One More Way To Add Talent

Darius Soriano —  November 30, 2011

The new CBA will restrict the ways the Lakers can add talent. As a luxury tax paying team, the Lakers would have a lower mid-level exception to use on free agents (this mini-MLE would allow contracts worth 3million/year for up to 4 years), would not have the use of the bi-annual exception (which, if you don’t recall, is what the Lakers used to sign Shannon Brown after he was acquired via trade), and would have limitations on the use of sign and trades starting in year 3 of the new deal. Plus, as we already discussed, don’t expect the Lakers to fill their holes via picking up amnestied players on the cheap. All in all, the new CBA is not high payroll team friendly and that will affect how the Lakers do business.

However, there’s one asset the Lakers still do have at their disposal and it’s a carry over from the last CBA. As Larry Coon tweeted:

Timely trade exception: the league resumes business on 12/9. The Lakers’ $5.5M trade exception for Sasha Vujacic expires 12/15.

 As it turns out, a cost-cutting move last season – trading Sasha to the Nets for Joe Smith –  may end up being a way for the Lakers to add a nice contract to their payroll this season. This is a nice card to have up their sleeve should a mid-level contract come on the market that a team is willing to dump for some additional cap room to chase a FA or to place a bid on an amnestied player on the secondary waiver market.

There are still some issues to work out, however. As Coon points out, the original deadline for the Lakers to use the exception is only 6 days after the NBA plans to open for business. And while the league is opening their practice facilities to players tomorrow and have allowed preliminary contact between players and agents to start today, that 12/15 deadline doesn’t leave much time for the Lakers to make inroads on acquiring a player. Especially when every front office will be scrambling mad trying to fill roster spots of their own by courting free agents and working the phones to acquire players (rather than sending one away for, essentially, nothing but more cap space).

That said, reports have been trickling in that the league may extend the deadlines for teams to use these exceptions since the league was not open for business for what will end up being a shade over 5 months. After all, what would the league tell a team like the Cavs who have a large exception that would have expired in July? Here’s hoping the league makes a ruling on this soon so teams know where they stand and can look into how they can use their assets.

And, make no mistake, this is an asset for the Lakers. As mentioned earlier, their only means of adding players this off-season will be the mini-mid level exception, the veteran minimum, or executing a trade that upsets the core of their roster. However, this exception changes that by giving them an additional 5.5 million to work with in a trade for one or more players. Sure, there are restrictions – the exception can’t be combined with other assets to form a bigger trade, but the exception can be split into pieces to trade for multiple players.

Whether the Lakers decide to use this exception remains to be seen. But in an off-season where their options would be limited, it’s good to know that they have one more card up their sleeve to try and add to their talent base and fill holes on their roster.

Darius Soriano

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to One More Way To Add Talent

  1. Darius, aren’t there several teams that have the TPE available from last year (like Clev, Tor, from the LBJ and Bosh “trades”)? Wonder if smaller market teams will not trade with the Lakers knowing that they will be helping the top franchise through the new CBA which is more restrictive against luxury tax teams like the Lakers.


  2. S&T for Jeff Foster using that TE wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility. Indiana looks like it wants as much cap space as possible. I like Foster, even though he’s gotten older and less effective, but I’m still holding out hope we can do better with this asset. Anyone have better (but realistic) trade suggestions out there?

    OT, but has anyone heard anything about Azubuike rehabbing from that injury? He might be a decent option to back up Kobe if healthy, though I’d prefer Jason Richardson. And with our limited options, I’d hate to take a flyer on a guy coming off an injury.


  3. Here’s a list of TPEs that are available:

    Seems like there are a lot TPEs out there.


  4. #3. Yes, but there are always alot. However, the Lakers have one of the 6 or 7 largest ones. That said, my point is more that they actually do have a way to add a mid-level player worth more $ if they choose to do so for this season. They’re not just limited to the exceptions in the new CBA.


  5. I am a fan of this site’s general no trade speculation policy, but right now there isn’t much more to talk about… Unfortunately, everything is just wild speculation at this point, so it seems even more pointless than usual.

    With that said. I think the Lakers should amnesty Mr. Peace (as much as I love the guy). Someone may pick him up and save them some bucks (no one is picking up Luke).

    From there the only really trade-able players the Lakers have are Bynum and Odom. And I am not sure how much interest there is in Bynum (though he has a very reasonable contract). If the Lakers could get Howard, Nene, or Gasol (the other one), using Bynum as a trade chip would be a no-brainer to me.

    Another player I’d like to see on the Lakers (especially with Brown as coach) would be Rondo. None of these moves solve our outside shooting woes. Weren’t Blake and Barnes supposed to help with that?.

    I don’t think it can be done, but losing Bynum and Peace while picking up Rondo and Nene/Gasol might be kind of interesting.

    Yeah, I know it is a pipe dream born of boredom from a lack of real basketball to discuss – hurry up Christmas….


  6. Don’t even think about Nene for Bynum.


  7. @5. Agree 100%

    @6. Yes, Nene is not that good as people say. But Marc Gasol or DH are way better than our trouble kid.


  8. Anyone who thinks the Lakers will cut Artest who is their best SF and one of the top defenders in the NBA must not think the Lakers are trying to win this season. The luxury tax is still the same as it was last year.


  9. rumblings that the Nets are after D Howard …


  10. Also… We can discuss players that are close to comparable… But you can’t really mention Gasol and Bynum in the same breath. Gasol is a chubby skilled big man who can’t jump, defend, or rebound.


  11. It seems the long layoff w/o basketball has made people forget who’s actually good and what this team actually needs.

    #10. Marc’s a very good player overall and is a strong positional defensive player. He’s not the impact defender that a healthy and engaged Bynum is, but few big men are. I’d rather have Bynum, but let’s not disparage the younger Gasol, here.

    #5. What’s the point in discussing trade scenarios when it’s mostly pure silliness and speculation? The Lakers have the chips to make a move. They also have the chips to win *now* with a couple of tweaks to their roster that aren’t that major. Why get caught up in the big chase for someone until it’s clear that’s really a possibility and that the team is actually interested in doing so?


  12. The Lakers should probably keep the amnesty for down the road when the salary tax penalties actually kick in, but one interesting scenario would be if the Hornets decide to amnesty Trevor Ariza, the Lakers could amnesty World Peace and sign TA for a discount.


  13. If Mitch does pull off something big, he’ll do it silently, before we know what’s going on. Mitch is the assassin of GMs.


  14. i figure the lakers don’t want to use the vujacic trade exception on anybody with more than 3 years remaining on the books. there are a bunch of eligible players, but here are the ones that jumped out at me:

    zaza pachulia, chris “birdman” anderson, jason maxiell, louis amundson, hasheem thabeet, darko milicic, nikola pekovic, david andersen, robin lopez.

    i like darko milicic best.


  15. Just to clarify, I was not suggesting a straight up trade of Bynum for either Nene (an FA) or M. Gasol. I am not suggesting that they are equal talents. What I was suggesting is that they may be better fits for what the Lakers need going forward, if they also free up room for an advantageous trade. I was also acknowledging that the Lakers do need an adequate big to replace Bynum (trading him for a pg is no good).

    I am not at all on board with the idea that the Lakers can win now with a couple of tweaks. The last we saw of the Lakers, they were getting swept by the Mavs and I don’t see them getting better, just older. I think there need to be a couple of major moves and the only piece that makes sense to me is Bynum. But you are right. Darius. It was just absurd speculation on my part. We’ll see how things shake out in the coming weeks.


  16. IMO, it is common fan practice to base this year’s expectations on last year’s performance.

    Fortunately good GMs do not subscribe to this type of thinking. Just because some of the Lakers had down years last season is no indication they will continue the trend. When you take into account Pau’s exhaustion, MWP’s struggles, the shorter and more compact season, the change in coaching and approach to the game, I think you have to feel the Lakers will come into this year with some extra motivation. Lamar may be the only player who falls off a little, because his year was so outstanding.

    While it may be somewhat simple to measure each year by the last, it is rarely accurate.


  17. Darius,
    I never said Marc Gasol was a bad Center. I said he isn’t in the same league as Bynum (something everyone agrees on). I don’t think he is in the same league as Nene either. We disagree though about his defense. It’s not that he doesn’t try… It’s just he’s too slow, especially to play team defense.

    Yes some Lakers will have better years… But some will also have worse years (Odom). The elephant in the room is our PG spot. It’s going to be hard to play another season with no starting PG but we could stand pat and risk it… But it would be a huge gamble.


  18. The worst thing a championship team can do is to “rest laurels” and thnk they are good enough next year. I know alot of you are hesitant to make trades to ruin chemistry, but as is we are a ruined bunch. The only thing I see working is talent, a new coach and an opportunity to improve.

    I actually posted my proposal in the site some days back but it got “lost in moderation” …


  19. 18)
    I wouldn’t say we are a ruined bunch. Quite the opposite. In Vegas we are second to the Heat as the favorites to win the championship. What our goal should be is to be the odds on favorite. And of course once you’re there the goal is always to keep improving your league leading odds.


  20. @15 and 18:

    I will be in the minority, but I believe the Lakers are good enough to win as is. Barring injuries, they still have the best and most dynamic front line in the league and Kobe. Before last year, they had gone to 3 Finals in a row and I think physical and more importantly mental fatigue was a big part of last year’s collapse. I am far more worried about the coaching and system change than adding talent.

    So within that context, US$5.5 million gets you an impact role player in this league and I am all for that. Perhaps the Lakers could even get someone like Shane Battier or Andrei Kirilenko with a front end loaded contract?


  21. @ 20, I agree with you. Shane Battier would be a good fit (if MWP is gone), but we need a PG first.


  22. Are we good to win as is?

    Hell yeah, but we’ll need a lot of things going our way. It’s not like a couple years ago when you needed a lot of things going AGAINST our way to win it all.

    Thankfully, I don’t see anyone out west that is significantly better than us. Barring another Bynum injury, I think we have a great shot at the Finals, but against the Heat, I don’t like our chances at all.


  23. DY,
    If you’re a small market team w/a vet who has a salary of $5-5.5mil who is not part of your future and you can trade him to the Lakers for a late First
    (or a conditioned Second and max cash) you do it in a heartbeat.
    Not only do you shed salary of a player who won’t be part of your future,you get 1/30th of his salary back in Lux Tax for the next two yrs.


  24. Well, if Dallas comes back the way they were, then we have had better countered them with some player moves before the Playoffs, or was that 4 game sweep just a freak accident that will never happen again?


  25. A few thoughts–

    1. The Lakers need to add a perimeter player who can help the team, either by playing the point, being a quality spot-up threat, or being able to do 1-2 things well and create offense. They really can’t go with Fisher and Blake again, particularly with the new system.
    2. They need a backup 5 who can play 15 minutes a night and fill in during injuries.
    3. They need to work the younger guys into the mix a little, if they are ready to contribute. I am specifically thinking of Ebanks and Goudelock.

    As far as landing the big fish…both my gut and logic tell me that neither Howard nor Paul is coming here. That said, if there is any chance of it occurring, (particularly Howard) and Buss and Kupchak know this, they need to be proactive about trying to make it happen.


  26. sT

    I do think it was more or less a freak accident with Pau playing the way he did. There was something really wrong there and it had nothing to do with individual talent or team talent.


  27. On the PG need, I’d rather give our rookies the leftover minutes after Fisher and Blake. Whoever else we add, if it does not work out then it will be another deadweight 2-3 year contract.

    We have to start giving 5-10 minutes to our rookies.


  28. Rusty Shackleford December 1, 2011 at 6:16 am

    While I’m happy that there is a better chance that our rookies/2nd-year players will get more playing time. I’m not confident in the two veteran pg’s to play well enough to give this team a chance to win games.

    I think one way to gauge Mike Brown’s stature with his players will be Derik Fisher’s minutes. If Fish comes out playing as bad as he did last year or worse and continues to get 30 minutes a game it means that Coach Brown is doing exactly what Kobe Bryant is telling him to do.


  29. Aaron, I couldn’t be the least interested even if Vegas had us the 29th best team. IMO our team is a ruined bunch… chemistry and trust are not there. Most of all, the fluidity isn’t there.

    I know it will only get tougher if I propose a deal without Bynum but I sure do liked the fluidity we had when we were able to pass and run with Pau at C, Odom at PF and TREVOR ARIZA at SF.


  30. 23. [Stephen] Does the new CBA allow you to put conditions with TPE (include draft picks)? It was my understanding that TPEs could not be sent out as part of a trade package which included players and/or picks. I might be wrong. Paging Larry Coon…

    If that’s the case, then Clev’s TPE, coupled with a potentially lower draft pick would be more appealing, no?


  31. DY, the TPE can be used to acquire players of lesser salary (for instance, one earning 5.3M) or 2 guys earning (2.4 and 3.0) … 1st rounders being part of the deal as a non-simultaneous deal is doable.


  32. Ok. I stand corrected. I wonder if the league will extend the TPE deadlines b/c technically, the Clev/Tor TPEs (substantial ones) all expired, and Sasha’s expires soon. But I would look to find at most, a player that has a contract no longer than 2 years (including this year). No sense in ruining future cap flexibility by taking a longer term contract. But Clev. does have a surplus of PGs if we would be interested in one.


  33. There is a deal I am such a huge fan of. It completely disparges any of our original idea of a team. Its huge and its huge and its huge. It doesn’t involve getting Dwight or CP3. But it does give a brand new perspective of things.

    May I also remind everyone that if we think that 2012 cap space was ever a remote possibility, then you are more delusional than I am.

    @wwlofficial is my twitter account and I will be flooding that with endless trade speculation ideas. Once we find the one drrayeye agrees to, thats the deal to take. Remember the 2 of us conspiring our Gasol pitch? That worked out quite fine don’t you think?


  34. I think it’s madness to claim this team can’t win with a few tweaks and/or improved performances from some of the players that had down years last year (Artest, Blake, etc).

    Last season was extremely disappointing, but was not played in a vacuum. Hindsight tells us the grind of going to three straight Finals wore on them tremendously both physically and mentally. Not to mention other factors like Kobe not practicing as much and the variable of it being Phil’s last season. To simply take last season’s performance and translate that to this season is the least nuanced type of analysis to be done.

    That said, this team’s margin for error has shrunk, but that doesn’t mean they can’t win – it simply means things will need to break their way for it to happen. But, guess what, that’s the case *every single season*.

    Who remembers Ariza’s steals against Denver? Or Fisher’s three pointers against Orlando? Or Courtney Lee’s missed lay-in? Or Artest’s put back against Phoenix or Pau’s against OKC? Championship teams are surely about talent, but championship seasons also have elements of luck to them.

    I can’t believe the season hasn’t started yet and some are already burying the team. Oh wait, yes I can. We’re Laker fans. *Sigh*


  35. Also, I don’t care how much logic goes into trade speculation, this isn’t the site for it. That goes for new commenters or long time ones. I don’t mean to be a kill joy, but I don’t mind being one either.


  36. Okay Lakers fans… I have it. I think I found a likley way we solve our PG problems and bring in a below average NBA starting PG. That FA is Rodney Stuckey. With the new CBA there is no way Stuckey gets paid more than 5.5 million a year at his position. The Pistons just drafted a starting PG and wouldn’t want to keep him especially if he says he wants out of there. The Lakers can easily use their trade exemption on him while throwing in Darius Morris and Devin Ebanks. This only works if a few things happen. 1) The Pistons don’t want to pay him over 5 million a year or Stuckey makes them beleive he doesn’t want to play there anymore. 2) The Miami Heat use their MLE on a Center like everyone expects. 3) Stuckey wants to be the starting PG for the Los Angeles Lakers. Personally I don’t think any of those three things won’t happen. Here is hoping Mitch is as smart as me 🙂


  37. #36. Did you read what I wrote in #35? If not, do so now.

    Also, this is why I hate trade speculation, the rules of the CBA aren’t even being enforced here and neither is a lot of logic. First of all, Stuckey is an RFA so he’d need to sign off on any S&T to any team. Second, trade exceptions can not be combined with players to make a deal.

    Trade speculation by fans is always about “I know what this person is thinking”. Do you? GREAT. Glad that’s settled and that suddenly you know what’s on the mind of a person you’ve likely never met, and if you did it was to ask him for his autograph.


  38. Aaron, we’re likely the 2 most polarizing figures this side of FB and G. I don’t support your Fish-kill and I find it annoying, but twitter could be a good way to connect us rebels.


  39. OR should I say rebel-hearts.


  40. Darius,
    In what world would Rodney Stuckey not want to be the starting PG of the Los Angeles Lakers next to Kobe, Artest, Gasol, Bynum and Odom? Have you been to Detroit? These guys go to the best cities, with the best teams, for the most money available always.


  41. Rusty Shackleford December 1, 2011 at 9:31 am

    Can we make a rule that makes any talk of the lockout not allowed? I’m so happy to be passed that. Other than what the Lakers will do (with their new system or through trade/free agency) I don’t know what else excited Laker fans would want to discuss right now.

    I wonder how much to rookes will play?


  42. Warren G,
    I am not a rebell. I just know a lot about basketball and speak the truth as I see it.


  43. #40 Maybe in a world where he wants the ball more. Maybe in a world where he thinks he’s worth more than 5.5 million. Maybe in a world where he wants to grow his game on his terms with a team that he chooses, not one that’s chosen for him? You know, like Jordan Farmar did.

    Just because you think something is right, doesn’t make it what everyone else thinks.


  44. Aaron,
    We all speak the truth as we see it – except for a very few trolls.

    That is not the point of trying to limit the trade talk. All you have to do is go to Kurt’s NBC site and look at the comments to see what this site would degenerate to if we allowed trade speculation.


  45. Young teams have more room for improvement than aging veteran teams. Like others here, I expect a rejuvenated Lakers team to improve this season (despite their age)…. but the problem is, their competition will also improve…and aside from the Mavericks and Celtics, the rest of the contenders (Heat, Bulls,Thunder, Grizz) haven’t even come close to reaching their full potential.

    The Grizzlies made an impressive run last season. Young, motivated players like Conley and Gasol can only improve, and with the invaluable playoff experience they gained last season coupled with the return of a healthy Rudy Gay, arguably their best player, they will be dangerous.

    The Thunder is another young team that is trying to get over the hump, and I expect Durant / Westbrook / Harden to be on a mission this season. As good as they were last season, these young studs have plenty of room for growth.

    Than there’s the Mavericks, who enter this season with the confidence of being a championship. Those old days of waiting for a Mavericks collapse are long gone.

    And of course there is the Heat who almost won it all in their first year together, without a center. I expect them to pick up a center (Dalembert?), and be much improved.

    I don’t believe a couple minor tweaks will be enough for the Lakers to win it all in this evolving NBA landscape. The team is slow at almost every position, with major deficiencies at PG and depth. If they are serious about maximizing Kobe’s twilight years and competing with the likes of Miami for the next 5 years, they need their own ‘Big 3’, and go after Dwight at all costs.

    The Nets have offered Brook Lopez and two 1st round picks for Dwight and Turkolu’s bloated contract. If the Lakers are serious about starting another dynasty, they can make a similar, if not better offer of Bynum, Lamar, draft picks. This is a Jerry West moment. He went after Shaq with everything he had, and I believe it is wise, if not cruial, for Jim Buss to do the same with Dwight.


  46. Darius,
    Farmar was backing up Derek Fisher… Something any PG would be nauseated even thinking about. He left in the hope for more playing time. Stuckey would actually play more on the Lakers as unlike most NBA teams the Lakers don’t even have a quality back up. Of course he would want the most money possible. As I’ve stated with the new CBA and the position he plays that just won’t be possible. As far as growing his game… He has been the go to guy in Detroit for some time now. He has had that freedom. Do you really think if the Lakers could offered him as much to play here he wouldn’t jump at that chance? The only more attractive option is Miami.

    My comment was more RFA speculation than trade speculation. As everyone who has read this site for the last six years knows I’m more against trade speculation than Darius.


  47. And Darius… Haha… Not to be a brat/snob but I have spoken to Farmar. I went to his charity event the summer he left for Jersey right before he chose to leave. His first option he told me was to stay in LA, play more and start. He told me if the Lakers said that wasn’t an option he of course would sign somewhere else. I actually wrote that same thing on this site that summer.

    Buss has always said he would trade Bynum for the right deal.


  48. Count me amongst the lovers of the low trade speculation rate around here. That being said, the content of the post does seem to invite it.

    I know it would be difficult and time-consuming, but simply putting up a list of realistic candidates would help. The consensus among the level headed seems to be that the Lakers could use a starting PG, backup Center, and possibly a replacement for S. Brown if he leaves. I think we can safely say that no one is giving away a starting PG making under $6m for nothing. If they are, the player is likely to not be an upgrade over Fisher and Blake.

    Next, which teams are actually looking to dump salary? And on those teams, who are the players who might fit the parameters?

    From a fan perspective, it’s much easier to identify the player you want to acquire, but I would like to see a list of teams potentially willing to dump salary before listening to or indulging in speculation.

    Anybody seen a creditable, recent list floating around the internets?


  49. how many elite teams did the lakers beat last regular season?

    without a spectacular trade (fingers crossed) or a couple of timely injuries to other teams’ stars, how in the world does this roster win a title?!

    1. is MWP going to be in better or worse shape
    2. is kobe going to be younger or older
    3. is lamar going to be more involved or less (reversion to mean, it’s the law)
    4. is blake suddenly going to be good, if ‘yes’ why (magical thinking doesn’t count)
    5. is a new coach and system going to take less than a season to work out, or more than a season
    6. is Pau going to be magically cured of whatever affected him last *season*, if so, what was wrong and how was it fixed

    etc, etc, etc

    i am thrilled with the last two championships and the seasons that went along with them. but from where i sit the current roster played well for exactly 17 games last season. tell me why things are so different now that this roster has a chance of being champs.

    all last season, laker fans deluded themselves that what they saw each and every regular season game (save for that 17 game span) wasn’t the “real” lakers. guesss what, it was the real lakers.

    and now, the same old wishful thinking is going on again. it helps, i know, but it isn’t realistic. and that’s what i want in a forum like this — educated, realistic, analysis.

    almost everyone here knows basketball better than i do, but i trust my eyes and my math:) until a major roster upgrade takes plpace, this team aint winning the western conference, much less the league.

    commence with the name calling, while i get a beer.


  50. Nobody is more against trade speculation than Darius!

    Which is good ….

    I will agree with Aaron’s implying Detroit isn’t all that as a place to live, but how much time does an NBA baller have to stay in the area his team is stationed anyway? One third of the year?

    Now, having said that, LA has a number of built in advantages to most other locales. Not just the basketball culture, and the opportunity to try one’s hand as an entertainer via teevee and music (or hip hop anyway), but also the women. And, oh yeah, I guess the Lakers do have a pretty good rep as a winning team.


  51. cjm @ 50 raises convincing points all around.


  52. The changed CBA is going to provide testing grounds for new ways to execute “transitions.” We have waivers, amnesty, and stretch; we have trade exceptions; we still have sign and trades–all in the context of needs to radically reduce salaries downstream in just two years.

    It creates a volitility in which almost any player could transfer to almost any team–sometime in a career–if not this season. Speculation is irresistible.

    With the really major negotiations completed in the last two years, and with a full complement of players under contract or obligated, the Lakers can avoid some of the drama facing most every other team. They can field a great team and stand aloof, trading and acquiring as needed when needed.

    No wonder Mitch was smiling on the cover of the LA Times Sports page this morning. . . .


  53. i have some cheese for all the whine coming from the Farmar lovers/Fish haters/doomsday seers.

    as Darius said, luck is always part of the equation. just a bit of luck in the playoffs last year and the Lakers might have won the finals. you know, the kind of luck involved when career role players can’t miss from 3 point range in the playoffs even though they were only mediocre the rest of their careers(think Trevor Ariza a couple of years ago)…

    this team can certainly compete, even with the present point guards. would it be better to get some help? yes! the thing is, we’ll have to see what happens when the games are played and the deals are done. one thing i’m sure of, though. i’m glad that armchair gms aren’t in charge of team. just my opinion, hopefully it makes it past the censor.


  54. The general points as to why the Lakers will fail this year without a major upgrade are that the other teams are getting better.

    The problem is that…
    1) The new CBA makes this more difficult for those GMs who haven’t already proved they are very good.
    2) A couple of teams we thought were going to be good will fall off this year – happens each year.
    3) A team or two we didn’t expect will do well, but will not have the playoff experience.

    I am not saying the Lakers should stand pat, however, the new CBA makes it harder to add good pieces to a good team already over the luxury tax level. That was one intent of this agreement.

    For us fans to act as if nothing has changed and that all the good teams are getting better is just foolishness.

    There are going to be some surprises this year and – IMO – the Lakers have as good a chance to surprise people as anybody else – in spite of fan negativity.


  55. “just a bit of luck in the playoffs last year and the Lakers might have won the finals”

    i think the luck you are talking about, was used in the first round against the hornets 🙂


  56. @55

    I would think most GMs and players would agree that Miami will most likely be a better team in their second year of playing together. The Thunder have steadily improved every year since Westbrook and Durant were drafted, and it seems more than likely that this trend will continue. The addition of Rudy Gay will only help Memphis’ chances. Chicago has nowhere to go but up with their young superstar in the making, along with Thibideau’s coaching.

    These teams are all trending upwards. Even if the new CBA handcuffs these teams from making moves, these teams should improve regardless. Sure, there will be some surprises, but it would be irresponsible of the Lakers front office to not expect improvement from these teams when assessing the Lakers chances at a title.


  57. It’s hard to write the Lakers off as favorites to win the West. There are 3 contenders: LA, Dallas, and OKC

    Dallas will not be as good next season. Chandler isn’t coming back, and nobody on that roster is getting any younger

    OKC is scary, but won’t improve until Westbrook and Durant coexist together, and that team does not have the ability on the defensive end that Dallas or LA has.

    The Lakers couldn’t have played any worse down the stretch last year. We still have the best frontcourt in the league. Kobe, Odom, and Pau will be the freshest they’ve been in a couple years. Bynum starts the season off healthy for once, and is coming off the most dominant defensive stretch of his career.


  58. also, I don’t want to downplay OKC. They are seriously good, I just think the Lakers should beat them in 7. But Dallas doesn’t scare me next season if the Lakers put last season behind them and get to work.


  59. I just wish there was a way to get a serviceable point guard. We don’t need a superstar there. What happened to that position in the NBA anyhow, where most point guards are either superstars or duds? There are few Tony Parkers and Chauncey Billups anymore.


  60. Pau, if my memory serves, was quite awesome last *season*, especially in the beginning. With a shortened season, I don’t see why we can’t expect such performances throughout the season.

    Other than that, there’s always this thing in basketball that defies ‘theory’ and ‘stats.’ It’s a game where anything can happen and when you have enough talent, it ends up being a matter of will more than the little advantages and disadvantages at each position.

    That’s especially true if you have players like Kobe and Pau who can’t be totally shut down. There’s no denying that we’re no longer favorites, but trust me nobody will be counting us out.


  61. Thanks Travis,
    Even the probable improvement of Miami could be derailed by an injury – i.e. Wade’s style of play certainly leaves him open to this possibility.

    I have followed the Lakers since the 1960’s and, since 1980, we have only had the period between Magic’s retirement and 1996 and 2005-2007 where the team wasn’t particularly competitive – and we only missed 2 playoffs during that time. This team has been consistently very good since the Buss’s have been in control. Usually we don’t see most trades coming and fans criticized both the drafting of Kobe and Bynum when they occurred.

    Sit on it people. I too think we could do with a bit of change, but I don’t want to see this club ‘torn apart’ to do something, nor am I particularly pessimistic that the front office won’t do anything – they will do what they can and, frankly, that is enough for me.


  62. Any chance we can invoke an amnesty clause on trolls?

    The roster of virtually every NBA team is up in the air; so much so that speculating about ANY roster moves is pretty much pointless. Too many variables to consider with the amnesty clauses, free agents, fleeing superstars, etc. Let’s at least wait until the season starts before we start armchair GMing. Everyone knows that we need better production from the 1 and more athleticism overall, so quit beating a dead horse.

    In the end, our team may not be perfect, but we are still a true contender. Very few teams can say that.


  63. 61) I don’t know, man. There are just so many really good, young PG’s in the league right now, people seem to think that you need one to win. I agree with you, though. Any PG who can hold his own defensively against guys like CP3 and Rose while being efficient with his opportunities on offense is all any team needs. Young Fish, 2008 Rondo, 2011 Barrea, 2006 J Will. Those guys all won titles, and weren’t all stars by any means.


  64. While a stupendous PG has been all the rage, how about examining the champions over the last 10 years. The best of the bunch is Tony Parker and, while he is not chopped liver, I would contend he is not a superstar.

    Also, the winners seem to have good defense at center. Hummmmmm…..perhaps it is competence at the PG and defensive strength at center that we should really be focusing on.

    This speaks to getting a backup center to give relief to both Bynum and Gasol as being more important than a PG upgrade.


  65. I mean….Raefer Alston once started in the NBA finals.


  66. Shortened season with less rest combined with a new system are the things that concern me more than personnel upgrades for this team. Upgrades at the obvious spots would lessen that concern but it to discount The Ls after the quantity of recent success over the last few seasons is hysterical. Good luck and skill have been with them mostly over the last five years.

    The 17 good game stretch was the fluke last season. Last season’s stinking playoff series were also exceptions. All seasons have some asterisk by them but this one will be in red ink.


  67. I had a little time to think about it (the Dallas 4 game sweep), and yeah, Pau was just awful. Also, was not two of the games close, really close to us winning them? I remember if Kobe had not lost the ball in like the last second of one of them, we would have won that game, and I think another one came down to a missed last second shot. So, the series should have been 2 – 2, at one point. Their shooting was out of this world in that series also, which was just bad luck on the Lakers part.
    Yes, Mitch had a big smile on his face today, hopefully that is a good sign.


  68. The Lakers have a wider performance range this year than they have in several years.

    Scenario 1:

    Bynum goes down again
    Odom shows up 15 pounds overweight and gets hurt
    Kobe’s knees and fingers curtail his effectiveness
    The cheap roster adds don’t help (see Blake, Ratliff last year)
    The team responds badly to Mike Brown and Brown feuds with Fisher and Kobe
    The new offense doesn’t take
    All the young legs in the West run the Lakers ragged
    35-31, lose in Rd 1

    Scenario 2:

    Bynum plays 55-60 games in the shortened schedule, and does better under Brown than he did under Jackson
    Gasol plays great, wanting to shut up his many critics
    Kobe’s commitment to craft and conditioning prevents major decline
    New O clicks; MWP and Blake play better out of Triangle
    Brown more willing to use young guys; depth is better
    Cheap roster add pays off, bolstering rotation
    Chandler leaves Dallas; OKC still 1-2 years away
    46-20, back in Finals

    Neither scenario would surprise me–nor would anything in between.


  69. if you are going to use “logic” like that, you can build an even stronger argument about orlando winning in 2009. they don’t hand out trophies for shoulda-woulda-coulda….

    also your argument would be a lot stronger if dallas hadn’t gone on to win against the heat. sweeping the lakers wasn’t a fluke.


  70. Nicely put, Robinred. I agree about the range – hoping for the second, but think the first is more realistic.


  71. I dare Igor to amnesty me, because its definitely my mantra that we are not getting better together. There is divide in the ranks and in the pillars… Kobe is getting older… Lamar is getting older… Pau is getting older… Peace is getting older… Fisher is flat out old.

    Only Bynum benefits from getting older – but I still question his maturity about getting wiser. He applies perfectly on the phrase “Growing Old is mandatory but Growing Up is optional.” Guess where Drew is on this.

    I don’t hate Drew. I recognize the fact that he is one of the dying breeds in the entire league – a TRUE CENTER – something the Lakers have had tremendous success in the past and present.

    But such is the case of our payroll, our team and our situation in general. The last thing we want to do is to be the new San Antoine… too good to lose, too old to win.


  72. Doesn`t a compressed schedule mean at least a 10 man rotation in some games and the need for depth. A roster of quality depth will be important for all teams when the 3 back to back begin. So look for the big move look term(Howard,Paul),but let`s make sure we have quality depth this year.