Draft Thoughts

Kurt —  June 27, 2008

Lots of things to talk about, but as this is a Lakers blog and all, maybe we should start there. As word filtered through the Kentucky faithful that Crawford had been drafted, more information on the newest Laker came out.

That starts with long-time reader here Zach who is a UK fan, lives in Louisville and saw a lot of Crawford.

Since I’m a UK fan, Crawford has been one of the most frustrating players in recent memory, almost as frustrating as watching Rondo mature into everything that we thought we should’ve had at UK, now only see him win a title w/ the Celtics compounds the frustration tenfold. Crawford is a Tubby Smith guy. He came to UK w/ Rondo and Randolph Morris (and Ramel Bradley) w/ the hopes that this was going to be the recruiting class that got UK back to the Final Four. 3 McDonalds All-Americans, you had to like your chances. Well, to say the least it didn’t work out as planned.

Defense is probably what he’ll need to do to be able to make the team….I don’t think his stroke is anything special…but he is a “scorer”, not a spot up shooter by any means. Offensively he’s a scorer, gets in the lane, could hit the college 3 well enough for defenses to have to cover it, because he can drive to the rack, now with the bigger bodies he’s going to face, he’s going to have to become a better shooter. Did I trust him to hit a big jumper when need be? I wanted him to shoot it because that’s all UK had, but was I confident…eh…not so much. I would trust him to make a move and get a shot though, which is a plus.

Zach also pointed me to an article on Crawford in the Louisville Courier-Journal that summed up what seems to be a lot of UK fans thinking.

Prince, Bogans, Rondo, Azubuike, Hayes – all Tubby guys, all guys that have their knocks, but have lasted in the pros. Whether it’s the toughness that Smith instilled, or the defensive work ethic, not sure, but they’ve all seem to have made some sort of impact in the league. Crawford didn’t flourish under Smith, he really picked it up under Gillespie, who’s a defense first coach, and who made Joe play defense. There are no doubts about his offensive capabilities, the only doubts I have is whether or not he’s good enough. He played thru injuries, and I think he’s been mentally toughened by Gillespie, but there are still doubts to whether or not he could play, and whether or not the Lakers could’ve waited and invited him to a tryout, instead of wasting a draft pick on him.

There also was some interesting stuff at Sea Of Blue, what looks to be a very good UK blog (SB nation really only has quality guys)

Crawford really came on in the last 2/3 of this season after a slow recovery from minor knee surgery last year and a bit of a rocky start with Kentucky’s new coach, Billy Gillispie. As the year progressed, Crawford and teammate Ramel Bradley developed into a dynamic duo and became the backbone of a Kentucky team that reinvented itself after a rocky non-conference season to finish second in the SEC East.

What I will always remember is the sudden appearance of noticeable heart and passion in Crawford, who for three years at Kentucky played with a kind of disinterested and even surly demeanor. Later in his senior year, it became obvious that he was leaving it on the floor every single game, and Crawford became an unmistakable leader for the Wildcats.

As has been said before, it is basically down to Crawford, Coby Karl and some summer league free agents to get that last roster spot (assuming Sasha and Turiaf return, and some money is spent on one vet off the bench and/or another backup center). That should make summer league more interesting to watch.

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As for other thoughts, count me in the group that loved what New Jersey did. I think they waited a couple years to long to start to rebuild, but when they did they did it right. Darius summed it up well:

Lopez, Anderson, CDR. That’s a 7 footer with a low post game, a 6?10? PF with perimeter skills, and everyone’s fave CDR. As I mentioned yesterday, you add that to Devin Harris, Marcus Williams, Yi, VC, Josh Boone, and Sean Williams and you’ve got some good, high regarded talent and a lot of youth. They’ve also dumped all their contracts except for Carters and can make a run at FA’s in the Summer of 2010 when Wade, Melo, Lebron, and Bosh are all their. Not bad work in a season for Thorn and Kiki.

The Knicks are willing to move David Lee? I thought he’d be a great fit with D’Antoni, so color me confused.

Wow I really don’t get what Memphis did. Well, I think if that had been a Love for Mayo swap it would have been fine (but can you see Love throwing the outlet to Gay in transition — that would have been impressive). But putting Mike Miller in that deal? That’s a win for Minny now. It’s pretty clear that Memphis loved Mayo (unless the trade for Beasely rumors are true) and wanted to totally shake up the roster in rebuilding, but they paid a very high price to do that. Unless Mayo turns out to be better than we all thought….

If I were the Clippers, and I thought I needed passing and a true PG to start to use the talent on the roster, I might be calling Chicago today about Kirk. Not cheap, but he’s a quality PG they could really use.

Kurt

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66 responses to Draft Thoughts

  1. I believe David Lee’s contract expires with Odom’s…

    Regarding the draft, I really haven’t seen much outside the top players, and my conclusion is this… Portland is getting scary… Guess we’ll have to deal with the aging Spurs as well as Utah and Portland for years to come…

  2. I could see the clips calling Chicago about Heinrich. A starting line up of Heinrich, Gordon, Thornton, Brand, Kaman wouldn’t be too bad. (but I think they would have to give up at least one of those players because they don’t really have anything else to trade). Don’t think its good enough to make the playoffs but better than what they have. Miami will also be calling Chicago to see what it will take to get heinrich. Denver will probably be another team that could really use him.

    Wallace is a great GM. First they give Gasol to the Lakers, (though if Marc is good that might not be too bad of a trade) then they trade a Love and miller for a bunch of guards. Who wouldn’t want 8 guards on your team and not a single person who can score inside?

  3. when does summer league start?

  4. 3. July 11 – 20.

  5. Gay-Love tandem no more. (It’s been repeated, but deserves to be used now when it will fizzle out in the next few days forever.)

  6. re: david lee – David Thorpe pointed out that the suns could have drafted lee but d’antoni was not interested.

    D’antonio really does not like offensively limited players, and lee, while gifted with hustle and rebounding, is just an backup, slightly overrated because of the new york market.

    His PER is 18.01, 14th best among pf, however his usage rate (14) is the lowest among the top 30, suggesting that he is very good at what he does – rebounding and getting garbage points. He is not a guy that can stretch defenses and maybe one of the players I would least like to take a shot in 7 seconds or less.

  7. I would think Lee is available only because he will need to be extended and the Knicks are desperate for cap space so they can chase the same FA class in 2010 that everyone wants a taste of. And while Lee is a good player and a (possible) contributor to a winning team, the Knicks have huge *salary cap space drains* in Crawford, Curry, Randolph, and Jeffries and need to try to dump those guys as well as keep their future spending under control in order to get under the cap. Putting my GM hat on, I would think that Lee is (also)available not only because he has an inflated value around the league and may command a high salary on his next contract, but also because he may be a piece that a team wants so desperately that they’d take on one of the Knicks bad contracts and help faciliatate cap space for New York.

    Honestly, I’m an off-season junkie. I love the moving and shaking that goes with GM’s trying to build a team. I love the Summer League, I love Free Agency, I love working with the Cap, and trying to find pieces that work for teams in order to build contenders. The off-season is when everyone can be looked at as a winner. Optimism (regardless of how awful a GM is) reigns supreme with every team as they are all trying to build a winner. And while no meaningful games are played, there are no X’s and O’s to analyze, the front offices are going at it HARD right now (or at least they should be) trying to find ways to make their respective teams stronger.

    And Kurt, I think that while Kirk is expensive, he’s actually got a contract that reduces in anual salary in the coming years rather than going up. So, over time his contract becomes less of a burden rather than more like Jermaine O’neal’s where the Raps are on the hook for something like 43 mil over the next two seasons. Ouch. So, any team that wants a decent PG and a guy that can defend and is willing to try and build back some lost confidence in the guy, I think Kirk would be a really good pick up for several teams, including the Clips, Heat, Wolves, Kings, etc.

  8. Honestly, I love the Mayo trade for Memphis. But only if they follow it up with a trade of one of their point guards:

    http://jonesonthenba.blogspot.com/2008/06/lets-make-deal-how-memphis-should-react.html

    I love Kevin Love on the offensive end. But I just don’t see how he is going to guard NBA fours. Could you imagine him trying to stick with STAT or even the recently drafted Michael Beasley? How about him trying to stick Kevin Garnett or Chris Bosh?

  9. JONESONTHENBA,
    I like your comments. Everyone is eager to jump on someone when they are down and then don’t want to see any good about them (see Kobe Bryant). Your comments about Love’s defense and the Griz running game – with a David Lee added – were a refreshing change on the usual analysis of a team player-by-player, instead as a group of players in a style of play.

  10. I think the Grizzlies actions on draft day re-iterate just how much faith they have in Marc Gasol being a solid pro. Assuming they’re right, a starting line-up of Conley, Mayo, Gay, Warrick, and Gasol, with Darrell Arthur, Javaris Crittenton and Kyle Lowry off the bench is a pretty solid group of players. Mayo is more of a 2 guard anyway, and if they just make one more trade, maybe trading one of their three PGs plus Warrick for a better PF, they’d be a pretty solid team (on paper anyway).

  11. 8: Team Defense matters more these days. And that is the real problem, as Love and Jefferson are not intimidating anyone out of the paint (I was impressed by Love’s on the ball shot blocking in ncaa, but think he is lacking as a help defender).

    Everyone talks about how hand-checking has opened the game for point guards, but I think interior D has become even more important. We saw it a ton in the playoffs – think how Utah could not keep Kobe from the rim, or how the Lakers could not keep Pierce away.

    You are right, the Mayo trade is better than most are giving them credit for. Everyone talked about new jersey and their young guys, but I would take conley-mayo-gay-arthur-gasol over harris-cdr-yi-williams-lopez

  12. Trying to recall correctly, but JONES makes a good point. I think the Bruins subbed Mata-Real in for defensive stops late in games.

  13. The Great Googly Moogly June 27, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    I’m still trying to figure out what MJ is doing. DJ Augustine with the 9th pick!? Can you name 1 5’10” player is worth a pick that high? Damon Stoudamire is questionable.

    I’m not sure I understand Larry Bird’s moves too. What’s their master plan? They have great athletic players to play a running type of game (Granger, TJ Ford, and others) plus other guys that like to run (Dunleavy) and they go and add Hibbard? HORRIBLE.

    and don’t get me started on Sacramento’s draft…..

  14. Lakers might have a hard time getting players to join their summer league squad. If I were a free agent, I’d be looking to play for teams that will be shaking up their roster quite a bit…not a team that needs to only fill 1 spot.

  15. Where are the lakers playing their summer pro league this year?

  16. IMO, the Lakers continue to do the right thing. They posture as a completed team while having considerable flexibility. This flexibility will diminish as they sign their restricted free agents: Sasha, Ronny, and DJ.

    Sasha will be #1 on their mind, since he is the one most likely to be lured away. They may or may not drag out discussions with the other two. If the Lakers sign both Turiaf and Mbenga right away as well, they are clearly more focused. Some have prematurely taken these signings for granted.

    I believe that the Lakers will remain interested spectators–hoping to jump in to rescue the right veterans under the right terms through trade–not moving too fast to sign their restricted free agents.

    The NBA draft and related trades will keep them looking at Miami, Detroit, and North Carolina–at the very least.

  17. They are playing in vegas!

  18. and long beach too, right?

  19. SPL in long beach no longer exists right?

  20. Unfortunatley the SPL lost too many teams over the years, and finally had to leave last year.

    I think the Lakers are in a good position. They can let teams manuver around and wheel and deal, while they sit back and watch. Maybe something falls into our lap later in the summer, maybe we add a free agent, maybe we stand pat, regardless, we are in control, and not dependent on anyone else. Thats good.

    I like New Jersey. Switch out VC for King James and that is a really nice squad.

  21. the other Stephen June 27, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    wow, so apparently mitch and co. thought that joe crawford would be drafted alot higher (via the post draft interview on lakers.com).

  22. Re Kevin Love:
    Stan Love was talking yesterday about how he used to showe Kevin footage of old-school ball players to influence his game. Looks like McHale fell in love with the idea of teaching Kevin Love some post moves, because, well, he would probably utilize them.

    I don’t think anybody has mentioned this, but who’s going to play center for the Wolves? Rookie Kevin Love will not be able to handle the NBA’s centers, and like Jones said, he might not even be able to defend fours in the NBA. Jefferson might also get worn down by centers, and I don’t think he’s much of a presence to be effective on the defensive end, particularly defending the lanes.

    Essentially, the Wolves traded the point guard that they desperately need, and the Grizzlies traded the depth they desperately need.

    It’s hard to figure out who won in this trade, because to me, both teams lost out!

  23. 19. I really miss the LB SPL, since it was so close to my house I saw a lot of games there. But, they tended to run the thing on the cheap and a lot of the teams were lured to a better financed, frankly better run product in Vegas. The players wanted to go where they would be seen by the most scouts, and that was Vegas (remember almost every player there is looking for a contract). Other teams left but the Lakers hung on and were able to convince a few other teams (the Griz used to come as long as West was in charge) but eventually even the Lakers had to go where the best players and other teams were.

    Kwame a., actually there was a SPL in Long Beach last year, but it was all agent teams, no pros, and the only people in the stands were international scouts. I went and as a hoop junkie and I only knew a few people.

    I was thinking of going to Vegas but I don’t think that is not happening.

  24. At 58th pick I’ll take it.

  25. 23. That’s a double-negative. See ya in Vegas Kurt! :D

  26. According to draftexpress, there are going to be a lot of PG prospects available next year. If I were the Clippers, I’d stand pat and wait a year, rather than take on Hinrich’s contract. Telfair and Udrih are available, too, I think.

  27. Just watched ‘Lakers Live’ and they talked about the past season and the upcoming one. They expect Bynum to come back strong, someday he will be 1st team all NBA. Nixon said – the game is won from the inside out. Pau just needs some more lower body strength. They all can not wait for training camp…
    Looks like a very good future for us.

  28. What did you folks think of Dick Vitale actually having a moment of cognition and throwing out the idea that the NBA should do what baseball does. If you get drafted out of high school, great. But if you don’t, you have to go to college for 3 years…

    Thought that was intriguing…

  29. James Jones is exploring free agency. I think the Lakers can use his shooting and height as an SF. Any thoughts?

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=3462005

  30. the addition of james jones would kind of be a luxury. i believe he wants to play somewhere where he’ll get steady minutes. i believe that’s the reason he’s looking to leave portland; there are players they’ll want to develop at the expense of his usual p.t.

    and he’s possibly looking for something at the full-midlevel for 4 or 5 yrs, a contract similar to the ones kapono and the ashton kutcher guy from utah have. I don’t know that the Lakers want to make that kind of committment. and plus, we already have a 3pt specialist: radmanovic.

  31. 29. Gatinho, I had read that idea somewhere before and thought it makes the most sense of what I have heard. I know why the NBA made this ruling (and wants to lengthen it), although I think it is more about the owners trying to save themselves from bad decisions than what is fair. I think if the baseball model makes more sense. To use the recently completed draft as an example, Rose/Beasely/Mayo and maybe Love would have been drafted and could have grown up in the NBA, but some of those freshmen could use another year or two of seasoning in college.

    14. I meant to write this earlier about the Summer League. The Lakers will not have trouble filling their roster. Yes, the ultimate goal of every guy at the summer league is to have an NBA scout like them and invite them to a camp, but the event is really a showcase of second-tier American players, guys who make a living in the minor leagues or overseas. While there are NBA guys at the Summer League, there are more international scouts and guys looking to fill out D-League rosters by far. Bottom line, the players want to be seen and get paid to play somewhere, so guys don’t turn down summer league invites based on the team’s NBA roster.

    When the league was in Long Beach and I had a media pass to the event I would often sit amongst the players (so did Eric Pincus and others) and it was interesting to hear them talk. Sprinkled in with the usual guy talk and some talk about other players where things like, “Hey, you played in Belgium last year, what was it like? Some scout just talked to me.” If you read Paul Shirley, it was more like his experience than guys like Bynum or Gay or the big names that go on from the summer league to stardom.

  32. Kurt and Gatinho,
    I too like that idea. While it won’t keep GM’s from reaching for talent from the pool of HS Players, I think it puts the player in a position where he must really evaluate his chances of being drafted at all and then act accordingly. A HS player would be much better off not declaring and proving after a year or two in College that he’s good enough, than being forced to stay in College for three years if he goes undrafted. The only problem I have with a rule like this for the NBA is that the league really doesn’t have an effective minor league system. At least in baseball, there is an established farm system that works and is a good way to evaluate players and have them climb the ladder to the Big Leagues. The NBA would be drafting HS players and if they’re fringe type players or players with huge *upside* (think Gerald Green) they’d end up at the end of a bench or in the D-league, and I don’t think those are the best places for young talent to develop their games. But losing, what (?), 12 freshman to the NBA, that’s not good for College Hoops and I don’t envision all of these guys will be contributors on their respective NBA teams. I do think that something needs to be figured out to make sure the health of the game is being looked out for. And that’s not the jobs of GM’s, they have to look out for their own teams. The NBA/NCAA/AAU/etc. need to have some sort of summit that addresses these issues. I know everyone is making a lot of money so changing things up may not be the most popular idea. I mean, as long as the NBA’s ratings hold or improve, and the NCAA Tourney is as popular as it is, I don’t see either of those entities doing anything that may affect their bottom lines. But America needs a better basketball system for the long term health of the game.

  33. Long term health of the game…

    Whose health? For us to think that businesses will look out for their potential employees before they are employed is sheer folly. That is not how the world works. Social Security was developed by the government to protect people because businesses would not develop such a system. It is not in the nature of an enterprise to work toward a greater good that doesn’t improve their bottom line – and generally right now, not years into the future.

    I am not anti business, but this is just a fact of human nature in our social system. Do not expect the NBA to look out for high school or college players. Do not expect the NCAA to look out for high school players (they barely look out for college players).

    You would think that a 3yr window for rookie contracts would reduce GMs appetite for very young players – they may very well lose them before they mature enough to help the club – but this doesn’t seem to be the case.

    I actually like the baseball solution and think that the Euro league and others could serve to feed the NBA those players who don’t go to college. One key for this would be to let players not drafted enter college and agents would be required not to charge players who are not drafted – NCAA, are you listening?

  34. Craig W.,
    When I say the long term health of the game, I mean the growth and development of the game for the long term. Stern has done a very good job of exploring world markets, working out tv deals, and even trying to figure out adequate solutions to issues surrounding early entry. But, what I also see is a lack of development of younger players so that they are better players when they actually enter the league. I know one of the reasons Stern wanted to have a 19 yr. old age requirement and/or a player being 1 year removed from their graduating class is because he would rather players earn some sort of recognition in College in order to further the *branding* of players and make them a better known commodity. And that’s fine for the Oden’s, Durant’s, Beasely, and Rose’s of the basketball world. But, I still think that the decline in polished skills and refined games by players entering into the NBA is not where it needs to be and GM’s are drafting more and more off of potential and upside rather than production and proven game(s). And these players (a lot of the time) are expected to produce and fall short or are just buried on the bench and don’t play. I don’t see how that helps the league at all.

    And while I don’t expect the NBA to look out for College or HS players, I think it’s incredibly short sighted to not invest in mechanisms, programs, etc. that can help raise the level of the game for the future. In this last draft 20% of the players drafted were College Freshmen. How many of those players are really ready to come in and be a meaningful contributor right away? Three? Four? Meanwhile, the overall level of play and quality of player in the NBA is weakened in order to accommodate players taking up roster spots that are not developed nor ready to play. And this isn’t just the Freshmen, it’s the Sophomores and Juniors too who have not been developed in College and who have coasted, relying on athleticism rather than real basketball skills. I think this is an issue. And the more we just let the current system play out, with *one and dones* and AAU teams showcasing kids for scholarships, and agents and powerbrokers advising kids rather than having processes (or whatever good ideas) in place to really look out for the players (and ultimately the product that’s put out on the floor) then I think we’re heading for a league down the line that suffers due to quality of play. Sure, we’ll always have the next phenom, the Lebron, or Kobe, or Oden, or Durant that is a special talent that (in some ways) can carry the league or provide an interest because they are so good or their skill level is so high. But what about everyone else?

    I think the entire system needs to be addressed. And ultimately, because the NBA is *the* professional league, and they are the ones that are going to have to sell a product to it’s fans, they should be spearheading this. They should be working with the NCAA and with AAU teams/coaches, and helping the kids get to the point where the game is better for the long term.

  35. I’d be delighted if Europe scooped up each and every star player from the high school and collegiate ranks. If the NCAA doesn’t share some of its revenue with its players, and/or provide an incentive for them to stay 4 years, then they’re going to allow the market to decide where the best and brightest players will be going.

    If I were Brandon Jennings, I’d scorn the NCAA even if became eligible.

  36. A few random thoughts.

    One year ago the Pacers wouldn’t trade O’Neal for Odom and held out for Bynum’s inclusion. This year they trade him for TJ Ford and Rasho Nesterovic.

    The Pacers create disharmony in the Rush family by drafting Brandon to take the place of Kareem.

    Those who think Spanish players are soft have never seen Nadal play.

  37. Darius,
    I agree with what you are saying 100%. David Stern wanted 2yrs college, but the player’s union wouldn’t agree to it in the last Collective Bargaining Agreement. This issue is negotiated between the owners and players. Any all-inclusive solution would have to come from above the owners/players/NCAA, in other words, the government – not a real pretty solution.

    With the decreasing return on the very young players, I would think the GMs would elect not to draft ‘longshots’. Apparently their fear of missing something overrides their judgment. I am always interested in the players ‘jumping up’ or ‘falling down’ the draft board between the end of the playing year and the draft. This hype seems to engulf everyone – fans and GMs alike. As professionals, I really wonder at these people buying into their own hype.

    One result of this is the increase in 1-on-1 play, offensive fouls not called, traveling, and illegal dribbles in today’s game. These things are no longer called because people want to see spectacular scoring, regardless how it is accomplished. Where it hurts us is in international play – where, for now, these faults are called and we are at a disadvantage (see Dwyane Wade).

    To the extent this kind of play is what people want, the game is not suffering, but purists (like me) will always have problems with it. I suspect this is one of the things you are referring to.

  38. Chibi,
    “If the NCAA doesn’t share some of its revenue with its players, and/or provide an incentive for them to stay 4 years”

    They are providing them the equivalent of 20-40K per year, depending on the school. Unlikely that they will want to share the revenue unless they see the revenue being affected by players leaving early, and so far I don’t think that has happened.

  39. exhelodrvr,

    take the case of brandon jennings: he’d receive, i read, around $200K per year. He’d be making enough in his first year to afford 4 yrs at Bennington. Clubs usually provide transportation and housing. He’ll be asked to devote himself entirely to basketball for 3 yrs, while earning income simultaneously. This has to be a pretty ideal situation for someone concerned primarily with making the leap to the NBA.

    If there’s a faster and more lucrative track than college basketball, then the NCAA will be bypassed.

    If jennings succeeds, better players will follow suit and start to trickle in, followed by media interest, merchandising, and television cameras. Europe will be where the best players compete. The NCAA will become about as relevant as Div II, in 10 or 15 years.

  40. Paying college athletes (especially those that play big revenue sports like Football or Basketball) will always be a good debate. While I think scholarships are obviously valuable and give these kids access to education and the potential for a good future beyond anything involving athletics, I still feel that in College athletics (again, especially Football and Basketball) the players commit so much time to the athletics side that payment beyond scholarship should be considered and it’s merits seriously debated. I mean, in 1999, the NCAA negotiated an 11 year contract with CBS for $6 Billion just for the rights to broadcast the Men’s Basketball Tourney. Think about that number for a second. $6 Billion. Now tell me how the players who play in that tourney (and even those that don’t, but contribute to it by playing conference games that decide the participants) should feel about a governing board like the NCAA getting that money to use however it pleases, while they go to school full time, put in all those extra hours on the court and in the weight-room trying to improve their game, and all while they can’t even receive any extra benefits (not even a paid dinner from some *friend of the program*) for their contributions to that contract. Sure, they get a scholarship, which I know is valuable (I’m still paying off student loans) but that’s their benefit. Needless to say, I think this needs to be examined a bit more closely.

    And Craig W., I’m with you 100%. Like I said in my earlier post, I just think that as the game gets younger while also getting less skilled and more reliant on athleticism, that we’ll start to see the effects of this in the form a lower quality product. What made the league so great 20 years ago was not just the presence of Bird, Magic, Jordan, et al, it was all the other role players who were supremely skilled and allowed those other players to flourish even more. I think we need to get back to a time when even the best players were more refined. I’ve always argued that the best players in the league aren’t just the ones who have the most athleticism, it’s the ones that combine that freakish athleticism with a tremendous skill game….KG, Kobe, Duncan (though he’s lost some of that athleticism after his knew operations)….even Shaq was incredibly skilled (though he never got the credit for it). Many of the best players over the last 20 years were dependent on fundamental skill, and we’re seeing less and less of that. It’s a problem that goes all the way down to the HS/AAU level and if the NBA wants as quality a product in the next 20 years that it had in the previous 20, I think this is something that needs to be discussed and looked at.

  41. Darius,
    I have been following the NBA since Jerry West was drafted by the Lakers, so I at least have a lot of years in the can. It is interesting to note that most people refer to the good old days and refer to the 80’s. That is really the only decade where there were a lot of very good teams – even if it was dominated by the Lakers and the Celtics. It was Magic and Bird who brought the NBA to its current popularity and there were other ‘well schooled’ players there at the time. Before that time and since then, the product has been continually disparaged. It is for this reason that I can’t agree with you that the game is sliding down hill in any kind of a talent way. The game is changing – yes – but that is partly due to customer demand and partly due to the tremendous amount of money now being thrown around.

    I really don’t believe in paying college students, though I do think the current restrictions on athletes are downright arrogant on the part of the NCAA. Again, baseball seems to have done this the right way – it is the only thing baseball has gotten right, however.

  42. Craig W., I actually agree with what you’re saying. In terms of *talent* I think that the NBA is just as strong as ever. The players are big, strong, fast, long, and just tremendous athletes. The players today are just way more advanced physically than the ones in the 80’s. But I think in terms of skills, ie shooting, dribbling, footwork, and overall fundamentals, the players are not as strong. Now, maybe nostalgia has me overrating the past players in these regards and the sloppiness that exists in today’s game is just fresh in my mind and was just as prevalent in past eras (just not as memorable). But the isolation heavy game of today where everything is based off the dribble and not as much based off ball/player movement leaves me wanting more from the current crop of players. I think that when you have players like Tim Duncan who are so effective and praised solely for their pure fundamental game, it’s just another indicator of how much other players are not playing this style (super athletic or not).

    I’m not trying to be a hater at all. I love the game. I love the players. But, I think that the current system that’s in place, with one and done players and a rigid NCAA, and all the pitfalls of HS/AAU teams showcasing individual performance that we are headed towards a decline. Basketball is the one sport where there is not a good development system in place. We’ve already discussed baseball, and in football, players can’t even enter the league until they are 3 years removed from their HS graduation. In these other sports players have the advantage of either playing in a legit minor league or going to 3 years of college, exposing them to coaching and development that basketball players don’t get. Not when the lure of (supposed) guaranteed money exists and an age limit requirement in place that is no more than a brief waiting period for these kids who can’t wait to leap to the NBA. I’m just looking for a re-evaluation of how players are developed in this country. One that takes into account our changing culture and the realities of our society with a vision of improving the game in the long run.

  43. Any insider can tell me how Crawford is doing in practice with team? R they going to sign him or D-LEAGUE!!!!!!

  44. 44. I think you’re going to have to wait until the Summer League in a few weeks to find out. We all are.

    40. It would (will?) be interesting to see what changes the NBA would make if it started losing players for three years or more to Europe. Right now, these kids grow up dreaming of playing in the NBA so there is that pull. But if Brandon Jennings is the first of a number of good players to go to Europe and get paid for say three years what would the NBA do? I think it would take a LeBron level player to really have that impact, or there would have to be a flood. But it would be interesting. And more interesting if one turned out to love playing for his team and decides to stay a few more years. What if after those initial years in Europe they were offered a big contract where if they came back they’d b in the rookie pay scale?

    That would be interesting to watch.

  45. Juan-I would defintley want the Lakers to take a look at James Jones. However, the Lakers would first have to settle on what they want to do about the small forward position going forward. This will be the most important decision made by the brain-trust. The best thing the lakers could do is what many on here have said, and that’s move a small forward over the summer (luke, vlad or trevor). I have nothing against any of those guys, I just think we need a different mix at the small forward, First and foremost I would look for a small forward who can DEFEND and shoot the 3. Last summer I was all about getting Posey and letting Luke walk, and with Posey a free agent again, I see no reason we shouldn’t at least give him a look, along with James Jones and other players can help the Lakers.

  46. kwame a., do you want a SF who can defend or do you want James Jones? I think those are two different things (yes, he’s better than Vlad, but is that the comparison you want to make?). To me, he’s another guy who can shoot the three but is iffy on defense, and I think we’re loaded with those players.

    Monday I’ll have up a free agent post where we can talk about guys the Lakers should consider. But to me, James is no Posey (but getting Posey out of Boston will be very hard).

  47. Hurt (45). Players staying in Europe for monetary purposes is already starting to happen. European plays that are drafted late in the first rnd (Tiago Splitter, perhaps Nicolas Batun) are not going to be willing to come to play in the NBA. They can make more playing in Europe because when they come here they will only be making a rookie level salary. This is a problem now because of the value of the Euro compared to the dollar. Why would you come here to make around 1-1.5m dollars a year (I think thats what a late first round rookie makes) when they can just stay in Europe and make 2-4 million Euros a year. Thats a hefty pay cut. Teams that draft promising European players late in the draft hoping to stash them in Europe for a couple years are taking a big gamble because they might never get to have those players on their team.

  48. I didn’t mean to say the Jones is the answer. But if we move say, Vlad, and Odom starts at the 3, I wouldn’t mind Jones to be his back-up, he is as athletic as Ariza, but a better shooter. As far as shooting, I think we could use shooters (provided they play d). Luke isn’t a good shooter, Vlad is streaky, same with Jordan and even Kobe and Fish to a point. Given consistent open looks Jones shoots a high 3pt percentage, and he probably would get such looks in our offense. I thought Vlad would be that guy, but his shot has never been consistent while with the lakers

    Boston will be hard pressed to replenish its roster, but I agree, if I were them, I wouldn’t let Posey leave.

  49. Ok, once more, with feeling. We have a $21M player and 2 $15M players (=$51M). When you add Derek @$5M, Vlade @ $6M, Luke @$4.5M you get a base of over $66M + rookie salaries. Where in the world would you get money for Posey or Jones? If you trade Vlade or Luke you are going to have to take back salary.

    This free agent stuff, with name players, really seems like playing in the clouds.

  50. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you can get money to spend on any free agent via the Mid-level exception which will not go against the salary cap. Of course, we still have to sign Sasha and Ronny, but I believe (could be wrong) we have the option to either use the mid-level exception for them or the Bird Rights exception on them. Yes, using either exception will add to the salary cap, but not the luxury tax. Is this right??

  51. AD,
    The exception are for teams above the salary cap so they can still get players. However,if a team’s salaraies goes above the Lux Tax,the team pays-exceptions are only for salary cap,not the lux tax.

    Eventually the D-League will turn into a regular minor league w/each team having a farm club. An interim solution is let kids be drafted,get a standardized signing bonus and they keep their NCAA eligibility. College has to take out an insurance policy for player,when he leaves school,team reimburses scholarship.

  52. Anyone watching the Euro Final? 1 nil Spain. What a finish. Way to separate from the crowd.

  53. The Clippers are not offering Livingston a qualifying offer making him a unrestricted FA. Not surprising, but I kind of feel bad for Livingston (that video of him hurting his knee is painful to watch). Does anyone know anything about his recovery? Does he have any chance to play again?

  54. For us basketball junkies, during this summer’s doldrums – our team is not likely to do much – I have a suggestion. My family got me a 5 DVD set labeled NBA Dynasty Series – Los Angeles Lakers. I found it on Amazon for $34. This is a great video history of the Lakers and should be a companion piece to Roland Lazenby’s book, “The Show”. Between rereading The Show and going through these DVDs covering Laker history back to Milken, we should be able to get through the summer. The set covers our team up through the 2002 Championship season. When we win another title or two perhaps they will add a 6th DVD.

  55. For you basketball junkies, while I appreciate your passion for the sport, the offseason should be used as a time to get away from the game for a couple months and recharge yourselves for the beginning of the regular season.

    Plus, atleast this year you can follow Team USA and other olympic sports this year. That should pass the time well enough. Especially since the Lakers will not be very active this offseason other than signing their own players. I doubt they’ll make a move for Artest, Posey or any other viable free agent. Kupchak would like to see how the Lakers (at 100%) will look next year.

  56. The Lakers have developed a credible long term plan that takes into account starters, role players, and salaries. This year, Andrew is likely to graduate upwards into the starter role. Last year, Pau Gasol became the power forward, and Derek Fisher became the starting point guard.

    In 2008, if Ariza develops as expected, Trevor will negotiate a long term contract and become the starting small forward the year after. The player who must rebalance the team in the meanwhile is the veteran small forward–who might also serve as a mentor to Trevor. That veteran player must see the writing on the wall and either be willing to radically renegotiate his salary with the Lakers down–or be prepared to become a free agent.

    Right now, the Lakers don’t have that kind of veteran player.

    The Lakers may or may not have a deeper problem: the projected starting power forward and center have never played together. Some experts have expressed strong doubts about how effective they will be playing on court at the same time. Under those conditions, the Lakers may revert to their 2007 starters half of the time or more. In other words, ihnstead of having a 3, 4, and 5, the Lakers would often have one 4 1/2 and two 3 1/2’s.

    If this is to be a year of transition to starting for both Andrew and Trevor, the Lakers desperately need Lamar at the 4, working with Pau at the 5 much of the time.

    If Bynum and Gasol work well together, and Bynum is clearly the starter, it would be better for Gasol to focus entirely on the 4, and Lamar would need to focus entirely on the 3–sharing with Ariza. Luke would probably also work at the 3, but VladRad and Ronny would back up Gasol at the 4. Mihm and Mbenga would back up Andrew at the 4.

    Under those circumstances, Lamar may become more the problem than the solution. Even under the best of circumstances for Lamar, he would only have one more year as a starter. It would then be financially hard to pay much more for Lamar than VladRad, Luke, or any other quality role player.

    This is the dilemma facing the Lakers as they move forward into 2008. If the Lakers could find a veteran small forward who would like to showcase his skills for a year, it might be in Lamar’s interest to be traded this year to better downstream prospects.

  57. drrayeye,
    Nice take on the physiological aspects of team dynamics. The problem with trading Lamar is his salary. We must bring in 1/2 expiring contracts to make this work. I really don’t see any action by the organization until the trading deadline. Perhaps the Lakers privately talk to Lamar along the lines you suggest and tell him they will try to move him midyear, but I don’t see any upside to moving him now, before we know much about the Bynum/Gasol/Ariza dynamics.

  58. Hi Craig,

    It’s not clear that the Lakers have an option to trade Lamar, but they might. I suspect that the Lakers will continuously monitor possibilities.

    So far, I’ve come up with 3 or 4 scenarios that are credible–and the draft has, if anything, made them a bit more likely. If the Lakers make a trade, the timing will be out of their control, but I’d predict the trade will happen by the beginning of training camp in October–or not at all.

    Monitoring these scenarios will at least give me something to do until October!

  59. I think alot of the Bynum-Gasol worry is vastly overblown. Phil-and Tex-prefer their PF to work around the high post,where he can shoot,pass or drive. Just what Gasol’s skill sets are designed for. Bynum will work the weak side,setting screens,going backdoor,setting up on diagonal from Pau low-post where quick reversal will get him the ball,and above all free to crash the offensive glass.-which happens to be what Bynum is best at right now.

    With Gasol in training camp and Tex having spent the summer thinking about his skills,I believe we’re about to see Triangle 4.0. T1 was Pippen as the pivot the offense moved around,T2 was Shaq,T3.1 and T3.2 were Lamar and Kobe and not as successful, and T4 will revolve around Gasol.

  60. Maybe the Lakers already have a veteran small forward and his name is Kobe Bryant. In which case, the Lakers need either a PG who can create, in which case Sasha can start at the 2, or a SG who can create, moving Sasha over to the 1. But this is pure speculation.

    I think the team returns largely the same. Lamar has a large expiring contract whose value rises as the trading deadline approaches. So in essence, if the experiment works, Lamar gets an extension, if it doesn’t he is converted to other pieces. The only question for me is whether Ronny comes back or not. At the right price he does but the team must be concerned about the collapse in Turiaf’s energy and game near the end of the season and playoffs. He is not an enforcer either. If Ronny goes, I like giving Craig Smith a go, an unrestricted FA and possibly the strongest widebody in the league. Or even bringing back MBenga.

  61. I’d like to see Craig Smith considered as well. He’s not much different from Paul Milsap, butwill come at a cheaper price. If the Lakers lose Ronny, it would be a big loss but not a devastating one.

  62. Bill Bridges,

    You’re right about Ronny’s disappearance late. Especially against the Celtic’s. We really could’ve used that energy and attitude in that series, when the Celtics seem to get into other player’s heads with the chatter. But I think it made sure the Lakers did not get priced out of keeping him. i don’t see anyone offering him too much, because he gets into foul trouble too much, and needs to be a stronger rebounder. I think Ronny can improve, but needs to keep his confidence up. I’d like to see him work on being a more aggressive rebounder, and work on his back to the basket game.

  63. I’d like the Lakers to take a chance on Mickael Pietrus from GSW. He’s athletic, young, has a defensive mindset, and he’s french–if anything Ronny would have a new best friend to coordinate dances with…

  64. New Free Agent post up.

  65. This is a hilarious video about the Lakers this last season.

    http://my.break.com/content/view.aspx?ContentID=476792