Only Took 8 Games

That didn’t take too long. Everyone knew this was coming at some point, even if Magic and Rob had hired Luke Walton this would have happened. While the irony that just a few short weeks ago the same guy who preached patience, predicted a slow start and said Luke had his full confidence is now privately-ish admonishing the coach for…a slow start as many articles coming out today note, his fingerprints are all over the crime scene, too. This entire situation was to be expected barring the unlikely event that we came barn-storming out of the gate.

That was unlikely before the suspensions and was impossible after. the fact we beat Denver as short-handed as we were at the time ought to have been a major source of confidence in both the coaching staff and players growing together. Evidently it wasn’t. Hanging on against Dallas wasn’t ideal and our only other win was against the hapless Phoenix Suns. Those who hoped for at least a .500 start after 10 games are facing an uphill climb, those hoping for better than that are already bumming.

Here’s the thing. With a much shorter preseason, major roster overhaul and turnover and a player who’s gravity eclipses the rest of the entire team and then some to just pull together and get on the same page should not have been anyone with any basketball chutzpah’s expectation. Last week is generally when the NBA season has begun and we’re over two weeks into it now. That’s a huge thing for this team to overcome, an entire camp of the old school variety wouldn’t have been enough time and the mini-camp they got certainly wasn’t, hence the focus on one aspect of the game: defense.

And, frankly, Magic is wrong. It’s not our half court offense that’s making this harder it’s our defense and our propensity for fouling. Even without the suspensions the new rules are wreaking havoc on NBA defenses. That’s a little bit on older players not adjusting well, or at all, and the young guys struggling to re-learn what they never really knew to begin with. Some of that is definitely on the coaching side and some of that is the league settling into a new way of playing defense. We have a lot of guys who made a rep grabbing and holding on defense, now they’re getting whistled. We have a lot of young guys trying to make a mark battling with vets looking for the next payday, all of that factors into this.

This ship will right itself. Luke is too smart, the players are too good and our young guys are getting better at co-existing with LeBron and the new vets. It’s been better in every game, outside of Minnesota where Jimmy Butler took it upon himself to audition for us come 12/15/2018 and canning an absurd number of 3s down the stretch. Every other game we either gave up at the free throw line (LeBron) fouled the other team to victory (Houston and San Antonio game 1, whether you agree with the fouls or not is moot, it happened) or just came up a little short down the stretch against teams that have been together for a NBA lifetime (Portland and San Antonio game 2).

Beating Portland tonight would go a long way to quieting all the chatter. Magic only knows how to motivate a couple of different ways and they don’t generally play out well in media. They were more effective as a player and as head of his own businesses managing them his way. In this more democratic environment, albeit he is the boss…after Jeannie…he might need to learn to tread a little more carefully. Some of thsi was probably even a bit of a nod to LeBron, Magic’s way of publicly saying ‘I hear you, and I’m working on it’. But the better path to being a true leader is one that accepts equal blame for this roster, for letting Randle AND Brook walk for nothing in return. You can’t short-change the present for the future and than gripe about it, or at least not look disingenuous in the doing.

I will say this, the Los Angeles Lakers are truly back! Behind the scenes drama, superstars making history, all we need is a 12 game winning streak and the narrative will lose it’s freaking mind. Go Lakers, got a good feeling about tonight (and I never have a good feeling when we play Portland) so here’s to the W we can bring home tonight. Go get it, guys!