Misery Loves Company

(Chris Carlson, AP)

Photo Credit: (Chris Carlson, AP)

We all know the saying, “Misery Loves Company.” I am assuming a lot of my fans still read my blog in this tumultuous season for that reason alone. However, today I do not want to talk about our misery. Instead, I want to talk about other teams’ misery, and how we can take advantage.

It’s the time of the season where the bad teams face reality and start making changes. We just saw the 3 team trade go down today between the Cavs, OKC, and Knicks. Now it is time to take advantage of everyone else who is also suffering and making some changes.

Byron Scott can monitor Kobe’s minutes and have him miss games, but let’s call a spade a spade, this season is done for the Lakers. I am not in favor of clearing out cap space, instead I want the Lakers to acquire some quality players so we have some good free agency bait.

I have said it before, and I will say it again, players are not going to come to the Lakers simply because we can afford them, we have the legacy, we have Kobe, and or LA is awesome. Those reasons don’t fly anymore. This generation of players want it all: the money, the city, and the championship. Right now we can only offer 2/3.

We have a lot of players with contracts that expire this year. Mitch/Jim did that on purpose so we would have cap space. Basically, they went with the Miami Heat strategy. Here is the problem with that strategy. Miami had Dwayne Wade rallying the troops to Miami. No matter how hard LeBron tried, Wade and Bosh refused to go Cleveland. There was brief talk about going to Chicago, but Wade and Bosh decided to force LeBron’s hand. Bosh was going to follow Wade wherever he went, but only Miami could afford to sign all 3. If Wade and Bosh decided to go Chicago, then LeBron would be a lose canon and probably would have gone back to Cleveland.

It was a brilliant strategy. One that I have no doubt Pat Riley played some role in, but my point is that we cannot play that game. Kobe (unlike the previously mentioned big 3) is not in the prime of his career. I can also mention the fact that many people seem to think playing with him is a nightmare, but I refuse to give that topic any more credence. Needless to say, he doesn’t hold the same stock as those players did 4.5 years ago.

Regardless, Jim Buss said the strategy is that we have enough money to sign 2 big free agents. I already discussed at length the stupidity of that statement, so here is my new strategy: Kobe needs to reach out to players and have them decide to pull a Wade-LeBron-Bosh move to come to LA. He needs to promise to mentor and then hand the team over. Basically, he needs to give them what he refused to give Dwight Howard.

Players do not want to gamble and see if big cities can turn it around. We have watched the Knicks struggle for years, much to Melo and Amare’s horror. Instead, players want to go to teams that have good building blocks so they won’t be stuck in purgatory for years (sound familiar?). Dwight Howard jumped ship because he hated playing for this team (D’Antoni and Kobe) and he could see the destructive path we were on. His move has obviously paid off since Houston is a contender in the west.

Luckily, we have a good amount of teams who will look to revamp their roster. The entire eastern conference (minus the top 4 teams) is a disaster. All those teams all crumbling and need to make changes if they ever want to compete with the west. Also, the west is so competitive that teams will look to add in the missing piece to take them to the next level. While the Lakers do not have anyone on the team to trade to fulfill that purpose, they do have assets they can trade to a third party in order to make that trade happen. Expiring contracts are useful and the Lakers are full of those.

My point, is that we have plenty of options. I am not going to sit here and give a list simply because there are so many directions to take this team. The Brooklyn Nets have put their entire team on the trading block, and players like Kevin Love and Rajon Rondo do not appear to be set in their new teams.

We have until the All Star break to make moves, and if we play our hand correctly, then we can put ourselves in a great position to acquire free agents. Or we can do what Jim wants, and simply sit back and do nothing while we all go down with the ship. Let’s see how this plays out.

 

P.S. We had 2 tragic loses in the NBA community this week: Stuart Scott and Mitch Kupchak’s 15 year old daughter Alina. I would like to send my condolences to both families. There are no words.

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A Week in Review 12/7-12/14

My Dad and I at the Lakers v Hornets game 12/7. Thank you Mike Alder for the tickets!

My Dad and I at the Lakers v Hornets game 12/7. Thank you Mike Alder for the tickets!

Hi LakHer fans! I decided I had too much to talk about this week, so I hope you enjoy this week in review! Here are the important stories that came out of LALA land last week.

Lakers lose to New Orleans

For the last 4 years I would go to NOLA’s arena with Abi to watch these two play each other, but this time I changed things up and watched them at Staples. Unfortunately, the highlight of the game was my halftime cake with my dad. Unlike me, the Lakers didn’t show up for the game. It was a blowout, so I do not have much to say. I only do work on my end when the Lakers will do work on their end. Regardless of the game turns out, I always have a blast, so thank you Mike Alder for the tickets!

“Soft as Charmin”

One of the biggest stories of the week was the media coverage of a Lakers practice. Reporters watched as Kobe verbally bitch slapped his teammates. It is no secret that Kobe is a trash talker, but these comments really took people off guard. Some of his teammates, like Lin, were even visibly upset by them.

Personally, I didn’t really get what the big deal was. This is Kobe being Kobe. If the players were upset by it, then they really are as “soft as Charmin.” Kobe admits his leadership style doesn’t work for everyone and that it can upset players at times, but he was trying to motivate his team. I would like to point out that since he made those comments, the Lakers are 3-0 and one of those games came against the defending champions.

Charmin responds to the Kobe drama

Charmin responds to the Kobe drama

Kobe did acknowledge that the trash talking was a bit harsher than usual, but that’s what happens when you are losing. He told reporters that the whole conversation actually made him a bit uncomfortable, because he obviously doesn’t want to hurt his teammates, but he grew up trash talking. He even said that it is a lost art. Maybe his words were a little harsh for a fellow teammate, but I have certainly heard worse things come out of Garnet, Miller, and Pierce’s mouths. I mean, Reggie Miller grabbed his crouch during his game and made a chocking sign, I think that is a bit more offensive.

Speaking of chocking…

“I Can’t Breathe”

I try to keep these posts basketball focused. If I am not talking about the game, then I am normally talking about what is happening behind the scenes. But this week something bigger than basketball happened. It all started when Derek Rose came out for warm ups wearing an “I Can’t Breathe” shirt. For those of you unaware, this was in reference to Eric Garner’s last words before he died after being put into a choke hold by police.

Police brutality has been a big issue in the country for the last 2 weeks, and the conversation does not seem to be going away. After Rose wore the shirt, LeBron followed suit, and then so did the entire Lakers team (minus Sacre). The shirt made a huge statement, so much so that even our president came out in support.

I Can't Breathe

There is a long history of politics seeping its way into the sports world, so it is not surprising that this issue has taken over the NBA. This league is predominately comprised of black players, so they were going to take a stance since this issue has been trending with #blacklivesmatter.

Personally, I am very happy that the Lakers took this stand. I will fully admit that I have been very upset with all the violence that has been happening and the lack of indictments. Wearing that shirt is a peaceful way for the Lakers to show their disappointment with our system, and get the issue lots of attention. Unfortunately, right now most of that attention is going to the handful of looters and violent protesters. Prominent figures like Kobe, Rose and James can help adjust the conversation.

#3

Last night Kobe hit a very big mile stone. He passed Michael Jordan and took over the #3 spot on the scoring list. It was a great moment and I am so thrilled for him. The Timberwolves showed class by stopping the game to present him with the ball and acknowledge the moment.

I know everyone wanted Kobe to pass Michael with a fade away shot, but honestly it really doesn’t matter. No one will remember the exact shot that passed Michael. Kobe got it on a free throw because like Michael, he knows how to draw fouls.

On the subject of 3’s, I have to talk about our Swaggy P’s game winner against San Antonio. When that shot went up I was convinced we were doomed. Ginobli was all over Nick Young, but good defense was defeated by better offense. I guess he’s right in saying nobody can guard him! Congrats to Swaggy for the amazing shot, and thank you for giving us Lakers fans an exciting game against our longtime rival.

Speaking of San Antonio, I would like to take a quick moment to recognize Tim Duncan. In our match up on Friday, Tim passed our very own Jerry West for 18th on the scoring list. While it is never easy to see someone else take a spot from him, I truly admire Tim Duncan. I would love to just hate him. For years he was our biggest obstacle, but he is an absolute class act. He is a future hall of fame player, and I really can’t find anything negative to say about him. That drives me crazy! So congratulations Tim Duncan, you deserve it.

Buss Kids Interview

This week the dynamic duo were on damage control, since you know, the Lakers are losing and Kobe is busy comparing his teammates to a product people wipe their asses with. Therefore, they decided it would be a good idea to give a joint interview. We all know that I could spend hours talking about the Wonder Twins, but I will save you the time and just give you the highlights:

Tanking is Unforgivable

Jim and Jeannie put the notion to rest that there would be any chance of the Lakers tanking the rest of the season, per Magic’s request. I understand the damage it does to players and a brand. That doesn’t mean that I do not see where Magic is coming from. I do want that draft pick.

Jeannie is still upset about the D’Antoni hiring

Let’s take a look at this Q&A:
Jeanie, you have been on record as saying that the Lakers let Dwight Howard down. What did you mean by that?
Jeanie:
It came down to hiring a coach. [The Lakers hired Mike D’Antoni in November 2012.] When you have a big man and a guard, you have to decide whom you’re going to build your team around. The choice was to build it around Steve Nash and what suited Steve Nash instead of what suited Dwight Howard.

I have to say that she is right on the money. The Lakers picked a coach and built around a 38 year old point guard instead of the young Super Star Center. If you keep reading the interview, Jim tries to backtrack and blames it on Jerry. Sure, go ahead and blame the dead guy who can’t defend himself, classy move Jimbo. Needless to say it is a fascinating segment.

The Lakers have Virtually No Game Plan

When Jim is asked about his pitch to free agents this summer, he says, “The pitch is we can go for two max players. And we have room to solidify the team with others.” Yes Jim, you have the money to sign them, but why on earth do they want to play for you? Unless players decide to pull a James-Wade-Bosh and all meet up in one place, then it isn’t going to happen. We are a terrible team, and players have no faith in ownership. Kobe is our only real asset and he is on the verge of retirement. Needless to say, if this interview was supposed to give me faith for the future, then it failed miserably.

Jeannie Doesn’t Anticipate the Lakers Missing the Playoffs

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I am sorry, I thought that was a joke?

Jim is sticking by his Promise

I brought this up in my last post how Jim said he would step down if the Lakers are not back on top in 3 years. He reinforced that promise in this interview. Jeannie supported him and said the Lakers are on track to be on top in 3 years. (Another joke)?

I have already exhausted this issue, but I am happy to see him not back peddling.

Why Lakers Fans Need to be Prepared for Another Tough Season

lakers-ship-sinking1A lot has happened since my last blog post: we acquired Carlos Boozer via amnesty (see I told you so Bulls!), we also officially signed multiple players, but most importantly, we finally hired Byron Scott.

After D’Antoni mercifully resigned (for roughly $2 million), I wrote a post discussing all of our coaching options and threw my support behind Scott. He is a good coach who bleeds purple and gold, and he was Jerry’s pick, not Jim’s. I only mention this fact because Jerry had a fantastic record when it comes to picking coaches, and we all know how Jimmy’s choices worked out.

Now that our roster is mostly full, it is time to analyze our team. For the purposes of this blog post I am only going to analyze the changes. We lost Pau Gasol but gained Julius Randle, Ed Davis, and Carlos Boozer. Additionally, we lost Kendall Marshall but gained Jeremy Lin.

Starting at the power forward position, I believe we may be slightly weaker. I love Pau and was devastated to see him go. Carlos Boozer is a solid power forward, but he has injury problems and he is not the same man who dominated in Utah. I am pretty unfamiliar with Davis, but based upon my research, he has the potential but has never seemed to break out, so hopefully he can have a Swaggy P type year. Lastly, I have always admitted that I am unfamiliar with the NCAA, therefore I only know what has been reported about Randle. I am always hesitant to trust a rookie since we have seen so many high draft picks flounder in the NBA. I believe that Randle will be a good power forward, however, I am not going to put all my eggs in that basket, not yet at least. The reason I am concerned about our power forwards, is that none of these players have Pau’s shooting or passing abilities. Also, Pau can play the 4 or the 5, whereas these players are going to be at the 4 or 3 position. Defensively, I am concerned about our size. We saw how Miami struggled against teams with true centers, and we need to be a better defensive team then last year.

Next, 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. We have no loyalty to him. He got injured almost immediately after we acquired him, and he has struggled to stay healthy since. I understand that we should respect him since he is a future Hall of Famer, but he had all of his accomplishments in Phoenix; we do not owe him anything. He has even admitted the only reason he isn’t retiring is because of the money. Therefore, we should have just paid him (via amnesty), and had the cap space to sign some other players.

I already discussed Jeremy Lin in my last post, so I am going to be brief. We did get an upgrade at the point guard position. I also said that we were only renting him for the year so we should not get too attached. However, Mitch came out at the press conference and admitted that this was the third time that he had gone after Lin. Apparently he wanted him since he played at Harvard. Therefore, we may actually try to resign him next summer.

In this post’s title I told fans to be prepared for another bad year. Basically it looks like our roster is slightly improved. However there is one big factor I have yet to mention, and I like to call it the “Mamba Factor.” Kobe only played a few games last year, hence our team only winning 27 games. Now, I want to believe more than anyone that Kobe will be back at full force next year. Unfortunately, if watching Steve Nash fall apart has taught me anything, it is that once a player suffers a serious injury, they may never be the same again. Kobe has now taken to huge breaks to rest up and heal. Both he and the Lakers organization say he will be ready next year, but it is important to not get too excited. We need to manage our expectations in case this blows up again.

If Kobe comes back and is still a great player, then the Lakers have a shot to be a decent team. However, that can only happen if he is able to score around 20 points per game. I know that the idea of Kobe not being able to put up 30 whenever he wants is a scary thought for Lakers fans, but we need to face reality. He is entering his 18th season and has suffered some career ending injuries. If he is able to play more than half the games and put up over 15 points, then we need to count our blessings.

I have decided to be optimistic and say that Kobe will make it through a decent amount of games and put up solid numbers, and I am basing that on our new coach. I have always blamed the plethora of injuries on D’Antoni and his crazy offensive system, but Scott is smarter and will take Kobe’s health into consideration. Scott is a defensive minded coach, but he did play for Showtime and understands the importance of having a good system. Scott may not slow down the game to “triangle speeds” but he won’t make the Lakers run around like D’Antoni.

If the stars line up perfectly, and the Lakers are healthy, and all the players exceed expectations, then the Lakers have a shot of making it into the playoffs and getting eliminated in the first round. However, I always feel that it is my job to tell my readers the truth and not fill you with false hope. As we currently stand, the Lakers will probably not make the playoffs this year unless the stars align for them and everything else goes to hell for the elite western conference teams.

Lastly, since this free agency cycle is coming to an end, I think it is good for the Lakers to learn from their mistakes so they can retool for next summer when the stakes are higher. First off, I think it was stupid that they let all these solid free agents get away because they played the waiting game with LeBron and Melo. They were never going to come to the Lakers, and that is fine that they wanted to give it a shot, but then you need to keep building as if they are not coming. If either one of those guys decided that they wanted to come play for the Lakers, then the Lakers would have figured out a way to move pieces around to sign them. You do not put everything on hold hoping for one of them to save the day. Remember my comment about putting all of your eggs in one basket?

Now I also think the Lakers need to work on damage control and get their publicist working over time. Whenever I watch ESPN or hear any of the analysts talking about the Lakers, they always say that it is no longer a premier destination. The more they say it, the more it becomes a reality. It does not matter that the Lakers were the most profitable team last year (by about $100 million) despite having one of the worst records. Ever since Jerry died people think that the culture died with him. Jim Buss needs to get his ego in check and start following in daddy’s footsteps. Jerry was famous for caring about his players without going overboard like Mark Cuban. He would invite the players over and constantly take them out to dinner.

Kobe came out a few months ago and criticized Jim Buss. It is not a secret that Jim has spent no time with his star player, and Kobe has not been happy about it. The reason why both Lakers fans and players like Jeannie more is because of Phil. Phil would take the players out and spend time with them, and of course he would bring his longtime girl friend with him. Jeannie has more of a voice in the organization because of Phil, not her father. Recently Kobe has been speaking very favorably about the wonder siblings because he realizes that the Lakers will keep missing out on free agents if they think the owners are a problem. If we have learned anything from the Sterling scandal, it is that the owners do matter to the players, even if it is not their first priority.

Per usual, I do not like to criticize the Lakers without offering up some suggestions. Jim Buss needs to get his face out there more, and it needs to be in a favorable light. He needs to take Kobe and maybe the entire team out to dinner at one of the paparazzi favorite restaurants (Mr. Chows?) and then make sure the story ends up in the media. If he starts giving off the impression that he cares about his players, then people will start to believe it. The more he acts like his beloved father, the more people will start to see him that way.

My business professors at Tulane always stressed to me the importance of relationships; I even took a Relationship Marketing Class. Jim needs to develop relationships with his players, staff, and the media. Until we retool the image problem around the Lakers, we will not be able to get back to an elite competitive status.

 

Ding Dong D’Antoni is Gone

1797503_10152467886367223_1578149390540710542_nI am not writing this post to celebrate the departure of Mike D’Antoni. The man had many faults, but I have always maintained that his biggest fault was being chosen over Phil Jackson.

Honestly, D’Antoni resigning was the best possible outcome for all parties involved. The Lakers did not want to have him next year, and they did not want to have to fire another coach. Additionally, both Kobe and Pau have maintained their lack of desire to play for him. Lastly, D’Antoni has felt the wrath of LA fans for the last 2 years. He has even been booed at games. Fans did not want him, and more importantly Kobe did not want him.

He had been facing rumors for months about his ultimate demise, so he finally took action. He decided to ask for the Lakers to pick up his option for the 2015-2016 season. I was initially surprised to hear that he made this move. The Lakers just faced their worst record since moving to LA, and D’Antoni wants the Lakers to guarantee him for an additional year? What is his bargaining tool?

I have already mentioned all the negatives of having D’Antoni, and I could not think of any possible reason why the Lakers would guarantee him for an additional year. The stars appeared to be lined up for the Lakers to get rid of him next year, and use the empty coaching position as a negotiating tool with free agents.

D’Antoni said that he did not want to be a lame duck coach. He claimed it was too distracting. This argument is silly. Tons of coaches and players are in this position and they work through it. Instead, I think D’Antoni was looking for an excuse to resign. He must have been miserable in LA, and I think he went into negotiations knowing that he would be turned down, so that he could use that as his excuse to walk away. I will reiterate, this was the best possible outcome. Now he can pursue the Golden State Warriors, since that position just became open.

The Lakers can now focus on the future. The rumor mill has been swirling with possible candidates (this is how we knock the Clippers off the front page). Time for me to break down the possible candidates for the Lakers next head coach:

Byron Scott

I am a huge fan of this possibility. He is young, a former Laker, has won “Coach of the Year,” and can help lure Kyrie Irving. Byron has a good mix of experience and youth that I think would be very beneficial to this rebuilding process. Additionally, he is a former Laker and understands the pressure that comes with this position. He should pass the Kobe Bryant test, and would be great in recruiting the former “Rookie of the Year” since he coached him in Cleveland. I think there is a very good chance that he will be the next coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Derek Fisher

He is the dark horse in the race to claim Phil Jackson’s throne. He is a very interesting choice. We know that he and Kobe were teammates and remain close friends. It is no secret that Derek Fisher is one of the only people that Kobe allows to be completely honest with him. They were co-captains for the Lakers, and Derek took on the leadership role. Kobe is only good at inspiring fear, so Derek would step up and encourage his teammates in times of adversity. They often crediting him with inspiring them with his speeches, and he has a bit of a reputation for relishing in crunch time. Since Derek played in LA for years, he is very aware of the pressure that comes with this position, and is beloved by Lakers fans. These qualities are admirable in a coach.

Despite all of Derek’s great qualities, there are some risks in making him the head coach. Currently, Derek is in his final playoffs with OKC. This means that Derek has zero coaching experience. The Nets made a similar move last year by making Jason Kidd their head coach. That move has worked out quite nicely since he just won his first game 7 and is currently taking on the Miami Heat in round two. While it did work out for the Nets, hiring a coach without any coaching experience is a risk. The Lakers are probably unwilling to take such a risk since their last two coaches did not work out.

Secondly, Derek’s relationship with Kobe might actually be a problem. However, Kobe could end up turning on Derek, or Derek could decide to let Kobe be Kobe in order to avoid hurting their relationship. As players and co-captains they were on equal footing, but if Fisher became the coach then he would have the ability to pull Kobe out of games and tell him to pass the damn ball. When Derek Fisher delivered some harsh truths to Kobe, Kobe could decide whether or not to listen, but as his coach Kobe would be forced to “obey.” I say “obey” because Kobe has always on some level ignored or overruled his coaches over the years. Needless to say, the Kobe/Derek dynamic could prove to be extremely beneficial or terribly detrimental.

Van Gundy Brothers

I am combining the Jeff and Stan because I think the likelihood of the Lakers signing either brother is slim. They are both admirable coaches and are well respected, but I do not see them fitting in with the Lakers or the LA fans. I think their personality will be a turn off for the fans, and I think Kobe will be too much for either of them to handle. Stan could not handle Dwight, does he really want to take a crack at the Black Mamba? Additionally, the Lakers front office is looking to do two things with this coaching vacancy: make a splash, and attract free agents.

Signing either Van Gundy is not a sexy choice (on every single level), and they do not have the same lure to bring in free agents as some of the other choices. All in all, I do not think either one will end up as the next coach.

Tom Thibodeau

This name has gotten the most attention during the media circus. It is unfortunate that his name got leaked. Before we started considering him as the next coach, the Bulls were on their way to getting knocked out of the first round. Rumors were starting to swirl that the Bulls were going to fire him. Now the Bulls have taken a firm stance, and despite giving the Lakers permission to talk to Tom, they have reminded us that he is under contract. Unfortunately, now if we want to steal him from the Bulls, we will have to give up something massive. Rumor has it that the Bulls either want our first round pick or for us to take Boozer and his massive contract.

Let me clear, I have said in the past that I am strongly against us trading our draft pick for Kevin Love. If Kevin Love is not worth it, neither is Tom. However, I would be open to taking on Boozer. He does have a big contract, but it expires in 2015. We are going to have a mediocre year anyway, so we might as well spend some money on him and then let him walk away while we go after the big free agents.

I took a bit of a detour, so let me get back to discussing Tom as the Lakers future coach. He is Kobe’s first choice and I have a lot of respect for him. While D’Antoni was all about offense, Tom is all about defense. Remember that crushing Celtic defense that destroyed us in the 2008 finals? Tom was the architect.

I think he could be a great coach for the Lakers, if we do not have to give up too much to bring him here.

George Karl

I have already discussed my opinion of George Karl, so I will keep this short. While I think he has a lot of great qualities, I do not think he will be the next coach. I doubt he wants to deal with LA or the rebuilding process.

Kevin Ollie

I have always admitted that my NCAA knowledge is limited. However, I have done a little research on Ollie and I think he has a lot of potential. This LA native has achieved a lot, and has done so very quickly. He won the NCAA tournament only 2 years after being named UCONN’s head coach. He played 13 season in the NBA and retired only 4 years ago. He might be itching to come back. Kevin Durant has spoken highly of him and explained that Ollie was his mentor in Oklahoma. Ollie would be the best person to lure Durant away from OKC in 2016 if we still have the cap space for him.

Ollie just won a national championship, so it is hard to say how he feels about staying. He may want to stay to defend the title. Maybe he now has enough credibility so he wants to take the next step to the NBA? I think we are in a good position to steal him from Connecticut.

All these coaches pose a risk to the Lakers, and Ollie is no exception. Ollie has been very successful in coaching college students, but the NCAA coaching style does not always translate well to NBA coaching. I think Ollie will be a very successful NBA coach since he spent so much time as a player and has gained amazing experience at the college level. However, we won’t know unless he takes the job.

John Calipari

His name started swirling the day of his championship game. I failed to talk about it because I knew it was a bogus rumor. I am convinced that someone started that rumor just to mess with Kentucky players’ heads. He has already come out twice and said he is not interested in the job. I know some people think he is playing hard ball for future negotiations, but I truly believe he is not interested. Again, my knowledge of him is limited, but based on all the reporting, it sounds like the Lakers situation is not a good fit for him.

Jerry Sloan

Like Karl, I already gave my Sloan assessment. I have a great deal of respect for Sloan, but I think his personality will not mesh well with the Lakers or the city.

Roy Williams

He is not pictured because he is a new coach to hit the rumor mill. Apparently we have targeted him before, but to no avail. He seems pretty dead set on staying in the NCAA, so I am not expecting to see him in next season.

Mark Jackson

I know I have already gone through all the men in the photograph, but while writing this post Mark Jackson was fired from Golden State (not surprising but still horribly disappointing). The Lakers should definitely take a look at him. He is a great coach who should not have been fired. He improved Golden State each year that he coached, and the Lakers are in some dire need of improvement. His style might be a bit fast paced, but he is still worth considering. The former Clipper knows all about the LA lifestyle and I think he could be a great addition.

 

I know this has been a long post, and I appreciate you all for staying with me. A lot will change in the coming months. Since the Lakers are not expecting to sign a coach before the draft, you can be sure this list will be changing. I know that Jim Buss has made bad coaching decisions in the past, but I will remain hopeful, since I am thus far thoroughly impressed with the current list. I told my fans, things will get better, and now we are on our way.

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.

 

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.

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