East Coast v. West Coast: The Battle Between the Lakers and the Knicks, and a Free Agency Update

Carmelo and Kobe Staying PutThere has always been a rivalry between LA and NY, and I’m not just talking about Tupac and Biggie. People have always taken sides in the battle of the two cities. This spring the battlefield was on an ice rink, as the LA Kings took down the NY Rangers in the Stanley Cup finals (Ranger fans can suck it! Sorry I am still in cutthroat mode).

Personally, I’m torn. While I’m from LA and love living here, I definitely have the NY spirit since my family is from the Big Apple. As torn as I am between my love for the two cities, I am not at all torn in my allegiance to LA sports teams or my feelings about Phil Jackson going to the Knicks. I was furious the Lakers dropped the ball and allowed him to go to the Knicks, taking our basketball culture with him.

So far Phil signed Lamar Odom (of course he also waived him today), made Derrick Fisher head coach, and stole Kurt Rambis to make him an assistant coach. He tried to lure Pau Gasol back to his side and is planning to establish the triangle in NY.

When he signed with the Knicks a few months ago, this was my biggest fear. Now we are literally fighting with the Knicks over free agents, and so far Phil’s Knicks have been victorious in every battle. His latest “win,” the “coveted” Carmelo Anthony.

I have already expressed my opinions about Melo; he is both overrated and overpaid. Basically, that was one battle I hoped we would lose. I’m glad they’re stuck overpaying him (Phil Jackson knows it and tried selling Melo on a smaller contract last month, but failed); better them than us. Meanwhile, we re-signed Jordan Hill and Nick Young, two moves which make me very happy.

That brings me to Jeremy Lin. People seem to be happy that Linsanity is coming to LA, but hold your horses everyone; we are simply renting him for a year. He is massively overpaid and his contract expires in 2015. He is a solid player and will be entertaining to watch, but letting him go after one year will give the Lakers space to go after the plethora of available free agents in 2015 (management must be listening to me).

Unfortunately, I need to talk about Pau Gasol since his departure is imminent. He just tweeted that he has chosen to play for the Bulls (sorry Teri), and it is happening without a sign and trade deal. Back in February I said we needed to trade him in order to get something rather than just lose him in free agency. We didn’t, and now he is leaving. It’s unfortunate that the Lakers and Bulls couldn’t work out a sign and trade deal with Pau for Boozer and a draft pick. Chicago could have dumped Boozer’s contract and I honestly would have had no problem with us taking Carlos Boozer for one year plus a draft pick. Like Jeremy Lin he is overpaid, but his contract also expires after this season. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen so the Bulls are stuck with Boozer, and the Lakers lose Pau and get nothing in return.

On that happy note, I would like to point out that the Lakers are now 0-2 for keeping our players in free agency under “new” management. First Dwight walked away, and now Pau is leaving. This morning my mother asked me who is really running the Lakers now. Is it Mitch, Jeannie, or Kobe? She was not convinced that Jim was in charge. I told her he is, in fact, running things (which is why we are in our current state), and Jeannie’s recent public involvement is purely meant to appease the fans, players, and analysts. My mother sighed, rolled her eyes, and walked away. I feel that sums up how all of us Lakers fans feel at the moment.

Before I end, since it is the biggest NBA story right now, I feel it is my duty to mention LeBron. I take great pride in being right about my basketball analysis; just see my “I Told You So” blog. However, I have to admit I was wrong about LeBron. My Miami based Grandma Barbara called Thursday night in a panic over the prospect of LeBron leaving the Heat. I assured her that was not going to happen. Sorry Grandma. Although I prepared her months in advance for the Heat’s defeat in the finals – I told her they’d cruise there and then get crushed (sound familiar?), I did not prepare her for LeBron’s departure. In fairness, I was unaware that LeBron had changed his priorities. When he went to the Heat, he said he expected to win more than 7 championships while he was there. In his recent SI article, however, LeBron made it clear his legacy and heart are in Cleveland and that is more important than winning, “My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball.”

Since this blog is all about us Lakers fans, here is the good news about LeBron’s return to the Cavs: comparisons between Kobe and LeBron now end. While I am intrigued to see how LeBron will play with his new young teammates, I highly doubt that they will win a championship. If they do win, it will not be for years. I do not think LeBron will be able to get free agents to come to Cleveland. He couldn’t do it the first time around, and I do not think the 2 rings he won under Pat Riley in Miami will change that. Kobe will, and should, be compared to Michael and Magic, not to LeBron; 5>2.

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5 thoughts on “East Coast v. West Coast: The Battle Between the Lakers and the Knicks, and a Free Agency Update

  1. I gotta go on the record saying that I think Lebron WILL get free agents to come to Cleveland.

    My beef with Lebron has always been that he was lazy — he wasn’t willing to make the sacrifices and push boundaries required to be one the greats, which was especially irksome because he is essentially a superhuman in terms of both physicality and talent. I think that lack of drive is what motivated him to go to Miami; he wanted to play with his friends, he wanted to have a good time, and he wanted championships the easiest way he could get them — he thought Miami offered him that. I think that blase attitude is also what caused Miami to get embarrassed the first year of the big three.

    Since then, I think we have really seen Lebron grow up. I think this is evidenced in the team he lead when they won their two championships, and even though this year was a disappointment for the Heat, I think the team played well together against a Spurs team that was basically unstoppable. I think this move back to Cleveland will be absolutely, 100%, what makes or breaks Lebron’s legacy. This move could be the easy way out for him — he can go back home and be a hometown hero, play good basketball, and have a happy, successful career with no more championships. Or he can make hard choices: be a leader, take paycuts where necessary, bully other players, the owner, and coaches alike, and cement his legacy as one of the greats. At this point, I think it is pretty much up to him, and whether he can move the right chess pieces to attract enough solid supporting players to Cleveland to help him win more championships will decide once and for all whether he should be in the same category as Wilt, Michael, and Kobe, or whether he will just be another really good player on a long list of really good players.

    • I agree with a lot of what you said. I believe going to Miami came from laziness and was the “easy” was out. I also believe he has grown a lot, but I do believe he is still taking the easy way out. I think he got a taste of the championship life and now misses being beloved and that is why he went back to Cleveland. He wants to be happy as the hometown hero even if that means that he will never win a championship again. His priorities have definitely changed. If he stayed in Miami, winning more championships was almost guaranteed. Miami was the destination hot spot with LeBron and Riley. Riley is beloved and respected, and LeBron is a great player. They would quickly bring in new younger talent and get back to the finals. That team needed to be tweaked, not rebuilt, instead he is going to a rebuilding project in Cleveland. That team has set up shop at the draft for the last 4 years. I reiterate, it is possible that one day they will win, but it will not be for years. Chicago acquired Pau making that team incredibly scary (if Rose can stay healthy), and the teams in the west are only getting stronger. I expect to see the western conference continue is dominance, with only a few eastern conference teams being mentioned as title contenders. Even with LeBron gone, the Heat will be a good team, but not a championship team.

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