Fast Break Thoughts

Kurt —  July 7, 2008

Not much news today as we await the opening of the free agent signing period (Wednesday) and the Summer League (Friday for the Lakers). But, a few thoughts

• If you didn’t see the update on Sasha and Turaif — the Lakers made their qualifying offers but those two are trying to find another team to make a bigger, better offer. As was said before free agency started, they are in a tough spot — other teams don’t make offers to restricted players like them because they think (or know) the Lakers will just match it. So why go through the effort. It’s one thing to make an offer to Josh Smith that Atlanta may or may not match, but for a mid-level at best bench guy that’s not a priority.

So, we wait. It’s a business, which is not always about what is fair.

• By the way, still waiting to see the roster for the Summer League team, which starts play Friday. If you see it put it in the comments and I’ll add it.

UPDATE: Via the Daily News, here is an early version of the roster:

Cedric Bozeman … Former UCLA guard.
Joe Crawford … Second-round pick in last month’s draft from Kentucky.
Davon Jefferson … Forward from USC.
Coby Karl … Backup guard with the Lakers last season.
Marcelus Kemp … Undrafted guard from Nevada.
Yi Li … Forward from China.
Lorenzo Mata-Real … Undrafted forward from UCLA.
Here’s the Lakers’ summer league schedule (all games in Las Vegas):
Friday vs. Detroit, 5 p.m., Cox Pavilion.
Sunday vs. Memphis, 5 p.m., Cox Pavilion
July 15 vs. Philadelphia, 5 p.m., Cox Pavilion
July 16 vs. Minnesota, 5:30 p.m., Thomas and Mack Center
July 18 vs. Toronto, 5:30 p.m., Thomas and Mack Center
July 19 vs. Denver, 3:30 p.m., Thomas and Mack Center

• Let’s get to the important stuff — did you see the Nadal/Federer final? If not, watch it tonight on ESPN Classic, that was the most amazing tennis match I’ve ever seen. Unbelievable winners with the game on the line — that may have been the most impressive part. Like real champions they both kept upping their game with their backs to the wall. Somebody said in the comments that Federer may actually have helped his legacy with that match despite losing, and I agree. The greats need a foil (Magic had Bird, for example) and now Federer has his on grass. And it made Federer more human. I would love to see him win the US Open now.

• This shows up occasionally, someone suggesting the Lakers trade Vlad or Luke (sometimes for someone good). No team is going to take on one of those bad contracts, unless they are paired with some real talent or something a team does want. You will not be able to trade them as is, teams do not just take on bad contracts to help you out.

• I read a note today that said “Okalahoma City’s pick Russell Westbrook…” and it made me sick. I’d really like to pin down Jeannie or Jerry Buss on this issue and why they voted to approve this move. Why they thought it was good for the league?

• I think next season Portland and the Clippers (if Brand re-signs as expected) move into the playoffs in the West. The interesting question then is, who drops out? (Assuming teams remain healthy. We can expect one team to drop due to injuries.)

Kurt

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157 responses to Fast Break Thoughts

  1. THANK YOU for the moratorium on the Lamar debate. I think PHX, Dallas, and Denver, and Houston (given the injuries from T-Mac and Yao all of the time) are in jeopardy of losing their footing in the West. I think Portland will be a top 3 team in the West. I also think Memphis will improve alot, not a playoff team, but I think they now have a nice young team to move ahead with. Did I say think too much….?

  2. RE Nadal vs. Federer: The perfect example of why sports are so amazing. Two competitors fighting it out for a title. Amazing athleticism, mental toughness, will to win….just a transcendant performance from both guys.

    RE Sasha and Turiaf: Is there an offer for either/both that the Lakers would not match? What if someone offers Sasha the full mid-level? What about 4-4.5 mil per year? What about a 3.5-4 mil offer for Turiaf? What does anyone think? I think that if it gets that high for either guy, it will be tough to match that type of offer considering the Lakers cap level and their luxury tax concerns.

    RE Next years playoffs: I think we see one of two scenarios. Either 1). Portland and The Clippers do improve but everyone else performs well again, the conference is brutal again and they still don’t get in. Or 2). Older teams like Phoenix and Dallas have some sort of injury that pushes them out. I know that this can be said for almost every team, but what if Dirk goes down? Or Nash? Or STAT? The margin of error by those 2 teams (specifically) has dropped a great deal with the trades they made last season. We all know that if Shaq plays in all 82 games that it will be a minor miracle (while Marion is one of the most durable players of this era), so imagine if Phoenix loses one of those other guys? I don’t think either of those teams can survive an injury, while I think the Spurs, Lakers, and Jazz have the systems and players to at least play .500 ball until a major player would return from injury. I also count the Hornets as a team that couldn’t compete w/o Paul. If he goes down, all bets are off for Nawlins.

  3. The reason owners vote to allow other owners to move is that they don’t want to set a precedent that could hamper them in the future – either if they might want to move or that they might incur some legal liabilities.

    It really is too bad the owners pay David Stern’s salary. It would be nice if the Player’s Union paid half of it and had half the input – then there might be a semblance of balance.

  4. Re: Nadal and Federer: overall that was the best match I’ve seen, but the 4th set tiebreaker in the 80 Borg/McEnroe match was off the scale.

    This was the best Federer has looked since he came down with mono and he has alot of motivation now. Rafa is like D Wade – he is great to watch but you wonder how long his body can hold up.

    With Djokovich, Murray, Gulbis, Gasquet, Bagdatis, Tsonga, Berditch (did I leave anyone out?) all roughly Rafa’s age or less, men’s tennis is, to me, the best sport in the world now.

    It’s been nice not to have to think about the Lakers. My hope is they keep Sasha and Ronny and with their depth they shoulds get some good trade offers by mid-season, if things don’t mesh. But the salary cap is a problem and Radman and Luke’s contracts really mess things up.

  5. The Nadal/Federer match was the best tennis match I have ever seen. I haven’t been watching a lot of tennis for the last few years (really since Federer beat Sampras in his last Wimbledon) and then when I decide to start watching tennis again I get rewarded by watching one the best matches ever.

    I say the Hornets, Jazz, Lakers, Spurs (depending on Manu’s health) are 1-4 in the west. The last four spots will be a tough fight between the Suns, Mavs, Rockets, Portland, Denver, and the Clippers. Out of those 6 teams I’d say the Rockets (if healthy) and Suns are the two best bets to make it. If I was forced to make a prediction, I’d say Portland makes the playoffs and Dallas does not.

  6. RE Federer v. Nadal: One thing that shouldn’t be overlooked is that Wimbledon doesn’t have a fifth set tiebreaker, which really pushed those two to continuously up their game in the biggest spot possible while knowing they were going to have to play it out. Just amazing, amazing tennis. The US Open should be a ton of fun.

  7. It is really funny how people talk about Walton & Vlade’s contracts being a problem and, between them they only account for $10.5M next year. Yet people also talk about bringing in a ‘name’ player who is likely to be making something close to Luke & Vlade’s salary. If their salary is a major problem now, just think what a problem it would be if we brought in another ‘big gun’.

  8. Bingo T. Klown July 7, 2008 at 11:58 am

    RE Sahsa

    There was an interesting article on Hoopsworld where Spurs Matt Bonner said that he realized how injured Manu was when he saw Ray Allen blowing past Sasha. The point of the article was that the Spurs series was Sasha’s coming out party and much of it had to do with his defense on Manu. however the fact that Manu was much less manu-like than normal may have led many to believeing Shasha was better then he actually is.

    Now with the fact that Manu was much worse off than previously indicated, Sasha’s value may be a bit overstated on his part.

    This is not to say we shouldn’t resign him, but we should wait to see what the market bears out. I would hate to have another contract that is hard to move e.g. Vlad and Luke.

    Same goes for Ronny. I like him but I would not over pay for his services.

  9. Summer League games being streamed live on http://www.orlandomagic.com

  10. Bingo T. Klown July 7, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Craig W.

    I think there is a chasm between starters and bench players, much like a chasm between lower and upper class.

    Because the top players take up so much cap space and each team seems to need at least 3 guys like this, there is more intense scrutiny put on how to divide the remaining allotment of cash for the other 12 guys. So when you have 2 guys playing the same position making that “middle income” you start looking at the value of each in relation to team weakness/needs. And you throw in a cheaper, more athletic though untested 3rd option in Ariza, it just magnifies the issue.

    I think teams would be more willing to say trade for Maggette at say $8-9 mil than Vlad or Luke at $5-6 mil because Maggette has more of a chance of being that third option, where as the other two are really more bench/role players – which are for more widely available and can be had much cheaper.

    But yes there is far more to consider in “bringing in a name player” then our wildest fantasies as well as their stats.

    I am fine standing pat. let’s see where we’re at next summer.

  11. 7 – $10.5 million for two guys that will not get alot of time if Bynum and Ariza are healthy, sounds like a problem to me – especially if we can’t resign Sasha and Ronny because of them.

  12. I do not think that Portland is a top 3 seed. It is a little premature to rank them that high when we haven’t even seen Oden play against NBA players. If the players continue to improve they have a shot at one of the last spots.

    If the fans in Seattle came out to watch the games (attendance is 28th in the league) then the team would have been more profitable and the owners may have considered staying….or maybe not.

    I don’t see any team pricing Sasha and Turiaf out of our market. What if someone did offer Sasha $6M? Definitely not out of the question, considering Kapono is getting $24M over 4 years with Toronto. That would be worth the Lakers money a lot more than the $5M they pay Walton and $6M they’re paying to Vlad. You can’t penalize Sasha because you have other bad contracts (at least I hope not). When Vlad was snowboarding we had a great chance to get out of that contract and should have.

    After a 2 point 1 rebound playoff average, I don’t think that anyone would offer Turiaf more than $1.5-2.5M and we should match those amounts. If someone does offer Ronny $4-4.5M we may sadly have to say goodbye.

    Don’t be too sure that Brand will re-sign with the Clippers. A squeaky clean image does not mean he is stupid. He is a business man. How many of you would leave $20M on the table? Ok fine most here are not millionaires. How about turning down a 28% pay increase for doing the same job you love elsewhere? He is definitely considering Golden State or he would have already made a statement to the contrary.

  13. Re: Nadal and Federer: Just a great match. Couldn’t have asked for more. You just have to give it to Nadal for coming back mentally when he had so many chances to close our Federer throughout the match. So many times in sports you see the team that pushes things to over time (5th set in this case) come out on top because of the momentum and the mental fatigue of the team that had the lead. To overcome all of that and still pull it out was truly something.

  14. Bingo T. Klown July 7, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    S.Nichloson –

    What?!?!

    We’re not all millionaires???

    I thought that was the reason we had so much time on our hands…you know in order to read/write on this blog.

  15. S. Nicholson,

    Just as New Orleans cameout of nowhere, Portland can to. Granted, NOH had some players come back from injuries, but the Blazers have some very good young players, and Oden’s presence alone will impact the defense and rebounding. As Laker fans, we’ve all seen what they can do, and I think this is the year that they do it consistently. After the Lakers, the Spurs, Jazz and NOH have some major flaws. Portland will be able to compete with them.

  16. Portland-I don’t see them being a top 5 seed, but they, like almost the entire West, will be jostling for the 6-8th seed. I feel these teams are (assuming a modicum of good health) LA, SA, NO, Hou, Uth. I think Enver, Pho, Dallas all have a good shot to go back, and Portland, the Clips and maybe even Sac and GS (depending on who goes where) will be in it.

    Craig- I have a problem with Luke’s contract because we could have offered the same deal to Posey, LAST season. His salary (Luke’s) is the beginning of how teams lose good players, they get bogged down to long-term committments to average/below average players with little to no trade value. I do not think there is a way in the world to move his toxic contract, so we need to get what we can from him. Vlad has a little more trade value, but like Kurt said, that would probably take another player to accompany him of better or equal talent.

  17. wondahbap — a few days ago you’d pegged the Lakers at 74-8 next season, yet today they’ve got “some major flaws”? Just one fan’s opinion, but I think the truth will be located somewhere in between those two extremes.

    If all goes well injurywise, the Lakers should be a 60- to 65-win team in 2008-09, and they should again challenge for the title, if not win it outright.

    The Blazers will be better, maybe a 4 or 5 seed behind L.A., New Orleans, Utah and perhaps the Spurs, depending on what Popovich & Co. do this off-season.

    Really, though, it’s still so early to really think we’re doing much more than guessing.

  18. I like ALL the players that the Lakers currently have on a very balanced team–which includes their salaries. Let’s discuss the vehemently criticized Vladimir Radmanovic, saving Luke (or anyone else on the roster for the moment) for another day.

    When Vladimir became available as a free agent, he was very actively recruited. Vlade Divac, Magic Johnson, and Laker players gave him phone calls. Mitch called him personally at 12:01–just after midnite.

    After his skiboarding injury, the Lakers could have cancelled his contract in his first year as a Laker. They didn’t.

    This season, a partially healthy Vladimir made 41% of his 3’s–shot happy Sasha hit 43%, with predictable highs and lows. Just for comparison, super shooter Peja Stoyakovich had 44% for the Hornets–though his career average was 41%.

    Vladimir is capable of playing the 3 or 4–especially with switching support. Even though injured and slowed for much of the season, Vladimir worked his way up to being the starter. With Vladimir, we got what we paid for. He is a desperately needed role player at about the right salary.

    Vladimir is highly criticized for his defense, but if he were playing for Utah, San Antonio, or Boston, I predict his defense would not be a problem.

    Consider that Boston seems willing to replace Posey with Maggette–who often didn’t get to play under Dunleavy due to lackluster defense.

    It should give you a strong hint where the problem lies.

  19. Chris J.,

    No….I didn’t type that correctly. What I meant was, the Spurs, Jazz and NOH have some major flaws. After the Lakers, those are the next best 3 teams, as of today that is.

  20. Re: Federer/Nadal — Sportsmanship.

    Perhaps the greatest thing about the match (which was pretty great) was what happened afterward.

    These guys were 110% class afterwards, giving each other credit and seeking out the others’ families for respect etc., and it wasn’t cheesy or fake in the last (to my eyes anyway). It was a helluva storybook sort of quality sportsmanship display on both their parts. Would that my beloved NBA players – err, never mind….

  21. That Nadal/Federer match reminds me of some of the great Becker/Edberg matches of the late 80’s, with each player drawing out the best in the other. A fantastic match.

    I agree with kwame a., the Nuggets, Suns and Mavs are most likely to drop. The Rockets are a wild-card because of their injury history – if either Yao or McGrady are healthy, they can make the playoffs. If both go down at the same time ….

    Since it didn’t happen this year, the one thing I’m rooting for in the West next year is a first-round matchup with the Suns, so we can give a little payback.

  22. Kurt, I’ve been gone for a while, so in response to an older post about the mid-level exception and how to sign Vujacic & Turiaf —

    My understanding is that the MLE is an exception to the salary cap, not an exception to the luxury tax. I believe that teams over the tax limit still have to pay tax on players signed with the MLE.

    Larry Coon’s excellent NBA Salary Cap FAQ (http://members.cox.net/lmcoon/salarycap.htm) doesn’t cover this, so I’m not a hundred percent certain. But I’ve never seen any mention anywhere that players signed with the MLE don’t count against the tax limit.

  23. Drrayeye,

    Because ofhis ability to shoot at 6’10” is why I think he’s the most movable asset, if the Lakers decided to make a trade. When he’s on, he’s on. I especially like when he cutting and being found for open lay-ups, but he is completely lost on defense, and not much of a rebounder. He only gets uncontested rebounds as the shooting team retreats to prevent Laker transistion. Phil almost never plays him in crunch time, and he starts. But as a team willing to do business, would you go after Vlad or Luke, if given the choice?

  24. I would really like to see Corey Maggette on the Lakers but it does not look like the Lakers are interested in him.

  25. Good point about the bad contracts that is why I really cant wait to see Lamar get the hell out of town before he has a couple good weeks in November and he gets another ridiculous contract. Honestly Luke should be playing for about 1.5 million a year and the same for Vlad so your right about that. But, the Lakers do have Lamar to packagee and people are going to be all over that contract because the bigger the expiring the better, and might take on a Vlad with him just because he is such a dangerous shooter. I honestly think the combo of Vlad and Lamar could bring back Marion to Los Angeles, as Riley loves Lamar and that team needs a shooter.

  26. kwame a.,
    I agree with you about Luke’s contract, but last year we were saying the same thing about Lamar. Most teams have one contract they have a hard time with. The key is not to get too many at the same time. That is another reason to stand pat this summer – Lamar goes off the books next year and Walton will remain so why bring in an extension we had to overpay to get?

    wondahbap,
    I think drrayeye pretty much answered you comments about Vlade – he is not an overpriced contract for what he is producing. It is just that we want him to do more. Also, his defense is exposed because of our other defensive weaknesses and our defensive system, not his inherent abilities. Except for injury, he seems to be trying really hard. It’s just that when you play with Lamar and Kobe you are quite often exposed defensively. Lamar constantly leans in to get rebounds and Kobe is a defensive wildcard and often leaves his man. With this combination our other 3 players must be quite good defensive players. This is one key reason I want Lamar coming off the bench as our 6th man. It has nothing to do with his offense and we will have Andrew back there to clean up rebounds on the 1st unit.

  27. (23) wondahbap,

    I agree that Vladimir is tradeable, but I don’t think the Lakers will want to trade him–unless they get that “special” deal.

    He’s going into his third year–finally healthy, and finally learning the triangle. Vladimir may get more assignments as THE 3 point shooter with much better defensive help from his teammates next season. He shoots them just as well as The Machine.

    For example, Vlad might sub for Pau at the 4 with Bynum at center against certain opponents (with Odom at the 3).

    It takes about 3 years to really learn the triangle. Why trade a player you purposely went out and recruited as a long term commitment–in the first season he has a realistic chance to put everything together?

    There has to be a very good reason.

  28. I’ve just got a flashback… Now that the Clippers look at least “nice” for once again, where’s John R?

    I miss that guy

  29. Stats can be deceiving: Vlad might shoot a good percentage because when he is hot he is very hot, but you just don’t get consistent production on a night in night out basis.

    Also, Ariza’s contract comes up after this season, and does anyone believe Buss will sign him if Vlad/Luke are on the books?

    Sure, Vlad played better this season, but would he be as sought after as a free agent now?

  30. If Ariza does well this season Buss will – repeat will – sign him. It may very well mean LO walks – his contract is also up after this season. Vlade is going to be a backup 4, with only a little time at 3, so he now fits into a different category. One of the strengths of our team is it’s flexibility. Turiaf and Gasol – 4/5, Vlade – 4/3, LO – 4/3/1, Kobe 2/3, Sasha 2/1. That is one reason we need a settled PG; we have less flexibility there – of course the triangle doesn’t need a pure PG.

  31. Some Lakers summer league roster notes from the Daily News. now in the main post as well:

    Cedric Bozeman … Former UCLA guard.
    Joe Crawford … Second-round pick in last month’s draft from Kentucky.
    Davon Jefferson … Forward from USC.
    Coby Karl … Backup guard with the Lakers last season.
    Marcelus Kemp … Undrafted guard from Nevada.
    Yi Li … Forward from China.
    Lorenzo Mata-Real … Undrafted forward from UCLA.
    Here’s the Lakers’ summer league schedule (all games in Las Vegas):
    Friday vs. Detroit, 5 p.m., Cox Pavilion.
    Sunday vs. Memphis, 5 p.m., Cox Pavilion
    July 15 vs. Philadelphia, 5 p.m., Cox Pavilion
    July 16 vs. Minnesota, 5:30 p.m., Thomas and Mack Center
    July 18 vs. Toronto, 5:30 p.m., Thomas and Mack Center
    July 19 vs. Denver, 3:30 p.m., Thomas and Mack Center

  32. The Lakers should put all the summer league games on their website and let the fans vote for the Summer Leaguer who gets invited to training camp to be the 12th man (or at least let the fan vote count for 50%). Its not as if it could hurt the team. We should have a say in who represents Free Tacos.

  33. yi li looks like he is suffering from an eating disorder

    http://www.draftexpress.com/gallery/General/1137963222.jpg

  34. The little bit of research on the 6-8 Yi Li I found was almost all from message boards, but there is this:

    Yi is a very talented 204 cm player who has been playing out of position at power forward for Jiangsu. Yi did not make the National Team because he is too thin to play power forward, even in the CBA. He used to be considered a more promising small forward than Wang Lei, but his lack of weight has hindered him.

    If he is too thin to play the four in China, he is a three at best in the NBA. And he better be insanely skilled for us to need him there come the regular season, Just a summer league body, I think, but keeps us in good with the Chinese.

  35. Craig W & drrayeeye,

    You guys make some good points regarding Vlad, but I never said he was overpriced, I never said he should be traded. I was merely pointing out some of his flaws also. I just think if there was a trade to be made, it could or hould be him, because he’d be the easiest player to move and get something decent in return.

    I’m in the camp of leaving the team as it is. I think we have so much flexibilty with this team we will be talking all summer about line-ups and substitutions. I could imagine what other coaches will have to deal with.

    Also, Craig, you make a good point about Kobe. We need to see 100% focus this year. I hate seeing guys like Bowen get wide open 3’s, or Ronny Brewer get alley-oops because Kobe doesn’t bother chasing them or cheats too much. Not respecting a player’s abilities and lack of respect for a player are 2 different things, and I think Kobe sometimes get caught up lacking respect, ultimately leading to uncontested fg’s. But hopefully with Bynum back to contest shots, helping out or not helping out, depending on the situation, will be easier to determine.

  36. Wow. Yi Li makes Kevin Durant look like Shaq.

  37. Why not just offer the full veteran’s salary exemption to Corey Maggette, or failing that offer a considerable chunk of it to James Posey? I like Sasha and Ronny, but they are a bit overrated and I don’t want their contracts to be the albatrosses around the neck that drag down Kupchak’s ability to make moves, a la the Luke and Vlad deals.

  38. This has been a habit of Kobe’s, dating back to working with Shaq; then becoming a necessity with the post Shaq squad. Now, with his work in the world games and a healthy Bynum and Gasol, I hope he is disciplined enough to change his focus. Welllll, he certainly is disciplined enough, but is he committed enough. The other factor is Phil Jackson. I sometimes think that Phil organizes the defense with a roaming Kobe in mind. If we can stop that facet of Phil’s design, we may find more luck against big and active n2s & 3s.

  39. Craig- I totally agree with you RE: how Phil lets Kobe’s roaming slide. At no point last season did he call Kobe out for continually forcing the other 4 players to scramble when he is playing a one-man zone. Kobe is one of the best on-ball defenders in the leauge, but he roams waaaay too much and it compromises our defense unecessarily. I hope that changes next year, and I agree, Phil is gonna have to push Kobe to commit to a 5 man team defense.

  40. While in gneral Rad’s contract would be tough to move,a team like the Cavs might be interested in bringing in a shooter to play beside LeBron. He could play PF there much like Rashard Lewis is doing in Orlando.
    While looking up something else I came across a quote on the Radmanovic signing from Mitch to effect Rad was going to be a good PF for the Lakers!

  41. Anybody actually watch the OKC summer league game? I see Westbrook put up some good numbers but I want to know how he looked.

    I know the summer league isn’t the best gauge of a players abilities but it’s a starting point. And I’m a huge UCLA fan, so i’d love to see him tear it up.

  42. Oh man its good to see Cedric at least making a summer league appearence I think he would be a huge upgrade for the end of the bench over Coby Karl, and Mbenga (even though I like both of em) you dont see many guys that can handle the rock with his size, I would love to see him make the team. Was worried he was in Europe great news to hear that we got him on the SL team.

  43. RE: post seven those salaries are a serious problem when guys like Artest and James Posey are making the same or less. Those were horrible signings but the Lakers have made up for it as of late, let’s just hope it doesnt happen again. Honestly I would rather have Gerald Green and Cedric Bozeman for about 800k than either of those guys.

  44. (49) Steven,

    I believe that the original plan was for Vladimir to play the 4 and Lamar to play the 3 and be the Laker 2nd scoring option. Sound familiar?

    Next year, Vladimir may back up Pau at the 4.

    It sounds like you are speculating about trading Vladimir. If you do, where are you going to get a 6′ 10″ forward with 2 years experience in the triangle and who hits his 3 point shot 41% of the time?

    Are you counting on Lamar for your threes? Last year, he hit 27%–worst on the team.

    If you don’t have a front court outside shooter, how are you going to keep them from collapsing on Pau and Andrew?

    29) Inwit,

    You don’t get consistent scoring from any 3 point shooter–Vladimir is not the only inconsistent three point shooter

  45. I want to see Coby Karl dominate summer ball. Dominate.

  46. 44-I agree that consistent 3pt shooting is almost impossible (thus the good ones shoot in the low 40 percentile). I think (not to speak for inwit) the inconsistency he is referring to is the missed defensive assignments, and certain games where when Vlad’s shot isn’t going, he doesn’t bring anything else to the table. Vlad isn’t the only guilty party as far as team defense, but Vlad has to find ways to contribute when his shot isn’t on. I think he will be a great player to have off the bench.

  47. I won’t predict two teams falling from the West playoff spots. But I feel pretty confident that not only will Denver not make the playoffs this season, we’re going to see an ugly meltdown in the mile high city this year.

  48. Why do we keep talking about who we want to trade? I honestly don’t think there’s a true upgrade to what we have as long as we’re not hoping for another Pau.

    Besides, as much as I like Kobe, I really think it is difficult to find players who are used to, and enjoy playing alongside Kobe. Not to mention guys that Kobe respects. At least this year’s crew have a full summer to impress Kobe (tho he won’t be around to see them work).

  49. carter blanchard July 7, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    I am SO excited about our summer league team. Mata is by far my favorite player in the world. And Davon has pretty high awesomeness potential. I almost wish we had a crappy team and extra roster spots.

  50. i hope Davon plays well

  51. Beasley had 28 and 9. Thats a pretty impressive debut even if it is in the summer league. I think he easily wins ROY and finishes averaging close to 20 and 10. The guy is just that good, and because he is playing along side Wade, he should be able to get a lot of easy looks around the basket.

    Don’t really know anything about any of the players on the SL team. Any one with a chance to make the squad at the last roster spot over Coby Karl? Looking forward to seeing Sun Yue in the olympics. He is an interesting prospect. Don’t think we will see him as a laker this year (unless he is really impressive in the olympics) but he has a good shot of making the team next year.

  52. any word on on why Sun Yue is not yet on the summer league team? Is it a China-team thing?

  53. Last summer most Laker fans (including myself) spent the offseason pondering external means to improving the team, only to have nothing happen. Then, we were pleasantly surprised when our players became that which we hoped for themselves — Bynum becoming the hoped for Jermaine Oneal or Garnett. Turiaf the energy big man. Sasha and Farmar the scoring and speed off the bench.

    In that vein, what skills should each player be working on this summer?

  54. Sasha: continue to work on defense and lateral speed
    Turiaf: rebounding and slowing down a bit
    Ariza: work on defense and 3pt shots
    Mihm: conditioning
    Farmar: defense and lateral speed
    Vlade: cutting to the basket w & w/o the ball
    Karl: conditioning and strength
    Lamar: game strategy
    Gasol: strength after the olympics
    Fisher: conditioning
    Bynum: strength & skyhook
    Kobe: rest – for gosh sakes!

  55. I agree with that. I think the following would have the most dramatic impact on the team’s success next year, both because they are readily improvable skills and because of need:

    Ariza developing a consistent 3, especially from the corner

    Bynum further refining low post moves so he is less reliant on dunking. Nothing dramatic, just refine the jump hook, drop step, footwork, bank hook with both hands, etc.

    Lamar developing the right hand — or at least feeling comfortable making his move right. But this might be a lost cause.

    Farmar gaining strength. He was a huge defensive liability against any kind of strength at the point, allowing opponents to drive through and past him.

    Turiaf slimming down. Seemed a little bogged down near the end, leading to fouls and the inability to explode to rebounds.

    Not sure I want Gasol putting on any more bulk, even if I’d like him stronger. I’m happy with him being rail thin if it means he keeps his quickness. If he can beef up without losing agility, then that’s great.

  56. I wanted to see something similar to Reed’s post at #53, by asking us to guess what Phil told his players at their exit interview, ie; what to work on in the off-season… so thanks! here’s my take, thanks to Craig for creating the template,
    Sasha: get more consistent on shts, especially a mid-range, cause they are going to key on his 3’s.
    Turiaf: rebounding and a controlled block effort, rather than the wild swinging blocks
    Ariza: work on defense and 3pt shots, leg strength, alley-oop plays with Farmar working on timing, cuts, together
    Luke: work on timing plays with Farmar and Ariza, work on the outside shot
    Mihm: conditioning, polish the mid-range jumper
    Farmar: defense and lateral speed, perfect the teardrop, going to be cutting, driving more next year.
    Vlade: develop a mid-range as well as a consistent trey
    Lamar: shooting, both 3’s and mid range
    Gasol: lower body strength and upper body too
    Fisher: enjoy the summer with your family
    Bynum: lower body strength & skyhook
    Kobe: rest – for gosh sakes!

    thanks again, reed, and craig!
    I would like to think that this team, knowing the potential it has, somehow gets together during the off season and works out together, working on timing plays, like back door cuts, alley oops, cause Trevor’s got the hops for all of that…I see him as the next Cooper, great defender, great hops for the alley oop, and just needs to work on his outside shots.
    I think Luke, Farmar, and Trevor would benefit greatly from this bonding, working out together.
    maybe Koby should join too, remember some of his monster dunks!? we know he can shoot the ball.

  57. Good discussion topic.

    With Malice has another one of those: the all time Laker lineup:

    http://with-malice.com/2008/07/08/laker-greats/

  58. Sasha needs to work on driving to the basket and finishing. he looks so uncomfortable whenever it’s outside of 18 ft.

  59. DrRayEye,
    Personally I doubt Lakers make any move unless they stumble early.
    But you bring up the question is Rad’s 3pt skill an advantage or not to the team? Far too often the Lakers settle for standing around waiting for a 3pt shot opportunity. Yet the Triangle is supposed to be a fluid,motion offense,aggressive not passive. Teams that live by the 3,tend to die by the 3-see Phoenix,Houston.
    I may be wrong,but an offensive philosophy that emphasizes mis-matches thru movement and crashing the boards is not best served by players who hang out at 3pt line waiting for handouts.

  60. I think I remember in Bird’s biography (someone help me if I’m wrong) that he always thought it was far more useful to spend the offseason alone refining skills, moves, footwork, shooting, etc. than scrimmaging and playing organized ball. He thought that was the only way to really add something new to your game. While I’d like some of our really young players to do summer league and other things like that, the idea of focusing more on set skills and strength/conditioning makes a lot of sense — like Bynum has with Kareem.

  61. 44 – you at least want three point shooters hitting pretty consistently when they are open. Vlad was so inconsistent last year that, in stretch of a few games, he would have one or two nights where he lights it up, and a few games where he was just worthless.

    Perhaps it was just a misperception on my part, but that’s what I saw last year.

  62. I would like to see these players improve the following:

    Pau – Working on his medium range jumpshot. He has had this shot in the past, and he is going to get open looks with Bynum in the paint

    Ariza – not only three point shooting, but a decent jump shot from the elbow and othe spots.

    Luke – three point shooting. Even a few percentage points higher would be very helpful

    Vlad – some post moves, or some other variety in his offensive game. Force players to guard him more carefully, particularly closer to the basket. He has good size and should be able to score over people more often

    Farmer – Strength and lateral quickness, keep working on his shot.

    Turiaf – get in better shape and work on his post up game. He should be using his strength to get position closer to the basekt.

    Lamar – shooting from everywhere beyond a few feet. His shot doesn’t look too bad mechanically. I think he needs to work on it and get confidence in it.

    Bynum – follow the Shaq example, develop a little hook or some other shot from a few feet. A sky hook would be the utlimate weapon.

  63. (59) Stephen, think of Vladimir as the Peja of the Lakers. It’s his job to spread the defense with his three point shooting. The threat is real. Lamar, on the other hand, shouldn’t be even considering three point shooting–he should be cutting without the ball and preparing for the offensive rebounds he almost never gets (because he’s not there). Lamar habitually hangs out at the three point line.

    (61) Inwit,

    The numbers don’t lie. Vladimir was 41% on his threes last year.

    Over the season, Vlade developed a pretty complete game and didn’t take as many 3 pointers in somewhat limited minutes. The real problem was that the Lakers weren’t consistent in getting him the ball. Even though his shooting percentage is almost exactly the same as Peja, and he is a very similar streak shooter, he was not being set up like Peja, or followed up consistently when he had the hot hand. Players like Jordan/Kobe–even Derek were much more willing to upchuck than set up.

    All role players need to stick to their roles.

    Can’t blame that on Vladimir.

  64. 62,

    I don’t think Vlad will ever develop true, reliable post moves. He just isn’t that guy. I’d rather see him strive for more consistency, whether its shooting from 3 or mid-range.

    I think if he focuses on that, he is more valuable than trying to go outside of himself, and post people up. Leave that to Bynum, Gasol, Lamar, even Kobe. Let Vlad use his size to draw bigger defenders out of the paint, and respect his (hopefully more consistent) jump shots.

  65. Good topic Reed:

    I think 3 of our young guys can make a big jump, provided they put in work this summer:

    1) Jordan- He came back last year a lot stronger than his rookie year, and he has room to grow. On offense this means attacking the basket more, becoming a threat to penetrate and score, or penetrate and pass. On defense, as Reed said, he needs to bulk up and learn to keep his man from bullying him into the lane.

    2) Turiaf- I think he has one simple task-get stronger. He is a great energy guy, and has a nice mid-range game, but he is a terrible rebounder (for his size). I think some added strength will help him get hurt less, and improve his rebounding.

    3) Ariza- Again, one simple-task. Shoot better. Trevor can take his game to the next level, and he doesn’t even need to hit the 3ball to do it. If he can master the corner 3 (the closest shot beyond the arch, patented by Bowen) and get a consistent mid-range (15-18 ft) jump shot, he may be our starting 3.

    Reed-I have a random question for you. What have you been hearing in Dallas about the Mavs, are they gonna keep Howard?Terry?

  66. drrayeye,

    I agree they could have used Vlad better, but what does 41% mean when a player has several games where is 5/5 or 0/5?

    At times I thought he pressed too hard, possibly because of the debacle of the snowboarding accident last year. He did play hard and made a real effort to play defense. I don’t mind having him come off the bench, but my concern is that Buss, because of salary cap issues, might not resign players like Sasha, Ronny or Ariza, that are very inportant players in the rotation.

    Three point shooting is very important these days but so is having young, athletic players come off the bench. Alas, it appears that something is going to have to give, and because of the salary situation, it looks like some of the young, aggressive players are going to have to go.

    Don’t forget they have to resign Bynum and Odom has one year left on his contract.

    The only positive is – please don’t jump all over me for saying this – that the Lakers DIDN’T win the championship last year. Why? Because of Kobe’s fit last summer. Kobe can still opt out after this season. True he doesn’t want to leave, but what if Buss starts dumping talent to save money? If they had won the title then Buss could say we are there already. He can’t really say that until they win, can he?

    So maybe the loss to the Celtics was a blessing in disguise.

  67. inwit,
    I sincerely doubt even Kobe thought we could win the championship last year. The bandwaggoners made the Lakers the favorites against the Celtics, but the extreme youth and inexperience were present on the Laker squad from the beginning. Now they are older and no one would call them inexperienced. This is perhaps the biggest blessing from last year and you better believe Kobe knows it.

    However, if we had won, do you really think Kobe would opt out of a chance to get multiple rings?

  68. Kwame– Not a lot of trade buzz coming out of Dallas right now. The initial talk, of course, was about moving Howard, but Dallas has taken a consistent position since then that they want to keep him — or only move him in a no-brainer deal. I think there are two aspects to this. First, they value Howard highly, more than most teams, and refuse to trade him for less than full value. Two, even though they are anxious to shake up the team and acquire frontcourt help, they don’t want other teams to think that Howard is available for cheap. Given how last season ended and reading the tea leaves, I think Cuban will make a strong push later in the summer to move Howard and/or Terry, but they won’t rush into a bad deal and are watching how free agency plays out first. I’d be shocked if Dallas brings back the same team as last year, with only Diop and Gerald Green added.

  69. “So maybe the loss to the Celtics was a blessing in disguise.”

    I can’t believe I read that. We only watch these games to see our team win, right? So how can any loss be a blessing in disguise? Hello. If the Lakers won, then there is NO WAY Kobe could opt out wihout looking like a complete jerk. There is no way, after repairing his image, even after the summer drama, he could opt-out and sign elsewhere without completely destroying everything he and Nike have rebulit over this past season. A win would have only strengthened their (Lakers mgmt) position.

  70. Craig,

    If the Lakers had won, Buss could safely dump talent and Kobe could not opt out BECAUSE he got his championship.

    You don’t think that if the Lakers had won that Buss wouldn’t say that the Gasol trade put them over the top so it doesn’t matter if they unload some young players who are up for new contracts?

    Kobe is not going to leave now, but if I owned the team I would keep an eye on things – doesn’t Marbury’s salary come off the books for the Knicks after this season? Would Kobe like to play in MSG for D’Antoini? How much have the personal bridges been mended between Kobe and management?

    Again, he won’t leave, but it is dangerous to assume too much. The Western Conference is going to be a dogfight next year, there is no guarantee that the Lakers will prevail, even as they stand now.

    When a chess player makes a move, he has to calculate the variations. Buss would be wise to do so.

  71. 69 – yes, you prove my point.

  72. i have a feeling sasha is gonna bust a luke. he’ll get paid, and then he’ll play like crap next season because he’s already guaranteed his money.

  73. Regardless of wheter they won or loss. Kobe has to stay. Pau is locked up for 4 years. Most likely Bynum will be locked up. Win or lose, Kobe would lose. Kobe has one focus, his legacy. He could win 2 more elsewhere and it would not be the same. He knows that. It has to be with L.A. I understand what you’re trying to say, but what you’re talking about letting go under those circumstances is Sasha, Turiaf, and Farmar. If the Buss’ decided to let them go after we won IT, then that’s is something that owuld be easy to swallow, because eventually they could be replaced but still have the main players intact. We’d still have Pau, Bynum, Kobe, Vlad, either Lamar or the money to spend if not Lamar, Luke, and Fish. The players are there, now the pressure is on Kobe to get it done with these guys, regardless. His summer drama made him a Laker for life. Well, should make him….we know Kobe is stubborn.

  74. What if Buss starts dumping talent to save money? Seriously, it’s only early July and the summer silly season is in full swing.

    Buss is clearly willing to pay some luxury tax to win, he did in the Shaq era. He will not go Knicks, but he will pay some. This coming season he likely will pay $8-$9 million in tax, the following year that will go up some probably (due to Bynum). But the bottom line is Buss’ personality is wired to win, he is not going to just start dumping salary to save some cash. That is not now and never has been his MO.

  75. 74 – I hear you, but Kobe is Kobe. I am not going to assume anything.

  76. Inwit (66),

    Sasha is more likely to go 5-0, 5-5, than Vladimir. He sort of “tests the wind” early on to see if it is his night and adjusts accordingly. If he’s not “on,” he tries to score in other ways, make steals, blocks, etc.

    There will be contracts negotiated for Sasha and Ronny (or not) in the next days or weeks at the most.

    The tradeoff you are talking about between young talent and veterans rests almost entirely on the $14 million contract for Lamar. Unless Lamar’s new contract is radically reduced or he walks, we could lose one or more of the young guys: Ariza, Bynum, Farmar

  77. Ok, Kurt, I hope you are right, but don’t get selective amnesia if things don’t turn out as you say, either this summer or a year or so from now. It’s early July but decisions have to be made. Buss has said on the record that the Lakers are his primary business now and he needs to make a healthy profit. Even Phil Jackson commented on that a couple of years ago, saying that he understands it is a business. Buss isn’t Mark Cuban or Paul Allen with real big deep pockets.

    But if you are going to analyze something, don’t look at only 85% of the factors going into decisions and then deride someone for pointing out other considerations.

  78. Ah the ever-present anonymous,

    I would be really surprised if Sasha “pulled a Luke,” think about it. Sasha is much younger than Walton when he received his new deal. I don’t mean to intend Luke is not a hard worker, but Vujacic is a straight out gym rat; he wants to succeed, and has no qualm about working for it. My point is that one had more of an idea of what Luke’s ceiling is, Sasha’s is a bit more vague. I’m not banding about an All-Star tag, but the guy is still capable of adding quite more to his game.

    Also, if you ever noticed after any loss, whether it was in winter or after the Finals, Sasha had the look of a guy who could not stand to lose. Aside from maybe Kobe (who in my opinion kept his cool a bit more) you could tell any loss practically ate Sasha alive. The guy hates the feeling, can’t stand it. Watching him after a loss on TV, I felt like I should leave the room cause he was about to lose it.

    After the growth we just witnessed in his game, and from those expressions I have seen, I can’t imagine Sasha Vujacic “pulling a Luke” (which is a bogus sentiment anyways). No, Sasha is a tremendously hard worker, who in my opinion is a very valuable weapon to have on the Lakers. I’d say to see Sasha Vujacic as a member of another NBA club, dropping dagger 3s on the Lakers would sting just as much as, if not more than, Caron Butler being traded only to become an All-Star.

  79. drrayeye,

    I thought there was a moritorium on Lamar discussions. But yes, clearly, something has to give.

  80. Let’s be clear here in defining what you mean by “dumping.” To me letting Odom walk at the end of next year is not dumping. To me, dumping means some kind of trade where the lone goal was getting rid of salary, regardless of talent. Like trading Pau or a sign-and-trade of Bynum.

    I don’t think Buss is going to do that. And I certainly don’t think Kobe is going to walk at the end of next season. That’s just Lakers fans who seen to enjoy worrying about wild scenarios.

  81. I have great faith in Buss, and surely trust him to commit to enough spending to give us a great chance to win (in contrast to, say, Robert Sarver). But he has limits and sometimes they involve cutting things awfully close. I still remember with pain his refusal to trade for Pippen from Houston for cash reasons in the early Shaq years (resulting in Pippen almost bringing us down with Portland), and the thin supporting cast during the late Shaq years. Still, the Gasol trade proved that he is willing to do what it takes to contend (whereas many/all owners refused to trade straight expiring contracts for so much long term salary, as Memphis demanded).

  82. inwit,
    Your discussions seem to imply that Kobe and Buss are at loggerheads and don’t like each other. There is no evidence of that. Both have big egos and people with big egos are bound to clash more frequently than those without egos. That does not mean either personality is not very objective about their own interests. Kobe and Dr. Buss’s interests coincide, as they relate to any basketball future. They each desperately need each other and will probably continue to slowly circle each other trying to gain an advantage. Don’t mistake this posturing for foolhardy action. They both have a huge amount to gain and a huge amount to lose and they both fully understand this.

  83. Colin (Portland, OR): Hey John- Do you Kevin Pritchard going out and using Raef Lafrentz’s expiring contract in a deal this off-season or does he save it for the trade deadline or next year?

    John Hollinger: (3:26 PM ET ) Depends on what’s available — Portland could also not use it at all and be a big player in next year’s free agent market.

    John Hollinger: (3:28 PM ET ) However, the last point is only valid if nobody plays the Darius Miles sabotage card. Strangely, if a team keeps Miles on its roster for 10 games this year then the Blazers can’t subtract Miles from their cap. Given how Portland is set to dominate the West, this would be awfully tempting to me if I operated a certain basketball team next to a large sodium-chloride filled lake.

    John Hollinger: (3:28 PM ET ) or a team that was named for one.

  84. Sorry about the double post, but…
    Dr Buss looked forward to several years of a Magic vs Jordan scenario that would put money in his pockets and maintain the visibility of his team. Magic’s HIV announcement put an end to that plan and I doubt Dr. Buss wants to repeat that sequence of events because he got rid of Kobe before Bynum proved his worth. Kobe is the biggest draw across every arena in the NBA – like Buss doesn’t want a piece of that for his pocket and his ego???

  85. Any FBG’ers going to check out summer leauge, we would all love some on-the-spot reporting/analysis.

  86. Yes, Reed and wasn’t there the alleged Baron Davis no trade, allegedly because of money?

    Ok, for a start, to take the current situation, “dumping” would mean letting Sasha and Turiaf leave as restricted free agents because you don’t want to match what somebody offers them (assuming it is not an absurd amount).

    Yes, dumping would mean not resigning Bynum (although this is unlikely).

    Letting Lamar walk next year? Yes, dumping. Why? Because, to take an IMAGINARY example, (please don’t say it won’t happen, I know, it is an example), with a vet like Lamar, could you put together a 3 way deal for example, Lamar to Miami for a couple of expiring contracts and Beasley? My point is maybe you could get talent with rookie salaries in exchange for Lamar. If push came to shove you might have to let him walk, but letting a talent like Lamar go for nothing can only be considered dumping.

    My immediate concern is Sasha (who will play backup shooting guard, Coby Karl?) and Turiaf (who will be aggressive and physical off the bench and able to hit a jumper?).

    The beauty is the Lakers have alot of good parts to make good deals, but they do have to make fundamental decisions now all the same.

  87. I don’t know what the situation is with Kobe and Buss, that’s why I point it out as a wild-card factor.

  88. 54- lol Farmar is fine in the lateral speed department, he needs to get stronger but would lose quickness with point guards you can’t have it both ways. Honestly, asking dudes to improve lateral speed is very, very unlikely it is much easier to improve jumping ability or upper body strength and that’s not even easy. Mental toughness, and decision making will get the young players over the top. Keep in mind most of these youngsters Luke, Sasha, Rony were not considered exceptional athletes and just like you cant coach size you cant simply make athleticsm. Jordan, Trevor and Bynum on the other hand are the perfect guys to look to for the long term as they all are strong athletes, the non athletic guys you just cant count on for too large of roles, when you do they will dissapoint.

  89. 65, Jordan only has average to below average quickness for an NBA point guard. If he bulks up to handle the big guards better, but he loses quickness I think it would be a net loss. The big guards would still be able to bully him quite a bit and he couldn’t hang with the quicker guys in the league.

  90. I have no worries with Farmar, I disagree on the average speed he has great quickness, a nice shot, elevation, a good motor and is a winner. He will continue to improve and I think he is an excellent long term solution at point guard.

  91. I think Craig W’s point is well taken about having some role-players like Luke and Vlade (although maybe overpaid), but we still need players who are good at roles rather than having a “big gun” who would upset team chemistry. I think the Lakers, with Bryant, Paul, and Bynum are set for the next 5 years. Something to think about…we are on the eve of salary cap numbers being announced, and if teams played this off season right, there could be big implications for the free-agent class of 2010.
    Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Jersey Nets, Orlando Magic, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Seattle (Oklahoma) Sonics, and Toronto Raptors, if they don’t mess their salary cap up, could have room for one, even two of these guys: Lebron, Wade, Bosh, Joe Johnson, Nowitzki, and Stoudemire (if they opted out). The Lakers will be there, but wouldn’t it be exciting for the NBA if t another one of these teams could have multiple stars to have epic battles with the Lakers?

  92. It’s all very simple to me. The Lakers need James Posey. The man is a winner. He is a solid defender and a solid three point shooter and, above all else, a very good SF. Move Odom to the 6th man spot, and sign Posey.

  93. I’m heading out to summer league in the last weekend. Hopefully I can check out the Laker games. I’ll try to report after I come back.

    I saw on ocregister’s blog that Ariza is playing in the Lakers roster for summer league. Does anyone know if this is true?

    Is China playing again? Will Sun Yue make an appearance in summer league?

  94. 91. I find it amazing people would want to start Posey over Odom. He simply is not nearly as good a player.

    Not to reopen the Artest debate in this thread necessarily, but a response to my post is up at ballblogger:

    http://ballerblogger.com/2008/07/08/making-the-case-for-ron-artest-in-la/

  95. You must love Odom Kurt. I consider it because Posey is a SF, Odom is a PF. Odom is out of position… I’d rather see him occupy the 6th man spot and be the #1 option on the 2nd unit. I feel he’d actually be more productive with no pressure on him.

  96. Troy,
    Posey’s last 3 teams-all Playoff teams-decided that Posey is not a starter,nor worth the MLE.

  97. So you’ll pass instead for a Mickael Pietrus or Jarvis Hayes? I can agree with you, but the MLE is what Posey wants.

  98. DrRayEye,
    I don’t disagree that Rad,esp in corner,spaces court. To me,the problem is w/him anchored in the corner you pretty much lose all movement by the team. Phil wants his PG-or SF-up top as 3pt outlet and for fast break defender. Now 2 players are stationary and your motion has to come from your PF,C and Kobe. Since the PF and C rarely roam too far from the lane,the lane gets congested.
    I just wonder whether having a SF who has to go to the rim to score isn’t a better fit for the Triangle than a 3pt shooter.

  99. Troy, I like Posey, but there is a reason that Posey is 31 and has always come off the bench. The guy had a PER last year of 12. He is a nice role player but Odom has so much more potential.

    I’d actually be worried that if we brought in Posey and he took up minutes it could stunt Ariza’s growth. I still want to see him develop a jumper and take that job.

  100. Ok, I appreciate the insight. Thanks Kurt

  101. Only the Clippers….ha, only the Clippers. Wow, EB to Philly makes sense, but never thought it would happen. I think Philly is automatically the 2nd best team in the East now:

    C-Dalembert, Reggie Evans
    PF-Brand, Jason Smith
    SF-Igudola. Thadeus Young
    SG-Willie Green, Lou Williams
    PG-Miller,

    Not bad, especially with Mo Cheeks high pressure defense and now an anchor in the post on offense.

  102. Greg,
    “Farmar, I disagree on the average speed he has great quickness,”

    Look at a list of the starting point guards in the league, and you will see that Farmar is, at best, in the middle of the pack as far as quickness.

  103. 102. Wow, Clips fans must be sick after this. But I think on some level it speaks to the ill will that has been there between Ciippers management and players for seemingly a decade — all their good players want out. Barron must be ticked, though, you have to think he thought he would be playing with Brand.

    And you’re right, the Sixers are much better now. And Maggette should be able to get all the shots he wants next year is GS.

  104. the other Stephen July 8, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    let business be business, but quite simply, elton is a man who is not as good as his word. i hope the media tears him up for this. all this time i had a nagging suspicion this would happen.

  105. Amazing. I’ve always wanted there to be that one year, one damn year where the Clips and Lakers were both 60+ win superpowers who met up in the WCF for an epic series. The Lakers look mostly set, the Clips building around Davis-Brand with nice complementary pieces in Thornton, Kaman, Mobley, Gordon… and now Brand has just detonated the Clips franchise at the worst time. Let’s remember, Baron has not been able to sign yet! The Warriors may be able to re-sign him perhaps by exercising their Bird rights. The Clips have been absolutely screwed! And the sad thing is, that’s what the franchise has come to be known as… the luckless, listless franchise that never gets anything to go their way.

    I feel sorry for all Clipper fans out there, and Sixer fans and especially Warriors fans (and Baron) should be counting their blessings knowing that Davis might as well be right back on the market… if your Baron, would you play for the crap now known as the Clips or the Warriors, who’ve just added a 22 ppg scorer on average? I’d take the Warriors!

  106. Re Playoff teams.
    Assuming normal NBA health,and having no idea how rosters will end up:
    The Lakers should rule the Pacific w/60-some wins.
    Utah should win the NW again w/@55+ wins.
    The SW is going to be brutal again,but I imagine NO takes it w/58-60,closely followed by SA and Hou.
    Phoenix was a 55 win team last yr,and if they can find a scoring wing,they should be right back
    Dallas has the tools to be a good running team,I wouldn’t be too suprised to see them up around 55 wins themselves.

    I’m not sold on Portland. Their PG set-up is pretty shaky and they their starting SF knows they tried to trade him. Plus there almost seems to be a disconnect between their coach’s style and the type of players the GM is adding. But they will pronb be one of the fringe Playoff contenders.
    I just don’t see the Clips improving 25-odd wins to get into the hunt.
    My sleeper is GS-if they don’t panic and use their cap space wisely.If they re-sign Biedrins and Ellis they should have $9-10mil cap room. They sign-n-trade Harrington for Varejao,make a $6mil ofer to JR Smith(or Childress) and still have room to pick up a decnt PG fairly cheap-Arroyo,Telfair,or if enough left,Delonte West.

    Denver i almost see imploding,then a new coach comes in and team “rallies” and makes another late run.

  107. Hopefully Baron Davis will not sign as it was only a verbal agreement, he could put his greed aside for a year take a one year exception and an insurance policy then reup next year when there is more money available.

  108. Posted my 3108 before saw Brand news. Again Clips aren’t dead. They could go after Okafor,Biedrins or Josh Smith and make an offer so big the other team would have to think hard about matching.

  109. the other Stephen July 8, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    i hope josh smith goes to a better franchise than the clippers. i would hate to see that immense talent wasted by poor management.

  110. If I were the Clips I may overpay Josh Smith, but I wold not overpay Okafor, he has been too injury prone.

  111. I would talk to Davis’s people about obtaining Okafor. Smith is another version of Al Thorton and Okafor would be a power PF and have a Kaman beside him to give the Clips a presence down low. If they can sign Davis and Okafor they will be in good shape.

    Yes, there is an injury risk, but when Okafor plays PF instead of center he will take less banging from bigger people and should be able to deliver more than he takes.

  112. I agree with Craig, again. Essentially Okafor could be a very good Elton Brandish player, although not quite as good as Elton. That or the Clips could join the 2010 train and hope that the lure of “L.A.” can net them a premier FA.

  113. Salary cap numbers are out:

    Link

    Luxury tax at $71.15 million.

    Lakers will pay the luxury tax this year… our payroll is $75.3 million already.

  114. Kwame A,

    Philly, 2nd best in the East? Slow down there. I disagree. The Cavs and Pistons will be better then them. Toronto has a frontline of Jermaine O’Neal and Chris Bosh. Miami will be much improved from last year, and Atlanta should be returning it’s core. I expect all of those teams to be better. I know Philly had a nice run last year, but they benefitted from a painfully weak East. Brand would be the only elite player. Andre Iguodala is nice, but not scary, and I think Andre Miller is woefully overrated.

  115. Troy,

    I’m tired of Lamar talk, but would you start Bruce Bowen over Lamar as well ? Pretty much the same thing, except it sounds more ridiculous when you put it that way. But they are both ridiculous ideas. I like what Posey does for his teams (as long as he doesn’t cheap shot), but let’s not sip the kool-aid. He is strictly a bench player.

  116. Wow. So much for all that talk about the Clippers making the playoffs this year.

    (106) – the other Stephen,
    Let’s keep in mind that we don’t know what was said behind closed doors between Brand and the Clippers. Did he promise to re-up? I haven’t heard that. The only thing that I’ve heard reported is that he told the Clips he thought they should pursue Baron, but I haven’t heard any reliable reporters say they actually had info or sources saying that Brand had promised to re-sign. Everyone ASSUMED that was the case when the Clips verbally agreed with Baron, but we don’t actually KNOW if he gave the them his word or not. So let’s be careful not to attack someone’s character when we don’t have all the facts.

    (107) – Troy,
    The Warriors can’t re-sign Baron after signing Maggette. The reason they had the cap space to sign Maggette is because Baron was gone and off their cap. If they still wanted to sign Baron using their Bird rights, his potential salary for next year would be counted against their cap (as a “cap hold”), and they wouldn’t have the cap space to sign Maggette. They can only sign one, not both.

    ————-

    If I’m the Clippers, considering the free agent market is now pretty barren (no pun intended), if they can’t sign Okafor or Josh Smith, I would seriously consider using all their cap space this year to front-load Baron’s contract. They could give him around $20 million this year, give or take, then give him a salary of $9 million or so next year, and 8 percent raises in the remaining three years, per the CBA. This would result in him still getting the same total amount over the course of the contract ($65 million), and it would result in the Clips having significant cap space next summer, when there will be some very attractive free agents.

  117. Okay my numbers on front-loading Baron’s contract were a little off, but the general idea still stands.

  118. RE Reed’s Post on player improvements…

    *Like everyone else, I’d love to see Ariza work on his shooting, but I’d also really want him to work on his ball-handling. The Triangle works best when there are 3 ball handlers on the court that can initiate the offense (this is actually an undervalued trait of Odom’s. Even from PF, he can initiate the offense, especially when the Guards are being pressured). If Ariza is going to get major minutes at SF (especially over Lamar, as many suggest), I think he needs to be able to handle the ball more.

    *Just like others have mentioned, I’d really like for Bynum to work on his footwork as well. But not only in his post game, but in a turn & face game as well. If Bynum and Gasol are really going to play together, they actually have to have some of the same skill sets so that they can truly be interchangeable on the offensive end. There are going to be times when Bynum is Iso’d on the back side of the Triangle where it’s tougher to establish deeper post position. I’d love for him to be able to turn & face, make a quick dribble, and attack the basket to finish.

    *This has been mentioned, but I’d also like for Farmar to work on his finishing around the basket. But I’d also like him to work on his P&R game. Besides Kobe (and to a much lesser extent Fisher) we don’t have another player who is comfortable handling the ball and creating off the screen and roll. I’d really like for Farmar to fill that void, if at all possible.

  119. Warren Wee Lim July 8, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    FREE AGENCY UPDATE
    ==============

    Brand spurns the Clippers; – good news but sad
    Maggette to the Warriors; – good for him
    Ronny offered 4m by the Warriors. – what now?

  120. What the hell are the Warriors gonna do with Ronny? That franchise is a mess right now. I’ll be sad to see him go.

  121. Possibly offering him $4 mill, when no one else probably would have? Maggette too. Bet you they overpay for him big time.

  122. carter blanchard July 9, 2008 at 12:16 am

    I am so upset right now. That’s overpaying like crazy for Ronny. I hope we match in my heart even though my head knows we shouldn’t.

  123. Well. Looks like the Lakers will only be able to afford either Turiaf or Vujacic. Who’s more valuable?

  124. hmm, I didn’t think ronny would go because he has so much opportunity for making extra cash in LA as he is such a personality doing ads etc. Not the same opportunties in GS I woudn’t say, there he becomes perhaps just another face.

    It will be interesting to see what happens but can I just say 4 million?! F**k that!

  125. i will be mad if lakers match ronny at 4 years for $17m. that is worse than luke’s k.

  126. Do you have a link for the Turiaf news?

  127. I remember someone saying turiaf being underpriced at one of our projections and this kind of offer from the warriors is probably what he was thinking about.

    I was really hoping for the trust and loyalty part from turiaf (with us sticking with him during his heart troubles) o he won’t agree with other teams, but I don’t think you can just leave 3 Million on the table especially since so far he is at best a 2nd stringer (a cheerleader at worst) and offers like this may not come again.

  128. Yea, I hate to say it, I kinda liked the guy, but I do not see the Lakers matching that offer and having to spend some 8 mil (lux tax included) to keep him this year, he is not worth it I would to say.
    Bye Ronnie…

  129. I really like Ronny, but $4M is too steep. If he won’t stay for around $2M, then the Lakers should let him go.
    That leaves Mihm as the main backup. Hmmm.
    The Lakers could resign Mbenga for presumably a low amount.
    And Pau can still move to center if/when necessary.

    If the Lakers have to choose between Sasha and Ronny, Sasha is the one more likely to help the team.

  130. I’m not surprized that Ronny was offered $4 million. Let’s call it the “law of the bigs.” He averaged 18 minutes and even started at PF last year. He’s our only tough guy. He’s going to be hard to replace. I wonder how much Kwame Brown costs–or if he is available.

    It also doesn’t surprize me that there is no offer for Sasha yet. Sasha could be replaced by Mo Evans for something in the range of $3 million–if Mo is not also gone–Mo plays better defense–but he’s no “machine.”

  131. the other Stephen July 9, 2008 at 4:43 am

    ronny noooooo. don’t let yourself be corrupted by the love of money. =(. WHAT HAPPENED TO THE LOVE FOR THE GAME?

  132. It’s the falling dominoes. Orlando signed Pietrus away from the Warriors. Pietrus earned about $3.5 million. Warriors probably offered the money they had in place for Pietrus to Ronny.

    Remember, Warriors signed Derek Fisher away from the Lakers when we undervalued him. I’d sign the offer and show Ronny more appreciation next year

    I don’t think that the Lakers will decide right away.

  133. I agree with what everyone has said, Ronny cannot leave that money on the table and we can’t match. There is no way he is worth that money, to us anyway, its sad but true… Wouldn’t mind getting kwame back either as some other commentators have said, on the cheap that is

  134. First off; no Kwame. No way I don’t care Mbenga would be better than Kwame. And I agree Ronnie is not worth 4 yrs 17M. Too steep for him. That is a bad contract, its not the MLE for Diop bad, but its too much for Ronnie. As much as I like the guy and it will be hard to let him go, that is too steep. Cut off 6M and then it would probably be worth it. As much

  135. Bye-bye Ronny. The problem is… Turiaf is not nearly worth as much as the Warriors are offering. The Lakers would kill their cap by retaining Ronny. I’d say re-sign Kwame (I’m cynical, I suppose), make a run a Kurt Thomas, and make sure James Posey is signed… even if just to be a bench player.

    At least my first wish was granted… Maggette didn’t sign with Boston, Utah, San Antonio, or New Orleans. I’d be pissed if he’d gone to those teams. Going to GSW, he’s merely “20 ppg replacing 20 ppg, although they play different positions”.

    Lastly, I don’t see Ronny making a huge impact on the Warriors next year. Some impact for sure, but he’s definitely not going to win games for them

  136. drrayeye,

    you’re looking at it from the wrong angle. The Lakers didn’t undervalue Fish at the time (the Lakers were ready to start fresh), the Warriors may have over valued him, just as they are doing with Ronny now, considering the Lakers situation, I don’t see how they match.

    the other Stephen,

    Were you serious with that comment,or was that a joke? I’m hoping in jest.

  137. Kwame? Kwame Brown? Kwame freakin’ Brown? Back on the Lakers? Wow.

  138. With the FO probably not matching the offer to Turiaf, I don’t think there’s any way the Lakers even consider moving Odom. He’s too valuable as a swing 3 and 4 player, especially now that Turiaf’s gone. On the flipside, who’ll replace Ronny? It’ll be real sad to see him go, but at $4mil ($8mil w/luxury tax), it’s too expensive to match. Perhaps the Lakers should look into Craig Smith (LA native)? However, as a prerequisite, each FA must not only exhibit their on court basketball skills, but must display their ‘dancing’ prowess as well.

  139. haha wondabap, I never disliked kwame all that much, I’d go as far to say I kind of have a soft spot for him. Granted we were paying him way too much, but at a reasonable price he’s a good defensive option

  140. the other Stephen July 9, 2008 at 8:37 am

    134. which one of my many jests were you referring to?

    i suppose if sasha and turiaf get signed away, that saves us a handful of nickles and dimes, with which we could definitely use to get somebody? i’m not hoping, of course.

  141. The Warriors have about $12M to spend on both Ellis and Biedrins. I believe Ellis is going to receive a Kevin Martin type contract of 5yrs/$55M. I believe they’re targetting Turiaf b/c they won’t be able to afford Biedrins.

  142. How weird/sad will it be to see Turiaf doing his bizarre dances on the GS sidelines? But good for him, it goes to show hustle, energy, and enthusiam in the NBA is rewarded. It just leaves some holes in the Lakers’ lineup since Turiaf played a lot at the center position as well.

  143. does anyone think the lakers can explore trade talks with the pistons? i don’t know how the salaries work out or if any players in the lakers would do well in detroit, but isn’t dumars looking to break up his core?

  144. There was a time, not that long ago, when Laker fans considered Ronny one of only a few players on the Laker team worth keeping. I hope management remembers.

    I see a good analogy to Derek. He had to give back money from a signed contract to finally rejoin the Lakers–only to hear that he was given his contract for old times sake. Even after this year, there are those who still undervalue him. Let’s not undervalue Ronny.

    I hope that the Lakers respect the market and keep Ronny Turiaf.

  145. I’m not convinced the team won’t match. I think most commenters here had Turiaf a little undervalued at $1-2m, in today’s market $3-4m is about right for him, and I think there’s at least a 50% chance the Lakers match.

    Part of it is a question of perspective. On the one hand if you’re Mitch or Dr. Buss, you can say, if we match Turiaf, it’s $4m in salary, plus another $4m in tax, so he’s costing us $8m. On the other hand, you could say the reason we’re over the tax limit is because we took on Gasol, so Turiaf only costs us $4m, while it’s Gasol who is costing the $4m in tax.

    It’s basically, are you attributing the tax cost to the last guy you sign to your roster, or to the all-star with a huge contract you traded for who put you over the tax limit to begin with? If they think of it as paying $8m for Turiaf, they probably won’t match. If they look at it as paying $4m in tax for Gasol and $4m in salary for Turiaf, there’s a much better chance they match.

    If they do let Turiaf walk, I agree Craig Smith would be one good option. Another one to keep in mind is Carl Landry of the Rockets. Apparently there has been some major friction between his agent and the team, both last summer/fall when they negotiated his rookie contract, and again this summer. He’s restricted, so the Lakers would have to make a big enough offer to make the Rockets think twice. But there’s a decent chance the Rockets would let him walk. Especially since they already have Luis Scola, Chuck Hayes and rookie Joey Dorsey at the same position.

  146. I’m proud of Ronny, he deserves what he has earned. I think it wouldn’t be a terrible deal for the Lakers to give him, but may be a little high. It’s not my money, so I’d say keep him, just because he has done one thing NO other player in 13 years has-make Kobe act like a fun-loving teammate. The question is that (with his on-court energy and mid-range jumper) worth 17 million

    If the Lakers decide it isn’t, I think the top candidate to replace Ronny at a price the Lakers want to pay is Craig Smith. Kurt Thomas as a last fall-back option

  147. 142.
    great point kwame a. that is what i am worried most about turiaf possibly not coming back. I am worried about what he added to the team off the court. he was obviously an integral part of the lakers good chemistry last year. He was also very close to Kobe.

    While I am proud of ronny, I do remember the lakers standing by ronny when he had his heart trouble when they could have let him go. In my opinion that does deserve some loyalty. But I guess, I wouldnt turn down money either.

  148. The Warriors think that the signing of Ronny is a done deal because the Lakers are already in Luxury Tax Hell. Here’s a good explanation of the power of the bigs from their Golden State of Mind site:

    “It’s not a lot of money for a big man. It’s a really good signing. You all keep forgetting that there are lots of big guys in the NBA who make more than Turiaf and are old, not going to ever get better, and no better than him. Rasho Nesterovic made 8M last season. RASHO NESTEROVIC. If we signed him for 4M, all of you would be crying for Mullin’s head, yet EVERY SINGLE GM IN THE NBA is willing to pay top dollar for decent big men.

    Big men are a rare, valuable, commodity. You can’t just pick up some 6’10” guy off the street. You can do that with 6’5” guys. These guys get paid top dollar, the fact is that Turiaf is a decent youngish player who is being paid LESS THAN THE MLE. That’s a good signing. If the Lakers weren’t over the luxury tax already, they’d match the offer in an instant. He’s not going to be an everyday starter, he’s not going to be the savior of the team. He’ll be a solid, solid guy off the bench. We’re talking about a guy who came off the bench for 20 minutes a game for the WC Champions. Open your eyes people.”

    I hope that the Laker front office thinks about this very carefully.

  149. I like Ronny but the Lakers shouldn’t match that offer. They have to think about the long-term and the possibility of keeping Ariza next year if he performs like most expect that he will after the upcoming season. Ronny’s replacement shouldn’t be too hard to find. I think people are thinking about Kwame Brown wrongly. The Lakers used to start him but he’s no starter. As a sub off the bench for 10-20 minutes a night at the right price, Kwame could help this team. Stop thinking of Kwame Brown as the #1 pick pegged by Michael Jordan to lead the Washington Wizards to prominence. He’s not that guy. A bit player playing a little defense and rebounding on a championship team…he could be that guy.

  150. Finally got a new free agent post up where we can move this conversation. Sorry it took so long.

  151. I wonder if Kobe has sent message (directly or indirectly) to the Front Office that he wants them to retain Ronny. If he did, do people think the Front Office will take that into account?

  152. I think I am going to cry… Ronny was my favorite. What he brought to the team was so much more than his minutes on the court. I trust Mitch to make the right decisions regarding personel (what a difference a year makes) and I know we will be allright. With Bynum coming back there was not going to be a lot of minutes for him anyways. With that being said, I cannot believe folks are still talking about Kwame! Please, for the love of God, I cannot stant to watch that guy play the game of basketball. Just because he has a big body does not make him a basketball player. He can do absolutely nothing other than press his big body against another big body in the post. On the offensive end, it would be worse than playing with only four players, since he would actually be occupying space, and someone may be tempted to pass to him. I will miss Ronny, but we don’t need to do anything drastic…

  153. hmmm…. i foresee a certain chris mihm getting a lot of PT next year

  154. drrayeye (151),,, whats your point? if youre trying to convince people that turiaf is a decent player…. well its a bit superfluous.. and at the same time, i think you are over estimating the value of size. SIZE ISNT EVERYTHING. think about it… two of the best centers in the last few years….rodman and ben, were undersized.
    skill and temperament are way more important than size.
    so if you can give me a 6-7 or 6-8 guy willing to hustle and make plays and battle the bigs, who would also fit our budget… i’d take him