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Phil Jackson: Lakers are ‘a mess’

Jun 14, 2013, 12:17 PM EDT

Phil Jackson AP

The Lakers are an old team that barely made the playoffs and has significant financial obligations going forward. Dwight Howard’s free agency looms, as does a big luxury-tax bill.

Phil Jackson is trying to sell books, and he has a complicated, at best, relationship with the Lakers. He also has never shied away from sharing his thoughts publically, anyway.

Add it all up, and Jackson will poke the bear.

Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times:

Naturally, he talks to his fiancee, Jeanie Buss, who is an executive and owner with the team.

“I’m trying to counsel her on ways the team can improve,” he said.  “They’re a mess, we know that because of their financial disorder right now, that’s the thing they have to get straight right away.”

The Lakers are a mess. It sounds a little strange to hear coming from Jackson after he helped them achieve so much, but there’s little evidence to the contrary.

Of course, the Lakers have often found themselves in messes and dug their way out of them. At one point, it seemed the feuding between Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant would become the Lakers’ undoing. But Shaq went to Miami, Kobe learned how to play without him, and Los Angeles won a couple titles.

The Lakers could re-sign Dwight Howard, trade Pau Gasol, allow Kobe time to heal and suddenly look to be out of this mess. 

They might even turn to the man who got them out of their 1990s mess of underachieving.

OK, maybe this mess doesn’t have that solution.

  1. dirtydavis - Jun 14, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    Lakers 2014 Champs!!!

    • fanofevilempire - Jun 14, 2013 at 12:34 PM

      Dan, are Phil and Jeanie snuggling when they talk Lakers?

      • jcmeyer10 - Jun 14, 2013 at 3:26 PM

        I don’t know if this is weird, but I have actually wondered if the Lakers came up during their pillow talk. Does Phil Jackson even pillow talk?

    • spthegr8 - Jun 14, 2013 at 1:59 PM

      That would be GREAT & as good as it sounds. Its not realistic. If I can steal a phrase from Steven A Smith……..” THAT’S BLASPHEMOUS”!!!!! We need too make some moves before that happens again and IMO, it start’s with the guy coaching the team. Really it start’s with Jimbo but their isn’t much we can do about him!!

    • deavn - Jun 14, 2013 at 3:09 PM

      I can’t dislike this enough.

  2. aboogy123456 - Jun 14, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    Phil, we love you but please stop, this isn’t the time to make the lakers look bad. If Dwight resigns they have a great future and a superstar to build around, and that’s what matters most in this league. In the summer of 2014, they will have Dwight and plenty of cap room, kobe will resign at a team friendly contract, maybe pau will too, but the key is they will have flexibility and a superstar, that is not a mess. They don’t need to go after lebron, there are plenty of role players in 2014 that can help put them over the hump, but it all starts with Dwight.

    • loungefly74 - Jun 14, 2013 at 12:35 PM


      I’m bracing for another “tough” year but hoping for the best.

    • asimonetti88 - Jun 14, 2013 at 12:56 PM

      worst comes to worst the lakers do have a lot of cap space after this upcoming season. Maybe they don’t rebuild the team right away but it never hurts to clear cap space.

    • adoombray - Jun 14, 2013 at 1:34 PM

      1) Dwight Howard is not a superstar, and he doesn’t want to be

      2) He’s not resigning with the Lakers, because of

      3) They have nobody under contract in 2 years, he’s going to be the only decent player on the roster once Nash and Kobe are gone

      4) The “Laker Mystique” died with Jim Buss. Laker fans get this wrong all the time. It wasn’t the logo, it wasn’t the name, the color of the uniforms, or even the location of Los Angeles. NBA Players do not care about that stuff, that stuff is just marketting. Business guys care about that. NBA players care about the way their owner treats them and anyone who spent 5 minutes with Dr. Buss (May he rest in peace) would have run through a brick wall for him. Laker fans act like they got Michael Corleone, but they got Fredo.

      All those championships mean nothing to guys who sign there in the future because you don’t get retroactively added to those rosters. They don’t send you a championship ring for a team you didn’t play on. There’s no reason to believe, from any rational angle you could approach it at, that the team is going to be successful. There’s not even hope coming in the draft, because the Lakers gave their picks to the Suns.

      The Lakers ARE a mess.

      • aboogy123456 - Jun 14, 2013 at 2:59 PM

        Thanks for your reply, there’s a lot wrong with your post in my opinion, but let me just point out a couple things.

        1) dwight howard is a superstar – He is THE best player in the league without the ball in his hands. That means that he makes his teammates better because he affects the game without taking away from anybody else. He is elite at a position that’s hard to fill, just because he’s easy to hate doesn’t mean he can’t help a team win.

        2) “NBA Players do not care about that stuff, that stuff is just marketting. Business guys care about that.” That’s crazy. Forget the “mystique” bs, LA is a great market and there is a lot of money for players when you come to LA. Don’t toss out marketing as if it doesn’t matter, marketing makes players a ton of money, and it will influence their decision. Derrick Rose got a $250 million contract from adidas. Do you think he would have gotten that contract if he was playing in Oklahoma City?

        My argument is that the lakers have flexibility, a great market, and dwight, we can’t just write them off because none of us can read the future.

      • asimonetti88 - Jun 14, 2013 at 4:24 PM

        If Dwight Howard isn’t a superstar, there isn’t a single superstar center in the league right now. He had a year where he was universally panned as playing poorly. In that poor season, he put up 17 PPG on 58% shooting, led the league with 12.4 RPG and had 2.4 BPG and 1.1 SPG.

      • adoombray - Jun 14, 2013 at 4:31 PM

        1) it has nothing to do with Dwight being “easy to hate”, life is too short for hate in general but I sure as heck don’t hate anyone i’ve never met 😛 It’s that he’s consistently shown that he cannot handle and does not want to be the Alpha dog. he has never shown any kind of leadership or emotional maturity, from the day he was still wearing bracers on draft day and talked about wanting to evangelize the entire league, to pretty much everything having to do with his exit from the Orlando magic. I’ll give you “elite”, and I’ll give you “he can help a team win”, but that’s more of a statement of the dearth of quality big men. I would take Marc Gasol, Roy Hibbert, and Joakim Noah over Howard, all 3 of whom do everything Howard does but can also hit shots from outside the post and can make free throws.

        2) No, Derrick Rose wouldn’t have gotten a 250 million contract in OKC, because he didnt get one in Chicago either. his deal was for 200 mill, and it was designed to be so large that people went WOW. The number was that high on purpose and as a result we all know Rose is with adidas. yes, it is ridiculous. But Durant got a 60 million deal from Nike, turning down a larger offer from Adidas, before ever playing an NBA game. I spent about 10 minutes looking for Westbrooks deal but couldn’t find the details and don’t care THAT much. the point i’m making with the NBA wisely making the league pass affordable, and doing things like Thursday night fan votes to pick the games we can watch, not to mention that every sick play and good game is on the internet immediately after it happens, it really doesn’t matter where you play in 2013. What matters is WINNING. Plus, the best fit for Howard, Houston, is a state with no income tax.

        Saying the Lakers have flexibility is a nice way of saying they don’t have any players under contract, and yeah i’ll give you that it’s a great market and it’s awesome living in 70 degree weather year round (I was born and raised in San Pedro, I know the score), but “we can’t read the future” applies just as much to your argument as well as mine. I’m not even going to go into the fact that D’antoni’s expertise is with the 3, 2, and the 1, and the only 4 he ever had much success with was Stat who was always an oversized 3.

      • spthegr8 - Jun 14, 2013 at 6:03 PM

        Dwight isn’t a superstar????? The guy is a head case and has ALOT of maturing too do. But you are REALLY trippin, if you don’t think he is a superstar.

      • Anoesis - Jun 15, 2013 at 8:26 AM


        1) Your opinion (and a pretty thin one at that);
        2) Speculation (may turn out to be accurate);
        3) Wouldn’t all that cap room in two years make it pretty easy to sign a few players from what is expected to be a strong free agent market?
        4) It makes it very difficult to take seriously your attempt at prognostication when you mis-identify the man responsible for not only turning the Lakers into an elite organization, but almost single-handedly saving the league. Dr. JERRY Buss built the modern-day Lakers, Jim is his son.

        While I can (reluctantly) agree that the team has entered a new era with the passing of Dr. Buss, as well as your point that he knew how to treat his employees well, your assertion that the Lakers aren’t still a destination for free agents is off-target. Players care very much about not just competing for titles, but about making money as well as maintaining a high public profile. L.A. is the entertainment capital of the world and basketball is definitely an entertainment business. The marketing and endorsement opportunities in L.A. are rivaled only by perhaps New York.

        The Lakers were a “mess” when Dr. Buss bought them. They were a “mess” after Magic Johnson’s forced retirement (a sarcastic “thanks” to the likes of Karl Malone and Isiah Thomas). They were a “mess” prior to trading for Bryant’s rights and signing Shaquille O’Neal. They seemed to right those ships fairly well.

        The key now is if the current brain trust in charge of the team has learned any of the lessons Dr. Buss tried to teach. Whether or not the “Laker Mystique” died with Buss will become readily apparent within the next two years.

    • anhdazman - Jun 14, 2013 at 8:12 PM

      Sorry buddy, the truth hurts. Lakers are a mess and DH12 drama hasn’t even started up yet.

    • sportsfan18 - Jun 14, 2013 at 8:47 PM

      Have you read the recent reports, for whatever they’re worth, that say that Chris Paul and Dwight want to play together? I won’t speculate on the odds, but it can happen as each player is a free agent as of 7/1.

      Also, these two wanted to play together with each other back as far as 2009.

      No one, not even Dwight knows what he wants to do. We do know that if he definitely wanted to remain in L.A. he would already have a contract signed. It doesn’t mean he can’t or won’t end up there, but each day that goes by without his signature on the dotted line, the more likely it is he ends up elsewhere…

      Some have said that the Lakers wouldn’t do a sign and trade with the Clippers. Well, if Dwight tells them in no uncertain terms that he won’t be resigning with them, something is better than nothing…

      The clips might offer say Blake Griffin and Eric Bledsoe…

      I’m not saying this is the best but they aren’t going to get equal value back for Dwight so they need to think about it if it were offered…

      If Dwight doesn’t resign with them, they are a mess.

      Kobe, as great as he is now has an injury that most say one doesn’t come completely back from. Plus add all the miles on his tread already and just imagine if he only plays half of the season next year and doesn’t play at close to his previous level?

      The thing is we don’t know at this point. Dwight, where will he end up? Kobe, what will he have left whenever he returns?

      For my money, they are much closer to a mess…

      Their track record is remarkable. I don’t know the exact numbers but something like 16 finals appearances in like 34 yrs or whatever it was.

      Dr. Buss had a great run. They are still in L.A. and they will still have lots of money to spend.

      The issue is that Dr. Buss isn’t around anymore and his son appears to be an idiot…

      Many on boards such as these talk about the Laker history of success and that they will be good going forward because of it. Dr. Buss is no longer running the team.

      The jury is most definitely still out…

  3. Alex K - Jun 14, 2013 at 12:33 PM

    “But Shaq went to Miami, Kobe got another All-Star big man, and Los Angeles won a couple titles.


    • jt1138 - Jun 14, 2013 at 1:59 PM

      “But Shaq went to Miami, Kobe got 2 more All-Star big men, and Los Angeles won a couple titles.”

      That’s better.

  4. logisticalvoices - Jun 14, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    Ok, Laker fans, do you still think I’m trolling you? Even Phil has said what the rest of the country can clearly see.

  5. herlies - Jun 14, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    I just feel so bad for a franchise which has made the Finals 32 times in 64 NBA seasons… now facing a steep tax penalty because they once again blew away everyone else’s payroll.

    • jcmeyer10 - Jun 14, 2013 at 3:28 PM

      The world really is out to get them.

    • spursareold - Jun 14, 2013 at 3:57 PM

      I don’t. Nobody held a gun to their heads and made them sign all those old guys to MLE deals. They also failed to develop any young (read:inexpensive) players who could at least play rotation minutes. Their solution has always been to just take the lazy route and whip out the check book. When the new CBA put a cramp in their style, they had no player development plan to fall back on.

      • sportsfan18 - Jun 14, 2013 at 8:48 PM

        They can pay it… Yes, it’s a lot of money, but it isn’t money the don’t have…

  6. reesesteel23 - Jun 14, 2013 at 1:10 PM

    Sign CP3 and Dwight…..Tell Kobe to take a paycut or Amnesty……move Pau and see about getting Josh Smith…blow it all upppppp

    • asimonetti88 - Jun 14, 2013 at 1:54 PM

      You can’t take paycuts in the NBA. This isn’t the NFL.

    • jdpm24 - Jun 15, 2013 at 2:11 AM

      That is the key exactly. Kobe has to take a deep pay cut or they should amnesty him. No other way back to competing for a championship.

  7. shockexchange - Jun 14, 2013 at 1:19 PM

    If Horry Jr is so great and the second coming of MJ then the Lakers should win the chip again next year. No? Or maybe he’s nothing more than a glorified role player.

    • asimonetti88 - Jun 14, 2013 at 1:55 PM

      so every star/team leader that doesn’t win a championship is a glorified role player?

      • shockexchange - Jun 14, 2013 at 2:27 PM


        Don’t go putting words in the Shock Exchange’s mouth.

    • pdub923 - Jun 14, 2013 at 2:00 PM


  8. florida727 - Jun 14, 2013 at 1:57 PM

    I’m no expert on these matters, but I think the biggest problem is Kobe. Easy to say they need to get rid of him, but at his age, with his injury, and with his contract… who’d be willing to take him? At some point all great players outlive their contract’s value. I think Kobe’s has reached that point. Not a hater. Just being practical. I like watching him play, but I think his best days are clearly in his rearview mirror and the Lakers would be better off restructuring sooner rather than later. BTW, Dwight Howard is NOT the answer. He’s a late game liability (see: free throws, made).

    • aboogy123456 - Jun 14, 2013 at 2:12 PM

      To the average fan, Kobe is old, but to people who actually watched the lakers play, he just had one of his best seasons, and he was a hero and MVP worthy. The achilles tear is an issue, but we still haven’t seen him come back yet so everything you say is just a guess. Also, kobe only has one year left on his contract, what’s the point of restructuring, even if that was possible? After this year, kobe will probably sign a 2 year contract that is very cheap, and he will at worst be a solid scorer who outplays that contract. It’s frustrating because I think every day about ways the lakers can improve, and then people come on this site and have these short sighted solutions that don’t make sense.

      • fanofevilempire - Jun 14, 2013 at 4:17 PM

        The best thing is probably Kobe sitting out and getting properly healed and the
        Lakers tank and then they have a high draft pick for 2014 and with the cap space
        they sign a few vets and they sign Kobe to that cap friendly contract because we
        know he wants that 6th ring, he will do anything to equal MJ.I don’t think Kobe sits
        out, he has the heart of a horse. I will always remember what he said after he tore
        his Achilles, I have to hit these free throws and he did so his team could win.

      • spursareold - Jun 14, 2013 at 4:18 PM

        Kobe will never take a reduced paycheck or roll on the team. It’s not in his makeup.

        This is definitely the point where wing players have their games go over a cliff. LA needs to just throw him a huger farewell party, pat him on the back, and move on,without any talk of another contract. If he wants to go do his version of MJ with the Wizards, let him.

      • aboogy123456 - Jun 14, 2013 at 4:26 PM

        I agree with Fanofevilempire, kobe will do anything to win another ring. He will absolutely take a reduced contract, you don’t understand him if you’re saying otherwise. He’s getting paid $30 million a year, he will probably come back at 8-10 mill a year, which is fair, but he’ll get so much more in endorsements. Look at what tim duncan did. He came back for 3 years, $30 million, when people were saying he was done, now he’s in the finals at age 37.

        @fan, too bad we don’t have any draft picks next year. Lakers have been clear in their strategy, they are going to try to win the ship next year, and then they will have plenty of cap space to rebuild around dwight in 2014. All this talk i’ve heard about amnestying kobe or pau is very short sighted and not in their plans.

      • sportsfan18 - Jun 14, 2013 at 8:51 PM

        They can’t restructure in the NBA. But they could amnesty him, but they won’t do that. They’d still have to pay him, but their tax penalty would drop by at least the amount they’d have to pay him. He could take the year off to heal fully and then resign with the Lakers for the next year or two. Kobe has earned the right to stay with them next year though, he’s made them a ton of money over the years. But since we don’t know about his injury, he might only play half the season for $30 million and his play might not be at his usual level. Even without the injury, at some point he is going to decline with so many games and minutes under his belt coupled with his age…

      • adoombray - Jun 14, 2013 at 11:43 PM

        I’ll give you that much. Kobe was jumping like he was 26 again last year. That procedure he had done in Germany was straight up fountain of youth status. If his name was Grant Hill, everyone would have been talking about how miraculous his comeback was. If he played in Phoenix, there’d be 10 million articles about how their training staff saved yet another career. ACL is a tricky injury though, it’s unrealistic to think he can heal by next season.

    • badintent - Jun 15, 2013 at 2:53 AM

      Don’t forget all the baggage with his women, Moma and un- happy wife. Soap opera rated WWW for whine, whine , whine.

  9. truprof - Jun 14, 2013 at 4:32 PM

    Phil is correct, but neglected to point out that the Lakers “mess” began with a 4-0 sweep at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks a couple of years ago, with the Zen Master himself in the coach’s seat. Yep, big mess at that time and ever since. Thanks for pointing out the obvious Phil!

  10. wakiash - Jun 14, 2013 at 4:45 PM

    DOH! You think. I could have told you that for nothng!

  11. louhudson23 - Jun 15, 2013 at 7:10 AM

    The idea that Dwight Howard represents some sort of solution to a team is laughable.An immature,no heart headcase with a deeply flawed game and no clue what it takes to lead a team….

    • badintent - Jun 16, 2013 at 1:06 AM

      I second the motion, the motion is passed. New Business. Kobe trying to shoot shots on Jimmy Kimmel shows he has no hops or strength in his leg.

  12. 1historian - Jun 15, 2013 at 7:37 AM

    “The Lakers are a mess.”

    That sounds pretty good to this Celtics fan, so I’ll just repeat it and take off

    “The Lakers are a mess.”


    • spthegr8 - Jun 15, 2013 at 10:33 AM

      ^^^^ Cool story…….BRO!!!!!!^^^^

    • sdlakerfan - Jun 15, 2013 at 5:19 PM

      If someone would have asked him, Phil would have said “Boston is a mess” too. Rivers not sure about returning. KG and Pierce about done. The light at the end of the tunnel looks bleak for both right now. But sounds like as long as the Lakers are down you’ll be happy…lol.

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