Forum Blue & Gold: Apparently the Lakers coaching staff is thinking like some commenters on this blog have been – they want to consider Lamar Odom coming off the bench this year. And apparently Odom is game for the idea, making a sort of Manu-like role for himself.

While I’ve been in the “let’s start the big five and see how they mesh before we decide it won’t work camp,” I’ll admit that Odom coming off the bench has what Ziller aptly described as “delightful possibilities.” Odom is the key to the Lakers versatility this year, and the fact that he could come off the bench and play the two, three or four gives Phil Jackson a host of match up possibilities.

But all of those possibilities hinge on one idea – Trevor Ariza has to earn that starting spot.

The question is not at the defensive end of the floor, where he will guard the best opposing two or three (or, at least switch off with Kobe on that task). To have two good wing defenders with Bynum as a backstop would make for a potentially very good defense.

I’ll say this now and it will become my mantra for this season – the Lakers will go as far as their defense will take them.

The question about Ariza is on offense – can he develop a jumper to help spread the floor? He shot just 33% eFG% on jumpers last year, and 27% from three for the season (although, when he got open threes with the Lakers, that improved to the Mendoza-line number of 33.3%). Ariza is explosive, he can run with the break an in the half court he gets to the hole (he had a very good true shooting percentage last season of 59.4% with the Lakers, think of that stat like points per shot attempt, and know Kobe was at 57.6%).

But teams are going to play off him on that weak side, they are going to try to take away the two man game, they will double Pau and Kobe off of him until he makes them pay with consistency from the outside. Rumor is he spent a lot of time this summer shooting jump shots, working on that part of his game. We will see.

The bottom line is that apparently the starting spot is there for the taking. I don’t think Walton or Radman can fill the role the Lakers want (remember the mantra about defense). Ariza can, if he has worked on his game, maybe he can grab that brass ring – and as this is a contract year for him it’s a good time to grab it.

If he does, the Lakers are better and deeper and the possibilities are delightful. If not, if Odom starts, the Lakers are still very, very good. Not a bad problem to have.


There were questions about some of the Lakers signings of the last couple weeks – CJ Giles, Dwayne Mitchell, Brandon Heath and Jelani McCoy. While I’ll give a brief bit of background, know that these guys are there to fill out the camp roster. They are looking to get noticed, maybe get a D-League spot or a good international gig. They will not end up on the roster, although they can fight for the last spot. By my count, the Lakers have 13 guys under guaranteed deals (counting Sun Yue) and want to carry 14 this season. That means these guys need to beat out Coby Karl and Joe Crawford to get that spot at the end of the bench, a very tough task. Because the Lakers are loaded with vets, they are likely to take a first or second-year player for that spot, someone who can split time with the D-Fenders and be called up in case of injury.

And, after watching Karl this summer, I think it will be hard to wrest that spot away from him.

Dwayne Mitchell is the one guy who, with a spectacular camp, maybe could get that spot. He is a very quick guard who last season averaged 20 ppg in the D-League for Iowa. He showed he can shoot in the Summer League, shooting 61.9% for the Lakers. He worked hard on defense, but I thought made a lot of mental mistakes to go with his good plays. If he can eliminate the mistakes, maybe he can fit as a PG. But, he’s 26 years old, how much will he really improve at this point?

CJ Giles is a big body -6-10, 220 – out of Oregon State. He had enough talent to be recruited to Kansas and enough problems to be kicked out of that school. So he went to Oregon State, and they kicked him off the team mid-season, in part for consistently showing up late to practice. He averaged 6.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 18.1 minutes this season for the Beavs. Maybe some of the other Pac-10 honks out there have a better memory of him than I do, what I remember is that he really didn’t stand out.

Brandon Heath essentially carried San Diego State two seasons ago. His shooting percentage of 50.6% (eFG%) his senior year is not bad considering the volume he had to shoot. Last season he played in France for Entente Orlean, where I imagine he ate well, at least. This summer he played for the Clips.

Jelani McCoy is a 31-year-old, 6-11 center formerly of UCLA and the Lakers. He spent some time with the D-Fenders last season. He has an NBA championship ring from the 01-02 Lakers, when he played in 21 games averaging 5 minutes per. He looked like a guy with a lot of potential as a rookie for Seattle many years ago, but that never panned out.

  • Dave

    Interesting post. I think Trevor has a ton of potential (now that he’s healthy) and this is the perfect talented team to motivate him.

    I also like the fact that this post is totally lacking in ridiculous trade rumors.


    Trevor really doesn’t need a outside,we have Kobe and Fisher,we need’em to take the rack to get those “and 1’s” or POSTERIZE somebody…like G.Hill,Merry Christmas!

  • Mark

    It’s also not a given that Pau and Bynum will start every game together. With teams like Phoenix, Portland, Dallas and Houston that have athletic wing-type power forwards, I’m sure we’ll see Lamar guarding them. With teams like San Antonio, Boston, etc who have more traditional post-power forwards, AND centers, then Pau and Bymun will probably start together.

  • gus26

    i like it.. 12 on the roster durring the game.. plus 2 more on the actual roster incase of injury.. it makes the team more balanced..

    fisher/ farmar/ sun
    kobe/ sasha
    ariza/ vlad/ luke
    gasol/ lamar
    bynum/ mihm

  • klingsor

    I think they are going to start Sasha at the two and kobe at the three. Sasha is already a great defender and he is by far the best shooter on the team. Besides, with Pau and Bynum in the inside, you do not need a slasher that much.

  • Just_A_Laker_Fan

    Yeah, I like that idea putting Odom as six man. He usually gets a lot of calls in first quarter from the refs so him coming off when one of the big men are foul trouble will still be difficult for many teams. Although I would love to see the big five really stand out and see how it goes. But in the long run putting Trevor would be great, defensive wise and not a bad in the putting some points on the board. He has great leaping ability and really sick dunks when he is wide open or grabing it above the rim. He’ll be our Raja Bell( not equal but better then Raja of course). But lets see how this turns up….

  • kb24bestever

    pg.sun yue
    biggest team in the NBA it might work at times.

  • Diehardfan

    We have not seen Ariza play an entire season and when Phil put him in, in the finals he looked very good. I am all for putting Rad man on the bench along with Odom and letting Ariza, Kobe, Fish, Pau and Bynum go at it. They will a crew to be reckoned with. The combination of defense from Kobe, Ariza and Bynum is going to be great. But everyone is forgetting that Pau did an above average job on Duncan, T chandler and KG.

  • Moses

    I think Odom would flourish in a 6th man role, mainly because of his versatility, but also because he is a very good team player, very unselfish, and could really come in and make some big plays for the second unit.

    Think Ariza’s slashing ability is another good reason to start with him, very athletic, would really take the pressure off of Kobe in terms of perimiter D. With Kobe and Fish’s D also Pau is quite underrated and Bynum is the anchor, that could potentially be a very good defensive 5.

  • Paul

    Odom = 6th man please.

    Ariza = Start please.

    Luke/Vlad = Better be good off the bench.

  • iskerfan567

    [Comment ID #50772 Will Be Quoted Here]


  • Michael_23

    The fact is how Ariza got limited minutes in the finals and proved to be useful more than Luke and Vlad gives you an idea that Ariza is a proven starter in the Lakers. Ariza makes way less money than Vlad and Luke and should be considered for the SF position if LO does indeed come off the bench.

    If Kobe, Ariza, or Pau get into foul trouble, LO is coming off the bench and that would be a great 6th man. If he commands the bench mob he would be a #1 or #2 option, let’s hope he can handle that.

  • iskerfan567

    LO is a scrub as far as see, we need to give Ariza a shot, and i know he will deliver

  • E-ROC

    Sign Quinton Ross, PLEASE!!!

  • Smush Walton

    Hopefully Luke & Vlad play about as much this year as Ira Newble played last year. That would be a huge improvement right there.

  • e

    [Comment ID #50773 Will Be Quoted Here]


    ariza would be an excellent starter..anyone rmbr christmas? did one hell of a job NOT ONLY posterizing hill but also containing him on the defensive end…i am all for starting ariza


    E-ROC is right…please Mitch.

  • BringDFishBack

    Doesn’t make one bit of sense. Why can’t Laker fans understand the word chemistry? For the first time since the 03 04 season the team was pretty much kept in tact last summer, and it did wonders for them. Shaking it up again would only set this team back a step. They need to go into next season where they left off playing great last season. Sure they lost the finals, but they got there didn’t they? That’s a tremendous accomplishment. That is why they need to go with the SAME starting lineup. Fish/Kobe/Vlad/Odom/Pau. Then bring the bench mob back and stronger than ever. Farmar/Sasha/Ariza/Luke/Bynum. They’re young and quick which will make up for their small size. Bynum is a great help defender which will help with that as well. The one that you might be able to switch out and keep the chemistry they way it is would be Luke for Vladi. The starters play a half court offense. The bench is more a run and gun team. Sure Odom could play in that offense, and might even flourish, but they need a big man, and Bynum fits in really well with the young guys, and Pau can’t really run and gun, so Bynum is the guy there. You can’t really put Odom there because you wouldn’t really have a starting PF. You cannot start both Bynum and Gasol for countless reasons. No big man on the bench. 2 centers who play in the low post doesn’t work. Keep it split up. It’s okay for Bynum to come off the bench even though he’s a great player, just as you are saying it would be okay for Odom and is for Manu. Bynum would really be the go to guy, which allows Kobe to get rest. The bench’s main problem last year was not having a go to scorer when teams slowed them down. Bynum would do that, and when he gets doubled, kick it out to Farmar or Sasha for the 3, or find Luke or Ariza on the cut. You can’t take Ariza off the bench because he’s really a run and gun player – dunks, steals, etc. There are certain types of players, and I’m sure PJ realizes that. That’s why Vladi was a starter last year even after Luke came back. That’s also why I believe come opening day, we shall see the same starting 5 that end the year last year.


    Bringing in Quinton Ross wouldn’t throw the chemistry off,not even a lil’ bit.He has that “I’ma lock this guy down” mentality,that’s exactly what we need,another defensive 1st type player to compliment this team,real in ya’ grill aggression.

    Ross/Sun/Ariza/Powell/Bynum or if healthy Mihm,that’s dangerous.

    Just a suggestion.

  • lakers0101


  • E-ROC

    This team can’t defend on the perimeter. That much has been proven last year. What better way to improve that defense by signing Quinton Ross? He is an improvement over Karl, Mitchell, Crawford, or any other camp fodder. He immediately becomes the second best defender on that team, and I’m sure Kobe would not mind having that type of defender playing next him. Somebody that he can trust and knows he will lockdown his defender.

  • daboss1849

    I guarantee once this Lo debacle at 3 doesn’t work out, Ariza will start and flourish with the starting lineup. Lo will have to be traded Bc no way will he take being the 6th man on the team and we don’t need that pot head bringing the team down. Trade him to dallas so Josh howard can have someone to puff puff give to.

  • GT

    I think we should consider getting Jamaal Tinsley if Indy releases him or would trade him for cheap. As much there is controvasy about him, he is as talented as any other point guard in NBA and his assist numbers are pretty good. He would have be a good backup point guard for Fish or Farmer.

  • Billy Kupchak

    [Comment ID #50780 Will Be Quoted Here]

    perhaps? Q~Ross plays some SICK man to man defense, doesn’t he? :D

  • iskerfan567

    dont we have 3 other PGs

  • LakersNewDynasty08

    [Comment ID #50785 Will Be Quoted Here]

    are u on crack

  • klingsor

    why not Sasha at the 2 and kobe at the 3 in the starting line-up? it solves all the problems (defense, 3point shooting). and kobe already plays the 3 in the triangle.

  • e

    [Comment ID #50802 Will Be Quoted Here]

    i think sasha is great but i dont think he’s as good of a defender as everyone puts him to be..sure he defended manu well, but manu was hurt already so it wasnt too more for ariza in the 3 and kobe in the 2

  • Kurt

    Just a few general thoughts on the comments responding to my post:

    First, the best part of this roster is the versatility. While we are talking about who starts, that in not necessarily related to who gets the most minutes. Some games, the five on the floor for the end of the Finals games (Fish Sasha Kobe Odom Gasol) may be the best bet. Some nights we may want to go big with Bynum Gasol and Odom along the front lines. Some nights VladRad can’t miss. Phil has a lot of options this season, and he can make a lot of moves to match other teams or create mismatches. The Lakers will have less of a set rotation this year, I think, it will be more based on matchups. All of this is to say, who starts matters some, but with this team it is not the end all be all it is with some teams.

    If you think Sun Yue is ready to play in the NBA, you clearly did not watch a lot of the Olympics. He could develop into something, but he needs to spend most of this year with the D-Fenders honing his game.

    To bringDFishBack, chemistry is a byproduct of winning as much as anything. I think you are mistaken about some things, starting with Bynum and Gasol on the court at the same time. I think it will work well. As a little piece of evidence, Gasol was one of the best players in the Olympics when he had to move to the high post and his brother was the five. I think Bynum and Gasol will pair nicely. Also, back to my first comment, we all are going to see a lot of lineup experiments this season, because Phil has the talent and can do that.

  • VoiceofReason

    You guys are so intelligent like really. You guys want Odom on the bench because he has an inconsistent shot. Then what makes you think Ariza has a better shot if hes a even worse shooter than Odom?

  • ricky

    this has nothing to do with the topic, but i was wondering if anyone would consider this trade? what does everyone think?

    vladimir radmanovic and coby karl to new jersey

    sean williams and trenton hassell to los angeles

    helps the nets because they need more shooters to compliment/take advantage of double teams on vince carter and penetration by devin harris.

    for the lakers it gives us a solid veteran guard/forward to give us a good defensive presense and can hit the jumper when open and also we get a young energetic big man who can be a defensive beast at the foward and center position to backup bynum/gasol.

  • ojt

    get rid of freaking special olympic hopeful luke walton and the laker chemistry is perfect.He is excellent if you want a door stop.what a sorry execuse of a player,no pride at all.


    Dream trade…Luke/Vlad for Stephen Jackson or Gerald Wallce.

  • morninwood

    if we have lamar coming off the bench he would just be back to being the first or second option in the 2nd group, it never worked in the past when he was the 2nd option.. he hated the pressure .why would it work now