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Preseason question of the day: How will Luke Walton's back hold up this season?

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The mere mention of his name creates hysteria around this corner of the blogosphere. His injury history and three-year, $16-million contract draw sarcastic remarks. His passing ability, strong understanding of the triangle offense and team-first mentality go unappreciated. And the thought that this would serve as a preseason question of the day may create an uprising among the L.A. Times Lakers blog masses.

But there's no way around it. How Luke Walton's back holds up this season is one of the most important preseason questions for the Lakers. It'll dictate whether he'll be able to bounce back from a 2009-2010 season he described as "frustrating" because a pinched nerve in his lower back limited him to only 29 games. Walton's health will strongly influence how Phil Jackson will use his rotations, and determine Walton's future with the team.

The answer to this question won't make or break the Lakers' season, but it'll likely affect a bunch of moving parts. That's why it's no coincidence that General Manager Mitch Kupchak got West Virginia forward Devin Ebanks with the 43rd pick of the NBA Draft and acquired free agent Matt Barnes. If Walton experiences more back problems this season, the Lakers want to b able to absorb his absence.

"With Luke's back, we're not sure what the future holds for him," Kupchak told reporters after the NBA Draft. "He struggled this year and, to his credit, came back and was available during the playoffs. But he really struggled. He's going to devote the summer to rehabilitation. But if Luke can't really make a contribution next year, we felt we really had to get somebody who could back him up."

Walton recently told Lakers.com's Mike Trudell that he spent a good portion of the offseason visiting with Lakers strength coach Chip Schaefer, a back specialist, a Pilates teacher and a yoga instructor, all in the hope that his back wouldn't require surgery and that he'd feel as strong as possible heading into training camp.

"My back feels great right now," Walton said. "It’s a lot stronger. I’m feeling confident in it and am excited to test it out. That being said, at the same time I’m a little nervous, just because I know how much of a grind the season and training camp can be. I dedicated the whole summer to making it strong enough to last, and that’s what I’m hoping for. If it doesn’t, I’m in a pretty bad spot."

It would also cause a lot of shuffling for the Lakers, likely giving Barnes and Ebanks more playing time. The team would be without a fluid passer -- though Steve Blake could fill that role once he nails down the triangle offense -- and would lose one of its experts in running the offense at a time the newcomers need to quickly learn the system.

Again, this won't make or break the Lakers' chances of three-peating, but that could be a whole lot easier if Walton's back holds up.

We'll find out soon enough.

-- Mark Medina
Twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Luke Walton. Credit: Lenny Ignelzi / Associated Press

 
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I think Luke will address his situation and how he is contributing to the team, himself...this on the same pretense he gave up his starting role to Ariza, so he can anchor the second unit, and what is best for the team...

As much as I'd like to see Luke come back strong and help the team with his veteran smarts while also helping to justify his bloated contract, I think I'd rather see Barnes and Ebanks splitting time backing up Ron Artest. How about a role for Luke as part of Phil's coaching staff?

I like Luke, but don't see his back holding up. Blame it on his genes. Even if he does play, he'll always be one twist or turn away from injury.

MM

I love Luke Walton. "Unappreciated" is the biggest understatement of the year when it comes to Lakers fans attitudes toward him. I agree with everything you say. In his 7 years with the team, he has been to the NBA Finals 4 times. Can any other role players say that? I know his contributions have ranged from miniscule to moderate, but I have always felt comfortable with Luke on the floor.

I don't think he will make it through the season and I further believe that he will retire during the season. He is making a last ditch effort this summer in my opinion. I think he knows it and the Lakers know it.

With Artest, Barnes and EBanks on the roster, Luke should do the Lakers a favor and simply retire. He's already fleeced the Lakers for every undeserving penny. If not for Luke's contract, the Lakers could have possibly signed both Artest and Ariza last summer. Blake's playmaking and outside shooting, along with Barne's toughness is exactly what the second unit needs. Luke was deserving of minutes when the team was comprised of Kwame, Cook, Smush, Divac and Shammond, but this is a different team that has no need for an oft injured defensive liability who cannot make a wide open shot to save his life.

By the way Mark, Luke's contract was more than 3 years $16 mil. I believe it was around $30 mil and 6 years.

Luke is the new Ammo. Will ride the short end of the pine cheering the other guys on. Might get playing time with 3 minutes left in a 25 point blowout against the Clips or the Suns.

And this wasn't on the poll for most divisive topics?


Luke has not looked himself for longer than a year. Backs are tricky. I am not an optimist on Luke's future. For his sake I hope he can revive his career. Plus he is a piece Phil likes and knows how to use.


If he is healthy, it sure creates a logjam. I want to see what Ebanks can do.

consider retirement and save the Lakers tons of dough that is going into luxury cap territory?

Nah, didn't think so lol.

KB Blitz

1) Gasol in my opinion not a Hall of Famer. Does he have a chance yes but Pippen was a shoe in for the HOF while Gasol hasn't done enough of what Pip did in his NBA career (since HOF doesn't count international accolades)

Retire his jersey? Maybe but I'd rather see Michael Cooper's and/or Byron Scott's jersey retired first.

2) Well those snoozer is one of the reasons why Kobe is right behind MJ in total defensive team awards AWARDED by coaches not the Media (that's the DPOY). As much as I respect your opinion you are also the one telling me to listen to the coaches more and those coaches have not even gave a vote for Andrew Bynum says something yet gives votes to Fisher and even Odom.

Say what you want but I'll leave it up for the voters to decide who really is the best in rated defense. Reason why Kobe has 8 First Teams right behind Jordan and Payton.

3) Why am I comparing Gasol vs Bynum? Simple since people always brings up Bynum-Gasol-Odom they always have to belittle Gasol and/or Odom to bring up Bynum. So it's only fair.
=====

1) The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame celebrates the game of basketball and is not limited to the NBA. Pau Gasol has been the anchor for Spain for years and is a champion and MVP on the world stage as well as being a two time champion with the Lakers. I think he already has the credentials to enter the Hall of Fame and his career is far from over. When you look at players like "Dollar" Bill Bradley, who was inducted for his college accomplishments as well as his accomplishments with the Knicks, I think you'll agree that Pau compares favorably in terms of his body of work. If he's inducted, #16 automatically goes up to the rafters at Staples Center.

2) As far as the coaches voting for the all-defense team and all that other stuff, if you want to use that as support for your position on Bynum, I respect that. That's what a good advocate does. To me the ultimate award is the Larry O'Brien trophy. To hoist that award, it is absolutely essential to be strong in the paint at both ends of the floor. Without, Bynum, we would soften up. With him, shots are altered and there is a reluctancy to penetrate.

3) It's not necessary to pit our bigs against each other. They are a 3 headed monster who compliment each other; the best 4-5 rotation in the game. In fact, I think what truly is underrated from an historical standpoint is how good this 4-5 rotation compares to other 4-5 rotations in NBA history. Gasol and Odom had instant chemistry when Pau joined the Lakers. In fact, the chemistry that Gasol shares with Lamar is something that Kobe has NEVER shared with Lamar. They are a beautiful, fluid 2 man game to watch, especially for players their size. Pau and Bynum are still developing their chemistry and when Pau's mid range game is on, they are almost impossible to stop. Bynum and Lamar play off each other well, although not as well as Gasol and Odom IMO. To me, Gasol's the glue among those three, but I don't have to talk him up at anyone's expense. I thought that was common knowledge among Lakers fans.

When Luke is healthy, he really anchors the second unit with smart decision-making and a rock solid understanding of how the triangle functions. I'm pro-Luke. But, hey, I'm "pro" every single member of the Lakers squad.

And if you're in the mood for a great Luke memory, try this one:

http://youtu.be/k051-j3BSiY

It's one of my favorites.

Go Lake Show!

Mark Cuban's ummm.....optimistic comments from Rotoworld:

"Mark Cuban didn't mince any words in a recent interview when asked if he thought the Mavericks could beat the Lakers in the West this year.
"Hell yes," he said. "That's it. Hell yes. We've got the size now. We've got the depth. We've got a lot more depth than the Lakers. It's not even close there."

Saying he should retire is tough. That's like walking away from being part of history, because of the chances of the Lakers dominating over the next 4 years, that would be championships that he would be turning down. I give him due credit that he is working hard to resurrect his career. Granted, for such pedigree, and college experience and patience given toward him during his career, he is one player that makes LO look like the rock of Gibraltar, while Luke at times as we have seen is unable to put in a 3 foot shot. I think the fact that he is well liked by the other players, the coaching staff, and even in a way by management speaks for his character. I probably have in the past suggested he retire, however, after seeing the effort he is putting in, I will recant all thoughts along those lines. I think that whether he retires this season or whenever, he is guaranteed a job in coaching (starting as asst.) or broadcasting, and as we have seen, that can lead back to coaching. I have mixed feelings on him, however I wish he comes out of this back episode (I have back issues myself, and I know that for many people, the back issues never really go away) and is able to play, perhaps adjusting his game a bit. Fortunately, Kupchak made some great moves, to solidify the position, and remember, we always have Kobe and LO as other players who can and have played the 3 position. I'm stumped, let the season begin and only then can we see how Luke is....

"We've got a lot more depth than the Lakers" - did Cuban really say that?
Blake, Brown, Barnes, Odom & Ratliff > Barea, Terry, Stevenson, Marion & Haywood.
Speaking of "not even close", let's compare starting units;
Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol & Bynum >> Kidd, Beaubois, Butler, Nowitzki & Chandler.

Laker "Truth" ,

See you're still posting "fair and balanced" comments about Luke.

>>>With Artest, Barnes and EBanks on the roster, Luke should do the Lakers
>>>a favor and simply retire. He's already fleeced the Lakers for every
>>>undeserving penny.

Luke actually contributed a lot to the 2008-09 championship team. He started the season injured and not playing much, took over starting from Radmanovic and kick-started the starting 5 for awhile, gave up his starting role and was a stabilizing force on the 2nd team. In 2009-10, he was injured all season and sucked, no doubt about it. But if Luke could stay healthy, he could still contribute things that neither Barnes nor Ebank is capable of. Having him healthy would give Phil the OPTION of bringing in the better defender (Barnes), or the better offensive player (Luke), depending on what is needed in a game.

>>>If not for Luke's contract, the Lakers could have possibly signed both
>>>Artest and Ariza last summer.

Revisionist history. You could have been born Jerry Buss' son as well, but you weren't, and the Lakers didn't, and I'm not convinced they WOULD have done that even if they had a chance. More likely, they would have just signed someone cheaper and not paid as much luxury tax.

>>>Blake's playmaking and outside shooting, along with Barne's toughness is
>>>exactly what the second unit needs.

Yeah, because having only ONE good passer on the floor for the second unit is a really really good idea.

>>> Luke was deserving of minutes when the team was comprised of Kwame,
>>>Cook, Smush, Divac and Shammond,

Actually, he was deserving of STARTING with that team, and he did.

>>> but this is a different team that has no need for an oft injured defensive
>>>liability who cannot make a wide open shot to save his life.

Which shows that you are spewing vile from your biased opinion about Luke, rather than fact.

In the 2009 playoffs, when he was healthy, Luke's defense was solid. Not as flashy as Ariza, but then he didn't give up as many points gambling on steals as Ariza did. He mostly stayed at home with his man. Trevor and Luke had comparable defensive ratings for the playoffs (103 vs 104).

For the 2009 playoffs, Luke shot 43%, which is reasonable for a wing player. For the 2009 finals, Luke shot 80%, the highest % of any Laker. So clearly, Luke CAN hit open shots to save his life. He also got twice as many assists per minute on the floor as guys like Fisher, Ariza, Gasol, and Odom. The only person MORE effective at getting assists was Kobe (Farmar was close).

I'm not saying Luke walks on water. He's had some down times too, especially last season. But when healthy, Luke is an asset to the team, regardless of whether you admit it or not.

I love Luke. I know he's not good enough to be a starter, but he's good enough at what he does. IMHO he's an underrated passer. He's smart. He's Luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuke. I hope he's healthy enough to play and contribute doing what he does.

C'mon, 25th!

cont'd from last post:

Sometimes, I just think to myself that how could Bynum even be a topic of debate, injuries aside he is the finest center prospect on the face of the planet, and he's wearing purple and gold, with 5 years (and two titles) already under his belt, and the aforementioned 2-year Kareem Abdul-Jabbar degree of center knowledge.

My goodness, if Bynum had only not stepped on L.O.'s foot grabbing that rebound, or if Kobe had only kept his balance when shooting and not taken him out at the knees, then he would only have one significant injury, and these debates would be moot.

Or would they?

I tend to agree with LEWSTRS, that the Bynum bashers seem to scour the earth to find whatever they could to hold against him. Also agree with KobeMVP888 that it is most likely a younger age group that overall wants performance now, rather than have the patience as the offense gradually shifts to Bynum and his touches - therefore numbers - will increase.

I understand they want what is best for the Lakers, but it seems like some delight in pointing out how he wasn't an all-star, how he is injury prone, question his defense, his overall contributions, etc... That is why it appears that it goes beyond mere injuries.

As long as we all stay civil, no problem out of me, I don't get tired of defending him, sometimes just tired of debating it. I just want to see all the Bynum bashers will step up if Bynum becomes an all-star (he WILL!!!), and his numbers increase enough to make him the dominant center in the league (which will happen within 2 years, by the time he's 25).

Oh well, that was my vote on the last page, the Bynum debate, mostly though because it is the current wild-fire moving through the blog. The D-Fish as starter debates may have gotten a little more intense, and the value of Luke debates have been quiet for a while. Kobe's scoring mentality is an off-and-0n debate, especially when his shooting was affected by the finger injury.

This Bynum debate though, it's like a zombie that keeps coming back to life...

I've always liked Luke, his work ethic, and his controlled play. I would love to see him healthy but I don't think that's gonna happen.

Back injuries are just no fun and they never heal 100%. Like some mentioned just a couple of posts ago, he's just one twist or off balance landing away from more pain. I would rather see Luke with a strong back when he's in his 50s and in a suit holding a clip board on the bench. (I'm thinking that is the protective parent in me coming out)

JR

Mark Cuban's ummm.....optimistic comments from Rotoworld:

"Mark Cuban didn't mince any words in a recent interview when asked if he thought the Mavericks could beat the Lakers in the West this year.
"Hell yes," he said. "That's it. Hell yes. We've got the size now. We've got the depth. We've got a lot more depth than the Lakers. It's not even close there."

Posted by: LAKER TRUTH | September 16, 2010 at 03:16 PM

Mark Cuban has a player with the depth of Kobe? No. Pau pretty much cancels out Dirk. This is a ridiculous statement by a deluded individual. Mark Cuban. Pshhhhht.

i think luke shud just retire after or during this season. his salary is killing the lakers...bynum also has to be better this year. we need his presence on the court and if he gets injured again, well.....i think lakers would have to trade him. bynum is injury prone. my 02 cent..

can't wait until training camp starts...GO LAKERS !!!

Ladies and gentleman we have a Faith sighting. Why that must mean it is almost time for Basketball preseason to start.

I'm hoping that Luke's back holds up. He may not duplicate his career year (2006-2007), but I know that he's a solid rotation player when healthy.

If it does hold up, I do believe that everyone's minutes will decrease significantly (no need for Kobe to play the 3; Sasha can play the 2; etc.). If minutes across the board decrease, then I think that the entire roster will be healthy and ready to go once the playoffs start.

I need to figure out a way to ask him about his training regimen, as I'm looking to get back into competitive sports during this next year.

It's a little harder to defend Luke, as opposed to Bynum, because most agree that a healthy Bynum really helps the Lakers.

Luke though, he's got a lot more people stacked against him, a whole lot more.

I for one see the beautiful ball-movement (it's been a while now) when Luke's in the game, it seems that the rest of the Lakers really enjoy playing with him. He has the ball and cutters cut and shooters get ready, he's a nice drive-and-dish player.

He's not in the game to shoot necessarily, although I'm sure they want him to shoot the open jumpers that he is reluctant to shoot many times. He's more of a glue guy, a triangle guy, and his smart play gives a boost for the second team.

Now, if they were to trade Luke, I wouldn't be averse to it, but I can pickup the little things he does, the nuances that help the flow of the offense.

Make Luke starter? Not over Artest. Play him with the bench players? No problem there.

Unfortunately, this is one debate which will probably be postponed to another day in the far future given Luke's bad back...

GO LAKERS!!!!!

indypwr,

>>> his salary is killing the lakers

Yeah, because with Luke's salary the Laker's haven't been able to afford to keep any of their players.

[Wait, no, they were able to re-sign Derek Fisher, Shannon Brown, and Lamar Odom, despite Luke's contract]

What I meant was, because of Luke's salary the Lakers haven't been able to afford to add any quality players.

[Uh, except for Ron Artest (one of the best defenders in the league), Steve Blake (the best unrestricted free agent point guard this summer), and Matt Barnes (a guy who STARTED for the 2nd best team in the East last year)].

Uhhh, no. I meant that Luke's salary pushes us over the salary cap, so we can't afford to sign anyone.

[Except for the fact that without Luke's salary, the Lakers have been and will be over both the salary cap and luxury tax for the last two seasons and the next 3 seasons]

Basically, Luke's salary has had zero impact on the Lakers. It's just some money out of Jerry Buss' pocket, that's all. For 2008-09, Luke basically stayed healthy and earned his pay. For 2009-2010, he was injured and it was wasted pay. But it had no other impact on the team.

The Lakers spent their full MLE both last summer and this summer improving the team. They were able to retain the players they wanted to retain. And they wouldn't have cap space even if he DIED and his contract went away.

You don't get a bonus star on top of your championship for spending less money to get it. Let alone your three-peat.

I'm a big Luke Walton fan, but I'm not super-optimisitic about his back.
-
What do we play for? RINGS!!!
-
Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.
-
GO LAKERS!!!

LAKER TRUTH: "Mark Cuban didn't mince any words in a recent interview when asked if he thought the Mavericks could beat the Lakers in the West this year.
"Hell yes," he said. "That's it. Hell yes. We've got the size now. We've got the depth. We've got a lot more depth than the Lakers. It's not even close there."
-
Size? Tyson Chandler, Brendan Haywood, the ancient Tim Thomas & 2 centers out of France. Oh, and of course, Dirk. They got size, all right. Might be fine against the rest of the league, but this collection supposed to be a match to Bynum/Gasol/Odom? Haaa!

Depth? They have a fine bench, I've always loved Jet Terry, and Barea is an underrated PG. I guess Haywood comes off the bench now, so that is a pretty decent backup center. Outside of that? Roddy B got outplayed in the summer league. DeShawn Stevenson? He roughly has more incidents that PPGs. Tim Thomas, some rooks and euro's? Well, Cuban is certainly in mid-season form, and definitely wearing those green and blue shades...

GO LAKERS!!!!!

Lewsters,

you wrote: It's not that you are saying false remarks about Bynum...I saw your criticism is backed up with statistics...

It's that you will scour the world, for anything negative about Bynum...I never said your comments were not substantiated...But why...Why do you get off on Bynum bashing...Did he steal your girl...did he key your car...why the hate...why no faith...why give up on the kid...why so desperate to trade him...

That's my point...why point out the negative...if you are only pointing out negative...then my conclusion is...you have a negative stand on the whole topic...substantiated or not...

A lot here will point out the positive...some will just leave it in the hands of the Laker Gods...me I will lean on his positive traits, his flashes of brilliance, his potential...

my response:

Bynum has been a *hugely* divisive topic. Why? Because from the very
beginning there was nothing to substantiate him but hyperbole. 6 years
later the hyperbole is still going on.

Consider this: A LA times person wrote that core strengthening exercises would help negate knee injures caused by wide hips and knock knees.
From a *physics* perspective that makes no sense. The wide hips and knock
knees mean that force travels in inappropriate vectors relative to the
structural components of the knee. [ I believe the class is Statics. Eng. 101
depending on the school. ]

Instead of the Bynum fans saying ... How does a strong stomach affect knock-
knees the Bynum fans say "Woooo! Bynum will be healthy this year.
Wooooo! "

It's actually not being truthful.

I want Bynum to be healthy. I'd like Bynum to average 20/20. I'd like him
to be the next Wilt or Kareem. Telling falsehoods to pump up emotions
doesn't seem like a recipe for success. Telling falsehoods to other intelligent
people [ psyched laker girl ] is actually insulting, in some sense. It's saying
that you expect them to believe everything you say because it's positive
regardless of factual evidence to the contrary. So, when they tell you that
"trickle down economics " work, you're supposed to believe them and ignore
the increase in the % of the population who are poor and not notice that the
amount of $$ the rich have has increased.

it's like telling someone with lung cancer that they're going to be fine because
that cough is just a little tickle and it will get better. There's no need to go see
a doctor.

Why can't we just be honest about Bynum without all the fluff?

Here's something positive: His offense has gone up for 3 years straight.

Here's something positive: He played hurt.

If things had been left at that point, he never would have become divisive.


Given that Bynum averaged less than 15 pts per game and averaged less
than 10 rebounds per game ... it is illogical to believe that there isn't
another center in the NBA who couldn't have averaged those same numbers
playing opposite Pau Gasol w/ Kobe & Artest on the same court. So,
why the hyperbole?

Am I glad that we have a center who's 7'1" and 285 lbs? Yes.
Do I want him to be injured? No.
Do I want him to become better? Yes.

Here's the main problem with all the hyperbole surrounding Bynum:

The failure to match hyperbole to reality. The disappointment when
expectations aren't met. The flat out ridiculous comments that have been
made and the poisonous ideas which ultimately would have lead to failure
for the Lakers.

Ex: running the offense through the C/bigs.

As a cliche, this works great. In practice, though the wording is good the
reality is obscured. Allow me to clarify:

yes, we should get the ball into the post. Yes, Bynum should get to shoot.
Yes, Pau should get to shoot. Yes, both of them should get to touch the ball
a lot and possibly a little more than they do.

This is the problem: NEITHER of them are enough to tilt the defense
substantially. Our most potent weapon is Kobe Bean Bryant. It's not Pau.
[ sorry ricky ] It's not Bynum. It's not Artest. It's not the Triangle Offense.
it's Kobe Bean Bryant!

When the other team doesn't think that Kobe will shoot, they are able to
stifle the offense. They can prevent Pau from getting position. Bynum
hasn't learned enough on defense. [ he's foul prone, but getting better. ]
Bynum isn't a good enough passer. His mentality, at this point, isn't geared
right. [ Yes, it's getting better. ] We saw this when Kobe came back from
injury. He passed the ball consistently and we lost.

Kobe must remain the primary threat in order to open up everyone else's
game. They hyperbole of the Bynum fans obscures this point and then
false accusations are made about all of the Lakers. Fisher. Luke. Kobe.
We've been hearing all of this for the last 6 years. This is *EXACTLY* what
Shaq said. paraphrase: "You see we win when I get the ball." --Shaq

What is the ultimate goal? Winning a championship. Do I care how it gets
done? Not really. Would it be great to have 5 all stars on the Lakers? You
betcha!

"Unfortunately, S*&T ain't like that!"

So, let's tell the truth and celebrate what we do have.

We have a great veteran presence in D-Fish who plays huge in the playoffs.
We have a young talented C, who might grow to be awesome some day.
We have a defensively talented bunch of guys now.
We have the most skilled basketball player in the world.
We have the best coach in the history of the NBA.

I see no reason to tell lies. We are the two time defending champions.
We have an excellent chance at winning 2 - 3 more championships on
the shoulders of Kobe Bryant. That should be sufficient for any Lakers
fan.

Luke helped the Lakers greatly when he volunteered to keep Ammo company on the bench. I have never seen him come in and energize or save the team from franticness. Name a time.

I wish no harm to anyone and especially no one in a Lakers uniform, but I am all about the team. Luke Warm Walton is not a hot ticket item. I beg Luke to take the money and set us free.

But if he doesn't, which he won't, I LOVE LUKE WALTON AND ALL HE ADDS WITH HIS IQ !!!

GOOOoooOOOOOO LAKERS !!

PS TOM DANIELS is right. This should have been on the most divisive list.

Wassup LTLF? Long time no see. Where have you been?

- I'm sorry, but I don't care what the stats say. NOTHING will convince me that Luke is a better defensive player than Ariza, or that Luke is even in the same league as Ariza.

- Blake would NOT be the only good passer in the second unit. We also have a guy named Lamar, and a guy named Gasol who often plays with the second unit. With Gasol, Lamar and Blake, the second unit needs outside shooting, the ability to finish on fast breaks, and solid defense at the wing positions, none of which are Luke's strong suits (to put it mildly).

- I also want to see EBanks get some minutes, even if it's only a few minutes a game, and Luke will only get in the way of Ebanks' development.

- I agree with you that Luke had his best moments as a Laker in the 2009 playoffs, as well as the first few months of his contract year. That amounts to about 4 months of decent basketball in SEVEN years. That's not a good percentage by any standards.

- When you spew out Luke's stats, you also have to remember that defenses DO NOT guard Luke. Luke's man usually leaves him wide open on the perimeter to double Kobe or pack in the paint. Luke's passing skills might make life easier for his teammates at times, but those skills are offset, and than some, by defenses who leave Luke wide open to focus on his teammates. His 43% FG that you sited might seem adequate at first glance, but if you take into account that how little defenses pay attention to him, than 43% is quite low for a foward who rarely gets to the line.

- The biggest contribution that Luke ever made was volunteering to go to the bench. He seems to be much better at scouting players than playing NBA basketball. Perhaps he can retire now and join the coaching staff as a scout.

- You say that "when Luke is healthy", he is an asset? The point is he's never healthy, and missed most of last year because of a pinched nerve. A pinched nerve? Seriously? What's going to happen next year? Is he going to take 3 months off because of a chipped fingernail?

Hey guys. We got a new post up.

MM

"Our most potent weapon is Kobe Bean Bryant. It's not Pau.
[ sorry ricky ] It's not Bynum. It's not Artest. It's not the Triangle Offense.
it's Kobe Bean Bryant!"

Amen

Like most everyone else I hope Luke injury free season. But even a completely healthy Luke will have a hard time getting minutes this year. The Lakers top need from the SF position is someone who is a plus defender. They signed Artest specifically to slow down Melo, Lebron and Pierce. Now that Durant has exploded we can add him to that list. They added Barnes to keep the defense intensity up when Ron sits down. Luke is a good facilitator and one of the Laker best passers, but defense isn't his calling card.

One of my favorite Luke moments was gm 2 of the 04 finals. He came off the bench throwing lobs to Shaq and really picked the Lakers up. I think he also had double digit assist. Shaq was thankful saying it was amazing how a rookie could get him the ball when guys he had been playing with for years couldn't.

>>> I'm sorry, but I don't care what the stats say. NOTHING will convince me
>>>that Luke is a better defensive player than Ariza, or that Luke is even in the
>>>same league as Ariza.

And that's where we differ.

You prefer the player who "looks best to you".

I prefer the player who "produces the best results".

If Trevor looks really flashy on defense, but Carmelo still rips him apart for 30+ points a game, then has he really played good defense? If Luke looks slow footed on defense, but does a better job of staying with Carmelo and not leaving him open, then is he really a "liability on defense" as you claim?

I guess I'll need to post some video clips, because the haters won't admit for a second that Luke could EVER stop Carmelo Anthony, even for 1 possession.

Everyone hypes Shannon Brown's defense as well, but NBA.com has as one of its top dunks of the 2009-10 season where Ty Lawson drives by Shannon like a cardboard cutout and then dunks over MBenga.

Sometimes just stable stay at home defense is as effective as (or more effective than) flashy gamble for a lot of steals defense.

Its a good thing we got Caracter to back up Luke and carry his bags. Lifting is not good for people with tender backs. Perhaps Caracter can carry Luke on his back?

Unfortunately, neither is travel and playing in the NBA. And with Luke, some of those other-worldy moves to the basket can't be good for it either.

As a fellow back sufferer, I suggest, he really take his time getting better. Then plan on joining the team in the late season, when the Lakers are getting ready for the playoffs.

This has to be one of the most ridiculous blog posts in Lakerblog history. "How Luke Walton's back holds up this season is one of the most important preseason questions for the Lakers. " Are you serious?

How Luke Walton's back holds up is one of the least important things I can imagine about a Laker team that is deeper at the small forward position (without counting Luke, no less) than it has ever been. If ever there was a season where Luke would not be missed it would be this year.

Wow, Medina, you are back but you are rusty....

Flathead - No disrespect, but you need to read the substance of this paragraph.

" How Luke Walton's back holds up this season is one of the most important preseason questions for the Lakers. It'll dictate whether he'll be able to bounce back from a 2009-2010 season he described as "frustrating" because a pinched nerve in his lower back limited him to only 29 games. Walton's health will strongly influence how Phil Jackson will use his rotations, and determine Walton's future with the team. The answer to this question won't make or break the Lakers' season, but it'll likely affect a bunch of moving parts. "

We're agreeing that it's not going to decide a championship. I'm saying the question is an important variable for how they're going to play their other pieces. I never said they can't absorb his injury. My point is Mitch got Ebanks and Barnes in case Walton's back goes out. If that happens, they'll have to immediately adjust. Because Walton's health could be long-term, it'll create a domino effect in terms of shuffling. Obviously this happened before last year with Luke only in for 29 games. But the Lakers have new personnel this year. In the long run, that's a good thing. There's going to be some phasing in some sorts however since they're new. If Luke is healthy, it's something that could be done gradually. If not, it'll have to be expedited for better or worse

MM

PLG - I enjoy your insight. Keep it coming. I don't skip...but then again I'm not an elder...lol.

bassmouth - welcome to the party.

KobeMVP888 - the hats might be divisive also. Half might like the purple and the half the gold!

JustaLaker - I like that Jorge Santana cut. It was smooth. For some reason I was expecting it to be a little harder. I knew about El Chicano (Viva Tirado) but wasn't up on Thee Midnighters or Cannibal. I checked them out an they're both very good. Cannibal is some good Doo Wop. I'm suprised they're not on one of my Doo Wop Box Sets.

>>> I agree with you that Luke had his best moments as a Laker in the 2009
>>>playoffs, as well as the first few months of his contract year. That amounts to
>>>about 4 months of decent basketball in SEVEN years. That's not a good
>>>percentage by any standards.

Actually, his best moments were right before he got the contract, when he was starting. He was clearly the third best player on the team (behind Kobe and Lamar). So for that season (the last year of his rookie contract), Luke was definitely underpaid. (shocker! Who could every believe that Luke could every be underpaid. :-)

And he was pretty good for the whole 2008-09 season, not just the playoffs. You forget, but the Lakers started off the season hot, and then the offense kinda stagnated. Phil benched Radmanovic and started Luke to push the starters back to working the triangle, and the starting unit picked up because of it. Then when Trevor was struggling, Luke volunteered to go to the bench and let Trevor start, as he thought it might get him out of his funk. And whether on the bench or a starter that season, Luke almost always put his teammates first.

And in 2007-08, there was a period where Rad was out with his snowboarding injury and Trevor Ariza was out for a long period of time (until the finals). During that stretch, Luke played through injury and helped carry the Lakers to the Finals. During that stretch the Lakers first fell out of first place in the West, then worked hard and made it BACK to first in the West. If they'd have had a healthy Bynum by then, it wouldn't surprise me if the Lakers had won the championship in 2008 with Luke as their starting SF.

And my favorite Luke moment was Christmas of 2008. It was on that day that Luke blocked Kendrick Perkins' shot so hard that he injured Perkins' shoulder.

How soft is your center if he gets punked by Luke Walton. I'm just sayin'.

Mark, I understand the substance of your paragraph, but I just think it is flat wrong. I don't think that Mitch got Ebanks and Barnes as insurance for Luke. I think Mitch drafted Ebanks because it was a low risk/high reward move for a guy that looks an awful lot like a young Ariza. You make that move with or without Luke. As for Barnes, you take the most versatile perimeter defender in the free agent market and sign him to small contract that both adds to your depth and versatility and keeps him off of Miami, Orlando or Boston. That had nothing to do with Luke.

I think it is highly unlikely that Luke will be invited back for another contract when this deal is up, even if he has the strongest back in the league. This team is being built around toughness and defense, and Luke offers neither.

It's not me thinking Mitch got Ebanks and Barnes as insurance for Luke. It's exactly what Mitch said after the draft and after they signed Barnes. Of course, the other reasons are all legit, but to say Luke had nothing to do with their decision making process is just plain wrong. This isn't an opinion at all. Mitch said on record Luke's uncertainty with his back played a large part on why he picked up those two players

MM

lakers next big move: buy out luke's contract, it's time to move on.

Yes, Mark, those were nice things to say about a player who you personally like, but if you think that Mitch would not have selected Ebanks with a 2nd round pick (making him eligible for a non-guaranteed $700k contract) or signed Matt Barnes to essentially a league minimum deal if Luke was perfectly healthy then we definitely disagree.

I understand that Mitch said those things, just like I understand that Mitch said the Lakers didn't offer Farmar a contract because they wanted to give him the opportunity to fluorish elsewhere. It's called a plattitude, and it can also be described as B.S.

When healthy, Luke will be the 4th best small forward on the Lakers, if you don't count Kobe (who has traditionally gotten most of the backup minutes at that spot). The Lakers improved their roster by signing Ebanks and Barnes, and to accept Mitch's contention that the motivation was more "insurance" than "improvement" seems unrealistic to me....

Flathead - They would've taken those players you're right. I never said Luke was the sole factor. I just said he was one of them. But consider this - The Lakers saw their backcourt as the number one priority to address. If they didn't have the Luke back situation, it's conceivable that they may have looked for a guard in the draft. That doesn't mean Mitch definitely would've done it, but it's at least possible. I think we're both saying the same thing. Although I give Luke credit for being a team player and knowing the triangle and such, the main point of my article is that his injury itself affects different moving parts. To say that isn't important is just wrong.

MM

I take Luke at his word. I think he will be healthy. Jackson likes him and will play him. Watch. And watch Sasha start to hit threes, too.

Even if Luke was Healthy

The Lakers should cut ties with him. I don't know what's up with Luke and Phil or with Luke and the organization, for them to continue to reserve his salary and spot on the team. Management waste. Only in America.

I like Luke Walton contributions to the court as well. The contract is fro 6 years 30 Million.

Updated: July 3, 2007, 11:55 AM ET
Walton to stay with Lakers after agreeing to 6-year, $30 million deal

James,

>>>I take Luke at his word. I think he will be healthy. Jackson likes him and will
>>> play him. Watch. And watch Sasha start to hit threes, too

I agree. If Luke is healthy, then Phil will definitely play him (much to the chagrin of pfunk and some other posters here). And it also would not surprise me to see Sasha have another hot season, just like the last time his contract was up for renewal. Unless Shannon gets injured, I don't expect Phil to give Sasha a lot of minutes, but I expect him to hit >40% of his 3's this season. (and I also expect the Lakers NOT to re-sign him next season).

Luke has had ups and downs in play and obviously in ijuries, but more downs than ups in that department. He did a great job on bulkly guys like Matt Harpring and MH gave Ron Artest problems before. But on the down side Luke has made bad decisions like not calling time out in throw in pass and causing turnover. Also remember the overpassing to Kobe under the basket forcing Kobe into bad shot as 24 clock expired. Kobe then yelled at him saying shoot the ball. So basically I am saying Luke has his good job days and his Aw S*&t days like about any guy. Its the quick sign, duration of contract and money which generates most debate.
I brought up a long time ago about moving him into coaching staff and if his back does not hold up then that is where he belongs IMHO.
---
LRob,
Glad you liked the cut and in giving you link would lead you to the Carlos and Jorge Santana Live Guajira cut. A little more hard core Santana Latin rock. There are other Latin groups but some of those were early Latin rock beginings. Wow really dating myself LOL. Glad to provide the music and history of it. Have you uploaded any of your CD compilations on youtube would like to see what you have compiled?

Even if he makes it back, he'll hardly get playing time, he's not as good as Barnes and Ebanks will be better than him if he works hard within 2 seasons.

Walton and the Lakers is a great story, but in terms of playing in a Laker jersey it's almost over.


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