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Podcast! Steve Blake’s absence, Kobe Bryant’s return, Jim Brown, cultural event television

Posted by on Dec 13, 2013 in Kobe Bryant, Lakers Analysis, Mike D'Antoni, Mitch Kupchak, Opinion, Pau Gasol, Podcast, Steve Blake, Steve Nash | 1 comment

On the plus side, Kobe Bryant is back on the court. On the minus side, Steve Blake, arguably the team’s best player to this point, is now sidelined. Of course, if Blake’s been the clubhouse leader for production, with all sincere respect to the way he’s stepped up, that’s not a sign this season boasts the potential of a particularly high ceiling to begin with.

In any event, the show, both ours and the Lakers’, must go on. The podcast can be heard by clicking the module and a list of talking points can be found below. Among the highlights…

  • We take a look at the latest headlines. Despite having played just two games this season, Kobe’s tallied over 500,000 (and counting) All-Star votes. Is this a problem? LeBron James claims there are no rivalries in the NBA. Is he correct? ESPN created a list of the ten best “under 25″ players in the NBA. Did they get the right names in the right order?
  • It wouldn’t be a Lakers podcast without injury news, and in this case, the latest victim is Steve Blake. The team announced he has a torn ulnar collateral ligament on his right elbow and will be shelved for at least six weeks. How will this affect the on-court product and, perhaps cynically, Blake’s potential trade value at the deadline? In the meantime, names like Leandro Barbosa and Chris Duhon have surfaced as theoretical replacements, and we explain why this would be a terrible approach.
  • With Blake out, the Lakers’ legitimate options at point guard basically begin and end at Kobe. How will this affect the heretofore rocky efforts to blend Bryant with the rest of the team?
  • Brian wonders how opponents will game plan for Kobe post-Achilles? Will less attention be paid defensively or will status quo prevail?
  • Stop us if you’ve heard this before, but Pau Gasol’s play is being adversely affected by health and conditioning issues. Will this trend ever reverse itself?
  • We discuss Jim Brown’s comments this week about Kobe.
  • AAK!!! Jeff Herington asks us to name best shows in television/Netflix, which reminded us a Facebook friend’s recent post about having never seen “Breaking Bad,” “Sons of Anarchy,” “The Walking Dead” or even “Friends.” With that in mind, we try to predict the next show to become a cultural event like “Breaking Bad.”

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

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The Lakers get pasted by Minnesota because, well, it’s not that complicated…

Posted by on Nov 11, 2013 in Kobe Bryant, Lakers Analysis, Mike D'Antoni, Opinion, Pau Gasol, Steve Blake, Steve Nash | 5 comments

My seat for Sunday nights game against the Timberwolves at Staples was next to a former ESPN The Magazine colleague I haven’t seen for a while. So we spent some time during the first quarter catching up. I was watching the game, but not the scoreboard. Certain things, like “Hey, someone should close on Kevin Martin,” or “I wish I had Kevin Love on my fantasy team,” and “Wow, that’s craptacular transition defense!” zipped through my head, but it wasn’t until I looked up and noted the carnage in stark terms — the score — that I said, “Holy shit, this got away fast.”

Minnesota basically ended the game before it started with a 27-2 run over about five minutes near the end of the opening 12.

There are plenty of reasons why it happened. Even by their liberal standards, the Lakers were inattentive on defense. They missed a ton of shots offensively, and were slow getting back despite knowing how much guys like Corey Brewer enjoy leaking out early. (You would, too, if outlet passes came from Love and Ricky Rubio.) Five turnovers didn’t help. Steve Nash dragged his left leg around the floor before leaving the game for good with a recurrence of his back/nerve issues.

Still, none of those cut quite to the heart of the matter.

Every best-case scenario for these Lakers included three things: Kobe recovering very, very quickly, Nash getting healthy, and Pau Gasol returning to form. The first two haven’t happened (this is not a criticism), and the third is still an open question. (Gasol said after the game his stretch of poor performances is related more to the upper respiratory infection he’s fought over the last couple weeks as opposed to problems with his knees. Infections eventually go away. Its about the only good news the night produced.) As a result, the Lakers have had to rely on big performances from players like Steve Blake and Jodie Meeks to carry them.

No disrespect to either – Blake’s competitiveness is admirable and Meeks has played very well this season – but that’s not going to work at the NBA level. Role players are important but are role players for a reason. There was a moment after the loss to San Antonio when Mike D’Antoni noted how much the Lakers missed Xavier Henry’s energy and production in the time he was sidelined after splitting his head open. I hope Henry proves my preseason predictions wrong and finds a niche in the league. I truly do. But any team in this league needing him to win games is not in a good place. Red flags come neither redder nor flaggier.

The Lakers need to work out their rotation, find some cohesive execution on defense, bring energy and focus at all times, and all that stuff. But those are cosmetic fixes relative to the fundamental issue: A lack of high-end NBA talent. The Lakers taking the floor Sunday, with Nash and Gasol diminished and Kobe in street clothes, arguably had no players as good as Minnesota’s top three (Love, Rubio, Martin). Maybe Pau is in that group, but maybe not. Until their best players on paper are their best players on the floor or their many reclamation projects make “the leap,” the talent gap applies to most teams they face, from New Orleans on Tuesday to Memphis to Detroit to Golden State to Brooklyn. Throw Washington in there, too, if you’d like. And that’s just November.

Nobody should be all that surprised, given the transitional nature of this season. The hope for the Lakers in constructing the roster was to be as competitive as possible, maybe find a piece or two capable of helping down the road, and then later in the year spin what can be spun into assets for a rebuild. It’s no fun, but what’s happening to the Lakers this season is necessary and unavoidable. So before complaining about the coach, rotations, energy, or other things, remember the most basic problem:

Right now, the Lakers don’t have enough good players to be a good team.

 

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Podcast! D’Antoni’s rotations, Nash’s health, Kobe’s latest avatar, and Rob Ford jokes!

Posted by on Nov 6, 2013 in Dwight Howard, Jordan Hill, Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Los Angeles Lakers, Mike D'Antoni, Pau Gasol, Rob Ford, Steve Blake, Steve Nash | 1 comment

With the season underway, we discuss the .500-ish Lakers and what has been learned about this team after a handful of games. Listen to us while you can before BK breaks up the band for his impending high profile showbiz gig! Among your high points…

  • In case you hadn’t heard (and at least one of our Tweeps figured we hadn’t), Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has recently dabbled with crack.
  • We take a run through the latest headlines. Among other bold predictions, ESPN.com’s Marc Stein predicts Lamar Odom will reenter the NBA this season. What to make of the report that Andrew Bynum is again experiencing pain? Russell Westbrook returns to action ahead of schedule. Kobe plays more mind games through Twitter!
  • As we recorded, the Lakers were still 2-2 before Tuesday’s loss in Dallas. We convey our general impressions. Have there been any surprises?
  • There have been grumblings from fans and even players about Mike D’Antoni’s rotation. In particular, Jordan Hill’s inconsistent playing time is a sticking point. Are these complaints valid? What are the complicating factors?
  • Steve Nash, to put it kindly, has looked neither good nor healthy in his second season as a Laker. Is there reason to maintain hope for a turnaround? Are fans being overly harsh towards him?
  • While in L.A. to face the Clippers, Dwight Howard says he still talks to a few ex-Laker teammates, but none named “Kobe” or “Bryant.” Did anybody on the planet actually think those two would remain in touch? In the meantime, the now-Rocket center emerged a unifying force between both sides of the crosstown rivalry.
  • Time for some AAK!!! Which NBA player (current or former) would each of us choose to hang out with for a day? What is the worst legitimately popular TV show currently on air? What are our thoughts on the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin-Miami Dolphins mess? What’s the worst injury — and backhanded compliment — either of us has suffered?

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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Podcast: Lakers predictions, NBA 2013-14 season preview, GM survey, and Nick Young’s Swaggy P-ness

Posted by on Oct 26, 2013 in Dwight Howard, Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Kobe Bryant, Lakers Analysis, LeBron James, Miami Heat, Mike D'Antoni, Mitch Kupchak, Pau Gasol, Podcast, Royce White, Steve Blake, Steve Nash | 7 comments

The preseason, she is officially in the books, meaning the regular season is now just around the corner. What lies ahead for the Lakers, Kobe Bryant and the league as a whole? We offer oodles and oodles of prognostications, plus our usual helping of nonsense. The highlights:

  • We take a look at the latest NBA headlines. Will recent LO’L podcast guest Royce White get another chance after getting cut by the Sixers? Yao Ming makes a difference in the effort to end shark fin soup. Carmelo Anthony has a heart-to-heart with J.R. Smith about drugs. And the annual GM survey results were released. How much love did the Lakers collectively get from the front office types?
  • We take a deep look at the season ahead. Among our Lakers predictions is a biggie: Will they make playoffs? Which teams will come out of the Eastern and Western Conferences? Who will be the surprise winners come award season next April? All that, and…
  • …even more questions! How will Dwight Howard perform in Houston? Will Steve Nash or Andrew Bynum play more games this season? What should the Lakers use as the slogan for the free T-shirts given out at Staples Center? And much, much, MUCH more!
  • I accidentally invent a NSFW nickname for Nick Young.
  • Time for some #AAK! Who would we switch faces with if possible, ala “Face/Off?” What would be our career choice if not sports journalism? Given the choice between rescuing either our parents, our spouse or a busload of children from impending death, who would each of us save?
  • And finally, Sasha Vujacic has officially launched his own wine, along with the most unintentionally funny wine website ever.

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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Podcast: Lakers Media Day, expectations, positional battles and the "Breaking Bad" finale

Posted by on Oct 2, 2013 in Jeanie Buss, Jerry Buss, Jim Buss, Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Kobe Bryant, Lakers Audio, Mike D'Antoni, Mitch Kupchak, Opinion, Pau Gasol, Podcast, Steve Blake, Steve Nash | 1 comment

With the Government shut down and our politicians demonstrating yet again their dysfunctional, self-centered, hypocritical incompetency, the United States of America, the greatest nation on Earth, has embarked on a desperate, collective search for a hero to provide hope as society crumbles into ruin.

Look no further, America. Your huckleberry has arrived.

To listen to the show, click on the module above or either of the download links. As for talking points…:

  • A look at the NBA headlines. LeBron and 'Melo won't answer questions about their potential free agency in 2014. Greg Monroe reportedly won't receive an extension from the Pistons, which would make him a potential target for the Lakers next summer as a restricted free agent. Andrew Bynum cut his hair, an absolute tragedy for fans of Drew's myriad bizarre stylings in Philly. (People like us, for example.) The NBA Competition Committee has voted to return the NBA Finals to a 2-2-1-1-1 format, a necessary change, long overdue.
  • Lakers Media Day on Saturday was a low key affair, but there was Papa John's pizza for the media!!! What, if anything, can be deciphered from this turn of events?
  • Could the Lakers actually benefit as a franchise from a season with low expectations?
  • How will MDA divvy up the minutes at point guard, shooting guard and small forward?
  • There are a bunch of dudes with partially guaranteed contracts fighting to become Lakers. Who has the best chance of sticking?
  • AAK!!! Is Sriracha or wasabi the superior spicy condiment? How can Blake Griffin shut up those who dismiss him as a one-dimensional dunker? What did we think of the “Breaking Bad” finale?
  • In a very cool story, Brandon Bass is learning how to swim as a 28 year-old adult. What skill would we each love to learn from scratch as even older adults? (On a related note, Brian has no idea what a “lathe” is.)

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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Mitch Kupchak on Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Mike D'Antoni, and the 2013-14 season

Posted by on Sep 26, 2013 in Dwight Howard, Jeanie Buss, Jim Buss, Jordan Hill, Kobe Bryant, Lakers Analysis, Lakers Audio, Mike D'Antoni, Mitch Kupchak, Opinion, Pau Gasol, Phil Jackson, Steve Blake, Steve Nash |

Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak took questions Wednesday in El Segundo, ahead of Saturday's big Media Day extravaganza kickoff bash to the see-what-sticks 2013-14 season. He covered plenty of ground over the course of about 35 minutes, and we'll get some of his comments, along with some amount of pithy commentary, up as soon as possible.

In the meantime, for those who want to hear the whole thing, here's the full audio:

And now some individual clips for those who prefer their press conferences pre-sifted…

Kupchak is probably right that the book excerpt in isolation doesn't impact the way potential free agents would view the city and the franchise, but collectively with other examples of family discord or disorganization, it absolutely matters. The perception of ownership makes a difference. Say what you want about Dwight Howard, but he was reportedly unimpressed with Jim Buss during the team's presentation to him. No question, Jim has a reputation to overcome.

Without question, many of the historic advantages held by the franchise are mitigated in today's NBA, for all sorts of reasons. If as an organization the Lakers have to overcome the perception that management in the post-Dr. Buss era isn't on the same page, it'll make things that much more difficult. Going forward, whatever conflict exists as Jim and Jeanie navigate a world without their dad needs to be kept in-house.

I find this one particularly interesting. Once again, Kupchak is pushing the (totally realistic and wise) notion the rebuilding process will extend beyond this offseason. Unless the Lakers sign LeBron James — not going to happen — the idea the Lakers play out this year then emerge next summer a fully reconstructed contender is far-fetched. More likely, it takes a couple years. Kupchak's message is sound: It's more important to rebuild correctly than it is to rebuild quickly.

Maybe I'm reading too far in between the lines here… but it sounds like they'd like to get the ball back in Nash's hands a little more, and avoid the “Magic Bryant” style of play they used last year, both to protect Kobe post-injury and best utilize the rest of the roster. (Meanwhile, I'm very optimistic about what Jordan Farmar might do for this year's team, and Kupchak's comments do little to temper those feelings.)

D'Antoni has plenty of support within the organization. He's not going anywhere. (Still, he might want to win a preseason game or two, just to be safe…)

One more interesting note: I asked Kupchak how many players the Lakers plan to carry this year, and he indicated management could be more inclined to carry a 14th or even 15th player into the season. Obviously, the team's injury situation plays a role in that decision. If the vets are still a little tender, more bodies are needed to limit their minutes and facilitate effective practices. But the Lakers also have a bunch of players in on cheap deals, representing some of their best access to young, potentially useful talent. It's worth the modest investment to see if one or two might pan out over the course of the year. All in all, very good news for the make-good guys in camp, and something to watch as the preseason plays out.

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