Bernucca: Lakers aren’t only team with serious issues

Think the Lakers have problems? 

Well, yeah, they do.

But if you get all of your NBA news from the Worldwide Leader, you would think the Lakers are the only team that has problems.

But this week, three teams with better records than the Lakers started showing some cracks in their foundations. Of course, they don’t have the same 12-car pile-up quality that the Lakers’ problems have, so their issues are overlooked.

Meanwhile, we are asked to ponder what Mike D’Antoni and Kobe Bryant think of Dwight Howard’s father coming to his son’s defense after Howard was criticized by Bryant and Howard lashed back at Bryant and D’Antoni was blamed for not keeping it in house and hurting Pau Gasol’s feelings because he already had a lot of injuries.

Perhaps you can all turn your attention from the NBA’s version of the Bud Dwyer video and take a brief look at the problems pervading the Grizzlies, Warriors and Bucks. We promise you can go back to your precious Lakers in just a couple of minutes.

MEMPHIS: Before Friday’s home game, Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins met the media to set the record straight on where he stood on the Rudy Gay trade. Either Hollins or Hollins’ bosses thought this was necessary because of what he said after a loss in Atlanta two nights earlier.

“Rudy’s not here,” he said, obviously tired of the questions. “We’re not talking about Rudy or thinking about Rudy. This team is trying to become a good team as it’s constructed.”

That doesn’t sound like Hollins was happy that his leading scorer was deemed expendable by new owner Robert Pera, who may be in over his financial head, and new management, which appears to be on that “sustainable team” track of analytics that’s being used in Oklahoma City.

So on Friday, Hollins told the media that simply was not the case, saying, “There’s been a lot of negativity around our team, and me and my feelings about the trade and my feelings about management. Most of it is as far from the truth as it can be.”


Because in the next breath, Hollins also said, “I’ve been here five years, and I’ve taken the kids from baby steps to what I thought was a pretty good roster to do what I thought we could do. Whether we could or not remains to be seen. There are no guarantees in this thing. When decisions are made above my head, I have to run with it.”

Hollins also said, “I’m not against our management and our ownership,” never a good phrase to hear coming from a coach or player.

Here’s the truth: Hollins really liked this group, but he never got a chance to truly see what it could do. Two years ago, Gay was injured. Last year, Randolph and Darrell Arthur were injured. This season – the last on Hollins’ contract – was the first where all the key pieces were together. And then ownership and management took it apart.

And here’s another truth: The Grizzlies did need to make a trade, but not to get under the luxury tax or get rid of one of their big contracts. They needed to acquire a floor-spreading wing like J.J. Redick or Mike Dunleavy or Jared Dudley. And Tayshaun Prince isn’t going to do that well enough to prevent postseason opponents from packing it in on Randolph and Gasol.

The Grizzlies lost three of their first four games after trading Gay until winning a pair of home games this weekend. They should snare another win Tuesday vs. Sacramento before heading into the All-Star break.

“We’re going to fight and figure it out, as long as we want to do that,” Gasol said.

Do they?

GOLDEN STATE: Coach Mark Jackson has done a terrific job of changing the culture of the Warriors, who for many years treated defense as a time to rest until they got the ball back.

The Warriors still allow 100.9 points per game, but that is more about pace than defense. They are sixth in opponents’ field-goal percentage (.439), fourth in rebounds (44.6) and 10th in rebound margin (1.7). A season ago, they were 20th (.453), 28th (39.2) and last (minus-6.6).

This week, the Warriors played four road games in five nights, a stretch that was supposed to offer some insight as to whether they were a true contender in the Western Conference. They lost all four by an an average of 20.8 points, allowing 118.5 points and a shade under 50 percent shooting by their foes.

After their season-high fourth straight loss – a 25-point beatdown in Dallas in which they trailed by double digits for the last 40 minutes – Jackson did his best Alfred E. Neuman impersonation.


  1. Oak Mason says

    On the trivia question – I believe Craig Hodges was invited to the 3 point competition in a year when he was no longer an NBA player, because he was defending his title, but the Bulls didn’t offer him a contract that year.

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