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Round-the-Clock Purple and Gold

Category: Free agency

Mitch Kupchak still optimistic about Shannon Brown negotiations; says he doesn't know whether Kobe Bryant plans to have surgery on right index finger

Aside from Lakers forward Matt Barnes being introduced at a news conference Tuesday (he will wear No. 9), Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak shared two morsels of news regarding other off-season developments.

Kupchak maintained his optimism that he expressed last week that the team would re-sign Shannon Brown, who opted out of a contract that would have paid him $2.15 million next season.

"I do feel good about signing back Shannon Brown right now," Kupchak said. "It’s not going to go on for the whole summer. I would guess in the next week to 10 days we'll have a resolution. That’s my guess."

Kupchak also said he hasn't been told whether Lakers guard Kobe Bryant plans to have surgery to treat his injured right index finger, which initially became fractured and then developed arthritis around the knuckle.

"He continues to see doctors. I've not heard an update regarding a surgery. As the summer goes on, it’s less and less a possibility as you get closer and closer to training camp," Kupchak said.

The Lakers announced last week that Bryant had arthroscopic surgery the previous week on his right knee, an operation that Kupchak said "went well."

Part of the reason why the organization has been mum on details is because Bryant has been treated by medical staff outside of the team.

"Kobe's surgery was done by a physician other than a team physician," Kupchak said. "That just brings you a little bit further away. After 14 years, we've come to trust Kobe and his medical decisions. We're very in the loop with the type of surgery he had as well as the results of the surgery. We don't worry about Kobe with rehab. He's rehabbing with one of our people right now. One of the people he's working with is one of our most trusted therapists. That's all I know. The surgery went well. It wasn't a major surgery. He's mobile. He's getting therapy every day. We expect him back in training camp."

-- Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Highlighting Shannon Brown's dunks

The good news regarding Shannon Brown entails Mitch Kupchak's optimism that the Lakers will reach a deal and re-sign him. The bad news regarding Brown entails that there's no noise beyond crickets, as he's had to wait while the Lakers assemble their roster. Yet even with the free agent signings of Matt Barnes, Steve Blake and Theo Ratliff, Kupchak expects that the high-profile dunker will remain a Laker. I view that as a good move should it happen, though I'll admit I wonder how the minutes will be allocated given the off-season additions. But that's a topic for another day.

While Laker fans wait for the news to happen, they can at least enjoy the memorable dunks Brown has entertained them with for the past two seasons. It's not something Brown strictly wants to be known for and he wants to develop more parts to his game. And he quickly found out he couldn't channel those highlight reels into the 2010 NBA Dunk Contest. But hey, he'll admit the slams have given him a high profile. Hence,

-- Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Caught in the Web: Reaction to Chris Paul's interest in the Lakers


--The Times' Broderick Turner reports that Josh Powell is expected to join the Atlanta Hawks.

--True Hoop's Henry Abbott takes Magic Johnson to task for his proclamation that he wouldn't have tried to join a super team.'s David Aldridge reports that Powell will go to the Hawks on a one-year deal for the veterans minimum of $992,680

--CBS's Ken Berger reports that New Orleans guard Chris Paul wants to be traded to the Lakers, Knicks or Magic.

--The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding gives his take on Kobe Bryant's popularity and high earnings.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Brian Kamenetzky gives his thoughts on what Paul would bring to the Lakers.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin has details on Powell's likely departure.

--Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears believes that Lamar Odom may play at center during the FIBA World Championships.

--Fox Sports' Charley Rosen predicts that Odom will get plenty of playing time in the middle for Team USA.'s Mike Trudell breaks down how Pau Gasol will match up

--Forum Blue and Gold's Darius argues that money and availability of minutes will significantly influence whether the Lakers make any other free-agent acquisitions.

--Silver Screen and Roll's Gil Meriken gives his player report card on Luke Walton.

Tweet of the Day: "Another thing - if Kobe dominates the ball and paul dominates the ball and the coaches want pau to dominate the ball inside - 3 balls?" -- EricPincus (Hoopsworld's Eric Pincus)

Reader Comment of the Day: "This is actually a pretty complex situation. And the more I think about it, the more I think it's a more of preference. For one, it's a preference of style. Do you want the Lakers to be a more offensive team, or a more defensive team? With Bynum we get better defense. Rebounds and blocks, and a big presence in the paint that limits the movement of the ball (although I clearly remember Bynum being lost on defense at times.) We are also a much more physical team with Bynum. With CP3 we have an offensive monster of a team. With his vision, everyone gets a chance to score without using the triangle." -- RDlaker248

-- Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: New Orleans guard Chris Paul has reportedly expressed interest in joining the Lakers. Credit: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times

Caught in the Web: Lakers expect Andrew Bynum to report in time for training camp

54398148-- The Times' Broderick Turner reports that the Lakers expect Andrew Bynum to be 100% when he enters training camp, but the team will have a more definitive timetable after the surgery.

-- The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding believes Golden State is a good fit for Jeremy Lin as he'll get  lots of playing time.

-- Pro Basketball Talk's Kurt Helin says Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan's contention that they wouldn't join together to be part of a super team needs some context. They were already on teams with supporting casts.

-- ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin notes that Bynum originally planned to have the surgery around July 18.

--'s Shaun Powell argues the Lakers are the NBA's "healthiest franchise."

--'s Sekou Smith picks the Lakers as the best team in the Western Conference heading into next season.

--'s Marc Stein reports the Lakers remain in the hunt for Matt Barnes.

-- The Oakland Tribune's Marcus Thompson II reports that Lin is close to signing a two-year deal with the Warriors.

-- AOL Fanhouse's Chris Tomasson observes that the NBA is going through a power shift from the West to the East.

--'s Mike Trudell reports that Bynum's left Achilles' tendon is fully healed.

-- Forum Blue and Gold's Phillip breaks down what Lamar Odom needs to do to make Team USA.

Tweet of the Day: "Lamar said he got a lot of rest since finals - use this camp to get back in shape - help the younger kids since now years later he's the vet" -- EricPincus (Hoopsworld's Eric Pincus)

Reader Comment of the Day: "Jeremy Lin had a pretty good showing in Summer League but as has already been mentioned, SO DID SMUSH PARKER. lol so Summer League must be taken with a (rather large) grain of salt." -- Dan_NBAExpert

-- Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Lakers center Andrew Bynum loses control of the ball as he drives to the hoop between Celtics big men Rasheed Wallace (30) and Kevin Garnett during the first quarter of Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Jeremy Lin would help Lakers even if it complicates their backcourt

It only took a strong showing in the Las Vegas Summer League to create enough buzz to get Lakers fans excited. But that's what happens when Jeremy Lin of the Dallas Mavericks held his own against No. 1 draft pick John Wall, the Lakers need to bolster their backcourt and, well, fans don't know what to do with themselves other than talk basketball during the off-season.

But, as reported by ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin, the talk surrounding Lin, an undrafted guard from Harvard, isn't just a pipe dream. The Lakers' interest in Lin is real as the two parties continue to be in negotiations. It remains unclear whether this will happen, if Lin is just picked up for training camp or if he's only given a training-camp contract.

If Lin were to join the team, however, the 6-foot-3, 200-pound guard would bolster the backcourt even if it'd complicate the rotation. That's because the Lakers would carry six guards and affect the roles of Shannon Brown and Sasha Vujacic. If Lin joined the team, the chances that Brown would come back would be fairly slim. But it would also eat into Vujacic's playing time, which I think will actually prove valuable considering he's entering a contract year.

With Lin's Draft Express Profile suggesting thathe has a mastery of the game, strong playmaking abilities and good judgment, his presence would significantly bolster the Lakers' backcourt because he'd serve as a youthful option to a unit that is aging. But with the same profile mentioning Lin could improve his athleticism and Summer League results need to be viewed skeptically, the Lakers are going to need to make some concessions. Are they confident Brown can mold into more than a dunker? Or do they think Brown just doesn't have the skill-set to play consistently? Are they confident Lin's dazzling performances will translate to success with the Lakers? Or do they think he still needs some experience before they consider taking him?

I mentioned last week why the Lakers should re-sign Brown, and despite Lin's play during Summer Leauge, I stick to that position. Still, if the Lakers opt for Lin, the acquisition would shelp the Lakers reach their goal of improving their backcourt. Lin also carries a background that the Lakers would embrace given their media market and international presence. Lin, who's Taiwanese, would become the first American born Asian to play in the NBA since Rex Walters and Wat Misaka. The Lakers already boast plenty of international flavor with Pau Gasol (Spain), Vujacic (Slovenia) and D.J. Mbenga (Democratic Republic of Congo), though it's unclear the Lakers are going to keep Mbenga. Lakers guard Kobe Bryant has made plenty of trips to Asia, sharing basketball know-how with kids while promoting his shoe as well as for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and has developed a strong appreciation for Asian culture. In that respect, Lin would be immediately embraced.

Surely, Lin would go through some challenges, but his background has shown he's managed to overcome those. After winning a state championship at Palo Alto High, he couldn't even get a Division I scholarship. Yet, he excelled at Harvard and made the All-Ivy League first team twice. Lin went undrafted, but still managed to create buzz off his Summer League performances. We'll find out soon enough what choice the Lakers wind up making, whether they pick up the hot prospect or stick with Brown. Even if Lin doesn't show up in El Segundo next season, he can be comforted in knowing he's at least done something right. And that is giving the Lakers and their fans something to talk about during the dog days of the off-season.

--Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Caught in the Web: Lakers show interest in Jeremy Lin; live chat at 1 p.m.

We'll have a live chat at 1 p.m. to talk all about the off-season, which very likely will mostly involve Harvard guard Jeremy Lin.

We will be trying a new chat format, G-Snap, which involves registration using a number of options, including regular sign-in, Twitter, Facebook and Yahoo. I figured it would be better to work out any kinks with a new format during the dog days of summer than, say, when the Lakers are having their ring ceremony. I appreciate everyone's patience and cooperation with adjusting to new chats.

On to the Lakers links.....

-- ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin reports the Lakers are interested in Lin as a backup.

--'s David Aldridge reports Matt Barnes is leaving Orlando for Toronto, meaning that's one more free agent the Lakers won't have. But's Marc Stein reported financial issues may could "scuttle the deal."

-- ESPN Los Angeles' Andy Kamenetzky breaks down what Lin would provide to the Lakers.

-- Pro Basketball Talk's John Krolik has a pretty comprehensive analysis on Lin's game.

-- Lin told KESN-FM in Dallas he'd love to stay with the Mavericks.

-- The Orange County Register's Jeff Miller believes the criticism surrounding LeBron James' decision to go to Miami is overblown.

--'s Dana O'Neill profiles Lin.

-- The Orange County Register's Doug Tifft paints a picture in words of the Laker Girls tryouts.

-- Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins says in the video below that the Lakers addressed their needs the most this off-season.

--'s Mike Trudell lists the Lakers' top 10 plays in the 2010 postseason.

-- Forum Blue and Gold's Darius argues the Lakers need to re-sign Shannon Brown.

-- Silver Screen and Roll's DexterFishmore believes Lin would be a good fit for the Lakers.

Tweet of the Day: "Sasha [Vujacic] to Matt Kemp 'you don't want to warm up with me? cmon' " -- DuranLA (710 ESPN's Beto Duran)

Reader Comment of the Day: "If we had let [Lamar] Odom go, we couldn’t have signed or traded for anybody else. There wouldn’t have been anyone else to come in and play his minutes, get his rebounds, do any of the million things he does. There shouldn’t be any disagreement about that. Sure, there will be, around here, but there shouldn’t" -- phred

-- Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Laker fans content with how the off-season is shaping up


There's never a moment that goes by in which fans of the L.A. Times Lakers blog aren't discussing possible trades, both real and imagined. When free agency kicked into gear on July 1, the talk escalated even more, turning to speculation and criticism on where LeBron James would be heading, whether Phil Jackson would return as head coach, the likelihood Derek Fisher would remain a Laker and whether the Lakers could pick up a few free agents.

When it comes to the off-season, usually it is the basement dwellers and teams that cleared up cap space that dominate free-agency discussions because they have the resources and needs to make some signings before the regular season begins. As far as the Lakers are concerned, the defending champions can afford the luxury of not needing to make the biggest splash. Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak remarked shortly after free agency began that he'd much prefer this quieter setting than having to stay glued to ESPN's ticker as one of the main active participants. It's also certainly a lot less stressful these days than when a guy named Kobe Bryant went on a radio tour three years ago, changing his mind every few hours on whether he wanted the Lakers to trade him.

The Lakers' off-season has resembled the clear skies and perfect beaches that define summer in L.A., while the shuffling Eastern Conference movement seems to have only increased the humidity over there. Yet,'s Scott Howard-Cooper made a convincing case that the Lakers have become even better this off-season, a dangerous sign considering they're the defending champions. Even with Laker fans never running out of trade scenarios (some seriously want Shaq to come back?), their sentiment shows a general satisfaction with how the Lakers' off-season has transpired thus far. That's a scary thing considering recent poll results show that 95% believe the Lakers will win a third consecutive championship and 90% point consider them the favorite to win the 2011 NBA title.

Sure, some fans expressed some concern over the Miami Heat's busy off-season, with 53.5% of them considering the Heat the Eastern Conference's most dangerous team after they retained Dwyane Wade and signed LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller. There was also 65% of fans who believed Oklahoma City Thunder could give the Lakers fits after the team signed Kevin Durant to a five-year extension. But there's very little that's giving Laker fans doubts about their chances to three-peat.

While some of that points to the fact the Lakers are back-to-back champions, some of it points to the team's moves it made this off-season. Some off-season activity actually just involved retaining their corps, but that's huge considering that's the personnel that put the Lakers in this position. The majority of Laker fans -- 51.4% -- gave the team's off-season moves a B, while 24.7% gave the Lakers an A.

The reasons are fairly obvious. One, Jackson decided to coach one more season, with 96.8% of fans arguing that Jackson's staying will significantly influence the Lakers' chances of three-peating. Two, veteran guard Fisher reached a three-year deal with the Lakers, with 88% believing Fisher will continue to make clutch shots and provide a valuable locker room presence during the rest of his stay with the team. And third, the Lakers acquired free-agent guard Steve Blake, with 80% predicting he will provide the perfect ingredient for the Lakers' aging backcourt.

The Lakers losing Jordan Farmar to New Jersey and failing to acquire free-agent guard Raja Bell resulted in fans expressing a collective shrug. In fact, the fans didn't feel strongly one way or the other about Farmar or Bell. About 67.3% of fans say Farmar's departure won't significantly help or hurt the Lakers, while 64% of fans argued Bell needed the Lakers more than they needed Bell. After all, the Lakers can still pursue other free agents, though they only have $1.8 million remaining on the mid-level exception. Still, that's not preventing fans from drawing up scenarios. There's a strong sentiment toward the Lakers acquiring Matt Barnes (34.5%) or Tracy McGrady (32%), though the exact percentages may have changed with reader comments suggesting there's high interest for Harvard guard Jeremy Lin. (ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin reports Lin has been in contact with the Lakers.) There's also strong enthusiasm for rookies Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter, with 94% pegging them as the best players on the Lakers' summer league team and predicting they'll land a spot on the roster.

Nothing is all clear skies for Laker fans though, as their concerns go beyond free agency. Their concerns mostly point to the current roster and how healthy they'll be coming into next season. There's 20% of fans who are worried about Andrew Bynum's health. He played through torn cartilage in his right knee for most of the playoffs and planned to get surgery sometime in mid-July, though it hasn't been reported whether Bynum's undergone the procedure or changed his timetable. There's 17% of fans who want Kobe Bryant to take it easy. They're comforted by the fact that he opted to skip the FIBA World Championships this summer in Turkey, but fans are wondering whether Bryant will finally get surgery on his index finger, which was fractured for most of the season and then experienced arthritis around the knuckle of his finger. Although Bryant shared in his exit interview he was open to have surgery, he hasn't publicly announced what he's going to do.

Those questions will be answered another day. But for now, Laker fans are basking in the sun, enjoying the Larry O'Brien trophy and loving that their championship roster remains mostly intact.

-- Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: The Lakers' acquisition of guard Steve Blake was one of many moves the team made this off-season. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

What would you do if you were Mitch Kupchak for a day?


The Lakers' off-season is nearly complete, but it remains one of those things where it seems like forever before all the ts are crossed and i's are dotted. Will Shannon Brown return? Are there any free agents the Lakers can still pick up? Are there any legitimate summer league prospects that will make the team roster?

Those are all questions Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak has to take care of while the rest of us get enjoy the the summer going to the beach, hitting the gym, going to Disneyland, sleeping in and of course re-watching, over and over, the Lakers' NBA Finals. While Kupchak is busy making those decisions, there of course are fans at the L.A. Times Lakers blog proposing what he should be doing.

You guys never shy from suggesting trades, who to cut and what to do, so this should be an interesting exercise. Imagine you are Kupchak for a day and say what you would do. You can do this in a variety of formats. You can give a running diary of Kupchak's activities and the supposed events and conversations that take place through the day. You can suggest what off-season movements you would take if you were in his shoes. You can really do anything.

The best answers will be featured in a separate blog post besides the morning links post. I'm sure plenty of readers will have some ideas that will be good enough to feature Sunday.

--Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected].

Photo: Imagine you're in Mitch Kupchak's shoes. What would you do? Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times.

Keeping Shannon Brown would be a good move for the Lakers


Throughout the free-agency period, it appeared Shannon Brown's future with the Lakers swung like a pendulum.

That wasn't because the Lakers had mixed feelings about what Brown could bring to the team. The organization equally has valued his athleticism, upside, attitude, and of course, dunks, and believe the aforementioned qualities trump the defensive lapses and inconsistency in offensive execution. It was just that Brown's future hinged on plenty of variables beyond his control, including whether Derek Fisher would return to the team and for how much, whether the Lakers could attract a free-agent guard and who else might leave the team..

Well, the picture appears a little bit clearer now. Fisher re-signed with the team, agreeing to a three-year deal worth about $10.5 million. The Lakers signed former Clipper guard Steve Blake to a four-year, $16-million deal, and he presumably will serve as Fisher's backup. The Lakers' efforts to acquire free-agent guard Raja Bell ended with Bell canceling a dinner meeting with Kobe Bryant. And Jordan Farmar left the Lakers and accepted a three-year, $12-million offer to play for the New Jersey Nets.

That doesn't mean Brown will definitely be on the 2010-2011 roster, but the offseason developments at least help his chances. The Times' Broderick Turner reported the Lakers and Brown are still in negotiations after he opted out of the final year of his contract that would've paid him $2.1 million. Brown's agent, Mark Bartelstein, told Turner that "hopefully in the next few days we'll get something done."

For both the sake of the Lakers and Brown, it would be in their interest that Brown remains on the team. Despite opting out of his contract, the move reflected Brown's hope to test the open market and reach a long-term deal after spending his first four seasons in the NBA with four different teams. I recently criticized Bell's decision to join the Jazz, and even some Lakers fans disagreed with my assessment that his option to go for a more expensive and longer deal seemed misguided because he has the best chance to win an NBA title with the Lakers. I don't have the same opinion toward Brown's decision simply because Brown is at the beginning of his career and it'd be unclear if one more year would significantly bolster his development enough to spur the Lakers into keeping him for the long term. Meanwhile, Bell is already developed and surely could've extended his stay a season or two with the Lakers if he helped the team to another title. Nonetheless, Brown made it clear during his exit interview that he'd love to stay with the Lakers because of the talent around him.


The Lakers, meanwhile, have seen Brown grow tremendously since acquiring him last season, along with Adam Morrison, from Charlotte for Vladimir Radmanovic. Since then, Brown has become a fan favorite for his acrobatic dunks, with the website documenting them, and impressing the Lakers enough to sign him to a two-year, $4.2-million contract before last season began. When Brown was selected for the NBA Dunk Contest, Bryant and Brown agreed that the honor points to the hard work he's put in since joining the team.

Still, as much as Brown reveled in the attention his serious hang time generates, he's never wanted to be pigeonholed as a dunker. One needs to look no further than how his disappointing performance in the dunk contest preceded a dip in numbers after the All-Star break. After 10 points per game on 40.2% shooting in February, Brown's numbers went down to 7.3 points per game on a 38.5% clip before rebounding to an 11.3 points per game average in April. Nonetheless, Brown's averages in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons (3.2 points in 7.6 minutes per game, 8.1 points in 20.7 minutes per game) clearly show that Brown's on the right track.

Even though Brown hasn't completely mastered the offense and frequently gets beat on defensive rotations, those lapses point more to his development than any effort problems. And thanks to Brown's willingness to put in the work needed to fix those problems, the Lakers' decision to keep him would serve as a logical choice to help their long-term future.

-- Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Shannon Brown. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times.

Photo: Brown soon became a fan favorite because of his high-flying dunks. Credit: Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times

Boxer Andre Berto suggests Trevor Ariza may have regretted leaving the Lakers


Over dinner a few weeks ago, boxer Andre Berto met up with former Laker Trevor Ariza to catch up. But one of the topics Berto made sure not to broach involved the Lakers' 2010 championship and whether Ariza ultimately regretted going to Houston.

"We didn't want to touch all that," Berto said in a brief interview before hosting Knockout Comedy Night on Tuesday at L.A. Live's Conga Room, an event that raised money for Haitian relief efforts. "We were just hanging out."

Still, Berto, a Lakers fan who said he's known Ariza well for a "few years now," sensed that Ariza missed his old stomping grounds.

"He's handling it," Berto said when I asked him if he had a sense on how Ariza felt about going to Houston and missing out on a second championship ring. "I don't know if he felt it was his best decision, but he's handling the situation."

I had hoped to get Ariza's take since he was a confirmed guest and planned to host the event with Berto, but he was a no-show. I had also hoped to clarify conflicting reports since his departure on what actually spurred the movement -- whether the Lakers' acquisition of Ron Artest essentially forced Ariza out or whether the Lakers had acted knowing that Ariza would sign with Houston. Nonetheless, The Times' Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner reported at the time that Ariza agreed to a five-year, $33-million deal with Houston after the Lakers came to terms with Artest. Ariza told The Times then that he was "happy with my decision," but that was before many events transpired.

There were the endless comparisons between Artest and Ariza, his argument via Twitter with Artest's brother, Daniel, and missing out on a championship ring. Even if Berto doesn't have a true gauge on how Ariza's felt about everything, it's at least telling he felt sensitive enough not to broach the subject.

-- Mark Medina

-- Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Boxer Andre Berto suggested Trevor Ariza may have regretted leaving the Lakers. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times.



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