Three Pre-Camp Topics

Kurt —  September 25, 2008

Training camp is just days away for the Lakers, and with that guys are rolling into town, final signings are taking place and there is almost some basketball to be talked about. But there are a few newsworthy areas to cover.

• First, DJ Mbenga is back for camp. As I said in the comments, I think this is really “Chris Mihm Insurance.” If Mihm is back to being close to his old self, DJ doesn’t make the roster, but if Mihm is not back, you need that other big body on the bench.

UPDATE: Eric Pincus had more details, and DJ Mbenga’s contract for this season is guaranteed,

Additionally, the Lakers re-signed center DJ Mbenga. He’ll make $880,658 this season, fully guaranteed. He’s also under contract for next season although his $959,111 is either partially or non-guaranteed.

Based on that news, I’m re-writing the next paragraph.

Apparently the Lakers wanted a little insurance along the front line, as Mihm has not played in a couple of years. With that, via Eric Pincus, here is the roster for the Lakers for camp. There are 19 players, the Lakers can carry a max of 15. Of that, 14 have guaranteed deals. So, Karl (maybe Crawford) can get the 15th spot on the roster, but that is about the only drama heading into camp.

PG Derek Fisher/Jordan Farmar/Sun Yue/Brandon Heath
SG Kobe Bryant/Sasha Vujacic/Coby Karl/Joe Crawford/Dwayne Mitchell
SF Lamar Odom/Trevor Ariza/Vladimir Radmanovic/Luke Walton
PF Pau Gasol/Josh Powell/CJ Giles
C Andrew Bynum/Chris Mihm/DJ Mbenga

• If you read just one thing today, make it the Slam interview with Andrew Bynum. Some of this was discussed in the comments of the last post, but I think a couple things are worth breaking out and discussing:

Basically, this off-season I’ve been focusing on dribbling skills and developing a 15-20 foot shot, which should be able to free me up a bit more so I’ll be able to face up against defenders and be able to make moves against them. cause it kind of got to a point where people were trying to take the middle away from me. So now if I open up, and I see that they’re sagging off, I can pop a little J and they’ll have to play me honestly. And it’s just easier.

I think the strongest part is probably sprinting down the court early and getting deep post position. I think if I get deep post position, there’s really nothing anybody can do. I can finish right, left, and just have a variety of different moves I make thanks to Brian Shaw, Gerald Wilkins, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, also Kurt Rambis, just teaching me every day, working out.

Frankly, the first answer scares me but the second answer is a little balm on that. Every time Kareem gets interviewed about Bynum, he gets asked about the skyhook, and every time Kareem says that Bynum was more interested in developing a face-up game ala KG than learning a hook shot. I think if Bynum added a little 12-foot jumper to his game, it would be a big help. But, as Brandon Hoffman said in the comments, if Bynum falls in love with that jumper like Patrick Ewing, he diminishes his effectiveness. He needs to get deep as often as he can, which is why the second statement makes me feel good. It shows the Lakers want to run, and Bynum knows he can get easy baskets that way.

Also, remember my mantra — the Lakers will go as far as their defense will take them this season. Apparently the team gets that:

The biggest change for the Lakers this season I think will be our defensive mentality. That’s gonna be the biggest change this season, to the fact that we got beat the way we did last year, nobody is happy about that. Second, I think the coaching staff has a whole new defensive scheme for us. Also, I think that guys know now that it requires defense to win championships. I think defense is gonna be the biggest change.

• Finally, Sun Yue had maybe the biggest press conference ever by a player who will be seeing a lot of D-League time this season. But, read the interview and he seems to get it. He understands what he needs to do:

Question: “What adjustments will you need to make?”
Sun: “I think it is my body, because my body is too skinny for the NBA.”

I hope in a couple of years he can really contribute.