The Laker Way

Emile Avanessian —  August 21, 2012

I stand corrected. It appears the “new Laker fandom” will bear a striking resemblance to that which preceded it.

Ever since Andrew Bynum schooled J.J. Barea on the nuances of Newtonian physics in the spring of 2011, it was apparent that the Lakers — as then constituted — required a facelift. As that spring gave way to summer, and summer to lockout, lockout to, well, more lockout, and ultimately to the most frantic NBA silly season ever, the Lakers looked to have gone full Jerry Jones, swapping championship lynchpins Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom for the best possible solution to their long running point guard dilemma, Chris Paul. Upon learning from David Stern that their health insurance policy did not cover cosmetic overhauls of this magnitude — let’s see if this analogy has legs, huh? — the Lakers were forced to pull a page from the playbook of many a courtside patron and “just get a little work done.”

No sooner had he “returned” from New Orleans than a dejected Odom was rerouted to the defending champion Mavericks, in exchange for a draft pick that reimbursed the Lakers for the legislated theft of Chris Paul — a pick that might just have materialized in time to select Little CP — and an $8.9 million handful of magic beans. Hold this thought.

Almost (if not) universally panned at the time, the saga seemed an ugly manifestation of the new Jimmy Buss era. Ascribed to a desire to jettison an emotional landmine, presumably of equal importance was the resulting cut in payroll. Between the new CBA and Short Buss/Gob/[insert pet name of your choosing], the Lakers were (yeah, I’m irrational and entitled. whatever) falling back to the NBA pack.

In the months that followed, they went back under the knife, turning Luke Walton and a first round pick into the point guard upgrade Laker Nation pined for, and then sending talismanic on-court liability Derek Fisher to Houston, in exchange for Jordan Hill. Ramon Sessions immediately cleared the shin-high hurdle of expectation (inspiring more than a few $e$$ion$ tweets along the way), averaging 12.7 points and 6.2 assists per game and posting a True Shooting Percentage of 57% (thanks to 48.6% from beyond the arc), while Hill showed flashes of becoming a badly needed frontcourt spark plug.

In the aforementioned pair of trades, the Lakers claimed no better than one draw and one defeat. There is a case to be made that the two trades did nothing more than cost the Lakers an ever-so-scarce first rounder (seriously, are we sure Mitch Kupchak didn’t once cut a shady deal with Joe Smith?) to rent a lead guard whose performance waned with time — though not so much that he opted against opting out of his contract — and a lotto-bust-turned-glue-guy that might have priced himself out of their budget with seven 6 and 6’s.

Fair enough.

That said, however, there is also a case to be made that the value of addressing your most glaring weakness — with a possible long-term solution (didn’t happen, but still) — while simultaneously inspiring goodwill among fans likely trumps the yield of a mid-20s draft pick. Hell, keeping Jordan Hill probably accomplishes that on its own.

Sure, the acquisition of this generation’s original #PointGod is a rising tide that lifts many a personnel decision, but that itself is merely a product of a longtime philosophy — one built on an ideal combination of patience and decisiveness, with zero parts fear. For more than three decades Mitch Kupchak (and Jerry West before him) and Jimmy (and for the three decades prior, Jerry) Buss have continually taken to the tightrope — if not in pursuit of improving the roster, then forcibly, at the hands of a disgruntled star (be it Magic in 1982, Shaq in 2003-04, Kobe in 2007 or Odom last winter) — and continually resisted the temptation of simple self-preservation (y’know, the type that seeks the comfort of “winning every trade” en route to building Replacement Player Voltron) in the interest of delivering true difference makers.

It is understanding, in the summer of 2004, that the differences between Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant could no longer be worked around, and trading Shaq — perhaps a year or two early — in favor of the next decade of a purported franchise killer. It is, 11 months later with the Lakers clearly in decline and the remainder of Kobe’s prime hanging in the balance, selecting high schooler Andrew Bynum (while I begged for Danny Granger). Though Bynum was a project, his is twice- (perhaps three times) in-a-decade potential. It’s unlikely that in June 2005 the Lakers’ brass knew much more than we did regarding the path Bynum’s career would take, but they understood that should he realize even (arbitrarily) 60% of his potential, his value, on the floor and as an asset, would likely exceed that of an athletic wing, even one as talented as Granger. And given Bynum’s roles in both hanging another pair of banners in the rafters and the acquisition of the greatest center since Shaquille O’Neal, clearly they were correct.

In the weeks that followed, the second-best member of the 2004-05 Lakers and a future All-Star, Caron Butler – who is also a Kobe favorite and (in possibly related news) the rare member of the first post-Shaq Laker squad not openly starstruck in Bean’s presence – was shipped to the nation’s capital, in exchange for MJ-protégé-turned-ham-handed-cake-vandal Kwame Brown. In all likelihood the downgrade was not lost on Kupchak – though it must be said that Kwame Brown, a 22 year-old big man four years removed from being a #1 overall pick, presented an interesting value proposition — though neither was the realization that building the Western Conference’s version of the Gilbert Arenas-led Wizards offered little long term value.

Meanwhile, with Bynum developing at a pace one would expect from an 18 year-old big man, Kobe, fearing the remainder of his prime would be frittered away in NBA purgatory, (inadvertently) publicly lobbied for the front office to cut ties with Bynum, in favor of Jason Kidd. Upon the front office’s refusal to oblige his request, Kobe shifted his focus and, in the summer of 2007, demanded that he himself be traded, preferably to the Chicago Bulls, preferably in exchange for a less-than-optimal package. In this, the most terrifying time to be a Laker fan since November 1991, Kupchak stayed his course, recognizing that he was under no obligation to act in haste, and refused to become footnoted as the man that traded two of the top dozen players in the game’s history.

Banking on Kobe’s dedication to his craft (and his legacy) winning out, the Lakers tipped off the 2007-08 with their frustrated superstar in tow. And then a funny thing happened…

While Kobe brooded and plotted his exit from L.A. (though he still balled), a rare underdog Laker squad, behind double-double averages from Odom and Bynum (who was lost for the season after just 35 games) and 20.8 points and 5.6 assists in 48 combined minutes per game from Derek Fisher and Jordan Farmar, unexpectedly returned to the top of the Western Conference. Winners of 19 of their first 29 and 27 of their first 40, the Lakers were rewarding Kupchak’s steadfastness in not parting company with a transcendent talent. The extent to which they were true contenders was debatable, but the greenness of the grass elsewhere could no longer be a given for Kobe.

Having not only traded a future All-Star to acquire Kwame Brown, but also having given him a three-year/$24-million contract to stick around, the Lakers looked to be a bit of a bind with their bust-y big man. That winter, as he did again this summer, Mitch turned the tables on that pair of increasingly fruitless personnel decisions. As tends to be the case with the habitually successful, good fortune smiled upon the Lakers — in the form of a stalled counterparty desperate to cut costs and salvage value for a big money star. On February 1, 2008, in one of the great redemptive trades in recent history, Kupchak parlayed Kwame (along with Marc Gasol, who unexpectedly blossomed into a top-shelf center) into one of the world’s most unique, talented and uniquely talented big men, Pau Gasol.

The rest you are probably familiar with. Having significantly upgraded the frontcourt without creating new holes elsewhere (sound familiar?), the Lakers won 27 of their final 36 in the regular season, locked up the West’s top seed and coasted through the playoffs, dropping just three games en route to the Finals.

A lackluster Finals performance and a pair of postseason disappointments gave rise (and longevity) to more undeserved criticism than any team-first top-15 talent that’s helped anchor a pair of title teams should ever have to endure. In addition, they sparked endless speculation regarding Gasol’s future with the franchise. In the face of mounting pressure and dwindling rationality, thanks in large part to Pau’s incredible maturity and professionalism, rather than selling low on an all-world talent, Kupchak held tight. (Note: yes, in December 2011 he did in fact trade Pau, but in doing so he was procuring the services of Chris freaking Paul)

Meanwhile…

Crucified at the time (yeah, I did it too) for gifting Odom, a valued contributor to the defending champions, and again at the trade deadline for seemingly foregoing the opportunity to salvage value in exchange, Kupchak again conducted a clinic in opportunism. With the Lakers sliding further down the Western Conference totem pole, in classic Laker front office fashion, he masterfully capitalized on one of the assets at his disposal. Using the flexibility afforded by the $8.9 million trade exception, Kupchak facilitated the Phoenix Suns’ transition into transition, landed one of the great point guards of this generation and one of the best shooters of all time — Steve Nash.

Meanwhile…

On a different front, trade winds continued to swirl around Andrew Bynum. Ever since the Jason Kidd chatter of years past, he had been rumored… let’s just say that any rumor not involving Gasol (and even one that did) was constructed around ‘Drew.

As he had with Kobe and Gasol, Kupchak (probably with some input from Jimmy) took a measured approach, valuing Bynum (rightfully) as elite asset and refusing to swap a super-skilled 7-foot, 285-pound, 24 year-old (how is he still so young??) for whatever shiny object du jour happened to be dangled before him. Additionally, when it seemed the Dwight Howard saga (putting it mildly) might conclude with the Lakers stranded in the cold, Kupchak held his ground, refusing to package Bynum and Gasol in exchange for Howard, as Orlando was demanding. And in the end, with a Joe Johnson trade here and Brook Lopez max-out there, the urgency Orlando had attempted to instill in the Lakers not only subsided, but reversed field.

In thinking about the recent chain of events in Lakerland, I am reminded of a decade and a half ago. A once-in-a-lifetime big man and (though we didn’t know it at the time) wing within the Lakers’ grasp, then-GM (and Kupchak’s mentor and hoops Jedi) Jerry West, having resisted the urge to trade away Vlade Divac — around whom (if memory serves) rumors had swirled (as much as they could back then) — the season prior, parted ways with his starting center only when payoff was the payroll flexibility required to secure a transcendent big man like Shaquille O’Neal… and an 18 year-old Kobe Bryant.

Hate the Lakers for past success. Hate them for their inexhaustible resources. Hate them for residing in a top-tier market with perfect weather. Understand, however, that more than any of these, what’s set them apart is the ability to maintain composure when the stakes are highest. West understood in ’96 what Mitch Kupchak has since mastered. The skill lies not in knowing precisely who will come available and when, but in the knowledge that someone will hit the market, and that the flexibility to deal and willingness to pounce without fear are the ultimate difference makers.

Emile Avanessian

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47 responses to The Laker Way

  1. the other Stephen August 21, 2012 at 10:33 am

    robinred, you’ve been rr all this time? :O
    i thought you were two different people. i always appreciated your insight, but thought you’d stopped posting.

  2. Excellent article. My favorite part: the Arrested Development reference.

  3. emile: you’re so right on so many fronts. whatever lala wants, lala gets. well almost. seems eons ago david stern got his lala way as “owner” of the horn ettes. a little hitch to his giddy up. working wonders over at clipper land (can’t believe i just made that reference). can be humble when i need be.

    the undeniable, bottom line is the influence and midas touch of Dr. Jerry Buss to which all laker fans everywhere must attest. For over 30 years, laker fandom as we know it has florished because of that Man.

    Go Lakers !

  4. @ david h–It does seem long ago that Stern ummm well “sterned” us doesn’t it–I think he did us a favor–except for the money saved on the veto deal.

  5. Best line: “MJ-protégé-turned-ham-handed-cake-vandal Kwame Brown”

  6. Emile,
    It is interesting how we just can’t remember all the conversation going on when these previous trades were happening.

    For example, with the Caron Butler trade we gave up a very good player for, essentially, a big, defensive presence. What we all – except for Mitch – forget is that Caron essentially duplicated Kobe’s skills, Lamar was supposed to be a SF at that time, and was due for a big raise the following summer that Lakers had no intention of paying.

    It isn’t magic that gets these deals done, but patience, failure to panic in the moment, and being able to make a sure-handed decision.

  7. Dwight article on being undervalued…

    First of all, I am glad to relocate many of my former “compadres” of the now defunct LA-Times free-form commenting system. Possibly one of the best intellectual discussion templates for basketball and Laker fans, to go along with the great prospectus of the funny individuals.

    Okay, in light of the fact that this is now a very lengthy discussion and I’ve missed a lot of the great points, I will address some of them.

    There is still talk that Dwight Howard as an upgrade esp. in terms of the “loose ball situations” and discord over the fact that the upgrade is not as substantial or a great advantage over Andrew Bynum, and as some have addressed, like Matt, the difference in the way Dwight not only plays but enjoys the game (while filling the stat-sheets in a constant basis) is what separates him over Andrew Bynum in the end.

    But more so, it is Dwight’s ability to break his defender off from outside of the restricted area (under the rim or close around 5 ft) that makes him an elite offensive score, because there is no other way to vet him as anything else since even when he’s injured he is able to score in the 20’s and grab 15+ rebounds without breaking that much of a sweat (unlike Shaq and Bynum who are mostly either one on one force-offensive players) Dwight has a Tim Duncan-esque pick and roll style and still contributes like a Shaq-Bynum style as a player when he needs to, he doesnt limit himself to visibly working hard off a simple-back -to-basket situation (which although might seem “great” esp when at a 60% rate, still however ends in a dunk may fool many Andrew observers when Dwight simply does two dekes and gets to the rim=same result) (which often times proved to stag the offense because the ball handler from the weakside in the wing or block had to conform to Andrew’s rather inability to “create” off the dribble because he didnt have the “better than advertised post-moves/foot work”- if he did, he would already be as potent offensively).

    Next, other things that are mentioned by most is that Dwight has better IQ and better motor, so I wont get into that. Bynum as an impact player…. the vast majority of his impact happened offensively and off rebounds due to his size, it wasn’t his motor or will, it was his length under neath the basket that made him a high rebound-low impact player because he simply didnt take pride in accepting a “big man’s” role.

  8. The one thing that Dwight does better than Andrew and every other center in the league (when they are either very good defensive paint “impact players” or very athletic-low post-move players) is that he actually delivers results, and has an unmatched competitive spirit and work ethic to go along with him.

    Yes the Jim Buss-era Lakers (with respect to Jerry’s already GREAT legacy as a sports-franchise owner) and Mitch’s business savvy and ability to play “musical chair” poker is incredible, but it goes without saying.

    I specifically want to address a very important nugget of information that relates to concerns involving Kobe as a “willful” deflector of the offense when the author interjects with this quote citing trading an underdeveloped but highly-sought after commodity in the NBA big-man, for a then-solid top 3 point guard and still around his prime in Jason Kidd.

    “On a different front, trade winds continued to swirl around Andrew Bynum. Ever since the Jason Kidd chatter of years past, he had been rumored…”

    Interestingly enough, Nash is just that type of point guard that Kobe would have shipped Bynum for, and respected enough to have as a co-ball handler, who he would have deferred to successfully (at least going by Kobe’s willingness to trade Bynum, which was his teammate, you can assume he wouldn’t have had that much of a problem adjusting to in the backcourt).

    In fact, you can also surmise that Kobe so-likened himself and his legacy to the GOAT, Jordan, himself that even when most Laker fans and observers assume, Kobe wouldn’t EVER and NEVER has been a willing to defer (mostly because he simply didn’t share the backcourt with what he would consider GREAT players-sorry Fish), he would have. And not only that, it says a lot that even as a youngster who hadn’t shared the court with the likes of a guy like Pau-who can do almost everything very well in the middle of the offense, Kobe didn’t have to RUN an offense through a big guy, instead it also says Kobe along with another GREAT player can do things that Shaq and Kobe would already do very well.

    So In saying this, I am saying Kobe’s legacy has always been of that guy that “wouldnt work well if he had to give the ball” when in reality, he’s adjusted very well without one all these years, and has been longing for one since the Shaq debacle, because he prefers to show his skills as a creator-and backcourt-threat with a wing-man like Jordan.

    So with the acquisitions that Mitch executed, I have no problem already saying that there is history within Kobe’s mind that answers the question that it is at least very probable that he will work very well with Nash and that the adjustments won’t take long enough.

  9. I had trouble following the longest post ever…

  10. @azzemoto

    So did I, but am trying very hard to keep my focus. Actually the post when broken down could be like 2 chapters in a book about the Lakers to be honest with you.

    “Understand, however, that more than any of these, what’s set them apart is the ability to maintain composure when the stakes are highest. ”

    This pretty much sums the histrionics of the article… but that’s because basketball is a way of life for the Lakers, the family tradition is handled with care and not tossed around or treated like a side-business why they have had so much success.

  11. What a great post! Thanks Emile.

    I enjoyed every word.

  12. @10 had no issue’s following your post, or the Writeup, great right up, props to the writer.
    I can see more then one player going for 30pt game this year; should be fun to see everything come together.

  13. Laker history is an amazing journey to review and a pleasant one at that. I am hoping that the past 2 seasons will have been an abbreviated version of the 90’s (albeit – not as bad). We are now moving into the next era. We now have the best team, we have our post-KB superstar, and we are the envy of the league – again. It was destiny.
    PS: By “post-KB”, I mean 4 years from now. I am still thinking it is a 20 year career for Kobes

  14. Great post. I needed to take adderall before reading but well worth it.

  15. I thought this was a fantastic post by Emile. The Lakers have shown the value of having a plan and showing patience in executing it. Also shown the stones to gamble & make moves that fans might not agree with but seem to work out more often than not.

    As for the critiques on the writing, save it. Especially based off some of the comments I’ve seen from some of those who seem to take issue.

  16. Is it within the context of an article discussing the Lakers’ composure discussing trades and patience to query whether or not we are now witnessing the same poker-face as Mitch looks to deal Gasol for some expiring contracts and young forwards ? Or was there already a post that discussed the necessity of avoiding the 86 mill – luxury hit in 22 months ?

  17. I enjoyed the post very much Emile, it was informative in Laker history.

  18. With this series of rapid and dramatic changes, the roster may not have entirely kept up. The new challenge is to maintain competitive advantage and minimize the playing time of the starting 5 through substitution patterns. Team health and readiness for the playoffs are at stake. We might even imagine starters taking a game off from time to time (a la San Antonio).

    IMO, there is mostly good news. Dwight is supported by Pau and Jordan at C. Pau is supported by Antwan and Jordan at PF. MWP is supported by Ebanks and Kobe at SF. Kobe is supported by Meeks and Ebanks at SG.
    The players still have Earl Clark and maybe emergency backup center Sacre in reserve.

    The bad news may be at PG–even though the Lakers currently have 6. There is no one currently that can substitute for Steve Nash without risking a serious dropoff in team momentum and performance.

    The rookies are, well, too rookie. Due to lack of training camp last season, the second year guys are still too much like rookies. Nash is a bit too triangle, and Duhon may have too many ghosts from recent years to vanquish.

    I think that the Lakers still need an effective backup to Steve Nash, but I hope training camp proves me wrong.

    Just in case, I have one almost perfect Steve Nash backup in mind that might magically become available–and I’ll keep watching!

  19. Great post. Crazy all these moves were made in a decade. Many fans only get one franchise changing move in a lifetime.

    Chris Paul had thumb surgery on his dominant hand. Best believe that’ll affect dribbling and shooting. When Paul calls Kobe to ask how he dealt with finger injuries do you think Kobe will give him advice or just a dialtone.

    Jim Buss said on 710 they grew tired of Orlando’s antics and gave them a ultimatum for a Howard deal and Martins caved. Lakers are some bullies. lol

  20. Mike K,
    In 22 months (aka the summer of 2014), the Lakers currently have one player under contract: Steve Nash. Of course they also hope to have Dwight Howard under contract, but after him it’s all speculation about what the Lakers’ payroll will be as we’ve no clue what Kobe will decide to do or how the team will feel about Gasol.

    Also, the 80+ million dollar tax bill is floated in the media but that’s an estimate based off the Lakers’ payroll keeping in line with what it is today. To think the Lakers will continue to pay out the salaries they do now is a bit crazy. First of all because that would mean they’d willingly be going into the tax again and subject themselves to the repeater penalties. Secondly, the only way the Lakers can have a payroll that high is by paying the players they currently have on their roster those high salaries. Remember, the Lakers will be under the cap that summer. To get back to a payroll at tax levels they’ll need to pay players who they have Birds Rights for. You know, Kobe, Pau, Ron, and Blake. Just something to consider when thinking about the repeater tax year.

  21. Doubt the Lakers are going to resign any of the players at their current figures, especially Blake and Ron, but Pau and even Kobe.

    What’s curious is what the players will decide to do. We have Nash, and now Ibaka who have chosen to sign for much less than market price. Will the same thing apply to Kobe and Pau? How much will they have left by then? How obliged will the front office and Kobe feel about playing his entire career out as a Laker? What if Kobe thinks he has some basketball left while the Lakers don’t?

    And, off topic, what are the chances of Pau’s jersey being retired? He’ll likely be a HOFer based on his international play, and he was instrumental in bringing two championships in three finals appearances…

  22. Great job Emile! Entertaining and stylish writing. Nice to read someone who can hear the music and isn’t afraid to hit some notes.

  23. Darius: Thanks for the response ! I think my question was muddled. I was actually asking about the tax penalty the Lakers are scheduled to owe at the end of the 2013-2014 season. From checking out the guaranteed salaries on Hoopshype, I can see that the Lakers will be at approximately 105 million or so, even without any new signings. Therefore, they would owe about 86 million that summer (simply a calculation of the tax on 33-35 million, with multipliers as the penalty increases), without regard to the repeater status (not sure when that kicks in). My guess is that LAL won’t pay 86 million, and that would mean they have to either deal Pau now, for a combination of expiring contracts and useful forwards (e.g. Udrih-Dalembert-Mbah a Moute-Tobias Harris), which would allow them to shed about 15 million of Pau’s salary in a year, and lower them to about 15 million over the tax (after amnesty on Blake or MWP). Because the over 15 million category is $3.25 per dollar, they’d be saving 66 million by amnestying Gasol or trading him for 75% expiring contracts (and amnestying the smaller player). Don’t they have to be angling towards one of these two options ?

  24. No trouble following the post…. but the responses, I have…

    To sum it all… I love to be a lakers fan…

    Go lakers!!!

    Go Kobe!!!

  25. Excellent post. I guess some of the readers are Laker fans but should change the name to L-add-Kers. Focus people. No wonder some of you think AB played defense and played hard.

    Looking to 2014 it seems clear Metta will be gone and no doubt Pau. Also think the 3 year Nash deal is a 2 year and buy-out. Re-work of Kobe down to $20 and some back end Magic kind of deal and they should be ok by the time the tax goes crazy. Starting to see the tells on Mitch and Jimmy as I play some poker myself.

    This is the all the marbles year. Highest payroll, best 10 players and win at all costs for Kobe and
    for the catch Red and the Celts.

    I can hardly wait.

  26. Darius –

    I’m not quite sure what your point was with your last response. And I ask because I am curious, it sounds like something interesting that I should know. Thanks in advance for clarifying.

  27. Zach Lowe at SI.com linked to Darius’ post about Howard’s offense.

  28. Mike K,
    Thanks for clarifying…I did misunderstand your point. You are correct, the Lakers are looking at a hefty tax bill in the season after next. And, your estimates are right on the money — Larry Coon estimates the Lakers’ tax bill will be right around $85 million. And, as if that wasn’t enough, the Lakers may also pay (reportedly) close to $50 million in revenue sharing.

    At this point, though, it’s difficult to say if the Lakers will really try to do anything about that *this* season. For one, I think they want to try and win now and that means keeping Gasol. Second, next season is the first year of the Lakers new TV deal. Some reports have that deal valued at $5 billion over 20 years (I’ve also read reports it’s $3 billion over that same period). That means the new deal could be worth $200 million a season. That would be enough to cover all of LA’s payroll + some of their revenue sharing before even touching what comes from the gate.

    Now, no one will know for sure how much money is really coming in (we don’t see the Lakers’ books), but the Buss family has often been willing to put revenue back into the team in order to compete. If it’s only one year of heavy tax payments, they may be willing to take the hit, especially if they’re unlikely to pay the tax the following season (which I’d imagine is their strategy in order to avoid the repeater penalty).

  29. #27. If you mean my comment about players’ Bird Rights, I’ll clarify:

    When Kobe, Pau, Ron, and Blake’s contracts expire the Lakers will fall below the salary cap threshold, even with Nash (and Howard, if he stays) on the books. Once below the cap, the CBA has rules that make it difficult to get back above the cap. In fact, there are only a couple of ways. One is to use all your cap space on free agents and then use a cap exception called the “room exception” which allows a team to offer a contract in value that mirrors the mini-mid level exception in order to go slightly above the cap. The second is to re-sign *your own* free agents using their Bird Rights (which allow you to exceed the cap because you’re retaining your own guys).

    So, my point is that since the room exception won’t get a team up to the luxury tax level, the only way the Lakers could actually reach the tax line is by re-signing their own FA’s using their Bird Rights AND by offering them large contracts in order to actually get to the tax line. That would mean paying Kobe close to the money that he makes now and doing the same for Gasol. Plus, they’d need to do the same for Ron and Blake and/or any other FA they have Bird Rights to. I simply don’t see them doing this in any scenario. The tax hit on the repeater penalties are much too harsh.

  30. This was a good post, but we should remember that Nash wanted to be near his kids, and the Lakers needed a PG and were located here, and that Howard wanted to go to Brooklyn originally, but the Lakers were on his list. So circumstance helped here, along with smarts–as in any successful endeavor. The Lakers are not “just lucky” (the Simmons version, for the most part although he gives credit at times) but Kupchak is not some supergenius. I do think that Kupchak’s laconic, no-waves persona helps the Lakers and helps him to make these deals. Also, the Lakers brand helps, and that was a brand they built.

    I was in the group of people that criticized the Odom dump but also said to wait until we saw what they did with the TPE.

    As to the $, Larry Coon suggested that the 2014 expenses could be up to $240M, including payroll, luxury tax, and revenue sharing. But then everybody except Nash (and, we hope, Howard) is off the books after 2014. I suspect that either Blake or Metaa my get amnestied after the season to save a little $.

    But for now, it is all hands on deck.

  31. This is by far the best Laker blog that I know. Real informative from the writers to the commenters.

    But my GOD if you say one negative thing about the writing you are told to “save it” and then you are ridiculed with this comment “Especially based off some of the comments I’ve seen from some of those who seem to take issue”.

    CHILL Bro, I just thought it was rather long, like two chapters in WAR & PEACE. But yes it was a good informative article.

  32. As for future payroll costs

    – we will not amnesty Ron – he is the only real SF we have on the roster and if he is back in his old form adequately paid. He does a lot more for us than I think most realize.

    – I agree that I think we have this year with this nucleus and then they will have to do something with Pau (edited for trade speculation)

    – Kobe will not be resigned for 20 million, max will be around 15 million or less as no one else can offer more and by then we will see a bunch of teams will essentially no money to spend on FAs and players will lose a ton of leverage

    If Pau is kept after the supertax year expect around a 10 mill resigning or less.

    – This is a really really bad CBA for the players as we have already seen (OJ mayo 4 Million, Aaron Brooks 3 million, Randy Foye 4 Million, Matt Barnes, Michael Pietrus, Kenyon Martin all unsigned) and it will only get worse showing how the NBA is reflecting the overall US economy with Billionaires(owners/Romney/Walker) pushing out the middle class (mid-level players).

    – Expect to see another lock-out which I expect will cancel out a season of the NBA during their next negotiations. Overall the league will be paying out less money than in the past with growing revenue and profits going directly to the owners instead of it being a partnership which the league actually is. Hopefully by then Billy (in Sterns pocket) Hunter will not be representing the players.

    – Overall I think that ownership is going all in as they needed to keep top billing in LA with the clippers coming up and to show the fans that they are trying their best to stay competitive. After the supertax year when the contract come off the books we will not be able to build the team in the way that we have seen ever again as all teams will be forced to build their teams through the draft a la OKC model.

    After that the Buss’s will have one of the most profitable businesses out there considering its a family business and what bugs me the most is that this CBA will help Miami become a super dominant team for the next decade as their core was signed in their prime before it was agreed upon – part of me wonders if this was part of the plan to make Lebron the next MJ as they have been trying to push this down our throats for a few years but now he will have the hardware to back it up.

  33. Good synopsis of the Lakers in the 21st Century, I hope Emile you could provide additional writing of the Laker legends, Chick Hearn and Dr. Jerry Buss plus the contribution of dynamic coaches such as Sharman, Riley and Jackson. (wish, I could add Mbrown too with his great acquisitions today) These are the people who drove Laker fans frenzy that extended to this day. The symbiotic relationship of the Laker fans(demonium) and the Lakers phenomena is like the story of the chicken and the egg. You don’t know which came first tho’ they kept on feeding each others’ existence for decades now.

    I predict in the next chapter after Kobe Bryant, Durantula will become a Laker when his contract expires with OKC by 2016. Also, the leprechauns will be out of contention for the next decades too. hoho, that hurts!

    Point Forward, Dice8up and many more who have changed their id’s from old hangout – Welcome to the moderation zone where a Mike T or the Ouch’s tricks will not survive in this site. Thanks to Darius and writers in making this blog a very appealing place for Lakers fans to converse their do’s and dont’s insights without swearing nor taking a gallon of kool aid or on extreme cases drag their families in blogging. lol! For me, it will be a recess time while we’re on travel. Will be back by preseason. Get well Dwight.

  34. #32. Thanks for the kind words about the site. But, if commenters take shots at the writers — writers who put in a ton of time in order to produce great content for essentially no compensation — I will back them up every time. It’s one thing to disagree with the points in a post, it’s another to come on a site anonymously and then type a complaint and then leave.

    People can do that with me all they want. I run this site. But, if you come after the other writers, expect to hear from me in the comments.

  35. Just want to add thoughts on Lakers payroll and taxes. Yes, Lakers investment hit 100M+ on payroll alone and possibly another 85M in taxes by ’13. Do you the know the revenue that they will be generated if they go to Finals or even the Championship? IMO, they could recouped their investment based on domestic revenue alone. However, nobody says anything about the World Market. Lakers brand is multinational that dwarfs the heat or the thunder. I saw a lot of Libyan rebels wearing Lakers t-shirts, I saw poor people in Darfur who have no TV’s wearing Lakers t-shirts, it goes on and on where Lakers go to every corner of world populace. Only Jim & Mitch’s know that secret, well Time Warner got their figures so they could revise the contract up to 5B for 25 years:

    http://www.slamonline.com/online/nba/2011/11/report-lakers%E2%80%99-new-tv-deal-could-be-worth-up-to-5-billion/

    Therefore, for every incremental added that improves the product, there is an unimaginable quantum leap on rate of return. I think our blog passion has a lot of contributions too in stirring the pot without getting paid by the Lakers and Time Warner.

  36. @7 PointFoward,

    Welcome “meu compadre”.

    Yes, it’s amazing how people can even think Kobe will ballhog (using a shorter expression) having Nash alongside with him. It’s pretty clear to me that Kobe respects Nash at a high level. It’s also clear to me that Kobe already play the “passer” role, but there was nobody to actually pass down low, as our center was still dragging his legs across the hardwood.

    The expectations are all for the 1st game, when we’ll put all those pieces together and enchant the world.

    Until there, hang on.

    Cheers.

  37. As for the payroll thing…

    We’re good for the 2013 season. In the 2014 season, this one will be tough on the Buss’s wallet but it will be only 1 year. They’ll pay what’s due for them to pay.

    Now, on the 2014 summer, we’ll have Dwight (yes, I’m confident), Nash at 41 (maybe a bench role or a trade to Toronto) and all the cap space in the world. I predict that players will form lines to play for the Lakers and DH.

    Touche!

  38. rr: I agree Metta is a perfect future amnesty candidate espicially if Ebanks takes a huge step forward this year.

    As it stands in 2 years Lakers will have a 41 yr old Nash and a 28 yr old maxed out Howard. The prospect of playing with a center in his prime is worth considering for every FA in 2014. And their are some good ones.

  39. MagicPhil: I guess great minds think alike.

    Mentioned the other day about Brown coming out explaining the offense next season. This quote answers our offensive questions. Nash is making the decisions like true PG’s should. http://espn.go.com/blog/los-angeles/lakers/post/_/id/32589/q-and-alakers-head-coach-mike-brown

    “The way that we’ll put it together, Steve’s going to have an opportunity — he’s going to quarterback the team — and so he’s going to have an opportunity to come down the floor every possession and in early offense play pick-and-roll if he wants to. It’s up to him, based on where he decides to take the ball or a call that he makes or an action that he does, it’s up to him to get us into some of the looks of the Princeton offense.”

  40. Darius – Thanks for being such a responsive host/writer. Very unusual and makes this website different in a positive way.

  41. I don’t have much confidence in Mike Brown as the head coach, but I do have confidence in Nash and Kobe as the assistant coaches.

  42. We are certainly not a very forgiving fanbase – and I don’t mean that in a good way.

    We were really down on Mitch – until he got Gasol, and that was only temporary – that’s a lot of years.

    We were in the sewer with Jim Buss – until this summer.

    We really hate Mike Brown…

    Do we really think our opinions really move management that much? Controversy and opinion are fine, but looking at Mike Brown as a reincarnation of Randy Pfund is simply not giving him any credit for his past success.

  43. Do we really think our opinions really move management that much?

    ___________

    No one that I have seen, other than you, has ever talked about this. People here are smart enough to know that even if Buss and Kupchak have heard of this blog and have read it occasionally, they are not going to make personnel decisions based on what fans think.

    This is a fansite; most fans complain and give opinons. That seems to bother you a lot WRT the Lakers, since you seem to take it as a personal affront when people criticize the FO.

    Kupchak has had trouble with small moves in many cases. He has gotten the big things right, has done a great job of leveraging the Laker brand and market, and he had a superb off-season. Those facts, however, do not mean that Steve Blake’s or Luke Walton’s or Jason Kapono’s deals were good ideas.

    As to Brown, he seems to impress no one other than Jim Buss, and has been criticized widely for lack of offensive creativity; these are not things Lakers fans are inventing. OTOH, as Robert, you, I and many others have noted, Brown’s results, both in Cleveland and last year, have been pretty good in relation to the talent. So, as with Jim Buss prior to this off-season, I think it is fair to look at Brown as a wait-and-see proposition.

  44. Craig W.: We are not forgiving at all. We (specifically FBG) may not move management – although I think we might : ) What is for sure is that the collective fanbase does move management. We are the Lakers, there are expectations, and management wants to meet those expectations – hence our (collective) whining and complaining does play a role. Besides – it is fun : )

  45. rr: Well stated.
    With regard to Jim Buss vs Mike Brown: I was one of the hardest on Jim Buss. The reason was that he had not yet done anything and he got his job directly because of his father. So he needed to prove it to me. He now has – hence I kissed the ring.
    Moving to Brown. He was a legitimate pick for the job. Personally I wanted Shaw, but that is not MB ‘s fault. I was not hard on MB last year, because it was a lack of talent. This year is different. When you are a coach and you have talent – you must produce.
    And if he does not produce – you are correct – I will be unforgiving : ) I am afterall a spoiled, entitled Laker fan. At least I admit it : )

  46. If you aren’t being hard on Jim Buss because you dont have high expectations of him or dont care, it’s up to you.

    I dont think or am inclined to believe that Laker fans no matter how long they’ve been, don’t expect excellence.

    the Mike Brown hiring was very questionable and he had an obstinate approach. There were many quality and tenured guys available with undeniably BETTER resumes and lengthier careers, but I think the selling point with Brown was really his energetic approach to the game. The man while tends to give in to his players, has a different way of doing things, but it’s not it hasnt worked before.

    Now, he didnt even have the luxury of a preseason and enough practice with his players to cut the fat and get it right his first year with a roster and skeletonic bench; it was a hard feat for Phil previously and it was going to be a hard year for Mike Brown as well. I also think that the chemistry with the coach also took an even bigger hit as a result of it, it takes longer to mesh and mix with your guys and to adapt to them and them to you…

    As far as labeling Laker fans as unforgiving I wouldnt go that far, I would say we have high standards for the team even when we gloss over some guys who get more credit than they deserve, like during the offseason and whatnot. But I think we are getting better at not glossing over some of that stuff.. tension is sometimes good because it’s better to work through them to use perspective like we are right now, than to look the other way and ignore history.

  47. the Laker way,,,,,i hope this current batch will deliver the the championship this season… as it will cement another legacy of Kobe…that he can win with anybody pairs with him…Kobe/Shaq, Kobe/Pau/Lamar & hopefully Kobe/Pau/Dwight/Nash…