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Q and A with LA Ball Talk

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Been awhile since I've done a Q and A with another team's blogger; what better time to do one than today's showdown versus the Lakers?  Please welcome a new voice around these parts, Daniel from LABallTalk.com.

He had some questions about the Blazers and you can read my answers here. I talked about each of the big three as well as team expectations.

Here are my Laker questions and Daniel's Laker answers.  Enjoy.

1. How is the team coping with the absence of Jordan Farmar?

The absence of Jordan Farmar was originally thought of to be an extremely big problem as Derek Fisher is an older player on this team and can't play 38 minutes every night. Jordan was playing great throughout the season leading up to his injury and it's very unfortunate that he is forced to go through this. With that said, there is a bright side to the situation. After the immediate panic subsided, the Lakers and their fans realized that theres an easy solution. We can let Sasha Vujacic play the point, and even Lamar Odom when necessary. Vujacic was not drafted as a shooting guard, but rather as a 6'7" point guard out of Europe. Phil Jackson is long known to be a fan of tall point guards. Sasha has great abilities in handling the ball and passing. He has a great court vision and this injury may be a great sign of things to come in the future. Perhaps when Fisher is ready to retire, Farmar and Vujacic are enough to run the team on their own.

2. Are you ready to admit that this is the year LeBron James put some major separation between himself and Kobe Bryant in the "who's better" debate?

Of course I'm not ready to admit that Lebron is better.

On a serious note, Lebron is just ridiculous. There really is no other way to describe it. Lebron is the size of a power forward, moves like a point guard, and plays like a shooting guard. Can't deny the props he deserves. What do you do? How is one reasonably suppose to guard him. He has improved his jump shot over the years. His creativity in passing is quite impressive as well. However, when it truly comes to breaking down the argument of who's better, I truthfully am not yet ready to pass the torch on to Lebron.

Stats truly do show a lot in this comparison. Lebron is averaging 27.5 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and 6.6 APG. Kobe is averaging 26.8 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and 4.2 APG. Lebron's stats this season are really no different than his career averages. Kobe's stats this season are overall better than his career averages as his rebounding and assist numbers are practically the same while he's averaging 2 points more in 1 less minute. Kobe's FG % is also 2% higher than the previous season, just like Lebron James. There are two categories that differentiate the two players significantly though. The first is free throw shooting %. Kobe has improved his free throw shooting by 2% this season to 88% overall. Lebron has improved his shooting by 7% this season to 78% overall. In my opinion, a real superstar should be shooting a minimum of 80% from the free throw line.

With the stats being truly not too different than what they were in the past, the only real argument for Lebron suddenly being better this season is his team's record. But allow me to ask you a question, is his team's record what it is today because of him or because of the acquisition of Mo Williams? Williams is averaging 15.8 points and 4.2 assists. It's been talked about for years how badly Lebron needs a point guard on his team, this season's success has clearly proven it.

As you can see this is clearly a sensitive topic for us Lakers fans, so let's try and stay away from the Kobe vs Lebron stuff and just stick to Lakers vs Blazers.

3. Is there a trade for Lamar Odom that makes sense to you?

Here's another sensitive topic for me. I can't deny that I have a personal beef with Lamar. He is one of the most amazingly versatile players in the league. He can run the point, play center, and everything in between. The unfortunate part is the fact that he is one of the dumbest players on the court and makes several bad decisions. I feel like he has a low basketball IQ and still doesn't understand his purpose in Phil Jacksons system.

I wouldn't mind trading Lamar for either Mike MIller, Richard Jefferson, Gerald Wallace, Shawn Marion and if it came down to it, I'd even be willing to pick up Allen Iverson. I truly would prefer a small forward that can slash to the basket as well as be a consistent shooter and threat from the outside.

4. How many more years does Phil Jackson have in him?

Phil Jackson will be in LA as long as their is championship potential. I truly believe that Kobe and Phil will retire together. I can see it now, Kobe has 6 or 7 rings, Phil Jackson has 12 or 13, and both take a bow down as their names are lifted to the rafters at Staples Center. Put into realistic terms, I think that Phil will continue coaching until he sees that his team is no longer competitive for a title. He has accomplished enough to not have to go back and build from the ground up. The Lakers in 2005 were his last building project that he was willing to take on.

-- Ben (benjamin.golliver@gmail.com)

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