Summer Progress Report

Kurt —  July 16, 2007

After the Shaq trade, I think most Lakers fans realized it was going to take three to four years to really rebuild this team around Kobe, and that was if everything was done right. Contenders are not made overnight (look at how Phoenix, San Antonio and Dallas were assembled).

How has it gone? Well, I’ve tried to block from my mind that first, Rudy T. coached year (but the barrage of threes still haunts my REM sleep). Phil Jackson returned in year two and gave the Lakers’ ship direction, progress was made. Then came last year, which was a step back (in part due to injuries).

After the season Kobe demanded that the team not just make up for that step back but rather make the big leap forward. Then he demanded the franchise do that or trade him (then just to trade him, which won’t happen this season). In my mind, in the original plan, year three of the Phil 2.0 era was to be the year the Lakers vaulted back to contention. And after two years we had a pretty good idea of what needed to be done to make the big step — I laid out my thoughts in four steps in the “Winning Now” post right after the season.

So, how are the Lakers doing on reaching those goals come mid July? (When things traditionally slow down.) Well, let’s break it down. (Note, the four items listed are out of order from the original post).

Improve the point guard position. First off, there is a certain amount of addition by subtraction here — Smash Parker will be a fine backup PG somewhere, but the Lakers should improve just by not having him as the starter night in and night out. At the end of the season my thoughts were to fill Smush’s shoes by making a big move, bringing in a quality PG that may be here for five years, and let Farmar be the backup. But I’ve come around to like what the Lakers did — draft Jarvis Crittenton and sign Derek Fisher for three years to bring some stability and leadership (likely off the bench) while two young talents find their footing in the NBA. It may be a bit of PG by committee this season, but this was a good long-term move. So, I consider this one done.

Don’t change horses in the middle of the stream. This one was really pretty easy and never really in doubt except by bored columnists. The Lakers have been building into a triangle team and losing to Phoenix did not mean the Lakers should change styles and try to emulate the run and gun. They haven’t. And this is good because we know the Triangle offense can win titles.

Defense first. Remember, the Lakers (despite all the injuries) scored 103.3 points per game last season, fifth best in the league. However, they have up 103.4. It was the lack of defense that held this team back. And will again if things don’t change.

That’s why I said every off-season move needed to be made with defense in mind. Fisher is not that — he can draw a charge and get a few steals, he’s a decent team defensive player, but he is not a solo stopper. He’s not solving the defensive issues. Having Farmar out top should help — he’s a better defender than Smush and will soak up some of Smush’s minutes — and Crittenton has the look of a good defender, we’ll see what he can do.

But for that trio to improve the Lakers perimeter defense, there needs to be a more threatening presence in the paint behind them than Kwame Brown.

Consistency in the paint. Nothing yet on this front. Next season is going to go down one of two ways for the Lakers front line, lets look at them.

• They make a big trade. This is the one thing that can vault the Lakers into contender status (as long as too much is not given up as to gut the team around the stars). If — and these are mighty, mighty big “ifs” — a Jermaine O’Neal or Kevin Garnett could be acquired at a reasonable price, the Lakers would have made the big move. (Other deals are possible, but those are the only two where we know there were talks.) The threat of either of those guys swatting Tony Parker’s lay-up into the third row would make our PG by committee defense instantly better. (To be fair, Parker has that pretty little running floater he likely would loft over KG’s outstretched arms, but I’m not going to think about that.) I think this is what most Lakers fans hope to see, and while the public chatter has died down I’d like to think Mitch Kupchak has not in trying to make a deal along these lines work.

• They come back with Kwame/Bynum/Mihm. This is not the end of the world, but it would mean more of last year. Kwame has had off-season surgery, so he should be healthy, and he’s in a contract year, so the locker-room joker should be motivated. Bynum has improved every year and reports are he’s been working with Laker coaches all summer. And some depth with Mihm is a plus (he could supplant Kwame if he returns to form). Basically, we can at least expect mild improvement here if they come back, and if that is the case and they stay healthy we get average play. And that likely means the Lakers land between 42-48 wins again.

The bottom line on where the Lakers stand — right now they are marginally better than last season, but then you could argue so is much of the Western Conference. Right now the Lakers have treaded water while setting themselves up to make a big splash. The question is, can Mitch find a way to take the plunge and make that splash.

Kurt

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145 responses to Summer Progress Report

  1. Kurt,

    In regards to most of the Western Conference being better, I agree. But then it should be noted that 45 wins in a tougher conference is going to be much “better” than 45 in a weaker conference. With many of the teams beating up on each other, it will be more difficult to get to 50, 55, or 60 wins. 45 wins might be good enough for a 6 seed, 48 for a 5 seed.

    I think injuries alone depleted us of at least 5 wins last year. That being said, before last season started I predicted us to win 48 and if the roster stays as it is now, I predict the same.

  2. Right now, I’m looking at the Minnesota roster and seeing a team that is built to win. Foye is a star in the making, Rashad McCants can finally realize his talent after coming off a major injury, Corey Brewer is an excellent defender and a great team player, and obviously Kevin Garnett is the centerpiece of the franchise.

    The only area where I can see they need improvement is at Center. Blount is old, Griffin is undersized and a problem off the court, and Mad Dog Madsen isn’t really the ideal player for the job.

    That is where the Lakers offer somethine valuable to the Wolves. They’ve got young Bynum. The problem is, there isn’t a place for Odom. He is an undersized PF. I suppose they could go with this:

    PG: Randy Foye/Marco Jaric
    SG: Rashad McCants/Corey Brewer
    SF: Ricky Buckets/Craig Smith
    PF: Lamar Odom/Juwan Howard
    C: Andy Bynum/Kwame Brown

    Not a bad team.

  3. Kurt,
    You are right on that the Lakers are only marginally better from last year. And I like your 2 paths approach for what is to come. I think that the bigger point is the one you make early “Contenders are not made overnight”. And the fact is that the Lakers have spun their wheels for the last 3 seasons w/ no real progress towards anything. Sure, we have Phil, but we are no closer to contending than we were when Phil came back for run #2. And now, even if Mitch does pull of something major (O’neal, KG), the team will have to grow together overtime in order to get to that contending level. I hope we do make more changes, but I fear that my want of change is just for change’s sake. What I really want is a really, really good team. One that can battle the SA’s and Phoenix’s and Dallas’. Do you think we can get there with either of those two paths?

  4. I agree with this analysis. The biggest problem for the Lakers was defense. I thin the Lakers defense will be greatly improved with a good post defender, like O’neal or KG.

    Indiana is interested in moving O’neal. Supposedly they were offering him to the Nets for Jefferson, Kristic and Collins, but the Nets were not interested.
    http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/basketball/nets/2007/07/16/2007-07-16_nets_passed_on_jermaine_deal.html
    I also read that Bird no such deal involving Jefferson for O’neal was offered. I do not know which one is true, but either case it seems the Lakers are the only team witha standing offer for JO.

    The problem is that they want to much in return. They want JO and Bynum (it can be argued that that is not too much), plus they wanted the Lakers to take on Murphy’s horrible contract. If they are set on moving O’neal, with the Nets not in the running, they might be willing to take less for O’neal. I’m not sure why they want Odom in the first place (Granger is very similar just shorter, maybe not as a good of a passer). If they are rebuilding then it makes more sense to take expiring contracts.

    If however, they will not drop from their asking price of Odom and Bynum, then the Lakers could try to get Foster in the deal as well. A trade of Odom, Bynum, Cook, Vujacic + 2008 1st round pick for JO and Foster. Not sure if Indiana would go for that, but if they really want to move O’neal they may become desperate. Foster would add depth to the front court. He is a great rebounder; he has the 5th highest rebounding rate in the league (20.2), the highest offensive rebounding rate (16.4) and he was ranked 3rd in OR/game (3.4) in just 23 min. He is not a great shot blocker, but he is a good post defender particularly in pick and roll situations (the Lakers Achilles tendon). He has been bothered by injuries for a lot of his career but I think he could be very effective if limited to about 20 min/game off the bench.

    LIke I stated earlier, I don’t know if Indiana would be interested in such a trade. It would depend on how badly they want to trade O’neal and get Odom and Bynum in return.

  5. Thought 1
    Kurt you do realize if the Lakers make the “big move” to get Garnett/JO it will violate your “Don’t change horses in the middle of the stream” idea.

    Either trade, even if we don’t overpay, will still gut at least 2 main pieces that we currently use.

    Don’t get me wrong I believe we need to make the Garnett trade if available, and if we can get JO without giving up both Bynum and Odom that is a worthy deal as well.

    Just pointing out that might set us back in terms of our offensive psychology. (which is worth it)

    ——————————–
    Thought 2

    As the team stands we have a bright future with Bynum, Farmar, Critt growing in out system, but the present is still dim and a first round exit still looms. That will not please Kobe and at that point the Bynum/Farmar/Critt development means nothing without Kobe there to play with them.

    Sadly that means we HAVE to make a move to please Kobe now, meaning we will HAVE to trade at least one of our prospects.

    (I hope that made sense)

  6. Renato Afonso July 16, 2007 at 2:20 pm

    Great analysis Kurt, as usual, but I don’t completely agree with you…

    If we traded for KG, I think we can all agree that the players we would have to trade away would not be easily replaced and we would be very thin upfront. We would be better in the regular season, but I don’t think we could win a series against the Spurs or the Jazz (why am I the only one to see them contend next year?)

    If we traded for JO, we wouldn’t be contending as well (although giving one less player). JO is not a winner nor has he enough instinct. And contrary to popular belief, his footwork isn’t good enough to be a menace when playing back to the basket. He likes that mid-range jumper, which is so important in the triangle for every other player but the one playing Center. One could argue that you could use the weakside option with Walton and JO, making a pick and roll all night long and allowing one of them to take the jumper after the pick… Yet, JO is still no option when playing on the strong side. I wouldn’t be thrilled with such trade as well.

    And to me, if we don’t have a chance of going to the Finals, then we better stay put, sign another veteran and don’t jeopardize the future (Bynum, Walton, Crit/Farmar, Kwame – I’m still a believer)

  7. Kurt,

    You said,

    “Smash Parker will be a fine backup PG somewhere. . . .”

    I’m supposing you mean the NBA?

    What do you know about the free agent signing opportunities for “Smash” since July 11 that I haven’t heard a peep about?

    One of the things that you don’t frequently highlight is “tradeability.” With Kwame at $9 mil and Lamar at $13.5 mil, one and probably both of them must be traded to make any significant deal. That’s very narrow to begin with. Unfortunately, primarily due to injuries, their trade value might never have been lower. It weighs down almost any trade scenario.

    Last year, our most tradeable asset in preseason was Chris Mihm before he went down. During the season, it was Lamar. Things are opening up.

    We are likely to have a healthy Chris Mihm again soon. As our other bigs get healthier, we will have more and more options.

    Meanwhile, our young or younger guys are attracting attention–especially Bynum, but also Turiaf, Farmar, and now Crittendon. Once the season gets underway, VladRad is likely to reestablish his value (remember, we had to compete to get him signed).

    I’ve suggested a way to get further get us out of the logjam immediately, by going after Pau Gasol.

    I’m not the only one. It’s being talked about by Memphis fans right now. Eric Pincus even wrote a very prescient column about it in May:

    http://solar-entertainment.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=3756&pid=90382&mode=threaded&start=

    Judging by Gasol’s desire to leave (who’d blame him?), previous negotiations, and recent free agent failures/successes, A Kwame/Bynum trade, possibly with embellishments, could be successful.

    Unlike deals for KG or JO that have no out, a deal for Gasol could break the Laker trade logjam and lead to more trades–or continue on the road to Garnett.

    Since Lamar overlaps with Pau, he could be traded for Artest and another veteran. That veteran might overlap with another Laker player, leading to another trade.

    Should KG or JO still be on the market after this or other deals, the Lakers might even be in a better positon with the new “pieces.”

    I’d be happy to have most of our former Laker team plus Pau Gasol and some veterans for next year–and still be under the salary cap!

  8. Mitch needs to hurry up. by now hes probably eating cracker jacks in his office and watching Wizard of Oz.

  9. 5. What I mean by changing horses is abandoning the triangle offense for some other style. Regardless of who the Lakers get they are not changing from the triangle in the near future.

    7. I haven’t heard anything, but some team is going to give him $1 mil or so a year to come off the bench, I have to think. He’d be a good fit some places, providing instant offense off the bench (he can shoot) and that has to be a draw. But I have no evidence of this, just my hunch. But the big names are starting to shake out in free agency, so the trickle down to the Smush’s of the world is just starting.

  10. From http://getgarnett.com/blog/?p=541

    Great news for those wishing to see Kevin Garnett in purple and gold, which is most of us. Make it happen, Mitch, Buss, or whoever.

    Boston Herald: There have been some quiet denials, but one source close to the situation insists the deal for Kevin Garnett was all set before agent Andy Miller said his client didn’t want to go to Boston.

    ‘‘I don’t know why Danny (Ainge) didn’t just pull the trigger anyway,’’ the source= said. ‘‘There’s no way Kevin would opt out of that contract and leave $24 million on the table. No way.’’

    There is also the belief among some in Minnesota that Celtics [team stats] ownership got cold feet when the initial fan reaction toward dealing Al Jefferson [stats] was so negative

  11. Gr8dunk,
    Isn’t that the same story that surfaced way back before the draft when KG killed the trade to Boston by saying he wouldn’t want to go there? What’s different now?
    I think the silence has caused some writers and bloggers to post old stories over again just so they have something to talk about… like when ESPN reported the “New Road Ahead” post by Kobe’s website as new when it had been up for like a month prior.

  12. We are now at the luxury tax level for next year. This is the only real problem with signing Chris Mihm. Pretty much ANY trade will leave us with a bigger luxury tax overload. This is because any team trading a superstar is going to want some salary relief back. The net result is that we are really in salary cap hell for the next year – regardless.

    Given that I do feel we have made progress over the last two years (Bynum, Turiaf, Farmar, Crittendon), I really have no choice but to agree with Renato.

    Our biggest problem is that we don’t have a dependable #2 scorer. This is known throughout the league, so it is another reason Lamar has less value (he is paid as a #2 scorer). Another reason not to trade him this summer.

    To wrap it all up, the injuries not only crippled us last year, but they handicap us in any trades this summer AND they forced more minutes on younger players that weren’t ready for them – Bynum and Turiaf. Include Walton in this group, as he is more subject to injury with excessive minutes.

    If we drafted well the last two years and we ‘hang tight’ this summer, I predict that we should see a major jump in performance for our three main young players (Bynum, Farmar, Turiaf). Crittendon has the triangle experience and body to progress faster in his rookie year.

    If Walton regains his shot and Farmar improves, we may have our 2nd scorer by committee.

    Yeah, these are a number of ifs, but they are not really stretches for any of the players involved. If we have to integrate any major scorer into the triangle, we will have to adjust and that will also take time.

  13. Sorry about my anon post. I temporarily lost my signature.

  14. 11. Yes, agree .. It is Old news.
    For getgarnett.com/blog folks they just want to get to hear the Trade talks between L.A. and Minny..

    The question Why hasn’t Garnett said anything about LA? He went out of his way to specifically say Phoenix. And a warm place isn’t exactly “I want to be in Laker uniform next year.”
    .. Just a thought?

  15. I did forget about Vlade. He actually was signed to be our #2 scorer. If Mitch was right about him, he may be our answer next year.

  16. 15,
    I agree, VadRad played so crappy this past year (when he was playing) that it was basically like we didn’t have him. If he plays the way we expected him to play when we signed him, I think it would kinda be like “adding” VladRad to our team. Does that make sense?

  17. Craig W.

    I do not think the Lakers problem last year was a lack of a consistent second scorer (its not that Odom is inconsistent its more that he makes mental mistakes in crunch situations). That did create problems at times, but the main problem was the Lakers inability to stop the other team from scoring. Kwame is not a bad position defender. He has gotten better the last two years, but he is not going to intimidate opposing players when the penetrate the lane. Odom also is not a bad defensive player. He is good at guarding versatile players like himself (Nowitzki for instance). But he is not the type of player that is going to change peoples shots when they drive the lane. I think that is what the Lakers were missing. I also think that just acquiring a good interior defender would increase the overall effectiveness of the Defense. Too bad Camby is not available for the Lakers have to offer.

  18. 15. Good point. Sometimes he just slips out of my mind (although I think he’s #3 behind Kobe and Odom in scoring pecking order).

  19. if KG is acquired in a big trade Kurt… whats your projected record going to be for LA?

  20. 19,
    I think that question would be kinda hard for Kurt (or anybody) to answer. The reason is that we would have to give up a lot of players for KG and we would not really be sure who would be coming here along with KG. Hard to know what our roster would look like after the trade to make an accurate assessment.

    Personally, I would guess that with a lineup centered around KG and Kobe, we could win at LEAST 50 games this season. Anything more would probably depend on how the roster fills out around them.

  21. We have has a running discussion since about the middle of last year about a #2 scorer. Lamar’s scoring is up and down and his play does go through cycles within any particular game. He has the skill to be a #2 scorer, but he doesn’t have the personality for it. For what he does he is incredibly valuable, but as a #2 scorer, no.

    We need someone who will get 10-17 pts each and every night, regardless.

    As far as defense is concerned, you are right about our needs there. I think the coaching staff has to be very exacting about expectations in this area. However, where our offense hurt us was when we were playing the under .500 teams. If our defense was lacking that particular night, we couldn’t consistently make it up. This habit pattern became a part of our team and we lost the ability to turn it up with the good teams – then we were really done for.

    Our consistency should improve with more experience for our younger players, but coaching must emphasize defense.

    Sorry about the wandering, but our problems are not of the simple variety – that’s why I doubt a big trade will cure everything.

  22. Kurt,

    Thanks for the “Don’t change horses in the middle of the stream” clarification.

    Craig W.

    Vlad can definitely be a scorer for us, but he has already been considerably “mind-f****d” from the past year. He hurt his hand, had trouble learning the triangle, had sporadic playing time, and to top it off he made a colossal mistake snowboarding.

    To me Space Cadet doesn’t seem strong enough mentally to recover from a year like that. Only chance I see him having is a clean start on another team.

    I really hope he does make it back though, because I really did think he could make a difference for us offensively and survive on defense.

  23. Kurt- Unfortunatley, because of the combonation of youth, injuries and hoop iq, our team chemistry disappeared last year. To gauge how much this team improves depends on so many factors (bynum’s progression, trades, injuries) that we may not know.

    On one hand the Lakers could come back and have a deep Center rotation, with skilled forwards, smart guards and the game’s best player. That would make this offseason great, because they let the team gel, added a vet pg and made the leap to elite team.

    On the other hand, the team could stumble early, be blown up at the ASB and the Lakers could be 1st round fodder for the top 3. That would make this offseason terrible, because we didn’t address glaring needs.

    I guess it all depends on perspective. What is for sure, is that the Laker FO is hoping for a lot of things to break right if they seriously hope to challenge anytime soon.

  24. I still don’t understand the logic behind fans worrying about luxury tax. The Buss family just raised our already ridiculous ticket prices and haven’t brought in quality players in 3 years, and we’re worried about them paying luxury tax???

    I don’t think I’ll be losing any sleep if Jerry Buss has to pay an extra few million in luxury tax to bring in Mihm.

    I’m not trying to be negative. I’m just telling it like it is.

  25. Carter,
    You may not be worried about the luxury tax, but you can be sure the Buss’ are. All the owners are paying attention to this little item – even New York. As GMs learn to deal with the CBA, this is a major worry.

    It does limit the moves management will make.

  26. Mike in the Mountain West July 16, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    15. I’m very skeptical of VRAd turning into a dependable 3rd option. I never really quite understood where everyone’s enthusiasm for him came from. In fact, I think signing vrad was one of Kupchak’s worst moves. By statistic and game style standards Vrad and Cook are very similiar players. By several statistical standards Cook actually beat vrad, although only marginally, the year preceding our signing of Vrad.

    Some 05 – 06 Stats

    PER: VR – 13.62 BC – 15.70
    FG%: VR – .417 BC – .511
    3pt FG% VR – .418 BC – .429

    I know stats aren’t everything but if it isn’t stats that justify paying Vrad 5 mill than what is it? What makes Vrad so much better than Cook?

  27. Brian P- I actually think Vlad can be successful next year. First of all he hopefully will be healthy. Second, he will (again hopefully) have a better grasp of the offensive sets, and where his open spaces will be.

    Last, and probably most importantly, I assume he will be playing like a man with something to prove. Something to prove to the city, the organization, his coaches, his teammates, and to himself. Nobody wants to be the joke of the leauge, and last year he was one of em. This year he can hopefully be a guy that is the first or 2nd guy of the bench and gets us 10-12 pts a game. That would be huge.

    BTW-our bench isnt too bad, assuming Fish and Bynum start.

    Brown
    Turiaf
    Vlad
    Evans
    Farmar

    with Cook, Sasha and Critt, maybe Mihm. Now if we could only get legitimate starters at every position…

  28. Mike in the Mountain West
    Vlade shows an interest in driving to the basket, rebounding some, and even defending.

  29. kwame a,

    27) I agree and have been saying it for awhile. We have a very solid bench. Unfortunately those guys compromise 60% of our starting line-up. Add one or two quality STARTERS and players like Walton are no longer our #3 but our #5,6 guy. It makes a HUGE difference.

  30. (25) – I’m not sure that comparing us to the Knicks is a valid comparison. They are paying $25 million more than us in salaries this year. We are currently 15th in the NBA in team payroll. We are supposedly a “big market” team, and we can certainly spend like one.

  31. Mike in the Mountain West July 16, 2007 at 5:05 pm

    20.

    Even if Kobe and KG are able to win 50 games no matter who we put beside them, which I’m skeptical of, those 50 wins won’t translate into playoff success. In a 7 game series the other team will be able to exploit our considerable weaknesses at the other positions. Although bringing KG to LA would be fun to watch I don’t think it in itself gets us any closer to a championship.

    I think better playoff success would come from getting JO without giving up Odom. A core of Kobe, JO, and Odom is much stronger, especially in the playoffs, then a core of just Kobe and KG.

    There are two problems to getting JO without giving up Odom. The first is Indiana’s williingness to stop demanding both Bynum and LO. The second is matching salaries.

    Now that the Nets deal seems to have fallen through the pressure is on Indiana if they want to move JO. And the pressure will only increase as time goes by and JO becomes unhappier and gets closer to opting out. I think Indiana would eventually be willing to accept a deal built around Kwames expiring contract, Bynum, Crittendon, and draft picks. The only problem with this kind of deal is matching the salaries. It can work if we also give them a couple of other players like Sasha and possibly Cook but we could only match JO’s salaries making it impossible for them to dump one of thier bad contracts on us. Something they seem very keen to do.This also creates another problem. We would be trading 4 or 5 players for one, forcing us to fill-out our roster with scrubs and forcing them to drop players they may not want to drop. In the end I think these problems will be too much to overcome. So it seems unlikely to me that JO or KG will be in LA any time soon. Which probably means Kobe won’t be here much longer either.

  32. Mike in the Mountain West July 16, 2007 at 5:45 pm

    Craig W.,

    Let me take your three points one by one.

    1.) “Vlade shows an interest in driving to the basket”
    That may be so, but that’s not why we got him and it’s not his strong suit, so I think it helps us only marginally. Plus, the only reason he drove more last year than he has historically was because he was afraid to take jumpers because his hand was injured. My guess is he takes it to the hoop less once his hand heals.

    2.)”Vlade shows an interest in rebounding some”
    Both Cook and Vlade are poor rebounders for thier size and position, mostly because both of them aren’t very athletic. That being said, both in terms of rebounds per minute and rebound rate (Rebound Rate is the percentage of missed shots that a player rebounds) Cook has consistently done better than Vrad. So if Vrad shows more interest it doesn’t seem to translate into producing more rebounds. If you’d like to see the actual numbers let me know and I’ll post them.

    3. “Vlade shows an interest in defending”
    Again, neither Vrad nor Cook are very good defenders. Their on court/off court defensive numbers are pretty similiar over the last few years and this last year Cook was slightly better (again, if you want the numbers just ask). So if vrad shows more interest it doesn’t translate into better defense.

    Plus, this will be Vrad’s 7th season which means he’s probably not going to make any giant leaps in skill or production at this point in his career. Unlike stocks, past performance almost always guarantees future results, especially over 7 seasons, and Vrad’s past performance doesn’t scream starter to me.

  33. Mike in the Mountain West,
    Ok, I take your points about Vlade. My take was from watching him in games last year and in his desire to actually contribute (see kwame a above). Cook has never shown more than a single tool ability.

    My real point was about the existing talent on the Lakers being largely with young, developing talent. Also, their being at the luxury tax level. These two things mean it is very, very difficult to get any vet in that can possibly contribute. Any trades would probably mean we are in worse shape salarywise.

  34. Kwame A.

    I believe most players after the year Vlad had would come back and produce like you say, but my gut tells me that Vlad isn’t mentally strong enough to make that comeback. He has had pouting issues with his European Teams and while he was with the Sonics. When he doesn’t get his way he usually rebels instead of steps up.

    Hopefully this time is different and he does come out with a vengeance and puts up 15/7/3. I really do believe he can be a quality player, but not as a Laker anymore.

    My gut telIs me that as a Laker he is a 8/3/1 kinda guy.

    I really do hope that I am wrong. I’ve become very pessimistic since Odom didn’t become Kobe’s Pippen.

  35. As far as being over the Luxury tax it does affect the Lakers long term plans. If they go to far above the luxury they will almost never get below the salary cap to make moves in the future. If they don’t go far over the luxury eventually a big contract will come off and provide flexibility.

    Spurs are the gold standard in terms of controlling their payroll and always providing flexibility. If Spurs FO compares to Havard University, Lakers FO compare to your nearest community college.

    I would have been so happy if WE brought in Sam Presti…

  36. Brian P.
    Odom has been teasing teams ever since the Clippers drafted him. He is what he is – a very talented, multi-tool player who just doesn’t have a killer instinct. Hey, isn’t that why we think KG would be the perfect fit here. He is the same type of player, except he is 7′ and plays nearer the basket. I would hope KG wouldn’t defer to Kobe the way LO does. That is the one positive point about Ron Artest – he won’t back down to anybody – not that I think he would work long term here.

  37. I still think where Mitch screwd up was in not trading for Kidd. Sure you give up your bigs. But come on, we would have an enviable starting 4 of 5. Kidd, Kobe, Luke, Odom. As a group in those positions, that 4 is maybe the best in the league. Our summer would then be just about finding a serviceable center, which seems a lot easier than what we have to deal with now

  38. It would be ‘easier’ to find a servicable center? There are teams out there that have been searching for a servicable center for the last 10 yrs.

  39. Mike in the Mountain West July 16, 2007 at 6:58 pm

    Craig W,

    I totally agree with you that a blockbuster trade is not the answer, even for KG, actually especially for KG. The combination of losing Odom, many of our role-players and our young talent, plus the catastrophic financial position we would be left in is just asking for long-term failure.

    The only exception to this is if we could get JO without losing Odom (see 31 above), but the chances of this seem pretty slim.

    Our best bet is acquire a player, like Ron Artest, for kwame’s expiring deal, one young talent, plus change and also hope that one or more of the young players blossoms into a legitimate starter. A starting five of

    Fisher
    Kobe
    Artest
    Odom
    and an Improved Bynum

    Could be good.

    The only problem is whether Kobe is willing to stay if that’s all we do. Personally, I think the most likely scenario is we don’t pull off any huge trade, and Kobe demands to be traded before the trading deadline. I have little faith he will be here past then.

  40. Actually I don’t really think the Lakers will trade Kobe – for anything.
    1) He is by far the biggest draw in the NBA (fills all the seats)
    2) He is the most versatile player in the NBA
    3) He is a cold-blooded assassin at the end of the game

    If Kobe leaves it will be in two years and we will get nothing for him. This will be his decision alone. We have two years to get a contending team built.

    Why would we do this?
    1) It would be financially better to have him for two years, than to trade him in 6mos-1yr and be saddled with the contracts we would have to take in.
    2) It would draw in more money if we kept him for the 2nd year.
    3) The fans would not be on the Lakers’ case for trading the only untradeable asset.
    4) We will have 2 full years to develop our good youngsters before Kobe can make any decision to leave. It is quite probable that he will opt to stay at that point because he will be closer to a title here than anywhere that could afford him elsewhere.

  41. 37.

    Trading Bynum for Kidd would have totally destroyed our contending chances. While Kobe, Kidd, LO, and Walton is no doubt strong, that is not a championship team without a serviceable center as you say. The only way to get such a center (which is incredibly hard to find, as teams that have them keep them) is by using Bynum as a trade chip or letting him become that center ourselves. After all, at a minimum most people expect AB to be just that, a very good to great center, though probably not HOF.

  42. Dr Ray seems to be sold on Pau Gasol now ;)

    There is no question that the problems arise from the defensive end. Aside from our PG woes, which is now somehow addressed to, interior defense is where we are most deficient. This is why a KG, JO or Pau trade is necessary. Just like Kurt said, a healthy Mihm and a stronger Bynum will still ONLY be a marginal increase in talent. Still not enough to contend in the burly West.

    Sometimes, offense is the best defense. You can ask Phoenix and Golden State on this one. I am not suggesting we do run-n-gun, but I’m saying we need to create easier baskets for our team to be effective enough defensively.

    For instance we play Phoenix. Farmar will have his hands full on Nash, Kobe will be chasing Barbosa all over the court, Walton will surely be eaten alive by Marion, Odom will hold of Diaw quite a bit and Kwame can keep on fouling Amare. Surely, on offense, you would require Odom to create mismatches and somehow pound the ball inside to “free up” an extra player. Please note that this is not Odom’s game. Should this be the gameplan, Odom will tire himself within 3 quarters. Or worse, he will relax on the 1st 3 and fre it up in the 4th – when its already too late.

    Whereas:
    Farmar will still have his hands full, Kobe will still chase Barbosa all over the court, Walton will still be eaten alive by Marion, Kwame will still endlessly foul Amare, but JO will own Diaw.

    On offense, JO can post up any Phoenix Sun effectively aside from Kurt Thomas who is now very slow, and provide instant offense. Kobe can play decoy running the picks and doing the mid post when the offense basically leads to JO finishing down low.

  43. Mik e in the Mtn
    Radmanovic had just come off a good series against the Suns and he was available. W/Fox,George and Rush gone the Lakers didn’t have a wing 3pt shooter(Walton hadn’t shown he had that shot )and Rad filled a perceived need and signing him away from the Clippers must have looked to Lakers like an added bonus. Understandable,and if team was a step or so away a good move,but w/a roster that had/has several holes,not the best option for a team that can only use the MLE to sign the free agents.

    W/a KG trade and a 50 win season,the Lakers are still looking at being on the road at Utah,San Antonio,Dallas or Phoenix. Hard to see them beating any of them.Esp since all 4 teams have excellent defensive 3s who can wear on Kobe.

    I don’t believe the Lamar experiment has worked and since he can’t be traded for another star w/out including other key Laker assets why not try trading him for a couple of players,a starter and a youth w/potential? On that note,it’s noteworthy that Atlanta has not seriously talked w/Josh Smith about an extension.Lamar for the Josh’s and Speedy Claxtons’ dead anchor contract as an example of what the Lakers should be aiming for.

  44. Warren,
    Thank you for your JO analysis. Very to the point. Very cogent.

    Now we have to wait for other trade options to fall through for Indiana before the come back to us to negotiate. Be patient and we may get a good deal for both clubs.

  45. Great stuff, I love this blog. What do you guys think of Turiaf developing into the type of defender we need on the inside? When he got significant playing time, Rony would hustle and rack up the blocks and boards. He’s no premier defender or absolute answer, but might more playing time for Rony help establish the type of D we need?

    (One more vote for Pau Gasol, though I still have faith in this lineup and would love to see how it develops).

  46. I’m going to post my thoughts on the summer league in a few long comments. I apologize for the length — feel free to skip ahead if you prefer.

  47. I convinced my wife to devote Saturday to NBA Summer League (no small feat), and have a few thoughts after seeing the final Lakers game against Detroit. My 18 month old daughter (all decked out in skimpy a Laker cheerleader outfit) accompanied me, so I was not able to sit directly behind the bench this time and overhear Rambis’ running stand up act. However, I did still track the game fairly closely.

    Preliminary Thoughts

    I think I witnessed enough of the Lakers schedule to have a pretty good feel for the makeup of the relevant players. I saw three of the five games from start to finish (games 1, 3, and 5), was present for the third and fifth games, and watched pieces of games 2 and 4. Admittedly, I missed most of the two games where Crittenton struggled, so my thoughts might be somewhat skewed as to him – hopefully others who saw those games can fill in anything I missed.

    I recognize that summer success is not a very reliable projector of real nba success. Too many players have been brilliant there and flamed out on the big stage (the “Tskitishvili rule,” after the infamous Nikoloz averaged 25.7 and 6 in the 2004 summer league, only to become the biggest bust of the decade). However, the league still serves its purpose. It allows you to identify players’ strengths and weaknesses, athleticism, and general feel for the game.

    To me, there are only four “relevant” players: Farmar, Crittenton, Karl, and Turner. The biggest need from the summer roster is a defensive big man, especially if we see a summer blockbuster that depletes our front line. Turner was the only big with any semblance of size and skill to justify a roster spot – the others were either too small or too raw (which is really saying something). The Lakers are set at the wings (Kobe, Evans, Walton, Radmanovic), and it does not look like any promising ones found their way onto the roster (probably for that reason). Karl is worth a look because we also may lose a point guard or two in a deal and he displayed flashes of real promise.

  48. Player Thoughts

    1. Nate Turner. If the Lakers look to the summer roster to bring in a cheap big body for insurance frontcourt depth, I think it has to be Turner. He is a legitimate 6’11” and built like a chiseled mountain. Huge upper body and fairly mobile. In both the Wednesday and Saturday games, the Lakers made big second half runs to storm behind from big deficits and capture the lead (though ultimately losing on Saturday). During both runs, Turner keyed the defense with aggressive (but relatively foul-free), pick and roll trapping, solid low post defense, strong board work, and a nose for loose balls. He is ok on offense, capable of catching and dunking or throwing up a decent righty jump hook. I see him as a poor man’s Ronnie Turiaf or Anderson Varejao – an active, physical backup center who brings energy and hustle. Though, I’m not sure there’s a place in the league for a poor man’s Ronnie Turiaf… I’d be shocked if we see him in Hawaii.

    2. Coby Karl. I’d also be very surprised if he makes the cut. As I noted in Thursday’s post, he is an interesting case because he does not have the requisite speed or ballhandling skills to be an effective point guard or the size of a shooting guard. Despite those limitations, he played very well in spurts, particularly in the early games, and displayed a coach’s son’s feel for the game. He has deep range with a quick release, rare passing instincts, a keen understanding of floor spacing in the triangle, and a relentless work ethic on defense. The Lakers strongest lineup consistently featured him, Farmar, and Crittenton, with Karl providing spacing on the perimeter and creative passing from the high post (including a crafty between the legs pass to a cutting guard from the free throw line). However, despite these virtues, I just see too many limitations that are unlikely to disappear. On offense, Karl is really only a stand still shooter. If a defender closes down on him and forces him to pick up the dribble, he does not have the speed to create real separation or the leaping ability to rise up and get off a high % jump shot. Instead, he is forced to pass the ball out to the reset the offense, or, at best, bull his way into the lane in the hopes of creating contact for free throws (which he did effectively a few times). On defense, Coby was just too slow and small to keep pace with the better guards (which does not bode well for success in the real nba). When matched against Martell Webster of Portland or Rodney Stuckey of Detroit, Karl consistently got beaten – badly – and forced his teammates to help, often leading to easy scores. So, despite his Walton-esque smarts and deep shooting range, I just don’t see him being able to fill a rotation spot with the team, given the glut of more talented guards already on the roster. I would not be surprised if someone else picks him up though. If nothing else, he has his Dad’s influence in his favor. Good old George, accompanied by a posse of spastic teenage boys, was sitting front and center on Saturday, expressing unrestrained passion for every little move from Coby.

    3. Jordan Farmar. He finished the summer with unimpressive stats: 11.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 2.6 turnovers, 35.6 fg’s, and 33.3 3fg. However, after watching him closely, I am not concerned. Farmar’s game is not tailored to summer league success. Roughly speaking, there are two types of basketball players: (1) stars, aggressors, those who drive the action and carry teams, and (2) role/dependent players, those who react to the situations created by stars and fill in the cracks. Farmar is a classic type 2 player. He is never going be a star or capable of carrying a team offensively; his success will be dependent on him feeding off of the stars. Though, I think he will ultimately become one of the better role players in the league, as he combines nice skills and athleticism with a real mental commitment to the game. Place him next to stars and intelligent teammates, and Farmar will thrive. However, when placed next to a mismash of raw summer league teammates, most of whom don’t understand the offense and aren’t concerned with doing anything other than shooting as soon as they get the ball, Farmar is going to struggle a little. We saw that throughout the summer league. Jordan spent a great deal of energy orchestrating traffic and trying to get his less experienced teammates into the right spots in the triangle. He also repeatedly had the burden of making something out of nothing when the offense broke down. Consequently, we saw a lot of pressured jump shots late in the clock and turnovers that really weren’t his fault.

    However, we also saw a lot of bright spots. Farmar was at his best when Crittenton joined him on the floor, for then he had a talented finisher to capitalize on his playmaking and deft management of the triangle. Jordan repeatedly broke down the defense with penetration off the weak side screen roll or triangle weave, culminating in him hitting a cutting or spotting up Crittenton for an easy basket. When Critt wasn’t around, Farmar instead tried to finish the play himself. But, he doesn’t have the strength to absorb contact in the paint and finish at the rim – leading to several unsuccessful floaters or fade away layups. On defense, Jordan was dedicated to keeping his man in front of him. Though, he often ran into problems fighting through screens or preventing determined penetration, because he simply does not have the great strength or size.

    I think Farmar’s principal shortcomings in summer play will largely be alleviated during the regular season when he is surrounded by more capable and schooled teammates. On offense, he will only be required to keep the ball moving quickly to the right attack points in the triangle, hit open jump shots, and occasionally penetrate and kick out. He can do these things very, very well. He will not have the burden of coaching his teammates into proper positioning or being the primary distributor. On defense, he will still struggle with bigger opposing guards, but will have better help defenders to cover on the screen roll. Overall, I think he showed good improvement and will be a valuable contributor next season. More than anything, he appears more confident and sure of himself. Maybe, too sure… Without me saying anything, my wife constantly remarked, “why does that guy keep arguing with the coaches and yelling at the players?” I doubt that attitude carries over when Phil resumes control and Kobe is around.

    4. Javaris Crittenton. I saved the best for last. I saw numerous games in person last week, and Crittenton has as much “wow” factor as anyone else I watched. He made fans buzz in the stands. Over the course of the week, my stance on him progressed from, “great trade bait pick,” to “maybe he’ll challenge Farmar for backup point guard minutes next year,” to “keep him at all costs, he is a star in the making.” To me, he’s a “type 1 player” – definite star potential. Crittenton finished the summer with impressive stats: 17 points, 3 assists, 1.6 turnovers, and 48.5% fg. All league first team. If you throw out that odd second game where he only played a handful of minutes and didn’t score, his stats are through the roof (21.3 points on 52.5% fg’s). Crittenton really doesn’t have any obvious holes in his game. He is the total package physically: tall, strong, quick, great balance, explosive leaper. He has a well rounded offensive game. He combines speed, strength, and a great handle to get to the paint in a variety of ways – isolated on the weak side, splitting the defenders in the screen and roll, lightning fast cut off the elbow weave, etc. Once in the paint, he (unlike Farmar) has the strength to bull through defenders and absorb contact to finish effectively right at the rim (though, he seems to overly favor going right and finishing with the right hand). On the perimeter, he has a consistent, soft spot up jumper out to the college three, but doesn’t seem to have consistent nba three point range. He also seems to lose accuracy when pulling up off the dribble, but the footwork and mechanics are there, suggesting he’ll quickly improve there. Javaris also showed controlled, but effective playmaking, setting up big men for high percentage layups and avoiding turnovers (though his college numbers suggest we should expect a high turnover rate for a while). He played brilliantly off the ball, consistently making smart cuts and finding openings in his wheelhouse on the perimeter when Farmar penetrated. On defense, I think Crittenton has the tools and focus to be a lock down defender. He is long, quick, and strong. He struggled a big in knowing when to come over the top of screens and when to switch, but he took well to Brian Shaw’s constant instruction on the issue.

    Now, I’m not suggesting Crittenton is ready to come in right away and start. I’m not even sure that he’ll be a valuable rotation player this year. But, the tools are there for him to eventually be a dominant point guard. And, sooner than I previously thought. If it comes down to trading Farmar or Crittenton in a deal, I now strongly prefer keeping Javaris. I think he’s really not that far behind Jordan in development and has a much, much higher ceiling. Mitch Kupchak attended the game with a few Laker front office members. Afterwards, Mitch raced down to the court and into the locker room, but the others strolled out to an elevator leading to the parking lot. Using my irresistible daughter as a deflective charm, I followed them into the elevator and tracked their conversation. They were gushing about Crittenton. One turned to the leader of the group, an older man (whose name I don’t know) and said, “nice pick on Crittenton.” He replied, “well, he wasn’t my pick, but boy is he good. They say with guards you need either speed or strength and he really has them both.” Then, more unrestrained praise. I almost asked what McHale and Bird thought about Crittenton, but chickened out…

  49. I do not think Pau Gasol is getting traded especially for Andrew Bynum. They just signed Darko Milicic and are not interested in Bynum. There line up looks quite nice
    PG Mike Conley/Kyle Lowry
    SG Mike Miller/ Tarrence Kinsey
    SF Rudy Gay/ Hakim Warrick
    PF Pau Gasol
    C Darko Milicic

    The only way I see the Lakers getting Pau is if they want to put Milicic at PF.

  50. Lakerfan (48),

    The Grizzlies lust for Bynum.

    Memphis still has no true centers. If the season started tomorrow, I have seen a projection of 6′ 9″ Stromile Swift as their center.

    Darko is best looked at as a younger Pau Gasol power forward backup–not a center.

    Darko Milicic was a power forward for Orlando, released when they signed Rashard Lewis (also a power forward).

    Before they signed Darko, Memphis tried to sign several other power forward types.

    With Darko as a backup, it would be easier to trade Gasol.

    Comments from Memphis Blog:

    If your team (very likely) chooses to rebuild, would you be ok with this trade?

    Bynum (Talent)
    Kwame (Cap Room)
    08 1st Round Pick
    08 2nd Round Pick

    for

    Gasol

    You save a lot of money and get Bynum and 2 picks in a great draft.

    REPLY:

    I would if I was them. Conley, Gay, Bynum, Laker pick, Memphis pick, FA from Kwame’s contract, could be dangerous in 2-3 years

    REPLY2:

    I think that the Griz should look into moving Pau Gasol for some young players as well. The guy is a solid #2 option but cannot be the main guy. He would be a perfect match to go with Odom and Bryant

    REPLY3:

    Yeah, I am very excited about Conley Jr. playing point for us for the next 10 years. However, it makes no sense to pick Conley Jr. IF we are keeping Pau Gasol. Conley and Kyle Lowery are at least two years away from making significant contributions, so why pay Pau Gasol $12 to $14 per year for the next two years KNOWING that we are rebuilding??? So, it makes perfect sense for us to move Pau now for the right peices (young talent, draft choices, and cap space). I would have liked to have made this deal with the Lakers prior to draft night because we could have used that No. 19 pick on someone we needed, and not another point guard. However, I would probably still trade with the Lakers for Bynum. I would send Pau and Stoudamire to the Lakers FOR Crittendon, Bynum, Radmonovich, Brown, and a 2008 First Round Pick. The only real peice that the Lakers would be giving up would be Bynum, who CAN NEVER suit up with Kobe again after Kobe’s outburst. This would once again give the Lakers a nice 1-2-3 punch, and they have some decent peices around these three players to make a run in the West (you never know what can happen in a seven game series).

  51. 43) Would you really trade LO for Smith and Claxton? (48) Darko is to soft to play the 5 the dude is a PF.

  52. Renato Afonso July 17, 2007 at 5:36 am

    Warren,

    your phoenix analysis is somewhat flawed. LO works against Marion (and he’s proved it over and over again) that he can dominate him at both ends.

    Regarding JO, does anyone know how many post up plays he finishes near the rim? Most of them are fade-away jumpers or that spin move to the end line. Fact is, whenever he posts up, he finishes off balance which is not a good thing to say about his footwork. No hook-shot, no footwork, no pump-fakes, just some flashy dunks and lots of mid-range jumpers. To me, that’s PF stuff not C stuff.

    Of course that having JO come in while not giving LO up would be great, but I don’t think we can pull that one off.

    Regarding Artest, well, you all know he’s insane right?

  53. reed,
    Thanks again for your summer league post. You give me some hope for expanding our talent base in 2007-8. Especially I enjoyed your addition of Turner to our possible list of training camp invitees. The fact that we may have at least one big worth a look means a lot to our FO summer trade flexibility.

    I only want to consider a major trade if it’s KG or JO – and the price is reasonable (i.e. apparently good for both teams). Outside of these two I want to see how our young players develop in the year ahead. We have two years before Kobe can opt-out. Let’s use them to make ourselves a contending team, not some western version of Atlanta.

  54. Somehow, my main post on the summer league didn’t go up — I’ll try to fix that and put it up this morning.

  55. (49)Tony B,
    Talent wise,Josh Smith is a shot-blocking,rebounding,hi-flyer that would improve the Lakers help defense immensely. Josh Childress is a glue guy who has excellent passing skills,plays D,also rebounds and runs-a very good complement to Kobe. Claxton is junk to make salaries and trade work. If the Lakers could get a young,athletic defensive PF and a creative passing wing for Odom that is more of what the Lakers should be looking to trade Odom for,as opposed to sending him and the other half-way decent bigs off for 1 player. My opinion.
    As to would I trade for Josh Smith-heck no. He has had too many run-ins w/players and fans,shown no real remorse and seems like the kind of spoiled a-hole who can ruin a team’s chemistry. But then I wouldn’t trade for Artest either,so…Now whether the Lakers might feel Phil could get to him or not I don’t know. I simply used the Josh’s as the easiest example of what Lakers should be trying to get for Lamar.
    If Lamar is to be traded,there is a major need for a create-for-others playmaker. Phil seems to prefer he is a wing as a penetrating PG leaves the team vulnerable to quick breakouts. There aren’t that many wings out there who are capable of running the Triangle. My opinion is a Childress or a Wright are candidates so any trade of Lamar should be accompied by an attempt to get one of them. The Chinese player the Lakers drafted looks like he may be able to do it-but not for a yr or two.

  56. Warren (42). I agree with your JO analysis. I think JO would be an upgrade over Odom, at least on the defensive end. A front court of JO and Kwame would not be too bad defensively (assuming Jackson can teach Kwame to defend the Pick and roll better). The Lakers might lose something on the offensive end by trading Odom for JO simply because JO is not a good passer.

    JO is not a typical post player, like Duncan, he is more of a face the basket and drive post player. But he does have some post moves ( a nice hook shot). He will not be able to post up players like Duncan, but he can diffinitely post up players like Gasol and Nowitzki. I also think pick and roll with Kobe and JO would be very effective (not a triangle play but there are times when the Lakers do not play the triangle).
    The problem is as of right now Indiana wants Odom and Bynum. I also think they want a future draft pick and one of our young PGs. I think that is overpaying. I also think they wanted the Lakers to take on Troy Murphy’s horrible contract. If you could do Odom and Bynum + 2008 pick for JO that is still slightly overpaying but not as bad. It is not overpaying because JO is not a very good player, it is overpaying because of all the questions surrounding JO. The main one being his track record of injuries. If the Lakers did that trade, thus jeopardizing the financial situation of the team for many years and JO got injured and could only play 50 games…. Well you can guess the likely outcome.

    If Indiana is really desperate to move JO and really want Odom and Bynum then they may be willing to put in another quality player in the trade. I think a trade of Bynum, Odom, Cook, and Sasha (he is a restricted FA so they withdraw a qualifying offer thus removing his salary from his payroll), + 2008 pick for JO and Foster is a good trade. Not so good for Indiana but if they are desperate they may go for it.

    I still do not know why Indiana wants Odom so badly anyways (it just does not make a lot of sense from a salary cap standpoint if you are rebuilding) so they may also take a trade that does not include him.

    I think the key is just being patient until something develops that is good for all teams involved.

  57. “JO is not a typical post player, like Duncan, he is more of a face the basket and drive post player.”

    Thats not very clear. I meant: ” Jo is not a typical post player like Duncan is. He is more of a face the basket and drive post player.”

  58. Mike in the Mountain West July 17, 2007 at 10:19 am

    Stephen,

    If Radmanovic filled a need then we could have filled that need by using Cook properly. Thier games are almost identical. Can someone explain to me why every lakers fan seems to be so down on Cook? Sure, he sometimes has a bad attitude but by every statistical measure I can find he produces.

  59. How does everyone feel taking the roster we have now (with Mihm re-sign) to training camp?

    There was such speculation about blockbuster-esque trades this offseason and it looks like it has died down.

    Just wanted to see how people feel about our team if we take this group of guys to Hawaii.

  60. Mike in the Mountain West,
    You have to watch the games, not just follow the statistics.

    Watching Cook in games he is only a shooter and seems to have little sense of where the game is. He will grab a rebound or two and occasionally block a shot, but there is no feel for pressure or time. That is why he is rarely in any game when things are critical. He gets his stats because Phil is careful with which situations he can be used.

    In the wrong situation Cook is a disaster on defense and not quick enough or strong enough to rebound or run.

    He is a very good shooter, but very one dimensional and doesn’t handle pressure well.

    Vlade does seem to put more effort into trying to fit into the offense and do a variety of things. He may not always succeed, but he is attempting to broaden his game. He should also be extremely motivated this year for obvious reasons.

  61. Drew Boy,
    I, for one, don’t have any problem going to training camp with the current team + Chris Mihm.
    1) I think we should see noticeable development of our young players. I am also curious to see how much JC’s experience in the triangle speeds his development.
    2) Our injured players will get a chance to show what they can do and this is good for 2 reasons: a) we get to see how the team performs without all the injuries and b) other teams get to see that the injuries didn’t permanently damage the players.

    If things are not going well I suspect all our players will have better trade value around the trade deadline – when Minny and Indiana may really want to trade KG and JO>

  62. My main observations from the summer league just got inserted as comment 48. They are . . . long. I’m interested to see what thoughts others have who saw a few games — especially in regards to Farmar and Crittenton.

  63. You are right. It all starts with DEFENSE. The Lakers can be contenders- here’s how:
    a) Kobe concentrates on DEFENSE as much as scoring.
    b) The Lakers make a move for Artest to make sure Kobe keeps playing D (or Artest will punch his lights out).
    c) The Lakers trade Kobe for some young bodies who will play D and run the offense
    It’s very simple: Kobe has played no solid defense since Harp, Fox, Horry and Shaq left (they kept on his ass to not cheat for steals and to cover his man- he still didn’t do it too much of the time)… so the Lakers have to make Kobe accountable in some way for the defensive liability he insists on being. The Lakers when they hold the opponent UNDER 100 are 4-0 the last two years in the playoffs… it is only when Kobe decides to go basket-for-basket that trouble sets in. The Lakers are closer than anyone thinks if they can make a choice of the above and get it to stick.

  64. Mountain Mike,
    I would imagine the problem w/giving Cook the minutes is that he’s a C/PF who doesn’t rebound,shot-block,defend like Phil wants out of those positions. Remember Phil typically has had PF’s who rebound and defend(Grant,Rodman)and doesn’t care too much about their offensive contributions.(Major reason Grant left Bulls to go to Orlando.) At the C,Phil,and esp Winter-Phil’s Triangle mentor-want a low post Center and that is not Cook’s game.
    Radmanovic as a SF/SG can be more easily hid on D,w/Kobe,Evans,Sasha or even Lamar guarding the other team’s scoring threat-and the wings are not expected to protect the lane and rebound like the bigs are. After losing to Suns 3 yrs ago,and 2 yrs ago watching Rad have a good series against them,he may have seemed a perfect fit.

  65. Craig W,

    I agree that JO, KG, or other All-Star players might be more available as the season progresses. All teams possess the “anything is possible” attitude this time of year. All “Ifs” questions don’t seem that far-fetched in the offseason.

    That being said, which All-Star do you see most likely to be moved during the season (other than Kobe)?

  66. Do you think Atlanta would go for a straight up trade of Brian Cook for Shelden Williams. We could even throw in a 2nd round pick or something similar.

    This would be a need for need trade. By my count, Atlanta has 7 bigs. They need shooters, we need hard nosed rebounders and defenders. Shelden Williams fits that mold for us.

    This makes the most sense to me if we wanted to make a small move to help this team.

  67. Standing pat is not good enough in the Western Conference. Right now, LA is a distant 7th in the West, and that’s assuming Portland, the Clips, Hornets, and Warriors can’t overtake them.

    The teams in front of them are simply much better. Denver is going to be much better with K-Mart, Von Wafer, and a non-suspended Carmelo Anthony paired up with AI all year. Houston just picked up Luis Scola — who will be the most productive rookie in the NBA next year. Utah made the Western Conference Finals — and that’s assuming Kobe even comes back, which is not guaranteed.

  68. Mike in the Mountain West July 17, 2007 at 11:58 am

    I hope I’m wrong but I just don’t have much faith in Vlade being much better than Cook. Ultimately I think both of them are one-dimensional shooters and, so far at least, Cook is the better shooter. There is nothing wrong with being a one-dimensional player either. Look at Jason Kapono. They can be an integral part of a team’s plan. I just don’t think they should be given the mid-level. Ever.

  69. Drew Boy,
    Not only do I have no idea who might be available in Feb, but I think it is counterproductive to talk about it. We really need to see what we have. With all the injuries and inexperience on our team last year we don’t really have a read on what anyone is capable of.

    This year there should be no ‘triangle learning curve’ excuses and, if we avoid some of the major injuries we had, we should know by January exactly what we have with this club. There is enough depth at each position that we should be able to trade for a perceived weakness without savaging another position.

    It is only at this time that we will be able to determine our needs and only our needs should dictate what we wish to trade for. Therefore, talking who at this time is really counterproductive – like Kobe calling out his teammates.

  70. Mike in the Mountain West July 17, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    Tisbee,

    That kind of explanation makes more sense to me. However, I don’t think you can call Vlade a SF/SG. I don’t see him ever playing shooting guard, here or anywhere else. He’s definitely a forward, and is listed on ESPN as a PF. Indeed, he played 14% of the Lakers PF minutes and 9% of our SF minutes. That being said you may be right about how he was intended to be used and why he fits that role better than Cook. I imagine he played more PF because of Odom’s absence due to injury.

    If your right than we should trade Cook because he doesn’t fit the plan. My guess is he’ll flourish somewhere else. There aren’t that many PF’s that can shoot the long ball as well as Cook which, put in the right system, could be a potent weapon.

  71. Been pleased by the chatter and level of debate. As a Pacer fan I think you all are a bit off on some of the JO analysis. JO is a great weak-side defender and an above average man to man defender. He’s a good rebounder, a dependable scorer, and a class act. He is the face of the Pacers for good reason.

    Jermaine’s problems are two fold.

    The first is how he has been utilized in Indiana which is not really his fault. Over the last three years he has been force feed the ball in the post–this is not his strength and is directly connected to most of your concerns. Being force feed down low contributed to his recent string of bumps and bruises. He’s just not a banger. He is an improving but not great post passer which tends to leave him shooting well defended shots and leads to his low shooting percentage. A lot of his shots came against the shot clock as well because of the Pacer’s plodding style. And too often the Pacer’s couldn’t put enough on the floor around him to give him the opportunity to go one on one.

    Second, though JO has a big heart and good intentions, he is just not the guy to carry a franchise. He doesn’t really want to carry that mantle. He was far more effective when playing on “Reggie’s Team.” In those years, even when he was the primary scorer, there was no pressure on him. Reggie took the big shots, was the face of the franchise, and was the undisputed leader.

    Having made these two points I think a trade to the Lakers would be phenomenol for JO’s career. He would be a star in a big market, but wouldn’t have to shoulder a franchise. He would be a secondary scorer and a key line of defense. JO’s strength’s could be exploited in an offense with more movement and he would benefit greatly by the defense focusing on Kobe. I think this trade makes JO and LA immediately better.

    That being said, I’m not sure I’d want to give up JO for Odom and Bynum. It doesn’t make us better unless Bynum becomes a dominant center in a couple of years. Not sure I want to give up my franchise player for a maybe. If I were you guys, I’d think about trying to pick up Tinsley for Bynum. That way you can keep Odom and exponentially upgrade your PG position. Pretty sure I wouldn’t do that one either, but Larry might. I’m starting to think Larry is crazy.

    (JO for Richard Jefferson, Kirstic, Jason Collins? Why would we want Jefferson who plays the same position as our future star Granger? Why would we want a decent shooting big who couldn’t defend his way out of a paper bag? Why would we want a banger big who is not better than Foster or Diogu? Larry is going to give me a heart attack.)

  72. 71- Tinsley for Bynum….

    We can tell you’re speaking as a Pacer fan. ;)

  73. jon, welcome to the board.

    also, propose Tinsley for Bynum again and you will never see the light of day.

  74. Renato Afonso July 17, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    71., yep, no way we would take Tinsley for Bynum. But you said it all regarding JO… And that’s why I don’t think he’s worth Lamar and Bynum. Sure he is an improvement over LO, but still not the piece we need to go over the top…

    And about Danny Granger, I wish he was a Laker. Maybe we should be talking about getting Granger with JO for LO+Bynum+Kwame+2008 pick. Do you think that Bird the GM (total respect for Bird the player) would take that?

    A starting lineup of Farmar(whoever), Kobe, Walton, Granger and JO would be ok in the west…

  75. ca-born (72),

    you’re right on the tinsley thing. bynum’s probably worth the wait. but even though i like the crittenton and fisher pick ups, the lakers would certainly benefit from a PG upgrade. Trying to wrangle Tinsley in any JO trade just makes sense for the lakers (though probably not for Indy.) Also, JO needs to play PF, so giving up Bynum is potentially counterproductive. Unfortunately for LA fans, I don’t see us giving up JO and not getting back Bynum.

  76. Thanks for welcoming me even though I’m a Pacer fan. Sorry, don’t think Granger or Foster (idea from 56) are going anywhere. But at least we’re all trying to get better. I hope our GM’s are working as hard. Just not convinced.

  77. Renato Afonso July 17, 2007 at 2:04 pm

    It could be worse… you could be a Clippers fan ;)

    Actually, besides the Lakers fans, Pacers and Jazz fans are the best of them all… Why? Well, they usually know a thing or two about basketball (this is stereotyping, but positive, so don’t be mad)

  78. Hi Jon (71),

    GREAT analysis. There is little doubt that the “right” trade (and we clearly don’t agree on what a “right” trade is) would benefit both the Lakers and Jermaine–but, as you explain, not necessarily in the way that we Lakers are expecting.

    One of the biggest reasons that the Lakers would trade Odom for “inside presence” is one of Jermaine’s problems as well: a resistance to posting up. It was Shaq’s posting up, after all, that freed up Kobe.

    Where Jermaine is a real “value add” for the Lakers is the defense you describe.

    Given that Pau Gasol LIKES to post up, we would get more of what we want from him on the offense–at a much lower cost–from a younger player with similar stats yet to reach his upside.

    Given that we wouldn’t get what we want on offense from Jermaine, is he really worth an extra $7 million and excessive Indiana baggage for his defense to us in L:akerdom?

  79. I think one thing a lot of people are forgetting that really limits our options…and the thing that prevents us from going into next season with the same lineup is the Kobe factor.

    If this team comes in with the same lineup, there is a slim chance of making the playoffs. The six teams ahead of us this year will be clearly better, and GS, the NOOCH (if they stay healthy), and the Clips all will probably be better than us. But besides that, another year of this team won’t work. We have a once in a generation player on our hands and having him languish on a 7 or 8 seed team is just a waste. It isn’t for Buss (puts the people in the seats) but if the team’s not championship caliber, than we should rebuild. And we shouldn’t be rebuilding with Kobe. Kobe Bryant is not good for the development of our young players. His Jordan-esque demanding style works with veterans, but I’m sure guys like Cook and Vujacic and Walton have had their development slowed by playing with Kobe. The times where he reverts solely to one-on-one can’t be good for these other guys.

    Therefore I feel like we HAVE to either trade for a star or trade Kobe. We need to take advantage of having this great talent and get a chip before he’s too old, or we need to rebuild withotu his burden. Think about it, by the end of this year, if we keep the same team, Kobe will storm the FO and take Buss hostage to force a trade….and our bargaining position will be worse. If we’re going to rebuild around Critt/Farmar/Odom/Walton, we need to jettison Kobe for the quality young guys of a Chicago for the future.

    Or, which I would recommend, we have to make that trade. I think an Odom/Kobe/Gasol team is the best option if we can’t get JO without givin up LO. But even with Gasol I still worry about our defense and whose playing center. We would, however, at LEAST be a top 4 team in the West (with the big 3) and have a chance. It think a JO/LO/Kobe team would be the best team in the league. LO could become the 13/10/10 player he wants to be, JO could score an easier 20 with 13 boards and play great D, and Kobe could be Kobe. We have to move one way or the other…stay the course benefits no one.

  80. Mike in the Mountain West July 17, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    Jon,

    Since you guys already have some nice young guys what would you think about a trade of Bynum, Crittendon, Kwame’s expiring contract, Vujacic’s expiring deal (although small), Cook, Radmanovic and our 2008 draft picks (1st, and 2nd) for JO and Tinsley?

    You would have a young core of Crittendon, Bynum, Granger, and Diogu. All players that compliment each other very well. Plus you’d get some cap room to bring in a vet and our picks for next year. We’d get to keep LO and have a core of Odom, JO, Kobe, with Walton and Tinsley filling out the starting line-up.

  81. Mike in the Mountain West,

    I like this idea more than you might think. I think it’s good for the Laker’s and good for my boys JO and Tins. But man do the Pacer’s have to take on a lot for the money to work out! I love most of it, but I’m only okay with, not enamored, by Cook. I don’t want Radmanovic or his contract. We already have a ton of guys that are decent but getting payed like they’re good for four and five more years. But I think, I general it’s not bad. I like the young core of Crittenton, Daniels, Grander, Diogu and Bynum, plus some cap relief and picks. But we get very young, very fast. That might be a hard sell in Indy right now. I’ll need to think about it a bit more before we start e-mailing Mitch and Larry, but not bad. (Sure you don’t want a bad contract from us?)

  82. 79 I mostly agree with your analysis–but you may underestimate the “chemistry” problems on offense–especially with a lineup that has two non posting power forwards (Odom and O’neal) and no true center. The triangle emphasizes a traditional true center (that’s one of the reasons that Phil wanted to coach a Shaq/Kobe Laker team in the first place). Even if one of them were a true center or could at least play the role, neither of them has mastered the triangle. That’s still one of Lamar’s problems.

  83. Ap,
    Tell me exactly why you think we need to trade Kobe???
    He will leave in 2yrs with no compensation???

    So What!!!

    If we just forget his trade demand and move forward with our rebuilding plan…
    1) Kobe plays all out because that is what he is.
    2) Our draft picks get more experienced. They were pretty good picks to start with.
    3) Kobe loses money if he opts out (like KG) – making an opt out less likely if…our team looks to be a competitor in 2 yrs.
    4) In the interim we fill all Staples Center seats and most of the road seats.
    5) Lastly, if he opts out we use his cap space.

  84. You have to understand that I love JO and don’t want to go into full blown rebuilding mode. Just like you guys, I’d love to take some spare parts and turn them into a star. (Murphy and Harrison for Garnett anyone?) It seems to work sometimes, like a friggin’ draft pick for Jason Richardson, but in general it doesn’t work out that way. I wouldn’t stop watching the Pacers if Larry pulled off a deal like the one Mike is pitching, but I’d say to myself, “We just coughed up our franchise player for some project’s.” I’d much whether wait for some sucker GM to give us a starting SG for a draft pick.

  85. Jon,
    We already have a bad contract from you in Tinsley. How about us keeping Rad and you keeping Tinsley — the contract costs and lengths are about equal.

  86. Craig W,

    I completely support your rational, patient strategy for the Lakers and feel that the team we are about to have (with Chris Mihm) may surprise people. However, we are also much better set up to trade.

    I think that the Lakers have already secretly decided on at least one trade. I can’t wait to find out what it is!

  87. There is something i’m not understanding, why is it that the lakers need a traditional post player, i.e. a center. If my memory serves me correctly, the best post player on phil jackson’s bulls was michael jordan. So why is it that everyone feels that kobe needs to have a players like this, when it is he who should be in a scoring position, in the post. ( at least 75% of the time. His guard play should be limited, as so he is not as easily defended, or as eager to takeover.)

    this question leads to more: 1. is kobe capable of fufliling the jordan legacy in the triangle, or is he really the pippen type player? 2. Are we sure kobe is not too myopic to lead a team to a title? As i’m not sure he’ll ever learn to let the flow of the game come to him, and take what is given instead of forcing what isn’t.

    does anyone have any answers, i surely don’t?

  88. Craig,

    Good point. I’d rather keep Tinsley anyway.

  89. You all are right. In two years your young guys are going to be good enough to convince Kobe to stick around. I’m not sure there is any reason to make a panic trade. Kobe’s prime is now, but he’ll still be awesome in a couple of years. Can you keep Phil that long?

  90. jon,

    who do you think could honestly help you guys vault to contention all of a sudden? no offense, I know its the East and all, but I just can’t see it. that GS trade totally killed your talent base and now your head coach is Jim “There’s a 2-pointer!?!?” O’Brien. the only trade you could make would further reduce your talent in other areas and wouldn’t seem to be enough to get past the Pistons OR the Bulls. wouldn’t it be easier to rebuild? I know you could say the same for us, but it’s not really fair to. as you have said, JO is not a #1 guy, but Kobe is. In fact, he’s the best in the game. as such, we are compelled to build a winner NOW, whereas I don’t really think the Pacers are anywhere near that.

  91. So no thoughts on the Brian Cook for Shelden Wiliams trade I proposed?

    I think it would make a huge difference with a little trade.

  92. Carter,

    I don’t think the Hawks have given up on Williams as we have on Cook.

  93. …straight up trade of Brian Cook for Shelden Williams!

    Salarywise this trade does not work due to Laker salary cap issues.

  94. 91,
    I think any Cook for (insert low post player here) trade would be acceptable right now

  95. Jon.

    As a Pacers fan maybe you can explain the interest in getting Lamar Odom in a trade for O’neal. If you are trading your franchise player (even if he is not a true franchise player), then that would mean the team is rebuilding. Then it makes much more sense from a cap standpoint to get young talent, draft picks and expiring contracts in return.

    To me it would make much more sense to do a trade built around Bynum, Brown expiring contract and a 2008 pick. (Obviously fillers would have to be thrown in to make salaries, probably crittenton for more talent as well.)

  96. drrayeye,
    Your comment about an existing understanding also piques my interest.

    There are only two players on the Lakers I really hope we don’t include (besides Kobe). They would be Bynum, because he is coming into his 3rd year and I really do expect to see improvement this year, and Crittenton, because I think he has star size/speed potential written all over him (he fits Phil’s needs so very well and has triangle experience). The good think about these two players (from a not wanting them traded standpoint) is that they are cheap and cannot bring salary equity without including another high priced player.

  97. 90,

    You’re right, of course, you guys have the best player in the game. And the best coach. If JO is going anywhere, for his sake, I hope it’s LA. It would be great for him and the Lakers as I have already detailed. You have to remember a couple of things, however. One, it is the summer when hope still springs eternal for every fan. Two, it is the East. LeBron is the King, but he has nobody on that team and he still got to the finals. Three, the Pacers have been a solid team for 12 years. It’s hard to accept that coming to an end. Indy loves its Colts, but its basketball country. The Pacers being relevant means something. I’m not real inclined to blow up the roster just for the sake of blowing it up. Nearly everyone on our team is under the age of 25, so there will be internal growth. We’re a starting shooting guard away from being competitive (maybe not a contender, but headed in the right direction.) It’s just a matter of getting that guard without giving away too much core talent. It is similar really to your troubles. You’re trying to get better without morgaging the future. Except that you guys play in the big leagues so it’s a little harder to make the jump from mediocre to legitimate. But you happen to have the best player in the game on hand so that’s a good start. If you really want to give up your young talent someone will always listen. But GM’s seem to be afraid to shake things up too much. I hope it works out for you guys with or with a JO trade. The Lakers being good is good for the league. Just don’t rain on my parade too hard. It’s the off-season.

  98. If we could choose to keep Odom or Bynum in a trade for JO… what would you guys do? I am interested to know if the majority of us would rather keep Odom or Bynum.

    Personally, I would like to keep Odom. I think if we trade Bynum, Kwame and Crit or Farmar for JO, we would be deadly with a lineup of
    Farmar or Crit / DFish
    Kobe / Evans
    Luke / Vlad
    Odom / Turiaf / Cook
    JO / Mihm

    I understand why some might want to trade Odom and keep Bynum based on his potential, but if we have JO and Bynum, wouldn’t they be playing the same position (low post)???

  99. ryan (95),

    Larry wants Odom so bad so it looks less like he’s blowing everything up. Odom is good enough to keep us afloat in the East as the Granger/Diogu/Bynum frontcourt matures. It makes sense really. Walsh kept us competitive for so many years, Bird doesn’t want to come in a be the guy that oversaw a 25 win team.

  100. I do not really prefer Pau Gasol. The Lakers need to become better on the defensive end. Thats why I think they should trade for JO but keep Odom. I know there are risks with a JO trade but the Lakers are going to have to roll the dice sometime. The risk is always going to be there but you have to be willing to take on that chance of failure in order to succeed.

  101. jon,

    sorry to sound negative, but I actually think rebuilding or ‘blowing it up’ is a positive thing for many teams. as the Lakers, that would be bad for now so long as Kobe is well Kobe. I think that rebuilding for the Pacers would be excellent though. with a Bynum, Diogu, Granger, Farmar core you’d have a huge edge against most teams in the conference after 2 seasons. it is definitely hard to pull the trigger but long term success is infinitely better than praying that a mishmash of young and old talent works it out.

    also, on a side note, who has more authority, Walsh or Larry (tradewise)? and who wants the deal more?

  102. skigi,
    If you read jon’s earlier post, he describes JO as a face-the-basket player who has been forced out of position by Indiana and has been more subject to injuries because of this. Given this, I don’t think Bynum and JO overlap. They would both board, but JO could range farther out to get his shots. This is one reason I do not want to give up Bynum in the JO trade.

  103. Great conversation going on here guys! I guess for me it all comes down to attitude. I don’t think Lamar, Kwami, Rad, Cook, Smush had the mentality to be winners. We need more guys that take the game as seriously as Kobe does. Fisher has this drive and I think this will be one of the biggest things he bring to the team and hopefully rub off on others. We all know kobe has the killer instinct, but I don’t think he is the type of player that will teach others to get there. Andrew is the key as we all know.. He doesn’t need to be a scorer but he needs to be a prescence on rebounds and defense. If he can become a valid NBA starter I think the team will follow suit and be a contender as well.

    Do I think they can beat the spurs with their current lineup? Not at all, but I do think they can get that middle position and end up playing houston or Utah and make it to the second round and from there who knows what would happen with a team full of guys who will finally feel like winners.

  104. skigi,
    JO’s not a banger. He’s a power forward. He’s best facing up in the low post, not posting. He also is comfortable with an elbow jumper. He’s most effective as a help defender, not as the primary defender on the other team’s best big. He wins with quickness, not muscle. If you trade for JO, you’ll need someone who can take the punishment down low to spare him.

    101,
    Great question about Walsh and Bird.
    Walsh brought Bird on slowly the last couple of years. Larry was allowed imput on everything of course, particularly the draft. Larry made a couple of overseas signings (Jasikevicius and Baston.) Donnie’s title has changed this year, something ridiculous like Executive of Program Operations. Anyway he’s kind of just staying around as an advisor/mentor. He still has the connections, but Larry’s working the phones this year. However, I believe that Walsh is still around for two main reasons. One, its his life. Two, he isn’t about to leave the team in its current state. Donnie Walsh’s fingerprints have been all over every trade the last two years. I believe that he is obsessed with the post-brawl makeover. If you didn’t see the connections from the Artest trade to the Golden State trade you weren’t paying attention. Walsh has a vision–he’s going to leave Larry with something, something that has potential and something that isn’t overshadowed by one of the ugliest events in sports history. That’s why I thought the Laker trade had legs. Walsh went and got two young talents that he believes will become something in Daniels and Diogu. Bynum I figured was the final piece. But I don’t know now. It could be something else or it could just be a matter of time. Walsh and Larry are a team. They consult each other, but ultimately its Bird’s call on personnel decisions. You can’t tell me that if Walsh insisted on something though Bird wouldn’t cave. And I think Walsh is hanging around for just that reason. There is a trade in the works.

  105. Mike in the Mountain West July 17, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    Jon,

    It’s pretty simple to subtract Vrad from our side and Tinsley from your side to make things work. However, what I like about the original trade for you guys is you get two big men (Cook and Radman) who are excellent three point shooters. I know alot of people are down on Cook but with his career .397 3PT shooting percentage (over 40% in the last two seasons) he would do great under O’Brien. Vujacic is also pretty good from long range. I like this for you guys because it gives you a ton of good young players spaced nicely in age. With that many good young guys your almost guaranteed that 2 or 3 of them will develop into all-stars and that seems like a pretty good formula for a Dynasty. Although It definitely puts you in rebuilding mode the upside is huge. Look at what your roster would look like.

    Diogu
    Bynum
    Crittendon
    Granger
    Daniels
    Williams
    Tinsley
    Murphy
    Dunleavy
    Cook
    Vujacic
    LA 2008 1st Round
    Indiana 2008 1st Round
    Foster

    That’s a pretty deep roster. I think it would be a ton of fun to watch a team like that develop and see who steps up. Plus it gives you a ton of assets for future trade possibilities and the cap room Kwame Brown will provide. In all honesty, I’m kind of through with Kobe and would be more excited if the Lakers went down a road like this one but the chances of that seem slim to none.

  106. you might be talking me into this Mike. You’re right. It looks pretty good. But never try to sway me with “he’d do great under O’Brien.” I will always love Carlise, but it was time for him to move on. Just not sure about O’Brien. Loved the “There’s a 2-pointer!?!” comment. I really wanted Ivaroni (sp? the guy Memphis got) so I’m in a wait and see with O’Brien. But Mike, if you’re interested in trading Kobe, I’m willing to listen.

  107. Mike in the Mountain West,
    My only problem is that you give up both Bynum and Crittenton – the key Lakers with the best start potential. I would rather wait and blow it up in February if no one steps up. I really think you are too quick on the trigger — considering that a lot of the problem last year was not with the talent, but with the injuries. We have been drafting well for our position and you know how I feel about building around Kobe.

  108. Craig,

    I think you’re right. You shouldn’t give up on both Crittenton and Bynum. I appreciate your wait and see attitude. But JO doesn’t move without Bynum. You think Bird and Walsh were in those trade talks for Odom?

  109. I think our problem is defense ,agreeing with you, but i think instead of getting garnett and trade bynum+odom+player we should get jermaine onneil and trade bynum+parker+player and keep odom which will save us money and an above average defense. Our point-guards are set and so our starting line up could look like Mihm, oneil, odom, kobe, and fisher. then one must be wondering how is odom gonna play SF ??3 years ago our line up was mihm, kwame, odom, kobe, and parker.Lamar is supposed to play SF/PF. But to have a good trade we need to trade bynum. Oneill can solve our duncan and nowitzki problem with an inside presence against Nash

  110. Mike in the Mountain West July 17, 2007 at 5:55 pm

    I actually agree with you craig that we are better than how we ended the season and that the inuries are ultimately what derailed us. On top of that, I think Walton’s injury had a bigger impact on our W/L record than any of the other injuries. Before Walton went down we were a scorching 27 – 16 on pace to win 51 games which would have tied us for the 6th best record in the league. After Walton went down we were a disgraceful 7 – 15. If we would have played the whole season at that pace would have won 26 games giving us the third worst record in the league. When Walton came back we went 8 – 9, not great but a dramatic improvement over when he was out. Now not all of that can be attributed to Walton. During some of that time Odom was out as well but clearly Walton is an integral part of what made our team work in the first half of the season. That’s why I’m not upset with the contract Walton got. That’s a long way of saying, I agree with you.

    We can’t trade Crittendon for another month anyway so I agree that we should wait until we see what these guys do on the court and we’re able to judge Kobe’s reaction to that. But I think this would be a good trade if things don’t work out. We actually might be able to substitute Crit for Farmar later into the season when Kwame’s contract becomes more valuable.

  111. Mike in the Mountain West July 17, 2007 at 5:57 pm

    By the way, what Pacers blog do you frequent Jon?

  112. Mike in the Mountain West July 17, 2007 at 6:11 pm

    Jon,

    You guys don’t have enough to get Kobe from us, in my opinion. I do like some of the deals I’ve seen tossed around involving chicago, however.

  113. What do you guys think about my comment:pro’s and cons’s??? #109

  114. kobef@n15,
    I am not sure who “bynum+parker+player” is included in this deal, beyond Bynum, but Indiana needs mucho salary to trade JO and resigning Parker to do the deal will not get anything done. If you mean Kwame, then more salary will be needed and Indiana is not enamored of Kwame – even for a year.

    Mike in the Mountain West,
    I totally agree with your Walton comments, but I do think we have to be careful with his minutes because his injury quotient goes way up when he is tired and he is not a quick healer. This means Vlade is going to get some solid minutes, if he is backing up Walton. I hope Phil’s substitution pattern calls for Walton to come out somewhat early and go back in for more short stretches, instead of playing Lamar type minutes.

  115. Mike in the Moutain West-

    I don’t frequent any sites outside of insidehoops and espn. Never been in a forum of this type. Usually I just force my buddies to listen to my ramblings over a couple of pints. Stumbled onto the JO conversations through Truehoops via espn’s site. Have really enjoyed myself. Appreciate the level of fan passion/knowledge. I live in North Carloina and here its college hoops or nothing. After I moved here I went to a bar and asked if they would put the Bobcats game on. They were all confused and wondered why I cared until I told them I was from Indiana and they were playing the Pacers. Tough to get high level debate around here.

    Kobef@n15,

    Nobody’s taking Parker. He’s got a great nickname, but that’s about it. Smush is not a tradeable piece. Sorry. Bynum+Brown’s cap relief+picks+player is where to start. For Indy or anyone.

  116. 48) Sorry for taking so long to respond Reed, but thanks so much for your thoughts. I wish I had had a chance to watch the Summer League more closely, so your take is very appreciated. Your analysis on Critt, along with a couple other things, finally has me slowly coming around (are we giving Lakerfan too much ammo conceding this soon?)

    First it was Hoopsanalyst’s breakdown of rookies in the draft which I hadn’t seen until Truehoop linked it:
    http://www.hoopsanalyst.com/0607ew15.htm
    As you can see, his numbers are right there with what All-Star PG’s averaged their Freshman year, only slightly behind Conley mostly because of FG% (which might have had something to do with the Original Gangsta down low). The split between how he performed against small schools and large schools is a little worrisome (and part of the reason why I was never overly impressed: I had only seen the latter), but the overall picture seems hopeful.

    Second was Yahoo’s summer league recap:
    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news?slug=ys-summerleague071607&prov=yhoo&type=lgns
    which went so far as to say he has more upside than even Conley (who some put his ceiling as Chis Paul). That kind of bold statement demands notice.

    To top it all off is your rousing endorsement with phrases like “star in the making” and “eventually be a dominant point guard.” I’m not completely convinced we shouldn’t cash in while his stock is high (I think most GMs value upside entirely too much) but for the first time I think I’d be slightly worried to see him traded.

  117. What a great blog and conversation.

    Many forget exactly the point Craig and Mike in Mtn West have made- the Lakers were on course for a great year until the injury bug. Second, Odom was on the verge of being an All-Star, Luke was going to be come back player of the year. As such, I think with an additional year of development for Bynum, Farmer, and hopefully a real Vlade showing up, staying with what we have plus Fisher and Crittenton is a solid option and a good Plan B that I would be satisfied with as a fan.

    Nevertheless, I think the Plan A option should be seeking a trade for JO or Pau (not Garnett) if and only if Odom stays a Laker. As the hosts of the blog cohertently demonstrated in the post the other day about how to build a champion, the quality of your role players are just as important as your star power. Further, as I see it, a trade for JO or Pau with Odom staying a Laker is the best option solidifying both the role player aspect and the star power. Here is the result:

    1. Star power. Can’t get a bigger star than Kobe with his clutch scoring, excitement, mismatch, and sheer skill give the Lakers a leg up in this category. The only weakness currently is a consistent second star, which is a must despite Kobe’s prowess. Obviously, this would be filled with JO, Pau or Garnett.

    2. Solid role players. Imagine Odom as a third option on the Lakers. Last year, he arguably was on his way to fulfilling the second star until his injuries. But, an Odom anchoring the role players- he would be very effective. Luke adding smarts, quality passing, and timely shooting. Mo Evans adding good one on one perimeter defense and offensive energy. Turiaf adding his grit, energy and overall motiviation. Fisher adding experience and leadership. Vlade adding anything. Mihm a serviceable back up to JO or Pau. This would be a solid crew of role players that I think would compare favorably with any set of key role players in the league. This solid crew can only be achievable with a JO or Pau trade. Garnett would signficantly deplete this crew.

    3. It would likely leave either Farmer or Crittenton the opportunity to develop into a possible All star down the road. Although one would likely have signficant PT because Fisher would be the only legit PG.

    Shortcomings:
    1. We would lose considerable long term talent with Bynum and Farmer or Crittenton.
    2. We would be thin at PG.
    3. We lose expiring contract and quality low post defense with Kwame, although some of the defensive loss is mitigated by JO and Pau to a lesser extent.

    This simple cost/benefit review points toward a definite added value for trading Bynum/Kwame/Farmer or Crittenton and filler (sasha or cook) if necessary for JO or Pau as the most beneficial trade option.

  118. No team with Kobe Bryant as the center piece will ever be a championship team unless you are talking about the Harlem Globetrotters.

  119. jon,

    funny, because I’m in the Bay Area and I know a rabid Bobcats fan. Maybe they all migrated?

  120. Crittenton is so much better than Farmer!

  121. Oops, forgot the signature tag: 116 was from me.

  122. To start my comment, I feel the necessity to congratulate Jon for being here. A person having a bright perspective from another standpoint like you is welcome here. I logged on here last night and there were about 50 posts, now, I cannot even start typing as I feel the need to read about 60 more.

    The JO analysis is great coming from both sides. I think there has been extensive discussions regarding JO and I particularly enjoy this one.

    I also feel the need to state that my summer priority would be JO, then Pau, then KG if all else fail. I also think that JO is the ONLY real trade available at the moment.

    Having read the comments from Jon has made me realize something – that Indy does not really like an un-happy Odom if they cannot include Bynum in the deal. Therefore, it would be pointless to suggest that Indy will take Odom and Fillers WITHOUT the inclusion of Bynum. This will be the whole point of the exercise. Should they choose to rebuild, Bynum is the single greatest requirement that the Lakers have and can offer.

    From a rebuilding point of view, the inclusion of Odom partially stalls the process. They would much rather have Kwame’s expiring to aid the ailing payroll they have emanating from the Golden State trade last January. Between Crittenton and Farmar, Indy would almost certainly prefer Critt as he has the higher ceiling and now upon seeing him being an all-star in the Summer Leagues (not that it translates to the NBA much).

    Therefore, with relations to both teams’ needs:
    1) LA does not like to trade ODOM and BYNUM for JO; while Indy does not really NEED Odom esp if he seeks a 3-yr extension. Criteria 1 – MET.
    2) Indy rebuilds and therefore no long term contracts are acceptable; the Lakers will now need Vlad’s shooting now that a post player is available. Criteria 2 – MET.
    3) The Lakers want to acquire JO without losing Odom. This will give us a 3-headed monster attack while Odom is relegated as the 3rd option. Criteria 3 – MET.
    4) Both teams will need the salaries to match, therefore additional fillers will have to be included. Sasha’s expiring is expendable, McKie can still be signed-and-traded with only the 1st year salary as guaranteed. Criteria 4 – MET.

    Realizing these 4 criteria, it leads me to believe that a JO deal can be possible without including Odom. The problem would now have to be:
    a) If Indy insists on a bad contract
    b) Luxury tax territory
    c) Frontcourt depth
    d) loss of 2 years of above-average picks (Bynum, Critt)

    I say the positives still outweigh the negatives. This is one team that Kobe will surely be satisfied. It may not win it all this year, but next year will definitely be in the sights.

    Please note that Lamar and Luke will still be 28, Kobe and JO will then still be 29. Consider the possibilities…

  123. I just hope the Lakers dont have to trade J-Critt because he is going to be a star like I all told you before. Waaaay before Reed said anything. When he was drafted I told yall. Come on I need my props

  124. I’ve never denied that Critt has the higher ceiling in the Javaris-Jordan debate. No one ever has to my knowledge. My concern has always been that while Javaris appeared to be three or four years off, I’d feel pretty comfortable with Farmar handling starter duties right now. Reed’s analysis (and the other things I linked) now has me starting to question that timetable and just how high his ceiling should be raised.

    That said, I’m still not completely convinced just yet. Until he proves himself against top-flight competition I’ll worry that he doesn’t have the mental instincts necessary to be successful at this level. Luckily for him, he’s got plenty of time to mature to the point where we can forget all about the chokejob from his UNLV game.

  125. Here is my problem with a O’neal trade that sent Kwame and Bynum to Indiana. The Lakers would be sending their only two centers to Indiana for a PF. O’neal is a great weak side defender. He is one of the best in coming from the weak side to bblock/alter shots. But he is not going to “body up” the stronger players in the league (Duncan, Yao). By having a front court of Odom and O’neal there is really no one that can play man on defense with the stronger PF/C in the league. The other problem is that O’neal is not a Center. I think he would rather play PF than Center. If the lakers resigned Mihm and and convinced PJ Brown or Chris Webber to play in LA for the vet min, they could then move Odom to the SF position and O’neal could play PF.

    I still think a front court of O’neal and Brown would be good defensively (much better than Odom and O’neal). Brown is big/strong enough to “body-up” the stronger players and O’neal coming to over to help would be pretty effective. The problem here is that I think the Lakers would be losing a lot offensively because O’neal is not a good passer.

    I don’t know if either move would be enough to get past the spurs.

  126. The triangle requires a true back to the basket center who acts as a distributor and/or posts up–a la Shaq. That has been a problem for the Lakers. Kwame Brown, who played the most minutes last year, is a converted power forward who has trouble fully understanding that role on offense. Rony Turiaf IS a power forward. Only Andrew Bynum is a true center–but he is still years away from fully mastering the position in the triangle.

    The only other Laker who IS a true center is Chris Mihm–who was injured all of last year. Once he is signed, the Lakers would at least have one true center and a backup (Bynum).

    I’m not sure why some of us have decided to focus on acquiring a power forward superstar, trade away our centers and various other players (including Farmar–our starting PG from last year) to make a PF trade work, and insist that we keep our current power forward star–Lamar Odom.

    I don’t remember KG ever playing center. Jermaine O’Neal is a face the basket guy, and Pau Gasol prefers the power forward wing. Lamar Odom has rarely played center for the Lakers and doesn’t like to post up.

    Though there is no doubt that any of the three superstars plus Odom would give us the best PF tandem in the history of basketball, it might not do a Laker team much good.

    We’d spend half of our cap space to have one superstar PF watch another superstar PF from the bench, or have them play together, with the “new guy,” who’s never played the triangle, playing out of position, back to the basket at center?

  127. I keep seeing people saying that our problem is a lack of a #2 scorer…we were FIFTH IN THE LEAGUE IN SCORING last season.

    Scoring is not our problem. Our problem is that besides LO and Kobe, we don’t have anyone on our team that plays anything approaching solid defense.

    Kwame can play pretty well in a one-on-one situation in the paint, but is too slow to react to cutters in the lane.

    Bynum is a defensive liability of epic proportions. Walton makes Bynum look like Olajuwan in terms of defense. Last year we had Smush collecting tickets for admission to the paint at the top of the key, and the tickets were free.

    I agree that Fisher/Farmar/Critter will improve our top-of-the-key defense, although it still won’t be anything to brag about…but our weakness at the 3 is still glaring. We either need to be able to plug a new piece in at the 3 spot or move LO to the 3 and plug a new piece in at the 4.

    MR

  128. drray (125). That is what I am thinking. The Lakers do not have a post player. However, the bulls managed to play the triangle with Jordan in the post. The problem with moving Kobe to the post is that he is not as good of a post player as Jordan was.

    I am not sold on a front court of O’neal (C) and Lamar (PF) as being the answer. That would basically be playing two people out of position. And the Lakers would still be lacking a true post player. IF you could somehow get a player to play Center, PJ Brown or Webber (neither one is a true center but at could work as serviceable centers), sharing minutes with a resigned Mihm at center. That would allow the Lakers to move Lamar to the #3 spot and play on the wing with Kobe and JO to play at the PF position where he is more comfortable. Not sure if that works but it is an idea (I’m also not sure that its possible for the Lakers to sign either of those players).

    The other option would keeping Brown to share Center minutes with a resigned Mihm and having O’neal play PF. As I stated earlier, I think that is better defensively but the Lakers would be losing something offensively, because O’neal is not a good passer.

    Again I am not sure that either trade is the answer. Both leave many questions. I am just glad that it would not be up to me to figure out how to make it work if either trade occurred.

    MR (126) I also agree that the Lakers problem was Defense. I think that bringing in a good low post defender such as Garnett or O’neal, would greatly improve the defense. Having a player under the basket who can pick up penetration without fouling would cover some of the whole the Lakers have on the exterior.
    I disagree about Walton though. I do not think he is as bad a defender as you make out. He is not athletic enough to guard some of the more athletic SF in the league (Mello and James for example) one on one. But he does know how to play the game of basketball (probably due to his dad being an NBA player). I think that knowing some of the intricacies of Basketball (proper defensive spacing, knowing where your help defenders are coming from, knowing when to double team and when not too, playing good position defense) can make up for a lack of good one on one defensive ability, assuming you the team is committed to good team defense.

    A good defensive 3 would be helpful though. I think trying to figure out a way to Acquire Posey in a sign in a trade would be very helpful. But I am not sure what we have to offer Miami in a sign and trade except one of our young PGs. (I’m not sure a Vlad for Posey S&T works a someone suggest before)

  129. Sorry about the typos in my post. I always plan on double checking what I write then forget to do it before I hit submit.

  130. I still think a trade with Atlanta would be a great option. They are overloaded at the PF position. We should take advantage of that.

    We all know they want to get rid of that nasty Speedy Claxton contract also. If we can eat that, we might be able to get a good player in a trade.

  131. Tell me again why we are trying to play Lamar at the #4.

    Lamar is a fantastically talented player designed to play the #3 and dive for rebounds. If we were a run-and-gun team like Phoenix, then I could see him functioning like Marion, but we are not that type of team.

    We already have to switch assignments on defense so why couldn’t Lamar just switch to guard the #4 when we are playing Phoenix-like teams?

  132. Mike in the Mountain West July 18, 2007 at 10:47 am

    I really like a lineup of:

    PG: Fisher/Farmar
    SG: Kobe/Evans
    SF: Odom/Walton/Radmanovic
    PF: O’neal/Turiaf/Radmanovic
    C: Mihm/ PJ Brown

    That looks like a really good team to me, and it gives us plenty of matchup possibilities which will be very useful in the Playoffs. The biggest weakness of this team is injury. Three of our would-be starters (Odom, O’neal, Mihm) have all shown a propensity for injury. Even just one significant injury would cause us to shake up the roster in a way that destroys whats so great about it.

    What do you think of our bench in this lineup? Would Walton, Turiaf, Brown and Radmanovic be able to play significant minutes thus cutting down on the risk of injury for our starters? Do you all think the injury risk is a risk worth taking?

  133. Mike in the Mountain West,
    This team better be able to win the championship now. If not, we are looking as horrible salary cap problems (luxury).

    Are you referencing the JO/Kwame+Crit+everyone else+picks trade you previously discussed with Jon?

  134. Mike in the Mountain West July 18, 2007 at 11:33 am

    Yes. I’m trying to evaluate what our team would look like if we went through with a trade like the one I mentioned earlier.

    I think the team I outlined in 132 could definitely compete for a championship. The only problem I see, as I mentioned, is injury risk. We would be an injury prone team which means we would have to rely on our bench to take some pressure of the starters to keep them healthy and to play strong in thier absence. I’m just not sure it’s worth the risk.

  135. Mike,
    I agree with you about the risk. Now Miami took that risk and won, but odds started catching up with them this year. For Miami I think the risk was a no-brainer, but L.A. expects a championship every year and if we go one, tenuous shot at the gold and pushed further contending out 5-7 more years, I think the LA fans might put a contract out on the Buss’ after about 2 years.

  136. Mike in the Mountain West July 18, 2007 at 12:22 pm

    I think we could compete for a championship for at least 3 years with a core of Kobe, O’neal, and Odom, if not 4 or 5. Remember, Kobe and O’neal are both 28 and still in their prime. Odom is 27 and if the first half of last year is any indication, just entering his prime. If we can assemble a good supporting cast around them we can extend their shelf life even more.

    I don’t know enough to say anything meaningful about the long-term financial implications but I think you’re right that any big trade puts us in a worse position. The question is how bad.

  137. PG: Fisher
    SG: Bryant
    SF: Odom
    PF: Brown
    C: Bynum

    Mark it up.

  138. These three would make about $56m by themselves – over the salary cap. To add anyone else to the team would put us over the luxury cap by quite a bit. We cannot economically stay in this position.

  139. Mike in the Mountain West July 18, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    Your right. Which pretty much makes any large deal almost impossible.

    Yet another reason for not trading away our rookie scale contract players. The value they provide on a skill to paycheck ratio is immense.

    I’m thinking more and more that either a small trade centered around Kwame to get another player of his contract size but one provides more value is the key. Either that or keep his contract and use the cap space ourselves to sign a free-agent that fills our needs which we will know better once the season starts. A third option could be to keep Kwame and resign him for a much more reasonable contract and use whatever is left over to sign another rotation player.

  140. Until Andrew fills out and becomes more solid defensively, I think we need a Kwame type for the position. This is my problem with dumping him for KG, JO, Gasol. We lose the big body down low.

    Successful teams (S.A.) always have a mix of youth and experience. A good part of that strategy is that they understand how to work the salary cap to their advantage. I believe Mitch is on board with this philosophy and this will benefit us over the next few years. I agree we should not trade Kwame for any fairly expensive player with several years on his contract. It defeats our salary cap requirements.

  141. I think if we resign either Kwame or Lamar, they will both have to take pay cuts. Otherwise, as a team, we will not be able to get/keep a long-term and effective #2 scorer. Since this is not the normal human expectation, we may loose both over the life of their contracts and we should be planning drafts/trades in this direction. We can sometimes overpay at the MLE level (see Walton) for reasons other than pure on-court talent, but where we cannot make mistakes is with players at $9M+. This is where we are now hurting.

  142. Mike in the Mountain West July 18, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    Kwame will clearly have to take a major paycut where ever he goes, or at least he should, it’s impossible to predict if some GM will offer Kwame some idiotic contract.

    Lamar’s situation is a little more fluid. First, because his contract isn’t up till 2009. Secondly because I think Lamar has the talent to justify his contract size. I think the biggest problem with Lamar is his fit on our team. I have this gut feeling that if he were on another team he could easily be an all-star.

  143. That is what every team says – Clippers, Heat, Lakers. It was Pat Riley who gave him the then ridiculous contract. While he did well, he has never lived up the the all-star predictions made for him. There have always been excuses, but I have come to the conclusion that he is always going to be a #3 guy on the team. He can do everything and he is a key part, but he needs a #1 killer and a #2 scorer on any team he is on. It is for that reason only that I say he will have to accept less than he is currently making (almost #1 money). If another team will again ‘shoot the moon’ with him then I say do a sign and trade with them.

  144. I think the Lakers are in a perfect position to make a bit of a push. I think if Andrew gets some big minutes, maybe as the first guy off the bench or something, he could have a breakthru year. If he can get off to a good start, starting, I think he could key a much better year. On the other hand, we might still be stuck in nowhere land….but if we are a bit better, we’re going to take a couple wins from the second-tier Western Conference teams like the Utahs, maybe Houstons, Denvers…which would be progress.

  145. The problem with Bynum getting big minutes TC is that his work ethic has been spotty. I question his heart and desire quite honestly. I do so because he is so damn inconsistent. I’m really starting to wonder if he has the mental make-up to make the jump the star in this league.

    That said, this is a big year. If he cannot get to a place that puts him on a better path this year, his trade value goes way down. That’s why I’d do as Kobe says and ship him out. Not for JKidd, but definitely for JO or KG. I would never give up him and Odom though, not for anyone, as that is preposterous.

    This is what needs to happen for reasons other than to placate Kobe: Mitch needs to reach between his legs and check if his set is still there. Seriously, this guy refuses to take any risks. The only moves he makes, he’s either forced to (Shaq) or makes the wrong move (Kwame for Butler, Radmanovic). I mean, he wouldn’t give up Butler for Boozer but he jumped at the chance to unload Butler and Chucky’s expiring for Kwame? I like Kwame as much as the next guy, but that was horrible logic. And Baron Davis woulda been a nice trade…and cheap too, talent-wise at least.

    As I said in the Mihm signing post, I still think the JO deal will be made. The Pacers announced they were suspending trade talks during the draft because they wanted to revisit the Laker talks during free agency. Me thinks that was a ploy to get the Lakers to anti-up their offer or someone else to wow them. It didn’t work. The Lakers deal, Kwame, Bynum, a draft pick, and another player, is the best they can get. And quite frankly, that’d give them a nice young core in Granger, Bynum, and Diogu. Why they aren’t jumping at this I have no idea.