The End of the Bench

Zephid —  June 26, 2009

LAKERS

In the wake of our Lakers’ brilliant 2009 NBA Championship campaign and subsequent selling of draft picks, the league has sprung full-force into the off-season: Jefferson to the Spurs, Foye and Miller to the Wizards, Crawford to the Hawks, and most recently, Shaq to the Cavs, are just some of the big trades that have gone down. Here at FB&G, there has been much discussion about free agency, mostly dedicated to the luxury tax, Lamar Odom, and Trevor Ariza. But as we all know, there are the three “other” free agents on our team: Shannon Brown, Josh Powell, and DJ Mbenga. The consensus amongst us fans at least is that Shannon Brown must be brought back as “Farmar-insurance,” but not much has been made about re-signing Powell or Mbenga. While neither is nearly as important as Odom or Ariza, each brings his own special niche to the team. Powell had a solid regular season, going from a bench-warmer playing only during garbage time, to a rotation player, his high point coming 3/11 in Houston, starting in the place of suspended Lamar Odom (for taking half a step off the bench during the “scuffle” in Portland), dropping in 17 points on 8-14 shooting and grabbing 9 rebounds in a narrow 102-96 Lakers victory, including a very un-Josh-Powell-esque two dunks (he still needs some serious dunking practice). DJ was in a similar situation, playing 3 minutes through the first 3 months of the season, then getting good minutes after Bynum’s injury, leading to a couple “volume scorer” comments from Stu Lantz. Both were called upon in the crucial Game 4 win in Orlando in which Pau, Lamar, and Andrew all picked up 2 fouls in the first quarter. While neither played spectacularly, both played well enough to keep the game close and eventually lead to Fisher’s soon-to-be-legendary 4.6 shot. Yes, compared to Kobe, Gasol, Odom, Ariza, and even Fisher, these two had marginal contributions at best and unnoticeable contributions at worst. Yes, letting either walk this summer probably wouldn’t crush our title hopes for next year. But, perhaps more important than their on-court contributions are their off-court stories. Each has come through his own adversity, taking a long hard journey to the NBA. Neither deserves our pity; simply being basketball players in the NBA for a couple years will earn them more money than some of us will earn in a lifetime. But they have certainly earned our empathy, not only as players, but as hard working individuals who have come through adversity to achieve their dreams of an NBA championship.

Josh Powell spent two years at N.C. State, earning All-Rookie Honors in 2001-02, and earning N.C. State’s Most-Improved Player Award the following year. Yet, most likely due to the staff-induced ball-hogging by Julius Hodge, Powell chose to leave N.C. State after only his second year of eligibility, entering the NBA Draft in 2003. After going undrafted, Powell was the No. 1 pick in the CBA draft, but instead chose to play overseas, taking him on a two year journey through Russia and Italy. After playing for Lokomotiv Rostov in the Russian Super League, Eurorida Scafati (now Harem Scafati) in the Italian Lega 2 (formerly Serie A2), and Pepsi Caserta (now Eldo Caserta) in the Italian League (formerly Serie A), Powell returned to the NBA, signing with the Dallas Mavericks before the start of the 2005-06 season (you don’t want to know how long it took me to look those up). Within short order, Powell was relegated to the D-League, playing for the Fort-Worth Flyers before being recalled by Dallas for their 2006 postseason run (and to think, if not for some suspect officiating and a massive team meltdown, Josh Powell could have two more rings than Lebron James). In the ensuing offseason, Powell was traded to the Indiana Pacers along with Darrell Armstrong and Rawle Marshall for two bags of chips (aka Anthony Johnson). Powell was summarily included in the Stephen Jackson trade, landing him in Golden State as an expiring contract. The following season, Powell signed with the Clippers (talk about desperation), only to be waived when the Clippers signed Marcus Camby in the off-season. Finally, almost by some miracle, he was signed by the Lakers, winning a championship while playing a crucial 8 minutes in the critical Game 4 of the Finals, all this after being told by one Patrick Ewing that he would never make the league. And now, he’s got one more ring than Ewing.

While Josh Powell’s story is one of perseverance, never quitting on his journey to achieve success in the NBA, DJ Mbenga’s is a story of strength and hope. Born Didier Ilunga-Mbenga, DJ was raised in the war-torn Zaire, officially known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (which is almost as ironic as “The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”). When President Mobutu Sese Seko was ousted by rebel forces led by Laurent-Desire Kabila (a Marxist, surprise!) with support from Rwanda and Uganda, DJ’s father, who worked for the former regime, was thrown into a political prison along with DJ and his brothers (for more information, Wikipedia “First Congo War.”). His father, who later died during imprisonment, negotiated the release of DJ and his brothers, who fled as refugees to Belgium (which draws on the rather sad point that DJ’s Laker teammates don’t know where he’s from, showing their ignorance on national television on Jimmy Kimmel). After being discovered by Belgian basketball player Willy Steveniers, DJ began playing for the Antwerp Diamond Giants in the Belgian Junior Youth League, the Spirou Gilly in the Belgian Second Division, then the Basket Groot Leuven and Spirou Charleroi in the Belgian First Division (I have no idea how to pronounce any of those). In 2004, DJ was signed by the Dallas Mavericks, a three year tenure that would include an ACL tear, going into the stands, and the same championship run enjoyed by Josh Powell (and to think, he could have two more rings than Lebron James). After a short sign-and-waive contract with the Warriors, DJ signed two consecutive 10-day contracts with the Lakers before inking a one-year deal in 2007-2008. DJ was re-signed this past fall, and we all know what happened after that. And yes, he also has one more ring than Patrick Ewing.

Josh Powell and DJ Mbenga are not stars, not by any stretch of the imagination. Neither of them are even solid contributors, both being relegated to mostly garbage minutes and the occasional 1st quarter cameo due to foul trouble for Bynum/Gasol/Odom. Yes, most of their value comes in practice, making Bynum and Gasol work(according to Mbenga, at least). But you can’t grow heart; you can’t practice effort, or get better at determination. You either have them or you don’t. Josh Powell and DJ Mbenga have heart, effort, and determination, not just in basketball, but in life. And that is a rare skill indeed.

-Zephid

PS: For the regulars, this is my first post here, so please, any constructive thoughts are welcomed and appreciated.

Zephid

Posts

124 responses to The End of the Bench

  1. GREAT article. Thanks for doing all that research… Mbenga has really been through a lot, I hope he stays with the lakers if anything for the way he brings the team together in the locker room. And Powell has seroius skill, I see him improving more and more.

  2. Zephid,
    Very interesting, particularly Mbenga’s. You don’t indicate whether you think the Lakers will re-sign them, and if you think the Lakers should re-wign them. (Maybe that was intentional, but personally I would have enjoyed reading your opinion those points.)

  3. exhelodrvr +1

    Zephid,

    I would also like your thoughts on whether you think they should be resigned or not.

    Personally, I have grown rather fond of this group and would like to see them get a chance to defend their title, even Mbenga and Powell. Just my two cents.

  4. Completely off topic here from the Post, but Amare Stodumire just Tweeted that he’s going to the Lakers…
    WHAT? Is that even possible unless we move Bynum…It could be his way of angering the Suns front office or something

  5. Personally, I want the both Powell and Mbenga back. I love their energy and their heart, and you can’t find that just anywhere. Mitch has indicated several times that he wants to bring 13 guys back,and I believe that Sun Yue will most likely be the odd man out. That being said, if Elonu turns out to be better than Powell or Mbenga, I’d be torn, because he will earn half their salary, which will amount to almost $1 million in salary and luxury tax.

    Still, I love these guys, and nothing would make me happier than bringing the exact same team back.

  6. Great Article! Kudos!

  7. I would decline DJ Mbenga’s option and try to sign Rasho Nesterovic. Another option would be Robert Swift because he’s a project with upside and an extended injury history. Josh Powell is a tougher case because there are possible upgrades but they are expensive relative to the luxury tax problems. I would probably pick up his option.

  8. I think Mitch said earlier that the Lakers were going to pick up both Powell and Mbenga’s options unless something happened. He said it as something that would “most likely” happen

  9. 4. Either Amare wanted more twitter followers or someone hijacked his account.

  10. Mbenga and Powell are not free agents, the Lakers have the options so it doesn’t matter what other teams do. The only thing that would keep their options from being picked up is another player falling into the Lakers laps for less than $1 mil. So, not very likely.

  11. Good job Zephid. I look forward to more posts.

  12. Zephid, that was a great post. There is nothing stylistically I would change at all. I really appreciate the research you did!

    I might be in the minority here, but I do not mind longer posts. Some more background info, or as someone else mentioned, your opinion on the players, would have been good additions.

    For me, something else to consider is the triangle offense. These two players have a year under their belt . New players might take awhile to get comfortable I guess it does not matter as much with the second unit, but it is nice to be able to throw either in with the starters and have them comfortable running that offense. Of course, Powell seemed to do really well with the pick and roll game against San Antonio.

    I’d like to keep both. Big men are at such a premium and there is not much out there to replace their specific (and limited) skill set.

  13. Didier’s story is sad and impressive, I agree. I really hope the guys were just joking on Kimmel and understand what this guy’s been through.

    Josh Powell’s OK, I guess. I mean, with that skill set, there’s a lot of effort/energy players who’ve been through adversity and people telling them they won’t make the league, to making the league off effort and will. If the Lakers cut Elonu, I can easily see Elonu working through a similar storyline. These guys’ stories are impressive, but at the end of the day this is a business.

    This post does a great job of detailing the backgrounds of some of our players that most of us don’t know much about. A ton of research must have gone into this, kudos.

  14. j.d. Hastings June 26, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    I hope the Lakers bring back Powell and Mbenga also. Particularly Powell. If anybody watched the exit interviews, the 2 most notable to me were Shannon Brown, for the joy he had at having landed somewhere that wanted him after all his hard work, and Powell’s which was subtely heartbreaking because his future was uncertain again.

    The man has proven beyond a doubt to my mind that he belongs in this league. He can hit a 12-15 footer, rebound and defend. What more can you ask? Can’t you see him making a career somewhere like Utah? I hope that the Lakers keep him, and if they don’t I hope that the fact he was behind 3 studs doesn’t hurt him finding a new, permanent home where he can have a solid, stable career.

  15. j.d. Hastings June 26, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    I suddenly love Amare a little more than I ever did before because of the panic it sent into Henry at Truehoop and probably every other team in the league.

  16. j.d. Hastings June 26, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    …the panic his twitter post sent into…

  17. Strong post, Zephid, great research about these two journeymen’s journeys. Both are amazing stories of perseverance, what a hike and cilmb that was to get to the top of the stairs at the Colisseum, huh?

    I too hope they bring back the exact same team to defend (except for Sun, who pretty much had the Chinese gov’t seal his fate by forcing him to go play for the national team this summer instead of summer league). One through twelve (or thirteen), this team has guys who live to ball.

    As for the other end of the spectrum (or bench), here’s an interesting post (from LA Times blog) about everyone giving a little to get everyone back for next year and beyond:
    http://lakersblog.latimes.com/lakersblog/2009/06/kobe-bryant-new-contract-max-deal-the-135-million-elephant-in-the-room.html

    I honestly have no clue as to guess what Kobe will do, but agree that taking less would do much to kill the “he’s selfish” thing.

  18. Oh Amare. I have a feeling his agent left him a message about a trade to a “championship ready team in the golden state” and Amare suddenly wished/hoped/thought he was a Laker. Oh boy. He’s going to feel like a donkey’s butt if it turns out to be the Warriors!

  19. 13, Snoopy, a good 3 hours of my work day went into this post. I have a lot of free time as an intern.

  20. Wow, amazing post. Mbenga’s story is incredible. Great job on the research. Hope to see more posts from you here.

    I’ve always thought Powell could be a good role player if he was a little more aggressive. He’s got such a good shot for a guy his size, but even if he doesn’t develop his inside game, he’s still useful. Hope to see both players next year.

  21. Josh Powell,

    I’m sorry but this guy has some serious basketball skills. He is like a chemistry experiment missing one critical component to make it the discovery that it could be. I’m not sure what it is for Powell, but it may be working on his quickness/agility, losing some weight, and getting a higher basketball IQ. He could be a great role player, coming 7th off the bench on a great team.

    DJ Mbenga,

    This guy unfortunately does not have too much too offer in my opinion except physical size. With his athletic build, he should also be a great role player. Of course he isn’t. He needs to come off the bench with incredible energy and tenacity. He needs to play great defense, rebound, alter shots, etc. This guy could be a great role player as well. Unfortunately, I do not think he has put in the time. All the things he needs to be good at can be attained with hard work. He needs to work much harder both on and off the game court.

  22. Great job Zephid. Look forward to seeing more of your posts.

  23. The Dude Abides June 26, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    Kaveh, DJ works plenty hard. He has very good help defense skills (especially for a 12th man), decent hops, and excellent timing on blocked shots. He is also a surprisingly good face-up shooter from 17 feet in, and can catch and dunk when Kobe or another initiator draws the defense to him, thereby leaving DJ open. He is also a surprisingly good one-on-one post defender for a 12th man. He did very well against Shaq in one of our home victories against the Suns, blocking two of Shaq’s shots (including one of his jump hooks!)

    He is also very popular with the rest of the team, and doesn’t complain about minutes. In short, he is an ideal guy to bring back at the NBA minimum as the 12th man.

  24. The Dude Abides June 26, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    PS-Zephid, that was an enjoyable post. Also, I’ve seen DJ say in interviews that it’s still too painful to talk about his father and life in the Congo. It wouldn’t surprise me if his teammates are not that familiar with details of his past. It appears that a number of guys on the team resolve to focus on the present and the future, rather than dwell on the past, or each other’s personal lives. Remember how gob-smacked DJ was on Kimmel’s show when Jimmy asked Jordy if he was the only Jewish player in the NBA? That was freaking hilarious!

  25. Sorry to bring logic into this… but guys like DJ and Powell are a dime a dozen. Min salary players are easy to come by. DJ was cut by the Warriors and Powell was let go by the Clippers. These are very bad NBA players. Shannon Brown though has a chance to start for the Lakers next year and can become a average NBA starting PG if he develops. That is the guy who we need to resign of the 3.

  26. I think I understand how you and I differ, Aaron. While you think of basketball players as physical, statistical, sports-playing pieces of meat, I think of them as people.

  27. The Dude Abides June 26, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    25. Good God, Aaron, did you bite into an entire bowl of lemons this morning?

  28. 12 & 25. Yes, there are a lot of minimum salary players, but few who have proven they can contribute to *this* championship team, and this triange system. I see no upside to bringing in other minimum salary folks, and we’re trimming salary, so it seems clear that they’ll be back. Which is great, because I’ve gotten fond of them.

  29. j. d. hastings June 26, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    BTW- Great post Zephid. Well researched, thought out and written!

  30. One thing I really like about Powell is he plays with a very gritty NBA style physicality. He plays tough and bangs but doesn’t draw 3 fouls in 3 minutes of play. While the Lakes didn’t need that grit in the finals this year. I could very well see w/ other East Coast teams (not to mention some Western teams) this could be essential. Coupled w/ his nice mid range jumper, he is a huge if underutilized asset.

    Won’t say anything bad about DJ; he’s game, has chemistry w/ the team and seems to be improving. But he’s not in the same class.

  31. j. d. hastings June 26, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    Chris Broussard, in the video window above, says he believes that Detroit signs Hedo and Boozer. That’d be big because I think Detroit is the most likely threat to pursue Odom. The other teams with cash all suck, if I’m not mistaken, and may not need him. So that could help…

  32. Nice post Zephid. Hopefully you have more free ‘intern’ hours to cook up another gem soon. I especially liked the part about both DJ and Josh having one more ring than either Lebronze and Ewing. Priceless.

    This team we have is easy to like. From the starters to the bench, everyone has a history of adversity. It not only fueled their fire to win this year, it made them more appreciative of the journey.

  33. The 11th and 12th positions are not typically for players that are being developed for future significant roles, because there is not enough PT and enough money to put players of that type in those spots. They are for players who can step in in an “emergency” for a little while; players who will work hard in practice; players who won’t be making much money; players who accept all of the above. ANd Powell and Mbenga seem to fit perfectly.

  34. Nice article Zephid. When I heard DJ said on the Kimmel show he was from Congo, I thought maybe there was more to his story there.

    @Aaron: I don’t think anybody is saying we should keep DJ b/c of his story. It’s just a nice thing to know, as long as he’s going to be with us anyway. Anyway, were you the one who said Laker fans need to start thinking about a change in ownership? Sorry, but I think the Iranian people have a better shot at effecting a regime change than we do an ownership change.

  35. Zephid, it is posts like this one that make this site of FB&G so great. Very well written and researched article indeed. I like the length and history of the players in detail with all of the links to relevent data. This is the reason during the off-season that I will keep coming here every day, just to not miss a great article or whatever. I am now very informed on these two players, who I believe Mitch did say he was going to bring them back for next season. Hey, the starters have to practice against players who are decent, right? They both cost under 1m, so that is fine for these two, and they DESERVE a shot at another title with the adversary that their lives have gone through and look where they are now. I remember Powell stating to a reporter that what more would he want in life, he is a professional basketball player playing in Los Angeles. Kurt is going to have his own writing staff soon it looks like.

    “Every successful person who became successful was because they believed enough in their dreams and someone gave them a chance.” – unknown

  36. I think many of us fans find it easy to forget even the guys at the end of the bench rank among the best players on the planet.

  37. that amare tweet got me thinking. should have scared the brains out of other nba teams particularly those who made trades and thought they couldn’t be topped. anyhow, lakers shot that one down according to another blog site. amare must have been dreamin big time. phoenix would be an ultimate fool or is in total overhaul mode if it took a bait from la like that.

    just relax guys. we’re making brilliant moves without moving players, just the only difference. it was our turn a year and something ago. let them have the buzz. things like these are best measured a year later in june. with bynum only getting better (though i thought he took a gentle step back last season) and i think that our bench will get some redoing, we’ll be fine.

    that said, GO LAKERS!

  38. Zephid… congratulations… I really enjoyed the post and I hope to reed a lot more in the future…

    Kurt, your band is rocking great!!!

  39. 25. If Dj Mbenga and Josh Powell are a dime a dozen so are 98% of the guys picked in the draft this year and almost any year-most won’t ever become rotation players in the NBA much less starters. So why the big fuss over the Lakers selling the picks to get something more useful-cash?

    If the Lakers keep LO, Trevor and Brown and next year’s team is the same as last year’s going into the season, I’d consider the off-season a succcess and feel compelled to thank the FO.

    It’s great that San Antonio, Cleveland and Orlando all pulled off huge trades and improved themselves in varying degrees. The fact that there are a handful of teams willing to go all out for a championship bodes well for the league and hopefully results in several teams that one day will considered among the great-including the Lakers.

    As for the Lakers, they have proven they are willing to spend money for a known commodity that can lead them to a championship, whether it’s Shaq as a FA or Gasol as a huge contract looking to be dumped. They minimize spending on unproven players and pay top dollar for the best.

    Jordan Farmar is in a contract year which bodes well for his performance-I’d be willing to bet next year will be his best.

    Sasha couldn’t shoot any worse if he tried-he didn’t make a single FG in the 5 games called the Finals! How does that happen? He can’t get any worse-can he? Nowhere but up. Besides, who would really take him?

    But, yes, we all agree-even Mitch Kupchak admitted as much-the point guard position is open for the taking and the guy to take it may not be on the squad. Who is that guy going to be? Who knows? The NBA works in mysterious ways.

    We need to take a step back or a toke or a chill pill or whatever and come to grips with the fact that Tony Douglas is not walking through that door, fans, Nick Calathes is not walking through that door and Patrick Beverley is not walking through that door. And if you expect them to walk through the door.. they are going to be young and green!”

    I, Al Pacino (I have to believe only Pacino could play RIck Patino in the movie inspired by the real story), repeat… “Tony Douglas is not walking through that door, fans, Nick Calathes is not walking through that door and Patrick Beverley is not walking through that door. And if you expect them to walk through the door.. they are going to be young and green!”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICdXAmd1TWA

  40. Been reading around and it amazes me that:

    a.) some analysts give me the feeling they want the lakers dethroned asap some even annointing some other teams as “a player away” from taking the lakers down

    b.) some trade rumors are far more ridiculous than what some of us have dreamt of here

    c.) the competition keeps getting better!

    d.) some people like underestimating or simply hating on the lakers.

    ANSWERS to items a-d hinge on one MAJOR FACTOR… the Lakers staying in championship form next year. If they are hungry as they claim to be enjoying it, healthy and I’m thinking Bynum showing us promise for real and consistent meaning the mob get their act together then we’ll know who comes on top for real.

    though the resigning the 5 FAs we have will be considered a successful offseason already, i wouldn’t mind cementing some very good deals in the future. but i guess am a man who likes hype and action. inaction may be the best answer for now. granted, so as long as brown stays slashing, farmar does take to account it’s a contract year, luke shows explosiveness which he isn’t all about and sasha regains the 35%+ shooting. otherwise much of their purpose is defeated and i don’t mind putting some fire under them. just not the rondo type. GO LAKERS!

  41. Excellent article.

    Just enough to get an insight into their journey. Definitely not too long.

    I also hope Powell and Mbenga are resigned, after LO, TA, and SB. Signing someone else will be about the same dollars, but Powell and Mbenga know the team and the system. Anyone else will be starting from scratch.

    About changing owners: not a good idea. If I’ve read correctly, the owners of AEG have first rights to buy if the Buss family decides to sell. Buss can only sell to someone else if AEG declines to buy and that’s not likely.
    If true, why is that important?
    According to some opinions, the owners or management at AEG was responsible for neglecting and destroying the LA Kings while wasting boatloads of cash on someone named Beckham, who gladly accepted said cash and then never bothered to show up.

    If you want AEG to own the Lakers, get ready to call them the Clippers.

  42. Nice!!!!

    each one of them brings a different perspective…toughness of dj, toughness time 2.0 for powell..enough said…hope that the core will be back for the repeat.

  43. honestly, for 11th and 12th men, they are pretty good. i say keep em. they deserve a shot to come back, plus they are at least a small challenge in practice for gasol, bynum and odom.

    i mean, most teams don’t even have 2 good bigs, let alone 3 plus competent in training matchups.

    also, they should be betting better since they are surrounded by other quality big men.

    @27 The dude Abides: hilarious

  44. Quick side note on Josh Powell. I was coaching high school basketball when he was at NC State. One of my high school teammates was an assistant for Herb Sendek at the time, so he gave my team a tour of the RBC Center when we were there for team camp.

    We went to the team room, film room, etc., and ran into some of the players. Josh Powell went out of his way to make our guys feel welcome, and basically took over the tour.

    Class act, and the kind of guy I want to see back to defend the championship.

  45. Zephid,
    Yes… I don’t know them as people and I probably never will. And you are also right, I do think of them as basketball players and not people. Because I don’t root for them to help and old lady across the street, I root for them to put the ball in the basket. If I cared who they were as people Kobe certainly wouldn’t be my favorite player and Derek Fisher probably would be. I really don’t even care about them. I just want them to help the Lakers win, because Im a Lakers fan.

  46. I like last year’s team.

    Hopefully DJ and Josh stays around.

  47. Aaron, if you are not rooting for them as people you are just rooting for the jersey, which must be an empty feeling.

    AEG does have first rights to buy the team if the Buss family sells. If you think they would be good, ask an LA Kings fan.

  48. I’ve been reading up on Chinemelu “Junior” Elonu and there are a couple of things I came away with:

    1. Smart(academic all-american)
    2. Kind of a late bloomer(played soccer until 9th grade)
    3. Praiseworthy work ethic.

    He’s won me over. I’m rooting for this kid to make the team already.

  49. I like Powell and Mbenga. I think Powell needs to practice some dunking skills though…..big time!!! And Mbenga needs to protect the ball more, he’s got Kwame’s fingers. But they should stay. I like their 15-18 ft. jumpers. Nice.
    As for point guard….I don’t know, maybe I’m just fooling myself or not too knowledgeable a fan, but I’m still hoping Sun can become a decent replacement.

  50. I wish there was a way we could convince Elonu to play in Europe. I, too, want to see him in a Lakers uniform (if only because I love the words ‘hard worker’) but he’s up against 2 blue-collar guys.

    Does anyone have Josh Powell’s email address and can forward him this link?
    http://www.airalert.com/airalert.html

  51. The Dude Abides June 27, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    50. Snoopy, me too. I’d love to see Elonu play in Europe for a couple years. The guy could end up being a decent rotation player.

  52. Zephid,

    Nicely done.

    I think that the Lakers are committed to bringing everyone back. That could even include Sun Yue. Mbenga and Powell are clearly worth being included. It is almost impossible to recreate team chemistry when it’s gone. Team chemistry should be something the Lakers can count on for next year.

  53. 45,

    Evidence do point to them as good basketball players. What small percentage games they played meaningful minutes in they produce meaningful statistics. Josh is above playing as the 6th man off the bench but yet here he is on the Lakers.

    DJ is usually insurance in case the Lakers need someone to fill in emergency minutes in case of sudden injuries or rest fatigued bigs.

    If not Josh and DJ, then who?

  54. 51, Dude – I’ll be honest, though, I’ve never seen Elonu play. But Trudell said the Lakers had him ranked at the 34th best prospect in the draft, and I have a ton of faith in our front office.

  55. Kurt,
    So you are rooting for the players? So when a former Laker player that you were a fan of when he played for the purple and gold plays against the Lakers you root for him? So when Shaq plays against the Lakers you are rooting for him to play well as much as you are for Bynum? If so you really I guess aren’t a Lakers fan as much as you are a fan of individual players. And that is fine. Im just much more a Lakers fan. I would rather trade away the expiring contracts of Fisher and Morrison to get a better PG. I don’t care as much about how that would displace Derek’s and Adam’s families. I care more about the Lakers getting better. Winning to me is #1. But everyone is different.

  56. Zephid, great column! I like the humanistic angle that you presented on Mbenga and Powell, always interesting to learn the life stories of the guys at the end of the bench.

    Knowing Shaq, he may have something like “Yea, me and Lebron are going to whip Kobe’s *** and I’m going to win me another championship! You can have your team back Amare, yall ain’t going no where, ha ha!” So, when Amare catches wind that he is being traded to California he wanted to stick it to Shaq something like “If Shaq thinks that the league is scared of him and Lebron, what about the prospect of me Kobe and Pau?”

  57. The Dude Abides June 27, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    Here’s a pretty funny YouTube outtake of Kobe and Ali G “behind the scenes” from about one year ago:

    http://tinyurl.com/nv4hml

  58. Aaron, I don’t know you, but let me take a swing at this. You live in a very black and and white world, you are good or bad, helpful to the Lakers or useless. I live in a world of shades of gray. I can understand guys as role players. I want them to succeed as people. When Shaq leaves the Lakers I don’t hate him, I don’t want him to beat my team but he was never dead to me like he was some Lakers fans. I want his jersey hung in the rafters at Staples when he retires, it deserves to be there. This is a site built around the concept of a nuanced view of the Lakers and the NBA. If that doesn’t work for you, there is always talk radio. This is the World Championship Lakers we are talking about here, and you discard the past because other teams have made moves, but those moves were made to try to get as good as we are. Right now, they are still short. And the fact is, we all watched this Lakers team this season, it has yet to play it’s best ball with this lineup. This team can get better just by being together and playing more as a team (feeding Pau in the post more, for example, and running less P&R).

    Simply put, I think there is time to address the PG issue, it is not so simple as “if we don’t trade fish with Morrison we are doomed.” The world does not work that simply for me. There will be options — expiring deals are worth more at the trading deadline than now. The Lakers can get through this season and win a title if a combo of Brown and Farmar improve and Fish can play fewer but key minutes. Would the Lakers have had more trouble with a 100% Nelson in the Finals? Sure. But the what if game is foolish. What if Ariza and Bynum had been healthy a year before? What if Shaq and Kobe could have gotten along like adults? It’s all useless speculation. What happened is what is.

    You know, we’ve had a series of antagonists, people playing the “Lakers are a disaster” role here. But none actually pretended to be Lakers fans. And at least John R. did it with a real flair. I kind of miss him.

  59. yeah, I miss ol’ John R too…. in a weird kind of way. ;)

  60. Aaron I believe is a true LAKER fan who is proactive in his decision process. Not sitting on his hands waiting for someone else to make a move . You on the other hand Kurt are one to be reactive, and make decisions based on emotions. With this wait and see what happens attitude, you leave yourself with less options than you would have had if you made sound decision from the beginning.

    If the LAKERS wait till the trade deadline for players,then they will leave no time for the team to form a certain chemistry between them. Make move now you hav e the whole season to form that bond, plus if it doesnt work out then you have an option to make a trade at the deadline as a last resort.

  61. what is all this drama about???
    no one can MAKE A MOVE until July 1, when the free agents can be made an offer, and not until then.
    I don’t get what all the drama is about.
    The Lakers pretty much tipped their hand at the draft.
    they do not intend to bring any rookies onto this team, because…
    this team should be the same team as last year. that means Lakers brass clearly are wanting to bring back all of their free agents.
    chill folks.
    what can you do? simply wait until July 1, then make an offer. I recall in the past, when the Lakers were clear they wanted to re-up a player, they didn’t play games, they made an offer 1 minute past the opening “tip off”, and they succeeded, so let’s trust they know what they are doing.
    and what’s all this “we”? are any of us here actually involved in all this? or are we just fans who hope our team is able to compete again next year like they did this year? I know that’s all I am, just a humble fan.

  62. I know this is offtopic, but in light of the confederations cup semifinal win: I find myself watching the gold medal game again today (celebrate beating Spain, this time in basketball!).

    Highlights for me so far:

    1.Lebron and then Kobe both grabbing 2 quick fouls (Kobe fouled a guy taking a 3… painfully stupid, thank god he redeemed himself and then some in the second half).

    2.Rubio coming in off the bench was pretty cool also. Had an awesome finger roll type shot.

    Goosebumps. I remember exactly where I was when I watched this game live.

  63. “If the LAKERS wait till the trade deadline for players,then they will leave no time for the team to form a certain chemistry between them. Make move now you hav e the whole season to form that bond, plus if it doesnt work out then you have an option to make a trade at the deadline as a last resort.”

    … It’s June 27th. The trade deadline is roughly 10 billion years from now. Considering most of the Lakers don’t even hang out in the offseason (by most accounts), there’s plenty of time before camp even starts to look for possible deals.

    Besides, what you’re suggesting with some sort of Fisher trade makes no sense on two levels. First, not making moves rashly keeps you from making poor decisions, it doesn’t limit your options substantially. Not everyone succeeds in the triangle, and no one does immediately except in very VERY limited roles and minutes (Shannon Brown). And for all Jordan’s inconsistency and Fisher’s terrible shooting and transition game, these are guys that know what they’re doing now.

    Second, and more importantly, I can’t believe you’re holding out “team chemistry” on the one hand and then demanding we trade our clear emotional leader and captain (and thus chemistry) for… who exactly? what exactly? Either clubhouse chemistry is important or its easily replaceable — not both.

    Can’t you negative nancies try and think positively for the 1 month following a championship parade?

  64. I guess I see both sides – I enjoy watching this team and feel the chemistry really helped – especially in a year with so much pressure on the team.

    On the other hand, everyone coming back means everyone got a year older – being one of the youngest teams in the league (and now with Finals experience) will generally mean improvement but for some it is definitely time to think of a replacement path in the next couple years.

    I am pretty optimistic that Mitch is stockpiling pics next year and also improving our flexibility this year.

    Sometime team’s drafts are grading based on the team’s objective going into the draft. From that standpoint, I would give the Lakers an A as they picked players they could convert into large $ and got a player they valued much higher than where they picked him.

  65. Just to build on what Kurt wrote above in response to Aaron, I don’t see how one can really call oneself a Laker fan without also caring about the player behind the jersey. When players like Eddie Jones and Robert Horry left the team, I always pulled for them (so long as their teams weren’t playing the Lakers). The most recent example of this was Turiaf–I will always have a soft spot for Ronny and will want to see him be successful, even if he never again dons a Laker jersey. (As an aside I sure wish he could’ve been part of the team this last year.)

    Actually, I guess I do understand that some fans of the Lakers approach things like Aaron, but I find it rather sad. When a player like Derek Fisher does what he did in game 4, it means about 100 times more than it would if that had been Smush Parker. Because we know that Fisher is a leader on this team, we know that Jackson had faith in him when almost all of us had lost it, and it’s inspiring to see that rewarded. That’s something that still feels good this evening, and I’m betting it’ll still feel good 10 years from now.

    People have undervalued Derek Fisher his entire career, and no matter how many game-winning shots he hits, it seems this is bound to continue. But leadership is something that is tough to quantify and Fish has it in spades. If he is the biggest weakness on the team, we’re in great shape. The Lakers are more than just the uniform, they’re the people wearing it. I’m proud of them.

  66. DirtySanchez,
    I’d be careful even implying that Kurt isn’t a “real” Lakers fan…we are all on his blog, which just happens to be one of, if not the, best Lakers blogs.

    I also find it interesting that you’re advocating the trading of Fisher and then using chemistry as your main reason. Essentially saying “dump him now so we can have a longer breaking in period with whoever replaces him” while completely disregarding how removing Fisher from this team would affect chemistry in the first place. And then you go back on that reasoning and say we can still trade whoever we pick up at the deadline if things don’t go well. Or, basically, just re-read what Shaky just wrote. (I should have waited to type this…Shaky’s comment was awaiting moderation.)

    I also think the bigger key is being missed here. I think we would all acknowledge that of our starting five, Fisher is our least talented player (I’m just speaking in terms of his *game* – considering his age, his physical limitations, etc while also disregarding something I truly value which is the trust that Kobe has in him and his leadership). But, I’m having trouble remembering any team, even championship teams, that didn’t have a player that is average at best in it’s starting five in the expansion era. Even those great Bulls teams started Luc Longley. Our 3 peat teams started Harper, Fisher, Horry, Fox on different teams and none of those players were ever that *great* and did have major holes in there games. They were just solid players that gave up their fair share while also contributing in some tangible and many intangible ways. Those Spurs teams had Bowen and the Celtics had Rondo and Perkins…all of these players were not only role players, but provided only very limited skills and in some ways hampered their teams in legitimate ways. My point is: no team can be above average at every position. The only potential exception to this is the ’04 Pistons, but they sacrificed having any player that was a true superstar and instead played 5 very good players in their starting unit. But as I said, they are the exception to almost every championship team we’ve seen in the past 25 years.

  67. Darius, +1 on all points.

  68. Aaron, you may think we live in a world of videogames. You may play GM at home, trying to work out trades since Mbenga and Powell only have ratings around 70. Fisher’s rating must not be much higher so he must be a crappy player too. Intangibles mean nothing in 2k9. Dump the benchwarmers and pickup FA’s for the minimum, that way we can pull off lopsided trades that don’t worry about intangibles or chemistry, but just ratings on talent to satisfy the salary cap. Better yet, let’s turn that off and put on trade override and grab LeBron! Let’s jack up three’s. Can you even call a triangle play?

    Guess what, we don’t live in a videogame world. And that is why, among other reasons, you are not a GM.

  69. aaron (45)

    I completely agree with you. I root for them as basketball players as well. Too many hard core fans, for instance people like us reading basketball blogs, especially in the offseason lol, become emotionally attached to the team and players. Kind of like a stalker outside Jennifer Aniston’s window, lol. The truth of the matter is that we don’t KNOW these guys and they are NOT our friends. The only reason we SHOULD like these guys is because they are basketball players. Otherwise it is freakin weird.

    People who go over board and fall in love with the people playing are ridiculous. You think Kobe cares about you as a person? He doesn’t even know who you are and wouldn’t even care if he did. Nevertheless he is my favorite player of all time. I absolutely LOVE his GAME. That’s why i like him and that’s why i root for him.

  70. I think, generally speaking, people should celebrate their fanhood in whatever manner they deem appropriate, and refrain from applying their own standards to others.

    I don’t like it when anyone tries to tell someone else how to be a real fan.

  71. Thank you DirtySanchez & Snoopy,

    Posts #60 and #69 were easily the most objective of all the comments on the Zephid/Aaron incident thus far.

    First off, thank you too to Zephid for a great article – we can all appreciate the hard work, I think.

    Second, Aaron was simply commenting on what the best course of action for the Lakers would be (post #25). Apparently, this induces provoking (if not outright flaming) by Zephid (post #26).

    Aaron maintained his composure well as he is forced to defend himself (post #45), but Kurt steps on Zephid side (post #47) – and clearly straddles on borderline flaming, accusing Zephid of rooting for what essential constitutes an empty feeling.

    Kurt, I understand your wishes to defend Zephid, a longtime and respected poster of this site and who just churned out his first article, but a confidence boost should not have taken precedence over alienating another member.

    Aaron (post #55), then, starts to preach of how to be a true fan of the team, at which point Kurt (post #58) begins to distort opinions, accusing Aaron of now having a black-and-white view of the world.

    DirtySanchez (post #60) and Snoopy (post #69) then give their respective two and three cents about it, while Darius (post #66) joins Kurt and Zephid.

    Everyone’s welcome for a useless analysis – I guess I just have way too much time before my MCATs, and got interested. Note to moderator (Kurt or Darius): I understand that it’s hard to moderate objectively when you’re on one side of the debate, but there’s no need to swat this post if you encourage open, fair debate.

    Here’s the thing: let’s just leave it at this, and let’s not debate on personal reputations alone. Aaron’s alone on this, but there’s no need to alienate anyone here. We can go back to debating his main point, that Powell and Mbenga are disposable role players. At which Zephid can come in and voice his view in a much more neutral way, such as saying that some fans have connected with him in a more personal way and as such would like to see him back.

  72. I’ll let my record speak for itself on being emotional or reactionary. I’m clearly not those things.

    The thing is, I think we are all on the same page that something needs to be done long term about the PG spot. But I’m patient. I think “proactive” leads to people trading Andrew Bynum a couple years ago or even Kobe Bryant. The need is recognized, but if you force a trade to make a change, you end up with what is happening in Phoenix. Patience. Mitch practiced patience and look what it got us — Pau Gasol (who by the way, joined the team mid-season and fit in pretty well), Shannon Brown (ditto), Trevor Ariza, and the list goes on. He was not “proactive,” he waiting until the time was right. And it worked.

    Aaron can be a fan however he wants. I am out of this conversation. He wants to change owners, that tells me all I need to know about him. I get frustrated with fans who weeks after a championship act like it didn’t happen, and that’s how I’ve perceived his posts. I don’t want just one point of view on this site, but I want people to think through their ideas. To have an understanding that we are lucky as Lakers fans to have seen what we have seen. I understand the need to look forward, but I don’t understand the need to thrash the men who just won us a title.

  73. wow missed out on some fun stuff here.

    I think it’s safe for all of us just to wait and see how the TA & LO & PJ thing works out before we jump into heated discussions over something rather trivial compared to the signing of the above.

    Yes, PG spot is a problem, but we just won a championship WITH that problem.

  74. Kurt,

    In response to your last post 72.

    Amen.

  75. With our backcourt, we know we have 3 average point guards with the best shooting guard in the world, and what we’d like to consider as a pretty decent back up SG (sasha). Now, how in the hell is that “mediocre” backcourt a hindrance to our success? We have the most formidable front line, which will include Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, and Trevor Ariza. That is blockbuster $H!T right there.

    And after the draft, it leaves me with minimal doubt that we are re-signing both lamar and trevor. Otherwise, It really just don’t make sense. We come back with the same team asx last year and we are definitely the best team in the WEST….we’ll see what other rabbits Lebronze can pull out his hat

  76. PS Kurt, you rock

  77. 71, I fail to see how I was provoking him. He agreed with me 19 comments later. I also don’t tell people how to be fans. Seems to me as if your recap of the conversation is a little bit biased.

    Aaron is not alone on this; there are seemingly a number of people who share his opinion. But these are all opinions; they are not objective, just as my opinion is only my perspective on the world. I agree that Josh Powell and DJ Mbenga are disposable role players, but I believe that their stories are impactful, and give us a better perspective as to their impact in practice and in our other player’s lives.

  78. 58 and 59.
    Ohh I SOOO DAMN MISS JohnR

    I would give up Elonu to have him back!

  79. Simon (71),

    If you wish to support contrarion logic concerning a celebrated franchise, a celebrated owner, a team captain that once again made a heroic three pointer–do it well.

    Following logic eerily familar to Aaron’s, Derek Fisher was once allowed to accept a free agent contract with Golden State. He was too small and too slow–and far too expensive.

    The pg position Derek left degenerated. Players the Laker’s tried to recruit went elsewhere. The ones they found were less and less able to get the job done–until the Lakers reached the nadir with the Smusher.

    Meanwhile, Derek’s career flourished when he was traded to the Jazz, where his defense and leadership got him long term salary commitments–and almost legendary status when he hit another one of those clutch threes in the playoffs under fantasy movie conditions.

    When Derek came back to the Lakers, he actually came for a lower salary at LA than was guaranteed with the Jazz to a Laker team that was falling apart. The Lakers immediately went to the NBA finals last year–and won the NBA title this year–with Derek once again making game winning threes, inspiring (if sometimes controversial) plays, and even making on court speeches.

    Shouldn’t we begin to consider that the pg position with the Lakers is unconventional–and that Derek’s years of experience with the Lakers have allowed him to fill it much better than a superficial analysis might suggest?

    If “real fans” (like you and Aaron) want to put Derek prematurely into retirement, shouldn’t those fans present careful cost-benefit documentation that presents credible and specific alternatives?

    Simple “hand waving” and repetitive griping may not be the best way to convince the rest of us.

  80. Just another indication that Patrick Ewing: a) should not be an assistant or any other kind of coach; and b) will have things turn out the exact opposite of his predictions more often than not.

  81. One thing we know about the PG position, is that if Kobe does not TRUST the person playing that position (think Smush Parker) then he will try to do too, much.

    With Fisher playing limited minutes one more year and continuing to work with Farmar, the Lakers future starting PG, we will be in better shape than if we traded for some unproven guard. Why trade now, when we might make a trade in February anyway? Trading Farmar or Brown into the starting position and Fisher to the bench.

    How about that trade? That’s the trade that I envision, other than that my only other option would be to find a mad scientist capable of cloning Michael Cooper and bringing him in as the starting PG in the triangle. Can you imagine Coop and Kobe and Trevor on the floor together in the triangle? How about on defense, no passing lane would be safe with all of those long arms and basketball IQ’S. Ah, well just a little levity to the site today.

  82. Zephid (77),

    No I agree, neither what I nor Aaron said were objective – I was saying that about Snoopy and Sanchez. I don’t deny that I was biased toward Aaron; I don’t agree with his view (see below), but I just wanted to take a swing at you and Kurt, that’s all. No hard feelings, I hope.

    drrayeye (79),

    I never claimed myself nor Aaron to be “real fans” – I wrote that he is trying to teach people how to be a true fan – and all that in a negative context, while referring to Snoopy’s post (70).

    As far as the Lakers go, I actually don’t think the Lakers should decline their options, but my repetitive reasoning has thus far been more than just well developed; they provide the niche the Lakers are looking for, all while requiring the minimum (or close to the minimum). They blend well with the current players, and we know they can co-exist as a group on and off the court. They are coachable, as we haven’t received any grumblings from the coaching staff. Last but not least, they stories are inspirational, and we – yes, me included, very ironically – still want to see them signed for this upcoming year.

    Back to drrayeye’s comment about Fisher, again – I think a little opinion-tweaking entered your comment – you used inductive reasoning to claim that I would have wanted Fisher to retire, based off of Aaron’s reasoning? I can’t speak for him, but if you would look back into my original post, I said nothing about how I look at the Laker players. And since I haven’t, I’ll make up for it here – first of all, I don’t agree with Aaron on how to rate players (see above). Secondly, I like to think of my mindset as being similar to most fans at the time. When Fisher was allowed to sign with Golden State in 2004, I think my reaction (as well as those of some, if not most, of the fan base’s – please correct me if I’m wrong) was relieve, that the Lakers didn’t match such a long term contract deemed excessive for a small and old solution at point guard. Nor did I think Atkins or Parker would be the real answer – we obviously thought they were temporary fill-ins. As time went on and the PG’s we had showed how atrocious they were (maybe not Smush in 2006), that’s when we missed the good old times and wanted his return late in 2007. Obviously, other factors came in play the next season to vault us into championship contention. In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and claim that a starting lineup of Farmar, Bryant, Walton/Radmanovic, Odom and Gasol would have taken us deep into the playoffs that well (based off of Jordan’s decent play). No one will know, however, how much that would weaken the bench, and how much the Lakers would lack Derek’s sharpshooting that season.

    I can’t deny that Fisher was an integral element of our team’s successes the last two seasons. And I also can’t follow up with a cost-benefit analysis of how much emotional experience is worth to a team like us, not only because I don’t have the information, but also admittingly because I don’t have the skills. As you said, the unconventionality in Fisher’s case was due to his “years of experience” with the Lakers. Powell and Mbenga have limited experience, and shouldn’t be viewed in the same context. But if you are so keen on insisting that I put a price on their experience, I absolutely can’t. Is it worth something? Definitely. Is it worth more than a similar-calibre player looking to sign for the same amount? Yes. Is it worth more than Garnett offering to sign for the same amount? No. Is it subjective? Yes.

  83. Simon,

    I didn’t intend to confront–but rather present an alternative perspective.

    My main point is that the pg position in the Laker system defies conventional analyses. I suggest that Derek may be filling that role better than some suppose.

    With Mbenga and Powell, it’s more the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach. The Laker organization has always made a concerted effort to promote team harmony–and they appear to have succeeded.

    I believe that Fisher’s minutes will be substantially reduced during the regular season, and I wouldn’t be surprized to see Farmar added to a mid season trade involving a salary dump–assuming that injuries are minimal.

    As things stand, I like the team as it is, and appreciate the willingness of the organziation to try to bring them all back under salary conditions that are very strained.

  84. I am a Lakers fan. Now, to give some context to how I understand Aaron’s point about fandom (I think armchair GMing is a different issue), when Karl Malone became a Laker, I loved him. Karl freakin’ Malone. I loved his elbows. I loved the extended leg on his jumper, which may or may not have been aimed at the softies between various long legs. When he became a Laker the intent of those kicks became rather more ambiguous. Okay, I am a Lakers fan.

    As a Lakers fan I have no interest in seeing the ownership group which ran the Kings into the ground becoming the controlling partner in a Lakers’ ownership group. As a Lakers fan I would probably prefer to see Mo Williams as our starter then D-Fish but that ain’t going to happen and I am fine with that. I’ll be happy to see the Lakers sign all the FAs we have available and keep a calm eye out for ways to subtly help the team. One such way was to sell off draft picks for cash to sign our FAs. Another way is to wait for a situation to go bad, especially for a team with a FO as bad as Memphis’ or maybe Minny’s (although I find this off season to be intriguing partly because of their odd moves), and take advantage. I am a Lakers fan and I am enjoying the glow of this off season. But, I am a Lakers fan and I want more off seasons like this one. It’s certainly an improvement on last off season and worlds better then the off season before that.

    I am a Lakers fan and I know that Kobe, LO, Fish, TA, Farmar, Pau, Drew, and all the rest mean a hell of a lot more to me then I personally do to them and I just don’t care. They entertain me and all I do is make a minor contribution to their ability to take care of their family. I don’t know what LO was thinking when he finally knew he was getting a ring but I was thinking of his baby and all the rest he rose above. When I thought of Kobe, I thought of @$$ tasting contests and who would get the blue ribbon (my guess is any bench player who hasn’t worked a sweat up). The list goes on and on. But let me tell you, not a one of those guys was thinking of me.

    So, I get where Aaron is coming from but I don’t agree where he is taking it to. The Buss family runs this team and I am more then pleased with the direction they have taken it. The steady hand of this FO kept the core of a championship team together when nobody thought Kobe would ever buy back into the FB&G and everyone was picking them to miss the playoffs. I think you let Fish age and let opportunity come to the team. I trust the Lakers will be ready to pounce on any opportunity to improve the team while sustaining the salary structure. So, I’m having a good Summer. I love all you guys. Lets try to not get personal about opinions over a sports team. (Edited for political concerns).

  85. Seriously, holy crap. Landon has made those runs every game, glad they found him that time.

    Wow what a game.

  86. OMFG USA up 2-0. The irony here is if Brazil had let Italy off the hook with just a 2-0 win they wouldn’t be facing USA now!

  87. (Edited for political concerns).

    I can’t believe Brazil came back from that. OK, I can believe it…I can’t believe we’re about to give up a 2-0 lead. We were so damn close…

  88. By the way, I hate to bring this up since it’s over, but I hope my comments at 70 weren’t taken as defending anyone or taking a stance on either side – I did mean it in a general fashion, not just about the disagreement that was taking place here, but about a trend that’s taken place for a long time.

    More love, not hate.

  89. Wow Dempsey in tears. You’ve got to feel for him. So close, this would have done so much for U.S. soccer. Hopefully we can build from here, not just catching lightning in a bottle.

  90. drrayeye,

    Agreed on all points, with the exception about the Farmar trade. So far, the three-guard rotation has worked decently well, and the only reason to trade him would be financial. And the only contract I can see going away with him would be that of Vujacic’s or Walton’s, especially since Morrison’s expires this year. How could we trade either Sasha or Luke, though? They’re our first bench players off the pine at the SG and SF positions, respectively. Are you perhaps suggesting a tweener with an expiring contract to fill both those voids?

    P. Ami,

    That was exactly what I was trying to say, that I sympathize with Aaron but I don’t necessarily agree with him. I came nowhere close to your elegance, however.

    Snoopy,

    Cheers. No, your comments weren’t targeting anyone. I think we can all see that. Agreed, more love, less hate.

  91. So Sasha does make free throws BLIND FOLDED after all, thanks for the link Karlum. Someone awhile back mentioned that here and I kind of did not believe them at the time. So why did he shoot so bad this year, I know the free throw line is closer to the basket than the three point line, but still.

  92. We need the ’09-10 season to start ALREADY!

  93. I edited both comments with political aspects, in accordance with rule 2 of the commenting guides. I believe P. Ami’s comment was flippant and meant to be genuinely inoffensive, but it’s best not to touch off such a sensitive issue.

  94. Simon,

    It is my belief that VladRad was traded in part as a salary dump so that Lamar could be signed for this season. To make that work, the Lakers need to trade an expiring contract (Morrison) for a draft pick (or something nominal) to a team below the cap limit. The only other expiring contract belongs to Farmar, who might be necessary “bait” to put this together–depending on how well Morrison does.

    It is not realistic to consider either Walton or Sasha in this way, because they still have multiyear contracts.

    For the playoff run, the Lakers could bring in a few players at the veteran’s minimum–or even use the mid-level exception in an emergency.

    For the next season, that would make them somewhat cap realistic with open slots for draft picks.

  95. Bruce Bowen?? wouldn’t he give us what Sasha gave us last year? minus the ball handling (which isn’t great anyways), stupid fouls and better defense.

    If we can get him for the veterans minimum it would be great. Hes a good situational player he doesn’t even have to be in the rotation.

    He’d pay off big time in the playoffs for 4-10 minutes a game when Trevor and/or Kobe are in foul trouble

  96. I also deleted a comment that was a response to one of the comments that Zephid edited. After the edit of the original comment, the response no longer made sense. I hope everyone understands.

    I think with the recent back and forth on the boards it’s easier to delve into areas that diverge from the general tone established at FB&G. None of us are really new, but if anyone reading this is, these are the commenting guidelines that Zephid is referencing:

    http://www.forumblueandgold.com/commenting-guidelines/

  97. Appreciate it, Zephid, Darius. I agree that I don’t think the original comment was meant to be offensive, but a lot of offensive comments aren’t. Best to stick by the rules that Kurt outlined.

    This day must really suck for soccer fans. I’m not a big fan of the sport at all, and I felt that loss hard. I can’t imagine what it must feel like for any U.S. fan who’s spent years rooting their team on, hoping for a finals, and then to be up 2-0….flashes of Game 4 last year, but on a world scale.

    A non-basketball read, but a good on on Dempsey for anyone who’s interested:
    http://msn.foxsports.com/soccer/story/9639322/Dempsey-a-rare-American-soccer-attacker

  98. Snoopy, I’m a pretty big soccer fan. I wouldn’t say the day sucked. In fact, I felt an unexpected and newfound appreciation for USA soccer. Their calm defense, their fearless attack (moreso in the first half). I was really proud of what we did, even though we didn’t win it. Today represents an accomplishment. We not only made it to the finals, but we played with Brazil. That’s not something I could’ve said about USA soccer a few years back.

  99. drrayeye,

    So you’re suggesting that management is willing to lose an average to above-average talent (Farmar) to get rid of an expiring? I guess that makes sense giving the financial situation we’re in, and Jordan’s extension that’s coming up.

    Do you think that Shannon Brown could be extended for less money (comparatively to Farmar) and still play starter (well, split 1-2 with Fisher) minutes over the next couple of season? As in, will he be serviceable, at least? And how much negative PR will the organization face for letting Farmar go once he blossoms in another, more up-tempo system?

  100. Darius – Regarding the guidelines, they seem very reasonable; has Kurt ever found it necessary to ban somebody for consistently violating them?

  101. Reading this thread, I almost feel like everything that’s ever mentioned was just conveniently forgotten.

    You can’t start 5 all stars or near all stars, and even if you do, you can’t win 82 games, period.

    It’s always a matter of matchups, and even if we get Chris Paul, our PG spot will feel inadequate against Deron or Chauncey. So what if Derek is a liability against most PGs; newsflash, every other team’s SG and PF tends to be a liability against Kobe and Pau.

    We don’t NEED to address every weakness in our roster by replacing the person (who only will be an answer like 30~35 minutes a night) but instead must develop chemistry and a defensive system that covers for them. Oh yeah, right, we had that and won the Championship.

    I mean, who wouldn’t like to have a point guard that could make life miserable for the other teams’ point, but we’re already fielding a team that nobody can beat if we can match their intensity, and that’s really more than enough.

  102. Zephid,

    This was a great read; I really am pleased when the last guys on the bench get some acknowledgment. I hope to see all three of them next year helping defend the title.

    However, I do find it a little disconcerting that while praising the hard work by these players to make the team, you decided to compare Anthony Johnson with “two bags of chips”.

    Anthony Johnson has nearly 200 NBA starts in his career, during which he averaged 5 assists per game. Not to mention he stepped up in the 2006 playoffs. In the six game series that his Pacers lost to the Nets he averaged 20ppg, 6rpg, 6apg and shot 51.7% from the field. While defending Jason Kidd, who averaged 8ppg, 10apg, 7.5rpg while shooting 29.2% from the field. I think outplaying Jason Kidd in the playoffs might place you slightly higher than two bags of chips. Oh, and one of those games he had 40 points, something DJ and Josh will probably never do in a playoff game let along a regular season game (not bashing them, whom I like, just being realistic). Sorry to harp on this, I just don’t like when a talented player gets disrespected without any reasoning.

  103. Sorry Zephid. You made a fine first venture into a full post on the site and I had no intention of drawing things away from the topic at hand.

    Does anybody else here just respect the hell out of the Spurs FO? They have been doing it in their own way for about a decade now. They’ve made some mistakes but their solid moves have been super solid. I’m not sure yet how injuries will play a role this season but if all things go well, that is going to be a classic and meaningful WestCon Finals.

  104. R, nobody has ever been outright banned. However, there have been a couple people that after getting basically all of their comments deleted just stopped coming back. I’m loathe to just ban, there are people here whose first comments were deleted but who grew to be some very valuable members of the community.

  105. Also, regarding Farmar: I’m curious what he really wants. Officially he wants to be a Laker and be here forever and yada yada, but deep down does he think he’d be better suited in another system? Or, as he is an LA boy, does he really not want to leave? I don’t know the answer, I imagine only those close to him do, but I’d be curious. I’ll also be curios to see what kind of offers he gets as a restricted free agent a year from now.

  106. I’ll bet that Farmar has a breakout year next season, every-one, of our players in a contract year, play like they have never played before or maybe ever will again. That will be good for the FO, if they are looking to move him with another player to free up money in the payroll for next year’s lux tax. He probably will excel in another type of system, run n’ gun stuff.

    “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; but remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” – Epicurus

  107. Simon,

    You might remember that ShanWOW was originally selected in the same draft year and just before the Lakers selected Jordon. ShanWOW may be a better fit at the triangle oriented Lakers than any where else in the NBA. I think that he will be signed for a reasonable amount on a multiyear contract.

    Jordon, on the other hand, is a natural alpha male lead PG who has clearly been frustrated in his assigned role as a Laker. If he isn’t traded this year, Jordon may end up leaving next year anyway if he gets a decent offer.

    I think that Farmar can be much more high profile with another team as a true point guard if he goes to the right place.

    ShanWOW may start next year as the #2 guard, with Jordon #3. If that happens, Farmar’s long term future with the Lakers is much in doubt.

  108. Robinson won’t command nearly as much in salary, but his popularity as an electrifying 5-9 guard and two-time Slam Dunk champion could be valuable as an attraction in some small markets. According to one league source, the Lakers inquired about Robinson’s availability after his 33-point performance at the Staples Center on Dec. 16. Kobe Bryant has expressed adoration for Robinson and owner Jerry Buss was said to be smitten after that game.

    http://weblogs.newsday.com/sports/basketball/knicks/blog/2009/06/its_early_but_still_one_of_the.html

    what do you guys think?

  109. 104, S. Nicholson. Point taken. In all honestly, one could’ve viewed that trade as 3 bags of trash for two bags of chips, considering Josh Powell is an 11th man, Darrell Armstrong was at the end of his career, and Rawle Marshall now plays for Lokomotiv Rostov. In that way, two bags of chips doesn’t seem so bad, right?

    105, P. Ami, no prob dude.

    Re: Farmar, I have a feeling he really really really really wants to be a starter. He just seems like such a brash, confident (arrogant?), young guy that he can’t be content to be a back-up. I also feel like we’ll have a strong bounce back year from Farmar this coming year, but whether he’ll be our starter going forward will depend on how much he bounces back. I once (rather idiotically in retrospect) compared Farmar to a young Tony Parker, but I’ve given up on that dream due to Farmar’s dramatic fall from grace. At this point, Rafer Alston-lite would be a good improvement, but as we’ve all stated, we do need to begin to look elsewhere.

    Also, I wonder how Morrison feels about Farmar, considering Farmar basically single-handedly ruined Morrison’s last NCAA tournament (with the steal that led to the game-winning bucket).

  110. Admittedly this is an extremely small sample size, but when Farmar started for Fish in game 2 of the Rockets series I think we saw the Farmar that could be our starting PG of the future. I thought that game his aggression was harnessed without being out of control, and he picked the right times to push the pace.

    Maybe playing with the starters reined in his worse characteristics – when he plays as a member of the Bench Mob it almost feels like he needs to be “the guy” and do too much.

  111. while the triangle doesn’t require the small speedy “true” pG and we’ve seen our best success with the Ron Harper/Derek Fisher 6’4″ types…
    don’t forget that we still need a small speedy PG for defense on the Tony Parkers of the league.

  112. ric bucher over @ espn hinting that the lakers are interested in signing jkidd.. wow. after reading the salary cap faq posted @ SSNR i *think* he can sign for the veteran’s minimum.. interesting..

  113. im a bit miffed by the sudden rumours about kidd, surely we need to look for a point guard of the future, I dont see how kidd would be an improvement over fish in the triangle

  114. I have a strong gut feeling that Farmar will bounce back big this year. With a 3rd PG for competition, most fans essentially giving up on him, and in some ways, a great deal of pressure being relieved (no great expectations), I think (hope?) that Farmar will have a 09-10 year more along the lines of what we were expecting this year. I’m probably just stupidly optimistic.

    adrian – I’d be afraid how Robinson would affect the chemistry. I think we have a strong enough locker room to control his personality, but do you take that risk as a championship team?

    If I play mind-reader, I think I agree with dr. Farmar’s openly clashed with Phil, and I think he does feel constrained in his role here. There are fastbreak teams that would love a new PG, so I’m sure he’ll get plenty of offers. Like Zephid said, unless he bounces back huge and rips the starting job away from Fish, I can’t see him being here long term. He’s close with Luke and I’m sure he loves the actual players and chemistry, but if he doesn’t get a bigger role I think he’ll become frustrated enough to bolt. He’s a young player with the talent to thrive in another system, and he knows it.

  115. You asked for some input on your first post.

    This was an interesting read. Even if I do or do not agree with all the basketball points you made, your style was engaging and the research you did on a few players on the end of the bench was intriguing.

    I would suggest breaking up those long paragraphs and tightening them up to be about a main point, because it can get fatiguing reading long boxy blocks of text.

    Otherwise, I would have never guessed you hadn’t written about the Lakers before on this blog.

  116. Wow… great debate guys. Glad to see people are starting to think. I just want everyone to have an open mind. Its basketball… people don’t need to get so defensive. Im glad most of us all agree that Fisher isn’t very good. I just spoke to Jalen Rose at Bar Marmont on Saturday night and he said the same… “Fisher isn’t a starting NBA PG anymore, but Farmar definitely isn’t and Brown may or may not be. What the Lakers should be doing is trying to bring in one via free agency or making a trade.” FYI… he was a really nice guy. Also… yes the Lakers won a championship… but you need to get better if you’re an NBA team. Most teams that win don’t win the next year. You need to keep improving your talent. All I am saying is that the team should be trying to upgrade at their weakest spot…. the PG position. Mitch at leats publicly said a few days ago that he won’t be trying to do that until next off season when Fisher retires. I believe he would like to upgrade the spot now but Buss has his hands tied.

    Speaking of Jerry Buss… He sold Lakers draft picks! If the 5 million bucks he saved is going to make a difference than he shouldn’t be owning the team. If he is walking that fine of a line on his budget then he shouldn’t be owning an NBA team. This is the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers gross the most amount of any franchise in professional basketball and just won an NBA championship.

  117. I don’t think Jalen Rose is a very good source of NBA knowledge…

  118. What about Chad Ford, Marc Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy, Ric Bucher, John Hollinger, Marc Stein, J.A. Adande,Chris Sheridan, Chris Broussard and
    David Thorpe? All of those NBA Analysts have said in some way or form over the last couple months that Derek Fisher is done.

  119. It always makes me chuckle when people say things like “people are starting to think” when they are shown there is some things they agree on, but people don’t think when you disagree with them. The level of thought never changes, just the perception.

  120. Kurt,
    I said people are starting to think because there was a discussion where two sides were being represented by many different people.

  121. Just a random note for Zephid on Congolese history: The President Mbenga’s father worked for, Mobutu Sese Seko, was a CIA-backed dictator who lorded over the Congo for over 30 years. Laurent Kabila might have been a Marxist, but Mobutu wasn’t exactly a charming character himself.