Lakers Preseason Game #6: In the IE

Kurt —  October 20, 2009

Lakers vs. Warriors
Just after noon today, Stephen Jackson picked up his first foul in tonight’s game.

It’s a little odd meeting the same team for a third time in the preseason, but the Lakers and Warriors go at it tonight out in the Inland Empire. The good news is that Lamar Odom is expected back on the floor for this one, but likely no Gasol or Walton again.

When looking at the preseason what I’m looking for are trends, things that happen over a few games, that might give us a clue as to what we will see when it really matters. You can’t read anything into lineups because the Lakers are keeping guys out who could play and because now is the time to start Josh Powell against Blake Griffin and see what happens. I’m not even going to guess at some of the lineups we’ll see tonight.

One thing we have all been watching is the play of Ron Artest, seeing how he is acclimating to the team (fits and starts, as you’d expect). But there is a great interview by the Brothers K over at the LA Times Lakers Blog with Artest from after the game the other night that is a must read.

Before Sunday’s win over the Clippers, Ron Artest spoke at length with the media about his work with a sports psychologist, something he began last year while with the Rockets. Gaining control of his competitive nature is something with which Artest has long struggled, particularly early in his career. Managing losses, keeping his ego in check. That sort of thing.

These are the areas that those of us on the fence about Artest had concerns about, but that he is self-aware enough to seek help and that he has that outlet in Los Angeles makes me feel more confident. I’m not worried about his fit in the offense, that will come, my concern was if he would truly accept the role. All indications are that is happening. I still need to see it in more than just a couple preseason games. But things are looking good so far.

(As a side note, what Kamenetzky brothers did here is what I think bloggers need to do with access to the team — provide some background some depth to flesh out stories, to provide more context and insight. This was good work,)

Oops, Jackson just picked up a second foul.

The only remaining question for the Lakers is what to do with Tony Gaffney. Most years I would say that this is not a question — his people at IMG sold me on him at Summer League, and what we have seen in camp fits with what I came to expect. He has good athleticism, and he just hustles every time out there. He wants it. He’s still learning how to play at this level, still learning to shoot. He is a perfect candidate for an end-of-the-bench/time in the D-League roster spot that you do with projects.

But it all comes down to money. We Lakers fans can’t complain — Jerry Buss is shelling out this year to keep a title team together. He is paying a whopping tax bill. With that tax, keeping Gaffney means spending another $1 million plus. And please don’t do the “but Buss is just loaded he should do that” because that is not how you run your finances and it should not be his. This is his family’s lone business anymore. And if you think $1 million is nothing you must be a congressman.

I don’t think keeping Gaffney will happen. But it would be a pleasant surprise if it did.