From Mark Medina, LA Times: How will the Suns look without Amare Stoudemire? – Stoudemire’s departure to New York this off-season because of free agency prompted Suns guard Steve Nash to publicly doubt the team’s chances of making the postseason. “To be honest, if I was outside this picture and a betting man, I would probably pick us to be outside of the playoffs, considering all the changes and the new guys, Nash told the SB Nation Arizona’s Seth Pollack. Of course, Bryant doesn’t feel bad for Phoenix’s off-season adversities, including losing Stoudemire to free agency and Leandro Barbosa in a trade.
From Mark Medina, LA Times: Three months ago, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson seriously considered retiring. He still loved the game, but concerns over his health, fatigue and the constant travel surrounding an NBA season seemed to be wearing on him. Positive feedback regarding a series of medical tests and a week at his lakeside home in Montana, however, proved enough to make him feel rejuvenated and commit to another season. In fact, Jackson felt so energized that he was willing to collaborate on a photography book commemorating the Lakers’ 2010 NBA championship with NBA Entertainment senior photographer Andrew Bernstein. Jackson’s witty and insightful captions to photos Bernstein took from the beginning of training camp through the victory parade make “Journey to the Ring,” scheduled for a Nov. 10 release, a quality read. I recently highlighted Bernstein’s thoughts on the overall concept.
From Mark Medina, LA Times: Lakers Coach Phil Jackson outlined the tough road ahead it will be for finding a proper balance in minutes for the Lakers’ backcourt. And in the Lakers’ 112-110 season-opening victory Tuesday against the Houston Rockets, it was Sasha Vujacic who didn’t make an appearance for a single minute. “It’s real tough to play five guards,” Jackson said after Thursday’s practice at the Lakers’ facility in El Segundo. “We know that. He knows that. All of our guards know it.” Jackson’s rationale for leaving Vujacic out entails the fact that Shannon Brown scored 16 points on six of nine shooting in 21 minutes. That led Jackson “ride the hot hand,” as he called it, even if he had planned for Vujacic to defend against Houston guard Kevin Martin, who scored 26 points on eight of 17 shooting, including going three of six from three-point range.
From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen and Roll: The basketball statistical revolution is coming. Slowly but surely, advanced statistics are creeping into the game. The signs are everywhere: John Hollinger is a prominent national basketball writer for ESPN, primarily on the basis of his statistical model for player evaluation, PER. Daryl Morey and Rich Cho are two of the youngest GMs in the league, and both have foundations less rooted in basketball than in statistics. More than half the league’s teams employ at least one full-time analyst devoted to statistical work. Regardless of how you feel about advanced stats, it is impossible to ignore the growing impact they have on the modernizing NBA.
From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: It’s commonly said the triangle offense doesn’t require the services of a “true” point guard. Certainly over the course of his 11 championships, Phil Jackson hasn’t made a featured player out of any of those at his disposal, and most have been atypical compared to the ball-dominant, lightning bug types generally featured around the league. That’s how it’s been, but why? Is it a chicken/egg deal, where P.J. hasn’t made stars out of his point guards because he hasn’t had star caliber players to choose from, or does the triangle truly favor Ron Harper/Derek Fisher/B.J. Armstrong types? With Phoenix on the docket for Friday night, I asked Brian Shaw Thursday at practice what would happen if they dropped two-time MVP Steve Nash into L.A.’s system.
From Dave McMenamiin, ESPNLA: The culture in the Los Angeles Lakers’ locker room dictates that you are expected to play hurt. During last year’s playoffs, when Kobe Bryant was dragging his bum knee up and down the court and half the Lakers roster was dealing with a myriad of maladies of their own, Bryant said nobody wanted to be the first “punk” and sit out a game. Lakers free agent acquisition Theo Ratliff is quickly learning the code. Ratliff is beginning his 16th NBA season and, at 37 years old, is the sixth oldest player in the NBA according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The wear and tear of more than 800 games worth of battles in the paint is starting to catch up with him.
From Mike Trudell, Basket Blog: It wasn’t long ago that the Phoenix Suns were pushing the Lakers to six games in a hard-fought Western Conference Finals matchup, but one offseason move has left a major question mark in the Valley of the Sun. For the majority of the past six seasons, All-Star power forward Amare Stoudemire was on the finishing end of All-Star point guard Steve Nash’s gift-wrapped passes. Stoudemire possesses a unique combination of size, explosiveness and touch that made him a deadly offensive player despite his lack of impact on the other end. He averaged 23 points and nine boards while playing in all 82 regular season games in 2009-10, but after a similarly effective playoffs decided to bolt for New York.
From Mike Trudell, Basket Blog: Ron Artest made a big difference on the basketball court throughout L.A.’s run through the 2010 playoffs, and even hit the biggest shot in Game 7 of the Finals against Boston. Throughout the summer and into the 2010-11 season, Artest is trying to make an even bigger difference off the floor while shining a light on mental health issues in kids for their ultimate benefit and well-being. Artest has managed to create quite a buzz around the topic by announcing his in-place plan to auction off his 2010 championship ring. Dressed sharply in a suit, Artest joined “Larry King Live” on Wednesday evening to discuss:
From Todd Behrendt, Fox Sports: Shannon Brown may have collected his second ring in L.A. on Tuesday night, but even among the Lakers‘ faithful, he’s known much more for his crowd-pleasing, above-the-rim exploits than for any meaningful contributions to the team’s back-to-back championships. And he’d really like that to change. “I really don’t want nobody to mention my dunks no more,” Brown said after the game. Given Brown’s “up-ability” (Phil Jackson’s word, not mine), that probably won’t ever happen. But if he continues to play like he did in the Lakers’ opener, people will at least have something to talk about besides his dunks.