Every few weeks, our staff writers chime in on the trending topics, rumors and storylines surrounding the Lakers. In this post-All-Star Break edition of State of the Nation, they answer five questions that will ultimately decide the fate of the Lakers.
Will the Lakers be active at the trade deadline?
Johnny Navarrette // @JohnnyNav: It is hard to see the Lakers not being active this deadline. With the Lakers fighting for lottery positioning at this point, they have some goals financially they need to accomplish like getting under the tax threshold. I think the most realistic trade options are Pau Gasol, Steve Blake, Jordan Hill, and Chris Kaman.
Oren Levy // @LakersOren: They should be active at the deadline. The Lakers’ season is effectively over, and the Lakers have some parts that could be valuable to contenders. Ideally, the Lakers should accomplish two things before the deadline: Get below the luxury tax, and acquire future assets. If they can get below the tax line (to avoid repeater tax in future years), and turn Gasol/Kaman/Hill/Blake/Whoever into a 1st round pick and a couple of 2nd rounders, they’ve improved their position.
Jory Dreher // @Jay_Laker: With the impending tax bill looming for a team that’s not going to make the playoffs, they almost have to deal for cap relief purposes. The Lakers have held discussions with the Brooklyn Nets in regards to a possible Jordan Hill deal, and we still hear the chatter about Pau to Phoenix–so I would be surprised if they stand pat.
Ash Kargaran // @aakargaran: Yes. The Lakers will be trying to find a trade partner for Pau Gasol. At this point, the Lakers may even take less value for Gasol just so they can guarantee he doesn’t walk away for nothing, a la Dwight Howard last year.
Kanta Ito // @Kanta_B_Ito: They have to be, but in order to build for the future. Players like Kaman, Hill, and Blake might get involved in minor deals in order for the Lakers to get under the luxury tax this season. However, reports of Pau Gasol getting shopped around creates a possibility that a blockbuster deal could occur before the trade deadline.
Garrett Garcia // @GarrettGarcia: The Lakers will be active at the trade deadline I believe, however it won’t necessarily be a big move like many may think. Could be a series of small moves to help the team get under the luxury tax threshold or help the business side of the team.
Robert Benitez // @beeb0: Yes, whether it will be Pau or some small pieces, a change is definitely coming.
Melvin Taylor // @MelvinTaylorII: No I do not believe they will be. With all of the rumors surrounding the team I think they will keep what they have currently and finish out the season as best they can.
Next Question: How will the Lakers fare over the final 29 games?
Every few weeks, our staff writers chime in on the trending topics, rumors and storylines surrounding the Lakers. In this holiday edition of State of the Nation, they answer five questions that will ultimately decide the fate of the Lakers.
How much of a case is Nick Young making for Sixth Man of the Year?
Garrett Garcia // @GarrettGarcia: Nick Young is certainly playing well in his role off the bench. He puts up great scoring numbers and brings an energy that most players don’t have. His case for 6th man is a strong one, but with the likes of Rodney Stuckey also making a case in Detriot Young will will have his hands full.
Oren Levy // @LakersOren: Not much. The last seven sixth man of the year winners came from 50+ win teams. There are other great candidates on winning teams this year like Jamal Crawford, Reggie Jackson, and Manu Ginobili. Young has been great for the Lakers this season, but the team will not win enough games for him to gain serious consideration.
Johnny Navarrette // @JohnnyNav: He’s making a nice case for himself but I think he’ll fall short simply because he is scoring and nothing else. When you look at past 6th Man of the Year winners, they do more than just score. It doesn’t take away from the season he is having though, definitely a bright spot this season and hopefully he calls this home for the years to come.
Jory Dreher // @Jay_Laker: Nick Young is leading all reserves in ppg this season at 15.6ppg and has done everything right to making himself the front runner for 6th man of the year. My only fear is that he will be over looked if the Lakers fail to reach the playoffs.
Belal Abdelfattah // @ItsBelal_A: Nick Young has done a great job of being the one constant on offense for a Laker squad that really doesn’t know who is going to score for them night in and night out. That being said, the 6th Man of the Year is like the MVP, it tends to go to the best 6th man on a title contender, not necessarily to the most deserving player.
Anna Gonda // @AnnaLBG: In a bubble, he’s making a great case! Most of the Lakers’ wins this season would not have come to pass had it not been for Nick Young’s ability to score. In the grand scheme of things, however, his impact would be even greater if the Lakers’ record was better than it is.
Ashkan Kargaran // @aakargaran: Tough to make a case for 6th Man of the Year when your team is struggling and you’re thrust into the starting lineup due to injuries. Jamal Crawford, Reggie Jackson and Mo Williams are all going to finish ahead of Swaggy P.
Robert Benitez // @beeb0: I think Nick Young is definitely in the conversation to win 6th Man of the Year, however, with the Lakers’ current record, it’s hard to see the award going to a player on a sub .500 team.
Melvin Taylor // @MelvinTaylorII: As much as I believe in the swag of Nick Young it would be difficult to do so because he is only assisting the Lakers in scoring. With him being forced into the starting lineup due to injuries that also hurts his case as well. If the team were completely healthy and he still were to produce at this level then the conversation could be opened but since that is not the case he unfortunately does not have one.
Next Question: With the possibility of Pau Gasol not being resigned looming over head, should the Lakers trade him before the deadline?
Every few weeks, our staff writers chime in on the trending topics, rumors and storylines surrounding the Lakers. In this week’s State of the Nation, they answer five questions that will ultimately decide the fate of the Lakers.
Do you think it was the right decision to sign Kobe Bryant to an extension before returning from his Achilles injury?
Garrett Garcia // @GarrettGarcia: Yes. Of course it was, regardless of what he looks like when he comes back it was a smart move to sign him to this extension. Kobe Bryant will still be Kobe Bryant, just maybe a bit slower or less explosive, smart move by the Lakers brass.
Oren Levy // @LakersOren: Yes. They most likely prevented any other team from ever being able to sell Kobe Bryant merchandise, and ensured that Kobe is the longest tenured player with a single franchise ever. Right move. Now, the dollar amount.
Johnny Navarrette // @JohnnyNav: It’s definitely a risk, but considering what team doctors are saying and Kobe’s ability to adjust his game throughout the years, it’s a calculated risk that the Lakers are able to take. It’s important to remember that the Achilles will be stronger than ever and when it comes to Kobe’s skill level, there should be little doubt about what he can do.
Alik Ourfalian // @alik_o: Absolutely. Kobe is the face of this franchise. It would be wrong for him to retire anywhere else. They’ve seen him at practice and they know what he’s capable of, so there would be no point in waiting for him to return. Kobe has played through injuries before, from playing an entire season with a broken finger on his shooting hand, to playing with a severely sprained ankle. It’s nothing he hasn’t done before.
Jory Dreher // @Jay_Laker: Without question. I feel the Lakers did the right thing regarding Kobe’s extension. Dr. Jerry Buss would’ve done the same thing as well.
Belal Abdelfattah // @ItsBelal_A: This is something we probably won’t be able to answer for sure until next summer at the earliest, but personally I think it was the right move. When a player brings you five championships and over 17 seasons of excellence, you reward him with faith. People can overreact and rush to opinion on this, but we should all at least give Kobe the benefit of the doubt, he’s earned that.
Anna Gonda // @AnnaLBG: Yes – firstly, you don’t want to go the entire season with this looming over Kobe, the team or management. With the Lakers facing so many uncertainties the last few, not to mention upcoming, seasons, Kobe is the surest bet they have available. I’m giving Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss the benefit of the doubt here as far as Kobe’s performance after the injury goes. They’ve obviously seen him rehab, practice and work out more than any outsiders have so they must be optimistic about his return to form.
Ashkan Kargaran // @aakargaran: Of course not, but this is Kobe Bean Bryant we’re talking about and at this point he can end his career which ever way he chooses.
Robert Benitez // @beeb0: I don’t think it matters. If given the opportunity to sign Kobe Bryant, you sign Kobe Bryant. I don’t think anyone expects Kobe to return and be anything less than great so the timing of the contract extension is moot. The price on the other hand, that’s a different story.
Felipe Amaral // @f_amaral: Business-wise, it wasn’t. A general manager would want to wait and see how a player returning from such a serious injury would look on the court before committing any extra money to him. But Kobe Bryant is a special case for the Lakers. For everything he’s done for the franchise, he deserves this huge vote of confidence by the team’s front office.
Mark Awad // @MarkeyTheBoss_: No, but this is Kobe we’re talking about, the odds are definitely against him. If there was a 35-year-old who could come back from this injury and still dominate, it would be Kobe. The Lakers got it out the way and don’t have to deal with it all offseason.
Kanta Ito // @Kanta_B_Ito: Yes. The best medical team and training staff in the world surround Kobe and has followed him wherever he goes 24/7 to help him return to the court at 100% performance level. Furthermore, Kobe’s work ethic and determination made it easier for the Lakers Organization to sign him before he makes his season debut to show him gratitude and appreciation for the impact he has made to the Lakers Organization for the last 17 years.
Melvin Taylor // @MelvinTaylorII: I believe that the Lakers could have waited longer yes but if they were going to do it anyway then it was best to do so now. Plus it allows them to then know what they will be working with salary cap wise moving forward.
Jordan Grant // @JordanGrant90: I don’t believe it was. While our management has fully earned my trust and respect over the years, I don’t see the benefit in this one. It’s not that I don’t see Kobe coming back in full force, I just don’t see any reason not to wait and see him play. Maybe we’re missing something here.
Jon Gaffer // @jewelslamo: It was right only in the sense of loyalty, respect, & rewarding a superstar for a stellar career. Let’s face it, if it was Steve Nash, do you think this happens?
Kayla Lombardo // @KaylaLombardo11: Yes, because Kobe Bryant is a franchise player who has proven that he can live up to lofty contract expectations and perform under the bright Los Angeles lights, year after year. Not only is Kobe’s contract extension good for Kobe, but it is also good for the Lakers and the NBA, in general. It shows other young emerging stars that if they perform to a Kobe-caliber level, rewards will be in their futures. Say what you want about the business side of sports today, but what’s more American than working hard and seeing a return on your investment of time and effort?
Next Question: At about $24 million per year for the next two years, are the Lakers overpaying Bryant?
All week long, our staff writers have chimed in on a series of topics, rumors and storylines leading up to the start of the season. In this week’s final edition of State of the Nation, our writers examine the Lakers’ biggest key to this upcoming season:
The biggest key will be staying healthy. The Lakers don’t have much behind Kobe, Nash and Gasol. Even if Bryant comes back at full strength from the Achilles tear, the Purple & Gold will need Nash’s back and Gasol’s knees to hold up if they want to achieve a successful season.
The play of our young players, as well as keeping our older players fresh and injury-free. The new guys were brought in with the specific purpose of providing that spark and fresh legs to keep up with the rest of the NBA. If Pau, Nash, and Kobe can stay healthy, we could be looking at a dangerous team who can compete in the playoffs.
Two very important elements. First, the defense needs to be a lot better. We can score 120 points a game, but if you can’t slow down a team, it won’t make a difference. Second of all, chemistry is important. Can Gasol and Nash bring the team in together with so much young talent?
Obviously staying healthy is a big one, but I also believe team chemistry is going to be very important this season. It’s no secret Dwight Howard wasn’t exactly the happiest guy in the locker room last season and it’s obvious now that he’s gone, the team is clicking better then they did last year. It is important for the Lakers to keep that chemistry throughout the year and play as a cohesive unit.
Health. The Lakers may have added young role players, but their three key guys are on the wrong side of 30, and ailing. If Kobe, Pau, and Nash are healthy, this team has serious potential. If not…get ready for the lottery!
The biggest key to success this season is chemistry. Chemistry proved to be the downfall of the Lakers last season, and if the team can mesh well and communicate, they have a lot more potential then they ever did last season.
Chemistry. Look back to the Lakers teams who won championships. Above all else they had chemistry with one another. When Farmar, Ariza, Vujacic and company were on the floor, they meshed well with one another. If they Lakers can play as a team, the sky is the limit.
Health, health, and health again. With Steve Nash’s health seemingly declining before out very eyes and no timetable for the return of Kobe Bryant, keeping guys like Pau, Nick Young and Chris Kaman healthy long enough to hold down the fort is going to be crucial.
Health. With Kobe Bryant returning from his torn Achilles, and both Pau Gasol and Steve Nash returning from injury-riddled seasons, the Lakers are going to need some ‘luck’ in the injury department to be successful this season.
All week long, our staff writers chime in on a series of topics, rumors and storylines leading up to the start of the season. In today’s edition of State of the Nation, our writers gauge whether or not fans will embrace coach Mike D’Antoni this season, especially after last season’s debacle:
With a full training camp under his belt, will coach D’Antoni finally receive a “fair shake” from the Lakers’ faithful this season?
Not really. D’Antoni has already lost the faithful’s confidence with his performance last season. Even if the Lakers do well this year and exceed expectations, it’s conceivable that the general feeling would be that it’s happening in spite of D’Antoni, not because of him.
I think as fans we owe it to him to back off a bit for now. This is a new season and a new start. How we start the season will be critical for him, but he needs to have our full support for the time being.
As long as you coach in Los Angeles and haven’t won a title, you will never get a fair shake. Expectations are extremely high here. The season hasn’t started and D’Antoni might already be on the hot seat. The coach has a target on his back and the only way you get rid of it, is to win baby!
No. I’ve always been on the “give D’Antoni a chance” bandwagon, but I’m in the minority. Lakers fans’ biggest issue with D’Antoni is simply the fact that he is not Phil Jackson. At the first sign of trouble, fans will be crying for D’Antoni’s head. The only way to change this is for them to win.
With a full training camp, Mike D’Antoni will not have any excuses. Management went out and got players for his system, so it’s now “put up or shut up.” With Phil’s ghost lurking, D’Antoni will never get a fair shake with the fans, even with a ring.
Nope. Winning is the only way for D’Antoni to get any respect from Laker Nation, and this team is not championship caliber. Fair or not, fans see D’Antoni as the guy who took over this team instead of Phil Jackson. D’Antoni will never get a fair shake. But his replacement might.
I can’t say he will. Phil Jackson was one of the most beloved coaches in Lakers history and D’Antoni will always be the coach who beat him out for the position. D’Antoni will need to start winning and building a team the Lakers can stand behind. Unfortunately, this season doesn’t look like his year.
D’Antoni will never truly receive a fair shake unless he wins a championship as the Lakers coach. Point, blank, period. Sorry, but that is the way it is here. You cannot come to this franchise and expect anything less to be sufficient.
While I want to say yes, I think it depends on how the Lakers come out of the gate. This is unfair in itself, however, when you consider Steve Nash’s health and the fact that Kobe’s return is still a question mark.
Final Question Tomorrow: What will be the biggest key to the Lakers’ success this season?
All week long, our staff writers chime in on a series of topics, rumors and storylines leading up to the start of the season. In today’s edition of State of the Nation, our writers predict the Lakers’ record through the first seven games of the season (LAC, @GSW, SAS, ATL, @DAL, @HOU, @NO):
In their first 7 games, the Lakers will face six playoff teams, including two back-to-backs. What is your prediction through the first 7 games?
5-2 with Kobe, 3-4 without Kobe. Opening back-to-back against the Clippers and Warriors won’t be easy for the Lakers. But this entirely depends on if/when Kobe will be back. If he suits up for the season opener and plays the first seven games I believe they have a chance of going 5-2. However, without Kobe for those 7 games I don’t see them doing any better than 3-4.
4-3. Opening back-to-back against the Clippers and Golden State will be tough, but after that, the Lakers have Dallas, Atlanta, and New Orleans. Those should be wins. All they need to do is go 1-3 against the LAC, GS, SA, and HOU to stay above .500 early on.
3-4. The Lakers open up with a tough stretch against some challenging teams and 3-4 will be a nice record to escape with. The back-to-backs should not be as difficult as they used to be, due to the infusion of youth and athleticism, but nonetheless they will be difficult.
4-3. Not too high, not too low. Preseason is one thing, but the regular season means more in the long run. Having a tough task this early, however, can set the tone for the rest of the season. After last year’s performance, 4-3 seems like a dream come true this early.
I have been saying it since last year. If the Lakers don’t play defense they could lose 6 of 7 games. If they clamp down and concentrate on actually stopping teams from getting easy baskets, they could win 3 of the first 7 games.
3-4. A difficult opening stretch, including two back-to-backs, should be the ultimate test for the Lakers right off the bat. Without Kobe, a record above .500 mark be somewhat surprising, as the Lakers battle some of the top teams in the Western Conference.
Next Question Tomorrow: With a full training camp under his belt, will coach D’Antoni receive a “fair shake” from the Lakers’ faithful this season?
All week long, our staff writers chime in on a series of topics, rumors and storylines leading up to the start of the season. In today’s edition of State of the Nation, our writers offer their opinions on ESPN ranking Kobe Bryant as the NBA’s 25th best player:
What are your thoughts on Kobe Bryant being ranked 25th by ESPN, and what type of season do you see him having?
Outrageous and utterly disrespectful. I wouldn’t take any of the 24 players ranked ahead before the Black Mamba. Coming back from the Achilles, I expect Kobe to take it slow at first, but finish the season strong to prove the world he’s just different. By 2014, it will be all systems go for Mr. Bryant.
Kobe’s spot at number 25 is a mistake. You’d rather have 24 NBA players on your team before Kobe Bryant? I’ll attribute the ranking strictly to his age and injury, but when it comes to anything Kobe, he has earned the benefit of the doubt.
25th? Disrespectful. Do we ever wonder how Kobe only has one MVP but five championships? I’ll take Kobe with one leg to be a top 10 player. No way the NBA has 24 other players better than him. First match his toughness, second his basketball I.Q. They say the game of basketball is 90% mental and 10% athleticism. Having an Achilles tear is bad, but you just can’t count someone out who nearly led the league in scoring at the age of 35. I would like to see Kobe come back mid-season; have him rest, get in shape, there’s no rush.
Kobe being ranked 25th best player is blasphemous! Yes, you take into account the difficulty of returning from an Achilles injury, but Kobe’s endurance, championship pedigree, and work ethic should have been taken into account. Please show me 24 more players who are better on two legs than Kobe on one!
I understand they expect the injury to take a toll on him, but 25 is too low. Kobe was first team All-NBA last season. Anything less than third team would surprise me, even with the Achilles injury. That’s top 15. Still, Kobe has been consistently underrated in NBA Ranks (never ranked in top 5), so it’s nothing new.
It’s preposterous for Kobe to be ranked the 25th best player. Even with a torn Achilles I would still rather him play than 24 of the other players on the list. The best part about this ranking is that Kobe’s heard about it and is feeding off it. I can guarantee you right now that this ranking will only make a better and even more efficient Kobe.
25th is far too low for Kobe Bean Bryant. It is certainly difficult to get a feel for how effective Bryant will be coming off Achilles surgery, but being ranked behind the likes of Chris Bosh, Joakim Noah and John Wall is inexcusable. If Bryant’s rigorous rehabilitation this off-season is any indication, he should be able to overcome this potentially catastrophic injury and reclaim a top 10 status by the end of the season.
Next Question Tomorrow: In their first 7 games, the Lakers will face six playoff teams, including two back-to-backs. What is your prediction through the first 7 games?
All week long, our staff writers will chime in on a series of topics, rumors and storylines leading up to the start of the season. In today’s edition of State of the Nation, our writers highlight which player has surprised them the most thus far:
Chris Kaman. He displayed great chemistry with Pau Gasol right off the bat and that looks to be a good building block for the team in the upcoming season. The Lakers have had success in recent years with two skilled seven-footers sharing the court and that might happen again with Gasol and Kaman.
Xavier Henry has been the biggest surprise this preseason. Perhaps it’s more surprising that I’ve never seen a player refuse to pass the ball under any circumstances. Nevertheless, he has proven that he has some great skills and can be a valuable asset to the team. Hopefully Kobe, of all people, can teach him a thing or two about sharing the rock.
No doubt Chris Kaman. Averaging nearly a double-double in the preseason, Kaman seems to have found his groove with fellow big Pau Gasol. No attitude or demand from Kaman, he just does as the coaches tell him with no pressure at all.
I’ve been impressed with the entire team so far this preseason, but Nick Young tops the list. Young has been a consistent scorer and has moved the ball efficiently, as well. He also has the skill to get to the basket and create shots for himself, as well as his teammates.
Pau Gasol. Gasol has struggled mightily the last two seasons while accommodating Andrew Bynum & Dwight Howard. His health has also declined, particularly this past season. Gasol has come out this preseason looking healthy and more aggressive, and it has translated into him having a very good preseason.
Wesley Johnson. With his length and athleticism, I expected him to succeed early and often in coach Mike D’Antoni’s system. Instead, he looked hesitant in early preseason action before injuring his foot and missing time.
Chris Kaman. Kaman’s ability to score both inside the paint and from the mid-range has particularly surprised me. Also, his ability to mesh with Pau Gasol has been a welcomed sight thus far. Perhaps Kaman has been injured these past few years, because he certainly looks like the productive Kaman of old.
Chris Kaman. Kaman has come into his own with the Lakers and is playing a solid role as center. He comes without the drama and superstar treatment Howard demanded, and he goes out and plays hard, doing what the coaching staff asks of him.
The player that has surprised me most this preseason is Chris Kaman. Playing alongside Gasol has looked almost effortless for him. There will be defensive lapses because of their ages, however, they could become a great duo if Kaman continues to elevate his game.
Next Question Tomorrow: What are your thoughts on Kobe Bryant being ranked as the NBA’s 25th best player by ESPN, and what type of season do you see him having?