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It begins

Not that you'd expect anything different about two and a half hours into the first practice of the first day of the season, but there wasn't a ton of news coming out of El Segundo this afternoon.  The biggest was probably with Lamar Odom, who clarified/expanded on comments made at Monday's media day regarding the possibility of him coming off the bench.  Fair to say he didn't like the idea.  He still doesn't, nor would you expect him to, really, but made it clear at the same time he's not interested in being a distraction

"It's not about me right now, at the end of the day," Odom said. "You see what I'm saying?  It's not about sacrificing when you're winning.  If you want to win, you can't expect to get every rebound, every loose ball when you've got the talent we've got out there.  I don't call it sacrificing when you're winning, you're just playing together, and I don't think it'll be a problem for us to play together. It's not right for me to be selfish.  I walk into the locker room, and I'm like, 'This team is going to win a championship, and I want to be a part of that.' "

Still, the free agent-to-be finds himself squarely in the cross hairs of basketball's "politics and business," and Odom, never one to underthink a situation, understands the situation.  "It's definitely conflicted emotions," he said. "I might wake today feeling one way, then wake up tomorrow feeling another way.  This is the team I want to be with, this is the coach I want to play for, these are the guys I want to be around.

I wouldn't worry about Odom's reaction to the whole "sixth man" concept, at least not until it becomes something the Lakers want to do, but he's a sensitive guy.  He's certainly used to being the subject of near-constant trade rumors, but the contract status adds a new wrinkle. 

Moving on, we didn't have a chance to catch up with LO Monday, so he gave a little background on his summer:

  • Odom spent the summer trying to get healthy, letting his tendinitis in the knee "calm down," and heal up his shoulder.  "I feel good right now.  Sometimes with that tendinitis, the best thing to do is absolutely nothing.  Just lay on the beach with some good company.  A Corona, if that's your preference," Odom said with a laugh. "Then build back up from the beginning." 
  • On the adjustment to the wing: "I prefer the mismatch.  This year, I'm going to be taking the ball out, pushing it out, and making plays happen.  Kind of facilitate, and that's what I like to do anyway.  It's the strength of my game... Defensively, it shouldn't be a problem because guys that are quicker than me, I can just run them into the seven footer and take their guy.  It's going to make us so much better defensively that I'm looking forward to it.  I'm looking forward to showing people that I can play a complete game without shooting 25, 20, or 15 shots, because you've got players around you who are going to compliment what you do.  On a team like this, I'm going to be able to control the game with taking eight shots, getting 12 rebounds and eight assists, scoring 10 points a game.  It's going to be a lot of fun playing with guys like this."
  • In that sense, Odom is the perfect compliment to what the Lakers are doing, precisely because he isn't looking for shots.  I know we had this debate all summer, but for the Lakers to bring in another player (Ron Artest for example) who wants his points and likes to shoot had the risk of upsetting the apple cart, so to speak.  The Lakers already have three strong offensive options in Bynum, Gasol, and (of course) Kobe.  Theoretically, at least, this is the perfect environment for Odom to thrive, as he did over the second half last year.  It won't be cheap at $14 mil, but that's not really the issue. 
  • On rebounding, Odom said that with Andrew Bynum back, the giant frontcourt, and healthy backups in Chris Mihm and DJ Mbenga, the Lakers shouldn't have any problems controlling the boards.

In other news...

  • Set up perfectly by a reporter who asked if the whole PT thing could help motivate Odom, PJ couldn't help but make a joke at LO's expense.   "I don't know," he smiled.  "I've never seen Lamar motivated before."
  • Kobe and Pau watched the end of the morning practice as their teammates completed wind sprints.  They spent that time playing one on one against each other, with Kobe posting and trying to launch fadeaways over the limb-y Spainaird.  PJ made it clear that those two would be on a reduced schedule in the early going, to try and keep them fresh after their Olympic experience.  Jackson also strongly implied that at least initially, Kobe's run in the preseason games could be short, perhaps very short.  Keep that in mind when purchasing tickets. 
  • Kobe spoke about his finger, and said at this point, there's nothing about it that limits him.  He'll be rolling without tape this season, and has regained much of the strength in his hand thanks to some very focused exercises. There's some pain if it gets hit, but "I don't worry about it at all."
  • Chris Mihm was very encouraged by his first practice. "It's the first time since March (of '06), when I originally injured the foot."  He's regained his trust in the foot, though Mihm said he never really lost it after each surgery, just to end up disappointed.  This summer, he "stressed" it extensively, and "it responded better than I ever could have anticipated.  Zero pain the whole summer." 
  • He's also looking at free agency after this season.  "As far as the contract goes, that kind of stuff takes care of itself if you can play.  I just want for myself, more than anything, to get out there and play and have fun again, and not be frustrated nursing frustration with my foot."
  • Between him and Trevor Ariza, himself healthy after foot problems of his own, they can finally turn in their walking boots.  "Maybe we'll have a bonfire," Mihm said.  "It would be a lot more fun."
  • Finally, it was interesting to see both Dr. Buss and Jimmy at practice today.  Both were smiling, and Jim told me he's completely stoked to get things underway.  The guy has a serious basketball Jones, it's fair to say. 

BK

 
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Dwight Howard is too small.
Yao Ming is too slow.
Shaq too old and fat.

Beware the Beast

At the end of the day, Lamar is only human..

I'm glad that Lamar is being honest with everyone. Lamar is trying to have the best of both worlds but sometimes it doesn't always work out. In everyone's dream world Lamar would start, Lakers would win a championship, and Lamar would get a nice extension. All those things probably won't happen.

I think the the biggest factor is winning. If the Lakers dominate like they should then I'm sure Odom will either be starting or getting big minutes and making a huge contribution. That bodes well for the Lakers and Lamar's contract. If the Lakers win it all, and Lamars happy, I expect an extension for about 8-10 mil a year. Lamar will be happy to stay, win, and contribute; and the Lakers will be happy to keep a key guy around for a much cheaper price.

What Lamar doesn't want to happen is for the Lakers to "struggle" with him being the 6th man. Thats a lose-lose situation. He doesn't get to show the other teams his talents and there is no reward in the form or winning. I don't expect this to happen.

Lamar simply has his guard up. He knows he is constantly being thrown in to trade talks and probably feels a bit "used" (even though he's getting 14 mil). He wants to hedge his bets by starting (and showing off his talents) just in case the Lakers don't give him a new contract.

The Lakers need Lamar and Lamar needs the Lakers, therefor Lamar will finish his career as a Laker. The Lakers will benefit greatly by Lamar Odom's play. He is awesome at doing all the "little things". He can dribble, drive, rebound, and most importantly pass the ball well for his size. If Lamar is playing to his ability then he can be very valuable.

Lamar needs the Lakers because he likes everything that LA has to offer as well as winning with the Lakers. Last time I checked Lamar had a rap label and a clothing line. I just talked to a friend that works for HBO and she saw Lamar partying at the Emmy after party. Lamar likes that kind of thing. It will be hard to run all his businesses in Milwaukee or Okla City. Plus, the Lakers offer Lamar the best chance to win and I know that is important to Lamar. If he gets a ring, I'm sure Lamar will take a paycut to try and get another one...

Lamar = Laker for Life

GO LAKERS

I would like to see Odom playing some 1 on offense with Ariza at the 3. They could switch on D.

For that tendinitis thing, good its out NOW. Remember when he played like an All star in 06-07? He plays well then ends up getting injured on the knee and it no doubt hindered him even after getting better. Better that it is gone now.

On the topic offensively, seems like will be the point forward once again. He did it in 05-06 and luckily for us back then he didn't totally fail then (he was learning the offense) at the same time didn't do too bad (5.5 assists). It allows Kobe to less bring up the ball up the court and Fish to get in better position and do the same exact role as John Paxson did in Chicago. And plus 3 guys can bring the ball up the floor so no real sweat.

Defensively might have 1 concern. He is a mismatch defensively as well and posting up Small Forward will find it harder. The only thing is the putting his man into a 7 footer. It's bad in a way since it risks our big guys into foul trouble with penetrating small forwards (only Lebron and Paul Pierce so far is concerning somewhat, then again heck who truly has completely stopped either of them?). It's good since it's help defense and would be very similar to the Jordan Rules part where Dumars ran Michael Jordan into Salley, Rodman, or even Laimbeer. Hope though he can play recover defense still so there won't be too much of a mismatch in favor of the penetrating Small Forward.

Agree with you 100% BK, being not the "lead" guy or even the 2nd fiddle will help Lamar mentally. Maybe not fantasy wise (He was a steal for me in the 5th Round of the draft last year, maybe I can get him in the 5th Round again) he will be good but heck, run the offense, play good defense both man to man and help defense and Lamar will do fine.

Heck everyone being healthy is so nice. Training camp is so much better than the offseason (though not as good as the regular season, the playoffs, and way not good as winning the championship).

-blitz

Lam-Od has had his chances - he certainly didn't make a difference when facing PHX in the playoffs, nor Boston.

He's shown flashes but will he ever be as solid as Amare, or J-Howard, or even Melo? No...

The SUNS are hoping Lam-Od stays a laker!

Wow oh wow oh wow.

Bynum looks big. Gargantuan.

Anyone else remember the Gargantua films from the 70's? Right, two big furry monsters one brown and one green, one good and one bad? Campy Japanese monster cinema at it's best.

Anyways, Bynum looks like one of those monsters, hopefully a combination of both. The evil one for road games, the good one for home games.

Did anyone notice how Bynum had to bend over to get in the picture with Gasol. Holy smokes, the guy id huge. And his arms look like D. Howards.

Let the season begin.

Wes

BTW...I see big things from Lamar this year. He and Bynum have the most to prove/loose and I think it's gonna light some fires in both.

Wes

If Bynum paints himself green, he looks like the Hulk!

Lets call him The Incredible Hulk!!
This day will be known as the day of the HULK.

Nutler - you've been out in the deset heat too much. Try turning on the AC at some point man. Your brain is writing checks your suns cannot cash. As someone who lives in the valley- I cannot wait to see you and your clones all year as we administer the beatdown. How does it feel to know that championship window just slammed shut.

"he (Lamar Odom) certainly didn't make a difference when facing PHX in the playoffs"

Against PHX: 2005-2006 Playoffs
19.1ppg on 49.5% shooting, 11.0 rpg, 4.9 apg and Lakers take Suns to 7 games

Against PHX: 2006-2007 Playoffs:
19.4ppg on 48.2% shooting, 13.0rpg, 2.2 apg and he does this playing with a sore knee and an injured shoulder.

Lamar certainly did make a difference against PHX in the playoffs. And he did those statistics against Shawn Marion (unlike Kwa-may Brown who scored less than 12 ppg against Diaw but then went down to 8ppg against StoudeWHINER the following year).

Again: WRONG you are Butler boy.

"He's shown flashes but will he ever be as solid as Amare, or J-Howard, or even Melo? No..."

That's true, but we aren't counting on him to be the 1st or 2nd guy on the Lakers are we this season?

"The SUNS are hoping Lam-Od stays a laker!"

All the better for the Lakers, at least we got someone who can rebound and a good Forward regardless of 6th man or not. Thanks for that, hehe maybe you really are a Laker after all.

Cmon Butler boy this is too easy. I thought sinking Pfunk's arguments was easy, this is something I can sink in my sleep! :P.

According to KB24 the biggest wear and tear on a basketball players' body is the process of getting back into shape when you get out of shape --

This means that O’ Fat is about 107 years old in basketball years.

GHE DISBANDS LOS ANGELES LAKERS CHAPTER...

On a sad note, exhelodrvr, the former Navy pilot, political pundit, master of the one-liner, and one-time chief of the Lakers GHE chapter announced today that the he was formally disbanding the Lakers GHE chapter. Pressed for a comment, ex lamented that “the Lakers are so damn good that it was getting hard to find enough to complain about. And frankly, the other problem was nobody left to talk to as even the most die-hard GHE fans have gone over to the GHF side.”

Seriously, though, Fatty was right when he said that Kobe and the Lakers must have been drinking LakerTom’s GHF Kool-Aid. I posted an offer to give some to our politicians as Edwin suggested but AK declared the post to be “political” and deleted it before I received a response. (Just kidding, Andy. I will try and remain politically neutral – or neutered, depending on your point of view. LOL. It is so damn hard to do though. But you are right. So on to basketball).

Truthfully, I am getting worried about my position as the blog’s most optimistic Lakers fan. I mean there are probably a half a dozen bloggers who have come out and predicted the Lakers would actually win more games than I predicted. LOL. Hell, there are even reporters who are saying the Lakers are better than I have said. Worse, I find myself almost agreeing with every single post that ex makes. Excluding any political posts, of course. I mean can ex be right?

I really like the vibes I am picking up from everybody around the Lakers from the players, the coaches, the local writer, the bloggers. I think most of the blogosphere would agree that this is going to be one of the most anticipated and truly exciting seasons in the Lakers storied history. Pig thinks we’re going to eat up the rest of the NBA. Mamba is being asked to setup 70-Game Bandwagons. New threads are coming so fast even the regulars are grasping for breath. And we still haven’t even played an exhibition game.

It definitely seems as if Phil and the coaching staff are intent on infusing a stronger defensive presence in this team as well as experimenting with how to best optimize a 10-man rotation. Will the touted Triple Towers work? I think so. Will Lamar work as a 6th man? I think so. Will we see a bigger and better Beast? Damn straight! Will we win it all this year? Bet on it. This is the juxtaposition and intersection of the Era of the Mamba and the Era of the Beast.

Tom

Nutler - Let's get real. The Suns never got over the top. They have the worst mvp recipient of all time. One question, Nutty Boy, who is Nash going to atempt to cover - WHO THE HELL HAS HE EVER BEEN ABLE TO DEFEND? In His prime, Steve Nash was one of the worst defenders in the NBA. What PG cannot post him up and or manhandle him? He is small, weak, and getting old fast. When they took his security blanket (Marion) and traded it for intestinal Cancer (Shaq), the sealed their own fate. The suns are not only not a threat, they are not even in the conversation. Not only will they get kicked by the Lake Show - they will be getting beat down by EVERYONE. Count on Portland replacing them in the conversation Nutler, and consider yourself and the Suns to be irrelevant into the future.

mr. b.

Good piece on Lamar. Lamar was made for this team and hopefully he will be a Laker for life. I like the fire in Odom's words in reguards to him coming off of the bench. He's intent on starting and seems willing to fight for it. And we all know how Lamar plays when he's aggressive. He's unstoppable!

In fact, I'll wager a beer at Staples Center that all of this "Lamar the 6th-man" talk is purely Jackson's brilliant ploy to get Odom's attention. Think about it, Lamar is the kind of guy that you need to keep tabs on. In my opinion, Lamar needs extra attention. The dude has more layers than an onion.

Last year (2nd half), he was 3rd option, perfect. First, even second fiddle is a role Lamar struggles in. Like AK said, he doesn't usually tend to underthink things. That 3rd option seemed just right. Jackson may feel that 4th option pourage may be a little cold. He's just keeping the heat on.

zz

Again it begins
The Lakers, God bless them now
Long, I have waited

GO LAKERS!

kobebryantblitz,

Awesome post.

Blitz. The ownage continues.

ZZ-

Thanks for your input. I too think Phil and Odom are just playing games with each other. I have no doubts that Lamar will put in a solid season, most likely his best yet..as a starter.

Lamar = Laker for Life

GO LAKERS

I believe Phil Jackson's core talent is defining a clear role for everyone on his teams...and making slight adjustments over the course of the season.

He'll get Lamar in the right role, all this fuss over him not fitting in is just part of Jackon's mode of operating. A true pleasure to watch him teeing everything up just so - starting the very moment he hits town.

Am I the only one thinking there may not be enough real estate in the box for our front line?

indeed Jon K.

Lakers will be much more exciting then the Bruins at the moment.

-blitz

On the adjustment to the wing: "I prefer the mismatch. This year, I'm going to be taking the ball out, pushing it out, and making plays happen. Kind of facilitate, and that's what I like to do anyway. It's the strength of my game... Defensively, it shouldn't be a problem because guys that are quicker than me, I can just run them into the seven footer and take their guy. It's going to make us so much better defensively that I'm looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to showing people that I can play a complete game without shooting 25, 20, or 15 shots, because you've got players around you who are going to compliment what you do. On a team like this, I'm going to be able to control the game with taking eight shots, getting 12 rebounds and eight assists, scoring 10 points a game. It's going to be a lot of fun playing with guys like this."


I find this: On a team like thisdisturbing: I'm going to be able to control the game with taking eight shots, getting 12 rebounds and eight assists, scoring 10 points a game.

That would mean he's shooting five for 8 and I don't think
he'll average that. He will not avg 12 rebounds per game
because at SF he'll be playing away from the boards.
you'll notice the lack of defensive focus.

BK, you never did address my request for a written policy. That would mean that it doesn't exist and it is
subjective as to what gets printed. Cool. I'll make sure
I use big words. excrement.


BigDawg(no i dont have a size issue, really) sez:

"The suns are not only not a threat, they are not even in the conversation. "

Except for the conversation you're having, you mean?

Really, picking on a short white guy, Big Dawggy? Is that how you pump your hopes up? Trying to make Nash look bad never works, and not just because He's earned twice as many mvps as any current lacker, but because He isn't supposed to excel at this sport dominated by people who don't look at all like Him.

In other words, NASH is the Greatest PG of all Time. Even laker fans acknowledge this to be true. Utzworld was just on here a few weeks back saying that MJ, Bird, Russell, Nash and Duncan are the best ever at their respective positions. And I believe he's right.

Listen look at the problems we are talking about LO coming off the bench. I love this LO will be whatever Phil wants him to do. he is a great locker room guy. Him with the 2nd unit will be crazy. Him and Bynum together or him and Pau together spell wins baby

The Blitz sez:

"Lamar certainly did make a difference against PHX in the playoffs."

Just because he put up some offense? Listen to your own team for a second (hint: defense).

Check out Marion's stats for that series and you'll see the rest of the story. Lam-Od's defensive skills are the problem. Man, throwing stats around as if they meant the same thing as having an impact on a game or series...you're usually sharp, blitz.

If I'm wrong, and lamar really did do something to thwart the SUNS in the playoffs in the two times they've met, then why is lamar's future always in doubt?

Butler,

Laker fans acknowledge that Nash is the greatest PG of all time? I assume you mean that they are getting the proverbial "bump on the head" as LO would say when they forget about Magic. Remember him, oh wait, you are only 13, you probably don't. My bad, sorry.

"Check out Marion's stats for that series and you'll see the rest of the story. Lam-Od's defensive skills are the problem. Man, throwing stats around as if they meant the same thing as having an impact on a game or series...you're usually sharp, blitz."

ok then here's Marion's stats vs Lamar Odom defense:

05-06 Playoffs (versus a healthy Lamar): 18.1ppg on 44.9% shooting and Marion had 21.8ppg on 52.5% shooting for the regular season. Anytime you can lower the opponent's FG% consistently=good defense.

06-07 Playoffs: (versus an injured Lamar): 18.4ppg on 47.5% shooting, Marion averaged 17.5ppg on 52.4% shooting during the regular season.

Both years Lamar lowered Shawn Marion's FG% from his season average. Butler you got owned again!

"If I'm wrong, and lamar really did do something to thwart the SUNS in the playoffs in the two times they've met, then why is lamar's future always in doubt?"

Lamar was the only other consistent player on the Lakers besides Kobe during those two years. Had we have a better player at center than Kwa-may Brown then we would have won the 1st time. In fact, 2006 playoffs we overachieved considering Boris was the center and Kwa-may averaged 12.6ppg. Next year Amare is back and isn't a great defender then and yet he limits Kwa-may to 8ppg for the 2007 series. If no Lamar then most likely a sweep in 2007 Playoffs and probably 5 game series going to the Suns in 2006. Lamar really thrawted the Suns from being effective, it was a lack of team mate support beyond Kobe that made the Suns win over the Lakers.

Why is his future in doubt? Simple, Lamar is the biggest trade piece the Lakers have beyond Kobe. He is very talented and for KG I would have traded Lamar (but I wouldn't have given up Bynum). Lamar is more suited as a point forward facilitator rather than a force inside. Lamar is athletic enough to play the 4 and big enough to play the 3. Plus Lamar's contract is a huge trade bait piece. 14.2 million expiring contract is huge and can help teams get below the cap to sign free agents to w/e they want their salaries to be.

Sorry Butler boy, again you got served.

-blitz

Damn, and to think I actually came on here and defended butler once. I must have bumped MY head. O.K., lets go over this one more time for the slow people; #1 Magic #2 Big O #3 Stockton #4 Isaiah #5 Cousy. Got it? Did you take notes? There will be a quiz later.

This is so awesome to actually be reading daily updates again instead of screaming at Trolls, arguing amoung ourselves and complaining to the Kamenetsky Brothers.

Just awesome.

IT BEGINS!

GO LAKERS!

By the way, this talk of Lamar Odom starting at a point forward position is ALRIGHT BY ME!

GO LAKERS!

Tha Blitz -

Lamar for KG? Are you out of your mind??? AHAHAHA!!!

My point, which went right over yer head, is that Lam-Odd put up some points but without keeping Marion from scoring, he didn't have an impact on D, the more important side of the court.

Which was also the case vs. Boston. Which is why Lam-Odd has always been up for trade no matter
what team he's played with.

Try again blitz, you'll catch on with a lil more practice.


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