Perhaps the biggest loss the Lakers suffered this off-season was the departure of long time assistant coach Kurt Rambis. Rambis had been a fixture in the Purple and Gold fold for nearly three decades as a player, front office staffer and coach.
Last season, Phil Jackson took an NFL-like approach to delegating duties to his assistants. For all intents and purposes, Rambis was the Lakers’ defensive coordinator during the ’08-09 season.
Now that Rambis has become the new head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves, his duties will be split among the rest of the assistants. The front office opted not to hire a replacement, thus the same staff is in tact minus Rambis.
Many have speculated that Brian Shaw is being groomed to slide one seat down and replace Jackson in the near future. Jackson is in the final year of his contract. There are plenty of rumors out there as to what the future holds for the head coach who has hung more banners than any other in NBA history. Jackson’s health has been a concern in recent years and at one point there was talk of PJ only coaching games in Staples Center this season.
Shaw will be much more involved this year and could see some time as the head coach in lieu of Jackson potentially missing time on the sideline. In addition to Shaw, long time assistant Frank Hamblen is back along with Jim Cleamons and Craig Hodges.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has spent the last few years working as a special assistant with Andrew Bynum but it has been reported that his role will be lessened this year.
One coach who will be sorely missed is a man who rarely was on the sidelines but was always with the team in spirit. Tex Winter, the man who literally wrote the book on the Triangle Offense, suffered a stroke last April. He has since been restricted to his home in Oregon, where his wife sees to his daily needs.
Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times reports that Winter will be in attendance on October 27th, when the Lakers receive their championship rings on opening night.
If there were any justice in this crazy, mixed-up, basketball world, Winter would be voted into the Hall of Fame. Six times his name has appeared on the ballot and all six times he has not received the passing vote.
It is hard to imagine what the careers of Phil Jackson, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant (to name a few) would have been like without the visionary mind of Tex Winter.
With so many questions hovering around the future of Phil Jackson, this season will not be without its melodramatic moments.
There is already talk of this Lakers squad chasing the ‘95-96 Bulls’ record of 72 wins in the regular season.
Is it possible for an NBA team to go an entire season with single digit losses?
Given the numerous moves made this off-season to bolster the rosters of the competition, the likelihood of 73 wins seems impossible. If this is going to be Jackson’s NBA swan song, then what would be a better exclamation point than an almost untouchable win total?
Well, an 11th NBA title and yet another back-to-back run would do just fine for PJ, but suffering just 9 losses would be icing on the cake.
(As a side note, we at Lake Show Life wish Rambis the best of luck in Minnesota. Hopefully, the T-Wolves’ brass will remain patient as he molds his young roster.)