Fast Break Thoughts

Kurt —  August 13, 2009

Celebrities arrive for the Lakers Game in Los Angeles, CA
Some things to catch up on after a long vacation for me:

• Really interesting post by a regular here and around the Lakers nation, over at the Lakers Usenet group Gary posted about the Lakers salary figure for this year:

(With the Odom deal) This makes the payroll $91,367,313 right now, with a potential luxury tax hit of an additional $21,447,313 if they are unable to shed any salary as the season unfolds, for a potential total payroll expense of $112,814,626.

Some of that has been recouped since the end of the season, with the $3 million coming from the Knicks for the 29 pick, the $1,660,400 salary + tax saved by selling that pick, the (estimated, I never saw a good figure but this is what Houston was giving for their 2R purchases) $1.5 for selling the 42 pick to Miami, and the $6,467,847 (escrow fund cash payment) and $363,087 (benefits payment reduction for the coming season) that they received on July 29.

Since all of this can rightly be seen as direct salary offset, that brings the real dollar payroll liability right now to…$99,823,292.

Remember when Larry (Coon) said the payroll budget for this year was $100 million? I think he was on to something, with a few table dances for Jerry to spare.

• Regarding Kwame a.’s fantastic post about the other contenders — after thinking about it, my contention is the Lakers are the contender with the largest margin for error. Last season they went into the playoffs with Bynum hobbling around on one leg and two key bench players (Vujacic and Farmar) shooting worse than I do in pickup games at the beach on a windy day. They still won the title. Going into next season they still have that cushion of not needing to have everything be perfect to win a ring.

You can’t say that for the Spurs or Celtics — if any of their key players are not 100% they are in trouble, and because of the age of those teams that is a serious concern. For Cleveland, having Shaq take up the minutes of the corpse of Ben Wallace is an upgrade. And for the record, I don’t buy the “Shaq will clog the lane theory” all that much — he won his titles with Kobe and Wade, two slashers who got to the rim. He can play with those guys (although Mike Brown’s offensive “system” is a concern for them). But what hurt Cleveland in the playoffs was a lack of consistent three point shooting and the inability to defend the pick-and-roll, and their off-season moves simply their off-season moves did not address the pick and roll issue. Basically, I still think you can attack Cleveland.

Orlando really gets two new players — Vincanity and a healthy Jameer Nelson. Last playoffs, if you could force Orlando deep into the shot clock, the result was Hedo launching a contested shot 95% of the time, but with Carter and Nelson creating their own shots that is one flaw that goes away. The team will be better for just having reached the Finals and been through that experience. They added depth along the front line. Carter kind of ends up like I see Artest — I think it should work out well, but it could go really wrong, too. Time will tell. But I kind of think Orlando is my favorite to come out of the East.

• Interesting post over at basketball statistics about the Lakers shooting trends through the shot clock.

http://basketball-statistics.com/blog1/2009/08/13/exploring-shot-types-at-the-team-level-los-angeles-lakers/

• Maybe the highlight of my vacation was taking in a game at Fenway Park. Not the Red Sox, who were out of town, but the “Futures Games” featuring two Red Sox minor league affiliates (Pawtucket and Portland). Fenway is a fun, intimate ballpark where you really feel on top of the action. The crowd is knowledgeable and into it. Just a great setting. But for the record Fenway Franks do not compare to the grilled Dodger Dogs.

Kurt

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34 responses to Fast Break Thoughts

  1. Kurt,

    You’re right on about the margin for error. For the “clog the lane” theory, LBJ isn’t getting the Shaq that Kobe and Dwayne got to play with. that Shaq demanded a double team. He freed the court up for them. This Shaq won’t. Plus , if the Cavs had trouble defending the PNR before, well that problem multiplied because Shaq was no good defending it in his prime.

    I think the Shaq move only helps if Dwight doesn’t improve his offense. It was a move directed at their problems with Orlando, but if Dwight comes back with a few moves, it may be voided. The Cavs were built to play the Celtics last year.

    I’ve been watching the NBA tv Magic Johnson tribute, and watching the games just makes me feel that the Cavs should run every opportunity. Watching the Lakers get the ball to Magic on every missed shot, block, and steal, then watching him run the break so effectively just reminds me how dangerous the Cavs would be if LBJ was speeding down the floor every chance. Especially since they improved their athleticism.

    Vince was aimed at us. He plays Kobe decent.

  2. I think the clog the lane hypothesis is something we non-cavs fans are latching onto hoping that it comes true. Same way I’m focused on the good things about Artest now that he’s here to stay. No point worrying about the potential down side now. While Celtics and Cavs fans will focus on Artest’s downside out of their own hopes and fears.

    We’re all partisans here.

  3. “Clog the lane” hurt the Suns because Nash thrived running all around the floor and under the basket. Shaq cut that off.

    Shaq is still good enough to keep defenders honest at least and LBJ is definitely good enough to find him should Shaq’s man help. We’ll find out. I actually hope it works though. I would like to see them in the Finals.

    Defense is the real question, think.

  4. Definitely agree that Orlando should be the favorite. The only X-factor IMO is the fact that Boston matches up so well with them (esp. Perkins) that they might be able to nullify the superior talent. We saw how important matchups are last year.

    Whoever came up with the move of requiring the world to pretend Duncan is a PF (whether Duncan himself or an agent) is one smart dude. Decades from now he’ll be remembered as the greatest PF ever, instead of being ‘in the discussion’ with Kareem, Russell, Wilt, Shaq, Hakeem, and the other great championship centers. We should have all pretended Kobe was a 3 from the beginning.

  5. Sorry for the triple post.

    Isn’t Fenway great? When you’re there, you realize why ownership improves instead of rebuild. You feel like you’re watching a baseball game in someone’s backyard.

    How’d you like those $8 beers?

    Pawtucket is the next town over from me. 5 minutes away.

  6. I don’t think it’s kosher to subtract the salary of the first round pick from a total that never included that salary to begin with.

    Likewise, the escrow reimbursement mitigated 2008-09 expenses, so shouldn’t be applied to 2009-10.

    That said, in addition to the windfall from the 2008-09 escrow, the owners are pretty certain to get all the 2009-10 escrow money — which means the payroll (but not the tax) will actually be 9% cheaper.

    So with a payroll of $91,341,066 (the similar amount that was listed above is incorrect), the net payroll cost is $83,120,370. Add the tax of $21,421,066 and you get $104,541,436. Subtract the “found” $4.5M for the draft pick trades, and the end result is $100,041,436. Close enough to $100M to deem it “mission accomplished” for Kupchak — especially since the true payroll costs (and therefore the true tax costs) are inexact, and rely on end-of-year reconciliations like adjusting for bonuses that were earned or not earned.

  7. I didn’t know this, but evidently Derek Fisher had the 4th highest assist/turnover ratio in the league last year for PG’s and had the 4th fewest turnovers all season. That’s like the definition of solid ballhandler.

  8. Orlando has alot of mouths to feed: Vince, Lewis, Dwight and Nelson. Their offense is fairly simplistic and they have a shooting point guard. Also, I’ve never really been convinced (no pun intended) that Vince is a winner.

    Now that Boston re-signed big baby, they are looking pretty deep.

    Hard to say with Shaq. In a contract year he will demand the ball alot to get his numbers, but there are diminishing returns now. And Lebrons idea of “inside out” basketball might be a little different from Shaq’s. Plus they have so many new players, they might need 2 years to really jell, but with Shaq and Lebron as free agents, there might only be one.

  9. RE Shaq clogging the lane for Lebron:

    I think it comes down to two issues. First is what Kurt mentioned – how creative will Mike Brown be on offense? If more movement is incorporated into their offense and/or if Shaq is not always on the strong/ball side, I don’t think this will be much of an issue at all. As Wondahbap points out, Lebron is a gifted passer and Shaq is still a threat to score at point blank range. So Lebron should have plenty of options to drive towards an empty post and either finish or look for Shaq or look to a spot up shooter as everyone rotates to the basket like dominoes falling (Shaq’s man => Lebron, Corner shooter’s man => Shaq, Lebron passes to Corner Shooter).

    However, and secondly, if the Cavs continue to isolate Lebron at the top of the key OR if they use Shaq as the primary screener in P&R situations, I do think spacing will become an issue for the Cavs, especially in the opening of lanes to the basket that Lebron likes in order to finish at the rim. I mean, Shaq is not a threat to pop off a screen and shoot a jumpshot. Nor is he athletic enough to roll hard to the hoop and finish with explosion above/around the rotating helper (in fact, in these situations he kind of looks a bit clumsy now). Also, because Lebron has not refined his mid-range jumpshot (ala Kobe or Wade) his P&R game is limited to stepping back and shooting the 3pointer or bulling his way to the basket. Now, both of these options are pretty effective for Lebron (and his drives are still amazingly efficient), but when the big man who sets the screen is not an athletic finisher nor a spot up shooter, the defenders’ jobs on the P&R become easier (this is why Big Z is a good partner for P&R with Lebron – he can shoot the 20 footer after setting the screen). Long story short, if Lebron is running the P&R with Shaq, I’m not so sure he’s going to be able to get the shots he’s used to getting because defenders will be playing him differently than in past seasons. And unless his mid-range jumpshot improves, he may indeed find himself with a “clogged lane” or said another way “less space to operate”.

  10. Regarding the Shaq clogging up the lane discussion:

    Let’s be honest…what are the odds that Shaq is actually going to be healthy? Seriously? Last season, with Phoenix’s superhuman training staff, was an anamoly. I see Shaq missing anywhere between 20 to 40 games this season.

    Come playoff time, my guess is he’ll be playing hurt, which will further hurt his mobility.

    Forget the X & O’s issues, the biggest problem with taking on Shaq is the impending injury that hangs like a cloud over the season.

    I love Kurt’s explanation that the Lakers have the biggest margin for error. I think it’s absolutely true.

    Let’s say, worst case scenario, Ron Artest is an absolute disaster.

    Come playoffs, the Lakers can throw out a starting lineup of Fish(or Brown), Kobe, Walton, Gasol, & Bynum. That’s still a team that can contend for a title…even if it’s not as formitable.

    As far as Orlando goes, I think they’ll be a terrific regular season team.

    Playoffs, though…Hedu was a terrific passer…Vinsanity…not so much.

    Though, he does play Kobe well, so we’ll have to see…

  11. the celts may not have as good a margin of error as us, but it’s not a stretch to think that a returning, dethroned and re-ubuntu-ified kg will did what he did in ’08 and put his team on acid.

    big crybaby’s back with more playoff experience and a huge clutch shot on his resume. shelden williams (should we have gotten him for the min?) is at an nba-or-bust crossroad looking to redeem his duke image (alltime block & boards leader). marquis daniels is a decent backup at the 2 and 3 spot, bringing his 13/4 from last season off the bench. and sheed just might revert back to sheed of, if not ’04, ’06?

    this celtics team would’ve gotten past orlando and cleveland last year and met us in the finals. I’m thinking about them more than the cavs and the magics, maybe just because we’ve never really paid them back for that game 6.

  12. Kurt, I couldn’t agree more with the idea that the Lakers have the greatest margin for error. In addition to simply awful play by two key reserves, and the virtual nonexistence of Andrew, you can add the fact that Trevor Ariza was a liability against Denver, and would have likely been so against Cleveland had they made it that far. The amount of energy that Kobe expended defending Carmelo Anthony was incredible. Had game 3 in Denver gone the other way, that series could have been MUCH harder to get out of.

    I think that when you add the likely health of Andrew, improvement in the games of Farmar and Sasha, and the big upgrade in defending large SFs, I think the Lakers are going to be a much more formidable team next year. Of course, that assumes that they stay reasonably healthy, but the same could be said of any contender.

    Finally, I am among those who does not think the Lebron/Shaq pairing is likely to work. For one thing, your reference to Shaq’s ability to play with Kobe and Wade is not very compelling. Shaq is nowhere near the player today that he was back then. At that time (even in his championship year in Miami) he could (and did) put a team on his back and carry them. That Shaq is long gone. Moreover, Kobe and Wade were both far superior perimeter players than Lebron is. Much of Lebron’s damage is caused by driving the lane, whereas Kobe and Wade are threats from outside and possess superior midrange games. I am still inclined to believe that Shaq’s huge size and lack of mobility will be a problem for Lebron, unless James develops a much better midrange game this summer….

  13. 8. agree that cavs will need serious jell time. miami had a better supporting cast and a younger, in-better-shape shaq back in 05 and it still took them 2 years + bennett salvatore to get them their rings.

  14. All of these teams are so close in their level of talent, the season will come down to one thing: knees. We’ve all heard the issues about KG’s knees, Manu Ginobili’s knees, and Andrew Bynum’s knees, but more needs to be said about several other pairs of knees, namely Shaq’s knees, Ray Allen’s knees, and Tim Duncan’s knees.

    Shaq is on his last knees, whether they hold out and last till his 38th birthday, a date which most of his contemporaries never made it to, remains to be seen. Taking the pounding of an 82-game season, being depended on as a scorer, rebounder, and defender, as well as having to shuffle his feet to cover pick and rolls on nearly every possession, I’m seriously doubtful that Shaq will last the entire season. I still like the Cavs as a team, but saying they can depend on Shaq in the playoffs is like Boston claiming they can depend on KG in the playoffs: there’s a good chance it won’t happen. Shaq may give them a nice improvement against Dwight Howard, but if he is out, their team will simply be returning Anderson Varejao and Big Z, the same duo that got destroyed by Howard last season.

    Ray Allen just turned 34, a classic-age in which most shooting guards begin to lose their knees. Will his jumper be as pure and beautiful as it has been when his knees are giving out from beneath his weight? The Celtics’ potent offense relies heavily on running Allen through a myriad of screens, and getting separation from his man depends heavily on his foot speed and explosiveness. So far during his tenure in Boston, Allen has not had a significant drop-off in production. His per 36 numbers are mostly down, but he is shooting above his career averages in all three major categories. It seems rather tenuous to expect Ray Allen to produce the same results this coming year now that his knees are a year older and he will pass the 1000 game mark this coming season.

    It doesn’t matter if Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker are both 100% healthy in the playoffs: if Tim Duncan is not there to lead the way for the Spurs and hold down the paint, they will not go to the Finals. They may have a nice 2009 Celtics post-season run, relying heavily on some spirited play by their PG and SG. Even with Antonio McDyess putting a stop-gap on their problems at center, it is Tim Duncan who makes that team a contender. We saw at the end of last season when Tim Duncan’s knees literally gave out from underneath him, limiting him to less than 33 minutes per game in the playoffs.

    For this coming season, more than any other issue, the deciding factor will be injuries. The top 5 teams are so bunched that any team can have a solid case made for them being the championship favorite. In this way, one injury can take away a team’s championship hopes.

    In this way, I agree with Kurt, we have the largest margin of error, because we can absorb the most injuries. But in the end, I think trying to predict the upcoming season comes down to asking the question, “who is more likely to sustain an injury?”

  15. I like Orlando out of the East as well. They will be good if Nelson is healthy come play off time. They are the team that I think match up the best against the Lakers. The Spurs match up well if they are healthy but when was Ginobili healthy last?

  16. CLE is a match-up nightmare for just about every team in league. However, the league’s elite teams are match-up nightmares for CLE.

    LAL, ORL, BOS, SAS, and ORL have good picksetting centers/finishers and good ballhandlers/decision-makers.

    IMHO, their success is going to depend on whether they can be more efficient than other teams. There’s not a lot of room for error. Teams aren’t going to be turning the ball over much when they’re simply pick-and-rolling them to death.

    I feel they’re going to have to outscore teams to win, and that’s not going to be easy with Varejao in there. Can’t space the floor with him. Can’t defend PF’s without him. Can’t trade him.

    They’re going to have to play Lebron at the 4 more often, and hope that doesn’t sap his strength and stamina.

  17. Snoopy2006 (#4),

    i see what you mean about duncan. he’s going to go down as one of the greatest PFs (if not the greatest), even though he’s played a lot a center. let’s extend this argument to gasol: what do you guys think? is he a power forward? a center? a f/c? or would you rather just call him a really good big man? with the game these days evolving, it seems that the lines between different positions are being blurred ever more. yet, i find myself still needing to define players by their position. snoopy, i understand your notion that maybe kobe should be defined as a 3 instead of a 2 (and thus avoid the whole comparison with Jordan – which is unfair to both), but then people would compare him to lebron. And then everyone would go crazy, saying that lebron would easily outstrip kobe in terms of statistical contribution. but they are different players, playing different positions in completely different offensive systems, and both are monsters for their respective teams. that is why i don’t buy the “lebron is better than kobe because his stats are way better” – kobe, as a shooting guard in the triangle offense/SSZ, does not require him or even want him to accrue to kinds of stats that lebron does for the sake of his team. i still believe kobe is up there because of the intangibles (the clutch plays) he brings to the team, his unbelievable work ethic, and the lack of weaknesses in his game (he is able to post up with unbelievable footwork, has unbelievable range, and is extremely deadly from midrange). these are things that lebron has yet to bring into his game (which may or may not happen – he is still young, but i don’t know if he’ll able to manifest the skill needed to do so, as kobe has). well, there’s my rant. tear it apart as you guys wish (or you can compliment it).

  18. Playoff games are won with execution of games that come down to the final three possessions.

    The healthiest team and the team that maximizes their halfcourt sets in the final minute of a close game will win the Championship.

  19. 5. Sadly, I consider $8 beers at a major sporting event about the going rate. And I’ll usually pay more not to have to drink Bud/Miller/Coors.

  20. Lakers have the largest room for error, but unfortunately, we are also the team that fluctuates the most. We were a few lucky bounces away from being eliminated / losing etc.

    Shaq and the Cavs will be interesting, because honestly, I don’t see how Shaq can be any worse than Ben Wallace. Injury or not, he’s better, and clogging the lane stuff is part LBJ’s responsibility – if he is more consistent with his J, nothing’s gonna stop him.

    Orlando will be, I think, one of those ‘better on paper’ teams. That’s the Vince factor at work ;) But I think Van Gundy having enough weight to throw around his team might do wonders.

    Boston, we’ll see what KG is like. I don’t think they have a shot out of the east without KG.

    Spurs without Manu isn’t really a threat, I don’t think. I mean they will compete, but Manu was the difference…

  21. Yup, Orlando is the team to beat in the East for me, Boston still has that PG weakness that I see, Cavs didn’t address the needs I think they have, in which you mentioned and none of the other Western teams impress me enough to put them ahead of the Lakers. Lakers can repeat, now all they have to do is make it through the season.

  22. I don’t see the Shaq move helping Cleveland beat Orlando. Howard only went one-on-one against Cleveland because they had nobody who could guard him, but it’s not like they routinely dump the ball into him and just let him go to work (like Yao for example). His offense is still largely rudimentary. What Cleveland must do is stop the pick-and-roll (Vince is at least as good as Turk at running it), and we all know how well Shaq defends that.

    Also, I don’t see Vince as anywhere near the risk Artest is. Not only is he demonstrably better in practically every respect than the guy he’s replacing, his only ‘baggage’ is his tank job in Toronto several years ago which has stuck to him ever since. Compare that to Artest who needs a whole plane to himself to carry his suitcases.

  23. #4 Snoopy,

    I completely agree. I have the magic as the 4th on the list of the elite 5 —

    1) Lakers
    2) Cavs
    3) Celtics
    4) Magic
    5) San Antonio

    The Magic are simply NOT good enough to win the championship in my opinion. Vince Carter is 32 years old. The guy will be 33 by next years playoffs. This is about that time when superior athletes fall off their game and fall off hard. Someone like Kobe depends more on skill than athleticism in my opinion, while VC depends on his physical traits.

    Also, VC is 6’6″ and not a wide load. Hedo on the other hand is 6’10″, is wide, and is crafty as hell. This guy knew how to use his body. He reminds me of my high school PE teacher. I’m very athletic and this guy is an old geezer with a serious limp. I was the best badmiton player in the gym and i could never beat him. It was ridiculous. You would think that i could shoot the bird to the corners of the court and tire this guy out –no way. He was so incredibly crafty with his shots. An old wily coyote. That’s what Hedo reminds me of. And this wily coyote is what causes matchup problems for the rest of the league –you have two perimiter 6’10″ players who can both shoot the lights out in Rashard/Hedo. Without Hedo, they go back to a normal team.

    Also, they do get Jameer back but how much better than Alston is Jameer? Not much in my opinion. Alston is a true point guard. He plays tough D. He is a playmaker. Jameer on the other hand is a shoot first guard, who cannot play D. I say that it is an upgrade with Jameer over Alston, but not by much.

    And what about their other pickups? Bass is like 6’6″ even though he is listed 2 inches taller. I don’t know how a guy that short will play PF for them. All of a sudden, they go from a tall team to a shorter team, especially when Bass is in the game. And the loss of Courtney Lee is also substantial.

    I’m not worried about the Magic. I’m worried about the Cavs and to a lesser extent the Celtics.

  24. #8 inwit,

    VC not a winner you say? VC is a loser. He loses at things. That’s what he has been up to now. Will he change going forward? Perhaps Dwight may be able to pull him along on his coattails, but i doubt it.

    Vince has been in the league for 11 years. He has made it to the playoffs for only 6 years. He has NEVER and i mean NEVER EVER made it past the 2nd round of the playoffs. The Nets went to the NBA finals back to back in 2002 and 2003. VC got there in 2004. They never again made a deep playoff run.

    Will it be different this time? Maybe. People can always change and do better. But there is no doubt that VC has been a HUGE disappointment as an NBA player. He is talent wasted. He is a loser.

  25. Re: the PF/C debate

    I think your “true” position is not just where you play on offense… but where you play best on defense.

    The reason Tim Duncan is a true PF is because he is best on both ends of the court at PF. Is Bynum a better player than Duncan? I don’t think so. But when they play head to head Bynum outplays Timmy. Its because Duncan isn’t a true Center. He is more comfortable at the forward spot. He isn’t as effective against big and athletic Centers like Andrew Bynum… but he can still guard and dominate thin and quick PF’s like Kevin Garnett. So mark down Tim Duncan as a PF please.

    Pau Gasol is also a “true” PF. He got pushed around and almost shutdown by average Center Kendrick Perkins in the finals. But when he went against all world PF KG he scored on him at will in the post. Gasol faces up and shoots from the outside and also plays better D against PF’s. Gasol was always known as a PF until he came to the Bynumless Lakers and had to play the Center spot by default. So mark down Gasol as a PF too.

    Long story short… if you play better on offense against PF’s and play you better on defense against PF’s… you are a PF.

  26. snoopy #4-

    that should be: i completely disagree (not agree)

  27. 23, Vince Carter has not depended on his athleticism for the past 3-4 years. If anything, people criticize him for his love of the three-point line and not driving to the hole enough. Hedo may be crafty, but last year, Vince Carter shot better from three, better from 2, shot more free throws, at a higher percentage, and averaged almost the same number of assists despite playing on a much, much lesser team. And according to ESPN, Hedo weighs 220 lbs, and Vince weighs 220 lbs, despite being 4 inches shorter. I doubt that classifies him as wide, but he’s definitely stronger than Turkoglu. The only real question is whether Vince Carter has the mental fortitude to handle winning. That’s a legitimate concern, but everything on the court points to Vince being simply a level above Turkoglu.

    And look at Jameer Nelson’s numbers from our 2 regular season losses to the Magic last year. 11-16, 27 points, then 9-18, 28 points, 8 assists, and 6 rebounds. He is the big reason we lost those games, because he absolutely destroyed our PG’s one-on-one and our help defense wasn’t good enough to cover on him. And Rafer Alston has never even been considered an all-star, whereas Jameer was selected by the coaches last year. So, yes, Jameer Nelson is a much better player than Rafer Alston.

  28. new post up saying happy 50th birthday to Magic.

  29. I’m in the camp that thinks the Magic are the east favorites. Some point to Vince being a downgrade from Hedo, but my take is that Nelson and Brandon Bass (yeah, I said it) are going to make the difference.

    I really don’t see the loss of Hedo hurting them that much. I remember watching them early in the season before Jameer went down. Hedo was an awkward fit in that system without the ball in his hands. He was the 2nd best creator they had. Jameer was clearly their 1st option to create plays.

    Without Hedo creating the offense, they had to force Hedo into an offensive role that he isn’t fit for, and force Rashard into playing the 4, which isn’t the right defensive role for him.

    Now Nelson is back, and with Bass at the 4, they can shift Rashard to his natural position. Instead of having two SF’s, they have a SF and a PF. And instead of having 2 guys that play their best ball running the PnR, they have 1 guy.

  30. happy birthday magic (buck)

  31. magic was the greatest ever

  32. Dunk Specialist August 14, 2009 at 11:59 am

    I think people are ignoring that Lebron’s jumper has gotten better every year. He is overrated as a player. A great point I always remember was that Jordans best years stat wise were the years he wasn’t winning titles. Jordan was better when he didn’t try to do everything, much like Kobe. But back to Lebron, the Cavs will be better because he should be better and this might be the year he is actually the best player in the league. So maybe Lebron can PNR better with a legit jumpshot (assuming thats what he is working on improving). H still fades way too much but maybe this year he won’t have to. But I still am most afraid of the Magic. Nelson will eat us alive so Bynum better be well enough to offset this. But even if we don’t win a championship this year I really like this team and will enjoy just watching them. Go Lakers!!!

    PS Happy Birthday Magic!!!!!!

  33. Kurt,
    Two things:
    You don’t a stiff ocean breeze to shoot poorly. You saw the Pawsox? The minor league parks around there are very cool.
    Hope you had a good vacation.
    LM

  34. Post Should read:
    You don’t need a stiff ocean breeze to shoot poorly. Nor do I need one to write poorly.
    LM