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.