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.

The Sex and SnapChat Scandal

1280_dangelo_russell_gettyYesterday, I sat in my kitchen watching D’Angelo Russell give a press conference to apologize for recording a video of Nick Young confessing to cheating on his fiancé Iggy Azalea. All I could think was: “Are you kidding me? How could this kid be so stupid?”

Let’s back up a day and breakdown this whole situation. On Tuesday night this video went viral for the world to see. When that alert came up on my phone I simply stared at it for a minute in disbelief. Then I rolled my eyes because I could believe it. All year, both D’Angelo Russell and Nick Young have shown their immaturity and poor decision making.

Byron Scott has come under fire for constantly criticizing them, but they need it. Whenever Scott has complained about their maturity, they simply say they ignore his comments. That should show just how immature they are. If your coach and leader is telling you that he doesn’t approve of your behavior, then the appropriate response is to evaluate what you are doing and try to make adjustments.

This all came back into the media last week when Nick Young was accused of cat calling and sexually harassing two women. I didn’t write a blog about this issue when the story broke. Clearly this is a he-said-she-said situation. I have my own opinions about what happened, but I have no proof, so I will let you all come to your own conclusions.

Now that I have gone on my rant about their childish behavior, let me get back to the main scandal at hand. When I listen to all the excuses both Russell and his supporters have made for him, I just get annoyed.

He claims this was a personal video that he never intended for anyone to see. We all live in the digital age. We have seen a plethora of celebrity sex tapes and nude pictures. Nothing is safe from hackers, and if just one person gets something private, then the world will see. Russell knows this. In high school he was recruited for college. Since I went to college only a few years before him, I can assure you all they gave us the same warnings. We are all told to be careful on social media and not to post anything anywhere that might be damaging. After Russell went to college he was then scouted by the NBA teams. I am sure their PI’s looked into him even more closely. Therefore, he knows better. Any notion that he didn’t think this would be found is simply disingenuous.

Also, this video supposedly came from SnapChat. Everyone in my generation knows that nothing on SnapChat really disappears. People can save anything you send them. Additionally, now SnapChat also allows you to view pictures and videos for a second time. This gives a viewer ample opportunity to save the video/picture or just take a screen shot on their phone.

D’Angelo said this video was a prank gone wrong. My question is: How is this funny? Do you see anyone laughing? Nick Young and Iggy Azalea are clearly not laughing since their engagement might be over. The Lakers organization doesn’t find this negative publicity amusing.

People have been saying that Russell broke the “Bro Code.” I resent that statement. He didn’t break “Bro Code,” he broke the “Friendship Code.” Friends never secretly record each other making incriminating statements. That is something a blackmailer would do. Friends do not break up relationships. Friends do not make their friends look bad. Friends do not publicize their friends’ secrets.

Some of my feminist readers might be wondering why I am not yelling at Nick Young for cheating in this post. My answer is simple: it is none of my damn business. Whether or not Iggy decides to leave Nick is her decision. Nick Young is not my fiancé. He is the player on the Lakers. I only care about him in a professional capacity. If I could only root for players who were faithful to their wives, then I would never watch sports. Players “extracurricular activities” are none of my business, and never should be made public.

0330-sub-azelea-russell-young-twitter-4

Now that the video is public, you might be wondering how this will affect the Lakers. Well, on Monday night (the Lakers were aware of this video going public) the Lakers suffered their worst lost. They lost by 48 point to Utah. In that game, the players refused to pass to Russell or even sit next to him on the bench. At the team breakfast he was also forced to sit alone.

Russell

The trust is gone from the locker room. I have spoken a lot about having faith in the future of the franchise. I was very hopeful for this young core group. However, this incident is going to cause a huge problem. There have already been trade rumors. I believe that we will see Nick Young either traded or waived this summer.This is the core of my anger: Russell screwed up the chemistry and the future of my team.

Despite everything, Russell is still the future of the franchise and the Lakers need to hope that he can mend fences with his teammates. They were able to win in overtime yesterday, so maybe not all hope is lost.

Time is on his side, and it is possible. Kobe did reveal Shaq’s infidelities back in the day, but no one seems to care anymore. After the game, Kobe spoke to the press about forgiveness and being human. For one more week, Kobe will be the leader of this team, so we will see how much he can influence his team.

Maybe Russell will take this new found hatred and develop a mamba type alter ego like Kobe did after his arrest. Only time will tell, but it will be a long road.

Tomorrow is April Fool’s Day aka national practical joke day, but I have a feeling that the Lakers two biggest jokesters will not be playing any pranks.

Draft Day: Predictions for the Number 2 Pick

Byron Scott Representing the Lakers at the Lottery

Byron Scott Representing the Lakers at the Lottery

Yesterday Lakers fans were rewarded with a rare win when the Lakers procured the #2 pick in the lottery. Less than an hour after the victory, I was already being bombarded with questions. My fans want to know who they will draft. Have no fear LakHer fans, I am here! Christy and Teri, this blog is for you as promised.

I will fully admit, that I am not a big college basketball fan. It is simply not my cup of tea. However, I did watch the championship game, and I have done my research on the top picks, so here is my assessment:

All indications seem to point to the Lakers picking Jahlil Okafor. He is the center from Duke, and there are certainly some great reasons to pick him. Offensively he is a great and polished center. My biggest problem with him is his deficient defensive ability. He lacks shot blocking skills and appears to need a lot of work defending the paint. Also, he cannot shoot his free throws, and as Lakers fans we are all familiar with having centers who can’t hit their free throws. ***Cough Cough*** “Hack a Shaq” ***Cough Cough*** “Hack a Howard.” Do you catch my drift?

Do not get me wrong, I am not opposed to us drafting Okafor. I think he is very promising. If we keep Julius Randle and Okafor, then we can have “Twin Towers” again, and I really miss having two bigs. Additionally, the Lakers have been known to utilize Kareem’s coaching skills to polish players. I think a Coach K student would be very receptive to taking advice from one of the greatest centers of all time. Dwight and Bynum proved to be poor students, but I think Okafor would be Kareem’s sponge. Therefore, I have faith that under Kareem’s guidance, Okafor can improve his defensive game.

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.

P.S. Stay tuned this summer for my full analysis covering free agency. I will discuss the players the Lakers should target, and the approach they should use.

Kobe reacting to the Lakers winning the #2 pick

LakHer Blog: Thanksgiving Edition

Happy-ThanksgivingHello LakHer fans! I know that I have been radio silent for a while (sorry Zjelko), but I have a good reason for it. As you all know I try not to post negative blogs. I will give constructive criticism, but I will never just rant. I always try to offer a solution. However, I am not going to lie, things are pretty bad in Lakerland. Honestly, there is not much I can say to lift your spirits or suggestions I can give to improve our team. Our current roster is terrible. I was hopeful that Julius Randle would be a bright spot this year, but since he injured himself in the first game, we need to move on for the time being. Barring some big trade (which seems unlikely since all the owners around the league seem to have made their own agreement not give the Lakers any valuable players and since we have nothing to give in return) we are screwed.

Now, I hate making blanket statements like that, particularly ones that are so negative, so I will offer the one spot in which the Lakers can and must improve: defense. The Lakers have the worst defense in the league. They gave up 140 points to Dallas the other night; that is just pathetic. I can accept the fact that the Lakers have a less talented team. I can accept the fact that besides Kobe Bryant and Nick Young, the Lakers are going to struggle to score. However, I cannot accept poor defense. Defense does not require a lot of skill; it is all about effort. Anderson Varejao is a mediocre player at best, but he has stuck around in the league because he will harass any player he is told to defend. He makes simple plays difficult, and that’s the point of defense.

Byron Scott promised us premiere defense when he became our coach. He knew that fans like me were sick of the D’Antoni-no-defense style. However, we have yet to see him deliver on his promise. I will go easy on him, since the Lakers put together almost an entirely new group of people, and chemistry does take time (just ask the Cavs), but I do expect some major improvements on the defensive end. I am a bit of a stat junkie. I can spend hours on ESPN’s stat page going over every single detail. So I decided to give my loyal readers a little taste of the good stuff. I wanted to analyze this defensive problem that the Lakers are having. First, I want to rule out D’Antoni’s fear that we aren’t scoring enough. The Lakers are doing fine on the offensive end, as they are currently ranked at #12 averaging 101.4 points per game. Turnovers are also not the issue since the Lakers are only giving up 12.2 per game making them 6th best in the league. Now that we have ruled out offense as the issue (see D’Antoni), I will move on to the defense. The Lakers are simply giving up too many easy shots. Teams are averaging 110.8 points per game against us, making us the worst defense in the league. Additionally, the teams are scoring efficiently. Teams are shooting 48.9% from the field and 39.3% from 3-point land. Those numbers are unacceptable.

On a happier note, since we are in the Holiday season, and we are supposed to be saying what we are thankful for, I will point out the few bright spots of the season. This way we can at least get through the dog days without crying (too much).

Kobe Bryant and the ESPN #40 ranking

I have two words for ESPN, “Thank you.” Kobe uses lots of things to motivate him, but people doubting him comes in pretty high on the list. Honestly, it is probably right under winning championships.

He is a little less explosive but his footwork and moves are still there. Right now he is the scoring leader averaging 26.4 points per game. I do not think that is sustainable, but he is making a point. I believe that he will end up averaging about 20 points a game this year. I believe this for a few reasons. First, he will want to show ESPN that they were wrong and he is still relevant. Second, this Lakers team doesn’t have a lot of scoring weapons so he will need to score out of necessity, but with Scott admitting that Kobe’s minutes will go down (because now they are way too high at 35.2 per game making him sixth highest in the league) he will have less time to score. Lastly, and most importantly he will need to average 20 points a game in order to pass Michael Jordan on the All Time Scoring List in December. I think that spot on the list means more to Kobe than any other record. He has always been compared to Jordan and taking that spot from him will help his case. Kobe will probably not be able to acquire that sixth ring, but he can take Jordan’s scoring spot away from him.

Nick Young

Hallelujah! Swaggy P is back and healthy! Upon Nick’s return, the Lakers won their first 2 games in a row. It was a holiday miracle! He is the type of player that we need to get through this really tough season. We are going to lose a lot of games, but he is going to make some crazy shots that end up on ESPN’s top 10 plays. Before he was in the lineup, these games were depressing. The last couple of games have not been his best, but he is getting his swagger back, and I am excited to see him get back to his best form. I always speak highly of Nick because he is everything you want in a sixth man: burst of energy, loves his position, and an instant game changer. Sure, I make fun of his hair, and some the stupid decisions he makes, but overall I think he is wonderful and I am so happy we have him.

Jordan Hill

I remember being very skeptical when the Lakers gave Jordan such a massive contract in the off season, but so far he has proved his worth. He has been our only defensive anchor on a very crappy defensive team. He has had 8 double doubles this year while averaging about 10 rebounds per game. No matter how badly the rest of the team is playing, he is always putting in the effort.

Last night’s first half against Memphis

I was so impressed watching the first half against Memphis. The Lakers were moving the ball, and playing great defense. Ronnie Price made some amazing plays. The whole Lakers team was playing together, and Kobe was able to rest and take very few shots. Everyone stepped up and it was impressive to watch us beating one of the best teams in the Western Conference. If the Lakers could sustain that effort and chemistry through an entire game, then they would actually be a bit dangerous, however we have yet to really see that happen. Since I am saying what I am thankful for, I will not go into what happened in the second half, needless to say there is a reason why I am not thankful for it.

Steve Nash is no longer a distraction (sort of)

Besides angering fans by playing golf, Steve Nash is out of sight and out of mind. It was announced earlier this season that he was officially done for the season. He said he was going to take his $9.7 million, because he would be an idiot not to. While it wasn’t the classiest move, I don’t necessarily disagree with him. It is hard to walk away from that much money, no matter how much you are worth. Additionally, this man has no loyalty to the Lakers, if anything, he has more reason than most to want to screw us over since we thwarted any chance of him ever getting a ring for a decade. When the announcement came that he was officially done, all I wanted to do was yell and scream, “I TOLD YOU SO!!!!!” Don’t worry fans, I will be adding the announcement to that blog as well.

The other night my parents were complaining that Nash wasn’t sitting on the bench. My mom asked, “Shouldn’t all injured players be in their suits on the bench? Where is he?” to which my dad replied, “Playing golf.” In theory, Nash should be sitting his ass on the bench watching every single home game. In reality, it is better to keep him far away. Fans hate him, and seeing his face only reminds them of the failed “big 3.”  When we are over the hate, we should have him return to the bench where he can assist. Luke Walton did the same thing whenever he had a back injury and it was very helpful. Jeremy Lin could really use some guidance from the future Hall of Fame point guard. Every time I watch Lin handle the ball I can feel him over thinking it. In the first half last night, he was back in Linsanity form, but in the second half (when everything else for the Lakers fell apart) he kept turning the ball over because he kept over thinking. Maybe Nash can help him learn how to read and react as opposed to getting stuck in the plays. If Nash could help resurrect Linsanity then Lakers fans would get over the amount of money we have paid Nash to sit on the bench (or at home).

How Stern Exacerbated the Sterling Saga

chris-paul-sternHey LakHer fans! Hope you didn’t miss me too much!  I am back after letting “legal expert” Adam Waks take over for a few days. The Sterling debacle has lead to a lot of discussion and debate. It has stirred up a lot of emotions for everyone who has been touched by this story.

Adam covered some of the legal issues surrounding this saga in the last few days, but now I want to look back a bit further. People have been criticizing the NBA for failing to take action against Donald Sterling sooner. There have been accusations for years: between the DOJ settlement and the Elgin Baylor termination lawsuit. People want to know why the NBA didn’t take action in those cases. Well, without going too deep into the legal issues (since I like to leave those to Adam), I can say that they probably did not have a choice.

The DOJ case was settled, and that does not necessarily mean Sterling was guilty. Of course, we now can all believe that Sterling was guilty, but people settle for various reasons. He may have thought it was cheaper to settle than fight, certain pieces of evidence brought up at trial could have tarnished his reputation, or he simply did not want to deal with the negative publicity. During his press conference, Silver explained that every allegation was investigated; unfortunately, once the case was settled, their investigation probably ended as well.

The same goes for Elgin Baylor. I will always have faith in my Laker, but he lost his case in court. Sterling was given due process, so the NBA was cornered. The NBA cannot punish Sterling on Baylor’s word alone, especially once the courts ruled in Sterling’s favor. My fans may be unhappy with this view, but since I come from a family of lawyers (sorry Grandma Barbara), I must respect the process.

Of course, there have been other allegations over the years. Baron Davis accused Sterling of heckling him during practice. I have no idea if those allegations were investigated. However, it is public knowledge that NBA have tried to convince Sterling to sell in the past, therefore it would make sense that they would try to get as much ammunition as possible to entice him to sell.

Now, here is where there is a wrinkle in the story. In December 2011, David Stern forever tainted his reputation as commissioner by vetoing the Chis Paul trade to the Lakers. Stern let owners like Dan Gilbert bully him into overturning a trade. There was no legitimate reason for this veto; the owners were simply tired of the Lakers getting superstars.

There is a reason why the Lakers attract superstars. We had a wonderful owner in Dr. Buss, we are located in beautiful Los Angeles, and we are one of the most successful franchises in history.

Owners can bemoan all they want, but we are a great organization. However, that year David Stern had the power to veto a trade made by the Hornets. It is ironic that I am complaining about how Stern took over a team from an owner, but I am rejoicing in Silver doing the exact same thing to Sterling. Believe me, I see it.

However, this move was catastrophic for everyone. First off, we ended up with two unhappy all stars, and eventually had to trade Lamar Odom for draft picks. Those draft picks eventually led to the acquisition of Steve Nash (see this whole veto is still biting us in the ass).

Next, and more importantly, Stern gave CP3 to Sterling on a silver platter. For 30 years the Clippers had been a punch line, but now they are contenders.

The acquisition of Chris Paul substantially increased the value of the Clippers. Sterling bought the Clippers for $12.5 million back in 1981. However, the Milwaukee Bucks were recently sold for a cool $550 million. The Bucks are a small market, unsuccessful team. This means that we can expect Sterling to make a huge profit by selling the team. Big offers will come in from the ever expanding list of interested celebrities. He will make a much more substantial profit now, then he would have if that trade had never been vetoed.

 

 

 

My Silence

Shhh! I am reading my favorite Lakers blog!

Shhh! I am reading my favorite Lakers blog!

I know it has been a while since I have posted to this blog (my apologies Christy). To be perfectly honest I do have a reason: I have found it extremely difficult to watch the Lakers the last few weeks. The games have been so brutal that it is hard to find the will and the energy to both find them online and stay up until 1 in the morning just to watch them lose.

The other night my friend Abi convinced me to put on the Bulls game since it had gone to overtime. By the time I found the game I just caught the game winning shot. That’s right, my only image of that game was Harris laying it in with virtually no one stopping him. I have complained about the Lakers defense all season long so I am not surprised that it was their downfall yet again. However, here is the kicker, I am not going to use this post to complain.

I hate those blogs that simply whine without offering constructive criticism, and since I am not going to offer constructive criticism I will not whine. I said in the beginning of the season that we would be mediocre and I was upset that we would go down that road. With back-to-back summers of epic free agency and deep drafts it seemed illogical not to play that game. Sure we are opening up cap space but that seems like a lost pursuit. Honestly I do not think we have a great shot at getting “Super Star” quality free agents. The fit doesn’t seem to be there, but we may have a shot at a few solid role players. Instead, I think we have a great shot of getting some great draft picks if we play our cards right.

I know it isn’t the Lakers way to tank a season and get a top pick. Normally our GM works some magic and makes a trade. However, times have changed. People hate giving us good players because they hate seeing us win. If you don’t believe me just look back a couple of years ago when David Stern nixed our Chris Paul trade because the other owners were mad that we got him. Therefore, I think it is extremely unlikely that anyone will give us a draft pick, especially since we have nothing to offer. Anyone want a 40 year old point guard who can’t go a game without hurting himself?

Now I know that Lakers fans are hoping for a resurgence like last year. They want the team to go together go on a tear to squeeze into the playoffs. However, I would like to remind those fans that we got swept last year in an embarrassing fashion. I just don’t see the point in getting to the playoffs if you know you don’t have a shot.

I am going to be completely honest. Looking at a best case scenario of everyone being healthy and playing with great chemistry, we still lose in the first round. We simply aren’t talented enough. I appreciate this team and the fact that they leave it all on the floor. These boys play with all their heart and that is something that his been missing in our diva team for a while. However, heart only goes so far. We saw on the Christmas day game that even though they played so hard and managed to disrupt the Big 3, they could not win the game because Miami is more talented.

That is why I am going to end this blog on a bittersweet note. I want us to keep losing and go for a top pick. They are cheaper and don’t have the egos of the more established players in the NBA. Also, they are probably more likely to let Kobe continue to run the team for a couple of more years (if his health permits). I have hope in this regard. After all, if there is one thing D’Antoni is good at doing, it is losing.

Help Wanted: Guards

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Help Wanted: Guards

Right now the Lakers have 3 injured guards: Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and Jordan Farmar. In a league that is being taken over by guards, Mitch needs to bring in some help. Our bench has already exceeded all expectations by staying in the .500 range without Bryant and Nash, but now it has lost an important member that made up a lot of that scoring. Henry and Young are shooting way more than most small forwards do and Meeks and Johnson have been impressive shooting guards this season, but we lack point guards.

Steve Blake is our only uninjured point guard. Mike has been basically playing Meeks and Johnson in the point position, but they are shooting guards, not point guards. We need someone who is going to set up plays and get guys easy shots, and no offense to our team, but none of them draw a double team.

Since it appears that both Kobe and Jordan will be returning to the line up soon, Mitch should sign a point guard or two to a short term contract. If the guards are only playing a few games it should not mess up any team chemistry, but could alleviate some pressure. Then when Kobe returns he will hog the ball anyway so point guards will be unnecessary.