Written by forum member Vinsane.
With another week in the books we take a look at the week that was in the NBA…
Only in La La Land…
It was only a matter of days after my last rant that the firing of Mike Brown happened. What a strange turn of events the Los Angeles Lakers have provided us this past week.
First, the organization comes out backing their coach. Mike Brown had a “vote of confidence” from the Front Office. Apparently that vote didn’t get counted and Mike was quickly out the door in place of what many thought was going to be the return of the “Zen Master” Phil Jackson.
Second, the Lakers Front Office teased the media and it’s fans with talk of Phil’s return. Meanwhile, the team would pick up it’s second win of the season and first under interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff. This led many to believe that the problems with the Lakers were not because of Mike Brown’s Princeton offense but, Mike Brown himself.
Before we go onto the eventual hiring of Mike D’Antoni. Lets take a moment to speculate on what really happened with Mike Brown and Phil Jackson. It is my belief that Kobe never backed Brown. Kobe played along having learned a valuable lesson when he himself and Phil Jackson butted heads in the media. That wasn’t the kind of attention the Lakers needed and Kobe played all the right cards to make sure it wasn’t a further distraction.
Need further proof of players not wanting to be the distraction? Dwight Howard even admitted to the media that he learned a lesson last year with the talks of his dislike for coach Stan Van Gundy in Orlando. Dwight opted not to commit thus ending his reign as “Dwightmare” and perhaps returning to Superman form?
Meanwhile, the front office knowing full well they were going to fire Brown? Jumped through media hoops as well to make sure that Mike wasn’t ousted like he was in Cleveland. That he could leave the organization with a little bit of dignity and his head held high. Even if it comes at the cost of confusion amongst the leagues writers and media. Give Mike the support in public, fire him behind doors, move on before anyone questions “Why?”.
Then thirdly, the real curve ball of the week was the hiring of Mike D’Antoni over Phil Jackson.
This is where I have to pause and give credit to the Buss family and to GM Mitch Kupchak. In this day of age it’s hard to find cold, calculated moves by a front office outside of Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Buss family and Kupchak proved over the past week how much they value control and the decision making process involving their team.
The whole organization took a really “ballsy” move by throwing Phil away for D’Antoni. And they did so to maintain their thumb on the pulse of the team. Something that no one saw coming. I for one have to applaud the front office for taking the less popular move in hiring D’Antoni over 11 time NBA champion coach Phil Jackson.
Phil made the mistake of asking for too much. No team beats down Phil Jackson’s door to offer him the front office. He’s a coach. He’s always been a coach. And until someone gives him a chance to GM and run the franchise from the top of the mountain? He’ll always be a coach. Phil wanted control, Phil wanted the decision making. What Phil got was jack and shit courtesy of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Blame who you want if you’d rather have Phil Jackson over Mike D’Antoni but, the fact remains that the Lakers made their decision based on the “good of the team”. Even if that good means that the Buss family remains in charge and Kupchak continues to handle the GM responsibilities. Now, all that’s left for the Lakers to do is move forward and implement the Mike D’Antoni system.
The Move Forward…
All the talk since the hiring of Mike D’Antoni has been just exactly how is he going to fix the Lakers? Many have wondered if he’ll change his style? Or if this roster is even built to run the “7 seconds or less” offense? Those questions will be answered in time but, what I think we’ll see is a new hybrid of Mike’s system.
He’s had a familiarity with each of the key players on this roster. He helped Steve Nash capture two straight MVP awards during his time in Phoenix. And as a member of the U.S. Men’s Coaching Staff has worked with Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant as well. The players will know what to expect of their coach and the coach will know what to expect of his players. That’s a start that Mike Brown never got in Los Angeles.
Other talk that has been dominating the NBA landscape is the defensive end of the ball for D’Antoni. Defense has never been a staple of his game plan however, his defenses were not sieves like many would have you believe. At best D’Antoni’s defenses ranked amongst the top half of the league. With players like Gasol and Howard it’s a safe assumption that the Lakers defense could finish as high as a top ten in statistical categories come seasons end.
Of course it’s all speculation and the D’Antoni era will not begin until later in the week. Interim Coach Bernie Bickerstaff (2-0) will handle the team’s game tonight against the West’s best San Antonio Spurs in Los Angeles (10:30 PM ET/NBATV). D’Antoni will join the team as early as shoot around on Thursday and could be on the sidelines as early as Friday when the Los Angeles Lakers host the Phoenix Suns.
In case you missed it?
Look out Ray Allen, Paul Millsap is in the hunt for “prettiest shot in the game”.
The 3OT thriller last night in Toronto was one of the most entertaining basketball games of the season. Which probably isn’t saying much considering how young this season still is. However, the game was fun to watch and despite both team’s best efforts? Wasn’t an easy one to win.
Millsap has really improved his game in now what is his 7th season in the league. Adding serious range to his game and working on his mechanics he has one of the best releases. While he may not be challenging Allen for the three point record anytime soon he’s defiantly put forth some real effort in draining shots from the outside.
Millsap shot 3-4 from the three point line last night hitting big shots for the Jazz to either keep them in the game, or to take a lead. While the Raptors kept the Jazz against the ropes for most of the game? Utah took blow for blow and somehow managed to push this thing to the finish line and the win.
While one game a good season does not make? The Jazz will be tested as they continue their road trip Wednesday @ Boston, Friday @ Philadelphia and Saturday @ Washington.
We could really learn a lot about this Jazz team during the next week which should provide plenty to rant about.