Fast Break Thoughts

Kurt —  August 1, 2006

Not much new, working on a few things, but wanted to comment on some recent happenings and point you to a few things worth reading.

• Update 2: It’s official, Devean George has signed in Dallas. Two years, second one at Geroge’s option, for $4.2 mil. This is a good fit for both sides, George can give Dallas some quality minutes off the bench and he makes a team that made it to the NBA finals last season even more dangerous.

• Update: The Laker schedule is out.

Looking at it briefly did not dramatically change my initial thoughts, although I did feel a little relief. For Phil Jackson teams, seasons like this one that are front-loaded with home dates (15 of the first 20 at Staples) are not ideal. His teams, adjusting to the triangle, tend to peak later, like last season when 10 of the lat 13 were at home. The schedule was front loaded two seasons ago and that was a disaster. I’m confident this team will not fall apart like that one, but the 06-07 squad will have to meld fast and count on the veterans returning at late last season’s level to counter the tough road trip the road trip (eight games in a row in February) and more games on the road after the All-Star break.

The good news is that look at the last 25 games and you see the Lakers mostly playing teams they likely will be fighting for playoff positioning — their fate will be in their own hands. Which is about all you can ask. And, as I said before, you got to play them when they schedule them. That’s professional hoops.

• I’m more and more comfortable with the idea of Chris Mihm comming off the bench, playing the four primarily with some center as needed. We’ll see how it works in practice, but on paper it seems worth trying.

• My biggest concern about keeping Mihm and not making any changes to the already-full roster before the season starts is that a guy like Danilo Pinnock could be lost. Maybe he’ll play in Europe and come back to the Lakers next season, but maybe another NBA team looking for a steal at the end of their bench makes him an offer.

• I’m late to this party, but if you haven’t read Chad Ford’s piece about sports as a way for rival groups — including youth in the Middle East — to get to know one another and reduce conflicts, you must. This is really great stuff.

• The new Laker blog The Jell-O is Jigglin has done some fun stuff, including looking at the Laker roster in Haiku.

• My early Team USA thoughts: I love that they are going to use a high-screen offense ala Phoenix, there are a lot of guys on that team who can be dangerous handling the ball (Wade, LeBron, Arenas, Paul) or as the guy setting the pick (Melo, Miller). The question is can the other guys adjust and become “catch and shoot” spacers? If Wade has the ball and drives, then kicks it out to LeBron for the open 21-footer, can he drill it? Consistently? That’s where the loss of Kobe really hurts, he could fill that role. He could also get into the open floor and run, which this team should do well (and Chris Paul will be perfect for). I still wish there was one more “pure shooter” (ala Redd).

That said, I think this USA team is incredibly deep and if they can come together they should win it all. But we’ve all said that before, so we wait to see them in action.

• As much as I’m looking forward to the Laker season, my excitement for the start of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football season is right behind it. This is going to be a fun year to be an ND fan.

Kurt

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