Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Mavericks

Darius Soriano —  January 7, 2014

The Lakers coming in: The Lakers announced that they waived Shawne Williams today, cutting ties with the veteran forward before his contract would have become fully guaranteed. Waiving Williams opens a roster spot, but don’t expect them to use it anytime soon. The Lakers have long preferred to carry 14 players on their roster as it allows for flexibility in picking up a free agent or in when making a two-for-one (or a three-for-two) trade.

Releasing Williams open up roughly 20 minutes of playing time a night and I’ll be interested in seeing who grabs those minutes. I think the hope amongst many fans is that Jordan Hill and Chris Kaman would get more time on the floor, but I have a feeling the player who sees the biggest bump in playing time will be Ryan Kelly. It’s Kelly whose skill set best mirrors what Williams was supposed to provide offensively and it’s Kelly has already seen a bump in his minutes lately while Kaman and Hill’s roles have either held steady or declined. Further, Mike D’Antoni is nothing if not consistent when it comes to his approach – he wants his offense to flow and provide the identity of his team and Kelly is a guy who best fits the mold of what the head coach wants in a power forward (of the remaining options on the roster).

The Mavs coming in: The Mavs are 4 games over .500 and are firmly in the hunt for one of the bottom playoff seeds in the West. They’ve split their last 6 games 3-3, but have had an interesting run of late by winning on the road while losing at home.

The Mavs are still led by Dirk Nowitzki who, much like the rest of his career, is having a very fine season. He’s complemented by new additions Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon in the back court, while having mainstays Shawn Marion and Vince Carter flanking him as other wing/forward options. Add to them a big man trio of Brandan Wright, Sammy Dalembert, and DeJuan Blair and the Mavs have a balanced roster that can score well in spurts, but can still struggle defensively.

Overall, however, the power of their offensive attack is enough to keep them afloat even in a competitive West. Ellis’ resurgence and return to a more attack oriented player who has turned down taking excessive shots from behind the arc is a major key to this. But so is Calderon’s set up ability as he’s a pass first player who also has a great ability to stretch the floor. And, of course, they still have Dirk who remains one of the best shooters in the league at any position.

Keys to the game: Despite the difference in talent between these two teams, the Lakers actually match up fairly well against the Mavs. The Mavs are clearly better at nearly every position, but when it comes right down to it, the Lakers have players who can at least attempt to guard the guy in front of them without them being at a distinct physical (size, strength) disadvantage.

The key match up of the night, for me at least, will be between Meeks and Ellis. Monta is having a very good season and will find ways to score the ball either off the dribble attacking the rim or pulling up for his mid-range jumper. Meeks, however, has an opportunity to make Ellis and gambling ways pay defensively if he’s able to cut well off the ball and slide into open space to hit his jumper. If the Lakers can keep this match up anywhere close to even, they’ll have a good chance in this game.

The other key for the Lakers will be whether Gasol can keep his current string of good games going. The Mavs have been alternating their starting Center lately, but if Blair starts next to Dirk, Gasol should get plenty of post chances against whoever guards him. Blair offers strength and a wide body, but he’s incredibly short for his position and Pau should be able to shoot over the top of him with his jumper and hook. The key for Pau is to do his work early in possessions and try to get to his spots on the floor before Blair can try bully him off it. If Pau goes up against Dirk, the plan should be mostly the same, though I’d like to see him work more off the dribble in order to get to his spots and set up moves going towards the basket.

Defensively, the Lakers will have their hands full, but that’s the truth most nights. Calderon is a great floor general and with Ellis next to him, expect both guards to run a lot of P&R with Dirk to force the Lakers into their rotations as the big German pops for his jumper while the guards look to turn the corner or step behind the pick to shoot uncontested jumpers. If the Lakers can steer the ball handler towards help while rotating from the weak side to cover Nowitzki, they can, hopefully, stay connected enough to the Mavs shooters to not allow them too many open shots.

The other key defensively will be how the Lakers close possessions. They need to rebound better. The Lakers’ bigs have, for years now, been notorious about not boxing out and instead moving towards the ball and trying to secure it with their length. Blair, Dalembert, and Marion will all chase the ball hard even when it’s out of their area so Gasol, Sacre, and Hill will need to mark their man and the wings/guards will need to collapse to the FT line area and gang rebound. The Mavs are too good an offense to give too many second chance opportunities to so the Lakers must do a good job of cleaning the glass.

Where you can watch: 5:30pm start on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen at ESPN Radio 710AM.

Darius Soriano

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47 responses to Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Mavericks

  1. I guess I see Jordan Hill as a good matchup against Blair. Wonder if we will see it tonight?

  2. Parrothead Phil January 7, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    This goes back to the last thread. A commentor stated that the Lakers MO is to increase a bench/role player’s minutes when they are shopping that player around. This explains why the Lakers continue to play someone (Williams) big minutes despite said player’s ineffectiveness. As thin as the Lakers are, there was no basketball reason to play Williams so often while Hill, Kaman, and, until recently, Kelly were languishing on the bench unless they were shopping Williams around. I guess there were no takers.

  3. I fully expect to see Monta and Calderon have their way tonight.

  4. I’m confused. How does Shawne Williams go from playing as much as he has been to being cut. Makes me wonder if Mitch just decided he had enough of MDA playing the guy and cut him. :/

  5. Makes me wonder if Mitch just decided he had enough of MDA playing the guy and cut him. :/

    From other thread:

    I think they did it to save a little $ and to look at Ryan Kelly and Wesley Johnson at the 4. I don’t think it will affect Hill and Kaman’s PT that much, and I don’t think it would have happened of the team were 17-17.

  6. KenOak: How does Shawne Williams go from playing as much as he has been to being cut.” Well – he does not play guard or small forward. We have seen guys go from Starting to DNP, Starting to free agency, Starting to being amnestied, Starting to trade rumors, and now Starting to being waived. Since the Spinal Tap reference was recently brought up with regard to or PG’s, I will use it on our big men. The only thing left is Starting to Spontaneous combustion during a game.

  7. When I was growing up a thought my little league coach was really smart and had a plan to win.

    When I got older I realized he didn’t.

    I now am wondering if——————-

  8. Meeks is a terrible defender.

  9. Young forgot how to shoot. 3 games in a row.

  10. I really like Sacre’s effort and attitude–but should he really be playing instead of Kaman? Chris is a better offensive player, and I seem to remember that his “at the rim” defensive numbers were actually the best of the bigs….? Plus, I figured Williams’ release would force MDA to play Kaman at least a few minutes here and there. Does anyone have any inside information about this, other than the usual “in MDA’s doghouse” which is obvious–I’m wondering why he’s in that doghouse…?

  11. Kendall not looking good today. As many TO as assists or points. Very tentative out there.

  12. The third quarter has been the Lakers worst quarter of the year. All too often they have slow starts after half-time and dig themselves a hole they cannot get out of. MDA needs to make better adjustments to have the players ready after the break. Looking like at least for tonight Kaman is not getting any of Shawne Williams minutes.

  13. Re Marshall: It’s like any young player that starts quickly out of the gate–once teams get a little film on them they’re able to install a defensive plan that cuts off their successful movements and passing angles, and Carlisle is maybe kind of a good defensive coach a little bit. I expect him to struggle for a week or so, and if he’s a smart player (something he gives every indication of being) he’ll adjust his game and start to put the guys in nice spots to score.

    In the short term, he should do what football teams do when they’re down by a score with less than 10 minutes on the clock: pass to set up the run. Likewise, he should be looking to shoot rather than pass in order to open up passing lanes again.

  14. Out interior defense has been beyond awful during this game, yet Kaman rides the pine. It’s. Layup line out there.

  15. I have to admit something and it’s not easy… Part of me feels a little bit sorry for MDA. He thought he was coming to coach PnR gods Steve Nash and Dwight Howard along with closer god Kobe Bryant. He got none of this and he has to deal with the media maelstrom that is Los Angeles and the extremely hard to please Laker fans. Poor guy.

  16. How can a NBA team game after game look like the have never seen a screen or a pick and roll.

    This can ‘t all be on the players. Can it?

  17. 5 turnover Marshal. He and Young need to stop reading their press.

  18. It seems Marshall likes to whip passes in a fashion that leads to the shooters automatically shooting faders. More action needs to be towards the rim.

    This game is a bag of boring.

  19. This team. With this coach and this defense is a 30 win team. Very few teams they can beat now.

    Kobe and Nash.
    Take your time coming back if at all.

    This team is done. Terrible coaching.

  20. 40 points in 2 games lost by and zero minutes for Kamen.

    $2 million well spent.

  21. If only the eastern conference wasn’t so bad, we may have a chance at that number 1 overall draft pick.

  22. Gary cheer up.

    Lakers have the 7th worst record in the NBA. After the 10 game road trip they should be down to 4th based on the schedule.

    See I cheered you up.

  23. Sacre 3-9 shooting w zero blocks in 27 min.
    Kaman another DNP.

    Really?

  24. the new insanity is continually watching the lakers play and lose expecting a different result.

    in an effort to avoid the malise ensued after each halftime and due to lack of players, the lakers should continue warming up in a singular layup line.

    welcome to the new sanity.

    Get healthy boys. seems like an entire season has passed.

    On to Houston, expecting the same insanity.

    Go lakers

  25. JC – yes, really.

    Why? I dunno – if anybody does know, please post.

  26. My guess.

    Md says after every loss that these are really good guys.

    Maybe in his eyes Kamen is not a good guy maybe it more about Mike liking you then playing the best players.

    Top draft, one of 2 formar all-stars on roster and 2nd highest paid player on the current team plays zero minutes in 38 points of loss last 2 games.

    Why did Mitch sign him then?

  27. Why did Mitch sign him then?

    I said back in the summer that I thought it was a chess move–they either would flip him at the deadline or use him at the 5 if Pau got moved, and since Kaman is a known commodity, I don’t think his value would be affected much by PT.

  28. JB,
    your post at 6:50 is superb
    rr,
    as always, you da man

    As for tomorrow´s game in Houston, hope it ends like the last one…a game-winning 3 in dh´s face (what? I can´t dream a little? ;) )

  29. PurpleBlood,

    Well, I said this afternoon that I thought Williams’ departure meant that Kelly and Johnson would get more PT, and they were out there 63 minutes. Since Kaman’s lack of PT seems to be on a few people’s minds, I will say what I think about his place on the team:

    1. MDA sees the team as having three centers: Pau, Hill, and Kaman. MDA’s actions and words make this clear. Pau is the starter, and Hill is the backup. Since Hill is also a 4 in some ways, they can play together sometimes, but to MDA, Kaman is the 3rd-string center and Hill is the backup center. Period.
    2. MDA sees the team as looking for and needing a Stretch 4. They brought in Harris and Landry. They brought in Williams. They drafted Kelly. They are using Wesley Johnson at the 4. Harris, Landry and now Williams are all gone. So the 4s for now are Kelly and Johnson, with a little Sacre mixed in for defense.
    3. As to the FO’s view of Kaman, I think it is clear now that the FO thought, as some fans did, that this team might, if things broke right, be a fringe playoff contender. And in that scenario, Kaman is a good guy to have around, if you are going for the 7th seed and really want it. He can cover a Pau injury etc. If things didn’t break right, and they haven’t, then Kaman is always a guy that you can move. There are always contenders/playoff teams who need competent backup size, and Kaman is perfect for that–he has a short, reasonable contract; he is not too old but is not young enough to demand a first-string job. I won’t mention any teams due to the site policy, but there are 4 or 5 contenders who could obviously use Kaman on their benches. If I know this, then so do Kaman, Kaman’s agent, and Kupchak, so I expect that The Caveman is on alert to keep his bags packed, and will be moved if Pau isn’t and maybe even if Pau is.

    To be clear, I not saying that necessarily I agree with any of these moves, strategies, and perceptions. I am simply saying that I don’t think that Kaman’s current situation is either mysterious or hard to figure out.

  30. Rr,
    Re Kaman, solid possible explanation for reasons for signing him.
    However, if memory serves, we grabbed Kaman almost immediately after Dwight bolted.
    So at the time it felt like Lakers had made a decent attempt to replace Dwight using Kaman at the 5.
    Yet even that felt odd since once Dwight left, Pau assumed he’d resume Center duties.
    I also understand picking up Kaman as an insurance policy in case they moved Pau or if he got injured.
    I don’t buy signing Kaman just to move him at the deadline.
    Remember, when he was signed, FO assumed we’d have Kaman, Nash, Blake, and (later) Farmar, Pau, Hill, and (at some point) Kobe.
    Management must have felt this would be a fairly respectable team. Adding Johnson, Young and Henry were nice additions as well.
    My gut tells me that management signed Kaman and paid him $3 mil because they recognized the same thing many of us do: that he can play.
    Sadly, none of this explains why Dantoni refuses to play him, despite losses mounting, and tonight, despite the departure of his favorite, Mr. Willilams.
    As much as I love the team it’s getting tough to watch. Perhaps management is gambling that keeping Dantoni’s system in place gives us the best chance at a great draft pick.

  31. rr–If you are correct, then this team is deliberately tanking. Because Kaman has played at least acceptably when he’s had the chance to play. (That isn’t the only evidence I’m relying on by the way–Jordan Hill still at 20 mins or fewer per game is another piece)

  32. Before Kobe’s comeback I praised MDA for actually having the rest of the roster play hard and give it all for every minute of every game. We were floating at .500 and everyone was enjoying the ride.

    I’m no longer enjoying the ride because this team is not doing everything they can to win games. It has nothing to do with actually winning. We could have the same record and see some things improving, like PnR defense or defensive rebounding, or maybe having the coach play the best guys at the best position and actually doing all he could to actually win games. This is either a terrible tanking job or the work of a stubborn FO/coach. Kaman and Hill are our best defensive bigs and they’re not playing. Maybe Jalen Rose is right. And after seeing what happened to Kaman, do you know of any FA big wishing to be a Laker right now? I wouldn’t want to be.

    And most fans prefer to win obviously. Also, most fans are not that uneducated about basketball and actually understand that this roster could not compete for the title. And yet, for some reason, people completely lost the joy in watching a Lakers game. I hope MDA fixes this soon enough, because we’re not getting a top 3 pick.

  33. I am not of the opinion that the Lakers are intentionally trying to tank as far as playing the games are concerned. Nor do I think we should. Meaning the coaches and players should try their hardest every game. Behind the scenes, the FO (Mitch and Jim “could” being having discussions which involve tanking. Further, potential trades can influence playing time and strategy. You could play a guy more to showcase him, or you could sit him to not risk injury as a couple examples. That all said. We were trying to shop Pau hard, he is certainly a known commodity, and yet we were playing him normal minutes. Why? To win more games? But what if he was injured? OK – so with Pau – we are willing to risk an injury leading up to a trade, we play him to try to win, and we do not need to showcase him, but we play him anyway. Let’s move on to Williams. We all know he should never have been playing, but he was. The theory is now that we were showcasing him for a possible trade? So in this case we were not trying to win, because if we were, then benching him was the clear answer. Finally – there is Kaman. The new theory is that he is trade bait and a known commodity (sort of like Pau). However in his case we sit him. Why because he might get injured? Because we don’t want to win? I think it is easy to see all the inconsistencies here. We can retroactively come up with logic, but this is not a logical situation. My version is this: MD does not manage big men very well. His rotations are inconsistent and half of them turn into head cases at one point or another. There is no conspiracy, there is no tanking, it is simply something MD does not do well, and it results in illogical PT situations. Second – the FO does not really have a consistent plan. They are trying to balance keeping the fan base and TW happy, keeping Kobe happy, being reasonably competitive, and possibly tanking. They are trying to do all of that and there is just now way to do that. So – when we won games in the early season, it results in one direction, we lose a few – direction changes, injuries – more direction change. Again this constant change results in illogical actions. Do we trade Pau or keep him? Do we try for the playoffs or tank? Do we get guys who can play now (Kaman) or get projects for the future (Williams)? Again – yes – you can retroactively come up with strange explanations for everything, but sometimes the simpler explanations are the correct ones.

  34. J C, Renato, mindcrime, Ko, R – Good Posts – Everyone seems to have similar questions
    rr: Your post is good too : ) See if I could just get the billion dollars, then you would not have to explain these things, because they would not exist. We would have a clear direction and you would be executing in a clear logical path towards that. Here – you are trying to logically explain the unclear actions of others.

  35. Robert – Very good comments, but you again brush aside the impact of being injury plagued. You insist that we lack direction and are wondering aimlessly, but that is only because you conveniently chose to minimize the impact of the injuries to Kobe, Nash, Blake, Farmar and others or brush them aside as if they should have been fixed by trades, signings or magic. A fair assessment of the team based on these injuries would indicate why the FO has had to switch course during this season. You argue that simpler explanations are often the best ones, so why is the simple explanation that injuries have sidelined this season a bad explanation? Nevertheless, even if you cannot figure out what is happening this season, it seems to me that the Lakers’ well known plan seems unchanged: sign players to min deals, resign Kobe (done), try and get under the cap this season or one of the next 2 seasons, execute trades if they are to the benefit of the team’s long term strategy of the team, let Pau’s contract expire at the end of the season (if he is not traded), focus on the draft, see what free agents we can sign for a reasonable price (this includes Pau), and probably position the team to content in 3-5 years. I know you (and I) do not like the plan – but this is “the plan.” To argue there is no plan is simply not true. Instead of raising phantom arguments, focus on what you do not like about it and offer alternatives. I frankly wish we could immediately content next year, but given where we are as of today, I just don’t see that happening. If anyone can provide a realistic solution, I would love to hear it.

    I agree with you on the Kaman question. However, rr has on a multitude of occasions offered a reasonable, simple explanation for his signing: He is an insurance policy in case we trade Pau. We have not traded Pau and Kaman is a known commodity, so no need to “showcase” him. I suppose the “Dantoni is an idiot” explanation is simpler, but so is the “Kaman sucks” or the “its a consipracy man!” explanation – and while these may be “simpler” explanations, they are not reasonable.

  36. hey darius: same situation, different day, right? let’s see if kamen gets some burn time for a change:

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1915297-chris-kaman-same-sht-different-city-when-asked-about-playing-for-lakers

    go lakers

  37. mindcrime,

    I don’t think MDA sees it that way. I think he simply doesn’t think that it is a good idea to play two centers, or guys that he considers to be centers, at the same time. As I have said many times, I have always thought the “MDA adjusted last year” narrative has been oversold. Yes, he ran some sets that were different for him, but the Pace and 3P numbers are still what they are. D’Antoni is a system coach. He wants to play one true big and four guys who can shoot the 3. Period.

    And, even if they are tanking, I don’t see that as a big deal. Yes, this is tough on the fans. The Lakers as of this second are the worst team in the NBA. Sacto and Utah are both better than the Lakers at the moment, and of course the team recently lost home games to MIL and PHI. Plus, the Lakers don’t have guys like Hayward, Favors, and Antetokounmpo to give us long-term hope. But the ceiling for this group was always low, so losing the upside is not a great loss. The floor is low, too, and we are seeing that now.

  38. What has struck me as odd about the Laker FO is that they seem to be at odds and ends with the very coaches they just hired. I never got the feeling that Mike Brown and management were comfortable together. I am getting that same feeling about MDA.

    I can understand how things would fall off the tracks over time. However, I get the sense that this is happening within months of the most current two hires. Am I off base regarding this?

    I bring it up because if we are ever going to right this ship everyone in the organization is going to have to move forward together. My fear is that the disarray we see on the court is reflective of uncertainty in the FO.

  39. I don’t buy signing Kaman just to move him at the deadline

    WADR, I didn’t say that. I said that they could move him at the deadline if the team was as bad as, or worse than, the prognosticators said it would be. And at the moment,it is.

    Or..if the team were doing OK, but someone came up with an awesome offer for Pau that they just couldn’t reject…then you have Kaman around to cover the 5 and keep Kobe from going ballistic.

    Again: Kaman is a chess piece.

  40. MannyP: Also a good post. Most of my post was talking about he mystery with regard to the playing time and rotations of our big men. You will note that 5 other posters have the same questions, so I do not think I have a rogue view – at least not on this : ) That said – with regard to Kaman: rr is probably correct (he usually is – that is why he is my GM). However this still does not make sense. So Kaman was a back up plan that we no longer need? He is a known quantity. However why not at least play him while you have him. Especially instead of Williams. See where this does not all fit? : ) Moving on to the FO, I have often acknowledged that the VETO (you did not even mention this), and the injuries have been like head shots to the franchise. Another headshot was DH, and this was not all “bad luck”. There have been many other moves that have also been questionable. Names like Kapono, Murphy, the Sessions deal (in its entirety), the third year to Nash, the KB extension, etc.. So it was a combination of things. Nobody could salvage this year at this point. Not Phil, Not Jerry West, and not even if I bought the Lakers and made rr GM. However – you asked what I would do? Well – first I think I have made that clear over the past 2 years : ) However asking me know is like asking me how I would drive after the Lakers have already wrecked the car. The coaching decisions, keeping DH, and KB’s contract would all be different if I owned the team. And as annoying as I am – I think I made all of these clear before, during, and after all of those (Darius is nodding and groaning). However – yes the car is wrecked and I agree let’s clean up the mess and move forward. So – how do we do that? 1) We let Pau expire unless we can fleece someone like we were trying to do. 2) We let MD go at the end of the year. No point in getting rid of him now, but also there is no point in keeping him if we want to go after FA. He is a liability in that pursuit. 3) We trade anyone who has value for picks (Kaman, Young, Hill). We will not get much – but we will get a little cap space, and we can get some sort of picks (Kaman might even fetch a late first). 4) Jim backs off and becomes a less active owner and let’s Mitch run the team. We make it known that Mitch is in charge, as he is better respected around the league, and agents and players will much rather deal with him as the final deal maker 5) We thin out the Buss population in the FO down to a maximum of 2 (I would prefer zero – but hey). This will reduce the nepotistic nature of how everything is done in our FO. Chaz (is he still here?) and any other Jim Buss cronies should also be asked to leave quietly 6) We hire some decent scouts with modern day analytical skills 7) We tell Kobe that we are rebuilding and that we love him and want him to retire a Laker. We do not try to hide the fact that we will not be a contender (I can’t believe this has not already been done – but just in case it has not). 8) We start to figure out who are next coach is going to be. As you and I discussed, the field is thin now. If we do not find him this year, we name Rambis as a one year interim coach 9) With Jim out of the day to day picture – we make up with all of alumni. We add Kareem to the coaching staff. We bring Magic back as a consultant. We agree with Shaq not to mutually make fun of each other 10) We start acting like Lakers again (see #4).

  41. Injuries: I think we need to see the injuries to Kobe and Nash as part and parcel of the basis on which the team was constructed. The injuries to Blake and Farmar have hurt some, but again: this team had a low ceiling.

    Robert,

    I think there is some truth to what you are saying; one reason the analysts were so down on the Lakers was that they saw a directionless team constructed to go 35-47. But at the same time, doing some of the stuff that you want them to do is not that easy. Trading Pau is hard due to the difference in his value and his salary and the salary matching rules. Williams was on the team because MDA likes him and wants a 4 who can stretch the floor. He is off the team because the team isn’t going anywhere, he wasn’t playing well, and the team wanted to save a little money and open up a roster spot. But, as noted by Darius and others, the team’s on-off numbers were OK with Williams.

    Also: we are talking about Chris Kaman. This is not Kevin Love riding pine here. And maybe–maybe–they can get something of value for him. And yes, MDA does not seem to manage bigs well.

    And, yeah, I think MannyP is basically right about the “plan.” I don’t think it is a particularly good plan, but I think that is more or less what is going on.

  42. We were trying to shop Pau hard, he is certainly a known commodity, and yet we were playing him normal minutes. Why?

    Because he’s the center. See, I don’t think that MDA thinks that sitting Hill and Kaman to play Williams and Kelly and Johnson at the 4 is flushing games down the drain. Some fans here think that, but MDA thinks that is the best way to run his system with the players he has, and he thinks his system is the best way to win.

  43. @rr

    See playing Williams, Johnson and Kelly above Kman and Hill can be explained with MDA’s system… but playing Sacre over those two at the 5… that just seems weird.

  44. He is a liability in that pursuit.

    This is the big question,or one of them, and you may be right. But at this point, we don’t know this for sure. Each FA is a different guy. Love may love MDA for all we know.

    YOU can’t stand D’Antoni, but you are not a free agent.

  45. Some people think Sacre is better in the PnR on D and on O than the other two are. But, I think that is being done in part because we know that Sacre will be here next year.

    Also, I expect that Sacre practices harder than Hill and Kaman do, and that may be in play as well.

    I am not saying that I think this is a good idea. I think Sacre is a 12th man.

  46. Good post, Robert. I don’t agree with all of it, but it is a good post.

  47. Robert,

    Great post. Regarding #7, I have to believe the FO has spoken to Kobe many times about the future. I know that Aaron has posted a few times with his conclusion that the FO is tanking, which means either Kobe knows and is ok with that or Kobe does not know. I have to believe Kobe knows and tacitly approves, which means he understands the next two years are about what — his recovery and personal stats? Would Kobe accept that future? Would he sign for additional years once the re-build starts to bear fruit?