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Category: Basketball News

Caught in the Web: Gilbert Arenas & Javaris Crittenton have season-long suspensions, Lakers links

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After meeting with Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas on Wednesday, NBA Commissioner David Stern suspended Arenas and teammate Javaris Crittenton without pay for the rest of the season for their involvement with having handguns present during a locker room dispute last month.

Lakers guard Derek Fisher, president of the NBA Players Assn., told the Daily News' Elliott Teaford that he and association Executive Director Billy Hunter today "will have a chance to talk about it and decide what course of action should be taken."

The Washington Post's Michael Lee reports in the linked story at the top of this post, however, that Arenas was informed of his fate during that meeting and that he told the players association not to contest the decision. ESPN's Marc Stein and Chris Sheridan add that Arenas told Stern during the meeting that he deserved the season-long suspension.

The weapons were not registered in Washington, D.C., and the guns being present at the Verizon Center violated NBA rules. Just recently, Crittenton learned he will serve a year of probation after pleading guilty for a misdemeanor gun possession. Additionally, The Times' Mark Heisler says that the incident turned for the worse before the Wizards' game in Philadelphia on Jan. 5 when Arenas participated in a pregame skit with teammates pretending to shoot one another.

It's been said that this whole incident wasn't as serious as the New York Post initially reported, which said both players pointed guns at each other. Nonetheless, the incident yielded serious consequences for obvious reasons. Arenas' 50-game suspension is the NBA's third most severe suspension not involving drugs, behind Ron Artest's 86-game suspension for his role in the brawl at the Palace of Auburn Hills in 2004 and Latrell Sprewell's choking of Warriors Coach P.J. Carlesimo in 1997 that ultimately resulted in a 68-game suspension. Meanwhile, Crittenton's 38-game suspension is the league's fourth highest. Before this incident, Stephen Jackson's seven-game suspension for his felony count for criminal reckless driving and firing seven shots near an Indianapolis strip club in 2006 counted as the league's longest suspension for a gun-related offense.

Barring further incident, Stern told reporters in a conference call that Arenas and Crittenton would be eligible to play next season without preconditions, but Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix wonders which team would pick them up.

Nonetheless, Stern's decision has been largely praised as a tough but fair stance.

Lakers links (after the jump)

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Caught in the Web: Stomaching a Lakers road loss

Kobe Bryant Spurs Jan 12

Another game, another day where the Lakers' health continues to be monitored.

And if that's not enough to worry about, the Lakers also have another game tonight against the Dallas Mavericks. The Lakers' 105-85 loss to the Spurs on Tuesday was the team's fourth consecutive road loss. But that's the least of their worries.

Kobe Bryant suffered back spasms just as it appeared he was overcoming his shooting woes affected by his injured right index finger. Pau Gasol missed his fifth consecutive game because of his left hammy. Both Ron Artest (right index finger) and Sasha Vujacic (right hamstring) are considered day-to-day. And Adam Morrison was absent because of flu-like symptoms.

The aforementioned injuries are the main story heading into tonight's game, but the following Lakers links should satisfy the rest of your pregame fix.

Lakers links (after the jump)

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Caught in the Web: Andrew Bynum trade reactions and other Lakers links

Even if Lakers center Andrew Bynum expressed indifference about the team's supposed interest in shipping him to Toronto for Chris Bosh, readers of the Lakers blog certainly didn't have the same reaction.

It became the most discussed topic on the comments thread throughout Sunday's post, and the speculation continued during the Lakers-Bucks Live Chat.

Regardless of whether you think the deal is a good idea or not, much of the follow-up analysis expressed skepticism over its feasibility. Aside from considering that reported trade rumors aren't always definitively accurate, The Times' Mike Bresnahan notes that Bynum is one of the Buss family's favorites. But, you may say, the NBA is a bottom-line business. Well, Brez also adds the money variable complicates the likelihood that such a trade would happen:

The Raptors would assume $29 million of guaranteed money for Bynum over the next two seasons and a possible $16-million team option for 2012-13 while the Lakers would have their own headaches with Bosh, who can opt out of his contract after this season and become a free agent. They would re-sign him, presumably, but would have to shell out more money for the 25-year-old power forward than Bynum was scheduled to make, pushing them further into high-end luxury-tax territory, which already was making them squeamish."

ESPN Los Angeles' John Ireland and Dave McMenamin second the notion that the numbers don't add up. Even if this deal doesn't make dollars and $ense, feel free to continue the discussion in the comments section below.

More Lakers links:

---Lakers forward Ron Artest has played in four games since his infamous Christmas night concussion that sidelined him for five contests. Yet, The Times' Broderick Turner notices Artest hasn't been the same since then. That includes Artest and Lakers Coach Phil Jackson with differing explanations on why he was taken out of last night's game. Artest finally relented: "The Zen master is never wrong."

--The O.C. Register's Kevin Ding says there's another reason -- a simple thing called injuries. Ding reports that Artest is playing with plantar fasciitis in his right foot and with a sore left foot.

--The Times' Mark Heisler explores what exactly the Lakers miss with Pau Gasol's absence because of a sore left hamstring. The main answer is that he keeps Mamba in check. Lakers fans should hope that happens soon. Gasol plans on traveling with the team for its two-game road trip against San Antonio on Tuesday and Dallas on Wednesday, but he told reporters he felt pain after running on a treadmill Saturday, making his recovery timetable still unclear.

--Basketball fans, including myself, are learning more things about the medical field as Kobe Bryant's right index finger worsens. Forum Blue & Gold's Kurt Helin tries "putting the finger on Kobe's shooting woes." What a difference there is between tape and a splint.

Tweet of the Day: "Looked like Kobe was talking to the ball after that last floater clanged off the back rim. You'll try anything when you're 2-for-18" -- mcten (ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin).

-- Mark Medina

Follow the LA Times Lakers blog on Twitter.

Caught in the Web: Andrew Bynum and Chris Bosh trade report, other Lakers links

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On a post detailing Kobe Bryant's high volume of shots the last two games, none of the initial comments regarded the Mamba's latest shooting woes or his right-index-finger injury.

But that's perfectly understandable. Instead, all the comments were in relation to a possible  Andrew Bynum trade for the Toronto Raptors' Chris Bosh. Now, all the Lakers need to do is find a way to get LeBron James, and Lakers fans should be set.

The New York Post story, reported by longtime NBA writer Peter Vecsey, cited a Lakers source indicating the team is trying to acquire Bosh before the Feb. 18 trade deadline:

"In itself, the one-for-one swap is impossible to make. Bynum’s “base year” essentially allows L.A. to take back but half of his salary this year ($12.5M). Of course, that restriction is lifted when next year’s salary ($13.7M) activates come July 1, at which time a sign-and-trade transaction would be feasible."

With Bosh set to be a free agent next summer, Vecsey suggests the Raptors' likelihood of protecting "its principal asset" might be "impractical," giving Toronto reason to believe that if Bosh's departure is inevitable, they may as well get something for it. And the reason Bynum appears to be the most realistic choice for the Lakers? Vecsey describes the other options --- Sasha Vujacic (one year left at a reported $5.475 million), Jordan Farmar and Adam Morrison (both free agents next summer) --- as "marginal goods".

An e-mail from Toronto team President Bryan Colangelo to Vecsey stating he is "not actively seeking a deal or discussing Bosh with any team, much less the Lakers" suggests the team is waiting for others to make offers and then follow suit.

ESPN's Marc Stein reports the Houston Rockets are one of the interested parties, even if a Bosh trade doesn't come with a guarantee that they can re-sign him this summer. The same story notes in a separate table that the Lakers owe $21,430,778 in luxury taxes unless they can make a move before the Feb. 18 deadline to get under the tax threshold, which dropped from $71.15 million last season to $69.9 million this season. The Lakers currently have a reported $91.3-million payroll.  

Feel free to continue the comments thread. In the meantime, here are some more Lakers links.

-- The Times' Mark Heisler has his weekly NBA rankings. SPOILER ALERT: Lakers fans may not like them.

-- Lakers Coach Phil Jackson estimated that forward Pau Gasol would return 10 days after he injured his sprained left hamstring. Because it's an estimate, there are many ways to do the math since Gasol injured his hamstring last Sunday against Dallas, but hadn't missed a game until the Lakers played Houston on Tuesday. The Times' Mike Bresnahan mentions Gasol's return could be Tuesday at San Antonio or Wednesday at Dallas. And the Daily News' Elliott Teaford writes that could also mean Gasol would return Friday against the Clippers.

-- Even though the Lakers currently rank second in field-goal-percentage defense, the Riverside Press Enterprise's Jeff Eisenberg notes that eight of the Lakers' past 10 opponents have eclipsed 100 points. The Kamenetzky brothers put together a podcast breaking down the Lakers' perimeter D. Unless the Lakers sharpen up in that area quickly, don't expect free tacos anytime soon.

-- Mamba may have other reasons to feel motivated for tonight's game against Milwaukee beyond the Lakers' two-game losing streak, his finger injury, his shooting woes and his ridiculous work ethic. His esteemed Philadelphia Eagles lost to the Cowboys, Dallas' first playoff victory since 1996 and the first time Philly has dropped an opening-round playoff game during Andy Reid's tenure as the team's head coach.

-- After taking a season-high 37 shots against Portland, Bryant said it was because no one else was doing anything to fill Pau Gasol's absence, writes the Oregonian's Geoffrey C. Arnold

-- Photo caption contest: Great photo gallery of longtime Lakers fan and actor Jack Nicholson. I'll post some of the best captions in the next links post.

Tweet of the Day: "Brandon Roy summing up how hard most teams play against L.A.: "Anytime you play the Lakers, everybody is excited about it." -- LakersReporter (Mike Trudell of Lakers.com)

--Mark Medina

Follow the LA Times Lakers blog on Twitter.

Photo: Lakers center Andrew Bynum guards Clippers center Chris Kaman in the Lakers' 102-91 loss to the Clippers on Wednesday night. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

Caught in the Web: Sharing Lakers links

Obviously the big news that has traveled around the NBA world involved the indefinite suspension of Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas, who was reported along with teammate Javaris Crittenton to have drawn guns on each other in the team's locker room on Christmas Eve over a gambling debt dispute. On Tuesday, Arenas and his teammates participated in a pregame skit where they pretended to shoot one another, an episode The Times' Mark Heisler says prompted NBA Commissioner David Stern to hand down the punishment that will cost Arenas $197,500 per game.

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson says he wasn't surprised with the decision, and reiterated Wednesday that he's talked to his team numerous times about this issue. Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy said the same thing.

Some more Lakers links:

-- In "Pau Gasol Hamstring Watch Part 2" (movie title suggestions, anyone?), Gasol went through a pain-free workout that entailed strength exercises with team trainers.

-- Jackson will never have any interest in becoming a league general manager, saying, "I don't want to have to deal with agents; I don't want to have to lie."

-- Though it's been a month since Lakers guard Kobe Bryant suffered an avulsion fracture in his right index finger, his latest performance (33 points on 30% shooting against the Clips) shows that the injury is still bothering him.

-- Silver Screen and Roll reluctantly credits the Clippers for last night's win, the team's first in 10 games.

-- The Clips' victory was an accomplishment ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin says was possible because they didn't think about the recent struggles against the Lakers. Yahoo Sports' Kelly Dwyer also highlights the Clips' offense and the Lakers' lack thereof.

-- Tweet of the day: "Lakers' next game is an easy one, they can rebound with a victo...wait, what? Oh. They're at Portland, where they've lost 8 in a row. Ouch" -- Mike_Bresnahan (L.A. Times beat writer Mike Bresnahan).

-- Mark Medina

Caught in the Web: Sharing Lakers links

There was a lot of health-related news that transpired from the Lakers' 88-79 victory in Tuesday's game against the Houston Rockets.

It looks like the sequel to "Pau Gasol Hamstring Watch" has just begun, with the forward sitting out of Tuesday's game because of a sore left hamstring that he suffered early in Sunday's game against Dallas. Though Coach Phil Jackson has said this injury appears less severe than the first right hamstring injury that kept him sidelined for the first 11 games, the team is again taking a cautious approach with the unpredictable nature of hamstring injuries.

Forward Lamar Odom was shy of a triple double (17 points, 19 rebounds, nine assists) despite battling intestinal flu symptoms that actually kept him from playing in Monday's practice.

And there was Ron Artest, who returned after missing the last five games because of a concussion he said he suffered after hitting the concrete of the bottom of the stairs outside his home on Christmas night.

Some more Lakers links:

-- Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey found out the hard way why size does matter, with center Andrew Bynum filling Gasol's void with 24 points and eight rebounds. Still, ESPN's John Ireland thought Bynum could've done better on the glass.

-- The O.C. Register's Kevin Ding uses the Lakers' victory to illustrate why owner Jerry Buss should be commended for investing in a roster worth $91.3 million. Even though Odom's off-season contract negotiations took longer than both parties would've liked, it ultimately worked out. "I think more long term with this team and that’s the reason I came back here and wanted to resign here," Odom said after the game. "I know these opportunities will pay off in June."

-- The Lakers say they aren't worried that Kobe Bryant needs to get only seven more technical fouls to draw a one-game suspension.

-- The Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen pointed out the Rockets' rope-a-dope strategy worked until the final 3 1/2 minutes of regulation, and The Times' Mark Heisler wrote the Rockets' gritty play couldn't overcome a poor shooting night.

-- Clippers center Chris Kaman says his team can beat the Lakers, despite losing nine consecutive times to the defending NBA champs.

Tweet of the day: "Love that @Lakers Josh Powell mocked Lebron by going to score table, pretended to grab powder and throw it in air, then did jig" -- DuranLA (710 ESPN's Beto Duran).

-- Mark Medina

Follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/latmedina.


Lakers are winning at a nice pace

The Lakers are moving along just nicely, inching closer to producing a fabulous record in the NBA.

The best-ever?

That remains to be seen, seeing as how the 72-10 record the Chicago Bulls set during the 1995-96 season came because of how good that team was and how driven it was with Michael Jordan leading the way.

The Lakers have the best record in the NBA at 22-4. This is signficant in that the Lakers were 21-5 after 26 games last season, so they are ahead of last season's pace, which resulted in a 65-17 mark and an NBA championship.

One difference is that the Lakers had already played 11 road games last season. The Lakers have played nine games away from Staples Center this season. They are 7-2 on the road.

The Lakers just finished a four-game trip with a 4-0 record.

It was harrowing only in that the Lakers had to go into overtime to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks and in that they had a difficult time getting to Detroit for Sunday night's game.

After the Lakers defeated the New Jersey Nets Saturday night, they took a bus to Newark Airport from the Izod Arena in East Rutherford. N.J. 

Nornally that would be about a 20-minute drive. But because of a severe snowstorm, it took the Lakers about an hour to get to the airport -- and that was with an escort.

Not only did the Lakers have to travel slowly because of the horrible road conditions, but there were cars stopped ahead of them that slowed the process.

The Lakers landed in Detroit about 3 a.m. Sunday and got to their hotel about an hour later.

Well, at least they made it.

None of the four traveling Lakers' beat writers made it to the game.

All of them were hoping to get home by Monday, Tuesday at the latest.


-- Broderick Turner

What's the only thing worse than Joey Crawford reffing a game?

Crawford and Fisher A game reffed by some scab looking to make his bones as "Joey Crawford 2.0."  Apparently, such a scenario ain't entirely far fetched.

ESPN's Marc Stein is reporting that the contract between the NBA referees and the NBA will expire on Sept. 1, and the two parties are quite some distance apart on a few matters, one such being a proposed ten percent cut on the budget allotted for officials. 

As of now, according to one of Stein's sources, the refs ready to sit out the upcoming season.  I believe that about as much as I bought the reports about Kobe's willingness to sit out the entire 2007-2008 season.  The source also added that the league could be taking a hard line stance to set a tone for the CBA talks recently underway with the Player's Union.  That I find kinda believable.  (And man, would I love to be a fly on the wall during those meetings!)
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Happy (kinda) 60th birthday NBA!!!

60 Cool little factoid of which I was previously unaware: On this day sixty years ago, the NBA was- to some degree- "born."  As SI's Steve Aschburner explains, the league is considered 63-years old by some roundball historians, what with the official formation of the Basketball Association of America.  However, professional basketball didn't really come into its own- or simply carry the "NBA" name- until the BAA merges with the higher profile (but still in need of a goosing) National Basketball League on August 3, 1949.  Or until Slava Medvedenko entered the league, depending on your ability to think outside the box.

I'm not enough of a true "expert" to debate Aschburner's take on the truly proper date to give the Association a cake.  But hey, unless you have something bigger to celebrate today- perhaps the anniversary of Tiberius defeating the Dalmatians on the River Bathinus, although that's such a cliched, commercialized reason to party- why not send the league a "happy, happy?"

Aschburner also concocted a cool list of basketball by the numbers 1-60, definitely worth checking out if you loves you some trivia.  Below the jump are the digits involving the Lakers on some level.  As one might imagine, purple and gold are two very well represented colors.

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Flagrant foul information regarding Trevor Ariza

In talking yesterday with NBA Vice President of Communications Tim Frank about how Trevor Ariza's situation with Rudy Fernandez (and others similar)Ariza might be evaluated, I learned of a common misconception among fans, players, coaches, and media (yours truly included).  Whether someone makes a play on the ball isn't the determining factor in assessing a flagrant foul.  Or even "a" determining factor, really.  Instead, it's a matter of whether the contact itself was necessary and/or excessive. 

In a case like Trevor's, that can obviously get very dicey.  On one hand, the league rightfully wants to protect its players, and Fernandez is essentially a sitting (or flying) duck while airborne.  You don't want to see him get hurt.  On the other hand, where do you draw the line between contact acceptable vs. excessive?  Ariza obviously made contact with Fernandez's head, but he also came reasonably close to getting a block.  Another few inches one way or the other and he might have missed the ball, but also avoided Fernandez's head.  Either way, if he was able to come that close, it's understandable to me why he didn't feel compelled to just concede the basket.  Throw in the fact that Ariza really did appear more interested in Spalding hunting than hunting heads and it becomes an even tougher call. 

Frank didn't deny how difficult the process often is- I personally don't think there is a tougher sport to officiate than basketball, for what it's worth- and shares my happiness that such sequences get reviewed at the time (and also with time having passed, allowing emotions to simmer down).  It may not always lead to the "correct" call or one that makes fans happy, but it's an earnest attempt at justice. 

At any rate, for those wondering how a flagrant can get called after a player seems to be going after the ball, there you have it.

AK 

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