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Category: Kurt Rambis

Kurt Rambis' firing sparks plenty of reactions

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-Ball Don't Lie's Kelly Dwyer criticizes Minnesota Timberwolves General Manager David Kahn for how he handled Kurt Rambis' firing. 

--ESPN.com's Zach Harper wonders whether Rambis was really that bad of a coach.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Brian Kamenetzky notes the complications involving Lakers forward Ron Artest possibly playing overseas. 

--Sports Illustrated's Zach Lowe argues Minnesota hurts its credibility with the way it handled Rambis' firing. 

--The Pioneer Press' Tom Powers argues Rambis didn't show as if he wanted to coach the Timberwolves. 

--The Star Tribune's Jerry Zgoda reports Kahn's contention that delaying Rambis' firing had nothing to do with finances. 

--Forum Blue and Gold's Darius Soriano argues the triangle offense is officially extinct with Kurt Rambis' firing from the Minnesota Timberwolves.

--Silver Screen and Roll's DexterFishmore expresses concern over Chuck Person's revelation to me in a Q&A that the Lakers' defense won't be much different from last season. 

Tweet of the Day: "The best part about Dwight Howard speculation is Lakers fans are sure they have him, same with Nets, Magic, Knicks, Celtics and 20 others." -- basketballtalk (Pro Basketball Talk's Kurt Helin)

Rick Friedman Reader Comment of the Day: "I like Chuck's candidness, no excuses just re-load and let's go. I like the 'kill your own food to eat' quote a lot." -- Jamie Sweet

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Lakers Coach Phil Jackson, right, looks on as Kurt Rambis yells from the bench. Credit: Richard Hartog / LAT / Nov. 28, 2006

Kurt Rambis wasn't treated with enough respect from David Kahn

6a00d8341c506253ef0154338b32b7970c-320wiKurt Rambis' 32-132 record through two seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves may have warranted his firing, which became official Tuesday, but not in the way that Minnesota General Manager David Kahn handled it.

Rambis may not have gotten the best out of a roster that averaged about four years' of NBA experience when he inherited the job, but Kahn didn't provide much in talent to make Rambis' coaching job any easier. 

And Rambis may not have gotten his players to respect him enough to fully buy in to his concepts, but Kahn's lack of respect toward Rambis was worse because it reeks of unprofessionalism. 

When Rambis took over the Lakers on an interim basis in place of the fired Del Harris in the 1998-99 season, Rambis endured similar struggles in getting young talent to buy in to his concepts and handling the Dennis Rodman's antics and the feud between Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. Yet the Lakers still found him valuable enough to keep him on as an assistant upon hiring Phil Jackson the following season. He eventually became a key part in implementing Jackson's defensive scheme that limited the Orlando Magic to an average of 91.2 points a game in the 2009 NBA Finals.

When Rambis took over the Minnesota Timberwolves on a four-year deal, there was a tremendous learning curve in teaching the triangle offense to a team with lesser talent, reversing a losing culture and communicating with his players. The only success story pointed to Kevin Love's emergence, but even that came with some hand-wringing over Rambis' initial insistence in limiting his minutes. Yet Kahn did little beyond obsessing over Ricky Rubio and making trade leaks than acquiring actual talent. 

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Kurt Rambis, Brian Shaw prime examples of unpredictable coaching profession

26677076Kurt Rambis left Phil Jackson's coaching staff on the Lakers concerned that sticking around would deny him possible coaching opportunities. Brian Shaw stayed with the Lakers believing his patience would pay off.

Each approach seemed sensible at the time, well thought-out and mindful of the unpredictable coaching field. But their plan didn't turn out as hoped.

When Rambis accepted a four-year deal two years ago to coach the Minnesota Timberwolves, he knew he was inheriting a young team whose roster averaged about four years of NBA experience and finished 24-58 in the 2008-09 season. But he believed assurances from the Timberwolves' front office that his four-year deal would grant him enough patience during the rebuilding process. Instead, as reported by Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc Spears, Minnesota General Manager David Kahn plans to either fire Rambis or reassign him within the front office because of dissatisfaction over the Timberwolves' 32-132 record under his watch, including a league-worst 17-65 in the 2010-2011 season.

When Shaw stayed on as the Lakers' assistant for the past seven seasons and six under Jackson, there was always a hope he could land the head coaching spot whenever Jackson ultimately retired. Shaw certainly recognized that mantle would never automatically be handed to him, but he believed he'd able to prove himself even though he lacked head coaching experience. But despite receiving public support from Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher, Shaw was passed over for the coaching spot in favor of Mike Brown, and settled for an assistant coaching spot with the Indiana Pacers.  

It's only human nature that Shaw and Rambis might be wondering what would have happened had they chosen a different path. Would Shaw have done a better job than Byron Scott coaching the Cleveland Cavaliers, which finished with an Eastern Conference worst 19-63 record? Would Rambis have had better support and fared better with the likes of the Sacramento Kings and Philadelphia 76ers, teams that also interviewed him for their respective head-coaching vacancies?

Welcome to the coaching profession, where openings come up unexpectedly, candidates have to be positioned in the right place at the right time and their fortunes are as fleeting as winning at a blackjack table. 

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Lakers enter NBA draft with Lamar Odom trade rumors

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-- The Times' Broderick Turner explains the Lakers' attempt to trade Lamar Odom to the Minnesota Timberwolves for their No. 2 pick.

-- The Times' Mark Heisler expresses amusement over the various NBA trade rumors.

-- Sports Illustrated's Sam Amick reports the Lakers and 76ers are in talks over possibly trading Odom for Andre Iguodala

-- The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding reports that Lakers Coach Mike Brown is buying a house in Anaheim Hills. Have fun with the L.A. traffic, coach. Ding also lists 10 things Lakers forward Matt Barnes could've done to better to ensure a Lakers' three-peat. 

-- ESPN Los Angeles' Brian Kamenetzky offers his take on the Lakers' attempt to trade Odom. 

-- Lakers.com's Mike Trudell talks to Ronnie Lester about the upcoming NBA draft. 

-- Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Minnesota Timberwolves General Manager David Kahn has decided to fire Coach Kurt Rambis.

-- Silver Screen and Roll's Dexter Fishmore offers his thoughts at SB Nation on a possible Odom for Iguodala deal. 

Tweet of the Day: "Less than two years ago the Lakers gave Lamar Odom $33 million. Now they're reportedly dangling him for a draft pick. NBA, folks." -- thechrispalmer (ESPN The Magazine's Chris Palmer)

Rick Friedman Reader Comment of the Day: "Another thing to think about is how a hard cap would equal better basketball. Why? Well, because with huge income disparities between the two tiers, mediocre or average players, especially ones that feel they could get better, would work their tails off to become a marquee player. Right now, there's a lack of incentive for players to really try all that hard to improve their game." -- Tim-4-Show

--Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Lamar Odom has become the Lakers' hot commodity to move, but Minnesota reportedly turned down a trade offer that would have sent the NBA's sixth man of the year to the Timberwolves in exchange for the No. 2 overall pick in Thursday's draft. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times.

Caught in the Web: Ettore Messina reportedly joining Mike Brown's coaching staff

--The Times' Bill Plaschke argues the Lakers should've treated Brian Shaw with more respect.

--The Times' Chris Dufresne explains how the Lakers' disappointing season served as just one example of a mediocre year for L.A. sports. 

--ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher and Hoopsworld's Eric Pincus report Ettore Messina has agreed to join Mike Brown's coaching staff.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Andrew Kamenetzky analyzes the Lakers' poor outside shooting and considers it a highly important area to improve.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Brian Kamenetzky argues the Lakers need better point guard production.

--The San Jose Mercury News' Tim Kawakami shares some memorable stories covering Shaq.

--Former Laker Mark Madsen shares his Top 10 Shaq stories.

--The Orange County Register's Jeff Miller wonders if Kurt Rambis regrets coaching the Minnesota Timberwolves considering he might be in a better position to coach the Lakers.

--ESPN's Stephen A. Smith highlights Shaq's personality.

--Sports Illustrated considers Magic Johnson game-winning hook shot in Game 4 of the 1987 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics as one of the top Finals moments.

--Forum Blue and Gold's Darius Soriano reflects on Shaquille O'Neal's career.

Tweet of the Day:"This series should be required to go to seven." -- ESPNLandoLakers (ESPN Los Angeles' Brian Kamenetzky on the NBA Finals)

Rick Friedman Reader Comment of the Day:"Here's why the Lakers need to hold out hope for Dwight Howard. When looking at the championship teams over the last 30 years all of them have had one of the top 5 players in the league...except the 2004 Pistons...and maybe the Bad Boys Pistons although Zeke could've been considered a top 5 player even though he wasn’t voted to the all-NBA teams during those years. Whoever wins the championship this year will continue that tradition. Will Kobe be one of the top 5 in 2012? How about 2013? How about Pau? No way. Drew?

Nope. Hence, the Lakers need to use their assets (Pau/Drew/LO) to obtain a top 5 player. Are CP3 or Deron Williams top 5 players? If playing very well they both could be top 10 players, but like Tom Daniels stated in his excellent post (6:56am) elite PG’s under 6-9 have not added up to championships recently. DHoward is the player the Lakers want to make sure they’re in a position to get if/when he tells Orlando he’s not re-signing. (Earlier this week Howard went on record saying he will not sign an extension until his team proves it’s a championship contender). With the big 3 in Miami and the emergence of Chicago, I can’t see how Orlando is going to prove to Dwight they’re contenders before the trade deadline. DHoward (not CP3 or DWill) is a sure fire top 5 player for the next 7 years. I would hate to see the Lakers out of contention to get him because of a previous trade for a PG." -- LRob2

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Caught in the Web: Lakers enjoy off day before Golden State

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-- The Times' Mike Bresnahan contrasts the opinions of Phil Jackson and Kurt Rambis on the Lakers.

-- The Times' Mark Heisler says players shouldn't complain so much about calls. But he believes the NBA's "Respect for the Game" crosses the line and soon could decide outcomes.

-- Ball Don't Lie's Dan Devine looks at Charles Barkley's argument that Kobe Bryant is one of the five greatest players ever in the NBA.

-- The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding focuses on how the Lakers controlled tempo during their undefeated three-game trip.

-- ESPN Los Angeles' Andy and Brian Kamenetzky talk with ESPN.com's Bomani Jones about Pau Gasol, Bryant's "Call of Duty" commercial and whether the Lakers should add a big man.

-- The San Francisco Chronicle's Rusty Simmons details how Warriors Coach Keith Smart plans to help his team get off to a better start against the Lakers.

--The Daily Breeze's Elliott Teaford provides a medical update on some of the Laker injuries.

-- The Oakland Tribune's Marcus Thompson II tells how Smart is prodding his players more.

-- Sports Illustrated's Ian Thomsen wonders in the video below whether the Warriors can sustain their early-season success.

-- Silver Screen and Roll's wondahbap features Lamar Odom as the Lakers' player of the week.

-- Lakers Nation's Fernando Rea sizes up Shannon Brown's chances of winning the NBA award for most improved player.

-- Golden State of Mind's IQofaWarrior goes one on one with Warriors guard Monta Ellis.

-- And for good measure, the Miami Heat wants you to "Fan Up" in the video below

Tweet of the Day: "NOT THAT R-E-S-P-E-C-T T-H-E G-A-M-E GOES TOO FAR but next they'll be T'ing up P.A. guys who get too excited and fans who stand up too fast" -- MHeislerLATimes (L.A. Times NBA columnist Mark Heisler).

Reader Comment of the Day: Lakeraholics view LakerWorld as bigger than just the players on the court... it includes the coaches, the fan(atics), the bloggers, the cheerleaders, management and staff, ownership, and our history. - We're interested in ALL of that." -- Jon K.

-- Mark Medina

Twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Five things to watch in Lakers-Timberwolves matchup

6a00d8341c506253ef0133f5bace68970b-320wi1. The Lakers will take the Timberwolves more seriously. 

The Lakers are a much changed team since their mail-it-in 99-94 victory 10 days ago against Minnesota. They experienced their first loss. They sharpened their play in the first two road games in this trip. And they're locking in more on defense. It's crucial the Lakers (10-2) continue that mind-set for Friday's game (5 p.m. PST), because the Timberwolves (4-9) are also a much different team since their recent loss against the defending champs. If the Lakers maintain the level of play they've shown thus far on their road trip, the outcome shouldn't be in question. But there are a few areas that may require a bigger effort. The Star-Tribune put together some telling statistics regarding the discrepancy before and after the T-Wolves first played the Lakers, including record (1-6, 3-3), scoring differential (-17.1, +1) and points allowed (114.4, 104.3).

2. Who will own the glass?

Minnesota dominated that category in the last match-up, with a 54-42 advantage. Kevin Love grabbed a career-high 23 boards. And the T-Wolves' 26 offensive rebounds offset their 38% mark from the field. All of these factors pointed to a lack of hustle by the Lakers in the first meeting. But it also pointed to Minnesota's ability to make up for poor shot selection, entering that contest tied with the Lakers, averaging 48.1 rebounds per game. Love's rebound average spiked to 17.3, though Minnesota currently ranks second (46.23) behind the Lakers (47) in dominating the glass.

3. Can Lamar Odom limit Love?

In addition to Love's rebounding numbers, his playing time spiked to 36.3 minutes per game for good reason. His 31 points and 31 rebounds in a 112-103 victory last week over the New York Knicks validated the view of plenty of fans and writers who believed former Lakers and current Timberwolves Coach Kurt Rambis kept Love on too short of a leash. He's also recorded three double-doubles in five games since Minnesota's loss to the Lakers. It's safe to say things are going better than when he and Wes Johnson miscommunicated on a high-five.

Odom will have to put on a much better performance than he did last time against Minnesota, after getting in early foul trouble. My hunch is he will. He's been remarkably consistent this season this year, and his 14.9 points per game average on 58.5% shooting and 10.8 rebounds prompted former Lakers Jerry West and James Worthy to argue that Odom should play in the 2011 NBA All-Star game. It'll certainly be a heavy task, though. Odom has valiantly fought through a sore right foot and a damaged left thumb, and the news that Theo Ratliff and Andrew Bynum are sidelined only increases the pressure on Odom to carry the load.

4. Round 2 of Pau Gasol vs. Darko Milicic. It's crucial that Gasol carry his share of of the load, particularly because Lakers Coach Phil Jackson has said the forward needs to play more aggressively if he wants to be considered for league MVP. Gasol has averaged 22.9 points per game (12th best in the league) on 55% shooting, 12.2 rebounds (3rd) and 1.5 blocks (21st) per game. He also has led the NBA in double-doubles (10) and has led all big men in assists (3.9). So I see this as more Jackson needling Gasol. But against Minnesota, Gasol's effort was modest at best. Instead of completely dominating Milicic, Gasol put up 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Milicic finished with 10 points and seven boards at a time he was shooting 23% from the field. Milicic has since averaged 41.3%, and while this match-up should still remain lopsided, Gasol should ensure that actually happens.

5. How will Ron Artest match up with Michael Beasley?

Aside from his effort against Brandon Roy, holding him scoreless from field-goal range, Artest hasn't been happy with his defense. This match-up will give him an opportunity to make that first step, as Beasley's numbers have jumped within the last 10 days, from 14.3 points per game to 30 points. Jackson recently noted how Artest's work on Beasley in the last game resulted in him scoring 17 points on six-of-17 shooting. But that very well might point to Beasley's improved play. Artest has a chance to prove otherwise.

-- Mark Medina
Twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Pau Gasol puts up a reverse layup against Minnesota's Darko Milicic during the first quarter of a recent game at Staples Center. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Shannon Brown making an early case for NBA's most improved player

57694544Watch Shannon Brown calmly set himself in triple-threat position before swishing a three-pointer, and recognize that success points to his off-season work on his shooting stroke. Watch Brown drive the lane on a pick-and-roll, cut baseline and finish with a reverse layup, and realize that his want to become more than a dunker appears genuine. Read Brown's stat line that says he scored 16 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter of the Lakers' 118-107 victory Tuesday over the Milwaukee Bucks, and conclude that he became instrumental in the team snapping a two-game losing streak. 

But here's the thing most gratifying for Lakers fans: Brown's been filling the role described above fairly consistently through all 11 games. Coach Phil Jackson contended that it was Brown and reserve guard Steve Blake who "bailed us out" in the team's season-opening 112-110 victory over Houston because of their late-game shots. Brown nearly brought the Lakers back into contention in their 121-116 loss Sunday to the Phoenix Suns with late-game three-pointers. And he's scored in double figures in six of the 11 games at a 49.4%. "Let Shannon Dunk"? Forget that -- the new campaign should be "Let Shannon Shoot."

That's not all, however. With all the shots, energy and cohesiveness he's brought off the bench, Brown's making a serious case as the NBA's most improved player. Obviously, the Lakers' (9-2) have 71 more games to go before figuring out if Brown's early-season performance holds up, but so far he's making the right strides to put himself in that position.

"Being on this team around Kobe [Bryant] and seeing the work ethic he needs to have in the offseason has propelled him into the category of being a candidate for most improved player in the league this year," former Laker and KCAL-9 analyst James Worthy said on the postgame telecast. "Sometimes players are good in college, but they are still late bloomers. Michael Jordan, for example, was a pretty good player in college, a raw player, but he got better and better as his career went on. That's the same thing we're seeing in a player like Shannon Brown."

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Five things to watch in Lakers-Minnesota matchup

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1. Can all the Lakers starters play less than 30 minutes? -- The outcome doesn't even appear in question, what with the Lakers starting off 7-0 and Minnesota (1-6) clearly showing that the rebuilding project is going to take some time. No need to exert all your energy on an opponent that doesn't deserve it. The Lakers need to build up a sizable lead, grant rest to the starters and allow the bench take care of the rest.

2. Does Minnesota cause bad luck for the Lakers' health? - Another good reason for the Lakers to build up a double-digit lead entails the fact that it'll make it less likely any of the starters get hurt. That's a universal fact in all games, but for some reason the Timberwolves were present for some rather significant Laker injuries. In a meaningless regular-season game Dec. 11, 2009, former Lakers guard Jordan Farmar fed a poor entry pass to Kobe Bryant that ultimately resulted in an avulsion fracture to his right index finger, and arthritis eventually developed in the knuckle. Then in March 19, 2010, Lakers center Andrew Bynum strained his left Achilles tendon while running up and down the court, an injury that sidelined him for the final 13 regular-season games. I don't really believe in omens, but perhaps some of the Lakers do.

3. See Kevin Love on the bench: UCLA fans might feel inclined to attend the Lakers game tonight considering Love, a former Bruin, will be in town. Not a bad idea, just don't expect him to play much. Perhaps Minnesota Coach and former Laker Kurt Rambis will consider otherwise considering this is a homecoming for Love and, well, he is a good player. But it would strongly deviate from what has happened so far. With the T-Wolves trading Al Jefferson to Utah this summer, it was assumed Love would receive more than a bench role. Despite the third-year power forward leading the Timberwolves with 16.9 points and 11.7 rebounds per game, his 26.4 minutes per game has baffled plenty. As one NBA scout told ESPN's Chris Broussard, "You have to be on crystal meth not to give Love more minutes on that team. It makes no sense.''

4. See the difference in how triangle offenses are run - What's impressed me the most about the Lakers' 7-0 start entails how smoothly they've run their offense. The Lakers' league-leading 114 points per game, league-leading 45% rate from three-point range and league-leading 13.6 per contest reveals a well-oiled machine. The usual consistency from Pau Gasol (24.1 points and 10 rebounds) and Lamar Odom (15.9 points and 11.1 rebounds) showcases their dominance in the post. All these parts, however, reveal how well the Lakers have run the triangle, thanks to constant ball movement, sharp cutting and effective spacing.

"When the triangle works the way it's supposed to, it's beautiful," Lakers forward Luke Walton said during training camp. "It's fun to watch. It's fun to play. When you've got guys working on the same play and making the right reads, it's great. It's the way basketball is meant to be played."

Ever since Rambis' arrival last season with the Timberwolves, he's instituted the triangle system, but it's not run in its entirety simply because of the learning curve. He told the Star Tribune that he doesn't need to tinker with the system other than just allowing time for the team to fully learn it.

"There's nothing that we're doing that's complicated," Rambis told the Star Tribune. "This is all stuff that they know. Young players just have trouble being consistent."

If nothing else, tonight's game should serve as a visual reminder why the Lakers' offense has functioned so well. Having experienced and talented players makes a heck of a difference.

5. The Lakers won't be tested on defense. For all well the Lakers have played, the defense could still be sharpened. But that's going to be a problem against Minnesota. No player shoots above 50%. And for all the concern about how Bynum's absence exposes the Lakers' interior defense, they can be comforted by the fact that T-Wolves center Darko Milicic only shoots 23.1% from the field, considering his attempts mostly come from, you know, inside the paint.

--Mark Medina

Twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Kobe Bryant takes the ball past Minnesota's Wesley Johnson during an exhibition game in Europe. Credit: Dylan Martinez, Reuters.

Caught in the Web: Lakers enjoy an off day before game against Minnesota

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A few notes: I am in short supply of Laker blog profiles. This is something I plan to feature on Lakers' off-days throughout the season so if you want this series to continue, send your profiles to [email protected]

Plenty of readers loved, for good reason, "Journey to the Ring," a collaborative book between Lakers Coach Phil Jackson and NBA senior photographer Andrew D. Bernstein. You can order advance copies here.

--The Times' Mike Bresnahan details the influence Lakers assistant coach Chuck Person has provided for the Lakers.

--ESPN.com's Chris Broussard remains confused as to why Minnesota Coach and former Laker Kurt Rambis limits Kevin Love's playing time.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Brian Kamenetzky breaks down the Lakers' defense. He also previews the Lakers' upcoming week.

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant thanks the military for their service in the video below

--Sports Illustrated's Zach Lowe devotes part of his column to a favorite among hoops fans: making fun of Minnesota's Darko Milicic.

--CBSSports.com's Matt Moore asks if anyone wants to play point guard for the T-Wolves. Thanks, but I'll pass.

--Fox Sports' West's Matt Smith predicts the Lakers will get at least 73 wins.

--The Star Tribune highlights Minnesota's youth.

--Lakers.com's Mike Trudell details where the Lakers rank league-wide in a few statistical categories.

--Silver Screen and Roll's C.A. Clark argues the Lakers can play good defense simply when they put their minds to it.

--Forum Blue and Gold's Zephid breaks down the effectiveness Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom have demonstrated thus far.

--Canis Hoopus' pescatello wonders whether the Timberwolves can win 30 games.

--Lakers Nation's Nadya Avakian likes how Steve Blake and Derek Fisher are working together.

--Mark Medina

Twitter.com/latmedina

[email protected]

Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant makes a pass after running into the defense of Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley in the first quarter of their exhibition game Oct. 4 at London's O2 Arena. Credit: Dylan Martinez / Reuters

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