Fast Break Thoughts

Kurt —  January 2, 2008

Hope everyone had a fun and safe New Year’s Eve, and now welcome to 2008.

• After some tough stretches, the Lakers should — should — be able to pad the record a little bit in the next few weeks with this schedule: Philly, Indianapolis, at Memphis, at New Orleans (that’s a tough one), Milwaukee, Memphis again, Seattle. That’s a 6-1, 5-2 at worst stretch for the kind of team the Lakers claim to be.

• Lamar Odom is suspended for Friday’s game against Philly, and deserves to be. Yes, the Celtics had their starters in at the end of a blowout, but it is not their job to keep stop scoring, it’s the Lakers job to play defense. Odom’s frustration foul against Ray Allen was a clean hit in the NFL, but not really allowed under NBA rules.

• For some Lakers fans Lamar Odom has become the new whipping boy, the guy holding this team back from reaching the next level. As I’ve said before, I’ve come to accept that Odom is who he is, I’m no longer willing to be tantalized by the potential of what could be. Odom will get you a double double most nights, have a few spectacular games and a few others where he disappears. So be it.

But, for those looking to replace him, know that there are not a lot of guys who put up the numbers Odom does. And, in the last two playoff series against Phoenix, Odom has been the Lakers best player (I guess Kobe could make a case, but Odom is at least a close second). You can be frustrated with Odom, but replacing his production would not be easy, there aren’t many guys in the league who put up those numbers and who are available (at a reasonable trade price).

• Boston’s defense is fantastic at taking away what you want to do — Bynum couldn’t get position on the block that he liked, Kobe couldn’t find space, etc. More veteran teams can adjust to that, take away one thing from the Spurs and they will attack somewhere else (you can’t take away everything). The Lakers have not had to do that enough yet to know how to do it.

Credit Boston. That is a team that is buying into the system, and the presence of KG behind them to clean up mistakes is making guys like Pierce and Allen decent defenders.

• If you haven’t yet watched the video of the Lakers putting on the short shorts (and talking about them), you really need to.

• Think getting to watch 144 NBA games a season in person as a scout would be fun? Maybe, if sleeping on airplanes, eating hotel food and never seeing your family is fine with you. Great post over at TrueHoop by Brian Windhorst today on the life of an NBA advanced scout.

• I’m enjoying watching Chicago try to sort out their roster. New coach benches Ben Gordon, starts Chris Duhon. Duhon promptly goes 4 for 20 from the floor. Noah still can’t get consistent time on the floor. Is it just me, or did a new version of Skiles become coach?

• Of course, I’d rather try to figure out what to do with Chicago’s roster than Miami’s right now.

• Knickerblogger has a great NBA dictionary up:

Intangibles (adj) – Statistics other than points per game; Tangible stats like rebounds, blocks, steals, etc.
“Ben Wallace is a phenomenal player because of his intangibles.” – Bill Walton

Kurt

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81 responses to Fast Break Thoughts

  1. “Intangibles” deserves to go up on a list somewhere of overused meaningless terms like “chemistry.”

    I’m not saying that there aren’t non-statistical benefits that a player like Wallace (or Turiaf) can bring, such as hustle, courage, etc., but then they should be called “hustle and courage,” not some twaddle like “intangibles” that tells you nothing about what they are.

    Same with “chemistry”: What it really boils down to is detailed experience and knowledge of how your teammates play, provided you don’t actually hate them. But it sounds more mysterious and personal if we call it “chemistry.”

  2. Knickerblogger said it well:

    Chemistry=winning percentage.

  3. Happy New Year Kurt!!!

    I really like your thoughts on Odom. He is not a *star*, but he is not trash either. I like him better at PF, and as you said, he will continue to put up his numbers. And as long as we have another big body (or 3) to throw at the elite bigs in the league (Duncan, KG, etc) then we will be fine on defense as well. Plus with Odom’s skill set, he can make an impact against other PF’s that can’t match his quickness and can’t decode the quirkiness of his southpaw style.

    As Kobe has been saying lately (in his best Brett Favre voice) we are a “solid” team. To take that next step, the bench can’t disapear against tougher defenses and/or we need to aquire one or two more battle hardened players. But I, and anyone else, can see that the Lakers are not that far away for truly competing. Which is lightyears beyond where we all thought we were just 10 weeks ago. Great times.

    As for Boston, they are focussed and on a mission. It is something special to see and I am enjoying it as a fan of this game. BTW, did anyone else catch that half smirk when KG went to the line and got booed? It was like he realized that he only got booed because the fans wanted him to play for the Lakers, and it made him smile a bit. That guy is just amazing.

  4. Throwback feature was good– the last time they wore
    the ’80′s tanks without the shorts they clashed for me
    so I liked seeing the whole outfit despite the outcome
    of the evening.

    Some of them ( like Bynum’s ) just need to be
    altered a bit for the “wide stance.”

    I agree with your perspective on Lamar–
    it’s better to set aside the ol’ “potential” tag
    and focus on what you can get which is neither
    too shabby nor too prevalent in the NBA,
    yet fans who often complain about player loyalty
    are making fantasy trades all the time.

    The Trevor Ariza trade had all the punters
    ready to launch another assault on the front ofc.,
    but TA has brought his own personal motivation
    along with the skill set.

    That’s a variable that nobody can determine,
    especially if you’re talking about players
    like James Posey or Ben Wallace
    ( or the Mavericks team on certain nights )
    so caveat monger, Laker fanz.

    - 5 -

  5. Odom’s foul was uncalled for, however in his defense if you watch the replay, Ray Allen body checked him while he was in the air on his previous shot, and wasn’t called for the foul. It looked like Allen checked him hard, and if Odom hadn’t keep his balance better he might have ended up landing on his surgically repaired shoulder. Not too funny if your Lamar Odom. He wanted Allen to know what it felt like. I think it’s good for him to show some emotion.

  6. Just occurred to me…the Boston loss was a really tough one to take, and I’ve been upset since…but today I remembered where I was right before Christmas, looking at Phoenix, Utah and Boston ahead, and thinking to myself, “Man, if we could win 2 of 3, that would really be something…3-0 isn’t really possible, but getting 2 of them would make a big statement that we’re not a fluke”

    And we did, with one major blowout win. So it still sucks, but it’s stinging a lot less now.

  7. The guy formerly known as Lamar Odom January 2, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    the lakers should bring in Scottie Pippen as a defensive coach.

  8. I have been talking about Lamar’s inability to perform for a while now. I mentioned it in my first article of how to upgrade the Lakers early in the summer when drama was still unfolding with the uncertainty of where Kobe would end up playing the season. It’s great to see that not much has changed with Lamar for 4 years now. Truly everyone, open your eyes, its time to realize that his shot selection has not improved, his play making has not become smarter, and every time he holds the ball the entire crowd screams “nooooooooo”… I witnessed this first hand several times!!! Its time to bring in two half decent role players for the price of one Lamar. Thank you!!!

  9. 3,4. Nobody should doubt Odom is still a fine player. And as Kurt pointed out, he’s been there in the past for us. Problem is, the team around him done changed, and it’s not a coincidence he’s having his poorest offensive year to date. The problem: Ariza and Bynum. I think most people agree here that Ariza should be in the starting lineup for his D and athleticism. Problem is jump shot’s kinda ugly. So when the D collapses on Kobe or Bynum now, who’s going to hit the outside shot besides Fish? Lamar is shooting 26% (!) from 3 land this year, Ariza is 15% on his career (!!). One can position himself to attack the basket, but both? Especially if it’s on a kickout when Kobe or Fish are already in the lane that can’t work. Same reason Larry Hughes is such a worthless sidekick to Lebron.
    But trades seem unlikely to me. The ideal would be to find a 4 who can hit the J but still stay with the other 4′s (Duncan, Boozer, etc.) in the west on D. Good Luck with that. On the bench we have Vlad who meets the first criteria, and Ronny meets the second. Vlad at the 4… never mind. Ronny could be interesting, but I don’t think his body will hold up under big minutes. So let’s hope Lamar keeps grabbing boards and gets a little more comfortable in the O (only 2.5 ast this year, bout half his career avg.) and maybe has the occasional night when his jumper feels a little better.

  10. Athletic (adj) – Unskilled. Usually in intangible areas, like rebounding, blocking shots, etc.
    “Our team could use an athletic player like Kwame Brown or Tim Thomas.” – No one. Ever.

  11. Man, we HAVE to do well these next two weeks. Here’s our schedule from 1/17 tp 2/20:

    PHX, DEN, SAS, DAL, CLE, NYK, then go on a 9 game road trip against a bunch of eastern playoff teams, then the all star break, then a single home game against ATL, then PHX on the road.

    That’s as rough a month as you’re likely to see. If we go .500 through that stretch, we should be happy. As it is, we’re 2.5 games behind PHX and SAS for the top record in the western conference. That’s pretty impressive, even with the caveats about those top teams “struggling.” But given the hits we know we’re going to take later, we need to puff our record up as much as we can right now.

    I give PHX the edge over SAS to get the top seed this year. Aside from the injuries, San Antonio has played an extremely home friendly sched while the Suns haven’t played in their arena that much. The Spurs have their own 9 game road trip when we have ours, then play most of their games away in March and April. If they’re healthy I that doesn’t matter, but they haven’t been healthy, so PHX has a good opportunity to “struggle” their way to the best record in the West. If that does happen, it’s not a bad thing for us, assuming we escape the 8 seed.

    I foresee us competing with NOH, UTA, DEN and maybe POR for those middle seeds. How we fare in the next month and a half could deside that.

  12. The Dude Abides January 2, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    I commented on this before, but I’m pretty sure the reason Lamar took out Allen was that the brutal block by KG was the last straw. When KG made that block, he screamed “get that sh*t out of here” at the top of his lungs. Lamar had already had a terrible game, blowing five or six layups, and he’s so passive-aggressive that he took out Ray-Ray instead of getting in KG’s face for that taunt. Definitely bush-league on Lamar’s part, but if Doc continutes to leave in the Big Three up 20 with three minutes left and they continue to talk trash, there will be other teams that react in the same way that Lamar acted.

  13. Kurt & others,
    I am not lobbying for a Lamar Odom trade. What I want is for us AND the coaching staff to stop treating him like a guy above all other players except Kobe. He is a valuable member of the team – as are Bynum, Fisher, Trevor, Farmar, Kwame. However, he is not more valuable than those other players, just with a different skill set.

    There are games where Lamar may be better suited to coming off the bench, but the one thing I don’t want to do is talk about “having either Kobe or Larmar on the floor at all times”. I think that is a pipe dream and puts more pressure and expectations on Lamar than I think he is capable of handling.

  14. 7 – Would Scottie Pippen improve the intangibles more than he would hurt the chemistry?

    Using Knickerblogger’s dictionary, is that even possible???

  15. Since chemestry was brought up: I admit I’m a Bill Simmons fan and the Sports Guy has a new column on “chemacterility,” which I thought was good. Here are my questions based on the column: what does everyone think of the Laker’s character? Chemestry? Cap flexibility?

    Working backwards, my thoughts are as long as we have Kobe and Lamar and resign Bynum, I don’t see us having any flexibility any time soon.

    With chemestry and character, it seems off and on and seems to be based on how Kobe is playing that night. Is he trusting his teammates or is he trying to do it all gunning? And if team chemestry ends up being based on how a single player is playing that night for an entire team, then I can’t feel we have good team chemestry.
    But this is probably me knee-jerking after the Boston game.

  16. Regarding the Odom foul…

    All out of frustration… But that only shows that Lamar is a “good” guy. He didn’t try to hurt Allen, he just hit him… and considering all he said about Kobe and the Lakers when he was in Seattle, I think he just had it coming. A player with an evil streak would have waited for KG on the other side and hit him hard… And that would have been ok.

    This is one of the main problems in the NBA… everyone talks too much, things like this are bound to happen.

    Anyway, in a 82 game regular season, making some hard fouls is necessary to get some respect, at least physical. Point is: You may beat us, but your body will know you played the Lakers.

    Regarding the Celtics, I stand by my words at the beginning of the season. They’re playing at full throttle all the time, with the starting lineup playing long minutes. When they get into the playoffs, they’ll have to get past either Orlando or Detroit in a seven game series. Their bodies will be tired and each playoff series will be longer than the one before.

    The Celtics will lose the Finals (against the Lakers when I’m having wet dreams, but still…) against whoever comes out of the West.

  17. About Lamar’s role in the current Lakers…

    I’m also tired of waiting on him, so let’s just assume this is what he is, like Kurt says.

    He is either the worst good player or the best bad player in the league, so I think we should consider him above average.

    So we have solid PG play, a superstar at SG, enough depth at SF and a young uprising C with a solid defensive player on the bench. Our bench at PF has a hustle player with love for the game. So, nothing wrong on having an above average PF (of course you can always improve, but we’re OK).

    The problem with Odom? He has a cap-killer contract! If he had Kwame’s salary, then we would be fine with it…

  18. Let’s also stop discussing Lamar’s contract. It has two years to run and we will not sign him back at close to what he is making now (unless he drastically upgrades his game consistency). This is a dead issue and means that we won’t have any cap room this summer (Kawame is in the same boat, but this summer, not next). I know, the only way out of this situation is to trade someone. I don’t favor this unless another organization wants to get out from under a contract – say Gasol for Kwame + – and I don’t expect this to happen until this summer. We are what we said we are – now let’s just live with it.

    We may not be championship material this year, but we will be at the door next year. Let’s hope for the best this year and not screw things up for next year.

  19. James Hastings,

    I disagree with you. . Phoenix has had a relatively easy schedule compared to the Lakers, and think they will take more hits as the season progresses. They will not battle the Spurs for top seed. If the Lakers can come out of that 15 game stretch with 10-12 wins, I believe they will win the division, and it will be this stretch that will decide exactly who they are. They have had a tendency to lose to too many east coast teams and follow up a loss to a team they should beat, with another loss. they seem to have corrected that since the 3 consecutive losses in Mil, Bos, then NJ, but going .500 will not show progress. This is the spot where they have to win games with mental toughness. So no, I would not be happy with .500.

  20. Kurt has pointed out that the Lakers have a nice scheduling stretch. I think this is the big diff between this Lakers team and the past few seasons. This version looks like it beats the teams it should-a distinct improvement.

  21. I’m all for not undervaluing Lamar, but Lamar was not even close to pushing Kobe for best in show in the last two playoff series. In 05-06, Kobe’s PER/OPER was 21/11.3, a net positive of 9.7. Lamar’s was 18.2/19.8, a net negative of 1.6. In 06-07, Kobe was at 25/9.1, a net positive of 15.9, while Lamar was at 21.5/17.7, a net positive of 3.8. In +/-, FYI, he was a net negative both years. I put little stock in that in short series, but there you go.

    Your larger point, I think, is a that Lamar’s been an above average player for a long time, and he contributes to the team. That’s right, but over the past 3 years, his PER has declined from 19.2 to 18.2 to 17.5, while this year he’s at 15.5. His defense has been below average two out of the three years, and is again this year.

    He wouldn’t be easy to replace, but he’s certainly replaceable. There are 50 players better than him in the league without question, likely more, especially given his injury bug. Whether Lamar could net such a player in trade who fits the team and has the right salary is another question.

  22. 21. The problem with putting too much into OPER in that short series is Odom had to guard Marion and Kobe had Bell much of the time. Odom had the much more difficult matchup.

    But the point that Kobe was still the best player is valid. Odom, however, can take Marion on the block any time he wants. But with Odom it’s always a question of want.

  23. If a player is not near the ‘best at his position’ we seem to want to trade him. That is not fair to the concept of team. Odom fits this team – if only we could get him to take fewer 3s. At his salary we are not going to get a quality replacement until next year when he is in the final year of his contract. Add to this the fact that we will probably be able to sign him for much less next year (or get a big salary windfall) and you see why I feel we should work around Lamar, not trade him. If Mitch is able to do something great, then all bets are off, but I wouldn’t count on any miracles.

  24. Have a little faith Craig, the Ariza trade was a little miracle in itself.

    I think Lamar Odom has a positive trade value around the league. He may not “earn” his 13m but he sure does intrigue a lot of teams esp in how he can play the uptempo. He is essentially a one-man fastbreak as they say.

    As the cap-conscious friend of mine suggests, we need to work our way around Lamar and not trade him. I say we trade him for a better version of the 4.

    In the pipest of pipes, I think Udonis Haslem would be the perfect 3/4 for this team. He has a midrange jumper and he has the tenacity to rebound and contribute. I think he would be great here w/ Kobe, Drew AND Lamar.
    [edited]

  25. In another note, it would be nice to discuss how the Lakers would fare in the “easiest” week of their 07/08 season.

    vs PHI would be quite a wash, vs IND would be relatively easy too. @MEM would be something we can take care of but @NOH the night after would be the toughest in this 4-game stretch. [3-1]

    I expect the Lakers to gain momentum in the following games as they should easily win vs MEM, vs MIL and @SEA. [3-0]

    On the 21st vs DEN, 23rd @SAS and 25th @DAL is where the mettle of this team is tested. Of course the confidence gained in going possibly 6-1 or 7-0 in the previous 7 games would help a lot and they should be well-rested too. 2-1 would still be realistic but 1-2 would not hurt as much. That game @SAS would be another statement game and that follow-up @DAL would be interesting.

    Assuming they go 7-3 in the January Sked so far, they can further boost their bid by winning both home games vs CLE (payback time) and vs NYK (bitch-slap).

    January should be a relatively good month for us. 9-3 in the 1st 12 games and I count that Jan 31st game @Det as part of Feb 8)

  26. David Thorpe of ESPN was asked a question about the Lamar Odom incident in his chat: milkncookie: what do you think lamar odom was thinking there..? maybe he tripped? that looked ridiculous, he basically tackled him.

    SportsNation David Thorpe: I don’t know. But I do know players hate the way the C’s talk trash. Expect more of this kind of stuff.

  27. “Intangibles” means that the announcer likes the player, but can’t find a good reason why.

  28. With a player like Ariza, I always wonder why the other team let him go.

  29. 22) Kurt,
    “The problem with putting too much into OPER in that short series is Odom had to guard Marion and Kobe had Bell much of the time Odom had the much more difficult matchup.”

    But the reverse was true on offense. Bell is one of the best defensive SGs, while Marion has difficulties matching up with Odom because of the size differential.

  30. wondahop,
    “Phoenix has had a relatively easy schedule compared to the Lakers, and think they will take more hits as the season progresses”

    Phoenix has played the most road games in the league to this point.

  31. Mihm is out for three to four weeks
    =====================
    was his signing a mistake?
    Coach Phil Jackson said Ronny Turiaf would likely start at power forward in Odom’s place Friday and said Odom’s suspension didn’t particularly shock him.

  32. 31. Not at the price and length of the contract they got him for, $2.2 mil this year with Mihm having a $2.5 mil option for next year. That is nothing for a 7 footer.

    28. Ariza was getting very little playing time in Orlando, he really didn’t fit their system. With Howard in the middle, they don’t need a three that is a slasher, rather one who can hit the outside shot and spread the floor, something Ariza cannot do (and Cook can, although Cook is barely playing last I checked because SVG is a defense-first coach). A lot of people around the league thought Orlando was making a mistake not playing him, but Ariza’s game didn’t mesh well.

    On a separate note, I’ve deleted a few comments with random trade proposals in the last 24 hours. Read the commenting tips, we don’t do that here.

  33. re: 22. I agree that OPER can be misleading in a short series. A comparison of regular season vs. playoff numbers for Marion and Bell can correct somewhat for this, though obviously not completely (especially since 82 games doesn’t give PER/OPER for specific series, just total playoff numbers).

    In 06/07, Marion’s playoff numbers were 19.2/11.4, +7.7. In the regular season, he was at 22.5./16.1, +6.4. Moreover, his numbers were much better against the Lakers than the Spurs in the playoffs last year, so it seems reasonable to assume his 19.2 PER is probably something like 21 vs. the Lakers and 17 vs. the Spurs.

    Bell was at 8.6/17.2 in the playoffs, a net negative of 8.6, versus 13/15.5 in the regular season, a net negative of 2.5. And unlike Marion, his numbers were better against the Spurs than against the Lakers.

    Lamar’s case is better in 05/06, when Marion was slightly worse in the playoffs than in the regular season (22.1/16.4 versus 25.1/16.5), and he was clearly better against both the Mavs and especially the Clippers than against the Lakers. Bell’s decline was also less significant this year. Nonetheless, Lamar still had a net negative PER/OPER that year, and wasn’t better offensively in the playoffs than the regular season (18.2 PER in both).

    PER is not the be-all, end-all, I know, and wiser minds than mine might be able to make a persuasive case, but as far as I can tell, the argument that Lamar lived up to his potential against Phoenix in the last two playoffs is somewhat illusory. He was what he’s been for his entire career–a solid starter who helps his team win. That’s not nothing to sneeze at–how many teams have 5 of those?–but we needn’t overestimate it either.

  34. Top to bottom, the Lakers suddenly possess the most balanced team in the NBA. Against most teams, the Lakers can go 10 deep and wear opponents down, fielding a team in the final minutes capable of holding a victory or stealing a win.

    The Celtics showed convincingly that Laker balance can be deconstructued, and Laker depth can be a weakness. They decided to risk their defensive strategy against the play of Lamar Odom. If Lamar could successfully go to the basket for layups, hit the outside jumper, and find Andrew for some dunks, it would open up opportunities for everyone else and the Celtics defense would collapse. Although he tried, Lamar was not able to deliver, and, this time, his teammates did not deflect the challenge.

    I believe that it was Lamar’s failure to deliver that ultimately led to the infamous “takedown” incident late in the game. No one is more aware than Lamar when he doesn’t respond to these challenges. No one is more aware than Laker fans how he resists the changes he needs tio make in his game to deliver. Lamar is his own worst enemy.

  35. I love Lamar and I want to see him a Laker. I just don’t think he should start in some types of matchups (Boston being a good example). Having a defensive 3, but not a defensive 4 when we are playing KG doesn’t seem like a good trade off. I know Paul Pierce killed us, but it came about because KG was able to control the middle, not because Paul overcame all the Laker efforts. The PF spot is the weak point on this year’s team.

  36. Kurt,
    “With Howard in the middle, they don’t need a three that is a slasher, rather one who can hit the outside shot and spread the floor, something Ariza cannot do”

    And the Lakers, with Bynum in the middle (who at this point doesn’t have any range on his offensive game), and Lamar (whose is a mediocre outside shooter, and is best on offense when he drives) don’t fit that same pattern?

    I think Ariza is definitely an upgrade defensively, but experience has taught me that when one team lets another player go, it is wise to be skeptical of the potential of that player.

  37. Drray,
    “Against most teams, the Lakers can go 10 deep”

    It appears that the early play of the bench was not indicative of their actual strength. Walton is hurt, and wasn’t playing well before the injury, Turiaf is not playing well right now (either still hurt, or in a slump), Kwame is OK in some situations, but a huge hole offensively, Sasha and Vlad are not playing well, Farmar is a decent backup PG, but not great in that role at this point. Mihm is injured. Crittendon and Karl are just potential at this point.

  38. 36. There is a lot more motion in the Lakers offense (well, ideally). Ariza moves well without the ball. The Orlando offense is more isolation — get the ball inside, wait for the double and pass out some. That said, Orlando still runs at a fast pace, something Ariza does do well, and I would have thought he could have been used more that way. A lot of the Orlando writers (blog and paper) seemed sad to see Ariza traded because they liked his game, he just wasn’t fitting in a role with that team.

  39. Okay Carter (and others): UCLA at Stanford tonight. Love v. Brook. Who do you like?

  40. Ok..Let’s see if I make any sense here..Basically the problem with Lamar has been he’s a Jack-of-all-trades,who’s just not good enough at any aspect to make guys fear him..Let’s be honest here,as brave as Lamar has been,has anyone ever really believed in his 3 yr Laker stint that Lamar would just about win u games by manhandling his guy offensively(btw offensively jus doesn’t mean scoring,but carving up by passing or jus controlling the flow on offense)???….But with a structured system like the Triangle u need guys with clear-cut roles and USP’s..like in the Chicago days B.J ,Kerr and Paxson were strictly spot up..Wat put the Triangle over the top was Scottie doing everything at an INCREDIBLY high level for 7 years (including MJ’s baseball year) including playing otherworldly defense..Even the Shaq era wouldn’t have succeeded if Shaq hadn’t been such a gifted passer and while he was never a DPOY candidate,Shaq was extremely intimidating in the lane…So basically u need a guy who is just stellar at passing/shooting/defense (besides your requisite Kobe/MJ-type) to get the Triangle into Championship mode..And i’m sorry Lamar just isn’t good enough at all 3..In fact as stated above he’s not good enough even in one of the above facets to definitively label him as a “such-and-such” player..While Bynum’s rise is intriguing (to say the least),he’s not yet the cornerstone of a Championship team..Sorry for the Charley Rosen assessment ,guys,but if the aim is a championship we’re not even close to the Western Conf finals yet..I’m so sorry for the rant (and i’m sure i’m over-simplified my ramblings to the point of stupidity),Kurt,but the essential fact reamins that Lamar is good but doesn’t have the specialized skillset that the Triangle craves…

  41. Also, re: Ariza. I don’t question Orlando moving him near as much as I do New York moving him in the first place. We’re just another team to benefit from Isiah being a bad trader.

  42. 40) Anand,
    I agree – I do think that Lamar’s skill set (assuming that it stays as is, and he never makes it to the “next level” as was originally anticipated) would be very good to have, IF there is a viable #2 option. I would say that there is a very slim chance that Bynum could improve to that point by the end of the season. If that is combined with improvement in Ariza’s play (as he learns the system, and the other players learn his game), reasonable health from the rest of the team, either Sasha or Vlad becoming dependable to provide the long-range threat, either Walton or Turiaf playing to the higher level they have shown in the past, and Fisher continuing to shoot at the rate he has for this season (and doesn’t drop back to his historical level), then the Lakers could be in position to “make a run” this year. I think it is unlikely that those will happen this year, next year is more likely.

  43. Just read a great comment on Isaiah Thomas by Chad Ford in the ESPN chat.

    There’s a psychological phenomenon called cognitive dissonance. Basically, it means that our minds want to align dissonant information with our own self perception. If you have a view of yourself as a basketball genius, but all of your moves have been a disaster, you find a way to justify each move in a way that allows you to maintain the self-image that you’re a basketball genius. The irony of the phenomenon is that while everyone else can see that Isiah’s been bad for the Knicks, he sees the opposite. All of us experience this problem … it’s just more pronounced with public figures like athletes or politicians who are constantly justifying themselves to the press. There’s a great book on this called “Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me)” you should check out. Essential reading for Knicks fans.

  44. Isiah Talking Titles In New York
    ===================
    Isiah Thomas is still talking about winning championships — with many of the same players that currently comprise one of the worst teams in the NBA.

    And the same coach.

    “I know people will laugh even more at me, but I’m hell bent on getting this accomplished and making sure that we get it done,” Thomas said Wednesday night the New York Knicks ‘ 107-97 loss to the Sacramento Kings . “And I’m not leaving until we get it done.”

    The Knicks fell to 8-22, last in the Atlantic Division and ahead of only Miami in the Eastern Conference.

    :-) “And I’m not leaving until we get it done.” it is done already :-)

  45. Kurt,
    Are there any regulations about players signing short-term (i.e. 1 year) free agent contracts and then re-signing with the same team after that year for a significant increase? I know that there can’t be any discussion between the team and the player beforehand, but is there anything to keep the player from doing it on his own?

  46. 10 random questions for you Laker experts out there:

    1. Is Kobe is still bothered by his wrist injury or does he wear that arm sleeve to express his individuality?

    2. Is Kobe still bothered by his groin injury or has he just decieded that he doesn’t like to take it to the rack anymore?

    3. Does Lamar Odom have a high school diploma–sometimes I wonder how even that would be possible?

    4. Two parter: (a) Could Luke Walton have play ANY worse against the Celtics? (b) Why the hell did Luke play so much against the Celtics?

    5. Has Kwame gained MORE weight?

    6. Despite being one of the smallest players on our team, does D-Fish have the largest azz?

    7. Who actually decided on the short-shorts debacle that made us look like clowns and not take the most important game of the early season seriously?

    8. On which planet is Vlad Rad currently residing, cause it sure ain’t earth?

    9. Can someone please explain Sasha’s propensity for shooting airballs?

    10. Does J. Critt realize that his garbage time matters for his evaluation and it isn’t time to make as many highlight-reel passes that lead to turnovers as possible?

  47. 45. yes there is a regulation.

    you have to wait 3 years to use the Bird Rights on a free agent you signed (not if traded for).

    this rule comes from when Phoenix signed Danny Manning to a one-year deal at small salary and the next summer used the Bird Exception to sign him a major contract.

    then the situation would be that the player you want to re.sign (and you can’t use neither the Bird Rights or the Early Bird Rights) can be signed to a max of 120% of its previous salary. If the player stays for 2 season they can use the Early Bird Rights that allows to sign to a max of 175% of its previous salary

  48. I think the conversation is underestimating Lamar. Is he a top five PF, no. Is he a top 10, possibly. Beyond a half dozen or so PFs, I don’t think I would consider trading him for someone else (at the same spot). Lamar started with a tough Nov but has improved markedly in December with the team playing much better as well (a coincidence?). For Dec he is averaging 15 and 10 and shooting 49%. Not much to complain about. To Kurt’s point, how many players are going to give you 15 and 10? Half dozen? But, are those same players going to give you a half dozen assists (although his assists are way down this year), are they able to play multiple positions, are the able to bring the ball up and run the offense, and are the able to lead a fastbreak? Again, the latter intangibles I mentioned make him more valuable than just a 15 and 10 player (which there are not many).

    On a separate note, with Luke’s very poor play and the arrival of Ariza- does that make Luke expendable. What a good scenario. Just a few months back I would have said that Luke is part of core group of players (3 or 4) that need to play well consisently for the Lakers to succeed. I don’t think that is the case anymore.

  49. The guy formerly known as Lamar Odom January 3, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    maybe the best option for the knicks is to move and leave Isaiah behind. if he’s not leaving well then maybe the team has to leave him.

    enough with the Odom talk. you’re making me want to change my name to “the guy who once was the guy formerly known as Lamar Odom”

    If it hadn’t been for the terrible loss against the Celtics the odom talk wouldn’t be so great. It was a terrible loss. Let’s just accept it. Let’s not freak out. We have a good team. They’re fun to watch. maybe we’re not at the level of Boston, but who is? Maybe we still another trade, and it might come. You never know. But it seems like people are freaking out just because of this loss. It wasn’t so bad. We could’ve had the game if the refs hadn’t frustrated the heck out of the Lakers. It was frustrating just to watch, imagine if you had actually played in the game. When Kobe got his 4th foul I was terribly frustrated. Odom tackling Allen was the least any Laker could do. I was ready to punch out the television myself! I really wanted someone to just let it out, and Finally it came. It was bound to happen, folks. We’ll get them next year. We’re not at that level yet. maybe we can conquer the West (unlikely, but there’s a chance), but we’re not able to compete against the Pistons or the Celtics yet. Maybe next year.

  50. The CBA has had quite a few years to tighten up most of the loopholes that clearly favor a team. The NBA wants players to stay with their teams, as much as possible, and the rules favor this situation. Players can opt out to freedom, but they either must be early in their career or be willing to sign for less. If they are journeymen, then it is much easier.

    I think we should stop trying to jigger the system – most GMs are PhD’s to our undergraduate status – to get another superstar in here. For all teams near the salary cap (~$58m) the only way to get any high priced talent is via the trade route.

    Our major trade bait this year is Kwame and trading him may very well end any long run into the playoffs this year (we need a 2nd center). Next year we have Lamar, but, since Kobe can also opt out, we should probably be careful.

    Net, net, net I feel we should ride this team out and hope that Mitch finds another upgrade trade this year.

  51. 47) Thanks, Xavier.

    I’m thinking that Boston is going to be the most attractive team this summer for free agents who are willing to take the MLE/part of the MLE to play for a contender.

  52. 48) Dom,
    “does that make Luke expendable”

    Unfortunately, the Lakers are stuck with Walton and Vlad long term, so it really doesn’t matter if they are expendable or not.

  53. You all make valid points as to why Lamar is valuable to the team. However, one thing not considered is his salary. On ESPN chats, David Thorpe, John Hollinger, and even Mark Stein constantly explain what makes a GM good. The criteria are knowing how to make good draft picks, sign high end players, make good trades, and manage cap space for years to come. Unfortunately, the common fan forgets to take into account how much players are making besides only their contribution to the team. Lamar is the second highest paid player on the team making 13 million this season and 14 million next season.

    I think that if the Lakers have a chance to free up some cap space while acquiring a half decent shooter they would be much better off. [edited]

    Friday’s game against Phila without Lamar Odom’s presence will hopefully prove my point that he is not that big of a factor on this team and we can succeed just as well without his inflated salary.

  54. 52. I don’t think Luke is expendable.

    Its just that Luke is experimenting what happened to Fisher when the Payton-Malone year.
    Fisher biggest aportation since then was the 3′s, when all defenses were doubling shaq and kobe fish got the open look and while understanding the triangle very good and being able to put the 3′s inside he was more valuable asset for the lakers than for any other team.
    But when he had to come off the bench he didn’t had that open looks that had on the starting 5.

    Luke, because of his game understanding, his basketball IQ, passing abilities and 3point range has more value for the lakers than for any other team, and it’s a guy I don’t mind to be stuck with.
    He has demonstrated he can contribute to this team and the staff will be able to take last-year-luke out again.

  55. BTW, for the next games apart from the one against the Hornets we should be aware of the Grizzlies. Not that I fear the team or that I think they are good, but the last matchups against them have been hard for the lakers always having problems with them

  56. - It’s not that we lost to the Celts; I think most people were prepared for that possibility. It’s that we imploded against them. It was like the 04-05 Lakers were out there.

    - All this talk about misleading stats and nobody has mentioned that field goal % can be misleading and Lamar is a great example. Sure, he may shoot 50%, but I want someone to break down how many jumpers he makes. Seriously, I bet his % in the paint and within about 6 ft. is maybe 60-75% – and those are a majority of his shots. But if he’s shooting anywhere outside that area I would hazard to guess that his % drops closer to 20%. You may disagree with my estimates but you have to see my point – the guy cannot shoot.

    - On yet another positive slant, would anyone have singled out our “#2 option” as the weak link 6 mo.s ago? I don’t even mean he’s playing poorly. I’m actually trying to point out that we have become solid enough at our other positions that we’re looking at Lamar as garbage. Lamar’s game hasn’t changed – the Lakers’ has. Lamar is our most upgradeable player because everyone else has proven reasonably solid. PG – Solid. C- Reasonable. SG – C’mon. SF – I’m satisfied. PF – Sorry, Lame-er (that’s what my group calls him, sorry), but you could stand to step it up and either slash more, shoot less, or develop a friggin shot.

  57. 53. One of the policies of this site is not to discuss theoretical trade ideas, I edit them out of comments. This is nothing personal, it’s just that these theoretical discussions can (and have) taken over this blog and other Lakers sites, and I want to keep the discussion focused on reality.

    Regarding Odom’s salary, remember he was needed to make the Shaq trade pencil out, this was not a contract Mitch signed but rather was forced to take on. He is tough to move because of that deal.

  58. Kurt,
    You may not like this, and if you decide to delete it or edit it, that’s fine, I understand. But here we go anyway.

    I have been all over the board on LO during his time here. From staunch supporter, to trade him for a better fit, and now to basically agreeing with Kurt. Odom is who he is, which is a pretty damn good player, who has his strengths and limitations, but still produces. And we have all seen an upswing in his production recently since he moved back to PF. But he is obviously the new whipping boy for most people…he has already been called the weak link and the reason why we can’t truly compete for the title.

    Well then, to everyone out there (here comes the part that Kurt may not like) who would you rather have playing power forward for THIS team, that is even remotely obtainable? Can we even come up with 5 guys? [editor's note: I'm fine with a discussion of who is better and available, what I don't want is pipe dream trade talk. We're talking guys that we know are available. And, for those of you smoking the Haslem could be had pipe, that strikes me as very far fetched — you really think Riley looks at his roster and would move Haslem? — so tread lightly.]

  59. 56. according to 82games.com, Odom is shooting 38% on jumpers this year, 65.5% on shots close to the basket. Last year that was 39.6% and 64.7%. Two years ago it was 41.6% and 62.9%.

    This season, 52% of Odom’s shots are jumpers, last year it was 55%, two years ago it was 49%.

  60. 52. I agree Luke’s contract makes him less expendable. But my second point on Luke, I think him become less integral to the team as a testament to how far the Lakers have come in a couple of months.

  61. Luke Walton will probably not be traded unless we get back another overpaid misfit. If he can get net us a serviceable powerforward, I would jump on that deal.

  62. Sorry for the double post but wanted to address 58.

    I would agree with your post. I think Laker fans are not fully appreciative of Lamar. Other than 15 and 10 or better he brings other intangibles (i.e. ball handling, versatility and quickness) that few other 15 and 10 players can provide. I think if Laker fans really address your question honestly they would find few options if any that can replace Lamar in a reasonable manner. Putting the shoe on the other foot, i am sure there are 20 to 25 other teams that would love to have Lamar as their PF.

  63. Patience Lakers fans. Patience.

    Lakers fans seem to feel entitled to a championship every year. Just relax and enjoy the fact we have a very nice, exciting young team. The only fans in the league who could be more excited about their prospects are the fans of the Blazers.

    We have a likable, competitive, fun-to-watch team. I personally had a blast watching the Nick Van Exel/Eddie Jones teams of the 1990′s (remember when we had Jerome Kersey?!?!). This current Lakers squad is probably my favorite Lakers team since the 80′s teams.

    Enjoy the ride.

  64. All the Lamar talk will be much more clear tomorrow after we see how the team performs with him sitting at home due to an idiotic foul. No veteran should ever make the type of play he made on Ray Allen but rather hit the gym and start working on making lay-ups and imagining that there is no three point line. Kobe has earned the right to throw up random heat checks and take tough shots simply because he’s Kobe. Lamar however better be looking to slash to the basket every time he touches the ball if our current Lakers squad is to have any success with his contract.

  65. 64. One game, against a lottery team, is not going to clear anything up. Far too small a sample size.

  66. I say wait till playoff time to evaluate Lamar. If he performs like he did last year then we should have no problems with his inflated contract. Also we have to see the second half of the season to see if the Lakers can continue their success. Lamar is not the only player having difficulties at the moment. Our favorite martian has been on another planet the last few games. The machine has been malfunctioning and Kwame has returned. Hopefully within a few months if everybody is hopefully healthy, Phil can mold a near championship calibre team.

  67. Man, all this championship team talk. It gets tiring.

    To be in the hunt we have to be incredibly lucky. What we are is a young and talented team learning the ropes. The will be ups – we saw some last week – and there will be downs – we are in one now – but throughout it all I see us getting better as the season goes along.

    Patience people – let it happen and enjoy the ride.

  68. Too much looking back and too much looking ahead ruins how you should enjoy your trip. Its like being in Disneyland and you keep thinking about shopping… then shopping and looking back at Disneyland.

    What’s best is to enjoy the moment and be in the hunt for bigger things. Remember people that we are 10 weeks removed from ALMOST thinking about a full rebuild without Kobe. Now all so suddenly we are comparing ourselves from the C’s. Its not a fair guage to what our expectations should be.

    If we look at the Celtics, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett collectively have a total of 30yrs of experience. All 3 are considered franchise players to any team they land on and are legitimate defensive players.

    Then we have: Trevor Ariza @22, Andrew Bynum @20, Jordan Farmar @21, Ronny Turiaf @24 with only Kobe and Fish with deep playoff experience. How is that a fair comparison to make?

    Losing to the Celtics isn’t all that bad. I think he 2nd round will be a fair assessment to expect and if lucky enough, the WCF. More importantly, the Lakers should be looking at 50 wins as the 1st step towards maturity and not expect to be cocky like the Boston Celtics of 2007/08. “Growing up” is the theme and I think Kobe himself is enjoying the ride seeing that his boys have grown up so fast.

    Off-topic: Kurt, the Oden-less Portland is so hot and is making a case for the division win. If this happened, there will be 10 teams out West that will be fighting for 8 spots. Do you think their streak is merely a fluke? Winning 12 games in a row shows you what this team can do also and I think Portland is on pace to be a contender in 4 years time – as the Lakers are in 2-3.

  69. I was somehow a little bit happy after the Lakers got whupped by the Celtics. Maybe because I was much more irritated than I thought I would be when everyone went schitzo and jumped hard onto the bandwagon and gunned it toward fairyland with high, high hopes we might win a title this year.

    Lakerland got what it deserved. Or at least what it thought it’d be getting when it was endlessly complaining the past few months. And it was good.

    Happy New Year.

  70. The NBA in 3 years
    by: Warren Wee Lim

    I have always tried to envision several things in my mind. For some unknown reason, the NBA continues to surprise even the best of experts. What makes you think an above-average fan has what it takes to foresee the future?

    Kurt, please allow me the privilege of this post. My experience here at FB&G has led me to stay away from the Trade Machine as much as possible and be realistic enough in the goals we set. Same is true in life… too much free-thinking leads to nothing.

    First, we’ll try to examine the West.

    As discussed in the pre-season many times, the West has 4 classifications of teams. The 1st one being the Elite, Phoenix, San Antonio and Dallas figure to be right on the mark. With sound philosophies and blessed with very gifted ballers, these 3 are expected to shine through this year as the West’s top 4 seed.

    In 3 years time, Tim Duncan will still be Tim Duncan – a picture of consistency and sound fundamentals. Tony Parker aka Mr Longoria will still be 28 and Manu would have become more mature – the consummate proffessionals they are, the Spurs won’t be in the lottery until Duncan decides to hang up his sneakers for good. Even so with Duncan hanging them up soon, the Spurs management of cash leads me to believe they won’t be totally off the West’s map. They will be like the post Stockton-Malone Jazz who will re-tool in time to develop the youngsters but be in the radar each and every year. This is the mark of a solid team, a solid franchise.

    The Phoenix tale would tell a different story. Grant Hill and Steve Nash are a major injury away from retirement and Marion has made it clear he won’t play second fiddle to Amare Stoudemire if this deadly trio is broken up incessantly. Marion would be expected to seek greener pastures in the Summer of 2009 UNLESS this team takes the ring this year. Even that move does not guarantee Marion’s stay, as it might enduce management to pay him the 3yr 50m extension he is asking for. Amare would still be a primed big man. But with 2 microfractures on both knees, there is no real tell if he can still be Jermaine O’neal of today, or simply the KMart of today. With all sorts of centers sprouting up like Aldridge, Oden, D12 and Bynum, Amare needs to figure out his jumpshot now more than ever – before his big brother Stevie Nash hangs em up for good.

    Dallas will continue to get better – but a meltdown figures to be equally possible. Jason Terry, Josh Howard and Dirk Nowitzki are 3 role players that have stepped up big time. The question for Cuban would be – can Dallas afford to not have a big time player? In 3 years, if the former holds true, Dallas will still be a very good team – figuring to still be top4 in the West, if not the best veteran team with loads of experience.

    Reminding ourselves of the assessments we did in the offseason, the next category are the 2nd-tier teams. With Houston and Utah currently fighting for that dear playoff spot, ranking 9th and 10th respectively, I would figure Utah has the best chance to be in the likes of Dallas while Houston could dip as low as Phoenix.

    Given no margin of error to work with, Denver and LA have surprised the whole league with stellar starts of 19-12 and 19-11 respectively. But if we have to look at the roster, LA actually has more margin of error being the league’s 2nd youngest team. With Drew and Jordan growing up so fast, LA has a shot at being a legit 2nd or 3rd seed out West. Denver, meanwhile, would still need to deal with Marcus Camby and Allen Iverson being 35yr olds without a ring. Melo would have developed into a big time player, as will his peers in LeBron, Wade and Bosh, but will he have enough on his team to actually compete? With this team treading the luxury tax this year and the next, there is no telling if both Camby and Iverson would retire their jerseys atop the Pepsi Center. Lakers up, Denver down.

    And there there were eight…

    Eight teams vying for that 8th spot as we said. Portland has the most glaring promise that figures to be the Chicago Bulls of the West in 2009 and 2010. With the payroll cleared for the prospect’s extensions, things are looking up for this franchise. From Jail Blazers to this team? Props to management.

    Golden State is 0-2 vs. Dallas this year… this figures to be the only chance thay will have of escaping the 1st round. With Baron Davis’s future uncertain after 2008, will offering him bigger money be the answer? WIll Nellie still be here? There’s simply so many unknows involved.

    New Orleans is on the rise. As Kurt said, David West IS the NBA’s most underrated player. That guy is probably the next best thing to a Tim Duncan out there with a silent and calm demeanor – but delivering night in and out. Chris Paul has only 2.5yrs of experience and he IS the NBA’s best PG at the moment. Carrying this sleeper into the playoffs will be his greatest task for the year but in 3 years, there is no where else to look but up. They could have Peja’s contract expire the year after and this team is set.

    Seattle, Minnesota and Memphis figures to be farther than scheduled. With Kevin Durant pegged to be the next biggest Nike endorser (meaning really athletic and with freak basketball skills) Seattle will still have to figure out a big man to support the Kid.

    Sacramento and LA Clippers are the teams with futures that would mostly depend on trades. Kings fans, relocating to Vegas is not the answer. The Clips have the Maggette and Brand situations to ponder on. At least the Kings have Kevin Martin…

  71. All this talk about Luke… Don’t you think with Luke and Ariza we’re OK at the SF? We don’t need superstars at every spot. They’re GOOD role players and we should be happy with that. The only player I would take in a trade for Luke is Shane BAttier, but that isn’t happening.

    Realistical PF’s to replace Lamar (as an answer to Darius, and not necessarily via direct trade):
    - Scola
    - Millsap
    - Noah (in 3 years… yep, I believe)

    That’s it, guys I would like to see wearing a Lakers jersey, starting at PF that would carry the Lakers to more wins.

  72. 71) Renato,
    Luke has a fairly limited game, because of his relatively poor combination of athleticism and size. When he is hitting his three point shots, his game meshes well with others. This season that hasn’t been the case, and he has also had ankle injury problems, which he has a history of (going back to college).

    Ariza is very athletic, and looks like he could turn into an excellent defender; his lack of an outside shot is a problem with this group of players, because Lamar is not a good outside shot, and Bynum’s range is still pretty limited. So three of the starters need to be close in to be effective on offense.

    Whether they are enough at SF depends on the other players on the team. Currently they aren’t.

  73. I don’t really get the sudden Luke hate either. Is he a future star? No. But he is exactly the type of smart role player off the bench that good teams have. When he is in the game the triangle offense flows better, he makes great decisions out of the high post. His shooting has been off this season but it has improved over his time in the NBA and you have to expect that will return to form. And we’ve got him for a few years at a reasonable price.

    This is a solid player who fits the system well. We should have more guys like him, not less.

  74. 70) Warren:
    “LA actually has more margin of error being the league’s 2nd youngest team.”

    The problem that I see with the Lakers is that although they are young as a group, most of them (IMO) have a relatively low ceiling. Bynum is an exception to that, but his game still needs a lot of work to become the complement to Kobe that the team needs. Ariza and Crittendon look promising, but more often than not, “promising” does not pan out. I think that the rest of the current roster will max out at mediocre.

  75. Hi Warren,

    One of the great qualities in your postings on FB&G is your ability to constantly consider new possibilities. In your 3 year “look into the future” you seem to be surprisingly conventional in your assessments. I believe that there is much more volatility in the NBA hierarchy than you are prepared to consider–partly for business reasons that you talk about all the time.

    Here are some athletic and human reasons for the volatility.

    First, there is remarkable parity across the NBA. The average W/L score difference across the entire league is in the range of 6 points or fewer. Right now, only Boston/Detroit (on the win side) and Minnesota/NY (on the lose side) differ appreciably from that difference. That’s a thin margin of difference. Similarly, there are very few teams whose proportion of wins (or losses) deviates from a chance binomial proportion–(greater than/less than 65/35.

    That means that it doesn’t take much for a team to rise out of nowhere or drop out of contention.

    We don’t have to wait for three years for it to happen. It is happening now.

    In addition to the Lakers, there are two other ascendent teams in the Western Conference that have a chance to win their divisions: New Orleans, and Portland. I don’t believe that any of the “elite” teams you mentioned from the Western conference are even certain of winning their conference, let alone the Western Division Championship.

    Utah and Houston are at least temporarily descendent, The Clippers and Sacto have fallen.

    My chrystal ball for three years from now is much cloudier than yours.

    In my Crystal ball, Tony Parker might not even be married three years from now!

  76. exhelodrvr,
    “max out at mediocre”???

    I see you are still drinking the ‘Mitch is an idiot” and “the organization is in a complete mess” koolaid. Los Angeles Laker fans are really spoiled.

    Long term, this has been one of the most successful organizations in the NBA, if not in all sports. If you want to think it suddenly fell off a cliff in 2004 then ok, but the people haven’t changed too much.

    The development of players often has as much to do with the organization and system they are playing in. The NBA history is littered with players who never reached their ‘potential’ because they were mishandled during their formative NBA years.

    No Luke Walton wouldn’t work on many NBA clubs, but he does fit this system and work ethic. Do you think Bynum’s development was a complete accident? This is Farmar’s 2nd year and he is showing capability of approaching Deron Williams impact on a game – and a 26th pick yet!

    As much as we might want to think players make themselves, they also need a supporting environment to help them succeed. Most rookies start out somewhat mediocre and have to learn NBA lessons. The fact that ours have developed so fast says something about…
    1) the organization
    2) the drafting accume

  77. As most people here probably know, I am a big fan of Lamar Odom. I might even be the only person to go to a Laker game this year wearing an LO jersey. I kid, but you get what I mean I hope.

    Anyhow, I do not get all of the hate for LO. I mean, do we expect more from him? Sure. It’d be great if he could give us 20, 10, and 5. I have always thought the expectations for Lamar were just too crazy though. I mean, everyone wanted him to be Scottie Pippen, and yada yada, but he can’t be Scottie. He’s just got to be LO and that’s fine with me because he’s more versatile than Scottie and his assets can be exploited better. My main problem with LO is that he doesn’t seem to be all there all the time. His focus comes and goes it seems and he doesn’t bring it every play. I wish he did, but I’ve learned to live with it because he makes up for it with his many talents. At least that’s how I see it.

    Now, part of LO’s issues I think are because he’s been hurt for 3 out of the 4 seasons he was with LA. If you look back, when he played 80 games in his 2nd season, he shot some 37% from 3 (on some 200+ attempts) or so and was playing great. Every other season, though, he’s been in and out of the line-up due to injury. I think that’s why he rolls in the playoffs because he’s usually finally had some time to settle into a rhythm. Hopefully he does that this year and avoids the injury bug.

    Oh yea, and to someone’s question about who’d you rather have that you could actually get, really, who would even match Odom’s output, let alone exceed it, and still bring everything else he does to the team? I can’t see it.

    And honestly, I think you need someone like Lamar, personality-wise and talent-wise, to pair with Kobe or they’d be butting heads constantly. He justs needs to be more aggressive. I’ll live with Lamar driving to the hole strong and missing some shots as opposed to just chucking from far away. Getting to the basket will help his overall confidence as well and the jumpers will be more open due to the defender not wanting to get burned. Lamar tends to shoot the jumper and then try to drive when they’re not falling. If he doesn’t succeed, he gets frustrated. It needs to be the other way around for him. Drive to start the game, and then the jumpers will be there.

    Sorry for the long post…

  78. 76) Craig W,
    “‘Mitch is an idiot” and “the organization is in a complete mess” koolaid”

    Not at all, and I don’t see how you get that from my post. I thought that the Shaq trade was the best thing to do under the circumstances. I thought that the Kwame trade was a reasonable risk at the time. I thought that the Kwame extension was a mistake. I thought that the Cook extension was a mistake since he played basically the same role as Vlad. I was skeptical about the length of the Walton and Fisher contracts, because of the effect that those (when combined with other contracts) will have on free agent signings. I thought that the draft picks that have been made were decent considering the position in the draft that the Lakers have. Most of them will not be great pros, which is expected at that position in the draft. You also need to include Devean George, Kareem Rush, etc. in your considerations on how well the draft has gone for the Lakers. So overall Mitch has done an OK, not great and not bad, job.

    “This is Farmar’s 2nd year and he is showing capability of approaching Deron Williams impact on a game”

    No, he’s not. Farmar is still improving, but he is not showing that level of potential. He is small, and relative to other point guards, not very quick. That combination will very likely limit him to being a mediocre PG at the NBA level. That will be pretty good for a backup, but so-so as a starter.

    Walton is slow and injury prone. He is limited defensively. He is not a good rebounder. If his outside shot is not working, the above makes him more of a liability than an asset. This is not the first year he has had extended slumps with his shooting. Lat year, for instance. Healthy, with an outside shot, the right system, and the right players around him, he can be a very good addition to a team.

    Turiaf played four years at a major college program. If he was going to be a good NBA player, by this point in his career he should be showing more. Still a good person to have on the team, especially given his great attitude, but not someone to plan on being a starter on a title contender.

    Vlad and Sasha – very inconsistent, at this point to plan on significant improvements from them would not be wise.

    Fisher is not going to get better at this point in his career.

    Bryant is not going to get much better; he may learn how to make his game mesh better with this group of teammates.

    Bynum could get a lot better, if his current work ethic and attitude continue.

    Odom is highly likely to stay as is.

    Kwame is Kwame. Mihm would be a very good backup center/PF if he ever regains his health, but to plan on that at this point would not be wise.

    So does this current roster have enough to become real contenders, before Kobe’s game starts to decline? Possible, but unlikely, without making at least one significant improvement.

  79. exhelodrvr,
    You and I can agree to disagree on the question of Farmar. Most players on most teams are role players (Bowen anyone) and I don’t think that is a mediocre team.

    Drafts back before 2004 were very, very average, but that goes back to 1997 and Jerry West so I don’t put that on Mitch alone – I think he has learned over the years and shows every indication of being a GM with an eye for talent in this system.

    I guess it is the Farmar/Bynum selections where you and I part company. Good teams seem to always have a good big man and a good PG to keep others honest and allow shooters to flourish. They also keep the defense from being torn asunder. The Lakers have these two position filled for the next 10yrs (with Crit as potential to be developed). Now you put Kobe into the mix and I feel the Lakers future is not only very good, but that Kobe will have his career extended because of Bynum having his back and Farmar able to do the ball handling.

    Yes, in my scenario, it will not likely be this year we see all this, but this year has certainly put others on notice that next year the Lakers are likely to be very formidable.

  80. (78) exhelodrvr,

    Your thinking is very good–but incomplete.

    What your analysis largely misses is what both basketball and the Lakers are all about: team, system, and organization.

    What Mitch has done is to develop a well balanced team around Phil Jackson’s triangle system through the full use of the Laker’s organization.

    This is the first recent year that the Lakers have played as a team-especially on defense.

    Your critique ignores these factors–focusing almost exclusively on the individual. For example, if Derek Fisher and/or Jordan Farmar played like Deron Williams, the Lakers would trade him! Luke Walton, who you have critiqued as slow on defense and injury prone, has often come in and made a key defensive stop, steal, rebound, pass, or three point basket. Even as a first year player, Luke was making key contributions. Turiaff has been able to inspire through all the many roles he has been asked to perform.

    When you say Kwame is Kwame, you mean it in a negative way. I think that his defensive play and attitude have been inspirational to the rest of the team since last year. The Lakers have made Twinkletoes Brown focus on defense–and it has paid off.

    Mitch showed some real genius in the trade for Trevor. Ariza is a perfect fit for a Laker need with an unplummed upside–and Mitch redeemed the Cook “experiment” at the same time.

    For the first time recently, we have a potential future star that we can develop properly or use to make a trade in Javaris.

    The only player who is out of tune with the system right now is Lamar, but the Lakers, through “team” and “organization,” have already adjusted his responsibilities so much that there is a real chance for him to finally fit in–sort of.

    Compared to other organizations, the Lakers have been able to compete at the highest level without the possibility of high draft choices about as well as one could expect.

    I’ve personally been expecting that “one final piece” still this year, and I’m not willing to limit Laker propects short term.

    But . . . .

    I’m enjoying this team with a very optimistic attitude!

  81. 72) exhelodrvr,

    You admit they would be very good role players on the right team. As is, it might be easier to adjust our PF than to adjust the rest of the roster.

    But seems Odom isn’t going anywhere, so no point on messing with the other players who actually play within the system. That’s my thought…