From Joey, Straight Bangin: What are the team’s biggest strengths? Apositional players neither qualified to play point guard nor big enough to guard opposing centers. Raymond Felton is a point guard. So is Sergio Rodriguez, I guess. (Doesn’t matter what he is; he’s in Spain.) Mozgov is a center. Eddy Curry is an expiring contract in a center’s body. That’s it. The rest of the roster is unintentionally participating in the much-heralded Positional Revolution. No one else on the team is a classic anything. Some don’t have the bodies for what they do. Others don’t have the skills for their bodies. And then some more are uniquely situated. Amare, for example, can block shots like a center, rebound like a power forward, and shoot that pick-and-pop jumper like a small forward. Similarly, Toney Douglas has the size of a point but the game of a shooter and is sort of just a guard. The roster is composed of these players almost indiscriminately: starters like Danilo Gallinari and reserves like Bill Walker will be deployed across multiple lineups. On offense, this will be a boon for the Knicks, as the roster appears versatile enough to threaten nearly any defense. This is the kind of flexible outfit with which Mike D’Antoni has had success in the past. These Knicks will far exceed the recent predecessors in their scoring potential, offensive execution, and aesthetic appeal.
From Tim Lewis, Indy Cornrows: What Significant Moves were made during the off-season? Over the past few off-seasons the Pacers have had a lot of turnover on their roster in an effort to make changes while being cash-strapped with little to no salary cap space. This past summer, the team made fewer roster changes but the significance of those changes was much larger. Consistent double-double contributor, Troy Murphy was sent to New Jersey in a four-team deal that brought second-year point guard Darren Collisonto the Pacers along with veteran forward James Posey. Collisonfills the Pacers’ desperate need at point guard, since T.J. Ford has struggled with the Pacers and is now in the final year of his contract. Collison should help solidify the position for the future along with reserve A.J. Price. Moving Troy Murphy also impacts the Pacers greatly. No longer will the team’s power forward be trailing the break to line up a three-pointer. The remaining power forwards are more athletic players that can get out and lead the break instead of floating around the three-point line. This will also force Jim O’Brien to alter his coaching strategy without a stretch four like Murphy to increase the volume of three point shots. But missing Murphy’s consistent double-double production will be difficult to replace.
From Andy Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: During our ESPN LA.com Media Day broadcast, there may have been no more interesting — and potentially controversial — exchange than one involving Andrew Bynum. By then, it was old news his offseason knee surgery revealed more damage than expected and his anticipated absence during the preseason could extend into the regular season. Bynum is targeting late-November for his return. Delaying surgery until mid-July to accommodate an overseas vacation was endorsed by Phil Jackson and the front office alike, as all signs pointed towards a relatively minor procedure and rehab.
From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: Saturday at media day, Andy and I managed to speak with just about everyone on the squad. Just about. Never happy to tolerate loose ends, I caught up after Tuesday’s practice with one of the guys who, in a surprisingly savvy, veteran move, escaped our broadcast table: rookie forward/center Derrick Caracter. Q: So a few days in, is this what you were expecting? Derrick Caracter: Definitely. I’m out here playing, and they say [Phil Jackson] likes to condition with basketball activities, so that’s what we’ve been doing, and I’ve just been trying to take it a day at a time, and compete, and play as hard as I can. Q: Has your approach changed knowing Andrew Bynum is going to miss some time? DC: No, but I know that I have to be even more prepared now, with possibly playing more minutes. I really have to focus in on all the different options. I know the triangle, but all the options, the reverses, and the lingo- how he says it- I just have to keep continuing to work at it and pick it up.
From Mark Medina, Los Angeles Times: Once the Lakers break from their team huddle, the team goes its separate ways. Some go to the training room for treatment. Some linger and address media. And then others get a head start on the L.A. traffic. Rookies Derrick Caracter and Devin Ebanks, however, are still in the gym. They pick up towels and water bottles. They put the basketballs back on the rack. And they pick up any loose items on the gym and coaches’ desk (Ebanks was so devoted during Wednesday’s practice that he sneaked onto the court just as a whistle blew during a scrimmage to pick up a small piece of paper). The Lakers didn’t have any rookies last season, so they’re enjoying the extra service (“There’s no question it’s great to have some rookies this year,” Lakers guard Derek Fisher said). Ebanks and Caracter join a veteran-laden, two-time defending championship team, so they figure beyond their work ethic they have something to offer. (“Whatever they ask us to do,” Caracter said. “We’ll do them.”)
From Broderick Turner, Los Angeles Times: OK, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said with a smile after practice Tuesday, call Lamar Odom “our handyman.”?And this will be another season in which Odom plays the handyman role in the frontcourt.?With center Andrew Bynum rehabilitating his surgically repaired right knee, and with Pau Gasol moving to center, Odom will start at power forward when the Lakers open the regular season Oct. 26 against the Houston Rockets.?But that’s nothing new for the 6-foot-10 Odom.??He started the first 11 regular-season games last season when Gasol was out with a hamstring injury. In all, Odom started 38 games last season.?”That’s the strength of my game, is to be able to play anywhere on the court,” Odom said. “That’s what I look forward to doing the most.”
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: Phil Jackson hasn’t even wanted to bring his team to Honolulu for previous Lakers training camps, so heading overseas to London and Barcelona left him calling the start of this camp “a bust” even before it began. Jackson believes more work gets done with better focus at the team’s headquarters. (By the way, once Jackson does finally go out the door and stay out, you can bet the Lakers will be back to train in Jerry Buss’ beloved Honolulu again, probably in 2012.) But the Lakers are getting seven practices in over six days at home before their 5:25 p.m. flight to London on Thursday, at least. They’ll play exhibitions Monday in London against the Minnesota Timberwolves (12 p.m. Pacific live broadcast on KSPN/710, 7 p.m. Pacific delayed telecast on KCAL/9) and Oct. 7 in Barcelona against Regal FC Barcelona (11:30 a.m. Pacific live broadcast on KSPN/710, 7 p.m. Pacific delayed telecast on KCAL/9). Both games are sold out.
From Robert Baptista, Silver Screen and Roll: Sasha Vujacic might be the most hated player in the NBA. Well, maybe that’s Vince Carter, but Sasha’s definitely the most annoying. Unfortunate, but true. I don’t come across any fans of other teams who like him at all, and honestly, there aren’t too many Lakers fans who still like him either. They can tell you about the one-man full court press that usually results in the Lakers getting in early foul trouble to start the second and fourth quarters. Or the arguments with teammates and coaches. The Steve Nash-like finger-lick-hair-fixing thing. Then the outside shot that’s become terribly inconsistent. Oh, and did I mention he’s making $6 million per year for all of this? Therein lies the real problem. The money he got paid versus the player he’s become.
From Dave McMenamin, ESPNLA: he last two shots he attempted in the last game of last season — two free throws with 11.7 seconds left and the outcome of Game 7 against the Boston Celtics hanging in the balance — found nothing but net. Now, more than three months later, most of the first shots Sasha Vujacic has put up through the first three days of Lakers training camp are doing the same. “Sasha was like the hero today. Sasha made all his shots,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said about Vujacic. With Kobe Bryant out while recovering from right knee surgery, Vujacic continued to play with the first-team unit of Derek Fisher, Lamar Odom, Ron Artest and Pau Gasol. The team ended practice with organized eight-minute scrimmages with officials and scoreboard on and everything, and Vujacic’s team won 29-10 in the one session that was open for the media.
From Nadya Avakian, Lakers Nation: Nobody causes the occasional head-scratch gesture more than Lamar Odom. The 6-foot-10, 230-pound forward’s passing ability, length and instincts on the boards, attack off the dribble and transition game make him capable of putting up hall of fame type numbers on a nightly basis. There’s just one problem—he doesn’t. The one constant you’ll find in regards to Odom is fans constantly wanting to grab and shake him until he gets that he’s better than the once in a blue moon 20/10/5 stat line. The reality is Odom isn’t ever going to have that killer instinct mentality. He’s mellow, deferent and goes with the flow. It’s that same personality, however, that integrates so well with this current Lakers squad.