Lakers Schedule Out

Kurt —  August 2, 2007

Two years ago, the Lakers schedule looked tough early but softer later, and that plus growth of the team in the triangle set the team up for a strong late run into the playoffs. Last season, the schedule was favorable early then it got harder, the Lakers got injured, and the wheels came off.

The 2007-08 schedule is now out, and it looks more like two years ago.

The Lakers open at Staples against Houston, the second half of a TNT double header (so, don’t worry about arriving late to that game, you know TNT will run long and push the start back), then they go on the road to Phoenix, then come back home to face Utah. Later that month the Lakers do a Texas two-step against Houston and San Antonio, then get two of the best teams in the East at Staples, Detroit and Chicago.

While there are certainly winnable games, the Lakers are going to be put to a test in November.

The Lakers do not get Christmas off, are home to Phoenix to celebrate a surfing Santa holiday against the Suns. Maybe, if Steve Nash eats a lot of turkey before the game……

Those of you who were dying to see Kevin Garnett play at Staples Center, Dec. 30th is your only chance.

Other things of note include a nine-game East Coast (and some Midwest) road swing that starts Jan. 31. Right after that the Lakers come home for one game against Atlanta then head out on the road for three more (although one of those is the Clippers).

I won’t call the final month of the season (the last 14 games) easy, but if the Lakers are going to be a serious playoff team then they should win a lot of them. Those matchups are: Seattle; and home and home against Golden State; Charlotte; Memphis; Portland; Dallas at Sacramento; at Portland; at the LA Clippers; at New Orleans; San Antonio; and Sacramento.

Overall the Lakers have 33 games on national television and 17 back-to-backs. The schedule is heavy on Friday then Sunday games, with 15 Sunday whites games at Staples. The Lakers have more home games late in the season than early on.

Not to get Zen about it, but the schedule is the schedule. You have to play it. But on first glance, we need to remind ourselves when we see the Lakers record at the end of November that things are going to get better later. If they can put together decent numbers early they can make a big push late and carry that momentum into the playoffs.

Kurt

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82 responses to Lakers Schedule Out

  1. That 9 game road trip is also followed by ONE home game then another 3 game road trip. 12 of 13 games on the road…ouch.

  2. This is a tough schedule for a team that should be coming together after 2 yrs of building. I expect to hear a lot of fans screaming at the end of November, then perhaps we start feeling better in Dec and Jan.

    That road trip crucible in February will really be the test for this team. By that time we should be developing our real character and this will be the definitive test. Should we come through this with 40% wins, we should be in very good shape for the stretch run.

  3. it’d be nice if kobe had a chance to see the team doing well at the beginning of the season…but if the lakers are only winning 40% of games, he’s once again going to think the front office didn’t do enough.

  4. Note, I edited my earlier error that the Lakers were in Phoenix on Christmas and not at Staples. Thanks Nick for the email.

    This is why I have to stop doing meth before posting….

  5. A lot of the games in November are against some of the best teams in the NBA. The beginning of their schedule is brutal. I think if they can come out of November at 500 or close to it they will be in great shape. The 12 of 13 games on the road stretch will show where the team stands though.

  6. The schedule is weird, because if you look at it at the end of the season it looks a lot different. Last year, who thought that Utah would be a tough game, that Golden State would be a tough game, that Sacramento and the Clippers would faulter throughout the season.

    What is clear is that the month of February will be tough on the Lakers, this year and in the future. This is in part due to Staples Center hosting events like the Grammy’s and other nonsense, and we get to do a San Antonion like marathon roadtrip. At least it will show us what this team is about

  7. ryan,
    That was my point. I meant that the road trip would be a success if we won 40% of the games, not that we would win only 40% of the game for the year to that point.

  8. 1 & 5

    Actually, only 11 of those 13 games in that stretch are on the road. The middle game of the 3 after is against the Clippers.

  9. 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?

  10. G- What should the Lakers do. Everyone wants them to ‘do something big’ or ‘do something now’, but when it comes down to it, what move can they make, that is a sure-proof title-contending manuver…bueller…..bueller.

    Every team in the league wants to make big moves, but most of the time its not possible. Therefore, based on the new CBA rules, teams have to go the San Antonio route. Build around your star, draft well and make good signings. The Lakers are starting to draft better, and are probably 2 signings/trades away from contending. Asking the team to do something now that would jeopardize that progress (yes, the team has made progress, look at the young talen on the roster) is silly, and luckily, the FO (whethere intentional or not) is exercising caution.

  11. (9) G,

    Derek Fisher didn’t go into great detail on his raido interview, but he laid out the basic principles.

    1. You do things one step at a time.

    2. You bargain from strength.

    3. You develop your talent with patience.

    4. Once you get the winning started, it can be infectious.

    As someone who had already been part of championship teams, Derek likes the Lakers right now.

    The problem that the Laker’s had this trading season is that because of injuries during the regular season, some players were undervalued. It may take the first month of the season before the Lakers can get value for some of their players in trade.

    If everyone is healthy, it will really be a new team that we’ve not seen completely together. 20% (3 players) are gone, 2 have been added–one who didn’t play was resigned.

    Don’t try forecasting the playoffs even before the season starts.

  12. You weren’t wrong about the Phoenix game on Christmas, Kurt. Early this morning, the schedule got leaked before it was supposed to (in a more plain-textish form) and showed the game being played in Los Angeles on Christmas. Then it was pulled. Then around 11am this morning, the official schedule was posted. Only they got every game’s home and away team backwards, so for about an hour this morning the schedule did say Lakers at Phoenix on Christmas.

  13. This team will be a lot more focused than last year. Heck, even with all the injuries they still had a bunch of games they could’ve won if they were more mature.

    Kobe’s blowup and publicly questioning this team is the best thing that could’ve happened.

    I think it’s good that the schedule is a war zone at first, because we’ll be chomping at the bit very eager with something to prove.

  14. the other Stephen August 2, 2007 at 4:46 pm

    tough going for the beginning of the season. may they rest in peace.

  15. 12. Thanks for the update.

  16. 13. Good point.

    Kobe’s venting, if he doesn’t pull a 2006 game 7 fourth quarter on us, might be the best thing he could have done. I bet you that Bynum, Odom and Walton will have a chip on their shoulders for most season. Maybe even Kwame…

  17. 13, 16. I agree with everyone having something to prove, but will Odom and Kwame be in game shape coming off those injuries? I think Bynum and Walton will be asked to do a lot more during this tough beginning stretch while Odom and Kwame get their legs under them. Also, since Bynum will get some minutes, the play of Mihm and Turiaf will be huge, again, biding time for LO and Kwame to get to full strength. After that, we do have some nice depth, and if they can get a chance to play together injury-free, I’m curious to see what kind of groove they can get into. I also think JCrit is going to get early minutes so as to pace Fisher for a strong playoff run (that’s right, THIS Laker team CAN make it deep. How deep? We’ll see).

  18. 16. Contract year, baby…

    And don’t forget Chris Mihm too, who already publicly stated he’ll definitely be better than he ever was. Which will hopefully include becoming a functioning foulaholic.

  19. 17. I believe both will be back in time for training camp, and I figure both will be in good enough shape to reasonably contribute. It’s not like Kobe won’t mind playing bigger for awhile if their shots are way off.

    I think a good goal for Bynum this season is to become a solid backup. 8-10 points a game, 7-8 rebounds. They better be working on his endurance big time.

    At first I didn’t like hearing that he wasn’t doing the summer league stuff, but now I see it’s probably a wise decision. Keep him away from the other runts, since he now has to start acquiring a veteran mindset.

  20. (17) Lakerade,

    I agree that our depth and youth will show themselves this year, but not as strongly as you do. Our coach is Phil Jackson. Given the injuries, they will try to establish their core ASAP.

    I see Bynum as the #3 center and Javaris as the #3 PG. It’s possible that VladRad will be the SF, with Walton coming off the bench. I see Tariaf as PF off the bench, but it may be Cook. If these assumptions and projections are correct, the rotations that we see will amount to a somewhat different team from last year:

    C Kwame, Mihm
    SF VladRad, Walton
    PF Odom, Turiaf
    SG Kobe, Evans
    PG Farmar, Fisher

    I believe that this is closer to what the Lakers wanted to do last year before the injuries.

    All 4 Lakers not in this rotation can PLAY, with different strengths and weaknesses, so the Lakers might surprise opponents with matchups, and wear them down with depth.

    Those are my guesses. All bets are off if there are trades before the season starts.

    This couold be a very interesting season.

  21. It is indeed a war zone in November. It could be good and it could be bad.

    Houston – check 1-0
    @ Phoenix – X 1-1
    Utah – check 2-1
    NO – check 3-1
    Minnesota – check 4-1
    @ San Antonio – X 4-2
    @ Houston – X 4-3
    Detroit – X 4-4
    Chicago – X 4-5
    @ Indiana – check 5-5
    @ Milwaukee – check 6-5
    @ Boston – X 6-6
    New Jersey – check 7-6
    Seattle – check 8-6
    Denver – check 9-6
    @ Utah – X 9-7

    These are just my predictions based on my own rankings… I project them to go 7-2 at home and 2-5 on the road.

    There are also debatable wins in Houston at the opener, Denver on 11/29. There can also be debatable losses in the home loss to Chicago and the road loss to Utah.

    By november, the points of reference for us have to be Kwame and Lamar’s health. This will affect Mihm and Bynum’s playing time, as well as that of Turiaf’s.

  22. What Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh saying after KG trade to Boston

    “There were a lot of teams interested in Garnett, the Lakers, Chicago, Dallas, Phoenix … now they might be looking for someone else. I don’t know, but it may open up some things.”

    Walsh, meanwhile, also downplayed the possibility of O’Neal being traded anytime soon. He said it would take a lot to get him to give up a 20-point, nine-rebound guy who also defends and protects the rim.

    “If we were ever going to do a trade [with O'Neal], it would have to be a blockbuster,” Walsh said. “At this point we don’t have anything like that. I’m not counting on it. I’m assuming Jermaine will be here.”

  23. I Love and Appreciate everyones Optimism as Laker Fans that this team can go deep, but I am a Realist.
    And realistically this team currently contructed will be a 5th Seed at Best. If everything goes right. Realistically this team will be a 7th or 8th seed. The West is crazy Phoenix, SAS, Dallas and Houston are all clearly better than the Lakers no one can argue that. Those are the top 4 in west and even in the whole League. The bottom tier of the west Utah,Denver, Lakers, Clippers, Hornets, Warriors, Blazers, Grizzlies, Kings
    I have them Denver as 5th and a chance to sneak in at 4th and then Utah 5th as solidified playoff spots and basically the last 3 spots are up for Grabs with most likely the Lakers taking the 6th Warriors 7th and the Blazers or Hornets taking the 8th spot. This is what will probably happen so the matchups would be
    1st Round
    1 Suns vs 8 Blazers/Hornets
    2 Houston vs 7 GS
    3 SAS vs 6 Lakers
    4 Denver vs 5 Dallas
    2nd Round
    1 Suns vs 4 Denver
    2 Houston vs 3 SAS

    Conference Finals
    2 Houston vs 4 Denver

    Houston Winning Conference

  24. sorry guys i messed up I left out Utah
    This just changes that Utah as the 6th seed and Lakers as 7th seed again and Warriors as 8th seed
    1st Round
    1 suns vs 8 Warriors
    2 Houston Vs 7 Lakers
    3 SAS vs 6 Utah
    4 Denver vs 5 Dallas

    2nd Round
    1 Suns vs 4 Denver
    2 Houston vs 3 SAS

    Conference
    2 Houston vs 4 Denver

    NBA Finals
    Houston vs Boston

    Houston wins in 6

    This is my prediction

  25. I honestly beleive the last two spots are up for grabs
    and the Lakers may not even make it but Kobe is too good to miss the playoffs. So they will probably squeak in but that is only if Kobe is motivated. I am a fan and am frustrated immensely with the fact that we are coming back with the same roster. I can only imagine Kobes frustrations when he comes back to camp. If he does even come back to camp. Who knows he might even hold out but I doubt it. On the other hand if he does hold out I wont be shocked either. The only way i see the Lakers being contenders is if they get Artest And Jermaine O’neal. Only way .

  26. 22. Houston may have a lot to prove as well. Maybe the 1000th McGrady playoff embarrassment will be the charm.

    I don’t see the Rockets being that much better. And picking them to beat the Spurs, well. That seems kinda out there to me. I doubt ‘Chise is going to be the solution.

    Everything went quite wretched in Lakerland LAST year and we got the 7th seed. Things don’t need to go perfect for that to happen again, all we have to do is be more focused and hungry than other teams on a nightly basis during the 82 game marathon to get to 4th.

  27. WOW for a realist you are also a Rocket Fanny… hmmm…

    I still think we are at 7th, with NOH or LAC at 8th. All the other seeds will place as they are with Probably Phoenix winning the #1 seed.

    1 Phoenix vs 8 Clippers
    4 Dallas vs 5 Utah

    2 San Antonio vs 7 La Lakers
    3 Houston vs 6 Denver

    1 Phoenix v 4 Dallas
    2 San Antonio v 3 Houston

    Phoenix v San Antonio

    *cough *hipcheck* cough*

    San Antonio to the NBA Finals.

    And to think we have not even played a single pre-season game :)

  28. What makes basketball interesting and exciting to me is that I know that I don’t know what will happen during the season or the playoffs. This appears to be a minority view right now on this blog.

    If I were to speculate, I’d have to choose between two completely different last year Lakers teams for a forecast. The first team started out like a team in which even Kobe was a role player. They could beat anyone. They were fun to watch. I thought that they could do even better in the second half.

    The second team was disfunctional. They got worse and worse. Even the return of injured players didn’t help. They were frustrating to watch.

    If the Lakers start in a positive way and avoid injuries, I can imagine all sorts of ways to enhance the positive energy. If the Lakers start slow, they might degenerate to the disfunctional team of the previous year–with all sorts of drama.

    I don’t know which team will show up–and that’s OK.

  29. Houston/McGrady has to win a playoff series before I’m ready to crown them the new champs. And as long as Doc Rivers is the coach, Boston cannot win a championship… or even get to the Finals.

    Of course, it being August, I reserve the right to be wrong come June.

    I also think Denver lacks the guards to keep up with Phoenix in a series. I see Phoenix as the favorite to win it. But the surprises of a season are why we watch. Golden State, Utah, Cleveland last year… I love this game!

  30. I just want to say that I like the fact that no one on the roster (who is actually going to play some) is new to the triangle this year. Even JCrit ran it in high school and was running it well in summer league. That means Sasha, Cook, and Kwame have no excuse since they’re at the bottom on this respect, in my opinion. Catch up, guys, we need you! It also means that perhaps the team will be further along in the offense earlier in the season, getting deeper into the progressions, all of which will help against that tough November. And then there’s that D… here’s where we need Mihm and Kwame to really step up. That way guys can be aggressive on the perimeter and Odom can come off the weak side, not necessarily have to be on the ball all the time.

    If a healthy squad can have each man pulling his weight (and Kobe is Kobe, not wandering Kobe), I believe the playoffs should be expected, and a 2nd round showing very realistic. Any result beyond that would obviously be unexpected (and awesome), but it all comes down to who’s playing well at that time, too, so that chemistry is already in motion with guys hopefully bringing more to the triangle table.

  31. I understand Kurt did not make this site a hub for speculations. But I am tossing up a proposal that I seek the opinion of advanced minds on…

    First, the premise.
    Utah has always been a tough playoff team with Sloan. They may have fallen short of the trophy itself but no other team (aside from the Lakers) are as highly decorated as this team with extreme consistency.

    Next, the facts.
    Utah has roughly 53M in payroll w/ 12 players on the roster with the contracts of Ronnie Price and Jason Hart still undetermined. Not really in trouble but Utah is not known to be playing with huge figures anyway. The cap relief provided by the Derek Fisher release also helps the situation.

    Deron Williams is due to earn 4M this year and 5M next year as team options to his rookie scale contract. The year after that, it would be safe to assume he will be locked-in big time.

    Also under contract are Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur who are major players on the rotation. Waiting in the wings is Paul Millsap, a surprising late pick with extreme potential.

    Beleaguered star Andrei Kirilenko is the odd man out. Utah and AK has had several key discussions the past year concerning his performance (or lack thereof). It was even reported that owner Larry Miller is involved in the talks with AK. It would be unwise to keep an under performing star who is the highest paid player on the team. He is owed 63M in the next 4 years.

    Rounding up, the Lakers are also a team needing a boost. With KG now out of the picture and JO’s asking price clearly too steep to pay, it might make sense for both teams to cut a deal.

    Andrei Kirilenko + Jarron Collins
    – for –
    Kwame Brown + Vlade Radman + Sasha Vujacic + 08 1st.

    Kwame Brown and Sasha are expiring contracts but also are useful in a defense-oriented-Sloan-run Utah team. Vladimir Radmanovic makes up for the lost shooter in Fish and the 08 1st will be the sweetener. We can also add another 1st pick in the deal. (2010)

    The Lakers are already a good offensive team. More firepower may not be the answer if interior defense and PG upkeep does not change. With a healthy Chris Mihm, we might be a bit better. Adding Fisher to mentor for the young PGs will also matter. But by adding AK47 to Kobe and Odom, this team will legitimately be the West’s 4th seed.

    projected lineup:
    PG – Farmar / Fisher / Crittenton
    SG – Kobe / Mo Evans / Karl
    SF – Odom / Walton
    PF – Kirilenko / Turiaf / Cook
    C – Mihm / Bynum / Collins

  32. The Lakers have to make a move or two period! Everyone is focused on the big move, the KG or the JO, but those won’t happen. Mitch, think outside of the box! Make some creative moves here. Here is what we need:

    1) A legit starting PF, so we can move Odom to the SF and Luke to the sixth man. This guy doesn’t have to be a suoerstar. Just get on the boards, pay solid defennse, and know the position well enough so that they can play along side a true center.

    2) Some depth at the SG. Give Kobe some rest, and perimeter defense problems will diminish.

    These are not earth shattering moves. There are some nice pieces on this team. No need to tear the team apart. The weak links are Kwame, Vlad, and Sasha. I would say that we put an offer of Kwame’s expiring and Vald and see what we can get for it. You never know.

  33. The five best teams in the West are still Houston (If they can pick up another Backup center or PF to go along with Scola I think they will be much improved) Utah, Dallas, Suns, SA. I think when healthy the Lakers are better than Denver. Don Nelson maximized the talent last year in GS and they will struggle to make the playoffs this year (they will fight for the 8th spot assuming Davis tries consistently). The question marks are how good are a healthy Memphis (they have made the Playoffs 3 of the last 4 years) and NO.

  34. Warren (31) I like the idea of trading for Kerilenko but I do not know if such a trade is realistic. And with your proposed line up i still think Odom would be PF and Kerilenko would be the defensive stopper in the back court.

  35. Ryan on AK…

    Yes and it can work either way depending on the teams we play. But on offense, that would be the set-up. Both with lean frames, Lamar is better attached w/ his finesse side thus the SF position. Meanwhile, still w/ a lean frame, AK works on the power side better.

    Odom – points, rebs, assists
    AK – points, rebounds, blocks

    On defense, we can scramble the 2 of them depending on the matchups. If we play the Spurs, AK guards Duncan and Lamar guards Bowen or Horry or Oberto. If we play Phoenix, Odom guards Marion and AK defends the guards.

  36. WarrenWeeLim,
    You know I don’t mind this trade, except for the possible long-term salary complications. However, why do we have to start with offering a 1st round draft choice? I say we start by talking with Utah about matching salaries ONLY. We can play a waiting game into FEB. Utah is in no hurry and will probably wait to see how AK performs and what else develops; we can wait to see how Vlade develops.

    My guess is that both will be better and both bargaining positions will be improved. Since the Lakers run a system offense, our players would probably transfer to the Utah system faster than players from a run-and-gun or scatter offense. That means with equal deals the Laker offer would probably pay out faster for Utah – providing them immediate benifit.

    Since our FO is best at drafting players, we try to maintain our picks for future, low-cost additions to our team. Only trade picks if another offer is margainally better and we have to do it to get the player.

  37. Very interesting trade proposal, Warren. I do have trouble believing the Jazz would want to make the Lakers better…

    Still, very good proposal. Like Craig mentioned, as the season progresses, Vlad and Kwame might increase their value. Kwame’s being a contract year, he could be attractive for a team who needs some post defense to back up CB. If Vlad can average about 10 ppg, and Kwame gives us 10/8, and Sasha keeps giving us energy off the bench, we might even be able to get us to add less, or them to add more.

  38. There are discussions around that teams do not want to deal with the Lakers because they are the Lakers.

    Teams are pretty much always ruled by self interest (Ted Stephien being the apparent exception). Other teams do not make decisions based on whether or not they will help/hurt the Lakers. If they can maximize their own club AND hurt the Lakers, then that is another story. No one want to give a competitor an even break – that’s business. The Lakers operate in the same manner.

    That is why it is imperative to think ‘in the other guy’s shoes’ when analyzing trades. For example: Minn didn’t want Lamar’s contract (he is slightly overpaid) and by taking Jefferson’s salary over Odom’s they could demand more young players and draft picks. This fit their needs. That was why the trade was made. If Taylor ever thought Kevin McHale was favoring the Celtics with a deal, McHale would be out the door that very night and the trade would not have been made.

  39. So Pargo re-signed with the Hornets. I’m not mad at the D Fish signing, but in all honesty, I thought the Lakers should’ve signed a wing defender with the lion share of the MLE (Posey-still on the market, Ruben Patterson- still on the market, etc.). Then sign Pargo with the rest.

    Instead, we jumped the gun and (like we did with Rudy T) bid against ourselves, not once, but twice. First with Fish (we could’ve gotten it done for less) and then with Walton (no other team even had made him an offer). The market has now slowed down, and if we had money, we could still be in on some of the action. Our lineup would’ve been better than what we have now with those moves (Pargo, Posey), instead of Walton, Fisher.

    Farmar/Pargo/Critt
    Bryant/Evans
    Posey/Vlad
    Odom/Turiaf/Cook
    Bynum/Brown/Mihm

    Better defensivley than Walton and Fisher, and Pargo can still light it up off the bench, with a healthy Vlad. Its a philosphy thing, we got triangle guys, not impact defenders.

  40. This is off topic but I thought it was interesting.

    Fryer, a 28-year ref regarded as one of the league’s best, is hanging up his whistle because he can no longer stomach the league’s current system of managing its officials. And his disaffection is shared by as many as nine other topflight veterans — about one-sixth of the corps — who also have talked about stepping down in protest. “It’s so bad,” says one, “guys buy lottery tickets everywhere they go. If they win, they’re just going to leave their shirt hanging in the locker.”

    It is an interesting article. Here is the link

    http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?section=sports&id=5537456

  41. NEWS
    ===

    Guard Jannero Pargo has re-signed with the New Orleans Hornets , according to his agent.

    Golden State Warriors have signed center Kosta Perović and forward Austin Croshere to contracts

    ESPN’s Ric Bucher said that he’s “heard a rumor that a Artest deal was in the making” to send the talented two-way swingman back home to New York to play for the Knicks.

    Grizzlies offering a first-round pick in exchange for Juan Carlos Navarro’s rights

  42. A week or so ago Kurt linked to a new system developed by someone at 82games.com for rating the defensive performance of NBA players. I thought the system didn’t pass the laugh test because Chris Webber was rated a good defender while Tayshaun Prince was rated a horrible defender.

    Well, the system has been revised, and the rating for Webber and Prince are more appropriate.

    As for the Lakers, Odom and Kobe are rated the Lakers’ two best defenders. That makes sense. But Bynum is rated third best. That to me doesn’t pass the laugh test. Bynum got abused by the players he guarded (20 PER against) and he was horrible at team D. He did scare off some penetration with his length, but he was at the wrong place at the wrong time so often that I think the system needs further work.

    Anyway, here’s the link: http://www.82games.com/nichols2.htm

  43. Ric Bucher Chat on ESPN
    ===============
    http://www.prosportsdaily.com/forums/showthread.php?t=130420

    Phil (LA): As one of Kobe’s closest confidants (as a reporter), do you know if he’ll sit out camp if the Lakers don’t pull off a blckbuster or trade him? Are any trades still in discussion, and if so, who’s coming to LA? J Oneal?

    Andrew (San Diego, CA): Gotta throw the Kobe question out there. Strangely quiet, its freaking me out. Also, Laker schedule posted on kb24.com. Ric, all that “never play in a Laker uniform again” stuff is looking a little, um, shaky. Care to explain?

    Chris, LA: KG was an obvious move for Ainge and a good one, do you see the Kobe Lakers doing a GOOD move like AK, or any other not including Odom (BWallace)? Thanks

    Ric Bucher: (3:06 PM ET ) I don’t see how the Kobe-will-never-play-in-a-Lakers-uniform-again premise is looking shaky. He’s simply decided to let the Lakers make his case for him, concentrate on Team USA and stay out of the news. I plan to write a column later today on why the Lakers’ inability to make a move and the bittersweet experience of playing with JKidd in Vegas leaves us exactly where we were last time Kobe spoke.

    ————————————————————————–

    Chris, New York, NY: Ric, you’ve had experience with Yao and some of the Chinese basketball players. What do you think of Sun Yue, the Lakers draft pick. Can he play? Will he be able to contribute?

    Ric Bucher: (3:15 PM ET ) I’ve seen Sun Yue as much as any U.S. writer, having watched him play for an ABL team called the Aoshen Olympians last season and with the Chinese National Team. (His nickname is Q-Tip, for what it’s worth.) He is long and athletic and has decent skills, but the next time he goes right will be the first time. Some people favor their strong hand, but he is ALL left. He’s intriguing, but I thought the same of Slava Medvedenko.
    Short answer: No, he won’t be able to contribute.

    ————————————————————————–

    sukhreet: bakersfeild,CA: Ric, do you think kobe will change his mind if lakers some how get jermaine oneal and sign webber?

    Ric Bucher: (3:18 PM ET ) No.

    ————————————————————————–

    Phil (LA): Ric, you didn’t answer my question… Any talk between the Lakers and other teams about a possible trade? What are the chances we land Oneal without giving up both Odom and Bynum? Will that ever happen?

    Ric Bucher: (3:19 PM ET ) The Lakers are offering Kwame and Bynum. The Pacers want Odom and Bynum. I’m told that will never happen.

    ————————————————————————–

    Jim: It seems like Chicago has the piece to go get a post player, so what are they waiting for?

    Ric Bucher: (3:21 PM ET ) My guess is that Chicago is waiting to see how the Kobe saga unfolds. My sense is that’s where he ultimately would like to go, and despite a lot of innuendo otherwise, the Bulls would love to have him if they don’t have to give away their entire team to get him.

    ————————————————————————–
    PK (Seoul, Korea): Had Lakers traded Bynum for JKidd at the Feb. deadline and kept Kobe from publicly bashing the Lakers management, could KG conceivably been willing to force his way into LA after realizing it was time to move on? I know that’s a huge if, but after how everything unfolded in Celtic’s acquistion of KG, as a Laker fan, I just have to wonder.

    Ric Bucher: (3:55 PM ET ) If the Lakers had traded Bynum for JKidd, you wouldn’t have Kobe wanting out. In either case, KG wasn’t coming to LA. They simply don’t have anything Minnesota wanted.
    And for someone else who asked about why I hate the Lakers, just stop it. (Ric getting emotional huh! you can tell LakerNation was coming at him hard today!) I can’t help that your team is in a bad way. When I was proclaiming that the Lakers were better than the Kings back when Sac mattered, then I was a Lakers’ homer. I don’t have personal interests in any team, in part because I grew up in Cincinnati without a team, in greater part because I’m just not wired like that as a journalist. But this is probably a topic for my next podcast with Simmons.

    ————————————————————————–
    Steve( Alabama): What are the chances that Kobe stays a Laker? 1-10, 10 being the highest and 1 being the lowest.

    Ric Bucher: (3:59 PM ET ) I can only go by what he has said, which is he never intends to play for them again. So give me a 10.

    ————————————————————————–

    Pretty much more of the same but thought it was worth a post. And what I wanted to know most (asked him several times) he never answered. I want to know when was the last time he talked to Kobe about the Lakers? If he is still going off the first time they talked (right before media blitz) than of course Kobe said he wanted to leave! But if he hasn’t talked to him since…than what Ric says is irrelevant

  44. 43. In addition to Kobe, Kobe’s “people” were saying the same thing to Bucher and Ireland and others. But my guess is when Kobe sat down with Mitch, some air got cleared. Kobe may not be happy but he has to see that the deals the Lakers offered for KG and are offering for O’Neal are the only ones that improve the team. To give up Odom and Bynum for O’Neal is a lateral move.

    My guess, come October, Bucher will be saying he had sit down with Kobe and they talked about his new attitude, his continued frustrations but his understanding of the situation with the Lakers and how much he thinks this team can take a big step forward this year.

    I still think the Lakers will have a better shot at moving Kwame at the trading deadline — if Kwame stays healthy and plays like it’s a contract year — than right now.

    And finally, if I were Larry Bird, I’d demand Odom and Bynum too. To give up O’Neal for Kwame and Bynum looks like a big risk right now, however, if they both play better than last year when the season gets rolling, and the trade deadline nears, and the Lakers throw in a young PG or a pick…..

  45. I would be very very surprised if Kobe did not show up for training camp. It just does not seem like Kobe to sit out no matter how upset he is. Besides that Buss is a better gambler and even if Kobe did not come to training camp and did not show up for the games I think Buss would not trade him for till much later anyways.

  46. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Bucher’s job as a writer to generate alot of “hits” to his articles and columns on ESPN.com???

    If he goes around saying the exact same things every other writer (or analyst) is saying, nobody would want to read him. But if he is the only one coming out and declaring that Kobe will not be a Laker again, everybody wants to read his article to find out why.

    I truly believe that this is the only reason for his over the top comments about Kobe… He’s just doing his job.

  47. I think the last time Bucher and Kobe talked he did say he wouldn’t be a Laker again, I just think that was a while ago and the situation has changed, but Bucher has no new info to report.

    If Kobe sits out of camp, his reputation takes another big, big hit, and he has spent too much time over too many years to let that happen again. Now, if he plays hard for two seasons, the Lakers don’t improve much around him and he opts out, his reputation doesn’t take much of a hit. (Of course, the that would force the Lakers hand with a trade, but that’s too far off to fret over now.)

  48. I don’t know how realistic a trade for O’neil is without including Odom (even if Indiana did not want Odom). O’neil’s salary is 19.7M this season so the Lakers have to match at least 14.9M to make a trade happen. I think that Kwame and Bynum only add up to 11.9M; that still leaves 3M to match salaries. IF they are completely (which a trade not including Odom would suggest) then they would not want Vlad’s contract. Cook has a base year compensation which makes it hard to use him to match salaries. Besides that from a talent standpoint a trade without Odom would probably have to include Critt. A trade of Kwame, Bynum, Critt, Sasha is still 0.5M short. So a trade would have to inclulde 5 players to get O’neil. Isn’t that what Boston did to get Garnett and O’neil is not close to being the player Garnett is.

    Someone correct me if my numbers are wrong.

  49. 48. Kwame gets a bonus if he get’s traded. That bonus is included in his outgoing salary when determining whether the trade works under the CBA. I’m not sure what the amount of the trade kicker is, but it’s probably around $0.5m. I don’t know if you included that in your calculation.

  50. If I may,a 2 part post on improving the Laker’s roster w/out the blockbuster deal that is unlikely and may be unneeded. First,the “smalls”.
    Dallas,Phoenix,San Antonio,Houston and Utah have one thing in common-a defensive stud at the 3. Howard,Marion/Bell,Bowen,Battier and AK-47. In a Conference full of tall scoring machines,maybe it’s no suprise these were the top 5 teams in the West. The Lakers don’t have such a player,and there definitely is a spot for one on the roster. And it just so happens another team’s misfortunes could help the Lakers.
    First step in improving the team,Farmar to Clippers for Quinton Ross. Ross is player who is starting to get the respect of the refs,likes playing tough defense,has an improving mid-range jumper and doesn’t have to get shots. The salaries match,and as much as Dunleavy likes Ross,the ownership has cut out his legs over Maggette,and convincing the Clips that getting a cheap young PG w/huge local ties for Ross ought to be fairly easy.
    Second,Phil likes a big PG who defends and shoots 3s,as well as a quick energy PG off the bench.Fisher can fill the energy role for a couple of yrs before a replacement needs to be found-and fast,shoot first PGs are a dime a dozen-and while Crittendon has the tools to be the first type,he’s a rookie. So…Sasha and the 08 First for Delonte West. West is the smart,perfectionist type that both Phil likes and Kobe would trust. He plays pretty good D,has a good stroke,some PG skills,is improving and has the ability to score 30 points in the games Kobe misses. Portland gets an expiring contract and a First Rd pick for a player who is not part of their future.(I understand the argument a First is too much,but if you could get a NBA-ready player w/NBA 3pt range w/the expected 17/18 pick,wouldn’t you draft him? Only this way you get that player a yr earlier.)
    These would give a very flexible group of “smalls”
    West,Fisher and Crittendon at point
    Kobe,Evans at the 2
    Ross,Walton,Radmanovic at the 3.
    W/West being able to play the 2,it allows Radman/Evans to be inactive and still carry 4 bigs and Lamar at game time.

  51. NEWS
    ===

    35-year-old Eddie Jones agreed to a two-year, $4 million deal w/ Dallas Mavericks.

    The Memphis Grizzlies on Friday reached a verbal agreement with the Washington Wizards to obtain the rights to Spanish guard Juan Carlos Navarro, reinforcing the notion that the Grizz have no intention of parting with Gasol.

  52. I think his salary becomes 9.775M, I could be wrong.

    There might also be the possibility of a sign-and-trade for Aaron McKie for 3M (his salary was 2.5M last year) with only the 1st year guaranteed, technically making him an expiring contract. And yes, Crittenton will surely be included should a deal like that happen.

  53. Prospects for a Pau Gasol trade to the Lakers just took a very big hit:

    http://www.prosportsdaily.com/forums/showthread.php?t=130479

    “I’m hearing that all sides have agreed in principle to a deal that would send Juan Carlos Navarro’s NBA rights from Washington to Memphis in exchange for a lottery protected first round pick. Paperwork with Navarro’s Spanish team, Barcelona, needs to be finished and the NBA has to review the deal as well to make things official (I hear that is why the “deadline” was pushed back). As details come in, I’ll update.

    http://blog.washingtonpost.com/wizardsinsider/

    And it was also reported by a bunch of Spanish newspapers.

  54. Trade bonuses are only counted as incoming salary for the team gaining the player with the bonus, not as outgoing salary. So Kwame’s outgoing value would be his regular salary, but his incoming salary would be his salary plus his trade kicker.

  55. I Love and Appreciate everyones Optimism as Laker Fans that this team can go deep, but I am a Realist.
    And realistically this team currently contructed will be a 5th Seed at Best. If everything goes right. Realistically this team will be a 7th or 8th seed. The West is crazy Phoenix, SAS, Dallas and Houston are all clearly better than the Lakers no one can argue that. Those are the top 4 in west and even in the whole League. The bottom tier of the west Utah,Denver, Lakers, Clippers, Hornets, Warriors, Blazers, Grizzlies, Kings
    I have them Denver as 5th and a chance to sneak in at 4th and then Utah 6th as solidified playoff spots and basically the last 2 spots are up for Grabs with most likely the Lakers taking the 7th and the Blazers or Hornets taking the 8th spot. This is what will probably happen so the matchups would be
    1 suns vs 8 Blazers/Hornets
    2 Houston Vs 7 Lakers
    3 SAS vs 6 Utah
    4 Denver vs 5 Dallas

    2nd Round
    1 Suns vs 4 Denver
    2 Houston vs 3 SAS

    Conference
    2 Houston vs 4 Denver

    NBA Finals
    Houston vs Boston

    Houston wins in 6

    This is my prediction

    I honestly beleive the last two spots are up for grabs
    and the Lakers may not even make it but Kobe is too good to miss the playoffs. So they will probably squeak in but that is only if Kobe is motivated. I am a fan and am frustrated immensely with the fact that we are coming back with the same roster. I can only imagine Kobes frustrations when he comes back to camp. If he does even come back to camp. Who knows he might even hold out but I doubt it. On the other hand if he does hold out I wont be shocked either. The only way i see the Lakers being contenders is if they get Artest And Jermaine O’neal. Only way!

  56. (51) The Navarro deal certainly makes Pau Gasol happy. It would seem that this is a clear indication that the team intends to build around Pau–except they already have 5 guards. Navarro makes 6!!!

    Conley was a #4 first round pick and he’s already competing with Lowrey–Stoudemaire is a veteran backup–and they’ve got others. Miller is already an all star shooting guard–and they have backups for him too. 6 pgs–and NO centers.

    It wasn’t clear hiow much the Grizz will (or can) pay ib salary. Then there’s that $2 million to Barcelona.

    The Grizz have 17 on their roster right now. There will be more changes.

  57. 50. I like the Idea of trading for Ross. But the clippers just signed Brevin Knight so I do not think they will be too high on taking another PG. But I do like the idea.

  58. 57. Right now the Clippers may be more in the market for a big. Terrible news about Brand. Hate to see things like that happen to anyone, but especially the good, hard working guys.

  59. SI’s Marty Burns Ranks LAL 8th Out West
    ========================
    Bryant and a healthy Lamar Odom should be enough to get them to the playoffs, but it’s hard to imagine them doing much better.

    The Clippers are already struggling in Marty Burns’ West rankings — and it’s bound to get worse: cornerstone Elton Brand ruptured his left Achilles’ tendon during a workout Friday.

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/writers/marty_burns/08/03/west.rankings/index.html

  60. Looks like Kobe’s year just keeps getting better:
    http://cbs2.com/topstories/local_story_216022047.html

    Sources are reporting he is going to seek a divorce from Vanessa. I haven’t seen this anywhere else, so I take it with a grain of slat, but if things have been rocky at home, it may explain both his petulance earlier this year and his recent media silence.

  61. I keep seeing trades suggested involving Jordan Farmar in the name of “improving the team.” It’s almost an obsession. How about reviewing some recent Laker history before you improve us too much.

    The Lakers have had a whole series of guards since trading Derek Fisher, and none of them have been better than the average of the league. Part of the problem is that the Laker pg position requires much more than athleticism–especially on defense.

    The contrast between Jordan and Smush last year was telling. Jordan seemed to understand the triangle better than Smush from the beginning, and, as a rookie, beat out Smush and started in the playoffs.

    I don’t want to repeat our pg nightmares any more.

    With Derek Fisher as a mentor, Jordan Farmar is likely to be worthy of the starting point guard position–both in athleticism and understanding. If so, that would be the first time we had a solid PG position in many years. We’ve learned the hard way that you can’t teach a new dog old tricks. Derek Fisher can and will play many roles for the Lakers this year–but not the starting point guard on a regular basis.

    If you somehow have a deep need to trade Jordan and improve the team, how about Jason Kidd or Baron Davis? They’d build us up.

    Given the experience and knowledge required of the triangle and Laker defensive strategies, almost anyone else would tear us down.

  62. JO trade possibilities?

    Rule out the East

    Would Dallas be willing to give up Josh Howard? Are the Pacers interested in a small-for-a-big Devin Harris or Jason Terry? Probably not. I think you can rule out the Mavs because Cuban would be foolish to trade Howard.

    What does Phoenix have to offer? I don’t think they would even give up Barbosa for Jermaine. They’d probably offer Marion and a pick or Diaw++. Not really intriguing for a rebuilding team. Rule ‘em out.

    San Antonio isn’t going to mess up their core. Rule em out too.

    Houston. Not gonna happen.

    Denver. Camby’s all they have to give. And the overpaid Nene. Rule them out.

    G-State. Harrington’s not going back. They don’t have anything else to match salaries. Brendan Wright may seem intriguing, but he’s no franchise player.

    Clippers. Maggette and Kaman? Would be hard to match salaries. I doubt the Clippers trade for an injury prone big man when their own big man is hurt. Rule them out.

    New Orleans. Chandler had a good year with them. Considering the Hornets signed Peja last season, they could be in win-now mode. The Pacers probably do not want Chandler. Rule them out.

    Rule out Minnesota, Portland, and Seattle.

    Sacramento has nothing but a Spencer Hawes whom isn’t a franchise player.

    Memphis has their love of Gasol.

    One possibility:
    Utah…no way do they give up Boozer. AK, Millsap, and Okur are possibilities. I presume they’d rather not mess up their core and offer AK and some fillers. Is AK really a franchise player? Would the Pacers want more than AK?

  63. drrayeye,
    This time of year most of us fans are just trying to change things for change sake. The lament I hear on the blogs and from the radio talking heads is that the current team isn’t good enough to compete in the Western Conference. Everyone else is getting better so we must be getting worse.

    Statistically, at least one of the top 5 teams in the west will fall off because of age, injuries, or just a bad year. I have no idea who, but I will bet this year won’t be any different. The teams below the top five are even more in flux and these are the teams who often have made noticeable changes. Noticeable changes mean chemistry changes (+ or -), player adjustments, and possible coaching adjustments. All these things introduce more instability into the teams.

    We are more stable, more healthy (we hope), and more experienced in our offense. I think we are going to see a measurable improvement in our play. Add to that I expect 2 of our 4 young players to show noticeable improvement and 2 of our 4 injured players to come back stronger than they were and I see us as a possible team to deal with in the West.

    Sure we could use a banger at the 4, but Turiaf has a real possibility of filling that role.

    While I don’t discourage changes that help us, I really don’t see any NEED to make changes because we are so weak.

    If we get better it will help the Kobe situation also.

  64. 63. Word.

    I think we’re all eager to just see what this team can do, especially since the schedule got released. While I like the creativity and high logic shown in many of the trade scenarios, I too am just VERY curious to see what this team that basically has had a couple years together now, can do once fully healthy.

    Hopefully, Kobe has a solid USA outing and comes into camp fired up about being in a global spotlight again. His demeanor will go a long way in how the team is able to progress, even in training camp. Guys have to be excited/motivated to be focused, and Kobe has to take the lead in excitement about this team. Phil’s a guide, be someone has to WANT to make the trip.

  65. Smaller scale trade:

    Lakers trade -
    Bynum and Vlade

    to Pacers for -
    Granger and Foster

    New lakers lineup:

    PG: Farmar/Fisher/Crit
    SG: Bryant/Evans
    SF: Granger/Walton
    PF: Odom/Turiaf/Cook
    C: Brown/Foster/Mihm

    More athleticism, plus Granger can shoot the 3. Indiana gets their big and a good outside shooter with length (that we already have in Cook).

  66. I agree with that Craig. I remember a lot of games where our inexperience at the end of games cost us a win. Mihm and Fisher will greatly help how we end games. I also expect Farmar to be much improved, and Bynum…well you know he’s working his ass off.

    If the team can stay healthy, it can be a force. We all quickly forget how we said the 05-06 Lakers were only 2 or 3 pieces away from contention. Mihm, Fisher, the improvement, and I pray, stable health, of our Laker squad could very much improve our team’s record.

  67. The lakers never looked this bad ,I blame the front office dont know what there doing , it’s like they don’t wanna win make some moves i’m a die hard Laker fan and kobe deserves to win,and deserves some help because lamar plays when he wants!

  68. 65 – I just don’t think that will work. Indy is more inclined to trade JO than Granger right now.

    Checking out the West landscape, does it really help if we stand pat? Sure the Spurs are old, but they are consistent. Phoenix is thinner up front, but hey, they are Phoenix. Dallas will only get better as they mature. Houston has beefed up their cause by adding several offensive point men as they can. Steve Francis, Mike James, Bonzi Wells, Tmac and Yao ar every potent scorers. The only consolation would have to be a possible struggle due to a coaching change. Other than that, I cannot imagine beating any of these 4 teams in the 1st round…

  69. Warren (67),

    Let’s not make too many assumptions. We haven’t even got to preseason yet–and I still think something will happen on the trade front–but let’s look at your analysis from a Laker viewpoint–relying on the early part of last year and things that have transpired since as a point of departure.

    Dallas has stood pat, but they have a bit less depth. The big difference is that Golden State showed how to beat them-bad–in the playoffs. The Lakers already knew.

    The Suns are thinner–and smaller. They’ve taken a step back. Thomas is gone and the’ve paid so much for front liners that they still probably will lose Shawn Marion next year. There could be bad chemistry on this team. The Lakers should be much smarter on the perimetry and team defense. Putting a big guy on Nash slows him down–as Sasha has already demonstrated. With this team we should be able to beat them up inside (much like the playoffs two years ago).

    The Spurs are considerably better than last year–and they are the NBA champions. They have a very deep team, and everyone can play. They have a credible backup for every starter in case of injury. They have size on the inside, veterans that can come off the bench, a balance of youth and age, and a step-by-step approach to team development that the Lakers are clearly imitating.

    Nevertheless, the Lakers have been a thorn in their side. They really have no one to guard Kobe (if Lamar/Mihm post up and keep them from cheating too much on defense), and the Lakers may have enough defensive intelligence this year to pull off the switches against Parker and Ginobili penetration that didn’t happen last year. I’m sure that the Spurs will not be to happy to see Derek Fisher in a Laker uniform.

    There are other teams that could easily jump into the top 4–Warriors, Nuggets, Jazz–all emerging teams. The Lakers always have trouble against the Jazz and may have trouble against the other two this year–the Lakers are more settled and deeper.

    The only team that almost HAS to outperform us during the regular season is San Antonio. I can’t imagine losing more games than the Clippers or Grizz. I’m pretty sure that we’ll be somewhere in between!

  70. Warren, I forgot Houston.

    Right now they have 21 on their roster, including 9 (yes, I said 9) guards (not counting 2 guard/forward combinations. They have 4 centers–three of them veteran old style and slow. Before the draft, they traded Juwan Howard, a big, for a small pg. Maybe the T’Wolves would trade hum back? They signed the Stevie Franchise that was traded away from the Nicks, paid off, and banished from the Trailblazers. They already have T-Mac and only one basketball.

    One wonders which Rocket players will defend the great power forwards and/or shooting guards in the league.

    The fans think they’ve improved and will win the NBA championship!

    Adelman is clearly in rebuilding mode.

    I don’t have a clue what type of team they will become, but whatever it is, I’d give the Lakers a good chance against them.

  71. WarrenWeeLim ,
    drrayeye is giving you some possibilities. I don’t know which of his observations will come true, but statistically at least one of them will probably prove out. That is my problem with GFE points-of-view. The odds say that some of the guys ahead of us are going to have some problems. Sure, we could be the ones with the problems – we certainly were last year – but that is really my point. We did have the problems last year, so basing assumptions around how we did last year is no more real than assuming that all of our people will have career years next year.

    We don’t need all our guys – except Kobe – to have a career year next year to succeed. With our depth and balance all we really need is 2 of our 4 youngsters to make sizable jumps in their performance and 2 of our 4 players coming back from injuries to up their level of play and we will be a tough team. Statistically speaking, that is a reasonable probability, not a tremendous number of ifs.

    Given the talent and experience, I am on the optimistic side of the ledger, but not by a lot. That is why I am so desperate to get another body in her to help out our poor, weakly prepared team. That last point is on the coaching staff and I think they are good, even if not the best in the game.

  72. …sorry about the error in the following sentence…
    That is why I am NOT so desperate to get another body in here to help out our poor, weakly prepared team.

  73. Very well said drrayeye. I always look up to your insight.

    The point I was trying to drive at was that the Lakers are essentially the same team as last year, except for a few tweaks:
    Fisher basically replaces “the Smusher” (I cant believe he has a moniker), Javaris Crittenton replaces Shammond. Mihm will be healthy (I hope) and very recently, Coby Karl has replaced Aaron McKie.

    There are also drawbacks as Kwame and Lamar are coming of surgeries. This will of course will become an advantage as the season progresses.

    The reason why I am placing a lot of teams ahead of us, is because we could very well implode during the season. But then again, that is merely an assumption. Its hard for a young player to be composed and collected amidst this drama. Partly, media is to blame. But partly, FO also has to show guts in making bold moves in order to improve the team, and instill morale within the team.

  74. DRRayEye,
    I think you are a little too dismissive of the top teams in the West.
    Dallas has not lost any of their main rotation guys and these Lakers have not faced them in the Playoffs.
    It may be just a tad optomistic to dismiss Phoenix when despite the Lakers success going inside a few yrs ago-the Lakers still LOST the series,and you are ignoring what happened last yr.They don’t play many players anyway so any bench losses are fairly irrelevant and Thomas was used against big inside presences-which LA doesn’t have.
    San Antonio is San Antonio-haven’t lost any of their core and I somehow doubt that facing a Laker team w/out Shaq the sight of Derek Fisher is going to scare then ;)
    IMHO,Utah is a team to be very afraid of. Even w/their injuries and a young PG they won 50+ games and made it to the Finals. This yr I expect them to be in 55-60 win range. Williams was good last yr,this summer he’s getting a graduate course in PG play from Jason Kidd. On defense they play nasty-clutching,grabbing,elbowing,shoving,leaning on bodies that forces the other team to be mentally tough and grind it out-esp as the refs let them play like that. I don’t think the Lakers are ready to do that. They played D on McGrady like a hockey team,they had diff player guard him for 3 minutes then substitued for a fresh body.Over a series they stayed fresh while McGrady tired. I imagine they’ll do the same to Kobe if the two teams meet in the Playoffs. Their one obvious weakness is if AK-47 goes into another sulk-only this time I don’t think they’ll play Mr Nice Guy. If he seems like he’s ruining team chemistry I think he’ll be traded,fast. One obvious would be Kirilenko to Nets for Jefferson.
    Houston is either going to be very good or a complete train wreck. Their roster is even more unbalanced than the good DR pointed out. It’s not 9 guards-it’s 6(6!) Point Guards and Head as a 7nth combo 1 or 2! Five PFs under contract/drafted,none of whom are taller than their starting SG. In fact,w/out Yao,the Rockets may be the shortest team in the League. They are the team most worried about health-other than the Clips.T-Mac and Yao have had their problems,but Bonzi hasn’t played even 70 games in 5 yrs. Last yr the Rockets starting 5 had the best +/- score by such a wide margin it was ridiculous-twice as high as Dallas in second and 3 times higher than the third place team. Which indicates Houston had no bench and their starters didn’t play alot together to end up w/54 wins.
    The Warriors and Nuggets shouldn’t scare anyone and Hornets are too young.(Now I’m being dismissive :)
    For the current Laker roster to make any kind of Playoff run,the rotation players have to be healthy,Lamar has to impose his will early,Kwame has to be mentally engaged,Bynum has to have made the jump and Phil and his staff have to do a better job of game-planning,getting all involved to follow thru and not get out-coached in general.It’s possible,but…

  75. Warren,

    Last season was the season when we imploded, mainly due to an easy first part of the schedule and to injuries, so I honestly think that this season could be better than the last one.

    Will we be a powerhouse or a lock for the conference semis (not even talking finals), of course not. But, if healthy, I can garantee that no one wants to face the Lakers in the playoffs. We’re the team that noone knows what is capable of. I’m trying to objective here…

    Regarding the morale boost, I think that it mustn’t come from the FO. Right now we CANNOT get a big name without giving up Lamar, so… the boost must come from Kobe. He should step forward and say this is “his” team and “their” mates, and with them he will be going to the finals because we have depth and bla-bla-bla.

    Hell, he should be hinting on a Lakers-Celtics finals straight from the 80′s…

  76. I agree Renato, Kobe should do his part too. Which is why, at the back of my mind, the reason why the Lakers have not moved, is because Kobe has not committed. The reason Kobe has not committed, is because the Lakers have not moved. Its a vicious cycle really.

    If I were given the chance to have a say at things, it must be a close-door talk w/ Kobe, his agent, Phil, Buss and Mitch. The agenda will be THE FUTURE and the PRESENT. Phil and Kobe will be presented w/ the options and possibilities and therefore their approval will mean a lot. (This is not usually done, or done at all, but heck for Kobe’s sake, let this be the first of its kind).

    In the meeting, 2 things will be discussed: Present and Future. One cannot do w/o the other. Meaning, If Kobe does not change his stance, the Lakers must stand pat and invest the the talent they already have. If he must commit, then we can start talking about the offers that are on the table for us – but this time, Kobe’s commitment will have to be in the form of the waiver of his option year. Meaning, he will have to be w/ the Lakers through thick and thin as a consequence of the move they made.

    Buss will have no problems either way. Kobe will still be here for atleast 2 more years. If he decides to leave, we will have the cap room and a chance for a sign-and-trade come 2009 when our youngsters would have made an impact already. In 2 years time, negotiations will start.

  77. Stephen
    Denver has no chance?? Are you kidding me look at their starting 5 bro
    PG Allen Iverson
    SG J.R. Smith
    SF Carmelo Anthony
    PF Kenyon Martin or Nene
    C Marcus Camby

    That is an awesome starting 5

  78. I read up above that Kobe deserves to win and Odom only plays when he wants. Odom played a season in pain mentally and physically. He lost an infant had knee problems and then hurt his shoulder and didnt pack it in during the playoffs. If I read ESPN correct he was third in rebounding per game for the playoffs. He has a lot of heart and his game has suffered becasuse the coaching cant figure out how to use him and he defers to Kobe. Kobe doesnt deserve to win more then anyone else who plays hard every game.

    I do believe the Lakers will stand pat to start the season. I believe they think Kobe has over reacted to the end of the season and forgot their good run to start the season. They are hopping they jump off to the same start (have a tougher shcedule this year first 20 games) with no injuries and all will be forgotten. I think they know the JO deal will be there all season and when the Pacers tank they will take less for him. Also they could get more for Kobe at the deadline if the season is heading for the dumper. A team on the edge or if the Bulls decided they need him for the fight they could get more then. I also just got off the ESPN trade machine and Kobe for Caron Butler(who should have never been traded and then there is your big there, grab your ears Laker management and pull your head out of your collective asses) and Gilbert Areans (hometown dog) would work but I am sure Kobe would not go (I guess Washington is not Pluto). I actually really like the Lakers team with that trade. I know blastfemy but from a realistic stand point I will let you all chime in. I also believe the Lakers could run if they had a coach that would allow them. I think if the Lakers would switch up their game and mix run and triangle they could fool people as wel as their transition defense.

    Anyway by 20 games in we should know where Kwame, Mihm and Bynum are and their trade value.

    My heart of hearts I hope they start well and we can keep the team intact but with Kobe saying nohting I think he will inplode and force the issue. I also think the Lakers management is losing their edge and you can blame the little Buss for it. Google his business track record he spells failure. Gerry sell the team to a corporation of ex lakers run by Mr West or trade Cuban.

    I am out peace and thank you for a place for us to converse.

    Ken

  79. (76) Warren,

    What a great analysis!

    Let’s try a hypothetical

    Maybe it could go like this:

    Kobe doesn’t commit–we stand pat.

    or

    Kobe commits and actively recruits Jermaine.

    Lakers and Pacers do a deal “subject to”

    Kobe relinquishes right to opt out for one year.

    Jermaine signs contract extension w/Lakers.

    Is that what you have in mind?

  80. The Laker core for 08 would have to be:

    PG – Farmar / Fisher
    SG – Kobe / Evans
    SF – Walton / Radman
    PF – Odom / Turiaf
    C – Kwame / Mihm

    These are 10 guys that are NBA ready and are ready to contribute. Farmar will see a lot of minutes in the PG as Fisher will continually come off the bench and be preserved for the playoffs. This is the reason why I see the possibility of Crittenton being able to play.

    Bynum’s emergence may largely depend on Mihm being healthy. If Mihm is indeed back to the form he sported before he got injured, we may be better off packaging Bynum in a lesser deal but an effective one. Or we could just revert back to Kwame at the PF and Mihm at C positioning we did in 05.

    This is what standing pat means. With a healthy Mihm and an improved Farmar, the Lakers are a little bit better already. But is it enough to win?

    Andrew Bynum is in a tricky position w/ the Lakers. He is still the team’s 3rd string center. I do not understand the hype. If he is to contribute as early as this year, he should be starting. Until he does, he won’t contribute.

    Mentioning our core, that will basically be the rotation for the beginning of the year, based on some assumptions. The five players left out will be: Crittenton, Sasha, Karl, Cook and Bynum.

    Cant we just trade Bynum for a sure thing Chris Wilcox? package him with Sasha and Cook, deal him to Seattle.

  81. Here is an interesting Article/interview with Jermaine O’neal.

    http://www.hoopsworld.com/article_22961.shtml

    Indiana’s given me the opportunity to establish myself as a really good player in this league,” O’Neal said at the LA Stars charity event in Los Angeles on Sunday. “But if they’re into rebuilding and going young, I’m just not in a position physically to go through another five or six years taking a lot of losses.”

    “If I was going to be traded from Indiana, LA (Lakers) and New Jersey would be my top two teams,” he added.

    “People consider my last two years being down years, but physically I was hurt,” O’Neal said. “I went out and addressed the things I needed to take care of – my meniscus, I’ve played on for two years – I’m 100% right now. I really want to kind of get the opportunity to really rejuvenate myself. At 28, I’m going into my prime, the game is really slowing down for me and I understand it a lot more, so I’m ready to go out and show people what I really can do.”

    And have O’Neal and Bryant discussed with each other the possibility of O’Neal being that support for Bryant? “We’ve spoken a couple times this summer about things in general – about life, about basketball – so he understands where my heart is and what my desires are,” O’Neal said. “He understands that I really want to get back on the court and really prove to some naysayers, especially since my team had a down year. Obviously the best player on the team is going to get all the blame. I really worked out hard this summer and I’m ready to go. If I’m here, I’m going to do my best to get this team to a championship.”

    “It’s been a long relationship that we’ve had and we’ve talked briefly about maybe playing together,” he added, “but obviously until the business side of things gets done, it’s all talk.”

    It looks like he really wants to play with Kobe or Jason Kidd. If he forces the issue he might end up in LA, The pacers cant just let him opt out and get nothing but his salary off the books. But it might have to wait for the start of the season.

  82. G
    This may be a little late,but look at the Denver lineup-who’s going to PASS the ball? They play no D. Relying on K-Mart ‘s health is fools gold,so they can’t trade any of their other bigs. Both K-Mart and Smith have their issues w/Karl who wears out his welcome very quickly. They make a nice fantasy team and will win their share in the regular season,but they flame out fast in the Playoffs.