Archives For October 2007

Camp and Other Thoughts

Kurt —  October 3, 2007

• Not much news out of day one of camp — the big story in Hawaii papers is how excited the high school kids at the gym where the Lakers practiced were. In actual news, Odom got some run but no contact, and Phil Jackson said he wants to make a decision on his contract extension before the season starts.

• John Hollinger’s preview for the Lakers (and the entire West) is out on ESPN.com. Since it’s on Insider I’m not going to give away much info, but here is the bottom line — he predicts 43-39.

He (and most of us agree) that right now the weaknesses are in the paint and at point guard. Where he and I differ is on the bigger problem spot. Hollinger thinks the Lakers have enough depth in the front court to cover their weaknesses (a quantity if not quality argument), where I fret over the lack of quality. He thinks the problem is worse at PG, where the Lakers will ask a lot of Fisher. I think the Farmar/Fisher tandem is going to be a significant improvement at the point from years past.

• As was discussed in the comments, Hollinger picks Houston to win it all. The consensus in the comments was, well, you’re not impressed. My two cents — on paper they are a tiger, and I think the new coach makes them better by the end of the year (the offense should open up), but they have to prove to me they are a San Antonio and not a Utah. I’m not sold, but I wouldn’t be shocked.

• For those of us who cannot swing Lakers season tickets, individual seats go on sale Saturday (Oct. 6). Act quickly or those tickets for the one Hawks game will be snapped up.

• The Isiah Thomas/MSG verdict brings up the contradictions we as sports fans face — to use the sausage analogy, we like the end product but may not want to see how it was made (or who was making it). Mike at Knickerblogger does a great job talking about his personal conflicts on the issue.

I think Darren Rovel at CNBC hit the nail on the head — all the screaming outside Madison Square Garden will be irrelevant if the Knicks can have fans screaming with joy inside the arena. It is all about wins and losses. Win and the fans forgive you. But if the losses mount for New York, the issues from the trial will be an additional weight. (Hat tip to True Hoop.)

• In the baseball playoffs, I’m pulling for Boston. The reason is pretty simple — my wife used to live in Boston, is a Red Sox fan, and as anyone married (or in a serious relationship) knows, if she’s happy my life is easier.

But I have some people I want to see do well. When they played at Long Beach State, I got to see a lot of Troy Tulowitzki and Jered Weaver, and Troy was a personal favorite — he was a throwback, a true Dirtbag, a guy who played hard and with passion. It’s great to see him thrive at the next level. (By the way, also still around from Long Beach State are Cub Steve Trachsel and Yankee Jason Giambi.)

Let’s Just Play Hoops

Kurt —  October 2, 2007

It amazes me how many basketball writers — including some I highly respect — seemed almost surprised that Kobe spoke general platitudes when he showed up (30 minutes late) for media day. Even if you were just half paying attention for the last few weeks, it was pretty clear this is what was going to happen — Kobe shows up and plays down the story.

To me Kobe’s actions follow logically out of Kobe the person — he loves basketball and he is highly competitive. First off, he would not disrespect the sport by not showing up or not giving it is all when he did.

He is loyal to the Lakers, but he is more loyal to winning. He wants a real shot at another ring, ideally in Los Angeles but if they can’t put the pieces around him (as they clearly promised him they would) then he’ll go somewhere that they can. He felt the Lakers were moving too slowly to get championship pieces, so he put some pressure on the front office (and when the front office seemed oblivious to said pressure he kept turning up the heat until things boiled over).

But while Kobe was the top story everywhere, there was some actual news hidden at the bottom of the stories. Credit to the Daily News blog for info and transcripts. That starts with less than ideal news about injuries:

Andrew Bynum has a strained muscle in the back of his knee and will be out of practice for the next couple days. Lamar Odom said his shoulder feels great, but said he doesn’t expect to play in any preseason games in Hawaii.

Then there was this quote from Kobe when asked about talking to Jerry Buss:

Well, what I understand about Jerry, from the stuff people have been telling me, is that he’s kind of been out of the loop for the last two years, for just to see how the organization would run, or what have you. My understanding is that he’s kind of going to be back in the mix now.

Lamar Odom said he expects to be ready for opening night. As for the defense, he thinks that will improve:

Yeah, but I think that was due to injuries. Like I said, we were 23-10 and we were defending the ball really well. You have to if you’re 23-10. When you lose guys, that hurts camaraderie and camaraderie is a big part of defense, especially on the court.

Luke Walton is optimistic and is not worried about team chemistry:

So like I said, I’ve learned from being in L.A. that the best way to deal with the off-season is to get away, work on your own game and come back fresh and ready to play. That’s what I did, and hopefully that’s what some other guys did, and we’ll be ready to get after it in a couple weeks.

Interesting stuff. But all I really just want to see the team play some good basketball.

• The Kamenetzky brothers from the LA Times Lakers Blog have started a new web site dedicated to Los Angeles sports — from the highs of USC football to, well, the lows of Grady Little. (Who sticks around for another year to make sure the youngsters don’t get a chance, I guess.) Great site well worth checking out and making a regular stop — those guys do good work.

• And now for sometthing completely different: Friend of the site Jonesonthenba had dug up some great Earl “The Pearl” Monroe videos on Youtube, and reminds you that Earl and Magic had a similar flair.

NBA Blogger Previews

Kurt —  October 1, 2007

Again this year, a bunch of NBA bloggers are previewing all the NBA teams. It is organized by one of the best, Jeff from Celtics Blog. It starts with the Celtics, which has more bloggers than they have good players. It’s a group of optimistic bloggers, they all predict between 48 and 50 win (although if I were a Celtics fan, I’d be optimistic too).

We get to the Lakers on Oct. 28, with me, the very clever Don from With Malice and Ed from the Lakers Library. Here is the entire schedule.

But check back often, this is a great place to keep up with — admittedly optimistic — views of what is happening with the NBA.

Wish List

Kurt —  October 1, 2007

This afternoon, after talking with the media, the Lakers will hop on a plane and head to Hawaii for training camp. It’s a time of the season filled with optimism.

In that vein here is my with list of what I hope to see and hear about over the next several weeks.

• A focus on defense. I hope to hear players talking about it at media day. I hope to hear about the focus on defense first in camp. I hope to see better defense starting with those first couple of preseason games against the Warriors.

• The slimmed-down Kobe bringing some of his defensive energy from Vegas this summer to Hawaii (then back with him to the mainland again). And that energy rubbing off on his teammates.

• Someone to step up and take charge of the center position. Ideally Andrew Bynum, but I’ll take it from anyone.

• Phil Jackson looking uncomfortably out of place in a Hawaiian shirt.

• A stronger, more savvy Jordan Farmar bringing defense to the point guard position along with improved shooting (particularly from three).

• That Derek Fisher’s daughter gets the care and help she needs here in LA. I’m not worried at all about what he’ll bring to the team.

• Lamar Odom getting healthy enough to play.

• Nobody else getting injured.

• Baron Davis staying healthy through camp and through those first two preseason games.

• Radmanovic finding his comfort zone within the triangle, getting to the open spots and shooting like he is capable of.

• Ronny Turiaf playing well, getting the attention of the coaches and getting more minutes.