L.O.C.Over: Worried about anything else these days?
With Lamar Odom Contract Omni-Watch something we can now look back upon with a chuckle, on the surface, it would appear Laker fans have very little to sweat before the season kicks off. I know I've enjoyed getting my "relax" on for nearly a week. But if my time as Lakers Blog co-host has taught me anything, it's that Lakers fans (in particular, the ones that habituating this little corner of the Internet) don't tend to roll like that. There always seems to be something folks are stewing over, so I'm wondering what the issues may be. Here's what popped into my head, if I had to guess:
- Kobe Bryant's Contract Extension
Honestly, I have no idea why this would cause sleepless nights. Kobe has already declared more than once that he's sticking around. Which makes perfect sense, because why the hell would he ditch the league's top team that just so happens to be able to offer him the most cheddar? Plus, that whole "Kobe's the best player on the team and arguably the entire league, so the Lakers would like to retain his services" thing. Thus, I imagine his impending extension "negotiations" will play out something like this:
Rob Pelinka: Hey Mitch, if you have a sec, I'd like to discuss the terms Kobe and I were thinking for his extension.
Mitch Kupchak: Yeah, that's fine. But really, unless you're including a clause where Kobe gets to ride a unicorn onto the court during his introduction... and don't misunderstand me, Rob, it's only because I don't know where to buy a unicorn and I'm pretty sure they don't exist, not because we're playing hardball... we can save ourselves a fair amount of stress. The answer to "blank" is "yes."
Obviously, the process won't be quite that easy, but all joking aside, I doubt it'll be considerably more complicated. It's basically just a matter of how much Kobe asks for, because he'll get whatever he wants. Save perhaps specific incentives, stipulations, and the like, ain't much to haggle over.
Am I wrong?
- Ron Artest's History, Off And On The Court
Away from the hardwood, call me a naive Kool Aid chugger, but I'm thinking Artest's time in purple and gold will be relatively drama-free. Mind you, "drama-free" shouldn't be confused with "ho hum," because if Ron Ron's interviews, press conferences, Tweets, jersey number shout outs, musical stylings, etc. have all thoroughly demonstrated, the man is nothing if not a touch odd. However, I thinking the oddness is a potentially bigger headache for John Black and the Media Relations staff than the Lakers as a functioning unit, unless teammates grow truly sick of Artest's "self expression." And while history certainly makes "meltdown" concerns understandable, I'm personally not worried.
On the court, I also wouldn't describe myself as "worried." But I will need to see the actual product before tabbing Artest as the truly ideal Trevor Ariza sub. In particular, if Artest can adjust to being a third (maybe even a fourth) option on this Lakers team, a role he hasn't been assigned since his early days with Chicago. He said all the right things at his introductory press conference, which is a nice start, but seeing is believing. Ron Ron also needs to curb a history of breaking from the offense and doing his own thang, a habit which often results in Godawful shots, most recently witnessed during the Western Conference Semi-Finals.
As I said at the time of this inking, I'm actually pretty confident the Artest Era will work out just fine. But I'm still willing to express what I consider a reasonable "other side of the coin" argument.
- The Desire For Roster Tweaks, Either In the Form Of...
1) Free agent pickups
As I've mentioned for quite some time, the affordable pickins are seriously slim (which is why I considered resigning Lamar Odom nothing short of paramount). And with the roster sitting at a baker's dozen, the number Kupchak previously deemed "magic," I don't picture the Lakers inking additional free agents. Nor do I blame them, based on who's available.
I'd jump at the chance to sign Joe Smith, a smart, experienced, "great in the locker room" veteran, whether as injury insurance or simply to limit the seasonal wear on Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, and Odom. I seriously doubt there are enough minutes available to entice Smith, even with a title shot as bait, but still, if we're talking hypothetical, he's a tempting addition. Beyond Smith, I'm pretty "meh" towards the realistic options. If, however, you disagree, by all means, feel free to toss around some names.
Similar to my free agent perspective, I don't see the pressing need for a championship team to make big moves, a philosophy apparently simpatico with the front office's. Aside from an attempt to move Jordan Farmar for future picks/tax relief before the draft, no Laker has been widely described as "on the block." Even Adam Morrison, acquired first and foremost to shed Vlad Rad's contract, will likely get an earnest look before truly morphing into "Expiring Contract And Nothing More" mode. And should Ammo's most (currently) appealing asset remain 5 mil coming off the books, it's worth playing some games and identifying the most glaring need before absorbing what would likely be longer term salary in exchange. But beyond Farmar and Ammo, there's nobody I picture the Lakers working hard to move (or capable of moving even if they wanted to).
Of course, that's just me. If you'd prefer immediate- and for the love of all that's holy, realistic- wheelin' and dealin', toss around your two cents.
- Andrew Bynum's Ability to Carve Out an Entire (knock on wood) Season and Postseason of Quality.
If you're not mulling this issue, Fox Sports' Charley Rosen has you covered, citing- among other issues- a sense of entitlement. I wouldn't go that far in describing Drew's obvious desire for goosed touches (although he's definitely prone to letting offensive involvement dictate defensive intensity), but I understand why Rosen feels that way. Personally, I don't think the issue is so much Drew's attitude as an utter lack of "filter," which leads to voicing what most players think, but wisely keep to themselves, particularly while still unproven. At least a few steps need to be walked before we've hit "prima donna" status, in my opinion.
Having said that, I do agree that Bynum does have some "proving" on his plate. If nothing else, proving he can handle the physical rigors of 30-ish mpg over 82 games and playoff change. I don't even mean avoiding injury (although that obviously counts), but not being gassed come postseason time. Remember, Drew's never played a deep run in its entirety, so mentally and physically, he doesn't know what to expect and how to sustain the flashes we've seen since late 2007. It'll be interesting to see how AB handles this challenge, assuming he manages to stay healthy.
(Rosen also recently addressed questions regarding LO and Derek FIsher, if you're interested)
- Kurt Rambis' potential exit
Clark Kent remains on the short list of candidates to man the white board in Minny. Should the Laker assistant get the nod, are you concerned Phil Jackson and co. would feel his absence or suffer from a lack of continuity?
Will 2009's title will leave the roster's collective belly fat, satisfied and less motivated to repeat? I'm betting no, but I've seen y'all sweat a hell of a lot less, so I thought it was worth asking.
No matter how pretty the Lakers are sitting all season, these bad boys could pop up from a Figueroa Blvd. sewer, mosey on over to Staples and ruin the party. I'm just saying.