Talking Schedule (And Other Stuff)

Kurt —  August 6, 2008

The new 08-09 NBA schedules are out, including the Lakers.

My thoughts at first glance — the Lakers should get off to a fast start. With the depth of the West there just are few if any “gimmes” but the front end of the schedule is fairly friendly. First, 10 of the first 15 games are home games (and one road game is at Staples against the Clips). While that stretch of games includes a couple against Dallas and one against Detroit, it is not a murderer’s row.

Overall 27 of the first 46 are at home.

The big road trips and some of the toughest games come in late January when a six-game east game road trip that includes Boston and Cleveland among others. Then there is March, which includes most of a seven-game road trip and where for just over a month the Lakers have 12 road games and just five at home. Among those road games are some trips through Texas (which is never easy)

Bottom line, there are going to be some periods in the middle of the season and nearing the end when wins will be harder to come by and the Lakers record will likely flatten out a little. So they need to fatten up early, gain some momentum that can carry them through the season.

The good news is the final few games in April include ones we think should be winnable, which will matter trying to jockey for playoff seeding. In a deep West, there likely will be a team in the bottom half of the bracket you want to avoid (Portland?).

The Lakers open the season Oct. 28 against said Portland Trailblazers in a TNT game at Staples (what to start taking bets now if it starts on time?). The next night the Lakers get their first back-to-back of the year, taking on the Clippers (on ESPN).

Christmas day, the Lakers at least get to be at home this year but they are playing — against the Celtics. Tip-off is at 2 p.m. First comment by an announcer that this game is going to be different than last year’s finals should be at 2:01.

Overall, the Lakers have 24 national television games (that would be 29% of their games). Not sure what the NBA TV schedule is yet, but a few more may land there. The rest will be available on regional broadcasts (Fox Sports West and Fox Sports Prime Ticket).

A couple other links worth checking out:

Hoops Addict is doing the Floor Burn Tournament — a breakdown of the guys around the league who are not the stars but do the dirty work to help a team to win. Asked to nominate a Laker I said Sasha Vujacic (Kobe may actually be the best floor-burn guy on the Lakers but we’re talking non-star). In the first round, Sasha is up against Nick Fazekas of the Clips (and winning so far). Go vote for the man — I’d say he’s a better three-point shooter than anyone you can vote for come November, but then I saw that Obama clip. (Can we sign him for the vet’s minimum? It’s more than he would make as President.)

Really interesting Kobe Bryant interview at youtube, one where he talks about life growing up (hat tip to True Hoop)

For those of you jonesing to play GM this summer there is a new fantasy league set up that is governed by the rules of the collective bargaining agreement — you can’t just sign every free agent you want. It’s run by PASPN.net and you may want to check it out.

On a different note, I wrote in the last thing I did on Team USA that they were doing well against the zone. And, at that point, they had been, even against Lithuania they showed a lot potential with some ball movement and getting the ball inside to bust a zone. But against the matchup zone of Russia and against Australia they regressed. They went isolation and didn’t get the ball to a big flashing through the paint. The outside shooting went cold. These are correctable things, the kind of things that these players know how to do. Having an off night shooting in a “friendly” is no big deal. But the team cannot get into bad habits then flip the switch come the quarterfinals. It almost looks like that is what is happening. Coach K. needs to snap that out of them before things matter in the quarterfinals.

Finally, this is my last post for a couple weeks, as I am off on vacation (Chicago and visiting some cousins-in-law outside Detroit). The posts will keep coming around here, however, from some of your favorite sources. There will be plenty of international and other ball to talk about. Talk to you all mid-August.

Kurt

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33 responses to Talking Schedule (And Other Stuff)

  1. I think it’s a good break that we have a relatively easy schedule early becuase I suspsect that Phil will be trying ot limit Kobe and Pau’s minutes to rest after the Olympics.

  2. Well, as usual we have two late contests with the Blazers in Portland. We’ll see what they’re made of. it’s good that the long road trip at the end of the season is the Eastern trip, and they should be in top form at that point, and best suited to deal with it. Now I’m going to have to take a closer look to see if they can have a crack at that Win number I predicted a while ago.

  3. Lakers again on Christmas… why doesn’t that surprise me… :)

    Well good thing it isn’t against Miami or Cleveland around this time though.

  4. Actually, five games on Christmas day, none overlap. And some pretty good ones too (Spurs/Suns).

  5. Hey, just out of curiosity since I’m new to this all. Does anyone know when individual game tickets go on sale? My family lives in Portland but I go to school in LA and would kill to go to the opener.

  6. Anybody look at the other teams’ schedules? There’s something funky about them. You got games like Wizards v. Celtics in Cleveland, Sixers v. Cavs in Orlando and apparently the Suns and Warriors are going to be playing in Staples Center on April 15th.

  7. j. d. hastings August 6, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    Ugh. I prefer to have the schedules start harder and finish easier, more like last year. This is more like the year before where our schedule started easy and finished tough. Personally, I preferred last year’s result. Maybe that’s just me.

    BTW- thanks to Alex for replying to my incentives/salary cap question in the last thread. Good info. Its too bad you can’t attach incentives to games played, but I guess I understand why you couldn’t in a league with guaranteed contracts and a union…

  8. j.d. hastings: Also consider that the NBA has done away with the “injured” list and gone to a straight “inactive” list where teams don’t even have to have a reason to have a player inactive. Thus, in a scenario where a games played clause or incentive existed, the team would have the power to manipulate that in any way they wanted without having to show any proof or give any reason for why a player is not active.

    As for the schedule, I think that this can work 2 ways. First, as j.d. pointed out, having an easier schedule down the stretch would be beneficial so that a team can pad their record and maybe earn a higher playoff seed because of that. But, on the other hand, having a tougher schedule could also serve as a good preview of what to expect come playoff time and prepare a team better by having to face tougher competition. Overall, I think we’ll be such a tough team that the schedule shouldn’t be too much a concern. If we’re as good as I think we can be, then I think those other teams will be concerned that they have to play us late in the season versus the other way around.

  9. the other Stephen August 6, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    oden and bynum may or may not start. but at last. at long last.

  10. So how many years in a row now have there been a Laker game on Christmas?

  11. Erm.. I think 5 years running already.. I’m not sure though

  12. So I did some research on the Lakers playing on Christmas, and this would be the 10th straight year. 10!

    For trivia, the opponents in order starting from the 1999-2000 season have been the Spurs, Blazers, Sixers, Kings, Rockets, Miami for three straight, then the Suns.

  13. The Rockets are looking real scary on paper… anyone think their gonna live up to their potential?

  14. the rockets are like a playoff-caliber version of the clippers. you look at them and you think they’ve got enough talent to do some serious damage, but they never live up to everyone’s expectations (whether those expectations are warranted or not are another topic). weren’t they supposed to be a contender last year? call it bad luck or whatever, but things just never pan out for them. i’ll believe their potential when i see it.

  15. The Rockets and Pistons look solid – but they don’t scare me until the playoffs. I just hope Bynum returns not only strong but with some improvement AND C. Mihm has a breakout season. Without both of those two conditions, we are going to need some heavy help come playoff time if we are going to make a run of this.

  16. Rockets do have the potenial. If their 3 Guy’s stay healthy. They should make some noise.

  17. ocregister is reporting that the contract offered to signee dwayne mitchell is “more than a training camp invitation”

    http://www.ocregister.com/articles/mitchell-league-nba-2117301-draft-team

  18. Sounds like the kid is a project but possibly a worthy one as draftexpress notes this about him:

    “We’re talking about a player with outstanding upside to continue to improve, who is nowhere near his peak as of yet.”

  19. According to the Daily News Lakers blog, the Lakers also signed Sun Yue.

  20. 17. chibi, the same article also says his roster spot is not guaranteed. Maybe they are telling him he has a real shot at a roster spot. But the roster numbers still say he has an uphill climb.

    Probably the same with Sun Yue. I’m very curious to see him in the Olympics. The people that have actually seen him play lightly have not called him an NBA player right now, so I want to see what he looks like against high-level talent.

  21. Dwayne Mitchell some athleticism at last! Even if he is a
    long shot. Hope he has a high basketball IQ and can contribute some minutes to the back court. If he can defend he might just make the team seeing as how PJ loves big guards.

  22. Athleticism at last? First, remember that Tex Winter said Farmar’s athleticism tested off the charts for them. And that guy who starts at the two guard is fairly athletic. And say what you want about Odom, he’s athletic. Then there’s Bynum.

    People, let’s not get carried away here. We are talking about the guy who sits at the end of the bench all season, whoever gets some of those last spots. Mitchell is going to take minutes from Farmar or Sasha? Fisher?

  23. I feel like an idiot. I thought the gist of the article was that D.Mitchell was all but assured a spot on the roster; I suppose the article just emphasized the significance of the invitation in the context of the obstacles he’s faced so far.

  24. According to an article I read, Sun Yue is going to be signed to a 2-year contract. I’m interested to see him in the Olympics and I think it would be good for him to be at training camp. But I don’t know about a guaranteed contract. But I guess, playing for the Defenders and practicing with the team will speed up his development if indeed he does sign a 2 yr contract.

    http://www.dailynews.com/lakers/ci_10134467

  25. Kurt, don’t forget about Ariza. I’m pretty sure he is athletic, just ask Grant Hill who got dunked on from 5-6 feet away from the basket last season (and that was with an injured foot). The Lakers have athleticism at every position: Farmar at PG, Kobe, Ariza (SG, SF hell his lateral quickness is probably high enough to guard most PG), Odom at PF (he will get plenty of time there this year) and Bynum at C.

  26. I’m sure you guys have seen this report:

    http://www.boston.com/sports/basketball/celtics/extras/celtics_blog/2008/08/kobe_to_italy.html

    What are your thoughts?

    I was really caught off guard.

  27. 25)

    If offerred a deal for $35-50 million a year, Kobe would be insane not to take it. Everyone will talk about him and his legacy and all that, but the dude has three rings, an MVP award, and numerous other accolades. He’s a sure thing first ballot Hall of Famer right now. That would be insane money to pass up, especially with them paying all living expenses and taxes and the weakness of the American dollar right now.

    And to be honest, he would probably make more endorsement money in Europe than over here.

  28. Speaking of athletes, looks like Josh Smith signed an offer sheet from the Grizzlies. I guess their owner is serious about fielding an exciting, attractive ballclub. The West gets a bit a more competitive.

  29. Nice move by the Grizz. IS Chris Wallace still going to be considered a bad GM ( I never thought that was fair. he was doing what he was told.) ? That is a noce young squad they have. Now, if h can trade one of his PG’s for something they need. They can be really good in two years.

  30. Judging from the comments, even the USA Olympic team can’t fend off the summer doldrums. These are really the dog days of summer.

  31. 20 & 24: When the Lakers look at Sun Yue, they see $. Kobe is the most popular basketball player in China, and having Sun Yue on the team will generate even more interest, even if he doesn’t play much.

    I think he’s a borderline NBA player (if he learns how to shoot and bulks up a bit, he’ll be a good backup), but that, plus 2 billion potential fans, is enough to get a guaranteed two-year contract from the Lakers.

  32. (29) LG,

    you forgot the obvious excitement factor (and problem for the announcers) when he finally gets to play against Phoenix:

    “Amare shoots–and Sun comes away with the rebound.”

    “Sun drives through the Suns on his way to a layup.”

    “Here comes the Sun.”

    The possibilities are nearly endless. That alone could be worth a two year contract!

  33. New post up on Team USA roster.