NBA lockout: Which Lakers will spend their time wisely?
For all the concern that the NBA lockout might eat into all or part of the 2011-2012 NBA season, it'd be misguided for players to think that's simply extended vacation time.
Sure, it might prompt them to rest more, tap into more endorsement opportunities or engage in the cliched exercise this off-season by "remaining open to playing overseas." But the smart NBA players will remain prepared just in case the season starts on time. That naturally leads to questions of who on the Lakers will be ready for that scenario. Click below the jump to find out.
These Lakers will use their time productively
Andrew Bynum -- Aside from the issue of parking in handicapped spaces, Bynum has spent his time productively taking boxing lessons and working on his post-game. Even though Bynum still faces maturity issues, he's certainly turned a corner regarding how he approaches the game. He ended the season strongly and, more importantly, fully healthy. It remains to be seen how the offensive pecking order will play out, with Bynum wanting more responsibility. But it's clear that Bynum is serious about playing basketball.
Pau Gasol -- Fresh off a disappointing playoff finish, Gasol played in his first exhibition game Tuesday with the Spanish national team in preparation for the European Championships Aug. 31 to Sept. 18. It's entirely presumptuous to think his bad postseason showing suddenly means a sign of things to come. But Gasol will be highly motivated in working this off-season to prove that's simply a one-time thing.
Derek Fisher - He's obviously consumed with negotiations for the next collective bargaining agreement since he is, after all, the president of the National Basketball Players Assn. Whether you're a Fisher fan or not, there shouldn't be much worry, however, on how that will hurt his off-season regimen. Fisher mentioned last year that he plays very little basketball in the off-season so he can rest his veteran legs, and that most of his training consists of weight training and conditioning. Everyone's curious to see if he can prove to a skeptical public that he's still worthy of being the Lakers' starting point guard. But little of that hinges on the lockout since he mostly rests anyway.
Lamar Odom -- He's long grown past the stage on whether or not he can be counted on on a consistent basis. Odom didn't become the team's most consistent player last season by accident. But his playoff performance dipped for no legitimate reason, and no, his reality show ventures don't cut it because he filmed that during the season. It might actually be a good thing Odom takes care of all the off-court work with Khloe Kardashian during an extended off-season so he won't feel inclined to worry about it once the season starts.
Matt Barnes -- It's apparent Barnes' fiery demeanor hasn't diminished during a lengthy rehab. He drew a one-game suspension from the San Francisco Pro-Am league for punching an opposing team's player, an emotion he should keep in check better for games that actually count. But as far as the work stoppage goes, this is the best thing that could ever happen to his rehab efforts. He didn't necessarily rush back to the lineup last spring at the expense of making his knee worse, but he returned with the standard on whether he was strictly healthy enough to play with it. With plenty of time to recover, Barnes took the first eight weeks off the season before progressively advancing past his rehab. He's had zero setbacks and was cleared to participate in five-on-five scrimmages two weeks ago. Clearly, he's motivated from the fact that his injury hurt his previous consistency.
Steve Blake -- It remains unclear to what degree Blake will actually improve from last season, but he's making the honest effort. His off-season has been pretty low-key, other than spending time with family and on his game, which has mostly entailed altering his shot so it has more arch. Laker fans don't have to worry about whether his off-season will go to waste.
Devin Ebanks -- He earned a strong reputation within the Lakers for his unassuming work ethic, and that hasn't appeared to subside. Ebanks mostly has worked out in Washington, D.C., and New York to better enhance his skills at shooting guard. As a reward, Ebanks shared via Twitter that he might get a tattoo sometime Wednesday.
Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock -- They have no other choice to but work on their game. Summer league denied them the opportunity to showcase their worth. Morris said after the Lakers selected him with the 43rd pick that he'd mostly work on his shooting. Meanwhile, Goudelock plans to finish up his degree at the College of Charleston while working to improve his defense.
On the fence
Kobe Bryant - Before you do a double take and wonder how I could be on the fence about Bryant, consider the question. Of course, Bryant's going to be ready for the season in shape. But that's not the question. The question is will he spend his time wisely. If he plays overseas, it's not going to be a good use of his time because he needs to rest his body as much as possible. If Bryant minimizes his basketball schedule to barnstorming appearances and off-season training, then Bryant surely will have spent this off-season in a productive manner. Plain and simple.
Ron Artest -- It's too easy to say Artest will show up next season unprepared for the 2011-12 season because of all the ongoing distractions consuming his life. It's surely a legitimate concern, but frankly it's too hard to predict Artest. By the same token, Artest works out two hours a day so it's not like he's not playing basketball. The issue has never been his work ethic. It's been about how he manages his own hectic schedule. Case in point, Artest told Fox Sports Billy Witz last season that he recorded a song and had extensive meetings with his clothing line mere hours before Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals, and we all know how that turned out.
Luke Walton -- He's a hard worker, but consider this a draw. Regardless of what he does this off-season, I don't forsee Walton having a major role on the team next season.
The NBA lockout will hurt these players
Derrick Caracter - By his own admission, Caracter said during his exit interview that his weight still remains an issue. Even if the video of him getting posterized this week by Terrence Williams in a charity game is hardly a large enough sample size, it was still enough to reveal that his weight and mobility still remain an issue.
E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]
Photo: Lakers forward Lamar Odom and Kobe Bryant have appeared in three consecutive NBA Finals and could sure use the rest this off-season. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times
Photo: Lakers center Andrew Bynum tries to power his way to a shot against Mavericks center Tyson Chandler in the first half of Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals at Staples Center. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times / May 4, 2011
Photo: Lamar Odom. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times
Photo: Kobe Bryant goes up for a reverse dunk during an exhibition game against Filipino players in Quezon City on July 23. Credit: Dennis M. Sabangan / EPA