still believe he never would have been able to produce them for us. He could not handle the lime light and pressure that comes with playing for the Los Angeles Lakers. Now he plays on a team with James Harden and Jeremy Lin. He needed to hide in the shadows of other players in a smaller market. We need a player like Magic, Kobe, and Shaq who not only embraces the pressure, but loves it.

I was disappointed to see how much we heckled him. Get your boos out in the beginning and then let it go. We are better off without him. Time to say good riddance and move on to Love.

Unlucky Number 7

Seven Consecutive Losses at Home

Seven Consecutive Losses at Home

In Vegas they say “Lucky Number 7.” As someone who just lost $20 in Vegas due to people rolling 7s (and whose brother Adam lost $100), I am going to say that number is not so lucky. It is definitely not for the Lakers who just made history for all the wrong reasons.

After blowing the OKC game, the Lakers set a franchise record. They have just lost 7 consecutive home games. They originally made history when they lost 6 because no Lakers team had lost that many consecutive games at Staples Center. Then they had to make matters worse by teasing us with a possible win.

They lead the game for 3.5 quarters. It was all Lakers. I was actually enjoying the game. Then the Lakers fell apart as Durant got hot. It was painful, mostly because I hate losing but also because I am recovering from the flu and can’t believe I actually stayed awake to watch that crap.

Mitch came out today and said that he could not throw games just to get a bad record and a great draft pick. After tonight I realized that he doesn’t need to, because the Lakers are incapable of closing out games. We will keep losing regardless of what moves he makes at the deadline. With that uplifting note, enjoy the All Star Weekend in my current city and check back in later to see if Pau is still wearing the purple and gold.

The D’Antoni Debacle

Magic Johnson Slams Mike D'Antoni on Tonight Show

Magic Johnson Slams Mike D’Antoni on Tonight Show

Magic Johnson came out this week and publicly blasted Mike D’Antoni and the Lakers’ management (see video at the bottom of post). P.S. I love you Magic! Of course since then he has apologized and promised to stop criticizing. Don’t worry readers, I intend to do no such thing.

I completely agree with Magic’s original statement. The Lakers made a huge mistake hiring Mr. No Defense and should have gone with the Zen Master. Well, unless Magic can live up to his name and go back in time, we can no longer look back, instead we must think about the future. The next two summers are going to be critical for the Lakers. I have already stressed my opinion that we should get a good draft pick this summer and make sure to leave enough cap space to go after Kevin Love in 2015. However, Magic brought up a critical part in recruiting free agents: the coach.

We passed up a coach with 11 rings for a guy who has never even made it to the finals. D’Antoni’s believes good defense is just having a better offense. The reason Jimbo hired Mike is because he wanted to bring back Showtime. However, Mike didn’t create Showtime, Pat Riley did. I am so amused that people around the league credit Mike D’Antoni for the Miami Heats’ style of play. Analysts say that he increased the pace of the game. I am sorry, but that is bull. Pat Riley coached the Heat and then put his protege in that position in order to become the GM. Pat Riley changed the league, not Mike D’Antoni.

The reason why the Heat are so good is because they are a force on both ends of the court. People say that the Heat took Mike’s offense and added defense. That just aggravates me. Everyone knows that the key to any championship team is a stellar defense. That is why the Dallas Mavericks shocked us all a few years ago. They were nothing special, but Tyson Chandler was a defensive force.

Magic complained about our lack of defense, and he is right, although Mike says he is fine with our defense (more aggravation). So besides needing a coach that understands one of the most basic fundamentals of basketball, we also need one that fits our personnel.

Dwight Howard left for two reasons: Mike D’Antoni and Kobe Bryant. Now I am fine with him leaving because of Kobe. Mamba has 5 rings and will retire with the Lakers. However, I am not OK with losing players because of a coach with no rings. Lakers fans have not warmed to Mike, and a lot of players do not even like him. Even Pau came out against him this year.

There is a lot of talk that we are going to go after Carmelo Anthony. I personally do not think we should. I think Melo is overrated and is one-dimensional. When he decides to add something besides scoring to his repertoire then I will reconsider. I also think that he is a New Yorker and I know how New Yorkers feel about LA. My mother still blames my father for “tricking” her into moving to LA more than 30 years ago.

However, I will play devils advocate. Lets say that Melo is interested in coming to LA. Does he really want to play for D’Antoni? They tried that in NY and that failed (miserably I might add). I actually think my family in New York dislikes Mike more than me.

Beyond the defensive deficiencies and the lack of player loyalty, I also think a huge part of the Lakers injury problem rests on Mike’s shoulders. I am not going to blame every injury on Mike. There are many reasons for the injuries: these guys are older, some had previous health issues, there is always wear and tear, and of course luck.  However, we have had two uncharacteristically injury filled seasons in a row. So I have to ask myself why are we having such bad luck? Well I do not think it is all luck or the other reasons I just answered. I think a huge part of the injuries is the fast paced offense.

Last year D’Antoni wanted us to score 120 points per game. For my non math readers, that averages to 30 points per quarter. He wanted us to run and gun. Keep in mind, last year our big 3 were made up of two guards in there late 30s and a center coming off of major back surgery. Seriously, how could making them run up and down floor like healthy 20 year olds seem like anything other than a fantastic idea?

To his credit, D’Antoni did adjust this year and say he would slow it down a bit. He still wanted us to run, but he wasn’t expected 120 points. We are a slightly younger team, but that kind of offense does take a toll. I will repeat, I do not blame him for all the injuries this year. I understand that injuries happen in the NBA. However, I do believe the offense played a role in a lot of them.

In conclusion, it is time to dump D’Antoni. Wait until the season is over and hope to God that Jeanie can work her magic and convince Phil to come back. Maybe since he finally decided to marry into the Buss family he will be a little more lenient in negotiations. Otherwise I will be happy to put together a post of all potential candidates. Because if we don’t bring in a coach that maintains the championship culture, the Buss kids will have truly disgraced their fathers memory.

Magic Johnson Slams Mike D’Antoni