All things considered, the preseason for the Lakers to this point has been relatively encouraging. Among your more positive signs:
- Pau Gasol looks comfortable and productive. In 22 minutes against the Kings Thursday in Vegas, Pau posted 13/5/5, on 6-of-9 from the floor. This backing up a smooth 14/8/2 against Denver a couple nights earlier. While the Lakers are smartly managing his workload, it looks like Gasol is far, far better off physically now than he was a year ago.
- The Gasol/Chris Kaman combination has worked better than I figured it would. Defensive vulnerabilities aside, at the very least it looks like a viable option for Mike D'Antoni, one potentially producing some very entertaining and efficient offensive sequences. One way to protect yourself in transition? Take good (and even better, make) good shots.
- Shawne Williams hasn't exactly lit the world on fire, but looks like he'll add another useful option for D'Antoni as he shakes his Boggle box of lineup combinations.
- Kobe is at 100 percent on the Alter-G treadmill (that's good!), and even while sidelined has managed to find ways to dominate. In an eyewear obsessed NBA culture, the frames Bryant wore the other day at practice basically said this to his peers.
Still, given what we all know has to go well for the Lakers to surprise people and compete at a reasonably high level in the Western Conference this season — and by that, I mean basically everything — Thursday wasn't exactly a banner day. Steve Nash played only nine minutes thanks to an ankle that has been squishy since last month. After the game, Nash generally downplayed the significance of the injury, but at least in print (I didn't hear the audio) his comments don't exactly inspire. Quotes like “I feel fairly confident it shouldn't be a huge issue” contain enough hedging to landscape a nice two-bedroom craftsman.
Meanwhile, D'Antoni was West Virginia blunt, admitting to the media after that Nash could very well miss time over the course of the year. It is in these moments you're reminded we're talking about the oldest player in the NBA. The Lakers do have some options at guard, and even without Nash can put together multiple backcourt combinations. With diligent maintenance and a little bit of luck, maybe Nash can be steered through the season successfully, and all of this is moot.
But at a time where everyone rightly wants to be as optimistic as possible and dream big, Nash's early bruises (along with Farmar's problems, and Wes Johnson's as well) harshes L.A.'s collective mellow and reminds that L.A.'s margins are, in cheap furniture terms, thinner than an oak veneer laid over particle board.
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.
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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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For this show, we decided to think outside the box and focus the majority of conversation around Dwight Howard joining the Houston Rockets. A bold approach, for certain, but we've never been afraid to buck convention. The show can be heard by clicking on the module, and below is a breakdown of talking points.
- When Dwight Howard was traded to the Lakers nearly a year ago, even with his fickle reputation acknowledged, the idea of him bolting felt insane. By the time he decided to jump ship, a separation felt inevitable. What went wrong for Howard and the Lakers?
- According to multiple reports, Kobe Bryant's pitch to Dwight during last week's meeting was more of a direct challenge than bro hug. Clearly, the result wasn't a center inspired. Did Kobe overstep his boundaries or does Dwight just not get it?
- Did Jim Buss choose Mike D'Antoni over Howard (and, by extension, Phil Jackson)?
- Speaking of Jimmy, his reputation among Laker fans is hardly rock solid. How much will it further suffer as a result of losing Dwight?
- And speaking of Dwight, there's a prevalent narrative stating he got the hell outta Dodge because he couldn't handle the pressure that comes with being a Laker. Is this actually fair?
- In any event, the Lakers have no choice but to move forward. With that in mind, their first free agent acquisition has been announced: Chris Kaman! Was this a good use of the entire mini mid-level exception? Is it a sign of the impending approach for filling out the remaining roster holes?
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.