<
>

Lester, Goudelock show the real damage is behind the scenes

The lockout will bring plenty of face time for David Stern, too much footage of Derek Fisher in a business suit, and periodic comment from the league's elite. But while they might be among the stars in the drama, those behind the scenes bear the brunt of the pain. ESPNLA's Ramona Shelburne illustrates the point in her feature on former Lakers assistant general manager Ronnie Lester, whose 24-year tenure with the team as a player, scout, and exec will come to an end at the end of the month. He is one of over 20 Lakers employees-- scouts, training staff, equipment and video guys, and so on-- whose contracts were (or in Lester's case, likely will be) allowed to end heading into the lockout.

Lester laments what he feels is a poor level of communication toward those whose contracts have expired. "Obviously the Lakers don't want these guys back, don't want the scouts back, or they would've said something in that regard," he told Shelburne. "So I don't think anybody is coming back. They've not treated people well in that regard."

Lakers officials have emphasized they tried to prepare people, and whether they were successful is a discussion for another day. I presume the organization doesn't relish the quasi-layoffs, but understand why they wouldn't want to pay support staff during a lockout when there is virtually nothing for most of them to do. Collectively, it's a lot of money.

The story, though, touches on something happening not just with the Lakers but across the NBA, highlighting real and profound costs of a work stoppage often framed as an argument between the wealthy and super-wealthy. A lot of good people, many with "regular guy" salaries, are the first to feel the impact. It's all very unfortunate.

On the other side, some players are thrown into a deeper state of limbo than others. Drew Goudelock, taken by the Lakers with the 46th pick in this year's draft with no guarantee of making the team, now loses the structure and support normally afforded rookies. No Summer League, no access to the facility, no contact with coaches to learn the playbook. Darius Morris, L.A.'s first second round pick, and other draftees are in the same boat. (Players who have scraped their way to a tenuous NBA career, hanging on to the back end of rotations and rosters suffer as well.)

We spoke with Goudelock Saturday on ESPNLA On Air, not just about his feelings on being drafted by the Lakers and his strengths and weaknesses, but how the lockout impacts efforts to get himself to the NBA. "It's tough for me because I don't get to be in a summer league, and be able to show myself, and showcase my talents during the summer session," he said. "But it's my job to stay in shape, keep playing, and get ready for when it's over."

Goudelock is back in Charleston finishing his degree, says he'll play in some pro-am games, and lean on a network of fellow rookies and NBA players he knows to work out, improve his body and his game. He seems like a motivated kid who will put in the time, but no question Goudelock's chances of sticking with the Lakers in the fall (#optimism) are hurt by the labor situation.