From Dan Duangdao, Lakers Nation: This past week, Gary Payton was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame. The one-time Laker averaged 16.3 points and 6.7 assists in his career and was the 1996 Defensive Player of the Year. Payton made three Finals appearances, where he eventually won his one and only championship with the Miami Heat in 2006. Another former Laker is also eligible for the Hall of Fame, and there is much debate about Robert Horry’s chances. While he didn’t put All-Star numbers like Chris Webber, Alonzo Mourning, Anfernee Hardaway, or Eddie Jones, Horry is considered one of the greatest clutch performers in the game. He wasn’t any ordinary role player as he has the fourth most championships in NBA History with seven and is one of only two players to win with three different teams.
From Marc Stein, ESPN:After two seasons in Turkey, former Lakers and Nets guard Sasha Vujacic is determined to force his way back into the NBA. Sources briefed on the Slovenian’s thinking told ESPN.com that Vujacic is working out feverishly in L.A. in hopes of landing an NBA roster spot following his stint with Anadolu Efes that began during the 2011-12 lockout. Word is Vujacic, now 29, has been playing well in L.A. pickup games and plans to stay stateside in pursuit of an NBA deal as opposed to returning to Europe. “He’s in the best shape of his life,” one source offered, “which is saying something because Sasha has always taken care of himself.” Vujacic last played in the NBA with New Jersey in 2010-11.
From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: When you talk about the guy whose game opened the door for Dr. J and eventually Michael Jordan and all that followed, it was Elgin Baylor. He would get the ball out at the top of the key and could blow by his defender to dunk going either way, or if you pulled back to stop the drive he would knock down the jumper. He was a gifted passer and one of the best rebounders at the three the position has seen. You want numbers? Baylor finished his career averaging 27.4 points and 13.5 rebounds a game. He was the NBA’s Rookie of the Year, 10 time All NBA First Team, and an 11 time All Star. He is in the Hall of Fame (plus went on to coach for four years and be the Clippers GM for 22 years, but that didn’t go as well as his career). Happy birthday to Baylor, who turns 79 today. Here is a look back at his game.
From Ben Golliver, Sports Illustrated: Kobe Bryant’s 2012-13 season ended in gruesome fashion when he tore his left Achilles tendon during an April game against the Warriors. Well, it actually ended after the Lakers’ All-Star guard walked back onto the court after a timeout to take two free throws following the initial injury.That decision to keep playing rather than head immediately to the locker room — not to mention the fact that he made both shots — will always have a place in Kobe lore. While speaking with Nike employees at the apparel manufacturer’s Oregon headquarters on Friday, Bryant explained what exactly was going through his mind at the time of the injury, which occurred as he attempted to drive to his left past Harrison Barnes.“When I first did it, right there, I was trying to feel if the tendon is there or if it’s gone,” Bryant recalled, in comments recorded by Nike. “I realized it wasn’t there. I was literally trying to pull the tendon up so hopefully I could walk and kind of hobble through the last two and a half minutes and try to play.” It’s safe to say that the free throws were just the beginning of his plan.
As a fan who has seen teams pack the paint the past few years and have seen the Lakers become a miserable shooting team that is in the bottom 3rd of the league shooting the 3, I hope Sasha at the least gets a training camp invite. And truth be told I’d put him ahead of Meeks, if not for anything else that he has versatility at the 1 and 2 spots and is an active defender. And being a career 37% 3pt shooter with championship experience can’t hurt.
You actually have a good point. I might be a little more ambivalent than you about Sasha. There were times when he drove me to distraction. But you might very well be correct in saying that he could be an improvement over Jodie Meeks in most areas. In fact, you even failed to mention his length. Sasha’s 6-7; Meeks is a mere 6-4.
However, there could be an issue with Sasha’s age. He’s now 29. (Does that seem possible?) Meeks, on the other hand has just turned 26.
I think the FO is consciously trying to bring in younger players not to mention younger legs. Sasha is hardly a grey-beard. But in another year he will be turning 30. And that alone might make Mitch and Jim Buss think twice about bringing him on board.
Even so, I wouldn’t argue that he could be a (slight) improvement over Jodie Meeks…and a more versatile player, too.
Chris J says
I’d welcome the Machine back into the fold.
Craig W. says
Jodie Meeks is on the Laker hook for $1.5M, errr make that $3.0 million for the next year. Unless Sasha can bring more than that to the table, or the Lakers can trade Meeks for a 2nd round draft pick, I don’t see Sasha getting much of a run.
Kenny T says
Happy birthday, Elgin Baylor!! He is the reason I became a Lakers fan so many years ago. A superb performer in every phase if the game, his last few years were diminished as he was never the same after a devastating knee injury. I missed his early years, but his later years were enough to convince me he was an all time great.
A few threads back, someone opined that Tracy McGrady was the second greatest small forward of all time, with LeBron James being #1. I countered that McGrady was not as good a ballplayer as Dr. J, Havlicek or Pippen. I failed to mention Elgin Baylor or Rick Barry, which was a tremendous oversight on my part. Elgin will always hold a special place in my heart. Before seeing him play, I liked basketball. Elgin made me love it.
Basketball has changed a great deal over the years. It isn’t necessarily better, just different. And every era had its greats.
@Craig: stop ruining my moments lol.
@Mid-Wilshire: yea I kinda have a soft spot for him. And I really think teams need playoff/ championship experience from role players too. I think that is really an underrated aspect. If you don’t have the best role players in the league they need to have some savvy. My opinion. I don’t look into the age factor so much because like you said he’s not 30 yet and reports are saying he’s in the best shape he’s ever been. And we haven’t had an irritant that can annoy the hell out of point guards and make them work the whole game in a while. I think it has been a point of emphasis to get younger, athletic and score but I think thats in comparison to where they were. Not to bag on Jodie, he competes and plays hard, and while he has his “doh!” moments he’s solid for a couple million. I just thought he would be a little bit better as a pro, I remember he scored like 50 in college all over the court vs Tennessee or someone I definitely thought he was headed for stardom. And that is why I’m not a scout or GM because I think he was a 2nd round pick lol.
S/N: D’Antoni should definitely have a lot of shooters on this team compared to last year and can run more of “his” offense that he envisioned.