Roster Decisions

Kurt —  September 7, 2006

I’m moving this from the comments below to its own thread — as you know, yesterday the Lakers signed the player they traded for in the second round, Danilo (J.R.) Pinnock. First and foremost, I like the signing, I thought he showed potential in the summer league.

But there are questions. First, what kind of deal was this? Almost certainly a non-guaranteed deal, meaning you get to come to camp and play your way onto the 15-man roster. If you cut him in camp, he becomes a free agent. But giving Pinnock a deal (combined with the way he played this summer) implies the Lakers want to keep him.

The problem comes in creating roster space. The Lakers have 13 guaranteed deals (Kwame Brown, Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum, Brian Cook, Maurice Evans, Jordan Farmar, Aaron McKie, Chris Mihm, Lamar Odom, Vladimir Radmanovic, Sasha Vujacic, Luke Walton, Shammond Williams) and two partially-guaranteed deals they want to honor (Smush Parker and Ronny Turiaf).

That’s 15. That’s all you’re allowed. So how do you make room for Pinnock? What about Devin Green? Or Laron Profit?

As I suggested before, I see two logical options to create roster space:

One is some kind of two-for-one trade. The logical trade bait remains Chris Mihm plus filler (like Cook or Sasha) for something of value. If some team loses a center for the season to injury during training camp, this scenario becomes more likely, but the Lakers seems cautious about making a deal — trade Mihm and you are betting that Kwame can play the year as the starter and Bynum can be a solid backup every night. Both of those are risks, so to trade Mihm you better really like what you get back in return.

The other, and I think more likely option, is to buy out McKie’s contract. Look at it this way, McKie is old and injury prone, Pinnock is the future. You keep a guy like McKie around over Pinnock only if you think you can compete for a title this year. The Lakers are not there with this roster.

But there may be more creative ideas out there. Any ideas?

Kurt

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24 responses to Roster Decisions

  1. Von Wafer team option for 17 unless they have already opted against the team option.

    How about just stop signing people? It doesn’t really matter because you have a bunch of 11-15 type guys and some of them will be 5-10. Not good. Keep Kobe, Lamar, Vlade, Kwame (until his contract runs out) and anyone on guaranteed rookie contracts. Waive the rest, suck it up for a year and fill up the roster with 1-year veterans minimums, that is to say actually rebuild, and stop trying to appease unrealistic/myopic Lakers fans.

  2. I think this situation highlights the need for a true minor league system in the NBA.

    Beaten out or bought out?

    If the only reason to keep McKie is as a trading piece, I say buy him out.

    Is he willing to go through the potential embarrasment of being “beaten out” of his guaranteed roster spot by a non-guaranteed player?

    More importantly, all roster decisions involving guards should stem solely from their ability to defend the perimeter. This is probably the underlying motivation to signing Pinnock.

  3. I really think with the next CBA we’ll see another step toward a true minor league (but they will apease colleges with the must be 19 thing still).

  4. One of my friends said hes certain a 2-1 deal is gonna be done soon i hope hes right i wonder who we will be gettin.

  5. It seems like one obvious move would be to buyout Mackie’s contract for several reasons as fellow laker fans have suggested. To me the reason would be that he is older, injury prone, and most notable of all appers uncomfortable within the triangle while in the game.

    It would be a shame to let one of the young guys go for nothing of value in return and then see them later bloom elsewhere. After all, I think most people will agree that we are still in a rebuilding/transition period.

    I wounder though would it be possible to do a two-for-one trade, but instead of landing an immediate player we opt for a future draft pick(s) from a team likely to end up with a decent spot next year? What about the developmental league. Could the lakers not assign some of the young players there and keep them under contract and then also have the ability to bring them back if someone were to go down with serious injury?

    Laterzzzzzzzzz

  6. The 15 you can have under contract includes the ones you can send down. It works like this, of the 15, 12 are “active” for any given game and the other three can be on IR, down in the NDBL or just not suiting up. Right now, you can’t have 16 or 17 under contract and stash them in the D-league. Nor can the Lakers do that just because they own a team — the league will be assigning players to the D-Fenders to keep this from happening.

  7. my theory is that with the signing of pinnock, mckie will be bought out or used as a trade filler. Mihm, cook and either smush or sasha (i’m betting on sasha) will also be traded. Lets look at the possible laker rotation next season:

    C – Kwame (30-35 mins/game)
    2nd center traded for mihm (12-18)
    Bynum (?)

    PF – Odom (35-37 mins)
    Turiaf (10-12)

    SF – Radmanovic (30-32 mins)
    Walton (15-20)

    SG – Kobe (37-40)
    Green/Profit/Pinnock (8-10)

    PG – Smush (25-28)
    Shammond (12-15)
    Farmar (?)

    So thats 12 on the active roster. for the PF rotation, either cook or turiaf goes, for SG its a toss up between sasha/mckie/pinnock/green/profit. PG is already set with those 3 mentioned. I just hope that the lakers keep the right people and give them the chance/minutes to blossom this year (Turiaf/Farmar/Bynum). Cook is a duplication of Radmanovic so i say he should go. Shammond is a more mature and better version of Sasha. Mihm, although promising is not the right man for the back up job next season. the back up should be a seasoned veteran, who is capable of playing back-up (if kwame is playing well) and also capable of playing important minutes (if kwame becomes inconsistent). a 10+ yr vet will do. Antonio Davis should ring a bell… he has that nice 10-15 ft spot up jumper that is perfect for the triangle. I think the lakers will make the trade/s during training camp. they just would like to have a last look on who stays and who goes

  8. I basicly like k_swagger8’s evaluation (I say Sasha, Cook and McKie should be gone). I really don’t see why everyone is touting trading Mihm. He is a valuable teammate and has good possibility in the triangle. I would hold on to him until the last possible minute – and then only trade him if I really want what we would get. Teams will need him more as training camp progresses and they see increased needs at center. I nothing works out then I will be extremely happy he is there to help us win in the early part of the season.

    If Kawame doesn’t become consistent we have Mihm for the next couple of years (yes we would have to sign him next year), and if Kawame is the short term answer then I suspect we could get at least a good 1st round pick at the trading deadline.

  9. k_swagger8, what about Evans, isn’t he supposed to be Kobe’s back up?

  10. As far as trading Mihm goes, I think most people that advocate the trade intend for it to happen near the trading deadline. I like Chris a lot, but I really don’t see resigning him after this year as a good move for the Lakers. His expiring contract is the last, best trading chip the Lakers have. But we won’t get full value until teams know if they are contending or not.

    The 2007-08 season is the year that we need to get Bynum major minutes. Even if he is not the starter, he needs to be the guy off the bench (18-20 mins/game). In my opinion this needs to be done regardless of what he has shown in camp/limited minutes. I’d actually love to see that happen this year, but I doubt it will. There comes a time when we need to know if he’s the center of the future. That time is fast approaching.

  11. Kurt,

    Thanks for the 411 on the 15 players and the way it works.

  12. chris, i totally forgot about mo evans… yeah, he’s going to be kobe’s back-up, and would also get some minutes at SF if vlad slides to PF at times.

  13. The “old” Lakers worried about San Antonio and Tim Duncan even as the “0ld” Spurs worried about the Lakers or Sacramento. Now everyone thinks international and worries about Phoenix, Dallas, and mixtures of (mostly big) athletes that can penetrate, pass, dish, and shoot at least the mid range jumper if not the open three. The Lakers, in particular, worry about penetrating guards.

    From that perspective, the odd man out is the Smusher, with McKie not far behind. Parker has great difficulty with penetrating guards, team defense, and spot up threes. Everyone loves Smush’s athleticism and individual play, so he’s potentially tradeable.

    A slot for Pinnock and another for ???

  14. I thought spot up threes were what smush was best at?

  15. Ian,

    Smush, Walton, Sasha, Lamar, and Kobe are all hitting threes within a few per cent of 35%. Evans and Farmar are unlikely to do much better, but Evans may help out with defense. By midseason, Farmar may help out with penetration, assists, and team defense. Radmanovic and Williams will be better than that, possibly joining Cook in the better than 40 club. It is possible that more good shooters would take pressure off of Kobe and Lamar, bringing them up.

    Smush is good at steals because he takes risks–and fast point guards mostly dash by him, pulling his teammates out of position–and getting guys like Mihm in foul trouble.

    If Farmar is able to hit the three at 35% and do a decent job of slowing down the point guards and switching on defense , with Shammond to hit the three when needed, Smush may be the odd man out.

  16. Ian, last season 25% of Smush’s offense came on spot up jumpers and he shot 56% on those (those include twos and threes). I think DrReyEye is right, Vlad will take some of those spot up threes that went to Smush, and if he stays healthy Farmar may start stealing minutes by the end of the year. Smush can keep those minutes if he improves in the offseason, the question is what is his ceiling?

  17. I have been probably the biggest Mihm defender for the past two years. He’s a solid C. Not one of the best, but can do what is asked of him.

    However, due to the need to improve Bynum, I wouldn’t mind a 2 for 1 trade. Or even a 3 for 2 trade.

    To me, Cook and Radmanovic are basically the same, with the latter having a small advantage. So I guess Cook is on his way out.

    Smush takes too many risks for my taste… He should be nothing more than a backup, but he is trade bait so I guess he’s going as well.

    McKie is currently a non-factor.

    So, this makes for 4 active roster players how can and probably will be traded before the trade deadline.

    The needs for this team?
    As previously mentioned by everyone… A cerebral PG! Translation… someone who can play good defense and a pass first point guard. High basketball IQ – that seems to be the word nowadays.
    And the way I see it, we could use a SF who actually improves our defense, complementing Odom and Radmanovic.

    Such team would definetly get into the playoffs this year, and with a proper free-agency play in 2007, that would make us contenders again.

  18. id’ try to go for Delonte West.
    The C’s have 3 good PG, Telfair, Rondo and west, so he’s expendable.
    I like Kendrick Perkins too so i’d work with that.
    I would pack with Mihm (4.3M), Smush (0.8M), Cook (1.5M) and the second round draft pick for Delonte (1.1M) Perkins (1.7M) and Vin Baker (5.3).
    then we fire Baker and hello Pinnock. Vin is one year left in his contract so the next summer we’ll have 15.5(grant)+5.3(baker) and that’s 20M out of the books

    then, if they still think about firing McKie then we have Profit or Green that can still play the ball and did well in summer camp

  19. but why do the celts want and smush and cook again? I believe after that trade a heart attack might finally kill off Bill Simmons.

  20. smush is a PG that wouldnt mind a lot changing to the 2-guard position and the C’s dont have much shooters apart from Pierce and Wally, and having Cook in a contract year might give them a good help in scoring from the bench
    plus they really need a relyable center, right now they would start playing Perkins at the center, and he’s a PF
    and the get rid of the non-efective Baker and his 5.3M and get some value in exange plus a second round pick

    its not a do it for sure trade, but i think both teams win with it

  21. Remember, the celts traded mihm to the lakers, so i’m not sure if they’d want him back having a more athletic and potentially better C in Kendrick Perkins. Renato, if the lakers were still playing under Rudy T, then they’d need a PG that you are suggesting. But keep in mind that the team is running the triangle offense where the facilitator (or “PG” for traditional teams) is usually the SF (Pippen, Odom, Walton just to name a few) The “PG” position in the triangle is usually manned by a big/combo guard that can 1) play lock down D 2) post-up or shoot spot up jumpers (catch and shoot situations, think Ron Harper or even D.Fish), a “typical” pass first PG would never work in the triangle, because 1) he needs the ball in order to create situations and pass (think Gary Payton). 2) The triangle works because of constant ball movement, cuts, and screens by everyone on the floor. so It will just NEVER work. So lets just trust phil and his staff, if they need someone he would have asked for it (just like what he did with radman). The man has won 9 rings… can’t argue with that

  22. k_swagger8, while I think you are right, Phil could have asked for something but because of the Lakers cap situation he is not going to get it right now. Phil airs some of his “behind closed doors” thoughts through Tex Winter, but not all of them.

  23. Assumptions are the Lakers feel the need to shake up team,feel scoring will be prized w/way refs will be calling the game and that they will go “small” w/Odom at PF.

    Lakers send Sasha and Cook to Miami,sends Mihm and McKie(and pays McKie’s 2006 salary) to Atl,sends 2008 first(if neccessary,prefer couple of seconds) to Clippers.
    Miami sends Doleac to Lakers.(Option B send D.Anderson to Atl. w/Miami paying his 2006 salary.)
    Atl. sends $7m trade exemption to Clippers,sends Royal Ivey to Lakers.
    Clippers send Maggette to Lakers.

    Brown,Odom,Kobe,Maggette,Parker is not a bad starting 5.Maggette gives solid second scorer,first option when Kobe sits and rebounds suprisingly well and even plays some D.Doleac is reliable reserve C who Kobe can run screen and pop w/all game long.Ivey is big PG who can play some D-good reserve 3rd PG.
    Clips unload player they see having no future w/them for cap relief and a first.(A sharp GM would have a shot at talking Clips into just a second or two on basis of saving $14+m in salary alone.)
    Atlanta gets a legit Center and they can run waves of bigs at teams,and can then peddle Mihm to contender for a future piece.Ivey is 4rth PG on team,so expendable.McKie (and Henderson)can be waived at no cost to Hawks.
    Miami gets backup PG and a replacement big and saves some money-esp if unload Henderson($2.5m luxury tax.)

  24. The Clips may or may not want to get rid of Maggette, but there is no way they let him end up on the Lakers.