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Tag:Steve Blake
Posted on: December 29, 2010 12:17 pm
 

Kobe must stop shooting, but Lakers will be fine

Kobe Bryant must curtail his shooting as his percentage dips with the Lakers struggling, but come playoffs? They'll be fine. 
Posted by Matt Moore





The Lakers are 7-8 this year when Kobe Bryant shoots more than 20 times. The defending NBA champions who are 21-10 overall, have a losing record when Kobe Bryant shoots more than 20 times. On the season, Bryant is shooting 44% and 33% from the perimeter. In those 15 games where he's shot 20 attempts or more, he's shooting just 41% and 30% from the arc. 

So, in all honesty, Kobe's got to stop shooting. 

Don't count on it. 

Before the season started, there were discussions with the Lakers training staff and coaches about Bryant's role in the offense, and the hope that he would come to accept a decreased role in the offense. Instead, Bryant seems more intent on shooting his way out of the hole the Lakers have found themselves in.  He has responded to the Lakers' struggles by yelling at teammates, demanding improvement, and then going out and not letting the most talented team in the league be the most talented team in the league. 

This is the worst part of Bryant's offensive kamikaze failures. The Lakers' offense features the personnel, talent, and system to allow them to overcome any individual challenge. Is the defense denying Pau Gasol the entry pass (while he's once again failing to establish position)?  Lamar Odom off the cut should pull the defense apart to allow Gasol better angles. Has the defense compacted to shut down on interior movement?  Shannon Brown, Ron Artest, Steve Blake, and Derek Fisher will make them pay from the perimeter. 

Bryant's refusal manage his game when it's not falling (or when his pinky is bothering him) has to concern Lakers fans not only about this season, but about how the rest of his career will shape up as his skills continue to deteriorate. But at the end of this, after three losses of double digits by the Lakers, are they in trouble?

Come on. It's December. 

This Lakers team had troubles in the 2009 playoffs. They slacked off in the regular season last year. And while this stretch of games feels considerably worse than their issues last year which were all coasting, Phil Jackson has five months to get the team right. This has never been a team to sprint to the finish. Or the middle. Or really at all.  For a team driven by such an obsessive as Kobe Bryant, the Lakers haven't held an all-out attitude.  But they still have two rings to show for it. Trying all the time and remaining focused hasn't been their path. But being taller, more talented, and more experienced has gotten them where they want to go, regardless of how they perform in the winter months. Spring is what matters for this team. 

The questions are about whether they'll have home court advantage. But with the experience this team has, it may not need it. There's not a dominant home court advantage for a contending team, unless you consider Oklahoma City such a team. The Lakers just need to get a top four seed, not the top seed. As long as they're ready for May, that's what they care about. 

That said, the Lakers danced with Bryant shooting them out of games in the playoffs last season, but managed to survive it. (Go check out his numbers from Game 7 of the Finals.) This year, with an improved Eastern Conference and now the West making a strong show, at some point, something's got to give. The coaching staff is going to have to get Bryant to buy into trusting his teammates in a way he never has before. In the past, he's relied on them to fill in the gaps of his game. Now, he may need to rely on them to carry him for stretches. Something tells me that's going to be an awkward conversation for the Mamba. 
Posted on: November 4, 2010 1:38 pm
Edited on: November 4, 2010 1:49 pm
 

Bynum will start when he gets back

Posted by Matt Moore

Andrew Bynum should be back soon. No, really. Quit looking at us like that. He's seriously on track this time. It's different this time! Honest!

Anyway, the question is, with Lamar Odom playing lights out, and the Lakers, you know, destroying everything in their path, Will Bynum start when he returns? Well, it would interrupt chemistry, and Odom's definitely earned the minutes, and you don't fix it if it's not broken, so naturally yes! He will start when he gets back. From ESPNLA :
"We like what we see from these five guys [in the starting lineup]; however, there are extenuating circumstances with Drew," Lakers head coach Phil Jackson said. "He has a knee that [puts him] in a situation [where] he's got to get himself prepped before a ballgame. He wears a brace because of it and, as a consequence, once he's warmed up you hate to have a guy sit down for 15 minutes and cool off and have to start all over again."
So thanks for everything, Lamar, but we kind of need Bynum to keep that knee warmed up for the ten to fifteen minutes he's available.

I'm kidding, of course, it's a reasonable approach, and besides, Odom's never chafed at coming off the bench. This team is deep enough, they could have a gigantic asteroid smash through their chemistry and still beat most opponents by 15. That's how good this Lakers team is. And when Bynum gets back, they'll be even better.
Posted on: October 27, 2010 10:53 am
Edited on: October 27, 2010 1:16 pm
 

The Game Changer 10.27.10

Blake the hero, Ray Allen the alone, and Steve Nash is a sad panda in  the debut of the Game Changer.
Posted by Matt Moore


Each game is made up of elements which help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the night before's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what lead to the results you'll see in the box scores. This the Game Changer.

THE BIG ONE: Celtics Down Heat 88-80


We've already told you about what the Heat did wrong in frames . But if we look back at the Celtics' 88-80 win over the Heat, we need to examine the real cause for the first of what will likely be many downfalls for this Heat team as they figure out how to play together: the Celtics' excellence in execution. Boston brought their A-Game last night, and their comfort with one another was evident from the get-go. That was most evident when we look back at the game flow of rotations and see that Boston ran off a 7-0 run with Nate Robinson, Marquis Daniels, Paul Pierce, Glen Davis, and Jermaine O'Neal. That's a astarter and four backups running off seven on a rotation for the Heat that featured Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, and for a solid minute and a half, LeBron James as well. Another thing to take note of is that Ray Allen wound up with a -2 for the night in plus/minus. Now, that's largely because he was on the floor for the Heat's big run in the second half, and the Celtics wouldn't have won without his clutch threes. but if we're looking at how Boston was succesful, it was with big lineups that bruised Miami inside and worked their way to the line.

Boston's defense was everywhere and threw in a few more wrinkles. Typically the Boston defense rotates to challenge the pick and roll high, at the elbow or mid-post. But the Celtics, knowing James is too fast to attack at that point, chose to put the stop on James right at the rim, leading to two misses and a charge. And it wasn't just James that found a hard time at the rim. Boston collapsed in on any attempt by the Heat to get point inside. And how did Miami respond? The Heat took 50 jumpers to Boston's 38. Pretty much, Boston attacked the Heat in high efficiency areas and forced them to take low-percentage shots. And the Heat just kind of... went with it. And instead of recognizing that approach wasn't working, they just shot more contested jumpers.

On offense? Boston did what it does. Rondo's distribution, being able to drive and kick, and skip-rotate to open jumpers on the far side of the floor, set the tone for the Celtics. When you've got the kinds of weapons the Celtics do, and the Heat were supposed to have, and a distributor, things get much easier. Glen Davis was huge for the C's, with 13 points and 5 rebounds on 6 of 7 shooting. The Drunken Seal was simply hitting from everywhere, including his patented falling reverse. The Heat? They had no one of that ilk, and it showed.

The Heat's defense actually wasn't terrible, until right about when their offense showed up. They started to hit shots, then started allowing Boston to trade buckets. If it wasn't for Boston's turnovers, the gap could have been much bigger. Want the biggest indication of how out of whack Boston made Miami? The team that was supposed to get out and run constantly in order to help their super-talented athletes be themselves, had fewer transition attempts than Boston, 10 for the Heat to 12 for the C's.  Boston does a great job of attacking just long enough on the rebound, even if they've already lost the board, to prevent th break. There are no outlet passes. You're just happy to have the ball.

Problem for the Heat? They didn't have anything they could do with it once they got it.

GO-GO-GADGET LINE OF THE NIGHT:

Luis Scola: 18 points, 16 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 4 turnovers, 7-18 shooting, +7 plus/minus

FRAMED FAILURE:


Hey, look Miami. It's okay. You have a lot to learn together. You need to work on so much to get in your rhythm. And Boston just hit a bunch of tough shots. I mean, what could you have done? Outside of, you know, not allowing Ray Allen to be wide freaking open :












Soundbyte Mania:

Steve Nash after the game on where the Suns are and how things are looking after their loss to the Blazers last night 106-92. Via Ben Golliver.



HERO OF THE DAY:


The Lakers needed something big. Steve Blake delivered from downtown. This is what happens when you're a member of the Lakers. Then, Blake goes to the other end and gets the key stop on Aaron Brooks, who decided to try and force something up even though he's not big enough to ride Space Mountain.




Follow F&R on Twitter at @CBSSportsNBA and check out our RSS feed . This has been your daily edition of the Game Changer.

Posted on: October 27, 2010 1:55 am
Edited on: October 27, 2010 2:38 am
 

Lakers' poise overcomes Rockets' hard work

Lakers overcome tough contest by Rockets thanks to Shannon Brown as Kobe struggles from the field.
Posted by Matt Moore

The Rockets worked hard. They hustled. They shot well. They drove, and dished. They gave up offensive boards, but they worked on defense. They forced Kobe Bryant into a hard night. They gave everything they had for three quarters.

And it only took one quarter for the Lakers to show why they're the champs. After the Rockets led by as many as 15 in the second half, the Lakers made a furious comeback behind an explosive performance from Shannon Brown, then iced it with a Steve Blake three with less than twenty seconds to go. Brown went ballistic in the third with a barrage of threes and finished with 16 points. With one last possesion and less than ten seconds, Steve Blake made a terrific defensive stop on Aaron Brooks under the basket and the Lakers walked out with a 112-110 win.

Take a look at Shannon Brown's shot chart from our CBSSports.com GameTracker :



The Rockets had solid performances from Kevin Martin in the loss, with 26 points. Aaron Brooks, outside of that last possession, was also brilliant with 24 points and 9 assists. The key for the Rockets? Turnovers. 19 turnovers to LA's 11.

Yao Ming was held to his 24-minute limit, fouling out in the 24th minute, exactly. That's one way to get the most for your minutes. Yao was great early, fighting off Pau Gasol and grabbing rebounds, but Lamar Odom decided to show for LA, and when that happens, they're impossible to stop. 14 points, 10 rebounds for the Space Cadet, and a 112-110 win for the Lakers.

Kobe Bryant was 8 of 20 from the field for 27 points, but did have 5 rebounds and 7 assists. More on #24 in tomorrow's GameChanger.


Posted on: October 25, 2010 5:19 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2010 7:23 pm
 

The Laker Manifesto

This is the way your season ends. This is the way your season ends. This is the way your season ends. Not with a burn, but in gold. Posted by Matt Moore



You see that?

That's theirs. It was theirs last year. It's theirs this year -- tomorrow night, actually . And unless Boston figures a way to play better and stay healthy, or the Triad is actually as good as advertised , then it'll be theirs again this year. They are that good. They are that strong, that experienced, that focused and that deep. But most of all? They're that good.

And here's how it will happen.

This locker room, from all indications, is not unlike your typical successful business office. It's not a monkey bars meet-up like Oklahoma City, nor is it some sort of Reservoir Dogs luncheon like what I experienced in the Heat locker room. It's just like a succesful office. Guys hang around the water cooler, yucking it up about Monday Night Football or the obnoxious dude down the hall. There's a comfortable familiarity, everyone knows each other and Christmas parties are a blast. Everyone gets along, outside of the Slovenian dude who keeps blasting Drake at high volume on Fridays and can't figure out how to work the printer. Someone brings doughnuts, the kitchen's usually pretty clean, everyone pulls their weight, and the chatter about Glee is both in-depth and hilarious.

And everyone's afraid for their jobs except the two guys with corner offices.

There's a level of excellence demanded of this team, and it starts and stops with Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant. That mindset -- the professional, hyper-achieving without sacrificing the mind concept -- is what permeates. It makes the team disciplined and proficient, and it makes most of its players terrified of the day when they slip up in front of the bosses. You will not fail, because Bryant and Jackson will not allow you to fail.

The Triangle really isn't the right fit for most of this team. That's not only pretty certain, it's painfully obvious. Shannon Brown, when released from the shackles, looks like a dynamic, powerful, well-intentioned guard. Within its confines, he's like an ADD kid trying to sit through The English Patient . Lamar Odom? Everything he does is largely outside of the triangular box, filling in the gaps and playing loose within the margins. The only players that really benefit from the system are Kobe, Pau Gasol and Derek Fisher. Phil Jackson does too, of course. Because Jackson doesn't have to spend the time running out variation upon variation. It exists upon itself and all he has to do is teach it right. This isn't because he's lazy, far from it. It allows him to work on what is most important. Getting their minds and souls in the best place to compete. Sometimes that means kicking the dog down the stairs and to New Jersey to play backup point guard. And sometimes that means questioning the player in the press in order to get him to have the best run of his career, like Ron Artest. It's a balance that allows for focus.

Are there questions? Sure.

Starting and ending with Bryant's knee. It's not 100%, not close to it. But the man won a title with nine fingers and 1.5 knees. So I wouldn't let your breath out when he has the ball, kiddos. If there's one thing Bryant's shown, it's that he adapts. Constantly. Growing a post-game, grinding out the mid-range jumper, bombing from downtown. He'll do what the team needs, what he needs. There's no quit in Mamba, but there is a gigantic set of fangs.

Also, this team coasts. For days and weeks. Long stretches when they simply could not care less. Lazy passes, weak defense, a lack of hustle that would put Jerome James to shame. They know they don't have to care, and they don't. To the point where it's entirely possible they won't have the top seed in the West, depending on whether the team stays healthy. But they'll be there, and that's all they need.

The team relies on an absurd level of talent. While people scoff, cough and vomit towards the Triad in Miami, the Lakers employ two Hall-of-Famers, three quality starters (at least for the two weeks Fisher is awesome per year), a talented, if oft-injured, legitimate center in a league that doesn't feature many. Matt Barnes and Steve Blake, starters on other teams, are the seventh and eighth men on this one. It's a team loaded for any opportunity and its personnel fits its needs. Blake can spot up and run the offense (to the degree the Triangle needs running from the point). Barnes plays defense and will basically be a poor man's Odom. And the starting unit is so loaded, it doesn't matter.

Gasol may shoulder more of the load this year, and that's fine, since many considered him the best big in the league last year. That fadeaway touch jumper from the mid-block? You can't stop it. Usually, the only thing keeping Gasol from posting huge numbers is his comrade in arms taking jumpers.

And Kobe will shoot. That's who he is and his ego won't let him do anything else. He'll fire until there are no more bullets left. Then he'll throw the gun. No other player so often garners condemnation for his shot selection, then completely backs it up by nailing the game winner. He'll put his team in a position to lose by firing off-balance J after off-balance J, then hit the running game winner and come off smelling like roses. He played horribly in Game 7 of the Finals and still came off the hero. Because for all the misses, he's still the guy you want shooting and still the guy that can drop 50 if things go his way.

Fisher is a massive liability at both ends of the floor ... until he's not. Bynum is a half-player that cannot be relied on to make the tough play ... until he does. And no player better symbolizes the kind of transformation wearing the yellow and purple can have on you more than Ron Artest. From Crazy Pills to mental health spokesman, gunner without a conscience to brilliant complementary player, from loose cannon to lovable winner. This is what L.A. can do for you, what Staples Center and Lawrence Tanter can do for you, what the gold of a championship team can do for you.

And it will do it again.

Get excited about Miami's superstar power. Get riled up about Boston's defense, or the seemingly endless wave of up-and-comers. But know this.

Tomorrow night, the reigning champions will receive their rings, the second of three they intend to get. They have the pieces, they have the board, they have the plan, they have the manifesto, they have the leaders.

Now all they need is the game.


Posted on: September 20, 2010 9:04 pm
Edited on: September 21, 2010 10:06 am
 

Preseason Primer: Portland Trail Blazers

Portland loathes expectations. Expected to compete for the West title? Down in a burning wreckage of knee bones and perimeter shooting. Unable to hold on to the playoffs? Say hi to a massive winning streak to glide into the playoffs. They are never predictable, that's for certain. As we continue our Preseason Primers , we take a look at the noble hope of the Northwest, and if this is finally the season when things don't go wrong for the Blazers.

Portland Trailblazers

Training camp site: Portland, OR

Training camp starts:   Sept. 28 

Key additions:  Wesley  Matthews (free agent)

Key subtractions:   Juwan Howard (free agent), Martell Webster (trade), Luke Babbitt, Armon Johnson (free agent)

Likely starting lineup: Andre Miller, PG; Brandon Roy, SG; Nicolas Batum, SF, LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, Marcus Camby, C 

Player to watch:   Greg Oden. Guy's gotta get healthy sometime, right? Oden has been and remains the missing piece of the puzzle for the Blazers, even with the addition of Marcus Camby. If Oden can reach a significant portion of his massive untapped potential, he could be a difference maker for the Blazers, completing the team that's been constructed over the past five years. It's unknown if Oden will even be available for camp, or how much he'll be participating. But even that says something. Oden's got to bounce back hard, and get back to where he showed flashes last year prior to the injury. That's the only way the Blazers can make the jump they need to this year. 

Chemistry quiz:   Who's the ticking time bomb? That's the question, and it's multiple choice, with several "A and B and C" type choices. Last year, Andre Miller and Nat McMillan blew up at one another during a low point. The two reconciled things and seem to be on better ground, but there's been consistent trade chatter involving Miller since he was signed as a marquee free agent in 2009. And that's just the start! Travis Outlaw and Steve Blake, two longtime Blazers were traded last year, along with Martell Webster before this year's draft. And, oh, yeah, Rudy Fernandez is involved in a messy, gross situation where he's demanding a trade and talking about sitting out the next season , even after rejecting a trade to New Orleans. This is all before we get into LaMarcus Aldridge's longterm problems with the club, and the attention showered on Greg Oden constantly. That said, McMillan has done a tremendous job keeping the team together and helped lead them to the playoffs last year. If he can keep them together this year, it'll be another award-worthy performance.

Injury watch:   Ha. Ha ha ha. Hahahahahaha. Sorry. That's mean.

Well, let's see. Brandon Roy struggled with an ankle towards the end of last year, but that should be fine. Greg Oden is recovering from a broken patella, slowly. Joel Przybilla also broke his patella and tore ligaments, then reinjued it in the shower. Marcus Camby is no spring chicken. This team is one bad turn, a helicopter and a few tents from becoming a M*A*S*H* unit. If any team is worthy of karmic bonuses resulting in a clean bill of health this year, it's Portland.

Camp battles:   Center's going to be a big one throughout the year, but with Oden not near 100% by any stretch of the imagination, Camby has it on lockdown. Nicolas Batum continues to be one of the better developing small forwards in the league, and his overall play should keep him locked in above the rookie Babbitt. An interesting one? Point guard. Miller was terrific at points last year for the Blazers, but when he wasn't, Jerryd Bayless was increasingly better. Bayless is a fierce competitor. If he were to make a significant jump, that one could get ugly really quick.

Biggest strength:   Depth and Brandon Roy. That's the formula, which is why the injuries const them so much last year. Additionally, Brandon Roy's going to have to climb back out of the pool and onto the pavement of great players after a downturn last season. The Blazers absolutely must have Roy as a top ten player in the league if they're going to compete for the Western Conference Finals, along with all the other things they need to happen. But Roy has shown he can do it, and they still have considerable depth, arguably more, with Matthews to give Roy a breather, and young talent mixed in with the vets.

Glaring weakness:   You mean, besides spending more times on their backs than Luke Walton? (You thought I was going for a sex joke there, didn't you?) The team's gotta stay healthy, which isn't something they can avoid, outside of moving to Phoenix and hiring their training staff. On the floor, the offense can stagnate considerably when Roy's not on the floor outside of the handful of nights where Miller goes nova. The other players need to develop into go-to scorers, at least a few. LaMarcus Aldridge in particular has had low expectations which he's exceeded yet not received credit for the last few years, but now he's going to have to be a big-time power forward for the Blazers. If he doesn't show he can get to the next level, he may find himself on the block as the Blazers look for the missing piece.

Posted on: August 6, 2010 3:38 pm
 

Offseason Reviews: Pacific Division

Posted by Royce Young



Los Angeles Lakers

Added: Matt Barnes (free agency), Steve Blake (free agency), Shannon Brown (re-signed), Theo Ratliff (free agency)
Lost: Josh Powell (free agency), Jordan Farmar (free agency)

Philosophy: "Maintaining excellence."

The Lakers didn't accomplish a ton this offseason. But when you're already the best team and you got a little better, that means you done good. Matt Barnes is obviously an interesting addition because of his past relationship with Kobe. But if the Lakers had a chink in the armor, it was the bench. Sasha Vujacic is being actively shopped and Luke Walton is expected to miss most the season. So Barnes will see ample minutes off the bench.

Steve Blake is a brilliant signing because as we saw last postseason, Derek Fisher is getting older. He still produced, but can he put in another full 82? Blake is a reliable point guard that can shoot. Add in Brown who's a nice third point guard that can slide over to the 2 and the Laker bench got a lot stronger this offseason.

Despite what occurred in Miami, the Lakers didn't slip behind anyone. They are still a matchup nightmare for anyone and added pieces that fit, rather than brute talent.

Grade: A

Phoenix Suns

Added: Josh Childress (free agency), Gani Lawal (draft), Matt Janning (signed), Hedo Turkoglu (trade), Hakim Warrick (free agency)
Lost: Amar'e Stoudemire (free agency), Taylor Griffin (waived), Jarron Collins (free agency), Leandro Barbosa (trade), Lou Amundson (free agency),

Philosophy: "Hanging on."

Losing Amar'e Stoudemire was a blow. A big blow. The Suns have been hanging on by a thread to Stoudemire the last two seasons and finally lost him. They replace him with Hakim Warrick who is really Amar'e Lite. It's a worthy replacement, but nothing to the level of Stoudemire.

Trading Barbosa to grab Turkoglu helps the Suns positionally, as Barbosa was nothing more than a bench player and Turkoglu will play a larger role. Is he an improvement? Eh...

Josh Childress was a really solid player for Atlanta and was great overseas, but there's no telling how he'll integrate back into the NBA. The Suns had a difficult offseason because any time you lose a player the caliber of Stoudemire, it's tough to rebuild. They need someone, anyone, to step up and play better than expected. Maybe that's Earl Clark. Maybe Robin Lopez keeps improving. Maybe Nash makes Warrick look better than he is. They might survive this season on Nash alone, but rocky roads might be ahead for Phoenix.

Grade: C

Golden State Warriors

Added: David Lee (trade), Jeremy Lin (undrafted free agent), Ekpe Udoh (draft), Dorell Wright (free agency), Charlie Bell (trade), Dan Gadzuric (trade)
Lost: Anthony Randolph (trade), Corey Maggette (trade), Anthony Morrow (free agency), Chris Hunter (free agency), Anthony Tolliver (free agency), Devean George (free agency), C.J. Watson (free agency), Ronny Turiaf (trade)

Philosophy: "Crossroads."

The Warriors aren't a franchise that the NBA needs to do well. It can survive just fine without GSW booming. But it's certainly a franchise that when it's doing well, the NBA is more fun. And last season, they were the haven of D-League All-Stars and basically just ran in place all year.

The biggest move this organization made this offseason wasn't the acquisition of David Lee, albeit that's a significant move. Instead, it's the transfer in ownership from Chris Cohen to owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber. By their talk, they plan on restoring the Warriors through smart, calculated moves. They're willing to spend and they want to win.

The Warriors had a nice draft taking Epke Udoh sixth, though he did hurt his wrist. But Udoh is a potential interior force with a gifted skillset. Adding him and David Lee really solidify a frontcourt that should be able to compete against most others in the West.

Honestly, one of my favorite moves the Warriors made was moving Anthony Randolph as well. Not for their sake, but for the sake of NBA fans everywhere. Hopefully now that Randolph is in a new situation, he can blossom into the talent we all thought he could be.

Grade: B+

Los Angeles Clippers

Added: Rasual Butler (re-signed), Al-Farouq Aminu (draft), Randy Foye (free agency), Ryan Gomes (free agency), Eric Bledsoe (draft), Brian Cook (free agency)
Lost: Travis Outlaw (free agency), Steve Blake (free agency), Mardy Collins (free agency), Steve Novak (free agency), Brian Skinner (free agency), Bobby Brown (free agency), Drew Gooden (free agency)

Philosophy: "OK, for real this time."

Last season, the Clippers made a chic pick for a turnaround season. Then top pick Blake Griffin got hurt, Baron Davis didn't play as well and Mike Dunleavy coached the first half of the season.

And while hopes were high last year, the Clippers didn't do a ton to improve. They basically just took a step sideways and hope to NOW make that improvement with virtually the same roster. They won 29 games last year and while Griffin is obviously a great talent, is he really going to be a 10 or 15 win improvement?

They didn't lose a ton and didn't add anything other than a shooting guard to play behind Eric Gordon, a lottery pick at small forward (which was a huge need though), and a backup to Baron Davis. Bledsoe and Aminu are really nice draft picks, but this team boasted about being on its way back sooner than later. Right now, it appears the Clips are still building rather than being ready to make actual noise.

Grade: C

Sacramento Kings

Added: Samuel Dalembert (trade), Hassan Whiteside (draft), DeMarcus Cousins (draft), Pooh Jeter (undrafted free agent), Antoine Wright (free agency)
Lost: Andres Nocioni (free agency), Jon Brockman (trade), Sean May (free agency), Ime Udoka (free agency), Dominic McGuire (free agency)

Philosophy: "Small transitions."

The Kings are a roster in transition. They basically tore the building down and are now re-constructing the frame. The core, long-term pieces are being placed, but now it's filling out a roster that complements those pieces.

The big move was drafting DeMarcus Cousins fourth overall. A player many considered to be the most talented player in the draft, the Kings are prepared to weather some potential character flaws because of talent.

They also traded for Samuel Dalembert, giving the Kings a formidable frontcourt. Cousins, Jason Thompson, Carl Landry and Dalembert make for a nice lineup.  But other than the frontcourt moves, Sacramento basically held firm on waiting for Tyreke Evans' eventual leap into stardom. This is an improved roster, but it's not there yet.

Grade: B-
Posted on: July 23, 2010 12:11 am
Edited on: July 23, 2010 9:42 am
 

Matt Barnes is a Laker

Posted by Matt Moore

Remember how the Lakers bench was terrible last year? Yeah, not so much this season.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports that Matt Barnes has signed a two-year, $3.6 million contract Thursday, and also signed Theo Ratliff. So the one, merciful, mockable weakness that the Lakers had has been eradicated, replaced by a list of reasonable contracts for quality players. They're reserves, to be sure. Barnes has terrible catch handles and thinks he's a much better perimeter shooter than he is. Derek Fisher (now a backup with Steve Blake on board) is a defensive liability and has the offensive versatility of a tree stump at this point. Ratliff had a worse PER than Kwame Brown last year.

But it's when you consider how small of a gap they have to cover while the megastars rest. The Lakers added a defensive stopper to go with Ron Artest, a quality backup point guard (who has started for them for years), and a veteran center Phil jackson might actually trust to play. It's a terrific combination of signings. Not enough to match the other teams' signings this summer, but then, the Lakers didn't need much either. Being, you know, defending champions and all.

The Lakers have addressed their biggest need, which wasn't really a need , since they won the NBA championship with that weakness. Miami can add all the guys they want. Until someone else winds up with a ring, the Lakers still run this league. And they just got stronger.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com