Better Luke Now Than Later.

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SPQR
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We have our new coach, Luke Walton.

I don't think too many are sad to see Byron Scott leave. The team was historically awful under his charge. Was it all his fault? Probably not, but he was the head man and some culpability falls his way.

After Scott's departure GM Mitch Kupchak said there would be a long search populated by many names in order to find the right man for the job after several years of mediocre choices. And there were many good choices out there, including Spurs heir apparent Ettore Messina who was interviewed.

But they could have saved Messina the plane ride because it is very apparent that other candidates were a dog and pony show and the Lakers had only one guy on their list: Walton. This was proven out by his very quick hire.

The hire didn't surprise me. It was the popular, logical choice. Luke played for the Lakers and is a southern California boy. Hand in glove one might say.

A year ago Luke wasn't really on anyone's top five list for head coaching vacancies. But circumstances changed with Kerr's injury and Luke's elevation to interim coach in Kerr's absence.

Then something funny happened to change his and Lakers destiny. The kid coached the NBA champions to an amazing 39-4 record giving them impetus to the historic record best season of 73-9.

Suddenly Luke was a prime candidate for any vacant head coaching job. While Walton received kudos for the job he did by most pundits, some said anyone could have coached that team to a great record. What is the truth? Probably something in between. What he did was impressive but it also would have a taken a misfit of the highest order to mess that team up with the players they have and system that they know by rote.

It is from here on in that Luke will show what he has a coach, starting with a Lakers team that has some nice young pieces but is far behind the eight ball in the very rugged Western Conference.

Some fans may have wished for another coach besides Walton although i suspect the vast majority are pleased. I don't have a problem with it. I did not want some old retread going on his third or fourth or fifth head coaching job. This is a young team with miles to go and I wanted a younger, energetic coach to learn and grow with them. Walton fits that bill.

There was another path that could been followed by both Luke and Lakers. Fortunately that did not happen. There was talk the Lakers were debating whether to let Scott play out his full contract option. Walton also received advice from some, including his father Bill to remain at Golden State for another year or two.

I thought Bill's advice short sighted and specious. When you get a chance to take the big chair in any sport, you take it. There are precious few head coaching jobs in pro sports and if you refuse one, you never when, if ever, another will come along. Walton was wise to eschew this bad advice and make his move to the top.

If Luke had taken this advice and the Lakers had decided to keep Scott another year it would have delayed what needed to be done. It would have then devolved into a position of the Lakers, the groom, waiting another year or two for Luke, the preferred bride. If things had played out that way, Luke could have been our coach, just further down the road. Not an optimum situation for the team to be in for a lot of reasons including the development of your young players who we hope will be our next stars.

There is another important reason why it was better to get Luke now rather than a year or two later. I have no doubt Jeanie Buss is scheming for the day when she can bring her mummified lover, Phil Jackson, here to become GM or as a grey eminence with some other title to run the team.

In the race of who got here first, it was paramount Luke won and here is why: If Luke had delayed and Jackson got here ahead of him, with the title and powers he will have - not to mention his extortionist 12 million a year salary - he would have been in a position to tell Luke to run his beloved triangle offense - which takes seven years for veterans to learn and only wins rings when guys like Jordan, Rodman, Pipen, Shaq, Kobe and Gasol are there - if offered the head coaching job, just as he demands of it of his Knick head coaches.

With Luke beating the ossified Jackson and his ego here, the youngster now has a chance to install his own methods, his own system, his own philosophy, to carve his own imprimatur into this young team instead of trying to please antiquated, inflexible Jackson.

If Luke can get a couple of Jackson free years here, show he knows his stuff, build strong relationships with the players and starts to make palpable improvements with the team on the court and in the record, even if Phil drags his carcass across the country one last time to LA he will not be in a position to tell Luke what to do or what schemes to run.

And that can make all the difference in the world for Luke, the Lakers and us fans.

Walton has already said the triangle is not the offense he wants to run here. For me, that was great news.

I hope to never have to see Phil involved with this team again. He is the past in the NBA, just like Jordan, Kobe, Chuck Daly, Red Auerbach and others who have come, had their day and gone.

Unlike Pat Riley, he has not earned his spurs as a successful front office boss nor does he allow his coaches to do things their way. He demands his forever obsession with the triangle go on and on no matter what circumstance.

But if Jeanie and Phil do get their way, the effects can be mitigated if Walton has created an atmosphere here where even Phil can't touch him upon his dreaded arrival.

That would be the absolute best case scenario if we have to live with Phil yet again.


userpete1037
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Nice post SPQR. Only time will tell how things work but I believe we've bottomed out so now things can only get better....I hope.


SPQR
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Pete,

Thanks and agreed. We really can't get any lower. I'm excited about the hire. Hope Luke really learned some good things at Golden State. He had the rep of being a smart player.

I thought his peremptory statement dismissing the triangle here was a great sign of his independence and confidence.

I am also estatic that he beat Phil here for the reasons I stated.

Now it's up to him and the kids to start moving things in the right direction and earning some good reputations and respect for themselves.


Tempy
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What's your source for Messina being interviewed?

They got permission to but from everything I have read the only person to get interviewed was Luke.

http://basketball.realgm.com/wiretap/24 ... ith-Walton


SPQR
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Tempy,

I thought I read it. Now that you mention it you are right that they only got as far as asking permission.

Which would show even more that Mitch was just blowing smoke about an in depth search with lots of candidates, which I certainly did read after Scott got the axe.

There were never other candidates unless Luke declined.

To slightly warp with a different name a famous quote of Michael Corleones, "It was you Luke. It was you all along."

And let's hope Luke doesn't turn out to be a Fredo.


userpete1037
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If they give him the freedom to succeed or fail then I'm good with it. It can't be Jimmy and Mitch behind the scenes pulling strings. They need to concentrate on getting talent and let Luke mold this team.


Tempy
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That's exactly how I see it. I'm not disappointed in Luke, he needs time to grow just like Stevens. My disappointment is in the rush to appoint him.

In regards to your initial post, the PJ link really scares me. I hope it's just media smoke. If he comes in and the Lakers are still not winning many games, which is very likely, he can justify making Luke move to the triangle. I hope Luke would have the balls to just quit rather than cede to those demands.


LALA-LandShow24
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About a week ago I was listening to sports talk radio and there was a player (who played for Phil) in the triangle system and he was very much a supporter, saying it was a good system and it would work but the payers had to buy in. He also mentioned how GSW actually run some of the Triangle concepts with the way they move the ball and personnel placement.

Lakers running a pure triangle or Princeton offense is not the best. Lakers need to run a system tailored to the players but with the components that are most effective; from P&R to the Traingle. Hopefully Luke has his own philosophy in that sense. We don't have the pesonnel GSW has so I don't want to see Luke try to implement that entire "system".


MemphisLakerToni
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Hi SPQR,

I am so happy that Luke got the job.

I did not want any retread coaches

I really don't want to see Phil in LA at all

I want to keep our top 3 pick and go forward strong from there

I believe that in the way Golden State has a versatile team that Luke will look to copy that point.

Ye there is only 1 Curry but everyone on the warriors can play in different sceneries.


MAGICLAKEZ
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That was John Salley I believe.


LALA-LandShow24
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Yep. You are correct. lol. I could not remember the name. Thanks.


SPQR
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Tempy,

I agree with you %100 that Mitch abrogated his position as GM with the Luke hire. In fact I find your remarks so interesting and so correct I am going to post a thread about that exact subject. I hope you post there.

Hey Toni,

Great to see you posting! Luke was one of those on my short list. But like Tempy, I think a real coaching search should have been performed. It is alarming that it was not.

I don't ever want to see Phil in LA basketball again. But I suspect we will. Jeanie wants it and Phil wants it. If Jeanie ever pulls off her coup we will get it.

Let's hope that ping pong ball comes up our way. To go through the season we had and not get that pick will be a huge setback for the future of this team in my view.

Pete,

Agreed about letting Luke succeed or hang on his own. That's why I was so glad we got a coach in place before Phil returned. Then it would be the Phil Jackson show. Let's hope Jim and Mitch just let him alone.


gemfow
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I'm also glad Luke said what he said about the triangle not being the right fit for the team that's in place. I hope Luke enjoys success since it would be that much more difficult for Phil to come into town with his religion of Trianglianity.

It was good to see a coaching search that didn't include things like, Will Kobe buy in?, Will Kobe respect him, How will Kobe be featured?, etc... They went after the guy they wanted and they made it happen. This is one of the few times I've been truly excited about this team. If we can get the first or second pick in the draft then this is a successful offseason. If we can get rid of Young then I know this is heaven.


userpete1037
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SPQR,

So are you saying you think PJ will return?....lol.


userpete1037
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Yeah he forgot to say you need a MJ/Pippen or Shaq/Kobe to complete the triangle....lol.


userpete1037
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For some reason players or people like him that weren't that talented but have to learn the X's and O's and pay attention to detail, usually turn out to be good coaches because of that. Now only time will tell but we have it...lol!!!!


SPQR
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Pete,

Who me?

Gem,

You cracked me up with that will Kobe buy in. It wouldn't surprise me if by reflex Mitch started dialing Kobes number before he called Luke. Pavlovs dog and all.


userpete1037
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Lol...Just checking.


Shepherd
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Hahaha, tell us what you really think about Phil SPQ LOL. Some good strong words chosen there. And for the record I was calling for Phil and the triangle's removal a cple years before he left. After Tex was gone it was never as effective. Phil only worked if Tex was there to explain it all. Once gone the system collapsed imo. I knew then it was finished, teams knew how to crack it. And it wasn't working anymore. I would be happy also to see Phil not return, but as has been postulated, it could happen if Jeannie gets her way and her pops come back to town.

As for choosing Luke I've been luke warm (haha) on that choice. I think like many it was rushed. I also think like many I could have coached GS within that system and with that talent on cruise control. But then what do I know. Funny how a brief fling, with no longer term proof of success or competence, can suddenly vault a guy to the top of the coaching stratosphere. It was risky and probably premature on both parts. Time will tell if it was worthy gamble or another bust and another 3 years of lottery picks.


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