Monday, July 31, 2006

Your 2006-2007 Laker haiku format!

Kwame Brown

Bitched out by Jordan
Revitalized by Jackson
If only he could catch…

Kobe Bryant

Tenacious scorer
Frequent ballhog and rapist
Number eight no more

Andrew Bynum

They say that high school
Kids take time to develop.
At least he’s seven feet.

Brian Cook

He’s big. He can shoot.
Don’t ask for anything more
‘Cuz he can’t do it.

Maurice Evans

Acquired for Samb
I hear he plays good defense
I hope that’s not a lie

Jordan Farmar

Jews in basketball
Are reporters or owners.
This kid takes the court

Aaron McKie

Solid in Philly
Should have been “Ron Harper lite”
Please retire right now

Chris Mihm

A seven footer
With a nice shooting touch and moves,
Shouldn’t he score more?

Lamar Odom

Six foot ten inches
A multitude of mad skills
Kobe’s own Scottie

Smush Parker

Undrafted point guard
Solid in season, choked after.
Let’s teach him to shoot!

Vladimir Radmanovic

Vladimir now
Only when he learns to flop
Will he be Vlade

Ronny Turiaf

Heart problems are gone
Rebounds, hustle, dunks and blocks
The French Mark Madsen

Sasha Vujacic

Euro who can shoot.
Season highlight: trash talked Nash.
Too bad Nash bitched him.

Luke Walton

A Phil favorite
Son of “throw it down big man”
Student of the game

Shammond Williams

Quite short shooting guard
Not good enough to play point
Two mil down the drain.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Not really basketball news...

but everyone's favorite triangle cog has filmed his acting debut in "The Young and the Restless"

Laker You Tube Finding of the Week

Sunday, July 23, 2006

I Wish I could quit you Marquis

So, for some reason, Indiana traded their staring point guard for a back-up point guard who can't play plus two young guys who haven't done anything in their careers. From Indiana's perspective this makes no sense. Why would they get rid of a guy who dropped 40 in the playoffs and why would Darrell Armstrong want to leave Dallas (it was a sign-and-trade deal involving Armstrong)?

Perhaps the Pacers wanted to appease their newly acquired Marquis Daniels. There seems to be a strong relationship between Darrell and Marquis. "I think Marquis going there certainly was a factor," Glenn Schwartzman, Armstrong's agent said. "But Darrell's decision was about what was best for Darrell and his family." Now I can understand a young guy wanting to play with his mentor, but an old guy following a young buck? I smell a little Brokeback action. It's the only rational explanation I can come up with.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Laker YouTube Finding of the week

The Golden Madsen

Let's get to the big award....the 1st annual Golden Madsen Award for most fouls in a single summer league game goes to....Jason Maxiell.

On July 10 against the Phoenix Suns, big JM committed 11 fouls in 26 minutes. Runners-up Andrea Bargnani with 10 against the Kings, which helped send Kevin Martin to the line 24 times, and to James Singleton who completed the "Madsen Triple-Double" with 21 points, 12 rebounds and 10 fouls against Golden State.

Well-played Jason. Enjoy the beautiful trophy:

Summer League Wrap-up

For the Lakers, Andrew Bynum showed nice potential though very uneven performance. Jordan Farmar is showing he’s everything as advertised – a good floor leader, nice passer with ability to play ok on-the-ball defense and penetrate at will. Devin Green and Danillo Pinnock should both get invites to training camp. I hope Marcus Slaughter gets an invite to an NBA camp; he’s played well enough to deserve a roster spot.

Summer League All-Stars (non-rookie edition)

PG – John Lucas
SG – Kevin Martin
SF – Hakim Warrick
PF – Andray Blatche
C – Amare Stoudamire

2nd team
PG – Aaron Miles
SG – Marvin Williams
SF – James Singleton
PF – Ryan Gomes
C – Earl Barron

Honorable Mention: Deron Williams, Sean May, Sebastian Telfair, Travis Diener

Summer League All-Stars (rookie edition)

PG – Randy Foye
SG – Brandon Roy
SF – Rudy Gay
PF – Paul Milsap
C – Andrea Bargnani

2nd team

PG – Jordan Farmar
SG – Maurice Ager
SF – Ronnie Brewer
PF – Alexander Johnson
C – Josh Boone

Honorable Mention: Rajon Rondo, Adam Morrison, Marcus Williams

Thursday, July 20, 2006

This is what happens when you bet with Dirk on a playoff series

Sunday, July 16, 2006

More Summer League bits

Lakers – Andrew Bynum had an ugly game, but followed it up with a much stronger effort. JR “Today I’m not Danillo” Pinnock seems to be the early favorite for the last roster spot. He had another strong overall game including a dunk where he literally pulled the basket down. A dark horse for that last spot is Marcus Slaughter, an undrafted SF from San Diego State. He’s shot the ball well and has shown excellent defensive instincts, blocking three shots against Dallas.

Clippers – James Singleton is a rebounding beast. He’s averaging almost 14 in 35 minutes this summer.

PhiladelphiaShavlik Randolph flashed the potential he showed at Duke in a dominating performance versus Seattle in his first summer league game.

AtlantaMarvin Williams is a smooth operator, but doesn’t have the bulk to play the 4 spot. Shelden Williams isn’t showing much (and I’m not surprised).

UtahDeron Williams is good, very good like 16 points and 7 assists in less than 20 minutes good. Ronnie Brewer will be a Swiss army knife player in the NBA. Paul Milsap is as good a rebounder as in college and a good garbage player.

Cleveland – King James is going to like Shannon Brown a lot.

HoustonJohn Lucas is a summer league god and is fielding offers from 5 different teams (leaders in the clubhouse Houston and Phoenix). Matt Haryasz could make the team as a back-up big man. He’s nothing spectacular, but he’s competent. Chuck Hayes grabbed 19 boards vs. Dallas.

DallasMaurice Ager is streaky, but has good range and should fit in the Dallas offense better than Marquis Daniels (and I’m a huge Daniels fan). Rawle Marshall has been very adept at getting to the free throw line and converting. Kevin Pittsnogle, after an exceptionally poor showing with Miami, has joined the Dallas team at the Rocky Mountain Revue.

PortlandBrandon Roy is showing he can do everything by running the point with solid results the day after dropping 35 on Phoenix. Martell Webster is not your average straight-out-of-high-school player. He’s a great shooter, but doesn’t seem to have the ball skills to get to the bucket. Normally, HS picks are of greater athleticism. His shooting, however, is great. One scout says he could become Glen Rice.

Washington – The reports on Andray Blatche continue to be glowing. Peter John Ramos sounds like a porn name to me, not sure why.

Chicago – Kirk Heinrich’s replacement at Kansas, Aaron Miles, might be his back-up in Chicago if he continues his strong play. If Chicago can’t find a spot for him, it looks like another team might. Tyrus Thomas is a stud athlete and defender. He cannot, however, shoot to save his life. Everyone knew this when he was drafted and it looks like he’ll have to spend a lot of time in the gym.

MiamiEarl Barron continues to impress and for a 7-footer is an excellent free throw shooter.

CharlotteAdam Morrison can score from anywhere with any move. He sometimes just misses a lot. Sean May has been very good and has shown a large increase in his shooting range, including hitting a few 3-pointers. As an undersized PF, if he can show the game to occasionally play SF that will really help his future and that of the Bobcats as well. Okefor, May, Wallace, Morrison, Felton is a very promising starting 5. They also have Knight at PG and Brezec at C who are quite competent at their positions.

Orlando – Dwyane Wade’s former backcourt buddy Travis Diener has looked very good running the point and shooting from outside including a nice 7/10 from behind the arc versus Chicago en route to 34 points. In other short white shooter news, neither Gerry McNamara nor J.J. Redick has played yet.

Indiana – Everyone’s favorite Catamount, Taylor Coppenrath, had a solid game versus Miami scoring on a variety of moves and getting to the free throw line 11 times.

New JerseyJosh Boone looks like an average big man in the league. He rebounds well and can finish well, just don’t ask him to shoot from beyond 6 feet. Marcus Williams can use a bit more consistency on his shot, but he will be a top-10 point guard in the league within 4 years.

MemphisRudy Gay’s debut of 21 points and 10 rebounds set off 100s of West Hollywood residents to run to their local sports gear store to pick up his jersey. He scored on dunks, pull-ups and a 3-pointer. He teamed with Hakim Warrick to form the best pair of forwards in the summer league. My sleeper pick, Alexander Johnson added 25 (on 7-11 shooting) and 11 rebounds versus Dallas. Johnson followed it up with 15 (on 6-12 shooting) and 12 rebounds in 24 minutes against the Lakers.

BostonTelfair, Rondo, Gomes and Green continue to impress. Al Jefferson finally had a good game versus Denver.

Sacramento – The Kings have a player named “Pooh” on their summer league roster. It’s been too long since we’ve had a Pooh in the Association. If you’re a basketball fan, you must become a Pooh fan.

Toronto – Andrea Bargnani with 2 good numbers - 21 points, 11 rebounds - and 2 bad numbers - 7 turnovers, 7 fouls. Kris Humphries showing nice PF skills added 19 points, 12 boards and 2 blocks versus Golden State.

Minnesota – As much as I don’t want it to be it’s looking like Randy Foye is going to be a playa.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Summer League Notes, 7-11 edition

Lakers: The Lakers 2nd game showed improvements for many players, but it was against the Dallas’ “B” summer-league team. Most summer teams aren’t good; I can only imagine the dearth of talent on a summer “B” team. Without that disclaimer, let’s look at some players. Andrew Bynum had a much stronger 2nd game with 10 points, 12 rebounds and 5 blocks. The blocks are key - if he can become a defensive presence in the next year or two that will help Kobe tremendously. Farmar’s defense and ball-handling continue to impress while his outside shooting continues to depress. The fight for the last roster spot between Wafer, Green and Pinnock will be an interesting one. After game one, Pinnock was in the lead with Green 2nd and Wafer last. Right now, I’d mark it as too close to tell. Wafer is by the most athletic of the 3. Pinnock has the best shot and is a strong defender. Green is the best rebounder, a good defender and can help initiate the offense. It’s going to be a good battle.

Cleveland: Shannon Brown could be a big upgrade in the future at the 2. He looks like a smooth scorer

Houston: John Lucas, next year’s starting PG? He sure is playing like it. 5 game averages: 23.4 ppg, 6.4 assists (against only 2.8 TO/game), 3.8 rebounds and 1.4 steals.

Portland: I’m excited to see Roy in the regular season. He’s playing like the best player of the draft.

Phoenix: Stoudamire’s comeback is in full-swing. To prove his manliness he commits 10 fouls, cementing himself as a Golden Madsen candidate. Former lottery pick Marciej Lampe had 19 points on 8-8 shooting vs Detroit. Could D’Antoni find another foreign gem?

Detroit: Jason Maxwell, who will be playing more minutes with Big Ben’s departure, is a beast. In only 26 minutes vs Phoenix, he commits 11 fouls, to take a lead in the race for the GM. Grabbing only 2 rebounds in that time is pretty pathetic though.

NY: Renaldo Balkman might be the 2nd best Knick at the summer league.

Boston: Rondo’s a keeper. He’s running the offense well and being extremely disruptive on defense. Gomes is continuing to build on a solid rookie season and has been their go-to guy in the half-court. Gerald Green put together a nice game with 23 points, 4 reb and 2 steals vs Toronto. Allan Ray also had his first good game versus the Raptors.

Clippers: Shaun Livingston has been a disappointment thus far. He’s rebounding well, but has 12 turnovers with only 3 assists in the two games.

Memphis: Hakim Warrick’s athleticism shouldn’t be allowed in summer league games. He can dunk on anyone here. What is interesting, however, is the development of his mid-range shot. He scored on a number of jumpers from 18 feet in, which will help him become a much more dangerous player.

New Jersey: Marcus Williams, playing with a chip on his shoulder, had a nice little debut if you consider 24 points and 12 assists nice. He shot 9-15 with a nice 4-5 from 3pt range. He followed it up with 16 and 9. Josh Boone was as expected, finishing down low and rebounding well, but not showing anything special.

Charlotte: Adam Morrison’s debut was nowhere as rosy as that of Marcus Williams. He scored 12 points, but only shot 3-14, not real hot. He made up for it in game 2 with 29 points on 8-17 shooting, including the game-winner. Morrison scored off-screens, off-drives and hitting wide-open Js. His offensive game can translate to summer league and I think it will to the NBA as well. Sean May has played well with 37 points 14 rebounds, 4 blocks and 8 steals over the 2 games.

Miami: Neither Mike Gansey or Kevin Pittsnoggle had much impact in either of the two Heat games. Earl Barron, however, is playing like a man possessed. The big boy hit the rebounds hard and showed a varied offensive game, both posting up and facing up for shots out to 18 ft.

Chicago: Tyrus Thomas’ debut: 10 points on 3-9 shooting, 4 rebounds and 0 blocks. Not so hot. Thabo Sefolosha’s debut: 16 points on 6-8 shooting, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals. Pretty hot. Former Kansas PG Aaron Miles’ 19 points on 4 shots to go along with 5 assists and 1 TO in 23 minutes? Very hot. Thomas’ 2nd game was much better with 17 points 11 rebounds and 2 blocks. Sefolosha again with 16 points on 8 shots. He also helped hold Morrison to only 4 points in the second half. In the 2nd game, Miles again was solid with 18 points 5 assists and 1 TO in 28 minutes. Miles looks likes he may make his way to the NBA finally, which is good because I always liked his game at Kansas.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Summer League Notes:

  • Lakers: Bynum has added some muscle and can block a shot or two. He still has trouble with post defense and needs to work on his post moves on offense. Bynum’s final line: 12 points (3-7 FG, 6-9 FT), 5 rebounds 2 blocks. Farmar’s debut was as expected. He defended well and got his hands on many balls. On the offensive end, he finished well and found teammates for easy buckets. He still needs to work on his outside shot; by the end of the game, Memphis was laying off of him, daring him to shoot. Farmar’s final line: 17 points (5-6 2pt, 0-3 3pt, 7-9 ft), 2 steals, 3 assists, 0 TO. Danillo “Don’t call me J.R.” Pinnock was a pleasant surprise. Drafted as a defensive stopper, he didn’t disappoint, yet also showed a variety of offensive moves and nice range on his jumper. He finished with 16 on 6 of shooting including hitting both 3-point shots he attempted. Von Wafer showed nothing. Devin Green showed some good defense, but not too much else.
  • Washington: Andray Blatche, a 2nd round pick in 2005 is a player. He came out of high school and played sparingly in the NBDL last year after getting shot, but has shined this summer showing a diverse array of skills for a big man: good shooting range and ball-handling, tenacious rebounding and the knack for blocking shots. Complementing Blatche has been this year’s 1st round pick the "Big Oily" Oleksiy Pecherov, who has shown good range, rebounding and court awareness. If Washington can get production from these two big men, Agent 0 will be a happy man.
  • New York: David Lee has been solid thus far, providing a lot of great energy. Channing Frye went down with an ankle injury; his status for the rest of summer is unkown. Balkman hasn’t been embarrassing yet, ok defense, a so-so finisher. Isiah’s other draft pick, Mardy Collins airballed a free throw. That’s not so good.
  • Houston: Novak continues to impress hitting shots from all over the court. His 6’ 10” height really helps him to shoot over smaller players. Don’t be surprised to see John Lucas contribute to the Rockets this season. He’s been solidly spectacular throughout his first three games.
  • Phoenix: Amare is healthy and it really isn’t fair for him to playing in these games.
  • Golden State: Patrick O’Bryant is clueless.
  • Clippers: Livingston has been surprisingly inconsistent. Ewing, NDong and Singleton have all looked real good. Singleton put in a strong effort vs. Golden State with the elusive triple-double: 21 points, 12 rebounds and….10 fouls. Bravo James. Korolev has added a lot of muscle and has showed glimpses of tremendous talent, but still will need some seasoning.
  • Boston: Ryan Gomes has shown a plethora of offensive moves, scoring from the post, on drives and pull-ups. Al Jefferson has shown very little. Perhaps more players could use 4 years of college. Telfair and Rondo has nice debuts and played as a tandem for a part of the game. With Rondo in the game, Telfair played more off the ball, but showed scoring ability from anywhere on court. When Rondo and Telfair initiated fast-breaks, Gerald Green finished in high-flying style. When the game was more half-court based, Green had very little impact.
  • Dallas: Maurice Ager is solid. He will never be a star, but will be an effective bench player in the league, possibly a starter a few years down the line. It’s looking more and more that Podkolzine never will be more than tall.
  • Portland: Brandon Roy will be in this league for 10 years easily and will make at least 2 all-star games. He just knows the game and can contribute in every facet. Aldridge, as in college, has been inconsistent showing flashes of a face-up offensive game and solid rebounding, while other times, simply wandering around.
  • Sacramento: Goodbye Bonzi, Kevin Martin is the new starting SG. He’s simply outclassing the competition with his superior athleticism and is able to get any shot he wants. Against Toronto, he got to the line 24 times. Quincy “Smoke a” Douby looks like he can come in and fill Bobby Jackson’s old role of instant offense off the bench. Louis Amundson became the first undrafted player this offseason to sign a guaranteed contract. He has very little offensive game, but hits the glass hard, defends adequately and hustles harder than anyone on the court. Yes ladies and gentleman, beware, Sacramento seems to have found their very own Mark Madsen.
  • Toronto: Bargnani continues to show good scoring touch, but couldn’t find a rebound if it was handed to him. To be fair, he might have just been afraid someone was going to headbutt him. The “Big Meatball's” 10 fouls vs. Sacramento tied for the lead thus far.
  • Denver: Look for John Gilchrist to get a contract. His play has been steady and exceeds anyone else on the Denver squad.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

And all of Cleveland breathes a sigh of relief...

Friday, July 07, 2006

Notes from summer league ball

  • The Blazers are looking good thus far. Brandon Roy with 25 points on 9/16 shooting with 12 assists over 2 games. Martell Webster with 42 points combined in the two games.
  • Houston's lone draft pick, Steve Novak opened with 22 points (including 6 3-pointers) and then followed it up with another 20 in game two.
  • Randy Foye's two game averages 26.5 ppg, 4 reb, 2 stls, 1 ast
  • The #1 pick my boy Andrea "the Italian Stallion" Bargnani opened strong with 20 points, 4 boards and 2 blocks. His paisan Joey Graham added 22. And yes, prepare for a slew of jokes based on Italian stereotypes over the course of the season.
  • Nate Robinson, David Lee and Channing Frye combined for 62 points in NY's opening game. How can Isiah draft that well one year and so crappy the next?
  • Amare played his first game since March 27 and scored 21 points on 7-10 shooting with 8 rebounds. Reports are good: "Stoudemire possessed his usual array of moves and was in good shape as he ran up and down the court, even playing the role of point guard on a few trips. (TVSL's website)"
  • If John Lucas keeps this up, he might have a paying gig next season. In two games with Houston's team he's scored 51 points with 8 reb, 13 ast and 2 steals.
  • One of the best things about the summer leagues is there are no foul outs. Steve Novak added 8 fouls to his good first game and LaMarcus Aldridge had 5 in his first game and then bumped it up to 7 in game two. The Cavs' Daniel Gibson also had a 8-whistler. We'll be keeping tabs on the best number of the season. The player who racks up the most fouls in a single game will be awarded the first annual Golden Madsen award.

Making sense of it all: The Blazers offseason

On draft night it seemed like every 5 minutes, the Portland Trailblazers would announce another trade. The whirlwind of deals brought in quite a haul. They walked away with LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy, Sergio Rodriguez, Joel Freeland, Raef LaFrentz, Dan Dickau and 3 second round picks (Indiana's 2007 and 2008 and Memphis' 2008). On draft night, they also traded away Viktor Khyrapa, Theo Ratliff and Sebastian Telfair. They've also reportedly re-signed Joel Pryzbilla to a 5-yr/$30 million deal.

For the first time in a long time, things are looking up for Blazer fans. They drafted arguably the best big man and the consensus best guard. Rodriguez is has phenomenal ball-handling skills, but I'm reserving judgment until I get a sense of his court awareness. Freeland will probably never play in the NBA but with the sheer number of players added to the Blazer's roster, keeping him overseas for awhile seems like the best idea. I was lukewarm on the Telfair trade initially, but now think the Blazers got a huge steal. The trade is essentially Roy/LaFrentz for Telfair/Ratliff. The Blazers duo is more talented, in my humble opinion, plus Dickau is an adequate back-up PG, most likely to be used as trade bait. Keeping Pryzbilla will help solidify their frontcourt defense and allow Aldridge time to develop.

On draft night, they made one strategic mistake, but made up for it with a great move later. The Bulls had heard that the Blazers really wanted Aldridge. The Bulls were going to pick Thomas regardless, but were able to acquire Khyrapa through a nice piece of acting. While their informants failed the Blazers with regards to Aldridge, solid espionage helped them acquire Roy. The Timberwolves and Rockets had agreed on a trade which would have had Roy headed to Houston with Foye (whom the Rockets would draft at 8) ending up with Minnesota. When the B Blazers found this out, they grabbed Foye and forced Minnesota to deal Roy to them instead.

The team still has many problems. Darius Miles is a cancer, an extremely overpaid cancer. Zach Randolph has a phenomenal offensive game, but seems to lack the desire to rebound, defend or get into good playing shape. They currently have 4 point guards (Steve Blake, Jarrett Jack, Dickau and Rodriguez) none of whom have proved much in the NBA. The players, especially Miles and Randolph, did not seem to respond to Nate McMillan's coaching. Unfortunately for the Blazers Miles is signed through 2010 at about $8-9mil/year and Randolph is scheduled to call Portland his home until 2011 to the tune of some $15mil/year. Neither of those contracts seems movable (except maybe to New York, both seem like "Isiah players").

Nevertheless with Roy, Aldridge, Pryzbilla and an improving Martell Webster, the future seems bright. If one of the point guards can emerge, this is a team that could go places, yet another rising competitor to give the Lakers fits.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Bulls get a lot tougher

Laker Summer Team

The Lakers will field a team in the Long Beach Summer Pro League which runs from July 8-19. Here's the roster according to
  • Jordan Farmar
  • Andrew Bynum
  • Nick Horvath
  • Michael Fey
  • Devin Green
  • Von Wafer
  • Marcus Douthit
  • Danilo Pinnock
  • Cedric Bozeman
  • Sasha Vujacic
Farmar and Pinnock are '06 draft picks, Bynum and Wafer, the '05 picks. Devin Green was a nondrafted FA who made the team last season and hopefully everybody knows Sasha. I'm disappointed that Turiaf isn't on the roster. I hope that isn't a sign that he won't be returning.

The rest of the group is rather uninspiring. Horvath was a back-up center at Duke who graduated in 2004. Fey came into UCLA as highly-regarded center but could never put it together and only played in 18 games for the Bruins this past season. Douthit started at center for Providence, also graduating in 2004. Bozeman is well-known to Los Angeles fans. He was recruited as the next great UCLA PG, but never really succeeded. This past season he found his niche as a do-a-little-bit-of-everything SF/SG and defensive stopper. Of the undrafted players, Bozeman has the best chance to make the NBA.

Other Notes
The Clippers will have this year's rookies (Davis & Diaz), last year's rookes (Korolev, Ewing, Singleton, NDong) and Shaun Livingston playing on their team in Vegas.

The Celtics could have the best summer league team with Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Rajon Rondo, undrafted Allen Ray and the newly-acquired Sebastian Telfair.

The Miami Heat have the both-undrafted West Virgina stars, Mike Gansey and Kevin Pittsnoggle, playing on their team. I think both players should make the league and as much as I wanted the Lakers to pick Pittsnoggle, I hope the Heat sign him. There can't be a more amazing duo than Shaq and Pittsnoggle.

Gerry McNamara will be playing on the Orlando team with J.J. Redick. How high does that rank in combined hatred by college opponents by one backcourt?

Amare Stoudamire is supposed to play in Vegas with the Suns. We'll be able to see how his recovery is going.

Ron Artest is also on the Kings roster. I wish I could see Artest D'ing up some poor D-II guy just trying to make the league.

Yotam Halperin is on the Sonics roster. The first Israeli player in the NBA is slowly becoming more of a reality.

Other notable undrafted players and their summer-league teams: Brad Buckman (Dallas), Chris Hernandez (New Orleans), Christian Maraker (Sacremento), Eric Williams (New Jersey), J.P Batista (Minnesota), Justin Gray (Toronto), Marco Killingsworth (New York), Nik Caner-Medley (Detroit), Pops Mensah-Bonsu (Dallas), Rashad Anderson (Washington), Taquan Dean (San Antonio)

Monday, July 03, 2006

How the Lakers can get themselves a PG

Since many Laker fans are quite disenchanted with Smush Parker as the point guard of the future and the Lakers don't have any money to find themselves a different starter at PG, I've tried to scour the league for trades that might make sense for the Lakers. I've come up with two possibilites:

Chris Mihm+ Aaron McKie for Antonio Daniels, Washington or Earl Watson, Seattle

First, Laker fans need to realize that the Lakers don't have many trading chips. Mihm is attractive, but he's a very average center and if his contract wasn't coming off the books in 2007, there'd be no market for him at all. I'm not even sure either Seattle or Washington would agree to these deals, however both could use Mihm and would like the financial flexibility. For the Wizards, Mihm would instantly upgrade the center position. With Jarvis Hayes returning this year, Gilbert could move to point guard creating a line-up of Arenas, Hayes, Jamison, Jeffries, Mihm. That's a line-up with much more scoring potential than last year's. In Seattle, Watson is currently the back-up PG to Luke Ridnour. At $6mil/year, the Sonics have to feel that's a bit pricey for a bench player, especially when they have a hole at center bigger than Vanessa Bryan't ring.

Were I the Lakers, I'd do my best to try and get Watson. He's a bit smaller than what Jackson likes, but he's as tall as Derek Fisher. Also like Fish, he's a solid defender and solid 3-point shooter. Watson's ball-handling skills are slightly better than Fisher's and he'd be returning to L.A. where he starred at UCLA. Watson's acquisition would lock in the Laker's line-up for the next 3 years:

PG - Watson
SG - Kobe
SF - Walton
PF - Odom
C - Kwame


I'm not sure if that's championship level, but it's something Jackson can work with to create a winner.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Lakers and Clippers make first splashes in free agency

According to the Los Angeles Times, the Lakers have signed Vladimir Radmanovic to a 5yr deal for the full mid-level exception (approximately $31mil. for the full contract). The Clippers attempted to re-sign him for the same amount, but when he defected across the Staples Center, they replaced him by signing Tim Thomas to a 4-year deal. According to the Times, the Clips also re-signed PG/asst. coach/possessor of huge testicles Sam Cassell to a 2-yr $13mil deal.

The Radmanovic signing is a solid signing for the Lakers. He'll give them a legitimate 3-point threat and fill an Horry-like role, as big man off the bench who can shoot. At times, if the Lakers want to go really big, they can play Mihm/Brown, Odom and Vlad and have a frontcourt of 3 guys 6'10" and taller. With this signing, all the Lakers have left at their disposal is the lower-level exception, which I expect them to try and use on a guard or save for next off-season.

I'm not sure what's happened with the Clippers, but Elgin Baylor seems to have finally understood how to run a team. Perhaps he always knew, but Donald Sterling was always pinching pennies. I think he enjoyed the TV exposure and all the perks that came with winning and "The (LA) Donald" has decided to keep the Clips competitive. Cassell's play and enthusiasm will easily be worth the $13mil over the next two years and then, if the Clippers continue to do the right thing, he should retire and immediately join the Clippers front-office. I also really like the Thomas move. Thomas can do everything Radmanovic can do offensively plus has a greater defensive impact. If Thomas can play hard as he did in Phoenix this last season, the Clippers will be an even stronger team next year.

In other free agent news, Jason Terry re-upped with the Mavs for 6yrs/$50mil. That's a nice signing for Dallas and keeps the team's 2nd scorer happy. I thought Terry would be able to get more money elsewhere, but the chance to compete for a championship and the stability seems to have enticed him to stay.

The big player changing teams thus far is Peja Stojakovic who signed a 5yr/$64mil. dollar contract with New Orleans. His outside touch should complement David West's post game and give Chris Paul even more space to penetrate. The price tag may be a bit high, but New Orleans was just on the edge of making the playoffs and this could easily push them past that point. The West just continues to get stronger. There will be 2-3 good teams in the West that just miss the playoffs - the Lakers quite possibly being one of them.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

When did Bryan Colangelo get smart?

For many years Bryan Colangelo was merely an adequate GM. He drafted Shawn Marion, Michael Finley and Steve Nash. He traded for Jason Kidd. He also traded for Stephon Marbury and signed Tom Guggliotta to a 6-year deal. His Suns were generally good enough to make the playoffs, but were never a threat and never got past the 2nd round in the first 8 years of his tenure.

However, starting in 2002, Colangelo seemed unable to do any wrong. He traded Rodney Rogers and Tony Delk for Joe Johnson and a 1st round pick. He drafted Amare Stoudamire in the 2002 draft. In the 2003 draft, he traded for Leandro Barbosa. Midway through the 2003-2004 season, he named Mike D'Antoni head coach. He then sent Marbury and the man formerly known as Penny Hardaway to NY for a bunch of expiring contracts and got rid of Guggliotta. In the 2004 off-season he signed both Nash and Quentin Richardson. Q was traded the following off-season for Kurt Thomas and Dijon Thompson. Joe Johnson netted the Suns Boris Diaw and 2 1st round picks. Even with the devastating injury to Amare and the less-crushing, but important injury to Kurt Thomas, the Suns reached the Western Conference Finals.

Colangelo, having formed a championship contender, was already moving forward trying to undertake an even more impressive transformation - turning the downtrodden Toronto Raptors into a competitive team. The team he took over had a rising star in Chris Bosh and a solid complementary rookie in Charlie Villanueva. PG Mike James had a career year and Morris Peterson provided his steady scoring touch. The Raptors finished the season 27-55, 13 games out of a playoff spot. In spite of 4 teams having worse records, the Raptors won the 1st pick in the draft lottery.

Once the off-season started Colangelo started making small roster tweaks. He dumped slow 26-year old Rafael Araujo for 20-year old Kris Humphries. Humphries didn't show much last season at Utah, but he's an athletic big man who came out of college too early. Only 20, he has room to improve and become an asset to the team. He then made a somewhat confusing move for Rasho Nesterovic. With Bosh and Charlie V already on the team plus the great likelihood that the Raptors would draft another big man, what use could Nesterovic have? Little did we know what Colangelo would have up his sleeve.

At the draft, the Raptors took Andrea Bargnani first overall and added P.J. Tucker in the second round. I have seen only highlights of Bargnani (I'll admit, I don't get the chance to watch much professional Italian basketball), but he seems to move very smoothly on the court with a nice outside shot and the ability to block shots and rebound. The smoothness on the court is what really impresses me. You don't see too many 6'11" guys who seem to move more effortlessly. His range is legitimate and should keep defenses from double-teaming Bosh. I love the Tucker pick. He's a strong defender and rebounder even though he's only 6'5" and has a strong post game. Tucker is similar to Bonzi Wells, though with better defense and not as much shooting range.

BG's big move (the one that prompted this extensive post) happened yesterday when he traded Charlie V for T.J. Ford. I love Ford. He's a blur on the court with fantastic court vision and nice touch on his floaters. Ford is Tony Parker with a greater ability to find teammates. In 03-04 with Ford, Milwaukee was 41-41. In 04-05 with practically the same roster except for Ford, they dropped to 30-52. With Ford back in 05-06, the Bucks returned to 40-42. He'll make the Raptors go. With the addition of Nesterovic and Bargnani, Villanueva was a bit expendable. I think he'll solidify the PF position for Milwaukee who will turn the PG responsibilities over to Maurice Williams and Charlie Bell, adequate, but not Ford exciting.

Let's take a look at the Raptors next season.

PG - T.J. Ford
SG - Morris Peterson
SF - Joey Graham
PF - Chris Bosh
C - Rasho Nesterovic

PF Andrea Bargnani
SG P.J. Tucker
PG Jose Calderon
PF Kris Humphries

That's an exciting young core in Toronto. If Sam Mitchell can help these young kids gel, we could see the beginnings of a legitimate Canadian contender.

Also, if you're wondering, that poll is currently on the Raptors official website.