I don’t watch as much basketball as I once did. I catch every Rockets game, due to my duties here, but I no longer subscribe to League Pass. That’s why I was left almost speechless the few times I caught a Lakers game towards the end of the year. Oh I had read and heard all the quips about “hero-ball” and how the Lakers needed to get their big men involved. But I had imagined it as random ‘heat checks’ from Kobe or ill-advised shots in succession from time to time. But I could never have conceived that what I later saw in reality was actually possible.
This year, under Mike Brown, the Lakers at times go entire stretches of games playing what almost seems some primitive form of streetball with 4 men watching stagnantly as one takes on an entire defense. It’s so bad at times one can only marvel at its occurrence. Kobe will receive the ball at the top of the key and jab-step beautifully to brilliantly aesthetic jumpers with defenders draped in his face, or he’ll receive in the post and fade away off of double teams. He’ll hit a few in the course, only reaffirming his belief in the plan. Rinse and repeat. In the midst of these spectacles, Pau Gasol has been reduced to a bystander; I think I saw him as the post-entry passer a few times, at the most, hilariously…
Lowry does not believe he and Goran Dragic, his successor as the starting point guard this season, will both return to the roster next season. Lowry was even less confident he and Rockets coach Kevin McHale can successfully coexist.
“I don’t think so,” Lowry, 26, said. “I honestly think it would be tough. Things have to be addressed. The situation would have to be addressed.
“If things aren’t addressed coaching-wise, I guess I have to be moved.”
The only surprise here is that he went public with the sentiments.
Lowry’s antics this past year have been extremely disappointing. Longtime readers will recall that he was the first Rocket this blog really endorsed. For his all-out hustle and on-court leadership, I turned a blind eye to his incessant whining about calls during games. I ignored the battery charge because I don’t concern myself with players’ private lives. When he didn’t get in the huddle, drawing McHale’s ire, I was disappointed but told myself it can happen – look at Dwyane Wade’s recent runin with his coach. But this—to air dirty laundry—has really left a bitter taste.
This summer, Pau Gasol has three doors staring him straight in the face, each one leading to a different future, and each one dictating a different ending for how he’ll spend the rest of his career as a meaningful basketball player.
1) He leaves L.A. behind and becomes the same player he was in 2010, ridding himself of all the name-calling, unjust third-option placement, and total lack of respect that’s bogged him down these last two seasons.
2) He leaves L.A. and brings all the baggage with him, roaming around the perimeter, showing up for some games and disappearing in others, and looking more like a second or third option than a franchise player.
3) He stays in Southern California and continues to disintegrate beside Kobe Bryant.
That’s it right there. Those are the three roads. If it comes down to the first two options and you’re the Rockets, there’s quite a gamble in not knowing which door he ends up walking through. At this point they’ll need to ask themselves: is it even worth the risk? [read more…]
I am loath to dole out grades. I’ve never done it. Why? Because it presents a veil of finality. Not every issue is closed or can be defined by the assignment of a single character. But I’ll do it. Psychologists will tell you that people like grades because people want conclusions. Whilst casual reading, people don’t want to be left with open-ended analysis; they want a concrete takeaway in concise form. So with that, I’ll do this…for you guys. But know I hate such gross oversimplification in assessment.
We’ll start this series with Kevin McHale. I’ll work through every major figure associated with the team, or until I grow tired of the whole thing. That could very well happen as early as like the Kevin Martin issue or even last up to Hasheem Thabeet. We’ll see. Actually, I had been working on (putting off) a ‘season in review’ piece, but realized I needed to do some of the major thinking in more detail and figured this series would help. Anyways, without further ado, I present to you the Kevin McHale installment.
Speaking recently on ESPN’s NBA Today podcast about how basketball’s physicality is devolving throughout the league, Bucks forward Luc Mbah a Moute identified Kevin Martin as one of the league’s finest floppers:
“A lot of guys, their whole game is flopping offensively, and they’re very efficient at it,” he said. “[Martin] is one of the best floppers. Offensively he uses it to his advantage; he does a good job at it, getting to the lane, hitting people and throwing the ball up. He’s just using the game, being smart.”
Mbah a Moute’s commentary was phrased in a complimentary way, but it shouldn’t be read that way. With the playoffs in full bloom and each possession under the microscope of a basketball watching nation, flopping has quickly become the NBA’s most contentious issue. [read more…]