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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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Degree of Ifficulty and the 2014-15 Lakers

Posted by on Oct 2, 2014 in Jordan Hill, Kobe Bryant, Mike D'Antoni, Opinion, Steve Nash, Wesley Johnson, Xavier Henry |

Like most people in the hoops (or gambling) industry, I don’t think the 2014-15 Lakers will be a playoff team, for a variety of reasons. I can’t, for example, definitively answer the question, “Who is the second best player on the Lakers?”, but can say definitively that all of the potential answers point to trouble. The Western Conference is stacked too deep. Phoenix missed the postseason last year, despite winning 48 games. None of the teams ahead of them are obvious candidates to fall out, and meanwhile Denver, who won 57 games two seasons ago but was decimated by injuries last year, should be healthier and added Arron Afflalo. Anthony Davis leads a New Orleans team potentially capable of breaking out (though they have injury issues as well).

The Lakers on paper aren’t better than any of them, unless a line of things play out very favorably. String enough “ifs” together and anything is possible.

But all “if’s” are not created equally, whether in importance or likelihood of occurring. So below, I present a (not completely comprehensive) list of things that would lead to the Lakers winning more games than expected, perhaps many more, and the chances of them actually happening. A Degree of “Ifficulty,” so to speak.

1. If Kobe Bryant stays healthy and produces…

On a 1-10 scale of importance, where 10 signifies “most important,” this rates at eleventybillion. Nothing is more important to the fortunes of the Lakers than a healthy Kobe. Last year, he played six games, and we saw how that went. And that was on a team featuring Pau Gasol, who while no longer a star is still a player capable of opening space for others. If Kobe sustains some sort of long-term injury, their already long playoff odds almost surely grow insurmountable.

The good news? I’ve long maintained that if Kobe plays, he’ll play well. He’ll score, he’ll rebound, he’ll grease the wheels for others. He can’t be expected to be a defensive force anymore, but that’s not new. The difference in pre- and post-Achilles/knee Kobe won’t be drastic, but a continuation of the evolution his game has undergone for a few years. To his credit, Monday at Media Day Byron Scott said his job isn’t just to keep Kobe healthy for the season, but to make sure he’s able to play comfortably with his girls once Bryant hangs up his sneakers. Kobe says he understands the need to monitor his minutes, and I don’t think he’ll chafe until it looks like Plan Preservation might impact Plan Playoffs, which given the strength of the Western Conference could come sooner than people think.

The bad? No matter how Kobe feels now — excellent, he says — there’s no way to predict what the season will do to him. The time off hasn’t erased nearly two decades worth of wear and tear, and as soon as the season cranks up all the old infirmities will rear their heads. 70+ games feels like a realistic possibility, but as noted here, Kobe isn’t trying to cheat time this season, he’s trying to cheat time again. At some point, things break down, and when it happens, it can come quickly. Just ask Steve Nash. I’m optimistic. Like most people, my default is that Kobe can find a way. But that’s not exactly high end scientific insight.

Degree of Ifficulty (1-10): 5


2. If Steve Nash plays often, and well…

Nobody expects MVP-level Steve Nash to take the floor this year, but were he to play around 65 games at something in the general ZIP code of his final season in Phoenix on a per-minute basis, it could completely change the complexion of the roster. Suddenly, even if it’s only for 20 minutes a night, the Lakers have two great facilitators in their lineup, with Nash and Bryant. Their presence opens the floor for others (defensive problems notwithstanding). The easy bucket count rises. There is lineup flexibility, giving Scott more combinations to choose from. Some pressure comes off Jeremy Lin to play at Linsanity levels. Jordan Clarkson gets minutes out of merit, not necessity.

Nash will always be remembered in L.A. as a symbol of failure and disappointment. A good final season helping the Lakers push towards the playoffs won’t change that, but at least it would leave fans with more positive memories, and perhaps more importantly would let one of the greatest players of this generation leave the game on something resembling his terms. Can he do it? I really hope so, but it’s much easier to believe in Bryant’s chances to rebound, physically. Until Nash shows he can play regularly, absorbing contact without his nerves firing out of control, it’s hard for optimism to morph into confidence.

Degree of Ifficulty: 8.5

3. If Wesley Johnson* makes a leap…

Look at the dude’s game log for 2013-14 – he was all over the place. 24 points one night, one point the next. Blame Mike D’Antoni if you’d like, but much of that is on Wes. Some games, Johnson was a force on one end or the other, or occasionally both. Too often, though, he’d disappear like a wood-grain chameleon, on the floor but basically invisible. He’s not untalented, but Johnson has rarely managed to display his gifts effectively for any length of time. He’ll have another chance this year, because the Lakers don’t have another wing who can defend at his level, nor a bunch of pure 3′s trying to steal his minutes. Johnson has been working out with Kobe a lot over the summer, and combined with the opportunity to play real games with him, maybe it’s enough to help realize more of the potential making him the fourth pick in the 2010 Draft.

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PODCAST!!! Kobe’s minutes, the rotation, Dwight’s driving record, and President Mamba(?)

Posted by on Sep 19, 2014 in Byron Scott, Dwight Howard, Jim Buss, Jordan Hill, Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Kobe Bryant, Lakers Analysis, LeBron James, Opinion, Podcast, Steve Nash, Wesley Johnson | 3 comments

With every waking hour, we inch closer and closer to September 29th’s Media Day, and the official start to the Lakers’ new season. Granted, Brian has the day circled on his calender mostly because of the El Segundo facility’s high-end air conditioning system, but the ensuing basketball is a nice bonus, right?

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

  • We take a look at the latest headlines. The Atlanta Hawks have potential buyers. Why does Dwight Howard run so many red lights? Did LeBron James fix his depleted hairline?
  • We dig into some of the details of Mark Medina’s interview with Byron Scott for The Daily News. To begin, there is Scott’s desire to limit Kobe Bryant’s minutes this season. How realistic is this goal, considering Kobe’s legendary stubbornness when it comes to staying on the court? Moreover, could Byron actually convince the All-Star to sit out one end of a back-to-back? Is this even a necessary goal to begin with?
  • For the time being, Scott has penciled in a starting lineup of Steve Nash, Kobe, Wesley Johnson, Carlos Boozer and Jordan Hill? Thumbs up? Thumbs down? Thumbs “who cares?”
  • Byron has promised a training camp so tough, dudes are gonna be puking. Kinda boss or kinda stupid?
  • It’s time for AAK!!! Disney cartoons or Looney Tunes: Who ya got? What is Dan Aykroyd’s best performance? And would you prefer Kobe Bryant as a player only, player/coach, player/owner or player/POTUS?

 

 

 

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Podcast!!! Carlos Boozer, free agency, Byron Scott, Kevin Love or “Face/off?”

Posted by on Jul 18, 2014 in Byron Scott, Dwight Howard, Jeanie Buss, Jim Buss, Jordan Hill, Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Kobe Bryant, Nick Young, Pau Gasol, Podcast | 12 comments

The Carlos Boozer era has officially begun for the Lakers. There’s a sentence I never expected to type.

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

  • The Lakers “won” the Carlos Boozer auction and claimed the painted-haired Dukie off waivers. Seriously… WTF, Lakers? WTF? What does the Boozer grab say about the way in which the rebuilding Lakers see themselves? Do they completely lack self-awareness, or are they threading the needle between rebuilding and competing?
  • With Boozer now in the fold, save an unexpected trade, the Lakers aren’t likely making any more significant moves. So how did they do? Did they read the market well, or let too many noteworthy players get past?
  • Pau Gasol went to Chicago without the Lakers receiving any assets in return. At the risk of saying, “I told you so…”
  • When will the Lakers finally hire a coach? What does it say about the organization’s confidence in presumed frontrunner Byron Scott that he’s been interviewed three times without getting hired, despite the fact that nobody else seems to be in the running?
  • The Lakers offseason has received mixed reviews, but hey, they could be Daryl Morey!
  • Thoughts LeBron James heading back to Cleveland.
  • It’s time for #AAK!!! What songs are we most ashamed to admit liking? What discontinued Trader Joe’s item do we miss most? If the Lakers getting Kevin Love somehow meant the movie “Face/Off” never existed, would I choose the power forward or Castor Troy? What invention would we pitch on “Shark Tank?”
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A rough night vs. Dwight, Steve Blake trade thoughts, and more

Posted by on Feb 20, 2014 in Dwight Howard, Jordan Hill, Kobe Bryant, Lakers Analysis | 5 comments

On the odd chance some fans hadn’t yet started seeing the Lakers’ world for what it currently is, Wednesday was a stark, unpleasant, steaming plate of reality. One symbol of last season’s failure returned to Staples to a strong chorus of boos (kudos to fans in the building, who kept up the enthusiasm for heckling Dwight Howard longer than I figured, given the score) and a very strong performance. The other symbol, Steve Nash, was not in the building. The Lakers said he had an upper respiratory infection, probably because like everyone else they need a little variety and are tired of writing “nerve root irritation” on the injury sheet.

Meanwhile, as Thursday’s trade deadline approaches, the Lakers were busy with the completely unglamorous business of (hopefully) stripping the house down to the studs, selling off the fixtures, all the copper wiring, and anything else the market might absorb. First to go: Steve Blake, sent to Golden State for MarShon Brooks, Kent Bazemore, and a cleaner payroll.

And, predictably given the players available, the Lakers proceeded to get shit-canned by the visitors. Howard’s Rockets are rising in the standings, while the Lakers lost for the eighth time in 10 games and continued their frontal assault on last place in the Western Conference. That their struggles are in big picture terms properly categorized under “NBA Circle of Life” doesn’t make it any easier for fans to watch. Wednesday was as painful an evening as the Lakers have had this year, which is saying something.

A few more postgame thoughts… 

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Podcast: Steve Nash’s future, Pau Gasol’s health, the Lakers’ identity and guilty pleasure music

Posted by on Nov 15, 2013 in Boniface N'Dong, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Jim Buss, Jordan Hill, Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Kobe Bryant, Mike D'Antoni, Mitch Kupchak, Opinion, Pau Gasol, Phil Jackson, Podcast, Steve Nash | 3 comments

With ten games officially in the books, what to make of the .500-ish Lakers and the way things have thus far shaken out, Joe Q. PurpleAndGoldFan asks. Well, lucky for Joe Q. PurpleAndGoldFan, we happened to have an afternoon free to answer that same pressing question. 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 run through the headlines! Yahoo! reports the Knicks are targeting Kevin Love in 2015. Coach K thinks flopping is… un-American??? Matt Barnes loses his mind against the Thunder and on Twitter. J.R. Smith defends his brother’s honor against Brandon Jennings.
  • Steve Nash’s health has taken a turn for the (even) worse. Nerve damage related to last season’s problems has the point guard shelved for at least another week, and that is likely optimistic. What does the future hold for Canada’s favorite son?
  • In the meantime, Pau Gasol’s health/age issues aren’t nearly as extreme as Nash’s, but foot, respiratory, and conditioning problems, plus his advancing years, have nonetheless conspired to create a slow start. Is it possible El Spaniard can regain the All-Star form Mike D’Antoni predicted in the preseason?
  • Are the Lakers struggling to discover their “identity?”
  • AAK!!! If powerful aliens were to demand one celebrity sacrifice a year in exchange for the Earth’s safety, who would we nominate as the first to go? Which was the most seismic event in Lakers history: The nixed CP3 deal, D’Antoni getting hired over Phil Jackson, or Dwight Howard’s departure? What is our favorite guilty pleasure song, and what music do people try to make us feel guilty for not liking?
  • I share my theory about former NBA fringe big men Mamadou N’Diaye and Boniface N’Dong. It will blow your mind!


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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