Fast Break Thoughts

Kurt —  May 15, 2007

Thoughts while wondering what kind of hockey enforcer Robert Horry would have made….

• Yesterday was an example of why this time of year can get on my nerves (and is leading me to break my rule of not discussing random speculation in the blog). One Sacramento newspaper writer, idly speculating about where Ron Artest could possibly traded, throws the Lakers in the mix because the Lakers are looking to make a move this off-season. But have the Lakers and Kings actually had any discussions along these lines? Not by any report (and mainstream media types complain bloggers just sit around and make stuff up). A lack of talks didn’t stop the talk shows and message boards and all things Lakers from buzzing about Artest all day.

Ron Artest is a good defender, but not at the two key positions the Lakers need. He is not a point guard. And, trading him for Kwame (as the Sactown writer suggested) weakens the Laker interior defense, which was plenty weak this year already. So this makes the Lakers better? Plus, and correct me if I’m wrong, Artest brings a little baggage with him. His dependability is exactly what this team needs right now, what with the stellar focus they showed last season.

• Watching Vince Carter at the end of game four should be a reminder just why Kobe is a great closer.

Kobe puts himself in better positions to attack — Carter on the last play made a little swing move with the ball then started to drive right but when the defender went with him he turned his back to the basket, put himself in a tough position trying to back his man down and was caught off guard by a quick double (part of that impressive slip and fall move). Kobe finds a way to face-up, his moves to the basket are far more aggressive and because of that (and the respect for his move) he creates room for the pull-up jumper that Carter never had. He also has a plan for when the double comes (although, too often, because of his confidence, he still just shoots over the double).

• In case you missed it, the Seattle Supersonics and Sacramento Kings have been given permission to talk to Kurt Rambis about their head coaching spots. Previously the Indiana Pacers interviewed Brian Shaw for their head coaching vacancy.

• Great point by my two favorite ESPN writers yesterday — Henry Abbot and David Thorpe — comparing the 1980s Lakers and the current Suns, and their mental makeups.

Which are both excellent reasons for the Suns to especially remember Magic Johnson’s Lakers now. They may not have been the bullies of the league, but they were plenty physical in their way. (Consider the career of Kurt Rambis. Also, watch old video of Michael Cooper and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — I’m sure Bruce Bowen and Tim Duncan have done just that.) And more than anything, when Magic Johnson’s Lakers encountered extremely physical teams like the Celtics of Kevin McHale, Larry Bird, and Robert Parish, they didn’t let all that fire burn up their playbook. They were able to impose their fast-breaking style nonetheless. Even in that environment, the Lakers could often be in their element, and more often than not, Los Angeles ended up not whining at all, but smiling.

• Kevin at Clipperblog does one of his fantastic breakdowns of the final minutes of game four between the Spurs and Suns. A must read.

• I’d hate to see Amare or Diaw get suspended for game five. As Rob L. said in the comments, this is the problem with zero-tolerance policies, there is no wiggle room to do what is right.

• Good luck to Lamar Odom, who goes under the knife to repair his shoulder today.

• Last night looked good for my Cavs/Suns NBA finals prediction from October. Not that I really think it’s going to happen.

• I’m rooting for the Celtics to win the lottery. Seriously. I think it’s good for the league when they are good.

Kurt

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48 responses to Fast Break Thoughts

  1. i’d take artest for kwame, baggage and all. the only problem is that we would need to use kwame’s rediculous salary to get back the high priced players we have ranked above artest.

  2. Speaking of former Lakers, check out my derek fisher tribute at the fanhouse:

    http://www.aolsportsblog.com/2007/05/15/derek-fisher-the-professional/

  3. Nice piece, Jones. Fish is one of those guys I’ll follow ’til he retires. There will always be lots of love for him in LA. I especially enjoyed his play in OT for Game 2. Ah, the memories that brought back.

  4. I agree that the Artest-talk is idle speculation, I can’t imagine that the Kings like the idea of sending him to LA. But the idea that a a Kwame-for-Artest trade wouldn’t help the Lakers carries the same logic that resulted in trading Caron Butler for Kwame in the first place. Sometimes good trades aren’t about ‘fit’ but about upgrading the talent on your roster – loosing Kwame for Artest would be too much of an upgrade to pass on regardless of what position Artest played (ok, maybe it wouldn’t work if Artest played SG). How else are the Lakers going to turn Kwame into allstar talent.

    To be more realistic, I’d rather the Lakers keep Kwame and let his contract come off the books in 2008. In a perfect offseason, on a more realistic note, I’d like to see something like this:

    Radmonovic to SEA for Earl Watson
    re-sign Mihm and/or Chris Webber and keep Kwame
    re-sign Luke Walton
    draft for potential at #19; the best player available regardless of position

    Is that realisticly possible? It doesn’t really address the interior defense, but I’m not sure how the Lakers can do that.

  5. 4. If you look back, you’ll see I didn’t like the Kwame for Caron trade, I though the Lakers could have gotten more for Caron.

    And nobody is going to take Radmanovic off our hands after that last season. Which is fine by me, I think he bounces back next season and plays well.

  6. First of all, If the Lakers are going to negotiate with the Kings… shouldn’t we be asking for Bibby, not Artest? I thought we needed a PG, not another SF. Secondly, I thought the Kings backed out of the Bibby trade before because they didn’t want to improve our team. Why is that different now? Also, Artest is too much of a distraction. Okay he didn’t fight any fans in Sacramento but that doesn’t mean he’s good now. He still had the dog/domestic violence problems at home, he mentioned retiring to a teammate this season, and he once asked the Pacers for a couple months off during the season to promote an album. Do you guys really think he will behave in Los Angeles?

    I like the idea of trading Kwame for someone straight up because of his big salary, but Artest is not that guy. I feel that one big trade might not be enough. I think the Lakers need to make 2 trades this summer.

  7. I like Artest for Kwame straight up. He can play in the backcourt next to Kobe in a big lineup or they can move him or Kobe down to the 3 and have another guard start next to either one of them. Phil Jackson would be the first veteran/established coach he’d have in the NBA. If Jackson could handle the worm, he can handle Rodman…

    With that trade Lakers improve on defense and get another scorer in there. Only problem is that it pretty much kills a JO deal since without Kwame’s contract we would then have to trade Odom to Indy to get him. As well, I don’t think JO is that up for playing with Ron, Ron again…

  8. It also kills a lot of other potential deals for the Lakers including revisiting the Jason Kidd deal…

  9. I agree with Kurt, rooting for the Celtics to win the draft. I grew up pretending to beat them every day in my back yard, and you want to beat someone at their best, not kick em while Doc’s coaching them…., er while they’re down.

    Re: Laker trades: keep Odom. Forget KG. look for complementary hard-working role-playing pieces. Trade Bynum and anyone else with “upside” who isn’t producing. So tired of “upside” and “potential” in the NBA.

    Players like: Rajon Rondo or Ryan Gomez in Boston. Krstic in NJ (years ahead of Bynum, and NJ might do the trade). Frye or Balkman in NY. Andre Miller in Philly (my only stretch pick). Mo Pete in Toronto. Sweetney in Chicago. Pavlovic in Cleveland. Dale Davis in Detroit. Darrell Armstrong (if he has anything in the tank). Ruben Patterson or Earl Boykins in Milwaukee. Pachulia, Josh Smith, Salim Stoudamire in Atlanta. Brevin Knight or Sean May in Charlotte. Milicic or Arroyo in Orlando.

    western conference: Bob Sura (if healthy) Bonzi Wells (if sane) in Houston, Damon Stoudamire (if healthy) in Memphis, Najera and Blake in Denver. Watson, Ridnour, Swift in Seattle/OK. Barnes in Golden State. Cassell, Kaman, Singleton from the Clippers. Hart from Sacramento.

  10. I really wish there was some way to get rid of Radmonovic, it might not be the worst move in the Kupchack era but it bothers me more than any other; such a meaningless waste of money. Even if he ‘bounces back’ to his previous level, it still doesn’t make sense.

    I really don’t like the idea of getting Bibby or Kidd unless its for ’50 cents on the dollar.’ Neither character makes the Lakers contenders. Really, we should ask ourselves if even Garnett or O’Neal makes the Lakers contenders or just rivals with Utah and Houston (and maybe the Clippers) for 4th best team in the West. The best rationale (and my guess Jim Buss’ rationale) for trading Shaq was that the Lakers were two superstars + a terrible supporting cast with little felxibility and that was not enough to contention to warrent spending the kind of money Shaq was demanding. Trading for Garnett or ONeal, or even Kidd or Bibby only takes us back to square one.

    Look at Houston. They have a superstar on the perimiter and a superstar in the interior along with a experience coach with a winning record. Are they contenders? I think not – yet Laker fans seem to think that this same model will take the Lakers to the promised land.

    This might bring us the the question of how important is it that the Lakers build (another) championship team around Kobe. The guy has three rings and will be the 2nd best SG in NBA history when he retires (although Wade will be close on his heels by then). Will it really be such a travesty if he doesn’t win another? Even if he opts out, is that so bad? (consider that LeBron/Wade/Carmelo also have opt out clauses in 2009, im pretty sure)

    Just something to think about, I guess.

  11. Just read the news that the Kings and Nuggets have had serious dialogue regarding Ron Artest. Clearly, Kenyon Martin would have to be included in any such exchange package.”

  12. Suspensions Galore!

    It’s official. The NBA hates its fans.

  13. Kobe Bryant and the 19th pick for Hinrich, Gordon, Thomas. He wants out so keep it simple.

    Hinrich/Farmar
    Gordon/Evans/Vujacic
    Radmanovich/Cook
    Odom/Thomas
    Bynum/Brown

    That’s good rebuilding. You get your upgrades at multiple positions and can run a proper triangle. You get a youth movement that makes sense and is based around reasonable prospects who have already shown and you thrust Bynum into the spotlight now. You add a piece with the MLE. You let Walton walk and you still upgrade at two positions and your roster just makes more sense than the seeming shotgun of players the Lakers have now. That looks like a team that would be more than competitive and fun to watch.

    Would Chicago do it? I have to think they would:

    Duhon/Kobe/Deng/MLE or draft pick/Wallace. Their bench gets shallower, but again the roster just makes more sense. That team is now the favorite in the East.

    Both teams get better and have direction. But yeah, Artest.

  14. don’t respond to John R….It only encourages him.

  15. Roflcopter Jones. I don’t require encouragement. You also seemed to have failed to notice that I rarely respond to responses since most of them are mean and nasty.

    This isn’t 1st grade, man. You can ignore a bully into going away. Grow up. I mean, I don’t intend to be a bully, but it is what it is. Its kinda like envying the high school quarterback just because he entered the room. Its not my fault I don’t march in lock-step.

    The Lakers best chance is a proper rebuild and trading Kobe to upgrade multiple positions. Unpopular, but it is an eventuality next season anyway. Skip the waiting. Make the deal now when you can get good value out of Chicago. Don’t sleep.

    You can’t hide from the truth Jones.

    Does imploring others to avoid calm and open discussion fit within the commenting guidelines? Noone else is injecting any new ideas, why not respond to the one who is?

  16. Envy?

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

    Yes, trade Kobe away. He’s the problem.

  17. The validity of John R.’s proposal is a moot question. “Trade Kobe” resides somewhere this side of “Get KG”. Neither scenario is likely to happen. Albeit for radically different reasons.

  18. There is a greater chance of KG opting out than being traded to the Lakers. There are a few teams around the league that can offer a better package than the Lakers for him, namely the Suns if they lose this series to the Spurs.

  19. 12. About the suspensions — doesn’t Horry look smart now? I mean, Horry for Stoudemire is a huge win for the Spurs. You see this sometimes in hockey, where a goon tries to bait the other team’s star into doing something stupid to earn a suspension. In hockey, the star’s bodyguard challenges the goon to a fight. In basketbal…..

  20. 18. If you are suggesting Bill Simmon’s “Amare for KG” idea he pulled out of his ass, that is not going to happen. The Suns are heading for Luxury Tax hell but it is Marion that will get the boot, Amare is going nowhere.

  21. As a Rockets fan I hope the Lakers would be insane enough to trade for Artest. Aside from the “baggage” Kurt was kind enough to gloss over,has anybody watched him play for the past couple of yrs? For some reason Ron believes he’s a first option and as soon as he gets the ball it’s a wild 3pt shot or dribble,dribble,dribble bad shot or a bull-headed rush to basket that results in a wild shot or a charging call far too often. Get Artest and we might see Kobe and Ron literally fight for the ball. I think it likelier that Ray Allen demands a trade so he can play beside Kobe before the Lakers even think of trading for Artest.

    As to suspensions,5 players didn’t leave the bench,so there is no excuse. After the Nuggets/Knicks fiasco,I don’t want to hear any whining about how unfair it is for the League to follow it’s rules. No Rocket/Laker/NBA fan should ever forget Kermit Washington reacting instinctively and punching Rudy T-who was only rushing in to help break up a fight. Trying to keep chaos on the floor to a minimum so that something like that never happens again trumps any unfairness bs.

  22. “I’m rooting for the Celtics to win the lottery. Seriously. I think it’s good for the league when they are good.”

    I am good friends with a Celtic fan, he was surprised when I said the same thing, so of course I agree with your point about the lottery. As long as the dominance does not become numbing and repetitive, I think it helps all leagues when the “love ‘em or hate ‘em” teams (Lakers, Celtics, Cowboys, Raiders, Yankees–not sure who it is in hockey–Canadiens?) are in the mix. The Celtics have been down awhile and it would help the NBA from a marketing standpoint if they got back up. I want to see another Laker-Celtic final at SOME point.

  23. Fans complain about calls/suspensions. It will always be so. But at what point will continued controversies adversely affect the NBA? Last year’s Finals (right or wrong) caused a commotion. We’re not even at the Conference Finals this year and quite a stink has been stunk. What happens next post-season? Or even in this year’s Finals? Slice of Sheed anyone?

    Perhaps we, the fans, have simply become like the players we watch: We all whine after every call.

  24. Odom surgery successful

    Here’s the official word from the Lakers on Lamar Odom’s shoulder surgery:

    El SEGUNDO – Los Angeles Lakers forward Lamar Odom underwent successful surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder, it was announced today.

    The arthroscopic procedure, which lasted 40 minutes, was performed by Dr. Lewis Yocum at the Kerlan Jobe Surgery Center in Los Angeles. Odom will wear a sling for 10 days and then begin rehabilitation. He is expected to make a full recovery in time for the start of training camp in October.

  25. Doctors/teams always claim that surgery is “successful” in the press release following surgery.

    I have no reason to doubt that LO’s surgery wasn’t successful, and I sincerely hope it was, but the press release doesn’t mean squat.

  26. warren (philippines) May 15, 2007 at 11:54 pm

    In the light of the NBA getting better as a whole, I have a few ideas of trades that should push through to make the league, as a whole, more exciting:

    Phoenix trading Marion to Boston for Al Jefferson, Gerald Green and Theo Ratliff. or

    Phoenix trading Marion and Diaw plus the #4 pick for KG, Ricky Davis.

    Orlando signing Vince Carter. Re-signing Darko.

    Memphis trading Gasol to the Bulls for Hinrich, Gordon and Tyrus Thomas.

    Detroit sign-and-trade Chauncey Billups to Dallas for Terry, Stackhouse and the 2008 and 2009 1st round picks.

    Seattle sign-and-trade Rashard Lewis to Miami for Udonis Haslem, James Posey, Chris Quinn and #20 pick.

  27. I understand the letter of the law interpretation in the suspensions. However, the league must know that Horry knew what he was doing. Does the league want to send the signal that if you don’t have the goods to win fair and square that you should just use a scrub to bait the other team’s best players into a rule violation. At every step of the way, we are choosing the magician over the wizard.

  28. John R.:

    I guess you’re sure the Lakers should trade Kobe, just like you were sure that we had to use the midlevel in order to keep Walton. Still sure about that one? You really know your stuff John.

  29. All this talk about this trade or that trade or signing this person or that person… shouldn’t we be dealing with our #1 priority first and working our way down?

    Our #1 priority should be to RESIGN RONNY TURIAF. After Ronny is locked up, then we work with whats left.

  30. Jim Buss said last week on the radio that teams will not decide what kinds of trades they want to do until the draft order is released on, I believe May 22? He said that when teams see what spot they are in the draft, it will change a lot. Buss said that he is just as impatient to do something as we are but we have to wait until after the draft selection day.

    Kurt, what are the Wolves chances in the Lottery?? Do you think that if they do well with the ping pong balls then that might change their thoughts on rebuilding?

    And I was thinking about how people are saying that the Wolves probably dont want the ragtags we are offering for KG. I’d just like to mention that if Jerry West was still here, he would find out what the Wolves do want and make trades with other teams to acquire the pieces that the Wolves want. I don’t see Kupcake being bold like this… the guy is too conservative… he has no balls.

  31. And I find it funny how everybody thinks that its Rob Horry’s fault that Amare and Boris left the bench. Horry did his job. He fouled Nash in a way that he will remember next game. Thats what the playoffs are about, imposing your will on the other team. The Suns reacted by breaking the rules and its Horry’s fault because he “started it”.

    As Shaq said on TNT the other day, “ITS THE LAW. YOU DO THE CRIME, YOU DO THE TIME.”

    Just tired of hearing Suns fans bitching about the suspensions. Just shut your traps and go win game 5

  32. skigi,

    Mash is fast but he’s not a running back.

  33. 32 – I’m guessing you meant to say Nash not Mash.
    I am not saying that Horry doesn’t deserve to be suspended. He deserves a suspension for elbowing Raja Bell in the mouth. Not for the foul on Nash. All he did was give him a solid hip check. It was late in the game and a foul was necessary. Was the foul a little rough out of frustration, yes. Did the foul deserve to be a flagrant because of how Nash fell, yes. But a suspension, I don’t really think so, but thats my opinion.

    All I was trying to say is that when you have Nash or Barbosa getting layups all day, one way to slow it down is to foul him and make his hip hurt because he landed hard. Nothing dirty, just a hard playoff foul.

    Look at Barbosa, he ran layup lines on the Lakers in the first round and scored off the charts. Where has he been in the Spurs series? Nowhere to be found because Bowen Duncan Horry and those guys will not let him get an easy layup. Thats how you have to play the Suns. You have to take them out of what they are comfortable doing. Thats all Horry was doing. But the hit on Bell by Horry was totally unnecessary

  34. The Lakers are seeing now that the way to disrupt the Suns is to be physical with them. Just look at the Suns right now, they are getting beat up, getting pissed off. Bell looks like he is about to Kobe-clothesline someone any second now. Nash is all battered and bruised up (nose). Stoudemire thinks the Spurs are playing dirty. Barbosa has dissapeared.

    Thats how you beat the Suns. You don’t try to outscore them and you don’t try to slow them down by having Kwame “butterfingers” Brown with the ball in the low post. You beat them by getting under their skin and taking them out of their game.

  35. How about Fish last night? He played a great 4th (even got a mention at GSOM). I really enjoyed watching that series.

    And that Bulls game was pretty incredible too. Wonder if all the talk of needing to blow up the Bulls will cease. They have made strides every year. Without that second half meltdown in Game 3, they’d be up 3-2. Sure, they’re still probably losing this series. But even without a major move that team improves next season on experience alone. The question is can Detroit expect another season out of Webber/McDyess like this year?

  36. Anyone who talked about blowing up the Bulls was a fool. I’d love to be a Bulls fan right now with where this team is heading.

  37. It looks like the big trades Lakers will do this offseason is trading their assistance coaches : Cleamons, Shaw and Rambis for coaching positions :)

  38. 36 – You said it Kurt. All this talk of trading Ty Thomas, Gordon, Hinrich, and Deng for 1-2 players in return is silly. Those guys are all 25 and under!!!

    I WOULD trade Kobe for Hinrich, Deng, and Gordon! John R –this might be the first time i’ve agreed with you. Granted, the high school quarteback analogy you stated makes me laugh since all the high school QB’s i’ve seen got all fat and lazy. Gloating over a blog isn’t exactly the best defense of your points.

    But, being in Chicago (where i lived for 8 yrs before this year) was fun because you could see this team coming. They are getting better and better. They are one player away from being the class of the Eastern Conference.

    Maybe not this year though, but they play with all heart.

  39. Kurt if we add Artest how many wins do we get next year? provided that he stays out of trouble.

  40. If the Suns trade Marion and don’t get Durant, look for them to fall off big time. I think Marion means a lot more to the team than Amare at this point, seeing as how Amare made his reputation on destroying Duncan two years ago, but now can’t really do that anymore. Is it the Spurs who improved, or Amare who regressed? There really are a lot more options at PF than Amare out there for the Suns; there isn’t really anyone like Marion in the league.

    Either way, the Suns didn’t win then and they probably won’t win now.

    Anyway, here is a fun question I was pondering the other day with all of this talk about Artest at the 3 – I don’t even consider him to be in the top 3 in the league at this point. Honestly when we talk about that swingman position, you have a choice between one of the three following “swingmen” – Odom, Marion, Prince. Who do you pick and why? All are around the same age, the same height (Marion gives up 3 inches to Odom and 2 to Prince), and all play the same 3 spot, but can play the 4.

    In Odom you get the best offensive weapon by far out of the bunch. He can take the load and drop a lot of points, has the most refined post game out of the three, and generally makes good decisions. He tends to get lost on defense sometime however, albeit not being a liability, he isn’t a stopper either.

    With Prince you are getting probably the best defender at the 3 spot in the league. Very active on defense with long arms and quick feet, he rarely gets beat off the dribble and doesn’t have to be dirty to get his stops. His offensive game is odd – seems to be very clutch but also streaky, cannot be considered a definite closer but also plays on a team where he is the fifth option in the starting five. Does have a nice post game though for his size.

    In Marion you get the best all around package – he can do nearly everything defensively that Prince can and can do everything Odom can do on the offensive end except really post people up – he can’t post a 4 up, but can take 3’s down to the block. High energy.

    The biggest downside to both Odom and Marion is that they seem to disappear at times. Whether it is from Phil not calling Odom’s number to Marion clashing with Amare’s demands of the ball, their intensity and focus isn’t always there. You can’t say that about Prince.

  41. Got a comparison of Garnett and Duncan up at the house:

    http://www.aolsportsblog.com/2007/05/17/kevin-garnett-vs-tim-duncan-a-comparison-of-two-of-the-league/

    It’s relevant to the Lakers because if we were to try and secure Garnett he would need to change his game a bit to be more like Duncan in order for us to be the most successful…

    Although I think the odds of Garnett in a Laker unifom are very slim.

    Also have a post up about all of the guys around the league with opt out clauses over the next two seasons.
    Garnett, Billups, O’neal, Arenas, BDavis, VCarter, etc…

    http://www.aolsportsblog.com/2007/05/16/opt-out-clauses-could-initiate-movement-around-the-league/

  42. Nate, that is great stuff.

  43. Just heard that Kurt Rambis is interviewing for the Sacramento head coaching job. Wow, I hope that doesn’t happen. That would be awful.

  44. DR., I’ve been working on a coaching carousel post, but haven’t had time to finish it.

    Bottom line for me: If Rambis or Shaw get a job, good on them. But if one goes the Lakers have to do whatever it takes to keep the other. We need an heir apparent for Phil.

  45. good point Kurt-
    I kinda pictured Rambis as the heir apparent. He still might be if he doesn’t take another job. I think he might hold out on other teams to be in the Laker organization.

    If any of our assistants do get head coaching offers, great for them… go for it.

    In the case that one of them do leave, I would like to see Scottie Pippen become an assistant coach for Phil. His knowledge of the triangle is off the charts and he has the heart of a champion.

  46. I’ve heard that Gabe Pruitt is hiring an agent. Would he 1) be available at 19? 2) be a fit with the Lakers?

  47. I actually like the possibility of trading for Artest. Think about what Phil has done with Dennis Rodman. The problem with Artest is that other teams would try to utilize him as their #1 option and its too much pressure on him hes a solid #2 option and a very good #3 option but not a #1! If he comes to the Lakers he would the have the absolute easiest job hes ever had as a pro to come in and be the Lakers 3rd option giving them a lift on offense and locking down the other team’s best perimeter player. This will keep Kobe free and fresh on the offensive side. I like Artest only if he agrees to lose 35 pounds and reports to camp in tip top shape!

  48. ^^^2nd option if Lamar is still inconsistent.