Rumor Has It

Rumors-Logo-Small1I wasn’t planning on writing a new post today, but then this article showed up on my Facebook newsfeed: http://www.lakersnation.com/lakers-rumors-team-willing-to-trade-draft-pick-for-kevin-love/2014/03/28/.

I feel it is very important that I go on the record about my feelings about this rumor. First off, I would like to say that this is only a rumor. There were also rumors that Kevin Love was going to come to the Lakers at the trade deadline and that did not happen. I was completely on board with us making a trade at that deadline, but I am not OK with this possible trade.

We are positioned to get a top 5 pick. That is rare in Lakers history, and this is a historic draft. I am not on board with us trading a potential superstar to another team so that we can rent Kevin Love for the year and then hope he stays. We tried that already, remember how that turned out?

I will admit that I supported the Dwight Howard trade, but those assets we traded for him were not nearly as valuable. Also, he was demanding a trade for a year, so Orlando was unlikely to let him reach free agency. Unlike with Dwight Howard, there is a very real possibility that Kevin Love becomes a free agent and or stays with Minnesota.

The Lakers have the opportunity to get an all star two summers in a row (hello new big 3). Instead upper management feels pressured by Kobe. Seriously? NOW they feel pressured? This is not the first time Kobe has expressed his opinions about the management, and there are easier ways to appease him.

One of my lessons my teacher taught me in Negotiations, is to find the things that cost you nothing, but mean a lot to the other party. Kobe was not just complaining about the record. He was complaining about D’Antoni, not being consulted on major moves, and transparency. Those problems are very easy to fix.

First off, fire D’Antoni this summer, which it appears that the Lakers already plan to do. Next, apologize to Bryant for not giving him a heads up about trading Steve Blake. While Kobe shouldn’t have a definite vote on players, he should at least be made aware of the trades before it hits the media. Next, organize regular meetings with him to discuss the status upstairs. That will also help with the transparency issue. Lastly, develop a relationship with Kobe. Dr. Buss was famous for taking his players out to dinner, especially Magic, but Jim has not done this with any of the players. Jim needs to have a better relationship with his superstar. This will make Kobe feel appreciated (with his ego, $50 million only goes so far), and it will decrease the likelihood of Kobe lashing out in the media.

If the Lakers take those steps, I guarantee that they will see a much happier Mamba. I understand that Kobe will not be “happy” unless they are winning, but if you keep him involved in the process and explain the path, he will be more patient.

Trading the potential new face of the Lakers is a huge mistake. I personally believe that Kevin Love will be sporting the purple and gold. However, I also felt that way about Dwight Howard which just goes to show that you shouldn’t gamble on something unless you are prepared to lose.

 

Throwback Thursday: I Told You So

Just Dance

Every time I see someone in the NBA/Lakers community essentially repeat something I wrote in my blog, one image comes to mind. I think of the episode of “Will and Grace” when Grace does the “I told you so” song and dance.

told-you-so-ohttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Auxn2VAdiKI

I think I relate to that moment so much because like Grace, I too have a Jewish mother who relishes in always being right (anyone who has ever seen her license plate knows what I am talking about).

Recently I have been posting to Facebook to engage in the literary form of the dance. Now I have decided to instead just post in my blog anytime I am proved right. This blog will be continually updated anytime I write something and then someone else in the community confirms it. So let’s get started:

D’Antoni Not Being Phil

“It is no secret that I am not a fan of D’Antoni. I have made my opinions about his coaching ability very clear on this blog. However, the cards were always stacked against him and I am not just talking about the injuries. Once there was a possibility that Phil Jackson could come back, no other coach would suffice.” – State of the Team 3/10

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 5.29.15 PM

 

 

 

 

Brand

“The reason why I am hampering so much on Phil Jackson is simple: brand. The Lakers brand has suffered a massive hit. Most NBA teams do not have a brand, but the Lakers do. Players have always wanted to play for the Lakers because Jerry Buss established a winning culture and used the tools of Magic Johnson, Pat Riley, Shaq, Phil Jackson, and Kobe Bryant to establish the brand.” –State of the Team 3/10

Magic Johnson's Tweets

Injuries

“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.” – The D’Antoni Debacle 2/1

“Vitti’s best guess was a kind of chaos theory, that the contemporary game had become too fast, and that the run-and-gun systems espoused by coaches like D’Antoni introduced too many possibilities for things to go wrong.” – Ben McGrath of The New Yorker 3/25

I TOLD YOU SO

Plagiarism?

I tease of course, but his article is eerily similar to mine. Read and compare:

https://nwaksblog.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/state-of-the-team/

http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-79592695/

Kevin Love

“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.” – Where is the Love? 2/20

“The word is Love will either re-sign with Minnesota or head to the Lakers, which sounds more plausible,” Frank Isola of the New York Daily News 3/5

Firing D’Antoni

“The decision was made not to fire D’Antoni. This may come as a surprise to my readers, but I agree with that decision. There is no point in firing D’Antoni right now. There are 2 months left in the season, and there is no chance for redemption at this point. Let him finish the season out and then get a new coach.” –State of the Team 3/10

“I had a source tell me last night [that] Mike D’Antoni is gone at the end of the season,” Steven A. Smith 3/12

“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.” – Bringing Down the House 2/27

“Since much of Gasol’s frustration stems from coach Mike D’Antoni and a system that utilizes Gasol largely away from the basket. At least two other players frustrated with their current roles were told to be patient because the Lakers will have a new head coach next season, sources said, but that could’ve been simply to mollify them for the time being.” Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher 3/11

Pau Gasol/Carlos Boozer

“It’s unfortunate that the Lakers and Bulls couldn’t work out a sign and trade deal with Pau for Boozer and a draft pick. Chicago could have dumped Boozer’s contract and I honestly would have had no problem with us taking Carlos Boozer for one year plus a draft pick.” –East Coast v. West Coast: The Battle Between the Lakers and the Knicks, and a Free Agency Update 7/12

“The Los Angeles Lakers have acquired Carlos Boozer on amnesty waivers…The Lakers won with a bid of $3.25 million…The Bulls must pay Boozer the remaining $13.6 million that he is owed in 2014-15 on the final year of his current contract.”- “Source: L.A.’s Boozer bid $3.25M” By Brian Windhorst http://espn.go.com/los-angeles/nba/story/_/id/11229606/carlos-boozer-join-los-angeles-lakers

Waiving Steve Nash

“I want to criticize the Lakers for waiving Kendall Marshall. I liked Kendall despite some of his deficiencies. Also, he was making less than $1 million this year, so I cannot comprehend why we decided to waive him for financial reasons instead of the injured 40-year-old point guard making $7 million. I am sorry but those numbers do not add up. Steve Nash will not play more than 30 games this year, and that number is extremely optimistic. I personally do not believe he will play that many. I would expect maybe 20 games at the most out of him, and he will be playing limited minutes. I do not understand why we did not waive Nash.” Why Lakers Fans Need to be Prepared for Another Tough Season 7/26

On October 24th Steve Nash was ruled out for the season for his back injury

 

stephen-colbert-told-you-so

COACHella

question_makrs_cutie_mark_by_rildraw-d4byewlNow that Phil Jackson is officially off the market (pause to hold back tears), it is time to evaluate the coaching free agent market. I have taken the time to look at who is available and have come up with a few options that I think could work in LA. I am not going to list these coaches in any particular order because I believe the Lakers need to decide the direction they want to go in before they can pick a coach. A lot of this will depend on the draft pick, Kobe Bryant, and which free agents they wish to pursue.

This post may seem premature since Mike D’Antoni has not been fired yet. There are good arguments out there to let him coach next year: paying 3 coaches at once is costly and ridiculous, and we should wait to get a coach after we see what players we have. However, Kobe has made it pretty clear that he no longer wants to play for Mike and already has a lot of issues with management, so it would probably be within their best interest to fire Mike before Kobe goes on a negative PR spree again. Also, we do need to sign free agents this summer since we currently have only 4 players on contract. Two players the Lakers will pursue have no interest in playing for D’Anotni: Pau Gasol and Carmelo Anthony.

I have stated multiple times that I hope we resign Pau and do not go after Melo, but ultimately the Lakers do not listen to me. It appears that Kobe wants Melo so they will at least give it a shot, but now that shot seems even farther away with the Knicks acquiring the Zenmaster (sniffles).

All in all, I believe it is within the Lakers best interest to get a new coach this summer. Now without further ado, here are my top choices:

George Karl:

The Lakers have stated that they want to bring Showtime back. Well Coach Karl would do a much better job of doing that than D’Antoni. Unlike D’Antoni, Karl believes in defense and was able to do a pretty good job of relying on other players to make up for Carmelo’s defensive deficiencies. Also he was able to take a team of nobodies and get them into the playoffs, unlike D’Antoni. Coach Karl knows how to deal with big egos and keep his team in line. Most importantly, he just won Coach of the Year. I was shocked that Denver fired him. I think he has the type of reputation and personality that the Mamba will respect. I love the fact that he can mold a team based upon its talent. There are some issues of course: Mamba running at high speeds on those injured legs, Karl’s health, and the LA factor.

I have criticized D’Antoni for 2 years regarding his fast paced offense, so I would be a hypocrite not to bring it up with Karl. However, I think Karl runs it better than Mike. I am not completely sold on the idea of such a fast paced offense, but if Jim Buss is as stubborn as he as thus far proved to be, he will pursue his vision for recreating Showtime.

Another issue is Karl’s health. He is a cancer survivor but not much is really known about his current condition. He is very private about his health, but that is something we would have to keep in mind. Lastly, we have to figure out if he can handle LA. D’Antoni has not been able to handle the pressure from the fans and media (remember his tirade about fans rooting for another team). It takes a strong personality to survive in Hollywood. Coach Karl had great success, but in a small market. Denver is a smaller city and the pressure is not as big. I personally think he can handle it, but with his health he may not want to enter the lion’s den.

Jerry Sloan:

Sloan is a coaching legend. He has coached the greats and is a Hall of Famer. I cannot say enough great things about the man. His issues are very similar to Coach Karl’s. I am not sure he wants nor has the patience for LA.

He spent his career in Utah, which is extremely different from LA. I think Kobe would love the old school personality of Sloan, but he may come off as prickly to the rest of the city. Lakers are celebrities in this city, and the great coaches know how to play that role. I love Sloan but he is someone who I could see freaking out at the paparazzi for ruining his meal. People either love or hate LA, and I fear he may be the latter. I think he has the potential to be a great LA coach, but only if he really wants it.

Kurt Rambis/Brian Shaw

Picking one of these coaches would appeal to the fans nostalgic side. It was a brilliant move to bring Kurt in as an assistant to soften the blow of hiring D’Antoni. When the Lakers initially hired Mike Brown, fans were furious. Everyone was expecting Brian Shaw to take over when Phil left in order to keep the triangle going. Instead the Lakers did a complete overhaul (look how well that turned out). If management decided to go back and make the decision that fans originally wanted, it would help appease some of the hatred that has been targeted toward the Buss kids and make Kobe happy.

There are issues to consider with these options as well: Kurt and Brian have not been terribly successful in that position (or being offered that position), and a lot of players have a lot of trouble understanding the triangle. I understand the confusion around the triangle; I have been watching the Lakers run it for years and I still could not fully explain it. My recommendation is to bring in an expert as an assistant: Luke Walton. He would make a great coach and understands that triangle as well as Phil Jackson. Additionally, adding another former Laker to the coaching staff would make fans happy.

The best thing the Buss kids can do is take the Lakers back to its roots. The brand is in trouble, but bringing in blasts from the past will remind the fans why they love the franchise and players why LA has always been the best destination.

I have very different reasons for liking each of these coaching options. Each coach takes the Lakers on very different paths. Now Jim and Jeannie Buss need to decide which road to take.

Getting on the Buss

Jeannie and Jim Buss (I take no photo credit)

Jeannie and Jim Buss
(Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

It looks like I am a bit of a trend setter. After my post on Monday, a slew of writers have followed suit in writing scathing articles about Buss and Co. Additionally, both Kobe and Magic got on the criticism band wagon.

I am not going to focus on what the writers have been saying since they have basically been rehashing what I said, so instead I am going to focus on Kobe and Magic. I am not focusing on them because they are saying anything extremely different, but because their voices are actually heard.

I am going to start with Magic. If you recall, I voiced my disappointment in his decision to censor himself. Now I am going to rejoice because not only is he criticizing, but he is essentially quoting me:

Magic Johnson's Tweets

In case you all did not read my post on Monday, that is exactly what I said (minus the love part for the Buss kids). I am happy that Magic decided to speak out, not because I think it is healthy to kick a team when it is down, but because the Buss kids have shown their reluctance to listen to reason, and there are certain people out there that are hard to ignore. Magic is one of them.

Now, I am going to talk about Kobe Bryant and his extremely candid remarks. He talked about his disappointment in letting Phil get away (again you can look at my previous post), his lack of faith in management, and D’Antoni’s lack of direction. I agree with almost everything he said (clearly). Jim and Jeannie need to get it together and decide where to take the team. Bill Plaschke wrote a very similar article to mine and published it the next day, however he took it a step further (http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-79592695/). He suggested that the Buss kids sell the team because they simply cannot work together and live up to their father’s legacy. This is a possibility that they should consider. If they are going to be unwilling to bring in smarter people to help them make decisions (a la Phil Jackson), then the team will eventually plummet and Lakers fans will turn to the Clippers. I gagged writing that last sentence.

I cannot stress how much it hurts that Phil is about to sign with the Knicks. My family is from New York, so now I am going to have to endure the taunting from them for managing to do what the Lakers couldn’t. Not only has Jim Buss hurt me by hurting the Lakers, but now he has hit me on a personal level.

It is pretty clear how I feel about Jim and Jeannie, and now it is extremely clear how Kobe feels. I appreciate him stepping up and speaking out against them, even if it goes against my philosophy of keeping things in house. Based on Kobe’s remarks, it sounds like he has spoken with management at length about how he feels, but they aren’t listening to him. The fact that they traded Steve Blake without giving Kobe a heads up is a low blow.

Obviously I love and support the Black Mamba, but I have one point that I need to bring up and dissect. He was adamant that he did not want to go through the rebuilding process. He said that he had no patience and wanted to compete next year.

I only partially agree with Kobe. I stressed in my last post that we need to hold out and spend our money wisely in 2015, however we still need to be a “good” team in the 2014-2015 season. In order to entice the big names, we need to show them that we are not a rebuilding project, but only a couple of pieces away from a championship. Therefore, we need to use our pick wisely, and sign some solid people to one year deals so that we are a competitive team. We need to make it to the playoffs next year. This year I stressed against being a mediocre 8th seed, now we need to reach for that goal. We are playing different games in the next two summers. This summer is about the draft and next summer is about free agents.

Kobe loves Carmelo Anthony and I am sure would love for him to come to the Lakers, however you all know my strong opinion about that move. Besides, that might be a moot point now that the Knicks are getting Phil Jackson. That was a great move to keep Carmelo, and another example of a reason why the Lakers failed.

I am confident that Kobe will not be thrilled this upcoming season, but he might get one wish. Lakers insiders have been reporting that management has been telling Kobe and Pau that Mike will be fired over the summer. Since it has been reported that Kobe has “no interest” in playing for him next season, he can at least take some solace in that fact. Here’s to the Lakers paying 3 coaches next season because Jim Buss has proven his failure to pick a good one or sign a willing great one.

Since all reports indicate the Phil will sign with the Knicks, I will be posting about future coaching possibilities. Stay tuned.

State of the Team

Staples Center 2008 Photo Credit: Me

Staples Center 2008
Photo Credit: Me

A lot has happened in Lakerville since my last post. The Lakers suffered their worst loss in franchise history against the Clippers. Because just doing one of those things isn’t bad enough, they felt they had to do both in one night. This of course forced Lakers management to order an emergency “State of the Team” meeting. After deciding not to fire D’Antoni, the Lakers suffered two more humiliating losses before showing a glimmer of redemption on Sunday by beating the Oklahoma City Thunder.

I am not going to say much about the Lakers franchise crushing loss. I simply refuse to dignify their play with a response. If the Lakers aren’t going to show up and do their job, then neither am I. I would also like to point out that those players are paid millions of dollars to play whereas I do this for free.

Moving on, let’s talk about this elusive meeting. The decision was made not to fire D’Antoni. This may come as a surprise to my readers, but I agree with that decision. There is no point in firing D’Antoni right now. There are 2 months left in the season, and there is no chance for redemption at this point. Let him finish the season out and then get a new coach.

It is no secret that I am not a fan of D’Antoni. I have made my opinions about his coaching ability very clear on this blog. However, the cards were always stacked against him and I am not just talking about the injuries. Once there was a possibility that Phil Jackson could come back, no other coach would suffice. I am convinced that if even Pat Riley put his hat in the ring, Lakers fans would still pick Phil. He is the greatest NBA coach of all time and the fans love him.

This brings me to my next point: the possibility of Phil going to the Knicks. The rumors have been swirling all weekend that Phil is going to join the front office of the Knicks. I am personally hoping that this is just a negotiating ploy directed at Jim Buss, but if it isn’t then this is a heartbreaking possibility for Lakers fans. Phil was willing to come back last year and coach if Jim Buss would give him some minor ownership and other measly demands.

Jim Buss is an idiot. What did Phil do after negotiations fell through? He proposed to co-owner Jeannie. I do not know what their pre-nup will look like but I have to assume that while they are married he will enjoy some of the benefits that come from ownership.

I am currently taking a negotiations class and the biggest lesson my professor stresses is: do not get into high stakes negotiations with family. Guess what Jim? That is exactly what you did and now the Knicks are probably going to pick him up instead of the Lakers.

Another lesson from my negotiations class is to look beyond the basics of what you are negotiating for, and see what the other person values. Phil clearly wants power. This is a man who literally sat on a thrown when he coached. Jim wants a championship and the love of the fans like his father had. These are important elements that each person could help the other fulfill, but there is a key player that is not being used: Jeannie.

Jeannie has managed to finally get that man to put a ring on it. She has substantial power and can probably offer Phil certain things that Jim can’t. For example, she can use their future pre-nup in negotiations.

Ideally, this is the deal that I see for the Lakers. Phil comes back next season and coaches. We work out how many road games he attends to make him happy. Additionally, he picks his protege. Whether its Kurt Rambis, Brian Shaw, or someone new and that person serves under him for one or two seasons. Then he passes the reigns to his protege and helps manage in the front office. This idea of mine is inspired by the Pat Riley move in Miami.

This is a “State of the Team” blog, so I am going to address all facets of the team. The reason why I am hampering so much on Phil Jackson is simple: brand. The Lakers brand has suffered a massive hit. Most NBA teams do not have a brand, but the Lakers do. Players have always wanted to play for the Lakers because Jerry Buss established a winning culture and used the tools of Magic Johnson, Pat Riley, Shaq, Phil Jackson, and Kobe Bryant to establish the brand. It is a very Hollywood team and each of those people embody a different element. However, the brand and culture seemed to die with Dr. Buss.

Jeannie has a reputation and no one likes Jim. This is a huge problem. Not only do players take issue with management, but they also now dislike the coach. D’Antoni has now established a reputation of under utilizing and angering big men. This league is currently devaluing big men all around, however, that trend is dying out fast. I did a little research this weekend and saw that the number one pick is a center.

Once the league realizes their value again, Mike will be irrelevant. I already think he is, but soon the rest of the league will as well. We need a coach that we can do some brand restructuring around. Phil Jackson is an easy choice. He is beloved and no one questions his credentials. He also knows how to handle the fans and media, in other words, he doesn’t tell fans to root for another team if they don’t like his coaching. I have compiled a list of other possible candidates but that will be for a later post if necessary.

The last part of the need for a brand worthy coach is recruitment. D’Antoni just chased the best center in the league out of LA and Pau will leave if Mike stays. We need a coach that players want to play for and will pick over other teams.

We have two very big summers ahead of ourselves. The summer of 2014 will be known as the “Summer of the Draft.” It is a historic draft and we are poised to get a top 6 pick. The next summer is the “Summer of Free Agents.” I know fans and Kobe Bryant want us to put a championship team together this summer. Well, I am here to tell you that that is simply not a smart move. We need to put together a competitive team, but a team with fluidity because we need to save our cap space for 2015. The free agents this summer are not great, and Carmelo Anthony is not the Messiah. I would strongly discourage us from going after him because he is not worth the cash.

If we wait until 2015 then we will have a slew of potential options. We are not putting all of our eggs in one basket. If Kevin Love does not work out, then we can go after Hibbert, Rondo, or any of the other free agents. I know I am going to take some hits for mentioning Rondo, and believe me, it hurts to think about, but we need to be open to all possibilities.

I know that this is a lot to absorb, and quite frankly a lot of it isn’t the happiest. We all want a quick fix but that does not seem likely. This may seem like a big turn around from my last post, but I did indicate in that post we were a couple of years away. Also, when I wrote that blog I did not anticipate the worst loss in franchise history or Phil Jackson on the verge of accepting another job. These developments have changed things simply because I don’t trust Jim Buss’ judgement. I hope we can get Kobe that ring in his last year, but the Buss kids are going to need to put their egos aside and get down to business.

Throwback Thursday

Yesterday Kobe came out and discussed next season. He said the Lakers will come back with a vengeance and that he will remember all of the people who doubted him and the team. This made me think of another time the Lakers made a major come back. Exactly 1 year ago I watched the Lakers come back in enemy territory.

Abi and I after the Lakers game

Abi and I after the Lakers game

March 6, 2013 appeared to be a major loss in the making. My friend Abi and I managed to score awesome seats in the Hornets arena to watch them take on the Lakers. We were pretty lucky since we were in an area that was mostly filled with Lakers fans, but the game itself was disastrous. For 3 quarters the Lakers got their asses handed to them. Hornets fans rejoiced and taunted us.

Since we are true fans, we decided that we would wait until the 9 minute mark to see if they could cut down the lead. Sure enough they did. Then we said we would reevaluate at the 5 minute mark. Before we knew it the game got interesting. We were cheering and having fun. The Lakers were made the fourth quarter come back and managed to win the game.

Scoreboard of the Lakers Victory

Scoreboard of the Lakers Victory

Kobe’s remarks reminded me of that game because all hope appeared to be lost, but then out of no where they made me believe again. That is the beauty of this organization. No matter how dark things can get, they manage to bring back that beacon of light.

I am not sure that they can make a championship turnaround in one season. I think it will probably take 2 or 3, but my hope is not lost. I believe in the Black Mamba, and I believe in the Los Angeles Lakers.

I would like to add one little side note before I go. Happy Birthday to the Big Diesel and have fun watching the Lakers vs the Clippers. Here’s to hoping we get that win.