Do Kupchak & Buss Have a Plan After All?

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PurpleKnight
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When Kupchak & Company put together this squad over the summer, my first thoughts were that they were in scramble mode after failing to land Dwight Howard. It seemed like they were just filling roster spots. Putting a Band-Aid on a very old washed-up yet one-time back to back Championship team.

I mean who are these guys? Jordan Hill? Xavier Henry? Wesley Johnson? Nick Young? Jordan Farmar? These were heralded college stars but in the association nobody wanted them. They were all considered busts. But to most of our chagrin Kupchak & Company welcomed them with open arms into Laker Nation. Did we become the old Al Davis' Raiders all of the sudden? Picking up players nobody else wants then turning them into Champions?

I know that it's way too early to make any predictions. But Kobe is coming back. And this team is playing some solid ball. Not to mention that Gasol has found his wings lately. I absolutely love the way they look for each other, but more important, the energy on defense is fantastic!

Maybe it's time to give Buss, Kupchak & Company a little credit. Maybe they have a plan afterall. Gary Vitti said earlier when the season started that this team had the best chemistry of any team he has been around for the past 20+ years. That's a huge compliment for a bunch of "nobody's".

We are not more talented than last years team. But we are playing as a team. Does that mean that we are better than last years squad? My eyes say yes. Chemistry is extremely important in winning games and especially in the playoffs. The playoffs are hard fought 7 game battles. And when you go into battle with a group of people you got to be able to trust eachother. And last year we just didn't trust one another. You can tell that this years squad truly does like eachother. And you got to give it up to Kupchak, Buss & D'Antoni for putting such a team together on such a tight budget. And more importantly they did all this while keeping the 2014 plan still intact.

And for once I can actually give D'Antoni some credit. If we lose this year it won't be his fault. It will be from lack of talent. But not lack of his coaching abilities. He's actually making some great rotations this year. He's starting the right players. And having the right players come off the bench.

Watching such a tight-knit unit play is fun. We might not win a Championship. But I will enjoy watching them this season a whole lot more than last season. This team is likeable and easy to root for. And I'm on board for the ride as far as they can take us.

Shepherd
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Or maybe we should wait and see. A few decent games against injured or sub par opponents is fine but nothing to get too excited about and start proclaiming Mitch the messiah. I'm all for the idea. Just think we ought to wait a while to decide. Rather than ride a yo yo of emotions u and down, hating Mitch one day, praising him the next etc. Let see what they're doing in a few weeks.

lake24show
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I could not agree more with you. Before this season began and Kobe not starting the season I didn't forsee myself being too interested in watching every game. However I've been hooked on this time since the preseason. The potential is huge if we can continue to build around these younger players. I was a little worried at the beginning of the year with some of the rotations D'Antoni was putting together but he finally got it together and has the right people in. I honestly hope that Nash doesn't end up coming back. I'd like to see him waived or traded somehow because the way Farmar and Blake have been playing I don't want to see their minutes get cut because of Nash coming back. And where in the world has this Jodie Meeks come from? He's been playing great these last 4-5 games.

lake24show
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Shepherd wrote:
Or maybe we should wait and see. A few decent games against injured or sub par opponents is fine but nothing to get too excited about and start proclaiming Mitch the messiah. I'm all for the idea. Just think we ought to wait a while to decide. Rather than ride a yo yo of emotions u and down, hating Mitch one day, praising him the next etc. Let see what they're doing in a few weeks.

Either way what they've done with this team they put together and still having the cap space next year has been huge.

JonSnow
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Actually Meeks has been playing well since game 1.

KBLO-24_7
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Lakers have the third highest SoS to start the year. I said it al l alone there was no tank. People ignored the obvious, they wanted youth and athleticism. Well you have multiple first round talents 27 and under all playing their hearts out, playing at a top league pace, shooting the 3 ball elite, and forging the best offensive rebounding team in the nba. They were never going to tank. They had a mold and got a cats of characters all on one year deals playing for their livelihood because they want to be in the nba and want to be lakers. They are rehearsing for the next act which comes when la takes this group to the playoffs, let the dice roll, see who will stay, and add them to a star free agent and all. The wiggins, Randell, Parker was fluff. Its always been right there. Wes was a lotto pick who never found his niche and who've they tried to teach to be a poor mans Marion. X a lotto pick who honestly got hurt as a rookie and lost all confidence but has the body and instincts to contribute. Hill was a lotto pick who has faced injury problems, but was always one of the top board minute per minute in the league. Williams was a first round pick who has only found a niche once under Pringles as a spread four who hit the three and hustles by doing all the little things on D. Farmar was a first round pick who got experience on championship teams leading second units, got to play on lotto teams competing against Deron, and then went overseas to learn some more. Young was another first round pick who people get on but it's no different than Jamal Crawford, hell he was....

TheInfamous55
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Exactly why I feel the Lakers should ride it out this season... chemistry. Most of us agree here that there is nobody we can get via trade that will make a significant impact, let alone without fitting in seamlessly. We still wait to see how Kobe will fit back into the fold. Doesn't these wins feel good when they win as a whole, instead of one guy doing it all? Championship bound or not, it's been refreshing to see this type of basketball in where they play the game the way it was intended - as a team. This season's layout for the Lakers gives the FO an honest and unique perspective in what direction they will steer this ship. With everyone on short to expiring contracts, Mitch and Jim (Laker drama organ playing) will determine if Danphoni has what it takes to lead this team to prosperity and they also have total flexibility on the roster for the offseason. Flexibility in not having to compromise due to contractual commitment is huge going into an offseason. For the anti-Danphoni, this is kind of scary because the vision of Jim (Laker drama organ playing) is coming into fruition. Almost as if they were just one piece away from rings. Entertain the thought if they did get LeBron; re-signed Kobe and Pau on paycuts; kept our core young and athletic pieces (Hill, Johnson, Farmar etc.) and play this type of ball that they have been as of late? OMG. Hold on to some of that cap for 2015 and maybe flip Pau for pieces and get K. Love or maybe upgrade the guard position with Kyrie? Yea, it looks to good to be true and too early in the season to tell. Has the Pau of old returned? Seems as if he has because....

LakerDymes
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I've always said that jimbo wasn't as bad as people make him out to be. I mean he got Dwight Howard for a broken down bynum. That was the right move. And let's not forget that he got cp3 until stern vetoed the trade. If that trade would have gone down bynum for Dwight Howard was next. I'm sure a cp3,Howard and kobe would have worked better than Dwight and kobe did solo.

Let's just be happy that Jim buss isn't a Jerry Jones type of owner who micromanages everything and ruins the team.

gemfow
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Personally, I wouldn't necessarily call the results(so-far) this season a plan. The Lakers' plan has been cap-space for this off-season so they can make a run at a star/superstar. Their plan was to build around Dwight Howard, a power forward with superb athleticism but he's so limited offensively that he has to play center. The Lakers dodged a pretty big bullet with that one because once the athleticism fades I don't feel he can be like Kobe and change/morph his game. Time will show what happens with Dwight but a 18pt,12rb,3 block guy is not a max player if you can't go into him during those crucial moments but, that was their plan, build around him. Now moving forward after their plan A failed. I think they started scrambling. It looks like their plan B is not what's going on during this season(results) but rather to keep the cap space and bring in a few guys. I think realistically they know they can't get a superstar/star to LA. I still hope they don't land Melo, a guy who just scores is not impressive to me. I don't feel them putting together this team was necessarily their plan. It's going pretty well so far about 13 games in but this being the plan I just don't buy it. Their plan seems to be after this season. I've enjoyed watching team ball on this team. I've enjoyed seeing point guards able to actually run an offense. I haven't seen this in LA for ages,lol. Most other Laker fans haven't seen this either, guys are actually moving and cutting because the point guard is running the offense and it hasn't been a whole bunch of isolation sets, thank God. The guy who gets isolations is Nick Young off the bench and he's been hitting so....

LakerZip
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We all have to admit that it surprised the crap out of each and every one of us. Last year was SOOOOO bad, after the PJ fiasco, and our ultra high expectations with Howard and Nash, which both turned out to be a bust. Then, Howard left the team, and Nash got injured. But somehow, these guys have bonded - maybe it is because of their not being wanted elsewhere. I love to see it. Farmar is the guy I love to watch. Used to root for him on his first tour, and still love to see him work. He has grown tremendously, and now, with people to cut and jump for the ball, and light speed (yeah, that's you Young, and Henry), and others who can hit the 3. Wow! Another remarkable feature of the Lakers this year is their lack of turnovers. They are handling the ball really well. We could use some more free throws though. They are too busy jumping and shooting to run through the crowd and get fouled. As long as their shots fall, we're golden. The season started out very slow and uncertain. But they are picking up momentum. Now, if Kobe can come back and distribute the ball, we may have a winner. I still think we are very weak in the middle (other than Pau, who is playing unbelievable right now), but we've got a shot. Defensively, this team is not what any of us expected. They are getting much better, and apparently they are really working on it in practice. They are picking the opposition's pockets with fast hands and the ability to jump to the ceiling in Staples! We will know that this team is real when they....

bradb
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Sooo I don't have enough rep votes to post a new topic but..... This just came up on my Twitter. The LA Lakers have agreed to terms on a contract extension with KOBE BRYANT!! So excited!!

Kannaps
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It was never in doubt that a plan existed, just not the best one and even if it is the best one (which I don't believe) it's coming a bit too late. It was and is clear that the plan still remains to go all out in the next two free agent markets, like it was expected before the season started. It was also obvious that most signings for this year would be either 1-year rentals or 1-year-and-we'll-see contracts. Playing in LA is a lot of pressure. If these players come in with few milleage, few expectations and labeled as underachievers, the better, especially if they are young and playing for a place in the association. It is beneficial to the team in numerous aspects. ▪ You try out a lot of young players with potential at zero risk longterm with a possible high reward shorterm. ▪ If you decide to keep anyone of these players after this season, none of them will command double digits before the first coma in their contract per year. ▪ They all fit the coaches playing style. ▪ Players like Henry,Johnson and Nick Young are getting their first real chance with significant playing time and all of them plus the others are playing for a contract beyond this season which is thrice the motivation. ▪ They will be, coupled with the fast pace of D'Antoni, entertaining to watch, so if you don't win, you still put fans behind the screen and in the seats. ▪ Plus, if all else goes wrong, you still end up with a clear cap for next season and with a high lottery pick. Although at times, many of these players have showed more promised than some (including me) expected from them, many of us are getting way ahead of ourselves in the praise of this team. Some of the points I....

Axle
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I am disappointed on your post PurpleKnight where you describe these players as nobodies, no talent in them. WOW! Just because other teams could not find a spot for them does not mean they are not talented. Some of these players were drafted in the first round. So I really believe that Mitch and his scouts have been looking for this type of talent that has not been exposed by the teams that originally drafted them for some reason or another. Maybe it was just a financial move in their case or maybe these young guys wanted to play for a Laker organization and taking the minimum hoping that the Laker front office will be impressed with their talents and give them a raise in the future and resigning them.

I do not know what you meant by the description you gave. What did you expect the Lakers to sign nothing but top name players? Players like LeBron, Melo, C Paul, George, etc etc.

Lets not call this guys nobodies. Lets be proud of the talent this guys have, and they have been showing it in my opinion.

LALayup
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If any of these guys carve out a spot long term in the NBA then the moves made last summer are successful. But honestly the Lakers may have made the right move with two or three of these guys.

But as KBLO-24_7 mentioned above, it shouldn't be a huge surprise if some of them pan out to be good players. After all, a few were pegged to be lottery pick superstars in the league just like the lottery picks of this coming year and beyond. You simply cannot predict how good a high school or college player is definitely going to be in the NBA, regardless of how good an athlete he looks to be at the moment. Also, you cannot easily determine how long it will take before a great athlete such as Wesley Johnson will take before he gets himself on solid ground and with the right team to make his splash.

PurpleKnight
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Axle my friend. No need to be disappointed. I think that if you read my post again, you will realize that "I" never called them nobodies. The term nobodies was used by me in "quotations" sarcastically making fun of those teams that viewed them as busts. I've actually followed Jordan Farmar, Xavier Henry, Wesley Johnson, Nick Young etc.. since college. And I've liked their game. So I am NOT dissing these guys at all. But in saying that, I never thought that this team would be so close. Usually chemistry takes a while to form. But these guys have all jelled since training camp. My post was more to the fans who have dogged the leaders of our great franchise since Jerry Buss' death. I thought that Jimmy & Mitch needed a little credit for putting a team together that likes each other. And fights for each other. And boy are they fun to watch!

BaadMaster
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Let me add one factor that Kannaps overlooked in his prescient and excellent post.

The Regular Season...

I have always theorized that most NBA teams lollygag in the regular season and play at about an 80% effort rate, save for the occasional "statement" games. Now every player on every team was at one time a college superstar. So, if you can motivate them to play at playoff intensity -- say 95% -- they can put up a pretty good regular season record. If you have a team with some stars on it and they play at this 95%, they can win tons of regular season games.

What happens is that when the playoffs arrive, this "All Effort" team meets teams that match them in effort as they ramp up to 95%, are fresher for having played easier in the regular season and have superior talent. Exit the "All Effort" team. Which is exactly what happened to D'Antoni's Suns and will happen with his current squad.

The thing that bothers me is that this is the exact OPPOSITE of Phil's teams. They coasted in the regular season (remember all the LTB posts about how lazy the Pau title teams were in the regular season?) and saved up their 95-100% effort for the playoffs.

So, it becomes a tradeoff. It is either a lazy regular season team laden with talent, with a coach, Phil, who only cared about the post season or a "regular season" coach like D'Antoni where the less-talented team plays hard every night, wins a lot, then flames out in the playoffs. It seems to be one or the other.

And it appears to me, Jim Buss wants the latter.

As for me, I prefer the former.

gemfow
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This lakers plan consisted of scrambling after Howard shunned their contract offer, thank God he left. They were about overpay Howard like they are overpaying Nash.

I thought their plan resembled getting role players together first and then adding bigger talent afterwards. After the Kobe contract, I clearly see that's not it. The season that some of these guys are having will make it difficult for the Lakers to include a max level guy and resign these guys. A majority of these guys are on one year contracts. What other teams can't use a guy like Meeks? A Farmar? And so on?

Kannaps
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Baad, Yeah, it didn't occur to me at the time, but it's actually pretty well observed and true. Good point. And yes, D'Antoni is a regular season coach and that's why he has a COTY award and things like that. It's also the reason why he is often hauled as being a good coach even when so many of his flaws are so evident even to the casual fan, but when you play an eye catching style that reflect on falsely positive stats along with a 65-70 win record, one weighs more than the other. I do view it a little different though. Most teams or perhaps most title contending teams increase their effort exponentially as the season progress with small increments in their play by the holiday season, allstar break and postseason start. Of course a lot of this is connected to coaching, modifications and roster changes having time to either gel or improve. Phil's teams, where almost always title contending teams, I cannot really say that apart from a couple of years in Phoenix,D'antonis really were. In our case, this is also very connected to the pace we play and the style of play. Like other coaches such as George Karl or Don Nelson the style of play will eventually fizzle out in the postseason even if you have the best record in the conference or are at least a home court advantage team. Living by a jumpshooting philosophy you don't try to hide your flaws as well as maximize your opponents oportunities to hide theirs, plus even if your team is superb beyond the arc and midrange spots, some nights they will not fall and your are even more depend on all the little things and of course burnout is increased not only physically like you mention but also mentally. The 3 point shot....

BaadMaster
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Once again, Kannaps, you are right on the money. My instincts are that Jim Buss wants an "under the cap" team that wins in the regular season in an exciting way. For economic reasons, it might be more cost effective just to lose in the first or second round of the post season and not go over the cap. Remember, he needs to please TWC -- and an exciting, young fastbreak team, even without any title hopes, can drive ratings up over the regular season. And I do not think TWC televises the playoffs -- that's ESPN and TNT or something....

Kannaps
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Baad, Good post again but perhaps i'm being a bit naive, but the Time Warner thing is where we disagree. I guess they might try and exert some pressure on the Lakers ownership, but that'll ultimately fall on deaf ears. The Lakers signed a multi-year deal for that value that doesn't have an opt out clause or a team option like an NBA players contract, they are stuck with us no matter what. Besides TWC get their money's worth even if we turn out to be a bottomed out lottery team, due to the fact that not only are the Lakers one of the top franchises in the league that attract viewership in every possible situation, but also they are a very marketable product and thus TWC will get revenues from publicity and other things that come along with the airtime the games themselves get. The ownership is still sovereign over their franchises' future, no TV deal will cut out your flexibility. What I do believe and here I agree with you is that Jim unlike Dr. Jerry Buss, has a bigger passion for money making than love for the sport. Jerry Buss was a fan first and an owner second, that's why he went to incridible lenghts to have this team succeed and didn't care about how much money would come out of his own pockets to do so. Jimbo on the other hand, i'm not so sure. Not only this, but him not being an adept of the sport and not being that close to the day by day makes him overstep on the GM's heels and on his turn make bad sports decisions. This is also why I believe he chose D'Antoni over Phil, along with a bit of vendetta for him and Jeannie along the way, almost like a bit of....

Lauren
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When was the last time someone thought about the longevity of something in basketball?!

Kannaps
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Well, I'd say pretty much all the time since forever... When you tank a season, when you give out a contract for a determinate amount of time, when you re-seign a player/let one go. By hiring a coaching staff, by drafting a determinate player/position. By planning ahead for a certain free agent class or draft class, by trading for or shipping away expiring contracts, aging or younger players. When you evaluate the timeframe you can keep a core of players togheter and how far they can take your franchise, by deciding upon the right moves at the right time, how long can complementary pieces be held and help that core. Which player options, team options, ETAs and qualifying offers can the FO give out or will the player accept. When you calculate ahead of how much many will be needed for a future contract or a rookie will command for staying. When players think about preventing injuries, the way they play and behave themselves on&off the court.When they eveluate the risks in their injuries, how to keep their bodies fit in the wieght room and through diet. When players think about the length of the contract they are going to accept and in opposition the length of the contract a front office presents. Even when you stack a player in the D-League or keep an european talent overseas you are thinking about longetivity. When the Spurs constantly balance between getting the right FA's for the right money along with the smartest draft talent possible constantly making them a contender for more than a decade now. When OKC planned to clear out all their cap to bottom out at get Westbrook,Durant and Harden in anticipation. When Boston just did the same. When we made all our contracts end this year except for Kobe/Nash and when Miami did the same 4 years back and....

Lauren
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I feel like I'm constantly having to defend Pau to everyone...what the heck!? Give him a bit.

Lauren
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Kannaps, a nice dissection. I think you said it all.


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