Notes from the Summer League

Kurt —  July 13, 2009

NBA: FEB 17 Hawks at Lakers
First, regarding the news on Odom that Mitch Kupchak said the Lakers are more pessimistic about a deal. If I were the Lakers and I went to Odom and upped my offer to $8.5 mil (the number I heard here at Summer League) and he took his sweet time making a decision, I would be a little disappointed. And I might well try a little negotiating through the media to get my point across. Simply put, Odom is not getting a better offer anywhere at this point, so if he wants to wait out the Portland/Utah thing, go ahead. I think the Lakers are done negotiating.


I spent the Lakers game sitting between David Thorpe and Mike Moreau (both of IMG and ESPN) so anything that follows and sounds vaguely smart, assume it came from them:

• The bottom line with Adam Morrison, I’m not sure he becomes the regular rotation guy some hoped.

When he just spots up and shoots from three, Morrison is deadeye. He has a very pretty little stepback shot from the baseline 10-feet out, and made that move other spots. When he plays within that role, doing those things, he was good.

When he put the ball on the floor though, it was an adventure. And he likes to drive. His decision making was spotty — he had Eric Gordon on him but consistently tried to go off the dribble and try to finish in the paint rather then use the step back to shoot over him and use his height. Morrison does not finish well off the drive. If he put on some weight, I could see him posting up some smaller threes then using the step back to shoot over them. But he is thin and could not move (the strong) Eric Gordon around.

The question is can Morrison mentally adjust and do the things he needs to at the NBA level? Can he spend a quarter and a half on the bench then come out and drain two threes in 45 seconds? Can he be a guy who can exploit specific matchups and just accept the minutes when he gets them? If he can, he will be fine as a10-minutes a night, off the bench gunner. I’m not sure he’s going to be much more than that. I’ll see him again tomorrow, maybe I will feel differently.

• The Clippers were a tough test — at one point they had a lineup of Eric Gordon and Mike Taylor in the back court, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan with just one guy you don’t know (Nik Caner-Medley, who has been playing in the Summer League since it was in Long Beach). That is a lineup they can basically run out comfortably in the season.

• Blake Griffin is the real deal. Amazingly strong and balanced in the post and in the air. He finishes strong at the rim. He drained a three and clearly has been working on his shot since the last public workout. He got a rebound, dribbled it coast-to-coast and finished with a spin move. He finished with 27 and 12 (although against suspect competition). I’d say there was no way they could screw this up if it were any other franchise.

• Chinemelu Elonu is not going to be playing for the Lakers.

• For those of you who were high on Rodrigue Beaubois — You were right. Much better in person than expected. Absolutely lighting quick off the dribble, can shoot the three, and most impressively made really smart decisions. Not just me saying that, I was standing next to a front office guy (not Lakers) who was saying “We didn’t know he could shoot like that.”

• The other underafted (he went 56th) guy on the Mavs roster I liked was Ahmad Nivins, who had a great season at St. Joseph’s but still flew under the radar. Great hops and energy, I could see him as a bench energy four in the Ronny Turiaf mold, but with less strength and better handles.

to Notes from the Summer League

  1. Kurt,

    Is the feeling around the Lakers and the league that Morrison is a pretty self aware kind of guy and has the work ethic to implement the things you’ve mentioned?

    Even when he was dominating in college, I never thought he’d be anything more than a specialist off the bench. But if he can be that 10 minutes a game sniper with that dead eye, there’s certainly a role for him in most teams, I’d guess.

    Most backups have limitations but having that one great skill and he does have a height advantage against most backup SFs, he could be effective. His public persona seems humble enough to take coaching and have a good work ethic too.

    Just wondering why he can’t fill a similar role to what VladRad has done. Not as many minutes but a shooter off the bench as you say.


  2. PeanutButterSpread July 13, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    LAMAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙁

    Please sign the deal and save yourself from grief.


  3. I’m uncomfortable with the prolonged negotiation, but it’s due diligence. Either way, I still believe that he will end up signing with the Lakers.


  4. Anyone see that Orlando matched the Gortat offer? That team is pretty ridiculous now..



  5. The Dude Abides July 13, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    4. Ryan Anderson is a quality PF/SF as well, and the team also signed Brandon Bass. Anderson is a deadeye shooter, and Bass is a quality PF. I think Orlando starts out next season as the #1 team in the East.

    The Spurs are the top challenger to the Lakers in the West, but I think we dodged a bullet when Gortat’s deal got matched. Dallas was poised to trade Dampier to Milwaukee for Michael Redd, which would have given the Cubans a lineup of:

    C Gortat, Nowitzki
    PF Nowitzki, Marion
    SF Marion, Josh Howard, Redd
    G Kidd, Redd, Terry, Barea

    That could have been a better Top 8 than San Antonio’s.



    LO on negotiations…couldn’t hear it cause my wife’s playing piano, I’ll get around to it in the AM…
    what do you think?

    I told you, he would be at tonights DVD release, and could not avoid the questions.
    I did think he’d be signed though, so I was wrong on that account.


  7. Artest – “At the end of the day, if you can’t live on $33 million, then you can’t live.”

    Lamar… Come on buddy, make it work.


  8. it’s frustrating to fans and the FO but I think Lamar is doing the right thing. it’s not like the situation with Trevor where’s there an Artest out there willing to sign for the same money. Lamar’s option is really down to one but the Lakers basically have no option except to do without a high quality big guy off the bench. and his agent is not David Lee so there’s less chance of an epic fail.

    now if Lamar’s option goes by the wayside, will the Lakers then turn around and drop the offer to 7 or 6M? that could get ugly.



    according to the Times, Lakers have increased the offer to “north of $9M” and they are not happy it didn’t get it done, they go on to say Dr Buss is ready to take the offer off the table.

    it’s looking to me, as a casual observer, that we might ought to be thinking of what options the Lakers might have.

    how exactly could a sign and trade work? is that an option for the team? just curious.
    what do we want? a back up who can play the 4 or the 5, right?
    I know LO brings a lot more versataility, but he was also maddeningly inconsistent, good and bad, what are our options?


  10. We are not going down the “who can we trade LO for” road. The negotiations are at the point where the Lakers are pressuring LO top sign fast and he is looking for any last bit of leverage to get more $. A sign and trade is a big leap from there.

    1. J, I don’t know if he can make the mental transition, but we will find out in the next couple of years (wherever he plays).


  11. Morrison was playing his 3rd game in 4 nights, against a team with fresh legs and much more overall talent. Plus, he supposedly still hasn’t fully recovered from his knee surgery.

    I haven’t watched any of the summer league games, but I imagine that tonight’s game might not be the best indicator of his future in the NBA. On the other hand, his lack of success since being drafted doesn’t suggest much reason to expect that he’ll blossom.


  12. Actually Ahmad was drafted, he went 56th. And yeah, he had an awesome season here at St. Joe’s — he carried the team by getting a double-double every night on the floor


  13. Lamar might be inconsistent when it comes to scoring points but his defense and rebounding have been outstanding. And he’s still the best passing big in the league.

    Additionally, he accepted his 6th man gig even though he wasn’t too happy about it at the time.

    AND the dude focused on basketball and stayed in shape when his family situation was really bad.


  14. Here’s hoping that Adam can be a 10-minute whenever-called-upon guy off the bench for the Lakers, I like his long range abilities.

    I know its the ‘art of the deal’ with the LO negotiations, but I just wish that he would be true to his word and sign.


  15. Here’s hope this LO downer is just the other side of the coin of the mindgames played to squeeze the last dollar out of a deal. I am convinced Lamar will be a Laker fighting for a ring in 2010 and beyond.


  16. Dude, I forgot about Bass, who always seems to kill the Lakers- something about undersized, powerful 4s.

    But if that Redd thing is true, then Dallas would have indeed been a legitimate challenger. However, the Lakers always seem to be able to limit Dirk, whether it be Lamar or Pau who matches up with him, and Kobe consistently kills the Mavs. It should be interesting to see what the Cube does from here.

    As for the Magic, one of the keys to that Finals matchup was our dominance physically inside, whether it was Pau and Odom beating up on Rashard, Luke posting, Kobe posting, even Ariza physically beasting Hedo. With Bass and the resigning of Gortat (who is really good- mobile, skilled, and big), that advantage is pretty much mitigated and may even swing the other way, depending on Drew’s health/mentality. Of course, the addition of Artest is definitely not a step down in terms of physicality.

    Getting ahead of ourselves quite a bit here, I think the key matchup in a potential Magic-Lakers rematch next year is at the 1. A healthy Jameer would eat up both Fisher (too old) and Farmar (too weak- always gets killed by guards like Jameer, Deron, Chauncey), leaving the resigned Shanwow as the key (I think Shannon matches up physically with any pg in the league). Vince vs. Kobe would be awesome to watch. As would Dwight v healthy Bynum, Bass v Pau (a study in contrasts), Rashard v Odom, Rashard v Artest.

    The thing about this new Magic roster is that there are so many options, especially in teh frontcourt, for SVG, which may or may not be a good thing. For example, does he continue to start Rashard at the 4 or move Bass there (plus minutes for Gortat in Orlando’s own version of the Twin Towers) and stick Rashard at the 3. It probably depends on the matchup and, against the Lakers, with our length and size inside the key in this year’s finals, I could see SVG going big, making Artest v. Rashard a very interesting matchup.


  17. lamar could also end up screwing himself over w/ his strategy. considering that the lakers aren’t in a bidding war w/ any other team (as far as anyone knows), they could just drop the offer back down to the $7M/yr range and lamar wouldn’t be able to do a thing about it. i know lamar’s just trying to get as much money as he can, but he has to realize that the size of the contract on the table is out of laker courtesy, not necessity.


  18. If the Lakers offered Lamar more than $8 million over three years, they offered too much. We’ve entered another Sasha type negotiation–the Lakers negotiate upward with themselves–in this case for a player that no other team wants (at least publicly) for even an MLE as a free agent.

    Rather than showing gratitude, and mentioing his Laker discount, Lamar expresses frustration for not getting the $10 million 5 year “respect” he deserves. He seems to be pulling a Trevor.

    Not far down the line, even at $8 million, the Lakers will neither have flexibility to trade Lamar, nor the funds to bring in other role players to add depth to the team.

    I guess we’re in a lose-lose.


  19. selfish greedy players…

    Trevor will regret leaving

    and so will Lamar.


  20. Lamar has zero options. Portland doesn’t want to pay him $8+ million and OKC is still a couple years away from paying big free agent money. There are no other teams with money under the cap. Plus, Artest is here and if they are really close friends, that has to play a huge role in his decision making process (along with the fact that he just won a ring!).

    If I was the Lakers FO, I would give him 24 hours to sign the $8.5 and let him know it will go down progressively each day. His agent has to understand that the Lakers are not going to just hand needless money over (ala Orlando), that is not their style. Does he really want to repeat the Ariza debacle?


  21. 17 Jon “As for the Magic, one of the keys to that Finals matchup was our dominance physically inside..with Bass and the resigning of Gortat, that advantage is pretty much mitigated and may even swing the other way.”

    Gortat was on their team this year who could not defend Gasol and Bass is an undersized power forward who relies on jumpers. Ryan Anderson can be exploited in the post. If anything, they got weaker inside with the loss of Battie. I guess there wasn’t much of a market for banger big men, but getting Anderson and Bass doesn’t help their situation matching up with us inside. Plus, we got Artest, no more hiding Redick on Ariza.


  22. i wonder if it’s not just the financial aspect that’s getting in the way of sealing the deal, but also playing time? maybe he wants to be “the man” somewhere else and not a 6th man? i dunno, just wildly speculating.


  23. also, arron afflalo traded to the nugs. This could give them a more defensive-minded 2 to replace dahntay jones (hopefully with less thuggery)


  24. Orlando is spending money as if Dwight Howard were Lebron James. Is Gortat worth it in the long run? He’s certainly not the piece that will put them over the top. They can load their roster with midlevel talent all they want, but the only thing that’s going to put them over the top is Dwight Howard becoming a go-to option on offense.

    Lakers/Magic could be a more intriguing match up next year than Lakers/Cavs or Lakers/Celtics. At least in terms of competitiveness.


  25. 23. The Afflalo pickup in my eyes is, best case for the Nuggets, a wash as compared to their 2009 roster.

    16. I agree with you about SB. He got his contract because the Lakers FO sees him as the solution to stopping Chauncey, Jameer, CP3. And it’s nice that he’s not an offensive black hole like Smush was.


  26. I think that Orlando is recognizing that it has multiple opportunities here, as not just a team but as an organization.

    Not only do they have a window to make some runs at Championships, but they also have a chance to gather some national fans in the Haves vs. Have Nots climate that seems to be shaping up for the next few seasons.

    Certainly, watching their run in the playoffs this year made me more interested in watching them long term. Howard is a special player, and surrounding him with top talent brings the Magic from “I really should do chores and not watch basketball” up to “Oh, the Magic are on? Turn the game on.” status.

    Really, we have Orlando, Cleveland and Boston in the East, and Dallas, San Antonio, Denver and Los Angeles in the West.

    Beyond those teams, you get to a bunch of “Who Dat?” and not a lot of interest in watching.

    Now is the right time to spend your money if you are an owner that has it.


  27. The Dude Abides July 14, 2009 at 7:59 am

    drrayeye, the LA Times article says that the Lakers have offered LO three years at over $9 million per. They upped the offer from $8.5 million per year. I would imagine that they will tell LO’s agent that they will pull that offer off the table by the end of the week. Portland can only offer $7.7 million per if Utah matches the Millsap offer, OKC is too far from the beach, and Miami can only offer the MLE. It’s time for LO to sign.


  28. Everyone knows my stance on LO, so I won’t repeat it now. But, at this point, even I just want to see a resolution. Things rarely go well with the Lakers when negotiations start to leak to the public. I really want LO back. But we’re playing summer league games and almost every credible free agent has now agreed to terms. I’ve never minded LO exploring the market, and I’m sure that his agent is looking into every option available. I’m sure at the point that the Lakers were offering 7 mil, that Odom was even quietly thinking about playing in states with no income tax (Texas, Florida) as a mid-level offer from a team in one of those states would almost make up for the higher income tax rate in CA on his salary. But if the Lakers really are north of 9 million at this point, that’s making LO a very well compensated player with a salary that really can’t be matched in any way by another team. I’m hopeful LO will see that and agree to terms.


  29. I believe the one issue that is keeping us from finalizing the Lamar deal is contract length. The Lakers have offered him $8.5m for 3 years = $25.5m. Apparently, the other “serious” offer he is considering is the Heat’s at $6.5m per year for 5 years = $32.5m.

    At 29 years of age, I can see why Lamar does not want to sign a deal that has him becoming a free agent when he’s 32 years old. At that point, he knows the best he could do would be the MLE – and with the CBA being renegotiated next year in a down economy, I’m sure his agent is telling him to lock himself in now for the longest term possible as the MLE is likely to go down.

    But, from the Lakers point of view, the Luke experience taught Mitch and the Busses a lesson and they are unlikely to sign any non-franchise type player to a deal lasting more than 3 years. That’s why I think the Lakers are willing to go to $8.5m, for 3, but do not want to go $6m for 5 years.

    Assuming I’m right about the contract length part, then I wonder why the Lakers don’t meet him halfway and put together a package that guarantees him 3 years but has that has either a team or player options for the 4th year – i.e. $8m for 3 years, and team option for year 4 at $7m OR $8.5m for 3 years and player option for year 4 at $6m.

    Alternatively, and I don’t know if the NBA CBA would allow this, but I wonder if a contract could be structured in a way that he gets $8m for 3 years, then a team option for year 4 at $5, and a player option for year 5 at $5m.

    I don’t care how the deal is structured, but I do hope Lamar and the Lakers can come to terms. I completely understand that Lamar has to do whats best for him, but I really like him as a person and player and that’s why I hope to see him in purple in gold for the next few seasons.


  30. just read over at Hoopsworld that Cuban/Mavs are upset at losing Gortat and now have LO in thier sites.

    guess that puts the “there’s no other team willing or able to make an offer to LO” talk, eh?

    what do you think, LO on the Mavs?


  31. 30. So LO turns down 9M from the Lakers to take the MLE from the Mavs to backup Nowitzky and Marion?


  32. Lamar plays the same position as Dirk so that doesn’t work. I think the Lakers should really be thinking of a plan “B” in case they can’t sign Odom


  33. Article on Truehoop on Lamar and the contract negotiations. It employs some nice modern statistical evidence.


  34. Well at this point I am fine with the FO stance. If the reports are accurate, then we have done more than enough. If LO wants to entertain Dallas then by all means get to steppin’

    I want people on the team who actually want to be here.


  35. MannyP13: “But, from the Lakers point of view, the Luke experience taught Mitch and the Busses a lesson and they are unlikely to sign any non-franchise type player to a deal lasting more than 3 years. ”

    But didn’t they just sign Artest to a 4-year deal with a player option for the 5th?


  36. MannyP13 +1

    I think you hit the nail on the head…he’s worried about contract length. I also think our offer includes declining amounts over time. Nothing stopping that sort of offer in the cba.


  37. 35. That’s the difference between luring a free agent and signing your own players to extensions…


  38. The problem is that there is no plan B for losing Odom. What FA are available for the bi-annual exception or vet minimum that can produce what Odom does, or even a fraction of what Odom does. Powell playing more minutes does not even come close to making up for losing Odom, and neither does Artest. He can’t start at the 3 and play back up PF. WIth Odom the Lakers have the deepest and most versatile front court in the NBA (maybe Boston is close if Garnett is healthy, and Wallace has anything left). Without Odom, Bynum better dramatically improve and everyone better stay healthy.


  39. I guess $8.5 million is not good enough for Odom. $10 million simply isn’t available on the market right now. Portland can’t sign Odom for anything near that amount. I’m not sure what he’s waiting for and it looks like the Lakers have similar thoughts.

    I doubt the Lakers would trade Odom. He has more value to them than to any other team. The Lakers would have to get something substantial in return for that to happen.

    Odom will re-sign in the end.


  40. New post up from Zephid on the Odom negotiations.