I'm going to talk about the NBA today, but I want to wait until we are fully set with the East and West Finals before I talk about the playoffs. What I want to touch on is some recent head coaching news.
First, I think the Suns, who seem to be a real mess right now, which is a bummer for me since I pledged my fandom to them earlier this year, made a solid head coaching hire in Monty Williams. If he is given the extent of his contract, which I believe is 5 years, I think he can turn them into a playoff team. They have 2 young guys that have a shot to be all stars, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton. They just need to fill the team out with solid role players, and they seem to have some on the roster right now. Josh Jackson may never live up to the hyper coming out of college, but he has shown flashes. Mikail Bridges is the prototypical NBA role player. Kelly Oubre looks like he is ready to take the next step into full time, reliable starter. TJ Warren is a solid NBA player. And I really like their rookie from last year, Elie Okobo. They kept him in the G League for most of the year, a very smart move, and now, I think he is ready for the NBA. The Suns have some pieces, and I feel like Williams can succeed if given a real chance.
But, the main head coach rumor I want to talk about is Ty Lue possibly to the Lakers. I have mixed feelings on this move. For one, I am very conflicted because I think, from a player standpoint, this is a good move. Lue has shown that he doesn't back down to LeBron. He challenged him when they were in Cleveland together. He didn't put up with all of his demands. He, along with Erik Spoelstra, may be the only coaches that actually have LeBron;s respect. I also think it would be good for them to bring over a former player, a former champion at that, that wasn't a super star. This isn't like hiring Magic. Lue isn't Byron Scott. He is so much better than Kurt Rambis. What those guys had was star power as players, and I think the Lakers brass thought they could bring that over to coaching. What Lue has is coaching prowess, titles as a player and coach, but he was a role guy. He knew what he needed to do, did it and won. I think that is a smart choice as far as head coach.
The problem I keep having with the possibility of the Lakers hiring him is the roster construct of this iteration of the team. Lue is a solid coach that knows how to deal with a big time star like LeBron. But, while in Cleveland he also had other stars like Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. The rest of that roster had vets. They had guys that had been around for awhile in the NBA, had playoff experience and knew how to live the NBA life. Outside of LeBron, and a very few others, the Lakers do not have that. They are filled with young talent. They are filled with players that haven't fully grown into their NBA bodies yet. They are filled with a bunch of young guys that don't trust the front office after the whole Anthony Davis thing last year. It is a roster filled with the unknown, and I don't know how, or if, Lue can handle that. How is he going to deal with his three young guys that they were supposed to build this team around before LeBron signed there? Will Brandon Ingram be okay with becoming a very rich man's JR Smith? I think that is what LeBron and Lue want, but Ingram is so much better creating that just waiting for open shots. Lonzo Ball, while a much better defender, is no Kyrie Irving on offense. He is also hurt constantly. How is he going to perform when Lue completely turns the offense over to LeBron? He has a broken jumper, he doesn't get to the line and he is a much, much better passer than shooter. He needs to run the offense to be as effective as he can be. That won't happen when Lue is coach and he defers to LeBron. Kyle Kuzma, while being a very streaky shooter, is not Kevin Love or even, I mention him again, JR Smith. Kuzma can score, sometimes at will. But, he can be ice cold as well. He also doesn't rebound or outlet pass like Love does. He also isn't a great spot up shooter like Smith. Say what you will about JR Smith, but he was good at finding open spots while playing with LeBron, and hitting shots when he needed to. Kuzma isn't there yet, but I think Lue and LeBron will expect that now.
Outside of those three guys, and whoever they get in the late lottery, they don't have much in the way of solid veterans. JaVale McGee completely regressed last year. Lance Stephenson is washed. Mike Muscala is very blah. Josh Hart is okay, but he stumbled at the end of the year. Moe Wagner is nearly unplayable because he is a horrendous defender. I mean, they don't really have the guys, especially in the West, to compete. That is where I stop and really question if Lue is the guy to turn this Lakers team around. I will say that the roster could be vastly different after July 1. But for now I have to go with what they have. And what they have doesn't fit a LeBron led team coached by Ty Lue. They are not the 2016 and 17 Cavs. That was a roster built by LeBron for Lue to coach. This Lakers roster was totally messed up by what Magic and Rob Pelinka did this past offseason, and it isn't one that I put a lot of faith in with a 35 year old LeBron and Ty Lue. I think they are a playoff team, but no more than a 5 or 6 seed, at best, in the West. It is a whole different game in that conference.
All this hire truly shows me is that LeBorn and Klutch Sports are now in full control of the Lakers. While that may have been great 3 or 4 years ago, it doesn't hold the weight it once did. LeBron is old, and the AD thing really showed me a lot about Klutch when they don't get their way. Ty Lue is a solid, championship winning NBA head coach. I just don't think he is a good fit with this Lakers team the way it is constructed as of today. We will have to wait and see.
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing, the other host of the X Millennial Man Podcast, and the greatest basketball writer on the internet.
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