Around The World (Wide Web)

Darius Soriano —  November 21, 2011

From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O Lakers: The list of his losses in the event of a “nuclear winter” is hefty. Start with the obvious, namely $25.2 million in salary his bank account won’t see. Yes, he’s earned — earned– vast sums over the course of his career (pocket change over $196 million, for those scoring at home), but I don’t care how rich you are, losing $25 million is no fun. What he loses on the court is tougher to price out. Kobe has missed only 94 games in his 15-year career (and only 16 since ’06-’07) because of injury or suspension, but should the season disappear he will have lost a total of 114 games thanks to labor strife. Thirty-two in 1998-’99, and another 82 now. Just as the money is gone forever, so are the stats he’d likely have posted. During the first lockout-shortened season, his first as a full-time starter, Bryant averaged 19.9 points a game. That’s 640 points, give or take, disappearing into the ether. Using last season’s scoring average (25.3) as a guide, it’s reasonable to believe a full 2011-12 season would bring another 2,000, give or take. Maybe games are played and he gets some of the missing inventory back. But maybe not.

From Mark Medina, LA Times: “Walt was a man of extremely high character, who served the Lakers for many years as a player, a scout and a consultant,” Lakers Owner Jerry Buss said in a statement. “Our sympathy, thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time, and we feel fortunate that he was part of the Lakers family for so many years.” Hazzard spent his first three NBA seasons playing with the Lakers, though his best years were spent with the Seattle Supersonics, whom acquired him in the 1967 expansion draft. His connection to the Lakers still remained, as Hazzard joined the team’s front office and became its primary West Coast advance NBA scout. Although he suffered a stroke in 1996, Hazzard remained on staff as a special consultant, focusing primarily on community relations. In turn, Hazzard’s son, Rasheed, became an advance scout and a special assistant under Phil Jackson.

From Kevin Ding, The OC Register: To understand why prominent agents such as Mark Bartelstein, Bill Duffy, Dan Fegen, Jeff Schwartz and Arn Tellem have been so frantic over the players’ concessions to the owners in collective bargaining can be revealed through some quick, eye-opening math: Seeing 2 percent of the much-discussed Basketball Related Income go the owners’ way instead of the players’ way wouldn’t really do much to the average player, whose $5.15 million salary would become $4.96 million. (That’s $80 million for two BRI points, 430 total NBA players, $186,000 each.) But if you take that $186,000 lost and multiply it by 27 player clients (the average that the aforementioned five agents represent) and then count the agent’s 3 percent commission (he can take up to 4 percent) and multiply it by 30 years (while the players’ average career is less than five years, the agent will be repping players who aren’t even born yet) … you get $4 ½ million of his own money you could realistically say an agent would lose by conceding that 2 percent of BRI to the owners. It’s a crude formula not even factoring in annual growth, but the message should be clear: The agents were doing their own money grab this offseason – and with less reason than anyone to care if it happened to cost everyone the 2011-12 NBA season. So they stalled the momentum of negotiations more than once, staging all their conference calls with each other and pushing their message on players whose competitive streaks jibe with militant pride. It’s undeniably compelling to preach about current players’ obligation to fight against greedy owners also for the sake of future players … and guess who will be taking commission off those future players?

From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen & Roll: And now, backed into a corner, the players have made that risky move.  Short stacked and long odds against them, they have one card in the deck that can help them.  They’ve turned to the legal process to try and force the situation back in their favor.  We know its probably not going to work.  They know its probably not going to work.  And in the end, filing this lawsuit may end up causing them to have to cede even more at the negotiating table than they would have if they just sucked it up and signed a crappy deal.  But there is an odd compulsion in these situations to play it to the end instead of walking away with the shirt on your back. We fans?  We’re a different kind of square, with no choice but to sit and wait patiently for the game to end so the games can begin.  In that sense, the inevitable breakdown of negotiations is a mildly positive step, because this game can only end when both sides are satisfied, or when one side has been crushed.  Considering where the two parties started, the latter option was really the only viable solution.  The only problem is that we’re now waiting on a legal system that is patently slow, and deadlines for resolution are fast approaching.  So, while it’s nice to know that the question itself is progressing towards an answer, that like answer remains the doomsday scenario we’ve spent equal time dismissing and preparing for … a lost year of basketball.

From David Murphy, Searching For Slava: Finally, there’s a formidable third party in the house – the legal system. The NBA is represented by Paul Clement, the former solicitor general under George W. Bush. Clement has argued before the Supreme Court, 54 times. The players have David Boies on their side, the guy who brought Microsoft to its knees, aka Corporate America’s No. 1 hired gun. He also may be as Henry Abbott writes, the calmest voice in the room right now. These guys are at the top of their games and to be honest, they’ve got bigger ideological fish to fry than the NBA. Some cases you want before the Supreme Court, some you just want to settle. I can’t see this going to trial. It’s just way too much time, money and bother. The presence of these legal giants provides ample cover for both parties to come to an agreement – they simply shrug and say, “we got the best advice in the country, it’s business, not personal. We’re taking the deal.”  I.e., David Boies trumps David Stern and Paul Clement trumps Jeffrey Kessler. And in the end, the final agreement, apart from a few bells and bows, probably won’t look much different than the one left on the table. And so, after months of bleak imagery, after writing that it’s all about union busting, after dystopian morass and avarice, bloodletting and the screaming death spiral, I’m flippin’ on a dime. I think there will be a season, that a relatively speedy legal settlement (costly commissions attached of course) will ultimately allow a modicum of normalcy to return. Or as a famous television lawyer was fond of saying, “bygones”.

From Kevin Arnovitz, TrueHoop: The chase for NBA talent is fraught with all kinds of hazards, and even the best human resource managers in the league are going to have an expensive blemish or two on their record. For this reason, a push for shorter contracts has been a central part of the “system issues” conversation since well before the expiration of the previous collective bargaining agreement. Whether you interpret this as a means for bad teams to seek protection from themselves, a smart way to keep spending in check, or a way to prevent deadbeats from profiting without performing, reduced contract length is almost certain to find its way into the next CBA, whenever the deal happens to be executed. In the owners’ Nov. 11 proposal to the players’ union, the length in contract of the mid-level exception signees for both taxpaying and non-taxpaying teams was reduced from five years to either four or three years. Maximum contract length for players with Bird rights was reduced from six years to five, and from five years to four for non-Bird players. In addition, option years for players earning greater than the league average were eliminated (which would effectively shorten contracts vis-a-vis the last CBA), as were sign-and-trade deals for taxpaying teams after Year 2 of contracts (ditto). What are the repercussions of shorter contracts? Shorter contracts mean more turnover, which means more free agency. And free agency, lest we forget, has always been the vehicle for the creation of bad contracts.

Darius Soriano

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42 responses to Around The World (Wide Web)

  1. What happens if a player under contract suffers a physical injury during the lockout, but while playing for a foreign team? Does that mean that the team can void his contract or stop paying him until he’s back to 100%? Just curious.

  2. #1. Most of those contracts are insured (though some are not) and I would be insurance pays the (NBA) contract. How that affects voiding/waiving of contracts/players is not something I have a firm grasp on.

    However, of the two injuries I’ve heard of (JR Smith, and Kirilenko) both players were UFA’s that don’t have a valid contract so, luckily, we haven’t had to get into that yet.

  3. ESPN Insider has put up their scouting reports for each player… So let’s talk a little NBA between CBA discussions. The goal is to win a championship this year (if there is one) so what in the world can we (Mitch) do about this…

    “Fisher ran circles around the league’s agents this summer, but come this winter it’s the league’s other point guards that may be running circles around him. The Lakers were savaged by opposing point guards in both rounds of the playoffs, and it will be interesting to see how the Lakers view Fisher now that the championship halo is gone.

    As long as L.A. was winning titles, every contribution of his was seen as gravy, no matter how minimal. With the Lakers no longer reigning, all that changes, and point guard is the one position this team absolutely, positively must address. Between Fisher and Steve Blake, Lakers point guard was hands down the worst position in the league among playoff teams. Or nearly among any team, for that matter. One could credibly argue that only New Jersey’s small forwards surpassed them in awfulness.

    Fisher comes off a season in which he shot 38.9 percent from the floor and ranked in the bottom 10 point guards in both TS% and usage rate — in other words, he struggled to create shots, and he couldn’t make the ones he created. This is difficult for fans to grasp because physically he looks like the same player, but he’s not: His 40-minute scoring rate is barely half what it was three years ago. Defensively, he allowed a 17.7 PER to opposing point guards and had the worst Synergy numbers on the team. His rebound rate was very nearly the worst in the league (see Jamal Crawford comment). At times, it seemed the only thing keeping him in the starting lineup was the fact that Steve Blake was even worse.

    Fisher’s physical defense against big guards still has value, as does his overall savvy, but this needs to be put into context — the guy averaged 9.4 points per 40 minutes, shot 38.6 percent on 2-pointers, can’t create off the dribble, and can’t keep quick guards in front of him. It’s become increasingly difficult to defend the idea that Fisher should remain a 30-minute starter. If we’re being brutally honest, on many rosters he wouldn’t even be the backup.”

  4. Now it’s ‘blame the agents’ time. I certainly do agree that they have a vested interest in the outcome of these negotiations, but geez, to suggest that they were manipulating the players is going a bit far. Or I am overestimating the players’ intelligence, but I see it more as a case where interests coincide, not where one has more to gain.

  5. In other news, Ex-Laker & Sun Cedric Ceballos in the hospital after a “few small heart attacks”: http://goo.gl/3k08y

  6. It would not surprise me if this “blame the agents” campaign is somehow the brain child of the Owners. If I were in their position, the best strategy would be to negotiate directly with the membership by eliminating the union leadership (check!) and creating player distrust with respect to their other legal advisers (the agents).

    I also think that the fact that only one medium level superstar (D Williams) has chosen to play oversees also tells the league that many of the superstar players are not 100% ready to forgo their paychecks for a full season and want a deal more than they want to fall in line with the NBAPA.

    I think the league will go silent until Christmas, at which point they will engage in hard and fast negotiations prior to a true “nuclear winter” deadline in early January. Unless I see a lot of dudes with marquee names coming to terms with Euro teams, my guess is that the players cave in rather than lose a full season’s worth of paychecks. Of course, this is just wild speculation.

  7. Rusty Shackleford November 21, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    I always liked Cedrick Ceballos as a Laker. My best wishes go to him for a complete recovery.

  8. @6 – I hear where you’re coming from but there’s little chance of the owners/league negotiating directly with the players at this point – not with an anti-trust suit pending. There’s really only two paths as far as I can tell. Trial or settlement. The settlement would take the form of a back-to-work agreement. The closer it gets to a court date, the more the owners lose – in lost revenues and in the scope of a proposed settlement because it’s unlikely that David Boies and company will cut a lousy deal on the verge of having their day in court.

    I may be naive but I don’t quite see the owners’ path to profit here. I’m not saying that they won’t throw their collective wealth and egos into a trial (I don’t THINK they will but I don’t know). What I am saying, it that there will come a point where there is no chance of recouping the amount of money they’ve claiming as losses all along. You can’t travel in two opposite directions and still reach the middle.

  9. Though I’m sure that the NBA owners didn’t mind the checks that they didn’t send to the players this month, they are about to hear from a string of present and future creditors that they cannot ignore.

    It probably starts with their newest legal representatives and some hefty retainers, and it already includes some NBA royalty: season ticket holders, stadium contractors, local radio contractors, local TV contractors, ESPN, FOX, etc.

    I’d love to hear the conversations they are having with NIKE and the sports apparel manufacturers. I’m not convinced that even their fellow owners are very good company right now.

    As more and more of the season is cancelled, the bills will be getting bigger, new bills will surface, and the voices will be getting more and more strained.

    Their accountants are probably already having nightmares, with their Erwins saying, “Xxxxx, you’re killing me” after the revenue for each cancelled game comes up as a goose egg.

    If you think that the owners are all safe from harm, go to Sacramento and talk with the Maloofs, or ask the Atlanta Hawk owners about that cancelled sale, or ask MJ about them Bobcats–or ask David Stern about those Hornets.

    Maybe if we remind them about Ebeneezer, they might see the light and end the lockout for Christmas.

    Don’t hold your breath.

  10. Rusty Shackleford November 22, 2011 at 6:32 am

    #3 – I’d like to see a list of feasable upgrade prospects. By feasable I mean a point guard that is either a free agent that won’t cost $8 million a year or is currently on a team that we could pull in a trade. I wonder what Phili would want for Sweet Lou Williams.

  11. 10)
    I mean that’s what I’m sort of getting at. Teams are mainly as strong as their best player and their weakest link. This might be the Lakers last chance to win a title with this group amd they will only have one week to sign a player once the season starts (I can’t believe both sides will be willing to lose all that money). In my opinion the Lakers title hopes rest on what caliber player they can bring in to start at PG. No matter what this player will most likley be our weakest link but it’s crucial that weak link is stronger than our current weak link. It’s also imperative there is a MLE for us to use to get that player, or the ability to sign and trade for a player. Other than that we are pretty much screwed as besides Bynum we don’t have a lot other teams want in a trade.

  12. Rusty Shackleford November 22, 2011 at 9:38 am

    I could talk pg upgrade all day. I’m sick of this lockout BS.

    I am ashamed that I was actually a little excited about the Steve Blake signing last year. Heinrich was probably a better option . . .

  13. Aaron,

    What about Baron Davis? He surely is an amnesty target for Cleveland. He would love to be back home in Los Angeles. He is a good ball hander and would get Bynum tons of easy points off lobs. He would work well in what is sure to be a mostly half court attack. He would be perfect for a veteran team like the Lakers. Sure, he has some downsides. His injury history is enough to scare any GM away. Plus, we have to wonder what his conditioning would look like. His shooting is streaky. But there really aren’t that many options out there.

    He is not the ideal choice. But I’m looking at who the Lakers can actually acquire.

  14. 13)
    Baron Davis was one time a top three PG in the NBA with the Hornets. In my opinion if if he didn’t blow out his ACL at UCLA and on top of that had a decent work ethic we would be talking about a all time great PG. He was a freakish athlete with size along with superb handles and elite court vision. With all the injuries and years of neglecting his body I don’t believe even if he gets in shape on a title contending Lakers team he can be a below average NBA PG this season. By that I mean he cant rank somewhere between 18-25 anymore. However… He would be an upgrade over Fisher and Blake so at the minimum the Lakers would have to grab him. I do think though the goal should be to sign him to play back up PG where he doesn’t have to be a consistent performer but where those 1 out of 10 games where he feels young again can spark a Lakers victory all by himself. The Lakers should target an average/below average starting PG with the MLE (god I hope there is one) or via trade. There is not one starting PG in my estimation that will be amnestied.

  15. 13)
    I’m still looking at OJ Mayo at the MLE if I’m the Lakers. OJ doesn’t want to stay on the bench in Memphis amd I doubt they can afford to pay a bench player more than the current MLE with stricter luxury tax penalties looming.

    Via trade I’d be seeing if I can pluck Monte Ellis off the cheap. Again… He is getting paid a lot of money for a team that isn’t competing and a guy who can’t really win with if he is playing out of position at SG. Sure anyone can play SG offensively… But he is too small to gaurd guys that are 6-6. At PG on the Lakers he would turn from a volume low efficiency scorer to a dynamic slasher and spot up shooter along with a top defensive PG with his athletissim and length for that spot. Again… This depends on how much the Lakers can afford to spend. But with that Time Warner TV deal which it’s said will turn the Lakers into the Yankees I’m sure that won’t be a problem. Heck… That’s a big reason there is a lockout right now. The rest of the NBA is afraid of what the Lakers could become with this new money. Billions of new money :). Are the Warriors desperate enough to get out of that giant contract where they would take an older Lamar Odom and change? That’s the question. And of course you would need a back up big. But there might be plenty of options there for the MLE with David West, and amnestied guys like Rashard Lewis. Lots of tough questions for a Lakers team that might only have a title window of 6 more months.

  16. IF there is a season, I think the Lakers will target a C-PF over a PG, unless a can`t pass up player suddenly becomes a possibility. A C-PF has to be added in any cae.

  17. Rusty Shackleford November 22, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    @16 –

    Let’s look at the Lakers’ current depth at the two positions you mentioned:

    C-PF: Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom; Derrick Character

    PG: Derik Fisher; Steve Blake

    I’m all for upgrading at any position but if they passed on a PG for a C-PF because they thought the C-PF was probably the better player I’d s*** myself.

  18. No new post today ya’ll. I’m swamped at the day job. Again.

    Though, I do find this discussion interesting. My quick two cents: Both an upgrade at PG and a serviceable 4th big (preferably someone that can play Center and PF) are a must. I don’t see how they don’t at least try to address both positions in FA (whether amnesty or not) or trade.

  19. 17)
    “I’m all for upgrading at any position but if they passed on a PG for a C-PF because they thought the C-PF was probably the better player I’d s*** myself.”

    Now you understand why I was going crazy last year. I did s@#$ myself. Everyone now is saying how the Lakers need an upgrade at the PG spot just because the Lakers lost last year. As I said last offseason to me you always need to try and improve no matter what… even when you just won a championship. Especially when you have the worst PGs in the NBA. That’s why I loved how the Lakers upgraded at SF after they beat the Magic. It was a huge reason why they won it again the next year against the Celtics. I felt it was do or die for us to get a below average starting PG last year because I thought it was our best chance to win another championship before the Heat got actual NBA players around their big 3. I mean they had a retired Mike Bibby and a 6-9 Center who’s next basket will be his first starting… and they still made it to game 6 of the Finals with LeBron not showing up at all. The Lakers bringing in even an average starting PG might not be enough next season.

  20. The Lakers still have two players they drafted this year — plus a PG they signed late last year. Just sayin’…

    My guess is that management thinks we need a backup center first and a PG only after that – no matter what we fans may think.

  21. dave m ..
    “you can’t travel in two opposite directions and still reach the middle”

    You can if you go far enough.

    The owners would make up the loss this year in future years – 50% of a smaller pie is more than 47% of a slightly larger pie. Or at least that is what they are gambling.

  22. Rusty Shackleford November 22, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    @ 19 –

    All of this is begging the question – Who are the realistic prospects to help us upgrade? I would put something together but I’m too lazy. I’m mainly interested in free agents because, as you suggested earlier, the Lakers don’t have much to trade with.

    Plus, since it seems we are definitely going to have to settle with a pg with some deficiencies because we can’t afford a really strong pg, what strengths are we looking for and what weaknesses are we willing to deal with. For me, personally, I’d put the premium on defense and outside shooting if such a combo should present itself. I’m willing to deal with our pg being turnover prone or a streaky shooter because A) if the offense is similar to the Triangle at all we all know that the pg doesn’t handle the ball all that much and B) streaky shooters still demand the respect of defenses. I’m sick of watching sub-par defensive teams like the Suns be able to give the Lakers fits by packing the paint like they did in the playoffs two years ago.

    It is great to discuss something other than the lockout.

  23. Rusty Shackleford November 22, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    Also, the thing I’m probably going to miss most about the Christmas games being lost this year is see Adam Sandler and Kevin James look all stoned and/or coked out as well as paranoid during an interview during the Laker Christmas game. Did anyone else notice that last year?

  24. Have you recieved your NBA catalog yet, w/o any products featuring players, of course.

    My reaction opon thumbing thru it was along the lines of Kobe’s famous rant of several years ago: “Are you ******* kidding me?”

  25. Dave – You are right. The path to profit for this season went away the day the owners issued a lockout. Now the owners’ strategy is to delay settlement talks as long as possible in the hopes that the players will panic the more paychecks they miss and with the hope that any losses they suffer today will be covered by long term profits (as exhelodrvr points out).

  26. Pau and Bynum are the only tru C`s and Bynum is suspended to start the season,so adding a C is a must. Maybe the Lakers will get lucky and be able to add some quality at both positions,but the odds are against it.

  27. I think Bynum got at least 5 days of suspension, and if there are like only 50 games, that is 10 percent of the season he is out, without injury. But, how can it be justified to improve the depth of the Laker bigs, before addressing the PG issue, and this a big issue, btw. I would really hope the two rookies could come in, and run circles around what we currently have immediately, I just would not bet on it, unfortunately. I mean, worst case is that LO and Pau play together as the Lakers starting PF and Center.

  28. Ideally get a serviceable vet at C, and trade or use any salary dump to get quality at PG. Because of cap reasons ,I think the Lakers will keep both rookie guards and if he stays,Blake is a big ? in the new system,and will affect moves for a PG.

  29. 22)
    Yes… Defense and outside shooting are the main strengths we would be looking for with Kobe/Lamar dominating the ball on the outside and Gasol/Bynum doing the same in the high post and paint respectively. Like I said the perfect guys who might be attainable is OJ Mayo.

    26)
    I think you are wrong on both counts. As you can read here according to ESPN.com insiders scouting report on Gasol the Lakers only have one true Center… “Gasol’s stats are solid overall, but there’s a stark division between his results at the 4 and the 5. Gasol struggles when he has to play center because he isn’t physical, but his length and mobility makes him a plus at the power forward position. 82games.com shows some of this via opponent PER, which is much worse when Gasol plays center. He won’t foul, posting the third-lowest rate among centers, and has improved his effort on the boards considerably since the Celtics punked him in the 2008 NBA Finals. That said, he’s primarily a finesse player, and Andrew Bynum’s presence helps him considerably.”

    Having said that… The Lakers already have one starting Center in Andrew Bynum. That means they have one more Center than they do starting PG. Whats more important a back up Center or starting PG?

  30. #1 priority should be at PG. I cannot stress this enough. Any opposing PG will look like an All Star running circles around Fisher. If the Lakers cannot get a good PG for whatever reason, start Blake and bench Fisher. Fisher coming off the bench might do him and the team some good. We don’t know how Blake will do as a starter, but I think he will do a better job than Fisher. I would definitely take Mayo if given the chance, he can be outstanding with the Lakers.

  31. Well if Pau isn`t a true C, then the Lakers don`t have a true C for at least the first 5 games of the season. Since they have 4 guys to share PG, a true C is more important,and the more time Pau spends at PF, the better.

  32. Rusty Shackleford November 23, 2011 at 9:25 am

    What wold we have to give up to get OJ Mayo?

  33. 31)
    Potentially the MLE

  34. Regardless what we fans say – IMO – the Laker front office looks at the need for a backup center as being greater than the need to add a PG to a mix that now has 3 candidates.

    Scream all you want – they won’t hear you.

  35. Sorry for the mistake – the Lakers have 4 candidates for PG, the 4th being Trey Johnson.

  36. Craig is right. AB is a free agent this year and this team needs to get at least one full season out of the guy before they resign him or he leaves us for more cash. A good backup center will go a long way to helping Drew avoid injury by staying off the court.

    Hey, isn’t Kwame a free agent?

  37. One more thing, what if the Lakers pick up a certain ex-Mr. Kardashian who is currently a free agent as a backup center/PF? Yes! Mitch, make it so!

  38. Crap.. one more thing. Bynum is a free agent next year, not this year. I meant to say at the end of this year.

  39. A couple things. First, I don’t really believe in a PG vs. big argument because we need both, plain and simple. Let’s be honest about depth however – Ratliff and Smith aren’t coming back and Mitch has sounded very doubtful about bringing Derek back. That would leave us with fewer bigs than anytime I can recall in recent Lakers history. Unless there’s a mystery 7-footer stashed away that nobody’s told me about.

    Second, to my longtime blogging buddy ex – we’re gonna have to agree to disagree on that one. The further the owners go without revenue coming in (and add some very steep legal fees), the harder it will be to ever recoup. They had a deal IN HAND. Okay? The union had basically caved. They agreed to give up a ton of money and all they needed was a minimum of system tweaks. The owners decided to pass. Now, you’ve got Paul Clement on one side and David Boies on the other, plus their supporting casts. And, the suits have been filed. IMO, the path to a financial victory for the league is getting real murky.

  40. That is another issue, will or can the Lakers even be able to keep Bynum, when he is a free agent next year. I think he will go to a team that can offer him a big contract, and I doubt that will be the Lakers, who are at the 100m mark now. Whatever happens in the current negotiations, I think teams like the Lakers are not going to be able to buy a Championship anymore. So, we need Kobe’s 6th ring like NOW.

  41. 40–good points. The Lakers must find a way to divest $20 million in salary, probably more, over the next 3 years. $10 million this year might be a good start.

    The dreams of adding PG salary this year, unless there are true emergencies, are fantasies.

    The 3rd PG next year will be Morris. I believe Goudelock and Trey Johnson have made commitments for the year already. Ebanks or Barnes may occupy Shannon Brown’s slot next year, though I could imagine Shannon back. Caracter is likely to be in the rotation with the bigs. If Ratliff doesn’t return, that backup center slot must be filled.

    Although the facts will not be in place for days, I believe that we will have basketball for Christmas–a 66 game season–with a CBA quite similar to the most recent NBA owners slightly adjusted proposal.

  42. The Lakers have a team option on Bynum for the 12-13 season. If he becomes a FA after this season it’s because the Lakers want it that way, not the other way around.