Wednesday Storylines

Dave Murphy —  January 4, 2012

How many times have we seen this scenario play out?  The storyline, right up until last night’s tip-off, was Kobe – his shooting woes up in Denver and his defiance in the wake of the loss. Kobe shot early and often last night against the Rockets, and was clearly dialed in. His marksmanship was infectious – the team scored at will. Once again, the debate over an aging superstar takes a temporay back seat.

Dexter Fishmore at Silver Screen and Roll, examines the balanced force of a resurgent Kobe Bryant, a dominant Andrew Bynun, and a quietly effective Pau Gasol.

Brian Kamenetzky at the Land O’ Lakers, also looks at the ‘Big Three Topics’ (with video) – Kobe, Andrew, and the improving point guard production.

Dave McMenamin from ESPN, writes about the evolving relationship between Coach Mike Brown and his mercurial superstar.

Mark Medina of the L.A. Times Lakers Now blog, looks at Kobe’s shot selection and how it plays into the continually adjusting debate.

Kevin Ding at the OC Register, charts Andrew Bynum’s impressive play and ambition. through the appreciative POV of teammates Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.

Lest we forget, there was another team playing last night, the Houston Rockets. Undermanned in the front court, the team still gave a strong effort. Jacob Mustafa from the excellent Rockets blog Red94, writes compellingly, about long term growth and short term frustration.

***

When Kobe’s sitting down in a one-on-one interview, he can be honest and articulate about the aging of an athlete’s game and the need for adjustments. Confronted by the media blitz after a game or a practice however, the Mamba tends to get defensive and flip. The resulting soundbites feed conveniently into a framework of ego and denial.

There’s nothing like a win to chase the clouds of controversy away. The Lakers head back into action tomorrow (Portland). The hero debate won’t disappear for long of course, Kobe’s twilight years promise to be fierce, uncompromising, and very well documented.

– Dave Murphy

Dave Murphy

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38 responses to Wednesday Storylines

  1. After 37-8-6 last night it should be clear to all that we are all still in a Laker kingdom, over which KOBE RULES.

    Bynum: If he keeps this up, I may just back off my DH demand (not yet though).

  2. thisisweaksauce January 4, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Slowly, but surely, the offense is improving. There are times where the Lakers still look lost on O. Defense, as great as it has been, is still improving as well. I have a really good feeling about this team. I love the journey.

  3. Polar Bear Squares January 4, 2012 at 10:11 am

    Thanks for the links but Dexter Fishmore is a chump and a wannabe bully. SSR has some good writers but a site dedicated to Laker fans should be more inclusive and they go out of their way to make sure it isn’t.

    Forum Blue and Gold is much better.

  4. thisisweaksauce January 4, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Polar Bear (#3),

    What has Dex done to make you claim that? Not challenging your statement per se, I’m just wondering.

  5. Is there any chance that the Magic can’t get anything better than Pau Gasol this season? I mean who can offer good young pieces on Dwight’s wish list? And who can offer someone as good as Pau Gasol? Maybe I’m just dreaming of a Bynum/Howard front court but Orlando doesmt appear to have many good options unless Dwight adds other teams to his “wish list.”

  6. Aaron: you ask a good question, and that would be waaaaay too good to be true. A few issues: A) Stern would step in b4 allowing that – under the new Lakers can’t dominate rule B) Magic would spite us and let him go free agent b4 they did that – why I am not sure C) They would completely change their minds and take young players over the vets they say they want.

    Perhaps someone can explain why they “might” take the Cleveland route and let him go free agent – even though that sounds silly.

  7. >Perhaps someone can explain..

    salary dump. :grin:

  8. Marreese Speights traded to Grizzlies for chump change (2 2nd rounders to 76ers, Xavier Henry to NOH).

    http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2012/01/04/sixers-trade-speights-to-grizzlies/

    We’ve now seen a bunch of trades to dump prospects (Dallas dumped Fernandez + Brewer for low picks). Wouldn’t of minded Fernandez on LA, or even Speights if the price was 2 2nd round picks.

  9. #3. We link to SSR a lot as they provide quality content. We don’t always agree with everyone’s takes, but we try to link to stuff worth reading and articles that offer a variety of opinions.

    In the end, I think if you have beef with Dexter or anyone else at SSR, you should take it up with them, on their boards, or via email. They’re pretty easy to get in touch with as I believe their contact info is listed on their writer profiles. We try to be friendly with all sites here. As I said, it’s one thing to disagree, it’s another to disparage.

  10. In a recent radio interview following the Paul debacle, Colin Cowherd asked Stern directly if he would also block a Howard deal. You can read Stern’s response below.

    The possibility exists he could be lying, but he is on record saying he would not interfere with such a deal.

    CC: But, but as Phil Jackson predicted, it was a messy situation. Ideally, you don’t want to own a team. Assuming a Dwight Howard trade meets all salary cap parameters, how possible is it that you would step in on a Dwight Howard trade?

    DS: You’re not listening to me. We don’t own Orlando. That was the problem with the media coverage. I was not acting in my role as commissioner to approve or disapprove every trade. I was acting on behalf of New Orleans and the people who are day-to-day in New Orleans know that the league office signs off on all trades and we received the parameters of that trade on Thursday afternoon at 5:30.

    I know it because I had just finished a board meeting and was heading down to the media and we said, “No, we’re not ready to make that trade.” Not to approve it. We weren’t ready to make it. I want you to focus on it, Colin, because the example you just used, of course there’s no conflict. I wouldn’t step in and deal with a Dwight Howard trade between two teams. I didn’t have to step in here. In New Orleans the normal process is for the league office to approve it and when it was presented for approval the league office said, “No.”

    http://tinyurl.com/7zjj6lu

  11. #3.

    Polar Bear Squares… in what respect was SSR non-inclusive?

  12. SSR has a very different style than FBG, and I enjoy both sites.

    As far as Howard…it could still go any number of ways. Orlando may well keep him for the year, if they can add a perimeter player.

  13. Stern won’t interfere with another Lakers deal–the Paul thing was the proverbial perfect storm.

  14. Aaron @ 5 and Robert @ 6 – be careful what you wish for.

    Not sure a Bynum/Howard front court would be all that.

    Methinks they would get in each other’s way out there.

  15. Perhaps someone can explain why they “might” take the Cleveland route and let him go free agent – even though that sounds silly
    _____

    They might be able to add a perimeter player (Nash, for example) and I suspect that they don’t see themselves as being as far out of contention as others do.

    As to D12’s wish list:

    LAL:

    I would imagine that there is a lot of local pressure on them not to trade Howard here unless they get Gasol AND Bynum, which Buss has said he won’t do. Even if Bynum keeps playing like this and stays on the floor, Howard for Bynum + ? would be a tough sell in MouseTown.

    NJ/Brooklyn:

    Lopez is hurt, they have roster issues, and Orlando’s owner, DeVos, has supposedly said that he does not to do a tear-down. ORL has many vets under contract.

    DAL:

    This won’t happen until FA, if it does, and Cuban would need to shed more salary.

    Howard has said he does not want to go to Chicago, and there are issues, both for Howard and Orlando, with all the wish list teams.

  16. 14)
    I’ll take the best two big men in the world and worry about floor spacing later. The 6-10 Howard would be the perfect PF with the jump shot he discovered last year. Andrew has also shown he can shoot an 18 footer. Worse comes to worst and they just pass it back and forth to each other in the paint. And in the fake world where they can’t score points the Lakers would win every game 85 to 23.

  17. I can’t fathom Orlando letting Howard walk for nothing in return. I think robinred did a good job breaking down the options. But the best Dallas could do this year is offer a bunch of junk veteran contracts (Kidd, Marion, Carter, Haywood). Again, that trumps Bynum?

    I also don’t buy ORL fans dictating to the franchise about not trading for the best asset which happens to be a Laker. If Bynum is the “worst” case scenario, then Orlando is in a good position, especially because Bynum’s contract has a team option as well. However, the major concern is whether Bynum can stay healthy to the trade deadline, and continue putting up numbers like he is right now. It’s like someone agreeing to sell a used car, and you’re on a long drive to drop of the car to the potential buyer. Do not damage the car!!!

  18. Bynum and Howard would be a terrible fit.

  19. And I should let everyone know the Magic would probably rather lose Howard for nothing than take on a over 30 Gasol and the 60 million dollars still left on his contract.

  20. I think Howard would be a great back-up for Bynum. :-)

  21. robinred: I understand if Orlando wants to keep DH and add pieces. What i do not get is that the decision needs to be made (by them and DH) b4 the trade deadline. Waiting and hoping is just silly.

    R: not only would DH and Drew get in each others way, they would get in everyone elses too. Our D and RB would be incredible. This is a pipedream however.

    My pessimistic side says that someone is going to steal Howard as a FA, or for less than what we can give (probably even less than a Pau-centric package).

  22. Echoing those saying Bynum/Howard wouldn’t fit anyway. While “you can’t have too much All-Star height,” you also don’t want your starting 5 to consist of 5 low-post centers. (Anyway, we won’t end up with Bynum _and_ Howard anyway.)

  23. Still with the Howard talk? Hasn’t Bynum’s play — not just the past three games, but essentially since last February, shown that the Lakers already have a quality big man?

    Only logic to the continued trade dreams is the lingering fear about Bynum’s health.

    Not that this is worth comment since it’s a pipe dream anyway, but I too do not like the idea of a Bynum-Howard tandem; they’re too similar. Pair either one of them with Pau and you have a good frontcourt. But the two of them together? No way.

  24. Maybe David Stern can steer Dwight to the Hornets. Or the Clips. The commisioner’s pursuit of excellence knows no bounds.

  25. if howard tells nj he is no longer on their list, then deron williams could carmelo his way to orlando.

    does howard want to be traded to a lottery team? if not, then nj better begin to win.

  26. OK – I didn’t start the pipedream, but I certainly feuled it.

    Agreed – it isn’t happening: I believe Dave M is on the right track. Wait and see – this one is going to be a real head scratcher and someone (perhaps Cuban via FA) is going to get a steal.

    Bynum: Get me 23 and 12 until the trade deadline, w/o missing more than 2 games, and I will withdrawal my DH demand.

  27. Dave M.
    I loved your link to Jacob Mustafa’s blog…
    “The moment a lover’s quirks turn into his or her frustrating habits, the one when a once beloved job’s duties become its unending tedium, that first time the usual at your favorite restaurant just tastes too damn usual— unfortunately, that’s exactly where I find myself with these Houston Rockets.”

    This should be required reading for every Laker fan. While we may be justified in making criticism, we should stop all this nagging of our star player.

  28. 8)DY

    Agreed…it would have been nice to have received at least Fernandez for Odom.

    On Bynum/Howard: yes, it would be redundant. And please, no “Lob City 2.0″.

    At this point, assuming Bynum stays this consistent, it would make more sense to trade for an upgrade at point guard.

  29. Robert:
    True, Lakers are still a potent team, but King Kobe is in the twilight of his reign. It’s getting increasingly harder for him to take over games. His 37 points was not because he dominated the game. He simply took better shots. Bynum dominated the paint, sucked in the defense, and gave Kobe better opportunities.

    Also, at this point, I argue that trading Bynum for DH is NOT a smart move.

    When healthy, Bynum is arguably the top center. Offensively, both players are very similar. Howard’s career True Shooting % is 60.4%. Bynum’s is 60.3%. TS% measures how efficient a player is, taking into account both their FGA and FTA.

    Defensively, both players are similar as well. DH has a slightly better Total Rebound % vs. Bynum (20.9 vs. 16.8%), but their Block % are the same (4.5 vs. 4.8%).

    Bynum’s production was limited in the past for several reasons: first, he started playing just as Kobe was in his prime (remember how Kobe wanted to trade him?). Second, he was stuck behind Kobe, Pau, and Lamar in terms of offensive priority. Third, he played in the triangle offense, which exploits defensive gaps vs. Orlando’s inside/out offense. Last, he was injured (including some unlucky injuries).

    Based on this, I strongly believe that if Bynum stayed healthy, he would have produced very similar numbers as DH if he were in Orlando. The only “fair” trade would be DH for Bynum straight up. It does not make any basketball sense for the Lakers to give up extra young talent or picks, nor does it make financial sense to take one of Orlando’s bad contracts in return.

    Gasol for DH is terrible for basketball reasons. You forget that Gasol has great basketball IQ and is an excellent passer. This helps space the offense well and keeps defenses honest. Neither Bynum nor DH have reliable mid-range games. They would end up fighting for similar shots down low; this would reduce both of their effectiveness. This would also prevent other Lakers from driving into the paint since it would be clogged with defenders. The Lakers also lack enough outside shooting threats to keep defenses honest.

  30. @Craig W. and Dave M.,

    Or a more crude variant,

    “No matter how hot she is somebody somewhere is sick of her.”

  31. Craig W. & Chownoir –

    I read a lot of blogs but there’s so many that still escape me. I found Red94 through one of Darius’s earlier links and checked it out – I wanted to have an opposing view so to speak, for this post. What I found, was some seriously good writing. Jacob writes with the kind of voice that really appeals to me. I’m going to make contact and let him know, that he’s made some new fans.

  32. Robert,

    I doubt that anything will happen until the deadline, either. The problem there is that the Lakers may have keep the TPE bullet (basically their only one save for Pau and Bynum) in the holster seeing what happens with Howard, which will almost certainly preclude adding needed help in the backcourt.

    DY–

    I don’t think the Magic’s fans would ‘dictate’ what ORL does, but after the Shaq thing and given how people feel about the Lakers, I think they will consider it.

  33. Kobe is my all-time favorite player, but watching him now with his bad knees and wrist and fingers, is rather sad. Even though he was making around 50% of his hots yesterday, his movements were not “kobe like” and neither were his shooting mechanics, and there is no way he can sustain a good shooting percentage playing like this.
    What made Kobe the player he is, ie his competitiveness/ego, unwillingness to accept mediocrity from himself, is what is causing his gradual demise. Unlike most of us, he is not willing to see/accept that he is not the same player he was 3-4 years ago, due to injuries and aging as evident by his responses after the Nuggets game.
    Mark these words: Kobe will shoot a career-low percentage this year.

    How long can the fans support him taking so many shots shooting around 40%? How long will the coach and management stay silent and let Bynum and Gasol go underutilized offensively, when he continues to shoot poorly and the Lakers hang around a 0.500 record?
    It seems pretty clear that Kobe no longer believes that this team can win a championship, and therefore, his priority seems to be racking up as many points as he can to climb up as high as he can go on the scoring list while he has a “guarenteed and untradable” contract. It now seems that the reason he does not want to take any games off is that it would mean less eventual total points . Everyone is giving Kobe props for playing through injuries, but is it smart to play when he is actually hurting the team due to his injuries and selfish play?
    This looks like it is going to be an ugly season, the one that we have all dreaded would be eventually coming. It is the season where the Lakers will have to suffer through a transition into accepting that Kobe is no longer Kobe and tough decisions will have to be made after they get eliminated in the playoffs.
    The question is, if you can’t trade Kobe, do you cut your losses and use the amnesty on him after 2013, and rebuild around Bynum (or Howard if we get him).
    I know it seems unthinkable right now, but the way this is already a huge problem and how the media is covering it, I can’t see how “this Kobe” will last another 3 years, unless he starts to accept that he is better off feeding Bynum and Gasol, which seems very unlikely based on his responses couple of days ago.

  34. How on earth would you take Bynum over Howard. Bynum, at his best, is equal to Howard… at his best…. at his best.

    Bynum has a history of injuries. Dwight figures to be much more reliable.

  35. anti Dwyer Abbott January 5, 2012 at 3:38 am

    @34,

    very cunning prose to cover one’s ”Abbottness”.

  36. @36 – hahaha! Zing!

  37. @36,
    I am not sure what that means, as I don’t post here that often and read all the comments. Sounds like an inside joke between yourself and other posters. Would you care to clarify?