Lakers Get PG They’ve Been Looking For

Darius Soriano —  July 3, 2010

NBA: April 14, 2010: Los Angeles Clippers d Los Angeles Lakers 107-91. Clippers Steve Blake gets a shot blocked by Lakers Pau Gasol.

Coming into the free agency period, most everyone agreed that point guard was the Lakers biggest need.  After not addressing this position in the draft, the Lakers would surely look to upgrade the position in the off-season by signing one of the available point guards on the open market.  And on the second day of free agency, the Lakers did just that by agreeing to a 4 year/$16 million dollar contract with Steve Blake.  And honestly, I couldn’t be happier.

Yes, there were sexier names on the free agent market.  And with reports stating the Lakers were making an attempt to acquire Mike Miller, many fans were hoping that the Lakers would ink the versatile swing man to a contract and add another very talented piece to an already extremely talented core.  So, in the wake of those reports, I can understand that signing Steve Blake can seem like a bit of a step down in talent.  And while that’s technically true, I really don’t care.

You see, getting another capable player to play point guard was a real need for the Lakers.  All season, PG was the position that every fan and pundit could point to as the Lakers weakest position.  And while the veteran experience and clutch play of Fisher again proved very valuable in a great playoff run, the Lakers could not afford to ignore the position after all three (if you count Shannon Brown) of the Laker point guards became free agents this summer.  And even though the Lakers hope to still bring back Fisher (something that I hope happens soon), bringing in Blake is a fantastic grab.  When you examine the entire crop of free agent point guards, there were surely younger prospects with more upside (Felton, Foye) and better shooters that would have been ideal targets had they not been restricted free agents (Redick, Morrow), but when you looked at the entire field, I don’t think there was a better fit than Blake for the Lakers to pick up.

From an offensive standpoint, Blake is the exact type of PG that can excel in the Triangle.  He’s a good ball handler and good decision maker (though he was a bit turnover prone in his stint with the Clippers).  He’s a good spot up shooter and can make the three ball with consistency (career 39% 3pt FG, 43.7% in his 21 games with the Clippers last season).  But most important, he’s a smart and heady player that rarely tries to do too much and knows his limitations.  He knows what he can and can’t do and is successful on the court because he plays to his strengths and does not force the action.  So, while Blake will rarely give the Lakers the spectacular play that gets the crowd out of their seats, he’ll also avoid the boneheaded one that has fans cursing him.  He’s a steady and mature player that will bring a consistency that we’ve not seen much of from any Lakers PG not named Derek Fisher and that will surely be a welcome sight.

And it’s in this steadiness that I see Blake helping the Lakers most.  Understand that, in essence, Blake is replacing Jordan Farmar as the lead guard on the second unit (assuming Fisher returns).  And it’s on the second unit where the Lakers have traditionally struggled to maintain offensive discipline and cohesion as a group.  Not to pin all of that on Farmar (he had his accomplices), but by bringing in Blake the Lakers will now have another player capable of organizing the offensive sets and getting everyone on the same page.  Forced jumpers early in the shot clock?  Over aggressive drives into the paint that have little hope of succeeding?  Over dribbling while looking for the perfect play, rather than depending on the offense to generate good looks?  These should all be things of the past with Blake now in the fold.  I expect that he’ll better organize the Lakers’ sets and the other players will be better positioned to effectively run the offense, leading to much better consistency from the second unit.  And sure, some of those explosive runs that the “bench mob” provided may end up being a thing of the past, but I believe that those extended droughts where big leads are forfeited will be as well.  I expect players like Odom, Bynum, and Gasol to see receive much more attention when paired with the backup guards and that’s surely a good thing.

That said, it won’t be all roses with Blake coming on board.  On defense, he will be challenged.  Based off some of his defensive metrics, he is not the best defender (while with Portland he had a PER against of 15.7, and a 17.6 with the Clippers).  He is hampered by his limited athleticism and slight-ish frame and can be beaten off the dribble by the quick penetrating guards that seem to populate every team (a familiar theme for the Lakers).  But from what I’ve seen of him, he’s a fundamentally sound defender that gives effort and won’t often be caught out of position, and I’m comforted by the fact that like Fisher, he’ll be flanked by very good defenders that will provide strong help and block shots at the rim.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Blake’s defensive numbers were better with Portland where he had a much better defensive lineup around him and with the Lakers he’ll be joining a group that was in the top 5 in defensive efficiency for nearly the entire season.

As I said, this isn’t the sexiest signing.  Steve Blake is not a household name and won’t knock anyone’s socks off with his natural talent or physical ability.  However, Blake is the type of role player that championship teams want and need.  It’s not a coincidence that contending teams like the Magic were looking to acquire Blake to fill the same role that the Lakers just scooped him up to play.  The Lakers just made themselves stronger and that is something that every team around the league recognizes.  And surely, they’re not happy about the world champs filling a hole on a roster that didn’t have many to begin with.  And sure, Blake may never be a classic “impact player” that others lean on as one of the better players on the team.  He’s not an all-star and could even be considered a lower rung starter if he were put into that position.  However, I never look at the structure of a team in that way – especially not this one.  The Lakers aren’t a PG-driven team and don’t run a system that is dependent on their PG being an impact player.  This is a team with Kobe, Pau, Bynum, Artest, and Odom on its roster.  I’ve said this for years about Fisher, but what the Lakers need is a steady hand that can step up in big moments and for the rest of the time blend in to the tapestry of the team while allowing the team’s best players to do what they’re paid to.  And in Blake, the Lakers just got that guy.  Today, I’m a happy Lakers fan.  The rich just got a bit richer.

Darius Soriano

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91 responses to Lakers Get PG They’ve Been Looking For

  1. Great read.

    I am happy Lakers fan as well. Happier than the moment I saw the Breaking News that we agreed terms with Steve Blake manly because of Mike-Miller -to-Lakers pipe dream.

  2. They don’t need any “reclamation” projects this season. They are still figuring out the best way to use Bynum, Artest is still learning the triangle, there will be at least one, maybe two rookies with potential that they be looking at developing, and Blake will be learning the system. There is only so much coaching time available. No need to try and add aging All-Stars who are making a last grasp at a title

  3. Funky Chicken July 3, 2010 at 9:13 am

    Darius, do you think it is a given that Blake would be a 2nd unit guy if Fisher returns? Seems to me that as a regular season player, Blake is better than Fish, and the only area where Fish’s on court abilities are superior is his penchant for making big shots in the playoffs.

    Could Fisher move to the second unit and play “closer” minutes the way Lamar does? That way, you’d have the benefit of a better PG in the starting unit, less wear and tear on Fish, and retain all options for your best guys to close the game.

  4. I like the fact Blake won a national championship at Maryland in 2002. You can’t replicate championship experience. I like the fact he can knock down the 3, especially from the corner. I like his length and hoops IQ.

    Jerry West was on the Dan Patrick show a few weeks ago, and when he was asked how the Lakers could improve, he said they needed to add a perimeter slasher. Fisher, Sasha, Ron, and Luke don’t have that dynamic. The two who come close (Brown and Farmar) are likely headed out. Blake doesn’t bring that to the table.

    I realize the triangle is not predicated on dribble drives, but there are times in games where it helps to be able to get to the rim and finish. Ebanks shows promise here, but we can’t count on a rookie in a 3-peat campaign.

  5. Farmar’s career:
    6.9 PPG
    2.1 APG
    36% 3FG
    Assists to TO ratio of less than 2

    Blake’s career:
    7.5 PPG
    4.3 APG
    39% 3FG
    Assist to TO ratio of greater than 3

    How is this not a major upgrade?

  6. The Steve Blake signing is a solid one that is a stop-gap for the next few years, while the Lakers make their run. Now that the biggest hole that the Lakers had has been filled, what position do the Lakers pursue with the remaining money in the MLE?

    Do the Lakers add a “3 and D” defender (Raja Bell) or a wily veteran big man (Kurt Thomas)? I say that the Lakers go after Kurt Thomas hard with the remaining money in the MLE. The Lakers will finally have that solid big man off the bench who can defend. Kurt Thomas will give Pau that respite during the regular season, since he is usually plays heavy minutes throughout the year. Kurt Thomas is also a great insurance policy in case of injury to any of the 3 big men.

    What I hope for most of the free agent signings and draft picks is that these players can compose a bench that relieves the Lakers’ starters a lot better than the past season’s.

    Last season the biggest gripes about the bench was that they never ran the offense properly, they took ill-advised shots, played piss-poor defense, and blew leads like nobody’s business. If the Lakers are able to nullify that issue, that means less minutes for Kobe, Pau, Ron & Fish in the regular season. A fresher team come playoffs time will be such a magnificent boon. I may be just a victim of wanting what others have, but if the bench could be a semblance of the Phoenix bench I would LOVE that. A full five guys that play hard and smart, that can go for extended minutes, not just spot play.

    The only problem I see with the bench is that there are no truly explosive players in terms of scorers on the bench. Jordan and Shannon while wildly inconsistent, could score the ball. Steve Blake seems like a Fisheresque player that goes off every once in a while. Hopefully Sasha in his contract year will resurrect himself to get another contract.

    3. Funky Chicken

    There is no way in hell Fisher will sit down. He currently holds the second-longest streak for starts in the NBA, which means a tremendous amount to him. He and Kobe are the same in that they refuse to sit unless they physically are unable to go.

  7. Love the Blake signing. Fills a major need, while providing a bit more flexibility down the road. The Miller acquisition would’ve been great in the short term, but deadly long term.

    I hear that there’s some discussions around McGrady. I understand the appeal, but even if he rebounds, I don’t see how he fits. You can get away with one combustible player who used to be the man, but not two. We’ve got Artest already. Adding McGrady seems like a recipe for disaster to me.

  8. I admit that I know very little about Steve Blake, since I really don’t pay that much attention to the non-Lakers of the league,but I know Darius and the commenters here know what they’re talking about. If you guys say he’s a great upgrade, I’m happy we signed him. :)

  9. i have three concerns with blake.

    first, he can be a bit indecisive and conservative to a fault. many a blazer fan has lamented his hesitation to make post-entry passes, and pass up transition opportunities. he must learn to allow the offense to flow instead of stalling it.

    second, he only has 15 playoff games under his belt, and has choked at the free throw line and made uncharacteristic mental mistakes in 4th quarters. he must gain experience and improve his performance in pressure sitations.

    third, he may be too deferential to kobe, just as he was with brandon roy; it would be best if he could assert himself at the appropriate time, like fisher.

    i don’t mind if it takes him the entire season to correct these flaws, but correct these flaws he must.

  10. Warren Wee Lim July 3, 2010 at 10:07 am

    Mimsy, he’s the wife who cooks, bakes, prepares the bed, sends the kids to school, does all the laundry…

    Mike Miller would have been the hot girl (pun intended for his hair) who you bring to parties but could not stand at home.

  11. I really hope Dr. Buss keeps the money flowing and brings back Fish. He did it with Lamar, so i can only assume he’d be willing to do the same with fish.

    Is there any truth out there to the rumors that the laker front office is cutting employee salaries?

    Does any know any rules about differing a players salary over years? This could be a good way to pay fish the money he deserves without it being such a luxury tax burden.

  12. Funky Chicken – I agree 100% with your analysis. I really do think Blake should probably start over Fisher. Fisher does hit huge clutch shots which can still happen with him being out there in crunch time in the 4th. I truly don’t believe Derek Fisher should be a starting point guard in this league though.

    Think about it, other than the Lakers, what team could Fisher realistically start for?

    As for free agency, I gotta give a lot of credit to Mitch Kupchak as I used to bash him for his lack of moves especially not getting Shaq and Kobe enough help, but he seems to know what he’s doing with the moves he has made and the names that I here the Lakers are after. If we get a shooter (i.e. Miller, Morrow, or Bell) I think we have to be the definitive favorites to win it again next season regardless of a possible Wade, Bosh, LeBron dream team.

    Go Lakers.

  13. Hopefully we won’t have to be concerned too much with Blake’s playoff inexperience and 4th quarter jitters, at least next season. That’s why Derek Fisher has to be signed. Blake just needs to break in to the Lakers by holding down the middles of games, which was a problem area last season.

    Don’t like Blake as a replacement for Fisher. Do like Blake as a replacement for Farmar.

  14. Laker fans think Blake is better than he is because they are used to seeing him play against Fisher and Farmar and torching them. He is a good outside shooter and that is the only quality he has that is above average. He is a below average defender, average passer, and bad penetrator. lets look at the ESPN scouting report on Blake heading into Free Agency…

    “Steve Blake
    After a midseason trade that sent him from Portland to Los Angeles, Blake likely will join his sixth team since being drafted in the second round of the 2003 draft. The 30-year-old still can shoot the rock from downtown (he’s a 39.5 percent career 3-point shooter) and would be a perfect veteran reserve for a playoff team or a low-usage distributor in the Derek Fisher mold under coach Phil Jackson.”

    The guy is a bench player. All we have done is gone from the 55th best starter at PG for us to the 40th. While it is an improvement it is hardly something that laker fans (who expect an average NBA starting PG) will be thrilled about. The search for a starting PG should not and cannot be over this offseason. Either via trade or FA. I still think TMac would be a great PG for us… putting Blake into his best spot… back up guard.

  15. 1000% agree with you Darius. Terrific signing. I’m not sure how anyone would argue otherwise.

    The Lakers just signed a better 3 point shooting (though not quite as versitile defensively) version of Kirk Hinrich…you know, the Kirk Hinrich everyone has been pining for…AT HALF THE PRICE.

    How is this not a fantastic signing? The Lakers need role players who understand their jobs and don’t play outside of themselves.

    That’s Steve Blake.

    Fantastic signing.

  16. What can be done about the age-old problem of defending quick, slashing guards?

  17. This was a great pick up by the front office. Blake will fit in very well with L.A., and as long as his arrival doesn’t push Fish off to another destination this really was a can’t-miss move.

    He’s smart and he hits open shots; he was one of those longtime Laker killers I hoped would someday join us rather than drop bombs on us again.

    If Fish pulls an Ariza and overplay his value in his own mind straight into a trip to NBA oblivion, then Blake is a more than suitable fallback. But here’s to hoping they both suit up on the same team this fall.

    The big question this presents, however, is a simple one: who’s going to guard the bigger, stronger guards the league is starting to see become so prevalent?

    Tyreke Evans, Derrick Rose — a potential Finals opponent if Chicago lands a big free agent — and the big one that concerns me given the playoffs: Russell Westbrook.

    With the league rules called as they are today, no one can stop these kind of players in full. But with two very undersized points, neither of whom are very quick, I think the Lakers should really take a look at finding someone with size and the footwork to move around on the perimeter in order to help slow these bigger combo guards and funnel them into the help from Bynum, Pau, Lamar.

    Blake isn’t that guy. Neither is Fish. Sasha has the size, but he’s too foul prone to be the answer here. So that’s a void Mitch needs to address.

    Shannon at least has the size and speed to help there, though he’s not certain to return and his defense isn’t all that; I’m not sure that Raja Bell would be the answer, but they need to find someone who can try to address that role while fitting into the economics of the roster.

  18. (14) “What can be done about the age-old problem of defending quick, slashing guards?”

    The only thing that can be done is bringing in a long SG. They are the only ones that have a history of giving PG’s problems with their length and size. Otherwise its just hard to guard these amazing NBA PG’s. They are too skilled and athletic with the ball… and then you throw in the picks that are set… and a normal sized defending PG isn’t long enough to get back to challenge a shot after going under the pick. That was one of the many reasons kobe is so effective guarding PG’s… he can just go under the pick and take away the drive and have the length to still contest the shot. And then of course you can trap the PG also with that length so effectively.

  19. 9 Chibi- Not worried with clutch freethrows and 4th quarter production from Blake. Why? Because Fisher is 99.99% sure to come back. So I’m pretty sure all blake needs to do is some clutch cheering and towel waving in the 4th.

  20. Blake split last season with the Clippers and the Portland Trail Blazers, averaging 7.3 points and 4.8 assists. Funny story: his sister, Debbie, is a producer on a sports talk show in Portland, Ore. She broke the news. The Lakers can’t sign Blake until next Thursday. New teammate Ron Artest reacted in typical fashion via Twitter, “Welcome Steve Blake! He’s super dope!!!”

  21. But honestly what team does have an answer for the devastatingly quick and athletic point guards in the NBA? The Lakers faced Westbrook, D-Will and Rondo in the playoffs with Fisher as their point guard. It’s not about having 1 on 1 defensive stoppers at PG. It’s about team defense and the Lakers have plenty of that.

  22. So what do we do next? Go after the athletic wing player that could see some time on fast pg’s and be our designated fastbreak finisher and slasher in the halfcourt. Or, Lockdown Fish so we don’t leave him hanging on a string all summer, contemplating his worth. Or of course get that back-up center that will most likely see more time then he should for a 5-15 game stretch next season due to Pau and/or Drew coming down with an injury.

    Well, I’d say try to get our slasher ASAP since we are looking at such a small group of applicable players that will fit our price range. Then I’d make sure Fish knows where we stand with what we can offer him. That way, all he has to do is decide if he wants to have a remote chance of getting his # retired with the Lakers or just get an extra $2-3 mil to top off his career somewhere else. Then finally, I’d go after a garbage Center. Most likely a vet min. guy but even possibly someone from the D-League that has a specific defensive skill-set that will keep teams from going on runs when Pau and Drew need a break.

    Either which way, I hope they all get accomplished this off season.

  23. I started watching Blake a lot closer last season. Earlier this season, a friend and I joked about what a good fit his skills would be in the triangle and how he’d be perfect for the Lakers. That the MLE would maybe get it done based on his salary history. Still we thought it was a pipe dream due to the excess of money available.

    Then he got traded to the Clips and one of my friends had season tickets. Watching him up close, I coveted him even more as a great role player. Reading Arnowitz’s article emphasized that even more. I love how Blake knows his limitations and works to fit into a system. Those kinds of guys will be more successful playing a team oriented defensive system than undisciplined athletic guys.

    Look at Ray Allen actually bother Kobe. Does anyone think that Ray would be able to handle Kobe one on one? He wouldn’t be, but since he plays smart, within himself and the system, Kobe can be contained to a degree.

    That’s what I’m hoping for with Blake. I always thought Miller was a pipe dream and it didn’t smell right to me when it was first floated. Blake was a possibility that could go either way and therefore so much more tantalizing. I really like this signing, bring Fish back and the back court is a little more settled.

    Given the budget constraints, I really feel that this was the best deal for the team to fill it’s most pressing needs.

  24. 18,
    That’s the problem… against the teams that gave us the most problems we needed to put Kobe on Westbrook and Rondo to win those close series in 6 and 7 games respectively. It wasn’t Derek Fisher guarding those guys. Do we want an aging Kobe to waste energy having to guard PG’s this season? I don’t think people realize how important it is for this Lakers team to bring in a starting PG that can defend. Blake is not the answer there. Just as Artest made a huge difference in the fact that we could single cover opposing SF’s.. it would move us into a different stratosphere defensively if we could put a long SG on opposing PG’s and keep them from breaking down our defense. I mean… I believe this Lakers team would become one of the greatest defensive teams ever assembled.

  25. Sign Dorrell Wright and have Ron mentor him and Devin Ebanks on how to play defense. We should be fine with the quick guards.

  26. I agree its a good signing….if Fish is brought back. But I also believe the Lakers should bring Shannon back cause so they can have at least one explosive player to give the fans an aerial show…remember this is LA, the entainment capital. Laker teams have always had high flying entertaining players from Baylor to showtime Lakers to Kobe/Shaq to Shannon/Trevor…and now?

  27. Not Charlie Rosen July 3, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Not too familiar with the guy, but all of the commentary has me remembering when B. Shaw joined the Lakers, a solid guard off the bench who plays tough and within himself, helping to keep things organized in the middle of the first half and either battening down the hatches or helping to push a run in the middle of the second half, then cheerleading and being a good teammate when the stars do their thing.

    If we can somehow convince both Raja Bell (upgrade behind Artest over Walton’s back [though not his triangle smarts], and can also spell Kobe at the 2 when/if Sasha is in the coaches’ doghouse) and Kurt Thomas to sign along for minimum deals (assuming the numbers allow that), then I start becoming a cheerleader for a Bosh-Wade-LeBron team-up somewhere…since no one else in the league would even give us a challenge.

  28. It’s better to sign Blake than trade away an important piece for a big defensive PG with an outside shot. Keep in mind that these athletic PGs can’t even guard themselves. Even if we got an Ariza-type player to defend these PGs, who is bringing the ball up court? Can’t be Kobe, since we all agree we need to save his legs. You guys need to stop daydreaming and think logically. It all boils down to team D, and we’ve done well so far in that department. Blake will be a solid addition if we retain the defensive intelligence and effort on the court.

    My concern is that Andrew’s presence inside is more important than ever for the next few years. And counting on him to remain healthy is almost tragically optimistic.

  29. hey Aaron, i thought you were going to stop bashing Fish! “55th best PG in the league to start for us” qualifies as bashing, i think. ;P

    i’m all for fantasizing about assembling dream teams, but at the end of the day, chemistry and team play (on offense and defense) win out. that’s the only way i can explain why Boston outplayed Cleveland and Orlando last season. on paper, they should have lost, but they were a quarter away from causing widespread panic in Lakerland.

    our team defense was great last year. i think Blake will fit right in. he’s a bit longer than Fish and gives max effort. as great as it would be for us to get a “long SG” for defense, our $$$ situation means that this is likely it, with some vet minimum signings to round out the roster (hello, Kurt Thomas!).

    one more thing… anyone who wants to sign TMac for this team must have been in a coma for the past 4 seasons. haha

  30. Funky Chicken July 3, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Rudy, I’m with you on both counts. One of the reasons I am in the minority on a different Laker blog (where the majority feels that the Lakers have “disrespected” Fisher with their offer) is that a salary negotiation has to be viewed in the big picture.

    Derek and the Lakers both need each other, because only here will Derek get a chance to do what he does best (rise up in clutch time during a championship playoff run). He’s gone down the road of playing with other teams, and, frankly, he was barely heard from. He didn’t start on a horrible Warriors team, and then went to Utah where his tenure was pretty much all about one game in the playoffs when he flew across the country on game day to hit a couple of key shots.

    There is no team in the league that will pay Derek $10 million over 2 years. None. His season is generally remembered by what he did at the end, but a GM like Kupchak has to also consider what was done throughout the year. When you put the champagne down and look back at the last year objectively, you can easily argue that Fisher was the worst starting PG of any playoff team during the season as a whole.

    Nobody doubts how clutch he was in the playoffs (after the first round…) but you sign players to play a regular season and a post season, and Fish is not a very good regular season guard–which is one reason I’d like to see Blake start, and Fish come off the bench to lead the 2nd unit and to close games when games are tight in the 4th quarter.

  31. Anybody have any thoughts on Gerald Green-he’s playing in the Summer League. Possible diamond in the rough? Getting a little older, perhaps a little wiser.

  32. how about this…
    we’ve been hearing houston is dangling Trevor Ariza as trade bait…
    let’s swap them Sasha ($5M expiring) and Luke for TA…;)

  33. With these cash-strapped franchises willing to overpay for subpar players, I’m curious as to who is willing to accept the minimum. I’d like to see DJ back but I think he’s going to get priced out by a team that can also offer a little more time. Certainly this team wants to 3peat; At the same time, it would be terrible to get elderly overnight so I’d like to see a project/reclamation guard as the 13.

    *My recollection of Gerald Green is that he had less basketball smarts than Shannon Brown. Maybe a few years scratching for an NBA home has awakened the sleeper. Probably not.

  34. thisisweaksauce July 3, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    With whatever’s left of the MLE…

    Dorell Wright! Dorell Wright!

    (And Kurt Thomas or something for veteran’s minimum…)

  35. lakers should sign kyle korver. he can space the floor like we need and then resign shannon brown to be the athletic guard we need

    also. gerald green is sick. him or shannon would be awesome to see

  36. 31. + whoever is pining for Dorrell Wright

    Gerald Green is a rich man’s Dorrell Wright skill-wise. If he can get it together in the department slightly above his shoulders, his picture would have to be inserted next to “diamond in the rough” in the American Idiom Dictionary.

    P.S.

    I’ve watched Wright play and he’s got some upside, but none of his skills stand out. One defensive stop on an over-the-hill Iverson doesn’t cut it. Plus, something is lacking mentally, somewhat reminiscent of Lamar. Lastly, he’s not taking a minimum, someone will overpay him.

  37. The Blake signing seems to make a lot of sense. The Lakers need someone at pg who can shoot and keep the team under control. No problem, Blake has the experience. In regards to slashing the box, that’s why Javaris was picked up. Hope we still can keep Fischer at & 3.75 million.

    I have this feeling that Kwame is returning to the Lakers. He knows the system and will fit in quickly. It seems the Lakers need someone tough behind Pau or to play with him when Bynum gets injured. I don’t think he would cost alot. In fact he could increase his value after playing one year.

  38. Yajeel (29).

    Re: Fisher Bashing
    I said I wouldn’t bash Fisher anymore… i.e. stop making fun of him or yearning for Brown or Farmar to start in his place after that heroic 4th quarter of Game 3. I never said I would pretend that Derek was better than he is. It isn’t bashing him to understand that if the Lakers weren’t in the league that Derek might not have been either the last 2 years. Derek Fisher won the Lakers the championship with that super natural 4th quarter performance… but just like Ariza shooting 47% from three in the 2009 playoffs… who is surprised he shot 30% this past regular season? We can’t count on a 36 year old Derek Fisher next season to start for us.

    Re: TMac
    A player who goes through that kind of a knee surgery needs a good year and a half to recover. If Grant Hill can do what he is doing at 38 years old after all his injuries… I think a 31 year old TMac will be one hell of a role player next year and for seasons to come. Ron Harper had a pretty good stint with the Bulls after being relegated to the sidelines for a couple seasons due to serious knee surgeries. If you count out a talent like Tracy McGrady you are making a mistake I will tell you that. The best time to acquire players is when their stock is at its lowest point. I believe that next year Tracy would be worth a full MLE.

  39. ReignOnParades July 3, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    I think Blake will give us something similar to what Jason Williams gave Orlando last year

    Mike Miller wouldn’t have been bad for the second unit’s decision making either, seeing as how their worst problem was ignoring Gasol and Miller/Gasol was a nice two man game in Memphis.

    Ridnour is someone I’d still look at if Fisher won’t back down from his asking price. Ridnour is willing to do 3 million a year for four years and can be a poor man’s Goran Dragic

  40. Let us not forget the horrible, yes that is the right word, horrible way that Farmer initiated the offense. He would dribble and dribble and dribble looking for the perfect pass or move to score. He never trusted the offense. He would waste away 8 to 10 seconds looking for his magic move. Blake is the complete opposite, thank God. He understands systems and trusts his offense. He is looking to utilize his teammates. For the 2010-2011 season, think of all the seconds we’re gonna get to use on offense that were previously wasted. At 5 seconds a possession, figure 30 possessions a game times 82 games (beep-beep-beep-beep), that’s 2 minutes 30 seconds more offense a game. Yes, I am happy too. That Kupcake guy is all right.

  41. 39. The Lakers are over the cap, and they used most of the MLE on Blake. They can’t give anyone three million a year, short of a sign and trade.

  42. Have watched Steve Blake since his Maryland days and wished the Lakers could get a point guard like him in the triangle! Yes, he has flaws but so does every other player that has been mentioned. Also, didn’t Daryl Strawberry play with Blake at Maryland for one year?

    Would love either Dorrell Wright (LA player) or TMac on the team if it can be worked out! However, we desperately need a 3rd center just because of Bynum’s history. The odds are that Bynum and Gasol would not be out simultaneously, but who knows stranger things have happened.

    Still would love the idea of Craig Smith (LA player) off the bench to add some offense on an off night for the starters, he’s proven that he can score in limited minutes.

    I’m not counting on Sasha being the 3point threat that the Lakers, so desperately need, contract year or not! Something happens to his shots in the game as opposed to practice, its mental of course but enough already this guy has had 5-6 years to develop.

    Once upon a time I thought Casey Jacobsen would be a great ‘triangle’ player, (I know no defense) but he’s not even in the league anymore!

    Who wouldn’t love Anthony Morrow that kid has no conscience when he shoots and he’s tough!

    Lastly, I leave it all in Kupchak’s hands because he’s done a fantastic job. And yes, I was one of the people who wanted him banished from Lakerdom even though I loved him as a player!

  43. Blake > Jordan, that’s enough for me.

    As for defending quick PGs, well:

    1. not many teams can or do
    2. we survived Westbrook, Deron, Nash and Rondo
    3. we have 7 footers to funnel them into

    So not worried at all. Just very very happy that he’s more likely to play within the system than Jordan, and an upgrade at the 3 which is a bonus.

    As for him starting over Fisher:
    1. That’s a good way of negotiating with Fisher to receive less money. Right.
    2. We need Fish with the starters to leash Kobe. Sort of.

  44. on July 8, the Lakers would have the option to work out a sign-and-trade with the Clippers for Blake and still give their mid-level exception to Miller. unlikely scenerio though?

  45. great post

  46. @32. Not enuff in it for Houston
    Takes away even more of Laker cap flexibility,

    @35. Not enuff money for Kyle Korver
    Gerald Green perhaps as a flier for 14th man at minimum.

    @42. Not enuff money for Morrow, Wright & Craig. Likely not enuff minutes either (definitely Craig, not certain abt others)

    @38, others. T-mac would be a great signing. Has his star & ego fallen so far that he would take the minimum (or close to it) on a team with Kobe ? I don’t believe it, but would love to hope.

    @42. Agreed. we need injury insurance on the basketball floor. Sometimes the best insurance is someone to soak up minutes.

    We don’t have a lot of athleticism, not enough penetration outside Kobe, and not much finishing. Can also do with more 3 shooters.

    We need young legs, wise heads, projects to develop and keep the window open, slashers and 3 point shooters.

    And they all have to work cheap (minimum or close to it).

    Oh well.

    Raja and Kurt would be good and some D league (Rod Benson, others) and projects @minimum.

    Max team size 14.

    OTOH, hopefully wellness all around (Bynum, Gasol, Odom, Kobe, Sasha), plus Sasha in contract year (remember that one?)
    plus Artest getting comfortable in the triangle also make for good prospects.
    Hopefully Odom’s performance is slightly attributable to injury & is not falling off a cliff. This year he didn’t seem genuine solid starter as much as before (seemed to be more resigned to being a sub.)

    How bad is Luke’s back ? would never wish it, but is it miss the season bad ? Is it loss of skills (insurance)/ retirement bad ?

  47. @me in 47: Wanted to add

    We need young legs, wise heads, projects, rejects, killers, fillers, slashers, slayers, shooters, hooters, and Mormons.

    2 pts for the reference

  48. Warren Wee Lim July 3, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    Aaron, so you were saying pay TMac that money instead?

    Its becoming too old and too monotonous and saying 55th to 40th isn’t good enough is just plain ignorance about what the limited resources LA has can do.

    If you did count Blake to be 40th, where would you rank Hinrich? Surely he won’t be on the 20s coz per Triangle, he can’t shoot a lick on 3-pt land.

    The thing is, and I reiterate, you play with the cards you are dealt with. You make the best of every situation, and I think while Steve Blake wasn’t the hottest girl in the party, she was the right one.

  49. I am a la lakers fan since the time of magic jhonson era for me signed raja bell instead of mike miller they need a defensive player toguard sg ang sf.

  50. I’m digging these hot girl vs right girl & wife vs mistress analogies.

  51. i would love to see the Lakers pursue the most consistent big man in the nba and i’m talking about U.D. Udonis Haslem he is a free agent as of now and would not mind coming off the bench or playing less minutes as you seen him do this past season with the heat. Also he is very productive has a nice consistent jumper and can clean boards and is 6’11 plays defense. Imagine him coming off the bench for the lakers

  52. @50: I don’t think we have enough money left to make Haslem an offer he will consider, considering there are so many teams with cap room that will likely be shopping for veteran role players to plug in around whatever stars they want to sign (Miami notably being one of them). At any rate some other contender can probably still offer the full midlevel and a better role than 4th big man (Powell/Mbenga minutes is a large step back from the 28 MPG he was seeing last year).

    Also he’s only 6’8″.

    Anyway, regarding Blake: not particularly enthused by his signing, but no issues either. PG was a need spot and while Blake is backup material anywhere else in the league, our system makes minimal demands of its PG.

    I do find it strange that the team might be asking Fisher to take the veteran minimum when we just went and paid Blake (who is only marginally better IMHO) a good chunk of our midlevel.

    Admittedly the market is insanely inflated this offseason, bu still.

  53. Charles,

    It’s all a matter of supply and demand. Blake was fielding offers from multiple teams and by all accounts, took a paycut to come to L.A. Fisher will have positively no offers at the money he’s asking for ($10 million/2 years), so if the Lakers want to stick to $2-3 million/year, they have all the leverage in the world.

  54. @BCR

    Yes, I know, just found the whole situation…weird is the best word I can find to describe it.

    Sorry, can’t really articulate the feeling all that well. Free agency so far has just been crazy all around.

  55. No, No, No to Shaq, TMac, K Brown, AI, or other washed up trouble makers-so happy they left or never played here!

    Speaking of which, does anyone remember back when Vince Carter used to be endlessly compared to Kobe as to which was the true Jordan heir apparent? Seems like every few years Kobe is being challenged by another up and comer. I hope the whole LeBron kingdom fails and Kobe just rolls on…

  56. Yay.

    I still think Miller would have been better, since he is a legit role player and possess basketball smarts as well. With Blake, we are no better off defending elite PGs, so why not go for the more attractive, uber-efficient swingman?

    Still, seems that Miller was too pricey, and this is a marked improvement at PG, so we should be moderately pleased.

  57. Hey,

    Can anyone detail for me exactly what the off season $ situation is for us at this point? So we just used 4 out of approximately 5.7 million mid-level money. This leaves us with about 1.6-1.7 mill of the mid-level left to sign free agents.

    What about re-signing Fisher? Any money we use to resign him wouldn’t come from that remaining money mentioned above right? Do Bird rights kick in when we try to retain Fish and/or Shannon? Does this leave us free to offer whatever we think is reasonable to Shannon and Fish then the remaining 1.7mill of mid-level money to someone on a different team?

    Also, I’ve heard people throwing around “veteran’s minimum”. Is this also a cap exception we have this year? How much is it for? I’m assuming it’s independent of mid-level money and can’t be combined with mid-level money to make an offer… right?

    Thanks guys!

  58. If we were to sign bell or t-mac would the 1.8 mil left in the MLE be more than the vet min? Does anyone know how much the vet min is for these two guys?

  59. Great Post Darius, you are keeping us informed during this interesting time of the year, for sure.

  60. http://sports.espn.go.com/los-angeles/nba/news/story?id=5353008

    Aparently Mike Miller is talking with Clippers after Lakers’ offer was too low because they couldn’t go above MLE.

    It was also reported that he’s speaking with the Knicks. So, it seems all this talk of being tired of losing and wanting to play for a winner being his priority is just a boatload of BS. Very disapointing. If he had signed with BOST, CLE, ORL or some ‘super team’ you couldn’t really blame him but the Clips or the Knicks?

  61. I don’t understand the whole “Blake isn’t an upgrade on defense against quick PGs” argument. There are very few defenders who can stop quick PGs, that’s precisely what the NBA intended with its rules.

    Also, the Lakers’ defensive scheme does not require a shutdown defensive PG, just one who has enough brainpower to understand how to funnel the PG to one of our 7 footers. Blake, from all accounts, is a pretty bright and coachable player. I don’t expect many PUJITs, Farmar’s “forays” to the basket, or ShanWow’s “what the hell am I supposed to do” look on the perimeter from Blake. Blake is an exceptional pickup and perfect for the style and personnel the Lakers play. So fans, rejoice, we got a good deal.

    On a sidenote, you should check out Caracter and Ebanks’ interviews. They have the right mentality and I really believe both will make the team.

    http://lakersblog.latimes.com/

  62. ric bucher saying that lakers feel confident about fisher’s return after first round of negotiations.

    gotta love how things are falling into place. if we keep at this rate and mitch keeps his stellar streak alive, we may just have a backup C (cough, thomas) and that other X player (shall i say players after reading here about a possible 14-man lineup for phil’s grand run) before the end of this week.

    now the rumor mill is heavily churning names: bell, tmac, barnes, allen now even mason jr. now if we sign a combo of tmac-bell, bell-barnes, tmac-barnes for the vets minimum (possible to do two signings?), i’d say this was a successful offseason and onto bonding. am 60-40 in favor of tmac. this guy has upside and for the role he’s bound to play (should he take it), i don’t think it’s pipe nor impractical to have him. this guy can anchor the bench of a dominant championship team (a good selling point) with blake and lamar. and i don’t see him as a project. this was an all-star gone broken. i like broken men out to prove themselves. it comes down to his outlook, perspective and willingness. before these i’ d look into the summer league as well. i hope ebanks (i am in the opinion that he becomes our pg stopper and high flying spark off the bench) and caracter (i hope he evolves into a killer big baby early on, hey they were comparing him early to LBJ!!!) don’t disappoint and in fact soar to promise. they are as young as we might go this year (a sudden leap in age average). gerald green and strawberry might be sleepers to get that 13th-14th slot.

    and to top if off, phil wants to set things right this time and simply DOMINATE. i’ve long wanted consistent dominance from this team. now is the best time, locked and loaded, to do this.

    GO LAKERS!

  63. suggestion: could we devote a post to the 2nd unit? review the productivity of last year’s lineups, identify areas where improvement is needed, and create a list of free agents that fit our criteria?

    thanks.

  64. #57. Drew,
    The Lakers have Fisher’s Bird Rights and can sign him to contract for any dollar amount up to the max for a player with his number of years played. As for Shannon, I believe the Lakers have Partial Bird rights which allow them to offer him more than the minimum, but not up to the max. Based off my understanding (which could be wrong, but I’ll double check this when I have more time), Full Bird Rights are earned when a player plays for a single team for 3 consecutive years OR if he’s been on the same contract for 3 consecutive years. Shannon is neither (only been with the Lakers for 2.5 years and he’s been on 2 contracts over that period) so I believe the Lakers only have Partial Bird Rights. However, those would still be enough to sign him up to the mid-level (I believe) without having to use any other exception.

    As for the Vet’s Minimum, that’s a salary classification that is set by the league and is the minimum amount of money that a veteran player can earn based off his number of service years. In order to encourage teams to pick up veteran players rather than go with cheap, rookie alternatives, the NBA even pays a portion of the vet’s minimum so it doesn’t all count against the luxury tax. The Lakers, as every team, can use this exception every season to fill out their roster. Once a team is over the cap (as the Lakers are) and have used all their exceptions (which the Lakers have – except for the 1.7 that remains of the MLE), the Vet’s Minimum is the only way to sign players; it allows you to complete your roster by going over the salary cap. This is why Miami, would need to fill out their roster with all minimum salaried players if they signed their “super team” of Wade/Lebron/Bosh. After those guys would be inked, they’d be over the cap and would no longer have any exceptions except for the vets minimum (teams lose their MLE and Bi-anual exception if they go under the cap at any point and since the heat are under the cap now, they no longer have those exceptions).

  65. Warren Wee Lim July 4, 2010 at 9:03 am

    VET MIN is estimated to be at 1.3M.

    BI-ANNUAL EXCEPTION is allowed to a team that is over the salary cap but only once every 2 years.

    MID-LEVEL EXCEPTION is estimated to be worth 5.7M and can be split to 2 or more guys.

    Shannon Brown was signed to the BAE last season after playing a single season with us, therefore we have the ability to sign him to 120% of his previous contract, estimated to be 2.4M starting.

    Derek Fisher can be signed of up to 21M due to us having his bird rights. Bird Rights refer to 3 seasons of playing for a single team without being waived at any point.

  66. Aaron…

    Really? You’re not Fisher bashing because you think you’re telling the truth. You were wrong last season. The results still worked out. Even with the worst starter in the NBA. This is where all your stats crap doesn’t work. Every player on the Lakers said that Fisher was an important voice in the locker room and a steadying force on the floor. All this stats crap you bring up doesn’t back anything up EXCEPT FOR THE STATS. All those stats fisher had: = Championship with the team.

    And then you go and pine for TMAC?? TMAC??? Really? He was good when he was athletic, and now he was injured. Even after the trade to New York where there was no one around him but D. Lee, he couldn’t do anything. Your argument that he could be Ron Harper makes no sense either. Ron Harper was never a superstar offensive force. Ron Harper was an athletic player who played great defense and that’s why he was ok with being a role player. You made me shake my head with that comparison.

    Here’s how we determine the rest of the roster: Re-sign Fisher, watch teams over pay for three superstars and no-one else, and pick up the pieces with the rest of the free agents. The team we had won an NBA championship. Upgrade the backup point guard position who can play long minutes is fine. Figure out what’s going on with Bynum – and then we’ll figure out if we need a Center who needs to have some game. If not, we can survive with the Mbenga’s of the world.

    Though I’d rather not think about it, there needs to be a discussion about trading LO for 2 serviceable players. I hate to think about it, but it would make a lot of sense financially, though probably not bball wise since Lamar and Pau work so well. But LO was not a big factor in the finals or a lot of the playoffs and is an expensive piece. Another team will enjoy his versatility if not results.

  67. We really have two 2nd units. One is anchored by Drew, and the other by Pau.

    I figure that the best way to get the Drew unit to produce is to surround Bynum with 3 good shooters and 1 good initiator/post-entry-passer. With Odom in the initiator role, and a backcourt of Blake and Sasha, a good 3pt shooting SF is optimal.

    The unit anchored by Pau is more of a transition unit. LO is here again, and so are Ebanks and Blake. Pau doesn’t clog the middle because he can operate from the high post. So what this unit could use is an athletic, slashing combo guard.

    The best man for the job is a swing man who can space the floor and attack the hoop. Sadly, Kevin Durant is not walking through that door, and anybody with that skillset isn’t going to come cheap.

    We’ve got $1.8M, or the veteran minimum. Any ideas?

  68. Ray,
    Let it go already. I never said we couldn’t win a championship with a bad starting PG… I just said it would make it more difficult. Derek Fisher played the best quarter of his career to finish off game 3 in Boston and without that heroic performance the Lakers would never have won the title last season. However… that was last year. Lets move on. I don’t think anyone here wants to see Kobe having to guard PG’s again next season, it is time to improve our worst position and we did that by upgrading the back up PG spot with Blake. Now it is time to upgrade the starting PG spot. I guess you were too young to remember Ron Harper. He was one of the offensive super stars in the NBA while with the Cavs as a young player averaging over 20 points per game through his first 9 seasons with the Cavs and then with the Clippers until a series of knee injuries robbed him of is athleticism. He then joined Jordan (Kobe) under Phil Jackson’s triangle offense and moved to PG where he used his great length to suffocate younger, quicker PG’s to the point that Phil called him the greatest defensive PG he had ever coached.

  69. How about Tony Allen or Ronnie Brewer for the 1.8 million left of the MLE. There’s your combo slashing guard off the bench…doubtful Brewer would take that, but you never know.

  70. 67, 68, 69. This is where I give my obligatory mention of Dorell Wright :D

  71. Or even better, and easier to secure, how about our very own summer leaguer Gerald Green?

  72. A 3pt shooter works for both lineups, so i think that should be our priority. If he can slash too, that’d be gravy.

    I’m really thinking the dregs of the free agent market, here. Devean George. Keith Bogans. James Singleton. Guys you might never have heard of.

    Portland and Indiana are supposedly interested in Farmar. He’s a bit undersized but I think Rudy Fernandez would be a great get. Ditto for Brandon Rush. Both are over the cap, so the incentive for a sign-and-trade is being able to keep their exceptions.

  73. It’s really nice to think about who we “could” get, but the reality of the matter is, if we bring Fish back at $2.5 m and add the lowest cost possible players at NBA minimums, we’re at about the same salary level as last year. And that doesn’t mean adding players at the vet minimum. There’s a big salary difference in adding a 10 or 12 year vet vs a 2nd round or undrafted rookie.

    Don’t forget, whatever we pay anyone now counts double against the salary tax. I doubt we see any more aquisitions of any significant nature this year, unless a trade is involved.

  74. If nothing else, Green could provide some highlight reel dunks if/when Shannon leaves….

  75. @72,
    I’ve heard of Devean George! Didn’t he use to wear a Laker jersey?

  76. LOL Mimsy. He used to be an important contributor off our bench in the 2001 & 2002 championship runs. I don’t think he played a major role in the first title though.

  77. I’m less concerned about McGrady’s knee and more concerned about his family tradition of losing. The Ron Harper comparison would be 1:1 if he had served Clipper-style time. At vet’s minimum… ok… but the title still hinges on Bynum’s knee and Bryant’s fingers/ankle/knee getting right.

  78. Going back 2 months I suggested Blake was the guy we needed. Looks like someone is reading this.

    Good choose. Much more stable then Farmer or Brown.

  79. are you kidding me! steve blake for 4 years. thats 2 years too long! there has got to be something better on the free agent market in a couple of years. stevie just won the lottery.

  80. I think the smartest name mentioned was Tony Allen. Unfortunately with the signing of Blake, I don’t think Allen is in the cards but he is a terrific on ball defender and can flat out stop pg’s. He could be signed for the remaining MLE but doubtful. I don’t see another defender out there as good.

  81. the lakers need another small forward tmac hey get him ?

  82. Why are people even mentioning Gerald Green? He’s pretty much the exact type of player I wouldn’t want playing for the Lakers.

    He seems like Steve Blake’s exact opposite.
    I doubt Phil/Mitch is looking for a low bball-iq/superathletic player with a bad attitude.

  83. I wonder what is going on with Critterton’s camp. I suppose his agent is doing his best to secure a long-term deal for his client; but without proving to teams that he is reliable and that he has any game remaining? That is a slight red flag for me. Perhaps he thinks he can be more than a role player elsewhere, as the PG minutes are drying up in LA now. Critt has to prove a lot to get more than slightly above the minimum, given his transgressions in Washington DC.

    In the end, I do hope he comes to LA. Also, don’t sleep on my boy (and now Lakers summer leaguer) Ibrahim Jaber. He’s a poor man’s Devin Harris. He actually was in the top 3 nationally his junior and senior years in steals (3.4 and 4.5 steals…granted it was against other Ivy League teams like Yale and Harvard…sigh), and he played overseas on the same team as Brandon Jennings. OK, I’m just being impartial since he’s a Penn grad. :-)

  84. regiefrancisco July 5, 2010 at 7:39 am

    lakeshow! go lakers 3 peat!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSeLJVVz3_Y

  85. 68, “… without [FIsher's] heroic performance the Lakers would never have won the title last season. However… that was last year. Lets move on.”

    I’m pretty sure you made a very similar statement last offseason.

  86. Zephid,
    haha. And last year I was probably right to want the Lakers to bring in a starting PG in the off season… and probably wrong (on Derek’s 4th quarter of Game 3 alone) to want them to start Brown/Farmar in Fisher’s place. I have a feeling this year I will probably be right to want the Lakers to re-sign Fisher as a bench player and most definitely right to want the Lakers to bring in a starting PG to move Blake to the bench where he belongs.

  87. Aaron,

    Fisher will not be signed as a bench player. He and Blake as a tandem will be the Lakers starting PG–perfect for the triangle. We will never find out if you are right about signing a “starting PG” because it will not happen.

  88. drrayeye,
    Well… Mitch has added a starting player every year to this team. First it was Bynum, then Fisher, then Gasol, then Ariza, and then last year it was Artest. So history says that Mitch will again add a starter for this upcoming season.

  89. Considering that the Lakers have played Fisher. Ron Harper and Brian Shaw with Kobe and that PJ has never really had or wanted a traditional PG, the most important thing for Blake is to help run the offense.

    That’s why Mr. Clutch was right; a perimeter slasher would be good for this team.

  90. This is a great pick-up for the Champs. This ensures a good PG if Derek doesn’t resign and a great back-up if he does. Im from the DC/MD/VA area and remember Steve Blake from the 2002 Maryland Championship team with Juan Dixon. He has a great basketball IQ will not make the dumb mistakes that Jordan Farmar used to make and will give you the consistency on the bench that the Lakers’ have been lacking. In order for them to get that 3peat Kobe desires they needed to up their bench play. Steve Blake is a great anchor for that 2nd unit with Odom and Vujacic and adding Mike Miller which I really hope they do will put them in position to run with the top benches in the league. I.E. Phoenix, Orlando, Denver etc. Good move

  91. Defiinitely an upgrade over Farmar!