The action — Lakers owner Jerry Buss showing up to watch a team practice for the first time in a couple years — speaks of concern and a guy looking to jump start his team.
The words were those of someone not worried in the least.
Buss did attend practice and spoke to ESPNLosAngeles’ Dave McMenamin and other reporters.
“I’m kind of used to up and down,” Buss said. “We’ve had a lot of up-and-down seasons that turned out pretty up and a few that have turned down. I’m not surprised. Nothing’s different, nothing’s different…”
“I’m always hopeful,” Buss said. “Even when we didn’t make the playoffs, I thought we’d win the championship.”
Buss did not address the team as a whole but did speak to several members of the Lakers individually including Ron Artest and Lamar Odom.
The Lakers take on the San Antonio Spurs Thursday night at Staples Center. With the Lakers 1-5 against the other elite teams in the NBA, there has been added importance put on this game by the fans and some in the media.
The fact Buss showed up to practice at all — in the wake of Jerry West saying the team looked old, then GM Mitch Kupchak and Magic Johnson saying the team should look at trades — at least shows some level of concern. But this is a Lakers team that has won two titles and had a slump in January last season, so nobody in the Lakers camp is close to hitting the panic button.
They just want the team to stop hitting the snooze button.
In the NBA, elite players have the leverage. It is just simple supply and demand.
DeMarcus Cousins is an elite player — and a favorite of owner Vivek Ranadive. He is not going anywhere.
Which made this summer’s “George Karl wants trade Cousins” a battle the coach couldn’t ultimately win — the owner wasn’t going to sign off on it, and the fans are going to side with Boogie. Remember Karl said he never had a player that was untradable, and that spiraled into reports Karl probed trade options with other teams, much to the frustration of management and Cousins himself.
Karl owned up to some of his mistakes in an interview on Comcast Bay Area, as reported by James Ham at CSNBayArea.com.
“To be honest with you, I apologized to DeMarcus for making the trade comment that I’ve never coached a player that’s untradeable,” Karl told Christensen. “That was wrong for me to say, because you all (the media) took it and blew it up into crazy.”
“But it’s my responsibility to be smart enough to not say things like that,” Karl continued. “So I did apologize because I thought that was the only thing, maybe some other things, but really the only thing that got us separated was that comment that then everybody wrote the we’re going to trade [Cousins].”
The relationship between Cousins and Karl — not to mention Rajon Rondo and other veterans — is the biggest key to the Kings’ season. Karl and Cousins say their relationship is solid now, but what happens when that is put under stress at some point during the season?
In talking to people around the team, the Kings players seemed to have formed a tight bond — even if part of the glue of that bond is a distrust of Karl that can work for them. This is a team that has the talent to compete for the bottom couple playoff seeds in the Western Conference, but everybody needs to be pulling on the rope in the same direction. We will see pretty quickly if the Kings can do that.
I’m a fan of the Pistons’ alternate uniforms in general — their “Motor City” ones may be may favorite alternates around the league.
Now they have a new one — Detroit Chrome.
The Pistons will break these out for seven home games this season. From the official release:
The inspiration for the Detroit Chrome jerseys came about as a way to honor our coolest cars from the past and the cars of the future. Detroit is universally known as the auto capital of the world, where chrome leaves an indelible mark on the cars we create. The uniforms feature a matte chrome base color with clean simple lines inspired by the classic muscle cars that have roared up and down Woodward Avenue for decades. The navy trim and Detroit emblazoned across the chest represent the blue collar work ethic that the auto industry and region was built on.
Clean, simple, cool — I like it.
That would look good in the first round of the playoffs, too. (I’m predicting they get the eight seed.)