Fast Break Thoughts

Kurt —  July 23, 2007

Here’s a roundup of thoughts and other things to help us get started on a Monday, sort of like a cup of coffee for the week.

• I thought friend-of-the-site Nate Jones had an interesting piece about the referee/Tim Donaghy scandal over at Fanhouse — basically, it doesn’t bother him that much.

My thoughts are this is a HUGE problem and issue. Not as much with Nate or myself or many of the readers and commenters here because we are basketball junkies — bottom line, we’re not leaving the sport. We can say that Donaghy was a bad apple, that he was working primarily the under/over not game outcomes, that things can be done to prevent this in the future. (The under/over thing is interesting, Brandan “Two for the Money” Lang told ESPN.com it’s a challenge for a ref to influence a game outcome — what if Kobe has an off night? — but the under/over is much easier to fix.)

Right now the NBA is struggling, slipping some on the national sports scene (television ratings and other numbers show it). I think that is primarily due to the lack of a charismatic star/tandem to drive viewers (Magic/Bird, then Jordan, then Shaq/Kobe for a few years) but this scandal is a kick in the groin of a sport trying to find its footing. It hurts a lot. It cuts to the very core of the sports respectability.

And that hurts with the casual fans. Not the ones who tune into summer Team USA scrimmages in Vegas but the ones who first check the standings around the All Star Break, think Charles Barkley is the best basketball commenter on the planet and really tune in mostly during the playoffs. For those fans, this is a chance to confirm the long-standing belief that games are fixed, either by the league or other higher powers (the New Jersey mafia). It confirms that refs have other agendas and ulterior motives, something even we harder-core fans thought at times. Bill Simmons said it well — guilty or innocent people will not watch an NBA game quite the same way again.

• Blog-a-Bull was one of the first really great NBA blogs out there (one I tried to steal stuff from when I started this blog). Congratulations to Matt on turning four (and continuing the quality work).

• The Team USA scrimmage sounded like a lot of fun (I have yet to watch the replay, but there are some good recaps in the comments) but I’m not sure how much we can take away from it. What we need to see is a month away — this team against real quality international competition. Until then it’s just a scrimmage, even if it was one with some promise.

• Some people really seem surprised Kobe didn’t want to clarify his situation with the Lakers while in Vegas. Really? What is he going to say that helps his situation one way or the other? You think he wants to rehash that media disaster of a couple months ago?

Kurt

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69 responses to Fast Break Thoughts

  1. Amidst this little lull of Laker off-season activity (no KG update, Kobe mum as he focuses on USA ball) and while we wait for Stern to detail the gambling ref situation, just wanted to know what’s the latest with Ronny Turiaf? The Lakers have re-signed Walton, Mihm, and even brought back D-Fish. Barring any big time trades, it will be the same team as last year (with Fish and J-Crit joining Farmar to replace Smush). Is Ronny part of this? Are they waiting to see about trades before signing him (in case it’s a sign and trade)? Has he even been of interest to other teams? From the way I understand it, he’s a restricted FA, so the Lakers could match any offer… so what’s the deal?

  2. lakerade, I sincerely hope the Lakers don’t have that much faith in Cook backing up the PF position. Ronny will likely stay.

    http://myespn.go.com/blogs/truehoop/0-26-82/What-the-NBA-Needs–Transparency.html
    Mr. Abbott has an interesting proposal…but I’d think that’d just highlight the entire ref situation and take away the actual game…

  3. I don’t believe Ronny is a free agent at all. There are conflicting reports, but the articles I read at the time (prior to last season) said that he signed a 2-year contract.

  4. Exick, thanks for the clarification (although you’d think HoopsHype would have something on it in their team salaries breakdown):

    http://www.hoopshype.com/salaries/la_lakers.htm

    So with pretty much the exact same team as last year (with D-Fish instead of Smush and a healthy Mihm), I think the only way to move up talent-wise is adding KG. How to make that happen is beyond me, but I’m sure there’s a way. Any other move seems to be a lateral one, especially the JO one, as LO brings more versatility to the triangle than JO would, not to mention the latter would have to learn it first. That does not mean I think they can win a ring with this current lineup, I just don’t think trading for JO means that either.

    As for making the trade to appease Kobe, I don’t think it’s that bad between him and the front office after all. The muted comments he made during the USA mini-camp show that he learned his lesson about tact, even if it was a bit late. Kobe, epitomising the desire of all Laker fans, wants to win badly. He was just afraid that that sentiment wasn’t echoed by the front office, but now he’s opened communication with Mitch and Buss, and while that may not lead to a blockbuster trade this year, it does make it clear to the front office AND the players that Kobe believes they can do it, some way somehow. Obviously, health is a big factor, but it’s the CONSISTENCY of play by supporting players (i.e. that drive and instinct every night) that Kobe wants. You could even see during the USA scrimmage (yes, it was just practice) that Kobe plays with a different intensity, even when on the floor with other “superstars”.

    Summary: KG or nothing, those are the only two options for tweaking the roster this year. Unless someone has a brain fart and gives away a player to us.

  5. During the Dodger game yesterday Vin Scully quoted Chick’s ‘no harm, no foul’. It was priceless.

    Re:Gambling- gambling is an issue that is a rapidly re-emerging problem in all sports, all around the world. Why is football the most popular sport, what about the huge match-fixing scandal in the Italian Soccer League. The common theme in any of these things is the criminal underworld aspect that will inevitably appear when gambling occurs. I’m not saying gambling should be abolished, just that we shouldn’t be shocked or surprised.

  6. I just wanted to add to the USA discussion that if it were up to me, I’d honestly cut LeBron. With Kobe/Wade/Melo we have his skill set pretty covered, and as Sunday proved yet again, Kobe is a much better 1st option and clutch performer. If he’s not the first option, not a 1st class defender or shooter, I don’t see what LeBron offers. I’d much rather his spot go to a 3 specialist like Miller or a rebounder/shotblocker like Chandler. Too bad Colangelo would never have the guts to cut the Golden Child.

  7. Is Marbury a perfect match for Kobe?
    =======================
    Published by The Nuggetat July 22, 2007 in Articles. 40 Comments
    This isn’t a rumor or some sort of source, but a suggestion from writer Tommy Beer. What are your thoughts of seeing Stephon Marbury in the Purple & Gold? Sound-off in the comments.

    HOOPSWORLD.COM: An ideal match may be the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe has been belly-aching all summer that Jerry Buss and Mitch Kupchak haven’t done enough to surround him with quality parts. Marbury is the type of scoring point guard that Phil Jackson prefers in his triangle offense. And the Lakers clearly need an upgrade at the PG position, as Smush Parker had started 162 straight games from 2005 through 2007.

    Re-examining a possible fit with the Lakers, the Knicks could ask for LA’s 2007 first-round draft pick, Javaris Crittenton. Crittenton is a big 6′5″ guard with tremendous upside. How about swapping one Georgia Tech PG that left school after his freshman year for another? If the Lakers included Kwame Brown’s expiring contract (worth over $9 million), they’d be over halfway there in term of matching up money. The Lakers could also include Vladimir Radmanovic terrible contract (Knicks would likely shy away from that – but with Isiah you never know), or they could look to get a third team involved to help balance out the dollars.

    Crazy? I agree :-)

  8. Gr8dunk,
    That suggestion is a waste of our (Laker fans) time. This guy Beer has no credibility or say in the Knicks front office. I could go on the internet and suggest that the Cavs should trade Lebron to the Lakers for Brian Cook… I don’t have any more credibility than this guy.

    Marbury is 1)too much of a dribbler and shoot-first player to succeed on the Lakers, 2) making WAY too much money and 3) not needed here, our PG position is set for the moment.

    Warren’s trade suggestions are WAY better than this guys. At least Warren’s make sense and he looks at it from both teams point of view. This guy just needed to turn in a column by deadline time and pulled one out of his @$$.

  9. 6. state please the specialists in the top 3 teams in last World Tournament. there aren’t.
    specialist are not the solution.
    although I also agree I’d prefere other players than Lebron for international ball… I’d stick with both pistons wings prince and hamilton. nice off-ball moving, good defenders and team players

    and please coach K, teach them the FIBA rules and mixed defense styles so next summer I’ll see a final featuring USA and Spain and the victory will be even more pleasant.

  10. 5. Kwame A.
    I heard Vin say that too. I even made a note of it to my wife that it was the first time I’d heard either of them ever refer to the other during a broadcast. We wondered whether they were friends. The fact that Vinny referred to him just as “Chick” makes me think they were.

  11. 9) I don’t think what works for other teams is necessarily what we should try to copy. We have a huge advantage in athleticism that we should by all means capitalize on. My point is that when you already have Kobe/Wade/Carmelo, you have enough guys that create with the ball in their hands. The roster should be rounded out with guys that can contribute effectively without dominating the ball. Chandler was one of the very few guys Sunday who was a solid rebounder on both ends and provided a needed defensive backstop. Similarly, Miller was one of the few who consistently took advantage of the opportunities created by the stars behind the arc.

  12. Skigi, I do have an eccentric side too you know :)

    Just like Kurt said, this is coffee to jump start the week.

    Jordan Farmar (Riles PG)
    Vlade Radman (no more Posey and Kapono)
    – for –
    Udonis Haslem

    Might work… esp if some of our biggies are traded.

  13. 12 I don’t thnk there will be another Heat-Lakers trade in quite some time.

  14. I don’t really think that there needs to be anymore trades at all…. (unless of course we can get KG…which isn’t going to happen)…
    Last year we were on course to win 50 games and then we hit the injury bug (and we also had an easy start to the season)….. I think that we will be alright and kobe will be okay also because if we start winning he will stop whinning..

    (also I really just wanted to say high to kurt… I’m going back to cali in about a month and it will be the first time in three years that I get to go to see the P and G play live.. I can’t wait)

  15. Hey guys…I got a question about hte Ref situations….they say that he called more Technicals that any other Ref last year….so….do the Players and Coaches get their money back? They are fined when a T is given right? And if its determined that this guy truly was crooked and handed out fould and T’s that were not really nessecary…shouldnt the players get their money back? I know that the League will not change the out come of the games…that just cant happen….but they could give the money back.

  16. The game will live despite of the Donaghy scandal. There’s plenty of that in Europe and the sport lives on. And yes, football (soccer for you) is huge here…

    Getting better refs in the first place would help prevent it and paying them properly would be a huge boost. In a professional league where rookies make up to 3mil garanteed, why not pay the refs like 300k per year + expenses on the road? The league can afford it and you could argue that it would make them less prone to bribes… But that’s just me saying…

  17. 15. That is just part of where this gets complex. Of all those techs that were called, some likely were deserved and maybe some were about changing/fixing the game. Unless he comes clean, it’s going to be hard for the NBA offices to get into his mind and say “that was deserved, that wasn’t.” Who do you refund the money too?

  18. 11) but they where playing against NBA players
    they know few about FIBA rules, they dont explote them.

    What most of FIBA best players lack when playing NBA rules is the hability to create its own shot and toughness. well this all-star team has it but what you won’t see in the Worlds (maybe in Americas yes because the only powerhouses are Argentina and USA) is 1-on-1, simple pick&roll plays. its more of team ball.
    Tony Parker is far better NBA player than FIBA because he’s insane playing pick and roll and getting to the hole or dish it to Duncan.
    Calderon or Papaloukas are much better FIBA players than NBA because their pure point guard habilities willingness to move the game through the floor to find the point where the defense break, rather than setting a specialist to do what he does best.

    What I come to say is that US got the tools, they just have to know how to use them. And if a tool, no matter how good it is, isn’t useful in this situation, better leave it at home…

    you know, I love forks. but today i tried to eat soup with a fork and I’m still hungry…

  19. Tech foul money goes to charities,so it’s not like the NBA was throwing parties w/the money.

    Xavier,the simple pick and roll KILLED the USA team in last Olympics. I think it was Greece that ran it about a dozen times in a row.

    ChopperDave

  20. We are clearly in the midst of a summer lull. The Lakers have put together a balanced roster of 14 players that are far better as a team than the hype. It puts them in a strange position.

    Lamar Odom may be just as good as the power forward superstars the Lakers lust after–and his heroic performance in the playoffs last year despite his injury won many hearts. Should Lamar provide more post up presence with Kobe and more leadership/facilitation with the “energy” team, he undoubtedly will reignite all of the trade inquiries expressed by other teams–including Indiana, The irony is that under those conditions the Lakers may no longer wish to trade him.

    Dispite a nagging injury that got worse as the season unfolded, Kwame was highly regarded by the coaches for his size and defensive quickness last year–derided and written off by nearly everyone else for his awkward offense and apparent “attitude.” He’s coming off surgery into his contract year. Giving Kwame and Mihm equal minutes and bringing in Bynum as an energy guy could present an extremely effective rotation at center.

    Under these circumstances, ALL of the Lakers centers might be sought after. The irony again here is that then the Lakers might not want to trade.

    Although the Lakers have clearly improved at pg, they are really not that deep. Jordan will probably be the starter, w/Derek off the bench. The role of Javaris still needs to be determined. My guess is that he will be an energy guy, nothing more. Sasha may also find opportunities at pg from time to time.

    The idea of trading Jordan Farmar this year seems farfetched.

    The Lakers could trade either a small forward or power forward, but probably appreciate the depth they have at the moment. VladRad iks likely to demonstrate much more value–which may make him more tradeable.

    The Lakers seem to have reduced thier vulnerability to the point that they could stay as they are indefinitely–or do a trade immediately.

    Until something happens, it will drive some of us crazy!

  21. 19…wher the money goes is not the point…it should have never left their wallets in the first place. lets not forget that NBA rules last year…the NO ARGUE WITH THE REF RULE…ZERO TOLERANCE…so…with that in mind….Your a player…you are sick of a this Ref and his bogus calls on your team. He then calls one on you that is bogus and you argue it…and get T up’d…you are docked money. Now months later you find out that this exact same Ref was dirty…would you go after that money? I certainly would.

  22. 21 I would go after the money too. But then I do not make 10-20M dollars a year either. I think $10 thousand that went to charity for a bogus technical foul will not bother that many NBA players.

  23. Exick- I remember maybe 10 years ago fox sports (or prime ticket) had a special with Bob Miller, Vin Scully and Chick Hearn. It was awesome, because they all had a great deal of respect and appreciation of the others work.

  24. 22 Ryan…..I agree that since they make a lot more money than probalby both you and I combined….they will let it go…but…maybe not…and if they do try to take action via the Players Union…I wouldnt blame them…to at least get it stricken from records or something? Who knows?

    23. kwame A..I remember that!!! I also remember an interview with Vin when Chick died…just admiration and heartfelt loss…it was super cool. I read somewhere….and I wish I remeber where….that said more people have learned English from Vin Scully and Chick Hearn than any other source.

  25. NEWS
    ====
    Rogue ref to plead guilty in bet scandal

    BY TAMER EL-GHOBASHY in Bradenton, Fla.
    and JOHN MARZULLI and DAVE GOLDINER in New York
    DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS

    Tuesday, July 24th 2007, 4:00 AM
    Disgraced NBA referee Tim Donaghy is expected to surrender as early as Thursday and plead guilty to federal gambling charges, sources said yesterday.

    The referee is named as a “John Doe” in papers filed in Brooklyn Federal Court, a legal step that suggests Donaghy plans to admit to the charges and help in the probe, sources close to the case said.

    Donaghy’s case will be prosecuted by Thomas Seigel, chief of the Brooklyn U.S. attorney’s office organized-crime division – a sign of how seriously prosecutors are treating the case.

    A grand jury is also expected to indict at least two mobbed-up gamblers in the scheme.

    Donaghy, 40, is suspected of betting on NBA games and giving gamblers inside information, including which refs were slated to work certain games.

    Investigators are still trying to find evidence he threw games or favored teams.

    NBA Commissioner David Stern is expected to hold a news conference on the scandal today.

    At Donaghy’s home in Bradenton, Fla., a string of friends carted in cases of soda and supplies, but a pal who came to the front door insisted Donaghy had left.

    “He’s not here,” the friend said.

    Donaghy called cops a day earlier to complain about threatening phone calls, prompting police to boost patrols.

    “You’re done,” one caller said, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office reported. “You’re dead.”

    In Donaghy’s former hometown of West Chester, Pa., many people remembered him as pugnacious and litigious.

    “He was the kind of guy you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy,” said developer Robert Zoba, 42, who sold the ref a home lot. “He was one of a kind, a bad egg, a nightmare.”

  26. Not to be morbid, but if he really was involved with the types of people he’s suspected of being involved with, and he’s pleading guilty to a lesser plea in exchange for testimony, I’m seeing a suspicious suicide in his future.

  27. NEWS
    ===
    risking everything for daughter’s health (NBA star Derek Fisher )

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19912646/

  28. 19) because they defended as playing in the NBA. and they got the best PG in europe playing pick&roll.
    The US whern’t simply prepeared.

    If you have lighly scouted papaloukas, and I think some have done it since he torched the US and said he may (or may not) try the NBA,
    Theo ALWAYS plays as a bench PG but end up playing the most minutes.
    Theo’s favourite play is the pick&roll from his right side and split the defense.

    when playing for CSKA he usually find a zone to break that, and got good shooters on the team to score the kick out ball.
    Greece team also played like that.

    papaloukas dished against USA 12 ass. and Greece team shot FG 62.5% and 3P 44.4% in route for 101 points

    against Spain, papaloukas only managed to dish 3 ass and Greece team shot FG 32.7% and 3P 23.8% to score 47 (yes, fourty seven) points

    does it makes you think something?
    look, say it the way you want, but the key is to know the real deal of FIBA rules.

  29. The whole ref scandal doesn’t bring to light the corruption of sports and the NBA, it just confirms what fans have suspected and theorized for years, if not decades. As a Laker fan, it just makes me appreciate the Bling Dynasty run even more because that team could win 5 on 8, and I remember thinking that to myself many times when absurd calls were being made in close games. Nowadays, teams that are supposed to be good still get tripped up by controversial refereeing. Some examples I can think of off the top of my head:

    - Mavs losing to Heat in the Finals. They had it in the bag until the refs wanted to extend the series, which turned into the Heat winning it all via the Dwayde free throw parade.
    - Suns losing to Spurs after getting guys suspended. While the suspensions themselves were handed down from the league, the reason guys came off the bench was because things had escalated throughout (Nash’s gash) and boiled over when Horry hip-checked Nash. Remember the Bling Dynasty team when calls went against them? They just dropped the ball, shook their head, and ran up the court to continue play. I can specifically remember Shaq, Kobe, Fox, and Fisher doing that many times.
    - the Hall of Fame Lakers (Shaq, Kobe, Malone, GP) losing to the Pistons. Even THESE guys couldn’t overcome the refs in the Finals against Detroit, where LINDSEY HUNTER pretty much stopped Kobe defensively since the refs swallowed their whistles. Of course, this team had serious ego issues too.

    My short list of examples involve contenders, as lesser teams clearly can’t overcome crappy refs on a regular basis, in fact (especially in the Leastern Conference) often rely on those refs’ biases swinging their way to win. Tough as it is to say, the only other team that was/is unfazed by the refs are the Spurs, who only seem to fail when not entirely healthy, not out of some implosion from being unable to handle suspect refereeing. In fact, not only are they unfazed, but they almost embrace bad refs because they have the personnel to exploit them. With the Bling Dynasty, they just acted as if the refs weren’t even there. Before you attack, haters, I will say that it took that first ring to learn that mindset, and by the third ring they barely scraped by, surviving the Queens who also did effectively ignore the refs but couldn’t make a shot in game 7.

  30. I think the only way that Stern and the NBA can assure that this doesn’t happen again is to make an example out of Donaghy. They need to SEVERELY punish Donaghy. I’m talkin take all his money back and throw his ass in prison. If any other refs (in any league) are even thinking about being crooked refs, the thought of them being tortured like Donaghy would persuade them to not do it.

    Donaghy got himself into this mess with the decisions he made. The same way a criminal goes to jail for murder, robbery, or rape. They make decisions that they know are wrong and all they think about is themselves. Donaghy should be thrown in prison. He may not deserve such harsh penalties but he must be made an example of.

  31. Mike in the Mountain West July 24, 2007 at 6:02 pm

    Renato,

    Many refs already do make $300,000. Refs start at $85,000 and get more as veterans, not including bonuses for the playoff’s. Donaghy, according to Stern, made $260,000 last year. So these guys are not hurting for money.

  32. Mike in the Mountain West July 24, 2007 at 6:04 pm

    I dont think we should go after KG unless we get a bargain. All the deals I’ve seen leave us too thin. KG and Kobe plus a bunch 3rd graders does not get us a ring.

  33. Renato Afonso July 24, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    Thanks Mike,

    then it’s just their wicked way of thinking. I think greed shouldn’t be underestimated then…

    Just throw him in jail.

    However, I still believe that most referees are just incompetent and not corrupt…

  34. We’ll have a great bargain for KG if we just wait a year, probably. As a free agent he’ll probably go someplace for less money to win a championship. Whatever happens this season probably the Lakers are a team that are competitve enough but not the easy slamdunk to a ring that just joining up with one of the Western superpowers would deliver him.

    Speaking of those wonderful T-Wolves, what about Troy Hudson? I haven’t followed him much and I know he’s been benchwarming … what are his defensive numbers like? Minnesota might buy him out.

    I guess we don’t have the room, and I’m relying on too many memories of his battles with Fish in the playoffs where he worked him to death.

    Might be a nice veteran add, though.

  35. Renato Afonso July 24, 2007 at 6:41 pm

    Xavier,

    It’s hard to explain in words the differences when reading the international and the NBA game.. I’ll provide some assistance to you later on. I’m preparing a comment about each and every player that the US will and/or should use in international play and why.

    About assessing the other teams capacities, don’t forget that your league (Spain) is the best defensive league in the world. You actually take it to the edge and 3 or 4 players from the starting lineup reach the foul limit way before the end of game. And no bogus calls for the superstars…

  36. 34. I think expecting KG to come here if he opts out next summer is a dangerous game to play. Frankly, if he’s going to go somewhere for the MLE, I would think he would choose Phoenix — they are clearly closer to a title than the Lakers and it’s a lot more fun system to play in. I think the Lakers need to continue to work trade talks, even if nothing comes of it, because I think if he gets to chose his own destination we may not be on the top of the list.

  37. Here are the facts:

    The Lakers now have $70,516,146.00 in the payroll. Roughly 3M above the luxury tax.

    Assuming this is the final figure to work with, the Lakers will be paying roughly 3M in luxury tax.

    Next year, it will be at $ 62,165,760.00 with Kwame, Turiaf, Evans and Vujacic no longer in the payroll.

    Assuming all 4 players sign up to a total of 10M (Kwame 5M, Evans 2M, Turiaf 2M, Sasha 1M) we will now be at the 73M range. Luxury tax territory once more.

    What money are we going to pay KG? Kurt is right. If we bank on the MLE being our ONLY way to sign up KG next year (which is quite impossible,really) I can name 3 other teams he would prefer to do that with. Notwithstanding the fact that those teams COULD actually offer more money.

  38. I have total respect for Derek Fisher. Still, being that his reasons for coming back to LA aren’t primarily about basketball, the one thing that worries me is that it will be a distraction, particuarly to Kobe. That is, Fish is doing it as a job, to make money to provide for his family. If Kobe still has that bitter pill of distrust towards the front office, Fisher’s mindset might be too convenient for Kobe to follow till he can opt out. THAT is one reason why I’d love a clarification from Kobe about his stance with the team. Kobe is still the leader of this team, despite the rantings of haters, and knowing that he’s fully committed to bringing this franchise back to glory would be a huge step in morale for the whole roster. That being said, I believe Fisher will only fall back on his daughter’s plight for perspective if the Lakers are playing poorly over a long stretch. So if he and Kobe can focus the team from the start, it may never come to that, but again, that’s if…

  39. 36. Is KG even a fit for PHX? It seems to me that he’s more of a half-court player, and not a type of player who is amenable to playing a full run and gun game. Minn. never played that style and I think one reason why he has been so durable and healthy is that he plays in such a slow down system. Ditto for Grant Hill, will he hold up playing a run and gun system given his fragile ankle? I doubt it. We will see, remember, Nash will be around 35 years old while the Lakers will have a younger core group of players. It should be interesting. But the major assumption in all of the KG MLE talk is this…will he willingly walk away from $20+ million per year? It’s easy to answer that in the theoretical (i.e. he wants to win a championship), but $20 million will always be $20 million.

  40. DY, I don’t think $20 million is as big a deal if you’ve been making it for upteen years and you’ve not even come close to a title.

    Karl Malone came here for peanuts to have another solid shot. I think KG definitely has that same kind of personality. And just like Karl not wanting to hitch an easy ride on the Spurs coattails, who were the Suns of that previous year, I do think we’d have a strong chance at getting him next year.

    I just see that as the only way of getting him right now, at least that’s what it looks like. Who knows. Plus we wouldn’t have to give anything up that way, and since this is probably not a title year, I say let the team grow and make a full on press to court him when he’s free as a bird.

    Maybe Kupchak can work some magic. I’m a huge LO fan and even I was a little disappointed that the whole Gerald Wallace/ JO thing didn’t materialize. Impressive.

  41. 37 “I can name 3 other teams he would prefer to do that with”

    Can you really? Last I heard his approved list was two teams long with us coming behind Phoenix. Granted that was mostly from anonymous sources from his “camp” so who knows how true that is, but that’s the closest I think the public’s come to hearing his wishes. And even without Thomas’ contract their payroll looks to be at least 10m greater than ours for the 08/09 season. I think for either team it’s got to be a trade.

    Also, keep an eye on August 2nd. I think that’s the first day we could trade Crittenton (30 days after signing his contract). Not to say that I necessarily want that to happen, but if something big happens, I think he’d have to be involved, and that would be the soonest we could pull it off.

  42. Yeah yeah I effed up, the Spurs won the title in ’03.

  43. A-hole, DY’s point will be 20M will always be 20M. Remember Sprewell not accepting the 8M (coz he wanted to feed his family). While its easy on the basketball perspective to walk away from 20M for a ring, reality suggests otherwise.

    Assuming he does opt out, there will be 3 other teams with a better disposition to “fit” KG where the odds are higher to win – one of them being Chicago. The bulls are positioned to gun after a free agent in 08 with their own BYC players i.e Deng and Gordon due for extensions.

    Knowing KG, he will definitely entertain the idea of a sign-and-trade to the preferred destination. For instance, Minny can s&t him for 45M 3 years to Chicago for Deng and Tyrus Thomas + draft picks.

    He can also choose to be with Cleveland for Gooden, Snow and Pavlovic.

    Or to be with Detroit – Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince.

    The point is, KG has that pesky loyalty thing going for him which for me, all signs will point to him not signing with the Lakers.

  44. Carolla, I think the remaining money on KG’s contract WILL be a factor, since no team would sign him to a new deal for that much. Malone didn’t walk away from any remaining years, did he? That being said, I agree that the best scenario is to play well with the current roster and then hope KG opts out and hops on board next year. This was what I thought would happen before the Kobe radio tour which led to all the KG and JO trade rumors. Assuming no trade happens, I think a year from now the Lakers will look a lot more like contenders, IF we can stay healthy. If KG leaves that $20 mil on the table, money won’t be a factor for him when deciding on a new team, it’ll just be about winning and him being able to contribute to that cause. In other words, contenders that need a PF, which kind of eliminates the Suns, unless KG is happy to play C for them.

  45. If i was KG and I was going to opt out and sign for the MLE for a chance to win a championship I think I would sign with Detroit. I think he would be a perfect fit in Detroit.

  46. The Chinese curse is that you get what you ask for.

    We’ve already got a PF that we love.

    The T’Wolves have spent many years trying to build a team around KG. They’re over the salary cap–and they’ve been going downhill. They’ve lost hope. To rebuild, they’ve shown KG the door–and he won’t go.

    They’re dumping salary–about to buy off Hudson. They may be-not so secretly-looking forward to having his $20 million+ to spend on rebuilding.

    He didn’t click with Marbury. Sam Cassel left. Kobe is more prima donna than either of them.

    Although KG as an individual may well be the best PF in the history of the league, his “chemistry quotient” has not been proven. KG as a role player might mix with Kobe as a role player like oil and water.

  47. Renato Afonso July 25, 2007 at 8:47 am

    Guys, guys,

    Players with the ability of KG are good fit anywhere. Doesn’t matter the style of play, they always bring more to the table.

    Now, let’s assume that KG would sign for the MLE anywhere (don’t believe it, but…)…

    Would he want to play in the Western Conference and risk a 2nd round exit? Nope, he wouldn’t.

    So, you got KG going East in order to win a title. That leaves only the following teams for him…

    Detroit: Obvious fit. No explanation needed.
    Miami: Shaq is getting old fast, but that would be one last title shot for both of them (plus Wade’s 3244 FT attempts per game)
    New Jersey: Kidd, Vince, Jefferson, Garnett, Krstic. Enough to win it all I think.

    Period.

    Now, why don’t we forget this KG story, because unless we’re giving all we got BUT Kobe, he isn’t coming…

  48. drrayeye,
    Very good points. Perhaps we should concentrate more on the PF we love (or SF if you prefer). Like KG, teams haven’t been able to build a winner around him, but he is also a number of years younger than KG.

    Turiaf is 2 yrs removed from heart surgery and his endurance should be improved this year. He also should not have to play center this year so there is a real chance we will see more consistent play from him; as well as his ability to hit the 15ftr will be more evident.

    Our guard play should be more consistent this year with Fish for Smush and Kobe concentrating on defense more.

    Rad should be there to shoot 3s for us this year. By keeping Walton’s minutes reasonable we should see both better shooting and less possibility of injury.

    That leaves the center position. With a healthy Mihm and Bynum a year older and more experienced, I don’t see how we can view this as anything but an improvement.

    The entire team should be able to work within the triangle offense better.

    We can always wish for more, but my opinion is that we should be thankful for what we have and cut down our b$$chin somewhat.

  49. Last night I had a dream I was watching a Laker game from the new season, and Smush was starting again. I was in shock but somehow accepted it as truth. It was a bit odd.

  50. A Golden State writer/blogger has 3 tems being granted permission to talk to KG abount an EXTENSION before the draft. If half-way true,that doesn’t look like a player wanting to walk away from $24mil.
    Maybe it’s just me,but if I were going to give up $24mil for a chance at a championship,I’d want to go where I’d have the very best chance. Say,San Antonio where it’s warm,they are proven winners and they might just welcome a big man.

  51. This is pretty interesting. About the Donaghy betting scandal.

    “In the two seasons in which the FBI is investigating Donaghy for allegedly fixing games for gambling purposes, Bell found that NBA teams scored more points than Las Vegas expected (hitting the over) 57 percent of the time when Donaghy was part of the officiating crew. With a league average of 49 to 51 percent, the odds of such an occurrence are 19 to 1.”

    “ESPN.com’s own research into Donaghy’s last two seasons supports Bell’s claims. In the 66 games Donaghy refereed in the 2005-06 season, the two teams in his games combined to score an average of 196.8 points. The average over/under, according to BoDog.com, was 186.6, a difference of almost 10 points.

    In 2006-07, Donaghy refereed 73 games. In those contests, the two teams combined to score 201.37 points and the average over/under was 187.9 points, a difference of more than 13 points per game. ”

    “At the start of the 2007 calendar year, Bell said, there were 10 straight games in which Donaghy was part of the officiating crew and the point spread moved a point and a half or more before tip-off, indicating big money had been wagered on the game. In those 10 contests, according to Bell, the big money won all 10 times.”

    “According to FoxSports.com, over the last two seasons, Donaghy led the NBA in technical fouls, free-throw attempts per game and foul outs per game.”

    Heres the link for the full article.
    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?page=expertstatsdonaghy

  52. About the Donaghy thing, I just wanted to add that this could be a good thing eventually (for the game, that is)

    We all agree that the level of refereeing was extremely poor for too long. Now, all the referees are under the public’s eye and the league will be paying more attention to their mistakes and perhaps fire the incompetent ones. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but I believe we will have better referees this year…

  53. I’m not trying to be a naysayer, nor am I wishing against KG coming to LA…but the reality of the situation appears otherwise. As some of the commentators here have suggested, $24 million is a lot of money to walk away from no matter how much money one has earned in their lifetime. Second, if KG were to walk away from all that money, he would go to a definitive winner, not a ‘crap-shoot’ team that does not have a really good chance to win it all.

    That being said, the whole wait for KG approach reminds me of the whole wait for Yao/Amare approach that the FO had for a while. This would be a bad approach because KG could: 1) stay with Minn. and renegotiate for MORE money, 2) play for a ‘winner’.

    So what else besides JO and KG do we have as options? The grow from within theory?

  54. I don’t believe that Stern’s “head in the sand” posture on referee cheating will do the NBA much good–and it could easily cost him his job.

    Rather than making refereeing transparent and open, Stern has made it more secretive, and tied it to player/coach punishments of one kind or another. Challenging a call can lead to a technical or an expulsion of a player or coach, rather than a correction.

    But refereeing is not about the players or coaches, it is about quality and consistency of calls.

    There is a rational alternative which would give refereeing more credibility: grade each referree on every call for every game and post these three statistics: 1/2: # of fouls called against each team per referee, 3: percentage of calls correct.

    If his scores are below a cutoff, set by the league based on performance, he is automatically “sent down” to evaluate development league games until his percentages improve–if a slot is available.

    As his scores go above the cutoff in the NBA, he gets incentive pay. A series of max scores entitles him to a bonus.

    Allow two coach challenges per game, allowing more for each challenge that reverses a call. If a call is upheld, but is incorrect on review, the ref. gets a double negative on his percentage score for that game.

    This approach would make any pattern of bogus calls stand out, and, if continued, would get the deviant ref bounced to the development league even if cheating was never observed or proven.

  55. Renato Afonso July 25, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    I’m all for evaluating referees, but I’m against challenges… a bad call is part of the game, and I, as a player, feel that the referees are allowed to make mistakes as well. They are not allowed to be incompetent though.

    The challenges would stop the game even more than it stops now… Actually, the amount of timeouts that each team is entitled to is ridiculous right now.

  56. I think the limited challenges I suggest would prevent games being decided by “phantom fouls.” One couldn’t challenge a “no call,” so my proposed solution would lead to fewer foul calls–and a faster, not a slower game.

    The challenges I suggest are ways to force the refs to be consistent–and not call so many fouls.

    I would only imagine it used frequently in situations in which there was a clear “home team” bias–and the refs were calling “Dwayne Wade” fouls and getting overruled.

    The system would force a reexamination of certain categories of fouls, like charging.

    If certain fouls couldn’t be called consistently, the refs would not be allowed to call them at all.

    The current reviewing process for the NFL is flawed (and takes so long in part)

  57. Renato Afonso July 25, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    well, the Wade-type fouls must end by evaluation of the league, not because there are challenges available IMO.

    We have a saying in my country, that goes something like this: I don’t want to catch a thieve stealing, I want to prevent him from stealing…

    Here’s the same thing… Referees must fear the evaluation and do as well as they can, because it goes directly into their paycheck. A challenge wouldn’t have the same input.

    And as I said, challenges take the emotion out of a game. I want to talk to a referee calmly when he’s wrong, and convince him he did wrong on the previous play. It’s part of the game…

    And yes, the NFL challenges are seriously flawed and long.

  58. Renato Afonso,
    I agree with your take on challenges. In American Football, the challenges sometimes change the momentum of the game – and that game is one of constant starts and stops. In basketball the entire feel of the game often changes when the ball stops moving. I can just see one team’s attempt to take advantage of a momentum change being completely compromised by a reviewed call. That fact in itself would mean these challenges could be one way to modify the spread in a game.

    That would be great. The cure for ref issues becomes another way to influence the game. Now all the ref would have to do would be to make a mistake at a critical part of the game – it wouldn’t even have to have anything to do with the team he was trying to ‘slow down’ – and the result would be to narrow the spread. Argggggh!!!

    Ref procedures and reviews should be more transparent – whether or not we get immediate access to the process is not as important. We fans are not really the best people to make impartial judgments. The important thing is that the NBA CANNOT keep everything referee oriented behind locked vaults – this will not work in the new wired world. There is too much information floating around the universe for them to try to keep these things ‘under wraps’.

  59. I believe that more transparency in referee performance is needed, but I don’t think that posting individual ‘scores’ or detailed statistics is the way to go… people already complain about the officiating more than is really necessary…

    If the guidelines for the grading were made public, and the overall performance for the group as a whole were published, that would be a HUGE step towards making known the performance of referees as a whole…

    frankly, the stats of a certain ref can let you know the PROBABILITY that he/she changed ONE game, but that is not nearly as important as proving that ALL refs, for the SEASON (or month, etc) had a 95% accuracy rate.

    Publishing detailed statistics would only condone the ridicule and harassment of individual refs, which would probably lead to more bad (emotional) calls. showing the methods of analysis and trends for the whole group would help fix public ill will, without opening up that other door.

  60. IMO the sorry state of refereeing in the NBA goes deeper than one guy being a crook and cannot really be fixed by any statistical analysis (although Ryan’s statistics in #51 are interesting). It is possible (although perhaps not likely) that a large number of NBA refs are crooked but, whether it is the result of incompetance or dishonesty, the bottom line is that many current NBA refs $uck at their jobs. There has been a unmistakeable deterioration in quality over the past five years or so.

    Here is my theory: I saw on ESPN the other night that Donaghy was one of four refs from a single high school in Pa. IMHO four refs from one HS does not happen if the NBA is looking for the best refs in the entire country. That kind of thing only happens if the NBA is picking refs based on “sponsorship” from guys already connected to the NBA. When that happens guys protect their sponsor and their sponsor protects them and job quality goes to $hit. It doesn’t matter anymore whether you can do the job or how well, it only matters who your friends are.

    Look at it this way, if a guy like Donaghy is going to influence a game, he is going to have to do it by making bad calls. If he adds ten points to the final score (see #51 above) he is going to have to make a minium of five bad calls and probably more like seven in a single game. The astounding thing is that this guy can routinely make five to seven bad calls in a single game and nobody notices for two years. He is not even considered a particularly bad ref.

  61. I next door to an agent that represents a couple Laker assistant coaches and he told me he talked to KG’s agent there was no way he was coming to LA because our front office is such a mess right now. He also said it was Jim Buss who blamed Kobe for the Shaq trade. Thought some of you guys would like to know.

  62. I think the word of the day (or word of the season) should be HEALTH. Last season we were healthy until that dreadful day in Houston at the start of the long road trip when Odom hurt his knee and it was all over from there with one injury after another.

    Before the Odom injury, we were 26-13 and had defeated the best teams in the league at home. I think we had even beaten the Spurs twice already by that point. We had the 5th best record in the NBA, people were talking about Kobe as a lock for MVP and NOBODY wanted to play the Lakers in the playoffs.

    Then the injury bug hit us hard and we never got back to that level.

    My point is that our 07-08 season depends on health and health alone. If we stay healthy, with the additions of Mihm and DFish, I think we can get back to where we were before the injuries. If we can maintain that level of consistency throughout the season, win a series or two in the playoffs, that might just be enough to convince Kobe to stick around. But if we have injuries again and fall apart again, then we should get ready to say goodbye to KB24 next summer.

    All together now…… HEALTH!!!!

  63. Renato (also Craig/Rico),

    Great comments! Let me explain in more detail

    Presenting objective information about referee performance may be the only way to restore confidence in the refs–and they’d make more money!

    What I’ve suggested is a process

    I’m not sure you’ve fully followed how this works, step by step.

    If a referee gets a call right, he gets a bonus. If he goes below the league standard, he’s gone. Any time a referee is challenged successfully, it counts against his accuracy as if he got two calls wrong.

    What’s going to happen? Maybe at first, nothing. But referees that call the little “ticky tack fouls” will inevitably make mistakes–and their bonus will go down. In worst case, THEY will go down. As bonuses go up, performance among the referees will become more and more similar.

    What’s will happen after the “shakeout”? The refs will call obvious fouls and avoid questionable calls–and make big bonuses. Their scores will become more and more similar–continuous process improvement–sometimes called “kaisan.” They won’t call as many fouls–and the game will go faster.

    Although I don’t think that this approach has been applied to basketball, it’s been applied to many many quality “systems,” and it always works.

    Making the stats available after every game will prove that refs have earned a bonus for a job well done. It will not be a basis for ridicule, but will be proof that they did it right. The data would strongly support the quality and integrity of each ref individually ahnd collectively.

    If a call is challenged, it could be reviewed by a “spare” referee in a booth serving as sole judge–not the game referees–with access to all available angles. He could be required to make a decision within one minute.

    Rico, I never suggested publishing detailed guidelines. I’d leave that between the evaluators and the referees

    Renato, you say, ” a bad call is part of the game,”
    If it is the last shot and a foul is called, it IS the game. If it seemed like a phantom foul, I’d need to be sure that the foul was real.

    Craig, in this system, the referee might be able to influence a few games with erroneous fouls–but it would cost him money. If he persisted, his error percentagehe would be too high–and he would be gone.

  64. BMcBurney,
    I do think it very ‘odd’ that 4 refs would come from the same high school. That said, I don’t think we can say what the NBA did or didn’t know over the last two years.

    It appears the FBI started this investigation over a year ago and the NBA may have been cooperating for that timeframe. We shouldn’t go and criticize them for not blowing the whistle sooner, because we don’t know what information was available. I do think we deserve an explaination ‘after the fact’ when the trial is all finished, but until then I think we have to avoid flying off the handle with criticism.

    More transparency when dealing with officials and their procedures is needed, but I don’t think the NBA owes us all their processes and records.

  65. I think it is more of a matter of consistency than accuracy when making calls in a basketball game. There are going to be missed fouls, or bad calls. Thats just part of the game. the game is at such a high pace that it is impossible to make every call correclyt. Also every foul should not be called. The refs just need to be consistent in what fouls are being called. For example, if they call a foul every time someone hand checks Wade (or says boo to him) then they need to call a foul every time anyone is hand checked.

    The players in the NBA have been playing basketball for a long time and quickly learn little tricks they can and can not get away with. If the referees are consistent in the way in which a game is called the players will quickly adjust to it. This creates a better flowing game.

  66. ryan,
    I agree that consistency across ALL players is the goal here, not the accuracy of each and every call.

    drrayeye,
    I am not sure that immediate reviews are the answer because they change the flow of the game and basketball is nothing, if not a game of flow. Think Phoenix with a foul clogged game and you can see what this could do.

    The question is how to review all calls without changing the game. I do like the idea of having reviews and dropping refs who are a measurable level below the average. We may have that system in place right now – the NBA just won’t define it for us (and won’t ever identify refs).

    I see the NBAs point about never identifing refs — we fans will never like refs because the will always penalize our teams 50% of the time. However, in the computer/internet age we collect, analyze, and distribute statistics on the most arcane topics continuously. The NBA has to recognize this and change their approach to reflect this change in the world. U-Tube and 82games have irrevocably changed how we look at the game and we are ever going back to the 90′s – sorry NBA. We need some ongoing proof that the refs are measured and some idea of what you are trying to measure.

    When there is a general consensus that there are rookie calls, star calls, perimeter calls, in-the-paint calls, etc. – while at the same time the NBA is standing behind statements like the game is to fast for us to explain everything, then the fishy smell is just too strong to continue.

    If the game is too fast to explain, then ALL calls should be consistent. NO MORE special circumstances for the stars – sorry Mr Stern, but your Michael Jordan’s will just have to live with being called for the same foul Jordan Farmar is called for.

  67. Renato Afonso July 26, 2007 at 8:32 am

    drrayeye,

    I lost games like that and won them as well… But phantom fouls are not the only way to change the outcome of a game. What about non-calls?

    A non-call could never be challenged and it has as much influence as a phantom call. One referee can have two standards of allowed roughness for each team playing, and yet never make a phantom call, but still deciding the outcome of a game.

    (if this wasn’t clear, forgive me, as this is not my mother-tongue)

    Challenges mean 1-minute TO each time one is made (that’s about 4 free TO for both teams)

    The evaluation is the only to get it fixed. However, allthough I think you shouldn’t make referee stats public, a quality grade should be made public (ref X got an A- for the season, ref Y got D- so he’s getting demoted), so that their quality is exposed to everyone! After all, they are professionals…

  68. As I grimace to see the likelihood of seeing the old team back next year, I have thought of several ideas for kicks. Lusting for KG, overpaying for JO and a beau for Pau now looks in worst shape as ever. As its been said many times, we will be better but by how much?…

    A trade with Minnesota

    Kwame Brown
    Brian Cook
    Sasha Vujacic
    – for –
    Trenton Hassell
    Mark Blount
    Mark Madsen

    Luke Walton is no NBA starter. I say he wins 6th man award by coming off the bench… Trent Hassell scraps for the loose ball, a good on-ball defender and a triangle kind a guy.

    Mark Blount is a 12-10-2 bpg guy who will be a beneficiary of plenty of kickouts. He has a mid range jump shot too.

    Mark Madsen and Ronny Turiaf make up as the new NBA pirates. An energy guy whose big biceps never seem to tire fouling Duncan and Shaq.

    As for the merits of the trade, I think Minny will appreciate the cap room provided by Kwame and Sasha’s expirings to think that the players they part with are 3 years under contract.

    Defensively is where we gain at. For illustration purposes, I place Blount and Hassell on the starting five.

    As for scoring, we do not have a problem with scoring.
    Kobe can average 32-5-5 at 8 per quarter, Odom can do the usual 18-10-4, Farmar can be the 8-2-8 guy with all the finishers in this team, Blount can be the 12-10-2bpg and Hassell can be the 6-4-4 guy and it does not matter.
    Off the bench we will have Fish, Evans, Walton and Bynum scoring 24 a night for a total of 100 with excellent defense.

    I say this is a winner.

  69. Ryan:

    What you advocate would be the results of the system I proposed: total systems quality is measured by consistency.

    Renato:

    You’re right. In my approach one can’t challenge a no call. But the officials can’t earn bonuses if they don’t make calls.

    Craig,

    Overall, the approach I support will lead to fewer fouls called than the present–helping the flow of the game. I wouldn’t expect that many challenges–except at the end of the game–which is radically broken up by timeouts anyway.

    One needs to have three stats about each ref: number of fouls called against each team and % correct.

    The first two are already available–just not by broken down by ref–but it could be further broken down just by looking at the game tape.

    The missing number would be the number of incorrect calls by team and ref. That should be no more than 1 or 2 in a game for any ref. Accuracy needs to be posted, because it appears that grading right now is not specific enough–it may even encourage certain types of unfairness and bias

    It would get rid of incompetence and cheating at the same time–and very quickly. Very very soon one would see very similar frequency and accuracy scores among prosperous looking refs counting their bonus money.

    As BMcBirney pointed out, Donaghy would need to make incorrect calls to influence the over/under. His calls on those games would stick out like a sore thumb in this system.