NBA Hot Take 1–14–18
Unraveling the latest Laker rumors
Last week, at the tail end of a 9-game losing streak, the biggest loud mouth this side of the Oval office claimed that “the Lakers don’t want to play for Luke Walton.”
In response, the Lakers beat Atlanta by 19, Sacramento by 13 and then the Spurs by 12, holding San Antonio to 81 points. This modest 3-game winning streak raised the Lakers’ record to 14–27, good for 5th worse in the league. So much for the cloud of hot air drifting out of Lithuania, right?
The day after the big win against the Spurs, Brian Windhorst “broke” the big story that “the Lakers do not support Luke Walton,” saying other NBA executives are wondering openly “I wonder who the Lakers are going to hire as their new coach… because that has been revealed here that they do not have unconditional support for Luke.”
He went on to connect all kinds of far-fetched dots that the Lakers will talk to Dave Fisdale, an ex-Heat assistant who is close to Lebron James, as this will somehow help bring the King to Los Angeles.
Notice that there is not one word about Laker sources. This is simply the reaction of the media because the Lakers management decided not to respond to the rantings of Lonzo’s fraudulent father (note: a Los Angeles talk show personality cancelled his order for a pair of Big Baller shoes, after not receiving shoe he paid for in November).
OMG, the Lakers are in crisis!
The team “showed” their unwillingness to play for Walton by playing ferocious defense to overcome a 4th quarter 10-point deficit to win an overtime game at Dallas, in spite of an injury to Brandon Ingram and a huge disparity of fouls called in the favor of a home team that doesn’t do much more than jack up 3-pointers (43 in the game).
Normally, when teams without a superstar pull together on both sides of the ball, it’s a sign of team unity and trust. So, how do we explain this behavior if the team is no longer is listening to their coach?
Let’s use Occam’s razor to cut through this manufactured media manure to find the simplest and most probable truth about these rumors.
If the rumors are true, what is the motivation for the Lakers to dump Walton?
- The Lakers front office want to prove that the lying loins from which Lonzo sprung actually control the team. WRONG — it would make Magic and Pelinka look like idiot puppets and lose the credibility needed to sign free agents next year.
- It will disrupt the team and put them into a free fall, which will help them get a top draft pick. WRONG — Their first round pick has already been traded.
- Hiring a guy who is friends with Lebron BEFORE he signs a deal with the Lakers will help bring him to the Lakers. WRONG — there is no guarantee that Lebron is coming, but if he does, he’ll tell them which coach he wants to bring in.
- Destabilizing a young team will make the players play better, so they will be more valuable when the Lakers try to make trades. WRONG — young players have enough difficulty learning how to play together without completely changing the team’s offensive and defensive philosophy. One reason the Lakers have been terrible the last four years has been the merry-go-round of coachs: Mike Brown, Mike D’Antoni, and Byron Scott. Under Luke Walton, the team culture has been transformed, and they are showing huge improvements in almost every statistical category: #1 in pace, #1 points in the paint, #1 in transition frequency, #3 in rebounds, #6 in steals, #7 assists, #7 blocks, #10 defensive rating. The only areas where they are still bad, are turnovers (#29), free throw percentage (#30), and 3-point percentage (#30). While they won’t improve their shooting much from beyond the arc, they could improve in the other two categories, which would help them win more close games this season, and continue the rebuilding process I’ve written about here, here and here.
If the rumors are false, what is the motivation for people to spread malicious rumors about Walton?
- By destabilizing the team, the GMs of other teams will know the Lakers are desperate to move unhappy players. TRUE — This will make it more likely other teams will get good young players at bargain basement prices.
- By destabilizing the team, they will lose more games and drop lower in the rankings. TRUE — the NBA Draft Lottery assigns different numbers of ping pong balls based on team rankings, giving the teams with the worst records the highest chance of drawing a top draft pick.
- Publicity about internal strike within the Lakers organization is a popular topic among the large group of people who hate the Lakers. TRUE — Advertising revenue is based on how much coverage each story gets.
- People love to hate on the Lakers, even though the Celtics have abused the league with their incestuous trades (Kevin McHale gifts former teammate Danny Ainge with Kevin Garnett) and taking advantage of dumb, blind Russian billionaires (the Nets draft pick bonanza in exchange for the corpses of Paul Pearce-Kevin Garnett).
So, who reallly benefits from the Lakers being torn apart internally?
- The Lakers want more, not less value for any players they trade, and the Lakers don’t care about getting generating advertising revenue for ESPN, so that eliminates them.
- The team that controls the Lakers’ first draft pick will benefit more as the Lakers lose more games. Philadelphia, currently owns the Lakers #1 draft pick if it turns out to be the number one overall pick, or if it falls between #6 and #14.
- Boston will get the pick if the Lakers draft from second to fifth. And if you listen to Bill Simmons or every Celtic fan who comments on ESPN stories, their favorite subject is hoping that the Lakers pick will be high enough to go to Boston.
After today’s win, the Lakers now have the 6th worst record in the NBA. A win against a bad Memphis team on Monday would place them in a tie for 10th worst record, which would all but guarantee the pick staying in Philadelphia’s possession. From this, I think we have the simplest and therefore, the most probable explanation.
J’accuse, Boston pig dogs!
To paraphrase the great French writer Émile Zola, along with the castle guards in Monty Python’s Holy Grail, I believe the Celtics are behind these vile rumors, and to them I say:
I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of lobster rolls. Fetchez la vache!
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