In a story that every Los Angeles Lakers supporter, fan, or advocate will soon have read, Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowski tells all in a recent column following the Lakers loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
In the article, Wojnarowski discusses everything wrong with the current Lakers squad. He begins with a statement about why the organization hired head coach Mike D’Antoni. Next he moves on to Laker Vice-President Jim Buss who believed that former Laker coach Phil Jackson would not have correctly utilized point guard Steve Nash and would have tried to “move nash out”
The biggest issue Lakers vice president Jim Buss had with choosing Phil Jackson over Mike D’Antoni as head coach centered on the consequences for Steve Nash. With no use for this point guard in the triangle offense, Buss’s fear was that Jackson would’ve pushed to move Nash out, sources said.
“The way this turns out,” one league source connected to the hiring process said, “you’ve chosen not only Steve Nash over [Pau] Gasol, but maybe over Gasol and Dwight [Howard].”
To say the Lakers been below expectations this season would be a sever understatement. They are currently 17 – 25 which places them 3rd in the Pacific Division and 12th in the Western Conference standings, far from the championship aspirations the team had after acquiring stars Dwight Howard and Nash.
Buss doubled down on the wrong coach, and wrong player. D’Antoni and Nash are busts, unable to bring the systematic and connective threads to a lineup that they were charged to regenerate. As far back out of the playoffs as these Lakers have dropped, here’s the most disturbing truth: Los Angeles is closer to the drop-dead bottom of the Western Conference with Phoenix and New Orleans – three games – than they are climbing four games to reach the eighth spot in the Western Conference playoffs.
On top of that reality Lakers power forward Pau Gasol is reportedly bracing for a trade he believes will soon come,
Nevertheless, D’Antoni has marginalized Gasol, leaving him livid and privately expecting to be traded before the February deadline for an athletic forward who fits his coaching designs. Buss believed that Nash had been neutralized in the Princeton offense, sources say, and that he would never flourish with the changes – blessed by the organization over the summer, by the way – that Brown implemented for the season.
Two years ago, Buss chose Mike Brown over Kupchak’s choice, Rick Adelman. This time, it was the desert myth of D’Antoni and Nash, a reunion that feels like it should be touring state fairs with REO Speedwagon.
Wojnarowski touched upon how bad the Lakers currently are and how Jackson would have led this team away from a mess like this,
The Lakers are a flat-lined, free-falling folly, an embarrassment of excess, a mangle of mismatched and non-connective parts. Whatever confrontational message Kobe Bryant delivered to Howard in a team meeting reported by the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday morning, make no mistake: The Bryant-Howard dynamic is the most minimal of the Lakers’ issues.
Under Jackson, the Lakers would’ve played through Gasol, Howard and Bryant in the post, would’ve dictated terms through the strengths of the franchise’s Hall of Fame players. Under Jackson, the Lakers would’ve had a leader of men to gather them out of this rubble.
The team’s best stretch of basketball this season was during the transition of former coach Mike Brown to D’Antoni. Assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff coached the team for five games and went 4 – 1 by making everything as simple as possible,
For the Lakers to fire D’Antoni with three years left on his new contract – just after they fired Mike Brown with three years left – would leave them buried with $25 million in coaching payouts. And then, who do you get? Forget Jackson. That can’t happen now. Funny, but everyone on the Lakers knows that the best week this team played happened to be under Bernie Bickerstaff, who simplified the offense, played traditional sets and had the Lakers hustling on defense in winning four of five games in November.
Trade rumors within the past few weeks have also included Dwight due to him not speaking about signing a new deal with the Lakers. Despite the rumors, the Lakers are not looking to move their future star but doubt about his future is certainly beginning to creep in on Howard’s part,
For those who’ve called the Lakers on Howard’s availability – the Dallas Mavericks and the Atlanta Hawks – the message has been unmistakable: Howard isn’t available, nor will that change before the February deadline.
The Lakers understand that Los Angeles gives everything Howard wants to be a global star, gives him the guarantee of a five-year, $100 million extension this summer. They don’t believe he’ll walk, and yet as one source tied to the Lakers and Howard says: “Even if they’re right, and Dwight stays, do you want Dwight unhappy and feeling uninvolved with D’Antoni?”
Wojnarowski even discussed how D’Antoni turned the Knicks away from acquiring Howard and sparked their interest in Tyson Chandler
As New York Knicks coach, D’Antoni issued a clear stance in organizational discussions on a possible pursuit of Howard: He wasn’t a fan. He told Knicks front-office staff stories about how the elders of USA Basketball preferred Tyson Chandler to Howard, and that the Knicks would be wise to adopt that thinking, a source with knowledge of the conversations told Yahoo! Sports.
The entire story is worth the read and can bring new light onto the troubling situation within Los Angeles, with so many different story lines unfolding it is very difficult to tell which one is the most important. Nonetheless, I have hope that the Lakers will turn it around. It will just take more time than usual.