Finally the amount of Lakers news to discuss will pick up as camp opens, starting with Phil Jackson speaking to the press Friday. Then there is media day next Tuesday (followed by the start of camp). Honestly, the words spoken on media day may be the most useless thing in the NBA. The problem is useless is better than nothing, so we’re watching.
• PJ really didn’t say much unexpected at his sit down. He wants to keep Fisher to about 22 minutes a night and let someone else step up, something we all basically expected. He said he is going to experiment with lineups, including maybe a Kobe/Artest/LO/Gasol/Bynum lineup at points. Again not a shock, the versatility of this team is one of its biggest strengths and PJ has a lot of options to go with and look at (although I really do look forward to seeing that grouping). He said defense will be key and Artest makes them better there. He said the Lakers are better “on paper” but chemistry matters and we have to see how that plays out.
Basically, he said the things Lakers fans have been talking about all summer. Can’t wait for games so we can start to see these things play out.
• Not to give away too much of my season previews early, but here is my general take on the upcoming NBA season: Any one of five teams can win the title as currently constructed: Lakers, Spurs, Cavaliers, Celtics and Magic. (Other teams, such as Denver, could enter that elite grouping with a trade, but may be just short right now.) Of that group, the Lakers are the team with the largest margin for error — things do not have to go perfectly for the Lakers to win it all (they won last year despite a one-legged Bynum in the Finals). The Spurs and Celtics need to stay healthy, and that may be asking a lot. The Cavaliers need Shaq to defend the pick and roll and Mike Brown to be a good end of game coach. The Magic need Vince Carter to fit in.
I honestly believe going into a season there are tiers of contenders, the Lakers are in the best spot on the top tier. That’s all you can ask of a GM and owner. Making it a reality takes a combination of will from the players, coaching and luck that cannot be predicted right now.
• One thing I am rooting for with the Cavaliers — Coby Karl to make the team. He just got a camp invite. I liked him here in LA and at Summer League he looked like a guy who belonged on an NBA roster. Not a starter, but the guy can contribute (just not too much if it is with the Cavs, please).
• Really fascinating piece over at TrueHoop about fouling at the end of the game when your team is up three and the opponent has the ball. Phil Jackson said last year his rule of thumb is to foul in that situation with five or fewer seconds left (Stan Van Gundy got the same question and said six). Now people are bringing math to problem and… there is not yet a definitive answer. There are just so many variables (How good a free throw shooter is the guy you foul? Can you foul him on the dribble so he can’t get into the act of shooting? How good an offensive rebounding team is the team your playing, should they make the first and try to miss the second?). And no answer is going to be right 100% of the time, which makes it all the more intriguing.
• For those of you that watched Flash Forward last night, we have no idea where Kobe or the Lakers will be on April 29. If you’re going to watch the show, here comes the SPOILER ALERT: In the show, everybody on the planet blacks out and has a vision of a specific time in the future, the evening of April 29 (10 p.m. LA Time). One of the characters, reading the sports page on the john, says that he reads a story about Kobe blowing out an ACL and being out for the season. Well, he’d be out for the playoffs as the Lakers end the regular season on April 14. No way to know what the Lakers schedule will be then yet. But let’s hope that this show doesn’t foreshadow anything.
• Speaking of television, my two cents on Top Chef Las Vegas: Kevin is my guy. Like his high-end Southern food and anyone that does candied bacon jam is my hero. But I would be good with Jen or either of the brothers winning as well. So far in the show, the only person I’ve been sad to see go is Hector, everyone else seemed out of his or her league. And there are a couple more of those left (hello Robin). Also, I thought the Joël Robuchon episode was one of the best ever. That was a true test of what these chefs face in the real world, not who can make food that doesn’t taste like crap cooking on a campfire. But so far, really enjoying this season.
• FB&G is more a community than a blog. As we head into this season, if there are things you want to see us do — from specific posts to general things with the site — let me know. Put them in the comments or shoot me an email (link is over on the right). I may not be able to do it, or maybe I can, but I want to hear what all of you want to see, too. Just don’t say you want the details on Lamar’s wedding.