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Steve Nash

Can Steve Nash build on the glimpses he gave the Lakers?

By every quantifiable metric, from the stat sheet to the training room to the league standings, this was far and away the worst season in Steve Nash’s Hall of Fame career.
 
He played in just 15 games during the regular season, 25 less than his previous career low…which took place during the strike-shortened 55-game 1999 season. His notoriously stratospheric shooting percentages plummeted to career lows across the board with the exception of his stroke from the free throw line. Offensively, his numbers cratered to near career-lows across the board, performing at a similar rate to his rookie season. Obviously all these numbers come with a huge caveat as they’re all a part of a very small, sporadic sample size, but perhaps that’s just the point.
 
Nash strung together consecutive games a scant few times during the season, including a five game stretch early in the year and a three-gamer in February. It was the most injured that he’d been in 17 years as a professional, with back, hip and hamstring problems stemming from a broken leg he suffered at the beginning of the 2012-2013 season. His absence was a primary culprit behind the Lakers’ 27-55 record, as the team was without a capable lead ballhandler in a Mike D’Antoni system for large stretches. At times, it looked like a sad end to the career of one of the greatest point guards of all time. He was literally and figuratively a shell of himself, looking like a spry youngster trapped in the body of a 40 year-old man. With Nash on the books for roughly $10MM next season, there’re serious questions as to whether or not he’ll ever take the floor again.
 
But here’s the dirty little secret: he can still go. And it might be the worst possible thing for the Lakers.
 
(Check out the rest at the Mothership, SS&R)

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Decoding the myths about Steve Nash

Before July 4th, 2012, there had never, ever been an excited Lakers fan when Steve Nash was coming to town. In fact, what everyone felt was most likely sheer terror.
 
Whether he was a Phoenix Sun or a Dallas Maverick, the perennial All-Star would come to LA with the expressed purpose of dissecting the Lakers defense and doling out assists that would sink any chance of free tacos. He was magnificent in every way, with a lifetime average of 15 points and almost 9 assists against the Show in addition to countless back-breaking, game-clinching shots. Watching Nash was like witnessing a well-choreographed boxing match–gorgeous, fluid and brutal, all while getting socked right in the face.
 
So when Lakers fans learned that he would be the team’s new point guard, they were both relieved and excited. One of the team’s biggest scourges was now one of their own, another piece of what many figured would be a championship puzzle. Dwight Howard joined the team a month later and fans began to make plans for a June parade. It was a genuinely exhilarating time to follow the team that many had figured had drifted past its championship contention window. I can remember stopping the festivities that Fourth of July, cutting out all…intake in order to concentrate and write an article for Silver Screen & Roll. It was glorious.
 
Almost two years later, here we are. And Lakers fans everywhere are right back to absolutely…reviling Steve Nash.
 
(To be continued at SS&R)

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Gauging the Lakers trade market value

Let’s face facts kids: this season is going nowhere. The Lakers are ten games out of playoff contention with their best player Kobe Bryant weeks–not days–away from rejoining the team. Nothing I’m writing is a surprise, of course, but it’s a strange, stark reality to grab a hold of the fact that the Los Angeles Lakers are sellers at the deadline rather than buyers.

 

Whether or not you believe the Lakers should actively “tank” the season, there’s no doubt that GM Mitch Kupchak and VP of Player Personnel Jim Buss will see their phones ringing off the hook. The Lakers have just three players under contract for next season, making any other talented man with an expiring contract on the roster a very palatable potential acquisition.

 

Just like in a winning season or even a mediocre one, there are reasons for the Lakers to keep some of their players, as well as reasons why other teams wouldn’t want them. It’s easy to yell out “Fire sale Mitch, fire sale!”, but a much more difficult action to execute. Even if you believe the Lakers should clear house to make way for future assets–whether they be young players or draft selections–there are so many inherent difficulties to doing so.

 

Thus, let’s take a look at just what type of market value each current Los Angeles Laker has, and what type of return, if any, that player could potentially fetch:

(Read on after the jump!)

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The inevitability of another cursed season

I’ve been angry, Silver Screen & Rollers. Very, very angry.
 
We’re watching one of the worst seasons possibly in the history of the Lakers franchise. One of the team’s–and the league’s–greatest players ever is on the shelf and soon facing the very real end of his career. Another all-time great, respected Lakers competitor and now starting point guard (well, according to his checks, anyway), isn’t just at his twilight–this may very well be the end. The team has been an absolutely horrible, injury-riddled mess, tumbling down the hill from 2012-2013 preseason title contenders to 2013-2014 lottery-bound losers.
 
Again, I am displeased. Very, very displeased.
 
Part of it is just how putrid the team has been on the court. It might very well be by design, but regardless of how much of a “plan for the future” type of team this is, a particularly terrible defense is unbearable to witness on a day to day basis. Friday’s bombardment at the hands of the Clippers was just the latest in unwatchable blowouts to old foes that the Lakers used to own.
 
But part of my discontented disposition is the fact that some people didn’t think it could be this way this year. Here is a summary of some of the thoughts I heard from around the internet, the Twitters, my e-mail inbox and in every day conversation:
 
“The Lakers couldn’t possibly be as unlucky as they were last year!”
 
“There is no way the Lakers will be as banged up as they were last season with Dwight, Kobe and Nash. It’s just not possible that the team could face a wave like that again.”
 
“With a little more luck, this team could be better than most people think.”
 
Well, here we are, nearly halfway through the season and lo and behold: different season, same disappointment.
 
(Finish up over at SS&R)

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A humbling year to come: Los Angeles Lakers Season Preview

Starting Five: PG Steve Nash, SG Steve Blake, SF Nick Young, PF Shawne Williams, C Pau Gasol
 
Key Bench Players: PG Jordan Farmar, SG Jodie Meeks, G/F Xavier Henry, F Wesley Johnson, PF/C Jordan Hill, C Chris Kaman
 
Offseason Additions: Chris Kaman, Jordan Farmar, Wesley Johnson, Xavier Henry, Nick Young, Shawne Williams, PF Ryan Kelly (48th overall pick)
 
Offseason Subtractions: C Dwight Howard, SF Metta World Peace, PF Antawn Jamison, F Earl Clark, PG Darius Morris, PG Chris Duhon
 
FACT OR FICTION: The Lakers will have a bottom-10 defense.

 
FACT. And therein lies the keys to this upcoming Lakers season. Inescapably, we are about to witness what should be one of the very worst defenses in the NBA. Looking at this team up, down and sideways, there is almost no feasible way that this squad has a reliable method of stopping oppositions from scoring. Right there without further need for an explanation, is a perfectly legitimate reason why this Lakers team won’t be sniffing realistic playoff goals within the last two months of the regular season.
 
Need further convincing? Well, you’ve come to the right place. … Read more...

The Lakers are building the facade of competing, but facing the reality of rebuilding

How do you appease a fan base that’s unaccustomed to losing, keep a Black Mamba from annihilating any front office official within striking distance and at the same time, keep a 2014 draft choice in the high lottery?
 
You take a lesson from Mitch Kupchak and Jimmy Buss. A master course, even. Class is in session.
 
The Lakers have just finished a wild 12-day span in which they saw all three players from last August’s mega-deal depart in one way or another (Chris Duhon, Earl Clark and some other guy), one post-season hero (and amazing post-Finals press conference giver) being waived for luxury tax reasons (Metta World Peace, née Ron Artest), while adding three veterans for less than $7 million (Chris Kaman, Nick Young and possibly Jordan Farmar).
 
With a 27-year-old franchise center leaving more money, an extra contract year and the lure of Southern California for a younger team with greater immediate promise in Houston, there have been calls–with loud, booming echoes–for the Lakers to completely rebuild. The reasons are multifaceted:
 
The team’s three primary pieces, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash, are all 33 years old and up, with each of them undergoing different surgeries over the past year. The asset cupboard besides them looks barren, as the Lakers will not have their 2015 first round draft selection (given up to the Phoenix Suns to acquire Nash), and the team doesn’t have a single blue chip prospect on board. The new collective bargaining agreement has almost completely restricted the team’s ability to find more help through sign-and-trade agreements or free agency, leaving several massive holes with cheap half-measure solutions. Even the small personnel maneuvers the Lakers can make come with the consequences of massive luxury tax penalties that affect the team exponentially if they remain over the limit three out of the next four seasons. The most resounding reason to rebuild may be revolving around the help that could be coming in just 11 months: the Lakers have their first round pick in seemingly decades (it’s been decades, right?) in the loaded 2014 draft.
 
As our own Ben Rosales has pointed out time and time again, next year’s draft could contain up to seven All-Star caliber prospects, including Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Marcus Smart and Jabari Parker. All of these players should be available to teams in the lottery, which the Lakers could easily be a part of…if they should decide to strip the team and rebuild. But at the moment, it doesn’t seem that that’s in the cards.
 
On first glance, you’ve got to laud Buss and Kupchak for grabbing so much experience with so little assets. All four recently signed free agents are still effective players to varying degrees, with skill sets all over the map. Young is just 27 years old with the ability to score 28 on any given night. He’s just two years removed from averaging 17 ppg for the Wizards on a .441/.387/.816 shooting slash line. His production has tapered off in the past two seasons (14 ppg and 10.4 ppg respectively) along with his three-point accuracy (.365 to .357 last year), though he should be able to play well off of Pau Gasol’s post game and Steve Nash’s on-ball wizardry. Kaman is 31, an All-Star just three seasons ago in 2010 and played well in 66 games for the Mavs last year, averaging 10 points and over 5 boards a game. Farmar played in Israel and Turkey the last two seasons, though he was last seen in New Jersey after bolt… Read more...

What went wrong with the 2012-2013 Los Angeles Lakers … front office?

(“What went wrong this season?” is the question we get the most from fans at Silver Screen & Roll. The 2012-2013 team had championship expectations, but a convergence of worst case scenarios kicked down LA to the the fringes of playoff contention. In this post series, we’ll be taking a look at just what went wrong with each part of the Los Angeles Lakers this year, how it affected the organization and if this could be a problem going forward. Check out our examinations of the guards, big men and head coaches from this past week.)

 

Off-season transactions

 

June 28, 2012: Selected C Robert Sacre with the 60th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft

 

July 11, 2012: Sign-and-trade deal for PG Steve Nash, 3 years, $28 million (traded a 2013 1st round draft pick, a 2013 2nd round draft pick, a 2014 2nd round draft pick and a 2015 1st round draft pick to the Phoenix Suns)

 

July 25, 2012: Signed PF Antawn Jamison for 1 year, $1.3 million

 

July 25, 2012: Re-signed PF Jordan Hill for 2 years, $8 million

 

August 10, 2012: Traded for C Dwight Howard, PG Chris Duhon and F Earl Clark, sending C Andrew Bynum to the Philadelphia 76ers and PF Josh McRoberts, PG Christian Eyenga and a 2017 1st round draft pick to the Orlando Magic

 

August 13, 2012: Signed SG Jodie Meeks to 2 years, $2.9 million (2nd year team option)

 

What went wrong with the 2012-2013 Los Angeles Lakers front office?

 

The team double-downed on age and experience, and it couldn’t have gone worse.

 

Four potential Hall of Famers, six former All-Stars and a boatload of expectations. What could go wrong?

 

Well, everything.

 

The Lakers went into last summer after two consecutive second round playoff exits with some serious questions and a capped-out roster that would make it potentially difficult to make any significant moves. Even with Derek Fisher on the team, LA had a significant hole at point guard, as well as one of the league’s most unproductive benches. Andrew Bynum had his healthiest season ever, earning his first spot on 1st Team All-NBA, but it was unclear whether or not he could be counted on as a max-contract player when he became a free agent in 2013. The Lakers looked like a very good but not great team on the downslide that would either have to completely rebuild or suffer a slow, withering death. It didn’t look great, to say the least.

 
(Read more after the break)

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What went wrong with the 2012-2013 Los Angeles Lakers … guards?

(“What went wrong this season?” is the question we get the most from fans at Silver Screen & Roll. The 2012-2013 team had championship expectations, but a convergence of worst case scenarios kicked down LA to the the fringes of playoff contention. In this post series, we’ll be taking a look at just what went wrong with each part of the Los Angeles Lakers this year, how it affected the organization and if this could be a problem going forward.)

 

SG Kobe Bryant: 78 games, 78 games started, 4 missed (for injury), 27.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 6.0 apg, .463/.324/.839

 

PG Steve Nash: 50 games, 50 games started, 32 missed, 12.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 6.7 apg, .497/.438/.922

 

PG Steve Blake: 45 games, 13 started, 37 missed, 7.3 ppg, 2.9, 3.8 apg, .422/.421/.771

 

SG Jodie Meeks: 78 games, 10 starts, 0 missed (for injury), 7.9 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 0.9 apg, .387/.357/.896

 

PG Darius Morris: 47 games, 17 starts, 4.0 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 1.6 apg, .388/.364/.649

 

PG Chris Duhon: 46 games, 9 starts, 2.9 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 2.9 apg, .382/.363/.462

 

What went wrong with the Lakers guards?

 

Even more than the front court, injuries, which in part led to offensive inconsistency.

 

It seems redundant to mention it, but injuries absolutely killed the Lakers guards, perhaps even to a greater degree than the bigs. The pair of points named Steve were originally forecast to have the lion’s share of minutes this year, breaking down opposing defenses and at times, playing off each other when Kobe needed a rest. Instead, they missed a combined 69 games, Blake with an abdominal tear and Nash with a broken leg and nerve irritation affecting his hip and hamstring. Bryant tore his Achilles tendon in game no. 80, which was the first step in derailing whatever shot the team had of making any noise against the San Antonio Spurs in the postseason.

 
(Read the rest over at SS&R)… Read more...

Injuries–not the coach or front office–are what’s killed the 2012-2013 Los Angeles Lakers

(My latest from Silver Screen & Roll)
 
In early January, the Los Angeles Lakers went through an almost unthinkable wave of injuries. Within a two-game span, the team’s entire big man rotation crumbled with a laundry list of various maladies; Dwight Howard with a torn labrum in his right shoulder, Pau Gasol with a brutal concussion after an errant JaVale McGee elbow and reserve Jordan Hill with a torn labrum in his left hip. At the time, it was frankly implausible that this could happen all at once. The Lakers had already been snake bitten all season long, with Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Gasol missing huge chunks of games with various injuries. The thought of one star going down was devastating enough–but a coach’s entire front court getting hurt? All in a 48-hour period? Ridiculous.
 
And then it happened again.
 
During Game 2 in the opening round of the playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs, Mike D’Antoni’s back court rotation cratered with various physical problems. In addition to Kobe Bryant (ruptured left Achilles tendon) and Jodie Meeks (sprained left ankle) being on the shelf in the past week, Steve Blake strained his hamstring, while Steve Nash aggravated an already painful nerve irritation affecting his back, hip and hamstring. Blake has already been ruled out for tonight’s game, while Nash and Meeks are listed as doubtful. It appears that much like that fateful 48 hour period in early January, what remains of an already fragile Lakers guards corps has gone down in 3 short days.
 
The odds of this happening once, let alone twice is of course, astronomical. With the exception of Antawn Jamison (who has been playing through a painful tear in his right wrist) and Earl Clark (who only began to play during the aforementioned January apocalypse on any man 6’11” and above), every single Lakers rotation player has missed time with injury, almost all of them serious health concerns. To punch the point home, let’s go to the tape:
 
Steve Nash: Missed 32 games (Hip/back/hamstring: 8 games, fractured right fibula: 24 games)
 
Steve Blake: Missed 37 games (Torn abdominal muscle: 37 games, strained right hamstring: 0 games, but out for tonight’s game)
 
Pau Gasol: Missed 33 games (Tendinitis both knees: 8 games, concussion: 5 games, right plantar fascia tear: 20 games)
 
Jordan Hill: Missed 53 games (Torn labrum/damaged cartilage left hip: 53 games)
 
Dwight Howard: Missed 6 games (Torn labrum right shoulder: 6 games)
 
Metta World Peace: Missed 6 games (Right torn meniscus: 6 games)
 
Kobe Bryant: Missed 6 games (Left ankle sprain: 2 games, ruptured left Achilles tendon: 4 games)
 
Jodie Meeks: Missed 0 games (Left ankle sprain: 0 games, but expected to miss tonight’s contest)
 
(Read on after the jump)

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To see how “a potential juggernaut” can go wrong, the 2013 Dodgers must look to the 2013 Lakers

This offseason was one of the most anticipated in Los Angeles franchise history. The entire industry looked to So Cal as the front office made massive moves that changed the complexion of the league. Though there were minor transactions in the form of tasty appetizers, the main course was yet another superstar player joining the team. Though it seemed for the past year that any person who had paid attention to the sport knew that he was eventually going to end up in the City of Angels, the fanfare was just as pronounced.
 
The payroll skyrocketed to another dimensions, forgoing any potential consequence of a soon dramatically changing luxury tax, the harshest penalties of which are reserved for those who repeatedly go over the set salary line. Of course, none of this mattered with brand new television contracts guaranteeing the team literally billions of dollars over the next twenty years. The organization spent and spent, with each new acquisition leading to an e-mail or text from my dad saying “And we got that guy too?”. These new offseason personnel additions–not one, not two, but several–aren’t without their questions. Concerns regarding how close or far these players are from the ends of their careers, their game-time potency and most importantly, how well each guy will catalyze with a team full of highly compensated stars are key to a successful season. As much as throwing money on the situation can help, there’s no telling how well these men will play together and how they’ll deal with the massive expectations set in front of them.
 
As if those weren’t high-profile problems enough, the squad is led by young coach will be tested with the hardest task of his career: having to soothe the egos of players making $10, $15 and $20+ millions of dollars annually, while figuring out a rotation that is certain not to make everyone happy.  Expectations are higher than they’ve ever been in Los Angeles, where an appearance in the championship round is merely a prerequisite, not a goal. The only measure of this team–in how much it cost to assemble the prospects and future considerations it took to do so–is hoisting high that gold trophy at season’s end. In Southern California, it’s not just championship or bust–it’s championship or “who are you?”. There is no alternative.
 
I was just talking about the Los Angeles Lakers.
 
I was just talking about the Los Angeles Dodgers.
 
For a fan base stretching from Lancaster to Long Beach, imaging a season gone horribly wrong shouldn’t be much further away than a drive on the 5 freeway.… Read more...