Fast Break Thoughts

Kurt —  August 1, 2007

Thoughts while trying to figure out how I would react if I were in the crowd when Barry Bonds broke the record…..

• A quick thought on the Lakers giving Coby Karl a non-guaranteed contract — good on him. The young man has been through more than I can imagine and clearly worked hard to get everything he could out of his game. Unless there are roster shakeups (or major injuries) in the Lakers future Karl will not be with the team opening day, but hopefully the time in camp will help him land a good spot in Europe, or at least the D-League. I want to see the kid do well.

• Hey, I watch games involving Eastern Conference teams. Well, at least half a game since by the time I get home from work its halftime in New York. So it’s not totally out of place for Henry at True Hoop to throw me in there with people who actually know stuff talking early Eastern previews. (I like what Boston did, but I’ll still take the Bulls to come out of the East.)

• It’s an interesting question that the smart Smushaphobe Drrayeye brings up about Boston — how do the big three coexist? My gut feel is that these guys are veterans whose “I’m the man, I need the ball” egos are not those of some 25 year old trying to prove his worth. I think they and their games will meld pretty well. The problem that now faces the Boston GM — the Celtics player I hated most during his days in green — is getting decent role players in the fold. Rondo and Perkins start right now, and the bench is horrid and short. There are a few decent free agents on the market (and now Troy Hudson) and the C’s still have their MLE, so maybe that’s a start.

• By the way, I borrowed Drrayeye’s Smushaphobes line (with credit, of course) in an email with a Heat blogger about Smush.

• Everything you ever wanted to know about bloggers but were afraid to ask.

• August is the time I try to make modifications to this Web site, so there will be some changes to the sidebar and more. I know one common request is for links from the site to jump to a new window/tab. That we should be able to do pretty easily. I’m open to other suggestions as well.

• Update: The Blowtorch has a picture and short preview of Crittenton up. Funny, I thought he was taller.

to Fast Break Thoughts

  1. the other Stephen August 1, 2007 at 1:15 pm

    You should get someone to draw those little bobbleheads for the team. The same kind as the ones Natalie puts up at Need4Sheed.


  2. Can you fix the HTML so the site isn’t broken in I.E.


  3. I thought I fixed the IE problems, sorry. Are others experiencing that? (I don’t have IE at work to check.)


  4. It’s broken at work on I.E. 6 and at home on I.E. 7, though at home I just use firefox, but that’s not an option at work. I’m not complaining, I love the site, just figured you’d want to fix it.


  5. kurt,
    I’m still experiencing the IE format errors… I sent you a screen shot a month or 2 ago.


  6. Rico, 33, I thought I had solved the problem but clearly I haven’t. My bad. It will be a priority over the next few days.


  7. Hi-

    I tried contacting you through email but am unsure if it reached you. Anyway, I see you have lots of NBA blog links on the side and I’m developing a Bucks blog at

    I enjoy reading your blog and have it linked on mine.

    Please let me know if you’re interesting in linking mine.




  8. Yup site is formatted wierd for me also in IE…looks great in Safari

    Was at the game last night…309PL Row A….was hoping Bonds would hit 2 that night…the 2nd being straight to me n( I know he dosent hit to left to often but I could hope)…so I could throw it back!!!! (heck no I’d sell it…but I’d brought another ball to throw back).


  9. Kurt,

    Thanks for the “Smushaphobe” credit. Let’s pray for the Heat fans!

    In Derek Fisher’s radio interview yesterday, he made the point that building championship teams take time. It is a process that can’t be rushed. He said that he was not personally uncomfortable with where the Lakers were at this time. I’m not either.

    Obviously, that viewpoint is in marked contrast to the recent actions of the Celts. See my comment in the previous thread (#70).


  10. the other Stephen August 1, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    hahaha. i’m digging the blowtorch link. there are still some questions in my mind as to why joakim noah looks something like a cross between little richard and the abominable snowman, why spencer hawes’ head is so rectangular, and why al horford’s is so fatty.


  11. Smush Parker was an interesting and ultimately disappointing experiment. I never really found myself choosings sides in the Smushaholic vs. Smushaphobe battle, though my fellow fans often lumped me in with the Smushaholics because of my frequent Smushaphobe rebuttals.

    I think Kurt basically has Smush nailed in his email to the Heat blogger. He wasn’t brought on to be the starter, but he was asked to be one when we were left with little other choice. It was a bad position for him to be in. It only turned into a worse situation as time went on. He was a starter that only had enough juice to come off the bench, and he performed as such. That in turn led to animosity amongst fans, which led to Smush becoming the scapegoat for all that was wrong with this team (and that happens to be my biggest beef with Smushaphobes). Here’s a starter who has no business starting that’s getting absolutely destroyed in the papers, on the radio, in blogs, and on message boards night in and night out. It’s enough to drive a man to drink.

    Then payday comes.

    Sasha Vujacic, Aaron McKie, and Shammond Williams all have bigger checks and are asked to do basically nothing. They get their fair share of flak, but nothing compared to the dungheap dumped over Smush’s head on a daily basis. After two years of this, I’m actually surprised it ended as calmly as it did (Kobe’s tirade notwithstanding).

    Now here’s where I agree with DrRayEye and the Smushaphobes. All of those events are not an excuse for how he conducted himself. His game did not improve one iota while he was here other than becoming somewhat more familiar with the triangle. His defense was poor, but the overall lack of team defense really magnified his deficiencies. That said, he did nothing to improve those deficiencies that I’m aware of. He continued to gamble, get burnt, then not recover. The effort was never put forth, and that just fed the hate-fire. He never fully accepted the challenge of the position he was given, and alienating himself from his teammates along with a perpetually poor attitude cost Smush the benefit of the doubt from fans and eventually his job with the Lakers.

    All that said, I still maintain that Smush was unfairly burdened with blame for this team’s performance. He was a cog in the machine to be sure, but a very small cog that became a focal point partly by his own doing and partly by an impatient fanbase with unrealistic expectations of him.

    When others suggested Smush would be lucky to find a job in the D-League or perhaps at a car wash, I tried my best to tell people that they were wrong. Smush was going to get another job in the NBA with a team that was either desperate or looking to shore up their guard corps. The Heat were both of those things. And here we sit today with Smush signing a contract worth triple what he was being paid by the Lakers and less than half the expectations, which is probably the ideal situation for him.


  12. great post exick

    also, it didn’t take that Miami team of only two seasons ago much time to figure it out. 1 season and they incorporated Posey, Payton, Walker, Williams and Zo into their Championship run.


  13. For all those of you who think its OK for the Lakers to Stand PAT read this ( I just Hope Mitch would read it as well)
    John Hollinger states

    But one thing remains constant: Standing pat is a formula for failure. In a business in which careers tend to be brief, it’s imperative to constantly bring in new blood. Just ask the Miami Heat, who were so giddy about winning a championship in 2006 that they brought back the same roster last season — and watched their aging crew fail to win a single playoff game in one of the weaker title defenses in league history

    PS. Please dont respond with the derek fisher signing as a defense. We have not done anything!!! draft picks dont count either. or resigning your own free agents. We need new Blood.


  14. I did ask a question in the previous thread…

    Is Bynum + Crittenton + Expirings (Kwame+Sasha) enough to convince a fully-rebuilding team to let go of their star?

    Throw in a filler and an 09 draft pick and that would legitimately be a deal already.


  15. 15. The 2005-2006 Heat and the 2006-2007 Lakers involved totally different situations, the Heat were old and the Lakers are young. To argue that the Lakers need to do something, ANYTHING, just because “it’s imperative to constantly bring in new blood” is itself a formula for failure, just ask Knicks fans.

    More to the point, the Lakers can stand pat and still be a better team next year. To be better, the Lakers just need for one of two things to happen, 1) Andrew Bynum needs to continue improving and/or 2) the Lakers need to be healthy.

    If the Lakers are healthy, then they have a legit shot at being a 4 or 5 seed in the West b/c that’s what they were last year when healthy. If the Lakers are healthy AND Bynum continues to develop, then who knows…

    To paraphrase Rick Pitino, Keven Garnett’s not walking through that door next year, so mixing things up just for the sake of mixing things up isn’t the solution.


  16. G>

    Let’s take a look at that saying a little more closely. While I can respect the amount of work Hollinger does – he puts a lot of time into his work, but often times when it comes to make predictions or putting an argument out there, he is quite lacking.

    Every team starts somewhere; yes. Every team picks up a few pieces to get where they need to go, yes. But “new blood” and blowing up what we have to make a change doesn’t work either. There are countless examples of recent teams who constantly do that; Timberwolves, the Celtics, the 76ers, the Knicks, the Pacers – all of those teams have, in the recent past, blown up their nucleus year after year.

    The key to NBA success – the method for creating the foundation and building blocks for a successful team seem to be this. Not necessarily CHAMPIONSHIPS, but successful teams.

    1) Getting two or three guys that are some of the very best at what they do.
    2) Getting players that compliment and fill the void in each other’s games.
    3) Surrounding those building blocks with other members who make valuable contributions to the team.

    These holes can be filled in a variety of ways.

    1) The Draft – taking players who have the potential to step into the shoes of their predecessors, filling the roles that are needed. This is clearly the more chaotic route of the three, since you are getting an unknown quantity; drafting higher doesn’t mean drafting better, even in this day and age with scouting what it is and the numbers game where it is, scouts still make mistakes. However, the chance of getting a super-duper star is much higher than anything else.

    2) Free Agency – Picking up a veteran to fill that much needed void. Rarely will you be signing your megastar due to the way the NBA structures its contracts, but filling voids is definitely something that happens here. The key worries are the fact you are competing with other teams, driving up the price for free agents and keeping you from signing others.

    3) Trades – Probably the hardest route to go, seeing as you need to give up assets to get assets, as well as the fact you are trading with another team who you will be playing against – why should another GM want to help you fill your gaps without squeezing you for all they can get? Yet through the other two methods of stockpiling draft picks or valuable players, trading becomes and option.

    When looking at the team we have right now, you have to ask yourself what are our building blocks/strengths? What are our weaknesses/players we can let go?

    As a team, our biggest strength seems to be our court vision and passing. We execute on offense fairly well with a variety of weapons, but our team defense is quite bad.

    Obviously, our main strength is #24. In him we have the best player in the game; a man who can create his own shot, drive, pass, and defend. On the offensive side of the ball we have many strengths – a matchup nightmare for almost every player at the 4 in Lamar Odom; a point guard in a SF’s body in Luke Walton. We have a sharpshooter from outside the arc in Vlad.

    We lack a true viable option on the block; Kwame Brown is a liability on offense generally, being the only starter who isn’t an great passer.

    However, he is our biggest asset on defense, providing a rock in the backcourt. Odom and Walton are average or less than average team defenders and certainly cannot be counted on to shut someone down. That can be said for the majority of the roster; defensive liability or simply average.

    To be honest, I think the starting five of Brown, Odom, Walton, Bryant, and whoever they put at PG out of Fisher/Famar is fine for a starting five in the West. They proved in the first half of last year before injuries destroyed the flow of the team that they can play well and execute flawless offense, as well as play decent team defense. Vlad coming off the bench as a shooter compliments the front court well.

    The problem then lies with our 7-12. Turiaf is little more than an energy guy and should only play as such, albeit loving the guy, he seems overmatched more often than not. Cook and Sasha can shoot and do little else. Evans is generally inconsistent, and Bynum, while having all of the physical gifts in the world is still extremely raw and seems more often than not to be completely disinterested in the game.

    I believe that one perimeter defender (a backup swingman/PG) and one person who can score on the low block and defend at the 5 is all this team needs before it starts to be considered a serious contender. We already frankly the most complete, best player ever at the 2, a freakish man at the 4, intelligent basketball at the 3, and serviceable point guards.

    In my eyes, there is really two things we need to do. Trading is not one of them; to get someone of a high enough quality at the 5 we’d have to get rid of too many assets.

    Basically, we need to pick up something through free agency or the draft.

    Oh wait.

    Look who is a free agent next year. 😀


  17. (13) Exick,

    Even though I’m a diehard Smushaphobe, I always blamed the Lakers for setting Smush up–not the Smusher himself. So we agree more than we disagree.

    If it had been me, I would have started Farmar about half way through last season, with Smush coming off the bench. That seems to be close to a consensus.

    As I watched the Heat wheel and deal from afar this summer, it reminded me of similar past year Laker wheeling and dealing failures, and how it led us to the Smusher. I even (humorously?) suggested that it was about time to get Riley in touch with Smush.

    Bite my tongue.

    You were right. I was wrong.

    I never imagined anyone would sign him in a million years!

    As long as Jason stays healthy, the Heat fans are likely to be overwhelmingly Smushaholics.

    they better pray that Jason doesn’t pull up lame. Then it would be “de ja vue all over again” !!!


  18. (15) G,

    Suppose as the new season starts that KG sprains his ankle, is out for 25 games, and loses much of his mobility when he comes back.

    Suppose that Paul Pierce tears his acl and has season ending surgery at mid season.

    Suppose then that Ray Allen hurts his hand and loses his outside shooting touch.

    As a result, the Celts back into the playoffs and are swept in the first round.

    Would you say that the KG trade was a failure and Danny Ainge should look for a better combination–maybe trade Allen to the Lakers for VladRad (who got his touch back!), or KG for Odom (who had the greatest year of his career–especially in assists), or Paul Pierce for Kwame (who had a monster year with the defensive inside presence the Celts so badly need). Even Hollinger says that it is time for new blood.

    Or . . . .would you say that the Celts should “stand pat” to see how the team will perform when key players aren’t injured?

    Your call.


  19. G ,
    As noted above, change for change’s sake is a bad thing.

    If you want a modern model for change it would have to be the Spurs. They added draft picks and allowed them to mature somewhat before deciding that they could trade their talent evaluations in for more expensive, more experienced help. They paid their dues – the Lakers have not yet paid their dues (apologies to Laker fanatics) – and should see how the apparently promising las two drafts turns out. This year is a tipping point and next year should finally tell the tale.

    I am not saying we should make no moves, but we need to keep our goal in mind. Our bet leverage wil come at this year’s trading deadline. If we make a move, I suspect that will be the time.


  20. 10milliondollarzen August 2, 2007 at 9:55 am

    Yeah, who is a free agent next year? Do you mean Kevin Garnett? ‘Cause that’s not the case as he signed a big extention..


  21. Brand can opt out next year and the Clippers are notoriously cheap and they might want to drastically cut salary if they are bad this year, which may be the case because they do not have a PG. I don’t know who the Lakers could use as in a sign and trade or at the trade deadline to possibly pick him up. I would also seriously doubt that the clippers would trade with the Lakers no matter who we offered.

    As far as C or at least someone that can play C (Brand is already short for a PF and can not play C) I am not sure if there is anyone available (Duncan will sign an extension).


  22. The NBA schedule came out today.

    The version is backwards from the version.

    We either have a 9-game homestand early february or a 9-game road trip. Lets cross our fingers and hope that its a homestand!

    Here’s the links. Does anyone know whats really going on?


  23. schedules are out. its gonna be a tough start. ahah i have faith.

    opening night away at rockets

    xmas day away at suns


  24. Why have I not seen a Kobe to the Clippers trade scenario?

    Kobe and Vlad to the Clippers for Elton Brand, Corey Maggette, Quinton Ross, Shaun Livingston, and a No.1 pick (remove Livingston and Vlad if you have to, I just want to bail on his contract).

    Both teams prosper from this deal, and we have many more tradeable assets moving forward. It wouldn’t make us a contender in one move, but nothing at this point will. The drop off at the SG position isn’t as big as it could be and is more than offset by the upgrade at PF. Ross is a great wing defender and getting rid of Vlad’s contract is big for us. Livingston might never play again.

    It would suck to have Kobe down the hall and give the Clippers that kind of credibility, but I feel we’d be a better “team” than we’ve been the last three years.


  25. All I am saying is the Lakers need to do something to make them selves have a legit opportunity to contend. Basically all they did was replace Smush with Derek fisher and draft JC. Those moves do not make you contenders. I do not know why you guys are so satisfied with this roster. You guys are throwing out all this scenarios were we will be good based on our early heavy home schedule last season. You guys blame the injuries for our decline, but as many of you said we were a 4th or 5th seed AT BEST without the injuries. After a year were a lot of west teams have gotten better namely Houston. I do not see us at a 4th or 5th seed. This can only happen if everything goes right. Do we really want to depend on everything going right just to be a 4th or 5th seed? I sure do not. I also cannot understand why you guys are so content with this idea. Can someone please explain this to me?


  26. I’d almost feel safe betting my life that an ego clash in Boston is highly unlikely. All three players have been getting their asses kicked for years. They’re too old for that kind of nonsense.

    Plus their skill sets complement each other very well.


  27. G,

    I agree, this roster isn’t that much better, if better at all. Problem is, most any trade at this point would be virtually lateral. The only thing that could shake this up dramatically is either multiple trades (i.e. trade LO/Bynum for JO then Kwame’s expiring, Farmar/Critt, draft picks for Artest-esque type player) or moving Kobe and building with a different plan.

    If neither happen, look for 45-ish wins, a 6-8 seed, and a first round exit….Again.


  28. 10milliondollarzen > Jermaine O’Neal. Unless he’s signed an extension I haven’t heard about.

    G > Yes, the Lakers need to make a move so they can contend while Kobe is still here.

    Here is the problem you, and so many others like you, fail to understand.

    With this current free-agent class (2007), the current payroll structure, and the current team, the only way we could get an impact player is by giving up huge amounts of our own assets. Unless someone is really high on Bynum (they aren’t) AND really needs people who can do nothing but shoot the ball from the 1/2, 4 (Sasha, Cook – and they aren’t really) then we aren’t getting anything in a trade. What would you have done this off-season? Who would you have traded or tried to sign?

    Not saying Mitch did a bang up job at all, by the way, just pointing this out. There’s really nothing that could be done, other than giving the Fisher money to someone else who won’t really be a super contributor – far, far from an impact player.

    The only way we improve is by fleecing someone in a trade, and frankly, that isn’t going to happen with the current office.