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Talking With: Ronnie Lester, Part II

In the first part of our interview with Lakers Assistant GM Ronnie Lester, we covered the "science" of drafting, what the Lakers planned to do with their picks, and the development of Andrew Bynum, among other topics. In the second installment, we talk a little more draft, some trade rumors, summer league, and whether or not there will be a spot available for me or AK. Not to give anything away...but there isn't.

BK

Brian Kamenetzky: You talked about how scouting isn't an exact science.  Who is a guy that you thought would be great that didn't pan out, or a guy that you thought was underrated going into the draft that panned out?  Whether you drafted them or not?

Ronnie Lester: That's a tough question. You can go back. I can't name anybody off the top of my head, but if you go back and look at the drafts the last 12, 14 years, you can always find guys that went pretty high in the draft and didn't have really good NBA careers for whatever reasons. Injuries may have played a part. And you can find other guys that were second-round picks who have gone on to have great careers, and play a long time. Cedric Ceballos comes to mind as a second-round pick out of Fullerton back in I think the late '80s, maybe '90, who was a mid-second-round pick that went on to have a great career. Guys like that. But if you go back and look at the media guide, the draft book, you can find tons of instances, I think, of guys like that.

Andrew Kamenetzky: Or someone like Udonis Haslem, who wasn't even drafted and is now starting for a team competing for a championship. (The interview was conducted last week, before Miami's clinching victory.)

RL: To me, there are a lot of guys who play four years of college and they're pretty good players, but they're not ready to play at the NBA level when they get out of college. They go someplace else, whether it's Europe, the minor leagues, and they keep developing. They keep working on their games and two years down the road, they find themselves on an NBA team. There are a lot of routes to the NBA. Being drafted and being a high pick and coming in with all the fanfare and all of that is one way to make it, but kids go different routes to get to the NBA.

AK: Speaking of different routes, Smush was a guy that was off the radar but ended up having a pretty good season for you last year. Was he someone you had your eye on?

RL: We had him in. He only played one year at Fordham and put his name in the draft. We had him in, and worked him out after his one year of collegiate basketball at Fordham. He was a junior college kid, by the way. He played one year of junior college ball then transferred to Fordham, sat out, and played one year at Fordham. But we had him in after his one year playing at Fordham, and we liked some things about him. He was long for a guard, he was athletic. Didn't shoot the ball real well. We liked him some, but didn't think he was good enough at that point in time to draft, or to be a part of our summer league team. And guys you like a little bit, you keep track of them over the years. I think that year he played with Cleveland, Cleveland may have been the worst team in the league. I think the next year he to Europe and played, then he came back and I think he made Detroit's team. Went there as a free agent. He made that team until January, the cut down date. Then he went to the D-League when they released him, and then he got called up to Phoenix when Nash went down a couple years ago. Two 10-day deals, and they eventually sent him back.

We have a guy who covers the minor leagues for us. One of our scouts (Irving Thomas) covers the CBA and the D-League, and he saw Smush play. Smush played for the Florida team, and put up a couple triple doubles, which is kind of eye-opening for a 6-foot-4 guard. We had a mini-camp that year, and we brought Smush in, and he was the best player in our mini-camp. From the mini-camp we invited him to the summer league, which was last year. He played on the summer league team and played well for us. And we signed him to a two-year deal. But we had known of Smush coming out of Fordham because we had brought him in. But again, he wasn't ready and he went someplace else for two or three years to get better as a player. He came aboard this year, started every game for us, and had, I think, a very good season for us and himself. Averaged double figures, I think, 10 points a game (actually 11.5 ppg). Shot the ball decently at 45%, and I don't know where we'd be without Smush, because we needed someone like him in our backcourt this year. And if we're going to improve from this season, winning 45 games to maybe winning in the 50s, we need another player in our backcourt to help us like Smush did last year.

BK: Is that aspect of the workout season — guys that don't make the team or don't get drafted stay on a team's radar — a lesser known part of the process?

RL: Well, everything you see, you encompass. You write down, you store things. Not only on paper but in the back of your head. Players you like. There are players you like that get drafted by other teams. And they could be cut from those teams for whatever reason. So you know who you like, and if players are available and you think they're good enough to help you, you try to acquire those players or bring them in to take a look at them.

AK: There's a lot of talk about you guys trading up in the draft. Is that something that you're interested in or thinking about?

RL: We'd be interested in trading up, yeah. You hear a lot of teams in the draft, especially lower in the draft, really don't want their picks. So yeah. There are six teams in the first round that have multiple picks. Six teams have two picks, so you kind of target those teams. In a draft like this, which like you said is not a great draft, a lot of teams don't want their one pick, so why would they want two? So you talk to those teams, and I think if we can move up, we'll try to do that. Sure.

BK: When you do that, is it just about getting a better player? Does it also have to do with thinking about roster construction one, two or three years down the road in terms of who you'd have to give up to get a higher pick?

RL: A little bit of that, but normally the most important thing is moving up to get the player you want. That's the most important thing. You worry about other things after that. If you think there's a player there that can help you to become a better team, you move five or six spots to get that player. That's what you want to do, you want to improve your team.

AK: Do you guys have the pieces to do that?

RL: It depends on what a team is asking for. It may not be players involved. It may be picks down the road. And we have picks. We have, I think a lot of picks, especially second-round picks, and potentially some good second-round picks in some of the deals we've made with Charlotte, which could be potentially two pretty good picks. I think we have two of their picks going forward in the next couple years. From [Kareem] Rush and Jumaine Jones. So players don't have to be involved, it could be picks. And those picks in the 30s are pretty valuable picks I think.

BK: How much do things like J.J. Redick's recent DUI affect a player's draft status or what you would think about him?

RL: Honestly, it depends on the player. J.J. Redick, I think, is pretty highly thought of in this draft. A guy that you'd say is probably in the top half of the draft. Would that affect his draft status? I don't think very much.

BK: Because he has a strong track record of "good behavior"?

RL: Yeah. I think that and he's the player that he is. Being the player you are determines some of that, too. If the guy's not a very good player, then you look at it a little bit differently I think. If you liked J.J. Redick before this incident, you're probably still going to like him as a player.

BK: You guys could use a shooter.

RL: (laughs) Everybody could use a shooter.

AK: It seems like as a team, you avoid "character questions." Either in trading for guys, signing guys, it tends not to be something you do. Is it something you prioritize highly?

RL: We delve into the backgrounds of players, especially of players you're interested in. Especially if there have been incidents over the course of their careers. You want to bring in good players but you also want to bring in good people that are going to represent your organization the correct way. So that's part of it. Initially, you evaluate kids on skill and ability to play at this level, and if there are some underlying things like a checkered past, you want to check that out and be comfortable with bringing a kid in here.

AK: Even with established players, outside of Isiah Rider about five years ago, I can't think of the last guy who came in who had a long history of issues.

BK: Kwame would probably be the closest thing.

RL: Like I said, even if you're trading for players, signing free agents, or drafting kids, you want to bring in not only good players that you think can help your team, but you want to bring in good people who are going to represent the organization the right way too. Sure.

BK: Who from the current roster do you anticipate playing this summer?

RL: Andrew Bynum. Von Wafer. Devin Green, who's a restricted free agent, has indicated that he's going to play with us in the summer league. And Ronny Turiaf would have played but he's working out with the French national team. He may play with the French national team this summer, so he's working towards that end, getting himself in the best shape he possibly can be in, and he'll start practicing with those guys. I think they start in early July. So he won't be available for the summer league.

BK: What is the process of filling out the rest of the team? Can you start now, or do you have to wait until after the draft?

RL: You can start now with free agent type players. And we have probably eight players already committed to play with us in summer league. We have two draft choices who will play with us in summer league. You take the three kids, the rookies that we had last year, plus the draft picks is five. We've got commitments from other kids that we've seen over the last year or two, whether they were in the draft last year, whether they were minor league players, European players, all of that.

BK: Can you be specific about who they are?

RL: Yeah. Kasib Powell, who was a small forward, played at Texas Tech. He's gonna play with us in summer league. Nile Murry. He's a two guard who played at TCU. I think he transferred in there from Temple. We have a point guard by the name of Doron Perkins, who played at Santa Clara a year ago. Went over and played in Japan this past year. Nick Horvath, who played at Duke. 6-foot-10 kid. He's gonna play with us. Been playing professionally in Australia. And I think that's it.

BK: So that leaves one spot for one of us.

RL: (Trying hard not to shudder at the notion) Yeah, yeah.

AK: Having had Andrew, Von and Devin on the roster for a year, none of them played a whole lot, especially down the stretch. What specifically are you guys looking to see from them in terms of evaluating their progress when they're on the floor in Long Beach?

RL: Well, like you said, those kids haven't played. And they need to play. That's how you get better, by playing. They've been practicing all year, working hard all year. They're here now. We've got our young kids working out in the mornings now. And I think they've all gotten better. We'll see by the summer league. We'll be able to judge by playing against other teams and other players. If they've gotten better and how much they've gotten better. We think they have. I think they're all good kids. I think they all want to get better. But the summer league just gives you an indication if they've gotten better and how much better they've gotten. But the big thing is, those kids have been here all year, but they haven't really played. Practice is not like playing in a game. And they need to play. And so we're going to play as many games as we can, I think maybe eight or nine games in the summer league. And those guys will play the majority of the minutes. And you just like to see them develop and get better going into training camp.

AK: You run the triangle during summer league. Are you evaluating not only how well they learned it as rookies but also how comfortable they are with being the guys that the new players come to with questions?

RL: Sure. Those guys have been around. They've been practicing in this system for a year. They should know it like the back of their hands, really. And we expect those guys to be our best players. The kids you draft, you expect them to be your best players. But you're not only evaluating them, you're evaluating the young guys that you bring in too. The draft choices. The free agent type players. And we'll invite some of those guys to camp with a chance to compete against the guys we had last year to make our team. We're probably going to have three or four spots available, I would think. And those spots are up for grabs, to make our team. To make our roster. Devin Green is a restricted free agent, who we like. We have Von Wafer under contract. Ronny Turiaf's under contract. Both those contracts aren't guaranteed. If somebody comes in here and beats those guys out, then those guys (that got beat out) are probably looking for jobs. And Von Wafer, just because he played last year, he's not assured of being back next year. None of those guys are, with non-guaranteed deals.

BK: Basically, anybody who doesn't have a guaranteed contract through '06-'07 isn't guaranteed to be on the roster in '06-'07.

RL: No. Those guys will go into training camp with us, because they have contracts. But if we bring in other guys that beat them out, then they're looking for jobs some place else.

BK: Kobe's OK, though? Relatively secure?

RL: I think Kobe's OK.

AK: If he has a good camp, shows up with the right attitude...

BK: The mother of all rumors that always gets thrown around is Kevin Garnett coming here. Or guys like Darius Miles and Carlos Boozer. You hear all these names and it's mostly the media, stirring the pot. How much can, or should, people pay attention to things they hear? How much do you guys pay attention to those sorts of rumors?

RL: Well, some things are silly (laughs). Some things you know can never happen. But speaking of Kevin Garnett, Minnesota really holds all the cards. If they decide that they want to trade him, and it all starts with them, I'm sure 20 of the 30 teams in the league will put a proposal on the table. And we would be one of those teams. You'd be stupid not to, I think. Kevin Garnett is still a big-time player in our league and will be for the next two or three years, I think. And if he's available, we're gonna put something out there. Whether it's good enough or not to get him, I don't know. But when a player like that is available, you've got to do almost anything you can to acquire a player like that. But it all starts with them. He's not on the trading block. They've not called us or anyone else and said, "Kevin Garnett is available." So it all starts with them.

BK: So do you pay attention to the reports? Is that sort of how things work, where information get passed around like that, or is it less clandestine?

RL: Yeah, you hear things like that sometimes and you place a call. But like I said, Minnesota, that team, it would come from their own. It's such a big deal. He's such a high level player that I think the owner would have to decide to move him. Like in our case, with Shaquille. It didn't come from us (in the GMs office). We're not gonna move Shaquille. It comes from someone a lot higher than us, to trade a guy like that. So I think the owner of the team is going to get involved before Garnett's out there on the block.

BK: So you don't sit around waiting for Kevin McHale to call?

RL: No.

BK: The free agent class is, like the draft class, considered pretty thin. The team needs backcourt help and has some holes in other places. Is it hard to resist the temptation to overpay or reach in an offseason where there isn't that much available? How do you balance the need to improve the team now against the need to keep your cap and luxury tax situation under control?

RL: I don't think it's real tough. If there's no players out there that you think can help you that deserve it — if you've got mid-level money and you don't think a player deserves mid-level money — we're probably not going to give it to him. I think Earl Watson was an example last year. We liked Earl Watson. He wanted the mid-level for five years, I think it was, and we weren't willing to do that because of a number of things. We had a window where we wanted to have as much money under the cap in two years, so we want to go out more than two years. But I think in a lot of cases you do have to overpay free agents to get them, especially in some places that are not so desirable to play. I don't think Los Angeles is one of those places. I think if you polled players around the league, this is one of the places they'd like to play and live is in Los Angeles.

AK: Guys might cut their salary requests to come here, as a trade-off.

RL: I don't know about that. (laughs) I don't know about that.

BK: We're still talking about NBA players.

AK: Can you talk about free agents you're interested in?

RL: We won't do that, but we're looking more, as we talked about, in the backcourt than in the frontcourt. If you look at the free agents that are available, I think it's pretty easy to figure out who you'd be interested in. Some of those guys you can't acquire. Some of those free agents are going to sign back with their teams, some of those free agents want more money than you have to give. So that eliminates some guys.

AK: What were your impressions of last season? Did the team meet your expectations? Lower? What are you looking for in terms of next year?

RL: You look at the season and I think you judge it on wins and losses, number one. Winning 45 games I think is OK. I'd say it's a little bit below what, if I had to go into the season and pick the number of games we'd win I'd probably have picked two or three more wins, but that's probably nitpicking a little bit. Making the playoffs and going to the seventh game in the first round was a step in the right direction. I think we have to improve upon that this year, and that's what we're looking to do. To become a better team and to improve upon our team because if you look at the Western Conference, there were some teams that didn't play real well this year that are going to be better next year. The Houstons, the Seattles. Seattle won their division (two years ago), and then they kind of stumbled this past season, but those teams are going to improve too. So you have to continue to improve if you're going to be a playoff team, especially out west. It's tough out here. It really is. We were a seven seed last year, can we be a seven seed next year? Hopefully. You want to improve upon that. But we may be a better team and still only be a seven seed because the other teams are improving around us.

BK: You could have a better record, win 48, 49 games, and still be a seven seed.

RL: Yeah. So you want to improve, it's tough to improve, but we think we have a chance to, with our young players getting better. Possibly signing a free agent to help us in the backcourt. You want to win more games, you want to advance farther than you did in the playoffs this past season. So those are the things you measure it against I think.

AK: But was it nice to at least prove wrong those who said you accomplish what you did this season?

RL: That doesn't really matter. You listen to that stuff, but it goes in one ear and out the other. I think we know our team better than a lot of the so-called experts out there. So we're just trying to improve upon where we finished this year.

 
Comments () | Archives (459)

The comments to this entry are closed.

"And Von Wafer, just because he played last year, he's not assured of being back next year."---what a bummer, huh AK? lol

I think this is often overlooked: "I think we know our team better than a lot of the so-called experts out there" Something to think about before we go on the "trade the whole team" rampage. Course this was a week ago, I guarantee that we're definitely looking more closely now to KG to LA (more than before). Still, I like our team, and would support them whatever they do ;-)

Thanks for the interview guys!

Faith,

Oh, I'd be bummed, but really, the crushing blow would be to BK's spirits. He's the prez of the Von Wafer Fan Club. I'm merely the VP. haha

AK

nice

Eric,

Thanks, bro. Glad you enjoyed it.

AK

Nice interview.

But why do people bag on Von Wafer? I think he's actually better than people give him credit for. He basically outplayed Smush in last year's summer league. I think he still has a shot to be a decent player.

"Brian Kamenetzky- You talked about how scouting isn't an exact science. Who is a guy that you thought would be great that didn't pan out....."
"Ronnie Lester- That's a tough question. You can go back. I can't name anybody off the top of my head...."

man, that IS a tough question. the only guys i could think of were sasha, brian cook, kareem rush, devean george, tyron lue, mark madsen ....basically, almost every first rounder the lakers have picked in the last 8 yrs.

Ak
Great job bro. I really feel like an insider with the info you provided. One question is how was his bidy language when you asked the tough questions? did he flinch or stutter when you asked about fa's or kg?

K- Even with established players, outside of Isiah Rider about five years ago, I can't think of the last guy who came in who had a long history of issues.

BK- Kwame would probably be the closest thing.

RL- Like I said, even if you're trading for players, signing free agents, or drafting kids, you want to bring in not only good players that you think can help your team, but you want to bring in good people who are going to represent the organization the right way, too. Sure.


I like the way RL just ignored the Kwame reference. It was really stupid.

mike

Ronnie Lester sucks as does the rest of our scouting crew or whatever they call themselves. We need personnel like the Spurs have so we can constantly replenish talent. We're the damn LAKERS!!!!!! COME ON ALREADY!!!!!

Just out of curiosity, Mike, why was it stupid? Did Kwame not arrive with some baggage?

BK

So if he did outplay Smush why isn't he given playing time. I mean the best thing i've ever seen Von do is this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7_4J44cdwo&search=Von%20Wafer

Because I delcare it stupid.

mike

AK can u tell us how will they get the players for the D league.
who will play and when will they play.

I'm pretty sure you understand when someone ignores a comment it indicates that it's pretty stupid statement that doesn't merit anknowledgement. You know, like RL didn't feed your apetite.

mike

For the Lakers to win,...
management needs to Trade Kobe Bryant.

The defense Dallas ran at Miami was the same type of defense Larry Brown used against the Lakers during the last Championship game against the Pistons. Only difference Kobe had many untimely turnovers and settled for jumpshots, where as DWade passed the ball and ATTACKED the defense making easy baskets for Shaq and others inside.

Only basketball aficinados who impartially watch games could detect the difference between TEAM basketball and self-gradification in winning and losing NBA Championships. DWade played teamball to win, Kobe on the other hand......

OUT!!!
the Truth

Actually, speaking of Kwame, is he going to be taking part in the summer basketball activities that Kupchak and the Lakers were hoping he would do?

Purple and Gold,

It's too early to know that D-League info right now. But when the time comes, for sure.

The Prune,

Yeah, that clip was indeed a great Von Wafer moment. But it wasn't the best. The "King of all Things Wafer" came in a blow out loss to the Pacers on the road. There was about 10 seconds left of garbage time. Eddie Gill was going for a meaningless layup and Wafer came out of nowhere to foul him and block the shot, yelling "Get that #@^& out of here!" loud enough that it was audible on the KCAL broadcast. After Gill made his FT's, the ball was inbounded to Wafer, who immediately sprinted up the court, parked himself behind the arc, and chucked an absolutely inconsequential trey... which he missed. But there was no way he was gonna dribble out those ten seconds and miss his chance at a shot.

That is comedy. Easily one of the top 10 moments of the season for me, possibly even top 5.

AK

Funny, I read about a month before the season ended that Marcus Douthit was going to play in the summer league.

mike

Mike T,

I'm sorry but your biting remark about the Kwame comment being stupid was uncalled for. It was a completely legitimate question considering Kwame's past. And let's not consider his current predicament with the sexual assault allegations that happened to occur in the middle of the playoffs. I'm all for supporting a guy but you can't be blind to a man's past. Maybe you don't know about his past, and therefore I excuse you on sheer ignorance, but what Kwame brought with him to LA has been publicized and I'm guessing you know about it.

It was a valid point and comment by the interviewer and I think Lester handled it fine. It needed to be asked.

Michael T,

He didn't ignore the comment, he just didn't go into talking about Kwame. Since Kwame was the biggest acquisition last season and had character issues I thought it was good to bring it up, or at least mention it.

It also looks like your boy Douthit won't be getting many minutes on our squad next year. Maybe if he needs some money he can try fraud again. Or did you not know that he had a checkered past? Maybe we shouldn't mention that, it would be stupid.

Mike-

I think it's equally (if not more) likely that he simply didn't want to comment on a player under contract. But you can read it however you want. As for Douthit, it's possible he'll play and Lester didn't mention him.

BK

We just watched the Heat win the title and we're concerned whether Marcus Douthwit is playing in the Summer League and that he might get some minutes with us next year. Kobe has seen the last of his rings with Lakers if that's the case.

Another great interview, guys. Well done.

_________

Okay, okay... I think we all need to see more of Von Wafer. I want to see a game where Von Wafer plays 40 minutes.

It needs to happen. For everyone.

So... it seems to me that from what Ron Lester said, we're getting Marcus Banks in the backcourt and that's about it.

I find it interesting that he referred to Devin Green as "who we like", but didn't make similar comments about Rony Turiaf and Von Wafer.

What gives?

Especially Rony Turiaf! Rony is the man! I want to see players with mega-heart like Rony and Von Wafer on the court.

I want to see the Lakers play with fire!

I've got nothing against Devin Green, but it does worry me that Von Wafer and Rony Turiaf do not have guaranteed contracts.

Not cool.

Anyhow...

Here's Jon's Laker Lineup for Next Year;

Banks
Kobe
Lamar
Kwame
Mihm

Backups:

Smush
Sasha/Profit
Kareem Rush
Turiaf/Cook
Bynum

GO LAKERS!

Or perhaps Lester was concerned that G.M.'s from other teams might be reading the blog and he didn't want to reveal that the Lakers have their eye on one of the more high profile FA's out there. I think the pecking order pretty much goes...

Big Ben
Jason Terry
Douthit.

haha

AK

Prune

Anyone that saw the summer league games will tell you Von Wafer outplayed Smush. andi dont know why Von Wafer got not PT. But there are tons of possible (and legit) reasons.
1. Just cuz he outplays Smush doesnt mean much. Smush is likely the more stable and balanced PG. Smush was also primarily a scorer in summer league and I'm just saying Von Wafer did better than him. Although I have to add Von Wafer had some sweet passes, so the (passing) ability is there, but the mentality may not be. He also is a better perimeter defender than Smush IMO. Smush is longer and gets more stls but Wafer has much quicker feet and was able to stay in front of anyone in summerleague. But ultimately, Wafer has a scorers mentality, and plays more like a 2, and we have a decent 2 in Kobe.
2. Summer League success doesnt necessarily translate into NBA success. ie, Skita has basically dominated the last 2 summer leagues. and he STILL gets no PT in the NBA.
3. I really believe that Phil didnt want Bynum really. On that same token, Von Wafer is a very un-phil like player and I dont see how Phil would like that pick either. for one, hes short (tho very athletic), and has a gunner's mentality. and he's got talent but his game is very unpolished. Add to that that Phil doesnt generally like to play rookies anyways, and its just not looking good for Wafer. (For some reason some ppl think Smush is a rookie, but hes not).

Plus theres always the chance that Phil and Wafer just do not get along. Wafer has a history of being a bit crazy (as highlighted by AK's story). I could see Phil just not liking the guy. I still think him and Bynum couldve seen a few more garbage mins during the season just to help them develop. also, i know Wafer wasnt on the playoff roster....but i think he might have been able to contribute. Given smush's total inability to stay in front of nash...wafer has much quicker feet. also, smush couldnt hit a shot. wafer mightve hit some, and i dont think hed start chuckin up 3s in a playoff game. and lastly, given smush's total mental breakdown and sad face...wafer is really fiesty. so i might be wrong on everything, but i know he wouldnt have sat on the bench looking like he was gonna cry.

Jon K,

Maybe Ronny Lester just didn't like his dance moves.

I'd really like to see the Lakers try and obtain more first round picks this year. It's known as a draft bereft of Superstars like a Lebron but it's being touted as rather deep. I just think the Lakers need an infusion of talent, not so much at the top (Kobe seems ah-ight) but all the way down the bench.

Looking at Jon K's line-up right there scares the bejeezes out of me. Lester made a good point that 48-49 wins will probably get a 7th seed next year, so we need something good to happen this offseason to make the leap.

about wafer. i only have one memory of him. when he made that dunk coming from the behind the three-point line after a missed free0throw.

As I have come to understand (with all the laker reading lol) Von Wafer has an "attitude" but not like Smush's (we all hate so much lol) it was worst...that's the #1 reason why he didn't play, or wasn't even benched but was sent down to "assignments." So it's not cause he sucks, he's just not PJ material (or what not).

If I were to guess, I'd guess that Von Wafer will be better than most of the guys we benched during the season in the Summer league, why? Cause he's had more playing time during the season, just outside of the nba. Like Ronnie said, guys really need playing time. And let's face it, I can count the number of times that Bynum played all season long (we all know the highlights of Snaq O'Meal vs. A. Bomb, and that game against the Knicks when he scored like 13 points in like 8 minutes). However they are doing the triangle, so the drafted guys should be more knowledgeable. Is Smush playing in the summer league (I'm operating under the assumption that that list is incomplete)? Cause I think he needs it lol.

lol Mike, "Because I delcare it stupid" ;-)

Jon K,

I wouldn't take what Lester said as an automatic slight on Von or Turiaf. When he said, "who we like," regarding Green, I think he meant that in terms of Devin being a restricted FA, because the Lakers would be matching theoretical offers.

As for the non-guaranteed contracts, that's just standard for a second round draft pick's second year. And there's no need to guarantee the contract right now, because they're under contract either way. Might as well give them an incentive to work.

While I can't say Wafer's a lock to come back (I'm guessing 50/50), I'd frankly be stunned if Turiaf isn't on the roster next season. Unless they bring in a big out of nowhere, they seem to like him and his limited minutes were reasonably good.

AK

AK and/or BK,

You're the GM of the Lakers, taking everything into account, what do you do with this team? Ride this group of guys next year? Small tweaks? Big overhauls?

Do either of you have an opinion one way or another about this squad and what they need/should do to become contenders? Thanks.

Andrew Z,

As soon as I have time for a detailed answer, I'll get into that one. As one would imagine, that's hardly a three sentence answer. haha

AK

AK/BK,

How did Ronnie Lester come across in the interview? Some things are lost in pure text, you know? I get the impression that he was somewhat guarded in many of his responses. Am I correct? I can understand if that was the case. One doesn't want to show all their cards at this time, I suppose.

GO LAKERS!

Faith,

"A. Bomb!"

I love it!

GO LAKERS!

AK,

Thanks, I'm curious to hear what you think.

AK/BK,

So... seriously... what is going on with Von Wafer?

What's the problem?

My memory highlight of Von Wafer is him being near the halfcourt line during a Laker freethrow. As the second miss, Von Wafer flew through the air like Nightcrawler (or Wolverine, or the Beast, or Moon Night... you get the picture) out of nowhere and slammed the ball! It was amazing!

Honestly, I've never seen a player do that before. From like ten feet behind the freethrow shooter! Amazing!

So... what gives? Why isn't Von Wafer a shoo-in?

GO LAKERS!

AK, do you see any major moves being made in the Summer shouldn't the Organization be motivated for the fact that Shaq owned them?

Lester mentioned that fact that they want to move up 5 or 6 positions in a very weak draft. Why 5 or 6 positions? What player are they targeting?

I know they want Roy and are trying to figure out a way to get him that does not include giving up Odom. Odom is a great faclitator and a match-up nightmare and has many attributes PJ likes. Still they desperately need a second scorer who can be a lock down defender... Marcus Banks is not it at t least not the first choice, but he is still a great pick-up.

So who are they targeting? They seem set on strengthening the frontcourt position next to Kobe.

I think they want Roy. PJ has a lot of influence this year and Roy is his pick. That's the target. Lester said 5 or 6 positions to cover the activity, but I thing Roy is the one they want, but if they don’t get Roy then what does 5 or 6 positions in the draft buy?

wiZo,

I get your points about Phil Jackson and Andrew Bynum and Von Wafer. However! I honestly think Phil Jackson is adapting as a coach. It is nice to see a coach in his older years still remaining creative and open to new approaches.

Sure, Phil's got an ego, but everything I've read is that this year he has adapted his coaching style to better communicate with his young players.

I think Phil can work with Andrew and Von.

If he's truly Zen, he will adapt.

Zen is not rigid. It simply respects reality and responds accordingly.

GO LAKERS!

David Richardson,

I think he was talking in broad terms about moving five or six spots. I really don't see much of a need for the Lakers to move only five or six spots, it would take quite a bigger jump to get to the point where they could get Roy or someone of substance who could help right away.

I would like to see the Lakers swing a deal with NO/OK for the #12 and #15 picks. Maybe Mihm and the #26 for those two. They need a big and are plenty young. Hell, maybe we can even get them to trade JR Smith in the deal. I can think of a couple of players that would be great to have that we could draft at those spots.

David R,

5 or 6 spots might buy a guy like Guillermo Diaz. He's not a pure point guard but the triangle doesn't require one. He's an explosive but streaky scorer. And he's not a bad defender. I don't think he'd solve ALL of the Lakers problems but he'll solve some of em.

But, like Jon K. says "double's and triples". This may qualify more as a single with a man on first but there's nothing wrong with playing small ball.

Everyone...do you really want to trade LO for the #2 and #16 pick...a known for the unknown? if this happens, we would have basically traded shaq for draft picks in what is considered a weak draft? do you want to start over...again?

Xodus,

I like Guillermo Diaz as a pick. He's super athletic and a scorer. Obviously the game is geared toward that style of player right now and lord knows we need someone other than Kobe who can get their own shot. Shawne Williams from Memphis is another player that looks intriguing to me. I think one of these guys will be available at #26 but I would like to see the Lakers find a way to get multiple first rounders.

MAGIC=GOAT,

I don't know if I'm more interested in the two picks as I am in the $12 million trade exception that comes with them. That trade would just provide us with a ton of options. I know LO is a super talent but his knack for completely disappearing or disappointing in big games (see Game 7 against Phoenix for an example) just doesn't sit right with me, especially as the guy we need to take us to the next level.

David Richardson-

As people have mentioned, I wouldn't take RL's "5 or 6" literally. Like you say, if they want Brandon Roy, they'll have to go a lot higher than that, probably with Odom as bait.

Andrew Z-

I think this is a really tricky offseason for the Lakers. Last season, in my opinion, doesn't indicate that the Lakers are ready to be contenders next year, and with what they have available to improve the team, I don't think they can get good enough this summer. The FAs out there aren't great, and their trade bait consists basically of Mihm (who I think should be moved and has some value) and L.O. But if they move Odom, it won't be for a superior player, it'll be for picks, maybe a role guy, and additional flexibility next offseason.

Where they can get into trouble is by overpaying for mediocre guys (not that they have a lot of money to spend), or taking on salary in a trade that hurts them down the road. The spot they're in now- the pretty good but not great- is an easy place to get stuck, and especially if a team makes bad salary decisions.

I think the Lakers have a ton of options, really. Most won't make fans that happy because in my mind, none result in a championship caliber roster, short of pie in the sky, KG-in-LA scenarios that I won't consider until I really think it's a possibility. Moving Mihm for a young backcourt player is a good start. If they can get a pick out of it, even better. Finding a guy who will (cheaply) bridge the gap in the backcourt- say Marcus Banks for example- is another. Would I move L.O.? For the for the right package, sure. By moving him (I think) they can move enough salary to have even more room after next season (if I'm making a math error here, let me know- I'm no capologist). I don't think they'll get any of the superstars on the market- for example, I think LeBron will stay put- but they could find the sort of complimentary players they need to build around Kobe. Add that to the picks and/or young players they'd get for L.O., and that's not a bad scenario.

Granted, they'd most likely suck next season, but in the long run that might be okay. Would you rather have a team that can win 50 games but has no realistic shot of a title, or one that could miss the playoffs but lays the groundwork for a really good squad in a couple of years? The problem with that scenario (to play devil's advocate with myself) is Kobe. If he's the only option next year, it'll take two years off his basketball life, because he'll be killing himself for the team to win. I don't think he's nearing the end of his rope, but there's no reason to accelerate the end of his career, either.

My concern would be the Lakers botching their next offseason in a misguided attempt to try and turn this core into a championship bunch. I don't think they will, because it seems they're committed to keeping as much flexibility as possible for next summer, and because I don't think they think this group, even with what limited parts they could add, will be good enough.

Winning championships is hard. It's hard to go from being championship caliber to championship caliber with a different group of players without hitting bottom. The Lakers have tried to avoid that.

I'll keep thinking about it, but it's a good question. At the very least, this gives you an idea of where I'm coming from. In the end, I would be VERY CAREFUL this offseason. The guys on the block aren't very appealing, the FAs aren't that appealing, and the draft class isn't the bee's knees, either. Not a great threesome.

BK

Your so negative BK.

Not negative, just honest.

Even, though we're going through a tough time as a Organization especially with Shaq winning a title it doesn't mean your being honest truthfully no one knows what the heck this Organization is doing. we have to sit back and wait.

The organization isn't going to do anything EXCEPT make money by raising ticket prices for a mediocre product. As long as Kobe Bryant is the marquee player the bottom line is just getting 'butts in the seats' to see his on-court theatrics, it is all 'smoke and mirrors'.

Right now it is not about winning for the organization, if it were about winning restructuring would start at the top with the GM and the owner letting the GM do their job, leaving personal reflections out of the equation.

OUT!!!
the Truth

If they traded Kwame to say the Heat, are you still a Laker fan or now become a Heat fan?

bk can we get the a.i's iverson has three years left at 17 mil/yr.c igoudala will be a free agent next year and he and kob are friends is this deal possible especially after what happened last nite?

BK, nice interview. But we don't like YOU as the GM of the Lakers, don't quit on your job with the Laker Blogs. You said that the FA are not appealing, the drafts are not appealing and yet you want to move Odom and exchanged them with draft kids who will be seating on the bench. I could sense from your questions that you're not impressed with Kwame, so why not packaged Kwame 8.0M with other Lakers Mckie 2.7; Smush 0.8; VonWafer 0.6; Vujacic 0.9; Cook 2.4 trade with any team on one-on-one basis on their high young draft picks who could play defense and many other players who are not in this draft. There are a hundreds of them (worldwide) waiting to be tapped and approached. In the case of Kwame's contract, you can get a combination of future draft picks and restricted free agent. Why do you guys keep on insisting trading our cornerstones Odom & Bynum (just because Eric Pincus say so)? Why do you want to move Mihm with another PG when Banks may be coming aboard on bi-annual exemption?

So far the Lakers payroll for next season would be $ 67M, they were able to cut it from Slava, Vlade and possibly George by as much as $ 10M. We used to have a total payroll of $ 72M ($15M come from bloody contract of Brian Grant). The Laker Management just increased 5% on all items across the board, the difference of $ 67M and $72M is 7%, why don't Laker management invest the increments in getting a decent player that could help Kobe, Lamar and others? Questions, questions, questions!!!

BK:

You are definitely not looking at our team with the same "purple and gold" glasses that I usually wear but you do make some sense.

I have been trying to understand how the salary cap works and whether the Lakers can sign a player like Bonzi or Terry for more than the MLE if they are willing to pay the luxury tax or whether the CBA just prohibits them from signing the player period. Can you answer that question?

If the answer is that we are totally prohibited from signing a free agent for more than the MLE, then I agree with you that we will be hard pressed to compete for a ring next year. Signing Marcus Banks for the MLE is not going to make us a title contender.

Unless we are willing to basically stand pat until Grant's contract goes off the books in 2007/8, I also start to see why trading Lamar, whom I love as a player but who will make $12.5M next year, for Chicago's #2 and #16 could make real sense.

Basically, we would be able to get two top 15 defensive-oriented ready-to-play rookies (Brandon Roy and Thabo Sefolosha, for example) with very low salaries, be able to clear cap space to sign a free agent like Bonzi or Terry, and get a very valuable $12.4M trade exception.

In other words, we would essentially be trading Lamar for two rookies and one free agent who could help us compete plus cap room flexibility. Is this all make sense to you? Thanks.

this is off topic to the drafts and all the summer talk, but about individual accomplishments that could eventually affect the team in the end...

excluding an MVP for KOBE BRYANT, which of these individual accomplishment in the upcoming 2006-07 season would you want to happen more then anything and which one do u think IF it happened could help the lakers more than the other options... a MOST IMPROVED PLAYER AWARD for KWAME..LAMAR ODOM becoming an ALL STAR for the first time....or KOBE winning DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR...

(how about von wafer scoring 50 in a game lol)

Fellow Laker Fans, slow down with the urgency to win next year. It's not gonna happen, the team will improve and in the 07/08 season you can expect a trip to the finals. Tis organization is methodical not impulsive.
Remember it takes Phil 2 years to regroup (Bulls 3 rings 2 years 3 rings) If I'm not mistaken Garnett will be a free agent then and the Lakers will not have to give up anybody to get him, think about it Kobe, Odom, an improved Kwame a stellar Bynum AND Garnett, JESUS!!

Great analysis BK. I'm inclined to agree that the best move at this point would probably be no move at all other than trying to get some inexpensive backcourt help that hopefully doesn't have to sit out nearly the entirely season ala Vlade Divac and Aaron Mckie.

The Lakers showed this year that they can contend with almost any team in the league. They beat San Antonio and Detroit in the same week but mysteriously choked against Atlanta after having nearly a twenty point lead in the first quarter.

The emergence of Luke Walton and Kwame Brown has solidified this team's chances at a spot in the top 5 in the Western conference. Our frontcourt has been standard as of late but where we really need help is at the 4. Cookie, though i love his shooting touch, is not cut out to bang bodies under the boards and would probably be a superstar in Phoenix.

What are the chances of landing Mike James from Toronto at this point and do you think the Lakers brain trust would want him on our team? He's a veteran guard that could give the Lakers valuable experience down the stretch.

Keep up the good work fellas!

LakerTom,

The Lakers are already over the salary mainly because of Brian Grant's mammoth contract. And yes the Lakers are totally strapped financially because of they're well over the cap.

Bonzi Wells and Jason Terry are not even options because all the Lakers can offer is the MLE. And the reason they can only offer the MLE is because a team can only go over the salary cap re-signing their own players.

Jon K,

There's nothing really "wrong" with Von, at least to my knowledge.

My "50/50" odds was really just a (semi) educated guess, based on the fact that he has enough going for him (athleticism, apparently shoots well in practice) and against him (second round picks are typically imminently replaceable, he shot under 20% in games, only rook to do NBDL stint) that there ain't much to hang your hat on one way or another.

But let's also be real, dude. He certainly didn't do enough this season to be a "shoo-in" (entertainment value to me and BK aside, of course). Kid's gotta walk before he runs.

AK

"The emergence of Luke Walton and Kwame Brown has solidified this team's chances at a spot in the top 5 in the Western conference"

1) Neither of them would start for any of the other top 8 teams in the west.

2) Kwame has not "emerged". He is still in hiding. Luke has not shown any consistency yet.

The Lakers with the current roster are about 6th at best in the west. Not in the top 5.

Guys,
I've always been impressed with Ronnie Lester's honesty. That was why I recommended you interview him. And what a fine job you did with it. In a summer where there is almost nothing to read about the Lakers, you provided a staggeringly good discussion.
Hope the Dodger blog is going okay in this rough season.

Roland Lazenby
author of The Show

The Lakers don't need to do anything cause KOBE is gonna go crazy next year. 40+ points, 8+ reb, and 7+ assists per game. He'll lead us to the title, and there'll be no more debate on who's the top baller in the NBA.

Edwin-

I feel for you guys regarding the price increases. As a fan, I'd be pissed, and would at the very least expect it to turn into a better product on the court. No doubt about that.

As for L.O., I'm in no hurry to run the guy out of town, but I understand the logic of moving him in the right deal, especially if you don't think in the long run he'll be part of the plan. I think moving Mihm for a guard is a good move regardless of whether they sign Banks, because they need far more depth. I have a very low opinion of Sasha as a contributing player in the NBA, and Smush is a backup. Banks is likely a solid but unspectacular starter. There's room for improvement. If I'm Mitch, I'm not working the phones hard trying to move L.O., but I'll answer if another guy calls. And like I said, if you don't think he's a long term answer, trading him for picks, + expiring contracts that might make the money work accelerates the process of rebuilding, and theoretically allows the team to mature at the same time.

The rest of the roster, outside Bynum, isn't really tradeable. I would only move Bynum for an established, high quality player. Not for picks. The theory is the same as the Brand/Chandler trade. You trade the kid (Chandler) for the player you hope he'll become (Brand) if things go well.

I'm thinking we disagree as to how good this bunch will be next year. I hope I'm wrong. But I don't see how they'll be all that better. A little better, depending on the moves, but they got remarkably lucky, even with the Mihm injury, that nothing happened to their top 2 over the course of the season. I think Kobe and L.O. played in something like 158 games give or take. And Kobe's missed games were for suspension. I don't see them getting that lucky next year.

BK

I'm going to cry, then rip my hair out. This was the greatest basketball team EVER, the Lakers. Now we are talking about trying, maybe breaking into the top 5, pinning our hopes on some wanna be named Kwame, who is going to have a hard enough time winning his trial. This was my greatest fear with the Shaq trade. We are mid-pack and the Heat are the Champions. Kobe has maybe five good years left, who is going to trade with the Lakers? If you owned one of the other 29 teams, would you make a trade to make the Lakers better? We are in the midst of the Lakers dark ages. Oh, how the mighty have fallen....Buss can shove his tickets up you know where.

Edwin Gueco
Great points. There is one flaw in your trading. Sure all those guys for draft picks and other players wouldnt be bad but the guy that makes the deal is Kwame. He's the main guy but who wants to pay him $9mil a year? I really liked Butler whose the guy we traded along with Atkins. Butler averaged 17 and 6 while Kwame averaged 7 and 6 which is what we get along with "potential". Thats why Kwame is not on the market like Mihm. If it was Kwame that was gettign payed $4mil a year i think the Lakers would be trying to trade kwame more since he has "potential". let somebody else deal with him. Thats why we only have Mihm as our main tradeable guy. Odom is too valueable and ppl only throw him out there to make "their predictions". Which is BS.

LakerTom
If (by any chance) you do trade Odom for the #2 & #16 and then can get a FA like a Lebron in 08 then we could have a decent team. The problem with that logic is that we waste 3yrs (time to get and learn triangle) of Kobe's prime. Or we could go for Terry know and keep Roy and Sef. That still is gonna take 2yrs before these guys really get to know the triangle. Remember Phil doesnt play rookies. Even if he is changing his philosophies that doesnt mean they will really develop into these great players that some of you make them out to be. I would rather keep Odom and add 2 good guards. I think all the spots are decent and we would have some depth. This is my roster for the next 2yrs.

06-07 roster
STARTERS
1. FA (Get Terry or Banks)
2. Kobe
3. Odom
4. Kwame
5. Mihm
BENCH
1. Smush/Sasha
2. Rookie/FA
3. Walton
4. Turiaf
5. Bynum

07-08
STARTERS
1. FA from last year (Get Terry or Banks)
2. Kobe
3. Odom
4. Mihm
5. Bynum
BENCH
1. Smush/Sasha
2. 2nd yearRookie/Last year FA
3. Walton
4. Turiaf
5. Brown

SteveDR83
"Kobe has maybe five good years left"
Thats why we need to make moves now. Those 5yrs are 5 PRIME years. He's a guy that works out and wont let himself get out of shape or let a young guy outwork him. I think Kobe will be in the Nba til he's about 38 which would be 12more years. Like I said before - The pressure is on the Lakers front office now. Lets hope they dont dissapoint.

Everybody needs to calm down, the sky is NOT falling. We'll be fine you'll see. Our players aren't "great" but greatness comes from within, I think Kobe has enough within him to at least spread it around a couple of people. I strongly believe that LO got some of it last season (and it showed in the latter part both in effort and in the approach to the game). I often wonder why people always want to trade for him, yet the person that has him always are looking for those trades---until I saw the somewhat inconsistency, and I'm telling you if he becomes the star I know he can, why not do it here, with the best coach in basketball and the best player in Kobe. I said once before that say what you want about PJ as a coach, he gets the "star" out of his star players, and we all know LO has always been a star in the making (all-star). As for Kwame, I don't quite understand the knock on Talent, this guy's body is a talent in itself, and though he fumbles passes (which I think is more mental) he has shown to be a better one-on-one defender than what we had (not a knock on Chris, just all our big defenders, like Cook). I say to give him time, let's not forget that his window is fast closing, and if he himself doesn't deliver, he'll be gone from the league guaranteed. This team can go far, I understand that others don't have the same opinion, but most those others never projected us to make the playoffs or be one rebound away from the second round, regardless of who Phoenix had or not but this team seems determined to prove others wrong. Have faith in the Lakers ;-) They have the history to back things up.

P.S. Please don't attack BK, he was asked a question, and he answered, albeit pessimistically...which frankly I expected haha. I'm sure we're all still under the "MVP Pick that brought the kevlar vest out" rage...but we musn't use that for e-vil (haha).

Shady:

The main issue which now seems clear is that there is no way the Lakers can sign a top-level free agent until after next season for more than the MLE, which will $5M, unless we create cap room by trading Lamar or Kwame.

Jason Terry and Bonzi Wells, for example, both make $8M now and are not going to sign for less and the Bulls will trade the #2 and #16 draft picks, even in this weak draft, for Kwame or Mihm. I do not think adding Banks is not going to get us to the next level. He will want the full MLE, he is only 6'2", and averages about the same ppg as Smush.

If we were to trade Lamar for the #2 and #16 picks, we would be able to draft two defensive oriented players and have the cap room to sign a top level free agent as well as having the $12.4M trade exception. We would still have Kobe and our three centers, two good rookies (Brandon Roy and Thabo Sefolosha), a top level free agent (Bonzi or Terry), and a big trade exception to use to get a top-level free agent in 2007/8.

I have to admit that I am in the full throes of post-Shaq championship and may not be thinking very logically or clearly. What really has distressed me is the fact that everyone's interpretation of our salary cap situation is that even if Jerry Buss wants to, we cannot sign anyone really good.

The new CBA really gives the advantage to teams that develop players in the draft as they can pay them whatever they want to keep them. That is why I am thinking that two ready-to-play rookies such as Roy and Thabo may be the way to go since we aren't going to win next year with minor tweaks.

Faith:

Panic in Lakerdom. No doubt about it. Maybe I will come to my senses tomorrow, but I am really bummed out by the salary cap revelations.

I was so sure that Buss could open his wallet and we could get some better players. Now it looks like it is minor tweaks, which bring out the natural gambler in me.

Thus, the willingness to consider trading Lamar, my second favorite player on the Lakers, for a couple of unproven but potentially great rookies and the cap space to sign Bonzi or Terry plus the trade exception.

BK,

First and foremost, thank you responding to our incessant queries. Secondly, thank you for the existence of the Laker Blogs, without you guys, we won't even know the total payroll, we won't even know the "white elephant" players that hurt the Lakers and we don't even care of the 5% increase or what they decide in the next season? But somehow you have enlightened us, you planted the seed or germ in our thoughts now we keep on asking you questions and more questions.

Many bloggers think that Odom will be part of the Lakers in the long run just like Worthy, Cooper, Scott as role players or Fox, Fisher, Horry as another set of role players. What we prefer is trading with liked poles (in battery) it is (+) with (+) Odom with Marion or another scenario Odom with Jefferson (Examples only) that's what I mean with positive with positive. But to trade Odom with 2 UNKNOWNS may be (+) or maybe(-'s) in three years time, then we create not one but two White Elephants for the next three years. We really did not save Odom's salary, (just like saying we really did not save Shaq's payroll it's still embedded in Odom-Mihm-Kwame & bloody Grant.) Odom's salary will be in those two draft picks. Do you follow my logic?

Why do we prefer Odom? He's a superstar in the making, can run the backcourt, can rebound at 6'10", ambidextrous in his layups, can shoot the threes, know how to use the boards, has familiarized with the triangle later on, he will be a total headache to other teams cuz' he creates impossible match-ups and shots like Kobe. Kobe is already adjusting with Odom's, why do we destroy that possible SYNERGY that may exist between these two great players. BK, did you watch the Olympics? Who carried the USA team? it was Odom and Duncan, still they lost to Lithuania, italy and Aregentina because they did not get any support from the so called superstars like: Wade, Carmelo, AI, Marbury, Marion, Lebron, Amare, Okafor,Boozer etc. (That is my basis why I cannot compare these generation of players today with the Dream Team that played in Barcelona in '92.) That was the shinning moment of Odom, that's the reason why he is being invited again to the next FIBA games? Who #2 or #16 in the draft? According to LakerTom, Brandon Roy & Selofosha. If Brandon Roy cannot makes his team a PAC 10 winner or land in the NCAA Finals, how can you compare him to Lamar Odom? Can he beat the Clippers? Maybe good, maybe so-so, maybe out of NBA in two years.

Let's go back to the problem players which were already enumerated who non-intentionally tanked the Lakers during the Phoenix games, what are we going to do with them? why do we hang on them for so long? If there are good alternatives available, one season with these bad (Susyo!) players is enough, that's my 2 cents prescription for progress and moving forward. I am not Steven, I could be WRONG too.

BK isn't wrong. 06 was damn lucky. Lucky for the lack of serious injuries to us and certainly for the depleted team we faced in the first round. I posted yesterday we'd have to move up to stay even. From the limited options, it may get worse again before it gets better.

I feel SteveDR83's pain. It's clearer now. The blog game is "told you so" and Shaq told all us "LA phonies" so last night. Our front office is telling us so we'll have to wait 2 years to hopefully get back. Faith is right, we'll be fine, we just might not be great and that's what we're missing. We've seen the view from the mountain top.

The Lakers are a unifying force of nature in this city, as powerful as the Pacific. The blog goes on about a pro team in the off season because of that force which was built on winning. That needs to be built again.

This rebuilding process might be easier if the organization called it that.
I think we can dispense with the ban on the "R" word now. Our big move is 18 and still growing.

Patience. It takes more than 2 years to rebuild and win a championship, unless something crazy happens, like in Miami.

V

This always seems to cheer me up and get me excited for next season, if you listen right everything the song says fits each player, good video...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vBD32bk4cQ&eurl=

Go Lakers

I do not think we should trade Lamar. I would just sit on the team we have now, add Banks, trade Mihm for another guard (that is, if Kwame seems like he will stay out of jail...can anyone elaborate as to the status of his situation), and let our team stick together. We may only have Phil for 2 more years and our team was much better during the second half of last season. They needed to play and grow together both as a team and to learn the triangle. I predict that a deeper backcourt will provide good results next season and we don't even know if a superstar will be available the year after. Banks is a good passer and I was impressed with Luke. If we can spread the floor a little bit more, get a little bit older and a little more comfortable playing with each other instead of adding too many new pieces every year then we can make what we have work.

Ak/Bk...

I was reading one of you guys postings and it referred beck to the Brand/Chandler trade. Well as we all know we have the kid now and chandler is the vet well would u trade The Kid (Bynum) and Chris Mihm for the vet (CHandler) and the bulls 16th pick. THe reason I say this is because Chandler is a great defensive player but is still very raw offesivly, and when you look at him he has the same exact body as Kareem Abdul Jabar.. (Bynums current coach) so why dont we turn T. Chandler into the next Kareem teach him the hook and maybe give him some karate lessons and introduce him to Jet Lee (Joke).. Well it would be a roll of the dice but if we could maybe get Loul Deng by giving up our 26th and still keep Odom i would seriously consider the trade... What would U do Ak or Bk???????????????????????

Lance.P

LakerTom
Like you i also like Odom. It pretty much comes down to whose gonna take over his position as the 2nd scorer or the go to guy when Kobe is not on the floor. I think Terry could do it since he has proved he can score. I wouldnt count on Bonzi to be stepping up though. Bonzi would be a good 3rd-4th option. That means that we lose our 2nd leading scorer for 2 defense oriented guys and either Terry(take over 2nd leading scorer) or Bonzi (3rd-4th option). Now if by some miracle we can trade either Mihm (i want to keep) or Kwame ($9mil is ridiculous for his contributions) then its a go. I would rather give up Kwame cuz it would open up our cap space. Mihm is good at $4mil. Then again who would you rather have on your team Odom or Kwame. its about a $5mil difference but the stats are completely different. I pray that the Chicago pull a Knicks trade (had to do it :P) and take Kwame off our hands. I would even throw in either Smush, Sasha, Cook, McKie, or Jackson too sweeten the deal for them to bite. If this does happen imagine this lineup.
STARTERS
1. Terry
2. Kobe
3. Odom
4. Walton
5. Mihm
Bench
1. Roy
2. Sef
3. Turiaf
4. Cook
5. Bynum
LakerTom how you feel about this lineup? The 4 is a bit of a coin flip. You could either put Turiaf or Cook there. Or you could put Bynum at C and move Mihm to Pf. The thing is Turiaf/Bynum are still too young and we dont know how much Phil trusts them. Cook and Walton are more like role players but we dont have many options. Still hope the feedback is good.

All this speculation is making my head spin. (But in a good way...)

Laker Tom. I think we are on the same page.
The deal with Odom (and I love the guy) but are we are still talking about him in terms of “if he plays the way we think he can”? He should be there already.
That being said, the only way we should trade him is if we have a replacement SF/PF. If we get the picks from Chicago and get Roy, I don’t think there really is a SF/PF who is NBA ready available with the next pick. If we could be sure of getting a Harrington and the Lakers brain trust think the upside is better down the line with the picks, then why not? If they think they can build a championship contending team for the future, it would be worth it. But they should only roll the dice if they think this core group we have now will not get to a championship level.

If end up with Roy we are really set at guard with him, Kobe, Smush, Sasha, and Profit (if they sign him), plus ??. If we get the picks we can look for another defensive shooting guard/small forward. If LO is gone and Mihm stays, and if we had Harrington, Kwame can be a backup center/PF. With Bynum in the wings, that is pretty good depth up front. It all hinges on getting a quality NBA ready PF if we trade LO. SF would probably become the weakest link.

But next year will be a rebuilding year. And PJ will HAVE to play the rookie(s). That has to be HIS plan or it won’t work.
The other side to the LO for picks scenario is the cap room.

Anyone know who the non superstar free agents coming out in 2007/08 are? Anyone that can put us over the top for season after next? I would be willing to wait one more season if we could really have something special for the next 3, 4, or 5 years after next. And I’m qualifying all this knowing nothing is a sure thing.

Any gamblers out there?

Phil doesn't really like rookies and the Lakers are about now, so far not the future. Sure Bynum was one step towards a future but besides that nothing else. The Lakers have the Best Player in the NBA in KOBE! And Odom will be an all-star in these next two years. That is if he keeps up the way he was playing at the end of the season. The best chance the Lakers have to win a Championship is now with Kobe. The supporting cast was not there this season. Kobe passed the ball and they missed! Smush broke down in the playoff's. There was pretty much no bench. Walton is on his way to be one solid bench player. So I say we don't go for Miles because thats just problems waiting to happen. Im for the Mihn trade just because Kwame can play the center. Getting Gerald Wallace would make the team so much better. And as for Banks he is a better defender than Parker and he's sure pick up. I belive the Lakers will be going past the 1 round next. So watch out west!

are you guys kidding me? trade LO? no offense to anyone but thats ridiculous. this is his first year in the tri and he played 2 spots (3/4), his first year with phil, and his first truly decent year with the lakers. next year after learning the tri from this years past, LO will emerge a stud. remember this guy balled up shawn marion in a playoff series in his first year in a system he was unfamiliar with. i wouldnt trade this guy this year for draft picks, thats what mihm or even better(unlikely) kwame is for. throw in anyone else except KB, and AB and get the picks. LO will be an all star next year. he will get back to those numbers he had in miami, all he needs is to be stable. three coaches in two years is not stability.


if you hold two aces in poker why would you hope to give one up?

also i would like to point out kwame should remain a CENTER, not a PF. the way he plays would fit a center position anyway. (good defender, decent post game, can definitely get better on off. i like how someone said his rock hands are mental--its true. can battle any other center out there except for yao but he can work on that. even KG bowed down to him)

Edwin Gueco
I agree with you about not taking the 2 unknowns but to Lakertoms defense its actually 2unknowns and 1 known (kinda..in a FA..Terry or Banks?). The thing that makes this trade interesting is that we can get a decent FA this offseason and still have enough capspace next offseason to get another big FA (if im not wrong) since we will have more contracts expiring and Grants contract gone. The reason I dont like it is cuz Odom (which i like) will be gone and more of Kobe's prime will be wasted yet again. The core would be a bit shakey but hopefully Bynum will have developed enough to be a starter and make some noise in the NBA. The pressure is on the front office. DONT DISSAPOINT!!

TrueLakerFan
Great video. Ive heard the song a lot (mostly in soccer vids) but it almost felt like that song was written for that specific vid. Gave me a couple of goosebumps lol. It showed some great highlights and the potential (god i hate this word) the Lakers have with a couple of good pieces. Call them upgrades.

I told everyone back in December 2005 the Lakers need to TRADE Kobe Bryant. I also told everyone that can read, the Heat and Shaq would win the NBA Title.

Now again, before he gets injured, the Lakers best option is to trade Kobe Bryant and quit acting like he is the 'next' whatever.

If we didn't offer a long term contract for the MLE to Earl Watson, due to our sticking with a plan to create cap space in two years, this is likely saying we're not going to sign Mike James, and we'll probably lose out on Banks.

We can offer them the MLE for two years, and we'll probably lose them.

Ronnie Lester or Mitch Kupchak, we need to TRADE for a point guard, such as Blake or Duhon, which brings in capable point guards whose low salaries won't signficantly affect our 2-year plan.

Instead, use the MLE to sign short-term deals for scoring off the bench, such as Darius Songaila.

And for goodness sakes, our GM should probably not call Mihm, in his contract year, as our "third center."

steven..you're sick

To Steven aka Tarugo

D-Wade is a ballhog! Shaq is FAT loser! Lakers is still the best basketball club in the NBA. The owner is a classy guy, he always know what he is doing on his business.

OUT!!!
Burat

As a die hard Lakers fan I am beginning to see some clarity into the future for the Lakers. We really had a great season as fans. Kobe had 81 in a game. How F-ing amazing and spectacular was that. This season will be remembered more for that in twenty years then the Heat winning the ring or anything else that happened. Oh yes and Kobe's best years are still ahead. He still has lots to learn to be truly great. His physical ability will slowly diminish and that is when he will truly become great. Now I’m not saying he's going to win six more rings but he will surely win two or three more. David Stern is a disgusting person in my opinion. He is extremely greedy and influences the officials for his financial benefit. I hope we can get a new commissioner in the league before long. As for the Lakers as a team we really made progress in the playoff's it seemed. Lamar played up to his potential which was good to see. Kwame is still a big question mark. Come on Kwame you got everything it takes. Do you like to play basketball? Andrew looked slow but he could become a solid player. I would like to see Mihm traded. Sasha still needs to prove a lot if he expects to stay in this league. B-Cook seems to be selfish and is very limited defensively. George needs to go somewhere else. Smush just needs to be Smush. Maybe he needs some Zoloft or something to get his spirits back. Ronny is happy to be alive and it shows on the court. I wish I could cherish life like him. Von would be great to have in a pick up game. O yeah and Luke the only white boy on the team (Sasha is European) He somehow needs to get a good jump shot and work on his quickness. O yeah and now big moves this off season probably. I wish I could go to a game.

I read somewhere the Nets are looking to trade Richard Jefferson. Would you trade LO for RJ?

LO has to stay. Mihm is the only commodity we have to trade and not really weaken the team. We don't want T. Chandler-gets hurt, soft. If Mihm brings us the draft choice/player that can get in the rotation..then do it. Bynum's got to grow up and get in the rotation next year(12-15 minutes/game). I do believe that Mihm has value to some team(Portland, Chi, Celtics, Warriors).

Steven,

How can you say "trade Kobe"? Who would you trade him for the entire Miami roster including the coach? OK, that would get you a championship. Other than that we need to look at time frames involved (Kobe Prime Years, Phil 2 years) and realistic reactions by the other teams in the league. The other teams remember what it was like being killed every time they came to Staples, so why would they do something to make us better. Right now we have been on the weak side of the trades we have done recently. I think the other teams sense Laker desperation and have been taking advantage of it. I was horrified to learn that Riles interviewed for the coaching job, found out Shaq was on the market through inside information and landed him, but that's why he now has five rings. So you want to trade our only ace, for who?

I cant understand the enthusiasm here for J.Terry. I was put off by the way he wanted to shoot himself into the Finals MVP in game 6.

Its pretty scary if we are going to have the same team next year since the West's only going to get tougher.
My only hope is that the management is not thinking of making these 'Kobe years' to be more about entertainment than about championships. But if that was the case and Kobe got a whiff of it, he would demand a trade(rem'ber that Mark Heisler article sometime back!). But I think the fact he's sticking to the Lakers might mean he believes in their plan.

Trade idea:
NJ: get Kenyon Martin
Lakers: get Richard Jefferson and Greg Buckner
Denver: get Lamar Odom and Brian Cook

BK,

Thanks for the great response. I'd have to say our opinions and ideas about this Laker team are pretty similar. I for one see the reality of the whole "we need to win now" theory being damn near impossible to pull off since we are so limited in our ability to land an impact player (unless of course Glen Taylor goes completely insane and calls Dr. Buss).

I also don't see much of a plan to "win later" as Pincus' article claimed. The recent news about Lebron can pretty much lock him up in Cleveland (although I never once thought he would come to LA), and I really feel that with the new CBA teams are better off getting young talent and developing them in the their systems. The league in itself has changed. the way organizations do business has changed and I think as fans we have to realize that.

I know we all don't want to "waste Kobe's prime years" but he decided to stay with the Lakers so he has to realize what management has to work with. I'm sure the $20 million a year he'll be getting eases that pain, but right now I feel it would benefit the long term success of this organization if they made a trade like the LO for #2/#16, even in a "weak draft". I like the Bynum piece for the future, I think Turiaf has the ability to be a starting 4 in the league and had plenty of college experience so being a starter might come sooner than later, and if you draft a couple guys who are more NBA ready than projects I could see the Lakers being able to contend in 2-4 years, something I don't see with the current squad and financial situation.

Would making that move require us taking one step back? Absolutely, and that would kind of suck as Laker fans, but we'd also position ourselves for a giant leap forward.

BK, thanks again for the great post.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION!!!

Dr. Buss can not "open his wallet" and spend for some good free agents. He in UNABLE BY LEAGUE RULES TO DO SO. I would think that if there was someone out there that he wanted and they were available he would not only open his wallet but would max out his credit cards to sign the guy. But alas, the dude has his hands tied and the most he can do is offer a guy the MLE ($5 mil a year).

So for all of you screaming for a big free agent, go to hoopshype.com, check out their salaries this year and do some research and see if there is a chance in hell they would sign for $5 million.

Other than that, start looking at people we can draft and minor trades we can make because that's all that's happening in the next two years.

I'm very happy here with our team and I'm very excited about our future," he said. "I'm confident we'll get something done. I've got confidence in the organization and what we've done together." Well, Lebron's not goin' anywhere. Thrilled for his best friend Wade, he likes where he is. He gets 75 mil for 5 years. Sounds like bargain basement for this league. That's 7 mil less than Shaq a year? That's some bad math.

OK, now what? Now we know how hard it is to get a good player that people want to watch. We had two, down to one, and some on this blog want to get rid of him. No Kobe, no blog.

We're stuck, folks. We've got the courtside seats the nation tunes in to see but the people that fill 'em don't want to suffer in silence. It's going to be really hard to pitch a 26th picked addition and a mid level guard.
The sun will rise as will the Lakers but settle in for the long range view.

Vman,

Couldn't agree more. Laker fans, get used to what you are seeing because it's what we've got for a loooonnngggg time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rTD_KWKr0E&search=lakers
this is supposed to be the last season just the last season no special plot or abything just to give u a bigger idea .wanna trade odom?have a doubt if lebron or wade are better than kobe ?havent seen bynum s dunk enough?wanna know wat is in mike s mind(about kwame)? watch and i dare u to say i wanna trade odom or bynum and kwame are not good and that kobe isnt the greatest.rember no plot i got some thaT MAKE U THINK ODOM is unbeleivable and bynum the second coming of russel.

Shady & LakerTom;

Well, The Wolf answered the question on trading LO in a poker analogy, if you have an Ace on your hand, three more cards(years) are coming will you quit? Will u ever exchange your ace with unknown cards based on the opinion of "experts"(?) When building a house you always start with foundation, do you start your foundation with studs, beams, or roof? NO, you really have to dig deeper and put the corner posts as the foundation. Kobe, Bynum and Lamar are our posts for the future, we need one more scorer to build a formidable structure. Before continue building, we have to get rid of "termites" cuz' they destroy more than they build. Well, I think Banks will come to LA without any trade.

Let me again revisit the past in '04, just to show you how despereate our GM was at that time, (1) he traded Fox & Payton to Celtics eyeing for 7-footer Mihm, Payton refused to report for Medical cuz' he was pissed with Kupcake past promises, so a CELTIC-Screwy Ainge now a GM demanded to change the nature of the trade instead of Banks he gave us the no-defense Atkins and our GM AGREED! We could have gotten Banks at that time. In another scenario, under Rudy T. w/o the triangle, we never know Payton could have helped Butler-Odom-Kobe, if it didn't work we could have asked Fox to retire and dropped or traded Payton the next year, then we could have used their salaries as cap space. And what happened to the players donated by Screwy-Ainge, well we dropped one the other, traded the next year (now again we're about to throw the 3rd one Mihm away). Do we have a VISION in getting new acquisitions or acting through WHIMS?

Back to circa 2004, we didn't stopped there, Kupcake turned to FA (2) got another "white elephant" Vlade who had a bad back, prone to injury with Sacto so Maloof Bros. let him go & he was also approaching the sunset of his career, well we're desperate in getting 7-footers (perhaps to appease the crying laker fans for losing big Aristotle) so we jumped into the prey, very excited in adding another $5.0M salary for two more years but Vlad had really a bad back (got it from frequent floppin' maybe?)he got injured in practice, so next year we settled for $2.0M just to ask him to go away. (Wow, we're really suckers three-in-a-row and we're exceedingly happy about it!) We are giving away money and players....then take it to the fans by increasing 5% on prices annually with a slogan: "Be proud that you are a Laker-for-life." So in the end, we're chasing players who would like to play with the Lakers for less than a million, what do we get? A bunch of shrubs who could be Superstars in ...... Venice Beach!

Edwin-

Like I said, I don't think they have to trade/should trade him, only that they should listen to anything that comes along. They have to keep an open mind- and this is coming from someone who really likes L.O.'s game. I don't think anyone on this roster is untouchable- save that Kobe fella. If it's a good deal, pull the trigger. What I wouldn't do is trade him to make more room for the big FA. I hate that strategy. Too much of an eggs in one basket thing. Think filling in around a solid core- whatever it looks like. While I think they'll make the playoffs again next year, they're just not a Finals caliber team, even with whatever minor improvements they're likely to make this year. In the long run, creating an architecture for this team that will work over the next four or five seasons is more important than next year's win total.

Andrew Z-

Thanks for the post. The rebuilding won't be easy, and it could take a couple years, and they very well could screw it up. Honestly, I wouldn't want the GM gig right now.

BK

AK/BK

You see guys like Matt Harpring come up as a free agent this offseason. You aren't sure about bringing back George. Do you think the Lakers would be in a position to sign and trade George for a player like Harpring (tenacious defender, decent shooter, real competitor)?

Ben

Ben-

Using George in a sign and trade won't be easy. You have to find a team willing to take him at a salary he wants, and it has to be a place he wants to play. He's unrestricted, and can go anywhere he wants. I woudn't count on it.

Harpring isn't a bad player, but I think they need athletes more than guys like him. Just my take.

BK

THE WOLF:

I agree w/ you on not trading LO for draft picks and keeping Browm at center. My thoughts exactly...

Andrew Z:

Jerry Buss can open his wallet. So what if he goes over the cap a little more. If it can bring us more rings, then go for it. Among other things, he has a great cable TV deal that generates huge revenue for the ballclub. It's similar to what the Yankees have. I love Jerry Buss. He was Mark Cuban and the Maloofs when they were in diapers. He's a gambler/risk taker and I believe if there is a deal that can be done, he'll do it. But what concerns me is the influence that Jim Buss has. My gut tells me he's not the right man to eventually run the LakeShow.

Marcus:

I agree.

rdlee:

I don't think NJ would want Kenyon back, especially if they have to give up Jefferson.

Roland:

Where are you? Come back!!!!!!!

i posted something that seems that the K bros dont wanna post so here it goes again.
i had praised them for beeing the onlu members from the press with a word coz everybody else always keeps changing their mind and i pointed out that kobe was bigger than jordan(wich he is ) but now wade is (wich he isnt).even the guys who are suposendly cool or not the kiss ass type of espn like robert littal the darth kobe thing are in love with wade.wich makes me disgusted coz wade got all the calls.and kobe is beeing robbed big time not just from his play but because of his passion wich is the biggest ever.i will exaplain on the passion more later.i watched soocer players like ronaldo and ronaldinho and zidane absolute geniuses.ronaldinho is the greatest dribbeler he does thing with ball no body imagenes ronaldo dribbled 2 defenders in such a beautiful way that the opposiont coach just laughed.zidane could turn an game with one pass and break the best defences and they were announced great and their passion and attention to details was wat made them speical and got them that praise specially ronaldinho s passion .we always had a smile when he had the ball at his feet something the NBA fails to do (give credit that is) because of the marketting issues. soon will follow a passion peace wich will give u an idea why i adore the number 8 and soon the number 24.

MAGIC=GOAT,

No, Jerry Buss can't open his wallet, the league rules don't allow it. Well, the most he can open it up is for the MLE, but there isn't one player I would want out there who is going to get that money.

BK,

I don't envy Mitch either, and I'm one of the few that thinks he's doing and has done, a good job.

I also hope to all things good and holy that we don't do something stupid like trade for a bad contract (Boozer, Chandler, Dunlevy, etc.) out of sheer panic. I would much rather see us sit idly by and make no major moves than a major bad one. Of course Mr. Kupchak has to perform the incredible juggling act of running a profitable business, succeeding in the present, and protecting the future. Walk in the park, right?

With all the constraints out there as far as spending, we will likely be operating within the confines of that structure. We need to get solid players, who are hard workers and want to buy into the concept of winning. I personally feel Jalen Rose would be a great acquisition because of his Playoff experience and his ability to score. He'd be great off the bench, maybe as Lamar's backup or even Kobe's -- even though he is truly a 1. Perhaps we can grab someone like Danny Fortson (he is a banger regardless of his other issues) and perhaps if we get Banks and a decent draftpick who can at least contribute 5mins a game on the defensive side of things -- we may be looking at the 2nd round come playoffs. I would love a trade that included KG but not at Lamar's expense or Bynums either.

Guys,

Props to K Bros interview with RL. It was titillating to the imagination (RL’s answers being too general) but not satisfying as to who, how and what the Lakers really intends to do other than improving the back court in particular.

Anyhow, most of the discussions in the blog these past days have been about personnel trading and acquisitions. Apparently, everybody (accredited sport writers included) is in consensus that this year’s draft and free agency is not that good. It is also clear that the team is financially handicapped by the luxury tax. So what are the right options for the Lakers? I wish I infallibly know. Then I can relay it to the people that matters, the Buss family, management, and Kobe (maybe the K Bros. too, I’m serious).

Given the above limitations, I was thinking if there is another angle that the team can be improved with just the current line-up and some tweaking in the system coupled with acquisition of minor (no major star) and does not involve any trade of Kobe (obviously), Lamar, Kwame, Bynum, and even Mihm. The questions I want to throw, can the Triangle be tinkered with to adjust to the 2006-2007 season team? If the Triangle is for offensive purposes only, what then is the defensive system?

I know, the answer rightfully should come from Tex Winters and Phil Jackson. However, since we are pooling ideas as to how to make our team really compete for the upcoming season, I think this is worth pondering upon. I would really like to hear thoughts from everybody (hopefully including E. Pincus, and R Lazenby), the K Bros., all bloggers (Laker Tom, Edwin Gueco, Mike T. [hey, you are slacking man], Faith, Wizo, Vman, Jon K, and the rest [can’t enumerate all]).

The championship Bulls have fully utilized the system or was it the right strategy at that time for the players (Jordan, Pippen, etc.)? Even with just serviceable centers, the Bulls won their 3 peats. Ergo, I think Kwame will do as our center. He just needs to know how to protect the rim (if only he can do what Ben Wallace does!). I have always observed that defending the pick and roll is the weakness of Phil Jackson’s teams. It was probably camouflage at the time of the Bulls championships (even the Lakers championship) because other teams were more concerned on stopping the dynamic duo (Jordan/Pippen and Shaq/Kobe). The other teams have since adjusted like the Spurs, Suns, etc. that successfully and relentlessly keep on using the pick and roll against Phil Jackson (or the Traingle). Given the line-up, how should/would the Triangle System counter this?

Hope this merits everyone’s thoughts.

BK

Not to ask a ridiculous question, but where and how did our scouts get their start with the orginization?

Ben Walsh

 
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