Final Notes from Vegas

Kurt —  July 18, 2009

KINGS - Bucks
As the Lamar Odom saga unfolds, here is one reminder — nobody tells a reporter something without a motive. For example, the Jim Hill exclusive that Lamar Odom called Dr. Buss (which I’m sure happened), who would benefit from that being leaked? Odom would: The Lakers said Buss was angry they got no response at all to their offer, the way to counter that with PR is to not only make the call but leak that you made the call. We have no idea what actually was said on that call, by the way. Read Stein’s ESPN piece and he is clearly getting info from the Odom camp (including an inflated savings number on state income tax). Read Turner at the LA Times or Teaford at the Daily News and they are clearly plugged into the Lakers front office.

As I said before, in the end the Lakers and Odom need each other to get any kind of deal done that makes everyone happy (I still just don’t think he settles for a full MLE offer, and the Lakers don’t want him to go for nothing). They will be talking again because, at the end of the day, they have no choice.

• Rumor here in Vegas is the Lakers are going to offer Chinemelu Elonu and Tony Gaffney invites to training camp. Neither really has any chance to make the roster, but a camp invite is a good way to get noticed. I would love for the Lakers to find a way to keep Gaffney in their system; he has a world of potential athletically and has a great work ethic. He was slowed here in Vegas due to injury, but showed some flashes in the Lakers last game and people in the know are high on him. He’s the kind of guy who starts the season as the 14th man and by the end is getting regular minutes. He is going to be a fan favorite somewhere next year.

• Tyreke Evans could develop into a good NBA PG. He is long and quick for the position, and that could make him a good NBA defender. Something he showed flashes of here — he has caused problems for guys with his length changing shots and deflecting passes. He has a good first step on offense. The first few games it was if he forgot how to pass — at one point at the end of a close game he came down the court five straight possessions and never gave the ball up — but by Friday he was doing a better setting up teammates especially on penetration. Still some things to work on, like finishing among the NBA trees, but that should come.

Craftsteak at the MGM is amazing.

• The two bigs the Kings drafted, Casspi and Brockman, could turn out to be decent bench minute guys. Casspi really battles, particularly on the offensive boards. Needs some bulk but the fire is there and he has a nice outside shot.

• Jordan Hill, the Arizona product taken by the Knicks (after Curry was taken, crushing the hopes of Knicks fans) may be a good NBA power forward, or may be a bust, but we won’t know for a while. He doesn’t operate well in a crowd, but showed flashes in space. He needs to develop a jumper and a consistent passion for rebounding. Simply put, it will be two years before we really know if that was a good pick of not. That shouldn’t be a problem though, the fans in New York are renowned for their patience.

to Final Notes from Vegas

  1. So what will Doom Alarm earn for leaking that he called Buss?


  2. +1 on Craftsteak. We go there every time we’re in Sin City.


  3. Craftsteak is most definitely on point!


  4. j. d. hastings’s Agent July 18, 2009 at 11:50 am

    its interesting looking at who talks to whom. The Lakers might focus on the local guys because whatever happens to LO, the team and writers will still have a relationship, while players with the potential for moving may go towards the national guys because those relationships aren’t local…


  5. I really love Gaffney, I hope the Lakers do send him an invite. I liked Monds as well, but I guess there are only so many guys you can send out invitations to.


  6. 4. Aaron, the real business of Summer League is twofold: 1) Getting players and teams matched up in Europe, there are more scouts and team managers from Europe trying to pick up guys than NBA guys, every team has 12 guys on it and 2-3 usually end up on an NBA roster, the rest are trying to get a D-League or European contract; 2) It’s like an NBA convention, rarely are that many GMs/scouts/agents/coaches in one place and in such an informal setting where you can just have casual conversations with people off the record. I got to put faces to people I dealt with online, got to meet a few new people.

    For the NBA fan, there are only a couple teams that are of interest. The Clippers had all their young players there to run with Griffin so they could get used to him. They rolled out 4/5 of a legit NBA lineup (Taylor, Gordon, Griffin and Jordan, throw Thorton in at the three and you can and should see that lineup some this season). The Kings had five guys that will be on the fall roster. But for the most part, Aaron is right, there is not that much to see for NBA fans.

    Oh, and it is insanely hot.


  7. if you love a good steak, go to Strip Steak in the Mandaly bay, it’s not cheap, but is amazing, the closest to n actual kobe beef steak outside Japan.


  8. I agree with you about Tony Gaffney. I actually think he’ll make the roster once the Lakers waive Sun Yue.


  9. Actually having the LO situation to ponder makes this time of year less boring for me. If LO was already signed the Lakers would be locked and loaded with no interesting twists or options left to discuss.
    If I were LO’s agent I would suggest the following approach to try to satisfy both the lakers and the need to feel special and wanted that all athletes (at least when they’re being honest about it) have. The Lakers have reportedly offered up to 10 million per for a three year period. That’s the correct ego dollar amount for the negotiation with Lamar, but not long enough to satisfy his insecurity about where and how his career will end. I would suggest that both sides consider a contract going five years starting at 12mil the first year and going down 2mil each year thereafter, so 12m, 10m, 8m, 6m, 4m a total of 40mil over a five year contract. The first year at first glance seems like a tough one for the Lakers to swallow, but take into account that Morrison will be traded to one of the remaining under the cap teams as soon as his contract is past the halfway point of the year (at that point for luxury tax reasons if we include up to three million in cash and a 2nd round pick the receiving team makes a few hundred thousand in profit on the deal but the Lakers will save approx. 3mil.) Now I know the Lakers were hoping to just reap the savings on Morrison’s contract themselves, but by using it as an offet for LO’s initial 12 million they put themselves in a much better position in the out year of the contract and each subsequent year the Laker’s are in a better cap and trade positon vis a vis Lamar.
    See if we didn’t have Lamar to talk about there would be nothing to chat about except meaningless summer league games.


  10. I hope we can keep Odom, does anybody feels this offseason’s looks like the 1985’s when Lakers champion team lost Mc Adoo & Wilkes?


  11. From previous post:

    Looking at the immediate and near financial future, both of the Lakers and the NBA, I’d be forced to be pessimistic. Looking at this year’s Laker NBA championship, I’d find it difficult not to be optimistic about the immediate future.

    It creates some contradictory expectations in salary negotiations–especially as team salaries rise into the range of luxury tax hell–where busness decisions begin to distort basketball decisions.

    For next year, having Lamar back even at a luxury tax busting level seems reasonable. For each year that follows, the apparent risk rises and the reward goes down.

    Given the realities and proven contract agreements for this year, the value of individual players as free agents has dropped precipitously. Lamar Odom is currently worth no more than the MLE on today’s market for this year–and maybe not even that much. However, to keep him part of the Laker team next year, we might be willing to offer Lamar as much as $10 million for one year–though we would prefer less.

    Now there is year 2, 3, 4, etc. . . . . .

    These are not so clear as the risk goes up and the reward goes down. In the Lakers case, there are structural issues which are not in Lamar’s favor downstream. Under those circumstances, the MLE for five years may be too risky.

    If it were me, I would not offer more than 3 years.


  12. I like that “they have no choice” line. It makes me feel better about this situation and the Lakers better re-sign Odom.


  13. I believe Hill will be a good NBA PF as he has all the raw tools to do so. good touch, length, strength, speed. However he has not played basketball very long and is still needing to develop a better feel for the game.

    however if you watched him him aty Arizona for the three years you were there something major stand out. He probably doubled to tripled in skill level and ability every year. His learning curve is so fast its scary.

    Example Freshman year and most of sophmore year he did not have a hook shot or jump shot. By Junior year he was achieving both regularly including running hooks and fade aways up to 10 feet.

    Kurt is right in is inability to function in a crowed which is why he tends to actually do better against teams with a dominanmt post player. But he struggles against teams that would crowd him in the post. I believe with more playing time this will change and he willa t least become an 18 and 10 guy


  14. Morrison, Gaffney, and possibly Elonu will be on the roster for next year. I think that Morrison and Gaffney will definitely be there. Gaffney is a tough defender, and Morrison showed signs of being a good scorer at the next level. I hope that Morrison can translate this into the season. Thoughts?


  15. Mike Penberthy July 19, 2009 at 12:18 am

    Finally somebody who understands what i brought to that championship team.


  16. It’d be nice to see Kobe step up in LO’s defense like Wade has. The fact he hasn’t, when LO is his best title shot for the next few years, suggests that he’s siding with management on this one (he’s not really against pressuring the Lakers, if you know what I mean). Think Buss & Mitch convinced him to stay out? Why would he listen? What does Kobe’s silence mean to Lamar?


  17. I think that Kobe might realize the long term impacts of a Lamar deal for longer than three years/30mil. If he’s seen as siding with Lamar or management, he might undermine one or the other party. He’s said publicly that he wants Lamar back but that Lamar should do what’s best for him and his family. I think that’s pretty much word for word what Wade said to Lamar. What more do you want?


  18. leroi, Kobe is already on record for having called LO and having told him how much he cares about him and wants him to stay. This was what got out to the public, I’m pretty sure Kobe has had private talks with management about next season’s roster and particularly about Odom (and probably Shannon Brown before he was signed) as well. Kobe has lauded Kupchak and guys numerous times since the Gasol trade and everything after that, saying that he trusts them completely. I’m sure both sides talk on the big issues like LO, although maybe not about Sun Yue and Gaffney like we do.


  19. Kurt,

    You said:

    “As I said before, in the end the Lakers and Odom need each other to get any kind of deal done that makes everyone happy (I still just don’t think he settles for a full MLE offer, and the Lakers don’t want him to go for nothing). They will be talking again because, at the end of the day, they have no choice.”

    I agree. One interpretation of Lamar’s telephone conversation with Buss might have been to see whether or not the Lakers would consider an offer to participate in a sign and trade–and/or to indicate that he would.

    Riles is already substantially into the luxury tax and may prefer a sign and trade over a MLE for Lamar. I believe that the Heat could offer the Lakers Beasley and a trade exception for Lamar–or some combination of players in a more complex trade.

    Or–Lamar might have indicated a willingness to finally give the Lakers his promised homer discount to stay a Laker for next year–or some other concession to remain a Laker.

    Who knows?


  20. Why in the world would odom pick a 5-yr deal for the MLE over a 9mil per? He would be making more money in less yrs! is he worried about no one signing him after 3 yrs? Im sure he will be worth the vets minimum after that, at least at more than 1.5mil per. I guess his agent just got embarrassed at Mr. Buss calling their bluff and is trying to save face and still playing hardball. What an idiot for asking for more years when they had an agreement at 9mil per for 3yrs. Odom should fire his agent for creating this mess. the lakers are already showing a lot of love and overpaying an inconsistent 6th man. His career will be extended playing for the LA as he can be his inconsistent self in the reg season, then step on the gas come playoff time


  21. @Leroi 19: It’s curious that Kobe hasn’t even offered up an opinion. You can read that as him siding with management OR you can assume, like many of us do, that it means he’s supremely confident a deal will get done and that he’s not sweating it.


  22. Kurt,

    can you please shut that “Championship Video Preview” from auto-playing everytime you visit your website? It’s quite annoying!


  23. 23,

    I second that request.


  24. PLEASE get rid of the “Championship Video Preview” if it is going to continue to automatically play whenever I come to the site. It’s a major deterrent any time I think about clicking on my bookmark for the front page.


  25. Off-topic, but during the season we were really getting into haikus. There are some awesome basketball ones by Bengtson over at Three for All.

    My favorites so far:

    Dwyane Wade:
    Fall down seven times
    Miss the rest of the season
    Maybe work on that

    Hey Mr. Big Shot
    Why just one championship?
    Shots not big enough?

    Fifty or sixty?
    Your new guaranteed contract
    Buys lots of hair gel

    Chris Paul:
    Best since Isiah?
    Scorer who runs the offense
    Scared of nobody

    Caron Butler:
    Serving of Tough Juice
    Ain’t never from concentrate
    Fresh for you daily


  26. 16,18 I remember you from Hoover high in Fresno. You guys beat my Edison Tigers in the NYL championship…


  27. I will turn off the video. But I’m traveling back from Vegas right now and can’t make the change freom my phone. Once I get home.


  28. 7,
    I like how Craftsteak got a few comments. Your fans need to know who took you there as you are too cheap to pay yourself.


  29. just right click on video and change autoplay setting…


  30. I think the press stating that Odom reached out to Buss is an indication that he takes the 4 year deal (with 3 and a partial 4th guaranteed) this week. He can make more money and stay on a team that will likely have a shot at another 1-2 rings in the next 3 years. Get him signed!


  31. Kobe tweets that Lamar will announce decision tomorrow (via Lakersblog).

    Timing mostly makes sense. Think about the transaction stripped of the angst. Lakers have inventive to offer the least they can without insulting LO. They offer short years that compete with MLE offers from no-tax states. At this point the Lakers want to offer this and no more unless LO gets a better offer. S&T is undesirable unless there is a knockout deal.

    LO wants to get a better offer so the Lakers can match. Thus there was never going to be movement until Portland said no to LO. Now that Milsap is matched, it’s become clear that POR doesn’t want LO. Thus LO needs to make up his mind now. Who can predict what will happen? But it seems like all the cards are stacked towards LO staying in a place where he can ball without putting up big numbers.

    I’ll be glad to have this settled one way or another.


  32. 32. Larry, this isn’t like the old days when we could barely afford Mortons save that it was less than you and I were losing at the tables (largely because you are the black hole of luck at blackjack tables). I’m far from rich, but now I can afford to lose and still go out for a nice dinner.

    (PS. Larry is one of my oldest and best friends, so ignore anything he says.)


  33. It was confirmed the Kobe Twitter account was a fake


  34. @24, Odom wanting a longer deal and the Lakers wanting a shorter deal makes more sense when you consider:

    1. Odom was consistently inconsistent for years.
    2. Odom played a lot better in his contract year.
    3. Odom has a history of being busted smoking weed.
    4. Odom still eats more than a pound of candy a day.
    5. The Lakers are aware and interested in adjusting for 1-4.
    6. The Lakers are already over the luxury tax.
    7. The Lakers have a championship team they’d like to keep together (sans Trevor).
    8. The luxury tax is likely to go down the next few years.

    Mix all the above, blend with summer, and top with a few stories from LA Times, ESPN, and Twitter.


  35. The Dude Abides July 20, 2009 at 7:05 am

    I think the Lakers could re-sign Lamar if they add a guaranteed fourth year at $7 million to their 3 yr/$27m offer. That would still make the deal something that other teams would be less able to match, while that amount for the fourth year would be more palatable to the team than $9 million.


  36. interesting sidenote.. nba/laker fans have voted

    interest in
    summer league (41)
    free-agent rumors (358)

    pwned. 🙂


  37. Kurt,

    You hit the nail on the head in your 1st paragraph.

    I’m so tired of reading about this, but I’m just a little bit glad we have something to talk about. Just a year ago, we were discussing whether or not LO should get traded. Now we’re tuning in to see if he’s signed already.

    It’s good to see the NBA stay in the news like the NFL does in their off-season.

    Here’s a haiku:

    The Summer of Lamar
    A prelude to LeBron’s
    Wrong place, wrong time


  38. does Buss even want to pay Lamar 3/27M at this point? maybe he has soured on that.


  39. Use to be when I was a teenager, that after the Lakers would win a championship (in the 80’s) I had the entire summer to relish their victory. Nowadays, its more like 14 days before all hell breaks loose and our roster begins to change dramatically. How I long for the “good ol days”.

    On a different topic, why is it that because LO is the last to sign or not sign, they always say that because the Lakers are over the salary cap they are in luxury tax territory. Don’t all the players salaries count towards hitting the cap number, I know the answer but it seems that the last guy to sign gets that label.


  40. Today’s Laker French Lesson:

    “J’en ai marre !” =

    “I’ve had it!”

    I’ll be back posting once Lamargate has mercifully reached it’s conclusion. I can’t take this prolonged drama anymore.

    You guys are the best! Hopefully I’ll be back soon!

    Laker Kev


  41. Nash just signed an extension for $11 per year. LO does not have the league-wide value of Nash (whether justified or not is a separate matter). Nash took a hometown discount. In view of this news, shouldn’t LO be happy with $9 per for 3 years?


  42. I believe that the Lakers have already moved from Plan A (sign Lamar) to Plan B (expect him to walk without compensation), while considering whether to go back to Plan A or on to Plan C.

    At this point, I don’t think that Lamar has any offers (not even from the Heat), and suddenly realizes how vulnerable he remains as an unsigned free agent.

    If Lamar manages to revive talks with the Lakers, he may be offered no more than 3 years near the MLE–or a longer termdeal structured somewhat like the contract with Artest.

    If Lamar gets more specific with the Heat, we are likely to get into Plan C (sign and trade) rather quickly.


  43. Sir Helin,

    Since you won’t answer me on Twitter, I’ll just have to ask the question here:

    Does anyone have any idea what happened to Kobe 24-8? Did it move? Was it removed by ESPN a la LeBron and Nike?

    Sorry if there was a big hullabaloo about it, and I didn’t hear. I don’t venture into the Comments section much. Thank you for all the help.


  44. 49. I miss it too, but it’s down for now. It’s far from my place to talk about Dex’s decisions and motives, but there are reasons for the change.


  45. New post with an old, classic Lamar video up, just for fun.


  46. Nice one Kurt, nothing wrong with a bit of classic action!