Chat with the Kamenetzky Brothers
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, we'll have ESPNLosAngeles.com Los Angeles Lakers bloggers Andy and Brian Kamenetzky stopping by for their weekly chat.
Before joining ESPNLosAngeles.com, Brian and Andy hosted Lakers Blog for the Los Angeles Times from 2005-09. They host the ESPN Kamenetzky Brothers Lakers PodKast and frequently appear on ESPN Radio 710. As contributors for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com, they have written about virtually every sport known to mankind.
Send your questions now and join the Brothers Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. PT/1:30 p.m. ET!
Brian Kamenetzky (1:32 PM)
Hey everyone. Welcome to today's chat. We'll be here for a while to hit on all your Lakers/NBA/lockout questions. And if you have other questions, we'll try to answer those, too.Fire away!
If it's possible to be honest, how careful do employees of ESPN, including incredible brother tandems, have to be when criticizing the NBA owners. These guys are your bread and butter, certainly ESPN's bread and butter - Like wise painting the players bad can also hurt future relationships (personally I feel this situation, the possible end game with the lock out is 95% the owners fault.) - can you honestly share with us the tightrope you guys have to walk on this issue?
Brian Kamenetzky (1:37 PM)
Allenaaron-Not terribly, at least from a personal perspective. We have, for example, spent much of the summer being critical of the work Jim Buss and the team have done in terms of communication, and so on. We've openly questioned whether Jim Buss is up to task, given the high, high, high expectations of Lakers fans. So in that regard, we're not afraid to be critical. As far as the lockout goes, you're absolutely correct that on the most technical level, the lockout is totally the owners fault. They're locking out the players, who are more than happy to continue with the current structure. But relatively speaking, personally I have sympathy for arguments on both sides. I do believe the NBA needs a system that better allows smaller market teams to compete without having to completely ditch the idea of profitability in the process. Structurally, things need to change. On the other hand, in a lot of ways the owners seem to be pushing for a system that guarantees profit, rather than guaranteeing the opportunity to make one. That ain't right, either. But there's really no tightrope. I can answer questions about the lockout in any way I'd like.
Cheesehead Sports Nut (@CheeseheadSN)
I am guessing the Lakers would gladly pay Memphis a ton of money to try and keep Luke Walton as their assistant coach even if the lockout is lifted. What do you make of Luke Walton becoming a college assistant coach?
Andy Kamenetzky (1:38 PM)
Cheesehead: Well, the Lakers are already paying Walton a lot of money as it is, so it doesn't make any sense for them to add more cash on top of a guaranteed contract. Assuming I understand what you're saying. Maybe their hope is Memphis will like Walton as a coach so much, they'll convince Walton to accept the best buyout possible from the Lakers, and they'd front the difference. (Assuming something like that can be done. I have no idea, as it's such an unusual situation.) In any event, I think Luke will do very well as an assistant coach. He really understands the game well, having grown up in a basketball household and having experienced the benefit of good coaches like PJ, Lute Olson, etc. Luke is also a very good communicator, which is a big asset for coaches. His instructions and thoughts will be clear. Plus, he's extremely easy to get along with, but he's also not necessarily a pushover. He's one of the few Lakers consistently unafraid not to give Kobe the ball if the situation calls for it. And having spent so much time with the Lakers, Kobe, Phil, Fisher, etc., he'll likely have the respect of college players.
George Mikan (Heaven)
Just remember these words: They'll always be the Minneapolis Lakers!
Andy Kamenetzky (1:39 PM)
Never forget, George! Never forget!
conerned laker fan (does it really matter?... ok MILWAUKEE!)
From a scale for 0 to 10, 0 being no chance in hell, 10 being u know it man!. Will there be a season next year? If yes, will Kobe be what Skip Bayless Back! and if there isnt a season will Kobe still be back even a year older?
Brian Kamenetzky (1:39 PM)
Hey Concerned-You have every reason to worry. Nobody I've spoken to thinks the season will start on time, and a couple people I was talking to a couple weeks back used the term "lucky" in reference to the season. As in, they'd be lucky to have one. These are guys who are pretty well connected, speaking to people on both sides of the dispute. I am not at all optimistic. Kobe will certainly play whenever the league starts up again, but sitting out a year, while it's good for the knee, maybe, doesn't really seem productive to me. He's still going to get a year older.
Jacob Black (La Push, WA)
Who is the Alpha Male of the NBA?
Andy Kamenetzky (1:41 PM)
Jacob: I think it's Kobe, hands down. Nobody else comes to mind as such an unquestioned alpha male presence, particularly when you factor in his perception among players.
ripvanwillie (Merlin, Oregon)
I'm interested in knowing more about Mike Browns strategies and what the new coaching staff is going to do with the Lakers. Any chance you can interview the new coaches? To me, this is by far the biggest issue with next years team...
Brian Kamenetzky (1:43 PM)
Hey Rip-Unfortunately, that's a tough one. One of the casualties of the lockout is the ability to reach teams and have conversations like the one you're describing. Teams and their employees (that would include coaches) are under very, very strict guidelines in which they can't talk about players in any capacity without risking hefty fines to the organization. As a result, most teams are sequestering their staffs, just to avoid potential problems. To have the type of conversation is tricky. Lakers.com has some of it, but remember, they have editorial control, something teams don't get when working with other media outlets. But I'd check the work of Mike Trudell over there, and we'll also re-tweet some of the stuff we wrote about Mike Brown and Ettore Messina earlier this summer.
With the Lakers trending down and the Clippers trending up, do you think we could see a little shake up in L.A. basketball in the next decade?
Andy Kamenetzky (1:45 PM)
Nick: Even with the Lakers facing a window increasingly closing, and even with the Clippers stockpiled with tantalizing youth, a good in GM in Neil Olshey and two players (Griffin, Gordon) already among the best at their respective positions, I gotta see it before I believe when it comes to a shifting landscape. The Lakers simply have too great a track record for consistent success and the Clips have too great a track record for screwing up a potentially good thing. For the time being, I'll always bet first on the Lakers.
Mike (Ladera Ranch)
What do you see Kobe doing when he retires in 4-5 years? I don't see him joining the media or coaching and he admittedly hates golf. Maybe opening a small bed & breakfast in Newport Beach?
Brian Kamenetzky (1:45 PM)
Hi Mike-Well, in four or five years, he might still be in the league, but once he's done? I have no idea. I suspect he'll get away from the game for at least a little while, and focus on business and charitable ventures. Try to pour himself into that. He'd make a horrible coach, I think, and to be honest, I think the transition to media would bore him. He doesn't need that type of spotlight on him, I don't think. (As opposed to say, Shaq, who doesn't want to leave the public eye.) Post-career Kobe is a really interesting subject, though. It's hard to be as singularly focused on one thing like he's been, then switch gears to something else. It's one reason some think he'll play as long as he can.
Reinaldi (Miami, FL)
Alot of people forget that Pau Gasol is the second best player in the lakers, he just had a horrible series against the hornets and the Mavs.I believe that the lakers are closer to what we saw after the all star break when they were dominating the opposition and not what we saw in the playoffs (because of Pau's performance). Do you think that there is a legitimate change the lakers can win it all with the current line up as i think we still have a pretty great team. I believe that we would've beat the Mavs had Pau shown up and we would've eventually won the championship.
Brian Kamenetzky (1:52 PM)
Hi Reinaldi-I absolutely believe the Lakers can win with the core they have, no question. Just wrote about that yesterday, actually. Between Kobe, Gasol, Bynum, and Odom, the Lakers have (with good health) more than enough front end talent to compete for a championship. What they lack is reliable bench depth, and a few important skill sets (a reliable outside shooter, for example). If they can address some of those issues, they're in good shape. I spoke with one executive who told me they're still considered the team to beat in the W.C.I also agree that people have overreacted to the Dallas series. They could/should have won two of the first four games, and if Gasol is anything less than horrible, probably do. Even with the fatigue, the lack of on-court chemistry, the inability to get everyone consistently on the same page... if Gasol is his normal self, they might actually beat Dallas, or at worst make it a longer series. With the batteries recharged and a lot of external motivation, they'll be a different team next year.
Who would you rather work for ... Jim Buss, Donald Sterling, the McCourts?
Andy Kamenetzky (1:54 PM)
Never: Jim Buss, hands down. His organization is the most stable by far. He's also working with the greatest foundation, meaning it will be much more difficult for him to screw it up. Donald Sterling is a non-starter for me. You're entering chaos, and not even at top dollar, because he's notoriously cheap. (It's not even a given he'll even pay you every time.) And while it's tempting to pick McCourt simply because he may be gone soon, it could also drag out forever. And in the meantime, he's not pleasant to be around. Take the best organization if all three owners have question marks.
The Dude (The Old Star Lanes in Hollywood)
Choose one to cut if there's a CBA provision: Fisher, Walton, Blake or Artest.
Brian Kamenetzky (1:55 PM)
Fisher doesn't make enough to make it worth it. Blake is tempting, but at the same time, if you have a legit starting PG to pair him with, he's a solid backup earning reasonable money. Walton has very little value at this point, given the deteriorating athleticism thanks to the back problems (not that he had a ton before) and a change in offensive system, but the Lakers owe him about 9 mil (I believe) less than Artest, who has a third year on his deal to Walton's two. Ultimately, Artest still has more value than Walton, so I'd probably cut Luke, but it's not so simple a question. What happens if Ron's slide continues this season. Is he a guy you want around if his skills no longer merit heavy minutes?
Matt V (Los Angeles)
I keep going back back to statements about Drew needing to fall in line when comes to touches, is there a chance that Drew and the Mamba might not see eye to on this?
Brian Kamenetzky (1:59 PM)
Absolutely. This is something Andy and I talk about a lot. I think it's important to look more at what Kobe does, not what he says. If the Lakers figure out ways to consistently make the post a place of interest, getting Bynum and Gasol touches, then it doesn't really matter if Kobe says he eats first, and so on. Bryant will get the majority of shots, but they need more balance. I'm willing to give Kobe the benefit of the doubt in last season, because the Lakers were never really able to establish any sort of rhythm, and generally speaking I think he's accepted the idea of not carrying the load by himself and resorting to hero ball. Last season, though, I think he saw the problems developing on the court, and reacted to them by shooting more (his usage rate led the league, and his per minute FGA's were up over the year before), which was understandable but not terribly constructive. But to your first question, yes, there's no doubt in my mind Bynum wants more in the offense. In a perfect world, Kobe cedes some ground in the offense to help it happen. In reality, Gasol might have to make do with fewer looks.
Jill (Las Vegas)
Would you rather start Lamar Odom at small forward and play Artest off the bench?
Andy Kamenetzky (2:03 PM)
Jill, Unless Ron REALLY struggles next season, I wouldn't do that. By moving Ron to the bench, you lose his individual defensive skills, which are consistently the best among Lakers' wings. He takes a LOT of pressure off Kobe specifically and the team in general. And he's not also not as natural a "do it all" guy as LO (who plays better at the 4 than the 3), and for a shaky bench, Odom's ability to fill the cracks is crucial. The answer to last season's issues with Ron isn't a lineup switch. It's Ron playing to his abilities.
Uncle Ernie (England)
Do you think Andrew Bynum will ever become better than Dwight Howard?
Brian Kamenetzky (2:03 PM)
Perhaps if we welcome him to Tommy's Holiday Camp, he might! Offensively, I think he might already be a more polished player, but defensively Howard is ahead, and is likely to stay there. And of course, there's the issue of health. Bynum has had very little luck with it, while Howard is a robot.
Adam Morrison (Spokane)
The Lakers haven't won a title since Shaq without me, for those keeping score.
Is a Dwight Howard/Bynum trade possible at all? IF yes, would it be worth it?
Andy Kamenetzky (2:07 PM)
Puneet: I do think Howard is a possible acquisition, although not likely before the (presumed) season begins. I'd be stunned if the Magic didn't make one more run at building around Howard and keeping him in town. As for whether it would be worth it, the answer is yes, unless you're talking about gutting the Lakers AND taking on bad deals to make it happen. Would I trade Bynum straight up for Howard. In a nanosecond. Would I take on Hedo Turkoglu to get Dwight? Maybe. Would I give up Bynum, Pau, LO AND take on Hedo. Probably not. So the devil is in the details.
Joe (Pico Rivera, CA)
What do you think about Matt Kemp's chances of winning the NL MVP despite playing for a horrible team and a more horrible owner? Will MLB follow NBA's suit and just award the best player on the best team rather than the best player overall? Also, any chance of him being a PG for the Lakers? He was pretty good in high school and he can still dunk unlike Fisher and Blake.
Brian Kamenetzky (2:08 PM)
Joe-This is actually something we've talked about on ESPNLA On Air, Saturday's from 12-2 pm (plug!). In basketball, I get the idea of requiring the MVP to be on a high end team, because one player really can influence games more than another. Kobe, for example, used about 35 percent of L.A.'s possessions last season, in one form or another. When one guy can do that much, winning is important, because on a bad team it's easy to put up empty stats. In baseball, though, that idea doesn't hold up as well. Matt Kemp can't "elevate" his team any more than he is. He can only come to the plate when its his turn, he can only catch the ball when it's hit to him. And in that regard, he's been spectacular this year, arguably the NL MVP (the push the Brewers are making certainly helps the Braun/Fielder camps, though). What's amazing to me is how bad the Dodgers are despite having a very real MVP candidate, and also a frontrunner for the NL Cy Young in Kershaw. I mean, seriously, the rest of the guys just aren't very good.As for MK at the point... I don't know if he has the handle, but it would be fun to try!
Darius (Riverside, CA)
I disagree with your assertion that Lebron has been the better play than Kobe for these past few seasons. I concede he was better than Kobe last year but that's only because of the wear and tear of 3 straight Finals trips. Given how Lebron caves in when the defense caves in, I just don't see him winning two rings or even one ring if he had Kobe's teammates at the time.
Brian Kamenetzky (2:11 PM)
Darius-We can agree to disagree, and obviously it depends on what measurements and defining terms you want to use. Obviously Kobe has been more successful from an achievement standpoint, because he has two rings and LeBron has none. This matters. But on a day-to-day, game in game out basis, LeBron has been a more productive player on both ends of the floor. By a fair margin. But if you're measuring by postseason success, then Kobe has him, b/c he has rings.
CV (Los Angeles, CA)
Non Laker question. But since this is ESPNLA chat. I'll give it a shot. Any chance Kershaw or Kemp can win the Cy Young or the MVP? THanks.
Brian Kamenetzky (2:12 PM)
Hey CV--Just talked about Kemp, who I think in the end will be aced out by a Braun or Fielder type. But Kershaw has a really good shot, I think. His numbers (sabermetric and regular) are great, and to do what he's done on such a lousy offensive team makes it that much more impressive. I think he can do it.
Jordan Farmar (New Jersey)
I think I could have done better than Fisher and Blake at keeping up with Barea, and although streaky, I would have impacted more games than Blake at the back-up pg, right?
Matthew (San Diego, CA)
If we don't get Dwight Howard and Bynum doesn't progress, the Lakers have to get a big star right? Who else do you think we can get to be the next big superstar? Our neighbor Griffen?
Brian Kamenetzky (2:15 PM)
Hi Matthew-At some point, they'll need one, as Kobe's star fades. But it's not an immediately pressing concern, and to peg one guy they can get three years from now is tough. Griffin is obviously a huge name and would be awesome, but I don't think it's a given he leaves the Clippers, assuming they can put a good SF next to him, take care of Gordon, etc. Maybe things change in the new CBA, but for the time being players rarely jump at the end of that first contract. It's usually the second one. At different times, the Lakers have figured out different ways to get their next star, be it by trading for Kobe at draft time or signing Shaq. I suspect they'll try something similar when the time comes, but the rules on how they do it could be very different.
Andy Kamenetzky (2:15 PM)
Jordan Farmar: I agree with half of your statement. While a bad and often uncooperative fit in the triangle, it's hard to argue your impact wouldn't have been better last season than Blake and maybe Fisher (who sometimes brings more intangibles than given credit, even while unquestionably lacking in production). I still stand by the decision to let you walk and bring in Blake (who I think will do better in a more conventional system), but your numbers were missed. Having said that, I disagree you would have done any better than Blake or Fisher keeping up with Barea. You're definitely quicker than both guys, but you're also a worse defender. Assets don't guarantee results.
Mike (Westlake Village, CA)
Does overseas basketball have close to the allure of soccer. Euro Soccer teams seems to have alot of money and hugh fan bases. How do the basketball teams compare?
Brian Kamenetzky (2:17 PM)
Mike-No, it doesn't. European basketball is big and getting bigger, but doesn't have the cache of soccer over there. Many of the teams and leagues struggle financially and to get fans in the seats. Getting paid isn't a given, and with the European economy in the tank (worse than ours), the environment is that much worse.
matth (san gabriel, ca)
do lakers need more of a backup center or a backup to kobe?
Andy Kamenetzky (2:19 PM)
Matt H: I would say backup C. Obviously, Shannon Brown's logically presumed departure leaves a hole behind Kobe and it's important to see his minutes kept at a reasonable level. But unless the new body happens to be an excellent shooter, I don't think he'll impact the Lakers on a day in, day out basis like a dependable backup at C to cover for Andrew Bynum's inevitable injury. The dirty little secret of last season was how much the Lakers missed Theo Ratliff. Once he went down, Pau had to play huge minutes, and everything began to unravel.
Cheesehead Sports Nut (@CheeseheadSN)
I assume that you want the new NFL stadium downtown as opposed to being built out at the City of Industry. Let's move to the more important question, would you be excited or disappointed if the teams that moved to LA are the Jaguars and the Chargers?
Brian Kamenetzky (2:21 PM)
Cheesehead-Yeah, I'm a proponent of the downtown plan, but mostly for selfish reasons. I work down there, it would be better for my company (gotta know where your bread is buttered) and it's much closer to where I live. Plus, I do believe intrinsically that stadiums for teams should if at all possible be in the city for which they're named. An LA team should have a stadium in LA, and Industry (no disrespect intended) isn't in LA proper. As for the teams, I actually like the combo of Jags and Chargers. The Chargers have a connection to the area, are a good team with nice unis. Jacksonville is as close to a blank slate as the league has to offer. They could be moved to LA, rebranded as something else, and it would feel like we have a fresh new team.
Josh (North Hollywood)
Who are the best 33 year olds to ever play the game?
Brian Kamenetzky (2:24 PM)
Among guards, at least, you won't find many better than Kobe, that's for sure. Jordan at 33 was still a remarkably productive player, but the list is short after that.
It seems to me, only common sense, that all NBA media monies should be split 50/50. Lakers make a billion dollar deal, half goes to the Lakers, half to the teams they play. They earn it by offering the opposition. Combined with the NBA players offering to lower their 57% share significantly, there should be a meeting place for the negotiators without killing the goose. Where am I off that would explain there being a partial season shutdown?
Brian Kamenetzky (2:27 PM)
Allanaaron-I'm sure big market owners would object to a 50/50 split of local TV money (I would, too, in their shoes), but big picture, you're correct. NBA owners are going to have to do more revenue sharing than they currently do. The Lakers, I've been told, are open to that, though what exactly it means is still theoretical. David Stern has said the owners are on board generally with a revenue sharing plan, but again, God as they say is in the details, and there are none of yet. The league believes the revenue sharing plan can't be determined until the big revenue split with the players is set. The players think it should be done first, and then work out the split from owners to players. It's one of the big sticking points.
Pastor Astor (Encino, CA)
If Kobe's wins a sixth title, would you place him ahead of Magic in the all-time greatest players debate. Currently, I have him at 6. 1) MJ 2) Kareem 3) Chameberlin 4) Russel 5) Magic 6) Kobe 7) Shaq 8) Bird 9) Big-O 10) Hakeem or Duncan....Given that these lists are somewhat subjective, where do you ultimately believe Kobe will end on the list after all is said and done (looking at his career individual and team achievements, titles, records, etc).
Andy Kamenetzky (2:27 PM)
Pastor: Actually, that's a pretty reasonable list. Obviously, there will be people who quibble with a player here or there, but assuming a 6th title, I don't think anybody could look at your placement of Kobe (or anybody, really) and think it's "ridiculous." Nicely done. As for my prediction, I haven't given it much thought, to be honest. I realize this makes me an alien among sports fans and media, but I don't get all that caught up in "Who's the best? rankings" To me, greatness is greatness, and I'd rather celebrate greatness than quantify it, especially when these players are all pretty darn close to begin with. Whether Kobe is the consensus 3rd, 6th or 11th all-time, does it really matter? (It's not like it's an official title.) He remains pretty indisputably awesome at the end of the day.
Andy Kamenetzky (2:30 PM)
Alrighty, kids. Gotta run. Thanks for dropping by. Keep yourselves parked at the blog for all the latest developments.