Let’s remember the 2008 Finals…

…when the Celtics and Lakers last met in the Finals. Celtics Hub refreshes our collective memory:

The presence of Artest as LA’s starting small forward is, on its own, a large enough change to make the 2008 Finals a near-irrelevant precedent. In other words: If both rosters were entirely the same, and everyone’s skill level had remained the same, making the single change of replacing Vladimir Radmanovic with Artest as LA’s starting small forward is big enough to blow up any ‘08/’10 comparisons.

The Lakers started Vlad Radmanovic at small forward in 2008! And he wasn’t a token starter! He played 21.5 minutes per game in the Finals, shooting 39 percent from the floor and playing mediocre defense against Boston’s best offensive player.

Luke Walton played 11 minutes per game in the Finals and shot 31 percent. Trevor Ariza, who supplanted both Rad Man and Walton in ‘09, was a total non-factor, logging just 7 minutes per game in the ‘08 Finals.

Those three players, combined, logged about 40 minutes per game in the 2008 Finals. I realize those minutes sometimes overlapped, but still: Forty minutes per game.

Artest makes this Laker team a very different unit, for the better. We can argue about whether or not he was an upgrade over the less combustible Trevor Ariza, but no one is advocating for a return to the Radmanovic/Walton days.

Here is what Artest has done with Paul Pierce in their last eight meetings:

18.8 PPG, 43 percent shooting (46-of-107), 36 percent from three (14-of-39), 52 free throw attempts.

Plus, he brings a certain amount of toughness that was definitely lacking on the ’08 Lakers. It will be fascinating to watch Artest’s impact on this series.

To get you ready, here’s a link to an inside look at Game 1 of the ’08 Finals.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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The NBA’s 68 worst contracts

The economy is really starting to take its toll on professional sports, and the NBA is no different. Bad contracts are bad even when the economy is pumping, but they really stand out in tough times like these. So I decided to look through the payrolls team-by-team to try to identify the worst contracts in the NBA. I expected to list 15-20 names, but I ended up scribbling down 68. That’s right, there are no fewer than 68 bad contracts in the NBA.

I didn’t include any of the players that are in the final year of their contracts because…well, what’s the point? They’ll be off the books in a few months anyway. Instead, I wanted to focus on those contracts that are going to haunt teams for years to come, so to be eligible, players have to have at least a year left on their current deals.

It’s tough to compare someone making superstar money to an average, everyday role player, so I split these 68 contracts up into three groups: the Overpaid Role Players, the Not-So-Super Stars and the Injury-Prones. I will rank them from least-worst to most-worst with the thinking that I wouldn’t trade the player for anyone further down the list but I would trade him for anyone previously mentioned. So, for example, if a guy is listed #7 within a particular group, I’m not trading him for anyone ranked #6-#1, but I would think seriously about moving him for a guy that is ranked #8+.

So let’s start with the role players and go from there…

(Note: In most cases, I don’t blame the player himself for his outrageous contract. The fault lies with the general manager that inked the guy to the deal. However, this rule goes out the window if the player has a history of only producing in his contract year – I’m looking at you, Tim Thomas.)

Read the rest after the jump...

Vladimir Radmanovic criticizes Lakers, unintentional hilarity ensues

Just hours after being traded to Charlotte, Vladimir Radmanovic criticized his old team’s game plan.

“Being a Laker was a great experience,” Radmanovic told The Charlotte Observer before Sunday’s 96-92 loss in Miami. “But it was also frustrating not knowing when and how I’d play.”

“Phil’s system, great as it is, doesn’t give a role player much opportunity,” Radmanovic said. “For Kobe Bryant, it’s great. For Pau Gasol, it’s great. But role players don’t do much.”

The Serbian pointed to the value of his versatility Sunday. He told the Observer he’s comfortable at power forward or small forward.

“I’ve been playing 3 and 4 my whole career,” Radmanovic said. “Obviously I’m a little quicker than most 6-10 guys, so I can guard smaller players.”


“I can guard smaller players.”


I’ve spent more time than I’d like to admit focusing solely on Radmanovic on the defensive end. Sometimes I’ll just watch him for a series of possessions just for a laugh. The guy is absolutely lost on that end of the court. Lost.

He has no awareness, is unable to see both his man and the ball and is always caught out of position. If he were a rookie or maybe a second-year player, the Lakers could have worked with him. But he’s 28 and it’s tough to teach an old dog new tricks.

You don’t have to be the quickest guy in the world to be a decent defender. You just have to understand positioning and know where you’re supposed to be on the court. Radmanovic doesn’t, and that’s why the Lakers traded him.

I can’t wait to see what Larry Brown does with this guy. Radmanovic might very well force him into retirement again.

Lakers trade Radmanovic for Morrison

In one of the most random trades ever, the Lakers and Bobcats traded disappointments.

The Charlotte Bobcats traded managing partner Michael Jordan’s first draft pick on Saturday, sending struggling forward Adam Morrison and reserve guard Shannon Brown to the Los Angeles Lakers for forward Vladimir Radmanovic.

Jordan’s first major decision after becoming part owner with the final say on all basketball decisions was taking Morrison with the third overall pick in the 2006 draft over Brandon Roy, Rudy Gay and others.

Morrison and Brown were never a good fit. Morrison’s defensive deficiencies didn’t mesh with Brown’s style, and Morrison had failed to hit shots consistently, struggling in a starting role the past four games after small forward Gerald Wallace suffered a partially collapsed lung and a broken rib against the Lakers on Jan. 27.

Morrison, who cut his trademark hair short before this season, will get a chance to crack the Lakers’ rotation and become an outside scoring threat. Morrison, who averaged a national-best 28.1 points for Gonzaga in 2005-06, missed all of last season after tearing a knee ligament in a preseason game.

Morrison, due about $5.3 million next season in the final year of his rookie contract, was averaging just 4.5 points while shooting 36 percent from the field and 34 percent from 3-point range.

The deal also gives the Lakers some salary-cap relief. Radmanovic is owed $6.5 million next season and $6.9 million a year later in a player option.

Since he plays so little (and for the Bobcats), I haven’t seen much of Morrison since he entered the league. His PER (6.02) is brutal and his career shooting percentage (37%) is equally awful. The Lakers are rolling the dice that the guy just needs a change of scenery. He’s a decent three-point shooter (33%) and if he can get his confidence back, maybe he can help his new team. After all, he’s just 24 and still has a little upside.

With this trade, Lakers’ GM Mitch Kupchak rids the team of one of his worst signings — Radmanovic. He’s a good shooter, but he’s completely lost defensively and can’t be trusted on that end of the court. Morrison may turn out to be equally as bad, but the Lakers get out of the last year of Radmanovic’s contract, which runs $6.9 million in the 2010-11 season.

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