Notes From Lakers NBA Training Camp

Kurt —  October 2, 2009

Game 5 - Magic vs. Lakers
We took notes last night on the Lakers broadcast that was put on by NBA TV.

• One thing that was interesting in the Lakers “Real Training Camp” compared to the. Denver one last night was coaching and practice styles. Denver ran a lot of 5 on 5, they were working on specific things within that (particularly offensive half court sets), but it was more like a scrimmage. The Lakers spent the first hour running drills that simulated some standard offensive sets in the triangle (for example a pass into the high post then passer cutting through the key, making a U and setting up 15-18 feet out on the wing). The Lakers were working on the details of the offense and recognizing it through drills.

I’m sure the Lakers run 5 on 5 and Denver runs more drills, but it was two very different styles.

• Andrew Bynum seemed to move fairly well, at one point blocking Josh Powell twice in a row followed immediately by a block of Artest.

• I liked Tony Gafney’s hustle.

• I think one thing we’ve been discussing on this site needs to be made clear. We’ve talked about how the current Lakers lineup (with Artest and without Ariza) is more of a half-court team. And it its in the sense that we will see fewer traditional fast breaks. But that does not mean LA is the Spurs.

The Lakers have two very mobile big men in Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, and the Lakers got a lot of easy points last season on a secondary break — basically Gasol would beat his man down the floor and get deep post position, get fed the ball and score 7 seconds into the shot clock. That is not going to stop. Also, with the Lakers improved defense they are going to get some turnovers that lead to easy buckets.

The Lakers were fifth in the league in pace last year, I expect they will drop to about the middle of the pack. But don’t confuse that with too slow a team.

• Note to the execs at NBA TV: If someone is watching training camp footage on NBATV, they are a hard-core fan. Real Training Camp is not drawing in casual fans as viewers. So please, give us something hard core fans want other than a couple of guys spending the first 30 minutes of a broadcast sitting around talking generalities. Or tedious commentary. Get people on that feed the knowledge of hard-core fans, not the casual ones.

to Notes From Lakers NBA Training Camp

  1. So true about NBA TV’s coverage, know who you’re talking to… Kurt, you should consult for them, hell, me too.

    Who’s going Opening Night to see the banner?


  2. I have to say I found it slightly amusing that Reggie Miller in his glorious infinite wisdom decided the Lakers would challenge the Bulls record of 72 wins to be possibly the best team of all time and then fall short to the Celtics in the finals. I have a feeling over the next 100 years of NBA basketball every team that wins 72 plus games will win an NBA championship without a serous injury in the playoffs. Just a hunch.


  3. Your last point is dead on. Instead of talking much about the action, what was going on, it was just a bunch of fluff. I turned it off a little over an hour into it (gee, guess we are hardcore after all…)


  4. YES! To the last point.


  5. I do think a large reason of the boring “Real Training Camp” was due to Phil’s disdain for things like that.

    He doesn’t like being mic’d up for games, and he wasn’t miked up for this. so, I think he intentionally held back what was shown in the practice.

    When we did see some form of instruction, we couldn’t hear him. The whole time I was hoping Jim Cleamons would stand next to him.


  6. Kurt,

    I believe this is my first time posting, but I follow your blog and am strong Lakers fan and supporter. (I live in NYC but get NBA League Pass to see all the Lakers games). Totally agree with your assessment of real training camp. I would have liked Bynum or Phil Jackson to be mic’d up instead of Odom’s sniffing and Jim Cleamons “yea boy, good hustle”. Phil wasnt mic’d up but everyone was silent while he spoke so it was just a low volume for the audience.

    Kobe and Artest are looking buddy buddy.

    Instead of the pointless banter by Rick/Reggie, I would have like to see some footage of the Lakers in the weight room or a Kobe/Ron 1-on-1 matchup or a shooting contest.


  7. Ugh, I completely agree on your last point. Rick Kamla is like nails on a chalkboard in human form.


  8. I guess I no longer regret missing training camp. Too bad, it really should be a hardcore basketball fan’s dream.

    Did people see the note that Bynum is ditching Kareem?

    I wonder what direction Bynum is going in exactly and under whose influence. Am a little concerned about the general pattern of Bynum wanting to do things his way not the Lakers way. It makes me worry if Bynum’s going for Allstar the right way for the team (become defensive monster, dominate board and be a threat in deep post position) or the wrong way (try to average 20, trying lots of high post moves and jacking up lots of midrange shot).


  9. As long as Bynum can shoot 55%+ and make his FT, I don`t care how much he shoots I want to see what kind of lift, quickness, and explosion he has this year. Is he back to Jan 08 and 09?


  10. Apricot, thanks for the link. That was a concerning article. I hope Bynum is smart enough to realize what an opportunity he has with Kareem and not squander it.


  11. I don’t really care who mentors Bynum, or if he wears a brace.

    I just hope he removes that ugly midrange jumper from his arsenal. We already have a 7 footer who can shoot those with way more consistency. Seriously, if he just gets down low and bangs, he can score 20 a game off of putbacks and transition buckets.

    And the luxury of having such a deep team is that if Bynum decides to go for stats at the expense of the team, Phil can just park him on the bench until he decides to fit into his role. We won the west the last 2 seasons without him, Phil can afford to teach him a lesson. Same goes for Ron Ron.


  12. Haywood Phillips October 2, 2009 at 8:56 am

    Absolutely spot on with the last point. The commentary was worthless and I’m not a fan of the NBA TV guy.


  13. I wonder how a combination of Thorpe and Walton would be in covering the practices. At least we could hear someone tell Drew to throw it down and we’d get well thought out and condense commentary.

    On the Drew front, I don’t see the problem with him stepping away from Cap. First, even with the injury woes, Drew has played more games (high pressure ones too) then KAJ did coming out of UCLA, and nobody thought Kareem needed a special coach once he got to the NBA. These years with the Big Special Assistant have been much more then any big man who had a full 4 years in college would have had and Drew should mentally be at least as advanced as any big man has been by their second year of the NBA. The kid is ready to be a man if only his knees will let him.


  14. We Laker fans usually think we know best. And we think others (read players) should put aside everything else to make sure the Lakers come first. Never matter that our family obligations occasionally override our Laker demands.

    It is with this background that I say – let’s cool it with the pointed suggestions regarding Andrew Bynum.

    Kareem learned from the best coach in college basketball and he didn’t always do things the way John Wooden wanted them done. Still – his career puts him at or near the top of the basketball hierarchy.

    I wouldn’t put too much stock in reports that Kareem and Andrew aren’t as close as they once were. Life seems to work that way.


  15. I agree with P. Ami and Craig W. I don’t see Bynum reduced tutelage from KAJ as anything to worry about. How much more could he possibly teach him after 4 years that he hasn’t already? Let’s face it. Bynum and KAJ are different players and Bynum must realize that by now.


    I wouldn’t say Bynum goes for stats at the expense of the team. I just think Drew is a guy who feeds off of his offensive exploits. That can change though. KAJ can’t necessarily change that. PJ and the teammates can because they are involved in game action. We saw it in the Finals. Bynum saw what his defensive presence meant and it gave him confidence. It took him most of the Playoffs to realize it, but I think he did because of how Phil handled it.


    • I think Craig W. hit the nail on the head, if he keeps working on his game with a new mentor, if he keeps learning and performs it’s fine.

      By the way I’m writing this in the airport on my way to Chicago, but things here will keep going.


  16. pau got a haircut!

    now if we could only get him to shave.


  17. Well said Kurt, I watched the whole thing, but was a bit disapointed with the coverage as well.


  18. Anybody know why Pau and Fisher didn’t take part in the drills?

    Denver was more interesting but they had an early game so they needed to do 5 on 5 right away.


  19. I agree with the notion that we can’t read too much into the change in relationship between KAJ and Bynum.

    But I completely disagree with # 13 P. Ami about Drew having played in more high pressure games than KAJ coming out of college.

    Please revisit KAJ’s career and what he did at UCLA and in three straight championship runs, not to mention the Houston game and rematch.

    I don’t see any stretch of high pressure games that Drew has played that can compare at all to what KAJ did in those three years. There were a ton of big games in that stretch.

    Drew has played in 1 NBA finals series where he was in foul trouble and hurt. The rest were regular season games where there was not nearly the pressure of the games KAJ participated in during UCLA tourney runs and maintaining UCLA’s dominance with only one loss in that streak.


  20. I really hope the NBA is listening, but I’m guessing they won’t. They don’t listen to outside opinions that much…

    Rick Kamala has been forced upon me so much the last few years that my opinion of him is actually as nuanced as one of Fareed Zacharia’s opinions of international relations. I’m still unclear how this happened.

    Before I saw the story on Bynum and Kareem I was actually thinking that there had to be some diminishing returns there as the kid got older. Yeah he has more to learn, but at some point the chick has to leave the nest and learn on his own.


  21. This isn’t on the topic of training camp, but has anyone else been following Abbot’s correspondence with the Mavs’ stat guy, Wayne Winston?

    Here’s a link to part 3:–Mark-Cuban-s-Stats-Expert-Isn-t-Bashful–Part-3.html

    There’s been some pretty interesting stuff in there, although I do think the numbers sometimes cause him to see things that aren’t there (e.g. Lamar is better than Kobe because of +/-). I thought this tidbit was interesting:

    ‘OK, this is what they closed with: Trevor Ariza, Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. That’s 18 points better than average. And isn’t that the one that closed every game? That’s a good lineup, and they played that one the most.

    Artest will be interesting.

    Another good lineup is if you take that same thing, but put in Luke Walton for Fisher. Or Walton for Ariza. That’s just as good. Doesn’t make any difference.

    This lineup is off the charts, and didn’t play much: Bryant, Gasol, Odom, Luke Walton and Shannon Brown.

    That lineup won by 55 points a game. They played 50 minutes together.’

    Granted, that last lineup has a really small sample size, but it’s intriguing information nonetheless.


  22. I agree with most of you, it doesn’t matter who Bynum is learning from, as long as he is learning.

    And at least he had the good sense in the beginning of his career to accept the tutelage from KAJ, unlike Olowokandi who acted as if KAJ was a nobody.


  23. I know I’m not the first person to say this, but Kurt, I could not agree with you more on your last point.

    Who exactly is NBA targeting? This is footage of freaking training camp! Only nut-jobs like us are actually going to watch the Lakers practice.

    Consequently, NBATv should have the telecast moderated by true X and O guys or coaches.

    I was more bothered by the results of their “mic’ed up” segments. Jim Cleamons barely said a word, and during the one potentially interesting conversation Lamar had, at one point half-way through the telecast, the camara focussed on Lamar and Kobe talking for a good long while with Artest standing nearby, freaking Rick Kamla droaned on for five minutes about some cliched/stupid/inconsequential observation that no one cared about. FINALLY, he says, “Let’s listen in to what Lamar and Kobe are talking about” and their conversation is over.

    I loved the concept of “Real Training Camp” but the production and moderating of the show could not be worse.


  24. Here’s the actual “Is Odom better than obe” post:

    Note he actually hedges the language more in the post and provides his numbers.

    But this shouldn’t surprise us here. We talked all last season about how odom’s +/- figures were surprisingly stellar. Finally Kurt took a game and just watched Odom to get to the bottom of it and basically found him doing all the proverbial “little things” that go into winning.

    But without a solid team to support in that way, his +/- wouldn’t necessarily be as good. And kobe goes a long way towards making this a great team to support. But it also means that Pau Gasol is also really really good at providing that base for Odom to support, and the real story is how much better they all were when they played together.


  25. I don’t know why he takes a swipe at “conventional wisdom”. “Conventional wisdom” that watches Lakers games would tell you the rotations have something to do with the +/- stats.

    LO and Pau played a good amount of minutes against 2nd units. That helps a great deal.


  26. 26- it’s adjusted +/-, which is supposed to account for that kind of thing


  27. Oh. Thanks.

    How exactly do you adjust for that?


  28. I tried to watch Real Training Camp, but Kamla and Miller make my ears bleed. How those 2 are still employed is anybody’s guess.


  29. On Bynum. I have an open mind, but would have felt better if he’d said I’m working out with X to work on my power game, or whatever, instead of just no more Kareem.

    On Winston stat guy. Interesting stuff. I have mo doubt that adjusted +- tells you a lot about relative lineup performance on a team (eg Lakers are best if Pau LO and Kobe play). I am suspicious of its use ACROSS teams as in “KG had the highest +- so he’s the best player of the decade.” There are the obvious confounders, like different teams playing different systems on O and D. Then there are the subtler ones, such as players being scored higher for being a lot better than moat teammates (eg. Kobe on a JV squad would have a massive adjusted +-). But all in all, I’m glad to have someone sharing insider stat analysis like that.


  30. Last note on Bynum before I sit back and (hopefully) watch him return to explosive Bynum of old.

    Phil says everyone on staff is dying to get more Bynum time, since Rambis used to be the guy (I did not know that…)


  31. A question for Kurt & company : Is Artest going to hurt the Lakers transition defense?
    – From a shot perspective, if Artest is taking more diagonal 3’s than Ariza are the Lakers going to be more vulnerable to runouts (see nba hotzones)?
    – From a getting back perspective Artest is not as good an offensive rebounder as Ariza and may not be as good getting back to cover fast breaks?

    Overall, I am more than happy with the upcoming Lebron, Pierce, Melo, etc matchups but transition defense could be an issue


  32. j. d. hastings’s Agent October 2, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    28- with secret math.

    several different groups have their own ways to account for it with algorithms either too complicated or too precious the share with us.

    That is the biggest problem with every adjusted +/- number. The opacity. Without seeing the actual equations it’s impossible to know which question the numbers answer.

    But with this guy from the mavericks, he’s also paid a lot to collect and crunch these numbers and doesn’t want to give them away…

    So yeah. His numbers were able to tell Mark Cuban that Jason Kidd was the second best player in the league (after Lebron) a year after Cuban took so much criticism for trading Devin Harris.

    That is convenient, but on the other hand I don’t generally consider Cuban to be a sucker.


  33. Mavs stat guy claims he recommended small lineup for Mavs against GS. Not sure I’d be bragging about that one.

    Which brings up,who really made that decision? Since he says he has no contact w/Mavs other than by e-mailing Cuban,how did the Mavs coach come to decide to scrap his normal rotation? Was he over-whelmed by the stats Cuban showed him,or was it Cuban telling him what to do?


  34. #33,

    So, it’s exactly what I thought. Bullshhh. I don’t care how smart the brain is that this formula comes from, it’s nothing more than guessing. Very smart guessing, but guessing none the less. You can’t put a mythical number on “talent.” That’s my problem with “adjusted +/-”

    Seriously, I need to become a mathematician. If these owners and GM’s are willing to pay good money for bogus “stats.” P.E.R., Wages of Wins, adjusted +/-, etc. Theoretically, it’s all make believe. Smoke and mirrors. None of it matters.


  35. Kind of makes me ok that I don’t have NBATV right now….that real training camp show is something my wife especially would enjoy but not in its current incarnation. She digs the segments in NBA games where they do “mic’d up” and hear tidbits of banter between players about strategy, what they are going to do after the game, joking with a teammate, or the coach barking out something no matter what side. Those are the things are appealing because you can’t hear that normally. It is especially focal THIS time of year before the real game starts for nuts like us. I completely agree with Kurt on the last bit.



    • Adjusted +/- and the other stats serve a purpose and can supply another perspective, but using only stats. Would be as smart as using the opinion of just one scout. I don’t really need to list all the stupid player moves recommended by scouts over the years to verify that, I think. But if a stats guy can give you a perspective that opens your eyes to something new, as a GM I would want that.

      As for Cuban and his system, is that the same one that told him to let Steve Nash walk at his peak then trade out Harris for Kidd? Wherever his advice on the backcourt is coming from it is poor.


  36. J,
    I guess it all depends on how you rate pressure. I see what you’re saying with Kareem’s games at UCLA but one could argue that with only needing to win 4 games in the tourney and then only having played 3 seasons (seeing that freshmen didn’t play on the varsity squad in those days) thats 13 pressure games (including the Houston game). Drew played more games then that in these playoffs alone. While he wasn’t as successful, that doesn’t change the level of pressure. Couple this with having to play with an injury, which can explain his performance level and adds pressure, I think Drew could argue he’s a much more experienced player then Kareem was at that age.


  37. Kurt,

    You’re right. I didn’t mean for my comment to come across as completely “anti-stat,” nor solely “pro-CW.” I too feel there is common ground between the two. It just bothers me when a person chooses to use new “stats” of their own design to form definitive opinions.

    Can they help? Sure. The should be used because “CW” can be wrong as well. There is no definitive rule on what really makes a productive player. But when someone claims “such is such is better because my formulas says this or that” that is just wrong. Just as much, if not more, than the scout or GM who used his “knowledge” to pick Olowokandi or Kwame Brown #1 overall.

    I guess I’m over sensitive to advanced stats because they really don’t seem to be far enough along yet, and I don’t want basketball to be viewed like baseball. I think we lose perspective in baseball because everything is about numbers.

    By the way. Mark Cuban spends a lot of money on his roster for someone who believes in the use of these advanced stats. It should at least save him some money, if it’s not netting a Championships. It does make you wonder what he’s paying for.


  38. Mark Cuban also spends a lot of money on his roster, without any real results (banners) to be talking smack and motivating the Lakeshow with his Artest banter. His team has got to be pissed at him for providing a little extra fuel for the head-to-heads. A great business mind that takes everything personally and has just enough excess testosterone to be able to make rational decisions.


  39. Great, October 30th with Dallas and a motivated Artest to show the world that he will FIT in with the Lakers and their Triangle, I do believe that is possible. I am really looking forward to Bynum coming back again this year and dominating like he has shown that he can in this league.


  40. j. d. hastings’s Agent October 3, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    I think there are values in the adjusted +/- stats. If you go back to the infamous Battier/ Darryl Morey article it delves into how Battier achieves a high adj +/- without stats and whatnot. Everybody knew he was a glue guy already, these #s just kind of proved it.

    The problem is that the process of “adjustment” requires subjective refinement. Places where you tweak the equations to get closer to consensus reality. If your numbers come out and tell you that Zach Randolph is the best winner in the game, you have to go back to the drawing board. If you told your boss to trade one of the best young PGs in the league for Grandpa Kidd, maybe you tweak them to show that you were right…

    There’s an explicit thumb on the scale, so every time you come up with an outlier result its as easy to attribute it to the thumb as to it being some great insight.

    However, one of the best ways to minimize that effect is by adding more, consistent data. So the Mavs guy talks more about playoff series where you have several games of numbers, and most of what he says isn’t that controversial.

    The Odom figures agree with what I remember from last season. And the Mavs guy said in the Truehoop interview that this was the Lakers best lineup at the end of games, when scrubs aren’t playing (though you could use the excuse that the result says more about Bynum and Josh Powell than Kobe, but they claim to adjust for that also).

    I don’t disagree with the numbers- I disagree with the interpretation of them to mean that Odom is “better” than kobe. The eggs in a cake may have more to do with holding a cake together than the flour, but I wouldn’t say that makes eggs better than flour. The numbers just tell you the results of certain line-ups and confirm that the best lineup for the ends of games are Pau-Kobe-Odom.

    If you’re in town, I’ll be signing this novel at the Emeryville Borders tonight at 6.


  41. Has anyone thought that it might be KAJ’s fault and not AB? KAJ is known for being difficult to work and (dare I criticize a legend and say) an Ahole in some circles. I love him as a player, but if he were the best at coaching/mentoring, he’d have more coaching experience than he currently does – even Coop has a better resume at this point.

    Cut Bynum some slack….at least until we see a few games out of him and his rested body.


  42. j. d. hastings’s Agent October 3, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Cuban’s talk about Artest doesn’t worry me. Half of us here were saying the exact same things last year when Houston signed him.

    Every team’s fans create an offseason narrative that will allow them to have hope (or despair) going into a new season.

    We do the same here:

    -Shaq to the Cavs: he’ll disrupt their offense (do the cavs have an actual offense to disrupt?)

    -Sheed to Boston: He and KG are both over the hill

    -Jefferson in San Antonio: Whether Ginobli can stay healthy is a bigger factor than whether Jefferson is on the team.

    -Mavs bring on Marion: Clearly Cuban is all about finding Chemistry guys to populate his team. Are they still starting Eric Dampier?

    Its all just an expression of what we hope is true. The season itself will play out as it will, possibly proving all of us wrong.


  43. More worrying to me is the other part of that article – that Bynum basically spent the summer as a giant kid on vacation. Sure, he’s young, but most of us don’t get paid $60 million either.

    So it’s on him to show that he was right. Maybe he really did need the rest. If he comes back and starts dominating (or at least starts regaining his old form), then I have no problem with the vacation. But generally speaking, it’s the gym rats that improve their games (see: Bryant, Kobe). Which is why I’m not happy with Bynum’s lengthy time off, but I’ll reserve judgment until I see how he plays.

    My favorite NBA headline for quite some time, via Yahoo: “Grizzlies eager to learn from Iverson.”

    Also from Iverson: “The fun part about being a veteran is that you get a chance to lead guys to places they’ve never been before.” Normally strip clubs and bars, but still, he’s taking them places.


  44. Also, too long to paste here, but this is one of the simplest and yet smartest points David Thorpe has made:


  45. Only problem with Cuban’s comments is I doubt his team will be in any position to take advantage if Artest does implode.


  46. Kurt,
    It is easy to criticize letting Steve Nash go in hindsight, but he wasn’t getting it done for the Mavs while he was there and it was time to make some kind of change.

    His success in Phoenix could as easily be attributed to his coach. I suspect he wouldn’t have fit in on the Lakers either. His defense would have placed him on the bench at crunch time when playing for Phil.


  47. The fact that Cuban made those comments make me feel even better about Artest’s addition. The whole thing just reeks of jealousy and insecurity. He is just praying he is right and is trying to talk himself into believing it. Because in reality I believe he feels nobody in the NBA has a chance now to compete with the Lakers.

    When Artest was given to the Rockets last year (you all may forget) but the Rockets were predicted to be challenging the Lakers because of his addition. I guess without Ming and Tracy he did take the Lakers to 7 games so it wasn’t that far off. But when he comes to the Lakers you will get a lot of bitter and envious basketball people bashing the move. Its typical.


  48. Mark Cuban is one of these guys who made his fortune in fried chicken or what not and then suffers from the delusion he’s an all-around genius. (I know it wasn’t fried chicken; it was an internet bubble company).

    Quite amusing, especially when the Warriors knocked his team out of the playoffs in ’07. Wasn’t that the year after the Lakers knocked them out, and Cuban and his coach blamed everything under the sun, except the Laker’s superiority?


  49. that winston thing is intriguing, but i think you should not be relying on them. instead, you should know how it’s calculated and see if you are missing anything.

    but, no matter how good stats are, they don’t really take into account that there is a go-to-guy on the team, the guy who has to do stuff that is not good for him statistically. Take last second, off balance shots over many defenders. Take buzzer beating cross court shots. Create something where there is nothing. And most importantly, other players on the floor knowing that there is such a guy and laxing a bit.

    I’m sure that if you’re on the floor with Kobe, you’re not as desperate to create your shot and move hard without the ball as you would be without him on the floor. Part of it is Kobe’s fault as he ‘demands’ to take shots in those situations, but such situations are also created because players know that they can be bailed out.

    But if you are on the floor with Lamar, maybe you’re not placing as much trust on that soft lefty layup. So you probably work harder to create something in case he misses, or more likely, in case he just can’t make something and has to pass.


  50. R,
    The year before the drubbing by the Dubs was a trip to the Finals where he got jobbed by the refs letting Wade forearm his way to the rack against the MVP of the league.


  51. Honestly, I get the feeling Phil focused more on drills than the Nuggets that day cause he knew NBA would be filming it. Didn’t want to go through the whole playbook where every other team could see it. You can tell coaches like Phil and Pop try to give as little as possible away from their in game interviews on national TV games.


  52. Aaron (49),

    “When Artest was given to the Rockets last year (you all may forget) but the Rockets were predicted to be challenging the Lakers because of his addition.”

    I laugh about that all of the time. In one year, he went from the guy who some picked as a reason continual play-off failures T-Mac and Yao would get to the Finals, to the reason that a defending Champion team led by Kobe, coached by PJ is going to crumble. All of this after a season in which he played well and didn’t make any news.



  53. wondahbap,
    Sort of reminds you that the talking heads have very selective memories – organized to continue to validate their specific prejudices and biases.

    Once set – like Kobe is selfish – it is virtually impossible to change their minds. They will shade any fact to reinforce their own security with their conclusions.


  54. Re Cuban and Artest.
    He’s simply stating what many here have expressed as a worry-that Artest might not fit in.
    Keep in mind there were three teams last yr who really pursued Artest-Houston,the Lakers…and the Mavs.
    (If you want to question Cuban and the Mavs,forget the past-ridicule them for thinking Drew Gooden is going to be this yr’s starting Center!)

    The new stats have their problems-PER gives way too much weight to offensive rebounds for example-but as said,can be valuable as another tool-just not as the be-all of basketball info.

    In support of Harold’s #51 point about Kobe,the Rockets averaged 2 shots per game LESS the 2 yrs McGrady missed most of the season compared to the previous yr. Two seperate coaches,identical results. Noticeable last yr was how often the Rockets had 24 second violations,quite often 3-4 a game. W/McGrady they rarely had 24 second violations. Those off-balance hurried beat the clock shots Kobe,LeBron,Wade,Roy,McGrady take might rarely go in,but there’s the chance they will plus getting an offensive rebound and there’s no chance of scoring on a 24 second violation.


  55. 54, 55 – I agree it’s definitely sketchy, but if you were to play devil’s advocate, you might be able to make a thin case. We’re the defending champions with a perfect balance, and so people (like many around here) are worried adding a new piece might upset the delicate balance. In other words, we were already at the top, and so people will naturally think messing up that balance might bring us down. But the Rockets were perennial one-and-done in the playoffs, and so the media was ready to believe Artest was the missing piece. They weren’t worried about chemistry or anything with the Rockets.

    Yeah I don’t like it either, but it’s the talking heads. Can’t expect too much more.


  56. On a side note, I just saw the ESPN front page, and it struck me how nice it is to finally have 3 true powers in the East. Three legitimate contenders who have to battle it out with each other, finally bringing back some intrigue to the Finals.


  57. 56 Stephen wrote on October 4, 2009 at 9:30 am
    “Re Cuban and Artest.
    He’s simply stating what many here have expressed as a worry-that Artest might not fit in.”

    True enuff. However, he also got into it with K-Mart in the playoffs, which I doubt any of us on this board did.

    The take hoime lesson: Cuban is a horse’s behind; he’s not nearly as smart as he thinks he is. And boy, is it fun to watch the Mavs fail!


  58. 49) good point on the jealousy tip. I remember when we traded for Pau and he missed the first couple of games due to a back injury. At the time there were people saying there would be all kinds of issues : 1. Gasol’s health 2. Lack of inside defensive presence 3. chemistry issues when Bynum comes back. After a few games with Gasol, those detractions went away.

    We will know after Christmas whether or not Ron was a bad addition. If we win that game, no questions asked. If we lose and Lebron posts 40+, there will be some questions.


  59. For the big bang fans here –

    gets a lot into the psychobabble that i didn’t consider (i just like the nerd jokes) but happy to see its successful


  60. i can’t seem to order tickets for opening night on ticketmaster; can anyone confirm if it’s been sold out?


  61. anyone seen Hollinger’s PER projections yet, he has Bynum for 22! Thats higher then kobe and 9th in the league. We can only dream he’ll be that good


  62. Then I can dream that P.E.R. matters.

    Let’s hope Drew doesn’t see that. it might encourage him to shoot more when he should find his groove by defense and rebounding.


  63. Have people heard about Artest’s vicious response to a Lakers fan, the one who wrote that Open Letter? I haven’t yet read the first letter so I can’t really judge Artest’s response, only that it was immature either way. But not as big a story as some are making it out to be.

    I guess you can’t cage, warn, or even talk to a pit bull. The whole story’s here, if anyone’s interested:


  64. I wouldnt call last years team perfect by any means, although they won it all. LA needed to improve in two areas from last years team (defense and intensity). Artest is an upgrade in our two biggest weaknesses as a team last year. This team will improve by accepting a different challenge than the year before. This season with a different mentality and focus, the challenge will be not to see if we can get up off the floor after gettig smashed by Boston, but to see if winning made LA relax and take things for granted. . In competition you never want to rest on what you did in the past, but what you want to accomplish in the future. The buzz about Artest and the healthy return of Bynum will be plenty to keep their minds focused on the task at hand and not on what happened last year.


  65. Surpised Ron actually took this self-important, small-minded troll seriously enough to respond.

    I found the letter pompous. Who is this guy to lay down an ultimatum he has no power to enforce? Get real, dude.

    He imagines he is some sort of spokesman; he outlines what is acceptable and what is not, and he thinks Artest actually gives a damn about his approval. The tone of his letter is condescending, and its author is so self-absorbed it’s ridiculous.

    (edited for language.)


  66. I second that.


  67. Why is air time being given to this guy? I could care less about Artest aside from he plays the greatest game on this green Earth, plays it on the greatest league, and is now a member of the greatest franchise. Otherwise who cares? Meanwhile this dude who wrote the open letter might as well have opened a vein for all I care.


  68. Agreed. It was pretty clear from Artest’s initial reaction that he didn’t read the letter; he was responding to the guy’s statement that he “laid down the law.” The whole thing is pretty ridiculous, but at least he posted an apology after some commenters helped him come to his sense, as it were.


  69. I don’t understand why True Hoop bothered to link the post. (Scratch that. I mean,I know *why*.) I just didn’t think it was worth the pub it got.

    So, Ron responded. That was easy. If you follow Ron’s twitter account, you could also call him and talk to him or Shin Shin, and he answered a lot of tweets.

    The dude who wrote his letter got his moment in the sun. So what to the letter and the response. I can’t wait for the games to start.

    Now….let’s talk about Sasha at the point.


  70. I disagree with the comments here that are against this Laker Fan. I thought his argument for Artest to be mature and act like a veteran, and play basketball the right way, were reasonable and not in any way condescending or ridiculous. It may have been a little presumptuous to speak on behalf the entire Lakers Nation, but his points on how Artest should play and compose himself are what every Laker fan is rooting for, and hoping for, albeit the ones with a health skepticism.
    The ‘ultimatum’ style of writing was more an artistic choice in my opinion, the general content that he was making was valid.
    In this scenario, I thought Artest acted egregiously and should have read and/or understood the point that was made, or at least not respond so childishly even if he disagrees.
    The fact that people here are agreeing with the post telling this laker fan to ‘suck a cock’ confounds me.


  71. Artest’s response was immature but I don’t think it really matters. I read the article, I didn’t like his tone of self-importance, I suppose Artest could have told him to “buzz off” instead, but you have to like the gusto right?

    Also, for a good time check out the sportsnation poll (go to espn’s nba homepage and scroll down a bit). I was fascinated that the only states that think the Artest signing will ultimately not be a good move were Ohio, Oregon, Utah.

    Kind of neat to see that work out like that. I’m surprised Massachusetts didn’t judge it poorly, but I suppose since they live in a glass house with Wallace now they’re crossing their fingers as much as we are. At least we expect high effort from Ron.

    Should be a good season. Look forward to the ring ceremony.


    • If Ron Artest has a great few years as a Laker, his career will be checkered. That has already been cast. To suggest that good years will change that in anybodys mind save some Lakers fans is pompus. Although I think the writer was trying to be sincere, frankly baiting Artest into a reaction is not hard, and plenty of others will do it this year. I just hope not too much on the court.

      God, I can’t wait for some games to talk about.


  72. 61:

    YEAH, big bang! I’ve always loved it since the first season. Sheldon’s just so cute in a geeky way – yes, I’m completely heterosexual.


  73. didn’t read artest’s response, but read the letter that provoked it, and honestly i was mostly in agreement with that letter. Maybe that’s why i missed out on the tone and the ultimatum style of writing – those things never really occured to me.

    I think this year will be very very interesting in many ways. First, I think it’s the first time in a long time that Kobe is not at the center of attention, with both Lamar and Artest being the focal points.

    On top of that, Kobe got that massive monkey off his back, and has teammates that are officially proven and trustworthy, who won the championship with him. These two things may or may not change how Kobe plays the game, how he picks his spots, etc.

    Also, we have the new improved Gasol, who has just as many accolades as Kobe, is, in some ways as talented (height is talent too), but doesn’t mind too much that this is Kobe’s team. Maybe that’s the Pippen we’ve been seeking. Except that this Pippen got to lead his own team to a championship (in Spain).

    Odom, with his Khandy high, will be interesting. Really interesting. I khan’t imagine how his marriage and reality TV will affect his game.

    Artest, let’s hope he’s not here thinking he’ll make up his salary by getting media spotlight and using it for his non-basketball ventures.

    Drew, I’m not gonna say much in case I jinx anything…


  74. Trust Henry Abbott to highlight a pointless article like that (as well as the fallout from it). Could this guy be any more transparent?


  75. Artest knows what he needs to do to be succesfull in a Laker uniform. Its just ole dude act like he was signing the checks. I havent seen ar heard any comments from managment or Phil about how Artest should act, so lets just say he was a little out of line. If he didnt like the response, then what kind of response did he expect from Ron, a thank you note and permission for some milk and cookies.

    To be honest my concern is how LO comes out and performs rather than how Ron will adjust. LO got his ring(Artest has 0), got married, and is going to be on a reality show that is pretty popular. Is he seeking to cash in on the fame while he’s hot, and not give his 90% to the team. Lets just hope he didnt write the letter to the wrong player.


  76. I think Tony Gaffney will be a hit in training camp..c’m on Doc Buss, sign him up. He’s no Sun Yue, that’s for sure…


  77. The letter was completely off-base, and the fact that ESPN and the LA Times pushed for this piece to go to the man himself is evidence enough. They were looking for a spectacle and that’s what they got. Every Laker fan might worry about Artest’s personal shortcomings to the point of exhausting themselves over an uninteresting and unsolvable debate, but few would have the brass and, frankly, be so inconsiderate to write Artest about it. Imagine writing a grown man aged 31, someone who doesn’t know you, asking him both to be an adult and a professional. We all already know that Artest is a professional at his sport, and a great one at that. So what really was the point of this “open” letter? The author told Artest to grow up or face the scorn of Laker fans. That is the type of thing that most people can only listen to on rare occassions, in the most intimate and personal settings, either from their close relatives, friends, or therapists. Now, Joe “the fan” Slavin is neither Artest’s friend, mother, nor therapist. In all honestly, I have to second Artest’s first notion. If Artest was not a celebrity and only a friend, we’d be right there with him, “f*** that guy! Who the F*** does he think he is!” Maybe I’m immature, or maybe Slavin is a pr***. He definitely did not exercise good judgement.


  78. DirtySanchez,

    Make room for me on that bus. We already know he isn’t a hard worker and has consistency problems. Now he seems obsessed with the fame? One would have to be to willingly put themselves in this situation.

    He was always making references to he or the Lakers being rock stars. Now my wife will watch him on E! as much as I do during games. Great.

    On the flipside, maybe with the monkey off of his back, and a willingness to impress a new demographic, maybe we get the best LO we’ve ever seen. Wishful thinking?


  79. Boy, us fans seem to forget that this is the toy shop of human events. I have been following the lakers for almost 50yrs, and if we fans aren’t fickle we are disinterested.

    The last few years we have been really ticked that LO didn’t play like he was paid. Well, that situation was Pat Riley’s fault and we got to live with the result in the Shaq trade. Now that he is paid more in line with his skills – which are stupendous – and drive – which isn’t consistently good – we are still miffed.

    We didn’t lose Lamar, we don’t pay him as much, and we have added Artest – his friend who can push and motivate him. What exactly do we want – miracles?


  80. Craig W,

    No miracles. Just focus during what should be a tough defense of the title. The paparazzi world he just entered is a hell of a distraction.


  81. Yup!

    And all we want is for Lamar to change his spots.

    I think the paparazzi world will distract him somewhat and Ron Ron will beat on his head somewhat. I bet on a push and we get from Lamar about what we got last year – with a few more 3ptrs, for better or worse.