NBA Weekly: A Staples Center Thief & West Predictions

NBA Weekly: A Staples Center Thief & West Predictions

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In what is some of the more strange news you will see, there is apparently a thief inside the Staples Center! Basketball club Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv out of Israel reports that over $22,000 worth of cash and valuables were stolen from their locker room during their game with the “other” LA team earlier this week.  Going down the Clippers get into the worst situations ever rabbit hole even further, the theft was noticed at half time…but not reported till the end of the game.  Might as well make sure the thief has a bit of time to get away cleanly, right?  Authorities hope to find their suspect via video footage at some point in the near future, apparently no rush on that either. Some advice to the Lakers on Tuesday, let’s not leave those nice new championship rings in the locker room fellas.gasol

The LA Times reports that our favorite spaniard Paul Gasol may be sidelinded for the season opener this Tuesday against the Clippers, as he is still feeling pain in his strained calf.  Gasol went through a light practice on Wednesday after it was determined that he would likely play in the Lakers match up vs. the Nuggets on Thursday.  However, the Lakers shut down Gasol as a precautionary action after he still felt pain the following morning.  Phil still maintains that either the injury to Gasol or Bynum are causing him much concern.  I can only wonder if these comments are related to the actual nature of the injury, or how ridiculously deep PJ’s bench goes.

NBA officials are hopeful that the new agreement with the referee’s union will be approved by vote today. David Stern jump started negotiations with the union a week ago amidst growing concerns with the replacement officials.  An agreement in principle was reached earlier this week, yet must pass a vote before being completed.  While the NBA feels there is a high likilhood that the vote will pass, and the real NBA refs will be ready for the season openers on Tueday, nothing is for certain, “our hope that they approve it, but there’s no guarantees.” said Stern.  A previous agreement between the league and the union had been reached and was voted down last month.

ESPN.com has released their expert predictions for this years NBA season. Your World Champion Los Angeles Lakers were the run away favorites to win the Pacific Division, along with the Western Conference again this year.  Every participating expert cast their first place vote in both categories for LA, and outlines their reasoning below. While pre-season rankings like this can tend to mean very little, it is great to see that a wide range of NBA experts believe the Lakers have a chance to return to the finals.  Check out ESPN for further predictions on MVP, ROY, DPOY, 6th man, Most Improved and COY.  The Lakers have representation in nearly every category (Kobe- MVP , Ron Artest- DPOY, Lamar Odom- 6th man, Andrew Bynum- Most Improved, Phil Jackson- COY)

ANALYST COMMENT PREDICTIONS

J.A. Adande, ESPN.com | Adande’s picks

Next parallel MJ challenge for Kobe Bryant: Keep the Lakers focused with the Rodmanesque Ron Artest around. If Kobe’s will prevents the Lakers from becoming reality-show fodder, it’s another title on the way for Los Angeles.

Pacific: 1

West: 1

Jon Barry, ESPN | Barry’s picks

This team is better with Ron Artest. That was a brilliant move by Mitch Kupchak. They improve defensively and get a guy who can score 25-30 points on a night when Kobe might be off. Offensively they are as good as any team in the league.

Pacific: 1

West: 1

Chris Broussard, ESPN The Mag | Broussard’s picks

They were already a top-4 offensive team. Now with Ron-Ron, they’ll be top-4 on the other end too. Yeah, they took a risk, but the rewards could be devastating — for opponents. Also, look for bigger and better things from Andrew Bynum.

Pacific: 1

West: 1

Chad Ford, ESPN.com | Ford’s picks

The Lakers are still the team to beat, but I think they lost something when they essentially swapped Trevor Ariza for Ron Artest. Artest provides toughness and grit, but at a huge cost of stability. Nevertheless, even if Ronnie implodes, the Lakers may still have the goods to rule the West.

Pacific: 1

West: 1

Jemele Hill, ESPN.com Page 2 | Hill’s picks

L.A. checkmated everyone by adding Ron Artest and Khloe Kardashian in the same offseason. Artest’s presence guarantees Kobe will be fresh for the repeat run. L.A.’s weak link Fish, who was the man in the playoffs, returns a year older and likely a step slower.

Pacific: 1

West: 1

John Hollinger, ESPN.com | Hollinger’s picks

Scary thought: L.A.’s two best young players (Andrew Bynum and Jordan Farmar) gave them virtually nothing in its title run. Throw in Artest’s Rottweiler D and doses of Kobe and Pau, and the only West team that can beat L.A. is L.A.

Pacific: 1

West: 1

Jalen Rose, ESPN | Rose’s picks

Every player in the league will still give Kobe the ball at crunch time. Gasol is an All-NBA performer. Odom along with Artest will provide all kinds of post-up and perimeter problems on both ends of the floor. They need Bynum to dominate.

Pacific: 1

West: 1

Chris Sheridan, ESPN.com | Sheridan’s picks

Strangely, IMHO, the conventional wisdom seems to be that the Artest signing will backfire on them. I see it giving them some knocks and pings, but making them far more dangerous in the postseason. Got ’em at 65-68 W’s.

Pacific: 1

West: 1

Marc Stein, ESPN.com | Stein’s picks

The champs are indeed this season’s favorites to win it all again. Their potential is frightening if Artest blends in and Bynum can finally be a consistent force. But they’d be bigger favorites on this scorecard had they just kept Ariza.

Pacific: 1

West: 1

David Thorpe, ESPN.com | Thorpe’s picks

They are the easy pick, but I have some concerns about Artest. Will he be consumed by the media circus surrounding the team? Will he accept a well-defined role by season’s end? They’ll win a ton regardless, but may not be there at the end.

Pacific: 1

West: 1

AVERAGE RANKING             Pacific: 1.0 | Standings West: 1.0 | Standings