Back To The Future With NBA Finances

Kurt —  July 22, 2009

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Finally, the Forum Blue & Gold Special edition Lakers championship T-shirts are here. At the suggestion of sT (one of our regular contributors), the phrase on the back of the shirt comes again from Chick Hearn: “This is your World Champion Lakers basketball network!” (This was always Chick’s station ID when the Lakers were champions.) As with all the shirts, you can change the style of shirt, the color and whatever else you want to make it your own.

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Chris J. sent me a very interesting email about how the financial landscape of the NBA in this economy is a little like turning back the clock. It’s well worth the read for the history and the comparisons to what is happening this summer and for the next few NBA seasons. Enjoy:

As the 2009-2010 season approaches, few would question that current economic conditions will soon bring big changes to the National Basketball Association.

Since the Lakers wrapped up their 15th title a month ago, most NBA fans have been preoccupied with the usual off-season fodder including free agency, the draft and the pros and cons of so many potential off-season trades.

This summer, however, the greater question for Lakers fans involves what role the purple and gold will assume in the forthcoming NBA landscape — and what steps must occur to set our favorite franchise on its desired course over the next several years.

And like it or not, the answer to the question could largely be determined by whether Lamar Odom and the Lakers front office reach an accord.

BACK TO THE FUTURE

When he penned the phrase “What’s past is prologue” nearly 400 years ago, William Shakespeare wasn’t referencing a sport that wouldn’t be invented for another 280 years. But those famous four words could certainly apply when looking ahead to what’s in store for the NBA.

Let’s start with the past, namely the 1980s. People rightly hearken back to that era as the decade of Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Dr. J. But really, a more accurate description would be to term that time the Era of the Superpowers.

Magic had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Byron Scott and Michael Cooper. Bird played alongside greats like Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish and for a brief stint, Bill Walton. Julius Erving ran with Mo Cheeks, Moses Malone, Andrew Toney and later, Charles Barkley. Those teams were far from one-man shows.

From 1980 through 1989, only five franchises made it to the NBA Finals. Think about that for a moment – two teams per year, over the course of 10 years, meant up to 20 different franchises could have potentially filled a Finals slot. But only five were good enough to get there.

And those five teams which were fortunate enough to survive until the Finals did so knowing they’d have another monumental challenge to overcome before they could go home with a championship.

In eight of the 10 Finals played in the 1980s, the winning squad had to beat a team whose core players had already won, or would go on to win an NBA title of their own. Four of the five franchises to play in the Finals that decade won it all at least once; only the Houston Rockets (led by Moses Malone in 1981 and Hakeem Olajuwon/Ralph Sampson in 1986) came away empty.

There were no mismatched Finals; no Davids vs. Goliaths. The Superpowers – the Lakers and Celtics, and to a lesser extent the 76ers and Pistons – made the playoffs their own annual battle royale, with no one team able to consistently remain on top.

By comparison, in the 1990s a total of 11 different franchises made a Finals appearance, and just one champion in that decade took its title at the expense of another past or future champ (the ’91 Bulls, which beat the remnants of the Showtime-era Lakers).

From 2000 through 2009, 11 different franchises again made the Finals, and again, only one (the 2004 Pistons) took its championship by defeating the core of a fellow Finals winner.

(Yes, the 2008 Celtics did defeat a Lakers franchise that had won a title earlier in that decade. But no one would rightfully say the 2008 Lakers were similar to L.A.’s 2000-02 title teams. Aside from Kobe and Fisher, those were completely different units.)

No matter how one slices it, the NBA of the 1980s was much more competitive when it mattered most, with great teams filled with lineups of great players – Hall of Famer players – regularly challenging one another come June.

There’s simply no way to compare that era to the 1990s or 2000s, when a handful of great teams (the Bulls, Shaq-Kobe Lakers and Spurs) took on and slapped aside a revolving door of good teams that were never quite good enough to win a title of their own.

Among the many post-80s pretenders to the throne were the Clyde Drexler-era Trailblazers; Patrick Ewing’s Knicks; the KJ/Barkley Suns; the Gary Payton-era Sonics and Malone/Stockton Jazz; the Mourning/Hardaway-era Heat; and later on, Jason Kidd’s Nets; the Dirk Nowitzki-led Mavericks; as well as the Reggie Miller-era Pacers. All good, but never quite Larry O’Brien Trophy good.

BREAKUP OF THE SUPERPOWERS

Several factors eventually came together to take the NBA from a league with a few recurring contenders to one filled with so many would-be heirs to the throne. Among the key driving forces of this change were:

• The salary cap: Implemented for the 1984-85 season, it somewhat leveled the economic playing field between big-market teams and those with lesser revenue bases.
• Television exposure: In the 70s and early 80s, there was the CBS Sunday game of the week and …. not much else. If a player wanted to become a national household name, he’d better have been on a marquee team. You didn’t get the 7Up or Converse ads if you played in Kansas City, Milwaukee or San Antonio. But as TBS and later TNT, ESPN and the myriad regional cable outlets began to blossom, a player didn’t have to play on a marquee team to become a nationwide star (Reggie Miller, Chris Webber, David Robinson, etc.) Which lead in part to the growth of…
• Unrestricted Free Agency: Tom Chambers’ move from Seattle to Phoenix in 1988 helped kicked open the door for big name player movement. Thanks to the cap’s limits on contending teams’ payrolls, second-tier teams often had more money to spend on guys who could be their No. 1 or 2 options, often luring away players who in the past would have added depth to a contender as its third or fourth option. (Sound familiar, Lamar?)
• Expansion: The NBA had only 23 teams until 1988, when a crush of league growth gradually introduced us to the Heat, Hornets, Magic, Wolves, Raptors, Grizzlies and Bobcats. Just imagine how the competitive landscape would have been different if guys such as Larry Johnson, Glen Rice, Alonzo Mourning or Shaquille O’Neal would have been divided among the previous 23 franchises, paired with established stars rather than being asked to lead their own groups of castoffs as those new franchises became established.

Thanks in part to those four factors, the NBA changed beginning in the late 1980s.

When Pat Riley stood on the steps of the Great Western Forum in June 1987 and guaranteed that the Lakers would repeat as champions in 1988, people looked at him as if he were insane. And with reason, for as great as those Lakers were, no NBA team had repeated as champion in two decades. The Superpower structure simply would not let a repeat happen easily.

But after the Lakers won it all again in ’88 – and then went 11-0 in the playoffs the following year before injuries to Magic and Byron Scott likely cost the team a third-straight title – back-to-back was no longer abnormal. In fact, starting with Riley’s ’87-’88 Lakers, 14 of 15 NBA Finals winners would claim more than one consecutive championship. And the lone team that failed to win back-to-backs in that run, the ’99 Spurs, still managed to form its own mini dynasty years later.

Free agency, TV, the cap and expansion killed off the age of the Superpowers for the better part of two decades. In its place, we saw an NBA where a great team with three or four good-to-great players became an abnormality — and when such teams came together, few were equipped to challenge them.

Jordan’s Bulls, Duncan’s Spurs and the Shaq-Kobe Lakers were all very good teams – but were their titles achieved at the stake of beating the talented and competitive playing fields such as those overcome by the teams in the 80s? Hardly, as evidenced by the lack of past or future champions among the 90’s and 2000-era teams topped in the Finals.

COMING FULL CIRCLE

Which brings us to 2009. Free agency, the cap, expansion teams and TV exposure are all still in play. But due to the current economic crisis, we’ve already seem a pattern that suggests the Era of the Superpower is making its return.

The NBA has already started becoming a league filled with haves and have-nots. This past season and summer have shown that some organizations will take on salary because A) they can afford to and/or B) they’re close enough to take a shot at a title. Others are cutting contracts as quickly as possible, recognizing that they’ve no shot to win so they’re opting to play it conservatively with the money until the economy rebounds.

Don’t underestimate how much this economy has hurt the pocketbooks of many NBA owners. From New Orleans to Charlotte to Sacramento and Oklahoma City, teams just aren’t flush with cash anymore, as evidenced by the line of credit the NBA recently extended to many franchise. Just because a great free agent is available doesn’t mean everyone (or anyone) will be willing to spend to bring them into the fold.

With max contracts more difficult to come by, good players are faced with a choice: do I take a lesser contract to play for a contender, or sign a lesser contract to go with a team that’s got no shot to win. And the answer, at least for everyone not named Trevor Ariza, should seemingly be a no-brainer.

Ron Artest took a pay cut to play for the Lakers. Rasheed Wallace did the same to go to Boston. Orlando got Vince Carter for a song as New Jersey realized its short-term title chances aren’t existent; Phoenix shipped of Shaq to Cleveland, and the Spurs snagged Richard Jefferson from going-nowhere Milwaukee.

Yes, there’s great anxiousness surrounding next summer’s free agents. But ask yourself this – is a Dwayne Wade or LeBron James going to take max money from a team that has no shot at winning? Time will tell, but why would they?

It’s more likely we’ll see lesser players opting to take pay-cuts in order to go where the LeBrons or Kobes or D-Wades are, and when that happens, we’re going to see a full-blown return to the Superpower era – an NBA where a handful of franchises battle it out for the chances to dance in June, while others sit back and watch the Finals on TV.

WHO’S ELITE?

It’s too soon to predict which teams will play the role of Superpower in the decade to come, but at least for the next three to four years, the Lakers seem to be a lock with Kobe, Gasol and Bynum all locked down. L.A.’s lifestyle will always be a draw for free agents, and the Buss family has historically kept a good team on the court.

Boston has already reloaded its Big Three with a fourth All-Star in Rasheed, and Rajon Rondo give the green guys a fifth star. Likewise, San Antonio’s Big Three has added Jefferson and Antonio McDyess, with help on the horizon from DeJuan Blair and perhaps someday, Tiago Splitter. While age will eventually a role in slowing all three franchises, history suggests they’ll be in the mix in for seasons to come.

I’d also say wherever Wade, LeBron and perhaps Kevin Durant call home would have to be included among the potential powerhouses, particularly if any land in the New York area, or if Wade stays in Miami, which has good ownership and a lot of drawing power. Orlando’s also got a lot going for it with Dwight Howard & Co.

Maybe, just maybe, one or two others may creep into the list, but there’s little to suggest that NBA will again see a revolving door of Finals contenders year after year as was the case in the past 20 years. Instead, get to know a few squads well, because we’ll be seeing a lot of them, particularly as stars migrate toward other stars. The key players will follow suit, and moves like Artest taking less to join L.A. will replace the past norm, such as when Posey left a title in Boston for more cash (and more losses) in New Orleans.

With so much uncertainty on the horizon, I look at the prospect of L.A. adding Odom as they type of move that would put the Lakers as the favorite in the west for the next two, three or perhaps four years. Maybe, just maybe, they’d be good enough to be the Superpower of Superpowers. For that reason, I hope that Odom and Buss can come together and find a way to move forward that benefits the Lakers.

But with or without Lamar, the Lakers will clearly be among the class of the league until No. 24 is no longer effective. Whether or not Kobe will have enough horses alongside him to overcome a field of loaded playoff contenders remains to be seen.

Regardless, the days in which the Utahs, Sacramentos or Indianas of the world could effectively match up with the greats are coming to an end, barring one of those second-tier squads drafting an all-world rookie (of the Magic, Jordan or LeBron-caliber) who’d project them into the elite.

With luxury taxes, reduced ticket and luxury box sales, less ad revenue and other elements of the economic pinch coming to a head, the have nots simply won’t be close enough to the haves to justify spending top dollar. And without the will to spend to contend, the rich are only going to get richer.

Welcome to the new NBA. Same as the old one.

Kurt

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182 responses to Back To The Future With NBA Finances

  1. Great job, Chris J. An interesting addition could be the analysis of the amount of talent in the league. IMHO the Superpower-formula comes into play when the amount of talent reaches a certain level. And one main factor could have been the 2003 draft class’ talent.

  2. Awesome post up. This email perfectly pictured my sentiments about what’s happening during this summer’s free agency… the NBA is starting to get grossly imbalanced again =\

  3. Vincent James July 22, 2009 at 3:48 am

    Well, now we can honestly say that the NBA is a battle of the elites, while the teams below the standings give up high quality players to free up cap space and avoid tax. Imagine, maybe as early as next year,a player with the caliber of Chris Paul may land in an elite team, since New Orleans is losing a ton of money. Its both exciting and a bit of a downer, since we only get to see a select few of nba teams that are really championship “worthy”

  4. Well we could certianly use CP3 if he becomes available. Come on Mitch, let’s make this happen! haha.

  5. If Odom signs a 4 year, 36M + contract, will that affect re-signing Gasol?

  6. exhelodrvr,
    That’s exactly why I doubt Buss will bend to a four year contract for Lamar.

    As for CP3, I doubt he comes here. He will probably be moved before we change coaches and he just doesn’t fit the triangle system, either offensively or defensively.

  7. I can honestly see D-Wade ending up playing for the Chicago Bulls next summer. Rose and Deng are there, as is John Salmons and James Johnson. Throw in D-Wade, that team could compete for a while, provided their GM fills out the roster correctly with skilled big man.

    I think Lebron James stays put and Chris Bosh comes a calling.

  8. whether you like it or not…history repeats itself…with the nba superpower are reloaded, they have been effective in playing around the salary cap…as you can see…boston reloaded, spurs too, with magic retooled there lineup…as the 2010 free agency nears…maybe we can see the lebron plus 1 star in a big media market(just like new york)…since i think will be effective tool in the nba…why make an expansion…maybe to 32 teams..so that more players can be given opportunity,imho

  9. Interesting how much better the NBA is as it cycles through an “Age of Superpowers.” I think we’re in this age already and there’s a consensus that the NBA today is the best its been since the late 1980s. I lived outside CA in several NBA cities, and I think that fans outside of the Lakers-Celtics-Spurs-Magic agree, even when their team ends up the perennial bridesmaid.

    Maybe league-wide “parity” isn’t all it cracked up to be (see NFL), as long as there is parity among the league’s elite.

  10. My question is whether this is such a bad thing for basketball. The best part of our 3peat (aside from the RINGS) were the series that mattered: kings, blazers and spurs. But at the end of the day, we were so good that each year there was pretty much only one team that could beat us. Yes, the rest of the league was more equal, but we still dominated.

    But now there are 4 other teams that could potentially beat us. Now both conference finals series will be CLASSICS, followed by an epic showdown in the finals.

    I recognize that this is bad for most of the teams in the league but, as the article says, it does allow fans to “get familiar” with teams. It allows for rivalries. And, at the very least, it’s gonna make for some excellent basketball…

  11. gnitsch:

    great point on the 2003 draft class. they certainly changed the face of the NBA. not only did the economy contribute to the balance of power we see now, but so did the FA class of 2010. Even big market teams (chicago, NY) are dumping salary to make room for one of these guys.

  12. I think Wade stays as does Lebron. Bosh leaves and goes to play with Lebron.

    The teams you mentioned will be the superpowers for the next 3-4 years, then they will have to reload, particularly SA (who might not be able too unless Duncan gets hurt and they get the #1 pick in a draft that has another Duncan in it). OKC has some nice young pieces. Durant will be among the league leading scorers for years to come and hes also a good rebounder and decent passer. They just need some help in the paint. Too bad the Clippers won the Griffin lottery and not OKC.

  13. With Rose in Chicago, Wade is not what they need.

  14. About problems with Pau’s extension, keep in mind the owners will almost certainly opt out of the CBA next winter, meaning it will expire in the summer of 2011, right as Pau’s contract expires. The next CBA will almost certainly be more owner-friendly, considering how aversely the current CBA coupled with the economic downturn has affected NBA team’s bottom lines.

    To be frank, a lockout is highly probable, considering the player’s union will staunchly oppose any decrease in their member’s salaries, and the owners will be expecting concessions in accordance with the economic downturn.

    Therefore, I think we simply sign Pau and Kobe to extensions in the next 2 years, since the next CBA could be seriously player-unfriendly and free agency may be too big a risk for Pau and Kobe. So losing them seems unlikely, at least from this perspective.

  15. kobama

    to answer your question, I think this is a great thing for basketball. This is the NBA finally getting over the post-Jordan era hangover. Teams are no longer built around “the one”. And as such, players are sacraficing opportunities to be “the one” and are accepting supporting roles in pursuit of a title (see Pau, Rashard Lewis, Pierce, Ginobli)

  16. 13, Kurt, I’m of the opinion that having too much talent is never a problem. I think we can all agree that Lebron, Wade, and Kobe all need the ball in their hands to play their best, but when they all played on the Redeem Team, they tailored their games to fit one another. I agree that Rose and Wade do a lot of the same things on the court, but having the two of them together just makes the other all the more dangerous.

  17. 14) Zephid,
    I was looking more from the perspective of whether or not the ownership will want to spend that much money on another PF.

  18. This is a really good post. Compared to a lot of people here, I’m a philistine when it comes to American basketball history, having followed the sport for only 10 years since moving to the US from a soccer-crazy nation. This article filled in a lot of gaps I have about basketball. Thanks.

  19. Iggy – which soccer-crazy nation are you from?

  20. Sometimes I wonder if there are too many teams in the NBA at present. If things take a turn for the worse economically it could get interesting.

  21. One of the best posts I’ve read — great work.

    I actually like this Super-Power era. This is the kind of stuff that gets even non-hoop fans to watch. I bet a player like Mike Dunleavy or even Grant Hill — ones who never made it out of the first round — can walk in Manhattan and not be recognized by 75% of people. Compare that to a player like Kurt Rambis– who was a lesser player, but who was on national TV every Summer–who gets recognized still by average people .

    Familiarity breeds relevance.

    Can you imagine a Celtics-Cavs-Lakers-Spurs conference Finals? I wouldn’t miss a minute of either series. Also, let us not forget every once in a while Goliath falls (Lakers-Rockets ’84, Celtics-Knicks ’90, Spurs-Mavs ’06).

    I can’t wait till November.

    p.s. Lamar, sign bro.

  22. 16. I understand the “too much talent” idea, the problem to me is money. Wade is a max guy, Rose will be a max guy, and you are paying them to do the same things. I think the Bulls would be better off going after Bosh if they want to spend big like that. Then again, I really have no idea what their plan is right now, what kind of team they are trying to build. Not sure they do either.

  23. Chris J.,

    There is no doubt that NBA teams are suffering financially–much like the rest of the country. Connecting that with the rise of a new “super power” era is a bit of a stretch.

    The main reason that teams are not bidding wildly against each other is that very few of them are below the the salary cap, and many are well over the luxury tax. The so called dynasty teams of next year are losing players to free agency–at higher salaries: Orlando lost Turkalu, LA lost Ariza, and the Celtics may well lose Big Baby. Lamar’s status remains to be seen. Cleveland is reshuffling it’s team–moving some in and some out. Shaq didn’t come as a free agent to Cleveland to win–he was traded as an expensive “White Elephant.”

    There may be a league wide reshuffling nest year.

    Only San Antonio really went into the market and benefitted greatly without loss–but their team had aged so much they had very little choice.

    Other elite teams of earlier years, Portland, Phoenix, Golden State. and Sacto, are in various stages of rebuilding. Dallas, Utah, and the Nuggs are standing pat.

    The Celtics only emerged from their cocoon two years ago–and might return just as soon. The Bulls just lost a key player, Detroit shed the Sheed and McDyeuss after trading Chauncy for AI (and allowing AI’s contract to expire) to rebuild–and immediately grabbed Gordon and Villenueva. They have not yet returned to form. The 76ers may be closer, The Nicks hope to restart next year, and the Heat is teetering on the edge.

    Injuries to Kobe and Gasol could put the Lakers in the shoes of Houston next year. Doormats like the Clippers could suddenly emerge as very competitive teams next year.

    The “haves” haven’t done that well so far this summer, new “haves” may emerge next year, and the crystal ball is far less clear than the article intimates.

    Uncertainty is what makes things fun for many of us.

    I wouldn’t take anything for granted.

  24. Well, I don’t know. Just one year ago everyone was talking about how competitive the West was 1 through 9, with only a few games seperating them. I don’t really think that has changed much: I can imagine scenarios where LAL, SAN, DAL, POR, or DEN come out of the West next year. In the East you can imagine ORL, BOS, CLE, or MIA.

    I guess I think all this talk of the “rich getting richer” is overblown. There have ALWAYS been top-dogs and bottom-feeders in the NBA. There has never been parity like in the NFL. I don’t see that much has changed.

  25. A little off-topic, but did anyone else see this article?

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/columns/story?columnist=munson_lester&id=4336261

    The case in question has to do with the NFL, but the implications are such that the NBA and MLB could potentially be transformed as well. It’s an interesting (and somewhat troubling) read.

    I’m curious to know people’s thoughts, especially since I know there are a few law and econ folks on this board.

  26. Side note: TMZ will be posting a video of the dunk on Lebron at the Nike training camp this afternoon. Based on a still on their website, it looks like it was shot from a cell phone. Anyway, they claim it is a nasty two handed dunk right up the middle.

  27. Because of the weather and marketing opportunities, LA will always be the prime destination for superstar free agents, economy notwithstanding. We have a huge advantage over every other team in the league in that respect. Always have.

    Kareem, Shaq, Kobe, Malone, Payton, Gasol, Artest- we didn’t draft any of them but they all chose to come here, several taking big pay cuts to do so.

  28. And before anyone corrects me on Kobe, his people and Jerry West orchestrated that trade for Vlade. He had a private workout with LA. He never intended to suit up for anyone else.

  29. Ryan O -

    The antitrust laws are creations of Congress and so are the exemptions. Even if the Supreme Court decided for the NFL, a bill could be passed and signed by the President changing the laws and in effect “overruling” the Supreme Court decision.

    The Supreme Court could decline to consider the “single entity” argument and remand the case to a lower court to develope more evidence on the issue.

    Given that there are pro basketball leagues in Europe, the NBA is going to have to stay competitive in salary, otherwise we will all be watching European league games on tape-delay to watch the top players.

    Of course, in the pro-business environment of today anything is possible.

  30. I completely disagree with this post.

    There is an old saying in stocks/futures trading, the trend is your friend. That’s probably the number 1 rule everyone agrees with, except perhaps cut your losses short and let your profits run. In any event, the trend in this particular instance is the one the author outlined during the 90′s and 2000′s. That’s a 20 year trend brought on by a myriad of reasons, NONE of which have changed!

    Furthermore, this trend change is being called based on what’s not even a full year of an NBA season. It is based on the off-season of the first year. Secondly, the economy is the reason given for this change which was not 1 of the myriad of reasons given for the initial 20 year run.

    In my opinion all the reasons why we had the 90′s and 2000′s are all still there. The difference is the economy. Now, as someone who has called this economy as being this bad from the start, I can tell you that with the current system in place, you will always have the boom/bust cycle. After the bust, will come another boom and it won’t take another 20 years. The stock market leads the economy, always. And the stock market has already made its bottom. The economy usually lags the stock market by 6-9 months. So sooner rather than later, this economy will turn around for the better.

    Furthermore, 2 of these elite teams are on the verge of collapse. The Spurs and the Celtics. These teams cannot possibly be powerhouses for longer than the next year, if that. The Grandpa 4 of the celtics are all over 33 years old. There is no way that the celtics will be a powerhouse team after next year at the most. The Spurs have already started to lose Tim Duncan as he is declining quickly. Without Duncan, can the Spurs be one of your elite teams?

    Also, in the future all Championship teams will most likely come from the teams which hold these players: Lebron James, CArmelo Anthony, Dwane Wade, Chris Bosh, Kevin Durant, Brandon Roy, and perhaps the Rose kid from Chicago. Now, only 1 of these players is on a current elite team, Lebron. All the others are on different teams, and most look like they are staying put. In the future (past 3-4 years, Kobe’s window), I will be that the champions will have 1 of those players on the team. Again, only 1 of those players is currently on one of the current elite teams.

    Basically, people always call an end to a trend prematurely based on a small sample size. If the underlying fundamentals are still in favor of the trend, then the trend will most likely continue.

  31. drrayeye,
    While I agree that most franchises are a major injury away from a big drop off, the superpowers would only slide near the middle, while the lesser teams would drop to the very bottom with such an injury.

    There is a fundamental separation between the haves and have-nots. It is based on deep pockets AND organizational excellence. This is why OKC has a chance to improve – and why it was such a shame they left Seattle.

    The biggest difference between now and the 80′s is the salary cap. However, teams from major markets and ones that appear on TV a great deal will have the advantage of being able to maintain while in the luxury tax range. Good organizations will be able to fill in teams better than the average and this will help keep them on top.

    I think the reason the landscape is changing toward super teams again is that the salary cap rules have been stable for a number of years and there are now several models for handling team building. Also, Detroit’s defensive philosophy started a 10-12 year run in the NBA and it was about 2000 before that form of play was finally weeded out of the game – whether we agree with this or not.

    Now things will get back to the NBA before 1990. Of course the economy will cause changes, but if the NBA doesn’t change its rules drasticly in the next CBA, clubs will understand how to build good teams.

  32. Ryan,

    RE: Durant.

    Thanks for rubbing it in man. I live in Seattle and we finally get a good draft pick and someone i want to watch…and then boom, the Sonics are gone and become the Thunder, lol.

    The funny thing is that I always rooted for the Lakers over the Sonics when they played, even though i was raised in Seattle. So I guess the bigger loss for me would be if the Lakers moved, lol.

  33. Ryan O,
    The article you linked to illustrates just why the 2004 presidential election was more important than most thought at the time.

    As you sow, so shall you reap.

  34. @Ryan (25/9:55): The NBA wouldn’t just potentially be transformed if the NFL wins…it certainly would. As the article’s title states, that would be Armageddon. That is probably the worst thing that could happen (for the NFL to win). There’d be no checks and balances to anything the league(s) decided to do…all the players union could do was strike. That whole one entity thing is mind-boggling. The sad part is that with the political ideologies of the current justices on the Supreme Court, the NFL could very well win. I’d say it’s a toss-up right now as there is maybe one or two so-called “swing-votes” that could tip the balance one way or the other.

  35. Just a note, it’s ok to discuss the massive anti-trust litigation involving the NFL, but please leave the politics out of it.

  36. with regards to a “superpower era” I really only see 2 teams in that “superpower” category, beyond next year.

    1)Lakers
    2)Orlando

    The Lakers are undeniably deep for the next 3-4 years, with or without LO. Its like, not even fair. Orlando is absolutely loading up right now, and they’re building around the best big man in the game (and he will be for a long time to come). What scares me the most about Orlando is the Gortat signing. No, he’s not there to back up Dwight. He’s a trade piece for something much bigger.

    Outside of them, Boston is old and we’ve yet to see KG play since his injury. It could alter his career. Pierce and Allen have 1-2 years left. Rondo is good but not great. San Antionio is old. Duncan is maxed out, Ginobli is too, and Parker is great, but he’s not going to carry them any farther than he already has. Dynasties aren’t built around point guards.

    And who knows what happens with Lebron and D-Wayde next summer. Until then, there are 2 teams that will certainly contend in 2011, and that’s Orlando and LA.

  37. oooh a law discussion. I can’t resist.

    Zephid– ehh… the politics are pretty intertwined actually, given the important of appointments. (Look on the bright side: we’re talking about sports labor unions, not abortion or stem cells, so nobody’s going to be emotional).

    I took antitrust law with one of the prof’s quoted in that article in 06, and this case was barely a footnote because it was argued super narrowly.

    The interesting thing is that the real focus of the case is on trademarks and property rights, but the ruling the NFL (and the other leagues, who will I’m sure submit amicus briefs) wants now is extremely broad.

    Expect a narrower decision that essentially affirms the circuit court and declines to reach the single entity argument — the position of the administration and its appointment suggests this outcome.

    The Court has never taken a case as narrowly drawn on the facts as ANI (again, it’s a property rights case) and given out a de facto blanket antitrust exemption. That’s not how the SC works. Baby steps.

    Bet on nothing major coming of it, regardless of the ESPN article.

    Have we signed Lamar yet?

  38. On a totally unrelated note, I just picked up some tix for 2010 All Star game in Dallas at the Cowboys billion dollar plus monstrosity. My son and I will be hoping that Kobe has Pau and maybe another Laker or two on the roster. The last All-Star game I went to was 20 years ago in another dome in Houston.

  39. Is the Superpower idea really a stretch? The salary and luxury caps are curtailing spending, as drrayeye noted. But what type of franchise does that hurt more? The strong ones, or the weak?

    Yes, the loaded teams may lose role players here and there. But the presence of a Kobe, a LeBron, a KD or Dwight Howard, etc., will act like a magnet that attracts others to take the places of those who leave. Ariza’s already been replaced by Artest, a guy whose style we can debate but whose career stats are unquestionably better, and Orlando arguably upgraded from Hedo by adding Vince Carter. If Boston loses Big Baby, so what? They’ve added Rasheed Wallace, who makes Big Baby expendable.

    And to cite Shaq’s trade to Cleveland as a conflict to my argument is just wrong. Phoenix is dumping salary because its ownership is short on cash and can’t afford to pay him $20 million when he’s not a guy who puts the Suns into the Finals. Cleveland is willing to take on that $20 million salary because it feels pairing one star (LeBron) with another (Shaq) would tremendously improve its chances at a title in 2010. Lastly, Shaq went along because he believes he can win a ring alongside LeBron. Those factors totally epitomize my point.

    Also, I couldn’t disagree more with drrayeye’s assertion that “the ‘haves’ haven’t done that well so far this summer.” Boston added an All-Star with championship experience, as did Cleveland. Neither lost much of their core from last season’s contending units. San Antonio added good players and lost little. I personally think Carter sucks and Orlando made a mistake in taking him over Hedo, but if Hedo insisted on being overpayed elsewhere, you could do much, much worse than adding a guy like VC to the Magic.
    Yes, the Lakers have swapped out Ariza for Artest with results to be determined. But few would argue Artest doesn’t bring a lot to the table for L.A. Odom’s decision remains to be seen, but even if he bolts, L.A. would still have three established stars with a fourth (Bynum) on the verge.

    And should Odom go to Miami, it wouldn’t totally undermine my Superpower theory since he’d be joining a Top Five player in Dwyane Wade, and possibly Carlos Boozer, to make a run at power status in the East, if not the Finals (a long shot, admittedly). Odom’s not flirting with also-rans; he’s toying with leaving one MVP-level superstar for another.

    As some others have already, next season we may see more instances where smaller, less-income friendly franchises deal good or very good players over salary considerations. We’ve already seen this in New Orleans, which tried to sell off Tyson Chandler last season and will face some very real concerns about Chris Paul’s cost-to-value down the line. Utah’s about to lose one of its best players because it can’t afford to pay everyone max money. What’s Amare really worth to Phoenix if he can’t get the Suns over the hump and Nash is the face of the franchise guy who sells the season tickets? I could go on but won’t. Can Memphis afford Gay and Love come contract time? Will the Thunder pay to keep its young core together? If not, where will the good young players be inclined to play, with a limited number of max contracts in the new economic realm?

    Trust me, salary dumps won’t be isolated occurrences.

    Elite teams and bad teams will always be reshuffled, but the point is with less money available – for cap reasons, and the fact that revenue will be off significantly – money is not going to be driving factor that affects player movement as we’ve seen in recent seasons. If a vet can make $5 million and contend for a title alongside a star, or make $5 million playing for a lottery team, reason (but not Ariza) suggests we’ll see more guys looking to pair up alongside stars. Put a couple of stars together, and role players will follow, and soon you’re looking at more loaded squads pilfering from the have nots.

    Certainly injuries to key players could derail any team, elite or otherwise. Hell, if we can’t look ahead due to risk of injury, why bother looking ahead at all? Franchise players in every sport have been hurt, arrested (Michael Vick), stabbed or shot (Paul Pierce, the Redskins’ Sean Taylor), or unexpectedly died (Celtics’ Reggie Lewis, Len Bias; Drazen Petrovic). No one has a crystal ball in that regard, and I never pretended to. Re-read my post: “It’s too soon to predict which teams will play the role of Superpower in the decade to come.”

    Age will catch up with Boston and the Spurs soon, and when Kobe’s gone all bets are off for the Lakers. After the next couple of seasons, I expect the decade will belong to LeBron and Durant, if I had to make a guess today. Where they’ll reside, who can say?
    But good organizations will usually prevail, even using an injury (and sometimes luck) as a means to make a long-term improvement — as San Antonio was able to do when a back injury to David Robison took the Spurs from title contender to the lottery in the span of one season. Then they landed the No. 1 pick, added Duncan and the rest is history. The Lakers reloaded post-Showtime, and again post-Shaq. Boston sucked for a time (happily for us, a very long time), but Danny Ainge eventually rebuilt things there. Maybe Detroit will rise again too. In time, good organizations find a way.

    I’m not a gambler, but if I were my money would be that 2010-19 NBA contenders will have front offices with established track records, be located in solid revenue markets, and have two to three stars already locked up for the next several seasons. Those are the type of teams that are poised to thrive in the next decade, and in my view there won’t be more than a handful of franchises which can claim that status over the next 10 seasons.

  40. j.d. Hastings July 22, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Great post, CJ.

    In terms of the moves this summer, I still think Orlando has improved the most. Even if you consider VC to be a lateral move to Hedo. The solid Dwight, Gortat, Bass trio, as well as Vince Carter shifting that role from the 3 spot to the 2, gives them a lot more roster flexibility. They need to play conventional, plug Bass in at PF and Lewis at the 3. If they want to play like this year, stick Pietrus at the 3. Plus they have Ryan Anderson to backup the 3 or 4, and he’s perfect for their system.

    Add all that to regaining a healthy Jameer Nelson, and you have a deep, solid, versatile team, whose biggest weakness is… backup guards?

    Compared to that, Boston still has limited depth and they have to hope that neither KG nor Sheed are washed up. (Still a great team but I’m only coparing against the other elites).

    Cleveland could be the big winners in theory, but that team looks like Frankstein to me. A random collection of parts that were available, rather than built with a particular vision.

    And while San Antonio’s moves are all hard to criticise, especially in the front court, I’m waiting to see if Jefferson fits in as well as people are assuming, and how healthy Manu is.

    Dallas should be mentioned because they brought in more talent with Marion, but they’ve always had a lot of talent, I just don’t think a 30 year old Marion is what they’ve been missing.

    The Lakers if they keep Odom may have added Artest, but I just don’t see how that makes as big a difference as some of these other moves.

    So I’m going with Orlando, because they have the fewest uncertain variables on their team. Any of these others could leap past them and everyone else, but it means certain questions went their way.

  41. The Dude Abides July 22, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    36. With this case and the present makeup of the Supreme Court, it’s impossible to leave the politics out of it. Four of the current justices are so pro-business and pro-authority that it wouldn’t surprise me to see 80 years of antitrust laws overturned, which would be catastrophic for both professional and amateur sports. Elections do have consequences.

  42. You can talk about repercussions of possible rulings, various perspectives from each side, possible scenarios in the NBA, among numerous other things that can have politics safely left out. Yes, I understand that politics is intertwined, but I will delete/edit any comments that cross the line. We’re all adults (I think) here, so use your own judgement. Just don’t write something you think is relatively tame then complain when your post disappears.

  43. As another lawyer chiming in (albeit one who hasn’t dealt with antitrust or labor law issues since law school, thank God) I would caution everyone not to read too much into that article. As anyone but the most partisan viewer would attest, handicapping Supreme Court justices is notoriously difficult. A Justice who had been appointed with a seemingly liberal bent will gradually – or even all of a sudden – slide to the middle, or even over to the right, once that lifetime appointment kicks in. And vice versa.

    And the Court almost *never* issues the broad types of ruling that the article is worried about. Especially on an issue like this. So I would expect a ruling about as narrowly tailored as possible.

    In other words, much ado about nothing.

  44. As Shaky suggests, don’t get too caught up in the public relations bit that is leaked to ESPN. Much like any contract negotiation these sorts of cases can, if taken to one extreme or another, have massive ramifications but, rarely do these cases go one way or the other. The Justices tend to make a judgement and confine their ruling to the aspect of the case that was under contention.

    Think of it this way. A player such a Jennings had the right to finish HS and play in Europe as the Leagues in Europe are in competition with the NBA. Its not like Olympikos (sp?) is in any real competition with the Lakers in anything other then who employs what players and then perhaps jersey sales. When a player makes themselves eligible for the NBA draft they make themselves eligible to be an NBA employee and the the NBA defines, with some input by the players representatives, what team owns the rights to a player. It is like you made yourself available as an employee to Intel and they might then ask you, at some point, to go live in China for a few years to work on some project. You work for Intel, not a branch of Intel.

    Here is the issue as it relates to the lawsuit. Needle Works Inc. want to be able to say that they can manufacture the jersey of a certain team and that they can negotiate with that team for those rights, separate from any deal the NFL has with Reebok. The NFL argues that jerseys are owned by the NFL and the NFL has the right to package their paraphernalia as a single entity and that it is in competition with all football clubs, soccer clubs, basketball teams, baseball teams, etc, and not in competition with the other NFL teams which the jersey’s are contextualized. I don’t know about the NFL (and don’t really care) but if they work like the BA, where things like Jersey sales are divided equally among the clubs, then this concept makes a lot of sense. It is the NFL market share against the MLS, NBA, Premiere League, MLB, the Japanese Baseball Leagues, which defines competition of NFL paraphernalia rather then between the Raiders and Bangles.

    On the other hand when players are drafted or become free agents they are securing their income under conditions where teams are competing with one another within the context of the league itself. Besides this player now have NBA teams competing against European Leagues for a player’s services. This last decade has seen players willing to play play overseas as well (Jennings, Childress, Rubio, etc…) and this certainly points to greater competition and no real argument that anti-trust laws can be exempt here. So, to back Shakey’s point, the Supreme Court has the option, and it seems the inclinations, to find in favor of the NFL in terms of paraphernalia while finding that labor contracts are not under similar exemption.

  45. Kurt,
    Great post. Great post. So you are still calling Ray Allen and Rasheed Wallace stars? Thats a bit of a stretch. It would be safe to say that Ron Artest and Lamar Odom are significantly better than those two Celtics and you didn’t name Artest or Odom as stars. Ron is an all star and Odom is at least a star although he definitely isn’t an all star. It going to be the best NBA season I have ever seen in my 28 years. I was a little too young to watch the mid 80′s Lakers. I only see them now on NBA TV Hardwood Classics.

  46. 38 & 44 – I’m inclined to agree that ultimately not much will come of the case; most likely we’re seeing ESPN engage in its usual hyperbole. What I find interesting, though, is that the Supreme Court would agree to hear the case at all. If they’re simply going to avoid the broader issue that the NFL has asked them to consider, what would your guess(es) be as to why the SC wouldn’t just decline to hear the case and let the lower court’s ruling stand?

  47. If the most important thing to NBA players was championships, couldn’t Wade, Lebron, and Bosh just collaborate to sign on the same team in 2010 (possibly Miami)? If that happened, would those 3 and the rest of the team made up of minimum type players ensure a championship? If so, could they put a string of championships together? Or is depth, chemistry, and intangibles more important than superstar power? I don’t know about everyone else, but I would cast my lot with those 3.

  48. 42. I’ve seen a number of comments here which have left the politics out of it, so it is clearly possible. Really, the issue isn’t so much politics as partisanship that gets people’s goat. So, try looking at it in a non-partisan manner and then you could have a comment that follows the rules.

  49. Funky Chicken July 22, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    j.d. hastings, I like your take, but I think you’ve sold the Lakers short. If LO is retained, I think a strong argument could be made that among the best teams in the league, the Lakers will improve the most.

    Many fell in love with Ariza during the playoffs, and he was a solid player. However, in Artest the Lakers have just improved both offensively and defensively, while also increasing their toughness and their level of effort. A healthy Bynum will be the equivalent of adding a potential allstar at the center spot, and having Sasha return even to his previous decent, though not great, level will be a huge improvement over last season.

    To me, adding a legitimate allstar caliber center and one of the best perimeter defenders in the league to an already stacked team (that was pretty clearly the best team in the league last year) widens the gap between LA and the rest. Losing LO will change the equation, and could arguably reduce the gap between LA and the rest, but I would still favor them to win it all next season.

  50. While I do have a definite point-of-view, I also don’t try to “cookie cutter” the Supreme Court.

    I appreciated Shaky’s take on the case and will take those comments to heart.

    With respect to Brian’s comment, I think we might just keep an eye on Justice Thomas. He has a maverick streak about individual rights and responsibilities that has confounded outsiders several times.

  51. Kurt, I think Wade and Rose could do a great job of coexisting on that team so long as guys like Noah, Miller (what is happening with him? I thought he was a FA), TT and Lee if he winds up there can take on the rebounding and inside defense load having guys like Wade and Rose in a back court together could be deadly to most teams. the thing about both Rose and Wade is that they are consummate scorers with an elite ability to create for others. It would be one thing if they weren’t such willing passers but they both love to get their teammates involved, and handle the ball so well that I just see them being able to switch off rolls depending on matchups and to keep teams off balanced as to how they defend the perimeter.

    Rose/Hinrich
    Wade/Hinrich
    Salmons/Deng
    TT/Deng/Noah
    Noah/Miller

    Throw in some filler but that is a solid 8 man rotation with lots of complimentary pieces and they do those things you need. They rebound, they create for others, they penetrate, they defend the parameter and defend the inside, and they have some outside shooting. With the number of fouls both Wade and Rose draw, you might even argue they would have a counter to teams with one dominant post player like Orlando, as well.

  52. This superpowers article was very interesting, it seemed like in the 80′s we saw the same teams battling it out year after year and now in the 2000′s the same seems to be happening again, the Lakers seem to be always in the mix, good.

    Glad to see the FB&G Championship T-shirt finally made it’s debut here. I wore my other one out, wearing it for good luck last year! I will proudly wear this one out, also hoping for the same results at the end of the season, for our Laker team.

    You get what you need when you least expect it.

  53. @ 21 If Rambis was wearing his Glasses (and the rubber band thing that held them on) and grew his mullet back, he would certainly be recognized other wise I don’t think so, I barely recognize him now.

    I think we have had Super Powers these past ten years anyway, at least in the Western Conference. Its been Lakers and Spurs with the Dallas fluke to throw in. The East has been up and down, but the East has been struggling for year anyway. Detroit was really the only potential Super Power. Maybe those Nets teams too, but not really, they just beat the best of the worst then got crushed in the Finals by the Lakers and Spurs.

    And that same case could be made for the Eastern Conference in the 90′s. Had MJ not “retired” the Bulls most likely would have won 8 consecutive titles and the Magic or the Knicks would have never been there.

    And ’99 shouldn’t count because of the lock out.

  54. I wouldn’t be surprised if BSO was just re-reporting the Roger Lodge report from yesterday. The stories seem almost identical.

  55. 48) “If the most important thing to NBA players was championships,”

    It’s not. If it were, there would be more players with Kobe’s work ethic, and more like Artest willing to take significantly less to play on contenders, and more players willing to sacrifice their individual goals for the team.

  56. Just an FYI-

    Ireland says that any story involving the 4/40 is bogus. 50/50 chance LO returns. (God bless you, twitter, and your ability to appease the microwave generation (The generation of those who seek instant gratification))

  57. The Lamar Odom 4/$40 mil stuff is coming out of Odom’s camp. The Lakers camp remains in radio silence. Read into those tea leaves however you wish.

  58. I think winning a championship for most players is important, but only after a certain age, if not achieved at a younger age. At the beginning of an athletes career most are trying to max out their earning potential. Then after they have not won and want to win a ring around the age of 30, it becomes paramount to play for less and play for a team that has a chance to win a championship.

  59. @56

    I find the “more like Artest willing to take significantly less to play on contenders” statement humorous because Ron-Ron was all over LA sports radio in 2007 saying how he wouldn’t come to LA for less than 18 mil & he was a top ten NBA player who couldn’t reasonably consider anything less. I think AGE and years of disappointment in the NBA playoffs changed his tune.

  60. Coffee is for Closers July 22, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    Ya, if you heard ric bucher’s interview last friday who presumably was getting his info from lamar’s agent, lamar would have signed on the dotted line at 4yr, $36M. would be awfully funny for the FO to go to $40M-4yr then, wouldn’t it?

    By the way, bucher stopped updating player rumors on his twitter because he was upset people were actually quoting it. Douchey? Perhaps, he needs someone to explain to him what a public forum is…

  61. Great article. Gotta give props where it is due. Indeed I think it is great to have a few superpowers go at it, with an occasional Cinderella busting in. Wait this sounds like the NCAA..

  62. there was a mistake in the article: from 2000 to 2009, there was not one but two teams who beat former champions in the finals: as correctly said, the 2004 pistons were the first one but the spurs dit it too beating the same pistons in the 2005 finals…

  63. burningjoe —

    There’s no question the 90s Bulls teams were exceptional, and they could have challenged the great teams from the prior decade had they come around at that time.

    But Chicago had no great rival once it reached the championship round — the Bulls played five different teams over six Finals. Only the Lakers were a past winner, and that ’91 team was a mix of soon-to-retire Magic and Worthy plus guys like Terry Teagle, Elden Campbell and Tony Smith. Traces of Showtime, if you will, headed by Mike Dunleavy.

    Aside from the Knicks or Pacers for a stretch, Chicago really had no rivals in the East once the team overcame the “Jordan Rules” Pistons in ’91.

    There was never that “We’ll get you next year” vibe because next year Chicago would be planning some other good-but-not-great team. It wasn’t like that see-saw we saw with the Lakers and Sixers or Lakers and Celtics.

    That’s what made the 90s and 2000s so different from the 80s — you didn’t see champions playing champions in the Finals in those decades.

    As for what’s better, that’s up to the fans to decide. Some like the Superpower eras; some like parity. So long as the Lakers are in the hunt, I’m OK either way.

    I loved the 80s, but I’d be lying if I said my favorite 90s playoffs didn’t come in ’94, when it was basically a wide-open field and we saw so many memorable moments, be it Reggie Miller at the Garden or a fun Finals between the Knicks and Rockets (including the game interupted by the O.J. White Bronco chase).

  64. jane,
    “I think AGE and years of disappointment in the NBA playoffs changed his tune.”

    I totally agree – winning is more important to him now than it used to be.

  65. http://www.realgm.com/src_wiretap_archives/60732/20090722/report_odom_agrees_to_terms_with_lakers/

    Not buying that till I see it happen though. Just throwing more rumors out there to excite/torture us fans.

  66. LO 40M/4 years is all over the internet. Can this all be stemming from the one article?

  67. The Dude Abides July 22, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    Slightly NSFW, but here is video of the Odom-Buss negotiations, cross-posted from Basketbawful:

    http://tinyurl.com/l7tesm

  68. 68. Yes, as I said yesterday the Internet abhors a vacuum. While somebody somewhere is promoting the 4/$40 mil idea, nobody plugged in with the Lakers thinks that is on the table.

  69. >The Lamar Odom 4/$40 mil stuff is coming out of Odom’s camp.

    why would Odom’s camp say that if there is still a chance of taking the 5/35 offer from Miami — are they trying to drive up Miami’s offer?

  70. but isn’t Miami’s offer already maxed out??

  71. I pray for the superpower era, but it’s not going to be quite like it since you have to factor in early sponsors and individualism.

    We’re just going to see a lot of the Shaq-Kobe-Karl-Payton Lakers.

    Meaning, we’ll have ‘superpowers’ where lesser stars at the end of their career will be joining bigger stars at the height or around their height.

    We’ve got the best deal in Kobe/Pau; Boston and Spurs are a bit too old to remain a superpower for long, Orlando/Cleveland have not quite gotten there yet, and the others I’m not sure if they have a chance.

    Also, among all those teams, we are the biggest market, so this really is going to be no-contest if we sign Lamar to something reasonable.

  72. ESPN is now reporting the 4 yr 40 million deal for Odom!!

  73. … You can’t be serious? We pulled the 3 for 30 deal… to give him a 4 for 40 deal?

    I don’t buy it. Since when did Charlie Kelly start negotiating on behalf of the Buss family?

  74. the 4/40 is nutso. why would the lakers do that? for the lamar camp to float that is a bit irresponsible as it probably only serves to further alienate the fo.

  75. Is LO still on the sticky.

  76. Pat Riley was CORRECT. And why not? He has seen enough championships to know what its effect is on people.

    When someone wins a championship for the first time they think that they are on top of the world and worth huge amounts of $$$. Trevor Ariza thought so, albeit I think a little of that was hype via the Lakers prefering Artest over Ariza and needing a justification to let TA go. But nonetheless there was some of that “I deserve the world, give it to me now” mentality with TA. And now LO has taken it up another level. I am the biggest supporter of LO, on the basketball court. I do not think that we can win the championship next year without him (or some other equal upgrade). But in this instance, the guy has really let everything go to his head. For him to refuse a 4 year $36m offer ($30m gauranteed) is ridiculous. He is not worth anything close to that level. And now here we are. I have nothing to go on but my gut, but the lakers can and will offer Lamar $2+ million MORE than any other team. He already lives here and loves LA. LA is a championship contender, etc. And yet I think in the end Lamar will go play somewhere else and we will be severely handicapped for next year’s run.

    I fully understand leaving a championship team in order to get paid. But to leave and get paid much less is ridiculous! The only explanation can be the Pat Riley syndrome.

    I am much more behind TA. In Trevor’s case, i think it was more that the Lakers wanted Artest than it was TA turning down the Lakers. He even said that he went to Houston so he could be closer to his family in LA, lol. Obviously if he had a choice, he would choose LA over Houston for the exact same contract.

    And in that regard, I believe that the Lakers made a huge mistake. They should not have burned the TA bridge before signing Odom. If TA was still available, they could simply resign him now if Odom is gone. Artest + Ariza, in my mind, is as good as Odom + Ariza. I personally love Odom’s game, but Artest is a star in my book. Now if we could get Odom back, then Artest + Odom is by far the best combo.

    Everyone should remember, however, that even if we don’t get Odom back, we still have a lot of options. We have until the trade deadline next year to make some moves with our expiring contracts.

    In any event, the truth of the matter is that once guys win the championship, it completely goes to their heads. They think that they are sooooo much better than everyone else, and thus they deserve more money, more fame, more playing time, more shots and should be asked to do less of the hard stuff: defense, work, improving your game, etc.

  77. 74: Where are you seeing ESPN reporting this? Don’t see it online or on the TV…

  78. John Ireland is reporting that the Lakers did NOT offer Odom a contract.

  79. Tomorrow it will be 5 years for 50m.

    Isn’t the internet grand?

    I’m not posting again until pre-season games, this is silly. Damn you and your shenanigans, internet! Damn you!

  80. First there was a problem with newspaper sources, then we got into TV news 24/7 and their sources were worse. With the internet there are apparently no sources, just make it up yourself.

  81. Just cause I’m still into needing my daily basketball fix (the one bad thing about the Lakers winning the title — i remember last year about this time I had already pushed the season/playoffs into distant repressed memory). Anyway, while getting my daily fix, I was messing around on 82games.com and came accross their ratings for the entire 08-09 season on a per player basis.

    They have “roland rating” that is like Hollingers PER. It is supposed to be general rating on player performance. Does anyone want to guess where Odom was on this list?

    Here is the list in order (http://www.82games.com/0809/ROLRTG8.HTM):

    1) Lebron
    2) Wade
    3) C Paul
    4) Kobe
    5) B. Roy
    6) D Howard
    7) Yoa
    8) Garnett
    9) Nowitski
    10) L Odom

    Holy crap! Odom, as rating by the Roland rating, comes up as the 10th most valuable player in the ENTIRE league, lol. I say give the man his $10m.

    Also, another surprising (to some, not me) stat, is that the 4th most valuable player (again, according to the Roland#: http://www.82games.com/0809/0809LAL.HTM) on the Lakers is…Shannon Brown! And this is for the regular season. He played much better in the playoffs. I was one who was very pleased with the 2yr contract they signed with Brown. I think that he can become our next PG.

  82. Why in the world is there a cool sticker next to Garnett’s name? A cruel trick of fate i suppose, since i typed in 8 and ), it must have thought I was trying to place a cool picture next to Garnet, lol….whoever said that God has a sense of humor was right….

  83. http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-lakers-lamar-odom23-2009jul23,0,5117681.story

    This is more like it! Just resuming talks, but has the ring of truth to it, unlike all the other nonsense…

  84. 85, Among others, it was the great Mencken.

    ‘Imagine the Creator as a low comedian, and at once the world becomes explicable.’

    Explains Smush Parker’s career in a nutshell, methinks.

  85. The Times is saying what I heard tonight, that the two sides started talking again today but that’s it, no offer on the table:

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-lakers-lamar-odom23-2009jul23,0,5117681.story

    71. Why would Odom’s camp say 4/$40? To try and get that. Miami cannot go any higher. Nobody can go higher (save Portland, who doesn’t want to). But I still don’t think that will be the final figure.

  86. Shelden Williams mention in the LA Times article needs to be mentioned.

  87. Glad to hear their negotiating again. I guess now its only a matter of time…

  88. I miss Ariza.

  89. everyone says LO isn’t worth this, isn’t worth that. ppl talks about luke and sasha’s big contract. how come no one mentions Andrew’s undeserved contract, that’ll have him make almost the same amount as Pau Gasol?

  90. kenny,
    Andrew’s contract was covered last year and he is still expected to be a cornerstone of the franchise in the future. As a cornerstone, he still only got 3yrs, so I think the Lakers did pretty well for themselves.

  91. The long delay in signing Lamar Odom suggests that something is seriously wrong–and John Ireland has done a great job in suggesting what that “something” might be–especially when he went into detail on air about the “get Lamar signed” vs. the “business” factions within the Laker organization. If Lamar gets an offer at all, it may well be closer to $6 million than $10 million; closer to 3 years than 5 years.

    I suspect that Lamar’s negotiating opportunities may be even worse than Ireland describes. Not only does Lamar have no offer from the Lakers to consider, he may not have a concrete written offer from the Heat either. The five year MLE offer from Miami may have been little more than the “bait” part of a “bait and switch”–to get Lamar’s attention: it did!

    Because of salary cap concerns for next year, and luxury tax this year, Riley may prefer a “sign and trade” over a free agent MLE signing. Such a deal could get Odom more than the MLE, cost the Heat nothing additional in luxury tax or future salary cap status, and get the Lakers a player in return (possibly Beasley): win-win-win.

    If so, there would be many details to work out privately before any agreement could be openly discussed–not the least of which would be Lamar’s salary and terms–which might spiral the Lakers and Lamar back into an agreement to stay.

    Right now, the reason that Lamar is not signing with any team may be that he can’t–but stay tuned.

  92. LO obviously wants 5/50. The lakers offered 3/27, but would prefer something closer to MLE. The reason the talks haven’t been taking off since the Lakers retracted their offer is because they don’t wan’t to pay that kind of dough for Lamar unless they have to. They’re giving him plenty of time to find out his value, and so far, his value is the MLE that Miami has offered. There’s that chance that they could come around and match the $9M per year the Lakers previously offered, but that’s unlikely.

    LO’s camp will eventually see how green the grass is around the league, and my prediction is he will sign for more than 3 years, less than $9mill per with the Lakers.

  93. On a lighter note, I thought this was pretty laugh-out-loud funny, even for Lakers fans: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGmpM_ddhGs

  94. how is Kevin Garnet #8 in Roland Rating….he didn’t play half the season.

    Lamar…stay…please.

  95. 89 is right…Shelden does live here in LA right…at least his wife does during WNBA season.

  96. I knew Kobe was overrated!! The Roland ratings prove it!! And they also show that Odom should clearly be starting in place of Gasol. Boy, this will make PJs job a lot easier!

  97. Keep in mind that in 2007-2008, Odom had a Roland Rating of +2.4 instead of +9.2 in ’08-’09. In the 2007 season, Bynum was +8.4. I’m not sure what to make of this.

  98. Roland Rating is just the average of the player’s net production and his net on/off court +/-. So it makes sense that KG would be on the list, considering he has pretty good production (statistically), limits his opponent (good defense), and his team is much better when he is in the game versus when he is not. It doesn’t take into account the amount of time a player actually plays (excluding the minimum playing threshold), only how productive the player is in that span.

    And the only reason Odom’s Roland Rating is so high is because his +/- is third in the league behind Lebron and Chris Paul. Notice that his net production is a relatively anemic +4.3; the only other player in the top 20 with a net production below +5 is Rashard Lewis.

    However, I think this is pretty good evidence that Lamar’s value to the Lakers is much less measurable than the other Lakers, statistically speaking.

  99. I love Roland rating and the new stats, but remember this — they are tools, not answers. They can be used to help you understand basketball, but in and of themselves they do not provide enlightenment (no more than reading the words of Buddah alone would).

    There were guys making furniture in the 1700s with very basic tools that made art. There are guys with laser sites and the latest power tools today that make crap. It’s not about the tools, it’s how you use them.

  100. I wonder if the Lakers will set up a department of statistical analysis anytime in the future. It can only benefit them to have more advanced tools and evolved data at their disposal.

  101. 96. JDS, that video was an awesome find.. good job.. :D

  102. 102)
    “It’s not about the tools, it’s how you use them”

    Absolutely!

  103. Should the Lakers’ offer the vets minimum to Tinsley? Might solve the PG woes.

  104. Lamar is a good player. This is not a discussion. Everyone knows the Lakers are a much better team with him than without him and its exacerbated by the fact the team doesn’t have another back up big man. Lets just get Odom locked up and go out there and win 73 games already.

  105. And Tinsley’s strengths of pick and roll basketball are not needed on this team. He hasn’t been a productive PG for a few seasons. Brown is a better PG for the triangle than he.

  106. The Spurs picked up Theo Ratliff – they are building up a tough front line. Lamar’s bargaining position just got a little stronger.

  107. All this silence is killing me. Here in Miami today they just re-signed another of their big men, they now have 4 centers signed to their roster…could this be the begining of the end for LO in LA? I sure hope not. Please keep me/us posted out here on the “right” coast the moment any body hears anything.

  108. Would you really want a guy who was paid to stay away from the Pacers to join ours?

  109. “The Spurs picked up Theo Ratliff – they are building up a tough front line. Lamar’s bargaining position just got a little stronger.”

    How so? Does the Ratliff signing suddenly allow another team to offer Odom more money than he has been offered? The Lakers already know they are better with Odom than without. I find it unlikely that this is going to change their feelings.

  110. Agreed that Tinsley would be a bad fit. And, the Lakers are not going to sign another FA PG, there is nobody on the market right now they like better than Brown and Farmar. After the Odom signing (I thinkit will happen, just a feeling) the Lakers will waive Sun and go with 13 next season. Brown and Jordan will get playing time to see if one of them can take hold and be the PG of the future. But that is a post for another day.

  111. The Dude Abides July 23, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    109. Ratliff fits into the whole “old guy who can’t play anymore/or is injured” mentality that’s been part of San Antonio’s identity the past couple years.

  112. 96.

    Thank you for that link, made my day haha

  113. PJ Brown sure helped Boston with just a few minutes off the bench a couple of years ago.

    The Spurs by adding Jefferson, McDyess and Ratliff have added depth and experience. Why do you think playoff teams are always trying to add experienced front line players in the 2nd half of the season?

  114. Bargaining leverage could come from the now more urgent need for the Lakers to not lose depth and experience.

  115. Maybe the Lakers should pursue Stephen Jackson along with Tinsley, and perhaps look into Jermaine O’Neal too. That way L.A. would have most of the ex-Pacers who’d run afoul of the law or league offices gathered in one place.

    Rather than having fans riot outside Staples Center next June, the players could riot instead — maybe see if SJ could pop off a few rounds with his pistol. (Someone lie and tell him the arena’s really a nightclub.)

    Seriously, why even discuss Tinsley? Fisher also holds down the role ofslow, aging lefty point guard in these parts — but at least Fish is a good character guy with championship experience.

  116. I, for one, really like what the Spurs have done this offseason (for them, not so much as a Lakers fan). They have added depth and more scoring punch. But in the end, all that doesn’t matter if the Big Three aren’t healthy. If they are, that is a very good team.

  117. Coffee is for Closers July 23, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    Negotiations like these always intrigue me.

    Despite what some are saying, I don’t see Lamar’s leverage. It appears as if he has only one alternative, and it less than what the lakers are offering, for an inferior team.

    Now it appears like LO and his agent have had to come back to the table, and may not even get as good a deal as he could have received a week or so ago. Thats a tough pill to swallow.

    My question is, if you in fact, do hold the upper hand, how bad do you stick it to a loyal player that you want to perform for you over the next 3 years? Maybe you can get him for significantly less than you initially offered, but in the end, do you want a player in the fold who feels you’ve wronged him, especially one w/ lamar’s mental makeup?

  118. Can someone explain the Roland Rating in more detail? How does it take into account game situations. For instance, Odom’s rating seems very reasonable, since he has All-Star talent level but plays against the 2nd unit of the opposing team in the 1st half.

    On the other hand, can any really good player on a bad team ever do well on this measure? For instance, Durantula, an out-of-this-world player, rates as +1.8!

    In addition, above average players on really good teams with average subs don’t look as good as you would expect. Just compare Ariza’s +0.8 with Artests +5.6. Artest is valued as a top 30 player, Ariza as replacement level.

  119. It just seems like usage has more to do with this rating system than anything else.

  120. Actually I think both The Lakers and Lamar are both “bluffing without aces,” as redundant as that sounds.

    They both need each other and no good alternative exists. In that limited sense the “market” doesn’t matter, because it’s really a 2 party universe.

  121. Jefferson, McDyess, Blair, Ratliff is a pretty good upgrade from Bonner, Bowen, Oberto, and Kurt Thomas. They’ve still got the big 3, and some quality role players in Finley, George Hill, Roger Mason. It wouldn’t be a total shock to see SA make the Finals, even if the Lakers retain Odom. If everyone’s healthy, LA-SA in 2010 is a guaranteed 7 game series.

    Funny how no one is talking about Denver right now. I suppose they’ll be considered a contender, it just doesn’t feel like they should for some reason.

  122. The longer this goes on, the more I get the feeling that Lamar has more leverage than the Lakers. This is because Lamar’s alternative, signing for the 5-yr MLE in Miami, is not that much worse than signing in LA for 3 yrs/$27 mil or 4 yrs/$36 mil. However, the Lakers alternatives are much, much worse than Lamar. Is anyone really starving for a hot serving of Shelden Williams? I for one, am not.

  123. If the Lakers retain Lamar and complete health in 09-10, there is a not a team in the NBA as currently constituted that can beat them in a 7 game series.

  124. Speaking of the Spurs, I like what they’ve done in the offseason too, but who’s left on their squad that would stop Kobe? They play great team D, but they’ve always relied on a one-on-one stopper to contain Kobe before he even got to the rest of the team. I think their mentality has changed a bit – last season Popovich admitted on one of the broadcasts that the team needed to add more athleticism and scoring (as opposed to just stifling teams with D) to keep up with the teams. I think this offseason’s moves (picking up Jefferson, trading away role players with limited offensive games in Bowen/Thomas/Oberto) shows their commitment to this new theory. SA-LA WCF if we get Odom back, no doubt about it in my mind.

  125. I agree with Chris J. htat times like these make the rich get richer. But there’s something about a lowered Cap I think most peple do not see.

    A lot of people think a lowered Salary Cap will keep most of the stars with their original teams, I think it actually works in the Knicks favor, simply because theya re New York.

    Obviously, I’m referring to LeBron. Yes, he can make more in his contract with Cleveland, but given that he already grosses $28 mill a year in endorsements, that number can only grow being an icon in New York. Especially because LBJ wants to dominate the world and be a global icon. Add to the fact that they do not have to be as fiscally responsible as other teams, a lowered Cap helps them. They have to spend (see Isaiah’s Knicks) more than other teams.

    Finally, you can think about this. Anyone else who may join him in NY (should he go) has a greater opportunity to market themselves. Look at this “Follow me on Twitter” stuff, and youtube ventures. these players know how to market themselves and one or two stars might be better off in NY, being a big fish is a HUGE pond, rather than a big Fish, in the pond barely big enough for LBJ.

    Sorry to veer of the Purple path, but I think the lowered salary cap and impending changed CBA hurts Cleveland. Look at them now. They are already spending to the max. Their worth has never been higher. Look at the Knicks. They’ve sucked for years, and still make the most money and have the highest value. Think that won’t increase?

  126. I agree with zephid. lamar does have more leverage because he’s got less to lose.

    LO’s worst case scenario is walking away with his ring, signing for slightly less but for a full 5 years until he’s 35, and playing with pal d-wade in a place where he’s already got a house.

    but ours? I don’t even want to think about what would happen if we go against sas or den in the playoffs next year without LO.

    agree with #120 also. if LO came back to buss’ initial offer, I’m really hoping buss doesn’t take that back and offer less. just because you can and just because it’s good business doesn’t mean it’ll pay off.

    please let this be over with this week.

  127. even if the spurs are healthy, I still think we match up pretty favorably against them.

  128. Inwit,

    I think you are right. It is a weird scenario where LO, despite his talent, just doesn’t have a market right now. (I am not sure Miami has made a solid offer and even if it does, LO would be signing for half his current salary). So the Lakers are bidding against themselves. At the same time, LO is vital to the Lakers and if he walks they are potentially a Bynum injury or foul trouble away from an early playoff exit.

    Each party is waiting for the other to blink first – or maybe they are seriously trying to work out a win-win scenario. That is my hope.

  129. 128. This is a legitimate question to those that know more about marketing than I do:

    Does it really matter that much anymore what city a star athlete plays in? That was certainly true a couple decades ago, but today? In a world of DirecTV and the Internet, would LeBron really get more exposure in NYC? And most importantly, does it really matter in China and other emerging markets where he plays?

  130. Yeah, market value doesn’t really matter because the Lakers need Lamar pretty badly and Lamar needs the Lakers pretty badly, and no real alternatives exist for either. Moreover, both sides want to work something out with each other.

    Every rational factor indicates they would reach an agreement, so why this quagmire?

    Could this drag out until training camp starts?

  131. Kurt,

    If you look at commercials on, say, the NY Yankee cable network, local adds are reaching into a large population base. So Derek Jeter doing an add for an appliance store or car dealership, that on cable tv that reaches a market of 20 million people or so, means a pretty good payday.

  132. Coffee is for Closers July 23, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    I like SA too, and we lost a valuable weapon in ariza against parker. I remember a few times this season when ariza did i nice job of bothering parker, who’s always given us fits. won’t be able to do that w artest.

    I’m curious to see how much pop limits ginobli and duncan’s minutes this comming regular season to try and preserve them for a playoff run. he’ll definitely need to.

  133. Kurt to answer your question about marketing in a city like LA or NY vs Cleavland. I tend to agree with you that nowadays, with the internet providing everything instantly, there does seem to be an evening out of the “exposure”. (so no gain there)

    but on the other hand, things like being an extra on Entourage are the kind of thing that being a part of the big city provides a bonus that is hard to gauge the value, but it is an extra value none the less.
    this is just one of the many ways a celebrity, (and let’s face it, all NBA players are stars), like the Andrew bit at the Playboy mansion, or the rumors of him and that singer, (what’s her name? shows you how up to date I am).
    all these things amount to free PR/exposure, which has to translate to higher royalties to products from endorsements, so to answer your question…
    yes, I do believe living and playing in a major metropolis does benefit the talent in a financial way.
    also, winning and playing deep into the playoffs provides a similar lift, so LA does seem to have a double whammy for a Lift in exposure.
    good place to live, eh?
    we love LA!

  134. The Dude Abides July 23, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Re the whole SA debate here:

    Of course they’ve helped themselves, but they did so by signing McDyess, trading for Jefferson, and drafting Blair. Ratliff is marginally useful, at best. He didn’t really help Orlando in their series against the Lakers, did he?

    Also, no comments on post 69? Harrumph!

  135. P Manning plays for Indy (Indy!) and is in every freaking commercial. E Manning plays for NY and look ma I got a SB trophy too, but E is not so big a star. why? cause he’s got the personality of a potato sack. Now if Eli were playing in Tenn, his endorsement money would be even worse probably. I think the NY/LA thing helps a marginal guy like Lamar. Doesn’t matter so much to a superstar like Lebron, who creates his own gravitational field.

    If I were Lebron, I might decide better to rule in Cleveland than to serve the fickle demands of self-entitled NYers.

  136. OTOH, what’s there to DO in Cleveland? that’d be the bigger factor for me.

  137. I think our opinion of exposure is a little skewed because we’re sports fans. We watch sports, so we see sports ads. We’re overdosed on Lebron, Peyton Manning, Derek Jeter, and the like. But to the average person, someone who doesn’t watch sports, doesn’t follow sports, doesn’t care about sports, will know Lebron is he goes to NYC. His mass market appeal is much, much higher in NYC.

  138. 135. That was posted early this morning and nobody else has confirmed it.

  139. San Antonio is only doing what LA should have done. Signed TA and two big bodies to rebound and score occasionally on the inside. If we would have follwed that scenario, LO would be some other teams problem.

  140. Kurt wrote: “Does it really matter that much anymore what city a star athlete plays in?”

    I would say it doesn’t matter what city if they are a STAR athlete, or maybe superstar would be a better label.

    The superstars work in national and international endorsements and pick and choose what they want to accept money for.

    But the middle- and lower-tier athletes supplement their income with the local and regional endorsements. So for them, having a bigger industrial center with more and diverse opportunities means more in their pocket.

    One of the recent articles mentioned how Magic Johnson spent a long time on the phone telling Ron Artest what kinds of deals like that he would be in line for if he came to L.A., and maybe that swung part of the deal.

  141. 135. That source is terrible. It cites BlackSportsOnline, and you can go there to see how terrible his story is. That’s the guy who said that Odom met w/Dr. Buss two days ago in Vegas and they agreed to a deal. But then it was reported by Ireland that Buss is and has been in Hawaii.

  142. Kurt,

    Here is a link to a JA Adande article from late last year about the subject:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/columns/story?columnist=adande_ja&page=lebronbigapple-081126

    It talks about Lebron not needing New York to be a superstar.

    Adande actually does a pretty good job in the first half of his column.

  143. Players are magnified in certain markets, particularly New York, because so many of the media decision makers are based there.

    Guys like Jason Sehorn and Michael Strahan – who weren’t the NFL’s best players at their positions – landed all sorts of national TV deals because they played for the Giants, and many ad executives probably saw them play week in and week out. Same for Eli Manning, as noted.

    For superstars like Peyton Manning or LeBron, it won’t matter where they play; the cameras will follow. To wit, with LBJ we’ve seen a ton of attention recently over bootlegged footage from some gym in Akron. He’ll get his airtime regardless.

    Being on a winning team is more important, since winning teams get more TV exposure in the regular season and playoffs. That’s why we remember guys like Kurt Rambis or B.J. Armstrong — we saw them so much — even though there were dozens of better players when they were active.

    But playing on a winning team in a major media market? That’s the ticket to success and brand-building.

    Still, a key financial advantage that would apply to larger markets goes beyond marketing. L.A., Chicago, NYC and so on have more corporations based there and more residents, which means a larger pool of ad buyers, luxury box buyers, season ticket buyers, TV viewers, etc.

    If one segment of a large city’s economy goes dry for a time, others are often there to step in, and a franchise can keep its revenue rolling without missing too much of a beat.

    Contrast that to a place like Memphis or Sacramento. When the economy gets tight there, there aren’t as many local businesses able to fill the void, and that will hurt a sports team’s bottom line when the boxes are unsold, seats are empty and media contract value dips.

    Memphis has a ton of cap room, but does Heisley have the cash to spend on the team? Likely not, which in time means they’ll probably lose guys like Gay and Mayo to bigger markets or teams with superstars whom they’d prefer to play alongside in order to win, build their names, and so on.

    Contrary to his claims, I’d bet Kevin Durant bolts from Oklahoma City faster than a twister once he gets the chance.

  144. San Antonio

    Yes their moves look good on paper, as do Orlando’s, but I just get the feeling that there is nothing to worry about. I”m more frightened of Denver to tell you the truth, over SA. SA has no superstar on the team anymore –no Carmelo, Dwight, Kobe, Lebron, etc.

    Duncan is declining rapidly. Charles Barkley after SA was kicked out of the playoffs said it best. He said that people think Duncan will take an offseason and become refreshed and healed. When you are approaching Duncan’s age, you just get OLDER in the offseason. Your knees become worse not better. You are not refreshed, you’re just older.

    This is my feeling as well. Duncan is over the hill. Regardless of what SA does, they cannot beat the Lakers as long as we get Odom back.

    Also their pickups are a lot worse than people realize. Jefferson is NOT the same player he was 4-5 years ago. If you look at his numbers, they are not very impressive at all. The Bucks scored 1.7 points LESS when he was on the court, versus scoring .7 points MORE when he was off the court! So he had a -2.4 +- points scored. His defense is atrocious and Jefferson is a high volume shooter. He did score 19 points per game last season, but shot only 43% from the field. This is NOT a good mix with Parker/Ginobli/Duncan. What they needed in my opinion is a very efficient scorer who was excellent at defense. Trevor Ariza would have been an absolute perfect fit, and could have propelled them to the championship next year. Seriously.

    But Jefferson simple is not going to be a good fit. Dice is much better, but he is ancient, as is Ratliff.

  145. You cant tell me that by signing average skilled nba players around Kobe, Gasol, Artest, and Bynum, it wouldnt raise their level of productivity. Prime example, Ariza, he was a below average basketball player but got minutes with the first unit and shined. Everybody on the team is not a superstar because he puts up numbers, numbers are subjective to whom you are on the court with. LO thinks he is a superstar when in reality he is an above average player getting his numbers against the second string of opposing teams. When LO starts with Kobe and Pau he looks like an all-star, because they draw all of the attention. Role players are called just that, because they know their role on the team, and know that the sum of the entire team is what makes them seem above average.

  146. Lebron smokes pot!

    To be honest though, this book seems like a good PR move. He’s had a string of awful decisions that have just made him look childish (walking out on the Magic and media, and then the “Check My Stats” T-shirt after Kobe wins Finals MVP).

    But this one should be a smart move. Not the marijuana part, but the rest of it. Lebron has shifted tactics in marketing, now trying to show everyone that he’s just an average, human guy.

    Saying things like “We had become big-headed jerks, me in particular,” and “I was arrogant, dubbing myself ‘The Chosen One’” is a solid move that will appeal to those of us who see him as way too cocky. (No, I’m not saying the world will run to Bron with open arms.) But it’s the right chance in strategy.

    His primary strategy used to be to build up the Lebron image as flawless. Consficating the Nike tapes was part of that. From what I’ve read about the book, this is a 180. He’s now admitting his flaws, admitting he was arrogant, also passing off some of the blame (rightfully) on the hype system, and seemingly trying to portray himself as flawed and human. It’s an interesting shift, and I think it’s the right one.

  147. duncan doesn’t have to be a superstar anymore. he just needs to be solid. they had a pretty dominant big 3 when healthy.. now they’ve added depth and have young guys w/a year more of experience..

    as for RJ not being able to play defense.. remember this guy called ray allen? team defense is more important than the abilty to lock-down someone one-on-one. At the end of the day I’d fear the spurs simply because they’re the spurs.. they’re well coached, methodically, play solid defense. if they’re healthy they’re gonna contend RJ or not..

  148. If the point is good management builds good teams I agree.
    But if it’s money allows the accumulation of super-teams,not drinking the kool-aide.
    Knicks,Mavs and Blazers lead the League in payroll for most of this decade and have a combined 1 Finals appearance. San Antonio never reached the Lux Tax and has several titles.
    It is very possible the MLE will be abolished in the new CBA which would severely impact Lux Tax teams ability to sign significant FAs.
    Detroit had a pretty successful run w/ZERO max contracts.

    You could just as easily argue that this is the Return Of The Big Man era. 8 of 9 Finals had Shaq,Duncan or Dwight Howard on the floor and the one that didn’t had KG. Plus 6 of those 8 teams won(7 of 9 w/KG.)

    While most of the Finals teams this decade have been built on drafting a dominant player and then either trading for or thru FA acquiring an elite complementary player the Spurs again have shown that is possible to build thru the draft. It really seems that the best way to build a championship contending team is to draft a dominant player and then build a quality team around him thru the draft,trade or FA,w/one being a dominant big man. This is not dependent on money,but astute-and oft-times lucky-management.
    Sorry for the rant.

    BTW,in Houston there is the Yao effect whereby role players on the Rockets get pretty nice shoe/other deals in China.
    In smaller markets,Pro athletes are the most recognizable faces so they can get some deals that they would not receive in bigger cities. They may seem small,but it’s better than nothing.

    I may be a little out of tune on this,but it’s obvious the Lakers WANTED Artest. Given that,exactly why is Ariza wrong for thinking there were not going to be a whole lot of minutes for him and prob very few crunch time minutes.
    So exactly why is Ariza a bad guy,after a season in which he was a major contributor to a championship team,not wanting to sit on the bench and cheer his teammates on,instead preferring a chance to play the game he loves on the court?

  149. Stephen – totally agree with you on the idea that money doesn’t equate to good management, nor does being in a big market equate to success on its own. The Clippers prove that year in and out, as have the Knicks in recent years.

    But good management paired with a large market has an advantage over good management in a small market.

  150. I agree with Mike. It’s amazing how some players renowned for anemic defense change when they’re inserted into a top-notch defensive scheme. At the end of the day, the Spurs organization has done more than enough to be given the benefit of the doubt. They’ll be a solid contender if healthy. They are, and perhaps forever will be, the cockroaches of the NBA.

  151. WhiteLightnin’ July 23, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    Seems like Coffee for Closers hit the LO situation on the head with post 120. How does Lamar have the leverage in the negotiations if his other option is moving to a less familiar team with less of a chance to win a title for less money? That wouldn’t make sense…

    What does worry me (and Coffee) is how our front office will handle him now that they know the situation (Portland not interested, we will offer most money, etc.) favors the Lakers. I would prefer offering him deals similar to those they had offered previously (3 years/27 mill). I fear the alternative would be loosing him to Miami because our FO offends him with lowball offers or we retain a grumpy, unmotivated player who will not produce because his team: 1) moved him to the bench in a contract year, and 2) turned around the next offseason and played games with a loyal player.

    I’m not an expert, thats just how I would feel if I were Lamar. We need to sign him!

  152. isn’t it funny how ESPN hasn’t put up the video of Lebron getting dunked on by the college player on its site and instead has a video of the top 10 “poster” dunks? big surprise: Lebron is No. 1 on the list.

  153. it gets better alosargoles… reportedly espn was given the opportunity to buy the clip (the better quality version that ebaumnation.com put out), and you know how much they offered?

    $500.00 – what a joke.

    ebaum ended up shelling $5k and didnt even advertise that they had it until they dropped it when tmz dropped their lower quality clip

    $5k from ebaum, $500 from esp-freakin-n?

    Thats how much they cared to share the posterization of their poster child

    story here
    http://www.sportingnews.com/blog/the_sporting_blog/entry/view/28691/espn_offered_$500_for_lebron_dunk_tape

  154. http://cbslocalblogs.prospero.com/kcbs_ireland?entry=40

    John Ireland clarifies the reported deal the Lakers made to Lamar of $30 million for 3 years or $36 for 4 years; it was not $10 mil/3 years or $9 mil for 4 years.

    “The best deal the Lakers had previously offered was Odom was for four years, $36 million. But the fourth year was a team option, that the Lakers had to either exercise, or buy Lamar out for $3 million. That means Odom turned down a guaranteed three year, $30 million contract.”

    At the very least it’s information I hadn’t read or heard before and seems realistic although don’t know how that may have changed the equation for LO.

    Any thoughts?

  155. 149. Dirty Sanchez –
    You do realize that Lamar was an ALL-STAR in the league before he came to the Lakers. As a Clipper he put up significant contributions and for the heat he was pretty close to 20 10. I don’t know where you get your information from. Lamar has never been considered nor (probably) ever considered himself a “superstar”. He is borderline all-star material statistically; but he’s definitely an all-star in what he brings to ANY team.

    It’s like with Battie. He’d never get a vote to go to the all-star game. Statistically, it would be hard to justify it and aesthetically, fans won’t bite. But Shane is an all-star level player.

  156. When Derek Fisher came back to the Lakers, he signed for less than he had already been guaranteed by the Jazz. Ron Artest signed for the MLE–less than what he was worth–to come to the Lakers this year.

    Lamar Odom may be worth a MLE, maxed out at $35 million/five years to Miami. If the Lakers offered Lamar the exact same deal as Miami, he would probably make much more money in LA through his pay for playoff games/championships, endorsements, etc. than anywhere else. He promised to offer the Lakers a “discount” if they kept him. Some discount. At $6 million to $7 million per year, Odom would be difficult to trade–but not impossible.

    Lamar has no where else to go.

    Why is it fair to give Lamar millions of dollars per year more (when he is worth less) when the Lakers already gave others less (despite being worth more)?

    Is this Sasha Vujacich all over again?

  157. 160, I think the point is that the Lakers are not offering the same deal as Miami. For Miami, they would be offering the full 5-yr MLE, which would total to around $34 mil at the end of the contract (the total for Marcin Gortat’s MLE contract). So for Lamar to take LA’s supposed 4 yr, $36 mil with the last year only $3 mil guaranteed, he’d actually be making more salary in Miami then he would in LA. I don’t know how much Lamar makes in endorsements, but the difference is probably marginal at best.

    I don’t see how fairness comes into this. Lamar, like Sasha, is trying to maximize his utility. The circumstances for Derek were different. He needed to play in a place where his daughter could get treatment for her retinoblastoma, the only two being New York and LA. Already having a history here, it was extremely generous for Buss to offer Derek as much as he did, considering Derek had less options than Lamar does now.

    I find it hard to fault someone for trying to maximize their value. It’s like someone telling me that I have no business asking for a raise when I’ve done a good job for that particular company, just because the economic times are bad. Who would rather have the money: me, a working person who contributes to society and does charitable deeds, or the billion dollar company I work for that operates for profit?

  158. The Lakers MUST offer more than what Miami is offering. Lamar is definitely worth MORE Than the MLE. I don’t even know why this is a topic of concern. Surely Lamar is worth more in general, and to its team in specific, than Gortat is worth.

    If miami is offering 5/35, the lakers should offer 5/40. Also, I don’t understand how the Heat are offering 5/35 since that’s more than the MLE. 5/35 comes out to 7m per year while the MLE is like 5.6. Even with 8% raises, how does that equal 5/35?

  159. 160, the other difference is the “package” Lamar brings to the court is far less replaceable. Fisher’s a 6′ PG who is not particularly fast and doesn’t shoot particularly well, but he knows the Lakers’ system incredibly well.

    Artest is a very talented SG/SF, but his role could be filled by innumerable quick, 6’6″ defensive-minded players — the NBA is littered with them and most teams have 2 or 3 of these players on their roster. Granted, Artest is probably more talented than most of them, but putting most of these players within a specific role on a team like the Lakers is likely to be successful.

    On the other hand, there are few 6’10″ PF who can run an offense from the top of the arc, sees the court and makes great passes to facilitate the offense, post-up or stretch the defense with outside shooting, and rebound with the bigs … his talents are not replaceable by any one player in the nba not named dirk or lbj.

  160. How many fans here have run their own business? When it’s your business you are concerned about every aspect of it, including it’s long term future. You can only afford to be sentimental in a very limited situation, and even that situation has to have an upside for your business.

    Paying Lamar for 4/5yrs above his true value to the team because he will help us win a ring next year is not enough justification. Buss knows this, we fans seem to have no appreciation for it.

  161. I don’t get it. If the Lakers can get away with paying 9 million/year, that will be an bargain for the Lakers. Most of the top free agents still haven’t signed, mostly due to this recent economical climate. There’s a lot worse alternatives then paying Lamar’s production it’s true worth.

  162. The Dude Abides July 24, 2009 at 9:02 am

    My solution for the Lamar saga would be to offer him four years at $34 million, fully guaranteed. First year at $8m, second at $9m, third at $10m, final year at $7m. This way, both sides save face, the Lakers take a slightly smaller luxury tax hit next season because of the $8m salary, and for the second season the Fisher and Morrison contracts come off the books to help offset the large reduction in the salary cap.

    Lamar saves face in this deal by retaining the first three years at $27 million, so even though there’s a big reduction in salary from the third year to the fourth year, it’s still more money than any other team can offer. Buss saves face because 4 yrs/$34m is less than his original offer of 4 yrs/$36m, even though this lesser offer is fully guaranteed.

    A few months ago I posted that the Lakers should offer a reasonable 3 yrs/$27m and Lamar should accept. Apparently both the front office and Lamar’s agent agreed, and it was only Lamar who backed off. Yes, it’s ego, but I still think the world of the guy and he was the one for whom I was most happy when the team became NBA champs.

  163. (161) Zephid, as best we know right now, Lamar hasn’t been given any offers other than those by the Lakers. The offer from Miami you and others refer to was an “if we-would you” type of proposal that was quite complex–especially in years 4 and 5.

    Nonetheless, there are sufficient indications of interest to suppose that Lamar would be given a contract of some length at the MLE from some other team if he can’t come to an agreement with the Lakers.

    Lamar has his most value to the Lakers for next year, where the emergence of Andrew is still unknown. If Bynum successfully holds down the 5 with longer minutes (say 30+), the Lakers future team player development strategy may be to find a backup 5, with Gasol not migrating from the 4 to 5.

    Having lost his position at the 4 to Pau, there was hope last year that Lamar could return to his former position at the 3 as a starter. That never happened, and is less a serious option now with Artest at the 3. Because of this signing, Lamar’s minutes could even be tenuous next season–and could harm team chemistry.

    In some ways, Lamar’s signing for even three years at the $9 to $10 million being discussed on the internet and in the newspapers is worse than the signing of Sasha.

    Nevertheless, it makes sense for the Lakers to offer Lamar at least one year at perhaps $10 million just as insurance for next season whole both the Lakers and Lamar explore their options.

    You say, “I find it hard to fault someone for trying to maximize their [his?] value.”

    Lamar’s brinkmanship in this regard can be very dangerous. You might remember the terrific multiyear offer that Bonzie Wells turned down from Sacramento a few years ago. In case you didn’t notice, he played in China last year.

    I’m not going to even get into Latrell Sprewell’s need to earn money for his family . . . . .

    The Lakers, in later years if not right away, may be encouraged by you and many others to pay $10 million each year for a player to ride the pines until someone gets injured. I believe that reality, beyond money, is part of Lamar’s reticence to sign.

  164. 18 mil a year (9 mil + luxury tax) would not be a bargain, esp if it is over 5 years. Why should we pay more than market + a reasonable loyalty bonus?

    There are very few options for Odom even if he hates this alternative. Plus he was overpaid based on results/comparisons in the last contract.

  165. Why not 3 years at 9 million, and a player option for years 4 and 5 at mid level value? Then Lamar has at least the security of the Miami deal for years 4 and 5 (excepting the tax issue), and the benefit of the large amount the Lakers can pay for the first three years. If the market is good he can become a free agent in 3 years.

  166. 167, drrayeye, I believe that Lamar’s value extends beyond insurance for Andrew Bynum. Yes, a large part of what Lamar brings to the table is a contingency plan in case Bynum does not meet expectations or gets hurt again. However, the shift from power forwards to stretch-4′s is pretty evident in today’s game. Pretty much every team in the NBA has one true center and one perimeter oriented big man. This makes Odom invaluable defensively against teams like Orlando and Dallas, who utilize big men who are mobile with shooting range out to at least 18 feet. Yes, Pau Gasol is very mobile for his size, but asking him to keep up with Rashard Lewis, Dirk Nowitski, Chris Bosh, LaMarcus Aldridge, guys who pretty much live on the perimeter, for an entire game, let alone an entire season, is asking a lot.

    I agree that Odom’s minutes will be limited. If Bynum is healthy, I expect Odom to get around 25 minutes per game, slightly less than the beginning of this past season, but the advantage we gain against the players listed above is tremendous, especially in the playoffs.

    I too believe that 4 years may be too long. But I would rather over pay for Lamar now and pay the price later, giving us the best chance to win multiple championships during Kobe’s prime, than to worry about the future and lose out on a championship because we lost a key piece.

    And yes, Lamar is taking a big risk by pushing this as far as he has. But LA’s lack of options is a huge advantage for him, something that wasn’t true in Bonzi Wells’ case.

  167. I don’t ask for any discount from LO. He should, as Zephid says, “maximize his utility.”

    But here’s the thing: playing for the Lakers has lots of utility. Ron Artest gets that. He didn’t “take a discount,” as some insist. He took playing for the Lakers as part of his compensation. Also, he loves Los Angeles, so that was also part of his compensation. Derek Fisher wanted to be in one of a few select cities due to his daughter’s medical needs, so same thing. This is why people wanted Kobe to “take a discount.” If he takes less, the team theoretically has more to spend on teammates, something Kobe values (utility).

    But Jerry Buss also gets utility from winning titles (I’m pretty sure he doesn’t secure 21-year-old girlfriends on charm alone–or even money alone). So everyone has something to gain.

    The rest is market forces. So, if Lamar waits until Andre Miller signs with Portland, he’s toast. Then his next best offer will be $34 million over 5 years (which, by the way, is WAY less than $30 million over 3 years–even before considering that he is likely to make some sort of salary in those two other years after the Laker offer–due to what is known as the time value of money). Based on this, the Lakers should absolutely not offer anything like that. Why? as a present? Should he give it back if his skills deteriorate? Should Sasha give some of his salary back?

    No, the Lakers should offer $7 million per year for as many years as Lamar wants (with 8% raises if you prefer). If Lamar thinks that is too low, he can take just 1 year. if it’s security he wants, he can take 5. If the Lakers can offer even more years, fine. With this offer, the Lakers would be offering:

    1) more money per year than anyone else
    2) the opportunity to match the exact length of deal LO wants
    3) the chance to “stay home” with his current club and not ask his children to switch schools and his wife to switch friends (if you don’t think this is important, ask Hedo)
    4) the chance to play for the best team in the NBA
    5) the chance to play for fans who love him
    6) the chance to maximize off-court revenue (maybe. maybe not. Sometimes a big fish in a small pond gets better deals.
    7) the chance to support his teammates (including Ron Artest)

    No other offer matches ANY of this. So why should the Lakers offer more?

  168. >I’m not going to even get into Latrell Sprewell..

    but consider this for a moment, if only as the epitome of player stupidity. in the event, the Wolves felt they had no option other than to let him walk, thereby hastening their reversion to their norm; i.e., dreadfulness.

  169. Coffee is for Closers July 24, 2009 at 10:25 am

    Bill K and Craig – how dare you come in here with your common sense?!

    obviously as fans, some of us don’t care what it takes financially to bring a big piece back into the fold, but lets not forget besides this being a basketball decision, its also a business decision.

    dr buss has been a great owner, and has paid the money when warranted consistently over his ownership term. name me one other franchise in sports with the run the lakers have had over the last 30 years? maybe the yankees, and that sport hasn’t had any kind of salary cap for most of that period.

    $18M/year or so is a huge commitment for a guy who’ll likely be comming off the bench. I hope and expect it will get done, but I don’t blame the FO one bit for trying to limit the years. What if LO blows out a knee? Suddenly, you’re saddled with that kind of deal for the next 4 years for a bench player?

  170. re #166 – the dude abides “gets it”, and his proposal makes the most sense to me, (just a humble common outsider who is also a huge fan of a team).
    saving face…. very important in negotiations like this.
    for both sides, period.
    trey importanto.
    period.
    plus, it also makes sense on the luxury tax scenario, I hope this one is a deal being considered, because something like seems to have all the right pieces to be able to get it done.
    well said Dude, it really “ties the room together”.
    cheers

  171. The Dude Abides July 24, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Thanks Chris H…I just spoke with everyone of the Little Lebowski Urban Achievers and they also concur. Unfortunately, I’m still trying to convince Walter, who thinks we should just send Lamar a suitcase full of Walter’s dirty underwear.

  172. The best answer to my question in 171 (“why should the Lakers offer more?”), is The Dude Abides’ point of saving face. I think making the most money serves pretty well here. And does he save face by taking even less to play elsewhere? I think he just looks stupid doing that–or spiteful. People didn’t react well to David Lee’s assertion that Trevor would rather play for less elsewhere.

    Speaking of David Lee, wouldn’t Portland be better off with him than with Andre Miller?

    Also, in 171 I said that signing Miller would take Portland out of the picture for Odom, but I think I’m mistaken. I think I saw that they were considering a sign-and-trade option there, which would leave them in the mix for Odom and Lee. aqnyone know if this is true?

  173. Looks like Portland’s capspace goes to Andre Miller. If this doesn’t jumpstart negotiations with Odom, I don’t know what will.

  174. New post up where we get answers from Kareem while we wait for an Odom decision.

    Plus, we can discuss how Miller is a questionable fit in Portland. Really have not liked their summer.

  175. Suppose they offer $9 mil per yer. How much revenue does a championship earn Lakers ownership? Does it exceed the additional luxury tax?

    LO = Finals appearance, possibly championship.

    No LO = 2nd or 3rd round knockout.

    I’m sure someone will object, but this is a pretty reasonable prediction. The size and skill lost would just be too much. The whole league knows this; they’re all praying LO walks. I get this is a business, but it’s also sports competition. It’s not even fully about LO’s ‘worth.’ It’s about winning. How much extra $ is a repeat worth to them?

  176. “LO = Finals appearance, possibly championship.

    No LO = 2nd or 3rd round knockout. ”

    You must be joking,there’s still nobody in the west that can beat us in a 7 game series even if Lamar doesn’t resign.However I do think that we can’t compete with the celtics should they reach the finals.

    let me put it this way:

    With LO I’m pretty sure we will repeat(about 90% to be exact)

    Without LO I think that we will be able to reach the NBA Finals but with more difficulties down the road( 7 game series ,epic moments)

    But down there in the Finals,I don’t think we can beat the Celtics and the Magic without LO

  177. #180:With LO I’m pretty sure we will repeat(about 90% to be exact)

    you must be kidding.

  178. #181

    no,i’m not,that 10 % is in case of injuries
    with a healthy squad i’m 100% sure