Camp Is Rolling, And So Is Sasha’s Ankle

Kurt —  October 1, 2008

A few thoughts after a couple days of training camp.

• Sasha Vujacic rolled his ankle (on DJ Mbenga’s foot) and is out for a couple of days, but it is considered nothing serious. This is not the playoffs, its camp, so no need to rush the guy back.

• A few quotes from Phil via Lakers.com:

On Trevor Ariza: “I don’t think anybody’s going to consider him a threat. I think he’s got an adequate jump shot that can keep people honest with it. I’m impressed with his abilities to make the jump shot. However, that’s not the strength of his game. His game’s going to be getting out there, being a slasher.”

On Josh Powell: “He’s impressed us a lot. He’s coming in playing hard. He’s got a lot of tenacity. He refuses to be boxed out. You’ve got to really put an effort into keeping him off the boards. He’s creating a lot of problems with our big guys, they know they’ve got a tiger down there after the rebound. He seems to have an idea of what we’re trying to do even though he’s only been here for one day. He seems relatively comfortable playing in our offense.”

• John Hollinger’s season prediction for the Lakers (and the rest of the West) is out on ESPN, and while I know he sort of has a Kobe-like polarizing effect on people, I thought his assessment (57 wins) was pretty accurate.

The Lakers have the highest ceiling of any team in basketball. If Bynum comes back healthy and plays like he did last season, if the frontcourt meshes and stays out of each other’s way, and if Bryant can put together another MVP-caliber season, the sky is the limit. In that sense, the Lakers have to be considered the favorite to win the West — if everything goes right, there’s no way anyone will beat them.

So you might be surprised to learn I’m not picking them to win. When I projected this team statistically, enough minor concerns came up that it added up to a one-game advantage for the Jazz. I realize this seems a bit odd since L.A. beat Utah fairly convincingly in the playoffs last year, and did it without Bynum, so let’s try to walk through it:

(1) Bynum’s health and production are not guaranteed. I project him playing 30 minutes a game, even with time out for injuries, and that still might have been rosy on my part.

(2) The frontcourt players are likely to negatively impact each other. Not hugely — not as badly as Zach Randolph and Eddy Curry last season, for instance — but enough that in the absence of other effects it would be a noticeable. I project both Gasol and Odom losing 1.5 points of PER to this.

And the list goes on, you should read the entire thing. He and I agree on a lot of this and disagree on a few things — I think Bynum and Pau will blend better together than some think; I think Sasha and Farmar will be improved, not take a step back (Fish will be fine, but the Lakers need to keep his minutes down during the season, he’s not young anymore).

He picks Utah to have a better regular season record and win the West, and that is possible — Utah is a very good team and one that plays well during the regular season. But in a seven-game series with everyone healthy, I like the Lakers chances.

But that is why we play the games — everyone’s preseason predictions are educated guesses at best. And how wrong were we about last year’s Lakers when making early October predictions?

• Al Davis has become Howard Hughes circa 1973.

Kurt

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49 responses to Camp Is Rolling, And So Is Sasha’s Ankle

  1. It’s funny how Hollinger can (at least partially) come off like a Debbie the Downer and still have us at 57 wins. Last off-season if you’d have told me that we’d be a title contender and Hollinger would be picking us for 57 wins within 2 years, I’d have laughed. We’ve come a long way boys (and girls).

    On a side note, funny thing is, that when you look at the divisions, every western conference division got stronger, but ours (the Pacific). The Suns are a year older, the Warriors lost Baron and now Monta is hurt, the Kings lost Artest and haven’t added anyone of substance (and also haven’t replaced Bibby), and the Clips (while picking up Baron and Camby) lost Brand and Maggette. And when you look at every other division, there is at least one team that is bound to make a big jump from last season. In the NorthWest, I think Portland is going to be very much improved and the Sonics (sorry I just refuse to call them that other name) are going to be a lot better (I believe in Durant). And then in the SouthWest, I think Houston is going to be an improved team and that New Orleans is going to be even better with the experience they’ve gained and with Posey contributing as a bench player. This is going to be a crazy year.

  2. 1, If we still had the unbalanced schedule where we played within our division more often, I would have us with a lot more wins.

  3. Al Davis has become Howard Hughes circa 1973

    You put your finger on it. I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest to find that he has been shuffling around in tissue boxes ala Monty Burns.

    As far as Hollinger goes, he might be right. Utah has a great point guard and excellent team hustle. They come to play every game, and they play hard and nasty (as well as borderline dirty). It works great during the regular season. The playoffs, well, that’s another beast. And we will have to talk about it as the season progresses.

    Personally, I disagree with John. I think that the Lakers, provided the team can stay focused and healthy, will win 70 games this year. That being said, who cares if we finish second in the West? People will remember next year’s NBA champion, not the winner of the west.

    I don’t really know who can defend this front line. Length and strength galore. Deft passing too. The front line will kick it back out happily, too.

    How many teams in the history of basketball have had two potential Hall of Fame centers both in their prime at the same time? If Pau/Bynum can win 4 championships in a row…

    /drool

  4. The Hollinger predictions have lots of interesting things.

    On Boston
    You can’t construct a model pessimistic enough to have the Celtics missing out on the conference’s best record
    Wow.

    He mentions that Kobe’s PER went down and that a bunch of the younger Lakers had their PER go up significantly, but doesn’t draw a connection between the two. It seems possible that Kobe’s PER decreased because with better teammates he was carrying less of the burden. Instead Hollinger attributes the decrease entirely to age.

    Considering that LA is returning all of the starters from their post season run and that Utah hasn’t added any new impact players, it seems silly to think that Utah has somehow gotten better than the Laker team that just knocked them from the playoffs.

    I’m going to take a look into LA’s stats with just Gasol or Bynum as starting center to try and get a good statistical base to make prediction from.

  5. Hollinger might be pessimistic, but the video games likes the Laker’s chances.

  6. When evaluating the Clips you have to consider that they did not have Brand last year. That said, they should be better this year; since they traded Maggette for Davis and Camby.

  7. As long as Bynum meshes with Gasol, Odom accepts his new role and the rest of the youngsters improve significantly then the Lakers will optimistically be in championship shape.

  8. I love the Phil Jackson quote on Josh Powell. Of course you can never be sure how much Phil’s quotes are tongue-in-cheek, but from what I read, that sounded honest to me. And that’s exactly what we need, a rebounding beast. Bynum will make up a lot of the difference, but to bring a Reggie Evans-like rebounding type (without the cookie-grabbing issue) off the bench would be a huge plus to our 2nd unit.

    My biggest question is also how well Bynum and Gasol will fit together. If it were under any other coach, I’d agree 100% with Hollinger. But with Phil and Tex plugging Bynum back into the triangle, I am more optimistic (still cautious, but optimistic) they will find a way to make it work.

  9. Craig,
    Granted they didn’t have Brand, but that Clippers team won 23 games last year (the same as the Knicks and one more than the T’Wolves and Memphis). When a team was awful as they are comes into the next season, they should be better (only off of growth and a high draft pick), but by how much? If they win 32 games this season, that’s almost a 50% increase from last season but would still leave them with 50 losses. I don’t know how good they’ll be this year (though, I’m intrigued by Davis, Thornton, Camby, and Kaman) but I don’t think they’ll be any more than bottom of the division fodder.

  10. Hollinger,like other writers,continues to undervalue the West. The last three yrs has seen the West win 258,257 and 252 against the East. Add up Hollingers numbers and he’s predicting only 221 wins against the East. I didn’t know Elton Brand had that big an impact!
    Last yr the West had 8 50 win teams,1 48 and 1 .500. He’s predicting those 10 teams will collectively lose 41 more games this season,only 4 will hit 50,and only 8 will be above .500

    Last yr he had the West winning 227 against the East(258 actual),6 50 win teams(8 actual) and only 1 other team above .500(Lakers w/43) for a total of 7 above and rest below .500(actual 9 above and 1 at .500).
    That’s a 13.6% undervaluation of West and a strong overvaluation of East.(And the two West teams that aquired players from the EAst-Pho,Dal-saw their winning percentage decline w/the addittions.)
    Note the prediction of 227 West wins last yr and 221 this yr. If he’s off this yr by a similar amount that’s close to an extra 30 wins for the top 10 teams,which seems more justified at this point.
    Interesting he has Memphis winning 4 more games this yr while the wages of wins guy thinks they will be epically bad.

    In the West it’s pretty obvious the formula for a 50 win season is play .500 against the top 10 teams,beat up on the cellar dwellars and win 2/3 of your games against the East.

    One of the reasons I think the Lakers will win 60 or so games this season is because they weren’t quite as successful as the other top West teams against the East.
    Lakers 20 wins compared to Suns 24,Spurs 23,Rockets,Hornets 22 and Jazz aw/21.

    BTW,don’t recall who off-hand but a month or so some NBA “expert” had his season predictions and he had EVERY West PLayoff team winning fewer games.

  11. Because the Clips will be better this year doesn’t mean they make the playoffs.

  12. the other Stephen October 1, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    i wonder where stevie franchise is…i miss that guy. hope he comes back.

  13. Hollingers predictions are great, until we look at reality. The key to every season comes down to injuries. What are some of the keys to dodging the injury bug as the season starts to grind?

    P.S…..whats the latest on Marbury?

  14. Other Stephen,
    He’s still on the Houston Rockets soaking up a roster spot and putting the Rockets over Lux Tax,prob preventing them from keeping a young player to groom. No I’m not too bitter.

    He signed w/Rockets last yr,did almost nothing and finally had knee surgery in Feb. He is about a month or two from being “100 percent” and we’ll see if he has anything left.

  15. so nice to see daily reports again, both here at FB&G and the Times, etc…finally
    and, to boot, we have both LA teams in the baseball playoffs, go Blue!
    we’ll have red vs blue…kind of like the election, eh?

  16. 7. If that happens, I’m sure we’ll be the clear favorites…

  17. Interesting points, especially if you think a contract-year Boozer (is he?) will show up on away games unlike the last series. I think Utah had as good a chance as any to beat us in 7 had Boozer showed up for every game.

    I just hope Lamar at the 3 does not mean “O!Dumb!” shots.

  18. It appears L.O. will be maning the 1 on offense and switching back to the 3 on defense. That being said Fisher would move to the 2 and Kobe to the 3 on O.

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/basketball/nba/lakers/la-sp-lakersfyi2-2008oct02,0,3274713.story

    I am somewhat concerned about this as although i know Odom is an above average ball handler FOR HIS HEIGHT, i dont know if he will be able to protect the ball coming up when being played by guys 6′ – 6’3″. I think point guards will be able to cause problems for him in the backcourt leading to more turnovers. I am thinking that Fisher will have to lay back to help him bring the ball up court and that could stymie the fast break.

  19. re: John Hollinger [and the like]

    In general, this is why you might be better off reading the opines of someone else … urgh, ughm … when it comes to expert NBA Analyses.

    John picked the Lakers to beat the Celtics in last year’s NBA Finals.

    I picked the Celtics.

    John is picking the Jazz to have a better W-L record than the Lakers this season … cause he sees a number of internal conflicts with their team, e.g. redundancy and imcompatibility for various reasons.

    I am prognosticating that the Lakers are about to win 70 plus games this season … in a year where there is going to be more top-end depth in the Western Conference than EVER before.

    Limb meet khandor. :-)

    Food For Thought

    PS. I am also picking the Lakers to win the NBA Title this season. At present, you can still get them at +300 for this tasty proposition. Thank me in June. :-)

  20. the other Stephen October 2, 2008 at 5:49 am

    14. haha i knew he’s been on the rockets and doing nothing, but aren’t you curious what he’s been doing this offseason? this whole year has been his offseason.

  21. Just a quick note and i know you shouldn’t ever take the comments section seriously on sites that get as much traffic (and morons) as ESPN must do but a guy on the Lakers forecast said we had “a gold paved path to the playoffs last year, no suns, no hornets and a beat up spurs team” now call me insane but didn’t that ‘beat up spurs team’ beat both the suns and the hornets?

    Personally I think hollinger is just trying to play it safe by not believing the hype around the lakers which to be fair is probably the most sensible thing to do when you’re making predictions a lot of people will read. He’s right in that maybe we just don’t gel as well this year and he’s very correct in saying the bench played out of their minds last year and it might not ever happen again.

    But really he’s clinging to this sorta 20% shot that a laker’s team full of weapons, talent, promise and proven ability might not be the most dominant force in the west next year because it’ll look a lot better if he’s right than if he’s wrong. If they lakers win the conference next year (and god willing everything) and hollinger predicted this he’d probably just be one correct voice in a crowd of god knows how many writers who claim the Lakers will win it all this year. If he takes his own route where he’s saying we’ll only lose the conference by 1 game or so, he can now also say, should the lakers win “oh well hey! I said it was gonna be down to one or two games!”

    Anyways like kurt said who the hell knows what’s going to happen this year? I for one find that the best part of waiting for this year, not some hypothetical guarantee my team will be the best in the L but watching them and supporting them whatever happens.

    (The very good chance of success however, makes it much easier to do lol)

  22. 18. This is certainly the time to try out having Odom as a point/forward, if it doesn’t work you can go back to a more traditional lineup fairly easily. There are things you can do to ease the ball handling pressure if other teams start pressing Odom (Fish and Kobe can help bring the ball up as well then get the ball to Odom in the half court). With the Lakers trying to run on missed shots that shouldn’t be a big problem. Plus if you are using a PG to cover Odom then you are creating a mismatch on Fish or Kobe (probably Fish, you might want to not take chances with Kobe) that the Lakers can exploit.

    Curious to see what it looks like in a couple of exhibition games.

  23. Hollinger, Abbott, Stein….lets face it, the Lakers have a lot of rivals, its the team every team’s fans love to hate, and given the choice Hollinger seems to always choose (optimistically from his point of view) “statistics” that prove how poorly the Lakers perform. Last year, he didn’t do such a great job predicting their performance in the only statistical category that really matters, so I’m going to assume that he’s off again this year. I say 60+ wins and a rematch with the Celts.

  24. (18) Omar,

    I don’t think pressing LO would be an issue. I don’t remember ever seeing him getting ripped. He’s a good ball handler. Kurt is right. if they used a guard to cover Lo, then there would be 2 advantags on the floor. No team would cover LO with their PG. Just because he might play a PG/PF role doesn’t mean a PG would cover him. I like the thought of LO having more guard like responsiblities. Fish isn’t really a great decision maker, so we’r not really losing anything. We’d actually be gaining playmaking with LO having the ball in his hands more. He’s a better passer than Fish, and definitely better on fastbreaks (for some reason Fish NEVER makes the right pass, if at all). Meanwhile, it would leave Fish to o what he does best. Knock down open shots. But I’d still like to see Sasha starting eventually. He got paid for a reason, and it wasn’t to stay on the 2nd Unit.

  25. Also,

    I’m going to stick to my 70+ wins prediction also. I had said 74 originally but that will be tough just because of the qualiy of teams in the back-to-back they have this year. There 19 this year, versus 16 fro last year, and most of them this year have top notch teams as the 2nd game. So 74 will be tough, but I definitely can see at least 70 barring major injuries. this team should be better and deeper than just about every team in the league, so that will make it easier on road trips, back to backs, off nights, etc. I expect fluke losses to cut dramatically (like CHA, MEM,NJ, MIL last season), and also do not expect to see losing 2 of 3 games, or 3 of 4. We saw that 5 times last year. A few of those times were following injuries.

  26. Moving LO to the point on offense can create even more tactical opportunities on defense, He will be obviously guarding the opposing 3s and Kobe will be guarding the 2’s, but I think Sasha would be ideal in such set-up: guarding PGs and playing as a SG on offense… of course that means less PT for Fish and Farmar, but in terms of team efficiency this could a very good line-up for the Lakers.

    What’s more, I do not think LO as a PG will be guarded by the oppositions 6-6’3″ point guards because that would completely disturb opposing teams defense by having to put a SG or SF to guard Fish/Sasha/Farmar and Kobe. Then the opposing teams would be left with two scenarios:

    1) Guard Lamar with a SF, and have PG guard Fish and SG guard Kobe

    or

    2) Play with two SF at all times, so that one SF guards Kobe and another one guards Lamar (due to LO’s height and strength considerations)

    The first scenario is most likely, and more advantageous to Lakers, as it would mean that opposition would no longer have a conventional zone defense of SG and PG at the top of the key. I think Kobe along with Lebron and T-mac is one of the handful of people that would exploit such a scenario to the utmost , as Bryant is equally capable of playing a SF position in the triangle, and also Fish/Sasha would then be primarily placed to shoot the corner 3 if defenses choose to double team either Kobe or Pau/Bynum inside.

    The second scenario (have two SFs play at all times) is less likely, as it would most probably take away the opposing teams ball handling skills at the offensive end and few coaches would opt for that scenario. But it is possible that some teams, especially if Sasha is playing instead of Fish in the proposed line-up, choose to match up with the Lakers in terms of height and strength. Then sky is the limit for LO and the Lakers, because Odom is most likely to go for penetration to the basket with options of taking it to the rim himself/passing to Pau or Bynum/ kicking it out to Kobe or Fish/Sasha. I already mentioned that such a set-up would disable the opposing teams from having more ball-handlers on their offense and generate even more opportunities for the Lakers to 1) steal the ball and run the break and 2) recover back on transition D as facing lesser ballhandlers would mean that opposition transition speed would be lower as well.

    As I mentioned, the second scenario is highly unlikely, but it could happen.

    I admit I am still for having LO come off the bench and split his 30-32 minutes a night between playing with the second unit and with the starting line-up as PF when Bynum/Pau is resting.

    Having LO play as PG (and we still need to be convinced he can effectively be good at it) will mean that it is not Lamar who will be the primary sacrifice after Bynum’s return but most likely Farmar, Walton and Radmanovic with Ariza also getting less PT than I initially expected he would get

    This offseason is too long, because too many thoughts and possibilities come to mind and things change every day :)

  27. Curious as to what you all with the know in hoops think about the Livingston watch…

    http://lakers.freedomblogging.com/2008/10/02/livingston-piques-phils-interest/

    To me, it isn’t necessary, but at the right price, some extra depth and added versatility wouldn’t hurt. Plus, how much is he really expecting to play over other NBA guys, having been out for a good amount of time now?

  28. Here’s what I’m wondering about Livingston: He has had several workouts but nobody is even bringing him in to camp. Why is that? I can think of two reasons: 1) He’s not fully back and ready to play; 2) His agent is a fool. If what that article says about the Clips is right — they offered him a two year deal, this year no cut — why would he turn that down? Does he think something better is around the corner?

  29. In the unlikely event that the Lakers get Livingston, would Farmar be the one to eventually go?

  30. Farmar is why you don’t get Livingston. You’re going to let Farmar walk, or trade him, for a skinny, injury prone, defensively questionable PG who had no jump shot to speak of?

  31. David St. Hubbins October 2, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    Maybe someone can elucidate for me what LO playing the point really means for the Lakers. The triangle doesn’t require that the point guard initiate the offense the way other offenses do. In terms of matchups, no one is going to play their PG against LO anymore than LO is going to defend the other team’s PG. So what’s really going to change that would significantly impact how the Lakers play?

  32. Lamar has been bringing up the ball a number of times in games he has played in without any problems. I doubt this will change very much in the triangle; the Lakers will just have 3 players in the starting 5 who can bring up the ball. The reason Lamar might bring up the ball a little more is that he could be back rebounding while Fish and Kobe could be breaking for the basket – if they are open he would pass the ball forward. The main change might be that Lamar would be the player out front, with Fish and Kobe on the wings. This kind of screws with some of our bloggers desire to see Lamar and Gasol aligned on the weak side, however.

  33. LO would be one of the twin guards at the top as they cross the half court line…

    Wasn’t LO point forward for the Miami team that made that nice playoff run? I thought that was a reason that that team had some success by causing match up problems with a tall guard who could handle the ball and break out of the set offense if he saw a weakness in the initial set up of the defense.

    Wouldn’t this mean a possibility of him getting to cup earlier in the offense, a secondary break, if you will?

    Just speculating…

  34. #31. This would allow Odom to play at the top of the offense more rather than being a wing player. When the offense is initiated it’s either done by a pass to the wing, a direct pass to the post, or a pass cross court to the opposite side guard. If Odom is playing a guard position, this would allow him to initiate the offense more and also allow him to start within the offense from a position on the floor that would lead to better oppurtunities for him to be effective offensively. Many times, the SF is the player that ends up on the strong side of the floor and helps form the Triangle with the one of the Guards and whoever is playing the post in the hub of the Triangle. We all understand that one of Odom’s weaknesses is as a shooter. Well, if Odom is actually at the top of the offense or on the weakside in the guard position, this would better allow for good spacing to exist on the strong side and make the post entry easier. Also, this would allow him to cut to the basket from the top of the offense rather than the baseline as the SF. And Odom proved that he is capable and effective when he can dive to the basket and play off of the big men with his ability to catch and finish or catch and pass to another cutter to set up the score.

    All that said, none of this may work. I read a very good piece by Dwyer this morning that argues for Odom to move to the bench. Everyone shoud give it a read:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie/post/Lamar-Odom-is-wrong?urn=nba,112138

  35. I’m not in favor of player-bashing, but I make a clear, consistent exception when it comes to Brian Cook. Too many scarred memories. So this quote made me happy. Via truehoop quoting the local paper:

    “Despite losing weight and getting back healthy over the summer, Orlando Magic forward Brian Cook has still managed to work his way into head coach Stan Van Gundy’s doghouse. Three days into training camp and it’s already apparent that Cook’s conditioning isn’t where the Magic would like for it to be. It certainly isn’t a serious situation this early in camp, as Van Gundy pointed out, but it could hurt Cook’s chances of getting significant minutes off the bench as the backup power forward.”

  36. As always, good stuff, kurt.

    If everyone hasn’t already heard it, PMS had an interview with mitch kupchak yesterday:

    http://a1135.g.akamai.net/f/1135/18227/1h/cchannel.download.akamai.com/18227/podcast/LOSANGELES-CA/KLAC-AM/081001%20MitchKupchak%20PMS.mp3

    No amazing revelations, but always nice to hear what he has to say. Reading between the lines, it sounds like (as everyone suspected) no deal’s going to be done for bynum until at least late in the preseason, if not later, so they can see him play a bit first.

  37. Just before Bynum got injured,the Lakers were playing incredible.They KILLED New Orleans at New Oleans and were winning easy on the road. I started getting real excited.One of the best Laker’s teams I have seen.When Bynum went down I despaired for days.If the Lakers are close to that this year,and it looks like they will be(maybe better), the crown is ours.

  38. If Odom were to replace Fish in the lineup, he can hurt opposing teams by simply cutting to the basket or trying to post up, forcing defenses to switch or double.

  39. #1’s comment got me thinking. How much HAS the west improved? There’s been a lot of movement and some definite improvement by some teams, but to think it through I made this list with a coworker:

    Safe Bets:
    LAL
    HOU
    NOH
    UTA

    Safe bet but with vultures keeping an eye on them:
    SAS

    Vultures Hovering:
    DAL
    PHX

    Everybody expects a leap, the question being how high:
    POR

    Shouldn’t be completely ruled out, but nobody’d be surprised if they didn’t do much:
    GSW
    LAC
    DEN

    Not quite a safe bet against:
    SAC

    Safe Bets Against:
    MIN
    MEM
    OKC

    To me, those top 8 look like the top 8 I’d bet on almost every time. An injury or something crazy could happen, but I think it’s conservative to put those 8 teams about the other 7. And I don’t think it’s a reach to have those top 4 as the top 4 (in whatever order), with San Antonio acting as the possible spoiler (considering the Ginobli injury). Then, personally, I doubt Pheonix and Dallas’s true viability and expect Portland at the 6.

    So as a whole, I don’t think the west is better than last year, where 10 teams competed for playoff spots pretty late into the season. Instead I see the 8 as being pretty set, and the talent within those being unevenly distributed. BUT I think the top of the bracket is better with the Lakers, Blazers and Rockets definitely improving by talent, New Orleans and Utah possibly improving with experience.

    Anybody disagree with my rankings?

  40. 39. I agree for the most part, although two quibbles. One, I think SAS may be older with their key guys but got a younger in some role spots, and I think they actually go into the top group. Also, I have Portland ahead of the Phoenix, with the Suns and the Nuggets fighting for the 8 spot. Since I expect Denver to make a trade of Iverson or Melo, let’s say the Suns finish 8th.

    Also, regarding Livingston, this from the Daily News today:

    “I’ve had a chance to speak with a few more people about the Shaun Livingston situation in the last few days and get a better sense of just how serious the club is about bringing him back. The last conversation the Clippers have had with free-agent guard Shaun Livingston came in the beginning of August, when it offered him a two-year deal and Livingston passed on it. That deal was for a minimum salary and was guaranteed. Livingston would’ve had an option for the second year. While that deal isn’t officially still on the table, the door is more than open. Though I’m told that it’s Livingston and his agent who would need to re-open talks.”

  41. Re Livingston,further on Dunleavy says only the first yr was guaranteed. Some team w/time and an owner willing to spend will make a modest 2-3 yr offer w/expectation Shaun won’t contribute this yr but will next yr.(If the Knicks had adults in charge,he’d be the perfect project for them.)

    I’d have Utah ahead of Hou(tough early sked,players recovering from surgery and running new offense for early hole) and NO(needs a backup PG desperately.)
    If Suns can trade for a consistant 2/3 scorer they’d content for top record.
    The rosters the teams have now will not be what they end the season w/. I don’t think there will be blockbuster trades,just a bunch of Korver-type deals,where a solid role player is brought in.
    Hou,NO backup PG
    Pho scoring SG/SF
    Dallas backup PG,SG
    Lakers,Jazz,Blazers roll w/what they have.
    FO chaos may keep GS from doing anything,who can tell what the Clips will do and I doubt Denver trades AI as letting him walk gives them the most relief and flexability.

    OT,but which FO had the WORST offseason?
    Knicks who blew heaven-sent opportunity to unload Randolph,thus making buyout of Marbury easier to sell?(And that a team w/no PGs would seriously consider paying Marbury $20mil+ to just go away tells you all you need to know about Marbury.)
    Denver who unloaded only players who tried to play D the same time their Coach says they’re going to emphasize D?
    Memphis who traded away their most attractive asset for no apparent reason?
    Dallas who did vitrually nothing to address a shockingly bad bench and brought in a coach who runs a system that is totally unsuited to the talent?
    Golden State who looks snake-bit,and seems to have lost the first-aid kit?

  42. OK. Took some time and calculated the efficiency stats with Andrew Bynum as starting center and with Pau Gasol as starter.
    Here goes
    with Andrew Bynum
    Offensive Efficiency = 113.5
    Defensive Efficiency = 106.6
    Differential = +6.9

    with Pau Gasol
    Offensive Efficiency = 119.8
    Defensive Efficiency = 101.7
    Differential = +18.1

    It shows that the Lakers were much more effective offensively with Pau Gasol as the starting center, which I expected. Surprisingly it also says that the Lakers were better defensively with Pau Gasol at Center. Perhaps this is due to strength of schedule. Looking at the schedule they mostly played weaker teams (Kings and Clippers, Spurs without Manu) against whom the Lakers piled up the stats.

    The point differential with Pau Gasol as starting center imply that the team was good enough to win 90% of it’s games, which mainly makes me want to recheck my numbers.

    Unrelated note: please make the comment box bigger. It’s way too small, I can only read about half of my comment.

  43. 37. magicclover

    I remember that nawlins game and i remember how great we looked. Kobe wasn’t lying when he said that we’re a championship team with him… and that was before we acquired pau. If we stay healthy, we are going to be scary.

    side note – i keep reading about some of the drama stirring up with phil and odom and odom coming off the bench and what not. To put a little perspective on the situation: there’s 29 other teams that would kill to have our problem… Basically, we’ve got an abundance of talent. I’m definitely in the camp that says we should start Odom and see how well the lineup plays. That starting five of Fish, Kobes, Odom, Pau and Drew has the potential to be dominant defensively. The ceiling with this team is so high that it has to be given a chance in the regular season.

    Odom on the bench or not, we are going to be an excellent team.

    One more side note: GO DODGERS

  44. go lakers!

  45. 42. Gerrit, very interesting stuff. The defensive stats in particular, like you said, just seem better than I remembered. The defense was never really bad with Pau (well, save game six of the Finals) but I don’t remember it being that good either.

    And the comment box size is a good one, I’ll add that to the list. Work is ongoing (the designer just got back from vacation, but things are going ahead).

  46. Jamal Tinsley to Denver (for Åtkins and Stephen Hunter). Denver is going to challenge for a playoff spot, which could leave someone like the Suns on the outside looking in.

  47. kurt, your comment, (#45) was cut off, (maybe the comment box being too small, hehe)
    what do you think of my request to list the name of the commenter at the top of the comment rather than the bottom? that way, knowing who wrote the comment sometimes lends better to knowing the tone of the comment.

  48. new post up — and Livingston has signed with Miami.

  49. 25/ I think the Lakers win 80 games probably. Even after Odom and Bynum go down for the season in week two.