Tag:Los Angeles Lakers
Posted on: March 16, 2009 11:50 am
 

Real Madness: Cavs, Lakers in race for home court

You know there is really something wrong with me when I'm more obsessed with the intriguing battle for playoff position in the Western Conference and the mad dash for playoff berths in the East than with my NCAA Tournament bracket. Truth be told, I don't even have an NCAA Tournament bracket. Who has time for that when a game-and-a-half separates Houston, Denver, New Orleans, Portland, and Utah for the third-through-seventh seeds in the West?

Who has time for the Alabama State-Morehead State play-in game when the Knicks actually have a chance to make the playoffs?  

I know, I know. The last two weeks of March are sacred ground in basketball for those who prefer the "amateur" variety. But if you want the whole truth, what really intrigues me more than all of this is what will transpire over the next two weeks between the Lakers and Cavaliers in the battle for the best record in the NBA.

As we sit here today, L.A. and Cleveland are dead-even with 16 games left (53-13). Should they meet in the NBA Finals, chances are home court will be decided between now and March 31. With a 98-93 victory over the Knicks Sunday, the Cavs embarked on a crucial two-week stretch in which they'll play eight of nine games at home, where they have the best record in the league at 29-1. The Lakers opened a three-game homestand Sunday with a 107-100 victory over Dallas. Starting Saturday at Chicago, the Lakers will play seven straight on the road over a 10-day period. After the Bulls, they'll visit Oklahoma City, Detroit, New Jersey, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Milwaukee. The Cavs are finished playing out West (until a potential Finals trip), having swept the Clippers, Suns, and Kings on their final long trip of the regular season.

What does it all mean? While the Lakers are packing their bags and heading East one more time, the Cavs need to do what they've been doing all season -- keep winning at home. This is especially true this week, when they host Orlando Tuesday, Portland Thursday, and Atlanta Saturday. If they wind up tied with the Lakers, L.A. holds the tiebreaker because they won both games with the Cavs.

To me, this is the real March Madness. It only got more interesting Sunday when the Lakers' Andrew Bynum guaranteed that he'll return from a knee injury sometime in April. (Click here for the story and video.) So while everyone else will be frothing over the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight in the last week of March, I'll be in Atlanta to see if the Lakers are running out of gas as they near the end of their seven-game road trip. And I'll have one eye on the Cavs, who will be putting a stamp on the month with Dallas and Detroit at home.

Call me crazy, but I'll take NBA March Madness any day of the month.

 

 

 

 

Posted on: February 18, 2009 7:12 pm
 

Trade: Mihm to Grizzlies

The Lakers have traded center Chris Mihm to the Memphis Grizzlies for a conditional second-round pick in 2013.

Here's the link. Here's my yawn.

 

 

Posted on: February 7, 2009 8:08 pm
 

Lakers contend for title and clear cap space, too

CLEVELAND -- Must be nice to be the Lakers, who are no less of a championship contender after Saturday's cap-clearing trade that sent Vladimir Radmanovic's albatross of a contract to Charlotte for Adam Morrison and Shannon Brown.

The straight math from the deal: It impacts the Lakers' rotational plans very little for the rest of this season, but impacts their financial picture quite significantly going forward. They save $1.2 million next season, which is actually $2.4 million because they're a tax-paying team. If they're unimpressed with Morrison, the disappointing former No. 3 overall pick, and don't extend him a qualifying offer in 2010, the trade trims $6.9 million from their 2010-11 cap.

It's not enough to make Cleveland fans nervous that Phil Jackson and Mitch Kupchak are clearing cap space for a run at LeBron James in 17 months, but it's a start.

In the Orange County Register's Lakers blog, Kevin Ding says Kupchak doesn't expect to make any more deals before the Feb. 19 trade deadline, meaning no big man to replace the injured Andrew Bynum.

 

Posted on: January 8, 2009 6:43 pm
 

Delfino staying put; Pargo could be available

OREM, Utah -- With former Nets center Nenad Krstic bolting Russia and returning to the NBA with the Oklahoma City Thunder, NBA executives gathered here this week for the annual D-League Showcase have their radar up on others who could follow.

No G.M. should get his hopes up about Carlos Delfino returning to the States this season, according to two people with knowledge of the situation. But the other former NBAer playing in Russia, Jannero Pargo, is a good bet to return to the NBA for the right situation, the people said.

The sources -- one of them a top international scout and the other a person directly involved in NBA front-office dealings -- said Delfino is integral to Khimki BC's plans and loyal to its coach. Essentially, Delfino is committed to the team for the rest of the season and will re-evaluate his options afterward.

Rumblings about rampant interest in Pargo -- such as, for example, from the Lakers -- have been exaggerated, the second source said. But the Knicks -- coached by Mike D'Antoni with a style suitable to Pargo's skills -- are "quite possible" as a landing spot, the person said. Pargo, playing on a one-year deal for Dynamo Moscow, is friendly with Knicks point guard Chris Duhon, and they're both from Slidell, La.

The issue in Russia is that the sagging international economy has caused many teams to pay players late or not at all. The problem with Pargo finding a home back in the NBA is that the veteran's miniumum would be a pay cut. There have been various reports about what Pargo's deal is worth, but one of the sources knowledgeable about his situation said it was $3 million.

If, as expected, the Knicks get a $4.5 million disabled player exception for Cuttino Mobley, they may be inclined to use it for Pargo. They don't have to pay him the entire amount. But whatever they don't pay, they would forefeit because it can't be split among players. Given that the Knicks still have their $1.9 million biannual exception, using the Mobley exception would be better for them because they could save the biannual for next summer.

 

Posted on: January 7, 2009 1:17 pm
Edited on: January 7, 2009 4:18 pm
 

Celtics, Lakers lose; world stops spinning UPDATE

What has happened to the NBA we came to know and love? The NBA in which two dominant teams, both defending conference champions, would run roughshod over the competition and challenge historic marks for regular season wins on the way to a rematch in the Finals?

I wish no ill will on the Lakers or the Celtics. They are both proud, fine franchises. Both enjoyable teams to watch and cover. But I have to say it is refreshing that normalcy or parity or whatever you want to call it has slowly crept back into the NBA's collective consciousness.

The Celtics, who recently won 19 consecutive games and had people like myself charting their course to a new NBA record (34) and a 70-win season, have lost five of their last seven. Their stunning loss to the Charlotte Bobcats (114-106 in overtime) Tuesday night marked the second time since Christmas that they've lost two straight games. This one was the Knicks and Bobcats. Ugh. Celtics G.M. Danny Ainge was watching the game on his SlingPlayer while scouting D-League games here in Orem, Utah, yesterday. I would hate to have been sitting next to him at the final buzzer.

The Lakers, meanwhile, bid farewell to their 15-game home winning streak Tuesday night with a 116-105 loss to the Hornets. New Orleans and San Antonio are two teams in the West that are starting to gather steam. In the East, Orlando, Atlanta, and Detroit are starting to make some noise. I think that's good. One or two dominant teams are fun to look back on and appreciate, but they're boring to watch. It's much better this way.

UPDATE: InsideHoops.com has a game-by-game breakdown of the Celtics' slump that's worth reading.

Posted on: December 25, 2008 8:32 pm
 

Lakers did the Celtics a favor

The best thing that could've happened to the Celtics on Christmas Day, in front of a raucous Staples Center crowd and curious national TV audience, was to lose to the Lakers.

Trust me, this game meant a lot more to the Lakers than it did to the Celtics.

Just as Boston received nothing of value for winning 19 consecutive games and embarking on the best 29-game start in NBA history, neither do the Lakers receive any trophies or other meaningful accolades for stopping it with a 92-83 victory Thursday.

Sure, the Lakers can build off a game in which they (finally) defended for 48 minutes and got key contributions from Andrew Bynum (who missed last year's Finals loss to Boston with an injury) and Pau Gasol (who was too often missing in key moments against the Celtics last June). But while they may not realize it now, the Lakers' stirring performance against the defending champs Thursday -- by far the most anticipated game of the NBA season to date -- will refocus the Celtics and alleviate the unnecessary pressure of the streak.

It was tied for the fourth-longest winning streak in NBA history -- a noteworthy accomplishment, and one that will mean diddly squat come June. Had the Celtics won Thursday, their efforts to repeat as champions would've been unnecessarily sidetracked by ever more sweltering national attention on something that ultimately means nothing. As Kevin Garnett said Tuesday night after the Celtics beat the Sixers for their 19th straight win, all of these records and milestones are nothing but steam that will simply evaporate if Boston doesn't win the title.

Imagine the distraction of going to Portland on Tuesday with the possibility of passing the 2007-08 Rockets for the second-longest winning streak in NBA history (23). Then, with victories over Washington, New York, and Charlotte, the streak would've been at 26 when Boston hosted the Rockets on Jan. 7. If they won, they would've been at 27 when they visited Cleveland on Jan. 9 -- inching ever closer to the longest winning streak in NBA history, 33, by the 1971-72 Lakers.

And so on, and so on. The Celtics should be glad it's over. Now they can just continue doing what they've been doing. Now they can take an unbiased look at their team and start thinking about what, if anything, needs to be added before the Feb. 19 trade deadline.

They're still on pace with the 1995-96 Bulls, whose 72-10 record was the best in NBA history. They still have a shot at surpassing the Celtics' franchise record of 68 victories, set in 1972-73. But that record, too, means little; the '72-'73 Celtics lost to the Knicks in the Eastern Conference Finals.

If anything, this loss exploited the Celtics' bench, which got outplayed by the Lakers' reserves. It showed that Doc Rivers will have to come up with an answer if the Lakers choose to close games in June with Bynum and Gasol on the floor at the same time. If Gasol makes big shots -- and he made a couple down the stretch Thursday, and also blocked a 3-point attempt by Ray Allen as the Celtics were trying to cut it to 88-86 with 1:21 left -- it's a formidable matchup problem for Boston. Gasol's block resulted in a five-point swing as Trevor Ariza got free for a dunk that made it 90-83 with 1:10 left.

But this game, beamed to our TV sets on Christmas Day, also proved something else. It proved something else to me, anyway. It proved that Lakers-Celtics in the Finals again wouldn't be as repetitious and boring as I thought it would be. If it's anything like Thursday, then we've all been reminded how much we have to look forward to in June.

 

 

Posted on: December 18, 2008 10:09 am
 

Suns have "zero" interest in Marbury

While Stephon Marbury has been given permission to seek a deal with a new team, no new talks are scheduled between the Knicks and Marbury's representative from the NBA Players Association to extricate him from New York.

According to a person with close ties to Marbury, the banished point guard is seeking to sign with a "playoff, championship caliber team." The source declined to discuss which teams Marbury is targeting, but didn't shoot down  Boston, Miami, or the Lakers as options. One team Marbury won't be signing with is the Suns. Phoenix contributed $500,000 to Spanish club Tau Ceramica to buy out their second-round pick, Slovenian point guard Goran Dragic, and team president Steve Kerr said Wednesday he has "zero" interest in Marbury. Kerr was in Denver Wednesday night scouting a point-guard matchup between Smush Parker and Eddie Gill in a D-League game, and vice president of basketball operations David Griffin plans to work out 4-6 point guards -- possibly including Damon Stoudamire and Troy Hudson -- on Monday. The Suns have until Wednesday to add a player to reach the NBA roster minimum of 13.

Miami is close to the luxury tax threshold and would need to trim a player to make room for Marbury, even if he signed for the veteran's minimum of $1.2 million. Dwyane Wade likely would have to sign off on adding Marbury, given his substantial baggage. A person familiar with the Celtics' thinking said the team would investigate Marbury when he became available, but the signing would have to come with the approval of the coaching staff and key leaders in the locker room.

Knicks president Donnie Walsh and NBPA attorney Hal Biagas, who is representing Marbury, "check in with each other periodically," but have held no further substantive buyout talks and have none scheduled, the source said.

Posted on: December 17, 2008 10:57 am
 

Shocking: Marbury shows up at Knicks game

It should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed the Stephon Marbury saga that he would show up and buy a courtside ticket for the Knicks-Lakers game at Staples Center Tuesday night. This is what Stephon-a-non-grata is all about: shining the spotlight on himself.

What did come as a surprise was a comment Marbury made to the New York beat reporter crew, which he of course knew would surround him and extract every last drop of drama and dysfunction it possibly could out of him. (Some by choice, some reluctantly. More on that later.)

When Marbury wasn't berating certain writers by name -- since I'm away from the daily Knicks soap opera, I have been replaced by Frank Isola of the Daily News and Alan Hahn of Newsday as his favorite target -- he did deliver a piece of news. Or at least a hint of a piece of news.

"Only thing I got to do is get free," Marbury said. "The team that I'm going to go to, I think a lot of people will be shocked."

Hahn, in his Knix Fix blog, offers sound speculation as to which team Marblehead is referring to: The Suns. Hey, why not?

"They currently have an open roster spot and a need for a backup guard," Hahn writes. "Marbury played with Suns coach Terry Porter in Minnesota and, quite frankly, the Steve Kerr-Robert Sarver duo would love nothing more than to take the player Mike D'Antoni exiled and make him an asset."

Marbury said being banished from the Knicks and not playing basketball anymore "has been great for me. ... I'm getting healthy. This is going to save two or three years of my career."

At one point, Marbury said, "I'm still earning my check by doing nothing." He even went so far as to say that he's told Hal Biagas, the NBA Players Association attorney representing him, to chill for a while. "I basically told him don't even worry about it," Marbury said. "Let them do what they're going to do and make a decision when they're ready to make a decision. ... I didn't create this, so I don't regret a thing. This is all their doing."

Meanwhile, overshadowed by all of this was a thrilling game between the Knicks and Lakers -- a 116-114 Los Angeles victory. It had everything ... the Lakers battling back from a 15-point halftime deficit despite several key players battling illness (including Pao Gasol, who was sent home due to strep throat), Kobe Bryant talking trash with Chris Rock, and of course, Marbury making himself the center of attention once again.

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com