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Sizing up the Lakers-Phoenix matchup

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The Lakers have a well-deserved day off today, knowing there will be plenty of days to practice before their West Finals matchup with Phoenix begins next Monday. Hey, even if the NBA's interest in this drawn out schedule has more to do with dollars and cents than worrying about the team's well-being, the Lakers and Suns will gladly take the extra days between games.

That means there shouldn't be any reason fans of the L.A. Times Lakers blog aren't fully prepared with what to expect. We're currently in that stage where everyone wants to talk about the upcoming series (that could be a different story by this weekend). So while you take delight in seeing Cleveland and Boston beat up on each other in the Eastern Conference semifinal, after the jump is a rundown of the pros and cons the Lakers face entering their matchup with the Suns.

Pros

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Kobe Bryant

What a difference a series makes. While many of us in the media, included myself, wondered how Bryant would cope with his numerous injuries against Oklahoma City, the solution really just entailed constant treatment. Though there was the occasional column or two that wrongfully suggested this is the mark of Bryant's decline, there's no question injuries affected his game. But with getting constant treatment on his right index finger, left ankle and right knee, Bryant's elevation, quickness and willingness to drive to the bask have all increased. It's resulted in Bryant scoring at least 30 points in five consecutive games. With Bryant having a full week to heal even more, don't be surprised if he drops 40 points a few times this series.

Size advantage

One of the key components to the Lakers' semifinals sweep against Utah entailed the Lakers tremendous size advantage. With Utah without Mehmet Okur (ruptured left Achilles) for the series and Andrei Kirilenko (ruptured left Achilles missing the first two games, the Jazz had little to counter the Lakers' talent in the post, featuring Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. In fact, the three scored 163 of the team's 437 total points in four games. They grabbed at least 10 rebounds apiece in the first two games, a feat that hasn't happened since the 1985 Portland team accomplished it in a playoff matchup against Dallas. And their double teams in Game 3 led to strong shooting performances from Ron Artest and Derek Fisher, both whom scored 20 points on seven of 13 shooting.

If the Lakers' history has anything to do with it, their size should prove advantageous against a team who lacks any seven-footer in the starting lineup. Bynum scored 26 points and Odom came close to a triple double in the Lakers' 121-102 victory Nov. 12 against Phoenix, despite missing the services of Gasol (right hamstring). In the Lakers' 102-96 victory March 12 over Phoenix, Bynum (18 points) and Gasol (15 points) represented two of the fives players who scored double figures for the Lakers.

Considering, Bynum will have an extra week to get treatment on the lateral meniscus on his right knee, he shouldn't experience the kind of dropoff he had in Game 3 (zero points) and Game 4 (six points) against Utah.

Momentum

The Lakers inconsistency made it difficult to accurately assess the team's weaknesses. Rarely this season did an embarrassing loss or a signature victory carry over into the following game. Until now.

With the Lakers winning six consecutive playoff games, they have chosen the best time to be at their peak. And the statistics signify improvement in a number of areas. Consider the improvement from the first-round series against Oklahoma City to Utah in Bryant (23.5 points on 40.8% shooting, 32 points on 52.3% shooting), Gasol (18 points on 53.2% shooting and 12.2 rebounds, 23.5 points on 60.7% shooting and 14.5 rebounds), Fisher (10.2 points on 43.1% shooting, 11.3 points on 46.9% shooting), Odom (7.8 points and 6.8 boards, 9.5 points and 6.8 boards) and Artest (8.2 points on 34.4% shooting, 12.3 poiints on 42.6% shooting).

The team itself also boasted improvements in total offense (95.5 points per game, 109.3 points per game), field-goal percentage (44.2%, 49.1%), rebounding (43.3, 45.5) and blocks (6.3, 7.5).

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Cons

Suns Bench

While the Lakers largely wonder what kind of effort their reserves will bring each night, Phoenix heavily relies on its bench to get the job done.

Jared Dudley's six rebounds made the difference in the Suns' 110-102 Game 2 victory over San Antonio. Goran Dragic scored 23 fourth-quarter points in Phoenix's 110-96 Game 3 win over the Spurs. And in Phoenix's first nine playoff games, Channing Frye made 40% of 45 three-point attempts.

The Suns and Lakers contrasted each other's benches perfectly in Phoenix's 118-103 win Dec. 28 over the Lakers where the Suns' reserves outscored the Lakers' bench, 52-31. In the postseason, the Lakers bench helped sustain leads in Games 1 and 6 against Oklahoma City, but they had trouble holding leads in Games 1 and 2 against Utah, prompting Jackson to put his starters back in the game.

Phoenix's pick and roll offense 

The Lakers are no strangers to the Phoenix's ability to run the screen-and-roll to perfection. In a 118-103 loss Dec. 28 to Phoenix, Suns guard Steve Nash buried the Lakers with 13 assists and making three of the Suns' 12 three-pointers. The Lakers largely struggled with rotations that game and sorely missed the presence of Artest, who was in the middle of a five-game absence because of a concussion he suffered Christmas night after the Lakers' loss to Cleveland. Artest will be back for this one, but his defense largely centers on neutralizing a the opponent's top scorer, meaning it'll be more up to the team's rotations to limit any breakdowns on the screen and roll.

Nearly every NBA team struggles with defending the pick-and-roll, but it's an area the Suns particularly well. Even with essentially playing with one eye in Game 4 against San Antonio, Nash still remained effective. He's averaged Nash averaged 17.8 points and 9.0 assists in 10 playoff games, while his main partner in crime, Amare Stoudemire, has averaged 20.5 points per game in the playoffs, though that's a dip compared to his 27 points he averaged point per game in March and April.

Suns' chemistry

And to think, Phoenix appeared very likely to trade Stoudemire. But as soon as the deadline passed, The New York Times' Jonathan Abrams reported Suns forward Grant Hill stressed for the team to remain in unity.

The concerts and dinners proved instrumental in the Suns winning 22 of their last 26 games. Phoenix has also beaten teams in the playoffs by an average margin 9.8 points, which ranks second in the league behind the Orlando Magic. And each effort against San Antonio presented something new. The Suns outran the Spurs in Game 1. Phoenix outworked San Antonio in Game 2. Dragic stepped in as a contributor in Game 3. And Nash willed his team to win in Game 4, despite playing with a swollen right eye after Tim Duncan struck him with an inadvertent elbow.

--Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant tries for a reverse layup against the defense of Utah forwards Paul Millsap (left) and Andrei Kirilenko (47) as well as guard Kyle Korver (background) in the first half Monday night. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times.

Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant absorbs contact from Phoenix center Robin Lopez on a driving layup in the second half Friday night. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas / US Presswire.

Photo: Lakers forward Ron Artest (37) tries to keep center Andrew Bynum and Suns power forward Amare Stoudemire separated as they have words during a game this season. Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images.

 
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I think there are 3 really big things the Lakers will look to focus on going in to this series.

The first and most important key is Jason Richardson. The Suns were 29-4 during the regular season when he scored 20+ points, including 10-0 in their last 10. He is currently 6th in the NBA in Playoff PER at 25.27, right behind Gasol and well ahead of Kobe, Nash and Stoudemire. When this guy is on, the Suns are practically unstoppable.

Second is slowing the Suns' bench, which is a skilled and energetic unit. Dragic, Dudley, Admunson, Barbosa, Lopez - these guys come off the bench and give them a big time spark. If Odom, Farmar, Brown, Walton and Sasha (if he's available) are unable keep things close when matched up against the Suns bench, things could get out of hand very quickly for the Lakers.

Finally, as great a shooter as Nash is, he's an even greater passer, and I've always thought the best strategy against the Suns is to let Nash become a scorer. When he gets everyone involved and comfortable, that's what they're the most dangerous. Nash would rather get 15 and 15 than get 30 and 8. I say, let him get his 30 and 8.

So to recap: Lock down Richardson, match the energy of their bench and let Nash get his.

And, of course, it should go without saying: FEED THE POST AND DON'T SETTLE FOR G.D. 3 POINTERS!! Long misses lead to long rebounds which lead to fast break points. If the Lakers can stay disciplined, I fully expect Pau and Bynum to average 40 and 20 in this series.

mamba24 & MM & MrNano

we don't need an IP address to identify BUTLER or his impostors.

he identified himself: spelling Coby

the good grammar, politeness was just an EPHEMERAL moment like the Los Suns in the WCF. simulation or not.

puddle

on the screen and roll blog a poster had Jason Richardson's stats when playing against Kobe: something like 30 min/game, aprox 30 % shooting and most important 8.8PPG. that won't do it.

Summer Re-Load part 1: Who should the Lakers keep?

Kobe's a lock. He's a Laker for life, no ifs, ands or buts.

The easy route (and the most likely one if they win in June) is to keep most of the rest of the core players together as well: that means Gasol, Bynum, Odom, Artest, and Fisher (and possibly Farmar &/or Brown, depending on how they finish out the season). If the Lakers win the title, I'm pretty sure that's how it will go: keep as many of the players around as you can without going much higher in salary.

In the keep-em scenario, the only players in flux are Morrison, Powell, MBenga, and Farmar &/or Brown. Walton and Vujacic are already under contract, so unless you could trade them for something better, it doesn't hurt to keep them around.

So what the Lakers shop for in a keeper scenario, it comes down to whether they have faith in the future of either Farmar or Brown to take over after Fisher. If so, then sign them for 4 or 5 years. If not, then they need to shop for a PG this summer.

With a front court rotation of Bynum/Gasol/Odom/Artest, it doesn't make sense for the Lakers to bring in another big, unless it's a bench guy who won't mind playing only a few minutes a game and being ready to step up his game if someone gets injured. They'd have to be willing to settle for very little money. Maybe a veteran who wants to get a ring and doesn't care about the money. Like Jermaine O'Neal. Or Zydrunas Ilgauskas (if LeBron leaves Cleveland). But if they can't find such a vet, then Powell and MBenga are at least Okay in that role. Not great, but okay.

So the big deal is PG. Problem is, there aren't a lot of quality free agent PGs this summer. Here are the top free agent PGs:

Ray Felton
Nate Robinson
Jordan Farmar
Steve Blake
Luke Ridnour
Kyle Lowry
Carlos Arroyo
Sergio Rodriguez (restricted)
Will Bynum (restricted)
CJ Watson (restricted)
Earl Watson
Jannero Pargo
JJ Barea
Anthony Carter
Mario Chalmers (restricted)
Bobby Brown
Chris Duhon
Royal Ivey
Javaris Crittenton
Mike James

Not exactly an All-Star squad. Ridnour's probably the best offensive choice, and maybe Ray Felton the best defender. But there's nobody there where I look and think THAT's the guy. That's our point guard of the future.

So I think if the Lakers improve at point guard, it would have to be through trade - and that conflicts with the "keep the core together" idea.

So to be honest, I'll wager at least two of the three of Fisher, Farmar, and Brown will be manning the point for the Lakers next season. Maybe with one of the three dumped and replaced by some other name on that list (e.g. maybe Fisher and Farmar and Chalmers, or Fisher and Brown and Duhon).

Note that the Lakers could have had two more players under contract, so it's possible they'd keep all three of Fisher/Farmar/Brown and also sign one of those other guys to a partially guaranteed contract to give them a try out - or to light a fire under Farmar. Crittenton would probably fit that bill nicely.

So here's a "keep the core together" sort of lineup for next year:

C: Bynum, Jermaine O'Neal, MBenga
PF: Gasol, Odom, Powell
SF: Artest, Walton
SG: Kobe, Shannon Brown, Machine
PG: Fisher, Farmar, Crittenton

Looks mostly like this years squad. But if you win two championships in a row, you trust that those players are capable of winning a third.

Isn't Brandon Roy available?

Summer reload, part 2: Lakers pull a Lakers move and trade for a great player...

I think this is unlikely, both because I think the Lakers will win the championship and want to keep the team together, and also because teams don't like to help the champion get better. But...

There is one situation that has a tiny tiny tiny chance of happening under which I would consider trading Pau Gasol away: If both the Lakers and the Cavs didn't win a title this season, and if LeBron pushed for a trade to the Lakers.

Let's face it. There is a tiny chance that LeBron leaves Cleveland. It's slightly bigger if he believes that he can never win a championship there. He ain't going to New York, with worse teammates than he has in Cleveland. Chicago would be a possibility, with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah and a few other guys as initial teammates.

But the Lakers are also a tiny possibility. LeBron has said that he'd like to play in the triangle. And you can bet that he's aware of the haves and have nots among coaches. He knows that not every coach in the league is capable of leading a team to a title. Mike Brown's been very good on defense, but less than stellar as an offensive coach. If LeBron decided he could share the credit with Kobe, I'm sure Kobe would be happy to have him as a teammate.

And if LeBron tells his team - sign and trade me to the Lakers, or I go to Chicago/New York/whoever and you get nothing, then the Cavs would do it. And the Lakers would have to give up at least one star or several legitimate players to make the deal work. It's either Bynum or Pau plus either Odom or Artest - plus fillers on either side to balance salaries.

I know right now you're thinking Cleveland will NEVER trade LeBron. And I will remind you that Milwaukee would "never" trade Kareem, and Philadelphia would "never" trade Wilt and Orlando would "never" let the Lakers outbid them for Shaq. But all those superstars ended up with the Lakers because they wanted to play here and they thought they could win titles here. And not to mention that the Lakers would "never" trade Shaq, but they did, to Miami.

So there is a real (though very small) chance that the Lakers could acquire LeBron this summer.

Who would you be willing to give up to get him?

Pau + Artest?

Pau + Lamar?

Drew + Artest?

Drew + Lamar?

Pau, but not a second good player?

Might just be an insignificant stat, but, PHX lost its regular season series to OKC, 2-1. Hmmmm....

LTLF,

Nice posts, mussels from Brussels, too funny.

Your summer re-load was interesting.
I think maybe the key is 'if they win it all'.
If they do, why bother tinkering too much with a team with 3 straight finals appearances and 2 consecutive championships.

If the Suns somehow knock them out, or they lose in the finals, barring any major Laker injuries, that might change the thinking.
Then maybe it becomes more like, ok, what do we need to get back on top?

Is PJ more at risk if the Lakers get knocked out? I mean, does he get the blame instead of the players?

But who do you pick to trade for a major upgrade?
Kobe and Pau are keepers.
Ron because he is the only new piece this year?
LO because of consistency issues?
Bynum due to health issues?
Not much else has any serious trade value.

If they win it all probably just some cosmetic change as you stated.
If they don't (I know, blasphemy), I think, this is where the real debate come into play.

Summer reload part 3: another potential star trade

Again this assumes the unlikely situation where the Lakers don't win the championship and decide to make one or more trades to improve.

It's been discussed. According to the media, the teams even talked about it near the trade deadline (which could be true or could be bullstuff).

Bynum for Bosh.

I'd say it's 90% certain that Bosh won't be playing for Toronto next season. And you know damn well he'd love to join a contender like the Lakers. This is similar to the LeBron sign and trade situation, where if Bosh pushes for it, the team would probably give in rather than letting him walk away for nothing.

I think Bosh would be kind of a sideways move for the Lakers. He's not as big and strong and not as good a post defender or shot blocker as Bynum. But he's much more mobile. He's one of the better pick and roll defenders in the league.

On the plus side, Bosh doesn't get injured as much as Bynum. Will Bynum continue to be hobbled every year in the playoffs when they need him most? Also Bosh has more range than Bynum, his range is similar to Gasol's.

On the negative side, Bosh will make more than Bynum. So now the 3rd biggest contract on the Lakers becomes even bigger and makes signing other players to fill out the team even harder.

To be honest, I think the only way a Bynum-for-Bosh trade would be a win for the Lakers is if Bynum does continue to be hampered by injuries for his whole career. If that's the case, then the better scoring and rebounding by Bosh will make up for the less post strength. Remember, Pau guarded Dwight Howard most of the time in last year's finals, not Bynum.

But if I could see into the future that Bynum would be healthy for 82 games plus however many playoff games they play for the next 3 seasons, then I'd keep Bynum over Bosh.

puddle,

>>>The first and most important key is Jason Richardson.

Gospel truth. Nash and Amare are going to score and get some assists/rebounds/blocks/whatever. But when Richardson kicks in with 20 points, most of it on 3's, that takes them to another level. He stretches the floor with his 3-point shooting and when he's shooting well, he plays harder on defense and becomes a pretty good wing defender.

ESPN would have us all worried about Channing Frye or Goran Dragic or Jared Dudley, but those guys are incidental. Them succeeding or failing will be the difference between a 5 point Laker win or a 20 point Laker win. But if Richardson is shooting the lights out, the Lakers are in danger of losing the game.

LTLF

read above about JR's stats against Kobe

>>>Isn't Brandon Roy available?

Nope. He signed an extension with Portland last August.

>>>Isn't Brandon Roy available?

Nope. He signed an extension with Portland last August.

>>>I think maybe the key is 'if they win it all'.
>>>If they do, why bother tinkering too much with a team with 3 straight finals
>>>appearances and 2 consecutive championships.

Exactly, in fact, I was thinking that a title this year might earn Farmar &/or Brown contracts for several years that some bloggers here will equate to Luke's contract (TOO MANY YEARS! WHY DID THEY EVEN RE-SIGN THAT BUM).

But like you said, if the team is capable of winning it all two years in a row, then you don't want to mess with it.

LTLF…I thought your Summer Reload posts were right on. Excellent analysis, especially regarding the issues with the point guard position. I would still like to see the Lakers look on their current roster to solve the point guard issue, whether it is Fish, Farmar, and Brown again or some combo that involves Kobe and/or Lamar basically taking on a big share of the point guard duties depending on the matchups. Win or lose, I think we will invest some money on either the MLE or a couple of draft picks. I don’t see us leaving 2 roster spots open all year like this year. We need to take a shot on a couple of rookies to see if we can find a Mathews or Dragic. Anyway, great job, LTLF.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TOM

Summer reload part 4: worst case scenario

So what's the worst situation that could come up this summer?

First, the unlikely scenario where the Lakers don't win the championship starts it off. Second, there is no sign and trade for LeBron or Bosh. So it leaves the Lakers to try to cook up trades &/or signings to upgrade the roster for another run next season.

In my view, if that happens, you still aren't blowing up the roster. Kobe & Pau still have several good years together, and you couldn't possibly improve the team trading off one of them (unless LeBron is coming back in the deal, for example). So it starts with keeping Kobe and Pau.

Artest has proven to be very valuable on defense, if a little inconsistent on offense. And his salary is low for his level of performance. So unless there's a team out there that wants to trade the Lakers a top-10 point guard and really wants Artest, then he's a keeper as well.

So that really only leaves Bynum and Odom as prime trade bait. Yes, Sasha is an expiring contract, so you might be able to finagle a slightly better player with more years on their contract if a team is looking to clear cap space for summer of 11. But Bynum and Odom are both skilled enough that they have legitimate trade value - teams would trade for them for their skill, despite their large contract.

And note that you'd probably only want to trade one of the two. Reducing the front court to Gasol+Odom or Bynum+Gasol is okay, but sending off both would be foolish, unless you get a star (like Bosh) back in the deal.

So what could you trade Odom or Bynum for that would improve the team?

That's the hard question.

They'd still have Pau, Kobe, Artest, and whichever one wasn't traded, so they'd have 4 legit starters plus a marginal starter in Fish at PG.

With either Bynum or Odom leaving, the Lakers would have to get at least one big to replace them, either through the trade or through free agency (which means they'd have to be willing to sign for MLE or less).

But the Lakers greatest need is clearly at PG. Fisher is really coming through right now, but his age was showing for most of the season, and I'd only give him another season or two until he's completely done.

So it appears to me that if this team fails to repeat or even come close, then the big rebuilding questions become this:

What's the best point guard we can get in a trade for either Andrew Bynum or Lamar Odom?

and

Who's a quality big man who might consider coming to the Lakers for MLE or less this summer?

I'll address those questions in separate posts.

Final shot at Utah fans:

FISHER LIED, he said Utah will be tough to beat.

Liar!

Why does anyone even post a LeBron to Lakers scenario? There's no way. When have you seen the two best players in the league together? Never. Will never happen. No way is LeBron going to contest with all the criticisms of not being able to build a team around him, not at this age. Plus, the salaries of him and Bryant leave about 15mil left for the other 11 players. And then, how do he and Kobe play together? I mean, there's a reason that - in their prime - you never saw Magic and Bird, or Malone and Barkley, or Jordan and Drexler, or Hakeem and Kareem play together.

Let's ask some pertinent questions... like, who the (bleep) scheduled the next round an entire week away????

LTLF taking the LakerTom approach: 4 posts of INTRO to get to his real point: signing Farmy

let me ask U? if Farmy is like 2 Mil now. he will ask for like 4. with Luxury taxes that 8. 8 mil for Farmar? i will let U to LOL.

there r many players or rookies who can do the same . or at LEAST UNDERSTAND their ROLE on a team. for 1 mil.

the big problem is: Mich Kupcake has no flair of finding players. only STIFFS.

the so called PG position in the TRI is the easiest to learn. bring up the ball. make a pass left or right. run to the opposite side to be ready for a shot. MAKE the shot. PG is not as difficult as 2 or 3. any rookie can learn it fast. the problem with Smush, Farmy, UPS is that they always wanted to shine as players. they were not disciplined in the system. UN-DISCIPLINE should be rewarded with millions? i mean lots of them?

Fisher, as an ANTI- BB player understood that his limited physical and BB skills r PERFECT for the scenario. especially when he can ONLY hit the outside shot. not the PUJIT. not the LAYUPS. not FAST BREAKS.

and all of them were BAD and LAZY defenders. i prefer DR Buss losing that money in poker tournaments. at least HE can HAVE some fun. watching this BUNCH is no FUN at all.

but if U want to have FUN, watch maybe Rondo? at a website near U.

ouchhhhhhh -

I'm glad to hear Richardson has had struggles against Kobe, but that doesn't change the fact that he's key to them winning. And it also doesn't guarantee that he'll continue struggling against Kobe.

My guess is the Lakers already realize Richardson's importance and is the reason why he has been neutralized to this point. As long as they continue to keep him in check, I really like their chances in this series. But that's a big if. He's been on FIRE in these playoffs.

LTLF -

I've posted it before and I'll post it again: I love CJ Watson. I think he's the perfect Triangle PG. I'd like to see the Lakers resign Fisher for 2 years/$5 million, let go of Farmar (which hurts me to say... I was always a believer in his abilities), and sign Watson with part of the MLE, say for 4 years/$17 million.

Even if the Lakers win it all this year, I doubt they stand pat. I think they know they can't get by with relying on Fisher to be the starting PG for 30 minutes, 82 games a year.

Summer Reload, Part 5: Point Guards

Who's the best point guard the Lakers could get for Andrew Bynum?

If the Lakers decide to retool and decide that they need to address the PG situation this summer, then Bynum and Odom are the most likely trade pieces to be dangled. They're talented enough to bring back a quality player in return, but not good enough that they're irreplaceable.

Let's start with Bynum. The injuries will be a concern for any potential trade partner, but Andrew at his best is a top-5 center in the NBA. Who would want him? Any team not named Orlando, Milwaukee, or New Jersey. I'm pretty sure those teams are okay sticking with Howard, Bogut, and Brook Lopez. Chicago (Noah) and Portland (Oden) also might not be interested, but I'm not as certain about them.

Top quality centers are more rare than top quality point guards, but even so, most point guards run their teams, so almost no team is just going to give away their starting PG for a C, even one as good as Bynum.

Fortunately, there's a chance that one of the top PGs in the league will be available this summer. Both New Orleans and Utah have lottery picks. If one of them wins, then they would likely choose John Wall - a PG who is supposed to be the biggest lock as a superstar since LeBron.

Since Utah and New Orleans are both height-challenged, and both are small markets who could use some salary savings, they might consider trading their star PG and keeping the rookie.

Utah has lost to the Lakers THREE STRAIGHT SEASONS, and the reason is clear: height. If they had John Wall coming in and could give up Deron Williams to get Andrew Bynum, then they might actually go for it. It's also possible they could keep Williams and trade Wall for some other big to improve their height. But Bynum is right now what Deron Williams was last season - nearly an All-Star. I doubt there's another near All-Star center they could get for Williams. It's a bit of a stretch, but definitely possible.

New Orleans has been a financial disaster the last couple of seasons. They got close to the top of the West, but their depth wasn't great enough, and their center (Tyson Chandler) wasn't talented enough. They traded for a slightly better center (Emeka Okafor), but it didn't really get them any better and his contract goes on for 5 more years. They're STILL under contract for 73 million in salary next season for a team that hasn't won anything. They're losing money hand over fist.

And what's more, New Orleans has another talented young point guard in Darren Collison, who really shined while Chris Paul was out. So they could draft John Wall and have Collison as insurance as a very good pg even if Wall didn't turn out to be the great PG every one expects him to be.

Chris Paul for Andrew Bynum would work as a straight up trade. New Orleans might want the Lakers to take James Posey's remaining 3 years off their hands for Sasha Vujacic's 1 more year in the deal, but that's a sideways deal for the Lakers so it wouldn't be too bad.

Another potential deal, though not quite as appealing, would be Bynum for Emeka Okafor and either Darren Collison or the rights to John Wall. New Orleans keeps the best (or second best) PG in the league and gets a big upgrade at the C position in exchange for one of their many PGs. That's a bit less likely though, considering the Hornets lack of depth, giving up 2 for 1 would probably be less desireable.

Last but not least, what if New Orleans decides to completely blow the team up to rebuild ala Portland/Oklahoma City/Memphis. Then they might want to ship off BOTH Chris Paul and Emeka Okafor's long contracts, and keep both young PGs, and add a more reasonably priced young center in Bynum, plus other shorter contracts or young players with potential from the Lakers. Try this deal on for size:

Lakers trade Bynum, Vujacic, and Shannon Brown on a 3 years at 5-million per with a team option on the 2nd year. Shannon would make more than he'd likely make anywhere else for at least one year. NO would get to test drive two young players for a year and then be out of their contracts or re-sign them if they worked out. They'd have a young core of Wall, Collison, and Bynum plus David West on a reasonable deal for a couple more years and Julian Wright on his rookie contract for a couple more years. That trade might reduce their talent at PG (yet to be seen what Wall can do), but it would dramatically improve their quality at C, and give them a bit more depth in young reasonably priced players.

Sounds a bit extreme, but never forget the Kwame for Gasol trade.

That sort of trade would leave the Lakers with:

C/PF rotation: Gasol, Odom, Okafor

SF: Artest, Walton

SG: Kobe, ?

PG: Chris Paul, Fisher (, Farmar?)

And they'd have the MLE and a veteran's minimum to spend on free agents.

What do you think?

Final shot at Utah fans:

FISHER LIED, he said Utah will be tough to beat.

Liar!

Posted by: mti312 | May 11, 2010 at 04:32 PM
--
While you're at it--- the FISHER LIED girls are married to the same husband; after all, it's Utah.

LongTimeLakerFan,

Don't you think it's premature to talk about summer reload?

Would you really get rid of Farmar or Shannon if they're
instrumental is us winning a ring this year?

LTLF -

I don't think we can speculate on trades until draft positions are clearer. I do think the Hornets could be a potential draft partner with the Lakers, but I think they would want to shore up their wing position, which is why I think there would need to be a 3rd team involved.

I personally think the Lakers rather enjoy their size advantage over every team, and would be loathe to give up Bynum or Odom for a PG. For Chris Paul or Deron Williams, sure, but short of that, I'm not sure I see it happening, unless they got size back in return.

LTLF:
As fun as it would be to make a major deal. I think the Lakers will make a very minor move. They will lose either Farmar or Brown (probably Farmar) and sign someone like Chris Duhon, Earl Watson or Steve Blake with part of the MLE. I'd love them to get someone like Mike Miller but his price will be too steep. If they can keep Mbenga and Powell for the vet minimum, I'd say do it.

Aloha Long time,

To be able to answer your question on who to trade and for whom, I think we need to know what Phil is going to do. And if and when Phil leaves will we replace him with a triangle coach like say, Brian Shaw.

If we stay a triangle team we really do not need a huge upgrade at PG. There is a reason triangle teams have never invested large dollars at the point. For what they are asked to do a top point guard would be overkill. I would like to try and sign Raymond Felton. In any other economy he would more then a MLE player but in this economy, you never know.

Mh

Hey guys we got a new post up

MM

I'd never trade Pau for Lebron.

There are 3 things that are essential and significant to this series, and the Lakers have all 3. Those 3 things should negate any advantage the Suns may have. The most important thing, is that the Lakers already faced the Thunder. The Suns are Thunder-lite. They're not nearly as athletic as the Thunder. The Thunder's biggest albatross was inexperience.

They've got speed, rebounding, shot blocking, breakneck runouts, perimeter shooting, and lightning quick defense and switching on defense. They make the Suns look old and slow. The Lakers have length, and the Lakers will use that to SLOOOOOW the game down to a crawl. When that happens, the Suns play halfcourt also and have to fight through bigs. Steve Nash is not Russell Westbrook. As good as Nash is, he's not above the rim like Westbrook or as athletic. And the other thing is Kobe Bryant. Well, there's Gasol too, but Kobe himself makes the Suns cringe.

Gasol is a PG in PF's body. The only thing he doesn't do is bring the ball up the floor every possession. I watched the Spurs series, and their rebounding was weak beyond description. With the Lakers, you have Gasol, Bynum and Odom capable of double digit rebounding as they've already done. Put that in the Suns series, and their possessions are reduced. So Dudley probably won't be getting as many as he did against the Spurs.

Goran Dracic won't go nuts shooting against the Lakers, probably because Kobe might be guarding him. Kobe will guard whomever is the most likely to be the high scorer. Ask Westbrook just how effective Kobe is on D. Also look at how many all defensive team awards Kobe has won. Basically, and according to Jalen Rose and Kenny Smith, the only thing that the Suns can possibly utilize to thwart the Lakers is Channing Frye. Other than that, they don't have what it takes to take the Lakers.

The Lakers have Artest who quite frankly is doing a masterful job in his brand of defense. And the only thing the experts and the fans can pin on him is inconsistent 3 point shooting. That doesn't bode well for people trying to score on him.

Lakers need a PG, thats obvious. its the only missing piece in its near perfect mechanism. though having Cris Paul would be awesome the chances of getting him are very narrow and anyway lakers would have to give away Bynum so they would need a new C just the same. the kind of PG lakers need is a playmaker, not a scorer. they have already enough scorers and they just need a guy who makes the team run at full gear, a guy who dominates the tempo of the game. that guy is playing in Europe and his name is Ricky Rubio.

pros: all of them. hes 19, cheap (would get a rookie salary) TALENTED and mature like any elite pg, and is a winner. hes proven himself already and makes all his teammates better. His ceiling is the sky and also by getting him, Lakers would get a HUGE marketing item and would smack all the other teams's face. I think that it would take just to get rid of Shanon and LO to get Rubio from Minney and that, ladies and gents, would be the second big steal after the Pau trade. In fact Rubio is a better player than Gasol was when he joined the nba. Considering LA cannot get true elite PG without trading their current stars, this is the better possible trade out there. and moreover, nobody would expect it so it would be a hit

cons: Minney is following up on Rubio and they are very impressed by his performance this year. they might not be as stupid as Grizzlies were 2 years ago. Besides, Barcelona have to be convinced on letting him go next summer instead of 2011, as signed. but that can be discussed considering Rubio will make them win everything this season.

any thoughts?

>>>Why does anyone even post a LeBron to Lakers scenario? There's no way.


If there had been blogs back then, people would have said the same thing about a Wilt to the Lakers, a Kareem to the Lakers, or a Shaq to the Lakers scenario. Just couldn't happen... until it did.

ouuuucchhhhhhh,

>>>4 posts of INTRO to get to his real point: signing Farmy

But only under the condition that the Lakers win the championship this season. You seem to be neglecting that point.

If the Lakers don't get a title this year, then I'll bet at least one and maybe two of their current players who play PG (Farmar, Fisher, Brown) are gone.

>>>let me ask U? if Farmy is like 2 Mil now. he will ask for like 4. with Luxury
>>>taxes that 8. 8 mil for Farmar? i will let U to LOL.

Someone pointed out that if Farmar doesn't play any better from now to the end of the season, then nobody may offer him more than his qualifying offer. So the Lakers would have to decide whether they could get anyone better for 3 million for 1 year.

>>>Mich Kupcake has no flair of finding players. only STIFFS

Yeah. Stiffs like Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, Trevor Ariza, Ron Artest, and Shannon Brown.

Mitch has actually done pretty well by the team in terms of free agents, trades, and even the draft.

>>>ut if U want to have FUN, watch maybe Rondo? at a website near U

So what? You think the Celtics are going to trade Rondo to the Lakers for Luke?

Yes, I'd love for the Lakers to have someone as good as Rondo. But my posts are grounded in some tiny bit of reality. In the real world, Boston doesn't give Rondo to the Lakers unless maybe they get Pau back.

In the real world, there just aren't a lot of options for the Lakers to improve the PG position. I'm clutching at straws to wish that Utah or New Orleans would go with John Wall and give up a top flight point guard, but at least that scenario is minutely possible. There is no realistic scenario in which the Lakers acquire Rondo this summer.

puddle,

>>>I've posted it before and I'll post it again: I love CJ Watson.

Well, you may get your wish. He is a free agent, and with their glut of PGs, I doubt Golden State will aggressively pursue keeping him.

But I would caution you to beware what you wish for, lest you should get it. Watson shot 31% on his 3-pointers this season, which is a big step down even from the weak 33% (Brown), 35% (Fisher), and 38% (Farmar) 3-point shooting by this year's trio of PGs. And hitting the 3 is critical for PGs in the triangle, to provide spacing.

>>>I think he's the perfect Triangle PG.

Okay. Why? What qualities would make him the perfect Triangle PG?

>>>I'd like to see the Lakers resign Fisher for 2 years/$5 million,

Okay, I could go with that if DFish will. I think that's a fair number for what he'll be able to produce.

>>>let go of Farmar (which hurts me to say... I was always a believer in his
>>>abilities),

I'm not opposed to that. I don't think the Lakers have really given him a fair chance to try being a starter (it's a little like letting someone dangle their feet in the pool a few times and then saying they'll never be a swimmer), but I haven't been blown away by his play in a backup role for the Lakers - he runs hot and cold.

>>>and sign Watson with part of the MLE, say for 4 years/$17 million.

Yipes! I wouldn't offer that much for Watson. He hasn't shown himself to be worth that much, in my view. If they could get him for something like what Shannon's currently being paid, that might be more realistic.

I should also point out that he's only 6'2", and Phil tends to prefer tall PGs.

Hobbitmage,

>>>Don't you think it's premature to talk about summer reload?

Heck no. If the next game were 2 days away or something, then I'd focus on Phoenix. But with this big layoff, I wanted to preview the inevitable.

>>>Would you really get rid of Farmar or Shannon if they're
>>>instrumental is us winning a ring this year?

Nope. If you read the post about what happens if they win a title, then you'd know my conclusion was that they'd probably keep basically everybody, though they might add a free agent or two. Most of my scenarios where they dump or trade any of the current players happen only if they lose, and especially if they lose before the finals.

I should point out that the decision may be taken out of the Lakers hands. Shannon could opt out of his contract and sign with any team he likes. What if he's secretly tired of backing up Kobe and Fish and some team tells him they'll let him start? Farmar's a restricted free agent, but if some team offered him stoopid money, I doubt the Lakers would match.

My ideal situation is that the Lakers win the title, bring back everyone and win it again nest season. But I'm also trying to speculate about what could happen if that doesn't come to pass.

>>>They will lose either Farmar or Brown (probably Farmar) and sign someone
>>>like Chris Duhon, Earl Watson or Steve Blake with part of the MLE.

Actually, that was part of my most likely scenario. These break up the core to upgrade the PG position are definitely less likely.

Mr_Atreides,

Okay, let's run with that - Odom and Brown for the rights to Ricky Rubio. I'd actually love to acquire Rubio. I thought he played great in the Olympics. Fast hands, good speed, good defender, great passer, just an okay shooter.

Note that until they sign him, Rubio doesn't have a dollar value in a trade, and even after they sign him it's only a couple million. So the Lakers would have to take someone back in the deal as well to match Lamar's 8.2 million. I guarantee they won't throw Al Jefferson, Kevin Love, Corey Brewer or Jonny Flynn into that deal. Also, probably not Ryan Hollins, as they're a bit height challenged themselves.

Actually, I just noticed that it doesn't matter. Minne is under the salary cap this summer, so if they were willing to trade Rubio's rights straight up for Odom and Brown, they could.

I'm a little leery of that trade, as it weakens the Lakers front court rotation. But it sure would fix some of their luxury tax problems - they'd be dumping off Lamar's 8+ million a year for a Rubio rookie contract, which is fixed at a fairly low dollar value.

If the Lakers could get a replacement big man for MLE money (I know they wouldn't be as flexible as Lamar, but they'd need someone skilled and for not too much money), then a Lamar for Rubio deal might work.

So who's a big man who could be had for MLE money? I think we can assume that Bosh, Amare, Boozer, David Lee, Luis Scola, and probably Tyrus Thomas are out. I think all of those guys will get at least MLE level money and Scola and Thomas are restricted free agents, so their teams could match a Laker offer.

What about Brendan Haywood? 7 footer. Not as flexible as Odom, but definitely some skills as a rebounder and shot blocker. Fresh off being embarassed in the first round, and played for a crappy team in the Wizards for several years. Might be willing to take less than Mark Cuban would pay him to join a potential champion.

If LeBron leaves Cleveland, do you think Shaq would sign for MLE to get another ring in LA? Or if LeBron leaves Cleveland, what about Zydrunas Ilgauskas?

Would Miami let Udonis Haslem walk? How about Jermaine O'neal?

How about Travis Outlaw? Unrestricted FA from the Clips.

Al Harrington is probably expecting too big a payday

Channing Frye could opt out of his 2.1 million to try to get a bigger payday? Anyone want a 3-point shooting, weak defending PF/C? If not Frye, then Matt Bonner is unrestricted - same situation.

Maybe Hakim Warrick?

I could personally be happy (sorry Lamar) with a lineup of

C: Bynum, Brendan Haywood
PF: Pau, Powell
SF: Artest, Luke
SG: Kobe, Sasha
PG: Ricky Rubio, Fisher/whoever

Long Time Laker Fan there is no way I give up Pau so if my choices are Drew and Artest or Drew and Odom, it's Drew and Odom. Artest is a better defender and doesn't need to score. I hate giving up Drew but to get something you have to give something. Odom is very inconsistent. He does fit well on the 2nd team but the need for strong play on the 2nd team diminishes greatly with the addition of Lebron. It takes the offensive load off of Kobe and he can still be the closer that he always has been. One of them can always be on the floor to keep the flow going. What are the odds of both of them having a bad night. It is only a question of ego and I think Lebron would allow Kobe to be the visible man. Just one man's opinion

I have been a Laker fan, since Jerry West was a rookie, and I've seen many players come and go, The Lakers should defeat the Suns with only minor problems. First off , If we were to trade or upgrade the team, I would never want Lebron James, he doesn't know how to lose, he is selfish and thinks he's the best, just watch his antics at games, jumping around like a little kid. If we needed to make a trade, well , lets make an attempt to trade Lamar for Chris Bosh, as I understand Phil likes him anyway. I really don't want to do it, but we could trade Bynum to the Jazz for Boozer and Williams, that will make the hurt, much softer.

Laker fan for 50 years and counting.

*
BACK TO BACK PAYBACK - BANDWAGON
*
(01) YELLOW FEVER - OWNER - we could be in for a real treat.. win this and we could have
(02) TIM-4-SHOW - DRIVER - Put me on that BACK2BACK PAYBACK bandwagon. Good to know that at least some of the team will use the past as motivation to the future.
(03) EDWIN GUECO - JUDGE - Indeed, this is a serious PAYBACK. Lakers must win this series in memory of the faithful scrubs who are still playing for the organization. This is their chance for redemption too!
(04) # 4
(05) LAKERINBC - RIDING SHOTGUN - Put me on any Payback bandwagons too please. Back2Back Payback - that's genius!
(06)MARCB - SECURITY - Go Lakers! One-Two-Three! Dominate!!!!
(07) JUSTANOTHERMAMBA - Payback like revenge is best served cold
(08) MAMBA24 - Never, Ever, Ever Forget! Payback is a B*
(09) LAKERLADY - REFEREE - They'll be rested and ready to take the Suns down...SUNDOWN!!!
(10)VMAN - ARe we too complacent? ARe we taking the Suns too lightly, spending the day talking about the Bron's no show?
WE got this. We know it, the Suns know it. (11) STAPLES24 - Lakerfans! Let's help the C's pour the CEMENT on Lebron James!!! Laker Celtics Finals 4-0!!! Lakers Champions!
(12)THE INFAMOUS EL GUAPO - So again I ask, Where the F! is this "Physical Suns" Team I keep hearing about.
(13) LAL_FAN - Kobe still remembers humiliating losses in 2006 and 2007. The revenge is sweet
(14) D(erek)J(eter) |
(15) JON K - I still remember those Smush/Kwame series against the Suns. Those losses hurt. Time to lay down a good old fashioned beatdown against the Suns.
(16) MTI312 - I also believe if there is one team the Lakers want to blow away in the West are the Phoenix Suns. They will prove it again beginning Monday.
(17) WALLACE - DIRECTOR WCF WIN # 3 - Yes, I'm in the B2B bandwagon. B2B is just a beginning! it hurt when we lost to them after 3-1 lead in 2007. The Suns are more versatile this year than the 2007 team except for the lock down defensive guard (No Raja Bell) but I do think our team is much better too (Except for the bench
(18) EASTCOASTJESSIE - DIRECTOR WCF WIN# 4 - Mamba, I want nothing more than to be able to crush the Celtics in a finals series so you know I'm on the B2B bandwagon.
19) LAKERTOM - The secret to offense is penetration. The secret to defense is anticipation.
The secret to stopping Steve Nash is force him to go left because of his eye
(20) OUCHHH - Kobe will be very, very, very angry. remember. Raja clothesline, Barbosa breaking his tooth if you did not know what Kobe's Wrath means, this series will become a new entry in the Dictionary. the Suns already have Los Butterflies
(21) RAGE777 - The Suns will always lose when Steve has to be the scorer. He is a great shooter, but he will not kill you by shooting. How many 30 point games can you remember in Steve's career? Stop Amare and the reserves and the Lakers advance easily.
(22)

Man people are overrating this series. Lakers in 5 and if we win game 3 were going for another sweep. We owned this team in the regular season. The only game we lost was on a back to back with Artest out. The refs cant even keep these bums in the series lets go Lakersss


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