There’s a feeling in Los Angeles that all the Lakers just need a swift kick in the, um, how shall we say, behind to get playing with a sense of urgency again.
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak told NBA.com’s Scott Howard-Cooper he was considering just such a kick.
“Regarding a trade, I may have to,” Kupchak said at the team’s practice facility a day after the convincing loss to their heated rivals, the Celtics. “I’m not saying that I’ve made calls today or I’ll make them tomorrow. But I just don’t think that we’re playing as well as our talent level should allow us….
“I wasn’t (considering making a trade),” Kupchak said. “But it looks as if we may have to. … It’s something I may do in the future. I just don’t think that our talent level is playing as well as they can play. We have an incredibly high payroll and we do that because we have players that normally produce at a high level. And I’m not sure I see that now.”
This may be more threat than reality, but Kupchak has to be thinking about it after recent Lakers performances.
Any trades would likely be around the periphery — the Lakers core is locked up for two seasons beyond this one at top dollar and the Lakers won two titles with that group, they’re not breaking it up because of an off January. After that, it’s not likely anyone is taking the two years and $11.4 million Luke Walton is still owed off the Lakers hands. Or the three years and nearly $22 million Ron Artest still has. It’s not likely the Lakers could find a deal where they got much back for guys like Matt Barnes. They may well be interested if they could bring in a more defensive-minded point guard or a more steady outside shooter, maybe. But who is going to trade them that and risk the wrath of Popovich?
After a couple of days of public flogging and plenty of hand wringing on Los Angeles talk radio about this team’s struggles — being 9-9 against teams over .500 with ugly losses to the Heat and Celtics — it will be interesting to see how the Lakers respond on Thursday night against the Spurs.
If they are flat again, Kupchak may be pushed into action.
The NBA released its All-Rookie teams yesterday. Hornets forward Miles Bridges missed out, getting only one first-team vote and four second-team votes.
I love this attitude. Bridges didn’t deserve to make it. It’s silly to for anyone, including him, to pretend otherwise.
He’s obviously being too hard on himself. He had an OK rookie year. It just wasn’t one of the NBA’s 10 best this season.
Players often hold inflated opinions of themselves. That might help them succeed in a high-pressure job, and that’s obviously their priority. To be clear: I’m not criticizing them for adopting an approach that helped them reach this high level. But it leaves them as lousy analysts of their own performance.
Bridges doesn’t have that problem. It’s easy to see how this will drive him to improve.
His humility won’t work for everyone. But it works for him, and it’s a refreshing change of pace.
The NBA Finals will begin May 30 – their earliest start in 33 years.
The Warriors will still have to wait a while to begin play.
Golden State, which completed a sweep of the Trail Blazers in the Western Conference finals Monday, is in the midst of nine straight off days. That’s tied for the fourth-longest layoff during a postseason in NBA history:
The Warriors probably don’t mind the long break. Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and DeMarcus Cousins are battling injuries and can use the time to recover.
The big question: Is rest or rust more important?
Of the previous 10 teams with such long layoffs, seven won the ensuing Game 1 and seven won the ensuing series. But we’re dealing with varying levels of team quality, major differences in opponent rest and a small sample.
It seems clear rest matters more for a banged-up Golden State. But that doesn’t mean rust won’t be a challenge against the Bucks or Raptors.
As Lakers owner Jeanie Buss repeatedly asked Magic Johnson about problems within the organization, he reportedly said there were none. Then, he went on television and detailed a ton of internal dysfunction.
After resigning as team president, Johnson said he had a good working relationship with general manager Rob Pelinka:
Then, Johnson went on television and accused Pelinka of betrayal.
In that same interview, Johnson also said Buss approved his part-time status while running the front office:
I told her, I said listen, ‘I can’t give up all my businesses. I make more money doing that than becoming president of the Lakers. So, you know that I’m going to be in and out. Is that OK with you?’ She said yes
In this case, Johnson went on television and contradicted himself… TWO YEARS EARLIER.
Darius Soriano of Forum Blue & Gold:
If it was probably any other situation, I probably wouldn’t have left my business aside, left my business to concentrate fully, 150 percent on Lakers business. But because of her leadership – and I know she wants to win so bad – I decided hey, I wanted to work side-by-side with her.
So, Johnson and Buss (who was at his side for that interview) apparently knew the importance of saying Johnson was fully committed to running the Lakers. They apparently didn’t understand the importance of Johnson actually being fully committed to running the Lakers.
No wonder he was so bad at his job.
Juwan Howard made an All-Star team and an All-NBA third team. He spent 17 seasons in the league. He has been a Heat assistant coach the last five years.
But he might best be known as a member of the Fab Five.
That connection will resonate even more strongly as Howard returns to Michigan.
Miami Heat Beat:
Jeff Goodman of Stadium:
Michigan needed a coach after losing John Beilein – who had no NBA-coaching experience – to the Cavaliers. So, the Wolverines are hiring Howard, who has no college-coaching experience.
Shifting levels will be an adjustment for Howard. So will becoming a head coach for the first time.
But Howard was has established himself as a steady contributor to the Heat’s respected coaching staff. He interviewed for the Lakers, Cavs and Timberwolves head-coaching positions. Howard brings far more credibility than just his Michigan-alumnus status to this job.