Mike D’Antoni resigns: Lakers fans rejoice

The Lakers will have a new coach in 2014-15. Mike D’Antoni resigned from the Lakers last Wednesday. D’Antoni coached the Lakers for the past two seasons. In those two years, D’Antoni went a subpar 62-82. This season the Lakers had their worst season in Franchise History under MDA at 27-55 and will have a top pick in the NBA Lottery draft. Every Lakers fan called for management to fire D’Antoni, however Mike made it easy on the franchise and fans by resigning from the team. D’Antoni signed a three year contract with the Lakers, but the Lakers had a team option for his fourth season. The coach wanted Lakers management to give him assurance that he would be back for his fourth season as Lakers head coach, but the Lakers would not cave in to his demands. Since the Lakers decided not to pick up his fourth year, D’Antoni decided to walk. The Lakers are now off the hook for the four million dollars that would have been owed to MDA next season under his three year 12 million dollar deal.

The Lakers are very fortunate that Mike D’Antoni resigned after this season and before the NBA draft and summer free agency period. Now that D’Antoni or “Pringles” (called by fans) is gone the Lakers will have great leverage in pursuing free agents to attract them to come play in LA for the Lakers. The Lakers will also be able to draft a possible future franchise player in the lottery whom they can groom to be the next heir apparent after Kobe Bryant retires. Most players and free agents did not want to play for MDA so the resigning of the former Lakers head coach comes as a blessing in disguise. Players like Carmelo Anthony had no intent to play for D’Antoni, now that MDA is gone, LA seems like a paradise destination. Dwight Howard left the Lakers after the 2012-13 season because he didn’t want to play for D’Antoni.

Pau Gasol also displayed his displeasure with D’Antoni this year as said that D’Antoni does not use him correctly in the offense. Gasol was leaning to leave the Lakers in free agency this summer, but now that MDA is gone, Gasol might return to the Lakers with Kobe and the gang. Gasol wants to win championships and he wants to play for a coach that he respects.

The Lakers will have the chance to draft highly touted NBA prospects such as Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Dante Exum, Julius Randle, and more. With the departure of D’Antoni they can rest assured that the Lakers are headed back into a winning culture once again.

Free Agents available this summer include Carmelo Anthony, Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, Zach Randolph etc. In 2015 Kevin Love will be available if the Lakers are to pursue him, and 2016 Kevin Durant.

Coaching candidates for the Lakers include both college and NBA coaches. The Lakers are planning to make runs at the big and small names such as George Karl, Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson (recently fired by GSW), Kevin Ollie, Tom Thibedeau, Byron Scott, and Derek Fisher.

After a very bleak 2013-14 season the Lakers are hoping to turn the ship around and once again be in contention for another title before Kobe retires. The Lakers mantra has always been to win championships and they plan to do that once again through the draft and free-agency.

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FARMAR TO THE RESCUE

 

The Lakers turned a meaningless game on Friday into a riveting win. A home game at Staples Center vs the Sacramento Kings, the Lakers at one point trailed by 15 points to the Kings in the second half. The win snapped a 3 game losing streak for the Lakers who now sit at 20-39 for the season and are among the worst teams in the NBA. If the NBA Lottery draft were today the Lakers would have a high probability of having a top 5 pick in the first round. The Kings are not looking good either as they share the same record at 20-39. Both teams are last in the Western Conference.

The Lakers who haven’t played defense all season certainly did not on Friday versus the Kings. The Lakers gave up 122 points but still won the ball game. The Lakers beat the Kings 126-122. The win was fueled by the sharpshooting of Jordan Farmar who scored a career high 30 points and went 8-10 from the 3 point arc. The Lakers also set a team record with 19 three point field goals made as they were 19-27 and shot 70% from beyond the arc. The Lakers as a team shot 60% from the field. Not only did Farmar have the magic touch but so did Jodie Meeks who was perfect from the field at 8-8. Marshon Brooks also had a stellar game as he scored 23 points which was more than the Kings bench. Brooks provided late crucial baskets to put the Kings away with the waning minutes in the fourth quarter. Kent Bazemore called Brooks a young Kobe after his performance on Friday. Bazemore added 12 points on 5-11 shooting. Wesley Johnson had a double double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Pau Gasol also had a strong game as he scored 22 points 5 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. This comes after he criticized Mike D’Antoni’s system. D’Antoni fired back saying that Lakers players should keep things in house. The irony is that D’Antoni went to the media earlier in the season and threw Pau under the bus.

The Lakers were so much on fire that there lack of defense and turnovers did not keep them from pulling off the comeback win. The Lakers pulled off a miraculous comeback on the shoulders of Farmar, and the late plays of Brooks. In a meaningless game this game was pure up and down back and forth barn burner until the end. The Lakers hope to continue their inspired play as they head out on the road. In a trying and difficult season, these types of wins are memorable and special for the fans. Real Lakers fans stick with their team no matter what. Lakers fans bleed purple and gold.

 

Not the personnel but the System (Mike D’less Antoni)

             Enough is enough. As a lifelong diehard Lakers fan I am utterly mortified and disappointed in this Lakers squad this season. With such a star studded cast of all stars, former MVPs and NBA Champions the Lakers have fallen flat on title aspirations and expectations. As a team the Lakers need to WAKE up. Flat is the perfect word to describe this team as it seems like almost every other game they come out lethargic and without any energy. A lot of people may say that the Lakers players themselves should be to blame, but I would disagree. The players are partially to blame for their losing record but the brunt (thanks Kobe for this word) of the blame should be toward the coaching staff and Lakers management. Mainly I would blame Jim Buss and Mike D’Antoni for this fiasco.

The problem for the Lakers the whole season has been defense. Mike Brown was supposedly a defensive genius but instead he focused all his intention on teaching them a read and react Princeton offense. So after merely 5 games at 1-4 Mike Brown got the boot. Here was the Lakers chance at a golden opportunity and a fresh start. Phil Jackson was handed to them on a silver platter and was ready to come back and coach the Lakers to another Championship Title. It would be the perfect fit for the Lakers and for the Zen Master. However the heir to the Lakers throne Jim Buss agreed with Mitch Kupchak that they would rather sign Mike D’Antoni instead of the 11x NBA Champion Phil Jackson. That would be fine but last time I checked Mike D’Antoni has never won a championship and his defensive philosophy is just that a philosophy. D’Antoni has never even been to the NBA Finals but apparently he must be a better choice the greatest coach who ever lived Phil Jackson. The Lakers personnel right now is even better suited for PJax and his Triangle Offense. With the 2 Big Men Gasol and Dwight Howard and the best passing point guard Steve Nash not to mention the BEST player in the NBA Kobe Bryant, this team was made for Phil Jackson to lead them to the NBA Finals Promised Land.  

                        Nothing personal against Mike D’Antoni, actually I like him as a guy he is quite easy going and funny in his interviews but he is not the right coach for this Lakers team. Mike D’Antoni will not adjust his system for his personnel and that has been a problem since he arrived in LA LA Land. How can you implement a run and gun offense with 2 7 footers and a bunch of veteran players. The personnel the Lakers have do not fit his system. A good coach would realize this and would adjust his system to fit with his players. Since joining the Lakers as head coach this season Mike D’Antoni is a measly 10-13 which is a .435 winning percentage. After winning 5 games in a row the Lakers are now on a 4 game losing skid. I have no idea what Mike D’Antoni is thinking when he feels that having Pau Gasol jack up long 3s is more useful than having one of the best post up big men in the POST. Gasol has played his whole career under the basket and has the best footwork and touch of any big man in the NBA. Instead D’Antoni has Howard in the paint and forcing contested hook shots. It is mind boggling that they call this guy an offensive genius. I think the person who gave the title of defensive guru to Mike Brown is the same one who called D’Antoni an offensive genius. If D’Antoni knew what he was doing he would put Gasol in the low post and Dwight Howard in the High Post up at the elbow and have D12 come off the screen and roll with Nash assisting. If the pick in roll is not there, then feed it down low to Gasol who has the skill and touch to finish down low. If the low post is defended then swing it to the wing and let the Black Mamba Kobe Bryant the Closer go to work. Also the Lakers need to let Steve Nash shoot the rock more. Yes he is the facilitator and gets everyone involved but he is a lethal knockdown shooter at 50% and 40% from 3 point land. Steve Nash must pull the trigger more for the Lakers to be effective because it certainly doesn’t look like we are getting any production from the bench and role players. Kobe is leading the league in scoring in his 17th season and is having his highest FG% efficiency of his career. The Lakers need to feed the Beast Dwight Howard more often as well but put him in winning situations. Dwight is most effective coming off the pick and pop with Nashty hitting him with the sweet dish. Mike D’Antoni needs to realize that it would be more effective to play a half court offense utilizing the Lakers size with their bigs rather than play a run and gun offense with older veteran players. Let the Lakers set up on offense and pound the ball down low or pick and roll with Nash to Howard. Even Iso for Kobe and good things will happen.

            The biggest problem for the Lakers has to be Defense. The Lakers rank 26th in points allowed giving up 100.6 points a game. That is a major problem. When you are handing out Free Tacos (Lakers home tradition joke) to the other team it is hard to win games. The transition defense of the Lakers is absolutely abysmal as other teams exploit the Lakers turnovers for easy fastbreak points with no Lakers getting back on defense. The Lakers are averaging 102.9 points a game which is 5th best overall but giving up 100 points means that it will be hard and almost impossible to win games on a nightly basis. The Lakers have the 3rd most turnovers a game with 15 and only force their opponents into 13 TOs. So with lack of defense the Lakers need to protect the basketball much better to limit transition points for their opponents. They say that defense wins championships well Mike D’Antoni has actually never heard this phrase or completely thrown it out the window altogether. For the Lakers to become a championship team let alone a playoff team they need to get COMMITTED to DEFENSE. A discipline to play team defense and rotating to help each other with take this team far. So far it looks like Mike D’less Antoni’s defensive strategy is paying off, that is not playing defense at all. This team needs to buckle down and bring the defensive intensity on every possession and let the defense create turnovers to enable the offense. If the Lakers could become a trapping defense and force contested shots consistently then this team could be really dangerous. Dwight Howard needs to be the anchor on defense by blocking and altering shots and switching for other teammates when in need. Kobe Bryant is the leader of this team and he needs to preach that defense is key and everything else will take care of itself. As long as the Lakers are committed to playing tough defense, rotating, creating contested shots, rebounding, and forcing turnovers then they can turn this season around and become a lethal contender. However if the Lakers remain with this nonchalant attitude when it comes to defense and not playing hard then the rest of the season will be an utter downfall.

            I still believe that the Lakers can turn this season around and become playoff contenders and hopefully a championship caliber team. The main focus has to be a commitment to defense and Mike D’Antoni adjusting his offense to cater to the players that he has. D’Antoni cannot force his players to adjust to his system but he needs to change his system to accommodate to his players. The Lakers must play every game from here on out as if it were Game 7 of the NBA Finals because they have dug such a hole for themselves that hunger, will, desperation, and intensity will only help to get them out of it. The Lakers are 15-19 right now and need roughly 48 wins to make the playoffs. Right now the Lakers need to go 34-15 in their last 49 games to play.  

                        Please pick up the intensity, will and desire-

 

-Signed a Concerned Lakers Fan!

             

All He Does is Lin

Linning, Linsanity, Lincredible, All he does is Lin, Linning Streak, Linfamous, BalLin these are all adjectives used to describe New York Knicks point guard the Asian Sensation Jeremy Lin. Lin has became the new Tim Tebow. The popularity of Lin has grown so fast that he has transformed from the nerdy girl to the popular hott cheerleader. There are some players that are naturally more gifted, more athletic, and just flat out better athletes, but like Tebow, Lin has risen to the occasion and has taken full advantage of maybe his last chance at success. Tebow and Lin are not the best athletes but there is one thing I know for sure is they both know how to win. They may not be the most talented but their hardwork, determination, and will have helped them to win and succeed in the highest level of professional competition. The great thing about Lin as well as Tebow is that they both are humble men and they give credit to their Lord Jesus as well as their teammates and coaches. Give honor to whom honor is due, and that’s exactly what Tebow and Lin express with their play and conduct on and off the field.

After Lin torched by beloved Lakers for 38 points on 10-13 shooting I knew this kid became the real deal. Jeremy is BalLin, in the last 5 games he has averaged 26.8ppg, 8 apg, 4.2rpg, and 2 steals per game. The Asian sensation is on a winning Streak and can’t be stopped. Lin has led the Knicks to a 5 game Linning streak in his first 5 starts of his career as point guard for the New York Knicks. On the biggest stage NY and playing in MSG (Madison Square Garden) Lin has played some of the best basketball of any player this year. To overshadow Kobe Bryant in MSG is Lincredulous that just does NOT happen. Kobe had a great night by all means scoring 34 points and 10 rebounds getting a double-double, but some how Lin blew up to score 38 points and lead his team to a victory in MSG where the Lakers have owned them going 9-0 for the last 5 years. For Jeremy Lin’s first 5 games as a starter he scored 25 against the Nets, 28 vs. the Jazz, 23 and 10 reb against Washington, 38 against the Lakers, and 20 against the Minnesota Timberwolves. With the absence of Carmelo Anthony (injured groin) and Amare Stoudemire (death of brother) Lin has done the Greg Jennings and put the team on his back doh! Lin has found the right system with Mike D’Antoni, run and gun, pick and roll offense and he has ran with his new opportunity to shine on one of the biggest stages in sports.

Lin has literally blown up the Twitter world as well with his name Trending throughout the day, he has became an overnight sensation, and he now gives hope to all of those Asian kids playing basketball through out the world.  Jeremy Lin’s roots start out as a college player at Harvard University. I know what you’re thinking. Harvard? Yes Harvard. Lin was not recruited heavily out of high school and the only schools that showed interest in him were Harvard and Brown University. Lin chose to attend Harvard without an athletic scholarship and merely as a regular student who also played basketball almost like a walk-on. Most college coaches overlooked Lin and said that he could not play basketball well at a higher level. Former Cornell head coach now at Boston College, Phil Donahue assessed the play of Lin by saying, “But he didn’t look that athletic, and he didn’t shoot it all that well. Even after his freshman year at Harvard, you didn’t give it a second thought that we made a mistake.” The fact is that every major college overlooked Lin. The same thing happened to Lin in the NBA draft. Honestly nobody in their right minds examines the draft board and takes a second look at an Ivy League player from Harvard, especially an Asian point guard. So like his college recruitment no NBA teams thought Lin was worth drafting. In the 2010 NBA draft Jeremy Lin did not hear his name called from the 60 other names.

However Lin was able to get invited to the NBA summer league where he posted decent enough numbers (9.8 pts, 3.2 rpg, 1.8 apg) to capture a contract from the Golden State Warriors. With the Warriors he played in 29 games (no starts) and averaged 2.6 ppg, 1.2 rpg, and 1.4 apg. The Warriors eventually cut Lin after his unimpressive resume at Golden State. The Houston Rockets were up next as they offered Jeremy Lin a contract. The Rockets claimed Lin off waivers and assigned him to their D-league (minors) where he was cut once again to clear room for the signing of 7 foot Center Samuel Dalembert. On December 27th 2011, Lin’s future started to change; he was picked up by the New York Knicks off waivers. If you told me this same Lin would become a starter and average over 26 points per game with the Knicks in 5 starts and score 38 points against the Lakers I would say there is no way in Hell! Hell would literally have to freeze over for this kid to start let alone post 26+ ppg. That is exactly what happened, Hell froze and Linsanity took over. It is Linsane how fast Lin has grown in popularity but it is more Lincredible how fast he has acclimated himself to the pro game in such a short time. His play during his last 5 starts has been nothing short of a Tim Tebow 4th quarter miracle win. For a guy that was not recruited and also undrafted to have this kind of success especially in the NBA is almost unheard of let alone nearly impossible for the fact he is of the Asian decent. We have never seen an Asian point guard play in the NBA let alone score big points and lead his team to consecutive victories. In Lin’s first 4 starts he has scored 109 points which is the most of any player surpassing that of Allen Iverson, Shaq, and Michael Jordan.

Lin’s upside and potential is great, and I do think he can flat out ball, he has the shot and the quickness as well as the decision making to be a great point guard in this league. The fact is that he has only played 5 games and all without Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire. Do I think his numbers will increase when both Melo and Amare get back? Absolutely. How could they not? Amare and Melo are both superstars who demand the ball to be in their hands. Melo needs to dominate the ball by bringing it up and driving to the hoop. Melo creates his own shots, and Amare needs his touches as well. The concern is more for how will Melo and Lin play together. No question that Lin can run the pick and roll with Amare all day or feed the big man down low like the glory days of D’Antoni’ Suns with Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire. But the fact is Carmelo demands the ball in his hands and he is not the player to have a shot created for him. Carmelo will not come off of down screens and catch and shoot. That is not who he is. Instead Melo is a point forward similar to Lebron and he loves to dribble drive and penetrate to the hoop. So how can a scoring yet unselfish point guard like Lin and Carmelo exist? Virtually they cannot. The only solution would be for Melo not to bring up the ball and not have as many touches in the game. For Melo and Lin and the Knicks to be effective, Melo needs to learn to play without the ball and post up as well as roll off back screens created for him like Ray Allen does in Boston. I think Melo and Lin will be most effective if Melo can learn the post up like Kobe Bryant did a few years back and score on smaller defenders without bringing the ball up in the front court. Melo can utilize that turn around jumper with his post game or take it strong to the rack. That is the only way that Melo and Lin can survive together. Then again you forget about Amare Stoudemire. Amare needs the ball in the post as well. So it is inevitable that Lin’s numbers especially points will drop down. I think that when the big 3 (Amare, Lin, and Melo) and Chandler are all on the court at the same time that Lin will increase in assists but his points will take a severe hit. Forecasting Lin to be averaging 12ppg with 9apg and 5rp. Still good numbers but a significant decrease from his 26 ppg right now.

Lin is very fortunate and he reiterates the fact in his interviews as he thanks God for his new found opportunity with the Knicks. J-Lin has found the perfect system with D’Antoni that fits him exactly. The pick and roll offense along with the run and gun nature high tempo is exactly the type of offense that has helped Jeremy succeed. If Lin was in a different system lets say the half-court set he might not have the same results that he has now. It truly has been Linsanity the way he has played these last 5 games but when you hear people say that he is better than Kobe you must tell them to pump their breaks. Kobe Bryant is an all-time great, 5x NBA Champion, 2x Finals MVP, 2x Scoring Champion, 2x Finals MVP, 1 regular season MVP; and Jeremy Lin essentially has only had 5 career starts but put up some impressive numbers. Jeremy Lin’s career is so short you cannot compare him really to anybody. Yes he is really good, but no, he is not anything near the level of greatness of Kobe Bryant. To say that Jeremy Lin upstaged Kobe is ridiculous. He scored more than Kobe at MSG which nobody does, but it is also 1 game and in that same game Kobe had no help from Bynum and his bench was non-existent yet Kobe still scored 34 points and 10 boards. So please no more comparisons between Lin and Kobe or Lin and any other player. Let Lin be Lin. Lin is a unique talent to the NBA and he is something the NBA has never seen before. He is an Asian American point guard leading the Knicks in scoring and wins.

Will the Linning Streak continue? Will Linsanity remain? I think so, but when Melo and Amare come back Lin’s points will drop quite a bit but his well rounded game will stay in tact. The good thing about Lin is that he is unselfish and does not need to score unlike his teammates Carmelo and Amare. Lin will be a true point guard and as he will facilitate to Melo and his bigs (Amare & Chandler). All I can say so far is that what Jeremy has done in his first 5 starts is truly Linsanity!