And The Point Is…

Kurt —  July 25, 2005

After a week of breathing crisp, pine-scented air, relaxing with my family and looking at stunning vistas, I couldn’t wait to get back in front of a computer.

I didn’t think you’d buy that. But upon returning there were a couple of unsettling pieces of Laker news and one other thing I wanted to catch up on.

The first is the sad irony that Ronny Turiaf’s heart is too big. I hope he gets himself healthy — I get the feeling that whether or not he ever sets foot on an NBA court he is going to be a success. The passion he showed just in Summer Pro League not only won over the fans (including me and my wife) but also will serve him well in any endeavor. I sincerely hope that endeavor is as the Lakers future power forward, but that is out of everyone’s hands but the doctor’s.

The loss of Turiaf — who would have played limited minutes at the four — is not as damaging as the run on point guards in free agency. Antonio Daniels wisely did what was best for Antonio Daniels, taking the five-year contract in Washington over the reported two offered by LA. That short-term offer implies the Laker front office strategy is to have Kobe, Odom and Bynum (if he blossoms) as the core and the only bigger contracts on the books after the end of the 2006-07 season (Bynum will still be in his rookie deal but can be resigned for the max when it ends), then use free agency to plug in whatever pieces will need to go around them. That will hurt the Lakers in the short term, but building for three years from now appears to be the goal.

With Daniels signed other points have started to pick their new homes. The problem remains that last season the Lakers were weakest (using PER) at the point guard — the position provided the least on offense and gave up the most on defense. And who is left on the board this year for the Lakers to pick from does not thrill me. The rumor is the Lakers are looking at are Tyron Lue. While Laker fans may remember Lue fondly from the 2000 title run, the fact of the matter is that is the only season in his career where his defensive numbers were better than the league average (for his career, he has give up 111 points per 100 possessions to the players he covered, when the league average has been 104; last season his he gave up 113 pts. per 100, not significantly different than Chucky Atkins 115; last season his opponents PER was 17.6, with the league average at 15). Lue is not a great defensive answer for the Lakers.

The better answer may be Marco Jaric, but the Clippers want a sign and trade and I’m not sure who the Lakers have the Clippers want. (Well, Kobe, but that ship has sailed.) Maybe somebody else will come available via trade or the one-time luxury tax cuts. I hope so.

One final note: Friend of this site Kevin Pelton has put up a good piece at talking about the growth of new statistical analysis in basketball. I’m not just suggesting it because he mentioned Forum Blue and Gold (although, let’s face it, it helps, but I’m not sure it belongs in the company mentioned) but because if you find the kind of things going on here interesting, you’ll find that you are not alone.