Lakers Mailbag: Analyzing the state of the Lakers
We've made it to the third edition of Lakers Mailbag, but we're going to need everyone to step up their game. My hope is that the process will involve some of same heavy sampling used in determining the daily Rick Friedman Reader of the Day comment award. So get those questions in on a daily basis by sending me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or just leave one on the comment threads. Hopefully, the questions below will elicit some responses.
1. "Jim Buss, what makes you think Mitch Kupchack can completely retool for new offensive system in one year considering the number of returning contracts, how we're over the cap, AND no player is going to take a pay cut to be coached by Mike Brown?" - Jon K.
I don't think Jim Buss is starting a mailbag, so I guess I'll have to answer this one myself. Jon K, I completely agree with you, and it's the primary reason I'm opposed to the Brown hire. I've already stated in previous posts that my concern isn't necessarily his coaching, but his ability to handle all the egos and distractions that surround the team.
Another reason has to do with the huge reality you outlined: Regardless of whether you do or don't like the Brown hire, his philosophy is completely different than that of Phil Jackson and a transition period is inevitable. Realistically, the Lakers' current roster is primed for one or two more championship runs, then the overhaul starts with finding a new franchise player and building the supporting cast around him. That's why I thought Brian Shaw's presence would be valuable in providing a bridge between the past and the future.
2. "I know Pau Gasol is going to play for the Spanish national team. But what are the details? Is the team set or are they still deciding? What's the schedule? Is it televised? How will playing for the national team help him get Pau's mojo back for the Lakers? Is Pau actually working out? Does he know what weights are?" -- justanothermambafan
Some may not believe it, but I have seen Gasol come out for interviews after lifting weights. As he has said numerous times, he's not going to suddenly become D.J. Mbenga and start flexing his muscles for bodybuilding contests. I agree that it wouldn't hurt if Gasol added a little muscle, but that's not the major factor that led to his unraveling in the playoffs. He mentally checked out when adversity hit, and he could never bounce back. With his play for the Spanish national team this summer, I expect that his confidence will return. During the 2008-09 season, he showed how an offseason's worth of criticism (for his role in the 2008 Finals loss) could motivate him. I expect him to respond the same way now.
Some may argue that Gasol should actually rest after showing signs of fatigue this season. However, the tournament runs from Aug. 31 to Sept. 18 in Lithuania, giving him plenty of time to rest up before the coming NBA season -- besides, it'll at least keep him sharp in what appears to be a lockout season.
As far as your other questions. The 15-player roster was recently released and includes Gasol and his brother, Marc; Thunder center Serge Ibaka; Rudy Fernandez; Ricky Rubio and Raptors guard Jose Manual Calderon.
I'll keep you posted on where the tournament might be televised. But for now, it would be good to bookmark this website.
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Lakers executive Jim Buss at the team's training facility in El Segundo on Aug. 23, 2005. Credit: Los Angeles Times