Wednesday Storylines

Dave Murphy —  January 18, 2012

Things seem a little quiet on the Western front. The Lakers actually have a second day off in a row. Lamar came to town the other day, still seeking answers. Trade rumors continue, although more tilted toward the Clippers/Howard variety. And then there’s Kobe, playing 38 minutes-per-game with a bad wrist and a platelet-enriched knee. This is Mike Brown’s first dance with the team. It’s tough to sit a star like Kobe Bryant, unparalleled with his desire to win, and with little depth behind him.

As related by Mark Medina at the L.A. Times Lakers blog, Mike Brown talked to Kobe about increasing minutes in the short run, in hopes of building a cushion in the west. (Question: you’ve got 10 teams within a 5-point spread – how do you propose building a cushion?)

With trade rumors continuing to float around lazily, Andy Kamenetzky at ESPN, looks at Bynum versus Howard, through the eyes of the LA. big man, “I don’t make any comparisons,” insisted Bynum, “…I always look up to him and want to be able to get the ball and do the things he does with it.”

Also by Andy, in the K-bros, Land O’Lakers blog, a look at the upcoming roadie which has the Lakers facing the Heat and the Magic on Thursday and Friday back-to-backs.

Speaking of trade rumors, Mike Miller at Yahoo Sports takes a swipe at the above-mentioned Clippers/Dwight Howard variety.

Eric Pincus at Hoopsworld, writes about second-round rookie Darius Morris, getting his moment, far ahead of schedule.

Eric Freeman at Ball Don’t Lie, opines about Michael Jordan’s statement that Kobe Bryant’s the only player who merits comparison.

And last but certainly not least, Jan Hubbard at Sheridan Hoops doesn’t hedge any bets, laying out her view of Kobe’s place on the world stage of basketball – still number one.

***

That’s about all I’ve got folks. not a lot of breaking news. Thanks to Darius for catching the excellent Pincus article. The thread’s open and please, feel free to post links, start a topic or pick one from above.

- Dave Murphy

 

Dave Murphy

Posts

46 responses to Wednesday Storylines

  1. Dwight floats rumors like the way he treats his free throws. In the first place, can Clippers afford to offer Griffin, CP3, DeJordan for DH +Turk. I don’t think so. Secondly, who wants to work with Don Sterling on a long term basis? Clippers career is just a stepping stone towards another objective. Well, that has been the story of the franchise from: Bill Walton, Norm Nixon, Odom, Manning, Brand, Maggette, Davis and in two year’s time that will also happen to Paul, Butler and Billups. Thirdly, Sterling will never pay high premium players on long term basis, he’ll treat them like a real estate property as prized possessions tho’ he’d turn them around once opportunity arises to the highest bidder. He’s interested to promote his real estate condominiums than eying for NBA championship Perhaps, I would consider more Mavs and GS as another destination than the Clips.

  2. Somehow many believe that D-Ho does now want to be a Laker if Kobe is past his prime. Secondly, many believe that D-Ho does not want to follow Shaq the same path that Shaq took. Lastly, many believe that D-Ho would pick the Clippers over the Lakers.

    With Kobe D-Ho learns the work ethic to be a monster. Going forward the organization will build the team around D-Ho, as the team is transitioned over to him.

    What is wrong with following one of the great centers in history to the Lakers? Shaq was not the first and D-Ho will not be the last.

    In the annals of basketball history which team do you think he would rather be associated with for perpetuity: the Los Angeles Lakers or the Los Angeles Clippers.

    Good write-up on Darius Morris. I like his spunk he reminds me of another Los Angeles Laker that I did not believe was capable of being the Lakers starting pg: Derek Fisher. In fact, I grumbled incessantly when we traded Nick Van Exel and retained one Fish. He may never be an all-star (after all he was a 2nd round pick), however if he emulates Fisher’s career he will have a long career.

    Random thought: I wish the Lakers had San Antonio’s scouting staff, they always find gems. Sigh!

  3. Anybody else interested to see how Mike Brown has the team guard Lebron?

  4. I’ve always said we should make the trade for Dwight Howard because of Andrew’s injury history. But I’ve also said that Bynum when healthy might be a better Center than Howard largely due to Dwight’s 6-9 measurements. So I think it’s time to stop laughing when anaylysts like Chris Webber, Gregg Anthony, and now Shaq reveal they think Bynum is the best in the league. Regardless it will make Fridays matchup all the more fun.

  5. All coaches know best how to guard a player that once played for them. They know their weaknesses and their trigger points. It will be interesting if uses this information against LeBron. Conversely, LeBron knows how MB coaches and will likely have insight into the Lakers offense. Let’s face it, everyone has tendencies!

    This game has so many implications, it should be a tensely played game.

  6. I think the key to the game is pretty simple. Will Kobe’s shot be on or off? We all know he will be in gunning mode since he’s playing against Lebron and possibly wade. If his jumpers are falling then the lakers can set their (zone?) defense and frustrate the heat. If not, the heat will get out in transition and it won’t be pretty for Laker fans

  7. i think that the clippers would not hesitate to pair chris paul with howard, even if it meant trading away griffin. paul turns howard into a 30ppg scorer, i believe.

    if there’s any hesitation, it’d be on orlando’s part, because they don’t have a star pg to gift athletes like jordan and griffin with layups, dunks, and put-backs. there’s also the issue of whether griffin signs an extension.

  8. J.D. – absolutely interested in MB’s plan. I’m surprised it hasn’t come up more. I’m sure it’ll be talked about before the game. If not, we can start some twitter rumors about food poisoning or spy vs. spy.

    CHearn – much agree about San Antonio’s scouting. Legendary.

  9. Random thoughts for an off day…

    As presently constructed the Lakers are not favorites to win the Championship. While help is needed the front office is going to hold onto any significant trade assets until the DH situation is resolved.

    While DH’s health is certainly attractive – I’m not completely sold that the Lakers should make that deal. While I am certainly no expert I have become increasingly impressed with Bynum’s game. Keep in mind that Bynum is a true 7 footer while DH is really a PF sized center.

    The Lakers really need upgrades at the SF and PG positions. I think we should thank Mitch as it looks like Morris could be our PG solution. With Blake out for the next 3 weeks Morris will have the opportunity to gain valuable experience before the playoffs.

    An athletic SF that can hit the three may be the cure we are looking for. We need to relieve the scoring load on Kobe and open up the post for Bynum/Pau. Our current SF’s leave much to be desired: MWP is done and Kapono/Walton are really slow. Ebanks is too tentative on offense and may be better off as a Michael Cooper type defensive stopper.

    A couple of SFs have caught my eye and may be a good fit for us: Michael Beasley and Donte Green. Either of them could be available for pieces or with the trade exemption we have on the books. Certainly there are other SFs we could target but I was thinking of players that were cheap and could impact immediately.

    Beasely has worn out his welcome in Minnesota. While he is a headcase – his value is low and the Wolves may look at moving him as addition by subtraction. He is also a 3 year starter and a proven 20 point scorer. Green is a young player who is starting to get significant playing time in Sacramento. While he has been un-productive I believe that it due more to the environment and the problems that surround the Kings than his talent level.

    If a trade for a SF could be done sooner than later the Lakers would have time to determine if moving Bynum or Pau is really necessary as we near the trading deadline.

    Feedback?

  10. Edwin,
    “Dwight floats rumors like the way he treats his free throws”

    You mean throwing them against the wall to see if any stick?

  11. Edwin & ex – as I’m reading the above, the Spurs/Magic game is on… and Dwight’s at the line, throwing up bricks. Perfect timing.

  12. In all these wild trade tumors, there’s one thing that befuddles me: why wouldn’t you trade Blake Griffin for Dwight Howard sraight up?

    Let’s ignore salary cap restrictions. Let’s also ignore the cultural impact Griffin has made, fan favorite, exciting, blah blah…

    From a basketball perspective, why don’t you make that trade? I’ve asked many of my diehard NBA friends this, and none of them would give up Griffin for Howard. But when I really ask them why, they mumble something about him being younger. Kurt over on PBT thinks the idea is ridiculous too.

    So what am I missing here? Griffin is an outstanding athlete and raw … but will he ever reach the defensive impact Dwight Howard has proven to have over many years? Isn’t Griffin’s peak offensively similar to that of Amare’s? If you put aside the hype, Griffin has similar tools to Amare. He just attacks far less and has an awful midrange game (right now).

    I just don’t see Griffin being close to Howard, and I don’t see him ever being better overall than Howard. And I’ve been utterly confused by smart basketball minds acting like it’s obvious that you never make that trade.

  13. Wow, Wizards just beat the Thunder… I must remember that it’s not only the Lakers that lose those kinds of games…

    Can’t wait for tom’w!

  14. Snoopy –
    It’s cuz Dwight is a known quantity. He’s awesome. He’s led a team to the NBA finals. He’s a great great defender. He’s become a pretty solid offensive force. And he can’t shot free throws. There’s no spark around the guy because he’s been good enough long enough that people are bored of him (think Tim Duncan syndrome 2002-2007).

    Blake’s got “potential.” Nothing is more valuable to a franchise – even wins – than having a guy on the up and up to superstardom. If he gets there, the relationships are a deeper between him and the fans, and the respect is greater.

    This is why Kobe is so respected in LA – he was bred and raised a Laker. Sure, we’d have loved him if we traded for him – but it would’ve been Shaq love – not nearly the same level of love that he receives.

  15. PAL: You wanted feedback and I like that : ) So here it is. Totally agree with ur first few sentences. Then we diverge. U see – I am “sold”. The league is built on SuperStars. Look at the history and trust me, 90% of the titles go to superstars. Magic, MJ, Kobe – that is alot of rings. If you want to try to pull a 2004 Pistons route to a title than fine -but the odds are against u. We are the Lakers and we need stars. Kobe deserves a 2nd and that is DH. Someone needs to inherit the Laker throne post Kobe + that is DH. AB is good but he is unable to pull the sword from the rock. There4 – Mitch – please make the move. To all fellow B&Gers – I know I am annoying – but give me credit for consistency : )

  16. Howard will never go to Clippers. This was a in your face dare to Lakers. It’s going to be Lakers or Dallas in a multi-team trade.

    Blake will be and is a far better offensive player. Not even close.

    As for Lakers, find a way to dump Metta and please find one point guard who can play defense and make a shot more then once every 15 games.

  17. Ken: Don’t count the Clippers out. They can create space. Also Dallas will not get him in a trade – they get him if he goes FA. As for Metta – he is a guaranteed post-season amnesty, but we need him this year (if in correct mindset) if we have any chance against the Heat.

  18. @#9 PAL

    I agree with you that Michael Beasley would be an excellent addition to the Lakers. He would be our scorer on the second unit and is versatile enough to play some small forward (even though he loses effectiveness at that position especially defensively). He can and does attack the basket, can actually shoot from the outside, and has the ability to take players off the dribble.

    With players like Kobe and McRoberts on the roster, he will no doubt be taught the importance of hustle, preparedness, and a winning attitude. The guy has the goods, he just hasn’t run into the right situation before. The problem is, who do we take back? They won’t just give him up for a trade exception.

    MWP and the trade exception for he and Anthony Randolph would be excellent. Anthony Randolph for the trade exception is another great idea. JR Smith and Beno Udrih or Goran Dragic would fill in the pieces perfectly by subtracting MWP, Murphy and Caracter and sending Gloc to the D-League.

  19. I hate that we missed the boat on Nate Robinson. The guy is starting to remind me of Earl Boykins. Just plug him in and he’ll give you 10 points, 5 assists and a steal.

  20. Sorry but why do we need a guy who shoots 7% three’s and who’s foot speed and defense is gone way down hill and get few rebounds?

    Would rather see Ebanks even Luke.

    Perhaps if he spent less time out at night after games he would only be poor instead of embarrassing.

  21. Ken is right guys. I’ve been a huge Artest supporter. And I was right to be one. He was an elite defensive player for the last two seasons as a Laker. I’m the defense commenter on this site. That is my Philosophy. Artest was a superstar on that side of the ball. This long offseason sped up the aging process for a few players (Artest, Odom, Peirce). He is done. You can’t get out of shape at his age and become a good player again. It doesn’t happen. He is as far gone as Derek Fisher. But of course at least Artest was a good player to begin with. It’s over for him. But he isn’t a bad back up SF. He can do that. He might not be able to do that well… But that isn’t hurting this club. That’s not preventing a championship.

  22. Ken (20), Every Laker player on the roster was thoughtfully chosen, including MWP. He signed with the Lakers for less money than he could have gotten elsewhere. He already has made the 3 point shot that won us an NBA championship.

    MWP is not the only player with 3 pt. shot woes in this early season. Jason Kidd, for example, one of the all time leaders in three point baskets, can’t hit the broad side of a barn right now.

    Ron continues to work on defense and adapt to a new role in a new system. He’s clearly trying to get back to his accustomed level of performance.

    All I am saying, is give Peace a chance. LOL.

  23. We will give Peace a chance for the rest of this year. Then it will be Peace Out. In the meantime we are hoping Mitch will find the missing Piece.

  24. What’s the benefit in cutting MWP? If you’re simply looking to create a spot, cut Caracter. I agree w/drrayeye – Ron fills a function. And to be honest, when he’s not filling his function, Brown doesn’t have a problem sitting him.

  25. OK. I’ve got one for you super analysts out there. What if players salaries’ were prorated during the season. A player who makes $10 million is worth $7.5 million after one quarter of the season was completed. Say the Lakers could sign Ray Allen using LO’s TPE (which remains a constant number). Would you do it? He is everything we need for the second unit. Can create his own shot, drives well, and plays adequate defense. He is 36, but he keeps in excellent shape and does not appear to be losing anything. He is currently having a career year. Can you imagine Kobe, Pau, Bynum, and Jesus on the floor at the same time!?! Who would you guard?

    The problem is that you give Boston the TPE which opens up more space for them to make a run at getting both Dwight Howard and Deron Williams next year. Rondo could be traded for a Power Foward which means Boston could potentially have D-Will, D12, Paula, and K-Love!!! Ouch!!! Would you still do it?

  26. As far as next year goes, MYP has a player option, and his salary goes up to around 7.3… and if he exercises he’s locked for an additional year. He signed a 5 year deal in ’09. It won’t be an easy contract to move, IMO.

  27. That’s too much for my dome piece.

  28. Snoopy – great point, I’ve been thinking the exact same thing.

  29. Looking at where we stand now I remain cautiously optimistic. We are playing elite defense, have a proven big three, Matt Barnes is providing what we need at SF and we have respectable bench players despite an overall lack of bench production. If we keep a playoff run in mind, then we’re talking about an eight man rotation of which we have at least six – not four – players demonstrating that level of play right now (Kobe, Barnes, Gasol, Bynum, Blake and McRoberts) and enough time for a seventh to step up (I would argue that come playoffs Fisher is definitely an asset and contributor which would put us at seven). So, the question then becomes can one of the other guys step up and/or can we improve at the trade deadline? I find it entirely possible that MWP gets his defense back to where it’s been, Kapono gets his shot to fall consistently, we get another guard at the deadline to add an offensive punch off the bench or a combination of these come to pass by the playoffs to get us to where we want to be. Still, what I’m actually most interested in right now isn’t our bench questions but how our twin towers system progresses over the next few weeks because I think that’ll really determine how the offense is going to function (the lack of practice time probably really hurts here).

    Robert – Regarding a Bynum for Howard trade, I’m also a bit conflicted. I feel Andrew’s game is more refined and predicated on length while Dwight’s is more about athleticism. I’m really not sure which is stronger to be honest, though Dwight’s durability is certainly an advantage. I tend to agree with PAL that “you can’t teach size.” Either way, Friday’s matchup should be pretty fun to watch.

  30. A trade w/ Boston WILL NEVER HAPPEN. That as much I can be sure of.

  31. I was reading the thread prior to this and would love to raise several points:

    1. The reason the Lakers bench scoring is very bad is coz we have a very top-heavy starting unit. There is no progression in terms of talent, outside our big three the gap in talent and production is pretty big.

    2. The reason we are hard-pressed to cover #1 is because in terms of salary, we are the most top-heavy team in the league.

    Kobe is earning 25M, Pau 19M and Drew 15M. Thats a total of 59M aka the whole salary cap for 3 players. Thats ok coz we always knew that having 3 big time stars is a luxury more than a necessity. But when management starts becoming frugal in spending, thats when we’ll experience the big-time dropoff.

    Check out what follows:
    MWP – 6.8M
    Luke – 5.7M
    Blake – 4.0M
    Fish – 3.4M
    McBob – 3.0M
    Barnes – 1.9M
    Murph – 1.3M
    Kapono – 1.2M

    total of 27.3M divided by our next 8 guys.

    You can now make your case of Barnes producing more than his cost. McBob is a good contribution for 3M. Blake at 4M is at the point of what we would expect. Fish at 3.4M is the same.

    Kindly tell me which 2 do not belong?

  32. Continuation to the previous post:

    Its important to note the salary that Odom was supposedly making. Right next to that, the Vujacic salary that also became a TPE that had just expired last December 15th.

    Lamar Odom – 8.9M
    Sasha Vujacic – 5.4M

    I commend the Lakers for building a good pecking order in terms of production vs salary. But it also gives you an idea which 2 guys are next to get the boot, and I am not sure they will be surprised when they hear the news.

  33. IMO, trades, if they happen at all, will be much further downstream–and they might not be what we expect at all. Meanwhile, the Lakers are about to face the Heat for the first time.

    The Heat remain a strange team, with remarkable players at SG, SF, and PF, and fill-ins at PG and C. The Lakers overlap with the Heat at SG and PF only, leaving mismatches at the other three positions.

    Matt Barnes and MWP will try to challenge Labron defensively at SF, but it’s not clear who can challenge Drew at Center. If they bring out Curry, it could get very interesting.

    The key comparison may well be PG, and the new face that the Lakers will present will be Darius Morris. If Darius can challenge the speed of Chalmers and Cole, it could level the playing field. Derek could look very bad trying to handle the Heat all alone. If Darius is ineffective and victimized for turnovers, the Lakers enire defense could crumble.

    The Heat might be confused by McRoberts and/or Murphy turning up in Lakers uniforms after seeing them so often playing for Indiana–a striking contrast to the more laid back Lamar from LA they are used to. The Heat may experience more grit from LA then ever before.

  34. Excellent insight Warren, but never say never when it comes to the Lakers and Boston. Todd Daye, Travis Knight (actually left and came back), Rick Fox and Shaq where all players who played in BOTH locals. Travis was never the same after he left and Shaq wasn’t the same when they got him. Stranger things can happen!!!

  35. Busboys4me:

    I wouldn’t bet a single nickel on a trade where Bos helps LAL win banner #17. On a year when they both suck, a big maybe.

    Basing it off on your logic, the TPE would be reduced to 75% too.

    If you seek a deal where LA becomes instant title favorites though, the Milwaukee Bucks can help us big time, and it makes pretty sense for them to do as well. Interesting epiphany I have. PG and SF you say? Perfect.

  36. 25. Busboys4me. Why would Boston 1) want to help us, and 2) need a TPE when Allen’s contract is already expiring in the summer? There are probably a lot more offers out there that trump the TPE.

    The next two games will be an important test of our team. We’re on the road against two of the better teams, and Bynum and the Lakers will step into the Dwight Howard circus down in Orlando. Hopefully Bynum is being coached on media relations because it’s going to be coming hard!

  37. I agree DY. He (Drew) needs to be taught how to answer safely coz the Bynum-for-Dwight rumor-mongerers are gonna be feasting starting tonight.

  38. Warren, maybe the Lakers and Magic make a magical switch of big men after Friday’s game. Maybe due to penny pinching, wanted to save the cost of flying out these two players to their respective new teams! :-)

    I wonder what Bynum is thinking as we approach the Magic game.

  39. Busboys – I believe this was talked about before, but prorating salaries has no effect when you’re talking about trades (including for trade exceptions). If we want to get a player with our $8.9 TPE, it will have to be a player with an annual salary of 8.9 or less; you cannot equate a TPE with only a prorated portion of a contract.

  40. The bigger problem with the Lakers’ contracts is when they expire.

    Counting player options:

    Bryant 2014
    Gasol 2014
    Blake 2014
    MWP 2014
    Walton 2013
    Fisher 2013

    The biggest single issue with the team’s attempts to get one more title in the Kobe era is that Blake, Walton, Fisher and MWP are all under contract NEXT year.

    Presumably, of course, when the deals were signed, Kupchak thought Shaw would be the coach and the team would be running the Triangle. Add that to The Veto and some extenuating circumstances–the need to replace Ariza, Fisher’s status in LA and relationship with Kobe–not all of this is on the FO. But some of it is. Long contracts to older role players almost never work out.

  41. I dont think Bynum needs to be held back from any question regarding his future in LA. In the past Bynum has not hesitated answering inquiries candidly, whether it has been about the team or his status on the Lakers. I like Bynum for that simple fact, he’s not afraid to say whats on his mind, like it or not. He cant control what people are going to say because there is no right or wrong answer for questions he will be asked.

    I believe Bynum wants to stay in LA and be the next, you cant say he hasnt put in the work in the past. The recipe for success is there, it just needs a little seasoning. Dwight hasnt had to deal with a lead dog like Mr. Bean in Orl., Drew has and come a long way from Kobe roasting him on camera. How do you know Dwight doesnt struggle to find his game because he will always be #2 until #24 retires. Everything that glitters isnt gold, inturn everything that stinks isnt dog pooh.

  42. Warren, robinred:
    Thanks for raising the cost-efficiency issue. Odom’s trade is a great example. He was very effective in the Triangle, but would have much been much less so in playing for Brown. He would have cost the team almost $18 m, including the luxury tax.

    Despite what some think, “dumping salary” is extremely important for the long-term success of any team. The tricky part is figuring out how to dump it smartly. Was trading Pau Gasol for Kwame Brown, Crittenton, McKie, Marc Gasol and the 2008 and 2010 draft picks a smart move for Memphis? I think so – especially since Marc now anchors the team’s front line.

    Interestingly, Danny Ainge said that the Celtics should have traded Bird, McHale, and Parish at the end of their careers when they had the chance! He argues that the team would not have gone into such a deep rut in the 90s had they done so.

    http://espn.go.com/boston/nba/story/_/id/7478868/report-danny-ainge-willing-break-boston-celtics-big-three

  43. He was very effective in the Triangle, but would have much been much less so in playing for Brown.

    _____

    People have said this a lot, and it may be true. But no one actually knows, and I don’t think the system is why Odom was traded anyway (we still, actually really don’t know the FO’s primary motivation is making the deal). As far as “dumping salary smartly” that doesn’t really apply to guys like Blake, Walton, Fisher and MWP. They are simply players that have zero or negative trade value and take up $20M on the payroll. Whether moving Odom was smart will depend on:

    1. Whether the TPE is used to improve the team. The one they got for Vujacic was not.
    2. Whether Dallas’ ability to clear cap space, further enhanced by the Odom deal, leads to their being able to actually get Dwight Howard and Deron Williams in FA this summer.

  44. Robinred @40 – The savvy of the Lakers FO is on full display this season.

    “Why?” you might ask.

    Well, they have players on the roster (MWP, Walton, and Fisher) who are showing their versatility.

    They suck equally efffectively in the Triangle and in the new offense installed by MB.

  45. @ R

    Heh.

    To be clear, I am not at all in the “Mitch is a moron camp.” The Lakers have banners 15 and 16 up because they got the big things right:

    1. Picked Kobe over Shaq (many people second-guessed it at the time).
    2. Have had one lottery pick in the last 15 years, a low one at that, 10th, and nailed it, getting Bynum.
    3. Pounced and got Pau when he was on the market.

    But Mitch and the org have a pattern of overcommitting on contracts, particularly to role players (they are also overcommitted to Pau and Kobe, but that is a different kind of problem) and it is hurting the team very badly right now.