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PODCAST! The new Kobe, CLE-OKC-NYK Trade, aging action heroes, Stuart Scott and more

Posted by on Jan 7, 2015 in Byron Scott, ESPN, free agency, Jeanie Buss, Jeremy Lin, Jim Buss, Jordan Hill, Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Kobe Bryant, Nick Young, Podcast | 3 comments

2015 is in full swing and while the Lakers don’t seem any closer to adding a sixth ring to Kobe’s finger (or even making the playoffs to create such an opportunity), the last several games have been nothing if not compelling. Is a legit sea change underway for The Mamba’s final days?

The show can be heard by clicking on the module, and a list of talking points can be found below. Among the high points:

  • OUR TOP STORY: What a difference three games off, sensibly reduced PT, and a change of deployment can make. After being driven nearly to the verge of collapse, Kobe Bryant is now playing fewer minutes, is functioning as the team’s primary facilitator, and is succeeding brilliantly in the new role. Will this change stick and if so, what are the potentially positive implications for the Lakers moving forward? What would have happened had he continued down the road traveled at the start of the season? (Here’s a  link to the piece I wrote a few years ago expressing concern Kobe could end his career like, as Chris Rock put it, “the old guy at the club.)
  • AROUND THE LEAGUE: We take a look at two recent big headlines. The second round of returns on All-Star voting reflects fans largely paying attention to the season… and that Chinese hoops fans enjoy voting, period. Bucks center Larry Sanders reportedly has lost interest in playing basketball, which is either great or horrible news for Milwaukee, depending on how you look at it.
  • “ALMOST TOP” STORY: Monday saw a huge three-way deal between the Cavaliers, Thunder and Knicks. Cleveland receives J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert. OKC receives Dion Waiters. The Knicks receive a bunch of dudes subsequently cut for cap space, cap space and more cap space. How did each squad fare? And how does this blockbuster impact the Lakers?
  • NON-SPORTS STORY: There are reports of another “Rambo” movie in the works for Sylvester Stallone. At the risk of sounding like ageists, Sly seems a bit long in the tooth at 68 to be killing folks in the jungle. Then again, Liam Neeson and Denzel Washington have successfully aged into sexagenarian ass-kickers. Is there a difference? (Also, this is a link to the “Denzel Washington Is The Greatest Actor Of All Time Period” podcast referenced during the show. Very funny and entertaining.)
  • PERSON OF INTEREST: We take a look at the life and legacy of ESPN anchor and personality Stuart Scott, who died Sunday after a long battle with cancer.
  • RECOMMENDED VIEWING: With award seasons in full swing, we each recommend a movie in the mix for Oscar nominations.
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PODCAST! LA’s front office rank, D’Antoni and/or Meeks returning (?) , Kobe and Trayvon Martin, facts about 1960

Posted by on Apr 5, 2014 in ESPN, Jeanie Buss, Jim Buss, Jodie Meeks, Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Kobe Bryant, Lakers history, Mike D'Antoni, Opinion |

The good news? The Lakers entered Friday’s action with only seven games remaining before the season mercifully comes to an end. The bad news? It’s not six.

The show can be heard by clicking on the module and below is a list of talking points. Among the high points.

  • We take a look at the latest headlines. Phil Jackson says CAA ties won’t influence him as Knicks Prez. Dick Bavetta has set a seriously amaze-balls new record! Will Jabari stay in school? Are the Lakers really the NBA’s 16th best front office?
  • Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding says the Lakers might not show Mike D’Antoni the door this offseason. Don’t kill the messengers, by the way. We’re just the guys discussing the potential reasons why.
  • We play another episode of “Should The Lakers Bring Back This Guy,” with Jodie Meeks as the latest contestant.
  • As of this recording, the Lakers have exactly 50 losses, which ties the second-highest total in franchise history, set in 1960 when the team was still housed in Minneapolis! To illustrate just how long it’s been since the Lakers sat on 50 losses, I quiz Brian on his knowledge of 1960, and offer some fun facts about 1960! (FYI: The all-time mark for losses is 52 during the 1975 season, which means an “All About 1975!” segment is waiting in the wings.)
  • We discuss Kobe Bryant’s comments in the New Yorker regarding black causes and Trayvon Martin, along with the way stories like these are covered in the world of 24/7 news and social media.

Click above to play, or just download the show here. Hope you enjoy it. To subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, click here. You can also find us on TuneIn.com by heading here.

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Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and big free agency questions

Posted by on Sep 11, 2013 in Dwight Howard, ESPN, free agency, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Mike D'Antoni, Mitch Kupchak, Phil Jackson | 4 comments

The Miami Heat may be gearing up for a three-peat attempt as the Lakers embark on what”s regarded as a stopgap campaign by even the most optimistic fans, but they still have one thing in common: Summer of 2014. For the Lakers, it represents a chance to redirect the ship towards smoother waters via free agency. For the Heat, free agency carries the threat of losing LeBron James. Could these worlds collide to make Laker fans smile worldwide?

Well, according to a handful of ESPN.com writers asked to handicap the odds of LeBron bolting for the Lakers, not so much:

Adande: 5 percent. Take what I said about Pat Riley above and apply the opposite to Jim Buss. And LeBron has spent enough time around to know Kobe won”t hand over the keys to the Lakers as easily as Wade handed over the keys to the Heat.

Haberstroh: 5 percent. Let”s say Bryant suffers another career-threatening injury; the Lakers somehow trade for to put Gasol alongside his countryman, ; and the Heat”s season ends in turmoil. Then maybe it could happen. Maybe.

Stein: I”ll go with 1 percent … only because you never say never in this league. But I cannot fathom LeBron joining the Lakers. He was savaged for The Decision, hated all that negativity and would expose himself to getting hammered on a similar scale if he made that move. I firmly believe he”d be branded as one of sports” all-time heartless mercenaries if he decided that he needs a move to Lakerland after just four seasons on South Beach. All the informed whispers emanating out of L.A. suggest that the Lakers are going to chase him hard and think they have a legit shot. But I don”t.

Wallace: Far less than 24 percent. And I say that as a total play on Kobe”s jersey number. I don”t see LeBron wanting to play with Kobe, assuming Kobe stays. And I certainly don”t see the Lakers pushing Kobe aside or rushing him to make a decision to appease James. Besides, what can James do for the Lakers, from a legacy standpoint, that Kobe, Shaq, Magic, Kareem and haven”t? Now, the Clippers? Playing with CP3 and for Doc Rivers if other contracts are moved? Hmmm. That would be a completely different story.

Windhorst: Not great. First, I don”t think LeBron has much desire to play with Kobe. Their interactions with Team USA were often more utilitarian than anything. Second, the Lakers would have to attract at least one more young superstar to come play in L.A. to truly compete with what the Heat could offer. Getting someone to take the Chris Bosh role with Chris Bosh talent will not be easy, even for L.A. And don”t assume Kobe is a big hook at this point in his career.

Obviously, with nearly ten months before LeBron can terminate his contract (and he may not), a lot can happen. And these are just five guys” opinions… although Brian Windhorst has covered LeBron since his high school days and quite possibly knows the forward better than any basketball scribe. Tom Haberstroh and Michael Wallace have been around the team 24/7 since The Heat Index”s inception. J.A. Adande and Marc Stein are very credible. This is as legit a quintet as any. And four specifically cite Kobe as a deterrent for landing LeBron. This sentiment is nothing new, particularly in this neck of the woods, where Brian and I have said the exact same thing on several recent podcasts. Still, it”s telling to see others independently arrive at the same conclusion.

By the way, there are reasons independent of Kobe to question the Lakers” appeal for LeBron. Their immediate future is cloudy with Jim Buss controlling the conch. (For more on this, check out Ramona Shelburne”s profile of the man beneath the baseball hat.) Save one mother of a purple and gold stint, LBJ”s unlikely to be regarded as more than (at best) the fifth greatest Laker of all-time behind — in no particular order — Kobe, Magic, West and Kareem. He doesn”t need a bigger market. Quite frankly, the Lakers need LeBron a helluva lot more than LeBron needs the Lakers. My admittedly uneducated guess is he”ll stay in Miami and bet on Pat Riley, plus his own appeal, as rebuilding assets. Unless it”s to come full circle in Cleveland for professional and personal reasons, I don”t envision LeBron leaving because he doesn”t need to and seems happy.

However, you can substitute “Big Ticket Free Agent X In His Prime” for “LeBron,” and the points raised by these ESPN writers remain trenchant. Regardless of what Lakers fans think of Dwight Howard — and there are legitimate reasons for the dismissive opinions — Kobe was widely reported as a negative recruiting tool. Even if you think the Lakers dodged the bullet of an uncommitted franchise player (I”ve raised that point myself), I can”t imagine Kobe”s “take it or leave it” approach didn”t resonate around the league. Nor, for that matter, can I imagine that pitch inspiring the majority of players the Lakers will be trying to entice. With the possible exception of Carmelo Anthony (who raises his own myriad of questions), I don”t see many top flight players signing up for a Padawan internship under Kobe Wan Kenobi.

Maybe this attitude was a direct reflection of Bryant”s indifference towards Howard staying, but it fits the pattern established throughout his career. It”s not that he”s unwilling to adjust altogether, but even those instances are typically on his own terms. Ever since Shaq”s departure, Bryant”s gone out of his way to remind teammates and even coaches not named “Phil” or “Jackson” who calls the shots. The Lakers are “Kobe”s” team, and he appears decidedly uninterested in dialing back that influence. Nor will he ever have to, given how he”s a God among fans. Frankly, he”s earned this rare status. But flaunting it isn”t necessarily the smartest approach. Especially when he ain”t winning a sixth title without quality help. Teammates (prospective or otherwise) will be more accepting of an alpha dog in his prime continually flexing these muscles, especially when a title is a realistic goal. But when the alpha dog is 35, in the twilight of his career, coming off a serious injury, and there are holes in the roster? That may be another story.

Bryant is hardly the sole reason the Lakers could struggle in the immediate wake of Dr. Buss” death to remain the NBA”s premiere destination. But even more than Jim Buss, nobody potentially is more capable of offsetting the bumps. And without signs of flexibility, I”m quite concerned the Lakers” ability to land A-List free agents will directly coincide with Kobe”s retirement and not a second sooner.

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