The Taco Unit

Kurt —  December 5, 2009


A tribute to the guys that make all the Lakers games interesting. I hope to see them again soon (and a lot this season).

Credit to Han for the artwork.

to The Taco Unit

  1. We want tacos! πŸ™‚

    Here’s to lots of taco games to come! They are not boring. They are not bland. We love them.


  2. With all the Lebron-talk going on lately, I thought I’d add this one:

    Sadly I don’t think this unit (the taco one) will finish in LA. It’s becoming more and more apparent that we’re most effective with an 8-man unit. On top of that, Buss is leery of such a high payroll. I think it’s likely we see salary move; the only reason I can see it not happening is because we have 2 expiring contracts Buss may be content to simply let expire at the end of the year.

    Also, I thought j.d. brought up a great point in the last thread. Every game the Knicks lose makes the Jazz that much more dangerous. They may be the team to watch out for next year, if they can find the right fit.


  3. Kurt, I hope this post appeases the basketball taco gods you offended by complaining about blowouts.


  4. Snoopy, that picture made me laugh. πŸ™‚

    Is anyone else watching the Alabama-Florida college football game and thinking that Tebow is not quite living up to the hype..?


  5. who will help us ‘shed’ these salaries anyway?

    i think hoping them to perform their best would be more realistic…


  6. When it comes to the taco unit, I think a few of them are performing at their best. Mbenga and Powell, for example. Their best may not be up to Laker standards, but I can easily see them being kept on the roster and the ones who don’t work as hard and/or keep as professional an attitude be dropped first… If Phil has any say in the matter at least. He likes hard working team players, and while Powell and Mbenga certainly have flaws, those are their big virtues.


  7. I’ll probably have a post tomorrow with some talk about what Mitch Kupchak may be up to.


  8. 5 – That’s probably true. I don’t think many of those guys would have much value except Morrison and Farmar as contracts themselves. So I guess it should be amended to read – If Kupchak can find a way to relieve salary, I expect him to go for it.


  9. Powell, Mbenga and Farmer are doing fine. Walton will help clean up this group when he returns. How are Morrison and The Player Formerly Known as The Machine even getting off of the pine?


  10. If my #6 comment ever gets out of moderation you’ll see I agree with Huey — Mbenga, and Powell are fine and Farmar gets a lot of time outside the taco unit as well as with them. Those three work hard, they know what is expected of them and have a good attitude about their situation, which all of it are things that will help them stay on the roster.


  11. I think questioning the work ethic of any of our guys is a mistake. Based off everything I’ve read, all the players work hard – Sasha and Ammo included. I consistently read stories and hear reports about Sasha and Ammo putting in the extra time after practice and before games in order to try and get better and become guys that can contribute. It’s just not happening for them. So, the question and/or criticism needs to be about effectiveness and the ability to contribute in game situations. Right now, Sasha and Ammo aren’t effective when given minutes and that is/will be their downfall.

    Said another way, players need to have a skill that translates to success on the floor – whether it’s shooting, rebounding, passing, play making, or even just giving effort for every minute they’re on the court. And right now, even when paired with the starters, Sasha and Ammo aren’t getting it done in any of these areas. But Powell can still make that jumper and is contributing on the glass (and playing a fundamental game that is repeatable game after game), DJ is still rebounding and challenging shots at the rim, and Farmar (while pictured above) is having a resurgent season and contributing in most of his appearances (so I don’t think he should even be part of this discussion).


  12. I dont get it 7 games 267,blah blah served someone please explain.


  13. even just giving effort for every minute they’re on the court

    That what I mean when I talk about professional attitude. That no matter how few minutes you’re given, when you’re out there, you give 100%. Apologies if that wasn’t clear.

    I can see that attitude clearly in Powel, Mbenga, and especially in Jordan Farmar this year. They work hard, they get some results, and when paired with a few starters on the floor, they are able to contribute. The other two… well, as someone once said, it’s not just about being busy, but about how and why. Bees are praised, a mosquito is swatted.

    A Staples Center ticket can be traded in for a Taco Bell taco if and only if the Lakers win the game and score over 100, while holding their opponents to under 100. That’s happen in 7 games this season. I imagine the much larger number refers to the size of the crowd with tickets.


  14. I’d even argue that considering DJ and Powell are getting paid less than a mill each this year, that their dependability and contributions far exceed their payroll costs. Half the teams in the league would kill to have those two as their 8-9th guy at that salary and production.

    Throw in the professionalism, attitude, etc already discussed and I think those two in any other better economic climate, would have been lured away already with a modest 2-3 year 7-9 mill total contract. Those two are year to year and never have had the luxury and security of a long term contract. They would be stupid to turn down that kind of offer regardless of how well they fit in the Laker organization.

    IMO, Luke is slightly overpaid for what he contributes. But if he can hit the outside shot even on an average basis and continue to help organize the 2nd team, then he’s the last piece of a 9 man rotation. Assuming of course Jordan and Shannon continue to stay steady.

    That’s the 9 man rotation I hope will be able to produce consistently and Phil can settle into. Everyone knows each other and the system. Complementary strengths and no need to worry about bringing in a trade.

    I still think Phil is auditioning Ammo right now for that designated sniper off the bench. He’s getting a lot of burn and a long leash to put it up. Kobe’s comment’s seem to indicate that he wants Ammo to score and knows that’s his main skill. Comments also indicate they’ll adapt to his lack of D if the shot is there and he’s hustling intelligently on defensive rotations.

    I’m pulling for Ammo to succeed. Would love to have him be the 5-10 minute sniper coming in under the right situation. Come in, hit a couple of open jumpers as part of the ball movement, before his shortcomings are revealed, get him out. It’s a tough role but one can hope.

    Doesn’t seem like Sasha has the mentality for it, which is too bad. Sasha seems to need more minutes.

    Scott Brooks survived and thrived in that role for quite a few years and even for a championship team. I don’t think it’s an unreasonable expectation to look for someone like that.


  15. actually, each ticket gets TWO tacos, hence 19k (staples capacity) * 2 * 7 = 267k. Kurt is estimating. I don’t think Jack sticks around and trades in his tix for free tacos πŸ™‚


  16. I hope that salary cuts do not lead to us wishing that Jordan’s lack of development or D Fish’s dwindling athleticism was still the only things we have to worry about with gaps in our roster. Although, the sum of all fears for me this upcoming off season (most likely filled of sallary dumping) will be losing our prized athlete Shannon Brown. I don’t think I could deal with the organization giving up two increadible athletes in back to back off seasons (refering to Ariza but i guess we didn’t “give him up”).
    As for “Team Taco,” they live up to any teams standards that stacks their starting lineup with 4/5 all star caliber players and a 6th man that gives the opposing benches nightmares at every position. I could see us having more talent in our 9,10,11, and 12th best players if we didn’t use all our money in our first six (but I wouldn’t suggest it).


  17. I don’t think there’s any shot we trade Shannon. I think Buss would like to shed salary if he could, but not at obvious expense to the team.

    Farmar’s situation seems iffier to me. I’m happy with the way he’s played as of late. Mostly, I’m happy the boneheaded plays have been cut down and he has somewhat of a positive impact on the floor. Then again, has he played good enough to warrant being resigned? Could a trade net more value than ultimately letting him walk if his price is too high? Tough call.

    I really do hope we finish the year with the unit we have now. I think every player (even those that don’t contribute) have some special place in Lakers fans’ hearts. Half our jokes would instantly vanish if Sasha was no longer here. Machine make me laugh.


  18. I just got rocked by a law school final and signed onto my computer to see that my Bears got blown out by the Huskies.

    So I signed on here and became happy once again.

    Just wanted to say that. GO LAKESHOW!


  19. Has it always been Taco Bell? I want to say I remember Jack in the Box giving away the goods back in the day.

    (I’ve been away from LA for too long, but go Cinci Bearcats!)


  20. oh, and Kings, push the Suns to the limit.

    A few overtimes would be nice.


  21. Darius will like this – his boy “controlling the action like a veteran: Maynor had six points, four assists and a steal in seven minutes and knifed through the lane for a layup that gave Utah a 44-32 lead.”


  22. #19 it is still Jack in the Box actually


  23. ah wish i didn’t log in here and see that Cal lost, again.

    and then the news of Oden…

    Oh boy.

    As for our unit, I’m not questioning effort, nobody is. But attitude, I think we may have some problems there, and I’m hoping it doesn’t spill over.

    And in the game of basketball, you need to have your payroll maxed in your top 3~4 players, not spread out evenly among 8~12.


  24. Jack in the Box, not Taco Bell. My bad.


  25. I feel awful for Greg Oden. If the prognosis is accurate it’s a terrible loss for not just the Blazers but the League as well.


  26. Would it be too callous of me to say, “injury prone”?

    Greg Oden, get well soon. I wonder if you’re allowed to miss your first three consecutive seasons. Maybe his body is not meant for the rigors of this game.


  27. I’ve been quite pleased with Farmar’s play of late. He’s been much more effective than last year, at least after he hurt his knee.

    Powell’s a good player. He just often ends up in positions at which the coaches are asking too much of him. If he got minutes with two or three starters on the floor on a regular basis, he’ll knock down his face-up jumper and help the team. But he (and other Taco guys) seem to falter when they’re all on the floor together, since none really have the ability to create their own good shot opportunities.

    For a third center, we should be content with Mbenga. You could do a helluva lot worse.

    This bench will be fine; no need for major shake-ups unless something absolutely knocks Mitch’s socks off.


  28. I genuinely feel awful for what’ happened to Greg Oden. As Lakers fans we know all too well what the fan base goes through when they lose their promising big man for the season. I hope he hangs in there.

    I was looking forward to the Oden/Bynum match-ups this year and even further down the road, I was hoping that these two could form a legit rivalry amongst each other that would revitalize the role of the big man. I hope they still can. I would love it if these two guys were linked together that made everyone look forward to their games together.

    At this point, I hope Oden can realize that after his own injuries in the past he bounced back and I hope he can look at Bynum and Amare and realize that after all the rehab, it’s possible to regain your form. I can’t imagine how devastated he must be to see several months worth of rehab in his future (again).

    Sorry for the rant, but I was really bummed out when I heard the news.


  29. Sedate, I agree. As much as I sports “hate” the blazers, that just sucks. I can’t think of anything else to say other than I hope he recovers and stays healthy mentally.


  30. I agree, it is a sad day for the NBA and fans everywhere to hear this news again. I hope Oden can eventually make a full recovery and become the big man he has shown the potential to be, esp recently.

    Link for those who haven’t heard:


  31. I agree with everyone (of course).

    I dislike the Trailblazers, mildly put (though honestly mainly their loudest fans), but no player deserves what just happened to Greg Oden. I hope his surgery and rehab go smoothly.


  32. I think it’s funny that everyone in the picture has a basketball in their hands except Ammo.


  33. This is just horrible. I’m about as crushed as I would be for any player to go down. This isn’t about basketball anymore. No one deserves this, especially not a great guy like Oden.

    I can’t imagine what must be going through his mind right now. He puts so much pressure on himself, and now this…

    Just horrible news.


  34. Unfortuneately big men get injured frequently because of their size and just being in the middle as players converge on the hoop, which they are trying to protect. It is a sad day for basketball for this to happen, I wish him the best and a complete recovery.


  35. 31.
    Ammo’s “Taco Unit” photo is a photo of him still not getting any burn on the court!


  36. I feel sick about what happened up in Portland. Those fans up there had to experience what our fans had to experience with Drew in two straight seasons. Watching your young center go down like that just feels like a punch in the gut. That’s all there really is to say.


  37. dude, fingers-crossed it stays that way. i love seeing drew grow up so much this year and consistency is my next thing for him not recovering from another injury.

    am not too pleased seeing the 5 on the poster because outside LO, wow and the return of luke, that’s our bench. i feel we need 1 more reliable wingman there…. but i digress to dangerous territory

    times like this make you feel good about espn etc. writing.

    GO LAKERS! not letdown now!



    this is probably not the time and place to say this, but reading it, I think I’ve newfound respect (if that’s possible) for Kobe and D-Wade (can’t spell Dwayne right for some reason…)

    Roy and other Portland guys seem to suffer with Oden clogging the middle, and we know that to be the case in Cleveland too, as was in PHX.

    Which, to me, seems to mean that Kobe and D-Wade have more complete games than the others, being as effective as they were and still making the best out of their big centers. Kobe, of course, made the best out of their absence too, but just thought this was kinda interesting.

    Not that it’s a revelation of any kind that Kobe is pretty darn effective all over the place; look at his hotspots at and he’s got a redhot zone near the basket, in the middle, and outside the arc…


  39. The Oden news is devestating. I hope he’s able to come back and prove these things are flukes. He seems like a legitimately good guy who was on the right track. I really feel for him and Blazer fans. This kind of thing sucks.

    I hope Granger is alright too.


  40. Last topic post 70 alex v.

    John Wall had cramps in the second half and had to leave the game for 8 minutes to be attended to, when he returned, you could see he was slowed, with him at full speed this one would have been a blowout.


  41. thisisweaksauce December 6, 2009 at 3:45 am

    About the Taco Unit:

    They need to practice together. Last time, against the Hornets, they clearly had no feel for each other as a group. Also, some suggestions for them that could become their bread and butter:

    Run some pick and pop with a guard (Farmar?) and Powell during some of the half court sets. I know this is going away from the triangle, but that unit doesn’t quite have the personnel to run it as well as the first. Powell can shoot the long jumper pretty well. Possible disadvantage: Powell isn’t there to grab some boards.

    A lot of penetration with Farmar. The guy can create looks for himself, and this can build his confidence. Another plus, he can dish out to Ammo or Sasha if the defense collapses. Sasha needs to be shooting wide open looks only, not off the dribble.

    Tell Mbenga not to shoot unless he’s in point blank range or completely wide open. The guy doesn’t have a post up game. Just have him play the role of the post man in the triangle who can dish out.

    Also, Ammo needs to try to score. That’s what he is, a scorer. Just pass (especially during penetration) if it’s a kick out to Sasha, Farmar, or Powell for an open look.

    Get out on the open court. That’s where they thrive (like the bench mob of 07-08). Half-court offense is where they kinda struggle. (Haha, the previous suggestions were about half-court offense.)

    Have them know their roles. I hate it when I see Powell trying to post up (or Mbenga for that matter) – he needs to be shooting jumpers (mid-range or long, off the pick and roll/pop). Or Sasha shooting off the dribble (or with a hand in his face). Or Farmar becoming simply an outside shooter. Or Ammo trying to distribute; he can score (however awkward looking). Mbenga needs to only attempt put backs, open dunks, or really close lay-ins on offense; his focus should be on D, especially blocking and rebounding.

    Those are my suggestions. Do you guys have other ones for the Taco Unit? Any you disagree with?


  42. I feel bad for vujacic..:(..he was so good a year and a half ago..he was shooting the lights out of the arenas he played in..home away didn’t matter..but now?? he is finding it so hard to find a rhythm..:(..i love this guy for who he is but sadly i think they will let him go or trade him by February..:(


  43. i think the worst thing for oden right now is the thought, that the organization regrets ever drafting him. nobody is going to say it, but how can you convince a player that it is not the case? durant is lighting up the league, that must hurt almost as much as the injury itself. i really feel bad for him, because that has probably been on his mind since his first injury. hope he gets well soon, he deserves a healthy season to prove himself


  44. Yeah I already heard somebody mention Sam Bowie on TV. Oden has to come back physically, of course, but mentally, how do you not let this gets into your head? Really feel bad for him and Porty fans (keep fingers crossed for our own big guy).


  45. Really is too bad about Oden, he seems like a good guy but he’s had a rough time since going #1:

    – Missing his rookie season
    – Watching Durant develop into a star in season #2 while he (Oden) battles foul trouble and splits time with Joel Przybilla
    – Starting his 3rd season well, only for controversy to arise over whether he and Roy/Aldridge can co-exist

    Now this to top it all off. Even if you hate the Blazers you can’t help but feel for this guy. And apparently he’s the type of person who will be harder on himself than anyone else.


  46. The Taco unit is not likely going anywhere this year. There is just more value in letting the contracts expire and getting 2x the salary back. Any trade leaves you with either a longer contract or a player who doesn’t know our system and will only be in it for the remainder of the year.


  47. 1. morrison is gone at or before the end of this year; he leaves the league

    2. sasha is gone when his contract expires (end of next year i think); he has 0 trade value and also leaves the league

    3. fisher retires or takes a substantial cut in salary and minutes, after this season

    4. farmar is traded away at or before end of this season, we get a journeyman in return; i.e. improved value at same salary cost

    5. luke is gone when his contract expires, or when his body craps out for good – -which ever comes first

    looks to me like the team will be shedding salary steadily, one contract at a time, for the next couple of years