Preseason Preview & Chat: The Utah Jazz

Darius Soriano —  October 13, 2012

The Lakers preseason tour returns home tonight as the Jazz visit the Staples Center. Maybe the team will find things more comfortable after sleeping in their own beds and find a way to end their first W of the preseason. Or, maybe not.

The Lakers will again be without Dwight Howard. Kobe Bryant should play — his sore shoulder was nothing serious — and will likely see a ramping up of his minutes from last Sunday’s opener. The same is true for Gasol, Nash, and Metta as all will play and all will likely be in the 25-30 minute range.

As for the role players, expect some changes from the last game in that Brown will likely start to shift around the minutes to get looks at different guys. Against the Blazers, several players saw little or no playing time, and they’ll likely be guys that get looks tonight where others might see less.

That starts with Darius Morris who will likely see an uptick in minutes behind Steve Nash and ahead of Steve Blake and Chris Duhon. The latter two veterans have been okay this preseason but the team also knows what they have in  those two. Morris, however, is looking to continue to show he can do more and the preseason is a chance for him to show coaches that he’s worth investing minutes in. He’ll need to show he can defend and hit some of the open shots afforded him on offense. He’ll also need to not over-dribble and organize the Lakers sets (Brown said before L.A.’s first preseason game against the Warriors that all the PG’s would be given the same “quarterbacking” responsibility that Nash has).

After Morris, the next guy I’m looking at is Chris Douglas-Roberts. He’s showing more and more that the skills that made him an NBA draft pick and rotation player three years ago are still present. Every game he’s showing that he belongs in this league and if it’s not with the Lakers it will be with some other team. Where he fits in on a crowded wing of players at the bottom of the roster remains to be seen, but, again, his offensive skills impress and his willingness to defend has been better than what I remember of him before his one season stint in Europe last year.

As for the Lakers’ opponent, the Jazz are still a very nice team that looks to make more noise this year. Last season they rode a nice mix of veterans and youngsters to the 8th seed in the playoffs and, after some solid off-season moves, they think they can build on that. The Jazz traded for Mo Williams (from the Clippers as part of the Odom trade) and also sent Devin Harris to the Hawks for Marvin Williams. By also adding Randy Foye, the Jazz added three contributors to their wing that can compliment their stable of big men.

It’s those bigs that remain the strength of this Utah team. In Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors, and Enes Kanter the Jazz possess four very good bigs that can all help the team in a variety of ways. They offer versatility in skill and position and will be a load for even the best front courts to handle (and that includes the Lakers — especially tonight with Howard and Hill both not playing).

On the wing the Jazz offer not on the three aforementioned additions, but have two relatively young players worth paying attention to. First is Gordon Heyward, a nice SF/SG that has an all-court game, shows desire on D, and can create for himself or his teammates. Second is Alec Burks, a player entering his 2nd season and has already flashed nice ability as a shooter and slasher that also plays good defense. If either or both of these players take another step forward this season, the Jazz will be an improved team and that’s before you account for Mo Williams’ shooting upgrading their spacing or the further development of Favors and Kanter.

In terms of tonight, look for more tweaking from the Lakers’ end especially in the form of rotations and which young players get extended looks. Also look to see if the offense looks any cleaner and if the D can remain disciplined (Mike Brown’s mentioned his D gambling too much after both preseason games). The word out of Lakers’ camp is that the losses don’t concern them and I both believe that to be true and think the same way. However, it would be nice to start to play better and even get a win and that starts with better play in the 2nd half. Let’s see if we get it tonight.

Darius Soriano

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79 responses to Preseason Preview & Chat: The Utah Jazz

  1. I’ll be watching to see if Pau looks sharper. Last game, he fumbled a few easy passes, missed jumpers he normally makes, and looked slow on hedges. I hope it was just one bad game and not the beginning of a trend for this season.

  2. If Phil Jackson was still coaching, winning a preseason game would be a bad sign. Just sayin.

  3. Anyone want to go tonight? Just got a call– my seatmate can’t go and is looking to unload his ticket for a mere 20 bucks. Sec 205, row 2. First one who emails me at kb9kb9kb9@aol.com gets the seat. I’ll text back and can leave the ticket at willcall in your name. Nash’s debut at staples!

  4. I’d like to see key reserves fighting for PT get 20 mins. By the looks of things they need the time on the court more than the starters.

  5. Darius Morris will be playing the back up PG spot tonight.

    No Steve Blake.

  6. Very unimpressed with Morris. No outside shot and no defense. Subs bad again.

  7. Morris not a NBA player.

  8. @Ken

    Yeah, me too. I’d rather have Blake as the back up.

    >.<

  9. I will be sitting Behind Laker bench with some NBA business partners Tuesday and will make myself heard by Brown.

  10. Morris gets cut. Sacre makes the team as Mbenga 0.5.

  11. Man, I like Sacre. Strong, active, pretty big. Just the sort of guy that would be well served getting some nice juicy lanes to the rim presented to him by Nash.

  12. Sacre could be one if the better late 2nd round drafts in a long time.

  13. Sorry but Nash is not looking good. Missed every shot. Hope just off night.

  14. Not watching the game. Who’s looking good? and who’s not?

  15. @14

    Everybody sucks except for RonRon.

  16. Getting tired of excuses. This team is missing one guy, Howard and they are once again looking poor. Brown must be screwing them up at halftime. Another bad team and they get killed in 2nd half.

  17. I think we have more turnovers than points in the 3rd. And yes, it’s the starters.

  18. Avidon: even Kobe? just checked box score 14 ft’s means he’s real aggressive.

    Good shot distribution, 5 TO’s for Pau, 4-7 from 3 for Ron and Jamison.

    Haven’t missed lakers games in a while really hope this tv deal gets distributed.

  19. Kevin,

    Kobe has checked out at halftime.. stopped attacking inside and playing D. He looked good in the first half.

  20. Morris is just terrible. As are all these scrubs. Brown really knows how to Build young players. Just a matter of time with this un-coach.

  21. 3 words: Bring Phil back!

  22. Caught only the last 3 mins and the box score. DJO had a nice aggressive move, Ebanks’ line looks decent; generally looks like (and per above comments _sounds_ like) none of the prospective subs among the 1s /2s / 3s is showing much. Bodes poorly. Even douglas-roberts? The sorta-heralded MEeks?

  23. Clippers bench is 10x better than the Lakers. If Jamison isn’t Jamison Lakers will be another low scoring team.

  24. Interesting how all 3 teams scrubs are SO much better then Lakers. Bad scouting or zero coaching?

    Last year all I heard was short pre-season hence confused offense. Now Brown is already using that as an excuse.

    Oh by the way 2 of the first 3 teams played have NEW coaches with NEW offenses.

  25. Agree with Kevin – other teams including these jazz got a lot deeper.

    Pietrus, Barbosa, and martin are still out there….

  26. 21,

    Lakers can afford to lose more with more preseasons to go. That will be a record to be a laughing stock in the league, Nobody cares in the coaching staff because they’re meaningless games but it could form bad habits.

  27. i thought everything looked as it should. they worked on things that they want to do in the season. many of those things are new and need to be tried at game speed for the first time so they don’t work yet. the staff needs to see who does what they are supposed to and who doesn’t. cuts are coming. this is what preseason is all about. tonight’s game wasn’t a competition, no matter how happy Utah and it’s fans are with the win.

    jeez, listening to ole Bill go on and on about third quater collapses, is this the middle of the season?

    i think the starters are ready, they’re just warming up. they know what they need to do. the bench is unsettled. everyone wants to prove themselves, to show something. this doesn’t lead to selfless execution. generally, they’ve done ok. we are starting to see who has a chance to play this year, who has a chance at a roster spot, and who is getting cut soon. that is all that is accomplished in these games.

    do you really think that the Lakers could not beat Utah tonight? that Utah spanked them?

    you have no control over any of this, except fot the good vibes you send the team, the cheers you give if you see a game and the money you spend to pay salaries. there’s no point in worrying before something bad happens. there are problems every season. let’s hope that the problems are minimized.

  28. The abysmal 2nd half performances are a bit concerning, however, please remember that 3 out of our top 8 are out. Also remember that older teams tend to underperform in the pre-season, for obvious reasons. That said, MB’s free ride only has a couple more weeks left on it : )

  29. Pau: I was at the game. Pau has just looked out of it. I’ve has three shots blocked. I hope it’s his legs are dead from training camp and that he just isn’t that good anymore as evidence by the 40 percent shooter we saw in the playoffs last year. I’m sure he will be fine.

    Morris: He didn’t look to have enough NBA coordination. He is just as bad as Blake.

    Odom: This is the NBA player on the bench. This guy moves differently out there. I opwouldnt be suprised to see this guy make the team and get that back up PG spot.

  30. What happened to Morris, Aaron? Last year he was the solution, and now you’re throwing him under the bus? And I happen to agree with you. Morris has made a number of bad decisions, playing outside himself. DJO looks a little bit more comfortable out there, does what’s asked of him. He needs more run.

  31. mud: Come on : ) Our comments and actions definitely impact the Lakers. I take personal credit for forcing Mitch/Jim to get Dwight : ) I agree with your good vibes comments. I have a small 12″ TV that I watch many closing stretches on, because it has an incredible record. Whether I use it, definitely impacts the Laker’s chances : )

    Bench: We are not going to have a great one, but we will not need it. It is not going to be as bad as currently seems. When your bench is mediocre, a few guys out makes all the difference in the world.

  32. Didn’t see the game. But from what people are saying about Morris, it sounds like he hasn’t grown mentally from last year. The deficiencies in his game last year weren’t physical at all. He just didn’t seem to understand when to probe, when to move the ball, or really grasp the flow of the game or offense. Maybe apprenticing under Nash will fast-track that development, but I’m not holding out major hope.

    I also wasn’t huge on the Meeks signing, but a large part of that is ignorance; I didn’t remember much of Meeks’ game. I was a bit surprised as how a league-average career 3P shooter was treated as a bench savior, but I hope i can see why one the season begins. With that said, I’m in favor of signing CDR as Meeks insurance. Contracts in the early part of the regular season don’t have to be guaranteed, right? If so, try CDR out.

    I was also pretty ‘meh’ on the Jamison signing. The bench guy I was very high on coming into this year was Jordan Hill. I just think he’s the perfect 3rd big complement. I’m glad he was trying out his new J in preseason and testing his limits, but I really hope he doesn’t get away from what made him so effective last year.

    A long way of saying I’m not nearly as sold on this bench as most seem to be. The prevailing theory all offseason has seemed to be that the Lakers shored up last year’s greatest weakness. We’ll see how it plays out when the real season starts.

  33. That said, MB’s free ride only has a couple more weeks left on it : )

    I think the Lakers’ rotation/roster/bench is really pretty simple, and Brown may be overthinking it. Backups:

    1-Blake
    2-Meeks
    3-Ebanks
    4-Jamison
    5-Hill

    Sacre should make the team and dress every night–not sure who the 12th guy to dress should be. In reality, it will likely be Duhon.

    Then, in terms of the rotation, I think that Brown should have 2 of the big 4 on the floor at all times, and mostly rotate guys like this:

    Nash/Meeks/MWP or Ebanks/Jamison/
    Howard

    That allows Nash/Howard P/R to be the fulcrum of the offense, and gets a stretch 4 and a spot-up 2 on the floor with them. Howard also covers for Nash’s and Jamison’s D.

    Other 5:

    Blake/Kobe/Ebanks or MWP/Hill/Pau

    This allows Kobe and Pau to be the fulcrum of the offense, and Hill’s willingness to mix it up inside complements Pau well. Blake can be the caretaker of the O.

    So, I think stuff like talking about Morris or Johnson-Odom as the backup 1, or Douglas-Roberts or Ebanks as the backup 2, is probably not a great idea. Brown needs to keep it simple and go with the guys with the track records. I like Morris, but he came out of Michigan a year too early and the Lakers as they are constructed now are not the team for OJT. Meeks is nothing special, but he is young and can shoot a little, and Kupchak signed him to back up Kobe. Brown should let him do it.

  34. If Pau’s legs are dead from training camp what’s going to happen in the playoffs? Sadly, I’m starting to come to terms with the fact that Pau isn’t the same finals MVP level player as he used to be. No longer can I attribute his decreased effectiveness to Olympic summers or hamstring injuries. He just isn’t the same player anymore.

  35. rr,

    I’m also a bit mystified with Brown’s talk of Ebanks as a backup 2. The only logic I can think of is that Brown feels Jamison presents a big advantage when playing as the backup 3, but his defense is really suspect against any athletic small forward (and 2nd strings are full of ‘em). Meanwhile having a forward who can draw interior defenders out to the arc will really help our penetration game and seems to fit the Princeton principles anyways.

    I think that holding onto CDR isn’t a bad idea as insurance at the 2/3. He’s got size enough to play both positions, he’s scored in bunches in the past, and he’s young enough to grow. Plus that interview really won me over. He seems to have the maturity to deal with adversity and succeed.

    DJO would be a great keep (and we did pay for his pick), but we’re so loaded at the point it doesn’t seem sensible unless we drop either Blake or Duhon’s contract.

  36. rr: Brown keeps saying Jamison is his backup SF and Hill is the backup PF. Meeks and Ebanks may be fighting for the backup SG.

    Don: Pau brings it in the playoffs. It would be nice if he could get a post touch.

  37. Kareem-

    Good post. I am fine with it if they want to release Duhon and keep DJO or CDR as the 12th guy dressing, although I think DJO would be better off in the D League. Morris can be an NBA player, but this is not the right situation for him.

    But, basically, Brown, from what little I can tell, appears to be running camp and talking to the media as if this is a 31-51 team looking to work young guys into the rotation and seeing what they have and as if the veterans need to prove something. That is not the situation the Lakers are in right now.

    And, even if Brown wants to use Jamison at the 3, I still think Meeks should be the backup 2. He is a 37% career three-point shooter, is 24 years old, and was signed to a two-year deal. Playing 15 MPG behind Kobe while getting maximum court time with Nash and Howard would seem to be a great role for him.

  38. rr: Brown keeps saying Jamison is his backup SF and Hill is the backup PF. Meeks and Ebanks may be fighting for the backup SG.

    I know, and I think that is a bad approach.

  39. rr: me too. Sacre’s good play may force him to use that lineup, but I don’t see how they score consistently enough to give the starters rest.

  40. Finally seeing Morris actualy play an entire game allowed me to actually have a fair judgement of Morris’ athletisism. I always said “I think Morris might be the Answer but can’t know for sure until I see him actually get a chance to play.” Well… I got a chance and don’t see enough athletisism. I’m onto the Odom bandwaggon. In other news…

    It appears we already have half one the Howard trade…@KevinDing: Rough start in Philly for Drew. “@JmitchInquirer: Sixers schedule another injection for Bynum knees…not in Germany… More to come…” If Howard comes back running and Dunking Aaron will very happily love being 200 percent wrong.

  41. Is there anybody on our bench that can create and hit a quick crossover and beat there man for a easy hoop when the offense gets stagnant

    ebanks,hill,meeks,blake,jamison, nothing but spot up shooters and hustle players with no ball handling skills.

    I agree with Snoopy on signing Cdr he is the wild card and imo the best player we have on the bench. Potential to be our james harden.

  42. I have been reading a lot of calls to keep Johnson-Odom as a back up PG. The problem with that is that he is a 6′ 2 ” SG. That’s the reason he fell in the draft. He did rate out as the top athlete in the rookie camp and he has extremely long arms, that helps compensate for his lack of size. I could easily see him guarding the point but he doesn’t have the skill set to run the team. Now what I can envision would be him playing with Morris if he ever gains some consistency. Morris is big enough to guard shooting guards and Odom could guard the point.

    Unfortunately for them this is a team with a 2 year window and we need to win now. We need to go with the players that give us the best chance this year. It is hard to develop guys under those circumstances. Ironically Odom would have been a great triangle lead guard. After all Fisher was a 6′ 2″ SG playing lead guard in the triangle.

    If they can’t trade Duhon or Blake I would love to see the Lakers cut Duhon loose. His contract isn’t guaranteed next year and it might open a spot up for Odom. If not we may cut him in favor of CDR who is only 25 himself, with an NBA resume.

  43. rr,

    You were on point in your first post. Lineups are simple with our current personnel, and Brown sounds like he wishes to complicate them. His whole demeanor might be a preseason ploy to light a fire under the team, get them working hard in practice dangling that carrot of a roster spot. I’m partial to this theory though I have nothing more than conspiratorial assumptions to back it up. Phil did those types of moves, maybe Brown’s been reading the Big Zen’s biographies.

    Aaron,

    I’m just giving you grief. We all hope you were wrong about the Bynum trade. It’d be a big blow to this franchise to have a center hobbled by back problems. I guess now we have the benefit of a season to wait and see whether Howard’s worth a new contract.

    On another note: Sacre is looking great out there, but he more than any other player is benefiting off of the wizardry of Nash. Guestimating, half of his offensive production is a direct consequence of Nash’s interior chaos. He won’t be nearly as effective pairing with Blake or Duhon. Still, as Kevin’s said, he’s definitely making a case for himself with his activity, hustle, and composure. He sure has to treat the rookie-foul-syndrome if he wants anything more than victory cigar minutes.

  44. I don’t see any PG with enough skills to backup Nash besides Blake. The other PGs are not NBA ready at all.

    And I’m affraid the princeton offense will bring more confusion that solutions. The PO requires a lot of run and we’re old. Besides, it will constrain Nash’s game.

  45. Kareem,
    I’m hoping I reversed jinxed it by pounding back surgeries into the ground.

    Michael,
    If you’re 6-1, athletic, can handle the ball and can beat your man off the dribble you’re a PG.

  46. Barbosa is still a FA and a darn good PnR player with speed and shot making ability. He’s better than Lakers current crop of backup PG’s.

  47. Lebron’s now a Marvel comic character. I can’t decide if this is hilarious, pathetic, or equal parts of both.

    http://espn.go.com/espn/photos/gallery/_/id/8492386/image/1/king-rings-espn-magazine-marvel-present-lebron-king-rings

  48. The preseason record doesn’t matter, but what I see on the court does – and what I’m seeing confirms my belief that our bench is far worse than most fans realize. Jamison has ten good games in him for the year, Meeks looks every bit like a $1.5 mil player, and the fact that we retain FOUR backup PGs shows that we’re really searching for help there. While Ebanks might end up a half-way decent backup 3, and Hill seems to have improved slightly but there is no sixth man on the team.

    Maybe moving Ron, who is playing more like Ron Artest and less like MWP, to the bench will give us the necessary boost.

  49. I’d have to think the Lakers beleieve they can acquire a better back up PG than Barbosa at this point. Or else they would have signed him already.

  50. I think if you can have two of Nash, Howard, Bryant, and Gasol on the floor at all times, having a traditional 6th man doesn’t matter as much. I mean, it would be great if the Lakers had another starter-caliber player, but what they basically need is guys who complement the Core Four.

    Also, while I believe very firmly in the eye test and I get that coaches want to see guys for themselves in their system, I also believe in statistical track records, and those indicate that the rotation which I suggested is the best one. Finally, many people have written that there is a synergistic effect of having Howard on the floor with shooters–and on this roster, than means Nash, Meeks, and Jamison.

  51. I find it amusing at how some people are reacting to a few preseason games. Would it be nice if the bench was outplaying other teams? Sure. But if you expected the addition of Meeks and Jamison (and temporary loss of Hill) to transform the bench unit from bad to among the best in the league then you were delusional at the start. The bench unit can grow into an average to above average bench and honestly that should be sufficient to make the Lakers a contender.
    It has been mentioned on here before that the Lakers have roughly a 1/3 chance of a championship and that probably is about right given an average bench paired with our “Core Four.” My biggest concern by far is Mike Brown and how he settles on a (consistent?) rotation.

  52. @ 44 – Magic Phil:

    Excellent point in regards to the P-Offense. That’s why I’m hoping that Coach Brown stands by his words when he mentioned at the outset of camp that Nash will have the option to pretty much run the offense at the beginning of sets as he sees fit. As I’ve stated in the past, I think what we’ll end up seeing are variations of different sets. Whether it be the P-Offense, Pick n Rolls or Iso’s. This will give us the best opportunity to maximize our offense.

  53. Aloha Michael H,

    Among the PG sub. I think JDO could be the 3rd option based on his limited engagement yet has the moves of a real baller. Morris is a light year away, nonetheless let him spend time in D’League. Duhon should be cut or traded to future draft picks, Blake will be the 2nd option until he finds his groove to the new system.

    Here are the biggest confusion Lakers why they are 0-3 in preseason. You can’t say GS, Blazers and Jazz are better teams because they are also playing their rookies, it is because of the following:

    a. this comprised by new team who are still searching their own chemistry in passing, in moves and on-the-job training. this is similar situation when you’re new on triangle.

    b. some players are old and don’t have the energy of youth

    c. some players are too raw, not supposed to be in NBA but they are mixed with b & c.

    d. the coaches are not aiming to win but just studying their applicants therefore we have different frame of objectives. The fan wanted some a victorious effort while the coaches are more concerned with their Princeton Offense.

    e. Nash, Kobe and the other two stars are just going what the system is doing, learning, avoiding injuries and playing at 60% level of what they’re capable of.

    f. Finally, Mike Brown found the Odom famous switch of complacency. In this preseason game, it still turned Off. When will he turn it On? Mike Brown has not reached yet that critical mass of Laker fans intensity and passion. He will, once he starts losing in the regular season. Nobody escapes in LA scrutiny.

  54. While it is still early, these bench guys are playing for not only a spot in the rotation but a spot on the roster. For them, this is NOT the pre-anything, it’s their only chance. To hear them not do well in this do-or-die setting is not promising.

    But then again this is precisely why they aren’t doing well. Once MB places them in position to succeed – which is to say with other starters resembling a normal rotation like Sacre is being used with four other starters – we’ll see what they’re capable of. I hope we won’t be using 3 of these guys at the same time on a regular season game unless it is garbage time…

    Snoopy2006:
    I always thought Kobe would make a great villain in any comic, and maybe the LeBron comic will have Kobe play the villain much the same way one of the ads Wade did had him jump over a pit of snakes.

  55. Edwin: lots of excuses, sir. Our bench has gotten rocked all 3 games. And the same happened in summer league this is a trend.

    Front court depth is fine scoring is the problem. Can’t ask Kobe to score 25 pts a night to compensate for the bench. I’m going to overreact and say Lakers need Barbosa badly.

  56. Kevin, I’m trying not to be bias but couldn’t avoid the color yellow. Let’s give him that long rope to….. before reaching the Nuremberg Judgment Day.

  57. What I like about CDR is that he was originally a PG. So he has the ball-handling skills. Issues are that he wasn’t a good 3 pt shooter. I don’t think that’s a problem per se. He has shown that he has the ability to put the ball in the bucket, which is something we don’t have enough of on our second unit.
    I’m hoping he can convince the coaching staff to give him a look at the back-up PG.

  58. I think it’s pretty clear the reason for the lack of production from the lakers, it’s mental.

    They’re currently thinking through the game , as opposed to PLAYING BASKETBALL. Trying to Fo what the coaches have stressed to them, all the while trying to perform at or above our ridiculous expectations. This is to say, at least at this stage in the journey.

    I believe once the lakers are playing basketball again, we’ll all have fewer complaints as to their production on the floor.

    However, what does frieghten me down the road, is Coach Browns penchant for overworking our veterans at this point in the process. This is disconcerting, and deserves much more attention.

  59. @55 Kevin,

    I am with you that we need offensive contribution from the bench.

    I am not sure if it is a direct result of the element of Princeton offense being new to them or just plain absent of talent on the NBA level.

    If learning the Princeton offense is the problem. I will reserve my judgement until December.

    Having Barbosa will at least address the offensive talent level while still dealing with the offense.

  60. On different topic:

    Amazing how Smush Parker could say the things he said in response to Kobe saying, “He shouldn’t have been in the NBA…”

    Kobe was just stating the obvious, one that we have been saying for the longest time.

    Shouldn’t he be thankful that he had his most productive years in the NBA playing alongside Kobe Bryant?

    Some guys don’t just get it no matter what!

  61. Paul L,

    I don’t think anybody thought the Lakers bench bench would be an elite one. All around the league, teams have picked up role players at bargain rates and have gotten deeper. With the quality of starters on this team, the bench only needs to be slightly below average…and at this point, with an aging Jamison and no reliable backup for Nash, I dont see this bench as being even close to average. A quality backup PG should turn this bench from the bottom of the heap to an average one, and that should be enough.

  62. Aaron,

    No your not. A lot of guys can beat their men off the dribble. You also have to be able to run the offense, which he hasn’t done before. Even in training camp they have been playing him at the SG. Because that’s what he is.

  63. 60 – I’ve made fun of Smush and Kwame as much as anyone else, but Kobe just publicly humiliated Smush, pretty much without cause. Not many people would have responded to that with “Thank you for letting me share the court with you.” Smush sucked, but I was a bit surprised at Kobe’s unprompted comments, because he’s done so well at taking the high road when it comes to Shaq. But overall, not a big story to me.

  64. More than Smush, I’m surprised Kobe took a shot at Mihm. Granted he wasn’t the second coming of Shaq, or even Rik Smits for that matter – but when he wasn’t injured, Mihm was pretty productive – especially on the offensive end.

  65. As for the bench, another thing I wanted to add was that “the bench” doesn’t have an identity yet. For any unit to be productive, it needs time to run together. And that hasn’t happened yet – different players are getting minutes on any given night, and that messes up any chance of a rhythm that players need to get into, to be productive.

    I’m hoping the coaching staff settles on a second (and third!) unit soon – plausibly Blake, Meeks, Ebanks, Jamison and Hill – so they get to develop some chemistry.

    While our starting 5 will be good enough to compensate for any shortcomings (one of the reasons we don’t have a first rate bench is because our starters cost so much!), what I’m worried about is injuries.

    On a related note, I love what I’m seeing from Metta, but I hope he is pacing himself for the season. I’d rather he play this way in June as opposed to October.

  66. Kobe is far from a perfect human being. Actually I think you can reasonably say that he’s somebody you ‘tolerate’ much less somebody you get along with.

    But that’s usually the case with people who know they belong with the best, who put in the work to stay with the best, and have legitimately been the best. It is rare that such persons are also likable/normal. See Steve Jobs, for example. Reading Jobs’s biography reminded me much about Kobe in a way…

    So I think what Smush says is true. While I’m more than certain that Smush was responsible for a lot of it as well, Kobe is not known to tolerate lesser, not-established talents (see Bynum parking lot video) and Kobe probably felt that he was already playing on Pluto by the time free agency hit.

    Anyway, I think there’s no reason to make excuses for Kobe the human being, nor reason to tear him down. Just accept it for what he is – a neurotically gifted basketball player who was likely spoiled as a child and has had good reason to distrust those around him.

  67. @64, I think we made a lot out of that Kobe interview… he was stating something in comparison to what he has got now and in defense to how he played during the 2006-2007 season… he was not saying it degrade someone.

  68. A_O-M,

    With due respect I’m sure you’re familiar with the debates on Mimh M.T. assertions of his having weak upper extremities…. we defended him as the future Laker Center. It was also discussed at that time in trading the Center to a promising PG Duhon.

    Well, in the Lakers 2nd and 3rd unit today, sad to say we have a replica of Smush and Mihm. I won’t mention any names but as keen observer you’d know.

    Mitch is a great role player, later an Asst. GM and a GM. He has the persona to connect with Superstars and make the deal. When it comes to frugality his options in seeding lower echelon is limited in absence of scouting. We saw the worst of Mitch in ’05 to ’07 but found the best of Mitch in 08-’10 and also 2012.

    My worries, the team is imbalance. The starters are the creme dela creme of this league while the 2nd and 3rd tiers appear to be parasites to the starters except for Hill. Let me make it clear …”it only appears” they have 82 games to prove themselves. We have seen it before when MBrown, overworked his stars just to win games.

  69. Harold,

    Steve Jobs always surrounded himself with the best in the business, whether it be in software, design, animation, etc. Imagine if Steve Jobs were forced to work with the likes of Smush, Kwame and Cook, and his success depended on these people. I think extreme frustration would be an understatement.

    I feel for someone as obsessed with excellence and winning as Kobe is… being forced to play with Smush/Kwame/Luke/Cook in the prime of his career. What’s worse was, many of Kobe’s critics blamed Kobe for not playing the “right way” and wanted him to pass them the ball more. Kobe’s statements about Smush illustrate what a frustrating time it must have been for him, and it’s pretty clear he stil carries some resentment about the lack of talent he was surrounded with.

  70. Don’t think it necessarily has anything to do with Smush. I think Kobe feels he wasted 2 of his prime years. He took at shot at management too. Avg. 31 pts, 35 pts, 4 games of 50+ pts streak, scoring 62 in 3 and 81 pts in a game and absolutely nothing to show for stings more so than playing with Smush. imo

  71. @ 27 (or others),

    So when will the cuts actually be coming?

  72. EdwinG,

    Thanks for the note back! Yes, I remember those days rather too well:) Any news on where Mike T is now?
    I’m with you on Mitch – remember the Cupcake references? To think we could have had Mayo or Lee or Bayless this year!

  73. @46 Kevin – Barbosa is not a PG, he’s a SG. He did some PG in PHX in a very special situation and it didn’t work. Again people: Barbosa is NOT a PG.

    @51 Paul L – I also share with you my concerns regarding MB. The guy does things that defies my understanding of bball, like Ebanks on the 2 and Jamison at the 3. Ebanks is a 3 and Jamison is a 4 with some 3 skills, depending on the match-up. Also, he seems to be very excited with the PO and we all know it’s a bet. I’d go bread and butter with this squad, doing the simple things.

    @53 Edwin – Sup Edwin, due to the circunstances, I think DJO should get the 3rd PG spot. Not that he’s that good, is just that he is the “best” 3rd option. Period. Morris and Duhon CANNOT play at NBA level. Glock is intriguing but he’s a SG that can become a PG, but he needs to actually “become” an NBA PG.

    @63 Snoopy – Kobe just lost a great oportunity to keep quiet. Smush sucked, we all agree, but you simply don’t throw the guy under the bus like that. Kobe, get mature!

    @69 LT Mitchell – great comparision with Steve Jobs. I agree. Problem is that there’s certain things you simply don’t say. It will not be productive. The remarks about Kwane Brown are fine (he needs to hear that) but Smush is just a “player”, you’ll not get any good thing coming out of such comments. Just let it be.

    Cheers.

  74. What about the cuts that other teams will make?

    Just saw that azibuke was cut, anyone think he still has anything left? he was good with the warriors

    I also wonder about the cuts in houston – the Machado kid could be like the 2nd coming of calderon with 10-10 averages with enough burn

  75. Not being able to score more than 80 points is ominous,sugarcoat what you will.

  76. can’t wait to see “The Big Five” go lakers!!!

  77. Hi Darius,

    I’ve very much enjoyed these responses to your thoughtful post. I’m not about to question Brown or his cadre of advisors–at least not yet–but I do remember where the scepticism came from–and why.

    I like Ebanks at the 2, and Jamison at the 3, with the simpler Meeks (2), CDR(3), Jamison (4) as a more offense oriented variant.

    The crisis seems to be finding a pg to back up Nash from among 5 candidates when the answer, more and more, appears to be none of the above.

  78. @ drrayeye: The crisis seems to be finding a pg to back up Nash from among 5 candidates when the answer, more and more, appears to be none of the above.

    True and too true.

    For two seasons Steve Blake has shown that he is not a backup guard for the Lakers, yet we retained him for another season.

    Watching Darius Morris in the summer league was painful and though he has worked on bulking up his body, he appears to be devoid of understanding how to run an offense and has no confidence in his jumper. He might turn into an NBA guard; however, the Lakers do not have the luxury of waiting.

    Andrew Goudelock is a short sg that does not play defense. Additionally, his ball-handling skills and ability to run an offense are not there. Again, the Lakers do not have time to develop him when all he can do is score.

    CDR is interesting.

    Chris Duhon should not be judged off of his playing time with other teams. He needs time to show what he can do as a Los Angeles Lakers. Hopefully, he’s proving his worth in practice.

    Of concern, is that these players do not appear to play with a sense of urgency. As any player knows a team takes on the behavior and attitude of the coach. Unless, they are self-motivated like Kobe and Nash.