Bynum’s Deal

Kurt —  July 30, 2008

This topic came up in a series of emails with Reed yesterday — how much do the Lakers pay Andrew Bynum?

The baseline of the market has been set with the deals for Bogut (six years possibly worth $72 million with incentives) and Okafor (six years, $72 million). It makes sense that their deals are similar in numbers, because their on-court production last season was pretty similar.

But let’s compare that to Bynum from last season:

Name FG% TS% Reb. Rate Pts. P36 PER
Bogut 53% 53.2% 16.5% 14.8 17.5
Okafor 53.4% 55.2% 18.5 15 17.4
Bynum 63.6% 65.9% 19.6 16.4 22.6

Here’s a little guide to those stats for those that are new here:

FG%: Shooting percentage
TS%: True Shooting Percentage, think of this as points per shot attempt, it covers twos, three, free throws all adjusted to be a percentage.
Reb Rate: Percentage of available rebounds a player grabbed while on the floor.
Pts. P36: Points scored per 36 minutes of playing time.
PER: John Hollinger’s detailed statistic that gives us a snapshot of the offensive production of a player

The market has been set by the Bogut and Okafor deals, those guys are worth $12 million a year. Now look at the numbers again — Bynum shoots at a 10% higher percentage, grabs a higher percentage of rebounds and scores a little more. Plus, when you think about potential future growth, Bynum is way ahead of those two.

Does Mitch have a choice other than to offer a max deal?

Yes, there is the one number not discussed above — Bynum only played 25 games last year due to an injury. Can you give a max deal to a guy coming off that kind of injury? But, to me, the better question is, do the Lakers have a choice? This is not Sasha or Turiaf, this is the future face of the franchise. If you lowball him, if you try to drag this out, you piss him off and you can end up in a mess (see Chicago). It’s prudent to get a look at Bynum in training camp before offering a deal, but if he is 100%, do you really want to risk lowballing him? (By the way, don’t suggest that Bynum owes the franchise for drafting and giving him training — this is a business, we fans are the only ones with overwhelming feelings of loyalty.)

Certainly it is a risk, offering a max deal to a guy who has looked good for 25 games and is coming off an injury. But young, game changing centers are not something that there are a lot of in the game (quick, name them:: Dwight Howard, Bynum, and, um, ……). There are things worth taking a risk on, and I think Andrew Bynum is one of those.

Kurt

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136 responses to Bynum’s Deal

  1. Gotta pay him. It’s certainly a risk (and it’s not my money) but from where I sit, it’s a no-brainer.

    The better question is, how the hell is Bogut worth 12 mill per?

    That will be a Theo Ratliff-esque expiring deal in 5 years.

  2. I’m sure glad I don’t have to make the decision on the contract. That knee injury is definitely scary, and if this one deal goes sour that will be very tough to work around.

    Mitch gets to work on a Bynum extension at the same time he gets to think about what’s going to happen with Kobe and Lamar…good times.

  3. so when you say max deal, what kind of numbers does that mean? same as kobe, for insatnce?

  4. it seems to me that andrew bynum needs to be paid max dollars.

    one point: kobe is what in his thirties? laker fans, there will be a post-kobe laker some day. eat it.

  5. by the way, nice ad to the right, don julio is my personal fav…makes me want to take the rest of the day off…cheers….salud!

  6. What is the deadline for signing him to a new contract?

  7. I’d give the Max but on a shorter deal….

    Look at guys like Paul, Williams, Lebron, Melo, Wade, Bosh….all those guys got max contracts but took shorter deals in order to maintain flexibility. It makes sense for Okafor or Bogut to *want* 6 year deals, as this may be the biggest contract(s) that they ever sign. If Bynum signs a 4 year extention for the max (like Paul for example, for $68 mil) He can get another big deal when he’s entering his prime. This also gives him the flexibility to leave LA if he wants while still giving LA options because of the length of the deal. Realize too, that on Paul and Williams deal there’s a player option for Year 4.

  8. bynum’s gonna get a max deal from someone, whether the lakers step up or not.

  9. Mitch is the one person that knows the risk of signing a big who proceeds to get hurt early into the contract. I remember the Lakers were paying him for years after he stopped playing, and he never became as good as we hoped. But what can you do? We just Elton bail on the Clippers. You gotta pay him even if you are really worried about his durability.

  10. No choice, it’s a “no brainer.”

  11. I thot bynum was under contract for one more year?

  12. 3. Chris h., it’s actually based on a percentage of the salary cap, so the numbers go up a little each year as the cap goes up, plus the max deal can go up 10% each year.

    7. I think Darius is dead on, a four year, $68 deal like Paul’s makes sense. Remember that the CBA is likely to be redone in 2011, so sign a max deal just beyond that then get a new max at the height of your career.

  13. gametime, Bynum is under contract (his rookie deal) for the coming season, but the Lakers can negotiate the deal beyond that now. With star players getting that deal done early is common, Except in Chicago.

  14. Someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe a 6 year max deal would come in around $109 million (given the slightly higher starting max salary next year over the William’s/Paul class and the 10.5% annual raises). It would start at around $14 million a year and ends at around $23 million in year 6. That’s a big pile of cash for such an unproven player. However, I don’t think LA has a choice given the market and Bynum’s combination of past performance and potential.

    We can all “fight the hypothetical” (as my law professors would say when we tried to argue by changing the underlying facts in play) and say Bogut and Okafor (not to mention Biedrins) are all overpaid and not worth their large contracts, but that argument takes us nowhere. The market is set by what players in certain skill/age/positional groups are consistently paid, whether we agree with those amounts or not. Bogut and Okafor’s contracts are not exceptions, but right in line with precedent for skilled young big men. So, that’s the market. And the reality is that Bynum is in another class (as Kurt’s statistical snapshot reflects).

    First, the PER difference between Bynum and the others (which really just integrates the shooting and rebounding numbers in one place) is substantial. Bynum was 16th in the league in PER, essentially tied with Yao and ahead of players such as Boozer, Wade, Nash, Melo, Iverson, West, Pierce, and on and on. Then, drill down into other stats:

    Okafor: +/- of -.1; PER allowed of 20.3 (at center, where he played 90% of his minutes); PER differential (PER – PER allowed) of -.8.

    Bogut: +/- of +2.1; PER allowed of 18.1; PER differential of +1.5.

    Bynum: +/- of +5.5; PER allowed of 14.8; PER differential of +10.4.

    Bynum blows them out of the water. On every conceivable front. In my mind, PER differential is the most telling stat — it captures the net difference between a player’s efficiency and the efficiency of his direct opponent. It filters out the fools gold, false fantasy performers (the old Marbury, Francis pure stats types) and focuses on a player’s production at both ends of the court. In this regard, Bynum’s +10.4 differential was astonishing. By my count, only 11 other players in the league had a PER differential above +10 last year: Kobe, Lebron, Paul, Duncan, Garnett, Pierce, Howard, Yao, Dirk, Bosh, Billups. Doesn’t that seem like a pretty inclusive list of the 11 best players in the league last year? So, PER differential passes the smell test — it has real evaluative power. And using it Bynum was a top 12 performer in the league last year.

    I share concerns about games played, continued motivation, his knee, etc., but the production and age make it impossible not to max him out. He’s not a “Michael Redd” level max player — one that gets the max because the home team has to overpay to keep him, but then is handcuffed by financially ever after. He’s the real thing — a financial cornerstone.

    So, LA has no choice. If they don’t pay him now, they’ll incur ill will and just have to later when it’s apparent every other team in the league would renounce half their team for the chance to max him out. Don’t fight inevitability.

  15. Reed, where do you get the PER Differential figure from? Your own stats or is it off a site?

    Thanks!

  16. Reed. I thought a max deal for a player coming off of a rookie contract is 5 yr 80M. The max deal you mention is for veteran players, I don’t think a player coming off of a rookie contract can sign a deal for 109M. I could be wrong, thats just what I thought. Can someone clarify.

  17. Robz–

    Got to a player’s individual page on 82games.com (easiest by going to a team’s page first) and then click on the “by position” tab.

  18. Being that he won’t be that much below a max deal (if at all) under almost any circumstances, I’d like to see if he can get through camp and into the season on that knee. If he comes out like last year, you max him out. If he’s slowed by the injury, or his performance isn’t where it was that time last year, you have leverage. I’m sure his agent won’t appreciate that tactic, but what else is going to happen? It’s too big a risk on a kid who has only been dominant in short bursts so far. If he’s on par with last year, he earns the max deal. Period. I hope he comes out and proves his worth and lights it up. I hope he’s healthy and a Laker for life. But wagering the future on a 20-year old potentially bum knee is a tough call. Once again, the FO is going to have to earn their money!

  19. Reed,
    Would you want to do a 6 year deal? What’s your opinion on a shorter deal, but one that still pays the max?

  20. I have mixed feelings on the length of the contract. My general impression is that for non-superstars signed to large contracts (e.g. Bogut, Okafor), their teams prefer a shorter contract and the players a longer one. The teams worry the investment isn’t worth it and want to be able to reevaluate, the player worries this is his one shot to get paid and wants to lock in long term.

    For super-duper stars (e.g. Lebron, Wade, Paul), it is the reverse. The player wants a shorter deal to maintain flexibility and the teams want a longer deal to lock in the player to their team long term. Lebron and co. were wise to pick the short deal because they know they will get a max deal no matter when they hit free agency, so they want to retain the ability to jet if the team isn’t good or any other reason. Opting out on a shorter contract also allows them to rework a deal on a higher salary scale.

    So where does Bynum fit in? Somewhere in between, but I think more the latter than the former. So I’d probably want to lock him in for six years if I were LA, and I bet he’ll prefer the shorter path himself. But, given his knee and all the risk, maybe that tips the scales back towards even LA preferring a shorter contract. I’m guessing that’s what happens.

  21. Ryan–

    That may be right. Some say the max extension for someone on their rookie deal like this is 5 years, $87 million, some say 5 years, $80 million, others say 6 years. Someone should read Coon and get to the bottom of this.

  22. That’s kind of where I’m at as well. I think I’d prefer the shorter deal just to make sure he is what we think he is. As much as I believe in Bynum, he still needs to show more consistency (especially on the health/conditioning front), but I think paying him the max for the chance to see it is worth it as long as it’s a shorter deal that gives both sides options. Plus, leverage works both ways. If he’s truly a monster, he’ll get a super duper max deal when he’s 24 or 25 like Kobe just got a couple of years ago. If he’s not that guy, the Lakers will have some leverage to work on something reasonable and keep him in town to team with Kobe for his end years and still bring in some talent to compliment both of them.

  23. Bynum’s got to be taken care of, bottom line. Whether it’s a max deal or something less that he’s satisfied with isn’t a fan’s call. But the kids has shown every sign of being the future of the franchise, and the Lakers should take steps to lock him up long-term.

    His injury “history” issue is a red herring. Bynum came down on someone’s foot, tweaking his knee in the process. That’s a risk that’s possible for anyone to incur while playing basketball, at any level.

    To say that injury makes Bynum more injury-prone than anyone else is sort of like saying the Bulls shouldn’t have been committed to building around Jordan because he missed most of his second season with a broken foot. A twisted knee vs. Memphis doesn’t make Bynum the second coming of Bill Walton. No one can predict what will happen going forward, but that applies to any long-term deal.

    Anyonce can see Bynum is special based on the little things he does. Great hands. A lot of low-post moves. Excellent touch. And he rebounds like a fiend. Most of those things can’t be taught (see Brown, Kwame), and the areas where coaching and conditioning can be improved have also come along nicely with this kid.

    He’ll be around longer than Kobe, Gasol or anyone else on the roster, and in my view Bynum is a cornerstone around which the Lakers can contend for years to come.

  24. i agree with darius. A 5 yr $87 mill or even $80 mill is way to much to offer for someone who has yet to show some consistancy… I hope bynum proves everyone wrong and tears up the league… there will be no doubt after that about what he is worth.

  25. I agree Darius. If Bynum were healthy all year and kept producing as he was, I would be tempted to lock him in for the max number of years. Given the risk, probably better to keep it a little shorter (which acts to help Drew too given his age and the new CBA, which you and Kurt note).

    Another way of looking at this: how many young nba centers are very good at each of the core big man skills?

    Rebounding, highly efficient low post scoring, ability to draw a double team, low post defense, help defense and shotblocking, passing to cutters and spot up shooters.

    If you define “center” and “young” fairly narrowly, the list becomes quite small (to the exclusion of Yao and Amare for age/position). Most young centers are good at a few things and limited as to others. You have your scoring centers, your defensive/rebounding centers, your perimeter minded centers, etc. Only Howard and Drew put it all together in the complete package. We’ll see about Oden. True game changing centers are so rare these days. We’re lucky to have one. Thanks Jim Buss. Now leave Mitch alone…

  26. I like the 4-year, Paul-like option. Let’s max him out based on what he showed last year, but not limit ourselves for the next half-dozen years should it turn out his knee never heals completely or he never regains that edge.

  27. We also have to remember that we are going to need to resign Ariza, Farmar, and Odom also… if were over the cap now, how are they going to fit them all?! I hope these guys take a bit of a discount and stay with the team but who know… then were back to filling a bunch of holes again, with no cap room…

  28. 23. Chris J: I also believe Bynum isn’t necessarily “injury prone” and people should be careful when accusing him of that. It’s just that with his height/weight and physical style…he did have a knee injury that took a whole lot longer to heal than anyone anticipated. Scary. What are the long term ramifications of that and/or lingering effects? Will it give out every time he does a jump ball? My guess is no, but it if it were my money I wouldn’t be guessing that much.

    Also, he’s a young kid who has been questioned in terms of work ethic in the past (prior to this past season). A max deal on a long term might make him go the other way. There again, the Laker internal communication on both his health and attitude are what’s going to matter since the FO knows a lot more on both fronts than any of us here. His physical presence and skill set are undeniable, but he’s not the first or last kid with talent and size. That said, I see a deal getting done in camp before the season opens.

  29. gametime – Yes Ariza and Farmar will have to be resigned but not necessarily Odom. And if he does, it’ll be at a paycut ($10MM/year?). Ariza and Farmar might end up getting MLE size contracts and by next year….it might be easier to unload Radman.

    This is definitely and interesting time to be Mitch Kupchak.

  30. Furthermore, and with full double-post apologies, I like gametime’s question @ 27 about the future signings. We are certain to run into a Turiaf/Machine situation of lose one and sign the other in the future, somewhere. However, this is why LO is staying a Laker this year. His contact will expire, Ariza and Farmar will get signed (or at least one of them) and they’re both local kids. And we’ll get nothing for Lamar, which is fine because we couldn’t afford him anyway (at any price, really). Then, decisions can be made about Kobe and Pau in a few more years if we’re on multiple championship runs :-) and these guys are aging into the end of their primes.

  31. Reed, I’ve got to agree on the young center thought as well. Even think historically: the centers who had the skill set that Bynum flashed consistently before his injury last year would be relatively short list and would consist of names that had multiple all-star appearances and some that are going to be HOF’ers. I’m not trying to put Bynum in that class yet, but the facts are: when you have a Center that can score on the block, catch and finish on the move, defend the paint both as a 1 on 1 defender and from the weakside, rebound at both ends, and has imposing size, what you have is the makings of a dominant player; a guy that puts you in title contention almost every season. Now, Bynum still needs polishing on his low post moves, but he’s already shown that he has the ability to establish deep position, and that he can gather and dunk over almost any opponent. He’s also shown the ability to make a baby hook over his left shoulder. That’s already the foundation for a very effective low post player (shoot, Shaq bullied the hell out of opponents with that exact repetoire for several seasons). If Bynum adds a little face up jumper and a turn around jumper to his arsenal, he will be a major force.

  32. of course he doesnt deserve a max deal yet, you cant max deal on pure potential… He deserves a nice extennsion all he is right now is hype, and this kid was seriously injured in HS as well. I think he can be great but lets not Allan Houston this.

  33. My personal feeling is the dice are worth rolling on this one. You max Bynum out for the 6 year deal if he’ll do it.

  34. Bynum has the potential to be the dominant low post player we saw last season. We have yet to see it for a full season, though. Is he injury prone or was last year an anomaly? Any max deal is a gamble, but then at the other extreme is the potential low-balling that’s already been discussed on this site. I like the 4 year deal that’s been stated. Keep it somewhere down the middle so he becomes a FA at the prime pt of his career. If he earns max years + $ by then, good for him. I don’t see how we give max both right now though. He’s shown he can be dominant for half an NBA season. We don’t even know if he’d hit a wall come April if he were to stay healthy all season.

    It’ll be really interesting to see how this plays out, on the basketball and the front office side. Bynum is the key to the Lakers going from contender to champion. All the recent toughness talk, the need for enforcers and experience, gets thrown out the window if Bynum is down there anchoring the post, intimidating penetrating guards and altering shots. Gasol doesn’t look so soft with Bynum at the 5. The defensive rebounding load placed on Odom gets eased tremendously. One could go on and on.

    This is why I’m in the “Don’t make any major moves camp.” Gotta give this team a chance and see where we’re at and where we have the potential to be come May. Yes, there’s a quandary at the 3 position, but it’s a quandary other teams would be dying to have. No, Odom can’t space the floor at the 3, and Radman and Luke leave something to be desired on the defensive end. But if looked at from the other end of the spectrum, the lineup could be deadlier than we imagine. Odom at the 3, Gasol at the 4 and Bynum at the 5 would be an INCREDIBLY LONG frontcurt. Balls are gonna be swatted all over the place. Fish and Kobes aren’t really slouches in the backcourt either.

    I’m been one of the advocates for an enforcer-type player on this team, but a healthy Bynum can negate the need for that. Again, we are going to be LONG on that front court. That’s all we’re gonna be hearing commentators and writers say all season: “The Lakers length really affects opposing teams shots.” “So and so had problems penetrating the Lakers interior D and length.” “The Lakers length is contributing to their top 3 placement in the team steals and team blocks categories.” And so on and so forth. We may not be the toughest team, but it’s not bad to be loaded with talent and length.

    Oh, and I can’t wait to see the Rockets and Lakers square up. Epic stuff.

  35. As long as his deal is insurable, you max him out. No hesitation…

  36. Is no one else that concerned about the Rockets adding Artest to their team? That to me sure looks like a team the Lakers are gonna have a lot of trouble with.

  37. 36. Concerned, yes, if they are healthy come April. Yao will be coming off the Olympics, McGrady has a history of injuries and they are paper thin at the point if Alston goes down. Not rooting for any of that, but it’s a question mark. Then there is the question of how Artest fits in, a guy who demands the ball but doesn’t pass, on a team where he is scoring option #3.

    Am I concerned, yes, the Rockets are great on paper. I’d put them as second in the West if healthy and Artest is a good teammate. But ask me again in March and we’ll see.

  38. if artest plays amazing ball on the court and isn’t a distraction of the court, the rockets could become a serious force in the league. i’d have to see it to believe it, though.

  39. sorry, meant “distraction OFF the court”. i don’t know what distraction of the court means, but it sounds kinda interesting.

  40. the other Stephen July 30, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    so when Kupchak said that Bynum is 100%, does that mean he’s seen him in something that resembles basketball action? working out? running around? shooting a couple baskets? or is that just based on the word of doctors, trainers, or Bynum himself?

  41. the other Stephen July 30, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    also, all i’ve seen this offseason is western teams get even stronger. this has been happening year after year, and it scares me. it’s like a freaking pressure cooker.

  42. bynum’s contract should come with exceptions:

    1) pay cut if he gets injured for more than 10 games a season

    2) he hits a wall

  43. No league, not NFL, MLB, NHL, any allows pay cuts for injury or performance. Let’s be serious.

  44. #36: I think Houston will be tough, but when haven’t they been? The’ve given us trouble since Van Gundy first started there so, I’m not sure why I would feel any different now. Does Ron make them better? Of course. Does he potentially cause problems? Of course to that as well. My main concern for us in terms of Houston is there ability to come at us from the wing where we don’t have a lot of people that are great at defense and how now they’ll have 2 wing players that can definitely score the ball. But my main concern for the Rockets in terms of bringing in Artest is the hierarchy and how he fits. Look at it this way, when he was rumored to come to our team, there was the thought that Kobe and Phil would keep him in line. That Ron’s respect for Kobe would allow this to work because he would not see himself as the best player, as he would see Kobe that way. In Houston, will he think that way about McGrady? About Yao? I have my doubts, and ultimately if he goes into *I’m better than ya’ll* mode and sees himself as the best player, that could spell trouble for Houston and their chemistry. And remember it was their chemistry that allowed them to rattle off all those wins last season…

  45. I think we could throw Andres Biedrens numbers into that mix as well. I also think that GM’s are pissed at The Bucks for setting the market high with Bogut…

  46. I’ll respect the Rockets when they earn it. Win a playoff series, for a change. I wasn’t even scared of them when they had their big run of wins last regular season, because they stuck of a team peaking way too early. Health is one thing, but they have to earn their mettle and show they can close a team out in 7 or less. Until then, they’re a talented after-thought.

  47. 23) “ut the kids has shown every sign of being the future of the franchise,”

    No he hasn’t. Durability is a huge part of that. You can’t be the future of the franchise wearing a suit sitting behind the bench.

  48. Are we sure that Bynum has the drive to push himself and be worth that max contract? how do we know he’s not gonna sit on his laurels once the cat is fat?

    The other two reservations I would have about a max deal is that 1. Bynum isn’t as good as D12 and 2. while he and Pau bring different things to the table, Pau offers more versatility, experience, and shooting touch as of right now. I always got way more of a sense that Pau was excited to be a Laker than Bynum was. I think that makes a difference in the ceiling of players. Kobe loves playing the game. So does Pau. Kwame does not. Does Bynum?

    I’d say the chance is probably 0.01% given the way Bynum’s agent was talking but maybe the Lakers can do the same thing the Spurs did with TimmyD and tell him they’d pay him the max deal if he wants it or show him what kinds of things they can do in the near and long term if he takes a 10% less than max or something. Hey, If Agent Zero would take less than a max deal, anything is possible.

  49. Gatinho I was just about to mention Biedrins as the way the Lakers might try to go w/a $10-12mil base and some easily attainable incentives. But it really doesn’t matter what the lakers want to sign Bynum at,it’s what Bynum wants to sign for.
    On a max contract,the second season can see a $10.5% increase and that amount is the raise for each succeeding season,not 10.5% increase each season.(A theoretical max of $14.65mil could have a raise of $1,538,250 each yr.)
    If I understand it correctly a team can make a Maximun Qualifying offer that has to be for the max and for 6 yrs w/no opttion yrs. Usually teams agree to extend the rookie contract which can be for 5 yr,but it includes the option yr so it’s considered 6 yrs. The extension of a rookie contract can be for anything up to the max.

  50. I think the question should be not whether Bynum gets the max but when. LA has little leverage in setting a lower salary given the market and Bynum’s perceived value around the league. But, they do have leverage in terms of when they offer the contract. While you don’t want to pull a Chicago/Atlanta and drag along discussions needlessly for months and years (especially where as here the player’s market value is pretty set), you can hold off to conduct due diligence and mitigate risk. So, if I were Mitch I would tell Bynum’s camp in training camp that the team is open to giving him a longterm max deal, but they want to wait out a certain period of time to make sure the knee is sound and Bynum fits in well with Gasol. That way, Bynum sees that the team believes in his value, but feels a little pressure to maintain last year’s work ethic and focus. But, you don’t want contract issues hanging over Bynum during the season. So maybe Mitch says we are very open to the max, but don’t want to discuss it until Christmas, at which time we will evaluate Drew’s progress.

  51. 50. Amen!

  52. Houston can get out of the first round now, but jumping all the way to a title is a huge stretch. Who on that team has championship experience? Artest is a proven player, but not a proven winner: he helped to destroy the Pacers by brawling with civilians, then led the Kings to the wrong side of mediocrity. OK, he didn’t have much help in Sacramento, but he showed almost no pride or drive in his years there. Yes, a change of scenery can do a lot for a player, but it can’t change who they are. Even on his best behavior, Artest requires too many shots to get his points.

    Houston will have one of the best defenses in the league, but their 3 best players have a talent for underachieving. Two of them are injury-prone and one of them suffered the longest suspension in NBA history. Getting all 3 together for a championship run will require more luck than most teams would want to bank on and the greatest coaching job of Rick Adelman’s career.

    In short, if all goes well for the Rockets, they should earn the 4th seed in the west (behind the Lakers, Hornets and Spurs), nudge out Utah in the first round, and lose to the Lakers in the second. If injuries or “personal issues” come into play, well, the west is competitive enough that they could find themselves fighting for the final playoff spot.

  53. the other Stephen,
    About the Western teams getting stronger–we said the same thing last year and we also had the most competitive race in NBA history. However, we also had teams slide down the hill somewhat last year. While I think some teams will be stronger next year – including the Lakers – I also thing some teams will fall off. We all talk about the improvement, but neglect to mention teams going the other way. I don’t know who they will be, just that there will be some slippage, along with some improvement.

  54. China lost to Australia today.

    Sun Yue played 26 minutes with 1 assist and 2 turnovers, but only hit 1 of 5 shots.

  55. Not to come off as a huge Rockets supporter, but while we (the Lakers) did not win the title, we did prove that losing in the first round and advancing deep into the playoffs and ultimately the Finals is possible (and regardless of the result from game 6, we were in that series…enough re-hashing that though).

    Kobe was often viewed as a divisive figure and we had a player (in LO) that is viewed as an underachiever. Now, I’m not comparing Kobe to Artest, nor am I saying that LO is like McGrady or Yao (as I actually think that Houston’s duo have a history of being more accomplished/talented players than LO). I am also not saying that I think the Rockets *will* accomplish what we did this past season or that Adelman is as good a coach as Phil (I don’t believe that at all). But, what I am saying is that it’s definitely possible for Houston to take a major leap forward next season. They have the talent and they have a very good (but not great) coach. Will it take some luck on the injury front? Yes. Will the team need to have a strong chemistry (much like our chemistry improved)? Yes. Are there other pitfalls they will need to avoid? Yes. But it’s not that crazy to think that this is truly possible nor is it crazy to think it will. I haven’t made up my mind on where I think Houston will rank next year. But *if* those guys stay healthy, and *if* they mesh well, I think they are a legit contender. They have the talent, some experience (veteran players who have been in some battles), and definitely have the defense. So, ultimately, it’s not that farfetched.

  56. I do not think that Artest is a silver bullet for Houston. I mean, they were already trouble for us last year without Yau, of course we were shorthanded too. We will have to see what happens this year. It seems like the West will be fun to watch, Olympics first though.

    Go Team USA…

  57. Bynum’s not a max player yet. Just because the morons in Milwaukee vastly overpaid for Bogut doesn’t mean Bynum should get superstar money.

  58. Random Team USA tidbit: many US olympians flew out of my local airport, SFO to Beijing. Before flying overseas, Kobe stopped by my local comic book store to pick up a few things (they wouldn’t tell me what). Apparantly he called ahead and arranged to do his shopping after the store had closed, along with two unidentified friends.

    Not living in LA anymore, I don’t get the chance to see stars on the street, and it was a huge thrill for me to hear of my two hobbies meeting in this way.

  59. It’s the preseason and teams don’t have their final rosters,still it’s a good time to imagine how the season will unfold. Personally I think that if the Rockets finally break thru and win a first rd series they will go on an extended run because the pressure will be off of them and they will just be free-ballin’.

    As to who will be powers and top seeds,first you have to take into account a teams Division-that is where 20% of their games are.
    In the Pacific the Lakers are the Alpha Dog w/only Phoenix able to contend. before the Shaq trade the Suns had the best record in the West,so are they that team,or the struggling post-trade team.Unless they can find a legit scoring 2/3,they’ll be somewhere in-between.(If I were the Suns,I’d go after JR Smith heavy,offer the full MLE,try and do a sign-n-trade for Barbosa,whatever.) GS and the Clippers don’t impress me too much,they look like they just signed players that were out there w/out a coherent plan in mind. I read a GS fan’s strong defense of their moves and I’m still not sold on them. The Kings are fully into a youth movement.
    Utah looks to repeat as top dog in the NW. If either Almond or Miles gains Sloan’s trust they have a significantly better bench-esp w/Korver there for the full season. Denver looks to be sliding down,and they have no bigs they can rely on.(If I was Denver I’d try to trade coaches w/GS. Denver looks like a classic Nellie team.) Portland has to win an extra 13 games to match the Jazz. Gonna be hard to do-esp for a young team that has gotten even younger this off-season.( I know they’re getting Oden back and improvement from another yr,but check out their record w/Jones and w/out him-and Jones is gone. That’s an awful lot of games to make up.)Portland and Denver will prob battle for the 8 spot,but that’s about it. Seattle and Minn will continue being bad.
    In the SW it’s hard to imagine NO,SA and Houston not grinding away at each other. Any one of the 3 given good health could win the Division. Dallas could regather itself under its new coach and come on strong-or it could get old fast. Memphis will be bad.

    For now in my view it’s
    The Lakers
    The Jazz(I think they kick it up a notch this yr)
    The Hornets,Rockets,Spurs,Suns in no particular order
    Dallas
    Denver/Portland

    NO got a huge boost from the All-Star game and that seemed to kick-start their fans and inspired the team. I see them as being very good,but w/out that extra inspiration. I have a feeling SA is about to go on its last big run. I have no idea what to expect from my Rockets-if healthy they are in the 4-5 seed range,and if Artest flops I can easily see him,Francis’ corpse and a Chuck Hayes being dealt to Miami for Marion.

  60. If Bynum gets offered less than $1 of his max extension he should walk (unless it becomes known that his knee injury could potentially cause future problems, which both sides have stated is not true)…if someone like Nene Hilario signs 6 years/60 mil, and Bogut gets paid 6 years/72 mil, you sign Bynum tomorrow, you sign him yesterday, you just sign him

    The star of the team threw him under the bus a year ago, the head coach was starting Twinkletoes Brown over him and probably would have kept doing so if Kwame didn’t get injured/implode afterwards..this just isn’t the time to play hardball..do you really want him to feel like the team doesn’t want him or considers him expendable?

  61. Th Lakers will wait until the later part of the preseason. If Bynum’s knee looks good and he’s healthy, the Lakers will offer the max. The only thing to be negotiated is the number of years.

    If Bynum’s knee and health have any questions, there will lots of negotiating.

  62. Max salary, max years, max deal.

    I happened to have gone to a few of those 25 games last year (including the spectacular Christmas performance) and am fully signed on that he will be our face after Kobe rides into the sunset.

    Remember those videos the Lakers put out of Bynum working out right before the playoffs to scare teams a bit. He looked pretty, pretty good in that and those were months ago.

  63. 55 – Darius hit right on the spot, houston can definately do it, just like how the Lakers, Hornets (until playing against the spurs anyways) and Celtics last year had an absolute good run of luck and almost no major injuries that forced players to sit out a month or three, Houston can definitely vault themselves into title contention if the Chinese National Team doesn’t run Yao into the ground playing in the Olympics. If I were the rocket management right now I would be secretly hoping that China gets knocked out in group play so that Yao gets more rest…

    52 – what underachieving are you talking about?? T-mac NEVER had the higher seed in playoffs until the past two seasons and those orlando teams were hooorrrible w/ the exception of t-mac, if anything, t-mac overachieves given the supporting cast he’s had, the only exception was two years ago when rockets were perceived as teh favorites and even then not by much (remember the Utah team DID reach the conference finals and take arguably the best playoff team that year, the spurs, to 6 games, two more than the cavs). Yao’s been playing about 100+ games per year and the rocks have to live with that because he’s chinese, think about how many games the big cactus plays…

    Concerning Artest, there’s no risk at all, for one artest likes Adelman, says he’s the best coach ron ron’s had, if that doesn’t work out, rockets can just pawn artest off to another team as an expiring contract (Denver? for part of that huge trade exception?) or simply waive him and be done with it. Artest knows this, that’s why he’ll try his best and take his crazy pills and don’t go capping some bitch.

    Bynum’s knee is a legit concern but i doubt lakers will play hardball, Jimmy Buss (remember him?) will definitely get Bynum the max so that Jimmy can look good and get cuddly with Laker’s next cornerstone so that Papa Buss will let him inherit the business instead fo giving the Lakers to Phil and Sis Buss

  64. Hilarious! Artest is already causing problems with teammates! Yao mentioned the fight in Detroit and Ron Ron made a phone call in retort. Trading barbs in public before he even puts on the red and white…can’t wait to watch their situation implode!

  65. 55-

    One key difference between last years Lakers and next years Rockets is a starting back court that had already won 3 titles. Yes, the Lakers made a first round loss to Finals leap in one season, but between Jackson, Fisher and Bryant, that’s a lot of championship experience. The Lakers also added Pau Gasol, who is far more of an impact player than Ron Artest. I know that you were not trying to imply that the Rockets “will” get to the finals, and I agree that they’ve taken a step in that direction, but I really wouldn’t bet on it.

  66. “I understand what Yao said, but I’m still ghetto,” Artest said, according to the report. “That’s not going to change. I’m never going to change my culture. Yao has played with a lot of black players, but I don’t think he’s ever played with a black player that really represents his culture as much as I represent my culture. Once Yao Ming gets to know me, he’ll understand what I’m about.”

    You see, Ron doesn’t need to change, Yao does. Now lets all be culturally sensitive and let him choke out any jeering fan in the first 5 rows.

  67. Anybody watch USA/Turkey this morning? I have it DVR’d for tonight, but have not watched yet. Honestly, it’s tomorrow I think is more interesting, Lithuania plays a lot of zone and plays the kind of international game that can give the USA fits.

  68. #65 I’m with you there. Having Kobe, Fish, and Phil really is an advantage when talking about true championship experience. But, look at Boston…they only had Posey as a player with Finals experience when their season started (though they added Cassell later) and their Coach was one that didn’t have the stature of Adelman (who has been to the Finals twice and made deep playoff runs many other times) and Boston won the whole damn thing with veteran know how and the experience that they had collectively. So, while I agree that it’s a big jump to make, last years Finalists (us and Boston) showed that it’s not impossible to make that type of leap a reality.

  69. I just read that Artest comment.

    What a fool. That is why I never wanted the Lakers to trade for him. He’s still an ALL-NBA NUTCASE. As an African-American, I am offended by his comments. Going into the stands to pummel a fan because he threw beer on you is not a black thing. It’s a foolish thing. Funny how RonRon has to make the fan “understand where I’m coming from,” but didn’t want to rep his ‘hood against Ben Wallace.

  70. Two games in a row with Team USA starting slow and then edging into a route. They seem to need to feel teams out and better figure out the international scene. This is why they have the “friendlies” as a warm-up, so no need for concern.

    Ditto on Lithuania, that’s one that’s going to be the biggest test yet. If Turkoglu would have dressed for Turkey this morning it might have been tighter, but the end result likely the same.

    Sooooo glad Artest (and Kwame to a lesser extent) went elsewhere…Kwame would have been OK, maybe, but this moron in #93 is a lightning rod for controversy and clearly has diarrhea of the mouth. He’s already clashing and hasn’t even laced up his new shoes yet. Maybe character guys like Battier can shut him up once they hit camp? But I hope not…

  71. This is off topic, but can anyone else not stand Chris Sheridan’s USA basketball coverage?

  72. yao ro bynum?
    http://khandorssportsblog.wordpress.com/2008/07/30/yao-ming-or-andrew-bynum-you-make-the-call/

    I guess I would prefer yao in the next 3 years with Kobe still at the peak

  73. A shorter deal would be in the Lakers best interests. But considering his injury history, it’s not in Andrew’s best interests, and because of that, I don’t think his agent will push for a shorter extension.

    The kid’s talent in unquestionable. He’s a max-level player. The only question in his health, and as JONESONTHENBA alluded to above, the only potential barrier is the insurability of the contract.

  74. What is Bynum’s injury history?

    An injury in high school? A freak injury last year? The Lakers didn’t let Turiaf go to let Bynum go too. Turiaf’s extra money is going to Mr. Bynum.

  75. Lakers Confirm Working Out Tractor Traylor
    Source: Orange County Registers
    ==========================

    The Lakers confirmed Wednesday that former NBA player Robert “Tractor” Traylor has been invited to their El Segundo practice facility for a private workout to be conducted Thursday.

    The 31-year old Traylor has not played in the NBA since the 2004-2005 season, when he averaged 5.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in 74 games with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    Traylor will be put through an assortment of drills by the Lakers’ coaching staff that likely will include Bill Bertka, who has been at the practice facility this week.

    If the workout goes well, Traylor likely would be signed to a non-guaranteed contract and invited to training camp.

    The Lakers currently only have 12 players under contract but general manager Mitch Kupchak said Monday that he plans to have 18 players signed by the time training camp begins in October.

  76. 74) What is Bynum’s injury history?

    In the past 4 years, he has missed most of two seasons due to injury. In the other two years he averaged 7 minutes per game once, and 21 minutes per game in the other.

    His recent injury took significantly longer to heal than originally anticipated.

    One report I read following his injury stated that he is slightly bowlegged, and has a wider-than normal pelvis for someone his size, which increases the likelihood of this type of injury.

    That is not a track recod that suggests durability, and it SHOULD concern the Lakers. A max contract for Bynum would hamstring the franchise (no pun intended) if he does end up injury-prone. They may end up having to give him a max contract due to the realities of the market, but it will be a risky move to do so.

  77. My memory must be failing me, but my recollection was that Bynum “hit the wall” his first 3 seasons and there were no significant injuries.

    The guy was only 20 last season.

    Last years was a freak accident and was serious (look at the replay). An MRI is not exact, doctors all say that only going in for a scope can tell you the real, exact extent of a knee injury.

    Bowlegged? Large pelvis? I’ll take that over Greg Oden’s microfracture surgery any day.

  78. I know Greg Oden is in a rookie contract obviously also, and does anyone think he’s going to run into the same situation as Bynum should he miss any portion of the season in the next few years? His big surgery and all…Bynum going down and missing all but 21 games, both under 21 years old. I’d love to see a decade of these two banging around under the hoop but can’t feel too solid about that now. These are big young men with serious questions about their physical well being in the future. I think both franchises have to be aware and not worry about offending players and/or agents by waiting to see before writing the check. Too much is riding on it and it’s better to anger one player than the rest of his teammates and millions of fans by pushing too much money across the table for too long on a potentially bad drumstick.

  79. Off topic, but, the Dodgers have Manny Ramirez for Andy LaRoche and Bryan Morris!!!

  80. Bynum took longer than expected to heal from his latest injury???

    Does anyone remember all the flack the Laker medical staff took 1 year ago? Does anyone think the players didn’t listen to some of this flack? Does anyone think 19yr old players with east coast parents might just think twice about investing all their eggs with the Laker medical staff — without getting any 2nd opinions?

    Now does anyone think 20yr old players with east coast parents are capable learning from experience.

    Look, Andrew went his own way on his conditioning last year and was successful. He also went his own way in his medical rehabilitation last year, but was not nearly as successful. I suspect Andrew will listen to the Laker trainers and doctors closer this year – though he still will probably retain his own medical experts (I would if it were my $100M body).

    Let’s start this discussion with a balanced history of what has gone over the last few years.

  81. 79. I like it as a rental. But the Dodgers cannot play Manny and Pierre in the outfield together, somebody has to catch the ball.

  82. 80) “Let’s start this discussion with a balanced history of what has gone over the last few years.”

    Absolutely. Nothing senior year in HS. 7 minutes a game 1st year in the NBA. 21 minutes a game second year in the NBA. 35 games third year in the NBA. about a month of All-star level play.

    That is not a max contract resume. You want to see a young center/max contract resume, look at Dwight Howard’s first three years. Now the Lakers might need to give Bynum that much, but he hasn’t earned it yet.

    77) “I’ll take that over Greg Oden’s microfracture surgery any day.”

    What’s your point? THis isn’t a discussion of who has had the worst health history. This is a discussion on 1) whether or not Bynum has earned a max contract and 2) whether ot not the Lakers will “have” to give him one due to the market.

  83. In a YouTube video of Michael Jordan addressing a gym full of kids, Jordan concedes that a younger Kobe Bryant would beat Jordan one on one now.

    “In my prime.” counters Jordan, he’d beat Bryant easily. “No contest. … Let’s just say,” he explains, in what seems to be a little dig at Bryant’s defense, “that I’d have a better chance of stopping him than him stopping me.”

    On the same (edited) video, we get to see Jordan shoot from all over the place, and duel all kinds of campers, without missing a shot. He even dunks, a few times.

  84. 82) You are the one that brought up Bynum being slightly bowlegged, not me.

    Let’s see, we have a 20 year old center, 7 feet tall, big body, good hands, can play and score with his back to the basket, rebound, pass, block shots … He was becomming a major star, at only 20, before suffering a season ending injury he has completely recovered from. He has shown he is intelligent and willing to work hard.

    In the Western Conference there is Yao, Shaq, Tyson Chandler, Greg Oden, Chris Kayman, Bierkins, Miller, Duncan, – have I left anyone out?

    Nobody is arguing that Bynum put up huge numbers his first three years, but he showed every indication that he can do so the next 15 years.

    If the Lakers took your approach, they could lowball Bynum, piss him off, and eventually lose him in free agency. But at least they would be “right” that he didn’t have a “max value resume.”

    I know that will be a real consolation for me personally.

  85. The Lakers drafted Bynum when he was 17. Perhaps they shouldn’t have done this; then he would have been drafted by someone else. Since they did draft him, they had to understand that his 1st 3yrs would be very sketchy and he would probably not come into his own until his 4th yr (his contract year). We fans, of course, didn’t have this understanding — we wondered why he didn’t dominate in his 2nd year and we bagged on him (along with others) continuously. In his 3rd year he started to put up numbers no one in the organization expected until his 4th year, until he got hurt. He followed his own doctors advise and it took him longer to recover than the Laker doctors thought it would – although he may have discovered a deeper problem by doing this and saved himself some pain on down the road.

    In any case – he was going to look at some serious money only after his 4th year, until he performed beyond expectations in his 3rd year.

    We can delay the inevitable and sign him to a max contract next summer or we can sign him at the end of training camp this year. The difference isn’t when the contract starts, just another season to evaluate his injury propensity.

    Since Buss usually errs on the side of the player – until he is ready to deal him – I suspect Buss will take the injury chance and sign him this year; thereby assuring him of the players good will. It is the first contract he will negotiate and this is where the player develops loyalty to the organization – if any develops any at all.

  86. 81. I see what you mean, it will be interesting to see how Joe Torre handles this without the benefit of a DH spot especially with all these outfielders…

  87. wtf . . . i just finish my game, and log in to see what’s up, and i find out manny got traded. damn it. oh well. enjoy him dodger fans, he’s gonna crush NL pitching.

  88. As to Bynum sometimes you do pay for potential.
    Orlando gave McGrady the same max contract they gave Grant Hill. Hill was coming off multiple All-Star seasons,T-Mac wasn’t even getting 32mpg in Toronto.(18-22-31min/game,and his coach didn’t want him,questioning his work ethic,desire,etc. Sound familiar?)
    No doubt the Lakers would prefer to extend him for a few yrs at around $8-10mil,but they can’t. Bynum has shown a willingness to at least try and improve all aspects of his game,which cannot be said of too many other young bigs. The Lakers know he’s going to get the max,Bynum and his agent know it,they’re just negotiating over length,options and can the Lakers lower the salary w/bonuses.

  89. Craig W. has a great point, in that if the Lakers made any mistake with Bynum in any of their dealings with him, it was drafting a 17 year old; and not the prospect and/or complications and/or risks of maxing out that (now) 20 year old. If you draft a 17 year old physical specimen, you have to know that unless he’s a catastrophic failure you’re going to max him out. It’s two things: (1) hopefully inevitable; and (2) a valuation of your scouting system and decision makers…they were either right or wrong! Money goes where the mouth is eventually, right?

    “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

    I don’t envy the FO now, nor did I prior to last season or even prior to Pau. But, they managed that and we got to watch a presence and some type of effort in The Finals. So I, for at least one, trust them right now and will wait and see what happens.

  90. The support at such an informed blog kind of scares me a bit. We’re getting fan blinders guys.

    This guy has had work ethic issues his entire career, and has played a grand total of 25 CLOSE TO all-star level caliber games (he would NOT have been an all-star in the west had he kept that up for the whole season)…and we’re talkign MAX contract deal? Are you KIDDING me? This is rampant speculation if I ever seen it. Sure he’s 7 ft tall, sure he’s got nice hands, sure he has the potential to get some low post moves (he still has NONE), this is not a max contract player by any stretch of the imagination unless you’re SPECULATING beyond belief. Folks, this is what caused the tech bubble. Get out of this thinking. I know you guys are starved for the absolute best now, but there is a good probability that the franchised would be crippled for the next FIVE years off of ONE bad contract. Its happened to other organizations…please don’t let it happen to us.

    25 games is a small sample size. Guess this player:
    Pts Rbs
    20 5
    14 8
    8 4
    14 8
    10 4
    8 8
    11 4
    21 7
    9 7
    17 4
    16 19
    30 14
    13 3
    14 7
    11 6
    16 6
    16 7
    18 13
    26 24
    20 10
    23 12
    8 6
    7 7
    9 8
    6 10
    10 10
    AVG: 14.42/8.5–> not exactly but guess who this is

  91. Ap, Its not that we want to pay him the max but the market has already been set for a player of his caliber. Do you think Emeka, or Andrew B. are better players than Bynum? Again in this scenario its not so much about what Bynum has earned as a player during his career but more about how much value the league puts on a skilled big man that are so hard to come by.

  92. I think the Lakers would’ve had more leverage in negotiations if they had resigned Kwame but since that didn’t happen it only raises his value to the team even more in seeing that we don’t have a true starting caliber center on our squad!

  93. Were There Any Key Positions—Such as Center—
    That Needed a Great Player in Order for the
    Team to Have a Great Offense or Defense?

    There have been the long-standing rule of thumb that a great center is necessary for a great team, but is it necessary for a great offense? Few of the top offensive teams really featured a center in their offense. The top team that used a center a lot was the Denver Nuggets, which had the 6′ 9″ mid-range-shooting Dan Issel in the middle. The Celtics of 1988 used post players Robert Parish and Kevin McHale less than any year in the 1990s except for McHale’s first year of 1981, and they were at their offensive best. Other than the O’Neal teams and the Lakers teams that had Abdul-Jabbar (and others), most great offenses deemphasized centers.
    Just something to contemplate.

  94. Warren “Addendum” Lim August 1, 2008 at 4:31 am

    There seems to be a growing sentiment of “caution” in dealing with Bynum. He is worth a max but we feel we could just squeeze a couple of millions more just to save on Ariza? or Farmar?

    If we put it in the proper perspective, Bynum (his agent for that matter) does not care about the other kids, he wants his kid to be taken cared of coz he needs to feed his aunt, his kids, his grandparents, his children outside of marriage and his dog. Suppose we do save 2m from the deal, do you suppose that matters in calculating the “risk” of losing a possible (and I mean very possible) franchise player? How much then woould you choose to overpay just to get a star to play for you? Let alone facilitate all the other demands?

    Buss has continually said he and Mitch are “capologists”. They look at the payroll every single time they meet and it is being considered in every single thing the Lakers choose to do. So now I ask, you pay some guy 5m being a shooter but you don’t pay someone twice that to be your franchise player?

    In the end, I believe the basketball Gods will make ends meet. In the end, Bynum will be a Laker for at least 4 more years. In the end, its just a question of perspective.

  95. #94 … Are you discounting Hakeem Olajuwon’s Houston Rockets as an example of a potent offensive team? And/or Tim Duncan’s Spurs?

    Although under-sized to a certain extent, IMO, Big Men (like Duncan, Issel, Sikma & Hakeem, etc.) who defend opponent Bigs, consistently & effectively set up shop on the Low Block or have the ability to run the floor & step out to shoot the perimeter J, should all be considered as Centers in the NBA.

  96. sT,
    The value of centers is that they allow you to play in many different ways. When you run they bring up the rear. In the half-court they draw people and pass or score. However, the center’s true value is that they effectively occupy space and prevent options for the opposing team – the reason GS style basketball will find it hard to win at the highest levels. They shrink the court (for both sides) and draw enough attention that the perimeter players will be open. A good part of the triangle offense is predicated on movement and reaction to get all players open shots, but even this offense benefits from a large body moving to-and-fro across the baseline.

    First – we have to remember that large bodies are hard to find. Second – large, athletic bodies are even rarer. There have never been a surplus of these people in NBA history – most have been lugs.

  97. Hakeem was the center for the Rockets. Even when they had the Twin Towers w/Sampson,Ralph played the PF spot. The 80’s Celtics were about as potent on offense as you could want,Robert Parrish was known more for his scoring than his great defense. Dr J got his ring because the team added Moses Malone.

    As a general statement you can’t go too far wrong w/the statement there are two kinds of Title teams-those w/a dominant big man-and those w/Michael Jordan. In the Jordans baseball yrs the four teams that contended for the title were Rockets-Knicks,Rockets -Magic(Hakeem,Ewing and Shaq.)

  98. This thread starts with an answer: pay Andrew the max because he is at least as good as two other players who’ve already been paid the max. The significant evidence presented is the basketball performance of Andrew and two other players last year–on an adjusted percentage basis.

    Isn’t that pretty skimpy?

    Decisions about Andrew’s contract are business decisions, not basketball decisions. Business decisions require the laying out of various alternatives and articulating risk/rewards before even considering a decision. Here’s a few.

    Until his third year, Bynum was not the starting center. Even in that third year, Andrew only became the starting center after Kwame Brown was injured. The performance basis of a comparison between Andrew and the other two players is fewer than 25 games with Andrew as the starting center versus years of play as a starting center by the other two. Isn’t that a pretty limited basis for making a decision?

    What is the average number of years that an NBA center contributes at a high level as a starter? Shouldn’t we look at such information before we decide how many salary years to offer Andrew?

    Andrew is 21–and already injured twice. Andrew has been no more than average in getting down court, and his mobility on defense is also no more than average. Could nagging injuries from playing a full season of at least 30 minute games further limit his mobility?

    The Lakers were winning before Andrew started last year, and the Lakers almost won a championship after Andrew could no longer play. The Lakers can’t revert to the team Andrew had with him before he was injured because they traded for Pau Gasol. Isn’t there a possibility that bringing Andrew back with new teammates or old teammates playing new roles will destroy team chemistry?

    To give Andrew a max contract next year and keep critical existing players, the Lakers will have to go deeply into luxury tax. The player the Lakers may have to give up to meet Andrew’s salary demands next year is Lamar Odom–unless Lamar gives up most of his veteran salary to young Andrew. Is it worth losing Lamar to give Andrew his bucks? What if it’s Lamar that gave the Lakers their surge last year, and Bynum can’t produce with Gasol–who he’s never played with?

    Although Andrew was improving on defense last year, he had a long ways to go with his “old” team. Will Andrew be able to “click” with his “new” team or will he bring a questionable Laker defense further down?

    Don’t assume that signing Andrew to a maximum extension is the only possibility. Some people, with a more objective outside view, suggested that the Lakers consider trading Andrew rather than trying to reconstruct a team with him this year. Until I had considered everything, I wouldn’t decide on anything.

  99. There’s no reason to max Bynum this fall– he only becomes a restricted free agent at the end of season, so the Lakers can match anyone else’s offer.

    Really the only danger is that you annoy him by not paying him the max now, and then he takes a one-year qualifying offer for 2009-2010. But given his injury history, how likely is that? And he doesn’t seem like the type of player who would thrive in Europe, so that’s not a major concern.

    I think the Lakers should only offer about 10M a year now, maybe 12M with incentives like in the Bogut contract. If he wants more then he’ll have to earn it by playing well for a full year.

  100. Luke:

    Re: “I think the Lakers would’ve had more leverage in negotiations if they had resigned Kwame but since that didn’t happen it only raises his value to the team even more in seeing that we don’t have a true starting caliber center on our squad!”

    Right??! What games did you watch? Kwame would have strengthened Bynum’s leverage. Kwame’s a joke. Funny how people are turning on Pau. Pau can play center. Bynum will get paid, as soon as the Lakers KNOW that he is healthy.

  101. Oz,

    I agree with you, but I don’t think Bynum and his agent could feel low-balled by an offer. He has more to prove before he can feel disrespected by an offer. Look at what happened with Deng and Gordon in Chicago. They turned down offers last year, and are paying for that now. They will not get more than they were offered last year, and maybe not as much. With Bynum injury history, another one would dry up the well. If he makes it through the season, playing well, and injury free, then he would have deserved his payday. The Lkaers have all the leverage right now, regardless of what Luke thinks. They have Pau, and Bynum coming off of an injury after 35 games. If negotiations get messy and improbable, then they have one of the best trade assets in the league, while still maintaining a top cailber team.

  102. #97 … Stephen

    re: As a general statement you can’t go too far wrong w/the statement there are two kinds of Title teams-those w/a dominant big man-and those w/Michael Jordan.

    Change the first part of your sentence there to read as …

    those with a dominant big man and a suitable collection of competent Guards and Forwards with complimentary skill sets

    and change the final part to read as …

    and those with a player who is ‘Jordanesque’ with a comparable side-kick to Scottie Pippen (as his running mate)

    and, then, I will agree with that assertion. :-)

  103. I think Kurt and Reed’s sentiment that lead this post needs repeating. The market has been set and it’s the market that drives business decisions. Has anyone bought gas lateley? Even the generic gas station that sits across the street from the Chevron knows what to do when Chevron raises it’s gas prices….even if they’re an inferior product, the market has established what their product is worth and quality is just a backstory to what the market dictates, especially when talking about an item that is ultimately necessary.

    And with Bynum, we’re not talking about an inferior product. The numbers that are stated by Kurt are real. Is the sample size smaller? Yes. Should that matter? Of course. But we must also look at *why* the sample size is smaller. He was a player that was drafted out of highschool. He played for a coach that treated him with the philosophy of putting players in positions to succeed (meaning, you won’t play unless your very much likely to have success in those minutes, however extended or limited those minutes may be). The player also had limited basketball experience so he had more to learn than the average young player. When taking all those factors into consideration and then analyzing his performance and career arc to this point, and then ultimately take into account the marketplace, I’m not sure if this is even a debate worth having in terms of dollars per year. Length of the deal? That’s a different angle and is something that I think these negotiations will ultimately hinge on. But to say Bynum’s not *worth* the money? I don’t see how that’s an argument.

    (On a sidenote, anyone comparing the # of games played, also consider age. Bogut will be 24 in November and played 2 yrs. college and Okafor will be 26 in September and played 4 years of college. Bynum will be 21 in October and didn’t play one minute of college ball. So, when considering everyones age, Bynum is the superior player right now. He’s worth the money.)

  104. Louis Williams deal further confirms that Mitch did well with Sasha.

  105. (104) Darius,

    In basketball, fans might focus like you do here. But not in business. A contract with Andrew isn’t like filling up at Chevron and paying the prevailing price at the pump for premium. It’s more like getting married and pleasing both friends and families. It’s a decision for life.

    Choosing two “comps” of the moment and supposing an entire multimillion dollar decision that could effect the Lakers immensely on that basis is not how business decisions are made. We all understand the “law of the bigs,” which was set before most of us were born, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t many things to consider. And we don’t consider alternatives with a preconceived decision in mind: we take our time.

  106. drrayeye,
    So now you’re saying that Bynum could be the odd man out? I thought that was your argument for wanting to trade Odom…

    Ultimately, this all depends on how the Lakers view Bynum. Based off their past actions with him, I think we have a clear picture on what that view is. The team has refused to part with him in various deals that would have landed a more established player that could have helped us win more sooner. No need to re-hash those non-trades, but this is a fact. From that, isn’t it safe to assume that the Lakers think that Bynum is part of the long term solution for the Lakers, that the FO views him as a strong piece for the teams future, not willing to send him away for a better chance at present glory? His injury history is what it is. He was hurt in HS and he got hurt last year. Is it a gamble to invest heavily in a player like that? Sure, but we traded for a big man this past season that hasn’t played a full season since his 2nd season, I don’t see anyone here claiming he’s a risky investment. Questions about his work ethic, I think, are unfounded. Yao Ming also had conditioning issues when he came into the league, but he is renowned for his work ethic. My point being, you can’t necessarily say that the two are linked. Bynum came into this season with great conditioning and didn’t flinch when his minutes were extended due to Kwame’s injury.

    Who here doesn’t see Bynum as a future part of the team? Who here doesn’t think that he’s as good as Bogut or Okafor? That’s my point. This is a business, but tell me the factors that come into play that tell any person that he’s not worth what those guys are worth, and probably more (considering that HE IS BETTER.)

  107. Just a heads up, it’s about time for a new thread but that will not go up until likely late tonight early tomorrow, when I finally get to watch the USA game from this morning.

    If you haven’t seen it, draft Express with a detailed look at the Warriors and Clippers:

    http://www.draftexpress.com/article/NBA-Scouting-Reports,-Pacific-Division–Part-One–2975/

  108. (107) Darius,

    I like Andrew. I like Lamar. I like the Laker team as it is. I’m not much in talking about who’s best, because basketball to me is a team game. I feel that the Lakers have a knack for putting together basketball teams that wins the right way, with a combination of athleticism, style, and intelligence. I’m a fan.

    It gives the Lakers a certain amount of leverage in negotiations, and it requires them to make better decisions within a disciplined framework. A decision to offer Andrew a dramatic increase impacts Lamar, because Lamar is the only player that has a large expiring contract for next year–and they are well into luxury tax territory already. Support for Andrew may mean good bye Lamar as soon as this year. This is a big decision.

    The Lakers need to reach a level in which the coaching staff feels comfortable with a long term decision on Andrew. Maybe they are. I don’t know how the coaching staff feels, but I would not want to make a decision on Andrew today, and I’m not sure when I would be ready.

    The way things are, Lamar will remain part of possible trade scenarios, accelerated by over budget signings. The Lakers will make every effort to keep Andrew in the family, but not necessarily by mimicing what they do in Milwaukee.

  109. I think in the end, whether the Lakers pay Bynum the max or not, they are still going to be over the cap, so it’s not going to help us get any significant free agents anyway. So, let’s go ahead and pay him max money and secure him now.

  110. I was asked this by another blogger and I’ll throw it out for ideas: Most underrated player in the NBA? David West?

  111. I like West but the man was an all-star.

  112. drrayeye,
    Ultimately, payroll is *the* concern. You can’t pay everyone top dollar. I think we both understand that. In the end though, I think that Bynum is more important than others on the team for the long term, and that includes Odom. I’ve been an advocate for Odom, but if he’s here beyond next season it will be at a reduced salary, and even then it’s not a guarantee that A). we’d want him and/or B). he’d want to take less money. Also there is no saying what happens beyond next season with Ariza, Walton, Radman or any other role player which may also affect Odom’s status on the team. I’ve always said that Odom is a key piece for us, and I believe that, not only for next year, but I’d love for it to work long term. But, Bynum is even more important, and to me now is not the time to waffle on his value. I’m not saying pay him tomorrow. Even his agent knows that right now, Bynum is not negotiating from a position of strength. But whether it’s after training camp or during the season, or on the first night of FA next off-season, you offer the kid what he’s worth. I do understand that the longer we wait, the better idea we get as to what his value actually is, though. And if we let this next season play out, he could level off some and we may not want to commit max dollars and everyone would be happy that we didn’t pay him. But, do you think that’s likely? I don’t. He’s gotten better every year he’s been in the league. Last year he showed tremendous growth and showed signs of dominance, and on both ends…rebounding and scoring and protecting the rim. Can you say that about Chandler? Curry? Kwame? You can say that about Howard but he’s the only other HS to Pro’s Center that has shown what Bynum has besides maybe Jermaine who I consdier a PF and not a C.

  113. Although, that was a home-town coach appointed position, so you may be on to something….

    (sorry for the double post)

  114. Sorry for the double post, but I gotta say Calderon to Kurt’s question. Either him, or Kevin Martin.

  115. There is no way the Lakers would trade Bynum! I mean who could you possibly trade him for? What teams would you be willing to trade him to? Obviously not the west so that eliminates half you’re choices right there. So that leaves you with the eastern teams. Name one situation in the east where we could trade Bynum and get back in return equal value! I’m just guessing at this point but there are probably not that many.

  116. I think the Lakers should offer me 20 million dollars not to play for them like the Packers did to Favre. Believe me, it’s a much better option than having me on the roster.

  117. I just looked it up, and the max for Bynum for the next couple of years is only (!) $13.7MM, so maybe the difference between that and 10MM isn’t worth worrying about. Length of contract will probably be more of an issue.

    (I was going to say I didn’t like the idea of locking him up for the max before he’s even made it through a whole season without breaking down , but I was thinking there was a much bigger difference at stake.)

  118. Hi Darius,

    Good post. I share your enthusiasm; we’ve both worked through Lamar’s situation; and the most likely big picture scenario seems to be much as you describe. However, I’m not nearly as sold on Bynum as you are, though I wouldn’t go quite as far the other way as Kobe did before last season with his famous quote.

    Andrew did show truly remarkable unexpected improvement, but he seldom played basketball before being drafted–even in high school. He’s still only 21.

    As an NBA player, Andrew had no better stats than Kwame did for his first three years overall, and in year three it was a tossup between slightly better performance by Andrew vs. a full season as a starter for Kwame. Jermaine O’neal didn’t really show his full potential until year 5, nor did Chander (+) or Curry (-) until they were traded.

    I think that the Lakers will give Andrew every chance to show his potential, and are capable of giving him by far the best opportunity for addition income through endorsements, so it’s hard to imagine a better total $$ opportunity than LA–whatever the deal. The Lakers will be less likely to over exploit him than other teams.

    Having an agent pushing for max everything before his time may not be beneficial at all to the beneficiary.

  119. Kevin Martin is fairly underrated as well. I think its the haircut…

  120. I hate it to say it, but I think Kendrick Perkins is pretty underrated.

  121. I think that Ty Chandler is rather underrated. He is super long, and quite coordinated. He has a good team spirit, too…

  122. I feel Shaq believes he’s the most underrated player in the NBA being that when he gets mad “he wins championships” and nobody seems to believe him. Maybe he can now call himself “The Big Underrated”. Both as a baller and a rapper, of course. It makes sense, since he did lead the Suns to an upset victory over the Celtics in the NBA Finals and his new freestyle rap album went triple platinum. Hey, wait a second…

  123. Kurt – I took at look at the sorted Roland Rating on 82games.com, and I was surprised by:

    -Ginobli having the 3rd best Roland Rating in the NBA

    -Vince Carter having the 16th best rating (I guess he’s not completely dogging it)

    -Maggette having the 23rd best rating

    -Dunleavy having the 32nd best rating

    -Ilgauskas having the 35th best rating

  124. Some follow-up to my last post:

    -No one mentions Ginobli for any of the all-NBA teams, yet his per/minute numbers suggests that he should be in the discussion.

    -Vince is clearly among the most talented players in the NBA, but I don’t think many people view him as a top producer any more

    -There’s a lot of value to putting the other team into foul trouble, which is what Maggette does. He’s also not as bad of a defender as his reputation suggests.

    -I knew that Dunleavy played better last year, but I still thought of him as a bust until I saw his Roland Rating.

    -Big Z shows how far height + skill goes in the NBA. He can’t move, but he’s still a force.

  125. Brandon Hoffman,

    I think Andre Miller is overrated. Dude’s 32 already, and all we ever here is he’s finally with the right team, or situation…blah, blah, blah…every year. Has he ever led a good team?

  126. As for the Bynum deal, I’m kinda split. He’s NOT Dwight Howard. Dwight is the instant max player. However he has much better upside and somewhat current production than Okafor or Bogut. So, I’d like him to get a deal at about 12.5 mil with performence incentives that would allow it to top the 6 year 80 mil deng got.

  127. Warren “Addendum” Lim August 2, 2008 at 4:41 am

    The current market price set is already overrated as is. There is no way in Earth Bogut and Okafor are earning 12m (so is Deng but he’s a quasi-big) but that is the going rate these days. Fighting the stream might eventually lead us to drown.

    Bynum is a dilemma of sorts. His injury is bittersweet for us even though we know we still have a full year of audition.

    Drray, I have shared your view countless of times. Allow me to disagree a bit this time on our otherwise unbeatable tandem.

    As I have said, the question of losing Lamar has NOTHING to do with Bynum’s expected and supposed extension. He is a player of his own and he brings to the table what the team sorely needs – defense and interior presence which we have sorely missed since the “big aristotle/diesel/cactus/underrated” left.

    If we begin once more to tap the topic about Lamar, its the Gasol deal that did him in. If ever the business or basketball decision comes to its close, Lamar will be traded because of Gasol, not because of Drew.

  128. 1) Most under-rated right now?

    re: his status as a SHOULD BE league all-star

    Jose Calderon, no doubt, whatsoever.

    2) The entire premise of the initial topic is inaccurate, as the contracts signed by Bogut and Okafor do NOT automatically represent the ‘Baseline’ for re-upped salaries by effective Big Men in the NBA’s current marketplace.

    Baseline denotes a flatline, bottom-end measurement. There is no indication where those two contracts stand on the continuum of NBA salaries … i.e. they could be in the Middle, at the Bottom or at the Top … as far as effective Big Men. Only time and more signings will tell.

    Food For Thought

  129. Warren,

    I think you’re right in a historical sense. Gasol should have been traded for Odom, since Pau was brought in as a power forward.

    With Bynum coming back this year, Lamar becomes the odd man out–either by being asked to play the 3–or because Bynum’s additional salary needs to come from somewhere.

  130. With no major injuries and a roster of Kobe, Lamar, Gasol, Bynum (healthy), Fisher, Ariza (healthy), Vujacic, Radmanovic, Walton, Farmar, TURIAF, Mihm, Karl, Mbenga, Newble, plus Phil jackson, as the head coach … the Lakers were my pick to win 70+ games this coming season AND the 2008-2009 NBA championship.

    At this point, however (during the off-season), after making the decision not to re-sign Ronny Turiaf (a significant loss, IMO, at least from a chemistry standpoint, if nothing else), it is still a wait-and-see proposition, as to what the Lakers’ actual/final line-up is going to look like come the fall.

    Not signing Artest was a terrific move by Mitch K. & Co.

    Who they pick-up to replace Turiaf, if they choose to go that route (or not), will be a critical factor in deciding their fate come June/2009.

  131. I say Tracktor Traylor will be the replacement for Ronnie, and the big body to muscle on Kendrick Perkins. just got to keep him healthy for a full season, but with the depth of this team, they should be able to keep him fresh and in “game shape”
    plus he’ll be available for the vet minimum, right?

  132. New post finally up

  133. Khandor, while I can agree with you that the recents deals for Emeka and Andrew B. aren’t neccessarily the floor price for skilled bigs you’re argument proves nothing nor does it solve anything! If Emeka and Andrew B. both sign for 12 mil per year deals in the same year who cares what the other bigs signed for in years past! This is the new market price as set by the deal signed THIS YEAR. I hope you don’t expect Bynum’s agent to sign for less since his client hasn’t played a full season because everyone around the league knows what Bynum’s true value is and you better believe they would be willing to give him the max as soon as he becomes a restricted free agent. The Lakers know this as well so to prolong negotiations is pointless to me. See how he holds up in preseason and pay him his money.

  134. Hi, Luke.

    Nowhere did I say the Lakers should:

    i) Pay Bynum less than Bogut or Okafor are getting from their teams; or,

    ii) Hold up their negotiations with Bynum.

    Neither did I say anything about salaries which were paid by any team in a prior year.

    Sorry, but, I have no idea where you got these notions from reading my message(s) in this thread. :-)

    What I said was …

    The contracts signed by Bogut and Okafor (i.e. pertaining to this off-season) are not necessarily the ‘Baseline Measure’ for what an effective Big Man SHOULD be paid in the current NBA marketplace.

    As is … mine was NOT a statement made to PROVE A POINT or SOLVE a problem, per se.

    My statement was an observation which is pertinent to the Lakers/Bynum negotiations.

    i.e. If Bynum’s eventual salary/contract comes in at a dollar value which is MORE than Bogut/Okafor then someone could legitimately say that the deals Bogut & Okafor have signed are the Baseline Measure, in comparison to Bynum’s (and perhaps others); if Bynum’s eventual salary/contract comes in at a dollar value which is LESS than Bogut/Okafor then someone could legitimately say that the deal Bynum will have signed is the Baseline Measure, in comparison to Bougt/Okafor (and perhaps others). It works both ways. Capeche? :-)