Thursday, June 18, 2015

D'Angelo Russell vs. Jahlil Okafor: Shaping the Lakers future

The Los Angeles Lakers face an identity crisis next Thursday.

With the #2 selection in the 2015 NBA Draft, the team is prepared to add a college star to their rebuilding efforts.  However, the question they must answer is a fairly new concept for rebuilding NBA teams: big or small?

If it was 2008, we wouldn't even be asking this question because you never pass up a big for a small. Remember Oden/Durant?

But it's 2015 now.  The Warriors just won a championship with Draymond Green at center.

So assuming Karl Anthony-Towns is gone, do the Lakers select Duke C Jahlil Okafor and hope he continues a long-standing history of dominant big men for the franchise?  Could he be the next Shaq, a center so dominant in the block that he changes the rest of the game for his teammates?

Or, do they look around the league and realize, in today's NBA, success can come quickly with a ball-dominant, high-IQ guard like Ohio State's D'Angelo Russell?  Is he the next Kobe? Is he the next James Harden?

That is one tough call.

What makes this choice so interesting to me is the Lakers recent history involving their style.  The team tried to embrace the "pace and space" era of the NBA with Mike D'Antoni, yet did so without ever properly surrounding him with the talent to run the system.  When the Lakers fired D'Antoni last summer, they went about as far away from that style of play as possible, bringing in Byron Scott, who spent most of the year trying to sell fans on the notion that three-pointers don't win championships.  Armed with that knowledge, one would assume the team would lean more towards Okafor over Russell, simply because of pace.

So, here we are one week out.

What will they do?

A lot of it depends on what the Lakers believe they can do in the free agent market over the next two summers.  If they feel good about getting a big like Marc Gasol, Greg Monroe or DeAndre Jordan, then they should probably take Russell.  If not, then how can you pass on Okafor's offensive skill, especially with the legacy of Hall of Fame big men that have passed through the organization?

If I have to guess, I would bet Okafor is too tempting to pass up.

The fact that this presents a real dilemma shows how quickly the league is changing and how teams like the Lakers have to question what they want to be, not only now, but also for the future as they try to build a competitive team in an ever-changing, evolving NBA.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I have full blown Linsanity. You're welcome, Dustin.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bulls turn to Doug Collins

Doug Collins?

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised.

I never truly believed the Bulls were serious about Mike D’Antoni as head coach. That would have meant handing the reigns to an outsider, someone who could potentially disagree with John Paxson and Jerry Reinsdorf. It didn’t sound like the Bulls I’ve come to know so well.

Doug Collins makes perfect sense. He’s a Reinsdorf guy. He and Pax will work perfectly together, since they probably have the same mindset when it comes to the roster and Collins is the guy Paxson reportedly wanted all along.

Personally, I don’t understand why the same guys keep getting recycled for these head coaching gigs. Why not take a flier on Kurt Rambis or Brian Shaw instead of a known commodity like Collins, who, by the way, hasn’t won a playoff series since 1989?

Perhaps that’s just the Lakers fan in me talking, but I’m curious to see how this plays out. I feel like the Bulls are two or three moves away from contending for a championship, and the hiring of Collins leads me to believe Paxson feels the same way. If he didn’t feel good about this team, he would have gone with a young, unproven coach who could grow with the roster.

Now, the next question the Bulls need to answer is what their roster will look like next season. If memory serves me correctly, Collins always talked up Luol Deng during TNT broadcasts. I bet he gets a contract, but I felt that way all along.

I’ll guess the next moves are Derrick Rose with the top pick, a Kirk Hinrich trade to Portland for expiring contracts, and the same problem the Bulls always seem to have: no go-to scorer.

Drafting Michael Beasley or trading the top pick would be too risky, and this organization tends to play it safe.

The Collins hiring feels like that to me. I should have seen it coming all along.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Skiles bounced

Only two things were going to bring me out of a 6-month NBA slumber: The Bulls imploding or Kobe being traded.

Since the latter is never going to happen and the former didn't seem real to me, especially since I've watched the Bulls get off to slow starts since Michael Jordan left, I guess I didn't feel the need to write.

But now, on Christmas Eve, the great John Paxson changed that for me.

Paxson fired Skiles today.

That's right. Today.


I guess it was Skiles who made no improvements to a roster that desperately still needs either a consistent low-post scorer (no, Aaron Gray doesn't count) or a go-to scorer who can take over a game late.

I guess it was Skiles who drafted Joakim Noah even though he does the same things as a healthy Ben Wallace.

I guess it was Skiles who signed Wallace to an absurd $60 million contract when everyone could see Wallace's numbers were declining each season.

I guess it was Skiles who let Tyson Chandler go when Wallace was signed, only to watch Chandler emerge as the player everyone hoped he would be once he arrived in New Orleans.

I guess it was Skiles who couldn't find a way to bring Pau Gasol, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant or anyone else to Chicago. And I guess it was Skiles who ruined Luol Deng and Ben Gordon by constantly involving them in trade rumors over the last two years.

Come to think of it, most of those things fall on the GM's shoulders.

Skiles isn't blame free in all of this.

Skiles can be blamed for a crappy offense, for being a red-ass who the players seem to have predictably tuned out, and for not really getting behind Tyrus Thomas this year.

But Skiles can't be blamed for the players' inability to shoot, for their sudden lack of heart and for the dearth of roster ineptitude his yet-to-be named replacement will inherit.

That falls on the players that John Paxson has assembled.

So, I'll ask again, when is John Paxson going to take the blame for what he has created in Chicago?

The honeymoon is clearly over now. Skiles is gone. Deng and Gordon could be next, and the team that Pax built is 9-16.

Skiles was certainly a part of the problem this season, but we're about to find out how much of this mess really was Scott Skiles fault. Maybe the Bulls only solved half of their problems this morning. Worse, they may have axed the wrong part of the problem.

Time will tell. Now, I'm going back on hiatus. Wake me when the playoffs start.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

NBA Draft Thoughts

Stay with us all night. We're back and we're excited for something NBA-related for once.

This Ray Allen to Boston trade doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me right now. I feel like there are a ton of moves still to come with these two teams. Jeff Green and Kevin Durant seem like pretty good replacements for Allen and Rashard Lewis if that's the route Seattle is going. Plus, that's a heck of a lot cheaper, which I'm sure has a lot to do with it.

Can Paul Pierce and Ray Allen win a title for Boston? Will they ever play together in Boston? My answer to both: not sure.

Here's the shock the night: Dick Vitale thinks Seattle fleeced Boston. Really Dickie V, you like the team that now has two top-5 college players from this past year? I didn't expect this of you.

OK, so the Bulls need one thing and one thing only to contend for a title: low-post scorer. So, obviously they take Joakim Noah, whose one weakness is OFFENSE. So predictable. Also, we now know that Eddy Curry= Tyrus Thomas, Joakim Noah and Michael Sweetney. I think Tim Thomas as well if I recall correctly. That seems about right to me.

If the Lakers take Josh McRoberts at #19, I may destroy something in my home. A trade for Jermaine O'Neal will also lead to smashing tonight.

Ric Bucher is reporting Zach Randolph, Dan Dickau, and Fred Jones from Portland to New York in exchange for Channing Frye and Steve Francis. Wow, I think Zeke just made a great trade. Is that possible? Strange deal for Portland. I know they want to give LaMarcus Aldridge more minutes, but Steve Francis? Another deal that I'm not sure I understand yet. I'll give that some time too, but right now I don't love that for the Blazers.

Alright, no McRoberts for the Lakers. Thank goodness. I don't know much about Crittendon, but he can't be worse than Smush Parker. Fine pick. Whatever.

The more that I think about that pick for the Lakers, the more I wonder if it's a piece for a big trade. The LA Times reported this morning that Los Angeles had an offer on the table for Theo Papaloukas, a point guard from Greece. With Jordan Farmar already on the roster, that's an awful lot of point guard help for a team that needs a big man too. Interesting.

Charlotte is reportedly trading the draft rights to Brandan Wright for Jason Richardson. Odd choice by the Bobcasts. Steven A. Smith just torched Michael Jordan. That was funny. Can we get MJ on the video phone to respond? Golden State makes a wonderful move here to get Wright. I think he's going to be special, and this is a good fit for his style of play.

On an aside, I think Detroit has done a nice job tonight getting Stuckey and Afflalo. Joe Dumars is good at what he does.

I'm starting to get excited that Glen "Big Baby" Davis is still on the board at pick 34. Can he possibly slip to the Lakers at 40? My guess is no, but I can hope.

Dammit, there goes Big Baby to Seattle, but really to Boston. That's a nice pick for Boston.

By the way, it's really nice of Henry Abbott to suspend his duties on True Hoop to announce these second round selections.

The Lakers take Sun Yue at #40. I think Kobe might re-think things now.

I'll be back when Garnett or Kobe gets traded. It's been fun.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Kobe wants out

This has really reached the point of silliness.

And who is to blame? Everyone.

Jim Buss, Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant, Jerry Buss, Mitch Kupchak, Shaquille O'Neal. I blame all of you. Four years of nonsense, and apparently this will never be over. Movies will be written. Day time soaps are scribbling ideas for the future as I type.

Kobe doesn't trust the organization, and frankly I can't say I completely blame him for that. After all, they promised him that they'd be competitive and then they wasted all of their cap space on Vladimir Radmanovic and re-signed Brian Cook inexplicably. The Lakers are a playoff team whose ceiling is reaching the second round of the playoffs. That's not going to be good enough for KB24.

However, from my point of view as fan, that doesn't mean you should go whining about it in the media. See, I'm torn when it comes to Kobe. The Lakers stood by him throughout his whole Colorado deal. That was some sideshow of a season, and the Lakers were on his side the entire way, from the same day flights to make tip time, to turning the other cheek when he shot them out of the Finals series against Detroit.

For me, it doesn't matter who forced Shaq out of town. I understand that Kobe is bent that a "Laker insider" threw him under the bus in the L.A. Times, but whether Jerry Buss was going to bring Shaq back isn't completely the point. Bryant and O'Neal couldn't find a way to co-exist, and as a fan for years, I believe that Bryant would have bailed on the Lakers if O'Neal had stayed. I might be wrong. That's how I see it from where I sit. He may not have asked for it directly, but he was asking for it for years indirectly.

So, Kobe wants to win. He wants to win NOW. He wants to be the guy. He wants to be in the Finals. That's great. I'd like the Lakers to win now too, but the fact of the matter is that they're not in a position to win NOW. Bryant makes a ton of money. The front office has made a ton of bad moves that are biting them right now (Caron Butler for Kwame Brown is the obvious one). Again, sucks for everyone.

The way Bryant has handled his media tour rubs me the wrong way as a Lakers fan. I would understand if he was adamant about the organization getting better, I'm with him when he says he'd like Jerry West back, I even agree with him that the Lakers have wronged him a bit over the last three days. However, to ask for a trade on the radio and then backpedal on another radio show all in the same day feels like someone who just wants some attention. There has to be a better way to handle this situation, and I won't be surprised if he flips back and forth a few more times before it's all over. Take a step back, be quiet, and talk to the organization that is on the hook to pay you $147 million.

After he talks to everyone in El Segundo, Bryant can ask for a trade if he wants. Hell, I'd even argue that the Lakers should consider moving him. It might work out for the best for all parties involved. I just don't want to hear about this every day. It's petty, it's silly, and it's quite frankly tiresome. Kobe made his bed one way or the other in Los Angeles, and now that he's not sleeping so well, he wants out. NOW. If only it was that easy. Who knows where this goes from here? Nothing will surprise me.