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Lonzo Ball vs. ?, Golden State vs. Everyone, Jerry West vs. the Lakers

Posted by on Jun 16, 2017 in Lakers Analysis, Lakers Audio, Magic Johnson, Opinion, Podcast | 2 comments

Those are the big themes this week, with the Finals complete and the Draft a week away.

We start on the Finals, and the fallout from Golden State’s dominant win over Cleveland, despite a historic performance from LeBron James and excellent work from Kyrie Irving. They, like the rest of the league, weren’t close. So what does that mean for the NBA, and specifically rebuilding teams like the Lakers?

From there, we look at the Draft. Plenty of smoke out there indicating the Lakers could pass on Lonzo Ball for Josh Jackson. Should they? What about a trade?

Finally, The Logo is back in Los Angeles, but (at least in the minds of many Lakers fans) working for the wrong squad. How upset should Lakers fans be?

And a reminder — we’ll be hosting ESPNLA’s post-Draft coverage from the facility in El Segundo on Thursday night, starting at 7 pm and running until we’re done. Given how much could be going on that night, we could be in for a long, intriguing show! Hope you can tune in.

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PODCAST! The NBA draft, coaching carousel, Kevin Love, Caitlyn Jenner, NBA Finals

Posted by on Jun 3, 2015 in Byron Scott, Jim Buss, Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Mitch Kupchak, Opinion, Podcast | 1 comment

It’s been a while, but we’re back in front of the podcast microphones! The NBA draft is a few weeks away, prospects are visiting El Segundo, and the 2014-2015 season is four-seven games away from crowning a champion. (Spoiler alert! It won’t be the Lakers.)

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: The Lakers own the second overall pick, which provides them a lot of options. They can select a big. They can select a guard. They can select a Porzingas. They can trade the pick. What’s the best route moving foward?
  • HEADLINES: Lot o’ coaching hires and fires of late. What to make of Scott Skiles, Alvin Gentry and Fred Hoiberg joining, respectively, Orlando, New Orleans and Chicago, along with the Bulls’ dismissal of Tom Thibodeau? And should the Lakers make a play for the newly unemployed Thibs?
  • OUR ALMOST TOP STORY: For the first time in eons, Kevin Love addressed the media since injuring his shoulder. Amid constant speculation about an impending departure from Cleveland, the power forward maintained his company line of remaining a Cavalier next season. Is he relaying sincere thoughts, or proactively putting an exit strategy in motion?
  • PERSON OF INTEREST: Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce Jenner, is the cover story of the upcoming issue of Vanity Fair, and will receive the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at next month’s ESPY’s. Both developments, along with Jenner’s very public transgender story, have raised awareness of transgender issues, but the ensuing discussion is inevitably complex, and for many, inevitably confusing.
  • OUR ALMOST, ALMOST TOP STORY: The NBA Finals are two days away from commencing! The Golden State Warriors are rightly the heavy favorite, but the Cavs have LeBron, which makes all bets feel off. Could LBJ actually lead an upset for the ages?

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! Kobe’s done (what’s next?), Ghostbusters reboot, Super Bowl and the mature J.R. Smith

Posted by on Jan 29, 2015 in Byron Scott, free agency, Jeanie Buss, Jeremy Lin, Jerry Buss, Jim Buss, Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers, Opinion, Podcast |

Kobe Bryant is on the shelf for the rest of the year and his availability and effectiveness for next season are in question… again.  After steadfastly projecting what I refer to as “faux competitiveness,” the Lakers front office is staring down another season without a postseason and and a summer of critical importance… again. And these crossroads feature a coach who’s yet to reveal himself as right choice moving forward… again.

The show can be heard by clicking on the module and a list of talking points can be found below. Among the talking points:

  • Kobe Bryant underwent successful surgery for a torn rotator cuff, meaning he’s done for the season. This being his third consecutive season ending injury, it’s fair to wonder whether he’ll call it an early retirement. But if Kobe does return, what can be realistically expected from the superstar guard next season? And either way, how should the Lakers move forward as an organization?
  • We take a look at the latest headlines. With Brandon Jennings and Kemba Walker injured, is Jeremy Lin suddenly a more valuable trade commodity? J.R. Smith is partying less in Cleveland than in New York. The Warriors reveals Chinese New Years jerseys that are either very classy, totally insulting, or both. The lineups for the All-Star Game’s three-point shooting and dunk contest are pretty damn awesome.
  • We react to the casting news for the all-female Ghostbusters reboot.
  • If Lance Armstrong could do it all over again, he’d do it exactly the same. And by “it,” he means “take PED.” What should we make of this rather candid admission?
  • It’s time for a Super Bowl-themed AAK!!! Who is the ideal halftime performer? Would we rather watch the game at the 50 yard line in person or on a 60-inch screen at a party? Do the K Bros root “Bud” or “Bud Light” in the Bud Bowl?

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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What I want for Kobe Bryant when he returns

Posted by on Nov 21, 2013 in Kobe Bryant, Lakers Analysis, Opinion, Steve Nash | 6 comments

When Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles last April, I was initially concerned that game against the Warriors could very well be his last. This is a brutal injury for any athlete, much less a 35-year old with the equivalent of about 20 seasons under his belt when you consider playoff mileage. The effects are typically devastating, the rehab is grueling, and few NBA players have been remotely the same afterward. Kobe’s also stated on countless occasions a deep disinterest in performing below his lofty standards. The league is filled with grizzled ballers hanging around in their late 30s because they’re either willing to accept a supporting role on a contending team or simply aren’t ready to abandon the NBA lifestyle. Bryant will never be among them. Once it’s clear he can’t play at a high level, he won’t play at all.

With all these factors potentially stacked against him, the notion of Bryant forced into retirement certainly crossed my mind, and it wasn’t a pleasant thought.

However, there’s also a part of me that would have been okay with this, because Kobe’s last act as a professional basketball player would have been draining two free throws while supported by an Achilles with all the stability of a wet noodle, which to me stands as the greatest accomplishment of his entire career.

Greater than the five titles. Greater than 81 points. Greater than anything else on his first ballot Hall of Fame resume.

Physically and especially mentally, that Kobe managed to summon the strength to sink those free throws is nothing short of amazing. The pain alone would be (quite understandably) enough reason to tap out. Instead, Kobe walked to the line under his own power. And mentally, the task was even more daunting. Kobe knew immediately what just happened, which means his mind must have ventured into a pretty dark place as he stared down an injury capable of forever changing him. With the Lakers’ postseason hopes in the balance, Kobe had already played through a few nasty collisions against Golden State. He was now tasked with sinking a pair of free throws to keep those playoffs hopes alive, all the while knowing there was no prayer of actually participating.

The focus required to simply hold back tears was Herculean. That Kobe actually succeeded under those circumstances was astonishing. I’ve never seen anything like that moment in all my years watching sports, and I’m not sure any other athlete could have met this challenge.

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Power Rankings Ire: Are the Lakers really the 20th best team in the NBA?

Posted by on Aug 4, 2013 in Kobe Bryant, Lakers Analysis, Lakers News, Mike D'Antoni, Opinion, Pau Gasol | 5 comments

Yes, at least according to these power rankings at SBNation.com.

20th, down there with the Pistons and Raptors, behind the Pelicans, Wizards, and Cavs. Fair*?

To some degree, the Lakers are a little tough to handicap. It’s clear they won’t contend for a title short of some Damn Yankees!-style bargaining, but it’s reasonable to argue last season’s debacle combined with the dark mood surrounding Dwight Howard’s departure has pushed people too far towards the negative. Lakers fans will point to the end of the year (28-12!), and note how during the 2012-13 season basically everything capable of going wrong, did, and that had Steve Nash and Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill and Steve Blake stayed healthy and the beginning of the year not been such an excrement show of coaching changes and foul chemistry, they might have been challenging for home court advantage in the last week of the season, not just trying to get into the tournament.

So maybe people are piling on.

But probably not.

It’s not that the Lakers don’t have the potential to be a mid-to-(much, much more likely)-low end playoff team in the West, and it’s easy enough to look at the roster and say, Kobe Bryant! Steve Nash! Pau Gasol! Still plenty of name brand talent! Decent work in the free agent market, too. Except it’s not even a matter of peering behind the curtain. The team’s flaws, and considerable obstacles they’ll face, are out there in plain sight:

  • Bryant, despite his many adamantium parts, is coming back from an injury typically devastating to players of his age. I’m probably more optimistic than most, believing he’ll be back sooner rather than later looking something pretty similar to the Kobe Bryant we’re familiar with. But even then, I’m not talking about Day 1. If in his mid-20′s Dwight Howard required half a season to touch previous form (off a totally different injury, but one in the same neighborhood of significance), Kobe in his mid-30′s will need time, too. Most of us made the mistake last year of confusing Dwight’s presence for his return. I’m not making the same mistake again.
  • Gasol, at 33, is coming off surgeries on both knees, something that would be much bigger news if not for Kobe’s recovery.
  • Nash, who defied the odds in Phoenix by stringing together a bunch of healthy seasons into his late 30′s, now needs to prove he can stay healthy in L.A..
  • It’s not like Jordan Hill has been the picture of health over his career, either. If he, Gasol, or Chris Kaman miss any time, the Lakers as currently constructed become painfully thin up front. If the Lakers were an injury risk last year, what would the actuaries say about this crew?
  • Even if the offense clicks, and there’s no reason to believe a healthy roster will have trouble scoring, the Lakers will almost certainly be “John Carter” awful on the defensive end. Consider how bad they were without Howard on the floor last season, then subtract Metta World Peace, their second best defender. No scheme of Kurt Rambis can fix the fundamental problem of personnel. If Mike D’Antoni morphed into Tom Thibodeau, it wouldn’t matter. (Actually, it would, but this option feels unrealistic.) A bad defensive team can only win so many games, and even in the best-case scenario for these Lakers, being anything more than average will be a monumental struggle.

The Western Conference has six teams — OKC, San Antonio, the Clippers, Houston, Golden State, and Memphis — ranging from light years to unquestionably better than the Lakers. Denver is too, even with a recovering Danilo Gallinari and no Andre Iguodala. If the Wolves stay healthy, they’ll contend for a playoff spot, and Portland quietly improved. The Pelicans could — could — make a little noise, as well. There will be plenty of competition for what could be one, maybe two spots in a season the Lakers enter with little margin for error. Add in teams in the East, and it’s easy to see how the Lakers move down the list, even if some squads are getting a boost for boldness or newness for which they may not prove worthy.

Of course, losing games in 2013-14 is hardly worst thing in the world. It improves L.A.’s draft position, and as the year goes on makes unloading whatever chips they have (Gasol, Hill, and perhaps Blake) to gather assets that much easier. Mediocrity serves no purpose in the NBA, and the odds strongly favor this team being mediocre, or a little worse. Are they really the 20th best team? I’d stick ‘em a couple rungs higher on the ladder, but with so many health questions surrounding critical players, at this point it’s hard to argue much.

*(Setting aside for a moment that Power Rankings are meaningless during the season, and even less so in August, I digress…)

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