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Lakers officially sign Jordan Hill and Antawn Jamison

11:36 pm in Lakers, Trades by Wicked Chicken

After all the rumors that swirl around you never know what’s legit or not until it’s official. Well the Lakers have finally officially announced the signing of Jordan Hill and Antawn Jamison to the 2012-2013 roster. Both of these players are really nice additions to the team and fill some bench roles the Lakers desperately needed to fulfill.

Jordan Hill joined the Lakers late in the season when he was acquired in the Derek Fisher trade. Although Jordan was never really given consistent playing time, he proved he could be of value when he had a really nice game against OKC late in the season, and again did a solid job in the playoffs with limited minutes. Jordan is known for his athleticism and rebounding tenacity, but he’s also shown some nice touch, a bit of range, and even a few post moves. I think Jordan’s a great compliment to this Lakers team providing youth and athleticism to a very veteran team, and should bring some energy while Bynum or Pau need a breather.

When fans and media were looking for a youth movement in Lakerland they probably didn’t have Antawn Jamison in mind. This 14 year vet has been a high level talent his entire career but has yet to bring home a ring which is why he came to LA. The Lakers bench was the lowest scoring bench in the NBA last year and Antawn gives them instant offense. He’s averaged 19.5 points a game for his career, and had over 17 a game last year with the Cavs. That’s better than the entire bench averaged last year. I don’t expect he’ll put up those same numbers again having to come off the bench and playing behind the scoring talent of the Lakers starters, but knowing the Lakers have a guy coming off the bench that has scored 51 in a game before is of course comforting. I think Antawn’s skill set is another perfect compliment to this roster, as he can handle the ball, post up, and also hit the three. I expect Jamison and Bynum will be a great fit when Pau goes to the bench. His outside shooting threat will spread the floor and give Bynum room to operate inside. Plus Jamison is versatile and can play both forward positions, something that was missed with the departure of Lamar Odom.

I really like the way the Lakers management has constructed this team. They are well balanced, and look really good on paper. If I were playing GM the last move I’d make is trying to find a combo SG/SF that can flat out shoot to come off the bench. Bellinelli caught my attention, but the Bulls already signed him up…maybe Michael Redd?

Lakers stray from script

10:55 pm in Lakers by Wilde Sage

A maverick is a calf that strays from the herd. In the game against Dallas, the Lakers deviated from the script of easy-to-watch basketball—except when it mattered most. In tonight’s game, everything seemed a little different. Kobe Bryant struggled offensively, Pau Gasol played good defense, and Lamar Odom came off the bench for the visiting team. With the game on the line, however, Kobe found himself in a familiar place with the ball in his hands. With the double team on the way, Kobe kicked the ball to his most trusted teammate—and D-Fish splashed the game-winning shot through the net to give the Lakers a 73-70 win. As there’s plenty of time to celebrate the Black Mamba’s ability to hit game winning shots, it’s good to get a reminder of one of the many reasons why D-Fish earned the right to finish his career on his terms—and in Los Angeles.

Golden Horizons for Team USA

7:13 pm in Lakers by Wilde Sage

Team USA unveiled its pool of players under consideration for the 2012 Olympic games—and it looks like the gold standard is making a comeback. With Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and Kobe Bryant, the city of Los Angles has three players whom are likely to make the final team of 12. Here’s a list of the 20 players in the mix.

  • Kobe Bryant
  • LeBron James
  • Kevin Durant
  • Dwight Howard
  • Derrick Rose
  • Chris Paul
  • Carmelo Anthony
  • Deron Williams
  • Russell Westbrook
  • Blake Griffin
  • Chris Bosh
  • Kevin Love
  • LaMarcus Aldridge
  • Eric Gordon
  • Rudy Gay
  • Lamar Odom
  • Andrew Iguodala
  • Dwyane Wade
  • Tyson Chandler
  • Chauncey Billups

With Kobe Bryant teaming with Dwight Howard and LeBron James for a second time to compete for the gold, it’s clear that Team USA will have the Midas Touch in London this summer.

Flea talks a little Lakers

9:21 pm in Andrew Bynum, David Stern, Lakers, Trades by The Emperor

Self proclaimed Laker hater Bill Simmons interviewed Flea for his B.S. Report as they chat about “the trade,” Lamar Odom, Luke Walton, music, and other Lakers topics.

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A Big Mistake

10:25 am in Andrew Bynum, David Stern, Kobe Bryant, Lakers, Lamar Odom, Trades by Wicked Chicken

Certain events through life, history, and even the NBA can create a ripple or butterfly effect that can have a long lasting impact for future events. The Lakers executives clearly had a plan to go aggressively into acquiring new talent and it has blown up in their faces. I’m hoping this is part of some sort of master plan and the pieces will fall into place, but I fear they have shown their cards, lost all leverage, and are now in desperation mode while trying to cover their tracks. I fear Lakers fans may be doomed for dark days ahead.

Back in May of 2011 I loosely outlined a plan for improvement of the roster in a way that is viable financially and would (should) fit within trade regulations. I talked about how they were in need of a sharp shooter off the bench so I applaud the signing of Jason Kopono to the roster. I think he will prove to be valuable as long as he can play some defense on the other end.

I talked about how Andrew Bynum should not be moved unless Dwight Howard was in the deal. Bynum is the best true center in the league with the exception of Howard, his size combined with his skill set are irreplaceable and losing him would leave a massive hole only filled by the new “Superman.”

I also talked about how Lamar Odom should be nearly untouchable. His length and versatile skill set combining ball handling, passing, 3-point shooting, rebounding, and running the fast break are so unique there is nobody in the league that possesses these same traits at his level. Lamar should have never been on the trading block. As much as I love Chris Paul, the combination of Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom for CP3 is just too much to give up and would have left the power forward position basically empty.

The path the Lakers management has chosen has only supported that concern. Shopping Odom in the CP3 deal backfired as David Stern meddled in affairs he had no business being in. As a result, Lamar became disgruntled (and rightfully so) and demanded a trade. To further compound things they sent Lamar to Dallas for virtually nothing. A draft pick form an elite team like Dallas? That means they’ll get a pick in the very late first round. Does anyone think that pick would bring in a player of Lamar’s caliber? Keep in mind Odom was drafted 4th overall in the 1999 NBA draft by the Clippers. The Lakers let the 6th man of the year, an impossible matchup, and an incredibly versatile and valuable player at a reasonable $8.9 million salary go for nothing.

Pau Gasol is all but gone once they strike a deal for CP3 or other elite point guard. If they swing a Chris Paul deal they’ll be left with a starting lineup of Bynum, Kobe, Metta-Ron-Ron, and a gaping hole at power forward. Who are they gonna start? Derrick Character? Oops, he blew out his knee. So who’s next? Luke Walton taking over the starting power forward position?

If the Lakers go after Dwight Howard and give Pau and Bynum up what are they left with as a starting lineup? Kobe, Dwight, Metta, Fisher, and a rookie at power forward? This trade doesn’t address the major issue at point guard and leaves the power forward position in limbo as well.

Even if they are able to pull off a deal for CP3 and/or Dwight Howard, will the team as a whole really be better and properly balanced with what they will have to give up to acquire those pieces? Would it be better than if they had just left the team intact and added small pieces like Kapono?

The Lakers have put themselves in a bad position with the reckless moves they’ve made. Each move is leading to a more desperate move reminding me of the days when the Lakers management made the horrible decision to trade Caron Butler for Kwame Brown. We all remember how dark those days were don’t we? Looks like we’re heading that way again. The dominos are falling.

Lamar Odom to D-Town

9:26 pm in Lakers, Trades by Wilde Sage

After David Stern burns the Lakers by blocking a trade for CP3, the team burns itself by making a trade to the Dallas Mavericks. LO for a draft pick? Really? That’s right. The Lakers are sending Lamar Odom to the Dallas Mavericks for a first round pick and future considerations. Doesn’t “future considerations” sound a little too nebulous for the reigning sixth man of the year? As Kobe Bryant said: “Now I’m getting pissed off.” He’s not alone. Unless this gives the Lakers leverage for a bigger trade down the road, it’s a huge mistake on a road that’s usually traveled by the Clippers. Lamar’s a unique player. The ability to play multiple positions,  grab a defensive rebound, and push the ball up the floor is a rare attribute for a 6-10 player.  As the loss of Lamar Odom creates a big void in the Lakers lineup, let’s hope that management is working a little MAGIC behind the scenes.

CP3 trade reversed by Cavs owner Dan Gilbert?

10:08 pm in David Stern, Lamar Odom, Trades by The Emperor

Rumors are swirling that the league has reversed the trade involving Chris Paul, Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odomm and that Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert may be behind it. Although I have no proof of this letter’s legitimacy, there appears to be an email floating around from Gilbert to commissioner Stern asking him to veto the trade. Take a look:

Dan Gilbert's email to Stern

What will Stern get his dirty little hands on next?

Oh, and apparently there’s a petition to reverse the trade reversal.

The ideal Lakers trade moves

5:40 pm in Lakers, Trades by Wicked Chicken

As the NBA draft is upon us trade rumors around the Lakers are swirling as the media buzzards and fans hover and in anticipation for the first domino to fall. The difficulty with the Lakers is that the team on paper is as good as just about any other team in the league, so dismantling it could prove costly if the correct replacement pieces are not acquired in any trade made.

First let’s address the Lakers needs this offseason. Portions of the Lakers were exploited in the playoffs as they looked tired and old and had no effective outside shooting threats. In turn the Mavs packed the paint daring the Lakers to shoot threes where the Lakers were pathetic. So a legit outside shooting threat is an important pick up and since Shannon Brown opted out of his contract the backup shooting guard position looks like a good spot to fill this position. Now that Phil is gone and with him the triangle offense, the point guard position needs a major upgrade. The Lakers need someone outside of Kobe to initiate and create offense for others as well as score when necessary and push the ball on the break for easy buckets. This is where the Lakers should give up the most in terms of personnel to ensure they get an all-star caliber point guard. Outside of that, they could use a backup center for energy, shot blocking, and rebounding.

So who’s tradable? Kobe is really the only “untouchable” as he is still arguably the best player in the game and has been the face of the Lakers franchise for the last decade. After that I would only trade Andrew Bynum if Dwight Howard is coming back in the deal. Although there may be statistically better “centers” in the league, Bynum and Howard are the only two “true centers” and therefore irreplaceable. Trading Bynum for someone other than Howard will leave a massive void at the center position as it’s clear that Pau doesn’t have the grit to fill the spot. Lamar has been the topic of many trade rumors, but they need to be careful who they let him go for. Trading Lamar straight up for Andre Iguodala would be a colossal mistake. Lamar is possibly the most diverse player in the NBA, he is near irreplaceable as he can play anywhere and the small forward position is already filled with Artest, Barnes, Walton (who needs to be shipped with any trade), and the young potential of Devin Ebanks.

This leaves Pau Gasol as the only legitimate trade bait worthy of a swap for an elite point guard and this is where they should base their trade if they’re going to make a major move. Pau has consistently been praised for his skill as a big man which is true to an extent, but has been largely overrated since arriving in LA. Pau was only an all-star once and never won a playoff game before playing with Kobe. He is very good, but not great and was exposed in the playoffs. Losing Pau would not leave much of a void at power forward as Lamar could slip into the starting lineup and Bynum could become more of a focal point in the offense. Add an elite point guard like Deron Williams or Cp3 to the starting lineup and the Lakers become potent and athletic. The Lakers just need to make sure they can slip Walton and/or Blake into any deal they do with Pau to clear up cap space and deadweight.

Having said that these are some of my recommendations (and wishful thinking) as desktop general manager having fun with the trade machine.

Pau Gasol, Steve Blake, Luke Walton for Deron Williams, Anthony Morrow, Johan Petro

Steve Blake becomes unnecessary with Deron Williams coming in as Derek Fisher would slide to the second string leaving Blake minimal floor time. Plus the Lakers would like to get rid of his three year contract at $4mil a year. Walton also has two more years on his contract at over $5mil a year and would just be buried on the bench behind Artest, Barnes, and potentially Ebanks. The Lakers get the elite point guard they desperately need, a deadly young shooter in Anthony Morrow that can back up Kobe, and a backup center in Johan Petro to fill the void in size with the loss of Pau.

Pau Gasol, Steve Blake for Chris Paul, David Anderson

Very similar to the above scenario, Chris Paul showed once again why he is the best pure point guard in the NBA by torching the Lakers in round 1 of the playoffs. Throw David Anderson in just to get some size in return. This could also be a Gasol, Blake, Walton and picks for CP3 and Emeka Okafor, but then the Lakers take on a hefty Okafor contract for three years at over $11mil per.

Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom, Luke Walton for Dwight Howard, J.J. Redick, Brandon Bass

I hate to lose Lamar and Bynum, but for Dwight Howard it’s worth giving up a bit more. There is no one in the league remotely like him, nor has there ever been. He’s an athletic freak for someone his size and is by far the best center in the league. The Lakers also acquire a sharpshooter in Redick, and  a solid backup power forward in Bass while shedding Walton in the process. The Lakers would still need to address their point guard issue but a deal involving Pau for CP3 or Deron Williams could still be worked out….could you imagine?

So what’s next?

4:51 pm in Lakers, Trades by Wicked Chicken

As the Lakers were embarrassed by the Mavericks in the second round and Phil finishing his coaching career many questions are arising on how the Lakers should move forward in regards to coaching and off-season moves. Many fans were so fed up with their performance on the court that they want to follow Magic Johnson’s suggestion and ”blow this team up.” While others like Kobe Bryant say, “If this team came back as is I know we could win.”

So which side of the fence do you sit on? Is it time to panic and get rid of major components like Pau, Andrew, Artest, and Lamar? Or should they sit tight and just make minor tweaks to the bench?

There are many factors in the decisions the Buss family and Mitch Kupchack will have to make in the coming weeks and months, the most pressing being who will be the Lakers new coach. Kobe has endorsed Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw, but the Lakers have recently granted both Shaw and Chuck Person permission to speak with the Golden State Warriors about their head coaching position. There have also been rumors about Rick Adelman, former Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy, former Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, Cavalier coach Byron Scott, and Jeff Van Gundy. So who is the right fit? Do they go with Shaw and keep the same system in place or do they go in a completely new direction?

For me, if they can’t pry Greg Popovich from the San Antonio Spurs I’d like to see the Lakers go after Jeff Van Gundy. He had great success with the Houston Rockets even with Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady perpetually injured which lead to his unjust termination. He’s also had a few years away from coaching as he’s been commentating which can rebuild the energy and fire needed to take on a few seasons much the way Doc Rivers had success when he started the Celtics job. Another added benefit for hiring Van Gundy is for comic relief. Jeff is always good for a quote or two.

So what do the Lakers do in terms of personal? Who to keep ? who to trade? Theo Ratliff, Trey Johnson, and Joe Smith all have expiring contracts and I’d venture a guess that none of them will be back in a Lakers uniform. Derrick Caracter has a team option but with the recent IHOP incident involving a pregnant woman I find it doubtful they would bring him back. Shannon Brown and Matt Barnes both have player options and I don’t have a sense either way what they will choose to do. I think they add value to the Lakers, but it seems Shannon wants more opportunity for himself so they may wait until they see what moves the Lakers make.

The rest of the Lakers players are under contract and this is where the chess moves start taking place. Luke Walton is under contract all the way through 2013 and now that Phil is gone Luke serves no purpose on the Lakers. He takes up cap space and a spot on the roster, so I’d like to see him packaged in one of the other moves they make. Kobe is untouchable, and I’d only trade Andrew Bynum if Dwight Howard is in the deal coming back to LA. They are the two best centers in the league and are impossible to replace. Lamar Odom should be the next most untouchable as his unique and varied skill set are incredibly valuable and versatile.

The Lakers need to become more athletic; They need easier baskets. Outside of Shannon Brown and Kobe they don’t have much that can cut the defense up, get out on the break, and stay in front of opponents.

The Lakers need to land a premiere point guard like Chris Paul or Deron Williams. As much as I respect Derek Fisher he just isn’t a starting point guard, never has been, and even if it takes trading Pau Gasol to get a top tier point guard it is worth it, especially since Phil Jackson and the triangle offense are likely a thing of the past.

The Lakers need to acquire a deadly three point shooter. The playoffs exposed their poor outside shooting which allowed the Mavericks to pack the paint making it difficult for Kobe and the Lakers big men. It’s weird to say but letting go of Sasha Vujacic may have been a bad idea. They need to add a Kyle Korver, Stojakovic, Eddie House type (hopefully younger) to spread the floor because outside of Fisher they really don’t have a dependable three point threat. Maybe Anthony Morrow?

With the loss of Ratliff, Joe Smith, and Derrick Caracter there will be a need for a backup center and power forward. If Matt Barnes and/or Shannon Brown opt to leave it should give Devin Ebanks some opportunity to play. He showed some promise early in the season, I’d like to see what he can do.

Let us know what you think the Lakers should do by commenting below.

Round 2 grades v Dallas

10:26 am in Lakers, Loss, Playoffs, Statistics by Wicked Chicken

The Lakers ended the season and Phil’s career with an embarrassing series against the Dallas Mavericks. The following are grades of each player’s performance:

Kobe Bryant: B
Kobe was one of the few that bright spots in this series against the Mavs. He came to play where most did not averaging just under 25 points per game. The lack of outside shooting allowed the Mavericks to collapse their defense and pack the paint which made it difficult for Bryant to get to the basket and forced him to shoot from the outside and midrange where he still managed to shoot nearly 46%. Although Kobe had a solid series, where he failed was finishing games as the Lakers gave up leads down the stretch in games 1 and 3. This is when Kobe is supposed to be at his best yet Dirk Nowitzki was the one who came out as “King of Clutch” in this series. The game 1 buzzer beater miss by Kobe was a sign that the Lakers just didn’t have it this year.

Pau Gasol: C-
Pau was horrible against the Hornets in round 1 where I gave him a D+ for his performance. He was only slightly better against the Mavericks (thus the rise in his grade) but was essentially the root of the Lakers breakdown on many levels. Although better statistically on the offensive end Pau was largely rendered ineffective by Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas defense. Pau was continually pushed off the block, stripped, and swatted as he shot a lowly 42% from the field. Pau’s defense was even more pathetic as he was eaten alive on the pick-and-roll, late on rotations leaving wide open threes, lacked the fortitude to box out, didn’t protect the rim, and was continually scorched by Dirk. When Pau was on the floor Nowitzki shot 60% versus 46% when Pau was on the bench. Although not sure of the validity in the claim that Pau’s girlfriend left him, there was definitely some mental issue going on with the Euro Player of the Year as Gasol lacked the grit, determination, and the heart necessary for a championship run. Not Fisher’s leadership, nor Kobe’s glares, nor Phil’s punches could wake Pau from his funk which eventually worked it’s way into the locker room as “trust issues.” Basketball is a team game so no one person is to blame for the Lakers demise, but Pau’s distracted and gutless performance throughout the playoffs was as large a contributor as any other player.

Andrew Bynum: B+
It’s a shame Bynum will be largely remembered for his inexcusable cheap shot on J.J. Barea in the fourth quarter of game 4 and then ripping off his jersey as he walked off the court because Andrew put together a strong performance through the series as he shot 52% and continually punished the Mavs inside. As one of the few bright spots for the Lakers in this series, Bynum became a focal point of the offense as Pau continued to struggle and really shined in games 2 and 3. Although Bynum deserves a better grade for his play, the Barea cheap shot has tainted the Lakers franchise and his contributions on the court. That said I understand Bynum’s frustration with seeing Barea and others cut up the Lakers defense and get to the rim over and over again as a result of the “trust issues” he was speaking of. I just wish he would have dished out a hard foul in game 2 rather than wait until the series was over to intimidate the Mavericks.

Lamar Odom: B
Before game 2 I posted a Keys to game 2 v Dallas where I outlined the importance of Lamar’s role in this series noting how he must attack and be an offensive threat as no one the Mavericks have can handle Odom’s varied skill set. Lamar followed that up with six points on 3-12 shooting and nine boards in game 2′s shellacking. Lamar had an overall decent series shooting over 45% for 11.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and did a better job guarding Dirk than Pau did, but Lamar’s horrible 0-4 shooting from 3-point land was part of the plague infecting the Lakers. The 6th man award recipient was completely overshadowed by the Mavericks’ 6th man Jason Terry who torched the Lakers from the 3-point line. Lamar needed to be great but he was just ok and the frustrated body check on Dirk in game 4 didn’t help his cause.

Ron Artest: C
Ron had a really strong series against the Hornets in round 1 but it didn’t really carry over to the Dallas series. He played some decent defense but shot a horrid 32% from the field and 20% from the 3-point line. In the process of losing in game 2 old skool Ron Ron came out to play with a clothesline on J.J. Barea that sent Artest to the locker room early and resulted in a game 3 suspension from the league. This was a precursor to the building team frustration that reared it’s ugly head in game 4 with Lamar’s body check on Dirk and Bynum’s forearm shiver on Barea. To cap it off, Ron’s breakaway rim-rejection in game 4 was the final straw and the realization that all hope was lost.

Derek Fisher: C-
I’m sure Derek welcomed the relief of not having to chase a young quick point guard around the floor in this series but Fisher even made the legendary dinosaur J-Kidd look like he was in his prime. Derek shot 31% for the series and only 25% from behind the arc where we all waited for Derek to have his infamous clutch moment in this series but instead Derek’s defining moment was fouling Jason Terry at the end of game 3 when the Lakers were down by two and then following it up with a bad pass to Odom on the inbound play sealing the loss. Furthermore, Derek’s inability to rally his teammates under the challenges presented in this series are a sign that the captain’s inspirational voice has become weary.

Steve Blake: D
The backup point guard was even less effective against the Mavericks as J.J. Barea went absolutely nutty against the Killer B’s. Blake shot a horrid 23% from the field and an even more miserable 18% from three point land with his defining moment coming in game 2 where he went 0-5 and had two turnovers while looking completely lost on the court. There were high hopes for Blake coming into the season as many expected him to challenge for the starting point guard spot. Those hopes are gone.

Shannon Brown: C
Although Shannon managed to shoot over 50% for the series most of his contributions were lost in the barrage of the opposing bench as they made the Lakers bench look foolish time and time again. Brown’s untimely turnovers and stopping the offense to jack up shots only added more frustration for Lakers fans.

Matt Barnes: C
Another member of the bench that gave away games, Matt was mostly forgettable only shooting 35% for the series and shot a goose egg 0-6 from behind the arc. Matt grabbed some boards with his hustle but it would have been nice if he hit a few of those threes.

Trey Johnson, Luke Walton, Joe Smith: NC
These three receive a Non Complete for their limited action in the series. Most of their time came at the end of the game 4 blowout and was irrelevant, but I did want to mention that Luke Walton went 0-2 and managed two turnovers in a little over four minutes of play. Hope that $5 million you made this year while sitting on the bench sits well with you.

Phil Jackson: F
As Phil did the walk of shame to the locker room after the game 4 loss one can’t help but feel this season was a massive failure and a missed opportunity. For the Buss family it’s championship or bust and they know that Kobe’s dominating years are dwindling down so Mitch and Jerry assembled a top notch roster to help Phil take them to the promise land. But even with the highest payroll and most talent in the league Phil failed to motivate, keep his team engaged, strategize, and win. He was out-coached for most of round 1 against Monty Williams, and again completely out-coached by Rick Carlisle in round 2 against the Dallas. The Mavericks repeatedly shredded the Lakers defense for layups and wide open jumpers and through four games we never saw any defensive adjustment to take care of this problem. Same thing game in and game out allowing a record breaking 3-point performance from their opponents. Phil couldn’t get Pau on track with his mind games and even his barking and punching in game three fell on def ears as the team was splintered and fragile. For all of the praise Phil gets for managing players and egos his incense induced hippy approach failed as there were clearly “trust issues” going on in their embarrassing and shameful sweep out of the playoffs. Enjoy the mountains of Montana Phil…