Today, Tomorrow and Jason Kidd

Kurt —  February 21, 2007

After a week of Jason Kidd to the Lakers rumors that refuse to die (and we’ve had a good discussion about the rumors and options in the comments, you’re missing a lot of this site if you don’t read them), the latest details seem to have circled back to we said weeks ago, before any specific trades were hot national topics:

Every GM that called the Lakers was going to ask for Bynum. And there was no way the Lakers were going to give him up.

The latest rumors (from multiple sources now) are that the Lakers are offering some version of Kwame, Mihm, Farmar, McKie and late first round draft picks for Kidd. Nets GM Rod Thorn says the Lakers can keep Kwame, he wants Bynum or no deal. Frankly, if I were Thorn I’d ask for the same thing. As skigi said in the comments yesterday, Laker fans were unhappy when they traded Caron Butler for Kwame, can you imagine trading Kidd for him?

But the debate about this trade with Bynum as the sticking point says a lot about the crossroads the Lakers are at — and about Laker fans.

Fueled in part by three weeks of lackluster play, and the belief that the Lakers have a three- or four-year window with Kobe at his peak, there is a feeling among many that the Lakers need to build for right now. The future be damned, put Bynum in the deal because by the time he’s reaching his potential Kobe will be past his and the Lakers’ window will close without a title. We must win NOW! And Kidd is the means to that end.

I get the frustration, but I don’t see it that way. For a few reasons.

First, while Kobe’s skills may start to fade some, the maturity of his game will allow him to be a very effective player for more than just a few years. Already, since the knee surgery, you see him taking more jumpers this season when last year he would have gone to the hole and tried to draw the foul. He’s passing more when the defenses collapse. He knows the offense inside-out. While he may lose half a step in the next five years, he will still be a great player whose savvy will make him a leader.

More importantly, Bynum is growing up faster than anyone expected. Part of that is that this season he has been forced to play a lot of minutes due to the injuries to Mihm and Kwame, gaining experience he otherwise never would have. But I saw him two summers ago, in his first games at the Summer Pro League when he was taking hook shots off the wrong foot and was so weak he was pushed around by 6-5 guys in the paint. By last summer he looked like a different player, flawed and in need of conditioning but much improved. Then this season, tested on the big stage, his game has improved by light years. I’ve seen how much his body has matured, a sign of a lot time in the weight room. Phil pokes a little at Bynum’s work ethic, and at times he seems a little lackluster and uninspired, but you don’t make the dramatic improvements he has just sitting around playing video games. He and Kobe’s peak may very well overlap, and whatever Bynum’s peak, it will be higher than Kwame’s.

And here’s the thing, in five or seven years, when Kobe does hang up the sneakers, the Lakers will have a huge step towards rebuilding already in place. Seven footers with 7-6 wingspans, soft hands and a knack for blocking shots don’t grow on trees.

Kidd, on the other hand, is 34 and with a trick back. He’s played great this year, but to be honest he’s got two, three years tops. And you can expect his game to deteriorate in that time.

How has San Antonio stayed on top for the last decade? Selling out to win one year, or looking at the big picture and the long-range plans? To me you can build for winning in the next few years and be in a good position in 2014 as well, if you are smart. And trading Bynum for Kidd is not smart.

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A could other Kidd notes:

The gut reaction of every Laker fan was that Kidd would look good at the top of the triangle. But Roland Lazenby quotes Tex Winter questioning that basic premise:

That’s part of the hesitation over Nets guard Jason Kidd. He rebelled mightily against the triangle when Jim Cleamons tried to run it as coach of the Dallas Mavericks in the 1990s.

“Kidd does like to have the ball in his hands an awful lot,” triangle guru Tex Winter observed.

Would Jason Kidd be the second coming of Gary Payton?

I will say this, those problems in Dallas were a decade ago, and we can hope that Kidd has matured. That he wants to win and sees Phil, Kobe and the triangle offense as a way to do that. Also, unlike the version of The Glove that came to LA, Kidd can still play defense (much better than Smush). I don’t think he’ll be another Gary Payton, but it’s a concern.

Also, if some version of this deal does happen and the Lakers land Kidd, I’m still not sold the Lakers are contenders this year. They will improve, but it’s going to take some time for Kidd to become comfortable initiating the offense, learning to pick his spots and working with new teammates. Meanwhile, Dallas is deeper and very comfortable in their system, and Phoenix is very comfortable in theirs. This season, those two are the teams to beat. Now, next season could be a different story.

Kurt

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25 responses to Today, Tomorrow and Jason Kidd

  1. I agree. The Lakers should NEVER trade Bynum. He is a mix of Tim Duncan and David Robinson. Imagine that in two to three seasons time, when his body fully matures. Plus he is a bright young man. He will be a great great franchise player for the next 15-18 years! I’d never exchange that for anyone… not even KG. I also don’t like the idea of trading Farmar. He fits really well in the triangle offense. give him another season and he’ll be ready to be the starting PG. Let’s just hope that the Nets get desperate enough or find a third team so we can get rid of Kwame. Although a good interior presence, he’s just not worth 9Mil per season. The team can get the same production from a Jason Maxiell or even Chris Wilcox or Etan Thomas. If after this season, he can be re-signed for 3-4mil, then i can live with Kwame staying on the team. Kobe is only 28yrs old, people talk like he’s 33-35 yrs old. Michael Jordan won in 1998 at age 34. THough Kobe’s game will change, he will still be a lethal offensive weapon for the next 6-8 years!

  2. Don’t trade Bynum, cupcake! If I were Thom, I would try to go after Luke, though I don’t think the Lakers want to part with him either. For NJ, it makes better sense than Bynum. First, if they find a way to trade VC for a solid starting 2 and some expiring contracts, they will have cap space to go after KG, when he opts out of his contract with Minessota. I would then go small and run a Pheonix style offense and starting lineup of Farmar, 2 that they traded for (maybe Larry Hughes), Luke, Jefferson, and KG. Kwame comes off the bench as your backup center. KG would be what Amare is to Pheonix. Farmar is no Nash, but you have a buch of guys in that starting lineup that are passers.

  3. this is a really tough call, on the one hand, Kidd will fix our problems right now, and might help enough down the stretch to get a first round win in the playoofs, but probably not much beyond that.
    however, I don’t like giving up Farmar. I don’t mind Kwame for Kidd, (and I’m sure this is NOT enough for NJ, even with the obvious fillers), but Farmar feels to me to be our PG of the future.
    when I think of our “big 3″ being Kobe, Lamar, and Andrew, with a more seasoned Farmar at the point, surrounded by great role players like Luke, Mo Evans, Ronnie and even Sasha, I think our future looks very good.
    I’m not so sure that if we make this move, we don’t give up some players (Farmar) who could be one of the top PG’s in the league, and having gone through alomst 2 Smush seasons, we all know the value of a top PG.
    I know Kidd is one of those now, but for how long and at what price? that, is the question.

  4. Anyone know anything about the reported extension that Phil signed? I saw a blurb about it in the Mercury News, but that’s it.

  5. Exick, I saw the same note, it basically said it was “common knowledge” that Phil signed a 5-year extension where he would be kicked upstairs at some point to a front office gig. Maybe, but that’s the first place I’ve seen it.

  6. The real issue with Kidd is that we obviously need a catalyst. We hit a wall (whether it was bad timing on injuries, or the overachieving ran out… I don’t know) and now are playing like the team that constantly fusterated last year (no D, no mvmt, lazy 3’s, etc)

    I don’t like giving up real potential for a kick in the pants, though. Hopefully, Walton’s return will be the natural catalyst that we need, without decimating our future.

  7. I would not give up Farmar, much less Bynum or Walton. Bynum’s the center of the future. Luke and the Triangle are made for each other.

  8. A reminder that Walton is in a contract year. The Lakers will have to resign him, if they can. In a trade situation, this essentially makes him just another expiring contract.

    It seems to me that the Kidd thing won’t happen. That’s fine. Tough to swallow the second half of this season, but it’s fine. The team showed huge strides early on and then injuries plagued them. If the Lakers sit tight, resign Luke, and ditch Smush for another PG, this team will be better next year. The Lakers don’t need to make a big splash for the sake of making a big splash. Sure, maybe they’re one All-Star away from a championship. But they’re probably only two role-players away from a championship. If Vlad is back healthy next season and has his shot back, that’s one. Add in the PG (if it’s the right guy) plus Farmar with more experience, and maybe it’ll be all right.

    And that’s before we sign Garnett. ; – )

  9. I think since even Mitchell knows that he shouldn’t trade Bynum shows how obvious it is…it’d be one thing to trade him for a true impact player that makes us contenders but we’re not getting that…and no one wants to see a remake of Jermaine O’Neal for Dale Davis

  10. What about holding off this season and signing Billups this off season? Are there any rumors about that?

  11. There’s no way we can afford Billups. It’s pretty much between milwaukee and detroit for Billups, with Milwaukee willing to overpay and Detroit ready to offer their max. We just don’t have the cap room for a player like Billups.

  12. One question:

    I Farmar’s athleticism is really good (according to Laker brass), he’s a smart player, plays defense, knows how to run the triangle, is a pretty solid shooter, and works hard, how good can he be?

  13. First and foremost. NEVER TRADE ANDREW BYNUM. I would hesitate trading him for KG, let alone Kidd. If the rumors are true that the Nets will not do it without Bynum, well then so be it. Lets move on. And I’m hearing a lot of comments by people who sound like they are throwing in the towel this season if we don’t get Kidd. Come on guys, lets not lose our cool just because we are on a 5 game losing streak. We’re a 5 game winning streak away from being contenders again. I know we’re not used to this but we gotta be strong. The Nets seem to forget that Kidd is 34, has a bad back and a huge contract. They make it sound like they are giving us MJ in his prime. Our deal is on the table and it doesn’t seem like they are satisfied. Whatever. Lets not forget how PJ’s teams always hit their stride at the end of the year into the playoffs. We did it last year and almost knocked off the Suns. This year it looks like we are on a collision course with Utah in the 1st round. If we go into that series executing the triangle properly (no matter who is on our roster), we can take ‘em!

  14. I think the Lakers will be more aggressive in the offseason. I’d love Billups, but he is the top free agent on the market and will be very expensive. It would have to be a sign and trade, and we’d be back to the Bynum discussion.

  15. Interesting note… I just read that we were actually set to acquire Mike Bibby from SacTown. The deal was in place and everything until the Maloofs vetoed the trade because they didn’t want to help us become contenders. Thats interesting. I can’t blame them.

    Here’s where I read it….
    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/dailydime?page=dailydime-070221

  16. too bad we cant trade for Bibby and 3way him for Kidd. That way everybody wins!

  17. The way Bibby is shooting this year, I’m glad it didn’t happen.

  18. I know you guys love your team and everything(Im a sixers fan), but I think you are overestimating Jordan Farmar. I agree that you shouldn’t trade Bynum for a 34 year old Kidd with a bad back and huge contract. If you can get a Jamal Tinsley or Mike Bibby, I dont see how losing Farmar is that important. But I would like to know if you guys would be willing to include Bynum in a trade for Zach Randolph?

  19. 18- As a Sixers fan I’m guessing you don’t watch the Lakers on a nightly basis. Farmar is better than you think because of his basketball IQ. Same with Luke Walton. they may not be on sportscenter every night but that doesn’t mean anything about how good they are and can be in the triangle. Also, we’ve been dealing with a season full of “almost”heart attacks thanks to Smush Parker, so at this point Farmar looks like John Stockton to us.

    As for trading Bynum for Randolph… let me put this simple… HELL NO! We have this little thing on our team called chemistry and we like it a lot, thanks though!

  20. I think Kidd would be a fine fit this year even if he doesn’t know the offense up and down. He’s such an incredible play maker I’m sure Phil would find ways to take advantage of that. When you have someone who can create like Kidd you have to do that or else you wasting his greatest talent.

  21. Two things are very obvious, 1) the Lakers will not get J. Kidd without giving up Bynum and 2) the Lakers need to upgrade the PG position. Who says Kidd is the only decent PG out there? If Farmar is indeed the PG of the future, why not get a vet for a couple of years to hold down the spot. I’m sure the Wizzards would listen to offers for A. Daniels as long as it didn’t involde Kwame. Heck maybe Seattle would listen to anything for E. Watson also. Both of these guys, plus a lot more, are better than Smush and can hold the spot down until Farmar is ready.

  22. 18. I’d give more thought to Randolph than Kidd, I’d be hesitant because I think Bynum can be such a defensive force (Randolph has been solid this year but up and down over his career) . I’m not sure either team gets a huge boost out of that move, however, Might be a wash.

    skigi is right that Farmar gets extra praise around here for not being Smush, and there is an affinity because he played his high school and college ball in LA. I think he can become a rock-solid NBA PG in a few years, the kind of solid starter every team wants out top. That said, I’d move him now in the right deal.

  23. Farmar will be a solid PG in this league, but not a superstar. Bynum has the ability to be a superstar if he wants to be. The ceiling is sky high for that kid. He averages about 11 and 9 right now without a hint of aggression in his body. Hes basically gettin that 11 and 9 in his sleep right now. About a year or two from now, theres gonna be a fire that lights up inside him and he is gonna be a force. Its like back in 96 when we first got Shaq and Kobe. Shaq was in his prime and Kobe was 17. We could have easily moved Kobe in a deal that would have helped us right away, but we were patient with him and his prime ended up overlapping with Shaqs and the results were 3 rings. In 3, maybe even 2 years, teams are gonna have no answer for playing against Lamar, Kobe, and Bynum.

  24. I agree that patience is the right way to go right now. As an aside, how has Kidd performed historically against Nash, Jason Terry, Tony Parker? These are the guys that the Lakers would have to defend at the PG spot. Can Kidd still keep up with these quick guys?

  25. I think being a fan causes loss of brain cells, particularly those involved in long term stratagy. It’s like we are 5-year-olds and would trade our dad’s car for that shiny new bike.

    We looked at Bynum as a possibility 3-4 years down the road when we drafted him. We looked at Farmer possiibly backing up at the PG position in a couple of years. We thought Walton was a guy who would last a couple of years in the league and then be gone.

    All were much better than we ever imagined. So 1) Let’s give Mitch and the brain trust credit for some smarts and some luck and 2) Let’s not dump the plan just yet.

    The only time the Lakers struck gold in one season is when Jack Kent Cooke and Bill Sharman drafted Magic. And that team had a pretty good PG in Norm Nixon and a fairly decent center in Jabbar (still in his prime, no less).

    The Lakers DO NOT do business like the Knicks or Heat (thank goodness) and therefore will probably never see a single season turnaround like those teams could do. However, they will generally be very good, often be in the championship mix, and sometimes be very average.

    I will take the average this year (especially with the type of injuries going down) so I can lord it over people for a number of years in the future.

    Keep the Faith – and hang onto those brain cells.