Sunday, December 18, 2011


For the L.A. Lakers, the preseason period’s usually commemorated by the pickup of a veteran player or two, and whatever flour scrapings can be scavenged from the second-round draft barrel. This is part and parcel of being a winning franchise that’s loaded with pricey players and deep into the luxury tax. On rare occasion, Mitch is able to pull the trigger on a monster stealth-trade, such as the Kwame for Pau extravaganza of a few seasons back. And then there’s the sabotaged CP3 triptych, along with Lamar’s subsequent exit.

A heist in broad daylight tends to get the neighbors worked up and that’s where we find ourselves, a week before regular season. No Chris Paul, no Dwight Howard and no Lamar Odom. Slalom through any Lakers blog and you’ll find ramped-up trade and free-agent speculation - “we want some, we want some!” Getting short shrift is the fact that we’ve managed to pick up some decent half-off clearance items. Any other year and it would cause for celebration.

Troy Murphy’s been a legitimate starter during his time in the league, usually averaging double-doubles, rebounding and knocking them down from distance. Last season was the exception to the rule - an 11 point-per-game free fall. Murphy was one of the centerpieces in a splashy four-way trade, went to New Jersey, hurt his back and got traded to Golden State where he began his career. The Warriors only wanted a ledger figure - they bought him out, four days later. Murphy wound up as a Celtics insurance policy - from starter to nothing in a matter of months. He’s a steal for the Lakers at veteran minimum.

Jason Kapono shoots the ball. That’s his job. He won the All-Star 3-point contest twice. He doesn’t do much else but there’s always a special place in the league for those who can park in the shade and let it fly. That place is usually the bench for about 40 minutes of game until they’re rushed in at some crucial juncture and instructed to do what it is that they do. I’d written a piece complaining about the utter lack of depth in our front court - the thing had been posted for a day when I remembered we now have Kapono. In truth, he belongs to no position, he’s simply a 6-8, aerial bender.

Josh McRoberts is a former teammate of Troy Murphy's (Indiana). "McBobs" has size and is more than a litte athletic. Click on the link for a ridiculous reverse “dunk of the night”.  With ups like this, he may soon be known as "Shannon, who?"  Of these most recent acquisitions, McRoberts might have the most upside - he’s still young, has some all-around game and could be a versatile backup for Andrew and Pau. The former Blue Devil wound up starting 51 games for the Pacers last season – his 4th in the league. More cogent analysis can be had here.

Losing Lamar Odom was an emotional hit for most fans, exacerbated by the prolonged lockout. It shouldn’t be such a stunner though - he'd been as visibly ‘on the block’ as a player can get - one of the main components in the failed Chris Paul trade. The signs had long been there, Mike Brown said notably little about Odom after landing the coveted Lakers’ head coaching job. Still, it was the way in which he was shown the door that caused such a stink. Believe me, if the CP3 trade had held, we would have tossed Odom a big stupid grin and best wishes wherever.

The current ambivalence to our modest signings has as much to do with surroundings and expectations, as it does the players themselves. If Phil Jackson was still here, there would have been much wise nodding of heads - Phil signs role players, it’s what he does. Except, he’s gone. There’s a different perspective now. The new coach has no rings, Jim Buss is a loose cannon, the season’s shortened, the sky’s falling, we need another star.

And as fans go tilting furiously with the news that Baron’s joined the Knicks, bear this in mind - we picked up three front-court guys for very little money. Phil would have figured out what to do with at least one of them. Let’s see what Brown can do.

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