TNT analyst Kenny Smith on the job. ( Ronald Martinez / Getty…)
To tackle some questions regarding the Lakers' 2012-13 season, I talked with TNT NBA analyst Kenny Smith, who has been recently promoting the video game, "NBA Baller Beats." This is the second of a two-part interview with Smith.
What's the ideal amount of minutes Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash should play in the regular season? I would say players still got to play. The only reason they're good is that they are players on the court. If they have a steady diet of 37 minutes, that's more realistic than 42. I think those guys can play 41 minutes a night, but it's better if they are in that 37-minute realm.
What improvements do you see the bench making relative to last year? They have much more talent. With [Jodie] Meeks, they never had a guy who could hit big buckets like him. Same with Antawn Jamison. These guys are disappointed when they don't get double figures. I don't think before the Lakers had guys who were accustomed to play off of Kobe and playing off of [Andrew] Bynum. These guys don't need to play off anybody. They can make their own shots and do some of their own things. That's what's probably going to be the biggest improvement.
How do you view Andrew Bynum's seven-year career with the Lakers? I thought he did well. He came in the league around 17-18 years old. If he had gone to college for four years, he'd be entering his fourth year in the NBA. I look at him as he established himself as an All-Star in four years. He is where he is supposed to be. At 18, 19 or 20 years old, you're not going to dominate the game. There are very few guys who can come in there and do that. He's right on course on being a good center and player in the league.
With Bynum joining Philadelphia, what do you see as his next step in continuing his development? I think he'll realize he's playing with some talented young kids. He's not coming in to be a savior. He's coming in to score, rebound and do the same things he was doing in L.A. The only difference is he will have even more minutes at it.
How concerned were you with his inconsistent performances? I always thought he had a full effort. I just thought there were statements made that you could ask the guy who is 10 feet away from you. I'm from a different era. I never had a problem talking to a coach. I didn't need to go to the papers. The guy is sitting 10 feet away from you, so have a conversation with him. I just felt a lot of times his conversations became public. I'm from a different school of thought. If I have a problem with you, you're 10 feet away and I'm going to talk and figure it out. I don't think both he and the coaching staff at times handled it correctly.
How can Bynum manage that better? Just realize if he has an issue, go to the source first. You can see the questions coming. 'Mike Brown said you shouldn't take those threes.' He should've said, 'I'll have a conversation with him' instead of 'I'll take the next one.' He argued with someone that wasn't even there. That doesn't make sense. He could've had a conversation with Mike and explained why he took a three.