With Fisher Back In The Fold, What’s Next?

Darius Soriano —  July 13, 2010

Los Angeles Lakers' Derek Fisher (L) and teammate Pau Gasol celebrate in the second quarter of their game against the Boston Celtics during Game 6 of the 2010 NBA Finals basketball series in Los Angeles, California, June 15, 2010 .   REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

To be honest, I was never really concerned with Derek Fisher leaving the Lakers.  The Lakers were the team that could offer him the best situation – the most money (if needed), the leadership role, the offense that maximizes his skill set, and the coaches/teammates that he was comfortable interacting with.  Really, no other team could combine all of these factors and even if the Lakers played hard ball with his salary “demands”, the other factors were sure to provide a pull that other teams just couldn’t match.  Plus, Fisher’s relationship with that Kobe guy is pretty strong and in the end it was that relationship that tipped the scales in the Lakers’ favor.

We all know what Fisher provides so I won’t explore that too much here.  And though I will say that while Fisher is clearly on the decline, he’s still the exact type of player this specific Lakers team needs.  His ability to play crunch time minutes and hit big shots in the clutch is second to only Kobe Bryant on this team.  And when you look around the league, there may be other superstar caliber players you’d want with the ball and taking that last second jumper, but I struggle to find another role player that I’d prefer to have taking that big shot to tie or win the game.  The trust that his teammates have in him is second to none and his ability to say the right thing to inspire his mates is alone worth the salary the Lakers will pay him over the next three seasons.

And while we can go back and forth on whether or not a three year contract is the most prudent deal for a player that will soon see his 36th birthday, understand that his deal will essentially keep this Lakers championship core together for extended runs with Kobe, Pau, Bynum, Artest, and Odom.  The Lakers will have their core 6 players for at least next season and the one beyond that and locking up one of the key leaders for that stretch was imperative.  And while the contract details are not official, if the deal is in the 3 year/$10.5 mil as has been reported (with the 3rd year being a player option), I think that’s a fair contract for what Derek provides to this team.  Sure it’s a step up from the reported $2.5 million that was originally offered, but it’s not so far above that it can’t be explained by PG still being a position of need and the fact that the Lakers are retaining a player that hasn’t missed a game in 5 seasons while providing some discernible skills and a bunch of intangibles that have directly helped this team succeed to the level that it has in the past three seasons.

But now that Derek is back in the fold, what is next for the Lakers?  The team now has 9 players under contract (Fisher, Kobe, Artest, Gasol, Bynum, Odom, Blake, Sasha, and Walton) and has two rookies that are performing well in the Vegas Summer League (more on them in a future post).  If both the rookies make the final roster after training camp – which is looking more and more likely by the day – then the Lakers have to add at least two more players to reach the mandated league minimum of 13.  As we mentioned this morning, Kobe will meet with Raja Bell tomorrow in hopes of convincing him of joining the Lakers as a reserve wing player.  Many have mixed views of adding Bell, but I’m not one of those people.  While Bell is older, he’s a defensive player that is a very good three point shooter.  He’s tough minded, has the experience of making deep playoff runs, and is has the skill set to play SG and SF for the Lakers and could even play some PG in a pinch.  Plus, I think it’s key to note that Bell didn’t play many games last season (6 total) and that means he’s essentially a year younger (in basketball years) than his age.  He did not take a pounding last season and missed games not due to a leg injury, but to his non-shooting wrist.  I’m quite confident that he can return to the form he showed two seasons ago where he averaged over double digit points, shot over 40% from 3 point range, and still played quality defense.

I know that many are looking for a “slashing” wing that can play off the ball in a manner that exploits the attention that the Lakers’ marquee players demand.  However, the Triangle offense is one predicated off spacing combined with movement off the ball.  This means that having a better shooter on the floor allows for Pau/Kobe/Bynum to have more space to operate while also allowing all the off-ball movement to flow better because defenses are forced to play tighter on the perimeter.  So, guys like Odom, Bell (potentially), Artest, Sasha, etc will be able to move off the ball more freely and still be able to cut off the ball to good results.  Slashing doesn’t have to be the strength of someone’s game for them to still take advantage of the extra room generated by dominant players that demand double teams combined with strong shooters on the wing.  This is why, I’m more lukewarm on Matt Barnes (though I think he too would be a solid addition) because even though he is a player that moves well off the ball, his career 3 point % is over 8 points lower than Bell’s (Barnes – 32.9%, Bell – 41.1%).  The extra spacing that Bell provides helps the offense more overall than the better slashing and ability to finish at the rim than Barnes.  Defensively, Barnes can guard bigger players as he’s a natural SF that can effectively guard perimeter PF’s like Rashard Lewis or Dirk.  But Bell is just as versatile as a defensive player as he can guard SG’s and SF’s and can even be used on some PG’s (Andre Miller types, for example).

So if Bell or Barnes is signed (or if Shannon is retained) the only position left is a back up big man that can play PF or C (or preferably, both).  As for names available, that list primarily looks the same as it did at the start of free agency – at least in the price range the Lakers can pay.  Kurt Thomas, Rasho Nesterovich, Joe Smith or the familiar faces of Powell or Mbenga are still out there.  Any of these guys would be solid pick-ups (with Thomas likely representing the best option) and I’m sure the Lakers are working the phones behind the scenes now that Fisher is locked up.  The roster is now rounding into shape and for a team that just came off winning its second consecutive title, I think things are coming together quite nicely and I have no complaints with the direction that the team has moved in.  Remember, every  team is trying to catch up to the Lakers and so far this off-season the team that holds the crown has actually gotten better.  I know that Miami and Chicago can say the same but how many other teams can?  And while it’s difficult to be satisfied with the off-season always offering the next enticing option, things are progressing nicely, Lakers fans.

Lastly, I leave you with the latest video from LD2K, who has once again put together a great piece – this time on the man that decided to come back and go for 6.

Darius Soriano

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103 responses to With Fisher Back In The Fold, What’s Next?

  1. It’s hilarious how the Three Me-Egos consciously make sure that DWade is always in the center. I’m sure they have a PR person monitoring “centering” issues between the three 24/7.

    I have a question. Say Ebanks and Caracter actually pan out to be more than taco time players. Can the Lakers sign them for a contract over the cap or are we restricted to using the MLE, etc.? I have a feeling that Ebanks in particular may be a long-term keeper, and I do like Caracter.

    That being said, we will absolutely need a big. At this point, I’d take size (Rasho, Kwame) over Kurt Thomas. Love Thomas’ hustle/saavy, but he’s simply too small. But if we do sign him for the vet’s minimum, I won’t cry.

    I guess Critt is out of the picture since his foot is busted. It looks like the final chunk of the MLE will be used for a Bell/maybe Shannon move. But I love Mitch’s move this summer. I give him an A given the circumstances.

  2. Anyone by Kwame. Please… anyone but Kwame!

  3. 1- That’s Wade’s team, ofcourse he’ll always be in the middle.

    Love the video.. Derek truly has the heart of a champ. Very glad to see him back. I imagine the last year of his contract he will be in a player-coach role.

    Miami is growing scarier by the day, given Riley’s ability to recruit complimentary role players. I’d say that championship pedigree is missing, but they’ve got Wade who has proven he’s a champ already. This team is for real, thinking otherwise is foolish.

  4. I saw J. Stackhouse on NBATV the other day talking about wanting to play in the league. If Brown, Barnes or Bell cant be signed he could be a cheap option at guard . He can still score in limited minutes, had decent stats in Milwaukee last year.
    The type of players LA has money for are not all stars, so to pick them apart like lab frogs on their shortcomings is redundant. LA just needs two role players looking for a ring, hopefully able to dribble and walk at the same time. Peoples expectations are way too high this late in the rodeo. Any player that LA signs from here on out will be like the last kid picked for the team, not expecting much but if they do contribute on a consistent basis its a plus.

  5. ReignOnParades July 13, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    Caracter, if we’re putting him down as a PF, is pretty much going to replace J.P. and I guess ends any chance of Tony Gaffney getting another look

    Personally I’m ready for more Bangin’ with Mbenga. I always preferred him over J.P. to be honest, and if I have to have one low-skilled big chuck mid range jumpers I want the bigger, more bangin’ guy

  6. ClassyDude2000 July 13, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    The Lakers should sign T-Mac..Kobe needs someone comimg off the bench to spell him when he goes out for rest.

  7. ReignOnParades July 13, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    http://sports.espn.go.com/new-york/nba/news/story?id=5376537

    It feels like we’re going to commit as much money to Blake/Bell as the Nets will Farmar/Morrow.

    It’s obvious why they went young and we went with vets but man, I kind of wish we went half/half with something like Blake/Morrow on the bench.

  8. Blake + Morrow is more than the MLE. I don’t see how we could have gotten both.

  9. Reply to DY

    I have a question. Say Ebanks and Caracter actually pan out to be more than taco time players. Can the Lakers sign them for a contract over the cap or are we restricted to using the MLE, etc.? I have a feeling that Ebanks in particular may be a long-term keeper, and I do like Caracter.

    Signing the rookies does not impact the MLE. We can offer them Rookie Minimum contracts. We can actually add another non-roster player for the Vet Minimum (McGrady). Just remember every time the lakers add a player, Jerry Buss has to write 2 checks. One to the player, and the other to POORER teams in the league.

  10. Bell seems like a good sign, now we have two guards who can and will elbowh/clothesline people, in addition to Kobe who will do that occasionally as well. There’s also this Ron guy who can wrestle… so I think softness will be something I’ll hear about this season.

    I know I will, but still ;)

    As for Miami, well, they’ve signed Z now. I’m still not sure how their team defense will look because that’s about playing together, but if they can stop wing players with LeBron and Wade, i don’t think it presenting much of a problem

    Zone defenses will probably be busted using Miller, Z can probably hold his own for a bit, Bosh can certainly provide length, and Chalmers just has to bring the ball up and get the hell out of the way.

    If Boston stays healthy, I still think they can frustrate this team, but not sure if Allen can defend Wade like he did Kobe…

  11. Miller is said to be insisting that he does not yet have a final agreement to sign with Miami.

    Teams are reportedly pressuring Mike Miller to reconsider signing with the Heat as a free agent.

  12. The Wizards have been having a look at Adam Morrison and last I remember they still had cap space (???). Say they offer Morrison $3 million per. Is it possible for us to do a sign-and-trade of Ammo in exchange for a $3 mill trade exception and then use that to offer a little more money to Bell or another free agent if their team agrees to a sign-and-trade?

  13. Lakers better keep Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar. If not, I turn in my fan card. Walton is as useless as salt water on the ocean. Likewise, so is Powell, Mbenga and I’ll always hate “softy” Gasol. Can’t even bend over to scramble for the ball.

    And who was the village idiot that signed Morrison!!

    Flash: CAVs will knock HEAT off during Playoff! Bet!

  14. I think #13 is a joke. Has to be, right? I’m treating it as a joke even if it’s not.

  15. 12. There’s no reason for the Wiz to do that if they have cap space and can sign him outright.

  16. 15, unless we give them a draft pick.

  17. With all do Respect Darius, I would have to Disagree with your Assessment that so far this off-season we’ve gotten better. Please explain how. As of this very moment, we’ve attained Blake, but @ the cost of losing Shannon & Farmar. Now I’m not the biggest proponent of the latter two (too many bad shots & over-dribbling), but one must admit that they’ve each contributed dearly to our Back 2 Back ‘Chips and gave our Roster a dose of Youthfulness & Athleticism that we now currently lack. Does the Acquisition of Blake (who I am fond of) adequately replace the two? Also, who is our 4th big? Last season we had 2 individuals who could take on that role in Josh & DJ. Granted, they didn’t give us much (which I’ve written ’bout on several occasions) but @ least we had ‘em. We didn’t get Anything from Luke last yr and from what I’m hearing, it looks as if we can’t expect anything from him this upcoming season. The Rooks look Promising, but in all Honesty, can we really count on either to contribute in the ’10/’11 season (especially with so much on the Line). Remember, we’re talking ’bout right now/as the Roster currently stands. Pls detail how You feel that we’ve Improved so far this off season.

  18. Arash Attarian July 13, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    I’d like to see the lakers consider Brad Miller, Matt Barnes, or Jerry Stackhouse.

  19. mikeinchitown July 13, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    Big if, but if the Wiz S&T works, couldn’t the Lakers offer Miller a decent deal (in the scenario above, $3 for AMMO’s expiring + $1.5 or so left over MLE). Heard Miller has not yet fully committed to the Heat?

    Or in hindsight, could have offered it to Morrow!

  20. 18, can’t combine exceptions.

  21. some food for thought. what moves we make here should take into account that we might face miami in the final. what worries me, is not defense but on offense, when game is tight, inbounding the bball, advancing bball under pressure is absolutely critical. think for moment, wade+james pressing our wings. i’m willing to bet, if we don’t have a quick wing/guard who can get the ball to create shot under duress, we’ll be in trouble. just rememer how stockton fared against pippen in the 90s. i think riley is trying to land another big wing. bottom line is, miami’s athleticism really worries me. just for sake of comparison: wade on blake/fisher, james on kobe, miller on artest. just saying…

  22. No kidding 13 has to be a joke. Or never paid attention the last few years.

    Jamaal Magloire would be a great pickup for a backup big man.

    Love Caracter and Ebanks, and I believe they will be solid in a few years when Kobe, Pau etc are at the end of their contracts. They have growing to do but have a great foundation and skill set.

  23. I’m torn between Bell and Brown… Bell will be more or less a better version of Sasha (spot up shooter, pesky defender). On the other hand, Brown gives Phil a different kind of back up guard, more of a slashing, athletic energy player. Can we just get Brown and Bell then dump Sasha in the Pacific ocean? haha

    As for the back-up big, if the Lakers were to sign Caracter, then that’s Josh’s spot. So it will be a center that they will need. I’m still for re-signing Mbenga. Turiaf is a PF and falls in the category of Caracter and Powell. I’d pick Mbenga over Nesterovic, Kwame, but it would be a toss up between Kurt Thomas and Mbenga. But wouldn’t Thomas cost more for the vets minimum than DJ?

  24. #17. Tra,
    The key to me is Blake. He’s not a spectacular player by any means, but he’s the linchpin that can organize our offense for the minutes when Fisher isn’t on the floor. I too was appreciative of the contributions and change of pace that Farmar and Brown provided. I think they were able to use their athleticism and speed to affect the game that no other Lakers could. That said, their inconsistency in running the Triangle – while sometimes leading to spectacular plays and strong runs – often led to offensive droughts where the team either forfeited leads or fell behind.

    Put another way, the strength of the Lakers (outside of Kobe) are the big men. Two of Bynum/Pau/Odom were on the court nearly all the time (save for when injury or foul trouble intervened). However, the back up guards (specifically Farmar and Brown) were the players that often looked for their own offense before using the bigs. This meant that a major strength of the team went underutilized in most games for stretches when Brown/Farmar were on the court together. I think Blake changes that by shifting the focus back to the bigs by competently running the offense. This is where Sasha comes into play as well. While he was no more a consistent player than any of the other back up guards, he was a player that looked to run the sets and of all three back up guards was probably the best defensive player (though Shannon was a good defender getting blocks on the weakside and in transition). So, I think a back court of Blake/Sasha (or Bell) could be a net gain even if their natural talent/ability/athleticism isn’t as high as Farmar/Brown. I think we’ll have a situation where the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts.

    In my post on saying goodbye to Farmar, this was my biggest beef with his time here. If he would have embraced his role and focused his talent into playing the style that maximized his usefulness in the Lakers’ system, I would say that your points about what the Lakers have lost mean more. However, considering what I expect from the players that will take Farmar/Brown’s place, I think the Lakers will end up being better. (On a side note, I don’t want to tear down Brown here. I think he tried to fit in but his questionable post entry passing limited his options in the offense. I think he too often found himself working with the ball when he would be better working off of it. I’d welcome Shannon back because I think if he was paired with Sasha or Blake more than Farmar he’d likely end up being a better player.)

    As for the big men, I agree that Powell/Mbenga were professional guys and they’ve yet to be replaced. However, they rarely played and I could envision Caracter or a FA big that’s yet to be signed stepping in and playing some minutes at the PF/C spot for a few minutes every week (which is what would be needed, really). So, in the end I think the Lakers are better. Not from a talent stand point per se but from an execution standpoint, for sure. And since the Lakers run a system where nuance/execution matter just as much (and probably more) than physical dominance, I think the Lakers are better off.

  25. Also, Big Z as the starting center for the Heat? Seriously, Bosh is not a low post threat and defender. so who will man the post for them? Wade? Lebron? Haslem and miller will spread the floor… for who?! they will all be in the perimeter? with the team they are putting up, it will be Cleveland 2.0… best record in the regular season, but would get beat up by the more physical and grind it out teams in the playoffs

  26. Just because somebody is athletic doesn’t mean that they can ‘create’ when facing a suffocating defense where ‘lesser athletes’ fail.

    By being athletic, you have a definite edge in the transition game, but being able to slash and create is something that requires far more than athleticism and is something that you won’t find at the minimum range. Even Ariza showed his limits when he was Houston’s No.1 option, where you could see that he could slash, but not create.

  27. Darius, I’ve got to say that Dallas has improved their team significantly this offseason for several reasons IMO. My first is the addition of Tyson Chandler, I know the guy is injury prone but he is definitely an upgrade over Dampier (who could never finish underneath the rim and was significantly overpaid). Also having more time for Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood to gel with the starters also makes them much better as a team. Factor in Dominique Jones and R. Beaubois being youthful talented players I think they have a real chance at being the 2nd best team in the West along with the Thunder and maybe the Rockets (depending upon how Yao bounces back from his injury). And also if Marc Stein is correct in his reporting Al Harrington could be joining the Mavericks for the MLE so they will have some real talent to throw at the Lakers.

  28. #27. I agree with your points on the Mavs. I also think the Spurs adding Splitter was a fantastic get (and one they’ve been waiting on) and losing Jefferson was probably addition by subtraction due to the payroll issues they face. However, both those teams were clearly a step behind the Lakers last season and since I believe the Lakers improved too, I’m not sure if they’re any closer than they were last season.

  29. I would LOVE to see Kobe at point guard and Raja Bell at shooting guard.

    Wow!

    What a big, physical, backcourt duo – with two players who play very very tough defense.

    That would be a match up nightmare for every team, particularly if the Lakers play with their BIGS.

    They would match up fabulously with whatever Miami throws at them. Raja can play Wade, for example, leaving Kobe to freelance with the others in a trapping defense.

  30. #24,

    Steve Blake is still an incredibly inefficient perimeter player. Perhaps his value is in the “intangibles” just like ole man Fisher, lol.

    Here are blake’s numbers from last year:
    3ptFG%: 39.5% (good)
    FT%: 75% (bad for a PG)
    FG%: 41.6% (atrocious)
    eFG%: 52.7% (bad)

    and the total efficiency number:

    TS%: 53.9% (just horrible)

    And this contract that we handed out to Fisher, if right, is just bad. No doubt about it. Our PG rotation this year will be even WORSE than the one last year. Yes, i’d much rather have Farmar/Brown/Fisher than Fisher/Blake. There is only so much bad you can handle at one position like PG. I mean, eventually it really starts to weigh down the performance of the rest of the positions. Unfortunately, i think that we have reached that point. Fisher has a few good games (albeit important games) and everyone forgets about how horrible of a player he is. This will unfortunately come back to bite the Lakers big time.

    Especially since “clutchness” is more luck than anything else. I can admit to “clutchness” being the ability to stay calm under pressure, but don’t you think that players want shots to go in during the regular season too? Which would mean that clutchness is the ability to maintain your playing level despite the circumstances. Fish maintaining his regular season ability during important moments is nothing to write home about. Other players perhaps dip during this important moments. Fisher stays constant while others may dip is believable.

  31. donnie nelson has never built a team greater than the sum of its parts. they spend money and add talent, but have these moves ever enhanced the team in a real and meaningful way? Nope.

    The players they’ve added/will add aren’t the kind that Dirk can make better. They need centers who don’t clog the lane, and wingmen who can slash. They’ve drafted well with Beaubois and DoJo, but Haywood and Chandler clog the lane. This season will be another failed experiment.

  32. blake, ebanks, caracter, and a bell or barnes pickup, kobes finger heals, maybe walton finally healthy. We lose farmar, brown, jp. I think its an upgrade.

  33. James makes a good point. Bell would give us great matchup options with the Heat. Ever since the news got out they’re signing Miller, I’ve been concerned about the lineup they’d likely throw out. Wade can easily guard Blake but the matchup gives us issues on the other end. But with Bell, we do have that option of matching their lineup, if Phil wants to. Lineup flexibility is key.

    On the flip side, replacing Farmar/Brown with Bell/Blake removes that 1-on-1 scoring ability, the ability to create a shot if necessary. They frustrated us, but they also had moments where they really saved our necks by giving us that unpredictable scoring ability. But with a greater commitment to our system (that I think will be easier to come by with them gone), we should be able to replace that unpredictability (good and bad) with more stability and results.

  34. kaveh: most of blake’s attempts are 3s. that’s why his overall fg% is low. 60% of his shot attempts are from deep.

    as for his eFG%, there aren’t many point guards with a higher percentage. who do you want? Steve Nash?

    Kobe’s TS% was 54%, for crying out loud. And that’s factoring his hundreds of FTAs. Just horrible!

  35. Point understood Darius. I just happen to feel that, as of right now, we’re not worse, but we’re @ the same level. Hopefully, Sasha will be given every opportunity to Contribute this season. I’ve been a huge supporter of his ever since he made some critical 4th quarter shots a few yrs back @ Utah (if my Memory serves correct) in a game in which Kobe did not suit up. I felt that he was under utilized last season, considerin’ the fact that he’s arguably our best perimeter shooter and a Good/Pesky defender. He also has good size (6’7″) & obviously is Not Afraid of the Big Moments. Which leads to the question, once we sign that wing (Bell/Barnes/Hughs) which we’re coveting, what happens with ‘The Machine’ ? Will he be relegated to ‘We want Tacos’ time or will his expiring Contract be used as trade bait?

  36. Riley’s always been a huge proponent of rebounding. It wins championships. Bosh, Wade and LeBron are all perimeter guys, as is Z. If Miller lands there, that’s one more outside guy.

    U.H. can’t be the Heat’s version of Rodman grabbing 18 boards a night. Unless they get that lockdown, rebound first kind of guy, I really question what they can do against a healthy Boston or Orlando team.

    Utah made a good move landing Jeffferson, who’s the first legit low-post player they’ve had in ages. Still don’t see them beating L.A., but that was a good move to get a guy for nothing but picks.

    I like Shannon over Raja, if only for the youth factor. A healthy Bell would fit well, but I’m reluctant about guys who’ve crossed 30 and are coming off season-ending injuries.

  37. Snoopy – excellent point; and just to expand on what you said, our hope is that we hope to counter that with more offense run through our bigs (who become even bigger advantages with the second unit), and those are guys that can replace Farmar’s and Brown’s shot-making with far more efficiency. So all in all, we should be fine in theory.

  38. A 53% true shooting percentage is not bad at all. Especially for a guard.

  39. Championships are won in the gym, and the Mamba needs a fresh dance partner.

    after we get Raja, I want Joe Smith. Not seven foot but dude can still maneuver in the post, he’s bloody reliable, and he wants his ring.

    I loved cheering for Mbenga, but he gets dunked on too much, but maybe he can judo chop LBJ in the face if Phil lets them goon it up this year, assuming we get him back for cheap.

  40. I live in ny, and so the steinbrenner story has been non-stop 24/7. George was a colorful guy and a winner, without a doubt. He was also a blowhard and a major league asshole.

    How refreshing to see another owner even MORE
    successful than George, (10 titles to 7) do it with grace and class. Thank you Dr. Buss.

  41. I think we have to stop worrying about Miami. Not because I don’t think they are going to be Very Very good, but I think that it is underestimating our Western Conference competition next year. We have no idea what trades will happen, or what guys have breakout years, to determine we have a walk to a chip. OKC is going to be very good (Westbrook and Durant just 1 year better), Dallas is going to be better, Utah is arguably going to be just as competitive if they get a big, New Orleans will be better and with our absolute greatest weakness (2 lightning fast PGs), Houston can be beastly with Yao Ming back, and Portland can be better if Roy is healthy as well (and we all know they matchup very well against us). Denver will probably have their coach for the whole year, and Ty Lawson will just be 1 year better and Carmelo will just be 1 year better. And we never know what kind of Voodoo magic the Popovich fella is going to create next year, or how good their 7-footer splitter will be and how much Dejuan Blair can and will improve. We have advantages and disadvantages right now against a lot of teams in the West, and I think it would be foolish to overlook them and expect to see Miami next year in the Finals. Remember, that would mean FOUR STRAIGHT finals appearances for this group, which is no easy task, and one that is going to take one step at a time.

    Also, the Heat have to get out of the East – and while it looks like Orlando is going to be their biggest threat, come May it will be about which teams are rolling and which teams have matchup advantages. Can the Heat stay healthy enough with tons of Old guys in their lineup like Big Z and Juwan Howard. Will Mike MIller be able to stay on the floor. And even more importantly, what will happen if Wade gets hurt again (its not like it hasn’t happened before), or Lebron for that matter, and the team becomes MUCH less scary. Bosh is very good – as a third option. Is he as good as a second option, when he will have to play most of the paint minutes (Z is a stretch big) and matchup with most of the Monsters (DHoward, Bynum, etc.) all year? And if Bosh gets hurt, will they have any full time serviceable bigs on that team to even match a slightly rejuvenated KG, or a Howard, or anything like that.

    To win a chip you don’t gear up for 1 team – a la the Cavs last year for Orlando – because that leaves you unprepared when you need to face other teams on your quest – Boston last year for the Cavs, and Boston last year for Orlando – just matchup problems all over the place for the Cavs and Orlando.
    Last year Artest was an upgrade because he gave us more versatility vs. the Durant/Carmelo/Pierce/ and dare I say the Lebron types. So it wasn’t gearing up for 1 team but preparing for 4 monsters on 4 different teams. And we faced 2 of them in the Playoffs, so it paid off.

    What the Lakers really need – in a quest for the threepeat – is a guy who is absolutely going to bring it every night (outside of maybe Kobe), like Artest last year. A guy who has a fire inside him to absolutely need that ring. Otherwise, outside from a few games in the season, expect to see some inconsistent Laker ball. Remember in 2002, its not like we were exactly running over the League, and we certainly didn’t just run over the League last year either.

    It is going to be strange though – the Lakers have won the last two championships, and they Won’t be the team with the biggest target on their back. What an odd feeling.

  42. changed roster spots:

    1. Blake for Farmar= upgrade
    2. ? for Shannon= ? (upgrade if Raja Bell)
    3. Ebanks for Ammo = upgrade or same (can’t contribute less then nothing)
    4. Caracter for Powell = we’ll see (i’m betting upgrade)
    5. ? for Mbenga = ?

    Unless we end up replacing Shannon and Mbenga with truly useless dudes who become big distractions, then i’m betting our bench will be MUCH better then last year.

  43. According to Marc J. Spears, several league sources are reporting that Al Harrington has rebuffed the Mavs and will be signing on with the Nuggets.

  44. Al Harrington doesn’t have enough discipline to play with the Mavs. That’s why I think he wants to play with the tattoo’d guys on the Nuggets.

    If the Lakers get Raja Bell, they can play highly physical, tall, huge, defensive basketball at all five positions – with Kobe and Raja as the guards, Ron Artest and Pau Gasol at Forwards and Bynum at Center. They can match up very well against Lebron, Wade, Bosh and any two others on the Miami team. On offense, they present huge matchup problems for Miami as well. Raj, Ron and Kobe would completely spread the floor with their 3 point shooting. This would make the triangle lethal with Gasol, Bynum, Lamar, Kobe and Artest crashing the boards, and Kobe being freer to take his shots. Against any other team, they also pose huge problems. Boston and the Magic have no chance.

    Blake also seriously opens up the triangle on defense and provides an absolutely reliable point guard – unlike the pas – to back up Derek. And of course, Derek insures we have the clutch shot when we need it.

    Also, the bench would be seriously upgraded so that the main players off the bench would be Lamar, Blake, Raja, and Vucacic. For a playoff run, they would make a very nice combo with any of the other bigs. I like this much more than seeing Farmar and Shannon off the bench. With their shooting ability, they would definitely keep or grow leads more easily than last years bench mob.

    Thus adding Raja would be a serious upgrade to the Lakers. Highly recommended. I hope Kobe can land Raja on the team.

  45. Agree with James fully. Especially if Ebanks can fill that long athletic wing role off the bench, this Laker team might just be alot stronger than last years.

    They could combine the ’08/’09 lakers offensive execution with the ’10 Lakers defensive grit and toughness. It’d be the best of both worlds.. how scary would that be?

  46. Although I don’t want to get our hearts up, in case it doesn’t happen, what I like about the possibility of getting Raja Bell on the Lakers is this:

    The Lakers will have even more players with the heart of a warrior.

    This increases the competitiveness of the Lakers against any team.

    Who would have the heart of a warrior on the Lakers? Kobe (of course), Fisher (of course), Artest (of course), Pau (proven over the last two years)), and Raja Bell. FOUR PLAYERS with hearts of warriors. That is HUGE.

    The warrior mentality is that of never giving up, always fighting against adversity, giving it your 100%, being fierce and physical and imposing, imposing one’s will on the opponent, always competing against the opponent. It breeds the heart of champions.

    This is why the Lakers won against the Celtics this year. They were bigger warriors than the Celtics. The Celtics were always chosen and bred to have a warrior mentality. This is why their defense is so physical and why they won against their opponents this year and two years ago. But the Lakers surpassed them – particularly with the addition of Artest.

    With Raja, they will have FOUR warriors.

    When Lamar Odom is focused (which is a problem), the Lakers have FIVE warriors.

    And if Bynum has learned from playing through pain, injury, and adversity this playoffs to finally be a MAN, then possibly he can be a SIXTH.

    Miami has only ONE: Wade. Lebron, despite being a physical specimen, is a quitter, not a warrior. He frets and chews on his fingernails and chokes. Bosh can always be pushed aside by more physical players. He is only a superstar pretender. Even Lebron can bowl him over. Miami has only one to the Lakers’ THREE, FOUR, or possibly (with Raja) FIVE. That is an overwhelming factor in the playoffs.

    This is why the Lakers will win in the playoffs. Push-comes-to-shove, the Lakers learned from the Celtics what it takes to win.

  47. 36,

    Rebounding…that’s going to be one of the many interesting aspects of the Heat’s game. Their wings (Wade, Lebron, Miller) are among the best rebounders at their position, Bosh is a good finesse rebounder, and Haslem is solid. They’ll be okay. We saw Kobe dominate the boards in Game 7. Wade/Lebron could do the same.

    edit: I’m guilty, as many people are, of thinking too much about Miami…after all Denver, San Antonio, and Dallas have all improved–

  48. 43,
    Yes I think we r too preoccupied by Miami but justifiably so. They will b an extremely tough out come playoff time no matter what anyone says about chemistry. Their ability to run will b 2nd to none

    However, i realy like the moves the bulls have made and I think they could cause Miami problems especially since they will not have the hype/pressure of Miami.

  49. First and For most glad to see fish back but now on to the bigger issue I agree yeah Bell would be a nice pickup if we can get him but if not I think the 3 we should go after as far as wing players are Tmac, AI, and Brown in that order and as far as big men I think J. Boone from NJN he’s a FA last time I check but if not him Kwame I think other than boone he’s the biggest body out there probably the quickest as well and seeing how we just need him clog the middle and bang for us here and there he’s the second best opion. After those 2 I would go with Miller, Thomas, Nesterovic.

  50. If everything pans out our roster will look more or less something like this.

    Bynum,Boone?Brown?Miller?Thomas?Ext
    Gasol,Odom,Caracter
    Artest,Ebanks,Walton
    Bryant,Bell?McGrady?Iverson?Brown?and Vujacic
    Fisher,Blake

    Bring on the heat and the so called 3 Queens

  51. Miami is an obvious threat and going to be a great team. But Phil is a master of exploiting weaknesses in other teams. Here’s what I see as their weakness: their front court. If Big Z signs, he’s their only guy over 6-10. Bosh is 6-10, Anthony is 6-9, and Haslem is 6-8. Small lineup compared to LA, Boston, or Orlando. Also, none of these guys are tough guys in the paint–none of them are bangers, big rebounders, or have a great postup game. They all excel at shooting jumpers–which clears space in the offense for Wade and James, but is not that intimidating of an interior presence.

    Also, Wade and James are great at help defense, but not great at 1 on 1 defense. I’m sure Phil, Doc Rivers, Stan Van Gundy, and others will all try to exploit these areas.

  52. We might keep 14 if the 2 rookies stick.(Both these guys will spend a lot of time in Bakersfield) I would resign Brown and DJ. Last spot between Bell and TMac depending on physical condition and how many $ they demand.

  53. This team needs some speed and explosiveness. And it doesn’t necessarilly matter from which of the 1-3 positions it comes from. As presently constructed, LA has fielded what is undoubtedly the slowest team in the league. Make no mistake; this will come back to bite them.

    While monday morning quarterbacking is of little use at this point, I can’t help but point out how strongly I disagree with the Steve Blake signing. Had Fisher departed, he would’ve been a great replacement. But with Fisher returning, the two players replicate each other’s traits (pretty good shooters, pesky – if not altogether solid – defenders, decent passers, poor dribble penatrators, poor finishers, average to poor speed and athleticism). What is more, each is backed up by Sasha Vujacic, who does precisely the same things, albeit less effectively. Add an aging Kobe Bryant and an increasingly lead footed Artest to this equation and LA is really suffering from a speed and athleticism deficiency.

    Hence, signing Blake may well have been a mistake (this is not to mention that it’s at least 1 year and $1M too much money for my liking). I understand that nobody can keep Westbrook, Rondo, et al out of the lane, but this is flawed logic. Simply because nobody can keep them out of the lane does not mean that Blake’s shortcomings won’t show up in other areas. This is especially true now that LA boasts of not a single guard – save Kobe…sometimes – who can get out on the fastbreak and finish. If everyone thought LA looked outpaced by the Thunder last year, just wait. That problem will be exacerbated by the lack of speed and athleticism formerly supplied by Farmar and Brown.

    This is also essentially my case against signing Bell. He’s a useful player, and a great fit for a lot of reasons, but if he’s taking a roster spot from someone (e.g. Brown) younger, faster, and more athletic, LA needs to seriously revisit it’s reasoning. Unfortunately the best ways of addressing this problem ((1) Lowry, (2) Morrow, (3) Foye) are no longer available after the Blake signing. Unless LA can muster a trade, I fully support bringing back Shannon.

  54. I agree with the 14 roster spots. Re-sign Brown via early Bird rights. Sign Bell. Then sign a veteran center like Kurt Thomas. Keep the rookies for youth. Most of the time, there is at least 1-2 players injured anyway so 14 is a good number to have.

  55. 30, good example of blind statistic use without digging around for their veracity.

    Steve Blake attempted 294 threes last season out of 522 shots. Thus, the majority of his shots are threes and his 39.5% from three is the most reliable statistic.

    Steve Blake made 41.6% of his FGA’s last year, which is on par with Chauncey Billups, Russell Westbrook, Devin Harris, Rodney Stuckey, Gilbert Arenas, Baron Davis, Mike Bibby, and Jonny Flynn. If you’re willing to admit that all those guys are atrocious shooters, then yes, Blake has an atrocious FG%.

    Steve Blake attempted 48 FT’s total last season, making 36. Needless to say, I’m not worried about his FT percentage killing us when he takes somewhere between 50-60 FT’s a year. By comparison, Sasha attempts about 40 FT’s a season, and I don’t think anyone ever cared about Sasha’s FT percentage, ever (except maybe in Game 7 of the Finals).

    His 53.9% TS%? Steve Blake was about 20th in the league, ahead of Derrick Rose, Andre Miller, Tyreke Evans, Mike Conley, Raymond Felton, and Russell Westbrook, among others. And TS% is enhanced by having lots of FT attempts, case-in-point being Corey Maggette who has an eFG% of 52.3% (a little less than Blake’s) but a TS% of 61.5%.

    And lastly, with an eFG% of 52.7%, Steve Blake ranked 11th in the league among PG’s with at least 25+ minutes per game last season. And in his time with the Clippers, Blake had an eFG% of 55.7%, second only to Steve Nash.

    And none of this factors in that Blake will be playing in the Triangle offense, an offense pretty much built for players like him, and that he’ll be getting wide-open shots all the time from all the double teams on Kobe and GOB (well, maybe not O, but I just wanted to say GOB again).

  56. Lakers can try to get T MAc to back up Koby or to start. Now try to get Bell or Barnes also. Get anyone but no kwane that guy is a bum we know better for the year that he play for the lakers..Good Decision for fisher let go lakers 2011 champion

  57. One comment the value of the Blake signing, one shortcoming of Farmar and Brown was their ability to initiate the offense of the second unit. My guess is that the FO viewed an ineffective second unit on offense as more negative than the lack of athleticism on the part of Blake.

    It’s not like Farmar and Brown were shutdown defenders or that Blake can’t defend at all. And, the propensity for the second unit to give up big leads or inability to hold leads seemed to be a problem last year, which meant that the starters had to play more minutes. Blake’s main value seems to be is ability to initiate the offense (i.e. follow instructions).

  58. Can I share an idea that hasn’t been mentioned and has no rumor attached to it whatsoever? One player who I think could be had and would fit in very well: Rudy Fernandez.

    He’s worn out his welcome in Portland and some or most of his minutes will probably be replaced by Matthews if the Jazz don’t match the big offer.

    I think Rudy’s situation is somewhat akin to Pau’s in Memphis, albeit on a lower scale. Both of these players, from growing up in Spain’s league with its fewer league games and intense rivalries plus the national team battles are used to play in meaningful games. They both have that fire that makes it hard to play through 82 essentially meaningless games because the ultimate prize remains far out of reach.

    Pau would obviously be a factor in him coming, as would the increased stakes in LA. I think Rudy could be a great back-up for Kobe (good at creating his own shot) and might even be able to squeeze in some minutes at the 1. He’s a solid 3-point shooter, can get to the basket, gives effort on defense (better team than individual defender), is a really smart player on both ends and gets better when the stakes are high – see the box score for the Beijing final – Rudy with 22 on 7-13 shooting, 5-9 on 3s, almost killing the best US national team fielded in over 15 years.

    Next season he will earn a little under 1.3 million, the season after that being a team option at roughly 2.2mil. The biggest catch is that Portland probably won’t help the Lakers and some form of trade – maybe including a re-signed Shannon Brown – would have to be worked out. But I love Rudy as a player and would bet anything on him returning to his fully engaged rookie form if playing in LA.

  59. 53. Some good points there, and 55., good response.

    Agreed, we do need “athleticism.” But in this zero-sum game called free agency, we had the #1 priority to find a suitable PG who could take up 20-25 minutes per game. Blake had to be done in this case.

    There are TONS of “athletes” out there. Look at Gerald Green, Ronnie Brewer (out of price range) and even Shannon Brown. It’s whether these guys fit the triangle offense, and whether their BBALL IQ in CONJUNCTION with their athleticism fits. If all goes to plan, I think Ebanks may see some decent time playing the “athlete” role for the Lakers, guarding PGs, SGs, and SFs.

    Raja on the other hand, is the type of smart player who would know how to play team defense by utilizing our bigs. Shannon tried too hard at times to individually shut down defenders, which you really can’t do in this league given their perimeter defense rules.

    So yes, I wish we could have that perfect blend of age, athleticism, defense, explosiveness, etc., in one player. But we could do worse than Raja at this point, and a trio of Raja, Kobe, and Artest is a pretty formidible bunch. Then again, Raja may just join the 3 Me Egos in Miami and all this commentary would be a waste of cyberspace.

  60. I think athleticism is great and that teams should ultimately want players that both exhibit great basketball skill combined with good athleticism. However, players like this aren’t readily available so choices must be made. Do you foresake skill for athleticism? Vice versa?

    The Lakers are an intersting team because they often find roles for players on both ends of the spectrum and built around players that possess both tremendous skill and superb athleticism. (Side note, those that say Kobe has lost a step are correct. However, his athleticism is still off the charts. He may not possess that 99th percentile first step or the hops to dunk on Dwight Howard, but his footwork and hesitation moves are better than any other players in the league and that also constitutes athleticism. Not too many players can do the things that Kobe does within the framework of the rule book – they often palm the ball or travel – but Kobe consistently gets it done. He also still has great hang time on his jumper and in his finishes around the hoop. So while he may not be Lebron or Wade, he’s still a class above most of the league.)

    Another point is that is it really important to find that *one* wing player that has athleticism? Do folks really believe that the Lakers will somehow be a step above because they retain Shannon Brown or have that one extra wing that can jump high and run fast? The Lakers are locked into Kobe and Ron on the wing and they’ll play the crunch time minutes. During the rest of the game, the Lakers will be an execution based team that relies on the principles of their offense to create good looks. Now, of course it would be useful to have that extra wing player that create a shot out of thin air. However, what I hope to see is a team that executes better so that the need to have to do that decreases. I would say that at least some of the time, Farmar or Shannon’s ability to create something from nothing stemmed from the fact that they didn’t execute well enough earlier in the shot clock/on a particular possession and hence were put in a position where they *needed* that athleticism to get a shot off.

    Also, the Lakers athletes are their bigs. Few big men run as well as Gasol and Odom. Few have the size of Bynum while still moving as well as he does (when healthy). The Lakers can still be a running team and get out on the break, but it will be selective and much more controlled. Their defense will create steals and their size will generate rebounding chances that lead to open court chances. My point is, the Lakers athletic advantage is in a place where other teams have little chance of matching up and that’s what makes this team special.

    So, while it’d be great to have a couple of Rudy Gay types running around like antelopes on the wing, I’d much prefer to have skill players that look to take advantage of the Gasol and Odom types that populate the frontcourt. To me, that’s a recipe for success that’s more proven than saying “I’d rather have Shannon than Bell”. And again, nothing against Shannon. I’d like to have him back too, but if it’s just to have that *one* wing athlete, I’d say that’s the wrong way to look at this. Personally, I’d like to have him back because he works hard, knows the offense, and then look to his athleticism as the piece that I like. But just as an athlete? Why not just keep Gerald Green from the Summer League team, then?

  61. Anyone have tips for attending the summer pro league? I used to go pretty regularly down to Long Beach and Irvine. But have never been to the Vegas one.

    I’ll be hitting town before noon on Thursday, hoping to catch the 1 p.m. Laker vs Spurs game. But I have no idea what the layout is like, best spots, etc. I see that it’s at the Cox Pavilion.

    Appreciate any help. I’m pretty excited about it. I used to take a day off work in the middle of the week and just geek out spending the whole day watching games. Was never as crowded as the weekends and you could get a more intimate look. Hard to do a middle of the week trip now that the league has moved to Vegas.

    Looking forward to it but no idea about the logistics. Thanks for any help and advice.

  62. Researching my pipe dream for Rudy Fernandez I came upon this profile:

    http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/Rudy-Fernandez-22/

    The highlight – his player comparison:

    Best Case: Kevin Martin
    Worst Case: Sasha Vujacic

  63. I think the biggest off-season improvement will be Sasha going from a non-contract year to a contract year. Does anyone remember how well Sasha shot the ball the last time he was in a contract year. Dude is going to be on fire this year.

    Also, I would strongly suggest resigning Shannon Brown or bringing in Matt Barnes to keep from becoming the least athletic team in the league. If Shannon is re-signed, use whats left of the MLE on a big man like Kurt Thomas, otherwise bring back DJ.

  64. Agree with @41, the West will be extremely tough. Lakers dodged a bullet with the Nuggets getting knocked off early last season. They’re athletic, shoot with no conscience, and have a chance to win something for George K. Plus Carmelo is a closer.

  65. I think it’s been a pretty fantastic offseason, so far.

    Going into the offseason, the Lakers needed to do 4 things:

    1) Replace Farmar with a savvy, vet point guard who played within himself and could shoot the three with accuracy. I’m not sure they could have done better than Steve Blake given the cash limitations.

    2) Re-sign Derek Fisher, which they did.

    3) Find a sg/sf who could defend and shoot threes with accuracy

    4) Find a backup big who could play pf and c.

    If the Lakers come away with Blake, Fisher, Bell, and say, Kurt Thomas, they will have had a FANTASTIC SUMMER.

    The fact that Caracter is rated #1 on the Rookie Scale right now is gravy.

    You guys realize that Caracter is already an upgrade over Powell and Mbenga, right? Caracter actually has low post moves, touch, passing instincts, and the ability to rebound outside the box.

    My feelings on Ebanks have been tempered a little bit after the last two games, but I think he could definitely be a solid role player.

    The Lakers are in really good shape right now.

    If they get Bell and Kurt Thomas?

    They’re in GREAT shape.

  66. I agree that there’s no point in signing an athlete merely for the sake of athleticism. To be helpful, such a signing must be of a player who has skills too. That said, I don’t think I suggested plugging a roster spot with a token athlete.

    My point is more nuanced; in the aggregate, LA is becoming slow. And to suggest that the athleticism will come from the bigs is not only to miss the point, but likely to exaggerate the case too. Bynum’s slow. Pau’s an athletic big, but at power forward can hardly be expected to outpace Amare, Bosh, and players of that ilk (admittedly few and far between). Lamar’s plainly not the athtlete he once was. But the real point is that you don’t get open court playmaking or easy fast break buckets from the bigs. That comes from the backcourt. In that sense, Blake is well below average. For what it’s worth, apart from dunking, so is Gerald Green.

    I’d like to see LA either retain Brown or add a player like Crittenton or perhaps even Strawberry. Flawed as they may be, they help address – but do not solve – the speed and athleticism deficiency in the back court. I would have preferred a more “skilled” athlete, but at this point, there are slim pickings (which is why Blake was a mistake to begin with).

    LA can’t just continue to rely on Kobe to generate fast break buckets or chase the leagues better athletes for 40 minutes a game. Kobe’s footwork and hesitation moves are not athleticism. Instead they’re a reflection of countless hours in the gym perfecting skills.

    At this point, Kobe’s just above average as an athlete at SG. He and Ron form a formiddable duo on the wings. But do we really want Sasha or Blake to spend 12 minutes a game on Wade? That’s the where a player like Shannon can come in and give us some competitive minutes.

  67. 30 Some of us have heard these same comments about Fisher for 14 years–and to think that he could have been the starting pg for next season’s Heat!

    53 If the Lakers wish, the type of team speed issues you address could be solved with players already in the pipeline. ShanWOW is still available, Ebanks is a dead ringer for Trevor, and Crit could still be signed as a pg backup. It is unlikely, though, that any of them (except possibly ShanWOW) will play significant minutes.

    The Lakers have the longest frontline in basketball, capable of playing more effectively inside than any other team either on offense or defense. They are most effective with a pg capable of running the triangle on offense and playing strategic team defense.

    Fisher/Blake gives that capability to the Lakers with both starters and bench mob.

  68. On the issue of athleticism on this Laker team, while I would never want to substitute athleticism for skill, I do think it is important to have a balance. Who was the one team that gave the Lakers the most problems in the Western Conference playoffs? The Oklahoma Thunder. They have a good team, but let’s face it, they don’t have a lot of particularly “skilled” players. They have guys that can do one thing really well and guys that bring alot of energy. That’s even more important than the athleticism issue, honestly. The Lakers just don’t have a lot of energy guys and it shows sometimes when the Lakers get lethargic on offense and forget how to move without the ball.

    Obviously they can win a championship with an “unathletic” team, it’s just something that I miss seeing from the ’08 and ’09 Laker teams with guys like Ariza, Turiaf, AB (when he had good knees). I also think that Andrew getting healthy will be a huge difference.

  69. I’ve been “watching” summer league games for a couple weeks now, but mainly as background noise as I do other things. Last night I actually watched and came to a startling realization:

    The announcers barely narrate the games at all. They just chat to each other and random interviewees.

    Anyways, I watched the second half of the LAL-SAC game and kept my eyes on Caracter and Cousins mostly.

    Cousins is a beast. If he can maintain his motivation once he’s silenced the critics and made a name for himself, Sacramento will be on the rise in a big way.

    Caracter was clearly overmatched in the stretch I saw. But I still liked what I saw. He was trying to do the right things, his form was just a little off in everything. Once he tightens his mechanics up, though, I see him crafting a nice career in the league a la Big Baby or Paul Milsap. But I’m not sure he’ll develop enough to where PJ trusts him for actual minutes this season. He looks too vulnerable to being abused by a veteran PF (and he does seem like more of a PF than an SF to me).

    I think Ebanks can play the role of the bench energizer people are saying we need in Shannon. I don’t know that we’d need it often, but I do see the value of bringing someone in occasionally whose energy will help break the vets out of a rut. He’s got a long way to go too, but I can see him seeing spot duty in this regard annd earning more time as he proves that his energy won’t lead to errors.

    Mostly though, watch out for Cousins + Tyreke Evans. They could be exciting to watch.

  70. 53) “This team needs some speed and explosiveness”

    Speed and explosiveness is great, but if it is not used effectively it’s not worth much. IMO, in a decision such as “Brown vs Bell”, it seems clear that the short-term benefits of Bell outweigh the very iffy long-term benefits of Brown. And that’s even more true in the case of Blake vs Farmar.

  71. I haven’t had much time to watch summer league, but there are some good clips of Caracter here:
    http://www.nba.com/rookieladder/

    First thoughts, he’s leaner than I thought he would be, and as talented as they touted (1st round talent). He has some polished post moves, good agility, can finish with both hands, and has a soft touch.

    Granted, this is summer league play, but I really like what I see. Great job to the Lakers FO for this LATE 2nd round pickup…

  72. nice post. nice video. speed and athleticism are less important versus rebounding and defense. as long as the bigs are healthy, we own the boards and offset many putbacks/fast break/transition baskets. As long as guys are moving the ball on offense, we’ll take good shots and give our bigs a chance at the rebound. If bynum and gasol are not healthy, we have issues, especially if we cannot make outside shots. But don’t discount a healthy kobe. Look at what we got this year on one leg and 4 fingers on his shooting hand…

  73. What does everyone think of trying to sign shaq to 1-2 year deal at the vet min to come off the bench for drew? he has showed hes ready to be the third if not fourth best player on the team in phoenix and cleveland even though he would probably be our 7 to 8th best player.

  74. I agree with Darius. Don’t underestimate our decisive advantage in “athleticism” found in our bigs. That’s why we don’t need elite-level athleticism on the wings, because our defense is specifically geared to force scorers into help defense situations.

    If anything, I value “length” over pure athleticism. From what I’ve read, one of the reasons why Raja is a good defender is his length. Remember what Kobe did to Westbrook with his length. Remember how our bigs repeatedly blocked Boozer down low with their respective length.

    The NBA rules have shifted decisively to the attacking perimeter player in the sense it’s “hands off” defense, which makes it impossible to stop the CP3s, LBJs, etc. But “length” factors in these NBA rules by allowing you to contest shots even if someone has a step on you.

    Remember how Trevor used to be used to shadow the quick PGs, and how effective that was. I’m hoping Ebanks may prove to be a similar type of player. Also, the reason why I’m happy about Blake and Bell (if we sign him) is that these guys are heady, off the charts BBALL IQ guys who would understand their limitations and buy into a team defense concept.

  75. 66, wait what? You can’t generate fast break points from your bigs? Last time I watched the Lakers, almost every fast break point came because of two main reasons 1.) defensive rebounding, and 2.) Lamar Odom’s ability to rebound the ball and bring it all the way up the court. And Gasol is the best fast break initiator on our team, Phil said so himself. And both Gasol and Bynum are two of the best guys at running the floor and getting good position inside.

    Fast breaks are not all about speed. Fast breaks are also about execution. Most fast break points don’t come at full-speed; most of them happen during the secondary break when trailers start coming up the court and the defense is in shambles. And it’s our big guys running the floor that causes those secondary breaks to be so successful.

  76. It looks like Wade is already feeling the target on the Heat’s back and trying to push it back to us. ; )

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=5378876

    We will always bring out the best in any team we play, they’ll be gunning for the champs. But, it will be fun to see how the Heat team reacts to the same focus every night from the opponent. They, like us, will have no off-games, everyone will be out to beat them.

  77. @21 Victor,

    So, the perimeter you are saying: Blake/Fish vs. Wade, Lebron vs Kobe, Artest vs Miller.

    Yes tough matchups… Blake/Fish vs Wade = Wade wins as scorer & ball handler, BUT he can’t leave Blake open……
    Then you got Lebron vs. Kobe… well, i still think it could turn out to be Lebron vs. Artest. Kobe needs only to keep the ball away from Lebron or force him to shoot from the perimeter. Kobe was beat up this year, a healthy Kobe cannot be stopped by Lebron……
    As for Miller vs. Artest? That’s a joke MILLER is the weak link on D. Wade AND Lebron can only give limited help. And can Miller even get the ball?

    ON D… I think it will pan out this way: Fish/Blake on Wade; Artest on Lebron; Kobe on Miller; L.O. on someone; Pau/Bynum on someone…….

    You could also go bigger: Kobe vs Wade; Artest vs Lebron; LO vs Miller; Pau vs. whoever; Bynum vs. the smaller guy or slower big guy like Shaq…………………………. primary ball handler in this case would be LO vs Miller or Kobe…

    We don’t know who else is on this team: Bell? T-Mac?

    Lakers have a number of SCARY options themselves. If they get Bell, I think the bench mob is back. Imagine our bench getting leads when the starters are even…. Then the key ends up being D and rebounds.

  78. Taylor @ 76 – OMG this deflection attempt by Wade is too funny. Dwyane is dreaming, nice try though.

    Man, if they can’t handle the pressure NOW, just wait.

  79. Now the Heat are try to get T-Mac. Even if the got that Trio going on in Miami, the lakers have too many way to match them so try something else. All of those player that are hiting to Miami for the Minimum salary are CRAZYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY

  80. According to ESPN, the Fisher deal was for less than previously reported, 9mil over 3 years not 10.5:
    http://sports.espn.go.com/los-angeles/nba/news/story?id=5379991

  81. It looks like Ridnour got the same deal as Black, except he’s going to Minny.

    KAAAHHHNNNN

  82. Darius,

    Not much has been mentioned here about Shaun Livingston. The last I saw of him, he was doing really well in his last few games with the Wiz. People were calling it a comeback. See clips below…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NW7Kx9-LP1w

    Seems like a steal if he could be had for minimum…..

  83. interesting and true observation: today is the worst sports day of the year

    some suggestions (biased and lousy) of what to do from the Thunder blog
    http://www.dailythunder.com/2010/07/what-to-do-on-the-worst-sports-day-of-the-year/

    of course, I would add: chat on FB&G

  84. @74

    i agree. not only is our frontcourt long, but they’re mobile (especially when bynum is healthy). it really makes up for the lack of speed and athleticism in our backcourt

  85. Re: Lakers Athleticism

    It would have been nice for the Lakers to bring in an athlete into their starting lineup. Last year you really saw a lack of energy on the team sans Ariza. Darius is right and wrong… I think the intangibles most people don’t notice are those that result from team speed and athleticism. Getting to loose balls and forcing other teams to play faster than they are comfortable. Hustle plays are often game changing plays… the Lakers are lacking that presence in their lineup. However… who was available to the Lakers at PG with size and athleticism? I assure you the Lakers were looking, and maybe they are about to pull off a trade. We all know bringing in a good athlete at any other spot on the floor wouldn’t have much of an effect as there are not many minutes behind Kobe, Artest, Gasol, Odom, and Bynum.

  86. People keep talking about our ‘lack’ of athleticism in 1-2-3. Perhaps they need to be reminded exactly why we went in this direction. The teams we are likely to meet in the deeper playoffs – as opposed to teams we meet during the season – are teams with big off guards and strong SF.

    This team is constructed for the playoffs and if we ‘suffer’ a bit during the regular season, the FO isn’t going to be extremely concerned, regardless how loud fans may scream.

  87. 82. Apparently Charlotte agrees with your sentiments. Livinginston signs a 2 year $7 mil deal…far from the minimum.

    Jaaber apparently is leaving the summer squad as he received a large deal from a team in Italy. That begs the question, will we sign a 3rd point guard or leave the residual minutes for Sasha?

  88. Livingston to Charlotte. Good for him, hope he can stay healthy…

  89. Athleticism and ‘energy’ are great things – but not necessary for winning a championship. A roster that plays great team defense will beat a roster that relies on great individual defenders. Defense is a reaction, and is always half a step behind – thus, defenses will be broken down. What the team does in helping and recovering in those moments is what constitutes a good defense. Our squad has become the top defensive team, without much youthful athleticism (Jordan and Shannon got small minutes and were known for their offense not defense) Is this youthful energy nice to have? Yes. Is it fun to watch? If applied correctly, yes. But is it what will win us a championship? NO. Our veterans’ experience will do that, even if some claim they lack athleticism.

  90. I had trouble accessing this site for the last day, anybody else experiencing that problem?

  91. 90. Brian P, likewise. Hopefully it’ll stay up. Maybe it’s some of the new tech (new scripts on those photos, I noticed :D)

  92. 90– yep. and from the lack of posts, i’m guessing we’re not the only ones

  93. Yep, sure seemed like the site was down. And note the break in comments (nearly a 24 hour break). Glad it’s back !

  94. Yes, down for almost a whole day… FB&G withdrawals!

    It looks increasingly likely that DC and Ebanks will not only be invited to camp, but make the roster as well. Land o Lakers have a good chat with David Thorpe regarding DC

    http://espn.go.com/blog/los-angeleslakers/post/_/id/9329/david-thorpe-on-derrick-caracter

    Key quote: “The guy clearly should have been a first-round pick. A bunch of teams messed up. There’s really no other way of saying it.”

    And another one from Land o Lakers with Lakers summer league head coach Chuck Person

    http://espn.go.com/blog/los-angeles/lakers/post/_/id/9299/caracter-and-ebanks-respond-to-tough-matchup#more

    Key quote: “So I think Caracter is definitely going to be a player, as well as Ebanks.”

    DC is currently ranked 2nd and Ebanks 4th on the NBA’s rookie ladder page too http://www.nba.com/rookieladder/

  95. I’ve put a short post up explaining that we had some server issues yesterday afternoon that continued through this morning. Our regular scheduled programming will continue soon. I promise.

    http://www.forumblueandgold.com/2010/07/15/were-back-up-running/

  96. Brad Miller (CHI) or Josh Boone (NJN) anyone???????? I think K. Thomas has great enthusiasm and basketball IQ but I think the down side to us signing him would be #1 he’s to small, I think he’s like what 6’9″? and I think his best years speed wise are long gone. The reason I say miller and boone is beause miller yeah might not have alot of athleticism but he can space the floor knock down the 3ball and rebound and defend pretty well. The same with boone for the most part big body loves to bang or so I’ve heard ok on d pretty good rebounder from what I’ve seen, not sure if he can shoot the 3 as good but is still young, and with our system and under phil’s wing he could have great upside

  97. Miller or Boone as our back up to drew would be a huge upgrade at the c position come on Mitch!!!!!! get it done. Either one could play 20-25min a game during the reg. season it would be less wear and tear on drew and his knee’s

  98. Every time I read some post that ends with “come on mitch, get it done” I laugh. Get serious, guys. You’re sitting at home scouting and not actually taking the finances into consideration. Miller is entirely unlikely to come to LA for the min. I don’t know about Boone…but I think the fact that the Lakers have won back to back titles without their starting center @ 100% speaks volumes about what they can actually do with what they have. If Bynum stays healthy, none of this even matters. There is NO TEAM, not one, that could beat the Lakers when they are 100% healthy. For all this talk about athleticism (and not to be disrepectful) OKC wouldn’t even have been a blip in our radar if Kobe and Bynum had been 100%. We would have destroyed them. Speed does not trump size and length. Explosive offense will never defeat stifling defense over 7 games.

    Anyway, Caracter is legit. This was a major move for the FO. I think he will get some minutes this year. He’s already an improvement on Powell…frankly, the dude has more hustle than Odom, too.

  99. Hello All,

    This is a very interesting post. Now that Derek Fisher is on board, I would keep Shannon Brown. This young player is a true sleeper.

    I would mentor him with Kobe, Derek, or some of the other veteran superstars. I would then increase his playing time. Coach Phil, do not let this young future superstar get away.

    Raja Bell will certainly be an asset, however,Shannon Brown is a work in progress. Give him more playing time, thus increasing his confidence and overall value to the Team.

    Young Brown has a “championship mentality.

  100. Bharath Venkat July 16, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    There have been a flurry of off season moves this summer that should make for an exciting NBA season. I have written a post about a recap of the off season moves around the NBA on my blog (pardonmybias.com). Feel free to comment and start a healthy conversation. Here is a direct link to my post: http://pardonmybias.com/2009-nba-free-agency-update/

  101. Shannon Brown is still in the picture, right? I love watching him play. Raw, rough around the edges, but he sure brings energy to the court.

    By the way, I just discovered this site and my impression is that it contains the most intelligent discussions of basketball anywhere. Somehow, the juvenile smacktalk and rah-rah crown hasn’t found this place, and that’s fine with me. One thing, though, I’d like to know a little more about they first-person-singular guys who write the primary pieces and serve a moderators. Can you include a short profile or two?

    Great site. I’ll be a regular.

  102. #102. Knobstock,
    From everything I’ve read and heard Shannon is definitely in the mix to be brought back. I actually believe that Raja Bell was last wing that the Lakers really wanted before they moved back to Shannon as a primary target to bring back. The Lakers are sure to want to carry another guard and at this point, I don’t think there are any better options that are safer bets than Shannon.

    And on another note, we’re glad to have you and happy that you enjoy the site. Stick around and relax, we’re here year round.