This Laker squad in theory should be at least in the top 3 of the Western Conference. If each piece is functioning as what is expected of him, the team should move along like a well-oiled machine...performing their tasks like clockwork. But alas, everything is discombobulated...the team right now is more like a malfunctioning computer-the coach is pressing the keys and he is not getting the expected response. Everybody is trying to say the right thing but nobody really has a definite answer. I believe it's time to push the reset button...or restore to default settings.
I was on Team Jackson when Mike Brown was fired. I really did believe that if the Busses are fully invested in Dwight as their franchise player, they would have chosen Phil over D'Antoni because as good as Dwight already is...he still has a lot of room for improvement as far as being a low-post threat. When Amar'e Stoudemire said that the reason he did not develop a traditional post-game is because post-up plays were not a factor in D'Antoni's system, that statement right there to me raises flags already. The Lakers have 2 of the best big men in Pau and Dwight...why hire a coach that doesn't factor post-up plays and likes to go up-tempo when there are no quick players on the team? The answer to that question can probably be found also from Amar'e himself. He began his statement this way..."I'm a player who adapted to the system I played in...". Did the Busses have a vote of approval from the 2 guys that would be affected most by this hiring-Pau and Dwight? Amar'e adapted to the system...he bought in to what D'Antoni is selling and he was successful at it. Were the Busses counting on Pau and Dwight adapting to the system for the good of the team? It is obvious though that they aren't because Pau is relegated to the bench while Dwight is unhappy with his role. Here's the full article on Amar'e from the New York Post.
Some would say that the onus is on Amar'e for not developing his post-game on his own even while he was playing for D'Antoni. He should have done all that is necessary to further his game, right? True, but what good is a dentist if his daily job is cooking spaghetti in a restaurant? Would I want to go get a root canal from him if the last time he held a dental instrument was 6 years ago when he was in school? I would love to try his spaghetti though. The point being is this, any big men will diminish under D'Antoni. Just ask Pau...
So if the players won't adapt and buy-in to what the coach is selling while the coach is as stubborn as they come and would not adapt himself...where do we go from here? Let's look at the players first. Jim Buss did say that he believes this team was built to win so that would lead me to also believe that he would not make any major roster moves and he will see this thing through whatever the outcome is. There are almost no tradeable assets...Pau and MWP have huge contracts and have declining value, no more draft picks, no rising young player-Earl Clark still has a long ways to go while Jordan Hill on the other hand is injured. Is Dwight even in the trade discussion? He is by the way the biggest tradeable asset the Lakers have. There is still no confirmation from Dwight as far as extending here and the current Laker situation isn't helping.
Is there another shake-up at the coaching position? The Lakers are already on the hook for $24 million with Mike Brown and MDA. Kobe wanted Phil but he says he was OK with D'Antoni. Pau and Dwight aren't happy campers nowadays. Is there still a possibility of a Phil comeback? He said he will never coach again but would the Lakers really want to pay another coach if a coaching change is not a guarantee for winning a championship this year? How about a coaching change just to appease the star players?
I am not even sure if a coaching change is the right move or how about that other option of just blowing this thing up and just start all over again. That thing called contract is making any moves extremely difficult. This is when I present to you the case for a coach-less Lakers.
The word quitting is not taken lightly around professional sports. These athletes are paid big money to perform at a very high level all the time no matter what the circumstance is. So if I throw the word quit to describe the Laker players during the playoff sweep against the Mavs 2 years ago, that is saying something especially given the fact that it was Phil Jackson who was coaching that team and 3 of the main guys are still here-Kobe, Pau, and MWP. I might be on the minority but I really believe that the players did quit even against the prodding of Phil himself. Would these guys do it again to Phil (if he was hired) when things are going terribly wrong against them? How about Mike Brown? Will any of the players stand up for D'Antoni this time?
Since Jim Buss believes on this team and would most likely keep them intact and any coaches thrown in is no guarantee for winning while on the other hand MDA is probably alienating some of the players already...how about just scrubbing the head coach away and just go coach-less for the rest of the season? The Lakers do feature some of the smartest minds on the court in Kobe, Nash, and Pau...they could be like The Playing Coaches all over again ala Bill Russell. They could just remove the shackles of a system and just do what they do best-play basketball. That 5 games under interim coach Bickerstaff was the best I've seen this team all season and I just wanna see them play like that again-no pressure whatsoever and playing fun basketball. Who knows, the players might finally hold each other accountable and play for each other once and for all.
This season is quickly going down the drain and no answer is on sight. I rest my case for The Coach-Less Lakers. Player-coaches by the way are no longer allowed in the NBA due to collective bargaining restrictions. Here's a good read on The Case For Bringing Back Player-Coaches by Roger Pimentel.