Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Trade Colin Kaepernick? Stupid Move









San Francisco 49ers' GM Trent Baalke has made some really stupid moves. So far, teaming with owner Jed York to run brilliant but difficult head coach Jim Harbaugh out of town has been his most infamous blunder. But Baalke is about to top himself. Looks like he's going to get rid of QB Colin Kaepernick.

Dumb, dumb,,,

This time Baalke has some powerful opposition--new coach Chip Kelly. A renowned QB guru, Kelly is no dummy. He doesn't want to lose Kaepernick  Give Kelly some raw material and, with his high-speed, unorthodox system,  he'll come up with a polished QB. Big, fast and blessed with one of the strongest arms in the league, the 28-year-old QB has all the tools. Just give Kelly time to work his magic..

Kaepernick isn't what he used to be. After a few good years, he's fallen on hard times, regressing drastically. Last season he was truly horrible. He's been slowed by injuries and his confidence, normally one of his strengths, has taken a major hit. Because he's still not 100%, he's been forced to take a backseat to a lame QB, Blaine Gabbert, who's been getting all the playing time. A healthy, fit Kaepernick leaves Gabbert in the dust.

One reason Kaepernick has been slow getting back to normal is his recent preoccupation with political activism. To protest racism and police brutality against minorities in America, Kaepernick, who is biracial, refuses to stand up when the national anthem is being played pregame, first sitting but now kneeling. All of a sudden, he's the center of a media firestorm. Some support him but many have been raging against him. Lately, he's even been receiving death threats.

No question, Kaepernick has been a distraction. Not only that, he's being paid around $12 million a year Baalke, no doubt, is thinking Kaepernick, now just a over-paid bench-warmer, is more trouble than he's worth.

What Baalke has to do is look past the current mess and focus on Kaepernick, the potentially great QB. Kaepernick led the Niners to the Super Bowl once, he can do it again. If you dump him, then what? Without him the 49ers are left with Gabbert and another stiff, minimally talented Christian Ponder. These are bottom feeders who aren't going to get any better. One huge problem with the Niner offense is that Gabbert is a lousy long passer, which keeps defenses clustered around the line of scrimmage, which is lethal to their running game. Face it. With Gabbert or Ponder running the offense, the Niners will never make the playoffs.

The 49ers have just one hope--a healthy Kaepernick schooled by Kelly. Possibly the coach can figure out how to get him back on the right track.Unquestionably, Kaepernick's activism will get in the way. Restoring the QB to peak form won't be easy but it can be done. Otherwise the team is headed for another crappy season, with three-to-five wins.

Fortunately the locker room, in turmoil when Kaepernick launched his career as an activist a few weeks ago, has settled down. Realizing he's their best shot at a good season, most of the players would like the keep the QB.

Hopefully GM Baalke comes to his senses and bails out of this dumb dump-Kaepernick mode. But, given his penchant for boneheaded moves, don't count on it.







Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Fire USC Football Coach Helton!








Last Nov. 30,  USC hired interim coach Clay Helton as head football coach after he had posted a 5-2
record. I thought that was a big mistake. Not only wasn't he dynamic or creative or an exceptional leader or a big-time motivator or a superior bench coach but, most important, he had no head coaching experience. The prestigious SC job seemed too big for this career assistant.

Since he was hired he's coached three huge games--two last season, against Stanford and Wisconsin, and the season opener Saturday against No.1 Alabama, He blew all three, including Saturday's 52-6 mauling by Bama in Arlington, Texas. That one really turned off many SC fans, The "fire Helton" rants have already started.

Hate to say I told you so, but.......

Examine that Bama fiasco and you can only conclude that Helton doesn't know what the hell he's doing. It was one of the low points in the long, glorious history of USC football, the worst loss since Notre Dame crushed the Trojans 51-0 in 1966.  Who deserves the blame for this mess? It's all on Helton.

SC wasn't ready to play, though the team had several weeks to prepare.The SC players looked lost and tentative and, too often, were totally out of position. Helton and his staff were overwhelmed, misusing timeouts, making the wrong adjustments, etc. Sure Bama has superior players but the Trojans have some quality talent too. You wouldn't know it, though, from the way they staggered through the game..

SC hung in there through most of the first half but you knew it was just the calm before the storm. In the second half, after the Bama staff sized up the Trojans, the Tide really rolled. SC just rolled over and played dead. They actually quit. At times you could see they were just going through the motions. Helton and his staff didn't have a clue how to jar them out of that funk.

Bama piled up 465 yards of offense, while SC's offense couldn't even crack the 200-yard mark. The Trojans needed a strong run game but they couldn't put a dent in that brick wall set up by Bama's front seven, racking up a pitiful 64 rushing yards. Even in the second half, when Bama was playing its scrubs, SC was stymied. Part of the problem was the inexperienced Trojan QBs, who couldn't get the offense in gear. But Bama is just as inexperienced at QB, yet they managed to get the job done. You think Bama's smart, skilled coaching staff might be a primary reason?

This game should have been competitive, with a score like 30-17. A loss like that would have hurt but not as much as a blow-out. The SC players needed a boost, some savvy guidance and a kick in the butt from Helton and his staff, but didn't get any of that.

Go back to the last decade, during the Pete Carroll heyday. Can you imagine a Carroll-coached team getting pummeled like this? No way. SC might have lost but would have at least been competitive.

That's because Carroll was a good coach. But SC doesn't have a decent coach now. Since Carroll, there has been a parade of second-tier guys in charge. Helton may be the worst yet. So, SC fans, expect more stumbles during this season, particularly since the Trojans have one of the toughest schedules in the nation.

One thing you can be sure of, that the "Fire Helton!" cries will get get louder and louder.









Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Kaepernick Mess: Where It's Headed







San Francisco 49er QB Colin Kaepernick is in deep trouble. He's a football player who doesn't seem to care about football at the moment.

His football career is hanging by a thread, yet that's clearly not his focus. On Friday, he was launched into the realm of racial politics--on a national level yet. Just before the Niners played the Green Bay Packers, Kaepernick, who is biracial, decided not to stand during the pregame national anthem, protesting, he later explained, the nation's mistreatment of blacks and other minorities..

During the next 24 hours, all hell broke loose

Some fans support his protest. Others condemn him for disrespecting the flag and the anthem. He has the support of the Niner organization and the NFL doesn't require players to stand when the anthem is being played. But it's not possible penalties that's the problem. As a QB he's on shaky ground--actually. more like quicksand. This is the same QB who, a few seasons ago, was riding high, barely missing a Super Bowl win. Then in his mid twenties, big, with great speed and a rocket arm,  he was considered the model QB, the future of the NFL.

But in Friday's game, which the Niners lost 21-10, he looked terrible--sloppy passing, completing just 2 of 6 dinky throws, indecision, lackluster running,. Part of it was plain old rust. He hasn't played since last November, and it showed  He's also recovering from a shoulder injury, which has limited his practice time. Even more important, he's playing for a new coach, Chip Kelly, in a new system with many new players.

During the off season, Kaepernick, 28, wanted to be traded. The Jets and Broncos were possibilities but the Niners never could work out a deal. The problem was that his last two seasons were awful. He was regressing and no one could figure out why. Many thought Kelly, who has a knack with QBs, could fix whatever is ailing Kaepernick. But, because the QB has been rehabbing that bum shoulder, Kelly hasn't had a chance to do much with him.

Kaepernick isn't even good enough to reclaim his starting job from Blaine Gabbert, who has a fraction of Kaepernick's talent and has been regarded, at best, as a career backup.

But now Colin K not just a football player, he's also a civil-rights activist. That will be a major distraction from now on. The Niners probably aren't sure what to do with him. He has great potential, but will it ever be realized? His average annual salary is $19 million. Right now he's worth nowhere near that.

What happens now?

Kaepernick's career may be circling the drain at the moment, but he will resurrect it, with the help of Kelly or the coach of some other team. He has way too much talent to fall by the wayside.

But what will happen to Kaepernick the activist? Will he sit down again when the anthem is played pregame? All this raises an even bigger question. Will Kaepernick's protest trigger activism among other athletes, pro and/or college?

On this front, the next few months will be very interesting.







Saturday, June 18, 2016

How To Fix An NBA Game








Don't listen to the analysts who say fixing an NBA game is so complicated and insanely complex and involves so many people that it never happens.

That's rubbish. Fixes happen in the NBA. Not only that, they aren't all that difficult to execute..

By the way, the players aren't involved. It's just the refs--very few refs. In college, where fixing means point-shaving, gamblers involve players and that gets messy, because you're dealing with amateurs. So it often doesn't work. Limiting it to officials keeps it simple.

In the NBA, for the most part, fixing is shaving points to fix point spreads for gamblers. But at playoff time, it can also entail adjusting the game to help a team win to extend a series. Obviously, for TV networks, a six-or-seven game series is preferable to a four-game sweep or a five-game series. The longer the series, the more money for everybody. The networks downplay that or point out that's not true, but that's crap. The longer the series the more money for everybody. Period.

In the playoffs, in certain critical series, there are covert ways for refs to get orders to quietly do what they can to help underdogs. This doesn't go on in every game, just certain games in certain series..

Over the years a very small percentage of NBA refs have been working with gamblers, who have, here and there, leaked info that the NBA, at times, has also ordered adjustments in certain playoff games. My info comes from two sources that are close to three veteran gamblers.

The NBA isn't stupid. They have a whole network of checks and balances set up to spot fixes. The bad gays, though, are way ahead of the good guys. It's like in sports where there are tests to spot doping. The tests are always several steps behind, so it's tough catching the cheaters.

Here's a key point. Fixing an NBA game isn't always possible. Let's say, if the fix is on in five games, in two of them, it doesn't get done. Sometimes a ref looking to influence a game can't do it because the adjustments would be too obvious.

One way that refs can fix a game is by making the game look like it's sloppily refereed overall. In the context of many bad calls, it's easier to execute a fix. But if a ref is involved in too many badly called games, that hurts his record and may keep him from being assigned to important games. So fixers have to be careful with this tactic.

Game six of this Warriors-Cavaliers series was, from an officiating standpoint, a mess. Some of the calls were atrocious. Cleveland needed that win to tie the series and force a game seven. They got it. Some calls severely damaged the Warriors. Specifically, Steph Curry was in foul trouble the whole game, which effected his play, and eventually got him kicked out.

Some Warrior fans, even Golden Sate coach Steve Kerr, insist some of the calls against Curry were bogus.
Were they just bad calls or part of a fix? It's hard to say. But if it was a fix, it was nicely done.









Friday, June 10, 2016

Why The Cavaliers' Game Three Rout is Meaningless.







Relax, Golden State Warrior fans.

There's nothing wrong with your team. That 120-90 drubbing by the Cleveland Cavaliers is no cause for concern. What it meant is that the Warriors didn't take that game seriously. After crushing the Cavs in Oakland in the first two games of the Finals, they know they're better than Cleveland and can whip the Cavs when it counts. To the Warriors, that third game was a perfect time for a siesta.

The difference was the Warrior defense. In the first quarter you could see the GS defenders weren't sharp. They were a step slow, and often late on their rotations, playing closer to matador defense than lock-down defense. When Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving, a lame defender who tends to disappear in the clutch, scores 16 points in the first quarter, you know the defense is tanking.

Also, and very important, the Cavs were desperate. Losing that game meant slipping to an 0-3 deficit, essentially a death sentence. Desperate teams play all out for 48 minutes and tend to play way over their heads. That was Cleveland on Wednesday.

That day, the Warriors weren't even close to matching the Cavs'  intensity. It's nearly impossible for a team to switch its mental attitude once the game starts. If their heads aren't in the game and they start out in first gear, they are not going to shift into overdrive during the game. It's like the Warriors' loss to the lowly, pathetic Lakers during the season. Playing at their usual high level, the Warriors could destroy the Lakers by 40..But the Warriors, for some reason, were playing at half speed and got pummeled. They had that same I'm-on-vacation attitude on Wednesday.

You know something is wrong when the short-handed Cavs can kill the Warriors. Cleveland was without starting power forward Kevin Love, sidelined by a concussion. OK, so Love may be soft and slow-footed but he's still a decent player. In his place was ancient Richard Jefferson, who racked up 9 points and 8 boards. When Love comes back, he'll be sub par. Jefferson is too old to be effective for the rest of the series. With Love ailing, Jefferson will be forced to play more minutes than usual. Also, that will weaken an already weak bench.

Part of the Warriors' problem is that their big stars, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, have played poorly in the series. Curry, hampered by an injured knee, isn't in top form. But he still is healthy enough to beat the Cavs, who aren't capable of playing great defense--which they did on Wednesday--for long. With that bad bench, the team won't have the energy to keep the Warriors down the rest of the way.. 

To win the Finals, the Cavs have to win one in Oakland, which they simply don't have enough talent to do. The Warriors took a game off and they may do it again--on the road.

When the Warriors have to win games, they will do it. Remember, they beat the Thunder, which is a much better team than Cleveland.

So Warrior fans, you can relax. At the end of Finals, the Cavs will slink back to Cleveland, empty-handed..











Thursday, June 2, 2016

Golden State v Cleveland? Mere Anti-Climax








Golden State Warriors will battle the Cleveland Cavaliers for the NBA title. What's wrong with this announcement?

Everything.

The NBA championship has already been settled. It happened early in the week. The problem is that it happened in a series with a misleading title. The Golden State Warriors beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in game 7 to win the Western Conference Finals. But Golden State did more than win the West. That was the unofficial NBA title series. They really won the league championship, their second in a row.

Hail the NBA champion Warriors!

Though billed as the NBA championship, this series between Golden State and Cleveland is just an anti-climax. Remember back in the 1980 Olympics, the "Miracle on Ice," when the US hockey team upset Russia, David v Goliath-style, in a semifinal round? Everybody treated that like a Gold Medal win. But it wasn't. The US still had to play Finland, a much lesser opponent, to claim the Gold Medal, which they did.

Golden State is in the same position as that 1980 US hockey team. The Warriors already beat the toughest competitor, Oklahoma City, but they still have to knock off another team, Cleveland, which is not as tough, to officially take the title.

The main question is whether the Warriors can get revved up enough to play the Cavaliers, who aren't as good as the best in the West. Cleveland wouldn't fare well against the other top Western teams. The Thunder would whip the Cavs in a seven-game series. So would the rugged San Antonio Spurs, who have the best defense in the NBA but only finished third in the West.

Cleveland won the East, but so what? In the playoffs, they powered through the powder-puff schedule like a buzz-saw through balsa wood, first shutting out Detroit and Atlanta. They had a little trouble with Toronto, losing two in Canada after blowing out the Raptors twice in Cleveland. What happened is that the Cavs got lazy and over-confident on the road, mailing in two low-intensity performances. But then Cleveland restored order in game five, showing Toronto who was boss with a demoralizing 116-78 victory, followed by a game 6 rout, cinching the Eastern crown.

Now the Cavs finally have to face a top-notch team. Cleveland is well rested, having played fewer games and having faced weak competition. But the Cavs have a huge problem--inferior defense. LeBron James will play at his usual high level, but rest of the Big Three, point guard Kyrie Irving and forward Kevin Love, don't have the skills to shut down the Warriors fast-paced offense, which is highlighted by deadly three-point shooting. When Steph Curry and Klay Thompson get in rhythm, they are unstoppable. The Thunder couldn't do it. The Cavs certainly can't.

The Warriors' only problem is energy and maintaining interest. That seven-game series against the Thunder was tense, brutal and draining. It may take a while for the Warriors to recover. They also know Cleveland isn't as formidable as the Thunder so they may be mentally in low gear for a game or two. So don't be surprised if Golden State loses one of the first two in Oakland.  

Bottom line: the Warriors, with Curry and Thompson, are simply much better than Cleveland, with a superior starting five, defense, offense and bench. Cleveland has the best all-around player, James, but that's not nearly enough. It shouldn't take six games, but even if it takes seven, the Warriors will officially win a title they unofficially already own.









Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Oklahoma City Chokers









There was really no need to play game seven of the NBA's Western Conference Finals. Officially Golden State beat Oklahoma City,96-88, to win the West. But the winner was a forgone conclusion. No way were the Warriors going to lose a game seven at home..

The matter was really settled Saturday, when the Thunder frittered away a lead at home in the final minutes, losing 108-101. The Thunder owned that game, leading nearly all the way, But they couldn't handle the pressure of those last few minutes. Nerves and anxiety gripped the Thunder players near the end. Instead of playing smoothly in those critical last few moments, they got rattled and flustered.

There's no other way to say it. The Thunder players choked--big time..

In those pressurized minutes, they couldn't do anything right. They were throwing wild passes, bricking shots, making horrible decisions, playing sloppy defense. You could see it in their eyes--the fear, the tension.

The Thunder had a 101-99 lead with nearly two minutes to go. But they didn't score again, while the Warriors scored nine points, looking confident in the clutch..

During the season, the Thunder blew many games in the fourth quarter. What would happen is their two stars, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, would suddenly play selfishly. When the Thunder got the ball on offense, either one would hog the ball, never passing. Either player would drive for a layup or take a heavily-contested jump shot, ignoring their teammates. They would revert to one-on-five, playground basketball.

Both would forget in those moments that the way they built the lead was playing team ball, with lots of passing, with Durant and Westbrook dishing off to teammates who had open shots. That's how they won the opening game of the Western Finals in Oakland, how they crushed the Warriors in Oklahoma City in games three and four, taking what seemed to be an insurmountable 3-1 lead.

But the Thunder played less intensely in game five, losing in Oakland, gearing up to clinch the series in game six in Oklahoma City. Things went according to plan, until those last few minutes, when they had to keep their heads and play with poise. But they couldn't do it. The situation was too overwhelming. They collapsed, while the Warriors played like champs.

Series was really over then..

Both teams still had to play game seven but the outcome was never in doubt, even when the Thunder had a double-digit lead in the first half. The Thunder wasn't going to win. Deep down they knew it. So did the Warriors, who outscored the Thunder 29-12 in the third quarter. That was the game. In the fourth quarter, the Warriors lead all the way, with Stephen Curry leading the way. The Thunder crept close a few times, but could never hit the clutch shots to put them in the lead. Meanwhile, the Warriors hit clutch shot after clutch shot.

According to two sources close to the team, the Thunder players were squabbling and finger-pointing while flaming out late in game six. Apparently the bickering continued up to game seven. That solid, united front the Thunder presented up to game time was just that--a front..

The Thunder second-half collapse in game seven was no surprise. They were doomed--and they knew it. They played tentatively and erratically in crunch time--just what you'd expect from chokers.









Thursday, May 26, 2016

Oklahoma Thunder To Beat Warriors In Six Games








All the drama has been drained out of the Western Conference Finals, with the Oklahoma Thunder roaring to a 3-1 lead over the champion Golden State Warriors in the seven-game series.

Yet some do say the Warriors can rally and win three straight. They're dreaming..

Based on what has already happened, this is what's most likely to happen: OKC wins in six. Look for the Thunder to lose Thursday in Oakland. It's similar to their lone loss, 112-91, a beat-down in the second game in Oakland. Then the Thunder shocked the basketball world by winning the series opener on the road, against a team that rarely loses at home. OKC's goal was a split in the first two road games. They got that victory in the first game so they were indifferent to winning the next one. Also, they expended so much energy winning that first one that they needed to recharge. So, with minimal opposition from the Thunder, the Warriors stormed to a victory in that second game..

Golden State fans relaxed and gloated that their team would cruise from then on. They were already mulling over how the Warriors would play against Cleveland in the Championship series.

But wait...

That wasn't the real OKC in that second game. The real OKC showed up and destroyed the Warriors in the the next two in Oklahoma City.

Now what?

Worn out from the last two wins, OKC should take another breather on Thursday. The Warriors, backs against the wall, should come out desperate and play like champs, giving their all to avoid that series-ending fourth loss. Meanwhile, the Thunder will revert to their cruise-control form of the second game and focus on recharging and resting up for Saturday's game in Oklahoma City.

Then OKC will play like they did in those last two home games. It will be a blitzkrieg of passion and fury for a full 48 minutes. The Warriors will play really hard, but won't be able to match the overpowering force of the Thunder, who will give the most supercharged performance in franchise history.

Their motivation? Avoiding a seventh game in Oakland, which they could easily lose..

Don't rule out a Thunder win on Thursday. OKC looks like the better team, particularly with Warrior stars Stephen Curry and Draymond Green in subpar form. But a Thunder win in this game is not likely against a super-motivated Golden State.

If you're betting, smart money is on the Thunder in six.










Friday, May 20, 2016

Why The Thunder Will Whip Warriors in Game 3








The Thunder should topple the Warriors in game three of the Western Conference Finals, currently tied 1-1, on Sunday.in Oklahoma City.

Don't laugh. I'm serious.

Like most fans, you're probably misreading the situation. That means looking at the Warriors' 118-91 rout of the Thunder in Wednesday's game two as an indication that Golden State will roll over OKC in the remainder of the seven-game series.

That's not going to happen. The problem is that everyone is reading too much into that game two win.

That wasn't the real Thunder you saw getting trampled by the Warriors on Wednesday. The Thunder players were in cruise mode. They felt they didn't need that game. They went into Oakland, hoping to win one of the two games there, opening the Finals. Surprise! They won the opener, 108-102, a remarkable feat considering the Warriors are just about unbeatable at home. OKC got their win on the first try. They were content to leave Oakland tied 1-1. So for the time being, they had wrested home-court advantage from the Warriors. Mission accomplished.

Consequently, to the Thunder, that Wednesday game wasn't essential. They certainly played like it wasn't. They already had their win, so they played with no real intensity, no grit, no relentless focus, no sense of urgency. It was far from their best effort, many notches below their performance in the first game. One of their strengths is offensive rebounding. Their burly big men--Steven Adams and Enes Canter--weren't furiously crashing the boards and patrolling the paint like they did in the opener,.

The Warriors owned the Wednesday game before it started. Had they lost they would have been down 0-2 with the series shifting to Oklahoma City. They would have been in a very deep hole, having to win four out of the remaining five games. Also, losing two consecutive home games would have been demoralizing and confidence-shaking. No question, they were in desperation mode. It would have taken a monumental effort by the Thunder would beat the inspired Warriors, in Oakland, in that second game.

In gambling circles, Wednesday's contest was considered a Golden State lock. The Warriors were an 8 1/2 point favorite. Many heavyweight bettors, putting big bucks on GS, cleaned up.

But Sunday's game, in Oklahoma City, will be an entirely different story. You'll see the Thunder you saw in the series' opener--super-intense, focused, ferocious, playing punishing defense, especially on the perimeter. They'll be dedicated to keeping the Golden State sharp-shooters out of their comfort zone. Cut down on the Warriors' three-point production and you can beat them.

The Thunder need this game. Chances of them winning again in Oakland are slim. The Warriors are unlikely to drop two home games in a series where they have home-court advantage. So if the Thunder are going claim the Western championship, they will have to win all their home games.

The Warriors weren't seriously challenged by the Thunder on Wednesday. They will be on Sunday, Fueled by an over-the-top urgency, the Thunder players will give their all for 48 minutes..If they lose this game, they will probably lose the series. That threat will be their driving force.

OKC is the underdog, but by a slim 2 1/2 points. If you're a gambler, put some money on them. When they are at the top of their game, giving maximum effort, they can beat anybody. They are that good. Remember, in this playoff run they have road wins over two teams--the Spurs and the Warriors--that seemed invincible at home.

Look for OKC, in their house, to come away with a victory on Sunday..









Monday, May 2, 2016

Lakers Hire Head Coach Luke Walton--Another Mistake?







Once again the LA Lakers' fans are in la-la land. They're so eager to get rid of the stench of the last few seasons, they're ignoring reality and indulging in their favorite pastime--looking at the NBA through rose-colored glasses.

They are looking at new coach Luke Walton as the team's ticket back to the promise land. This, of course, is because of Walton's success as the No.1 assistant coach of the Golden State Warriors, the reigning NBA champs who are favored to repeat..

What has fans salivating over Walton is that, when Warriors' head coach Steve Kerr missed the first half of this season, Walton took over, piloting the team to a glossy 39-4 record, including a league record 24-0 start. Kerr returned for the second half, leading the Warriors to break the coveted NBA season wins record by one, reaching 73.. For his efforts, Walton tied for 8th in the coach-of-the-year race, which was won by Kerr,.

Naturally Walton has been the hottest coach around, the one fancied by just about every team with a head-coaching vacancy. But he chose the Lakers, where he spent nine years as a backup forward, earning rings in 2009 and 2010.

However, does his success with the Warriors mean he has the skill, smarts and patience to clean up the mess that is the Lakers? The fans enthusiastically say "Yes!." But are they off base?

Maybe..

Walton, 36, is really a wet-behind-the-ears novice. Aside from heading the Warriors for a few months he has no head coaching experience and, with Memphis and Golden State, limited assistant-coaching experience.. Being temporary head coach of the Warriors is something just about any NBA assistant could do. This is the most fundamentally sound team in the league, excelling in offense and defense, always blocking out, sprinting through transitions, rarely flubbing rotations, doing just about everything right. In preseason the players decided to chase the Chicago Bulls' 72-win season record, so they were committed to playing hard for 48 minutes every game. They had no serious injuries or major tensions between players that would derail their effort.

So if Walton didn't have to motivate the players or juggle lineups due to injuries or break up fights, what did he really have to do? Not that much. The Warriors are a well-oiled machine that basically runs itself. All Walton had to do was get out of the way and not do anything to screw things up. That's certainly easy enough. It was like being behind the wheel of a Ferrari set on cruise control...

But does what he did with the Warriors qualify him to rejuvenate the Lakers?. Now he's been handed the keys to a broken-down jalopy and asked to turn it into a sleek sports car. That's something entirely different.

This time Walton is starting from square one. He has a core of talented young players that don't know how to play together. For the last two years coach Byron Scott, who was just fired, put player development on the back-burner, primarily focusing on managing Kobe Bryant's final years. One of Walton's main jobs will be restoring players' faith in point guard D'Angelo Russell who, in a infamous, juvenile internet scandal, threw teammate Nick Young under the bus. That's a major problem that will require skillful handling.

Righting the sinking Lakers' ship is unlike anything Walton has ever done. At 36, he's close to the age of his players and is known as a players' coach. But is that a good thing? Getting the Lakers back on track might require tough, veteran leadership. It was available in stern, defense-minded Tom Thibodeau, who was interested in the Lakers job. But the team never made a move to get him, so he was hired by the Minnesota Timberwolves to lead that promising young  team..

In next few years, here's a likely scenario: the Wolves flourish while the Lakers flounder, with Thibodeau basking in praise while Laker management, once again, is getting blasted for hiring the wrong coach.

If this scenario plays out--and I think it will--disgruntled Laker fans may finally have to ditch those rose-colored glasses.