Patience, Grasshopper, Patience

Kurt —  September 4, 2007

I don’t normally talk much about the space-filling “Off season report cards” that tend to come out during this dry time of year for NBA news. However, I think Sport Illustrated’s Marty Burns’ thoughts on the Lakers were a good jumping off point to talking about the overarching theme of the off-season.

Grade: D

When your superstar player rips the organization and demands a trade, it’s not a good off-season. Only Fisher falling into their lap has kept it from being a total disaster.

It’s a valid point, and one we’re all going to hear a lot of. Basically, Kobe went off and the Lakers need to make a BIG move to appease him, either making Kobe happy enough to say or trading him away.

But that’s why (if forced) I’d give the Lakers a B- for the summer. Not for what they did, but for what they avoided.

Plenty of franchises would have panicked once Kobe took to venting his frustration on the airwaves. Within a couple weeks, while their bargaining position was at its nadir, they would have made a trade just to make a trade. Maybe they trade away the farm (for example, both Bynum and Odom) to get Jermaine O’Neal, giving the Lakers two good players but nobody around them and about the same record they had last year. Or, they could have panicked and traded away Kobe and not gotten nearly enough in return. Then they could have had the fun of selling a rebuild to Lakers fans.

Instead, the Lakers stood pat, eventually (and after too long, frankly) sat down with Kobe and didn’t make a trade they would regret in a year or two. Sometimes, standing pat is the best move.

The Lakers did make a few nice little moves this summer that gives them some solid role players — resigning Luke Walton, bringing back Derek Fisher, signing Chris Mihm, and drafting Jaravis Crittenton. All that adds nice depth.

But no, the Lakers didn’t make a big splashy move. Yes, they should look for one, but not at any cost. They were smart to wait until a better offer came along. That’s a successful off-season to me.

Kurt

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58 responses to Patience, Grasshopper, Patience

  1. People keep forgetting the great start that they had last year before all of the injuries derailed the season, so I’m still very much optimistic even without any drastic changes taking place. Besides, who wouldn’t be if you now have Fisher and Crittenton in place of Parker?

  2. How about another 1 or 2 nice moves to improve this team? I can’t believe the Laker FO and fans are satisfied with the minor improvement.

  3. Thanks for bringing a discussable topic Kurt, I kinda had a long dry week not being able to say much on the Lakers situation.

    At this stage, the Lakers look to be set for the summer and headed for camp with exactly what they had last year. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing considering that if we put this team out East, we would easily be a top-4 seed. Only Chicago and Detroit are “better” in a sense and probably the media-friendly-hero LeBron’s team will make 3rd. Other than that, Miami, Toronto, New Jersey, Boston and Orlando can be beaten at home at any given day.

    In as far as the roster is concerned, I think the Lakers can still make a move or two to improve. Whether it be for contention or for cap space, there certainly are possibilities out there.

    For one, Brian Cook needs to to be traded. I am not sold he is still what we need considering we have Vlade clogging up the 4 spot. These shooters are no longer as effective as having Shaq before, where the double or triple team always frees Horry and Fox up for the spot up.

    In as far as the Bynum + Odom for JO is concerned, I believe the Lakers are still haggling with Indiana. It has not been totally abandoned and therefore becomes plan B in case this lineup does not show the goods early on.

    From my heart of hearts, knowing the intricacies of the Triangle, I am one to say that we do the Indiana deal already. I believe it is not a lateral move. Value-wise it could be but it definitely gives us a positional upgrade in terms of defense and low post scoring. We will still need someone to be the on-ball interior defender and we still have Kwame. We will be a more balanced team with Radmanovic and Walton developing into that much-needed 3rd option for only a fraction of the price. Down low, we still have Turiaf as our 3rd center just in case Mihm is not totally healthy.

    Lastly, if JO is on the offensive end of the floor, Kobe can once more focus on the defensive end knowing that a reliable scorer is on the other end. Can we say this with Odom and Bynum combined?

  4. Oh and I forgot to mention…

    The deadline is the best time to trade Kwame. This is where we can deal with a position of strength and trade Kwame as a good defender with a hefty expiring contract. Who knows, if Denver struggles till February, Camby could suddenly be made available. I like Reggie Evans as well. He gives the team a hard-nosed approach and can guard the opposing team’s low-post player like Amare, TD or Boozer. He is also a long-span contract which Denver might be looking to move as well.

  5. 2. I think there’s a difference between being satisfied with the team and thinking any move would have been good. I’m certainly up for a couple smaller nice moves, although I’m not sold that gets the Lakers past the Big 3 in the West.

  6. I kinda agree that we shouldn’t have given up both LO and Andrew for JO; with Lamar healthy for the season and Bynum more experienced (last season was the first he played consistent minutes) we could make a run for the 5 or 6 spot and Jermaine wouldn”t have made the Lakers much better. The problem is that the whole Kobe drama will only go away if the team starts winning right away. For example, what happens if the Lakers go through a 6 or 7-game losing streak in December? Does Kobe keep quiet or does he pull an Iverson? I understand that this is a nightmare scenario, but in that case the Lakers would get even less in return than if they had traded him in the off-season. Still, if Kobe keeps his cool and everyone stays healthy, we could grab a higher seed than last season and make a nice run in the playoffs. Making the finals though is almost impossible and isn’t that what this organization is all about?

  7. the other Stephen September 5, 2007 at 7:35 am

    3. doesn’t cook have a byc contract?

  8. 6 – other Stephen

    Yes… its actually 10.5M for 3 years… the one that Smush sulked about all year last year.

  9. gdchild,
    I think the FO is looking to make a deal – they just are not feeling forced to make a deal. This is a good thing. We should only make a deal if we can improve the club and for no other reason. This means the other team(s) need to make the deal more than we do. The time may come this year that Indy needs the deal more than we do, but I am not counting on this. I did like that story on Ike D. and his possible improvement – which would make a big difference for Indy.

    With the exception of Shaq, most franchises do best if they ‘grow their own’ superstars. Trading for stars usually results in a badly balanced financial picture and the team soon is very financially unstable and cannot keep up the quality needed to compete for more than one ring. Come to think of it, Shaq has put Miami in that position this year.

  10. this team, as it currently stands, is not going to go far. we all know that. what drives me insane is the fact that if bynum and odom played up to their damn potential (bynum solid D and 15-10, odom 20-10-5), then we’d be pretty money at the moment. and i just dont see that happening. i’ve been waiting for odom to blow up for the past 3 years. and ive felt like a moron at the end of every year.
    lakertime.blogspot.com

  11. The D grade is right on.

    This is not a team that will contend for the 2008 title. This is a team in the middle or slightly upper middle of the NBA pack. The moves this summer ensured salary cap inflexibility for a few more years and the team doesn’t have much trade bait. This is not a situation where the team is likely to get a good free agent or draft pick.

    Standing pat just means more of the same. It’s apparent that most Laker fans aren’t happy with the status quo. A championship team won’t just fall in our lap. Time to take a risk!

  12. I’ll be really interested in Bynum’s progress over the summer. We literally haven’t heard a peep from this kid.

    One of my problems with this roster is the fact that there are some bad eggs in there still. The front office went for talent and potential over intelligence and desire. Prime examples of this are Kwame, Cook, and Vlade. They have all the tools in the world to become great players, but they just don’t have the heart and discipline to take it to the next level.

    I would rather take a player with less talent and more drive than take these guys. I like guys that play every game like it’s their last. Not guys that are satisfied with their fat paycheck and just go through the motions.

  13. There is not really anyone out there worth taking a risk for, with the possible exception of J.O., and his injuries make him a high risk. Patience is what is called for in this current player market.

    No doubt, this team is not a title contender in the face of Houstons upgrade, San Antonio’s superior play, and Phoenix’s scoring machine, to name a few. But this team will benefit from playing together in the Triangle, developing it’s young players, and looking for that unique opportunity that only can be taken advantage of if you didn’t splurge on the hyped up star with nice upside.

    Also, Bynum is still a child in NBA terms. Remember what J.O. was like at this age. I suspect that we might be in store for a pleasant suprise on that score.

  14. Ira Winderman’s Heat Blog has pointed out the general lack of movement/improvement by most teams. Other than Boston w/their big trades,Orlando and Memphis w/a talented Free Agent signing and the up one/down one moves by Houston,nobody has made any big improvements to their roster-in fact sevearal teams could be said to be slightly worse w/loss of role players(Utah,Miami).

  15. I think Utah is going to be better, even without Fish, with them and Houston knocking on the door of the big three (provided everyone stays healthy).

    I have no sympathy for the Heat — when the brought in Shaq they had a three year window (tops) for a ring and a parade, and they got it. Now they are paying the price for that short term loading up of veterans.

  16. Kurt,
    I 100% agree with you.

    I think there is not that much quality available now and GMs are very hesitant to make moves that will likely pin them back financially for not that much gain.

    I do think more of Mitch’s drafts the last three years and feel the Lakers should begin to reap some of the benifits this year. It will not likely be a championship quality, but I do see positive movement this year and the trading deadline could yield a missing piece that we can build on next year.

  17. We all have different perspectives. Trades depend on opportunities and timing. The Lakers have positioned themselves well, but so far no real opportunity has worked.

    The recent possibility of a Yi Jianliang trade by a desperate team in the East might have already happened if the owner of the Bucks had not succeeded in signing Yi on his China trip. So far, the Lakers haven’t gotten lucky. Maybe before they were not well enough positioned?

    We may have the right team already. Even with similar personnel, the Lakers will not be the same team. We will not have to play Andrew so much. When he does play, he will be better. We will have a true point guard who knows the system (Jordan) with a mentor to back him up. That will be huge! We will have enough bigs to do strategic substitution.

    This next year will be a test of chemistry (if we don’t trade) and luck (if we do).

    That’s what keeps us watching.

  18. You guys are pretty optimistic. Don’t get me wrong, I like most of the players on the Lakers, but I just don’t have any faith in Farmar, Bynum, Vlad, or Kwame. I’ve been a big Kwame fan, but he just doesn’t seem to get it. He has no drive and is so freakin clumsy. If he played like he did against the Suns in the 2006 playoffs, he’d be fine, but he’s been far from that. I know he’s had injuries, but still.

    Now, as for where the Lakers can improve, I cannot believe there is not a trade out there for a defensive presence down-low. We have Bynum, Kwame, and Mihm, fine, but none of those are long-term fixes unless we are gonna ride it out with Bynum, which I can’t see unless he starts giving 15-10 per game. If I’m the FO, I pray that the Grizzlies start poor and become sellers at the deadline with Gasol as the primary target. Then I offer whatever they want short of Kobe and Odom, without overpaying obviously. A big 3 of Kobe, Odom, and Gasol would be nice with all the role players we are collecting. If the Grizz aren’t moving Gasol, then you see if Bird lowers his asking price for JO. Last resort, see if the Nuggets will move Camby. I wouldn’t go near Artest, Bibby, etc. And Jason Kidd is great if the Lakers are gonna change the office, but short of that, I don’t see how he’s a good fit in the triangle.

  19. I meant “offense” and not “office in the last sentence…

  20. the lakers didn’t and shouldn’t have made any major moves this summer in the sense that they made an attempt at Garnett and failed and the asking price for O’Neal is too high….as constructed, I believe the team could win 48-51 games if they stay reasonably heathy, could be the fith or sixth seed in the west. Now that is what it is, still a pretty good team, but not a championship team…the trade they obviously should have made is the jason kidd trade this past winter- terrible all time mistake, because Kidd/Kobe/Odom is the basis for a contender the next couple of years- somehthing you need to be if you have a player as great as Kobe — you don’t waste your chances while having probably the best pllayer in the NBA for a possibly good future with Andrew Bynum .

    So now its really obvious the trade they have yet to make and I believe they should make in the current context is moving Bryant- because they will still be competitive with what they get back and be able to build for the future at the same time…it’s really very simple….. and the players they should orchastrate getting back are something in the realm of David Lee, Renaldo Balkman or Tyrus Thomas and Jokim Noah and either Luel Deng , Ben Gordon or Zach Randloph – meaning a straight trade with the Knicks or Bulls or three team trade with those teams -that gets the Lakers back three viable pieces: two substantial young players/prospects and a young proven major offensive threat, plus cap space for next season….

    Is Kupchak smart enough? We’ll see…

  21. Once more — You don’t trade Kobe! Period! Period! Period!

    If he walks, he walks. Deal with it at that time. ’till then you don’t trade Kobe!

    Now, on to this year’s team…

  22. I think the Lakers are hoping that Bynum does turn into a 15/10 3rd or 4th scoring option and that Mihm, Fisher, Crittenton, Radman all take a step forward. It’s smart for the Lakers to play it safe right now. Bynum could be a big hit, or a small miss this season. Either way, I’d still think that by deadline, his value wouldn’t fall very much.

  23. Craig’s right. I wouldn’t trade Kobe unless he held the Staples Center hostage at gunpoint. I mean, honestly, none of the packages the Lakers will get will be better than just letting him walk. To match his salary, you have to take back a big contract and the Bulls have no one with a large enough contract to make it work, so you take a bunch of Vlade type contracts which isn’t great either. The Knicks, well at least they could get Randolph and have a big bruising PF in the post, but I still wouldn’t trade Kobe unless they got Carmelo, Dwight Howard, or Bosh.

    Anyhow, as for this team, it is what it is right now. Unless Bird, Denver, or Memphis starts calling with a lower asking price, the Lakers are locked in. I thought there was no way there wouldn’t be some kind of a move made this summer, but Mitch Kupchak doesn’t have the stones to make anything that would resemble a big move unless he’s ordered to by Buss. I just wish he’d think outside the box once and awhile. I wish we had someline like Colangelo, Sam Presti, or Kiki. Obviously Jerry West would be the best choice, but we just need someone with more vision. Kupchak being fired is way overdue.

  24. Kupchak is a puppet. It makes me wonder who the real GM of this God-forsaken team is…

    As to the question of to trade or not to trade…

    Kobe is 29, there will be a good 5 years he will have left on top of his game. Beyond that, Kobe will be one of the great has-beens. Odom is 28, with all the injuries and surgeries he’s had, it makes me wonder if he will ever be the allstar everyone wants him to be. Bynum is 19, and that pretty much says it all. The timelines simply do not match. When Bynum is ready to play NBA-level ball, Kobe is already the has-been. Odom will be over the hill and there will be new names to get us excited about.

    Andrew Bynum will NEVER be the dominant player you seek until HE GROWS UP as a person. He is immature. While his body may be growing stronger, his mind is fairly weak. He is not ready for this kind of pressure at such a young age. Just like one of the guys said, where was Jermaine at this age?

    Obtaining Jermaine via Odom and Bynum is definitely media-suicide. Mitch has already stated the Lakers are not desperate to make that move and that it is a mere lateral one. Value-wise, it may be lateral. We may even lose out a bit on what Bynum may become in 3-4 years from now, but the opportunity to pair both Kobe and JO, both at their primes can no longer be re-lived 2 years from now. Both players will be looking to secure financial stabilities till the moment they retire and may not seek that trophy as much as they lust for it now.

    The point I raise is this – trading for Kidd this summer no longer appeals as it did last February – when the Lakers were looking for a much needed push. Now its all academic. New Jersey is set – Carter has been signed. Otherwise, NJ would have settled to rebuild this summer and may have let Carter go to Orlando, and possibly trade RJ for some other future star or a high pick.

    Therefore, the time to trade for JO is now – unless you are convinced that JO is not the answer to this team, period. But do not come knocking at Indy’s door when you realize that Bynum is still 19 and Odom will never be that all-star.

    The JO trade comes with a little incentive as well – Brian Cook may be the salary filler. Parting with Cook, in a way, is a bonus. Perhaps an 08 1st might be squeezed in but it really is still fair value.

    In terms of the defensive woes we are continually discussing, the PG spot has gotten significantly better. If the over-all interior defense of our team improves with JO and Kwame, pair it with the stronger PG rotation, we may find out that we do not need that 3rd scorer anymore. Defense will do the trick, Walton and Radman can become the long lost 3rd option.

    Fisher / Farmar
    Kobe
    Walton / Radman
    JO
    Kwame

  25. Again, why don’t you trade Kobe exactly? Do you expect him to lead this team, show leadership? He has thrown the team under the bus all summer, you just take that for what it is and move on? Don’t see it, especially don’t see it from Kobe’ s pov- he’ll hold to his positioin — he’s that competitive. And Phil Jackson’ s tone in inteviews tonight – seems too authorative, – don’t see Kobe accepting it after the comfortable and winning summer with coach K….Phil telling Kobe by way of interviews how “he can lead this team, but it’ll take a lot of work,” all that (although he seemed to hint he’d be happy to trade Bynum…) I think they’ll trade him, and I hope they do, if you really root for the organazation, it would be the smart move….

  26. To a certain degree, trading Kobe makes sense… but for the most part, its a no-brainer No.

    If you trade Kobe, he dictates where he wants to go. Or else, No trade clause. Lets say he wants Chicago. Ok, we send him there… We would want some young players and some picks – say Gordon, Thomas, Deng, Noah. Kobe then says No – don’t gut out my new team. You can take Duhon, Griffin, Sefolosha, Khryapa and Ben Wallace instead. Hows that?

    Whether we like it or not, trading Kobe is not an option – because of his no trade clause. In 2009, if he decides to leave, like Craig said, let him. We will be more than willing to accept the 23M cap space we now have without obligation to Kobe. We are neither pressured to send him anywhere nor offer him a fat contract since he has already opted out. I’m sure teams like the Knicks would prepare plenty of cap room for this anticipated opt out but I’m sure Kobe will be happier there, yeah right, coz that team outright sucks.

    In the end, while the Lakers may not be holding the Aces, Kobe may decide to fold his hand ultimately for the sake of legacy, winnability and money. Those are probably the 3 top most considerations anyone could have in basketball life.

    So do you trade Kobe? No.
    Will you let him walk? Yes.
    Will you still accept him if he doesn’t to opt out? …

    Of course.

  27. Warren,
    You put it so well! Thanks! I would just like to put this trade Kobe talk behind us and work on practical solutions for the Lakers – again, thanks!

  28. Kurt,

    Let’s reverse this, and grade Marty on his ability to think critically about the Lakers:

    Sensationalism: B- (catchy, but overdone)
    Substance: F (Marty, take the wife to Hawaii in Oct.)

    We don’t measure a team by player tantrums. Although Kobe may have set a new NBA Soap Opera record, his wish to be traded is not unique. Magic Johnson once wanted to be traded. Tim Duncan almost left San Antonio.

    The Lakers, from a team management perspective, need to go in three directions at the same time: 1) they must be able to win this year, 2) they must be able to transition either due to player injury or aging, and 3) they must have backups for injuries/fatigue. The model is San Antonio.

    The Lakers are in excellent shape to transition over the next years–and that’s partly what bugs Kobe. The Lakers now have good backup situations–as long as Kobe and Lamar don’t go down at the same time.

    Where everyone is jumping on them is “win this year.”

    It really boils down to health. If the Lakers remain reasonably healthy, they could jell–and a trade might not be necessary. If there is a crisis of any kind, the Lakers could respond.

    The organization needs credit for being at this point, but won’t get any credit at all until either they make a big trade (that works), or they jell by mid season. If the team really underperforms–God help us!

  29. You’re all forgetting one important thing about Kobe being traded…

    The conference where he lands! Even if you supposedly gut Chicago of Gordon, Deng and Noah (or whoever), Kobe still lands East, which means he has a real shot at going to the Finals.

    LeBron did it in a crappy team (Pavlovic is still underrated), why can’t Kobe?

    But it’s all conjectures, right now. I don’t think the FO will trade him anytime soon, although I would be happy to get something out of Chicago and wait a couple of years to compete with Seattle, Portland and Utah for the title.

  30. What exactly are you getting out of Chicago anyway? Unless you get Deng and Heinrich, which they won’t do, what’s the point? We already have a young big man in Bynum, and Thomas/Noah are redundant since neither is a post presence on offense. Gordon? He’s good, but Mr. Consistency he isn’t. And I’m not really sold on Deng either. Add to that that you HAVE to take a big contract back. Nocioni? Please. If Kobe wants to leave in 2 years and take a huge pay cut, so be it.

  31. Seriously guys, didn’t the Shaq trade teach you anything? It makes no sense to trade a dominant superstar player for a bunch of mediocre players, spare parts and a bad contract. None whatsoever. Unless you guys think Tyrus Thomas or Gordon (ha!) will become elite players, what good could a Kobe for Thomas/Gordon/Wallace swap possibly accomplish?

  32. the other Stephen September 6, 2007 at 9:54 am

    can we not talk about Kobe until the season starts or until something actually happens?

  33. You know, just to throw in my 2 cents, all this talk about MK not having the stones to pull a deal seems contradictory to me. I dislike Mitch as much as the next laker fan, but saying the man doesn’t have the balls to take risk? Tweaking a roster that has a lot of potential and not panicking when your superstar demands a trade – that takes stones. The fact of the matter is he’s doing the most risky thing of all; standing pat. I REALLY started to dislike Mitch after the O’neal and Caron-Kwame debacles, but this summer I’ve grown a newfound respect for the man. It takes huevos grandes to say, “Ok, my superstar is pissed and wants instant improvement, but I’ve built a roster around steady growth and potential. Sorry Kobe, but changing this gameplan now, right before we potentially reap the benefits of our farming projects (raddy, bynum, farmar, mihm to a lesser extent) would leave us with nothing.” I guess what I’m saying is that although Mitch may have made the wrong decision in building a team for two-three years down the road, we would be ******ed if he abandoned that plan at this point. Sticking to your guns and not trying to cobble together a team built while the organization is in code red panic mode takes a lot of courage and as far as I’m concerned is the only thing MK has done right in a long time. Like the always tell me on the court, “don’t force it, it never works out.”

    KB24 for life.

  34. My 2¢ on this year’s Lakers (if they stand pat): Much like last year this team can be pretty good — but the team has no margin for error, It cannot make up for injuries well. This is not a team that can take a night off, turn it on in the fourth quarter a beat anybody. They have to be focused on defense every night. They have to execute the offense and Luke and the PG trio have to pitch in on offense. They have to get consistent play out of the 5. If they do all those things I guess they could win 50 games. But I’d be loath to bet on that. I’d say 46 sounds about right (I think the bottom half of the West got better, meaning fewer easy wins, well, except in Minny).

  35. MS, it takes stones to not do anything? Mitch CAN”T trade Kobe unless Buss okays it, so how exactly is not doing what he can’t do having stones? Proof Kupchak doesn’t have stones?

    1) The botched Butler trade for Kwame. Consider also that there was a Butler for Boozer deal discussed at the deadline that Kupchak wanted no part of and this just becomes so much worse.

    2) The botched Baron Davis talks.

    3) The botched Kidd trade.

    4) Not having the stones to take a chance on Eddy Curry and making a decent offer to the Bulls. I mean, for what the Knicks got him for, you figure Chicago would have rather sent him out West if they got a decent offer.

    5) Refusing, under any circumstances that do not involve KG, to trade Bynum. I’m still not convinced the Lakers would part with Bynum even if it was Bynum/Kwame and filler for JO.

    6) Not talking to Kobe and calming him down as soon as he got on the airwaves. Mitch is even scared of his own players.

    You know the only way the Lakers can get to that elite level? Either pray for many things to go their way like: SA/Dallas get old quick, Nash gets hurt, etc. Or have the gall to take a freakin chance. Zach Randolph was RIGHT there for the taking. The Lakers could have gotten him for Kwame and filler, even if it meant Farmar. Pair Z-Bo with Kobe and Odom and look out Western Conference.

    Don’t like Randolph? Ike Udoma, or however you spell his name, was out there too. Now the Spurs got their next Bruce Bowen type player and the Lakers still have no perimeter defensive stoppers outside of Kobe.

    I mean Gasol at the deadline I think could have been had too. At some point, you have to take a chance. Look at Boston. They gave themselves probably a 3-5 year window to win a title and all they really gave up was Al Jefferson, Jeff Green, filler, and picks. From a fan standpoint, you have to give it to Ainge for going all-in. Sure they have depth issues and they probably could have kept Ryan Gomes out of the KG deal, but they’re gonna be good for the foreseeable future. LA is gonna be a middle of the pack team until and if a lot of things start going their way, both internal (Bynum, Farmer, Critt, etc.) and external (SA, Suns, etc.).

  36. The Lakers needed to add someone who could score from the post, they got Mihm. They needed a veteran ball-handler at the PG who could provide some leadership. They got that in Fisher. They filled holes that needed to be filled, other than the glaring need to bring in top level talent. For that reason a C+ seems about right to me.

    I wouldn’t want this to get into a “Trading Kobe” argument, but I don’t think it’s fair to rip someone for bringing up the point when discussing how the Lakers will do this year, or the idea of trading Kobe. The situation is far from resolved and it amazes me how so many are willing to ignore the elephant in the room.

    How exactly does the Kobe situation clear itself up? I agree that unless we get a good deal for Kobe we let him walk for cap space, but that’s TWO YEARS AWAY.

    My guess is that this team as presently built, if healthy and with a Kobe that was happy and wanted to be in LA on board could win 46-50 games and could make some noise in the playoffs. But Kobe’s not happy and when the leader of your team doesn’t want to be on that team, or his heart isn’t in it, well therein lies a HUGE problem.

  37. 30.

    Chicago was just to make up a point, not really a “trade to Chicago” is mandatory or suggestion. Point is, if Kobe wants to get traded to the East, he can make that team (ok, not every team) into a contender.

    I believe that health is an issue and that the triangle can make this team work (read the older posts), but what Kobe did was just wrong from a teammate point of view… That’s the reason for trading him. And of course that trading Kobe you get less than you give, but I’d rather get some young guns now than getting nothing in two years and endure another playoff drought (not that it happens often in LA)

  38. http://www.basketball-reference.com/fc/pcm.cgi?req=1&cum=1&p1=bynuman01&y1=2007&p2=jeffeal01&y2=2006

    BYNUM AND AL JEFFERSON. 1ST 2 YEARS OF THEIR CAREER, THESE PLAYERS PLAYED ALMOST IDENTICAL MINUTES. BYNUM HAD BETTER NUMBERS THOUGH. THEIR 2ND YEAR WAS DARN NEAR IDENTICAL BUT BYNUM HAD A SLIGHT EDGE IN ALL CATEGORIES. DO YOU THINK BYNUM IS CAPABLE OF HAVING THE 3RD YEAR OF AL JEFFERSON WOOOO THAT WOULD BE SWEET. 16PPG, 3 ASSIST, 11REBS 60% FG 70% FT. COULD THAT HAPPEN.. IF IT DOES, I THINK KOBE WILL UNLOAD HIS THINGS.

  39. We are still not trading Kobe – and that discussion just buggers up the improvement of the team scenarios. Every year players do ‘wrong’ things with regard to their teammates and the group is able to play together the next year. Kobe may be spoiled, but he is not stupid. All the things we have discussed here have also gone through his head. Kobe will put his head down and do the best he can – that is his playing makeup – regardless what the haters say.

    As the players start to evolve – and they will – the Lakers will have better chips with which to make trades. As the year progresses other teams will become disenchanted with players (a-la Carlos Boozer in Utah a couple of years ago) and we will have an opportunity to get some added talent if it appears needed.

    Have some patience, this is only September. If we approached our life partners the way we approach the Lakers, we would all be single and alone.

  40. the other Stephen September 6, 2007 at 3:00 pm

    35. However the situation clears itself up, it most likely won’t involve you or I. I’m not ignoring a problem, I’m saying that this blog has dissected the Lakers’ problems for an entire summer; we all have a general idea of what they need. Aren’t you tired of dreaming up scenarios and typing up long posts about them? For what? Did starting a blog help us get Garnett? Mitch isn’t going to be phoning in for our advice. I’m just suggesting that we wait with the Lakers and save ourselves some energy.

  41. 37) I don’t think you can realistically talk about the Lakers upcoming season without talking about Kobe. His situation controls the Lakers right now. If you want to debate the triangle offense, Team USA, or whatever then that’s great I’m all for it, but the thread is about the Lakers offseason and that has been dominated and will continue to be dominated by Kobe until the situation is resolved.

  42. The Lakers need players who want to win period. That’s why Kobe was so pissed about the KIdd trade not happenning. Kidd isn’t soft and he is professional. Let’s stop comparing Kobe to Nash. Kobe’s not a point guard, he’s a two guard, a scorer, and he does that pretty damn well, I think, and, he’s pretty darn good facilitor, for that matter. His passing is often brilliant. The only thing is that his passing style works better with players with high basketball IQ, just look he and Josh Howard on the pick and roll. This Laker team needs work, and it’s not Kobe’s fault. As fans, let’s start putting more of the burden on the managemet. Let’s face it, their decisions over the last few years have been abysmal. Buss’s son is a chump and he’s dragging the organization down. Ship him off to club in Dubai with a buch of blow and keep him there. I want to see the Lakers be serious about winning champioships gain.

  43. “I’m just suggesting that we wait with the Lakers and save ourselves some energy.”

    the other Stephen…

    If you’ve ever been to fan forums, you’d notice the growing sentiment that 2/3 of the population actually are clamoring for JO now after KG’s dust has settled in Boston. The fan-base feels there is a need to replace Odom with a more reliable scorer in JO so that Kobe can showcase his newfound enthusiasm in defense, and of course, Bynum, whose contributions may very well be seen 2-3 years from now.

    The more advanced fan/blogger understands that you do not sell the farm for just a cow much less – a beanstalk. JO is not a regular forward, but so is Odom. As a matter of fact, Odom is more like a guard in a forward’s body while Jo is more like a center in a forward’s frame. If the choice was between the 2 only, the choice is clear – JO wins easily.

    However, the addition of Bynum to the equation distorts the whole thing. You are not only adding actual output and contribution, you have to also take into consideration that Bynum has a good 10 years or more left in his career. Growing your own stars may be the only way to have a star these days. Rashard Lewis might be the last of the Mohicans… jumping ship just before his prime kicks in.

    In using Drrayeye’s apples for apples analogy, I think the outstanding asking price for JO does not hurt us much on the 1st 3 years of the duration, as much as it hurts our next 3 thereafter. If the contention is contract length, Odom’s advantage will be negated by Cook’s inutile contract. With regards to contract size, It is like adding an MLE player to Odom and making him an all-star. Meaning, if you could pay Odom 5M more just to put up 20-10 and some inside defense and scoring EVERY NIGHT, who wouldn’t?

    The only remaining obstacle will be Bynum – who is a gamble whether we keep him or we trade him. If Bynum bursts like Dwight Howard on his 3rd year, he will command 80M for 5 years at the beginning of next year. I’m not sure LA is positioned to do that IF we intend to keep both Kobe and Lamar. If he turns out to be a fluke, he will get the 6-7M per year extension still. Where is the savings then? JO’s contract effectively becomes shorter in a sense since it will not require an extension until 2010 or in 09 – the same time Kobe can decide his walk out or stay in.

    Therefore, to cap out my point, acquiring JO effectively contributes to the cap situation more than a Bynum-based approach that is still uncertain. Next year, when some interesting 3rd cogs are able to opt out (Maggette and Artest), LA might become the feasible destination once more. With veterans like Kobe, JO and Fish, role players like Evans and Turiaf and Mihm, LA is positioned to invest this year and lure more effective players next year.

    The way I see it, trading AB and LO for JO is not selling the farm after all. Its upgrading your cows to ones that are effective and work-efficient – even if you had to sell the tractor in the meantime.

  44. Keep Kobe for the next 2 years and let him walk if he chooses. He is what 31-32? He is on the downward slope. He iwll either go a bad team for big money or sign for nothing with a team like Phx or San Antonio so he can win another championship. My feeling is that Kobe takes the money and tries to win it all with a bad team. He basically ends up where he is now, the prime guy on a mediocre team with 2 more years of max talent. Once Kobe hits 33-34, he starts going downhill and while still a top player, not a guy that you go overboard to get or keep.

    Everyone says the Shaq deal was bad. While it would have been nice to keep him and have Shaq/Kobe win a couple more rings, it wasnt going to happen. Blame Kobe. Blame Shaq, but whomever you blame, it wasnt management that forced a choice between Kobe and Shaq. Picking Kobe was the right move. If Kobe leaves and you keep Shaq, the Lakers dont win any more rings with Shaq and he and his fat contract kill you while he gets old. Keeping Kobe was the right move. Shaq is now an albatross for the Heat. They got very lucky to win one ring with Shaq and that makes people say trading him was a bad move. Shaqs window was small at the time of the trade and he rode Wade to a ring. Good for him, but not a reason to say the trade was bad.

    Now Kobe is a spoiled brat. The best player in the league however. Its a shame that for all his eloquence, he is such a jerk and cares only about himself. That being said, trade him and let him walk when he is 2 years older and lets see what happens. He may decide to stay and I personally think he will. If he chooses to leave, management does not look bad and then can take the cap money and sign some free agents who probably want to come to LA now that Kobe is gone.

    However this is all 2 years down the road. Any team with Kobe is fun to watch. Lets just enjoy it because right now, making any move does not put this team into championship contention so the haste to do something can only make things worse. At the trade deadline or next summer, it may be different, but if not, keep Kobe for another year and then force him to opt out so he cant bitch and say he was traded because he was not wanted. I dont want to hear his spin on things if he is traded, but he can talk all day if he opts out because he will be the one to look bad unless he signs a minimum contract with a veteran team and Ill believe that when i see it.

  45. Not sure the Lakers really needed this, but Phil Jackson is blasting Jim Buss in the media for promising big changes and not delivering. He also said he probably won’t re-sign if they don’t make the second round of the playoffs this year. He didn’t say that exactly, but something along those lines. And I think he threw Bynum under the bus too…

  46. the other Stephen September 7, 2007 at 10:10 am

    Upgrading your cows…hahaha.

    “If you’ve ever been to fan forums, you’d notice the growing sentiment that 2/3 of the population actually are clamoring for JO now after KG’s dust has settled in Boston. ”

    Warren, you must believe I’ve been living under a rock all summer. And you both are still taking what I’m saying too seriously.

  47. 45. Saw that, and Phil is being smart — backing his star player and putting the pressure on management to improve the team. In the locker room he can create an us-against-everyone feeling (even against management, ala the movie “Major League”), which serves Phil’s purpose to motivate. I’m for the Lakers being patient, but by next summer if nothing significant has happened you’ll lose Phil and with Kobe be in the position Minny was with KG (where there are no good options, just degrees of bad).

    38. First, just looking at the numbers, while Drew shoots at a higher percentage you’ll see that (based on 48 minutes of production) Jefferson got you more points and more rebounds, and finished with a better PER. But as I’ve always said, stats without observation are limited. If you watched Jefferson, you’d know he was asked to carry much more of the load in those first couple years and responded. Plus, if you saw how powerful Jefferson is, seen how much more polished his game is, you’d see a much higher ceiling for Jefferson.

    Bottom line, I’d trade Bynum for Jefferson in a heartbeat. Maybe not even that long. I’d like to think Bynum is younger and will take a big step forward this year, but we have yet to see if he really can. Jefferson has already taken that step, and maybe another one.

  48. @47: Kurt, I agree that it was the right move for Phil to back his superstar and it will probably create more of a bond between the two and maybe motivate the other players. That said, Bynum seems to be very fragile mentally. I’m not sure after Kobe’s bashing and Phil’s openly saying they should move him is good for psyche. Maybe it’s a great Zen move by Phil, but, it won’t help our trading leverage either…not that we really had any to begin with.

    @44: Kobe at 31-32 and even probably up to 36-37 will be a better Kobe. What did Jordan do when he started slowing down physically? He became a more cerebral player and exploited his strengths much more. Because Kobe is such a good shooter and can operate out of the high post so effectively, I don’t see him regressing much in terms of skill. Athletically? Sure, the explosion will be gone before long, but I can’t help but think he becomes a better all-around player once he realizes he can’t just use his athleticism to dominate people. Kobe’s still only 29, and his game still has room for growth.

  49. Though Phil Jackson did not really say anything he hadn’t said before, the timing and perspective are different. Earlier in the preseason, Phil wouldn’t even consider the possibility of coaching a team very similar to last year’s.

    This time, he appears to be worried that the trade or trades we’ve been hoping for won’t happen–and he has to be close to decision making.

    Crazy as it sounds, we seem to be moving toward a Bynum vs. Kobe/Phil choice point with Jermaine O’Neil as the focal point.

    As less dramatic way to put it is that Phil is adding his weight to a trade for Jermaine O’neil that would require us to give up Odom and Bynum. He may be aware that other players might be involved–and be willing to have a bigger trade if necessary.

    Should be interesting.

  50. I would be willing to trade Odom and Bynum for JO, and a defensively minded small forward or 2 guard (in which case, Kobe plays the 3). Ths would require a multi team deal.

  51. Warren suggested if Bynum took a Dwight Howard type leap in his third yr the Lakers would be set. Actually if Bynum delivered 12ppg,10rpg and 1.7 blocks in 32+min/game,Laker fans would prob be thrilled-that was Dwight’s rookie yr.
    The problem w/Bynum is his stats seem to indicate he’s on a par w/Dwight and Amare,but anyone watching the three knows Dwight and Amare proved they could dominate in their first yr and Bynum hasn’t shown he can..

    In their first pro seasons,Dwight averaged per game 32.6min,12 points,10 rebounds and 1.7 blocks and Amare ave’d 13.5 points,8.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 31.3 minutes. Bynum got little time as a rookie,so let’s look at his numbers for his second season where in 21.9 min he ave’d 7.8 points,5.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. If you gave Bynum the 10min/game extra and assuming he maintains roughly same rate of production he’d be @ 11.6ppg,8.8rpg and 2.3 blocks. Which brings up intersting question,should Phil have given Bynum alot more playing time at risk of missing out on Play-Offs? Which raises the question of does Phil give a s*** about the Lakers future,knowing he has little time left in coaching?

    I don’t see any one player that traded to the Lakers puts them into Spurs,Suns,Mavs class,much less the Jazz. Therefore the proper way to go about this season is internal growth and making sure the roster has the right mix so that one addition will put them over the top. To that end they need a 2guard who can score and keep Kobe resting on the bench for 12-16min a game.(Time to start preventing some of the wear and tear on Kobe.)A wing defender would be nice.
    They need to decide where Lamar fits-SF,PF or on another team as he just hasn’t meshed w/the Lakers-my view.Once his position is decided they can look for a starter for the other spot.
    I don’t see the point of having both young PGs splitting limited minutes. Rotate them thru the D-League affiliate-4,5 games w/the Lakers so they can get extended time then to D-League where they can work on what they need and vice-versa w/the other one.
    Bynum has to start and get 30min/game. The lakers have to find out sooner or later if he’s going to be their Center,why not do it now?

  52. @Stephen: Good point on Bynum starting this year. As for last year, I think Phil didn’t start him because he couldn’t handle it. Remember the beginning of the year, when Bynum trounced the Wolves on opening night and was solid for a few more games while Kwame was injured? Bynum was scoring, defending well, and really doing a nice job all-around. Then he got complacent. Phil dropped him from the starting line-up because one he was a starter, he seemed to not perform as well. He was kind of coasting and not really playing with the energy that he had to prove himself. I think Phil said a couple times that he started letting the good press he was getting go to his head. Phil tried to knock him down a few pegs by starting Kwame and Bynum sulked. That to me confirms how mentally fragile he is. It is probably my biggest problem with Bynum: he doesn;t handle adversity well and he needs to grow up. I know he’s young and there will be growing pains, but that attitude is inexcusable. Watching guys like Kobe with his work ethic/passion and Lamar just being a warrior by playing through all kinds of physical (shoulder) and emotional (his son dying) injuries, you figure some of that would rub off on Bynum and yet, he doesn’t seem to have any heart at all. It sickens me.

    That said, I would start Bynum this year. It is put up or shut up time. If he comes in with the work ethnic, polish, determination, and shows the kind of heart that Kobe and Lamar show, then his value goes up. Whether that is trade value or value to the Lakers on the court, it is a very good thing.

    Here’s another point I tend to disagree with you on. I happen to think that moving Bynum and Kwame plus picks and filler for Jermaine CAN put the Lakers in contention with the Suns, Spurs, and Mavs. And the Jazz, I think we can already hang with the Jazz. Same goes for the Rockets (at least before the Scola trade). JO/Kobe/Odom takes that next step. Can they do it with Bynum and Kwame? I don’t know. But if Bynum plays real well, I can see Indy lowering the asking price. The question then becomes would you rather have Bynum for 10+ years or JO for 5 or so?

    I totally agree on the PGs though. I would start Fisher, bring Farmar in with the 2nd unit, and have Fisher close out the game. You don’t wannt tax Fisher too much during the season but giving him primarily 1st and 4th quarter minutes are musts I think. You want his leadership and poise to prevent falling into a big deficit in the beginning of the game and also at the end to close out the game.

    Also, is Bynum even ready to start this year? Physically, mentally, or period?

  53. Chise,
    I agree that the mental aspect of Bynum’s game is key. He seems to have the tools. But,we saw Dwight and Amare want to dominate from the beginning,and from my limited view I haven’t seen that from Andrew. I think he’s going to end up a good player,not a great one. Is that enough for the Lakers? In this era good centers are rare.

    My thinking on one player not being enough revolves around match-ups,team chemistry and team identity.
    Leave aside how thin the Lakers would be up front after a best case Bynum,Brown,picks for O’Neal-or Gasol-and how questionable it is to expect Mihm to be available for the PlayOffs.
    Spurs-Duncan is better than O’Neal and the other three rotation bigs combined are better than the rest of Laker bigs. Ginobli is more inspirational to his team than Odom and gets the edge. Kobe is far superior to any of the rest of Spurs wings-but they have the system and determination to contain him. Parker is much better than Laker PGs..
    Mavs-My opinion is Mavs depth would wear down Lakers in a long series. Everytime Kobe goes for a rest I see the Mavs making a mini-run and Kobe getting less and less rest and he ends up tired and missing shots as he has no legs left. Dallas pace would be faster than Lakers are comfortable w/.
    Suns-Aside from beating the Lakers in 7 of last 8 PlayOff Games and the Suns pace being one the Lakers are not comfortable w/,I don’t see Laker strengths that can exploit Sun’s weaknesses. O’Neal doesn’t like the running game and going into the low post and trying to dominate-he can,but he doesn’t like it. For rest of team-see 7 losses in last 8 games.
    Jazz-Are brutally physical which the Lakers are not and will rapidly start to frustrate them. Whether Phil can work the refs enough to tone it down is questionable.(IN series against Rockets,Jazz players would routinely grab jerseys of McGrady and Yao when they moved to use/set screens and the Jazz were called for it once-after the Jazz player spun McGrady 180degrees while holding his jersey. Anyone want to guess Kobe’s frustration level after he’s been held 3-4 times and got no call. And a frustrated Kobe is a Kobe who starts going into jack-it-up mode.) The Jazz bigs would overpower the Laker bigs,they would send relays of fresh defenders at Kobe and again their PG,Williams,is much better than the Laker PG.
    Rockets-Much as it pains me,I don’t know. We’ll have to see how Adelman uses Yao. Under JVG,Yao would be camped out in lowpost and prob give Rockets slightest edge.I believe Odom does more than Battier,your PGs are better suited for PlayOff basketball than the Rockets’ points,Kobe’s will to win is much greater than T-Mac’s and unless the Rocket bigs just dominate inside rebounding as much as scoring,I see a hard-fought Lakers win.

  54. Opening night will be at Houston. Assuming we do not see trades (I hope we do), Bynum might see some action early on. Kwame had surgery on his ankle taking away bone spurs, Mihm has not run for 18 mos.

    In terms of Bynum breaking out, I’d like to see him do it the grown up way. Meaning, he has to fight for his playing time and earn them under Phil. I’m just not sure Phil has confidence on this kid as much as the whole Laker-fan-base has. I personally am pro-trading Bynum, even if it means overpaying in 2-3 years from now.

    If we talk about timelines, Kobe and Bynum CLEARLY do not belong to the same era. By the time Bynum can be the Shaquille Oneal people and Jim Buss want him to be, Kobe will be over the hump, heading into the very bad side of the big 3-0.

    This is why the Kidd trade would have been everything to this team. Heck if we have no centers, we will play both Cook and Turiaf there if it meant having the NBA’s to-date best court general. More than the numbers he provides, Kidd provides leadership unparalleled.

    More than all those regrets for Jason Kidd, I think Phil realizes that he, Jason Kidd, and Kobe’s prime all belong in the remaining contract time he has with the Lakers. Now, as he is inducted to the Hall of Fame, I think Phil is contemplating retirement after this season of the Lakers show no actual promise and output.

    As these events start to align on their own, Phil takes Kobe’s side and makes a push for a real star in Jermaine. While Kobe and JO alone may not be enough to get that ring, Phil realizes ending his career on a winning note after being inducted to the basketball pantheon of greatness will be enough to give him a good night’s sleep.

    Who knows, Phil may decide to extend one more year for Kobe and JO’s sake.

  55. How about this crazy idea: We let Bynum, Kwame and Mihm earn their minutes by the quality of their play in training camp?

  56. Kurt,
    Logic and clear thinking don’t belong in the Off-Season:)

  57. I got to thinking…PJ Brown is still out there. I know he wants to play for a contender if he plays again, even though he will reportedly considered Miami, but, I’m wondering if LA might be able to swing something for PJ. I mean, you could move Odom back to his natural position at the 3, play PJ at the 4 for 20 mins a game, and Have Bynum/Kwame/Mihm fight for minutes at the 5 (and in Kwame’s case, he could play soe 4 in spots). It would definitely help with interior defense.

  58. Kurt,

    That’s crazy talk.