If Phil Jackson steps down, the Lakers need to go with Brian Shaw

28 Comments

shaw_coach.jpgFor the next week, Lakers fans are heading to their local churches and lighting candles with a prayer that Phil Jackson decides to stay on to coach the Lakers. Fans are nervous, they are doing anything they can — meditating on it, offering rum to Jobu, burning incense to please the gods. There are PETA members in LA that would sacrifice a goat or two if they thought it would help. They are that serious.

Jackson is everyone’s option number one — including the Lakers front office. They want him back. But what if he decides turning it up to 11 was enough?

Then the Lakers have to choose between Byron Scott and Brian Shaw.

Not exactly those two, although they would be the frontrunners. But Scott and Shaw represent the philosophical crossroads the Lakers would be at. Stay with the current system or blow it up.

On one hand is Scott, representing a dramatic break with the triangle offense. Jerry Buss much preferred the Showtime era style of play to the triangle. Hey, we all did. But there is no arguing with success, and the triangle works. And Buss is too smart to dump Jackson just because the offense isn’t aesthetically pleasing enough. Jackson would have to do something far worse, like sleep with the owner’s daughter… oh, wait, bad example.

Scott would bring some old-school Laker history, a direct tie to the Showtime era. His offenses have been point-guard led (Jason Kidd and Chris Paul). The Lakers would run again. The coach wouldn’t just sit there, he’d stalk the sidelines and yell at the refs giving a cathartic release to the fans that Jackson does not.

There would need to be other changes. Derek Fisher may be the worst point guard in running the break in the Association, the Lakers would need someone else in that role (or, just keep Jordan Farmar and turn him loose).  The role players would need to be less Luke Walton and more Shannon Brown.

And the Lakers fans could hope that inevitable mutiny of the players to Scott — it happened in New Jersey quite publicly and the wave was just about to break public in New Orleans when he was let go — came after this championship window was closed. Scott is not a long-term answer, but the Lakers may not care, because it would be Showtime again. The fun would be back.

But you know what is the most fun? Winning.

And the triangle wins. This Lakers roster wins. And it was built for the triangle.

That brings us to Brian Shaw. The Lakers lead assistant. He represents keeping things largely the same, not trying to make a big philosophical shift in the middle of a championship window. Don’t change horses in the middle of the stream.

Shaw has no head coaching experience and Scott has led a team to two NBA Finals — where Scott’s team lost to the Lakers and the triangle. Shaw can get the players ear because they know him. Kobe trusts him, Kobe has been through the wars of the playoffs with him as a player and coach. Read Phil Jackson’s last book — before Game 5 of the 2004 NBA finals it was Shaw Kobe was calling as his confidant. Kobe trusts him, and if he does the team will.

The Lakers have won two consecutive NBA titles and can win a few more — why would you go with a philosophical change of style right now? Is Shaw more of a risk than changing how you do things, changing on the court systems? Continuity matters? Think it’s a coincidence that two teams that have not changed how they have done things for years — and built to that style of play — were the teams tipping off in Game 7 of the NBA finals?

Shaw is a gamble, but a smart gamble. The Lakers need to be what they are if Jackson leaves, and Shaw is that.

Unless the Lakers are looking for real drama, not just wins.

Rumor: Lakers not signing Carmelo Anthony

Harry How/Getty Images
1 Comment

Many in Houston are convinced Carmelo Anthony is done with the Rockets.

If so, where will he play next?

Like when he was a free agent just a few months ago, speculation has centered on teams with his banana-boat buddies. Chris Paul and the Rockets already tried. But LeBron James‘ Lakers and Dwyane Wade‘s Heat seem viable.

Marc J. Spears on ESPN:

I am hearing that not the Lakers. I think the Lakers are done.

The Lakers already have scoring power forwards in Kyle Kuzma and Michael Beasley, and LeBron can obviously play that position. I’d rather have the incumbents than Anthony.

So how about Miami? Wade has been Anthony’s most outspoken backer, after all. But the Heat also have a superior offensive power forward in Kelly Olynyk, and Justise Winslow and Derrick Jones Jr. provide a fair amount of depth at the position.

Really, this is probably the wrong conversation. Maybe there is a bad team or two with a deficiency so glaring, Anthony is worth a roll of the dice. But he might just be finished as an NBA player, regardless of the fit.

Kevin Durant argues with Draymond Green after failed final shot attempt

Associated Press
1 Comment

The Clippers had been in control of the game against the Warriors, up 11 midway through the fourth quarter, but that’s when the run everyone had been waiting on came. The Warriors closed the gap behind Klay Thompson becoming a tough shot maker, and when Lou Williams missed a tough fade-away long two with :06 seconds left, Golden State had the chance to escape with a win.

Draymond Green got the rebound. Kevin Durant was clapping his hands calling for the ball. No timeout to set up a play was called, and Green decided to do it all himself, pushed the ball upcourt and… fumbled it away without a shot.

Durant was pissed on the bench after that.

Here are some better looks, notice Andre Iguodala and DeMarcus Cousins were the peacemakers.

After the game, Durant — who fouled out in overtime — left without speaking to the media. Green refused to discuss it.

It’s a long season, these kinds of spats happen to every team, and the Warriors will get over it. This is not the first family squabble they have had. But this just feels like one to file away in the memory bank and recall next July when decisions will be made about the future of this roster.

Three Things to Know: NBA family sends love after horrific Caris LeVert injury

Associated Press
1 Comment

Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) Caris LeVert’s promising season halted by a horrific leg injury, NBA family reacts with love. Caris LeVert was having a breakout season scoring 18.4 points per game, having taken on a larger percentage of the Nets’ offense yet improving his efficiency. It’s early to talk awards, but his name came up as a most improved candidate.

Then on Monday came a horrific leg injury. One that undoubtedly ended his season. Here is the video, but only watch it if you have a strong stomach. The injury pushes both Nets and Timberwolves players to tears.

NBA players reacted on Twitter, here is just a small sampling.

Our thoughts are with LeVert as well.

2) Two days after beating Bucks in OT, Clippers do the same thing to Warriors. If you’re not taking the Los Angeles Clippers seriously, it’s time to. Saturday night they knocked off the Milwaukee Bucks in overtime, a quality win against the team with the best net rating in the NBA so far.

Monday night, the Clippers knocked off the Warriors in overtime, 121-116. Lou Williams, who was ice cold for most of the game and shot 3-of-15 in regulation, was making plays and had 10 points in overtime. Tobias Harris continues to be a leader and had 17 points. But it was the youth of the Clippers that got this win. Montrezl Harrell dropped 23 points on just 13 shots while grabbing eight rebounds and blocking four shots off the bench. Rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander started at the point and finished with 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting, five rebounds, and three assists.

The Clippers have the seventh-best net rating in the NBA, with a top 10 offense and defense (usually the sign of a contender). If they can stay healthy — and that has always been the concern with this Clippers roster — we may need to pencil them in for a playoff spot.

Of course, leave it to the Warriors to ramp up the drama, even in a loss. Monday’s game only reached overtime because of an 11-0 Warriors run to close out regulation (and the Warriors were without Stephen Curry due to his groin injury). However, it was the last play of regulation that led to the drama — Draymond Green grabbed the defensive rebound, ignored Kevin Durant clapping and calling for the ball, decided he was going to take it the length himself and get the game winner… and fumbled it away without a shot. You don’t have to imagine how that sat with KD.

Notice Andre Iguodala and DeMarcus Cousins were the peacemakers.

It’s a long season, these kinds of spats happen to every team, but this is just one to file away and remember.

3) Now where does Carmelo Anthony go? ‘Melo is not with the Rockets as they travel to Denver for a game Tuesday, officially due to an “illness” but nobody is buying that. Frustrations about his role have led to meetings with the team and it is expected Anthony has played his last game as a Rocket, he will be released.

Just don’t expect that to happen too quickly.

Because, where is ‘Melo going to land? What team will bring him in? Where does he have a significant role? Anthony said it was “mentally challenging” to come off the bench for Houston, he expects to be tenured in and treated with the deference of a quality starting player. There was a time when Anthony was that; there was a stretch of four or five years where he was the best scorer in the NBA (not the most efficient ever, but he could get buckets with the best of them). That time, however, ended three or four years ago (at least). The fall has been rapid. At this point, Anthony is a bench player — but not one who can accept that role, making it an awkward and challenging fit anywhere.

ESPN’s Marc Spears said on The Jump he had heard Miami and Philadelphia as possible destinations. Philly is looking for depth and role players (maybe even a fifth starter), but not guys who are going to get a lot of touches — Jimmy Butler, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and J.J. Redick should get the bulk of the Sixers’ touches and shots. For years Brett Brown has worked to build a blue-collar, hard-working culture in Philly, a team that defends well and plays all out. Butler fits with that ethos. Anthony… not so much. The Lakers came up because of the LeBron connection, but they need to focus on their young players and to build a core for the future, ‘Melo never made sense there.

Miami makes more sense on paper, just because the 5-8 team could use a jolt to awaken their pedestrian offense so far. But they strike out on Butler so they go get ‘Melo? Is Pat Riley really going to bring him in?

Anthony couldn’t accept a role with a contender in Houston. No team developing young players is going to bring him in to take away touches from those guys. That doesn’t leave a lot of options. This could take a while.

Clippers knock off Warriors in overtime 121-116

Associated Press
Leave a comment

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lou Williams couldn’t hit a lick in regulation, so of course he had the ball in crunch time.

The Los Angeles Clippers wouldn’t have it any other way.

Williams scored the Clippers’ final 10 points in overtime after they blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter, and they hung on Monday night to beat the Golden State Warriors at home for the first time in nearly four years, 121-116.

Williams recovered after shooting 3 of 16 in regulation, when the Clippers were scoreless over the final 5:15 while the Warriors ran off 11 straight points to force overtime tied at 106-all.

“There would be no point for me to be on the floor if I didn’t have confidence,” said Williams, who finished with 25 points.

Montrezl Harrell added 23 points off the bench and rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 18.

“It’s not about the run they go on,” Harrell said. “It’s about how we handle it. We stayed after it and kept going after them.”

The Clippers snapped a seven-game skid against the Warriors at Staples Center, where they last won on Dec. 25, 2014.

“Unfortunately we lost, but we’ll see them again at least three more times and that’ll be different,” Klay Thompson said.

Kevin Durant had 33 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for the Warriors before fouling out with 3:46 left in the extra session. Thompson added 31 points, but was just 5 of 16 on 3-pointers on a night without injured fellow Splash Brother Stephen Curry.

“Everything changes without Steph,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s one of the best offensive players in the history of the game so you take him out and they don’t have to worry about as much.”

Golden State lost for just the third time in 14 games.

The starless Clippers improved to 6-1 at home.

Thompson’s 3-pointer tied it 116-all in overtime, interrupting Williams’ run of 10 straight points for the Clippers.

“He’s been playing the same game for like 10 years now,” Shaun Livingston said of Williams. “He’s just a handful to guard.”

Down 106-95, the Warriors closed regulation on an 11-0 run, with Thompson scoring their last eight points. His second 3-pointer in the spurt tied it at 106. However, on the final play of regulation, Draymond Green tried to take it the length of the court rather than pass to Kevin Durant, and Green lost the ball without getting a shot off. That led to words between the two on the bench.

The Clippers crashed the boards – every player grabbed at least one – and they dominated in the paint, 62-36.

Williams’ 3-pointer gave Los Angeles its largest lead of 101-87 after they didn’t go up by double digits until Harrell’s basket to open the fourth.

The Warriors were held to 20 points in the third when they were outscored by six.

“I told our guys to empty the gun at the beginning of the third,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “Our whole goal was to get more shots than them.”

The Clippers shot 60 percent and led 64-61 at halftime.