Preview & Chat: The Denver Nuggets

Kurt —  April 9, 2007

Things I once thought impossible. The Lakers really miss Kwame. I say that not to pile on Bynum, but the young man has hit a stagnation point in his development. I think he’ll over come it, but he hurts us now. His mistakes are often those of inexperience, those of not recognizing the play or making the smart decision. Remember he has been force-fed this season, it was a year Bynum was expected to play 10-15 a game learn at a comfortable pace. Instead, he had to learn in a starting role and the lessons are more painful. For an example, we pick up the action with 7:12 left in the game against the Suns, Kobe has just backed down and knocked down Raja Bell in the post and cut the Suns lead to four, 85-81.

Nash pushes the ball up after the make and Barbosa dives at the hoop, but both Smush and Bynum (in the paint) get back so Nash pulls the ball back out the left wing beyond the three-point line. Marion comes out and sets a soft pick, which Smush easily goes over but Odom, trying to prevent another open three like the Lakers have been giving up, hedges out hard. Nobody goes with Marion on the roll. Now here is the subtle beauty of Nash exposing Bynum’s inexperience — when he pushed the ball up hard Bynum ran back to defend the basket, then as Nash settled into the play Bynum had to avoid the defensive three seconds so he goes to his man (Thomas) who is hanging out at the three point line beyond the top of the key. Now, when Nash goes around his pick then quickly swings the ball to the open Marion, Bynum both doesn’t recognize what happened for a second (so he keeps walking out to the top of the key and not out to his right) and is going the wrong direction when he finally does. Bynum can’t recover to stop the Marion dunk without fouling. Two free throws later, 87-81.

And looking ahead. Kwame is not expected to suit up tonight, but he will come playoff time. Which leads to this question: Is Turiaf your first center off the bench in the playoffs, with Bynum’s minutes cut back? It may depend on matchups, Turiaf played well against the Suns but would the Lakers want Bynum’s length against the bigger Spurs? Something to think about, because you know Phil is.

More painful than Bynum that in the Suns loss.
All the open threes for the Suns. I quoted another blog before the game saying you want to make the Suns two-point shooters, well against the Lakers they shot 45.2% on twos and 45.5% on threes. Way too many quality looks.

Here’s a recap of a coupe of the good looks the Suns got with the game still in doubt.

5:28 left, Lakers down six. The Suns have run the offense but nothing developed so far, down to eight seconds on the shot clock. Nash has got the ball out well above the three-point line. He blows by Smush without needing a pick set and gets into the lane, and literally all five Lakers collapse on him. The Suns, as they do so well, have spread the court and Nash has his choice of guys to pass to, he chooses Marion in the corner (Odom’s man, but he’s in the paint). Smush makes a lame runout but Marion has time to really set his feet and get a good look. He just misses.

5:08 left, it’s the next trip down for the Suns and a fast break after Mo Evans misses a fade away in the lane. Nash gets the board but he’s not even taken two steps before he gets the ball to speedy Barbosa out at the half court line. Barbosa weaves into the lane but both Kobe and Evans are back and pick him up. Meanwhile Raja Bell runs to a spot on the wing just beyond the three-point line. The Lakers trailing the play (Smush, Odom and Bynum) make a beeline for the paint and ignore the guy setting up. Barbosa gets caught in the air but because nobody has even gone into the vague vicinity of Bell there is an outlet for the out-of-control Barbosa. Of course, Bell buries the three. Lakers down nine.

I bring up the threes because… The Nuggets shot 50% from three-point range last week, and they can do that and more if the Lakers defend the line like they did against the Suns. The Nuggets can’t have another monster night from three if the Lakers are to win.

Defending the Nuggets. The Lakers have not done this well the last couple of meetings between these two, but to be fair it’s not that easy. One of the Nuggets favorite plays is to have Nene set the high screen for Iverson, then rather than just roll to the basket he rolls to the left block to set another screen for Melo on the same side of the court. Now two of the best scorers in the league have been screened on the same side of the court, and unless you are very good at defensive rotations there are openings to exploit.

We’ll see if the Lakers can play 48 minutes of team defense tonight.

Smush time?
In the last meeting with Denver, the Lakers held the lead late but the Nuggets went on a late run — a run that started when Smush re-entered the game. It was a bad defensive game for Smush and after that is when he started getting benched in the fourth because of his defense and attitude. So, tonight do we see more Farmar?

Bottom line: Huge game tonight, both in terms of playoff seedings but more importantly confidence going into the playoffs. The Lakers need some of that, and tonight is a good place to start building some.

Kurt

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50 responses to Preview & Chat: The Denver Nuggets

  1. Kwame a., got to talk to new Long Beach State coach Monson for a few minutes. I’ll say this, on the personality/”would I want to play for him” scale, this guy blows the last couple of coaches out of the water. I think he’ll be able to recruit talent.

    Second, I was told by someone that the reason Monson got the job over Dollar was that Dollar is considered someone who will use his next job as a quick stepping stone to a better job, where Monson (after the situation in Minnesota) is considered someone who is likely to stay for a while. That was the deciding factor, I was told.

  2. For all those who doubted Jerry West’s ability as a GM witafter he left the Lakers, take a look at what Memphis’ lineup is likely to be next year:

    PG: Chauncey Billups
    SG: Rudy Gay
    SF: Mike Miller
    PF: Pao Gasol
    C: Greg Oden

    Yikes, that team is going to be nasty. It is, of course, contingent on getting Billups in free agency. But they have the cap room to make it happen, and Billups said himself that he wouldn’t mind playing for them next year.

    On another note, Jerry West’s contract with the Grizzlies is up on June 30th. Hmm…

  3. Personally, if Kwame’s starting, I don’t mind seeing Ronny coming in at the 4…I don’t know…I just don’t want to destroy Andrew’s confidence. He’s talented and he’s only 19. Yeah, he might have hit a wall…….BUT HE’S 19. Do you remember how receptive you were to teaching at 19? I just think his potential is too good to tweak. I don’t know how you rotate these guys, but I do know that the best way for Andrew to get his confidence back is by playing. When you’re that age, you can run all day. He just needs encouragement and he’s a good kid. He needs support. I think he’ll be alright….but yeah, I’d love to see Ronny get in more, take some time at the 4 or make the Lakers bigger or whatever, but he definitely deserves to get in.

  4. Other rising Western powers to worry about next year:

    Denver:
    PG: Allen Iverson
    SG: Carmelo Anthony
    SF: Kenyon Martin
    PF: Nene
    C: Marcus Camby

    Golden State:
    PG: Baron Davis
    SG: Jason Richardson
    SF: Stephen Jackson
    PF: Al Harrington
    C: Patrick O’Bryant/Adonal Foyle

    Portland:
    PG: Jarret Jack
    SG: Brandon Roy
    SF: Martell Webster
    PF: Zach Randolph
    C: Lamarcus Aldridge
    (This team will trade their 1st rd pick for more veteran talent as well.)

    New Orleans:
    PG: Chris Paul
    SG: Rasual Butler
    SF: Peja Stojacavic
    PF: David West
    C: Tyson Chandler

    It looks like quite a few lower seeded teams have great potential to be better in the next year or two. What are the Lakers going to do to become a better team?

  5. How will the Lakers get better next season? If there is improvement it will likely come from these areas:

    1. A focus on defense. Conventional wisdom says it takes many players a season or two to be comfortable in the triangle offense. And for all the troubles this year, the current Lakers squad seems to get the offense, It may not always be executed well, but they get it. The defense may flow from the tri-offense but the team obviously needs some defensive focus from the staff at camp in the fall. There will be time to do this now, as they will not need to focus as heavily on the offensive side of the ball.

    2. Assuming Luke is resigned, the MLE could provide more impact than it may seem. The right player could easily have this team in the “more than the sum of their parts” category.

    3. Expect modest improvements from Bynum and Vlad. It is hard for me to say that, for all practical purposes, a rookie is a bust. It is also hard for me to say that a free agent sharpshooter was a bust signing, as his shooting hand was messed up from Game One.

    4. Just as last year the Lakers were extremely lucky to have very few injuries, this season they bounced to the other side of the spectrum. (Though they weren’t the unluckiest in the NBA, injury-wise.) Next season should be more normal. One or two starters miss significant time.

    And about this season, though I saw the Fat Lady arrive at her dressing room, it ain’t over ’til it’s over.

  6. Kurt-Thanks for that update. I could see what LB was worried about, Dollar, in my estimation, would have had tremendous success, and naturally would have elicited offers from major schools. Monson seems like a good fit, he’s done regional recruiting before and has built a program ground up.

    Good chance tonite for AB to start back on the road to redemption. He must attack Camby and rebound tonite. Don’t know who we will be putting on ‘Melo tonite, but we need to do something about him, Luke is not the answer.

  7. Tonight will be as close to a “practice” playoff game as we can get. The 6th seed, and the right to NOT play the Phoenix Suns in the first round, is on the line tonight. And more importantly for us, we need a win tonight for our confidence.

    Let’s see if the Lakers players realize how important tonight is and play like they want it more than Denver, or if they come out lookin like we’re about to play a summer league game.

  8. How about the Celtics next year, they could be good.

    Oden?
    Jefferson
    Szczerbiak/Allen
    Pierce/Green
    Rondo/Telfair/West

  9. ^^^Like Gary Payton said, they might be better, but they’re not going anywhere.

  10. Whoever scheduled the Lakers to play the Suns and Nuggets back to back is a cruel cruel man

  11. So much for that 48 minutes of defense we hoped for…..

    Good first half out of Luke, on offense. Having him on Melo at all is a recipe for disaster.

  12. Bynum had a little fire in the second quarter, hopefully that continues, we need it

  13. Talk about a great look by Kobe at the end there.

  14. Geez…..three quarters of terrible defense…well, maybe not terrible, but not up to scratch anyway….needed more help D for Sasha to get in front of AI and Smush to fight thru a pick….ah well….good effort from Andrew. He has a great touch.

  15. I liked that zone defense in the second half, less because I love the zone than that it worked (the Nuggets shot under 50% in the second half). Sasha played more because he plays zone D better. It’s not the long term answer, but Phil is clearly grasping for things that work.

  16. Sasha is an unathletic embarassment. He constantly makes poor decisions and he fouls because he can’t keep up with opposing players. The practice squad hero should be cut after this season.

  17. i posted this on the other blog, maybe some of you have the answers i’m looking for?

    BALL MOVEMENT, WHAT’S THAT?

    What i still can’t understand for the life of me is, why don’t they use the triangle to their advantage. Still, there is too much dribbling. It’s like they forgot how to play in the offense. I really don’t understand, nor do i care to anymore to be truthful.

    When ever kobe recieves a pass, he either picks it up and dribbles, or thinks about shooting it. Why, why is it that in the begining of the year we really used the offense to our advantage, every one making cuts, moving into their spots. Now its like swing the ball to kobe, and lets see what he can do with it. Why did they stop using the offense? Why? It’s gives us an advantage over every team, really our only one at this point. I can only ask is the team doing this on purpose, is kobe doing this on purpose, or is it that they just don’t think very well during games.

    The only answer that comes to me is that kobe has to surender the ball, and play with in the offense; cause this just ain’t working at all the way they’re playing! why does he stop ball movement, and why hasn’t phil called him out on it? i love kobe, but this is incredibly bad basketball on his part. I really don’t think his teammates trust him at this point, they know they ain’t getting the ball unless it’s for an assist.

    I really think that those string of 50point games were a mistake, and was really a detriment to the team. They don’t know how to play together anymore at all.

    I’m i the only one who see this, am i going crazy because of the losses? why are they playing like this?

    JJ,Andrew Z, EXhelodrvr, Michael A, Faith, and all the rational fans. Is kobe destroying our team? I hope the answer is no!

  18. This end of season swoon is not about individual players–fallible as they may be. It is not about injuries, though they have been damaging and plentiful. This end of season swoon is about rigid thinking and inflexible decision making on the part of management .

    How could we possibly have been starting the Smusher and Bynum against the resurgent Nuggets this late in the season?

    After all, the Smusher has been humbled all season by penetrating guards (most recently by Nash on national TV the day before), and Allen Iverson is no pushover.

    Going to a zone and replacing Smush with Sasha could have been done at the beginning of the game, not in the second half after the (predictable) damage was severe!

    Smush is here primarily because Laker brass failed to sign their favored point guard candidate for last year–mostly because they wouldn’t then give the candidate the type of contract they gave this year to VladRad–and a stopgap point guard was all they could “afford.”

    Even though they could have afforded a point guard this year, they repeated the stopgap (and might repeat it again for next year!). Smush, who has started in every game for almost two years as a point guard, will be an unrestricted free agent as soon as the season is over.

    That’s not the way it’s supposed to work!

    If Smush is deliberately “flaccid” on defense as a way of protesting this treatment, the Laker management deserves the consequences of every pick that the Smusher can’t roll.

    If the Lakers are playing Smush because he is so good, why don’t they give him a contract and a substantial raise right now as a confidence boost? If they intend to release him at the end of the season, why not give someone else the minutes who can provide some defensive pressure and protect the bigs from fouls?

    Bynum was to be a 10 to 15 minute “project” that wouldn’t start for years, not forced to play long minutes under pressure and “ruined” like Kwame Brown.

    Why give up on that idea? Just as Turiaf had won the Seattle game, and might have won the Suns game for them if he had stayed in, Ronnie might have done the same tonight as a starter!

    A flexible thinker always has a plan B (or C or D) and adjusts on the fly. A rigid thinker “anchors” and goes down with the ship.

    With Phil, it might be time to get out the divers.

  19. I really get tired of seeing the Lakers hand the opponents a lead in the 1st quarter, then spend the rest of the game trying to dig themselves out of the hole they just dug themselves into. I don’t have stats, but it sure seems as if that’s happened a lot this year, at least since the early injuries. For a change, I’d like to see them come out hard, take command of the game early, and keep their collective foot on the other team’s neck the whole way. It just burns me up seeing them struggling back manfully from a 9 or 11 point deficit, and thinking they might have won the game with that kind of energy if they hadn’t let the game get away from them early.

  20. Kurt- I agree with you about the zone. Highly uncharacteristic for Phil to abandon his man-to-man strategy, he must be desperate. The teams defensive problems are by far the biggest mystery of the season, as the trend has always been for Phil teams to improve defensivley throughout the season. Maybe he has given up and is willing to pull out whatever gimmicks give us a chance.

  21. I’m speechless. No wins against any playoff bound team for awhile. Kobe’s shot selection not very efficient, defense….it seems like Carmelo can do anything he wants to the Lakers. He just bull dozed his way to the basket getting fouled at key points of the game.

    But overall the Lakers are a soft team. Even Kobe who had been voted 1st team all defense in the past is really non existent. If he’d had used up some of his fouls on defense they should have come out on top. He still plays defense like he has Shaq there to back him up. It seems like the coaching staff is reluctant to address this even though Tex Winter is well aware of this fact. I guess the coaches are either sandbagging for the playoffs to steal a game or two since Rad & KBrown are due back or we truly are just setting ourselves up for an early exit in the 1st round.

    It is just hard to swallow these losses. Really hard to be positive but hey until the fat lady sings we’re headed to the playoffs in my head and ready to do battle. Go Lakers!!

  22. It says something that most of the comments to this post talk about next year. Sounds like the troops are all thinking 4 and out in the playoffs.

    In the here and now, I’m tired of the Lakers playing to the level of their competition. If you can hang with Phoenix and San Antonio, you can beat Denver. It seems like every game comes down to the 4th quarter and the Lakers playing catch up, when if they’d been playing with any sense of urgency during the first 36 minutes, they’d be up be 10 and resting. Not saying Denver is that type of team, that we should beat em by 10 every time, just saying we always seem to play within 5 points of the competition, be they Dallas or Memphis.

  23. Good point Bryan. Maybe it’s this “coasting” mentality that Kobe has had throughout the season that effects the entire team. Just kind of pass it around until the 4th quarter, and THEN start playing.

    I hate it.

    Either play within the offense or don’t. Don’t play team ball sometimes and then Kobe ball the rest. It’s ridiculous how childish that is.

    ALWAYS use the triangle. Take the open shots. There will be times where Kobe should take more shots, but ALWAYS within the offense. There is NO advantage to having Kobe take on the entire opposing team. Sometimes, when he is hot, it will work. But what does that do for the LAKERS? Nothing.

    We might as well just put the LA Sparks on the floor with Kobe when he plays like that.

  24. They should have gone to Bynum a few more times. To give him some confidence, at least.

  25. read a post somewhere, i think its the nba fanhouse, about the lakers falling out of the playoff picture…

    hmm with the way they’re playing right now its quite possible, but perhaps a bit improbable

  26. 22. I’m not sure people have given up on this year yet. I think Rob L. put it well yesterday, the fat lady hasn’t sung but it seems she’s in the building. The Lakers will not go four and out, but what evidence is there they can win a seven game series right now. Unless they start playing this matchup zone like Don Cheney’s Temple Owls.

  27. 25., it was on Fanhouse, and I’m mentioning it in the post I’m working on for later today. Bottom line, the Lakers magic number is 2 with four games left. Basically, even if the Lakers drop three of the last four someone would have to win out to pass them. Unlikely both the clippers and warriors would do that.

  28. Bonzi is on his way out according to rumors.

    Rebounding, good defense, and post-play is what Bonzi can bring and what we need if we play the Suns. It’s unlikely with the Lakers, but right now, they’re desperate.

  29. Bonzi is not on his way.

    According to NBA bylaws, because he played in the NBA this season it is now too late to bring him on the Lakers and have him play in the playoffs. If the Rockets waived him today and the Lakers picked him up, he could play the remaining four games of the regular season only.

  30. I don’t understand…how did Tim Thomas get to Phoenix…wasn’t he with the Knicks before?

  31. The cutoff date is March 1. This is according to Marc Stein today. Thomas was before that date, as I remember, part of that luxury tax cut.

  32. Adam Kiley — no, Kobe is not destroying our team. Remember, the team had lost 7 straight before the coaching staff told Kobe to take over. He did what they asked him to, going out and averaging 53.6 for 5 games (and don’t forget — they won all 5).

    DrRayEye — Phil likes to let his players play through their mistakes. It makes for some rough patches in the short term, but in the long run they learn how to play their way out of trouble, make better decisions, and it builds their confidence. He’s been doing this for 17 years.

    With that said, it doesn’t seem to be working with Smush. But while the fans are thinking about tonite, Phil is thinking about the playoffs. So we’ll see. Although I really don’t have much hope for Smush.

    Also, the Lakers can’t sign Smush to a contract right now because, as stipulated in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams can only sign players (even their own) to contracts from July 15 – Oct. 31 every year.

  33. matt –

    All that was gained from Kobe carrying our team to 5 straight wins was false hopes. We aren’t a playoff team right now. We continue to give ourselves terrible draft positions because Kobe gets us to higher seeds than we deserve to be at.

    I’m not blaming Kobe for anything… he wants to win. I blame our coaching and management for allowing it to go on like this.

    Get Kobe some legit players to go out on the court with. No more d-leaguers, draft busts, and “potential” talent.

    Buss charges a hefty price for people to watch games… that means he needs to pay a hefty price to get a winning team on the court.

  34. It’s completely crazy to say Kobe is destroying this team, by the way.

    You better reevaluate your position. We are lucky to have a guy like that play for us. Remember those 3 championships? We wouldn’t have those without this guy. Don’t ignore history.

    I may be critical of how he is playing, but I still recognize that without him the Lakers are garbage.

    It has been a pleasure to watch Kobe Bryant play basketball in Los Angeles for the last 10 years.

  35. 32 Matt,

    Thanks for the correction of my erroneous comment about signing Smush right now. It was the wrong way for me to make my point.

    My main claim is that both short term and long term decisions by the Lakers are rigid. Compare to the Mavericks. Mark Cuban traded, made mistakes, corrected them, changed direction, and ultimately put together a great team around Dirk Nowitzke.

    The Nuggets and Warriors made very major trades half way through the season when things weren’t working.

    The Lakers can’t even make far smaller changes when reality would seem to require them to rethink.

    Would it really have been that big a deal if they STARTED defense minded Turiaf and Farmar instead of of Bynum and the Smusher against the Nuggets?

  36. lakers suck go pistons

  37. DR – Funny you mention D-Leaguers. If the system Laker management has put in place blossoms, that may be exactly how the team will improve. If running the Tri requires lead time for players to learn the system, owning the D-Fenders could be a great way to develop solid role-players at a decent price.

    Also, I’m loving the folks that think posting on an internet forum is not anonymous enough. At least make up a fake name. Maybe PiztonzRulez1337 or something. You can totally have that one. A gift from one NBA fan to another.

  38. The players on this Laker team just simply do not care about whats going on right now. Theres no reason they should be running around during warmups, laughing and joking around when they have been playing so poorly so late in the season. During the game, Bynum steps over the baseline trying to imbound the ball and gets called for it. A second later, after the timeout, he is walking back on the court with a huge smile on his face. NO EXCUSE!

    The players on this Laker team just DO NOT CARE about winning a championship. They treat the season as if they are on an adult league basketball team at the gym. They are on the LOS ANGELES LAKERS. They are wearing FORUM BLUE AND GOLD uniforms and not even caring.

    The only players who look seriously upset after every one of these horrible losses is Kobe, Lamar, Luke, and Ronny. Every other player on the team is not affected by the losses and that is why we can not turn this around. It is mental. They will not start winning games until they want to. Until they realize hey, I’m getting embarrassed out here on national tv, and the only way to stop the bleeding is to play defense like my life depends on it. I don’t see this sense of urgency with this team.

    As a die hard Laker fan for the last 13 years, I tried to stay as optimistic and positive with this team as I could, hoping that they would turn it around sooner or later. Right now, I am just plain fed up with them. This group of Lakers is disgracing the city and its fans with their lack of effort. At this point, I almost hope they miss the playoffs and get a lottery pick that can help our team next year as opposed to being swept in the first round (We have 1 win over a team with a winning record since the allstar break, good luck winning 4 out of 7)

    For next year, Kobe, Lamar, Luke, and Ronny have earned the right to be back next year. Everybody else is skating on thin ice. Free agents (other than Luke and Ronny) will not be resigned, core players may be traded, and Smush better start applying for a job with And-1 beacuse no NBA team will want a no-defense point guard with an attitude

  39. Sorry about the last post guys. just real upset with whats going on right now. Never thought I would have to feel the way we did during the 34-48 season again but here we are, all over again

  40. It has turned into a frustrating season to watch, but without the valleys the mountains wouldn’t seem so high.

  41. The Lakers should have traded Smush when his value was high.

  42. the lakers shouldnt have smush on the playoff roster….even if he can score he plays 0 defense and is a cancer in the locker room….they arent going to re sign him because we clearly need to upgrade at the PG position….turiaf deserves more time…he always hustles and does something productive….as far as people saying kobe is making the lakers worse thats a joke…he was finding teammates left and right last night and for the most part they couldnt contribute…he didnt play excellent but every1 has an off night….if the lakers dont want to get swept they need to maybe just start kobe at pg and mo at the 2 atleast our defensive backcourt would be more solid

  43. All right

    I’ve heard enough, Just because you find people for assists, and make the pass doesn’t mean your playing team ball, especially with this team. If anything, having too many assists with one player is bad, it means that player has not spread it around enough. In a perfect situation every player would have about 5 assists; because you’re playing off one another, and not just two players. The Triple Post is king, and it works so well if run correctly.That being said…

    Every time kobe picks up his dribble, he thereby ruins that possession. it’s that simple, he dirbbles and isolates too much. Just because i acknowledge this does not mean i’m a kobe basher. Really, i’m just pointing out the obivious. Ball movement, that’s all i’m asking for from him swing the ball around, make sharp cuts, play without the ball more. All really simple things that lead to a greater offense. If kobe moved around more they would not be able to zone him and double him as much as the do now. nor would he be as turnover prone, not having as many ballhandling responsiblites. If this makes me a kobe hate so be it, but at least i know i love the lakers, and that’s all that matters to me!

  44. If anything, having too many assists with one player is bad, it means that player has not spread it around enough.

    huh? I’ll buy that there needs to be more movement in the offense, it would be more than welcome. But the triangle alone will not win games without the talent to do it well or the team playing defense on the other end.

  45. DR (34) – I wasn’t the one saying that Kobe was destroying the team. That was Adam Kiley in comment 17. Re-read my post, I was defending Kobe.

    When Michael Jordan was playing, I watched and admired his artistry and dominance and will to win. And while the Lakers have always been my team, I became a fan of the ‘90s Bulls. I couldn’t help myself.

    Then when Jerry West pulled off the trade for Kobe in ’97, I knew we had something special. I watched his growing pains. (Remember the “airball game” in the playoffs against Utah?) I watched his early steps towards stardom. And then, like all of you, I watched his playoff coming-out party in ’01, dominating the Spurs in the second round.

    And now that he is hands-down the best player in the league, I consider it a privilege to have him on my team and be able to root for him night in and night out. But because of his tattered image, many fans and media people refuse to give Kobe his due like they did Jordan.

    So I, for one, LOVE watching Kobe perform superhuman feats. I LOVE watching Kobe do things no one other than Wilt has ever done. Every time he goes for 81, or 60 in three quarters, or 53.6 over five games, it is a joy and a thrill and a privilege to watch, and it also forces everyone in America to acknowledge his greatness.

    We are witnesses to history.

    Does it give us false hope for today? Yes, but that is a price I am willing to pay.

    Because it also gives us joy.

    And yes, Kobe’s dominance hurts our standing in the draft. But who from the last two drafts would you rather have than Kobe? Who would you sacrifice his dominance to obtain?

    For in Kobe, we have a player who we know can dominate in the playoffs. A player who, with a good supporting cast, we know can lead us back to winning championships. Yes, his dominance gives us false hope today, but it gives us true hope for the years to come.

    ———–

    DR (33) and DrRayEye (35) – As far as the players around Kobe, yes, there are some guys that I’m not thrilled with. But let’s look at the big picture:

    Three years ago, the core players from our dynasty were old and tired, our two superstars hated eachother, and the coach was burned out.

    Now? In addition to the best player on the planet, we have an All Star-caliber forward. We have a terrific glue guy who hustles, shoots, rebounds, passes and is the key to making the triangle go. We have three talented young centers. And we have our point guard of the future.

    That’s a core of 7 good young players. (Emphasis on young.)

    What we have witnessed the last two years is the growing pains of our talented young team. Playing the young guys now might be painful to watch, but the experience they’re getting now, their trial by fire, will pay dividends in the years to come.

    It takes time for a group of players to become a team, to gel both on and off the court and learn how to play together. Many people forget, but the Bulls had the same starting lineup for six years before they won their first championship. SIX YEARS!! And some Lakers fans (present company excluded) are ready to throw in the towel because we haven’t been to the Finals in three years.

    If we can add a veteran or two and the kids continue to develop, we could see some dramatic improvement very quickly.

    As far as adding guys at the deadline, it’s difficult to bring in guys who aren’t familiar with the triangle mid-season. With that said, the team tried to get Jason Kidd at this year’s deadline. They had a deal worked out with the Kings to acquire Mike Bibby, but the Maloofs pulled the plug.

    This summer there are a bunch of good players on the market. Vets like Grant Hill and PJ Brown who want to win might be willing to sign for the mid-level or less. Mo Williams is an option. Guys like James Posey, Ruben Patterson, Jerry Stackhouse, Gerald Wallace, Jason Kapono, Chris Webber, Melvin Ely and others are out there.

    Bibby or Chauncey Billups might be had in a trade, using the contracts of Vlade, Cook, Mihm (re-signed) and Sasha and a couple future draft picks. And we’ve got three picks between 15 and 50 this year in a very, very deep draft.

    Three years ago we were an aging mess. Now we have a solid, talented young core. We are headed in the right direction.

    The present might look bleak. But for this young team, as long as we have Kobe, the future is very bright.

  46. If anything, having too many assists with one player is bad, it means that player has not spread it around enough.

    Yeah, that Stockton-to-Malone thing never worked at all.

    I agree with your point, though I give a hard time about it. With this current Laker lineup, there are not two guys who you can trust to play a two-man game effectively. Plus, that’s not how the triangle works.

    Bibby can’t be had in a trade. LA-Sac will not do anything to help each other. Billups cannot be had in a trade. Dumars let Big Ben walk last year just so he could resign Mr. Big Shot this year. MAYBE he goes to Denver, his home town. But even that’s a long-shot.

  47. i never said kobe is destroying the team, actually, i asked “Is kobe destroying our team.” A fair question, in the sense is he destroying continuity, or any sense of team ball. I’m a kobe fan, but that does not protect him from criticizm. So don’t lay that blanket on me, i refuse to wear it!

  48. Matt (45),

    Let’s not get lost in “pie in the sky bye and bye.” Let’s try to understand Laker values.

    You might recall that the Lakers used to have a point guard named Derek Fisher. He wasn’t old–but he was signed as a free agent by Golden State, because he was offered a salary that the Lakers considered “excessive” and refused to match. He became available again last summer, only to be signed once again to a “ridulous” salary by Utah–where he played a mentor role.

    Though we certainly cannot give Derek Fisher full credit, you might have noticed that Utah didn’t do too badly this year.

    Meanwhile, we went from defensively minded Derek Fisher to offensively minded Chucky Athins, who was traded for his lack of defense in favor of (guess who?) seemingly defensive minded Smush Parker.

    They’ve had this scenario ever since Dere Fisher left.

    How do you know that they will spend significant money on point guard for next year? They signed ValdRad for this year. What makes you so sure that we won’t resign the Smusher for next year? Look at his salary.

    Does this flashback into Laker history make you less confident about your “pie in the sky bye and bye”?

  49. Adam — You’re right, “Is Kobe destroying …” was a question, not a statement. My bad. But my comment was still my response to that question.

    Anonymous — If Billups wants to leave Detroit, and he tells them “I’m leaving, period”, they’ll be willing to trade him rather than loose him for nothing.

    DrRayEye — I am all too familiar with Laker history.

    And I’m not dreaming of a pie in the sky. My point was simply to remind people not to get so caught up in the moment that they forget to look at the big picture. Which is:
    - We’re in much better shape than three years ago.
    - We’ve got a talented young core.
    - If we can add a couple veterans this summer, we’ll be a much, much better team next year.

    Can we get those veteran? Who knows. We do have some tradeable contracts and draft picks.

    And by the way, Derek Fisher was NOT “signed once again to a ridiculous salary by Utah”. He was traded from Golden State to Utah.
    http://www.nba.com/jazz/news/Jazz_Introduce_Fisher.html

    If you want to give a history lesson, make sure you get the facts straight.

  50. Oh, and since the Lakers tried at the deadline to acquire Kidd, who is scheduled to make over $41 million in the next two years, and Bibby, who is scheduled to make $28 million in the next two years, yes, I do think that they’re willing to spend whatever it will take to improve the team.