Past, Present and Future of the 2011-12 Lakers

J.M. Poulard —  May 29, 2012

With the Lakers season now over and the wounds from the elimination at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder slowly healing, we look back on the season that was and look forward to what will be for the present day Los Angeles Lakers by going 3-on-3 with the Forum Blue & Gold staff.

1. What was your favorite Andrew Bynum moment of the 2011-12 season and/or your thoughts about his season overall?

David Murphy: The 30 rebounds against the Spurs was an astonishing number, but the fact that Kobe wasn’t suited up, and that it was San Antonio, added to the stakes. I was watching Drew snag balls and kept thinking about the difference between him and somebody truly dedicated to boards. Rodman had that innate sense, he instantly saw and tracked trajectories, he was able to fly horizontally to the floor. Bynum’s not like that, he’s just more of a really big guy who has a decent sense of where the ball will be, and is able to get position. The larger point is the question of consistency. It’s like anything in the game, you have to want it. Does he have it in him to will that body and size and the bulkiest knee device in the league, to do these things game in, game out?

J.M. Poulard: With 23 seconds left in the game and the Los Angeles Lakers clinging to a one-point lead against the hated Boston Celtics at home, everyone assumed the ball would go to Kobe and that he would seal the game with a jumper at the right elbow. Well instead, Mike Brown put the ball in the hands of Andrew Bynum on the left block against Kevin Garnett and he delivered with a beautiful right-handed hook shot that essentially sealed the game. This is when many truly started to have visions of greatness for ‘Drew.

Emile Avanessian: In more ways than one, Andrew Bynum ranks among the most frightening players in basketball. At seven feet and 300 pounds with a skill set nurtured by the greatest center ever to play the game, he is a must on any list of the NBA’s toughest covers. A graceful giant, on any given night Bynum is capable of hanging a demoralizing 35 on an opponent or wiping the boards clean, as he did on April 11 in San Antonio, when he grabbed an incredible 30 rebounds. On most teams in the league he’d be a focal point, almost certainly boasting averages in the 25-14 neighbourhood.

Unfortunately, my greatest fear concerning Andrew Bynum is that he’ll be cast as the Lakers’ leading man for the coming decade. Only physically does Bynum cut the figure of a championship catalyst. Set aside the injury concerns (which, thus far in his career, have been significant) and you are left with a physically gifted big man whose penchant for losing interest in the task at hand knows neither rhyme nor reason. Say what you will about the consistency of Shaq’s effort while in L.A. – and I’ve said plenty – he’d sooner dedicate the entirety of a summer to two-a-day workouts than sleepwalk through playoff games and close out a season with a whimpering 10 and 4.

2.What was your favorite Pau Gasol moment of the 2011-12 season and/or your thoughts about his season overall?

David Murphy: To Pau or not to Pau? The question of his future has to be the most obvious one on the table. I’m a huge, huge fan. The games in which he wasn’t a factor were shocking because we expect consistency from him. He actually plays quite well with Bynum and I think left to their natural devices, just going out there and winging it together, they’d be unstoppable. Regardless of what Pau has meant to this team, or his best moments, he’s the most obvious trade chip on the table and I have to think he’s played his last in a Lakers uniform. The fact that he was in play all year means something. Jim Buss is a draft junkie and I’d bet that he’s looking at ways to jump up and get a meaningful pick.

J.M. Poulard: Picking one singular Pau moment from this past season proved difficult for me, but highlighting one of his skills came almost naturally given his talent. The best moment of this past season involving Pau Gasol was every pick-and-roll he ran with Kobe Bryant that resulted in him diving hard towards the basket, catching the ball and then lobbing it softly over the top of would be defenders to Andrew Bynum for a thunderous dunk that always brought the house down when the games were played at Staples. If Pau has indeed played his last game in purple and gold, this will be my lasting memory of him for the 2011-12 season.

Emile Avanessian: It’s not always easy to conjure sympathy for an intelligent 31 year-old making $19 million per year, that’s still got his health and designs on a life in medical once this chapter of his career draws to a close.

Perhaps Pau Gasol’s days as the Lakers’ clear-cut #2 option are behind him. Who knows, maybe his best days as an NBAer are behind him. Maybe neither. Perhaps a breakneck regular season – before which he was actually traded away – during which he was asked to adapt to a new role, despite a paucity of practice time is not exactly a scenario in which one thrives. Whatever the explanation, the Lakers have arrived at a crossroads with their gifted big man.

For reason extending beyond a lackluster (by his own standards) 2011-12 – advanced age relative to Bynum, a contract that pays him $38 million over the next two seasons, the Lakers’ lack of salary cap flexibility, possibly his own desire to move to a more nurturing environment – it would appear that Gasol’s Laker days are drawing to a close. I find this to be profoundly saddening, for unless the magic beans for whom Pau is traded play the point while rocking a weird, sprayed-on hairdo, the Lakers will replace neither Pau’s skills, nor his (all too rare on this team) selflessness, nor his unwavering professionalism.

3.What was your favorite Kobe Bryant moment of the 2011-12 season and/or thoughts about the season overall?

David Murphy: Kobe. This is the most complex topic, no? For me, it was those moments within games, rather than games in their entirety. The difference in his knee this season was remarkable. I haven’t seen him sky like that in a while. And, the time he stuck up for Pau, when he spoke to the press about the trade rumors, and what Pau meant to the team. It wasn’t in-game but it felt like a breakthrough leadership moment, the place where he filled Derek’s gap. It didn’t last though, because it’s just not in his nature to accept what’s less than what’s needed. By the end of it all, you only had to see the expression on his face, the withering stares. And know that change is going to come.

J.M. Poulard: With five seconds left on the game clock and the Detroit Pistons leading by two at the Palace of Auburn Hills, Kobe took the inbounds pass in the middle of the floor, sized up Tayshaun Prince, got himself to the right elbow and fired a beautiful jumper — this should make every Kobe Bryant highlight reel — over the outstretched arms of Prince that went in and sent the game to overtime as the red lights came on to signal that time had expired. The beauty of this shot was that Kobe not only knew it was good once it left his hands, but he seemed completely unimpressed with his achievement as he walked back to the bench as if he had done this for oh maybe 16 years and counting.

Many will debate in the next few weeks whether Bryant has lost the title of best closer in the league at the expense of Kevin Durant and Chris Paul, considering his age and the erosion of some of skills; but when push comes to shove and he is faced with single-coverage with the game on the line, you would be hard pressed to come up with a player better equipped to handle the moment than Kobe Bean Bryant. The game in Detroit served as a reminder of that.

Emile Avanessian: This year more than ever it became apparent that, while Kobe retains his ability to dial up the dominance, his ability to do so on demand is no longer what it once was. Given this, and taking into account the Lakers’ uncertainly up front, tenuous salary cap situation and limited talent pool, any blockbuster move made this summer, while strengthening one area of the roster or another, will carry a hefty price tag elsewhere. Except for one.

By stealing a page from the book of another Laker legend and taking to the post, Kobe Bryant could breathe new life in the dynasty he’s killing himself to keep alive. We saw it intermittently during the regular season as well as during the playoffs. Kobe Bryant – like Magic two decades ago – has both the intellect, size and skill set to transform a game once predicated on speed on the perimeter into one powered by elite footwork, resourceful shot-making and catching-and-kicking. It’s unlikely that Kobe will ever willingly cede top dog status to an up-and-coming superstar. It’s equally unlikely that we, in our heart of hearts, would ever truly want him to. In one fell swoop, however, Kobe could ensure his ongoing status as the focal point of the Laker offense while reducing the wear on the oldest soon-to-be 34 year-old body in NBA history.

Bonus:  If you could choose one Laker FA to keep next year (Sessions, Hill, Ebanks, Barnes) who would you choose & why?

David Murphy: When it comes to our free agents, the one that jumps out is Jordan Hill. By a mile. I was one of the naysayers when he arrived. It was really more about the way that Derek was traded – I was so disappointed in how that went down that Hill was a convenient target. And then came the OKC game at the tail end of the regular season, the fourth quarter and overtime and it was a revelation – this guy means something to the team in very tangible ways. He’s young, has a great attitude, has natural talents and instincts and I suspect, is very coachable. We have to bring him back. 

J.M. Poulard: Given that it seems all but certain that one of the starting big men will be gone by the time the training camp rolls around, it will be important for the Lakers to have a productive big man they can count on; and that has to be Jordan Hill. Between his rebounding, effort, energy and willingness to play his part, it seems like a no-brainer that the Lakers will do everything possible to retain his services and it’s the right move.

Emile Avanessian: At his best, Ramon Sessions is the point guard the Lakers desperately need. Unfortunately, his best vacated the premises some time ago, replaced by something between “middling” and “subpar.” Were Ramon to have years left on his current contract, the prospect of bringing him back would be welcome, but what he’s delivered at the price he’ll likely command on the open market (I’m guessing $6M per?) do not represent outstanding value.

Jordan Hill, on the other hand, is still growing into NBA adulthood, and he too delivers so much of what this team lacks. Hardworking, unselfish, aware of his limitations. These traits are often in short supply in Lakerland. To secure these – and some much needed depth and, if necessary, roster flexibility – in the form of a young, strong frontcourt banger that’s unlikely to command more than $3-$4M on the open market? From where I sit, that’s too good to pass up.

J.M. Poulard

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50 responses to Past, Present and Future of the 2011-12 Lakers

  1. “Bynum’s not like that, he’s just more of a really big guy who has a decent sense of where the ball will be, and is able to get position.”

    In that game yes over the course of the season I didn’t see it. I saw the tallest tree in the woods with the longest branches catching what fell to him. My favorite Bynum moment was the back to back games vs Memphis and NO. Both overtimes. The best back to back ball games I saw Drew play this year.

    My favorite Pau moment was him taking it to Dirk this year. After last year’s playoffs he dominated that matchup this year. Did the same thing after KG embarrassed him in 08. Pau always comes back stronger.

    My favorite Kobe moment was the last game he played. The moves on display the dunks and reverses vs OKC. The fight he showed gave me hope for next year. With few minutes in Olympics I have no doubt Kobe can still play at that level next year.

    I agree with the mods Jordan Hill. Having Blake AND Sessions back as PG’s is asking for another early exit.

  2. Great read. I’d have to say Bynum getting the game winner against Boston is one of my favorite moments of the season too.

    In the spirit of tonight’s game, a question I was thinking about the other day –

    Now that even Popovich has admitted Duncan has been a center for a decade … where does Duncan fit among all-time big men? It was too easy to say he was the best PF of al time. What about compared to all bigs?

    I have him somewhere around Hakeem’s level. Ignoring the rings argument (I’d argue Hakeem had the weakest supporting cast of any champion in 1994), I’d probably put Duncan as slightly behind Hakeem and Shaq. I think he’s most similar to Hakeem in terms of style of play, but I still think Hakeem was slightly better offensively and defensively (as great as Duncan is).

    Draft watching recently, and I have to say Andre Drummond looks like a real monster based on the limited amount I’ve seen. Has the strength/body to guard the post and the quickness to slow down perimeter players on the PnR. Could be a very, very good defensive player going forward.

    Also, I have a funny feeling the Hornets snag the top pick tomorrow.

    D-League GM may be promoted to Lester’s old position:

    http://espn.go.com/los-angeles/nba/story/_/id/7984861/sources-los-angeles-lakers-talks-promote-staffer-glenn-carraro-assistant-gm

  3. Also, I have a funny feeling the Hornets snag the top pick tomorrow.

  4. A lot of trade talk is about swapping one of our bigs for a PG – because the league has become PG-centric these days.

    I’m sorry, but almost all teams who have won the championship over the last 12 years have had a dominant center – either offensive, defensive, or both. Over the same time, very few of these ‘fantastic’ PGs have collected a ring.

    Just because we like the way basketball is played in the regular season doesn’t mean we have to copy it, unless it also means success in the post season. The NBA axiom about not swapping a good big for a good small is there for a reason.

  5. Wow – spurs just play such great team ball. good passing – parker driving the lane, and their shooters hit the open shot. Beautiful basketball. Lakers used to look like this.

  6. sg kobe bryant is old washed up and beat up. he is making over 21 million dollars. i know he is old but we got a little for shaq and if we trade him now for a first round pick and free up cap space and get rid of his me first pre maddonna attitude ,we might be able to get some team players in here like cener dwight howard,first round pick and another younger sg.

  7. SA is putting on a clinic. Very fun to watch.

  8. Spurs would have swept the Lakers in 3 games.

    Yea that’s right they would have forfeited tge last game.

  9. I know this word gets thrown around a lot, but this is an absolute clinic. The Spurs are taking the Thunder’s will from them. No one even bothered to chase Parker on that corner 3.

    You can see the frustration on Westbrook as he continually gets lost on SA’s fantastic screens. The Spurs might not set picks as hard as Kendrick Perkins, but the angles and movement and way they use their screens is incredible.

    One of the mods can delete the multiple comment in #3.

    I almost find myself hoping the Spurs lose just so we can get a break from Ken’s constant whining. I give Ken props though – he’ll find a way to complain no matter what, no matter who’s playing or what’s going on in the game.

  10. Hey at least I am consistent!

    More then I can say for
    Barnes
    Blake
    Metta
    Andrew

    Ah never mind——-

  11. Popovich is hands down the best active coach in the NBA, “Coach of the Year.”

    In the first game they designed their defense to shut Harden down. The Thunder prepare to get Harden going in game two. Well, Popovich has changed his level of attack they are attacking Westbrook on offense. My guess is the next game they’ll attack Durant with their defense.

    The Spurs are playing beautiful basketball the way it was meant to be played.

    Wow, Harden looks incredulous when he’s called for a foul against Ginobli on the out of bounds play. Sure hurts when your tactics get turned on you, huh Harden.

  12. Ko: don’t forget Sessions.

  13. San Antonio is at least a level above everyone else right now.

  14. Yeah, the Spurs are just chewing up the asphalt right now. Super impressive.

  15. Travis Knight was consistent too. Brought about the same level of production every night. Doesn’t make him any fun to listen to.

    If the Spurs do go on and win the title, it’ll be the 2nd straight year a team has won largely based on superior ball movement. Tony Parker: this year’s Nowitzki.

  16. Tony Parker is 15/20 from the floor, with 7 AST and 2 TO.

  17. The Zombie Sonics have more free throw attempts despite spending the whole 3rd quarter hacking-a-Splitter. I’ll bet you OKC fans will have a ton of complaints about how unfair the refs were to them.

    Let the record show Fisher missed every big shot in this one.

  18. I guess this Parker guy is pretty good. But according to a certain someone, he’s garbage.

  19. Agreed, Jordan Hill is definitely a player of interest for the Lakers next season. If he can get that 15-footer to be consistent and strengthen his knee he could be the backup big the Lakers have been looking for since Shaq’s days.

    Rookie Kawhi Leonard has 18 points and 10 rebounds against OKC. Another excellent player from Riverside, CA.

  20. Spurs has to be the most dominant playoff team since 01 Lakers. They’re on a heck of a run.

  21. Hey Aaron,

    Is Tony Parker “struggling” like you predicted he would against OKC?

    Is he still average to below average?

  22. This may be the best Spurs team we have ever seen…. so deep and so talented at every spot. Just incredible basketball.

    On another night I am praying Anthony Davis ends up with Kyrie Irving, being a Kentucky fan it would give me the chance to see him up close by as well as ending up with a future PG superstar in the mold of Chris Paul.

  23. Still amazes me how a player of Kevin Durant’s caliber can disappear for such crucial stretches of time.

    Parker must be the most phenomenal average player of all-time.

  24. Aaron is like the Steinfeld episode where they played opposite day.

    Parker is probably the best point guard in the league right now. Who knows what future is for Rose but Tony is just amazing.

    For a avarage player that is.

  25. Durant 31 points, Harden 30 points, Westbrook 27 points. And OKC still lost. Spurs are good.

  26. Durant 31/5/5/3/2. Harden 30/7/4/2 (13 FT’s). Westbrook 27/7/8. Those are 3 monster games from OKC best 3 players and they lost.

    Spurs are only going to beat themselves. They may lose only if they don’t make 3s. Or LeBron shuts down Parker. Spurs offense vs a healthy Bulls defense would’ve been great to see.

  27. Fisher 2-11 tonight for OKC

  28. Parker’s been underrated by most NBA watchers all year. Beyond OKC’s big 3, they don’t have a strong enough supporting cast to match up against the Spurs. Based on what I’ve seen so far, I don’t think they can win more than 2 games in the series.

  29. - In game one of the Spurs series, Harden came in at the 6 minute mark of the first quarter. For the rest of the quarter he did his usual flopping, charging into people while trying to draw a foul, than flopping after initiating contact. I counted SIX times he tried to flop in the first quarter alone…. but NOT ONCE did the refs blow a whistle. The contrast of the officiating on Harden compared to how he was officiated against the Lakers, where almost every attempt at a flop seemed to get a whistle, was curious to say the least.

    – Fast forward to game 2, a minute and a half into the game, Perkins does his usual moving screen at the top of the key, but this time, he gets called for an illegal pick, which set the tone for the rest of the game that the refs were not going to allow his illegal picks, like they did against the Lakers. Another head scratcher.

    —- now, perhaps the refs reviewed the prior series against the Lakers and made adjustments accordingly, or perhaps the Spurs got some home court bias from the refs, or perhaps, and most likely, NBA refs completely suck. I don’t know what the answer is, all I know is Harden and Perkins got away with murder against the Lakers with their continual flops and illegal screens, and for some reason, the refs are not allowing them to get away with it against the Spurs.

  30. The Spurs are playing like the two teams in the 80’s, pushing the ball for 48 minutes and Tim Duncan is getting younger with his smart moves on Ibaka. However, Scott Brooks was a never-say-die Coach, with some tricks in his sleeves that altered the tempo.

    With regards to the Laker, I wish I can be proud with our so called two bigs – dominant in what? Can you teach them to run like the Spurs, maybe for 5 minutes and day dreaming for the next 30 minutes. That’s just being a realistic assessment of what transpired in the last two playoffs, why we were eliminated by a young teams. Gasol is no longer the Pau Gasol of ’09 & ’10. Bynum is a case study Goliath, I’m sure the Lakers F/O and Owners are in deep thinking whether to hand this guy 80M for contract extension up to 2016 or trade him now. It’s also possible that they were not used effectively by this new Coach.

    True, DH’s back surgery is not a guarantee to his return but that is a calculated risk, wherein this medical aspects are part and parcel for the trade to go through.

    If you were a Superstar like Howard, Paul, Williams and Nash and up to this time you don’t have a ring, why would you not consider getting to the Lakers bandwagon? In two years’ time, Kobe will out. There will be a void for Superstar status in a huge market of Laker nation and also an abundance in salary caps that a new Superstar could inherit. Will it be the lazy, moody Bynum to inherit it or the current superstars whose contracts are expiring in one year’s time? Follow the money and the opportunity of Championship (Nash’s interest) by teaming up with Kobe.

    What we need here is a visionary GM who could transmit that message indirectly while promoting to fellow GM’s the value that our two beautiful bigs can do for their teams. I think that’s the answer to Lakers future.

  31. When people say the Spurs are the deepest team in the league, I think there’s 2 ways to look at it. I think they have so many players that contribute because Pop is so phenomenal at defining their roles, not because this team is bursting at the seams with talent. It’s that Pop has maximized that talent. Danny Green and Diaw were castoffs from a couple of the worst rosters. Neal couldn’t get a fair shot in the league. I can very easily see Leonard looking like an out of control rookie (with potential) making mistakes and playing over his head if he’s stuck in Charlotte instead. They’re “deep” in that they have the best coach and a great system, but put Randy Wittman in charge of this group and people will be screaming about how thin the roster is.

    I love the simplicity of it all. At the end of the day, while there are beautifully diagrammed plays, the role players just understand how to move to maintain ideal spacing and keep the defense stretched thin.

    NBA players generally have very horrible taste in announcers: http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nba-ball-dont-lie/nba-players-rank-favorite-tv-announcers-rank-rankings-194920582.html;_ylt=AjQtdRck2xh1qljwF1WdwRe8vLYF

    Reggie Miller, really? Mark Jackson? Shameful. I generally agree with Dwyer’s takes on most of those. Too bad we’ve never seen a Marv Albert-Hubie Brown lineup.

  32. It’s amazing that, at the end of the day, coaching still does wonders in a league dominated by genetic specimens.

    And while I know it’s not going to happen, I think the ultimate ending for this season would be Boston making it to the finals and giving us Garnett vs. Duncan. It’s almost as if the past two seasons are seasons in which we’re setting the order of big men straight.

  33. Strange, but it seems that for the second year in a row the team that makes the most 3 point shots will win it all.

    How brilliant is the Spurs’ FO, anyway? They gave away a back-up PG for a starting contributor SF, who also happens to be on a rookie scale for 3 years after this one. Also, he is full of potential.

    I’m officially jealous.

  34. Mike Brown is stuck in 2005. Genius coaches like Pop know in order to win in this day and age, the tempo has to rise a few notches.

  35. @LT mitchell, I had a conversation about that today. It’s not really a mystery. The refs know what side their bread is buttered on. Consult your ESPN front page to see which teams are currently “in favor” with the league, and then try to contain your astonishment as those teams get sickening favoritism from the refs. The contrast in how the refs treated Harden between the two series is especially striking, you’re right.

  36. Kevin@110 prev: I like it. Yes – why were we in such a hurry to get rid of Lester?; Then we are able to go through the whole year without him; Now we need to promote someone into the job. Interesting to say the least.
    Edwin: I like your superstar emphasis. Problem is that we can only do this via trade and not FA. In all three cases, they might go full FA, then we are out. We need to be aggressive if we going to prevent this.

  37. rr @111 previous: The Robert plan is to “try” to get superstars like D12, DW, Nash, etc.. D12 would need to be verified as basketball ready. In order to get them – everyone is on the block except KB. If we fail, then we must go to a re-build plan, where we stockpile picks, young players, and have a very interesting discussion about KB. The 2 plans (primary + backup) are completely opposite, so you must choose one and then pursue it. As you know – what I do not want is to futz around the edges. This will keep us better in the short run than a re-build, but it does not get us rings. No plan is guaranteed to get us rings, but futzing seems to be the worst option, as it would be repeating what we have done for the past two years – and that did not work out so well.

  38. Wow,

    Spurs retooled around their big Three because they could not get past the second-round (sometimes even the first round) for 3 straight years.

    And all of a sudden Pop is genius, Parker is god and the Spurs are loaded.
    Even if mosto of the people saying this have already saind in the past that tehy were too old and their window had closed for good.

    So forgive me if a can’t stand people saying the same thing about hte Lakers (too old, window has closed, have to blown up the team, etc.)

    I think the Spurs is proving that it is completely viable to reetool our roster around our Big Three.

    If we find a way to keep Hill and Sessions, those plus the Big Three are a good core to bluid around.
    We just need to flank them wirth some good and athletic shooters.

    Even if this means parting ways with MWP.

  39. Anybody see the report from Stephen A about Lamar desperatly wanting to come back to the Lakers – that would be amazing :) – Lamar had a terrible year last year but it was obvious that we missed his handling, passing, 3’s, unselfisness, and his ability to bring guys together in the locker room.

    I thought Pau had to try to be Lamar in the new system with all the unselfisness which took him out of things and we lost our 3 headed 7Ft monster when he was shipped out – It would be great to see kobe/Gasol in the PnR with lamar as PF instead of Bynum and Gasol

    + Bynum and Lamar could be a strech 4 for Bynum in the 2nd unit.

    Side note – in looking at the spurs play, wouldnt it be nice if our bigs actually set picks, I thought our bigs to many times released before the pick was complete making it totally useless – maybe some fundamentals is all we need

  40. Warren Wee Lim May 30, 2012 at 7:43 am

    I was reading the CBA today and came across several important factoids:

    “A team may use the Early Bird exception to re-sign its own free agent for up to 175% of his salary in the previous season2 (not over the maximum salary, of course) or 104.5% of the average salary in the previous season, whichever is greater. Early Bird contracts must be at least two seasons in length, which prevents teams from using the Early Bird to sign a one-year contract, then signing the same player with the full Larry Bird exception the following season. Early Bird contracts can be up to four years in length, with raises up to 7.5% of the salary in the first season of the contract. Early Bird is also a component of the Veteran Free Agent exception, and qualifying players are called “Early Qualifying Veteran Free Agents” in the CBA. ”

    Such provision will apply to Matt Barnes should we choose to retain him.

  41. @Lakers8884
    Ha! Do you really think there is any chance at all that the (David Stern) Hornets do not “win” the draft lottery?

  42. Warren Wee Lim May 30, 2012 at 7:48 am

    And here’s one that would apply to Jordan Hill:

    “If a player was a first round draft pick, just completed the third year of his rookie scale contract, and his team did not invoke its team option for the fourth season (see question number 48), then the team cannot use the Larry Bird exception to re-sign him to a salary greater than he would have received had the team exercised its option. In other words, teams can’t decline an option year in order to get around the rookie salary scale and give the player more money. “

  43. The “model” for building under the new CBA is still under development. With the Super Tax looming it will no longer allow teams to pay max contracts to 3 players and stay competitive. In the cases of veteran teams like the Spurs, Miami, Boston, their stars did not take max money. The “Stars” realized that if they want to play together they would have to spread the wealth. Moving forward if you are going to build around existing “Stars” they are going to have to follow that model. The other way we see to build is to amass rookie scale contracts. In the case of OKC and lets say a Denver team, they jettisoned their max contract players and took players back with rookie type contracts which allowed them to have deeper more talented rosters. I am afraid that what we are going to see for the next 2 years is aging almost stars coming in asking for star money, under performing and almost getting us their. I’m all for moving everything and everyone except Kobe and beginning the process of building a winner long term with young talent and draft picks. Bynum for the number one pick? LOL, come on MJ used the number one pick on Kwame he should jump at the chance to take Bynum for the number one should Charlotte win it.

  44. Re: Duncan and Garnett

    Tim beat Kevin where it was most important. Ducan declined max money during his peak years so the Spurs could keep a competitive team around him. Meanwhile Garnett was the highest paid player in the leage for several years. Tim set the tone on that team and anyone coming in to play with them had to check his ego and salary requirements at the door. .

    Who thinks Sprewell would have still flipped out about money on a team where the best player was intentionally leaving money on the table?

  45. For those interested in facts and not speculation… Tony Parker was ranked near the middle of the pack the last four years when ranked against the other starting PGs in the league. Sorry to burst everyone’s bubble. That’s because PGs are very good in this league not because Parker is “garbage”. TP shot under thirty percent against the Clippers last round but because Perkins is washed up and can’t play in PnR coverage Tony is able to be very effective. I figured Perkins would be benched for this round as the Spurs don’t have a low post player or big body Center for him to guard. When OKC makes that adjustment they will win this series.

  46. But Tony Parker had a great year this season… Crawling up the ranks from 13-16 to fantastic fourth best PG. Statistically right behind… You guessed it… Russell Westbrook. Of course he probably is truly ranked before than that when you account for defense. Little 6 foot PGs are at a giant disadvantage. Just as Ramon Sessions.

  47. Before Spurs rebuilt around their big 3. They had PG, SG, C all these pieces fit. They all had great chemistry because they been through the rigors before and won when all 3 played big time roles on their championship teams. Lakers are in a different spot they have a SG and 2 Centers. A big 3 who have never played heavy minutes together for a full season. Their pieces don’t fit. Signing Sessions won’t help that would be equivalent of when Spurs signed Jefferson. Big Mistake.

  48. Wade and James are so much better then anything we have. And a dislike the Heat.