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Thursday , Jan , 19 , 2012 Hoopsvibe

Deron Williams interested in Lakers?

With that deal long since scuttled by the NBA, would the Lakers ever make a play for Williams? Judging by the reaction that Williams admits to getting as he’s walked around Los Angeles the last couple of days, Lakers fans certainly hope so. “I’ve had that since I was in Utah, Laker fans wanting me to come here,” Williams said Monday. “It’s definitely flattering. I’ll address all that when the time is right.”

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: The Los Angeles Lakers proved anything is possible with the nixed Chris Paul trade.

After all, the Lakers are the ultimate have-franchise; they have money to burn, assets to deal, and are a massive market.

Most importantly, the purple-and-gold are ambitious. GM Mitch Kupchak and owner's son Jim Buss are constantly looking to improve -even if it appears that the club is in cost-cutting mode with the recent Lamar Odom trade.

So, Deron Williams, a free agent to be in July, is a possibility.

There's a complication: the New Jersey Nets, Williams' current team, will demand Andrew Bynum as part of any trade.

Bynum has been impressive of late. He also has a supporter in Jim Buss, who takes credit for drafting and developing the massive seven-footer.

Of course, the Lakers could offer Pau Gasol, not Bynum. Or, the Lakers could clear cap space and sign Williams as a free agent this summer.

Bottom line: anything is possible with the Lakers.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.   

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Sunday , Jan , 08 , 2012 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Dwight Howard to stay in Orlando … with Deron Williams?

Local 6 Sports Director David Pingalore has learned that Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard may be rethinking his trade request. In December, Howard told the Magic he would want to be traded to either the New Jersey Nets, Dallas Mavericks or Los Angeles Lakers.Multiple NBA sources confirmed to Pingalore that Howard has been heavily recruiting New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams to play with him in Orlando. Pingalore has also learned the Magic are trying to trade for Williams. Pingalore's sources confirmed that Howard would rather stay in Orlando, and the sources said that it's an "80 percent" chance Howard stays.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Will he stay? Will he go?

The Dwight Howard merry-go-round has again taken another turn, as the All-Star post is reconsidering his trade request and may sign a long-term extension with the Orlando Magic.

Forget the rumors involving the Lakers and Andrew Bynum and/or Pau Gasol.

Forget the gossip about the soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets.

And forget the speculation about Howard’s rift with Magic executive Otis Smith.

In the end, it may not matter because the former Slam Dunk champion is seriously considering staying in Orlando.

There’s a catch: Howard wants Deron Williams to join him. The muscular table-setter is unhappy with the Nets and, like Howard, can become a free agent in July.

This is a surprise. Most of us knew Howard and Williams had interest in partnering up, however, we assumed it would happen in a major market like Brooklyn, not Orlando.

After all, Brooklyn would allow both superstars to maximize marketing and business opportunities in New York, while Orlando is a smaller city tucked away in Florida.

So, Howard’s future remains up in the air. And the debate over whether he stays or goes will continue for some time.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

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Saturday , Jan , 07 , 2012 Hoopsvibe

Kobe: Bynum, not Gasol, is Lakers’ No. 2 option

Now it's Kobe, then Bynum, then Gasol. "It seems like it's changed a little bit," Bryant said after the Lakers' 97-90 win over the Golden State Warriors on Friday. "Andrew is thirsty to score and he can score. He has more of a scorer's mentality [than Gasol], so we'll take advantage of that."

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: He’s number two with a bullet.

According to Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum, the team’s young and massive center, has surpassed Pau Gasol as the Los Angeles Lakers’ second option.

Opponents have no answer for Bynum’s height, size, and length, especially when the former lottery pick receives the ball deep in the paint.

Here’s the real question: will Bryant ever let Bynum take his spot as the Lakers’ first option?

To some extent, the process is already underway. After all, Jim Buss, the owner’s son, is running the club. He drafted, developed, and refused to trade Bynum. And he let Phil Jackson leave/retire and hired Mike Brown, in part, because the former Cleveland Cavaliers’ sideline boss agreed to empower Bynum.

Bryant, at 33, is getting older. He’s played a ton of basketball and his body has sustained great wear and tear.

Currently the five time champion is battling wrist and knee issues, so Brown may start this transition by encouraging the Lakers to become more of an inside-outside team.

Inside is code for going to Bynum first. Outside is code for going to Bryant second, after Bynum has drawn an extra defender.

Of course, will Bryant let this happen?

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

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Thursday , Jan , 05 , 2012 Hoopsvibe

Mike Brown: Kobe Bryant has earned Freedom

“That’s why we sit and watch and tape afterwards,” continued Brown.  “So we can better understand where he wants the ball or he can better understand what I want on this particular possession or anything like that. I think it’s pretty neat that everybody’s making a big deal of it but it’s early in the process, I’m getting to know him, he’s got the five . . . championship rings, so he’s been there and done that.  I’m going to give him some freedom.”

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Kobe Bryant is still The King. For now.

Some feel the Los Angeles Lakers are a franchise in transition, as Andrew Bynum takes on a greater role in the offense.

Just don’t tell Bryant, the reigning Alpha Male and Alpha Dog in La-La land. The former MVP and five-time champion still shoots at will -witness his recent 6-for-28 shooting performance.

Something larger is at play, though. For instance, the Lakers are a fractured organization. Jim Buss, the boss’ son, hired Mike Brown as coach in part because he would empower Bynum.

Of course, Buss claims he drafted and developed Bynum. And the better Bynum does, the better Buss feels about his status as a basketball executive.

So, it’s complicated.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

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Sunday , Dec , 25 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Jim Buss: Lakers won’t trade Bynum and Gasol for Howard

"I don't understand the thinking that we need saving as a franchise," Buss says. "We have three All-Stars, and we need saving?" There's an Internet report suggesting Orlando was willing to trade Howard for Bynum and Pau Gasol, but now he's shaking his head as if in pain."Where does this stuff come from?" he says. "You'd have to be kind of silly to give up two All-Stars like that for Howard. Zero truth to it. We have never been asked for Andrew and Pau and we've never offered them. I think they know we'd either say no or they would sound crazy for asking."

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Publicly, Jim Buss has to downplay the Los Angeles Lakers’ interest in Orlando Magic post Dwight Howard.

Privately, the owner’s son should know the team that gets the best player wins the trade, so Buss and GM Mitch Kupchak must be open swapping Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol for Howard.

Here’s the complication: the Lakers are a fractured bunch, as most things in the world of purple-and-gold is political.

Like Bynum. For instance, Jim Buss is reluctant to trade, or even criticize, Bynum because he likes to take credit for drafting and developing the seven-foot center.

And the better Bynum plays, the more Buss can justify his role as a basketball executive within the organization.

Instead of trading Bynum, Buss has empowered him, hiring a coach, Mike Brown, who will feature his skills, and even declaring him Kobe Bryant’s equal.

So Buss' agenda and Laker politics could complicate doing what is right: swapping Bynum and Gasol for Howard.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

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Friday , Dec , 23 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Matt Barnes to Blake Griffin and Clippers: act like you’ve dunked before

“It’s a preseason game,’ Barnes said after Thursday’s practice at the Lakers’ facility in El Segundo. ‘Yeah, they’re catching lobs and dunking. But it’s just a preseason game. Let’s just play basketball. If you make a dunk, act like you’ve done it before. He’s got hundreds of them. There’s no need for the hoorah after every single dunk. It’s unnecessary.’

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Los Angeles’ two NBA teams, the Clippers and Lakers, don’t care for each other. Not one bit.

After all, Los Angeles was always a Laker town. They had The Logo, Wilt the Stilt, Kareem, Magic, Big Game James, Shaq-Fu, Kobe Bean, Andrew Bynum, and others.

While the Clippers could never attract or keep top talent because owner Donald Sterling wouldn’t open his wallet or spend the luxury tax payments he received from league head office.

This age-old dynamic is changing. The (natural) order of Los Angeles’ basketball teams could flip flop in 2012.  

The Lakers, who are still talented, are in transition, while the Clippers have Chris Paul at point guard; Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan down low;  and veterans like Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler, and Mo Williams.

Here’s the biggest shock: the Clippers are the glamour team. Griffin and Jordan’s aerial antics will receive endless love on ESPN, youtube, and twitter.

And some, like the Lakers' Matt Barnes, don't appreciate the post dunks celebrations.

Too bad.

Barnes better realize times have changed. These are the new Clippers.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

 

 

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Monday , Dec , 19 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Kobe Bryant: I want to stay with Lakers

Q: Do you see yourself retiring with the Lakers? There’s been speculation you might want a change.

Bryant: “I don’t know where that comes from. I don’t have any feeling about [leaving] whatsoever.”

Q: So you definitely want to stay a Laker?

Bryant: “Of course. No question. Why not? I’ve been here for 16 years. I’m going to up and leave now?”

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: The Black Mamba isn’t going anywhere. Unless he wants to.

Yesterday Kobe Bryant, the superstar guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, told Yahoo Sports he would not be asking management for a trade.

Bryant has perhaps the best contract in sports. He earns between $25-30 million per annum; holds a no trade clause; and receives a large portion of his salary early in the season, which can then be invested.

Translation: Bryant isn’t upset about the changes in Laker-land.

He will work with new coach Mike Brown -even though he’s not Brian Shaw. He accepts that Andrew Bynum will have a greater role. And he has forgiven management for tying Lamar Odom in a bow and giving him as a gift to the world champion Dallas Mavericks.

All is good between Bryant and the team he has spent sixteen years with. For now.

--Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below with thoughts.

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Saturday , Dec , 03 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Bynum ‘indifferent’ about possible Howard deal?

The source classified Bynum as “indifferent” to all the trade talk and willing to play wherever. This is the third time he’s been rumored to be the centerpiece of a package for an All-Star, previously being involved in discussions for Kevin Garnett and Jason Kidd.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Andrew Bynum has been through this before.

Remember the Los Angeles Lakers nearly dealt a teenage Bynum to the New Jersey Nets for Jason Kidd. The speculation was ramped, with Laker great Kobe Bryant commenting on the trade rumors in a bizarre cell-phone video.

There had also been chatter of Bynum being dangled as bait for Kevin Garnett when The Big Ticket was looking to escape the Minnesota Timberwolves.

So it’s no surprise that Bynum isn’t bothered by the chatter of being sent to the Orlando Magic in exchange for All-Star Dwight Howard.

In Orlando, he’d be the undisputed first option. There’d be no more playing in the shadow of Kobe Bryant.

However, there’s a strong chance the Lakers keep Bynum. He was, after all, the choice of Jim Buss, the new lead executive of the purple-and-gold and, most importantly, the owner’s son.

The younger Buss uses Bynum’s success to justify his position in the front office. Don’t think this doesn’t matter in the political world of the purple-and-gold.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

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Saturday , Sep , 17 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Mike Brown wants less Kobe, more Bynum and Gasol?

And whether you want to read a lot or a little into it, note this: When talking about the contrasting offensive styles Brown will show from Cleveland to here, the new Lakers’ coach summarized the coming Lakers offense as feeding Gasol and Bynum inside, not being the Kobe show.

“This team is completely different from what I had in Cleveland,” Brown said. “In Cleveland, I had a guy who liked to come off the top of the floor, liked to play in space and play pick-and-roll and make plays for others. Here, I’ve got two guys similar to what we had in San Antonio; you’re able to throw them the ball on the block.”

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Can a new coach and his new philosophy create new results for the Los Angeles Lakers when the NBA season begins?

It’s been a few months since Phil Jackson, the Hall of Fame coach and undisputed master of all things Zen, was replaced with Brown as sideline boss by the Lakers.

Brown, it seems, isn’t scared to shake things up, and wants to utilize his super-sized front-court.

Translation: less Kobe Bryant, more Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.

However, it’s not known how Bryant, the club’s reigning top dog and Alpha Male, will feel about sharing his lofty perch with Bynum and Gasol.

Bynum is attached to Jim Buss, the controversial son of long-time owner Jerry Buss. Many feel the younger Bynum to leave his imprint on the Lakers.

And Gasol’s meltdown in last year’s playoff shocked the mortgage industry, prompted a twitter tirade from Snopp Dogg, and led to a physical confrontation of sorts with Jackson.

So Bryant may or may not buy-in. One thing is certain: the Lakers will be different.

--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below. 

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Monday , Aug , 22 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: New CBA to help Orlando keep Howard?

“One thing that might give some comfort to Orlando fans is that one of the thoughts in the new collective bargaining agreement is to give an advantage to teams who are trying to keep their incumbent players,” Dyer says. “That would allow the Magic, for instance, to offer Dwight more money than any other team and (entice him) to stay home.”

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: They have hope.

The speculation has been that Dwight Howard will opt-out of his contract next summer and walk on the Orlando Magic, sending the South Florida franchise back to the stone age.

Some expect Howard to join the Los Angeles Lakers, even though the purple-and-gold has post Andrew Bynum. Others expect Howard to partner with a top table-setter like the New Jersey Nets’ Deron Williams.

Either way, Howard was thought to be gone. And Magic GM Otis Smith was getting ready to reserve his seat at the NBA’s annual draft lottery in the spring of 2013.

Until now.

Apparently, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement will help teams retain their own stars by increasing the amount they can pay, and essentially outbid opponents for, their own free agents

Other clauses will make it difficult for stars to join forces. Salaries will be reduced; there could be a hard cap without a luxury tax or exemptions; there may even be revenue sharing. (Call it ‘The Miami Clause’.)

Expect the post lockout NBA to resemble the NFL. There will be greater parity. There will be greater balance. There will be less have-not franchises.

All of which should help Orlando keep Howard. This, it seems, is the best they can hope for. 

--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

 

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Monday , Aug , 15 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Andrew Bynum on Dwight Howard trade rumors: ‘I like L.A.’

Q: How have you endured speculation you'll be traded, or replaced next year by free agent Dwight Howard?

A: It's good to know everybody wants me; that means I'll be in this game for some time. I like L.A., and don't want to go anywhere else. It'd be good to stay in one place your whole career, and the Lakers are the most storied franchise in the league, everyone knows who the Lakers are, and I appreciate the Lakers' love.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Of course, he likes Los Angeles and wants to stay.

Andrew Bynum finally responded to rumours he’ll be traded to the Orlando Magic for Dwight Howard by stating he wants to stay with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Why wouldn’t he want to stay?

The Lakers are the NBA’s ultimate have-franchise. Their market-size, wealthy owner, and desirable location means they’ll compete year-in, year-out.

Translation: in Los Angeles, Bynum contends, has a terrific supporting cast, gets invited to famous parties, and is linked to desirable singers.

(To be fair, Orlando is also a have-franchise. Like the NBA’s 29 other franchises, it can’t compete with the lure, hype, and glamour of Los Angeles.)

Bynum knows this. He’s also knows the reason he’ll likely stay in Los Angeles long-term is because of the internal politics of Laker-nation.

Bynum is Jim Buss’ guy. Jim Buss, the owner’s son and head of the Lakers, claims to have drafted and groomed Bynum.

And Jim Buss’ has hedged what little reputation he has as a basketball executive to Bynum’s success on-court. So Bynum will be given every opportunity with the Lakers.

For instance, Jim Buss forced coach Phil Jackson to leave, despite the Zen’s stellar record, and hired the defensive-minded Mike Brown.

Brown immediately promoted Bynum to co-superstar status, putting him - right or wrong, fair or not - on equal footing with Hall of Fame guard Kobe Bryant.

Bottom line: Bynum’s protected with the Lakers. How can the Magic possibly compete?

--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

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Wednesday , Aug , 10 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Greivis Vasquez: Marc Gasol will be better than Dwight Howard

Yes. Marc Gasol is a very key player on our team. He’s one of the best centers in the league and will end up being the best center in the NBA in 2-3 years.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: There’s having a teammate’s back. Then there's stretching the truth for a teammate.

How do view Greivis Vasquez’s comment that fellow Memphis Grizzly Marc Gasol will soon be the NBA’s best center?

The younger Gasol has made strides. He’s already a top-ten center and, as the second half and playoff showed, there’s room for further growth.  

Could he honestly become the NBA’s best center?

Suppose Gasol reaches his potential. The Spaniard still wouldn't top the Olando Magic’s Dwight Howard, who is seen as ‘The Man in the Middle’.

Grizz’ executive Christopher Wallace (not that Christopher Wallace as my esteemed editor jokes) would take Howard over Gasol if given the choice.

Privately, behind closed doors, the Notorious GM (again, hat tip to my editor) would surely go with the rebounding champion.

Would Wallace take Gasol over Andrew Bynum, Al Horford, Nene, and Joakim Noah? How about the next group of fives with Andrew Bogut, Al Jefferson, Brook Lopez, and Emeka Okafor?

Howard and Bynum aside, Vasquez could argue Gasol is equal to or better than any of these players. There'd be a counter argument, though.

Vasquez is stretching the truth to suggest Gasol would ever be superior to Howard. At least his hyperbole is for a good cause: a teammate.

--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment boxes below.

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Tuesday , Aug , 09 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Lakers Targetting Chris Paul?

With the Lakersshowing more signs that their basketball mileage is catching up with them, they need to inject speed into their lineup. And with Mike Brown planning to abandon most of the triangle offense, they need a solid point guard. ... [Chris Paul] has the edge over [Deron Williams] because of his youth (26) and uncanny speed.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: With the 2012 season in limbo, many have turned to speculating on next year’s free agent class.

One rumour keeps making the rounds: Chris Paul walks on the New Orleans Hornets to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers next July.

Before you roll your eyes at the new Collective Bargaining Agreement for not fixing the migration of stars to big markets, recognize that this makes sense for Paul.

The Lakers will have financial flexibility. They have $67 million in committed salary for the 2012-13 season, but the club holds options on $25 million for Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom.

While they won’t walk on Bynum, the purple-and-gold will gladly bolt on the final $8 million on Odom’s pact. There are other ways to trim salary.

Regardless of the system - hard or soft cap - the Lakers will be able to make a competitive offer for Paul.

New coach Mike Brown will replace the Triple-Post with a drive-and-kick system that relies on the point guard penetrating and running pick-and-rolls.

Sounds perfect for Paul, right?

The New Orleans Hornets can’t afford Paul. The league owns the team and the city can't generate enough revenue to pay for a top supporting cast.

So it’s generally accepted that Paul will leave New Orleans and join Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire in New York.

Not so fast.

Last I checked the Knicks played in the Eastern Conference. Each year, Paul would have to go through Miami’s Three Kings to reach the NBA Finals.

And when the Heat have a down year, Paul would likely face 2010 MVP Derrick Rose and his upstart Chicago Bulls. The Bulls, with their air-tight defense, are no pushovers.

So Paul’s best bet at championship glory may be out west with the Lakers.

--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

 

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Sunday , Aug , 07 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Bynum to ‘deliver’ Lakers Howard, Paul, or Williams?

Is Andrew Bynum the league's most intriguing and powerful trade chip? He's considered a top-10 center in a class led by Dwight Howard, but there's currently no more pivotal pivot than Bynum. He might be able to deliver 2012 prospective free agents Howard or Chris Paul or Deron Williams to L.A., compensation to those stars' respective teams and revive Kobe's title plans. Bynum's so valuable to the Lakers that his real value is in leaving them.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Kobe Bryant aside, Andrew Bynum’s position is as safe and secure as any member of the Los Angeles Lakers.

In short, a trade is unlikely. 

The Lakers fell back in love with the seven-footer after his impressive play during the second half of last season. Healthy and fit, Bynum was dominant on both ends and helped resuscitate the purple-and-gold.

This isn’t why he’s safe and secure, though.

Owners’s son and Chief Executive Meddler (CEM) Jim Buss views Bynum’s success as validation. Jim Buss has attached what little reputation he has as a hoops-man to his center.

The CEM claims to have drafted Bynum and urged GM Mitch Kupchak to stick with him when his play, health, and/or fitness faltered.

As Bynum’s stock rises, so does Jim Buss’. That’s the way the twisted CEM sees it. It explains why new coach Mike Brown, hired by the CEM, promptly promoted Bynum to co-superstar with Bryant.

Bynum is a symbol of the new power in Laker-nation. Jim Buss will be hesitant to trade him -even if it could fetch Dwight Howard, Chris Paul or Deron Williams.

--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

 

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Wednesday , Aug , 03 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Kobe Bryant’s silence for Jim Buss, not Mike Brown?

"We’ve talked. We’ve met, we’ve talked several times, met several times," Bryant said. "We have been in dialogue. There has been an open dialogue.”

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: It was the ‘how’.

Kobe Bryant had a problem with how Mike Brown was hired, and not the decision to have the defensive tsar replace Phil Jackson on the Los Angeles Lakers’ bench.

The Black Mamba was, at a minimum, expecting a heads up from management/ownership. Perhaps even the chance to offer input.

This is standard operating procedure between team and superstar in the NBA. Team wants to make a major personnel move. Team asks premier player‘s opinion. Of course, what the team does what that opinion is anybody’s guess. 

But Bryant was never asked about Brown. Not a phone call. Not a text. Not a face-to-face. Not an email. Nothing.

The reason was simple: Brown was Jim Buss’ choice. And Jim Buss, the owner’s son and new lead executive, has a specific agenda for the team.

Long-time assistant Brian Shaw was passed over for Jackson’s job -perhaps with valid reason. After giving twelve years to the organization as a player and assistant coach, Shaw deserved better than to learn he didn’t get the job via ESPN.

And Buss seems determined to promote Andrew Bynum, the talented but injury-prone center, from supporting piece to co-star status with Bryant.

So Bryant probably had nothing nice to say. So he went silent.

Fair enough.

--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

 

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Tuesday , Jul , 26 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Dwight Howard would ‘Never’ join LeBron, D-Wade, Bosh, and Heat

Seems that a guy like Dwight Howard, nearly 7-feet tall and answering to "Superman," would be a perfect fit at Comic-Con, where he talked about both his budding career as a voice over actor and his basketball future. What about the Lakers? "That's everybody's question," he told the "Kick" audience. "I am wearing purple ... but that's Rock's outfit." The Heat? "Never."

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: It would be like the Greasers combining forces with the Socs', or the Capulets breaking bread with the Montagues, or Paris Hilton ‘re-friending’ Kim Kardashian.

Or, like a want-to-be-superhero telling the Comic-Con masses he’d never join the villains, the bad guys, the capped-out Miami Heat.

Give Howard credit. He can charm a crowd -even if that crowd spends weekends playing D&D, Call of Duty, and comparing the old Star Wars trilogy to the new Star Wars trilogy.

However, this is bigger than Comic-Con. Howard’s current team, the Orlando Magic, hate the cross-state Heat. They hate Chris Bosh, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade, known as the 'Three Kings'. And they hate arrogant Heat exec' Pat Riley.

There's little Howard can do. The NBA is locked-out. His Magic will lack the pieces, unless Gilbert Arenas and Hedo Turkoglu rediscover their past form, to topple the Eastern Conference champion Heat.

Howard will opt-out of his contract next July and likely join another superstar. Perhaps something happens with the Lakers -if Jerry Buss falls out of love with Andrew Bynum. Perhaps he links up with Deron Williams and the Nets.

One thing is certain: Howard would 'never' join Miami.

--Oly Sandor.


Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

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Friday , Jul , 22 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Bynum’s ego a problem for Lakers?

His conscience is paralyzed. His sense of entitlement is blinding. So, no, actually, I wasn't surprised to see this week's photos of Andrew Bynum leaving his convertible sitting across two handicapped parking spaces while he shopped at an upscale grocery store in Westchester.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Is Andrew Bynum’s ego a problem for the Los Angeles Lakers?

Well, some think so. Today, Bill Plaschke, a veteran writer with the L.A. Times, alleges that Bynum parking in a handicap spot isn’t a temporary lapse of judgement.

Plaschke thinks Bynum ‘suffers from a disability of maturity’. He reports that this isn’t the first time the seven-footer has been caught in a handicap spot. He also calls him out for delaying surgery to accommodate a trip to South Africa and rehabbing injuries at the Playboy Mansion.

As an outsider, it’s hard to get a read on the Lakers. They’re fractured by power politics, internal dissent, personal agendas, and media bias.

The recent Bynum backlash is no different. Some see him as an ally of Jim Buss, the club’s new lead executive and son of owner Jerry Buss.

Right now, Jim Buss isn’t popular. He gets the blame for pushing out Coach Phil Jackson, hiring his replacement in Mike Brown, and alienating superstar Kobe Bryant.

Bynum, right or wrong, fair or not, is vulnerable due to his relationship with Jim Buss.

Plaschke, however, provides an objective view into the complex world of Laker-nation. He’s been with the L.A. Times for years. He’s won numerous awards. He’s a regular contributor to ESPN. And, while we're at it, he volunteers with Big Brothers.

Plaschke’s criticism seems reasonable. Bynum has been given much by the Lakers -perhaps too much. And he has yet to fulfill expectations on-and-off court.

Now is as good a time as any to start. Bynum is a 23-year old man. Perhaps he should act like it.  

--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

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Wednesday , Jul , 20 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

From Rupaul to The ‘Big 2′: Shaq vs. Bosh is very personal

“The Miami Heat, they’ve got a lot of great players, the `Big 2.’ They will be back,” O’Neal said from Louisiana during the broadcast, when discussing the NBA finals and how Dallas was able to beat Miami for the title. “LeBron James is taking a lot of criticism, but I know LeBron very well. He hears everything that everyone is saying, so I think he’s going to come back and have an MVP year this year.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: As a player, Shaquille O'Neal took personal shots at Chris Bosh –you remember the RuPaul scandal.

Today, Shaq put Bosh on notice that nothing will change now that he's a TNT analyst with Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, Chris Webber, and host Ernie Johnson.

While on-air as part of NBATV's preview of the 2011-12 schedule, 'The Big Broadcaster' referred to the Miami Heat as having the 'Big 2' of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

Of course, the Heat is known for their Big 3 of Bosh, James, and Wade. So it's clear O'Neal was taking another run at the four-man.

Here's the question: why?

O'Neal needs to prove his worth to TNT. So he re-ignited an old beef with Bosh and generated publicity for the show and himself.

O'Neal has issues with other elite posts, too. The master-in-the-middle has battled Dwight Howard over more than the Superman emblem and has gone at Andrew Bynum since he was a teenager.

No doubt about it, Shaq planned today's attack on Bosh. And we, the media and fans, are giving him exactly what he wanted: headlines.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

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Wednesday , Jul , 20 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Did Andrew Bynum really park in a handicap spot?

HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Ah, Andrew you' re not injured, so there's no need to use the handicap spot.

Probasketballtalk.com has a picture of Andrew Bynum, the often-injured center for the Los Angeles Lakers, parking his luxury automobile in a spot reserved for those with a handicap or disability.

Surely, Bynum had a mental lapse. Perhaps he thought he was still injured - who can blame the lumbering seven-footer with all the time he spent on injured reserve – and mistakenly put his 'ride' in the handicap spot.

Or, Bynum could be a real son of a-you-know-what -especially since the parking lot is practically empty.

Click the link (provided courtesy of probaksetballtalk.com), take a look at the picture, and get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

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Saturday , Jul , 09 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Kobe forced to share Lakers with Bynum?

Yes, aging star Kobe Bryant will still be a part of the equation, but he was put on notice over the summer when Jim Buss hired new coach Mike Brown without so much as a brief discussion with Bryant. The message is clear: Brown is Bynum's coach, and the team belongs to the young center as well.

 
HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Only the Los Angeles Lakers.

Only the dysfunctional purple-and-gold would chase away a Hall of Fame sideline boss, strip a once-in-a-generation talent of his franchise-face status, and hand the reins to a talented but injury-prone center.
 
While the Lakers didn’t fire Phil Jackson, they made it easy for him to leave. Management, specifically Jim Buss, made The Zen take a pay cut last summer –despite winning consecutive championships.
 
Then management, specifically Jim Buss, meddled. Then management, specifically Jim Buss, prodded, intruded, and got petty.
 
So Jackson walked. Perhaps he’s meditating in some remote hideaway. Perhaps he’s penning another best seller on his life. Perhaps he and girlfriend Jeannie Buss –yes that would be Jim’s sister and Jerry the owner's daughter- are plotting a comeback.
 
Bottom line: Jackson left, in part, because of Jim Buss. The money, spotlight, and chance to win further championships weren’t worth dealing with the owner’s pushy son.
 
Alienating a coach is one thing. Alienating the talent is worse. Reports indicate that Jim Buss has alienated Kobe Bryant.
 
Before the lockout, the Lakers informed Bryant, one of the game’s great players, he was no longer the team's undisputed top dog. Bryant was then informed he’d share this role with Andrew Bynum.
 
Bynum, when healthy, is a top center. His play during the second half of last season was superb. Bynum, however, is fragile, spending significant time on injured reserve.
 
Then there’s the optics of sharing. Bryant wouldn’t share with the most dominant player in NBA history, Shaquille O’Neal, and instead engaged in a feud that broke up a dynasty.
 
Why would he share with Bynum, a still unproven entity? Well, he won’t.
 
Bryant has recently been silent. He hasn’t commented on the lockout, the hiring of Mike Brown or anything Laker-related since losing to the Dallas Mavericks in the second round of the playoffs. 

His silence is powerful.  Bryant knows Jim Buss pushed Phil Jackson - his friend, mentor, and coach – out. Bryant knows Jim Buss hired Brown, in part, because he’d increase Bynum’s role. And Bryant knows Bynum is Jim Buss’ guy.

So this is politics. Jim Buss never had a job in basketball before getting handed the keys to the Lakers from his father. 
 
Jim Buss, to his credit, drafted Bynum. He believes Bynum’s development and success will validate his standing within the game.
 
Here’s what Jim Buss doesn’t get: Bynum must to earn the top dog mantle. The process must be organic and natural. Or it will wreck the team.
 
Right now, Jim Buss is forcing Bynum on Bryant and the Lakers. The players will resent Jim Buss. They’ll resent Bynum. They'll resent the politics.
 
Only the Los Angeles Lakers could be such a mess without having played a single game.

--Oly Sandor.

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