When some of us argued that Brian Shaw was the best coach to take over the Lakers after Phil Jackson left, the reasoning was simply that you don’t change horses in the middle of the stream.
The Lakers are still (theoretically) in a championship window. They had been playing the triangle for years and while not all the players in the locker room liked it the roster was largely built to run it. Kobe Bryant fit well in it. Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum could work well in it. No other system really fits Derek Fisher anymore.
But Jim Buss wanted to put his stamp on the organization, so all things Jackson were out and in came defensive minded Mike Brown. And the Lakers are playing good defense — even after the Heat ran all over them the Lakers are sixth in the NBA in points allowed per possession. Problem is they are 19th in points scored per possession. Even when Kobe goes off, the Lakers offense is pretty average.
You get what you ask for, Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register reminds us all.
But the same reasons I gave for lobbying the Lakers to give Shaw the job in May remain valid: The Lakers’ motivation for this season was already there from wasting last season, and they could’ve been set up to do everything they already knew – just better – with renewed hunger, the same triangle offense and a healthier Kobe Bryant.
By choosing Brown, the Lakers embraced massive change, which is generally a very good thing only when things are already very bad. We are seeing now just how rough the ride has to be in starting from scratch.
“It’s under construction,” Kobe Bryant said late Thursday night of Brown’s offense. “Still working on the blueprints, actually.”
The good news for Lakers fans is that the Lakers are playing good defense so far this season. If they had done that last season maybe things turn out differently. The other reason for optimism is that as they play more games and the season wears on, they will start to figure out the offense more and how to exploit mismatches. The Lakers could and should have dominated the Heat in the paint on Thursday, but they didn’t set up scoring chances in there well enough or often enough. The result was a thumping.
When you start things over from scratch, you get some of those. It’s what the Lakers ownership asked for.
Josh Jackson is not going Bo Jackson on us and playing baseball in the offseason.
The highly-rated forward out of Kansas who was the No. 4 pick of the Phoenix Suns was invited to throw out the first pitch before Friday night’s Diamondbacks game.
To quote Bob Uecker, he was just a bit outside. He tried the corner and missed.
Lonzo Ball was able to make his first pitch, ergo, he will turn out to be a much better NBA player. Obviously, these skills correlate.
This is a Mark Cuban owned team, you don’t think the Mavericks are going to make a serious run at a free agent come July 1? Pelicans’ point guard Jrue Holiday has long been known to be a target, but there will be others.
But keeping their new core together, including restricted free agent Nerlens Noel, is the top priority, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.
Rumors like this are out there in part from Dallas to hope to chill the market for Noel. While he could be a defensive force who provides some scoring around the rim, with Noel’s injury history they may be able to get him at less than max money — because if he’s at the max the Mavericks are flirting with the luxury tax (and Cuban isn’t going to want to pay the tax for a borderline playoff team at best).
What Dallas fears is what Brooklyn did last season to Allen Crabbe in Portland and Tyler Johnson in Miami — some team to come in with a max or near-max offer sheet that drives up the price. Dallas will match, they will keep the young core together, it just gets more expensive.
Next season in Dallas will be a deserved big farewell to Dirk Nowitzki. He will be the focus, but behind him Dallas will try to be building for the future. They made the trade deadline move to make sure Noel is a part of that, the only question now is how much it costs them.
Nobody, not even his critics with the Lakers, question that D'Angelo Russell had talent. What they questioned from the start was his work ethic and maturity. I was told by sources with the team he often was the last one to team meetings, often one of the first out of the gym, and the whole Nick Young thing spoke to the maturity question. Byron Scott took a lot of heat as Lakers’ coach for benching him, and Scott’s communication skills were lacking, but he had reasons. Russell also just 21 and maybe he finds his way, but the Lakers weren’t willing to wait anymore.
Which is why the Lakers were willing to move him to Brooklyn in the Brook Lopez trade, and why the Lakers went after Lonzo Ball in the draft, Magic Johnson said, via Baxter Holmes of ESPN.
Is Lonzo Ball a leader? Only time will tell, he has the potential.
Will players want to play with him? Yes, if the passing skills he showed in college transfer to the NBA. If guys know they will get the rock if they run/cut, then they will do just that. It’s some simple B. F. Skinner stuff here — if players are rewarded they will keep doing it. Get them the rock in transition and they will get out there every time.
Ball has flaws in his game, there are certainly questions about his defense, and how that awkward shot translates remains to be seen (it goes in but his time to get it off will decrease at the NBA level)? Will he be a scoring threat in the half-court? He’s got work to do. But answer those questions and the Lakers may have the key piece to help anchor a franchise he’s been looking for.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Sacramento Kings have waived guard Arron Afflalo one year after signing him as a free agent.
The Kings cut ties with Afflalo on Friday before his entire $12.5 million contract for 2017-18 would become guaranteed. Afflalo will get $1.5 million instead.
Afflalo averaged 8.4 points and 2 rebounds in 61 games this past season for Sacramento. He has averaged 11.3 points per game in his 10-year career.