Rust? What Rust?

Kurt —  November 10, 2007

There were things during last night’s game that, if they continue, will be a big problem in Texas next week (*cough, turnovers, cough*) but last night was about what Lamar Odom brought to the table. He had 18 points on 70% shooting, had 10 rebounds and was a team best +22. He had a one game PER of 25.17, All-Star level. He also looked more comfortable at the three spot and did a good job of grabbing rebounds and pushing the pace with the dribble. Kwame a. also had a good observation:

Lamar is leaner, and quicker. It looked good, he was moving like he did in his Clipper days.

The timing of his return works well too because he now gets a few days off to rest before the Spurs on Tuesday. The Lakers are going to need another big game out of him that night.

UPDATE:
The latest from Roland Lazenby is up at Sportshub LA.

Kurt

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34 responses to Rust? What Rust?

  1. One other thing I liked about Lamar’s game last night…he took NO jump-shots. I’m not saying he can’t shoot, but if he puts his mind to it, he can get to the basket all night. He was cutting better than he ever has in the triangle. It really looks like the whole team understands the offense on a higher level this season. We are 2nd in the leauge in points, 3rd in fg%.

  2. here’s to hoping that his new role as the 3 will give him the springboard to become an official “All-Star” this year. 2 All-stars on the Lakers this year, with an up and coming All-star in Andrew, (I think he will be one one day), solid role players like Ronnie and Fish, the bench…
    I think we’re gonna see a team this year that will perform at a higher level than expected, surprising everyone, including #24, and with this improved team, #24 will realize this is his best chance to compete for a title.
    and next year we’ll have kwame’s $9 mil coming off the books, so far, he’s the one disspoaintment I’ve seen this year, still lacks hands and focus. (I think it’s his poor free throw shooting, has him scared to go to the line because it’s embarrassing, so he rushes up his shots). I thought with this being a contract year, we’d see more out of him, but I guess he’s content to take his millions and quit the game, cause that’s what lies ahead for him.
    sorry to get off topic, this one’s about Lamar!
    that was an unbelievable first game back!
    great to see him on the wing, slashing without fear, but rather in a true attack mode!

  3. 20 and 20 from your center position is also very encouraging. Bynum could have easily had 6 more points as he had some dunk attempts blocked in the first half.

  4. 2. If Brad Miller can hang his hat on having at one time been an All Star then Drew will definitely be an All Star at some point in the future.

  5. Was checking out the post game locker room interviews and an aspect of Odom playing the three is that he will do less banging in the paint and play a little more perimeter D, hopefully ensuring a smaller chance of injuring those tissue paper shoulders.

    More interestingly, both he and Luke independently made the same comment about the versatility that they have when Vlad, Luke, and LO were on the floor at the same time and their ability to switch everything on defense.

    LO also commented that it would be nice to be able to practice the new rotations in practice over the next few days.

    Lakers.com has really grown up.

  6. Adding to the note that the Lakers site has really improved. They have a pretty neat interactive roster now, with music that has to be off Vlade Divac’s favorite club hits to boot.

    http://www.nba.com/lakers/roster/index.html

    Funny, only two players aren’t holding a ball in their little snap shot. Radman probably shot it when they tossed it to him for the photo. Kwame, well, they probably didn’t bother trying to pass it to him, since he can’t catch it.

  7. So far this team has looked better this year, The offense is running smoothly (minus the 16.6 TO/G). They are 2nd in the league in ppg (that will likely change because PHX is only 8th) and 4th in point difference of +5. But everyone knew this team could play on the offensive end, it was the defense that needed work. But they look better in that department as well. It doesn’t show in the numbers (yet?, hopefully) but form what I’ve seen they are more active and minus a few mishaps and the NO game they have looked better there. They are allowing 102.6 ppg, not that great but they are turning the ball over alot, and playing at a faster pace. They are allowing opponents to shoot 44.5% from the field, which is not great but down from last year (46.1). This area still needs work, but the effort is there which is more than you could say last year.

    The stat that has impressed me the most so far is rebounding. The Lakers are 4th in the league at +5, much improved (so far, its only 5 games) from last years -1. This is with their best rebounder (odom) missing 4 of the five games.

  8. Odom is much better at the 3. Turiaf is a good starting 4, and more appropriate for this team. He’s turning into a very nice player. Didn’t play starter minutes though. Should we trade Kwame’s expiring for a solid backup 4? Is this the move to put us over the top? We don’t need Cook playing backup 4, please. Also the lineup with Farmar at the 1, Fish at the 2, Kobe at the 3, Turiaf at the 4, Bynum at the 5 is a nice lineup at periods during the game. Lot of good passers out there. I hope Jackson uses this lineup frequently during the season.

  9. 8. Radman is a solid backup 4, so I don’t think that trading for another one would do us much good. Honestly, I think we value Kwame a lot more than any other team values him so a trade would probably not make much sense. Worst case with Kwame is he comes off the books at the end of the year and we can use that money someplace else.

    Also, I like the Mihm/Kwame combo to share minutes with Andrew b/c both of them have injury questions and they are both solid backups at the Center position.

  10. 9- I agree with you Derek, Kwame is good insuarnce in case Mihm gets hurt, and in all honesty, is still our best defender at the C position. He would’ve helped agaisnt Chirs Paul and all those screen and rolls. Phil is gonna have some hard decisions about rotations. I think Turiaf, Vlad and Odom should split the minutes at the PF, Odom, Walton, Vlad split the minutes at the SF. The guard rotation I feel is fluid, there will be games when Mo is apprioriate and games when Sasha is apprpriate. I agree with those that said JC should get some D-Leauge minutes. This year it would be best for him to get some game action

  11. Derek,
    “Worst case with Kwame is he comes off the books at the end of the year and we can use that money someplace else. ”

    The Lakers are too far over the cap, so if Kwame’s contract is allowed to expire the team can’t use that money to sign someone else. One of the benefits of trading him this season.

  12. KWAME is valuable come the trade deadline. Teams that are no longer in the running for the play-offs sometimes will trade quality players in order to get cap relief next season.

  13. 10. I’ll take your word for it that the Lakers are over the cap. That being so, then it seems like we should value an expiring contract even more than most other teams because letting Kwame’s contract expire would get us closer to being under the cap, at which point we could begin looking at available free agents.

  14. exhelodrvr,
    Everyone continues to talk in terms of maintaining our current luxury tax level. The idea is to get under the luxury tax and then the teams over that tax get to pay you. This is strictly a money situation. For the Lakers Kwame has real value as an expiring contract and the very real possibility that we will sign him for less money this summer. It is not a given that we trade Kwame at the deadline.

    If this team develops the way it is starting to, then I am scratching my head trying to think exactly who would help us get better late in the year. Kwame actually would help us more in the playoffs than most people we could trade him for.

    Also, trading him for another $9m player just extends our luxury tax commitment and makes it less likely we will be able to resign Lamar when his contract comes up. I would be in favor of a slight decrease in his salary at his current performance level, but regardless we will still be paying him really big bucks at the same time that Bynum and Farmar are coming into their own and requiring more money.

    Please, people, think about all of this from a long range business perspective – as well as a fan/talent perspective – because the front office sure takes these things into account, I can assure you.

    Again, Kwame’s best value may to be help this team into and through the playoffs this year – not via trade.

  15. Craig W,
    “For the Lakers Kwame has real value as an expiring contract and the very real possibility that we will sign him for less money this summer. ”

    If you think that this team will develop enough without further additions from “outside”, then the best thing to do is to let his contract expire. That is certainly one valid approach to take.

    I was responding to the post that said that letting Kwame’s contract expire would give the team that amount of money to use on a free agent.

    If the approach is that the Lakers need additional pieces to contend, then Kwame in a mid-season trade is about the only way to do it. That is assuming that Lamar is not traded; I suppose a sign-and-trade of Mihm, with some other players included, would be a possibility.

  16. The only way to get some value for Kwame is if there’s a third team involved… that’s how I see it.

  17. Magic to Look for a Big Man?

    The Magic were granted an injury exception by the NBA on Friday as relief for the season-ending injury to power forward Tony Battie. If the club uses it to sign another player, it likely will be a big man, General Manager Otis Smith told the Sentinel before the Knicks-Magic game.

    “We’ll look and explore our options,” Smith said. “We still need a big, but it has to be the right big.” Big men available are Chris Weber and P.J. Brown, among others. Brown is said to be leaning toward retirement. The others are merely serviceable players. The Magic can use of half of Battie’s salary this season — about $2.6 million — to sign a free agent.

    Does somebody say Kwame?

  18. Ahhh Kwame.

    Whose hands are the worst, whose confidence is most shaky and whose IQ is borderline stupid. Yet, he is our most reliable on-ball defender and we seem to depend on him at times.

    Oh that Kwame.

    Craig, when I look at the Laker payroll, here is what I can come up with:

    1. Kobe is definitely worth 19M/year.
    2. Bynum is a keeper, considering we still have 1 more year where we could pay him 2.7M and give us 10-10.
    3. Farmar is a keeper. With a salary close to the minimum and with potential and production he is yielding, no deals for my boy Farmar.
    4. Fish, Walton and NOW Radmanovic are making their money’s worth. Mid-level-salaried players who are definitely IN THE ROTATION.
    5. Mo Evans and Sasha are fighting for more than minutes this year… its next year’s contract that is the motivation. They both expire end of the year…
    6. Brian Cook IS the only albatross on our necks. He has 3.5M per year for the next 3 years…
    7. Odom is borderline overpaid and All-Star. Verdict is on him this year…
    8. Chris Mihm is basically paid 5M this year. Because he has a team option of 2.5M for next year, the only way he takes that is if he has a really BAD year. That’s BAD for us too. I’d rather have him play really well this year and lose him next year rather than him play bad 2 years in a row.
    9. Ronny wins the value-for-money award. Making the minimum, he will be rewarded with at least midlevel money next year.
    10. Crittenton is in a typical rookie scale contract. You can hardly complain since it does not bother you long term or short term.
    12. Finally, Kwame Brown. Earns 9M this year and will probably be unemployed next year.

    With all these, I must say this – our core is more or less set. Fish-Kobe-Lamar-Ronny-Kwame / Farmar-Mo-Luke-Vlade-Drew.

    Looking at next year, these are my projections:
    1. If we let Kwame expire with us, chances are, we will use the money freed up to re-sign Ronny 4M, Mo Evans 3M, and perhaps Kwame for 4M.
    2. IDK what to do with Sasha, the best way would be to trade him to another team interested for a late 2nd rounder. I heard Dallas is interested but the rumor is unfounded.
    3. If Mihm plays well enough, he will think of opting out. But chances are, he will have an ok year (i hope) and stay a Laker anyway, or “steal” that 4M per contract from Kwame. If then, Kwame will be the one unemployed.
    4. If we trade Kwame for another bench player, we will be stuck with that backup’s contract for the duration. Unless the player coming in is all worth it, its best to keep his expiring to renew Ronny – who is starting for us anyway.

    So Craig, I’m with you on this one unless the player that Kwame was traded for is Ron Artest or Pau Gasol.

  19. nice article in the Times about Jerry West and Dr Buss, and the future of the franchise…

  20. the other Stephen November 11, 2007 at 1:21 am

    warren, why don’t you just drop everything and move to los angeles?

  21. Let me tell you about Kwamewatch 2007 so far.

    Quickness?

    Just call him “Twinkletoes Brown” –and he’s coming way out to stop the pick and roll in its tracks–almost like he’s playing for UCLA. Nash hasn’t forgotten his San Antonio adventure in the playoffs, and when he saw Twinkletoes bearing down on him, he began to worry more about assisting himself, than the Suns. All part of that blowout.

    Too bad we had to rely on the defense of “Bigfoot Bynum” instead of “Twinkletoes” to bring Paul back to reality when NO came to town.

    On ball defense?

    If possible, he’s stronger. In China, they probably call him “Great Wall.” And his fouls are rarely out of position, emotional, or out of control.

    Rebounding, deflections, and steals? He’s quicker. His hands may be small, but lightning fast–they can block passes or knock the ball away, inspiring turnovers that teammates get credit for.

    Offense? He can run the floor as quick as anyone–and finish with a dunk. He’s staying inside and keeping his percentages high.

    Effort? Strong and sustained. The heart he showed in the playoffs last year was no fluke.

    Foul shooting? He’s been ridiculed so much, he’s lost his confidence. His free throw shooting is far worse than it has ever been. He needs you to turn your ridicule into support.

    He’s waiting for the crowd to chant, “Kwaa-me! Kwaa-me! Kwaa-me!

    And you want to trade him for what tomorrow?

  22. other stephen… You’ll find me a place to stay? LOL.

  23. ExHeloDriver,
    Next yr is a very large,fairly talented FA class. If Kwame’s contract is gone,the Lakers could be low enough under LUX TAX to convince Buss to use the MLE again. W/so many teams in League close to Lux Tax,the number of good players who didn’t extend their rookie contracts,well,it’s shaping up for a good yr for bargain hunters.

  24. Are you Kwame’s agent, drrayeye?

    I do think he’ll be of some service this year, and yeah, it might be VERY wise to keep him for the playoffs. One of the best antidotes for Duncan/Yao out there.

    Either way Chris has impressed Phil enough it seems to keep the starting job.

    http://www.dailynews.com/sports/ci_7431241

    It’s a shame we won’t be able to keep this three-headed monster together after this season. Then again in a couple years Bynum probably won’t need much backup help.

  25. Some games Kwame will be valuable, others Mihm will be valuable. Andrew needs to get his minutes in a consistent manner. I’m watchin the Spurs tonight, they’re currently beating Milawakee, early 1st qtr. Apparantley, they have this guy, Tim Duncan, he’s good.

  26. Kwame, I think that Duncan guy won the last 4 out of 9 championships and he’s getting better by the year. Any chance we pair him with Kobe?

  27. 25. TIm Duncan? I think hes overrated. What does he do on the court, besides anything necessary for his team to win. The perfect example of what a star should be. Just goes out gets the job done. Doesn’t complain if some little French guy or scrappy Argentine wins the final MVP over him. He doesn’t mind sharing the spot light. I think and have for a while that he is the best player in the NBA right now next to Kobe (or perhaps just as good as Kobe).

  28. 26 — It would be stupid for Duncan to leave the franchise that’s always compiled a contender around him for the messed up Lakers. I think there’s more of a chance Kobe opts out for San Antonio…don’t be surprised if that’s his future.

  29. We have gotten a couple of reports on Marc Gasol from Europe. If he is improving this year then he becomes insurance against both Chris and Kwame leaving next year. I don’t think both will go, but if we do lose one then he could complete the 3headed monster next year.

    Just thinking about the future.

  30. But will he be ready for the NBA? the Euro league is not that tough. At best, he will be another unpolished (but experienced) backup for us.

    Going back to talking about our payroll next year…

    I’m sorry for the misleading post I did awhile back. My info was lacking the contracts of DFish and Luke Walton which totals to 9.1M. Add that to our standing 55M, that’s already 64.1M, 9 players, Mihm, Kwame, Ronny, Mo and Sasha for the re-ups.

    PG – Fisher / Farmar / Crittenton
    SG – Kobe /
    SF – Odom / Walton /
    PF – Radmanovic / Cook
    C – Bynum

    How do you fit in 8M for 6 more players? Assuming 1 of those roster spots will be filled by our 08 1st, at best, we should let Cook go this year, replace him with an expiring contract to free up some payroll JUST TO RE-UP our current guys like Mo and Ronny. Should MIhm exercise his player option, the payroll is brought up to 66.6M. Then there’d be 5.4M to spend for 5 players, or approx 4M for 4 players if we include next year’s rookie.

    I think this is one aspect of the job where Mitch is quite good in doing – keeping the payroll to a manageable level. Now let me tweak this team as if it were mine…

    1.Trade Brian Cook + 2M cash to a team that owns a trade exception large enough to absorb 3.5M in exchange for 2 future 2nds. (Golden State or Seattle perhaps?)

    2. If I achieve step #1, consider swapping our 08 1st to Portland for Rudy Fernandez ( a very good player ) whom we could choose to have remain in Europe or if we lose Sasha and Mo, sign him to a rookie scale contract. Very cost effective rather than sign 2 vets wanting a new contract. At best, we keep Mo, let Sasha go. But I think 3M will be Mo’s maximum.

    3. There won’t be much of an MLE to spend here. The cost of signing one player thru MLE doubles due to the tax. Unless we make it to the WCF this year and a big-named free agent is willing to sign the MLE with us, I rather not use next year’s MLE. We can sign Karl to another minimum contract too.

    4. Re-up Ronny. This should be the 1st agenda come July 1, 2008.

    5. Consider one or two of the 5second rounders we have: Sun Yue, Marc Gasol, our own 08 2nd, 08 2nd we got from step #1, and I think we still have one 08 2nd from Charlotte.

    Therefore, here is the lineup:
    Fisher / Farmar / Crittenton
    Kobe / Fernandez / Karl
    Odom / Walton / Yue
    Turiaf / Radmanovic / 08 2nd (via Brian Cook)
    Bynum / Mihm / Gasol

    I must say we do not have so many options but we do have some. Ronny will be the only priority for next year for our core and perhaps if Kwame agrees to something like 5M per for 2 years, something I do not foresee happening.

  31. Pardon the error once more, total payroll for next year with Luke and Fish included is at 60M.

  32. New reports on Marc Gasol.

    Marc had a solid game, 12 points 71% FG + 7 rebounds, 1 block and 2 steals. led the team in efficiency (21)
    but team lost to last year champion Real Madrid.

    Couldn’t see the game so I can’t tell you much more.

    For all of you considering Marc for the lakers next year, remember that he’s by no way a similar player to Pau.
    He’s much more bulked and slower, but a much more powerful player on the low post and defense, you’ll see him grabbing one-handed rebounds in regular bases.
    Pau is better at the offensive end and can shoot the ball.

    in a couple weeks i’ll see Adam Filipi, director of internetional scouting of the lakers, I’ll ask him what he thinks of marc

  33. Xavier,
    Thanks! I wasn’t thinking of Marc as another Pau, but as a backup center to be developed. What I think we will need on this team next year is bulk and defense, not scoring – if we loose Kwame, as a lot of people are predicting.

  34. Warren,
    It will be close to impossible to send Cook to a team that’s under cap for two reasons. Next yr IS a banner yr for FAs. Who is going to want to limit their options by taking on Cook? Second,there are a ton of players like Cook in League and you have to give draft picks for teams to take them. Phoenix had to give 2 Firsts to Seattle to unload Thomas. Cook makes almost as much salary(spread over 2 yrs,vs. 1 yr for Thomas),I don’t think you’d want to give up a First just to unload Cook.

    In all likelihood-assuming roster stays same thru yr-the Lakers will buy him out. Assuming his contract is fully guaranteed,they’ll prob try $5mil,saving a $1mil/yr,but the going rate seems to be @80%. Which would be $700tho and that is enough for a rookie FA,second rd(Gasol?) or a vet minimum-or almost enough for a combo of two.
    I think it’s safe to say Sasha is gone,the Lakers will not exercise their option. His money will prob be used for Ronny.(Perhaps a 3yr $2.5mil/$2.75/$3 type contract.)

    Let’s assume the Lux Tax is @ $70mil next yr. The Lakers also release Sasha and buyout Cook and w/that money resign Turaif and bring over Gasol. They will have 11 under contract for @ $64mil. The Lakers will need a PF and a SG back-up. Add a middling-low First Rd and there’s 12 at @ $65mil. This leaves @$5mil of the MLE available,perhaps $4mil for a PF and rest-or vet min-for a back-up SG.
    While $4mil doesn’t seem like much,look at what Walton and Mihm signed for. Scanning HoopsHype salary section,only 5 teams will have $9mil or more in cap room,9-10 will be hovering near the cap,a couple have flown past the Lux Tax and the rest are near the Lux Tax. If several players opt out that of course changes team’s financial position,but adds even more FA’s to the mix. There will be bargains.
    If the Lakers could sign a PF for $4mil,they could bring back Karl and a min vet(League covers most of salary)for a 15 man roster.Not any sexy signings,just solid role players.