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Training Camp Opens, “The Luke Walton Effect,” and gefilte fish

Posted by on Sep 30, 2016 in Byron Scott, Jeanie Buss, Jim Buss, Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Lakers Analysis, Lakers Audio, Luke Walton, Opinion, Podcast |

The NBA is officially underway! The Lakers, while enjoying all camp has to offer — canoeing, archery, arts and crafts, orienteering, and trying to make out with the counselors at the girls camp across the lake — are also very clearly enjoying the first days of the Luke Walton era. Like, a lot. Which isn’t to say they didn’t enjoy last season’s circus in the same way… except it kinda is.

Hopefully it lasts a while, but for the time being the players who were here last season, particularly the young ‘uns, and particularly D’Angelo Russell, have clearly taken a shine to the new regime.

We break down all the big stories from the early days of training camp, including (but not limited to)…

  • Evidence a genuine culture has the chance to take root this year.
  • How feeling empowered by his coaching staff could help Russell on the floor.
  • Why Kobe needed to retire for Walton’s approach to work.
  • The Jim Buss Timeline: Mitch Kupchak says he’s really not aware of it. Land O’Lakers Factcheckers rate that a full four Paul Pierce Wheelchairs on the lie scale. Still, while it seems reasonable to believe the Lakers won’t make the Western Conference Finals (don’t shoot the messenger), what happens to Jim Buss if the Lakers show legitimate improvement, over the course of the year? Any shot he stays? And if Jim goes, does Mitch go, too?
  • Gefilte fish.
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Happy D’Angelo, Ingram the 6th Man, and a Statue for Metta

Posted by on Sep 23, 2016 in Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Lakers Analysis, Lakers Audio, Opinion, Podcast | 2 comments

The Lakers are (almost) back!

And that means we are, too! With a few minor adjustments. Like a total lack of music, thanks to some licensing questions with ESPN podcasts. So rather than run afoul of the law, we’ll abide until we can find a workaround.

But thankfully, we’re still plenty able to talk hoops. And with Monday’s media day right around the corner, we tackle the big topics of conversation surrounding the purple and gold. Start with D’Angelo Russell, who hearts the new coaching staff in ways he, well, may not have hearted the previous one. So how much shade is Russell really throwing Byron Scott?

What about Luke Walton’s decision to bring Brandon Ingram off the bench? Then there are projections! ESPN has the Lakers pegged to win 24.5 games this year. Too high? Too low? Or juuuuuuust right? (Surely there’s a way to win a half game somewhere.)

Finally, the Lakers have signed Metta World Peace to one more make-good deal. Occasion enough to give him a statue! And, of course, more Secret Audio From the LaMarcus Aldridge Pitch Meeting.

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Free Agency: Durant and Mozgov and Deng (oh my!)

Posted by on Jul 6, 2016 in Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Lakers Analysis, Lakers Audio, Opinion, Podcast | 3 comments

Sometimes, the first few days of free agency are a tease. A big ball of underwhelming.

Not this year!

With the salary cap set to explode, money was flying faster and larger than the NBA has ever seen. People you may never have heard of have cashed in on eight figure deals. The Lakers were in the mix, throwing $64 million at center Timofey Mozgov and another $70 mil to forward Luol Deng. (Plus, they wrapped up Jordan Clarkson and Tarik Black.)

Was it money well spent? What do the signings say about the state of the franchise?

And what about Kevin Durant? Why is he going to Oakland, and does that move make Russell Westbrook a #FutureLaker?

All that and more on the new installment of the podcast…

 

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The Lakers get the 2nd pick … now what?

Posted by on May 19, 2016 in Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Lakers Analysis, Lakers Audio, Mitch Kupchak, Opinion, Podcast |

2nd pick, baby!

The Lakers won the silver medal in the (Rigged??? Rigged!!!) NBA Draft Lottery, so they’ll keep their pick in this June’s festivities. If the Sixers select Ben Simmons, the Lakers will select Brandon Ingram. If the Sixers take Ingram, Simmons will join his buddy D’Angelo Russell in L.A.

Debate who’s the better fit or who has the higher ceiling, but the bottom line is either could be a major piece for the Lakers as they continue rebuilding.

Assuming, of course, the Lakers plan to keep either kid around. Might they be looking to package “SimGram” as part of a deal to land an established star like DeMarcus Cousins, Paul George, Jimmy Butler, etc.? How much would the Lakers need to give up to make that happen? Would that actually make sense?

We chop it all up, plus talk about Steven Adams’ “quick little monkeys” comment, Chris Bosh’s basketball future, referees missing fouls during the playoffs, a statue for Mitch Kupchak statue, and more secret audio from the ill-fated LaMarcus Aldridge meeting.

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Podcast: Byron Scott Out, Luke Walton In…

Posted by on May 3, 2016 in Lakers Analysis, Lakers Audio, Opinion, Podcast |

 

The king is dead, long live the king.

Barely a week ago, the Lakers let Byron Scott go. Technically, they chose not to pick up his option, as opposed to firing him. Technically. But before we could get around to talking about it, BAM! The Lakers went out and landed Luke Walton, the beloved former Laker and hottest name remaining on the coaching market this offseason. So … good move? We discuss.

(Spoiler alert, we’re not booing, we’re saying “Luuuuuuuuuuuke.”)

All that, plus all of your NBA headlines, including Carmelo Anthony making it abundantly clear he doesn’t want to Kurt Rambis coaching him next year, the Clippers again facing questions, and the Space Jam reboot lands its director. (Which is really just an excuse for AK to talk about The Fast and the Furious franchise.)

Plus, another peek at the Secret LaMarcus Aldridge Audio Recordings, a statue for Byron Scott, and a big week in Magic Johnson tweets!

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Luke Walton is a win for the Lakers

Posted by on Apr 30, 2016 in Lakers Analysis, Luke Walton, Opinion | 6 comments

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Luke Walton is the type of coach I wish the Lakers had at least considered before hiring Byron Scott. Young, smart, talented, curious, up-and-coming. A coach with upside who could gain experience and grow with a rebuilding franchise.

Obviously that’s not the direction they went.

We don’t know yet exactly what allowed L.A.’s front office to look past a long held belief that coach of the Lakers isn’t a “starter job.” Some combination surely of Walton’s background in purple and gold, his extremely successful dress rehearsal as the interim coach of the Warriors, the buzz around him — for the first time in a while, the Lakers can say they got the guy everyone wanted — and his basketball intelligence. Clearly they believe Walton will do well in meetings with prospective free agents. And his familiarity to Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak clearly expedited the process.

But whether Walton represents a great leap forward in the open-mindedness of Lakers management or just a perfectly packaged Trojan Horse unwittingly unleashing into El Segundo basketball modernity (and an understanding of current circumstances) doesn’t really matter. Walton can simultaneously be a soothing reminder of past success and a fresh jolt forward. Even if the Lakers only hired him because he Knows What It Means To Wear The Purple And Gold, or because they believe he’ll be popular with the fan base, or that snagging him blunts the argument the franchise can’t recruit anyone wanted by anyone else — otherwise known as “all the wrong reasons” — Walton is still a very strong hire. He still fits where the Lakers are right now.

That it reportedly only required one interview will make some fans squeamish, but again, management knew Walton going in, and knew as well he’d be a prime candidate for other coaching vacancies this offseason. If you want a guy, don’t let him talk to the competition. You never know what can happen.

(If a lack of due diligence still bothers you, try applying three of the 17 interviews they did with Byron to Luke, and you’ll feel better.)

I don’t know if Walton will be a great NBA head coach. Nobody does. But he’s as good a bet as you’ll find among the guys without a long track record. High end basketball minds, from Steve Kerr to Phil Jackson, believe in his talent. Kobe Bryant pegged him as a coach a long time ago. The good news is Walton doesn’t really need to be great right away. For the next couple of seasons, he can develop his skills on a roster unlikely to be playing for major stakes (save the future of Jim Buss, I suppose, but that’s more a Jim/Jeanie problem). Meanwhile, he still provides a sense of optimism and a fresh start. Of the possibility the Lakers could build a new culture, led by someone who could, if all goes well, be around for a long time.

I’m obviously projecting, because there’s a lot of distance between Friday’s news and such a rosy outcome. The roster is still very thin, potential notwithstanding. The front office is still a massive question mark, though hiring a coach that however talented needs development speaks well of Buss and Kupchak. (At exit interviews, Kupchak said despite uncertainty created by the Jim Buss Timeline, which by definition clouds his future as well, he wouldn’t recommend short term fixes potentially compromising the team’s long term health. Bringing in Walton backs that up. So credit to both of them.) That Walton is popular enough with the fan base to blunt early growing pains can’t hurt, buying him and his players a little time.

There are still plenty of other questions to answer, including how Walton will approach things philosophically, how advanced he is with X’s and O’s, who he’ll surround himself with on the bench, and if/how this impacts all the Phil-to-L.A. chatter (a longer discussion for another day, but just as a reminder … it’s a bad idea). It could be a while before even the most basic of those are answered, since we won’t see much of him until the Warriors are done.

But regardless, the Lakers did a good thing on Friday, and are significantly better off now than they were at the end of the year.

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