2006, 2008 and beyond

Kurt —  March 23, 2006

The win over Sacramento has me feeling a little more relaxed. The Lakers have been likely to make the playoffs for a while, but that win, along with another this Sunday over New Orleans, would likely be enough. That is, barring a last-season like collapse, and Phil Jackson wouldn’t let that happen. So, for a minute, let’s think about next season and beyond.

TJ Simers of the LA Times, in his own curmudgeonly style, sat down with Mitch Kupchak — or maybe interrupted his dinner is a better way of phrasing that — and talked about the coming off-season:

He said the Lakers will have the ability to sign a midlevel, $40-million player for five years this summer, a starter, a veteran with the ability to push the team to victory in the close games they’ve been losing, which would allow them to compete with Phoenix, San Antonio and Dallas.

First off, I think it’s going to take a little more than one mid-level exception player to compete with the big three in the West (and I think a five-year MLE is worth closer to $30 million), but the Lakers can continue to build the foundation of veterans and role players that compliment Kobe, Lamar, and eventually one other big-time guy needed to lead this team. The Lakers already have $67 million committed for next year, although only $52 million of that counts against the luxury tax (Brian Grant’s salary). Coming off the books will be Slava and Vlade (both gone already but being paid $5 million combined) and Devean George, who makes $5 million per year.

George is one of the big questions of the off-season — can you do better for $5 million per year? George is not headed to the Hall, but he plays solid defense, is decent on offense (PER of 11.9) and knows the system. My two cents: the Lakers don’t really need more guys that play the 2/3 swing spot, so I’d let him go and try to find a veteran point or another big (something hard to come by for just $5 million these days). There are some interesting names out there (note that this list is a bit dated, for example Caron Butler will not be available).

Other nuggets on the future from this sit down with Mitch includes conformation that the Lakers picked up the third year on Kwame Brown at $9 million and that the Lakers now are officially committed to the “2008 plan,” (which has its own set of questions and issues).

…he admitted the team had money earmarked for free agents, but those free agents had their contracts extended this season. So the Lakers spent that money elsewhere (Brown), pushing their free-agent plans back to 2008.

Kupchak called the possibility of trading for a franchise player was “probably remote.” Just for all you holding out Kevin Garnett fantasies.

I see the next off-season as a chance to bring in better defenders, fill in some weakness, add depth, just basically continue to build a team and bring in pieces for the sign-and-trade likely needed to secure the big time player that would fill out the roster — preferably a 4/5. But that I would think is a couple off-seasons away.

to 2006, 2008 and beyond

  1. i know that other teams are gonna throw some money in his direction but my ’06 summer wish is for the Lakers to make a run at Mike James. We need a point that can attack the basket and defend the perimeter. I also agree with you Kurt about Devean. He has been a good player for us and he does know the system, but Luke is showing that he can be the 1st guy off the bench. Adding James allows us to bring Smush, Luke and Cook off the bench, along with a solid draft pick (Dee Brown or Marcus Williams) we can be in the upper half of the playoff bracket.


  2. my entire previous comment is prefaced on the condition that Andrew Bynum develops into a legitimate top 10 nba center (a big “if”, i do concede)


  3. I would like to see a Solid point guard come a board.
    With Kwame, Milm, and Bynum we will be able to manage down low. Especially with Odom down there grabbing all those rebounds.
    We need a true point guard that is a strong defender.
    I am not sure how healthy he is or how many years he has left but Bobby Jackson would be great.

    I feel our weakest spot of Defense is the point.
    I am tired of seeing us get burned by every point guard we face.
    If we can get a solid defender at the point then we will be able to compete with Phoenix and San Antonio night in and night out.

    Lets hope for the best.



  4. Mike James also is at the top of my “reasonable to expect” list. There are better PGs out there this year, but James is right about the best guy you can get for the MLE. Good spot up shooter. Not a great defender, but a solid one (and better than we have now by a ways).

    My only concern, he’s 31. So no 5-year deals, 3 is about right.


  5. notreallyimportant March 23, 2006 at 5:53 pm

    I have two concerns about James. He is 31, and he is having a career year in contract year, ever seen that before?
    But if he plays anywhere near the level he does for Toronto right now he would be an excellent addition.

    Speaking of trades, is ther any chance that the the Lakers make a rund at that great GM Vanderweghe, or is Kupchak untouchable?


  6. no, there’s practically no way we can give up devean george. i’m not in love with the guy, but we need his perimeter defense.

    getting another big just stifles bynum’s growth. a traditional point isn’t required.

    parker and nash burn almost everybody. when the lakers bring their A-game smush does a decent job. still, i’d look for a speedy defensive minded midget.

    i think the players that everybody are looking for are already here. the year after next, they might be ready.


  7. notreallyimportant March 24, 2006 at 2:50 am

    Who is regarded as the best defensive pointguard these days? No one stands out in my mind like Payton and Stockton did a few years ago.


  8. i know, i can’t think of anybody either. it might be something to use a draft pick on, but then again, even if you just want him to play good defense…it’d probably take a couple years for him to be competent enough to play real minutes.


  9. I think Chris Bosh would be the perfect pickup. The guards are young and talented. They just need to learn to play smart defense. I think Smush and Sasha are fine. When Jordan’s Bulls were dominant they had Paxson and BJ Armstrong so it wasn’t like they were defensive stoppers. But the big 3 were Pippen, Grant, and Jordan. Cartwright was weak but was a presence.
    With Kobe, Bosh, & Odom they will have a triple threat. Kwame & Mihm will be a good presence and they are all young. They are just missing the midrange forward that has versatility in my opinion. Then with the bench of Walton, Sasha, Mihm or Kwame, McKie, J Jackson, Bynum, George, they could maybe pickup a veteran big man for fouls against Shaq and Duncan. Or a defensive kid from the draft that is tireless and will guard the Ginobli and Richard Hamiliton type players. Someone like a Raja Bell.


  10. Eversince the botched deadline trade last year, the Boozer talk hasn’t died. His contact is bloated to say the least(68 million left), but he seems to be healthy and putting up some impressive numbers (last night he had 30 and 9).

    How realistic is that scenario?

    I could see the Jazz liking Mihm’s game, but we don’t have much beyond that, as far as players are concerned, to offer with the exception of taking his big contract off of their books.


  11. As for best defensive point guard, both Tony Parker and Billups do well, but if they get beat off the dribble they have great defensive big men behind them. Kirk Hinrich maybe? Steve Francis is a pretty good defender as well. But that’s a tough call.

    I think we’d all love Bosh, but my guess is he is the perfect example of a guy who will want a sign-and-trade so he can still get the biggest possible contract plus get out of Toronto. Also, with Collangelo as GM up there now, the chances of him leaving just went down.

    Here’s my Boozer question: Can the trio of Kobe/Odom/Boozer be the core of a title winner? Because, once you get his big deal on the team, that’s it aside role players. That’s your core for the next 5 years. I’m not sure I have the answer. I love Boozer’s game when healthy, but that’s a concern.


  12. Also, a trade with Utah would mean they’d want some backcourt help. Who can we offer?


  13. notreallyimportant March 24, 2006 at 7:14 pm

    How bout Brevin Knight?


  14. I like the Bobby Jackson idea. It doesn’t seem like the Lakers are going to be able to make any dramatic changes this offseason, so I say:

    1. Look at Bobby Jackson as an addition at the PG spot. He played 71 games this year for Memphis, so maybe he’s past the injuries. Could be good for splitting games with Parker 50/50. Plus he brings some defense, experience, and ATTITUDE that the team is lacking (beyond Kobe), and he’s also a guy that wouldn’t vanish in a big Game 7. Should come cheap.

    2. Give Phil another year to mold the two-headed dragon (bryant and Odom) and to continue to mold Kwame into good trade bait.

    3. Pick up a PF in the draft and another PG. (I’m not too strong on current college talent, but what about Millsap out of LSU? He led the NCAA in rebounding for 3 years, but is projected to slip down the draft board because he’s like 6’7″. Seems like that type of guy would play like he’s got something to prove. …Could also use the first pick for a defensive PG. Lots of people mention Dee Brown, but it seems like there’s lots of projects out there.)

    4. Hold out another year until Brian Grant’s salary comes off the books, use that to add one more big name, and there you’ve got a serious title contender.

    …Of course the trick would be finding one more big name to add once the money’s available, but if the Lakers can continue to make strides this next year, seems they should be as attractive an option as any club out there when somebody does come along.


  15. Not big on the idea of drafting another project at the PF/C spot. With Kwame and Andruw Bynum, the Lakers need to continue to develop them, along with Mihm and Ronnie Turiaf.
    Dee Brown would be a great addition, especially considering his quickness, which would be ideal to cover guys like Parker, Nash and Bibby. However, not sure if he would fall all the way to the 26th spot.
    Would love to get a SF/SG who can shoot the 3 all night long. But not sure we would be available, any ideas?
    Also, I would like the team to bring back Devean, prefer him over Luke.