Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t the point of firing Mike Brown at the beginning of the season to salvage this year? You know, to maybe make something out of dropping more dough on MORE superstars?
How’s that going, L.A.?
Mike D’Antoni has been awful. Worse than awful. I’d call it a train wreck, but a train wreck would imply at some point the locomotive gained some speed. That’s not the case here. D’Antoni inherited a flat-lining squad and did little more than begin digging the six-foot hole in the ground.
Tonight’s game against the Grizzlies marks the start of the second half to the Lakers’ season and things don’t look grim, they look worse. Grim was before they lost 9 of their last 11. Now, before February, the purple and gold are starting to circle the drain earlier than they have in a very, very long time.
Los Angeles isn’t just on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff picture, there are three teams ahead of them. Yes, they’re as close to the bottom of the conference as they are to making the cut.
And even if you make the cut, it’s not like it means anything. The NBA playoff format is a joke. More teams make it in then don’t and every year the vast majority of series in the first round are embarrassingly one-sided. If the playoffs began today, the two #8 seeds would be a combined 42-41.
It’s the definition of mediocrity and it’s where the Lakers can only WISH they were.
So what’s behind all the L’s? Kobe’s theory is that they’re “old as s—”. As insightful as that is, that’s not the problem.
The problem is the coaching. But don’t get confused: I’m not blaming D’Antoni. Okay, I am blaming him, but only marginally. 99% of the blame rests on Jim Buss. When Mike Brown was fired, everyone — literally EVERYONE — could see that it was time to bring Phil Jackson back. But like the passive-aggressive, immature brat Jim Buss is, he passed on Jackson for D’Antoni.
The fact that D’Antoni himself was surprised to get the call should’ve been the first sign of trouble. I’m not an executive vice president, but I know when I offer a guy a job and he says, “Really? You’re not taking the other guy?” that I’ve made a mistake.
Buss’ endorsement that D’Antoni was the right guy for the job is hilarious because now the criticism is that D’Antoni’s offense isn’t working. In other words, the problem is he’s NOT the right guy for the job. And we all could’ve told you that from day one.
A lot of people criticize D’Antoni’s unwillingness to tailor his methods more to what the team needs. That’s fine and dandy, but it’s not like D’Antoni hid what he had in store for the Lakers. The organization knew how he coached when they hired him. If you believe Jim Buss, it’s WHY D’Antoni got the job. Why the hell should he change?
That’s why D’Antoni receives only a very, very small part of the blame here. Jim Buss let personal feuds get in the way of making the right decision and now the entire franchise, from the fans to the front office, have to suffer the consequences. Buss isn’t just selfish, he’s not doing his job. Literally.
I get that Buss has personal reservations against Phil Jackson, but as an executive vice president, he’s a decision maker. His job description quite literally is to make executive decisions that will benefit the team. So, no, it’s not that D’Antoni or even Mike Brown, for that matter, weren’t doing their jobs, it’s that Jim Buss wasn’t doing his.
And, consequently, he should be the one that’s out of one as soon as possible.
Of course, that won’t happen. That won’t happen this season and it won’t happen after. Why? Well the reason he won’t get fired during this season is simple: Los Angeles can’t make any more administrative changes this season because it would be a public admission that they botched the coaching change earlier in the year and the Lakers aren’t about to do that. After the season is also equally obvious, the Lakers are a family business and they’re not going to change that for anything.
But the family is soon to expand. Jeanie Buss, Jim’s sister, is engaged to Phil Jackson. Yes, you heard that right: the guy Jim snubbed for the head coach vacancy for personal reasons is about to become his brother-in-law.
It’s the kind of stuff that might just make the Lohans look semi-normal by comparison.
The point I’m trying to make is that, when it comes to the Lakers, even if you narrow it down to just one problem, the solution to that problem is blocked by a series of other problems. Imagine the whole thing like a tangle extension cord. It might all by tied up by one big knot, but there are several other knots in and amongst it practically ensuring you can’t untangle that knot.
That’s my more elegant metaphor. The other one I have for you is that the situation is just one big clusterf—. The Lakers are spending stupendous amounts of money on premium talent, and they’re letting it all go to waste because of internal strife within the organization.
Last year was supposedly a failure because they lost to the team that eventually represented their conference in the Finals. What does that make this season, where they’re currently seven games under .500 and have only won 5 games on the road?
It’s a good thing the Lakers play in the city of angels, because it’s going to take one hell of a miracle to turn this thing around.
NOTE: This story was originally published on SportsHead. To read this article and others click here.
When Bryan isn’t writing, he is on Twitter! Make sure to give him a follow @bclienesch for NBA updates and other shenanigans!