It’s Mailbag Time

Darius Soriano —  July 7, 2010

May 04, 2010 - Los Angeles, California, U.S. - Los Angeles Lakers head coach PHIL JACKSON (center), assistant coaches BRIAN SHAW (L) and FRANK HAMBLEN in the Game 2 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series. The Lakers won 111-103.

Welcome to FB&G’s first attempt at a mailbag.  Thanks to all of you that submitted questions.  If you’d like to submit a question for future installments just send me an email and put “mailbag question” in the subject line.  Here we go…

Do you see a possibility of Phil sliding into a Tex Winter type role after next year?  Come in during training camp and a couple times during the season to help out and tweak things.  Or is the personality going to be so strong and Shaw still trying to establish himself that it would be a bad idea?  Or at least not the first year of Shaw being the head man.  But the second year.  Phil had no problem acknowledging that Tex mentored him right from the get go.  It’d be an interesting proposition.

-Chownoir

While I think Phil will have some sort of role with the Lakers after he’s finished coaching, I don’t think he’ll be a “Tex Winter” type of advisor to Brian Shaw.  Remember, Tex was very visible in practices and behind the bench and his voice was heard consistently while his health permitted him to be part of the team.  I hope that Phil would make himself available as a resource to Shaw (assuming Brian is the man chosen to replace Phil), but I think those communications would happen behind the scenes, not in practices or in training camp.  In the end, I think Phil taking too active a role after his retirement from coaching would be a bit of a conflict for the players and could potentially undermine Shaw’s role as the head man.  Remember too that by the end of next season, Shaw will have just completed his 6th season as an assistant to Jackson.  He’ll likely have learned as much as possible from Phil in terms of schemes and tactics and it will then be up to Shaw to take what he’s learned and incorporate that into his own coaching style.  From everything I’ve read, Shaw has the respect and ear of the players so his message should be well received.  It’s just a matter of his message and guidance then producing results.  And while I have confidence in Shaw as a head man, we’ll see how he does when that day comes.

If Ron Artest plays at more or less the same level as he did in Game 7, is any team going to be able to beat the Lakers if they stay healthy?

-Marv

If Ron plays at his game 7 level, no, the Lakers can’t be beaten with an otherwise healthy roster.  That said, I don’t think the Lakers are going to get that type of performance consistently from Ron.  In that game, Ron not only played excellent defense (which is a given) but his jumper was falling (for the most part) and he was making the type of instinctive basketball plays – at least on offense – that he hadn’t for most of the year.  Playing at that level consistently is difficult when the opportunities are packaged to fit a role player.  What I mean by that is, in game 7 Ron took 18 shots which was his high FGA for the season and in the future, I think he’ll still be slotted behind Kobe, Pau, and Bynum and will have to continue to try and do more with less.  However, I do believe that Ron will improve in future seasons and we’ll see better efficiency in his shooting numbers and a greater understanding of how to play within the Triangle.  That may not equate to a “game 7 level  performance” all the time, but I think we’ll see less extremes in performance where Artest gains consistency.  Which, in the end, will mean an even stronger Lakers team.

There has been a movement throughout the NBA to look past traditional statistics and look deeper into what the numbers mean. Many teams are adopting ABPRMetrics, such  as the Rockets, Mavs, Nuggetsand Trailblazers, even going as far as to employ a statistician on staff. Then there are teams that are “old school” and rely almost solely on the word of scouts. Which camp do the Lakers fall into, or is it somewhere in between?

-Phil

From everything I’ve read, the Lakers have yet to fully embrace the “Moneyball” movement in Basketball.  But, this shouldn’t be surprising considering the philosophy of Phil Jackson’s coaching style.  Phil teaches a specific system that isn’t about statistical value but rather how pieces fit to form a team.  From an outsiders perspective, Phil’s approach is one where the team is  a living, breathing organism that must find a way to function together in a way where stat driven lineups don’t matter as much as the decision making as a group being on the same page with the results produced being dependent on the team seeing the same picture while on the court together.  And while I think there is merit to looking at advanced stats or adjusted plus/minus to seek out trends and what helps or hurts a team, I also think there is value in things that can’t be measured by stats.  A great example of this would be the debate about whether Fisher or Farmar should have been the starting PG this season.  All the advanced stats showed Farmar to be the more effective player on both offense and defense and that the team performed just as well, if not better when Farmar played with the player combinations that Fisher played the majority of his minutes with.  However, what the stats didn’t measure was Fisher’s propensity to hit the big shots, organize the offense in a way where the best players got more touches, or how his leadership helped stabilize the team in moments where it was needed most.  I do think as advanced stats become more common place in the NBA, more teams will embrace them as a tool, but I think there will always be a place for making coaching decisions without the influence of numbers and by following a “gut feeling” or by judging a situation based off how the pieces “fit” from a chemistry standpoint rather than a pure production one.

How long will Bynum be out at the start of the season? How long does a full recovery take?  Since Kobe’s taking time off from playing for the first time in years, will all his various ailments be 100% come the start of the season?  I know it’s for developmental players, but the triangle is so hard to learn and fit into for most players, would it make sense for Blake to get some burn in the summer league?  Thanks, love the site.

-SS

We’ll take these in order.  First, I think Bynum will be fully recovered by the time that the season starts.  Estimates on recovery time are from anywhere from 2-4 weeks (Brandon Roy came back in less than two weeks these past playoffs), so I think if Bynum has his surgery by the end of this month, he’ll be ready to go by the time training camp in underway in late September/early October.  Second, I think Kobe’s ailments will be as good to go as possible by the time the season starts.  However, understand that Kobe’s ailments aren’t the type that will magically go away.  His finger is arthritic and it may never be the same again.  He also has tendinitis in his knee and that is something he’ll have to deal with for the rest of his career.  All that said, Kobe’s shown a dedication to his body and physical conditioning that few others have and he’s consistently finding ways to be effective as his athleticism/physical peak decreases.  So, I’m confident that Kobe will be good to go and that he’ll definitely benefit from the time off.  As for Blake and Summer League, I just don’t see it happening.  Blake is a smart player and I trust that he’ll pick up the schemes rather quickly.  He’s known to be a student of the game and as a traditional Point Guard, a player that prides himself on being an extension of the coach on the floor.  So, while the nuance of playing in the Triangle can be something that takes time to learn, I think Blake will adapt well and be able to contribute rather quickly without much hesitation in where he needs to be within the confines of the Lakers’ sets.

Would you please provide a primer on seeing Summer League games in person?  I think I – and perhaps many others – are ready to take this next step to basketball geekdom.

-Rick

When looking at a team like the Lakers, I think the best way is to focus on the players that the Lakers have an investment in first (Ebanks, Carracter) and then see if anyone else stands out in any meaningful way.  I know that I’ll be focusing on the two Lakers rookies, but then I’ll also be paying special attention to Green and Kurz, just because of their past NBA experience and the fact that they have skill sets that the Lakers could use on their team.  All that said, when you have a championship roster (like the Lakers do) there’s little chance that any player from Summer League team is going to make any sort of meaningful impact during the regular season.  And while some of these guys may get a camp invite, most are likely using their time on the Lakers’ roster as an audition for other teams.  Remember, there are scouts and talent evaluators from every team at the Summer League’s and they’re all looking for that potential player that can come in and compete for a roster spot.  And while the Lakers may not be the team that takes a flyer on a player, another team may.

Did the lakers not try to sell the Bynum for Bosh deal?  Bynum is not going to last and we would be smart trying to deal him while he is young and has value. The lakers are in their last 3 year run starting now so a Bosh or top talent would make sense. You go for the gold now.

-Eric

With Bosh seemingly about to sign with the Heat, I thought this would be a good chance to put this Bosh/Bynum thing to rest for a while.  I’m unsure of how “real” these Bosh for Bynum rumors ever were.  From a media and fan standpoint, this was a deal that made sense and I know there was speculation about both sides being “open” to the deal.  However, from the standpoint of what we know about the Lakers I’m not sure this information being out there actually makes sense.  Just consider this one point – How often, in the past several seasons, have we heard about a Lakers trade from the media before it actually happened?  There weren’t any indications of the Gasol trade or the Shannon/Ammo trade.  So, I have a hard time believing that the Lakers were actually the ones making waves about acquiring Bosh as they’ve proven that these types of leaks don’t happen when they’re serious about making a deal. 

As for the assumption that Bynum is not built to last, as cliche as this sounds – only time will tell.  The early results don’t look extremely promising as Bynum has endured several injuries that have limited him over the last three seasons.  However, the flip side of that coin is that most of these injuries have been fluke-ish and I’m not convinced there’s a trend of injuries as much as there’s been a trend of bad luck.  I’d feel different is this were a Sam Bowie situation where the same foot problem cropped up year after year, but that’s not been the case with ‘Drew.  His knee injuries haven’t been of the same variety and both happened in ways where you could easily say he just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Granted, this doesn’t erase the fact that he’s been injured and his future is cloudy in this regard.  But, I do think he’s a player worth holding onto based off his (still promising) upside and the role that he fills on this team as a defender/rebounder and a guy that also allows Gasol to play PF for the majority of his minutes.  Within the context of this team, I think the Lakers mix of big men is the perfect blend and Bynum is – figuratively and literally – a big part of that.

James and Wade seem to be players that operate best when they have the ball, and are clearly double-alpha guys.  Does it really make sense to have them on the same team, or does that dilute their individual value?  Will they be at odds over control of the team?

-Marv

Another question that is relevant with the Lebron about make his decision tomorrow.  I’m honestly a bit on the fence with this one.  I think there will be times that one of either Lebron or Wade would be frozen out of the offense as the other player tries to create in a way that’s most comfortable to him.  However, I’m a firm believer in great players finding ways to figure things out and there aren’t too many players better than James and Wade.  Also, I think both players understand the game and play with a level of unselfishness that would aid in any potential partnership.  Remember too, these guys have played together on All-Star teams and on Team USA for the past several years.  They understand each other’s games and would find ways to compliment each other.  I also think that both players would be able to add on to and improve their respective games so that they’d find an even better way to mesh as their careers advanced.  In the end, there could possibly be issues of “control” or “who takes the last shot”, but I think a lot of those issues could be worked out if the team is winning and if there are people in coaching/management strong enough to corral their egos and have them focus on the ultimate prize.  And again, I think with great players that’s easier than with ones who “think” they’re great but really aren’t that caliber of player.  Wade and Lebron are the goods.  I think they’d work it out.

Darius Soriano

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79 responses to It’s Mailbag Time

  1. swedishmeatballs July 7, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Wow, that was fast. Boozer has reached a deal with Bulls according to Aldrige.

  2. Dodol Surodol July 7, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    On “who takes the last shot”, I would always go with Wade, with LeBron providing the rebounding threat ;)

    Personally, though, I don’t see James joining Wade-Bosh in Miami. The “Team USA” / “All-Star” concept may work when it is a short tournament. Over 82 games, it might just provide too many chances for alpha dogs’ feud.

  3. #1. I saw the deal for Boozer as well. I actually really like that signing for the Bulls. His defensive struggles can be masked some playing next to Noah and the Bulls really needed a player that can score on the block and run the P&R with Rose. I don’t know if the Bulls can still swing a deal for Lebron, but I might just go in another direction and sign Mike Miller, JJ Redick, a back up C and a backup PG to round out the roster. They could then have an 8 man rotation of Rose, Miller, Deng, Boozer, Noah, Taj Gibson, Redick, FA PG. That’s a very good team with solid shooting, post scoring, and rebounding. You add Thib’s defensive mind as the head coach and that’s a formidable outfit.

  4. Re: The “Super Team”

    This is driving me crazy. They would arguably have the top two players in the NBA and 3 of the top 10 as i think Bosh is the best PF in the NBA. This wouldn’t work? If you think that… than you haven’t been watching NBA basketball in the past 30 years. The more superstars you have the better your team is. If you thought Lebron was good being doubled and triple teamed every game… imagine how good he will be being single covered? Cause guess what? You cannot double him with Wade on the outside and Bosh on the baseline. The guy will shoot 55% next year. Oh yea… and then there is that Wade guy that took his team to a #5 seed last year all by himself. He would now have Bosh and Lebron. By this logic the Lakers would be better if Gasol was taken away since he likes the ball in his hands and complains when he doesn’t have it enough. And take Bynum off the Lakers since he has said he wants to score 20 plus points and wants his touches. The better players you have the better your team is… How did Wade and a bunch of role players do last year? How did Lebron and a bunch of role players do last year? How did Bosh and a bunch of role players do last year? The two teams with the most stars met in the Finals last season. Kobe, Gasol, Bynum, Artest, and Odom…. and KG, Pierce, Allen, and Rondo. The more stars the better. The proof is in the pudding.

  5. Bosh is the best PF in the league?

    Not yet, he ain’t.

    You might want to check out a guy named Pau Gasol sometime. Plays on a team called the “Lakers”.

    Wade and LeBron the two best? Well, yes, arguably so.

    I’d say: two of the best. Funny how much meaning a tiny word like “of” can have.

  6. To: Aaron

    Basketball has never been about the most stars making it to the finals, it has always been about the best “fit” of players. The type of game the Celtics played was great because every player fit into a role. I certainly wouldn’t call Allen or Garnett stars anymore simply due to their age and inability to “bring it” every night. On the other hand, Odom isn’t really a star either for the same reason. But Odom “fits” into what the Lakers do and helped them, albeit not fully, reach the championship again. Why do you think the Lakers couldn’t win it with Malone/Payton/Oneal/Bryant? They lost to a team that “fit” better. Look at all the teams that have done well over the last few years, they are all teams that built around a star or two and filled in with great role players, not 3 max contracts with you and I flanking them on the perimeter…Also I don’t really understand where your idea of Lebron being doubled all the time, teams actually liked to play him one on one and force him to shoot outside shots (hence the complaints about his shooting)…I think the Heat would better serve themselves with what they have now and building around Bosh and Wade.

  7. Reguarding Stats vs Gut Instincts, there are so many factors that cannot be measured by stats that I think the statistical gurus will never replace the eyeball test to measure the true effectiveness of a player or a team.
    Statistics in basketball are a great starting point for ranking players and evaluating their value as scorers, rebounders, ball handlers etc. But if you watch the various players play games, you can see for yourself the things that each player does well and the things that they do poorly. In addition you can see how well the player defends his man, how willing he is to help his teammates, how well he fits into a defensive scheme, how good his descision-making is, etc.
    To me, the value of Phil (and Mich) is that they can evaluate players extremely well (pluses and minuses), so they know what the team’s needs are, and what kind of players they need. They can often find these players at a price that fits their budget. I’m thinking of Trevor Ariza and Shannon Brown in particular as examples of this. Because they are used in ways that maximize their pluses and minimize their minuses, these two players in particular benefit financially from having played for Phil Jackson and the Lakers.
    And, of course, the biggest edge that Phil Jackson gives us, is his ability to find the mismatches in the Laker’s favor and turn one or more of those mismatches into a fatal flaw for the opponent.

  8. Aaron,
    Strengths of individual players tend to cancel each other out to some degree, particularly on offense. So until we actually see them play together, we won’t know how well it will work.

  9. 5,
    Pau Gasol only made one all star team and was actually underrated in my eyes until he joined the Lakers where he has now become overrated. I think he is the 2nd best PF to Bosh right now in the league. It is actually hard to argue against Bosh if you watch him play more. But as soon as Gasol comes to LA and plays with Kobe, Artest, Lamar, and Bynum… all of the sudden he is the best PF in the game? Don’t get me wrong… Pau is great and probably is the 2nd best PF around… but Bosh is a perennial All Star.

    6,
    The Lakers didn’t win in 04 because Malone was hurt in the Finals and Payton wasn’t all that good anymore. I mean the guy was 35. Who starts a 35 year old PG on a good team? Oh wait… haha. And say all you want about KG but he routinely beat Gasol off the dribble in the Finals and scored at will against him in the post. Is he a superstar anymore? no… but he is a star player. Same goes for Lamar to a lesser extent.

    8,
    Strengths of individual players do cancel each other out some if the players only have 1 strength and it is the same. Like if you have 5 Steve Kerr’s out there. But when you have two guys like James and Wade that can practically do everything on the basketball court their skills actually do the opposite of canceling each other out… their skills enhance the skills of each other.

  10. It’s definitely not all about the stars.

    Chemistry matters greatly. There have been many loaded teams that went nowhere. Anybody remember the Lakers just before PJ? Perhaps more talented than the three peat teams.

  11. Aaron,

    I’ve seen Bosh play in person, and yeah the dude is really good no doubt.

    BTW, I carefully checked my post re: Gasol & Bosh and didn’t see the implication that Pau “all of the sudden” became the best PF as soon as he found new teammates. I think Pau grew – big time -this past season into the best PF around. And sure, the people around him have had something to do with this, but that doesn’t take away from his achievements.

  12. I actually think Wade and LeBron duplicate each other’s primary skill set rather than complementing each other.

    Both are elite wing slashers who like to have the ball in their hands to create for themselves and their teammates. Not saying they can’t learn to eventually mesh with each other, but the things they are best at are pretty much the same.

  13. Aaron,

    You seem to oversimplify things quite often. I tend to agree with you that if Lebron were to end up in Miami with Wade and Bosh that they would form a formidable trio and ultimately any concern about alpha-dog issues would be outweighed by the respective talents of these players. Whether or not riles would be able to surround them with enough serviceable role players with the limited funds they’d have available to make them a championship-caliber team is another question. However, questioning whether those guys would be able to mesh effectively is not the same logic as suggesting the lakers would be better without gasol and bynum. nobody is suggesting that great teams are built by obtaining scrubs that play well together. gasol is, in my opinion, the best post player in the league and a top 10 player in the league and bynum is a young 7-footer with the size and skills to be one of the top centers in the game. one of the reasons that we’ve been so effective as a team is because these supremely talented players have found their niches within the framework of the team and are willing to operate in this framework. they understand their roles and they perform these roles and both seem to be comfortable handing the alpha-dog reigns to kobe. would wade or lebron be willing to defer to the other? would they need to? my guess is that if lebron chooses to go to miami that they would be able to figure these things out, but you can’t act like it’s not a valid question as both are, and have always been, unquestioned first bananas.

    p.s. i think your “the more stars the better” argument just explained your unbridled enthusiasm for tracy mcgrady…yikes.

  14. I’d take Pau over Bosh any day of the week and twice on Sunday. He simply has a more varied and versatile offensive game. He’s a much, much better passer out of the post, and at least on a pure statistical basis, Gasol is a better shotblocker and slightly better rebounder. And it may sound funny, but Pau is actually a more physical player than Bosh, who is awful soft if you ask me. The only edge I’d give Bosh is that he is a superior perimeter shooter. But as I’ll always take a low-post scorer over a jumpshooter, that’s not much of an advantage.

  15. Tweeted by Bill Simmons this morning in regards to whether Bosh is a superstar:

    “Chris Bosh: 7 seasons, 1 2nd-team All-NBA, 0 All-D’s, 5 lotteries. Career: 211-320. Playoffs: 3-8. No more calling him a “superstar” please.”

  16. thisisweaksauce July 7, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    We would still beat a super team of Bosh, James, and Wade.

    Oh, and W rips LeBron:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news;_ylt=A0PDlNhHCzVMqmQBewA5nYcB?slug=aw-lebrondecision070710

  17. Dude…Aaron, you would really take Bosh over Pau?

    Pau lead an absolutely DREADFUL Memphis team to the playoffs in the West.

    Bosh is obviously an excellent player, but I’d still take Pau over Bosh.

  18. I really hope Miami actually makes a super team so we can watch them flame out in the 2nd round against Orlando. Lebron, Wade, and Bosh will all have to play heavy minutes in order for their team to remain competitive even during the regular season. They’ll be burnt out when the playoffs come around since their team has so little depth.

    Now if they can get a few guys for the minimum, guys like PJ Brown and Sam Cassell circa 2008, it’ll be a different story. But if it’s just those 3 and 9 scrubs? I’m not too scared of that.

  19. What a short memory some people have. Already forgotten about the championship the Lakers just won? The reason we won {besides Kobe) is the length and athleticism of our bigs. There isn’t a team in the league that can handle us on the offensive or defensive end. If Bynum would’ve been healthy we would have beaten the Celtics in 6. What makes the Lakers every other team’s nightmare is that we start 2 outstanding 7 footers, with our first sub being a 6 10 player with point guard skills! Why would you even consider trading a big part of what makes us a two time defending champion for a max salary player without max salary skills?

  20. Darius, glad you mentioned Rob Kurz. I like that guy, and if he can shoot 40% from 3-point on a helter-skelter Warriors offense, imagine what he can do with some wide open shots in the triangle.

    Could be a good role player / 12th-man for a mere $800K.

  21. btw, I’m really hoping that Lebron leaves Cleveland in the most dramatic way possible, because it would be the greatest heel-turn of all-time, no question.

    Lebron: “I would just like to say to the fans in Cleveland… YOU CAN ALL SUCK IT!” *cue Degeneration X theme*

    Nothing would be more awesome than seeing Lebron become the ultimate real-life villain, just for pure entertainment value.

  22. Darius – Love the mailbag feature.

    Thought it went very well.

  23. Let’s look at the Miami Heat. It appears like a 20 year old playing NBA 2k10. Let me try to trade my whole team to get 2 stars, then field the rest of my team with scrubs.

    This strategy works in video games because you can just use those star players the whole game and you might be able to outscore the computer.

    In the real world, defense matters. The Lakers have a legit defense anchored by 2 seven footers. We just won two consecutive championships and our cohesiveness and experience will be a force to be reckoned with.

    Of course we’ll all be claiming the sky is falling when we go .500 for a stretch next year, while Miami goes on a 15 game win streak during the regular season.

    Be glad you’re a Lakers fan, the forecast is clear for the next couple years.

  24. Zephid – I’m glad to see that there are other people thinking exactly what I’m thinking! That would be the best outcome in my book too.

  25. Salary cap came out higher than expected. This helps us slightly. We get hit less in the Luxury Tax and we have a little more to spend with what is left over from the MLE. Sounds better offer 2mil than 1.8mil.

    Anyways, I thought I’d throw that out.

  26. I am a firm believer in having to watch a player to see how he would fit into a system team, like the Lakers. The things not measured by statistics are critical for a system team. That said, I do feel statistics fill a real need in evaluating players. With so much information and so many players out there it is critical that you winnow down the number of players you look at without losing any ‘gems’.

    For any system there are some statistics that are more meaningful than others and this varies by type of system. It is management’s job to evaluate this factor and use the appropriate statistics to eliminate as many players as possible. Then the team must actually look at all the remaining players.

    This is the real value of statistics and we tend to ignore this perspective and just think the numbers actually tell us something positive, rather than eliminate the negative.

  27. http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/g/gasolpa01.html

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/b/boshch01.html

    Not much diff. For right now, I’d take Gasol. He’s simply the more efficient player (compare assists per game and FGA/FG%). He scores almost as much, taking less shots, and he helps others score more. I mean, you do realize that with the FG% being what it is, if Gasol shot the 3-4 extra shots per game that Bosh does, he’d have more or less the same scoring avg as Bosh?

    Lastly, on an unrelated note, you’ll all have to forgive my giddiness over Ebanks. My one prior post didn’t make it to the board, as presumably Darius was of the opinion that I borrowed too much from the one Columbus Dispatch piece. So let me try again, from that same source, with but a single paragraph:

    Evan Turner had 18 points and 11 rebounds but was held without a field goal and had just one assist in the second half after West Virginia coach Bob Huggins switched 6-foot-9 Devin Ebanks on him.

    So, our man Devin shut down Mr. 2nd Pick of the Draft. Maybe with time, he can be the soul who defends the other team’s studly PG.

  28. 1) LBJ is not going to Miami. He won’t play second fiddle to Wade (make no mistake, that team is Dwyane’s) and he understands the roster limitations with 3 max contracts on a team. He’s either returning to Cavs or bolting for the Knicks. We’ll find out tomorrow.

    2) Pau is the best PF in the league. Bosh wishes he had Pau’s bball IQ. They are quite similar, but Chris is an inferior defensive player and a perennial loser. His stats and perception is inflated by him being the lead dog on a terrible Raptors team. Having said that, if Bosh accepts his secondary role to Dwyane, he will be ultra-effective (see what happened to Pau once he was paired with Kobe). That duo will terrorize the East for many years as long as Riley gives them a decent supporting cast of role players and specialists.

    3) Boozer to Chicago – great move for them. He was probably their third choice for a post-scorer (after Bosh and Amare) but he will give them exactly what they needed with post scoring and rebounding. If they sign a shooter, they’re a playoff team with home-court advantage in the first round next year (assuming there’s no lockout)

  29. It would be best for Miami to divide up the remaining $12-14 mil to fill the rest of the bench. Otherwise, here’s Miami’s roster with LBJ/Wade/Bosh:

    Center: Alonzo Mourning/tall Chinese dude from Rush Hour 3

    PF: Bosh (Mr. “I don’t play center”)/Ron Artest’s brother/Beasley

    SF: LBJ/Ricky Williams (yes, Mr. Puff the Magic Dragon)

    SG: DWade/the tall white volleyball player from Top Chef a few seasons ago

    PG: Chalmers (yes, the other Mr. Puff the Magic Dragon).

    Actually, they may need Riley to actually play since they’re so short-handed, forget the coaching takeover.

  30. #28. Paul,
    Is this the comment you were talking about? If so, I think it may have been held up in moderation.

    On a separate note, we can disagree here without attacking folks personally. These types of comments will be moderated. I know it can be frustrating, but let’s try to debate on the merits of an argument and not call out others in a manner that’s insulting. Thanks.

  31. the other Stephen July 7, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    i’m just itching to see how riley decides to fill out the rest of the roster. and to think that we had a huge task with filling 6 spots–try filling 9! if lebron joins up, that will be the most interesting thing to watch for the remainder of free agency.

  32. People are too quick to discount Miami, I think it’ll work. Having a legit inside presence will also help Wade’s health, and like it or not, Bosh is an all-star player who can also benefit from having a wing player the caliber of Wade.

    With LeBron there, well, it’ll be the U.S. Olympic team again, minus Kobe and some, and from what I remember, the US Team functioned okay, so I don’t buy this ‘one ball’ ‘no team’ concept.

    But what I also remember is that the US team was pretty tested by Spain (led by Pau) and it was only after a certain guy kicked it up that we won (who happens to be on the same team as the guy that led Spain).

    And the bonus to all this? Exodus east. I’m not sure if this is a conscious thing by the players, but Amare went east, Boozer went east, Bosh and Wade stayed east, and there are no western suitors for Bron. Melo may even bolt east next year, who knows.

    I may be a bit overconfident, but I think that has to do with our team, and the result will be that we’ll only have to face one of those ‘super teams’ from the East to get our threepeat. We’ll still have OKC to contend with, a team that seems to be timing its peak around the time when our window closes, but that’s it.

    So the feel I’m getting is that all of these guys are scrambling for second place, and they know it. Makes me feel much better, since I think they know more about basketball than i do ;)

  33. the more i think about the lebron ESPN circus, the more likely I think it is that he’s going to announce either that he’s staying in Cle or going to NY. I can’t see any other option being appropriate for that kind of treatment, even Miami, unless of course he’s truly insane. In fact, anything other than he’s staying in Cle will make him look like a major jackass to his biggest fans, but he may be willing to risk that for the big NYC debut. Can’t see him risking it for Chi or Mia– think that announcement would have been more understated.

  34. Ray Allen just re-signed with the Celts for 2 years and $20million dollars.

    Very interesting. Seems kinda high for a guy who had one good game in the finals and then was basically 0-fer, and is 35 years old, but hey, what do I know, I only watch the games. Expect them to get Shaq next, and Rasheed to decide not to retire.

    It will be an interesting East next year. And everybody is discounting Orlando – who is gonna have Jameer one year further removed from surgery, and an overall very deep team.

    Next season is gonna be crazy, regardly of where Bron goes.

  35. I agree with all who say Bosh isn’t as good as his reputation suggests. He’s never won jack, aside from a role on the Olympic team where he was arguably no better than the seventh-best player on the squad.

    He’s the Italy to LeBron’s Germany and Wade’s Japan in this new version of the NBA’s Axis Powers. Yeah, they’re all lumped together — but two of them have caused a helluva lot more havoc than the third, who really doesn’t even belong in the same conversation.

    I don’t see Miami winning anything until Riles can fill out the roster. If he can pull a 2007-era Ainge and make it happen over a summer, he’s better than his already well-regarded reputation suggests. But I don’t see this team winning the East next season.

  36. I didn’t want to get in the middle of LBJ speculation because it’s so fluid but…

    I just can’t see him joining Miami. We know he can be part of an ensemble cast and is very unselfish with the ball (see Team USA), so that’s not it. But his brand, and more importantly his self-image, requires him to be the man. Not just for him, but for his entourage too (that’s kind of the angle the yahoo piece takes).

    He’s not gonna do it. Cleveland or the Knicks, and the eastern conference dodges a bullet. And speaking of the east: I’ll take Boston a year older or the battle-tested Orlando magic over Wade, Bosh, and a bunch of nobody’s any day.

  37. 20) Mike,
    Just thought you would like to know that you say “If Bynum would have been healthy” and “why would you even consider trading” in the same post.

  38. 14) EJK,
    “p.s. i think your “the more stars the better” argument just explained your unbridled enthusiasm for tracy mcgrady…yikes.”

    And being the chief Fisher disser.

  39. Zephid,

    You’re leaving out one piece of the puzzle. There is actually a double turn going on right now. Kobe is going from heel from face and Lebron from face to heel.

    Lebron after 2 years of seeing Kobe win the championship and after being consumed by his own ego finally snaps and attacks Kobe in the ring with steel chair. He then turns on the fans (of cleveland) and tells this is their fault and the fault of his loser teammates. He cockily strides out of the ring putting on a team X (NYK, CHI etc) hate and giving the fans a double bird salute.

    practically writes itself

  40. Looks like LeBra is headed to Miami. I agree with #33, the West is opening up. If we can get past OKC, things look rosy while even super Miami must now contend with some better talent across the East and a lot of teams likely to be gunning for them.

  41. http://nba.fanhouse.com/2010/07/08/lebron-james-miami-dwyane-wade-chris-bosh/

    There have also been reports of LeBron flying to Miami this evening.

  42. Not as high profile a FA as LBJ perhaps, but more relevant to the Lakers situation, this from the LA Times website:

    “Free-agent guard Javaris Crittenton is not on the Lakers’ summer-league roster because he is still recovering from foot surgery.”

  43. #36/Chris J:

    Props for the Axis Powers analogy. That’s the first I’ve seen in regards to the NBA, but it totally works. :)

  44. I don’t know why I am so fascinated, but I am. If it is true and Lebron does go to Miami, then they are pretty much unguardable. What are people going to do, leave DWade to double lebron, leave Chris Bosh to Double DWade, play zone and hope they miss jumpers. Their perimeter defense is going to be bordering on the ridiculous (with Lebron and Wade on the wings). Their only weakness will be there bigs – what 7 footers are they going to get that can guard the likes of a DHoward, or a Pau/Bynum combo (or a Shaq/Duncan combo as is currently being reported). So many questions, so fascinating. Makes me want the signing to happen tomorrow, and the season to start like, Friday, just so I can watch it. Cuz the hype machine for Miami will be so big all summer it will trump anything from the rest of the league.

  45. Here is a question for yall: What is a better big 3? 2003 Kobe, T-mac, KG or 2010 Bosh Lebron Wade?

  46. Thanks for taking the time to do this mailbag feature Darius, very informative.

    Per McMenamin, the Lakers are apparently pursuing Bell (harder than we believed), and although he’s open to a deal, we’re not on his list of top 4-5 teams. For whatever that’s worth, I personally don’t care as I’m not convinced Bell has much left to offer.

    Summer league should be fun this year. Apparently Kupchak has seemed more pleased than most years. I hope our rookies make it. Dark horses, to me, are Rob Kurz and Ibrahim Jaaber; there’s some great breakdowns over at Ridiculous Upside:

    http://www.ridiculousupside.com/2010/7/7/1556226/lakers-summer-league-roster

    Great blog for people who like to play armchair GM and mine the D-League. Lets you think you know stuff with the pain of having to watch D-League basketball.

  47. Lakerfan – That’s interesting. Kobe, T-Mac, KG to me. T-Mac is probably the weakest of the bunch, but Kobe and KG are the most disciplined and focused. I take their leadership and fire over the considerable talents of Lebron and Wade. And just defensively, KG + Kobe > Wade + Lebron.

    Also, late to the party, but I think the Boozer signing is solid. It’s not great, and too many years, but I think Boozer is a better fit on Chicago than any other team (aside from probably Utah). Noah can cover his defensive deficencies, and he finally gives them that low-post scorer they’ve been searching for. And the Bulls have a rare PG who can duplicate a lot of the D-Will-Boozer 2-man game from Utah.

    My only question is the Bulls’ shooting, if they can’t sign Mike Miller. Any offensive needs spacing, and I don’t know where they get that balance from. If they get Miller? I think they’re a 4-5 seed.

  48. Warren Wee Lim July 8, 2010 at 12:24 am

    About “Team Trinity” :

    It will be VERY interesting but they will also feel how it is to be playing 42mpg on an 82-game sked.

    Your best bet is them burning out.

  49. If Lebron goes to Miami… wow…

    I thought last season was exciting…

    Hmm so matchups:

    Kobe-Wade
    Artest-Lebron
    Pau-Bosh

    Hope our other guys have matchup advantages! Obviously our chemistry/experience will come into play as well.

  50. thisisweaksauce July 8, 2010 at 12:34 am

    Can we do a season review on Kobe?

  51. Even if LeBron goes to Miami, they’ll have a hard time beating Boston and Orlando in a 7-game series unless they fill the other spots, and judging from how many games we lost thanks to our bench, Miami will need some time to get something going.

    But honestly, I think that’s a trio really worth assembling just to see what it would be like. All not-quite-in-their-prime, all of the same draft class, all Olympians… wow, at least our Olympic team will be more cohesive the next time around!

    And…

    Just to have Kobe, Pau, Artest, Lamar and Bynum beat them up in the finals would be worth sooooooooo many puppets.

    And many puppets there will be!

  52. Oh and, if “the Decision” is to leave Cleveland, where will that rank in their sports infamy?

    The Play, The Shot, The Fumble? I don’t know any of them other than perhaps the shot, but will “The Decision” be included there?

  53. So, if Miami lands LBJ they are the best slasher team ever and an average front court-perimeter team.
    It would certainly make things interesting. But I belive the Lakers could more-less defend ‘em and the frontcourt advantage would be to much for Miami.

  54. 24 yrs old, 09-10 Washington, 26 games avg. 25.6 min 0.53% FG, .875 FT, 4.5 assist v. 1.92 TO, 9.2 ppg:
    Shaun Livingston. It’s a small sample size, 3+ years after that horrific accident but if he’ll take project money, I want him on the Lakers.

    Does anyone know Patrick O’Bryant’s pro history/game thus far?

    Late season press on D. Wright was indicating that his game was finally starting to come together so I’m succumbing to the Dude’s siren however the way the early free agent signings are going, it seems veterans are coming at a premium. Maybe things will calm down after LeCircus’ Variety Hour ends.

  55. First and for most lets sign fish asap 2 years 8 mil. then since its looking like were probably going to lose brown to FA as well why not sign AI or TMac for the vet min. have one of them as kobe’s back up bring powell back and go out and sign a backup Center for cheap.
    Kruz, O’Bryant, Shaq ( Last option), ext….. that way our roster will be upgraded in a sence and ready to make a run at this 3peat, but also look something like this…..
    Pg. Fish/ Blake
    Sg. Bryant/ AI or Tmac/ Vujacic
    Sf. Artest/ Ebanks/ Walton
    Pf. Gasol/ Odom/ Powell/ Caracter
    C. Bynum/ ????

  56. Regarding the use of advanced stats: I always say that Phil is less interested in adjusted plus-minus or statistical plus-minus and more interested in spiritual plus-minus. No better example of that than the Fisher-Farmar example you gave in the post.

    LeBron/Wade/Bosh would set all kinds of Free Throw Attempt records, they were 2nd/4th/6th respectively in FTA per game last season.

    Also, which team would be better prepared for a Wade/James combo than the Lakers? Two top wing defenders that we can play together without losing offensive punch as well as the inside presence of Pau/Bynum. Maybe Houston with Ariza/Battier and a healthy Yao backing them up.

  57. good article by simmons on lebron. he says going to Miami is a choice of “help” and I agree. Im still not convinced hes going to Miami throughout his career he has been a brand, wanted to be the first billionaire athlete and so on. If he goes to miami it will always be Wade’s team and even if they win titles having to share the spotlight will hurt his legacy and brand. Makes more sense to go to Chicago or New York to me

  58. Worth mentioning that LeBron and Wade have already played 3 full summers together (’04 Olympics, ’06 World Championships, ’08 Olympics), and have proven that they can play together just fine.

    Also, Bosh put up 24 & 11 this year on .518 from the field and .797 from the line. The guy is a stud and would make one heck of a third option.

    Add Chalmers and Haslem for D and hustle, and that’s one formidable lineup.

    Having said that, they would have no 3-point shooting and no post game to speak of, so they would still have some serious flaws that we could exploit.

  59. If Lebron ends up in Miami I’m not sure I would want to watch any Miami games. All those games would last about 4 hours because of the 50FTA taken by Miami per game. It would be rather boring to watch.

  60. mikeinchitown July 8, 2010 at 8:34 am

    1. LBJ to NYC. Eddy Curry’s expiring $11MM gives them Parker? LBJ + Amare (who I am admittedly not a big fan of) + Parker > MIA. Plus, better 3pt shooting from Gallinari + Douglas. Oh, and LBJ single-handedly (he will get allll the credit) raises NYC up. Ego satisfied.

    2. I think our trump card in a MIA Triumvrate scenario is Bynum. Since Wade-Kobe, LBJ-Artest, Bosh-Pau, they have no answer for Bynum, much less Odom. This is where our depth > 90% of teams in the league. And as for the West, UTA/PHX looks depleted, DEN looking questionable and DAL has not made any moves to get better. OKC, like this year, should be our stiffest challenge but think they suffer in anguish for a few more years (like Jordannaires before they broke through the Eastern Conf.) And HOU remains a dark horse if Yao can come back all the way so I think Lakers are guaranteed a spot in the Finals for a fourth straight year.

  61. This is true: Last night I dreamed that LeBron announced he was going to the Celtics, and I was upset.

    Then when I woke up, I was twice as upset that my subconscious was wasting valuable dream time on that.

    No more ESPN before bed.

  62. 40, oooh I like the double turn idea.

    Kobe turns into the anti-hero face, much like Stone Cold in the late 90’s, with fans cheering him despite how despicable he may act, while Lebron becomes Hulk Hogan when he joins the nWo, becoming the leader of a stable of villains.

    This could either be the most sadistically entertaining night in NBA history (Lebron tells Cleveland to suck it, collectively), or one of its most anticlimactic (Lebron goes tamely back to Cleveland). I’m seriously pulling for the former, sheerly for the entertainment value (and all the shit I took for being a Laker fan when I went to Cavs-Lakers in January).

  63. Wow. Bill Simmons has turned on Lebron. That is not something I ever thought would happen….

    Crazy.

  64. My question becomes this: who is now the most liked Superstar in the NBA if Lebron goes to Miami? Its not any of the Tri-umvirate, because outside of Miami everyone will hate them. Its not Kobe – as much as I like the guy he has way too many haters. So who are we left with. Steve Nash? Again… Dwight Howard, a superstar center who can be defended 1 on 1? Chris Paul? love the guy buy is a speedy point guard with leg injuries, and I think he has been pretty much overlooked in the Deron Williams/Rondo hoopla.

    My bet goes to Kevin Durant – my favorite player not in a Laker uniform. This league may turn into Durant v. Lebron, good vs. evil, and nobody is going to dislike him. What a day for him. OKC fans must be salivating, and I am jealous.

  65. Any Laker repercussions to the salary cap being higher than most people thought (besides Buss’s bottom line looking a little better)?

  66. @needle

    The most “major” repercussion with the higher salary cap is actually the higher luxury tax threshold which went up from $69.9M to now $70.3M. That saves Dr. Buss an extra $400K, nothing huge but at least the threshold didn’t go down to $68M like many predicted and budgeted.

  67. i can’t believe nj gave travis outlaw 5yr/$35M.

    this one has avery johnson’s fingerprints all over it. he loves isolation plays, and outlaw is an isolation guy.

  68. Lebron is playing with fire. If he goes to the Heat and loses in the finals to Kobe, then what?

    Also, I bet Cleveland makes the playoffs even without LeBron. Cleveland has some players who can play defense, which is more than can be said about the players that Kobe had to play with before Pau.

    Three of the starters were Smush, Kwame, & Luke. Two aren’t playing anymore and the other gets minimal playing time.

    No player wins 61 with a shell of a team. This is the mythology that has been placed around MJ and LBJ. The whole argument has been that Kobe is not that great because he can’t win with a shell of a team, but MJ and LBj could. These myths will be laid aside next year. The Heat don’t win a championship and the Cavs go further than people think.

  69. Pat,
    You’ve been listening to the ‘talking heads’ too much.

    Media loves building up stars almost as much as tearing them down after they have built them up. This is the traditional soap opera formula for about the last 50-60 years. Why listen?

  70. Colin Cowherd of ESPN is reporting a rumored trade of Sasha and Luke for Hedo Turkoglu…

  71. swedishmeatballs July 8, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    @T34

    What? Link please ?

  72. It was on his radio show, which can be streamed here I believe…

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espnradio/show?showId=theherd

  73. I’m home sick from work today, which sucks, but it is giving me lots of time to read all the sports coverage of the NBA Free Agent Reality-TV show… and it’s entertaining me. Seeing all this bile and vitriol spewed over the man who used to be the young god of all sports media, lauded and praised every time he touched a basketball no matter what he did with it, cheers me up. :)

    I can’t say I’m surprised either. When a man schedules a full hour on ESPN prime time to talk about and promote yourself, less than months after the worst play-off performance of his career, he invites open mockery and he deserves it. This whole charade is a text-book list of how to do everything wrong from a PR standpoint.

    Every new column I read reminds me of how much I appreciate that our own super-star has his priorities in order. He wants to win games and he wants to win rings, and doesn’t waste time and energy on “promoting his brand”.

    (That’s by the way one of the reasons the Thunder are going to become a very scary team going forward: Kevin Durant has the same priorities, and that team goes where he leads them. Durant will win rings too, it’s just a matter of time.)

  74. We’re continuing our player reviews and Jeff has put up his post on the Machine.

    http://www.forumblueandgold.com/2010/07/08/2009-10-player-review-sasha-vujacic/

  75. I hope LeBron does team up w/ Bosh & Wade. Reminds me of when Chamberlain teamed up with West & Baylor on the Lakers in an attempt to dethrone the Celtic dynasty of the late ’60’s. Problem is they failed, just like Miami will this upcoming season.

    One thing I do know: if LeBron, Wade & Bosh are on the same team, then the primetime Christmas game on ABC will be the Bak2Bak World Champion L. A. Lakers vs. the traveling All Stars of the Miami Heat in L. A. Couldn’t be scripted any better.

  76. Wow, checked out the Kurz link @47, he has some ability. Good bench guy. May be intriguing to watch him, Green, Jabber during the summer league.

  77. It’s funny, its sharp, it’s clever, and when it wants too will tug on your heart strings. It’s everything a great family film should be

  78. exhelodrvr, Point taken, but Bynum’s injuries have been more of the wrong place at the wrong time, rather than chronic like Yao’s foot. Bynum is a legitimate 7 feet and 285, has a soft touch, great footwork, and is a defensive force. Bosh is a very good player, but he’s soft on defense and I’ll bet if Lamar Odom was on the Raptors as their best player and focal point, his numbers would be comparable for half the salary. Just sayin.

  79. “Greatest basketball trio ever”?

    Even granting these fools another 5-8 years of their prime:

    Is Wade’s resume going to eclipse Worthy’s? Might get close…but he’s got some work to do.

    Pretty hard to picture LeBron catching up to Magic’s body of work.

    That leaves Bosh vs. Kareem. Uhh….