Los Angeles Lakers: Ramona Shelburne

Latest on what Lakers will do with Dwight

June, 17, 2013
By Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne

When word began to circulate Saturday that the Clippers have weighed offering Blake Griffin and Eric Bledsoe to their Staples Center co-tenants for Dwight Howard in a potential sign-and-trade swap after July 1, that naturally made folks wonder where the Lakers stand in their quest to re-sign Howard when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

Here's the latest:

• The Lakers have had several discussions with Howard's representatives over the past few weeks and remain confident that they will ultimately keep him with the franchise, even as he's made it clear he will entertain other suitors.

• Yet the Lakers also, according to sources, have not completely ruled out the idea of a sign-and-trade if they come to find next month that Howard is determined to leave. Sources say they are indeed leaning against sign-and-trade scenarios because they'd rather bank the resultant cap space from Howard's departure for the summer of 2014. But sources say they've adopted a keep-all-options-open approach. So they'll at least listen to just about anything.

• One source with knowledge of the Lakers' thinking said Saturday that any suggestion they could not philosophically allow themselves to make a major trade with the Clippers was "overblown." If the Clippers do indeed decide to formally offer Griffin and Bledsoe in a sign-and-trade package for Howard, indications are that it's a proposal the Lakers will certainly not dismiss outright.

• The threat of the James Harden-led Rockets signing Howard away from L.A. is very real to the Lakers, sources said, which means the Lakers will eventually be getting a sign-and-trade pitch from Houston as well. The Rockets will have the cap space to sign Howard outright after the expected shedding of Thomas Robinson's contract, but sources say that the Rockets will certainly attempt to convince the Lakers to take in return Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin in a sign-and-trade deal for Howard, thus theoretically keeping alive the possibility that Houston could preserve its cap space to pursue Chris Paul and possibly pair Howard with Paul.

• Asik is a quality defensive anchor at roughly half Howard's price. And Lin had the greatest success of his career under Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni. But sources maintain that the Lakers' main priority this offseason -- besides re-signing Howard -- is getting their financial house in order. Which is why the overriding expectation persists that L.A. will rebuff sign-and-trade proposals to simply bank the cap space for the summer of 2014 if Howard bolts.

• Should Howard decide to leave the Lakers, sources said, several options have been discussed internally in Lakerland. Among them: The Lakers could simply let him walk, go into the season with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash as their centerpieces -- as they had planned in July 2012 before the trade for Howard materialized -- and focus on slicing into their luxury-tax bill.

The Forum: Who takes the last shot?

September, 11, 2012
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
(I interrupt the typically brief introduction to the newest edition of The Forum for a soapbox moment...)

The NBA, like most sports, has certain constructs held in such reverence it's as if Moses himself came down from Mt. Sinai with a second set of tablets.

Among three of the biggest:

-Thou shalt make it abundantly clear which player has "ownership" of the team.

-Thou shalt not take the court without designating clear-cut first, second, and third options offensively.

-Thou shalt designate a single star player responsible for taking all last-second shots, because that's what stars do.

While there were some technical explanations for the periodic struggles during their first season together (redundancy in playing styles and skill sets being a biggie), and sheer talent nearly won them a title anyway, a preoccupation with satisfying the commandments above were a major drag on the developing partnership between LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in Miami. It didn't need to be that way.

This season, the Lakers will feature four highly skilled offensive players in their starting lineup, and questions of chemistry are foremost in the minds of many. How is all of this going to work?

Not nearly as well as it could, if they get too wrapped up in the stuff above. Only the first -- team "ownership" -- comes with an obvious answer. After 16 seasons, five championships, and a legacy as one of the NBA's dominant players and personalities, it's Kobe Bryant's team. He's too deeply woven into the fabric and identity of the franchise for it to be anything else.

With the other two -- establishing an offensive pecking order and deciding one person (let's be honest, we're talking about Kobe) takes the last shot because that's the way it's supposed to be -- the Lakers have an opportunity to do something most NBA teams can't or won't: To truly maximize the potential of their personnel. On any given night, the Lakers could be led in points by Kobe or Howard, or Steve Nash or Pau Gasol, depending on how a defense behaves. On any given last possession, the Lakers could make themselves incredibly difficult to defend if they don't shrink the playbook down to cocktail napkin size. Any other approach does the opposition a favor.

None of it amounts to a value judgment of the players involved, but a reflection of how much top end skill and smarts are on the roster, and how effective they could be if nobody really cares who gets the credit. Most of the concern around shots and touches is centered on Kobe and Howard, but I don't share it. Call me naive, but particularly with Nash on board spreading the wealth, should things go south ego won't be the reason. The skill sets of L.A.'s Big Four complement each other beautifully, and each is positioned well whether because of disposition (Nash, Gasol) or career arc (Kobe, Howard) to contribute to a winning hoops culture.

(Climbing down from soapbox...)

So all that said, what happens when there are 17 seconds left on the clock, and the Lakers are down by one? That's the question I kick around with Ramona Shelburne on this edition of The Forum.


The Forum: Questions beyond the Big Four

September, 7, 2012
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
We all know the big questions concerning L.A.'s Big Four heading into the 2012-13 season.

In the newest edition of The Forum, ESPNLA's Ramona Shelburne joins me as we break down the smaller-but-still vital issues that, given how evenly matched the Lakers are with Miami and Oklahoma City, could make the difference between disappointment and a parade.


PodKast: The future of the NBA, D.Fish and the "big 3" formula

June, 9, 2012
Kamenetzky By Andy Kamenetzky
With the Finals approaching and questions a'plenty surrounding the Lakers, there's nary a shortage of talking points this young offseason. Along with ESPNLA.com's Ramona Shelburne, we chop up the following:

Play Download

- (2:54): The OKC Thunder pulled off what was the seemingly impossible, reversing a 2-0 Western Conference Finals deficit with four consecutive wins against the San Antonio Spurs, heretofore undefeated in the postseason. And in a nice bit of symbolism, they defeated the Mavs, Lakers and Spurs along the way, and those just happen to be the ONLY teams who've represented the west since 1998. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka are all 23 or younger. Save perhaps luxury tax implications, can anything prevent OKC from becoming a sustained powerhouse, and can the Lakers be a part of that roadblock?

- (6:50): A note to NBA players who dig the no-lens glasses (and we're not judging this fashion trend, just making an observation): If you wanna wear them at the podium, where you'll be filmed from a distance, knock yourself out. But as Dwyane Wade demonstrated after the game 5 loss to OKC, those glasses look ridiculous while filmed in a media scrum from close up. You look like a kid doing a high school play.

- (12:30): However the Lakers retool the roster, they need to make sure the pieces complement each other. Star power alone doesn't guarantee wins. Just ask the Knicks. For that matter, any role players added must be more reliable and compatible as well.

- (16:30): The Lakers' cap issues are very real, and very hard to circumvent.

- (21:50): There are some Lakers fans rooting against the Thunder because they don't want to see Derek Fisher get a sixth ring before Kobe Bryant. Umm... why? Has the "Count the rings!!!" mantra really made us this literal-minded? I understand Mamba fans being prideful/protective of 24's legacy, but I can assure you, his first ballot Hall of Fame resume doesn't become diluted in the slightest by Fish owning one more chip. Trust me on this. I have a blog.

- (25:08): None of us are rooting for the Heat, but if they do happen to win a title, we're hoping a byproduct will be a change in the way fans and media talk about basketball.

- (29:00): If the Heat don't win, will it put an end to the "You must have a Big 3 to compete" narrative of the last couple seasons?

- (32:10): Metta Weatherman Peace!

The Forum: Looking ahead to the offseason

May, 29, 2012
By the Kamenetzky Brothers
The Lakers have a lot of work to do this offseason, facing serious questions about the franchise's direction going forward. Do they give the Kobe Bryant/Andrew Bynum/Pau Gasol core one more try, building up the roster around them with whatever tools available? Or, as they attempted in the failed Chris Paul deal, will the Lakers make major changes?

We preview what is certain to be a fascinating summer with ESPNLA's Ramona Shelburne.

The Forum: Should the Lakers have performed better?

May, 26, 2012
By the Kamenetzky Brothers
With the 2011-12 season in the books, on the newest installment of The Forum we're joined by ESPNLA's Ramona Shelburne, asking whether the Lakers overachieved, underachieved, or landed somewhere in between.


The Forum: How are the Lakers hurt most by a canceled season?

November, 21, 2011
Kamenetzky By Andy Kamenetzky
The 2011-2012 season hasn't been canceled yet, but it's a fate unnervingly realistic at the moment. Were all the games axed, what's the biggest fallout for the Lakers? Along with Ramona Shelburne, we debate the question.

The Forum: The "lawsuit" era of the lockout

November, 17, 2011
By The Kamenetzky Brothers
In the latest chapter of the NBA lockout, the Players Union has disbanded and anti-trust suits have been filed. Will these tactics prompt negotiations in better faith from the owners or dragged out court battles that guarantee a canceled season? Along with Ramona Shelburne, we discuss the newest developments.

The Triangle: What if the new CBA brings "Capmaggedon?"

August, 22, 2011
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
If the owners have their way, the new CBA is unlikely to bring much good news for the Lakers, and as I noted last week, in such a scenario the Lakers need to do everything they can to maximize their chances of winning before hard cap provisions kick in. (If there's a salary can to kick down the road, get to kickin'!) In the newest installment of The Triangle, ESPNLA's Ramona Shelburne and 710 ESPN's Mark Willard join in to expand the conversation.

Among the topics of conversation:
  1. How should the Lakers prepare for a potential "Capmaggedon?"
  2. Long term, what changes about the way in which the Lakers operate?
  3. Should any sacrifice be made now to try and set things up for the NBA's new financial order?
  4. In the NFL, hard caps have resulted in many long-time stars of one team finishing their careers with another. Would a hard cap in the NBA increase Kobe Bryant's chances of ending his playing days in another city?

The Triangle: On Kobe's health and more

August, 18, 2011
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
The last few days have been filled with news on Kobe Bryant, highlighted by his 43 point performance at a Drew League game Tuesday afternoon, so it's no surprise to see he's the subject of the newest installment of The Triangle. This week, I'm joined by ESPNLA's Ramona Shelburne, as well as 710 ESPN's Mark Willard. The questions on the table:
  1. How healthy and effective does Kobe need to be this season-- we're assuming there will be one-- for the Lakers to again reach championship form?
  2. Is Kobe still capable of hoisting a team on his back through a playoff run? (I say no, at least not purely as a scorer, because it's so much harder for him to generate easy points at the basket at this point in his career. But if the Lakers need a superhuman performance from Bryant in next spring's postseason, they're not going to win, anyway. It takes a village, and the villagers were lacking last season against the Hornets and Mavs. This isn't specific to Kobe. For any team, asking one guy to carry the load through four rounds against the NBA's best isn't a winning formula. Dallas got it with Dirk Nowitzki, but a) he did have help, and b) it's the clear exception to the rule. Stars need to be stars, but can't go it alone.)
  3. Based on what we've all seen so far this offseason, do you expect Kobe to play the 2011-12 campaign in good health?

The Triangle: Lockout leverage

August, 5, 2011
Kamenetzky By Andy Kamenetzky
The NBA is in "All Lockout, All The Time" mode these days, so The Triangle is following suit. The K Bros and Ramona Shelburne examine who currently has the upper hand between the players and owners, and whether superstars going overseas strengthens or weakens the players' position at the bargaining table.

The Triangle: Should the Lakers consider moving Pau Gasol?

May, 8, 2011
By The Kamenetzky brothers
Whether in the Land O' Lakers comments section or on sports talk radio, this has been a discussion point throughout what's been a miserable postseason for Pau Gasol. AK, ESPNLA.com columnist Ramona Shelburne and 710 ESPN basketball analyst Dave Miller break down the hypothetical.

The Triangle: What's going wrong with the Lakers?

May, 6, 2011
By The Kamenetzky brothers
Andy Kamenetzky, ESPNLA.com columnist Ramona Shelburne and 710 ESPN basketball analyst Dave Miller host a somber edition of The Triangle. Are the Lakers coming apart? Can the Lakers actually bounce back from down 0-2 to win the series? We're not optimists, but happy to end up wrong.

The Triangle: On injuries, Ron Artest, and Shannon Brown

November, 19, 2010
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
Three topics for this week:

-The injury bug, if it hasn't bit hard, has at least announced its presence. What player can the Lakers least afford to lose right now?
-How is Ron Artest's second season going relative to his first?
-Shannon Brown: Is his early season surge a permanent thing?

Plus, what we've seen and heard around the team this week...



Kobe Bryant
24.1 5.0 1.4 35.4
ReboundsJ. Hill 8.0
AssistsK. Bryant 5.0
StealsR. Price 1.4
BlocksE. Davis 1.3