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Phil Jackson: Exit interview

When a coach's season adds a tenth ring to the collection and gooses an already gaudy winning percentage, his exit meeting tends to prompt little in the way of "What were you thinking when you did _____?"  Such was the case with Phil Jackson's.  No huge need to question coaching decisions, the rotation or approaches, because the end result is difficult to debate.  Instead, Phil was mostly asked to clarify certain issues (health, free agency) or simply reflect on the championship run.   So peaceful a mood that it wouldn't have weird for PJ to end the session by cranking up a Grateful Dead bootleg and "spinning" his way out of the room, rickety hips and all.  

Actually, that would have been totally weird, but still pretty cool. 

First, Phil addressed questions about his health, which appears to be the only potential road block in a return next season. He's feeling good, but issues flared up during road trips that require evaluations. No decisions has been made yet, to the best of my knowledge.   Assuming PJ is in the pink and returns, he'd certainly like Trevor Ariza and Lamar Odom in the mix. Ever the optimist, Jackson sees this scenario as feasible, if not necessarily pain-free.

"I'm convinced we can get both of these guys back to play. Obviously, it's going to take sacrifice on many parts. Dr. Buss is not going to be able to do without having to make sacrifices at some level. We have to make sacrifices in other places in our organization to make room for their salaries. (Ariza and Odom) probably have to sacrifice something in the process if they want to come back. Nobody can eat their cake and have it both, in their situation. But it's possible to do it."

By the way, I've never heard that particular phrasing of "Have your cake and eat it, too."  Zen Master needs to call the trademark folks ASAP just in case it sweeps the nation, ala Riles and "Threepeat."

Speaking of "Threepeat," does this team have what it takes to give back-to-back-to-back a whirl?  Jackson didn't rule it out.   "Age-wise, it certainly favors this team. The team that did it in Chicago was an older team and the team that did it here in the first part of the decade was an older team than this team, so..."

Obviously, the cause gets helped if the roster remains intact, which raises the question of Kobe's ability to opt out for a new deal and whether he'd consider taking less money to ease Br. Buss' payroll.  PJ just touched upon the "sacrifice" theme, so I asked if he'd encourage it from Kobe.  Phil acknowledged that opportunity in 24's hands, but said he'd simply advise Kobe to do what's best for him without advocating a specific approach. There is, however, one favor he'll ask of Bryant: Being a relentless nag.

"I do want him to actively pursue and actively encourage these guys to come back, which he will."

It's fair to wonder why Phil even wants another go at this. What inspires a coach with ten titles and a bank account featuring quite the impressive string of zeros?  Not the easy, breezy ride, that's for sure. "It is a long, arduous grind," admitted Jackson.  Preseason, regular season and postseason games. Highs and lows, plus a fair share of aggravation. But if you're fortunate enough to emerge the last man standing, the reward for a coach who guided his players towards pure elation is beyond measure.

"It's a moment that's inspirational, and as a coach that gives you everything that you want. That's the feeling that you yearn to see your players have, that intimate desire to play together. To play with each other and for each other."

After revealing how the champagne bath felt ("cold"), Phil answered BK's question about "signposts" indicating a championship could be in the works.  Specific clues stood out during the series against Houston (Jordan Farmar picking up the ball for a suspended Derek Fisher in Game 3, winning Game 7) and Denver (properly executing "ideas and concepts" during Games 5 and 6, which carried into the Finals). PJ also dismissed the frequent accusations of inconsistent effort.

"It's not about playing hard. It's about playing without confusion. They want to play hard, but sometimes they don't know how to get it accomplished because they're confused If you have to think and play at times, that limits your physical output."

Throughout the season, I got the very distinct sense that Phil had a soft spot for this team.  That he regarded them with a fair amount of affection.  My instinct was correct, and that affection is easily understood.   There's the "long standing relationship" between PJ, Kobe and Derek Fisher, veteran players praised by Jackson as great captains and leaders, each in his own unique way.  Phil considers Pau Gasol "as intelligent and as skilled a basketball player for a big man as I've ever coached." (And that includes personal fave Bill Cartwright and a certain Twitter addict.)  From there, the supporting cast fell into line and forged a goal that centered around unity and purpose.

"From that standpoint, I was very pleased with these guys. From the moment we stood in that locker room on (Media) Day... their desire was to win this championship, regardless of how we get it accomplished and how much we have to sacrifice to do it. And that's the best thing a coach can hear."

Previous Exit Interviews:

AK

 
Comments () | Archives (39)

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Why would Phil come back?

1) He's a basketball junkie. It has been his life. If he walks away now, at this age, it would tough to come back. Walking away this time could be final, it is a big decision. Why not go one more year, if his health is there?

2) He has a young championship team with a chance to repeat. For Phil that is a huge draw. Andif he walks away from this team and wants to coach again later, it would be hard to get this good of a situation.

3) I think he genuinely likes this group of players.

4) He makes good money and gets his ego fed.

5) Jeannie Buss.

Part of Phil would love to walk away now, but I think that his love of the game and the quality of this team will bring him back.

This is the easiest his job has ever been. In Chicago he battled the front office. last time around in LA there was Shaq-Kobe. This time he has a good realtionship with Kupchak and relatively little locker room drama to deal with.

I say, health permitting, he comes back two more times, shooting for a dozen rings, then heads to Montana.

More than anything Phil's attitude toward this team proves that clearly they really did get along and all the warm fuzzy stuff is obviously genuine.For all the talk of effort and bad attitudes it seems clear they impressed him from day one...no easy task i'm sure

Phil to haters: "SUCK IT!"

I think he'll come back for one more season, and then if they still win it all he'll walk away.

My parents always said that getting old is not for the faint of heart, and with the grueling schedule, etc... it just might end up not being worth it in order to have a good quality of life when you have the time to enjoy it.

When he was on Kimmel he walked like everything on his body hurt. It was painful to watch.

GO LAKERS!

Anyone know?

What kind of contracts are Lamar’s and Trevor’s? What I mean is, do we have Larry Bird rights on both guys? Or do we at least have early Bird rights on Trevor?

Because Trevor had at least a 3 year deal (one in Orlando, 2 in LA) he and Lamar should both fall under the Bird rights.

“To qualify as a Bird free agent, a player must have played three seasons without being waived or changing teams as a free agent. This means a player can obtain "Bird rights" by playing under three one-year contracts, a single contract of at least three years, or any combination thereof. It also means that when a player is traded, his Bird rights are traded with him, and his new team can use the Bird exception to re-sign him. Bird-exception contracts can be up to six years in length.”

So Kobe doesn’t have to take a pay cut top keep the team intact, because we can exceed the cap when re-signing Lamar and Trevor. But Buss does have to pay up. He’ll have to deal with the luxury tax which may add up to 10-15 extra million when it’s all said and done. What price a championship? We just can’t add players via trade now, without restrictions. This is what the rules say:

NBA rules stipulate that a team over the salary cap cannot add payroll exceeding 125% plus $100,000 of the salary that they are trading away. Under this formula, a team over the salary cap that trades a $5 million player CAN receive one or more players whose salary is no more than $6.35 million in return.

That’s not bad. A smart GM like Mitch should still be able to make trades with relative ease. And, we’ll still be able to sign at least out 1st round draft pick.

This from Wiki:

“Rokie exception: The CBA allows teams to sign their 1st-round draft choices to rookie "scale" contracts even if their payroll exceeds the cap.”

Wes

You can't have your cake and eat it from both ends.

You can't have your cake and eat it from both ends.
Posted by: exhelodrvr | June 23, 2009 at 09:30 AM

No, but can I have your cake and eat it from both ends?

Known around the office as the "Lakers guy," lately I like just smugly saying nothing when the topic of hoops comes up.

Also, in a better world, none of us would know who TJ Simers is.

LakerTom,

you wrote: Fortunately for the Lakers, they have a guy who knows how to negotiate and make his points while not disrespecting the other party. I have complete confidence in Mitch to handle our offseason issues in a totally professional manner.

my response: agreed.

you wrote: yes, there will be a discussion with every player in play this summer about how the team needs sacrifice from everybody – owners and players – in order to keep this team intact and our dynasty alive.

my response: please explain how Pau must sacrifice
in order to keep this team intact.

you wrote: I believe every Lakers player, including Kobe, is ready to join Dr. Buss in sacrificing to keep this great team together. I doubt we will see any friction at all during the process.

my response: That's GREAT! Tell Lamar to take 6 mil
per year, and then the Lakers can pay Ariza 6 mil per
year and we'll be under what we were 2008-2009.
Lamar will show that he really wants to stay in LA.
Ariza will get paid for his awesome contribution. Life
will be wonderful in LA.

BTW, you haven't addressed the fact that both Ariza
& Lamar qualify as "Bird free agents". Dr. Buss can pay
them whatever he wants. So please explain to me why
Kobe has to take a pay cut, so that the Lakers don't pay
the luxury tax?

Or are you saying that Dr. Buss gets to strong-arm Kobe?
via: " Look, Kobe. I'm not paying a luxury tax, so if you
want to win another championship, you *NEED* to give
up 5 mil per year, so I can continue to make my 25 mil
per year off of your splendind MVP back. My MVP!
Come 'on! Show the doctor some love. Give it up Kobe.
Give up the CASH! "

The D,

"Also, in a better world, none of us would know who TJ Simers is."

This is true.

Jim Murray cries in Heaven every time a T.J. Simers article is posted.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

Tom Daniels,

I liked and agree with your analysis.

I think Phil is going for a dozen rings.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

Speaking of Cakes...

"Recipe For Lakers Dynasty Cake--Non-Kwame Flavored"

1. Bring back Trevor, Lamar, and Shannon.

2. Shannon and Farmar develop significantly as players.

3. Andrew Bynum plays at a higher level than last year before injury.

4. Adam Morrison and Sasha Vujacic can be relied upon as solid contributors.

5. Mitch Kupchak makes a "better than expected" draft choice.

6. Phil Jackson returns as coach.

Bake in the oven over 82 regular season games and stampede through Finals against the Cleveland Cavs and an "over-the-hill" Shaquille O'Neal who is consistently outplayed by Andrew Bynum.

Ice with Kobe Bryant having five rings and Shaq having four rings in seven attempts.

Delicious.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

I haven't posted in a LONG time but wanted to see some opinions about the Spurs trading for Richard Jefferson and giving up NOTHING...We're still a better squad as long as we bring Ariza, and LO back but I think they may have just taken a step towards being our opponents in the WCFs next season

Jon K has a point of several guys working together to make the Lakers salaries work out for the best.

But, i'm a firm believer its best to have an agent talk for you. It keeps the emotions out of the negotiations and perhaps limits pride from taking hold.

But if you want Kobe to take less for the good of the team, it has to have conditions attached.

Will it lead to Ariza, Brown, and LO all coming back aboard?

Everyone would have to sacrifice or it won't work as Lakers Tom said.

To do that, there would have be concensus like Jon K brought out.

Will it happen? Not sure because Kobe said clearly he wouldn't opt out and that needs to happen first, no?

In this economy, and this new tax code where the rich will be hit hard. Kobe may not want to take such a pay cut, even if it might look good on the PR side.

hobbitmage -

"Or are you saying that Dr. Buss gets to strong-arm Kobe? via: " Look, Kobe. I'm not paying a luxury tax, so if you want to win another championship, you *NEED* to give up 5 mil per year, so I can continue to make my 25 mil
per year off of your splendind MVP back. My MVP!
Come 'on! Show the doctor some love. Give it up Kobe.
Give up the CASH! "

HILARIOUS! and so true.

arguments that look at what Kobe makes while ignoring (or being ignorant of) what the Laker franchise makes I find unconvincing.

doug
Posted by: hobbitmage | June 23, 2009 at 09:55 AM

Man, if this isn't all pointing to Kobe's willingness to sacrifice some cash if he wants to win rings in '10 and '11, then I don't know what could. I think the best player in the NBA, and one of the best of all time, will do the right thing...like Magic (and others) did before him. Give up some cash, get back some championships. Or not. I love Kobe, but that's what this is about.

Just caught up reading the messages and here's my take on some prevailing issues

KUPCHAK OR KUPCAKES

I don't understand why there is so much overwhelming support for mitch. Maybe winning a ring vindicates him to an extent but let's not forget his BAD moves still far outnumber the good. During his entire tenure I can only think of a few number of good moves he made and his biggest and most monumental move was gasol but wasn't he basically handed to him on a silver platter courtesy of jerry west? ariza I do give him credit cause it was a miracle anyone took brian cook. But for five years i've been begging him to surround kobe with some REAL ATHLETES and his list of pickups consisting mostly of nonathletic stiffs speaks for itself: cook walton sasha kwame smush (the list goes on)

Its not a coincidence that ariza and brown were the first real athletes on their roster and they won a ring a year or after. Regarding shannon I also wo der if he was just an afterthought to match salaries or if mitch really wanted him

Unlike AK and most mitch supporters I would hold judgment for at least another year or two cause now he will really be put to the test. I can also argue that had not mitch been our gm maybe lakers win a ring a lot earlier. I don't know if I can ever forgive him for wasting kobes prime years and surrounding kobe with a starting lineup of SMUSH WALTON KWAME with COOK on the bench.

I won't even get into his BAD MOVES cause I don't have all day but kwame for caron?? And resigning walton sasha and vlade may still come back to bite us big unless he can get rid of 15 MILLION OF DEAD WEIGHT. Bottom line u take away the LUCKY gasol trade and lakers never win, kobe opts out and kupchak gets a FAIL.


KIDD AS POINT GUARD

Not sure if he'd fit the triangle or fit our needs. Kobe needs an outside perimeter threat more than a playmaker. His defense is also below average and it woulnt address one of our biggest weaknesses. NO WAY!


KOBE OPT OUT

U guys can slice this any way you want with dumb luxury tax examples but until anyone can prove buss will be losing money u are really asking kobe to give up money that will really go into the pockets of the BUSS FAMILY TRUST. You argue that its the noble thing to do but that's completely farce and hypocritical because NONE OF U are in his shoes and would ever do the same

Phred, you asked in the last thread if anyone knew where you got your name. Frankly, I'm concerned that someone who crawled through rice paddies in the Plain of Jars in order to become a revolutionary leader could come off as being so needy. It's like I'm having one of my occasional acid flashbacks. I think I'm going to go bowling, just to clear my mind after your needy request.

PS--you also just made every single member of the Little Lebowski Urban Achievers cry

I heard from Jalen Rose that the Lakers can defer Kobe's payments for like 10 years instead of 5 or 6..That way he still gets all his money..Do you think he would do that?

Where or when is the Andrew Bynum Interview? Is there one and if not why not? I would like to hear his take on the season and the future.

Jack

AK,

The expression "Have your cake and eat it too" is as "old as dirt". It's origin lies in the southwest/southern regions of the U. S. and is one of many such colloquialisms abounding in that part of the country.

"You can have your cake and throw it too, though."
-Kwame Brown

Houston Laker,

I've obviously heard the expression, "Have your cake and eat it, too." But like I said, I've never heard it tweaked Phil's particular way.

Laker North,

You're right. We forgot Bynum. I'll look to fix that ASAP, if possible.

AK

Onamon & LakerTom,

One last question: Can anybody remember MJ taking a
pay cut for the team?

Along those lines, I found this:

``We didn't have enough money under the cap to pick up Terry's contract without Magic giving up a substantial amount of his own salary,'' West said. Under league rules, teams cannot exceed $11.8 million per year in total player salaries.

FYI, he gave up b/n 100k & 250k. This would be less
than 10%. LakerTom & others have Kobe giving up
20 - 30% of his salary.
This was in 1990. I don't think that Magic could do today,
what he did then if he were still playing.

Weave-man

"I haven't posted in a LONG time but wanted to see some opinions about the Spurs trading for Richard Jefferson and giving up NOTHING."

This is an opportunity to trade Luke Wlaton to Spurs and get rid of his contract. I heard Walton and Jefferson played well together.

Spurs is a passing team, Walton should fit very well.

Minus injury on Spurs, Duncan, Manu, Tony, Jefferson and maybe Walton should make them West contenders easy. Nobody in the West has their experience winninng a championship.

If they can add another 7 footer or a healthy Sean May, they can beat the Lakers.

THINKING ABOUT PHIL…

The Lakers’ chances of repeating as NBA Champions next year could hinge more upon the return of Phil Jackson as head coach than the re-signing of Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza. Lakers fans need to keep their fingers crossed that the medical tests Phil is undergoing will give him enough confidence in his health to return for the last year of his existing contract. If Phil decides that his health won’t allow him to return, the Lakers will be in a very tough situation, forced to hire a replacement for the greatest coach in the history of the NBA. The only positive in the situation is that we likely won’t have to pay the next coach $12M.

This dilemma should provide a sobering counter to the championship and dynastic euphoria surrounding the purple and gold because having to replace Phil also raises the tricky issue of whether or not the Lakers would continue to run Tex Winter’s Triangle Offense, which also will figure heavily in the decision as to whether to promote an assistant coach or to go outside of the organization for a new coach, who would likely not want to run the Triangle. No doubt, Mitch and Jerry Buss will need to start talking and planning more actively for the inevitable transition from Phil Jackson to a new coach. And that is sobering news.

So, who are the candidates outside of the organization that the Lakers might consider? There are the usual suspects – Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson, Doug Collins, Byron Scott – but do any of these guys look like the right guy to keep this Lakers juggernaut going? Not to me. What about a college coach like Mike Krzyzewski or Ben Howland? Again, highly unlikely that Coach K or any top-notch NCAA coach would want to risk jumping to the NBA where the players rule and make more than the coaches. Nor does it seem likely that the Lakers would want to risk turning over the coaching duties to an NBA neophyte.

Looking at all the options, I am inclined at this point to think that the Lakers will likely choose their next head coach from within the organization. In fact, by promoting one of their assistant coaches and designating him as Phil’s successor the Lakers could even have the new “Assistant Head Coach” handle some of the road trips to make it easier on Phil. The likely candidates from the ranks of assistant coaches are obviously Kurt Rambis and Brian Shaw. The fact that Rambis turned down the Sacramento Kings coaching job when offered to him recently adds credence to the idea that he may be in line to succeed Phil.

Of course, Kurt’s problem, or any coach who takes over the Lakers job, is that he will be following in the footsteps of the greatest coach in NBA history. Designating Kurt or even Brian Shaw as Phil’s successor would give the Lakers a chance to test drive their new coach by having him do a few road trips without Phil. In fact, I could even see a scenario where Phil moved up into the front office as the team’s coaching guru to provide continuity. How is he going to continue his relationship with Jeanie if he moves back to Montana?

No matter what, imagining the Lakers without Phil Jackson at the helm brings forth lots of uneasy scenarios. He has become such a vital part of the Lakers success that it is going to definitely be very painful and perhaps extremely difficult to replace him. I do like the idea of having an assistant take over and continuing to run the Triangle Offense, which is what this team was built to do. But the time has come to start facing the reality that Phil is not going to be the Lakers coach for more than another few years at best. But just how do we move on? That is the question that is going to dominate the Lakers future.

Tom

Staples24

I would be careful what u say around here. Considering the number of luke lovers in this blog suggesting trading him might elicit a barrage of pointless and belligerent responses. In other words its prob a waste of ur time

Luke has no other place in this league outside of the triangle. Its wishful thinking to hope any other gm would take on his contract that lasts till 2013

Like it or not we are stuck with him


hobbitmage,

OK. Just one brief retort then this debate is over.

>>> please explain how Pau must sacrifice
>>> in order to keep this team intact.

Note that I said “every player in play this summer” would have to sacrifice. Pau is not in play this summer. He still has two years to run on his contract. When we start talking new contract or extension with Pau, he will get his chance to sacrifice for the team, just as every player will when his contract comes into play. This is going to be the reality that follows this team throughout this dynasty.

>>> So please explain to me why
>>> Kobe has to take a pay cut, so that the Lakers don't pay
>>> the luxury tax?

Look at the forest instead of parsing all the trees. Nobody says that Buss HAS to bring back both players and pay huge luxury taxes. Nobody is saying that Kobe HAS to take less. Nobody is saying that Lamar and Trevor HAVE to take less. The reality is that if we are going to keep this team together, everybody is going to have to sacrifice when their turn comes. Right now, because their contracts are up or they have an option, it is Kobe’s, Lamar’s, Trevor’s, and Shannon’s turns to step up. All we are saying is that the smart move by everybody, including Buss, is to do whatever they have to do to keep this team together. Invest in more championships by sacrificing now to reap greater rewards down the road. That is simply the smart move and good business to boot.

Nobody is going to insult Kobe but only an idiot would not expect there to be discussions with every player whose contract comes up to sacrifice. And frankly, this entire process probably began with the compromise that Mitch negotiated with Andrew Bynum to extend his contract for less than the max. This is now standard behavior for every deal.

Tom

Laker Tom,

I think whoever the Lakers hire to take over when PJ leaves--if Kobe is still on the team then--will be a practitioner of the triangle offense. It's been run too long now and implementing any other offense will take a monumental effort, something that can only distract from the team's goal of winning a title.

So this really leaves only Rambis and maybe Shaw or Clemons as possible Laker coaches. For this reason, I PRAY that PJ does not retire, because the last thing I want to see on this earth next to starving polar bears is Rambis as head coach again. Been there, done that, don't want to do it again.

BTW, is someone investigating the Spurs fleecing of the Bucks’ Richard Jefferson?

Wes

Weave-man,

Great to see another long time blogger post again. Good move to get Jefferson for Bowen, Thomas, and Oberto – all expiring contracts. Hurts the Spurs size-wise, however, and in my opinion makes them not match up as well against the Lakers. They gave up a lot of defense and size to get some offense. I think this hurts them against the Lakers.

Tom

Yellow,

Did you not see Luke perform in the finals? I wouldn't trade Luke Walton if I had to. His salary is not bad at all, he plays big in big games, he's our best passer, he plays better than average team defense and he can hit a lot of different shots. Luke proved himself to me this postseason.

It's Sasha I'd worry about. He's balsa wood at this point.

Wes

If we are going to keep this team together, everybody is going to have to sacrifice when their turn comes
Posted by:Laker tom


With all due respect that's preposterous. How do u exactly expect this to happen. Should we have all players swear under oath or sign a prenuptual? Ur argument of having kobe take a paycut because of the TIMING of his contract is ludicrous. If championship is about a team effort let's try to hold everyone accountable under the same standard

Wes,

It is pretty scary thinking of anybody else coaching the Laker except for Phil but I agree with you that the likely replacement is one of the assistant coaches.

Tom

Wesjoenixon

I watched every minute of the finals probably 3 times. Luke played well and kudos to him but he was also a beneficiary of some very favorable matchups. Fortunately for us the magic roster didntn't exactly have the strongest combination of forwards and he was matched up against smaller guards most of the time

Do u not remember LAST YEARS FINALS?? When powe and pierce completely toyed with him and phil stuck with him tooth and nails?

But whatever I know 'm just spinnin my wheels so nevermind

yellofever,
>>> If we are going to keep this team together, everybody is going to have
>>> to sacrifice when their turn comes – LakerTom.
>>> With all due respect that's preposterous. How do u exactly expect this
>>> to happen. Should we have all players swear under oath or sign a prenuptual?
>>> Ur argument of having kobe take a paycut because of the TIMING of his
>>> contract is ludicrous. If championship is about a team effort let's try to
>>> hold everyone accountable under the same standard. – yellofever.

The reality is that every Lakers player will be asked to sacrifice to keep the team together when their contract comes up. This year it is Lamar, Trevor, and Shannon. And Kobe because he has an option. Next year it will be Farmar’s and Fish’s turn. And Kobe again if he does not opt out this summer. The year after it will be Pau’s turn, etc. etc. That is just going to be the reality as the Lakers struggle to keep this championship team together.

No problem if you disagree but you are just denying the inevitable. It’s no different than any other business. The players are like the big wigs who make the big bucks at banks who are being forced to sacrifice if they want to see their companies survive. It’s just business. Better to be smart and invest in the future than short-sighted and lose out.

Of course, JMO.

Tom

yellofever,

Really?

"I don't understand why there is so much overwhelming support for mitch. Maybe winning a ring vindicates him to an extent but let's not forget his BAD moves still far outnumber the good."

Okay, the guy took the Lakers from a completely blown up team to being back to the Finals in only 4 years, and he did that with more BAD moves than good? Not only more BAD mores, but "far" more bad moves? Wow. That is an incredible statement.

Let's just look at one of his BAD moves, the legendary Caron Butler for Kwame Brown trade. Okay. We know now, certainly, that Caron Butler is a better ballplayer than Kwame.

But the Lakers had guys who could do the things Caron did. Kobe for one, who plays a lot like a SF on offense. They had Lamar Odom. They had depth at small forward. Devean George. Slava Medvedenko. Luke Walton. None of these are Caron, but they all had skills.

At center they had Chris Mihm. Good guy. Nice backup center. Not a starter in the NBA. Seriously.

So they roll the dice on Kwame Brown, an athletic big guy. If he does OK, he fills a need, and if he really grows its a big win. Not a bad risk. Kwame certainly had his limits, but he did provide an inside presence. And a bridge to the expected Bynum era.

The Lakers were 34-48 with Caron Butler and Chris Mihm starting. The next year they were 45-27 with Kwame Brown and small forward by committee (George, Walton, Kobe, even Cookie and Sasha).

So they got better. Not a bad deal really. They got something they needed and gave up a good player, but one whose skills they could replace. And they WON 11 MORE GAMES. Which does matter after all.

Kwame did not turn out to be the big man they needed to get them over the top. But first Bynum looked like he was, before getting hurt, and then Mitch (poof!) turned Kwame into Pau Gasol.

Bottom line - the Butler for Brown trade made the Lakers better becuase it filled a need.

The players are like the big wigs who make the big bucks at banks who are being forced to sacrifice if they want to see their companies survive
Posted by: laker tom

Asking any player to give up money for the team is like asking crooked bankers to sacrifice for the good of the banks or hold any accountability for their actions. Correct me if I'm wrong but the last time we entrusted these "big wigs" the market crashed and we experienced the biggest meltdown since the great depression

Sorry don't mean to harp but I wholeheartedly disagree

Personally,I think any discussion of P.J.'s successor is best left to next summer or beyond. Zen master wants his number 10!

Um, per my last post, all I can say is.... groundhog day!


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