(Beginning with today, every Monday or Tuesday throughout the year will be home to Week Side Help. WSH will provide some commentary, rankings, and even preview the weeks hottest games. Stay Tuned!)
Lakers Pick DAntoni Over Jackson? Who cares? Mike Brown is Gone.
When Phil Jackson retired as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers after the 2011 season, his last post-game interview as the Lakers’ Zen Master shed much light on the qualities that a future Lakers’ coach would need. In short, Jackson said he may not have been the best with X’s and O’s, but the ability to coach talent was his most important factor.
“I’ll sum it up that talent wins. I’ve coached some of the greatest talent to play the game. The strengths I have are probably about community and about groups, about chemistry on a team,” responded Jackson when asked about his greatest strengths and weaknesses as a coach in that final interview.
When Mike Brown was hired to replace Jackson heading into the 2012 season, I thought the choice was a bad one to say the least. Not to change sports, but when the Boston Red Sox hired Bobby Valentine this past season, remember how everyone knew that hiring him just wouldn’t work? Yeah? Well it felt like déjà vu. When Brian Shaw, among others, seemed a much better fit for the job especially on a philosophical level, Mike Brown had what others didn’t, which was experience coaching high-level talent. Coaching LeBron James was something that obviously enticed the Lakers’ ownership group, and they figured Brown would be able to mesh the multiple big names on the roster including the Black Mamba, Kobe Bryant.
Bobby Valentine has never been good at handling egos in the dugout. This is due in large part because he wishes no ego to be larger than his own. In the case of Mike Brown, even Stevie Wonder would have no problem seeing that LeBron didn’t fully support Brown after the 2011 “early” exit from the playoffs, eventually culminating in James taking “his talents to South Beach.” If there were no clearer red flag that Mike Brown couldn’t handle L.A., it’s the fact that LeBron left for greener pastures and Brown was left without a job, that is, until the Lakers came calling.
The timing of Brown’s firing was almost as questionable as the Thunder’s timing in trading James Harden, but the adjustment will be fine with D’Antoni at the helm. Steve Nash is literally the best option for a D’Antoni team. Literally. D’Antoni over Phil Jackson? Short term, no. Long term, maybe. Regardless, imagine if Jackson was never in the equation. D’Antoni is undoubtedly a step up from Mike Brown. He’s been in the limelight and has had success with or without big-name players.
Kobe himself has called into question his unlikelihood of playing past his current contract that calls for a simultaneous planning of the future while planning from the present. Steve Nash would be as useless in the triangle offense as in the Princeton offense they had been running. Lastly, D’Antoni does have a history of turning dirt into diamonds with no better example than that of last year’s Linsanity.
You may think D’Antoni is similar to Mike Brown in that he was shooed out of town after not being able to handle a superstar player. But in his case, there were rumors that he never wanted to trade for Carmelo Anthony in the first place and that multiple players of the Knicks loved their time under D’Antoni. Carmelo never bought in like he is now, but I cant blame that on DAntoni.
Time will tell if D’Antoni works out for the Lakers, and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to say, “I Told You So.”
Whos Hot/Whos Not?
Jrue Holiday is on fire right now. Through 6 games hes averaging nearly 20 points and 10 assists each game. In watching him play, hes flourishing in the role of being the full-time play maker for the offense. His play will have to remain at a high level since it has now come out that Andrew Bynum wont be available until January at the earliest.
Tyreke Evans is off to an interesting start this season. Shooting a lackluster 36% from the field has his scoring way down at 11 points per game. Watching a few of his games this year, its clear that Tyreke is uncomfortable in whatever his role is supposed to be in Sacramento. Evans is at his best when hes attacking the rim but has seemed to shy away from that ever since the Kings brought in 23 combo guards each of the past few off seasons.
Week Side Help Game(s) of the Week:
Tuesday: Spurs @ Lakers
This should make for an interesting game and could be a preview of the Western Conference Finals. DAntoni (smartly) wont be on the sidelines as he isnt expected to hit L.A. until Wednesday. Still, Im looking forward to this one as Im sure the guys at TNT will have some interesting things to say about the whole situation.
Wednesday: Thunder @ Grizzlies
Wednesday: Heat @ Clippers
Both of these Wednesday night match ups are big tests for the Grizzlies and the Clippers as they look to show if their early season success is legitimate. Meanwhile, Miami is starting to battle with injuries while the Thunder are obviously still figuring things out.
The Top Ten:
(standings as of Monday morning)
- New York Knicks (4-0)
- San Antonio Spurs (6-1)
- Miami Heat (5-2)
- Los Angeles Clippers (5-2)
- Memphis Grizzlies (5-1)
- Oklahoma City Thunder (5-2)
- Chicago Bulls (4-2)
- Philadelphia Sixers (4-2)
- Denver Nuggets (4-3)
- Dallas Mavericks (4-3)
Im excluding the Lakers from the top 10 based on the fact that theyve looked awful until Mike Browns firing meshed with a lighter schedule. The Knicks should come down to Earth a bit, but Carmelo has looked monstrous. Lastly, I expect the Nuggets to rise as they look to have some home games after starting off the season on a three-game road trip.