When Being Amongst The League Leaders Isn’t A Good Thing

Darius Soriano —  January 30, 2012

The Lakers are coming off a nice win over a young, hungry team. The game was hard fought as the Wolves made a furious comeback but the Lakers were able to hold on down the stretch and pull out the win. Considering the Lakers need every win they can get, in a conference where a couple of consecutive losses result in going from home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs to out of the second season entirely, I was happy with the result. Even it provided a few too many teaching moments.

The theme from last night was the Lakers’ big three having a big game, but for the second consecutive night another theme is a bit obscured: in getting the W, the Lakers’ trio of Kobe, Pau, and Bynum played 42, 42, and 36 minutes respectively. This allotment came on the heels of Kobe (42), Pau (39), and Bynum (36) playing heavy minutes just a night earlier. By any standard, this is too many minutes for Kobe and Pau, and even for Bynum it’s a stretch to put in that heavy a load on back to back nights.

And it’s not like Mike Brown doesn’t know it, either. Earlier this month, he spoke openly about the need to reduce Kobe’s minutes. From ESPN Los Angeles’ story on 1/18:

“I hope so,” said Brown on Tuesday at practice when asked about the possibility (of reducing Kobe’s minutes). “I was shooting for 35 minutes (against the Dallas Mavericks on Monday), but there are gonna be times, especially in games like that, that I think we’ll have a chance to win, where that 35 may go to 36, 37 and hopefully no more than that. I wanted to keep it at 35, but I didn’t do a good job with it. “But I do want to get it down, because he’s played a ton of minutes too early.”

After that story was published two weeks ago, the Lakers have played six games. Kobe’s minutes in those contests have been: 41, 44, 36, 39, 42, and 42. Funny, but those totals show movement in the opposite direction than I thought was wanted. It’s to the point that Kobe’s now 2nd in the league in minutes per game right behind Kevin Love and right ahead of Monta Ellis, Luol Deng, Marc Gasol, and LeBron James. As they say on Sesame Street, one of those things is not like the other with the 33 year old, forty thousand career minutes played player sticking out like a sore thumb.

This isn’t an issue that applies only to Kobe, though. Above I mentioned the top 6 players in minutes per game but the guy who’s sitting at 7th is none other than Pau Gasol. His last 6 games show a similar trend in minutes played: 37, 41, 36, 41, 39, and 42. Again, not the ideal trend for a guy who obviously wore down last season and has played a ton of basketball in the past 4 years. (Remember, even though the Lakers got an early vacation last season, Pau still wore his national colors in EuroBasket in leading Spain to a gold medal in that tourney. So even when he got extended rest, he still put in high level, on court work this summer.)

At some point, Mike Brown is going to have to figure out a way to reduce these players minutes. I know the Lakers are fighting for every win and the way the roster is constructed doesn’t provide easy answers in the form of capable alternatives. That said, what needs to be done, needs to be done.

Over at TrueHoop there’s a story about the Spurs falling to the Mavs last night in an overtime game in which neither Tony Parker nor Tim Duncan played in the last 20 minutes of the game. A key passage on Coach Popovich’s approach:

In a schedule-condensed season when fatigue built up over weeks is playing havoc with players all over the league (did you see how tired Blake Griffin got at the end of the Clippers’ win over the Nuggets?) Popovich didn’t play any starter more than 28 minutes. DeJuan Blair, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan … most of the Spurs’ regulars have long-term health concerns. This is one more night none of them got injured. It’s also a little like, say, being a diligent saver. Every time you put money in the bank, you seem like a bit of a spoilsport. People fixate on what you didn’t get to do with that money. But when that rainy day comes, and you’re sitting on all that cash, then you’re the most fun guy in town. The rainy day, for the Spurs, is the playoffs. 

The Lakers’ big guns are not a cell phone plan with with unlimited or roll-over minutes not used last year being applied to this one. Mike Brown needs to find a way to cut back. Because even if the Lakers get the playoff seed they seek, will it matter if they don’t have the legs to play those extra 20 games they’d need to in order to get where they actually want to go? This is the question Mike Brown needs to ask and answer for himself.

Darius Soriano

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91 responses to When Being Amongst The League Leaders Isn’t A Good Thing

  1. Darius,

    I agree on how Popovich rested his players. The Spurs is always known for popping during the playoffs. Like the lakers, they would always turn it on. Hopefully Mike Brown knows what he is doing. I have been watching laker games recently and i really can’t grasp on the playbook. Players have been creating unforced turnovers because of the unfamiliarity. Hopefully by the end of the season, they are all well rested and are familiar with the playbook.

    I have always been wondering whether you’ve found trends within the lakers’ offense. Do you see any plays that have been continuously being used? Is there really an improvement or are we seeing mike brown testing each player as to maximize their ability – rotating the starting position of SF.

  2. I completely agreed, but unfortunately Mike Brown simply does not have the juice to risk losses by resting his players. It kills me every time I watch Kobe and Pau and, notably, Bynum racking up big, big minutes, but Mike Brown doesn’t have the coaching resume and the RINGS to risk losses the way Pops can. Phil was the king of the long term loss, but he was Phil Freakin’ Jackson. Pops is Greg Freakin’ Popovich. Mike Brown is mike brown(?), really, THAT Mike Brown? Gasp, sigh. Talk about one of these things is not like the other!

    So, to that end, I think it is doubly imperative (can something be doubly imperative?) that he rests his guys in the “easy” wins and in lost cause losses. It’s bad enough that Kobe and Company are playing 40+ in big wins, but I get it. What I will never understand, though, is why he can’t rest them when the Lakers are up big with not much time left or, sadly much more likely this year, down big with not much time left. When it becomes a refrigerator game or when it becomes a lost cause loss, sit the big guns and save them for another day.

  3. KL mentions “popping during the playoffs” above: Since I have been overwhelmingly positive of late : ), I need to offset that and apply some reality to those of u who think we can turn it on in the playoffs. This “popping” seems to happen with certain teams, but in reality it almost never does. During the past 20 years, the ultimate NBA champion had the best overall record in the entire NBA, 8 times; they were at least tied for the 2nd best record 6 times, and 3rd or 4th best record 4 times. All of these are the whole NBA – not just the conference !! Twice in the past 20 years has someone outside the top 4 overall, won the title. The 04 Pistons were 6th overall (2nd in the conference). The 95 Rockets are really the only exception. They had the 10th best record overall, So, if you think the Lakers can coast to a 6th seed and have any chance at the NBA title, you are hoping for a 1 in 20 shot at best. The lesson here: Root for more wins. We need them !!!!! : )

  4. Maybe its time to bring in Arenas to spell some of those back court minutes…

  5. Regading Buzz Lightyear’s post from the previous thread. He is advocating that the Laker’s ‘blow it up’ in an effort to rebuild. Previously, I had also written essentially the same argument. Although, in my scenario I kept AB.
    __

    What if the Lakers were to blow up the team – could they rebuild sooner than later?

    What if the FO wanted both DH and DWill? How would they do it absent trading for them (and we all agree that the Lakers don’t have enough desirable assets to do so)?

    Here’s a plausible plan:
    • Trade Gasol for expiring contracts
    • Amnesty Kobe this off season

    According to my math the savings would allow the Lakers to create enough cap space to sign both DH and DWill to free agent contracts. The other part of this ‘proposal’ is that it allows Jim Buss to keep his favorite player, AB as well.

    There is some pain involved as trading Pau for nothing would likely result in the Lakers being terrible this year – the lottery would certainly be guaranteed. Then on the heels of this the Lakers would have to have the nerve to allow Kobe to walk and be prepared for the firestorm that would result.

    The flip side of that is the Lakers would have a new, young and hungry core: AB, DH, DWill and a lottery pick.

    I know its crazy but the above wouyld be a very nice team indeed. And the amazing thing about it is that the makeover would be quick – it would be be completed by this Summer.

  6. With all due respect,don’t get so obsessed with minutes.Kobe can play around 38 if he feels OK.MJ was playing nearly 40 mins at age 40.

  7. I have observed that the Lakers first unit are just OK and competitive at the start of any game, it is when the 2nd unit comes in that we get burned or lose our edge. I think Kapono/Murphy/MacRoberts/Ebanks/Morris/Barnes or Metta/G-lock are the players that need to rise and be counted. By any means, most of them have some forte’ that need to harness yet not given a chance to show it. Like for example Barnes is good in open court but his 3pt. is a suspect. Kapono, Blake and Murphy are known to be gunners but they rarely get some touches or missed their presence when they’re wide open. Sometimes, I see hurried shots at the end of expiring seconds, therefore it contradicts their mojo-forte’ as specialists, can’t rely on them to be creative when under pressure. You have to give them some room to operate like a set up shot play exclusively designed for them, a screen and pop where they practice before the game 50 x. Secondly, I also noticed when they are with the starters, they hardly touch the ball; and when they’re with rookies and fellow 2nd unit they tanked in defense. There is no happy medium of their presence, therefore we are getting the bad side of kapono/Murphy et al. I hope the coaching staff should redirect the attention to the importance of the 2nd unit in order for the starters get a rest. I know it’s a cliche’ to add that constant practice makes it perfect. When you apply in any field of endeavor, if you persevere in practicing and betting on the same goal over and over again, you will eventually achieve the desired results.

  8. I’m less concerned with Kobe’s minutes than with Pau and Bynum’s. Pau has shown that he gets worn down over the season and loses his ability to play at a high level, witness last season’s playoff fiasco. Bynum is an injury away from becoming Greg Oden and injuries are far more likely to happen as fatigue sets in. So I will respectfully disagree with both of you guys on that front.

  9. 10,

    Jesse, just want to insert my views in your debate. In the last 21 games, if Kobe and Pau did not play big minutes, do you think we can win 12 games? In the case of Bynum, he missed first 5 games which I think they missed his presence. We could have won the game against Bulls and the 2nd game Sacto if Bynum was in. Well, as you said he’s one injury away from becoming Oden, how can you really prevent injuries when he’s the Laker advantage (supposedly) in the post? He is being paid huge contract to take those risks and if you want to showcase him for possible trade, you really have to play him to his optimum.

  10. I think the minutes are a huge issue, and pointing to Kobe’s reduced minutes last year ignores the toll that the regular season had on Pau Gasol and the role that it had on his total playoff collapse.

    Several players, including our old friend Robert Horry, talk about how the condensed schedule in a 50 game season after the last strike took years off their careers. As presently constructed, the Lakers are totally reliant on Kobe, Pau, and Andrew in order to win. For the team to succeed (or “pop”) in the playoffs, the Lakers will need maximum effort from those three guys, and at their current pace (we’re not even a third of the way through the regular season) the chances for burnout is extremely high.

    Worse, for those of us somewhat resigned to the idea that this season will be a wasted year, with better things in store next year, the team’s top two scorers are unlikely to have a restful offseason with the Olympics looming.

    This is a difficult situation for Mike Brown. As the new guy in town, he doesn’t have the built up goodwill that Popovich does in San Antonio, nor does he have a bench that allows the Lakers to remain competitive while starters sit. So, right now, it looks like it is a choice between playing your stars heavy minutes and risking almost certain playoff fatigue, or resting your starters and losing many more games. I’d hate to see the team continue to lose, but if the result of trying to win now is to fatigue your starters and to ensure another post-season collapse, losing now might be preferable….

  11. 6,

    Mattal, if what you said would happen, the “occupy movement” will move to El Segundo or at the Staples. As you would probably read when they traded LO for a TPE, there were reverberations in every thread. What you guys are proposing of amnestying Kobe and trading Pau for nothings is a great uprising that pales the French Revolution.

    What if DH + DW reject the Laker offer as a respect to what happened to their peers? What if an amnestied Kobe joins the Clippers, well Lakers become a perennial loser without able replacement. Supposing all players in the leagues conspire against the Lakers being an unfair employer, what would you do as a GM or the franchise carefully built by Dr. Buss?

    Freeing the salary caps to get good players is one avenue to attract the stars but doing it in the right manner is also a “must” because all professionals want stability and longevity with the team that they will call it as a career.

  12. Mattal: Not exactly what I would like, but very well thought out. Problem is, that it assumes much: A) D12 and DW do not get traded elsewhere this year. B) We beat Cuban et al in the FA derby C) D12 and AB play well together – something I have been flamed for. Keith: U are correct about much above, however the key to “blowing it up” is deciding to do it, and then executing. This means you do not sign anyone but a youngster to a long term deal (the Lakers have not behaved this way for decades : ) With regard to Laker fans complaining no matter what, that is mostly true as well, but in my case, all Mitch has to do is put 24 + 12 together and I will not bad mouth him for the rest of the year – and my previous record is about 5 days : )

  13. The problem to me isn’t that Mike Brown doesn’t have the juice to rest Kobe (and Gasol), the problem is this team isn’t good enough to make the playoffs without them playing big minutes.

  14. Here is something to think about, the big three are playing heavy minutes and based on Conference standing we are currently tied No. 8 w/San Antonio. If the big three will rest, perhaps we land in 12th, that will be a long rest during the playoffs and see you during the lottery.

    What’s the solution? I will use the analogy in gardening, if you want to have vibrant plants and green grass, you have to do continuous pruning and cultivating the soil in order to maintain green. Likewise, with Lakers infuse some young legs and/or able veterans w/ good decision-making that will help the big 3. the source may come from within NBA FA’s or what’s available in other leagues.

  15. I have often expressed concern about minutes, but to be fair, it has not seemed to help/hurt the Spurs, or help/hurt the Lakers, as yet in post-season.

    Philosophically, I agree, but I think the evidence is at this point unclear.

    As to Howard: a media meme is that “Dwight doesn’t know what he wants”, which I think is false. I think he wants to play on a top-tier contender in a big market, preferably with Paul, or now, Williams. Buss tried to set that up here, and we know what happened. That is why Cuban and Dallas are now the frontrunners IMO and why nothing is happening: Deron Williams is on a lousy team.

    Some Chicago fans have expressed irritation and (like many Lakers fans) entitlement about the issue; I have heard several of them say “Chicago is obviously the best place” or words to that effect, for Howard.

    That may be, but when you move superstars and want to compete, I think it is a good idea to get them out of the conference if you can. The optics of Howard-to-the-Lakers are very bad for Orlando, but he would only be in their way, really, in the unlikely event of a Finals matchup. If, however, they put him in Chicago with Derrick Rose, that basically guarantees that Chicago will be one the of the 3 or 4 best teams in basketball for the next 5-6 years.

    When you are near the bottom, like Memphis was when they traded Pau here, it means nothing. There was no reason for Memphis to care about whether the Lakers or the Suns or the Spurs or the Mavs won the West. Orlando, OTOH, may consider it.

    Also, from Howard’s POV, coming to a Western team helps him, in that Chicago and Miami are no longer between him and the Finals. OKC still would be, of course, and they have D12-nemesis Kendrick Perkins.

  16. Archon @16 is right.

    To restate it – although this is obvious – MB doesn’t have the bench to play the big three fewer minutes.

    Brown can say all he wants about reducing starter minutes – it’s all lip service until and unless the bench can contribute more than relatively very little.

  17. Edwin:

    Historically the Lakers have always allowed their stars to leave on their own terms: (Baylor/West/Kareem/Magic/Worthy). I know Jerry Buss would allow Kobe to do the same. I am not so sure about Jim Buss.

    When the Lakers rebuilt in the past they did not have to deal with a CBA’s as restrictive as the one that will come into play in two years. Furthermore, the Clippers have a good team and if they play their cards right they, not the Lakers, could sway fan sentiment and entertainment dollars.

    I would love the Lakers to be able to rebuild by making moves within an ‘ethical’ framework. Someone earlier offered up a Pau for Cousins hypothetical. Heavens, if we are gifted young talent like that then there’s no need to push the red button. However, I do not see that happening. The Lakers are not dealing from a position of strength in terms of tradeable assets.

    Rebuilding the natural way is painful and lengthy. In two years both Kobe and Pau’s contracts will expire. When this happens the Lakers will glide from low playoff seeds and crash into the lottery. If the Lakers are lucky and make good decisions in the draft as well as attract some key FA’s they can shorten the rebuild. But in reality we are looking at a 4 -5 year timeframe before the Lakers would be a force again.

    There are risks with the ‘blow it up’ plan. You ask, What if Dwill and DH don’t want to come? My sense is that if the Lakers are on the short list for both of them now – if the path were clear for them why wouldn’t they follow through.

    Something else to keep in mind. Kobe is fanatically competitive. If the Lakers don’t improve quickly he can become extremely demanding – we all recall his trade demands a few years ago. He’s not above forcing management’s hands this time around (via a trade/amnesty/release).

    I do not envy the Laker FO as they have some huge decisions to make.

  18. there’s an awoj article linking the lakers to ramon sessions and the cavs. my interpretation is that cleveland is making sessions’ availability public, and they’re inviting other teams to make offers and/or facilitate a trade.

    that the lakers are involved isn’t very surprising, and their huge fanbase is sure to pump up woj’s pageviews.

    my hunch is the hornets are going to get involved, for better or for worse.

    here’s a real good example of how the lakers can use the odom TE: let’s say cleveland wants to trade for chris kaman, but their only asset is antawn jamison’s expiring contract. the salaries match, but there’s no incentive for the hornets to make that deal…unless the Lakers step in and agree to take on Trevor Ariza with their TE. And there’s no incentive for the Lakers to step in and absorb Ariza’s contract…unless the Cavs fork over Sessions.

  19. Post 16 hits the bullseye. This team is just not good enough to win games if Kobe, Pau and Drew don’t play close to 40 minutes a night. Sure Brown could start sitting guys and sarificing games like Pop. He will also have fans calling for his head by the end of next week. Big minutes for the Big Three is a necessity. Unfortunately, the Lakers don’t have many options.

  20. Honestly, this team’s goal is to try to be in the 4-7th seed. Just avoid playing OKC in the first round, and if necessary, try avoiding that bracket all together. It’s ludicrous for people to argue that Kobe/Pau should be sitting more. We’d be complaining about our first under .500 record in 5 years! That’s why we’re beginning to hear all these rumors about Sessions, Calderon, Arenas, etc., because we simply need more firepower off the bench. Like I stated before, the team is about -10 ppg from the bench (not a precise calculation by any means). The aformentioned players would go a long way to help meet that gap.

    I’m torn between our team’s need to grab a “superstar” to build in the future (D12, DWill) as opposed to getting good role players to bring back some depth to the team.

  21. The problem with continued practice is the question, “What is it that you are practicing?” If you repeat the same thing, while expecting different results, you are going to be sorely disappointed.

    Mike Brown is trying to get to know all his players strengths and weaknesses. So far we have seen very few strengths and many weaknesses – except for the big 3.

    I expect to see continued experimentation until we see changes, or the season ends. Already we apparently see a rookie starting to become the first player off the bench – now that is certainly not a Phil Jackson type of situation.

  22. We have 27 days until the ASG and 45 days until the TD. Those 18 days in between will determine the future of our franchise. If after 45 days, our roster is not significantly different, then this board will “fully” begin the argument over whether to “blow it up” or not. I for one would favor quick and complete scorched Earth. This will be very painful however, which is why I am hoping for a very different and positive outcome from the 18 days.

  23. Lol… sometimes the only thing I want to blow up about the Lakers are its fans attitudes.

  24. Start with your own “raymeister”

    Darius: Feel free to delete 26+27

  25. Honestly I cannot and will never take anyone seriously ever who brings up the argument “amnesty Kobe.”

    That’s like wanting to amnesty Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson, it doesn’t and should never happen for a billion reasons. How about you think before you speak with such ignorance.

  26. Should we really “blow it up” at this point? Rick Adelman was talking about how despite fans thinking this Laker team is no good, NBA teams still consider the Lakers a Top 4 team in the West.

    The Lakers have been bad so far this season, but like others have mentioned, it can be a different story in the playoffs. Last season the Spurs had a great regular season and they ended up being knocked off in the first round. And they have one of the best coaches in the league.

    Lets be easy on the players, and easy on the coach. Yeah, it’s ugly, I understand. But to call for re-build mode right now is too much don’t ya think.

  27. Reading the responses to this latest article, one thing is becoming very clear. Many of my fellow Laker fans are reaching full panic mode. I’ve been a Laker fan a long time, since ’65, when “Mr. Inside & Mr. Outside” (Baylor & West) were the big shoulders this franchise leaned on.

    Buss & Mitch know what time it is. They are in a tough spot, between a rock & a hard place. They have to figure out a way to compete with this years serious contenders, the Heat, Thunder, & Bulls & teams like the Clippers & Grizz who will be joining that elite group soon. While also competing with the Spurs, Celtics, & Mavs who find themselves in a similar situation as our Lakers. Trying to stay relevant with their aging stars & bloated contracts.

    Make no mistake about it. The Heat, Bulls, Thunder, are built to win now & each has at least a 3 year window. The Clips & Grizz are only a year away before they enter that group. The Lakers are 2-7 on the road, and personally I find it hard to believe they can get to .500 on the road this season.

    There is no magic pill for this season, the Lakers just need to play it out and go all out during the off season(5 months til July 1st) to get Dwight Howard & Deron Williams. I like Bynum, Gasol, & Kobe, but no one’s off limits to get this team back on the right track. And no need for all you Kobe worshipers to get worried, he’s not going anywhere, not with $55 million coming to him over his last two years, a no trade clause in his contract, and his Alpha dog mentality. As for Arenas, only at the minimum & for this season. That’s my opinion…and I’m sticking with it.

  28. I think it is clear that Laker management is not going to sit back and do nothing. The fact is that Kupchak DID try to blow up the team, by sending two of the most skilled big men in the league in a trade for the game’s best PG. Had that trade been allowed, the Lakers would have a significantly different, younger, and more athletic roster.

    That such an aggressive move was made (when none of us expected it, and few of us demanded it) clearly indicates that ownership is NOT ok with what happened last year, and is likely pursuing any number of deals to achieve the same result: youth and speed.

    I never thought I’d be quoting the likes of Donald Rumsfeld, but the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. I’m pretty sure that Mitch’s phone is getting a workout, and they don’t call it “behind the scenes” for nothing.

  29. Lakers8884: There is no bigger KB fan on here than me. So anything we can do to keep him, I am in favor of. However, KB will not sit still if we are not contenders. Hence why I want D12. Mattal brought up a valid point of view. We need to either contend now or re-build. We can’t do what the Celts did in the late 80’s.

  30. Regarding minutes, I think most of you missed my point. I agree, in games that we can win, we need to play our guys however many minutes necessary. I said as much in my original post. However, my issue with Brown’s minute distribution is in wins that are readily in hand and in losses that get out of hand. I’m not advocating risking losses by cutting back minutes. I’m saying that when a game is out of hand, like the loss in Miami, that’s when Brown has to sit the guys to get them rest. That game was over by midway through the third quarter.

  31. I always wanted to see Kobe’s game outside the triangle. Now we get to see his passing ability. crazy how Kobe can still do it all to this day.

    Is Kobe the Greatest Lakers Ever? It’s between Magic, Kareem, Kobe. Magic and Kareem had each other for those 5 rings. Magic is the best PG ever Kareem the best C. Kobe had Shaq for 3 but then had to go through a rebuilding process for the last 2. Most greats won with the same group of guys. Kobe led another team along with Pau to another back-to-back. I don’t think he gets enough credit for sticking it out and winning again.

  32. As several individuals have posted, we do not have the luxury of resting our BIG 3. Last I checked, we have one of, if not, the worst benches in the league. Right now, it’s looking as if a rookie is our best sub. So if we sit/rest Kobe, Pau & Drew, who do we replace them with? If we decide to do so (which I highly doubt), here’s what will occur:

    1. We’ll lose games at a staggering pace.
    2. Because of the losses, obviously, the ‘offs will not be an option.
    3. Coach Brown (and Management, since he’s their hire) will get ridiculed by Fans and the Media. More so than they already are.
    4. Losses amounting. Not making the ‘offs. Who, in there right mind, believes that Kobe will be going for this?
    5. The more we lose, the less Attractive we become to the D12’s & D-Will’s of the world. Bad enough that, even though we’re on their list of possible destinations, by all accounts, we’re NOT at the Top of their list.

    And keep in mind, Pop rested several of his Starters last season and what did it get them. A 1st round Exit after attaining the number 1 seed.

  33. BigCitySid: If we want D12 and/or DW we will need to trade for them by the TD. Or we could do something dramatic as Mattal is suggesting (I agree unlikely). We can’t get them in FA while keeping our Big 3. Those type of moves were possible in 1982, but not now : )

  34. We all owe Phil Jackson an apology.

    ___

    Disagree. There was too much on the line historically for Phil to pass up: 12th title, 4th 3peat, 6th ring for Kobe. The team just wasn’t good enough to get it done, but I think Phil was right to take the shot.

  35. 8884,

    YES!

  36. Can we please stop the whole rebuild discussion until the end of the season? Geez. We have been to the finals 3 of the last 4 years, won two championships and one crappy half season and some of you are ready to blow up the team or force Jim Buss to sell it. Ridiculous.

    I’m not saying everything is roses, but lets focus the discussion on *relevant* topics. For example, assuming Woj is truthful in saying the Lakers want Sessions for the trade exception, does that really make sense for basketball reasons and financially, given the long term goals of keeping Kobe happy, getting more rings and bringing in more talent for the long haul? Another relevant topic might be a discussion around the inconsistent mess that has become Andrew Bynum and how/why that is case. We can easily say that a guy that the second best center in the league must play better, but is the problem Drew himself or the way Brown uses him in the offense? Also, why does he have games where he is outrebounded by players almost a foot shorter and 100 lbs lighter than him? Is the problem a lack of basketball IQ (I vote for this), lack of hustle or another thing? C’mon people. Let’s go back to what made this site great: thinking before posting.

    Honestly, its getting so bad that I for one would welcome the blocking/deleting of any posts referencing ridiculous arguments like “blowing up the team”, “use the amnesty on Kobe” or “Jim Buss is the worst owner because….” Baseless, speculative posts like these are killing this forum.

  37. robinred: hold down the fort. I am banning myself for 24 hours until tomorrow’s game. All: Kobe needs 93 to move into 5th all time !!!!! Two jerseys should hang in the rafters (#8 + #24).

  38. 8884 –

    I’m sure that Kobe’s preference is to spend his entire career with the Lakers. However, that did not prevent him from trying to orchestrate a trade a few years back.

    I don’t bring up the amnesty card frivolously. With so little tradeable talent the Lakers are in a bind. Do you think that Kobe is willing to play out his contract on a team that will struggle to be an 5th through 8th seed?

    It is mind boggling that the new CBA has made the Lakers a victim of their own success. In what other sport is a player so necessary for winning a championship in essence become the impediment to winning one (by tying up so much cap space).

    Kobe is untradeable – his age and salary make him so. Pau is 31 and he’s about a year away from being overpriced for his production. AB will always be valued less because of his injury history.

    I honestly believe that Kobe and the Lakers will reach ‘some’ agreement. Maybe not via amnesty (and those who say he goes to the Clippers don’t realize that teams under the cap have right of first refusal for such players) but possibly through a buy out with restrictions on where he can sign.

    Is this scenario crazy, no. Is it likely? I say the odds are 50/50.

  39. Dwight Howard saga is starting to be a joke. He wasnts to play for this and that team. Then he wants to be traded next he doesn’t want to be traded. Dude can’t make up his mind. He just wants out of Orlando. He says he wants to win but why the Nets then. He just wants to be in front of a camera but that metropolitian media will eat him alive from the way he plays sometimes. I still don’t think a D-Will/D12 get you past miami or chicago. I’m confused

  40. Occasional reader and poster here.

    No matter what I read there’s always comments about how soft Pau is. I guess these peeps didn’t catch that 3 year run of Finals we had since acquiring him.

    Pau went up against and beat Dwight and KG in successive years and all anyone wants to talk about was his performance last year (and this year as well).

    Since coming to LA Pau has put on a lot of miles (including extended post-season runs and 2008 and 2010 international competitions). He may have slowed down a bit, he may be concerned about his future in the NBA (and where he might be playing next), he may feel he is under-utilized offensively, but give the guy some credit (and a break) before throwing him under the Buss – without him we wouldn’t have hung banners in 2009 and 2010.

    I am having a hard time stomaching this season as much as anyone else, but I was ready to write it off due to the strike and all that related BS.

    I hope that whoever is running the ship has the poker patience and will of Jerry Buss, stands pat until something comes up that is right.

    Whether it’s long term or short term, let’s make the best move possible.

    PS – anyone else see the rumor that Kupchak is preparing to step down?

  41. When is Caracter back?

  42. The pessimistic fans’ worries are not unwarranted. Our top 3 players are playing too many minutes, the bench is terrible, and we only have 1 guard in the back court consistently contributing. Still a couple of facts to consider:

    – Our squad has played the toughest schedule so far (in terms of opponents’ winning % – http://espn.go.com/nba/hollinger/powerrankings/_/sort/sos)

    – For those bemoaning our road woes – only 7 teams have a winning road record so far. Of those 7, only 2 are in the West. Most teams are struggling on the road, presumably due to fatigue and lack of practice.

    For all my wait-and-see optimism, I do think this team may need a shake-up in the form of a major trade (Pau or Drew). With a third of the season under the belt, the team doesn’t seem to be progressing in a positive direction. Things seem stale.

  43. http://basketball.realgm.com/wiretap/218668/Lakers_Talk_Trade_For_Ramon_Sessions

    Lakers reportedly inquiring about Sessions.

    Cheap, lowkey move.

  44. And for all intents and purposes, Warren Wee Lim, is retiring from FB&G.

    Thanks everyone for everything. Will be reading when I get a few.

  45. I discussed yesterday that the source of Laker problem is Mike Brown. While many here agreed, others pointed that the under-performance of the players were to blame and perhaps a result of not being used to the new system yet. I think that argument is flawed. The amount of time these players and coaches being together has already exceeded what would have been the regular preseason practices and exhibition games. But judging by their last night performance, everybody knows the Lakers are not a good team…not close.

    Back to the source of the problem, Mike Brown. Good coaches bring out the best in players, and often out-perform their expected potential. Let’s look at Chicago. They really only have one super talented player in Rose. But that team plays well together. While they clearly are not the best team in the league, they beat teams they are supposed to beat and occasionally beat teams that are considered superior.

    Let’s look at this Lakers team. We have three super talented players in Bynum, Gasol, and Kobe, plus other players who used to be good/great players. And yet they severely under-performing. They don’t win games they are supposed to win, i.e., beat weaker teams, even sometimes weaker teams without a few their key players. They are easily get blown away against good teams. Not competitive at all. The team is emotionally unstable. All these symptoms point to a chaotic environment within the team.

    This is not a good situation where other superstars would want to join in.

  46. how does ram sessions help? He can’t shoot the 3, and isn’t even getting *that* much playing time compared to previous seasons at Cleveland (back then he was backing mo williams, too).

  47. MannyP,
    A season is more than just that season itself, it is also the precursor to subsequent seasons. So it’s not unreasonable to discuss rebuilding options now, especially since you know that the front office is doing the same thing. If the right pieces are available now, they won’t hesitate to start mid-season, rather than lose an opportunity.

  48. Sessions is blocked behind Irving. He’s not great, but he is young and he can run P/R. He has had bad luck–was not suited for the Triangle, which Rambis tried to run in Minny. He is only 25. He would help the team.

  49. I’m pretty much with Robinred on this one. Sessions is a good young player, though he has holes in his game (most notably shooting). He’s also playing behind one of the best rookie PG’s the league has seen since Paul, putting up significant numbers in terms of his efficiency.

  50. A young PG like Sessions would be nice I guess, but his lack of shooting touch is something the Lakers already have in abundance!

    Andy @ 48 – The team weaknesses you mention in your 3rd paragraph are spot on. However, many/most/all of these same flaws were apparent last year, when the team had an arguably stronger roster. So why lay all these problems at the feet of Mike Brown?

  51. While there isn’t at present, any kind of solid depth behind Kobe, I’ve got to think that Mike Brown can come up with some way to shave a few minutes. Seriously, if the rest of the guys can’t manage to cobble together a workable NBA team for a two-minute stretch, then we might as well throw it in the towel right now. Because Kobe cannot carry the team all the way. Personally, I think they CAN do it. But Brown, for all his positive attributes, has fallen a little victim to the same problem Bryant’s teammates sometimes experience – standing around and watching him. He’s such a unique player, that he becomes a crutch. It takes a really strong coach to sit him. Brown has to learn how to be that guy.

  52. R @53 – I think Phil Jackson would admit that he didn’t actually do as good of a job coaching last year as he did the year before. It was his final year, there were some obvious lapses. However, the team still had the 2nd best record in the Western Conf. and won most of the games they were supposed to win. In fact, they were doing ok until the Dallas series when they complete collapsed.

    I think the most essential task of a head coach is to manage players, the Xs and Os are secondary. Assistant coaches can do most of that. Managing highly talented players with ultra-ego is very difficult. It is NOT something you can learn through “hard work”. Brown lacks the “it” factor of managing people.

  53. I think the Clipper have made more 3-pointers tonight then the Lakers have this season.

    Clip by 20 over OKC!

  54. Aloha Andy,

    I think Chicago is the wrong example to use in your argument against Mike Brown. Yes we each have one super star and yes Pau and Andrew are better then Boozer and Noah, but thats it. Beside Noah is a top 5 center and Boozer is still a decent PF. Then you have Deng at the 3. 15.9pp 7.5 boards and 2.6 assists, not bad. Add in Richard Hamilton and that is a quality starting 5 but thats only half the story.

    Their bench is soooooo much better. Asik at center would start for over half the teams in the league. He is always mentioned in trade rumors. As is Taj Gibson at PF who for my money is better then Boozer now. Then you have C.J Watson, a guy I wanted the Lakers to pursue when he left Golden State. He alone would make this team a serious contender. Did you notice that Chicago didn’t miss a beat when Rose went down. Watson was awesome. They won’t be able to hold on to him once his contract is up. Then add Ronnie Brewer, their version of Trevor Ariza and Korver a shooting specialist and they have the best bench in Basketball. It can be argued that all 5 of those guys are better then our best reserve, Metta anyone?

    So I really don’t thinks it’s fair to Mike Brown to say that he should be able to match Chicago with what we have. He has very few options at this point. Just my opinion.

  55. See ya Warren! I always enjoyed reading your posts.

  56. Rebuilding requires we have something to begin rebuilding with.

    What do we have other than Location? We once had a great player’s owner in Jerry Buss, but can’t say so with Jim.

    Players? Outside of Kobe, do you think there is one player on our roster that other superstars are dying to play with? Not really.

    And let’s not get into this amnestying Kobe thing. That’s something befitting of the Clippers, not the Lakers. If anything, we’ll probably sign him another extension after this one… at more than market value.

  57. Things are tough around here when we are linking Clippers’ highlights.

    That said, it was a PHENOMENAL dunk.

    Donald Sterling benefitting economically from The Veto irritates me rather sharply.

  58. While the premise of this article makes sense, not only (as robinred pointed out) did Pops’ strategy NOT prevent the Spurs from an embarrassing exit in the first round last year, but the TrueHoop quote cited Blake Griffin looking tired in the Nuggets game as a second example.

    Er…Blake certainly didn’t look tired tonight in a back-to-back. If he’s tired, I hate to see what his dunks look like when he’s rested.

    So the premise sounds logical, but the examples are ironically proving the opposite. That said, for an older-and-weary team like the Lakers, it probably holds true.

  59. Sorry… I’m gonna talk about the Clippers and not the dunk. They just beat Denver in Denver and the Thunder back to back. I’ve been watching the games and it’s not the Clippers. Chris Psul is still a good PG in the NBA but he isn’t CP3. He is fat and hasn’t been explosive in two year after having major knee problems and is only 26. Again still a good PG of course. They are winning because of Blake Griffen. He has turned from an athlete to a good one on one offensive player making his teammates better in the process. The Clippers are not a one man show… But it’s close.

  60. The Clippers are a serious contender.. Cp3 and Billups changed the make up of that team. Clips come at you in waves vets at the most important positions PG. They are the best team in the west right now.

    Back burnered by the dunks is KD had a great night. Dude has serious skills

  61. Nice to see some intelligent comments and posting on the state of the Lakers. I feel sad watching the team these days, because they have fallen so far, and so fast.

    These Lakers as presently constituted are not going to be anywhere near championship caliber. The team has too much dead wood on its roster. MWP/Ron is a shell of his former self. Luke Walton is wasting cap space and a roster spot. He should have been amnestied. The team’s point guard situation is a disaster.

    The supposed strength of the team, Bynum and Gasol, is a house of cards in my opinion. Bynum has never regained the athleticism he showed early in his career before his knee injuries. Pounding the ball inside to him is a double -edged sword….when he makes his shots, fine. But he still doesn’t have a sure fire post game and continues to display awkward attempts to score. His misses in the low post usually result in a fast break for the other team, which exposes his lack of foot speed. Simply put, Pau and Drew are big but slow. The Lakers miss Lamar Odom tremendously.

    (edited for trade speculation.)

  62. The best thing about that dunk? Perkins is now the new Mozgov.

    Unfortunately Clippers fans are blinded by the otherworldly athleticism. Griffin is Shawn Kemp Lite. He still doesn’t have a go to move, his jump shot is shaky, and he doesn’t know how to defend intelligently. Highlight dunks alone don’t win championships. So back to the real L.A. basketball team..

    Re: Sessions.

    Yes, he’s a very poor outside shooter, but he is very good at getting inside and distributing. Isn’t that what we’re looking for – a penetrating guard who can attract attention and dish the rock? This can create better shots for our existing shooters who haven’t hit well because there is a lack of space. Plus he is smart enough to know his weaknesses – his TS% is actually pretty good, which means he doesn’t jack up shots he knows he has no business taking. He’s not CP3 or DWill, but he’s definitely an upgrade over what we’ve got. He was also the 8th most productive PG in the league last year if you fancy the PER.

  63. sessions has never really had the benefit of setting up talent the caliber of pau, drew, and kobe. if he gets into the lane he is going to either freeze defenses because they won’t want to help off our bigs or scramble them because he’s about to attack the cup. he’s also a good rebounder and will create more transition opportunities for us than fisher and blake.

  64. First off Pau is not “Soft”. The man has won on every stage of basketball, the Worlds Championships, the Olympics, and back to back NBA titles. If that is soft I don’t know what tough is!! Mike Brown moves him to the high post, low post, he does it all, the ultimate team player. The only go to offense the Clippers have is the pic n roll and in the playoffs they will be exposed when the game slows down.Griffin needs to develop before the Clippers make any serious noise.

  65. The dilemma for Mike Brown is if he rest the Big Three and lose games in order to save them come playoff time, there might be no games to play for the playoffs as the Lakers might miss even the eight seed. What is there to save in the bank if the rainy days that you are saving for will not come?

  66. Michael H @57 – Your comments of “Did you notice that Chicago didn’t miss a beat when Rose went down…” precisely illustrates my point on significance of head coach drawing the best out of his players. Everybody on Chicago’s team is sold on their coach’s philosophy (whatever it is) and play as a team. Everyone is ready to stand up and fill whatever role is necessary for the team to win games. One cannot always look at other teams and envy they have got all the good players and we just got a bunch of crappy players. That is just giving ourselves excuses. The fact that we lose to inferior teams repeatedly is alarming.

    One of the praises I hear a lot about Mike Brown that he has improved our team defense. I don’t see that. Yes some stats may indicate improvements in defense. But the most glaring stat – the W/L record, and the ugliness of most games played, suggest the actual improvements in defense may not be all that significant. We all know that defense wins games. In the late 90’s when the Bulls was winning. They played great defense. Most of their games were below 100 (mostly in the 80-90 range), but they won most of them. This Lakers team don’t win many of those games, none against good teams.

    I am sorry to have to paint this dismal picture on the Lakers, but it is reality. Mike Brown will not be able to make this team better. The most concerning part is that other super stars like Howard and D Williams may not want to join our team because of Brown.

  67. The Clippers are not a one man show… But it’s close.

    ___

    Not at all. There is one stat that shows you what Paul, and to a lesser extent, Billups, mean to the Clippers. Last year, the Clippers were 29th in the NBA in turnover ratio. This year, they are 2nd. That means more opportunities for Blake Griffin to do his thing. This is, by the way, another example of why the “practice time” meme about the Lakers is off the mark.

    In the link above, Paul keeps his dribble, watches the D, circles back around the elbow to the top of the key, and then feeds Griffin with a geometrically perfect pass at exactly the right moment. It doesn’t look like much–just a 6′ guy, who is carrying a little extra weight, dribbling the ball around and making a bounce pass. But it was absolutely superb PG play, and that is what Paul brings to the table–possession after possession.

  68. Sessions or Arenas? Is there really any question here? Sessions all the way. Question is, can the Cavs get a top 20 1st round pick for him? If they can, Lakers don’t have a chance. If they can’t, Lakers are in the running.

  69. Andy – I doubt FAs will avoid the team because of MB.

    It’s not like Brown is the idiot Spree “had” to choke some years back!

    He’s not a bad coach – at all – but is in the process of remaking a trashed team.

    There was in essence no preseason this year – remember?

    There’s an all new system this year – remember?

    There’s an older and depleted roster this year – remember?

    There’s a nearly (entirely?) all new coaching staff this year – remember?

  70. Aaron @63 – You take aim at the right nail, but hit squarely on the thumb. Yes, Blake Griffin has improved. He has a jumper that works. He is getting a little smarter – but the reason he is getting one on one coverage and looking like a world beater is that his running mates are Paul, Billups, Butler and Jordan. All of them require attention. All of them are making the Clippers a force.

    They are winning not because of Griffin, but because of the solid team they have. It is Griffin that is benefitting from a strong cast around him.

  71. Let’s pull back for just moment and think through an NBA basketball franchise business plan and how it relates to player salary decisions for both the short term and the long term.

    The Lakers must put in place a breakdown in money allotted to each of 15 player positions. As that abstract money turns into salary for individual players, the amount allocated, especially to “stars”, may exceed the projected amount–reducing the money available for all the other positions. To provide stability, and to sign “star” players in the first place, salary commitments must be made for multiple years. In doing that, the team acquires an identity that is almost impossible to change in the short term. In the Laker case, it has generated a nonsustainable budget and an identity problem at the same time.

    The classic Laker approach to their business plan has been to allocate the largest amount of money to an inside/outside combination: West/Baylor, Magic/Kareem, Kobe/Shaq. This sometimes included a third star (West/Baylor/Wilt or Kobe/Shaq/Rice).

    When the Lakers unexpectedly traded Shaq, his salary was split among multiple players, finally becoming Lamar, Drew, and Kwame. When the Lakers traded for Gasol and kept both Lamar and Drew, their long term business model became unsustainable. It was only NBA championships that allowed them the fiction of funding four such salary slots–even without the new CBA.

    Even with Lamar gone, the Lakers have no more than two years before further restructuring becomes absolutely mandatory.

    If anyone can figure out how to radically slice salary, preserve or enhance stature through acquisitions, and win NBA championships for the next two years at the same time, give Mitch a call–or call Jimmy and ask for Mitch’s job.

  72. In regards to Sessions. He shot 46% with over 5 assists a game last year. They would make him MVP on tbe Lakers.

    As for Clippers! They made 15 3 pointers last night not because of Blake Aaron. Because of Paul splitting the defense for wide open 3 pointers. Did you watch the game?

    Also he scored like 26 or so. When was the last time our PG did that. Paul makes then top 2 in the west. Without him they are bumbling down at the 7th, 8th spot with our Lakers.

  73. I wonder how long Mitch and the FO will allow the Howard trade talk to hold the Lakers’ trade aspirations hostage. There has to be some line of demarcation, right? I know the team will hold its cards until the ASG, but how close will the team wait to the trade deadline before it goes to Plan B (trading for Sessions, Calderon, etc., if they’re available)?

    Unlike the Knicks + Anthony, Dwight has not definitively come out to demand his location, and ergo, he’s holding the rest of the league hostage. It’s a fantastic game of chicken the Lakers and the other Dwight suitors are playing. At least Dallas has conceded this season in the hopes of rebuilding for the future. The Nets are horrible to begin with. But if the Lakers don’t play this right, we may not end up with Dwight and have all these trade assets tabled until the summer, while our beloved Lakers struggle to get in the playoffs. Tough time to be the Lakers GM, but in Mitch we trust.

  74. Clippers were incredibly impressive last night but let’s not forget one of the most important rules of the NBA regular season – Never judge a team by one game. The Clippers shot 13-25 from 3. That will not happen very often. This same Clippers team lost to the Jazz by 29.

    The Clips will definitely be a factor in the WC playoffs but I am certainly not ready to say they would beat the Thunder in a 7 game series in which the Thunder would likely have homecourt advantage.

  75. 64,

    I totally agree with Kevin, Clippers are serious contender based on the type intensity displayed last night. Of course, we are biased to our Lakers wishing that CP3 joining us was not snatched by Alligator Stern, it is what it is. Clippers cylinders are well oiled with the convergence of Superstars. Kudo’s to Clipper FO in assembling that aura of talent of exceptionally good PG’s. Just looking back before the lockout, how come Lakers were not able to attract Caron Butler or Billups with an MLE contract. Well, the problem is that our FO thinks Lakers are good enough to shed salaries and our 3 stars surrounded by mini asteroids are enough to go back to the Finals.

    Looking back again, supposing they retained LO & Shanwow and then packaged them after the CP3 fallout to Mavs and got Caron and Barea, or to the Knicks for Billups, perhaps we got something out of nothing. Berea is currently injured but by playoffs time, he could be a dependable PG. Right now, LO’s contract became a dormant TPE. Shannon and Vujacic contracts were used to avoid luxury taxes. These are ideas coming from fans in general asking why and why not? Perhaps, that’s another purpose of a Lakers blog where you read a raw or “trash idea” from junkie posters (who have no access but just mere imagination) that can transformed them into a treasure of ideas that could help the team i.e. if a GM has an open mind.

  76. No way I want sessions it’s a reason he is playing behind irving he isn’t that good. Lakers should go after Jarrett Jack. Hornets are going nowhere fast selling their stock in the process. He’s worth a 1st rounder. If the Lakers pickup a PG it should be someone better than blake and fisher and I can’t definitively say Sessions is better than the guys we have.

  77. Rusty Shackleford January 31, 2012 at 9:28 am

    #82 – The league would nix that trade for “basketball reasons” as well.

    I have a conspiracy theory that the NBA wants to maintain ownership of the Hornets and use them as a farm team for all of the small market teams. They’ll remain in the cellar of the Western Conference meaning they’ll get high draft picks each year and only deal their good young talent to small market teams. Teams like the Lakers, Knicks, Bulls and Heat wouldn’t succeed in brokering any deals with NOLA unless they completely sold out.

    I’m still so pissed about the Chris Paul trade. Why didn’t the NBA suffer any scrutiny for that shady move?

  78. The fact that anyone on here thinks they are going to get anything out of the Lakers this shortened and hectic season is laughable. This is obviously a “practice” season as it were, one where trades are *hopefully going to be* made, superstars getting acquainted with the Head Coach, and just riding the season out on as high a note as possible. Once there is a proper off season, proper training camp, proper pre season, THEN we will see the results that we all want.

    Last season I had high expectations that the Lakers are going to three peat. This season though? With all of the hoopla of extended lockout, no proper training camp, two pre season games, no practice time in between games, no rest in between games, hectic schedules, one-year contract players, and of course A NEW HEAD COACH AND STAFF, how anyone expects anything beyond the second round of the playoffs (at best) is beyond me.

    Just focus on the development of young players, see what trades ACTUALLY happen, and enjoy Kobe. Whoever wins the championship will have an asterik next to it anyway (like the Spurs’ first championship did).

  79. Mike Brown knows about it, but isn’t doing anything about it…
    It’s time to start looking at rotating the rest times. Kobe plays 38 minutes, Pau plays 30. Pau plays 35, Bynum plays 25, Bynum plays 35, Kobe plays 25, etc…

  80. Rusty

    The only problem with your theory is that the Clippers are a large market team…

  81. dave m,
    “It takes a really strong coach to sit him. Brown has to learn how to be that guy.”

    PJ never figured that out.

  82. 85,

    Rusty, the Comish cannot nix these moves because they don’t own Knicks and Mavs. They were able to nix the CP3 trade because they are in charge of NO. This is another conflict of interest for the league to continue owning and maintaining a franchise for about two seasons now. If it is a temporary takeover like what happened to the bankrupt owners of the Dodgers, we understand the situation. They should offer it into an auction to other buyers, to the City or the State of Louisiana or any private interest but not continue maintaining the operations of the team while conducting the affairs of the NBA league.

  83. Robinred,
    Chris Paul has had career worst seasons the last couple years. For him not very good. Overall is still a good PG as I wrote above. But this team without Blake is the Hornets last season. Billlups is having his worst season to date and Mo Williams is good but doesn’t play much behind Paul. This Clippers team is what it is because Blake Griffen is a different player this season and is domination the league. And I can only imagine he will take another step up. This is only his second season in the NBA… But the future is now as they say.

  84. Dave M & Ex

    I look at it that MBrown has no alternative but to play Kobe or else they get behind by double digit. I observed that there was a game where Kobe was a mere facilitator and Lakers were always playing catch-up basketball. One reason why Lakers seldom get to 100 pt. mark, they consume so much time passing the ball and shoot it at expiring 24 seconds. If Kobe is not playing we shave off at least 15 pts from average score. Kobe is averaging 30 ppg 6 rpg and 1.5 t/o. You are lucky if you can get a replacement player from any of the 2nd unit players to average 15 ppg. How will you fill out the slack in pts.?

  85. Aaron,

    I think Griffin looks different because has two future HOF PGs who score and take care of the ball feeding him.

    Again: look at the team turnover numbers. Paul doesn’t look impressive, but he gets you good possessions, and Griffin is the guy to finish them.

  86. Aaron,

    I have a comment stuck in moderation, but the key is not Billups/Paul ve. their career numbers–the key is Billups/Paul vs. what the Clippers had last year.

  87. Comparing Blake griffin to Shawn Kemp is disrespectful to Kemp. He was a beast when big men played like big men….when dunking was dangerous. He was a lock down defender who played on a team that required he share the scoring. He had a face up jumper, lethal drop step and spin move to the baseline.

    Blake is good…not at kemps level yet

  88. Pre-lockout Kemp was a stud, no question. People remember the bloated guy who looked awful in Portland and Cleveland. You can’t base comparison of that guy’s ceiling to his older years any more than one can base Gary Payton’s career on his time spent as a Laker.

    Griffin has upside, for sure, but he’s not yet as good as Kemp’s peak seasons.

  89. Keith: you didn’t see Shawn Kemp, clearly, when he and Gary Payton were in their prime. They were electrifying in their day. I still contest that he was the most exciting in-game dunker ever. He was a great rebounder, his defense wasn’t great but he was so athletic he could cheat and get back and still contest his attacker’s shots. He was very aggressive at getting to the hoop and had a soft touch close in and could shoot a nice jumper out to about 18 feet. He was much better than Blake.

    Agree with BigCitySid that all us Laker fans seriously need to watch some Lakers’ ’85 Finals or ’00 WC Finals or something to remember how great this team is. The sky might be falling a bit but there’s not a whole lot one can do sometimes. Even still, it’s not falling much. I can’t believe all this talk about blowing up the team and giving Kobe the franchise tag. I used to read all the comments here but there is an awful lot to skip now because many of you are in full-on panic mode. We have a very good team. Yes, it’s not as good as our teams of ’09 or ’10, but we are still a solid, easily 2nd round playoff team if we get a Sessions or Arenas. We have played a tough schedule, the whole league is extremely condensed because of the abbreviated schedule and so the level of play is down. Why would we blow up a team that got to the second round of the playoffs? Who does that? This is nonsense. I would love Sessions or Arenas. Both, as Avidon said, take the ball to the hoop and would open up the court which is what DFish doesn’t do. We do not need to blow up a team that (as MannyP says) got to the finals 3 of the last 4 years. Listen to yourselves people! A Sessions would be a welcome addition to the team and I think we could quite plausibly see going to the WC Finals.