Phil Jackson Done With Lakers After Next Season

I’m guessing this isn’t necessarily at the forefront of Laker fans’ minds considering the team went to the finals last year and appear poised for another run this year. Still, despite the strong start and the focus on the matter at hand, what Phil Jackson supposedly dropped in an interview with Magic Johnson will certainly change discussions. From Rotoworld:

Lakers coach Phil Jackson said Friday he plans on retiring after coaching the Lakers next season. “One more year after this one with the Lakers,” Jackson told Magic Johnson during an interview that will air during Sunday’s game. Jackson had hip replacement surgery two years in a row and needed a walking cane to get around for much of last season.

I’m not sure where that cut came from — maybe it was teased during Friday’s Mavericks/Pistons game that was such a blowout I didn’t bother watching. The Lakers host the Spurs Sunday on ABC, so I’m guessing that’s when all the talk will commence. The big question after that point is pretty clear: who will replace him? The job is appealing for obvious reasons — Kobe and Pau being the most visible ones. It will be hard to imagine Phil walking away without having won a championship since returning to the team and I’m guessing he’d be done for good if he does retire after next season. You think this will spark some “let’s win one for the Gipper” behavior amongst the players? Is that why he’s dropping this now? Or is he trying to get the ball rolling on a new multi-million dollar contract?

Kobe’s Done Playing GM with Lakers

If you remember, and it’s pretty hard to forget, last summer was Kobe’s Armageddon. There was the flip-flopping and questioning whether he even wanted to be a Laker. But then Andrew Bynum started putting up double-doubles, and the tension was eased. And once Pau Gasol was acquired, Kobe was campaigning for Mitch Kupchak to be Executive of the Year. Or something like that. Well now that the Lakers have a pretty complete team that looks set to make a deep playoff run for the next several seasons, Kobe says he’s done telling Kupchak how to run the team:

“I’m comfortable with what we have,” he said. “Whatever Mitch decides to do, he decides to do. It’s more of a relaxing summer for me because I know we have an opportunity to win. It’s exciting.

“You’re all trying to see if I’m going to do Mitch’s job for him this summer,” Bryant said, smiling. “I’m not. I leave it up to him. He’s done a great job of building this team.”

Danny Ainge got a ton of credit for building the Celtics. He won the accolades and his team won the title to boot. But Mitch Kupchak deserves a lot of credit for not trading Kobe despite the demands, drafting and holding on to Bynum, and acquiring Pau Gasol. And, another reason why I think Kobe made those comments, is because he and Mitch are probably on the same page about Lamar Odom already. And outside of moving Odom, I can’t imagine the Lakers making many changes.

Lakers Already Making Moves, Odom?

Funny the way things work. Two weeks ago, the Lakers were the toast of the NBA, a near cinch to win the title. Then, in a matter of games, they have become a so-called mess. We’ve already decided here that the Lakers would be back and that this is just the beginning of a new era in Laker basketball. That’s more than I can say for the mentality of others in this city. It’s already the Laker therapy line locally, and it didn’t even take long after the game for players to say changes were needed (e.g. defensive toughness). Your first likely change? Lamar Odom to go, according to the LA Times.

Then there’s Odom’s $14-million salary, as the Lakers assume as much as $90 million in additional salary and luxury tax over the next three seasons with Gasol.

However, from the day they made the trade, the Lakers never thought they would end up paying that much, suggesting they were already thinking of moving Odom.

Indeed, Odom was in their package for Gasol until Memphis owner Michael Heisley took him out, asking for lesser players who afforded more cap relief.

You probably didn’t even need to hear the money side of the issue to guess Odom would be gone. With Bynum coming back next year, someone will have to go, and you know it won’t be Pau. Besides, was there any player more Jeckyll and Hyde in the playoffs this year than Odom? I like the guy, but man, his inconsistency has to drive you nuts, not to mention his fluctuating health. He’ll be someone else’s mess before too long, most likely.

Who Said Laker Fans were Wusses?

Sometimes words are not needed. Enjoy.

That’s what happens when you come to LA and root for the other team. Got that? And you thought LA fans were soft? Uhhhhhh!!!!! That’s what we’re all about. Not really. I guess those were some hooligans watching Game 2 at Staples Center. Next time use some common sense, buddy, instead of rolling with Celtics colors to the arena of the opposing team.

Via FanIQ

Refs Screwing the Lakers?

Another significant playoff game gone by, another critical performance by the referees. I didn’t have the sound on while watching the game so I have no idea what was and wasn’t said by the commentary team, but there was no question that the boxscore painted a clear picture of free throw disparity between the two teams. Now let’s not make a mistake about things here — we heard a similar argument all throughout the playoffs. Wasn’t the same thing said about the Lakers/Jazz series? Wasn’t there a no-call on Derek Fisher against Brent Barry in the Conference Finals? The home team usually gets the calls in the playoffs it’s said, and Game 2 would fit in with that idea. Just ask Lakers coach Phil Jackson:

“I’m more struck by the fact that Leon Powe gets more foul shots than our whole team does in (Powe’s) 14 minutes of play,” Jackson said, even mispronouncing the Celtic forward’s name to add insult to his 13-10 free throw edge. “That’s ridiculous.

“You can’t play from a deficit like that; that we had in that half, 19-2 in the first half. I’ve never seen a game like that in all these years I’ve coached in the Finals. Unbelievable.”

One thing I would say is that there’s an inherent problem with analyzing the final free throw margin. Usually the team that’s ahead in the 4th quarter will wind up shooting 10 more free throws in the game just over the last few minutes, and the home team is typically ahead. So is it the home team getting the calls, or is it home court that perpetuates this situation? I think the 19-2 figure tells us the answer — the calls were unbalanced in this case. Here’s another thing: most people and media members are quick to act after seeing one side of a series. You can’t react or judge a series until you’ve seen each team play at home. When the Celtics are getting blown out by 20 points in Games 3 and 4, which is bound to happen, it will be a different tone. One thing that won’t change however, is that the Celtics have home court advantage. Maybe those four at the Garden will make the difference. We’ll wait and see.

Foul on Derek Fisher or No Foul?

I suppose another way of asking the same question is: should the refs be blowing the whistle that late in the game? In case you missed the close play or want to see it again, here it is, because it’s pretty clear there’s a lot of contact.

That looks a lot like a foul, and I’ll go on the side that says Brent Barry should have been put on the line. But it’s not something I’m going to waste much oxygen on. The Lakers were in charge the entire game, leading the whole way. If the Spurs wanted to win, they had 48 minutes to ensure the game wouldn’t be put in the referees’ hands for the final seconds, which they let happen. Now one conspiracy theory issue is something BP pointed out at Awful Announcing prior to the game: Joe Crawford was reffing it. The same Joe Crawford who kicked Duncan out of a game last year for laughing. No nonsense Joe Crawford, who was responsible for the non-call on Fisher. I wouldn’t blame him for the loss — far from it — but I do think this is a great side note.

Lamar Odom: Lakers Wanted the Spurs

When most players are asked about an opponent they prefer to face, they usually stay pretty P.C. on the issue giving the “We don’t care who we play” line, or the “We’ll come out ready to play regardless of who the opponent is.” That’s kind of what I expected from Lamar Odom on the subject when he joined Tim Montemayor on Sporting News Radio. Instead, Odom volunteered that the Lakers wanted to face the Spurs in the Conference Finals:

To play against them is really significant for us — it’s a challenge that we’re ready for. We’re ready to compete at the highest level, to play our A-game every night, and may the best team win. We were rooting that the Spurs won the series.

I figure most people would associate wanting the Hornets as taking easy way out, even though New Orleans was the two seed. The Spurs are the veteran team, battle-tested, and full of playoff experience — they’re the defending champs. Odom’s comments that they wanted the Spurs makes me think the Lakers are playing with confidence and that they feel they want to knock off all the top dogs on the way to the title. Well, Lamar got his wish, now it’s on him to deliver the goods.