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Being super-rich means the Lakers can be super-patient

Posted by on Jul 2, 2014 in Uncategorized | 5 comments

If you haven’t read the breakdown by Zach Lowe on Jason Kidd’s exodus from Brooklyn for Grantland, it’s well worth the time. But beyond some excellent details of how that whole unquestionably strange mess came to be, the story contained an eye-popping little nugget sure to interest Lakers fans:

“The Thunder are indeed paying into the revenue-sharing system, rare for such a tiny market, but they’re slated to make nearly $29 million in profit when everything is netted out. That’s the fifth-best projection in the league, trailing only the Lakers ($100.1 million), Bulls ($61 million), Rockets ($40.7 million), and Celtics ($33.1 million)… Holy cow, the Lakers! They end up with that huge profit despite contributing a league-high $49 million to revenue sharing.”

Yes, the Lakers cleared $39 million more (!) than any other team in the league, despite suffering the worst season on record since packing up the trailers and moving from Minneapolis. Despite Kobe missing all but six games, despite failing to sell out every game at Staples, luxury tax payments, and the aforementioned revenue sharing bill.

Yowza!

With free agency officially underway, the Lakers have been connected in one way or another to just about every name on the market, from the obvious big fish (LeBron, Carmelo, Bosh) to the guys a tier below (Kyle Lowry, Greg Monroe, Luol Deng, and so on). That’ll happen, in part because the Lakers, who don’t even have half a roster, are probably interested in just about every name on the market, and also because every name on the market has a vested interest in making the Lakers appear interested. Without question, the Lakers would like to figure out a way to beat the odds and improve quickly, whether by straight signings or trades absorbing players into their vast, verdant meadows of cap space. I can accept the possibility the Lakers become a decent enough team next year. Title contending, no. Playoff contending? I can accept that (even while not betting on it).

What I can’t accept, though, is the thought process stating the Lakers MUST do something bold, because they CAN’T POSSIBLY go through another year like last. Fans will revolt! They’ll stop showing up! Ratings will tank! And so on! Except assuming Kobe plays, a lot of that won’t happen. Watching the team again struggle would suck but with likely only two years of Bryant remaining, people aren’t going to skip their last handful of opportunities to see him live, whether at home and especially on the road. That’s part of the value he has to the organization.

But let’s say I’m wrong. Let’s say people don’t show up. It’ll look bad for people to see empty seats, but those tickets will still be sold. The Lakers have a wait list for season tickets thousands of applicants deep. Anyone giving theirs up in a fit of pique won’t be getting them back. And even if the Lakers lose sales for a couple years, and they won’t, at least in any meaningful way… they have to figure out how to lose $100 million in profits before landing in the red.

There will be angst. There will be anger. But if the Lakers can’t hit a home run this offseason and are forced by circumstance to keep their proverbial powder dry (or most of it, at least), absolutely nothing will happen that won’t be instantly be cured by getting good again in a year or two. Lakers fans aren’t going to abandon the franchise over a couple years of necessary futility, and nor should they. So the Lakers can do what they think is right, without worrying what media types, or celebs in the lower bowl, think. Yes, it’s uncomfortable for fans not to know who’s next after Kobe. I’m sure it’s uncomfortable for the Lakers, too. But finding a good answer is far more important than finding any answer.

The idea is to build a genuine championship contender, not to compete for a six-seed every year, and to that end the news passed along by Lowe has the potential to be a positive force for the Lakers.

A few more thoughts on free agency…

  • I get waiting to see what Melo and LeBron do, but the Lakers need to be careful about waiting too long. There’s a good chance most of the big action, whatever it is, happens after James and Anthony are off the market, but teams who don’t feel they have a shot at either won’t stand still, and secondary players interested in security might snap up solid offers sooner rather than later. The Lakers have to balance the home run swing with the need to make contact. The cheap, young, lesser known players of the world – think Kent Bazemore – could be gone quickly. There are opportunity costs associated with trying for, and not getting, the superstars.
  • The idea LA won’t sign any non-elite FA to deals longer than a year or two, and there’s been plenty of chatter about that, basically means they won’t get any of them. Jodie Meeks got three years and nearly $20 million from the Pistons. Golden State gave Shaun Livingston 3/$16 million. Do the Lakers really think Kyle Lowry is going to take two years? Or that two years might be enough to get Greg Monroe to sign an offer sheet, or have the Pistons not match? In the end, I don’t really believe the Lakers will limit themselves to that degree for players the genuinely want and believe can grow with the rebuild.
  • That the Lakers would want to keep a clean cap sheet to woo the Durants and Westbrooks of the world makes sense, but at the same time they have to build a real team to attract them. The “blank slate, we’ll build a winner around you, we always have and always will and look at the pile of money!” sales pitch doesn’t really work these days, it seems. Elite players want to join a team with infrastructure, meaning the Lakers need to build some even if (ok, when) James and (probably) Melo end up somewhere else. Assuming they don’t wildly overspend on Genuinely Bad Idea Players, it’s ok to shell out three or four years. Most good talent can be moved in a pinch.
  • Whatever the Lakers can do to absorb talent through trades, they should. As we’ve already seen with the Meeks deal, player contracts can inflate quickly. The Lakers could, and probably will, have to pay more than performance might merit, particularly with any restricted free agents. It’s the price of doing business.
  • My appreciation for Anthony grew a ton this year, given how he handled a dumpster fire of a season in New York. That said, the idea of giving a 30-year old Melo $96 million for four years, knowing it might not be until the third year the Lakers are title-competitive, makes me squeamish. Not saying I wouldn’t do it, but his will be a giant contract on the books while his skills are, at the very least, not ascending.
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PODCAST! LA’s front office rank, D’Antoni and/or Meeks returning (?) , Kobe and Trayvon Martin, facts about 1960

Posted by on Apr 5, 2014 in ESPN, Jeanie Buss, Jim Buss, Jodie Meeks, Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Kobe Bryant, Lakers history, Mike D'Antoni, Opinion |

The good news? The Lakers entered Friday’s action with only seven games remaining before the season mercifully comes to an end. The bad news? It’s not six.

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

  • We take a look at the latest headlines. Phil Jackson says CAA ties won’t influence him as Knicks Prez. Dick Bavetta has set a seriously amaze-balls new record! Will Jabari stay in school? Are the Lakers really the NBA’s 16th best front office?
  • Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding says the Lakers might not show Mike D’Antoni the door this offseason. Don’t kill the messengers, by the way. We’re just the guys discussing the potential reasons why.
  • We play another episode of “Should The Lakers Bring Back This Guy,” with Jodie Meeks as the latest contestant.
  • As of this recording, the Lakers have exactly 50 losses, which ties the second-highest total in franchise history, set in 1960 when the team was still housed in Minneapolis! To illustrate just how long it’s been since the Lakers sat on 50 losses, I quiz Brian on his knowledge of 1960, and offer some fun facts about 1960! (FYI: The all-time mark for losses is 52 during the 1975 season, which means an “All About 1975!” segment is waiting in the wings.)
  • We discuss Kobe Bryant’s comments in the New Yorker regarding black causes and Trayvon Martin, along with the way stories like these are covered in the world of 24/7 news and social media.

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

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Podcast! Bizarre wins, Steve Nash’s return, Pau Gasol in limbo, 50 Shades of Sasha

Posted by on Feb 7, 2014 in Jim Buss, Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Kobe Bryant, Lakers Analysis, Magic Johnson, Mike D'Antoni, Mitch Kupchak, Opinion, Pau Gasol, Podcast, Steve Nash |

Steve Blake, Steve Nash, Jordan Farmar are back. Jodie Meeks and Nick Young are now out. The names on the injury list may change, but by and large, everything else remains the same, including a largely uninterrupted string of losses. Wish we had better news to report, but these podcasts are unfortunately based on true stories.

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

Click above to play, or just download the show hereHope 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: Steve Nash’s future, Pau Gasol’s health, the Lakers’ identity and guilty pleasure music

Posted by on Nov 15, 2013 in Boniface N'Dong, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Jim Buss, Jordan Hill, Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Kobe Bryant, Mike D'Antoni, Mitch Kupchak, Opinion, Pau Gasol, Phil Jackson, Podcast, Steve Nash | 3 comments

With ten games officially in the books, what to make of the .500-ish Lakers and the way things have thus far shaken out, Joe Q. PurpleAndGoldFan asks. Well, lucky for Joe Q. PurpleAndGoldFan, we happened to have an afternoon free to answer that same pressing question. 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 run through the headlines! Yahoo! reports the Knicks are targeting Kevin Love in 2015. Coach K thinks flopping is… un-American??? Matt Barnes loses his mind against the Thunder and on Twitter. J.R. Smith defends his brother’s honor against Brandon Jennings.
  • Steve Nash’s health has taken a turn for the (even) worse. Nerve damage related to last season’s problems has the point guard shelved for at least another week, and that is likely optimistic. What does the future hold for Canada’s favorite son?
  • In the meantime, Pau Gasol’s health/age issues aren’t nearly as extreme as Nash’s, but foot, respiratory, and conditioning problems, plus his advancing years, have nonetheless conspired to create a slow start. Is it possible El Spaniard can regain the All-Star form Mike D’Antoni predicted in the preseason?
  • Are the Lakers struggling to discover their “identity?”
  • AAK!!! If powerful aliens were to demand one celebrity sacrifice a year in exchange for the Earth’s safety, who would we nominate as the first to go? Which was the most seismic event in Lakers history: The nixed CP3 deal, D’Antoni getting hired over Phil Jackson, or Dwight Howard’s departure? What is our favorite guilty pleasure song, and what music do people try to make us feel guilty for not liking?
  • I share my theory about former NBA fringe big men Mamadou N’Diaye and Boniface N’Dong. It will blow your mind!


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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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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