Tag:Los Angeles Lakers
Posted on: February 10, 2012 3:24 pm
By Matt Moore
In this week's edition of the Friday 5, Ken Berger talks Lakers-Celtics, the power in the East, and what to blame LeBron for this week. You can follow Ken Berger on Twitter @KBergCBS.
1. There's a common refrain in your column from Lakers-Celtics Thursday and others, which is that it was a fun rivalry game (even if neither team shot over 40%), but there's a definite sense that neither team is in a position to contend. I argued yesterday neither team is dead. What's the big key for Boston, outside of just being healthy? Is there one? Or do they just have to hope the same formula works two years later?
KB: It's mostly the same formula for Boston, and it's a pretty damn good formula as long as Pierce, Allen, Rondo and Garnett remain upright. The key for the Celtics is getting more size (to contend with Dwight Howard and to protect the rim from Derrick Rose, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade). Jermaine O'Neal isn't going to cut it. The Lakers need a point guard who can get into the paint in the worst way.
2. Is it accurate to say that it's shaping up where one team out of the Lakers, Mavericks, and Nets is going to be completely screwed after this summer? Dwight can't go to all places at once.
KB: Well, some are in more danger than others. The Nets and Magic (take your pick in terms of what order) are most vulnerable. If the Lakers don't get him, at least they still have Kobe, Bynum and Gasol. If the Mavs get neither Dwight nor D-Will, they'll still have Dirk and the flexibility to upgrade in a vibrant free-agent class. But if the Nets don't get Howard, chances are they lose Williams. A fascinating game of musical stars.
3. What's the one team in the top of the East which isn't an Eastern Conference Finals contender? Who's the fraud?
KB: No frauds, really. I see seven locks (Chicago, Miami, Philly, Boston, Orlando, Atlanta and Indiana). In the battle for eighth, it's Milwaukee (missing Andrew Bogut) and the multiple-personality Knicks. The Cavs shouldn't be dismissed, as GM Chris Grant has been patient with the assets he received for LeBron and could make a move if the fit is right. In a short season, strange things can and usually do happen.
4. After seeing Philly up close this week, what are your thoughts on the job Doug Collins has done there?
KB: Tremendously impressed with Collins and the Sixers. Love how they defend and play unselfish team basketball. If they get a consistent post scorer, they could possibly be a conference finalist. Depends on whether they want to be patient or try to make a big move while the opportunity is there. Sometimes, those moves are the ones that blow up on you, though.
5. LeBron James went on a little rant this week about people blaming everything, including being out of milk, on him. What's your favorite thing to blame on LeBron? /eyeroll
KB: I blame LeBron for Linsanity. Somebody has to.
Posted on: February 10, 2012 1:39 am
Edited on: February 10, 2012 1:48 am
Posted by Royce Young
Each night, Eye on Basketball brings you what you need to know about the games of the NBA. From great performances to terrible clock management the report card evaluates and eviscerates the good, the bad, and the ugly from the night that was.
Posted on: February 9, 2012 5:21 pm
Edited on: February 9, 2012 5:32 pm
In high school, a girlfriend bought me a a button that says "conscientous agitator." My wife constantly refers to my combative tone as "poking large bears in the bum with pointy sticks." So I'm pretty familiar with how to say things that aren't technically saying things while actually saying exactly what the thing is not supposed to say... you might say. And I'm saying that Kobe Bryant is trying to say something in his recent comments this month. Let's take a dip in the oily pool, shall we?
From the Los Angeles Times on February 1st:
"Because of the changes in the players and so forth, you just can't come out of the gates and fight for a 1 seed or a 2 seed," he said. "That's just not realistic, but we want to build and get better and go into the playoffs with momentum."via Lakers FYI: Kobe Bryant says other teams are still worried about the Lakers - Los Angeles Times.
In that same article he warns that the Lakers could be dangerous when the playoffs start. But this is Kobe Bryant, obsessed with winning, talking about how his team can't reasonably expect to be the first or second best team in the West, and that his team might be dangerous. That was eight days ago. Thursday on ESPN radio, via ESPN LA Bryant said he was sure the team would make a trade as we discussed here. Here are more comments from Bryant:
" They obviously tried to pull the trigger on a trade that they thought was going to improve our team with CP and it just didn't happen. But, that shows me that they're thinking in the right direction in terms of doing things to improve our ballclub. So that's why I'm not really tripping on it. We have to be patient and we have to make the right moves and I'm sure we will."via Driven Kobe Bryant thinks Los Angeles Lakers will 'tweak' team - ESPN Los Angeles.
The standard duck-and-cover answer for whether you think an organization will make a trade is "I don't know. I don't worry about those things. That's something (the team's GM) worries about." It's simple. It's easy. It's effective, it closes off all doors.
What Bryant did is the opposite of that.
He's essentially pushed the organization to make a move. That's the star, the face of the franchise, the second-best-to-best player in the history of the most successful team in the NBA publicly stating that he expects his team will make a move. The hidden implication there is that he expects that because to do otherwise would be a mistake. He's not calling out teammates, he's not speaking directly about Dwight Howard or Deron Williams, though he said he'd like to play with "both of them." But he's putting it out there that going into the playoffs with Bryant chasing his sixth ring with this configuration is not acceptable.
There's no "We've got Andrew and Pau and Metta" or "I believe our coaches can win with this roster." Just "We could be dangerous when the playoffs come around. Bryant in the interview actually specifically discusses why this situation is different from the beginning of the 07-08 season when he was demanding a trade. Which means he considers things to be bad enough to compare the two situations. Again, not trying to connect phantom trains here, but with Bryant there's always the implication of what he doesn't say when he says something. It's easy to provide a transluscent answer that gives a reporter or interviewer nothing. Instead Bryant openly said "expect change" which isn't far from "we'd better trade someone so I don't feel like I have to score 40 (on 30 shots, he'll conveniently omit) every game."
Meanwhile indications from multiple outlets suggest Dwight Howard has soured on the Lakers, which would mean that Deron Williams if off the table as the Nets would be firmly in the top spot for Howard. With Chris Paul playing the other nights at Staples, the Lakers are running out of All-Stars to go get Bryant.
Maybe Bryant is as patient as his quotes claim he is. But there's a pattern forming, and it suggest a Black Mamba unhappy with how tight his cage is.
Posted on: February 9, 2012 4:30 pm
By Matt Moore
Lakers vs. Celtics just doesn't have the same umph to it it usually does, does it?
I mean, it's not like we're talking about lottery squads. The Lakers are 14-11, the Celtics 14-10. Neither team is below .500 even if neither team is remarkably above. Kobe Bryant? Still walking into the Garden Thursday night. Same for Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Rajon Rondo. The only real players missing from their titanic clashes over the past four years are Kendrick Perkins, feuding with LeBron over someone else's dunk on him, and Lamar Odom, struggling to be the Lamar Odom he was with the Lakers without the Lakers, (or Phil Jackson). The cast of characters is essentially still in place.
But this feels more like a sideshow game, a "don't call it an old timer's game" than a showdown between contenders. Suddenly it's the Lakers and Celtics trying to prove that they can still do it, can still facedown the younger, hungrier teams and make a run at the title.
The Lakers are lethargic. Everything on offense seems so difficult. Kobe Bryant's brilliant scoring numbers are lauded by scribes who aren't bothering to check how many shots he's putting up. We've gotten to the point where Lakers fans are more consciously aware of where Bryant is at in his career than the scribes who are paid to watch on a nightly basis. Because "Kobe Bryant, once and always scoring king" is a better story. Let's not get this confused. Bryant's not Joe Johnson here. He's got a 23.4 PER. He's shooting 44 percent from the field. But the reality is that Bryant's forcing this, as much as he's ever forced it. Maybe he has to because of he offense, which seems to meander between helpless and workman-like. The Lakers are winning more games than they're losing. But they're also losing so many games they once dispatched with ease.
The Celtics are just sloppy. They're on a tear, a five-game winning streak, and have been pounding teams back into the dirt. But there are still long stretches where you can tell the Celtics just struggle with what to do. Paul Pierce has picked up his play, Ray Allen is still knocking down shots, and Kevin Garnett is still doing Kevin Garnett things. But there's a general lack of cohesion, a lack of precision, a failure to execute cleanly that we've seen in the past. This is still a very good team. But it doesn't feel like the Celtics of old.
So is Thursday night's game meaningless? Is the window closed?
Absolutely not. Bryant, in the L.A. Times:
Though they may falter on the road and remain in the middle of the playoff pack, Bryant didnt seem overly concerned looking ahead to May.via Lakers FYI: Kobe Bryant says other teams are still worried about the Lakers - Los Angeles Times.
Bryant's on target here. Because the same thing that ensures neither team will be able to acquire a top-three seed in all likelihood is the very thing that ensures that trying to dig them out of the playoffs will be like getting shrapnel out of wood with a spoon.
There's a not-so-secret adage that says that young teams don't win titles. Experienced teams do. The Spurs, the Celtics, the Lakers, the Mavericks. The Mavericks spoke very strongly last spring of the benefits of having players who knew how to respond, to keep their cool, to execute consistently. The Celtics and Lakers have precisely those teams.
This season is about survival, it's about simply managing to get through this brutal, compact season, avoid long-term injuries and make it into the dance, so to speak. Once that happens, the game changes. The pace slows down, where the Celtics are more comfortable. The Lakers' length and size become dramatically different in terms of impact. Kobe Bryant's efficiency becomes less important because all efficiency is impacted by the style of play. Pau Gasol's versatility becomes an asset. The Celtics' savvy in drawing and avoiding fouls frustrates teams. Does that mean that either will be representing their conference in the Finals? Not necessarily. But it does mean that dealing with them will not be easy. The Heat may have dismissed the Celtics last season, but there's no reason to think the Celtics can't turn a few more opportunities into wins. The Lakers were trounced by a Mavs team that no longer exists. In fact, the Lakers could very well be a different team in a matter of weeks.
The Boston-L.A. rivalry resumes Thursday night, and it doesn't feel the same as it once did.
But maybe it will provide both with a reminder of how good they can be, and how very much they would like to see the other again sometime in June.
Posted on: February 9, 2012 1:42 pm
Edited on: February 9, 2012 1:57 pm
The plan is finally starting to come together.
In the immediate aftermath of Shaquille O'Neal's retirement back in June 2011, the Los Angeles Lakers announced that the franchise would retire his No. 34 jersey.
At the time, a team spokesperson said there was no timetable for when the ceremony would take place.
NBA.com reports on Thursday that the Lakers are expected to retire O'Neal's jersey during the 2012-2013 season, citing the rushed lockout schedule as the reason why the ceremony didn't take place this year.
O'Neal paired with Lakers guard Kobe Bryant to win three titles for the franchise. His time with the Lakers is generally regarded as the high point of his career, making the jersey retirement decision a no-brainer.
Lakers owner Jerry Buss issued a statement of appreciation for O'Neal last summer.
"Shaq had a long and amazing career," Buss' statement read. "A huge impact both on and off the court. His contributions were significant to the entire NBA, but we specifically appreciate what he did with and what he meant to the Lakers during his eight years with us. We have three championships that we wouldn’t have won without him, and we will forever be grateful for his significant contributions to those teams."
Earlier this week, Bryant passed O'Neal to move into fifth place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. O'Neal graciously congratulated Bryant on the achievement, calling him, "the greatest Laker ever."
O'Neal is currently serving as an NBA commentator for TNT.
The Lakers have only retired the jerseys of seven players to date. All seven are members of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
The full list:
Posted on: February 9, 2012 1:06 pm
The NBA's trade deadline sits roughly one month away, and for Los Angeles Lakers All-Star guard Kobe Bryant, that means roster improvements are just around the corner.
ESPNLA.com reports that Bryant took to the radio airwaves to express his expectation that the Lakers will make moves in advance of the trade deadline to help push the Lakers towards Bryant's sixth title.
These statements amount to light pressure on management from Bryant. He's not demanding the world -- Deron Williams or Dwight Howard -- and he sounds like he has fully processed how hard the Lakers got jobbed in the Chris Paul fiasco. But he's also not willing to settle with the roster status quo, or he wouldn't publicly verbalize how "sure" he is that moves are coming.
After a shaky start, the Lakers are stuck in the middle of the crowded Western Conference table, sitting in seventh place with a record of 14-11 on Thursday. They're just 1.5 games out of the fourth seed and just 1.5 games ahead of the eleventh seed, so roster improvement, even a "tweak" like Bryant describes, has major implications.
The Lakers stand out from that Western Conference pack as obvious buyers because of Bryant's all-or-nothing need to win a title, because of the large-market expectations that go with being the Lakers and because of the Lamar Odom trade exception, which allows L.A. to take on salary in a short-term roster boost type move.
Given Bryant's steadiness and center Andrew Bynum's health and career-year production, all eyes continue to be on the point guard position, and the Lakers were recently linked to Ramon Sessions in one report. That move, or one similar, would qualify as a "tweak," and it would make a meaningful difference to L.A.'s playoff positioning.
Posted on: February 9, 2012 12:53 pm
There are people that play through injuries, and then there's Kobe Bryant. Some just try and get by while something heals, but not Kobe. Despite having a torn up wrist, he didn't just get by, he averaged 29.3 points a game, tops in the NBA, shooting the ball all over and putting together a couple 40-point nights.
But that's in the past now, Kobe says. Via the O.C. Register:
Kobe Bryant told me after Lakers practice on Wednesday the torn ligament in his right wrist is completely behind him.A lot of people wondered if Kobe should just shut things down to let it heal, but it looks like he knew what he was doing. That's assuming it's actually healed and Kobe's not just saying that so everyone will quit asking about it.
Kobe had been taping his wrist, but even has ditched that too.
“I experimented with no injection in Utah, and the next game felt completely fine,” Bryant said. “So, no tape, no injection. I’m good.”
Kobe injured the wrist in the Lakers' first preseason game against the Clippers, when he fell hard landing on it. He didn't miss a game but instead just taped it up and played through it. He said he had to deal with constant pain, but obviously it was worth it to him to be on the floor for a Laker team that clearly needed him.
The wrist didn't stop Kobe from recently passing Shaquille O'Neal on the all-time scoring list either, as No. 24 moved to No. 4 on the NBA's top scorers list.
Posted on: February 8, 2012 7:16 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 7:44 pm
Ramon Sessions has been on the trade block for, well, pretty much his entire career. And now a report indicates there is a price in place for the talented, but never-starting point guard. From the News-Herald in Ohio:
Guard Ramon Sessions is expected to opt out of his contract after this season. He'd be seeking a multiyear deal. He's scheduled to earn $4.6 million next season.via NBA: Bob Finnan's three points and rumor mill - news-herald.com.
The problem with reports of this nature is they give no indication of what "a first-round pick " means. There's a huge gap in the NBA between picks No. 30 and No. 15 and No.15 and No.1. So a first-round pick has a world of difference. If the Cavaliers are asking for a 10-15 pick, thats likely high. Likewise, a pick that would facilitate a trade to, say, the Lakers likely would mean something under his value, even if packaged with a contract filler player.
The Cavs do need to move him, however. He has too much value on their bench but not nearly as much as budding star Kyrie Irving. The Lakers and Knicks have both been linked to talks with the Cavs, but with budding young point guard Jeremy Lin making waves in New York and the Lakers still eyeing a major trade for Dwight Howard, th eoptions may not be there.
Sessions is also having a down season, shooting only 34 percent, while holding relatively steady in assist rate. Sessions is likely to get offers, but that first-round pick likely doesn't have the value it did a few months ago. With Kyrie Irving's concussion, however, it'll be a while before the Cavs resume talks should they come in.