Well Nation, we’ve reached yet another off-season, one full of a particularly large amount of questions regarding the Lakers’ future. So I’ve decided to create a series of questions that you, the fans, will answer about the Laker offseason. Then in a week or so I’ll gather all the answers and write about what would need to happen for each scenario to occur. Obviously the big ones are about retaining (or losing) Dwight Howard, and what will come of Kobe Bryant after his devastating Achilles tear. So Nation, here are the questions, the more who answer the more interesting the possible scenarios will be!
Poll analysis is complete! Check it out HERE to see your answers discussed! Thanks!
[blockquote1]During a storied career as head coach of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, Phil Jackson won 11 titles – more championships than any coach in the history of professional sports. Never wavering from coaching his way, from a place of deep values, Jackson was tagged as the ‘Zen master’ by sportswriters; the nickname speaks to an important truth: this is a coach who inspired, not goaded; who led by awakening and challenging the better angels of his players’ nature, not their egos, fear, or greed.[/blockquote1]
Former Laker, John Salley will be hosting the event with Jackson.
Last night the San Antonio Spurs handed the Los Angeles Lakers their worst home playoff loss in history. A 120-89 defeat to a dilapidated Lakers team has left fans and the team in utter disbelief. With a season filled with such hope prior to its start, this ending is what no fan ever expected.
The injury bug would be an understatement, it was more of an injury plague, and one that affected every single Lakers starter and most of the bench. No one managed to escape it, and this is just something that comes with being an old team and just never seeming to catch that elusive “break” everyone else seemed to get this season.
Regardless of the injuries and which teams had better luck than the Lakers, they still find themselves in an 0-3 hole against the number two seeded San Antonio Spurs. In NBA history no team has ever come back from this kind of deficit to win the series, so the future looks bleak for this years Lakers team. Of course anything is possible in the NBA and maybe this years team could be the first to ever come back from such a hole, or you could be in need of seeking a mental institution that could lock you up alone in a room for being delusional.
After the game on Friday night players were deflated, Lakers players that is, across the building the Spurs were massaging their hands after delivering such a spanking. These following quotes via the Lakers NBA page:
“We respect these guys, and we’re not trying to give them any momentum whatsoever, Duncan said.”
Well that’s a nice way to talk about embarrassing a storied franchise like the Lakers, a team not used to being a seventh seeded playoff team let alone losing by 31 points at home.
Coach D’Antoni weighed in as well,
“The first half, we gave everything we had, and it obviously wasn’t enough,” Los Angeles coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I thought our guys played as hard as they can play.”
It’s almost sad to hear something like this, with as depleted as the Lakers were last night, and clearly they were, they still tried as hard as they could and that resulted in a 31 point defeat. Wow.
At least Howard hasn’t given up hope, even if everyone else likely has,
“It’s been a very tough year, but we’re not going to make any excuses, and we’re not going to quit,” Howard said.
Honestly, what is he supposed to say? We’re done, we have no shot, let’s just throw in the towel and go home? So his statement doesn’t carry much weight, but at least he said it, that’s what counts.
However Ginobili didn’t quite hold back with his statements,
“We saw the opportunity because of their injuries and the lack of length of the bench and the depth of the bench. We really punished them.”
Punished is a great word for what they did to the Lakers last night, truly couldn’t have said it any better myself. He didn’t sugar coat his commentary and he shouldn’t have, although I’ll bet him and the rest of the Spurs are still bitter from the 2004 and 2008 playoffs, in which LA got the better end of those series’.
So, after such a loss the Lakers didn’t only lose the game and likely the series but they lost their luster and overall shine they used to produce for the Laker faithful. I don’t remember watching a Laker playoff series quite as bad as this one, where it’s really just not competitive. Even getting swept by Dallas in 2011 was more competitive than this, and at least it wasn’t in the first round. The Lakers are known for putting on a show with an extremely high entertainment value, and last night that just wasn’t the case. Even in losses the Lakers managed to fight to the end and keep it interesting with that allure that hovered over Los Angeles like a halo.
I know they’re injured but the product on the floor was just not something to be very proud of or worthy of remembrance. The fans boo’d midway through the second quarter and by the end of the game were chanting “We want Phil”, and at this point the chance of the Lakers getting PJ back is about as good as winning this series. The funny thing is that it’s not even all D’Antoni’s fault, the man never got a chance to have his whole team at his disposal, and that’s difficult for any coach, even Phil Jackson.
As negative as this article may sound, I’d like to point out a few bright spots or silver linings from last nights trouncing. Andrew Goudelock deserves to be
considered for a roster spot next season, he played great last night and showed he deserves to be given a chance. Same goes for Darius Morris as he played great as well and stepped up when his moment came. Pau Gasol also posted only the seventh Laker playoff triple double ever, congratulations to the big man for going out there and competing in every aspect of the game. Dwight had good numbers too, putting up 25 and 11 but they could’ve been better for somebody of his caliber. The guys went out and competed, it just wasn’t nearly enough.
Bottom line is the Lakers are done for this season, not much dispute there. Whether they fold on Sunday night or extend it back to San Antonio, the season is over and can go down as a colossal failure. Last nights loss was but a microcosm of the entire season. With a starting line up consisting of Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, and Dwight Howard nobody anticipated it all going down this way, no one saw the team personifying the Hindenburg disaster. Set your sights on next year Laker Nation, changes will be made, injuries will heal, and the Los Angeles Lakers will be in top form to compete for an NBA Championship, mark my words.
When The Lakers said no thank you to Phil Jackson earlier this season, fans everywhere thought that’d be the last we’d hear of the 11 time champion coach. Well, that seems to be false, as reports have surfaced that Phil Jackson is now mentoring Dwight Howard. Dwight had this to say regarding his new mentor in Jackson, via Mark Medina, Daily News LA:
“Phil, he texts me and he understands how it is to come off back surgery,” Howard said. “He just said it takes a full year to recover, so you can’t beat yourself up over the things that have happened this year.”
This is something Howard has been attempting to convey to the general public as of late, but most don’t understand and just want immediate results from Howard. Phil also believes that LA is misusing Howard and aren’t putting him in the situation he needs to succeed.
“Dwight just doesn’t get any touches,” Jackson said. “They’ve basically eliminated his assets.”
Phil is clearly on Dwight’s side regarding his current situation in LA. Howard is still rehabbing from his back surgery last April, and it’ll likely be through the offseason that Howard gets himself back to 100%. Howard sometimes wonders what it’d be like if he had postponed his return until he was 100%.
“I said that plenty of times, but I don’t want myself to be thinking so much on what I should’ve done,” Howard said. “The harder I push myself every day to get better and get in shape, my body will respond. This summer, after the season, I’ll get an opportunity to train and get my body right.”
“Looking back on it, I could have sat out the whole season until now and starting playing now, but I just felt like we had such a great opportunity,” he said. “Some of these guys, their windows for winning are very small, and I just wanted to get back and try to do whatever I can to help this team, knowing that I wasn’t in great shape. My body wasn’t all the way there yet.”
Howard is also continuing to nurse his torn labrum in his right shoulder, which also hinders him in games.
“Sometimes I have gotten beat up for it, but that’s fine. I’ll take all those hits and I’ll keep moving,” Howard said. “People watch games and they see me playing so they think it’s all good. It’s just a time thing. I’ve just got to keep going, keep pushing myself and it’ll get better.”
Because Phil Jackson is on Howard’s side and understands him, more fans around the league should be more sympathetic towards Howard as he continuously tries to get himself fully healthy. Howard returned in order to help out his team when he saw they could really use him, he knew it was risky coming back so early from such a serious injury but he wanted to help out as best as he could.
Howard continues to get healthier by the day and incrementally is performing better and better on the court. With Phil Jackson mentoring Howard one has to think what else they could be talking about, a possible return to LA? Perhaps, but it’s unlikely seeing as D’Antoni is still under contract, but you never know, Los Angeles is always full of surprises.
Despite being passed over for the Lakers’ head coaching vacancy in November, legendary coach Phil Jackson remains optimistic about his former team.
This week, Sports Illustrated’s Jack McCallum interviewed the 13-time champion (11 titles as a coach, two as a player) about a few basketball-related topics.
The following is Jackson’s insight on the current Lakers’ issues, Dwight Howard, his own future in the NBA, and whether or not the Lakers will make the playoffs this season:
When asked what Jackson sees in the Lakers right now, considering the personnel changes and injuries, Jackson lamented:
They just don’t put the ball in the post. They’ll use a screen-roll to get the guy in the post. But there’s no consistent plan to do it. Yes, Kobe will go in there. But Dwight just doesn’t get any touches.
They’ve basically eliminated his assets.
Jackson was then asked about Howard’s screen and rolls:
You want the ball 10 feet away from the basket. Throw it into the post, make them double-team and have everybody around to make shots.
That’s what Shaq could do. That’s where you have the Robert Horrys, the Derek Fishers and the Rick Foxes sitting out there getting wide-open jumpers.
Can Howard’s presence inside be similar to Shaq’s, in the aspect of drawing the double team and finding open teammates?
I think he can be. But he is not where he needs to be physically because of the back surgery. He needs a year to recover from something like that. He’s starting to come around, but he has a massive upper body to carry around. He’s a terrific athlete, but he still has to get all that back.
He’s looking better all the time, but his problem right now is turnovers. He’s got to have a little better recognition, and that will help him gain the confidence of his teammates and coach, which he does not have now.
When asked about the issues regarding Howard and Pau Gasol playing together:
Well, what is the problem? We won two championships that way [with two big men]. Pau is one of the best big men in the game. I mean, Pau Gasol is going to be in the Hall of Fame.
Have the Lakers been improving? And will they still make the playoffs?
Yes, I think they are finding a way to play. And that’s nice to see. Steve Nash has had to sacrifice because Kobe is dominating the ball, but Kobe is showing he can be both playmaker and scorer.
Now it’s about defense. And I think that’s coming around.
They make the playoffs; I think they’ve shown they’re going to be in it with every team.
Does Jackson ever feel compelled to visit Staples Center for a game?
I haven’t yet. I’ll probably go when Shaq’s number is retired [on April 2nd].
When asked about Jackson’s run in Los Angeles:
I did have a good run. There were always people who didn’t like the triangle, thought it was too methodical, too unlike Showtime.
But I was always astonished about how well I was treated. When I came back [in 2005] and took the job, people actually thanked me. They didn’t say, “Good luck.” They said “Thank you.” I never forgot that.
Will Jackson ever coach in the NBA again?
I’m not coaching. I told Mitch [Kupchak, Lakers General Manager] that back in October. So when we sat down in November [to talk about taking over after Mike Brown was fired], he brought that up and I said,
“Well, this isn’t about moving or going somewhere else and learning new players. It’s different. So I’m ready to think about coming back, but I still have to think about it.”
But I do hold out the idea that there’s still influence in the game I could have. Red Auerbach, Pete Newell, Wayne Embry, guys like that have had … a number of people have had considerable influence and haven’t been coaches per se.
What about a management job?
Vice president of basketball operations/director of player personnel is more like it.
Jackson was also asked whether he watches games and if he takes notes on them:
I sometimes take notes. I have some people who have come to me and ask, “Would you watch my team, see if you can pick anything up?”
Four or five teams, plus the Lakers. [He wouldn't identify the other teams.] So while I’m not officially in the consulting business, it might come in handy sometime.
Since he’s been away from the game for two years, has the league changed at all?
Not really. It’s a mimic league. It has been for a long time. Coaches see something and say, “Oh, that’s hard to defend. Maybe we’ll run that.” Screen-roll. Three-point shooters in the corner. Bigs that can roll and pop.
San Antonio has a system, a way of doing things, and maybe a couple others. But most everybody runs that screen-roll.
How does the game look from the outside looking in?
Basketball is a simple game. Your goal is penetration, get the ball close to the basket, and there are three ways to do that. Pass, dribble and offensive rebound.
The easiest one is — or should be — the pass. But the new rules allow you to throw more people at post-up players. NBA basketball is a big man’s game, and in the past they protected that aspect of the game.
Well, those rules went out the window and what they didn’t do was consider this: If they’re going to continue to allow zone defenses to work and shut down the paint, then they have to put six more seconds on the shot clock. A 30-second clock. But they’re so attached to the idea of the 24-second clock that it doesn’t happen.
Anyway, [allowing limited zones] has eliminated some of the post passing and made dribbling a major part of our game. As a result, I think people forgot that there are still ways you can get the ball inside rather than just standing there and throwing the ball in. You have to have a system that makes all things work. Pop [San Antonio's Gregg Popovich] has that.
How would he describe that system?
Popovich made significant growth 10 years ago or so after David Robinson left. It had been pretty stilted. You know, two big guys. A lot of stuff he does represents the triangle offense.
They flow into it a different way. Strong-side triangle. Pinch-post action. Some of it may have come about because we were going at each other all the time in the playoffs and he had to defend against it.
Finally, what does Jackson miss most about coaching?
What you might expect. Being around the other coaches, being around the guys. It’s what I talked about in my book [Eleven Rings]. Coaching is about, “How do I get these people to play at their peak level?” Yeah, the X’s and O’s mean something, but you can get people to do that.
And a lot of those guys have been hired. The Lawrence Franks and the Frank Vogels. Mike Brown was one of those guys. That’s not a knock. Those guys know how to coach the game.
But coaching is much more than that. It is a spiritual quest. And if it’s not that, you don’t have a challenge, you don’t have a mission. Forming a brotherhood and trying to move it forward, that’s the part that I miss.
Sure sounds a lot like something the current Lakers’ head coach, Mike D’Antoni, lacks.
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.
When a team plays poorly there are always some options that the GM has at their disposal. They can trade for some players, look to the free agent market for some sort of spark, or maybe the coach is to blame. In the case of the Los Angeles Lakers, Mitch Kupchak really hasn’t been left with any except to trade one of our All Star pieces.
The Lakers fired head coach Mike Brown, only 5 games into the 2012-13 NBA season, and soon after hired Mike D’Antoni, completely snubbing 11-time World Champion Phil Jackson. So that makes it very difficult to fire D’Antoni to hire yet ANOTHER head coach. The Lakers would then have three head coaches on their payroll, with two of them at home laughing at how the Lakers can’t seem to get their act together.
Kupchak has been pushed to this point by the poor and lackluster play by the Lakers thus far this season. I feel (as I know many of you feel also) that there needs to be a change; I truly wish that the Lakers organization had hired Phil when they had the chance, but that didn’t happen, and we will have to look elsewhere now. Trading seems to be the only logical thing to do at this point and there are a few players that would be perfect center pieces, most notably Dwight Howard.
There has been the idea that Dwight isn’t truly happy here in LA, and his true home lies in Brooklyn with the Nets. The Nets know this and have since began looking for a possible trade scenario that would land Howard in Brooklyn. However, the Nets’ GM Billy King has been looking for a third team in which to facilitate this trade, and most recently, that team had been the Minnesota Timberwolves. The possible trade called for Howard going to Brooklyn, Brook Lopez to Minnesota, and Kevin Love to Los Angeles, with some other smaller pieces thrown in to make the trade work. More from that trade scenario can be read here.
Unfortunately, Kevin Love has since been sidelined for 8-10 weeks due to re-injuring his broken hand. That kind of makes this trade impossible as Los Angeles doesn’t want an injured Kevin Love for All-Star Dwight Howard, even if his performance has been sub-par recently. The Nets will continue to find a suitable third team for the trade, as they clearly want Dwight Howard on their roster so they can make a strong playoff push.
Personally, I feel our problem isn’t Howard or Gasol and trading them would make things worse at this point. That said, as I noted earlier, a new head coach isn’t an option. D’Antoni is a great head coach for a team that can mesh with his system, but the Los Angeles Lakers are NOT that team. As long as D’Antoni is head coach and Jim Buss is still running the organization, the Lakers cannot be successful with this current roster.
Trading Dwight is the best option that the Los Angeles Lakers have right now and receiving a great couple of pieces in return would be best. After such a thrilling off season and excitement building up to this season it kills me to say that we need to trade the player the Lakers worked so hard to acquire, but it has to be done.
When Mike Brown was fired as the Lakers’ head coach after just five games, the collective sense around Los Angeles was that Phil Jackson would return once again. Not only did fans chant, “We want Phil!” at Lakers home games, but there was also, as Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times put it, “a 95% chance Phil Jackson will return.” Around midnight of November 11th, those hopeful for a Jackson return were disheartened as Mike D’Antoni was hired as the 24th coach in Lakers history.
According to sources, after an interview with the Lakers’ front office Saturday morning, Jackson undoubtedly felt the Lakers’ coaching vacancy was his for the taking. Jackson had informed the Lakers he would take the weekend to mull over the opportunity and be ready with a decision the following Monday.
Instead, the Lakers quickly made their decision before that Monday deadline and passed on the eleven-time champion coach in favor of the more “up-tempo style” of D’Antoni. The following is Jackson’s side of the story as told by HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel correspondent Andrea Kremer in an exchange with host Bryant Gumbel:
Newly hired head coach for the Los Angeles Lakers Mike D’Antoni hasn’t coached a game for his team yet, but he’s already setting high goals for himself and the Lake Show.
In an interview with John Ireland earlier this week, D’Anotni publicly stated that if the Lakers aren’t in the hunt for a championship, he’ll consider this season a personal failure.
“If we’re not at least in the hunt, a serious hunt, then I’ve failed as a head coach. I’m comfortable with that.”
D’Antoni is currently recovering from total knee replacement surgery and is expected to make his way to the sidelines this week.
We’ll have Steve Nash running the offense and he’s really good at getting everybody involved the right way,” D’Antoni continued. “What makes it really exciting is that everybody’s at the point in their career where all they want is the championship. Once you have that settled — and it should be like that everywhere but it isn’t — once you have that settled, it’s like, ‘OK, let’s sit down and figure this out.’ And we definitely have the talent to be able to do that.
D’Antoni has not coached in the NBA since resigning from the New York Knicks on March 14, 2012. The Knicks were 18-24 prior to his resignation. He did have a successful assistant coaching job this summer, however. As a member of the the 2012 Team USA men’s basketball team, D’Antoni won a gold medal with Kobe Bryant.
At 0-3, the Lakers are off to their worst start in over 30 years. With this unusually slow start to a Lakers season, fans have started to play the blame game already.
Some have blamed the new offense for the team’s struggles, other have questioned the lack of production from the bench, and some have gone as far as blaming the team’s chemistry for the terrible start.
But in the midst of all the finger pointing, anger, and confusion, there is another person who also shares blame for the winless start: Mike Brown.
This is something Brown has become all too familiar with since joining the Laker family. Even before his first game as a Laker coach, the man dealt with criticism and controversy. Some of it was excessive, but some was earned.
After all, the coach has led the all-star filled Lakers to two consecutive seasons with at least an 0-2 start. Since his reign, his teams have been stagnant offensively. To the surprise of many, even this year’s team has struggled to score despite the fact that the new Princeton Offensive was implemented to make the Lakers’ execution more fluid.