The Triangle and the Current Lakers

Kurt —  August 13, 2007

Rather than a post about my 12-team trade that would get the Lakers Jermaine O’Neal — and they only have to give up a rack of basketballs and two Laker girls to be named later — regular poster Renato Afonso sent in a very good breakdown of the triangle offense and how the current Lakers fit into it. I added a couple links for the people who like visuals, but these are his thoughts and his opinions — I do not agree with all of them but it is a good breakdown and a great place to start the conversation. Take it away Renato:

The Basics
As the name tells, it’s all based on two triangles that must exist at all times, no matter where a player moves to. Those triangles exist on both the strong side (3 players) and on the weak side (2 players).

The triangle is actually a system where players may choose different ways to start the play and exploit every mismatch that exists if they want to. Each option implies the existence of well defined places that players can occupy almost at will, as long as everyone adjusts accordingly. And each option has a certain degree of freedom that can and should be exploited by the offense.

One common misconception is that sometimes there’s an overload of 4 players on the strong side, which is basically wrong. Whenever you see that overload, it means one of two things: A) One player is totally out of his place; B) The player on the top of the key is not on his place, approaching the strong side to facilitate a pass from the sidelines (which causes havoc on the offense if that pass is actually made).

The Roles
Each position fills a need of the team, but when the triangle is used to perfection, it doesn’t matter who does what, as long as they occupy their place.

PG: He just has to bring the ball forward and read the defense and the mismatches that exist and exploit them. He should be taller than average not only for defensive purposes but also to allow exploring the weak side early on, allowing the PG to post up with just two passes off the dribble without compromising the play or letting the defense know that that’s the option being used.

SG/SF: They basically have the same role in this offense, with height being the only true difference between them. Since the PG (or ball carrier) chooses the side where the offense starts, playing the SG or the SF is a matter of choice or design (or luck) on each and every play.

PF: The most important player in this offense — a team playing the triangle offense without a PF able to rebound and hit the mid-range jump shot consistently won’t win (unless competition really sucks, which is not the case here).

C: Since the offense was originally designed for a quality big man inside, no further explanation is needed here.

How It Works
This offense allows great flexibility on every move or cut, allowing multiple options at all times. Of course, once every player has an option during the offensive motion, the triangle efficiency is proportional to the basketball IQ of the players on court. And that’s the reason why it takes a long time to learn and why Phil Jackson prefers seasoned vets over young guns — and the intangibles as well.

The real key is simple — whenever a pick is set, the player in motion has the option to make a small curl towards the basket allowing him to take an easy mid-range jump shot. So, the players better be good at it. (Editors note: Think about how many times MJ did that.)

What The Lakers Have
PG: For starters, the Lakers have the guards with high basketball IQ and ability to read the game. They might not be the best at it, but they are pretty capable. Maybe they lack some consistent three-point shooting touch, but we don’t have a glaring need at the spot now. Farmar might develop really well into the system.

SG: Kobe. He should rely more on the play and use the picks more wisely with better shot selection. But hey, the man does have some skill. Evans is a decent backup, although his jump shot could be better. No harm done here.

SF: Luke Walton is the perfect triangle player. Nothing else needs to be said. Radmanovic should fit perfectly as a backup, if he ever understands the system.

PF: Lamar Odom is the biggest asset we have in this system. The PF spot allows the player to play inside when he has the advantage or to draw the defender outside if he’s physically stronger. Should Lamar convince himself of the bonus his versatility brings to the offensive motion when spotting up near the top of the key on the weak side and maybe the Lakers could reach higher levels. Turiaf brings intensity on both ends, which is more than enough.

C: Mihm is nothing but a great (one of the best backups offensively) backup. Kwame doesn’t have real low post skill. Bynum is not matured yet (third year leap coming, probably).

A Word About Defense
This post is strictly about the triangle offense, and Lakers needs are far greater on the defensive end. There’s no problem on trading for defense, as long as the main concepts of each position are filled properly.

Bottom Line
We really should trade for a quality center, but if you think about it Jermaine O’Neal is not a true center. Maybe we could even improve our starting point guard, but do you think you can bring a great perimeter defender with high basketball IQ who used to play in the triangle system and who happens to be available? If you do, start a petition and I’ll sign it right away. And yes, the defense needs to be greatly improved, but is someone willing to sacrifice what Walton brings in order to get a top-notch perimeter defender? I’m not. But I’d give up Radmanovic in a heartbeat.

Everyone wants to win, and Kobe has the best NBA system in order to win titles. The path for a title isn’t easy, specially in this West, but I can bet you that this roster would be top 3 in the East with strong possibilities to reach the Finals. If I was Kobe, bringing this roster to the next level (with maybe a small tweak here and there) should be the greatest challenge of his career and in case of success, his greatest accomplishment. (I personally think he cannot do that and we should trade him fast, but that’s a whole different story.)

The best offense…
…is not the triangle. In my opinion, a pure flex is the best offense ever created, but it requires players with similar skill and who are really fast in order to exploit all mismatches. I played flex until I was 18 and then switched to a team who plays the triangle (I’m now 26). The triangle gives us far more options and can be really evil on a defense who is actually trying, but I had the most fun playing the flex… (played the flex again for 1 year when I was 20).

Hope you enjoyed this analysis and start addressing the Lakers problems properly, without thinking on possible trade scenarios (a.k.a. WTS) just to keep Kobe happy.

Renato Afonso

to The Triangle and the Current Lakers

  1. A couple of remarks:

    1) In your description of the triangle, Lamar fits the SF role more than the PF role.

    2) Bynum is a true center who has shown some signs of being an offensive threat already. He’s just not that good of a defender.

    3) Horace Grant did a very nice job of playing the PF in the triangle.

    Solution: Start Lamar at the SF, Bynum at the C, trade Kwame’s expiring for a Horace Grant type PF who can defend, rebound, and shoot the midrange jumper.

    Who is this? Sheed would be perfect, but may not be a possibilty. Maybe there’s a Sheed light out there somewhere. Does anyone have any ideas?


  2. Thanks Renato. I can’t get enough x’s and o’s personally. I loved the FSN West special where they had Phil walking people through the triangle mixed in with in-game examples. I could watch that. Even after all that, and watching 9 championships won using it, my grasp of the triangle is still shaky, but I think I’m finally getting the point to where I can recognize it being run properly when I see it.

    (also Kurt, the first link is something about Charles Weis, not the triangle)


  3. 2. Thanks for the heads up, the link is changed. This is what happens this time of year, we Notre Dame fans start putting links in on “accident.” It’s not intentional, just Freudian.


  4. my take:

    I agree Walton is an important player. I think the proper term for him would be integral. Defense, as you said, is another story. He has to condition himself more and that growth has to come from within himself.

    Odom is a better fit at SF, although, just like I said before, muscle memory might dictate he has become a PF by necessity. If we could, somehow, gain enough big bodies to play the PF and C, Odom could slide back to his more natural position.

    Taking the 96-98 Bulls as a model of comparison, Kobe should be exploiting the mid post more often. I don’t know if its the ankle or the weight, but I have not seen him play this position lately. Strong side mid post, quasi-PG making the entry pass, SF making the cut and PF and C all eyeing the offensive board would be the most ideal play.

    Taking into consideration the health of Mihm and Kwame and the possible full-time inclusion of Bynum in the rotation, we could play a slower and more deliberate half court game with Kwame as the PF and Mihm or Byno at the C. Mihm was given plays to exploit Dampier in the Dallas game where Kobe scored 62 in 3quarters and I think we should go back to that. Don’t be surprised to see Odom-Kwame-Bynum playing all at the same time with Kobe and Farmar.

    At best, this lineup can make waves. Though JO’s back-to-basket and drive would certainly give this team more dimensions on offense, Odom’s value to the triangle is equally important. If Kwame and Bynum could somehow play together, or Mihm, Odom can roam free being the SF once more.

    Again, defensive rotations would be an altogether different discussion.


  5. the other Stephen August 13, 2007 at 11:30 pm

    1) rasheed is getting on in years (bless his bones), and he doesn’t crash inside like he used to. of course, that’s not to say he wouldn’t be useful as a veteran when the pistons cast eventually flames out together. david west and antawn jamison come to mind, since they can thrive in the midrange, hit the three, and pull down some 6-8 rebounds per game, but they’re both shorties who play sub-average defense. west is probably entrenched with the hornets for a while, and jamison can only get older.


  6. the other Stephen August 13, 2007 at 11:32 pm

    and that’s not a wild trade speculation. just making sure i don’t get pinned on the witch hunt. =)


  7. 3) oh wow, I think I just found out something I wish I hadn’t… I guess we can keep things focused on the NBA and no one has to get hurt..

    More on topic, (even though my grasp of its complexities is admittedly frail) I remain a firm believer that if you surround a superstar with smart guys who know their roles in a well-designed offense like the triangle, you can be successful. Particularly with someone as good as Kobe at the center. I think we all agree Fish, Luke, and Lamar fit the bill (and I’d add Farmar and Ronny probably). A healthy Mihm could also be included. Bynum could potentially move into that group this year, but while acknowledging his physical gifts, I remain cautious about his on-court IQ.

    Going back through old games on NBAtv (especially the 94 Houston team loaded with Thorpe, Maxwell, Horry, Elie, Kenny the Jet, a young Cassell, etc) the importance of quality role players becomes clear. With that view, I think I share a lot folks’ guarded optimism for the coming year, despite the lack of a major shakeup.


  8. 6 – other Stephen…

    I think its ok to covet someone as long as you do not provide a pathway to it, or else it becomes speculative 🙂

    For instance, saying I like Wilcox to play the PF for us as Odom reverts back to his more natural SF position is ok. Just do not assume Seattle’s demands for this trade or else it constitutes speculation.


  9. 1. 4.,

    While the SF is Lamar’s natural position, specially because he doesn’t like all the physical play that goes on inside, I honestly believe he’s a better fit at PF if he uses the triangle options properly.

    Let me explain…

    Lamar doesn’t like playing the low post against anyone who isn’t considerably weaker than him, and that shows. So, if he stays on the perimeter he will lose effectiveness because he is simply a step slower than most SF’s in the league. That would mean that his mid range jump shot will most likely be easily contested, due to the nature of his skills. However, should he play the PF and pull his defender to the perimeter, then he would be able to actually use his skill to the fullest extent.

    Bottomline, Lamar brings versatility and he should play the PF most of the time, playing as SF whenever the opposing team features a small or phisically weaker SF. (e.g., against Washington, Lamar should play the SF in order to exploit Butler’s inability to defend him down low).

    Regarding Turiaf, how is his mid-range jumper nowadays? Anyone knows anything about it? He would be the type of player you would want stepping in as PF when moving Lamar outside.

    4. Warren,

    Kobe doesn’t have the strenght to play the low post. He even got thinner during this summer, so he should exploit other options (unless he’s posting up against Steve Nash)

    JO’s footwork ability is terrible… seriously… he has some quickness but the technique is aweful.

    And I wouldn’t trade for Wilcox… the man has no heart or even a glimpse of desire.

    5. Sheed would be a nice addition, but the man is getting old fast (and not winning enough rebounds)


  10. I liked the breakdown of the offense. I’m not sure how Odom fits in the offense best. Clearly his natural position is SF, but I agree with Renato that he is a step slower than a lot of the quicker SF in the league. But he is not strong enough to play PF either. That has been one of the problems with Odom. I don’t think he knows exactly where he fits in the offense and all too often he just stands and watches Kobe. I think its a matter of exploiting different match ups with Odom. That is how he would be most effective in the offense and I think last year he started to learn how to create match up problems within the offense.

    I think the Lakers need to improve in two spots. One is that they need a better rebounder on the inside. Someone that would goes after all rebounds both offensive and defensive. The Lakers also could use a defensive minded wing player. The player does not need to be a great player, just a smart defensive player. Someone like Rick Fox. I can still remember the Sacremento series where completely frustrated Peja Stojakavic. Not sure how the Lakers address these two probems though.


  11. highly unlikely Rumor

    I doubt the Clippers would do anything to help the Lakers out, but it would be nice of them if they did. Interesting… , a deal that would send Maggette across the hall to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Kwame Brown would appear to make the most sense. Of course, under the NBA’s trade rules, small parts like Will Conroy would have to be included to make the salaries match. But Brown would be a short term fix for the Clippers since he is in the final year of his contract, and would pair with Kaman as a very young exciting frontcourt tandem. For the Lakers, they would insert the talented small forward into the starting lineup between Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom while freeing up minutes in the paint for the emerging Andrew Bynum.


  12. 11. Might as well just merge the two teams together.


  13. rename the teamto the clackers


  14. Maggette in the triangle would be HILARIOUS, not to mention that he would be a futher negative on defense.

    Its really a trade that makes no sense.

    Why the Clackers and not the Clickers?


  15. Maggette is a poor version of Kobe’s skill set (but with bigger arms). Horrible idea. Renato’s post gushes more about Luke than I do, but his skill set at the three is a much better fit for the Tri than Maggette.


  16. Kwame to the clips seems to be asking for a “do over” from the original trade of Butler for Brown. But hey, with a merger we would have rights to Livingston if/when he is healthy, but I don’t know how our colors will merge. Gold and red? Blue and purple? Ok, let’s move on…


  17. I like the idea of situating Odom in the lineup in best accordance to a mismatch. But if I had to side with one position for him, I like the mismatches he creates at the 4 spot better, being able to take practically any PF in the league off the dribble and to the rim.

    Although sliding him over to the 3 at times would be nice to give my man Ronny more burn. Aside from sustained health and big moves, a consistent jumper from Ronny to go with his energy for the intangibles would be huge. He should be doing shooting drills with Cook over the summer, while Ronny could teach him to have a pulse while not standing and stroking the rock.


  18. Andrew is going into his third year and we expect a good deal of progress, however…
    1) His position is center and his age is young. Centers take longer to develop.
    2) He had very little basketball experience when drafted. Most of his experience comes from his time as a professional.

    We could argue whether or not he should have been drafted, but right now we have to remember the above two points.

    We expect this man to play the triangle offense and he is also trying to learn fundamentals AND defensive concepts. From what I have seen over the last 2 years (do not try to compare him to other players) I think he will be much better than average. At this point in his development it would be a shame to trade him. We will have to put up with some bball IQ mistakes this year, however, because he probably cannot be equally skilled in the system, the fundamentals, and the defense.

    When we talk about trading him, just remember we will probably will be without Kwame and Mihm (1yr opt out) next year. JO is not an answer at center and I don’t see anyone better than Andrew we could trade for.


  19. the other Stephen August 14, 2007 at 11:25 am

    11, 12, 13, 14, 15) I think I suggested making the said Mega L.A. team many months ago. Course, none of ya’ll said shibby when I brought it up. =( You’re right about Maggette, of course, but as a side thought, isn’t it at least nice to see someone other than Kobe penetrate once in awhile? Otherwise you’re just watching the Chinese National team all day.


  20. I’ve been recently out of home for a while and now that I’m back I’ve just discovered something REALLY AWFUL for basketball

    No, I’m not talking about NBA referees altering scores, I’m talking about INTERNATIONAL PLAYERS AND COACHES ALTERING SCORES!

    The situation is that, in the Europan U18 tournament that’s been played these days in Spain, Serbia Lithuania and Spain were battling for the top 2 spots in their group that allowed to play the semifinals of the tournament.
    The last game to play was Serbia vs. Lithuania.
    The possibles combinations were:

    a) Serbia wins–> 1.Serbia, 2.Spain, 3.Lithuania(out of medals)
    b)Serbia loses by 4 or less–>1.Lithuania, 2.Serbia, 3.Spain(out of medals)
    c)Serbia loses by more than 4–> 1.Lithuania, 2.Spain, 3.Serbia (out of medals)

    now please, have a look at this video of the last 40 seconds of the game where Lithuania is wining by 6 points (73-67):

    you can see clearly in the last 2 plays of the game (Lithuania up by 8) that Lithuania, in the first of those 2 plays allows a Serbian to get to the basket without any oposite defense and then in the inbounding while having 2 players open THEY GIVE THE BALL to the serbian under the basket and score the more easy layup ever seen by my eyes. Score 75-71 and the game is over as the ball is inbounded again.

    I’m just furious, angry, disapointed, frustrated and all kind of adjectives you can imagine to describe my situation.

    have this images been shown in the states?
    I need some of your wisely words to not kill myself seeing the purity of the sport I love the most been violated in my own house


  21. wops, an icon wasn’t suposed to be there there was 8 )


  22. I like Shelden Williams in Atlanta. Great rebounder and shot blocker.

    Plus Atlanta has too many big men (if that’s possible). They have Marvin Williams as their starter, they just drafted Al Horford, and they also have Zaza Pachulia, Solomon Jones, and Lorenzen Wright.

    What don’t they have? Shooters. They have absolutely zero shooters.

    What do we have? Vlade Radmanovic, Brian Cook, and Sasha Vujacic. All shooters.

    Let’s make a deal.


  23. If the SG and SF start out high, and the PF and C start out low, there are four permutations:
    (a) SG left, PF left
    (b) SG left, PF right
    (c) SG right, PF left
    (d) SG right, PF right

    I wonder to what extent the Lakers use each of the four, and whether it is almost always, sometimes, or almost never intentional as they advance up the floor. (a) and (d) put the SG on the PF’s side, and (b) and (c) put the SG on the C’s side. Do Kobe and Odom usually start on the same side? That sort of thing.


  24. 23. Robin,

    Without actually having Lakers facts about it, I can tell you that players are usually more confortable starting on one given side of the court and practice more the play on one side.

    The real kick in the triangle is a small variant, which spreads the weak side triangle a little bit wider, as the PF starts on the 3pt line in the following of the FT line (is this clear? the place on court I’m talking?). Kinda like at 45º to the basket.

    So the PG can actually pass to the SG on his side, cut towards the corner opposite to the ball. The SG passes to the PF and makes a pick at the FT line (on the opposite side of the ball). The C makes a pick down low, for the PG at the corner.

    SF cuts to the top of the key and has the option to make an easy jumper. PG cuts to the low post and gets the ball fed if he has height advantage (that’s why PG’s should be tall). If he doesn’t receive the ball, he cuts to the corner, the C cuts to the side of the ball and the SG goes further into the weak side, with the SF going near the corner.

    The mismatch is made. You got Lamar on the strong side with the ball. Farmar on the corner (or Fisher) and Bynum down low wih the defensive help lacking in height! Odom can dribble to the middle draw the defenders and feed the center or kick to kobe/walton for the shot. Or he can feed the ball inside, forcing the opposing PF to collapse on Bynum (who must pass). Or he can even pass to Kobe, who’s on the weak side with a clear path to the rim.

    I dunno if you can see the play happening like I described, but I’ll try and find an animation for it…


  25. One small detail.

    The pass from Odom to Kobe goes through Walton. Forgot to type that…


  26. So is bringing the ball up by yourself and jacking up a 32-footer with 16 on the clock part of the triangle? I didn’t notice that in there and that seems to be the offense the Lakers run at many times.

    As far as that U18 game, didn’t Spain rig the game before that against one of those teams for them to win? Seems like just desserts? I’m never surprised by a party acting in their own best interests. Set up the rules to encourage an exploitable element and it will be exploited.

    Similarly, since many NBA games are fixed by the league office anyway, why would one official feel guilty about trying to profit himself as well?


  27. 20. There has been a blip of a mention of this in the US (unless I missed it somewhere), but it is shocking and disturbing. That may be as bad a thing as I remember seeing on a basketball court.


  28. What schocks me the most is the age of these kids. They’re 17 and 18… Why would they fall for something like this?

    And most of all, Lithuania was getting through… besides money or family held at gunpoint, why would those guys do this?

    And I still love you JohnR… 😛


  29. 22 – Carter

    Any deal to take away Cook and Vlade would be a bonus for us. These 2, while they may be decent shooters at best should not have the contracts they have now. Vlade would have been fine for 2 less years, Cook would have been fine for 2 less millions.


  30. ive been a kobe fan ever since i was a lil kid and i just want to say thanks for explaining what exactly the triangle offense is (and i agree with who ever said the flex is the best and the most fun)
    i think we have a pretty good team we just need to give them a chance to develop
    next year i think we make the finals if not win them (hopefully we trade vlade for somebody more suitible for our teams situation)
    im just sayin we have an extremely young team and they will be ready to step up and if they are practicing with kobe that will just make them all the bettter and personally i think it was kinda retarded for them to resign Mihm its just gonna be a waste of money i mean its not like we have the cap space to make a significant deal with a decent free agent but he’s been injured that past two years on and off so i just don’t see the sense of it we could have gotten a different center with the same abilities that might not be injured so often
    and GO LAKERS!!


  31. Mihm was a great signing for a good price.

    Exactly who else would you get for that money, that also knows the system and players?


  32. I see that you all are addressing comments by number … but why is it that all the numbers show up as “1” for me? Is this a Safari issue?

    Does anyone remember those guys with the uniforms split down the middle during Lakers/Clippers games? That’s what the Clackers’ uniforms should look like …

    Renato, is there a current NBA or college team that uses the flex offense?


  33. hmmm one question the most dominating triangle offense ever had at the most important position a guy who airballed a fair few of his free throws RODMAN explain how that works?


  34. Just finished rewatching Kobe’s 81 game. Some random (not-too-original) thoughts: Mihm is very solid. This is easy to forget. Let’s hope he’s healthy. Smush can be thrilling to watch, but he can also frustratingly stupid. Speaking of frustrating, I can’t wait for the day when I don’t have to curse every time the ball bounces off of Kwame’s carny hands. Also, it’s exciting how much better Toronto has gotten so quickly.

    Finally, if it’s possible to be widely regarded as the best player in the game and under-appreciated at the same time, Kobe somehow is. He does things no one else can come close to doing. Assuming he sticks around, Minnesota will provide a nice little snap shot of how painful life could have been. If he doesn’t, god help us.


  35. the other Stephen August 15, 2007 at 2:31 am

    32) i think toronto uses it.


  36. 33 – Rodman was rebounding machine and a defensive stud. You can airball a couple of shots, but if you make 7 offensive boards per game (with possible putbacks) I think you pretty much make up for it.

    Also, Pippen had a scoring ability and an all-around game that were exploited to the fullest extent by the offense.


  37. 32., Emma,

    Nowadays is mostly used in women’s basketball and almost every college has a flex option.

    Regarding men’s teams, most of them use the flex at one point or another… I don’t have enough access to NCAA games to really breakdown who uses it as a main offensive system. But if you pay attention to fast-breaks, you’ll see if they use the flex-break or not, which indicates either a triangle offense or a flex offense, and since the triangle is easy to recognize…


  38. Renato,
    Thanks for the triangle definition. For the rest of us, could you say a bit more about the flex. Yes, I read the last few comments, but I still am pretty fuzzy.


  39. 15. I almost love that Brown-for-Maggette trade, Kurt.

    Who of the two would be the more desirable bargaining chip in a trade for somebody else? The Clips need some serious short-term PF help this year, so they have very limited options on how to fill that gap. Doing that deal would be a very shrewd way to accumulate more desirable trade assets.

    Maybe some other team we’re talking to wants Maggette and didn’t have any pieces the Clippers liked.


  40. If we have to talk about that Kwame-Maggette stuff…

    First, the Clips are not interested in adding a non-presence in Kwame in exchange for their now best scorer in Maggette. Who will then put the ball in the basket? Cuttino Mobley?

    Second, If Maggette is indeed available for Kwame straight up, swing him to Indiana plus Bynum and fillers for JO. We do not need Maggette.


  41. We do not need JO as well…


  42. Thanks, Renato … I’ll read more on that website you linked to. I didn’t think the triangle offense was used during fast breaks …


  43. Emma,

    Just one thing: that fast break was designed for the flex offense, however due to having the same options at the beginning of the offense it can (and most times is) be used with a triangle offense.

    The links on the plays are all Kurt’s doing, not mine 😉


  44. Hi there…

    Since the subject is Triangle Offense Lakers Style, i would like to share my thoughts with all of the Blue and Gold readers :

    1 – The Triangle Offense (TO) is a very complicated system that needs a lot of development in terms of practice. It also requires that the players have solid fundamentals (like Walton) so their ability to read what is going on allows them to make the right decisions.
    2 – Contrary to other Offensive Systems (not Set Plays) in the TO the players that don’t have the ball also make decisions that dictate the movement of other players and the ball (ex: on the weak side triangle with the ball on the trigger player, the inside player that is on the top of the key has 3 options, the pick and roll, to post up down low and to set a screen on the strong side for a shooter).
    3 – With this in mind, we must concur that the TO is a System that requires two big players and a bunch of role players that can make open shots.
    4 – Kobe is a perfect fit for any kind of offense, but specially this one. From all the SG/SF in the league he is the best (and maybe the only) that consistently makes shots in the 15-20 foot range. However, like Jordan struggled in the beggining, he struggles in knowing what are his best options to get a shot. Jordan was very effective coming of screens for a catch and shoot, or for a 1 dribble shot (because the defender had to get past the screen and Jordan was the perfect decision maker in knowing where to go next). Of course the TO has a lot of isolation situations, and the Lakers do plenty of that, but Kobe would increase his FG% if he (and this is up to Phil Jackson) used the TO’s better. His lack of tactical knowledge is appalling for a guy with his natural ability and killer instinct.
    5 – The perfect SF for the TO needs to be fast and a bit of a slasher. It also needs good hands, since he has the ball a lot and is expected to dish the ball inside, from penetrations or from the wing. Lamar Odom does not have what it takes to fill this role. He can only slash to the basket when he is being defended by other PF’s heavier than him. The perfecti fit would be Luol Deng, but i doubt the lakers can get him. A Deng+Brown trade with the Bulls for Odom+Anybody would really take the Lakers to another level.
    6 – The PF position is vital to the TO system. It is the player that sets the most screens to the carrier of the ball and makes decisions in terms of positioning that influence the rest of the team’s movement. Jermaine O’Neal has some of the qualities required (plays well the pick’n’roll, where is footwork is not an issue since he is already in movement when he gets the ball, and has a nice stroke from the outside) but he lacks in fundamentals to understand what the other four guys are doing (that’s the problem with high school studs).
    7 – The C position is an ambivalent position in the TO’s. It goes for a superstar C (like Shaq) or a crash test dummy just standing around (like Mihm, Longley, Bill Wennington, and the other below the average player that did that position for the Bulls). If you have a superstar C all the other position guys could be role players that make open shots (harper, shaw, fisher, horry, kerr, even buechler did nice for the bulls). If you have a sub-par C you must have 2 good outside players.
    8 – The PG is an understated position in the TO. It is different having Ron Harper than BJ Armstrong and it is different having Derek Fisher than Smush (great name) or Jordan Farmar. The PG starts the offense, and sets the side and the “trigger” man for the rest of that specific play.

    With that said, and regarding the roster that the Lakers have:
    PG – Derek Fisher should get most of the minutes and will improve the way the TO is ran and will give an outside shot threat that was much needed, PG Farmar and Crittenton have the size and speed for the PG position but both must improve on the decision making and outside shooting.
    SG – Uberstar Kobe will get all the minutes and Sasha is a very nice role player with great understanding of the game and an uncanny ability in defense to drive the opposition mad and should as well be playing some minutes at PG.
    SF – Walton will be the starting SF and he is much better than most people think, it was just to bad that ankle injury that slowed his progression last season, and Evans should benefit from last years experience in the TO to start putting up bigger numbers. Brian Cook fits this position just as well, too bad that he only plays alone and shoots every ball he touches.
    PF – Odom is a casting error right from the start, since he is the Anti-TO player. Vladimir is a nuthead that ended up in a city just right for nutheads, but he as great shot and is very gifted with the ball. In the league you have Kurt Thomas, PJ Brown as the oerfect fits for this position with Kobe on the floor. If Turiaf ever gets more than 15 minutes a game he is a lock for the job.
    C – Brown and Mihm are sub-par players, even tough Mihm still plays some defense. This should be the year for Bynum to get a lot of minutes, if he is any close to what they say of him.

    Bottomline – The Triangle Offense System is a great attacking system, but it takes a lot to develop and the players must have certain qualities in each position. The Lakers problem is that they have little time with it and most of the players don’t fit in the system. Drafting High School prospects with poor fundamentals doesn’t help. But you still have Kobe, and on the day that he develops some kind of intelligence regarding team play, you’ll do fine.


  45. Hi there…

    Since the subject is Triangle Offense Lakers Style, i would like to share my thoughts with all of the Blue and Gold readers :

    1 – The Triangle Offense (TO) is a very complicated system that needs a lot of development in terms of practice. It also requires that the players have solid fundamentals (like Walton) so their ability to read what is going on allows them to make the right decisions.
    2 – Contrary to other Offensive Systems (not Set Plays) in the TO the players that don’t have the ball also make decisions that dictate the movement of other players and the ball (ex: on the weak side triangle with the ball on the trigger player, the inside player that is on the top of the key has 3 options, the pick and roll, to post up down low and to set a screen on the strong side for a shooter).
    3 – With this in mind, we must concur that the TO is a System that requires two big players and a bunch of role players that can make open shots.
    4 – Kobe is a perfect fit for any kind of offense, but specially this one. From all the SG/SF in the league he is the best (and maybe the only) that consistently makes shots in the 15-20 foot range. However, like Jordan struggled in the beggining, he struggles in knowing what are his best options to get a shot. Jordan was very effective coming of screens for a catch and shoot, or for a 1 dribble shot (because the defender had to get past the screen and Jordan was the perfect decision maker in knowing where to go next). Of course the TO has a lot of isolation situations, and the Lakers do plenty of that, but Kobe would increase his FG% if he (and this is up to Phil Jackson) used the TO’s better. His lack of tactical knowledge is appalling for a guy with his natural ability and killer instinct.
    5 – The perfect SF for the TO needs to be fast and a bit of a slasher. It also needs good hands, since he has the ball a lot and is expected to dish the ball inside, from penetrations or from the wing. Lamar Odom does not have what it takes to fill this role. He can only slash to the basket when he is being defended by other PF’s heavier than him. The perfecti fit would be Luol Deng, but i doubt the lakers can get him. A Deng+Brown trade with the Bulls for Odom+Anybody would really take the Lakers to another level.

    (to be continued…)


  46. 6 – The PF position is vital to the TO system. It is the player that sets the most screens to the carrier of the ball and makes decisions in terms of positioning that influence the rest of the team’s movement. Jermaine O’Neal has some of the qualities required (plays well the pick’n’roll, where is footwork is not an issue since he is already in movement when he gets the ball, and has a nice stroke from the outside) but he lacks in fundamentals to understand what the other four guys are doing (that’s the problem with high school studs).
    7 – The C position is an ambivalent position in the TO’s. It goes for a superstar C (like Shaq) or a crash test dummy just standing around (like Mihm, Longley, Bill Wennington, and the other below the average player that did that position for the Bulls). If you have a superstar C all the other position guys could be role players that make open shots (harper, shaw, fisher, horry, kerr, even buechler did nice for the bulls). If you have a sub-par C you must have 2 good outside players.
    8 – The PG is an understated position in the TO. It is different having Ron Harper than BJ Armstrong and it is different having Derek Fisher than Smush (great name) or Jordan Farmar. The PG starts the offense, and sets the side and the “trigger” man for the rest of that specific play.

    (To be continued…)


  47. Jose Miranda–have you even watched a single Laker game, or do you simply form your opinion by reading basketball blogs?

    Kobe is the most fundamentally sound player on the Lakers. He is a better ball-handler, passer, shooter, and defender than Luke Walton. Walton doesn’t start for any other team in the league, including Charlotte.

    No one questioned Kobe’s team-play when Fox, Horry, Harper and Shaw were knocking down wide open jump shots.


  48. Hi Jose (44) (45) (46),

    I like your analysis a great deal. In particular, I feel that you have done an exceptional job of explaining the importance of team concept and fundamental skills. You may have captured much of what Phil said last year when he referred to the team as “slugs.”

    I think you have also captured why the Lakers are still on the trade market. Either Kobe or Lamar on the court with the right 4 other guys can be effective, but together, they neither complement each other nor truly are running the triangle.

    Although Lamar has great heart and athleticism, it is not clear that his triangle IQ will rise much above escargot. Although I’m not sure how we get him, my candidate for Laker PF is Pau Gasol. How do you think he would rate in that role with the triangle?

    I think that you underrate Jordan Farmar a great deal by putting him in the same category as Crittendon. Though Javaris may well have the athleticism and intelligence to master the triangle, it won’t happen this year. Jordan is the starting PG, already has demonstrated intelligence and leadership, and Derek will complement him and mentor him.


  49. This is where I disagree with Jose the most…

    I believe Odom doesn’t realize his versatility and strenghts, while understanding the triangle. Jose thinks it’s the other way around.


  50. NEWS

    ‘No Reason Not To Be’ At Lakers’ Training Camp
    Kobe Bryant has said this week that he no longer wishes to make his unhappiness with the current state of the Lakers an issue.

    “I’m not making it an issue any more,” Bryant told the Los Angeles Times.

    He was also asked whether or not he will be in training camp.

    “I have no reason not to be,” he said.

    He was then asked about whether he may never play for the Lakers again, as reported by Bryant’s confidant, ESPN’s Ric Bucher.

    “You know what, man, we’ll see what happens.”


  51. Guys guys guys….I just don’t understand how you all think this current laker team has a chance?


  52. Toto,
    I’ll ask same question you asked Jose. The Lakers hitting all those open shots were often passes from Shaq.
    There are scorers and there are playmakers. Kobe is a scorer supreme. When he drives to basket he’s thinking of shooting and nothing else. Only when he sees no possible chance of getting a shot off will he pass out at the last minute. Watch a routine game of Kobe’s and notice how smooth,how fluid he is squeezing around,over,thru defenders as he is tries to score on a drive.Watch and see how disjointed,how contorted he is making a pass off a drive.
    Playmakers on the other hand seem to pass as fluidly as they shoot on a drive. They go into the lane looking for somebody to score,whether it’s a teammate or themselves doesn’t matter. A Nash,Kidd,McGrady often look far more fluid,more comfortable on their passes than on the shots they so often seem to force. A Kobe,an Iverson,a Carmelo look far smoother on their shots than on their passes.
    This difference has an impact on their teammates. A player on the court w/a playmaker knows he’s going to get the ball if he’s open,so he’s mentally ready to shoot at all times. Playing w/a scorer,the player doesn’t really expect a pass,so when he gets one he’s mentally not ready and all too often rushes his shot.

    An example of Kobe’s scoring mentality occurred in a game at the end of the yr. Kobe and Turaif were on left,the other 3 Lakers were on rt side of court. Ball swung to Kobe and Kobe blew by his man instantly. Kobe headed towards rim from left,Turaif’s man collapsed into paint,and two other defenders dropped into lane to help defend against Kobe. Turaif is near baseline about 6′ from lane. Kobe is angling in towards basket and every defender is to Kobe’s front or right. A little flip pass and Turaif has a wide open 12′ jumper. Kobe however charges into rim,misses shot,but gets a bailout foul and makes the free throws. Lakers get 2 points and pick up a foul on other team so it’s all good. Except a McGrady,Kidd would have made the pass.(IN identical situations,McGrady several times passed to Motumbo,who proceeded to launch the ugliest shot in the NBA,a couple of which amazingly went in!) They would have rewarded the player for hard work,kept him in the game,proved to other players that if they get open they’ll get the ball and if the shot is made a couple of times,keeps the defender indecisive for an extra split second,giving an extra bit of space on the next drive.
    I’m not saying Kobe can’t pass,or that he can’t make jaw-dropping,leap off your couch,I gotta see that a few dozen more times passes. I’m saying that he is looking to score personally on each possesion and that passing is a last resort. That his teammates soon learn this and aren’t mentally ready for when he does pass. Whereas a playmaker passes to open players and they know that if they get open they will get the ball and so when they get open they are ready to shoot and do so w/far more confidence. A playmaker will continue to pass to a struggling shooter,where a scorer isn’t giving the ball to a player who’s missed a couple of shots. The scorer’s approach may win the game,the playmaker’s approach will payoff down the road.

    One thing that nobody points out about the Lakers start last yr when talking about how they moved the ball,the offence flowed,they were a great passing team,etc. is that Kobe began the season still recovering from his leg problems. He said that he couldn’t accelerate and elevate like he was used to doing and that he was having to use his teammates more. That is what makes last yr so sad for me as a NBA fan. Just as he was getting @100% healthy,everybody else started dropping like flies,causing Kobe to return to the old Kobe,Kobe,Kobe offense. It would have answered many of the questions about Kobe to see him and the Lakers at full health after that start. Would Kobe be content to stay the centerpiece of a balanced offense,or would he have fallen prey to I can’t trust anybody else,I’ve got to score?


  53. “Tom Champers”
    There are 5 teams in the West that won’t make the Playoffs-Seattle(already tanking),Portland,Minn,Sacremento and Clippers. The top 5 teams from last yr will make it this yr.Denver has an edge on the rest because 3 of bad teams are in its Div. Of the remaining 4,Memphis and NO have to play 12 games against Spurs,Mavs,Rockets-one will get crushed by them and miss out and given a Kobe-Lakers versus a Davis(how bad will this season’s injury be)-Warriors,I’ll take the Lakers. Once in they have a shot at a First Rd upset and from there it’s matchups.


  54. 51. I couldn’t agreee more. Chris Andersen could come off of his suspension and start for the Lakers without a day of practice, simply because he can run, jump, and act like he wants to be on the court.


  55. I fail to see why anyone thinks Farmar is by default the starting PG. Why wouldn’t you start Fisher, who is a better shooter, defender, and knows the triangle in and out? What sense does it make to start Farmar over D-Fish? He gets abused on the pick and roll, gets bullied by bigger guards, and is not a great shooter. Fish is better in all those regards.

    As for Kobe in the triangle, I disagree about the whole passing thing. He makes some of the best passes I’ve seen this side of Kidd/Nash. The problem is that when his teammates miss time after time again, he gets discouraged and the Lakers are down 8 pts or so and he feels he has to save the day. It’s tough when the Lakers get no consistent play from anyone outside of Kobe, Odom (for the most part), and Luke to a lesser extent. I am excited to have Mihm back if he can return to the player he was for the Lakers before the injury. He rebounds, plays D, and hits open jumpers. That’s a big plus for the team.


  56. 55. Amen. Everyone on here always says Farmer will start, which boggles my mind. There’s not a chance in hell that happens, at least in the beginning of the season. Unless he’s made tremendous strides, Jackson will always go with the veteran.

    I don’t think Fish is much better in most areas, but obviously he knows a tad more than Jordan does at the moment.


  57. 55. By default, I think everyone thinks that Fisher is the starting point guard.

    My take is that Fisher will start, and by midway season, Farmar will take over the starting position. I bet many other Laker fans feel the same way. Why? Because Farmar probably WILL be a better defender than Fish (if he adds some muscle), and he is a pretty good playmaker. From what I’ve heard, he has a superb work ethic.


  58. Fisher is a 3-yr mentorship and rental of a proven veteran. He is best preserved for the playoffs and play enough quality minutes during the course of the rigorous season. Farmar already has the qualities of a starting PG. Best of all, he does not mind. Start or not, work ethic lands you a job.

    Farmar is our PG now and for the future – unless Crittenton can “surprisingly surprise” us. Fisher will be the closer if Farmar’s game needs some polishing. Over-all, Farmar starts on Oct. 30th vs Houston. Maybe its just me.


  59. Since there were a lot of questions i’ve decided to make a brief response to them:

    1 – Toto, i’ve watched about 80 games of the Lakers past two seasons, I’m a basketball coach in my country and have been trying to run the TO System on my team for the last two and a half years. I didn’t said that Kobe had poor fundamentals or was a bad team player, i said “His lack of tactical knowledge is appalling for a guy with his natural ability and killer instinct” and that is what makes the Lakers run only isolations on the TO for him, because what he is able to do is a product of his skill, his physical ability and his mindset to overcome everybody individually. However, tactically Kobe’s learning curve should have reached a higher point at his present age. The lack of college basketball might be an answer, other could be the fact that he never had to be tactically sound to be a very good player.

    2 – Anonymous, i think Farmar has great instincts for the game and i loved to watch him play in UCLA, but this is a faster league and his decision making needs to improve and so does his outside shot. Fisher knows the system, knows his ways around the league and can make open and tough shots (specially those with 0.4 on the clock…).

    3 – Renato Afonso, i believe Odom is the Anti-Triangle. In a Flex System, mismatches can be used due to the variation of which players occupies each position, but in the TO a PF needs to be a PF and a C needs to be a C. The Flex is more open to those kinds of mismatch exploitation from coaches. But you will never see a team in the NBA (except for Phoenix and sometimes GS, depending who is on court) that plays 4 outside guys and 1 center.


  60. Jose Miranda,
    Loved your analysis (like Renato’s start to this thread), but would like a brief overview of the flex. I am not a coach, just an interested fan.

    Regarding all your statement about Fisher starting…I think that Phil will try to start Farmar because he desperately wants Fisher in the game at the end and in the playoffs. If he logs too many minutes – and Phil will tend to do this, given the other 3 starters – he will wear down. Phil knows his own weaknesses and I suspect he will try start Farmar. They are an ideal combination because each will either start or come off the bench without any complaint.

    If Farmar really comes on this year, he may earn some time at the end of games, but in the playoffs expect to see Fisher’s minutes rise.


  61. The decision of starting Fish or Farmar is something Phill will have to decide after watching the two in camp. I’ve said starting Jordan is a logical move if Farmar has improved this offseason for three reasons: 1) Farmar did have some issues with the high pick-and-roll last year, but if you think D Fish is a big improvement on defense you haven’t watched him in years (or remember only his good parts), Farmar is likely the better defender; 2) Fish has always been more effective as a player off the bench than as a starter; 3) This is the big reason — Fish is older and his minutes need to be kept down to keep him fresh for the entire season. What I’m suggesting is something like this could work: Farmar starts and plays 25 minutes, Fish comes off the bench and plays 18, and Crittenton gets 5, as Fish is the better shooter he likely plays the end of games (depending on matchups and hot hands).

    These are just ideas, camp will give everyone a better picture of how this shakes out.


  62. Jose (59),

    I was anonymous (drrayeye), due to some glitch. My analysis is identical to Kurt’s (61). Farmar and Fisher are potentially a great pair at pg.

    I know it seems irrelevent now, but I see opportunities for a Pau Gasol trade emerging either later this season or before next season. How do you see him fitting into “our” triangle?


  63. Fisher will start to open the season if for nothing else than sentimentality. He might be the only “feel good” story in the entire Laker off-season (and in no way do I mean to downplay the circumstances that brought D-Fish home, I’m just alluding to the fact that if you could say one positive thing about this crazy offseason it’s that D-Fish will wear the purple and gold again). Until the Lakers prove they can win consistently with this painfully similar roster, the front office will need to ride whatever positive Laker fans can find, and right now most have a warm, fuzzy feeling for Fisher.

    I think Farmar will get the majority of minutes at the PG spot, but Fish will more than likely start, if only at the beginning of the season.


  64. I see Jackson starting Fish over Farmar. I base this on Jackson’s past decisions such as AC Green over Horry and Harper over Fish and Shaw.


  65. drrayeye,

    Why exactly do you see an opportunity for a Gasol deal later on? The guy is a young, All-Star center and at his salary is quite reasonably priced. I know the Grizzlies are young, but Gasol is at the age where he will be very effective when the likes of Gay, Conley, Millic, etc. are at their best. I don’t see a reason the Grizzlies would want to trade him.


  66. I see the Memphis acquisition of Navarro as an appeasement to Gasol and his trade request.


  67. 52. You’d be right if Turiaf could hit a 12′ jumper, but he can’t. That’s the problem.


  68. 61. Craig W.,

    The flex is so old it actually has many variants or ways to be played. For instance, I played the Indiana State flex while Jose Miranda prefers to coach a 3-2 flex or an eagle (if I’m not mistaken)

    However, an in-depth flex analysis is up to Kurt, as it’s not something the Lakers use nowadays nor will in the near future. I believe the Lakers have probably one of the best rosters for it, but in todays NBA, I’m really not sure it would work (contrary to the international game).

    Oh, by the way, don’t ever mistake Flex for small ball or Suns run and gun game…

    So, if Kurt’s wants to, I’ll be willing to break it down… 🙂


  69. Turiaf is hesitant with his midrange game but when he strokes it with confidence the ball drops for him. I think Ronny will have a breakout year.


  70. I was just skimming through all this stuff and it’s great, I love the triangle and am really intrigued by it. No offense to people who want Jermaine O’Neal, but I just don’t think that he will really fit into the Triangle. As the original poster said that Jermaine is not a true center, I totally agree. When the Pacers were dominant in the O’Neal era it was when he was paired with Brad Miller. I know Brad can step out and hit the jumper and his passing is great, which you might would tempt you to say that he is not a true center. Jermaine is not the guy that wants to bang in the physical western conference. He doesn’t even bang in the east. But Jermaine is all about getting his shots up from around 15 feet out. I don’t think that he would fill that role of center for the Lakers. He would or he thinks he would be better off at the pinch post in the PF role. That would defeat the purpose of getting him for the center position. But if he is patient enough to catch the ball on the block, wait for the cutters, then make his fadeaway baseline shot then it would work out. I just don’t see Jermaine as being the Lakers savior for the center position.


  71. I like Turiaf. I think that he’d improve a lot faster if he played more minutes. I’d rather see him on the court than Kwame Brown.


  72. Drew Boy (65),

    Memphis made a major decision to trade everyone and start over last year. That had more to do with selling the team than a basketball decision. Partly due to injury, partly due to timing, and partly due to the Chicago Bulls–Pau Gasol didn’t make it out of the asylum in February.

    The sentiment at Memphis earlier was to trade Gasol–possibly in a deal that involved Bynum (for the future) and Kwame (for cap relief next year). Then management tried to sign free agents–unsuccessfully. Fans still favored a youth move.
    They finally got Milicic, who promptly insulted Gasol.

    Nonetheless, they argued that they had already turned things around, brought in more support players, and the fans went along. They let Navarro hang with the Wizards, and hammered out a deal at the last minute–but it might have strings attached. I’m sure Pau Gasol appreciated the gesture–even if it was weak.

    My guess is that things in Grizz land will degenerate rather quickly, and they may look to the future. In that case, Gasol might suddenly swing available–maybe with Navarro at his side.


  73. Who in their right mind would choose Milicic over Gasol?


  74. drrayeye on the Memphis deal…

    Even before the fallout of the KG deal, as our playoff story just came to a bleak end, I have already suggested the Memphis deal many times over. Of course, it was premature to talk about it then, I was even bashed for saying Kwame + Bynum offer was quite “irresistible”. But for the larger part, the advanced mind realizes that being a contender does not mean a reckless addition of superstars to your team, but a managed approach including the cap.

    Of course at that time, odds were heavily in favor that Memphis will land at least one of Durant or Oden. We also did not know about the Millicic and JCN developments – as well as the Chris Wallace and Mark Iavaroni additions.

    As of now, Memphis thinks they can pull of a surprise trip to the playoffs with the lineup they have. Otherwise, there would be no point for Gasol to be wanting to stay aside from the fact that management has actually done some things to appease their star.

    If you look at the landscape of the West, Phoenix, Dallas and SA are clearly the elite. Houston makes a serious bid at this, together with Utah, Denver and LA as the perennial West playoff teams. That leaves one spot for 8 other teams to play for. Portland, Minny and Seattle are clearly 3-4 years away from this discussion so that leaves 5 teams vying for that coveted 8th. Top of the heap is Golden State but I am not sure if trading JRich helps the cause. The Paper Clips will be the injury bug’s target this year, hitting Brand with a February (optimistic) comeback. New Orleans adds Mo Pete but loses Desmond Mason. Sacramento is a mestizo team with veterans and young players. Not sure how MIkki Moore helps there. Lastly, Memphis.

    In considering the current landscape, wouldn’t it be better for us to trade for Pau, Stro and Mike Miller for a Kwame + Odom + Bynum package? Odom helps the cause but is also 2 years lesser in contract. Kwame expires at the end of the season and that leaves you a lot of options come Summer. Odom still comes off the books the year after and Bynum is still with their team along with Millicic at PF and Conley at PG and Gay at SG.

    For the Lakers, chemistry will be an issue. But we have camp to settle these things. Mike Miller is a guaranteed scoring option as is Pau’s 20-10 nightly. That gives Kobe 2 legitimate “help” on offense and Swift will fill in the gap in the middle.

    Now, isn’t this one deal Memphis will not have to wait on camp for? Both teams could do this right away. Instead of trading our big 3 for KG alone, we get Stro, Pau and Mike Miller. Yet we wont be capped out as supposed to a Kobe-JO-Odom trio.


  75. Warren (74),

    There is little doubt that the attitude of the Grizz has changed. There appears to be little interest in cap space. The team has a mixture of veterans and young players. They are making every effort to win now.

    Unfortunately for them, you just don’t turn a switch. They need time. I expect them to be back in rebuilding mode soon.

    At that point, generating cap space could once again rear it’s head. That’s where a Kwame+Bynum for Gasol could work for both sides.

    I don’t see any Laker need for any other player, but I could imagine a Sasha for Navarro added in.


  76. I can understand the practicality of the matter. Your right, its not a switch that you say “Ok, we will be good this year” esp coming off a year having the worst record. I just don’t understand the approach, although the attitude can be understandable from a new GM and new coach’s standpoint.

    If I were the Grizz, I’d evaluate the situation properly. Try to play some games with the current team and decide by December if this team will want to “chase” the 8th spot or to simply join Portland, Minny and Seattle in their approach.


  77. I’d also like to mention about Al Jefferson’s quest for his multi-million extension. If management does not act soon, things could get ugly out there.

    Side note: Offer Bynum and Crittenton for Al Jeff? then use Kwame, Sasha and Evans to take back the “ugly” veteran contracts they have. This move will put Minny to absolute square one. We will give Jefferson the needed extension.


  78. WarrenWeeLim,
    With Jefferson’s extension he will join the $10M/yr club. We trade Kwame and Bynum and get back the same salary, with LO coming up. Don’t get me wrong, I like the trade – talentwise – but it keeps us over the Luxury Tax level.

    The key to managing talent AND salary is to have some young talent that is not yet paid to the level of their contribution, not to have all high salaried stars. The stars may be able to produce, but your pockets have to be awfully deep to afford all of them. This is the motive for keeping Bynum and Farmar. They both are underpaid for what they will conceivably contribute and both look to have much-improved years this year.

    Crit could be trade bait exactly because he shows very high talent, but probably won’t be in a position to produce more than his salary for a couple of years.

    All trades must balance the talent and salary viewpoints to be considered. That is why so many seemingly good trades go begging. Both sides need to benefit in both areas.


  79. A quick question.

    Io remember reading about a month ago that orlando was considering moving Hidayet Turkoglo. I was wondering if anyone has seen anything that suggests that they still (actually) are considering that and what they would want for him.


  80. Ryan,
    Orlando would love to get out of Turkoglu’s contract. They want cap relief and they are looking for another big.I think he would be a good addition to Laker bench. Problem is Radmanovich. The Lakers can’t afford right now 2 MLE contracts who do the same thing coming off the bench.


  81. CraigW on managing the cap…

    The current NBA payroll has almost all the teams over the cap. That is why there’s this flurry of exceptions that limit the GMs from abusing the owner’s spending capacity – warranted or not.

    Since basically everyone is capped out, an expiring contract here and there basically insures you that you will at least have an option next year to go over the tax or not. Remember there is still a 12M allowance from actual cap vs Tax threshold. With 2 successive MLE signings spanning 5 years in length each, you are basically allowed to sign an MLE type of player 2 of 5 years only – ideally – unless you can negotiate that the contracts signed span to 3 years only. This way, the player signing the MLE wont have to hurt the payroll long enough to hurt your flexibility. If it needs be, a 4th year team option will also be included in case the team wants to keep him.

    Therefore, the MLE signings are the ones that we need to manage in order to manage the cap – yes the rookie scale contracts too.


  82. I still think it would be crazy to think getting Gasol to add to Kobe and LO wcould be considered a bad thing, cap or not. If it only cost Kwame and Bynum, why the hell not? If I were the Lakers owner, I’d pay the tax to field any team that had 3 all-star caliber players. That is why I’m strongly in favor of the JO deal as long as it excludes Odom. If you go over the tax threshold by 5 mill, 10, even 15 mill, big deal. The Lakers make so much money that I doubt that’s a huge deal. For crying out loud, the Knicks paid like 40 mill in tax this year and they had a terrible season. If their owner was willing to pay the tax when they are not winning, then why wouldn’t ypu be willing to pay when you are winning? This isn’t Donald Sterling, it’s Jerry Buss. He will pay the tax if it’s necessary. When they had Shaq at almost 30 mill a year, I am pretty sure they paid the tax then.


  83. 82. I forget who mentioned this, and forgive me for not giving credit, but someone once wrote that Jerry Buss passed on a Jerry West-orchestrated deal that would have gotten the Lakers Pippen for scrap (back in the early 00’s) because of the luxury tax. That did work out well, but I’m hoping Buss isn’t that confident in this current team.


  84. Memphis is not trading Gasol.
    The only reason to do so would be if Memphis is rebuilding,but they’ve already rebuilt. They drafted their PG,signed the big w/the most potential,traded for a combo guard who just happens to be Gasol’s best basketball buddy and have settled their front office problems. All they need now is some depth and some time for the team to grow together.
    Conley,Miller,Gay,Gasol and Darko is a pretty strong starting five and Navarro,Warrick and Swift give them some decent reserves.


  85. Anyone who says Buss will gladly go over the Luxury Tax level just hasn’t been following the Lakers for the last 11yrs. Why do you think we kept Kobe? He was producing far more than his salary (return vs cost). We had one big contract – Shaq – and the rest were not so large, comparatively. Much of this current conflict started when Kobe was due his big raise. Shaq started really complaining. Then the conflict between the two of them really escalated.

    As Clinton used to say, It’s the money, stupid!

    San Antonio has done so well because they have managed to have just ONE big contract and two secondary contracts with lesser values filling in. The Lakers currently have TWO big contracts with one additional lesser contract. We are currently not in as good shape as San Antonio – now there is a real comment. While everyone is so enamored of Boston, they have THREE large contracts and are really a short time project in the NBA – enjoy this year guys because it may be your last.


  86. I think Craig may have a point in saying that Buss is not keen on having to pay the tax. If I was the owner, I wouldn’t as well.

    Consider the current roster. We have Kobe earning 19M, Odom earning 14M and Kwame earning 9M. The rest are 4-5M in range and the rookie scale contracts are the one keeping us afloat financially. Thats 42M for your 3 starters and the 12 others share the 38% that remains. Assuming you can add Gasol and deduct Kwame, thats 46M for 3 starters and 33% for the remaining.

    However you may put it, it seems going over the tax would have to be the last resort. However, this may be the only option we have. Forget San Antonio, they are probably the only team in the league having that kind of discipline. I guess winning 3 rings in 5 years while keeping the core can able you to squeeze the demands of players. Instead of wanting 3-5 years, they are able to convince them of 2-3 and for a reasonable price.

    The elite teams have a problem with money. Thats a given. The Pistons are, the Suns are, the Rockets are, the Mavs are. Chicago is probably the only one financially stable but wait till the contracts of Deng and Gordon kick in.

    Therefore, if its the tax we are so afraid of, we might as well be content with mediocrity. Contending is expensive nowadays… I just don’t think the current lineup is able enough to win.


  87. Stephen (84),

    You say,

    “Memphis is not trading Gasol.
    The only reason to do so would be if Memphis is rebuilding,but they’ve already rebuilt. ”

    Right now they have 10 forwards of one color or another on a roster of 17.

    They have NO centers–and their skinny free agent Milicic will have to flip a coin to see whether he or the “Pau man” plays out of position (if they play together). Stromile Swift, an out of position power forward, more likely will start at center, and Milicic will be where he’s always been since he’s been drafted #1 by Detroit–on the bench.

    Milicic clearly hopes to be the starting power forward for the Grizz. I think he might get his wish.

    They signed #1 draft picks the last two years for the same position, then added JCN (for the same slot)–and, by the way, their money guy, Stoudemaire, doesn’t play.

    Don’t even ask about Cardinal.

    They’ve got some tradeable players mixed in with virtually untradeable veterans.

    They were the worst team in the West last year.

    You say, “. . .All they need now is some depth and some time for the team to grow together.”

    I don’t think they’ll get more than a few months.

    I bet they are trying to trade some of their “depth” right now.


  88. Defensive questions aside, Gasol would be a sweet fit on the triangle offense, since he has great footwork down-low.

    How he would mesh with Kobe is another story, but I think good players always find a way to make it work.


  89. SA only has one big contract? They have TD at roughly 20, Parker at 10.5, and Manu at 9. That’s 39 just for starters. Where SA has done well is in NOT overpaying for role players. That’s where the Lakers have screwed up. Six mill for Vlade, 9 for Kwame, 5 or so for George (before), etc. SA has most of their role players at 4 mill or less and most are much cheaper. That’s the problem with the Lakers, not the 2 big contracts in Kobe and LO.

    Actually, they haven’t really done that bad of a job in that area sans the Vlade and Kwame contracts. If LA wants to contend in the uber-talented west, they are going to need to spring for that 3rd guy. If Bynum pans out, he’s gonna command 9-10 mill because of the market value for big men. Hell, Darko got 8-9 mill and he’s done nothing. Bynum will cost at least that much in an extension so either way we’re gonna pay in the end. Bynum’s not up for an extension for 2 years but it’s coming. We might get LO to re-sign for only 10-11, but we’ll be paying 40 mill or so for 3 key players whether it’s JO/LO/Kobe, Kobe/LO/Gasol, Kobe/LO/Bynum, or whoever. Let’s see how long Buss is content with toying with the tax line but never approaching better than top 5 status in the West.


  90. DrRayEye,
    Houston has 6 PGs and 5 PFs. Does that mean they are looking to trade McGrady or Yao?
    The Memphis starting 5 is very solid-some are young and the team will give them time to grow together. They have a couple of good bench pieces.They would probably like to add to their bench and they will likely try to trade some of their excess position players as you said. BUT,why would they trade Gasol for Bynum and Kwame? They have their PG,SG,SF. Darko will serve as their C. Do you really think a Darko/Bynum combo would be better than a Darko/Gasol duo and whatever free agent they could sign for $8,9mil? If they had any thought of moving Gasol why would they waste a First to get Gasol’s best bud? Every move they’ve made has been to build around Gasol,they ain’t gonna trade him.


  91. Chise,
    You hit the nail on the head. Bynum isn’t due for an extension for 2yrs. That means, if he progresses well, he will be underpaid for the value received.

    Anyone we sign will be paid at least up to the value they produce. That is why teams want a mix of younger players. That is the only place they can financially ‘beat the odds’.

    KB@19, LO@14, KB@9 = $42M. TD@19, TP@10, MG@9 = $38M. That’s a $5M difference, or Walton’s salary. That is a noticeable difference. And they are the champions.

    What most fans don’t do is factor in the ability to improve and grow. Younger players are likely to do that, but as they age they tend to plateau out. LO is not likely to see another growth spurt, not matter how much we may wish it, but both AB and JF are likely to get better over the next 3-4 years. What the FO wants to do is reap the economic benefits of the younger players BEFORE they have to start paying them. We will pay, but if we are good at drafting, we will also have some younger players in the pipeline when we have to drop some older player(s).

    Fans want the production NOW and will not wait for anything. That is not how the CBA is structured. You are right, if we are not improving, we are regressing. However, we have to make a stand somewhere and I see the current team as being in a very good spot to develop without tearing everything apart.


  92. Craig,

    I just don’t have faith that Bynum are Farmar are those two guys. Lamar, on the other hand, seemed to have found his groove last season with Kobe and the triangle before he got hurt. I am not saying he’s gonna be the #2 guy, but with the current team, I don’t see anyone who can be the #2 so he’s it. That is why I am in favor of getting JO, Gasol, or whoever, if it means LO sticks around. I am all for the wait and see approach if you are Portland, Seattle, or Memphis, but with the Laker mentality, and the excessive ticket prices they charge, how can you rebuild if you won’t even go all for it? They’ve been re-tooling for 3 years and they’re still at the same place. Mitch has passed on Boozer, Baron, Kidd, JO, and who knows who else and they’re still back where they started. If they had shown any improvement from year to year, that’d be one thing, but they really haven’t. Injuries have played a part in year 1 (Kobe, Odom in particular), Mihm in year 2, and Odom/Walton in year 3, but still.

    That said, I don’t see everyone’s infatuation with Farmar. He gets abused defensively by small guards, big guards, whatver, is not a great shooter, and seems to be lost after an initial burst in the first quarter. Granted it was only 10 games or so of real game-time experience, but still. And Bynum, I don’t know if I want to find out whether he’s Dwight or Kwame. His trade value goes down immensely if he doesn’t improve dramatically this year and I’d prefer to cash out while he’s still got real value. It’s not a win now mentality, it’s a cut your losses while you still can mentality. We passed on guys at 10 who could have better served our needs, i.e. Granger, and I think if we keep thinking Bynum’s gonna be the savior, the worse it’s gonna be when the FO comes to the realization that he isn’t. I say do what it takes to get a JO, Gasol, whatever, this year while we still can…provided it doesn’t cost Odom.

    That brings me to another point, if we had offered Bynum and Kwame before the trade deadline, I think Memphis would have bitten on that.


  93. Reality Check – we already are paying the tax. Thanks to the Brian Cook extension, the payroll is roughly at 70M, 3M over the threshold. This being the case, we might as well go over it in fashion. Do it while contending, not doing it in idiotic fashion.

    On whether or not Memphis trades Pau –

    If I were Memphis, and assuming I will be trading my money star for shortchange, I would have to start from square one with my young guys. As I’ve said, its more practical for Memphis to join Minny, Seattle and Portland in their campaign of youngsters rather than try to “chase” the coveted 7th or 8th spot in the West and almost a guaranteed 1st round exit. It just doesn’t seem right.

    Therefore, I would want my roster with flexibility and some ability to capture picks and free cap space or be able to invest in the production of rookie scale contracts without shedding so much cash. That being the case, I would want Mike Miller and Brian Cardinal out along with Pau. If the Lakers accept this proposition, I would need another pick also to go along with Javaris Crittenton from LA as well.

    Therefore its Bynum, Critt, Kwame, Odom and 09 1st for MIke Miller, Cardinal, JCN and Pau.

    Memphis starts from scratch and invests on Conley-Critt-Gay-Darko-Bynum future, while LA adds 2 scorers in Mike Miller and Pau. Cardinal is the overkill in the tax issues for the coming years. Perhaps he would have to be bought out…


  94. (90) Stephen

    You say, “Houston has 6 PGs and 5 PFs. Does that mean they are looking to trade McGrady or Yao?”

    We call that a false analogy.

    In my flavor of deal, Gasol, a PF is being traded for a Laker PF and a Center (which the Grizz don’t have). That’s an apple for apple deal. And, the Grizz get bigger and leaner.

    Houston does not have an oversupply of “bigs” or SG/SF’s. A trade of either Yao or McGrady doesn’t help their PG or PF oversupply.

    (btw, given what Adelman is doing to the Houston team, I could imagine Yao being traded next year–if an Eastern team could offer the right players.)

    You say, ” . . . . . . .BUT,why would they trade Gasol for Bynum and Kwame?”

    They get a center and power forward for the salary of a power forward. They dump the new power forward salary next year (almost $10 million) and they’ve got cap space again to sign free agents.

    They’ve already got a younger cheaper guy with a year of experience to replace Pau (Milicic), finally have a young center (Bynum) to team with Conley, and $10 million to play with.

    Warren (93), I’d probably do your deal, but both teams might make further trades. I think we could get them to swap in Stoudemaire and keep Cardinal. Stoudemaire could come in handy.


  95. drrayeye on the Memphis deal…

    The deal I presented was the cream of our trade-able crop. I was only presenting the extremes with contrast to the advocacy supported by Craig that standing pat might be the best thing to do. It is not necessarily what we ourselves would offer, but should Memphis even think about trading with us, that will be the premise.

    The reason I offer Crittenton works both ways – he is not ready to start on our team while Farmar is. On the other fence, Memphis already has Conley and Lowry who are already promising PGs at this point… Crittenton might be the 3rd prospect who can easily shift to playing the 2 in a run-and-gun system Iavaroni is inclined to do.


  96. drrayeye

    If you are right and Memphis does indeed end up trading Gasol (which I think they will not), Why would they trade him to LA for Bynum and Brown?. Why wouldn’t a team like Chicago step in and offer a package built around Gordan and Ty thomas? I think that would be much better for Memphis than Bynum and Brown.


  97. @drrayeye: Because Memphis will want Luol Deng in any deal with Chicago and Paxson has already said he isn’t doing that. If Deng isn’t involved, you’d want salary cap relief, which the Bulls just can’t provide. In LA, the Grizz could get a young prospect Center in Bynum and cap space in Kwame. They win on both accounts there.

    That said, whoever proposed the Miller/Gasol/Cardinal for Bynum/Odom/Critt/picks, that’s not even a lateral move…it’s a step back. Why would LA do that?


  98. (96) Ryan,

    Have you looked at the Memphis roster? Ten of their 17 players are forwards. They’ve got a great shooting guard/forward and backups. They have 4 pg’s, including JCN and two very high first round picks. They need centers. How many centers or “big bigs” does Chicago have to trade?


  99. Ryan (96) on Memphis…

    As of now, these are all a bunch of speculations. We are only trying to look for a “reason to believe” and these things are not easy to do. The KG trade was unbelievable from Apr07’s standpoint… yet things happen for a reason and indeed the one name nobody expected to be traded is indeed changing jerseys.

    Things have a way of falling into place. I mean, I would not dare speculate that Jerry West “saw” the talent there was in Kobe. It was simply a bit of eye, a bit of coincidence, and a bit of luck of course.

    The thing with Memphis is, we are trying to evaluate their team for them. Its not something Grizzlies fans appreciate, but its a good look anyway. We are trying to assess the situation that might favor them and us along the way. Which leads me to one more theory – that Memphis will take no less than Odom, Bynum and Brown for Gasol. That will probably be the only reason why they would choose LA’s package over Chicago’s.

    While we’re at it, some thought keeps circling my mind. Chicago has 4 young players that are really good and are coveted by other teams. I have reason to believe that these players are ready to take center stage. However, you cannot have 4 players carry your team. Its either 2 of them take a step back (Nocioni and Gordon) as the other 2 take the limelight (Hinrich and Deng) or this team simply wont last as it is.


  100. All these trades are better mid-year. All teams will have a better feel regarding what they need. If Memphis starts out fast this year I think they will not trade; if they stumble badly again then it is an entirely different ballgame.

    Wait for the season to get 1/3 done before jumping on bandwaggons.

    I thought we were supposed to leave extensive trade discussions to other blogs. How about talking personnel, tactics, and strategy here. What is unique about this blog is the continuing discussion of triangle concepts and other approaches to the game. There are so many coaches here that the offensive/defensive discussions are extremely interesting to read.


  101. (98) Craig,

    At least some of this came from our discussion of the triangle. Renato made very clear the importance of a power forward, and suggested that Odom was a misfit, and Jermaine was not a good candidate. In our previous discussions of KG and JO, the same problem appeared in a different form. I wanted Renato to say whether or not Pau Gasol would fit. He eventually said that Gasol fit the triangle very very well.

    You’ve contributed in a different way by looking carefully at financial factors. Both of our comments lead down the slippery slop. Various blogsters suggest opinions about Grizz prospects which lead to Gasol trade prospects. Your discussions about financials also lead to possible trade scenarios.

    Warren sometimes suggests various trades to drive home points about value.

    I think we’ll have a trade relatively soon–or not until next year. Our history does not support mid season trades–to our detriment.


  102. drrayeye,
    I did enjoy the discussion of Gasol’s fit within the triangle. I also think LO is somewhat of a pipe dream. A very good and very flexible player who doesn’t really fit either the triangle or the Laker mindset requirements. I really hope he proves me wrong, but I would rather risk my money on Bynum. We need a serviceable center in the triangle and I think Mihm and Bynum would really give us our best options.

    If the season starts out well, but LO is LO and the Grizzley’s stumble, how about LO + Kwame for Gasol and filler. That way the Griz get $9M off next year and still wind up with Odem as a flex player for one more year – by that time their youngsters should really be making noise.

    Oh well! I’m doing just what I complained about. Sorry! I just really think our future is tied to our good drafts the last 3 yrs and I see 4 good players I want to keep – Bynum, Farmar, Turiaf and Crit. Crit to replace Kobe if he goes off the ranch and to use as trade bait if he doesn’t leave. This thinking leads to no trade this year (before FEB) and having a possibly still discontented Kobe.

    I too see a mid season trade as not as likely – given our history – but I also see much more pressure on Mitch this year. This, along with a possible availability of Gasol could change our past habits.


  103. Mike in the Mountain West August 20, 2007 at 6:34 pm

    By building our team with the triangle in mind is the team being set-up for future failure? Phil Jackson will probably not be coaching the Lakers in two years. My guess is he’ll retire after his contract with us is up. Who replaces him then? As far as I can tell, correct me if I’m wrong, there aren’t a whole lot of coaches running the triangle. So when we look to replace Phil we either limit our pool to triangle coaches, automatically eliminating some very good coaches, or we open the search and possibly hire a non-triangle coach. If it’s the latter, however, that coach will inherit a team designed for the triangle, and as far as I can tell that triangle teams don’t lend tjemselves very well to other systems. Mainly because they lack a true point guard which most other offenses call for.

    Those of you who know more about the triangle and coaching in general, am I right to assume that Phil leaving could possibly bring a lot of problems and hard choices for our team?


  104. IF Gasol does eventually ask out, I’ll add that JCN would most likely go along with him. How high would JCN’s value be then?


  105. On JCN… probably not that high. I don’t see him playing so many minutes esp with the way Memphis is distributed right now. However, Memphis will look to take back what was lost in this trade, and perhaps gain a little more. Safe to say, a 1st rounder is surely asked of. That deal they made with Washington was a mess – its too complicated. The conditional pick runs for years of conditions.


  106. 103. Mike,

    The triangle is a system, not a call offense most coaches use, so there’s no problem on switching to such an offense as long as the incoming coach adapts the calls to the players at his disposal.

    Regarding the PG issue, I think that we have true PG’s with good basketball IQ. They might not be the best at it, but you can survive and win with them…


  107. 103. Mike,

    This team can win even without the triangle. I would be assuming Phil will sign a 1-yr extension with this team WHEN Kobe reaffirms his commitment to play out his contract UNTIL he decides in 09 if he wants to stay or not.

    I nominate Jeff Van Gundy for this team. Heck I would even appreciate it if he was made a defensive specialist assistant but I think Phil wont appreciate criticizing his defense even though there clearly are gaps to fill.

    Of course JVG imposes a boring defensive style of play, but it is rather effective. I was sorry to see him play one of the better centers in Yao but failing due to Tmac’s inability to take it to the next level. A JVG-ran Laker team would maximize Kwame and Bynum’s defensive potentials. Kobe will thrive in this system too.