Can’t Lose Situation – Part II

Darius Soriano —  June 22, 2009
Game 5: Magic vs. Lakers

We’ve talked finances.  We’ve talked Lamar Odom.  And despite these being very specific topics, Trevor Ariza is the guy whose name has come up in both of these conversations.  This is a testament to his incredible importance to our team’s success and his tremendous contributions to our championship season.  Yes, we are Kobe’s team.  Yes, Pau Gasol has proven himself as an all world player.  And yes, Odom has the versatility and Bynum is the future.  But, no player has grown on us quite like Ariza.  The hustle, the dunks, the steals, the unassuming way that he goes about his business while always competing hard are all ways that he has inserted himself into the portrait of our team.  If I took a poll and asked “Do you want Trevor Ariza to remain a Los Angeles Laker?”, 100% of the answers to that poll would be a resounding YES.  We love this guy.

And what’s not to love?  Over the course of this past season, no player has developed as much as Trevor.  He went from bench player to key starter.  From a slasher and fast break finisher to one of our most reliable three point shooters.  From a guy that was a terror mostly in the passing lanes to the man that played inside Hedo Turkoglu’s jersey for twenty quarters of Finals basketball.  From a player who would consistently defer to one who would not hesitate in taking and making the big shots.  We’ve seen the evolution of a player and we couldn’t be more excited about it.  I mean, by the time our playoff run was over, he would have easily been mentioned as our third or fourth most important player – trailing only Kobe and Gasol and in a virtual tie with Odom.

And while he did hit some very important shots, he primarily achieved this status as our most relied upon wing defensive player.  During our playoff run, he earned his stripes against some of the most difficult covers in the playoffs.  Starting in the second round, Ariza spent significant time guarding Ron Artest, then Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups, and then (the aforementioned) Hedo Turkoglu.  All of these players are (or at least were at the time we played them) the primary offensive weapons and/or initiators for their teams.  Look at that list again.  Bruising/All court small forwards, a top ten point guard in the NBA, and a point forward that plays the P&R better than almost any other ball handling forward in the league.  Without his efforts to slow or contain these players we don’t win a title.  Especially when you consider that his ability to cover these players (even if some were only on a part time basis) allowed Kobe not to have to guard these guys for entire games/series (ala Paul Pierce in last years Finals).  And Ariza did it all without ever patting himself on the back or showing any hints of ego.  He put his head down and played hard.  That’s the type of player that every championship team needs.

Plus, not once did he wilt or show any anxiety or fear.  I’ll let Reed explain:

Ariza, perhaps above everyone else, proved ready to join Kobe and embrace playoff pressure. He made so many game/series-changing and saving plays that just aren’t captured in a box score. He did not ever look scared. He has a huge ceiling, is so young, and has proven willing to put in the work necessary to improve his skill set.

But therein lies the rub with Trevor – he appears to be an unfinished product.  So, despite his strong regular season and even better playoffs, there are still question marks with him.  Not negatives, mind you, just questions.  More Reed:

But do we know for sure he’s as good as we think? What if the playoff three point shooting was a bit of a blip? Do we overstate his great playoff moments and understate the games where he made no impact?  Are we tempted to ovepay off of a small track record like we were with Sasha, Luke, etc.?  Is he going to evolve into a Battier, a Prince, a Gerald Wallace, better? Who is a good model and what does he need to do to keep improving (I’d say work on his ballhandling and midrange game — so often he gets chased off the 3 and ends up with some awkward floater in the lane). Could he develop into a consistent scoring option — one that’s not dependent on really open looks? Is he more or less replaceable than Odom, both in terms of skills and mindset?  These are all open questions that spring to mind, not arguments. I personally strongly believe in Ariza. He’s shown me flashes of extreme potential and a willingness to get better. 

Just like Reed, I don’t see these questions as negatives or as arguments against Trevor – just things that are still unknown.  And just like Reed, I have a very strong belief in Trevor and his future development.  But these are questions that should be asked.  And these open questions are ones that start to speak to his value.  Not as a player and his role to this team, I think that’s established – he’s a vital contributor who is clearly a major part of our success.  But his value in terms of the salary that he earns.  All that said, I’m not going to talk numbers right now.  There are too many unknown variables (Buss’ want to keep this current group together balanced against his spending limit, market values that won’t be determined by the Lakers, the value that the player/agent have in mind, team profit margins, etc) for me to speculate on anything related to the finances in retaining Ariza.  As I said in a previous post, it’s not my money and I don’t write the checks.

So, I can’t speak to what salary he’s earned for his next contract.  I can only say that he’s earned the right to stay with the team.  And after the stints of players like Kwame Brown, Smush Parker, Brian Cook, etc, etc that we’ve seen over the years (as an aside – watch out Sasha, you could join this list), I think it bears repeating: Trevor Ariza has earned the right to remain a Laker.  He’s improved his game to the point that he’s already the ideal Triangle small forward, and nearly the perfect one.  He’s a defensive minded player that has shown he can shoot the three ball all while being mentally tough.  He meshes well with Kobe and Gasol, moves well off the ball, and has shown a high basketball IQ in picking up our sets on both offense and defense.  If he makes some small improvements to his game (like the ones Reed mentioned, plus getting a bit more comfortable posting up), he’ll be a true force on a perennial contender.  Everyone knows my bias towards Lamar.  But, I’m just as fond of Ariza.  I think (along with Kobe, Gasol, Bynum, and Odom) he’s one of our best five players.  And just as I’ve said about LO, we need this player.  After all the growth we’ve seen from Trevor, it’d be a shame to see him truly blossom with another team.  I understand that there are aspects to retaining Ariza that are out of the teams control.  I also understand the financial implications to keeping both of Ariza and Odom.  But, in the end, I think this team deserves the chance to defend it’s title.  In a way, I’d feel cheated if we didn’t get to make at least one more run with this entire group in tact.  I can only hope the front office and ownership group feel the same way.

-Darius

Darius Soriano

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175 responses to Can’t Lose Situation – Part II

  1. I think TA has a huge impact on Kobe’s game. When these two play side by side in crunch time, Kobe has the luxury to roam a little more on D as he doesn’t have to guard the likes of Turkuglo. In addition, Kobe has that much more space on offense since the three point shooting of TA has to be respected. He really is a dream player for spacing for the triangle – that’s the bonus, because he was really only counted on to be our defensive specialist.

    I think Michael Cooper is smiling somewhere.

  2. It’s all about money. I think Ariza will get offers at full MLE level. I see him as a next Battier, maybe less brainiac, more athletic. I think keeping Ariza should be #1 task for Lakers (keeping Odom #1a). Finding PF/C is easier to do.

  3. Good questions, Darius and Reed. How many Lakers fans, after last year, would have predicted the kind of playoff run Sasha had this year? I do think Ariza will continue to improve, but I also scoffed at Hollinger’s article predicting Sasha and Farmar would regress this season.

    Another question, albeit a nitpicky one – have we still found a wing player who matches up well with the bigger SFs? Ariza seemed to struggle when Artest decided to take him onto the block, and Pierce is much more skilled than Artest. Turk was the best possible matchup for Ariza, but Pierce represents the worst. Obviously Ariza’s a huge improvement over any previous wing defender, but he has his weaknesses as a defender as well. Sometimes after the high of a title or strong playoff run, we lose a bit of perspective.

    That said, everyone knows we need Ariza back, and I think (maybe too optimistically) Buss will make it happen with all 3 of our coveted FAs.

  4. The biggest key for Ariza will be to refine his move where the defender comes at him on the 3 point line and he then drives in for the 10 to 15 foot floating J. When he does this well, the defense has to provide him space. I agree with all – if at all possible, we need to keep both Ariza and Odom without overspending to heavily.

  5. TA emerged as my favorite Laker this year. No one else was even close. (Though Ronny would have given him a good run had he still be balling in So Cal.)

    You raise a really good point about recent/current Laker contracts (Sasha and Luke) serving as possible precedents for what would be a smart offer to TA. I think, though, that both of those players always had fundamental limits to their games and were most successful in certain situations. Outside of those situations, they are not nearly as valuable or as successful.

    With TA…he has been the facilitator of so much success. Whenever it appeared that his game had limits, he took the lid off of something we had never seen before and showcased another layer of his capabilities.

    I’m very much with you…his ceiling is…not known yet. I very much hope we all get to find out where it is. And that he is still a Laker whenever he finds it.

  6. Not to hijack a thread and a great post, but a really good read in the NYT today about mock drafts and how good they actually are.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/22/sports/basketball/22nba.html?_r=1&ref=sports

  7. Hi Darius,

    You might have pointed out that Trevor was apparently on the Lakers radar screen for years before the Lakers were able to trade for him, and that he was almost certainly brought in to start at the 3 from the gitgo. Trevor and Andrew seem to be the nucleus of a next generation Laker team.

    What may be surprising is that, despite a major injury, he has risen so far so fast. In hindsight, the Lakers might have been better off to extend his contract last year. This year, signing him when he is so high may require the Lakers to offer him an attractive long term contract just to keep him in LA–and it could hardly come at a worse time.

    I have a hard time imaging the Lakers not signing Trevor. I think that they will try to sign him first of all the free agents–and as soon as possible. I’ve already stuck my neck out on $6 million as a number for next year, but I’ve hinted that it should be part of a multiyear deal in which it could start even lower.

    I suspect that the Lakers will look to a three year deal for a total of (about) $20 million–but they might end up offering a longer term deal.

    I hope that Trevor is thinking the same way.

  8. drrayeye,
    Good point on Ariza being on the team’s radar. I think that could also be said of Pau and WOW. Mitch is pretty good at identifying targets and being patient, yet aggressive, in obtaining them.

    As for Ariza’s contract, like I said in the post, I don’t really want to talk specifics in dollars. The market usually dictates what a player is worth. However, I do think that the MLE is going to be an offer extended to many players this summer – and Ariza may be in that group. There are several high quality unrestricted free agents (Boozer, Gordon, Andre Miller, Bibby) and others with very high name value (Iverson, Kidd, Marion, ‘Sheed) that will likely garner attention before Ariza (or even Odom). I do think it’s important for Mitch and the ownership to be smart with their offer(s) while also being very assertive in showing their want of retaining Ariza (and LO). It’s a tough line to straddle, but I hope we can get it done with both guys.

  9. Also, the summer of 2010 looms large with so many of the games best players (Dirk, Amare, Wade, Lebron, Bosh) becoming available and I think that will definitely impact what teams spend on guys now. I think teams that are trying to create cap space for next summer may stay out of the bidding on these guys entirely as they don’t want to dedicate future cap space on this current group of FA’s right now. That may further depress the market and find guys scrambling for dollars that they thought would easily be available to them this summer.

  10. @snoopy2006,

    That’s why we need Odom too. =)

  11. I can see why actually coming up with the mock drafts would be so tedious. How many people set that much in store by them? I prefer DraftExpress’s scouting reports, a mock draft doesn’t seem like it provides as much. I never really set much in store by them except to get a general feel for what range certain players are in.

    Chad Ford is also my favorite, not just for his reports, but after his work with PeacePlayers, he’s probably my favorite ESPN guy out there.

  12. I think Darius put it pretty well, but I also want to comment on Ariza’s development over the course of this year.

    Does anyone remember in the pre-season/early regular season when we were openly pining for the perfect triangle SF? I remember bringing up genetically combining Luke, VladRad, and Trevor into one shooting, passing, finishing, defending, super-SF. I remember personally claiming that Trevor couldn’t play with the first unit because he destroyed our floor spacing and was an offensive liability. How wrong I was.

    If my memory serves me well, there was a pre-season list of perfect SF’s for our system. Among them were Tayshaun Prince, Gerald Wallace, Shane Battier, and even *gasp* Ron Artest (yes, ’tis shameful to admit how stupid I once was). Why did we want these guys? Because they could A.) defend, B.) shoot. In some cases (Artest), we were only half right. But we all wanted a smart, athletic, sharp-shooting wing player who could space the floor on offense and contend with Paul Pierce and his wheelchair on defense. Trevor has become our perfect triangle SF.

    Now that the hyperbole is done, it’s time for some more pessimistic analysis.

    #1. There’s a damn good chance that Trevor’s three-point shooting will regress.

    As we’ve seen in the case of Sasha, Jordan, and others, young players can get worse instead of better. Trevor is still very young, and there’s a strong possibility that his shooting was a fluke. Sasha shot 40+% in the playoffs last year; he shot something like 25% this year. Also, teams left Trevor open all year. Trevor’s high shooting percentage is somewhat misleading because the large majority of his shots are wide open. The fact that he only hits 40% may actually be disturbing as opposed to encouraging, considering how many of his shots are completely uncontested. Hopefully Trevor doesn’t get complacent and continues to improve his jumpshot.

    #2. Trevor’s defense really isn’t all that good.

    Trevor got absolutely shredded by Ron Artest and Carmelo Anthony. Now, this is mostly because those two are in a different weight class compared to Trevor, but there were a number of occasions where Kobe had to switch onto both those guys, simply because Trevor wasn’t strong enough to contend with either of them. We’re actually fairly lucky that neither Lebron James nor Paul Pierce and his wheelchair made it to the Finals, because if there’s one thing Trevor has trouble with, it’s strong SF’s. If Trevor bulks up Pau-style in the offseason, this issue becomes mute.

    #3. He’s a disaster when he has the ball on the wing

    This issue stems from a number of things. First and foremost is that Trevor simply has small hands. You can see it when he goes up for dunks; the ball is unstable and has a tendency to fall through the hoop as opposed to Trevor pushing it through. Whenever Trevor dribbles to the hole, I cringe a little. Similar to Lamar, when Trevor drives, he’s going to the basket; there’s no mid-range option for Trevor. A lot of times this leads to bad offensive fouls or him falling awkwardly and missing a poorly taken pseudo-runner. Trevor is also a fairly poor decision maker on the wing. You can see it when he catches the ball, he wants to give the ball up quick or put it up quick. When he catches the ball on the wing, he has a tendency to either set his pivot foot too early or lose his dribble too early. This leads to a lot of him leaning heavily to one side trying to get a pass around a defender either back to Kobe at the top or Gasol in the post. If Trevor works on his ball-handling skills, he should be fine, since he’ll be more confident putting the ball on the floor on the wing.

    Overall, Trevor showed so much improvement, going from back-up to starter to Finals contributor, that he’s exceeded all expectations. I have a feeling he’s going to get something along the lines of a 3 yr/18 mil deal with a player option for a 4th year, and that’s a more than fair price.

  13. given how saturated the FA market is, along with the economy crunsh, you have to feel optimistic about getting both TA and LO back.

    In my opinion, LO is irreplaceable. You just can’t find talented guys like that to come off your bench. Similar talent (Shawn Marion for example) rarely accepts a bench player role. And I agree that TA is important, but if I were Mitch, I would be planning for a scenario where TA gets an offer that is too rich for Buss’s blood, and I would start looking at Ime Udoka to offer our MLE. Ime’s game is very similar to Trevor’s and would fit well with the triangle. He can shoot, and he plays sticky “in your jersey” defense. He’s not a threat in the passing lanes like TA is, but he’s a more refined offensive player, plus I think Kobe respects him after battling him a few times.

  14. The Dude Abides June 22, 2009 at 10:58 am

    I believe that Trevor will receive a few MLE offers this summer, and Dr. Buss will match them. For Trevor’s purposes, I think a three-year deal at the MLE would be ideal. For the Lakers, I think a longer contract at the MLE would be ideal. I’ll be happy either way.

    Regarding the economic situation and free agents, just look to baseball–Orlando Hudson specifically. Nobody else offered him as much as the $5 million per season that the Dodgers offered, and the Dodgers got a steal. Sure, there was an injury involved, but other teams didn’t do the due diligence on it. This guy last season was regarded as the best 2nd baseman in baseball after Utley and Pedroia.

    Reply to Cahuitero from previous thread:
    Gladyr may have more upside than Beaubois, but he’s only 19 if you believe the Draft Express numbers and that would be the main reason for his possibly greater upside. The Frenchman played in a much tougher league than the Ukrainian. So, when I think about these two, we don’t really know which one would be better. They’re probably in the same “tier” that Chad Ford describes when he groups the draftees. You always pick someone from a higher tier if he’s available, but when you have a choice between two players of the same tier, then you draft for the greater need. And for the Lakers, the greater need in the season after next will be point guard.

  15. question to the forum:

    We know we have a concern at PG. Fish is getting old, Farmar regressed this year, and SB is a free agent and a wildcard shot at starting PG at best.

    The Lakers have a MLE. Obviously they’re prioritizing LO and TA. What are the fan’s thoughts about the possibility of persuing Jason Kidd for a 1 year deal (either in addition to these two guys, or in lieu of re-signing them).

  16. Well said Darius. We just have to hope that the Market is as cool as we hope it to be and that they actually want to come back as badly as we want them to.

    Come on MK and Dr. Buss, let’s make this happen!

  17. Travis,

    What Kidd wants most now is a multi-year deal. He’s insisted many times that he won’t go to a contender for a one-year deal for a chance at a ring. Only way that scenario you’ve put out comes true is that Dallas doesn’t resign him, and given how much Cuban has invested into Kidd, I sincerely doubt that.

    As for Ariza, Darius’ point about the 2009 market influencing the 2010 market is pretty salient. No one is going to overpay someone this year, no one. 2010 encompasses the dreams of about 75% of the franchises in the league that they can get a marquee star to lead their team to the next level and they’ll be loathe to sacrifice cap space for a second-tier star now. Ariza will come back for money roughly around the MLE, 3-4 years.

  18. Travis (#15), I for one do not want anything to do with Kidd. I think that it’s just a band aid and I would like to pursue a long term solution.

    I think that Fish/X can get us by one more year while we figure it out.

  19. No brainer that every Lakers fan wants Ariza back. I fully agree with your statement that he is the “ideal Triangle small forward”.

    The only other player in the NBA that I would want who is in the same class as Trevor would be Travis Outlaw. But, throw in the hometown edge, and the pleasant history he is establishing, I really can’t argue against what I quoted from you.

  20. Has anyone else noticed that Ariza seems to lean in on his long jump shots, especially when he’s right at the three point line? I can’t decide if that’s good practice when not guarded or the start of a bad habit (or just something that I think I’m seeing).

    I think Ariza has earned the MLE, if only for the way he fits in with the team and for coming up big in pressure situations. I’m a little more worried that someone else will see him as a building block and offer him that kind of money (say 5 years/$55MM), which would put a lot of pressure on the Lakers. That said, I think the combination of the poor economy and the shadow of the 2010 market make that unlikely.

  21. Zephid, you brought up some very good arguments about Ariza. I do not think he will have a drop-off like Sasha and Luke did after their big contracts, besides Luke kind of redeemed himself somewhat this year, I hope Sasha does the same next year also. How many 5-6m dollar players can you have on a team with four others making 16-20m also? Ariza is definitely deserving to stay on the Lakers and as was said, he could and probably is going to be a big part of the future team we will all see getting Championships 5-10 years from now. Darn that Kobe Bryant, he increases the value of every single play that he practices and plays with!

    Do what you need to first, do what you want last.

  22. I have to agree with you that Trevor has been pulling his weight lately and he seems to be underestimated. But to me, the underestimated players are the best! Trevor deserves to get the recognition he’s getting and not just Kobe or Odom. This team is an overall Legendary team with the fact that they have had Legends like Kareem-Abdul Jabbar and Jerry west to look up to. These guys are true legends and so legendary that they are in a poker tournament nationally televised by Fox Sports in september. It will be interesting to see them both competing in the Bahamas and maybe they will take over in this sport too.

  23. 20 – If any GM offers TA, 5year/55Mil, that guy would be the laughingstock of the league. I don’t think it would happen. My concern is that the Lakers might want to offer less than MLE because of the luxury tax, say in the 4 million range, which would be an insult, given that Sasha got more than that. Clearly Trevor is MUCH more valuable than Sasha and will want bigger contract than Sasha’s.

    That measn starting at around 5.5-6 mil, minimum. If the Lakers are willing to do that, I think TA will stay. The X-factor of it is how much Lamar will be happy with. He can easily get 4 year, 45-50 million offer from a desperate GM, who might be pressure to acquire a versatile PF. If Detroit or Cleveland come into play, we might be screwed because overpaying Lamar might lead us to letting Ariza go or vice versa.

    It will be interesting, but I have faith in the ownership and the management. They’ll do the right thing. They have in the past.

  24. Zephid pretty much nailed what I skirted around. Unlike Sasha’s quick-release 40% last year, Trevor’s 3-pointers have been absolutely wide open. His release is slow and he (wisely) refrains from taking contested 3s because he knows his limitations. He will draw more attention next year. It’s imperative that we can get solid shooting from our 1 and 3, and not just when they’re the only person on one side of the floor.

    But the main thing that worries me is the other point. Like I said earlier, Turk was the perfect matchup for Ariza. There’s no way he could have played similar defense on Pierce. Artest and Melo, too, had some success when using their strength advantage. Ariza’s a great help defender and solid on weaker SFs, but he’s just too weak to contain guys in the Pierce-mold. We’ll have to make do with what we have, we don’t have a shot at bringing in another (stronger) defensive wing, but an unfavorable matchup could result in last year’s problems – forcing Kobe to take on the brunt of the defensive load.

  25. If it wasn’t for TA’s defense in some key situations, the lakers may have gone home a lot earlier. I seem to remember ariza poking away a lot of balls from players this season…

    Artest and Melo are big guys – there’s not a whole lotta people in the league who can guard them. Both and Artest Melo were en fuego against us in the playoffs – thankfully both of them cooled off as those series progressed…As for the threes…I don’t think it’s fair to compare Sasha and Farmar to TA. Farmar and Sasha were injured this year, both have ridiculously large egos and feel like their 3’s are integral parts of the laker offense, and they are guards. TA won’t get the same looks next year, that’s for sure, but he still may get a lot of open looks when he’s out there with Pau, Bynum and kobe on the floor…

  26. Trevor’s not a restricted FA, is he? So technically Dr. Buss doesn’t have to “match” an outlandish offer. Phil said it, and I think Ariza understands, that Trevor might have to sacrifice a bit if he wants to stay with the Lakers with a chance to repeat. Obviously he’s young and wants to score a big contract, but the optimistic side of me says he enjoys it here in LA and might give up a few million to stay.

    On a side note, if the Lakers chemistry was forced and contrived, would Lamar and Ariza really be begging to stay? There are other contenders that could use them. Bottom line is, this team has a great chemistry.

    Did anyone see the Lakers on Kimmel? I (and the crowd too, from what I could tell) felt a bit bad at all the ribbing Mbenga takes. It’s all in good fun, but poking that much fun at a guy’s accent when he’s clearly uncomfortable isn’t my idea of hilarious. But I guess that’s why I’m not a professional basketball player. And there’s no doubting the team has a great chemistry.

  27. PeanutButterSpread June 22, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    For those that missed it, the Lakers took a visit to Jimmy Kimmel Live:

    Part 1 –
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9OkMq8oShg

    Part 2 –
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6Oj4D37VPg

    Kobe, D-Fish, TA, Pau, Jordie, ShanWOW, Josh Powell, DJ and Adam Morrison were in attendance.

    Really funny and candid.

  28. Yet another great read here at FB&G. I just wanted to add this link from SilverScreen&Roll about LO, it’s a great read that I know everyone here will like.

  29. Sort of on topic since it relates to our overall expenditure on new contracts this offseason, NBA.com is reporting that Kobe will NOT opt out.

    http://www.nba.com/2009/news/06/19/kobe.lakers.ap/index.html

    Is this true? Or do they just have their info wrong? I haven’t seen reports of him saying that anywhere else, just news that Kobe wasn’t leaving (something he said at the parade). But to not opt out? That would certainly save Buss the money, but would also make Kobe a FA in two years, same as Pau but likely way before whenever Ariza’s and Odom’s new contracts expire (unless they inexplicably sign for only two years). Without completely refuting it just yet, I think the more likely scenario is Kobe opting out but maybe taking less money.

  30. 30. Lakerade, I read that story and thought they missed the point. Kobe may well not opt out, but they confused him saying he would not go anywhere with opting out. I think he will opt out this summer or (probably) next, but then will just resign with the Lakers.

  31. Since Dude brought up a baseball analogy, I’ll do the same. I’m a St. Louis Cardinals fan and after the team won the 2006 World Series there was a similar post-championship love fest that we’re now enjoying as Lakers fans.

    Free agents’ values were tainted by the emotion that comes with a title; they were part of a group that gave Cardinal fans wonderful memories, and the idea of parting with someone from that era was painful — so the common mindset was bring back everyone and go for it again…

    Flash forward to 2007 and so many of the Cardinals ’06 World Series heroes (particularly Eckstein & Edmonds) were “suddenly” old, and the team had to move ahead with young blood to improve. Fans who were calling “Keep everyone” in November were crying for new players a few months later. It’s natural, it happens, and we need to recognize that now as Lakers fans.

    Here’s my point: the Lakers front office can’t dwell on what just happened and use the 2009 playoffs as a basis for 2010 decisions.

    Lamar and Trevor have great value to the Lakers, but let’s hope no one goes crazy and overpays either in a way that hinders the team’s chances to be good for a long, long time (or at least until Kobe is no longer playing).

    Keep in mind that Kobe makes everyone around him better. Pau and Bynum are already a big chunk of the payroll, and L.A. will need to get some answers for PG next season. (God love Fish for Game 4, but he wasn’t a bright spot for much of the season. His role needs to be lessened to save his legs and prepare for 2010-11.)

    There’s only so much money to go around, so let’s hope the Lakers make their decisions on what Lamar and Odom can bring to the table in 2009-10 and beyond.

    I’d like to see them both back, but not if their deals hurt the team’s chances from filling its other needs next years and in years to come. Should they bolt, hopefully Mitch can go out and find our next playoff hero before the short-term title window ends whenever Kobe steps aside.

    There’s a balance there, and I hope that Mitch finds it. As I’ve said before, LO seems harder to replicate so he’d be Priority 1 in my view.

  32. I think the Lakers will sign both.

    I think Ariza is my favorite player (next to Pau) from this past season. He’s smart, athletic, improving his shooting, plays defense, and is hard working. He’s a poor man’s Tayshaun Prince, a Battier-lite with more athleticism. He may not be able to sustain the same level of play he did in the playoffs, but that’s ok. If you take into consideration that he was bounced around and never really got good minutes before he landed with the Lakers and within one year after a major injury, the improvement and his level of play is everything you can ask for in a non-star role player.

    The Lakers need good perimeter defenders. Prior to this season, everyone wanted to trade for a better SF and PG defender. With Trevor stepping up, all you hear now are cries for a PG who can defend, not a SF. With our great offense, I don’t think we need that much offense from Trevor. We need defense and he provides that, which sometimes lead to our fast breaks and great offensive plays. He may not be able to stop Melo, but how many other players can? You may be able to slow Melo down some of the time, but not stop him every time. Just as in the case with Kobe, who can stop or even slow him down all the time? If you had a defensive player that good then we probably can’t afford him. Besides I remember Trevor doing a pretty good job on Lebron in one of our 2 games against the Cavs last season. That’s pretty good.

    I think what I admire most about Trevor which in some ways is very similar to Lamar is that both players are team players who don’t have ego trips. Like Lamar, Trevor was perfectly happy being a bench player at the beginning of the season as was his preference in that he felt it improved his game and helped the team. When asked to step up into a starter position, he performed well. He practices hard, wants to improve his game, and shows that he can. Whether he has a big game or not, his interviews always show that he’s focused on one thing, that is to help his team win and not personal glory (similar to Battier & Tayshaun). There’s no ego trip. His mentality and commitment to the game is what everyone would want in a player. He fits well chemistry-wise. He knows the triangle. I don’t think he would make a fuss about being moved to the bench if that issue ever comes up. He’s also young and his ceiling is unknown considering he’s only really had one year playing good minutes. I don’t think we can trade or sign a free agent with all the attributes that Trevor has. I think anyone we get in his place will slow down our progress and might not add to our win now, repeat goals. There are always x-factors like chemistry, learning curve and fit that need to be factored into signing a new player besides finding someone who can shoot and play defense.

    I’m very excited to see what Trevor’s limits are and his growth in the years to come as a LAKER. I think and hope that Mitch will resign both Lamar and Trevor, even if it means packaging Farmar and/or Sasha with Morrison to make it happen.

  33. We’ll have to overspend to keep Ariza but it should be a priority. It can’t be overstated how important he was in the playoffs.

    In terms of players to compare him to, he reminds me of Michael Cooper, who also developed his 3 pt range after not having much of a shot coming out of college.

  34. 32. Thanks Kurt, that’s the way I interpreted the article too but just wanted to be sure. I did not, however, know that Kobe could also opt out again next year should he choose not to this year. I thought it was opt out or be here for two years (according to hoopshype salaries).

    28. Those clips from Kimmel are great! Got to see the team relatively loose and joking, and everybody got to talk except Powell (hair rebraided). The moments with DJ are hilarious, but the best line might be Kimmel saying “Adam is so baked right now” since he was so quiet. WAY funnier than Conan’s interviews with either Kobe or Phil, but then again, Kimmel’s already been on the Laker scene whereas Conan was just meeting both Kobe and Phil for the first time.

  35. The Dude Abides June 22, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    Zephid and Snoopy made some good points about Trevor, especially the defense he played against Melo, Ron Ron, and Turk. But maybe you guys are forgetting that as those three series went on, those three SFs had games that were progressively worse. Turk was taken completely out of his game in Game 6. I recall Ron Ron having a few games toward the end of the Houston series where he shot less than 33%. Melo was contained pretty well in the second half of the Denver series.

    Part of this is attributed to the coaching staff’s preparation, of course. But I think at least some of those worse performances must be attributed to Trevor gradually learning their tendencies, and forcing them into situations of Trevor’s choosing and not Melo’s, Ron Ron’s, or Turk’s.

    I truly believe that even Paul Pierce would fare progressively worse over a seven-game series if Trevor were the one guarding him. To me, Pierce was the #1 issue for the Lakers in last year’s Finals, and not our “toughness.” Simply put, he was the most important player in Boston’s offense, all the while being defended by our weakest defenders (Vlad and an injured Luke). So, we were always behind the 8-ball on defense against them. There’s no way Boston could have beaten us this season, as they would not have had that same matchup advantage.

  36. what are the thoughts on Shannon Brown? can we afford to keep him, and is he important to resign?

    I, for one, feel like he is golden opportunity to shore up a long-term need at PG. Every player in the NBA has skills that can fit well with the triangle. The question here is can those players perform under the demands of being Kobe’s teammate. SB showed he can by playing big on the big stage.

  37. Of the 5 teams entering free agency with cap space(ATL, DET, MEM, OKC, TOR, only 2 can offer TA a starting spot: ATL and TOR–if they allow Marion and Marvin Williams to walk away for nothing.

    Of the remaining 24 teams, 8 could offer the full mid-level and stay below the luxury tax.

    These 8 teams(GS, HOU, LAC, MIN, NJ, PHI, POR, SAC) already have a big chunk of money invested in a swingman. 2(MIN and NJ) have swingmen whose contracts expire next year.

    Of these 24, the only teams that aren’t trying to stay under the luxury tax, avoiding additional luxury tax payments, and/or clearing capspace for the FA bonanza of ’10 are CLE and DAL. Ariza will not start for CLE, but he could start for DAL.

    In summary, only ATL, TOR, DAL and SA(if the Spurs are willing to pay the luxury tax) could offer both a starting role and full mid-level range money. They’re the only threats to sign Trevor, I think.

    So, the Lakers are in great position to sign Trevor at a fair price. On top of that, those other teams might prefer using their mid-level on a big like Gortat or Lee.

    I believe Ariza’s work ethic, defense, youth, and chemistry with other Lakers is worth $6M per. But as things stand, the Lakers could re-sign him for around $4M or $5M. That’s a bargain a savvy businessman like Buss will not walk away from, I predict.

  38. bottom line, if we re-sign Ariza or not, the Lakers have an immediate need for a 3 who can shoot and defend.

    If we lose Ariza, our rotation at SF is Walton/Morrison or Walton then Kobe with Sasha and Farmar. Much as I liked Luke’s playoff performance, that’s not gonna win a championship next year.

    If we lose Ariza, we HAVE to get Ime Udoka to take our midlevel. I don’t see another player out there who we can affod that can give us those intangibles.

    Or, we can get LO back and redefine his role as a spot up shooter and lockdown 1:1 defender. yeah right.

  39. #15 (our weak PG situation),

    I think Fisher is done and shouldn’t play next year and I think Farmar is a good back up PG but isn’t good enough to be a starter. The guy with the most upside is Shannon Brown.

    Brown isn’t the wild card most people think. He was our most consistent PG these playoffs after being brand new to the offense and while only playing 12 min a game…. that says a lot. Its hard to give consistent production playing so little. He also isn’t the guy “who came out of nowhere” like most people think. He was the co MVP in the high school all american game with Lebron James. He was a first round pick by the Cavs only a few seasons ago picked right before Jordan Farmar.

    The reason he didn’t play much in his first couple seasons in the league was because he isn’t a traditional passing PG. He doesn’t have those skills. And most teams run an offense where a “Steve Nash” type of player is needed. Also, most NBA teams besides the Blazers and the Lakers already are set at he PG position. Its hard to crack an NBA rotation at PG because every team but the Lakers and Blazers in the league has at least one talented PG. Because there are more 6 foot tall people walking around the earth than 7 footers there are more talented PG’s available at all times. After Nick Van Exel left the Lakers the team hasn’t had an above average PG.

    That being said, the triangle offense doesn’t require a “true PG.” Shannon Brown can do the things he does best… explode to the rim, spot up and shoot, and play great defense. His athleticism, size, and large hands can potentially make him a perfect fit for this Lakers team. And when was the last time the Lakers had an above average defensive PG? Sedale Threat? Remember Ron Harper and Gary Payton were old by the time the Lakers had them.

    Just as Trevor Ariza has been a breakout star and surprise starter for the Lakers this season, Shannon Brown might have the same fate next year for the Lakers… we only can hope.

  40. Has anyone seen this? Seriously, Lebron, are you kidding me? I’d started liking you a lot this season, and now you’re coming off as a spoiled child screaming for attention in a not-so-subtle way.
    http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/131424/lebron_james_check_my_stats_main.jpg

    Just shameful. Looks like those solo puppet commercials got to the poor guy. Lose with grace, Lebron.

    Dude – That’s a good point. Artest, I’d argue, simply regressed to the mean. He wasn’t a fairly efficient offensive player to begin with. But Trevor did play Melo better and better as the series wore on, and he obviously did a great job on Turk.

    I guess in an ideal world I’d love to the have the option of a brawnier SF behind Ariza, but we have to be realistic. Ariza is the best possible option we have available to us. And, as odd as this sounds, Luke provides some muscle at the SF spot. He’s slow, but this year he did a fairly solid job on Pierce. We’re perfectionists, but as long as Ariza doesn’t regress, he fits the bill.

    Travis – There were times I almost wondered if Phil was restricting Shannon’s PT with thoughts to the future and a new contract. Of course Fisher and Farmar played well, but Phil had a much shorter hook with Shannon. He seemed to only play Brown if we needed him, and if we could win without him, Brown would be a DNP. From one sense, it’s smart – if Brown had come up big on the Finals stage, someone would overpay for him. But Brown has shown some promise without exploding, and so I feel we should be able to resign him for a reasonable amount.

    I doubt that’s what Phil was really thinking, only what it seemed like. We’re trying to shore up the PG position, and I feel re-signing Brown and a smart draft pick are our best options.

  41. j.d. Hastings June 22, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Regarding PJ and retirement:

    Everything I’ve seen has him saying he wants to be back but he has to check on his health. I can more than understand that, but does this have to be an all or nothing situation? Even if he sticks around for a few more years, its clear that he’s winding down a great career and that he’ll probably be replaced by Shaw or Rambis.

    We saw last year that he was able to miss a quick road trip with Plantar Fascitis (sp??) without any adverse effects. If he needs to travel less, why not let his heirs take over a little more often going forward. While young, this team is experienced and unlikely to revolt if he’s not there holding their hand. Plus it gives Rambis and Shaw valuable prep time for whwnever they do take over.

    I’m hoping first off that PJ’s health is fine, but hope that all parties see room for compromise if he needs help.

  42. I agree with Magic and Dude… Trevor showed a great ability through the playoffs to adjust to his assignments as the series’ went on. He would have a tough time with Pierce, but lots of people do – that’s what makes Pierce a good player. I also see Pierce being totally gassed by Ariza through a series, same as Turk was.

    Not stopping Melo? Who does? When he’s hot, he’s one of the best scorers there is. Ariza did well on him later in the series.

    The key to Ariza’s defense is not just sticking guys or making steals. He also does well on ball denial. He uses those long arms well.

    As for his shooting, it will probably cool off, and he will be more challenged. But the Triangle is designed to create open shots. If he is going to get them anywhere, it’s here, especially with Kobe drawing attention. Sasha’s problem is mental. Ariza seems much more together upstairs, and I think he will play through the slumps and continue to succeed.

    All that said, Lamar Odom is a once-in-a-generation player, so unique that with all his flaws, you simply don’t find another one.

    Let’s just really hope they sign both. PG is a problem position for us, but I’m OK with that. The Triangle needs the likes of Ariza and Odom more than a PG, in my opinion.

  43. Magic — I think Trevor’s performance on Lebron for parts of games isn’t really a good gauge vs. the strong sf’s in the league. Not to knock lebron, but I can’t help it: the guy wouldn’t post up jordan farmar. Lebron uses his size atypically, he’s not nearly the same type of impossible cover that Melo or Pierce (if they posted him up) is.

    That said I agree kind of with the Dude: Trevor can be enough of a pain for a Pierce type to wear them down possibly, he certainly wore down Artest a bit (though that may also have been because artest was taking it upon himself to do way too much). The key for me is that it frees Kobe to roam-guard a Rondo type who can’t shoot, so if he can just pester him effectively and not give him the bad foul calls Pierce relies upon, I’m happy.

    I still think Melo punishes anyone in the league his size or smaller, over the long run, if he posts them up every time down the court — anyone. Thankfully, George Karl and idiots like JR Smith will make sure this never happens, so preparing for it is only a fun hypothetical.

    So basically, I like Trevor on Pierce, especially if he gets stronger. I don’t like Trevor on Melo under any circumstances, but unless they suddenly commit to giving him 20 touches a game in the post it’s probably a non-starter.

  44. the best thing I read in the post was a warning to sasha that he’d better get his shot back, or … see ya, join Vlad or Kwame, Smush or Cookie…

    I read that sasha will play on some eastern euro team, and I hope he finds his shot cause it’s best if he regains his form and is worth $5M…if not, we’ll never find anyone who’ll take him on and we’re stuck with him.

  45. 33. Chris J had an insightful analogy of championship teams. Too many times fans and management get caught up in the euphoria of a championship winning team. They want to keep the same players that helped win it all that magical year, but what happens in the future. Next year there will be totally differerent teams and challenges in the way of a 2peat. LO created a mismatch on offense and played Lewis well on D, but the Magic were the exception to rule making the finals with a shoot first PF . The teams that will contend in the years to come will have defensive rebounding players at the PF postion, as did all the other teams that we thought were going to make the finals this year. This is the one reason why LO is more expendable than TA. The year we lost to the Celtics , it was our toughness on the inside that killed us. We need a tough defensve minded PF coming off the bench. This type player doesnt hurt the salary cap for long periods of time and cost millions of dollars less. As a Laker fan I dont want this to be just a one year thing I want it to be for years to come. With that being said I love LO’s game , but at his age and him being a non starter. It would not be wise to sign him for 4/years at 7 to 9 mil when we can go out and get a player in FA that has the toughness to contend with a real PF and not some run and gun Magic team.

  46. I agree that too many times people get caught up in not making changes after you win. Most every team has a flaw… even a winner. The Lakers are one of the few teams that only had one flaw. And that was at PG. So I think it is very important to bring back Odom and Ariza. You cannot go out and get a guy who can do the things Lamar Odom can do for a basketball team. However… with that being said, you can go out and replace a Trevor Ariza with another guy who can play D and spot up from three.

  47. 46, I too hope that Sasha gets back on track. He is a nice back up to Kobe when his shot’s falling. But really, his contract only runs for the next 2 seasons, so it’s not like we’re married to him. If he plays well and his stock rises, I could see teams show some interest if we are dying to get rid of him for practically nothing. At that point, though, it’d probably make more sense to keep him.

    I think if we see an improving Shannon Brown, then Mitch will try to swing a cap saving deal including Farmar with most likely Morrison. Farmar is a good talent, but he would be more effective in an open system elsewhere. I just don’t think he’s the long term guy here and rather than just losing him to free agency next year (I think we’d have a qualifying offer available), we might as well get some value. I definitely see Brown as having a longer future here than Jordan. By getting Chong Morrison off the cap, we would alleviate the extra spending Buss has to make now to keep Odom and Ariza.

  48. You have to remember that the LAKERS run the difficult triangle offense. It took TA, GASOL two years to get comfortable in the offense. Bringing in an offensive type player starting at SF is more of a risk than a defensive minded PF (BIRDMAN or MCDYESS) off the bench who gets their points from put backs and short jumpers . I realize that you are not going to find another player to match LO’s talent coming off the bench. It’s just that the LAKERS dont have to break the bank to keep him, while hurting the team with a high price veteran they can’t move in the near future.

  49. Also wanted to post this great new finals video: The Lakers 2009 Finals Run – At Long Last

    http://www.slamonline.com/online/media/slam-tv/2009/06/video-the-lakers-2009-finals-run/

    Really highlights the TEAM we’ve become

  50. Los Angeles Lakers

    2008-2009 Record (65-17, 1st in Western Conference)

    Returning Payroll – $51.8 mil

    Guaranteed Contracts: PF/C Pau Gasol ($16.5 mil), C Andrew Bynum ($12.5 mil), SF Adam Morrison ($5.3 mil), SG Sasha Vujacic ($5.0 mil), PG Derek Fisher ($5.0 mil), SF Luke Walton ($4.8 mil), PG Jordan Farmar ($1.9 mil)

    Restricted Free Agents: SG Shannon Brown ($797,581)

    Player Options or Early Termination Options: SG Kobe Bryant ($23.0 mil)

    Expiring Contracts: SF/PF Lamar Odom ($14.1 mil), SF Trevor Ariza ($3.1)

    Team Needs: Young, athletic point guard

    Draft Picks: 29th pick (1st round), 42nd pick (2nd round), 59th pick (2nd round)

    [Edited for trade speculation]

    This draft is loaded with good PG prospects. It would be a bummer to miss out on getting one.

  51. 39 chibi. Thanks for that practical analysis of the FA market. I don’t think Ariza is getting more than $6M on the market, so we can resign him. A similar analysis for Odom I think will reveal something similar… Very few teams will give him more than MLE, which the lakers would gladly match. (I thought POR could have cap if their don’t resign a couple of players…) Suppose ATL DET MEM OKC TOR are the ones who have cap. If you were them, would you want Odom? For how much?

    Don’t get me wrong — I love Ariza/Odom. I just think they are worth a lot more to us than to others. (Exception: I really think Odom could go to the next level in a run and gun system.)

  52. PeanutButterSpread June 22, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    Last year, I really wanted Ronny to stay, but he left for more money, to play for the Golden State Warriors (even though I guess that’s because the Lakers wouldn’t match the offer) and ended up being on a 29 win team.

    I’d hate to see Ariza suffer the same fate. Nothing irks me more than seeing promising young nice guys like Ronny and TA leave a great team for a mediocre team for money.

    I mean, they’re already earning $1 million plus a year. Why not take a nice $6 to 7 million per year and enjoy the success of multiple playoff runs?

    Because I can guarantee this:

    They won’t find success their experiencing if they play on mediocre teams. First, it’s the coverage, and Second, when they play with players like Kobe who draw so much attention, there’s less pressure on them to create their own offense. All they do is just catch and shoot, play defense, and work hard.

    I might be harsh saying this, but I think TA can’t be greedy here when it comes to money. Of course he’s entitled to the money he’ll be offered and rightfully earned, it’s just that, would rather suffer in mediocrity with a lot of money, or enjoy the fruits of success with a considerable amount of money?

    I mean, is earning 2 million more a year really worth wallowing in losing year after year after year? Then again, many players have done it, so I guess it’s not too unreasonable that TA might.

    Although, for a guy who has been shopped around the NBA, you would think he’d enjoy the stability and success of being on the Lakers.

  53. I edited Lakerfan at 53 but it applies to everyone — one of the rules around here is that I don’t allow any trade speculation, any “The Lakers should trade X and Y for Z” type stuff. When a trade rumor comes from a reputable source and saying discussion is going on then we can discuss it and any permutations. But I cut this stuff out because if I allow it all the time the site becomes overrun with 1,000 mini-Mitchs trying out all sorts of ideas. There may be post where this rule is excepted, but those are just that, the exceptions, not the rules.

    But let’s address Lakerfan’s bigger point — that the Lakers should move up and get a PG in this draft. I disagree. This draft is loaded with point guards who may or may not pan out in three years — this is a draft filled mostly with role players. Griffin is the only sure bet, and while I like Rubio I can come up with a reasonable scenario where he fails. And that is true of all of these PGs. And as the Lakers are in a championship window, when you look to upgrade a position you do it thinking can that person help now, not down the road. The three-headed Fisher/Farmar/Brown combo has proven it can win a title and we can have that back next year. To me, the Lakers don’t need more rookies in key positions.

  54. Good point, although I think Trevor has a way to go before he becomes our ideal SF in the triangle. He needs to become stronger; right now, I see him play defense more in the Sasha mold, plus better anticipation.

    I think we have to be somewhat realistic here and realize the team we had, except the injuries, was a team we could probably only field in the days when there were like 9 teams in the league.

    Still, I’d say we’re in good shape even if we lose both players, as hard as that may be to swallow. We’ll still have a base of Kobe, Bynum and Gasol, and if Farmar and Sasha can now ‘advance to the mean,’ we should be competitive and just one piece away from yet another championship.

  55. -54

    “Nothing irks me more than seeing promising young nice guys like Ronny and TA leave a great team for a mediocre team for money.”

    Easy for fans to say, but this is their career, and they aren’t going to get multimillion dollar deals thrown their way forever.

    No one should have been upset with Fish with the Warriors threw a ton of money his way, and the same applied for Ronny last summer.

    Perhaps we fnas can be a bit more critical of a guy who’s made a lot of money already and then eschews a winner for a bit more cash, but that doesn’t fit Trevor’s situation.

    He’s looking at his first big payday, and if taking money from the Hawks or Raptors means his family is set forever vs. accepting a lowball offer to play somewhere else with a better chance to win, I wouldn’t blame him if he opts to get paid. Hopefully the Lakers make him a fair offer and he stays, but if not, we can’t forget it’s a business and his career.

    (And had L.A. matched Ronny’s offer, it would have been a huge, huge mistake. Powell was an adequate replacement at much less money, and Ronny wouldn’t have seen enough floor time to justify such a rich deal from Buss so long as Pau, Odom and Bynum were/are around.)

  56. 56 – I wouldn’t expect much from Bynum now or ever. The dude has fragile knees – pure and simple. Anything we get from him is a bonus. I hope I’m dead wrong.

    I know! Let’s trade him for the Blazers center Oden (just kidding Kurt!)

  57. Although I agree with most people who say that it isn’t hard to find a player who can shoot and defend like Ariza, I don’t think that Ariza is as replaceble as most people think.

    It might be easy to find someone who can shoot and play defense, but can we find someone who can do those things who’s already familiar with the triangle offense, familiar with SSZ, is smart, is comfortable with Phil’s coaching methods, has good chemistry with the team, has great work ethics, plays hard, isn’t a head case, doesn’t have ego issues, doesn’t lose his confidence if and when Phil cuts his minutes (as Phil is known to do with new players he’s doesn’t already trust) or moves him from starter to bench, has playoff/finals clutch experience, and someone who is willing to accept his role no matter what? Because that is what we’ll need to repeat, someone who clicks with the team, understands and accepts what the team expects from him and build on the experience of last year. We don’t need a new project to work into the fold. Also, if we were to find someone who fits everything that Ariza brings to the table currently, I doubt that person is as affordable as Ariza will be comparatively.

  58. With respect to the draft, keep in mind that Phil isn’t known for giving rookies much PT.

    Red’s biggest knock against Phil was always that he didn’t mentor younger players. I never thought it was a fair dig, but it has been frustrating in the past watching potential rookies riding the pine while Phil is coaching.

    Virtually no rookie will be able to get off the bench this year for the Lakers.

  59. Reply to post 55

    Kurt,

    You do have some good points, but I respectfully disagree. I do not think it is ok to just sit back, and say we won the championship and that we don’t need to improve. That All we need to do is bring back the same players and we will get the same result.

    It is quite obvious that the Point guard position is one of the biggest weaknesses on the team.

    Derek Fisher –

    He made some big shots in the Finals but was very inconsistent and played very poorly through out the entire playoffs. I beleive Fisher can still be our starting PG next year since we wont be able to sign any free agents since our main objective in FA is to resign Lamar and Trevor.

    Shannon Brown- He was a very pleasant surprise last season after acquiring him from the Bobcats. He is a restricted Free agent and I do beleive the Lakers should bring him back to be the back up PG to split the minutes with Fisher.

    Jordan Farmar- He regressed significantly this season. This may have been somewhat due to his knee injury he suffered , but I don’t think all of it was. I never thought his potential was that great either. He is what he is. I don’t think he is going to be a starting PG in the NBA.

    So there is no need to have 3 PG on the roster unless the 3rd is someone who is going to be the PG of the future. I dont think he is the PG of teh future. Thus I conclude that Farmar is expendable.

    So in this draft which I am sure you have all heard has many quality PG prospects. key word being Prospects. I know that many of them will not be able to help right away. Especially on a championship team. But this is a great opportunity for the Lakers to grab one. I think Jeff Teague and Brandon Jennings are two great athletic PG prospects that The Lakers could be able to realistically attain.

    This would not affect the championship window because Jordan Farmar was a really a non Factor in the playoffs. This would also set up The Lakers with A potential PG of the future .Along with still having a young Shannon Brown.

    I just think it would be a mistake not to pursue this when you have a great opportunity to do so. This could also save them money as well.

  60. Also I can make a case that the Draft is really important even for championship teams.

    In the 2002 Nba Draft the Lakers had a chance to take Tayshaun Prince instead of Kareem Rush. I could argue this cost the Lakers a Championship in the 2004 Finals where Tayshaun Prince was a very integral part in beating the Lakers. (The lakers made an arranged deal with Toronto who picked at number 20. Prince went at number 23 to pistons.)

    Also in 2006 Draft the Lakers opted for Jordan Farmar over Rajon Rondo. I can make a case that this cost the Lakers the championship in 2008. Where Rondo was an integral part for in the Celtics beating the Lakers especially in the infamous Game 6. ( The suns were selling there draft picks as they always do and they had the 21st pick. The Lakers could have swapped picks and gave them cash to take Rondo instead chose to just settle for Farmar.)

    The draft is important. I also think it would be a mistake to dismiss it and just limit yourself to certain picks such as foreign players who you can stash and just trade away the pick for nothing. I honestly think too much is made of the financial implications by fans. These owners are billionaires. But that topic alone could be discussed in a entirely separate thread.

  61. The Dude Abides June 22, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    60. Farmar still counts against the cap. The team can’t just release him, and must take back equal value in a trade unless it’s with a team that’s below the cap. So, it sounds like you’re arriving at a salary dump to a team below the cap (much like Camby from Denver to the Clippers) in return for exchanging second round picks, and then drafting the best PG available. I would submit that the team shouldn’t do that, since Fish is one injury away from total ineffectiveness and Shannon isn’t the best ballhandler and only has a few months of experience in the triangle. I don’t believe a championship-level team can afford to take that chance. This is a young team overall, and I believe that our younger guys will have better years next season. I can see Bynum and Ariza continuing to improve, and Farmar and Sasha having bounce-back seasons.

    Anyway, the best PGs who might be available at #29 are Darren Collison, Toney Douglas, Patrick Mills, Nick Calathes, and Rodrigue Beaubois. I think we saw how much of a liability very small guards can be in an NBA team’s defensive scheme when we saw Cleveland’s smurfs running out at Orlando’s 3-pt shooters, or Jameer Nelson trying to defend the three-pt line against the Lakers. I used to think Collison or Mills would be perfect for the Lakers, but now I realize they have their “shortcomings.” OK, sorry about that one.

    Anyway, it then comes down to Douglas or Beaubois if both are available, but when you consider that drafting and keeping Douglas could mean losing Trevor or Lamar (or even Shannon), I think it comes down to Beaubois as our eventual replacement for Fish. Of course, I still believe we should try to re-sign Shannon in order to keep our three-headed PG monster intact for one more season.

    If Calathes by some miracle is still there at #29, then the decision is a lot tougher. The guy has a decent shot but has great court vision, and has signed with a Greek team next season. However, Beaubois has Calathes beat by a big margin when it comes to defense, and the triangle de-emphasizes to some extent the traditional PG skills that Calathes has.

  62. 60 – How would letting Farmar go, and drafting Teague or Jennings save money, when there’s no team that will take Farmar right now. Even if we offered Farmar, 1st round, and multiple 2nd round picks, very few teams will offer us higher 1st round pick. It’s just my opinion. Team are trying to trade down, but now at the expense of taking another contract or unproven PG in Farmar. Only thing we can do is to wait and see if Farmar can recover his game. He did have a significant knee injury and Brown’s (hopefully) presence may motivate him even further. If he fails, it’s his contract year, and we could let him walk. I just don’t think we need to move up to draft a PG when we might be able to get fairly decent on at 29th.

    I think we should be looking for someone to replace Kobe or Sasha at SG in 2-3 years.

  63. I agree, I think too often standing pat causes teams with obvious flaws to stagnate. Obviously, you never want to shake up a championship team. But I like minor tweaks to address weaknesses.

    I also agree, however, with Kurt – our PG problems will not be solved through the draft (at least, not for a couple years). Any player taken in the draft will be for the future, not now. If we want to upgrade our PG position now, we’ll have to do so through a trade. Also, it’s revisionist history to say we should have taken Prince or Rondo – you can make that argument with most teams in nearly every draft. It’s not like we purposely took Rush and Farmar to stash them in Europe and passed on Prince/Rondo despite knowing they were the better players. There’s hits and misses in every draft. While I do advocate drafting a PG to help us down the line, I’m just saying that it’s highly unlikely drafting smart will help us defend our title this coming year. If we want to shore up weaknesses for next year, we’ll have to look elsewhere.

  64. No one said dumping Farmar to get a second round pick that would just be stupid re read the post and try to improve your reading comprehension :”The Dude abides” please.

  65. LOL Kobe will be on The Lakers until he is 38 at least don’t need to worry about that PB.

  66. 60 – It sounds great, but Teague and Jennings are lottery picks. I guess we can’t get into trade speculation, but I don’t see us having expendable assets that could net us one of those picks.

    I do agree with the point that we shouldn’t draft European simply to save money, if there’s a definitive better American player on the board. But IMO at 29 the European prospects (including Calathes) are as good as any non-Euro ones. In that case, it just seems like the wisest move to stash a player in Europe, get them PT and develop them, and bring them over when they’re ready.

  67. Lakerfan, I think pretty much everybody here agrees on two points: Point Guard is a position we need to improve, and that unless there is a dramatic (and unexpected) improvement Jordan Farmar is not the guy. Brown, who knows? Maybe, I want to see him develop, I’d love to hope so, but the Lakers need to look at other options.

    Where I think we disagree is 1) If you really could get anything for Jordan Farmar; 2) If any kind of trade is worth it to get any of the guys in this draft. Maybe in the post coming in the next 48 hours, which will talk Lakers and other draft moves, we can talk about draft trade scenarios, but I think the value of the Lakers trade pieces are weak. Also, Rubio obviously is not going to happen. Jennings is supposed to be a shoot-first PG that is a questionable fit. Lawson may not have the outside shot. We could go on and on, but I think the Lakers are better going with a trade at the deadline (if there is a good option) or with a FA or trade next summer. With this summer really being about not taking on salary, I just think waiting is more prudent. I’d rather dance with the devil I know.

  68. The Fisher/Farmar combination is adequate for at least another season; since the Lakers are (I assume at this point) heavy favorites to repeat, that’s good enough for now.

  69. Clearly, we need a back up SG down the road. Sasha is not the answer in my opinion. We need an athletic 2, much like Kobe, who can create his own shot with clock winding down. I’m not saying that we need a Kobe replacement right now, but perhaps we need to start thinking about a backup SG, who will be an upgrade over Sasha in 2 (when Sasha’s contract is up) – 3 (when Kobe will want a quality guy who can let him rest from time to time) years.

    I’m sure Kobe has another 3-4 GOOD years in him, but he’ll also need to take more breathers, and Sasha just isn’t the answer in the long run. I’m just saying, we need to start thinking moving up in draft eventually to grab a young SG with a great potential in the next 2-3 years.

    But I do agree that our PG is more urgent need, but we have two unmoveable pieces in Fisher and Farmar with very limited trade values, so we’re basically stuck and need to ride them out.

  70. Lamar will take less money than he made this year –i think a good deal less. In his exit interview, LO said something along the lines of: “i have the car, the house, etc. Regarding what happens next year, I’ll do what’s in the best interest of my family.” That’s paraphrasing what he said. To me i get the feeling that he and his family have made a home in LA and he personally loves playing on the lakers. Thus he will forsake a few million in order to stay here. That’s my guess.

    TA on the other hand, in my opinion, will go where the money is. I do not fault him for doing so, but that’s just my guess. This guy is 24 and needs to make the money he and his family will live on for the rest of his/their lives. He doesn’t have the car/house like Odom (of course he has a car, but what LO meant was that he’s made the money).

    That said, it’s my guess that we definitely get LO back. TA is the question mark. However, even if he is gone, there are others that we can get which will fill his role. TA is being overestimated now. There are plenty of others which could fill in his hole.

  71. Great post by Kevin at TH. A lot of the things being said about Earl Clark remind me of what’s been said about Odom for years:

    http://myespn.go.com/blogs/truehoop/0-41-119/What-We-Think-We-Know-About-Earl-Clark.html

    The versatility on both ends, the same praise about talent, the same questions about heart and focus and consistency. Eerie comparison.

  72. I think Shannon can be a solid back up for both PG and SG, he was certainly a better shot than Sasha in the playoffs…(but then, who wasn’t ?)
    I wish we could find a way to keep Shannon and get rid of Sasha.

  73. Coupla things..

    #50… Pau pretty much had the triangle down from the start.. he has the ideal skill set for this offense as he can play from multiple post positions and pass extremely well.

    The flip side to “not standing pat” is “change for change’s sake”.

    Before you worry too much about addressing any problem area, shouldn’t you be a little objective?

    Farmar regressed. Yes. Fish is declining. Yes. Brown has been with the Lakers limited time. Yes.

    But couldn’t you argue that Brown and Farmar are young, growing players? That this year’s experience taught them the importance of “team first”?

    I fully expect a bounce-back year from Jordan, and expect Brown to grow reasonably.. run the basic sets of the offense, hit open three-pointers, throw down the occasional highlight jam and play tough D.

    Lakers also have Kobe and Lamar to initiate the offense (hopefully on Lamar, anyway).. so I’m not overly concerned about getting another pg on the roster next year.

    But I sure as heck would draft a couple of overseas pg prospects with those 2nd rounders and let them develop.

  74. I agree with exhelodrvr ; barring some unforeseen player falling into L.A.’s lap, the Lakers can get by with Fisher and Farmar next season.

    Everyone’s jumped off of Farmar’s bandwagon, but I’m in the group who thinks he can be a very good NBA soon. It takes time for PGs to develop in most cases, and it’s easy to overlook that he came back from a significant injury last season. He was playing well before he hurt his leg.

    As for those who says Phil never plays rookies, he sure played Luke Walton a lot in 2004. But that was the exception, not the rule. And I’d take Farmar over most rookie PGs next year.

  75. If we do actually select a player that we plan to keep at #29, I’m still holding out hope that Eric Maynor falls to us. I’ve been so impressed with him over his career and with the glut of guards in this draft, I hope that he slips down to us. I understand that finances dictate that any player we select at #29 won’t be on our roster next season, but if there is one guy I’d want to defy that it would be Maynor (if he’s still around – which is unlikely, I know).

  76. 76 Chris J

    In all fairness Farmar was not playing that well PREinjury either:

    40.54% FG (75/174 Makes/Attempts)
    35% 3P% (21/60 Makes/Attempts)
    ~2 Assists and ~1 TO per game

  77. we aren’t gonna pay our #29 pick. Nobody there is ready to contribute. Except for a 2nd round pick by the name of Danny Green.

  78. I love Maynor too but I see him going just out of the lottery, 15-20. We’ve been lucky before, let’s hold out hope for him.

  79. I’m wondering if I understand the Laker’s payroll situation.

    If LO signs for about $8M,
    TA signs for about $6M, and
    SB signs for about $2M,
    then the Laker’s total payroll will be about $115M (salary plus tax) for 2009-2010.

    After this next season, Fish and Morrison’s salary of $5M each ends.
    So, the Laker’s total payroll would be about $95M (salary plus tax) for 2010-2011.
    That’s $115M – $20M ($5M + $5M + $10M tax) equals $95M.

    The feeling by us fans is that Dr. Buss is willing to spend in the $90M-$100M range to keep a championship team together, but doesn’t want to go over that, at least for the long term.

    So it seems the question is: will Dr. Buss be willing to eat $20M for one year in order to keep the team together?
    If the answer is yes, there seems to be a good chance to sign all 3 FAs.
    If the answer is no, then it seems the Lakers will only be able to keep SB and one of the LO and TA pair.

    Do I have the numbers correct, or have I missed something?

  80. @Plan Nine From Outer Space

    You’re wrong. You’ve forgotten that in 2010/11 Bynum’s, Bryant’s and Gasol’s contracts will pay them substantially more than in 2009/10.

    If we give $16M for Odom/Ariza/Brown then in 2010/11 we will have to pay $67M for Bryant/Gasol/Bynum/Vujacic/Walton plus about $18M for Odom/Ariza/Brown. Assuming LT will start close to $70M it’s $100M already. And we are still 5-6 players (including starting PG, I see Brown as a backup, not as a starter) short.

    The structure of contracts would be all right if not for the recession. The luxury tax level stopped to rise – and that’s a killer.

  81. Off topic, but:

    I’m working in Memphis this week. Got in last night and went walking down to Beale St. I was wearing my Laker shirt and an old guy on the street yelled at me, “We never should have given y’all Pau Gasol!”

  82. 81-The numbers are definitely ballpark. However, The Lakers might be able to reduce their obligation this year in several ways:

    1. They could sign Ariza and Lamar as suggested for 3 years, but make the first year $1 1/2 million lower for the first year of the three.

    2. They might do a mid season trade with Morrison to a team below the cap limit as a salary dump-possibly even Morrison/Farmar.

    3. Kobe might agree to renegotiate his salary and give back $3 million for this year.

    Taken together, that could get them below “next years” numbers in your projections–this year.

    In other words, $115-$3 million (startup for LO and TA reduced)-$7million (Morrison/Farmar Salary dump)-$3 million (Kobe “give back”)-$13 million tax= $89 million.

    That would be a best case–all in pseudo dollars!

    Under that reasoning, they might have traded VladRad last year for the salary dump possibility (to keep Lamar + Ariza) this year.

  83. Regarding the risk of Ariza getting big money and turning out like a Sasha or a Luke Walton, there’s one difference – defense. Even if his 3-pointer goes south, and his offensive decision making remains suspect, the defensive talents he’s shown are already developed and solid. Luke and Sasha will never be lock-down defenders, but Trevor already is. Barring some sort of serious injury, he’s not going to lose that aspect of his game. So he’s a safe bet to pay the bucks to and expect he will contribute for years to come.

  84. Oy vey – there is a 90% chance that a point guard of the future DOES NOT exist in this draft. This is one of the worst drafts, in terms of talent, in ages.

    Face it, the best Point Guard prospect, Ricky Rubio, would only excel in an uptempo, D’Antoni type system. All of the other prospects are huge question marks.

    The Lakers shouldn’t really be looking at the draft to find any kind of real contribution next year – and don’t get me wrong, I like guys like Eric Maynor, too…BUT, he’s certainly not going to contribute next year.

    If the Lakers want to get a PG replacement, they need to get savvy vets on their roster like Anthony Parker or Charlie Bell. Not a rookie who may or may not work out.

    Another thing to consider – they have to be wary of players on the current roster who have the potential to fall prey to Pat Riley’s infamous “Disease of More.”

    Jordan Farmar is already a selfish player (even if he said the “right things” in his exit interview). He will be in a contract year next year – that is not a player that’s going to help your team…

    Sasha Vujacic is another selfish player – who didn’t even pretend to “get it” in his exit interview. Also a player who will not help your team.

    Sasha is going to be impossible to move, but the Lakers could definitely move Farmar for a 2nd round pick to shed some contract – an addition by subtraction move.

  85. Burgandy,

    +1. This draft is weak. The draft talk is boring the he ll out of me.

    I’ve thought for the past year and a half that Jordan Farmar isn’t what PJ wants and he might get traded. Especially since they most likely will not give him the raise he might get. I read in one Mock Draft about picking up Ty Lawson which made some sense to me *only* if the Lakers decide to trade Jordan.

    If Sasha didn’t suck so bad this year, I would be certain Farmar was moved this year. Farmar absolutely has to have a strong year next season.

  86. Until Jordy gets starting playing time,we will not see what he is capable of.I think he’s smart and talented and,given the chance,will be our next PG.Good thing the Fans here aren’t in charge of Lakers personnel.I think the guy is a winner.

  87. Spurs and Bowen separate? Looks like the Spurs picked up that wing scorer in Richard Jefferson. Bowen, Oberto, and Thomas must be expiring contracts, right? I can’t imagine any other reason the Bucks would give Jefferson away like that.

  88. TRADE (confirmed through ESPN and the Spurs):

    Richard Jefferson is going to the Spurs with Bowen, Oberto and Kurt Thomas going to the Bucks.

  89. Snoopy, you are correct, Bowen/Oberto/Thomas are all expiring deals worth $11.3 mil combined. Not a bad move by the Bucks if they are going to rebuild.

  90. Am I alone in gasping when I saw the header on espn.com and thinking the Spurs got Al Jefferson instead of Richard Jefferson?

  91. So San Antonio becomes the latest contender to take advantage of a team going nowhere looking to dump salary.

    Add someone like Gortat through free agency and they’ll really be back in business.

  92. What happens at PG should really depend on what is going to happen from a coaching standpoint.

    If the Lakers will be running the triangle for several more years than I think the best option is to draft Nick Calathes if he is available, let him play in Europe for a year, then bring him in. Next year can be Fisher and Farmar. Then let Farmar go and Fisher retire.

    If a more traditional system is going to be run soon, then keep Farmar, start him next year no matter with Fisher backing him up, and move forward with Jordan as our PG of the future. Farmar can be excellent in a more traditional system where he gets to run pick and rolls and get out on the break (just look at how great he ran the P & R) when he got opportunities against Houston the round 2. He’s just not an ideal triangle player.

    We also need to remember that Farmar was hurt last year and was nowhere near the same after coming back. For proof just look at the back screen alley-oop that was run for him at the beginning of quarters or after time-outs. First half of the year he scored almost every time usually with nice dunks. After the injury I didn’t see him complete that play once. He didn’t even get close to the rim on any of them. That to me looks like a guy that wasn’t fully healed. He should be better next season.

  93. Well, it looks like resigning Ariza will be a bigger priority now with the Spurs getting Jefferson.

  94. My new bet — the Bucks buy out Bowen and he resigns with the Spurs.

  95. Spurs are going to be tough–their bench is going to be their big weakness–it sure would be nice too see a resurgence of the Bench Mob (i.e. Farmar and Sasha). To that end I’d love to see us draft a pure bench, hustle guy, preferrably with a nice spot-up 3 (BYU’s Lee Cummard comes to mind).

    Also, ESPN’s reporting that Rondo’s being shopped–interesting, although its more likely that the earth reverses the spin of its axis than the Celts dealing with LA.

  96. By the way, aren’t the Spurs like a bad zombie movie–just when you think they’re dead they go and do something like this!

  97. Does anybody see the sense in the Celts dealing Rondo? I can see Ray Allen, but Rondo is their only core guy who has a bright future past 2011. And their title shot next year really hinges more on KG’s knee than on their perimeter personell. Maybe they know they can’t afford him when he gets out of his current deal.

    @ Sparky
    don’t be so sure. They gave us Chris Mihm and Chucky Atkins for Glove and Rick Fox…..haha. Man I’m glad we’re not having one of those offseasons.

  98. I didn’t think trading for Jefferson was a good move at first, but I hadn’t realized he’d really improved his 3pt shooting over the years. Up to 40% last year.

  99. Someone yesterday was saying we should look at drafting a potential backup SG. I’ve been reading about this Christmas guy, and I’m a little bit interested. Clearly years away, but look at how Kobe’s training program turned Trevor’s shooting around. Wouldn’t a SG with some tools/potential be best served on the Lakers, where he can learn from the best?

    I’ve never seen this guy play so won’t pretend to know anything about him beyond what the scouting reports say:
    http://www.nbadraft.net/players/dionte-christmas
    http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/Dionte-Christmas-1234/

  100. With Jefferson coming to SA that crosses one potential team off of my list to get Ariza due to their need for an athletic 3. But I still think they have their eye on Odom. Simple addition by subtraction. Moving Duncan to the 5 and having a playing like Odom along with TP, Ginobili and Jefferson is kinda scary.

    BJ Armstrong, John Paxson, Steve Kerr, Ron Harper, Ron Harper (LA), D. Fish(and I may be missing one or two). I don’t see the need to worry about getting a PG in the triangle as long as we stay away from the Smush Parkers, Anthony Carters and Chucky Atkins of the world. There are more potential PGs then Odoms (and/or Arizas). If Shannon Brown stays that would be great, but his skill set isn’t something that is rare in the league, especially with the influx of combo guards that entered the league in the past 6 years.

    The Spurs bench became their biggest weakness last season, and with Thomas and Bowen leaving it only gets worse. But Bowen is likely to resign with the Spurs after being bought out.

    Rondo, Ray for Rip, Stuckey and Tayshaun? If I were Detroit, I’d pass too.

  101. Richard Jefferson’s career just got resucitated. Now Manu has to return healthy and they have to sign Splitter.

  102. also, I’m not sold on the Spurs as contenders yet. Manu hasn’t been healthy for 2 seasons, Timmy is like 70% of his MVP form at best, and Parker has peaked. Defensively, RJ is a downgrade from Bowen, who no longer could guard guys like Kobe, B-Roy, Melo, or Dirk anyway. And now they’re very small upfront with the exception of TD. You saw what a deep frontcourt can do to a team with only 1 true frontcourt player (Orlando)

  103. The Dude Abides June 23, 2009 at 11:14 am

    99. Travis, you’re correct, but they weren’t the Celtics when they made that trade. They were the celtics. There’s no way we trade with them now that they’re the Celtics again.

  104. This Jennings vs Rubio debate, though it may appear 1-sided right now, is one of those debates that’s fun to come back to in 3-4 years with hindsight.

    http://myespn.go.com/blogs/truehoop/0-41-120/Brandon-Jennings–Roma-Teammate-on-Jennings-vs–Rubio.html

  105. 1) Jefferson makes the Spurs better…but they still haven’t found a decent, defensive center to pair with Tim Duncan (Gortat?).

    2) Ainge looking to trade Rondo shows that we were right all along: he really doesn’t know what he’s doing – he was just lucky enough that his bestey friend Kevin McHale was nice enough to gift KG to him.

  106. 104 – Just wait for the development of Matt Bonner. He’s been biding his time, but you’re going to see a nasty side of Bonner next year that none of us have ever seen before.

    Ainge was generally known as a moron for years before he pulled off 2 trades and become Executive of the Year. It’s a fickle business. Colangelo and Paxson were hailed as geniuses, now one’s canned and one’s possibly on the way. Hard to judge GMs.

  107. I like the trade for the Spurs, but they desperately need some help in the front court for Duncan. Not sure what the Bucks got out of it. Just a salary dump?

    Trading Rondo would be stupid. Rondo was awesome in the playoffs. I think he is one of the best PGs in the league and is still young enough that he can develop his jump shot.

  108. Yeah, I think resigning Ariza just got more important now that there is another wing scorer on a Western contender to deal with. I like that matchup for us if it ever comes to that.

    I have no idea why Rondo is being shopped around, other than maybe there are rumors of him not being the best locker-room guy. But still, quick, defensively dominant point guards who can almost average a triple double in the playoffs don’t come around very often. If he develops his offensive repertoire beyond floaters in the lane, the sky’s the limit

  109. I have an idea: Sasha for Rondo. Heck, we’ll even throw in Luke.

  110. Coffee is For Closers June 23, 2009 at 11:36 am

    richard jefferson for some spare change found under the spurs sofa cushions. the nba’s wallmart wars have begun.

  111. Now how did the anti-trade committee Greg Popovich is heading allow this trade to go through?

  112. Re: Spurs. They need to address the size issue, but this move makes it clear that they are building to make one more run with this core. I expect, whether it is Splitter or via free agency, they will get bigger this summer, too. But ultimately, the real question is health with them. If the Big 3 are healthy they are a threat.

    Re: Rondo. Beware of where these rumors come from. If the Celtics were really trying to shop Rondo, do you think they or trade partners would be leaking anything? No, it would drive up the price and maybe scuttle the deal. The question is, who has motive in making Rondo rumors?

    With all the rumors/insider stuff right and through the summer: Knowledge is power. So if an insider is giving a media guy (or a blogger) inside info then said insider has a motive. Maybe it is false info to inflate/deflate the value of a player in the market. Maybe it is an agent trying to force a trade or contract. But nobody gives info without a motive. If you look at the rumors through that prism, some things clear up.

  113. The question is, who has motive in making Rondo rumors?

    This feels like a murder mystery. There is is a Butler in Washington…

  114. Snoopy. Colonel Mustard did in the observatory with he candle stick.

  115. By the way, a quote from Mitch Kupchak out of the Lakers podcast:

    “It’s a little dicey because we have three free agents (Lamar Odom, Trevor Ariza and Shannon Brown), and I don’t anticipate carrying more than 13 players next year. So if we’re lucky enough to resign (those players), we’d have 13 assuming we exercise options for D.J. Mbenga and Josh Powell. Right now we’re assuming (Mbenga and Powell) are on our team next year. It would be something unusual where we wouldn’t exercise their options, we think they’re both valued players. If that’s the case, we’re at 13, and I don’t anticipate we’d go above 13.

  116. No. It was Dwight Howard with his elbow in Orlando.

  117. Splitter still has one more year on his contract in Spain and then he won’t be restricted by the NBA’s rookie scale. Hollinger has him rated as arguably the best center prospect in Europe right now. As such, look for him coming over in 2010.

    As for Jefferson, I always thought he was an underrated defender and scorer, and it definitely will be easier for him to buy into defense in an environment that has had so much success encouraging it. My only quibble for the Spurs in this trade is that they basically chucked all their frontcourt depth away to make this trade. Signing Gortat with the MLE is basically a requirement now. They might look into bringing back Nesterovic, who contributed to their playoff runs in the past as well.

    As far as Milwaukee goes, I think this trade was necessary for them to resign Sessions and Villanueva. If they can bring them back and Bogut and Redd come back healthy, they can probably shoot for a playoff spot next season. Also will be interesting to see how Joe Alexander responds to the increased minutes. By far the worst lottery pick in an otherwise fantastic draft, but how he pans out will be a story to watch.

  118. I have absolutely no idea how this thing plays out but it will be interesting to see. Ariza just made himself A LOT of money and he’s gonna get it (maybe the Lakers, maybe someone else). As for Odom, he best be expecting a pretty steep decrease in salary.

    http://balmer.typepad.com/keithsmooth/
    A Funny Writer, A Funny Blog

  119. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bowen / Oberto getting bought out and resigning with the Spurs. In which case Manny’s right – it really is RJeff being traded for pocket change.

    Kurt – are you trying to say that the Allen / Rondo trade for Prince / Stuckey / Rip wasn’t a serious offer on the Celtics’ part?

  120. If these deals and rumored deals swirling around nudge Buss into opening the purse string, it’ll be good for us, right? I hope so.

  121. I remember Jerry West’s answer to a question when he was asked about the contract that he gave Vlade Divac. He stated, I do not think that he is worth ???m, but I did not want another contender with us to get him. I think it was for his second contract with the Lakers, but I forget the details, I just remember him saying he did not want one of our rivals to get him and he was willing to overspend for that reason. Sounds like we are talking about LO and Ariza, it would be bad for any other Western Conference team to get them.

  122. To Kurt’s comment, any motive behind the Rondo rumors is bad for the Celtics (i.e., not coming from the Celtics) unless they’re truly trying to get rid of Rondo.

    If the rumors are from a source in Boston, the C’s have a willing trade partner (other than the Pistons) who’s close but holding out–here the C’s are telegraphing that more is needed to close the deal.

    Else, these rumors are poison for the C’s. You don’t let a young, volatile point guard catch wind of trade talk the June after he finally gets his head right–the C’s have one, maybe two more shots at a title run and don’t need Rondo to playing basketcase again. Intriguing stuff.

  123. sT, it would be horriffic if LO or Ariza leave for another WC team–my stomach turns at the thought of Ariza in Portland.

  124. Fantastic article. One of the best I’ve read here.

    I’ve also worried a bit about the Sasha correlation. As happy as I have been watching utter consistent effort and fearless drives to the hoop, I also had a nagging voice saying “contract year”.

    As thrilled as I have been watching Ariza’s shot develop, I had a tiny little voice in the back of my mind whispering the dreaded words “Sasha Vujacic and Luke Walton”.

    Maybe I’m just a Laker homer, but to me Ariza’s mindset has never struck as in any way, shape, or form similar to those two. He’s struck me as mentally tough. Beyond that, he’s always come across to me as having a bit of a chip on his shoulder.

    I don’t mean “Smush Parker” type chip on shoulder, more “Rick Fox” type chip. As in, I sometimes while I’m watching him during a game can almost see a cartoon style thought balloon coming from his skull saying “Don’t you ******* realize how good I am?! Ima gonna show you something. Watch THIS!”

    I think at the end of the day, Lamar has more talent than Ariza. He has a more varied skill set and a higher ceiling. But I think Ariza has a tougher mindset and a greater chance of maximizing his gifts.

    Please Mr. Buss, open the checkbook and resign this man. Laker fans will reward you with attendance, merchandising, etc.

  125. Sparky – Yeah. I think the partner is the Lakers (see my comment above). Maybe Sasha and Luke are not enough. I think we may need to add Sun Yue. Perhaps Rick Fox will come out of retirement for this trade (of course, for purposes of cap space too).

    ….I’m kidding of course. I think you nailed it with your analysis. I’m just trying to be funny.

  126. PeanutButterSpread June 23, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Must watch “raw” interview of Kobe being interviewed by Peter Mehlman:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DqBHYBCoM84

    Regarding the Jefferson/Spurs trade, I don’t know how that’ll trade will make them that much better than the Lakers.

    It’d keep them competitive for sure, assuming Manu and Timmy are back to full strength. But their frontline is really lacking, considering if they match up to the Lakers, they’ll still have to deal with Pau and Drew (a nd hopefully LO).

    So unless they get another big man, they’re probably going to be fighting with the Nuggets for that #2 spot.

    Can’t believe it, but trades are starting to happen so soon after the Finals.

  127. maybe Rondo’s tendancy to throw an occasional haymaker during contest of a layup or throw people into scoreboards has something to do with it.

    I don’t get how Lebron took all that heat for not speaking to the press after the ECF loss, but Rondo gets home relatively unscathed after playing like a miniature Ron Artest against Chicago becauese he had a breakout performance.

  128. I don’t think RJeff makes Spurs a contender. He’s a volume scorer. Yes, his 3p% went up lately, but still he makes only 1.4 three per game. What’s more – his FTA went down (more loitering on perimeter, less going inside) from 8.3 in 07/08 to 6.3 in 08/09/. So his TS% is down to .554, even with higher 3p%.

    And I wonder how effective he’s going to be as a 4th option.

    As for Bucks – it’s not only an escape from LT territory, but they also have cleared money to extend Villanueva. Good move for Bucks.

  129. Don’t look now, but fiscally responsible Spurs have committed $68.9 for eight roster spots…

    Are they going to have to split their MLE to sign a few vets above the league minimum? Does anyone know if they used their bi-annual exception last year?

  130. Best case for spurs if they re-sign Bowen and Oberto

    Parker/Hill
    Finley/Ginobli/Mason
    Jefferson/Bowen
    Bonner
    Duncan/Oberto

    I’m somehow unafraid of that. Unless Duncan and Ginobli rewind the clock by about 2+ years.

  131. and Spurs are over the cap now…Gortat is out of the question.

  132. Seeing as how Bowen and Oberto’s partially-guaranteed contracts basically made this trade happen, allowing cap figures to match while letting the Bucks clear out even more salary, doesn’t this look like something the Lakers should be doing?

    Case in point…

    Say you have a player that is really only any good in your system — Luke Walton being the perfect example. Say we had Luke to a 5 mill/yr contract like he’s got right now, except much shorter-term and only 2 mill of it was guaranteed. Now he’s a no-brainer throw-in to make the cap figures work for a team trying to cut salary. Luke gets traded, gets to keep 2 mill of the previous contract, plus we sign him again to a contract like he had before. He’s making more money than he was previously. we’re paying him the same we were previously, plus we can get talent in return, and the team we traded him to saves money relative to what they were paying the guy they traded away.

    I wonder if we can get Lamar to agree to a 4 year deal with the last two years only partially guaranteed.

  133. Also, Jerry Stackhouse’s partially guaranteed contract is looking like a major boon for the Mavs…

  134. After considering this trade some more I am less sure that I like it for SA. They got a good player for basically nothing but now they are over the cap and still extremely small and slim in the front court. Bonner is a good shooter but does little else (a better cook), and they have nothing outside of those two. Gortat would be nice along side Duncan but with this trade they are going to be about 4.5M over the luxury cap so they will be unlikely to sign any long term high priced FAs (such as Gortat). It does give them some insurance though if Ginobili is injured, but Jefferson is not nearly as good as a healthy Ginobili.

  135. I hope LO is in another uniform next year if his salary is 7 to 9 mil. He has reached his basketball peak and is not going anywhere but south. We all know that is work ethic has been in question since he came into the league. He got the ring so you think he’s gonna change now. All great players have a superior work ethic, thats why their able to continue performing at such a high level in their 30’s. He’s eating candy, smoking who knows what, partying in the hills. I got some swamp land I want to sell you. IF INTERESTED CALL

  136. Trevor is definitely a keeper! Even prior to the Lakers obtaining him, Trevor has played in the Drew Summer League to work on his game. He probably won’t play this year nor should he considering the fact that he is not under contract.

    Another year with Kobe Bryant as his mentor and this kids game could surpass what Kobe did for Caron Butler’s career!

  137. The Dude Abides June 23, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    I think the Jefferson trade is excellent for both teams. RJ shot 45% on corner threes last season, so he fits in very well in SA’s system. He’s also going to be infinitely more successful than Bowen was when three-point defenders run out at him and he pump fakes and drives to the rim. This makes the Spurs and Denver neck and neck next season, with Houston and Portland in the next tier.

    As for the Bucks, if this move lets them re-sign Sessions and Villanueva, then they’re a playoff contender next season if Bogut and Redd both come back healthy.

    Anyway, I’m really excited about the Spurs trade. Rivalries are great, and this renews the LA-SA rivalry for at least one more season :D

  138. Yeah, they just bought themselves $15M spot shooter. Yippee-ki-yay.

    And, Travis, they still could sign Gortat for MLE. They are however $5M (or something) above LT – and will be more, even if they sign only minimum players to fill the roster. So I doubt they could spend another $10M for Gortat. They will probably sign another Thomas type – veteran PF/C slugger playing for minimum.

  139. http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=4282054

    Rambis future head coach in training?

  140. PeanutButterSpread June 23, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    I’m confused on why the Celtics would have even considered shopping Rondo and Allen.

    I mean, it’s only been a year since they won a championship. The team as it is currently constructed with the Pierce-Allen-KG core should be kept mostly intact. Even if it’s an older team, they’ve definitely will be in the east contending for at least 2 to 3 more years, so it’s strange that they would consider breaking that core.

    Are the reports of Rondo being difficult really true? And why would they shop Rondo, I thought he was their “future” point guard? Unless, they don’t have enough money to pay him?

    It just doesn’t make sense to me. They should be adding players to strengthen their bench… not shopping Allen or Rondo.

  141. PeanutButterSpread June 23, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    To be very honest,

    I don’t think Kurt Rambis will be a very good coach for the Lakers.

    Didn’t we already try the Rambis experiment after Del Harris?

    I know that was like 10 years ago, but he didn’t do a great job then and I doubt he’ll do a great job with the Lakers in the future.

    That Portland game Phil sat out, was a game I thought if Phil had been coaching, we would have had a better chance at winning.

    I could be wrong, but I just don’t think Rambis is a good fit for this team as constructed. The players seem to follow Phil better.

  142. No thanks to Kurt as head coach.

  143. Rambis of course.

    I think Kurt Helin would make a fine head coach. Haha.

  144. I really don’t get why the hate for Kurt Rambis as head coach. When he took over for Del Harris in 1999, he had a 24-13 record, the 4th seed in the West, and lost to the Spurs in the semi-final round (who were the eventual champion). Also, it was thought to believe that Kurt would be retained as the Lakers head coach until a certain Phil Jackson came aboard. For half a season’s work, Kurt did a pretty good job.

    Now for the next 10 years, he’s been one of Phil’s most trusted assistants (maybe even the most trusted), been the “defensive coordinator” for this years champion team, has a great knowledge of the triangle offense, and been bascially a Laker for life in every aspect (player, assistant GM to Jerry Buss/Mitch Kupchak, and coach). That is a pretty strong resume and especially so with how this team is contructed for the triangle offense and SSZ defense.

  145. In addition, according to wikipedia, he played in Greece in 1981 under the name Kyriakos Rambidis. What’s not to love?

  146. another trade is about to go down between the wolves and wizards. wizards get foye and mike miller, wolves get 5th pick, songaila, and etan thomas

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news;_ylt=AgDGpefNdjI13ypRQUoUt9I5nYcB?slug=aw-wasmintrade062309&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

  147. The Jefferson trade is good for the Spurs but that doesn’t mean they’ll be the team to beat, simply a better team than last year when they lost in the first round. They will have a much improved starting five, but their bench will still be paper thin (just like their front court outside of Duncan). I applaud them for making a move to get a player under 35, but the end result will be the same as the last two years – looking up to the Lakers when the post-season is over.

    As for Rambis possibly coaching some road trips, I think that if this is done, this should be done minimally. I’m not saying he’s not respected, but Phil is the Zen (or Ten) Master for a reason. We had better truly appreciate this next year, because if Phil comes back, this may likely be it.

  148. PeanutButterSpread June 23, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    Woah. More trade news:

    the Detroit Pistons have sent forward Amir Johnson(notes) to the Milwaukee Bucks for newly acquired Fabricio Oberto

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news;_ylt=AsAcENn1LSQH3b3ZPeyw4fS8vLYF?slug=aw-pistonsbucks062309&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

  149. My opinion is that if the Celtics are really looking to trade Rondo, the only reason for that would be that they want to join the sweepstakes for Lebron/Wade. I do not know about the contract details of Rondo or KG/Pierce/Ray but I think that could be the only reason to let Rondo go.

    Of course, they might be shopping him to make him take less money as Kurt pointed out earlier. That is a more plausible reason, of course.

  150. I also heard about the Rondo & Allen to Detroit on Sportcenter morning show earlier today. They didn’t say that it was confirmed that the trade was happening, just that Boston had put out that offer to Detroit. They also talked about Rondo being disruptive and difficult to coach and that this was also a problem with him in college. I didn’t know that about Rondo. Though after their playoffs series with the Bulls, he does come off as a punk. Interesting to say the least.

  151. I thought there was a rule against that? The Bucks just received Oberto in a trade, they’re allowed to ship him off? Or is the rule that they can’t ship Oberto in combination with another player?

  152. Randy Foye and Mike Miller to the Wizards!

    This is getting fun. More trades, GMs!

  153. If it does go through, the Wolves will have the #5 and #6 picks in the draft. Looks like they finally gave up the Foye-at-the-point expt.

  154. Re: Rondo, Yahoo first reported this, then came back later and said that a low-level Boston front office guy floated it as a concept to a low-level Detroit guy, and it was turned down there. It’s an assumption that Yahoo, is right, but it could be.

    I think number of trades, big and small, discussed at that level would stun people, it would look like an ESPN trade machine message board. This one just happen to hit the press, for whatever reason.

  155. The Wolves now have the 5 and 6 in the draft. Would you trade both for #2 and Rubio? Would you accept that if you were Memphis?

  156. If Jennings and Curry were available, I’d definitely draft and keep them. Kind of a gamble, though. Not sure if they’d be available. If I thought I could only have 1 of those guys, then I’d trade for Rubio.

  157. Tough call for Minnesota. They are left with no quality guards, and I doubt that Rubio ends up significantly better than some of the other guards in the draft, so I would hold onto both picks and come away with two of Curry, Harden, Evans, Flynn. Landing the first two would be pretty nice next to Jefferson and Love. Better than one, Foye, and Miller…? Not so sure. And Rubio may slip to 5 anyway.

  158. I guess the off-season started?

    *I like Jefferson to the Spurs from SA’s perspective. Front court depth has been a problem for the Spurs recently, so who cares if they give up that depth – it wasn’t any good for them anyways. And in return they get a legit scoring option that can support Duncan/Parker while also being Manu insurance. We all knew the Spurs were going to need to sign a big anyway, so that part of the plan still stands. And if I were them, I wouldn’t be chasing Gortat, I’d be chasing ‘Sheed for all/part of their mid-level. Imagine a top 8 of Parker, Ginobili, RJ, ‘Sheed, Duncan, Mason, Finley, Bonner – that’s not bad at all and would be a very good two way team (offense/defense).

    *I think Minny gave up on Foye to early, but maybe that’s just me. I think this move indicates that they want a better playmaker at PG and they’ll probably go after Rubio/Jennings and surely get one of them. If I were them, I’d also grab Tyreke Evans as he’d be another playmaking guard that could create offense and provide pretty good size. (Plus, I’m not sold on Harden. I think ASU has a pro friendly system and whenever I saw him play he just didn’t seem *that* impressive.) That would leave Minny with Rubio or Jennings, Evans, Gomes, Love, Jefferson, Carney, Brewer, Telfair, and Craig Smith as their rotation guys. That’s not an awful group – just young and needing some growth and maturity. They wouldn’t have the shot blocking, but they’d have the defensive rebounding, post play, and guard play to make some teams sweat.

  159. Kurt,

    I think Minnesota made a great trade.

    If the Wolves think Rubio is definitely the guy, then I would say yes, they should make a trade like that. Two draft picks in a weak draft will never amount to not taking the chance to get one of the few potentially great players in this Draft. If they feel he is.

    Personally, I like Stephen Curry and Jennings as well. If they could nab one of them and another guy, or possibly still get Rubio, then they are in a great spot.

    They will get 2 great picks to grow with a young talented team.

    I don’t think Foye was anything worth holding onto. Not when you can grab one of 3 potentially very good players. With the way the NBA is heading, if Rubio, Jennings, or Curry pans out, they have a chance to continue PG dominance in this no-hand checking era. Another question is how good do they feel about Telfair?

  160. I don’t fully understand why Mamba has decided not to repair the torn ligament in his shooting hand.
    KB recently stated that he does not want to change “a damn thing” in regards to his hand, which may not serve him in the long run.

    It think repairing it, benefits his longevity as well as staying competitive. I want to see him flourish as long possible, but I know he is mortal.
    I believe this would be the opportune time to have “it” done for his benefit as well as the team’s.
    Last year’s schedule was obviously too cumbersome for anything but title runs and gold medals.
    Currently he has no commitments until the season starts and if he does lose a bit of his “stroke” he has the motivation and ability to regain it.
    This kind of surgery must require a lot of rehabilitation, if not, IMO he should “just do it”

    I’m speaking from a long-term point of view, and thinking in the back of my mind that he’s willing to be as successful as long as his ligament/finger will allow.

  161. 157. Kurt, if I were Memphis, I would definitely go for #5 & 6 for #2.

    This draft is particularly full of high-risk, medium-gain players, so it’s better to have two than one.

    Also, Memphis has a lot of needs. If I were them and trying to build the team (as opposed to fielding the cheapest team possible to make it sellable), I would trade the two picks for some veterans around Mayo/Gay. There’s just so much turnover on that team that nothing is getting built.

    On the other side, if I were the T-Wolves, I would for the same reasons not swap for #2 and hold on to the picks. In fact, because their future core is Jefferson/Love, that means they really need guards, so why not grab two in a guard-heavy draft? And Rubio might slip to #5 anyway…

  162. I don’t think Minnesota will over #5 and #6; something like #5 and #18 for #2 is probably more realistic, and it works out for all sides. Minnesota gets its marquee point guard in Rubio, still will have another lottery pick to use, and can draft a foreign prospect with #28. Memphis gets out of having to deal with the Rubio situation and can safely take someone like Hill and add to their bench with the #18 pick.

  163. @59

    Yep, love TA’s attitude and thinks it matters too.

    @154

    Heh, funny. I love the tons of trades too, definitely makes things more interesting. With the triangle taking so long to learn, trades seem a little less likely with the Lakers. However, dumping Cook for Ariza, Vlad for S. Brown, and Kwame for Gasol certainly got my attention. I think the day they got rid of Cook was the happiest day of my life.

    @162

    I’ve had the same thought myself. Mamba has lost sensation in his hand in games 5-10 minutes at a time. In game 5 of this year’s Finals, his hand was hurt badly. Take a chance it will be funky for a while, but get it stabilized against further exacerbation makes a hell of a lot of sense to me.

  164. @Snoopy

    Yes, Bucks could trade Oberto, but only sauté. They couldn’t pack him with another player.

    @BCR

    You’re right about picks values. Kubatko has done a splendid table at b-r blog. It shows the expected WinShares for every pick (basing on history). #2 is “worth” 64 WS. #5 – 47, #6 – 43, #18 – 23. Of course there is this scarcity thing.

    Frankly I’d like to have a pick in low tens. Lawson is supposed to be available there and he’s an interesting prospect.

  165. trade talk and contracts aside, the NBA player I’m looking forward to watching next season, besides Kevin Durant, is Andrew Bynum.

    He’s got finals/playoff experience under his belt, he’s has a 42 pt. game, and the past 2 seasons he’s been injured just as he’s hitting his stride. If he’s healthy all year, and plays the way he did the week before the injury, the Lakers can repeat with only one of the two LO/TA coming back.

  166. I totally agree with you Travis (#167). I know Drew is getting knock for the injuries, but they were really freak things IMO. I just want his attitude to be right. That comes with maturity and all, but I didn’t like watching him pout at times, especially when he was late on rotations or picking up just silly reach fouls.

    *If* he can stay healthy, watch out!

  167. @141 – I was suprised to hear that the “Vin Scully deal” was a consideration for Phil for the very reason he pointed out in the article…control of the team in the trenches. I guess we’ll see what happens there, though I always thought if he couldn’t go whole hog he would just go.

    RE:P Rondo – I have a really hard time believing that if the Celtics were seriously considering shopping Rondo (& even Allen) it would have been made public so early, especially without anything in place. Potential for too much disaster. Makes no sense.

  168. *No P before Rondo, sorry…need more coffee!!

  169. I hate to speculate on the whole Rondo thing, but the RedsArmy website posted some interesting text from an interview given by Ainge recently. What caught my eye was that Ainge said (1) he does not believe Rondo is a max type player, (2) Rondo has a problem with discipline, and (3) he specifically mentioned that while the Celtics do not have the money to sign Wade or Lebron for max money, he thinks they *could* entice them to join the Celtics for less money because he thinks Wade and Bron would be interested in pairing up with KG and Pierce.

    The 3rd point is particularly interesting to me based on the recent trade rumors as he only mentions KG and Pierce and leaves out both Rondo and Allen from the discussion. If this was a slip from Ainge (not the brightest of guys), then it could explain why Rondo is being shopped around.

    Frankly, if Ainge spoke from the heart, then I hope Rondo stays put. Nothing would please me more as a Laker fan than to see the Celtics implode from a lack the “team chemistry” everyone was so quick to credit them with just a year ago.

  170. I think the Celtics are putting Rondo in his place. He might be feeling himself too much. Plus, there’s a chance the bad pub might keep his price down heading into restricted free agency, or they’re trying to build up potential trades. Stuff like this getting out might put pressure from fans on front offices to implore a trade to make the team better.

    It is surprising to hear these stories now. I wonder where the Bandwagon Bill 3000 word story is? If this were Laker related, he would have pulled an all nighter typing it.

  171. USA just beat #1 Spain 2-0 in Confederations cup to reach the final. HUGE for US soccer.