Fast Break Thoughts

Kurt —  July 1, 2008

Lots of news out there, like we’ll be seeing plenty of Beno for the next five years. So, thought it was time for a new thread and some new thoughts.

• If you didn’t see this yet (Ryan had it in the comments), apparently Baron Davis has a verbal deal with the Clippers (remember, nothing on paper until July 9). It’s interesting to watch Barron Davis and Elton Brand seeming to try to recreate what the Celtics did last year, make a contender out of not much else by bringing the stars together. The difference is that Boston’s Big Three were able to go to a place where there was an already established star to create a trio. And, that was a star who meshed perfectly with the games of the incoming player. Davis and Brand make a wicked pick-and-roll combo, but who else on the Clippers scares you? And with Davis’ history and Brand coming off the injury, how many games do they play together? The Clips would get better, 6 to 8 seed better, but I don’t see them as contenders.

• In all the talk about this year’s free agents, one thing little discussed so far has been Andrew Bynum. This summer the Lakers can work out their first major deal with him, even though it would not kick in until the 09-10 season (this next season he is still under his rookie deal). Is Bynum worth max money? I would say a five year deal in the $65-$70 million range sounds about right. But Andrew’s agent wants max money (no shock there). The key here is to work this out without creating bad blood.

• By the way, in case you missed it, the Lakers made qualifiying offers to Sasha and Turiaf, which means they can match any deals. Now the Lakers just have to negotiate a deal they feel comfortable with.

• What does all that mean, how does this cap/tax thing work, you ask? Start herw.

• My favorite comment out of the last post on free agents came from Karl:

I say re-sign Kwame Brown and then promptly get Chris Wallace to trade us Rudy Gay for him.

• I still think Nadal looks like the best player in London. He would have beaten Federer last year had it not been for the injury, I think this year he makes the jump. That said, I’m rooting for Murray.

• Does anyone think Maggettee will make more money next year than he would have with the Clippers?

• Marc Gasol got three years, $10 mil from the Griz. If he turns out to be a solid backup center, that’s a nice deal for both sides. It will be interesting to see what kind of player he is this upcoming season.

• I’m not sure which annoys me more, the ESPYs or finding dog crap on my front lawn.

• It’s starting to come togher and there is interest, so later this summer we will have FB&G T-shirts for sale. A lot of details to be worked out, but the goal is to do something cool but keep the costs reasonable. Then, just for fun, I’ll send one to Henry Abbot (big Blazers fan) and one to Tom Ziller (Sactown Royalty) just because it would make me laugh. COD, of course.

236 responses to Fast Break Thoughts

  1. Darius,

    I like how you present and support your arguments for Lamar. It is even keel and shows that Lamar brought a decent game and was a vital part of the Lakers success this season.

    Honestly, Mitch Kupchak has the easiest job of any GM this summer. All he has to do is sit on his hands and let the team play come Oct 31. The team as is deserves a chance to play out this season because it is so loaded with talent and needs some time to develop with each other. It will all come down to how we defend teams with the addition of Bynum anchoring the defense and deterring shots. That was a key part of his game that he started to showcase just before he went down. If Lamar can’t handle a quick SF, then we can bring in Ariza. Ariza’s struggles came from lack of exposure to the triangle. He was also a midseason acquisition and then got injured. So it’s hard to have judgment on him offensively until training camp and the first 2 months of the season are completed.

    I see the Lakers FO treating this year as an experiment. If Lamar proves he can make an impact and contribute they’ll offer him a decent offer. If the Lakers don’t get to/win the Finals, I’m sure the FO is letting Lamar walk or actively trying to get some value back. They will let THIS team contend for a championship, but if they come up short, don’t expect Buss to shell out money to Lamar.

    The problem with Lamar is that you hear he’s such a team guy, and how the team always comes first, and then you find out he’s out partying and drinking after a game in the Finals (I believe it was after game 5…and we all know how he played in game 6). I know it’s his body, life, and free time but seriously I want someone that is dedicating everything to winning a championship and getting adequate rest and looking forward to the big game is more important than drinking and relaxing in that way. He has the whole summer to do that kind of thing; I can’t believe he would do that before the biggest game of his life. That is something I would never see Kobe doing and that’s where I thought Kobe got through to the players, about the seriousness about winning. I guess some players will still do their own thing, and provide the effort they are willing to contribute. Disregard this last paragraph if it is found that Lamar wasn’t partying but I’m certain it is.

    I just accept Lamar for what he is and realize that we may need to go in another direction in clutch situations.

  2. Since we once again come around to Lamar’s salary I have a suggestion. Stop all this discussion; leave Lamar with the team, filling in where needed; wait until next year to make any decision.

    Doing this we will accept Lamar as he is and decide on his worth to the team next summer. His salary is a fixed amount for next year – keep him or trade him – so let’s agree to move forward.

  3. Xavier,
    “without him there would not be the Lakers in 08 finals.”

    That’s not a valid argument, unless you are assuming that he would have disappeared from the team in pre-season and not been replaced.

  4. I agree with all your points Travis, except that the FO is gonna treat this upcoming season as an experiment. I think the objective from the top-down is championship, which is why this Lamar thing is such a difficult thing. Say you start the season and by the tradedeadline its obvious Lamar isn’t working at the 3. Then a trade has to be made and the new acquisition is in the same position Pau was in last year. There is no telling if another player can come in as seamless has Pau did, so trading him mid-season is not ideal. However, trading before we even see what a lineup with him at the 3 would look like may be jumping the gun and preventing a great thing from happening. This is what Mitch must deal with.

    Again, ideally, Lamar improves his outside shot, finds out how to cut with Pau at the high post, drew on the block and defend oppossing SF’s. If the FO is confident he can do this, I am confident he stays.

  5. kwame a,
    I agree – this is not a season to be used to “figure out the best lineup for 2009-10, when we’re really going to try to win the title.” The primary goal this season will be to win the title, developing players for the future will be a distant second.

    Craig W,
    The problem with taking a wait-and-see attitude with Lamar this season is that the team loses the value of his contract in a trade, which is significant, on the hope that he will be a perfect fit as a SF.

  6. Warren’s #185 cut to the heart of the problem. The Lakers are paying over $13mil to 3 back-up SFs(Rad,Walton,Ariza.) Kobe is going to play 38+minutes. Where are the minutes for a FA SG/SF?
    Until the Lakers move Radmanavic and/or Walton,the team is severely limited in roster spots and salary.
    Lost in all the Lamar talk is the need for another PG to start grooming for Fisher’s replacement-and overall depth at the position.

  7. Could we move the conversation to Vlad ?

  8. exhelodrvr,
    Lamar’s contract has at least as much value as a space clearing measure so we can pay other players currently on the roster as it does for trade purposes. That is the thing most of the bloggers don’t seem to think about.

  9. Craig W,
    Not if you are trying to address the weaknesses on the roster.

  10. 203. For most of his carreer Lamar has underachieved and its been overvalued. We are talking this because of his contract.

    Who got the rebounds in this team? Gasol? man I’ve seen him since 14 and now in late 20’s and get the same kind of rebounds. Those who fall in its hands. And don’t get me wrong, I love that Gasol guy.

    The ball movement Odom gave this team would be really tough to match. The fastbreak after grabbing the board.

    He has limitations but even if the SF thing didn’t work we could set a 3 man rotation at the PF and C with LO, Gasol, Bynum plus Turiaf and Mihm arround that… heck, It’s killing. Just play the matchups, the league is 82 games long and injuries and foultrouble come and goes.

    As you guys said, some of his skills are redundant but if I don’t get a proven NBA starter by moving him I’m all-in with this LO-at-SF experiment.

  11. The beginning of addressing the weakness on the roster is to get Andrew and Trevor back for the entire year. That is priority one.

  12. Craig W,
    I agree re ANdrew and Trevor – and they make Lamar redundant to a significant degree.

  13. Looks like it will be Nadal Vs Federer as expected in the finals. I want to pick Rafa in the finals but its hard to pick against Federer, the guy is basically unbeatable on grass, but I do think this is Rafa’s year.

    Bynum being cleared for practice is good news (if true) is good news. Hopefully he works just as hard this off season as he did over the last one.

    I agree with Craig W. getting Ariza and Bynum back (and hopefully improved over the summer) for the whole year is priority #1 along with resigning Sasha and to a lesser extent (since he would be easier to replace) Turiaf are priority #1.

  14. That’s why my comment about Lamar’s contract being a bogus issue at this time. Wait a year and we will have money to pay our blossoming squad or trade now and lock ourselves into luxury h**l for the next 4-5 years and limit what our youngsters can get from us.

  15. Sasha & Turiaf need to be signed this year, Trevor next year, and Farmar the year after. This is all on top of Bynum’s contract. We have a steady wave of contracts coming up – the way the FO likes (and planned) the situation. Having them all come at once – like Kobe and Pau – is not a good situation. This is what we need to be discussing – and why I feel letting Lamar walk after next year may be the best strategic tactic.

  16. exhelodrvr,
    The Lakers wouldn’t lose value on Lamar’s contract unless he got hurt. It would be worth something alone just because it would be expiring next season, plus with his versatility, a team would see it as a bonus. Don’t forget, teams take much lesser players just for contracts (Kwame). Teams would just see it as a loaded team that is too loaded and Lamar isn’t the SF, not as Lamar is a failure. The Lakers would have the leverage, because they do not have to deal him.

  17. Its not like there are any great realistic trade options for Lamar. Of the scenerio’s mentioned, Griz are not likely to use their room, Philly will try and probably sign, Josh Smith, Josh Childress, and/or Corey Maggetee, and the Warriors are presumably going make a push for some of the top restricted fa’s if they cant get Brand or Corey. Thus, it seems unlikely that we will find a partner at this point for Lamar.

    So, if we assume Lamar will not be traded, I am back to a point I made earlier about minute distribution. How will the minutes be distributed among Lamar, Sasha (assuming he’s resigned), Ariza, Walton, and Rad? Look, its Phil and he probably will give Walton and Rad some burn. Even w/o a FA we have an issue of time distribution and if we do sign a good FA, how would Phil work it?

    This is where I agree with Craig. Drrayeye, I feel like you are simply dismissing Lamar in assuming that the FO does not like him. However, there is no clear indication that they do not indeed like him. As others have stated, Mitch is in a good/bad place as all he has to do is sit tight. If he moves (Lamar) now, its jumping the gun. If it appears it is not working, the same if not more possibilities will be open later.

    Finally, the midlevel hasnt exactly been kind to us, going back to Gary Payton. We all see how much of a mistake Vlad is now, but who is to say that we wont consider Posey the same type of mistake after 2 years or so? It seems like the Finals, when he played good defense, was gifted open 3s due to the terrible defensive rotations and rebounding, and made some ill advised fallaway 3s. And do we really want another 5 yr deal especially will the impeding extension to Drew, or would we rather wait to see Ariza’s development or how the current team works? I’d prefer the later.

  18. wonda,
    If the main goal is maximizing his value in a trade, then yes, his contract is worth more after the season starts. But if the Lakers are looking at making a serious run at the title this season, then (as others have noted) bringing in other players in the middle of the season is not the best way to do it. That is aweakness of the triangle – the learning curve involved.

  19. Great discussion.

    I think that the Lakers need to stick to their strategy of resigning and reassembling their team from last year while staying in the loop for trades. It is a posture of strength.

    The Lakers already have Trevor, and I’ve seen no dark clouds around Sasha and Ronny negotiations. Coby Karl isn’t going anywhere. If they want Mbega, I think that they have a long window of opportunity to re-sign him. The Lakers even have a backup to consider–just in case: Mo Evans, if Sasha moves into the high rent district.

    The Lakers have Sun Yue as a serious “big time” draftee to consider that could well be as good as a first round draft choice. We’ll see him in the Olympics.

    I do not think that the Lakers, as constituted, are out of balance. Here is how I see the front court depth chart for next year (keeping Odom out for the moment):

    C) Bynum + Mihm +???
    PF) Gasol + VladRad+Ronny
    SF) Ariza + Walton+???

    I believe that Odum can rotate into both SF, PF, (and occasionally PG) positions as a classic 6th man, dropping into a starting role at PF if Gasol starts or moves to Center. Others can move accordingly. That removes the question marks, keeps top players on the floor, allows strategic substitutions, and provides redundancy for the inevitable injuries.

    Unlike some who want Lamar to work on his three, I’d prefer that he take some dance classes (not at the clubs) and spend times in the weight room–maybe gaining weight and agility at the same time–and work on his free throws. I’d prefer that Odum took no three’s at all this summer.

    As Warren and Craig suggested, using the midlevel exception on free agents each year pushes a team toward luxury tax extremes. It is decisions made in previous years that really make free agent and trade decisions dicey this year, and already point to some difficult negotiations next year–even if the mid level is not used at all this year.

  20. Ahhhhhh………..the dog days of summer.

    All of you who are worried about our #3 spot……Ariza will take care of that. With him and LO battling for the starting #3, it leaves us with 2 overpaid bench players fighting each other for the remaining minutes (Luke and Vlad). I’m sure we all agree that if we were to trade anyone, #1 and #2 on the IDEAL list would be Luke and/or Vlad. Since that would be close to a miracle, we all have to brace for the fact that we might be stuck with them, for better or worse. Although, I’d trade one of them for a “bad contract” big or PG (would love to have J Critt back), just to give us some depth.

    Now of course, I’m in the camp of keeping LO and using him as our super sub 6th man. I personally think he’ll flourish in that role. In addition, some of you have mentioned that LO can also be used at the PF spot in certain matchup situations and in case of injury. For that alone, we should keep him. Remember, we have 2 PF (Gasol, Turiaf) and 2 centers (Bynum, Mihm). LO can be substituted in case an injury to any combination of those players, which is highly likely given all 4 of those players’ history. Now of course, LO’s contract is not justified but I think if the season goes well next year…….we should play a little hardball (depending on Ariza’s success which I can guarantee) and offer him 7-9/mil max. If he wants to get paid…..let him walk and use the rest to pay Ariza, Bynum, and Farmar.

    Either way, I think it would be foolish to go after Posey and pay him the MLE UNLESS we can somehow trade Vlad or Luke (maybe package one of them with Mihm’s expiring??). I for one, think that is too much of a risk and the likelihood of trading Luke or Vlad are slim.

  21. What do you all think of Corey Maggette?

    Would you pick the lakers over the Celtics w/ Posey on your side, and CM on their side?

    How about CM on the C’s, and you all with no-posey?

  22. kwame a.,

    Thanks for the feedback, I hope the team can retain Odom and like our team as is. I agree with Craig W. that we can seriously evaluate our team a year from now and must wait to try anything drastic. Our core is excellent and we will be knocking on the door every year for the next 5 yrs… or whenever Kobe’s finished playing at his stellar level.

  23. Warren Wee Lim July 4, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    Jay – Maggette? No thanks. Let him go to the C’s – just not the Spurs.

    Craig, this is the part where our “financial minds” differ.

    So you are saying that we stand pat this year, see how Lamar fits in all this, pay the tax, forego Posey even if he signs with us and just let Lamar expire?

    I think in saying that some of the guys need to be paid argument is valid – but letting Lamar expire for absolutely nothing is quite hard for me to take. Esp now that he has upped his value well enough to be desired. I am not pushing for the Posey trade, better with but fine without is my stance here, but owning Lamar for 1 season just to “test” and lose all of him next is where my GM instincts disagree.

    For instance, a running team somewhere in California is slowly earning its honor for “most disgraceful summer”. Odom for their cap space would mean redemption. AS for us, guess what, its redemption from tax hell as well. But the advantage of doing this is to get out of the tax THIS YEAR as supposed to NEXT YEAR when we see one of our better assets walk out the door. So a trade exception worth 14.5m maybe the answer to all our problems – and here’s the catch: because we are sending out pure value, we can actually demand a pick back or two (the ones we lost to Gasol) and maybe even a little-used rookie from last year.

    All I am saying is that LETTING LAMAR EXPIRE is the “lazy-GM” stance. Mitch would welcome this wholeheartedly if it meant signing Sasha and Ronny was the only thing he was supposed to do this year. So lets not allow the GMOY runner up to be “lazy”…

  24. That’s 25 million in salary on inconsistent forwards. And that’s not including Ronny, who’s not very consistent either.

    There has to be a move made.

  25. Travis,
    “I agree with Craig W. that we can seriously evaluate our team a year from now and must wait to try anything drastic”

    That’s a dangerous game to play.

  26. 225 – And its not dangerous remove a core player from a NBA Finalist whose future looks promising?

  27. Probably one of the important moves a year from now will be signing Sun Yue for the 09/10 season. The ‘Club Lakers’ link has some video of him.

  28. Some inconvenient truths

    Without Sasha or Ronny signed, the Lakers are alredy almost $17 million over the salary cap at almost $76 million. With Sasha and Ronny, we can suppose $81million (13 players). Sun Yue might make it $82 million (14 players). So, the Lakers might be $24+ million over the salary cap THIS YEAR. If the luxury tax threshold is $71 million, the luxury tax could be $11+ million THIS YEAR without signing any mid level exception. Even supposing that the Lakers get some of that luxury tax money back, the team is already in a financially vulnerable position even before the difficult negotiations of 2009.

    Most teams in the NBA have a similar version to what the Lakers are facing in the next few years–and it leads them to do crazy things if they are not sufficiently disciplined in the timing of their contracts. Few of them have had as much success in putting together a balanced roster of players.

    The Lakers have 6 expiring contracts this year (half their team) and they might want to keep all the players for 2009. Four of them might sign contracts that would make them core players. One of them currently earns $3 million more than the other five combined.

    Given that the Lakers are already well into the luxury tax this year, and that players with multiyear salaries will get pay increases for 2009, where is the additional contract money going to come from to sign these key players and give them sufficiently attractive salaries to keep them for 2009?

    This is a question all of us must ponder as we recommend acquisitions and trades.

  29. Happy Fourth everyone.

  30. drrayeye, I had not noticed that, but yes half the team’s contracts are up next year. I read here in an earlier thread about why teams should not have all of their contracts expiring in the same year. Here we are now with many expiring next year. Well unless there are trades of some kind, the Lakers are staying the way they are currently, it would seem.

  31. 226)
    Lamar’s strongest points – rebounding and an inside offensive game – are now provided by others. He is not strong in two of the Lakers weakest areas (outside shooting from SF/PF/C and perimeter defense). Can they address those areas and still keep Lamar? I’m not sure they can. (Perimeter defense would seem to be addressed by Ariza, but you can’t play him very much if you’re playing Lamar.)

    Is it better to take a chance on this roster, or should they try to address their specific weaknesses?

    (Note that my personal preference would be a three-man rotation of Gasol/Bynum/Odom for the C and PF positions, but I doubt that the coaching staff will do that.)

  32. (231) exhelodryr,

    I’m with you, but I suspect that the coaches are already “there” too. That is a very likely scenario if the Lakers continue to be unable to trade Lamar for someone(s) who can respond to the deficiencies you mention.

  33. the other Stephen July 5, 2008 at 8:50 am


  34. 227 – You mean Odom? I’m not suggesting we trade Odom, I’m just saying that’s almost half of the allotted salary cap on inconsistent forwards. That’s not how Buss rolls.

  35. Interesting discussion on Odom. New post up finally dealing with the three, particularly the favorite of many in Ron Artest. I think what to do about the three (if Posey fits in, what about LO beyond this year) is by far the toughest issue Mitch faces.