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.

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.

Phil Jackson Needs to Stop Talking

phil-jacksonWriting this blog is physically hurting me. I have admired Phil Jackson almost my entire life. He was the man who brought my Lakers out of the darkness (not once but twice) and brought back the winning culture. He won 5 NBA championships as a Lakers coach, so naturally I would defer to him on most issues.

However, lately he has lost his ZenMaster aura and instead has turned into an angry old man yelling at the young kids from his porch. I want to cry when I write that sentence, because it is the truth.

He has spent this post season, and now off season criticizing the top NBA teams and players. During the playoffs he regularly used Twitter to blast the Golden State Warriors. This was so petty, since everyone knew he was clearly upset that Steve Kerr decided to go to the Warriors instead of the Knicks. He trolled the Warriors when they went down 2-1 to the Grizzlies, but we all know how that turned out in the end…

PJ1

PJ2

Additionally, Phil Jackson just did an interview with Bleacher Report discussing offensive schemes throughout the league (not just GSW), and felt he should call out LeBron and the Cavaliers. He said, “When I watch some of these playoff games, and I look at what’s being run out there, as what people call an offense, it’s really quite remarkable to see how far our game has fallen from a team game…Four guys stand around watching one guy dribble a basketball…I watch LeBron James, for example. He might [travel] every other time he catches the basketball if he’s off the ball. He catches the ball, moves both his feet. You see it happen all the time. There’s no structure, there’s no discipline, there’s no ‘How do we play this game’ type of attitude. And it goes all the way through the game. To the point where now guys don’t screen — they push guys off with their hands.”

Look, I don’t necessarily disagree that the one-on-five method is sustainable. Clearly LeBron couldn’t beat the Warriors by himself, but he did manage to get to the finals with minimal help.  Phil Jackson may not like it, but that is more than his lottery Knicks can say.

This is why Phil Jackson needs to stop talking. I don’t think it is classy to troll other teams, but if you are going to do it, then you better be able to back up your claims. Phil may have 13 rings, but he hasn’t won a Championship in 5 years. The league is evolving, and Jackson isn’t.

I spent 2 years blasting Jim Buss for not giving Phil Jackson control of our team, but now I am very grateful he doesn’t have that power. I never wanted Mitch Kupchak to lose his job, but I thought Phil would be a great asset in selecting players. However, he has proven in New York that he cannot win in the front office. While I will never condone the hiring of Mike D’Antoni, I can admit that Jim was correct in not giving Phil power over player decisions. If I am going to write tout my correct predictions, then I must also hold myself accountable when I get one wrong. Jim Buss, you get this one.

Follow up to Last Week’s Post

I have received a lot of positive comments in regards to last week’s post about the reports. I am glad that my fans enjoyed that topic. I would like to point out that I actually wrote that post because my dad asked me to cover it. I am always happy to take requests if you want to hear my take on a subject. Please leave me comments so I can cover the topics you want to hear about, otherwise I will keep picking them myself. Thanks!

Questioning Mitch Kupchak’s Judgment

Mitch-on-phoneThe other day I offered my opinions and analysis after the trade deadline, now it is Kupchak’s turn. I have to say that despite all the bad times the Lakers have experienced over the last few years, I have never once questioned Mitch’s vision or judgment, until now. Reading this Q&A has left some serious doubts in my head, so lets dive in and look at the highlights:

On Expectations for the Season:

“I’m not gonna cry about injuries, but we were hopeful certainly that Kobe and Julius Randle would be able to play the full season, and that would be fun. I thought Julius would make us into a 60-win team”

That quote tells me that Mitch may have become a bit delusional. First of all, Julius was struggling in the pre-season. There were serious doubts about him being able to make the transition into the NBA. We see a lot of great draft picks flounder in the NBA, and it looked like Julius might be one of them. Second of all, Kobe is 36 years old coming off back-to-back career ending injuries, so the fact that Mitch thought he could play a full season is ridiculous. Kobe had battled injuries for years and has needed to sit out games. However, lets enter this beautiful imagination land and assume all the best-case scenarios. Lets assume for a moment that both Kobe and Julius were able to play a full season. Lets also pretend that Kobe was playing at his all-star best, and that Julius was on the verge of winning “Rookie of the Year.” Even if all those things happened, they still wouldn’t be a 60 game winning team. It is incredibly difficult to win that many games, and it would be nearly impossible to do that in this current western conference, especially with the remaining supporting cast.

On Magic Johnson’s Criticism:

(Recap: Magic recently took more shots at Jimmy for not listening to Mitch)

“I didn’t see all of Earvin’s comments. I have the same authority that I had with Dr. Buss. Jerry West had the same authority with Dr. Buss, and I’ve got that same authority with Jimmy. Jimmy and I work very closely together, and he does not make decisions in a vacuum. For some reason, he gets a lot of the criticism, and maybe that just comes along with a transition from an owner like Dr. Buss, but that’s not fair. Any decision or anything that’s happened in the last two or three years that people have a problem with, I was involved or leading the way. So, if there’s criticism, then it should then be directed at me as well. He is not making decisions in a vacuum. He and I work very closely together. And quite frankly, if it gets to the point where he and I don’t agree, I think he would defer to me, which is pretty much what Dr. Buss would do, although from time to time, Dr. Buss would say, ‘Well Mitch…’ or ‘Well Jerry, I hear you, but we’re gonna do this.’ But most of the time, Dr. Buss and Jimmy would defer to the basketball person.”

Well I believe that statement is half true. I believe he has the exact same authority that he had under Jerry that he now has under Jimmy. I believe that Mitch is allowed to pursue trades and deals, but not take any action without the owner’s approval. However, I believe the next step/statement is where everything falls apart. I do believe that Jerry mostly listened to Mitch, but I believe that Jimmy has simply stuck his head in the sand. Why do I believe that? Because we saw amazing deals happen and adjustments happen under Jerry, but with Jimmy we have seen nothing but consistently bad ideas.

Remember when we drafted Andrew Bynum? That was when Jerry was grooming Jimmy to take over. Jimmy was the one who decided to draft Andrew; despite the fact that we knew he was going to have knee issues. Then for years Jimmy refused to allow any trade talks to revolve around him. Kobe hated Andrew Bynum, but Jimmy stuck to his guns despite Kobe even threatening to leave the Lakers. That’s right he was so stubborn we almost lost our super star over him. Then remember that Chris Paul trade that was vetoed? Notice how we were going to ship out Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol, aka 2 out of our big 3, but Andrew Bynum was conveniently staying put? The only reason we ever got rid of Andrew was because Mitch was able to convince Jerry in a moment of lucidity to swap him for Dwight Howard. Publicly Jimmy said that he supported that decision, but there have been rampant rumors that there was fighting over this deal.

Another moment that showed his absolute stubbornness at the detriment of the team: picking D’Antoni or Phil Jackson. Publicly, he has blamed that decision on his dead father, and his own sister shut him up and said that their father was way too sick to be involved in that discussion. I believe Jeannie since Jerry passed away shortly after. It is known publicly that Jimmy doesn’t like Phil and is intimidated by his knowledge. Smart leaders surround themselves with smart people that will challenge them. Remember Lincoln’s “Team of Rivals” or JFK’s “Devils Advocate?” I remember listening to Charles Barkley criticize Michael Jordan as an owner because he went out to dinner with him before draft night, and realized that Michael had surrounded himself with all “Yes Men.” In the end the Bobcats ended up drafting Adam Morrison instead of Brandon Roy. Unfortunately, that appears to be what Jimmy wants too, despite what Mitch is saying publicly.

I do not blame Mitch for making those comments. The Lakers have an image problem and it doesn’t do him any good to throw his owner under the bus. That never works out for anyone (just ask Charlie Sheen). However, that will not stop people like Magic and me from pointing out the obvious.

Mamba Busters

LakersKobe has been taking heat his entire career, but recently, critics have stepped it up a notch. Now they are claiming that the Lakers would be better off without him. We would certainly be better off without the massive contract, but not without the man.

That theory has floated around a bit for years, but it really came to head when the Lakers crushed the Golden State Warriors last week without Kobe. Kobe took the night off to rest due to all the ailments that come with old age.

After the impressive win, the reporters started asking whether the Lakers would be better without him. After all, they did play an amazing game without him. However, this game was a fluke. Sorry to burst your bubble Lakers fans. It is very common for teams to rally together and play a great game after their leader goes down.

My theory proved to be true when the Lakers suffered yet another Christmas Day Massacre. This one hurt even more since it was dished out by former Laker Pau Gasol.

Kobe did return last night, but unfortunately we still lost. You may say that this fact busts my theory. You may say that once Kobe returned everything went bag again but in reality it just shows the simple fact: the Lakers are a terrible team. Regardless of whether or not Kobe plays, we are going to lose and we are going to lose a lot. Sorry for the pessimistic note. However, with Kobe we at least have a fighting chance. The Lakers are 8-20 with Kobe, but without him we would have lost even more games. Remember, we went 1-2 without him in the lineup. We need players who can get their own shot, and right now he and Nick Young are the only ones doing that.

Instead of discussing whether or not the Lakers are better with or without Kobe, we should be discussing the inconsistency of Boozer and Lin. Right now the Lakers only have 2 consistent scoring threats. However, when Lin and Boozer play well, then they open up the entire floor. I am singling them out since we know they are capable. It is not unreasonable for me to expect at least 15 points per game from each of them. They have done it in the past, and they managed to step it up in Kobe’s absence, so now they need to do it on a consistent basis and stop relying so much on the Mamba. Otherwise they can say adios to LALA land.

The only way in which the Lakers benefit from Kobe’s absence is that it does force other players (like Lin and Boozer) not to rely on him. We constantly see them “Kobe watch”: that is when they just pass him the ball and stand around to see what he does. I do not blame Kobe for that, I blame the players. They need to stop being so dependent on him. He is 36 years old and has suffered multiple injuries; give the poor guy a break!

We are going through tough times in Lakerville, and I know that we all want to blame it on a scape goat (that’s what my favorite Buss siblings are here for right?), but we have to remember to appreciate Kobe. He is a legend, and we are so lucky to be able to witness his greatness. Years from now the next generation will ask us about watching him play, just like how I ask my dad about the Magic and Jerry West days.

Kobe is a hop skip and a jump away from retirement, so instead of wondering whether or not the Lakers play better without him, we need to cherish every single minute he is on the floor, because it won’t be long before his jersey is hanging in Staples with the rest of our legends.

East Coast v. West Coast: The Battle Between the Lakers and the Knicks, and a Free Agency Update

Carmelo and Kobe Staying PutThere has always been a rivalry between LA and NY, and I’m not just talking about Tupac and Biggie. People have always taken sides in the battle of the two cities. This spring the battlefield was on an ice rink, as the LA Kings took down the NY Rangers in the Stanley Cup finals (Ranger fans can suck it! Sorry I am still in cutthroat mode).

Personally, I’m torn. While I’m from LA and love living here, I definitely have the NY spirit since my family is from the Big Apple. As torn as I am between my love for the two cities, I am not at all torn in my allegiance to LA sports teams or my feelings about Phil Jackson going to the Knicks. I was furious the Lakers dropped the ball and allowed him to go to the Knicks, taking our basketball culture with him.

So far Phil signed Lamar Odom (of course he also waived him today), made Derrick Fisher head coach, and stole Kurt Rambis to make him an assistant coach. He tried to lure Pau Gasol back to his side and is planning to establish the triangle in NY.

When he signed with the Knicks a few months ago, this was my biggest fear. Now we are literally fighting with the Knicks over free agents, and so far Phil’s Knicks have been victorious in every battle. His latest “win,” the “coveted” Carmelo Anthony.

I have already expressed my opinions about Melo; he is both overrated and overpaid. Basically, that was one battle I hoped we would lose. I’m glad they’re stuck overpaying him (Phil Jackson knows it and tried selling Melo on a smaller contract last month, but failed); better them than us. Meanwhile, we re-signed Jordan Hill and Nick Young, two moves which make me very happy.

That brings me to Jeremy Lin. People seem to be happy that Linsanity is coming to LA, but hold your horses everyone; we are simply renting him for a year. He is massively overpaid and his contract expires in 2015. He is a solid player and will be entertaining to watch, but letting him go after one year will give the Lakers space to go after the plethora of available free agents in 2015 (management must be listening to me).

Unfortunately, I need to talk about Pau Gasol since his departure is imminent. He just tweeted that he has chosen to play for the Bulls (sorry Teri), and it is happening without a sign and trade deal. Back in February I said we needed to trade him in order to get something rather than just lose him in free agency. We didn’t, and now he is leaving. 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. Like Jeremy Lin he is overpaid, but his contract also expires after this season. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen so the Bulls are stuck with Boozer, and the Lakers lose Pau and get nothing in return.

On that happy note, I would like to point out that the Lakers are now 0-2 for keeping our players in free agency under “new” management. First Dwight walked away, and now Pau is leaving. This morning my mother asked me who is really running the Lakers now. Is it Mitch, Jeannie, or Kobe? She was not convinced that Jim was in charge. I told her he is, in fact, running things (which is why we are in our current state), and Jeannie’s recent public involvement is purely meant to appease the fans, players, and analysts. My mother sighed, rolled her eyes, and walked away. I feel that sums up how all of us Lakers fans feel at the moment.

Before I end, since it is the biggest NBA story right now, I feel it is my duty to mention LeBron. I take great pride in being right about my basketball analysis; just see my “I Told You So” blog. However, I have to admit I was wrong about LeBron. My Miami based Grandma Barbara called Thursday night in a panic over the prospect of LeBron leaving the Heat. I assured her that was not going to happen. Sorry Grandma. Although I prepared her months in advance for the Heat’s defeat in the finals – I told her they’d cruise there and then get crushed (sound familiar?), I did not prepare her for LeBron’s departure. In fairness, I was unaware that LeBron had changed his priorities. When he went to the Heat, he said he expected to win more than 7 championships while he was there. In his recent SI article, however, LeBron made it clear his legacy and heart are in Cleveland and that is more important than winning, “My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball.”

Since this blog is all about us Lakers fans, here is the good news about LeBron’s return to the Cavs: comparisons between Kobe and LeBron now end. While I am intrigued to see how LeBron will play with his new young teammates, I highly doubt that they will win a championship. If they do win, it will not be for years. I do not think LeBron will be able to get free agents to come to Cleveland. He couldn’t do it the first time around, and I do not think the 2 rings he won under Pat Riley in Miami will change that. Kobe will, and should, be compared to Michael and Magic, not to LeBron; 5>2.

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.