Lakers Continue To Fill Needs

Darius Soriano —  July 23, 2010

May 24, 2010 - Boston, MASSACHUSETTS, UNITED STATES - epa02171441 Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett (L) and Orlando Magic forward Matt Barnes (R) grapple with each other in the third quarter of the Eastern Conference final round playoff game at the TD Bank Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, 24 May 2010. The Celtics lead the best-of-seven series 3-0 and the winner will advance to play either the Los Angeles Lakers or the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals.

Coming into this off-season the Lakers had a shopping list of needs to fill.  It sounds strange to say this about a team that just won its second consecutive championship, but it was true.  The team had 6 free agents at every position on its roster that it could potentially lose and while the Lakers have (rightfully so) been considered top heavy in its talent, losing that many players – even from the bottom half of the roster – is something that needs to be addressed and (hopefully) done in a way where the team actually improves.  Well, after the Lakers signed Matt Barnes and Theo Ratliff to contracts on Thursday, the Lakers have done just that.  At this point, the Lakers have added Steve Blake, Barnes and Ratliff via free agency and drafted Devin Ebanks and Derrek Caracter to replace the departing Jordan Farmar, Adam Morrison, Josh Powell, and DJ Mbenga.  When you look at the additions and measure them against the subtractions, I don’t think anyone can argue that the Lakers have upgraded their roster.  And while we’ve given you our thoughts on Blake and have explored the games of Ebanks and Caracter, we’ve yet to touch on yesterday’s additions.  So, here we go…

Matt Barnes is the marquee add; the player that still had interest on the market from a variety of teams and nearly every contender that is still looking to complete their roster (Miami and Boston especially).  This speaks to Barnes’ value as a player and the skill set that he brings to the table.  In essence, Matt Barnes is a very similar player to Ron Artest, just less talented overall.  That’s not a knock on Barnes as Ron is one of the more talented two way players in the league that possesses an all around game that can thrive in a system like the Lakers run.  So, while Barnes may be a step down in talent, he’s still a fine player that will help the Lakers in a variety of ways.

Barnes is a good shooter (last season: 48.7% FG, 57.6 TS%) that has the ability to get hot from beyond the three point arc.  He’s a dogged defender that uses his good size and length to body offensive players and effectively contest shots while restricting their movement around the court.  Barnes is a capable ball handler and an adequate passer that has a good feel for the game.  He’s an excellent rebounder (ranked 2nd among SF in total rebound rate for those playing 20+ minutes) and does have a nose for the ball both off the glass and when loose in the open court.  And most of all, Barnes plays hard.  He’s a competitor.  He rarely takes possessions off and will fight the opposition for the ball and for court space all while furiously trying to do the right thing.  Like I said, this guy reminds me a lot of Artest and at the salary that the Lakers signed him for, I think the team has gotten extraordinary value and found a very nice piece to help complete a roster that will once again compete for the NBA championship.

However, there are negatives with Barnes’ play.  If he was only the player that I described above, he would have been one of the most sought after (role player type) free agents on July 1st, not a player that signed for a fraction of the mid-level exception on July 22nd.  Essentially, Barnes is the ultimate double-edged sword player as nearly every positive trait he exhibits can also be taken a step too far and turned into a potential negative. 

As I mentioned, Barnes is a capable shooter and can get hot, but he’s not a consistent player from behind the arc and has shot 32.9% from 3 point range for his career.  And despite that low-ish percentage, Barnes has still found a way to average two and a half attempts from that range a game for his career.  Two years ago he shot over 4 a game while with the Suns and 4 years ago he took nearly four a game with the Warriors.  So, shot selection is a question mark for Matt.  I also mentioned that Barnes is a dogged defender that plays hard, but there are times when his effort crosses the line from playing hard and scrappy, to being rough and on the line of dirty.  He’s not always been the best at containing his anger and has earned his fair share of technical fouls.  I also mentioned Barnes’ ball handling and decision making being solid, but he is a turnover prone player that at times will look to make the complex play rather than the simple one.

None of this is to say that Barnes is a bad player.  I like him a great deal and have followed his career pretty closely since his time with the Warriors.  It’s just to say that we must all understand the player that has been signed and how he’ll help and where there may be areas of concern.  And while I wanted Raja Bell over Barnes when the Lakers were intially looking to add a back up wing, I think Barnes is a great get and that he’ll add a physical toughness and desire to win that every championship team needs when they’re looking to repeat.  Barnes will help the Lakers bench a great deal and I can already envision him getting hot in some games and Phil staying with him over Artest if Ron is in a funk on that particular night.  Remember, Phil is the master of putting players in position to succeed and with Barnes being a veteran player that is used to playing 20-25 minutes a night, it’s easy to foresee there being nights where it’s Barnes that closes out the game as Ron gets an extended rest.

As for Ratliff, I think the Lakers have done very well for themselves with this signing.  However, my opinion on this is shaped by role and expectation.  Ratliff is not a difference maker.  He’s not a 20 minute a night player that will score in double digits when given extra burn or grab 12 rebounds in 25 minutes of play where Bynum/Pau are out of action or in foul trouble.  But, Ratliff is a guy that will exude professionalism and will be ready to play when his number is called.  He’ll play smart, tough basketball and will defend the opposing big that he’s asked to mark and do it to the best of his ability.  He’ll play to his strengths and that means defending the paint and deferring to his teammates on offense.  And for a 4th or 5th big man, this is exactly what the Lakers were looking for.  Remember, the Lakers still have the Gasol/Bynum/Odom triumvirate in the front court.  If (and I know it’s a big if) all those guys are healthy, there aren’t many minutes available to any other big man on the Lakers roster and I think that’s exactly the way that most fans would have it.  So, while I would have loved  Kurt Thomas to sign on to play this role, the odds of that seemed to be getting slimmer by the day once all factors are considered.  So, really, I’m quite happy with Ratliff.  Yes he’s aged.  And no, he’s no longer the “plus” athlete roaming the paint that routinely averaged 3 blocks a game in his younger years.  But overall, when looking at this signing as the player that we hope can replace Mbenga and play some spot minutes on occasion, I think it’s a very good pick up.

So, we’re now at the point where the Lakers roster is nearly (if not already) complete.  After the Lakers ink their two 2nd round draft picks, they’ll have 13 players under contract – which is the same number that the team carried last year.  I will say, though, do not discount a return of Shannon Brown.  With Walton’s back injury looming and the want to reduce some of Kobe’s workload (he did play nearly 3 more minutes a night this past season than in 2009), bringing back the guard that actually backed up #24 isn’t a far fetched idea.  I understand that Sasha or Barnes could fill that role, but those aren’t gurantees especially with Sasha’s tendency to reside in Phil’s doghouse and Barnes’ (aforementioned) turnover issues.  We’ll see how this develops, though.  In the meantime, it’s time to celebrate again Lakers fans as this team just got better…again.  Saying that never gets old either.

Darius Soriano

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59 responses to Lakers Continue To Fill Needs

  1. I agree overall, but I think it’s hard to criticize Barnes for his three point shot selection on the Suns and Warriors. Both teams count as bit of an extenuating circumstance, yeah?

  2. If Luke could potentially be injured for a large portion of the season (as rumors suggest) that would enable Shannon to be the 13th guy, who already knows the triangle and will thrive with Steve Blake at PG. I can see both Shannon and Sasha splitting backup SG minutes seeing as how Phil keeps both in and out of his dog house.

  3. “Barnes is a good shooter (last season: 48.7% FG, 57.6 TS%) that has the ability to get hot from beyond the three point arc. He’s a dogged defender that uses his good size and length to body offensive players and effectively contest shots while restricting their movement around the court. Barnes is a capable ball handler and an adequate passer that has a good feel for the game.”

    – Just a quick FYI, when you describe someone’s traits, the correct way to do so is “the person who, the passer who, a shooter who…” and not “a defender that, a player that, etc.”

    That is used only to describe a thing (e.g. a “computer that…”). Sorry, I know it’s annoying, but this is a good blog and deserves decent grammar.

  4. Hearing that they are still looking to sign Shannon Brown is pretty shocking. I thought we had heard that this year the Lakers were supposedly in cost-cutting mode. They are actually going to have a payroll that exceeds last year’s! If they sign Shannon Brown, you are looking at something over 95 million compared to 91 million last year. Did they make so much money in the playoffs last year that they have determined that they can afford to pay over 25 million in luxury tax?

  5. Radmd

    YES

  6. A very solid write-up but I don’t think you accurately portay his shooting abilities.

    You mention that he isn’t a great 3 point shooter (32% last year) and he has a tendancy to shoot to much (roughly 4 per game 2 and 4 seasons ago). What you failed to see (or mention) was that the two seasons he took roughly 4 attempts per game were also the seasons he made 36.6% and 34.3% of his attempts (which would have made him one of the top 3pt shooters on the Lakers team last season) . The two seasons he struggled and shot 31.9% and 29.3% were the season he cut back the attempts to 2.5 per game, a reduction of almost 40%! Also, even with his struggles shooting the three at only 31.9% last season, his effective FG% (taking into account 3’s) was 57.6%. Where would that rank him on the Lakers? See hello to the #1 spot! That is right, Barnes was a more efficient scorer (taking into account 3’s) than ANY Laker last season. Using his eFG% from two seasons ago he would have ranked 4th so he isn’t the inefficient shooter you make him out to be.

    You are however spot on with regards to the turnovers. He turns the ball over in 15.3% of possessions and that would place him as tied for last with Odom as the Lakers most turnover prone players.

  7. A quick follow-up on the Shannon Brown possibility….

    One thing I haven’t heard mentioned yet is the possibility of Shannon or Sasha being traded before the deadline. The Lakers could bring back Shannon for under $2 Million and then let him and Sasha fight for the back-up SG spot. If Sasha can have a bounce-back year (it is a contract year after all) and shoot 40% from behind the line then Shannon won’t be needed at all and could move him to a team under the cap and give the other team cash considerations (basically paying the remainder of the salary). It would be a fairly cheap experiment.
    If Sasha fails to shoot the ball well and Shannon has a respectable season then the Lakers could look to move Sasha at the deadline (again give him away with cash considerations to a team under the cap like we did with Chris Mihm). The Lakers will have paid $5M for Sasha and another $1-$2 for Shannon but because Sasha’s contract won’t count towards the cap at the end of the season the Lakers will save $5M in tax. Basically instead of paying $10M for Sasha ($5M salary + $5M tax), they will paid only $8-9M for Sasha and Brown ($5M salary Sasha + $2-4M Salary + Tax Brown).

    It may be why the Lakers bring him back… if he outplays Sasha then they can move Sasha at the deadline to a team below the cap (giving the team money for the remainder of Sasha’s deal) and actually save $1 to $2 Million in the process.

  8. J Michael Mooney July 23, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    Finally a bench that will extend leads and at the same time limit Fish and Kobe’s minutes. All three new additions are hard nosed players that will defend and pick spots with open looks. Look for Barnes to lower his turnover ratio through the triple post offense. The lakers are not a running team. They are a opportunistic team that will run on turnovers and long rebounds.

    If Shannon re-signs, does that mean Luke Walton is out indefinatley? I guess we might want to read between the lines…

  9. Funky Chicken July 23, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Agree with both the post by Darius and the small nitpicks by some of the prior comments about Barnes’ shooting.

    There were a lot of people who dreaded the prospect of Ron Artest jacking up ill-advised shots when he signed last summer, and except for a few notable exceptions in the playoffs, Ron took VERY few of those kinds of shots.

    Players adjust their games for the teams they are on, and Barnes has played virtually his whole career on run and gun teams (or, with Orlando, offensively challenged teams that require players to shoot 3’s as part of the base offense).

    I am pretty confident that this guy will come in and do what he is told (he’s also never played with a guy of Kobe’s ability, or been coached by a legend…) and will keep the three point shooting to a reasonable number.

    To get Barnes for $1.7 million is really the bargain of the free agent frenzy this year. I can’t say enough about the job that Mitch has done this year, and when you read Darius’s list of guys who the Lakers are losing, and who we are bringing in, it is downright scary for the rest of the league. It’s gonna be fun, that’s for sure….

  10. Matt Barnes, at 1.7 million and the Lakers 8TH MAN (behind Blake and Odom) is a downright coup.

    Shanwow would be a great addition (no one wants to rely on Sasha). Hopefully he will choose the adoration and recognition of being a Laker (anyway he gets into the dunk contest, or a music video, if he’s still a bobcat?) over everything else.

    Blake, Sasha, Barnes, Odom and Bynum is legit in its own right as a second unit.

    I’m really impressed with what the Lakers have done this offseason. A lot of credit to Mitch and Buss for adding good players and payroll to keep this group going. Also, with Barnes, Odom, and Artest, we have a really eccentric group of guys that will be fun (and frustrating) to watch.

  11. ESPN reports that Luke could miss the whole season. The article also includes Mitch’s input that Shannon Brown is still seriously an option for the team.

    I like what Walter (7) had to say about Sasha and Shannon doging it out for backup sg, with the chance of a trade at the deadline. With this developing news about Luke I wouldn’t be suprised at all if we keep Ebanks and sign Shannon. Our SF depth chart is really full but Ebanks has too much promise to let go and Shannon has really helped in the past where our new aquositions can’t that well.

  12. I don’t know if it’s been mentioned already but it seems that if Spain wins the gold medal in 1012 he may retire from the National team.

  13. Haha, I meant 2012

  14. The ESPN article about Luke:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/los-angeles/nba/news/story?id=5405069

    Sounds pretty serious.

  15. Really surprised by the signings of these two. I thought Barnes was going to get more money than what the Lakers could offer. And I just plain hadn’t thought about Ratliff til I saw the news.

    No dead-eye outside shooter signed this off-season, but I figure someone will step up on the roster compared to last season.

    @14 Bad news about Luke, dang man.

  16. Does anyone know what it would take for the Lakers to be able to writeoff Luke’s entire contract due to a career ending injury? 28 games last season and now potentially missing an entire season? I don’t know about you folks, but this sounds like a career ending thing to me.

  17. It’s too bad that Riles is a shoo-in for GM of the year this year, because I think Mitch has had an incredible off-season. When laying it out as Darius did, it really is astounding. Farmar/Ammo/Powell/DJ for Blake/Barnes/Ratliff/Ebanks/Caracter? Are you kidding me? In come the ideal backup PG and backup SF, a reliable vet big man, and two very promising draft picks, and out go a malcontent PG, a bust, a journeyman big, and a wannabe journeyman big. Kudos to Kupchak.

    As for Barnes and his shooting – he’s streaky, but overall he’s not a very good shooter. His FG% is deceiving because most of his points come from layups and putbacks. That said, he’s ideal for our backup unit. Like Blake, he is scrappy as hell on both ends of the court, and he has a nose for the ball on the boards. His ability to scrum for the ball under the basket, come up with it, and then finish, are what our 2nd team has needed for some time.

    Blake, Sasha/Brown, Barnes, and LO are a seriously good second unit, one that will defend and board like a mother, has enough shooting (especially if Sasha has finally found his stroke), and will most of all play hard and play with poise, which should mean that they extend many a lead, and give our regulars quality rest throughout the dregs of the regular season.

  18. For all those people who continue to call Sasha useless, which I think is wrong and way too harsh, here’s a take.

    http://www.silverscreenandroll.com/2010/7/23/1584381/player-report-card-sasha-vujacic

  19. @15 “No dead-eye outside shooter signed this off-season…”

    What would you say if I told you the Lakers signed a guy who is in the top 50 in NBA history for career 3pt%?

    Yep, Steve Blake (#44) at 39.27%… just behind Reggie Miller at 39.47%
    http://www.basketball-reference.com/leaders/fg3_pct_career.html

  20. As for Luke’s back injury – wow, I had no idea it was potentially that serious. I looked around a bit as to how insurance works for NBA contracts, and I got this from Larry Coon’s CBA FAQ:

    “Are player contracts insured?

    There is a league-wide policy that insures the contracts of around 150 players each season. The five most expensive contracts for each team are included, and teams have the option of submitting additional names for coverage. The carrier has the right to exclude 14 contracts per season, such as when they consider a player with a very large remaining contract to be a medical risk. For example they excluded Luol Deng in 2008-09 because he had $71 million remaining and a history of back injuries. The list of excluded players changes each year, so a player who is not covered one season might be covered the following season.

    If an insured player is disabled, then there is a 41 game waiting period, after which the insurance company will pay 80% of the guaranteed portion of the player’s base salary. Once a player is covered, the carrier can’t exclude the player for the remainder of his current contract.”

    FYI – Luke was 9th highest paid Laker last year, and will be the 7th highest paid this year, so his salary would not be automatically covered unless the Lakers had asked it to be.

  21. If Walton is out all season, re-signing Brown makes more sense.

  22. @MannyP

    I think Darius Miles’ situation from a few years ago is a good one to look into. They had an independent doctor say his knee was too damaged, and the Blazers were able to waive his contract.

    I would bet Luke’s contract is insured as well. Maybe that is why the Lakers are okay spending some extra money right now?

    It really depends if Luke wants to retire with this injury. Otherwise, he will just be on IR like any other player.

    Injured Player forced to retire
    http://members.cox.net/lmcoon/salarycap.htm#Q55

    Insurance rules
    http://members.cox.net/lmcoon/salarycap.htm#Q61

  23. i still don’t think we should waste money on brown.
    PG: Fisher, Blake
    SG: Kobe, Sasha
    SF: Artest, Barnes
    PF: Pau, Odom
    C: Andrew
    (assuming theo barely plays)

    Tha’ts a long enough rotation (9 people, 10 if u count theo). There is absolutely no need for another person unless a) someone get injured b) Sasha gets traded or c) 1 of the new players cannot fit in at all.

  24. Lakers will need to sign Brown because Walton will be out next year. Go read between the lines when Mitch talks about Walton:

    “The most important thing is that Luke make the correct decision for his life, not for basketball,” he said. “The aging process of a healthy athlete is difficult enough as it is. So we counsel Luke, and our trainers do, to try to keep the big picture in the forefront of any decision. But like most young players they want to play. Sometimes they don’t [listen.]”

    If that doesn’t translate to, “For the Love of GAWD, Luke, please, PLEASE retire so we can all move on with our lives!” then I don’t know what does.

    The Lakers are still in talks to sign Shannon Brown because they need to carry 13 players on their roster, and right now, it doesn’t appear that Luke is going to be one of those 13 players.

    In all seriousness, I feel really bad for Luke and his painful back condition. I hope he gets the surgery he requires so he can alleviate the pain. But it’s clear the Laker organization would prefer he just retire so they can move on, and I don’t blame them.

  25. Lakers Fan,
    The problem is that the Lakers are required to carry 13 players. If Luke is on IR he may be considered the 13th player, but the Lakers may be able to get him removed from the salary cap calculation if he is gone for the year. Eliminating $5M from the cap and adding $2M may be more economical for the Lakers. If they were to do this I suspect they would want to add someone familiar with the system, if possible.

  26. Great pick up by Kupchak. Barnes is a solid shooter from behind the arc and he is a great perimeter defender. This will allow Artest and Kobe to get some rest during the regular season and keep them fresh for a run at another championship! Go Lakers!

  27. burgundy:

    without luke we already have a 9-10 player rotation. why brown?

  28. Lakers fan:

    They need to have a 13 man roster. Unless they can have one of the players be on IR (Luke), they would need to sign someone else.

  29. I really would not underestimate Caracter seeking an overseas contract. He can only make 500k or so in the NBA. He is probably getting big offers from Euro teams. Remember, he was ranked by most in the top 5 summer league players.

  30. For the 5.8 MLE, we snatched up Blake & Barnes. Basically, 2 for the price of 1.

    Also, we need to take into account the fact that both Barnes & Blake were Starters last season for their respective teams (Blake initially started for the Blazers, before ‘Dre Miller started complaining). So now we have 3 Players, (Barnes, Blake & LO) who can easily Start for other teams, coming off of Our Bench. Gotta Love It.

    In Barnes, we have an individual who can not only guard his position, (SF) but can also slide over and defend Shooting Guards & periodically, Point Guards (depending on the Body Type/Athleticism. PG’s such as Kidd & ‘Dre Miller come to mind). And for all of those who are worried about him Fitting In or being Problematic, weren’t those the same concerns we had last Summer regarding the arrival of Ron Ron. Look how that turned out.

    Can’t forget ’bout the acquisition of Ratliff. Even @ this point of his Career, he’s still a defensive Presence & didn’t look too bad actually when he was called upon to start Several games for the Bobcats last season. Bottom line is that considerin’ what Powell & Congo Cash gave us last year, TR will be an Upgrade.

    All n All, it has been a Great Summer for us & My Hat goes off to Mr. Kupchak. I Salute You.

  31. Considering how often Sasha has been in Phil’s doghouse, it seems likely that Sasha will not be re-signed after his contract expires. Signing Brown will fill out the backup SG position beyond next season. Signing Brown will also give the team the option of trading Sasha before the trade deadline if he (or anybody else) does not perform, or if there are injuries to the roster.

  32. Walton`s status seems to be a big mystery. When did he suffer the injury?What is the diagnosis,and does he need surgery? If he needs surgery,how long will he be out? Without answers,it`s impossible to tell if we need to add player#14,or can stand at 13. Kobe did say about his finger,that he could not go thru another season without doing something about it.

  33. Brown is a must for “Crowd Appeal” just like Rony and Trevor before him. We need our dunks!!!

    Best of luck to Luke. We will miss him as much as he misses layups. Maybe a little bit less.

  34. DY, not sure if he can accept oversea contracts when we have the rights to him (drafted). Or does that not matter a bit?

    As for the Luke article, is it just me or is Mitch strongly advising Luke to ‘do what’s best for him at his age’ and retire? The quotes in that article seemed as if Luke wanted to play or stay in uniform, while the med staff and everyone else is basically telling him that he is finished.

    That would be the only reason why we are still talking with Shannon Brown, I’d think.

  35. David Kahn,

    Be quiet.

    Thanks.

  36. Harold (34), I’m pretty sure we keep the rights as we drafted them, but if they don’t agree to terms, I believe they are free to play overseas. It’s just that when they come Stateside, we still retain the rights to sign them.

    Our team has to offer a tender (which is a 1 year contract offer) by September to keep the rights. Trust me, this is actually a good problem to have (drafting a 2nd rounder late and having them become a good player).

    I think our chances for keeping Shannon may be increasing every day. Apparently Mitch has extended an offer to Brown and it’s up to him to find a better offer or stay.

  37. Kobe had successful knee surgery last week:

    http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2010/07/kobe-bryant-has-knee-surgery-last-week-will-be-ready-to-go-for-camp.php

    I wonder what he is going to do with his finger. I hope that he finds a solution that at least makes it manageable for him to play with since it appears that the finger is going to a problem for him for the rest of his life.

    As for the original post, I like the idea of Theo as a mentor to Andrew. Theo was a great defensive player throughout his career and still a decent shot blocker. I think that this would be a great learning opportunity to Andrew to round out his two-way game.

    A 10-man rotation (assuming Shannon is re-signed) will make the Lakers that much more difficult to beat.

    The most irritating thing I found about the Lakers last season was the amount of blown leads that the team had. It was pretty much guaranteed that with a 15 pt or less game, Kobe would come back in the 6 minute mark because the bench would play sloppy defense and isolationist offense. Additionally, the bench after Lamar was not very good.

    Having Steve Blake as the first guard off the bench with Lamar and Barnes spelling any of the 4 other starters is pretty great. The drop-off from starters to the bench will not be nearly as steep. Barnes as mentioned by Darius is the lite version of Artest. Steve Blake at this point is better than Derek Fisher, so it would seem the Lakers would in fact improve with Blake in the game over Fish.

    Mitch has done a great job this off-season, but Dr. Jerry Buss deserves a lot of props for the choices he has made. He has increased payroll in a tumultuous economic environment when he easily could have stood pat with the current team. He sought to improve the team, improving on already elite squad.

    Great Fisher article:

    http://www.ocregister.com/sports/anyway-259155-fisher-hawthorne.html

    I do not like WordPress. It has a personal vendetta against me to not allow any of my posts to go through.

  38. 27

    “without luke we already have a 9-10 player rotation. why brown?”

    Because your projected rotation includes Sasha Vujacic, who has had one decent season in 6 years. Brown isn’t perfect but he’s done a lot more to earn a spot in the rotation than Sasha.

  39. I’m hoping that the Lakers find a way tio bring ShanWOW back–and I think that they will. The coaching staff reportedly found ShanWOW very coachable, repeatedly choosing him over Sasha to back up Kobe during the regular season. We won’t know how much his thumb injury affected his three point shooting last season, but with Blake at point guard, Shannon’s offensive percentages should clearly improve.

    There will be times during the regular season when Shannon’s speed will be helpful to the team. I doubt that he will merely spend the season on the bench.

  40. Priorities:

    1) Make Kobe’s right index finger healthy enough so he doesn’t have to rap the thing like a UPS package.

    2) Sign Shannon Brown so the announcers don’t have to mislead us when they say “Lakers” and “Fastbreak” in the same sentence.

    3) Sign the two rookies so we can fill the Powell/Mbenga spot. (Which ever one Ratliff didn’t fill.) Also, so Ebanks can get some quality “Adam Morrison ChestBump” training in before he becomes a quality SF in the NBA.

    4) X off the calender until the historic season will begin!

  41. so if we dont sign shannon, i suppose there is a chance blake will play some 2. Not sure he can defend the bigger guards though

  42. Kobe’s finger:
    Kobe himself said he has very little control over the finger and it must be wrapped or it will just get in the way. Chuck Person helped teach him to shoot with his index finger as the guide and his ball rotation improved. I don’t know about the broken little finger, but I think it has healed about as well as it ever will. This is Kobe – from here on in. Ain’t it grand!

  43. I think that after the Heat (obviously), then the Bulls, the Lakers have had the next best off-season in the league. I’m very satisfied with the moves they made…and even more impressed it all came on their terms. No over-paying.

  44. Value. That’s what I’m taking from this off-season. Mitch upgraded the bench while infusing it with a nice blend of youth and experience. And in Blake’s case, championship experience (high school and college). Working with only second round picks, a MLE, and Veteran’s Minimum, he maximized his tools.

    Jerry West always believed in making some changes to a championship team to keep it from getting stale. Mitch learned from his mentor.

  45. There’s a rumor that Lamar is a lock for Team USA

    http://tinyurl.com/26o2skx

    Hope to watch him play in tonight’s scrimmage at 10PM ET on ESPN2

    http://tinyurl.com/2a7zbmc

  46. One factor that has not been discussed, is the retention of Ebanks and Caracter on the team, to infuse in them the hunger and work ethic to be a viable member of a championship team.

    Ebanks and Caracter’s role on this team is solely in their hands, the amount of playing time that they receive will depend upon each player’s work ethic and basketball IQ! During summer league they received rudimentary triangle sets, that will put them ahead of Barnes, Blake and The “R” on the offensive end.

    These guys need to be around the team, getting the vets luggage and snacks, that’s what builds camaraderie and the desire to be productive on the court so that one day that player will be able to pass down the same treatment to the rookies that come after them.

    Matt Barnes will quickly become a fan favorite! The guy will be on a team with champions and will only improve on his skills, just think, his game improved each year that he has been in the league and he’s been a journeyman.

    Now, if we can only get he and Kobe together this summer, so that Kobe’s shooting workout improves Matt Barnes 3pt shot a la Trevor Ariza’s did when he worked out with Kobe.

    Shannon Brown is a necessity to brink back (as long as Buss is willing to pay him, I’m all for it)! Also, until Blake is fully integrated into the offense, the Lakers will need as many players as possible whom are already acclimated to the triangle and the core players.

    Phil’s offense is not designed for first year players to grasp, thus the high learning curve in second year players. As such, Brown should improve immensely, as well as Ron-A!

  47. For basically the same salary (about $5+ mil), Mitch replaced Ammo with Blake and Barnes. Now THAT’S an upgrade!

  48. Warren Wee Lim July 24, 2010 at 11:09 am

    I too must say I love what we have done. Guys have to consider that we don’t get nearly all we have on our wishlist, I know ya’ll loved GayHair Miller better than Blake.

    But if you have to consider the circumstances, our situation and everything else in between, you gotta be kidding me if you said you don’t like Blake + Barnes over GayHair.

    Theo was someone that hadn’t crossed my mind either, but considering the circumstances, again, we aced this summer.

    No these moves won’t get Kuppy the GMOY over Riles aka Sauron, but its these subtle moves that make or break a championship squad, esp ones that plan to win 3 more.

    Consecutive.

  49. Warren Wee Lim July 24, 2010 at 11:10 am

    And I cannot post anything Darius.

  50. The signings of Blake, Barnes, and Ratliff and picking Ebanks and Caracter have one thing in common–good defense. I love the fact that we replaced poor defensive players, Farmar, Powell, Ammo, and Mbenga (though he does block shots) with more defensive minded players. Last season, we blew a lot of leads because our bench players would lose focus on defense and allow other teams to score 10-12 quick and easy points. I don’t think we’ll have that problem with this unit. With Blake controlling the tempo and running the triangle offense and the rest of the guys playing solid D overall, we’ll only need one of big three offensive players (Kobe, Pau, and Bynum) to play with this unit to keep the lead or extend the lead. With Blake, Brown, Barnes, Odom, and Ratliff, we have a potentially a devastating defensive team that can go out and run after TOs or blocked shots. I can see our veterans getting a plenty of rest unlike this past year provided that team stays healthy. At this point, anything that Sasha, Ebanks, and Caracter can provide will be truly luxury. Even if Ratliff can play 10 solid minutes, we would get much better contribution than we did from Mbenga and Powell combined.

    Furthermore, looking into the Finals match up with the Evil Heat, we now have Kobe, Barnes, and Artest (even Ebanks) to throw at Wade and Lebron. I must say that I like our depth as we won’t lose much defensive ability when our starters get in foul troubles.

    Mitch really exceeded my expectation this offseason. I would have said that it would have been a good summer to sign Fisher, Blake and Shannon. Signing Barnes, Ratliff, and drafting two serviceable second rounders is just about PERFECT!

    Well done, Mitch. Well done!

  51. Ammo>Blake+Barnes!!!

    actually, that’s a great point. much better way to spend the same money.

    we got some great contracts now. i think only Luke’s contract is bad at this point. Sasha’s isn’t so bad anymore because it’s expiring.

    hopefully we still get Shannon and this summer will go from an B+ to an A+ for Mitch. i was frustrated when we didn’t get Miller, but Blake+Barnes for the MLE is better given our needs.

  52. I think the Lakers have done a great job, picking up some physical players and toughen up the bench. The bench is no doubt better than last year, and the Lakers should be ready to make another run for the 3-peat. As far as competition goes, I think Miami still needs more pieces to be successful. So at the end of the day LAL>MIA, check out my article for more http://pardonmybias.com/lal-mia/

  53. “I don’t think anyone can argue that the Lakers have upgraded their roster” – you wrote the opposite of what you meant!

  54. New post is up comparing the Lakers bench to those of other potential contenders.

    http://www.forumblueandgold.com/2010/07/24/return-of-the-bench-mob/

  55. Two comments. First, I hope Matt Barnes doesn’t think he has to mix it up with every other team’s superstar. Simply rebounding the ball, playing quality defense and hitting the occasional timely shot will be enough.

    Secondly on Jordan Farmar. Jordan made some very impressive and important dribble penetration moves that broke down Boston’s defense which I think played an important role in making some cracks in an otherwise rock solid defense. Especially early in the series. I just thought he should be praised for that, I don’t know who else on this team now has the quickness to do that. Good luck Jordan!

    Peace.

  56. Love this off season Laker fans! Love it. It started with getting PJ back and re-signing DFish. Picking up Blake was awesome….he’ll definitely add hugely to the second and FIRST unit, resting Derek at times. The addition of Barnes-hard nose player and effective shooter, heel of a defender makes this a no brainer and so cheap (not that Barnes is cheap). He’s got passion -something the bench lacked big time last year. TR has always been a class player-he’ll add tremendous depth to the second unit and team overall. The rookies-can’t say enough about them…they’ll be more than fine-they’ll contribute just watch’um. What we need to see is Kobe getting that finger fixed. Andrew come back and STAY healthy, and the rest of the group, Ron, Lamar and Pau to keep on trucking. Signing Shannon is critical-Walton won’t play again this year-Shannon will be perfect-he already knows the triangle…and Phil. L.A. looks prime to repeat-a healthy injury free season and it’s a done deal. Chemistry is strong, the newbies will fit in. The culture is excellent. Man we’ve come a long from the Shaq – Kobe years of malcontent….

  57. Sorry for Barnes that’s hell of a defender.

  58. Gus Herrington July 27, 2010 at 11:01 am

    Lakers you gotta stay focus and you gotta stay hungry. Threepeat is not enough, we want all of the NBA champonships.

  59. you’ll got good stuff coming to the lakers one of you’ll number one fans and i love the lakers bye and i’m still you’ll number one fan and i’m only 12