From JE Skeets, The Basketball Jones: Saturday, December 18th was a strange night in the life of Ron Artest, even by Ron Artest’s standards. A group of Toronto artists created an art show celebrating Ron’s career entitled, “Lovable Badass.” And, as if to prove how unpredictable he is, Ron decided to show up. Check out the madness!
From Mike Bresnahan, The LA Times: He still felt pain Monday and said his knee felt stiff during practice. “They tell me it’s just something I’m going to have to deal with,” said Bynum, who had cartilage repaired in his right knee in July. There was no swelling in the knee, Bynum said, a key indicator that it might not be a big issue. In fact, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson wasn’t aware that Bynum was feeling discomfort. “I didn’t hear any report about it. That’s news to me,” Jackson said. “He came out and practiced today. He’s still tiring and that will happen as he gets game conditioning.”
From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: Jackson said he’s pleased with what Bynum has done in the four games since returning to the lineup last week in Washington. Sunday marked Bynum’s best statistical output- 16 points and seven boards in over 17 minutes of burn- but isn’t necessarily an indication of an ability to return to the starting lineup. “I just can’t tell you [when that will happen] until he’s got that kind of bounce in his step that says he can now play 30, 35 minutes,” Jackson said. “Then he can go out, play eight minutes and get into that four rotations that you want from a starter. A couple rotations each half, so that he can have the influence on a game. Right now, we’re content with how we’re doing it.”
From Mark Medina, The LA Times: Although Lakers Coach Phil Jackson remains unsure how many minutes Smith will play (he had zero minutes Sunday against Toronto), there’s a litany of reasons the Lakers will welcome his presence, albeit in limited fashion: Andrew Bynum’s lingering knee issues, Theo Ratliff’s continued rehabilitation of his surgically repaired left knee, Derrick Caracter’s likely demotion to the Development League and never-ending fatigue for Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. In case any of the aforementioned variables exacerbate themselves, the 6-foot-10 Smith’s career averages of 11 points and 6.4 rebounds, his reputation as a versatile forward and center and his ability to hit mid-range jumpers and make defensive stops suggest he could hold the fort and eat minutes so that the Lakers can minimize their frontline issues.
From Chris O’Leary, Slam Online: There’s the selflessness of what he’s doing. Nothing is guaranteed in sports. The NBA title may be the Lakers’ to lose, but they could well lose it. Between injuries, the Celtics and burgeoning Heat and Thunder teams, there’s the possibility that Ron Artest could never win a championship again. If that’s the case, he’d walk away from basketball without the physical fruits of his labors of last season. There’s the breadth of the gesture. In donating the funds of his ring raffle to mental health awareness, Ron will impact lives beyond the realm of the traditional pro athlete. Everyone talks about the legacies of the game’s greats, but with something like this, Ron’s legacy extends beyond the hardwood. Yeah, the story of Michael Jordan getting cut from his high school team is a great one for coaches everywhere to use at their own tryouts every year (”Work hard, come back next year and who knows what could happen?”), but Ron’s efforts will save and/or permanently alter lives for the better. The people he’s helping may never know anything more about him or the L.A. Lakers than that Kobe Bryant played for them, or that they’re basketball players.
From SoCalGal, Silver Screen & Roll: So I’ve been thinking about doing some kind of player profiles for a while now, but I haven’t had the time. Instead, I’m going to start a periodic feature called “Did you know…?” and post some little- and well-known facts about some of our players. They’re not facts that are difficult to find, they’re just facts that aren’t reported regularly. That said, if I post something that you think is incorrect or incomplete, feel free to correct/update at your peril in your comments. This week, I’m going to feature our very own Mr. Intangibles, Derek Fisher. We all know about his family’s battle with his daughter Tatum’s retinoblastoma, a vicious and rare form of eye cancer, which, thankfully, is in remission. But I’ll bet there are some things some of us didn’t know.
Am I the only one who thinks we need to seriously think about moving Andrew Bynum if he misses any more significant time? News that he felt a twinge in the game against Toronto makes me very nervous. Don’t get me wrong, when he’s in the game, we are very tough to beat, but how long are we going to be paying such a high salary for someone who plays half the season and is injured through the playoffs? Just wanted to know the pulse of the rest of the Laker nation.
@#1, without trying to get into trade speculation too much, you just can’t get anyone to replace Bynum.
You don’t need Bynum to get through the regular season that much. But with the team and league as currently constructed, having even a 75% Bynum means the Lakers are better than any other team out there.
Besides Bynum has missed less games each of the last three seasons. I just think it’s unrealistic these days to expect big men of his build to play 82 games. I really think expectations should be 65-68 games and healthy playoffs. If he could do that every single year, he’s well worth his salary.
Looking around the league, just about every big man misses a chunk of games. Dwight Howard is the exception that proves the rule. Even when Shaq was in shape, he missed games. His first three years in LA after signing that huge contract, Shaq played in only 51, 60 and 49 games.
Rudy – I think Big Drew deserves our support this season given how he pushed through the playoffs last year, with injuries, like a true warrior.
Having said that, Drew will have one year left in his contract at the end of this season, which means the FO will have to think very hard about extending his contract. I suspect that unless a high-quality center is available at the end of the season through free agency or a trade, then the Lakers would be fools not to offer Drew a contract extension. The million dollar question will be if Drew deserves to be a max player or not.
Craig W. says
Yes! You are one of the limited few who want to trade Andrew.
Drew doesn’t deserve to be a Max player. I gained tons of respect for the guy for playing through injuries last spring, but other teams would not offer Drew Max money because of fear of injury. He certainly would have a high price tag, and teams would go after him, but he’s not worth $20mill per year, or whatever max players would get in the next collective bargaining agreement.
Lets see how this season plays out bfore we worry about extending Drew. The knee had no swelling, so that twinge that Drew got probably happens to every player in the league. If his knee turns into a canteloupe after four games into the season, then the Lakers will have a value trade issue – whos going to trade for a Big that can’t stay on the court.
T. Rogers says
The state of the NBA is such that even injury-prone big men will still get scooped up. Look how Tyson Chandler is working out for Dallas. They took a chance on him and it is paying off. And you can bet Greg Oden will be employed by some NBA team when Portland releases him. As for trading Bynum, unless Otis Smith wants to give up Dwight Howard I don’t see how the Lakers gain anything from trading him. A decent center is worth more than two wing players not named Kobe, LeBron, or Wade.
Intersting link here. Who knows if Dwight Howard stays in Orlando when his contract is up; if he does leave, wonder where he might go?
lil' pau says
the video of artest once he shows up (about halfway through) @ the art show is incredible. best part is when he discusses his college majors…. the whole piece is pretty great, actually.
Chris J says
Amar’e Stoudemire missed 108 games over the first four years of his career, then missed 29 more in his seventh season. Injuries happen, especially to big men.
I’m willing to discount Drew’s injuries in 2008 and 2009 as freak occurrences; guys step on feet or get run into often in the NBA, and neither of those injuries hinted at something being physically wrong with the guy prior to being hit and hurt.
The more-recent injury is more troubling since it suggests something that will degenerate over time. Still, big men with strength, soft hands and a decent array of moves are hard to come by — and L.A. has one (well, three if you add Pau and LO) with all that, as well as the inner strength that comes from going through the championship process. I wouldn’t be willing to set that aside easily, if at all.
Just imagine if Phoenix had given up on Amar’e early on, writing him off as “injury prone.”
Darius Soriano says
#8. When he said that he majored in Art, but “that was too hard so I changed to Math” I almost fell out of my chair. There will never be another one like Ron-Ron.
Come on Rudy, can we give the guy more than 4 games before he is traded. As far as most Laker fans are concerned Drew gets a pass, it was only 5 months ago that we were having a parade.
Rudy, last year I would have loved to see the Lakers move Andrew for Noah and some spare parts. You know, I thought the Lakers could use a more durable player…
Yeah, that Noah, the one that is out for two months now. Don’t I look dumb?
The bottom line is that no one wants Bynum at this point unless he proves he can stay on the court. And if he proves he can stay on the court – there is absolutely no reason to get rid of him. He will be a huge asset to the team.
I am convinced that for better or for worse Andrew’s health (along with Kobe and Pau’s) is the key to a third championship.
I just think it’s way too soon to be giving up on Bynum. Look at Z, he had all kinds of foot problems earlier on his career but the last several years, he’s played a ton.
Heck even Sam Bowie for all his leg problems played 60-70 games 5 out of his last 6 years in the league. Big men are just going to have physical problems, you stick with them if they have skills and the right attitude. Bynum has both so you just try to work around it.
Darius Soriano says
Game preview is up:
I would think that this last stretch of games, where Bynum’s absense made crystal clear how badly this team needs him, we could lay off trying to get rid of the piece that makes the Lakers an elite team.
Without Bynum, injured and hobbled though he has been, the Lakers would in all likelihood be oh-for-three in championships instead of back-to-back winners.
His defensive presence, shot blocking and altering ability, and the minutes that he can spell Pau and Lamar have been vital to our postseason success. I wouldn’t even consider trading Andrew unless we got an equally big, mobile, and talented big man in return — and those kind of bigs don’t grow on trees.