- Derek Fisher has sent a letter to every NBA player, laying out the union’s position while also issuing a rallying cry to garner continued support in the ongoing negotiations with the owners. You can read the entire letter here. One takeaway I have, beyond the rhetoric, is that Fish continues to be the consumate professional and I doubt there’s a better player in the league to be head of their union.
- On the other side of the negotiating table is Lakers’ owner Jerry Buss. Today, it’s come out that Buss is in favor of a hard cap and is on board with revenue sharing. The money passage from Kevin Ding’s article:
As much as Buss loves his rum and Coke, he has held a Molotov cocktail with the NBA’s limited revenue sharing and soft salary cap. It has allowed Buss and his minority investors to make a lot of money and feel comfortable spending a ton of it on great players others can’t afford. But dramatically increased revenue sharing will inhibit the Lakers’ spending. A hard cap will flat-out prevent the Lakers from spending. It’s lose-lose when Buss is 77 years old and determined to come from behind the Boston Celtics in total championships, 17-16. Yet the Lakers have accepted it. Why? For the greater good.
- I, for one, am not surprised that Buss feels this way. First off, I think Buss understands better than most that a healthy league will benefit the Lakers in the long run – even if that means financial concessions or a system that limits his ability to spend on a roster. Second, though, is the fact that the Lakers haven’t always been the team that out spent everyone to build a championship roster. That’s obviously a big part of their recent success but this most recent run isn’t the only success the Lakers have had under Buss’ stewardship. The Showtime Lakers were built primarily through the draft and savvy trades. The Shaq/Kobe teams were not just the product of out-spending teams for Shaq, but also in dumping salary to even be able to pay the Diesel and then making more moves to acquire Kobe and the rest of the veteran core that won those titles. In the end, Jerry Buss knows that it’s a combination of financial resources, a favorable market, and smart personnel decisions that build a winner. If one of those variables changes – namely, the ability to spend more – I’m of the mind that Dr. Buss trusts the other factors won’t. That may be a gamble, but history says it’s not.
- In some non-lockout news, Andy Kamentzky sat down with Ron Artest to talk DWTS and basketball. Ron, of course, said some interesting things and the entire interview is worth your time.
- One part of that inteview that caught my eye was Ron’s mentioning that a role off the bench may be in his future. Over at The Point Forward, Zach Lowe explores this idea and gives his two cents on how this may or may not work and also discusses how a theoretical lineup where instead of Artest being benched, it’s Derek Fisher that’s replaced in the line up:
As wonderful as Odom looked running the triangle, serving as point forward for a more traditional offense, heavy on pick-and-rolls, is a different responsibility. Playing longer minutes without a point guard will inevitably shift more of the playmaking burden onto Bryant. He’s obviously up to it; he has long been the Lakers’ best playmaker, both off the dribble and in the post. But handing Bryant and Odom (32 years old, by the way) more ball-handling and playmaking duties during the regular season is risky.
Risk is good, though, especially for a team that looked a bit stale by the end of last season. Mike Brown could experiment with this in small doses, rather than as part of the Lakers’ foundation, and if it works in March, he could lean on it a bit more in the playoffs. But that might be the ceiling here.
- Lastly, I mentioned that the Impact Training Series that’s currently taking place in Las Vegas would give Derrick Caracter a chance he needs to continue his development. It turns out that – at least from the box scores – he’s been taking advantage of his opportunity. In Tuesday’s game he had 19 points on 14 shots and pulled down 7 rebounds. Yesterday he went for 20 points on 11 shots with another 7 rebounds. Without seeing the games or watching film it’s tough to give these numbers context, but strong shooting percentages and decent rebounding numbers are always good signs. For what it’s worth, Caracter thinks he has a good shot at sticking on next year’s roster. If he can carry over strong play from the summer to training camp (or whatever team’s have to prep for the season) he may be right.