Archives For

Once again, we have to emphasize that this is a Summer League game.

Albeit a little more sloppy than their game against the Blazers, they beat the Clippers, 78-65, in the same manner they beat Portland. They were all over the place on both ends of the floor, especially with the pressure defense that seemed to get stronger as the game went on.

A few notes here and there…

*Chris Douglas-Roberts recovered nicely from his poor performance from yesterday. He mentioned that he sprained his ankle in the first game, which explained why he didn’t look so good in the second game. But he was out there attacking more towards the basket and playing a lot of point forward for the squad. His passes looked really on point today. He finished with 12 points and four assists.

*Elias Harris (who didn’t get a mention yesterday but not because he was horrible) continued to have energetic play from both sides. He finished with 12 points and four rebounds but his scrappiness seemed contagious.

*Marcus Landry once again had an excellent game, leading the way with 16 points and just did about everything on the court from defending the post to making cuts for easy baskets. It’s looking more and more likely that he’ll get a look from the Lakers in training camp.

*Lester Hudson showed his penchant for scoring again, going for 13 points. Unfortunately, while he has looked good this summer, I’ll once again say that there is simply no room for him on the squad unless the Jordan Farmar deal falls through.

*Once again, the Lakers have leaked out for fastbreaks, which has been a common occurrence this summer. Don’t expect that to happen too much with the current Laker squad (although it’d be entertaining to see Chris Kaman try).

The Lakers have really played a team brand of basketball, with lots of ball movement. Summer League is usually about individual numbers just so they can stand out and get a look from a team but it’s kind of refreshing to see this total teamwork from a Summer League team, especially from the Lakers.

Let me reiterate that it is Summer League. But the Lakers Summer League team looked really good out there as they beat the Blazers, 81-63.

Just a few notes out there.

*Robert Sacre looked really good as an anchor of the defense. He hedged very well against shooters and did a nice job protecting the rim and getting in front of his man. He even had a nice post move against Meyers Leonard that was a bit reminiscent of Pau Gasol. If he can get that jumper down, he can definitely stay in this league.

*Lester Hudson scored 15 points to lead the squad. Husdon’s always had a knack of putting the ball into the basket but he is not known as a playmaker. There may not be room for Hudson in the Lakers but for those other teams that may be looking for a quick spark off the bench (which he has done in his career), he could be a good fit.

*Marcus Landry continued his impressive play, filling the lanes on the fastbreak and doing a good job defending his man. If this keeps up, he could get an invite.

*Lazar Hayward, who has also toiled around in the league, got out on the break and was aggressive on both ends. He attacked the rim with gusto. While the Lakers are running out of room in terms of wings, he could get a look.

*Chris Douglas-Roberts looked passive for nearly the entire game. His six points all came from the line because of his ability to attack the rim but for the most part, he looked listless.

*The team passed the ball around, got out on the break, and played aggressively on defense. Basically, what we mostly did not see in the regular season. Remember, though, that this is Summer League so let’s not try to look into it too much. However, it is a big deal for these guys trying to get training camp invites for not just only the Lakers but for various squads as well.

I was able to steal a few minutes of former Laker player (now Laker assistant coach and still fan favorite) Mark Madsen about his duties of his new gig.

FORUM BLUE & GOLD: Did you always want to coach?

MARK MADSEN: Coaching is something I’ve always had on the back of my mind that I’ve always wanted to do. I read John Wooden’s book, They Call Me Coach, and I loved it. I loved the book and I loved the message. I feel very fortunate to coach with the Lakers this year.

FB&G: What will your responsibilities be as an assistant coach?

MM: I’m an assistant coach and also a player development coach. I’m really doing both responsibilities in terms of helping players develop on the court and also getting involved with X’s and O’s, scouting, and practices.

FB&G: What about the D-Fenders? You were named coach for them, too!

MM: Well, I was named head coach but within a little while, there was a spot that opened up on the Laker staff and they approached me. From within the organization, obviously with the Lakers owning the D-Fenders, they said, “Hey, we’d like you to consider this vertical move.” And I said, “Yeah, I would love to.”

FB&G: How do you like the moves of the Lakers so far? You guys got Chris Kaman and Nick Young (no question with Wesley Johnson since interview was conducted before the Lakers acquired Johnson).

MM: Two phenomenal pick-ups. I know that there are still some irons in the fire, free agency-wise. But I think Nick Young and Chris Kaman are two great pick-ups that have skills that can help us win this year.

FB&G: As far as your playing career went, everybody remembers you as a Laker but what are your memories playing for the Timberwolves?

MM: I had some great memories with Minnesota. Made some great friendships and I feel so fortunate that I had a chance to go up there.

FB&G: Last question, Robert Sacre told me that he’d beat you in a dance contest. What do you think about that?

MM: IF, even IF Robert would beat me in a dance contest, it’s because he’s part of a new generation. They have a little more fluidity in their dance movements. So it’s just a new generation coming up.

We’d like to thank the ever-so-awesome Mark Madsen for a few minutes of his time.

After the Lakers’ summer league game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday, we managed to get Robert Sacre to talk to us about how his rookie year was, what he’s working on, and other things.

FORUM BLUE & GOLD: How would you describe your rookie year?

ROBERT SACRE: I think I’ve seen more in one year than most guys have seen in five. That’s basically how I can wrap it all up in one year.

FB&G: Pau Gasol is still on the team. Chris Kaman was just signed. What are your individual goals with you possibly being the fourth big man (Jordan Hill is still on the team) on the team?

RS: Just to bring a lot of energy and get some playing time. You gotta focus on being able to get on the court by any means necessary.

FB&G: A lot of people don’t look at the Lakers any more as a championship team. Is that what we should look at them as?

RS: No. Not at all. We’re just as competitive and hungry like any teams going for the championship. I think we’re up there.

FB&G: We saw you shoot a couple of jumpers in (your summer league game against Cleveland). We even saw you shoot a three! Besides those jumpers, what part of your game are you working at?

RS: I’m just working on my all-around game. Be able to distribute, pass, and always play defense.

FB&G: Lastly, the Lakers just hired Mark Madsen as the assistant coach. Who is the better dancer? You or Mark?

RS: Me. Hands down. I hold it down with the dance moves.

We’d like to thank the always-entertaining Robert Sacre for a couple of minutes of his time.

While at Las Vegas Summer League, we caught up with Laker coach Mike D’Antoni, who was taking in the Los Angeles Clippers/Atlanta Hawks game.

FORUM BLUE & GOLD: Coach D’Antoni, how did last year’s Laker season compare to all of the other years in your coaching career?

MIKE D’ANTONI: It is what it is. It’s fun, it’s exciting. We just had to deal with a lot of stuff that happened last year. But in the end, we ended the year with a positive note. We’re looking forward to this coming year.

FB&G: Did the “WE WANT PHIL” chants bother you? I know it’s tough to follow a man who has won 11 championship rings.

MDA: You can understand it. You don’t invite it. But it doesn’t bother you.

FB&G: Do you expect Kobe back by the start of the regular season?

MDA: Yeah, I hope so. If anybody can do it, he can do it.

FB&G: As far as Dwight goes, what was your first reaction when you heard about him going to Houston?

MDA: It wasn’t a real big surprise. He just had to make a decision what was best for him. He did it, we’ll move on and do the best we can do.

FB&G: Lastly, I know it’s July. A lot of people seem to be writing off the Lakers. Should we write them off?

MDA: I would never write Kobe Bryant off. Or Steve Nash. Or Pau Gasol. I can understand why they do but that’s okay. You don’t win a championship in July. And we’ll see what happens.

We’d like to thank D’Antoni for a few minutes of his time.

At first, we had this tweet from Daniel Buerge of Lakers Nation.

And then it was confirmed by Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles.

We all remember Jordan Farmar. He came into the league in 2006 with the Lakers as a late first-round pick. Farmar was a superb player off the bench in that surprising 2007-08 Laker team, averaging 9.1 points. He was also part of the Laker teams in 2009 and 2010 that won back-to-back championships. We also remember Farmar wanting to start for the Lakers but he was never able to get the position away from Derek Fisher.

Farmar would spend 2011 and 2012 with the old New Jersey Nets backing up Deron Williams. He played in Turkey last season.

With Farmar’s speed and fearlessness to drive into the hole, he seems perfect for the D’Antoni offense. Except he’s actually kind of a mismatch with the roster since it looks like the Lakers will play one side of the ball in slow-motion. Also, the Lakers need wing players; Farmar is certainly too short to play off the ball. With Steve Nash and Steve Blake on the roster, L.A. suddenly has a logjam in the point guard position.

I’m personally a big Farmar fan and I’m glad that he’s back in the league. While we’re still only in early July, what direction are the Lakers going? They get a third point guard, a speedy one at that, to go with the rest of the turtles on the roster? Huh?

The curious offseason of the Lakers continue.

Well, it seems that the Los Angeles Lakers finally signed a free agent. This had been talked about for a bit.

Per Marc Stein of ESPN…

 

And per Ramona Shelburne of ESPN L.A.

 

Mr. Kaman himself made it official.

Since the Lakers are all capped out, the mini-midlevel was the most the Lakers could offer ($3 million).

You may remember Kaman from his long tenure with the Los Angeles Clippers, where he spent eight years. You may also remember Kaman making the all-star team in the 2009-10 season when he averaged 18.5 points amd 9.3 rebounds per game. After the Clippers, he spent 2011-12 with the New Orleans Hornets and last year with the Dallas Mavericks.

Since the deal is only for one year, this won’t affect the Lakers’ cap space for the 2014 offseason. As far as Kaman’s fit with the Lakers? While Dwight Howard left, a big isn’t exactly a huge need for the lakers with Pau Gasol there. Kaman has a good offensive game around the post and a decent jumper. Here’s his shot distribution from last season.

Shotchart 1373314872218

If D’Antoni intends to start Kaman, I’ll be curious to see how he meshes Pau and Kaman together since both of them can play the post. But if Kaman is signed to back up Pau, which is what I hope he was signed for? That would actually be quite the steal. While the Lakers are getting the leftovers in the free agency bin, Kaman at the mini-midlevel is a very good signing. He still has plenty left in the tank and while Kaman isn’t the strongest defensively, he can still block a shot or two (averages 1.4 blocks his career).

Now let’s see who else the Lakers can get on board in what seems to be a transition year. Need a little wing help, guys.

*Data from NBA.Com stats

The Los Angeles Lakers are pulling out all the stops when it comes to keeping free agent center Dwight Howard. They even have the hashtag, #STAYD12, for this campaign.

The Lakers put up a banner at Staples Center. Then they highlighted Kobe Bryant’s quote about Dwight Howard. There were billboards for him (such as the one on Hollywood Blvd.). There was a photoshopped pic of the legendary Beverly Hills Hotel with Dwight Howard’s jersey on it. And then earlier today, there was this. It’s safe to say that there will be more of this to come.

What does FB&G think of this interesting courtship? Five of us each answer five questions about this.

Did it surprise you that the Lakers went on this route?

REY MORALDE: I am. This is unprecedented. The Lakers, while a very public sports franchise, usually have a quiet confidence in them when it comes to… negotiating with their own free agents. But then everything within the last season has been unprecedented itself with the excessive injuries and the Lakers being buried in the weight of their own expectations. Still, this is so weird to me.

ZEPHID: Absolutely not. At this point, it’s pretty clear that plans A through Y are to re-sign Dwight, and any edge they can get, I believe they will take. Whether it be the billboard, or any other crazy huge sign, the Lakers FO will put up anything that will serve as an attention grabber for people (especially Dwight). Perhaps some would want the Lakers to have an air of superiority when it comes to free agents, given the general expectation that all FA’s want to sign with the Lakers. However, I see no harm in making it clear (abundantly so) that the Lakers want Dwight back.

DAVE M.: Not at all although it would’ve been awesome if the BH hotel pic was not photoshopped. This isn’t about the purity of sports or shame or pandering or whatever some think it is. Wasn’t this franchise built on Showtime? As if management would actually not let their PR staff do the job they’re paid to do?

PHILLIP BARNETT: It did a bit. We’re not accustomed to the Lakers as an organization having to sell themselves to a particular player. With the roles reversed, it’s fascinating to see billboards in the city asking Howard to stay with the team despite the fact that it may seem like a calculated ploy to save face incase he leaves. As a fan, I appreciate the effort from the team as they’re, at the very least, making it seem like they’re doing everything they can to field a quality basketball team — but I am surprised that it had to come to this.

RYAN COLE: I am certainly surprised. All my life I’ve never really known the Lakers to be in a position where they seriously had to sell themselves, as well as the city of Los Angeles to a superstar. I must admit it was pretty strange to see the giant billboard riding Figueroa, but at this point, the priority of the franchise is to retain Dwight at all costs. If this is part of the plan, I like it, as opposed to some Laker fans.

Do you think the Lakers would’ve done this if their free agent was another player (ex. Chris Paul, Tim Duncan)?

REY: Nope. I don’t know of any other star that would want billboards, candies, and that kind of pampering from a team like that. I think if someone like CP3 and Duncan received that kind of treatment from the Lakers, they would be a little freaked out. I do understand this is necessary for someone like Dwight but it just doesn’t feel right coming from the 16-time champs. It’s like Friday night dinners at the Gilmores.

ZEPHID: I think so. It’s difficult to say because this type of tactic clearly plays to Dwight’s indecisive side, since I doubt someone as cutthroat as CP3 or as stoic as Duncan would be swayed by such a frivolous message. However, I have no doubt that if CP3 were a Laker, the FO would do anything and everything to keep him. If they felt a sign would help, I think they would have done it.

DAVE: Sure, depending on the star. You’ve got to tailor your approach. Dwight loves attention, you’ve got to play into making him feel wanted, and wanted by the right people. Personally, I’d put him in a room with Phil. He’s not going to be your coach but he could be a guy behind the curtain. Not that he’d want to stay behind the curtain. Phil likes attention, too. That brings up a whole other can of worms.

PHILLIP: I don’t think so. Howard is one of those guys who seems like he has a need to be needed. He’s shown before that he can be fickle in his decisions, and he can be leaning toward one team today, another tomorrow. If Howard wants to be wooed, the Lakers have to woo him. I don’t think this would have been necessary for other guys, however. Most superstars want to know that you’re going to pay them and build a quality team around them, for Howard, it’s a bit more complicated.

RYAN: I do not, but this is what comes with the territory in trying to retain a superstar like Dwight Howard. He needs to feel wanted not only by the Lakers, but by the city of Los Angeles. Dwight’s image has taken a huge hit in the public eye over the last year, so to assure him that he is wanted is the smartest thing to do.

How would you feel if Dwight Howard ended up leaving the Lakers?

REY: I wouldn’t feel too sad about it. The guy carried baggage from Orlando and it’s tough to be a fan of someone that acted so petulantly. However, I know what Dwight brings to the table when healthy and if he did leave, I would only think of all the what-if scenarios. What if he actually just agreed to be the roll man for the pick and roll? What if he just accepted his role as the #2 guy until Kobe Bryant retired?

ZEPHID: Resigned. As in accepting our fate, not as in re-sign (pet peeve). Without a doubt, Dwight leaving would be the end of the short-term Lakers’ championship window. No way a team with an aging Pau, Nash, and Kobe can compete for a title. But is it the end of the world? Certainly not, because the Laker machine will keep on churning no matter what happens. Some have openly talked about tanking to hit the 2014 lottery (shoutouts to @DrewGarrisonSBN and @brosales12 at SS&R), which in my mind isn’t the WORST idea, but I think it’s a tough one to swallow for those who value winning and effort. However, if Dwight does leave, I see the Lakers FO blowing up the roster, trading Pau and Nash for youth and hopefully picks, making the roster so shallow on talent that it wouldn’t have to tank to get a high lottery pick. Given everyone’s general excitement for the 2014 draft and the ability to go after a big time free agent (like LeBron or Melo), this would be the easiest way to rebuild quickly. However, the only flaw in this plan is it effectively cuts off Kobe’s last chance to get a championship, and it’s difficult to see the Lakers FO abandoning that possibility after all Kobe has done for the team.

DAVE: I’d be disappointed but I’m not sure it’s the end of the world. If anything the past year should show us that. The team needs a system and a direction they can all buy into. Plus overall health. I’m not sure there’s any single element more important than that. Mitch has been finding ways to field teams through challenging circumstances for a few years now. Regardless of the cap, I don’t see him throwing up a white flag and tanking a season. Same goes for Kobe, naturally.

PHILLIP: Conflicted. During his short tenure in Los Angeles, Howard has never felt like a member of the Lakers to me. While I understand that these sort of things typically take time with new members of the organization, it hadn’t taken a full season for me to buy into other free agent pick-ups or guys brought in via trade. Pau immediately felt like a Laker when he was brought in. Same with Ron, Steve Blake and, to an lesser extent, Nash. Howard had this summer hanging over the season like a rain cloud and the Forum Blue and Gold he wore seemed akin to a mirage.

RYAN: From a basketball standpoint, I’d feel sorry for the Lakers next season. Dwight leaving would certainly put the stamp on a lost season, especially with the uncertainty of Kobe’s return date. From a personal standpoint, I’d be understanding of Dwight’s decision and have no ill feelings against him. He has the right to leave being that he is a free agent. He’s not entitled to the Lakers, and should not feel as if he is. The city of Los Angeles is not for everyone, as well as the pressures that come with having to perform in a Laker uniform.

How would you feel if Dwight ended up re-signing?

REY: Hooray, I guess. Again, I would still have my reservations because Dwight can be so wishy-washy. Even if he signed that full five-year max deal, I would wonder how long before he would become unhappy again. But I do think Dwight is a guy that can keep the Lakers on top even if most of the team is approaching Methuselah’s age; at his peak, he can defensively dominate a game.

ZEPHID: Curious. Dwight is definitely the big piece, but a team of Dwight, an aging Pau, Nash, and Kobe is still only an outside shot at winning a championship. It would be after this coming season, in Summer 2014, that things get interesting, as only Nash and Howard (should he re-sign) would be under contract as of now, leaving plenty of cap space to pursue the aforementioned superstars. Without a superstar to flank Howard, the Lakers would then become a lesser version of the 2009 Orlando Magic, which would be a surefire way to tread water but never attain a championship. So pretty much, regardless of what Dwight does, it will be Summer 2014 that will shape the destiny of the Lakers in the years to come.

DAVE: I would be good with it but I also want him to be good with the coach because I don’t think that position changes this year.

PHILLIP: On the flip side to my previous answer, I know bringing Howard back would be in the best interest of the team in terms of on the court play. What he does on either side of the floor simply won’t be replaced by any other (available) person in the NBA, and that’s a tough pill to swallow considering Kobe’s championship window, which is closing at an alarming rate. I wouldn’t be jumping for joy with Howard coming back, but it would give me peace of mind that at least part of Mitch and Jim’s plan for the future is in place.

RYAN: I think Howard re-signing ensures that the Lakers will have a franchise player moving forward, so in that aspect I’d be happy for the franchise. Howard is by far the best center in basketball and there are so many things that Dwight does on the basketball court that simply can’t be replicated, so it’s obvious why the Lakers are taking such measures to convince him to stay. Personally, I’m not the guy that’s going to go running through the streets leaping for joy if he stays, but I’ll be content with knowing that the future of the Lakers is in tact.

In one word, what do you think of the #StayD12 campaign overall?

REY: Tacky.

ZEPHID: Fluffy.

DAVE: Searching.

PHILLIP: Bizarre.

RYAN: Brilliant.