Let’s Get Ready for the New Season

laker_dad

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

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

Kobe’s Last Game

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

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

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

Looking Ahead

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

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

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

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

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Lakers Lacking in Trade Deadline Deals

My Dad and I enjoying a rare Lakers win on January 29th against the Bulls.

My Dad and I enjoying a rare Lakers win on January 29th against the Bulls.

Yesterday, as the clock struck noon in Los Angeles, our Lakers remained just as bad as they were at 11:59 am. This is because the Lakers failed to make a single move before the trade deadline. It amazes me that with so many teams putting players on the chopping block, we were unable to make a single trade.

Now you might be thinking, “The Lakers have no assets to trade, why would anyone make a deal with them?” While this is a good question (a question my father has asked me on multiple occasions) I will give you an answer. While we may not have a wide array of “good players” we do have a plethora of expiring contracts. Here are the list of players who will be free agents this summer: Carlos Boozer, Ed Davis, Wayne Ellington, Jordan Hill, Wesley Johnson, Jeremy Lin, Steve Nash, and Ronnie Price.

When teams make a trade they want at least one of the following: good player, draft pick, cut in salary cap, and or expiring contract to elevate the cap for the following year. So while we are lacking in the first 3 options, we were certainly able to give up some of our players. It is OK that we don’t have a good player or draft pick to go along with it, because as we have seen of late in the NBA, 3 team trades have become very popular. This is not surprising since with the new CBA agreement, it is very difficult to hit any sort of trifecta trade without bringing in additional teams.

Instead of engaging in a 3 team trade to gain some assets going into the very competitive free agency market. We decided to stick with the game plan of using the Lakers brand to lure in free agents. As I write this, I want to scream into my pillow.

On Tuesday night, I read that we were the front runners to get Goran Dragic. For some reason this kid wanted to come and play for the Lakers. Instead of pouncing on the opportunity, we let the Heat snag him. Granted, he is going to be a free agent this summer so we can still pursue him, but it will be a much harder sell after going to a team being run by Pat Riley. The Heat might be re-discovering themselves right now, but they will not be down for long. (Side note: I would like to wish a speedy recovery to Chris Bosh who is currently ill with blood clots.)

Unfortunately, the Lakers failed to make any productive changes to entice the free agents. Now it is time to sit back, watch the rest of the season unfold and see if my rants about the Lakers game plan make it into my “Throwback Thursday: I Told You So” blog.

P.S. This blog was a bit of a downer. So to cheer you up I wanted to share this article my friend Joel sent me. Enjoy!

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.

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).

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.

 

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.