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How Good Is the Young Core (Compared To All the Others)?

Posted by on Apr 5, 2017 in Lakers Analysis, Lakers Audio, Opinion, Podcast | 3 comments

The big question facing the Lakers as the season winds down (other than those related to lottery odds) centers around the young core, and determining where the Lakers need to go from here. How good are these guys, exactly? How do they compare with other young cores around the league? The answer goes a long way to determining just how far the Lakers need to go, given all the teams they need to jump to reach the top — or even the semi-top — of the Western Conference.

It was a theme running through a few big picture NBA features this week, whether talking about the best of the worst teams in the Association, or how re-do’s of the last two Drafts might look.

All that, plus big headlines (KD returning, Cleveland bickering) and a Hallmark Christmas Quiz.

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Nick Young the Hero, Randle’s Upside, R&R HOF, and Kwame!

Posted by on Oct 21, 2016 in Julius Randle, Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Lakers Analysis, Lakers Audio, Lou Williams, Luke Walton | 2 comments

The Lakers (and every other NBA team) are just about ready to kick off the 2016-17 season. Sweet! So what to watch for?

After the big headlines of the day, including stories of Melo-as-activist and an admission from Kevin Durant about what motivated his move to Golden State — we break down this year’s NBA.com GM Survey. What are the surprises? What do GM’s say about the Lakers, and Luke Walton?

From there… it’s Nick Young. Because he’s the most surprising story of training camp, and it’s really not close. After, we take a look at Julius Randle, probably the most “controversial” Lakers young ‘un, insofar as future projections are concerned. How good to opposing scouts think he is?

Finally, we cap this week’s episode with our yearly look at the newest nominees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame… and hand out a statue to Kwame Brown!

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Podcast: Byron Scott Out, Luke Walton In…

Posted by on May 3, 2016 in Lakers Analysis, Lakers Audio, Opinion, Podcast |

 

The king is dead, long live the king.

Barely a week ago, the Lakers let Byron Scott go. Technically, they chose not to pick up his option, as opposed to firing him. Technically. But before we could get around to talking about it, BAM! The Lakers went out and landed Luke Walton, the beloved former Laker and hottest name remaining on the coaching market this offseason. So … good move? We discuss.

(Spoiler alert, we’re not booing, we’re saying “Luuuuuuuuuuuke.”)

All that, plus all of your NBA headlines, including Carmelo Anthony making it abundantly clear he doesn’t want to Kurt Rambis coaching him next year, the Clippers again facing questions, and the Space Jam reboot lands its director. (Which is really just an excuse for AK to talk about The Fast and the Furious franchise.)

Plus, another peek at the Secret LaMarcus Aldridge Audio Recordings, a statue for Byron Scott, and a big week in Magic Johnson tweets!

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Kobe Bryant, the Lakers, and loyalty

Posted by on Nov 4, 2014 in Kobe Bryant, Lakers Analysis, Opinion | 2 comments

I love my wife.

I’m fortunate, too, to have a strong and (far as I know) happy marriage. Still, because it’s a marriage there are moments of frustration and tension. When they come, I still have no interest in leaving because I love my wife and live a far better life with her than without. But while that is the primary and overwhelming consideration, it’s not the only one. I wouldn’t do anything potentially jeopardizing access to my boys. Pushing 40 and off the market for a decade (sorry ladies), the idea of dating seems foreign and absurd. I don’t want to divide all our stuff in half, not that there’s that much of it. Independence, if I wanted it, comes with real costs.

Which brings me to Kobe Bryant.

Before the legs grew too long, Bryant shot down the (and I use this term in its loosest possible sense) “rumors” of potentially asking — or perhaps demanding — his way out of L.A., ostensibly to escape the brush fire quickly enveloping the 2014-15 season and end his career with a title opportunity.

Via Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports:

“I hear the chatter of Kobe should ask out and he should go and play for a contender in this latter stage of his career,” Bryant told Yahoo Sports. “But that’s not what I do. I’m extremely loyal to the Lakers… I believe in fighting through the tough times as well as enjoying the good times. It’s my responsibility to get us to be the best that we can be. It’s important that we approach that on a day-to-day basis.”

and…

“I’ve enjoyed a great amount of success here. You can’t just enjoy the successful times and then run away from the bad ones. No, I don’t even think about [departing]. I’m a Laker.”

There’s no reason to doubt his sincerity. Kobe should be loyal to the Lakers, supported for nearly two decades with aggressive roster building and about $280 million in salary, with another $25 mil on the way next season. When the Lakers had to choose between him and Shaquille O’Neal, they (rightly) chose Kobe. When Colorado happened, they stood by him. When he demanded trades to far flung former planets, the Lakers attempted to oblige him, but then quietly rode it out and eventually acquired Pau Gasol.

Everybody, from the organization to Bryant to Lakers fans, has been a huge winner in the relationship. It makes total sense for Kobe to stay, even if the team is losing. But his comments don’t provide a full view of the landscape. Bryant obviously understands the optics, and how awful it would look to force his way out after being given a $48.5 million contract before actually playing a game following his Achilles surgery. It’s a deal, after all, contributing to the predicament in which he currently finds himself.

(And no, I do not buy his explanation that the Lakers simply granted him this money. If there was no negotiation, it’s because the Lakers knew the numbers they had to hit to avoid any controversy. Whether they handled it properly is a separate debate.)

And where would he go? Yes, he’s looked good this year and still carries tremendous cache, but Kobe is nonetheless a 36-year old guard coming off two big injuries, with a massive cap number this year and next, for whom the Lakers would demand major assets in return, holding veto power over any deal potentially stripping his new team of too much stuff. For all the talk of New York being an ideal landing spot, with plenty of organizational familiarity in Phil Jackson upstairs and Derek Fisher on the sidelines (plus the sexiness factor of Kobe playing every night at The Garden), I don’t think the Knicks would actually pull the trigger. Phil has a plan. Giving up picks and young talent to have Kobe obliterate $25 million of his cap space next season isn’t part of it.

Particularly since Carmelo Anthony, Kobe, and J.R. Smith don’t make a likely championship trio, even in the East. Phil knows that, and more importantly, so does Kobe. His well-documented hyper-competitiveness notwithstanding, he’d recognize the brand and emotional connection built playing every year of his transcendent career with the same iconic franchise has more value than a very speculative shot at a sixth ring, even in New York.

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if not the Knicks, where? He’s extremely hard to trade, and the only thing more damaging to Kobe’s rep than forcing his way out of Los Angeles would be trying and failing.

For all the chest-puffing, social media driven, “Winning is the only thing” hyper-Lombardi-ism infecting our sports culture, there are still things we value as much as final scores. In different combinations for different situations, fair play, honesty, character, and loyalty all matter. Titles can be tainted should too many of those qualities be compromised in the process. Kobe might want more hardware, but doesn’t need it. Does a sixth ring really help Kobe’s legacy if brought by bailing on the Lakers? Is even a crack at the postseason enough to sacrifice everything else he’s built up?

In the end, the Lakers and Kobe are married to each other,* for better or for… well, this. When the two-year extension was offered and signed, both sides understood what could be coming. There would be attempts to improve the team, but they might not work. Fingers crossed, the Lakers might surprise people. But they might not, and the Lakers could not afford any heroics aimed at saving the end of the Kobe Era at the expense of whatever comes after. Kobe, eyes open, chose, deep continuity and money. The Lakers knew, and did the same. They didn’t offer Bryant that contract purely out of loyalty after years of success, after all. He keeps them relevant and brings income. They made PR calculations, too, particularly in the post-Dwight Howard aftermath.

Doesn’t devalue the loyalty the Lakers and Kobe are showing each other, but nobody should pretend it’s the only thing in play.

Maybe something comes along, changing the calculus for one side or the other. Maybe the perfect opportunity presents itself to give Bryant one last chance at a chip while helping the Lakers rebuild faster after he’s gone. More likely, though — much, much more likely — Bryant stays, ending his career in purple and gold, honored and revered for his accomplishments, just with less glory than everyone would have hoped.

*It can be argued, fairly easily really, a trade demand from Bryant — petitioning for a divorce, to flog the marriage metaphor that much more — does the Lakers a favor, since it takes the blame for ending the Kobe Era in L.A. off their hands. He, by definition, asked for it, and that’s the only way this process could start. But that’s a different discussion. 

 

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Podcast!!! Kobe v. Dwight, Swaggy’s P and T, Byron Scott, Steve Ballmer, and Robin Williams

Posted by on Aug 16, 2014 in Byron Scott, Carmelo Anthony, Donald Sterling, Dwight Howard, Greg Monroe, Jeanie Buss, Jerry Buss, Jim Buss, Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Kobe Bryant, Lakers Analysis, LeBron James, Opinion | 1 comment

A few weeks ago, it was silly season. Now, it’s slow season, but that doesn’t mean “no” season! (As in no-thing to talk about… I’ll show myself out.) As training camp creeps a little closer by the day, there is definitely some ground to cover.

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

  • A look at the latest headlines. DeMarcus Cousins had an injury scare practicing with Team USA. He should be fine, but does this add to the concerns about NBA players’ offseason commitments? Steph Curry says he’s a better offensive player than LeBron James. Believable? And speaking of LeBron, he and Carmelo Anthony are really, really skinny.
  • The Lakers have an official schedule, but given how the team isn’t realistically in contention, the specifics feel inherently less exciting. For example, are fans (much less the participants themselves) still geeked to see Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard finally square off more than one year after their separation? Generally speaking, the stakes aren’t pressing, and stakes are what make schedule intriguing.
  • Having said that, the Lakers play 28 nationally-televised games this season despite strong odds of missing the playoffs. Safe to say, Kobe remains one helluva draw.
  • What does it do for Byron Scott’s legacy with the Lakers if he ends up a rousing success as a coach?
  • How does the Lakers’ apparent non-pursuit of Eric Bledsoe and Greg Monroe feel with the players reportedly set to accept respective qualifying offers from Phoenix and Detroit?
  • We discuss Brian’s recent article for The Cauldron about Steve Ballmer taking over as owner of the Clippers, and how it changes the L.A. basketball landscape.
  • It’s time for AAK!!! What doubles tournament sport would the K Bros fare best at? Is it possible to barbeque a Hot Pocket? How long should one wait before dating again after the death of a treasured pet lizard?
  • We take a look at the life, legacy and career of Robin Williams.

 

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