The Los Angeles Lakers preview

Where do we go from here?

Let’s flash back to last summer, shall we? The Los Angeles Lakers pulled off one of the greatest heists in NBA history once again in stealing Dwight Howard and trading just Andrew Bynum to acquire him. Remember the shock from all of the basketball world? Remember how ESPN pretty much said the Lakers were gonna win the title? Remember the SI cover with Dwight Howard and Steve Nash titled how the season was gonna be “fun?” Yeah, well….. it was all good just a year ago.

The Lakers struggled to begin the year, firing then coach Mike Brown after starting off the season slow. They hired Mike D’Antoni, and the Lakers actually had a 45 win season, which led to a seven seed in the West, and an embarrassing exit in the playoffs without the guy who pretty much put the team on his back in Kobe Bryant, who tore his Achilles in the last week of the regular season. The off-season turned into a slideshow, begging for Dwight Howard to stay in Los Angeles (https://shaunhoward.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/i-hate-my-team/) and that turned into a comedy show because Dwight Howard wasn’t going to stay with the Lakers. Everybody, including Dwight knew that. Dwight treated the Lakers like one of his baby mamas.

This is Dwight Howard’s life in a nutshell (no pun intended. Okay, maybe).

At first, he thought the Lakers were this new sexy toy because he was tired of having children with his old toy (Orlando Magic), so he decided to get the new toy pregnant. Then, when the going got tough, Dwight decided he was fed up and wanted to have another sexy toy. So when the moment reached, Dwight saw he was free and BOOM, on to Houston because they are the new sexy toy in his eyes. (BOOM BABY! Houston strip clubs about to be POPPIN off this year!!!! Houston fans, if Dwight gets fed up in three years and wants another toy, he’ll make sure he’ll get his way). So Laker fans, we were just a groupie to Dwight Howard.

Good luck in Houston, #TheWhite

Where does that leave the Lakers now? How do the Lakers go from here?

Well for the starters, I don’t know what the Lakers plan down the road is. Do the Lakers want to tank this year, get a top 5 pick + clean salary cap except for Steve Nash’s contract next year? Or do these interesting cast of characters attempt to actually make the playoffs? Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss did the right thing in my eyes to letting Dwight Howard walk without taking on another contract. However, if the Lakers were smart enough, they would have traded Dwight Howard during last season, especially when he was unhappy in February because he was on his usual mood swing.

Three questions that I have for my own team:

1. Will you attempt to play defense, Los Angeles?

When you see this roster, you can tell that it fits Mike D’Antoni system. They’ll get up and down the court, and score 105 a game, but they’ll probably give up 110. Steve Nash is the starting point guard and he’ll be 40 during the NBA season. That’s not a typo. Steve Nash playing defense on Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, Deron Williams, Stephen Curry, Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Ricky Rubio, Tony Parker, and even Brandon Jennings will be seen as a highlight film for those guys. Remember when Curry put Nash in the washing machine spin cycle back in March?

………………………….

Nick Young has never heard of the word defense before (but he’s heard of swag since he’s SWAGGY P, BRUH!), and watching him play defense will be mildly entertaining because he’ll just let other two guards score so he can shoot more. Jodie Meeks? Lol. A frontcourt line of Chris Kaman, Pau Gasol, and wait for it…… Wes Johnson will be hilarious. Given this is the first (and only) training camp with Mike D’Antoni as a head coach, maybe they did work on simple defensive concepts.

2. Will Kobe Bryant be effective this season?

No one, and I mean no one knows what to expect from Kobe Bryant. Bryant just tore his Achilles in April, and has said that if this were a playoff situation, he’d be able to play. But then he added that he can’t push off his Achilles and that he’s not in shape. Which makes me believe that Kobe Bryant probably won’t be back for awhile. It’s completely obvious that the Lakers can’t just rely on Kobe to come back and carry them for most of the season like he did last year. But this is Kobe Bryant, and he’s been known to do the unthinkable.

3.  But really, do the Lakers have a long-term plan in place?

I know, I know. I addressed this above.  But it’s an interesting question to ask. Kobe can’t play forever, and I know the Lakers know this. At some point, you have a solution to the problem. Mike D’Antoni isn’t the right fit for the organization, but neither is Phil Jackson anymore.  Are you going to place all your chips in hope of landing Carmelo Anthony this summer, or do you go full rebuild mode? These are questions that the front office will need to answer quickly.

Season prediction:

All off-season long, I’ve been saying how the Lakers won’t make the playoffs, and as a fan……. I’m not changing my mind. Looking at the roster, it’s clear to me that the Lakers built the roster to D’Antoni’s system. That’s fine to a degree. With everyone off the roster after this season with the exception of Steve Nash, it’s clear that Lakers are going to go all in the summer of 2014. I’ve been saying this, it’s best for the Lakers to completely forget about this season, and start from scratch next year, in hopefully Kobe Bryant’s last season of hooping (Yes Laker fans, Kobe is going to retire soon).  Do I think the Lakers will actually do that? Will they miss the playoffs for the 6th time in franchise history?

I think the ceiling for this team is 35-38 wins. They’ll be exciting to watch because they’ll score 100+ points  a game, and because Nick Young is probably going to go full YOLO mode. But they’ll give up a lot a big games to guards, and give up at least 105+ points a game. So no playoffs. A lottery pick, and a semi-rebuilding project heading into the Summer of 2014.

It’s not the end of the world, Laker fans. All franchises have to rebuild. It’s how you reload. And we must pray that the Los Angeles Lakers front office knows what the hell they’re doing.

Thoughts? Leave a comment or tweet me at @kingshaundiz 

As the Laker season turns: Why it’s time to implode this team (co-written by Micah Mercado)

Smh

The Los Angeles Lakers. One of the NBA’s glamour franchises, with the 16 championships, the success of big men, and the amount of legends from Jerry West, to Kareem, to Magic, Shaq, and a current one, Kobe Bryant. After coming into this season with hype after acquiring All-Star center Dwight Howard and point guard Steve Nash last summer, but now, the Lakers are seemly one of the teams on TV that you can’t look away from. Not because of the basketball abilities of the players, but because the drama is seemly there non-stop. The Lakers are currently 24-27 with a game at Miami on Sunday Afternoon on ABC.  3 games under .500, and this team isn’t that good as we thought they’d be. (The Lakers were down 20 points against Charlotte, and happened to come back to win. Not even amused.) Laker fans expect championships or at least a contender. This team isn’t even near that, at all. The Los Angeles Lakers are an below average basketball team.

The current problem with the Los Angeles Lakers is that they have pieces that are pretty damn good on paper but teams aren’t made on paper, they are made on the court. The Lakers are old, slow, and in new head coach Mike D’Antoni’s system, this team simply can’t run his type of offensive style. You can tell the egos are strong because they aren’t winning games. Why? Every other week, we’re hearing something about how a player doesn’t want to come off the bench (Pau Gasol), to there being screaming and crying at a team meeting (Dwight Howard), to then a guy possibly questioning a guy’s character and toughness to the press (Kobe Bryant). This team is full of divas. Full of guys who want to be “The guy.” The guy to carry their team to win it all instead of doing with it a team. The Lakers Organization wasn’t in the wrong to bring Dwight Howard or Steve Nash to their team. If you can get rid of a player like Andrew Bynum who isn’t playing at all for a Dwight Howard who is playing, that’s perfectly acceptable.

THE LOS ANGELES LAKERS ARE YOUR 2012-13 NBA CHAMPIONS” is a headline that we’ll never see. That was the expectation when the Lakers decided to bring in both Steve Nash and Dwight “my neck, my back” Howard, but obviously things haven’t worked out that way, and I don’t think they will if the roster looks the same next season. The Lakers need to make changes. The Dwight Howard experiment hasn’t worked, and it needs to end. The obvious answer is a trade, because letting Dee-wite walk out without anyone in return would be stupid. The question now is where do the Lakers trade him, and for whom? That’s something to think about.

taken in happier times

Dwight Howard isn’t 100% on the court and I don’t think that’s he’s 100% mentally. Perhaps, he’s ready to leave the bright lights of Los Angeles, and go to a smaller market such as, Atlanta or Dallas. As great as Dwight Howard is, he can’t accept when people attempt to challenge him. Kobe Bryant is challenging Dwight Howard mentally. Bryant has been quoted over and over again as saying that he’s tried to tell Dwight to just block all the other shit out, and just play basketball. The problem is that Dwight hasn’t done that. In this whole #Dwightmare saga, he’s told people what they want to hear. Let’s go back to when Dwight got Stan Van Gundy fired.

(coach killa, coach killa, coach killa *R. Kelly voice*)

Look at this…just look at it.

After Stan’s exchange with reporters, Dwight comes in and acts like everything is perfectly fine. He talks to the media like nothing is wrong, that they just need to focus on the next game. The funny thing about this is that Dwight is basically doing the exact same thing this season. He’s hit the reset button on the season like he’s a kid who’s N64 no longer works. It’s ridiculous. If he’s supposed to be so focused on the goal of winning a championship, why do we need to start the season over about 7 times?

Oscar Proud gotta chill

Of course, it comes off as just “Dwight’s personality.” But how long are we just gonna chalk it up to his persona? Laker fans already got Andrew Bynum outta here for his personality, it won’t be long til the same happens to Dwight. Yet in some ways it already has. Bryant stated that the Lakers don’t have the time to wait for his shoulder to heal and he’s right, they don’t. Steve Nash also said the same thing to the media about Dwight, that he just needs to play. So what does Dwight do? Play against Boston last night because big brother Kobe and Scuba Steve said so. If these injuries are as bad as what he claims,  if his legs are really going numb, if his shoulder is causing this much pain (even though he’s been cleared for the last few games prior to the Boston game), shut it down already Dwight. He’s gotta stop vacillating between playing or not playing, just like he did in Orlando with his #Decision. As a fan, I am sick and tired of watching this dude try to please everyone. It’s annoying, really. If it’s career and no one else will take care of him, why hasn’t he repaired that shoulder? Why didn’t he just sit out the season til January like we all assumed he would? I just don’t know, man.

SHUT IT DOWN BIG FELLA!

It’s one thing for a team to seemly get embarrassed from time to time. In the NBA, there will be nights that this happens. But every other night, this happens with this team. A team, with championship or bust aspirations as Bryant said shouldn’t be getting embarrassed on the basketball court.  This team seemly doesn’t give a flying fuck about playing together, or playing with pride. I don’t care if you suck. Losing doesn’t bother me one bit. It’s the way this team carries themselves on and off the court. Crying to the media about everything little thing isn’t built for titles. This team lacks the effort, the heart, and the desire like their fanbase has.  Simply put it, when they put on that Laker uniform, they aren’t playing for pride or for the ones who did it before them, they are playing for themselves.

This is very sad how this ship is sinking. Nobody knows what’s gonna happen with the Los Angeles Lakers. Dwight Howard (Or 13-1, 6×2, 3×4, etc) is gonna leave this summer. The Lakers have no lottery picks because they traded all of their lottery picks to Phoenix. Kobe’s a grandpa. Pau will be coming off a foot injury. Nash is 39 years old.  No, I’m not expecting this team to win a title while Kobe Bryant is on the roster. But his contract expires next year, and so does Gasol, and World Peace. That opens up a lot of cap space for the Lakers to do something. (No you dumbass Laker fans, Lebron James isn’t gonna leave Miami. Stop with that.) With the cap space finally clearing out, you can slowly rebuild and reload to contend for titles. Will that happen with Jim Buss being the dumbass that he is? Will Mitch just accept that it’s time to do this?

Your guess is as good as mine. This front office needs to understand one thing: This team currently constructed HATES each other. When they play, you can tell they do. As fans of this team, we’re gonna love them win or lose, but it’s time. It’s time to implode this team, soon. Laker front office, it’s time to bon voyage to Dwight Howard soon.

Why We All (Myself included) Need to Calm Down About the Lakers, part 2

Shaun let me (@mercs_808 on twitter) take over the WordPress…this might be a mistake.

Anyway, as we all found out in the middle of Saturday night/Sunday morning, the Los Angeles Lakers hired Mike D’Antoni to replace the very abruptly fired Mike Brown. As a fan, I didn’t even wanna see Mike Brown hired to begin with, but I digress. This came as a shock to the basketball world because everyone, and I mean fucking EVERYONE wanted to see Phil Jackson come back for one last stand alongside Kobe Bean Bryant in hopes of winning one more championship together. The fans of Laker Nation cried, yelled, chanted, and screamed in all caps on twitter for the return of Phil Jackson to the Lakers bench. They obviously didn’t get their wish.

After Mike D’Antoni got hired, Laker Nation was pissed. This I found hilarious. Why? Because hiring Phil Jackson would not have worked at all, yet hardly anyone understood this. They still don’t. “But Micah, Phil won 11 championships!!!!”

I don’t care. Phil Jackson won all those damn rings, sure. I’m not taking that away from him. But did we forget how he essentially mailed in his last season in Los Angeles?


(Say it witcha chest, lil ass nigga)

Ahh yes, the 2011 playoffs. The Lakers flat out sucked. It took 6 games to knock out the lowly New Orleans Hornets in the first round. Then in round 2, they were so full of struggle that in Game 3 Phil said to himself “Goddamnit I actually have to coach,” and went and punched Pau in his chest. Let’s be real here Phil ain’t stood up from the bench in 4 seasons. He’s used to letting his guys figure it out, and when they did, it was genius. However in this case, it just didn’t work out that way. I loved Phil Jackson, and consider him to be one of the greats but man…dude got lazy towards the end. It took the Lakers falling to 0-3 for him to finally do something about it. I’m sorry Phil, but I’m not looking for a coach to mail it in, not with this roster, and not with the way the top teams in the league are playing.

Also Laker fans, did you forget that Phil runs the triangle offense, which doesn’t fully maximize the skills of Steve Nash or Dwight Howard?

Let me break it down as simply as I can:

The triangle, or triple post offense requires players to space the floor and move the ball using passes and cuts. The “triangle” where the offense gets it’s name from is formed by the guard in the corner, a forward on the wing and the third on the low block. On the weak side, the other guard and forward from the two man game with the guard at the top of the key and the forward at the high post. This doesn’t require an advanced point guard like Steve Nash and essentially makes him a spot up shooter (think John Paxson, Steve Kerr, or most recently Derek Fisher). Also, the offense requires a center adept at playing with his back to the basket. Dwight Howard is getting better at this but by nature he’s a pick and roll big, so right now, it wouldn’t maximize the players we have.

This is where I took issue with those who kept on saying that Phil should have been hired. It’s like people don’t get that just because he won the Lakers some rings that does NOT mean he’s the right coach for this team as currently constructed. Steve Nash would have been reduced to a glorified Steve Kerr, yet as we all know, he is far too skilled to be reduced to a spot-up shooter. I’m sure the Lakers organization saw this and looked at what Mike D’Antoni was able to accomplish with Steve Nash and a bunch of roster fillers. So that’s why I believe he was hired over Phil Jackson (besides the Lakers not wanting to fulfill Jackson’s ridiculous ass requirements). D’Antoni’s system will have these Lakers scoring and scoring and scoring.


(For even more about how D’Antoni’s offense fits these Lakers)

Enough about offense though, let’s talk about this D (pause)..

This is the side that I’m sure you’re all so worried about with these Lakers. And guess what?! We’ll be just fine. When people think of Mike D’Antoni defensively they immediately go back to his Phoenix years and talk about the lack of defense those Suns teams had. The problem with that argument is that the best defensive player he could’ve possibly had on those teams was Shawn Marion…and that’s not saying a whole lot about the team’s defensive prowess. In contrast, during D’Antoni’s shortened second season in New York, his Knicks team was a top 5 defense, this improvement was largely due to the acquisition of Center Tyson Chandler. Now the Lakers haven’t acquired Tyson Chandler, but they have someone better, Dwight Howard. As a 3 time DPOY (Defensive Player of the Year). Dwight can EASILY do what Chandler did under D’Antoni as the anchor of this defense. Also keep in mind that Dwight isn’t even 100% yet and he’s established himself as a tough defensive force already. I’m not saying these Lakers will be a top 5 defense, but the potential is in place to at least be a decent defensive team. Whether or not they perform to that potential is all on the players.

Mike D’Antoni really isn’t gonna be that bad, but because he’s not Phil Jackson so I’m sure that when the Lakers hit a rough patch y’all will drag his name through the mud just like y’all did Mike Brown.

Just remember, not every system fits, and rings really don’t mean shit when we’re talking about present day sports. Just look at how hard it is to repeat a championship season.

Calm the fuck down and watch some basketball. This season is about to get real fun.

-Mercs out

(@mercs_808)