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PODCAST! The Lakers’ roster, Summer League, Cosby, Trump, summer movies and the sun!

Posted by on Jul 16, 2015 in Brandon Bass, Byron Scott, D'Angelo Russell, Jeanie Buss, Jim Buss, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Lakers Analysis, Lou Williams, Mitch Kupchak, Opinion, Podcast, Roy Hibbert, The Fast and the Furious | 1 comment

The Lakers’ roster has taken shape, and the youngsters are in Vegas for some Summer League action. Before too long, the season will be upon us and for the first time since the “super-team” debacle, we could be treated to 82 games’ worth of genuine intrigue and stakes, even with the playoffs an unlikely destination. It would be a nice change of pace.

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: With Brandon Bass, Roy Hibbert, and Lou Williams now officially in the fold, the roster is more or less complete, save an unexpected turn of events. We share our thoughts on this year’s squad.
  • HEADLINES: With the free agency dust now settled, we examine the winners and losers of the offseason.
  • OUR ALMOST TOP STORY: Led by the trio of D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, and Jordan Clarkson, this year’s summer league squad may be the most anticipated in Lakers history. Safe to say, they haven’t played up to the hype. In particular, Russell and Randle have periodically struggled. How concerned should fans be over this showing?
  • OUR NOT SPORTS STORIES: First, it’s been announced that Bill Cosby and Donald Trump, despite recent controversies, will not lose their stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Plus, the sun is apparently about to run out. No. Seriously.
  • PERSON OF INTEREST: Or “persons,” more accurately. Batman and Superman, who’ll square off next summer in ‘Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.’ The new trailer is out, and quite frankly, we don’t get it.
  • AAK!!! Keeping with the POI theme, we address a series of summer movie-themed questions. What is our favorite “ceviche and Corona” summer movie? What’s our all-time favorite summer movie-going experience? Will ‘Ant-Man’ continue Marvel’s string of box office smashes? Plus, our thoughts on ‘Boyhood,’ which actually was a summer movie (and in its own right, a huge hit) last year.
  • RECOMMENDED READING:The Best Team Money Can Buy,Molly Knight’s deep dive into the Dodgers’ tumultuous 2014 season. The book is getting fantastic reviews, and Molly is a great writer and our friend, so we’re urging everyone to pick up a copy.
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Lakers land Roy Hibbert

Posted by on Jul 5, 2015 in free agency, Kevin Durant, Lakers Analysis, Opinion | 7 comments

As my youngest has grown fond of saying, “I have good news, and I have bad news.”

The good news? The Lakers have landed a viable starting center, acquiring Roy Hibbert from the Pacers in exchange for a future second round pick. It’s a straight salary dump for Indiana, and in a vacuum the price for L.A. is great. Hibbert slides into the vast expanse of their available cap space, and the Lakers (I suspect) give up little impacting them anytime soon. Hibbert has his flaws. Since making a second All-Star team in 2014, his play has been wildly inconsistent. He’s not as prolific a rebounder as a man his size should be. Broadly, Hibbert has been a wreck offensively for the last few seasons — his 44.8 percent mark from the floor in ’12-’13 is his best over the last three.

Were none of these things true, the Pacers would happily have paid him this year.

Importantly, though, Hibbert is still¬†elite level rim protector who will be a big help to Julius Randle on the frontline and erase many of the mistakes made by the puppy/old dog backcourt of D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, and Kobe Bryant.¬†The Lakers completely lacked defensive structure last year, so plopping Hibbert in the middle is a significant improvement. His fit offensively is a different story, but truly is the least of Byron Scott’s problems.

The Lakers are better today than they were yesterday, and have enough space (about $5 million, according to the eggheads) to troll whatever’s left on the free agent rolls, or see if anyone else wants to offload another player.

The bad news?

In an offseason where, once again, it has been made abundantly clear free agents want to join products that are, if not finished, well on the way. Greg Monroe chose the Bucks because they’re playoff ready, and should improve over the next few years. Milwaukee doesn’t have the cachet of Los Angeles, but the guy wants to see the postseason for the first time in his career. That’ll happen far faster in Wisconsin than here. Hibbert, while a decent enough consolation prize for the Lakers after losing out on basically all of free agent humanity, does absolutely nothing to answer the same, critical question free agents are going to ask next summer:

Who am I going to play with?

Hopefully Russell, Randle, and Clarkson develop, and make the franchise more appealing. But it’s insane to believe Kevin Durant is going to sign in L.A. next summer based on the promise of those guys. They can be traded, but giving up too many in any one deal leaves the Lakers with gaping holes hurting their viability as a destination for stars. If Hibbert plays well, are the Lakers going to pay to keep him? Doing good work finding players on one year deals does little good if those players simply use the Lakers to get better money down the road. He could be trade bait, but the Lakers have done a horrible job over the last few seasons extracting value from future free agents. Hard to trust they’ll reverse the trend.

I’d rather have three years of Ed Davis at about $7 million and another $15 million or so to do I please than one year of Hibbert. At some point, the Lakers have to start building a squad going beyond the three rookies and a pristine payroll sheet. Say what you’d like about the quality of their analytics – the Lakers would need statistical Svengalis to convince someone like LaMarcus Aldridge he’d be better here than San Antonio. The reason L.A.’s basketball pitch was weak is simple: There is no answer to those questions. They’re a restaurant selling ambiance, beautiful waitresses, and a nice wine list. Nice features, except ultimately when people go out to eat they want good food. The Lakers barely have a kitchen, let alone a well-conceived menu. They’ve leaned on cap money — “payroll flexibility,” in their terminology — but over the next two offseasons those dollars become less valuable as the cap rises and nearly every other team has money to spend.

Instead, Lakers have spent another summer making long-odds casts for big fish while the smaller, more attainable ones — those potentially providing the infrastructure and assets needed to build a team — swim away. The ’15-’16 product is a little better now, but the ’16-’17 squad, the one the Lakers should be more concerned with, isn’t.

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