Tag Archives: Pau Gasol

The 2013 Lakers: Locked & Reloaded

What an off season it has been for the Lakers. Plenty of opinions and analysis with Twitter lighting it up. In the final wash, over the past 12 months, the Lakers have basically given up Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom, Derek Fisher, Luke Walton and some low first round draft picks and turned it into Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Jordan Hill; and added some nice free agents in Jodie Meeks and Antawn Jamison. Wow. You think Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss don’t know what they are doing now? Expectations abound and opinions are divided about how it will all work; remember the summer of ’03 when Payton and Malone joined Kobe and Shaq – that didn’t work out too well.  Here’s a few articles to make your mouth water:

LA Times – TJ Simers: “Jim Buss gets the last laugh” – With Dwight Howard following Steve Nash to the Lakers, Buss makes his father proud.

ESPN LA – Arash Markazi: “Dwight Howard headed to Lakers” – Dwight Howard is happy to be a Laker, and his arrival punctuates Mitch Kupchak’s summer.

ESPN – Michael Wilbon: “Dwight Howard lucky to be a Laker” – Showtime returns to LA. Above all else, the Lakers know NBA titles are delivered by the men in the middle.

CBS Sports – Ken Berger: “Joining Kobe, Nash, Gasol in L.A., time for Howard to act like a champion” – Is Dwight Howard ready to stop playing around? Is he ready to play? Ready to take the torch from Kareem and, yes, Shaquille O’Neal, and help Kobe win his sixth NBA title? 

Hoopsworld – Eric Pincus: “Kupchak on Howard: We got the best” – The home runs have been hit for the summer.

And check out some of these photo spoofs from Laker fans all around the world!


The 2012 Lakers: Jekyll & Hyde as they head into Game 7

How did it end up being 3-3 after the Lakers looked so strong in taking a 3-1 lead over the Nuggets? Facing an elimination game? To some it’s surprising. To me, it’s really just the DNA of the 2012 Lakers. It’s been a year of highs and lows and the Lakers have never really found their identity.

  • The faltered trade of Gasol/Odom for Chris Paul;
  • Trading Odom (the emotional leader) to Dallas;
  • The constant trade rumours of Gasol;
  • Trading Fisher (the voice of reason) to the Rockets;
  • Bench production;
  • The Metta World Peace elbow and suspension;
and the list goes on …

Apart from Kobe Bryant, the lack of consistency and just effort has been the most frustrating thing for Laker fans. And I have to point out the 2 other All-Stars – Bynum and Gasol. One day the sun is shining with Bynum dominating the Spurs with 30 rebounds. Next thing you know he comes out in Game 3 in Denver and says he’s wasn’t prepared to play or that he was out hustled. You’re on a $16 million dollar salary, the playoffs, and you’re not ready? Hmmm. Add to that the stupid comments he made before Game 5 by saying “Close out games are easy” and you just have to question how much of a leader Bynum can be. Yeah, we are constantly reminded he is just 24 years old.

And what about Pau Gasol? I really don’t know. I’ve got to give him credit for having a strong regular season amidst the trade rumours and speculation. And for really taking somewhat of a back seat in letting Bynum blossom and giving up shots in the offense. But where has he gone in the playoffs? Where has his post game gone? 7 footer shooting jump shots?Averaging 11 points and 8 rebounds whilst shooting 41% against an undersized Nuggets team is hardly considered dominating? For the second post season in a row, he has failed to deliver. I can’t see any other option than for Pau to be traded given his $19 million contract and the impending luxury tax implications.

Game 6 @ Denver, Kobe Bryant is as sick as a dog but comes through. Where were the other players? Probably thinking that Kobe can bail them out at all times. It’s a knife-edge sword. Having arguably the best player in the game (both physically and mentally) is a luxury but also a dangerous asset. Sitting back and hoping Kobe bails them out has been a common sight this year and in these past few games. What happened in those games that Kobe was not playing and the Lakers built up some strong cohesion and identity. It was all set up for when Kobe returned. That’s all disappeared. It will be a sad day when Kobe finally hangs it all up.

Mike Brown? Have to respect his hard work, but it just doesn’t seem he has the smarts to play the chess game needed in the playoffs. Yes, you can get away with it in the regular season, but come playoffs you have to adjust. Not matter how good of a team you are, the playoffs are all about adjustments. What worked in Game 1, the other team will adjust to, so what is your Plan B, C, and D? He’s the coach – why is he matching up Blake with Miller when he’s getting posted up on in the low block play after play..and scoring? And putting Blake on Gallinari? And really, why can’t he play Goudelock for a few spot minutes. Make things unpredictable! Get a shooter on the floor who can hit an outside shot! The Lakers haven’t really addressed their 3-pt shooting this year, much like last year. Through 6 games, the Lakers are shooting 28.6%. Blake 9/24@ 37%, Barnes 3/24@12%, Sessions 4/17@23% and Kobe 13/40@32% (respectable given he’s often dumped with the ball in the last 6 secs and has to hoist).

I hate saying this but I really have no preference for Game 7. Looking at the big picture, it will just delay the inevitable. And the thoughts of planning for next year start. If they advance, can they really beat the Thunder? Unless they go back to being Jekyll, I really doubt it. Right now they are caught in between and look directionless and emotionless. But I guess that’s been the story of the season. Just when things look up, they turn. But just as likely, when things look down, they turn – so I want to believe. Who will come out to play in Game 7? Metta World Peace will be back and maybe he will ignite the fire needed? I know Kobe Bryant will give it his all, but what about the rest of the Laker squad? We will find out soon.


State of the Nation. The Lakers Nation that is…

lakers-lineup

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Nearly a quarter of the way through the condensed NBA season and where are the Lakers at? From the failed attempts to trade for Chris Paul (twice!!), to the sudden exit of Lamar, and then to Kobe going on a scoring outburst, one thing hasn’t changed….the Lakers never fail to get media scrutiny. With a 10-8 record (as of 24th Jan) many subplots exist as The Lakers try to live up to the lofty expectations we fans place on the team. Winning cures everything and it’s amazing how the Laker community goes from one extreme to another. A Derek Fisher game winner is polarized by a 3 game losing streak. (At least we can still enjoy the sight of this video)

From a “fantastic game by player x” to “Lakers need to trade everyone” it’s amazing how passionate Laker fans are. Just check out the forums at LakerGround.net and you will see why!

A few topics to chew the fat on:

New coach, New system
Yes we all hoped it would only take a few games and all would be fine. But realistically, the Lakers are trying to unlearn the triangle and pick up a new system. So it’s not surprising that the Laker offense is sputtering like an old car needing a tune up and oil check! It hasn’t been pretty. No fluidity and whilst Kobe going off for 40 points is great to see, it’s simply not sustainable in the long run. Gasol and Bynum need to learn to play together and the bench players need to work out their roles. Yes the Lakers are still searching for their identity.

Roster balance…the Point Guards
I admire Derek Fisher. What he’s done in the past is amazing. And he still manages to pop up and make the plays in crucial situations. See game v Dallas. His leadership qualities and presence are second to none but Fisher isn’t a penetrator who can get in the lane and create for others, and he has trouble staying in front of quick guards. Steve Blake was doing a better job before he got injured but like Fish he is a spot up shooter and not a creator. I do like rookie Darius Morris and its great he’s getting minutes, but he just needs time to develop. Cant fault his confidence though. Many say if he had stayed in college one more year, he would have been a lottery pick. Here’s hopeing he turns out to be a great Laker!

“I don’t know if he’s prepared, but he’s confident,” said Brown.  “He told my lead assistant John Kuester . . . he looked him in his eye and said ‘Kue, I can play.’  He was almost like, ‘Let me remind you guys, I can play the game.’”

So the issue is apart from Kobe there isn’t anybody else who can break down the opposition and either finish or create for others. Losing Lamar meant losing a creator and someone who can set up the big guys in the post. I do think these are the reasons for the inconsistency with Gasol and Bynum. But realistically who can they get that will help without compromising assets as they pursue Dwight Howard and/or Deron Williams?

Trade Rumours
If Chris Paul were a Laker, you can bet your bottom dollar Dwight would be pushing to come. But this is no longer and there’s been endless chatter about what Bynum/Gasol/$8.5 mill trade exception/draft picks can bring the Lakers. It’s a waiting game at the moment, as the first chip in Howard needs to fall before the ripple effect occurs. That’s why, amidst all the trade rumours, Mitch Kupchak has held on to his assets waiting patiently on Howard. Sure he could make some small trades to help plug some holes (OJ Mayo, Devin Harris, Ramon Sessions & Andre Miller come to mind), but getting the next superstar to play alongside Kobe and carry the torch is the objective. It would be heaven if the Lakers could get Howard and Williams but patience is the key.

Amongst all of the issues, Laker fans will just have to be patient.


Lakers Forever

Oh my…if this isn’t enough to get the juices flowing I don’t know what is!


The NBA is baaaaack!

And we finally have an NBA season. Thank God. You can only watch so much NBL, and whilst I love the Sydney Kings, nothing beats the thrill and excitement of the Lakers. And it all starts on Xmas day with the Lakers taking on the Bulls.

It’s going to be an interesting year for the Lakers. Some experts are saying the Lakers can make one last gasp run whilst Kobe is still in his prime, whilst others are saying that the Lakers need to plan for the future with the changes to the luxury tax only 2 years away and a huge tax bill looming.

If $70 million is the cap before luxury taxes hit, GM Mitch Kupchak has a lot of work to do in managing the Laker’s payroll and attract quality players over the next few years. Check out HoopsHype.com for a breakdown of the Laker’s salary situation. At $91 million for the 2011-12 season, that’s about $20 million in taxes that Lakers are up for this year – and that’s with no new rookies or free agents signed. When the new luxury tax scale comes in for 2013-14, the tax bill gets hefty. According to Larry Coon:

“the Lakers’ tax bill in 2011 (when the tax was dollar-for-dollar) was about $19.9 million. Under the new system, being that far over the tax line would cost them $44.68 million. If they were a repeat offender (paying tax at least four of the previous five years) they would owe $64.58 million!”

That’s a LOT of tax to be paying! But with the Lakers new local TV deal with TNT, starting in 2012-13, worth $200 million a year ($5 billion over 25 years), maybe the Buss family won’t be too worried about the tax.

The biggest elephant in the room as we start the 2011-12 season is what happens with Dwight Howard. Will he command a trade to the bright lights and big city of LA, following in the steps of Shaquille O’Neal15 years ago? Regardless of what team he wants to be traded to, a trade is bound to happen. As Chris Sheridan of SheridanHoops.com points out, there are $30 million reasons why Howard will be pushing for it to happen sooner rather than later!

Now wouldn’t it be good if this came true? =)

The Lakers would be set for the future and continue on their tradition of dominating Centers. No doubt they would have to give up a lot to get Howard including some combination of Bynum/Odom/Gasol plus maybe even take back a bad contract like Turkoglu. Short term pain but you have someone that can play with Kobe and carry the torch when Kobe leaves the game. Whatever happens, it makes for some exciting viewing over the next few months! NBA…Where Amazing Happens…