Fast Break Thoughts

Kurt —  February 13, 2009

I don’t get all that pumped up for the All Star game, although I think the H-O-R-S-E competition can be fun (I refuse to call it by the corporate name). But this beauty — from the people at Didn’t Draw Iron — should help. It’s a 2009 All Star Preview done 1980s style.

• I suppose this is a Lakers blog so I should say something about the Lakers, but that loss in Utah doesn’t bother me much. It was a schedule loss — second night of a back-to-back after a tough road trip, while the other team (a potentially very good team) is sitting at home for two days resting. The Lakers looked flat, tired and I can see that. Get some rest over the break and let the fun start with Atlanta next Tuesday (that is no gimme).

• What are the greatest Lakers All Star moments?

• Really interesting breakdown by Kevin Pelton on Amare Stoudimire. The conclusion — Shaq isn’t why his numbers are down, the fact that the Suns have gone away with the pick-and-roll at the top of the arc Nash and Amare is the problem. That play was nearly indefensible; I’m not sure why you’d go away from it.

• Speaking of Basketball Prospectus, here’s a great read on what is going on at UCLA this year — their offense is very good. (They lost last night because their defense was off and Arizona State couldn’t miss, they shot 61% from three.)

• Going to be a really interesting trade deadline, not just because of Amare, but because if you were the GM in Denver or San Antonio or New Orleans right now, wouldn’t you be looking for a little move that could push the team onto the Lakers level? The bigger question than even if that move is out there is if the team’s owners will allow them to do it right now. Teams are fighting to cut payroll, so somebody willing to take a little on could get a steal. But who is going to do that.

• Speaking of that, ESPN is reporting Jermaine O’Neal and Jamario Moon to the Miami Heat in exchange for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks. Sounds to me like Toronto is trying to free up some cap space early to keep Bosh in town. Also, certainly Marion (if he can be resigned at a fair price) is a good fit if the Raptors are trying to build a running team. I’m just not sure what they are trying to build. As for Miami, pretty much a lateral move I think. Maybe Beasley can play the three now and feel a little more at home.

• I love what Bill James said about the A-Rod situation: “Baseball allowed a situation to develop in which it was in the self-interest of players to use steroids. Now we are very angry with people because they did what the system rewarded them for doing.”

Kurt

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50 responses to Fast Break Thoughts

  1. I also see the Jermaine/Marion swap as a lateral move for Miami. However, I also see it as a move for Miami to try and keep Wade in the summer of 2010. Jermaine’s contract expires after next season and when you add that to the expiring deals of Blount, Haslem, and several other lower cost players, you have a ton of cap space for them to lure FA’s with. In the end, if Riles can attract a couple of other top flight FA’s to sunny, no tax Florida then I think Wade is much more likely to stick around and contend for another ring on South Beach.

  2. As a Laker fan living in Cambridge, MA I don’t usually see any promotion of my favorite team locally, but today I saw a commercial for NBA TV/ League Pass Broadband featuring our very own Sasha and Kobe! It was a billboard on the side of a local bus, it was yet to be defaced but I wonder how long that will last.

  3. Toronto seemed like a sleeper team in the East at the start of this year, so long as O’Neal was somewhat healthy. I know he’s been off and on, but I still don’t get this deal with Miami, either. It’s like they’re changing plans on the fly, starting off a year with plans for a twin towers approach and then dumping that the idea of Bosh and O’Neal after 50 or so games. It makes no sense, basketballwise. Makes one question the financial motivation.

    It’s bad for the NBA when teams start making big roster decisions with saving money as their main goal. I know that’s minor in the grand scheme of things, but it’s another sign of the havoc this economy is causing.

  4. Imagine Toronto right now if Mike D’Antoni were coaching it. With Bosh, Calderon and a roster of shooters, that is as close to a mirror image of the Suns of yesteryear as you’re going to find. People always talk about Chicago missing the boat on D’Antoni, but considering Sam Vincent is already gone, I think it’s fair to question them about it.

    I especially like it because if the Marion-Bosh combo works, they can re-sign Marion to a more reasonable contract (his value is way down) and if it doesn’t work out, they get cap space to work with to either find someone to make bosh want to stay, or make a move if he leaves.

    Miami, on the other hand, may as well have retraded for Shaq. Except that Shaq is having a better year. I understand they want an inside presence, but I don’t think this is it.

    Also- how does this impact the Amare trade scenarios?

  5. To clarify a bit…

    Bosh and Marion could work well on the floor together. My point that this deal makes no sense basketballwise was directed more toward the front office: why trade for a former All-Star with plans to play a certain style, go through camp and the off-season preparing for that player and that style, then decide, “Screw it” only halfway into this plan’s first season?

    It wasn’t like they felt they were going to beat Boston or Cleveland this year anyway, and organizationally it just seems to say, “We’re totally clueless on our plans for 2008-09″ by changing gears midstream. You’d think Lil’ Colangelo would realize that given his track record, but as I said before, there’s more to this move than Xs and Os.

  6. As a Lakers fan living in Portland, I think this makes the Blazers offer of Aldridge, Bayless and Lafrentz’s contract the best offer that Phoenix will get for Amare.

    Amare could make the Blazers a VERY tough out in the playoffs this year.

  7. I’m not upset about the loss to Utah because the team can’ t win every game and losses are going to happen. But I have a harder time chalking it up to just scheduling and fatigue. I think the Lakers were undisciplined, especially their on-floor leaders Kobe and Fish. Jacking up threes when you’ve had success all game–and season–going inside just seems stubborn–and against an elite team suicidal. Don’t mind losses except when the team’s veterans leave the door open to wrong basketball habits that in the future could derail the team in more meaningful games. Hope I’m not making much to do about nothing. (Or rather I hope so).

  8. I think the lack of discipline and pissiness at the calls could be in part due to how tired they were. If you’re really gassed, your mind and attention go too (the brain requires a lot of juice).

    Re: Amare in Portland- does he typically have much success against the lakers? Because of his defensive lapses, wherever he goes, Pau or Odom should have a good game. And meanwhile I don’t know if he scores on us too well.

  9. I’d much rather have Aldridge and Bayless over Amare. I’m still pretty shocked there have been reports of Aldridge being included in trades, both him and Roy would be my 2 untouchables if I were the GM.

    As far as the O’Neal/Marion trade I think it somewhat works for both teams. Toronto will try and run teams out of the gym, while Miami should have improved rebounding/interior defense without sacrificing scoring. I mean O’Neal can still prob get Marion numbers on the offensive end of things.

    I’m actually fairly excited for the All-Star game this year, it will be nice to see Phil/Kobe/Shaq and also funny to hear what sort of drama the media comes up with between the 3.

  10. If I were Portland, I would be the one rejecting the Aldridge, Bayless, and Lafrentz for Amare trade. I think Phoenix would kill to make that deal. Lafrentz has one of those beautiful “super” expiring contracts because he is hurt and insurance is paying most of his salary this year. So not only does Phoenix get that money, but they also dump Amare’s contract (and the headaches he causes), gain a near-all-star in Lamarcus Aldridge, at the same position for 1/3 the price, and a solid young point guard in Bayless. I can’t see why the Suns wouldn’t do that deal; I’m just not sure the Blazers would.

  11. I hope the Raptors aren’t done dealing. They could send young talent(Bargnani), an expiring deal(Anthony Parker), and a moveable contract(Kapono) for Stoudemire. All 3 complement Shaq because they’re perimeter players.

  12. anybody know when the H O R S E comp is going? Today? Tomorrow?

  13. I don’t think the Blazers want to give up that much for Stoudemire. They may be willing to part with either Aldridge or Bayless, but not both. Honestly, I would think that they should be interested in Nash. They want veteran leadership, and Nash definitely would aid in the development of their younger players without dominating the ball. And even when the team defers to Roy, Nash becomes an incredibly good spot-up shooter.

    I think the Bulls end up with Stoudemire. Gooden, Thomas, Simmons, and a first round pick should do it. I think Kerr is angling for including Noah or Sefolosha in the deal, but with Miami out of the bidding, Paxson might balk on that.

  14. H.O.R.S.E. happens tomorrow, on Valentine’s Day. Right after the Skills Challenge and right before the Slam Dunk contest.

  15. I know this belongs in the prior post, but what worried me about the loss to Utah was not the loss itself, but the fact that it came on the second night of a back to back AND that Kobe/Gasol looked like they were out of gas for noticeable stretches.

    Kobe and Gasol had practically zero vacation/time off between the playoffs, the olympics and training camp and I hope that this game was a fluke and not an indicator that these guys should be rested more frequently.

  16. I think this is a great move for Miami.

    Looking forward to seeing how HORSE game plays out. If it goes well, I see the big names wanting part of it next year.

  17. How many times has Marcus Banks been traded?

    Does he ever get to unpack?

  18. MannyP13,
    I agree that Kobe and Gasol need to be rested, but I don’t think they will get too much – looking at the 2nd half schedule.

    Hopefully Lamar will stay hot and Phil can more completely integrate Mihm, Powell, and maybe Brown – giving Kobe and Gasol fewer minutes/game.

    The Trade:
    I actually like it for both teams.
    Toronto: They become more like the old Phx Suns, with Bosh and Marion running and Marion defending. Bargnani at SF should complete the scheme.
    Miami: They were more effective with Shaq in the middle and now they get the other O’Neal. This should help both Wade and Haslem.

  19. New article about Kobe that was an interesting read, showcases the possibility of Kobe becoming a free agent after this season and New York being a possible destination.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/columns/story?columnist=adande_ja&page=Kobe-090213

  20. 4 – Do you mean Sam Mitchell? Vincent was the Cats’ ex-coach. Great point though, D’Antoni in Toronto would be scary (although Calderon isn’t the ideal up-tempo guard, he’s better in a half-court set). And Mike would have the complete support of the franchise. And his “fun” style would make Bosh likely to stay. But Mitchell wasn’t fired until after D’Antoni accepted the NY job.

    The move could be more than lateral for Miami, but unlikely unless O’Neal gains his form from several years ago.

    Steve Kerr is a moron if he passes on that Portland package, if the rumors are true. Does he realize Amare’s value is as low as it’s ever been? Aldridge (the closest thing to Amare, only less explosive), a surefire PG IMO in Bayless, and an expiring contract you barely have to pay? That’d be the best superstar deal in a long time, by far.

  21. Ronny doing a great job in Golden State, and getting love from Captain Jack because of it:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/recap;_ylt=AnUi99uEfY0.IzGcrCKQcgO8vLYF?gid=2009021209&prov=ap

  22. I don’t mean to be a heretic, but NY would be insane to tray to sign a 30-31 year old Kobe instead of making the run for Lebron. Insane. Does D’Antoni even like Kobe? This has been the first season I can really see the miles on Kobe despite his peak conditioning. Putting him into D’Antoni’s system next year would be hard on him. Plus, he needs the ball in his hands and isn’t ready to be the PG in that system.

    This brings up something I noted in George Karl and Doug Moe’s section of the NBA Coach’s Handbook http://www.amazon.com/NBA-Coaches-Playbook-Techniques-Teaching/dp/0736063552/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1234570760&sr=8-2

    They right about the principles of being a running/ fast break team, and the last section states that running such a system inevitably takes its toll on a team over the course of a season. To counter that you should have a deeper bench. But Mike D’Antoni has never used a deep bench. He’s usually used a 6-7 man rotation sybbornly even when he’s had other options. Has this been part of their inability to succeed in the postseason? Or was that just the Spurs and the occasional suspension?

  23. 16 – I agree. If (a big if) O’Neal can stay healthy for the playoffs, they have a much more balanced lineup and a low post presence. Not sure what Toronto is doing.

    Amare in Portland? Just remember Amare has played his whole career with Steve Nash. Do they think he will be as good with Steve Blake at the point?

  24. I think Horse is gonna be pretty cool, and it can only grow as a contest as somebody said with increased competition.

    My birthday is Feb 18, so it always revolves close to all-star weekend. Never a complaint from me on that, I just hope to see some unique, original dunks tomorrow night. And I hope for an all-star game that is fun and wortwhile. Otherwise, what’s the point of all-star weekend.

    Never the less, I think it’s gonna be awesome all the way around~!

  25. I like the trade for Miami IF O’Neal can stay healthy until the rest of the season (a big if obviously). Even in his current state he’s roughly 93 times better than Joel Anthony or Jamaal Magloire. He can still block shots and board, and his post game is better than anything Miami had before. Beyond this year, the fact that his $23M contract comes off the books in 2010 is a huge plus.

    Toronto is going nowhere and this looks like a salary dump. They can’t play SSOL with the roster they have, and Marion has lost a step anyway.

    Aldridge and Bayless AND LaFrentz’s massive deal for Amare? That would be highway robbery from Phoenix’s point of view. I don’t see why Portland would do that, especially considering they have other pressing needs (PG, SF) and should be trying to make their defense better, not worse.

  26. Good column on the NBA:
    http://tinyurl.com/atoump

    Kobe has always bitched and moaned with the refs, and not gotten back on D while doing so. That isn’t because he is tired.

  27. 19. Adande is reaching there for a column. He goes very hard to suggest teams should avoid logic.

    23. That is a very interesting point about being a fast breaking team means you need a deeper bench and that was an issue in Phoenix.

    Anyone watching the Celeb All Star thing? Majerle is still a better spot up shooter than a lot of guys getting paychecks right now. I always had a soft spot for his game, though.

  28. Somebody needs to tell LeBron that Durant has been playing the 3 ever since Scott Brooks was hired.

  29. Someone needs to tell LeBron that the reason that Durant’s shot selection is better is that he’s playing at the three.

  30. LeBron, they (still) dare you to take the outside jumper.

  31. what in the world is Corbin Bleu…

    this is herrrreendous entertainment

  32. What a pleasant surprise.

  33. Pau replacing LeBron. Sweet.

  34. Does anyone else think that Pau’s english has improved since joining the Lakers?

  35. Kevin Durant… WOW.

  36. Is it just me or is there an incredible amount of young talent in today’s NBA? More so than before 2003?

    I mean I felt privileged to live in the CP3/Williams era, 2 PGs I believe will go down in history. And now Rose and Westbrook have a chance to reach that level. Mayo and Gordon as phenomenal guard scorers.

    And those are the up-and-comers. You already have 3 HOF wings in Lebron, Kobe, and Wade. Wow. So much talent. Anyone who cries about the golden ol’ days being gone and never coming back simply isn’t paying attention.

    This almost sounds blasphemous – but I see Brook Lopez in the mold of Tim Duncan. Not on that level, but similar style games. Comfortable post game, perimeter game. Calm, quiet demeanor, plays hard on D, blocks a ton of shots. A bit awkward motion also. I really love this guy’s game.

  37. Snoopy 2006 – It’s a new generation of players, they grew up watching Duncan on television. Our own Andrew Bynum said Duncan was his favorite player – he would have been 11 years old when Duncan won his first title in 1999.

  38. Durant was impressive last night. He looked light years ahead of everone else on the court. Granted it was an All-Star exhibition, but he looked good on Tuesday as well.

    I thought he might be #1 on a bad team, then go the #2 rout, but I may have to rethink that. Everything looks so easy for him.

  39. I thought Pau did a great job with the commentary during the Freshman/Sophomore game. For a native Spanish speaker, he has an excellent command of the English language.

    And it’s kind of sad, but I get nervous for any Laker who steps out of the team setting and does something on a nationally televised level.

  40. Anybody read the amazing article from the NYTimes today?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/15/magazine/15Battier-t.html?_r=2&ref=magazine&pagewanted=all

    Probably one of the best basketball articles I’ve ever read, with a great combination of human story, statistical relevance, and narrative exposition. It’s pretty long, so I don’t know how many people have the time to read the whole thing like I did, but it makes Shane Battier look really really impressive.

    As a quick synopsis, the article basically goes into the details of new defensive statistical probabilities that go beyond “Lamar Odom sucks when he goes right.” They actually attach percentages to various shots, such as the percentage that Kobe will make a shot after catching the ball, dribbling once, then shooting to his left. Given this data, Shane Battier has the mystically ability to make his entire team better without making any significant statistical impact beyond the game score.

    My only comment is that I think only a player as intelligent as Shane could pull off what he does. To be able to understand all the data he is given, and then apply it on the floor, all while still maintaining his fundamentals seems really hard to do. Someone like Lebron, who seems fairly intelligent, but never went to college, has almost certainly never had a probability theory course in his life, could never attempt this. The article definitely gives a lot of respect to Daryl Morey, the Rockets GM, and his use of abnormal statistics to grind out diamonds in the rough like Battier.

  41. Zephid,

    Great article. Actually written by Michael Lewis, of Moneyball fame.

  42. Zephid, that’s a great article. The only player I’m worried about when the Lakers play the Rockets is Battier. It’s much better for the Lakers if Battier’s injured instead of McGrady.

  43. Just read the NY Times article. It was amazing. Does Mitch/Lakers FO use unconventional “stats” to find “underpaid” players to complement his roster? Is Lamar our team’s Battier? REALLY interesting stuff!

  44. Great article. This explains why Kobe always struggles against Houston!

    I have a lot of respect for Shane Battier. He would be the ideal starting SF for the Lakers in my opinion (him or Tayshaun Prince anyway).

  45. Joel,

    Kobe struggles against Houston?

  46. 45

    Check his splits. He almost always shoots a low percentage when Battier guards him. He scores a lot but he needs a lot of shots to get those points. That counts as struggling for Kobe.

  47. Maybe ‘struggles’ wasn’t the greatest choice of words, but you get the picture.

  48. I was just e-mailed the same article by a friend. It provides an interesting analysis of Kobe and Manu as well.

    Morey says that forcing Kobe left is better than right and forcing Kobe away from the paint AND the baseline is the way to go if you’re defending him. Basically you’ll live with him taking the 18-foot pull-up off the dribble (preferably fading away).

  49. 43. No, the Lakers do not use these kind of statistics in their game planning or player/personnel moves. I called this summer asking to interview the Lakers advanced stats guy and was told by spokesman John Black, “Phil Jackson does not believe in that.” And if Phil doesn’t, than currently the organization doesn’t.

  50. New All Star weekend thread up.