Archives For February 2009

Preview & Chat: The Utah Jazz

Kurt —  February 11, 2009

Records: Lakers 42-9 (1st in the West) Jazz 29-23 (tied for 8th in West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 114.5 (1st in league) Jazz 110.1 (7th in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.5 (7th in league) Jazz 107.4 (14th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Jazz Deron Williams, CJ Miles, Ronnie Brewer, Paul Millsap, Mehmet Okur

Lakers Coming In: Last night was what I would call a “professional win.” It may not be inspired but it’s the kind of win good teams should get. They did not blow the Thunder out so Kobe did not get sit on the bench in the fourth quarter and complain about the music at Staples. But, the Thunder are a pretty good team and to their credit never folded, they kept coming. Secondly, that was the kind of game where a younger Lakers team, a lesser team lets down and ends up with a game decided at the buzzer. The Lakers got a professional win, so I’ll take that.

Of course, after an uninspired game I don’t have a lot to write.

The Jazz Coming In: This is what injuries will do to a team. Before the season, we all thought the Jazz were going to be in the top four teams in the West — but take away Carlos Boozer and AK-47 for long chunks (neither is playing tonight) and you get a much lesser team.

What’s kind of amazing is that the Jazz are an average defensive team this season, and by all accounts have been worse than that lately. Lethargy was the name of the game in a loss to the Warriors on Sunday, at least according to someone who watched the contest. And Jerry Sloan. That said, the Lakers can’t count on that — the Lakers will not get a lethargic opponent against them the rest of the season. The target is on their back.

The other thing that hurts the Jazz defense is that they foul a lot — only four teams send people to the line more often than the Jazz. That was their style in the playoffs, to take teams out of their rhythm by being physical. But the calls have caught up with them in the regular season. Also, surprisingly, they are no a good rebounding team — 25th in the league in defensive rebounding. That is too many easy putbacks for the opposition.

When Boozer first went down Paul Millsap stepped up for small college players everywhere and played like an All Star. But, battling through two sore knees, he is not the same player now — but he is still giving the Jazz 13 and 9 every night in the last 10, shooting 52.5%. He can board.

The one guy who hasn’t let up is Deron Williams. He is averaging 27 points and 10 assists per game, shooting 59% (eFG%) from the floor and getting to the line seven times a game for the Jazz. He remains one of the best PG’s in the game and the Lakers need to be ready and smart about their help on him tonight.

Keys To The Game: Traditionally at this blog we talk Xs and Os as the primary keys to a game. But just as traditionally, the last game before the All Star break has players mailing it in. Coaches mailing it in. Fans mailing it in. Just a lot of mail. One of these teams tonight will show up focused, and the one that does will get the win. That simple.

The Jazz on defense use a “pack-the-paint” strategy, so for once when the Lakers get the ball inside early (via pass to Gasol or penetration from Kobe) kick-outs to open shooters is welcome. In their last 10 games, opponents have shot 38.7% against the Jazz from three. This is a game where Fisher and Sasha among others can have a big night by burying the open looks.

On offense, the Jazz run the pick and roll virtually every time down. Okur creates a bit of a problem in that he can pop so his defender needs to step out. That leaves Millsap’s man to be the help in the paint when D-Will comes charging in, and the Lakers need to be smart about that. One trick may be to go under the pick, force Williams to shoot from the outside, particularly from three (he’s shooting 32.6% from there in his last 10).

The Lakers also need to board — back on Jan. 2 Millsap had 8 offensive rebounds because his man left to help and then nobody boxed him out. Do that on the road and the Jazz get some easy buckets and gain a lot of confidence.

Where you can watch: 6 p.m. start in Utah, on KCAL. Good news as it means this game should be over in plenty of time to watch Top Chef. It’s time for Leah to go home.

NBA: NOV 07 Thunder at Jazz

Records: Lakers 41-9 (1st in the West) Thunder 13-38 (14th in West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 114.5 (1st in league) Thunder 103.4 (27th in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.5 (7th in league) Thunder 109.4 (21st in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Thunder Russell Westbrook, Kyle Weaver, Kevin Durant, Nick Collison, Jeff Green

Saving Adam Morrison: While the trade of Clipper killer Vladimir Radmanovic (did you see the game last night?) for Adam Morrison and Shannon Brown was primarily a salary cap move, it also has some possibilities for the Lakers. I haven’t seen much of Morrison this year, so I asked Anthony Macri (coach at IMG in Florida and writer for Basketball Prospectus) for his thoughts on Morrison.

1.) Morrison can make shots. He did not magically forget how to do so in between college and the NBA. I think so much of an individual’s success in the NBA depends very heavily on fit that it is pretty impossible to write a player off after one stop and a few bad years.

2.) The Triangle could be a great fit for Morrison. We will have to see if he “gets it”–if he understands how to operate in that offense. If he does, he could make an impact quickly just by making shots. Because the Triangle is at its best when the ball is shared via the pass and not pounded into the ground, Morrison will not be asked to dribble, but rather to pass, cut, and flash. He can operate out of the high post and from the key spot (the wing).

3.) I’m not sure he has to do much of anything, anyway. This is not the move to put the Lakers over the hump, it is insurance and roster-related (read salary move). It may turn out to be a pleasant surprise for Los Angeles, but if not, there is no real loss for the Lakers.

If there is one guy Adam Morrison should be excited about playing for, it is Phil Jackson. Not this year, because this year he’s going to wear a suit a lot and try to chat up the Laker Girls. But he is the kind of guy Jackson and his system can really help find a niche. Through it all, everyone still thinks Morrison could be a good NBA shooter. What he needs is confidence, the confidence that comes with success in the game. Jackson (and this is what Radmanovic never grasped) asks role players to fit in very tightly-defined roles for the team — but within that role is where you can succeed. The Lakers don’t want Sasha Vujacic as a playmaking PG — that’s not what he does well. But as an energy defender and guy who can spot up the three, he is good. So stick to those things your good at. That is how the Lakers got decent production out of Smush Parker and Kwame Brown — tightly defined roles. Jackson will eventually ask Morrison to do just what he is good at, but that may be something useful.

Quick thoughts: Thoughts on a few things today:

• This got brought up in the comments by Mark Sigal and I mentioned it as key at that other gig — Maybe the most impressive part of the road trip was the start of the Fourth Quarter against Cleveland. The Lakers had battled back in the third quarter and were up five to start the fourth. Phil Jackson did what he does every game and played four bench players with Pau Gasol. The Cavaliers, in a little bit of a panic, played LeBron James, Mo Williams and their best lineup. It didn’t matter, the Lakers pulled away — stretching the lead to 10 and holding it there until halfway through the quarter when the starters returned. The Lakers bench was better than the Cavaliers starters, because they had a plan and stuck with their system even under pressure. Last season’s Lakers did not always do that.

• Derek Fisher has a new Web site up that is worth checking out.

• About Jamie being eliminated from Top Chef, it took me a few days to get over it, but she screwed up and had it coming. Forced out of her comfort zone, she floundered. What can be frustrating about that show is to watch someone like Leah coast through. She is not going to win, better chefs than her have been eliminated, but because she plays it safe she never gets in too much trouble. She doesn’t win, she just tries not to lose. Jamie had a chance to win it, now it’s just Stephan. Really, if he doesn’t win it that will be a miscarriage of justice.

• My latest idea for improving FB&G: Bacon!

The Thunder Coming In: Oklahoma City has actually been playing pretty well of late, having gone 5-5 in their last 10 games. What’s more, if you watch them, this is no fluke. This is a team that is young, but in a couple of years (with some smart drafts) could be very good.

Leading the way is Kevin Durant, who has been playing All Star level basketball. Let’s let the Daily Thunder take it from there

In December, Durant mounted an impressive stat line: 25.1 points and 7.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 6.5 free throw attempts per game while shooting 47.2 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from behind the arc. Then in January, he showed it was no fluke, notching 27.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 8.7 free throw attempts per game while shooting 49.4 percent from the floor and 39.6 percent from deep.

The Thunder also have been getting solid play the last 10 games from Jeff Green, who is shooting 56.4% eFG% and 47% from three in that span. Also, Russell Westbrook is showing why some of us fell in love with his game at UCLA. How about some David Thorpe on Westbrook:

As I’ve written before, one of the things I love about Westbrook is his willingness to get things done in the paint, usually crashing for offensive rebounds and finishing in transition. But now he’s more comfortable getting inside in other ways.

He’s been using his explosive crossover or hesitation dribble move to get in the paint, where he lowers his hips and drives right through defenders. And sometimes he uses his length and strength to back guys down in the post. In other words, he’s become a nightmare matchup — he’s too quick for shooting guards to stay in front of when he’s matched up with them, and he’s too powerful for point guards to stop.

He’s averaged 18.8 ppg in his last five games, with 5.4 boards and 4.4 assists. He’s No. 5 in PER for all rookies, and No. 1 for guards and for rookies playing 30-plus minutes a game. Imagine what he’ll be like when he improves his outside shooting.

Keys To The Game: It sounds like a broken record, but here goes — they key to this game is in the paint, and the Lakers should pound the ball there. Nobody on the Thunder can stop Gasol or Odom on the block, the Lakers need to establish that and other things will open up. Also, to counter their size issues, the Thunder are willing to front the post — the Lakers have struggled with this when they don’t rotate the ball quickly. If there is fronting the ball has to be reversed to the weak side, and things will open up.

It’s an interesting case because while the Thunder are smaller along the front line (6-9 is the tallest the starters go) they are a good team on the boards, at both ends. They scrap. Giving up offensive boards is one of he flaws for the Lakers (they are tied for 17th in the league). The Lakers need to be focused, particularly on the defensive glass, not to give up the easy second chance points.

Easy baskets are the way the Thunder can hang in this, which brings us to transition defense. The Thunder do not play at a fast pace but Westbrook and Watson are good in transition, and Durant can close in the open court. The Lakers simply have to get back and take this away.

If the Lakers can take away transition, what they will find is a young team that wants to “out athlete” you in the half court, sort of 90s isolation basketball not a lot of consistent team play. Force them to execute in the half court, play good help defense and you can stymie this team.

However, the Lakers, particularly the bench, should be able to get points in transition and run on the Thunder.

Personally, I want to see the Lakers crush this team because I’m not over the Seattle thing yet.

Where you can watch: Back home, it’s a 7:30 start out West on Fox Sports and online at your favorite locations.

Savoring Wins

Kurt —  February 9, 2009

Cavalers vs. Lakers
There is nothing that I can say that all of you didn’t say better. So, here are a few highlights from the comments yesterday:


NBA Mythology in Disarray

I believe that fans and pundits alike always subscribe to a mythical NBA scenario. In this most recent mythology, leading up to the most recent Laker road trip, the Lakers were to lose at least 2 games away–splitting home and home victories with Cleveland and Boston–and then try to develop or prove their toughness for an ultimate East/West showdown in the playoffs.

Boston would ultimately become the East coast champions, Labron would become the NBA MVP as a consolation prize, and the NBA championship would hinge on who got home court advantage (probably the Leprechauns).

When Bynum went down in game #1, the Lakers lost their chance to prove toughness through seasonal play-and their chance at home court advantage. Their only chance would be through an unlikely “Gasol style” Hail Mary trade. Many Laker fans who bought into this mythology actually gave up on the Lakers until next year.

The Laker victories on the road, under extreme circumstances, successively at Boston and Cleveland have shaken the mythologists to the core. How could the Lakers be soft when Lamar pats KG on the butt and makes two free throws and the Lakers squeak out a victory? How can Lebron be MVP when he has a stinker of a game at home while a sick Kobe makes an impossible “lights out” rainmker in his face? If the season is over without Andrew, how come the Lakers just went 6-0 on a road trip without him? Could reality be a bit more complex than the mythologists thought?

Reality tells us that the Thunder could come into Staples on Tuesday and beat the Lakers by 30. Reality tells us that that a resurgent Jazz, Suns, Trailblazers, ??? could take out the #1 Lakers in the first round of the Western playoffs.

Reality tells us that Duncan, Wade, Howard, or some other star may yet emerge as the top MVP candidate–as he leads his team to and through the playoffs.

Reality tells us that teams like Miami, Atlanta, or even Larry’s Bobcats might somehow not only make it into the playoffs, but knock out the Leps and the Crabs in the process.

The mythologists are scratching their heads, trying to decide whether or not to invent a new mythology.

I subscribe to reality. I watch the games, speculate on trades, and appreciate Laker wins on a daily basis–never knowing for sure what will happen next.

You know what? The mythologists don’t either.

kwame a.

How about Phil freaking Jackson. There’s always some sob story that gets a heavy push for coach of the year because he took a non-playoff team and made them a 6 seed, but what Phil has done, especially with guys like LO, Sasha, Luke, Jordan, is the essence of coaching. Finding roles for players and making them learn to carry out their responsibilities is the hardest thing for a coach to do, and Phil has been the best at that. When it is all said and done, his second tour with the Lakers will define Phil Jackson’s legacy. He is dispelling any myth (can’t win without talent already there, can’t coach young players) and is having fun.

kwame a.

Why the need to feed K.Ding the stuff about Vlad wearing Vans to practice? No need to throw dirt on Vlad, I just don’t think there’s much to gain from that, and he did a lot of stuff for local charities, just let the guy leave.


I’m really loving the way the team is playing right now. They’re playing with a mental edge that keeps them in every game (epitomized by the 11-0 run after the Cavs had taken that 12 point lead), they’re executing the offense, and turning up the defensive pressure in crucial parts of the game where stops are most important. I can’t say that this is the best we’ve played all year (we are 41-9 so there have been other parts of the season where we’ve looked extremely strong), but I can say that as we get deeper into the season it’s very promising that we’re still playing very well and that we seem to be finding our stride against the better teams in the league. It’s also very encouraging that while Andrew is out injured, that other players (like LO) have stepped up their game(s) and proven to be the capable players that we all thought they were.


What does Lamar Odom mean to the Lakers? To me, this game was the answer to that question. No, it wasn’t the gaudy stats, with his 28 points on 13-19 shooting, with 17 rebounds and a block. It was all the little things that he can do that make him special.

Yes, Lamar does not have nearly the statistical consistency of Gasol, the killer instinct of Kobe, the professionalism of Fish, the size of Bynum, or the energy of Ariza. But, there is one thing that Lamar does that no one else on this team can do: Be a vocal glue guy during the game.

What does this mean? We’ve all heard of vocal leaders, and vocal supporters, but a vocal glue guy? The difference is, while vocal leaders are meant to push the team in a certain direction, and vocal supporters are meant to pump up teammates, a vocal glue guy is someone who holds the team together in a game, giving us a sense of unity and solidarity.

During ABC telecasts, they always have a “WIRED” section, where they attach a mic to a player and randomly play snippets of audio from various times during the game. When the Lakers are on ABC, Lamar is always the guy to wear the mic. During today’s game, there were three snippets in particular that I found indispensable:

1.) During pre-game, right before the game starts, the team makes a circle with Lamar standing in the middle, where Lamar orates a pseudo-sermon (one that particularly stands out is, “I know we all love road kill, but now it’s time for us to get some home cookin’,” referring to the Lakers being an excellent road team and now coming home to defend their home court). Most of the time, I can’t make out what Lamar says (maybe I’m too much of a hick), but is there any other Laker who would do that? My answer is no.

2.) During the game, Lamar was constantly talking to his guards. “I got you, baby. I got you, baby,” he said, in reference to being behind a guard ready to slide over and help in case of penetration. Given Bynum, Gasol, and Powell’s reserved demeanors, I can’t imagine any of them doing this quite as well as Lamar. This type of communication, while somewhat mundane, makes our defense work, and Lamar is probably the best at it.

3.) On several putbacks or dunks, Lamar roars at the end of them. There were at least three dunks today when after Lamar finished, he let out a primal scream as he turned to run back up the floor. I doubt we’ll ever see Kobe show that much emotion, and Gasol only screams when he thinks he got fouled. This energy, this passion, makes Lamar singular on this team.

Most nights (excluding tonight) many of us are busy criticizing Lamar for his shortcomings, whether it be mental concentration, will-power, or drive to succeed. Most Lamar supporters counter with his versatility, his ability to defend 4 out of 5 positions, ball-handling, rebounding, cutting, and now improved jump shot. However, I think that Lamar’s true value lies in his holding this team together. He may not get the All-Star attention like Gasol or Bynum, and he may not be the face of the team like Kobe, but I contend that he may be more important than all of them, for we can win as a group of talented individuals without Lamar, but with Lamar, we become a team.

Olympics Day 16 - Basketball
Lakers: 40-9 (1st in West), Cleveland 39-9 (1st in East)
Offensive Rating: Lakers: 114.5 (1st in league), Cleveland: 113.2 (3rd in league)
Defensive Rating: Lakers: 105.7 (7th in league), Cleveland: 101.6 (2nd in league)
Projected Lineups: Lakers Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Cavaliers Mo Williams, Wally Szczerbiak, Lebron, Ben Wallace, Zydrunas Ilgauskas

Episode VI: Return of the Odom: Bill Bridges thinks we have have seen the start of a different Lamar Odom:

In the 1984 finals, his team was bullied, his power forward literally clotheslined. The Lakers were Intimidated and then finally beaten by the Boston Celtics, a team the Lakers had never beaten since their move out west.

Fast forward a year. Pat Riley heard a year of talk about how his team was soft, good enough for show time but not tough enough to win. It was then. prior to the rematch that he told his team what his father had told him. “Just remember what I always taught you. Somewhere, someplace, sometime, you’re going to have to plant your feet, make a stand and kick some ass. And when that time comes, you do it.”

It was the spirit of Lee Riley that Lamar Odom channeled on February 5th 2008. “Sometimes you’ve just got to make a stand. Tonight, we made a stand.”

If history repeats itself it must do so on 24 year cycles. The finesse team from Los Angeles goes into Boston and kicked sand into the bully’s face. As it was in 1985, so it shall be in 2009.

“Cathartic? I don’t know what cathartic means. I didn’t go to college” Kobe Bryant may not know what cathartic means but Lamar Odom embodied it.

We might have witnessed the transformation of LO. For so long he has tantalized us with a unique combination of size, speed, and skills. Always disappointing instead with inconsistency and lack of focus and fortitude. Can a moment be so cathartic for an individual? Can transformation happen in an instant?

Stephen Jay Gould amended Darwin by showing that evolution happens in an instant (geologically speaking). Punctuated Equilibrium rather than a gradual crawl. Evolution is Revolution.

What are the traits keeping LO back from greatness. Not skills. Not size. Not athleticism. But focus, determination, concentration, will. Maybe he finally got it. Finally realized he has to let go to move forward. Phil started the process by having LO come off the bench for the first time in his life. Humility shatters the illusions of the ego that prevent growth. By letting go, maybe LO now can play in the moment. Present, focused, determined.

“Basketball is a humiliating sport, it can humble you right in the middle of the game,” Odom said. “But tonight I just left all that behind.”

Character is shaped not by success but reaction to failure. Evolution only occurs change in environmental stress favours a new variant of the species. Without stress no growth. Andrew Bynum’s injury, especially due to the deja vu nature, created cruel and violent stress. But also an opportunity for growth and evolution. How this team, on this trip, reprising the character of 1985 has responded to this stress been gratifying to us all. How LO, in this game matched the passion of KG, looked the bullies in the eye and, in the end, won the game, might be the true blessing arising from the misfortune in Memphis.

We sensed the change even during the game. Any other game, you would despair at seeing LO at the line with one free throw to tie and two the win. But for the first time since he became a Laker, somehow I knew he would sink both. And he did.

The last week in Lakers Land: From kwame a.:

Sat, Jan. 31: Humming along on the roadie, Drew goes down and is left screaming in pain. Can’t help but think the worst, even while drinking at a wedding reception, can’t stop thinking about Drew being out for the year.

Sun, Feb. 1: Super Bowl Sunday is a subdued affair, waiting for the word on Drew, only to hear the damn doctor couldn’t look at the MRI. Even while enjoying some delicious fat tire ale, and watching a great football game, I’m nervous as hell bad news is looming.

Mon, Feb. 2: Kobe comes out firing early at MSG and you knew he was in that mode. After a virtuoso performance, he ends up with 61, which tempers the earlier news that Drew is out for 8-12 weeks.

Tue, Feb. 3: A day to re-think just how amazing Kobe really is, the fact he has done it for a decade straight, all with the same cold-blooded determination. We are all lucky to be able to have seen his career.

Wed, Feb. 4: The team buckles down in the 4th after some rag-tag play, and led by Pau and Kobe beat the Raptors, 4-0 on the trip, but Gasol goes 45 minutes, how in the hell do we win in Boston tomorrow without AB?!?

Thurs, Feb. 5: Against all odds, and sometimes 3 zebras, the Lakers prevail in OT, showing the requisite “machismo” the mainstream media has lusted for all year. Fans and players know its only a regular season game, but the win felt like it could have important psychological ramifications for the team going forward.

Fri, Feb. 6: Talking heads and typing bloggers argue and debate the BOS/LA classic, arguing over whether the refs were at fault for the C’s loss, what the win meant for the Lakers and what the loss meant for the C’s. Such reaction to a regular season game is rare, even forcing Kurt to reaffirm FBG’s commitment to civil dialogue.

Sat, Feb. 7: While thinking this would be a slow day, I get a text message that we made a trade. I immediately doubt it, but then, there it, confirmed on FBG, Vlad for Morrison and Shanny.

For many teams this type of week would be the most memorable in franchise history. For the Lakers, it’s just another week. With a chance to break the Cavs perfect home record, I can’t wait to see what this next week brings.

Cleveland Coming In: Everyone talks about LeBron and what Mo Williams has brought to the table, but the reason Cleveland is one of the top teams in the NBA is defense.

They are second overall in defensive efficiency (lowest PPG because they play at a slow pace). They do it by limiting shooting percentages with solid perimeter defense and some long arms and big bodies in the paint that can block and alter shots.

Part of that is Ilgauskas, he is quietly the key to this team. They need his scoring as a big, his presence and length inside. With him in the lineup they score fore more points a game. With him they are 28-4, without him 11-5.

Last Time They Met: The Lakers handed the Cavs their worst start of the season back in January. We can take nothing much from that game, the Cavs were without Big Z. and Delonte West. As stated above, with Z in the lineup they are a different team.

Keys to the Game: One of the things that has been a problem for the Lakers this season is teams with a center who can step out and hit the jumper, pulling the help defender away from the basket. That is a basic tenent of the Cavs offense — Big Z lives in the corner as a spot-up guy on the three. The Lakers are going to have to defend the P&R without a simple backstop, they need to be smart about it.

On the other end, we seem to always talk about getting Gasol involved, and the Lakers need to because he is hot — in the last four games he is shooting 69.4%, scoring 27 per and adding 13 boards.

In the last meeting Kobe did a good job denying LeBron and making him work for his points. I expect to see that again, the goal is to force the other Cavs to beat you, the problem is that they can in this meeting far better than they did in the last meeting

Kobe Bryant has to play with his team, he cannot get sucked into a one-on-one deal with LeBron. It’s one thing to do that against the Knicks (and shooting 60% while doing it) but in this game it is not a winning strategy.

Where to watch: 12:30 on ABC, after a pretty interesting Spurc/Celtics game.

Lakers Trade Vladimir Radmanovic

Kurt —  February 7, 2009

Indiana Hoosiers v Gonzaga Bulldogs
In a move that is a salary dump, the Lakers have moved Vladimir Radmanovic to Charlotte. Here is the official announcement:

The Los Angeles Lakers have acquired forward Adam Morrison and guard Shannon Brown from the Charlotte Bobcats in exchange for Vladimir Radmanovic, it was announced today.

Morrison, currently in his 3rd NBA season out of Gonzaga, was selected third overall by the Bobcats in the 2006 NBA Draft after earning unanimous First Team All-America honors and garnering multiple National Player of the Year awards his senior year. Named to the All-Rookie Second Team following the 2006-07 season, Morrison appeared in 78 games as rookie including 23 starts, averaging 11.8 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 2.1 assists in 29.8 minutes while earning T-Mobile Rookie of the Month honors for November 2006.

Missing the entire 2007-08 season after suffering a torn ACL in his left knee in an October 20 preseason game against the Lakers, Morrison has played in 44 games this season including five starts, averaging 4.5 points and 1.6 rebounds in 15.2 minutes with a high-game of 16 points November 11 vs. Denver.

Morrison is due the remainder of $4,159,200 this year and then $5,257,228 for next season. After that, the Lakers would have to pick up his option, something that is unlikely with Bynum’s new deal, plus potential deals for Ariza and Odom to be signed this offseason. Little used guard Brown has a one year deal for less than $800,000.

Radmanovic was due $6.5 million this year and next, and with the player option his deal went one year longer. Because the Lakers are in the luxury tax, this will save the team about $13 million.
This will not impact the Lakers on the floor, except during garbage time. Radmanovic could not crack the Lakers rotation, and he is an infinitely better player than Morrison. So far this season Morrison has a true shooting percentage of 45.2% (Radman is 60.4%), is shooting 33.7% from three (44.1%) and has a PER of 6 (11.8). Plus, at least by reputation, he is a considerably worse defender than Radmanovic.

As for Brown, well, if he couldn’t get off the bench behind Felton….

UPDATE: The official comments from Mitch:

“As the season wore on, it looked like Phil (Jackson) had settled into starting Luke (Walton) and bringing Trevor (Ariza) off the bench, and we are very pleased with both players. Vladi (Radmanovic) started the season (at small forward) and I thought he played well, but here it is early February and it looked like he wasn’t going to play much. You can tell by just watching and talking to Vladi that he did want to play, and he didn’t come here just to sit on the bench and collect a paycheck. So, part of the decision was to accommodate a player that wanted to play.

From our point of view we feel we pick up two players that are still young developing players (is valuable). As you know, Adam (Morrison) was their No. 3 pick in the NBA Draft and had an ACL injury against us last year. That injury takes more than a year (to recover from), so we think he would benefit from a situation that has less pressure, and our staff here in terms of our people downstairs medically and just a stable environment where he could progress and get back to where he was in college. Shannon Brown is a developing player as well – you may recall that he played really well against us in L.A. last week. So we picked up two players that have upside. If there was a third reason, we picked up some flexibility down the road with a shortened commitment versus Vladi’s (financial) commitment.”

# When asked if the Lakers were done on the trade front before the February 19 deadline, Kupchak responded in turn: “I wouldn’t say that I’m making a lot of calls. We have the best record in the league right now, we just had a great road trip and hopefully we can end it really strong tomorrow. The news on Andrew (Bynum) was not good, but it looks like he’ll have a better chance to return this year than he did last year, so I’m not sure we want to address anything more than continuing to win as many games as possible and hope to get Andrew back.
# More pointedly: “I don’t think there’s a deal out there that can make this a better team than the one we have or the one we potentially have.”