Fast Break Thoughts

Darius Soriano —  October 26, 2012

For your weekend pleasure, some random musings (and a couple of updates) from around the basketball world and, of course, the Lakers. Let’s get to it…

  • Dave captured the mood perfect in his Friday Forum, I think. We’re all a bit salty after a preseason lacking any wins. But saltiness is always best mixed with some sarcasm. Fwiw, if there were stages of worry (like there are with grieving), I’d be somewhere near the bottom of the scale right now. Over at PBT, our old buddy Kurt nailed how I’m feeling so I’ll let his words fill your screen.
  • I do have a couple of preseason thoughts, however. First, I’m more convinced now than ever that neither Andrew Goudelock nor Darius Johnson-Odom make this team. The decision was probably made before last night’s game but if it wasn’t we didn’t learn anything new about them in that contest that would change things. I wish both well and hope that they catch on somewhere. If they don’t I’d love to see them on the D-Fenders. Of course, we’ll have to wait and see if my inkling is right.
  • Second, back before the NFL’s Detroit Lions were a somewhat good team me and my buddies would always note how the game they’d host on Thanksgiving was their Super Bowl. They’d play as hard and as well as they could that day in the hopes of winning and were always more competitive in that game than in their other ones. In hindsight, I feel that every opponent (but especially the Kings) treated their preseason games against the Lakers like the Lions on Thanksgiving. They wanted those wins. The Lakers clearly could have played better and have a myriad of things to clean up going into the regular season (at the top of the list is turnovers) but I also think they weren’t nearly as up for these games as their opponents.
  • Also, by the end of the preseason it really did look like the Lakers would rather just have the regular season start already. We’ll see what that translates too next week.
  • If you’re looking for some good X’s and O’s writing, you should check out the newly created HoopChalk. They’re doing good work there. In the past week, they’ve covered Kobe working off the ball and the Lakers’ 1/5 pick and roll and both were detailed and well done.
  • If you haven’t seen the work that Rare Ink has done in its partnership with the NBA to produce some stunning artwork, you should do that now. There are some great pieces on display that would look great on anyone’s wall. Being a Lakers fan I gravitated towards their work on our guys, but a couple of my other favorites were the Payton/Kemp piece and the Nets’ Dr. J one. All of them are fantastic, though. Go check them out.
  • Another reminder to check out the season preview that the writers from Hardwood Paroxysm put out. It really is fantastic and includes some original artwork that’s also very good. Also check out this year’s Basketball Prospectus season preview. Loads of good information in that publication as well.
  • In another good read, Ethan Sherwood Strauss put up a worthwhile post at TrueHoop on an overtime classic from the 90’s between the Rockets and the Sonics. Brings new meaning to the term “6th man”.
  • Lastly, in a bit of personal (as well as some site) news I have a couple of announcements to make. First, you may or may not have heard that I’ve joined the staff at NBC’s Pro Basketball Talk for the upcoming season. I’ll be doing some part-time work there on more league wide stuff, including news updates as well as some long form posts. My most recent contribution is actually Lakers’ related, focusing on Steve Nash and his fit into the offense. This will not affect my work here and I will continue to post here as often as I do now (if that was a concern for you). But FB&G will not be the only place you can find my rambling this year.

Second, within the next couple of days there are going to be a few tweaks to the site that you’ll notice. The sidebar will be cleaned up some for easier digestion and I hope that also leads to some of the loading time issues folks have pointed out to me. A mobile site won’t yet be available but the tweaks should lead to easier reading on your handheld device.

The other change you’ll notice is that there will be some advertisements at the site. FB&G has not run ads in the past (for a variety of reasons) but that will be changing. I’ve never made a big deal about this before but the operation of this site does cost some money and that has pretty much come out of my pocket since I took over. In order to better make the site self sufficient in that way and to help out financially in general, we’re moving in this direction. I hope no one sees the ads as an intrusion and I can say for certain they will not affect the quality of the work put up at the site. But they are coming soon. I just wanted you, the readers, to know.

Darius Soriano

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136 responses to Fast Break Thoughts

  1. In case you wanted to know… It’s a no brainer the Lakers should sign Delonte West. The Lakers have the worst back up PG in the NBA and need a offensive shot creator off the bench. West is a good back up PG who can create shots. It’s best not to over think this if you’re Mitch and the Lakers. It’s an obvious decision.

  2. Plus there’s the whole Delonte West-LeBron James factor once these teams meet in the Finals…

  3. Its quite obvious that fans should not hold their breathe in Blake turning some type of corner this year, if anything it looks like he has gotten worse if that was even possible. Dang I miss Ramon already, I guess we will have to wait on Mitch to work his magic later on in the season. Whatever happened to John Lucas son, he played decent when Rose went down backing up Watson and starting while both were injured. Anything is an upgrade at this point, Duhon didnt look bad during the preseason. At least he played defense and had a resemblence of athletic abiltiy to work with. I really liked the Blake signing a few years ago, some players just cant take the pressure of playing in LA.

  4. Aaron: I wouldn’t agree with you if Blake could take his man off the dribble. And even though I get on the bench Blake and Meeks combined to shoot 16-35 (45%) from 3 this preseason. Delonte has a more diverse game but if SB and JM could provide good shooting and 20 pts per that’s a win for the Lakers.

  5. D West: I agree with that signing if available. Nowhere to go but up.
    rr: I agree with your concerns, but don’t they all really just add up to one concern? MB
    MB: He has very little time left on the free ride I am giving him.
    JayZ: Do not not jump off #24’s bandwagon now. His greatest moments are yet to come.
    Injuries: No NBA team survives injuries. What if LeBronze goes down? What if KD goes down? Answer = those teams do not win title. See 84, 89, or 2004 Lakers for reference.
    Princeton: Ditch it. As stated before: Freelance, PnR, Nash run offense. MB needs to design defense. If he does not do that then what is his purpose? Sorry – a slight violation of my free ride : )

  6. No on D West, hes too ugly to play on the Lakers, He’s too crazy to go near our locker room, He stupidly breaks his falls with his wrist and re-breaks it almost every season, and he might try to sleep with Dwight’s mom.

    No offense meant to the mentally ill or emotionally disturbed, but it was bad enough when we rented barnes.

    Plus I’m pretty sure he was released for screaming obscenities in the locker room, this week. That’ll sure help our $^%&@( team chemistry!

  7. Just say no to West.

  8. Letting Barnes walk will come back to haunt the Lakers. Getting Jamison was our biggest msitake. Barnes should have his minutes. Both Barnes and Ebanks could have played in the same line-up with JHill and Meeks.

  9. There’s a reason Delonte keeps getting signed to one-year minimum deals and there’s a reason he doesn’t stick. Sometimes it’s not just about basketball talent. I can’t think of a less likely backup for Steve Nash.

  10. The offensive sets look good thus far (with the starters). Unlike last year, MB needs to recognize which sets work and which don’t. Let’s hope Eddie Jordan puts his foot down throughout the regular season.

    My favorite? (Can’t find the link to a video example)
    -Nash brings the ball up (gets to the top/left 3pt line), passes to Gasol (top of the key right above the right corner of the free throw line)
    -Kobe and Metta are spaced on both sides (3pt line) while Dwight is in the paint (tons of space on the floor at this point)

    In this set, Gasol handles the first pass and can hit a jumper if his guy sags off…. if there is a defender out of position or a double team (doubles aren’t likley at this point) then Gasol, with his excellent passing ability, can hit the open man (most pf’s can’t properly pressure Pau to disrupt the pass)….. if defenders are in position a simple pass to dwight (single teamed with tons of spacing) allows for an easy post up.

    I love this set… in this set there is tons of flexibility that could take advantage of every team’s specific defense

    -Nash’s position could be ran by Kobe and Nash
    -Gasol’s position could also be played by Nash and Kobe
    -the spacers could be meeks and jamison and blake as well
    – Gasol and Kobe could play Dwight’s position

  11. The Lakers already have WMP.

    Doesn’t he provide enough disturbing weirdness w/o adding D. West to the mix?

  12. MWP rather …

  13. weapon of mass production?

  14. Dave,
    That’s the reason he is available. If he wasn’t crazy the Lakers couldn’t afford him. Beggars can’t be choosers. The Lakers don’t have a back up PG and dont have a guy who can create his own shot. Something needs to be done.

  15. I agree 100% with Aaron. Not only is Delonte better than what the Lakers have at back-up PG, he would be the best player off the bench. We need someone who can create a shot. The opportunity that has fallen in the Lakers lap right now is similar to how they got Ron Artest for cheap. Lakers would be dumb not to at least explore picking him up.

  16. If Lakers fans got all the people they ever mentioned the team should sign, the team would have hundreds of players on their roster.

    West, for all intents and purposes, needs to make sure his life is in order and can manage himself well enough in non-basketball situations before he can be relied on to perform in actual basketball ones. The game isn’t played in a vacuum by robots. They’re played by humans in the real world & there are complications that come with that.

    And, regardless of what fans think of the back up point guard spot, the Lakers aren’t beggars. They have a $100 million roster. Not only can they ride with the product they have, they’re still one of the two or three teams that can actually win. That’s likely going to need to be enough.

  17. Lol…matt barnes???

    where was he is the playoffs last year?

    when it counts, dude is a choker and a brick-machine!

    good riddance!

  18. KBros had this up today:

    Elias only has preseason information back to 1995-96. Only three teams since then had winless preseasons of 5+ games:

    2012-13 Lakers 0-8
    2008-09 Bobcats 0-8
    2007-08 Heat 0-7

    The prior two teams did not make the playoffs

  19. It is certainly reasonable to argue that West is more trouble than he would be worth.

    OTOH, it should be noted that he is simply better than Steve Blake is. I do think that Blake will look better in role more suited to his skill level, but should Nash miss significant time, a player of West’s caliber would be able to step in.

  20. that should say “better able to step in.”

  21. rr — That’s why history isn’t always a good indicator of what’s to come, because if anyone believes these Lakers will not make the playoffs after an 0-for preseason, well, then that person is as delusional as the Clippers’ TV announcers are homers.

  22. @ Lakerlord

    The purpose of having a Matt Barnes is for the long and arduous season. If someone gets hurt he can come in and start, if some gets in foul trouble he can step in. He can play and plays hurt. He was hurt both post seasons. Who will step in and play the various positions he played? Not Jamison.

  23. The game isn’t played by robots… It’s played by basketball players. The better the players the better the basketball. The Lakers bench is awful because they don’t have enough talent on it and that’s mainly at the PG spot. Signing West for the minimum is low risk/high reward. If he indeed is causing problems he could easily be cut just like the Mavs just did. It would just be a shame to spend all this money on a championship roster to fall short because of the one spot that wasn’t shorn up.

  24. West has not been released. Blake and Duhon are under contract. If they could sign West it’s double the salary due to cap. If they could trade Duhon it would make sense. Of course anyone coming in still has to learn Brown’s college Princinton offense which makes no sense for a veteran team.

    Is Brown the type of coach to handle a problem player wondering the streets of LA?

  25. 23,

    Aaron, true game isn’t played by robots but you should also be careful in choosing your players. You can’t just choose a player who has a bad reputation of having criminal tendencies and have bi-polar disorder. You want a decent Laker who can be a good or great player. I think there are lot of choices out there, perhaps we will not see immediate change until ASG when teams go on lineup changes. Lakers starters are second to none if you just let them play their game. It is like those ants who know their path in getting to small crevices and lead one ant to another, they communicate, they maintain teamwork to get to their sweet objective. However if you prevent them by cutting the supply line, they get scattered. If you tell them to go on circles in trying to find another path, how long do you think would it take them to get to their objective?

  26. Delonte West, at any price, is the opposite of low risk/high reward. Pretty sure the Mavs feel the same way since they’re waiving him for disrupting their locker room.

  27. Already asking for roster changes when the regular sesaon STILL hasn’t started.

    Never change, guys.

  28. If Kobe’s foot is OK, everything will be fine. Kobe and Dwight are nightmares for the rest of the league. All that’s needed is for them to share the court and become acclimated to each other. Kobe is still the straw that stirs the Lakers’ drink. And Dwight’s presence means the drink came from the top shelf.

    On the subject of the Lakers’ bench, The Show has been struggling to find good role players throughout the Bryant era. It’s a team that is top heavy talent and salary-wise. If you look at the group this year, the only one with a outstanding NBA pedigree is Jamison, and he’s a little long in the tooth. The rest of the bench has to seize the opportunity to add something tangible to the Laker mix. The bench has a vital role to play this year.

  29. Totally off topic, but my fantasy league team auto-drafted Bynum.

    Guess who’s wishing him a monster season now.

  30. No bench on an older team means trouble, simple as that Kupchack has let us down again.

  31. Just so I have it right:
    1. Lakers FO has let this team down because the bench sucks.
    2. Mike Brown is a terrible coach because he doesn’t tailor his offense to the type of players he has.
    3. Steve Blake is this years Derek Fisher
    4. Delonte West is this years Ramone Sessions (the last piece that if replace a rotation guy will help us win a championship)

    Easy responses:
    1. FO got us a top true point, best center in league, a guy who has career 18 pts a game (adjusting to a new bench role), picked up a guy Sacre (who is a work horse)

    2. Great coaches never impose a system on their players. I remember when Phil Jackson was hires by the Bulls and imposed a system to the best player in the game. Then went to the Lakers and didnt impose that same system to a new group of players. Yah, systems are supposed to be for teams with crappy players and never win championships.

    3. If Steve gets traded, who will be the Lakers whipping boy? Pau again?

    4. Ramone Sessions was not the missing piece.

  32. Dallas was willing to take on a head case like Lamar Odom at a salary of $9 million, but has already decided to cut ties with West and his paltry contract. And Laker fans want us to pick up this perpetually erratic player? Are these the same fans who didn’t think signing JR Smith this offseason was a good idea?

  33. off topic: time warner just cut deals with charter and verizon fios, so 2 more service providers with lakers ball now. anyone hear anything about the other cable companies?

  34. The FO hasn’t let the fans down they supplied us with hope and 4 horses. Now Brown has to do what a coach does gauge the team and get Lakers to the finish line first. How much time do we have to spend in transition? He’s made 3 offensive changes, has never had a set rotation and hasn’t produced the vaunted defense he was hired for. A year later it’s not clear what the team is trying to do on offense and defense. The honeymoon is over it’s time for some results. There’s been no consistency since Brown came to LA. Should have hired D’Antoni as the offensive coordinator and we’d be fine.

  35. Q-rich also just got waived- combo 2-3 with good d and 3 point shooter

    Also at least I and others on the board are concerned about the bench because when we see other teams we know that they do not stack up and we dont want to go through what happened last year

    Ebanks and hill are great bench players but we have not seen a player on the bench that can create their own shot or offense

  36. Chris J,

    BK wasn’t suggesting that the Lakers will miss the playoffs; he specifically said the opposite, in fact. The point was that going winless (and losing by wide margins) in an eight-game preseason is

    a) Very, very unusual
    b) Not something that good teams do

    Does it matter? Probably not much, but I think it is unwise to simply assume that it doesn’t matter at all.

    As to the bench, I mostly agree with Darius’ post from a few days ago. The Lakers bench guys can, on paper, contribute if used intelligently with a functional four-man core + MWP.

    For example, Jamison is old and has a lot of limitations, but his 3p% has held steady the last three seasons. So ISTM that that playing 15-20 MPG, with Nash and Howard, he can help.

    At the same time, though, I don’t see why some people are bothered by guys making suggestions to improve the roster. Steve Blake is a serious, hard-working player but he is 32 and is, at best, an adequate 10-15 MPG back-up. Given that the Lakers’ starting PG is 39 years old and has chronic back issues. it is understandable that people are focused on the backup PG position.

  37. Steve Nash will be 39 years old this season… He needs a back up. One of the better back up PGs in the league will soon be available. It’s best not to over think this. The Mavs agreed he was a low risk/high reward signing… That’s why they signed him. He went crazy so they cut him. Would it be smart to wait till the trading deadline to acquire a back up PG and in the process play Nash a ton of minutes? I’m not so sure.

  38. Have a comment stuck in mod, but I agree with Aaron to an extent here.

    I am not saying, “Sign West as soon as possible if possible” but I don’t think there is anything wrong or silly with guys talking about it.

  39. sportando is reporting DJO is headed to the Ukraine. what a waste of money.

    goudelock is more valuable than clark and duhon. i don’t believe he will be cut.

  40. In professional sports today if you have talent you have to be extremely disruptive not to stick with a team. West is very talented but has not been able to stick. That should serve as a warning to everyone. While I would like more talent at the back up PG, not at the expense of building positive chemistry on the team. I’m sure Mitch will act if the team feels he is worth the risk.

  41. I’m troubled by Mike Brown. There just doesn’t seem to be a consistency with him. Where is the defense headed? This guy is supposed to solid in that area but I don’t see it. Maybe I am worrying about nothing but, so far, he really hasn’t shown much. Not winning even a single game during preseason is not in and of itself a reason for alarm But I saw no real improvement in any area. Did anyone find one aspect of the team that looked better last night than during the first game? Brown seems in over his head, really. I sure wish we had signed Shaw, who had Lakers in his blood.

  42. I think we can all agree with Aaron that West is a more talented player than Blake (or any of the other back up PG options).

    Where it’s easier to disagree is that the Lakers shouldn’t over-think this. The season is about to begin. The Mavs are set to waive him before the year starts. That’s much different than having the season start with him on the roster & then waiving a guy. I’m pretty sure this is on the Mavs’ mind and it’s something that should be on the Lakers’ as well.

    Plus, there’s a logical disconnect between what’s being presented and what the end game could be. On the one hand he’s being presented as a low-risk guy that can be cut at any time. On the other it’s being strongly implied that the Lakers “need” a player like him to fill a gaping hole in their reserve unit. From where I sit, it’s hard to argue that he can be both a guy that this team needs from a skills standpoint and, thus, will rely on to fill a real role AND a guy that they can easily cut loose without it negatively impacting them should things go wrong. (If he’s a guy the team needs the likelihood of him being waived w/o hurting the team is quite small.)

    Even if you’re of the mind that the team shouldn’t over-think it. They do need to think some. He’s a tantalizing talent but that comes with real considerations. Ignoring them is as silly as saying discussing them shouldn’t be. So, yeah, let’s have a discussion about West. But let’s not make it seem so simple, shall we?

  43. I’m all for considering a guy in spite of their reputation as a head case when their talent is beyond question (MWP, JR Smith), but in in the case of Delonte West I don’t see the claimed talent outweighing the persistent character problems.

  44. I am confused how people read “Sign Delonte West” and translate it as people saying “FO failed with the signed Bench players”. Look, Delonte West is better than all the back up guards the Lakers currently have. With a $100 Million roster that is top heavy the only way to improve the bench is by getting talented guys at bargain price. Does Delonte have baggage? Obviously he does; however it would be unwise for the LA FO not to investigate picking him up. He is an above average talent available for cheap.

  45. Snowmass

    I too have concerns. It’s one thing to institute a college offense to the mist experienced starting 5 in tbe league. It’s another to after 8 games have apparent mass confusing.
    0-8
    17 point differential(worst in NBA)
    Scoring 85 a fame(2nd worst)
    Averaging close to 20 TO’s a game(among worst)

    Even worse it appeared they either quit toward the end or just hated the offense to much. Final few games they made little effort to run down court. There were several 4 and 5 on 1’s that that may have been the team sending a
    message.

    I see this team after 20 games at 12 and 8 and the questions getting bigger. Yea Shaw might have been good but to me these hall of famers need a coach they 100% trust, If no Phil then perhaps Jimmy should have Jerry Sloan on speed dial.

  46. goudelock! nooooo!

  47. mini mamba got waived. 15 man roster now.

  48. What actually does Delonte bring to the table that Blake doesn’t? He can take his man off the dribble, maybe a better defender. Blake is a better shooter and they both have recent injury history. I was pushing for West, Foye, Brewer as Kobe’s backup before we got Meeks. But instead of FO upgrades now let’s upgrade the on court play. Mike Brown is on the clock.

    I’m not sure how West calling out Kobe in film study would go over either.

  49. Q-Rich has been done for like 3 years. Adding players like him (read: Kapono, Murphy, Ratliff) is not going to make the bench any better.

  50. Goudelock cut, FINALLY! Only dead weight now is Morris. C’mon Mitch, cut him already! That should have been CDR’s spot!

  51. “College offense” seems to be Ken’s new catchphrase. That “College” offense is the same one the Kings ran under Adelman and what the Nets ran under Byron Scott. Both those teams were pretty good offensive teams if you’ll recall.

  52. I heard of a famer hs coach who never let his first team loose in practice-never. His idea was that it as bad psychologically. I think this may apply to the preseason–don’t loose them all–and never let a team give up 30+ without scoring. Last year I thought Glock might go somewhere but seeing him so out-of-position and clueless in preseason was appalling. Think motion O is good even if forcing the players to keep to patterns in the preseason with which they were not familiar led to poor timing, getting passes jumped and many of our TOs. Do think need a PG upgrade to spell Nash more minutes and just in case is pressing.

  53. Grats Darius on the PBT work!

  54. it’s always about the money when it comes to being all about the money. i’m talking about the fact that it’s about damn time charter cable and verizon vios succumbed to the high costs of broadcasting “twc’s” monopoly on laker games via our set tops.

    so there i was talking to nikki, or was it ziti or some other gen x named person at charter cable this past thursday evening because my cable box was not working. turns out i did not pay my cable bill for over two months according to gen x girl. long story short, when asked, gen x girls tells me that charter has been working with obtaining a contract w/twc but the high costs would be over $40.00 per month per cable subscriber compared to other satellite and cable providers who were being asked to pay approximately $20.00 per month per subscriber. one not to quibble when it comes to the lakers, i told gen x girl to get it done.

    so here we are, despite a lackluster preseason, i for one am in a happier place than yesterday. now i can chime in with a more observant eye on the whys and the wherefores of laker misbegotten plays and players now that the real season is about to unfold. couldn’t be soon enough. money talks and the bs that goes with it….well, goes with it.

    it’s about damn time, damnit.

    Go Lakers !!!

  55. DWest has been like a black cloud wherever he has played. He’s a good player, no doubt, but is he worth the baggage he’s been lugging from team to team? I think not. As far as backup point guard is concerned, there are legitimate concerns. That position is critical to this team’s success. The right player there would make this Laker team odds-on favorites. Think of how a player like Eric Bledsoe would change the team dynamic. For now, we have to hope that the Blake/Duhon tandem can get the job done.

  56. darius: and ps: congratulations on your new gig w/Pro Basketball Talk. looking forward to viewing your participation.

    and, what’s wrong w/a little side pocket change in this free enterprise system.? i’m sure all your ads will will have laker implications.

    pss: i logged in as “Anonmyous” at 12:52 pm today because i was getting my car washed and their pc was convenient. so what? and yes i’ll admit it, i’m hooked on the forum blue and gold.

    Go Lakers !

  57. I’m surprised that there have been very few comments here about David Stern’s impending retirement. While no one can deny his impact on the game’s globalization and success, I believe his tenure has been fraught with secrecy and a dictatorial quality that I won’t miss. Unfortunately, with Adam Silver, Stern’s hand picked successor taking over, I don’t see much changing in terms of transparency with officiating issues and league disciplinary policies. And, to top it off, the Stern farewell tour will last until 02.01.2014. Why not just step down at the end of this season and let the new commisioner start fresh next season? I, for one, won’t shed any tears over King David’s departure.

  58. Bledsoe indeed would change the dynamic big-time. Ready to offer Pau Gasol straight up? That’s about all the Lakers could feasibly offer that would possibly make it worthwhile for the Clips – though the prospect of taking on his salary makes that a non-starter as well.

  59. darius: what’s a jiggling, hip hopping and faked out of the popcorn machine all have in common? that’s right, it’s “chickisms” and to speak of it tens years removed from his passing would speak volumes if the front office decided to dedicate this upcoming season to Chick Hearn’s memory. this is not to say that we should therefore win a nba championship this season because of the dedication but because of the dedication that laker organizations place on winning nba championships.

    http://los-angeles-lakers1lakerlegends.blogspot.com/2007/11/chick-hearn.html

    Go Lakers !

  60. Winning pre season games was not the Lakers focus for training camp. If it was we would have. The two main priorities going into the pre-season for the Lakers were building a bench and establishing the Princeton offense. That was a tall order with all of the new players and coaches.

    The Princeton offense will be our base offense but you will see a lot less of it during the season. From all the I have read from coaches and players we will still be pushing the ball up the floor. We will see Nash be more Nash like. If an opportunity for early offense isn’t there, then we fall back into the Princeton. Just like we did with the triangle. If you recall we didn’t run that all the time either. But during camp it was important to work within that offense to become comfortable with it.

    As for the bench we looked at a lot of players. Rarely were there any starters playing with the reserves, like a normal rotation usually has. We often saw five reserves, three or four of which didn’t make the team against other teams starters. As it stands now, our bench is improved. Ebanks looks ready to go. After a slow start Meeks is looking much more comfortable. Hill is going to be great for this team and in Sacre we found a guy that will be able to to give 5 to 10 mintues a game. This will be huge in keeping Pau fresh.

    PG is still a weak point but I am not panicking yet. Four different guys were getting minutes behind Nash. This didn’t make it very easy to find a groove. You might play 7 minutes in a quarter and not see the floor again. Right now I am thinking Blake will get the nod. And yes this very well could be a weak link. However there isn’t a perfect team out there. OKC has no interior scoring and a center/PF combo of Bosh and Lebron will allow the Lakers to beat the Magic up inside. So yes a weak back up PG is a problem but it is not a game changer. We will still dominate.

    One last point. I know what this board will look like if the Lakers do get off to a slow start so I will put this out there now. Remember the super friends in Miami got off to a 9 and 8 start two years ago but I think it turned out pretty good for them. Keep that in mind if we are not world beaters in November

  61. Thanks Darious

    Having played college basketball and played one year using that offense I feel I know bit about it. So let me Correct my comment. Perhaps using a offense that was spawned in College and has never been used by a NBA champion could be a concern.

    That being said I feel confident that the Laker offense will end up being whatever Kobe and Steve want it to be.

  62. The PG spot is a concern, yes.

    But we also have to think what is reasonable. To get West, we need to do something with the current ‘clog’ we have at the spot that includes Blake, Duhon and Goudelock.

    Since none of them are really hot commodity, it’s not really realistic to think that they’ll be easily moved, and if you were paying attention, we spent the whole preseason just figuring out who is capable of what (and still haven’t got a good answer to this, I’m presuming). Adding yet another player, who also has a reputation of being a head case, will not do.

  63. Michael H.,

    You said, the preseason was intended to measure the bench effectiveness and the new offense. Well, the result was 0-8.

    What would be the next experiment be?

    Can we afford prolonged experimentation with time tested veterans like Nash, Kobe, Dwight, Gasol & finally, Peace. How many battles did these players faced as sole practitioners on teams they represented and now assembled as one. Don’t you think the Nash p & r is more effective than any kind of offense? Don’t you think the Kobe iso play with turn-around jump shot is one of the best in this league? Don’t you think Dwight can direct any ball near the basket to the hoop given a box out help from MWP? Can anybody beat the Gasol running left hook shot? If your answer is YES….well I’m not a Coach yet I was able to enumerate a lot of player favorite moves that you could capitalize and WIN. That’s the most important word to any fan, just win baby and we’ll all shut up.

  64. Tack on a winless summer league on top of the winless preseason and its been a while since we celebrated a victory. Good thing these games don’t count!

  65. I’d really like, don’t deserve, an explanation from Mike Brown on what he’s trying to accomplish on offense and defense in specifics. You look at the elite coaches and teams they take on the identity of the coach. Miami, SA, Boston, Chicago, Okc look organized, have a plan stick to it and execute it very well. Teams like Lakers (last year), Clippers and Knicks have talent but no structure. It’s a distinct difference visually between those 2 tiers of teams in terms of playing as a TEAM. Although I put the Lakers in the top group just talking coaching wise.

  66. i think Sir Charles knows the mentality of Laker fans when he said:

    “The Lakers have got to win now,” TNT analyst Charles Barkley said. “Kobe Bryant obviously is getting older. So there’s a tremendous amount of pressure on Mike Brown. That’s just the way it is when you coach the Los Angeles Lakers.”

    This is the legacy left behind by fan favorite, the late Chick Hearn, you gotta win games before thumping your chest that you are a great team. 0-0 is now a reality and the 0-8 was forgivable because it is preseason. A straight string of losses of 8 games in the regular games would be a real threat to Brown’s job. Laker fans will never admit that they belong to a team of losers nor Los Angelenos have patience in making excuses for losses.

  67. Is it really so hard to actually wait and see this team play together for a little while when fully healthy before casting final judgement on Brown?

    I’m fully on board with the fact that Mike Brown has a lot to prove this season. He’s been given a team that’s good enough to win. Last year, the team would have needed everything to go right for them to be one of the fringe contenders. That’s not the case this year and he’ll have to show he’s capable. I’m pretty sure that barring something catastrophic injury wise, Brown will have absolutely zero reprieve if this team doesn’t at least reach the Finals.

    It’s a long journey before we’re anywhere close to that point, however. Even though many people seem to want to bury Brown now, you might just want to sit back and either revel in his failure when it’s all said and done or celebrate his victory. Either way, it seems, you’ll be happy.

  68. Darius: I hope I didn’t sound bias when talking about Brown there, but I’m a die hard Lakers fan who has been accustomed to winning and the coaching of PJ. That may have something to do with wanting results in a hurry.

    When I look at Brown’s tenure so far, taking the tough circumstances of last year into account, I don’t see how he’s made any impact. It was a couple games in Okc where he had good game plans. He was thoroughly outcoached by George Karl. And he just doesn’t seem sure of what he wants to do. I’m withholding full judgement because I think this is going to be a great year. But I haven’t seen so far him put players in position to be successful. Great guy but still waiting on the great coaching to show up.

  69. Let’s let MB finish out the pre-season and the free ride at least I promised him. We have the best team, and now it is MB’s job to translate that into W’s. I think that we did hold back in pre-season for a variety of reasons, and we will see a different team on the floor next week. Of course we need everybody healthy, and I also have the concern with the bench and back up to Nash specifically. However, I am not going to waiver. OK – maybe a little. Since we went through the entire summer and pre-season at 0-fer, I will lower my odds of us winning the title to 34.9%.

  70. We’d all love to see Mike Brown succeed and become a ‘ship winning coach. But a lot of us don’t have much faith in him. Simple as that.

    Any news about Kobe’s foot?

  71. #70. Kobe missed practice again today in order to receive treatment. There’s no definitive word on whether or not he’ll play on Tuesday.

  72. Thanks Darius….also GLock was waived at about 3PM PST.

  73. Who cares if we went 0-8 in the pre-season. Pre-season is for scrubs finding roster spots on teams. The real season starts Tuesday and that’s what matters.

    The only thing that got me peeing in my pants in the pre-season was Kobe’s bum ankle. If Kobe ain’t Kobe this year, we ain’t winning anything this year.

  74. (1) apparently, the Mavs’ decision on West is not final;

    (2) courtesy of the Mav’s Report (ESPN):

    “We’re losing a competitor,” said Vince Carter, who planned to call his friend West later. “That’s just plain and simple. He’s a competitor. We all know that. You just hate to see everybody going through their differences, because that’s one guy you can rely on.”

    Added Shawn Marion: “He’s a hell of a player. I wish him the best. He’s got some stuff to work out with [management and coach Rick Carlisle].”

    That’s from a former stud and a still stud. The competition says instead [the Mavs have six (6) guards fighting for playing time]:

    “You’ve got to get over it,” said point guard Darren Collison, a Mavs newcomer. “It’s a tough business. Sometimes a situation doesn’t always fall your way. But as a team, we’ve got to look forward and move on. I think we’re ready to move on.”

    Now back to Vince [courtesy of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram], here’s how “bad” West is:

    “Man, I tell you what, he’s a great guy. I don’t know what’s going on, so I kind of stay out it. But if he wants to sit and talk and vent, that’s what I’m down for. I enjoy it.”

    So, Vince doesn’t even know what’s going on, and that’s how “disruptive” West is in the locker room, and likely wouldn’t matter anyway, since Vince is all down for sitting, talking, and venting, since he “enjoys it”.

    And for the team’s potential bench cheerleader (who can also play some stellar D)(which would help a team with not so great bench scoring, since they’d need to score less if they give up less):

    “Every time we go on the court the first thing he says is, ‘Let’s go get these boys tonight,’ ” Carter said. “Whether we’re favored to win or we [are] not, he always believe we’re going to win.”

    Lastly, re the hit that the team would take, well, Delonte is signed for the vet minimum, or $1,233,166. Somehow, I doubt that both that salary and the matching luxury tax will serve to break the team’s finances.

    Might even manage to break even if they can ship Blake off to some team who can fit him in under the cap, well, ship Blake to such a team along with a cool 4 million dollars (pays for 1 of his remaining two years, meaning that the team he goes to is only paying him 2 million for each of two seasons).

    In other words, take Delonte’s 1,233,166 x 2 = 2,466,332 (salary plus tax) + 4 million shipped to the other team = 6,466,332, as compared to Blake’s 4,000,000 + 4,000,000 = 8,000,000, and to even it out, add another 2,466,232 to West for his 2nd year, leaving us with $8,900,000 or so versus $8,000,000, and I’m not apportioning any of the luxury tax to Blake here, but if we did, the numbers would be even closer. If Delonte’s available, and they can ship Blake + 4 million, it’s a no-brainer.

    For yet one more, when you look at the conduct of others, remember to always consider the context. Some other team has a problem. Yeah, the same team that dismantled a championship team without giving them the chance to repeat, and that for a desire to add some illustrious free agents, yet when that time came, the one free agent was a little flabbergasted when the team owner was on the set of his TV show and not meeting with him. And they’ve got 6 guards fighting for time and Delonte wants to play more. That’s the real beef. Given the need to preserve Nash, Delonte would certainly find his minutes.

  75. Obviously I am always concerned with anything that impacts KB. However, I am unclear why everyone is more concerned with this particular injury? Last year he had the wrist, the shin, the nose, the fingers, the ankle, and probably a few others I am forgetting. Now – I was concerned about all of those too, but why all of a sudden is Kobe showing his age and breaking down in many people’s eyes? Is there some magic limitation on NBA years at 16, where in year 16 you can comeback quickly from 5-6 injuries, but in year 17, the first strain is total doom? I realize he is mortal and eventually he will retire and as he gets older he will more injury prone and will not heal as quickly. That said, let’s not forget about the track record he has in terms of dealing with these things.

    Jayz: I am still hoping for 20 years !!! I know you are too !

    If anyone has a link with some definitive “new” news on the foot, I would appreciate it. I have seen the skull and crossbones type posts on BR, so don’t bother to send those : )

  76. Harden to the Rockets.

    Wooh, This is REAL!

  77. Slow clap for Sam Presti. Life just got Better for every Laker fan.

  78. Goudelock lost his position during the summer league he was so out of shape that his stomach toppled his shorts. He looked horrid as a basketball player in every sense of the word. So, during the preseason he got little time because he obviously did not follow up the summer league by coming into camp in tip-top shape, and showing some of the offensive abilities he displayed early in the season last year. He was a big disappointment in Las Vegas.

    The 0-8 preseason was hard to watch as there was not improvement on offense or defense by any of the players Brown placed on the floor. With so much at stake one wonders why coach played players that obviously had no chance of making the team. Not to compare Brown with Jackson but PJ made cuts after the first game and thoroughly depleted camp fodder from the team by the 4th game. Brown could have done the same. There was no reason for Aguilar, Goudelock, Nelson, Somaji and CDR to even be on the team after the 4th game. That was Brown’s decision to retain those players. Even if he knew what Ebanks, Morris, Blake, Jamison and Hill could do on the floor, you mean to tell me they would not have benefited from that playing time?

    I do not care about injuries to players, a new offense, new players and coaches as an excuse for the manner in which the Lakers lost during preseason. No matter whom the Lakers played on the floor they were laid back and very casual about getting ran off the floor: A carry over from the attitude displayed by the summer league team.

    From game 1 to game 8 the Lakers never improved in not ONE aspect of the game, not on turnovers, not on free throw shooting, not on perimeter shooting, not on running a more fluid offense. Additionally, they never appeared to grasp the fact that if they are slow footed converting from offense to defense that someone needed to be prepared to get back as the first line of defense. (Note to Brown: Look at how the Showtime Lakers alleviated that problem.)

    Twenty-one turnovers, low free throw percentage (Ironman excluded), more fluid offense and a much, much more tenacious defense: These are the areas I expect to see improvement, win or lose.

    Hope the Mamba is healed and ready to go on Tuesday but if not I would much rather he came back 100% than to attempt to play injured.

  79. Harden to the Rockets… This is, on the surface, an incredibly good turn of events for the Lakers. Harden was a very difficult match-up for this squad over the last couple years.

    Just a crazy crazy trade in my opinion.

  80. I called this whole Harden scenario a couple of months back. All of a sudden the Thunder just fell down a notch – at least on paper. How ironic that a CBA designed to level out the playing field just impacted a small- market darling :(

  81. Wow. Didn’t see that one coming at all.

    I think OKC actually got a good return under the circumstances (especially the picks) but their chemistry is really going to be shaken this season. On the court they also take a step back as Harden is a more complete player than Martin and fits their needs better.

  82. Ramona Shelbourne is reporting that Mike Brown has chosen Steve Blake as the primary backup to Steve Nash. It is what it is.

  83. Harden was a tough cover because he can shot from outside but prefers to drive. He and Westbrook put a lot of pressure on guards (as well as the big men because they usually beat the guards off the dribble). This has now been reduced because Martin is more of a shooter. He is constant motion but I would rather him shooting from outside than to have Harden shooting and 1s. OKC did well in getting products for Harden, but again the winner of the deal is almost always the team that got the best player (exception Melo to NYK).

  84. Harden turns the Rockets into a real stealthy, under the radar team. Along with the center that they spirited away from the Bulls, Omer Asik, and Jeremy Lin, the Rockets are a team that will make teams sweat. And, yes I mentioned Asik. He’s huge and has shown vast improvement.

    As for OKC, they got quite a few assets and nipped a potential problem in the bud. Short-term, they may have taken a step back but they have set themselves up to potentially benefit from the trade very well on a long term basis.

  85. That trade by Presti just made Rob Hennigan look like a genius.

  86. Almost seems like a chest pounding move from Okc. Writing was on the wall 2 months ago when they signed Ibaka why wait days before the season when this could’ve been done around draft day. May have gotten a bigger haul. Cap relief and picks for a young talent like James Harden is like Lakers trading Pau for Williams and picks. Team that gets the best player always wins out no different here.

    Have to admire Mitch’s patience even more after a sweep and calls from Lakers fans and the Magic man himself to blow it up he never wavered and landed Dwight. Feels like Okc could’ve got more.

  87. Harden turned down a big deal from OKC because it was $5 million less than the most they could pay him. With his choice to leave the team, the Thunder did extremely well with this trade even if it leaves them a little worse off this season.

  88. I think Harden is more vs Dallas than vs Miami. He just got shook up like Pau did his first Finals. Okc big 3 wasn’t enough to beat Miami last year replacing him with Martin will serve them no better. Thunder really undervalued Harden a way Lakers didn’t with Pau. And Lakers will reload in 2 years. Wth was Okc thinking? Reminds you of those Suns teams.

  89. OKC wasnt going to be able to sign Harden for max money. Might as well have got rid of him now then let it hang over the whole season. The business side of the league is always the hardest thing for fans to understand. The owners got rich by being cold blooded negotiators in other businesses, why cant the players. Westbrook and Durant is the face of OKC, everyone else is expendable.

  90. Love this trade!!!

    For the Lakers, it takes pressure off of the Lakers shooting guards (Kobe and Meeks) against a team they must beat to get to the finals.

    Harden is a dynamic scorer that can get to the paint. His defense bothers Kobe as well. Martin is a poor defender and will be a spot up shooter in this system, this allows that Lakers SGs to use less energy defensively and allows defensive switches (mainly the sf/sg and pg/sg) easier to deal with.

    The Lakers NBA finals chances just dramatically increased!

  91. Excellent move by OKC. It might not benefit them this season, but long term, definitely so. Being that Harden wasn’t willing to accept anything less than the max, this had the potential to be a season long distraction if he was retained.

    While I’ll be the 1st to admit that Martin isn’t on the same scale as Harden talent wise and probably won’t blend in as well systematically, he’s no slouch. Also, taking into account the fact that Perry Jones (who the Lakers desperately tried to trade up into the draft to select) fell into their laps, the acquisition of Jeremy Lamb gives them 2 of the most talented players to come out of this years draft. The 2 future 1st rd picks is nothing to laugh at either.

    So, IMO, both teams cashed out with this trade and the icing on the cake is that, on the surface, our path to the finals just became a lil’ easier.

  92. Greed is a mother. They offered $51.5 million insted of the $56 million max for four years and he passed on the deal. He chose the money over a great team with great chemistry and youth, for a team of bench players who don’t fit. I have watched Houston in the pre-season and they made have had a 5-2 record, but they looked almost as bad as the Lakers. Chandler Parsons was the best player they had. I don’t think that Omar Asik, Jeremy Lin, Parsons, Harden and Carlos Delfino are going to scare anyone. Phoenix looks a whole lot better to me. They are my dark horse to snag a playoff spot.

    OKC,
    Clippers,
    Denver,
    Lakers,
    San Antonio,
    Memphis,
    Utah, and
    Phoenix.

  93. I’m surprised so many people think this trade benefits OKC in the long run. THERE IS NO LONG run for a team that just made the finals. Anything less than a return is a disappointment. Every other team besides Miami is trying to get where OKC is, and they’ve done it with a core of players in their early twenties. All they had to do was stand pat and they’d continue to get better.

    Even if you can get 80% of Harden’s numerical production back in the trade, you don’t get what made OKC special from a matchup/chemistry standpoint. And who cares if they can turn some draft picks into legit players 3-4 years down the road. What if Durant decides he wants to play elsewhere before then or Westbrook gets hurt (look at what Rose has done to his body playing a similar style)? When you have a real shot to win a title, you do everything you can to finish the job. Most teams never get a second chance. OKC sold their spot in line for a few million dollars. Hope it was worth it.

  94. Robert: Kobe’s our guy. I got your back on the Kobe bashing will get all season long.

    As for the man of the hour Sam Presti, He just cleared the path for a Kobe vs Lebron dream finals matchup. O happydays!

  95. Busboys4Me,

    Why are you calling Harden greedy and not the OKC front office? He is a max level player and deserves a max level contract, definitely more than B. Lopez or Joe Johnson. Do you know OKC’s finances, how much of a profit they get from running the team? Oh, you don’t know like the rest of us? Then you’re in no position to call Harden greedy.

    Harden is part of the ‘product’ that won OKC such tremendous success the last few seasons. He, alongside Durant and Westbrook, are the ones earning the owners their paychecks.

    According to Forbes, ownership is pulling in $26 million a year in addition to the franchise’s increasing value. And that’s just on the surface, not counting the other business and personal benefits that Clayton Bennett receives as owner of the franchise.

    http://www.forbes.com/teams/oklahoma-city-thunder/

    If anything, Clayton Bennett (net worth of 400 million) is unwilling to sacrifice 4 million dollars of PROFIT each year to keep his illustrious team together. Boo. Hoo. James Harden made the right decision, because the team gave him an insulting offer that shows they don’t appreciate his value to their “product”.

  96. Greed is on both parts, but a player does not PAY per diem, he does not pay the employees of the arena, he does not pay for the arena. He plays a game and gets paid well.

    A player must realize a cost versus benefit situation an owner must address. If the amount that player desires places the team in a luxury tax situation should he forgo some money in order to make his team’s finances work? The true stars of the team all had done so before him, why would he not do it for the sake of the team? Greed. That’s it, that’s all.

  97. If I’m not mistaken, that 4 million would be 6 this year, 8 in the second year, and 12 the third

    If you are making 26, giving up almost a half doesn’t make sense

    If you run your team like a business it is not worth it …… If you run your team like a hobby, it’s a no brainier

  98. Zerb,

    The difference was $5,000,000 over 4 years–1.25 million a year. The luxury tax hit would be much less than your calculation: about $10,000,000 over the course of his contract, $2,500,000 a year over the base value of their offer.

    As a fan of the game, an FO cutting a top-tier talent for a 10% hit to profits is a bad call in terms of team performance, and perhaps a bad financial decision too. Imagine they are eliminated in the second round as a result of the roster change. That means they would potentially miss one or maybe two rounds of the playoffs. Here’s an excerpt of the financial impact of such a development:

    “May 26, 2010

    The New York Times blog reports: The revenue generated by a single playoff game varies widely, depending on the playoff round and the city in which the game is played. One playoff game can take in as little as $500,000 or as much as $2.5 million, according to one league executive, who also noted that “Milwaukee couldn’t charge as much for a Finals game as the Lakers charge in the regular season.”
    http://www.insidehoops.com/business.shtml

    Let’s do some napkin math, conservative estimates: $500,000 a home game X 4 games = $2,000,000 dollars from missed playoff revenues. SO, if the Thunder don’t put it together as well as they have in the last few years, they may stand to break even or even lose money as a franchise. But really, we have no way of knowing. This is just part of the calculus that the team was making.

    Busboy,

    Actually, the players ARE paying for the other employees. Without the players, there is no product, no money, and no ancillary jobs. A team owner is just a person in an expensive suit if there is no team. Simple pro-business rhetoric doesn’t elucidate the economic realities of franchise ownership or contract negotiations.

    Again, we don’t know the real situation of the negotiations or the financial decision-making of the owner. Maybe he’s just a greedy dude. Maybe winning a championship for him is less important than cutting a big profit. Maybe he thinks they can win without Harden. I’m sure that Bennett and his staff did a cost-benefit analysis and decided to go another route. Laying the blame solely on Harden without intimate knowledge of the decision-making process is haphazard. The NBA is a business, and for some reason, some fans feel that the businesses are allowed act all business, while the player-employees aren’t. Harden made a sound business decision, one that I’m 100% sure most of us would have followed. I’ll never understand the double standard.

  99. @#93….

    Very valid points about how OKC could have invested in Harden and chosen to go for it all. You are absolutely right when you say there are no guarantees. However, I think their FO feels that with KMart and the return of Eric Maynor, they can offset the loss of Harden and still remain in the championship mix this year. And the future picks and a good young prospect like Lamb will allow their team a pool of young, inexpensive talent in the years to come. A tough call for sure.

  100. Simmons wrote an article on why okc should pay harden that everyone should read – writing this on my I-phone so don’t have the link

    This is good news for us – Kevin Martin really does not scare anyone and what i think will also hurt okc is losing dauqon cook, that guy always seams to hit a timely 3

    This could also mean a star exodus from okc in a few years as they are now making it known they will not invest in a title contender and i have a feeling durant won’t be willing to play his career out on a team like that

  101. I’m with Simmons on the Harden deal (paraphrasing):

    OKC’s offer was 4 years – 52-54M

    Rockets will offer 5 years. 75-80M from Houston.

    Harden didn’t ask for a trade. He just turned down a subpar offer from a team crying poverty that made 30-35 million PROFIT last season.

    OKC could have kept Harden, made a title run and re-evaluated next summer – THEY were the ones that lowballed him, then traded him.

    …..

    OKC now has a Kobe issue. KMart cant guard Kobe, (or anyone), and they used Harden to guard Kobe most of the game, and put Durant on him at the end. This either means a lot of Jeremy Lamb, or a lot more Durant guarding Kobe, which will inevitably hamper their 4th Q offense.

  102. Business is business. After a period of adjustment, OKC will be fine, and still the favorites to repeat in the Western Conference IMHO.

    Busboys4me – completely agree with your playoff picks, though Minnesota would contend with Love and Rubio healthy and Golden State will contend if Curry and Bogut can stay healthy. But Dallas is out this year.

  103. OKC does get a probably lottery pick (via Toronto). But the athleticism they are giving up, along with hurting fantastic team chemistry, could be a big blow they never recover from.

    Another reason Harden fit so well is the he has great offensive efficiency from the left side of the court, complimenting Durant’s great play on the right side. Things like that go well beyond mere scoring average.

  104. Essentially, what OKC thinking here is to save the Thunder enterprise from players overhead and try Martin, Lamb and two draft picks as a good exchange vs. long term contract for Harden. Offhand, we could say it was a bad trade however, it could be a wise move to save the small market franchise. Who in OKC can afford to pay $4,000 court side seat per game for the next 100 games? What cable company will invest $3B for 10 years in the a state of no-where? Therefore, there is a limit of what they can pay viz-a-viz from what they can acquire? They believe Martin and Lamb was the best solution.

  105. The beauty of the way Presti constructed the team is the way the parts all fit together on the court, Westbrook at the point, Durant and Harden on the wings, both of whom can create or shoot from 3.

    This reminds me a bit of Boston dumping Perkins, you give up a piece and get one (or more) but the jigsaw puzzle doesn’t quite fit together anymore.

  106. Kareem

    Really enjoy your thoughtful, researched and unbiased comments. One of my favorites on this site. Keep it up.

  107. Excellent post Kareem!!
    1. MB’ s coaching worries me
    2. The Kobe bashing bothers me
    3. The point guard issue scares me
    4. Some paranoid fans annoy me
    5. & lack of continuity among team just eats at me!

    Like my sister says, It’ll be ok when the swellen goes down. ;)

    Loving my Lakers !

  108. “If the amount that player desires places the team in a luxury tax situation should he forgo some money in order to make his team’s finances work? The true stars of the team all had done so before him, why would he not do it for the sake of the team?”

    I’m not sure where this myth is coming from. Durant and Westbrook both got max contracts. I’ve seen this myth circulating on several forums, but it simply isn’t true. People seem to making things up in order to bury Harden.

  109. Another great offseason article, and congrats on the new gig. The ads are just fine, everybody else has them anyway.

    I just found out that AT&T has signed a new deal with TWC to show the Lakers. I probably should not have been bitching and carrying on like I was. Anyway, when I found out, it was the greated news for me this year yet, and I do not care what it will cost me to subscribe to the channel from them.

    Go Lakers!

  110. Isn’t it interesting that the players (millionaires) who generate the money for these teams are always expected to ‘sacrifice’ so the owners (billionaires) can save some dough?

  111. Snoopy,

    There are several precedents, such as Tim Duncan’s agreed upon pay cut. But if we take it out of the context of someone “taking one for the team”, it’s a little more complex. Duncan took a lesser deal because management assured him that they would continue to spend in order to make the roster competitive year after year.

    This move, however, is looking more and more like a cost-cutting effort by OKC. For the franchise as a business, it makes perfect sense. Martin’s contract expires next year, and it’s doubtful he’ll demand 10 million again. So they’ll save tens of millions over the next half decade. All the while, they’ll continue to field a competitive roster that even if not winning the chip, makes the playoffs and has an exciting roster (a la Durant and Westbrook).

    BUT if the desired outcome is winning a championship, then letting Harden go over an extra $2.5 mil/year doesn’t make sense. IMO, the ownership was unwilling to “take one for the team”, while it appears they could have done so while ostensibly maintaining their reportedly sumptuous profit margins.

    Our path to the Finals just got that much easier. Unless Lamb shows a lot more this year than he has in preseason (possible), then the Thunder talent-wise have taken a serious step back.

  112. Harden is better for OKC and its not even close. The guy is a two way player. Martin, on the other hand, is solely an offensive player. Harden often handles the ball and distributes. Martin is a gunner. Most importantly, Harden understands the Durant/Westbrook dynamic. He is often the guy looking for Durant when Westbrook is in gunner mode. Without Harden, Durant wouldn’t even get 4th quarter shots in some games.

    DMo is spot on above. The Thunder had a Finals team right now. Saving a couple million over a few years and getting some project players are irrelevant.

    Lastly, in the new CBA era players don’t care about taking less to win titles. Sure future HOF players like Durant care about winning titles. Everyone else is trying to get as big a payday as possible. And why wouldn’t they?

  113. Kareem- agree with your outlook here 100%. Really appreciate your consistently high quality posts. Echo Ko @106.

    With respect to OKC the fact that Harden got traded is not a surprise as it was fairly clear that management/ownership did not want to pay him otherwise there would not have been this drawn out process to attempting to reach an agreement. If I were an owner in today’s NBA I wouldn’t want to pay a luxury tax but I also would be focused intently on winning a championship. In the NBA, as is often the case in life, you might not get to do both.

  114. Kareem –

    The claims I’ve seen on the internet (and in that quote in my post) is that Harden’s teammates – specifically, Westbrook and Durant – took less than the max to stay with OKC, and that is factually incorrect.

    I’ve agreed with just about everything you’re saying. The situation is complex and it’s very difficult for us to sit here and know all the factors that went into this decision. That said, a team turning a $30 million profit (as credible sources have reported) can’t cry poverty. It’s the same nonsense the owners spouted during the lockout. On top of that, Bennett and his ownership group knew what they were doing. They had multiple routes – amnestying Perk and eating his salary, delaying the Ibaka deal, etc. – if they had truly wanted to re-sign Harden.

    So I agree with your point; I’d put this more on the front office and ownership than Harden. The only thing I disagree with – the Duncan comparison is a bit different. You’re comparing a guy on the tail end of his career who received max contracts in the past to a kid coming off his rookie deal, trying to secure his first b

  115. I once said the NBA knows what’s best for them. They know super teams in big markets work. Hence they put in a CBA that squeezes small market teams but doesn’t the few giant big market clubs.

  116. Sam Presti is no idiot. Perry Jones will pan out, and one of Kevin Martin/Lamb will become the next sixth man of the year.

  117. PJ3, Lamb and picks are potential. Harden was 23 yrs old glue guy on a contender who produced. They should’ve kept the band together or got a young stud player in return. imo

  118. I think we all should hold our guns until all the information is in about OKC. I do think this makes things better for the Lakers this year.

    Read an article over on Pro Basketball that talked about the OKC environment and the impact a max deal would have on that environment. Essentially Durant, Westbrook, and Ibaka took a little less than they could have received. By giving Harden the full max they would be telling their other stars that Harden didn’t have to live by the rules everyone else did. That would inevitably break down the chemistry in that organization and they decided that if he wouldn’t take at least a bit less, they would have to trade him.

  119. What are the fans in OKC going to do with all those false beards?

  120. The more I look into it, the more the question becomes murkier. From what I’ve read, Westbrook did not leave real money on the table. When he signed his extension, he took the absolute max he could at that time – at that time, he wasn’t eligible for the Rose exception. He left potential money on the table by not waiting to make another All-NBA team and qualify for the Rose exception (30% max instead of 25%). Now can that Rose rule be applied retroactively? If not, Westbrook didn’t really leave any money on the table at all. He took the most that he could.

    Not sure why my last post at 113 got cut off, but the essential point was that it’s hard to compare an established veteran with multiple max contracts in his bank to a kid coming off his rookie deal, trying to secure his first big contract. I don’t fault Harden at all. Everyone wants to hear the unselfish angle, but when they get it (Heat) they find a way to criticize that as well. I don’t really see any logic in pointing fingers and assigning blame, especially considering we don’t know all the factors that went into this decision. But I find it interesting that fans are jumping all over the Bearded One while ignoring the fact that a team that turned $30 million profits didn’t want to pony up a few extra million. There’s 2 sides to every story.

    Edit: In addition, according to Larry Coon, the Derrick Rose Rule can only be applied to 1 drafted player on each team (and on 1 signed player as well). So since it was worked into Durant’s contract, I don’t see any way Westbrook would even be eligible, making the idea that he left money on the table a myth.

    Source: http://www.hoopsworld.com/salary-cap-chat-with-larry-coon-11812

  121. The “long term” thinking of OKC is clearly a result of the fact that they have realized that they can’t beat us : ) So they are conceding the next 2 years in the hope that Kobes retires. He won’t – the strategy will backfire, and they will regret the move. I am raising our odds of winning the title to 38.5%

    Also, since pre-season is over, so is MB’s free ride. Therefore Mr. Brown it is time to deliver. The Finals await.

  122. The OKC thing makes perfect sense to me.

    OKC wants to run a business, not a team that satisfies some owners desire to win and gloat.

    As a fan, I’d much rather have an owner who’s willing to go for the championship rather than one that always makes shrewd business decisions, but I can definitely understand them wanting to run a good business, especially if you think you can do both.

    OKC gambled that keeping Harden would destroy their chemistry and cost them at the same time (their call, not mine), while getting the trade will save money, and eventually save chemistry (again, their thinking, not mine). So they pulled the trigger and hauled in more blue chips that can grow and eventually replace some of the lost talent.

    All in all, I think OKC stayed true to what they are and intend to be, and that kind of continuity from the front office will serve them well in the long run.

    Not everyone can be the Lakers and swing for the fences at every single at-bat; there will be teams who will strive to be Ichiro-like in their consistency in performing.

  123. Agree with JesseP @116 – my guess is that between Maynor’s growth, young studs (Jones and Lamb) and the draft picks, this sets up OKC to be better positioned for the future. Martin isn’t exactly chopped liver either – they are still a contender this year.
    From a financial perspective, don’t forget the imitations of being below the cap line either – that’s real money to be had (from the luxury teams).
    This deal puts them in a better position to have a deep team.

  124. @119 KennyT,

    LOL! Perhaps could trade those for us as well – after getting rid of their Ming bobble heads :)

  125. Robert

    Usually on your side. Don’t think OKC thinks they can’t beat Lakers. Clearly to early to tell. Names on paper never won anything. Kobe, Shaquille, Patton and Malone with a coach named Phil was darn good on paper.

    Let’s wait to Xmas to get a better idea.

  126. Ko: We are still on the same side : ) The parallel to 2004 is undeniable. I would say that the pre-existing team was better then, but the additions were better this time. In any case, the 2004 team made the finals, and they should have won, if not for Malone’s injury. This year’s team needs to at least make the finals, and this downgrade (at least in the short run) by OKC helps that cause. Your mention of PJ of course raises the biggest concern – which is MB. I am going to be watching him very closely, as I know you will be : )

  127. I guess one of the biggest questions this trade also raises is: how good will Jeremy Lamb be? That’s arguably 2 of thethe 3 best drafting GMs giving him their stamp of approval in Morey and Presti. Will definately be watching his development closely.

  128. I think the deal was good for OKC long/medium term.

    Short term? Nah…something called “chemestry” was disrupted.

    How important is for them to win a championship? How much it will cost? What’s the return? What’s their long term plan?

  129. The importance of chemistry cannot be understated – it’s not just how K-Mart, and Lamb fit in, but also, what are Durant/Westbrook thinking? How committed is the organization to winning? Is a couple of million $$$ worth more than a championship to OKC management?

  130. I can see a trio of a healthy Maynor, Martin and Lamb matching what Harden brought to the table. Not every game and with the same effectiveness, but the trade makes complete sense anyway you look at it. Even from a contending PoV, they still got it. Martin’s skillset is similar to Durant’s, other than he can’t drive to the rim, but they won’t need him to. Westbrook, Maynor and Durant have the ability to get inside and dish/finish, Lamb also to an extent and off-ball movement from Ibaka, Jones, Durant and Martin will give teams the fits.

    I have to say I was pleased as a Lakers fan with the trade at first, but now not so much. Also, I really like that OKC trio and loved watching them play. Bummer.

    Having Kobe chasing Martin around screens is equally as bad as having him trying to front Harden.

    Does anybody have statistics of how Westbrook fares vs Howard? ‘Cause I know he goes off on slower PG’s and will get inside whenever he wants. How he finishes or draws fouls is what concerns me.

  131. 125) Ko,
    “Kobe, Shaquille, Patton and Malone with a coach named Phil was darn good on paper.”

    I wish it had been Patton. He would have made the other poor bastards die for their team.

  132. Ah come on I got the hard one right Shaq. Missed that Gary guy.

    I was sitting 2nd row right where Carl went down with knee injury in front of bench which killed that season. Knew he was gone. I got blamed for as a jinx.

  133. Djo is staying with the team

    I think something will be brewin near the trade deadline that will shore up the bench

  134. Shaun:

    That’s good news, I think DJO’s a keeper. Get him good and hungry to come in next year and contribute.

  135. I assume Lakers fans are giddy for this season. I’m thinking they near 60 wins according to my model.