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Phil Jackson talks with the media: Part III

September 27, 2009 |  2:56 pm
After the build up of Part I and Part II, we hit you with the final installment of Phil Jackson's session with the media. I've cleverly titled it, "Part III".

In the first clip, Phil relays positive feedback on Andrew Bynum's offseason workouts and endorses his goal of an All-Star bid.  Between Bynum, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, and Ron Artest, Jackson said this is the most talented frontcourt he's ever coached and the best grouping he can recall since the 1999-2000 Blazer crew (Sabonis, Grant, Sheed, Dale Davis).   With that in mind, BK asked if we might witness the hard court union of Drew, LO and Pau, a trio that played together roughly zero minutes last season after an offseason's worth of getting talked up as a potential "triple towers" powerhouse.

"There's a chance.  We're talking a little bit about a big lineup with Kobe (Bryant), Artest, Lamar, Pau, and Andrew.  There'a a variety of guys that could fit into that.  And also, those five as an overwhelming group that could do some things, and with the type of offense that we run, could function quite well without a point guard."

Intriguing words, to be sure, but I'd caution folks to take them with a grain of salt.  Or at the very least, an attitude equal parts "geeked" and "grounded."

As mentioned earlier, Phil talked up the idea of a big lineup during the '08 exit interviews and subsequent offseason. That alignment not only failed to see daylight, but didn't even make it through training camp before getting scrapped.  BK and I were both surprised and a little disappointed Phil didn't exercise more patience before calling it quits, particularly given his willingness to risk a regular season loss for the sake of a "bigger picture" objective (a mindset I generally endorse).  Granted, Bynum's prolonged absence ultimately put this to bed, but either way, it's important to remember the difference between PJ being interested the big lineup and actually planning to implement it.  As we speak, Phil has committed to nothing beyond a willingness to envision "bigness," plus an implied right to make a 180.  While the super-sized boys would (potentially) dominate opponents and (undoubtedly) entertain fans, there are legit reasons it may remain a fantasy.

I agree with Phil that Kobe-Pau-Ron-LO-Drew could theoretically operate without a traditional point guard. Kobe runs the O as well as anybody and Odom has succeeded guiding the bench unit. Pau has outstanding handles for a seven footer and is arguably the league's best passing big.  With his head on straight, Artest could occasionally take the reins (although as we saw during the Lakers-Rockets series, a little with Ron at the point goes a long way).  But on the defensive end, there are legit reasons to question if the Laker length can conquer opponent speed (the way I imagine most teams would counter this alignment).  And beyond simply the X's and O's, there are matters of practicality and moving parts to take consider.

With so much focus on the triple towers' failure to launch, it's easy to overlook the relative lack of minutes Drew and Pau actually played together. Socks missed about half the season with a knee injury, and during the bookending healthy sections, Phil typically teamed up LO and Pau more often, especially during the playoffs. Bynum noted during his exit interview that he and Gasol still to learn each other's game, much less learn how to best work their magic with LO in the mix.

Artest is learning a new system and new teammates, a process identified by Phil as the season's top priority.  That learning curve will be be made considerably easier with everything humming on all cylinders. Derek Fisher's presence will probably help this task.  Say what you want about Fish's increasing difficulties staying with the league's water bugs, but he's more often than not in the right place at the right time. Plus, there's the whole "LO, Drew and Pau haven't played together" element I alluded to earlier. The more dudes out there bumping heads, the tougher the process of integrating Artest- which is ultimately more important than nurturing the "Ed Jones" formation. Until Artest is up to speed, I'm guessing the looks for this group will be limited.

Bottom line? Kobe-Ron-LO-Pau-Drew is hardly a done deal. Mind you, I'm not saying it can't work and I certainly would prefer PJ give it a more extended shot than last season. Should everything click, I could absolutely see the results being, as Phil said, "overwhelming." But I would temper expectations and hope to be happily surprised, as opposed to waiting for Phil to deliver what he never promised in the first place.

From here, Phil notes how Jeannie Buss is a Twitterin' kinda gal and he... well... isn't.  Hopefully, the relationship won't suffer. All joking aside, some interesting thoughts from PJ about social networking and new media in general.

AK


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