Podkast w/Beto Duran: Kobe's wrist, wing depth, and Hall and Oates

Like Soundgarden, the Lakers have fallen on black days since the opening of camp. Chris Paul's painfully brief tenure as a Laker. Lamar Odom's painfully abrupt exit. The Lakers' painfully one-sided loss to the Clippers in the preseason. Kobe Bryant's just-plain-painful wrist injury. Granted, we recorded this show before Wednesday's Lakers-Clippers rematch, which presented some positives in a loss. But even as someone who doesn't quite believe the sky has fallen, it's equally difficult to believe the sky's the limit for this squad.

So where exactly do the Lakers stand with Christmas fast approaching? Along with 710 ESPN's Beto Duran, we dig into the current state of affairs. You can hear the entire show by clicking here, and below is a breakdown of talking points.

- (4:00) To gauge an idea of the current mood, I pose a question. Which atmosphere feels more ominous: The days leading into the 2008 season (preceded by Kobe's radio tour), or now? They both say 2012, and as Beto notes, the increased presence of social media only encourages fans and media to pile on.

- (6:30) We recorded before Kobe said he'd be "fine" for the Christmas opener, but the notion of him suiting up doesn't entirely eliminate all concerns. How much will a wrist connected to a shooting hand with mangled fingers affect Kobe? Does playing through the injury mean it won't heal at all this season? But on the flip side, can the Lakers afford to miss his presence for an extended period?

- (8:30) Mike Brown's systems on both sides of the ball represent such a radical shift from the recent past, even Kobe is a learner during preseason. Getting up to speed during a compressed season with fewer practices and new faces is a tough battle in and of itself. But on top of that challenge, the Laker core has to deprogram themselves from years of triangular instincts and the Phil Jackson way of doing everything. Brian and I call upon a pair of films for suggestions to expedite the process.

- (12:00) As BK recently examined, the Lakers are now exceptionally short on players capable of creating their own shot. The list is basically Kobe... plus Pau Gasol if someone feeds him the ball. However, the team's filled with good passers, so creating for each other shouldn't be problem. Will that collective skill set be enough to compensate?

- (16:20) After hearing us break down all the doom and gloom, we suspect Laker fans could use a reason to smile. Well, we've gotcha covered: Callin' Oates, the emergency Hall and Oates helpline!!! We select option #2, "Rich Girl," and sing away the blues. Or, more specifically, I do most of the singing, while Brian laughs at my singing, and Beto realizes he's never heard of Hall and Oates. Which, to me, is a bigger tragedy than the Lakers somehow ending up a lottery team.