The NBA season is finally upon us. Some strange things happened between the NBA lockout and the start of this season. The Lakers have a new coaching staff and a re-tooled roster. The Lakers, Rockets and Hornets executed a perfectly good trade that made all three teams better. The only thing left was for the NBA Commissioner to sign off on the deal.
However, David Stern (the “de facto” General Manager of the New Orleans Hornets) and the league office decided to get involved.
The moment this occurred, Dell Demps, the actual Hornets GM, became an irrelevant bystander and the trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers stopped being a negotiation and turned into a shakedown. A few questions remain; was David Stern’s involvement a conflict of interest? Yes! Was Stern’s involvement an abuse of power? Yes! Did Stern’s involvement leave an indelible stain on the league’s credibility? Yes!
The league tasked the Lakers with making the Hornets a playoff team then flip-flopped on what it actually wanted between winning now and acquiring youth and building for the future. The package that the Hornets received from the Clippers pales in comparison to the one that would have sent four starters to New Orleans. From a Lakers perspective, the fallout from the shakedown included the league gift-wrapping Chris Paul to the Clippers and caused Lamar Odom to demand and receive a trade.
The Lakers are still after Dwight Howard, but in the meantime have made some under the radar moves to fill holes on the roster. Thanks to the league-office a quick fix of a superstar does not appear to be on the horizon. The Lakers lost Lamar Odom, Shannon Brown, Theo Ratliff & Joe Smith from last years roster.
Several have focused on big-name trades, but the Lakers have to develop their own young players. Rookies PG Darius Morris, SG Andrew Goudelock & PF Malcolm Thomas provide youth and versatility and fill huge needs. The purple and gold added a few low risk high reward role-playing veterans SG/SF Jason Kapono, PF Josh McRoberts, PF Troy Murphy, SG Gerald Green and C Chris Daniels. There is a chance that the two recent additions to the L.A. Defenders forwards Elijah Millsap & Zach Andrews will make an appearance.
A few things to look for in the first of two preseason games against the Clippers this week:
1. The development of Devin Ebanks – On a team short on young athletes his athleticism, activity on defense and productivity off the bench will be huge.
2. Andrew Bynum’s increased role – Without Lamar Odom, Bynum will play more minutes.
3. The development and production of the bench – Metta World Peace, Luke Walton, Devin Ebanks, Josh McRoberts, Troy Murphy, Jason Kapono, Andrew Goudelock and Gerald Green.
4. The Lakers pick and roll defense on Chris Paul – Paul is an excellent floor general and great at pick-and-roll offense. The Lakers will play him differently this season as the defensive philosophy has changed under Mike Brown and staff.
5. The Lakers rebounding – Mike Brown coached teams have been great rebounding teams. This is the most talented group of big men he has had to work with. When you can control the boards, you can keep the game close and allow your star player to take over at the end.
6. Three-point shooting – Jason Kapono, Matt Barnes, Andrew Goudelock, Devin Ebanks, Steve Blake can all stretch the floor shooting from distance.
Lakers: S. Blake, K. Bryant, M. Barnes, P. Gasol, A. Bynum
Clippers: C. Paul, C. Billups, C. Butler, B. Griffin, D. Jordan
Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST
- Los Angeles: FS West (Bill Macdonald & Stu Lantz)
- Los Angeles: Prime Ticket (Ralph Lawler & Mike Smith)
- Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (John Ireland & Mychal Thompson)
- Los Angeles: KFWB 980 (Ralph Lawler, Mike Smith & Brian Sieman)
- Derrick Caracter (Torn Meniscus) Out
- Derek Fisher Out (Not Injured / Sitting out