Fridays Are For Me

I love transparency, mostly since it's totally state-sanctioned narcissism. That and, owing to the everyman-ish quality of blogging, I figure that my plight belongs to all you as well.

Today's concerns: Constant internet barrage. When I was with FanHouse, I checked every rumor page obsessively. Ballhype was my goddess, and anything with the slightest bit of bite to it was worth a short post. That was how the gig worked. Now, in my new capacity, I'm able to relax a little more. I post about once a day, and can afford to take is easy on loose ends and endless conjecture. I know that this puts me at odds with the trends in the sports journalism industry—and rest assured, new bosses, I'm still on top of the news. But I've begun to wonder what would happen if one followed the Association in a less gossip-y fashion.

I'm not exactly sure how this would work, or what it would look like. News now breaks 'round the clock, which means the morning paper model is gone forever. But I do know that the Gasol and Marion trades have emboldened me a little to, well, pay less attention. Before this week, I'd always assumed that most trades begin with rumors. Thousands of rumors don't pan out each year; plenty are the product of wishful thinking, or a need to fill up space. You've also got to figure that, when something real is leaked (or really is leaked), it's because someone on the inside wanted it out there. It's to generate interest or, as Barry Reeves suggested to me the other day, gauge public reaction.

With these gigantic trades this week, we heard nothing. No one heard nothing. Marion found out from the television, GM's around the league were miffed that they hadn't gotten to bid on Gasol. So Marion's trade demand at the beginning of the season was worth covering. Rad. But other than that, and the vague suggestion that Gasol's been on the block forever, what trail is there leading up to this epoch-altering transaction? It's like fine, there's another Jason Kidd scenario that someone worked out on the Trade Machine. A source alluded to a possible interest. LeBron said he'd like some help. I worry that all this "news" is forest-for-the-trees stuff, if not outright ghost chasing.

Yes, I'd like to know when something's imminent. But at this point, the line between likely and merely possible has been so blurred, I'm not sure if we can find it again. Is there any real anticipation left in our reading of these rumors? All that's left is our shared belief that we're all insiders, smarter than the mainstream media, in league with general managers, etc. We're not. And if a franchise is remotely competent, we should attach an ulterior motive to anything that's supposedly real. That's how politics work, right?

(Or, am I just too cynical to throw in a "that's how political blogs work"?)

One other thing I wanted to get out there: I had a piece up on Deadspin this week that earned me some death threats; some people, mostly from Boston, thought I'd praised Kobe's handling of his Los Angeles situation, and trashed KG for his stiff-lipped time in Minny and classy move to Beantown. That wasn't it at all. The point was that I missed the semi-insane Garnett, and couldn't wait to see some of that enter Kobe's micro-managed universe.

So when I watched Los Angeles/Atlanta, it was gratifying to see an (admittedly injured) Bryant barely shoot when his wasn't falling, toss crazy passes every which way, and make sure Lamar Odom got nice and loose. Gasol looks positively amped to be out of Memphis (no offense to the city, which I dig quite a bit), but Odom moving over to the three is akin to Diaw getting free. I haven't seen him that loose and creative since his Clippers days, and that effective since that All-Star year in Miami. Maybe that's a longtime Odom enthusiast foaming at the mouth, but anyone who's dreamt of what Lamar could be -- and that would be just about anyone who has heard of the guy -- should be very, very happy.

It comes down to this: Kobe forces things. Sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a bad way. Even when he holds back, it's an act of clenched discipline. I have a hunch that, with this current team, he might learn how to a flow a little less deliberately, to realize that laying off the super-ego isn't the same as playing without conscience. Phil will be proud, and Kobe will make his enemies even more scared—and his supporters less nervous.

Finally, from the land of WTF:

"Our dad, Dr. Ernest Garlington is innocent of conspiracy to commit murder of Ray Allen's step-father."

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At 2/08/2008 2:09 PM, Blogger jbruddy said...

Actually, Odom is still playing the 4, where he is a better fit in the lineup. Radmanovic is now at the 3, and he's playing more comfortably than ever.

At 2/08/2008 2:12 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Whatever, I never claimed to be an expert. Gasol opens things up for Odom. And they'll open up even more when Bynum's back.

Look, I could delete and edit part of this, and then apologize a bunch. But my cat just pissed on the bed, there's nothing in the fridge, and I forgot to pay my rent. So everyone, have at me. I'm wrong and don't care who knows it. I'm wrong as hell and not going to take it anymore.

At 2/08/2008 2:18 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...


At 2/08/2008 2:35 PM, Blogger jbruddy said...

Transparency it is. Hope your day gets better. By the way, could you make out what it is Omar asks Donnie in the car towards the end of episode 5? This is the scene right after Donnie switches the radio from the Clay Davis interview back to the soul station. At the 52:36 mark.

At 2/08/2008 3:08 PM, Blogger Hardwood Paroxysm said...

Thing is, even with Rad Vlad in the starting spot, he's more of a secondary 2 guard, a classic 2 than a 3. Odom's playing the traditional 3 spot, they're just functioning with gasol at a hybrid 4/5. It's pretty much a point, a shooting guard, a small forward, a strong forward, and Kobe, being Kobe.

The question will be when Bynum gets back whether they should bring Odom off the bench, because Bynum, Odom, and Gasol on the court at the same time is going to get awfully clunky.

At 2/08/2008 3:14 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

This gets down to the essence of Lamar Odom, which is one of my favorite topics. His All-Star year in Miami, he played the four. But that was the East. When he was with the Clippers, he was more of a 2/3 almost. He's older now, but don't forget how insanely mobile, playmake-y, guard-ish he is.

I'm biased, though, since that frontline is pretty much my NBA wet dream.

At 2/08/2008 3:49 PM, Blogger MC Welk said...

You should don some Bono The Fly sunglasses for you SNews headshot.

At 2/08/2008 4:18 PM, Blogger Bstone said...

Odom goes to the three no question, I thought. Certainly Phil doesn't play Fisher/Farmar-Kobe-Vlad-Gasol-Bynum and bring Lamar off the bench. Having he and Gasol draw big men outside is going to turn Bynum into an even bigger beast.

Oh, and the Clippers send Sam Cassell to Boston, the Kings send Artest to Golden State, the Warriors send Patty O'Bryant and Monta Ellis to the Clippers and Brandan Wright/Croshere to Sacramento, and Boston sends Posey/Pollard to the Clippers and Eddie House to Sacramento. That's what my sources tell me.

At 2/08/2008 5:24 PM, Blogger Mr. Six said...

Isn't the 3/4 issues a bit of a red herring, since Odom plays a role in the triangle, not a position. (For those who didn't catch it through TrueHoop, I thought this break down of Gasol in the triangle was a great read.)

That trade makes no sense for Oakland or Boston.

xzkjqxze: xerxes-zeke-kevin-johnson-quixote zoo experience

At 2/08/2008 6:33 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Also, wasn't Odom supposed to be the next Pippen in this offense? And wouldn't the presence of Gasol free him up to stop banging, which is part of what's bringing him down?

At 2/08/2008 7:53 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

I wanted so bad for Odom to be the next Pippen, or at least the zeroth Toni Kukoc. But watching him play in the same lineup as Gasol, he does seem unburdened.

Kobe-Vlad-Odom-Gasol-Walton equals MJ-Pip-Kukoc-Rodman-Harper? Actually, there is no good parallel for that lineup, but I want to see it on the floor, repping Serbia, Catalonia, NYC, Dead shows, and NOT PHILLY F'N LOWER MERION, and then the pentagram offense is born.

At 2/09/2008 1:49 AM, Blogger Bstone said...

@ MR6

Ostensibly, though, if the Warriors (as plenty of people seem to indicate ) are interested in Artest, wouldn't they likely be mortgaging some of the future, which seems to be the Western force du jour these days, to win now? And if Nellie can put the squeeze down on Mullin, I could see them moving Wright. Besides, not-entirely-crazy-Artest>JRich.

And for Boston, they want Cassell, but aren't going to get him barring a buyout or a four team swing deal.

Although the real point of proposing such a trade was to point out that any one can can dick around with the trade machine to create scenarios. And if that person has any access to a professional basketball team, all they have to do is inquire and not get shot down for that to be "talks".

At 2/09/2008 2:01 PM, Blogger Kaifa said...

I forgot where you dicussed the multifunctionality of Josh Smith and the like, but Odom fits right into this discussion with his versatility.

If I remember correctly you discussed how the multi-talented players, to be valuable to a team, should either be put into a specialized role or be allowed to roam and create chaos a la Smith in Atlanta.

I think that Odom might be the test case for the new wave of do-it-alls. His All-Star season in Miami he was asked to be a rebounder first and foremost since they had Wade to create and Butler as a great finisher.

With him as the Lakers' second option on a team full of holes (Smush Parker, Kwame Brown, Walton as full-time starter) he was expected to do it all again and couldn't meet expectations. But as soon as Bynum emerged (and to an extent also the positive effect Fisher and Farmar had on the Lakers' offense), you could see the change in Odom's effectiveness.

I believe that he will be even more valuable when Bynum returns. For the expected starting line-up of him/Gasol/Bynum/Fisher/Kobe he will fill all the gaps. And he already has had some great plays together with Gasol as well.

But more importantly Odom will be the key to make several different line-ups possible depending on the opponent. Through him they can match up with quick teams like the Warriors or big teams like the Jazz and still have him create a mismatch.

Of course Odom is an expensive fourth option. But I believe that with his unique mix of talent this might be close to the perfect situation for him to show a little bit of everything and that being exactly what the team needs from him.

At 2/09/2008 2:15 PM, Blogger Jason said...


At 2/09/2008 2:32 PM, Blogger Kaifa said...

Via Truehoop, a miked-up Mo-Nuts will particpate in the D-League h.O.R.S.E contest:


At 2/09/2008 6:32 PM, Blogger Mr. Six said...

@Bstone: I just don't see the Dubs giving up Monta, even for Artest, whom they might lose at the end of the year anyway, since he's a free agent. Which also means that they could pick him up in the summer if they want him that much.

Cassell can't replace what Posey and House are doing for that team right now. An already thin roster would become anemic. They only have 13 players; after the trade 11 and no back up center.

At 2/10/2008 12:34 PM, Blogger Nate Jones said...

If you watch the Warriors at all, you would know there would be no way in hell that the would give Monta and Brandon Wright for Artest. Brandon Wright alone, yes. But Monta is not going anywhere. He is an absolute stud, and at this point much more valuable than Artest. What the Warriors need more than anything is a mobile 4 like Ty Thomas or David Lee to run with Biedrens. Could you imagine Ty Thomas in that system? Talk about wet dreams...

At 2/10/2008 12:43 PM, Blogger Nate Jones said...

Oh yeah, and Odom will be fine at the three. Odom thrives when he surrounded by good players and where he can just be in the background. When Bynum started playing well Odom was able to sit back and do his thing without the pressure of being the Lakers number two scorer. He's never going to be that guy, but that doesn't take away from his value to the team. He's going to get you ten boards a night, score double figures, get five or so assists, and play pretty good defense (when Phil doesn't have him helping off the perimeter to stop penetration like he did in the Pistons game that left Tay Prince wide open). The key to being a great team in the playoffs has always been the ability to defend and hit the boards. The Lakers will be able to do both with that front line. Pau is not a great one on one defender, but when Bynum get's back he will be able to make up for his mistakes, just like he was making up for mistakes before he got hurt (ask Chris Paul how difficult it is to get a shot up when Bynum is lurking in the lane). And they definitely have the boards covered, as Odom, Bynum, and Pau are all pretty damn good rebounders. Especially Bynum and Odom. That front court would be pretty good with scrubs starting next to them in the backcourt, let alone Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher. I just hope Bymum comes back healthy and ready to roll.

At 2/10/2008 3:08 PM, Blogger Bstone said...

@ NJ

Again, I wasn't really advocating the trade (although I've somehow been suckered into arguing for it). I was using the point that any beat writer can hear from a coach that they have interest in XXXX player (in this case Ron Artest and/or Sam Cassell) and then use the trade machine to create a feasible scenario.

I don't see how this is that much different than the Trailblazers potentially coughing up Travis Outlaw to get Devin Harris, essentially so the Mavs could end up with Jason Kidd. It's silly prospecting, but it's also what makes the NBA trading deadline fun.


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