Archives For September 2010

Apr. 14, 2010 - Los Angeles, California, U.S. - The Clippers' Travis Outlaw scores against the Lakers' Lamar Odom in the second half Wednesday. The Clippers won 107-91.

Today we continue our journey through all of the NBA Team Previews a little closer to home. There is only one preview on the Clippers and it will be followed by a collection of Lakers links. Enjoy.

From Steve Perrin, Clippers Nation: What Significant Moves were made during the off-season? The NBA off-season was dominated by mega-star free agents, in particular LeBron James.  When the Clippers unloaded Al Thornton and Sebastian Telfair at the trade deadline, they assured themselves of having enough money under the salary cap to pursue James or any other big name. Indeed, they were one of six NBA teams invited to make a pitch to LeBron and his minions.  But Neil Olshey and Andy Roeser probably never had a chance, their meeting lasted less than an hour, and LeBron eventually joined Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. Still sitting on a big pile of cash, the Clippers could turn their attentions to another free agent.  Who would it be?  Joe Johnson?  Rudy Gay?  How about Clips Nation favorite Josh Childress?  Nope.  Try Ryan Gomes, Randy Foye and Brian Cook.


From Gary Washburn, “The minute I heard Kobe [Bryant] say he had one more ring than Shaq, I said to Danny, ‘Let’s go get Shaq,’ and it happened,’’ said Grousbeck. “This is a very, very proud bunch of guys, the champions from ’08. And now with Jermaine and Shaq and Delonte, who haven’t been champions with us, this could be a good group. We’ve got huge challenges but we reloaded this summer. We really want banner No. 18.’’

From Jeff Miller, OC Register: We’re big enough here to admit when we’re wrong and, it turns out, there is now empirical proof we erred with Kobe Bryant. He is still superior to LeBron James. A survey released last week showed that Bryant remains the most disliked player in the NBA, the Laker again showing his renowned ability to close by holding off a fast-falling LeBron. The Q Scores Company reported that James, rocket-boosted by the manner in which he left Cleveland for Miami, went from being beloved to being a flesh-consuming virus. Based on how violently LeBron’s numbers shifted, he is now as popular as the recession.

From Though no stranger to hitting clutch shots in the playoffs – including his two massive three-pointers that won Game 4 of the 2009 Finals – Derek Fisher had never dominated a quarter before … until scoring 11 points in the fourth quarter of Game 3 to lead L.A. to a critical 91-84 victory. The biggest of Fisher’s clutch plays was an and-1 layup over through three converging Celtics with 48.3 seconds to go, giving L.A. a seven-point lead they’d preserve to take a 2-1 series lead and home court advantage back from Boston.

From Eoin Connolly, Los Angeles Lakers will make their first appearance in Europe for nearly twenty years after the NBA confirmed that the 2009 champions will join the New York Knicks and Minnesota Timberwolves for this year’s pre-season Europe Live Tour. The three teams will play two games each in the fifth edition of the tour, which tips off with a game between the Knicks and Armani Jeans Milano in Milan, Italy on 3rd October. The Lakers will play the Timberwolves at London’s O2 Arena on 4th October – the fourth game in four years at the Greenwich-based venue – before heading to Spain to play Regal FC Barcelona three days later. The Palais Omnisports Paris Bercy in Paris will host a game between the Knicks and the Timberwolves on October 6th.

From Mike Truddell, Basket Blog: Lakers second round picks Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter have been a constant, collective presence at the team’s practice facility since Labor Day, serving the dual purpose of learning Phil Jackson’s system and getting physically ready for training camp. Assistant coach Jim Cleamons was at the team’s facility on Friday continuing the off-season triangle offense instruction started in July by fellow assistant Chuck Person (pictured below), while strengh and conditioning chief Chip Schaefer continued to put the rooks through off-court drills and excercises. After a Friday morning session, Ebanks and Caracter joined us to discuss their first impressions of the organization, their days as AAU teammates, Tupac vs. Biggy and more:

From Kyle Stack, SLAM Online: Lamar Odom has been given many labels throughout his 11-season career — upcoming star, versatile, underachiever. At 30 years old, he can add another one. Winner. In the past 15 months, Odom has won two NBA championships and a World Championships gold medal. This isn’t the path many suspected he would take as little as three years ago, when he finished his eighth season with the Lakers getting promptly knocked out of the playoffs’ first round in five games. Up to that point, Odom had made the Playoffs three times but had advanced beyond the first round only once. Furthermore, he had been on just one team that finished with a regular season record more than two games over .500.

From Shane Lambert, Crunch Sports: Kobe Bryant is considered the favorite to win the coveted MVP Award for the approaching NBA seads that sportsbook have set odds on the Los Angeles Laker guard at +250 (5/2) to win the award outright.  That kind of status in that betting market carries the presumption that Bryant is the best player in the NBA but if you look at stats in depth then he’s not even the top 5 talent among all active players – not from a career perspective. The best statistic to look at in basketball is Win Shares per 48 minutes and if you don’t know what those are then I’m sorry but you know nothing about basketball.  Against all active players that have ample NBA experience, Bryant is 8th in that very important category.

Lakers We Miss: Byron Scott

Jeff Skibiski —  September 19, 2010

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Developing a championship mentality isn’t an overnight process for teams or players, but instead an experiment in developing the right mix of ingredients, influences and experiences. Players like Byron Scott—a key catalyst on three Lakers championship teams from 1983-1993—are simply born winners.

As the starting guard on the Lakers title squads in 1985, 1987 and 1988, Scott’s persistent energy, long-range proficiency, tough-nosed D and will to win were integral pieces of the team’s championship puzzle. The anchor-like role that Derek Fisher serves on the current version of the Lakers is a role that was similarly perfected by the Inglewood native in the 1980’s.

Though Byron was a talented offensive player in his own right—averaging 14 points in 14 NBA seasons, including a career high 22 in 1987-1988—he was more than willing to give up the spotlight to Hall of Fame teammates Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and James Worthy. In that vein, Scott was the perfect glue guy for those talented Showtime teams. His selflessness was again on display in the 1996-1997 season when he returned to L.A. to mentor a fledgling guard by the name of Kobe Bryant—a mentor/mentee relationship with which #24 still credits to this day for his rapid ascension in the league.

Scott’s value isn’t something that can be measured purely through on-court statistics though, as he has repeatedly proven himself as an impassioned leader in the locker room, both as a Lakers player and in his successful coaching career that has followed. Scott quickly moved up the NBA coaching ranks after starting out as an assistant in Sacramento, earning his first head coaching gig with the Nets and leading them to back-to-back NBA Finals earlier this decade (including a four-game sweep at the hands of the forum blue and gold in 2002).

Byron also nearly led an upstart Hornets team, still feeling the effects of Hurricane Katrina along with the rest of New Orleans, to within one game of facing the Lakers in the 2007-08 Western Conference Finals. His current task as coach of the now LeBron-less Cavaliers will provide yet another opportunity for Scott to show his rebuilding chops.

With Phil Jackson celebrating his 65th birthday this past week and Brian Shaw as a potential looming successor, Scott’s short—and long term—prospects of becoming head coach of the Lakers remains one of the team’s most divisive topics. Kevin Ding at the OC Register wrote a few weeks ago that Scott’s return to the team probably won’t coincide with an historic streak of championships as will likely be the case once Jackson steps down. Instead, he argues that Byron will once again eagerly swoop in during a moment of need—when his reclamation and leadership skills are best served. It’s a familiar role for Scott and one that has already earned him a slot in the pantheon of great Lakers role players.

Byron talks to Chick Hearn about his on-court success in this classic interview during the 1987-1988 season. What are your favorite memories from Scott’s days with the Lakers?

Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant dunks the ball in the second quarter against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden in New York City on February 2, 2009. (UPI Photo/John Angelillo) Photo via Newscom Photo via Newscom

All this week, we’ve been linking to previews for the Atlantic Division.  So with a little bit of help from the longtime (and excellent) Celtics Blogger Jeff Clark of Celtics Blog here is a summary list of all the previews from the Atlantic Division.  Enjoy.

Celtics: CelticsBlog Celtics 24/7Celtics CentralCeltics HubCelticsLife | Gino’s JungleRedsArmy.comSBNation BostonSBN Recap

Knicks: Posting and ToastingBandwagon KnickKnickerBlogger.NetSBN Recap

Nets: NetsDaily NetsAreScorching FanwaySBN Recap

Raptors: Raptors HQHoops AddictHip Hoop JunkiesSBN Recap

Sixers: Liberty Ballers

Recaps: All Previews

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Tomorrow marks the 65th birthday for venerable Lakers Coach Phil Jackson. With 13 rings as a player and coach already under his belt, the Hall of Famer has spent 20 percent of his life winning NBA titles. By now, we’re all familiar with his staggering career success rate—1,098 wins and a .705 winning percentage—so let’s instead celebrate some of Phil’s most memorable musings over the years, both from his books and via interviews. What are your favorite Jacksonisms?

“In basketball—as in life—true joy comes from being fully present in each and every moment, not just when things are going your way.”

“Good teams become great ones when the members trust each other enough to surrender the Me for the We.”

“Once you’ve done the mental work, there comes a point you have to throw yourself into the action and put your heart on the line. That means not only being brave, but being compassionate towards yourself, your teammates and your opponents.”

“Like life, basketball is messy and unpredictable. It has its way with you, no matter how hard you try to control it. The trick is to experience each moment with a clear mind and open heart. When you do that, the game–and life—will take care of itself.”

“I think the most important thing about coaching is that you have to have a sense of confidence about what you’re doing. You have to be a salesman and you have to get your players, particularly your leaders, to believe in what you’re trying to accomplish on the basketball floor.”

“Red and I, I think, have a mutual admiration. That’s all I can say.”

“If you meet the Buddha in the lane, feed him the ball”

“Despite their tremendous talent, (NBA players) are still, by and large, young adults, seeking validation from an authority figure, and there is no greater authority figure on a team than the coach. Needless to say, in today’s warped, self-indulgent climate, too many players couldn’t care less about appeasing the coach.”

“The best part of basketball, for those people on the inside, is the bus going to the airport after you’ve won a game on an opponent’s floor. It’s been a very tough battle. And preferably, in the playoffs. And that feeling that you have, together as a group, having gone to an opponent’s floor and won a very good victory, is as about as high as you can get.”

“Count me in. After a couple weeks of deliberation, it is time to get back to the challenge of putting together a team that can defend its title in the 2010-11 season. It’ll be the last stand for me, and I hope a grand one.”

As a bonus, check out the video below for an interview with Jackson, fresh after winning this year’s title.

Toronto Raptors forward Amir Johnson goes to the basket over Detroit Pistons forward Charlie Villanueva during the first half of their NBA basketball game in Auburn Hills, Michigan April 12, 2010. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

From Romy Aquino, Hip Hoop Junkies: What significant moves were made during the offseason? Well, the offseason has pretty much been a bust for the Toronto Raptors. First off, Chris Bosh decided to “take his talents to South Beach” and join forces with Dwyane Wade and one, Mr. Lebron James. To make matters worse, Bryan Colangelo wasn’t able to turn CB4 into a substantial name coming up north. Then, there were a flurry of rumours that were flying around this summer, where Toronto would give up Hedo Turkoglu, Jose Calderon and Reggie Evans for Leandro Barbosa, Boris Diaw and Tyson Chandler. Most fans got excited for this potential new-look Raptors team but that dream trade was quickly crushed when MJ got off the golf course and vetoed the trade. The lone bright spot of the offseason was that Colangelo was able to unload that hefty contract of Hedo Turkoglu for the Brazilian Blur, Leandro Barbosa.

From Ryan McNeill, Hoops Addict: What are the team’s biggest weaknesses? The team is going to get torched in the paint and on the glass this season. Last year the team averaged 40.4 rebounds per game and Bosh averaged 10.8 of those rebounds. With over a quarter of those rebounds up for grabs it makes sense that Johnson, Bargnani and Davis will step in and gobble up the extra rebounds. However, that is far from being guaranteed as the numbers from last season don’t back up that assumption. In the seven games Bosh missed at the end of the season, Davis saw his rebounding numbers stagnate (4.8) instead of increase.  Even more troubling is the fact those numbers were inflated due to two games which saw him snag double-figure rebounds. The scary part is in three of those seven games Johnson only managed to grab two rebounds.

From Adam Francis, Raptors HQ: What are the goals for this team? Bryan Colangelo would probably answer this question by saying the goal is to make the playoffs. Yes, that’s always a nice thing to say to the media, but frankly this to me looks like a rebuild situation for the franchise.  Therefore I think the main goal for this club should be player development.  Guys like Sonny Weems, DeMar DeRozan, Ed Davis and even Joey Dorsey etc need coaching and experience as well as adequate playing time so hopefully Jay Triano and his coaching staff provide these things next year. The truth is that no one really knows if guys like DeMar or Weems have what it takes to be stars in this league, let alone solid role players.  If this team wants to rebuild, it needs to sort out the true potential building blocks from the fringe types, and this should start this season.


From Darius via Land O’ Lakers: Soriano: While Miami poses the best hypothetical threat due to their extreme talent base, I still have to go with Boston. Yes the Celtics have aged a year and adding the O’Neals [Jermaine and Shaquille] doesn’t make them any younger. But that team defines the term “tough out” and we all saw how hard the Celtics pushed the Lakers in last year’s Finals. Granted, the Celtics will have to get to the Finals first but if they do I think they’d present the toughest challenge and would have the best chance of winning the series.

From Chad Ford, via Brian Kamenetzky of Land O’ Lakers: “The Lakers, fresh off their second consecutive NBA title, weren’t going to reinvent the wheel this summer. The team had most of its key players in place once Phil Jackson decided to return and really needed to address one big issue — point guard. The Lakers took care of business by bringing in free-agent guard [Steve] Blake and then re-signing [Derek] Fisher. Fisher is getting old and Blake won’t light up the world, but together they’re strong enough to lead the Lakers to a third straight title. The Lakers’ front office also did a solid job in the draft. With two second-round picks it landed [Devin] Ebanks, a Trevor Ariza-like long, athletic wing, and [Derrick] Caracter, a low-post bruiser who can really score in the paint. Both players would’ve been potential lottery picks had their bad reputations not scared teams away. If Jackson, Kobe & Co. can keep them in line, the Lakers may have scored big in the second round.”

From Mark Medina, Los Angeles Times: Kurt Rambis had already seen the transformation last season, changing from Lakers’ assistant coach to the Minnesota Timberwolves’ head coach. The losing culture, the fledgling personnel and the bitter cold served as the most vivid differences compared to the Lakers’ 2009 title run, the loaded and steady roster and the year-round perfect weather. Minnesota also recently did something the Lakers wouldn’t need to do in a million years: putting out a full-page ad in the local newspaper in hopes to assuage concerns from its fan base. Among the highlights from the Timberwolves’ “long-winded letter” in the back of Monday’s Minneapolis Star-Tribune included the team’s admission it likely won’t win an NBA championship this season and a jab at Ricky Rubio. The Lakers wouldn’t need to resort to these measures in buying a full-page ad for The Times, as they’re eyeing a three-peat and have enjoyed being the main sports franchise in Los Angeles. But in case they were to change their mind, it might go a little something like this…

From Brian Tung, Silver Screen and Roll: Superstars are rare. We who are Lakers fans might lose sight of that from time to time, because we’ve had the fortune to watch so many, but it’s true: Superstars are few and far between. It’s part of what makes them superstars. So when you’re lucky enough to have one on your team, you root for him long and hard. Inevitably, those who aren’t lucky enough to have a superstar on their team send some bitterness your way. And because they aren’t lucky enough to champion their own superstar over yours, their only option is to champion some other team’s superstar—even more so, usually, than the fans of teams that have a superstar. It’s a bizarre sort of one-upsmanship where some third party ends up on top.

June 17, 2010 - Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - epa02208456 Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant (C) and Lakers' Derek Fisher (R) celebrate after defeating the Boston Celtics as Celtics' Paul Pierce (L) walks away during game seven of the NBA Finals at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, USA, 17 June 2010. The Lakers defeated the Celtics 83-79 to win their 16th championships.

The Lakers have been a blessed franchise.  From Minneapolis to Los Angeles the Lakers organization has fielded championship teams 16 times over and delivered fantastic memories for fans spanning several generations.  Being able to root for the teams led by the likes Mikan to West to Magic to Shaq to Kobe I think we can all agree that Lakers’ fans have been some of the luckiest in all of sports.

I bring all this up because an interesting question was raised in the comments yesterday that really got me thinking.  I’ll let commenter lil’ pau take it from here:

Artest’s acquisition, then so many injuries during the regular season including a Bynum heartbreak, then 2 out of 3 playoff series that I would call breathtaking (and the only bad one containing one of the all time best games in history), then coming back from 2-3 against the hated ones to win 2 straight at Staples, including trailing by 13 in the 3rd in game 7, to win for the first time on the home floor since 2000… and with Artest making a critical unlikely three…?!?! There’s a reason that last year turned out to be my favorite season as a fan, even including Showtime.  I wonder how others here think last season compared to other championship runs (2000 was also great, especially that incredible comeback against Portland, and also the year of the Magic baby-hook in the Garden…)

The question of someones favorite championship is a great one because I think everyone has that title run that most sticks out in their mind.  For example Chris J chimed in with his:

All told, I’d have to rank my favorite wins as 1985 — finally beating Boston, in Boston — and 1988, when the team went Back-to-Back after an all-out grind against Utah, Dallas and then Detroit.

Last season’s win will likely rank up with ‘85 and ‘88 over time. Beating Boston is always great, and there were so many memorable plays — Pau’s put-back vs. OKC; Kobe’s Gentry shot; Ron’s buzzer beater vs. the Suns; Fish’s three to tie Game 7 vs. Boston; and Artest’s three to ice the title, just to name a few.

Still, those just haven’t had time to fully sink in yet. Ask again in a few years and I bet people’s rankings are different.

Honestly, I struggle with this question as every championship celebrated has been a wonderful moment that is special in its own way.  I’ll always love 1987 because it was the rubber match between Magic and Bird where the winner would likely be seen as the better player.  2000 also meant a lot to me because of all the struggles that team went through in prior seasons before breaking through for the ring.  And 2010 will always be special because the Lakers not only beat the Celtics, but they exacted some revenge from 2008 and did it in a dramatic game 7 victory that while not pretty, showed a level of grit and toughness many thought the Lakers still lacked.  So, it’s tough for me choose one that stands above the rest.

But that’s exactly what I’m asking you to do.  What title has been your favorite?  Maybe it was 1972 when Mr. Clutch finally got his ring.  Or maybe it was 1980 when Magic put on a performance for the ages as a rookie.  Maybe it was the 2001 run where the Lakers were the playoff juggernaut that only lost one game on their way to the championship.  Let me know in the comments, but understand the entire time that as a Lakers fan you’ve been pretty lucky to witness what you have.

April 07, 2010 Milwaukee, WI. Bradley Center..New Jersey Nets Devin Harris brings the ball up the court on a fast break, Harris had 25 points and 5 assists against the Bucks tonight..Milwaukee Bucks won over the New Jersey Nets 108-89. Mike McGinnis/CSM.

Today, the team previews continue with the New Jersey Nets whose troubles to win last season were nearly historical. Check these next few links to see why things should be a little better next season for Jordan Farmar’s new squad.

From Sebastian Pruiti, Nets Are Scorching: What are the team’s biggest strengths? The Nets’ biggest strength going into the season is going to be the play of the center and power forward. Brook Lopez is quickly becoming one of the best big men in the game, and he is only 22 years old. He averaged 18 points a game last year while facing constant double and triple teams. This year, with better players around him, Lopez is going to see less one on one coverage and should be able to take advantage. Something that doesn’t get mentioned is his health, as he hasn’t missed a single game in the first two years of his career. Troy Murphy is a former all star who is one of the best rebounders in the NBA. As mentioned earlier, he can stretch the floor, but is also able to score from the inside. Brook and Troy’s skillsets mean we should see a lot of high-low action this year, and it could be very successful.

From Nets Daily: What significant moves were made during the off-season? Since Kenyon Martin was traded in 2004, the Nets biggest weakness has been at the power forward spot. They  finally addressed this glaring hole by drafting a potential stud in Derrick Favors with the third overall pick, but by also acquiring the sweet shooting lefty, Troy Murphy. Murphy will allow Favors to come along a little more slowly instead of being thrust into the starting lineup from the get-go. Acquiring Murphy did come at a price, though, as young guard Courtney Lee was shipped out in the four-team deal. It hurts to lose a young player with potential, but the emergence of Terrence Williams made him expendable.

From Dennis Velasco: What are the team’s biggest weaknesses? It’s still a young team and only have one player, Jordan Farmar, with a championship pedigree.  There is a lot of that aforementioned hope, but will there be any production?  On paper, everything looks good – a fairly strong starting line-up with some solid bench players, a good mix of skill sets, and record-wise, one of the best coaches in NBA history.  However, there is still an air of doubt surrounding this unproven team, especially after a 12-70 season.  Biggest weakness?  Fear that things work out as well as free agency.


Below are today’s Lakers links:

From Janis Carr, OC Register: Derrick Caracter’s rearview mirror is crowded with blurred images of what he has left behind. They are moments the Lakers rookie doesn’t like to reflect upon, choosing instead to look at the possibilities that lay ahead. But what does the future hold for Caracter, a 21-year-old post player with a jagged past? Can he keep his weight in check? Will he be able to crack the Lakers’ rotation and Phil Jackson’s resolve of not playing rookies? Caracter realizes he faces long odds of making it in the NBA. But the former Texas-El Paso forward, taken with the No. 58 pick of the 2010 NBA Draft, is eager to be a part of the Lakers’ drive to another three-peat this season and possibly a career at this level.

From Ben Hernandez, The Examiner: The Lakers’ second round draft pick , Derrick Caracter, was able to fully guarantee the $473,000 in his contract for the 2010-11 season by meeting a weight incentive that required him to be 275 pounds or less. In addition to the added contract bonus, Caracter credits his weight maintenance to changes in his dietary habits suggested by a nutritionist. “I don’t eat red meat anymore or processed foods,” said Caracter. “I realized it doesn’t really agree with me and by not eating that stuff, I feel a lot better and have more energy.” The Lakers’ 58th pick overall experienced conditioning issues in the past, which caused his weight to fluctuate from 265 to over 300 pounds.

From Andrew Sharp, SBNation: Illustrating a much broader point about economic inequality that’s emerged in the technological age, Klein calls it the Kobe Bryant Theory of Inequality: It’s some heady stuff, and if you’d like to delve into the wormhole of this debate, then starting with this Slate series is probably a good idea. I just got a kick out seeing Kobe’s name in the midst of a serious debate about economics and technology. And Klein makes a good point. Where someone like Michael Jordan didn’t become a truly “global” celebrity until the Dream Team in 1992, today, it’s easier than ever for NBA Superstars to reach audiences abroad. This is partly because of the NBA’s push to become a more global brand, but moreso, it’s a credit to technology. The NBA’s goal would be laughable without satellite technology and broadband internet.

From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: In the wake of Team USA’s gold-medal win Sunday over Turkey at the World Championships in Istanbul,’s Chris Sheridan delivered his early forecast on what the roster could look like when the 2012 London games roll around. Not surprisingly, his list of guards includes Kobe Bryant. Watching Kobe help lead the U.S. on a pride-restoring run through the ’08 Olympic tourney in Beijing was great fun for many Lakers fans. It also added a summer of fairly intense play to his already loaded hoops docket. When London calls in two years, only incredibly obvious references to The Clash will be more ubiquitous than questions about Kobe’s age and mileage. He’ll be just shy of 34 years old, and in a perfect purple-and-gold world coming off yet another extended trip through the playoffs. The guy already has more wear than the average player of his age, and by the summer of ’12 could easily put another 7,000-plus minutes in the rear-view mirror.

Lastly, I came across this post on the best international dunks ever. While I feel like they left out a few really good ones, they did include a back-board shattering dunk from Michael Jordan that I hadn’t seen before. Check it out:

Amar'e Stoudemire holds up a Knicks jersey after working out a 5 year and nearly 100 million dollar contract to play with the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden in New York City on July 8, 2010.    UPI/John Angelillo Photo via Newscom

Today we continue to look at season previews from teams around the league and make a stop in New York. We have a few bloggers with some interesting takes on what the Knicks will lock like next season:

From Mike Kurylo, Knickerblogger: New York has been a bad rebounding team for D’Antoni’s tenure, and this is one area Donnie Walsh failed to address in remaking the team. Stoudemire, Gallinari, and Turiaf aren’t good rebounders, and the loss of hyalophile David Lee will hurt the team as well. According to my stat page, the Knicks were 27th on both offensive and defensive rebounding last year. Knick fans who cringe at their team forgoing any second opportunities while allowing tip ins from the opposition will have a furled brow for much of the season. Perhaps Randolph and Mozgov can work their way into heavy minutes and help prevent the bleeding. Last year the Knicks were tied for 3rd worst defense in the NBA, and it has been a recurring issue with the team for the last decade. The Knicks have some good defensive pieces in Azubuike, Randolph, Douglas, and Turiaf. However most of the team (including the coaching staff) leans to the offensive side of the spectrum. If New York isn’t among the 10 worst defenses this year, it should be considered an accomplishment.

From Robert Hall, Bandwagon Knick: After two seasons of scorched earth roster decimation, Donnie Walsh and Mike D’Antoni actually got down to the business of building a team. Sure, a certain prized free agent decided to go elsewhere as part of a SuperFriends package in South Beach, and no small amount of fretting took place among Knick fans as coveted plan B free agent Joe Johnson was signed to an absurd contract by the Atlanta Hawks. But Walsh promised backup plans covering every letter of the alphabet, and he delivered by: 1) signing Amar’e Stoudemire to a max contract, 2) pulling off a small coup by trading David Lee to the Golden State Warriors for Kelenna Azubuike, Ronny Turiaf, and is-he-a-head-case-or-a-crazy-transformational-multi-positional-player Anthony Randolph 3) acquiring PG Ray Felton in a very thin market for guards for a reasonable two year, $15.8m deal, 4) signing young Russian center Timofey Mozgov to a 3 year $9.7m deal, again reasonable given the scarcity of bigs, and 5) drafting and signing second round picks Andy Rautins and Landry Fields, with the latter making enough waves in the Summer League to merit especially high praise from ESPN’s David Thorpe.

From Seth, Posting and Toasting: Depth! I bet I’ve said that each of the last three years, but I mean it this time, y’all. All of the signings have blessed Mike D’Antoni with the manpower to experiment with lineups, adjust to all kinds of match-ups, and weather any injuries. Moreover, D’Antoni has depth of the defensive variety, with a whole quiver of different weapons at his disposal. He’s got two ball-seeking missiles in the backcourt (Raymond Felton and Toney Douglas) , some steady broadswords to deter wings (Kelenna Azubuike, Wilson Chandler, and even Landry Fields), and the option to either bludgeon big men (Ronny Turiaf) or pierce them with venomous laser beams from space (Anthony Randolph). This team also appears well-equipped to run the pick-and-roll. Ray Felton isn’t Steve Nash, but he’s a capable lead guard, and he’ll have an elite roller to feed in Stoudemire. Randolph and Timofey Mozgov should see touches in the pick-and-roll as well.


Over at Land O’ Lakers, Brian Kamenetzky invited a collection of Lakers experts (Darius included) to discuss who they thought would present the biggest challenge for the Lakers. I’m sure most of us know Darius feels that the Rockets will present that challenge – and as usual, he and Kurt are on the same page:

Helin: If the Lakers are completely healthy, there is nobody in the West that beats them. Portland, Oklahoma City and, if completely healthy, San Antonio can push Los Angeles, but not beat them. One team that should scare Lakers fans a little is a healthy Houston Rockets. If Yao Ming is 100 percent come the playoffs, with a backcourt of the speedy Aaron Brooks and sharpshooter Kevin Martin, plus great role players like Shane Battier and Luis Scola … that’s a really good team. More than any team, they match up well with the Lakers. But you’d need a fully healthy Yao to make it happen.

Another one of the teams that guys were high on was the Oklahoma City Thunder. Their youth, their talent across the board and that one guy leading them — what’s his name? Oh, Kevin Durant, will definitely be a formidable opponent. Henry Abbott argues that Durant’s performance during the Worlds set the stage for Durant’s 2010-2011 MVP campaign:

Back when this tournament started, I suggested it was a chance for Kevin Durant to kick of his NBA MVP campaign, and I got some pretty nasty comments. But let’s be honest: He just went out there and played head-and-shoulders above the rest of the world. He took what everyone assumed was an undermanned Team USA. He did and said everything right, played so beautifully it could make you cry, and brought great pride to his nation while leaving no doubt he was the MVP of the tournament.


It’s possible all that will matter not at all to MVP voters at the end of the year. And I can understand why some people insist it should have no effect for an NBA award.

Lastly, the official Lakers website has been counting down the top 10 moments of the Lakers season, and number for was Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, my second favorite game of the post season. 37 points, nine in the final two minutes and that tap on the butt that he gave Alvin Gentry after he knocked down that extremely tough long two pointer with Grant Hill all over him.