Thoughts On Kobe, Christmas and Defense

Kurt —  July 26, 2007

Not a lot of news to write about, but there are a couple things of note.

The first thing is over at Hoopshype.com (a site I visit regularly) myself, Brian Kamenetzky of the LA Times Lakers Blog, Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register (smart man, writes for the OC but lives in the South Bay) and Paul Hershenson of In The Refrigerator (great blog name) took part in their new “Bloggers corner,” basically doing a Q&A about Kobe and the Lakers. Here is one of my answers just as a tease:

4. What has been Mitch Kupchak’s biggest mistake during his tenure as the Lakers GM?

The easy answer here would be to say the Shaq trade, but I don’t think that falls on Mitch. It is clear Jerry Buss made the decision to make the trade, then Mitch got stuck having to do it fast to make sure Kobe didn’t jump to another team that free agency period. So he got what he could get.

I think his biggest mistake has been one of philosophy — the Lakers have simultaneously tried to build both to win now and for the long term. With Kobe at his prime, with Phil Jackson as the coach, the effort for the last few years should have been to build a contender fast and around Bryant, but some moves (such as an apparent desire not to trade Andrew Bynum) appear to be made with the longer term in mind. The front office (and the decision makers with the Lakers go beyond just Mitch — Jim and Jerry Buss both are involved, although its hard to tell how much) needs to chose one philosophy and go after it.

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One little bit of news is that the tired Kobe/Shaq showdown, er, Miami/Lakers Christmas Day game appears to be off the NBA schedule. Instead, it’s Heat/Cavaliers, creating the Wade/LeBron rivalry for your holiday viewing pleasure.

My thought — the second game that day needs to be Spurs/Suns or Suns/Mavericks. Because, if your goal with the Christmas Day game is go showcase the best, most exciting product the NBA has to offer, those are your three best teams. (We can get into the debate about Dallas and the playoffs if you want, but I think the Golden State loss was a matchup issue for the Mavs in a deep Western Conference. They are still a very good team.)

Do I really want to turn away from NFL football to watch the 86-82 shooting disaster that will be the Heat/Cavs game? Now, Phoenix and the Mavs, that would be entertaining. (Heck, how about Suns/Warriors?)

Bottom line, at least I can spend time with my family that day not trying to catch a Lakers game (and then watching it in detail on Tivo once everyone is asleep).

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If you haven’t seen the latest attempt at a comprehensive new attempt at a statistical measure for defense at 82games.com, do check it out. I think it’s a pretty good first draft of a measure, and it passes the laugh test. To use the Lakers as an example, it ranks Kwame Brown as the best Laker defender, and when you consider +/- is part of the equation that’s not a surprise because Kwame was the Lakers best interior defender last year. It also shows Farmar as a much better defender than Smush, which passes the eyeball test as well. Where if fails is having Mo Evans as one of the team’s worst, I think that had more to do with him playing with backups much of the time, but how to sort that out statistically is a challenge.

Still, well worth the read.

Kurt

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80 responses to Thoughts On Kobe, Christmas and Defense

  1. Kurt, I read the blogger’s corner, good stuff.

    I really think we can be much better this year if we stay healthy. I don’t think the KG deal is gonna go down this summer so we need to get over it. I just kinda hope that Indiana caves in and gives us JO for Bynum, Kwame and filler. I think with a lineup of Fish, Kobe, Luke, LO, and JO we would be way better. But if nothing happens.

    Before last season, Phil said that the difference between the Lakers being a good team and being a great team would be Kwame Brown. Two years later, Kwame has let us all down and we are only a good team. If we can get someone to contribute along with LO and Kobe, I think we can be a great team like Phil said. Kwame is not that guy, Bynum is not ready to be that guy.

  2. Here’s a personal concern re: Kwame. When he is motivated, he can be good, but everything I read (and read between the lines) about him is that he is an unfocused player and not passionate about the game or his game. That said, this year, a contract year, he may be focused. He may play well.

    What I don’t want is the Lakers to decide this Kwame is the real one and give him another three year deal. I think this year’s Kwame may be a fluke, not the real guy. The only upside is that if he does play well it makes him a better trading piece at the Feb. trading deadline.

  3. Kurt- I agree with your take on Kwame. Kwame will never be a good offensive player but when he wants to he can be good defensively. I think he will play better this year because it is a contract year which makes him a better trading piece.

    Skigi- I don’t think the Lakers can win with a front court of Odom (PF) and O’neal (C). That would be two players playing out of position. They would not have anyone that could play good man-on-man post defense. If the Lakers did a trade for O’neal without Odom being included they would have to pick up another big guy to share time at C with Mihm (if Mihm can play). PJ Brown has not signed anywhere but I do not know if he will sign for the vet min. But to get another big body the Lakers would have to make a trade soon before everyone signs with a team.

  4. ryan,
    I agree. Jo would not be able to hang in the west playing C. Mihm probably isn’t ready to step back into a starters role so we would probably have to pick up PJ Brown (like you say) or perhaps someone like Chris Webber?

    Odom at the 3, Jo at the 4

  5. I took a quick look at the defensive rating system. As Kurt indicated, the Lakers’ scores seem within the realm of reasonableness.

    But then I took a look at the Pistons’ scores. Tayshaun Prince got a 46 (i.e., slighly below average), while Chris Webber got a 75 (i.e., significantly above average). IMO, Tayshaun is one of the best defenders in the NBA, while Chris is in the bottom third, so the system definitely needs some tweaking.

  6. Renato Afonso July 26, 2007 at 1:16 pm

    I actually think Kwame COULD be that guy and I still believe it…

    Ok, this deserves an explanation…

    Like Kurt said, Kwame’s the best defender we have and he has proven it over and over again. Thing is, it doesn’t help being a good one-on-one and weak side defender if the rest of the team doesn’t follow. The team was forced to rotate due to penetrations from the wing and even worse from the opposing PG. Should that problem be addressed and we got a good defensive scheme going, and that was our main problem.

    Kwame will never make 16ppg, but he can put up 8 or 10 easily. You got 25 from Kobe and 16 from Odom. That’s 50 right there. You get around 30 from Jordan+Rad+Walton. So that’s 80 from the starting lineup+6th man. A couple of points from the bench and you can win EVERY game, starting on defense.

    So I say Kwame can still make us great, but only if Kobe, Jordan, Odom and Walton want to be great on defense as well.

  7. speaking of another big man here is a quote from C. Webber:

    “You gonna stay with Detroit? What’s going on with that? Chris Webber: I don’t know. I would love to. Right now I’m thinking about Detroit and Dallas, so you never know. Watch out for BShaw though he’s trying to get me in LA!” Slam

    here is the link to the quote on hoopshype

    http://www.hoopshype.com/rumors.htm

  8. Mannie Jenkins July 26, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    I think Miami/Chicago would have been the logical choice for the league. In addition to the rivalry coming from the two teams knocking each other out of the playoffs the last two years, the cynics among us might note that they might alsol get their precious Kobe/Shaq matchup…

  9. Renato,

    Very well stated. I’m still not sure that he always makes the right decisions consistently on defense or offense.

    I think Chris Mihm will not only take up more minutes and provide better offense, but will be able to be a better example for Kwame.

  10. Kurt- my vote for worst Kupchak moves, only the top 2, as I’m sure more will follow.

    1. shaq trade-not getting an all-star back and/or cap relief

    2. drafting brian cook- i’m not one of those people that do hindsight draft criticism. That night, June 2003 , Josh Howard (who was drafted 30th, Cook 23rd) was still on the board, and the reigning ACC (Mitch’s conference for good measure) Player of the Year. Would’ve really helped the team.

  11. I think someone mentioned this before but…

    Miami is looking to acquire a PG via trade. They are trying to get Alston from Houston. But maybe the lakers could offer Farmar or Critt + Vlad for Haslem. I doubt they would go for that but maybe if they couldn’t find anything better and the Lakers through in a draft pick.

    IF that trade happened the Lakers would have a true PF and could move Odom to SF.

  12. kwame,
    Just wanted to bring up the fact that when we drafted Cook, he wasn’t a 3 point shooter in his first season. It wasn’t until his second year in the league that we found out he could shoot threes. And now all he can do is shoot threes. So what did Mitch see in him when he drafted him?

  13. Ryan- I would love that deal, but Riles has made it pretty clear that Haslem isn’t going anywhere. If you think about it, after Wade, he is their only other young and proven talent.

    As to the point about moving Lamar to SF exclusivley, the Lakers still have two internal options. Start Mihm or Kwame at the 4, or preferably, start Ronny at the 4, Luke can still finish, and lead the second team.

    1st team
    Bynum
    Turiaf
    Odom
    Bryant
    Farmar

    2nd team
    Brown
    Cook/Vlad
    Walton
    Evans
    Fish

  14. 10. Kwame a., like I said I think it’s hard to blame Mitch much for the Shaq trade fiasco because of the time frame and situation he was given. for individual moves, I would still put the Caron for Kwame trade at the top, that was seriously overpaying for a not-very-good big.

  15. Renato Afonso July 26, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    Mitch’s worst move was the signing of Radman, for that salary. We needed 3pt range, but he’s not worth all that money.

    The Shaq trade, as Kurt stated, was necessary. Everyone in the league knew that the Lakers were in a bad spot, so he got what he could before losing them both.

    The Cook draft pick, although it wasn’t very good, can be explained. Who knew Josh Howard would turn out to be that good? It’s a lottery everytime.

    The Caron for Kwame was a longshot on trying to get some size and make us into a top tier team. It may still prove to be a right choice (or at least not a bad one).

  16. Brian Cook was the Big Ten player of the year and had carried the Illini that year. He was considered a good passer out of the post, looked best out of the high post (great for the triangle) and with a solid back-to-the-basket game for a college kid. He averaged 20 and 8 his senior year. The knocks were a question of desire (and I think he has that) and that he was a bit of a tweener. That may be accurate. I think the bigger question wasn’t drafting him but the second contract then signing Vlad.

  17. I completeley understand the Shaq trade was necessary. I guess my problems with Mitch are philosophical as well Kurt. Just on principal I would have demanded, absolutley demanded an all-star in return, but no need heading down that road.

    As far as Cook, it wasn’t neccessarily that Mitch got Cook, it’s that he passed on players based on, what I feel, is Mitch’s desire to draft ‘triangle adaptable players. Guys that he’s passed on Tay Prince, David West, J Howard, these guys were proven college players (just like Walton, Rush and Cook). Its just that he likes a certain style, but the last few drafts have been better, now free agent signings…

    Last, I actually didn’t disagree with Caron for Kwame. Those are the kind of moves that make you famous (or if your Mitch, misrerable). We needed size, he had potential, and there was a logjam at the 3, also, we werent gonna sign Caron

  18. 17. I thought Caron should have been traded, but I said then and still think he could have gotten more for him. Kwame was a gamble, but when JO was stuck on the bench in Portland you still knew he could play. I never felt that about Kwame.

  19. Kurt (19) I always knew Rodman was an alien. And Jordan for too for what it is worth. No human could hang that long in the air.

  20. 17 Kwame,
    At the time when we made the Shaq trade… Lamar was the all-star. He had a great year for them and was their leader as they made it to the second round of the playoffs. D-Wade was not D-Wade yet. So from the outside, Lamar looked like their best player at the time. Mitch’s problem is that as a GM and a talent scout, he should have known how good DWade could be.

  21. Yay, the NBA has finally let go of the Shaq-Kobe storyline! As long as the Lakers still max out on the nationally televised appearances allowed per team like they always do, I’m totally okay with them not being featured on xmas day. However, Cavs v Heat sounds like a snore of a game or, if this was before he got caught, a great opportunity for Donaghy to ensure the over! Sorry, too soon?

  22. 21- I may be wrong, but I thought the Lakers did ask for Wade but the Heat offered Lamar and Caron instead.

    ——
    http://realgm.com/src_checktrade.php?tradeid=4136774
    I know you guys look down on trade ideas, but this is the first and last time I ever propose one.

  23. I don’t mind not watching the overblown Kobe-Shaq game on x-mas this year, but I would still like to watch the Laker on x-mas. Even before the Kobe-Shaq game, we played on x-mas all the time. you guys remember when we broke out the white sunday jerseys for the first time on x-mas against the Rockets? Anyways, one of my favorite parts of x-mas day is to sit around the house and watch a hyped-up Lakers game. I hope the second game of the day is the first Lakers-Suns game of the season.

  24. Pat Riley has said that the Lakers did ask for Wade and he basically laughed at the idea. Riley wasn’t stupid enough to let him go for anything.

  25. kwame a,

    In regards to drafting Cook as a “triangle player” I agree to a certain extent. I think he, and to a lesser extent Luke Walton, were drafted because they were very complimentary to the Shaq-Kobe duo, which at the time of their drafting were expected to be together for quite a lot longer. You give Brian Cook open looks with a post guy who draws doubles all the time and he’ll kill ya. Since he can’t create his own shot he’s not so effective anymore.

  26. 24 – Agreed, having the Lakers play ANYBODY on Xmas would show that the NBA still considers them a big draw, which a strong showing by Kobe with Team USA (or a KG trade!) could ensure. The Rockets or Suns would be fun, but no white uni’s since Xmas is on a Tuesday this year.

  27. NEWS:

    word is Smusher just got 2-years $5 Mil from Miami. If true, please proceed to laugh maniacally.

  28. Mitch’s blunders extend up to extending Cook’s contract which now puts us in the luxury tax.

    As for Haslem, should Miami decide to swap him for a PG, how about Farmar, Sasha and Cook for Haslem? We get to dump the Cookie Monster…

  29. Kurt,

    re 82 games,

    How can one evaluate defense when points scored is the dependent measure?

    +- is only partially correlated with defense.

    Take an extreme case–sort of like UCLA games sometimes.

    Our team switches, stays in front of the opponents, beats them to their spots–and they score 4 in the first quarter–we score 10. I’m in the game in the secord quarter, and they score 10–we score 10. Your team scores 50 in the first quarter, the opponents score 50. You’re the only new player in the game the second quarter. Your team scores 50 again–but the opponents ONLY score 40. According to +-, you are better than me on defense, and the best defender on your team.

    . . .Well, maybe you are, but not because of points.

    It is the consistent misuse of bogus statistics like this that prevents recognized defensive players like Ron Artest from getting a great salary, that makes players like Chauncy Billups wait many years, that gets Jason Kidd traded–and leads teams to give outrageous salaries to players with offensive stats–I’m sure you can think of some names–and later buy them out of their contracts so they can be released.

  30. The biggest failure of Mitch is not addressing the lack of talent from role players during the championship run, the pgs and pfs especially. After that, it’s even worse.

  31. The defensive rankings could use a wee bit of tweaking.
    LeBron James was the 19nth best defender in the League? (Laughing hysterically….)

  32. (28) I’ve sent out queries to a friend who knows Smush. No suerte. I’ve also been Googling around. I’ve seen no hint that Smush has been offered anything–except possibly in Greece.

    The Nets and the Heat have both apparently mentioned Smush as a possibility–down a long list. Fans are urging their team to select someone soon–or else they might be stuck with Smush Parker!

    If Smush really got $2.5 million from the Heat for two years, it would be a happy ending to an otherwise tragic situation.

    Keep that NEWS coming.

  33. The Lakers had some sort of plan to win now, but that involved playing Lamar at the SF, and exploiting mismatches. This has never come to fruition. Why? A lot of reasons. But one of them is that Kwame is too lame to learn the PF position. The PF should be his natural position in terms of his body type and athleticism. Furthermore, the PF position in the triangle is ideal for a guy who defends and rebounds but doesn’t provide much offense. If Kwame really cared about winning, he would spend his summer learning that position.

    Next issue, Luke could be a great sixth man. Again, solved by playing Lamar at the SF.

    Lastly, short of the unlikely prospect of finding a lock down defender at the PG poistion, perimeter defense problems could be partially dealt by freeing Kobe up to put more energy into defense. How do you this? Don’t play him 45 minutes a game. Find a top tier back up 2 guard. A lot easier than finding a PG. In fact, maybe we shouldn’t have wasted the MLE on snowboard man, and used it on backup 2. It’s the little things Mitch!

    So short of a big move. Here’s my proposal. Trade Vlad for a legit backup 2 and try Kwame again at te 4. Here’s how it looks:

    PG: Fish/Farmar/Crit
    SG: Kobe/ legit backup 2
    SF: Odom/Walton
    PF: Kwame/Turiaf
    C: Bynum/Mihm

    I think that team wins more games than last year’s.

  34. Paul S,

    I see your point… but Kobe wouldn’t settle for less than 40 mpg. And who would you see as a legit backup 2 with a real chance of being traded to us?

  35. Has anyone seen USA white vs. blue? Mike Miller torched the nets… and they were legit NBA threes in distance. He had around 6.

    Might Memphis part with him? I mean, its one department we hardly had any last year.

    Cook, Sasha, Kwame and 08 1st for Miller and Swift ?
    Its hardly a deal other than the fact that Memphis might want to get rid of Mike Miller’s long contract and gain a draft pick in exchange. Swift can play PF and C.

  36. 36. Memphis has no plans to part with Miller, he is a great fit for them.

  37. 30. Right now there is no statistical system that accurately measures defense, and I don’t even think Jon Nichols would argue that this is perfect (in fact, on the APBR boards he admits it has flaws). +/- stats are flawed as well because it says as much about the person you replace (or the person that replaces you) as it does your game. Personally, I think opponent shooting % and opponent PER are better measures, although they are flawed as well. Right now, defensive numbers are a nice place to start but the “eyeball test” still is the best way to measure defense.

    That said, I think the next great basketball statistical frontier is on defense. My guess is that a system coming out of film review (where points or shots are more accurately assigned to the person responsible) would be the best system. Maybe (likely) some teams are doing that, but that’s more work that you or I have time for. So, I support the search for a more accurate but more simplistic solution.

  38. Hi Kurt,

    I can’t think of a good individual measure for defense, but I can think of a good starting point for team defense that would be linked to opportunities rather than points per se. One could record:

    1. # of times in a game that the other team didn’t get take (or get) a shot in a possession.

    2. # of uncontested shots.

    3. opponents offensive rebounds/defensive rebounds

    4. successful (score or foul shot attempt)/ unsuccessful (no shot, turnover)

  39. Here is an article claiming Smush agreed to a two-yr deal with the heat.

    The Heat concluded its nearly month-long search for a veteran point guard Friday when it agreed to terms with guard Smush Parker, two sources said. Parker started most of the past two years for the Lakers before losing his starting job late last season.

    Parker, 26, is believed to have agreed to a two-year contract for a portion of the Heat’s $5.35 million mid-level exception. The deal is contingent on Parker passing a physical on Monday.

    heres the link
    http://www.miamiherald.com/416/story/184682.html

  40. The Sun-Sentinel has it to, two years for half the MLE.

    He should fit in perfect there after watching the Heat’s defense last year.

  41. *laughs maniacally*

  42. I wish Smush the best. It should be interesting to see Smush battle for the starting spot, and to see if he sulks if he does not win it.

  43. “Ok we have a PG here who made about $800,000 last year and he stunk up the joint so bad that the city turned on him, the coaches turned on him, he got benched with 2 games left before the playoffs, got torched in his few minutes in the playoffs, and on top of that he has an attitude problem… Let’s give him $5million dollars, he’s earned it!”

    – Pat Riley

  44. I think we should wish Smush the best. I will, however, wait for the time he has to guard Kobe – or even Farmar.

    The Miami article said he was an ‘above average’ 1-on-1 defender. I am sure they weren’t looking at all the games we were. We just have to make sure he misses that 1st steal attempt.

  45. The Heat are known for taking back egomaniacs and making it work (Jwill, Toine). Lets see if Eddie Rush brings his A game this next season.

  46. I do wish Smush well. And I do think he could be an effective backup coming in behind a star PG in a more open system. But the Heat are now counting on Smush and Jason Williams out top?

  47. I don’t know what will happen to the Smusher in Miami, but it appears that he is being treated better than in LA. Given that Jason Williams is as healthy as he claims, Smush will come in as a backup this year–with a chance to start the next year.

    It is ironic that he is, in effect, a replacement for Gary Payton–who we also ditched. It is also interesting that Miami, almost aping the Lakers, went through similar signing failures to end up with the Smusher.

    His signing is very much consistent with Kurt’s analysis all along.

    We’ll see whether or not the Heat fans turn into Smushaphobes or Smushaholics.

  48. Regarding Mitch and B. Cook,

    Barbosa, Howard and Carlos Delfino were all selected after Brian Cook. Udonis Haslem and Quinton Ross weren’t selected at all. If everyone had a “do over” Howard and Barbosa would have been picked much higher than they were and, yes, they would be picked higher than Cook. Right. True. Everyone agrees.

    But if the whole league had a “do over” Brian Cook would probably be picked higher too. Reece Gaines, Zoran Planinic, Troy Bell, and Alexander Pavlovic, among others, were selected ahead of him. Zarko Cabarkapa was selected number 17 overall that year by the Suns and everybody is supposed to think Coangelo is a genuis. And as others have already pointed out, Kupchack was trying to find players to “fit in” with what was already a championship level team, not looking for the overall best player available. What were Barbosa and Howard going to bring to the 2003 Lakers when what they needed was a spot up shooter (especially at PF) to free Shaq? You can argue the pick should have been Kapono but you would have to have known more than it was possible for the Lakers FO to know at that time to pick Barbosa or Howard.

    And taking a look at the more recent drafts it is harder to find anybody better than Bynum & Farmar for value where they were picked. If you did a “do over” of last year’s draft Farmar is probably a lottery pick. Bynam might be the first overall, certainly he would be no worse than six overall.

    Overall, Mitch K’s draft record is pretty good. IMHO it is difficult to find more than two or three NBA GMs who did better with what they had.

  49. Mike in the Mountain West July 27, 2007 at 4:01 pm

    Kurt,

    What other choice did they have? There wasn’t anyone left.

  50. Aren’t Jannero Pargo and Brevin Knight still available?

  51. Renato Afonso July 27, 2007 at 4:11 pm

    All the luck in the world for Smush… That’s my wish at least.

    Kurt,

    Defensive stats are in fact seriously flawed and one can’t even begin to measure it with numbers. How many times just being in the right place on the weak side prevents an uncontested basket from someone? How many passes are thrown badly because of it? How many times the opposing player simply doesn’t shoot?

    for example: let’s say that due to no effort on the defensive end, one player always starts running on the break even before his team capturing the rebound. Their team gets the ball and makes a long pass… easy dunk, right? Let’s say the guy makes 4 layups per game, with 4 or 6 FT’s and one contested basket. That’s a 16 point game. But the guy played 40 mins with a defensive pest on him who made him take 5 bad shots until he stopped believing he could score and the guy just started rebounding and passing the ball.

    So, 50% FG, 16 points, 4 or 5 rebs with a couple of assists. And yet, the guy guarding him did a great job on the defensive end and organized half-court game. Numbers are often misleading, even the improved stats…

    Intangibles are still unmeasurable, and defeense has so many of them…

  52. 50. There was no good choice for Miami, but I don’t envy their fans this season. Because of Shaq and wade they will get mentioned as contenders, but that roster is not impressive.

  53. I agree with #34′s comment about needed to move Lamar back to SF. It seems lately all the trade and line-up scenarios here have Lamar (if still here) at the 4 and someone like O’Neil or Gasol at the 5. I have been hoping, despite the concerns, that the front office can pull off the O’Neil trade to use him at his natural position (PF) and use Odom at the 3. The reports make it sound like Mihm is healthy, and we could pick up another big body to compete at the 5 for the vet min or what is left of the MLE (maybe PJ Brown or Melvin Ely). For all the talk against bringing in O’Neil (it’s a lateral move, doesn’t improve the team much), it sounds to me like we could have a very dangerous line up. O’Neil can play the 4 and not get banged around that much and concentrate on defense, Lamar can create mismatches at the 3 as well as control the offense more, and Luke can lead the second team. Sure, we would be a little week at the 5, but I would hope that the strength at the forward positions could make up for it. I really hope the FO is still working on this trade with Indiana for Bynum, Kwame, and whatever else they want (Cook, Vlad, Sasha, draft picks). Maybe then we would have roster room to bring in the Carl kid and groom him as a 3-point specialist.

  54. From the ESPN blurb about Smush signing w/ the Heat:

    “Parker helped guide the Los Angeles Lakers to the playoffs in each of his two seasons as their starting point guard. They were over the salary cap and didn’t try to re-sign him.”

    I don’t think the cap had much to do w/ Smush not being back. It should have said: “After losing confidence in consecutive playoffs against the Suns and pouting through a demotion to a rookie, the Lakers decided to go in another direction, away from Smush Parker.” I wish Smush the best, he played well in spurts for us, but it was definitely time for the Lakers to move on.

  55. BMcBurney,
    I really like your analysis. I came to a similar conclusion about Mitch’s ability to draft well, but didn’t defend it with the statistics you used. Thanks again!

    Where Mitch does need help (criticism?) is in his free agent choices/contracts and overvaluing existing players (Sasha and Cook). I do understand why he signed Rad – and basically agree – buy in combination with the Cook extension it makes no real sense and is the primary reason for our luxury tax problems today.

    Mitch’s ability to draft, but problems with free agents is one of the reasons I am for standing pat this summer and see how these, now experienced, players develop this year.

    Curiously another GM with Mitch’s strengths and weaknesses seems to be Thomas in NY.

  56. MIAMI — Free-agent point guard Smush Parker signed Friday with the Miami Heat, his seventh team since turning pro in 2002.

    The deal came after the Heat failed to land several other point guards they pursued, including Mo Williams, Steve Francis and Steve Blake.

    “We feel very good about acquiring Smush,” coach Pat Riley said in a statement. “He brings size, shooting and defense to our backcourt. He has been improving every year, and we feel that this could be his best year yet.”

    Parker helped guide the Los Angeles Lakers to the playoffs in each of his two seasons as their starting point guard. They were over the salary cap and didn’t try to re-sign him.

    He played in all 164 games the past two seasons, averaging 11.3 points, 3.2 assists, 1.6 steals and 32 minutes.

    Parker is one of four players with at least 110 steals and 110 3-point field goals in each of the past two seasons. Gilbert Arenas, Kobe Bryant and Jason Kidd are the others.

    Parker went undrafted in 2002 and was with Cleveland, Atlanta, Charlotte, Detroit and Phoenix before joining the Lakers.

    “We are excited to bring Smush to Miami,” Heat general manager Randy Pfund said. “He’s a talented young player who brings good size and athleticism to our point-guard position. Smush has been the starting point guard of a playoff team the past two seasons, and we believe he has his best years ahead of him.”

  57. PHOENIX — Suns guard Raja Bell had surgery on his right knee and will sidelined four to six weeks.

    The arthroscopic surgery was performed Thursday. Team physician Dr. Tom Carter said Bell had mild wear and tear of his kneecap. The doctor said Bell’s play should not be limited after the four-to-six week period.

  58. BMcBurney,
    Actually,Howard would have made just as much sense as Cook that yr. Fox was getting old,George could never stay healthy and adding some youth who could score and defend at the wing would have a major need.But hindsight usually is 20/20.

    The defensive rankings seem to overly reward players on good defensive teams and the +/- can also severely penalize good defenders. For as extreme example-using totally made up numbers-say the Lakers are +10 points w/Kobe on floor and -8 when he’s off. They play Suns and Raja Bell guards Kobe.When Kobe goes out of game,Bell goes out,Kobe in,Bell in. Kobe and Bell play 43 minutes. Kobe goes 10-32,w/3 threes and 7-8 FTs,Bell goes 3-6,2 threes and 2-2 FTs. While Kobe’s on floor Lakers outscore Suns by 4,while he’s resting the Suns went on a couple of miniruns and outscored the Lakers by 12. Bell forced Kobe into 31% shooting,held him to 4 pts below his ave,and shaved 6 pts off Kobe’s on floor +/-. Yet Bell’s individual +/- is -20,and his team +/- is -2. Imagine this happening to Bell 16-18 times matched up against Kobe,Carmelo,T-Mac,LeBron,Wade,Pierce,Allen. He does great defensive jobs yet the +/- will not show it at all.

  59. “He brings size, shooting and defense to our backcourt.”
    -Pat Riley on Smush

    Hahahahahahaha.

  60. In honor of Miami’s desperation, here’s my personal ode to Smush’s time with in purple and gold:
    http://westcoastbasketball.blogspot.com/2007/07/i-miss-you-when-youre-around.html

  61. Well done, chopperdave!

    I can almost see your personal transformation from a Smushaholic to a Smushaphobe.

  62. I enjoyed the ode to Miami chopperdave… props to you.

    I must agree, Smush will make it to another team’s backup and he did. What is worse than Smush guarding Steve Nash w/ the pick-n-roll is his new contract with 2 yrs 5M. Thats just plain rip-off. I could understand if it happened in New York, but coming from Riley, I never imagined Miami was THAT desperate. Fair price for me would have been 1-1.5M tops.

    Since this “we need a PG” search of Miami begun, I have always entertained the thought of another LA-Miami trade. Though others might contest that until Shaq and Kobe are with their respective teams, no trade will happen in between the 2 teams, I have found it ironic to trade with them once more now that Smush is in.

    Farmar + Radmanovic + Sasha
    – for —
    Haslem + Daequan Cook

    And once more, Farmar will trump Smush for the job. LOL.

  63. CONTADOR WILL WIN THE YELLOW JERSEY!!! What an amazing effort by all three of the riders in the general classification (Alberto Contador, Cadel Evans, and Levi Leipheimer). Good God I need a shower now.

  64. Well done Chopperdave!

  65. Is Riley trying to ger fired?

  66. Renato Afonso July 28, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    Haslem isn’t leaving Miami anytime soon :(

  67. Stephen,

    All I can say is that going into the 2003 draft, I don’t remember small forward being a Laker problem area. As it turned out, I agree, Fox did not recover very well from his injury in the 2003 playoffs but George did play very well that year and the next. I don’t remember George missing a lot of time up to that point.

    But even if you knew SF was going to be a problem and knew Howard was going to be good, the Shaq teams still had a fundamental need for shooters to spread the floor and give Shaq room to work. Teams constantly double teamed Shaq and usually tried to double with a PF, in part, because Horry couldn’t shoot reliably and Madsen couldn’t shoot at all. Remember, the last Laker play of 2003 was Horry missing a wide open shot against the Spurs. I assume the idea of picking Cook was that he would get Madsen’s minutes and keep opposing power forwards out of Shaq’s face. I don’t think you can say that was obviously wrong.

  68. thanks for the props Chopperdave. I really should stop using anon as my sn for this blog, but I’m pretty used to it by now. anyway, credit where credit is due, the actual source was from a realGM miami messageboard post. how he got his info? no friggin’ idea.

    - rune

  69. I like all of the 14 players on the current Lakers roster. I like the balance. And the Lakers will try very hard to maintain the balance that they have.

    I’m sure that they want to trade, but from strength.
    That means they need to prove the value of certain key players while establishing the rotations they want to use for the entire season ASAP. At least for the first month, I expect them to use a long rotation–but that still leaves 4 out (if it is a 10 player rotation).

    Here’s who I think should be the rotation at the beginning of the season:

    C Brown/Mimh
    PF Odom/Turiaf
    SF Walton/VladRad
    PG Farmar/Fisher
    SG Bryant/Evans

    That leaves out :

    C Bynum
    PF Cook
    SG Vujasic
    PG Crittendon

    It is very possible that Cook will be in the rotation rather than Turiaf for many reasons. I hope not. He will certainly get spot assignments.

    If the Lakers give up on a trade, Bynum will play more. Otherwise, maybe 5-10 minutes.

    Sasha may get spot asignments to work both guard positions (with Fish)

    Crittendon may get key opportunities to work with Fish

    Injuries may solve the rotation issues right away!

    What do you think?

  70. I have another proposal thought of… pls see:

    http://warrenweelim.multiply.com/

  71. I feel the following two Washington players are too weak to lose what you are proposing: Brendan Haywood & Nick Young

    Nick Young was drafted too high, in my opinion, and I think he will be a 2nd string, spot player with little defensive ability and a blockable shot. Brendan Haywood is the next thing to a bust at this time. Kwame & Brendan didn’t work well together before and I suspect they won’t be any better now.

  72. Warren (71),

    Good job and congrats on your site! It helps to put many of your FB&G posts in context–and they fit together well. I think that your cap space arguments, using Rashard Lewis as an example, are especially powerful.

    Your cap space value thinking may lead you to create trade scenarios that pose other problems. Just as a technical matter, the more players included in any trade, the less likely that the trade will happen. With multiple agents pulling in different directions, adding caveats here, and contingencies there, conflicting details can destroy even the most solid deal.

    Adding a third team radically escalates the difficulty of any deal. Adding a fourth makes it virtually impossible.

    The biggest issue cap arguments face involves the development of players–especially centers. Drafting late and trying to make up for it in trades won’t work forever–and not at all for centers. If they are reasonably good, they are picked and locked away for life (i.e. Yao Ming). Everyone else is picked and locked up–just in case.

    Cap guys are upset that the good guys get too much pay, and they want to trade the young ones as soon as they develop value.

    Stats rarely meet salaries.

    It used to be that guys like Kareem and Bill Walton–not to mention Wilt–came out of college and made contributions almost immediately. But they had played their full college eligibility and were 22 years old when they entered the league. They hadn’t played too many college games, and they had time to learn fundamentals.

    Not any more–not often.

    Andrew Bynum didn’t even play many games in high school! Assuming that Andrew has the potential of Kareem (an awfully strong assumption), and assuming that he needs similar development (a very reasonable assumption), he’s got another year before he “graduates” from college–with very limited pro time to really work on the basics he would have learned. Then, he would be ready to get into the complexities of the pro game.

    The injury realities of last year forced Andrew to learn a more meat-and-potatoes version of the center position “on the job.” He’s probably done better than anyone could have expected.

    The Lakers currently have 3 (count ‘em) high first round picks at center in their roster. Mihm and Brown are finally at the age when they should be showing their stuff. Bynum finally has some real players that are further along to learn from. It’s “value add” time for all the bigs.

    Combining “value add” with your cap management approach is the biggest opportunity to improve the Lakers by trade this season.

    Right now, the only one with added value is Andrew Bynum. Kwame’s current subjective value is a negative (against his salary), and Chris’s value is neutral. It is my expectation (and the Lakers) that both Kwame and Chris will improve their value.

    It would be easiest to trade Bynum, since he has garnered a whole year of invaluable experience. The Lakers seemingly were willing to package him with Kwame or Odom for a superstar.

    Other teams laughed when Kwame’s name was mentioned. If their mirth is justified, the Lakers still have a dangling expiring contract to trade–or $9 mil of cap space to drop off next year.

    Though other teams were more polite about the other injured “bigs,” they may have still been laughing on the inside. The Lakers are hoping that by October, they will laugh no more.

    Not only Kwame, but Chris, VladRad, and Lamar will all be healthy.

    Watch them get paraded ASAP.

    The Lakers have already planted the seeds, added some fertilizer, did some fumigating and spraying, training of the vines, and timely watering. It’s time to watch those pumpkins grow.

    Then you can trade them for a pot of gold!

  73. Ouch:
    http://sports.aol.com/fanhouse/2007/07/29/as-smush-parker-leaves-town-he-takes-a-shot-at-kobe/

    I might have to go back and make that Smush piece a little less positive. Just kidding, you can’t really blame him, I’d probably be excited to be chilling in Miami with Wade and Shaq (for non-basketball related purposes) as well.

    Glad you guys enjoyed post.

  74. I could be wrong but I don’t think that trading kwames expiring will bring us under that cap… I think (and I could be wrong) that we are around 68 Mil for this season and the cap is what 56?.. it would bring us closer to being under the cap but unless we send kwame and lamar then we will not be able to offer any “superstar” free agents the kind of money that they want at least not now.

  75. Chopperdave, let’s flashback.

    I can see the Laker brain trust watching Pat Riley celebrating an NBA championship and saying:

    “We’ve been had.”

    I can see Jerry Buss looking the others and saying,

    “How do we get even?”

    I can see Mitch saying,

    “Well, we could always sign the Smusher and make him our starting point guard–then release him so that Miami would think they were stealing him from us.”

    “And what would happen?”

    “Well, we wouldn’t do so well for a few years.”

    “And then?”

    “Smush would be a virus in their system and they’d totally melt down.”

    “let’s do it!”

    That’s what all the Miami blogs will be reporting in a couple of months. It’s not true. You heard it first here.

    Here are some things to look for in Miami:

    The look on Shaq’s face when Smush telegraphs his first inlet pass and the other team intercepts–or it sails out of bounds.

    The look on Shaq’s face later in the season when he fully realizes the limitations of Smush, the passer.

    The look on Shaq’s face when Chucky Atkins blows by “you know who” and converts a teardrop.

    The look on Smush’s face if he spends most of the time on the bench.

    The look on Riley’s face if Smush spends most of the time in the game.

  76. So much for KG…

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=2954127

    It was too good to be true to think that KG would come to LA, especially given the ex-Celtic GMs dealing with each other as well as Minnesota’s reluctance to trade KG to a Western team. We’ll see if this deal fully goes through…but if it does, the Celtics will be legit for the next 3-4 years…

  77. 76- If you read the Celtics blogs none of the fans like the idea of trading Jefferson. They think they are overpaying to get Garnett, that the team will be gutted. Besides that can they trade 4 players for 1? Would they still have 13 players under contract?

    I don’t know how realistic this is unless KG waives his trade kicker. I guess we will just have to wait and see if it happens.

  78. Yeah, $60 million for 3 players…we’ll see what other supporting cast members they can 1) keep and 2) obtain through free-agency. If they have to give up Rondo and Telfair, who will play point for them? Also, Garnett’s monster contract just makes it impossible from a personnel standpoint to do much, he consumes so much of your cap. If he does go to Boston, I guarantee he’s not going to ‘opt out’ there and play for the MLE, he’s going to insist on a long term extension which will mean Boston will be majorly capped out with three 30-something year old players for a long time…

  79. Oh Drrayeye….looks like Smush got a deal, and Pau is still in Memphis, guess Smush gets the last laugh though, 5 mill is a lot. The way I look at it, Riles won’t play him if he doesn’t play D. I think he’ll do well there, he reminds me of Keyon Dooling, with a better shot, and Keyon had a good season next D-Wade.