Kobe Bryant

After 16 NBA Championships and 31 Western Conference Titles, the Lakers have been one of the most storied and successful franchises in NBA history. From the eras of West, Chamberlain, Kareem, Magic, and Kobe, there have been countless record-breaking performances and memorable games that have added to Lakers glory. Let’s take a look back at some notable moments for the purple and gold, from the week of March 16-22, over their 66-year history.

March 16, 2000

With a 109-102 loss to the Wizards, the Lakers’ season-high 19-game winning streak ended in Washington, D.C. At the time, Los Angeles’ streak was the third best in NBA history. It currently ranks 6th on the NBA’s all-time winning streak list.

March 19, 1956

The Minneapolis Lakers won Game 2 of the Western Division Finals against the St. Louis Hawks by a score of 133-75. All ten Lakers who played in the game scored in double figures. This 58-point margin of victory is the highest ever in the history of the NBA playoffs.

March 19, 1972

The Lakers beat the Golden State Warriors 162-99 in Los Angeles. This victory marked the most lopsided score differential in NBA history, at the time. Gail Goodrich paced the Lakers with 30 points, while Jim McMillian added 22 points in the win. This 63-point margin of victory stood for 19 years as highest in NBA history, until Cleveland defeated Miami by 68 points in 1991.

 J.D. Cuban/Getty Images

J.D. Cuban/Getty Images

March 20, 1990

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s number 33 jersey was retired during halftime of an eventual Lakers’ win against Charlotte in Los Angeles. Abdul-Jabbar’s jersey went into the rafters of the Great Western Forum as the jersey of the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.

March 21, 2004

Kobe Bryant hit a game-winning jump shot over Keith Van Horn with 25.1 seconds left in overtime, as the Lakers defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 104-103 at the Staples Center. Bryant, who recorded 22 points and eight rebounds in the game, was the second best Laker performer on the night, as Shaquille O’Neal finished with 31 points and an NBA season-high 26 rebounds. This win marked the fifth straight for the Lakers, and ninth in 11 games.

While Laker fans are undoubtedly upset over the Phil Jackson making his way to the New York Knicks, it is important to remember that the situation is not on the shoulders of one particular member of the Buss family.

It is easy for everyone to point the finger at Jim Buss, the Executive Vice President of the Lakers as well as the main man running the basketball operations of the team, mainly citing the publicized ‘bad relationship’ between him and Jackson over the years.

In his article “No Phil Jackson shows Kobe Bryant doesn’t run Lakers”, Sam Amick of USA Today Sports, shed some light on the Lakers-Jackson situation including a bombshell:

This will all make for another great Lakers book someday, and maybe then we’ll find out if all the chatter is true that Jerry made Jim swear in his final days that Jackson would never return after he was gone…  It would shock no one, then, if it turned out that the senior Buss’ aversion to Jackson’s return was extended out of respect to their father from there.

Could Dr. Jerry Buss have been the driving force behind Jackson not returning to the Lakers? If true, does that change the perception of Jim Buss amongst fans who have no issue blaming him for the team’s troubles?

Friday afternoon on ESPN AM 710 in Los Angeles, Ramona Shelburne talked more in-depth about the dynamic surrounding Jackson not coming back to the Lakers, saying it was not only one of Buss children who had reservations about Jackson joining the franchise, but multiple Buss children that were uncertain about creating a role for the legendary coach.

According to Shelburne, the Buss children had ongoing discussions since December regarding the Jackson situation but with multiple members of the family against the change, it never reached a vote.  Additionally she mentioned it was a case of the family wanting to continue with the franchise structure their father left for them, instead of changing it a little over a year after his death.

In the end, was this simply a situation of children carrying out what their late father wanted?  While nothing has been confirmed directly (and it may never be), it is easy to understand how the family would go down this road in order to honor their father and his wishes.

Now with Jackson out of the picture, the Buss family can continue on the path laid out for them without the pressure of the fans calling for another figure head to take control of the purple and gold.

It is time for the Buss children to show what they can do.

March 13, 2014 — 6:30 PM (PST)
Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
TV: TNT / TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

Since the last Lakers game when they upset the Oklahoma City Thunder, a lot has happened in Lakerland in the past 24 hours. Phil Jackson‘s possibility of joining the Knicks, the announcement that SG Kobe Bryant will be out for the rest of this season, Bryant and Lakers legend Magic Johnson making a “hail-mary” pitch to make Phil Jackson reconsider, and also Bryant reportedly wants Lakers Head Coach Mike D’Antoni fired. 

With all this drama ensuing in Los Angeles, many of you have probably forgotten that the Lakers have a game tonight vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (46-17). They actually upset the Thunder this Sunday, 114-110, in front of national audience.

Jodie Meeks has a career night, dominating the Thunder by shooting 11-18 from the field, shooting 6-11 from three and was a perfect 14-14 from the free throw line. Meeks has been one of the bright spots of what has otherwise been a very dismal season, scoring 15.3 PPG, shooting 45.5% from the field and 39.9% from behind the 3-point line, which are all career highs.

The Lakers won by making 13 three-pointers in order to go on that marvelous 3rd quarter run in which they outscored the Thunder 36-19.

The Thunder seek to come back from Sunday’s loss and protect their home floor vs. Lakers.

Thunder F Kevin Durant, who only shot 19 times vs. Lakers in their last meeting, seek to be more aggressive and become more assertive driving to the basket. The Lakers have nobody to match up with Durant pound-for-pound, so Durant needs to demand the ball to prevent his team from getting upset again.

Projected Starters

PG – Russell Westbrook / Kendall Marshall [Advantage: Thunder]
SG – Perry Jones III / Jodie Meeks [Advantage: Lakers]
SF – Kevin Durant / Kent Bazemore [Advantage: Thunder]
PF – Serge Ibaka / Wesley Johnson [Advantage: Thunder]
C – Steven Adams / Pau Gasol [Advantage: Lakers]

Notable Bench Players

Thunder: G Derek Fisher, G Jeremy Lamb, F Nick Collison, SF Caron Butler
Lakers: PG Jordan Farmar, C Robert Sacre, F Ryan Kelly, Marshon Brooks, Xavier Henry

Bench Advantage: Thunder

Injury List

Thunder: Out-C Kendrick Perkins, Out-G Thabo Sefelosha
Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant,  Out-PG Steve Nash, Out-F Jordan Hill Out-F Nick Young

Key to Victory

Frustrate Westbrook: The Lakers beat the Thunder twice in the last 2 seasons. Both times, the Lakers frustrated PG Russell Westbrook, forcing him to take bad, highly contested shots, and keep the ball out of Durant’s hand. Westbrook shot 7-23 from the field goal, taking very bad shots during the process. I expect Westbrook to play much better tonight especially on their home floor. However, the chances of stopping Westbrook is higher than stopping Durant.

Bottom Line

With a lot of smoke and fire surrounding the Lakers off the floor, the team have to focus on the task at hand and try to execute on both ends of the floor to defeat the Thunder again. Veteran C Pau Gasol has to lead the players by keeping them focused on what happens on the floor and not what happens. The Sunday’s victory vs. Thunder was sweet. However, major difficulties exist to defeat the Thunder twice in a row.

Prediction

Thunder: 120-111

As the Lakers wind down what has arguably been the worst season in franchise history, fans and media alike are asking what does the future hold for the purple and gold.

The summer of 2014 has been a key point of the Lakers plan to return to prominence for the last few years, it is the reason why a number of players were signed to one-year deals as the free agent class has some significant players that could turn teams drastically into contenders.

While it remains to be seen what the Lakers will do on the player personnel front this offseason, there is one move the team can make over the final two months of the season and it is a necessary one.

Fire Mike D’Antoni.

Now before you start thinking this is another hate-fueled article you read on other Lakers websites, blaming D’Antoni for all the Lakers troubles this season, please note that this is not one of them.

Do I expect the Lakers to be title contenders next season with or without D’Antoni?  I would be unrealistic if I said yes without hesitation.  The fact is we do not know how the roster will look next season and we are not sure how Kobe Bryant looks in his return (although I would put money on him looking close to the Kobe we have all come to expect).

One thing is for certain, the Lakers cannot go through another season like the one they are currently having.

Firing D’Antoni is not about turning the team around with a single coaching change, nor am I saying another coach would have done a better job with the current roster situation.

What it is about is laying a foundation for future Lakers teams and its success, something that needs to start this summer instead of accepting another season of transition.

If the Lakers were to allow D’Antoni to stay on for one more season, the decision could have a crippling affect on the franchise past next season and here are some reasons why D’Antoni should not be in any plans moving forward:

FREE AGENTS

The thought that players will want to come play for the Lakers because they are the Lakers is no longer viable.

Are the Lakers still an attractive destination?  Yes, it always will be because of the tradition and history of legendary players, but make no mistake, it is not viewed the same as it was when Dr. Jerry Buss was running the team.

Will elite players come play for Mike D’Antoni? History says no as the biggest free agent that signed with a D’Antoni led team was Amare Stoudemire and the New York Knicks in 2010, but also struck out on signing LeBron James and Dwayne Wade.

He is known as a coach that could get role players to play up to their potential but from his time in New York and short-time in Los Angeles, his inability to deal with star players as well as veterans is concerning to say the least.   Dwight Howard did what no superstar had done before … leave the Lakers.  For whatever reasons that are said about that decision, one constant was his relationship with D’Antoni.

In New York, he eventually wore out his welcome with players such as Carmelo Anthony and even players like Stoudemire, who played for D’Antoni previously in Phoenix.

Looking ahead to 2015, the Lakers are expected to be major players in the Kevin Love sweepstakes but with his recent comments that Minnesota has a better foundation than the Lakers, the team undoubtedly needs to show progress next season in the form of being a playoff team or Love will look at potentially re-signing with the T’Wolves or looking at teams other than the Lakers in his free agency.

The Lakers have never accepted mediocrity.  A bad season here and there happens, but there is a reason why the Lakers will miss the playoffs for only the sixth time in franchise history.   If the team were to stand pat this summer and accept another year of transition, what message does that send to the players in the league?  That’s a very non-Laker message to convey.

KOBE BRYANT

The Lakers wouldn’t dare waste $46 million over two years right?

That is what it would do if D’Antoni were to return.  His up-tempo system hoped to bring back memories of the Showtime Era but that has not happened despite having the second-fastest pace in the NBA, instead resulting in one of the worst defensive teams in the league.

At this stage in his career, is it wise to put Kobe in a fast-pace system?  Logic says no, although I do not doubt Kobe can succeed in any system.

With his recent string of injuries, a half-court system involving Kobe in the post is the best thing for the Black Mamba and the final two years of his career.   It would also be nice to have a coach limit Kobe’s minute’s ala Greg Popovich with the Spurs, something D’Antoni has failed to do in his time here.

With the extension given to Kobe, the Lakers made it known this is Kobe’s team and since that is the case, the offensive system should be suited to his abilities at this point and time.   To maximize Kobe over the next two years and also preserve his health, a new offensive system needs to be implemented and D’Antoni simply is not going away from what he knows best, the run-and-gun style of play.

PAU GASOL

The relationship between Gasol and D’Antoni has deteriorated from the day the head coach walked into the practice facility in El Segundo.  Feelings expressed both privately and publically have left the two at odds and as we enter this summer, one thing is certain…

One of them will have to go.

There is no scenario where Gasol returns to play in a system that puts post play on the back burner and there is no scenario where D’Antoni adjusts his system to emphasize post play.

While Gasol’s return to the Lakers is not certain even if D’Antoni were to be fired, it certainly increases the chances significantly if it were to happen.  Gasol would need to take a pay cut to re-sign with the Lakers and at this point of his career he may have to.

Keeping D’Antoni while letting Gasol leave would also take another close friend of Kobe away and that is something that will not go over well after the Derek Fisher trade from two seasons ago.  While the franchise looks to reload, is letting a veteran with championship experience like Gasol a wise thing to do?

Will the Lakers let go of a player who can still produce consistent numbers on the offensive end?  Fans have been down on Gasol from the past two seasons but fact remains it is difficult in today’s NBA to find a post player like Gasol who can score, rebound, and pass.  While the defense is not there, as long as he is not expected to be a defensive anchor, the Lakers can get by.

THE FANS

Laker fans are a different breed.  A very proud fan base, the purple and gold faithful are also a impatient bunch and do not take losing seasons very well.

Attendance has dropped this season and fans have voiced their displeasure through out the season with style of offense, lack of defense, and non-existent passion the team has displayed at different times this season.

As with free agents, if the team were to commit to D’Antoni for one more season, what message is the front office sending to the fans?  With a lack of fan support, this franchise loses another defining quality that makes the Lakers the Lakers.

At the end of the day, I ask Laker fans and management alike, if D’Antoni is not part of the solution, what is the point of keeping him around?  One thing in sports that is a constant, if the discussion is when a coach will be fired, that situation is already resolved, it is just about when the firing will take place.

For the fans, I understand it is a rough season, but with every bad season, there are another 10-15 better seasons coming for the purple and gold.  Be patient although it may be difficult to do so.

For the Lakers franchise, it is time to move out of this dark cloud of uncertainty and frustration.  Well firing a coach will not mean much in the short team (this season), it will pay off in the future.

And that is what matters the most.

Although it was reported earlier by NBATV’s Greg Anthony that Phil Jackson is joining the New York Knicks, the deal with the Knicks is apparently not done yet.

In the meantime, according to USA TODAY Sports, some powerful members of the Lakers‘ family have been working to sway Jackson back to Los Angeles:

Although a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to USA TODAY Sports that Jackson has an agreement in principle to become the Knicks’ team president, some of the most powerful men in Laker Land spent much of Wednesday attempting to pull off the seemingly-impossible: come hell or high water, as Lakers star Kobe Bryant likes to say, they want Jackson back. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal is not yet done.

Earlier Wednesday, Kobe Bryant shared his admiration for his old coach.

“Well, I mean you know how I feel about Phil,” Bryant said. “I have so much admiration for him and respect, and have a great relationship with him, so personally it would be hard for me to understand that [losing out on Jackson's services] happening twice. It would be tough. I don’t really get it.”

Magic Johnson also did his part Wednesday in showing his respect for the eleven-time champion coach.

Stay tuned to LakerNation.com for the latest on what has now become an ongoing ‘saga’ in Phil Jackson returning to the NBA.

According to Sporting News’ Sean Deveney, Kobe Bryant has had enough of the losing and sources close to the superstar have said that Kobe will not play for head coach Mike D’Antoni next season and wants a new coach in place for the 2014-2015 season.

Bryant, sources said, has “no interest” in playing for D’Antoni next season, and wants a new coach in place for the 2014-15 season.

 

It is not exactly a shocking revelation as Kobe is one of the fiercest competitors in sports today, but the fact this news is starting to leak out after his strong words in his press conference on Wednesday in which he called out the front office and called for change this summer:

Then it goes down to the coaching staff, what Mike (D’Antoni) is going to do, what they want to do with Mike and it goes from there. It’s gotta start from the top.

Unfortunately for D’Antoni, the writing on the wall is looking clearer and clearer by the day.  Just a few days ago, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said that his sources informed him that D’Antoni would be fired at the end of this season and additionally, Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher said in his article that some Lakers players have been assured D’Antoni will not return next season:

At least two other players frustrated with their current roles were told to be patient because the Lakers will have a new head coach next season, sources said.

There have been plenty of burned bridges this season between players and D’Antoni, notably big men Pau Gasol, Jordan Hill, and Chris Kaman.  In what has become a concerning trend of inconsistent playing time and comments in the media, it is not a surprise to hear that players are frustrated with the coach in what has been arguably the worst season in Los Angeles Lakers history.  Deveney shared similar sentiments on Twitter on Wednesday:

Despite all of that, the feelings of one Kobe Bean Bryant have the most impact on the direction of the franchise.  Kobe, who was notoriously called a “fan” by D’Antoni after a Twitter-spree during the Lakers first round matchup versus the San Antonio Spurs last season, seems to have put his foot down.

While he did not say it directly, it sounds like Kobe’s comments in his press conference were loud and clear as they were in 2007…

“Do something and do it now.”

Kobe Bryant was examined by Lakers’ doctors Wednesday and has ruled out for the rest of the 2013-14 NBA season.

Lakers’ head athletic trainer, Gary Vitti, gave an update on his recovery process:

“Kobe will have the entire offseason to heal, rehab and prepare; we look forward to him being 100% for the start of next season.”

Bryant also made a short statement to the media Wednesday.

“Obviously this has been a frustrating and disappointing season, but I appreciate all the support I’ve received from the Lakers and the fans, and look forward to being back and ready for the start of training camp.”

Bryant fractured his lateral tibial plateau in his left knee just 6 games after returning from an Achilles injury that left him out of commission for 8 months. He was originally projected to only miss an additional 6 weeks, but after little progress his return was delayed. In a recent interview with Kustoo.com’s Jacques Slade, Bryant expressed frustration with his rehab:

“It’s progressing slowly. It really tests my patience”

This devastating news comes at no surprise to most Laker fans who have long suggested Bryant sit out this lost season anyway. With 18 games left in the season, the Lakers are in a three-way tie for the last spot in the Western Conference at 22-42.

This past week, Kobe Bryant sat down with Kustoo.com to discuss his latest release of his new kicks.  During the interview, Bryant updated everyone on the progress he’s made on his left knee injury.

“It’s progressing slowly. It really tests my patience,” said Bryant. “There’s only so much you can do, so I find myself relegated to riding the bike.”

Bryant has only played in six games this season due to his recovery from his Achilles’ tear last April and then after injuring his lateral tibial plateau on Dec. 17 against the Memphis Grizzlies.

“After the first few weeks [riding the bike], it’s cool — you’re getting a good workout,” said Bryant. “Then third, fourth — I need to do something else. I want to play. I want to run. I want to do something different, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”

At this point it is unclear whether Bryant will even return this season as the Lakers currently sit at the bottom of the Western Conference standings.

After 16 NBA Championships and 31 Western Conference Titles, the Lakers have been one of the most storied and successful franchises in NBA history. From the eras of West, Chamberlain, Kareem, Magic, and Kobe, there have been countless record-breaking performances and memorable games that have added to Lakers glory. Let’s take a look back at some notable moments for the purple and gold, from the week of March 9-15, over their 66-year history.

March 9, 1988

Pat Riley got his 400th career coaching win in a 104-99 victory over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Riley reached the 400-win mark in just 540 games, making him the fastest coach to do so in NBA history.

March 9, 2010

Kobe Bryant hit a game-winning fade-away jump shot over Antoine Wright with 1.9 seconds remaining in regulation to lift the Lakers over the Toronto Raptors 109-107 at the Staples Center. Bryant, who scored 14 points in the fourth quarter, finished the game with 32 points. This victory ended a three-game losing streak for Los Angeles, which hadn’t lost four straight since April 2007. Andrew Bynum chipped in with 22 points for the Lakers, while Pau Gasol added 17 points and nine rebounds in the win.

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

March 10, 1987

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar set an NBA record for most-ever personal fouls committed, after fouling Denver’s Danny Schayes during the first quarter of an eventual Lakers victory over the Nuggets. With this foul, Abdul-Jabbar raised his career total to 4,194, which put him one ahead of Elvin Hayes, the previous all-time leader. Abdul-Jabbar finished his career with 4,657 fouls, which still stands atop the NBA’s all-time list.

March 12, 2005

Kobe Bryant hit a game-winning jump shot over Keith Bogans with 0.9 seconds left in the game to propel the Lakers passed the Bobcats 117-116 in Charlotte. Bryant scored 21 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter, on 8-for-12 shooting from the field. He added four rebounds and nine assists in the win. This victory gave Los Angeles its first consecutive road wins of the 2004-2005 season.

March 13, 1992

Chick Hearn broadcasted his 2,500th consecutive game for the Lakers, when they played the Cavaliers at the Richfield Coliseum in Cleveland. Hearn’s record-breaking streak spanned 3,338 games from 1965 to 2001.

 

Kobe Byrant and Steve Nash have had quite the tumultuous injury-filled season to say the least.  Bryant has been out since December with his fractured knee and Nash attempted to return a couple weeks ago but has since found his way off the court again due to chronic nerve and back pain.

“The doctors haven’t cleared Kobe so it’s a non-issue right now,” D’Antoni said. “The thing is, does he get back and play some games to get his rhythm back for next year or just wait? So I don’t know.”

D’Antoni was asked whether he sees a benefit from Bryant playing again this season.

“Not really,” he said, adding quickly. “That’s not on me. That’s something that they’ve got to figure out.”

His prognosis on Nash was just as bleak if not worse.

“I don’t know what to tell you,” D’Antoni said. “What’s the endgame? We’ve talked about it. He’s not completely healthy. We have 23 games left. We’re not going to make the playoffs. So what’s his objective in taking minutes away from the young guys that we’re trying to develop?

“Now, if Steve starts to feel better, then we’ll see. It’s always an ongoing process in talking to him, but it’s not something that’s on the horizon right now.”

Nash has made it clear that the thought of retirement has entered his mind, but that hasn’t changed the fact that he wants to return next season for his final season under contract.

“I want to come back for sure,” Nash said. “You never know what the case is in a month or a week or two weeks, physically, from a club standpoint, from my standpoint. You’re looking at potentially the last few months of my career. I didn’t want to just let that slide by without getting back on the court, so it motivated me. But who knows now?”

The Lakers could decide by Sept. 1 to use the stretch provision on Nash which means the Lakers would waive him and pay off his salary over the next three seasons, thus diminishing his salary’s cap hit on the coming years.

Its unfortunate to see these all-time greats pressed to the pine for so long, but at this point it’s almost a liability for the Lakers to have them back out on the court.  With this team not making the playoffs, and no reason to attempt to play better this season, the two guards are better off resting up and watching from the bench as this season smolders away.

After 16 NBA Championships and 31 Western Conference Titles, the Lakers have been one of the most storied and successful franchises in NBA history. From the eras of West, Chamberlain, Kareem, Magic, and Kobe, there have been countless record-breaking performances and memorable games that have added to Lakers glory. Let’s take a look back at some notable moments for the purple and gold, from the week of March 2-8, over their 66-year history.

March 2, 2008

The Lakers defeated the Dallas Mavericks 108-104 in overtime at the STAPLES Center. Kobe Bryant scored a game-high 52 points to lead the way, including 22 in the fourth quarter and eight in overtime. This game marked the 22nd time in Bryant’s illustrious career that he hit the 50-point plateau. Pau Gasol added 17 points and 14 rebounds for Los Angeles in the win. With his 52 points, Bryant moved past Walt Bellamy into 25th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.

March 3, 2004

Kobe Bryant hit a jump shot over Yao Ming with 32 seconds left in regulation to give the Lakers a one-point lead en route to an eventual 96-93 victory over the Houston Rockets. The Rockets later intentionally fouled Derek Fisher, who then hit two free throws to seal the win. Bryant, who finished with 18 points, led the way for the Lakers as they rallied from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter. Bryant also added 13 assists for Los Angeles, which were two short of his career high. Houston’s Yao Ming finished with 33 points for the tough-luck losers.

Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

March 6, 2000

On his 28th birthday, Shaquille O’Neal scored an NBA season-high and career-high 61 points and collected 23 rebounds, as the Lakers defeated the Clippers 123-103. Shaq shot 68.6% from the field to lift the Lakers to their 16th consecutive victory. O’Neal’s previous career-high came in 1994, when he scored 53 points for the Orlando Magic against Milwaukee.

March 7, 1996

Magic Johnson dished out seven assists in a 102-89 victory over the Kings in Sacramento to become just the second NBA player in history to tally 10,000 career assists. Johnson finished his career with 10,141 assists, and currently sits in 5th place on the NBA’s all-time assists list. He holds the NBA record for most assists per game with 11.2.

The NBA trade deadline has passed and with it any semblance of the Lakers making any kind of big personnel moves this season. This year has been a tough season for Laker fans as their team and its superstar have been hobbled by countless injuries. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, though. The Lakers go into this offseason with enough cap room to acquire a big name free agent. They did not trade Pau before the deadline, so the Lakers will either have a lot of cap room from Pau’s contract coming off the books, or they will be able to convince Pau to stay with the team for less money. That may seem like a long shot, but Pau loves the Lakers, he loves Kobe and he may also love their next head coach *wink wink*. They also have a first round draft pick that, given their abysmal record, will most likely be a top-5 pick. That means the Lakers will be able to sport a squad next season consisting of a Kobe, Pau, Big Name Free Agent X and Talented Draft Pick X core. That may not be enough to win a title next year, but it will absolutely be a contender if healthy and under the supervision of a new head coach. With all that said, here are some questions from LakerNation fans:

Q: Are we going to re-sign Nick Young next year?

- Jacob

A: If the Lakers are serious about contending immediately, they must re-sign Nick Young. Swaggy P has been one of the few bright spots this year for the Lakers as he earned the respect of Kobe and the rest of Laker Nation by competing every night. There are very few teams in this league that have a 6th man as effective as Nick Young. He is instant offense and his ability to draw foul calls on 3-pointers is uncanny. Young has always been capable of scoring, but he has an added intensity in his game since joining the Lakers this season. He knows what it takes to deliver for the Purple and Gold.

 

Q: How do you feel about the Lakers landing a big name free agent, this off-season with D’Antoni as the head coach?

- Jermaine

A: I feel very strongly about this issue, but I will do my best to keep it PG. THERE IS NO FREAKING WAY ANY BIG NAME FREE AGENT WANTS TO COME PLAY FOR A COACH THAT DOESN’T CARE ABOUT DEFENSE.  With the myriad of issues I have with Mike D’Antoni, the two I just mentioned take the cake. The man obviously doesn’t give a damn about defense when his team gives up an average of 105.9 PPG. That’s the 2nd worst in the entire NBA. Only the Philadelphia 76ers give up more points than us and they’re trying to lose every game this year! Let that sink in for a moment. D’Antoni may be a great offensive mind, but that does not make him a good head coach. I guarantee if Tom Thibodeau were coaching the Lakers, they would not be in the bottom half of the NBA in terms of defense. You want to talk about injuries? Look at the Chicago Bulls and their injuries. They rank 2nd overall in the league in terms of defense. Injuries are not an excuse for a lack of defense and effort. If the Lakers really want to land big name free agents this summer, Mike D’Antoni must be fired at the end of this season.

 

Q: Can we still get Love? Or Melo or even Deng? Please get them.

- Alexis

A: When you talk about Kevin Love, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and even Luol Deng, those guys want to win now. They don’t want to play for a coach with the same philosophies as Mike D’Antoni. Getting the right head coach will be step one. The second step will be finding out if Kobe is still Kobe. Make no mistake about it, if the Lakers didn’t have Kobe Bryant on their team, none of these free agents (except maybe Love) would even consider coming to the Lakers. Kobe must show that he is still one of the best basketball players in the world after coming off two of the worst injuries in his career.

 

Q: My question is, will the LA Lakers make it to the playoffs this season or next season, yes or no?

- Eyrika

A: I stated in my preseason article that the Lakers would not make the playoffs this season and that remains true. As for next season, it truly depends on a number of outcomes and possibilities. Who will be the new head coach? Will the Lakers land a top-5 draft pick this year? If so, who will they select? What free agents will be brought in? Which current players will stay with the Lakers? And, of course, what will the status of Kobe Bryant be? If Kobe is still Kobe, which I assume will be true, the Lakers will always have a shot. If the Lakers bring in one of the earlier mentioned big name free agents, that shot increases tenfold. My gut tells me the Lakers will get a new head coach, a lottery pick, land a big name free agent and the most underrated move they will make will be re-signing Pau Gasol. With that scenario, I believe the Lakers will be instant contenders next season and in the future. All things will be right in Los Angeles as the Lakers are at the top once again.

According to Mike Bresnahan and Eric Pincus of the LA Times, the Lakers’ plan back to prominence is slowly becoming clearer, but fans might need to wait one more season until that plan starts to take shape.

“The Lakers are not interested in possible free agent Carmelo Anthony, who claims he won’t break the New York Knicks’ bank to stay with them.”

The summer of 2014 was supposed to when the Lakers made a big splash in their attempt to become an NBA title contender again, but from the sound things, it is possible the team will look to 2015 to get the ball rolling.

But there is one scenario where the Lakers could make an impact this summer and that is if LeBron James opts-out of his contract and decides to enter free agency.

“If LeBron James opts out of his contract, they’ll make a phone call, but it’s a longshot he’ll leave Miami for the Lakers.”

If that scenario does not happen, why would the Lakers look to 2015?

“They do like Cleveland forward Luol Deng but don’t want to overpay for him this summer, meaning their eyes are firmly on Kevin Love in July 2015 and Kevin Durant in 2016.”

In 2015, Love has the ability to opt-out of his contract and become a free agent.   If that happens, he will be the premier target for the Lakers, which is not a surprise after the two have been linked over the past few seasons. 

In 2016, the Lakers, and really every other team with the ability to do, will pursue Kevin Durant, who could be a free agent that summer if he does not sign an extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder.  The intriguing part of Durant’s potential free agency is that will more than likely be Kobe Bryant’s final season, opening up a nice chunk of cap space to potentially sign one of the best players in the league today.

There is still plenty of time before Love and Durant become realistic options for the Lakers, but it is always fun to speculate and talk about.

With this news, it is going to be a very interesting off season for the Lakers.  If no big moves are made, is the team looking at a similar season to the one they are currently experiencing?  If that is the case, will the fans accept another year of below average results?  Does D’Antoni keep his job if next season is just a bridge to the following summer?  Many questions will need to be answered.  Answers that could come in April once the Lakers regular season concludes.

General Manager Mitch Kupchak mentioned a few days ago that the Lakers plan could extend past one summer, so this news would not be shocking:

“I don’t think that we’ll use our cap money to patch together a team for next year. We’re looking to bring something [big] to Los Angeles,” he said. “May take more than one year to build, I don’t know. But because we have a lot of money this summer doesn’t mean we’ll spend it all. We’ll spend it wisely.”

The difference between this year and next year, the Lakers has its 2014 first round pick in the draft.  Next year though, their first round pick will belong to the Phoenix Suns unless the Lakers end up in the lottery again with a top five pick.

While it is fun to think about Love and Durant in the purple and gold, I can’t help but have some concerns.  This does seem like an all or nothing plan and if both players were to sign extensions with their respective teams or go elsewhere during free agency, where does that leave the Lakers after the Kobe era comes to a close?  One thing is for certain, fans expect results and are historically impatient.

Progress needs to be made this summer.  At the very least, this team needs to become a playoff team again because back-to-back years of missing the playoffs just does not happen to this franchise.  It is up to the front office to make sure that does not happen.

Stay with LakerNation.com for all the latest news and rumors regarding the Los Angeles Lakers!

After 16 NBA Championships and 31 Western Conference Titles, the Lakers have been one of the most storied and successful franchises in NBA history. From the eras of West, Chamberlain, Kareem, Magic, and Kobe, there have been countless record-breaking performances and memorable games that have added to Lakers glory. Let’s take a look back at some notable moments for the purple and gold, from the week of February 23-March 1, over their 66-year history.

February 23, 2007

The Lakers ousted the reeling Celtics 122-96, behind 38 points from Kobe Bryant at the Staples Center. Bryant, who added nine assists, scored 22 points in the first quarter, going 9 for 12 from the field. This game marked the second largest regular-season margin of victory in the history of the Los Angeles-Boston rivalry.

February 23, 2010

Kobe Bryant hit a game-winning three-pointer over Rudy Gay with 4.3 seconds left in regulation to lift the Lakers over the Grizzlies 99-98 in Memphis. Bryant’s game-winner occurred during his first time back on the hardwood after missing five straight games due to an ankle injury. He scored a team-high 32 points, including the Lakers’ final nine points of the game. Pau Gasol finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds for the Lakers in the win.

February 28, 1987

Lakers broadcaster Chick Hearn broadcasted his 2,000th straight game for Los Angeles in a 107-100 loss to the Utah Jazz. His unprecedented streak spanned 3,338 consecutive Lakers games over 36 years.

Allen Einstein/Getty Images

Allen Einstein/Getty Images

February 28, 2008

Los Angeles won its tenth straight game with a 106-88 victory over the Miami Heat. Jordan Farmar led a balanced attack for the Lakers, as he scored a career-high 24 points. Kobe Bryant added 21 points, while Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol chipped in for the first place Lakers with 13 points apiece. This win marked the 23rd double-digit winning streak in franchise history.

February 29, 2000

The Lakers defeated the Portland Trailblazers 90-87 in Oregon. Going into the game, both teams had records of 45-11, as well as 11-game winning streaks. Shaquille O’Neal led the way for the purple and gold with 23 points and 10 rebounds, while Kobe Bryant added 22. This victory marked the twelfth straight Los Angeles win, en route to an eventual 19-game winning streak.

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