Helping me out with Friday evening’s pregame scouting report was Trevor Ariza, who talked about matching up with Caron Butler, his individual area of focus heading into games and how he thinks the Lakers should attack the Wizards.
One area of focus Ariza said he has every game is feeding the ball to Andrew Bynum (pictured warming up before the game) and Pau Gasol, as at least one of the two seven-footers has a mismatch on a nightly basis. Against the Wizards, it’s probably fair to say that both Bynum (JaVale McGee) and Gasol (Antawn Jamison) have a mismatch.
Phil Jackson Pregame
Jackson emphasized that his team needs to play with a “great amount of energy” against the Wizards, whom he implied are better than their 3-13 record, mentioning their two All-Star forwards in particular (Butler and Jamison).
Phil’s been happy with the job Gasol’s been able to do defensively on smaller forwards, about which I asked after writing that piece earlier today. “He’s done very well” was the quote, amidst a slightly longer explanation.
When prompted about Kobe Bryant’s defense, Jackson was careful to explain that the coaches are “trying to work with Kobe in staying inside the team framework on how we play defense.” Sometimes, Jackson said Kobe might “take a foray into the steal market” and come away empty-handed, which “compromises our defense.”
Going on, Jackson said that steals are “not a mark of a great defensive player,” citing the competition for swipes amongst Lamar Odom, Jordan Farmar, Ariza and Bryant.
When a reporter implied that Gasol might not be a “star,” Jackson responded very clearly that anybody who doesn’t think Gasol is very clearly the second star on this team simply doesn’t know his game, or the game.
Video from the Locker Room following the Lakers 117-79 victory over the Clippers on Wednesday night.
Notes from Phil Jackson’s post-practice media session on 10/01/08
When asked about Andrew Bynum’s performance so far Phil replied “Don’t ask”, but eventually elaborated (slightly) by saying “I thought Andrew was tired today so I don’t want to say anything about it.”
Although the Lakers are currently running two-a-day practices, by league mandate they are only allowed three and a half hours of actual practice time with contact. The rest of the time is used learning offensive patterns, defensive slide drills and conditioning. Phil mentioned that he wouldn’t mind having one long session, but the team’s fitness level isn’t up to that right now.
Trevor Ariza’s jump shot is being described by Jackson as adequate. “I don’t think anybody’s going to consider him a threat. I think he’s got an adequate jump shot that can keep people honest with it. I’m impressed with his abilities to make the jump shot. However, that’s not the strength of his game. His game’s going to be getting out there, being a slasher.”
On Josh Powell: “He’s impressed us a lot. He’s coming in playing hard. He’s got a lot of tenacity. He refuses to be boxed out. You’ve got to really put an effort into keeping him off the boards. He’s creating a lot of problems with our big guys, they know they’ve got a tiger down there after the rebound. He seems to have an idea of what we’re trying to do even though he’s only been here for one day. He seems relatively comfortable playing in our offense.”
Luke Walton had surgery to remove bone spurs and scar tissue as well as clean up cartilage debris from the right ankle that bothered him the majority of the season.
The recovery process is expected to take six weeks, which would be the last week in August, giving Luke plenty of time to be right for training camp in October.
Full Press Release
Turiaf a Warrior
As was widely suspected, the Lakers did not match the lucrative offer sheet extended to Forward Ronny Turiaf meaning that #21 will be suiting up as a member of the Golden State Warriors next season.
All the things Turiaf brings to a team can not be summed up in the 6.6 points and 3.9 rebounds per game, but the dollars (a reported $17 million over 4 years) were just too much.
Ronny becomes apart of the new look Warriors who acquired free agent Corey Maggette after losing face of the franchise point-guard Baron Davis to the Clippers.
Ariza Working Out
Forward Trevor Ariza visited the team’s training facility this afternoon to get some shots up and run a few drills.
Since the season ended Trevor has been focusing on strengthening the ankle that caused him to miss time during the season and relaxing, recently returning from a trip to the Bahamas.
Contract Status: Player option exercised
Acquired in the November trade that sent Maurice Evans and Brian Cook to Orlando, Ariza blossomed as a backup small forward for the Lakers before breaking his foot shortly after the New Year. After coming to the Lakers, the L.A. native averaged almost seven points and four rebounds per game while showing jaw-dropping athleticism as evidenced by his Dunk-of-the-Year candidate leap over Grant Hill in the Lakers’ victory over the Suns on Christmas Day. However, where Trevor most took advantage of his athletic prowess was on the defensive end as Coach Jackson immediately entrusted the forward with guarding some of opposing teams’ most prominent wing players.
With Ariza expected to be back with the Lakers after returning from injury during the Western Conference Finals, L.A. has a logjam at the three spot with Radmanovic and Walton also occupying the post. However, neither player is particularly adept at defense so Ariza figures to see a lot of playing time next season as the team looks to improve its overall defensive game. His role could expand even more if the improved stroke from outside that he showcased during the playoffs continues into next season.
… in the 2008 NBA draft, the Los Angeles Lakers select…..
Barring any trades that will be the only time you hear NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver speak the Lakers name (Silver normally announces the second round picks after David Stern wraps up the first round).
The Lakers first round pick this year was conveyed to the Memphis Grizzlies as part of the deal that landed Pau Gasol. Thus the Lakers hold only the third to last pick in the draft, a situation that has made it tough on the front office in trying to evaluate players.
“Because we don’t have a first round pick, agents will say, ‘Well why are we going to send him to work out for you when you don’t even have a pick.’ So it’s difficult for us,” explained General Manager Mitch Kupchak. “We really have to scramble to get players to come in, we have to look at a lot more tape and film, and then we have to travel to workouts to hopefully see these players.”
Good fortune has found the Lakers in the second round. Key bench contributors Luke Walton and Ronny Turiaf were both drafted after Stern had left the stage.
Continue reading ‘And With the 58th Pick…’
During his exit interview today, Trevor Ariza reflected on the mid-season trade that sent him from the Magic to the Lakers and so to, back to his hometown. According to the athletic forward, he’s planning on being in L.A. next fall, noting that the Lakers are a good place for him. “It’s a dream almost, playing here. I don’t want to wake up from it,” said Ariza.
Physically, Trevor said he feels rejuvenated after missing more than four months with a broken foot. “It was a breath of fresh air for sure,” said Ariza, after getting to play a few minutes in his first NBA Finals. Even in small doses, his taste of extended NBA post-season action has left him wanting more.
“I know its not easy getting there…It’s going to take a lot of hard work,” said Trevor, noting that the team must take what they learned during this playoff run and apply it to next season.
Overall, Trevor said he feels fine physically and is experiencing no pain in his foot. In the next few months, the forward said he plans on focusing primarily on his ball-handing skills and shooting while hopefully adding 10 pounds to his lanky frame.
The Lakers manhandled San Antonio in Game 2, outscoring the Spurs 55-34 in the second half on their way to a 101-71 win. For L.A., all 11 players who stepped foot on the floor scored, led by 22 from Kobe Bryant.
Lamar Odom rebounded from a poor Game 1 effort, scoring 20 points to go along with a team-high 12 rebounds. Meanwhile, the Lakers held the Spurs to just 35% shooting and only 26% from beyond the three point line.
After the game, Coach Jackson said the poor shooting night was a combination of the Lakers’ defense and the Spurs simply missing good opportunities.
“I think they had an off night,” said Jackson. “I think they had some tired legs and I think that’s what happens sometimes. You get to playing a lot of playoff games back-to-back. We’re every other day here in this situation. Kind of crept up on them perhaps.”
Spurs Coach Greg Popovic said that the second game in the series was the one in which fatigue finally caught up to them, not Game 1.
Continue reading ‘WCF Game 2: Lakers vs Spurs Post-Game’
Before game 2 tonight, Coach Jackson said that there is a chance that Trevor Ariza will see playing time, noting “He’s going to be dressed in uniform tonight.”
Jackson said the athletic forward displayed the necessary level of energy in practice this week, but he is still working on getting back in sync with the rest of his Lakers teammates.