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December 30, 1:30 PM ET
Chat with the Kamenetzky Brothers

Andy Kamenetzky
  (1:36 PM)

Shawn: I think it's a combination of Lamar Odom not playing nearly as well as last season (particularly over the last month) and Luke Walton --who does a good job keeping offenses flowing-- being hurt, and those two factors leaving them overly dependent on Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown, both solid enough role players, but not really enough to carry a bench. But of all those factors, I think LO's up and down play is the biggest issue. He's that unit's best player, and the one that draws the most attention from defenders. If he's not as dangerous, it all trickles down from there.

shawn (New york)

What's wrong with the Lakers bench? Why aren't they showing up?

Joe (Detroit)

I don't know who you are and I don't care.

Dave P. (San Diego)

How long do you think Artest will be out? What does it mean if he misses a lot of time?

Andy Kamenetzky
  (1:39 PM)

Dave P. - Nobody really knows, to the best of my knowledge. It's tough with a concussion, which are often tricky and touchy as it is. And basketball has very few of them, which makes it tough to hazard a guess.

Brian Kamenetzky
  (1:39 PM)

Frankly, Joe, that saddens me. I'd like to know a little more about you. And I care.

Vicky (LA)

What is wrong with Ron? It sounds like he really doesn't know what happened with the stairs.

Brian Kamenetzky
  (1:42 PM)

Vicky-Assuming he's telling the truth about the story, yeah, he doesn't remember much of anything. Certainly that sticks with the symptoms of a concussion, no question. And Artest's personality generally (haha). That it's Ron Artest makes the story particularly subject to questioning. I know a few people have asked me, "Seriously, what happened." I don't have any information to contradict what RA is saying, so as far as I know, he fell and hit his head. For Lakers fans, the bigger concern should be when he returns. Concussions are tricky, to say the least, and very serious business.

Chris (Las Vegas)

Kobe is going to become the all-time Lakers scoring leader sometime in mid-late January and will more than likely become the team's all time steals leader in a couple of years (passing Magic). At what point do we recognize him as the greatest Laker ever? One more championship? Two? Now?

Brian Kamenetzky
  (1:45 PM)

Chris, it's an interesting question, and one we talked about a lot at the launch of the LA site. I wrote a list of the 50 greatest Lakers, and had Magic ahead of Kobe. For me, it's not just about raw stats, but also more subjective things. Kobe will end up playing so many games in LA, he'll have a strong argument for the Lakers GOAT, when backed by his incredible play, statistical achievement, and rings. On the other hand, there's something about Magic- and I think we can all agree he was pretty damn good- that makes him the ultimate Lakers icon. He is, at least to me, more viscerally part of the franchise's fabric than Kobe. Not by a lot, but we're talking about a debate that'll turn on fine points.But another few titles and Kobe will vault to the top for many, no question.

Jake B. (Los Angeles)

How exactly can you tell if Ron Artest has a head injury?

Brian Kamenetzky
  (1:45 PM)

Really, it's like his Christmas gift to the media. "Ron Artest gets his head examined." And... go!

Steve (Atlanta)

If you could do it over, do you wanto to keep Ariza over Artest? I bet Ariza would keep a sharp eye for boxes in his house.

Andy Kamenetzky
  (1:48 PM)

Steve - No, I'd still go with Artest. If he falls down the stairs a couple more times this season, ask me again. But the defense since Ron's arrival has been exceptional, which is no coincidence. And he's been pretty mindful of accepting a lower profile role on the offense. If anything, he's more likely to pass the ball than shoot, which has helped keep the O smooth.Don't get me wrong. I liked Trevor as a player and a person. But between the money it would have taken to keep him and Artest being the better overall player (if the more eccentric one as well) I think the Lakers made the right call.

olf (Socal)

Hey K-Bros,What do we know about Kobe's finger injury? Do we know how long it will take to "heal"? Will it be a problem all season? Does it set back the healing everytime he gets hit on it?Thanks.

Brian Kamenetzky
  (1:48 PM)

olf-The original diagnosis was six weeks, assuming no reinjury. I don't have a calendar in front of me, but that leaves at least a few weeks until it would heal. In theory, though, if he can make it through without the thing getting worse, it should heal.But like you say, it's tough in basketball not to use the tip of the index finger on your primary hand. There's always stuff banging it. I seriously doubt he'll miss time for it, though.

Michael (Miami, FL)

Is Kobe this year's MVP?

Brian Kamenetzky
  (1:50 PM)

I'd say he is, but my theory is that the MVP caliber player you see more than the others always looks the best. You get to appreciate all the nuances that make him so special and valuable. But for me, at least Kobe is tops so far.

Andy Kamenetzky
  (1:52 PM)

Hey Quinn, thanks for checking out our new digs. I think it's much too early to label LO a "bad signing." As you note, he's been regarded as inconsistent throughout his career (which I don't always think has been accurate, but that's neither here nor there). Thus, we could just be dealing with a low period. He's come up pretty huge over the last few seasons during a lot of big moments, so I would definitely offer a benefit of the doubt before giving up. Having said that, LO said after last night's game that he hasn't played at a high level since basically last season. He's aware of needing to pick it up.

Quinn (Los Angeles)

Hey K brothers, I followed your blog at LA Times for a while. Is the re-signing of LO looking like a bad deal now? He is being his usual Mr. Inconsistent so far.

Andy Kamenetzky
  (1:53 PM)

Sorry about the reverse order between me and Quinn. My bad.

sam_sf (San Francisco)

When something traumatic happens, one will begin to theorize about what exactly happened. Ron, publicly, stuck to the "I don't remember" line. Did you find it a little odd that he wouldn't even offer up reasonable possibilities about what might have happened, or what his wife said might have happened? For a guy who prides himself on transparency, didn't he come off a little suspect with this story?

Brian Kamenetzky
  (1:53 PM)

sam-Well, there are two ways of looking at it. If he's telling the truth and doesn't remember- and again, I have no evidence he isn't- then there's no other explanation than "I don't remember." The flip side is, yes, I don't remember is not exactly an answer that satisfies the curiosities of the public. And since we're dealing with Ron Artest, there are certainly curiosities. Another thing- the general consensus from players and media alike last night was that Artest was woozy and "off," not as coherent as normal. (I'll let you make the joke...) That could be a factor, too.

Josh (Chicago)

Guys, would the Lakers ever consider dealing Andrew Bynum to alleviate some of their salary cap concerns? He doesn't seem to fit with Gasol as well as I thought he would.

Brian Kamenetzky
  (1:58 PM)

Josh--I don't think so. First, they'd have to take back money on Bynum to make the trade legal, so unless they get a big expiring deal, there's not much relief (and even then, they're still over the cap and tax) but more important, it's FAR to early to give up on Bynum or the Bynum/Gasol combination. Drew is only 22, and while he hasn't played well this month was dominant in November, and had a nice stretch with Pau last year before getting hurt. If the Lakers wanted to move him, they'd have teams lining up to take him off their hands.

James (Seattle, WA (teamless locally))

I am really liking what I am seeing from as far as point gaurd skills from... wait for it... Sasha Vujacic. I just think he finds more passing angles more consistently than farmar and especially brown. Downside being some of his passing is dangerous. Do you think he could be useable as a PG? Back-up or otherwise?

Andy Kamenetzky
  (2:01 PM)

Hey James,I've written in the past that the only person who considers Sasha a point guard candidate is Sasha. By and large, I don't think he's a great option. I agree that he's been better this season than in years past with his passing, but as a whole, I don't think he's the steadiest of options with the ball in his hands. As you noted, his decisions can be risky ones. Granted, the triangle is often more about initiating the offense than utilizing a playmaker ala CP3, but I still wouldn't go there.

Brian Kamenetzky
  (2:02 PM)

Big Moe-My problems with Fish tend to be offensive, not defensive. I really don't see him as worse than the other options (he's better that Farmar in things that aren't pressing full court) and makes better decisions than Brown tends to. Shannon in particular is still learning. I don't know if they have a better in-house alternative for big minutes. As for trading guys on the bench, Morrison has appeal b/c of the expiring deal, but Sasha doesn't really (not without taking on long-term salary in return), nor Walton (injured, longer deal). The Lakers won a title last year with the current set of guards, and while they need more consistency there's no reason they can't win another. Fish needs to hit more shots, and if they can get more consistency between one of Brown and Farmar, they should be fine.

Brian Kamenetzky
  (2:03 PM)

That said, if there's an upgrade out there, I'm sure Mitch Kupchak will take it. May be tough to find, but if they're not looking, I'd be shocked.

Jeff (Denham)

Is Andrew Bynum playing up to his contract this year, based on his play so far?

Brian Kamenetzky
  (2:04 PM)

Jeff-Break it up by month. November, absolutely. December... no.

steve (philly)

we should give Fisher away

steve (philly)

should the lakers go for tracy mcgrady

Brian Kamenetzky
  (2:06 PM)

Steve, they don't have the salary to offer Houston without giving up seriously valuable pieces (Andrew Bynum, for example). T-Mac makes over 20 mil. And he's coming off microfracture surgery, and hasn't looked great. Nor is he a great fit. Won't happen.

sam_sf (San Francisco)

Kobe v Turiaf was interesting yesterday. Turiaf denied Kobe at the rim, which was a great block, and Kobe seemed to take it well. Then at the end of the game, it seemed like Kobe was really talking some serious smack to Ronny, and then messing with him while positioned for free throw rebounding. Ronny seemed pretty angry, seriously angry. Was Kobe showing his bully side to us? What do you make of Ronny v Kobe, after the block.

Andy Kamenetzky
  (2:08 PM)

Sam sf,I wouldn't read anything into it. Ronny and Kobe were always tight as teammates, and they were laughing about the block immediately afterward. Kobe also gave Ronny props after the game (although he jokingly noted that the lil' bro never talks !$%# to the big bro). I'm sure it's competitive between them, because both guys are wired like that. But bad blood? I seriously doubt it, if that's what you're talking about.

Jose (Roberts)

Are Jordan Farmar's days as a Laker numbered?

Brian Kamenetzky
  (2:09 PM)

Jose-The Farmar trade rumors have been around for months now. He has played better this year than last, for sure, and seems to have at least tried to address the attitude issues that plagued him last year. I think he's making progress, but will never really be a great fit in this system (I don't think he particularly likes it).That said, if they trade him, they'd have to get a guard back. Otherwise, they're just too thin in the backcourt. Which begs the question, which guy would they get, who would represent an upgrade? I'm not sure there are many viable names out there. I think, in the end, he finishes the year as a Laker. Which probably guarantees he'll be traded (haha).

Peter (Las Vegas)

Do the Lakers shoot the ball well enough to win a title? They seem pretty bricky these days.

Brian Kamenetzky
  (2:12 PM)

Peter-It's a problem, no question. The Lakers have to make people respect their long distance shooting in order to fully take advantage of their size inside. They can create so many wide open looks because teams are forced to double Kobe or Pau or Bynum in the post. That makes for easy kick outs, and great looks. If they knock them down consistently, the offense starts to click.Interestingly enough, there was a great article for stat-geek types posted yesterday on TrueHoop on the value of shots near the basket and of three pointers- they're the most efficient ways to score, at least in theory. The Lakers have the ability to take advantage of both (more inside than out, but still good enough on the arc).

Shelly (Vancouver)

How does Chris Duhon for a Famar/Morrison idea look?

Brian Kamenetzky
  (2:14 PM)

Shelly-I'm not a big Duhon fan, but that trade would be revenue neutral (Duhon's contract expires this summer). The thing is, would he learn the offense fast enough to be a good backup? It's the devil you know vs. the one you don't. I'll take the one I know.

James (Seattle, WA (teamless locally))

What is the word on Bynum having asthma and/or breathing problems? Huh? I think I may have seen this somewhere but I can't quite remember where. I must have fallen on RA's steps...

Brian Kamenetzky
  (2:16 PM)

James-He has been fighting an upper respiratory thing for a little bit, which he says has sapped him of some wind. He's a big guy, obviously, and requires a lot of it.

sam_sf (San Francisco)

What do you make of Kobe and Lamar picking up technicals in the final 4 minutes of a tight game?

Brian Kamenetzky
  (2:16 PM)

I wasn't impressed...

Ron (no, not that one) (LA)

I realize he's Luke Walton, but will Luke Walton's return help solidify the bench?

Byron (Miami)

What do the Lakers have to do to pull out of this slump?

Brian Kamenetzky
  (2:22 PM)

Byron-Not to get all coach-y here, but I think they need to get back to their basic principles that make them good. Almost like Norman Dale- make four passes (or whatever) before every shot. Insist they get the ball into the post at least one touch. Obviously there's some flexibility in that, but you get the point. Really re-dedicate themselves to what makes them the Lakers. Defensively, a lot is about getting Bynum going and Artest back. They've played with a bunch of different lineups over the last few games, and cohesion is vital on that end of the floor. Plus, the Suns and Warriors are unconventional offenses, and the Kings are vastly different than they were last year. That makes a difference, too. I expect the Lakers to be better defensively on Friday.(Cleveland, btw, they were just bad on both ends-- they knew how that book reads)

Andy Kamenetzky
  (2:22 PM)

Ron (not) Artest,I actually think Luke's return will help. Luke is obviously not a "cure all," but his presence tends to be a steadying one. In part because of his skill set. He's a good facilitator, which allows guys to play to their strengths while he keeps things humming. But also, Walton is very good at literally remembering to run the offense. He'll dump the ball inside as a first move. Make that extra pass. Post up if there's a mismatch to be had. As you said, he's not a brilliant talent by any stretch. But he helps everything run smoothly.Plus, him being back means a few minutes less for Artest and Kobe at the three, which could give them more rest.

Andrew (San Francisco)

Hi AK/BK, I saw a few posts last year about the inability of the PJ and the Lakers staff to keep Kobe from being a volume shooter even on days when it is not working for him.Brian Shaw mentioned he just ignores the need to pass sometimes (something to that affect).Everyone knows he is a great player but why can't he sometimes just take - say- 13-14 shots facilitate and not think that he has to "take over" when the other guys are missing shots.I mean that and stuff like "trusting his teammates" really only implies that his desire to win is unquestionable as opposed to that of others.Screws up a "team game" at times. doesn't it ? I guess,what I am asking is - won't we be a much better team if more than just Kobe gets to be the best. ?

Brian Kamenetzky
  (2:24 PM)

Andrew--I wrote a little about that yesterday. It's that fine line between Kobe rescuing the team when they need a boost, and overdoing it so they don't quite know what to do. To me, it's self defeating in the sense that there's a diminishing return with Kobe being so dominant. It works, but does damage. Each time, it reinforces bad tendencies of the offense, and makes it more likely they'll need him to bail the team out again. Or try to at least. I don't think it's a matter of Kobe being selfish, but trying to win. And of course, his teammates need to hold up their end of the bargain. But I totally agree- more balance is vital, and makes both Kobe and his teammates more effective.

Sean (LA)

Sasha doesn't look like that bad of a defender. He fouls alot but chases guys all over the floor. I also think he's 3rd longest continuous tenured Laker behind Kobe and Luke. Is that correct?

Brian Kamenetzky
  (2:26 PM)

Sean, I think that's true. Certainly he chases. And he works hard, I'm just not sure he works smart. As for tenure, I think that's correct.

James (Seattle, WA (teamless locally))

Why is Bynum not the focal point of the offense after the first half of the first quarter?! It seems like after that first 8 minutes or so he only gets points off of putbacks and lobs. He needs more shots!

Brian Kamenetzky
  (2:27 PM)

Whether you're talking Bynum or Gasol, I think the Lakers need to get back to making a more concerted effort to stick with post play. Or Kobe down there, or Artest, or anyone. But they don't usually press the advantage for long stretches. It's frustrating.

Terrance (New York)

Do you think Andrew Bynum will make the all star team this year?

sam_sf (San Francisco)

A couple of games ago (Sacramento?), after Kobe missed a technical free throw, the camera flipped to Phil. You could read his lips "should have had Fisher shoot it". Which is something I had been wondering for a while, especially with Kobe starting out shooting a lower percentage (low 80s). He's brought it up to 85%, with Fish at 91%, how do you think that decision gets made on who shoots the techs? It seems like Kobe just says "it's my team, I'm shooting it".

Andy Kamenetzky
  (2:28 PM)

Terrance,A few writers and I were actually talking about that yesterday. Unless Bynum really picks up his game over the next few weeks, I think he's in danger of getting beat out by either Chris Kaman or even Nene, with Amare being the runaway fan choice. As well as Andrew played in Nov, he's dropped dramatically since and there's been a lot of attention towards that.

Brian Kamenetzky
  (2:29 PM)

Sam, I didn't see that. Kobe's a pretty good free throw shooter, so I don't really mind when he takes them. Sasha takes them a lot, too. Did you know he's the all time leading FT shooter in Lakers history, in terms of percentage?Fun fact!As for how the decision gets made, I don't really know. My guess is often Kobe just walks to the line, because that's how he rolls. And, like I said, he's a very good FT shooter.

Brian Kamenetzky
  (2:30 PM)

A couple more, folks!

Daniel (Los Angeles)

Do you think the lakers should go after Ronny Turiaf? Perhaps trade Adam Morrison so the Warriors have cap relief?

Brian Kamenetzky
  (2:31 PM)

Wouldn't that be interesting? The Warriors might do it, but then the Lakers are back to the original question that prompted them to let Ronny go in the first place-- how much would he play, with Bynum, Odom, Gasol, etc.? He's fairly pricey for a guy who might see 10-15 minutes of action a night.

Brian Kamenetzky
  (2:31 PM)

It's not my money, so I'd do it. And Ronny might like getting out of Oakland (who wouldn't?), but I don't think it'll happen.

sam_sf (San Francisco)

Walton has average 5 real minutes per game this year (10 total, but half are garbage time). Do we really think he's going to have any impact worth talking about? When he plays, he take minutes away from Artest and Odom. To me, his only value is step up in case of an injury.

Brian Kamenetzky
  (2:33 PM)

Sam-I think it should be kept in context, but yeah, he can make a difference. He has a very specific skill in terms of ball movement, works hard to get the ball down low, and greases the wheels so to speak. It's another option for PJ to use, particularly when SB is playing the point. It relieves Brown of many of his duties in the offense, and lets him be aggressive. He isn't a gamechanger, but he helps, no question.

Big Moe (Charlotte)

Howard for Bynum and Sasha or Farmar?

Brian Kamenetzky
  (2:34 PM)

Orlando would never do it. And you can make an argument that Bynum, when playing well, is a better fit for the Lakers. But like I said, it's a moot point. The Magic won't bite.

James (Seattle, WA (teamless locally))

Do you think Phil CAN limit Kobe's minutes? Or does Kobe just play when he wants?

Amit (New Delhi)

Hello Kbros ,Kobe has an increased post presence this season and someone has asked him about his limited opportunities with Pau/Bynum on the floor. His Response - "They know I eat first" . I don't think he was totally kidding.Do you ? I love Kobe but what kind of an attitude is that ? Won't we ever have anything close to what San Antonio has ? Sometimes Parker is the star of the night , sometimes Manu...(I know Duncan almost always delivers but that isn't quite like what we have with Kobe. We almost can't expect to win if Kobe isn't turning it on somehow)

Brian Kamenetzky
  (2:35 PM)

The best way to do it is by getting ahead, like they did earlier in the year. His minutes were fine over the first 15 or so games. It's only recently where they've gone up.

Andy Kamenetzky
  (2:35 PM)

Amit - No question, balance is a big issue for the Lakers. They're at their best when it's not a one-man show, and that often is a question of Kobe knowing when to turn it on and when to dial it back. Lately, I don't think it's been a great give and take. That may be due to mitigating factors prompting Kobe to bear a heavy load (Drew slumping, Ron being out, LO not playing well, a general team malaise). It may also be due to him simply going into "takeover" mode a little too quickly, which will likely always happen from time to time. But for the most part, he handles it pretty well, in my opinion.

Brian Kamenetzky
  (2:37 PM)

That's all the time we have today. Thanks for joining in. We'll be doing this every week at this time, so come by again. (And if we add more, we'll let you know.)