LA Sports Beat - January 31, 2014

There's been a general consensus that Mike D'Antoni isn't to blame for the Lakers' poor season. With so many injuries, the consensus goes, it's nearly impossible for the Lakers to win any games. To a large extent, I agree with that general opinion. D'Antoni's system relies on solid point guard play, and the Lakers literally have no decent point guards with Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar and then makeshift point guards Kobe Bryant and Xavier Henry all missing significant time.

So if the Lakers don't have the personnel to run the D'Antoni system right now, then why are they still running it? Last year, D'Antoni was routinely criticized for trying to run an up-tempo offense with an old and slow team. He eventually adjusted - sort of. This year, it's clear that D'Antoni once again doesn't have the right players to play his preferred style.

Usually when a team has less athleticism and talent than its opponents, it tries to win by slowing the game down and playing tough defense. But the Lakers are 29th in the NBA in team defense, giving up over 106 points per game. They're one of the worst rebounding teams in the league, yet one of their best rebounders in Jordan Hill is averaging less than 20 minutes a game. Seven-foot Chris Kaman has barely seen the floor this season, despite looking good playing alongside Pau Gasol in spurts.

Yes, D'Antoni has a million excuses to lose this season. But while I think the Lakers should tank, I'm assuming that D'Antoni actually wants to win. And while losing 17 out of 20, I'm not sure why he didn't change his strategy to suit the players who were actually in the lineup. Instead, it seems like the Lakers are following the same predictable script every night.

But I'm not the only person who doesn't believe in D'Antoni. Magic Johnson's criticisms have been well-documented. And I don't think the rest of the league buys into his philosophy either. If the Lakers want to attract quality free agents, then they'll need to do it with a different coach.

* * *

Stan Kroenke's purchase of land in Hollywood Park is certainly interesting, but it's a little too early to get excited. There's about a 30 major things that need to happen in order for the Rams to move into that location, and Sam Farmer does a nice job of breaking some of them down in the LA Times.

The one leg up that Kroenke has over Phil Anschutz and Ed Roski is that he actually owns a team. The Hollywood Park site is appealing if Kroenke can combine with the NFL to take over the full plot of land and then build out a new NFL Network studio and a West Coast outpost for the Hall of Fame. But I also can't see Roger Goodell letting the Rams leave so easily.

Remember, St. Louis lost the Cardinals to Phoenix in 1988. In an effort to attract an NFL team back, the city used public funds to build the Edward Jones Dome in 1995. I don't think Goodell wants cities to build new stadiums and risk losing their teams 20 years later. It's a dangerous precedent to set.

That all being said, the Rams, Raiders, and Chargers are still the three most likely teams to move to LA. Ironically, all three teams used to play in LA. There's really no way that you could argue the Rams and Raiders are better off having moved to St. Louis and Oakland. Both franchises would be worth significantly more if they had stayed, even if they were playing in sub-standard stadiums.

* * *

The Clippers are currently 33-16. Last year through the same number of games, they were one game better at 34-15. Now, I think Doc Rivers is one of the best coaches in the NBA, and the Clippers have dealt with a significant injury to Chris Paul. But maybe Vinny Del Negro wasn't as bad as everyone said he was.

* * *

I was at the USC-Cal basketball game last week, and while it was nice to see the Trojans get their first (and only) Pac-12 win so far, the highlight of the game was PA announcer Petros Papadakis. Despite an announced crowd of just 3,500, Papadakis wit and humor made the game considerably more fun than it would have been otherwise.

I've done a lot of public address announcing myself, but Papadakis brings a completely different style to the microphone. He engages with the crowd, he's not afraid to poke fun at people or silly promotions, and he says what's on everyone's mind. I hadn't been to a USC basketball game in about four years, but Papadakis has now improved to the point where I'd call him the best PA announcer in LA.


More by Phil Wallace:
LA Sports Beat - January 31, 2014
Blame Jerry Buss for the Lakers' woes; maybe Phil can save them
Lakers Basketball: Let them tank!
Will Steve Sarkisian win at USC?
Lakers 'faith' may lead to folly

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