Last night’s Lakers loss to the Jazz offered few positive takeaways apart from Kobe Bryant’s highly entertaining third quarter. It was also good to see Jodie Meeks find his stroke late in the game – this is why he was signed, to bring instant offense in limited minutes. The oh and four preseason start isn’t of any meaningful consequence except for the fact that fans don’t especially like it, the players themselves don’t especially like it, and the media in general uses the opportunity to question what’s wrong and how it can and should be fixed. In truth, the hows and cans are part of the training camp process with games being used as lab experiments.
Yesterday, Darius took a look at the building of a strong roster, the potential of certain bubble players and the harsh cost via luxury taxes of cutting a guaranteed contract. I agree absolutely with the three non-guaranteed players that he he singled out as holding the most potential; Sacre, Johnson Odom and Douglas-Roberts. The dollar-for-dollar penalties are tough though and the front office is now tasked with the cold hard choices. The first round of cuts is complicated by injuries – Earl Clark, Jordan Hill and Dwight Howard are not playing yet and the non-guaranteed bigs are being pressed into service.
There’s been quite a bit of talk about Derek Fisher and a possible path back to the Lakers. In its simplest form, it turns out the Fisher could conceivably return tomorrow due to the fact that he never exercised his player option for a subsequent year, when he was still a Laker. Regardless of rules, it’s hard to imagine the team bringing him back without freeing themselves of either Chris Duhon’s or Steve Blake’s guaranteed contract. I can’t see any team out there taking Duhon off our hands and I’d be surprised to see Blake traded – Mike Brown seems to like what he brings to the table. Mitch Kupchak will surprise you though – we saw this when he sent Fish packing last season.
Of course, if Fisher were to return, it would add another aging veteran to a roster that is already long in the tooth and one of the pitfalls of older teams is the propensity for fatigue and injury. There’s been a fair amount of recent discussion about Coach Brown’s sometimes heavy-handed practice tenancies. With the team’s well-documented health concerns, Brown is trying to find the right balance not only in practice but in game situations as well.
Regardless of Fisher or any other single player that the Lakers might or might not sign this season, the future will come and new blood will be needed. Part of the NBA’s future supply pool can be regularly found toiling in the NBDL, ever hopeful of a call-up to the Game. The Lakers roster will be trimmed by at least five players before now and and the start of regular season play and some will undoubtedly wind up on the D-Fenders quad, guided by new head coach Reggie Theus. There will also be the opportunity for young players who do survive the cut, to spend time with the D-Fenders, seasoning their skills and getting much needed game-time action.
Finally, lest we forget that there’s more to the game of basketball besides just basketball, league officials have now determined that excessive handshaking is detrimental to the nature of the sport. Sometimes it just bears repeating, the NBA cares.
– Dave Murphy