Tag:Los Angeles Lakers
Posted on: December 26, 2011 12:04 pm
 

Lakers aren't trading Gasol and Bynum for Howard

Posted by Royce Young

There's a thinking -- a smart kind of it -- that says that the Lakers traded Lamar Odom for a bigger reason. The idea is that no way the Lakers gave up one of their best players just to cut down on their luxury tax payment and get a trade exception in return. It was all to clear room and money for Dwight Howard. That's how it makes sense to give away the Sixth Man of the Year for nothing.

Right? I mean, right?

But Jim Buss, the guy running the show in Los Angeles right now, says the trade you're thinking about -- Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol for Dwight Howard -- isn't happening. Via the L.A. Times:
“Where does this stuff come from?” Buss said. “You’d have to be kind of silly to give up two All-Stars like that for Howard. Zero truth to it. We have never been asked for Andrew and Pau and we’ve never offered them. I think they know we’d either say no or they would sound crazy for asking ... I personally believe now that we have the team that we will be playing with all season long.”
Here's the proof: The Lakers nearly beat the Bulls and MVP Derrick Rose to open the season without Bynum and with Kobe playing with a busted wrist. But they didn't. They fell to one of the elite teams. Does that happen with Dwight Howard patrolling the paint?

Buss says that you'd be silly to give up two All-Stars like Bynum and Gasol for Howard. I think most the public would feel you'd have to be silly to NOT make that deal if it were available. Dwight Howard, who is just 26, to come to Los Angeles to play center with Kobe Bryant? Doesn't that sound ideal? Yeah, you lose your starting power forward and replacing Gasol would not be easy at all, but to get the best big man in the game, isn't that worth it?

This Laker team can compete in the West. Kobe, Gasol, Bynum -- it's a strong core. And you can be sure general manager Mitch Kupchak is shopping that trade exception and a few other things as you read this. The Lakers want to get better. They know they're not quite good enough yet, despite Kobe saying so. They'll be a solid Western team, but this franchise is only in the market of winning championships and Buss and company have to ask: Can this roster do that?

Via PBT
Posted on: December 26, 2011 12:29 am
Edited on: December 26, 2011 12:31 am
 

Theory and Proof: Lakers are who we thought

By Matt Moore

Theory: The Bulls did not play well and still won, and that says more about the Lakers than the Bulls. 

Proof: It's not so much that the Lakers played badly, because they didn't. It's that they played above how we thought they would Sunday, until the last five minutes, and then suddenly regressed to the mean at warp speed.  The Lakers had played well, above their talent level with an injured Kobe Bryant and a suspended Andrew Bynum, honestly, and looked primed to steal the game from out from under the Bulls. The Bulls were not making it hard on them. Derrick Rose was not great or even really emphatic until the last five minutes Luol Deng was more like the pre-2011 Luol Deng (good but inconsistent) than the 2011 Luol Deng (consistently great on both sides)... until the last five minutes. The Bulls shot poorly from the field, and were leaving wide-open perimeter shots left and right. 

And yet they won.

The easy way out is to say that Andrew Bynum will make everything better, that more time together will heal all wounds, but the bigger concern is that it wasn't the supporting cast of little-known non-stars that blew this game. It was Kobe Bryant his 8 turnovers, most notably the crucial final turnover that lead to Derrick Rose's go-ahead score. >Bryant shot 11-23 from the field. And there wasn't enough surrounding talent with Lamar Odom getting ejected in Dallas and Bynum at hometo cover. His shot selection wasn't really a problem until his final two attempts, where he forced things, especially his final shot, a baseline running fadea, away trying to get over three Bulls. That's not Bryant anymore. 

The formula for the Lakers has to be Mike Brown's defense  gets them in range, then the star power finishes the job. But if the star power isn't able to convert, the Lakers are in trouble. The kind of trouble we thought they might bed the going into the season. Bynum's out three more games, and the Lakers play two lottery squads in a row. But if things went this right and they still lost Sunday, isn't there a chance things could start even worse for the Lakers?
Posted on: December 25, 2011 8:24 pm
Edited on: December 25, 2011 10:22 pm
 

Video: Derrick Rose game winner over Lakers

By Matt Moore

For 40 minutes, the Lakers were the better team. Then everything fell apart for L.A. against the Bulls. They missed free throws, took bad shots, and turned the ball over constantly. With the Bulls having closed within one, the Lakers had the ball with under 20 seconds left. Maintain possession, force the foul, hit free throws, and get out with an ugly but impressive win over the East's best team last season. 

But as we've seen all through the month of December, things simply aren't diagrammed that way for the Lakers right now. Instead, this happened.


 

The Lakers have not won a game since defeating the Hornets in the first round of last year's playoffs. Kobe Bryant hit some big shots but also turned the ball over 8 times against the Bulls. On a day where the Lakers scrapped and did a fantastic job shutting down Rose and the Bulls' offense, they simply fell apart, and the finger has to point to Kobe Bryant. 

Meanwhile... Derrick Rose made the play when he need to, just like he did all of the regular season last year. It wasn't the best start for the Bulls, but it's a win, and that's good enough. Also, you can almost see Rose's eyes go wide when he realizes he has Derek Fisher one-on-one.
Posted on: December 24, 2011 1:19 pm
Edited on: December 24, 2011 10:03 pm
 

The 12 Things of NBA Christmas



by Matt Moore


GAMES. Sweet merciful games.

The wait is over. Ol' Saint Nick has shimmied down the Christmas tree and that means the NBA has returned to our lives, kicking off with five games Sunday and a righteous quintuple it is. Boston tests an unsteady bench against the new-look Knicks (same old Knicks, except for a good rookie and one big exception down low). The Heat must watch the Mavericks' banner raised and then go toe-to-toe with the team that ousted them in the Finals. The Lakers will try to prove that Lamar Odom wasn't the whole team, Kobe Bryant's wrist is fine, and they are still the most dominant franchise in the West against the MVP Derek Rose and the league's best defense. The Magic try to pretend everything's fine while polishing silverware on the Titanic against a Western Conference favorite, the Oklahoma City Thunder. And finally Lob City premiers against the Golden State Warriors, who are looking for something new under Mark Jackson.

It's going to be fun. So on the night before Christmas, we're hear to stuff the stockings with what you need to know for each game. Here are 12 Things of NBA Christmas.

1. "Later on we'll conspire, while we lay by the fire..."

The Heat failed. And everyone pointed and laughed. After all the pomp and circumstance, the unbelievably arrogant approach to their formation and celebration thereof, followed by a somehow more outrageous backlash against three basketball players who decided to play for the same team through free agency, the Heat were left broken and tarnished by a Mavericks team which lacked neither star power nor confidence. Not that you'd know it by the storylines drawn out. Still, the Heat took a nasty fall. But during the summer and all the way through the lockout, we hardly heard a thing from them. A few appearances from Dwyane Wade. Some exhibition appearances by LeBron James. Chris Bosh went to ESPN for a day. That was it. Nothing outrageous, no outlandish proclamations or denials of the fact they had their tails kicked. Now they return to the scene of the crime, where everything started to turn for them on a warm June night in Dallas, when the series shifted on the back of their inability to stop Dirk Nowitzki.

When the Heat stumbled last season, the idea was that James, Wade, and Bosh needed more time together, and with their teammates. That chemistry couldn't be built in a day, and that even if they struggled early, it would come. Yet even in advancing to the Finals, there were so many moments where the Heat never looked like they truly belonged together, like they were thrust together without a core concept. We're still waiting for a Heat team that, for lack of a better term, makes sense. A mega-scoring, high-rebound-rate, gamble-defending shooting guard. A prolific do-it-all and rarely do enough, lock-down defender, brilliant vision in a Hummer-like body small forward. And a whisper-thin, mid-range joltin', defensively adequate power forward. It's just an odd combination. They had their trial season, and they fell only two games short of a title. But still short. This is their chance to show the world they've learned from their mistakes and that it was a rare combination of factors that led to their demise against the Mavs. With Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea gone, this isn't the same Dallas team that had the formula to stop what no one else could. The Heat can make a statement Sunday.

But we've heard that before.

2. "He's making a list and checking it twice, gonna find out who's naughty and nice..."

All this Lakers drama. You know what's lost in the talk of the Odom trade, of Kobe's wrist, of the Chris Paul trade that wasn't (and should never have been)? Derrick Rose is coming to Los Angeles and he's bringing all the fury a dissed MVP can bring. None of us have him repeating. Very few experts do. But Rose is consistently the most devastating single player in professional basketball and he's going up against a team still starting Derek Fisher, with Steve Blake backing him up. Blake defended Chris Paul admirably in two preseason games against the Clippers. But Rose's explosiveness is the stuff of legend. Plus, once he gets past his primary defender, there will be no Andrew Bynum, serving five games for being naughty in the worst (clubbing J.J. Barae in last year's playoffs in an all-time disgusting move). Rose instead will face Pau Gasol and Josh McRoberts at the rim. McBob is a good player and will pay well or the Lakers. But he ain't Bynum.

Rose sees no reason why he can't repeat as MVP. And after an offseason hearing about everyone else and how LeBron left coal in his ECF stocking by shutting him down, Rose likely has some motivation. I'm reminded of a line from "The Dark Knight." "Turn it off. He doesn't want to talk to us. God help whoever he does want to talk to."

3. "Deck the halls with boughs of holly, fa la la la LOB, la la la la"

Tis the season to be jolly in ... Clipper-land? When has that ever been the case? But Sunday means the debut of Lob City (pause for collective groan for people who quickly tire of memes and/or Lakers fans) against the Warriors. Is the pressure too high? Will they be trolled by Yuletide carols? I don't know what that means but it fits with the song; roll with it. The Clippers are facing a team that has been one of the worst defensively over the past decade or so. Mark Jackson is furiously trying to instill a new attitude, but this isn't a great place to start. Kwame Brown is a better interior defender than Andris Biedrins, but isn't good enough to defend two places at once. With Stephen Curry on a bum kneee, the Oop Outlet could be open on Christmas Day. All eyes will be on the Clippers to see if the newest superteam will live up to the billing or disappoint like so many others have. No pressure, there, Blake.

4. "I'll have a Blue Christmas without you..."

The Lakers need Andrew Bnyum. This is the first time you can really say that. They won the title in 2009 without him. They could have won the title in 2010 without him. He was the only thing really keeping them afloat for much of the last half of 2011. And now with Kobe Bryant injured for their opener vs. Chicago, Bynum's injury is even more in focus. It's his overwhelming presence on both ends that makes the Lakers more nasty and tougher to stop. Kobe Bryant can pull this game out, even with a torn ligament in his wrist. He's done it before, he'll do it again. But the Lakers are going to be sorely missing the young stud that holds the key to their future ... one way or another.

5. "All of the other reindeer, used to laugh and call him names, (LIKE PINOCHIO!)..."

I know, I know, I should have spit that one out for the Clippers. But this is also can refer to the Knicks, who for years have been dismissed first as a team terrible in every phase but recently because of their defense. But then one foggy (I don't know if it'll be foggy Saturday night in New York or not), Christmas Eve, Mike D'Antoni came to say, "Tyson Chandler, with your defense so bright, won't you dominate inside against a Celtics team which is paper thin inside tonight?"

The questions are going to continue about the Knicks. Chandler has been with the Knicks for a whole ... week. It may not work at all. But he's got a chance to help redefine what defense for the Knicks means, alongside Mike Woodson. And if things go right, the Knicks could go down in history. OK, let's just start with beating the Celtics in the opener.

6. "Please come home for Christmas."

So say Magic fans to Dwight Howard.

7. "And so this is Christmas, I hope you have fun, the near and the dear one, the old and the young"

The Celtics still have the talent, right? I mean, this is a league where older teams win. Dominate, even. Most of the champions are veteran groups. Yes, the Celtics are ... old. But Rajon Rondo's not. Brandon Bass isn't. They have some legs left. And it's not as many months. So on Sunday against the Knicks, it's not like the Celtics are going to be able to compete with the Knicks. In fact, in most of their games against the Knicks under Mike D'Antoni, the Celtics have used the same tactic employed by the Spurs against the Suns for years: They ran them out of the building. The Celtics actually are a great fast-break team, with Allen sprinting to the corner, Rondo running the break and Pierce a brilliant cherry picker.

So even if they're old, this is still likely a better overall team than the Knicks. But this first game could be relevant in showing us how big a hill both teams have to climb, and maybe who'll take early control of the division.

8. "The fire is slowly dying, and my dear, we're still, goodbye-ing. But as long as you love me so, let it snow..."

The Mavericks are going to fade off into the sunset. This is not a young team. Dirk Nowitkzi's game and condition should allow him to play until he's, oh, 60. But think about Petyon Manning. How quickly did this guy, who should have played at a high level into his 40s, see his career change? Granted, different sort of contact sport and all, my point is just that we never know when things change. And if Dirk does suffer any sort of decline because of age, the Mavericks dip too. Jason Kidd is nearly middle-aged, Jason Terry has a lot of frequent flier miles on him and Lamar Odom's no spring chicken. But on Sunday, they get to watch the banner raised in American Airlines, legitimizing Dirk's career and establishing the franchise as world champs. Yeah, it's getting cold, but the world will still love this team for their run last year and they've got enough in them to make another crack at it. Let it snow.

9. "Dashing through the snow, in a one-horse open sleigh."

Are the Bulls going to be a one-horse open sleigh, or do they have some help? Will Rip Hamilton help the Bulls space the floor against the Lakers? Can Carlos Bozer score on Josh McRoberts after struggling against McBob's Indiana Pacers last season? Can the Bulls score consistently? We know the defense will be there, but the Bulls wanted a scoring upgrade this season. The Lakers, even without Bynum and Odom, are going to be a great test of how far they've come. The Lakers will score. How much the Bulls score will determine if they start the season in a rush or a slide.

10. "Me, I want a hula-hoop..."

In this scenario, Mark Jackson is Alvin and the hula-hoop is a healthy-enough-to-play Stephen Curry. And a defense. And some consistent shooting. And smart basketball. It's a big hula-hoop.

11. "All I want for Christmas is you..."

Blake Griffin got the best Christmas gift possible. The Dunk-o-meter may get broken this season. The Clippers get to test out their new toy Sunday night. Chris Paul will make Blake Griffin the best player he can be. And that is terrifying for the rest of the league.

12. "And the boys of the NYPD choir were singing "Galway Bay," and the bells were ringing out for Christmas Day."

That's from a song about crushed dreams but sticking together because you've built your lives around one another. And after a vicious lockout that divided players, owners, fans and media, games are back. We're stuck with each other. Let's tip it off. Happy Holidays.
Posted on: December 23, 2011 3:19 pm
 

NBA reduces Bynum's suspension to four games

Posted by Royce Young

Here you go Lakers, the NBA's throwing you a bone after that whole Chris Paul thing.

The league announced Friday that Andrew Bynum's five-game suspension for trying to decapitate J.J. Barea in the playoffs has been reduced to four games because of the shortened season.

Charlie Villanueva, who was serving a five game suspension as well, will have his reduced to four too. Villanueva was suspended five games last season for an altercation with Cleveland's Ryan Hollins, but only has to serve three more games as he already sat out one last year.

It's a completely fair move by the league, as a five-game suspension in a 66-game season equates to a little more than six games in a regular 82-game season.

Pretty important development for the Lakers though, as Bynum's suspension could've potentially started the team out in a bit of a hole. Kobe's got an injured wrist, there's no Lamar Odom to fill in at power forward while Pau Gasol plays center, so without Bynum, the Lakers could really be hurting. While he still have to miss four, just getting one back is a nice Christmas present from the league.
Posted on: December 23, 2011 1:32 pm
Edited on: December 23, 2011 9:46 pm
 

2011-12 official NBA season predictions

Posted by Eye on Basketball



The season is finally, mercifully, just around the corner. In two days the 2011-2012 season kicks off. For all the lockout, legality, and lost games, there will be basketball. But we find a dramatically different NBA than we left. The Lakers are in disarray, the Celtics are fading, the Clippers are a potential powerhouse, and the Raptors... okay, the Raptors are still terrible.

So how is this all going to work out? We bring you our predictions for the 2011-2012 season, along with some random predictions on how things will go according to our crystal ball. (Note: We got our crystal ball at a flea market in southern Missouri. It also says "Get 'Er Done" on it.)

Three Random Predictions from Eye on Basketball

Royce Young:
1. Monta Ellis will be the biggest name traded this season. You can probably read between the lines there. That means Dwight Howard isn't getting dealt. The Magic are going to spend the first two months of the season trying to convince Howard to go to free agency, mainly because there isn't a suitable package on the market at this point. The Warriors though have been dangling Ellis on the market for a while, coming close to trading him for Andre Iguodala last season. They want to turn the backcourt over to Stephen Curry entirely and moving Ellis is what needs to happen to both Curry and the organization's development.

2. Flip Saunders will be the first coach fired. The Wizards are sort of a mess. John Wall has a ton of talent and young guys like Nick Young, JaVale McGee and Jordan Crawford have potential. But they don't appear to be moving forward as a team. Saunders is a really good coach and him being fired wouldn't be an indictment on his ability to coach. Sometimes young players just need a new direction, a new voice to listen to. You can't risk stunting development with young players and if the Wizards start slow and more importantly, sloppy, Saunders will get the axe.

3. Kevin Durant will win a third straight scoring title. Only six players in NBA history have ever won three consecutive scoring titles (Michael Jordan, George Gervin, Bob McAdoo, Wilt Chamberlain, Neil Johnston, George Mikan). So it's not some small task. I could see Durant's scoring decrease a bit because of James Harden’s emergence as a legit third scorer. That doesn’t mean Durant won’t average 27 or 28 a game, but I don’t see him bursting into 33 or 34 points per game range. He’ll take another scoring title simply because he just can’t help it. Dude could score 27 a game if he was in a full body cast.

Ben Golliver:
1. The Lakers will land Dwight Howard. The Lakers have dealt from a position of power for as long as anyone can remember, but the last month's insanity has now pushed them into desperation mode. This group, even if perfectly healthy, can't win a title this year and there are so many dead weight contracts a handful of amnesty clauses still wouldn't be enough. Put that together with Kobe Bryant's increasing age and the Lakers have no choice but to swing for the fences and deal every last tradable asset for Dwight Howard. Magic GM Otis Smith has been taking his time, as he should, but there's so much writing on this wall it looks like a New York City subway car covered in graffiti. Gasol, Bynum and whatever else L.A. can muster will head East.

2. We'll have a tank-off for the ages. Given the weirdness of the shortened season and the absolutely loaded 2012 NBA Draft, there's never been a better time for below-average teams to write off a season in hopes of landing a top draft pick. The Charlotte Bobcats, Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers are your top-3 contenders for tankapalooza, but the Washington Wizards, New Orleans Hornets, Detroit Pistons and New Jersey Nets are one injury away from being in combustion mode too. The smart money is on the Bobcats but brace yourself for some truly hideous basketball.

3. Erik Spoelstra will win Coach of the Year. Miami enters the season on what feels like a perfect storm: they key players are in shape, healthy, motivated, focused and extremely, extremely talented. Importantly, they bring with them a mindset of "We've been through the worst of it and we know what to expect now" and also realize that the only team that stood between them and the 2011 championship, the Dallas Mavericks, lost its most important defensive player in Tyson Chandler. Add up all of those factors and we're looking at the possibility of Miami making a mockery of the regular season, running off lengthy winning streaks and only slowing down if they get to the point where homecourt advantage is already wrapped up. A 50-win season is well within reach and, if that benchmark is met, look for Spoelstra, who dealt with rumors about his job last season, getting tapped for Coach of the Year honors.

Matt Moore:
1. The Lakers will figure something out. This franchise does not rebuild. It reloads. And with the assets they have and under the urgent leadership of the younger Buss, something will go down. Maybe it's Dwight Howard, maybe it's a solution we can't see yet that comes out of nowhere. But the Lakers have been a dominant franchise since the inception of the league. They will not go down quietly, not with Kobe Bryant facing the end of his career. Something will shake out for the Purple and Gold.

2. One of the superteams will self-destruct. It's not that superteams are inherently flawed. On the contrary, they have an obscenely high probability of success. But they are not 100 percent proof. And the very problems that can help more complete team efforts topple the superteams (chemistry, selfless play, ball movement, defense) will spell a blowup of one of the juggernauts. Maybe it's the Heat who simply find that they can win a ton of games but never be truly great with the 1-2-3 of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. Maybe it's the Knicks who find that they truly do need a creator to run an offense geared around front-court scoring. Maybe it's the Clippers and Lob City turns out to be the Wizards' Oz. Or maybe it will be the Nets who find that Deron Williams and Dwight Howard aren't enough with the horrible roster they have around them should they land Howard. But one team will find that their experiment with overwhelming firepower was a mistake.

3. Josh Smith or Andre Iguodala will be with new teams by year's end. I'm a believer that situations that reveal themselves as untenable will not hold. And both of those players have been on the trade block for far too long. Smith has wanted off the Hawks, the Sixers have wanted to move Iguodala for a scoring punch for multiple seasons. It's simply unlikely that both teams will elect to stay put the whole year through, especially since both teams are in direct competition for the mid-to-late playoff spots in the East. Where those two end up could have significant impacts on the playoffs.

2011-12 NBA Season Predictions
Prediction Ken Berger
Matt Moore

Ben Golliver

Royce Young
Atlantic Division Winner
Central Division Winner
Southeast Division Winner
Southwest Division Winner
Northwest Division Winner
Pacific Division Winner
Eastern Conference Winners
Bulls over Heat

Heat over Bulls

Heat over Bulls

Heat over Bulls
Western Conference Winners
Thunder over Mavericks

Thunder over Lakers

Thunder over Clippers

Thunder over Grizzlies
Finals Winner
Most Valuable Player
Dwyane Wade
Heat, SG

Kevin Durant
Thunder, SF

LeBron James
Heat, SF

Blake Griffin
Clippers, PF
Rookie of the Year
Kyrie Irving
Cavaliers, PG

Ricky Rubio
Timberwolves, PG

Ricky Rubio
Timberwolves, PG

Derrick Williams
Timberwolves, PF


Predictions: 2011-12 Eastern Conference Playoff Teams
Seed Ken Berger
Matt Moore

Ben Golliver

Royce Young
No. 1
No. 2
No. 3
No. 4
No. 5
No. 6
No. 7
No. 8


Predictions: 2011-12 Western Conference Playoff Teams
Seed Ken Berger
Matt Moore

Ben Golliver

Royce Young
No. 1
No. 2
No. 3
No. 4
No. 5
No. 6
No. 7
No. 8
Posted on: December 23, 2011 10:58 am
 

The Lakers are not a fan of Lob City

Posted by Royce Young

Matt Barnes doesn't get along with a lot of people. It's kind of been his thing in the NBA during his eight NBA seasons. He's an enforcer, a goon, a tough-guy -- whatever you want to call him. He tells it like it is and then takes that act on to the court. Remember, he punched a guy in a pro-am game this summer.

In the Lakers second preseason game he gave Blake Griffin a nice little shove for apparently no reason and did his fair share of talking. Why? Because he's not a fan of Lob City. Via ESPN LA:

"They have a lot of reason to be excited, but all the celebration after dunks and all that kind of stuff, I mean, I just kind of think it looks amazing and it makes 'SportsCenter,' but I mean, let's just play basketball ... They act like they won the dunk contest after every dunk," Barnes said. "So, as players, people aren't going to tolerate that."

I think Barnes has things confused. They don't act like they won a dunk contest, it just looks like it because Lob City's dunks are kind of ridiculous. He probably just forgot what all that looks like playing for the Lakers where the guy with the most hops on the roster is probably some D-Leaguer that's getting waived this week.

Pau Gasol was frustrated with the Clippers as well and you're going to love his reason why.

"I think we were upset that they were flopping a little too much," he said.

That's right. Pau Gasol was unhappy with someone flopping. It really is a new Los Angeles. Barnes took the baton and added onto that, specifically about Griffin.

"He's an amazing athlete and an amazing player but he does flop a lot," Barnes said. "You're too big and too strong to be doing that. Then he wants to talk.

"... He's a special athlete. Probably one of the best athletes I've ever seen, but all the flopping is unnecessary. That's the way he plays and it works too, they call it, so you can't be mad at him for it ... I looked at [the replay] and yeah, my arms did get extended but [Griffin] flailed everywhere like I threw him to half-court."

Here's the thing: Barnes is right. Blake Griffin has a horrible habit of exaggerating fouls. If he gets a small pop in the nose, he whips his head back like he just got drilled by Manny Pacquiao. If he gets pushed, he throws his arms out like he's belly-flopping. I mean, remember this? It made Andre Miller look like Brian Urlacher.

Thing is, Griffin has been told his whole life by his parents, coaches, friends and whoever else that everyone on the court is out to get him. He's been told that they're playing intentionally rough with him, that the refs aren't being fair because he's bigger and stronger. So it's just something he thinks. Hence the exaggerating. It's annoying, but it's just how it is.

The moral of the story is, the Lakers aren't really digging this whole Lob City thing. They've tried to be nice about it, but after all the woofing they likely heard over two preseason wins, they're sick of it. They're the team with the banners in Staples, not the Clips. 

And just so you know, the next meeting between the two teams is Jan. 14. Expect some fireworks.

Posted on: December 22, 2011 2:41 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 3:40 pm
 

Lopez' injury puts Dwight deal in more jeopardy


By Matt Moore

The New Jersey Nets announced Thursday that center Brook Lopez has a broken foot and will undergo surgery. His listed recovery time is 4-6 weeks, but the injury is also similar to the one that sidelined Mavs' guard Roddy Beaubois for months and which SI.com says doctors have said can take up to 4 months to heal. 

So no, this is not good news.

But as bad as it is for Lopez, it also has huge ramifications for the Nets and their pursuit of Dwight Howard. Lopez was the centerpiece of any trade to Orlando, giving the Magic a young center to at least take the sting off losing the league's best big man. At 4-6 weeks, there's time for Lopez to recover and get back on the floor to show himself still worth the Magic's investment (I'm sure that's No.1 on his list of priorities). But that assumes his surgery goes perfectly, his recovery is without flaw, and that his return has no issues.

At that point, the Nets may be one of the worst teams in the league. Howard will be staring at going to a team he'd have to claw out of the cellar alongside Deron Williams with, after having had to likely give up even more assets to account for the instability of Lopez' situation. While Howard would be looking at the big picture with regards to playing in Brooklyn the next six seasons, these superstars want to win now, every year, and don't want to risk missing the playoffs even a single season. The Magic would be then trading for a seven-foot center with a foot injury, which hasn't gone well in the history of the NBA. That damages the Nets' leverage in the package they'd have to give up, which would mean Howard would be giving his commitment to a team with nearly nothing on roster outside of Deron Williams.

Which isn't wholly different from what Carmelo Anthony did. But the Knicks were at least in playoff position at the time of the trade. Without Lopez, we see more of Johan Petro. The Nets' frontcourt, even with productive big man Kris Humphries, is going to be a near-disaster. Deron Williams is one of the top five point guards in the league, but there are limits to what even he can do.

Lopez meanwhile is faced with the balance of wanting to compete and do his job, wanting to get back on the floor as quickly as possible, and leveraging that against his long-term health. Throw in how the Nets have treated him for the past year, both in terms of his relationship with Avery Johnson and in his inecessant involvement in trade rumors, and Lopez will be rushing back from a serious injury to help a team that is clearly not invested in his future. Maybe he pushes himself just to get out of the situation, but it's not an unpleasant one, and that's before you deal with the mental and physical damage from undergoing this kind of injury process.

The Nets still have a chance at pulling off the trade which would set them up long-term in the future. But after making a huge gamble in trading for Deron Williams last season and surrendering nearly half their talent base, the Lopez injury makes the odds even worse. There's really only two ways this works out. The Nets pull of a miracle trade for Dwight Howard because he simply wants to play in Brooklyn that much, or they lose everything.

Meanwhile, Andrew Bynum looked spectacular in preseason play Wednesday night.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com