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thebac
02-26-2004, 12:04 PM
Lakers' run could be coming to an end

NBA Insider Chad Ford is chatting Thursday at 1 p.m. ET.
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Begin dream sequence: It's July 14, 2004.

Kobe Bryant has just announced he'll be leaving the Lakers to sign with the cross-town rival Clippers.

Phil Jackson, unable to get the big bucks he wants in his contract extension, hops on his Hog and rides off into the sunset toward Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Gary Payton and Karl Malone already have fled for the hills. Both took huge pay cuts to come and play for a potential world championship in Los Angeles. With Phil and Kobe gone, both guys begin their quest for a team with more money and a better shot at a title in 2005.

The once-mighty Lakers now look something like this: Derek Fisher at the point, Kareem Rush at the two, Devean George and Rick Fox at small forward, Brian Cook at the four and the mighty Shaquille O'Neal looking bewildered in the middle of this crap.

The phone rings ... it's Shaq. He isn't happy.

End dream sequence, with Lakers owner Jerry Buss waking up in a cold sweat.

Buss' beloved Lakers once looked destined to run roughshod over the NBA this season. The combo of Payton, Kobe, Malone and Shaq gave the Lakers one of the most dominant starting fives in the history of the NBA. They had power, speed, athleticism and veteran leadership. But a season of injuries, controversy and uninspired play have destroyed any notion that the Lakers are locks for the NBA title.
Kobe's eyes are wandering, should he ever get out of his legal mess in Colorado. Phil seems in desperate need of a pick-me-up from Dr. Phil. Payton is calling L.A. a circus. The Mailman hasn't delivered in months. And Shaq is starting to look a little human as his body struggles to handle the pounding of the NBA season.

How quickly the best of times disintegrate into the worst of times.

As the Lakers Turn

The Lakers' problems have been well-documented this season and seemingly get rehashed, by the Lakers themselves, daily.

On Wednesday, Kobe told reporters in Denver that "at the end of the season I'm really going to sit down and evaluate every option, break down every team. Denver is one of them."

So much for the "Laker for life" refrain Kobe was singing during All-Star weekend.

He also threw some love in the direction of Nuggets GM Kiki Vandeweghe after Vandeweghe pled with Nuggets fans to go easy on Kobe.

"I appreciate that," he said. "I appreciate his support. That is something that he didn't have to do, but he did it. That shows a lot of support on his part. I really appreciate that. It goes a long way with me."

Shaq was in rare form as well, criticizing Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak for not giving him an extension at Shaq's going rate. The two sides reportedly are nearly $10 million per season apart on the contract.

"The general manager we have needs to take notes from me," Shaq said. "It's a fact. Because if I was general manager, with a team like this, there'd be no problems. No problems with the Diesel, no problems with the coach, no problems with the Kobester, no problems with the owner."

Did we mention that Jackson on Sunday began laying out the conditions upon which he might leave the Lakers this summer?

"My deal all along with this club has been how willing are the players to work under the duration of how long I stay and coach?" Jackson said. "It's reciprocal in that direction. If these guys are willing to do the work that's necessary for me to coach, then I have no problem. If they make it difficult for me to coach, then I don't want to put up with it."

Did anyone bother to tell the Lakers there are still 25 games to go in the regular season?

Trade Shaq?

Let's just go ahead and fast forward to the future. There is a very good chance, if you listen to those close to Kobe, that he'll flee the Lakers this summer in an effort to find himself and prove he can win a title without Shaq. There's also a very good chance, if you listen to Phil, that he, too, may be at the end of his rope. The constant turmoil in L.A. has taken its toll. If Jackson still wants to coach, why not do it somewhere more peaceful?


The Lakers might have no choice but to field trade offers for Shaquille O'Neal this summer.
If Kobe and Phil bolt, what happens next has been less speculated. Payton and Malone already are giving indications they may leave the Lakers this summer -- even if Kobe and Phil stick around. The constant pain of dealing with the media circus has worn them raw. Going from the serene hills of Salt Lake to the smoggy press in L.A. was probably enough to put Malone on the IL without the knee injury.

If Kobe, Phil, Payton and Malone are all gone -- and that's a lot more likely than you want to believe, Laker fans -- Buss has a serious problem.

He'll be left with Shaq, still the most dominant player in the NBA, but no real players or cap space.

Shaq makes so much money ($28 million next year) that he almost single-handedly puts the Lakers over the cap. Even once you trim Kobe, Payton and Malone from the roster, the team is still a paltry $700,000 under the cap this summer. It will be difficult -- no, impossible -- to replace the three Lakers' starters with that.

Figure in Shaq's desire for an extension, without a pay cut, and his declining production brought on by age and injuries, and the Lakers will be stuck with the most difficult decision a team has had to face in the last decade -- is it time to trade Shaq?

I can tell you this. GMs already are circling the Staples Center like vultures. Many of them have seen the writing on the wall and believe the future will unfold much as we have just written here.

GMs already are laying plans to woo Kobe, based on intel they're getting from Kobe's camp. A few other GMs already are dreaming about what it may take to pry away Shaq.

Are we getting ahead of ourselves here? Would Buss ever trade him?

"He'd be crazy to," one league executive told Insider. "I think there are only two or three players in this league that are untradeable, and Shaq is one of them. We had these same questions in Chicago when it was clear that the Bulls dynasty was at an end. I still believe that Shaq is the piece that you build around. If you can find one more good piece, you're right back on the road to a championship."

You can clearly make an argument that Shaq, alongside any supporting cast, is good enough to get a team to the playoffs. He remains the one player in the league for whom no team has an answer. But with no cap room, a low draft pick and few, if any, tradeable assets, can Shaq do it alone?

Another GM has a very different take. "Shaq's trade value begins slipping every year now. He's getting older, his body has all kinds of aches and pains, and his motivation just isn't what it was. I think you trade him now, while he can still bring you a young All-Star or two in return. Otherwise, if things get worse in L.A., you're going to be stuck."

Nowitzki for Shaq?

What could you get for Shaq? Would the Mavs give up Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash? Laugh all you want Mavs fans, but a combo of Michael Finley, Antoine Walker, Antawn Jamison and Shaq would still be enough to easily make the Mavs favorites for the NBA crown.

Would the Pacers trade a much younger Jermaine O'Neal and perhaps a young player like Al Harrington or Jonathan Bender in return for Shaq? Before you scoff at it, Pacers fans, Larry Bird would be the first to tell you the move would install the Pacers as favorites to win a championship in the next two or three seasons.

Would the Kings hand off Chris Webber, Mike Bibby and Vlade Divac for Shaq? Would the Nets give up Kenyon Martin and Richard Jefferson? Would the Grizzlies give up Pau Gasol, Bonzi Wells and Mike Miller? Would the Nuggets part ways with Carmelo Anthony, Nene and Marcus Camby?

The possibilities are endless and here's why:

"With a healthy, motivated Shaq, you're one really good player away from winning an NBA title," another GM told Insider. "I really believe that. The Lakers may be the only team in the league who wouldn't have the flexibility to pair Shaq with someone else if Kobe and those guys all leave. Everyone else, assuming you could keep one good player on your roster, becomes the team to beat. That's how dominant he is. And that's how hungry everyone is to bring home a NBA title."

Begin dream sequence ...

While thoughts of Shaq playing in Dallas, Indiana, Sacramento, New Jersey and Memphis dance inside GMs' heads ... Buss is having a different dream.

The Lakers have just won an NBA championship. Kobe looks around and decides that playing with the Lakers -- not the Clippers, Suns, Spurs or Nuggets -- is where he really belongs. Phil signs on to be the ring leader a few more years. Gary and Karl, basking in the glow of their first NBA championship, see their sacrifice rewarded with that coveted ring. Shaq follows Kevin Garnett's lead and takes a hefty pay cut to ensure Laker dominance for the rest of the decade. Everyone lives happily ever after.

Sleep tight Jerry. We won't bother waking you until it's over.


Around the League

Antonio McDyess
Power Forward
Phoenix Suns
Profile


2003-2004 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
24 7.0 5.7 0.9 .442 .548



McDyess a Net? Antonio McDyess will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. From the sound of things, he may already know where he wants to play next. McDyess has a great relationship with Jason Kidd and said Wednesday he'd love to hook up with Kidd again.

"That would be great, definitely would be great," McDyess told the N.Y. Daily News. "Who wouldn't want to play with Jason Kidd, who I'd say is the best point guard in the league? To play with him again would be great; to get up the court with him, getting easy baskets. It just makes things so much easier. It would be good if it ever happens."

The Nets won't have cap room to sign a free agent straight away, but they could throw all or a part of their mid-level exception (roughly $5 million next year) his way. It's unlikely McDyess, with his history of knee troubles, will command anything more than that on the open market.

Negotiations with restricted free agent Kenyon Martin are expected to turn ugly this summer, and McDyess could be the insurance Rod Thorn needs to take a hard line on Martin.

Erick Dampier
Center
Golden State Warriors
Profile


2003-2004 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
56 11.9 11.8 0.7 .516 .640



Will Damp opt out? One of the bigger questions heading into free agency this summer surrounds Warriors center Erick Dampier. Dampier has two more years, at more than $8 million per, left on his contract, but he can opt out this summer and become an unrestricted free agent.

With as many as six teams now looking at $9 million-plus in cap room, there seems to enough cash in the market for Dampier to get a better deal. But questions about his creaky knees and his lack of inspired play before this season will make GMs think twice before inking him to a big deal.

So does Damp play it safe and collect the last two years of his contract, or does he take the advice of new agent Dan Fegan and opt out?

Dampier claims that at this point in his career the most important thing is winning.

"I haven't been to the playoffs, and I'm not getting any younger," he told the Indianapolis Star. "I'm to the point now where I want to win games."

Dampier claims if he does opt out, he'd like to return to the Eastern Conference, where the trees in the middle are little easier to cut down.

"I'd have a chance to be an All-Star," he said. "How many centers are there in the East? Not to take anything away from Jamaal Magloire. But he made the All-Star team in the East, so I know I can definitely (succeed)."

Who would have the money to pay Dampier? The Hawks, Bobcats and Pistons are the only Eastern Conference teams with enough cash to give Dampier the type of deal he's looking for. Unfortunately the Hawks and Bobcats won't give him the playoff appearances he's looking for, and the Pistons have all their off-season money earmarked for Mehmet Okur and Rasheed Wallace.

In the West, the Jazz, Nuggets, Clippers and Spurs will have a lot of cash, and there figures to be interest from all four teams.

If Dampier was willing to take a paycut (to the $5 million, mid-level exception) to play for a contender (unlikely when you consider who he just hired as his agent) then teams like the Pacers, Mavericks and Knicks quickly move into the picture.

Hawks dump Glover: The Hawks continued their housecleaning Wednesday when they waived Dion Glover. Glover asked to be released after practice on Wednesday. He was upset about losing his starting job to rookie Boris Diaw after the Hawks traded away Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Theo Ratliff.
A source close to the Hawks told Insider recently that Glover, along with point guard Jason Terry, were among the most disruptive players on the team. Glover should clear waivers by Friday and be free to join a team of his choosing.

Peep Show

Detroit Pistons: Head coach Larry Brown knows Mehmet Okur is trying. He's just not trying hard enough. "Mehmet will take shortcuts, he hasn't been pushed," Brown said in the Detroit News. "I was told that by the people here when I came. I am not used to coaching effort. I'm used to coaching execution. I don't think it's my job to ask a guy for effort, who is being paid to play, who wants to get better. The neat thing about him is I think he does care. Sometimes (it's) that immaturity part, he feels sorry for himself. It takes you a while to understand, hey, that's over, and keep going." Brown says the motivation should already be there for the second-year center. "I don't know what more Mehmet needs to hear," Brown said. "If he's reading the papers at all, he'll know we did this deal to get the cap room for him. I don't how much more of a message he needs."

Denver Nuggets: People in the stands know the refs blew the call. People watching the game on television knew the refs blew the call. Nuggets head coach Jeff Bzdelik, courtside in the waning seconds of hard fought game between his Nuggets and the Lakers, knows that the refs blew the call that allowed Kareem Rush to hit a game-winning 3-pointer. "They told me it's an inadvertent whistle, their mistake. They felt bad. They can walk away. They're on to the next city. There's no 'L' or 'W' next to their names," Bzdelik said in the Denver Post. With 29.9 seconds left in the game, Andre Miller's jumpshot clearly hit the rim on a miss that was rebounded by the Nuggets. Instead, the referees blew the whistle, huddled, called it a 24-second violation, called it an inadvertent whistle, then called the teams to centercourt for a jumpball. Did the Nuggets get robbed? "Call everybody," Carmelo Anthony said. "The ATF, everybody."

New Jersey Nets: Lawrence Frank knew it couldn't last forever. "Did we make some mistakes? Of course we did," said Frank in the New York Times after his team lost to the Timberwolves Wednesday night. "The big thing was, we missed some shots." Frank is now 13-1 as a head coach in the NBA. "Losing is part of the deal," said Frank. "No one likes it. No one accepts it. But it's going to happen. The only valuable lesson of losing is learning from it. No one is going to go undefeated."

Boston Celtics: If Paul Pierce is looking kind of confused these days that's because, well, he is. "It's tough. Truthfully, I thought there would be some trades, some changes to this ballclub, but I didn't expect it to be this dramatic," Pierce said in the Providence Journal. "I thought probably we'd get another All-Star, but things changed dramatically throughout the whole year. It's difficult not knowing who's going to be in the lineup, who's going to go to war with you every night because you're still feeling out a number of guys. We're still learning about one another right now." And don't expect him to change his expression anytime soon. "It's kind of hard for me to see it right now because you don't know who's going to be here next year," said Pierce. "I can't even guess how many people are going to be here next year or who's out there, who can come in and really help this franchise dramatically. Right now, I've just got to concentrate on the rest of the season and then, afte! r the season, evaluate from there."

Milwaukee Bucks: Rookie T.J. Ford has a sprained neck and a spinal cord bruise. And, believe it or not, that's the good news."It's definitely a relief," said coach Terry Porter in the Journal Sentinel. "He'll be out two to three weeks and we'll kind of see how it goes. But it's definitely a relief that it's not something more severe." He is expected to be out two to three weeks. "He's in good spirits," Porter said. "Very good spirits. He's walking around. He doesn't have a brace on or anything. He was just relaxing at home. He obviously won't be allowed to do much."

ddh33
02-26-2004, 12:56 PM
This should spark some conversation.
Would you ever trade Dirk and Steve for Shaq? I can't even imagine it. In fact, I can't imagine the Lakers ever letting him go. But stranger things have happened...

Nicky31
02-26-2004, 02:02 PM
I wouldn't make that trade considering his age and production, but if we were talking about the Shaq a couple years ago I would do it in a heartbeat.

Don't forget how dominate Nash and Nowitzki are with the pick-n-roll...(you might as well just label them Stockton and Malone)

Dirkenstien
02-26-2004, 02:04 PM
Originally posted by: ddh33
This should spark some conversation.
Would you ever trade Dirk and Steve for Shaq? I can't even imagine it. In fact, I can't imagine the Lakers ever letting him go. But stranger things have happened...


No ...definitely not

Dooby
02-26-2004, 02:24 PM
I'll make it real easy for you:

L.A. Lakers trades: C Shaquille O'Neal (21.1 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 3.1 apg in 35.3 minutes)
L.A. Lakers receives: SF Antawn Jamison (14.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.0 apg in 29.1 minutes)
PF Antoine Walker (15.4 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 5.2 apg in 37.1 minutes)
Change in team outlook: +8.8 ppg, +4.3 rpg, and +3.1 apg.

Dallas trades: SF Antawn Jamison (14.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.0 apg in 29.1 minutes)
PF Antoine Walker (15.4 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 5.2 apg in 37.1 minutes)
Dallas receives: C Shaquille O'Neal (21.1 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 3.1 apg in 40 games)
Change in team outlook: -8.8 ppg, -4.3 rpg, and -3.1 apg.

TRADE ACCEPTED

Toss in a first, because they'll make you. They might even insist on Najera (trade would still work).

Lakers get cap space in a year from Walker's deal. Jamison is a quality star. Or, the Lakers now have two pieces that are tradeable.

Honestly, I wonder if the Lakers could get a better deal than this. They'd want a young star, but those players are cheap and coming up with the salary to match would involve too many players.

The starting 5 for the Mavs would be:
C-Shaq, Scott Williams, Bradley
PF-Dirk, Fortson
SF-Josh Howard, ???
SG-Fin, Delk
PG-Nash, Best, Daniels

sike
02-26-2004, 02:52 PM
dooby just made me laugh.....

Stressboy
02-26-2004, 03:02 PM
If I'm the Lakers and I've lost everyone without any S&T for Kobe and you don't want to pay Shaq, then I might trade Shaq for

Walker (because he is trade bait or a cap clearer)
Jamison or Finley (depending on which you think you need more, probably Jamison just becasue of youth)
Josh Howard
Danials
Najera or Bradley
and 1st rounder.

Otherwise, I will get better offers from other teams such as half of Detroit for Shaq. Ben Wallace , Okur, Prince, Darko and 2 first rounders . Or they just trade him to the Jazz for a ton of picks clear cap get McGrady when he opts out, though they could do that by trading with Dallas and clearing max money for McGrady with Walkers salary.

No way we give up Dirk/Nash.

Stressboy

Nicky31
02-26-2004, 03:57 PM
I would do this deal, but Nash, Nowitzki, and Howard would be the 3 players I would exclude from the deal...(I think think there would be some other factors you would have to consider with this trade possibility)

First off would Nellie even consider on using the triangle offense as much as Phil Jackson does..I don't think he would..therefore Shaq would go long periods of time without seeing the ball. I don't think Shaq could co-exist with the Maverick's style of play (could he keep up). He will be just an above average center after his contract expires, but his contract could be very appealing in it's final year for some teams...

I think how the Mav's perform this next playoff run will be a factor in this future trade possiblity...

There is no way that Shaq puts up enough production anymore through 82 regular season games to make a GM think he is worthy of an extended contract at 28 million per season...(he only had 2 seasons were he was worth that kind of money 2000, 2001)

sike
02-26-2004, 04:20 PM
LA dont do nothing without Dirk being in the deal!

Drbio
02-26-2004, 04:22 PM
Originally posted by: sike
LA dont do nothing without Dirk being in the deal!

nutnut says...."LA don't do nothing then 'cause Dirk ain't going nowhere....now give me a banana damnit".

sike
02-26-2004, 04:55 PM
Originally posted by: Drbio

Originally posted by: sike
LA dont do nothing without Dirk being in the deal!

nutnut says...."LA don't do nothing then 'cause Dirk ain't going nowhere....now give me a banana damnit".
amazing use of someone else's joke....genius humor!!!!! i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gifi/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gifi/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gifi/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif

jayC
02-26-2004, 07:12 PM
Id do steve and Dirk for Shaq in a heartbeat. Guarnteed three or four nba titles.

OutletPass
02-26-2004, 07:17 PM
No, no ..a thousand times no.

I'd never give up Steve and Dirk for the Burger king.

DwD
02-26-2004, 11:20 PM
No way we give up both Dirk (still finding his potential) and Nash (in his prime) for Shaq, who might give you at most another 2-3 good years. I think it is a no-brainer to just say "no"!

Mavs Rule
02-26-2004, 11:29 PM
I agree with Chad or whoever wrote this piece. I think if the Lakers don't win the championship, this team will be dismantled like the Bulls team of the 90's. Malone and Payton signed on to win, if they don't, they will be gone without a doubt. Too much turmoil to put up with if you don't win it all.

Kobe wants to be away from Shaq no doubt. He wants to be the leader of his own team, so he can ball hog all he wants to. His stats will go through the roof, and he will be THE MAN on his team. I think the clips are a good possibility.

If only Shaq is left out of the four Hall of Famers, then they almost have to trade him. He cannot win a championship by himself, and he is hurt too often for the team to rely on him throughout the season. There is only a few teams deep enough to offer what LA needs without gutting their whole team. DALLAS is one of those teams. I personally would be very careful as to what I offered LA, since I believe Shaq only has a couple years left before his body gives out from all the weight that that it has to carry and all the punishment it takes on a nightly basis. Walker must be a part of any trade to them. i/expressions/face-icon-small-cool.gif

BTW, I don't trade Steve and Dirk!