Steve Nash

After exiting early for the second straight game with nerve irritation, it looks like Steve Nash may be out until after the All-Star break.

After Tuesday’s game vs the Jazz, Nash spoke very briefly to reporters, but did mention he might need some more time to get past this issue:

“I think I need a little more time to get over the hump,” he told the LA Times.

Head coach Mike D’Antoni was noncommittal in his post-game comments regarding his point guard, but at the time seemed like he did not know his status moving forward.

“I imagine it’s day to day. I don’t know anything else,” D’Antoni said of Nash’s status. “I haven’t really talked to him.”

It is definitely a concern that Nash says he needs a little more time to get over this injury considering he took nearly three months to return the court. At 40 years old, it is really hard to imagine this nerve root problem improving enough to where he could play multiple games in a row without setbacks.

Guard Steve Blake also shared his concern to reporters regarding Nash after the game:

“I’m pretty concerned. I know he’s dealing with a lot of pain.”

With Tuesday being Nash’s tenth game of the season, the Lakers cannot apply for the salary exclusion until one year after his final game, whenever that may be. There was talk of a potential medical retirement that would take Nash’s salary off the books, but that is no longer an option because of the number of games he has played in.

Had he retired before ten games, the Lakers could have applied for the salary exclusion 60 days after his final game, clearing his contract for the summer.

In simpler terms, Nash’s salary is on the books this season and next season barring some sort of trade, which is highly unlikely.

The Lakers using the stretch provision on Nash this summer seems more and more likely by the day.

February 10, 2014 — 7:30 PM (PST)
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Lakers continue their 3-game home series before the All-Star break to play vs. Utah Jazz. This game feature two bottom-dwelling teams who find themselves destined for a high pick in the loaded 2014 NBA Draft.

Despite playing vs. a very shorthanded Bulls team on Sunday, the Lakers could not quite get over the hump after a 4th quarter comeback attempt.

In Sunday’s game, C Chris Kaman, scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as he led the Lakers throughout the game. That’s right, the same Chris Kaman who Head Coach Mike D’Antoni has benched for reasons only known to him. Arguably one of the most fundamentally skilled big man in the game, the former all-star Kaman could have actually helped the Lakers stay afloat throughout this season so Laker Nation would not have had to witness the current atrocity the Lakers currently sit themselves in.

Well, they unfortunately witness a team that currently sits in 13th place in the Western Conference only ahead of the Jazz and Sacramento Kings.

We can criticize D’Antoni for a lot of things, but we will wait to speak on that in another conversation.

Anyways, PG Steve Nash currently stands in a dicey situation once again, as he left Sunday’s game as a precaution to his nerve irritation issues. Nash practiced Monday and is currently slated to play tonight vs. Jazz.

“It’s a little irritated, the nerve, but I’m hoping I can be better tomorrow and can play,” Nash told ESPNLA.com’s Dave McMenamin.

Hopefully Nash’s nerve irritation will not flare up again tomorrow and in the future as he has done everything he could to recover from his injury issues when nobody else would have.

The Jazz’s season has been one to forget for them also. After going 43-39 last season and slightly missing the playoffs, the Jazz decided to completely rebuild, letting key players like C Al Jefferson and current All-Star PF Paul Millsap go via free-agency. Jazz F Gordan Hayward leads this rebuilding team, having a very solid season showcasing his all-around talents scoring a very solid 16.3 PPG, grabbing 5.5 RPG, and dishing out 5.0 APG this season. Jazz’s prized rookie PG Trey Burke who averages 12.7 PPG and 5.5 APG, will be questionable tonight vs. Lakers due to a score back. although he shot 3-15 vs the Lakers during their last meeting, Burke definitely has the potential to torch the Lakers tonight with his scoring ability.

Projected Starters

PG - Trey Burke / Steve Nash [Advantage: Even]
SG - Gordon Hayward / Steve Blake [Advantage: Jazz]
SF - Richard Jefferson / Wesley Johnson [Advantage: Even]
PF - Marvin Williams / Shawne Williams [Advantage: Even]
C - Derrick Favors Chris Kaman [Advantage: Jazz]

Notable Bench Players

Jazz: G Alec Burks, F Jeremy Evans, PG John Lucas III, C Enes Kanter
Lakers: F Jordan Hill, Robert Sacre, F Ryan Kelly, PG Kendall Marshall

Bench Advantage: Lakers

Injury List

Jazz: Questionable-PG Trey Burke
Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant, , Out-PG Steve Blake, Out-G Xavier Henry, Out-C Pau Gasol, Out-PG Jordan Farmar Out-PG Jodie Meeks, Probable-PG Steve Nash

Keys for Lakers Victory

Feed the Big: The Lakers currently have only 9 healthy players at this current moment. Currently their most productive player, Chris Kaman just scored 27 points vs. a stout Bulls defense led by All-Star C Joakim Noah and PF Taj Gibson. in fact, Kaman actually leads current active Lakers in scoring per 36 minutes, scoring 19.5 PPG in that span. Jazz starting C Derrick Favors is talented, but small, so hopefully the Lakers and coach D’Antoni can take advantage of the mismatch in the post, resulting in more wide-open three-pointers and conserving the legs of Lakers players.

Bottom Line

Regardless of the talks of tanking, the Lakers have to continue to play every game with a lot of effort and execute on both ends of the floor. Most of the players on the floor currently do not play only for the Lakers, but also seek to impress General Managers and Scouts throughout the NBA to receive their next contracts. Despite the pessimism going into this game after losing vs. Bulls, the Lakers should have enough firepower to squeak past the Jazz to gain momentum until they have to play vs. F Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Prediction

Lakers: 103-98

Update: The LA Daily News’ Mark Medina reports that Steve Nash has no plans to retire.

“I work as hard as I can everyday to perform and keep going until I’m not playing anymore,” said Nash. “But right now, I have no intentions to stop playing.”

Head coach Mike D’Antoni also chimed in on Nash’s rumored retirement.

“It’s too early for him,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said about Nash’s possible retirement. “He’ll have to decide that. He’ll feel it in his heart and his head. I’m sure he’s getting good advice. Right now we’re trying to get to the next game and play well.”

According to Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News, Lakers guard Steve Nash has told friends he plans to retire this summer:

“Steve Nash finally made it back to the Lakers and has told a few friends this is going to be it, even though he has one season to go on his contract, at $9.7 million. Nash, who turned 40 Friday, doesn’t expect to help much, but that’s been the story of his injury-plagued Laker career. He really missed the camaraderie with his teammates when he was out for three months with a nerve injury in his back, and says he wants to experience that for at least the last part of this season before he calls it a career.”

Still two months away from the end of the regular season, there are plenty of questions that need to be answered regarding the direction of the Lakers, but Nash’s future may be one of the bigger ones.

While many do not know the true intentions of Nash, it is not unreasonable to think he could call it quits this season.  Nash has one more year remaining on his contract worth $9.7 million.  It is difficult seeing him being able to go through offseason workouts, training camp, the grind of another 82 game season and potentially additional games in the playoffs but being the competitor that he is, Nash is not going to give up without exploring all avenues to continue playing at an elite level.

The 40-year-old point guard has not enjoyed a successful stint with the Lakers. Affected by nerve problems in his left leg, Nash has played in just 59 games over two seasons.  This season, he has played in only nine games before having to come out of Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bulls with nerve irritation.

On Monday, Nash did go through practice with the team which is a good sign, but it is important to keep a close watch on his health over the final 31 games of the season.  The Lakers say that Nash is probable for Tuesday’s game vs the Jazz.

 

 

February 9, 2014 — 12:30 PM (PST)
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: ABC
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Lakers (18-32) play vs. Chicago Bulls (24-25)  in front of national audience broadcast on ABC. They come off a solid victory vs Philadelphia 76ers, 112-98. By the way, the actually allowed less than 100 points for the first time since their January 3rd victory vs. Utah Jazz.

Steve Nash looks back to normal for the time being, playing similar to how he played during his days at Phoenix. Nash definitely showed youth in his steps on his 40th birthday, scoring 19 points and dishing out 5 assists while dissecting the Philadelphia 76ers defense en route to a victory.

Without the services of the Lakers top 3 players, SG Kobe Bryant, C Pau Gasol, and F Nick Young, the duration of Nash playing at a high level seems very uncertain due to nerve issues he has tried to heal for the past year.

The Bulls come into today’s game vs. Lakers currently sitting in 5th place in Eastern Conference despite having a sub .500 record. After superstar PG Derrick Rose tore a meniscus in his knee, sidelining him most likely for the test of this season, and trading all-star SF Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Bulls seek to qualify for the playoffs and to make a run at the top free agents this off-season.

Furthermore, the Bulls will most likely be without the services of F Carlos Boozer today due to a strained left calf.

Without Boozer, All-Star C Joakin Noah will anchor the Bulls today. Noah, who averages 11.7 PPG, 11.0 RPG, and 1.3 BPG, makes his name on the defensive end, being named on the NBA All-Defensive 1st team last season. His athleticism and energy on the defensive end clogs up driving lanes by covering a lot of ground in the paint.

Projected Starters

PG – Steve Nash / Kirk Hinrich [Advantage: Lakers]
SG – Steve Blake / Jimmy Butler [Advantage: Bulls]
SF – Wesley Johnson / Mike Dunleavy [Advantage: Bulls]
PF – Ryan Kelly / Taj Gibson [Advantage: Bulls]
C – Robert Sacre / Joakim Noah [Advantage: Bulls]

Notable Bench Players

Bulls: G Tony Snell, PG DJ Augustin, C Nazr Mohammed

Lakers: PG Kendall Marshall, C Chris Kaman, F Jordan Hill, F Shawne Williams

Bench Advantage: Even

Injury List

Bulls: Out-G Derrick Rose, Out-F Carlos Boozer

Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant, Out-SG Jodie Meeks, Out-G Xavier Henry, Out-PG Jordan Farmar, Out-G/F Nick Young, Out-C Pau Gasol

Keys for Lakers Victory

Rebounding: The Lakers absolutely have to limit the Bulls to one possession and not allow offensive rebounds in order to have a chance at winning this match up. The Bulls, who averages the NBA’s 6th best 12.1 offensive rebounds per game, used their big man, Noah, Boozer, and 6th man F Taj Gibson to grab 19 offensive rebounds vs. Lakers to win in their last matchup.. This does not suit well at all for the Lakers, who allow the most offensive rebounds in the league by a wide margin at 13.3 offensive rebounds per game. Instead of having the guards leak out after every Bulls shot, all 5 Lakers have to find a Bulls player to box out and then crash the boards to not allow extra unnecessary possessions.

Bottom Line

The Lakers do not match up well vs. the Bulls at all. The Bulls play very physical on both ends of the floor under head coach Tom Thibodeau‘s leadership, especially since they do not possess as much talent compared to previous years. Simply speaking, if the Lakers rebound the ball well, they win. If they don’t, they will not win.

Prediction

Bulls: 104-98

February 4, 2014 — 5:00 PM (PST)
Target Center, Minneapolis, MN
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Lakers (16-31) travel to Minneapolis to play vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (23-24) to start their 3-game road trip.

The good news?

All 3 point guards for the Lakers return tonight. Steve NashSteve Blake and Jordan Farmar will all return to the floor tonight. As this season has plummeted downhill for this team, having multiple players return from their various injuries might give their team a jolt of energy.

With the return of the three point guards, there is uncertainty about how PG Kendall Marshall will be used tonight. Despite a dismal January as a team, Marshall has played very well, scoring 10.5 PPG and dishing out 9.6 APG but has been replaced in the lineup by all 3 point guards. While outrage might occur if he does not play tonight, anything head coach Mike D’Antoni does with his rotation should not surprise Laker Nation.

The bad news?

C Pau Gasol will miss the road trip due to a bruised groin. Gasol, who has once again found himself in trade talks again, played spectacularly well throughout January, averaging 20.8 PPG and 11.9 RPG. He clearly labored up and down the court the last 2 games, so hopefully rest and recovery will get him back on the court soon.

Local UCLA product and all-star starter PF Kevin Love has dominated this season for the Timberwolves. Love has scored 25.5 PPG and grabbed 13.1 RPG. He can shoot from the perimeter while dominating in the low post at the same time, causing match up nightmares for anyone who guards him.

Projected Starters

PG - Steve Nash / Ricky Rubio [Advantage: Timberwolves]
SG - Steve Blake / Kevin Martin [Advantage: Timberwolves]
SF - Jodie Meeks / Corey Brewer [Advantage: Timberwolves]
PF - Ryan Kelly / Kevin Love [Advantage: Timberwolves]
C - Robert Sacre / Ronny Turiaf [Advantage: Lakers]

Notable Bench Players

Timberwolves: F Dante Cunningham, G Alexey SchvedG JJ Barea, Chase Budinger

Lakers: Nick YoungG Jordan Farmar, F Jordan Hill,  PG Kendall Marshall

Bench Advantage: Lakers

Injury List

Timberwolves: Out-C Nikola Pekovic

Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant, Out-C Pau Gasol, Out-G Xavier Henry

Keys for Lakers Victory

Play Defense: Allowing 100 or more points in 19 out of the last 21 games will not win any team any games regardless of how proficient their offense is. Maybe having all their point guards return will help the Lakers exert more effort on defense. However, that seems very unlikely.

Bottom Line

The Lakers currently have a 7 game losing streak. Having their point guards all return tonight will help. However, the likelihood they will help solve their defensive rebounding and defensive issues seem very slim to none.

Prediction

Timberwolves: 114-103

Back from injury, Steve Nash and Steve Blake will both return to the starting lineup tonight vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Nash will be on a minutes restriction according to coach Mike D’Antoni. The plan is for Nash to play 5-8 minutes in the first quarter then not play again until the third quarter where he will play another 5-8 minutes.

Nash will not play on the second of a back-to-back versus the Cleveland Cavaliers tomorrow night.

It is unclear whether Blake will be on a minutes restriction as well, but he will start alongside Nash. Jodie Meeks will be the third guard in the starting lineup tonight which gives the Lakers a small lineup as all three players are 6’4 and under. Robert Sacre and Ryan Kelly get the start in the front court.

If you are wondering about Chris Kaman, D’Antoni says he “will play a lot of minutes” off the bench.

As for Jordan Farmar, D’Antoni says he will suit up and could play limited minutes.  The plan for Farmar is to get Nash’s minutes tomorrow night so they are hoping to save him for one more day.

The question now is what happens to Kendall Marshall? Averaging 10.5 points and 9.6 assists, the young point guard has definitely earned his minutes on the team but with Nash, Blake, and Farmar returning, will his minutes decrease dramatically?  We will have a good idea of that over the next few games.

Are you happy with the changes being made to the Lakers lineup?

 

Some good news came out of the Lakers’ practice facility today where Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar, and Steve Nash all participated in Monday’s practice and may suit up for tomorrow’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

If Nash suits up tomorrow, it will be only his seventh game of the season. Nash sat out in early November with nerve root irritation that lingered from last year’s fractured leg injury and has spent the last 3 months trying to get back into basketball shape, Blake suffered a torn ligament in his right elbow in early December, and Farmar suffered a torn hamstring in December, which he re-tore in early January.

Prior to their injuries, Nash was averaging 6.7 points and 4.8 assists a game, Blake averaged 9.8 points and 7.7 assists a game, and Farmer was averaging 8.7 points, 4.7 assists.

In other injury-related news, Pau Gasol (strained groin) will not travel with the team on the upcoming 3-game road trip; Kobe Bryant (fractured knee) is also not expected to make the trip where the Lakers will visit Minnesota, Cleveland, and Philadelphia.

January 31, 2014 — 7:30 PM (PST)
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

Rumors of potential future Laker superstars, a Laker legend’s criticism of Lakers management, and even coaching rumors have become hot topics in the last few days in Lakerland.

However, the Lakers (16-30) face off vs Charlotte Bobcats (20-37), who find themselves in the 8th seed by accident in a terrible Eastern Conference.

All three point guards, Steve Nash, Steve Blake, and Jordan Farmar, participated in practice for the first time in months due to their various injuries. The Lakers only true ball handler for the entire month January has been PG Kendall Marshall, who got signed by the Lakers from the D-League in December.

Those three point guards will not play tonight, but all seek to return simultaneously next Tuesday, which will cause a logjam at point guard.

Meanwhile, the Charlotte Bobcats have players who can cause a lot of problems for the Lakers again, especially on the defensive end. C Al Jefferson leads the Bobcats team who has shown signs of improvement this season despite a subpar record. Jefferson bring a veteran big man presence to a team that has been lacking a highly skilled big man for years, averaging 19.3 PPG and 10.5 RPG, which could have arguably got him into this year’s all-star game.

PG Kemba Walker, who scored 24 points vs Lakers in their last meeting, will not play tonight as he continues to recover from suffering a sprained ankle a few weeks ago.

To close out the 4th quarter, we expect to see former Laker PG Ramon Sessions and SG Gerald Henderson to close out the game in back court, which hopefully would not cause the Lakers defense as much turmoil as any of the Lakers’ opponents this month.

Projected Starters

PG - Kendall Marshall / Ramon Sessions [Advantage: Even]
SG - Jodie Meeks / Gerald Henderson [Advantage: Bobcats]
SF - Wesley Johnson / Michael Kidd-Gilchrist [Advantage: Bobcats]
PF - Ryan Kelly / Josh McRoberts [Advantage: Even]
C - Pau Gasol / Al Jefferson [Advantage: Lakers]

Notable Bench Players

Bobcats: F Bismack BiyomboF Cody ZellerG Chris Douglas-Roberts, Anthony Tolliver

Lakers: Nick YoungG Manny Harris, F Jordan Hill

Bench Advantage: Lakers

Injury List

Bobcats: Out-G Jeff Taylor, Out-G Kemba Walker, Out-C Brendan Haywood, GTD-G Ben Gordon

Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant, Out-PG Steve Nash, Out-PG Steve Blake, Out-G Xavier Henry, Out-PG Jordan Farmar

Keys for Lakers Victory

Defense: The Lakers have scored more than 100 points 11 times in the last 20 games, a very respectable number.

The problem?

The Lakers have allowed 100 or more points in 18 out of the last 20 games.

The result?

The Lakers have a 3-17 record in their last 20 games, which puts them near the bottom of the standings. Mike D’Antoni needs to try different lineups to see if anything would work. Maybe inserting C Chris Kaman into the game might help alleviate some defensive deficiencies.

Bottom Line

The Lakers will not win any games consistently playing one of the worst defense in NBA history. If the keep the Bobcats under 100, they win. If not, chances are they will increase their losing streak to 6 games.

Prediction

Lakers: 107-103

The older you get the harder it is to get out of bed some days. You may feel like laying there and enjoying a day of rest and relaxation, or you may feel too sore to get up just yet.

Steve Nash re-injured himself by tweaking his back while getting out of bed Monday morning (via Eric Pincus of the LA Times). This caused him to miss practice Monday and the Pacers game Tuesday.

“I’m fine,” said Nash later in the day.

Nash had been targeting the Indiana match up as the game he would return for. Now that game may instead be next Tuesday’s match up against the Minnesota Timberwolves, as long as his back holds up well at Thursday’s practice. Maybe getting up Thursday morning too.

“I have no idea what’s going to happen, but I’ve done all the work and I feel ready to practice again,” said Nash, who has been rehabilitating away from the team in Vancouver, Canada. “I’m really excited, just to be part of the team again.”

Despite Friday’s game originally being a possibility, Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding and OC Register’s Janis Carr report that Nash is not planning to play against the Charlotte Bobcats.

“Nash also said that he isn’t playing Friday vs. Charlotte, ‘I havent practiced in 2 1/2 months.’ Thinks Tuesday might be a possibility.”

Nash has played in six games this season, his last being on November 10th against the  Timberwolves. Since then, many have speculated that Nash may have to retire if this latest comeback attempt does not go well. With Nash being the oldest player in the NBA, and playing arguably the most important position, he will have to be ready physically to endure his nightly match-ups.

For Nash, and the already struggling Lakers defense, it would only mean easier opportunities for opponents if Nash cannot move well enough to guard anyone.

While I have confidence that Nash will make the best playing decision possible, I do hope that he is ready for the long haul. This season, if nothing else, has and will continue to be a marathon until the end. 

Magic Johnson might have sold his share of the Lakers franchise a little over three years ago, but he still likes to share his opinion when it comes to his old team.

According to Mike James of the LA Times, during a meeting with Dodgers officials and media members, Johnson gave his two cents:

“This is what happens when you make the wrong decisions, two coaching wrong decisions, giving Steve Nash that deal, it’s backfired,”

“The biggest problem they’re going to have right now…you’ve got to get a guy like Jerry West to be the face of the team…you’ve got to have someone helping Jim. He’s got to quit trying to prove a point to everybody that he can do it on his own, get his ego out of it, and just say, ‘Let me get someone beside me to help achieve the goals I want.’ Dr. Buss was smart, he said, ‘I’m going to get the best dude, Jerry West, and he helped me achieve my goals. Then I went and got the best coach [Phil Jackson].’ He wanted to work with the best.”

Jerry West is currently a consultant for the Golden State Warriors, but Lakers fans may be asking themselves, ‘what about Jim’s General Manager, Mitch Kupchak?’

“Mitch is great,” Johnson said, “but he doesn’t have the power…you need to get someone like Jerry to be the face, so agents are comfortable, players are comfortable, knowing the Lakers are going for a championship…look what Pat Riley did in Miami…if Pat Riley’s not there, you don’t get LeBron to buy in.”

Johnson also lamented the idea that free agents haven’t been pining to come to the Lakers like they used to.

“Everybody’s telling me free agents don’t want to sign [with the Lakers]…they’re looking at the Lakers now as a team that’s dysfunctional; who’s their leader, who’s the guy?”

Johnson brings up a very good point. The Lakers used to bring in talent easily because they had the resources to attract the star power. What Magic fails to realize is that there is a new CBA in place and things just aren’t the same as they used to be. Especially not for the Purple and Gold.

Johnson also seems to be back tracking from his thoughts of Jim Buss after the Lakers landed Nash and Dwight Howard last summer.

“I love it. Jim, you look like your father; I’m proud of you. He’s definitely the guy now to win the NBA executive-of-the-year award.”

Flip. Flop.

Courtesy of Lakers reporter Mike Trudell, an interview with Mitch Kupchak went online this morning on Lakers.com.

Kupchak provided some insight on the current state of the Lakers as well as the future of the team.

On the Lakers “tanking”:

“I’ve been here over 30 years, and it’s never something that’s been discussed or talked about.”

Kupchak noted that while expectations vary from season to season, the main goal is to win games.  Kupchak put it best when saying that ownership would never say, “It’s best to lose” and that it is the worst message you can send to a franchise, coaches, players, and it’s fans.

Although, he added that there are some teams that know realistically they will be a sub-.500 team, but it’s important to realize that is different from tanking which he defined as purposely telling the coach to lose, which is “unacceptable”.  Kupchak also said “rebuilding is another matter.”

Something to note, Kupchak said “coaches are defined by their record.”  Very interesting to say the least.

On the repeater tax penalty impacting roster decisions this year and in the future:

“You have to be out of the luxury tax in two out of five years to avoid a repeater penalty. If we stay in the tax this season, it will be three consecutive seasons as taxpayers.”

It’s important to note that Kupchak says ownership has NEVER been afraid to be in the tax.  He then goes on to explain the rules of the tax, saying if your $30 million over the tax as a repeater, the bill will around $130 million, while if you’re only $1 million over, it will be near $2.5 million so it definitely makes a difference.

On the upcoming draft:

“One through ten is as good as I’ve seen in a long time.”

When comparing it to the 2003 draft, which included LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwayne Wade, he says that going into that draft, no one knew it would be that good but when you look back on it, it was a great draft.  He says that he doesn’t know if this draft will be that way, but the potential of players one through 10 is very good.

He says they are scouting all players in the draft and groups them in the top five, top 10, etc. all the way up to 70.  Once May/June come around, Kupchak says they will narrow their focus on particular players because they will know their draft position at that time.

On the 2014 free agency plan:

“Several years ago, we made a conscious decision to line contracts up for this coming year of free agency.”

 The only payer on the books for next year was Steve Nash, which obviously changed with the extension of Kobe Bryant but says they will still have “significant” financial flexibility this summer, as well as next summer.

On the Lakers’ next star:

Kupchak says that in meetings with the front office and scouts, they will talk about if they got a certain players just like the public and fans do.   While it’s all speculation at that point, the only thing they know for certain is that the rush starts at 9 p.m. on June 30th for free agency.

On Kobe Bryant’s extension:

“One of the premier free agents this coming summer was going to be Kobe Bryant. He’ll no longer be a free agent. We have acquired him.”

He notes that when looking at free agency this summer, they will look at what’s the best basketball and business decisions.

Also, Kupchak says that they will not only look at free agency, but at adding players through trades, while also weighing the option of waiting another year for a big acquisition.

On Pau Gasol’s status and future in Los Angeles:

“I think he’s had a great year. I do.”

Also goes on to say that Gasol is playing some of his best basketball and that he probably did not expect to play with the current group of players due to injuries.   Under the circumstances, he thinks Gasol has done a great job.

As for Gasol’s future, Kupchak notes that he will be a free agent this year and that he sees no reason he can’t finish the season as a Laker.   Says that he’ll have options to move on to other teams and that years/money will be a factor in his decision.  Kupchak adds that he loves Los Angeles and the franchise and if he wants to continue to play here, the Lakers would love to have him.

The interview is a must-read for all Lakers fans.  There is more from Kupchak regarding role players such as Xavier Henry, Kendall Marshall, and Nick Young, plus more on Gasol being an asset for other teams in the league.

To read the full interview, click here.

Photo courtesy of Andrew D. Bernstein, Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Andrew D. Bernstein, Getty Images

When things could not get any worse for the Lakers in their battle with the injury bug, it unfortunately has gotten worse today.

Not only did we find out that SG Kobe Bryant has a fractured lateral tibial plateau in his left knee, but we also learned that PG Steve Nash will be out for another month in order to fully recover from a nerve root irritation in his back.

According to the LA Times’ Eric Pincus, Nash is starting to show signs of discouragement, despite working as hard as possible to physically become healthy enough to play.

“Hopefully that’s a really good timeline where I can get healthy and put my back in a position where it can protect itself and survive,” Nash said regarding his probable return period. ”This has really been something I’ve faced since the end of March. The toughest thing has been emotionally and mentally.  I’ve had a lot of down days.”

Along with Nash and Bryant, the two other Lakers’ point guards PG Steve Blake and PG Jordan Farmar are still out for the foreseeable future due to their respective injuries. The Lakers did sign PG Kendall Marshall today to a non-guaranteed contract to back up G Xavier Henry at the point gaurd position.

Nash has been limited to only 6 games this season, averaging 6.7 PPG and 2.8 APG in 22.5 MPG. For Nash and the Lakers, it has been very unfortunate since Nash suffered the freak leg fracture in their 2nd regular season game last season.

Hopefully Nash will make a full recovery and return to his old form, or some resemblance of it. His excellent work ethic and pride still gets him through the rehabilitation process.

However, due to the nerve issue and his age, it seems less and less likely that he can return to his old form as each day passes this season.

Kobe Bryant

Source: Danny Moloshok / Reuters

December 10, 2013 — 7:30 PM (PST)
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Los Angeles Lakers (10-10) look to bounce back tonight against the Phoenix Suns (11-9) after a very disappointing loss vs. Toronto Raptors on Sunday. Lakers G Kobe Bryant, who made his season debut on Sunday after tearing his left achilles on April 12th game vs. Golden State Warriors, showed a lot of rust especially with his executing his passes as expected. Bryant scored a pedestrian 9 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, while committing 8 turnovers. Lakers fans however should be very patient with Bryant and let him play his way to return to his old form and develop an on-court chemistry with the rest of the Lakers, many of whom have never played with Bryant before Sunday’s game. Although the Lakers will struggle as a team the next few weeks to get Kobe in rhythm with the rest of the Lakers, any team with Bryant on the floor will be better off in the long run.

The Phoenix Suns, on the other hand, look to come into Staples Center after 3 days off and come away with a victory tonight. The Suns are led by the point guard duo of PG Goran Dragic and PG Eric Bledsoe. Dragic has performed very well replacing PG Steve Nash to run the show, averaging 17.7 PPG and 6.4 APG. Bledsoe clearly benefited from PG Chris Paul‘s tutelage during his Los Angeles Clippers days, bringing hope for the Suns franchise moving forward. Bledsoe has eerily similar numbers to Dragic, averaging 18.6 PPG and 6.0 APG, while causing havoc on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor.

Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni has decided to shuffle the starting lineup again to help Bryant on the defensive end so he would not have to guard quick guards like Bledsoe and Dragic tonight. SG Jodie Meeks will replace F Wes Johnson in the lineup to provide a quicker player on defense and F Shawne Williams will replace C Robert Sacre to help spread the floor out and match-up with Suns F Channing Frye.

Projected Starters

PG - Goran Dragic Steve Blake [Advantage: Suns]

SG - Eric Bledsoe / Jodie Meeks [Advantage: Suns]

SF - PJ TuckerKobe Bryant [Advantage: Lakers]

PF - Channing Frye / Shawne Williams [Advantage: Suns]

C - Miles Plumlee / Pau Gasol [Advantage: Lakers]

Notable Bench Players

Suns: G Gerald Green, F Markieff Morris, C Marcus Morris

Lakers: G Xavier Henry, G/F Nick Young, G/F Wesley Johnson, C/F Jordan Hill

X-Factors

Suns: G Gerald Green - who joined the Suns this season after a solid season coming off the bench for the Indiana Pacers, could cause the Lakers a lot of problems tonight. Arguably one of the most athletic players in the NBA, Green definitely helps the Suns run-and-gun style of play with his high flying dunking skills. Although Green has played for the Suns this season scoring at a career high 13.9 PPG, Green has struggled lately, shooting only 6-25 in his last three games. If Green can somewhat offset the points difference the Suns and the Lakers bench, the Suns will be in great shape to win tonight’s game.

Lakers: C Pau Gasol - While the Lakers coaching staff expected Bryant to struggle in his season debut, Bryant did not struggle as much as Gasol vs. Raptors. Gasol, whose sore ankle has clearly affected his mobility on the floor, had another dissappointing game on Sunday, scoring only 11 points on 3-11 shooting, while contributing a lot to Raptors C Amir Johnson‘s career high of 32 points. For the Lakers to have any chance in tonight’s game, Gasol has to play well to offset the Suns backcourt speed. If Gasol lets his sore ankle affect his production as significantly as Sunday’s game, the Suns will make tonight’s game a track meet, which will cause major problems for both Gasol and Bryant.

Bottom Line

As Bryant gets back into regular season form, expect to continue to see a lot of timing issues on the floor as Bryant and the rest of the Lakers learn how to play with each other and communicate more effectively. For the Lakers to have any chance to win tonight’s game, the Lakers bench, who has outscored their opponent’s bench in all but 2 games and lead the NBA in scoring at 48.1 PPG, has to outscore the Suns bench by a significant margin.

Prediction

Suns: 108-96

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