Summer League and Other Thoughts

Kurt —  July 14, 2008

I’ve now watched both Lakers Summer League games (which makes me miss being there in person, back when this took place in Long Beach, a lot). So I’ve started off this post with thoughts there, and thrown in a few more along the way.

• Coby Karl has simply been the best Laker on the floor, both games. We knew he could shoot (although he was off from the outside against Memphis), but he showed a more rounded game and growth from last year. He has shown some determination and aggression trying to get to the rim, some good play in transition and some good hoops IQ. Early in the Grizzlies game Laker Bryant Dunston got a block then ran the floor, and Karl worked to reward his big with the ball in the paint. Karl’s passing has been good, he showed some ability to see the floor and get the ball to the player in the best spot (including some nice passes to cutters).

One thing Karl clearly has been working on is his defense, and he had some good moments matched up on OJ Mayo. Karl is a pretty long, big body who can get a hand up and bother shooters, which he did at times to Mayo, even blocking a Mayo jumper at one point. He even did a decent job on Crittenton, which is a bad matchup for him. Karl did a nice job getting back in transition to take away easy buckets on several occasions and getting a steal. He drew a charge on a big at one point on a down screen. Where he got in trouble was indecisiveness. At one point in the Grizzlies game Crittenton came off the high pick and roll and split the defense, and went to the rim. The rotations were poor, but welcome to summer league ball. What Karl did was start to leave Mayo in the corner to help, do it half-heartedly and allow Crittenton to kick-out to an open Mayo for three. A version of that happened a few times. He also needs to work on fighting through picks. That said, his defense is much better and he did a solid job on the very athletic Mayo.

• Recent draft pick Joe Crawford has been a mixed bag. A good example is two consecutive Laker possessions in the first quarter of the second game. On the first one he comes off a down screen, gets the feed at the top of the key and quickly spins and buries the shot, a nice bit of recognition and shooting. Next time down on the wing, he makes a poor post entry pass that gets picked off. Another point in that game he makes a nice crossover dribble on the wing and gets into the lane, then just runs over a big who rotates over and gives the charge. He’s sort of been like that through two games, a mix of nice plays and errors.

• I thought OJ Mayo looked professional. In the scattershot style of play in Summer League that is saying something. He handled pressure well when he had the ball, showed range with his shot, the ability to shoot with a hand in his face and some good athleticism (the dunk opening night, a pretty up and under against the three Laker defenders at the rim). He looked like a guy more than ready for the league. Three summer games is far from enough time to tell how good he is going to be, but I liked what I saw. Paired with Rudy Gay, that is going to be some athletic wings (and an entertaining team) in Memphis.

• Mike Conley has a very nice hesitation dribble.

• Memphis went with some three guard lineups — Conley, Crittenton and Mayo — and they should do that come the season. It was a fast, energetic group (which they will need without any post presence to speak of).

• Lakers Nik Caner-Medley and Sharrod Ford play hard on both ends of the floor. That is not going to be enough to get them a spot the Lakers or likely any NBA roster, but I see why they gets paid to play overseas. They probably are on their way to getting a camp invite.

• Two thoughts on the continuing Artest saga, a couple of these reiterations of things said in the comments:

1) Last year the Lakers made two trades, getting Ariza out of Orlando and Gasol out of Memphis. In both cases, there was no pre-trade leaks and discussion. However, last summer there was plenty of leaks and discussion about Jermaine O’Neal for Bynum and other trades that did not happen. Which category does this fall into?

2) To me and just about anyone else, adding Kenny Thomas would be a deal breaker. No way we are taking on $7.5 million this year and more than $8 mil next year, the same year we will have to pay Bynum, Ariza (and in this scenario re-sign Artest). Plus, if you haven’t noticed, Thomas has nothing left in the tank, he had a PER of 2.6 last year. For comparison, the Laker with the worst PER last year was Chris Mihm at 7.6.

Concerns from Spurs fans that I think are pretty valid. That said, they are still title contenders.

• There are some good teams in the final qualifying tournament to get into the Olympics. That includes Sasha Vujacic’s Slovenia team. Here is a breakdown.

Kurt

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62 responses to Summer League and Other Thoughts

  1. PeanutButterSpread July 14, 2008 at 10:05 am

    I can’t wait to see Coby Karl in the lineup next year. Should make the “Bench Mob” fun to watch. I’m excited!

    I’m tired of the Ron Artest saga. At this point, I just want to see LO/Drew/Pau have a chance to work their thing before any crazy impulsive trade happens.

  2. Don’t worry PeanutButterSpread……a Ron Artest trade is not happening. You should get atleast 1/2 a season to see how the LO/Drew/Pau frontline will work out.

    Of course – If LO doesn’t seem like a good fit, look to see him traded before the all-star break to a team looking to clear cap space for next offseason.

  3. the other Stephen July 14, 2008 at 10:26 am

    SON OF GEORRRGEEEE

  4. I’ve been very impressed with OJ Mayo. I know it’s early and I have little to go off of, but I think the Bulls are going to be very sorry that they passed up on Mayo and Beasley.

  5. Coby has been impressive too. But I don’t know how much can be taken from Summer League ball. I love Karl’s basketball IQ, length, and shooting ability. With Jordan, Sasha, and our logjam at shooting forward, how can Karl break into the rotation?

  6. Brandon,

    The Lakers really only have one true three that fits the job description (not counting Kobe): Trevor Ariza. Luke is acceptable under certain circumstances. It may be that Sasha moves down to the 3 sometimes–making room for Coby relieving Kobe (interesting choice of words, no?).

  7. Read some of the Artest quotes in that Marc Stein article.
    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=3485534

    Talking about the coaching situation in Sac:

    “In a way I wish this [coming 2008-09 season] would have been [Theus’] first year and [Adelman] would have left this summer, because it could have showed how much [of] a winner I am. Guys like Rick Adelman and Rick Carlisle [brought] that out of me. Isiah [Thomas] was going to bring that out of me if he didn’t get fired [by the Knicks]. A coach like Phil Jackson can bring that out me.”

    Talking about his opt-out decision:

    “After being around the Kings and letting the missed opportunity soak in, it makes me hungry to play good basketball this year.”

    It sounds to me like he’s saying he’s not a winner unless he has the right coach, and he’s not always hungry to play good basketball. Any player who says he needs a coach to “bring out” him being a winner and that he sometimes lacks hunger to play well, that’s not a player I want on my team.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Artest is crazy. CRAZY. I don’t want any part of this guy.

    The small forward we should be pursuing is Andres Nocioni. He’s a tough, fiery competitor, he can score inside and out, and he passes, rebounds and plays aggressive D. Now THAT’S the kind of player I want on my team.

  8. Hey Kurt,

    Thanks for the Olympic qualifying link. Props to that site for knowing that Ryan Gomes AND Dana Barros are Cape Verdean. I didn’t even know Cape Verde had a team, never mind a shot. As a Cape Verdean myself, GO CABO VERDE!

  9. #7, Matt–

    There’s a thread on Blog-a-Bull regarding an Odom/Nocioni swap. A lot of them point out that Nocioni is a terrible defender.

  10. Just as a point of order, I’m willing to let us have Lakers/Artest talk as there is clearly at least a little fire to go with that smoke. But let’s not start shopping Odom around all over the league, that will not be happening on this site.

  11. PeanutButterSpread July 14, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    All I know is, I just wanna see some Kobe to Coby b-ball action. I can already hear the announcers talking about our two “K/Coby/e-s” and maybe even confusing the two like the announcer did in that Grizz game.

    One thing I’ve noticed is that Coby works hard. The guy wants to prove he deserves to be on that Lakers roster come next year and I hope he makes it. No more garbage time!

    The Lakers can trade Luke/Vlad/Chris and I won’t care. But guys like Coby Karl deserve a chance to prove themselves on the court. I hope Phil is able to trust Coby and let him develop with the Bench Mob, kinda like how Jordy was able to do so in his 2nd year.

    As a fan, the potential lineup I like to see next year is:

    Starters:
    Kobe Bryant / Sasha Vujacic / Coby Karl
    Pau Gasol / Vlad
    Andrew Bynum / Chris Mihm
    Lamar Odom / Trevor Ariza / Luke Walton
    Derek Fisher / Jordan Farmar

    Basically, we could have a pretty reliable and versatile backcourt with Coby Karl, Jordy and Sasha and the front court will probably need the presence of a starter (Drew or Odom) since that was how Phil started most of the 2nd quarter with.

  12. I made a list of teams that can satisfy Petrie’s demands for Artest+a bad contract, and eliminated unlikely candidates. How is that supposed to be “shopping Odom all over the league?”

  13. Kurt,

    Erase my double post.

  14. 7 – You hit the nail right on the head. Artest has never shown any sign of being a consistent player – ever. He singlehandedly set the Pacers back for years with his “I want a month off to be a rapper” act, not to mention the effects of the Great Brawl in Auburn Hills. He hasn’t improved the Kings, either, and Chicago got rid of him in a heartbeat. Track record, anyone?

    Yes, there are questions about how Odom will fit in with Bynum back on the floor. Those questions are nothing compared to the bag of worms that would come south on the I-5 should Ron-Ron be headed to L.A. And there’s no reason to rush to answer any doubts about Odom for the next season before camp is even on the horizon.

    Let the existing roster play together for the first time, and if things don’t work, make a deal during the season when you’ve at least given the current situation a chance.

    Odom’s trade value shouldn’t be diminished at that time, and if people now limit Odom’s trade value as insufficient for landing anything more than a headcase, really they’re just saying Odom has no value to the Lakers anyway. There’s just no basis for those thoughts, in my view.

    Odom was great in the second half of last season, but was later exposed by a bigger, stonger team in the Finals. That failure vs. Boston hardly makes the guy a turd whom we should just wipe off on the grass while welcoming a complete disruption into the locker room, which is exactly what Artest would be.

  15. A big trade isn’t going to happen. Artest might get shipped, but he’s not going to keep his CA driver’s license. He won’t be a Laker. If there’s talk, like there is, it ain’t happenin’. A guy we know wanted a trade a year ago…Kobe’s still in Forum Blue & Gold.

    A mid-season trade helped us into The Finals this past season. If need be, the same card can be played this coming season with Odom (if it doesn’t work out). Maybe we’ll be at .950 by the all-star break and Odom/Andy/Ariza get their deals signed for 3-6 years and we can “cut the fat” on Luke and Radman. I don’t know how that notion sits w/salary cap and luxury tax issues, plus the difficulty of moving those two and their inflated deals, but I hope it works out to something close to that.

    Oh yeah, and Coby Karl is the new King of Summer. Go Lakers!

  16. Hey, any truth to this story in Spanish sports daily Marca about the Lakers going for Garbajosa?

  17. Fanalyst,

    I agree. Some people do not realize, that the team we have is VERY good, and you do not risk renting a player for a year (a HUGE QUESTION mark at that) on a team, that, in all likelyhood, is the favorite to make it back to the Finals, and win.
    It’s very simple. The Lakers only make this trade if they are 100% they canot re-sign Lamar. As far as him not working out, there is no reason to believe he won’t. He played wel once Bynum starting playing well, and even better when Pau came, so I see no reason why he wouldn’t thrive even more with both of them in the line-up. So it has to come down to contract alone. Now if he did get traded, it would have to be for a player the Lakers will definitely re-sign. Why would they take a flyer on a one year rental and mess with cheistry. it would make no sense, what-so -ever.

  18. Kurt (or anyone else who watched the Lakers-Grizzlies game): How did J. Crit look?

  19. Crit looked so-so. He is definitely a talented player, but it looks like he is going to get a bit of time off the bench at the most.

  20. 18. Pretty good in that he is better than last year. I forgot how quick he is and he seems to use that better, understanding how to come off the high pick and roll and use that well. His game just seemed more mature, really picking his places to shoot (he always seemed talented but a little out of control as a Laker). I’m curious how Memphis will use him, with the jogjam they have at the one. He’s make a solid backup PG right now, I think.

    Unrelated, I think my next post on this site will be an Artest-free zone. At least until there is some news other than Artest representing himself. Which always ends well…..

  21. Coby Karl = Marco Belinelli

    Don’t get too excited about him folks.

  22. I’m still in favor of bringing Ron-Ron to LA. But I must admit, my enthusiasm is dying down with each day that Artest opens his mouth. First he was talking about being referred to by his middle name “Bill” and now he’s talking about “Mama Maloof.” I guess I shouldn’t be surprised…the guy has a long history of saying asinine things.

  23. That was my last Artest related comment at Forum Blue and Gold Kurt. Until we make the trade for him of course…

    :)

  24. PeanutButterSpread July 14, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    I don’t think Coby Karl = Marco Belinelli

    For one thing, Coby showed a lot of promise last year during that one game in which Phil pretty much benched was it Sasha or Jordy? and had Coby go in the game to make the right plays. I know it was just one game, but if a guy works hard like Karl does, there’s no way he’s just going to be a summer league sensation. Either way, we’ll see next year when Coby stops playing in garbage minutes.

  25. Um, I think Coby is going to get pretty much nothing but garbage time minutes next season and will spend time with the D-Fenders again. Whose minutes is he taking? Ariza’s? Sasha’s? Farmar’s? Not likely. He’s looked improved in Summer League, but that and $3 will get you a cup of coffee.

  26. PeanutButterSpread July 14, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Well, maybe I’m being too optimistic about Coby’s chance of playing good minutes, but I think he has a chance to do what Jordy did and that was, with continued hard work in the gym, go from a rookie year to playing solid minutes as a bench player in his second. I do see him maybe taking some of Sasha’s minutes if Coby can be come an even more consistent shooter. But hey, who knows, wait and see until next year.

  27. Kurt, based off what you’ve seen so far, and assuming (hoping) that Sasha is re-signed, do you think the rookie Crawford makes the team/get’s a contract offer?

  28. Coby is a valuable asset to the Lakers b/c he’s probably a great practice player. He might even be effective in regular season games, but the truth is, Phil will not give playing time to the 11th and 12th men on a roster. He just doesn’t do it. If Coby didn’t play much last year, how do you expect him to play this year when ther’s actually LESS minutes to go around b/c Bynum is back?

  29. I like the idea of having guys like Coby Karl on the end of the bench. He works hard and has a great back story – I like to think that will to fight is infectious on a team, and all our gifted superstars need to be reminded it does not come so easy.

    But seriously, I doubt he gets any pt really

  30. 27. Maybe, but probably not, it kind of depends on free agency. If the Lakers resign Sasha (as hoped) you’ve got 12, Coby Karl would make it 13. First, we are assuming the Lakers want 14 on the roster to leave room for a mid-season move. If Ronny is allowed to go to Golden State, which appears likely, then one would think the Lakers will try to fill that 14th roster spot with a veteran three/four (Garbajosa, Kurt Thomas, maybe someone else). Unless they think and trust that with a healthy Bynum and Mihm they don’t need more front line depth, then maybe you save money and that spot goes to Crawford (or another deserving guy, although Dwayne Mitchell and Brian Roberts did not blow my doors off, so to speak).

    My guess, though, is no. Crawford is in a tough spot. He may need a year in the D-League to grow his game and see if he can come back and make a roster somewhere, he has some skills. But I don’t get the impression the Lakers have room to pay him to be a maybe.

  31. Uh, I feel Bynum and Gasol need plenty of depth. I’d look to split the MLE with Thomas and Garbajosa, and their set with their big man rotation

  32. In Vegas: Brian Roberts Fighting for a Job
    ========================
    By: Eric Pincus
    The Los Angeles Lakers have a relatively low-key entry at this year’s NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. Selecting at the very bottom the draft at 58, the Lakers don’t have a heralded first-round pick to introduce. Instead the most well-known participant may be the team’s 15th man, Coby Karl.

    To that end, the team has sent out Los Angeles D-Fenders Head Coach Dan Panaggio instead of on the usual cadre of Laker assistant coaches.

    Nonetheless the Lakers have a number of interesting prospects likely to get camp invites and a chance to make the team. In addition to Karl, the squad includes 58th pick Joe Crawford, forward Pat Calathes and guard Brian Roberts.

    Roberts was one of the players the Lakers seriously considered drafting. At 6’2″, Roberts hails from Dayton and is a noted three-point shooter (44.1% career).

    After a making a strong impression on the Lakers pre-draft, Roberts was disappointed not to get selected but hopes to prove himself in Vegas

    “I had a good workout with them before the draft. They really liked my game,” said Robert to HOOPSWORLD’s Bill Ingram. “I just want to go out and show them that I can play in this offense; that it’s a good offense for me. I just want to fit in.”

    It’s generally difficult for the Lakers to field an effective team quickly considering the complexity of the triangle offense. They tend to play better as a unit after a few games together.

    “It’s been a challenge just to get here and learn the offense within a two-day span,” continued Robert. “From the first day I think I’ve gotten better with it. It’s been a challenge, but I’m stepping up to it.”

    In Vegas, Roberts says he is working on “controlling the game – point guard skills. In the triangle it’s s a lot of cutting and moving which is a part of my strength, [as is] my ability to shoot and use my quickness.”

    Through two games, Roberts is still looking to show the Lakers that he’s up for the challenge.

    “Out here in summer league, everybody is fighting for a job,” said Roberts. “I’m just coming out and trying to do what I can.”

    It’s difficult to anticipate the Lakers’ complete 2008-09 roster at this early date. Negotiations continue with restricted free agent Sasha Vujacic. Arguably the team’s backcourt will continue to feature Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, Jordan Farmar and Vujacic. In addition to Karl, Crawford and Roberts the team may also bring in Chinese guard Sun Yue.

    Competition could be fierce with probably just a single roster spot available for a young, developing guard.

  33. Yeah, I like the prospect of either Crazy Eyes (Thomas) or possibly Garbajosa (if he truly plays tough). On a semi-related note, I will say that in limited minutes, UCLA fan-fave Lorenzo Mata-Real is doing his thing.

  34. Folks,the Lakers are only carrying 2 PGs. If Fisher or Farmer twists an ankle and is out for a week,Sasha will move over to PG and I can easily see Kobe K being Kobe’s relief,giving the Lakers 2 3pt shooters for Lamar and Gasol to pass too.

  35. Craig and Kurt – thanks for your thoughts on Crit. I had high hopes for him after summer league last year. It definitely will be interesting to see how Memphis sorts out the PG/SG minutes.

  36. Odom is super valuable at this juncture. Dude is only 29. His game is still growing. He even has a relatively decent contract size for his talent level. And, to top it all off, he is extra motivated to perform at a high level with a good attitude because he is looking for the last big contract he will sign as a professional basketball player.

    There is simply no way that Artest is valuable enough at this point to take him even one for one for Odom. Not to mention, taking a bad contract along with it? Kenny Thomas’ contract came from Philly’s former GM, who was fired for gross incompetence (two more years at $8million a pop). Let the Maloofs, with their casino riches, pay his salary thank you very much.

    Odom will play his heart out for us this year. The real problem will be next year, when someone else tries to sign him for $14 million a year for 5 years…

  37. If we get artest with kenny thomas for odom, hopefully we can buyout his contract or trade it as an expiring contract next year. With Turiaf most likely gone we do need some reliable bigs behind Gasol and Bynum. Thomas would be nice but Garbajosa might be a gamble. Also if Lakers do get Artest, he’s most likely going to take most of the Sf minutes leaving 10-15 minutes. If that’s the case Luke has gotta go, there is too much depth at the Sf with Ariza and Radman.
    Either way, something is going to happen this off season and whatever it is, we shouldn’t be too worried because Mitch has proven himself with his patience and ability over all the negativity throughout the years. This team is young and will possibly be contenders for nearly 5-6 years…depending how Bynum develops and Kobe lasts. It’s a good time to be a Laker fan.

  38. buster,
    “His game is still growing.”

    I don’t think it is growing. Still is limited to his left hand, still not a good outside shooter, still loses focus way too often. He does fit in better with certain sets of players, but his game is not improving.

  39. I’ve got to agree with exhelodrvr in that Odom’s game is not growing. His limitations are real and can be exposed.

    However, the strengths in his game are real as well, and can be quite effective as contributions to a winning team.

    And while I do think that Odom’s *upside* is pretty much reached his limit, I do think that he is a player still in refinement. This year, he did a much better job moving off the ball (or at least was rewarded more often for that movement by other bigs that could pass him the ball in positions to succeed). And, now that he’s got an interior partner that can catch and finish inside, we see more interior playmaking from Odom. I also think that he’s better recognizing his limitations and did not settle as much for the jumper this past season and was more decisive with the ball in either shooting or moving the ball along to the next option in the offense. I mean, he shot a career high FG% and also had his best ever rebounding year, so I think he continues to find his niche as a contributor.

    But overall, we’ve said it a hundred times, Odom is what he is. And while that may never be enough to satisfy hungry critics or be the 2nd best player on a title team, I think he’s a pretty good player.

  40. Agree 100 % on Kenny Thomas, he is a dealbreaker. I still don’t get this fascination with Artest, if we are going to dangle Odom, why not go after Hinrich (perimeter defense, shooting).

    I said it once, I’ll say it again, Coby Karl can replace Sasha as the team’s shooter.

  41. It kinda appears Lakers were/are(?) trying to get Artest w/out trading away Odom. Perhaps the Kings countered by asking for Lamar and trying to unload Thomas and leaked to force Lakers hand.

    The problem I’d have w/Artest is the one expressed so often here. The answer that Phil handled Rodman is missing a key differance between Rodman and Artest. Rodman knew he was a role player and that he was nowhere near the best player on the team. Artest believes he is a star and feels he IS the best player on his team. As much as Artest might respect Kobe,deep down you know Ron believes he can score just as much as Kobe and he’s a better defender and rebounder.

  42. I remember when Divac was up for re-signing a new contract. As I recall, he got alot more than anyone thought he should get. West said, that it was not that he was worth it, but he did not want another team in the Conference to get him. I wonder if that thinking will go into the re-signing of Bynum in the future. I like others do not think it would be right to give him anything around a max contract, at this juncture of his career. I also feel, that if he starts back up where he left off, I do not want any other team to get him.

  43. I would like to see the Lakers keep Odom and play him at the three. He has the size to play the bigger three’s on the league like Lebron, Pierce and Carmelo, and he will have two 7 foot guys playing behind him to help with the faster threes like Lebron, Howard and Caron (I put James in both categories because he is a freak of nature). The Lakers made it to game six of the Finals without the guy who is supposed to be their best low post rebounder and defender. Unless the medical staff is telling them to expect Bynum and Mihm to miss significant time next season they need to let Turiaf go, try to sign Sasha to a 2.5 to 3 million a yr deal for three years and get everybody comfortable in the triangle offense. The Lakers had the best record in the West and played in the Finals while dealing with major injuries and adding their second best player into a complicated offense in the middle of the season. This past year the Lakers major problem was on the defensive end, but a healthy Bynum should help that, if only, because he will limit the offensive rebounding by the other team.
    In regards to comment 40, if Kurt allowed ridiculous trade speculation I would agree that role players like Hinrich and Gooden might make good contributions.
    Also, does anybody else think Mayo looks shorter than expected when he is on the court with NBA players and hopefuls?

  44. Now that I think about it, we did get Bryant from Divac, so maybe he really was worth whatever it was he got.

  45. The main difference between the two is that Rodman won two championships with the pistons. Imho Rodman -was- an awesome player, I’d trade Odom for Rodman in a snap. I also don’t think artest would think he was better than kobe, given that he is one of the best defenders in the league (when he wants to be) I don’t think too many people would understand how good kobe is better than artest.

  46. I’m pretty convinced that the Odom-for-Artest discussion originates in Sacto. Odom is a similar-level player with Ron. Odom is a valuable large ending contract that could fetch a better talent mid-season. The Odom-Gasol duo was very effective until the Finals, while the Bynum-Gasol we have yet to see. The contract situation disparity between Odom and Artest is such that the Lego pieces around them can’t form any reasonable solution – any legal trade cooked up in Trade Machine would grossly favor one team or another, while both teams do have plenty of viable alternatives.

    In open auctions, the winner most times overpays to win. The Odom “leak” both opens the auction and drives up the value even if not true. Don’t the Maloofs know a thing or two about gaming?

    It was obvious to me for months that if Artest were to become a Laker, he needed to have either opted out and gotten the MLE or arranged for a trade-me-to-LAL-or-I-opt-out stranglehold prior to June 30th. He did neither. He valued his current salary-to-MLE premium too much and even said so.

  47. If the Kings want to trade Artest they will most likely have to drop Thomas from any deal. I just don’t see them able to move Thomas. A team would basically be paying 18M for nothing. My guess is that Sac is dangling Artest’s talent out their so that they can get someone to take Thomas as well. But I just don’t see that happening.

    The comparison between Rodman and Artest is a huge stretch. Rodman had issues off the court, but when he was on the court, he was all about winning. Artest has issues both off and on the court. And no matter where he is its always about Artest, I don’t think he cares at all about winning. If he did he would have stayed in Indiana longer.

  48. Maybe the point is Alex to drive up Ron Artest’s value? I haven’t heard so many good things about the guy for a long time, the trade target for artest probably isn’t the Lakers but the rest of the league. Like you say they are opening up an auction, but I think you’re naming the wrong person, they are opening it for Artest. I don’t think they give a s**t about Lamar tbh.

  49. It’s hard to believe that the Maloofs will trade Artest to an in-division, in-conference rival. The logical destination is Miami as they can dangle a huge expiring contract in the form of Marion, and the Kings would avoid trading to its rival.

    Any word on whether Vujacic is even receiving any offers?

  50. This year the problem is small forward, but the answer may or may not be to add a player to the team. Here’s some background from last season to consider:

    Having completely lucked into Derek as an answer at point guard, and relying on an existing Andrew/Kwame tandem at center, the Lakers spent all of the last preseason focused on the power forward position. Lamar was shopped mercilessly across the league, going down the “money” scale–starting with Kevin Garnett, then Jermaine O’Neal, then Gerald Wallace. None worked.

    In midseason, Mitch may have initially approached Memphis with a similar kind of swap in mind, expecting Pau to be paired with Bynum after returning from injury. That’s not what he found. The Grizz were looking for expiring contracts and youth–so he gave them all of the elements that the Lakers had in place for this contract year: Kwame’s expiring (reducing the salary cap $10 million). Mark Gasol as an inexpensive backup center, Critt, and draft picks.

    Let’s face it. The incredible collaboration that developed between Gasol and Odom was not expected and it wasn’t planned. Instead, a team was planned that would have Andrew as the center, Pau as the power forward, and Trevor as the small forward. Two key players that might start this year were not part of the near championship effort. From both a financial and team “chemistry” perspective, it’s as if the trades were made this preseason. Thus, we have a salary cap problem, we have rotation problems, we will have a new team this coming season.

    We need to think through further what we’ve got.

  51. drrayeye,
    I still think you misstate why the Lakers were considering an Odom trade. It’s not because he was a bad fit at SF or PF, it’s because he was miscast as the Lakers 2nd scoring option (ie the Pippen to Kobe’s Jordan; the 2nd best player on a title team). They were looking to get a KG or JO because those guys are proven scorers and would fit better as a true 2nd option to Kobe.

    After making the Gasol trade, the Lakers have really lucked out, but also found themselves in a difficult situation. They’ve lucked out because they were able to slide Odom into a more natural 3rd option and have Gasol fill that role as the 2nd option. The Lakers are now in a difficult situation because they have a higher payroll than they would like to have long term and must now fit Odom/Gasol/Bynum into the same front-court. But those payroll concerns aren’t going away no matter what they do in a trade for this next season(since he CBA rules dictate salary structure in trades) and the fit has yet to be determined (even though we all envision some struggles from Odom as a mostly SF, we haven’t seen it yet).

  52. drrayeye,
    Very, very good observation. We tend to think in the moment and forget the past and future.

    Because of the Gasol trade I think we are ‘land locked’ this year. Almost any trade scenario makes our salary cap problems worse after next year. Besides, we have several developmental possibilities with the current team. I think it would be imprudent to make a change just to make next year golden. We may be golden already and just not know it. However, if we make any real changes we may trash our future beyond next year.

    We have both a weakness and a surplus at SF. I say there is no way to solve that this year and next year Lamar comes off the books and Vlade’s contract is more easily shopped.

    Your comment about PG is cogent. We lucked into Fish and he is probably good for next year, but going forward Farmar has to really improve again this year or we need another option. If Sasha goes we have to sign Mo, but Sasha and Coby should be enough to back up Koby/3rd PG backup.

    While we do need a PF/C backup, I think we wait until the trade deadline to see if we are improving. At that time we have more valuable leverage and the PF/C position is easier to integrate into the triangle.

    Time to get bored this summer.

  53. I’d like to change the topic a little. We’re not really going anywhere with the trade-talks. I would like to ask people here: how do you see Bynum playing next year? Do you think he’ll play all of the pre-season? Do you think he’ll start out pretty strong and get even better as the year goes on? Do you see him a little scared to hurt his knee? Do you see him a little timid on the boards and dunking because of fear of messing up his knee? Do you see him averaging 15 and 10 or better? Will he be the second option or will Gasol be? And if Gasol is the second option, will Bynum become the second option towards the end of the season? How do you think he’ll play against Boston in the two regular season games? etc, etc, etc. Your thoughts please, Laker nation.

  54. drrayeeye and Craig W….

    Our problem is not at small forward. Our problem was an overall lack of mental and physical toughness. If SF is our problem, then what a good problem to have. We didn’t lose the Finals because of our supposed small forward problem.
    If you want to look for a “problem” at a position, then you need to look at PF. We have no backup right now, and might need a player who will not get moved or denied position. We got killed on second chances and didn’t get enough offensive rebounds, and neither of those things could be blamed on this supposed small forward problem.

  55. I got to agree with “get battier” the Odom trade talk is getting old and the Artest stuff has been rehashed a million times in the past 2 years.

    I like the topic of Bynum. I am nervous about his knee and to be honest his relationship with the organization. It seems to be deteriorating as time goes. Especially if his agent insists on a Max contract.

    I hope everything turns out as well as it did last year and everything falls into place.

    (We really need to be grateful for last year even though we lost, we had an amazing season)

  56. To mention Brian P.’s post, I am also concerned about the relationship between Team Bynum and the Lakers. I remember reading somewhere that he underwent rehab for his knee injury in the absence of Laker trainers and coaches but rather under the supervision of a personal trainer. Can anyone elaborate on this? It seems kind of a major issue considering the knee did not heal properly, and if this really happened, I would be privately fuming if I were Mitch Kupchak.

  57. New post up from Bill Bridges on Ronny.

  58. wondahbap,
    I think we have to remember just who the two teams were that made it all the way to the finals. We may not have been tough enough, but not by much. Remember we took a focused and experienced Boston team to 6 games. Let’s not dump all over ourselves because we came up short in the finals. I bet SA wishes they had come up short in the finals. Our young team is getting better and is now finals experienced. Please, people, give us a chance.

    Re Bynum’s relationship to the FO…this is not an uncommon situation. With all our bellyaching about the Laker training staff – players read/hear these things too – it is not too suprising that Andrew would consult his own medical staff. If I were his parents, I would have recommended that. I really don’t see Dr Buss making a ‘Clipper’ mistake. I also don’t expect Andrew’s agent to say anything but that he wants a max contract. If he didn’t do that he wouldn’t be doing his job. The key in these situations is to not back your opponent into a corner and so far no one is in any corners.

  59. As a soccer fan , i can state that i never see something stranger that the bynun injury. Soccer player hurts its knee time to time (see Ronaldo) but are able to return health. When Bynun got hurt, the team expects his return in two months. He didn’t come back and there is doubts on his general healthy. I can support he getting paid for potential. So maybe sign him for a shorter time and amount and see how he recovers. Maybe we can solve the rebounding problem. Some one suggested that Kobe can spend some time in the SF position, specially in defense. I need a clear view of this: can he improve our rebounding hability, get some blocks and steals this way ?

  60. I agree that we need to focus our discussion on the 08-09 Laker team. Here are some strategic thoughts.

    Through trading last year, the Lakers have, in effect, made decisions for this year that relate strongly to the roles of Andrew and Trevor.

    Here’s the dilemma. The Lakers came close to a championship with Lamar, Pau, Vladimir, Derek, and Kobe, but the salary based transitioning strategy dictates Pau, Andrew, Trevor, Derek, and Kobe by next year, with Jordan for Derek the year after.

    Of course, all these things can change.

    Do we go with “what brung us” (at least another year), do we transition slowly, or do we go for the future right away?

    Last season, we went with the future AND with “what brung us” (and mortgaged our future with Pau in the process) and, by golly, BOTH seemed to work!

    Houston, we’ve got a problem.

    Whatever it was, we obviously want to bottle that chemistry from last year, age it, and meet/defeat the Leprechauns with our aged brew. That is not exactly what will happen. Considering our commitment to Andrew and hope for Trevor, our new brew for the coming season may be a little raw, but it will be strong and have plenty of hops.

    Given all the contradictory elements leading to the Lakers 08-09, I think that the Lakers are likely to give us a mix of last year and the future.

    It really all comes down to Andrew, doesn’t it?

    If it were me, knowing nothing about Andrew’s health or readiness, I’d go slow. I’d go back to the start of last year. If we use that rule of thumb, we open with a version of “what brung us” and bring in Andrew with “The bench mob.”

    My only change with the starting unit from last year would be to alternate Vladimir with Trevor from game to game. My “bench crew” would feature Andrew, Pau, Luke, Sasha, and Jordan–with Ronny (or Garby?) subbing in for Pau part way through.

    If Andrew appeared comfortable as part of the bench crew, I’d consider starting him–switching Pau to forward and Lamar to the “bench crew.”

    Given the complexities and uncertainties of bringing both Trevor and Andrew into the mix for 2008-2009, it would be best if the Lakers kept as many players as possible from the last few years together.

    If the Lakers feel that they have to trade for “toughness,” we’re talking about a trade/signing before training camp or a last minute “add a vet” at the end of the season. Mid season trades are not a Laker hallmark.

  61. WIth the current roster the Lakers have soo much flexibility with the rotation. I dont think they should make any trades until they see how it works out. We already know the guards/wing players mesh well together. With Ariza and Bynum healthy we have a team with alot of potential. There’s no reason to jump the gun at this moment and sell the team short before we get a good look on how they perform as a unit. I expect Farmar’s development with the healthy return of Bynum and Ariza should put us over the top.

    We matchup with the Celtics alot better then we think we do. Our lineup of Farmar/Fisher/Kobe pretty much negates Rondo/Allen/Pierce. With Ariza spending time on Pierce through the first three quarters using his fouls their guard/wing players shouldnt give us problems.

    Our big men on the other hand are gonna be a problem. If Bynum comes in and performs the way we want him to we still would need Gasol to improve his mid range shooting. I didnt get the chance to see him play in his earlier years but from what I’ve heard he was a much better midrange player in his first years but was forced to play Centre therefore focusing on solely his low post game. Re-capturing his midrange skills while Bynum continues to improve his back to the basket game would make it extremely difficult for any team to match up with us.

    With all that being said, I think pushing for Posey wouldnt be a huge mistake seeing how he’s coveted by so many teams (which makes him easy to trade to a contender) and provides the 3pt shooting (albeit to a lesser extent) that radmanovic brings with the Defense Ariza adds. It would give us plenty of depth against Athletic wing players with Kobe/Ariza/Posey all being more then capable defenders. Poseys worth cannot be weighed, he creates extra possessions with the little things.. Going for charges, Diving for looseballs and forcing players into bad decisions.

    Well thats my input anywayz, sorry for ranting on, Im leavin to Africa tonite and I wont be back until september.. Hopefully Odom is still on the team when I get back.

    GOOO LAKERS!!!