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Lakers predictions and polls for the ’13-’14 season

Posted by on Oct 29, 2013 in Kobe Bryant, Lakers Analysis, Metta World Peace, Mike D'Antoni, Opinion, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash | 1 comment

By now, hopefully you’ve heard our newest podcast, in which AK and I break down the 2013-14 season, making bold — bold! — Lakers predictions left and right (all while accidentally discovering a NSFW conjugation of Nick Young’s nickname and breaking down Sasha Vujacic’s new winery)

If you missed it, click here to download.

But with the season kicking off tonight at Staples against the Clippers, it seems appropriate to get all of the big prognostications down in writing for posterity, and so people can return months from now and marvel at my this guy-esque foresight (or mock my idiocy). But you get your say as well. I’ll hold my finger to the wind, Lakers fans get to blow. Or something like that. Here are five big questions for the 2013-14 season…

Will the Lakers make the playoffs?

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My take: No. They certainly could, but the odds don’t favor it. First, the Lakers are going to be, at best, ordinary defensively. At worst, they’re the mayors of Abominationville. Particularly if they suffer injuries. Which, let’s be honest, they probably will. Steve Nash is already dinged up. Kobe may not return until 10-20 games in, and even then it’s unrealistic to expect him to be KOBE BRYANT from the get go. And it’s not like other guys on the team don’t have checkered health histories. Add in a brutally tough Western Conference in which six teams (OKC, LAC, SAS, MEM, HOU, GSW, in no particular order) are obviously better than the purple and gold, and five more (DEN, DAL, POR, MIN, N.O.) have legitimate playoff hopes, and it gets that much tougher. The Lakers won 45 games last year, with Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace available defensively, and Kobe balling his ass off offensively. Two of those things can’t happen again, and the third is a tall order even for Bryant. Whether he returns to the court faster than expected, slower, or right on the mark (see Question 2), Kobe still won’t be himself for weeks.

I understand the team added youth and more versatility on the bench. They’re a happier bunch, more in sync with the coach’s system. What they aren’t, though, is more talented, and in the NBA nothing matters more. All in all, there are too many favorable breaks required for these Lakers to hit the higher levels of their potential.

Will Pau Gasol finish the season as a Laker?

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My take: No. Talking this summer to a few league execs, they all agreed Gasol had little value this offseason, thanks to knee procedures, advancing age, sketchy performances over the last couple of seasons, and a massive contract. They also agreed if he plays well, Pau could change that dynamic quickly. By mid-season, when teams might be looking to bolster a playoff run, Gasol ought to be an appealing figure. A vast skill set and compulsively team-oriented mindset make him easy to integrate into a new system, and as the year goes on whatever team might be interested can pay a pro-rated portion of his salary (minus whatever they send back to L.A.). I don’t think the Lakers can get a lottery pick for him, but this is an organization sorely lacking in assets for a rebuild. If they can get something useful without compromising future plans, and I think the opportunity will be there, even if it’s not equal value the Lakers would be foolish not to pull the trigger. They’re not winning a title this year, no matter how well Gasol plays.

Philosophically, the same holds for everyone on the roster. The Lakers should hang the “Everything Must Go! No Reasonable Offers Refused!” shingle on the front door now, and leave it there all season.

(I’ll be very, very sad the day Gasol is traded, as will everyone in the organization. But sentiment only gets teams in trouble.)

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Podcast: Flea on the Lakers, Kobe, Magic, music, and The Big Lebowski

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2013 in Dwight Howard, Flea, Houston Rockets, Jeanie Buss, Jerry Buss, Jim Buss, Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Kobe Bryant, Lakers Audio, Metta World Peace, Mike D'Antoni, Pau Gasol, Phil Jackson, Podcast | 5 comments

After three-plus decades as the bassist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, which launched a career resulting in Grammys, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame honors and oodles of albums sold, Flea is a man who requires no introduction to anybody remotely familiar with music since the early 80′s. (To wit, when I told Mom about this show, she responded, “Oh… I know who that is.”) Similarly, after countless appearances in the stands cheering on his beloved Los Angeles Lakers — plus, the song “Magic Johnson,” which appeared on 1989′s “Mother’s Milk” — no introduction is needed for Flea as a man who bleeds purple and gold. With the possible exception of Jack Nicholson or Dyan Cannon, it’s hard to argue any celebrity has earned more stripes as a Lakers fan. We’ve been hoping to get Flea on the show for a few years, and at long last the holiday weekend presented an opening. We spoke for almost 45 minutes, covering everything from basketball to music to his role in “The Big Lebowski.” Here are a couple of excerpts, the first in which Flea describes the commonality between sports and music:

“I love to play sports. I’ve played sports my whole life. I play sports constantly. And it’s all very similar to music. It’s the same thing to me. Especially basketball. The communal effort. The solo effort. The supportive part of it. When it’s time to play a role, when it’s time to take over and go up front. All of that stuff. The telepathic improvisational aspect of it is something I really relate to as an artist in a creative way. When someone like Kobe’s in the zone and absolutely unconscious and going off, it’s that thing. The same thing as a musician. When you’re able to get your mind out of the way and let go and just try to channel something beautiful and be a vehicle for this uplifting energy, you’re in the zone. You’re letting go. You’re not thinking.

“And I think that’s what all human beings in one way or another, whether you’re a garbage man or a poet, when you’re in the act of doing something and you’re completely in the moment and free of what people think or even you think, that’s when you’re living to your highest potential. So I really relate to that in sports because it’s so evident when it’s really happening.”

Later, Flea mentioned how Kobe’s reminds him in certain ways of longtime RHCP guitarist John Frusciante. When I noted how Frusciante always seemed to me less comfortable with fame than Kobe, Flea didn’t completely agree.

“That’s true, but I’ve never seen Kobe being entirely comfortable with fame, either. It’s funny. Kobe has this reputation for being arrogant or cold, and I never feel that from Kobe. I feel him being, and it’s changed, too, as time has gone by, but until the last few years, I’ve felt he was just kind of a geeky guy, you know? Just sort of, not a savant, but kind of just someone who works so hard on basketball that he’s not a socially skilled guy. But he never made me feel like he was arrogant or cold. It just sort of felt like he didn’t feel comfortable or know how to really relate to people or make them feel warm in the context of an interview. Whereas other players can really have that political skill of saying the right thing on the microphone and making you feel good, but I think they’re completely full of shit, like they’re being politicians. Well, I never felt that with Kobe. I think he just says what he thinks. But I think as time has gone by he has been able to make people feel better when he does interviews because he’s grown more comfortable over time with just being natural.”

Not that Flea takes issue with any lack of social skills, by the way.

“Ultimately, I don’t care about the social skills. To me, actually, being uncomfortable socially is kind of charming to me. So it never really bothered. But I really respect craftsmanship and people who take their craft seriously and do their best. I think that Kobe has been unfairly and really misunderstood as being a selfish person. I don’t see it as being selfish to be as great as you can be. I think ultimately it’s giving the greatest gift.”

The show can be heard by clicking on the module above. Below is a list of talking points.

  • Flea describes the difficulty and heartache of last season, a campaign he considers among the worst in franchise history.
  • Stars, they’re just like us! The overwhelming majority of Lakers fans are neither famous nor fans of Mike D’Antoni. Flea may be a rock star, but along these particular lines, consider him Joe Q. Public.
  • For that matter, the bassist ain’t exactly choked up over Dwight Howard’s departure, either. He doesn’t deny D12′s talent or even the void that will be felt in his absence, but as a die-hard Laker fan, Howard’s lack of commitment and respect towards the franchise is a deal-breaker.
  • Flea is, however, a huge admirer of Kobe, and for several different reasons.
  • Flea shares the process of recording “Magic Johnson” and explains why the legendary point guard means so much to him on a professional and, especially, personal level.
  • The first time I ever saw the Chili Peppers perform was in 1989 on “Night Music With David Sanborn.” We recall the wild performance, highlighted by Flea’s pants made out of stuffed animals (!), and learn the sad fate of said pants made out of stuffed animals.
  • What would Flea in his 20′s think of Flea at age 50?
  • Is there a commonality between what the Buss children are dealing with while trying to move the Lakers forward after the death of Dr. Jerry Buss and what the Chili Peppers faced after the death of Hillel Slovak in 1988?
  • Flea describes working with a marmot in “The Big Lebowski,” the vibe on a Coen Brothers set, and why he exposed so much ass crack in the bowling alley scene.
  • We asked Flea to pick a fantasy all-Lakers squad to join him in a 5-on-5 pickup game. His answer will surprise you, because it ended up surprising him.

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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Land O'Lakers Podcast: Kobe Bryant's health, Potential starting 5's, Jim Buss and free agency 2014, "Ask a Kamenetzky!"

Posted by on Jul 24, 2013 in Jim Buss, Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Kobe Bryant, Lakers Audio, Los Angeles Lakers, Metta World Peace, Mike D'Antoni, Mitch Kupchak, Pau Gasol, Podcast, Steve Nash | 6 comments

For mere mortals, it ain't easy coming up with hot talk during the offseason. For the K Bros, it's just another day in the studio. Or as we call the studio, “Andy's House.” Below is a list of talking points:

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

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Land O'Lakers Podcast: Metta World Peace departs, free agents arrive, and more

Posted by on Jul 16, 2013 in Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Kobe Bryant, Lakers Analysis, Lakers Audio, Metta World Peace, Opinion, Podcast | 5 comments

The Dwight Howard dust has settled, at least a little, over the last week or so, but news keeps rolling in for the Lakers.  And as long as it does, we”ll keep rolling out podcasts. The high points of our newest episode, or so we hope:

  • Metta World Peace is now a New York Knickerbocker, signed to a free agent deal following the end of an eventful (and ultimately positive) run in L.A.. Any surprise the Lakers let him go? What exactly did the Lakers lose when making the decision to amnesty him?
  • MWP is gone, but the Lakers have made three (ok, technically, two) additions over the last few days, on top of last week”s agreement with free agent center Chris Kaman (our thoughts on him, if you missed them, can be found around the 34-minute mark of our previous show). We break down the positives and negatives of Nick Young, Wesley Johnson, and the expected-to-be-signed former Laker Jordan Farmar.
  • Howard is officially in Houston, and already looks more comfortable. AK takes a look at his first post-signing comments as a Rocket.
  • Speaking of centers on the move, Andrew Bynum and Mike Brown are going to be re-united in Cleveland. Because that worked out so well the first time around. We know Brown”s a mensch. Any shot Bynum just doesn”t remember Brown was his coach before?
  • We open the Twitter mailbag for a host of non-hoops related questions, from the proper time to shave one”s head to movies we admit enjoying only with a sense of shame to something about “real vs. fake booty.”

Finally,  and future NBA-themed adult film star actors.

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

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Why Dwight Howard should see "This is the End."

Posted by on Jun 18, 2013 in Dwight Howard, Jim Buss, Kobe Bryant, Lakers Analysis, Metta World Peace, Mike D'Antoni, Mitch Kupchak, Opinion, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash, This is the End | 1 comment

Last weekend, I saw “This is the End,” the new movie starring James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Jay Baruchel and Craig Robinson. All playing themselves, the six attend a party at Franco’s opulent Hollywood home — filled with recognizable faces like Mindy Kaling, Paul Rudd, and Jason Segal — when the apocalypse arrives. For all intents and purposes, this sextet are the lone survivors left to fend off Armageddon… and often each other. Negotiating the end of the world brings out the worst in everybody above the title, and that self-centered behavior is displayed with a winking nod to each actor’s public image.

Franco eggs on a tabloid culture that’s painted him as a pretentious, artsy douche who may be in the closet. McBride presents himself as a somewhat better-spoken version of his “Kenny Powers” character. Hill is so relentlessly and condescendingly nice, Baruchel (self-righteously “anti-industry,” but also jealous of everyone’s more successful careers) eventually decks him. Rogen is a useless, selfish pothead. The flaky Robinson reacts to danger with a girly scream.

Audiences will hypothesize how closely the film versions of every actor who appears match reality — save perhaps Michael Cera, who by all accounts is nothing like the dude who spends his final hours snorting coke and slapping Rihanna’s ass — but that’s both beside the point and the point. A movie like “T.I.T.E.” can only be made if the participants are secure with that inevitability. Clearly, this cast ain’t losing sleep. The goal is to get laughs. And while the last 20-ish minutes are uneven, the movie is often hysterical because of everybody’s willingness to don a “kick me” sign.

Watching the film, out of nowhere, Dwight Howard popped into my head. Given how the center is at forefront of damn near every NBA conversation, particularly in Los Angeles, a day without Howard on the brain is unfortunately a rare luxury. But this was different. Seeing these actors mock themselves, it dawned on me how Dwight, despite his reputation as someone who “never stops joking around,” seems the least likely person on Earth to participate in a project like “T.I.T.E”

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Metta World Peace talks about his new children's book "Metta's Bedtime Stories," the Lakers and the Spurs

Posted by on May 30, 2013 in Lakers News, Metta World Peace | 1 comment

Metta World Peace is nothing if not an ever-expanding hyphenate. Already having established dashes between “athlete,” “rapper,” “producer,” “mental health advocate,” “comedian,” and “weatherman,” the latest title added to the small forward's list is “author.” His new children's book, Metta's Bedtime Stories,” written with Heddrick McBride, was released on May 20 and is a collection of five short stories geared at kids age 4-10. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Xcel University as well as The Artest Foundation, established by Metta's father. I spoke at length by phone with Metta Wednesday about the process of writing this book, his own childhood and, of course, a little basketball. Below is a transcript of the conversation.

Andy Kamenetzky: How did you become interested in writing a children's book in the first place?

Metta World Peace: Well, you know, it was more of a collective effort. It was something that I always wanted to do. I had a couple other books that I was writing, but I wanted to start off writing books for children. We had a couple of other books that we kind of wrote already, so I wanted to figure out what was the best way to launch all these books. We got some books we wrote for adults and things like that, but the main thing was to get started off in the right direction. One thing I always like to do is entertain and inspire. I always like to inspire first, so that was the motivation behind writing the children's books.

AK: Why release the children's book before the books for adults, as opposed to the other way around?

MWP: I thought children's books were a little bit better first, because the kids look up to us and when you can steer a kid in the right direction, it's a really positive thing. When I was a kid, I used to read children's book and children's books inspired me. Dr. Seuss and other books inspired me, so I just wanted to give back.

AK: Which children's books did you specifically enjoy?

MWP: I loved all the Dr. Seuss books. They were real simple but it was kind of fun, you know? I kind of related to them. I thought his books were adventurous. It was easy to read. It was a complex story as a kid, obviously. But at the end, for example, Green Eggs and Ham, if you just give something a try, you might like it. You don't realize these things as children. You don't realize them having a positive influence on you. When we was doing our book, it was like, let's do a book that a kid can relate to. Especially a kid that's coming into his or her own.

I think the first book was good because we're giving kids options in their life. They don't have to have tunnel vision. We wanted to get across to children that you can do anything.

AK: How hard was it to sit down and actually write the book?

MWP: Writing isn't hard because I write rhymes a lot. I write raps a lot. So the writing aspect is not hard. It's just coming up with a collective effort. Me, Heddrick McBride, we all just come up with a collective effort and see what makes sense. But the writing is not hard. It's all about the feeling. You can have good feeling and it (doesn't) come across the right way. Or you could have some good words to say but it's not making no sense. So that's the hard thing when you're writing. We just tried to make sure everything made sense. We were very satisfied with the story.

AK: How actively were you involved with the illustrations, and having the visuals come out the way you pictured in your head?

MWP: At first, it was all black kids. (Laughs) We needed a variety of kids in there, because the world is very diverse. So the guy who did the first design for us, he thought we were just trying to talk to black kids, but I'm like, “No, no, no. We need to talk to talk to all races. We gotta try to accomplish that in a short amount of time.” I thought we did a really good job with that, also.

AK: When you got the draft back with only black kids, were you, like, “Whoa! Whoa!”

MWP: Yeah. We were laughing. Me and Heidi Buech, she runs Xcel University for me, she was just like, “What's going on? What happened to the Asian kids and the Latino kids and the white kids?” (Laughs) So that was the holdup. But it was cool, because we wrote a couple other books [while waiting] and it gave us time to be more consistent.

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