From Dave McMenamin, Land O’ Lakers: I caught up with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak for about 20 minutes on Tuesday, and we spent the bulk of our time talking about the upcoming NBA draft. There were, though, a couple of topics I couldn’t fit in the story. Before talking to him, I looked back at the story I wrote when we spoke shortly after last year’s draft, when he told me this about Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter, who the Lakers selected at Nos. 43 and 58, respectively: “In terms of a grade, I think you have to ask me that question a year from now,” Kupchak said. A year later, I reminded him about the quote, and he relented. Sorta. “I would say both are incomplete,” Kupchak began. “I feel like Devin showed great promise on a veteran team. He really did some things that led us to believe he can be a player in this league. But then he got hurt and ended up missing the last 2-3 months of the season.
From Sebastian Pruiti, NBA Playbook: Last month, with a break during the Finals, I took a look at Mike Brown and what his time in Cleveland will tell us about how he will try to put Kobe Bryant in positions to score. Today, we are going to look at Mike Brown and how he plans on getting his two seven-footers involved on the offensive end. During his introductory press conference, coach Brown explained how his time with San Antonio will help shape his offense when using two seven-footers: I thought it would be interesting to go through some old San Antonio Spurs’ game tape and see what sets coach Brown can bring from San Antonio to Los Angeles. Much like the sets we looked at with coach Brown and Kobe Bryant, these are very simple sets, but that doesn’t mean that these sets will be ineffective with Los Angeles. Note: For the purposes of this post, David Robinson will be playing the role of Andrew Bynum and Tim Duncan will be playing the role of Pau Gasol.
From Mike Trudell, Basket Blog: Attack the clock. Brown: “Let’s get that ball from the back court to the front court within the first three and four seconds. Why? We don’t want to get to our second our third option and see that the shot clock is winding down to two seconds or something like that. We want to get the ball up the floor, and if we can run for a layup, you’ll never see me stop that. My last two years in Cleveland, we were a top 10 and top 5 offensive team in the NBA. We averaged over 100 points a game both those years.”
From Brian Champlin, Lakers Nation: Most Lakers’ fans will recall Robert Horry as I do. They watched him from afar and observed him to be the consummate role player and teammate. He was the cog that always seemed to fit, a player who was rarely flashy or dominant but always saved his best performances for when the team needed him most. In crunch time he was, cliche as it sounds, never afraid of the moment. Yet this fearlessness was not born so much from some innate sense of self as it was the experiences of his life. Specifically, the birth of his daughter Ashlyn.
From Elizabeth Benson, Lakers Nation: With the hiring of new head coach Mike Brown, the Lakers community knows that defense is going to be the mentality for the team next season. After all, the prevalent need for defense is one of the key reasons why Brown was hired as Phil Jackson’s successor. The Lakers have made many moves during the past couple of years to bring defensive minded players to the squad, including acquiring Ron Artest and the development of Andrew Bynum. Kobe Bryant has always a defensive threat to opponents, especially around the perimeter.
From Eric Pincus, Hoops World: Los Angeles Lakers forward Ron Artest took a trip down memory lane on Monday via Twitter (@ronartest), tweeting about his almost trade to the Los Angeles Clippers from the Indiana Pacers for Corey Maggette. Artest wrote, “I was a Clipper for ten minutes. Then in the middle of our conversation with me, Elgin [Baylor], Coach Dunleavy and Mark Stevens my agent . . . right in the middle of our takes about how we gonna bring a ring to the Clippers, Donnie Walsh called Mike and said Corey failed the [physical].” Note: Some liberties taken in that quotation for syntax. “Corey failed the physical, then I went back on suspension with Indiana. I was in LA for three months. Then two weeks later, Sac-town traded Peja [Stojakovic] for me. Kings were in last place,” continued Artest. “Then I got there and we went to the playoffs!”
From Mark Medina, LA Times: The biggest area the Lakers lacked, argued former Coach Phil Jackson, was speed. Considering the uncertainty on whether Shannon Brown’s going to exercise his $2.37-million option, securing Smith would provide the Lakers insurance for a speedy and athletic backup at shooting guard. Smith would provide endless amounts of energy on the break, on defense and in hustle plays. His trash talking with Kobe Bryant over the years would actually earn his respect considering he’s touted Ron Artest and Matt Barnes for their willingness to get chippy with him. And Smith’s defensive ability should lift the burden off a veteran-heavy backcourt in Bryant andDerek Fisher and keep an aging Artest fresh. Expect Barnes and Smith to try to one up each other on body art too.
From K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune: Tex Winter’s health and strength have stabilized to the point his family is making plans for the legendary former Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach to attend his induction ceremonies into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in early August, according to a family friend. When the Tribune first reported news of Winter’s induction in early April, it didn’t appear Winter would be able to attend the Aug. 12 ceremony in Springfield, Mass. Winter, 89, suffered a debilitating stroke in April 2009 and largely has been confined to care from family members since.