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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Is Kupchak That Bad?

Is Mitch Kupchak, GM of the Los Angeles Lakers, that bad? Two writers support and defend him.

Bill Plaschke from the Los Angeles Times writes about how he'll be cheering for Kupchak this season after endearing the public ripping down of by Kobe Bryant, Phil Jackson, and the Laker fans. He challenges him the figure out how to help this team be more of a contender.

Travis Heath of Hoopsworld likes the small tweaks of this season and the players from the past that Kupchak has drafted. He talks about the young players progressing, and even says that Coby Karl will be a very nice player and will likely beat out Sasha Vujacic for playing time.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Bryant Expected For Lakers Training Camp

The Lakers media day starts on Monday before the Lakers head to Hawaii for training camp that will start on Tuesday. Team spokesman John Black says, "Without mentioning specific names, appropriate people in our organization have been in contact with Kobe, and we have no reason to believe he won't be in Hawaii for training camp."

This, along with a posting on Bryant's official site would seem to indicate that he will show up. From his site: "The countdown to tipoff is on. Summer is gone, fall is upon us and that can mean only one thing: NBA training camps are just around the corner. While some teams are holding their media days today, the Lakers will invite the media to their practice facility on Monday and will depart shortly after for training camp in Hawaii. kb24.com will be at media day to bring you the sights and sounds as the team prepares to kick off the 2007-2008 season." It has also been reported that Bryant has also set up a time for his pre-camp physical exam.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

More On The Odom/Marion Deal

As a followup to the report that the Lakers and Suns have been working on a deal involving Lamar Odom and Shawn Marion, it is still being worked on, and is not done yet. The holdup seems to be that Marion wants an extension, which would be in the $65 million range over three years, and the Lakers are wary of giving the extension. Marion didn't get the extension that he was looking for in Phoenix. If the trade does go down and the Lakers didn't give Marion an extension, Marion could become a free agent after this season, and possibly leave, meaning that the Lakers will have lost both Odom and Marion.

Marion has said that he "wants the deal to go down, and he sounded genuinely excited about the possibility of changing scenery. Marion also said he spoke with Kobe Bryant over the weekend and was left with the impression that Bryant supported the trade." If Marion does not end up getting traded, he has said that he will still show up for training camp with Phoenix.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Odom To The Suns For Marion?

The Lakers and the Suns are discussing a trade that would bring Shawn Marion to the Lakers, while sending back Lamar Odom and filler (most likely Brian Cook to make the salaries work) to the Phoenix Suns. The Suns are unwilling to give Marion a contract extension, which is part of why he wouldn't mind leaving the Suns. The source says:

"One sticking point with the Suns is that Marion was told that if he does opt out, he will not be re-signed. Another goes back to before the draft, when the Suns had a deal in place to send Marion to the Celtics -- Boston had agreed to extend his contract if the trade went through. 'I didn't like that,' Marion said. 'It was like they were trying to force my hand by taking the Boston deal. I have been with this team my whole career. I was like, wow.'

I asked if the team's refusal to give him an extension played into his unhappiness with the team. 'It was part of it,' Marion said. 'It's not like that was the last straw or anything. It was just part of everything that has gone on. People have made assumptions about me, but I don't think all those people know everything that has gone on.'"

The trade helps both teams. The Suns get the better all-around player in Odom. Odom adds more height than Marion, and Odom is a better playmaker, helping to relieve Steve Nash. The Lakers get a more consistent player in Marion. Marion is more high energy, and plays better defense, which the Lakers definitely need. The deal is being called a 50/50 chance of going down. If this deal goes down, both teams get help that they are looking for.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Open Letter To Lakers Guard Coby Karl

Here's a funny article from the Los Angeles Times' Lakers Blog:

"Dear Coby:

So here's the deal. Mitch Kupchak has expressed a desire to cap the roster at 14, in case a veteran they'd like to add becomes available down the stretch. There are 14 players with guaranteed contracts. Yours is only partially guaranteed. And while such deals have worked out for Lakers past (Smush Parker) and present (Ronny Turiaf), the roster makeup isn't nearly in your favor as it was for them. Sure, you had a nice Summer Pro League in Vegas, complete with a 20-point game, a blazing 47% clip from behind the arc and some nice all-around skills. Then again, you battled the likes of former Lakers scrub Jelani McCoy, '06 Lakers SPL foul machine Eddy Fobbs and Lakers Blog icon Von Wafer, who was likely too busy mapping out his next five shots to guard anyone. It would be understandable if the powers that be weren't necessarily convinced that showing merits clearing space for you via trade or waive. Thus, you're gonna have to wow them in a big, bad way.

Since I'm all about rooting for the underdog, I've been brainstorming strategies for making that 'wow' happen. Then I noticed how you haven't been issued a number yet, according to the Lakers website, and it hit me. You want Mitch, Phil Jackson and the Buss family to know that nothing intimidates you? That you're ready to make your presence known with a ginormous splash?

Request to wear No. 8.

Do it, man."

Read the rest of the article here.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Lakers Ranked 13th In West In Offseason Moves

The Lakers didn't meet up to the high expectations that fans had this offseason. Because of that, they were ranked 13th in the Western Conference for offseason moves. Laker fans were crossing their fingers that Kevin Garnett would force his way to the Lakers after hearing him say that he likes L.A. and has a house in the area, but Garnett would end up going to the Boston Celtics. When Jermaine O'Neal said he was open to a trade, fans hoped it would be to the Lakers. The Lakers still have a standing offer from the Indiana Pacers to get O'Neal for Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum, but the Lakers aren't willing to give up that much.

The Lakers did get Derek Fisher back, which was very unexpected. The Lakers also made a very nice draft pick in the first round with Javaris Crittenton, also picking Sun Yue and Marc Gasol to keep overseas for at least a year. Luke Walton and Chris Mihm were also resigned. These moves will improve the Lakers marginally, but with the West also improving and being the tougher conference of the two, there needed to be bigger moves done by the Lakers to improve.

Also, while it's not an official move yet, a team insider says that coach Phil Jackson is leaning toward signing an extension that will add two more seasons to his career after this season. If this does happen, this would come as a relief since Jackson recently said that this could be his last season coaching.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Lakers Are A Bubble Team

The Lakers are a bubble team to make the playoffs in the tough Western Conference this upcoming season. Hoopsworld says, "Whether or not the Lakers had a successful offseason probably depends on who you ask. They did keep free agent Luke Walton, they lost Smush Parker to the Miami Heat, signed veteran Derek Fisher, and added rookies Javaris Crittenton (who played very well in summer league) and Coby Karl. On paper that seems like some decent upgrades, especially at point guard.

Of course, if you ask Kobe Bryant you likely will get a very different answer – and he’s right. None of the changes or additions the Lakers made will have that big of an impact in the standings. Last season the team won 42 games and squeaked into the playoffs, largely by riding Kobe’s strong shoulders. If Crittenton and Fisher give the Lakers consistent point guard play and Lamar Odom plays a full season, perhaps the Lakers will be better – but on nominally.

If Bryant was promised a contender – and no general manager should ever make a promise like that just to make a free agent stay – then yes, he absolutely has something to be annoyed about. The Lakers absolutely need a healthy and happy Bryant to make this season a success – and that starts from day one when players report to training camp. If Bryant is there this team will be roughly the same as last year, unless Crittenton and Andrew Bynum provide a much bigger than expected boost.

If Bryant doesn’t show up, the Lakers may as well start planning for the 2008 NBA Draft."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Will Kirilenko Get Traded To The Lakers?

Andrei Kirilenko of the Utah Jazz has asked for a trade. This of course, has the Laker fans wondering if he will get traded to the Lakers. It seems like there have been a lot of big name players asking for trades this offseason, and this always perks up the ears of Laker fans wondering if we can get them. After all, we are still waiting for the big move that the Lakers front office promised us this offseason.

Unfortunately, the chances probably aren't good. If the Lakers did make a move for Kirilenko, they would be taking on a 4 year, $63 million contract. The most simple deal that the two teams could do would be Kirilenko for Lamar Odom straight up without any other players involved. Both make about $13 million a year, so the salaries match up to make the deal. Odom is the better all-around player, but Kirilenko is the better defender. Because Kirilenko doesn't have a contract opt out, Utah holds all of the leverage in the deal, and probably wouldn't make the deal.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Lakers Sign Elton Brown

The Los Angeles Lakers have signed free agent forward Elton Brown, it was announced today. Per team policy, terms of the agreement were not released.

Brown, a 6-9 forward out of the University of Virginia, finished 20th on Virginia’s all-time scoring list with 1,356 points and 13th on the all-time rebounding list with 660 rebounds.

Brown spent the 2005-06 season in Greece playing for Makedonikos Kozani, where he led the league in rebounds while being the only player in the league to average a double-double, averaging 13.3 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.

Brown was a member of the NBDL’s Colorado 14ers during the 2006-07 season, where he averaged 18.4 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 50 games.

The Lakers currently have 17 players under contract, so Brown will have to fight to make a team roster spot.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Catching Up With Sasha Vujacic

Lakers.com had an interview with Sasha Vujacic to see what he was up to this summer. On what he's been working on this summer:

"I’ve been on a weight program, I’ve done a couple basketball camps, and I’ve been working a lot on my penetrating the defense. I work out a couple hours a day realizing that it’s going to be very competitive next year. I just want to earn my spot from the beginning and like I’ve said many times before, I just want to show what I was brought here for and win a championship with the Lakers very soon."

Friday, September 14, 2007

Chris Mihm Interview

After missing all of last season and the end part of the season before, Chris Mihm is ready to come back and help the Lakers win games this season. Mihm says he's 90%-100% recovered from his injury, and he is working on getting his strength and conditioning back. He also says that his foot isn't bothering him anymore, that he can move around well, and that he can jump as well as he could before, which is a good sign. Check out the interview with part one here and part two here.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Ronny Turiaf Talks About Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant has been keeping in touch with Lakers teammate Ronny Turiaf over the summer through text messages, one of which might have played a small part in inspiring Bryant's tenacious man-to-man defense at the recently completed Tournament of the Americas.

"I was giving him a hard time about stopping Leandro [Barbosa of Brazil], and he did it," said Turiaf, who is playing here for France. "He's playing with a chip on his shoulder as far as stopping the best player on the other team, playing his best basketball, and I'm hoping he can carry that on for us this year."

Turiaf's use of the word "us" prompted the question of whether he thinks Bryant will still be with the Lakers once the season begins -- not exactly a certainty given the trade request Bryant put in with the Lakers earlier this summer.

"That's really none of my business," Turiaf said. "That's between him and management. As far as I know, I'm hoping and wishing he's going to be with us because I have a special relationship with him -- he's like a big brother, and he brings so much to the table on offense and defense.

"So I don't know. Training camp starts in like three weeks, and he hasn't been traded yet, so maybe that's a sign he's going to be there."

Monday, September 10, 2007

Will Kobe Show Up?

Still plenty of speculation about whether Kobe Bryant shows up to training camp or not next month, Hoopsworld chimes in on the situation.

"While Bryant has quieted his push for a trade, he hasn't backed off it either. With the entire world watching the summer games, he's chosen to remain silent to any questions pertaining to the Lakers.

It's a concern because he's kept himself out of touch. He doesn't work out in El Segundo at the team's facility. He doesn't talk to management. Depending on whom you ask Bryant may not even show for training camp."

"Perhaps Bryant has no choice but to play out the season. Maybe Andrew Bynum progresses significantly and the team is better than anyone expected.

Maybe Bryant is rejuvenated and remains a Laker for life . . . rings soon follow, etc.

But what if he really doesn't show for training camp?

Would the Lakers have to trade him then? Would he take it as far as sitting for actual games? What would be the financial repercussions?"

Also from Hoopsworld, the writers talk about Kobe's attitude toward the media, and how it differs in certain situations.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Phil Jackson In The Hall Of Fame

After nine NBA championships as a coach, tied for the most with Red Auerbach, Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson has made it to the Hall of Fame. Jackson gives plenty of credit to Red Holzman, his former coach back when he played with the New York Knicks. Jackson said that Holzman took him "under his wing, he didn't have an assistant coach, he made me his assistant coach and taught the game to me and taught me a lot about the game and encouraged me to go into coaching."

"He always believed in what was called the middle path," said Jackson of Holzman. "I appreciated that, his ability to handle players, particularly a team that was full of college players of the year. Cazzie Russell and Bill Bradley were both competing for the same job, but the ability for both of them to play as a team directly reflected [Holzman's] ability to handle people and make them play as a group. That ability to handle people probably was the trademark that I learned more than anything else. He treated the superstars and role players very much in the same manner."

About Jackson's success: "It's been like a comet," said Jackson. "The success of the teams I've coached has been just phenomenal. I've heard people say that I've been the luckiest coach that's ever been in the NBA and I would probably have to agree with them. I've been in the right spot at the right time."

Jackson even joked about Auerbach, saying, "We lost out on the Kevin Garnett sweepstakes. Red Auerbach came out of the grave and told Kevin to give him to the Celtics so the Celtics can get back in the running. That was a blessing, that connection. We just didn't have the connection to make that happen for us."

Despite all of the positive talk from Jackson about going into the Hall of Fame, he did bring up the possibility of this being his last season coaching. "This could well be my last year of coaching. I'm not saying it is, but it could be. I think I have an outstanding offer to sign up again, but I have held that back because of my recovery. Then there's the basis of how well the team does. If this team doesn't move forward quickly, and that's, I think, the second round of the playoffs, then I think we have to reconsider."

From ESPN, an article about Jackson's road to the Hall of Fame, and a timeline of his career.

Congratulations to Phil Jackson for making the Hall of Fame, and hopefully we will still see Phil coaching the Lakers for plenty more seasons after this one!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Lakers Report Card

Just in time for the start of the new school year, the Lakers have been graded on their offseason moves. The Lakers were given thumbs up for signing Derek Fisher, resigning Chris Mihm and Luke Walton, and drafting Javaris Crittenton, and were given thumbs down for Kobe Bryant's outburst and for losing out on Kevin Garnett. SI's grade for the Lakers: D.