Just three days into the regular season, we’ve had the following: postponed games, the reigning Sixth Man Of The Year showing off in his debut in a starring role, the Celtics and Heat intensifying their rivalry even more, and the Lakers finding themselves in search for answers after back to back losses.
Ah, yes, about that last point, if you’ve followed this team over the past two decades, this is nothing new. After all, no three-peat ever felt as tumultuous as the version with Shaq and Kobe, when things always seemed to reach crisis mode in the regular season and even during the playoffs.
When four straight championships didn’t materialize, the Lakers went out and attached Karl Malone and Gary Payton to their dynastic duo, watched as Kobe’s sexual assault trial ran as a sideshow to the on court experiment, all of it exploding into thin air in the Finals — the fact that they got that far wasn’t the point, not winning that series was all that mattered.
So two games into the Nash-Kobe-Dwight-Gasol era, it’s too early to draw any conclusions, but also important to separate the issues that threaten to become real problems.
In any other circumstance, it may be hard to justify whether the criticism towards coach Mike Brown has been warranted, but in this case, the man’s track record should remove any benefit of the doubt.
In the same way that he never seemed to adjust or find the best ways to exploit LeBron’s talents in Cleveland, he seems unaware or incapable of maximizing his roster now. This is just not speaking on the results of two games, but the confidence or belief that he is the one to shape this team into what they’re suppose to be.
This is a two year window to win the championship, without the time to find out whether their coach is capable.
Of course, a win tonight against the Clippers and then a few more will calm the #FireMikeBrown movement, but where the rational and sensible thing is to say that things will sort itself out and it’s too early to panic, this feels like something more permanent, not like the other temporary story-lines we float out there during the long season that only exist in a vacuum to push a particular narrative to its end state.
If anything, the uproar after three days affirms this thought: no team is more desperate than these Lakers, for which no future exists but the very next game they face.
Footnotes, or, my other thoughts on the league this week:
1I went to the Raptors home opener on Wednesday against the Pacers, and even though we lost, there were positives to be found everywhere from our new point guard and rookie center to the way we played on both ends. Errors were made, but not from a lack of effort. Again, this being Toronto, this being the Raptors, even that represents a huge step in the right direction.
Of course, the bubble was kind of burst when we found out on the same night that general manager Bryan Colangelo signed DeMar DeRozan to a four year extension worth almost $10 million per season. Afterwards, the media and team were quick to point out that DeRozan had matured as a person and that he’s working hard to continue to improve himself. All of this is a great story to spin except that last time I checked, we’re paying players to actually win games, and there’s been nothing from year to year that indicates DeRozan is taking the next steps to anything.
The contract situation is bad — DeRozan, Amir Johnson and Landry Fields will make a combine $25 million in 2015 — and in typical Raptors fashion, on a night that positives were gleamed on the court, it was offset and then some off it. Optimism in a vacuum, everything else remains permanent.
2The Spurs played the Hornets on opening night. Every time I see these two teams match-up in the box score, I think of Jannero Pargo, and that Game 7 in 2008 when the Hornets couldn’t finish off the Spurs. And then I’m reminded that we’re still waiting for someone to truly finish off the Spurs.
3James Harden could not have had a better opening night. The Thunder? Not so much. Oklahoma City will be fine, but you do wonder if taking Harden out of the equation will leave them with a bit of a hangover. Maybe all of this will be in a vacuum too. But after we move away from the Harden narrative, look for Scott Brooks to be the coach under the most scrutiny this season, provided of course Mike Brown wins a game