Links from La-La land

Here’s a few early bird links from Laker land. Enjoy …

Will the Lakers ever get back to their winning ways?

By Montezz Allen 

Photo by Lakernation.com

Photo by Lakernation.com

The Los Angeles Lakers have captured 16 NBA titles in 66 seasons. That’s second to the Boston Celtics who have won 17 of them.

Winning is a tradition. It’s an expectation. Anything short of winning a championship is a disappointment, period.

In addition to having the second-most championships in NBA history, the Lakers have 60 playoff appearances and have missed the postseason a total of five times. The franchise’s overall record is 3,197-2,008 and their win percentage is 61.4 percent.

Lakers Hall of Famer Magic Johnson (NBA.com)

Lakers Hall of Famer Magic Johnson (NBA.com)

The storied franchise has had 15 Hall of Famers play for the team.  Just to name a few: Jerry West, Magic Johnson, James Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

I think it’s pretty safe to say that L.A.’s long history of dominance has spoiled fans around the world. The feeling of being crowned champion is just as addictive as any drug.

But with the way things have looked over the past two seasons, fans are left wondering if the Lakers will reign supreme in the Western Conference ever again.

They’re coming off an atrocious season. They finished their 2013-14 campaign with a 27-55 record, the most losses in franchise history. They missed the playoffs for the first time since 2005 and just the third time in 38 seasons.

Unfortunately it doesn’t stop there.

L.A. finished with the sixth-worst record in the league and recorded their worst winning percentage since the Minneapolis Lakers’ 72-game season in 1957-58.

Yes, they flat-out stunk.

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Will Bryant live up to his two-year, $48.5 million extension?

By Montezz Allen

Los Angeles shooting guard Kobe Bryant driving to the cup. (NBA.com)

Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant driving to the cup. (NBA.com)

I’m going to try my best to remain as objective as possible. But like Skip Bayless and his unconditional LOVE for the San Antonio Spurs, I, Montezz J. Allen, am HIGH on the Lakers and the one they call Kobe Bean Bryant.

Off the bat I’m not scared to tell you that Kobe Bryant is the second greatest player of all time. He’s the only player you can mention in the same breath as Michael Jordan. Bryant’s the only player who has come close to reaching MJ’s level.

But that’s an argument for another day.

While I may be biased, I’m not delusional. I’m a realist.

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Bryant’s storied career is coming to a close. And it hurts me to say it. He’ll be entering the 2014-15 season as a 36-year-old, 19-year veteran who’s coming of an Achilles tear and fractured knee.

Critics and fans around the world want to know if the superstar shooting guard can live up to the two-year, $48.5 million extension he signed with the the franchise in November 2013.

Before tearing his Achilles in the 2012-13 season, “The Black Mamba” averaged 27.3 points per game on 46.3 percent shooting, 6 assists and 5.6 rebounds. The guy was flat out balling.

Statistically, Bryant was having one of the best seasons of his career. He continued to defy Father Time like many of the greats tend to do.

Fracturing his knee against the Memphis Grizzlies just six games into his return from rehabbing his torn Achilles left people wondering if he would be able to return to his old self.

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Patience is key in Lakers’ search for new head coach

By Montezz Allen

 

Mike Krzyzewski, Jeff Van Gundy and Brian Shaw (Associated Press Photos)

Mike Krzyzewski, Jeff Van Gundy and Brian Shaw (Associated Press Photos)

The Lakers are in search of their 25th head coach in franchise history. They’ve been having trouble keeping a permanent coach ever since the Zen Master left after the 2011-12 season.

In fact, they’ve hired three coaches in three years.

Yikes.

Mike Brown was fired just five games into his gig in 2012 and Mike D’Antoni resigned April 30 after the franchise made it clear that they weren’t going to pick up the final year of his option. 

It’s been pretty bad to watch to say the least. Jim Buss and Jeanie Buss have definitely made putrid decisions in hiring coaches over the last few years.

Since D’Antoni’s resignation, the Lakers haven’t reached out to any potential candidates. GM Mitch Kupchak says the team won’t begin its search until the NBA Draft lottery order is revealed on Tuesday night.  Afterward, Kupchak plans to start a preliminary round of phone interviews.

One might ask: Shouldn’t the Lakers be desperate in choosing their next head coach after everything that’s gone down with team?

My answer to that is simple: NO.

We’ve seen what happened over the last two seasons when Los Angeles’ front office rushed into hiring a coach. Not only has the team struggled, but it’s failed to buy into what each coach was selling.

This time around it’s imperative that Kupchak, Jim and Jeanie Buss take the time to evaluate each candidate to make sure they’re the perfect fit for the long-term.

Although the squad has had terrible seasons between 2012-14, the team still remains an attractive destination for players and coaches.

The Lakers also understand the cards they’re holding. They only have three players under contract next season (Kobe Bryant, Robert Sacre and Steve Nash), eating up just $34 million of the salary cap; they have a significant amount of cap space to sign a max player and most of all, the team can potentially land picks 1-6 in this year’s NBA Draft lottery.

That said, there are a plethora of questions that need to be answered in determining who the Lakers’ next coach will be:

1. What are they looking for in their next coach?

2. Will the team buy into his philosophy?

3. Who are they considering?

4. Will he coexist with Kobe Bryant?

It’s easier said than done, but Jeanie, Jim and Kupchak have to keep these questions in mind.

First and foremost, their next coach must be able to coexist with Kobe Bryant. He’s the face of the franchise — the head of the snake.

The Bryant-D’Antoni relationship deteriorated to a point where they barely spoke to one another by the end of the season. Bryant would often use Lakers’ shootaround time to receive treatment in the training room.

D’Antoni believed his actions caused a disconnect between he and his teammates and reportedly asked him to “change his routine.” Bryant refused.

Secondly, the coach has to be a good recruiter in addition to being astute with the X’s and O’s. His system must fit the players or NO one will buy into it.

Lastly, he has to be a players’ coach. Again, this goes back to his relationship with Bryant. If Bryant can relate, then his teammates will follow.

The Lakers’ next coach doesn’t necessarily have to be well-liked. Remember, Bryant clashed with the great Phil Jackson at times. But Jackson produced results and that’s what mattered.

“Honestly, it’s not whether the players like the coach or not,” Bryant said as a guest on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” last week. “It’s about getting results. Like somebody and those results go hand and hand.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kobe deserves role in choosing Lakers’ next coach

 By Montezz Allen

Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Kobe Bryant is an all-time great. There’s no denying it. He’s the greatest Laker of all time, if you ask me.

Shoot, I’ll go even further — he’s the second greatest player of all time.

Yeah, I said it …

Bryant’s a  five-time champion; he has won two NBA Finals MVPs, one regular-season MVP and has led the league in scoring twice. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. His level of commitment to his craft, as well to the Lakers’ franchise goes without saying.

Bryant’s a Laker for life. He practically bleeds purple and gold.

That said, in a recent interview with ESPN’s Andy Katz during the NBA draft combine, Lakers GM  Mitch Kupchak mentioned that Bryant will have little to NO say in deciding who their next head coach will be.

“From time to time we ask his advice,” said Kupchak. “He really won’t weigh in on something like this. I’m not even sure that we’ll talk to him prior to the interviews. But from time to time, he is in our facility, I’ll go downstairs and talk to him about a bunch of different things.”

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Q&A with Los Angeles Times Former Lakers’ Beat Writer Brad Turner

By Montezz Allen

Clippers beat writer Brad Turner

Clippers beat writer Brad Turner  -NBA.com

Los Angeles Times beat writer Brad Turner began covering the Los Angeles Lakers as a full-time gig in 1996. Of course that was the same year Kobe Bryant was drafted as the No. 13 pick by the Charlotte Hornets and then traded to the Lakers for center Vlade Divac, which was probably one of the dumbest trades in NBA history.

Sorry Charlotte, I feel your pain.

The swap for Bryant freed up cap space to sign free-agent center Shaquille O’Neal from the Orlando Magic later in the offseason.

The rest is history.

“I had a chance to go to seven NBA Finals,” said Turner. “I saw them win five of them. For a reporter, that’s pretty phenomenal. You establish some great relationships, meet some incredible people and you see some great basketball.”

Turner stopped covering the Lakers in 2011 and now covers the Clippers. That said,  he gave me some great insight about the world of blogging, as well as his career in its entirety in our Q&A session.

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