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Wednesday Storylines

Dave Murphy —  July 24, 2013

Summer league is over and now the long wait until training camp begins. The Los Angeles Lakers aren’t in much of a position to do anything splashy between now and then. This is the time of year that used to be an absolute news vacuum. The internet changed all that of course. An ever-hungry beast was created, from hard news to celebrity trainwrecks. Luckily, we have the power of the almighty search engine plus tried and true sites. From money matters that aren’t as simple as previously thought, to injury time tables, Mennonite memories and more, here’s some late afternoon reading on a hot and humid hump day:

Eric Pincus the the LATimes offers a way for the Lakers to avoid the luxury tax this season.

Bill Plaschke from the LATimes believes there’s a decent chance that the Lakers won’t stink.

C.A. Clark from Silver Screen and Roll worries about a premature miraculous Kobe recovery.

The Kamenetzky Brothers offer a new Land O’Lakers podcast, ranging from next years starting Lakers unit to the summer of 2014.

From Kurt Helin at ProBasketballTalk, Melo doubts he’ll be joining the Lakers the season after next.

Andrew Bynum says he hasn’t yet played for a city that supports their team. Serena Winters from Lakers Nation has the story.

There always has to be a Phil Jackson link and this interview by Stephen Rodrick for the Men’s Journal is quite good.

This is the place called the lead-out or the bumper. Themes can be wrapped up neatly, insightful commentary can be inserted or stories can simply be fabricated altogether. Sitting here, staring at the screen. And… staring. It’s really hot out. I took the dog for a walk and when we got back, he started doing something strange with his mouth, like clicking his teeth together. Maybe he got stung by a bee. He’s pretty ancient. Back to staring at the screen. If you stall long enough, sometimes you find a great link to end on. Thanks for the save, Basketball Jones.

Wednesday Storylines

Dave Murphy —  July 17, 2013

Half the Lakers roster exited stage left in recent weeks – one way or another. Just as quickly and with little fanfare, the team has been filling holes on the cheap. Center Chris Kaman nabbed the mini mid-level exception and Jordan Farmar’s overseas buyout is still being negotiated. Gunner Nick Young was brought in as was former 4th overall draft pick Wesley Johnson. Last year’s #60 draft pick Robert Sacre will be back for another year and this year’s #48 pick Ryan Kelley, a classic stretch 4, has been watching summer league action from the sidelines while his foot heals from surgery.

Also on the sidelines in Las Vegas is new assistant coach Mark Madsen, along with Kurt Rambis who’s what you might call an interested party. One spent three years as a Laker reserve power forward, the other invested 20 years in the organization as a player, executive, assistant coach and interim head coach. Each has been away in recent years. Dan D’antoni is running the summer league coaching staff and brother Mike has been keeping a watchful eye on things.

When it comes to the summer league prospects on the floor, a few show real potential for fall training camp invites. In truth however, there may be fewer openings than first assumed – especially given that free agent Lamar Odom is still floating around out there. What will the eventual roster look like? Not dissimilar to other recent Laker lineups – a banged-up Kobe Bryant, a few complimentary aging stars and a supporting cast of role players. Is the pendulum slowly returning to center?

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Friday Forum

Dave Murphy —  July 12, 2013

Metta World Peace is no longer a Laker. Management finally played the amnesty card and that’s how it is. Personally, I think it’s a significant loss. The guy played hard, he played hurt and he’s coming off his best season as a Laker in points, rebounds, steals and blocks. The big question when he first joined the team was his reputation as a loose cannon. Would he bring baggage, distrupt delicate balances, cause divides? The fears were unfounded. The former Ron Artest might have given some of the most bewildering (and awesome) post-game interviews you’ll ever come across but he also had his teammates’ backs. And, he may have put up some shots that were a few cards short of a full deck but he also made some serious game-winners.

Ultimately, Peace was known for his defense. And he’s lost a step, no doubt. Even so, opposing coaches reached for the Maalox when MWP locked down on one of their elites. Of course, there’s the budget and spread sheets and luxury cap and all that. So, enjoy the tax savings next time push comes to shove and a 260 lb raging bull isn’t there to help.

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Wednesday Storylines

Dave Murphy —  July 10, 2013

There’s the rock star reunions that aren’t so cool, y’know the go-through-the-motions and strap on the Stratocaster and yawn your way through some outdated set list from a decade or so ago. And then there’s the reformations that you crave. If Kobe, Pau, Lamar and Farmar somehow end up on tour again, I’ll pay to see the show. If the Machine is on board as well, so much the better. And if Metta can miraculously wind up on the other side of the amnesty period, still in purple and gold? Mad Dog’s already coaching the D-Fenders and Kurt Rambis is in the mix for an assistant coaching slot.

What could make this even tastier? Some white-haired dude in a tall chair with a split-finger whistle? At some point it becomes ridiculous of course, it’s just piling groundless conjecture onto a few actual crumbs. Jordan Farmar did sign for veteran’s minimum however, so that part of it’s real. Plus the onetime caveman from across the hall has joined the band – he was never an actual member but he did jam in the same rehearsal space. Whatever Mitch Kupchak’s game plan is, I don’t think he brings a bunch of old faces back just to tank.

Dave McMenamin from ESPN writes about the signing of Jordan Farmar to a one-year deal. “I’ve been a Laker since I was born” says Farmar. You gotta love that.

In some interesting math mechanics, Eric Pincus from the LATimes asks if Kobe could take veteran minimum in 2014 to help the team. The Lakers would still hold his Bird rights and could then sign him to a max contract for the following year.

Mike Bresnahan for the LATimes writes about Phil Jackson’s humor, the Lamar Odom possibility and bringing the band back together.

Robert Sacre was a very solid #60 pick for the Lakers in last year’s draft. He has now signed for a second year – Drew Garrison from Silver Screen and Roll has the story.

Also per Drew Garrison, if Metta World Peace is amnestied, the Knicks will be his preferred destination.

Brett Pollakoff from ProBasketballTalk looks at last year’s highest NBA luxury tax bills, topped by the Lakers.

Daniel Buerge from Lakers Nation speaks with Roland Lazenby on the Lakers future and Jim Buss.

And finally this. Loren Kantor is a woodcutter/writer from Los Angeles who did a woodcutting of Chick Hearn and wrote about it.


Today being July 10, free agents can officially sign contracts. Of course, much of the deciding has already been done. For the Los Angeles Lakers who carry a heavy payroll, the choices are limited. They spent their mini-mid level exception on Kaman and are now dependent on veteran minimum deals, the league’s version of bargain basement bag-stuffers. The Lakers have often used these deals on older brand name players who never had their chance at a ring. This year, they seem to be looking at another angle, the idea of reuniting players who’ve already had their best days in Los Angeles. A sizable piece of the puzzle would be the return of Lamar Odom. After the events that led to his departure in 2011, I paraphrased the old Thomas Wolfe phrase, that you can’t go home again. I’m hoping I was wrong.

Friday Forum

Dave Murphy —  July 5, 2013

Dwight Howard sat cross-legged at the edge of the bluff, hawks circling lazily through thermal drafts, a winding river below. He was deep into his contemplative flow. A U-shaped phalanx of advisers dressed in Patagonia and Eddie Bauer outdoor wear sat nearby, ultimately attentive. Behind the first row sat a couple junior advisers whose sole duties were monitoring various social media applications and condensing them into whispered one-sentence sound bites for the prime row advisers.

Dwight furrowed his brow. “I’m just not sure. It’s a lot to think about.”

Greek Chorus: “It’s is a lot to think about Dwight. It is a lot!”

Dwight sighed. “I’m not looking to hurt anybody.”

Greek Chorus: “Of course you aren’t. It’s just business, everyone understands.”

Dwight squinted as he tracked a Zone-tailed hawk. “Did we ever hear from Phil?”

Greek Chorus: “That is a negative, sir.”

One of the back row underlings whispered something urgently.

Greek Chorus: “Lakers bracing for the worst, buddy. Bracing for the worst.”

Dwight frowned. “Hey, the purple and gold’s still prominent in my mind.. I like Ellen, Jimmy Kimmel. I like my favorite restaurants.”

One of the less intense members of the chorus spoke up. “We’ll have very nice breakfast after the morning contemplation. Seared rainbow trout crepes with wild strawberry compote.”

The underling whispered frantically again.

Greek Chorus: “Hakeem says 85 percent it’s Houston.”

Dwight cocked his head. “Is that coming from us?”

The members quickly exchanged looks, weighing possible answers. Again, one bold soul spoke up. “Houston’s offering free food, y’know.”

The very tall man relaxed again. Free things were always nice. “I like it here. All my stress is melting away. What d’you think a nice mountain retreat would run me? Nothing real fancy, maybe a post and beam cabin, lots of indigenous stone, maybe ten, fifteen thousand square feet inside?”

One of the tanned and extraordinarily intuitive advisers whipped his head around to stare directly at one of the social media monitors. “Get me some MLS printouts right now, nice glossy pics.”

The underling hesitated. “I can’t print from my iPhone.”

The tanned adviser glared bullets. “Yes you can. Go get the portable printer from the sweat lodge. Do it, now! No breakfast for you.”

Dwight adjusted his position, squared his shoulders and breathed deeply of the mountain air. There was no reason to rush his decision. It was a nice Friday morning and his team had things well in hand. He was looking forward to breakfast. Maybe a nice late morning hike afterward.


Wednesday Storylines

Dave Murphy —  July 3, 2013

The NBA free agency period has only been on the books since the stroke of midnight Sunday but it already seems like an eternity. The Lakers have been busy on multiple fronts, exploring ways to shore up the roster without much money to spend and also looking at ways to hang onto some of our own free agents. One in particular has been attracting a bit of attention – Dwight Howard may or not choose to remain in Los Angeles and will deliberate these matters with his representatives over the long 4th of July weekend. There’s plenty of variables to consider, chief among them being the desire to win. Team Dwight appears to have chosen Aspen, Colorado as the place to get clear.

Among the Lakers’ non-Dwight priorities is Earl Clark: Mark Medina, L.A. Daily News.

Meanwhile, Earl has a second meeting with the Cleveland Cavs: Drew Harrison Silver Screen & Roll.

An outline of Lakers FA prospects, from current to old to new faces: Dave McMenamin, ESPN.

Golden State is right in the mix with Dwight but would need a sign and trade: Kurt Helin, ProBasketballTalk

Why a Warriors trade makes sense: C.A. Clark, Silver Screen & Roll.

True to spirit, Kobe challenged rather than schmoozed Dwight: Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo!

Timing’s everything in pitch meetings: Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’Lakers.

The Lakers focus on franchise, fans, community and branding with Dwight: Mike Bresnahan, L.A. Times.

The Lakers are not about to start tanking if Dwight leaves: Mark Heisler, Lakers Nation.

So this is the part called the waiting game. The Lakers have taken down the banner at Staples Center, and other teams have decided to follow suit, concentrating instead on picnics and softball games. Dwight and his team of advisers will be fully cloistered at a tranquil Rocky Mountain retreat. Just hanging out, doing a little fishing, maybe tubing down an excellent stream. No social media, no cell phones, no pesky calls from annoying team execs professing their undying love. Nope. Just Dwight and his crew, communing with mother nature, away from the world. And this means there will be no further media reports, no twitter, no trade machines, no more speculation. Cue the chirping crickets. Right?

Friday Forum

Dave Murphy —  June 28, 2013

Last night’s 2013 NBA draft went from a changing of eras as David Stern passed on his 30-year baton, to a sharp turn down a rabbit hole. Writer/personality Bill Simmons became increasingly agitated over the course of the evening by news of Paul Pierce & Kevin Garnett being moved from Boston to Brooklyn. Matters were compounded by the Doc Rivers trade to the Clippers which had been eating away at the Sports Guy for days. It’s one thing to be a fan of particular regional franchises, it’s another to let your fandom hijack the proceedings. That’s exactly what happened when Simmons opined that Rivers had quit on his team this past season. Moments later, the quote was eagerly relayed to Rivers by reporter Shelley Smith. The rejoinder was that Doc would “call him an idiot but I’m too classy for that.” The jump-cut back to the ESPN panel was more than a little awkward.

Similar to news item number one, the beating to death of Dwight Howard’s supposed intentions took up a good part of the evening. For anyone living under a rock, this mainly stemmed from a breathless Chris Broussard report which per usual, was attributed to sources close to the situation. I’m not adding quotation marks given that Broussard didn’t bother with them either. No need for a hyperlink here – it was provided yesterday

Threading its way through all of this was an actual draft, although it became increasingly byzantine as picks were traded like penny stocks. Be that as it may, the night went on and at some point toward the end of the festive proceedings came the hotly anticipated #48 pick by the Los Angeles Lakers. It was somewhat anti-climatic in the sense that the pick actually makes sense.

Nicknamed the ‘White Raven’ after his high school team, Ryan Kelly was a four-year man and co-captain at Duke. He’s had a history of right foot problems, causing him to miss the 2012 NCAA tournament. This past season he hurt the foot again and missed 13 games. Asked about reintegrating Kelly into the lineup this spring, Coach Krzyzewski praised the senior’s adaptability and intelligence. The stretch forward returned to drop 36 points against the Miami Hurricanes but ultimately re-injured the foot He made it through the Elite Eight where Duke eventually lost to Louisville. At season’s end he had surgery with a 12-week recovery timetable which brought him right up to draft night. Assuming his foot issues are behind him, it’s reasonable to expect he could be of some use in a role player position. Those who chronicled the Blue Devils likened Kelly to a possible Matt Bonner or Steve Novak-type.

Next season’s Lakers’ roster is far from set. While there isn’t any real cap flexibility, players will have to be signed. The latest news has the team declining to renew contracts on Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock. This comes on the heels of yesterday’s news that Devin Ebanks and Chris Duhon will also be moving on to other pastures. And then there’s the Dwight situation which will be bled dry for discussion until it finally resolves itself (my guess is later rather than sooner). If rookie Ryan Kelly can give us 36 points each and every night next season, we should be just fine. Have a good weekend, y’all.

Just a few quick updates to toss out. As always on draft day, there’s plenty of action around the league with teams maneuvering for position including roster home cleaning. With only the #48 pick, a big payroll and limited trade options, it’s doubtful that Mitch can move up the charts in a major way but you never know – the Lakers war room will be well-stocked with extra cell batteries and bottomless cups of coffee.

According to Silver Screen & Roll, the Lakers declined to pick up the options of Chris Duhon and Devin Ebanks. Neither is a surprise, especially when it comes to Ebanks, a once-promising prospect who fell out of favor this past season due in no small part to his lackadaisical conditioning routine. Backup big Robert Sacre has reportedly received the team’s qualifying offer.

Speaking of SS&R, here’s their draft day template from Drew Garrison with great info and updates.

From Chris Broussard at ESPN, it’s “very, very unlikely” that Dwight Howard will return to the Lakers. This could be a bit of ratchet-up hyperbole on a day when the NBA media blitz scrambles for breaking items but it should at least be mentioned – we’ll see if the story picks up some serious legs.

Draft Express runs one of the top sites and feeds it all year long with great news and analysis on high school can college prospects. Here’s their current mock draft which shows Archie Goodwin at the #48 slot.

Here’s the ESPN GO draft board with the various Chad Ford picks. If you dig deep enough you might be able to find something about the second round. It’s pretty driven by the lottery.

Mike Bresnahan of the LATimes writes an overview of draft day for the Lakers, noting that they’re unlikely to make a splash.

We’ll all keep our eyes and ears open heading into tonight’s Barclay’s Center extravaganza. Add your own links and tidbits in the comments. Maybe the Lakers nab a solid option at the point or swing position. Maybe they sign someone you’ve never heard of before. Always a thrill ride toward the back of the second round.