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OutletPass
05-16-2003, 12:04 PM
Sifting through the rubble in L.A.
By Chad Ford
NBA Insider
Send an Email to Chad Ford Friday, May 16
Updated: May 16
10:55 AM ET


It has been awhile since we've seen Shaq and Kobe sitting on the bench, looking up at the scoreboard with that forlorn look of defeat in their eyes.


Derek Fisher struggled to fight back the tears. Robert Horry hung his head in disgust. Mark Madsen's bright smile had disappeared along with the Lakers' chances at a four-peat.

Ding Dong, the undefeatable Los Angeles Lakers are dead.

The question now, as Phil Jackson and GM Mitch Kupchak sift through the rubble of a once mighty franchise this summer, is whether they'll ever be the same again.

"Sometimes losing clarifies your position," Jackson told reporters after the game. "It makes it clear what you need to do. It's not an appropriate time to talk about that right now."

Of course, then he went on to talk about it.

"We haven't provided ourselves with the best overall personnel we needed for this basketball club. That bore itself out when we had some injuries. We have a nucleus that I'm excited about. I'm excited about replacing players who are going to be moving on. I'm very optimistic, and the fans should be very optimistic."

Really? Only Kobe, Shaq and Fisher managed to average double digits in the playoffs. While losing Rick Fox was a major blow, it wasn't like he was lighting it up before he fell. Fox was averaging just six points in the Lakers' first four playoff games.

It's difficult to tell whether Jackson was pointing the finger at Kupchak. He shouldn't. A well-placed source within the Lakers claims Kupchak tried to get several deals done over the course of the season, only to have them vetoed by Jackson each time.

The latest had Jackson refusing to part with Horry and Samaki Walker at the trade deadline, despite getting offers that could have landed L.A. Lorenzen Wright and Stromile Swift or Austin Croshere.

Horry averaged 5.6 ppg on 32 percent shooting in 12 playoff games this spring. He shot 26 percent from the field in the Spurs series. The Lakers hold a $5.3 million option on Horry this summer, and he's understandably nervous.

"I'm taking it personally. I felt like I let everybody in this organization down, especially with my play. I just flat-out sucked," Horry told the L.A. Daily News. "I haven't played this bad since I was a rookie, and I don't think I was that bad as a rookie."

Kobe chose his words carefully.

"Everybody knows what Rob can do," Bryant said. "He didn't have a good playoff series, but he's done well for us in the playoffs before. ... Personally, I can't really sit up here and say get rid of this guy and get rid of that guy. I can't really form those words."

I can.

The Lakers will have $55 million in committed salaries next season if they decide not to pick up their option on Horry's contract. They shouldn't. As big as Horry has been in big games for L.A. in the past, he isn't worth the $5.3 million he'd make next season when you consider the Lakers would also have to pay a $5.3 million luxury-tax penalty as well.

It doesn't take a genius to see how royally the Lakers screwed this up. They likely will lose Horry for nothing this summer. Given how well Swift played toward the end of the season, someone in L.A. has to be kicking himself.

The contracts of Walker, Madsen, Tracy Murray and Brian Shaw also come off the books this summer, leaving the Lakers with seven players under contract (Shaq, Kobe, Fisher, Fox, Devean George, Slava Medvedenko and Kareem Rush) going into the summer, assuming they don't pick up Horry's option.

How will they fill the empty slots? It won't be easy. With no cap room, a late-first-round draft pick and a payroll still over the luxury-tax threshold, Kupchak and Jackson will have their work cut out for them.

Their first order of business will be to lure a top veteran free agent with their mid-level exception. Over the last month we've heard all of the names.

Gary Payton. Karl Malone. Scottie Pippen. Juwan Howard. P.J. Brown.

With the exception of Brown, none has ever had to play third fiddle. Payton and Malone especially may chafe at a role on a team where two other players dominate the ball on every possession. Both players claim they're looking seriously at L.A., but chances are it's a negotiation ploy more than anything else. No one believes Payton or Malone will leave serious money on the table unless it was to join a sure-fire contender like the Lakers.

Pippen would be a better fit, but chronic injuries may scare the Lakers off. With Fox already looking like he might miss the entire season next year, they can't afford to blow all of their money on a guy who may not make it more than 50 games.

Brown would help the team defensively and give it a big boost on the boards, but can the Lakers afford to use all their money on a guy who simply isn't a threat to score? It worked for Phil in Chicago with Dennis Rodman, but I'm not sure Brown has that much juice left in him.

Howard would be a great fit. He's unselfish, can score on the perimeter or in the paint and seems more comfortable when someone else is taking the lead. He proved in Denver that he can be a good soldier, and he still has plenty of life in his legs. In other words, he wouldn't be a one-year patch-up job. But will Howard really take less money to play in L.A.?


Maybe. The Nuggets keep insisting they are going to make him an offer (presumably for more than the mid-level exception) to keep him in Denver. Several other interesting teams, like the Pistons and Sonics, are expected to make a strong run at him this summer, as well. But ultimately Howard's best shot at winning, something that has eluded him his entire career, would be in L.A.

But Howard alone won't make the difference. The Lakers would still be four players away from a full roster. They're likely to re-sign Madsen, and their first-round pick will count as another man, bringing their roster to 10.

If Fox is ruled medically incapable of playing next season, the Lakers' could get a disabled-player exception. Fox makes $4.7 million next season, so the Lakers could get an extra $2.35 million in cap relief (50 percent of the player's salary). However, they can't combine that exception with their mid-level to sign a more high-profile player.

Another tough post player like Tyrone Hill, Scott Williams or Predrag Drobnjak may be perfect here.

The Lakers will also have the $1.5 million veteran's exception available.

Will that be enough to put the Lakers back on top next season?

For the first time in a long time, the Lakers are looking up at the competition, not down on it.

"We've gotten a little bit older, and this year we suffered some injuries," said Jackson. "This year we stumbled, we fell, we had inconsistencies, we lacked some discipline as a basketball club and we paid the price for it. We're happy to say we tried our best, but it wasn't good enough."

Will they ever be good enough again?

LRB
05-16-2003, 12:33 PM
Thanks for the article OP. Isn't it wonderful to hear the Lakeshow scrambling around without a clue. i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif

mavsfanforever
05-16-2003, 02:13 PM
Losing Jerry West to Memphis was a major blow.

LRB
05-16-2003, 02:18 PM
<< Losing Jerry West to Memphis was a major blow. >>



Shaq losing 50 lbs would be a major success.

WayOutWest
05-16-2003, 02:25 PM
<< Losing Jerry West to Memphis was a major blow. >>



You need to do a little research, Lakers didn't lose Jerry to anyone other than Jerry's health.

WayOutWest
05-16-2003, 02:37 PM
Mitch Cupcake called a press conference for today at 3:00 p.m.

General concensus is Samaki and Murry are definately gone. Shaw and Horry probably gone. Madsen takes league minimun or he's gone. Pargo and Fisher on the trade bubble.

MFFL
05-16-2003, 04:02 PM
<< You need to do a little research, Lakers didn't lose Jerry to anyone other than Jerry's health.
>>



Yeah. Sure. Phil Jackson had nothing to do with West leaving.

WayOutWest
05-16-2003, 04:04 PM
<<

<< You need to do a little research, Lakers didn't lose Jerry to anyone other than Jerry's health.
>>



Yeah. Sure. Phil Jackson had nothing to do with West leaving. >>



That is correct. Jerry said on record that he would love to bring in PJ as a coach in Memphis.

OutletPass
05-19-2003, 11:59 AM
ESPN Insider now reporting that they're looking at Juwan Howard. All things considered, I'd bet that juwan wouldn't mind being back here.

Anyone wanta bet that he comes back ?

LRB
05-19-2003, 12:00 PM
I aske this question in the thread on Garnett, but wanted to ask it here also.


What about the possiblity of a Shaq for KG trade?

OutletPass
05-19-2003, 12:05 PM
Take a nap, Brother LRB...this ain't gonna happen.

Ummmmm Ok
05-19-2003, 12:07 PM
Enough speculating and lets get down to reality, I could see Howard back in Dallas next year as well as Oggy. Both will split the MLE. As much as I would hate to see it, I could &quot;really&quot; see that.

If I am not mistaken Howard has a house in the DFW area and he has made enough money to live on an island somewhere and retire if he wanted too, so money can't or shouldn't be an option.

I just hope like hell Oggy is just half as good as they say he is. If he is, I would probably be okay with Howard being a backup to Dirk, but its just so tempting to look at what we COULD get.

Just remember that Mladen is our future SG, and I would assume that Nelson is looking at Oggy as the future SF. Dirk turns 25 in mid June, so Dirk is our future at PF.

TheNightfly
05-19-2003, 06:37 PM
<<

That is correct. Jerry said on record that he would love to bring in PJ as a coach in Memphis. >>



Jerry is one of the friendliest, most honorable guys in the world and that is the only reason he said that about his philosophical counterpart.

MFFL
05-19-2003, 07:06 PM
<<

<<

<< You need to do a little research, Lakers didn't lose Jerry to anyone other than Jerry's health.
>>



Yeah. Sure. Phil Jackson had nothing to do with West leaving. >>



That is correct. Jerry said on record that he would love to bring in PJ as a coach in Memphis. >>



I'm sure he would. Absolutely. Maybe PJ could date the daughter of the owner of the Memphis team as well. I'm sure that little tidbit had nothing to do with Jerry leaving the Lakers. Of course not.

If you believe the PR crap coming out of their mouths then I have some swamp land to sell you.

WayOutWest
05-20-2003, 10:22 AM
<<

<<

<<

<< You need to do a little research, Lakers didn't lose Jerry to anyone other than Jerry's health.
>>



Yeah. Sure. Phil Jackson had nothing to do with West leaving. >>



That is correct. Jerry said on record that he would love to bring in PJ as a coach in Memphis. >>



I'm sure he would. Absolutely. Maybe PJ could date the daughter of the owner of the Memphis team as well. I'm sure that little tidbit had nothing to do with Jerry leaving the Lakers. Of course not.

If you believe the PR crap coming out of their mouths then I have some swamp land to sell you. >>



If you believe your own BS than I've got a bridge I'd like to trade for that swamp land. I base my opinion on whats Jerry has said about the health problems he's had throughout his adult life. The torture he puts himself through is unbelievable and finally got to a breaking point durring the Shaq/Kobe era. Again, do a little research.

MavKikiNYC
05-20-2003, 10:32 AM
<<

<<

<< You need to do a little research, Lakers didn't lose Jerry to anyone other than Jerry's health.
>>



Yeah. Sure. Phil Jackson had nothing to do with West leaving. >>



That is correct. Jerry said on record that he would love to bring in PJ as a coach in Memphis. >>



What makes you think he wasn't referring to Carlesimo?

MFFL
05-20-2003, 10:51 PM
<< Again, do a little research. >>



You ain't worth the effort. You can't prove your statement that their comments were anything other than PR.

WayOutWest
05-21-2003, 10:04 AM
<<

<< Again, do a little research. >>



You ain't worth the effort. You can't prove your statement that their comments were anything other than PR. >>



Did you not get the same impression with the first &quot;do a little research&quot; comment? For starters, try and catch the Beyond the Glory episode about Jerry West, that might help get you a clue.

MFFL
05-21-2003, 12:08 PM
<<

<<

<< Again, do a little research. >>



You ain't worth the effort. You can't prove your statement that their comments were anything other than PR. >>



Did you not get the same impression with the first &quot;do a little research&quot; comment? For starters, try and catch the Beyond the Glory episode about Jerry West, that might help get you a clue. >>



Again you aren't worth the effort. And I did watch the episode. All the time I was thinking &quot;What loyality - Jerry West is covering for the Lakers despite what they did to him&quot;. But you saw something different. But there was a book written about the West-Laker breakup - try reading a book instead of watching TV.

Fidel
05-21-2003, 12:35 PM
<< Just remember that Mladen is our future SG >>


Uuuuh I hope not. I donīt think heīs all that good.