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Interpreting fan sentiment regarding whether they prefer Andrew Bynum or Carmelo Anthony

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The headline across the L.A. Times' sports page sums it all up: "Don't count on Carmelo Anthony coming to Lakers"

Click on the link and you will come across a report from The Times' Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turnerthat explains the Lakers don't want to trade center Andrew Bynum to the Denver Nuggets for forward Anthony, refuting an ESPN report that said the teams were in preliminary talks.

That's not going to silence the chatter, no matter how much it appears a Bynum-Melo deal won't happen, something that's also echoed by The New York Daily News' Frank Isola. Readers of The Times' Lakers blog spent all day analyzing what would happen should the Lakers trade Bynum, debated with fans via live chat on what the Lakers should do and even voted in a few polls that capture fan sentiments.

A poll in The Times' Fabulous Forum indicated that 74.16% of fans believe the Lakers should make the deal, and a poll in the latest live chat shows that 69% of voters want Melo on the Lakers in place of Bynum. The results struck me for several reasons. As many times as fans have expressed frustration over the team's play in the comment threads, few sentiments share a sense of uncertainty regarding the team's future. The poll results seem to suggest otherwise. As many times as the fans contributed to this trade discussion, most of the actual comments provided specific reasons why the Lakers should hold onto Bynum and avoid being part of the Melo-drama. There seems to be a silent majority.

With the help of at least a few commentators, below are a few reasons why the support for Melo appears stronger than that for Bynum.

1. Anthony pairing up with Kobe Bryant would actually be a good thing. There's an understandable concern that pairing the Black Mamba with Melo would bring  inevitable friction. They're both NBA superstars. They're both scorers. And they both cut corners on defense. In other words, the reason why the two admire each other's game so much is that they have the same basketball mentality. Melo isn't near Bryant in terms of championships, but the ability to score on a dime is still there. But how do you replicate that when there's only one basketball? How does the team maintain that balance that it always strives for with Bryant's aggressive scoring and facilitating, Pau Gasol's post presence, Lamar Odom's versatility and, on the best days, some actual outside shooting from Ron Artest and Derek Fisher?

But to some, Melo's similar mind-set in scoring may be just what the Lakers need. "i feel carmelo is a scorer something kobe needs right now," all out wrote. "gasol isnt doin as well this year i feel carmelo to la is what im hoping for."

It could work because the two have a close friendship that goes back to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, with Melo and Bryantsaying on separate occasions that they felt jovial around each other and taught each other their moves. Melo would want to fit in with whatever fits in with the Lakers so that Bryant earns another ring. Bryant, who's admitted Melo's unhappiness with Denver reminds him of his earlier discontent with the Lakers, would also feel inclined to help Anthony fit right in, knowing how hungry he is to finally win a championship and that ensuring Melo maintains his scoring rate would ease the burden on Bryant's body. As much concern as there is about Anthony's possibly changing the team's identity, experiencing a learning curve and disrupting chemistry, the Lakers and their fans want stars. Forget worrying about the team concept because it will revolve around the team's best players.

2. Patience for Bynum has run out. Just when it appeared Bynum had returned to the good graces of Lakers fans (or at least enough that any topic involving Bynum doesn't just lead to an endless argument) after the Lakers won the 2010 NBA title, Bynum expended that capital by delaying off-season surgery on his right knee so he could attend the World Cup. I defended Bynum's decision at the time because the delay amounted more to a collective miscalculation by the organization than an indictment of his hunger level. No matter which side you're on with this issue, however, there's one indisputable truth. Bynum's delayed surgery has largely contributed to the Lakers' inconsistency this season.

It's not fair to pin this all on Bynum, but his 24-game absence provided a trickle effect that proved hard for the Lakers to overcome. First, the heavy mileage on  Gasol caught up to him and left him fatigued and ineffective. As soon as that happened, the Lakers lost the consistency in the post, putting the responsibility on others to providethat production. With the Lakers' outside shooting proving largely undependable, most of the offense revolved around Bryant leading the team at will and Odom posting a consistently reliable double-double. With the offensive chemistry floundering, Gasol gassed and the Lakers lacking Bynum's length inside, the team's defense in turn became unreliable as well. 

Bynum's return has helped solidify the team's defensive rotations, particularly with the new defensive scheme that's emphasized him staying close to the basket to shut off drivers in the lane. But his  conditioning is nowhere near where Lakers Coach Phil Jackson wants it to be, and minor issues such as a bruised left knee that sidelined last week for one game add further worries that the only reliable Vegas line involving Bynum involves when he'll get injured. With ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher recently tweeting that Orlando Center Dwight Howard has his "eye on Lakers don't win Magic in next 2 years," the Lakers could easily return to that post-oriented team while also finding a baton holder in Melo for when Bryant is ready to hand over the reins.

"Bynum is too often injured and his production isnt there like it was back in 08 when he started to dominate," adam wrote. "I also dont like the kids outside activities away from basketball. Playboy parties, getting high speed tickets, all while he is suppossed to be nurturing his knee and getting back into game shape. Melo would certainly qualify as new blood as Magic stated. I dont buy this refuted report one bit when Kupchack and Magic have been saying, a trade is necessary. When all the teams ahead of you own you, you need to do something. If the deal can be worked to get Nene as well in exchange for a few minor pieces since Denver is clearly looking to dump salary, then the FO would have to be idiots to not do this deal. It gives the team incentive to play again and show what true champs are made of!" 

3. Lakers fans just love trade talk. Besides salivating over NBA championships, there's one thing Lakers fans love to do: complain. They complain if they're losing. If they're winning, they complain about individual performances. If everyone's playing well, they complain about other teams. And if the Lakers are simply coming off a championship season, they're complaining during the off-season that the season hasn't started yet. 

Based on my experience reading and moderating comments over the year, however, I think the media overstates the overreaction among Lakers fans, whether it's the belief that their team is the greatest after they win or the worst after they lose. There's no doubt many of the fans express confidence in the Lakers' collecting championship after championship and are upset over a string of bad performances. But the wide range in comments after a win or a loss shows a healthy nuance of paying attention both to the ebbs and flows of the season and maintaining a big-picture perspective. If anything, an exercise like today really just shows that Lakers fans like to complain just because they can and not because they're overly worried about the state of the franchise. Sizing up trade scenarios is fun, and if it involves furthering the discussion on a report the Lakers immediately refuted, who cares? There's nothing else to talk about when the Lakers have  the day off.

--Mark Medina

Twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Kobe Bryant, left, and Carmelo Anthony have their game faces on during the Lakers-Nuggets playoff series in April 2008. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times.

 
Comments () | Archives (120)

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I am glad they are not interested in Melo! I think trading Bynum would be a huge mistake because it will take away the one advantage the Lakers have...SIZE! Everybody knows that in the playoffs the game slows down into a half court, which will greatly be to Lakers advantage. In that setting, you need size. Adding Carmelo who doesn't play defense would be a disaster! Yes, in the regular season you can run and gun with Melo, but when playoffs starts you need matchup advantages and no one has the size the Lakers have. Please don't mess with this team! Leave it like it is. If the Lakers don't win this year, then you makes changes, but give this team the chance to defend.

>>>But to have the trade broad cast in the media like this one those are the
>>>trades that don't happen.

The acquisition of Shaq was HEAVILY reported in the press before it happened. Granted, that was making an offer to a free agent, as opposed to a trade.

Potential deals for Shaq were widely reported as well - I remember Dallas making an offer and Buss not being willing to trade him in-conference. I forget who else made offers, but I remember there being some discussion as to what pieces Miami would send. Dwyane Wade wasn't a star yet, and some proposals had him as part of the package. Can you imagine if that had gone through? Instead of Lamar and Caron Butler if the Lakers had gotten Lamar and DWade.

There was also some press when the Lakers were looking to dump off Radmanovic.

The thing is, I agree with you. I don't think the Lakers will break up the current squad. But whether or not it's reported in the media has little to do with it.

I think the point of the "leak" in this case wasn't because there was any intention to make a trade. I think it was leaked by one side or the other for one of these reasons:

1. Denver leaked the rumor to incite New York &/or New Jersey to up their offers

2. The Lakers leaked the rumor to light a fire under Andrew Bynum. With the threat of a trade to Denver hanging over his head, I bet Socks plays as hard as he possibly can in the next few games.

And if Drew playing extra hard for a few helps the Lakers gets wins in Boston, New York, and Orlando the next three games, then all talk of trade will die and the big story on ESPN will be "THE LAKERS ARE BACK!"

Let's also remember that Bynum's first knee injury was because of Kobe and his second was because of Odom. It's not like, he did it to himself. Now, I do think Bynum made a huge mistake by not going ahead with knee surgery immediately after last season. I'm sure he regrets it now! I think he is playing good basketball and will get better, just in time for the playoffs. I think he will dominate in the post season.

>>>My concern is if we do trade bynum where giving up one of our bigs which
>>>leaves a huge void in the middle.

As I pointed out (and Hollinger also pointed out, but after I did :-), the Lakers could almost certainly get a decent role-player big (or two) back in the deal.

Namely, Chris Andersen (and potentially Shelden Williams as well, if they want him). While Andersen has no hint of an offensive game, he is a very good rebounder and shot blocker.

Over the last 2 1/2 years, Bynum has averaged 8.0 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in about 29 minutes per game. In the last two complete seasons, he played in 50 and 65 games, and played somewhat hobbled during both playoffs.

Over the same period, Birdman has averaged 6.2 reboudns and 2.0 blocks in about 19.8 minutes per game. In the last two complete seasons, he played in 71 and 76 games, and was healthy for the playoffs.

Birdman is not as good a post defender as Bynum, and as I said, his offense is almost non-existant. But he's a more efficient rebounder and shot blocker for the amount of time he's on the floor, and he STAYS ON THE FLOOR more than Bynum does.

And as for the lost offense, Carmelo would more than make up for it.

As I said before, if this deal were being proposed in September, I would wholeheartedly support it. Being proposed this late in the season makes me nervous. Yes, players have often been added near the trade deadline that put teams over the top (Sheed to Detroit, etc), but it ain't easy to learn the triangle in a very short period of time.

I like Andrew Bynum, but you have to understand the difference between potential/upside (which Andrew has displayed a lot of) and actual performance (which Carmelo has displayed his whole career). I would rather have an all-star level player who stays healthy most of the time instead of a player who seems like he could be the best center in the NBA if he'd just put it all together, but who can't seem to stay on the floor due to injuries.

>>>We lost our first time out when we didn't have Andrew Bynum at all.

Unfortunately, that argument doesn't really hold water. Certainly Andrew contriubuted, even in his hobbled state, to both championships.

But here were other things that made the difference between a 6 game loss in 2008 and a 5 game win in 2009:

1. Having a healthy starting SF (Ariza)
2. Having Shannon Brown
3. Pau had a year more experience in the Triangle
4. Playing with the motivation of having come close and lost it in 2008

In 2010, you can add the factor that Ron Artest was trying for his first ring, so he was playing extra hard.

Both Pau and Lamar played a LOT harder in 2009 and 2010 than in 2008. In 2008, they looked like deer in headlights for the most part, and KG and Perkins just ran them over. Bynum's worth in 2009 was mostly spelling Pau for a few minutes a game and throwing a lot of fouls at Dwight Howard (who missed a lot of free throws, if you'll recall).

>>> It would also be great to trade Blake for Lawson

Okay, now you're being silly.

It would also be great to trade Shannon Brown for Eric Gordon. But that's not going to happen for the exact same reason as the Lakers can't trade Blake for Lawson.

>>> This team is custom designed for the playoffs...half court game, rebounds,
>>>ball control, interior stops/alters/intimidation...

Point 1: Carmelo is as much of a half court threat as Bynum is.

Point 2: Carmelo gets more rebounds than Bynum does.

Point 3: Carmelo is very strong for his position. And quicker at this point than Artest is. He's as capable of slowing down Pierce or LeBron as Artest is.

Point 4: The Lakers wouldn't do the deal unless they got a big as well. Toss in Chris Anderson as a backup center, and you INCREASE the number of blocks and rebounds over what Bynum would get.

As long as this isn't a huge multiplayer thing that dumps off 3 or 4 Laker rotation players, it could actually improve them for THIS year's championship run.

And also, Melo would be hungry. Like Artest was hungry last year.

People go to the stats for the 2 championships Bynum played in, claiming he didn't add anything. They pick scoring and rebounds. Do you really think Pau could have handled Dwight Howard all by himself? The fouls and defense he gave on Howard was crucial. The points he contributed were crucial in tight games. As for questioning his heart -- he played on a totally messed-up knee throughout the Boston series, getting 20 points in one game (how we lost a game where he and Pau scored over 20 is still a mystery to me). Remember how Kendrick Perkins sneared that Pau wasn't playing better, it was "his baby brother" helping him out? People are so willing to throw this kid under the bus, despite his age. He's not an aging veteran (think Grant Hill's struggles), trying to stay healthy. He's a young kid. Blake Griffin missed an ENTIRE year. His skill set is phenomenal, and his tandem with Pau is what makes us so hard to deal with. There's plenty of other high scoring forwards in the league. And for those who say trade Pau for Melo -- have you EVER seen Melo jump out on guards the way Pau does and still get back permieter? Do you think Melo can defend the different types of players Pau is asked to? Did you know that when Pau was supposedly SO weak against Boston in 2008, he actually lowered Garnett's scoring? I'm tired of the same cannards recycled by the Shiny-and-New crowd. The clown bomb on the radio (Max Whatever on ESPN 710) was advocating this Bynum/Melo trade, and you could hear the salivia dripping from his canine mouth. This is the same guy, who later in the show said that if he could live anywhere on this amazing Earth, he would pick Las Vegas. It's short-sighted and wrong-headed. The modern day Laker's dynasty began when Andrew Bynum started dominating. It will end when we get rid of him.

Since all the prognostication against this trade is based on the superstition you keep your bigs to win the rings, for about 10 seasons Shaq, Kareem or Wilt were on the team when it didn't win.

Pointforward,

Rice reply point forward. Now please name this average center you have in mind... Thank you...

Nice try about great offense always beating great defense, but Bynum is a synergist( adds more than the sum of the whole) Carmelo is just an addition (but by way of subtraction from his average defense, there is a sort of lessening of the whole with a Bynum on your team). This can be proven by stats and positions occupied in a formula that will give you a lesser number say if you add an average if available center alongside an average defender in Carmelo. But this theoretical average defensive center which you speak of will only bring about a layup parade for this Lakers team. LOOK BELOW.

LAYUPS HAVE THE GREATEST FIELD GOAL PERCENTAGE, SO THIS MEANS THAT EVEN YOUR TEAM'S BEST SHOOTERS CAN'T POSSIBLY HAVE A BETTER CONSISTANT OUTSIDE SHOOTING PERCENTAGE THAN LAYUPS!! Give this team time to gel. They'll get it together soon, I promise you that!!!

PointForward,

Take a breather brother,
THIS TRADE IS TALK IS PURE FLUFF,

Again, you're telling me that Carmelo is going to guard Kevin Garnett? Oh wait Carmelo is going to guard Perkins? No wait Odom is going to guard Garnett while Gasol guards Perkins right?

People please get it through your heads MASS MATTERS IN THE GAME OF BB!!!!!!!! Remember 2008? Lamar was a rag-doll, Gasol was a little rag-doll. Lakers could bearly win any games that year. They looked defeated. We need Bynum for matchup purposes. If the Celtics were not constructed like they are this year, then maypbe there could be some seriousness, but even then it would be downgrading the WHOLE.

As a matter of fact if my intuition is correct, the Celtics remember 2008 and what they did to Odom. In fact they are counting on Odom to come off the bench this year during the playoffs and stop his gazelle-like speed by having him guard one of their big bodies (Big Baby or SHAQ!!) They remember how exhausted Lamar was and how this in turn allowed them to win that year.

BOTTOM LINE UNLESS ONE OF THE CELTICS BIG MAN GETS INJURED LAMAR WILL NOT BE LAMAR AND WILL PLAY TIRED AND INEFFECTIVE or so they think.

Celtics whole goal is to tire out Lamar. I can put my stamp on that!!

SO PLEASE, TO ALL YOU HATERS, PLEASE STOP INFILTRATING THIS BLOG!

Another possibility is the Lakers want Carmelo, conceding a championship this year but thinking ahead towards the future. This would be the only reason to get Carmelo. And of course they would most likely be a funner team to watch during the regular season too. So if I could see that point too.

"Let's also remember that Bynum's first knee injury was because of Kobe and his second was because of Odom. It's not like, he did it to himself. Now, I do think Bynum made a huge mistake by not going ahead with knee surgery immediately after last season. I'm sure he regrets it now! I think he is playing good basketball and will get better, just in time for the playoffs. I think he will dominate in the post season.

Posted by: Bummi | February 09, 2011 at 08:53 AM "

Wasn't Kobe falling into Bynum his second injury? I thought the first injury was "unforced" on a seemingly harmless rebound attempt.

As the owner of Better than Phrezra2, Wavering Wires and Hoops Alchemy, I'd like to say I wholeheartedly endorse any trade that significantly lowers injury risk by unloading Bynum and picking up Melo. Obviously, the trade means we will have to accept certain compromises, but it's too good of an opportunity to pass up. We need a big and should probably unload Ron Ron were the trade to materialize. More than anything, I feel we need to position ourselves as well as we possibly can to pick up Dwight Howard. That's the ultimate goal and I hope we keep it in sight.

With this deal, picking up Nene would be very good and Anderson would be okay.

Don't judge me by my fantasy performance... I'm no Jim Buss and I've had some random players fall of the edge of the earth with no warning (Troy Murphy, grrr...). and a few that have vastly underperformed previous seasons without justification like age of previous inconsistency (Gerald Wallace, Linas Kleiza, Marcus Thornton, Jamal Crawford, Brook Lopez, David Lee and Devin Harris).

The real question here, the only question is whether the Magic have any interest in Melo and whether D12 would want to come here. If that's the case I don't think the Magic can do any better than getting Melo.

I like Bynum a lot, but only when healthy. I still think not trading him for Bosh (assuming that was a real trade possibility) was a mistake.

I guess I'm an unusual fan because I don't like trades. I check out NJ Nets news to see how Sasha is doing and wondering why we traded him. And Ariza. And DJ. And everyone. Every October I wonder where my team went and who are all these new guys. Change? "We fear change." - Wayne's World

Melo to the lakers is the best thing for us right now. Bynum is an important factor to our team but how can we continue to rely on him when he's always injured. A couple days ago I said we could win a championship with the team we have, but now I know a trade is a must. Maybe if Pau was more aggressive and if Ron would actually play some D but that just doesn't seem likely.
The only problem we would find with trading Bynum would be our size when we play the celtics. that's my only worry on the east.
With Melo our offense improves someone will actually help Kobe rather then having Kobe carry the team like he does most of the nights. By including Melo we can build around him, un like Bynum we will never know if he's going to be healthy for a full season. I think we have to think about our team and help get a 3 peat and the way to get that is by bringing Melo to LA!

I think lakers has a big chance to win again this year if they will not trade bynum and if he stay healthy but if the lakers want to be a force for the next 2 to 3 years bring Melo to the Hollywood..LOL

please if u want the laker legacy to live on sign him!shoot who knows maybe u might win a handful of rings......or not if u dont.Tell me who u expect to step up after kobe is gone?exactly.......

 
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