The Lakers “Chicken or the Egg” Problem

Kurt —  November 1, 2007

Here is what we know — Kobe used 43% of the Lakers possessions against the Rockets, and that is too many. If other players are not more involved and producing more, the Lakers cannot win consistently.

But with that information comes a big question: Is this disparity Kobe’s fault for not passing the ball; or his teammates fault for not doing anything with the ball when they get it?

In the game against the Rockets Tuesday, the Lakers ran the triangle offense pretty well with the first team out there, but things started to change in the second quarter. I’ll let a great note from kwame a. in the comments take it from there:

The Lakers ran the offense until the second unit couldn’t score the ball. Then Kobe (probably rightfully so) began shooting the ball to keep us in the game. The problem I forsee is how will the Lakers get back into offensive balance after one of Kobe’s scoring binges.

By the fourth quarter, it appeared to me that Kobe had stopped looking for teammates. But over at True Hoop a detailed breakdown showed Kobe did make a number of fourth quarter passes, but outside of Fisher’s game-tying three nobody did much with them.

To try to get an idea of how Kobe’s seeing his teammates, let’s examine how (his fourth quarter) passes turned out.

•Five passes to Luke Walton. Four times it comes back to Bryant, one time Walton gets fouled.
•Two passes to Jordan Farmar, leading to two missed jumpers by other players.
•Twice to Ronny Turiaf. One time it comes back, the other time it’s a missed jumper.
•Once to Maurice Evans, who passes it right back.
•Once time to Andrew Bynum, who passes it back.
•Once to Derek Fisher for the game-tying basket.

After considering how productive Bryant was on his own, and how little came out of his passes, one could make the argument that in his head, most of his teammates were not worth passing to with the game on the line.

In almost every case — before that pass to Fisher — Bryant ends up seeing a missed jumper or getting the ball back anyway.

This is not a new problem, and the question of whether Kobe or his teammates are primarily at fault has been an issue for going on three years now (and is in some ways at the heart of Kobe’s frustrations). But the answers are not simple.

On one side, is it simply a matter of a lack of confidence in the other Lakers? Are the other Lakers intimidated by Kobe? Shaq and veterans like Fox and Horry would never have tolerated Kobe not passing like this, then again they would not just have passed the ball back to Kobe when he gave it to them. They wanted to take the big shot. Fisher certainly has never shied away from a big shot, but what about Walton? Or Bynum? Or Odom?

Is it possible for Kobe to take these guys under his wing and turn them into more confident, more clutch players? Or is that the responsibility of said player?

The problem here is there is not a simple black-and-white answer. Kobe needs to diversify the offense, but there are times he needs to take it over, to do what superstars do. And finding the balance between those two things has long been a struggle for Kobe, he trusts himself and no player on the current Lakers — save Fisher — has seemingly earned his trust in those tight spots. When he gets in his “take over the game” mode as he did Tuesday night, he and the rest of the Lakers offense never snaps back.

Maybe some teammates need to have a talk with Kobe (or maybe Phil Jackson does), but those players have to take responsibility and do something with the chances they get. Maybe Kobe needs to learn to trust more. Most likely the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Whatever the case, until some balance of trust and responsibility is found between Kobe and his teammates, there will be a lot more games like the season opening loss.

Kurt

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65 responses to The Lakers “Chicken or the Egg” Problem

  1. I’ve long felt that a need for a more fluid transition between Kobe’s roles was needed, with 2006′s Game 7 being a prime example. The distinction between when he’s in “scoring” mode and “facilitating” mode shouldn’t be so clearcut. I realize it’s difficult to make that switch more seamless, but for both Kobe’s sake and his teammates’, it’s something that has to improve.

  2. i don’t recall the passes vividly enough to remember whether they were ‘good passes’ – as in a pass that any NBA level player should be able to convert.

    Not everyone can create their own shot just because they have the ball; else Kobe wouldn’t be so special. So the problem probably has more to do with Kobe than anyone else – if Kobe worked within the system, made the pass within the system, then the others would know what to do with it.

    If he’s playing outside the system, and gives up the ball only when he’s certain he has no better option, then chances are that his teammates will not be able to do much with it since the offense isn’t set.

    Of course, i have no real knowledge of how ‘systems’ work; i am a novice fan who mostly focuses on the person with the ball. I guess that’s why I’m a Kobe fan in the first place… :-)

  3. Great article once again. You put into words what so many have been thinking for so long and didn’t know how to express. Truly, well done. I love the stats on what happened with Kobe’s passes throughout the 4th quarter, very valuable and I hope that the coaching staff and front office sees these stats. The bottom line for the Lakers is that confidence can’t be built overnight, every player has to gain it, earn it, and retain it through consistency. Bynum can be good, but not until he is positive he can be the best at that moment. The fire in Kobe’s eyes says it all. Thats what I’ve always said about Kobe, Iverson, Garnett, and maybe Nowitzki and Duncan. These are the players that WILL NOT LOSE (although KG makes me look dumb saying that, but good luck in Boston). Cleveland has had the same issues, and that is why they got destroyed by San Antonia last season in the finals. No one on that team can make an open jumper besides Lebron. With one good defender in Bowen covering Lebron, the game is over based on the idea that no other scoring options exist. Good luck to Lebron also in picking up a supporting cast with a front office that can’t even bring back their own restricted free agents in a timely manner.

    I haven’t had the opportunity to write much based on the modifications and upgrades made http://www.laballtalk.com recently but I’m glad to be getting back on track and following the writing here at Forum Blue and Gold. This is truly one of the top five blogs covering the NBA. Hopefully we’ll be able to say the same for the Lakers soon enough.

  4. This analysis fits my sentiments. Especially the difficulty the lakers face in trying to recover once Kobe is done with his Kobe vs. the other team mode or once Kobe goes cold. They are so used to clearing out and running back down after the shot that they aren’t prepared and don’t care to make themselves really open on offense. No matter what, they know they aren’t getting the ball.

    Also the only nitpick problem that might come with the analysis by the TrueHoop reader is that some of those passes are meant to be given back to the passer depending on how the defense plays in the Triangle. It doesn’t tell you at what kind of scoring position the player who received a pass from Kobe was actually in. (Is that Kobe’s fault for not finding players in spots they can score or the players’s fault for not getting to spots they can score?) That being said, my feeling is even if we knew what the triangle was supposed to look like, we would probably still conclude that Kobe and the rest of the team aren’t finding that balance. Not that this is a new problem, it’s been going on for at least the past two years.

  5. Kurt I think you touch on a excellent point. I’ve never heard (or thought it in this way) an article about Kobe and team play that really showed me what was happening. But reading this something occurred to me.

    Kobe is like Jordan. There’s probably no better example of two players being alike. That’s somewhat of a given. What’s interesting is a story I read on TrueHoop recently about Jordan clocking Kerr in practice once. What I find interesting about it is that Kerr stood up to Jordan enough to get hit and then was his go-to clutch shooter at the end of games. I look at Kobe and wonder who will stand up to him enough to get hit in the face.

    He already respects Fisher, who else will earn that respect?

  6. An interesting comparison is to look at guys on the Spurs 2003 championship team. That was their first title with Parker and Ginobli and they also had a young Stephen Jackson on that team. None of those guys were proven players at the begininng of that season, yet by the time the playoffs rolled around, Jackson was getting the ball kicked out to him for huge 3 pters. Duncan and Popovich nurtured those guys and it paid immediate dividends. Not saying that getting Luke that confidence will happen overnight, but think back to last year, against Dallas, Sasha was trusted and hit a big shot, but we didn’t build on that (injuries, etc.). If Kobe stays, they have to be willing to let the guys screw up before they are able to succeed.

  7. “Most likely the answer lies somewhere in the middle.”

    That’s our Kurt. We can always count on him to sit on the fence and be the “voice of reason.”

    Me, I am the voice of the obvious–Kobe was ball hogging to a new level versus the Rockets. Whether that was necessary we will never know because he simply refused to try and get teammates involved in the second half. He didn’t even consider passing the ball. That TrueHoop comment that everyone is posting like it reveals the second coming is a typical stats analysis that fails to factor the realities of the situation, Kobe was not trying to get others involved, period. When he did make passes, it was just because he was not in a scoring position. He wasn’t passing to help others score or accomplish anything, it was more “here I’ll pass to you but then yell at you to pass it back to me so I can force a drive into 3 Rockets and then only make 1/2 from the freethrow line.

  8. I did go back and relook at that 4th qtr after kwame a. linked to the True Hoop article.

    Yes, Kobe did pass the ball when he wasn’t in shooting position – should he pass it when he had a good shot???

    There was maybe one pass that wasn’t right on the money – this wasn’t like the preseason passing. Several were passed along before a shot was taken or the ball returned to Kobe – I would consider that a good use of the triangle.

    What did seem obvious, and is being discussed here, is that the people receiving the passes were trying to think about who else might be open, rather than seeing if they had an open shot. This constant thinking might be at the bottom of the problem.

    Perhaps, if Phil continues to ‘open up his triangle’, the players will get into more of a shoot first mentality and this could help the problem. Constant preaching about the triangle system and passing the ball around may be inhibiting the players natural inclination to shoot the rock.

  9. In the fourth quarter, Kobe was 4-8 from the floor, and got to the line 13 times (making 9). The rest of the team was 4-10 from the floor and got to the line 6 times (making 5). Kobe was taking almost all the shots, but he was still making a higher percentage than his teammates.

  10. There is not enough talent on the Lakers beyond Kobe to think that Kobe, assuming he is the player Jordan is, can get them to the championship by making the other players better. This analyzing whos responsibility it is to get the other players to be better is a waste. Odom is no Pippen, we dont have a Rodman, and its sad to say I dont even think our centers are as good as Bill Cartwright or Luc Longley. Bynum could be better, but right now he is not. The overall league talent level is much higher now then it was 10-15 years ago so it takes a little more talent to win it all.

    The changing of the league since Jordans days and the balance of power being in the West also makes such championship achievement for the Lakers impossible without trades to bring in real talent. Since Kobe was chosen over Shaq, right decision or not, what deals have been available to the Lakers to truly bring in a player to get them to the next level? Jason Kidd? No. Garnett? Could we have really offered what Boston gave up without including Odom? No. The Butler for Brown trade turned out bad, but it was not viewed as a bad deal by everyone at the time and many, myself included, thought the upside for Brown was worth it. As much as I miss Jerry West, he hasnt exactly turned Memphis into a contender.

    The Lakers cant win with Kobe this year and do you really want to play next year assuming you get the piece you need and assume Kobe is suddenly happy. Kobe is too volatile. I wouldnt count on him unless his contract has been extended. I think Kobes expectations are unrealistic when it comes to bringing in talent to help him. Everyone wants to win including the FO. What is honestly available? Can you get something for nothing? Do you demand a trade because you didnt draft a gem in the late first round or second round like others may have with Ginobli or Arenas?

    The bottom line is that you really need a dominant big man to win the title in todays NBA. Kobe fails to realize how much Shaq was the difference. You just cant get rid of him and expect to maintain that high level of winning, especially after the deal for Shaq that was made. For all the talent Dallas and Phoenix has, its still Miami and SA that won the titles with dominant big men and talented guards. Yes there is always the exception as maybe Phx or Dallas can win it, but Kobe needs to be realistic. He wants to be in the East because he thinks he can take a sorry team like LeBron did Cleveland to the finals and win the title by himself against a western confernce power in a series. Its not so easy even for someone like Kobe. He cant even get by Phoenix in the first round now. The talent level on his new team is not going be much different then where he is now. He should stay committed to the Lakers. If he wants to go to Phoenix or Dallas, are we really going to give him to one of those teams for pennies on the dollar? Get real Kobe.

    If I can get a real package from Chicago of young athletic players, I make the deal and get rid of Kobe. Take Hinrich, Gordan, Thomas, and Noah. Let them keep Deng. Trading him for an old Ben Wallace and a mentally deranged Artest is beyond dumb. If that is really what is available for Kobe, we need to leave Kobe here and say we wont trade him for junk and see what happens for 2 years. Not ideal, but I dont trade Kobe for junk just to get rid of him.

    Players like Shaq are why teams take chances on players like Bynum and Brown. You need the big man. Arenas can light it up all day in DC and he has no chance to get out of the East with their talent in the same way Kobe has no chance to get out of the West. That does not mean you start demanding trades and force the offended owner who is now upset that he chose to go forward with you and not Shaq, to shoot his mouth off because his chosen one wants a trade. Id be pissed off if I was Buss too listening to Kobe whine with the likes of Stephen A Smith after you traded Shaq to build your team around Kobe and you arent a contender right away.

    Kobe needs to sign an extension that eliminates this opting out or we need to trade him to Chicago. If he wont sign off on the deal because he sees he has the same problem but only in a new uniform, then both sides are dumb and the Lakers lose two years of getting better and Kobe is two years older when he opts out and goes who knows where.

    We arent discussing moving a 30 yr old Shaq who at that age is more valuable then Kobe is now. I hope something happens soon. I want to watch my Lakers with guys who want to be Lakers, not guys who think they are more important then the team and cry trade because they now realize that without Shaq, getting back to the top is tough.

    Kobe can be the biggest jerk he wants if we are winning, but if hes acting this way and our team is losing in the first round, then let him go. Reading about stats that show our other players arent that good and that Kobe, a guy who wants to be traded, takes 40% of the offensive possesions, shows how much change is needed.

  11. Guys,

    One thing to consider about Kobe’s passing and the returns at the end of the game, and throughout the game, is that this is what Kobe wants. One of the knocks on Kobe is that he will get mad at any other player who he feels takes too many shots, takes a shot when Kobe wants to shoot, or won’t pass him the ball. This does not create a situation where a lot of guys are looking to play their game and hit their shots. We have to remember that this is a young team and the younger guys are probably intimidated by Kobe. They are intimidated because he is older, has the rings, is generally accepted as the best player in the game, is very intense, and he gets mad at them. The solution here is for Kobe to make these guys comfortable playing their game. The reason to blame Kobe for the game one loss is that he makes people uncomfortable to play the game. instead he goes onto the court determined to make everyone play his game. Unfortunately his game is to take half the shots himself and that is no way to win.

    On a side note, this is my first post. I have read this blog for a while but never been motivated to post like I am today. What got me fired up is that when we talk about Kobe and the rest of this team we have too look at why they are behaving a certain way. Keep in mind that these guys have been playing basketball for years, they are all professionals and all of them have some confidence in their game or they would not have made it to this level. We need to look at things like Sasha not being able to play in games, Odom fading away on the floor, and K. Brown’s regression since arriving in LA to ask our selves what impact Kobe has on these manifestations. Could it be that Kobe’s approach to the game, which no doubt makes him an incredible individual player, actually suppresses the talent of those around him. I believe that it does. I believe that this will keep him from being a truly great player and is the reason he cannot be compared to Jordan. Jordan was intense, he got angry, but he also got the best out of those on the floor with him. I remember watching Jordan walk out of time outs. The swagger he had translated to the four guys walking behind him. It looked like they all felt that MJ had their back and as a result they gave everything to play with him. Kobe’s swagger is only for himself. His teammates are so focused on Kobe’s anger that it distracts them from playing the game.

  12. Developing young players takes time, and costs victories in the short term. A team needs to be willing to bite the bullet and do that; so far the Lakers (and Kobe) haven’t been.

  13. 12- I agree. Also, developing players takes a coach who can teach, actually teach. Bynum and Brown still don’t box-out, several of our guards get lost on defensive rotations, and our offense neglects the post for long stretches. Phil is not the right coach for this team as consitutued now. Its too bad Jeff Van Gundy isn’t the coach of this team. He would actually force them to play d and move the ball.

  14. Walton makes roughly $5M per year and you think it’s unclear whose responsibility it is that Walton learns to take and make shots?

  15. With the passing of time and the recent events this question must be asked: Shaq versus Kobe, was the wrong player traded?

    First of all, I don’t believe that keeping both Shaq and Kobe would have been possible. If Kobe, Shaq, and Buss had buried the hatchet is there any doubt that Shaq would have lacked the “I’ll prove ‘em wrong” motivation of being traded and allowed himself to turn to fat?

    So trading one of them was the right move. We know what’s happened by trading Shaq.

    What if we traded the wrong super star. Is is inconceiveable that Kobe at age 24 would have demanded at least two all-stars at that time? What about Rashard Lews and Ray Allen; Lamar Odom and Wade (the reason Wade wasn’t included in the Shaq deal was because their perimeter play would have been decimated – not an issue if Kobe is coming)

    Shaq plus Lewis/Allen or Shaq plus Odom/Wade. Do you not think that either team contends for the title?

    As far as Shaq’s motivation, I think if Kobe had been traded Shaq would have been highly motivated to show the world that he doesn’t need Kobe to win the title.

  16. Awesome analysis Kurt. The difference between the championship years and now is experience. These young guys have big shoes to fill and they haven’t done anything that garners respect around the league. They lack confidence in there own game and never rally around Kobe. They differ instead. This is not Kobe’s fault. We saw what happens when Kobe differs to this young Lakers sqaud in GM 7 2006 playoff. Nobody steps up. But what’s funny is nobody in the FO has stepped up their game as well. I’ve dreaded the games on Christmas when Shaq & Wade kept beating us making us look like fools. Now I see Kobe doing the same thing at his prime should we trade him. He knows more than any of us the character of these young players. Kobe can adjust to any situation. He played with the USA Team and did the little things. Now with the Lakers it is the same ol’ thing. We need scorers or a new system. I’m amazed at how Utah is so efficient with there offense. But they’ve got scorers too. We’ve got too many weaknesses when it comes to scoring. I hope Odom is okay because if he doesn’t produce this season I think the changing of the guard is inevitable. We need people who demand respect. Not this mentality that Kobe needs to massage these fragile players to greatness type players. We need killers like Ginobli, Parker, Bosh, Kidd, Melo, Billups, Boozer, B Davis, Artest and I’m sure the list goes on. None of these guys need to be coddled. But instead I see Cook, Evans, Mihm, Bynum, K Brown, Farmar, Sasha V, C Karl, Crittenton. Does this line up put fear into an opposing team in a 7 game playoff? What have these guys done to deserve to win a championship? Does Bynum have a goto move after working with Kareem? Has K Brown improved his offense, defense, rebounding, freethrow shooting? Has Cook improved his defense. Has he been watching any video on his offensive selection? Has Evans learned the most effective spots to attack in the triangle. Has Farmar developed his outside shooting? Can Mihm put on his shoes? Will Turiaf learn how to be like Karl Malone and play smarter? So getting younger talent doesn’t mean the FO problems will go away. But you know that it will take years for the Lakers to be a top tier team if they don’t have veterans that can play.

  17. 14. That’s being simplistic. Saying Walton should hit shots and saying can he learn to do it in the clutch are different things with different mindsets.

  18. Great work as always.
    FWIW
    Most of those 4Q passes were simply to allow KB24 to re-post because he had given up his dribble and had nowhere to go. KB24 had already long ago gone into “Takeover the Game” mode and everyone else had resorted to standing around and watching. (2Q and 3Q justify KB24) The other players gave up on trying to get open and working without the ball when they were not getting rewarded with the ball for their efforts.(i.e. fast breaks mentioned yesterday with Luke and Ronny) The offense was not being run. How to fix this recurring problem is beyond me.

  19. you guys got way waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much time on your hands. what do your wives think of this basketball obssession?

  20. I think that there is a great deal of overanalysis going on. To me, the Lakers looked surprisingly good for a game #1. Kobe clearly wanted to win.

    Let’s see what happens next.

  21. Obviously its easy to understand the frustration with Kobe when he puts it up 30+ times and shoots at a 40% clip…but would you rather he be like Lebron last night who deferred to his teammates way too much. Star players with “no talent around him” should not only have 11 FGAs. That’s the difference between Kobe and guys like Lebron. Kobe will not allow his team to get down 20 without him doing all he can to pull his team out of it.

    You all complain about him shooting too much when he has an uncharacteristically bad shooting night like last night, but had he made his freethrows, it would have been another career game where he goes for 50, puts his team on his back, and pulls out a win against a top 5 team. You can’t have it both ways guys.

  22. 17 My wife doesn’t mind she’s going to the Warrior/Lakers game with me on 12/14 at the Oracle. Passion is passion for sports or for the food network. Why limit it on what others think? Sports is a good thing. At least my kids aren’t in the backyard playing with matches causing a state of emergency. Why put it on your wife to determine your passion for basketball?

  23. 9. Kurt, I agree Kobe was shot a higher percentage than his teammate in the 4th. But stats don’t compare apples to apples, which is why I question the utility of the TroopHoop passing analysis. If Kobe were to actually try and set his teammates up then maybe they would shoot a higher percentage and even play better defense. If Kobe included his teammates in the offense then maybe things would flow and people would get better looks. Just looking at the stats doesn’t tell the whole story. Anyone who watched that game knows Kobe was a black hole forcing shots time and again. I think Kobe is the best player on the planet and he is my favorite player in the NBA, but I have to call this one like I see it. He wasn’t even pretending to include the other players and, as a result, the offense was stagnant. Kobe is a warrior, but with his pending trade, he simply isn’t doing what it takes emotionally to make his teammate want to go to battle with him.

    I point to game 6 of the Suns series two years ago as a case in point (I think that is the right game). Kobe hardly shot the ball in the second half but he was doing everything possible to get everyone involved. As a result, that was the best half of b-ball the Lakers have played in 4 years.

    Lets just get him to Chicago and move on.

  24. My memories are fading, and maybe they were vague to start with, but doesn’t it seem like Kobe is on the opposite trajectory from Jordan? Jordan started out like this, all ball-hoggedy, but got better at sharing, and learned how to pick his spots to take over. Didn’t Jackson get a lot of credit for this?

    But Kobe’s career progress seems to be the opposite. He is getting more and more like the young Jordan. And Jackson seems helpless before Bryant.

  25. I really don’t want to break-up the great discussion going on with a link, but I think Chris Broussard said it all in his blog on ESPN today. A really good column that is precisely what needs to happen ASAP:

    http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?name=broussard_chris&lpos=spotlight&lid=tab2pos2

  26. Since the Broussard piece is “Insider”, it’s just a blip to me. Proceed.

  27. Chise: I was just going to post that link here. First rational peice from anyone in the mainstream.

    I kind of wrote the same thing a couple of weeks back:

    http://sports.aol.com/fanhouse/2007/10/17/staying-rational-about-kobe/

  28. I also just posted this comment on True Hoop:

    This is much to do about nothing. KOBE IS NOT GETTING TRADED. It’s just a game of chicken, because Kobe won’t waive the no trade clause unless he goes to a great situation and the Lakers won’t trade him unless they are gutting the other team. It’s just not going to happen. Unless the Lakers really are that dumb. The Lakers actually don’t have to ever trade Kobe. They can take a solid stance and say stay, shut up and play or be suspended without pay. Bryant is under contract with them, so in order for them to go to a better situation, he needs them to move him. In two years when Bryant can opt out, he is not going to go play for a contender for the mid-level. Every team that he’s interested in playing for is not going to have the cap room to sign Bryant to even half of what he is going to be making now. Kobe loves to compete, but believe me, he is not going to give up all of that money, and he is not going to play for the mid-level. What does that mean? That’s right, if Kobe still wants to go somewhere else he still needs the Lakers to make it happen via sign and trade. The Lakers need to stand up and tell him who really has the power. Call Kobe’s bluff. You wanna opt out in two years? Fine, do it! Have fun playing for the mid-level. We’ll keep all of that money we were going to pay you and start over. I mean, either way that’s what the Lakers would be doing by trading Kobe to begin with right?

  29. Broussard’s column…

    Bulletpoint version:

    - Offers for Kobe are laughable.
    - Teams trying to get Kobe on the cheap.
    - He’d trade for Artest if Kobe stayed in LA, but no way if Kobe is traded.
    - Direct quote: “Not even Chicago’s best offer, which would include Deng, excites me.” My thoughts exactly.
    - If Kobe is nixing any deal that includes Deng, no reason to deal with Bulls at all.
    - If he was L.A., he’d tell Kobe we’re keeping you or at least say that unless he waives his no-trade clause, they won’t move him.
    - Plenty of time between now and when Kobe can opt out to rectify situation so why rush? If they decide to move him in the off-season, around the draft, they’ll get better offers.
    - Keep an eye on the JO situation.
    - When Kobe can actually opt out, what contender is gonna have the cap to sign him? Just let him opt out if anything and reap the salary cap benefits. LO’s deal expires when Kobe can opt-out as well.

    Bottomline:

    Lakers can’t let Kobe push them around and trade him just because he’s unhappy. Dr. Buss has taken this thing personally but needs to still be smart enough to make the right “business” decision, which, in his mind, is telling Kobe and the other teams that he is off the market.

  30. Thanks for summarizing, Chise.

  31. Pax says the Bulls are out of it for now.

    http://blogs.chicagosports.chicagotribune.com/fullcourtpress/2007/11/it-was-the-righ.html

    Paxson is just such a great GM and a class act. Jim Buss could learn a few things from him…

  32. jonesonthenba,
    This is what I have been saying for 3 months. Guys (and gals) THE LAKER’S HAVE THE LEVERAGE.

    Unless Kobe pulls a Vince Carter – and that would really destroy his reputation and his trade value – the Buss family ought to take Kobe aside privately (no talking to the media on this one) and say they are going to work to make the Lakers contenders ASAP, but they are not trading Kobe. Wouldn’t it be really hilarious if they have already done this and all of us are just spraying crap all over the place for absolutely no reason.

  33. Heads up for everyone who hasn’t heard- Paxson says he’s not trading for Kobe. Dude ain’t going anywhere this year.

    http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/story/7398386?MSNHPHMA

  34. Kind of off-topic, but made me think about the whole shennanigans going on re: Kobe. Bird may call the Lakers up to renew trade talks for O’ Neal and may settle for Odom and Brown. Why?

    1) Knee injury to O’ Neal. Will limit him until at least this weekend. I am sure Bird’s tired of it.

    2) The prospect of Kobe coming out East and handing the Pacers 4 losses each year.

    3) Kwame played well (showed good hands) and they have the option to dump him after this season.

    4) Odom would be a potential all-star in the east who could facilitate the offense and dish to a team consisting of mostly role-players.

    5) Pacers proved they can play competitively without O’ Neal and any value for him would be good at this point.

    Mitch save the Lakers and do the right thing. Call Bird.

  35. I don’t know how much stock I put in what Paxson or any GM/Owner says publicly. For all we know, he’s just posturing and telling the Lakers “take it or leave it” (in regards to their latest offer, whatever it was). I’ve heard GMs and the like proclaim all sorts of things like that and then turn around and do what they said they wouldn’t do. Like Isiah said before, sometimes he’s gonna have to lie to the media on purpose to protect his interests. Pax could be doing the same. I’m not saying he is, but, the only GM/Owner whose words carry weight with me right now resides on the west coast. And he (they) is (are) not talking.

  36. If anyone saw the Bulls game last night there was no doubt that their team had several players who were affected by the trade talk. They were down 17 early and came back, but they looked like they felt that at any second someone might call them in the locker room and tell them they were traded.

  37. 23. No doubt there is a question about what those passes were (was he at the top, made a pass to the high post in the offense that got the ball back cutting toward the hoop? I think that happened with a couple of the Walton passes). That said, I think the True Hoop thing is reflective of Kobe’s mindset, that it really is him against the world and he has no help on this team. I’m not saying that is true, but it more and more seems to be how he sees things.

  38. I agree with Phil on the Kobe passing in the 4th qtr. If you watch the game his passes were the equivalent of reposting. He would pass only to reposition himself in a better scoring spot and demand the ball back. That is why most of the time the passes resulted in returned passes. Not because the other players didn’t want to make the play but because Kobe manipulated the play to get the ball back.

    As for JonesontheNBA and the Chris B. article I agree with those as well. Lakers need to ride it out all the way. They need to be narrow minded on keeping kobe till he actually leaves himself. A lot can happen in two years that will keep kobe here and if not we have an golden opportunity to start from scratch with both kobe and lamar coming off the books.

    We would have Bynum, Critt, Farmar, Turiaf (assuming we re-sign him) two 1st rd draft picks in the next two drafts to build around plus the 35 mil that opens when lamar and kobe come off.

    That is not a bad plan to fall back on. Not to mention Kobe might have to create a sign and trade to get the money he would want. We can snag plenty of draft picks/ slash players in that deal to further boost our new young core.

    Anyways, Kobe was selfish at the end of the game and needs to learn to let others learn on the job even if it costs games, but he is still the best player in the world and should not be dealt until the last second possible. Even then we should have a solid nucleus and money to build a playoff team.

  39. Kobe will be selfish at the end of games, but someone else needs to have the cajones to challenge that. I would love to see Bynum get on the low block and scream for the ball. Or have Walton ask why he didn’t get the pass on the break when Kobe drew three defenders. This is Kobe’s team, but he can and should be challenged. I’m just not sure anyone on this squad, save maybe Fisher, will do that.

  40. surrounded by mediocrity…Jordan played almost idnetical to how Kobe is playing now. Jordan didnt make the players around him any better those first 5 years in Chicago. I recall the same sort of talk abotu Jordan “ball hog” “selfish” “not a team Player” etc…Once Pippen and Phil Jackson get there…that is when things changed. Lamar has always had the unbleivable talent…but…because of injury or lack of interest or whatever…he just hasnt show that greatness consitenly. But he can…is it Kobe’s job to make that a reality for Odom? I dont know.

    I will tell you…I am sick of the talk…pull the trigger…or put the gun away….I’d rather kobe stay….but…if they are going to trade him…get it over with. I know they are waiting for value…but…there is nothing really that valuabel out there

    I like the talk #$ was saying….make the trade to get someone else in LA…to sasiate Kobes woes…JO may not be the answer…but….I dont know…I am not a Gm…but…enough already.

  41. I’m kind of hoping Farmar or Critt can have the guts to run the offense, even if Kobe is screaming for the ball. I have my doubts about Odom, but he hasn’t played all that much lately so maybe he can, too.

  42. @ 40

    JO may not be the answer but he would be a step in the right direction. That is only if the Lakers can keep Odom.

    That said, I’m glad that Pax came out and just said there would be no deal. However, doesn’t this kind of disappoint us Laker fans when the GM of the other team does the job for us? Shouldn’t Buss or Kupchak come out and say “Kobe’s here for the next 2 years” instead of letting media reports blow everything out of proportion?

    This may be another sign of how bad the Lakers FO is at this point.

    To the game on Friday. I have no FSN so I wasn’t able to watch the Lakers/Rockets game so I’m really interested in seeing if the new faster paced triangle will be sucked into Phoenix’s pace. Anyone else interested on how many minutes the Suns are going to play? IMO, the key to the Suns championship hopes rests on their minutes.

  43. 42- The Suns hope that Marcus Banks, who had a decent preseason, will be able to give Nash a breather this season. Also, having Grant Hill, they will be able to rest Marion more too. Skinner will let them get Amare some pine-time and they still have Barbosa/Bell/Diaw as impact players. Kerr has a nice team on his hands.

  44. 43

    Kerr does have a nice team but would D’antoni actually play more than his core players? That remains to be seen. Grant Hill is a nice addition but I was under the impression they brought him in as a semi-backup for Nash and not for Marion.

    I doubt Skinner will see much PT and believe that when Amare sits, Diaw would fill that spot and give the Suns a smaller lineup.

  45. From the News:
    ———————————
    The Chicago Sun-Times reports:

    John Paxson said Thursday the Kobe Bryant trade talks between he and the Los Angeles Lakers never came close to a deal and are over for the forseeable future. “We were never on the verge of a deal,’’ Paxson said. “There was never a time limit to get something done. We never got down to the nuts and bolts because there was never a deal to be done. The reality is we were having talks with the Lakers. But there’s not a deal going to be done.’’

    The Chicago Tribune has also stated that Paxson has pulled the plug on blowing up the roster he constructed, since there is no equal value.

    ——————————
    Hopefully this puts to rest all the hype floating around. At least until February, or the seasons end. Perhaps, now that it is blatantly apparent the Lakers have tried to move Kobe to avail, mending between him and the FO can begin.

  46. Apologies, I meant, to no avail.

  47. @ 42 I agree…I do beleive in Lamar Odom…I think that guy can be the difference…I really do…nobody can stop him when he drives from right to left with a left handed shot…nobody….and he played so well last year when everyone else was out with injury. I really think this squad has some great pieces. If they can get past this drama and just play (that is a big IF) they can make a run at the Western Conf championship…seriously…but they got to play like a team that wants to win togehter. All the kobe haters…he has played as a team player…he can do it and he does it very well when he does. He does have that inbetween gear of Facilitator and Killer…we have seen it…not recently of course…but…damm…so much potential I see.

  48. Like most problems the solution to melding Kobe and the rest of the Lakers on offence is simple. Unfortunately simple is hard.
    The Lakers need a self-confident perimeter player who can get past his man outside,penetrate and pass to open Lakers.(IMO,Lamar doesn’t have enough whatever to be the playmaker the Lakers need.) A Jason Kidd,a Tracy McGrady,a Steve Nash. Since the odds of getting one of them is pretty freakin’ remote,the Lakers FO should be looking for those traits in a young player and do whatever it takes to get him.

  49. On the article about Kobe’s passing. Do the teammates warrant the ball? Even if they didn’t do as well as Kobe would like he should still make the passes(this is the first game of the season). This is a young team that will take some time to mature. Will Farmar learn how to deal with the pressure by not getting the shots when open? Will Bynum work hard for the ball knowing that Kobe won’t pass to him anyways? If Kobe wants to have teammates that he can count on he must first trust them and let them learn. If anything this game did was show that Kobe isn’t a team player but an individual in a team game. He hasn’t learn how to make the players around him better.

  50. Stephen,
    We may have that younger player in either Farmar or Crit or both. They do seem to have some cajones. A little patience might be in order here.

  51. @48-The lakers don’t really need a playmaker like Nash. Maybe T-Mac and Kidd, but not Nash. You gotta fit into the triangle, and Nash would die in it. [edited]

  52. @Stephen I think we can all agree the Laker’s main problem on offence was Kobe being the black-hole as far as ball movement goes. With Fisher bringing the ball up court, or even as a team leader, there will probably be more chances for Lamar to get the ball first. Hopefully the rest of the team, and our young PGs will follow that example.

  53. Kobe has been brought up from day 1 in the NBA in an environment that encourged he and his team to try to win every game. However to develop young players, sometimes a loss is better than a win. The primary goal on young teams is to develop team chemisty, secondary goal win the game. How do you convince Kobe to do this? Kind of a catch 22, since the mgmt, assured him that were in win now mode when they signed him.

  54. Craig,
    You may well be right,and I think both will become good players. But Crit’s knock in college and going in to draft was his horrible “passing vision”(for lack of a better phrase.) W/his apparent willingness to play D and shooting ability I see him as Phil’s perfect PG,but not a guy to set up others. Farmar I see as the PG off the bench to speed up tempo and dominate the other team’s second unit and as the guy to settle the team down when the other team goes on a run.(OF course I’ve worn glasses since I was a kid.) Personal opinion,I think Phil prefers a bigger player to set up the others as it’s marginally easier for taller players to see thru the crowd.(We always talk about former players who become coaches having teams in their image. We forget Phil’s beloved Knicks had the forwards do an awful lt of the playmaking for others.)

    Rhys,
    Kobe is what he is-the best scoring machine in the League. Asking him to be a playmaker messes with his mind.He starts thinking,he tries to do what he think pts should do,and he gets frustrated because what is so easy and beautiful becomes a struggle.
    My perhaps mythical playmaker would be smart enough to let Kobe be Kobe when Kobe is hot,and then when the defence adjusts-or if Kobe is cold,or forcing things-would take over the ball and distribute it to others in their comfort zone. I just think Lamar defers too much to Kobe to take the ball out of Kobe’s hands.

  55. After simultaneously hearing bad news from the Bulls and the Mavs, maybe Kobe had a Hotel California nighmare:

    “Last thing I remember, I was
    Running for the door
    I had to find the passage back
    To the place I was before
    relax, said the night man,
    We are programmed to receive.
    You can checkout any time you like,
    But you can never leave!”

    Welcome to the Hotel California, grasshopper!

    That’s what I keep singing to myself as I consider Kobe’s situation . . . . .prisoner here–of his own device.

    If Kobe really wants to go East, he might have a shot with the Bobcats. He could definitely get to know Michael Jorden there. Atlanta might be persuaded. Who knows, he might even get an offer from the Indiana Pacers.

    The top teams? Forget it.

    Even if the Lakers would consider it, it would be much the same in the West. Jimmy Buss saw that clearly. Why didn’t Kobe?

    Kobe needs to embrace the song most of us have been singing to him since last year: Love the one you’re with.

    I think he’s beginning to get the message: this year, it’s not just de ja vu all over again.

    Kobe almost forgot what Derek Fisher means to the Lakers, but he got reminded in the first game–at least one piece of champion memories was back in place–even better than before!

    Maybe Kobe should thank Jimmy for not trading Andrew. Maybe he needs to remember how he used to feed the big guy.

    Jordan Farmer is not a slug. He does things on offense and defense that the Lakers have not had for a long long time. He hates to lose.

    Ronny deserves to start at the four and is only going to get better. We already know that he has a very big heart and some style. Oh, and when did Mihm get back?

    Kwame is healed, and he is now amazingly quick to come out on defense to defeat that pick and roll. And he finished a few with authority! We’ll have to see how he does against Phoenix.

    And we haven’t even seen VladRad or Lamar added into the mix.

    Amd they now have got another Kobe–and where’d that Javaris come from.

    Hey, maybe our Lakers are closer than he realized–and that key trade might still happen.

    There’s nothing like the green green grass of home.

    Welcome home, Kobe.

  56. LAKERHOLIC SINCE 1982 November 2, 2007 at 8:49 am

    Finally somebody sees the Laker situation like I see it. Get guys out there who want to be Lakers and score with the ball. Trade KWAME NOW( JORDAN WAS RIGHT)…FIRE KUPCHAT AND PLEASE LET MAGIC JOHNSON RUN THE SHOW SINCE WEST WONT BE BACK. IF NOT FOR KOBE THE LAKERS WOULD BE BOBCATS WEST. ALWAYS BUILD AROUND YOUR FRANCHISE MAN. LONG LIVE SHOWTIME…GET NEW MANAGEMENT

  57. Stephen,
    I understand the perfect PG would be 6’6″/6’7″, but we don’t have one of those and there are none available. In drafting, we should take this into account, but we have to deal with things as they are now. Farmar is our best pure PG and looking more and more like someone who can stand the load. You have him starting on the 2nd unit (because of his size??). Most PGs are in the 6’1″ to 6’4″ range – see Steve Nash on the shorter end.

    While Phil might like one thing I think he has to be flexible. All great coaches had flexibility – see John Wooden. They run a particular style, but they also adapt to the players they have. John Wooden changed his offense in the two years between Alcindor and Walton and he still won NCAA championships those years.

    I think that is what Phil is trying to do with this team – I certainly hope so.

  58. Paul,
    “However to develop young players, sometimes a loss is better than a win”

    Which is why it is almost impossible to be a real title contender while rebuilding. Throw in the fact that having Kobe means that the team will be at least mediocre, which means that they are unlikely to get high draft picks.

    The Lakers would have been better off if, last season, they IRd Lamar and Kwame, had them have their surgery when they got hurt. That would have meant no playoffs, but higher draft picks, as well as starting the preseason with Kwame and Lamar fully healthy. (Which also makes them more attractive when discussing trades with other teams.) But that would require a front office that actually thinks things out.

  59. Craig,
    For whatever reason,Phil doesn’t want his PGs running his Triangle. In Chicago it was Pippen and Kukoc,in LA it was Fox a little,but mostly Shaq getting the ball early and then either hitting the open Laker or taking the shot himself.
    My mythical playmaker would be a SF/SG,as that is what Phil seems to want. Otherwise why try and cram Kobe into Initiator role while Lamar is out?
    Now as it happens there have been two players in recent drafts who I think would have been ideal-Livingston and Corey Brewer. I think the Lakers missed big time by not going after Brewer. there are a couple of players who have not had their Rookie contracts extended who might do the job-Josh Childress and Dorell Wright(altho Riley may have killed Wright’s career).(Livingston was drafted by Clips as a PG,but he’d never played the point before becomming a Pro.)
    My point is I can think of 4 young players who have the ability to drive and have excellent passing skills and there are undoubtedly more out there. Why haven’t the Lakers tried to get one,esp as Lamar has proven injury-prone and Walton hasn’t shown the ability to get by defenders and has also proven somewhat fragile.
    As to Farmar and Crit-why did Phil have Harper start and Fisher and BJ Armstrong come off bench? In a more traditional offence I would expect Farmar’s better PG skills to get him the starting nod and Crit’s explosiveness have him become the 3rd combo -type gd. Assuming continued developement,and Phil sticking around, I believe he would rather have Crit’s defense and scoring ability starting and Farmar’s energy ramping up the tempo and his PG skills to settle the team down when a run occurs.Be a good question to ask Phil tho.

  60. Stephen, did you really just suggest getting Livingston because Odom was too fragil?

  61. 55.

    drrayeye,

    What about your song theory as applied to Shaq-Fu? The MDE requested a trade and was moved across the country.

    Trading Kobe may be difficult at the moment, but there’s a good chance he’s gone by the trade deadline and a nearly certain chance he’s gone before next season. Your song metaphor sounds cute, and I’m sure you are a great singer to boot, but the fact is Kobe is going to be trades no matter how much you like the Eagles.

    “Maybe Kobe should thank Jimmy for not trading Andrew”

    Um, why is that? Bynum may eventurally develop into a decent player, but that is going to take at least 2-3 more years, and a Shaq he will never be. Lakers have not improved in FOUR YEARS (including this season). Think about that. Kobe is wasting his prime surrounded by medicority and that is a disgrace.

    And did you honestly refer to Kwame at “amazingly quick.” Maybe compared to a gimp Chris Mihm, but that’s about it. Kwame does not have the heart or desire to be a successful player in the NBA. The only thing “amazing” about Kwame is his penchant for cake throwing and scoring for the other team.

  62. Great post from Matt at Blog-a-Bull on the Kobe rumors and the Bulls:

    http://www.blogabull.com/story/2007/11/2/0153/07648

  63. I think we all have to get off the habit of referring to our players as ‘garbage fodder’. Just because we haven’t made trades doesn’t mean trades haven’t been discussed. Perhaps what was offered wasn’t what we needed. Both sides have to win in a trade and that is one reason there are not that many trades made – especially with stars.

    We have a number of young, developing, low end salarywise players; along with middle-of-the-road players; one good player, and one superstar. That is not a bad makeup for any team. The parts don’t all fit the triangle the way Phil Jackson wants them to, but that is his job to adjust the offense/defense to fit his players. If he can’t do that then that says as much about him as about the players.

    I say we put more pressure on Phil to make changes so our players can be in the best situations to use their skills – not continually complain about what the players cannot do.

  64. Hi Bobby (61)

    You say,

    Trading Kobe may be difficult at the moment, but there’s a good chance he’s gone by the trade deadline and a nearly certain chance he’s gone before next season.

    I say,

    Maybe.

    Without all the complications of modern trading, the Lakers and Chicago might already have done a deal. If Kobe didn’t have a trade veto and” kicker,” he might already be in Atlanta!

    Then there is the Shaq precedent. I think that the Lakers now see this as something to avoid at nearly all costs.

    That’s what makes him a “prisoner of his own device.”

    When all of these factors clear, nobody may be left to trade with.

    If the Lakers do well this season, Kobe might end up being “sucked in” to reversing course and reviving his “Laker for life” mantra.

    If both the Lakers and Chicago are no better than average (clearly a possibility), the likelihood of a trade goes up–but not until next season.

    If Chicago does REALLY well and wins the NBA championship, Kobe may find himself alone on the dance floor.

  65. Kurt,
    Yeah I felt pretty stupid while typing in Livingston(esp as there was concern about him holding up before the draft and having left off Marquis Daniels because he can’t stay on the court),but I used him as an example that there are more athletic playmakers than we may think.