Ding Dong Jimmy’s Gone

magic-johnson-calls-out-jim-buss-just-say-you-made-mistakes-2015True LakHer fans will notice that I have somewhat recycled my blog post title, but it was too fitting not to reuse. After years of torture, Jeanie finally fired her brother and Mitch. When I wrote my blog earlier this month, I thought we would have to wait until this summer to see this moment. However, Jeanie realized we needed new blood to get us through the trade deadline. Kudos to her.

My jubilation is mostly focused on Jimmy, but Mitch has proven to have questionable judgment so I am glad he is gone too. The Lakers needed a clean slate with new management. This opinion was only amplified after Bleacher Report released this scathing article about Jim and Mitch. This article outlined all their questionable decisions, but the worst one by far was the Chris Paul trade. It was revealed that we could have traded Andrew Bynum for Chris Paul without Stern vetoing the trade. However, Jim Buss refused because of his obsession with Bynum. I didn’t think I could hate Jim more, until I read that piece.

Twenty four hours after this article was released, and Jeanie finaly made the right decision, even if it took her “too long.” Now our legendary Magic Johnson will replace Jim Buss (talk about twisting the knife). I am going to start off by being cautiously optimistic and also skeptical. I am not sure if Magic can flourish in this role. Ex-players have struggled in this role (Jerry West excluded). While putting this post together, he made is first trade with the Houston Rockets. They got Lou Williams, and we got Corey Brewer and a first round draft pick. My initial reaction wasn’t positive, but I will wait until after the trade deadline on Thursday. It appears that Magic wants to play the draft game and stockpile those assets, but I want to see the strategy behind this move before I commit to a position. Magic sold Jeanie on a vision and plan, something that Mitch and Jim clearly lacked, so I want to watch this play out over the next couple of days.

Also, while putting this blog together it appears that the Lakers are going to hire Rob Pelinka as the new GM. He is a famous agent for athletes, and represents our very own Kobe Bryant. I have mixed feelings about this move. On the one hand he has relationships with players all over the league. Additionally, he appears to have a high basketball IQ and business mind. These are key factors in assembling and recruiting a team. He has been on the other end of these trades for players before, so he knows a different angle. The biggest con for him is his lack of front office experience. He is an agent, not an exec. I see this being either a completely brilliant move, or one that will blow up in our faces. Again, I am choosing to be cautiously optimistic.

Until Thursday, I am choosing to focus on my joy. We are turning the page on this very dark chapter in Lakers history. We will not fix this team overnight, but Jeanie has finally untethered the Lakers from her incompetent brother. Now she can run this team the way she wants without worrying about his feelings. If Magic and Rob turn out to be busts, I do not think it will take her this long to fire them, or for me to criticize them.

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Return of the Magic

Time is ticking, and Jim Buss should be worried. Rumors starting swirling after Magic Johnson met with Jeanie Buss on January 17th about the nature of their meeting. Reports came out that Jeanie was looking to Magic for advice on the direction on the Lakers. Fast forward 3 weeks later, and Magic is now an official adviser for the Lakers.

Magic has been one of the most outspoken critics of Jim Buss (present company included), so fans like me are interpreting this move as the beginning of the end for Jimmy. His self-imposed deadline is coming up, and I have always been curious to see if Jeanie would have the stones to follow through with it. Jim has insisted he has one more year left, but she disagrees. Bringing in Magic shows that Jeanie recognizes that changes need to be made, so why not start by bringing in one of the greatest (and most popular) Lakers in history.

We can argue all day long about who is the greatest Laker in history, but no one questions who is the most beloved. Magic has always loved the spotlight whereas Kobe and Kareem have attracted plenty of negative press and controversy over the years.

The past couple of summers have been miserable for attracting free agents. It would be easy to simply blame our poor roster, but free agents like LaMarcus Aldridge have spoken out about the poor presentations. It is no secret that players do not like Jim Buss, and that Mitch Kupchak is a bit socially awkward, whereas Magic oozes charisma while also being one of the most respected players in history. If he is running the show, the Lakers will suddenly regain some of their “Showtime” allure.

Magic says we are one star away from competing with Golden State or San Antonio (per his Instagram). I have to disagree, since they have multiple stars, and last I checked we had 0. Also we have the third worst record in the league, so that will take more than just 1 Carmelo Anthony to fix. For the record, I think we have some great building blocks. I love our young rookies, and they have shown some great promise. However, they are going through some serious growing pains, and we need more veterans to help shape them. If Magic thinks we can become a top team with just 1 star, then I look forward to seeing what he can do this summer. I will always have the utmost respect for Magic (as a player), but now that he is stepping into the role, I vow to hold him accountable like I do for Jim and Mitch. Buckle in LakHer fans, it is about to get exciting!

Let’s Get Ready for the New Season

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My dad and I at the game last year- April 3, 2016

After a 6 month long hiatus it is time for the Lakers to suit up for a new season! I am very excited to start watching them play again. Before I preview the new season, I must look back at our last game:

Kobe’s Last Game

At the time, I couldn’t bring myself to write a blog about it. I sat on the couch with tears streaming down my face as I watched Kobe put up 60 points for the last time. I went through all the stages of grief watching that game.

He single handedly won that match. He played 1 on 5, just like he did back in the mid 2000’s. It was pure domination, so I went through the denial phase. I began to think that maybe he didn’t need to retire, and that he still had it in him. Then I would see him panting on the bench. He was putting on a show, but he could barely breathe. It was time for him to walk away. Now I was angry, because I looked around at the players surrounding him and could not imagine any of them carrying this team the way he has. He has played this game almost my entire life. I cannot remember a time when Kobe didn’t suit up in the purple and gold. How could anyone else be the face of my team? Then I started think about the Lakers’ history. Before Kobe there was Magic, and before Magic there was Jerry, so surely there is someone out there that the Lakers will scoop up and turn into a superstar right? Then depression kicked in when I started to think about who was running this team. Jerry Buss wasn’t going to work with Jerry West to draft Magic, and then convince him into staying with LA instead of bolting for Detroit. Instead, all we have is the incompetent son, and a GM who’s best trade to date was Jerry West’ doing. I sat there, watching the game, and thinking about all of this before I finally came to acceptance. I realize that it might take years, before the Lakers are playing at a championship level, but we will eventually get there. The team wasn’t always owned by Jerry Buss, and we had great trades made by GM’s other than Jerry West. Eventually, the Buss kids will figure out how to run this team, or (more likely) will hand over the reins to someone who can.

It is still hard for me to think about Kobe being retired. When Shaq was traded, and they broke up the original championship team, I was very angry. However, they eventually brought in Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odom which lead to a new era. Kobe has always been the constant, but I know it is time to look toward the new talent to carry the torch.

Looking Ahead

Yesterday we had some big news. Yi Jianlian asked to be released from the Lakers, and they obliged. I was disappointed that we signed him in the first place. If you do not know who I am talking about, he was the star on the Chinese team during the Olympics this summer. I didn’t want him on the Lakers because I think he lacks the work ethic. Apparently Yao Ming really wanted him to be his mentee, but Jianlian was unwilling to put in the work. I can happily say good riddance. Now let’s take a look at the rest of the players on this finalized roster.

D’Angelo Russell may have butted heads with Byron Scott, but he appears to love Luke Walton. Thus far, the players are responding to him well, so that is a good thing. Russell did seem to improve over the summer, but he still has a lot of work to do. The same goes for Julius Randall and Brandon Ingram. We have a very young team, so there are going to be growing pains. I know fans are really excited that the Lakers did well in the pre-season, but please remember that those games are not indicative of how a team will play in the regular season. Most teams only play their stars for a few minutes. Those games are for the rookies and new acquisitions.

Remember back in 2012 when the Lakers went 0-8 in the preseason? That was the summer when we got Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. Fans couldn’t believe it, but I didn’t think much of it. People look back on that season and say it was terrible, and by Lakers standards it was. However, we made the playoffs in a competitive western conference. Granted, with that talent we should have done better, but Steve Nash went down in the beginning of the season, Kobe tore his Achilles, and then Dwight Howard was forced to lead the team while still coming back from a major back injury. All things considered, I think we did pretty damn good.

So, where does that leave us? Pretty much where we have been the last couple of seasons. I anticipate our young players improving substantially, but I still see us as a below .500 team, barring a major trade. Luke Walton is now our coach and leader, but this is going to take years, so let’s buckle in and play the long game. In the meantime, let’s enjoy our young, versatile, and athletic youngsters playing some Warrior style ball (with a ton of turnovers).

Managing our Expectations

Walton-600x400I am a little late to the party on this post. For that I am extremely sorry Teri and Christy. Now that my apologies are out of the way, why don’t I jump right in on the discussion of the Lakers’ new hire?

First off, I want to discuss the firing of Byron Scott. I have thought a lot about it, and I have decided it was a good idea. Now, I do think he did almost everything he could do to win games. We had a lousy team, and you cannot win without talent. However, I feel that he did a bad job working with our rookies. He openly criticized them to reporters, and constantly benched them for long stretches. Overall, I think he failed them. I understand that he felt they needed to earn playing time, but he didn’t need to undermine them in the press. When D’Angelo Russell had his scandal with Nick Young, Scott said he was most disappointed that they were unable to keep this in house. I wish Scott could have listened to his own criticism. I believe he was fired because the rookies had lost all faith in him, so the Lakers needed to make a change. Now it is time to analyze that change.

The Lakers went ahead and hired Luke Walton right away without even interviewing anyone else. This move was not surprising. For months I have expected this to happen. Luke received a lot of praise for how he coached the Warriors, and he played for the Lakers under Phil Jackson. This hire seemed inevitable. However, I think it is really important that we manage our expectations.

We are getting Luke Walton, not Steph Curry. While I greatly admire Luke Walton and believe that he will make a great coach one day, we need to understand the situation. Luke was coaching a team that just came off of winning a championship and was fighting to repeat and break a record. He was not coaching a team full of rookies. Golden State was great under Steve Kerr, and they remained great under Luke Walton. I do not think he had too much to do with their success. He had the presence of mind to simply stay out of their way.

When Luke comes to L.A. he will be inheriting one of the worst teams in the NBA. Kobe has just retired and there is no one currently there to fill that void (another blog on that to come later). Barring Kevin Durant coming to the Lakers, (which seems extremely unlikely) we are going to be in an even worse position come October than we were last season.

I will remain hopeful that we will get the top pick, and that Mitch can pull of some free agency/trade miracles for us, but in the meantime I must give the hard truths to my readers. The hard truth is that Luke Walton is not our savior, he is merely a building block.

Luke wants to run the Lakers on a similar style to the Warriors. Since our roster is filled with young and athletic players, this seems like a good idea. However, we must remember that instead of Steph Curry setting up the plays, we will have Russell, and instead of Klay Thompson jacking up threes, we will have Jordan Clarkson. Needless to say, our current roster can’t hang with the champs.

Game Analysis: Lakers V. Spurs

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My Dad Pretending to be Kareem Before the Game 2.19.16

Hello LakHer fans! I know it has been a while, but here is a little post from my night at the Friday game. The Lakers faced the Spurs for the last time in Kobe Bryant’s career. Surprisingly, it was a competitive game. There were spurts where we actually looked like a good team, but we could not sustain that kind of momentum for a full 48 minutes.

The downfall really came in the final 2 minutes. Kobe dislocated his finger, but in true Mamba form he wouldn’t let a pesky injury stop him. Gary Vitti popped Kobe’s finger back into place and Kobe went back onto the floor. It was inspiring to see glimmers of the vintage Mamba throughout the game, but Kobe really stuck to his roots and insisted on trying to win the game by himself. He continued to throw up horrible shots that had not chance of becoming baskets until he finally left the game.

The end was disappointing, but not surprising. The Spurs are the second best team in the west, so we never really had a shot of winning. However, I was surprised by the energy we played with, and how the Spurs didn’t play quite up to their usual standards.

Here is my takeaway from the game: right now we are a terrible team, but we have some pieces to lead us into a bright future. This year is all about Kobe, but in a few short months he will take off the Lakers uniform for the last time, and our rookies will take over the team. They are very inexperienced, but I see some raw talent. I love Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., D’Angelo Russell, and Julius Randle. These are really young men with the potential to be all stars.

However, barring some blockbuster free agent signings or trades, the Lakers will not be making the playoffs for a few years. That is a tough pill to swallow, but we are in a complete rebuild mode. Currently, the only worthy veteran on our team (excluding Kobe) is Lou Williams. He is going to need some help. Mitch is going to sell the hell out of these young guys to get the likes of Kevin Durant to join our team.

Lastly, I wanted to put my fans on alert that I will be attending Kobe’s second to last game. He will be taking on the Celtics on April 3rd. I will try to write more posts in the next few months, but definitely be on the lookout for a post at the seasons end.

As usual, thank you to Mike Alder for the tickets!

Top Free Agency Targets

nba_free_agentsAs I promised, it is time for me to cover the Lakers free agency targets and strategy. We are currently on the cusp of one of the greatest NBA free agency summers in recent history. The Lakers are in a great position to pick up some talent since they have cleaned up the roster and picked up 3 draft picks (including our #2 D’Angelo Russell). There are a plethora of agents to choose from, so in order to keep this blog short and sweet, I am only going to list the free agents that I think we should recruit, and who I think we have a legitimate shot of getting. Therefore, LeBron James will not be on this list. With that said here are my top free agent targets:

Forwards/Centers:

LaMarcus Aldridge

Before I discuss LaMarcus Aldridge, I want to concede that I believe he will go to San Antonio. However, there have been rampant rumors recently that L.A. has moved up his list. I think he might just be using this as a strategy to get more money, but he is a game changer so I believe that we should try to lure him to L.A. He would be a perfect power forward to partner up with Russell. That combo would instantly put us in the playoff discussion.

Paul Millsap/Greg Monroe/Brook Lopez/Robin Lopez

Since we already have a point guard, we obviously need a big to partner up with him. Aldridge is my first choice, but if we can’t convince him that to play in L.A. then we will need a backup plan. Any of these four choices would be solid. I am concerned about these players being overpaid, but the Lakers can afford it.

Guards:

Aaron Brooks/Rajon Rondo/Goran Dragic

I know we just drafted a guard so all of our attention should be on bigs, but Russell is a rookie and we might want to consider getting a more veteran guard to play with him. Kobe is on his way out the door, so we will need another player to take his starting position. Russell is a combo guard so we can put a second point guard into the mix and really run the floor. I think these 3 choices would be great to work with him. I have always loved Brooks, and Rondo has the ability to average a triple double. I also love Dragic and how he ran the floor in Pheonix. L.A. would love a Showtime-esque type of point guard again.

Dark Horse Picks:

DeAndre Jordan/Marc Gasol/Wesley Matthews/ Jimmy Butler

I have selected quite a melting pot of dark horse picks. These pics I have selected are dark horses for various reasons. Some of these I do not think will leave/come to L.A., whereas others I am not sure are really on L.A.’s radar. I would look for L.A. to get some role players in order to make some trades. Mitch has already said he wants to get rid of some of our rookies, but we will need more assets in order to make these trades worthwhile.

Stay tuned to see what the Lakers and other teams do this summer. I will post an update after some moves are made and we have an idea of what our roster will look like this year.

Post Draft Day Analysis

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwy2mjgzntk1mtrlzwvhy2m2zgywndawm2y3yza2yjey-e1435290349615Yesterday was a pretty historic day for Lakers fans. We got to draft our number 2 pick, and Mitch Kupchak managed to shock everyone by selecting D’Angelo Russell. I am hearing a lot of complaints from my fans, but I am very happy with this decision.

If you take a look at my draft day prediction blog, you will actually see that I wanted the Lakers to consider Russell:

“Before we all jump on the Okafor bandwagon, I would like the Lakers to take a good look at D’Angelo Russell: a combo guard from Ohio State. Personally, I would love for the Lakers to acquire a young guard for Kobe to mentor and take over the team. I think it would be a great transition for Kobe to use his last months with the Lakers prepping his predecessor. Theoretically, Kobe could do this with Okafor, but Okafor is a big with a completely different game. Plus, Kobe tends to clash with our centers. ***Cough Cough*** “Shaq” ***Cough Cough*** “Howard.” Sensing a theme yet?

I think Russell could be a great addition, and the Lakers are in dire need of a quality point guard. Despite his faults, I believe the Lakers will end up with Okafor, but Russell is my dark horse pick.”

Therefore, my LakHer fans should not be too surprised by this decision. I did say that I thought we would pick Okafor, but to keep an eye out for Russell. I actually believe that Russell will be a better fit for the Lakers in the long run. Many analysts are actually predicting that Russell will be the best player in the draft. ESPN’s Statistical Plus/Minus (SPM) numbers

Additionally, a lot of people are complaining that we passed on a great center, and this franchise is known for great centers. I would like to counter that argument. There are 3 Lakers players statues outside of Staples Center: Kareem, Magic, and Jerry. Only one of those players is a center, and the other two are guards. The Lakers are known for having great players. Period. Magic defined Showtime, not Kareem. Between Kobe and Shaq, only one of them stuck around. The Lakers picking a point guard and not a center just shows that they are paying attention to what is happening in the league. Golden State just won the championship behind dynamic guards. Every great team in this era needs a great guard.

Also, Mitch made the point that he wasn’t convinced that Okafor would be a franchise player. I mentioned his deficiencies in my previous draft blog, so I can agree with his point. I am not convinced that Okafor will be great. Drafts are always gambles, so we can definitely revisit this topic at a later date.

Picking a point guard should also give Lakers fans great hope for the future. It has been reported that the Lakers wanted a point guard because Mitch is confident that we will score one of the free agent big men this summer (Marc Gasol, Aldridge, Love). There have been a lot of rumors flying that these players are looking at the Lakers with renewed interest, so stay tuned. I think we have put ourselves in a great position to lure one of them in with the starting line up of Russell and Randle.

Lastly, I know that there was a lot of speculation that the Lakers will trade Russell, but I am not buying it. I think Russell is here to stay, but that our 27th pick is a goner. We used that pick to draft Larry Nance Jr. but I do not think Kobe wants this guy around. Three years ago Larry stupidly tweeted this: “Gee I sure hope Kobe can keep his hands to himself in Denver this time. #rapist”

Everyone has his or her own opinions about that case, and I will certainly not be diving into it. That case happened over a decade ago. Needless to say though, I do not think Kobe and his ego are going to want this guy on the team. He did delete this tweet minutes after he was drafted, but I really do not think it matters. It will be a distraction, and will cause a feud before these two even meet.

Mitch has said from the beginning that he would trade at least one of these rookies, so I think Larry shouldn’t be making any plans to move it L.A. yet.

One final note about Russel, here is what he said after he was drafted, “I want [Kobe] to take me under his wing and gain every piece of knowledge I can possibly gain. That franchise isn’t used to losing, and I’m a winning player.” Thank you Russell for proving my point and proving that you are here to win and learn. I can tell I like you already.

Knick’s Pick

I am not going to cover the other teams picks, since I find them to be irrelevant to the Lakers, but my Uncle Rick and cousin Aidan are Knicks fans and were very distraught yesterday by the selection, so I will discuss that one for them.

I am not sure about this pick. Kristaps Porzingis is a huge gamble. He is not NBA ready, but he has a lot of potential. Unfortunately for Phil Jackson this pick will either be praised for being the diamond in the rough, or he will be slaughtered for squelching the Knicks opportunity to rebuild in the draft.

The biggest problem for Phil, is that he selected this player because he fits the mold for the triangle offense. While the Lakers are evolving their game plan to stay relevant in this league, Phil is sticking with the triangle offense, no matter how many games the Knicks lose.

Analysts are pretty split on whether this was a good decision or not. Personally, I do not know how this will play out, but if I were Phil, I would not be gambling right now. He has lost favor with the Knicks fans, as it was obvious when the fans booed this decision, and now Carmelo Anthony is complaining about it. I know that Dolan gave him a huge contract, but he has been known in the past to fire employees. Phil should be careful. Knicks fans had high expectations for Phil to come in and turn this franchise around, but Phil only has bad deals and records to show for his time in New York.