Fast Break Thoughts

Phillip Barnett —  July 22, 2010

Los Angeles Lakers' Pau Gasol wanted a fouled called after battling under the basket in the fourth quarter of Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals at USAirways Arena on May 25th, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Lakers 115-106 to even the series.

The majority of the love awarded to the Lakers goes to Kobe Bryant, and it’s definitely with reason. However, Pau Gasol has become a super star in his own right and has earned a spot near or at the top of the list of the best big men in the NBA. Basket Blog’s Mike Trudell took the liberty of comparing Pau’s numbers to the stats from some of the league’s other big men. During the regular season only Dwight Howard recorded more rebounds per game (of the bigs on the list) and no other big man recorded more assists per game. During the post season, only Carlos Boozer averaged more rebounds and only Amare Stoudemire and Dirk Nowitzki averaged more points per contest. Again, no one dished out more dimes and only Howard had more blocks per game. It’s safe to say that Gasol is one of the most well rounded big men in the NBA.

It’s been two weeks since LeBron James’ “Decision” and it’s still being talked about today as if it happened just a couple of days ago. Since then, we’ve heard some of the NBA’s greatest ball players – Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and the Lakers own Magic Johnson – weigh in on the choice LeBron made (all saying they wouldn’t have gone LeBron’s route). Robert Baptista of Silver Screen and Roll argues that Jordan made his statements to preserve his legacy as the greatest of all time.

This was posted in the comments by Mimsy a couple of days ago, but here is the column by ESPN’s Ombudsman, Don Ohlmeyer, on LeBron James’ decision. This is probably the most interesting piece that I’ve read about the program, not the decision itself.

As most of you have heard, Chris Paul has requested a trade from New Orleans and yes, the Lakers were on his list of possible trade destinations. I don’t think too much should be read into this. To acquire a talent like Paul, the Lakers would have to give up some talent back, and probably a big man. Part of the reason why the Lakers have been to three straight NBA Finals is because of their size and length and giving up someone like Andrew Bynum for a 6’1’’ point guard wouldn’t make much sense. I do believe that Chris Paul is either one or two on the list of best point guards when healthy, but size doesn’t come along as often as talented point guards. The Lakers will be best served by standing pat on this one.

Phillip Barnett

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29 responses to Fast Break Thoughts

  1. expect plenty of chatter about how CP3 is ‘better’ than Bynum (no, really?) without any understanding that Bynum is a rarer commodity than Paul. As great as Paul is, the difference between CP3 and Fish/Blake is less than the difference between Bynum and virtually any other center (Mbenga?) who conceivably could play that spot. Unless we’re talking about starting LO at the 4 and Pau at the 5… which would mean an incredible starting 5… but then our bench is as thin as can be.

  2. Well I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find this intriguing at the very least. Which for me is major, since I had absolutely no interest in trading Bynum for Kidd or Bosh (and I like Bosh), and very rarely would I consider trading a big w/ skills for a small. Don’t want any part of Okafor. A package of CP3 & Posey (backing up Artest) for Bynum & Walton would be more appealing to me personally but the obvious problem now would be the big hole in the middle this season (a Shaq encore?).

    Bottom line: I’ll stand pat. Lakers are 2 time champs and I don’t think anyone would be considering this deal if Bynum had a healthier history. I’ll take the chance that he’ll be healthy for the next few years. Hopefully the Knicks will be able to pull this off. I think if they do, ‘Melo would join CP3 & Amare in New York.

  3. According to Chris Broussard, the Lakers are not on Paul’s list, which is:

    New York
    Orlando
    Portland
    Dallas

    Among those teams, Portland has the best pieces to acquire him.

    Supposedly, any team getting Paul also has to take Okafor.

  4. Because of his injuries, Andrew Bynum has been a role player in the Lakers success the past three years. And he will be a role player until he shows that he can be relatively injury-free. Trading a role player for someone like Chris Paul is a smart move from a basketball perspective. Depending on the other contracts involved, it may not be in the Lakers financial interests.

  5. Chris Paul doesn’t fit the Lakers system. He is best in a system that emphasizes open floor play (like Dantoni’s system). In a half court system like the Triangle a lot of his strengths get neutralized.

    And big Drew goes nowhere. Even with his injury history he is more valuable to the Lakers than Paul would be. It is amazing that some people forget the Lakers trump card is their size up front. No team (not even the Miami Hype Machine) can touch that. Drew has only two more guaranteed seasons under contract with the third as a team option. The Lakers may as well ride it out and reassess when the time comes.

    Regarding Pau Gasol: The man is simply magnificent. I am very glad he is getting some much needed rest this summer. He doesn’t draw attention to himself like other players so some media types are just now catching on. The thing is Pau has been stellar for quite a while now. It is good to see him get some shine.

  6. From Wojnarowski’s Twitter:

    WojYahooNBA: Unless Cleveland raises multi-year offer that starts around $3.5M, Matt Barnes will sign a 1-year, $1.7M deal with Lakers, sources tell Y!

  7. And no, #5 does not make sense to me, either (from Barnes’ POV).

  8. My first thought when I saw the trade rumor about Bynum for Chris Paul was, “but then who will play center?”

    We are not deep on that position right now, only a thread or so ago most of the discussion in the comments was on how to bring in another big man as a backup for that position, to take some load and minutes from Pau and Lamar.

    I think BigCitySid is right that if Bynum would have had a history of being healthy for every season he’s been a starter, no one here would think twice about rejecting a deal that sends away our most promising young big man (assuming he’s healthy) for a type of point guard that the Lakers doesn’t particularly need right now.

  9. 5. Something in my gut, call it “Rajabellitis” tells me that Barnes is using the Lakers to leverage Cleveland to pay him more $ over a long-term deal. If the Lakers can get him for $1.7m for one year, that’s a great deal. He’ll inject some toughness (as opposed to great defense) into the second unit. I don’t think he’s a “great” defender, but he always plays hard and hopefully that’ll be contagious with Odom, and even the young padawans (Ebanks, Caracter).

  10. with kobe having about 3 good years left in the tank, going after chris paul, a superstar, now… makes sense. this guy, when healthy, is the best pg in the nba. and plus, with phil probably leaving after this season, the triangle might be leaving as well.

    i think we all hype our ‘length’ a bit too much. the truth is, we like gasol at the 4 and a big center at the 5. AND we hate lamar odoms inconsistency.

    so here’s what we do. we trade odom and bynum for cp3 and okafor, and look to trade saschas expiring for a 4 that can slide gasol to the 5 (ala odom) when he comes off the bench.

    think about this long term.. do we want bynum… potential semi star? or the best pg in the league and possibly the best pg, sg combo to ever play the game?

    this, i believe, is something u make happen if you have the ability to do so…

  11. I don’t want to have to quash entire conversations, so I think we’ll allow some trade speculation in this thread. Keep in mind that this is just a list of “preferred destinations” for Paul; he has no leverage and really is relying on the Hornets to find a decent deal. Kobe made the same demands in Summer 07 and he went nowhere.

    If the Lakers actually begin discussions with the Hornets, then we can reopen the topic.

  12. The only scenario that makes sense for both sides is (pardon the trade speculation Darius, although I suppose it’s somewhat relevant here):

    Bynum/Vujacic/Walton/first rounders (plus Ebanks or Caracter) for Paul and Okafor.

    NO gets a young franchise cornerstone in Bynum and saves money over the life of the deal because Okafor comes off the books and Vujacic’s and Walton’s contracts cost less and expire beforehand. Meanwhile, the Lakers maintain their frontcourt rotation by plugging Okafor into Bynum’s minutes. While he’s definitely not worth the money he’s being paid, he’s a solid defensive player and a much better rebounder than Bynum. We wouldn’t lose a whole lot defensively going from Bynum to Okafor. Add that onto Paul manning the point and you’d supercharge our offense while maintaining our top five defense.

  13. Update on Chris Paul: http://es.pn/9kTiUd

    Apparently he doesn’t want to go to the Lakers after all…

  14. We’ll have a new post up soon on the CP3 speculation. You can go wild in this thread or the next one – But those are the ONLY THREADS where trade specualation will live for this topic. I hope everyone will respect that. Thank you, all. As Zephid said, nothing is even being reported besides a supposed list and now even that list is being contradicted. So, there is no hard evidence of anything relating Paul to the Lakers. That said, it’s the Summer. We’ll have some fun with this for a minute or two…

  15. The Lakers should trade lamar and Sasha for CP3. But do you trade the 2nd best Center in the NBA for the 2nd best PG? I say no only because there are about 27 star PG’s in the NBA and only a few star Centers.

    ********************************************************
    Btw… Theo Ratcliff just took a physical in Inglewood… and if he passes will be signing with the Lakers to be their back up Center within the next 24 hours.

  16. Shamelessly stolen from the Silver Screen and Roll thread.

    “Andrew Bynum, Sasha Vujacic, and two first rounders (and Ebanks, Caracter, or both) for Paul and James Posey.

    OR

    Andrew Bynum, Sasha Vujacic, Luke Walton, and two first rounders (and Ebanks, Caracter, or both) for Paul and Emeka Okafor.”

    The Emeka Okafur trade makes a lot of sense to me. Okafur has played 82 games the last three seasons in a row, has not had three knee injuries in the last five years, has career averages of 13 points and 10 rebounds per game, is 6’10” and comes FULLY LOADED with a BEST POINT GUARD IN THE LEAGUE included.

    Okafur can give us 75% of what Bynum could give us. I’d have a hard time passing up giving up an extremely injury prone big man for the best point guard in the league when you’re also getting a VERY serviceable big man back in the deal.

  17. None of the deals above are good enough for NO. They hold all the cards here; they have no reason to trade CP3, really, unless they get a Godfather offer.

    The only trade that I can see remotely happening is:

    Paul, Okafor, and Posey for

    Bynum, Odom, Vujacic, Caracter, 2012 #1, and cash.

    If NO is going to trade Paul, they’re going for prospects and cap relief. Bynum and Caracter are the prospects, Odom is a stopgap until he becomes cap space in 2011, and Vujacic is, of course, cap space. NO also sheds their two worst, non-expiring contracts, Emeka Okafor’s 4 yr, $52M albatross and 2 yr, $13M for James Posey’s Corpse.

    You have to remember, this trade has to clearly favor the Hornets, or else they’ve got no reason to trade Paul. They have no reason to give him away for nothing and they have no reason to take back any horrible contracts (so no Luke Walton).

    Frankly, I think the Lakers say “no” to the above trade. But I also think NO says, “hell friggin’ no” to most of the trades above.

  18. When the Chris Paul ‘Power Play’ was first announced, it Shocked me to find out that one of the Teams that he was Pushing to be Traded to was our Lakers (along with the Knicks & Magic). My reasoning was for the fact that he recently hired Lebron’s ‘Management Team’, led by Maverick Carter, to work with him in some type of capacity (not clear if it’s as his Agent or just Managerial). Being that he’s now being Advised by ‘Bron’s ‘Team’, I concluded that there’s No Way in Hell that they would ‘Allow/Persuade’ him to Force a Trade to the Lakers. I came to this conclusion because, IMO, one of the Main Reasons why ‘Bron decided to ‘Robin’ himself (along with Bosh) and join Wade down in Miami, was for the Purpose of Stopping Kobe from getting So Far away in ‘The Rings’ Department. He feels that if Kobe goes on ahead & wins another 1 or 2 ‘Chips (before he gets his first), Kobe would be Out of Reach & he (‘Bron) wouldn’t be able to catch/let alone, surpass him. Remember that during the 1 hour ‘Ego Massage’, one of the Host (I can’t recall if it was Wilbon or Stu Scott) asked ‘Bron if there was any Truth to the Rumor that he (‘Bron) told Confidants that he wanted to Put Together a Team that could Immediately Defeat the Lakers. Of course ‘Bron denied it, but with that being said, why would ‘Bron’s ‘Team’ basically go against the grain & support a movement of Paul to L.A.? That would be Defeating the Purpose of having ‘Bron head down to Miami. Correct? So now, this morning, it’s being reported (by ‘Bron’s Media Caddy nonetheless, Chris Broussard) that the initial report was incorrect, but only in regards to the Teams that Paul would like to be shipped to. As stated earlier, the original teams were N.Y., Orlando or L.A. Now the Blazers and Mavericks have been added, but take a Guess @ which Team has been deleted. If your guess was our Lakers, you happen to be 100% Correct. Hmm, I wonder why?

  19. I think Paul is interesting because NO doesn’t need a PG back – they have a solid core with Collison, Thornton, and David West. I’d love to see him go to NY – as a fan, Paul running D’Antoni’s system with Amare will be fun to watch. And as a Lakers fan, let’s keep him off Dallas and Portland.

    I don’t really see a good offer out there
    Gortat, Carter and Ryan Anderson?
    Danilo, Chandler and Curry?
    Beaubois and Butler?
    Although Oden, Batum, and Bayless are interesting Portland has no salary (read: expiring contracts) to offer.

    I think it’s more like Kobe’s situation, at least right now. What can NO really get in return?

  20. So GOB turns into Gasol & Okafor? That proposal makes no sense for the Lakers either. Trade the best frontline in the league for a guard who doesn’t fit in the offense? Even with Kobe, Gasol and a slightly better Gary Payton, hell no. There’s no way Paul’s coming to the Lakers. Let’s see if he can force his way into Orlando and watch as the Magic decimate the three kings.

  21. good bigs>good smalls

  22. he doesn’t fit into the triangle? that’s where you’re all wrong. he actually is a great shooter, and last year, he shot 40 percent from 3. thats better than fish, and most of our team already. hes also an insanely good defender.

    if anything, he adds to the triangle. he can do things that no other pg has done for the lakers. and whoever compared him to payton, thats just wrong man. by the time gary came to the lakes, he had no juice left, and couldn’t shoot to save his life.

    lets think of our future for a moment. the nba has moved away from a big man dominating league, and more into a game in which 1’s and 2’s control practically all facets of the game. cp3 is 25. he could be the best pg in the nba for the next 10 years…and bynum, well, who knows.

    okafor is a great rebounder,and pretty good defender as well. lets not forget about that

  23. I have to make this point because everyone reports it:

    The Triangle Offense does NOT destroy a PGs impact!!!

    The Triangle is great at getting the ball into hands of multi-talented players. So the triangle has not NEEDED a pg, because its been run by Jordan and Pippen, Kobe and Shaq, or Kobe and Pau. All great players, all great passers.

    But if you had a great pg, you could still have the ball in his hands. A great passer like Paul, with the triangle’s spacing, would be terrifyingly effective.
    Maybe Paul doesn’t average 12 assists a game, but its easy to see Kobe, Paul, Gasol, and Odom average around 4-6 assists a game.

    I am not saying Lakers should trade for Paul – I am just pointing out that great passers always thrive in the triangle.

  24. Aaron (number 16), where did you hear that Theo Ratliff rumor?

  25. All:

    CP3 is represented by the same brain dead idiots that “advised” LeBron that his ESPN show would be a good idea.

    If CP3 truly wants to “contend for a title” then he needs to be eying LA, Boston, Miami or Chicago. Given that none of these destinations can make it work salary wise, then his only other options are teams like the Nicks, Portland, Dallas that, although may make the playoffs, are unlikely to go very deep given that they would have to give up 2-3 solid contributors in exchange for 1 superstar.

    So, if these morons at LMLR or whatever they are called had any brains, they would advice CP3 that the best thing he can do is (1) get healthy, (2) get some MVP like numbers and (3) wait at least another year and see if the market and the championship caiber teams have room for him.

  26. Love Chris Paul. But he’s not the right fit for the Lakers.

    They have shown that their front court size is something no team can counter. Yet half the teams in the West have guards who can stay close to CP3. So why go away from a clear strength to bring yourself back to the pack?

    Phil’s won 11 rings and has never had an exceptional point guard on that road. Honestly, does Kobe or Pau need a PG to get them points? No. But they need guys to help them on the boards and on defense.

    Bynum is the best fit for L.A. in this equation.

  27. TT,
    Its not a rumor… I can’t give up my sources

  28. CP3 can fit into the triangle, but I wonder if he would want to. If his game is dribble penetration and dish or shoot, does that fit within the triangle offense? He seems like a more (much more) talented version of Farmar.