Wednesday Storylines

Darius Soriano —  August 8, 2012

In terms of the NBA calendar, we’ve officially entered into the period best described as the dregs of summer. News is slow as teams are holding off on inking free agents, trades are non-existent, and most of the news involves teams filling whatever coaching or front office vacancies they may still have. Not exactly the blockbuster action a lot of fans are hoping for. That said, there’s still some happenings going on, both with the Lakers and around the rest of the league:

  • It’s been discussed plenty, but the Lakers are still after some wing help. When looking at a list of the top 20 free agents still on the market, there are some desirable names still to be snatched up that could bolster the Lakers’ perimeter rotation.
  • The name residing at the top of a lot of Lakers observers’ wish list is Jodie Meeks. He’s young, has a rep as a shooter, and should come cheap.
  • It’s that last point, however, that is now in question. Meeks’ agent has drawn a line in the financial sand, stating his client won’t play for the minimum. I don’t blame Meeks’ agent for trying to leverage bigger dollars for his man. After all, that’s his job. Plus, once a player signs on for the minimum, it’s hard to escape that fate in future deals. Mickael Pietrus and Kenyon Martin are two players who took the minimum last year to play for playoff teams and now they’re struggling to find offers above that this summer and are languishing unsigned still hoping for a bigger offer. Meeks is still at a point in his career where he’s looking to get that first “big” contract and this may be his one shot to get it.
  • Moving on from potential Lakers, to current ones, the question must be asked: are the Lakers alienating the franchise Center they currently have in pursuit of the one they’d rather have? This is a question we’ve asked before ourselves and it’s one that is difficult to answer. Bynum, for all his outspokenness, isn’t always the easiest player to read and when you add his agent to the mix (David Lee doesn’t have the best history in negotiations with the Lakers) it’s hard to know what Bynum will do when it’s time to decide where he’ll play out his next contract. Know this, however: Bynum has leverage and may just use it of pressed hard enough.
  • Of course, another Laker big man is making news and doing so because of the work he’s doing on the court. At TrueHoop, Kevin Arnovitz named Pau Gasol as one of the 10 players performing very well these Olympics:

He has snatched those 25 or so minutes he spends on the floor for Spain and made them his personal exhibition. It’s difficult to tell if Gasol is being guided by the desire to answer those who question his fortitude November through June, or if he truly feels more comfortable in that Espana jersey. Whatever the case, Gasol has eagerly moved to the post, but has still experienced a ton of success as a face-up jump shooter.

  • Pau is playing so well, in fact, that he’s on the verge of tying an Olympic record.
  • One Laker not playing as great in London is Kobe Bryant. His offense has been up and down and his defense has not been up to the standard he showed in the 2008 Beijing games. In fact, Tom Haberstroh says that for Team USA to get back to its defensive roots, Andre Iguodala should grab more of Kobe’s minutes.
  • It’s highly doubtful that Kobe’s minutes are reduced and it’s very likely that Team USA will win the gold medal anyway. Plus, as Marc Stein told Beckley Mason, Kobe’s not worried about how he’s playing and says he’ll be ready to close should the moment present itself.

Beyond that, though, it’s doubtful Kobe will need to “close” any games in the way he’s asked to do so often for the Lakers. LeBron James is coming off a championship where he dispelled a lot of the doubts that he could be the man down the stretch. Kevin Durant is also quite good at burying opponents down the stretch of a close game. Instead, Kobe can focus on making the little plays, like he did in grabbing a key offensive rebound down the stretch of the Lithuania game that gave the Americans an extra possession used to extend their lead and pretty much ice the game. It may not be the role he’s used to, but it’s one he can perform quite well for this team and help them achieve their goal of bringing home the gold.

Darius Soriano

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41 responses to Wednesday Storylines

  1. It amazes me that Meeks and his agent want to squeeze every nickle out of a contract now and can’t see the obvious.

    How many role players the last few years have looked better playing with the Lakers than they really are and have turned it into good contracts? Shasha, Luke, Turiaf, Ariza, Shannon, Farmar, Evans, am I leaving anyone out?

    If I were Meeks, I’d sign for two years with the Lakers, look good playing with Kobe, Nash and Pau, get good playoff experience, practice against and learn from Kobe, and then roll all that into a good deal.

    It’s a perfect opportunity staring him in the face.

  2. Josh Childress is hands-down the best player available; in fact, he’s a superstar amongst the advanced stats community. AND HE’S FREE. Phoenis pays his whole salary except for the minimum. He can play SG or SF–he’s way better than Metta at this stage, and he won’t take the ball out of Nash’s hands like our current past-his-prime SG–and did I mention HE’S FREE?

  3. Pau playing 25 mins seems a bit much. It would be such an acheivement for him to get the Olympics record but not at the expense of him breaking down with the Lakers.

    Mark Medina did a profile on McGrady. Made some good points and would be a nice 1 yr rental. But he pointed out Kuester was the coach when he and others revolted against him in Detroit.

    Jodie Meeks isn’t a can’t miss signing if Lakers don’t sign him I won’t lose sleep over it. I like Pietrus because he has size and can possibly guard Harden but he made some bonehead plays with Boston. Martin signing would be almost an insurance policy but I think we have a better Kenyon in Hill.

    Crazy how it finally starts to feel like summer in August. Good day Lakers fans.

  4. It would be nice if Pau came back from London with the same focus and energy, and Kobe returned with the same willingness to let others shoulder a little more of the heavy lifting.

    While clearly none of his Lakers teammates are at the level of LeBron or Durant, that doesn’t mean Kobe shouldn’t be willing to ease back his alpha dog role just a bit if that would benefit the team as a whole.

  5. Kobe is (almost) 34 with A LOT of miles on his legs. He is a wing player at that. He is the oldest player on the Olympic team. It should be no surprise that he looks his age out there. There is no shame in that. He just has to be honest in his own assessment of his effectiveness and play accordingly. He doesn’t have to be a world beater for team USA to win gold.

  6. I totally agree with inwit, young players nowadays are not thinking of the long run but just interested of the highest bidder. A matured player who is about to retire has the motivation of getting a ring for posterity or further extension of contract years while the young ones are sometimes being misled by their agents in going for the highest bidder or in the case of the latter, his commission.

    For Dwight, Meeks, Beverley and McCants who are rumored on the running on Lakers scope, they should take advantage on the alignment of the stars who are about to exit in few years. If they can show something for the Lakers and its fans, there is a huge raise in 3 years’ time either through Lakers cap space or free agency.

    By the way, it already happened twice wherein players “intentionally” punched opposing players as a retaliation or frustration. An unknown Argentine hit Melo on the groin, and today, Batum who is supposed to be professional hit Navarro at the waning minutes. I wish they will be banned by the IOC from any sponsored international competition just like drug offenders.

  7. can anyone send me a link for the second half of the usa game?

  8. 1: well, for one thing, maybe his agent thinks he can sign for more money and still accomplish all of those goals. The average NBA career is so short: there’s no guarantee that Meeks will see that additional money via a next contract– every contract could be one’s last, unless one’s a superstar. There’s injuries, as well as always a new crop of players ready to try to knock you off the mtn. Personally, I don’t begrudge any of these guys for trying to maximize their earnings to avoid the need for a postNBA career (if a graveyard security shift is a ‘career’.) That said, I hope he does end up here, whatever the deal turns out to be– I like his game much more than Barbosa’s or KMart’s….

    Fans are very quick to dismiss a player earning an extra couple million dollars as ‘squeezing every nickle’– that kind of money absolutely can make a difference in what a player’s family’s future looks like in 20 years, even if one isn’t a stone-cold financial moron like, say, Antoine Walker. Most of these guys end up in bad shape financially, an extra 2 million (with its correlative pension contribution) is nothing to dismiss so lightly….

  9. im not watching the game but people are jumping all over Kobe, I do hope Kobe has enough in his legs for these last 2 years

  10. Kobe just went insane in the 4th Q– rumors of his death exaggerated…

  11. Kobe certainly had a good 2nd half vs. Aus. and keyed the rally that broke the game open. He ain’t done yet!

  12. @Lil Pau

    NBA players should still receive ZERO sympathy for their financial situation. Most of those guys get in bad financial situation because they are dumb and don’t know how to manage their money. Will an extra few million make a difference? Of course! Is it needed such that if they don’t get it we should empathize with them? Hell no.
    You can live a comfortable life 100k/year, and even if you make 1m/year for 10 years, you’d have made 100 years worth of income that of most people in the US. Bottom line, any words of empathy for the financial situation of dumb jocks are illogical and just goes on to show how spoiled they are. Maybe the mandatory 1-year of college was a good thing –at least they can mature and maybe learn to manage their money better.

  13. Team USA’s style of play really shows what the American game has become…everything is either a dunk or a three pointer. Other teams in the Olympics seem to have more cohesion and teamwork but the US has by far the best talent.

  14. Laker Fan,

    He said nothing about sympathy. He is simply making a very correct point. Good money management or not, most players are trying to make as much money as possible. Even if an athlete is a wiz at managing his money I’m sure he’d rather manage more than less. If more can be had within ethical and legal guidelines why would a player not go for it?

    Winning titles and legacy means more for guys like LeBron and Durant than for the average NBA journeyman. Their window to compete is short and they are out to get as much money as they can.

  15. I think the point about Meeks was that he doesn’t want to get pigeonholed with the ‘tag’ minimum veteran. The current CBA makes this a real possibility.

    The other side of this argument is…
    1) The minimum moniker may be inevitable, regardless who he signs with.
    2) The Lakers at least offer him a chance to practice behind superstars, get deep playoff experience – always a plus for followup contracts – and have the real possibility of a much bigger role after two years with the Lakers.

    These are the things Meeks has to weigh. His agent will probably go for more money now, but Meeks should be making his own decision.

    From Meeks point of view it should be a plus that the Lakers will be running a real system next year, because he will get practice with structured team dynamics. This always makes receptive players smarter, in basketball terms.

  16. I don’t get NBC Sports channel, so I can’t watch any Olympic basketball. However, I read the details of Kobe’s performance in the 3rd and 4th qtrs of the Australian game.

    Surprise, surprise…he came up big when the team needed it. So did Lebron. Some of us don’t acknowledge the stress all the NBA mileage puts on his legs, some of us don’t like him, some of us wish he weren’t selected to play on the Olympic team, but none of the regular followers of this blog – or the Lakers – should have any doubt regarding Kobe’s basketball intelligence.

    He knows his body, he knows his team, he knows how to insert himself when needed, and he knows when to coast. We may not like the coasting, but – at this point in his career – we may all have to put up with this type of play. That is, if we want him to play as long as possible. I do want to see Kobe play for as long as I can. It is beautiful to watch and all too rare.

    I watched Jerry West’s career, I watched Wilt’s career, I watched Kareem from the start of college on, I watched Magic’s career. I have been blessed to see all of Kobe’s career. I won’t take it for granted that I will see another like him in a Laker uniform in my lifetime. Enjoy it while you can and stop all the carping about what he is doing wrong.

  17. I just changed jobs and had to fight like a rabid pitbull for 5% more. And no, that didn’t pencil out to a “few million more”.

    Having said that, I’ve no problem with NBA players getting whatever they can. Or, for that matter, taking less for a shot at a ring.

    Adults are allowed to make these types of choices.

  18. Only few days more, the reign of NBC and its partners will be over. This is one of the Olympics where I have not watched a single game of basketball because I did not invest on NBC partner channels but just on basic and Fox West which are really none entity to the Olympic Basketball or Soccer. This is a prelude to TWC domain of the Lakers basketball. Nothing is free anymore, athletes are hard up with minimum million income and owners are not making money with 100 million revenue so cable need to earn a return from their 10B investment too. If they can sell cable to entertain the dead, they will. lol!

    Kobe made 20 pts today, suddenly he rose from the dead. What if they lose a game, they’ll surely be toasted alive by our spoils starting from Bob Costas penchant in hyping the victors and crucifying the losers.

  19. Kobe Rules !!

  20. It was nice to see the whole team get fired up when Kobe got it going. For a few minutes it felt like 2006 again.

  21. If you said anything about Kobe being done, how do you feel right now?

    If you’re one of many jornalists and bball fans that twitted that Kobe was done, how do you feel right now?

    C’mon, tell me…

  22. Well, too often now a game like this from Kobe is “fool’s gold” because he starts chucking and can’t keep it up.

    Can’t we just enjoy it and save all the Kobe debate for the normal 82 plus installments?

  23. No, Kobe has not played well in the Olympics, but the ESPN TrueHoop/stats crowd backhands him constantly. Abbott, Hollinger, Mason, Haberstroh and Arnovitz all obviously dislike him to varying degrees, and it shows up in how they write about him. None of them will ever admit it, but I could give examples all day.

  24. I was just watching the game and checking the twits. “kobe is done…”.

    Then the guy just pull the gun and…

    (starts at 0:20):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBCXMaRHDC8

    BANG!

  25. MagicPhil: Nice highlight. Few catch fire as fast as the Mamba. All those shots were in a great rhythm.

    I’m sure none of us are doubting Kobe’s effectiveness still as a player. But is it in the best interest for him to fit in or try and stand out.

  26. When will they ever learn. After 16 years, they should have learned by now. But they still keep on coming.

    Never ever doubt Kobe Bryant. The dude will just make you eat crow!

  27. Where is the fun when ESPN ”writers” do not bash diss reject Kobe Bean?

  28. I am tired of hearing this Kobe can’t do this thing…. Kobe doesn’t need to be dominant in the Olympics… he is the elder stateman of the team and is content in letting his younger teammates hug the spotlight.

  29. Only Pure Haters or Individuals who do not know a thing about the Science of Professional Basketball, played for several years on the Highest Level, believe that Kobe’s Olympic showing, thus-far, proves that he is Washed Up or Inferior to his Team USA Companions.

    As other posters have noted, he’s simply inclined to fall back this go-around and allow the youngins’ to take center stage. After 16 yrs in (more like 18, if one takes into account all of his post-season participation), he knows that pacing himself during these Olympics and preserving his Legs for another Championship Run has more meaning than trying to go out there and prove to the World that he’s still the best in the game (not saying that he is).

    When it’s all said and done in London (and yesterday’s game was an indicator), he’ll definitely make his presence felt. Bettz to believe that.

  30. Wow!!! Read what some of us are writing. Kobe is not dead, he’s older. He made 4 3′s in a row and now everyone says he’s still the guy he was 4 years ago. No, he’s not. He was pulled after he missed the next two because they had a lead and should have been taking the ball inside to break Australia’s spirit. It’s not hating on Kobe, it’s being real about where he now stands. The Olympics mean nothing to Kobe’s legacy, he is already a proven winner and champion.

  31. I hope yesterday wasn’t a “breakout game” for Kobe… After all he shot under fifty percent. Kobe is still a top 20 player and a good one on one scorer… The olimpics favor an up tempo and athletic style that Kobe can’t thrive in anymore. Once the season starts Iggy won’t look head and shoulders above Kobe… I assure you that.

  32. Mamba is still capable of wiggling….Kobe haters are saying: mea culpa, mea culpa and wishing he goes back to hibernation.

  33. As a Laker fan two things have bothered me about these Olympics. The first is when does Pau get a chance to rest?!?! He’s not resting now and he didn’t get a chance to rest under MB last year. The second thing that bothers me is that against lesser opponents he shared the scoring lead for the Olympic Basketball but as soon as he gets doubled, he scores 10 points under his average and looks plain ordinary. Yes 11 and 13 are good, but not for a player making over $18 million a year.

  34. http://sports.yahoo.com/news/nba–lakers–magic-in-blockbuster-four-team-trade-talks-to-send-dwight-howard-to-l-a-.html

    Gasol and Bynum for Harrington and Howard.
    I think pau for harrington is downgrading a bit. Not sure i like this one.

  35. Harrington is *terrible* according to all the advanced stats. Do not want.

  36. Lakers lose Bynum and Gasol and get Howard and Harrington (bad trade)

    Nuggets lose Harrington and Afflalo and get Iguodala (push)

    Sixers lose Iguodala and get Bynum (great trade)

    Magic lose Howard and get Gasol and Afflalo (good trade)

  37. I guess I’m not the only one who has concerns about Pau. If it’s out, it not coming true. Hopefully we would never get rid of Pau for Al Harrington, who was at best, a very good sixth man.

    Howard gets owned by Pau and Drew when he plays the Lakers because they are both too big for him, but his activity matched with another capable big would turn the tables. D12 with Pau would be better than with Drew because I have concerns that Drew can not handle active players like Javale Magee. His effort was too much for Drew and we need to address that before we enter the season.

    This trade will not happen, Orlando does not get the draft picks it wants. Plus if NJ would not take Pau, why would Orlando? Where do Hedo and JRich go? This does not make any sense plus it’s a horrific trade for the Lakers.

  38. I agree, bad trade from a talent standpoint.

    I wonder what it looks like from a cap standpoint though and if that might be interesting for LA since they lose 2 max contracts and end up with another superstar

    For the magic this makes no sense if they do in fact want to rebuild as they don’t send out any other contracts and they would have too many guards on the roster

    Denver then has no 2 guard and the sixers somehow get a killing for iguodala

    no way this trade happens

    For us this trade would mean that we hired brown because of his ”Twin Tower” offense and then completely go away from the idea of it and our size advantage to move to stretch magic offense with Jamison and Harrington (Who is coming of knee surgery)

  39. If you are the Lakers, this plan trade is not bad at all….however, this is a complete blow-up of the Lakers team that played in 2011.

    Gasol is contracted for $ 19M this season alone vs. $ 6.6 M for Harrington. Now Magic would no longer dump their garbage to the Lakers. Lakers could now pay Ebanks, Meeks or Barbosa and/or Beverley higher than the minimum.

    We lose Pau, a 7 footer in the post but gained a perimeter shooter and post defender in Dwight. That’s the nature of trade, it’s a give and take, all teams weigh the costs and benefits. It was a distinct possibility if they would not part with Pau in summer, they’ll do it after ASG because of the 19M contract.

  40. the other Stephen August 9, 2012 at 11:32 am

    what’s the point of hiring eddie jordan and implementing the princeton offense if you’re just going to give up pau? suddenly acquiring a shooter from range seems like a good idea, but it throws the frontcourt rotation into confusion just when it seemed like we had it solidified. this seems like a one step forward, one step back move.