Fast Break Thoughts

Kurt —  May 11, 2007

• It’s no secret Laker fans lust after Kevin Garnett, as do the fans in Chicago and New York and every other NBA city. Including Minneapolis. That said, now Laker fans have their own web site about it. If you haven’t checked out the slick new, it’s worth a look.

You know where I stand on this: The ball is in KG’s court. If he asks out, if he pushes for a trade, then the Lakers need to make an offer. And if he does, we’ll all know about it. But KG has not made the first step, and all the wishing in the world by Laker fans won’t change that.

• The Mavs/Suns/Spurs = rock/paper/scissors.

• I am pumped to watch the game in Golden State tonight, the crowd will be on fire. Apparently I’m not alone — Golden State has been the ratings darlings of the playoffs so far.

• Bulls fans, I know its not easy right now, but keep your heads up. It’s a young team and game three was a learning experience. A painful one, but a learning experience nonetheless. If Paxon can keep that core together there will be titles in Chicago again in a few years.

• And what’s the lesson the Bulls have taught us about building a team? Right. Make trades with the Kincks.

• The Spurs/Suns series is simply at a higher level — of coaching, of smart play, of pure basketball — than any other right now. Golden State has charisma, but this series is for all the marbles (Detroit is nice and all, but no).

• During the regular season, the Yao Ming/Tracy McGrady combo had the team +15 per 48 minutes when paired on the floor. In the playoffs it was -7.

to Fast Break Thoughts

  1. You don’t think DEEEE-TROIT basketball can handle SA or PHX? I dunno. They’re deeper this year, they’re seasoned, they defend. I don’t know. I could see them winning it. I wouldn’t put a lot of money on that, but I wouldn’t dismiss their shot either. I agree with ya ’bout Chi-town though. If they keep that group together, there is hardware to be had. It’s a version of what I’ve been talking to friends about the Lakers as well. Yeah, we don’t have a great team. But we don’t have junk. And it’s not worth the questionable, uncertain benefit that a supposed blockbuster could bring us. What do all winners have in common? A group that has been together-the Lakers in their latest run and during the ’80s, the Spurs since ’97, Detroit, and Chicago will get there. Cleveland is maintaining a core. Drew Gooden can do some things, Pavlovic has some skills. They have some vets. Yeah, they might not be the whole answer, but it’s not worth completely overturning the ship to supposedly save it. Or in another phrase, don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.


  2. 1. I like the Dream of KG…a whole lot….but…I think with Walton/Odom/Bryant and Point Guard X and Center X…they could go all the way (minus injury)

    2. Dallas/Phonies/San Antonio…all places far to hot to live (I lived in Dallas for a while…that was a tough few years…But Mav’s games to see the Forum Blue were much cheaper then seeing the boys at Staples).

    3. Jackson may just play himself back into good light. How about our Boy D-Fish (I wish he would come home).

    4. If the Bulls can keep those kids together….watch out world!!!

    5. What if the Knicks got D-Fish, Baron Davis and Smush Parker..and they start along side Marbury and Francis….I dont have HD so I’d be a struggle to figure out who is who….but….it would be fun…

    6. Spurs got this one I think….

    7. At least T-Mac has the funniest comercial ever. “McCrady with the block…” See ssheep flying thru air….


  3. Too bad we can’t just sign KG for the vet’s minimum in 2008.


  4. I would like to point out something obvious. The Lakers had a top ten offense this season. This disastrous, injury-filled season. Kobe plus whomever could probably do that for the next 3 seasons, at least.

    The real issue is team defense. Improving the defense can happen without adding All-Stars. But this requires two things:

    1. The team can have no weak link. This isn’t to say everyone must play D like Artest. This is to say no one can play D like Smush did. Effort, effort, effort.

    2. Phil Jackson must teach the team defense.


  5. 3. Much as I’d like to keep silent, heres the deal:

    KG wont sign the minimum. The team is still not at that point where a minor contribution can win it all. Maybe if Phoenix had KG that would surely be a very near possibility. Hence, If we do make a run at KG next year when he opts out, we better clear a little cap room to do that. Meaning 8-10M range and playing alongside Kobe and Odom would now be acceptable to KG.

    2. I admire the Bulls too. At least they have a theme to their team going. A few years back, post Jordan era, they rebuilt. Now they are, now they can contend. They may not be there yet but soon enough…

    4. Phil J was never about defense. He has the assistants for that.


  6. Hey Kurt, is there anyway to bookmark the commenting guidelines post along the right hand side of the page, by the mission statement, etc?

    it was very well-written and could be a great intro for any newbies checking out the site. Might let you weed through some people as they first visit your site.

    Keep on rockin, kurt!

    By the way, you’re right, sad to see the Bulls get schooled.


  7. Evidently SAS on NBA Shootaround just said that Kobe is absolutely FURIOUS with the FO re: not living up to what they promised when he resigned with them.

    I’m sure ESPN will put it up on their site soon enough.


  8. The trade restrictions on the salary cap are stupid. I understand that you can’t trade Shaq for someone that makes $1 mil and dump his contract. But there should be enough flexibility in those restrictions so that the trade of Shaq for Odom and Butler, without having to take on Brian Grant’s contract, would be approved. Imagine if we had made that trade and then went after Nash that same year. I think that we would have a pretty nice team by now. Stern has ruined the game.


  9. You gotta recognize that the rules are to even out the competition. Take a look at baseball…or rather don’t bother, NY and Boston are spending like sailors and most teams haven’t a snowball’s chance in h**l of competing. I happen to think the guidelines in basketball are good for general competition, but bad for your team – if in a major market.


  10. 6. I plan to link or put them written out on the side as a permanent part of the column. There’s some reworking that needs to go on over there. And by the way, the drinking and commenting thing was meant as a joke.

    8. People in America like even (thought of as fair) competition. The NFL has the most restrictive cap in sports, a true hard cap, but the sport thrives. NASCAR thrives because, theoretically, the cars are close to each other (while Formula One struggles here because the big money of Ferrari or whomever essentially buys a title). Craig. W. already used the baseball analogy.

    You can make the argument that the sports are better when there is a 70s Steelers or an 80s Lakers to chase, but right now fans are voting with their pocketbooks that they like sports where any team, from any market no matter now small, can win if they are savvy enough in the front office and have the right players.

    I would add, however, that I see the real reason for a cap or luxury tax is to protect the owners from themselves.


  11. I’m not against the salary cap per se. It is more that I find the trade restrictions within it too limiting.


  12. While so many seem to be looking for blockbuster additions to this team, I think that any NBA team with a Kobe Bryant in-his-prime is not too far away from contention, with a few key pieces.

    And I have to say that, barring KG, I’m against trading Lamar. I’d trade Bynum before Lamar.

    Here are some favorites I keep mulling:

    1) Sarunas Jasikevicius (Can shoot and pass),

    2) Matt Barnes (judging from his play in Golden State, can clearly hustle and rebound, not sure, however, if he’d just duplicate some of what Walton and Turiaf already do, but he’s a UCLA guy, so I’ll throw him in)

    3) Brian Cardinal (I think he makes way too much money to take on for what he does, but he’s another hustle guy, and he can shoot. Hell, he’s no star, but I’d think about swapping him for Kwame, despite Kwame’s superior talent, simply based on the fact that he plays his tail off)

    4) Mike Miller (Not sure if he’d be traded, but maybe with the Grizz going young there could be a shot. Would anyone give up Bynum/Kwame, and/or picks for him? I would. Getting him without losing Odom would give the Lakers a great playmaker/shooter to pair with Kobe and Lamar).

    5) Derek Fisher : Better than anyone Lakers currently have at the point; probably makes too much money to become a reality, but that doesn’t make the thought any less sweet. Wouldn’t push the team much further in playoffs anyhow, to be honest, but should retire a Laker.

    6) Tyronne Lue : Knows the triangle, better than Smush or Sasha or Shammond.


  13. Brian,
    I like your thoughts. We keep talking about more superstars and more offense. What we need are hustling role players and defense. That is why the Laker situation is fixable within the next year and that is where Mitch has fallen down. He drafts well enough, but he just doesn’t seem to be able to sign free agents with any success. Vlad may still work out, but his hand injury in training camp effectively lost him for the season.

    I really do not want to trade any of the core players, young and experienced. Besides, both Kwame and Lamar are both possibly undergoing surgery and we won’t be able to trade them. I say get rid of any players not completely hustling and task Mitch with bringing in some defensive bangers.


  14. What’s interesting about money attempting to buy championships is that you still need to be smart and lucky. The Knicks certainly spend a lot of dough (though less than they had) and it hasn’t produced results. Ditto for the Yanks this year but if you use the old Pythagorean with their Runs Scored Runs Allowed numbers it does appear the Yanks have been just a little unlucky. (Read: No bullpen)

    To bring this back around to the Lakers, I have no problem with Buss not wanting to cross the lux threshold. If a team goes to the dark side for some players and it doesn’t pan out correctly, the team can be crippled for years to come.


  15. For the moment, indulge me in considering my fear. All around the blogosphere and the basketball commentariat there is non-stop bashing on Kobe. I myself think of the Kobe-haters as either ignorant or irrational, though if people want to hold Colorado against him, I guess that’s their perogative. But what gets me is how many reports there are that Kobe’s “selfishness” essentially drives other NBA players away from the Lakers. Since we are in dire need of some veteran role players, what I would like to know is whether this perception of Kobe (not the reality) is, in fact, widely held by his fellow players, or is it just unfounded bloviation on the part of sports writers who want us to believe that everyone else shares their (unfounded) opinion. I suspect that even if true, many players would set aside their misgivings for a) the right price and b) an obvious shot at a championship ring. Does the anti-Kobe perception really affect the trade situation?


  16. 15 — I don’t believe so at all. Most of the superstars have close ties to Kobe through the years and his work over the past 2 years has nullified a large chunk of the fellow NBA players animosity towards him. It’s a younger league and the new guys certainly look at Kobe differently than the old veterans that have now retired. Big time changing of the guard.

    I always laugh when the comment is made that other players would not want to play with Kobe. If the Lakers actually had some money to spend, who knows who we could actually get in free agency. We haven’t had any cap room to even see if big name guys would come here since Shaq and Kobe started earning the big $$$. Malone and Payton are the only ones i can remember since ’96 coming here.


  17. Mikee,
    You are making the mistake that NBA basketball players use the media and the blogosphere for anything, exept 1) their own entertainment and 2) as a way to leverage their salaries upward.

    Most of these guys have dealt with Kobe, either on the court or, mostly, in person. They have formed their opinions and I suspect ESPN isn’t likely to change them – positively or negatively. The words I hear mostly from fellow ballers is either respect for his dedication to his craft or his competitive intensity. The people who would be driven to avoid Kobe on either of these two counts are NOT the people we want on this team anyway.

    The haters are the haters; either in the media or on the blog. Only fans are really upset by them, as they are pretty much ignored by everyone else.


  18. Kobe needs someone playing beside him that is as consistant as him. every night, you can put Kobe down for 30 pts, 6 reb 5-6 assts. You can write it in ink. He needs another player on his team that can get 20 pts and 10 reb. Lamar is not that. He gets the rebounds but not the points. He gets 18, then 8, then13, then10 the 22…. you get my point. No consistancy He’s better off as a initiator/third scoring option. But Luke is already that.
    Lamar was supposed to be the #2 option. He has never shown himself to be that in his entire career. He’s too unselfish to be a #2 scorer.
    Kobe deserves better.


  19. 18) I’d love to have a 20/10 guy on the team, but there were only 3 in the league this year: Duncan, Garnett, Boozer, with Amare missing by a hair. I’d be happy just getting 20/10 from the C position, which could happen if Bynum steps up.

    12) Some team is going to pay Barnes nicely because of his post-season performance, and it’s going to be a huge mistake: a) Barnes only works in a system like GS’s where stupid mistakes are fine as long as you hustle on the fast break. b) He simply was not this good all season long. Not only is this season an outlier from all previous seasons, but these playoffs are an aberration compared to the regular season. I enjoy watching what he’s doing now, but the Lakers (and 90% of the league) don’t need him at all. I do appreciate that you’re thinking outside the box though.


  20. chopperdave, you used the word outlier. Do we have another closet statistician in our midst?


  21. That Suns v. Spurs Game 3 has been pretty incredible.

    But I have to say the refs have been ATROCIOUS!

    It wasn’t just calls against the Suns or even the against the Spurs, it just seemed they called fouls when there were no fouls and didn’t blow the whistle on obvious fouls. Players were getting real frustrated. Took away from the great basketball.

    I really hope the refs clean up their act. The series is too good to be decided by the refs.

    God, Tim Duncan is just freaking amazing. Good sign for the Spurs is that Ginobli finally came to play. He is the X-Factor in this series, no doubt in my mind. He plays like he did in Game 3, the Spurs should win this thing.


  22. I don’t think players have any problem with playing along side Kobe. The only problem is whether the Laker FO has the money and guts to make some positive moves.


  23. OK, I’d settle for a consistant 18 &10 guy.


  24. “Jim Buss: Give us until May 22

    Jim Buss gave a great interview on AM 570 the other day. His message: I’m as frustrated as you guys, but hang tight until after the Lottery is done on May 22.

    “May 22 is a big date. A lot of teams will make trades after that date,” he said. “ Before that, to analyze what the Lakers are doing is premature … after that, yes, we should be making some decisions.

    “You just have to wait for certian dates to come. I’m impatient. I don’t know what to do with myself up until the times that teams are willing to make deals, but teams aren’t willing to make deals until they find out where they are going to draft.”

    Buss also tried to clear up a few issues.

    1. His relationship with Jerry West and whether his increasing power within the organization precipitated West’s departure: “There’s no way we had a problem of my authority increasing. … it had nothing to do it. …I can’t tell you how comfortable Jerry and I were working together.” He later added that, “If Jerry decides he wants to come back, I’m sure my father, myself and Mitch (Kupchak) would have to consider that.”

    2. Andrew Bynum’s status on the protected list: “I don’t know where the idea that Bynum was protected by me came from. When you’re talking about adding another all-star, another MVP of the league and I’m going protect bynum for that, there’s no way. …We’ll use an example of kevin garnett. If that’s a deal breaker (for Minnesota), then we did a great job of drafting him at 10, didn’t we.””



  25. Bynum is young. But he is the only guy on the team that I can see as this 20/10 guy. But, he is young. I think he can do this, but as a staff you are going to have to take some pressure off of him at the defensive end, which means you have to go out and find a defensively minded PF, and slide Lamar over to the 3. Who is this guy and how can we get him? I hope that Kupchack is trying.


  26. I agree that the Spurs and Suns are playing some high-quality basketball. At the Spurs have been accused of playing dirty. I always thought they were kind of soft myself, especially Duncan. 33 and 19 is some good production out of him, though.


  27. Sorry I was wrong earlier. Randolph and Bosh are also 20/10 guys (for some reason they don’t show up on ESPN’s leaderboard), and Gasol misses by a hair. So I suppose with KG/Gasol/Randolph out there it is fairly possible the Lakers pick up one, although with those last two, I’m not sure if they’d stay 20/10 guys once they’re on a team with Kobe.


  28. warren (philippines) May 13, 2007 at 9:30 pm

    My early trade scene was actually workable in the real world.

    Kwame, Bynum

    or improved to

    Gasol + Warrick
    Kwame, Bynum, Cook, #19


  29. Kwame and Bynum for Gasol? In my dreams. Add in Farmar/Ronny/Evans/Walton or a couple of picks and they MIGHT consider that deal. Unless the Grizzlies are really THAT in love with Bynum.


  30. ca-born, thanks for the Jim Buss update. He’s right that big moves will not happen until after the lottery and could well happen before the draft (if picks are part of it). And that’s good to hear about Bynum, I like the kid too but if he’s the key to getting something done….

    And. much like Buss said, discussion what Memphis would do prior to the lottery is useless, that is what determines their next move. Plus, I don’t think Bynum is a good fit for them.


  31. The Gasol thing is contingent on a quite a few things: a) will he reiterate his demands for a trade more forcefully? b) will they get Oden c) will someone else in the league put together a better package? d) the Jerry West scenario. If all those things break our way, a trade isn’t entirely unimaginable. One thing I’m curious about, I haven’t heard a lot about the terms on which West left town. If West were to come back to LA as a consultant, would having him in our corner make us better or worse trade partners from Memphis’ perspective? Any insight on here about what his relationship with the organization is like?


  32. hello everyone,

    just thought i’d throw in my ‘two cents’!

    it’s my belief that the 1 and 3 really should be the priority of this team.

    with that in mind, there should be an onus on defense first, and offense second.

    from what i’ve gathered over the past few years is that the most potent and utilized offensive threats are the swing man (the three), and now with the high volume of quality offensive point guards. The lakers should respond by choosing to suit up defensive minded, or at least above average defensive players for those two positions.

    which if done, will really put the lakers on the right path.

    this is why i thought the trade i proposed a few days ago would work well.

    you get a defensive minded point in charlie bell, and you upgrade your three or point with a world class defender in corey brewer. All the while, you upgrade your your C/PF position with a zaza puchulia, who in his own right is a “heady” defender. He can definitely crash the boards, and play solid man on man/ help defense.

    What ultimately that trade does is make the lakers a well rounded team, where potentially the defensive side of the ball will be shored up. And as all of you saw this past year, we struggled greatly on this end.

    Which is why to me smush and luke really made it hard for us to compete, despite what they may have brought on the offensive side. Oh, and i know luke is a good help defender, but really we need him to be a good one on one defender with all of the very good swing men in the league.

    On top of that, we would still have kwame as a trade asset, with his 9 million expiring contract! him, and another player could also possibly bring in a player to make us even more competitive.

    well this is where i’m coming from in regards to the future, and i’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s thoughts on the matter as well!


  33. KG’s has got to get more aggressive and ask Minny for a trade, specifically to the Lakers. Odom, Kwame, and draft pick for KG.

    Our starting lineup:


    This lineup will take a lot of pressure off of Bynum. People will be surprised at what Bynum will be able to do with KG around.


  34. Lets take in account the number of good role players available. Guys with the discipline, confidence, and skills like Fox, Horry, Fish, etc. had is hard to find these days. Those players were TRUE starters in the 3 peat days. Right now, all we have is a superstar, a what I call “advanced role player” (Lamar), and maybe another starter (Luke).

    In my dreams, we would trade Walton, 1st rounder+ for Tayshaun Prince. Of course, the Pistons would never do that.