Two more pre-season games left (thank goodness!) until the Lakers can actually start preparing for the real thing starting next Tuesday against Houston at Staples Center. Tonight and Friday night, they'll face the Golden State Warriors for the very first time this early NBA year. They'll be at the San Diego Sports Arena then head back to L.A. County to conclude their exhibition schedule for 2010 at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California tomorrow.
The Warriors had undergone some changes in their roster and in their head coaching position this past summer, including a new team logo and jerseys. The NBA's second winningest head coach in history, Don Nelson decided to forego his coaching duties in what would have been his 4th year with the club. The move wasn't really a shock, but it's the second time he has resigned right on media day. He did it with Dallas before coming over to Oakland..err...Golden State. Nelson is replaced by his assistant coach Keith Smart.
Personnel-wise that's where the bulk of their overhaul happened. Here's a quick rundown: Ronny Turiaf, Anthony Randolph and Kelenna Azubuike were traded to the Knicks for David Lee (via sign-and-trade). Anthony Morrow was re-signed then sent to the Nets for a second-rounder next draft. Guard C.J. Watson was also signed and traded to the Bulls for another second-rounder next summer. Their free-agent signees are: Forward/Guard Rodney Carney, Forward Lou Amundson, and Forward Dorell Wright. But none of their transactions had any connections with the Lakers other than former Harvard baller Jeremy Lin.
Lin made quite a commotion amongst fans attendees and NBA General Managers during his time at this year's summer camp in Las Vegas. He made enough noise that a Lin vs. John Wall (yup, that same John Wall) video surfaced on YouTube. Other than being an Asian-American, Jeremy's basketball acumen and athleticism are quite impressive. And yes, he can dunk!
Most people think that Lin's the first Asian-American to play in the NBA. Not true. There was a guy named Wataru "Wat" Misaka back in 1947 who was drafted by the Knicks. Not only is Misaka the first Asian-American in the NBA, he was also the first "color" player to ever play in the league.
As for the Lakers, they're simply just trying to prepare for the start of the season and hoping no other major setbacks like more injuries won't happen. But, that didn't stop some fans from worrying about them because of their horrendous shooting and ragged defense.
You have to remember that Phil Jackson's priority in pre-season is to have the new faces learn the Triangle. They need to learn where and how to move plus know how to make adjustments depending on the defense at all times. There's a reason why people say this system isn't for anyone. It takes a great deal of patience, awareness, timing and intelligence to fully absorb it, and even then you've only scratched the surface.
The Warriors is generally a team with active bodies and shooters. Under Nelson, all they cared about was shoot the ball and played little-to-no defense. It's hard to tell what kind of a team they'll be under Smart. Well, we'll certainly find out tonight.
What to Look for Against Golden State
• The same of everything since training camp opened, but we just might see more of the bench these final 2 games.
• No Kobe?: Phil Jackson told Laker reporter Mike Trudell that Kobe might not play at all tonight.
• The return of The Machine and Luuuke!?: Sasha Vujacic has been cleared to play starting tonight after suffering a concussion in practice last Friday after accidentally getting his face hit by Lamar Odom's elbow on a rebound. But Luke Walton is a gametime decision. Walton tugged his hamstring right before the Lakers made their trip to Europe.
Tip-off is at 7:00 p.m. (PST) at the San Diego Sports Arena. TV: KCAL-9 (Los Angeles) Radio: 710/1330 AM ESPN.
Other Notes: The Lakers had just waived camp invitees guard Trey Johnson and center Drew Naymick. The roster is now down to 14, which most likely be what they'll carry into the season.