The Times' Lakers beat writers Mike Bresnahan and Ben Bolch, as well as myself, all agree on one thing: The Lakers won't win the NBA championship. They also won't even make it to the NBA Finals.
Before you pelt us all with tomatoes, don't get mad at us. Get mad at the Lakers for fielding a veteran-laden roster and trading away Lamar Odom. After reading our explanations below, you'll also understand we have pretty good reason to feel pretty pessimistic about the purple and gold.
What will be Lakers' regular season record?
Bresnahan: We all know the Lakers are an old team. We all know it's a compressed schedule. I think I know what this means. 42-24 sounds about right.
Bolch: 46-20. They still have one of the top cores in the NBA with Kobe, Bynum, and Gasol. But they're not an unbeatable team as they appeared to be in the past three seasons. Kobe's getting older. Gasol was halfway out the door. And the depth isn't there anymore.
Medina: 44-22. Forget the Lakers' motivation from the poor showing in last season's playoffs and apparent willingess to buy into Mike Brown. The Lakers have too many issues, and not enough time to correct them.
For far too long, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame each year has announced an induction list that left out one important name: Tex Winter.
It left plenty of people confused and frustrated about why Winter's role as a key architect of the triangle offense didn't warrant a spot in the Hall of Fame beyond his "contributor" tag. Former Chicago Bulls General Manager Jerry Krause resigned from the committee in protest. Former Lakers Coach Phil Jackson campaigned for Winter's inclusion through letter-writing and comments in the media, but said he believed Winter wouldn't get in because he "outlived his contemporaries." Lakers guard Kobe Bryant argued testily that "they should fire the whole panel" because of the snub. And Winter's son, Chris, once told reporters that his father had received seven nominations to be inducted, though the limit is supposed to be five, efforts that hardly worked out.
Winter will be among those inducted Friday at Springfield, Mass., and Jackson will be his presenter. Winter didn't sound entirely thrilled about the news when he initially learned about it, telling reporters he was irritated because the stroke he suffered two years ago will prevent him giving his own speech. Longtime Lakers author Roland Lazenby, who's known Winter since his days as a Chicago Bulls assistant coach, argues that the new inductee has been wrongfully overlooked in the past because he mostly has been an assistant coach in the NBA, but that at least the snub didn't last forever.
"There was a little bit of loosening in attitude," said Lazenby, who's written about Winter extensively in books such as "Mind Games: Phil Jackson's Long Strange Journey" and "Mad Game: The NBA Education of Kobe Bryant." "But you couldn't be sure. He had been turned down so much."
Lazenby hit on a number of topics in the audio clip above. Click below the jump for the highlights
The buzz surrounding the Lakers' draft night proved pretty low key.
Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak indicated uncertainty on whether any of the team's second-round draft picks at 41, 46, 56 and 58 would actually make the roster. There was more talk about the Lakers' reported attempts to trade Lamar Odom than who they'd actually select in the draft. And team officials and the media alike seemed more interested in musing about Ron Artest's attempt to legally change his name to "Metta World Peace" than any of the draft developments.
Still, the Lakers made solid pickups, particularly in their first two picks -- the University of Michigan's Darius Morris and College of Charleston's Andrew Goudelock -- two players that have the potential to help solve the Lakers' backcourt issues.
Morris spent a few minutes of draft night speaking on a conference call with a contingent of L.A. media, but to follow more in depth on what Morris' presence might mean for the Lakers, I brought in AnnArbor.com's Michael Rothstein, who covered Morris during his two seasons with the Wolverines and has plenty of insight on him.
In a secret location somewhere in the city of Los Angeles, I stumbled upon a conference room with my colleagues Mike Bresnahan and Brad Turner. Like in Office Space, we were supposed to go over our TPS reports, talk about the company's policies on putting cover sheets over them and figure out who keeps stealing our office supplies. But then we got bored.
So we talked hoops, previewed the Lakers-Hornets first-round playoff series, explained why BT is excited about visiting his hometown of New Orleans and why all three of us believe the Lakers won't have a problem advancing to the Western Conference semifinals.
Among the highlights of our roundtable discussion
--BT explains why he's unsure of the Lakers' identity entering the postseason.
--Bresnahan isn't concerned one bit about how the Lakers match up with the Hornets
--We each offer our prediction and wagers
--And, of course, Brez talks about his playing days as a tight end on Buckley High's eight-man football team. You can ask him more about it when he hosts a live chat Friday at 11 a.m.
If the Lakers had it their way, the playoffs would begin already.
There'd be no anxieties over homecourt advantage implications, with the Lakers currently in second place in the West with a two-game lead over Dallas, a one-game edge over Oklahoma City and in a tie with the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics. There'd be no more wondering whether their four-game losing streak comes at exactly the wrong time. And there'd be few charges from Coach Phil Jackson questioning the team's professionalism.
But there are still three games to play and the Lakers at least have to be in attendance. The Lakers' game Sunday at Staples Center against Oklahoma City should have plenty of intrigue, however. Besides the standings implications, the Lakers have never matched up with the Thunder since it acquired Kendrick Perkins. The Lakers believe the Thunder gave them enough of a test in the 2010 playoffs. But the veteran, tested and physical presence that Perkins provided for Boston only elevates OKC's play. Plus there's the whole controversy surrounding Perkins' comments about Pau Gasol being soft, so don't expect another Lakers mail-it-in effort. Or at least we think.
There's plenty to discuss regarding this game, and the Oklahoman's Darnell Mayberry shared his time to break it down.
Among the highlights:
--Mayberry says Perkins hasn't spoken about Gasol since making his initial comments to ESPN The Magazine. But Mayberry made it clear Perkins has stood behind his statement.
With the Lakers entering Friday's game against Portland on a three-game losing streak that's mostly pointed to a disinterest in the regular season, both the defending champions and their fans are surely hoping they can just fast forward to the playoffs.
There's another reason why they should be hoping time accelerates to April 17, the first day of the postseason. Should the Lakers and Blazers meet up in the first round of the playoffs, the Columbian's Matt Calkins and I will treat fans at The Times' Lakers blog to plenty of preview analysis, including segments that consist of us of rapping about the teams. But that will have to hold off for now.
Among the highlights of my interview with Calkins:
-- He reacts to Magic Johnson's suggestion that Portland would be the Lakers' toughest possible first-round opponent because of the "hate factor."
-- Calkins, a native Angeleno and former writer at the Riverside Press-Enterprise, shares what the Blazers and their fans dislike most about the Lakers.
Much has changed since our last chat with The Denver Post's Benjamin Hochman. He no longer has to run 40-yard sprints in 6.71 seconds to track down Carmelo Anthony in the latest saga of Melodrama. He's actually seen the Nuggets play defense, playing good enough to set up a first-round matchup as a fifth seed against Oklahoma City. And, of course, the Lakers are playing much better as well, going 17-1 since the All-Star break and entering Sunday's matchup with the Nuggets with a season-best nine-game winning streak.
Among the highlights with my conversation with Hochman:
--How the Nuggets have changed since they traded Anthony to the Knicks and how Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari
--Why Hochman believes the Nuggets could beat the Thunder in the first-round
--How the Nuggets are in a balancing act in resting Aaron Affalo's strained left hamstring for the playoffs, but ensuring they keep a lead over Portland in the standings.
--Why the Nuggets playing tough against the Lakers would be needed for an upset
--How Hochman fared against NBA.com's Aaron Lopez in a race.
--You can follow more of Hochman's work at the Denver Post's website and on Twitter.