As Lakers Begin, Mystery Surrounds The Offense
Like a lot of you, I’m anxious to see how the Lakers will look with Steve Nash and Ryan Howard in their lineup.
But I’m equally anxious to find out something else – something, in fact, that may be just as important as the acquisition of these star players.
With the start of training camp just a few days away, there’s a lot of speculation about what’s happening in regard to the team’s offense.
John Kuester was the assistant coach last season who was in charge of the offense. Last week the Lakers announced he’s been re-assigned to scouting duties.
That sounds like a demotion to me. It sounds, in fact, like he’s being blamed for the failure of last season’s team to advance further in the playoffs.
I don’t know that. It may be simply that the Lakers have Nash now and can do different things on offense. But, for sure, Kuester and his ideas are gone.
Eddie Jordan is a new assistant, and I’ve been told he’s planning to add some of the Princeton offense here.
This would be startling because the Princeton offense in college basketball features precise passing and cutting by teams without superior players. Princeton has upset some major powers with that tactic, but I can’t imagine asking high-salaried pros to run that system.
It is, in fact, not startling because Jordan has been a head coach in the NBA for seven years with considerable success. He was a point guard on the 1982 Laker championship team and has the respect of NBA players.
He may incorporate the Princeton offense, but only as one more weapon the Lakers can call on at times.
Mike Brown begins his second year as the Lakers’ head coach and has, for various reasons, three new assistants.
Fans have high expectations with Nash and Howard joining Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. Few NBA teams have such high profile talent.
Essentially, Brown designed the defense last season and Kuester the offense. But Brown is the overall coach in charge.
The Lakers made a big spash in the summer by landing Nash and Howard, but Dallas owner Mark Cuban says there’s no guarantee the Lakers will win this season’s championship.
“They won the summer but let’s see what happens now,” said Cuban.
“This has happened before, In the 2004 season the Lakers brought in Karl Malone and Gary Payton to go with Kobe and Shaquille (ONeal.)
“But they didn’t win the championship. They lost in the playoff finals to Detroit, four games to one.”
Cuban thinks his Mavericks can contend with the Lakers, Oklahoma City, San Antonio and anyone else who believes they can win the Western Conference this season.
Quietly, the Mavericks have added important depth by bringing in O.J. Mayo, Elton Brand and Chris Kaman to help Dirk Nowitzki.
They’ve done what the Clippers have done, significantly improving their second unit. And while the Lakers’ starting lineup may be awesome their reserves have a lot to prove.
The Lakers will have training camp and eight exhibition games to smooth out their attack. But Howard is still recovering from back surgery and it isn’t known when he’ll be able to play.
So the Lakers will be a mystery for awhile before we learn what their true potential is.