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Blog Entry

Lakers backing gently off "blow up" talk

Posted on: May 9, 2011 2:16 pm
Mitch Kupchak says not to worry too much about Magic's "blow it up" comments. But if not a complete self-destruction, is a major remodeling on the way,and how does a new coach fit into this?
Posted by Matt Moore

Sure, you were just swept out of the playoffs in what should have been the culmination of so much work, effort, and money spent in order to achieve a three-peat and send your expensive Hall of Fame coach out in style. Sure, your roster was relatively exposed as lackadaisical, lacking in focus, determination, heart, and eventually class. And yes, the idea has always been to reload when the shots don't quite hit their target, which is always championship gold. 

But the Lakers? They're not looking to follow Magic Johnson's advice and blow it up. Not yet, anyway. And not completely. 

From Sports Illustrated: 
(Lakers GM Mitch) Kupchak cautioned against the idea that Johnson's recent comments on ABC were an early indication of things to come. The Lakers' legend had all but written his favorite team off during his television analysis, then recommended Kupchak "blow it up" by trading one of his frontcourt players for Orlando's Dwight Howard as a means to keeping the dynasty intact.

Jackson called the comment "unnecessary" before tip-off, while Kupchak largely dismissed the notion raised by some fans that it was an in-house sentiment being shared publicly. Howard is believed to be eyeing the Lakers as a possible landing spot when he becomes a free agent in 2012, however, meaning this storyline won't be going away anytime soon.

"I thought Earvin was trying to motivate our players," Kupchak said. "He's great at cheering for us, and a lot of times saying stuff like he said can motivate a player to play harder. That's how I took it.

"I talk to Earvin from time to time, and I think Dr. Buss [owner Jerry Buss] does from time to time, and this moves too quickly for him to be intimately involved in what's going on day to day, so I would hesitate to think that was the case."
via Lakers fall apart against Mavericks in Phil Jackson's farewell - Sam Amick -

Not surprising that Magic isn't plugged into the day to day ops, especially having sold his stake, despite retaining a front office position. But the question is whether the Lakers are correct in this train of thought. One issue that isn't being talked about here is pretty obvious. This roster was constructed to play for Phil Jackson. 

And that definitely won't be the case next season. 

From ESPN:
Jackson might've played coy in what was likely his final postgame press conference, joking "I haven't answered that, have I?" when pressed for a definitive statement on whether he'd coached his final NBA game Sunday. But Kupchack says he believes Jackson's decision to retire is final this time.

"I think this is it," Kupchak told ESPNLosAngeles after the Lakers were swept out of the playoffs by the Dallas Mavericks 122-86 on Sunday. "We'll sit down and talk, but I've gotten no indication that he won't retire.

"We just talked briefly and I thanked him for what he's done for the organization. It was a pleasure to work with him. Everybody who is a coach in this league works endless hours. I'm not going to say he works harder than any other coach in this league. He certainly works as hard as any of them.

"But he's different. He's got a feel that I think a lot of coaches don't have."
via Los Angeles Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak senses Phil Jackson set to retire - ESPN Los Angeles.

With Jackson gone, Brian Shaw is the favorite to get the Lakers' head coaching job. But after the abject meltdown that occured on a chemistry level, the job will probably be open to several applicants. ESPN also reports the job is "wide open" and with candidates like Jeff Van Gundy, Rick Adelman, and Larry Brown on the market, you have to think ownership will take a long look at its options. And if there is a change in the coaching line, the new coach will want players to fit his personnel. 

The question of Dwight Howard will come back around again and again this summer once the CBA is resolved (if it's resolved). In case you missed it in the fall of Rome, here's Ken Berger of on Howard and the Lakers: 
Everybody knows that Dwight Howard wants to be a Laker," said a person familiar with the All-Star centers plans. "Theyre going to lose Dwight Howard for nothing. Hes not staying there. Dwight Howard is going to be in the same mode as LeBron James."

So would the Magic, facing the reality of losing their franchise cornerstone and getting nothing in return, accept Gasol and Odom, Bynum and Odom, or even Bynum and Gasol as the centerpiece of a Howard trade?"Probably," said a high-profile agent with a hand in past maneuverings for both teams.
via Fast-approaching offseason critical for Lakers - NBA - Basketball.

Landing Howard would automatically put the Lakers back at the top of the contenders list, though they may be there anyway, even with the Dallas Meltdown. But it comes with its own set of issues, including giving the reins of a veteran club to a younger player. How's Kobe Bryant going to react to being the No.2 for the first time since the first W. Bush term in his final ride into the sunset? Will the Magic really want Andrew Bynum after he embarrassed himself, his family, and his organization with (another) needless foul that could have resulted in injury and will definitely result in his suspension for multiple games next year, along with his injury issues on a long contract? 

There's time for all this, and the Lakers will take it. They are unlikely to "blow it up" and more likely to simply try and pick their favorite from the NBA's buffet as in year's past. But deals like the Pau Gasol trade don't come along twice in a four-year span, and with the franchise tag a possibility to come out of the CBA, life may be significantly different for L.A. after the seconds ticked off the Phil Jackson era in Dallas. 

Things aren't as simple as pushing the "self-destruct" button and starting over. Even Athens fell, and an immediate return to glory isn't always guaranteed for those blessed by the Gods for so long. 

But I wouldn't bet against them.

Since: Jun 13, 2007
Posted on: May 9, 2011 7:17 pm

Lakers backing gently off "blow up" talk

Things will come together nicely for the Lakers.  Among the various discussions seen in the blogs here and actually have some basis for saving the NBA Lakers: (I take no credit for any of these, but they sound like great ideas.)
  1. The NBA will not sell the Hornets; however, the Association will eliminate the franchise and the Lakers will have the first overall pick in the dispersal draft.
  2. Jerry West is slated to become GM of the Orlando Magic and will look for ways to get Dwight Howard traded to the Lakers re-signed.
  3. The Association will institute the Phil Jackson coaching exception.  To get  PJ back for the LAL, Phil will not have to travel with the Lakers and will be permitted to use social networking to coach the Lakers for away games.
  4. During the lockout, the Association will allow NBA franchises in cities without NFL franchises to negotiate with free-agents as a way to avoid conflict with the NFL lockout.
  5. We will find the paperwork that shows the Lakers actually signed a mid-level exception contract for the rights to Blake Griffin and not Steve Blake.
  6.  One thousand ping pong balls with the Laker logo will accidently fall into the lottery and the Lakers will have the second overall pick in the upcoming NBA draft.
  7. Bennett Salvatore will be the only official to work Laker games.
BTW, Pau could do much better if the stories about his fiancee are true.  He only needs to attend a Victoria's Secret Super model reunion and he will have all he could ever need.

Since: Jun 12, 2009
Posted on: May 9, 2011 7:12 pm

Lakers backing gently off "blow up" talk

If blowing it up means getting rid of Bynum and bringing in Howard, I am all for it.  Personally, I think KB24, Gasol, Odom, and DHoward would be a nice solid foundation.  Still, though what beat the Lakers in this series was lack of speed and no shooters.  I think Terry is still hitting three balls today.  The guy was unreal.  Whatever the case, the bench needs to be reworked.  If it requires Odom to go then it needs to be done.  I like LO, but his hot and cold streaks have also gotten old.  DFish, step on into the front office.  You will be a Laker for life.

Since: Feb 28, 2008
Posted on: May 9, 2011 6:49 pm

Lakers backing gently off "blow up" talk

The Lakers are not about to add a coach like Larry Brown. You don't give what might just be THE best coaching job in basketball this side of Durham, N.C., to a guy who has shown he won't actually STAY anywhere.

Since: Oct 23, 2006
Posted on: May 9, 2011 6:29 pm

Lakers backing gently off "blow up" talk

"Why doesn't anyone ever call it like it is with the Lakers... The real problem on that "team" is Kobe Bryant."

Your rant would make sense if Kobe hadnt led the team to how many titles??  There's no 'problem' with a team or its star player who has won 5 titles since 2000.

As far as the future of this team, don't worry all will be solved when the next can't miss generational talent refuses to sign with Charlotte out of high school (picked top 5 in the draft) and holds the team at ransom so that all you have to give up to get him is Vlade Divac... and/or you get another farm team to GIVE you all-star players like Gasol again.

Since: May 17, 2008
Posted on: May 9, 2011 6:29 pm

Lakers backing gently off "blow up" talk

What is clear is todays game requires a stronger bench. Take a look at the stats for this past series. You will find the dameage was done via the bench comparisons and not the starting 5.
Good point, but I will add one more issue -- point guard.  As much as I like him and respect his career Fisher is done.  The Lakers consistenting got killed by fast guards, especially at the point.  Fisher is simply not quick enough and he no longer makes up for it with being a scoring threat.  The Lakers do need to improve the bench over Barnes, Blake, Walton, etc (keep Brown and Odom) and maybe on way to do that is get a new, faster/defensive oriented PG to replace Fisher and let Fish come off the bench next year and mentor a younger PG as Fisher >Blake but still no match for nearly every other PG in the NBA from a defensive perspective.  

Since: May 17, 2008
Posted on: May 9, 2011 6:24 pm

Lakers backing gently off "blow up" talk

He never takes any responsibility on himself when things go wrong. He hardly plays defense and is reluctant to pass the ball. He is arrogant and selfish and makes those around him worse
Simply not true -- first, look at the stats, Kobe led the Lakers in assists per game, he will and does pass the ball and has for a number of years now.  But when he does that the other players have to do something with it other than always give it back to Kobe.  Just look at the shooting percentages against the Mavericks--nobody, not Gasol, Odom, Bynum, Fisher, anybody, really stood up and made plays.  In that situation Kobe, as one of the greatest players of all time (I won't debate where he ranks, but he's up there) has to force the issue more as he is the only Laker really capbable of creating his own shots. Second, I will admit this was not his best defensive year, but ankle, knee and other injuries, especially after 14 years, are slowing him down a little...but in the past he has been an all-NBA defender as well.  If you think this Laker team comes anywhere close to the success it has seen the last 4 years especially without Kobe Bryant you are delusional.

Has Odom won anywhere but LA?  Has Gasol?  Artest?  Fisher?  Need I go on?

Since: May 17, 2008
Posted on: May 9, 2011 6:19 pm

Lakers backing gently off "blow up" talk

...Kupchak is no Jerry West as a GM. Who do you think Mr.Buss will listen to Magic & the fans ? Or Kupchak who by the way is costing the Buss family over 5 mil a year for that Walton clown to sit on the bench? Way to go Mr GM...way to put the Buss families $$$ to great use
Let's see, the man you're ripping would be the same Kupchak who has put the roster together that made 3 straight NBA finals and won 2 straight NBA titles?  News Flash -- Magic, as much as I liked him as a player, is not the guy that put this roster together, that was Mitch Kupchak (yes with Buss's approval on contracts and yes with some mistakes like Walton -- but you can't tell me every single one of Jerry West's signings worked out perfectly).  Hell Magic flamed out as a head coach even.

Second news flash -- Jerry Buss is not going to sign players/trade players just because the fans want it --- that is not how he built his business or the Lakers.  Buss may or may not overrule a signing/trade by Kupchak, he is the owner, but I guarantee it won't be based on some opinion poll of the fans.

Since: Sep 18, 2008
Posted on: May 9, 2011 6:17 pm

Lakers backing gently off "blow up" talk

Why doesn't anyone ever call it like it is with the Lakers... The real problem on that "team" is Kobe Bryant. He is a phenomenal player but a horrible teammate. He is constantly quoted as saying "they" didn't do their f*cking jobs..."they" can't handle things...etc... He never takes any responsibility on himself when things go wrong. He hardly plays defense and is reluctant to pass the ball. He is arrogant and selfish and makes those around him worse. A real leader inspires teammates to be better. Kobe continually criticizes those around him, including Phil Jackson, arguably the greatest coach ever in the sport. With less attitude and more leadership on the part of Kobe the Lakers would be near unstoppable. 

Since: May 17, 2008
Posted on: May 9, 2011 6:12 pm

Lakers backing gently off "blow up" talk

Yeah sure I'd like to see Miami  get  Bynum too --- right before they announce a One Year Suspension-  He deserves it.

Spoken like a true Maverick's fan --try 4 or 5 games max. That would be about right.

Since: May 17, 2008
Posted on: May 9, 2011 6:10 pm

Lakers backing gently off "blow up" talk

I would love to see Miami get in the mix for Bynum and Odom, I know Bynum acted classless at the end of the Lakers series with Dallas, but he would be just what Miami needs a true inside pressence. Bosh and Miller for Bynum and Odom pull the trigger on that one. 
I have not even looked at the salary numbers to see if this trade works under current cap rules but no way the Lakers make this trade -- Under your scenario the Lakers upgrade no where...they would would lose Bynum's "true inside presence", sub Bosh for Gasol at PF (and Gasol is a better PF than Bosh with a better contract), forcing Gasol to play out of position at C and give up Lamar Odom, a 6-10 scorer who can play2, maybe 3 positions in a pinch (C is way undersized but if you're going small), for Miller?  Hopefully Kupchak is way too smart for such a terrible trade if it were ever proposed.  The Lakers get absolutely no value at all under this deal.  Now, of course, Miami and its fans would love the deal -- get a young, talented Center, dump Bosh's bad contract, dump a relatively useless Miller and get the 6th man of the year to be your starting PF ---two starters for 1 and a scrub (Miller's 5.5ppg and 4.5rpg on 40% shooting is not going to beat out Artest or Barnes at the SF spot in LA--he'd be the 3rd option at SF at best).

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