Houston Rockets v Los Angeles Lakers

Jerry West says criticism of Mike D’Antoni “grossly unfair”


For a whole lot of Lakers fans (and some in the media) Mike D’Antoni has been the scapegoat for this Lakers season.

Jerry West doesn’t get that.

The current part owner of the Warriors went on Los Angeles radio — Max Kellerman and Marcellus Wiley on ESPN LA 710 radio — and said D’Antoni hasn’t been treated fairly (as transcribed by Eric Pincus at the L.A. Times).

“I think there’s been far too much criticism of Mike [D’Antoni],” West said… “I think it’s grossly unfair to him. He inherited a team that had a bunch of injuries,” West said. “He inherited a team without a training camp. I think he’s done a nice job, to be honest with you.”

But what about the Lakers plan for Game 1, they should have thrown the ball inside more, right? Even Kobe was pounding that point on twitter.

“All these social media things about throw the ball inside — you have to be able make shots from the outside if you’re going to be able to make shots from the inside,” West said.

As usual, Jerry West is spot on here.

Mike D’Antoni started out behind the 8-Ball in Los Angeles because he’s not Phil Jackson, and that’s who most fans wanted (and whose style fit better with the current roster). But if that’s you’re beef, then take it up with Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak. They called D’Antoni (he just had his knee replaced, he wasn’t job hunting) and he accepted.

And he has greatly modified his style this season, by necessity but he has done it. The Lakers run “horns” sets, throw the ball into the post off the wing, they don’t do a lot of classic D’Antoni things.

But the Spurs took the easy stuff away in Game 1, fronting the post and making it hard on the Lakers. Welcome to the playoffs against a good team — you can’t beat them with your first option. It’s option two, three, four that have to step up. West is right, unless the Lakers knock down outside shots they will not be able to get space inside to operate.

We’ll see if the Lakers other options can step up.

Tony Parker wants to play six more seasons with Spurs

Tony Parker
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Tony Parker revealed a plan nearly two years ago to play until he’s 38.

Coming off his worst season since his rookie year, the Spurs point guard is sticking to that goal.

Parker, via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:

“The Spurs know I want to play until I’m 38,” Parker told Yahoo Sports in a recent phone interview. “That will be 20 seasons for me. That’s my goal. This year is No. 15. And if I’m lucky enough and I’m healthy, hopefully I can play 20 seasons and then I’ll be ready to retire.”

That seems pretty ambitious, no matter how you handle the conflicting math. (Parker is 33. If he plays 20 seasons, he’ll spend most of his final season at age 39 and turn 40 during the playoffs.)

Parker is already showing signs of slippage. Many of his key numbers were down last season, including ESPN’s real-plus minus, where he quietly slipped from 12th to 67th among point guards.

But Gregg Popovich is very liberal with resting his players, and Parker won’t have to carry too much of the load. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will probably retire before Parker, but the Spurs will still have Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.

I wouldn’t count on it, but it’s possible Parker lasts that long.

Report: Pelicans signing Greg Smith

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The Pelicans starting center, Omer Asik, is injured.

Their backup center, Alexis Ajinca, is injured.

Enter Greg Smith.

Scott Kushner of The Advocate:

Smith was part of the Rockets’ 2012-13 rotation, but otherwise, he has seen limited minutes in his four-year career with Houston and Dallas. In that small sample, he has looked alright. The 6-foot-10 24-year-old uses his big frame and massive hands to catch passes and finish efficiently near the rim. He has also become more disciplined defensively.

I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes the regular-season roster behind the 13 Pelicans with guaranteed salaries.

But it’s also possible New Orleans signed him just an extra preseason body. That’d beat relying too heavily on the aging Kendrick Perkins and undersized Jeff Adrien at center. Anthony Davis is the Pelicans’ best option at center with Asik and Ajinca sidelined (and maybe even with them healthy), but the biggest drawback to playing him there is the injury risk. If Davis is going to deal with the banging at center, might as well save it for games that count.

Still, even New Orleans plans to keep Smith only through the preseason, this at least gives him a chance to impress.