Tag: Los Angeles Lakers

Carlos Boozer

Report: Carlos Boozer to wait out NBA market, not head overseas


There have been reports that Carlos Boozer would consider playing in China if an NBA contract didn’t come around.

It’s almost the end of August and Boozer is still a free agent. So is he going to head West from Los Angeles?

Nope. Not according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Boozer has a place in the NBA, but that role is shrinking.

He can help a team on offense — he averaged 11.8 points while shooting 49.9 percent, and grabbing 6.8 rebounds a game last season for the Lakers. His PER of 16.8 is above the league average. He has value as a scoring big off the bench who can run the pick-and-pop.

But his defense is a mess, and that scares teams off. While it’s always trendy to say, “NBA players don’t play defense” that usually comes from people who don’t know the game or don’t follow the NBA closely. Defense in the league is still up and down, but it’s improved over even a decade ago. (Go watch some regular season games from the ’80s and tell me about defensive effort.) Boozer hurts teams on that end.

That said, Boozer is making the right play here. Some team will go into training camp and either suffer an injury to a big man, or realize the guys they have aren’t as good as they thought, and Boozer’s phone will ring. He’s flawed but a solid NBA veteran you can bring in and know what you will get. The man can still put up points.

If he’s patient, his time will come. And apparently he’d rather be patient than play in China.

Jim Buss heaps praise, hope on young Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers Draft Picks Press Conference

The big Laker story line this season revolves around Kobe Bryant — will he or won’t he?

The more important story line to the future of the Lakers is the development of their three young stars — D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, and Julius Randle.

Lakers co-owner Jim Buss spoke to the Los Angeles Times about all things Lakers — Buss is trying to raise his profile and grow his positive numbers among Lakers fans, but that’s another story — and he heaped praise on their three young stars. That starts with Russell — the Lakers didn’t take big man Jahlil Okafor and instead bet on the point guard out of Ohio State with the highest draft pick the Lakers organization has had since it selected James Worthy.

“We’ve got high aspirations for him,” Buss said. “We normally look to get bigs, but [Russell] was just that impressive, that we just didn’t feel right passing up on him.

“My enthusiasm for D’Angelo Russell, I have to curb it because I’m so excited about it. He could be anything in this league.”

The Lakers are very high on Russell — in a point guard driven league they see him growing into one of the elites. They are high on his potential and chose that over Okafor, who may not have the higher ceiling (that’s up for debate) but certainly has the higher floor. The Lakers rolled the dice that Russell is special.

As for Clarkson and Randle:

“(Randle is) a beast. He’s been working out with some ex-NBA players and handling himself very well. He’s super strong, very fit,” Buss said…

“Watching Jordan Clarkson develop [this summer], he’s followed that same path, how he got better and better every game,” Buss said.

Watching the three Lakers at Summer League, each of them showed moments of promise and lots of room for improvement — like all young players. Clarkson put up big numbers in Las Vegas but dominated the ball and didn’t work as well off it. Randle understandably looked rusty at times, showed that physicality and athleticism at other times, but worked too much in a straight line and needs more moves. Russell had a rough start to the Summer League as the game just seemed to move too fast, and he tried to do too much. But that’s Summer League, it is a place for development, what matters is how they grow as players from these early points.

The question is, do the Lakers have the infrastructure to develop these players? Is Byron Scott the coach to do that?

That is the story line that matters most for the Lakers next season, while we all talk about Kobe.

Jim Buss open to the idea of Kobe Bryant playing beyond this season

Kobe Bryant

Around the NBA, and certainly within the Lakers organization, the assumption is that this season will be Kobe Bryant’s last. He’s 37, going into year 20, the final season of a giant contract, and he’s had his last three seasons cut short due to major injuries. He hasn’t come out and said that he’s done after this year, but he’s hinted at it, and Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has said the Lakers are approaching the season as if this will be their last with the future Hall of Famer.

Not so fast, says Lakers part-owner and executive vice president Jim Buss. In a new interview with the Los Angeles Times‘ Eric Pincus, Buss says he’s very much open to the idea of Bryant sticking around beyond this year, if that’s what he wants to do:

On Thursday Jim Buss, part-owner and executive vice president of basketball operations, spoke to The Times about the upcoming season, the team’s draft picks, his rebuilding plan — and what could be the final season of Bryant’s career.

“We’re going to approach it like it is, but that doesn’t mean it is,” Buss said of Bryant. “I’m not going to sit there and say, ‘This is it, Kobe, you’re done,’ because it’s not my decision, it’s his decision.”

Buss has received plenty of criticism for over-investing in the aging star, who just turned 37 as he heads into his 20th season.

“The man has done so much for the Lakers and the fans of the Laker nation, he deserves the money,” Buss said. “I don’t understand anybody trying to break down what I did for him. Let’s break down what he did for us, then say, what is he worth? To me, he’s worth that.”

So is this Bryant’s final year with the team? “My arms are like this,” Buss said, holding his arms wide open, about Bryant’s future.

“He just has to know, at that age, and that many miles on you, what is your role? We’ll explain the role, and if he still wants to do that and that’s how he wants to go out, that’s fine with me.”

Bryant has said he doesn’t want a Derek Jeter-esque farewell tour, and this talk is certainly leaving the door open for him to play in the future if he wants. Still, for Bryant to play for the Lakers beyond this year, a few things would have to happen. He’d have to be willing to take less money, which he’s been vocally against doing in the past. No matter what he’s done for the team over the last 20 years, they’re starting to get serious about a rebuild, and giving him another contract worth $20-plus million per season would defeat the purpose, even with the salary cap exploding.

He’d also have to agree to either come off the bench or accept a limited role. The Lakers drafted D’Angelo Russell with the No. 2 overall pick in June, with the idea being that he’s Kobe’s eventual replacement as the Lakers’ primary scorer. He won’t be able to assume that role or develop the way they want him to if Bryant is still taking 20 shots a game like he did last season.

Most crucially, Bryant will have to finish the season healthy, something he hasn’t done in three years. He had surgery on a torn Achilles in 2013, then re-injured the same leg in 2014, and had surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff last season. At his age, with three serious injuries in three years, the idea of him playing another season is absurd if he doesn’t stay on the floor for this one.

So, yes, there’s still a possibility that Bryant will play beyond this year. That possibility will be there until he officially announces that he’s hanging it up. But the smart money is still on this being his final year, whether it’s his choice or not.

Kobe, Shaq discuss regrets over feud that ended their Lakers era

Los Angeles Lakers' center Shaquille O'Neal (L) la

The Shaq/Kobe era of the Lakers — particularly the demise of that era — is the stuff of legend. It was two massive egos, and the third massive ego — Phil Jackson — could only keep them on the same page for so long.

Shaquille O’Neal owned the locker room — the veterans sided with him, which meant Jackson had to side with him. Kobe Bryant was dynamic, driven, combative, and even by Shaq’s own admission later the best player in the league. They three-peated as NBA champions despite the fact the two stars simply didn’t like each other. When things started to spin out of control in the 2003-04 season, it quickly became a tornado that ripped through the franchise.

Kobe is going on The Big Podcast with Shaq, which will be released on Monday, but the clips let out on Wednesday showed two more mature men who look back at their youth with some regret. This quote from Kobe summed it up best (hat tip Bleacher Report):

Here’s the thing though, when you say it at the time you actually mean it and then when you get older you have more perspective and you’re like holy s—t, I was an idiot when I was a kid. To me, the most important thing was really just keep your mouth shut. You don’t need to go to the press with stuff. You keep it internal and we have our arguments and our disagreements, but I think having our debates within the press was something I wish would’ve been avoided, but it did kind of create this whirlwind around us as a team with myself and Shaq and the press and the media that just put so much pressure on us as an organization.

I think a lot of us have some regrets about how we treated people when we were younger and more reckless. It’s just few people have done it on such a big stage in such a public way. For those of us who love the drama of the NBA, it wouldn’t have been the same without that era.

Here are some other segments from the podcast.

PBT’s Fast Break news & notes: First black player in NBA deserves a stamp

Miami Heat v Atlanta Hawks

Welcome to PBT’s lightning round. Every day we come across some stories that just don’t warrant a full post (even this time of year, when we’re scrape the bottom of the barrel for content) but should be passed along, and we do so in the traditional blog method of bullet points.

• There’s an effort to get Earl Lloyd, the first black player in the NBA, on a stamp. That seems a very good cause to me.

Fantastic story from Gary Washburn about Second Spectrum, one of the premiere NBA analytics companies breaking down that Sports VU camera data. The challenge for teams now is how to pull out the usefull data, put it together, and use it, from the crazy amounts of it they get from the camera system.

• Here’s another great piece, a Q&A, on Second Spectrum. Seth Partnow is a must-read NBA guy.

• The other place the use of analytics is exploding? Keeping players healthy.

• Along those lines, interesting story on the day-to-day life of an NBA trainer. It’s not all the glorious job of taping up grown men’s ankles.

• Another must-read piece from my man Arash Markazi of ESPN (NDHS!) — the impact of Huricane Katrina on Chris Paul and the trajectory of the NBA is several cities.

• Former NBA player, and before that Syracuse star, Pearl Washington is about to undergo brain surgery.

Great breakdown at Basketball Insiders of where things stand with every player eligible for an extension of their rookie contract this summer.

• Hawks big man Al Horford has been working out at times with Mike Scott, who was arrested on drug charges. Horford says the team stands behind him.

• Blake Griffin doing some basketball tricks:

• Steve Nash is going to produce a documentary on the use of Ecstacy and the Rave scene in and around Dallas. No, not from memory.

• Speaking of Nash, he is very high on Lakers’ second-year player Jordan Clarkson. In his rookie year, Clarkson looked like a guy who could develop into a starting NBA point guard. Now we’ll see if he can play next to D’Angelo Russell.

• The Suns have hired Chris Jent to coach their D-League affiliate in Bakersfield.

• The Heat are bringing Corey Hawkins to training camp, one of the better shooters in college last season. He’s camp fodder.

• Finally, easily the funniest tweet of the week.