Jul 20, 2009


I can't trust media. What they report as facts are often skewed or incomplete.

After further research, it seems that the 4 year contract I spoke of (4 years $36 million) is inconclusive. Some sources (Ric Bucher) report that the 3 year deal is the only one that Lamar was offered. Some LA Times writers, who are presumably more in the know, have made statements that there were definitely two contracts offered. What seems to be the case is that if the 4 year deal was indeed on the table, it was a 3 year guaranteed with a team option for the 4th year, with a $3 million buy out clause. In other words, the Lakers were guaranteeing Lamar 3 years of work for 30 million dollars, with either contract.

It makes sense why Lamar didn't sign. A 4 year deal, with a guaranteed $36 million, would almost certainly have been accepted. The Lakers have been firm in what they're willing to offer.

I previously stated that Ron Artest was given a 3 year deal at the mid level exception. Apparently its a 5 year deal, with a player option after 3 years. Again, way to go media. Who is a reliable source of information these days?

Jul 15, 2009

Lamar Odom

The facts:
- Lamar Odom wants a contract in the realm of 5 years, 50 million (10 million a year)
- Lakers offered Lamar Odom two potential contracts. 3 years, approximately 30 million total (10 million a year). 4 years, approximately 36 million (9 million a year).
- Lamar Odom and Jeff Schwartz (his agent) have not responded to the offer, not giving Jerry Buss (owner) any indication of their thoughts. Instead, they have used these offers as leverage in negotiating with other teams, namely the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat.

Since the beginning I felt this situation was extremely tough. Lamar is very good. He was good for us. He was integral in winning our championship - without him, we would not have won. He was more valuable than Bynum, Sasha, or Luke. And yet, all three of those players have gotten "bigger" contracts than what Lamar is being offered. I can see that from his perspective, this isn't fair. He feels that 50 million for 5 years is reasonable, considering Bynum's (potential - team option for last year) 58 million 4 year contract.

From the Lakers management side, this offer is more than generous. Lamar Odom is not our starter. Even if he is used more than Bynum, especially in crunch time, the team's commitment is to the development of our 22 year old 7 footer, with goals of using him more and more prominently. Given this fact, it makes little sense to place greater value on Odom. And with our contractual obligations to Bynum, Odom's importance to the team's future is meant to diminish. In a vacuum, it is probably fair to say Odom deserves to get paid more than Bynum, based on past performance. But we don't live in a vacuum, and NBA salaries especially don't live in a vacuum. Paying Odom anything costs the Lakers double because of the salary cap.

There are several arguments for and against the Bynum extension offered earlier in the season. On the one hand, his production has not warranted the money and years. His stand out games this season can be counted on your fingers. On the other hand, he has shown flashes of greatness. And at only 22, it is reasonable to assume he will get better, particularly more consistent. I've seen enough of "good" Bynum to be hopeful. I think the extension was a smart move, especially considering the 4th year team option.

From the LA Times: "Many in the Lakers' organization believe that Odom wants to accept Buss' offer -- and so do those close to Odom -- but he has failed to convince his agent." Agents have a tough job. How do you balance a client's personal desires with the priority of earning him as much money as possible? I'm assuming that's what an agent's purpose is. That's a fine line to walk.

Any offers Lamar gets from Dallas and Miami might be comparable to LA's, given state taxes. But that might be meaningless - Ariza took the same money per year, albeit for 2 more years, and went from the champions to a team in rebuilding mode. There seems to be only one possible "better" contract wrinkle. If Utah matches Portland's offer to Paul Milsap, Portland has a fair amount of cap space to sign Odom to the type of deal he wants. The Blazer's want Milsap though. They specifically structured their deal to make it difficult for Utah to match. They'd like to get rid of Boozer to make room for Milsap, but its hard to get value when everyone knows you're shopping him around. I think Utah is too hamstrung to sign Milsap before the deadline.

Let's assume Portland signs Milsap. Then, unlike Ariza, Odom really has no potential for a "better" contract. He'll want to come back to the negotiating table, and it is assumed Jerry Buss will lower his offer. From my perspective? Big mistake by Jeff Schwartz. That 4 year, 36 million offer is looking really appetizing right now.

Jul 6, 2009

Ron the Artest, not Jeremy

We've signed Artest to a 3 year deal for around 6 million a year. Same deal that was offered to Ariza, which he decided was not good enough. Instead he signed with Houston for essentially the same money, but for two more years. What is that, $12 million more guaranteed, for two more years of work? Fantastic job Ariza and friends! Not only did you fail to stay on a championship team, you didn't get a better contract for it. That is, unless you thought this was last contract you'd ever get. The peak of Trevor Ariza as a basketball player: 5 years, mid level exception contract, when he's still 24?

I tend to think more highly of Ariza than apparently he, and everyone around him, thinks. I posit that after the 3 years the Lakers offered him, he could have easily gotten another contract. Considering this, why spurn the Lakers and go to Houston?

The only saving grace I can hope for is that we don't know the whole story. Maybe the Lakers disrespected Ariza. Maybe there are other incentives in Houston. Maybe we were considering putting him back on the bench (remember, he's a bench player?). Whatever the reason, I am sad that Ariza isn't in LA anymore. His hustle was fantastic, he played within himself and did all the right things. Perfect role player. Best of luck in Houston.

Let's get to what matters now: Ron Artest. On the surface I'm a bit hesitant. Ron did show maturity while in Houston, but sometimes a little bit of the crazy came out, like his running up to Kobe after a play. These things are not helpful, and hopefully he can tone it down. With Kobe and Phil leading the team, Artest will be under fiercest and smartest leaders in the game today. They will keep him in line.

Basketball skill wise, I was never convinced of him being all that great. He does play decent defense. The biggest bonus that Artest brings is his toughness. He won't back down from a challenge. He won't back down from a fight. Artest is one of those players that other NBA players are scared to mess with. We can be assured of physicality, trash talking, and a greater "terror" factor.

Finally, 3 years, $6 mil a year? That's like what we'll be paying Luke Walton for the same duration. I'll take it.

I won't say I prefer having Artest to Ariza, but it's hard to not see this making our team better. This isn't like signing Vince Carter in lieu of Turkoglu.