Hump Day Reading

Darius Soriano —  September 7, 2011

Below you’ll find a collection of some good reads to get you through the rest of your Wednesday afternoon. Enjoy…

Spain is a monster with Pau, top quality but well beatable without him. He’s easily the most effective player in the tournament, leading in points per 28 minutes (pace-adjusted) ahead of Ante Tomic and Emir Preldzic. Scoring rate is phenomenal. Well on course for most efficient tournament performance in Spanish national team history since ’94, and he already occupies seven of the ten top places in that category.

  • Speaking of Pau, Brian Kamentzky breaks down his game (and rematch of sorts) vs. Germany and one Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki:

First, while Gasol was sluggish early and was a non-factor scoring, Nowitzki wasn’t much better, missing seven of his nine hoists in the first half. Gasol did nice work on Dirk, aggressively getting into the German’s floor space to take away some of his options. Whether in the post or higher on the floor, Pau was far more successful getting a hand in the face of the Finals MVP than he was against Dallas in the postseason. (That Dirk wasn’t hitting jumpers like it was a video game helped, too.) Matched up against Chris Kaman at center, Gasol occasionally lost contact with him in transition, but engaged in the requisite pushing and shoving on the block and generally held his ground (though overall, our friend Dave Miller would have hated how much time Pau spent with his arms dangling by his hips at the defensive end).

After the break, any concerns about Gasol’s health (or susceptibility to mind control) quickly dissipated.

On Spain’s opening possession of the third quarter, Pau made a nice play on the left block, creating space against Dirk with a push into the lane, then reversing to finish through contact with the left hand. Two trips later, Gasol ran his percentage from downtown for the Eurobasket to 80 percent (4-of-5), drilling a jumper from the top of the arc. Later, he displayed some nice footwork against Kaman to face up just below the left elbow before elevating over the quasi-German, would finish the third with 10 points, two steals, and a dime — a sweet dish around Kaman to lil’ bro Marc.

  • Over at Pro Basketball Talk, our old friend Kurt has started a series of posts on what every team needs to do once the lockout ends. He starts out with the Lakers and offers these words of advice:

When the lockout ends, the Lakers need to… get a new point guard and get behind Mike Brown.

Brown has sounded like a guy who has got the right idea — if the Lakers are going to win another title it will be because they use more Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, allowing Kobe Bryant to pick his spots. He cannot carry a team to a title now. Brown has talked about using parts of the Spurs offense from their twin-towers era of Tim Duncan and David Robinson). It’s a smart move.

But Derek Fisher and Steve Blake — the two point guards on the Lakers roster — are not going to be able to run that show. Not well enough. Which means the Lakers need a new point guard. The free agent market is not loaded with good players (unless you think T.J. Ford is a good player, and if you do we need to talk).

The Lakers may have to trade for a point guard (hard to say right now who becomes available once teams see the new labor deal).

There is not a lot of trade bait on the Lakers roster. Some Lakers fans want Andrew Bynum or Pau Gasol moved, but neither of those guys is going anywhere unless a Dwight Howard-level player is coming back. Nor should they be — you win by going big, not point guards. The more likely move is something like Lamar Odom for a reasonable point guard and a backup big. But even that will not be easy to pull off for GM Mitch Kupchak.

Yes, under the 10-year collective bargaining agreement the owners have proposed, the gap is indeed somewhere in the area of $7-8 billion range.

But if you look at the six-year deal the players have proposed, which includes $500 million less in annual revenue (than what they would have received under the old deal) over the six upcoming seasons, the simple math tells a different story:

Over those six years, the difference in proposed revenues that would go to the players adds up to $2.97 billion.

That is still a significant amount of money, but it is nowhere near as significant as what is being put out there publicly.

Moreover, if you look at years 1, 2 and 3 of the proposals, the sides are a total of $870 million apart. (The players are asking for $2.17 billion in salaries and benefits in 2011-12, $2.33 billion in ’12-13, and $2.42 billion in ’13-14. The owners are offering a flat $2 billion per year.)

Or to put it another way, in a business that brought in $4.2 billion in revenues last season, the sides are only $170 million apart for next season.

Does that seem like an insurmountable difference that would justify the cancellation of the season? No — especially given the fact that neither side has said it has put its “last and best” offer on the table.

  • Friend of the site Dave M. continues his good work over at Searching For Slava and has penned a good piece that includes questions about what could be a rocky transition for this Lakers team:

We could be exchanging lists. You and I like exchanging lists. I stop by the front lines and they’re talking about every piece that’s gonna be the same and I’m thinking, it’s never gonna be the same. The sales force couldn’t hit their numbers last year so you fired the supervisor and the foreman and the accounting staff and the stenographers but you decided to keep all the salespeople who forgot how to close? I don’t buy it and apart from wanting to leave something special in Jim Buss’s ice tray and writing in the second person, I’ve gotta believe Mike Brown will bring some new blood into an inherited team. There won’t be any money to spend beyond minimum and some type of mid-level exception which pretty much leaves a trade and they won’t move Kobe or Drew and probably not Pau. And all this presumes a CBA settlement and I doubt they’d dropkick the president of the players association. Would they?

That last bit is important, as before I picked up a basketball there were not a lot of areas where I excelled. This is the complete list: running in circles, yelling, smiling, breaking things, and disrupting my parents’ sleep. With anything involving concentration, I lagged behind the other kids. With anything involving hand-eye coordination, I lagged way behind the other kids.  Coloring inside the lines? Couldn’t do it. Playing a musical instrument? Couldn’t do it. Swimming? Couldn’t do it, and dreaded being forced to try. I was born prematurely and although most of my earliest memories revolve around the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I am aware that I spent lots of time in a variety of doctors’ offices where I was diagnosed with developmental disorders ranging from ADD to Asperger’s to Tourette’s.

For some kids on the autism spectrum in their developmental years, not much progress can be made. For others, treatment can enormously improve quality of life. If you’re really lucky, treatment can eventually eliminate any signs of being different. I was absurdly lucky that my absolute hero of a mom dedicated every second of her time to helping me. Basketball ended up being a huge part of it. She exposed me to Magic, Michael, and Larry through NBA home videos and something clicked with me. I internalized the stories of how hard they worked and wanted to be one of them. Preferably Magic. So I practiced dribbling. Over and over, every day, even though I was terrible for the first couple of years. I kept at it, exhibiting a sort of discipline I’d previously never shown in any capacity. It was the extreme focus that I would have needed to become a good swimmer or violinist or whatever, but I didn’t care about those things. I loved to dribble a basketball.

Darius Soriano

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  1. As always Kurt hits the nail on the head. There is no question with the Heat out there in the East and Kobe no longer a top 3 player in the NBA the Lakers cant win with what they have at PG on this current roster. Fisher wouldn’t be able to be a back up on any team in the league and Blake at his best was a solid reserve lead guard off the bench. There is no other way than to admit upgrading the PG spot is a must if LA wants to win another championship. That is unless they bring in Dwight Howard and Chris Paul 😉 Only then will Derek win yet another ring crawling up on the shoulders of giants.


  2. It’d be nice if we could go back in time and un-sell the Toney Douglas pick to the Knicks


  3. Getting Gasol back in top form, and finally doing an upgrade at the PG spot, as Kurt suggests, will certainly increase the Lakers chances at a very good shot for another NBA Championship.


  4. Go get them Dave M. Yess, they didn’t fire the players because they’re still the ducks that lay the golden eggs for the Buss family while others represent purely expense during lockout season. Can’t fire Fisher because he’s the leader of the multi-millionaire bunch. What they did, hire new sheriff and deputies to find new ways how to skin the same cat. Would they? It depends, it looks like we’re getting the message across to players and owners and now ready to talk. Will the unemployed fans ready to buy their new gimmicks?


  5. I read a very of those links earlier. they were very good. I especially like the one with the writer who has autism as my son too is sutistic. Good stuff


  6. I believe Kurt is daydreaming a bit to think that LA will only have to give up LO to get an upgrade at point and a backup big unless the FO pulls a heist. LO’s current salary is on the low end, matching dollar for dollar, wouldnt bring in the caliber of point this team needs plus a decent speciality big. Bynum is set whether you like it or not, that leaves Pau as the odd man out considering his salary could bring a true upgrade(not another Blake clone) and a big that will actually see the court. LO and Pau’s skill set are almost identical, both are great passers, good rebounders, handles the ball well for their size and inconsistent at times. The biggest difference between the two are their salary and what caliber of player could be had in return for their services.


  7. #6. Whatever skill set duplication LO and Pau have should also be stated with the caveat that Pau is the much better player.


  8. Darius
    Better player by stats alone, but given that LO probably plays on the average 5 less minutes a game than Pau and didnt have specific plays called for him on the offensive end, its a wash in my book.


  9. #8. Per 36 minutes stats from last season show a close race between the two with Gasol scoring more and every other stat close to even (save for blocked shots where Pau doubles up LO). Mind you though, last year was probably LO’s best season as a pro (save for his lone full season in Miami) and last year was Pau’s most inconsistent as a Laker.

    That said, there’s a immense value in being the guy that plays are called for and still producing at the clip that Gasol does. All you need to do is look back to how Odom produced when asked to be the 2nd banana next to Kobe and how he’s performed since Bynum broke out and/or Pau was acquired.

    I love Odom (I’ve made this clear over and over again) but calling it “a wash” when saying who is the better player is a pretty negatively biased viewpoint on how good Gasol is when all things are considered.


  10. @5 – I much agree about James Herbet’s piece – it’s enormously compelling. I’ve read it three times (so far).

    @4 – Thanks! I do think we might see an attempt to trade however and this ties into the conversation between @7 & @8. All these numbers get a little confusing. The total though is 24 – the one guy we know won’t be on the block!

    I think Lamar’s relatively “low”salary will be enormously attractive to some other teams, especially coming off his 6th MOY season. I don’t really want to see him go but his name comes up in trade talks every year and with a new coach in town, the trigger may finally get pulled.

    For instance (and per prior conversations), Mike Brown has made it known that he wants Anderson Varejao who’s a free agent. Anderson made around 7m last season. Ramon Sessions makes around 4.2 mil. Lamar makes 8.9 mil. An over-cap team can take back 125% in salary on a trade (I believe), so Ramon & AJ (sign & trade) for L.O. could just barely work. Of course AJ will want a raise and he’ll attract some attention. It wouldn’t be an easy trade to make but I’ve got to think that Byron Scott would open to acquiring Lamar, no?


  11. Darius
    The second banana role LO played when he first came to LA will be placed upon Drew. He will still play that catalyst, uptempo role that he has succeded in the past few years. You have to admit comparing LO’s numbers from the past with D-League players on LA’s roster other than Mr. Bean, to now is a little unfair. Pau was able to come in with a much improved roster and use his skills to compliment those around him. Im in no way bashing Pau’s skill or the rings he has played a big part in, but the money he makes would not need a near miracle to happen before a move could be made.


  12. You can’t compare Gasol to Lamar. Gasol is an all star every year on a good team and Lamar is never and will never be on an all star team. Odom is a great role player. Gasol is a great player. I love Lamar for what he is. But you can just flat out love Pau. He has been he third to fifth best PF in the game for his entire career.


  13. Pau’s a better all around player than LO no doubt.

    Pau’s a better center. He’s also probably the best passer among bigs in the basketball universe, never mind being a better passer than LO.

    Not to minimize Lamar Odom! His attitude and willingness to do what the team needs is very, very valuable and admirable.