Archives For June 2005

Weekend Reading

Kurt —  June 24, 2005

Want to pass on a couple of fascinating links worth checking out, both for Laker fans and just hoops fans.

It may seem a little odd to talk about basketball on Only Baseball Matters, but Broken Cowboy has done an interesting interview with Charlie Rosen talking about his new book — The Pivotal Season: How the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers Changed the NBA — as well as other topics from how that team was the first to do shootarounds the mornings of games drug use in the NBA. And of course, there’s a little talk of the current Lakers. It’s a lengthy, wide-ranging and well-done Q&A, I’m going to pass on a couple of highlights to whet your appetite:

(The 71-72 Lakers) were like a mystery team. Because they played out in California, and the media center was still in New York, still on the East Coast, so nobody knew what was happening out there. You rarely saw them on television. I mentioned in the book, even a playoff game was on delayed tape. They played some auto, NASCAR race, that was also on delayed tape. Nobody really knew who they were or what were they all about. What’s so great about them? They were a rumor on the East Coast.

Kobe is selfish, and he’s an egomaniac, and he’s impulsive, and he’s arrogant, and he’s this, this, this… but there’s something about him that is appealing. He is a nice kid. And deep down in there there is, at least there used to be, this kind of effervescent quality about him that’s very appealing. And it’s there. It’s kind of hidden and locked away, but it’s still there. Plus, Phil respects his talent. Is he the best player in the NBA? Phil thinks so. He’s a clutch player, too, not afraid to make the clutch shots. And when he’s into it, he’s just as good a defensive player as he is an offensive player. He is a Jordanesque type player, which you can’t say about anyone else in the game today. So I think Phil thinks there’s enough there for them to connect.

Caron Butler may or may not be a Laker next season, and he knows it. He did a Q&A with his local paper in Racine, Wisconsin, where he talks about a host of NBA topics (including that the Bucks should draft Williams over Bogut).

I was at the press conference and I also was at the gym when (Phil) came in the next day. We were working out some draftees and he was telling me how he wanted to use me. He wanted me to continue to work on my ball handling. I’m going to handle the ball a lot, just like I did my first year in Miami (2002-03). It’s kind of like Scottie Pippen played in the triangle offense, bringing the ball up and doing a lot of things with it, so I’m going to be able to use my versatility.

Sit Back and Enjoy

Kurt —  June 23, 2005

Anything I say will detract from the drama. If you want a little history of NBA Finals game sevens, Hoopsanalyst has an interesting post up (but be warned, the Lakers have not faired well in these games historically). Just open a beer and be ready for what should be a fun game to watch.

Let’s Get Small

Kurt —  June 22, 2005

Last season the Lakers’ weakest point was at the point — it was the worst cog offensively and the worst cog defensively. It is clearly one of the team’s pressing needs this summer.

That doesn’t change with the arrival of Phil Jackson — what does change is who will be looked at. The Lakers don’t need a classic ball distributor (ala John Stockton) because ball-handling duties are more spread out in Jackson’s offense. But they still need someone who can defend.

The good news is they may be able to get that through the draft — point guard is the deepest position in this year’s class. The bad news is everybody wants one. Teams drafting ahead of the Lakers such as Utah, Toronto, New Orleans and more need a point guard, too. That’s why, if the Lakers do decide to trade up, I think they will be looking at point guards — they will have their eye on someone and will be moving up to get him.

So, to quote early Steve Martin, let’s get small. (As I wrote for the post on Bigs: This is my current list of who the Lakers should draft. This list is subject to change because, frankly, I haven’t seen all these guys play (I just try to read a lot) and I’ve been known to change my mind. I can be swayed by good arguments/evidence.)

1) Deron Williams: He’s big (6-3, 210), tested out as quick as Raymond Felton in the Chicago pre-draft camp and he stepped up on the big stage in the NCAA Tournament this year. Oh, add to that he is best known for his defense, which is NBA ready. His shooting may be a step behind — he shot 36.4% from the college three-point line last season and scored 1.19 points per shot attempt, both good but not great college numbers — but he can score some and has shown a great work ethic. This kid screams “Phil Jackson-style” point guard. To get him, the Lakers will have to trade up because he will be gone by three or four.

2) Chris Paul: He is the consensus best point guard in the draft and has had his all-around game compared to Jason Kidd. He shot 47.4% from three-point range and scored 1.54 points per shot attempt. And lest your forget two years ago, he carried Georgia Tech to the NCAA Final Four. He’s quick and a solid defender. He’s a can’t miss type guy. He’s gone unless the Lakers trade up.

3) Raymond Felton: Here’s where it gets hard, I think the Lakers could go with Felton or Jarrett Jack if they stay at 10 (and if Felton is still on the board at that point). I’m putting Felton on top because of defense — he’s quick and showed in the NCAA Tournament this year he can stop just about anyone and that is something the Lakers need. The knock on his defense at the NBA level is Felton is just 6-0, but he is a strong 200 pounds — this is not a Chucky Atkins body, think more Derek Fisher’s build. He will not get pushed around much if he is posted up. Offensively, last season he started to develop a more consistent outside shot and hit 35.8% of his three pointers. Felton’s athleticism may fit better in a run-and-gun style, but he would be a big upgrade for the Lakers.

4) Jarrett Jack: Two years ago, when he had more talent around him, Jack was primarily a passer. This past season, he took on more of the scoring load. Basically, he can do what he wants offensively. He fits the Phil Jackson mold by being 6-3, 200. His defense is considered good, not great. Did have some turnover issues, but that may be less of a concern in the triangle where he would not be the only ball handler/distributor. Jack is solid everywhere if not spectacular anywhere, if the Lakers take him they will get a guy who can fit in quickly.

—————————–

If the Lakers take a point guard in the first round, it will be one of those four. What follows are some point guards who may be around when the Lakers draft in the second round (they have picks 37 and 39, providing those aren’t traded). These guys are more projects but may make the team.

Daniel Ewing: He comes out of Duke, so you know his fundamentals are solid. He’s 6-3, 185 and played both guard positions in college so he has some versatility. The good news is he is a tenacious defender and may someday become a defensive stopper off the bench. The downside is his offense is questionable and his ball handling average. He may develop into a point. I like the idea of taking him, maybe sending him to the NDBL for a year (maybe not) and trying to develop the offensive part of his game. If Phil wants defenders, this is a good second round pick.

John Gilchrist: He’s 6-2, 200 pounds with a good all around game offensively and he could be a defensive stopper. Scouts say his game is that of a poor man’s Marbury. So, if he’s all that, why isn’t he listed in the upper part of the draft? Attitude. He had attitude problems in high school then was basically asked to leave the Maryland program. He seemed to quit the second half of this past season and Hoopsanalyst said he looked lazy. Does Phil (and Kobe, really) want a project on his hands? If so, this guy could be a real steal. Or, he could flame out.

Travis Diener: You know, that last point guard to come out of Marquette wasn’t bad… but don’t confuse the two. At 6-0, 165 Diener is considered a bit small and frail, that said he was impressive at the Chicago camp, where he may have been the best point guard playing. His quickness is average at best, but he makes up for it with court IQ and effort. He has good shooting range, hitting 41% of his college three pointers. He may make a good NBA bench player.

Nate Robinson: He was one of the most fun players to watch in the NCAA this past season and fans will love him in the NBA, but at 5-9 I just have a hard time seeing the Lakers drafting him. He’s quick enough to get to the hole offensively but his outside shot is questionable. If I have a running style team I take a shot on him, but that’s not the Lakers under Phil.

Draft Party at My Place

Kurt —  June 21, 2005

I’d invite you all down to Redondo Beach, but then I’d have to clean up all my daughter’s toys in the living room and that’s just not going to happen.

So, instead the goal is to have a live running commentary thread on the entire NBA Draft night here at FB&G. I had thought about keeping a live running blog going, but that lacks the interaction I’m hoping for. So, we’re going to do it in the comment threads — basically, this should look like a Dodger Thoughts game thread (not that we’re going to reach 30 posts, let alone 300, but that’s the idea).

Not only will we talk about the Lakers picks but also we’ll mock whoever takes Bogut, bitch about the Bill Walton and more. So, here’s your chance to be a real quality geek (along with me), watching television and commenting on it on the Internet at the same time. I’ll open a thread next Tuesday (June 28), but I want you to be aware, give your wife/girlfriend money to go to the movies with her friends and clear out your schedule.

CBA Deal Done

Kurt —  June 21, 2005

Update: I just saw this on ESPN about the new CBA:

Each team will be given a one-time option this summer to waive one player from its roster and receive luxury tax relief. The team will still have to pay the player and his salary will still count against the cap, but the team won’t have to pay a luxury tax on his salary.

That means that the Lakers can waive Brian Grant, who no team will take, then will not have to pay luxury tax on his $14 million. That will help keep the Lakers under the tax threshold and may free them to go after free agents. Now, back to the regularly scheduled post…..

———————-

ESPN is reporting that there will be a press conference today announcing a new deal between the players and owners that will avoid a lockout. Even better for us here in Southern California, it means that the Summer Pro League will go on as scheduled.

Yesterday I linked to a story from Dan Rosenbaum about the CBA negotiations — he updated that on his own site with some thoughts on the proposed agreement (as presented by ESPN.com), here are some highlights:

The deal that Chad Ford is outlining, in my opinion, is a big, big win for the union. It appears much more favorable to the players than the current collective bargaining agreement and the deal I propose in this piece.

If this pretty much is the current outline for the next deal, I would expect an explosive free agent market this summer. Teams should expect to pay substantially more for free agents than they did in the last few summers. The higher salary cap will result in more teams having more room under the salary cap and the change in how luxury and escrow taxes are distributed will greatly lessen the effect of luxury taxes on spending.

Luxury and escrow tax distributions are equal for all 30 teams. There also is no “super” tax on high-spending teams. This is a huge concession by the owners. The distribution scheme in the current deal arguably reduced team spending more than the luxury tax itself did. Without the 300 or 400 percent effective tax rate on team salary just above the luxury tax threshold, teams will be more willing to pay the luxury tax. The league must have given in on this point due to pressure from its teams.

The new salary cap will be in the $50 million range. The Lakers already have $64.3 million in salary committed for next year (that number includes the $5 million for Divac that is unlikely to be paid in full and no money for Luke Walton or draft picks). If this is going to be an aggressive free agent market it will make it that much harder for the Lakers to make a run at players we may want but now will be overpaid. We will have to see how the new CBA affects Dr. Buss’s willingness to go over the luxury tax threshold to bring in players. Rosenbaum suggests that owners such as Buss may be more willing, but we shall see.