Fast Break Thoughts

Kurt —  September 17, 2008

Just a few thoughts that came to me while I was field dressing a moose.

• If you haven’t seen this, the Lakers are now going to charging higher ticket prices for “premium” games. As a guy who used to have a part of season tickets (friends and I went in together, before we had to put that money toward kids), I saw this coming. Other teams and other sports were doing it, and in a revenue-mad world it was just a matter of time. I know this policy bothers some who see it as another thing keeping the “real fans” out of Staples Center. Personally, it doesn’t bother me as long as there are discounts for having to watch Memphis or other bottom dweller teams as well. I think this is just the way the market is moving, not just in the NBA but in sports across the board.

• Andrew Bynum, tech nerd.

• As a general rule of thumb, trade rumors at this time of the year are less reliable than the ones you hear even in February. And those are usually, um, fertilizer.

• A little Kobe/MJ talk.

• We spend a lot of time here talking about the Western Conference, for obvious reasons, but as I’m starting to really look at the season up ahead I think the East could be just as entertaining this year.

Boston obviously will be good again, but they will be a year older and they lost some depth with Posey gone. How healthy will they be this season? How hungry? You know KG will be but what about Pierce and some of the role players? Can Detroit really improve and if so how — more minutes for Stuckey, Jason Maxiell and Amir Johnson? Can they get Kwame Brown to accept a role and fill it? I like what Cleveland did this off-season, it may not be as much as LeBron wanted but it was an improvement. I think come April and May they could be the biggest challenge to Boston. Then there is Toronto, if JO is right and meshes well with Bosh, there is a very good sleeper team. They could be a team that starts iffy but is rolling when it matters. Orlando is going to be good as well, mixing in with that group.

My opinions are not fully formed yet on the East (or the West or the Lakers) but there are some good and well-matched teams to follow in that conference.

Kurt

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30 responses to Fast Break Thoughts

  1. Don’t forget that Ray Ray is another year older too (33 going on 45 year old ankles).

    It is good to see the East becoming less of a laughingstock. Don’t sleep on Philly, either. They have a pretty good core, if they can stay healthy.

  2. This is kind of off topic, but if anybody would like to buy my 401k off me for a book of coupons and a poster of Kobe, I’m game.

  3. 2, Yours and mine both. And it appears my girls will be going to state school now.

    1. I can’t believe I forgot Philly. Another team that by the end of the season could mesh and be difficult. I think what I see is that Boston can make the finals again, but their road through the season and playoffs will be a lot tougher. (Then again, that first round matchup last year was trouble enough.)

  4. I don’t believe Boston or Cleveland will be too impressive in the regular season; but they’ll be the most dangerous playoff teams in the East. In contradistinction, the Magic and Philadelphia will post excellent regular season records but will falter in the playoffs. The Hawks and Raptors will be middling teams. And the Pistons are a bit of a wild card: capable of playing at a championship-level or playing too (here I invoke one of Magic’s favorite words) *lackadaisically*.

  5. 4. The thing with Boston is last year they were all out all the time, eventually burned out a little and that almost cost them early in the playoffs. Can they let up a little on the gas in January and February to save something for May and June? If they can you’re point about them in the playoffs is dead on.

  6. I think there is a lot more uncertainty in the East. And it will be interesting to see how all of the East’s trades and free agent signings turn out. But I don’t think they have come close to narrowing the gap with the West.

    Given their early playoff struggles, who knows what might have happened if Boston would have matched up with a team like Denver in the first round.

  7. I don’t think they’re a championship contender, but I’m interested in what Miami does next season. Watching the rebirth of Wade during the Olympics has me thinking they may suprise some next season.

    I also think that Cleveland is going to be very strong. If Lebron is anywhere near his Olympic form and Mo Williams is only as good as the Milwaukee version, I think they have enough depth and play strong enough defense to win over 50 games. I also think they’re going to make a trade during the season and grab another difference maker type of player. Ferry has been hoarding those expriring contracts of Zoolander and Eric snow and that’s $20 mil in expiring deals that some team my bite at if they want to dump salary. As Kurt said above, Ferry’s made some improvements, but there is room for more and he’s willing to spend to get it done, especially since Wallace’s contract is only on the books for 2 more seasons.

  8. I really like the Mo Williams addition for Cleveland. They came closer than anyone to beating Boston with LeBron being the only guy who could create a shot for himself or anyone else, and Williams can do both. Of course Mike Brown has to change the defensive habits (i.e. not playing any) Williams picked up in Milwaukee, but he’ll fall in line if he wants any PT in Cleveland.

    Philly also looks like they could be threat, but my only issue is that none of their top 6 players – Brand, Iguodala, Miller, Young, Dalambert, Williams – is a good outside shooter, which will hurt them against playoff defenses…

  9. 8. I agree, but getting a guy who can shoot from the outside is a doable trade.

    Cleveland should be a contender from the east, I think their coach has to bring it this year or he has to go. Like many, there are times I’ve really wondered about him.

  10. Mo Williams is a good shooter but he needs to handle the ball to be effective. Cleveland’s offense consists of giving the ball to Lebron at the top of the key and clearing everyone else out. In that scheme, Mo’s just a higher paid Boobie Gibson.

    In terms of Boston, Ainge made a big mistake by not resigning Posey. That man was clutch. Without him, they don’t win the title last year. Or this year. Or again anytime soon.

  11. Don’t you guys think the Olympics will throw a lot of guys off rhythm? I think it will make for a very interesting pre-all-star break season, where cinderella teams emerge anyway.

    Personally I’m interested to see how Dallas does… Jason was not too impressive in Beijing, and Howard… urgh.

  12. harold,
    I don’t think the Olympics are really going to get guys off rhythm. I actually think it’s going to fine tune their games. I say this mainly because of how focused the players were and how their mindset never wavered from their ultimate goal and how they all did whatever it took to win. I think they bring that same mentality back to their own teams and come out strong. This is especially true for the major contributors like Kobe, Lebron, Wade, Paul, and Bosh. This is gonna be a great season, imo.

  13. @ 10 You bring up an important issue, which is whether Mike Brown will modify his one-dimensional offense to allow Williams to flourish. Under the current scheme you’re right, Williams would be pretty much wasted.

    From a financial standpoint Ainge was probably right to let Posey go, but it will definitely hurt them on the court come playoff time. I actually think he would have been a great addition for the Lakers this offseason (again, more from a skills perspective than a financial one).

  14. 11. I don’t think the Olympics impact most players all that much, at least the ones that were healthy. How many games did they play total, 12 if you count the pre-Olympic tournament? And these were 40-minute games with a deep bench. This was no more taxing than the regular season workouts for these guys.

    The difference could be for the guys who pushed an injury to play. Manu, obviously. Maybe Yao, that remains to be seen. You could even argue Kobe if something were to happen because he did not get surgery on his finger, but that’s really an if. For the healthy guys, I don’t think it matters at all.

  15. About the Kobe/MJ talk, Tex stated what I have felt for awhile about Kobe’s shot selection. For Kobe those shots that alot of people say are forced or he is hogging the ball are not the way he looks at it. To Kobe they most of the time go in and he feels that he may have been the best player on the floor to take them at that particular time. Now a few years ago he just did not really have the supporting cast to pass the ball to for the score, like he does now. PJ said it was like when you make a deposit you expect to get a return. Yea, the East will be interesting to follow this year also.

  16. My grand-uncle-in-law always get to talk on Sundays… one of our hottest topics was between Cleveland and Philly.

    Cleveland adding Mo Williams is definitely a plus. Considering that they are committing to salaries and traded scraps to get him, I think they will be legit. But as you guys pointed out, Mike Brown is their weakest link. If you see Cleveland treading .500 by January-February, expect Mike Brown’s head to roll.

    The other interesting team I like is Philly. Signing Brand was the best case scenario for them – and summer league showed us that Speights is a golden nugget as well. In my book, I am penciling them to be in the top half of the East’s playoff teams.

    Balance is what I look for – and they have just added a legit star in brand. Now there’s no pressure for Daly to score anymore, he can now patrol the paint and do what he does best – swat some shots and grab those rebounds. In terms of team building, I would be looking at:

    1. Offensive forward with sound post moves (Brand)
    2. Defensive center to play with him (Dalembert)
    3. Pass-first PG to facilitate the ball (Andre Miller)
    4. Exceptional outside shooter or exceptional slasher with an outside shot (Andre Iguodala)
    5. Another shooter or an defensive stopper at SF (Thaddeus Young).

    These in mind, they have a good coach in Mo Cheeks plus the young support crew of Lou Williams, Speights and Jason Smith. I think Philly will be my darkhorse.

  17. i say this because in most pro sports, soccer especially, you really train to peak at a certain part of the season. of course for us non-professional folk, the difference is miniscule, but for athletes competing at the highest level, every little thing can count.

    i’m just guessing that the load isn’t as light as you may think because if it was so light, we wouldn’t have athletes backing away from representing their countries.

    or then again, they may be so spoiled that they don’t buy into this representing stuff.

  18. Hey Kurt,

    Love the site. I was hopin you could post on these new random guys that the lakeshow just signed. CJ Giles, Heath, Dwayne Mitchell. Perhaps, you have some more insight on them than others do. I feel as if I know nothing about them except for their statistics (which arent all that impressive). Thanks Kurt

  19. I think Philly could be pretty good if they gel. The only missing piece I see is an outside shooter. They could surprise some people. But need to make a move to get a shooter for the playoffs. Mike Miller is available if they have any expiring contracts.

    i’m mixed about CLE. I think the moves they made help a little but not too much. But they do have some tradeable assets and could possibly make a move if a good one becomes available.

    Wade looked pretty damn good in the Olympics so Miami could also surprise some people as well.

  20. I think Miami will be better (could they be worse?) and they will be very entertaining. Not a contender, but fun to watch.

  21. I read the Lindy’s season preview and the Kobe/MJ piece make an interesting point. In 1995 Jordan came back and the Bulls lost to the Magic in the playoffs. Jordan worked hard on his game and came back the next season to lead the Bulls to the best record of all time. I think something similar may be possible with Kobe and this year’s Lakers. He just suffered the most humiliating losses in the finals (the Celtics’ come back from 24 down and the last game blowout). I think we’re in for something very special for next season. Kobe doesn’t want to get surgery because he wants to click with the team from the start. I really think something great is brewing, folks. I honestly can’t wait for the season to start.

  22. the other Stephen September 18, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    10. i highly doubt that losing james posey will be a big deal for them. i daren’t expect anyone besides the celtics to show their ugly faces in the finals again. it seems to me like all-in-all, they’re going to be an even better team than last year. let’s consider some of their additions?

  23. The OC Register is reporting that Odom has discussed with the coaching staff about the possibility of coming off the bench:

    http://lakers.freedomblogging.com/2008/09/18/full-at-forward-too/

  24. 11) Don’t you guys think the Olympics will throw a lot of guys off rhythm?

    Yes, it would definitely throw their rhythm off. Whether that is good or bad for the quality of their play remains to be seen.

  25. #22 …

    70 plus W’s and a chip are on tap for this season.

  26. LA Lurker Report:

    IMO, the Lakers could start the season this weekend, blending in Trevor and Andrew as the season progresses–at a championship level.

    There are other teams that are desperately in need of time and trades to assemble their pieces. Let me mention a few that could be of interest to the Lakers:

    Chicago is at loggerheads with signing Ben Gordon. Until they do, they seem to be paralyzed. That is unfortunate, because the Bulls have too many guards and need veteran help at forward/center. They appear to be two trades away.

    The Heat have stockpiled centers, with Zo by midseason. They have superstar Dwayne Wade at the 2, and talent at the 3. They are looking for veteran help at the 4 and point, with expiring contract Shawn Marion to trade.

    The Grizz have role players, 4 centers that have never played a day in the NBA, Rudy Gay at the 3, a crowded young backcourt, and a need for a transition oriented veteran Pau Gasol replacement at the 4. Heaven help them. They almost traded for Zach Randolph!

    The LA Clips did some great trading out of desperation, and came up with an intriguing lineup. Unfortunately, they may be a trade away. They have two great centers (Kaman and Camby) when many teams don’t have any, but no replacement for Alton Brand at PF.

    The Pistons seem ready to roll, but they’d like to grow. It may take until mid season for them to figure out how to do that.

    Sactown is rebuilding, and they may have an oversupply of centers–including veteran Brad Miller. They could use help at the 4 or 3–especially if it involved an expiring contract.

    Just a few LA Lurker comments.

  27. Marbury? MUHAHAHAHHA!!! Why would we want Marbury??? If we were in for hot heads we could have definitely gone for Artest, who btw, wanted to be in LA and play alongside Kobe. Marbury is a very bad fit for the Lakers… and I just think it is beyond ridiculous to even think about him in Purple and Gold. hahahaha, dude that was a good one.

    From the times when no one was around to help Kobe, now we have stepped into the times when we have too much talent… Basketball gods can be cruelly cynnical in many ways.

    I just think that Fish, Kobe, Ariza, Gasol and Bynum make up probably one of the best all-around defensive teams at least on paper. And I think PJax will go with that line up. A lot will depend on Ariza’s outside shot, as the small forward has one major purpose of spreading the floor and regularly hitting a 3 in the triangle. That is why RadMan has survived for so long

    I pray that these guys roll so good that Odom will realize that there is no better place than LaLa Land and will stay for less money after next year. He is too good and too valuable for us to lose him because of financial problems

  28. 28. Who mentioned getting Marbury? Nobody here. The Knicks may waive him, but there is no way the Lakers would pick him up, he can’t play within a system, is past his prime and would be disruptive to team chemistry. I’m not even sure where that came from.

  29. new post up talking Odom off the bench.