Friday Forum

Dave Murphy —  June 7, 2013

Change is a constant, we all know that. Athletes and eras exit stage left and new ones emerge. Jason Kidd recently announced his retirement as did Grant Hill. Members of the NBA class of ’94, their careers were intertwined. It’s a transitional time in many ways – the NBA finals have finally begun with the Tony Parker-led Spurs taking Game 1 in Miami. The draft comes next and then the long hot summer. Coaches are coming and going including the current COY. Another legend refuses to go quietly into the good night, using a book blitz to provoke copy from those who chronicle the sport, ranging from place mat sketches to a San Antonio Spurs prediction. Sports writing has been going through its own metamorphosis for quite some time and will no doubt continue.

There wasn’t always the internet. There was a time when ink-stained hands and visors were common catch-phrases. The term catch-phrase in of itself is just another definition of meme. Some of today’s readers and citizen journalists might not necessarily equate link-fueled breaking news with seminal influences but the connecting dots do exist in the ether. How far back to you want to go? Grantland Rice was known for his elegant prose and Four Horseman mythology while Jim Murray combined heart and biting humor in a career than began during World War II and lasted through the Michael Jordan era. Ring Lardner melded jazz age sensibilities with baseball bush league stories and Red Smith summed up the role of beat writer as succinctly as any when he famously opined that you simply sit down at a typewriter, open up your veins and bleed. If you’re still unsure of how the past connects the present, just ask David Halberstam.

The ‘Page 2’ school of sports journalism has always served as a way to bridge hard reporting and colorful commentary. Simply turn from the front banner headlines and enjoy a respite. T.J. Simers worked a variety of west coast beats before landing at the L.A. Times in 1990. His style often causes blowback from readers looking for more metric truths but there’s something to be said for using a shooting contest between your daughter and Dwight Howard as a framing device. Besides, it translates nicely to ancillary pieces. Perhaps no writer mixed things up as much as gonzo trailblazer Hunter S. Thompson. Late in life he wrote a rambling series of Hey Rube pieces for ESPN that are beyond facile description. Bill Simmons took over ESPN’s Page 2 a decade ago, bringing an accessible Sports Guy take to what had previously been some pretty wooly waters. Simmons’ career has continued to flourish and morph, including his current role as one of ESPN’s talking heads. Are there really six degrees of separation between Grantland Rice and Dwight Howard? I don’t know but it’s an easy segue back to a Lakers-centric topic of conversation.

It’s not just players and writers of course. There’s always the conflict of league-mandated interviews between sideline reporters and coaches and none so treacherous as those involving Coach Pop. Continuing the circular trend is a carousel of coaching updates spinning out from the George Karl ouster. On the odd-couple front comes this story about Jerry Sloan and the Birdman. Indeed, old versus new school debates seem to be anywhere and everywhere these days. Witness the analytics-driven conflict between Lionel Hollins and Memphis vice president of operations John Hollinger. The information highway is long and ever-winding, a morning’s search can lead from a superstar’s continued path back from a devastating injury to the connection between athletes, celebrities and money management.

You can continuing with colliding worlds and emerging stories as long as your index finger has the strength to click but at some point you have to pull yourself away from the luminescent screen. What did Marshall McLuhan used to say, the medium is the message? No, I’m not hyperlinking it. Go, have some lunch, take a walk. Something.


Dave Murphy


to Friday Forum

  1. “Change is constant”, Dave the writer starts this article. Needless to say, he’s obviously correct. Owners and GM’s generally are pretty smart guys. If not smart enough to create something on their own, they are at least smart enough to copy something that works.

    Do you know what this year’s NBA Final Four (Heat, Spurs, Pacers, & Grizz) have in common? None had a player in this year’s Top Ten Highest Salaried Players, not one. Question is, is this an anomaly or a new trend? With the salary cap becoming more & more limiting every year, tying up such a large percentage of your cap space in one player thus minimizing the quality of players needed to surround him will only allow your favorite team to go so far in the post-season.

    Following are the Top 10 salaried NBA players for 2012 – 2013, their salaries, and how far their teams went this year:

    1. Kobe Bryant $27,849,000 – eliminated 1st round
    2. Brandon Roy $21,459,805 – retired after only five games
    3. Dirk Nowitzki $20,907,128 – failed to make play-offs
    4. Gilbert Arenas $20,807,922 – Didn’t play past season
    5. Amare Stoudemire $19,948,799 – eliminated 2nd round
    6. Joe Johnson $19,752,645 – eliminated 1st round
    7. Carmelo Anthony $19,450,000 – eliminated 2nd round
    8. Dwight Howard $19,261,200 – eliminated 1st round
    9. Pau Gasol $19,000,000 – eliminated 1st round
    10. Elton Brand $18,160,354 – failed to make play-offs

    Next season the salary cap becomes even more restrictive. I wonder how that will effect the teams with the 10 highest salaried players? Time will tell if this issue is an anomaly, or a new trend.


  2. Chris Bosh went from being a 20+ pts 10+ reb nightly guy to a 3rd option or complementary piece this year.. The league has gone to spread teams out more and hit 3 point shots, but Bosh had one the best post games in the league at one point. Kind of like the same situation with Pau. Instead of using him in the post, where it’s documented he’s top tier ever in that department, he’s put on the perimeter. Catering to LeBron’s strengths is what the Heat should do. Putting Bosh down low where he could work is also not to bad an option.


  3. More $$ facts: Pertaining to this year’s NBA Team Salaries, of the Final Four (Miami, Memphis, San Antonio, & Indiana), only Miami is in the top 10.

    -Miami, 4th highest payroll
    -San Antonio, 12th
    -Indiana, 22nd
    -Memphis, 25th


  4. I hope the SA/Pop/Duncan/Parker worship after Game 1 has convinced everyone to root against them. We are Laker fans being another reason.


  5. BigCity – the Arenas $111m contract has to be one of the worst ever. Signed summer of ’08, AFTER knee problems. Is he still playing in Shanghai?


  6. an anomaly or a new trend?

    An anomaly. Every one of those deals was signed under the old CBA. Get the facts straight before you start giving the opinions.


  7. Further:

    Dirk, Kobe, and Pau lead their teams to titles. Howard lead his team to the Finals. The Arenas and Johnson deals were widely derided at the time, as were the Stoudemire and Brand deals to a lesser extent. Roy’s body simply broke down.

    That leaves Anthony, who is probably overrated.

    Also, Indiana and Memphis made the conference finals in part due to key opponents losing guys on max deals to serious injuries: Rose on Chicago in the East, and Westbrook on OKC in the West.


  8. Gilbert Arenas is currently playing in the Drew Summer League in Watts, along with several other role players from the NBA. After the finals some top drawer NBA players will make their appearance at Drew.

    BigCitySid-I don’t know about anyone else on your list but I believe Kobe earned every bit of his $27.9 million. If nothing more than for his body of works…the rest…not so much.

    Will Miami be like the Pistons and Mavericks with a team concept that garners a championship for one season?

    Maybe Phil Jackson wasn’t far off in his assessment of which team model will work long term. D’Antoni’s model has yet to make it to the finals and even if he does, his system is a gimmick offense; one in which a good coach will eventually make adjustments against to beat.


  9. RE Max Deals: I’d add that the economics of the league almost mandate that there will be players who earn max salaries who aren’t necessarily “max” players. The fact that there is a cap on player earnings means that teams have to fill out their salary caps with players who, when competed for on the open market, ultimately may get more money than they’re worth. It’s just the way it goes.

    I will say, however, that moving forward we may see teams avoid paying players the types of “super max” contracts that guys like Kobe make now. Dwight & Chris Paul will likely get that type of contract this summer and LeBron will likely get one when he signs his next deal (as will Durant in all likelihood), but by the time Westbrook, Rose, Love, etc see their current deals expire who knows how players/teams will look at roster construction and how to fit salaries into the cap and whether they’ll all get a bump up from their already max deals.

    But even in saying all that, the best of the best will always command maximum contracts and teams will happily pay them because they are the best of the best and the guys who serve as the foundation for contending teams more often than not.


  10. Clicking on Dave’s links, I am not surprised that Lionel Hollins had issues with John Hollinger, if in fact that story is true.

    On paper, Hollins would actually make a good coach for the Lakers next year in many ways, IMO, if Howard stays. The Lakers aren’t much into sabermetrics, they have big guys, they need to play at a slow pace, and Hollins’ track record coaching D is good.


  11. Warren Wee Lim June 7, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    The contracts post being made is misleading. ALL of those contracts have been made/signed with the old CBA. Their maxes, their % raises per year, all based on the old one. 3 of those 10 you posted are already amnestied (Roy, Arenas and Brand).

    As for Kobe and Pau, while it can be argued that their production does not warrant a combined 50 million in salary, effectively crippling the entire team’s ability to reload with free agents, would you also not pay this much on the 2 players that meant so much for getting you 3 Finals and 2 Championships? You may be heartless and purely business in that sense but you cannot deny the human factor in handing out these contracts, particularly for Kobe and Pau, who were at this time 2-time champions and had no signs of slowing down. Next season, when 2014 is over and done, after being overpaid the previous 2 seasons, with their age being past-prime, they will, should they still be here, be playing for less than their actual worth. I can totally see Kobe getting a 40M/3 deal.


  12. Warren Wee Lim June 7, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    At a time when we discussed the Lakers’ payroll and the tax penalties we’re facing this next season, I can’t help but bring up the topic of who to amnesty. The obvious choice is MWP but his slot is actually empty (SF) without trading for one or re-signing Clark. A Clark re-sign hinges on the Dwight re-sign, which may never happen.

    A Gasol amnesty as well hinges on Dwight coming back. If Dwight leaves for nothing, then Pau becomes our defacto center. Re-signing Clark would still be a priority but the number of years of guarantee is what will change. We will then have a frontcourt of Clark-Hill-Gasol at the 3-4-5 which brings my point that its not really something you’d be confident at since there is little to no rim protection from there.

    You can also amnesty Steve Blake but he makes too small an amount (4 million) compared to the other 2: Metta (7.7M) and Pau (19.3M) to make sense to let go.

    There’s Kobe too who I would dare not, even in my subconscious, suggest. So please leave him out.

    Off to the numbers:
    Everyone In. Payroll: 102M Tax: 95M
    Dwight in, amnesty Pau? Payroll: 84M Tax: 26M
    Dwight in, trade Pau for 8M less, amnesty Peace? Payroll: 86M Tax: 32M
    Dwight in, Pau in, amnesty Peace, Trade Hill + Duhon for SF? Payroll: 95M Tax: 64M
    Dwight out, Pau in, amnesty Peace, no full MLE still. Payroll: 75M Tax: 8M
    Dwight out, center in for 12M, Pau in, amnesty Peace, sign mini MLE? Payroll: 87M Tax 35M


  13. rr – any coach who won a ring as Bill Walton’s PG is a guy I’d trust more than analytics. And I got no beef with Hollinger at all. Super smart guy. But Lionel Hollins is a legit good coach.


  14. Dave,

    I wasn’t judging it either way, but I think that many NBA coaches would be less than thrilled to be answering to a guy with Hollinger’s resume, and would feel more or less the way you apparently do. Also, a guy I know on another site, who is from Memphis, says that the local media there has said it was no big deal, Hollinger and Hollins get along fine, and the whole thing was misreported/overblown. Lakers’ fans tend to dislike Hollinger because he, like everyone else at ESPN, always has taken subtle shots at both Kobe and the Lakers, as well as at Lakers’ fans.
    BTW, there are many Houston Rockets fans out there who are already fitting Howard for a uniform.


  15. Also, Dave, note what I said about Hollins as a coach.


  16. The way I see it, our salaries aren’t really that bad considering when they all are terminated.

    We can both contend and rebuild at the same time if we can only get Dwight’s head straight and get D’Antoni to work his genius around the pieces he has and not vice versa.


  17. what is all the concern about money?

    i’m tired of people who don’t understand trying to pin hard business reality on a basketball CLUB. that’s right, it’s a club for multimillionaires first, and a business second.

    if the Lakers have the money available and they need this or that player, they will spend it. i like that personally. yes, rules have made it harder for them to do this, but if they get a chance, history says they’ll spend the money. the irony? that money spent is the reason that they can afford to eat these insane league taxes on spending.

    the money is not the impediment. the tv deals have taken care of the money. the real issue is that the new rules make it harder to sign players that you want. as they say, where there’s a will, there’s a way.

    even though the league has tried to handicap the Lakers’ ability to spend, it hasn’t made it impossible for the Lakers to get players, just made it harder. to quote A League of Their Own, it’s the hard that makes it great. i’m pretty sure that the Buss family wants to shove this cap thing down the League’s throat. it’s a battle of bragging rights for very rich people.


  18. I’ve heard several times that if Dwight Howard leaves, we have to hold onto Pau and retain him as our center. I think Rosales’ piece shows the flaws in that line of thinking. An aging Kobe with Pau at center will be a mediocre team, and mediocrity should be avoided at all costs. If Dwight leaves, the best option is to follow with a Pau trade and enter a full-fledged rebuild.

    The rebuild will be more enticing if even a few of the 2014 draft prospects pan out as expected. Wiggins is the one everyone (including me) is drooling over, but I think Marcus Smart is an absolute pitbull of a point guard. Doesn’t have Westbrook’s athleticism, but has the same physicality in the paint, and more like Harden’s vision. Reminds me a lot of Eric Gordon at his most promising best, actually. And while I’m not yet sold on Jabari Parker – I need to see how his shifty old-man game holds up against elite level defenders, and Michael Beasley scared me off of these types – many intelligent scouts are high on him as well. The point – if you’re going to rebuild, you want to do so not with the tiny hopes of landing #1, you want to do so in a year like 2003 – when there are several truly elite players on the board. If 2014 holds up to expectations, I wouldn’t be opposed to a complete tear-down. You want to rebuild, you have to go all-in.


  19. In all the Dwight FA drama, one date I have not seen discussed is July 19th. That’s the drop dead date for renewing season tickets. Snoopy makes a persuasive argument for going nuclear should DH leave… but I don’t know how many other season ticket holders would share my sense of not wishing to pay big bucks to watch a tank job. I’ve been a STH for a long time, but the relentless pain of this season followed by DH leaving and Kobe’s injury and then, adding to it… a tank job?! It’s hard to justify writing a check to see that.


  20. Warren Wee Lim June 8, 2013 at 10:26 pm


    Fanhood is about many things… mainly winning. Winning at all costs and winning despite the costs. However, such is not true in real life. In real life the money is the honey. Much as you’d prefer a championship every other year, you’d wanna make a profit there too. Isn’t that the point?

    The point about discussing the money is to see and feel where we are. More information leads to better decisions. Better decisions mean a better team, thereby increasing the odds of your main goal: winning a championship; and the corporations’ main goal: making profit. They are not mutually exclusive, instead, they are intertwined. If you want to disregard what the new CBA has in store for the Lakers thinking that we can just pay our bills and win every other year then you are sorely mistaken.


  21. You want to rebuild, you have to go all-in.

    I find it odd that people keep saying this, since all one has to do is look at the Lakers’ own history and the current state of the Houston Rockets to see that it isn’t true. By Rosales’ logic, after Magic was forced to retire, the Lakers should have immediately gotten rid of Worthy, Sam Perkins, and Byron Scott, gone 17-65 and prayed for the #1 pick. Instead, Jerry West added Ceballos, Van Exel, Elden Campbell, George Lynch, and Anthony Peeler and had the team at 53-29 when Shaq hit FA. He then signed Shaq and traded Vlade for a 17-year-old guard coming out of HS.

    And, by Rosales’ logic, after Shaq got traded, the Lakers should have let Kobe walk and flipped Odom elsewhere immediately, since the 2005-7 teams were definitely mediocre. Instead, they kept Kobe and Odom, drafted Bynum and Marc Gasol,and everyone knows the rest. Yes, being mediocre with a big star is different, but those teams were middle-of-the-pack in all areas.

    Today, this second, Daryl Morey is in the position he is in because he kept adding assets, and was able to snare Harden–and now the team is Howard-ready. Houston never tanked.

    The other problem with Rosales’ argument is that he mentions two teams; San Antonio, and Oklahoma City. The Spurs of course had the unique good fortune to get Robinson AND Duncan, and the Thunder benefited from Portland (Greg Oden) and Memphis (Hasheem Thabeet) making catastrophic drafting errors. Rosales doesn’t talk about Minnesota, or Toronto, or Charlotte, or Washington, or Atlanta, or Sacramento,–all of whom have at one time or another gone all-in.

    Don’t get me wrong–if Howard walks, tanking needs to be on the the table, given how old the team’s remaining key players are. But this is one area that Lakers fans really don’t seem to get, since the team has never–literally never–done a full-scale ground-up rebuild since they moved to LA in 1960. Even if the Lakers somehow move Nash and Pau, and either get Kobe on board or amnesty him, trying to do what Rosales and CA Clark want to do represents not only dealing with a team that could literally win about 10 games next year, but represents enormous long-term risk.

    People will say they understand that, and some people probably do, but tanking will not be some amusing little adventure that we will have as fans before Andrew Wiggins (who may be the next Glenn Robinson instead of the next James) and LeBron James arrive, like a wealthy business owner sleeping one night in a homeless shelter so he can post about it on Facebook. I am pretty sure, based on their tone, that the SSR guys do not grasp this. We shall see if Jim Buss does.

    I am not 100% opposed to it, but people need to be real about what it is.


  22. Mr Lee,

    there’s no doubt that money comes into play and that it’s important.

    basketball is a game, and the game is played by clubs. the normal rules of money don’t necessarily exist. the reason rich men buy a ballclub is to show off.

    yes, the Lakers want and need to turn a profit. it’s just not like the people worrying over 10 million think. a team like the Lakers deals in monopoly money amounts. as long as the family members can keep their standards of living intact, it doesn’t matter how much they spend, if they are winning. if they are losing….

    there are different dynamics in a billion dollar hobby, than in a million dollar business. of course the Lakers are the main asset of the Buss family which is unusual, but then so is the Lakers’ cable deal. player’s salaries and luxury taxes are already paid by the cable deal before any other business is done. the money is not the issue. it’s only a matter of if the money is worth spending, which is the essense of a gamble. gambling is also a business, but again, the dynamics of such a business are different that what is normally called “business”. money is never the issue with a good gamble, unless you don’t have any.


  23. Supporting Warren’s point — take a look at the Mavericks. Cuban is clearly an owner who is wealthy and wants to win. However, when he saw what the landscape was with the upcoming CBA, he elected to essentially tear down a championship-winning club largely because the contracts he was going to have to sign that summer to keep the club together would hamper him for years and also cost him so much money, that he just couldn’t accept it.

    Money does count and the TV contract does not make cash irrelevant.


  24. Warren Wee Lim June 9, 2013 at 7:49 am


    We come from very different economic situations. I don’t know if you speak out of experience, 1st-hand knowledge or just out of supposed conventional wisdom but a kid growing up on the southern part of the Philippines would tell you that saying “money doesn’t count” simply is not true.

    However, the point of my argument is not the Lakers stop worrying about the money. I am pointing out, that like Craig’s point, the “new” way to build teams is affecting the old way we used to know how to do. Let me rephrase that. There is now a new way to build championship teams because of the CBA. Business from the old and business in the new, business has forever meant making a profit. Being an entrepreneur myself, I sometimes sacrifice profit for marketing and the future value of my company. But never to justify a loss.

    Maybe I’m too small to matter, but I know business as learned in a University, real-life practice and hand-me-down wisdom from my father and grandfather.

    Maybe you see the Lakers as a mere club. I see it as a corporation.


  25. Since the Lakers are a family-owned business that supports and employs all of Jerry Buss’ kids, it is in some ways less of a hobby than it is for a guy like Paul Allen or Mark Cuban, who have many business interests and are worth hundreds of millions of dollars not including their NBA teams.

    OTOH, Dr. Buss himself has on many occasions somewhat euphemistically described the Lakers as a “mom-and-pop” store, and if the Lakers were a hard-eyed, bottom-line corporation, there would probably be less of a family influence. But, Jim Buss, whatever his flaws, does seem to want to win. I see no reason to think that he won’t spend money if he needs to. The point of running an NBA team is to try to win.

    As to Craig’s point about Cuban, that is only about 20% right. Cuban let Barea walk because he thought he was replaceable, but he didn’t let Chandler walk to save money. He did that because he wanted to be able to chase Williams, Howard, and Chris Paul, and I am sure Cuban would have no trouble pushing over.blowing past the tax line if it meant securing James and/or another star.


  26. Mud is absolutely right. Being thrifty and gaining profit are related in most of the real world, but not in the Laker world. One of the reasons the Lakers were able to get such a large cable deal, and why the value of the Lakers goes up every year, is because the Lakers have always been a team that was willing to spend money on stars. Jerry Buss was a genius at creating an elite luxury brand we call the Lakers. It is a brand based on stardom, championships, spending money, luxury, etc….. Not a brand revolving around rebuilds, or tanking seasons on the hopes of getting lucky, or being thrifty…..and even the new CBA will not stop this team from continuing to build their brand the only way they know how. Again, we are NOT the Cavs. The new cable deal will help offset the new CBA…in other words, the Lakers will continue ro spend money on stars to build a contender as quickly as possible.


  27. Warren, i apologize for messing up your name.

    money counts, just not the way you think it does. i never said that the Buss family won’t consider the bottom line, but let’s face it, the Lakers’ value is in the winning. they have enough money to spend whatever is needed. i doubt they will purposely throw money away, but i also doubt that they won’t spend money if they think it gains an advantage over other teams.

    why do multimillionaires/billionaires purchase sports franchises? to make money? HA! hahaha!
    a sports franchise is only a good money-making investment to a fool. for a compulsive gambler, it’s something else….


  28. LT,

    People should remember Jack Kent Cook’e role in that. He was the guy who built the Forum, made the unis purple and gold, brought in Wilt, and was owner when the first LA banner was hung.


  29. Okay, let’s see what sort of adjustments the coaches make in game 2. Or, does Miami believe that game one was an anomaly and all they need is more LeBron.


  30. Great post on the salary, Warren! Loved seeing those numbers especially since I’m just way too lazy and bad at math to do them myself.


  31. Warren Wee Lim June 9, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    Mud and LT Mitchell,

    The point Craig and I make is being missed by a mile. Its not that the Lakers WONT spend, the point is we can no longer build teams that old way. Because of the new restrictive CBA, building teams THAT way no longer work. If you wish to have a deep team that has the props to win, you have to now build it the NEW WAY, the right way. I could not care less about Jim Buss buying a plane or if he doesn’t have anything for dinner. Its his money.


  32. mud,

    I challenge you to look at the economics of the GS Warriors purchase by Peter Guber and co. and reiterate your proposition that they were somehow disinterested in making money.

    that doesn’t mean I disagree completely with the notion that the lakers would accept lesser profit to compete for a championship, merely that profitmaking is very much at the heart of the NBA. We see this assume different forms, of course, from tanking (esp in small and medium markets), to the vetoed CP3 trade, to the Spurs international recruiting. No one has the money that Paul Allen has (he’s the 53rd richest man in the world), but look at the contracts on that team and one hardly sees unbridled spending….


  33. who said money was unimportant?

    most owners cap their losses somewhere. again, while it’s profitable, only a fool would buy a sports franchise for the purpose of making money. ball clubs are for bragging and getting young women(if you’re into that. ask JB). it’s not that the NBA is not profitable, it’s just that making money on a ball club is a bad bet(except for L.A. and Boston and New York). even if one turns a massive profit on paper, the chances for disaster are bigger than the chances for smooth sailing.

    serious money making schemes include medicine, real estate and politics, but that’s another issue. no one who makes a billion dollars wants to just throw it away.

    yes, the Lakers will be able to win by spending money, if they wish. salaries will go down to make sense within the cap. the lockout was to force the players to accept less. that mission was accomplished. there will be an adjustment period as the current superstars get their last big payday, but soon the new stars who are born in this new system will be the norm. at that point, whatever team is willing to spend will spend. those that prioritize having a glamorous ball club without really putting too much into it won’t spend and those that are just incompetent will fail, just like it’s always been, or this is how i see it.

    everyone’s an expert, but few know any hard facts. i’ll give you one. regardless of opinions and conjecture, we’ll have to wait and see what happens.

    here’s another opinion. the most important factor beside inside the league corruption(a serious problem, not that that would be a surprise in an operation run by humans that handles billions of dollars) are peaks and injuries, luck. anyone who thinks the Lakers had no chance if they were healthy is foolish. OKC had a chance, if healthy. one injury might have made the difference for Indiana or Memphis or the Clippers. as Han Solo said, “lucky IS good”.

    i know everyone prefers drama over reality, but i’m sure the Lakers will remain relevant, and even victorious, despite the obvious atempt to cripple them in this new labor deal. the effects will be short term, although they may be painful at first. i don’t believe the Buss family will just roll over and die without a fight, even if Chaz is a scout for the team.


  34. I am not among those who suggest a slash and burn approach should Dwight leave. The Lakers and others have shown before they can come back without a total rebuild mode, as rr noted earlier.

    This rebuild would, should it occur, would be vastly different than the post-Magic years or post-Shaq era, however. The 1991-92 Lakers were coming off a Western Conference title, and had added Sedale Threatt over the summer. That team would have been older but loaded had Magic not unexpectedly retired. The post-Shaq era still had Kobe in his prime, and some decent building blocks in Odom, Sasha, and a year later Bynum. Not as set as the post-Showtime leftovers, by comparison, but you could do a lot worse than rebuilding around Kobe in his mid-20s.

    This time… No healthy (or young) star, and as yet no young mid-level talent to entertain us in the interim, like Jones/Van Exel/Divac did in the mid-90s. It could get a bit ugly, but that’s what must eventually happen when you have a veteran roster.

    The key similarity in both examples was the addition of young legs, piece by piece, without sacrificing the ability to win 35 to 45 games in the short term. With the exception of 2004-05, those prior rebuild examples were never on the fringe of unwatchability.

    Not having Kobe for part of next year, and then dealing Pau too? That’s a real risk of putting such an awful product on the floor as to turn off a lot of people, especially with a new TV deal that was signed with the idea of a contender being on the floor for the next few seasons. I just don’t see the Lakers going that route, losing season ticket holders, TV ratings, and young fans to Blake and the Clippers.

    It’s a tough road, either way, but I would favor keeping Pau and hoping Kobe comes back soon (and healthy), and then seeing what other pieces can be added along the way. Going for broke on a LeBron pipe dream or hopes of drafting another generational talent is way too risky. You don’t want to become the post-Bird Celtics or Knicks after Ewing…


  35. Warren,

    Darius already more or less addressed this. You are fixated on the cap, but team-building will still be about elite players. There is no “new way” or “right way”–the new CBA mostly means that guys like Metta and Blake and Earl Clark will make less money, and guys like Howard will make 16-17M instead of 22.

    Also, the cap rules will probably make it easier to get mid-range players cheaply, and to get ring-chasers–like Jamison.


  36. Chris J,

    Good post. I noted those differences, but I would reiterate that Jerry West did not get rid of Byron Scott, James Worthy, and Sam Perkins, who were all around 30, after Magic had to retire. Also, stars hitting FA don’t want to join bad teams. Ben Rosales was fantasizing about a ‘sales pitch’ to LeBron James based on having some guy the Lakers just drafted, like Wiggins. Rosales should remember that the Lakers team the year before Shaq won 53 games. Houston won 44 games last year.

    And I like your point about the Clippers. Imagine a Chris Paul-led Brian Shaw-coached Clippers team, sharing Staples with a Lakers team with a starting 5 of Wesley Johnson, Earl Clark, Jordan Hill, Darius Morris, and Andrew Goudelock.


  37. Warren Wee Lim June 10, 2013 at 2:33 am

    RR, the idea of team building using “logical” salaries are the new way to build teams because its the only way you are going to build a deep team that fits. Sure the Lakers can always run Nash, Bryant, Peace, Gasol, Howard with no bench circa 2012 but you know how that panned out. Next season, if you sport a 100M payroll, that means an 85 million tax roll.

    The restrictions do not just appear in the form of the tax. They can always be paid, problem solved. The problem with the “club” thinking that Mud and LT Mitchell has suggested is that the Lakers, as evidenced in many deals done as of late, have been declining their own free agents and using its own draft picks for teams to absorb the players.

    I will give you concrete examples:
    November 20 2007
    Traded forward Brian Cook and guard Maurice Evans to the Orlando Magic for forward Trevor Ariza. Salary Dump.
    February 7 2009
    Traded forward Vladimir Radmanovic to the Charlotte Bobcats for guard Shannon Brown and forward Adam Morrison. Salary dump.

    February 18 2009
    Traded center Chris Mihm to the Memphis Grizzlies for a 2013 conditional second-round pick. Salary Dump.

    Draft 2009
    Selected guards Toney Douglas (29th overall pick) and Patrick Beverley (42nd overall pick) and forward Chinemelu Elonu (59th overall pick). Traded the draft rights guard Patrick Beverley to the Miami Heat for a 2011 second-round pick and cash. Traded the draft rights to guard Toney Douglas to the New York Knicks for a 2011 second-round pick and cash. Draft picks sold.

    December 15 2010
    Traded guard Sasha Vujacic and a protected 2011 first-round pick to the New Jersey Nets for forward Joe Smith, a second-round pick in 2011, a second-round pick 2012 and the draft rights to forward Sergei Lishouk from the Houston Rockets. Salary Dump.

    December 11 2011
    Traded forward Lamar Odom, a 2012 second-round draft pick and second-round considerations in 2013 to the Dallas Mavericks for a protected 2012 first-round pick and a trade exception. Salary Dump.

    March 15 2012
    Traded forwards Luke Walton and Jason Kapono, a protected first-round pick and other considerations to the Cleveland Cavaliers for guard Ramons Sessions and Christian Eyenga; traded guard Derek Fisher and a conditional first-round pick to the Houston Rockets for forward Jordan Hill. Salary Dump.

    We’ve been selling draft picks and using them to dump salaries in exchange for lesser players in favor of our ballooning costs. These are about the last couple of trades we’ve done apart from the one we did for Dwight.

    Catch my drift?


  38. Warren Wee Lim June 10, 2013 at 2:43 am

    If/when my post above this gets approved, you will see the point I am trying to make. Even with Dr. Jerry Buss in full health, the Lakers have had to deal with dumping players and using 1st rounders to do so. Otherwise they simply sold their 1st rounders. This has been well-documented in our lack of cheap salary players because we simply have not played the draft game for quite awhile now.

    Trevor Ariza was a sapphire in the rough that came out of Orlando’s bench. He was never given a shot, pretty much like Earl Clark last season. He later developed into a pretty good wingman to Kobe. The actual deal was dumping Brian Cook’s 2-yr deal and Mo Evans’ 2-yr deal for Ariza who was at that time cheaper than both of them combined.

    Shannon Brown came with Adam Morrison. Both were bottom-feeders in an upstart Charlotte team that wanted to compete. So they got VladRad’s 2-yr deal in exchange for Ammo’s expiring contract and Shannon Brown’s post-rookie contract. Because we owned the early bird rights to Shannon Brown, we re-signed him the year after. After showing what he could do for us.

    Sasha Vujacic was at the 2012 trade deadline, an expiring contract. We traded him plus our 1st rounder on that same year to the then New Jersey Nets in exchange for a TPE and Joe Smith’s corpse.

    Jordan Farmar was let go. We did not even pick up his qualifying offer so he can be an unrestricted free agent despite his logical restricted status.

    Shannon Brown was let go because he sought a contract that paid him 10 million over 3 years. Not expensive if you ask me, but since we were dealing with alot of excess salary baggage, we had to.

    Luke Walton’s 2-yr deal was traded along with a 1st rounder for Ramon Sessions. 2 birds in 1 stone.

    Derek Fisher’s 2-yr deal was traded for Jordan Hill’s expiring contract. When he showed ability to produce, we re-signed him to a 2-yr 7M deal that will end in 2014.

    All these events are the ones that transpired before we got Dwight Howard and before the new CBA was signed/agreed upon.


  39. Warren Wee Lim June 10, 2013 at 5:13 am

    I made a tax table for those that are too lazy to compute. Might be helpful.


  40. Warren,

    I appreciate the research, but you don’t really have a point, other than something that we already knew: the Lakers have spent a lot of money since 2010 on older players and quick fixes, trying to squeeze another title out of the Kobe era, and in so doing have cut player expenses in other places by dumping/selling draft picks etc. That pattern has been commented on here many times, by many people, including me. But that doesn’t really have much to do with the CBA. The Lakers can keep doing that if they want to. What you don’t seem to get is that the CBA was not put together to mess up the Lakers; that is a side effect. The CBA was mostly put together to hold player salaries down, particularly in the middle class, so the owners can make more money. And it will hold salaries down–including those of players the Lakers sign.

    As to your examples, the Lakers switched from Ariza and Farmar to Metta and Blake because they wanted what Metta and Blake brought to the table on the floor. They wanted Metta’s size to deal with Pierce, James and Anthony, and they thought Blake, unlike Farmar, would be a good Triangle PG. In the new CBA, guys like Metta and Blake won’t get a combined 11M–but they will still be available. They dumped Sasha because Phil didn’t want to play him. They dumped Fisher because they wanted Hill and because they thought Fisher would be disruptive as a third-stringer, and they needed to include the pick to get Houston to do the deal. They got Sessions because they thought he was the fast PG they needed and to get Cleveland to take Walton, they needed to give up the pick.

    So, you are just saying what any number of other people have said: the Lakers need to get younger and more athletic, and need to use draft picks more. That will make the roster cheaper. But that would be true even if the old CBA had been extended, and team-building strategies will not change dramatically. Basketball is basketball.

    Where the Lakers might feel the effect of the new CBA at some point is if they ever again have multiple young stars. But even then, the effect is probably overstated. OKC could have kept James Harden this year if they had wanted to and could have tried to keep him long-term by amnestying Perkins and trading Serge Ibaka. They chose not to.


  41. Fine post Chris J, as rr has mentioned –
    and as for rr…
    you da man!
    Dave M. ,
    Jim Murray = True Heart, Genuine Sports Prose
    Miss you Jim!

    Sure was nice to see the Spurs wilt in the last quarter last night! (I know some of you fellas are backing S.A., sorry)


  42. I put forth holding onto Pau and Kobe in a previous post, and building around them with mid tier guys as thats what is demanded by the current CBA. In previous years the goal was to build up a huge pay roll and then just keep trading expiring contracts for new pieces. Now a more complicated path of staged expiring contracts, high value rookie contracts, with managed cap resets has to be played.


  43. Say Robert, how was that gig in Detorit, man?
    Flea is Bootsy & Billy Cox all rolled into one! and he happens to be my favorite nihilist as well! 😉
    (that´s a film reference, in case the censors take offence)


  44. the goal has always been winning, except at one point after Phil left the first time and just filling seats was considered as an option.

    if winning means spending, then the Busses spent. there aren’t any sure bets. players get injured or have bad seasons or the ball won’t quite go in the hole, or officials do something dirty, there are many things that can go wrong, even if the team does everything right.

    the fact is, the Lakers have been competitive and will probably continue to be. the reason is, that’s what ownership wants and the fans demand. in Charlotte or Oakland, they’re happy to have a team to root for. ownership spends what it must in such cities and then continues to enjoy being in the club.

    it’s not MY theory that sports is about a club, it’s what teams are called, properly. they are called ball CLUBS. it’s not an accident. does that mean money doesn’t matter? NO! i keep saying that it does. just because money matters doesn’t automatically mean that the same rules of business apply to a sports franchise, however. anyway, if you believe the league’s propaganda from the lockout, half the teams have not turned a profit in years. at the same time, many of those teams were happily purchased for a lot of money. too much thinking, i guess….

    it’s laughable that a billionaire would buy a team and then be as small minded about the team’s finances as their fans are about cutting coupons for the grocery store. in the rarified air occupied by those who can afford a hobby like a basketball club, losses aren’t always a loss and profits aren’t always a win, not where figures on a balance sheet that includes ALL of one’s assets are concerned.

    it’s also laughable that fans would have sympathy on an owner’s pocketbook. fans are here to do only a few things which are really all one thing. fans are here to witness and cheer on their teams. it’s only in doing so as a group, that they have any power or influence over the result. surprise! except for the context of their job as fans, their opinion is meaningless, totally moot, hot air, wasted energy. fans don’t know the details behind the scenes, they don’t know the real economics, they don’t know the real PURPOSES and PRINCIPLES that would make a billionaire waste his time with such an expensive hobby.

    any team which has an owner who DOESN’T understand that sports teams are an expensive hobby, is part of what ruins the sport. fans that forget how to root and cheer ruin their team and spoil the fun for the rest.

    professional basketball is grown men playing a children’s game. let’s not lose perspective. it doesn’t matter what any of us fans think, in the long run. we are just prayerfully hoping for the best, or agonizing over the worst. since it’s not a true life or death issue however, even the agonizing is supposed to be fun. how do you think Cubs fans can continue living?


  45. The concept of sports ownership as hobby vs. a legitimate business venture was one of the key sticking points of the lockout. The fact is, the NBA as a league and the owners in general see their teams as businesses and is one of the main reasons they fought for the concessions in player salaries and revenue sharing that would lead to them being able to turn a profit in any given season. Whether fans want to agree with that approach or not is another story, but the owners themselves have taken a stance on this and it certainly affects how teams can operate in the new CBA.

    As for fans “sympathy” towards owners’ profits, I typically take the stance that it’s not my money so I really have no right how to tell owners to spend it. I understand that fans say that “we pay for stuff (tickets, concessions, parking, etc, etc) and that gives them the right to tell teams how to spend their money, but that argument doesn’t really move me much. Plus, the Lakers have proven they’ll spend money to build a contender and that’s enough for me. That said, I do understand that there are mechanisms in the CBA that hit owners in the wallet and that those things will affect how teams do business. So, in that respect, I think it’s prudent that fans understand what those limitations are and keep a certain amount of perspective as to why teams make the moves that they do whether they agree with them or not.


  46. fact is, the NBA as a league and the owners in general see their teams as businesses and is one of the main reasons they fought for the concessions in player salaries and revenue sharing that would lead to them being able to turn a profit in any given season


    This is an owner-sympathetic assertion, not a fact. Another way to look at it is that as superrich guys, owners are used to getting what they want, and wanted to beat the players, even though they were already making money. Unless you are claiming that you have inside knowledge of both the teams’ books and the owners strategy sessions, you have no way of knowing that what you said is true. And that goes for me, too, of course.


  47. rr,
    I didn’t say what the owners believe is a fact, only that they believed it. I know they believed it because they had Stern say as much countless times during the lockout. This post is only one example:

    Also, I’m not that sympathetic to these claims overall and said as much during the lockout. But my point above stands as true. While the owners fought for salary concessions for several reasons, a main one was to reduce their financial commitments in any given season in order to better convert revenues into profits. Again, just read Stern’s comments for that perspective.


  48. As an aside, it’s probably better not to put words in my mouth. During the lockout I was pretty vocal about my displeasure in how the owners went about their business. You can see that in the posts I wrote here during that period. So, when I say “the *owners* see it this way” I mean *the owners*. Probably best to read the qualifiers and act accordingly.


  49. I hate to nail my own coffin, but I was probably one of the most vocal pro-owner guys during the lockout.

    Having said that, if by the statement that owning an NBA team may is a “hobby” people mean that most owners do not rely on their NBA team as their sole source of income, then I guess I understand why people are quick to assume that owners should not be afraid of paying more if it means championships. Surely, guys like Cuban, Gores, Allen and Simon can take a hit in the pocketbook. I guess I buy that in concept, but I frankly think most of these guys got rich by making financially sound decisions and not by betting their fortune on a whim, so part of me thinks that these guys do not view these ventures as “hobbies”.

    On the other hand, when the team is your primary source of income (Clippers), sole source of income (like the Lakers), or a pooled investment (Celtics), I’m sure the word “hobby” is the last thing on the minds of these owners. I’m sure to them, every penny spent hurts and every penny earned is celebrated.

    In the end, neither the owners nor the players deserve our “sympathy”. Both sets signed a hard bargained CBA – so each side must live with the consequences of the collective decision, even if some of their individual parts did not agree on the end-result.