Archives For October 2006

Roster Moves

Kurt —  October 27, 2006

The Lakers have cut Von Wafer and Danilo Pinnock. Not a surprise, although I’m disappointed that Pinnock just didn’t shine in camp like I thought he could.

So, still on the roster are two guys for one spot, and who gets it says a lot about the Laker plans. On one side is hustling youngster Devin Green, on the other side is fading and injury prone Aaron McKie, who has a guaranteed $2.5 million deal for this year.

I’d been thinking it, but Eric Pincus said it well in a Hoopsworld piece:

Though the Lakers have historically been reluctant to make a mid-season trade, McKie’s salary could be useful should the Lakers find a deal. For example, if the Lakers were inclined to send out Chris Mihm in trade, the most salary they would be able to bring back would be $5.36 million. However Mihm and McKie packaged together would work for an incoming salary of $8.49 million.

Again, a deal is not likely, but Green probably won’t have a long list of NBA teams looking to sign him. Keeping McKie short term on the off-chance a deal comes together makes more sense, especially if the Lakers could then sign Green mid-season should a roster spot were to become available.

With the Lakers cap strapped and with no mid-level exception to give out this year, trades are the only way to get quality veterans. Which means keeping McKie on the roster makes sense. If Green is kept it means the Lakers may be looking to stay pat.

Pacific Roundtable

Kurt —  October 26, 2006

The Pacific may be as deep a division as there is in the NBA this season, with more storylines than Los Angeles has stripmalls. Well, maybe not that many, but there are plenty. So for the past few weeks some very good bloggers of teams in the division — Tom from Sactown Royalty, Kevin from Clipperblog, Lucas from The Rising Suns, Justin from Golden State of Mind and myself — emailed each other in a lively discussion of the Pacific teams and players. The first two parts are already up, here’s the next part:

———————-

Tom: Let’s talk about the major subtractions Pacific teams saw
this offseason. Bonzi Wells is clearly the big name here, though the
Clippers and Suns both lost rotation players as well. How much will
Bonzi’s exit hurt the Kings?

Lucas: Yes obviously Bonzi was the biggest subtraction, but it
is yet to be determined how big. Meaning, will it really effect
Sacramento or will they fare just fine without him? Will Bonzi keep
playing intense ball since he is still going to have to play for a
contract? It seems to me that guys like this would do better to always
be playing for a contract. Maybe if they paid per game he would play
his heart out.

Another less large subtraction that hit me was the loss of Eddie
House. Eddie won at least 5 games for us single-handedly last season
due to his ability to catch fire when the team was in dire straights.
Eddie had amazing form and execution to his jumper but he was not
always the smartest player. In the beginning of the season he played
within the team’s strategy and hoisted up good shots and made lots of
them. Towards the end of the season he was rushing every shot off the
bench and couldn’t buy a bucket. He was a liability defensively,
couldn’t play the point, but his awesome shooting kept him in the
rotation. When he began rushing everything, and missing, he lost his
spot in the rotation. He is now on New Jersey and just had knee
surgury. I would think that is a good fit for him playing with Jason
Kidd because Kidd can guard bigger two’s and create for Eddie who can
shoot with the best.

Kurt: I think we may overrate how much Bonzi meant to
Sacramento based on the playoffs — not that they don’t matter but
you’re talking about six games with specific matchups that may have
favored him versus the 52 games he played in the regular season where
he had less of an impact. Look at it this way, he averaged 13.6 ppg
during the regular season then 23,2 in the playoffs. What I’m driving
at is that a full season of Artest and the continued growth of Kevin
Martin may more than make up for the loss.

And while we’re talking silver linings, the loss of House can only
help Phoenix’s defense.

Tom: Kurt is right about Bonzi’s overblown departure, to a
degree. The first half of the season, Bonzi was arguably the team’s
best player. Of course, the team was eight games under .500… I
digress. Bonzi is essentially Artest-lite, only he’s a worse shooter,
worse ball-handler, worse distributor, worse defender and better
rebounder. Kevin Martin fits this starting lineup much better.

House seems to get ignored in the bigger scheme of all things Phoenix.
But he has not been replaced on that roster – no one but Leandro
Barbosa on that team can gun like House could off the bench. And
Barbosa was on the team last year, so it’s a net loss in bench
shooting. That puts some pressure on guys like James Jones and Jumaine
Jones, I think.

Yeah I suspected Bonzi wasn’t as good as the hype.
I did have him on my fantasy team and he was inconsistant but even
from the start of the season when the Kings were underachieving I was
just waiting for them to snap out of it and play like I knew they
could. I also think Shareef was a bit under-utilized.

Lucas: The thing about House and his shooting is that more
often than not it was a detriment to the team. Sure he had probably 5
amazing quarters in the season where he was really hot and brought the
team back to win but the majority of the time he played ole defense
and chucked up poorly timed and awkward shots that really hurt the
team. The shooters that we currently have will take better shots than
Eddie and do much more overall than he did. Steve, Raja, Leandro,
James Jones, Jumaine Jones, and Piatkowski are all good shooters and
more than fill the void of Eddie.

Kevin: Maybe I’m crazy, but I think the reports of Sacramento’s
demise are greatly exaggerated. I keep reading that Bonzi-to-Salmons
is a real dropoff, but why isn’t anyone considering Kevin Martin in
the equation? Perhaps I’m biased because every time the Clips played
Sacramento, the Kings handed our heads to us and Martin was always a
key ingredient. But I thought allowing Bonzi to walk was a smart
decision from the outset, and not just as a “rebuilding” maneuver, but
because it was the right move. Is Miller aging, yeah, but he’s still
formidable. And with Artest and Thomas, you don’t need all that from
Miller defensively. He’s in better physical shape this season, at
least that’s what I’ve read.

Tom: Let’s talk about the future a bit. Which team is set up
best right now for long-term success? The Lakers, with a few more
years of Kobe and soon meaningful minutes from Andrew Bynum? The
Clippers and Shaun Livingston? Amare and Diaw in Phoenix?

Lucas: As for long term success I think Phoenix wins out on
this one. Bynum and Livingston have yet to prove themselves and I
think the Suns young players, Amare, Diaw, and Barbosa have more than
proven themselves. Amare did his thing in 04-05 but how good he
returns is still debateable. I think he will be fine in the long run.
Diaw and Barbosa had breakout years last season with Boris racking up
multiple triple doubles and stepping up his game in the playoffs,
averaging 25ppg 9rpg against Dallas in the Conference Finals. Leandro
stepped up his game as well and killed the Lakers and Clippers with
his quickness in the playoffs. Combine these three with a few more
years of Shawn Marion and this team is stacked.

Aside from Phoenix I would say the Clips are the next best off for the
long term. I think Shaun Livingston will be an extremely good point
guard but he has yet to prove himself. I think this season will be his
breakout year. The Clips also have Brand and will probably lock up
Kaman so with these three they should be dangerous for years to come.
As long as they get Donald Sterling to continue to spend money.

Kurt: Yes Amare and the core of Phoenix is young — except for
some guy named Nash. I think that is the big long-term question for
the Suns, who can step in when Nash isn’t there to run an offense
built largely on a smart point guard finding and exploiting mismatches
and running the floor. Can Banks really become that guy? Barbosa?
They’ve got the F1 car, the question is can they find another driver
as good as Schumacher/Nash. Fortunately, they have a couple years to
shop around for that guy while still being title contenders.

I think both the Lakers and Clippers have long-term potential but need
a couple pieces down the road as well. I’m a big Livingston fan, if he
can stay healthy. If not this year, in a year or two he should be a
force. As for the Lakers, Bynum shows flashes but the guy everyone may
be sleeping on is Jordan Farmar. He is showing the classic point guard
skills, he is pushing the ball and showing he is great in the open
court. He could be a big impact the the Lakers — a solid starting
point guards is invaluable in a perimeter league — in a few years.

Tom: So, is it unanimous then that the Warriors and Kings are
kind of trapped with what they have? The Kings did their best to prop
that contending window open – and it could still stay open through
next year. But Bibby could leave after this season, Miller has hit age
30, Shareef Abdur-Rahim is signed through age 34, and among the
youngsters, only Kevin Martin has shown the ability thus far to break
out. Ron Artest is signed through the end of 2007-08. There is nothing
in the pipeline (unless you’re a big believer in Ronnie Price or you
think Francisco Garcia can be a starting point guard). Geoff Petrie
has to work some magic for this team to survive long-term without
first hitting bottom.

As for the Warriors – Monta Ellis and Mickael Pietrus are exciting,
and Jason Richardson should be an All-Star. But there are too many
really bad contracts there.

Kurt: I think it’s just harder to tell where Sacramento and
Golden State will be in five years. The Kings have some young talent,
but key cogs (Bibby, Miller) will be on the downside if not gone
outright. A couple of smart moves and they could still be a threat. As
for Golden State, by bringing in Don Nelson they have essentially
changed what kind of team they want to be. Going small and fast could
be good, again there is some young talent, but they have to start
drafting/signing to the the system, then stick with the system for
more than two years.

88 Lines about 44 Lakers

Kurt —  October 25, 2006

With apologies to The Nails

Cooper was the defensive type
Except during the Coop-a-loop
Cederic Ceballos liked to drive
But to ‘zona, not the hoop
Byron Scott’s outside shot
Was the key to many wins
While any Chuck Nevitt shot
Belonged over by the bins

Frank Brickowski’s touch was better
Than his name would suggest
Elden Campbell played for years
But never really did impress
Magic led the Showtime break
His passes made our jaws drop
Vlade Divac smoked and played
Plus he knew how to flop

Riley’s hair was stiff with gel
He promised us back-to-back
Jackson’s style is much more Zen
He wins with a different tack
Vern Mikkelsen is in the Hall
The game’s first power four
Mark Madsen could be hard to watch
Both on the court and dance floor

A.C. Green did hit the boards
But then did not hit the clubs
Rick Fox sure loved that scene
Still was one of the super subs
Kareem ‘s skyhook did amaze
Just ask Parish what he thinks
Shaq’s game is power based
He gives you dunks not dinks

Robert Horry did not miss
If a game was on the line
Glen Rice could fill it up
Rarely seemed to drop a dime
George Mikan is an all-time great
He won titles by the lakes
Kobe’s won some titles too
Guys bite on his head fakes

Smush Parker may not be great
But people love his name
Jim Pollard’s kangaroo hops
Were the secret to his game
James Worthy filled the lane
Ready for a Tomahawk
Connie was already known
Everyone just called him “Hawk”

Goodrich was a crafty guard
And he sure knew how to win
Wilkes had a funky shot
That always just seemed to just go in
Sam Perkins was “The Big Smooth”
Had a silky outside shot
Rambis was a cult hero
Who always seemed on the spot

Mitch Kupchak was a player first
Now he makes all the trades
Mychal Thompson had played too
Now he is known for tirades
Harriston was called happy
But he could crash the boards
Sedale Threatt was a fav
Who never got his just rewards

Elgin Baylor was a first
Played his game above the rim
Eddie Jones could shoot the rock
But always looked very slim
Jerry West may be the best
Whether player or GM
Nick Van Exel got his points
Because he was quick to the rim

Stu Lantz played a couple years
Then got a nice color gig
Lamar Odom’s three point shot
Is very good for a big
Chamberlain got a second ring
Russell must have haunted him
If McAdoo shot the ball
It never seemed to touch the rim

Derek Fisher’s name will be
Forever hated by the Spurs
Luke Walton is a passer first
At least that is what he prefers
Norm Nixon earned two rings
He was quick with an assist
Chick Hearn, you’re one I miss
I chose you to end this list

88 lines about 44 Lakers

Suggested Reading

Kurt —  October 25, 2006

Beleive it or not, there are other sites worth reading on the web. Here are a few I found this morning.

• First, the Lakers opened their afternoon practice yesterday to season ticket holders and The Association was there and gives a good report:

Sasha Vujacic is a douche! He was one of the few who didn’t give much of an effort, trailing on drills, throwing lazy passes and disputing with a few coaches. He’s making mistakes running the Triangle, even rookie Jordan Farmar was telling him where to go.

• The roundtable discussing the Pacific Division continues today over at Golden State of Mind:

(From Tom at Sactown Royalty): But I think Vlad-Rad is a big addition for the Lakers. He’s never going to challenge for an All-Star team, but he’s one more guy defenses can’t ignore. That’s what the Lakers really needed last season (besides consistency in the middle) – a dependable shooter. He makes them much better. Now, we get to find out if L.A.’s late season run was a fluke or a tell-tale sign.

• Also, for all you gamers, Laker blogger Yannis has a contest where you can win a Nintendo DS Lite. So, when the Lakers are up 50 on the Kings midseason, you can pop in Mario and be entertained.

Whither Kobe

Kurt —  October 24, 2006

Kobe is not going to win the scoring title this season.

Or, maybe a better way of saying this is: If things go well for the Lakers this season, Kobe is not going to win the scoring title.

I was thinking about this while answering a few Laker questions for an online fantasy basketball Web site. One question asked was about lingering effects of Kobe’s injury, which I don’t think will be much of an impact long term (we hope not, the Lakers need a fast start). But I hastened to add that for fantasy hoops players it mattered that Kobe’s scoring should drop slightly this year.

Now, I’ll add that what I envision is his scoring total goes down slightly but his efficiency should improve – higher shooting percentage (55.9% true shooting percentage last year, which is still good), fewer forced shots because teammates stand around.

I see a couple of reasons Kobe’s scoring will drop.

One, Kobe should have to play fewer minutes. Last season Kobe played a personal high 3,273 minutes, and yet every time he left the game Laker fans held their breath – when Kobe was on the floor the Lakers were +4.5 points per 48 minutes better than their opponents, when he was off the floor they were -7.9. Part of that was that there was no decent replacement for him — Kobe had a PER of 30 when playing the two, his replacements were Sasha (PER of 8.9), Laron Proffit (11) and a little Devin George (7.9). Others picked up a few minutes, but like those three all of them are well below average.

This year there is Maurice Evans – a solid backup. He can defend, he can shoot the three from the corner, last season he shot 51.5% (eFG%) and had a PER of 15, right at the league average. And average would be a step up. Evans may be a more important addition than Radmanovic by the end of the season because rather than Kobe playing 35.4 minutes per game that can drop a few minutes a game. While that is good for the Lakers, it means his scoring should go down.

Second, Kobe should score less because others are taking more shots. Honestly, it felt like that at the end of the last season, when Odom was averaging 16.8 points per game while shooting 55.1%, plus getting, 8.9 rebounds and 5.9 assists (over the last too months). However, if you look at the Lakers last 27 games (the last 20 plus the playoffs) Kobe averaged 35 points per game, pretty much right at the 35.4 average for the season as a whole.

Last season Kobe took 2.173 shots on the season (27.2 per game) a career high. The highest Michael Jordan took in the championship Bulls years is 25.7 per game — and I would expect Kobe’s shots to drop at least that far and probably a couple more. Those other shots will go to Radmanovic, Odom and maybe Walton, and an assortment of other guys.

Kobe should still get plenty of chances — you don’t take the ball out of the hands of the best player in the game. But he can’t carry the team alone if the Lakers want to win, it needs to be more balanced. How much of the load shifts off of Kobe will say a lot about how far the Lakers go this season. If he has to score 35.4 per game again to win games, it could be a long season.