Signing Day

Kurt —  July 12, 2006

It’s official, the Lakers have inked Vladimir Radmanovic and Shammond Williams to free agent deals. Vlad, as had been long reported, is getting the full mid-level exception for five years, which will total about $31 million. Williams is getting a one-year deal for $1.75 million.

It’s pretty clear I’m not on Shammond’s bandwagon, but the more I’ve thought about it the more I realize my concerns are less about Shammond than with team direction. As Sanchez101 put well in the comments, Mitch Kupchak has taken a page from the Ned Colletti school of building a bullpen — bring in a bunch of cheap guys and hope one pans out. That’s what the Lakers have done at the one — last year Smush was one of those cheap players who worked out pretty well, this year Shammond is just one of the darts being thrown at the board. I’ll add, and it’s early to say this, but after watching a few games I think by January Jordan Farmar could be the guy subbing out Smush.

Today’s two signings should make the Lakers a more dangerous offensive team — both guys can shoot the ball from the outside and space a defense. And maybe Mitch believes that was the top off-season priority, the one that makes this a 50-win team in the West and gets us to the second round of the playoffs (or beyond).

But I still think what will set teams apart in the coming years is the ability to adjust defensively to the new rule enforcement — the teams that use good defensive players on the perimeter and good defensive rotations inside to, as much as possible, negate the impact of great perimeter players and the rules that now enable them. Having players, such as Kobe (and to a lesser degree Odom) who can exploit the rules enforcement is key, but the top teams will all have a guy or guys like that, defense is what will put teams over the top.

And, as they stand today, I think the Lakers are a worse defensive team than they were last year, particularly on the perimeter. And I fear that may offset the offensive improvement. I hope I’m wrong, maybe in year or so Farmar is that defensive guy, but that’s my concern about the off-season so far.

Kurt

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34 responses to Signing Day

  1. I’ve finally come to grips that the Laker’s PG will be a 3-4 headed hydra:
    -Smush the athletic slasher,
    -Farmar the smooth operator,
    -Shammond the aggressive scorer,
    -Sasha the shooter.

    While some teams have the luxury of having all these traits in 1 player (Chris Paul), I think the Lakers will be fine this year at the PG spot. While it might not be the best idea to rotate PGs by need (locker room rivalries), this PG committee by approach will be fine. Shammond and Sasha, along with Vlad will allow Lamar and Kobe to have more space to do what they do. Teams can’t simply sag their defenses on LO and Kobe b/c at least we now have some honest shooters.

    I think Vlad will have a pretty decent year. It was important for him to see that the Lakers really wanted him and saw a vital role for him. That does wonders in terms of morale and confidence. Plus, it seems like Farmar and Bynum will be contributing in some fashion based on their summer league showings. I just wonder if the Lakers will try to snag someone with a sign + trade with Devean as well as a few others to clear up roster space. I hear Pinnock might be making a good case to be on the Lakers.

  2. losing George will hurt the perimeter defense, he was a one dimension guy in the offensive end without drible to basket but he defended more than well…. he will be asking for money, maybe a 5 mill year deal and there are not many teams willing to spend the MLE in him neither have salary cap space… so lets try a sing-and-trade including maybe Cook (expendable after signing Vlad) for a defensive minded swingman to take the perimeter big dog when kobe is not in court or maybe, if things go well with kobe on court to have him fresh in the offensive end. and maybe it can become something more, ala Raja Bell in Phoenix…

    then we would still have Mihm as a possible player to be traded or to keep him just in case Kwame goes crazy again and tries to be KG instead of Big Ben

  3. Mannie Jenkins July 12, 2006 at 2:22 pm

    I absolutely agree that the lakers aren’t as strong defensively as last year (especially assuming we give up George). And I never thought offense was our problem last year. It seemed like it was at times but defense was why we lost to phoenix.

    Unless Maurice Evans suprises us on that end, we’re going to have problems.

    And Williams won’t even get minutes under Jackson unless he can prove he can defend (unless he masters the triangle in 3 months).

    I like the Farmar and Evans pickups, but I worry that Vlad is just a white Brian Cook and Williams is just another Aaron McKie.

  4. Mannie Jenkins July 12, 2006 at 2:25 pm

    I agree with Xavier’s plan.

    Also, to temper my last post’s negativity, I’d just like to say that Kupchak’s “Throw cheap veterans at the wall and hope one sticks” methodology is still preferable to other GM’s “sign everybody whose name you recognize until you are cap crippled for 10 years” strategy.

  5. xaiver: i think the lakers are hoping that maurice evans can effectivley replace georges perimeter defense. also, i think the lakers are banking on having a fully healthy ronny turiaf and a more physically mature andrew bynum help erase any defecinies we have on the permieter. meanwhile, were a much deeper team, with options at each position and guys that do differnt things that on paper look like they compliment eachother well….plus we have the best coach and the best player!

  6. We should not forget the “best coach” part of this equation.

    Although Phil is known as a guy who has had talent fall into his lap, he started in the CBA and took his Albany Patroons from last place to a title the following year. In the more recent past we have seen his impact on the team defensively, and the fact that he actually practices it is integral to this team’s success. I think we will all agree that to a certain extent he got this team to overachieve last year, so it is not that much of a leap of faith to think he can do it again.

    He can and will be a teaching coach.

    So here’s to hoping that his, and the coaching staff’s, guidance leads to getting more out of these players than was previously thought possible…

  7. Dump Cook before Mihm. But for what? What do you expect for either?

    Have the Lakers made an announcement on Wafer’s team option? If it has been picked up they have at least 17 players under contract, and I have seen 18 bandied about somewhere. At least 2 have to go before the regular season starts. The PG by committee dream is a lie.

    Is it assumed that McKie is out? That would eliminate one guaranteed contract. But I think at least one more PG doesn’t make the final team. Is it the “Sassy Assassin” or the “Cheeky Finisher” or the “Flirty Shooter”?

    And who is Kobe’s backup? Is he going to go 41mpg again next year? Jordan only averaged 38mpg for the Best Team Ever. Thats like Kobe (and Lamar) playing 5 extra games each over the course of the season compared to what Jordan ran. Brutal. And what does the backcourt look like when Kobe is out? I think they have to play him 40+ again. The Lakers don’t have anyone who can hold the fort while these guys are out. And heaven forbid one of them misses 50 games? Would they still be able to post a 47-win season?

    45 (adjusted for having a head coach) wins in 2004-05
    45 wins in 2005-2006
    ?? wins is 2006-2007…depends on the defense, I agree.

    Credit b-ref: Did you guys know Kobe took 39.9% of the shots while he was on the floor (which as noted above is almost all the time)? Thats ALL of his shots plus ALL of another player’s shots for the all-time ballhog championship. Whose shots was he taking? And if that continues, how does adding Vlade help? http://www.basketball-reference.com/blog/?p=28

    More questions than answers still surround this squad.

  8. kwame a. i hope you are true, but the truth is that Maurice Evans doesnt have the bulk George has, and if this team was not great in defense last year this year its not a big improvement. signing Vlad is is signing a reliable shooter that will get more open shots with the triangle than he has ever got in any other team and that gives kobe a reliable 3rd option in the offense, so the offensive end its not the main problem now.

    i bid strong for Turiaf, this guy plays with a BIG BIG heart (heart operation anyone?) and if Turiaf moves up in the roster, what to do with Cook?

  9. The Lakers have not picked up Wafter’s option. Here’s the overstuffed roster as of now (18 guys, three must go):

    PG: Smush Parker\Shammond Williams\Jordan Farmar
    SG: Kobe Bryant\Mo Evans\Sasha Vujacic\Aaron McKie\Danilo Pinnock\Von Wafer
    SF: Vladimir Radmanovic\Luke Walton\Devin Green
    PF: Lamar Odom\Brian Cook\Ronny Turiaf
    C: Kwame Brown\Chris Mihm\Andrew Bynum

  10. Mannie Jenkins July 12, 2006 at 3:34 pm

    In terms of guaranteed contracts (as opposed to Pinnock, Wafer and Green), these are what we have right now (correct me if I’m wrong):

    Kobe
    Lamar
    Kwame
    Mihm
    Walton
    Smush
    Sasha
    Cook
    Bynum
    turiaf
    mckie
    evans
    williams
    farmar
    radman (I can’t spell his name even if I copy and paste it)

    That’s 15. Without a trade or waiving someone (mckie) we ain’t adding anybody, including the three guys at top.

  11. As a follow up for those that are interested…

    Lamar Odom attended the “Mid Summer NIght’s Magic” Charity event.

    “At the night’s charity, attendees aren’t alone in propping up the grieving star. In accordance with the family’s wishes, well-wishers including Baron Davis, Shaquille O’Neal, the Lakers’ organization and the NBA have made generous donations in Jayden’s name to Cathy’s Kids, Odom’s charity.”

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=2516952

  12. (It’s Ned Colletti…) [ed. note, correction made]

    I feel the “throwing darts” comparison, however, in baseball, where payrolls are typically higher than in basketball, it’s easier to throw darts.

    Take for example some of the “darts” Colletti has thrown: Saito, Beimel, Broxton, Kuo @ ~350k

    The Dodgers have a payroll of about 100M so four of their darts combined are still less than 1.5M (or 1.5% of their payroll). As for the Lakers, when you’re giving Williams 1.75M, Evans 1.5M, McKie ~2.5M (I think?) it begins to add up to a significant portion of your payroll.

    I feel like I’m nitpicking an analogy, so I’ll say that I’m just pointing out that its tougher and might be less wise to “throw darts” in basketball.

  13. 10. Turiaf is not signed for this next season but will be by all accounts. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Lakers waived McKie and kept, say, Pinnock. Also, a 2-for-1 trade would open a space, obviously.

  14. Jerry West said “Championships are won by great players.” I think that’s what Mitch believes too. Under this theory, all the other players are there to do something to support the great players. Catch-and-shoot gunners support Kobe–the only great player on the Lakers.

    -NL

  15. The roster has enough flexibility to give Odom and Kobe more rest this season as long as they are both not out at the some time. We could go Farmar/Sasha/Odom/Rad/Kwame when Kobe’s out and Smush/Kobe/Luke/Turiaf/Mihm when Odom’s out, for example.

  16. Mannie Jenkins July 12, 2006 at 4:14 pm

    If we aren’t satisfied with Mitch’s strategy of looking for value players (and I’m not entirely), what are the other options?

    You go out there and spend luxuriously and you end up like Bob Whitsitt’s trailblazers or the Knicks of this decade.

    You refuse to spend money except on sure things and you just waste years waiting for that sure thing. The fact is every strategy has a lot of luck involved and hoping that players pan out.

    The Spurs are run as well as they can be, but Van Exel didn’t work out for them. On the other hand the Heat worked when it really didn’t look like it should.

    the more I think about it the less I’m for the Shammond Williams move, but ultimately it’s a 1.75 mil 1 year gamble. The Radman gamble was more of a gamble, but still isn’t crippling.

    What can we get for the Brian Cook/Devean Goerge deal we’ve talked about? Denver needs shooters. Could we pry Reggie “Ballbreaker” Evans from them? That’s help our d…

  17. All this discussion is fun (I am doing more of it these days), but we have to remember successful teams rarely make a large number of changes in the year they win (ok, so Miami is an exception). The Lakers are going to be successful largely with the players who played last year. The are young enough and will get better. The additions will mainly strengthen the bench. I would rather have several young athletes and a veteran, not several veterans and one or two young guns. I like what Mitch has put together for training camp – and that is what this discussion is aiming for in the real world.

  18. Why does everyone want to get rid of mckie? i mean he is a solid defender and shooter and capable of playing the 1 . He also does 1 very important thing over the years and thats fight through screens . Seeing as how thats all the game is now i think hes a valuable asset. Just think how many times was smush/sasha succesfully picked during the Phoenix series? I counted once too many

  19. Not to dwell too long in the realm of speculation/wishful thinking, but are there any ramifications for the Lakers by virtue of Lebron and/or Wade signing shorter max deals instead of the max # of years?

    Do you think it’s purely to:
    1. wait and see if the new CBA will allow greater salaries per year for longer amounts of time or,
    2. in Lebron’s case, maybe Lebron wants to shoot for a bigger market after seeing the potentially futility of winning a championship with Big Z and Larry Hughes
    3. maybe they want to play for the Lakers :-)

    I don’t know, but in Lebron’s case, it makes sense. He makes so much money off of endorsements that it will replicate or come close to his max salary. He can wait and see if the Cavs will be contendors, and simply opt out if they aren’t. But for Wade, an individual who gets injure so frequently, I suppose he theoretically might be waiting to see what happens in Miami in “A.S” era (after Shaq). I suppose that each player’s respective teams have no choice anyways but to comply with Wade/Lebron’s requests for shorter years.

    Just shooting some speculation to the wind here…

  20. I think Mitch should be the one to go. How many years has he been the one making the trades and drafting? One reason the lakers have a lack of talent is because he has failed to draft any good prospects. If you don’t have cap how else are you going to obtain quality players? Should of fired him and went after Colangelo or someone who has somewhat of a decent people judgement skills. I mean why the heak would he taken Brian Grants contract? I pretty sure he could of brokered a better deal than that.

  21. 18. The real question with McKie comes down to this: Do you think his veteran help this season is worth letting go a Pinnock or Green?

    19. I think LeBron’s was very shewd: 1) you essentially put the Cavs on the three-year plan to be contenders or risk losing you; 2) If Cleveland works out for you, you sign a larger max deal at 26 under the new CBA. For Wade I think it is more about the $$, because thre years from now you’ll be asking the GM to retool the team after Shaq has retired.

  22. i feel that weve already made the decision with pinnock (by trading a pick away for him) and we want to bring profit back. I feel that green and wafer will play on the nbdl team, mckie will be cut and cook will be traded. I agree with 17 (craig) as far as keeping the continuity we built last year, with upgrades in shooting, depth and athleticism, along with more options in the triangle, all that accomplished by the first day of training camp, i think mitch is doing just fine

  23. A 2-for-1 trade (ie Mihm and Cook for ??) opens up some roster space too. Just a general thought.

    I sometimes get away from the fact that teams in their second season in the triangle tend to be a lot better offensively, and that’s essentially where the Lakers will be.

  24. The Lakers have arguably two of the top ten players in the league off the dribble. (Bryant & Odom). Now they have a very good, young shooter that can sit opposite side of the triangle and knock em down at a 40% clip. With the triangle, that may go up! Kwame is putting it together, Seems like Bynum and Turiaf can bang the boards and score. The West is wide open. Consider that last year Kobe outscored the Western Conference Champions through three quarters before his 81 point revelation. Throw in Walton and the young Jedi (Farmar) and this team will be very dangerous. 50 wins seems realistic. Phil and company teach great team defense. With the young legs and a little attitude, the Lakers should control their own destiny. The only team to fear is the Nash/Amare tandem in Phoenix. I wish it was October!!! Phoenix/LAKERS in a rematch for the ages………………..

  25. I have been waiting for an update of Rosenbaum’s defensive ratings for the past season, but no luck from 82games. However, a contributor from the APBRmetric board put together the following analysis that you all might find interesting:

    TEAMS: http://www.prism.gatech.edu/~gtg319y/0506NBA.html

    LEADERS:http://www.prism.gatech.edu/~gtg319y/all_defense.txt

    I have been lamenting the lakers not trying to sign Chris Duhon or Earl Watson last offseason. The stats show they had pretty good defensive performances this season.

  26. Have to agree that you need to address where the NBA is headed, and that is athletic guys who can get into the paint and finish/get to the line/create (Wade in the Finals being the prototype) and shooters to put around them. Thus you must look for guys who have the speed and athleticism to stop those kinds of players for your wing and point defenders. And I just don;t see the Lakers as having done that.

    The big picture problem is they are torn between what they need to do, which is build for a run in 2009 or 2010, and what they have to do instead, which is keep Kobe and the fans happy by making moves for now. Unfortunately, the latter, while making for some interesting seasons to watch (the 50 win, make it to the 2nd round type seasons)) they are making it less likely that they will win a title in the forseeable future,certainly through Kobe’s prime.

  27. 25. Deen, you’re not going to see Dan Rosenbaum’s stats updated because he was hired by Cleveland, so any work he does will be seen by Danny Ferry’s eyes only.

    I saw that link but haven’t had the time to really take a good look at the numbers and the methodology. I know it’s a first time effort but it looks interesting.

  28. Hey there, I’ve been a long-time reader and this it the first time I’ve posted here.

    Anyway, I’ve got a question for you Kurt… How do you think Mihm would play as a backup PF?

    I know he’s starting material, but how do you think it would work out?

  29. Thanks for reading Cabron.

    My guess is we’re going to find out the answer to your question if Mihm is around (as I’m now expecting) at the start of the season. In his exit interview after last season, Jackson told him to start working on that role, someone who would play more at the elbow than back-tobasket in the post. Last season, Mihm shot 36.5% on jumpers, 47% on those inside 17 feet. Not bad, if he worked on it maybe he can be good from that range.

    That said, Mihm has always seemed more comfortable as the center. We may see if he can adjust.

  30. See, this is what makes me nervous about signing Williams, in the LA Times peice he says the Lakers got Shammond to help cover the quick guards in the West. His play has never shown any indication he can do that.

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/basketball/nba/la-sp-lakers13jul13,1,7760019.story?coll=la-headlines-sports-nba

  31. At least Kup didn’t sign D. Anderson or Daniels last year, both which are signed to too much and didn’t play well.

    Whatever happened to the Boozer talks?????? Typical internet…

  32. Hey Kurt,

    You might wanna relax dude. Last time I checked Mike Bresnahan don’t work the Lakers. Any chance a reporter might actually not know what he’s talking about?

    Look Shammond’s a shooter and the Lakers needed another shooter (admittedly among other things). More importantly, they only signed him to a 1 year, 1.75 million dollar contract. By todays salary standards, if he gives them 2 3s a game, then he’e worth it .

  33. Breesnahan is a reporter, and a good one. He would not have put that in there unless someone within the organization told him that was the case. This wasn’t Plashke speculating in a column.

  34. i think that it is quite possible that shammond is a better defender than he ever was. whoever brought this up i’m not sure, but bruce bowen came back from europe known as a scorer. he came back to the leauge and was told the only way he’d remain in it was if he played defense, the rest of the story is history. Looking at how built shammond has become and the phil jackson’s endorsement of the signing, i dont think its far-fetched to expect him to help defend smaller guards, at least for the price the team is paying