From Mark Medina in an interview with Joe Bryant, LA Times Lakers Blog: The rest of Kobe’s career obviously centers on how he will try to find a way to play through the mileage and injuries. What’s your assessment on how he’s been doing that? You can’t put it on age. All players have injuries, even young players have injuries. You learn to deal with pain and you learn how to understand your body. You also understand your game. When you’re a student of the game, a lot of players rely on their athleticism. Once you get older and their athleticism is not there, then you don’t know how to play. But Kobe knows how to play and understands the ABC’s of the game. He understands the scouting report and how players are going to play and he understands his teammates. When you understand the game, it goes back to playing chess. You know how to move the pieces and you know how to move the ball. You’re not going to run as fast. You’re not going to jump as high. You have to pick your moments. The great example when he picked his moment was the playoff game when he went down the middle and dunked, the one he had against [New Orleans center Emeka Okafor] in Game 5 of the first-round series. That was checkmate. He’s a warrior and understands the game. All players have injuries. It’s part of it and how he can manage it. He’s been doing a good job with that. Nobody is going to run and jump [like] when they were 18 or 19. It’s impossible for people to think that. As long as he’s enjoying the game and keeps the two seven-footers [Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum], I still think he has three, four or five more years to play at a high level.
From Mike Trudell, Lakers.com: Since he was announced as the new Lakers coach on June 1, Mike Brown has been traveling back and forth from Cleveland, preparing to move his family to Los Angeles, and tying up loose ends. Among his primary tasks in the meantime? Building his coaching staff. “There’s been progress,” said Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak. “We communicate daily, and a lot of times he needs a quick answer. Sometimes it’s me giving him names of people who call me, sometimes he’ll call and say he’s thinking of interviewing a certain person. I do know that he intends to interview several candidates to be assistants in person in the next week.” Since getting the gig, Brown has been contacted by what Kupchak estimated as around 100 coaches looking to be considered for his open coaching slots. Accordingly, Brown has filled two or three pages in a yellow pad full of names and phone numbers in advance of a decision Kupchak maintains will be very much Brown’s. “I’m not going to have too much input unless there’s a red flag,” said L.A.’s GM.” Some of these people are under contract with other teams; because of all the coaching changes, some of these people have had chances to go someplace else. It’s kind of a revolving list. He’s pretty confident in what he wants, and he didn’t come into this (blind). He’s just working down the list.”
From Saurav A. Das, Silver Screen & Roll: Caracter was indeed passable in the playing time he did receive, putting together rather impressive per-36 numbers of 14 points and 7 rebounds, coupled with a less-impressive 48.5% eFG; though his defense did leave something wanting. He showed a decent capability to find his own shot, even over larger opponents, although his lack of size did inevitably lead to some issues. He was willing to chase down rebounds and use his body, which somewhat compensated for his lack of height in giving him a decent (for a 6’7″ rookie) 11.3% Total Rebound Rate. He was, however, foul-prone, with a rate of 8 fouls per 36 minutes, obviously not something conductive to receiving greater playing time. And playing time did prove to be an issue: despite Bynum’s absences and Pau’s exhaustion, Caracter invariably only received absolute garbage time (even less so than would be expected, due to Phil’s irritating habit of playing Pau late into blowouts); with Phil instead preferring to push his starters to play extra minutes or opt to play small-ball with Artest or Walton at the 4. It’s unknown how much of this refusal to give Caracter minutes was warranted, and one must respect the Greatest Coach of All Time’s judgement, but I cannot help but feel that this serves as an example of rookie bias. Pau was getting burnt out, Andrew was often injured, and Phil often preferred playing the likes of the useless Luke Walton or the ancient Joe Smith or Theo Ratliff ahead of Caracter, a mystifying move to be certain. Caracter was even inactive for much of the season, sent to the Lakers’ D-League Affiliate for the season, the Bakersfield Jam. This, coupled with Ebanks’ similar lack of role, does indeed suggest that the rumours of Phil having an anti-rookie bias are true.
From Jonah Freedman, Sports Illustrated: Uncertainty. That’s the key theme in SI.com’s eighth-annual compilation of the 50 top-earning American athletes by salary, winnings, endorsements and appearance fees. Being on top of the Fortunate 50 has never been so tenuous. Perennial No. 1 Tiger Woods still reigns for the eighth straight year — barely. His quickly shrinking earnings have never been lower on our list, nor has he ever been this close to surrendering his once insurmountable lead. As Woods’ personal life and game have seemingly fallen apart, he’s also seen most of his sponsors desert him, too. Meanwhile, big question marks loom over the other big names on the 50, as labor strife in the NFL and NBA threaten the future paychecks of their players. Between Tiger’s near one-third decrease in total earnings all over sports, the average earnings of the athletes on this year’s 50 is $24.3 million, down 7 percent from 2010. In all, the 2011 list features 19 NBA players, 17 baseball players, eight NFL players, three NASCAR drivers and three golfers.
From Howard Beck, The New York Times: The process now comes down to a single meeting and whether the parties can make enough progress to justify further sessions. If a new labor deal is not adopted by June 30, the owners will impose a lockout that is expected to be lengthy and costly. “It’s just important because of the substance of our conversations today,” Stern said of Tuesday’s meeting, “and because time is running out, and because both parties still remain, at least to me, intent on doing the best they can to make a deal before June 30.” Asked if a breakthrough was critical Tuesday, Stern said, “Yes, yes.” Asked if he would know by the end of that day whether a lockout was likely, he again answered in the affirmative. As players and owners dispersed for the weekend, the gap between them remained massive — more than $700 million, by one measure. They also remain at odds over the fundamental structure of the league’s economic system. The owners are pushing for a hard salary cap and the players are lobbying to retain the soft-cap system that has been in place for nearly three decades. “We’re not asking for anything in addition to the things that we’ve negotiated some 10, 15, 20 years before now,” said Derek Fisher, the president of the players union.
From Ric Bucher, ESPN The Magazing (From May 2002): Says Horry, “From the moment my daughter almost didn’t even make it, I realized you can’t control what life hands you. I used to get nervous before that. Excited nervous, like gimmetheball-gimmetheball-gimmetheball. Hey, I love what I do, and it’s important in a sense, but not compared to my family. It’s just a game.” The lesson might have faded if Ashlyn merely had had a difficult birth instead of a missing chromosome that means she may never speak or walk unaided or discard her feeding tube. An absent chromosome that turns every simple cold into a life-threatening ordeal. It might be different if Horry didn’t live and work most of the year 1,500 miles away, limiting him to no more than hearing Ashlyn’s labored breath over a phone during the NBA season. Hearing his wife, Keva, describe the latest Horry trait displayed by his healthy 3-year-old boy, Camron, keeps life’s fickleness front and center. Take a shot to win or lose a game? Bury the game-winning three against the Kings with 0.2 seconds left? He knows that’s just the right time, right place. After back-breakers against the Blazers and Spurs earlier this postseason, Horry was so grateful to have something within his control he said to Kobe afterward, “Thank you for trusting me.” He’s said that to a teammate after every clutch playoff shot he’s made. If anyone knows it’s impossible to accomplish anything alone, it’s Horry.
dave m says
I freely admit to being critcal of Brown’s hiring, along with other management decisions. And, I may still feel that way in the future. Right now though, it’s good to read Trudell’s article and to know that Brown’s looking at so many candidates to fill the asst. slots. How great would it be to peruse that yellow pad to see all the names? I find stuff like that fascinating.
I feel awful for Big Shot Rob. I had no idea that he has been dealing with his daughter’s health issues since the threepeat days.
Off topic: Today, at the Drew League in Los Angeles, Kevin Durant, Wesley Johnson, Demar Derozen, Michael Beasley and Austin Day all played on the same team. Recently, Joe Smith, Shannon Brown and Steve Blake played games in the league! The games are free and a lot of fun!
Out of all of the articles above, the one about Robert Horry will stay with me, I am glad you decided to include it. And, Chearn, nothing is off-topic this time of the year.
So all this talk about Dirk being an all time great player makes me want to stab myself in the eye with a dull plastic knife. Does everyone forget Dirk is an absolute atrocious defender? That other half of the game still maters people. The guy can’t defend or rebound. He plays 1/3 of the game very well. When he was a great athlete ten years ago he could play a little defense and rebound. I would say he was great back then playing a SF type role with nice athleticism to go along with all the skill and length.
dave m says
#5 – I guess all the more respect for the bad news bears’ win in the finals then, no?
Re: #5 – I tend to agree with Aaron on this matter (an amazing development!).
The scary truth is that even LeClueless James will be rehabilitated if and when he wins a few of the right games sometime down the road.
Edwin Gueco says
On S. A. Das of Silver Screen comments on the greatest Coach of all time, indeed it’s hard to imagine the biases and favoritism in playing players. Rookie development is not in PJ’s mojo and yet he embraced slow footed Walton and Fisher. They (He & Mitch) really missed the opportunity to fill the needs of the Lakers. They gambled on Blake who made respectable strides at the first half but still slow to catch up with the speedy PG’s. We were all sold to the concept that the triangle does not need a traditional PG, OK we agree with those myth and lies but not to the point of depending to an old, slow and poor shooting PG’s. The triangle still need shooters at the perimeter to make the inside-outside work. We got an injured Bynum at opening of the season, a rehabbed Kobe too, yet Mitch never made any improvement in the mid season. He traded Sasha for money, similar to the other 2nd draft picks for money. He believes Lakers have enough manpower to compete for 3peat. Well, both were proven wrong, injuries and aging were really the reasons why Lakers lost the season and the playoffs. Will history repeat itself in 2011-12 short season? Who will be the four 2nd draft picks on Tuesday? Will they be sold again for nothing? Will Jim Buss play favorite on his often injured Drew incase Lakers get a call from Orlando or NO? Will Mike Brown make stand on what he wrote on the yellow pad based on what he needs, than what FO decides? Is Mike Brown a principled Coach or another Yes-Man? I think those are the concerns of Kobe why he refuses to comment on the coaching change? It is really hard to be a Laker fan nowadays, not because we didn’t reach the Finals but there are just so many questions unanswered. Well things have changed, fans don’t have anymore Chick Hearn or Jerry West in the hierarchy. We just have to accept Jim Buss of what he is, and trust Mitch’s remaining basketball wisdom.
Craig W. says
Man are you a master of doom.
There are 29 other teams in the NBA and the Lakers don’t dominate like the Celtics did in the 60’s. We don’t have any exclusivity of all the good – or bad – ideas or players.
Looking at the Lakers since the early 60’s there have been a number of years where we could complain about management and coaches – see “Butch” van Breda Kolff – but overall this has been a fabulously successful franchise.
I prefer to think we have a good future, not a complete waste dump ahead of us.
Edwin Gueco says
There is optimism in that doom. I’m positive enough to say that many Laker fans share that kind of feeling. You have to live with today’s realities than be satisfied with mainstream average kind of thinking, if you consider Lakers to be always at their best in competing for Championship, then always aim for the best.
If you disagree, then it’s healthful to agree to disagree than being conclusive and judgemental in labeling one as a doom poster, here a great quote from Robert Kennedy:
“There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why… I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”
Gabriel R. says
I can see that extreme point of view. I don’t agree fully though.
Not everything the Lakers do is perfect.
The problem stems from the ever present dilemna of win now or try to *possibly* win later.
The Lakers of the 2000s through Mitch and Phil have been a win now type team. A little short-sighted but the results speak for themselves overall. Any owner would follow that philosophy.
I think the thing about this period of the Lakers is that if they are convinced this is still a championship level team, then they have to do the best of both worlds while implementing a new style of play and coach.
They have to ensure they can compete at that level and try to bridge that eventual gap of Kobe’s retirement to the next dynasty.
They have to make sure and not have a dramatic dip like the Bulls did after their last dynasty crumbled.
Start drafting 1s and 2s that might have potential to replace Kobe and whoever else’s spot.
That’s the key. Because the celebs won’t pay for a Bulls type collaspe and that’s not Lakers basketball.
I believe the team still has a ring or two in them.
But when it’s all said and done, money talks…..
#3: Did you persuade any of those young fresh legs to join the Lakers for next season? I’d gladly take Derozan, Wes Johnson or even this Durant guy.
#5, even if I probably shouldn’t: in the last decade, Nowitzki has averaged between 7.0 (this season) and 9.9 rebounds (02/03) per game. The decline in his last few seasons is right in line with his decline in minutes per game and a slight loss in athleticism as he ages. In my opinion, he is a solid rebounder for his position. Far from great, but far from bad either. (The per36min stats suggest the same development: http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/n/nowitdi01.html)
He’s not a great individual defender by any measure. His help defense is also not the best. Still, whenever he is on the court, his team is a lot better than when he is on the bench. Most of that is his offensive skills, but he was also credited by his coaching staff as being a great communicator on defense, shouting out opponents’ plays and helping his team be well-prepared for what they are about to face.
It’d be interesting to try and name the legitimately great two-way players in the league today (Do the Lakers have one? Kobe isn’t quite top-notch any more defensively, Bynum isn’t there yet offensively in my opinion). Wade and LeBron are on that short list. Of those two, Lebron is lacking in mental aspects that make players great (at least to this point in his career), aspects in which Nowitzki excels. So to say that he only plays 1/3 of the game well is quite an over-statement.
And we haven’t even talked about the fact that Nowitzki doesn’t miss games, how his team has followed him throughout these play-offs, how he took 2,5mil $ less this season compared to last so that the Mavs had more to invest in other players (see the above link, scroll to the bottom), how he sets the standard of hard work in a similar way that Tim Duncan does, holding teammates accountable but always deflecting praise, setting the culture of the Mavs.
So to sum up, I think you are greatly underestimating what Nowitzki brings to a team.
Rusty Shackleford says
I just got back from New Orleans last night and those people at the IHOP are A-holes.
Edwin Gueco says
I don’t mean to be extreme at the stewardship of Mitch and PJ. Overall, they did a good job from 2000 to present although the first Championships were really the works of West. However, along the way there were some missteps committed, perhaps the abrupt trading of Shaq, the decisions made afterwards i.e. the signing of Kwame, Smush, etc. from ’05 to ’07 which I consider waste of time of Kobe, yet Mitch proved he could redeem himself at the start of ’08 season. Unfortunately, last season was a *rare* opportunity given to any team, much more so, a rare parting treat for the 11-ring Coach to get four 3peat. It is difficult to have another 3peat opportunity, what I was saying we did not have the *energy* players to compete in the end, we all saw it manifesting during the season and results were unkind to us during the playoffs. Many fans consider the signing of Josh Smith as a mistake, what we need after Sasha was an able PG. Towards the end of the season, we saw Kobe’s strength disappearing, Lakers did not fill up 14th and 15th slot to replace injured players, (Kobe, Ebanks, Ratliff) well Trey Johnson played for few games but he was not exposed during the season so there were some uncomfortable performance in the extended stay. It is also possible that he’s not yet seasoned to check CP3.
As you said many celebs will not allow Lakers collapse like the Bulls after PJ, perhaps as avid fans that is what we are really saying – we don’t want the lakers to be a forgetful team. There are so many chatters going on, on what will be Lakers move on Tuesday? Will they go for Minny, GS or Cavaliers players? Then, there is a chatter from Dwight’s plans, “I’m not renewing my contract but I prefer to stay in Orlando because of no state taxes.” On the other hand, we all know that Dwight’s fiancee resides here in LA. As such, Gabriel there are so many ways looking at the Lakers in the future, Mike Brown, Jim Buss are main actors, it really takes time to get used to their ways and mojo. Are they aggressive or complacent, this is uncharted new territory for us? We want to get excited and jump high but how high at this time?
Craig W. says
Your response to Gabriel R. was an extremely dense paragraph – reading wise – however, you really have to put history into a perspective of what was needed at the time.
Today Pearl Harbor looks pretty dumb, but at the time the isolationist fervor in the U.S. and our governments’ harassing of the Japanese shipping lanes – the lifeblood of Japan – practically invited this kind of attack.
In 2004 Shaq had really publicly called out Jerry Buss, demanded to be traded, proved he wouldn’t get in physical shape for the Lakers; plus the Lakers had to decide and do something before Kobe’s contract was up and he signed elsewhere. A year later the Lakers sorely needed a big body and Caron Butler was slotted to play in Kobe’s position and therefore wouldn’t be offered anything like the contract he got from Washington.
This is only one set of conditions. We fans have the advantage of 20-20 hindsight, but we are almost never right when forecasting the future. This is why I prefer to defer to the opinions of a front office that has been surprisingly correct much of the time.
Of course we all have our favorite trade scenarios, but we shouldn’t automatically assume Jim Buss and Mitch are short sighted or lack intelligence.
#13) Really? KB#24 is not a top notch defender? Funny someone forgot to tell the All-NBA Defensive team.
Why don’t you get off of Dirk’s coat and realize that in KB#24 we have a player who when it all said and done might be the GOAT. A couple of more championships and it will be a legit argument.
Also, people in the future will look back at the career of KB#24 and realize how truly great this guy was and how under appreciated he truly is. The fact that he only has one MVP trophy is a travesty in itself….Really? Steve Nash and Lebron with 2 of them and KB#24 who has been to the NBA promiseland 8 times only 1.
Oh yeah…Dirk doesn’t miss games becuz “Dirk doesn’t do contact!” I have lived in Dallas since ’95 and this was the first playoff run where he showed some heart.
He is a great offensive talent and a good rebounder but his defense is non-existent…again check the tape…Dallas zones it up a lot.
Kaifa, @13) It would be nice if the Lakers could get one of those players, huh. Not likely, though. They are playing for paydays, at this point in their career. I know that Pooh Jeter is fast/quick, shoots the three but I’m no sure about his defense.
Today’s games at the Drew League featured Tyreke Evans. The games are free! This season has seen Andre Miller, James Harden, Russel Westbrook (in the crowd), Rapper The Game, Kevin Durant, Shannon Brown, Joe Smith, Steve Blake (did not have an NBA player outing and was outplayed, he needs to go back and redeem himself), DeMar DeRozen, Wesley Johnson, Michael Beasley, Pooh Jeter (Sacramento Kings), and Dorrell Wright. Ron Artest is scheduled to play there this summer.
Edwin Gueco says
Just came back so I could answer your post.
This will be a lonely blog, if everybody will have only one opinion. You put a lot of your trust on the FO while you consider my views as Monday quarterbacking. Perhaps, we don’t know each other that much so our philosophical outlook are muddied and have not really known our stand.
I respect the way you looked at the Shaq’s departure but I have a different point of view as well. It was not either Kobe or Shaq, but it could have been remedied by a cool negotiator GM. If I remember right, in ’00 Championship Kobe and Shaq were already on a war path, cooler heads like JW intervened and pacified everything that led to first Championship. A cool negotiator and an independent GM could have *calmed” Jerry Buss, Kobe, Shaq and also Phil Jackson. This is where I invest my optimism by laying down to these strange fellows what it at stake and what are the realities You say it’s too late but I say how do you know when it was not tried at all? Again many Laker fans could not really understand what happened at that time, why is there a need of a break up? We were all put in a situation where we have to choose between good and evil.
Again, granted there was a firm decision to break up, I say *even at that time* (to AK, BK and Mike T. if you know these bloggers) it was hurriedly negotiated in getting Odom, Butler and Grant. Grant was a huge baggage due to those known knee injuries and hefty contract, many fans were asking why not D’Wade and Odom or Butler? We didn’t pressure Riles, it was vice versa, he scared us of losing Kobe. We need a diplomat in those situation not an angry CEO. You are trading the best Center in NBA, the power was on Lakers court. This is another area of conflict in our views and opinions, you say that’s the only option, I say if we tried there could have a better option. You can’t negotiate when you are angry and disgruntled. Most arbitrators at Superior Courts have cooler heads and independent minder who try to paint a rosy picture where everybody wins.
In the end, you said that I assumed Mitch and Jim Buss are short sighted and lack of intelligence. perhaps we again disagree on historical perspectives. I will go back to the rant of 2007 by kobe, it was all about Jim Buss and Mitch’s choices of players that surrounded Kobe. I am not assuming but trying to recall what happened in the past. i have read somewhere that the Lakers in 2012 and 2013 are in a dicey situation, it is either the Lakers are still competing for Championship or the team will break up starting w/ Kobe who may request to be traded. Look at the various angles based on historical relationships, is this not possible? Therefore, is it not fair to ask whether Lakers are in developmental stage or competing for Championship?
Craig W. says
You are right about there being more details about the 2004 breakup. However, it is impossible to describe all the little occurrences that went on. Suffice to say, Mitch had only several weeks to make a Shaq trade.
Your comment about Jerry West being a good mediator would have been a good idea, except both Jerry Buss – in the late 90s – and Phil Jackson – immediately upon his arrival – began to sideline Jerry West. West was pretty much unable to watch the games at that time and Phil definitely wanted complete control of the team. It was Phil’s decision to curry Shaq’s favor and come down hard, and publicly, on Kobe that brought their ‘incompatibility’ dynamic to the forefront; Kobe and Shaq both had gigantic egos, but Shaq’s was in an eggshell and Kobe’s was tough as nails. It was also – to be fair – one reason they may have had so much success. However, this also meant their playing life together would be short lived. All this played into 2004 and I doubt Jerry West could have changed this at that time – had he stayed and lived (I suspect he would have had medical problems, going on the way he was).
As the lone superstar on a championship team, Dirk deserves the props he is getting. Dallas’ team defense was quite good against the Heat-witness the spectacularly awful shots and offense the Heat played in the 4th quarters. If Dirk isn’t a solid individual defender, he is yet a competent piece of a championship team’s defensive scheme.
And on the offensive end, he outshone Wade and Lebron. Contrary to popular opinion, offense wins championships.
He’s an all-time great player. That debate was over for good when the buzzer of game 6 sounded.
Edwin Gueco says
I just believe that Jim Buss should be a conciliatory owner and start a conversation with Kobe, like what Mike Brown did in two occasions. I also believe that Mitch Kupchak after this draft should involve Kobe in the dynamics of what Lakers are doing. After all, he is your franchise player who devoted his basketball career to the Lakers from 1995 to this year. If he was omitted in the coaching change, at least include him in the grand plans of the Lakers. It is unhealthful to go on cold war with Kobe asserting employer/employee relationship. I also believe that we should retain our triple towers to our advantage, however if there is an enticing opportunity on the table, then I think Mitch is intelligent enough to evaluate athleticism and cost effectiveness. When people are open to each other, it promotes understanding and harmonious relationship.
I’d like to describe that relationship to an analogy of a great boxer that he was given a challenge with some unusual conditions – that he will only fight if they put apples in his armpits. If any apple drop, he loses. As such, he could only strike close range punches because he’s trying to hold apples on both armpits. That is the situation right now between Kobe & Jim Buss. They have to remove those hindrances and/or hidden agenda, for the sake of Lakers quest for excellence and for posterity reasons too. they should get out of their egos promote peace and tranquility.
Craig W. says
Mitch has a reputation for playing things “close to his vest” and Kobe is often very circumspect – or even evasive and quiet – about commenting to the media. Jim Buss has never made any overture to the media.
Exactly what makes you think the media knows what’s going on in the Laker organization? We have seen any number of these media ‘idots’ make up stories to get their columns/blogs additional hits. I really have no faith we know what is going on, just because some ‘talking head’ says there are problems.
Just the fact that the latest story out of the LA Times talks about two, previously unreported, meetings between Kobe and Mike Brown should give you some pause in your observation about exactly what Jim Buss or Mitch are doing.
Darius Soriano says
A new post is up.