NBA: “11 Rings? No, Thank You!”
by Iván Rodríguez | Posted on Friday, November 16th, 2012
Just when everybody thought that the Lakers were about to announce the hiring of a man who has more rings that he can wear on his hands at once, as their new head coach, they stunned everyone again, only this time, not so pleasantly.
Before we get into further detail, let’s take a look back on the firing of Mike Brown:
According to their management, he was fired due to the fact that their offense (Princeton) wasn’t getting the most out of their players in which I agree to a certain degree, but they were still scoring over 100 points per game and were ranked top 10 in scoring efficiency. The contradiction on their statement is that they already knew that they were going to run this offense since training camp started, so why waste an entire pre-season and five games into the season? Nobody has a clue.
Their biggest problem was their defense. They couldn’t get a stop and that’s why they hired Mike Brown in the first place: to become a better defensive team. After five games played and with so many new pieces battling injuries, I don’t think he got a fair shot to make his system work with this new look roster.
I don’t want to blame it all on Mike Brown here. Steve Nash and Steve Blake cannot keep up with quick Point Guards which most of them, take great advantage of this creating defensive imbalances. Pau wasn’t rotating quickly enough to help defensively, giving players enough space to shoot over him. Kobe and World Peace are giving a better defensive effort compared to last season, but they aren’t the defenders they once were in their careers. Dwight is coming off back surgery and is working himself back into shape, which doesn’t allow him to be the defensive juggernaut we’re used to see. Last but not least, their bench has been just atrocious on both ends of the court.
Now, the Lakers had the option to hire one of the best coaches, if not the best coach in NBA history in Phil Jackson or one of the best offensive minds we have seen in Mike D’Antoni.
There have been several rumors that Phil Jackson wanted a big salary, a say on management related decisions, the luxury of missing some road games, and some more privileges but ESPN analyst and former player/coach Kurt Rambis denied all these allegations since he has kept in touch with him throughout this process and the “Zen Master” himself, called the Lakers “liars”. It was the popular belief that this was his job to turn down. Instead, the Lakers went with Mike D’Antoni whose success in this league is recognizable having a 53.4 winning percentage in his career and even has made it to the Western Conference Finals, but then again, history says he careless about defense. Three teams that he has coached has been ranked as the worst defensive team in the league and the others have never gotten out of the bottom 7. Offensively, he has had great success, but has counted with young and athletics legs to run the floor, which it is not the case with this team. Steve Nash is past his Phoenix days, Kobe and Metta can run but you must consider how it would impact their bodies at this stage of their careers in the long run. To run the pick & roll, Dwight will need space in which Pau could create some spacing problems in the paint. They’re bigger, older, and slower than those exciting Suns teams he coached.
D’Antoni has a great offensive mind and perhaps, will find the way to adjust and get the most out of the Lakers offensively, but defensively? This is the same coach that quit his job when former Suns GM and five-time champion Steve Kerr asked him to pay more attention to defense and rebounding.
I truly believe the Lakers made a huge mistake passing on the coach with the most championships in league’s history. They have the perfect personnel to run the triangle offense and count with leaders such as Bryant and Gasol that understand the triangle perfectly and get the most out of the system. Their high basketball IQ would allow them to help everyone else on the team to understand it in a quicker way.
The Lakers management were so focused on getting the best out of their talented roster offensively that they seemed to have forgotten that defense and rebounding is what wins championships in the NBA.
Then again, we will have to wait and see who was right: the excited Laker fans chanting “We want Phil” at the Staples Center or the new chief in town: Jim Buss.
Whose side are you on? (Comment below)
Image from: zimbio.com