LA Times Lakers Midseason Running Diary
Lakers Midseason Diary
Los Angeles, Ca.
Losing is not an Option
The Los Angeles Lakers, one of the most storied franchises in the NBA, took place in the first of its kind fantasy draft and were very happy with their team they pulled. GM Mitch Kupcheck and storied owner Jerry Buss along with 5 statisticians filled the draft room eager with anticipation. The draft order was decided at random, and the Lakers drew what was one of the shorter straws. But GM Mitch Kupcheck was optimistic, “ This type of draft isn’t an exact science, there’s going to be a very talented vet or young player we can get our hands on at the 20 spot. You really never know what the other teams are thinking in their spot. Will a certain team go BPA or try and build for the future? That’s something we won’t know until the team makes their selection.” Once the 20th pick came into the draft, the Lakers were elated to pick last year’s 2nd team all-NBA and All Star Grant Hill. As the draft rolled on the Lakers seemed to be on the phone often in secrecy. After the draft, formal trades were announced and it seems all the work on the phones paid off for the Lakers. They also nabbed last year’s 3rd team All-NBA 23 year old Stephon Marbury. Jerry Buss seemed to be glowing after the draft. When asked about it he said in Lakerland, losing is not an option. He will address the team with the message and let everyone know that a title is always the goal.
Time to Look in the Mirror
The season has begun and so has the optimism, pessimism and speculation. The Lakers are off slow in their first two weeks of play going 4-5, and there’s been a lot of disappointment from the fans. Stephon Marburn and Grant Hill have lead the way but have received little help from anyone else. Although in most arenas it’s too early to speculate, there are rumors beginning to swirl that the Lakers are unhappy with their team dynamic and need one more real piece to contend. Although Charles Oakley has done a great job being a glue guy most seem convinced his best role would be coming off the bench with Walt Williams, who’s production has been at an all-time low. Many also attribute the slow start to getting adjusted to Phil Jackson’s complicated triangle offense. When asked about it, Coach Jackson replied,” Do you think the triangle is the reason why we only get 2.4 blocks per game and have one of the lowest rebounding rates? It’s our fundamentals that are lacking. These guys act like they’ve never played the game before. There are certain key stats before you start looking at advanced stats that you have to win to compete: Not giving away the ball which we’re very good at, rebounding which we’re in the bottom half and creating turnovers which just isn’t happening.” Although Stephon Marbury pulled in player of the week honors for week one, he’s not impervious to being criticized by the fans. When asking one local fan what he thought of Starbury he said, “Pass the damn ball man. We need to bench him and let Strickland or Hunter play and show him how to play the point position. This guy is a glorified 2 playing point guard; it’ll never work if we want to win a championship. You need pass first point guards not guys trying to stuff the stat sheet.” Asked about his style of play Marbury was dismissive, “Man, I play ball the way I play ball and I’m not going to change it. I’m averaging 9 assist per game and got people who don’t even look like they’ve played basketball a moment in their life questioning if I’m selfish? Gary Peyton takes the third most shots in the league and you’ve got people calling him the best in the business but if I score 30, I’m selfish.”
Lakers Aim to Get Better
With the Lakers heading into the week at the 5-8 mark (1-3 in the last two weeks), all the speculation around the media seemed founded. Multiple reports speculated that due to the recent Lakers efforts that heads were on the chopping block. When we interview Phil Jackson concerning potential moves Coach Jackson responded in his usual coy manner,” Well, you’re talking to the wrong guy. I’m the coach and Mitch is the guy that builds the team. If I’m asked for input, I give it.” Apparently Jackson was being a lot of advice because the Lakers and Clippers pulled off this season’s blockbuster deal, in which sent 20 year old Lamar Odom to the Lakers for 2 first round Picks. This certainly raised a lot of eyebrows in LA for both teams. The Lakers were looking for a big man to pair with Satrbury and Grant Hill. Kupcheck clearly elated after the acquisition, “We feel Lamar is a perfect fit to our team. We needed a young 4 that can do anything on the basketball court. We made the trade and gave up so much because our design. We’re not going to be on the bottom half of the loss column for long it’s just not acceptable in LA, so the picks we gave up, we didn’t feel like we would be able to pull in this type of talent with our picks.” As to which type of talent Kupcheck thinks he has, “ We think we have a blank canvas of a player that can do everything on the court. His skill set reminds me of Kevin Garnett so we’ll play him at the 4 next to Grant. We feel he is somewhat limited in the 3 spot in terms of guarding quicker players so we were like why play a guy at a position where he can be limited at when we can slide him down and feel his potential is unlimited?” The town is certainly buzzing again and it seems the Lakers have established a young core for years to come.
Stern Nixes trade over a Technicality
In a shocking report, it seems David Stern NBA commissioner has nixed the Lakers/ Clippers trade which included Lamar Odom for 2 first round picks at its base. Sources are reporting that the Clippers did not send in the correct trade paperwork. When the Lakers contacted them concerning getting the right paperwork in the Clippers informed the Lakers that they had received better trade offers into the night and would be pulling out of the trade. Jim Buss, son of owner Jerry Buss commented on the matter, “While I can’t go into details concerning the nixed deal, I can confirm that we had a deal in principle for Lamar Odom to come to the Lakers. Also, while we’re disappointed in the commissioner’s arbitration ruling we have to move on.” When asked about the trade, who was extremely happy yesterday about the deal, GM Mitch Kupcheck declined to comment on the trade specifics itself, but did say,” You know there’s a reason I’m with the Lakers. We hold our self to higher standards. When we agree to a deal, we follow through despite technicalities. We don’t have a used car salesman type of attitude where if something better comes around we back out and say “we’re honest trust us”. Kupcheck seemed very upset about the ruling due to the countless hours it took to create the deal. Rumors have that the Clippers kept asking the Lakers to sweeten the deal which originally included Harrington and Ewing, but gave up those demands in good faith to the cross-town rival Clippers. The Lakers declined to comment concerning if this would affect future relations between the teams, but when Stephon Marbury was asked about a rivalry he laughed, “ Rivalry? The Lakers and Clippers have about the same rivalry as the United States and Costa Rica do. There is no rivalry, they may win a battle here and there, but we always win the war.“
Continued in next post (only allows 5 pics).