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Category: Josh Powell

The Times' Mike Bresnahan and Mark Medina tackle some Laker questions

The Lakers are officially underway. They're finally playing basketball, providing glimpses of how the roster might shape up and giving the fans of the L.A. Times' Lakers blog something to keep them from going insane (or so I hope).

But this is one game. As much as I detailed five things to take away from the Lakers' 111-92 loss Monday to the Minnesota Timberwolves, it's one exhibition game. I don't want to say my post was a waste of time to read and write, but you have to take it for what it is. The Lakers have seven remaining pre-season games and the ring ceremony/opening night isn't until Oct. 26 against Houston.

That leaves time for The Times' Mike Bresnahan and myself to dive into a few questions after the jump.

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Preseason question of the day: Will the Lakers manage to rest their starters enough this season for the playoffs?

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Whenever I hear the tired argument that Phil Jackson has won 11 championship rings simply because he's coached some of the league's best players, I offer a litany of responses.

Jackson knows how to manage egos: he properly assesses which players need their space, which players need positive reinforcement and which players respond well to criticism. Jackson knows how to keep his team relaxed: he properly assesses when to keep an even keel, when to express anger and when to maintain his sense of humor. And most importantly, Jackson knows how to get his team looking its best once the postseason begins: He properly assesses how to pace the team through the regular-season grind, when to dial the intensity down and when to raise the level up.

Surprisingly enough, the Lakers actually entered the 2010 postseason looking far from their best. Kobe Bryant (sprained right knee), Andrew Bynum (strained left Achilles tendon) and Sasha Vujacic (sprained left ankle) entered the postseason with significant injuries. The team had limped into the playoffs with a 4-7 mark in the last 11 regular season games. And because of the bench's inconsistency, it was unclear whether the Lakers would really have the depth to absorb injuries during the postseason.

Fortunately for the Lakers, everything turned out all right. They won the 2010 championship and the Lakers proved healthy enough to slog through June. It can't be stressed enough how instrumental the weeklong rest between the West semifinals (Utah) and the West finals (Phoenix) became in the Lakers' title run. After getting his knee drained following Game 5 of the first-round series against Oklahoma City, Bryant sat out practices entirely for the rest of the postseason. So  did Bynum, who had torn cartilage in his right knee and eventually drained his knee twice during the playoffs. And everyone else on the roster at least enjoyed catching their breath and recovering from the numerous dings they absorbed throughout the season.

It's a good thing they rested then because the Lakers didn't have the same luxury during the regular season. Although the team overcame that challenge, it's something they would much rather avoid doing. That's without a doubt one of the biggest preseason questions: how much rest will the Lakers starters receive during the regular season so they're at their full strength  during the playoffs?

 

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Caught in the Web: Matt Barnes asks for love from Laker fans

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-- The Times' DeAntae Prince details Magic Johnson's prediction that the Lakers will three-peat.

-- The Orange County Register's Janis Carr argues that Theo Ratliff will provide the Lakers with a defensive presence.

-- The Atlanta Journal Constitution's Christian Boone looks at how former Laker forward Josh Powell will fit into the Hawks' lineup.

-- NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper explains how Matt Barnes has patched things up with the Lakers.

-- Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins explains in the video below how much Barnes will help the Lakers.

-- Ball Don't Lie's Trey Kerby looks at Kobe Bryant and Barnes and the ready-made "boyfriend-and-girlfriend" heckle.

-- ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin believes Derrick Caracter has a good chance to crack a spot on the Lakers' roster.

--Hoopsworld's Eric Pincus analyzes the Lakers' roster.

-- Lakers.com's Mike Trudell talks with NBA.com's John Schuhmann about USA Basketball, including Lamar Odom.

-- The China Daily's Chen Xiangfeng says Bryant is struggling with accepting that he should do nothing this off-season so he can recover from injuries and fatigue.

-- Silver Screen and Roll's C.A. Clark has a report card on Jordan Farmar.

-- Forum Blue and Gold's Jeff misses Rick Fox.

Tweet of the Day: "Quick question?? All those LAKER fans that hated me you rolln or yall still cool on me.... Hahahaa We family now rite???????????????????????" -- matt_Barnes22 (Lakers forward Matt Barnes)

Reader Comment of the Day: "I disagree with what Magic Johnson said that the heat will win titles in 2 to 3 years.my personal take of this matter is as long as kobe is healthy and still playing probably 4-5 years more i think with the current lakers line-up as long as their all healthy the lakers will win it all" -- Adrian Palomar

-- Mark Medina

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

Photo: Former Orlando Magic forward Matt Barnes agreed to a two-year deal with the Lakers, turning down a more lucrative offer from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Credit: Elsa / Getty Images

Lakers' Josh Powell close to signing with the Atlanta Hawks

Josh Powell, who spent the last two seasons with the Lakers, is expected to join the Atlanta Hawks.

Hawks first-year Coach Larry Drew said, "that's about a done deal."

Powell's contract would be for one year for the veteran's minimum of $1.1 million. He'll probably sign it on Monday.

Powell played in 65 games last season and averaged 2.7 points and 1.8 rebounds.

Powell was the Lakers' fourth big man, which limited his minutes.

Drew said Powell can provide the Hawks with a lift off the bench at power forward.


-- Broderick Turner

Looking ahead to rest of Lakers' free-agency movement

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There's no such thing as a Lakers off-season, but there have been very few things that have caused the organization to stress out during the dog days of summer. Sure, there was the uncertainty on whether Phil Jackson would return, but he decided a week after considering retirement to stay for one more year. There were also a few questions on whether Derek Fisher would remain or join the super-team that is the Miami Heat. Other than that, it's all been clear skies.

Lakers fans have sneered at LeBron James and "The Decision," a move that makes the Heat a legitimate contender against the Lakers. But I believe the defending champs still remain the favorite for the 2010-11 season. Lakers fans have enjoyed some summer league action, with rookies Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter proving to be some of the top players thus far. And surely, Lakers fans have taken a break from basketball and enjoyed normal summer enjoyments such as the beach, sleeping in and doing nothing. For the sake of the blog's Web traffic numbers, I hope that's not the case. For the sake of everyone having a balanced life, I hope it's so.

The Lakers have their main corps intact, but that doesn't mean General Manager Mitch Kupchak can take vacation just yet. Among the items on the agenda

1. What to do with Shannon Brown

Brown opted out of his contract, but that was done with the hope that he could either get a long-term deal with the Lakers or see if his market value would give him a better financial deal than the $2.1 million he was going to make this season. Though The Times' Broderick Turner reported Brown has attracted interest from the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz, there's been little indication that he's been heavily sought. Nonetheless, the Lakers have considered keeping Brown as long as it's financially feasible because they like his upside and attitude. Nonetheless, The Times' Mike Bresnahan and Turner report the Lakers lately are considering letting him go.

2. Will Lakers pick up more free agents?

With the Lakers signing former Clipper guard Steve Blake to a four-year, $16-million deal and agreeing with Fisher to a three-year deal worth about $10.5 million, The Times reports that the Lakers have a total payroll worth $89.09 million. The NBA salary cap for the 2010-11 season will be at $58.04 million, while a dollar-for-dollary luxury tax threshold will kick in at $70.31 million. The Lakers also have $1.77 million left on their mid-level exception. With the Lakers needing to fill four more names to their roster, it's unclear how they'll do moving forward with the money constraints.

ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported that Bryant will meet Wednesday with free agent guard Raja Bell, adding more intrigue to their relationship, given the contentiousness they had in the 2006 playoffs, which serves as an integral reason why Bryant wants him. Acquiring Bell would instantly add a defensive presence to the backcourt, a variable the Lakers sorely lacked last season. Bresnahan and Turner have also indicated Shaun Livingston is an option, though he's had incredibly bad luck with injuries. Some Laker fans have wondered if Tracy McGrady is an option, but as McGrady indicated on his Twitter account the Lakers' front office hasn't contacted him. Tweeted McGrady: "laker nation is coming hard for me... no talks with front office yet tho."

3. What about Adam Morrison , D.J. Mbenga and Josh Powell?

Nothing new has been reported since, but it's been indicated that the Lakers don't expect to keep Morrison, Mbenga or Powell. Each brought great attitude and work ethic to practice, but didn't receive much playing time. Nonetheless, the Lakers haven't made any decisions.

4. How about the rookies?

Kupchak stressed after the NBA draft that he wouldn't just keep his draft picks because it'd save him money. They also had to be good. With Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter headlining summer league, Kupchak surely can count on them to help balance his checkbook. If the Lakers keep Ebanks and Caracter after training camp, The Times reports they could make $473,604 as rookie forwards.

--Mark Medina

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

Photo: Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak still has a busy off-season. Credit: Alex Gallardo / Los Angeles Times.

Poll questions surrounding the Lakers' off-season

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There's no such thing as an NBA off-season, especially when the Lakers' title run immediately follows with a championship parade in downtown L.A., exit interviews, the NBA draft and soon enough, free agency. The Lakers' likely won't produce another memorable off-season, such as Kobe Bryant's radio tour or Lamar Odom's prolonged negotiations. And it likely won't catch the nation's attention, as say, where LeBron James ends up. Still, there are plenty of things the team must deal with once free agency begins Thursday.

The first order of business involves Coach Phil Jackson, who said during his exit interview that he's leaning toward retirement, a sentiment he reiterated in Montana on Sunday after giving the keynote speech at the Western Governors' Assn. annual meeting. Still, he's not expected to officially make a decision until later in the week after he receives results from the medical tests he took last week that caused him to miss the championship parade. 

Although the Lakers' core -- Bryant, Odom, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Ron Artest -- are locked into long-term deals, they have several free-agents, including guard Derek Fisher. It appears the team unanimously wants Fisher back. Lakers guard Shannon Brown recently opted out of his contract, though the Lakers own his "early-bird" rights. Guard Jordan Farmar made it abundantly clear he wants out of L.A. And if it were up to D.J. Mbenga, Adam Morrison and Josh Powell, they'd remain Lakers, though The Times' Broderick Turner recently talked to an NBA executive who said the team doesn't plan to keep any of those three players. There's the interesting revelation, as reported by The Times' Mark Heisler, that said the Lakers are considering dumping Odom's salary a season after re-signing him to a four-year deal worth $34 million with a player option in the final season. And there's the contention from General Manager Mitch Kupchak that the team's most urgent need involves the backcourt.

The Lakers will answer at least some of these questions this week, but in the meantime, it's best to hear what fans of the L.A. Times' Lakers blog think will happen. After all, they live and breathe this team. And they'll be the first to attest that there is no such thing as a Lakers' off-season. Based on the poll results below, I'll then follow up with an analysis piece assessing how Lakers fans think everything will transpire once free agency begins.

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Josh Powell maintains positive attitude despite lack of playing time

Before every game, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant hears words of encouragement from teammate Josh Powell.

It sounds like a simple gesture, until you realize what the dynamic means. Bryant, one of the world's most recognizable players and the Lakers' franchise player, openly admits there's not many he allows within his inner circle. Yet, Powell, who averaged only 2.7 points in 9.2 minutes per game in the regular season and struggled in becoming an effective fourth big man, somehow has earned Bryant's respect. It all points to what Powell presents in practice where he's solidified his reputation for his hard work and positive attitude, two admirable qualities for a bench player whose opportunities remain scarce.

"Through my work ethic and my drive," Powell offered as reasons veterans, such as Bryant and Derek Fisher value their relationship with him.

Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak offered similar sentiments Friday in Powell's exit interview, an assessment Phil Jackson and his assistants outlined in note form since Jackson has already left for Montana to help clear his mind before deciding next week whether he'll retire or remain the Lakers' coach.

"He was understanding of the fact that the opportunities were less, but just saying I worked really hard and was a professional off the court," Powell said of the meeting with Kupchak.

It's unclear what Powell's future entails once he becomes a free agent Thursday. It if it were his call, he'd remain on the Lakers because of the two championship rings he's gotten, the learning experience and the appreciation he's felt from the team. Whether the Lakers cut Powell -- something an NBA executive told The Times' Broderick Turner the team will likely do -- or keep him, Powell says he isn't going to fret about his future.

"I'm just going to put it in God's hands and understand the organization has decisions they have to make," Powell said. "I understand it and respect it. I just have to make sure that no matter what, I'm ready, wherever it is I'm supposed to land next year."

It's the same mindset he carried as a reserve. Even if the constant work in practice yielded little in playing time, Powell wanted to show he could somehow contribute to the team. Even if his approach required extra work since limited minutes makes it harder to maintain a rhythm, he wanted to remain sharp in case he earned some run. Though Powell played a team-low 3.1 minutes per game in the playoffs, Jackson often said he'd feel most comfortable with Powell playing in the NBA Finals if Lamar Odom remained ineffective because of how alert Powell had been in practice.

Powell never received those kind of minutes Jackson envisioned, but he believes his attitude opened many eyes. It gave Jackson reason to consider playing him, Bryant a willingness to listen to him and other teammates to appreciate him. Whether or not the Lakers keep him remain another issue. But Powell said he felt at least comforted hearing the staff noticed his effort.

"We did our parts especially in practices to get the guys ready and make it competitive and go really hard," Powell said of himself and the bench. "Whatever we could do to help with the practice or the energy we brought in games, hopefully that was very helpful to the guys performing."

-- Mark Medina

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

Audio from Josh Powell's exit interview

Highlights from Josh Powell's exit interview: 

-- How Lakers Coach Phil Jackson and Powell's teammates appreciated his work ethic

-- How Powell stayed positive even without much playing time

-- Why he wants to stay with the Lakers

-- How he struck a close relationship with Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher

Josh Powell exit interview


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