Tag:Pau Gasol
Posted on: February 11, 2011 1:34 am
 

Lakers play their part as the drama continues

Lakers take a big game from banged-up Celtics, prove the worth of Bynum. 
Posted by Matt Moore

Come now, Boston. You didn't think it would be that easy, did you?

The Lakers did their part in furthering the drama towards the inevitable Thursday night, downing the Celtics 92-86 in Boston. Each team has a win on one another's home floor. Each has a championship over the other since 2008. Each features aging superstars trying to pull one more run out of the struggle of injury and the grind of the 82-game season. In Los Angeles, it was Celtics execution overcoming the one-man Kobe show. In Boston? It was Bryant, looping baseline, drawing the double and dropping off to Pau Gasol, then working Ray Allen over like he was some rook on his way to the dagger elbow jumper. 

Even again. 

And now it's the Celtics left questioning themselves. Where is the offense going to come from? Why is Paul Pierce having so many turnovers in the clutch this year? How on Earth are the Celtics, even when Shaq and/or Jermaine O'Neal get back going to counter the Lakers' size, should they choose not to dish Andrew Bynum for Carmelo Anthony

And for the Lakers, the ultimate case of reassurance. They weren't just lost, just bored. They weren't out of sync, just lying in wait. This win, even over a banged-up Celtics squad proves that the concerns about the Lakers were unfounded. They're fine. They're focused, when they need to be, and they will be there in June, waiting for Boston to survive the Eastern Conference gauntlet. 

If Jim Buss was searching for some sign to prompt him to move Bynum in the Melo deal, it did not come tonight. Instead he found a team that simply is taller, longer, and more obstructive to the opponents' efforts in the paint with Bynum, and that is their biggest strength. Kobe Bryant is a killer, there's no question about that. But the Lakers thrive on being able to capture offensive rebound after offensive rebound, like the one that lead to the reset and Kobe-elbow-jumper to end it. The highlight reel will show Bryant breaking Allen's ankles (while Rajon Rondo simply watches for some reason, instead of comitting to the help-and-recover).  But the play was set up by the Lakers size providing them an offensive rebound. 

Sure, there was some voodoo going on with L.A., the usual Phil Jackson mind games. But the aesthetics are just a backdrop to the cold hard truth. The Celtics have to try and overcome physical advantage with mental effort. And while a victory of that sort may feel better than the alternative, it is because it is so much more difficult. Shaq may have made an impact. J.O. may have made an impact. But we saw Bynum make an impact, and we saw a Celtics team that just ran out of steam, much like it did in Game 7. 

The first game is not to be forgotten, however. In truth, these two teams are simply evenly matched. They are the best two teams, top to bottom, in the NBA. And once again, with their next meeting likely in June, these two are right back where they started. Even. 
Posted on: February 11, 2011 1:34 am
 

Lakers play their part as the drama continues

Lakers take a big game from banged-up Celtics, prove the worth of Bynum. 
Posted by Matt Moore

Come now, Boston. You didn't think it would be that easy, did you?

The Lakers did their part in furthering the drama towards the inevitable Thursday night, downing the Celtics 92-86 in Boston. Each team has a win on one another's home floor. Each has a championship over the other since 2008. Each features aging superstars trying to pull one more run out of the struggle of injury and the grind of the 82-game season. In Los Angeles, it was Celtics execution overcoming the one-man Kobe show. In Boston? It was Bryant, looping baseline, drawing the double and dropping off to Pau Gasol, then working Ray Allen over like he was some rook on his way to the dagger elbow jumper. 

Even again. 

And now it's the Celtics left questioning themselves. Where is the offense going to come from? Why is Paul Pierce having so many turnovers in the clutch this year? How on Earth are the Celtics, even when Shaq and/or Jermaine O'Neal get back going to counter the Lakers' size, should they choose not to dish Andrew Bynum for Carmelo Anthony

And for the Lakers, the ultimate case of reassurance. They weren't just lost, just bored. They weren't out of sync, just lying in wait. This win, even over a banged-up Celtics squad proves that the concerns about the Lakers were unfounded. They're fine. They're focused, when they need to be, and they will be there in June, waiting for Boston to survive the Eastern Conference gauntlet. 

If Jim Buss was searching for some sign to prompt him to move Bynum in the Melo deal, it did not come tonight. Instead he found a team that simply is taller, longer, and more obstructive to the opponents' efforts in the paint with Bynum, and that is their biggest strength. Kobe Bryant is a killer, there's no question about that. But the Lakers thrive on being able to capture offensive rebound after offensive rebound, like the one that lead to the reset and Kobe-elbow-jumper to end it. The highlight reel will show Bryant breaking Allen's ankles (while Rajon Rondo simply watches for some reason, instead of comitting to the help-and-recover).  But the play was set up by the Lakers size providing them an offensive rebound. 

Sure, there was some voodoo going on with L.A., the usual Phil Jackson mind games. But the aesthetics are just a backdrop to the cold hard truth. The Celtics have to try and overcome physical advantage with mental effort. And while a victory of that sort may feel better than the alternative, it is because it is so much more difficult. Shaq may have made an impact. J.O. may have made an impact. But we saw Bynum make an impact, and we saw a Celtics team that just ran out of steam, much like it did in Game 7. 

The first game is not to be forgotten, however. In truth, these two teams are simply evenly matched. They are the best two teams, top to bottom, in the NBA. And once again, with their next meeting likely in June, these two are right back where they started. Even. 
Posted on: February 8, 2011 12:34 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2011 1:34 pm
 

Report: Lakers step into Melo talks

Are the Lakers in pursuit of a Carmelo Anthony trade?
Posted by Matt Moore



You knew it was only really a matter of time, really. The Los Angeles Lakers don't let opportunities to obtain star players go by unnoticed. That's not what they do. 

ESPN reports: 
The Denver Nuggets have had preliminary discussions with the Los Angeles Lakers on a Carmelo Anthony trade, league sources told ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard on Tuesday.

The Lakers' package would be built around center Andrew Bynum. Denver has no interest in Ron Artest and isn't particularly interested in Lamar Odom either, sources said. A straight-up deal of Bynum for Anthony works financially, but there could be other players involved since Denver would look to shed more salary if possible.
via Sources: Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets have initial Carmelo Anthony talks - ESPN Los Angeles .

Before you ingest this information and get all excited, I'd like to give you this: it's a 12-foot-by-12-foot piece of salt. 

For the Lakers to do this deal would mean surrendering their true biggest advantage, their overwhelming size. Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odom make up a 20'10'' rotating frontcourt. It's the reason they're able to disrupt so many passes, because passing between them is like floating a frisbee through a forest of sequoias. Taking on Anthony removes that element, as Pau Gasol would shift to center, and Odom to power forward. There's no big, physical force down low to guard the beasts or deter drives. Pau Gasol's an able defender, but he's not the same intimidating force Bynum is, even considering his injury issues. 

Furthermore, bringing Carmelo Anthony on would mean a largely decreased role for Kobe Bryant, and the rest of the Lakers. Are Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, and Ron Artest willing to take fewer shots? Because that's what it would mean. Otherwise you're talking about bringing on a largely offensive player and asking him not to shoot as much. And Jim Buss, who is heavily involved from the organization's perspective, is notoriously pro-Bynum. Frank Isola of the New York Daily News  reports that Buss shot down such an offer recently .

And that's just from the Lakers' perspective. What about the fact that in this deal, the Nuggets would pick up no pick? The Lakers traded their 2011 first-rounder to the Nets (who ironically had included it in their initial bid for Anthony).  So the Nugggets would not be able to acquire a first-round pick this season in the deal. They would go from the Nets deal (Harris, Favors, three first-rounders) to Andrew Bynum and no pick. That's the bottom of the barrel. Bynum's a fine player, when healthy, and can be a monster as he gets older (when healthy), but I'm not sure he's worth even the proposed Knicks deal (when healthy). Are you getting a pattern yet? 

But on the other hand, the Lakers always have a way of getting their man, and as Masai Ujiri continues to frustrate GMs with his insistence on "more, more, more." By continuing that play, he may set himself up to get less than what he wants.  Adding Anthony would add a fourth All-Star level player to the Lakers, making them not just the most talented team in the league, which they already are, but one of the most talented teams in NBA history. 

There's one more element to consider here. Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak almost never does deals in public. The Pau Gasol trade came out of nowhere. Each deal he does is done very close to the ground and the Lakers' organization is notoriously leak-proof. So if the Lakers aren't the ones leaking this trade, who is?  It may be an effort from the Nuggets to exert more leverage (lost in the Nets breakdown) on their dealings with New York, or it could be Melo's representatives putting pressure on New York to step up. 

The tangled web gets even more tangled. These are the days of our Melo.
Posted on: February 7, 2011 3:03 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2011 3:14 pm
 

Phil Jackson takes shot at Kevin Garnett

Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson takes a shot at Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett. Posted by Ben Golliver. phil-jackson

Earlier today, we noted that the NBA has taken to looking past the transgressions of Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett, allowing a laundry list of unsportsmanlike plays to stand without any meaningful repercussions.

One person who isn't content to let it all go without saying something: Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson, of course, who took a solid swipe at Garnett while praising his center Pau Gasol, as quoted by DailyBreeze.com.
"Pau knows who he is," Jackson said. "He's tenacious. I like him to be aggressive offensively. He's always a willing passer. The one thing I'm on him about is getting that first rebound. Don't let them knock it out of your hands. Don't let them knock it away.
"Otherwise, all this talk about how aggressive he is or how aggressive he isn't falls on deaf ears. He totally gets it. He is who he is. We're not going to make him into (Boston's Kevin) Garnett. He's not going to go around and punch guys in the (groin). He's too nice of a guy.

"This is an intelligent person who understands what this game is about. We've been to the Finals three years in a row, so that's part of it."
Jackson, of course, is making reference to a recent low blow Garnett leveled on Phoenix Suns big man Channing Frye, a play that eventually led to his ejection due to arguing and for which he refused to apologize and was not suspended.

We've previously lamented that there is no one at this point of his career that can get through to Garnett, no one that can encourage him to better understand the decency line and work a bit harder to stay on the correct side of it. The only person who can do that, save a super-duper heavy-handed commissioner Stern, is Garnett himself, and he clearly doesn't care.

Given that situation, and the league's inactivity to this point, it's nice -- for once, a rare situation indeed -- to hear Jackson offer his two cents.  Even if only a glancing blow, Jackson's statement serves as an acknowledgement that those around the league -- colleagues and competitors -- are not totally blind to his shenanigans. 

To describe Garnett as a player that goes around punching guys in the groin certainly sells Garnett short, but that's exactly the point: Garnett's greatness as an individual defender, team defender, leader, consistent rebounder and there-when-you-need-it scorer are overshadowed by his antics. To set up Garnett as the foil to Gasol's nice, intelligent, winning persona is to attack Garnett's professionalism and to indirectly question whether his priorities are in order. Those are big words, and not many around the league have the audicity or confidence to deliver them.

It pains me to say this, but in this situation we need more Phil Jacksons. 
Posted on: February 4, 2011 1:35 am
 

McDyess and the Spurs finish the Lakers late

Posted by Royce Young



It was obvious how important this game was to the Lakers from the tip. They've been answering a lot questions, their general manager is talking about making trades and Kobe Bryant is a little extra chippy. And they had the league's best team in town and played like they had something to prove.

Problem is, they had the San Antonio Spurs in town and they don't exactly go down easily.

The Lakers thought they had it won three different times. With Los Angeles up 88-87 with 22 seconds left, the Spurs ran a great set but Manu Ginobili missed an open 3. Rebound Spurs. Tony Parker had the ball at the top of the key, made a move left and rimmed out a tear drop runner. Again, the Lakers didn't secure the rebound and the ball went out, off yellow.

And the third time indeed was a charm for San Antonio. Tim Duncan caught the ball, didn't get the hand off to Parker and had to force up a falling jumper over the extended hand of Pau Gasol. The shot was long, catching back-iron except for a fourth time, the Lakers didn't get on the glass. Antonio McDyess beat Lamar Odom and tipped in the game-winner as time expired. 89-88, Spurs.

The game had every feel of a playoff classic with both teams fighting tooth and nail for 48 minutes. Every possession was a complete grind. Both teams shot under 43 percent. The Lakers were playing like the game meant something more. And of course the Spurs brought it.

Tony Parker was terrific, leading all scorers with 21, Richard Jefferson had 18 on 7-12 shooting and Duncan and Manu did just enough to get it done. This is the way the Spurs do things. You look at the box score and spend 15 minutes wondering how in the heck they won the game. They understand better than anyone what it means to get a key stop, a key basket or a key rebound. They win. They've mastered it as well as anyone.

On the Laker side, Kobe Bryant didn't shoot the ball well (5-18) but to his credit, didn't force things late in the game when his team needs points every trip. He did a great job creating good shots for Odom and Gasol, drawing the defense and making the correct pass. Kobe finished with 10 assists to go with 16 points and nine rebounds. He didn't play great, but did enough to get his team a win.

Gasol who has taken some criticism lately, played hard and played well. He had 19 points (8-10 shooting) and seven rebounds. He was a little more involved and locked in than he's appeared the past couple weeks. He definitely played with fire, but obviously it wasn't enough to stop Duncan and the Spurs.

In the end, it was about getting one stop to seal it. Except the Lakers gave the Spurs four chances.

It's still only February and Phil Jackson has already said he's not panicking until the playoffs. But you could see it after the officials confirmed McDyess got his tip off in time. The Lakers looked devastated. Pau Gasol hung his head, Kobe quickly exited the floor and the rest of the team just looked deflated.

They put a little extra into this game. They wanted to beat the Spurs and prove how good they still are. Losing by one on a tip isn't reason to hang your head in shame, but the Lakers still feel like they're searching for something. I'm convinced there's no reason to worry for this team (yet), but Thursday's game isn't going to make them feel any better.
Posted on: February 3, 2011 4:53 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2011 7:02 pm
 

NBA All-Star Reserves: West and East rosters

A constantly updated list of the 2011 NBA All-Star reserves. Posted by Matt Moore and Ben Golliver.

As the NBA All-Star reserves are inevitably leaked in advance of the 7 p.m. ET announcement, we'll have updates for you. The full rosters have now been announced.

Update 7:00 p.m. EST: Yao Ming's Replacement

Finally, Yahoo! Sports also notes that Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash is the favorite to replace Houston Rockets center Yao Ming, who is injured. 

Update 6:49 p.m. EST: Western Conference Reserves

Yahoo! Sports reports the following players have been named to the Western Conference All-Star team as reserves: 

Update 6:45 p.m. EST: Eastern Conference Reserves

Yahoo! Sports reports the following players have been named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team as reservers: 

Update 6:05 p.m. EST: Kevin Garnett

Like Gasol, we found that Garnett has a page built, along with previously leaked Rajon Rondo. 

Garnett will make it at least two Celtics reserves, with more on the way most likely. Garnett's been playing at a near MVP level with the impact he has on both sides of the floor. He's been his usual dominant, crazy self on defense, and his inside post moves have returned in addition to his mid-range jumper on the pick and pop. He's arguably the biggest reason the Celts have laid waste to the league this season. 

No other prospective reserves have such pages built, as of yet. These definitely don't confirm that they've been selected as All-Stars, but considering the three posted now are locks, they look pretty legit. We'll keep you posted. 

Update 6:01 p.m. EST: Pau Gasol


Someone is either running live screen tests or they jumped the gun. Hoopshype discovered that Pau Gasol has a page built for him as an All-Star. 

Gasol's a no-brainer, as he's arguably the best player on the Lakers, and that's saying something considering, you know, Kobe Bryant. Either way he's the biggest reason for the Lakers' past two championships outside Bryant, and is widely considered to be the best active big man in the game. Odds are good he might wind up replacing Yao Ming as a starter at center, despite his power forward designation.

Rajon Rondo


Yahoo! Sports reports that Rondo will be named an All-Star Reserve. The word you're looking for is ... "duh."  Rondo leads the league in assists per game and Assist Ratio (percentage of possessions ending in an assist). He's the starting point guard for the best team in the Eastern Conference and he does things like this:



Whether the Celtics send three or four , we all agreed, Rondo needs to go. He's the obvious choice. 
Posted on: February 2, 2011 12:42 pm
Edited on: February 2, 2011 4:14 pm
 

Report: Ron Artest wants out of L.A.

Posted by Royce Young

The Lakers are reportedly looking to make a trade. General manager Mitch Kupchak said it, Phil Jackson said and even Magic Johnson is talking about it. The defending champs are in the market for some help.

Problem is for the Lakers, they traded away maybe their best asset in Sasha Vujacic's expiring contract and after that, don't have a lot of tradeable assets in the bank. Surely they don't intend to move a key part like Andrew Bynum or Lamar Odom. So after that, who are they going to trade? Luke Walton? Theo Ratliff? I don't think the Grizzlies are going to fall for a second Gasol trade this time around.

But what if someone wanted out? It doesn't seem probable because who would want to leave the Lakers, but according to ESPN.com, a prominant player wouldn't mind being the one to move out. Ron Artest.

Now before we get all ahead of ourselves, bear in mind that Artest lives in the moment. It doesn't take a whole lot for him to change his mind and for his emotions to kick up. So in two weeks, he may feel differently.

According to the report, Artest's two major problems are that he's afraid he'll be the scapegoat for any of the team's problems. He feels like he's always the dartboard for criticism and blame. Artest takes and sometimes makes bad shots, but it's easy to forget his stellar defense.

The second is that Artest will at some point pipe up about his role within the Laker offense. Artest has had to take a big hit in his production and usage with the Lakers, but he was willing to sacrifice there, obviously. Artest is averaging a career-low 8.1 points per game and as Artest's brother Daniel said on Twitter, is being typecast to only shooting the corner 3.

Matt Barnes is injured right now but played relatively well behind Artest at small forward. So there is a little depth there if the Lakers want to get serious about this.

In early December there was a public story about Jackson's public, harsh criticism of Artest in practice. Artest reportedly confronted Jackson about it and since then, reportedly are on good terms. It's more about Artest having to watch Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol hog all of the offense more than any displeasure with Jackson by the sound of it.

But with three years and $22 million remaining on his contract combined with the fact he's 31 and putting up career-low across the boards, what's the market really for Artest? Who is going to be interested in a deal like that? That's the question the Lakers are asking themselves right now. It's hard to say if they're actually interested in shaking up a championship team or if this is just a motivational tactic. Whatever the case, on Feb. 2, Ron Artest is looking for an exit.
Posted on: February 1, 2011 1:28 am
Edited on: February 1, 2011 1:29 am
 

Lakers GM open to considering a trade

With Lakers underperforming, GM Mitch Kupchak says he "may have to look into a trade."
Posted by Matt Moore

The Lakers are 1-5 against top echelon teams. Phil Jackson couldn't care less. Kobe Bryant is beyond angry. And General Manager Mitch Kupchak? He's talking T-word. Trade. From the Los Angeles Times:

"Yes . . . I may have to look into a trade, but I'm not saying we have "talked to other teams yet, Kupchak said. "We have not been playing up to our level and I dont know why. Maybe its complacency. Im not sure."
via Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak says hes thought about making a trade - latimes.com.


A trade? By the defending champs? Could this be happening? Even with the measured and cautious words being tossed around by Kupchak, that's a pretty stunning development even if the Lakers are simply considering a trade. This is a team that has looked every bit like a Finals contender, unless they've been facing an elite team this year. It's also a team that's notorious for not taking teams seriously, having gone seven games with a Yao-less Rockets squad in 2009, having a terrible second half last year, and letting the Suns push them in the Western Conference Finals using a zone, for crying out loud. You have to think this is just an emotional quote from Kupchak revealing a frustration with the team's play, or at least a Jackson-like motivational tactic.

Even stranger than the idea of the Lakers needing to make a trade is the idea of what trade they would be able to make. Every Laker of consequence with any value, contract or skill-wise, has at least two more years left on their deals. Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol are obviously not even in this discussion. So what are the next options?
  • Lamar Odom- Trade Status: Obscenely unlikely. Odom is the quintessential heart and soul of this club. He's found a home there and has flourished when his head is plugged in. What's more, he's part of the reason for the Lakers' absurd length advantage. When Odom is on, the Lakers are nearly unstoppable. Moving him would garner the best set of assets, but who could they get for him, with nearly $9 million on the books for next season, even with his 2013 salary non-guaranteed at $8.2 million?
  • Andrew Bynum- Trade Status: Pretty unlikely. Bynum has been involved in trade rumors for years due to his inconsistency, rehab work ethic, and injuries. Yet it was his toughness fighting through the Finals last spring on a torn ligament that helped assure the Lakers a title. He's now considered an invaluable part of the offense, and his improving defense, combined with his willingness to give a hard foul, means he's the backbone of what has been a very soft Lakers interior lately. Combine that with the difficulty of getting teams to invest in someone with his injury history, and the near-$15 million on the books for next year and a team option for over $16 million the next, and it's hard to see a suitor for Bynum that would keep the Lakers in contention.
  • Ron Artest- Trade Status: Difficult: From zero to hero to zero again. Artest struggled all last year trying to learn the Triangle, was terrible at times in the playoffs, then hit the biggest hot of his career to help clinch a title for the Lakers (as well as a tip-in in the Western Conference Finals) and was everyone's hero. This year? Back to the doghouse. If anyone's to be moved, it's probably Artest, but that says more about where Ron's sunk to rather than where his value is at. Getting anything for someone who's been such a pain for so many teams with over $21 million left on his contract after this year is difficult. When it's Ron Artest? Even harder.
  • Luke Walton- Trade Status: Ha-ha-ha-ha: Yes, because I'm sure that what GMs with a valuable commodity are thinking is "Oh, we can get the 28th pick in the draft and Luke Walton with over $11 million left on his contract over the next two years? Who wouldn't do that deal?" Walton's contract is slowly reaching movable status after an ill-advised extension, but he's a long ways away from upgrade-bait. 
  • Steve Blake- Trade Status- Limited: Blake's got three years after this one for a combined roughly $14 million, is a serviceable point guard, and fits easy into a rotation. So he's got some value. But in terms of trying to get a major upgrade, he'd have to be packaged with one of the above candidates in order for it to make any sense. He can act as icing on the cake, but even then, having three years left on his deal may make it a little too sweet for most. 
  • Derek Fisher - Trade Status: Laughable: The Lakers would never give up their most veteran leader who everyone came up to and thanked after winning the last title. Bryant would never stand to lose the guy he's been to the playoffs with the most. Not everyone can run the Triangle point guard position... okay, that's a lie. Pretty much everyone can dribble the ball up, pass it to Kobe Bryant, and then go sit in a corner and often get blown by on defense. But Fisher's hit too many huge shots in Laker history to be forsaken. And no one is looking to pay him another $6.8 million for two more years. 
  • Shannon Brown- Trade Status: Intriguing, if unlikely: Brown failed to fetch any significant offers on the open market this summer, so who's going to trade for him now, even in a career year for him? He's got great upside and has looked like a possible building block, but who doesn't when they're running next to this team? Brown's cheap and his contract is flexible, but he's not going to cash in any huge superstar on the open market. 
  • Matt Barnes- Trade Status: Injured: Barnes is injured for a few more weeks, his contract's too low to matter, and the only teams that would be interested in him are contenders, the sort of teams that would never give up valuable assets to the defending champs. 

So while Kupchak may be looking to try and upgrade his team, Michael Heisley and Chris Wallace aren't walking through that door. Even with the Nuggets being dragged slowly towards the inescapable black hole in the reality that they have to trade Carmelo Anthony, and the Sixers wanting to offload Iguodala to make room for their rebuilding project, or the Suns in near full-on blow-up mode, no one's going to be looking to the Lakers to cash in.  The Lakers are on top, and have spent a lot to get to the top. They're loaded with talent, but it's not talent that garners a lot on the market. 

After all, how do you possibly get great return on trading members of the most talented team in the league? Instead, I think the Lakers will take the Phil Jackson approach. Sit back, relax, coast through the next four months, and flip the switch when it counts. They've done it before. They'll do it 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