Frank Vogel, Coach of the Year?

(Image/Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

In spite of widespread skepticism, Frank Vogel has smoothly guided the Los Angeles Lakers through his first regular season as coach.

Frank Vogel never had a honeymoon. Most coaches, upon being hired, are greeted with a sort of hopeful enthusiasm. Fans are fans for a reason, and have a well-documented tendency to hope for the best. Instead, Vogel was hired under a cloud of controversy after the exhaustively documented breakdown in talks between the Lakers and erstwhile LeBron James coach, Tyronn Lue.

Many in the media and online dismissed Vogel as a third choice coach and placeholder for assistants Jason Kidd and Lionel Hollins. It was widely assumed that he would be the fall guy, should the team run into any real trouble.

In spite of the noise, the team rallied around Vogel from the first. LeBron James – the most important voice in the locker room – already respected Vogel from his days in Miami. When he played in consecutive Eastern Conference Finals series’ against the Vogel-coached Indiana Pacers. The rest of the locker room got the message.

Vogel’s open, direct, and collaborative style has proven successful while managing a team with two experienced superstars and a staff with two former head coaches. Who are also former star players. He has navigated potentially difficult dynamics by sustaining team success. He has been even and measured in his public comments, always realistic but never too high or too low.

(Image/Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Offensively, his sets have gotten some criticism for not being particularly imaginative. His reputation coming into this season was predominantly as a defensive coach, and no one currently on the coaching staff fits the “offensive coordinator” role. Especially in the way that Tex Winter did for another defensive-minded Laker head coach, Phil Jackson.

During the season, he took significant heat for under-utilizing the LeBron James/Anthony Davis screen-and-roll in favor of post-ups or isolation plays. In part, that was a reaction to the way the Lakers have been defended this season. When Davis is being guarded by a position 4 player or the opposing team plays a smaller 5, teams are switching the screen-and-roll. That leads naturally to mismatches and isolation play.

In the playoffs, when teams are heavily scouted and offensive sets are known to all. Offensive play in recent years has frequently degenerated into the cat-and-mouse game of manipulating switches to create advantageous match-ups. Purposefully creating perimeter isolation or post up situations for James and Davis throughout the season is, in all probability, designed to get the team accustomed to the style of offense they are likely to be playing in the post-season.

(Image/Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

Defensively, Vogel has been superb. The Lakers are third in the NBA in defensive rating (up from 13th last year), and the team-wide buy-in has been noticeable. The late-season addition of a strong, versatile defender in Markieff Morris only stands to improve an already stingy Laker defense.

Overall, Vogel has built an impressive case for himself in the Coach of the Year balloting. He has stiff competition in Toronto’s Nick Nurse, who has kept the Raptors in the top tier in the East in spite of losing Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green from last year’s championship squad. Mike Budenholzer of the Bucks would be a top contender, but he was last year’s victor and the voters dislike consecutive wins – only once has any coach won back-to-back CotY awards.

Other coaches from teams who are not top-tier, such as Indiana’s Nate McMillan and Memphis’ Taylor Jenkins, have made waves by maximizing limited rosters. But are disadvantaged by the fact that both Vogel and Nurse are coaching contending teams.

Whether he ultimately receives the award or not, Frank Vogel has been a reasonable, steady hand for a team that needed a down-to-earth coach who could nonetheless earn the respect of the star-studded team and coaching staff. The real test of his ability will come in the playoffs. But thus far he has provided everything that Laker fans could have wanted from him.


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3 Stars the Los Angeles Lakers Can Trade For

Los A (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)ngeles Lakers
(Image/Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

Anthony Davis and LeBron James have changed the Lakers from a lottery team to a championship contender in the space of a year. Could a 3rd star set them up for a dynasty?

With the trade that sent Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and numerous picks, to the New Orleans Pelicans for superstar power forward Anthony Davis, the Los Angeles Lakers set themselves up for the future.

While setting themselves up for the future, they also had a firm eye on winning right now. With superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the purple and gold have ample opportunity to compete for a championship this season, and win their 17th NBA Championship.

The Lakers seemed confident in landing Kawhi Leonard as their 3rd star. But he joined city rivals the Los Angeles Clippers. The Lakers then seemed confident that Kyle Kuzma was going to be the 3rd star. That also did not work out. While there is still potential in Kuzma, his spot in the starting line-up is unlikely with LeBron James and Anthony Davis both playing in the position in which Kuzma plays.

The thought process all along for the purple and gold is to have a trio of superstars capable of helping the team win for the short, medium, and long term.

While the Lakers have a firm eye on Giannis Antetokounmpo in the summer of 2021, the likelihood that he leaves all that money on the table after COVID-19 dwindles each day.

So how can the Los Angeles Lakers land the 3rd star they desperately want?

Here are 3 options the Los Angeles Lakers could take to land their 3rd Star. Click through the below link to navigate through the options.

NEXT: Jrue Holiday

Los Angeles Lakers: Draft Options for 2020 NBA Draft

Los Angeles Lakers
(Image/David Dow/NBAE/Getty Images)

From Draft lottery hell to potential NBA Finals contenders, the past 12 months have seen some huge changes for the Los Angeles Lakers. Can the purple and gold find another diamond in the rough with their 1st round pick this year?

What a difference a year makes. On May 14th, 2019, the Lakers were given a gift in the form of the 4th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. This pick, which later turned into De’Andre Hunter, was sent to the New Orleans Pelicans. Along with Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and several future drafts pick considerations and swaps. for superstar Power Forward Anthony Davis.

A deal that has benefited both sides so far. With LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the purple and gold have a real shot at winning a ring this year. The bad news, which cannot be considered bad news, is the Lakers will not have a lottery pick.

Any Laker fan would trade a chance at a ring for a lottery pick in a heartbeat. With the Lakers potentially picking in the late ’20s or hopefully 30th overall, it lowers their chances of landing a player who is going to come in and make a large impact.

Well, that is what most teams think when they are picking that late in the 1st round. The Lakers have made it a habit to pick players at the end of the 1st round and 2nd who have outplayed their draft selection.

Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Mortiz Wagner, Thomas Bryant, Isaac BongaIvica Zubac, and Svi Mykhailiuk have all contributed to the Lakers and have also been valuable pieces to each of the teams they now play for.

Can the Lakers find another diamond in the rough? With the scouting department the franchise has and the proven track record of finding good players late in the draft, I wouldn’t bet against the purple and gold.

With that being said, select the below link to see players the Los Angeles Lakers can target in the NBA 2020 Draft.

NEXT: Tre Jones

Re-Signing Superstar Power Forward Anthony Davis

(Image/Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

The Los Angeles Lakers and their young star, Anthony Davis, look to take their relationship to the next level.

When they acquired Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans after a lengthy public courtship, the Lakers justly celebrated a mission accomplished. Having acquired LeBron James, they paired him with another superstar just entering his athletic prime. At a stroke, they had made the team a Finals contender again.

Yet, given the probability that Davis uses his player option and becomes a free agent after this season. The Lakers, as well as Davis’ agent (and burgeoning global mastermind) Rich Paul, have had one eye on the contract negotiation to follow. While Davis had forced his way to the Lakers specifically and was widely expected to re-sign with the team, seeing Kawhi Leonard leave Toronto in free agency after winning a title has been enough to stoke furious speculation about Davis’ upcoming off-season throughout the year.

The most likely course has always been that Davis would opt-out to become a free agent, then sign a two-year deal that made him more money than his current contract. In two years, his 10th year in the league makes him eligible for a veteran maximum deal. Davis would then secure a huge contract.

The probability of sudden salary cap reductions following the massive loss of revenue from the coronavirus shutdown complicates matters. Most of the Lakers’ current salary is on contract through next year, and the Lakers may not be able to afford the deal Davis and his agent was expected to sign this summer.

If the salary cap cuts are steep enough, it may end up being more profitable for Davis to decline his player option and extend his current contract one more year. Ideally negotiating when the virus shutdowns have been safely lifted and the league revenue situation is clearer.

One thing that seems clear is that, regardless of the salary situation, the Lakers remain the runaway favorites to secure Davis’ services for the long haul. They have a championship-caliber roster, future space to secure another max player as James ages. Not to mention the well known climatic and financial advantages provided by the city of Los Angeles.

Furthermore, the coming cap crunch will be felt across the league, crippling the ability of other teams to offer a contract sufficient to lure Davis away from his chosen destination.

Anyone living in our current timeline would be a fool to dismiss the unlikely, but it would take a significant unforeseen event to prevent Davis from returning. That makes the Lakers’ plan for the next five years to first secure a long-term star to pair with Davis through his prime, then fill out the roster with cheap but high-value contracts.


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Who Will Be the Final Piece of the Lakers’ Puzzle?

(Image/Harry How/Getty Images)

After waiving guard Troy Daniels on March 1, the Los Angeles Lakers look to acquire the final piece of the puzzle in their pursuit of the championship. 

LeBron James’ former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate Dion Waiters is one of the front runners to fill the final spot on the roster after impressing the Los Angeles Lakers during a workout on the March 2.

Waiters can help command the second unit and is used to being heavily involved. Although it is a very small sample size (3 games), during this season Waiters has a high usage rating of 29.6% combined with a 47.3% from 3-point land. These stats show that Waiters can handle the ball and be relied on to create points.

Looking back at a more complete sample; during the 2018-19 season these percentages dropped to 21.3% and 37.7%, respectively. Although these dropped quite significantly it’s still a relatively high usage/conversion rate.

His threat from 3-point range, along with his overall skill-set, gives the Lakers some much needed spacing and opens an opportunity for more cuts to the basket, as well as pressure around the rim.

(Image/Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports)

Waiters, if conditioned properly and with the right mindset, can be a huge bonus on the defensive end. Per Bleacher Report’s Jim Boehiem, who coached Waiters in college, was quoted saying “he has all of the tools necessary to be a formidable on-ball defender in the NBA. He’s got great quickness, strength and instincts”.  

The main issue with Waiters is his attitude and conditioning. Miami Heat suspended Waiters 3 times this season due to issues ranging from unprofessional conduct to eating edibles on the team plane. If Waiters came in with an open mindset then the culture and professionalism the Lakers offer could help turn his career around. Leaders like LeBron James could help ground Waiters and give him some much needed direction. 

Another former teammate of LeBron James, J.R. Smith is also in the running for the spot. Smith was part of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 2016 championship winning team which was spearheaded by James.

(Image/IB Times)

Smith can bring points off the bench which for the Lakers is a huge benefit as when Anthony Davis and/or LeBron James is off the floor there needs to be a body who can provide a scoring output.

Last season Smith was only averaging 6.7 points per game on 34.2% shooting. This isn’t that efficient, however it was a very small sample size of 11 games. With a higher calibre cast around him, Smith would get more open looks resulting in a higher efficiency potentially. During the 2015-16 Championship season, Smith had a 41.5% field goal percentage with an impressive 40% 3-point conversion rate.

By losing Troy Daniels, the Lakers have got rid of an efficient 3-point shooter. J.R smith can help fill that void. He’s a threat from deep with a career 3-point percentage of 37.3%. His main characteristic is being a streaky shooter, however when he gets hot, he ignites and rains them in from downtown.

Smith brings championship winning experience which will help as the Lakers look to push down the stretch and into the playoffs. The main issues regarding Smith is his age and his defensive capabilities. He will have to adjust to spare minutes coming off the bench and needs to be consistent from deep to have a positive impact.

Former Los Angeles Laker, Lance Stephenson has been enjoying a season in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) with the Liaoning Flying Leopards. But due to the coronavirus outbreak the league has suspended matches for the next few weeks, and have suggested extending it to months. Stephenson is open to the opportunity of returning back to the NBA if he finds the right team.

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(Image/ABS CBN Sports)

Stephenson is averaging the 12th highest points per game average in the CBA with 26.7. Whilst maintaining an efficient 52.2% shooting rate. Stephenson can create a lot of his own points and he showed this during the 2018-19 NBA season, with the Lakers, where 49.5% of his field goals were unassisted.

With LeBron James off the floor, the Lakers lose their main play-maker and one of the best passers in the league. Players like Stephenson can help relieve some of those play-making pressures.

A good passer and rebounder, Stephenson offers more to the game than just points. He’s an average defender and when needed will put the effort in and be an annoyance to his opponents. His passing will be needed with the bench unit as although he won’t necessarily be the main playmaker, he can find shooters in good spots.

One of Stephenson’s weaknesses is his streaky 3-point shooting. He shoots at a below average rate from deep and has been shooting 30% during this season in China. Although when with the Lakers previously, he was shooting at an above average 37.1%.

The beauty of having Stephenson in this type of bench role is that when he’s hot you can play him and know he’s going to create shots and points. But on the other hand, there isn’t necessarily a need for him to soak up minutes if he can’t get it going. He can sit.

The Lakers have a few options and these players will all come with pros and cons. However, if they are used in the right way then they all can elevate the team going into the postseason. It’s all about finding that gem in the rough and completing the puzzle.

DeMarcus Cousins to Re-sign Next Season?

(Image/NBA Los Angeles)

Frank Vogel, back in February, revealed that DeMarcus Cousins was “on track to get healthy by the playoffs“. However, a couple of days later, Vogel retracted his comments saying that Cousins was not close to a return.

Surprisingly a few days on from that, Cousins was waived to make room for Markieff Morris. But the 29-year-old could very well still have a future in Los Angeles. As it has been reported that himself and the Lakers have mutual interest in a contract agreement come the summer.

Cousins is coming off an ACL tear that he suffered during preseason. Such injury has ruined countless NBA careers. It’s a tightrope that unfortunately many have found themselves on throughout basketball history. Although, in recent years many have bounced back to their former selves.

It is likely that Cousins’ athleticism and physicality won’t be at the level it once was, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t get to a level near his former self. Zach LaVine and Kristaps Porziņģis are recent examples of players getting back to the top of their game following serious injuries.  

However, when Cousins returns, what would his skill-set offer the team?

DeMarcus Cousins offers a powerful offensive arsenal and is accustomed to being heavily involved. Looking back at the 2018-19 season with the Golden State Warriors, although it was a small sample size, he displayed some promising signs following an Achilles injury.

He had an impressive 111.0 offensive rating with a Player Impact Plus-Minus of 2.2+. This was the first season Cousins was playing with a Championship caliber team and he showed that he was up to the task.

Despite having a below average season from the 3-point line (27.4%), he was averaging 16.3 points on 48% shooting. This offense is what the Lakers need and having a bench unit commanded by Cousins could provide the firepower needed for a Championship run next season.

If Cousins can regain his efficiency from range that he displayed during his years in Sacramento and New Orleans, then it will be frightening for the rest of the league. 

Whilst looking at Cousins’ offensive impact, it’s important to have a look at his all-round game.

In his single season with the Warriors, his defensive rating was sitting at 106.5, with 1.5 blocks and 8.2 rebounds per game. For a lot of that season he was struggling and hesitant to get to the perimeter to contest deep shots. His rust and lack of conditioning was evident as his presence in the paint was not what it used to be also.

Towards the end of the campaign, Cousins showed glimpses that he has the skill and effort to be effective as he abused his size in the paint when blocking shots. 

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(Image/Getty Images)

With LeBron James off the floor, the Lakers could utilise Cousins’ play-making ability. Additionally, he could produce some much-needed points and spacing. 

No-one really knows exactly where Cousins will end up next season but for now he is rehabbing with the Lakers and that is beneficial for both parties. Cousins’ intangibles have really helped develop and grow the Laker culture and this was evident in Frank Vogel’s recent comments; “He’s become part of our family, so he’s going to be around”.

The Lakers’ actions towards Cousins will definitely play a positive part when he decides on his destination for next year. If he does come back to the purple and gold then an already blistering team will become more powerful.


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Should the Lakers Target Allen Crabbe?

(Image/Getty Images/David Berding)

On February 29, the Minnesota Timberwolves and Allen Crabbe agreed on a contract buyout. As first reported by The Athletic’s Shams Charania. Even though he’s faltered in recent years, Crabbe is a guard capable of scoring the ball. Isn’t that what the Los Angeles Lakers require?

Well-known for his later years with the Portland Trail Blazers between 2013-17, Allen Crabbe started making a name for himself in NBA circles as being a reliable scorer off the bench.

After impressing in his earlier years with the franchise, Crabbe found himself rewarded by the Trail Blazers with a lucrative 4-year, $75 million contract. This was followed by averages of 10.3 and 10.7 points in the 2015/16 and 2016/17 campaigns, respectively. In the latter he shot 44% from 3-point land, through 79 contests.

This led to a trade to the Brooklyn Nets. In his first season in Brooklyn he posted career-highs in points per game (13.2), rebounds per game (4.3), and assists per game (1.6). But his numbers have gone downhill since.

Crabbe found himself last suiting up for the Timberwolves, however he did start the season with the Atlanta Hawks. Where he was traded in a salary dump from the Nets last summer.

This season he is averaging 4.6 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 0.9 assists, in 37 games. Now, the 27-year-old finds himself searching for his fourth team in just two years.

Image result for allen crabbe timberwolves
(Image/Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports)

But the question remains, could the Lakers be interested in Crabbe’s services? The answer is, possibly.

Crabbe is a player that can heat-up at any time from a scoring standpoint. He may not be a ball handler, but can operate as a catch-and-shoot scorer, and at times, a creator.

Rewinding back to scoring, he boasts a career average of 38.9% from beyond the arc and has twice had 40% plus 3-point shooting seasons. However, the Los Angeles native does only possess a 6-foot-5 frame and would come with his defensive frailties.

Would Allen Crabbe provide much-more from a skill-set viewpoint than Quinn Cook or Troy Daniels? Maybe not. It can be seen why the purple and gold may have a lingering eye over Crabbe, but he probably wouldn’t improve the roster much, if at all.

The Lakers may be best off staying put, or exploring Dion Waiters, which it appears like they are.


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Harkless to Remain With Knicks, Lakers Have Eyes on Waiters

(Image/NBA Maniacs)

Ever since Moe Harkless‘ trade from the Los Angeles Clippers to the New York Knicks, the Los Angeles Lakers have been linked with a move for the 26-year-old via buyout.

Harkless was one of those included in the Marcus Morris deal. Strong indications were that he would request a buyout from the lowly Knicks, to join a contender. A request that multiple reports suggested would be granted if presented to New York’s front office.

The Lakers were in dire need of a defensive wing, and even with the recent acquisition of forward Markieff Morris, Harkless would have still been a desirable acquisition for the purple and gold.

Well, it appears that the New York native is staying put for the remainder of the campaign, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

It appears that all eyes in the Lakers front office are now diverted at free-agent guard, Dion Waiters. Who was bought-out from the Memphis Grizzlies, following his trade from the Miami Heat in the Andre Iguodala trade.

March 1 marks the final day for waived players to be playoff eligible for other teams. Waiters and the Lakers reportedly have a meeting set for March 2, as per Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports. This suggests that Rob Pelinka and Co are exploring the full market before speaking to the 28-year-old, for the second time.

Could the Lakers be closing in on Dion Waiters? It appears so. Especially with recent surprising news that free-agent guard, JR Smith, hasn’t been contacted by the Lakers yet. This was via Smith’s Instagram stores, in a Q&A session.


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Have the Lakers Found Their Man, Markieff Morris?

(Image/Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)

On February 24, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that Markieff Morris of the Detroit Pistons is set to be bought out. The Los Angeles Lakers were apparently the front-runners for Morris’ signature, with the Toronto Raptors being interested also.

A short time after, Shams then tweeted that Morris’ preferred option was to sign with the Lakers. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne then provided an update on the situation, stating that DeMarcus Cousins will be waived to make room on the roster.

The Lakers confirmed the Morris-Cousins moves following their 114-112 victory over rivals, the Boston Celtics, on February 23.

Marked as a forward, Morris isn’t necessarily the wing that the Lakers hoped to pursue. But he’s a solid defensive addition, with plenty of grit and aggression.

The latter has got the best of him in his career to date, so the move may hold an element of risk. However, with his twin, Marcus, recently being acquired with the Los Angeles Clippers via trade, the sibling rivalry could be a tasty one moving forward.

This season, Morris, Markieff that is, is shooting at an impressive 39.7% from 3. A career-high. Such a conversion rate from beyond the arc is definitely welcomed for the purple and gold. His stat-line for the current campaign is; 11 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists, in 44 games. 16 starts.

Offensively, he fills the 4 position. Meaning that Kyle Kuzma could see minutes at the 3, just like last season. Morris’ presence also provides spacing for the likes of LeBron James and Anthony Davis to operate, however.

Defensively, Morris is capable of being assigned one-on-one with opposition powerhouses. With his rough, tough mentality, he would definitely be a nuisance for the stars of the NBA.

Markieff Morris may not necessarily be a name that was on everyone’s wish list, but he’s a solid addition. Providing something different. His acquisition does definitely marginally improve the make-up of the roster.


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If Bought Out, Could Wayne Ellington Make His Way Back to the Lakers?

(Image/Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

The Los Angeles Lakers are riding high in the West. With the buy-out market just beginning, could the Los Angeles Lakers target someone like Wayne Ellington if he becomes available?

The Los Angeles Lakers sit atop the Western Conference standings, they have two All-NBA performers/MVP candidates in Anthony Davis and LeBron James and have a strong supporting cast helping them along the way.

The world isn’t crumbling around us Lakers Nation. This is a good team and the overreactions to losses need to stop. Now that’s been said, back to the article.

The Lakers spent the entirety of the trade deadline looking to make their roster stronger in areas in which they are potentially weak. A great focus was put on finding a play-making point guard who might be able to take the burden off James at times during the season and to quarterback the offense when the 35-year-old is off the floor.

The Lakers had earmarked Darren Collison as a potential addition to the roster, with interesting seemingly mutual from Collison and his camp, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Unfortunately, hopes were dashed when Collison and his team U-Turned and he decided to remain retired.

With the trade deadline now passed, the purple and gold will have to put all their energy into finding more depth via the buy-out and free agency market, both of which are slim pickings at this moment in time.

With the market stagnant right now, a lot of stock needs to be put in players that will potentially be bought out. One potential player that could be on the market very soon is New York Knicks guard Wayne Ellington.

With the Lakers having so many guards on their roster including Alex Caruso, Rajon Rondo, Quinn Cook, Troy Daniels, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Danny Green, it is fair to ask why would the Lakers need another guard?

Good question.

In Green and Caldwell-Pope, the Lakers have two players capable of playing minutes at the Small Forward position. With LeBron James currently fielding most if not all the minutes at this position, it is fair to say that he needs help and rest coming into the 2nd half of the season.

Allowing Green and Caldwell-Pope to take some minutes at the position allows for James to take breaks and stay healthy for the playoff run ahead.

Adding someone like Ellington allows for one or both of Green and Caldwell-Pope to get minutes at both the 2 and 3 spots without the quality of the shooting guard play being diluted with the juggling of minutes.

So what does Wayne Ellington offer the Lakers? Well, 3-point shooting.

While he is having a down year in term of 3-point shooting, Wayne Ellington is one person who opposing teams do not want to see get hot.

With his ability to catch-and-shoot, come off screens and shoot off the dribble, Ellington would offer the Lakers a consistent 3-point shooter. He would replace Troy Daniels on the depth chart.

Daniels was expected to do the above upon joining the Lakers this season but has yet to truly fire on all cylinders and could very easily be the 1st player out the door.

While Ellington’s numbers have been down this season, a significant portion of the blame can be put on the total mess that is the New York Knicks.

With the franchise in disarray, it is hardly a conducive environment for a player to do their best work. Put Ellington on a contender and let’s see what he can do.


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