Fast Break Thoughts

Kurt —  February 7, 2008

While the Lakers had a fourth-quarter breakdown last night, I’m not sure we learn a lot breaking that down. Fifth game in seven days, second night of a back-to-back against a young and athletic team. Pau looked tired but he’s racked up enough frequent flier miles for a free trip to Spain in the last few days. Still would like to have won that one, but not a loss that should keep us up at night.

Instead, here are some thoughts and other things to check out from around the NBA Web today:

• Tex Winter doesn’t get the idea of Shaq playing for the Suns either. He told Roland Lazenby that and more over at SportsHubLA.

“It’s going to take Bynum a while to adjust after he gets back,” Winter predicted of Bynum’s projected return in March/April. “How he comes back remains to be seen. He’s young. He can recover quickly. But he’ll have to relearn how to be assertive. He’ll have to learn how to play with Gasol.”

• I heard Steve Kerr be interviewed this morning on Dan Patrick’s radio show and he said it took him a few days to come around to the idea of the Shaq trade. My experience — if it takes you a few days to talk yourself into something, it’s a bad idea.

• We all keep talking about the Spurs, Lakers, Mavericks and Suns as potential contenders in the West. We shouldn’t leave Utah off that list, with Korver and Williams and Boozer they are a legit threat to win it all.

• The Lakers as the Justice League.

• Over at Yahoo, Skeets got an interview with Ernie Johnson, the glue of the TNT studio show.

• By the way, Shaq or no Shaq, they are going to replay the end of that Hawks/Heat game.

• Does the fact that we can’t get an accurate count of who has how many delegates in the Democratic race for president suggest that maybe the system should be tweaked a little? (Yes, I know, I just broke my own rule and talked politics, but this just strikes me as silly.)

Kurt

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48 responses to Fast Break Thoughts

  1. Would Shaq be eligible to play in the Hawks/Heat game since he was part of the Heat team when the game began?

    Doesn’t the unknown number of delegates have to do with some websites counting delegates for states that haven’t finished counting votes as well as some websites counting super delegates?

  2. Shaq will not play in that game. Even though they are replaying it because of a scorer’s error involving him.

    I know Superdelegates are part of the count issue (and may ultimately decide the race on the Democratic side). I thought it was one delegate per congressional district in the state, but someone said the formula is more complex than that. It just strikes me that you should be able to “know the score” on something like this.

  3. thanks for the justice league link! but now people in the office are staring in my direction wondering why i’m cleaning up my spilled drink off of my computer screen and laughing uncontrollably.

  4. What no Batman, tisk tisk tisk. Does that mean the Justice Lakers cast the super delegates? Ahh the US political system it all starts with the Electrical College.

  5. Kurt, the fact that super delegates can vote however they want is not silly. If anything, it’s downright scary. Democracy? You mean the PEOPLE decide? What a farce.

  6. jellosjigglin’ February 7, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    BYNUM UPDATE:

    although i havent been able to find a link to this on espn, chris broussard reportedly said on espn this morning that bynum is AHEAD of schedule, is doing leg strengthening exercises 4 hours a day and is studying film on the games great bigs.

    a poster by the name of “zyme” caught this and shares here:
    http://lakers.topbuzz.com/PNphpBB2-viewtopic-t-10502.html

    a poster by the name of “ose” caught it and shares here:
    http://lakersblog.latimes.com/lakersblog/2008/02/kcal-game-thr-2.html#comment-100390182

  7. 6 I hope you are not suggesting Ric Bucher is wrong in a Lakers report.

  8. A couple thoughts on the Suns and the Shaq trade.

    First, last summer in all the trade talks surrounding Kevin Garnett, Phoenix supposedly could have gotten him straight up for Amare Stoudamire, but they weren’t willing to do that deal. So looking at the Suns today I have to ask, would you rather have Garnett and Shawn Marion, or Stoudamire and Shaq? Personally, I’d rather have Garnett/Marion. Last time I checked, defense still wins championships, and Garnett/Marion would be just an awesome defensive duo, whereas I think Amare/Shaq will struggle defensively.

    Not to mention the question nobody in the media is asking about this trade: Who takes Marion’s spot on defense, guarding all the perimeter players? For everything they supposedly gain with Shaq (and I am extremely skeptical they’ll get the defensive upgrade in the paint that they’re expecting) they lose just as much if not more with Marion gone.

    Second, there’s a lot of talk about Phoenix doing the Shaq deal because of their shrinking championship window with Nash, who turns 34 today. But the reason their window is so small is their own fault. The Suns really painted themselves into a corner with their policy of selling off draft picks over the years.

    In 2004 they traded the #7 pick in the draft to the Bulls for a future first rounder, basically because they didn’t want to pay a lottery pick. The Bulls took Luol Deng. In 2006 they traded away – for cash and/or cap relief – the picks that became Rajon Rondo and Sergio Rodriguez. In 2007 they traded for cash the pick that became Rudy Fernandez.

    Combine this with the decision not to re-sign Joe Johnson (remember, they could have signed him for $8 million a year in October of ’04, nine months before they traded him to Atlanta, but chose not to).

    So what would the championship window be for a team with Nash, Amare, Marion, Raja Bell, Grant Hill, Luol Deng, Joe Johnson, Rajon Rondo, Sergio Rodriguez, and the rights to Rudy Fernandez?

    And it works financially too. Look at their roster . The salary they could have signed Johnson for ($8 million a year) is less than what they paid for Boris Diaw ($9 million per), Deng’s rookie-scale contract is less than what they’re paying for Marcus Banks, and Rondo’s and Rodriguez’s contracts are about the same as Eric Piatkowski and Sean Marks. They could have Johnson, Deng, Rondo and Rodriguez, but instead they have Diaw, Banks, Piatkowski and Marks.

    Yes, they would have to make some decisions about re-signing Deng and Marion, and whether or not to trade some perimeter guys for a center, but they would have way more talent and roster flexibility, and wouldn’t be stuck making a last-ditch desperation trade.

    And we haven’t even mentioned the two picks they gave Seattle in the Kurt Thomas salary dump, or the two picks they gave Utah way back when in the Tom Gugliotta salary dump, one of which is an unprotected pick from the Knicks in 2010 that they got in the Stephon Marbury trade. (Yes, you read that right – an unprotected pick from the Knicks in 2010.)

    So in essence, Phoenix has sold off draft picks for years to save money, but since they spent the same amount of money on free agents, they haven’t ended up saving any money. And now they have a shrinking window to win a title, instead of being loaded with talent in the present and set for the future.

    That’s the danger of short-term thinking. And the Shaq trade is the ultimate short-term move.

  9. Meant to include a link to hoopshype in the post above, regarding Phoenix’s roster:
    http://hoopshype.com/salaries/phoenix.htm

  10. Before the Lakers left on the road (and the world turned upside down), I wrote in this blog that I thought that there were 3 keys to the Lakers success..

    1. FT shooting
    2. Creating turnovers through steals (and generate transition points) and not giving up steals…
    3. The play of Fisher, when he plays well we tend to play well and he looked a bit tired against Cleveland and NY.

    Well 5 games into the trip I was wrong – about Derek Fisher. In wins he’s scoring 14.6 PPG and in losses 16.5PPG

    But the other stats are interesting.

    In losses team FT% is 67%; it’s 83% in wins

    In losses the Lakers have given up an average of 5.5 more steals per game. In wins, the Lakers generate an average of 2.3 steals per game more than their opponents.

    Make free throws, be active in passing lanes, protect the ball on offense. Pretty simple huh?

  11. For all the talk about how Shaq is on the decline or the counter argument that Shaq will help Phoenix, I’m very excited that he is in the Western Conference let alone the Pacific Division. It’s just great for basketball, especially Lakers fans, to see this sort of competition and there is a great rivalry now between the Suns and Lakers.

    Hollywood writers could not have scripted a better finish/saga than to have Shaq join the Suns to play against his nemisis Kobe. The sub-plot of the young Bynum versus Shaq is great, and it harkens me back to the time Bynum dunked it on Shaq and then got into a tussle with him.

    To me, it makes the Lakers v. Suns that much enjoyable and hence worth staying up until 1:30 am EST to watch. Let’s see what Shaq has to offer, and hope we can bring it to him.

  12. Speaking of Shaq, The KCAL website has an excellent video of the lakers strength coach taking Sasha and Luke through core strength exercises. He’s the guy who got Shaq healthy when he was laid up w/ abdominal problems…

    http://cbs2.com/video/?cid=92

    near the end of the page…

  13. Great post Matt.

  14. While we’re Suns bashing, I’d like to point out that the 2008 and 2010 picks the Suns gave Seattle as part of the Kurt Thomas “trade” are completely unprotected. How unbelievably short-sighted. Any chance Nash/Shaq are done in 2010 and that pick is in the lottery?

  15. Did any League Passers get miffed at hawk’s announcer Steve Smith referring to Gasol as “Paul” all last night?

    My wife thought I had Tourette’s because every time he said “Paul”, I barked “Pau” back at the TV…

  16. I’d also like to point out that the Lakers gave up an expiring big man, the 3rd guard off the bench and 2 first round picks for an all-star big man in his prime and a 2nd round pick while the Suns effectively gave up an expiring big man, the 1st guard off their bench, 2 first round picks, and an all-star 20/10 guy for a 2nd round pick and Sheriff Donuthole.

  17. The Dude Abides February 7, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    Gatinho–Even though “Paul” is the English equivalent of “Pau,” it’s still pretty funny.

    Jello’s Jiggling regarding Bynum–my initial reaction to the type of injury he had was three to four weeks, as I used to get that same injury all the time, and three to four weeks was the maximum amount of recovery time for me before I was back on the tennis court. Then, when the Lakers said he would be out for eight weeks, it became apparent that Andrew’s subluxation was worse than mine, so I upped my estimate to six weeks for Andrew. That would put him back in games during the last of February.

  18. The Dude Abides February 7, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    Edit re Bynum: back in games during the last week of February.

  19. The Lakers are a very deep team. It seems that no one has even mentioned Trevor Ariza in a while but I feel that he is one of those extra pieces that will make the Suns life all that much more difficult. He is our ultimate slasher! Bynum and Gasol will be great and Kobe will have more room to operate. Jordan and Fisher will have to be the real Suns killers but Radmanovic and Vujacic have been shooting much better and more consistently recently. It was a very tough loss last night to the Hawks however it is understandable due to the tough schedule of the back to back so far away. I’d expect a back to back to be a bit closer than New jersey to Atlanta, surely any other east coast team would’ve been a closer trip. We still have a few good games coming up, especially against Orlando tomorrow. I was looking forward to facing Shaq in Miami on Sunday but i think that it will be fun to play against him in 2 weeks in Phoenix.

  20. Gatinho, maybe your wife thought you were having flashbacks to the old Batman TV show, and you were shouting POW! (and SMACK, KICK, BOFFO, and CRUNCH!!)
    by the way, I still like that for his nickname, one Lawrence Tanner, (Lakers Public Address announcer) can say after every POW! basket…can’t you just hear him?
    POOOOWWWW!!!!
    (it helps if you swing your arm up in a fist pump ala Tiger Woods when you say it)…try it, you’ll see.

    and Kurt, any reason you left New Orleans off the list of contenders who could actually win it this year?

  21. Kurt-Yes we can!

  22. jellosjigglin’ February 7, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    Kurt – a Bucher report on the Lakers incorrect? Impossible! Isn’t Kobe wearing a Bulls jersey? Or sippin’ mai tai’s in the Bahamas?

  23. while i am scratching my head trying to figure out why suns pulled the trigger on this deal… it does get me a bit uneasy about shaq re-dedicating himself to the game of basketball.

    we all know what he can do if he puts his mind to it, i think i’ve heard/read from somewhere saying that kobe got fed up with shaq’s work ethics and that was the beginning of their disintegration…

    having said that, we also witnessed what shaq did with miami the first season after leaving lakers where he was content and injury prone. he showed up in shape and was back into his once dominant center… sort of.

    i’d just hate to see if suns could prevail once again over the lakers… i hate hearing the “we’ll see what happens in the playoffs” and “lakers haven’t beaten us in the playoffs yet” talks…

    with shaq on their suns, i feel like the only favorable mismatch for the lakers is lamar odom… which is why it scares me to even imagine it…

    bynum and shaq would probably go at it…
    pau and amare would probably go at it…
    fisher and farmar will have their hands full at guarding barbosa and nash…
    kobe probably would be guarded by bell… and if bell is left alone, he could knock down some crucial 3′s from the corners…
    ronny and luke would probably be matched up against skinner / diaw…

    which would leave lamar and sasha to step up…

    sorry, just thinking out loud…

  24. Bill Bridges (10): I don’t wish to be too negative, because I do think that statistics can tell a lot about a team or a game that fans often can’t see directly because they’re biased in favor of their team. But in this case, I don’t think these stats are too illuminating.

    It drives me a little batty when some sports broadcast gives the team’s such-and-such stats in their wins vs in their losses, or gives the team’s record when such-and-such stats are above some figure, as opposed to below that number. First of all, such factoids underestimate the effect of natural variation. FT percentage varies quite a bit from game to game, and since higher FT percentages naturally correlate with higher winning percentages, such statistics don’t really say a lot–in particular, they say nothing about whether such a statistic is particularly important for that team. Every team wins more often when they shoot FT’s better.

    Secondly, very often, these statistics do not equate to anything within the team’s direct and immediate control. I can’t think of a team right now that doesn’t go into each game hoping to shoot 100 percent on their FT’s. With the rare exception of an endgame play, no one misses any FT’s on purpose. So “make your FT’s,” though obviously advisable, is not an in-game strategy.

    The turnovers can be even more deceptive, because even though it seems to make sense that you should get into the passing lanes to create more turnovers, such a tactic can also lead to more open lay-ups. One of my more frequent beefs about Kobe (pun intended) is that he used to linger in the passing lanes, to the point that he let his man get by him and into the interior of the defense, leading to either a foul or a lay-up. Timely application of unexpected pressure may be more effective here, but it’s always hard to say for sure.

    There are statistics that are under the team’s direct and immediate control–things like pace of play (as measured by possessions per 48 minutes), shot selection (percentage of shots that are jumpers), and so forth, but these get used comparatively rarely on TV sportscasts. Too bad. I would like to see, more often, what the Lakers’ record is when they push the pace, as opposed to playing a more half-court offense.

  25. Lamar Odom is back! February 7, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    Anybody gonna go watch the Lakers at Staples soon???? Any chance you can take an “I (heart) Ronny” sign????

  26. Excellent Post Matt! I like it a lot when someone brings up the money portion of the game.

    I agree. While the other teams have traded their superstars and semi-stars for cap relief and picks, Phoenix has been hoarding salary and selling the picks. May I note that this era began after Colangelo left as GM and D’Antoni took over as GM/coach of the team.

    It’s also notable that Coach/GM function does not really work. I mean look at Pat Riley’s Heat and Isiah Thomas’ Knicks. They also mentioned that the reason Philly players got longer deals was because of the GM’s infatuation for its players. So get this, being GM means you have to be heartless or else…

    That’s what you get for falling in love with Boris Diaw. After one cinderella season with the Amare-less Phoenix Suns, management decided to give him a whopping 45m contract for 5 years that will kick in starting 2007. That’s 9m per year folks and you supposedly passed up on Joe Johnson who makes ONLY 4m more. JJ vs Diaw? Cmon…

    Leandro Barbosa also got his money. However, since he is foreign and was “happy” all the way, they signed him cheaply for 6.6m per (average). This one was good use of money. But still, Barbosa + Diaw does not equal Joe Johnson.

    Then there are those picks that matt said. They were simply selling those picks to cover up knowing very little that there will be no more players to be on your team come 2010. Nash will be 36, Shaq will be 37, Grant Hill will be 38. Amare will still be 28 but do you think Amare Diaw and Barbosa are still enough pieces?

    The window is indeed closing. I sense them now being older than the Spurs and playing twice as fast. I know the game slows considerably come playoff time but cmon Shaq on 7 seconds-offense?

  27. Yeah… Bucher really screwed himself by buying in hook, line and sinker to being the Kobe camp mouthpiece during the um… disagreement. It’s so unbelievably awkward to watch when he interviews Kobe on the court now.

    He was a pretty marginal NBA pundit to begin with. Now he’s just a joke.

  28. Very good comments Matt.
    Broke it down like an expert analyst.

    The thing about the Shaq trade… even when Shaq dedicated himself and got into shape with the Heat he wasn’t the dominant force in that Dallas series. Wade was the one that won that series, Shaq was just there as a decoy. Really though when the Heat wanted defense they brought in Mourning. And that was 2006. There is no way Shaq got better defensively by getting older. This makes me question the reasoning behind the Suns move. Is Shaq really going to make the Suns a better defensive team when he doesn’t move incredibly well? People are saying he’s just going to defend and throw quick outlet passes so we’ll see.

    Finally, I’d be 10x more scared if it was Nash, KG, and Marion. With Shaq I think their team dynamic changes too much. KG woud have made that team tremendously scary. Thank goodness the Suns didn’t push that trade…suckers hehe.

  29. Quote by Sir Charles on Shaq’s knees: “After a while it just don’t work, that’s why they created Viagra.”

    I’m still laughing on that one…haha. Hey Kurt, what time zone are the “comment post times” on this site?

  30. The Dude Abides February 8, 2008 at 1:50 am

    LOL…is there any team in the league more schizo than the Warriors? They lost a home game to the Bulls, who played without Deng, Gordon, and Heinrich. Monta Ellis shot 92% from the floor, but only got 12 shots. Baron and Jax jacked up a ton of threes (4-18 between them). Perhaps they should have set up Ellis a little more. He didn’t take any threes, but the Warriors were 7-28 beyond the arc. Warriors only shot 21 FT. Bulls only took 9 threes, and got to the line 48 times. Coincidence? I wonder how the Dubs going to stop the Lakers in the paint if they meet in the playoffs.

  31. Have to disagree abit on the Suns having KG/Marion vs Stoudemire/Shaq. KG is not now and never will be a C. So the Suns would still need a C and face trying to do that w/KG’s $23+mil and Marion’s $16+mil. Plus the Suns traded away Marion in large part because of locker-room problems that a KG trade would not have solved. If anything,Marion would have been even more jealous of attention KG would have received.
    I agree the trading away of picks has been extremely foolish,but I’d give them a pass on the 04 #7 pick.They had JJ and Marion,it was not thought of as a great draft and they traded for another First and the second Second rd pick.And if we’re to hindsight that draft,today’s Suns would have been much better picking Josh Smith who went 17 over Deng.
    (The whole 04 off-season kills me every time I think about it. Was living in Fla,huge T-Mac fan and the Magic had just finished a horrible season and as a reward the basketball gods set everything up for an amazing recovery. The 04/5 season could have seen a Magic lineup of Nash/Kidd,McGrady,Deng/Igudola,Battie,Howard w/Varejao as the third big if they’d had a competent GM instead of the hockey guy.Arrrrrgh!)
    Shaq may not be a great,or even good post defender anymore,but they didn’t trade away one and Amare is still there and this frees him up to come as help shotblocker. Sorry,but I think the Suns are better w/Amare at PF rather than Marion. Assuming of course that Shaq can actually play.

  32. The thing that still worries me about the ability of the Lakers to win it all is their defense.

    1. They do not seem to follow any structured defensive schemes
    2. They gamble a lot in their one-one defense
    3. Their idea of team defense is to help, but not rotate and hence leaving free shooters

    I do not see an player excepting Kobe and maybe Ronny who is committed to defense. The present mind set seems to be t outscore the opponent to win games..I do not know when the transition will happen…

  33. As many others have said, this Shaqtacular trade does not make any sense–yet.

    I still remember the one time Shaq as a Laker made a steal and went in, ahead of the pack, to make the dunk.

    Never did it again.

    They want svelte Shaq to be over the hill Chamberlain or old Kareem?

    Interesting.

  34. 11. I don’t mind a rivalry, I would not be a sports fan if I did not. However, I dislike the rivalry to be in the same conference with an ex-Laker. I for one never liked the Kings-Laker rivalry because of Vlade Divac. Divac never one a championship for the Lakers, but he almost when the Lakers traded him for Kobe Bryant.

    Now you expect for me to cheer against Shaq? I was excited for Bynum when he dunked on Shaq because Shaq attacked Bynum verbally when Bynum said that he was a better free throw shooter than Shaq. Shaq was offended though I can’t imagine why, he is a horrible free throw shooter–percentages prove that!

    I will be saddened/excited to watch a young Bynum out duel an aged Shaq. I for one never like show downs when its the young against the old, even someone as cocky as Shaq. Shaq will be motivated to play his best and once again he will be rejuvenated–how many lives does he have? Not to play against Kobe, that battle lost its air this summer when Shaq acknowledged that Kobe was not the reason he was traded. But Shaq will want to burst Bust’s bubble.

  35. Webber looked awful last night…a preview for how Shaq will look in Phoenix?

  36. Shaq wants to keep Kobe from winning a title.
    Simple as that.

  37. Ironically, I have come to appreciate the Shaq trade for both sides. It took awhile – like for Steve Kerr – but Marion was probably leaving after this year and Marcus Banks’ contract was a real drag for no return. Add to that that PHX has traded away all their draft picks and you get that PHS is done for new blood until 2011.

    Add all that up and you have to make a trade. With the changes in the west and all of the NBA getting more used to defending the running style of play, it didn’t make much sense to get a couple more runners for this offense – they just couldn’t replace Marion that way and Banks would limit any other options with his salary. This way they get a real plug in the middle – moderately moving body who at least understands basketball – who can score with Marion. This salary will fit with Steve Nash so they can drive over the cliff together in the spring of 2010. After that they will be able to sign a couple of free agents to come to sunny PHX and start their new life as Western Conference dormats for a couple of years.

  38. I didn’t realize Miami is paying17 players this year. I think Pat Riley has really gone around the bend and should seriously think of getting out of the business. The Shaq trade was a good one for him; if only to keep Dwayne Wade happy, but they are really a complete mess personnel-wise this year.

    http://www.hoopshype.com/salaries/miami.htm

  39. The Lakers will have plenty of drama fitting all of their pieces together. If we consider Coby Karl to be the only true reserve, the Lakers are 12 deep. Phil will certainly want to draw various combinations from that 12, but first he must see how well they work together.

    The rotations at pg and sg seem to work well among Derek, Jordan, Kobe, and “the Machine.” One could imagine further help from Odom and Ariza–especially if and when Kobe migrates to the SF.

    The real work is in the front court. Although Gasol will be the center and Odom the PF initially, Gasol will move to PF as soon as Bynum is available for the Center position. The Lakers may be tempted to back up Bynum with Gasol, a role that Gasol has played in the past–or they may use Turiaff and/or Mihm.

    Odom may be shifted from the PF to the SF, but he has not been successful there in the past–and Trevor Ariza will need to be worked into that position as well–on top of Walton and VladRad. Turiaff may back up the SF.

    Odom may end up switching between multiple positions and/or playing fewer minutes.

    I don’t know what is going to happen and how the combinations and minutes will work out, but it will be interesting.

  40. I suspect Walton will see his minutes shrink a bit. He will be used to sub for injuries and off-nights.

    I would guess Gasol will be starting PF and Turiaf the backup, with both being able to slide to center as required. Lamar and Ariza will hold down the SF spot, with Lamar sliding to PF as required. Vlade will swing between SF & PF as required by scoring requirements and game play. Ariza will be able to slide to SG if Kobe or Sasha are required elsewhere.

    With a first unit of Fisher/Kobe/Lamar/Gasol/Bynum we have 2 3pt shooters (Fish/Kobe) and 2 midrange shooters (Lamar/Gasol). This is probably the strongest unit.

    Among the others the 3pt shooters are Farmar/Sasha/Vlade. Defenders are Ariza and Turiaf. Turiaf probably should be in there if Bynum is out because of his defense, not necessarily at center tho.

  41. 40 Craig,

    We’ll have to see how things work out. On a radio interview on AM570, Mitch indicated that Bynum was the 5 and Gasol the 4, but not that Odom was the 3. In fact, Mitch said that Lamar would get his minutes due to his versatility and ability to create a mismatch. Considering how Odom has played at the 3, this is hardly surprising.

    Judging from Mitch’s comments, I’d suspect that it would be Odom, not Walton, who’d get his minutes reduced. However, none of this is a done deal. That’s what makes it so interesting.

  42. I would agree with you if Lamar keeps leaving his man open at the 3pt line, but Phil really likes Lamar’s ability to fill multiple holes in the offense and Luke’s primary value is as an offense facilitator and spot up shooter. The problem is how does Luke help you if you have multiple good passers in at all times without him?

  43. Odom’s poor perimiter defense is correctable. Luke’s lack of athleticism is not. The minutes will ultimately come out of Luke’s PT, not Odom’s.

  44. I think Lamar is a better PF than Turiaf, and Gasol is a betterC than Turiaf. Because of that, once everyone is healthy, I would like to see Gasol split his time between PF Bynum’s backup, with Lamar getting the bulk of the PF minutes. That puts Gasol against backup centers approx half the time, and against PF approx half the time. He wins all the matchups against backup C, and most of the matchups against the PFs. Half of Lamar’s time is against backup PFs, where he wins, and half against starting PFs, where he probably breaks even. Bynum wins most matchups against the other team’s starting C.

    Bynum – C – 32 minutes
    Gasol – PF – 16 minutes, backup C – 16
    Odom PF – 32 minutes

    I think Ariza is a better perimeter defender than Odom, which is a weak point of this roster, so IAriza should start at SF, with Walton and Vlad splitting the rest of the time.

    Fisher and Farmar at PG, Kobe and Sasha at SG.

    That leaves Turiaf out of the rotation, which is unfortunate because he is a great guy, but that’s not my concern right now if I’m the coach. I think it does make Odom somewhat expendable in the offseason, unless he is willing to take a pay cut to extend his contract.

  45. (44) Great analysis,

    but we better wait to see how this unfolds. I think that Turiaff is a natural complement to Gasol at center and Walton will learn all the rotations better for team defense.

    However, I’m not sure that Gasol will play ANY minutes at center.

    I think Turiaff will get his minutes, but I’m not sure where.

    43 says, “Odom’s poor perimiter defense is correctable.”

    I bet that was what his high school coach said. And then his college coach. And then the Clippers. And then the Heat. And now the Lakers. . . . . .

    I was about to credit Lamar with refraining from the patented “Oh! No! Dumb” threes that he seems to need to get out of his system each game in the last two victories, only to see him upchuck three of them in our loss to Atlanta.

    I even remember back to a game in which Lamar made some offensive rebounds–but not recently. Only Pau.

    The Lakers management definitely still shares our almost mystical belief in this fantasy “Lamar” that occasionally appears fleetingly, rarely for a whole game–but they don’t really know where to play him.

    Gasol just filled the only starting slot that was available to Lamar. Unless he is injured, Luke is in at the 3–and he has a long term contract to prove it–and both VladRad and Trevor are going to play as well.

    Lamar is an inegma–and yet his role may well determine whether or not we win a championship this year.

  46. 45: Obviously Ariza is our best defensive option, but Walton is our worst. And tonight Lamar’s defense behind the 3-point line on that last Magic possession saved us. I’m not saying this in any kind of gotcha way, but it at least shows he is capable of getting the job done. Yes, he is inconsistent. We all know this. But it’s better than being consistently bad (Walton). So, until Ariza gets back, I stand by my assessment.

  47. This is the best team from 1-15 that Lamar Odom has ever played on, and I imagine that Lamar is not completely devoid of common sense and will realize that this is his last and best chance for a championship.
    He will shore up his defense because he will no longer be required to be an offensive threat.
    I believe that Lamar has finally found his role–as a complimentary player.
    Yea, for Lamar!

  48. well said, finally a good report on this stuff