From Andy Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: With the lockout now ended, we can actually examine questions beyond, “When will we see basketball again?” One topic, of course, is how the Lakers’ offense will run under new coach Mike Brown. Since October 2005, we’ve seen this Lakers core run the triangle under Phil Jackson. Really, that system represents the Lakers’ look since October 1999, save a brief period under Rudy Tomjanovich. It’s safe to say the aesthetics under Brown will be different. How different, you ask? Well, that’s difficult to answer with real certainty. Since July 1, when the lockout began, access to Brown has been limited. When he has been available, league rules have prohibited him from speaking publicly about current players by name. Thus, specific details have been in short supply for quite some time. But we have been offered hints, along with some templates, to stoke our imaginations.
From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: Mitch Kupchak is facing some tricky questions. Without a lot of money to work with, the Lakers have critical holes to fill around a championship caliber core. Point guard gets most of the focus, though prospects for quick improvement are slim thanks to a lack of solid free agent options or suitable trade chips. They need a shooter, and must get a viable backup to Andrew Bynum at center. A little speed would be nice, as would a dose of athleticism. If there’s one more open question perhaps not getting enough attention, it’s this: Who exactly is going to back up Kobe Bryant?
From Wandahbap, Silver Screen and Roll: Months of scare tactics. Weeks of threats. Then, just days to resolve. I really feel like the NBA just wasted countless hours of my time during this whole lockout soap opera. All of the SportsCenter segments I watched about it, the stupid sports talk radio bits I listened to, propaganda articles I filtered through and read to find the real story. All a waste of my time. The facebook post, the tweets, the conversations. All a waste of my energy. We’re sitting back at ease. Our minds relaxed that there will be an NBA season. As if the possibility of a lost NBA season was ever real. Still, we played their game. We took our sides and fretted over the outcome. An outcome that sure seemed like it could have been made a long time ago. The NBA should have known it was coming to this and spared us the suspense. Instead, they put on the show. Waited until the players actually decertified, then negotiated in earnest. Making us wait as they wasted time swinging their stuff around. This was the deal it was always meant to be. They just had to grind it out until we got the point. The chickens don’t run the coop.
From Zach Lowe, The Point Forward: We’ve all been obsessing for months over the new amnesty rule, which will allow each team to cut one player currently under contract and have that player’s salary (which the team must still pay) vanish from its salary-cap number. Teams will be able to use amnesty once over the course of the new collective bargaining agreement. The rule comes loaded with moral issues: Why should teams that signed or acquired overpaid, non-productive players be rewarded with a get-out-of-jail free card, especially since the new, harsh luxury-tax penalties won’t come into effect until the 2013-14 season, giving teams two years to prepare? And wouldn’t the rule be unfair to teams that have kept their cap sheets clean for this crop of free agents? They might face more competition as rivals shed salary, and players who end up as amnesty cuts might view such teams as unappealing destinations, since such players could sign minimum-level deals with glamorous contenders.
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: Congratulations, NBA owners. $3 billion! You can rightly celebrate, because $3 billion is one heck of a haul to jerk from the players’ side to yours, as is projected over the course of the new 10-year collective bargaining agreement. Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum celebrate the Lakers’ last NBA championship in 2010. But, um, how much are the Lakers – all by themselves – getting from Time Warner Cable for its new regional sports networks? $5 billion. I’d add a “Cha-ching!” sound effect, but no one is fitting $5 billion in any cash register. That $5 billion is over 25 years – or it’ll be merely $4 billion over 20 years if the future option isn’t exercised. It has been widely and wrongly reported as less.
From Mark Medina, LA Times: Kobe Bryant serves as the perfect symbol for the argument by the players’ union that they drive the NBA’s popularity. Yet, the Lakers star reportedly urged his colleagues to accept a 50-50 split in basketball-related income. Bryant definitely loves making money, and is paid lots of it, ranging from his remaining three years, $83.5 million with the Lakers and his Nike endorsement deals. But he also recognizes he has limited years left in winning as many championships as possible. Whether Bryant wants to admit it, time also appears closing in on his chance to climb up the NBA’s all-time scoring list. He is sixth on the list with 27,868 points, trailing Shaquille O’Neal (28,596), Wilt Chamberlain (31,419), Michael Jordan (32,292), Karl Malone (36,928) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387). So it’s only realistic he can pass O’Neal this season and possibly throw a parting shot at his former nemesis and teammate. Even with a compressed 66-game schedule, however, Bryant will likely surpass Chamberlain and Jordan before his contract ends.
From Mark Medina, LA Times: Finally, we can talk about money and contract lengths without feeling further agitated about the NBA’s labor dispute. With both sides agreeing to the overall framework of a new collective bargaining agreement, we can now apply those economic terms to free agency, slated to coincide with training camp beginning Dec. 9. The CBA affects how teams will approach free agency, but there’s something more tantalizing about discussing this issue than over the previous fight between millionaires and billionaires. I put together an extensive list this off-season of free agent profiles. But below are the four free agents who both fill the Lakers’ needs and appear to be feasible in acquisitions.
From Mark Heisler, LA Times: It’s Showtime! Or, at least, its latest incarnation hopes it still is, as a brilliant dawn rises once again over Lakerdom … It’s not hard to tell who won this war–the owners, especially the big ones. Nor is it hard to tell which of them won the most: That was Jerry Buss, the biggest of all. When the NBA couldn’t get a full ban on sign-and-trades, it left his Lakers in position to pull off a coup they’re dreaming of, which would make signing LeBron James pale by comparison. If Dwight Howard and Chris Paul wind up on the market — a safe assumption as far as I’m concerned — the Lakers could offer Andrew Bynum for Dwight and Pau Gasol for CP3, or vice versa. Nothing says that they will be enough to land either player, but it should put the Lakers in the running for both. (Oh, and Dwight likes the Lakers. Asked which All-Star he would most like to play with last season, he answered “Kobe Bryant.”) Nor will finances be a problem, ever again.