NBA PM: Is Princeton Offense Right For Lakers?
NBA head coaches often play it cool when talking about trades made by their teams, but when it comes to the Los Angeles Lakers’ acquisition of center Dwight Howard, head coach Mike Brown didn’t hold back.
“I got a little excited,” Brown said in an interview with ESPN Los Angeles. “I tried to jump up and down, but my mind was telling me to do something that my body wouldn’t allow me to do,” I almost pulled my hamstring sitting down. I don’t know if that’s ever happened to anybody, but I was so excited that my leg tensed up. I almost tore my hamstring. So I got up slowly and gave (GM Mitch Kupchak) and (owner) Jim Buss a hug. That might be the first hug they’ve gotten from their coach, ever, when it comes to a trade happening.”
From the Howard trade, talk turned very quickly to the hiring of assistant coach Eddie Jordan and the Princeton offense he will look to install in Los Angeles.
“I like some of the things that we did last year, and we’re going to keep some of those things in place,” Brown said. “But in the same breath, I’ve always been infatuated with what Eddie did when he was in Washington. I think if you take away the individual players and how talented they are — obviously if you have certain players it doesn’t matter what you run as long as you run something to their strengths, you’re going to have success offensively. So if you take away the individual players and their strengths and all that and just look at the purity of different offenses and how to defend them on a night in, night out basis, I always felt that the stuff (Jordan) did in Washington was difficult to defend. It was difficult to come up with a game plan because of the spacing and ball movement, and stuff like that.
“It’s a stress free offense, because of the counters that are built in, and so on and so forth. So I started looking into that at the beginning of the summer a little bit, and talked with a couple of guys that have done it on the collegiate level and on the professional level, and then I brought Eddie in for a while. I spent about a week or so with him, talking about it. So there’s a good chance we’re going to go down that road to incorporate some of that, or a lot of that, into what we did last year.”
Since the hiring of Jordan, some have questioned whether or not trying to run the Princeton offense with Steve Nash at point guard is really the way to go. It could stifle Nash’s inherent knack for running an effective offense, but Brown quickly laid those concerns aside.
“The way that we’ll put it together, Steve’s going to have an opportunity — he’s going to quarterback the team — and so he’s going to have an opportunity to come down the floor every possession and in early offense play pick-and-roll if he wants to,” Brown said. “It’s up to him, based on where he decides to take the ball or a call that he makes or an action that he does, it’s up to him to get us into some of the looks of the Princeton offense. So again, with him quarterbacking, or making that decision, he’ll still have a chance to get the ball back after he moves or after bodies move. I don’t want to completely give away what we’re trying to do, but in a nutshell, he will have an opportunity to play pick-and-roll at the beginning of almost every play set coming down the floor in early offense. And if not, he can also choose to get to some of the looks out of the Princeton by making a pass or doing an action or doing a call or whatever.”
Ultimately, it’s not going to be about implementing an ironclad offense that will be rigid and strictly enforced. The Princeton offense will be one of the weapons in the Lakers’ arsenal, but not the only weapon.
“That’s what’s exciting,” Brown said. “The versatility that we do have gives us the ability to do a lot of different things. We don’t want to give too much, especially early on, and then in the same breath as the season goes along we’re going to learn from them based on who they are individually and as a unit. I feel like I have a nice foundation, or a nice mix, in mind to give the team when you talk about combining some of the stuff that we did last year with some of the Princeton stuff that Eddie did in Washington, and then kind of going from there.”
No need to panic, Lakers fans. Kobe Bryant will still get to do many of the things that have made him one of the best players in the NBA for years. Nash is not going to be asked to completely change his game, either. Instead, Brown will look to implement the Princeton offense as a complementary piece, something that will no doubt have its share of love, but will not be the only offensive game plan deployed by the team in 2012-13.
Draft Prospect: Nate Wolters
South Dakota State guard Nate Wolters was among the many players competing at adidas Nations recently, and he talks to HOOPSWORLD about his experience at Nations, his Jackrabbits team and more in this exclusive interview:
The Philadelphia 76ers’ Next GM?
Almost a year ago in this space, HOOPSWORLD took a look at some of the names likely to surface as teams looked for new general managers. Several of those, including new Indiana Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard and Utah Jazz GM-to-be Dennis Lindsey, have already landed GM jobs. Another name in our pool is on the short list to become the new GM of the Philadelphia 76ers. Here’s what we said about Sam Hinkie in October of last year:
Sam Hinkie – Executive VP Basketball Operations – Houston Rockets
By all indications the new NBA collective bargaining agreement is going to change the way teams do business, favoring the “Moneyball” model used by Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane and showcased in the movie by the same name. That’s not a problem for Hinkie, who has been using the system for years. He’s entering his seventh with the Rockets after advising two NFL teams on draft strategy and also has a background in venture capital and private equity. When it comes to numbers crunching, Hinkie is a master, and his contributions to Houston’s front office are a big part of the reason why the Rockets have remained in the playoff chase despite massive injuries that would have relegated other teams to the bottom of the league. As NBA teams start to think about how they’re going to operate under a new business model, don’t be surprised if Hinkie’s name surfaces as a frontrunner for open GM positions.
Hinkie now has one more year of NBA experience under his belt in his role with the Rockets, making him that much more qualified for the Sixers’ job should it be offered. According to Sports Illustrated‘s Sam Amick, the Sixers are down to a handful of names in their search.
A leader in the league’s analytics movement who has been the Rockets’ second-in-command behind general manager Daryl Morey for the past five years, Hinkie joins a field of candidates that includes Boston assistant general manager Mike Zarren, former New Orleans general manager Jeff Bower, and former Portland assistant general manager and ESPN analyst Tom Penn. Sixers incumbent Rod Thorn has a year remaining on his contract, but his deal reportedly includes a provision through which he will become a part-time consultant with the team for the following five years as part of a transition that already has begun.
The Sixers have received permission to speak with Hinkie, though it’s not known if he has met with owner Josh Harris and his group. It also remains unclear whether Hinkie is willing to leave his job with the Rockets to continue his NBA front office ascent.
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