The never ending story of D-12 and the LA Lakers has reached a new high this past week. The questions we all want to know, is Dwight the problem or is it the situation he has put himself? When I say the situation he put himself in I mean, the fact that he opted into his contract in the last year and created this whole mess. All he had to do was join Brooklyn as a Free Agent instead of forcing the Magic to trade him to a place he never wanted to go in the first place.
There are a few scenarios that play into this Dwightmare. Coaching and the LA ownership, Dwight himself and the players around him.
Pau, Kobe, Nash and Dwight:
Pau Gasol: Pau Gasol’s career has hit a bump in the road to say the least. The 2 time NBA champion has been relegated to bench player status by coach MDA and Pau’s game seems to clash with the D’Antoni system. Having such a skilled big man in the post with the passing skills that Pau is blessed with but not being applied properly is a crime in my opinion. Dwight and Kobe directly suffer from this problem.
Kobe: What can you say about Kobe, true Hall of Famer and one of the best players of all time. He has done it all and at this point in his career wants to go out on top. He has impressed me with his support of Dwight and the MDA system; however he is definitely frustrated and looks to be at the end of the line with Dwight’s cavalier attitude and relaxed personality. Kobe is all business on and off the court and I am wondering how much more he can take of Dwight and the MDA system without a change in the near future.
Steve Nash: Steve came to LA with a Hall of Fame resume and a 39 year old body. His early injury paralyzed the franchise, led to Mike Brown’s firing and the abrupt hiring of MDA to fit the style of play they are both accustomed with. The problem is, Steve is older and not the same player as he once was in the Phoenix years. He can still ball, don’t get it twisted, but to change the entire system and coaching staff to fit the abilities of a 39 year old PG is not a wise franchise move.
Dwight: Dwight is a defensive powerhouse; at least he once was before his back injury. His back injury has been under reported and could be a reason that his season is off to a horrible start despite his impressive numbers of 16 pts and 12 rbs per game. The issue with Dwight comes down to this. Dwight is not well liked at this point in his career because of the Orlando nonsense and his relaxed attitude in LA, which has rubbed the Los Angeles media, his teammates and the fans the wrong way. Winning his paramount in LA and if you are not winning then you are losing and no matter who you are fingers will be pointed. Dwight is in the direct line of fire, He was brought here to be the next great Laker and take over for Kobe as the franchise player when Bryant retires. At this point this has not worked out for anyone.
Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni:
Mike Brown was hired and fired faster than you can say “hello”. His installment of the Princeton offense was approved by ownership and management, but after 5 games without Nash and off to a horrible start, the Lakers decided to make a change. Sounds a little premature, however the feeling around the league was Kobe was not happy with the state of the team and was not grasping the offense, just speculation though.
Mike D’Antoni arrives on the scene and if you thought things would get better, then you got another thing coming. If you have been following Mike D the last 4-5 years you would then know that Mike’s system is all about spacing and shots. Defense and big men are not priorities and you need particular players to be in this system. Besides Steve Nash, the Lakers do not have the players who fit the system. He was the wrong coach for the wrong team and because of this the Lakers season just took another ugly turn.
Lakers Ownership and Management:
The Buss family and General Manager Mitch Kupchak made some curious moves with the roster and coaching. I believe Jim Buss, who has taken over for his father in the day to day operations wanted to make his own mark on the team and went in his own direction.
Mitch Kupchak wanted Rick Adelman as coach, but Jim Buss wanted Mike Brown and then allowed him to install the Princeton offense. The signing of Steve Nash was a great move at the time, but an early injury derailed him and the team.
The hiring of MDA was probably the biggest head scratcher of the year. With Phil Jackson waiting in the wings, Jim Buss again went in his own direction and quickly hired Mike D without even taking a breath. Anytime you hire a coach like Mike and his unique system you better make sure that you have the players that fit into such a system. The Lakers do not have any of that. Yes, Steve Nash flourished in this system, but that was also 5 years ago which is a lifetime in the NBA.
Hiring Mike D to coach this team has killed the season for the Lakers and maybe the near future. They have 2 coaches on the payroll for years to come, so to fire Mike would be a blemish on the franchise.
Overall, my belief is Dwight will leave the team in the next free agency period. His lack of touches in the MDA system and traditional defense he has run in the past is non-existent this year and for the near future as long as MDA is coach. I also believe Dwight does not like the big media market in LA and the constant criticism of his personality and relaxed attitude. He seems to be very sensitive and LA is not the place for that kind of player unless you can handle the pressure of expectations. In my opinion, Dwight will leave LA for a smaller city with less media and expectations. We all know Mike D will not adjust to his talent and this will leave Dwight no choice to walk away from the team and head into free agency.
Peter A – Knickswag
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