Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers have made it no secret that they are willing to trade Pau Gasol. Unfortunately, his age, injures and salary make a deal very difficult to swing. With Kobe Bryant out for the foreseeable future, Steve Nash likely out until he finally retires, and 24 losses in their last 38 games, L.A. management is understandably revisiting what they could get for their only tradable asset – even if his value is at its lowest point ever right now.
According to the International Business Times, there has been some speculation about a deal between the Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers that would send Gasol plus a pick to Philly, and land a package of Thaddeus Young plus Tony Wroten in Los Angeles.
It’s clear why this deal would be good for the Lakers. The chances of them getting a top three draft pick are slim – and outside the top three this draft is unpredictable. It’s more solid than it has been in recent years, but still unpredictable. Unloading a pick and Gasol for a talented, athletic guy like Young who would fit seamlessly in Mike D’Antoni’s system makes sense. And Wroten is one of the league’s more promising young point guards; given the Lakers’ hole at that position, this would be a great pick-up for them.
Unfortunately, this deal doesn’t make as much sense when you look at it from Philly’s point of view. Sure they would get cap space by letting Gasol go, but is the Lakers’ draft pick really worth giving up Wroten for?
It’s worth keeping an eye on how bad the Lakers get over the next couple of weeks. If it starts to look like they may have a legitimate shot at a top three pick, things may get interesting quickly. But if they’re staring at picking anywhere from 5-10, then Kupchak will have a hard time getting the value he wants out of that pick.
Steve Nash went into the locker room during halftime of the Los Angeles Lakers’ embarrassing blowout loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday night, and he never returned. The official cause cited by team officials was back pain, and while that may be true for this particular incident, it’s only part of why he’s been so ineffective over the past year and change.
Nash, 39, has struggled with back issues throughout his entire career. They never stopped him from playing no fewer than 75 games between 2004 and 2011. In his final year with the Phoenix Suns Nash played 65 games – his lowest total since 1999. The writing was on the wall. This wasn’t back pains aching up because the weather was cold, it was old age.
Two games into his run with the Los Angeles Lakers last year, Nash suffered a fracture after banging knees with Damian Lillard. He was initially supposed to miss a week; he ended up missing two months/32 games.
After a full summer of recovery, everyone understood that this season would tell us everything we needed to know about Nash. If he could be healthy, then all was good in the world. If he couldn’t, then it couldn’t just be chalked up to bad luck.
Despite missing two of the Lakers’ first eight games so that he could rest, Nash is averaging 7.6 points on 28 percent shooting this year. With this most recent injury, one that will keep him out at least two weeks, it’s safe to say that things aren’t getting better.
For obvious reasons, some folks have been calling on the former two-time MVP to retire.
In an interview with Ken Berger of CBS Sports, Nash, sounding surprisingly defiant, made it perfectly clear that he would play out his deal with the Lakers.
“I've got 18 months,” he said. “So we'll see. Hopefully, I can get through 18 months and contribute and produce.
When pressed on whether he would consider calling it quits after this season if he felt like he wasn’t the same player anymore, Nash offered this reply:
“I don't think so,” he admitted. “I'm already not the player I want to be and just [have] a different body. My body's different. I'm still trying to adjust and adapt and get my body to accept a certain amount of the pounding and forces and be able to adjust my game and still be productive. I still feel like I've got a lot of life left without basketball so I'm going to try to enjoy it and make the most of these last 18-20 months, whatever it is.”
Unfortunately, whether they like it or not, it sounds like the Lakers are stuck with Nash.
The Los Angeles Lakers defeated Dwight Howard’s Houston Rockets 99-98 on Thursday night. Although this was neither the latter team’s first loss nor the former’s first win of the year, the game held a special sort of significance because of the way things ended between Howard and the Lakers this summer.
Despite the Lakers holding a commanding lead at certain points of the ballgame, a Rockets run felt inevitable throughout. Surely enough, led in large part by James Harden, Houston stormed back in the third and fourth quarters.
In desperate need to stop the momentum, Mike D’Antoni turned to a proven formula – fouling Howard. It worked. Thanks to Howard missing seven free throws late, the Lakers found themselves down a basket with less than two seconds remaining.
Enter: Steve Blake.
The beautiful thing about that play, if you’re a Lakers fan, is that Howard’s inability to recover ended up being the reason why Blake was able to get such a clean shot off. If Howard had played that sequence the way he was supposed to, his length would’ve disrupted Blake’s rhythm.
Of course, as fun as it is to pile on Howard, he’s not the only reason they lost. Jeremy Lin and Patrick Beverley deserve their fair share of the blame, too. Howard had to recover because of how awful their switch was. It’s not difficult to see that Kevin McHale was prepared for the is inevitable screens, but his whole scheme was contingent on players making the switches that needed to be made. Lin and Beverley didn’t.
Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest basketball players of all time, an unquestionable warrior, and a model of where hard work and never-ending dedication to your craft will get you. He’s also a 17-year veteran who has played in more than 1200 regular season games and 200 playoff games. His ability to recover from injury and play through the pain is a thing of legend – but it’s time to be realistic.
When Bryant ruptured his Achilles at the end of last year, some people speculated that he would be back by opening night. That was nonsense, of course. He 35 years old and doesn’t boast magical recoverability powers. Surely enough, the healing process has been slow and without all that many updates on his progress.
On Tuesday night, as the Los Angeles Lakers were busy getting trampled by the Dallas Mavericks, Bryant was asked if he had a return date in mind.
"Not yet,” he admitted. “I'm pushing it, and this past week's felt pretty good.”
If the “it’s feeling pretty good” line combined with Bryant’s vagueness about his return made you cringe, it’s probably because it sounds so much like what Andrew Bynum used to say. He would always be making progress. Things would always be swell. But the on-court results, aside from that last season, never quite matched the optimism.
"We're all being pretty smart about the process and taking our time and making sure I come back ready to go,” Bryant added.
It’s good that Bryant is being cautious. For all intents and purposes, this is a lost season. Him rushing back despite not having healed yet can only hurt all involved, not help. But it’s important to understand the situation at hand and be realistic about it. Bryant isn’t coming back any time soon. And when he does, he may look like a very different player.
Fortunately, he seems prepared for that.
"I grew up, fortunately, understanding the fundamentals of the game and footwork and spacing, timing and things of that nature,” he said. “I feel like I can adjust my game to whatever it is I can do physically -- whether I have lift or I don't have lift or if I have the same explosiveness or I don't have the same explosiveness, I feel like I'll be able to adjust just fine."
The Los Angeles Lakers are going to look very different in two years. Regardless of whether they are able to sign a few big name stars or not, the ages of the franchise’s best players make big changes inevitable.
With Kobe Bryant still out for the foreseeable future and the team seemingly being fortunate just to be 2-2 thus far, understandably the attention has veered away from present day and onto what the future holds.
Steve Nash, 39, is quickly approaching the end of his NBA career. When the Lakers traded for him last year they knew the risk involved – Nash had struggled with back problems throughout his entire stint with the Phoenix Suns. Unfortunately, two games into the 2012-13 regular season, the former two-time MVP went down with an injury that nobody saw coming: a leg fracture. He sat out a large chunk of last year as a result, and even when he returned, he was a shell of his former self. Now, a full season later, he’s still struggling.
"I'm still fighting things that happened because of the broken leg," Nash told reporters recently. "I still feel that almost every day, all over. It's not just in that spot. The whole system in a way is different now, it's just a little bit more sensitive.”
When the Lakers acquired Nash, they had visions of a Showtime-esque team featuring him running the point. That dream is now officially dead. At this point, it’s just about Nash being somewhat productive.
A month ago, before the regular season began, Fox Sports reported that the Lakers were considering making a ‘substantial’ trade for a point guard because they felt like they could only get 15-20 minutes of play out of Nash per game. The obvious problem with that rumor was that: a.) the Lakers have nobody to trade for a good point guard, and b.) there aren’t any good point guards that anyone is willing to part ways with.
Surely enough, nothing happened. And while there are some murmurs about Nash landing with the Toronto Raptors this week, there is also pretty much no shot of that happening. The Raptors wouldn’t give L.A. anything worth taking, and there is really no incentive for them to bring on a massive, bloated salary that will offer them very little in the way of production.
They may want to replace him, but for better or worse, at least this year, the Lakers are stuck with Nash.
The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Atlanta Hawks 105-103 on Sunday night. Steve Nash helped lead the way for the home team, scoring 13 points on five of seven shooting and dishing out six assists. Through three games, taking out the second game of a back-to-back versus the Golden State Warriors that he didn’t play in, this was clearly Nash’s most solid, complete effort.
For comparison’s sake, in the other two games against the Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs, Nash put up seven points and three points, respectively. Those totals came on a combined two-of-eleven shooting.
Nash, 39, looks exactly the way you would expect a point guard four months shy of his 40th birthday to look. He’s slow. He’s injury-prone. He’s a shell of his former self. And he’s owed $19 million over the next two years.
When the Lakers traded for him, they envisioned Nash throwing up alley-oops to Dwight Howard. Instead he ended up being a big reason why Howard departed for the Houston Rockets. Sure, the tumultuous relationship with Kobe Bryant didn’t help, but Nash was the reason why Jim Buss hired Mike D’Antoni over Phil Jackson. The latter would’ve made the offense more suited to Howard’s needs. The former wanted to bring back a seven seconds or less offense with a bunch of 30+ year olds.
What you see with Nash is what you get. He’ll have the occasional double figure scoring night, sure, but he’ll will never be what he once was. Everyone, including the Lakers, can see that now. Which is probably why you’re starting to hear things like this leak out:
Steve Nash is another vet who may be traded this year. I've heard Toronto as a possible landing spot for Nash from multiple league sources.
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) November 4, 2013
You will recall, a year ago when Nash was a free agent, the Toronto Raptors expressed a lot of interest in signing him. They went so far as to sign Landry Fields to a god-awful contract just to keep the New York Knicks from getting hm. In that regard, their supposed current interest in him makes sense – sort of. Then again, why would a team looking to rebuild and get young want to add someone who will still be on the books next year? Beyond that, the Lakers have no picks to send to Toronto – and this year is all about accumulating picks for the draft.
There have been rumors over the past few weeks that the Raptors are considering trading Rudy Gay. He has often been mentioned as a fallback free agent prospect for L.A., if they fail to get LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, etc., so him getting back in a potential swap makes sense – again, sort of. Then again, why would the Lakers tie themselves down financially and guarantee that they won’t be able to get a big name star when, let’s face it, Gay has proven that he’s not even particularly good second option.
Might the Lakers trade Nash to Toronto? Anything can happen. Will it happen? Nope.
Lamar Odom is currently without an NBA team. Although he has consistently maintained that he is not ready to hang up his jersey yet, the 33-year-old’s recent history speaks for itself. Last year, with the Los Angeles Clippers, he averaged four points and six rebounds in 20 minutes of action per game. The prior season, with the Dallas Mavercks, he averaged seven points and four rebounds in 21 minutes of action per game. In both cases, the teams he played for weren’t left particularly impressed with his conditioning or ability to contribute.
It’s easy to forget that just two seasons ago, Odom was a Sixth Man of the Year playing some of the best basketball he had ever played. Sure, the totals may not have been as high as the ones he put up when he was a centerpiece with the Clippers (the first time around) and Miami Heat, but they were far more meaningful. We all know what happened, though. He got Kardahianed. Then he got traded in a vetoed Chris Paul trade. And then he got traded in a real trade.
A few weeks ago, we began hearing whispers that the Lakers were interested in giving him another look. This culminated in a supposed meeting between him and members of the organization – one that nobody actually confirmed or denied. Because Odom has always been such a massive fan favorite among purple and gold faithful, this was met with a lot of positivity. Not because of Odom’s potential contributions, of course, because he looks pretty much done, but just because it would be a good way to provide some stability to a guy who seems to desperately need it.
Unfortunately, it looks like the odds of Odom returning to the Lakers are getting slimmer by the day. The Lakers looked fantastic in their season opener against the Clippers, and it’s unlikely that Mike D’Antoni will want to shake up all of the chemistry and positivity with an unnecessary distraction. Moreover, in a recent interview with TMZ, former Lakers coach Phil Jackson said that he suspected ‘the bridge might have been burned’ when it comes to Odom and Lakers brass. He elaborated on this in this preview:
The good news for Odom is this: the Lakers are stacked at the guard positions. That means if they do decide to add someone, it will be a big. And the longer they hold out on adding someone, the less options there are for them to pick someone besides him.
Kobe Bryant is in the final year of his contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. After collecting his largest paycheck ever for what will most likely be his least productive campaign in a long time, the two-time NBA Finals MVP will become a free agent on July 1.
This past week, T.J. Simers of the Orange County Register wrote a story in which he said that L.A. would likely allow Bryant to become a free agent, just so that they can construct a strong roster. Then they would re-sign him, obviously to a much smaller amount that the league-high $30.5 million he’s slated to pull in this year.
A few days later, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN penned her own report – only she spoke to the Lakers’ executive VP of basketball operations before doing so. According to Jim Buss, the team has already begun negotiations with Bryant over his new, much smaller final NBA contract, and they expect it to be completed before the former NBA MVP even gets close to free agency.
"I want to put an end to any speculation that we would allow Kobe to become a free agent," Buss said. "That's not going to happen. Kobe is a top priority for us. He's a Laker legend and always will be. I don't think we're done winning championships with him yet.
Bryant is currently recovering from the left Achilles surgery that he had at the end of last season. While the team hasn’t reported any setbacks, neither he nor the Lakers have announced when exactly he is scheduled to return.
Just a few months ago there was talk of him returning for opening night, however, with L.A.’s only real basketball team scheduled to take on the Los Angeles Clippers tonight, obviously that’s not going to happen.
The Lakers are going to have the cap space to pursue at least one max-level player next summer, maybe two, and Bryant taking less money is almost as important from a symbolic standpoint as it is from a financial one. It’s no secret that a lot of big name stars and mid-tier roleplayers have avoided L.A. in the past because of Bryant, and him stepping aside for the sake of the team in contract negotiations would be a clear sign to incoming free agents that he’s willing to hand over the reins to them in a way he wasn’t with Dwight Howard.
Los Angeles Lakers fans embrace just about everyone who puts on the purple and gold, but few players ever received the sort of unconditional support that Lamar Odom got. From his first day with team, through that awkward period when he was traded in the vetoed Chris Paul deal, and ending with him getting moved to the Dallas Mavericks – everyone who calls themselves a Lakers fan loved Odom.
The reason for this is quite simple: he is a great guy. A great guy who has had to deal with way more sadness and tragedy than anyone should ever be confronted with.
By now, everyone knows what Odom has been forced to endure over the past few months. His marriage is reportedly on the rocks. He is allegedly battling some drug problems. And unfortunately, because of his wife’s last name, he has had to deal with it all under the watchful eye of annoying TMZ reporters.
It’s hard enough to get your life back on track after a rough patch – doing it with Harvey Levin’s mindless trolls following you around makes it all but impossible.
This week, Odom was confronted by a TMZ reporter who pressed him on a meeting he reportedly had with the Lakers last week. When asked about how legit talks were, the 33-year-old played it coy. He did, however, drop this tidbit: "I can play a basketball game and probably play really well right now."
Look, there is a very good chance that Odom can’t play basketball anymore. And any team that adds him to the roster, regardless of what he says, should do it with the mindset that they’re signing the guy we saw with the Los Angeles Clippers last season and not the one who won Sixth Man of the Year just two seasons ago.
That being said: the Lakers should do their damndest to find a roster spot for Odom. Given all of the wasted slots we’ve seen given to guys who everyone knew weren’t going to play in the past, giving one to a guy who is as beloved by the fan base is Odom makes a lot of sense. Every team needs 11th and 12th guys – Odom can be one of those.
Here’s to hoping that one of the best guys to ever put on Lakers colors over the past decade gets to retire with the only franchise that ever really cared about him.Lamar Odom -- I CHOSE Not to Attend Kim/Kanye Proposal - Watch More Celebrity Videos or Subscribe
Carmelo Anthony has two years left on his contract with the New York Knicks. If he were to extend his deal right now, he would be leaving a lot of money on the table. Conversely, if he plays out this season and then uses his opt-out in the summer of 2014, he can command five years and nearly $130 million from the Knicks.
Obviously, as anyone else in his shoes would, Anthony is going to play out this year and then opt out. It’s the common sense move to make, and it shouldn’t be particularly controversial. Unfortunately, because he plays for the Knicks, and because the Los Angeles Lakers have expressed interest in him before, it has become controversial.
Earlier this week, in an interview with the New York Observer, Anthony admitted that he was looking forward to becoming a free agent. He didn’t indicate that wanted to leave or anything of that sort, he just made it clear that he wanted to experience the sort of thing that he saw LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and Dwight Howard experiencing in years past.
The reality of this situation is, though: the Knicks can still offer Anthony $30 million-plus more than any other team in the league, including the Lakers. So that means if LA hopes to steal him away, they’ll have to dangle something besides money in front of him.
When the Lakers have brought in stars and superstars before, it’s always been from places that aren’t as impressive as Los Angeles is. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work here. New York and L.A. are both great places to live, and seeing as Anthony was born in New York, it’s probably safe to assume that he likes it just fine.
Some people have pointed out the fact that, this summer, Howard left $30-plus million on the table to ditch the Lakers for the Houston Rockets. If he could do it, why can’t Anthony? Well, because Anthony hasn’t shown any real contempt for the Knicks, whereas Howard hated everything about the Lakers. He hated Kobe Bryant. He hated Mike D’Antoni. He hated that people held him accountable for his immaturity and petulance. He made it very clear, all 2013, that he wanted to bolt. Anthony hasn’t shown any of those signs.
Finally, what exactly will the Lakers have to offer Anthony in terms of teammates? Sure they’ll have a lot of cap space in 2014, but who will they be able to get with that cap space? What sort of players do you need to put beside Anthony for him to successful? A Chauncey Billups-type of point guard? Maybe. He doesn’t play well with Amare Stoudemire. He didn’t play especially well with Allen Iverson. He couldn’t make it work with Jeremy Lin. Would the Lakers even be able to structure the team around him?
Of course, this debate might be completely moot if Anthony’s sole reason to wanting to become a free agent is just money. And based on his comments last night, it seems like that might be the case.
“I don’t want to go anywhere,’’ he told reporters on Thursday.
Well, okay then.