This season, as always, the superstars and titans of the league have been battling to earn the NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award. Two of the main contenders are the Los Angeles Lakers superstar duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
The King of Los Angeles, LeBron James is like a fine wine that gets better with age. At the age of 35, he has led the purple and gold to the top spot in the Western Conference with an impressive record of 49 wins and 14 losses.
James is the facilitator and is constantly talking and shouting out plays. His passing this year has been exceptional and that along with his basketball IQ makes him one of the best playmakers in the league. This season James is averaging 10.6 assists per game. This is the highest in the league with the Atlanta Hawks’ Trae Young in second, with 9.3 per game. Alongside his playmaking skills, James’ scoring has been dominant, averaging an impressive 25.7 points per game. Most of these points come from his unprecedented ability to get to the rim with 14 drives per game which equates to 57% of his points.
He has been a threat from deep by being just below a league-average 3-point shooter and has increased his efficiency from last year (from .339% to .349%). This efficiency along with his great mid-range game and rim finishing equates to an effective field goal percentage of .555%. Which combined with 19.6 field-goals attempted per game is a hugely impressive feat.
Defensively James has been solid and the infamous chase down block has been on display many times in the city of angels. He has been grabbing a lot of rebounds with 7.9 per game, of which 6.9 are defensive. His insane athleticism along with his strength allows him to guard anyone if needed, and when players do get past him, he has the speed to recover and defend the rim.
When looking at Jacob Goldstein’s Player Impact Plus-Minus (PIPM) metric, LeBron James comes out as third in the league with a hugely impressive 6.10. Looking at the Player Efficiency Rating (PER) metric James has a rating of 26.0, which is in the top 10 in the league.
The 35-year-old superstar has been the focal point for this exceptional Lakers team. He has led the team to the top in a very competitive conference and has had some huge performances against other championship-contending sides. In the game against the Milwaukee Bucks on March 6, James had a sublime 37 points in 36 minutes. The game after that was against the Los Angeles Clippers in a great derby win where he had 28 points in 34 minutes. Both teams are very strong contenders and favourites to win the championship. James showed them what they should expect and fear in the playoffs.
LeBron James have proven this season that he is an extremely strong candidate for the MVP award. At the age of 35 there’s still no sign of him slowing down.
Navigate through the other MVP candidates via the link below.
It has been a breathtaking start to the Los Angeles Lakers’ season. Their early 5-1 record has the team recording their best start to a season since 2010.
The only defeat, thus far, came in the opening game to cross-city rivals, the Los Angeles Clippers on October 23. That game brought a vast amount of attention to the city of Los Angeles, as the whole world was fixated on the heavyweight match-up between two teams who are tipped and favored for the ultimate glory this season.
The sheer goal for the Lakers is to claim and assert their status as the kings of the iconic city of Los Angeles, lifting championship #17 in the process. However, it did not go according to plan in game #1, as there was a consistent problem throughout with their performance. Lack of aggression and a lack of grit on offensive rebounding being some of those issues.
Frank Vogel‘s Lakers only managed nine boards on the offensive end in comparison to Doc Rivers‘ defensive juggernauts who edged it with two more. The main deterrent of the performance was the turnovers. Ball retention was non-existent during certain spells of the game and possession was lost in key offensive plays.
Looking to debutants, two-time NBA champion Danny Green delivered a first class display notching up 28 points. The most by any player in his debut for the purple and gold, ever. Green was also among the focal point on rallying a spirited defensive urgency through the team which transpired halfway through the third quarter, as the Lakers closed out a deficit, to tie the game.
Late on showed elements of a lack of understanding throughout the team, which is to be expected with it practically being a completely newly constructed roster. Unfortunately this caused the game to be dropped, on the big stage, with the world watching.
There are now two relevant teams in Los Angeles which have a real shot at a championship. Kawhi Leonard‘s 30 points urged the Clippers to a huge 112-102 victory, taking part one in the battle of Los Angeles. However, there are many battles within a war.
The Lakers kicked off their home opener against a Quin Synder-led Utah Jazz team. LeBron James erupted for 32 points in this one and dominated the highlight reel with dazzling plays. One of those being a superb overhead lob pass in the paint to find fellow superstar Anthony Davis who dunked it home.
The performance was a much better defensive performance, as the Lakers kept the Jazz under 100 points and were far more aggressive in the rebounding category, putting together 11 offensive rebounds, 8 more than the Jazz.
In addition, Troy Daniels put on a fantastic display, knocking down four 3-pointers for 15 points on his official home Lakers debut. The purple and gold edged this one for a 95-86 win.
Sunday October 27, saw the Lakers rocking their fresh Sunday whites uniforms, as they looked to improve their season record to 2-1. In their way this time, the Charlotte Hornets.
Dwight Howard, who is adamant on gaining full respect and admiration from Lakers fans in his second spell with the franchise, posted a double-double, with 16 points, on 8-8 shooting, and 10 rebounds, along with 4 blocks.
Anthony Davis continued to display his excellence both offensively and defensively, racking up 29 points, 14 rebounds, and 3 assists. Both Davis and Howard were being a nuisance for the Hornets in the paint, who couldn’t cope with the sheer size of the Lakers down low.
An area which was a persistent issue was the amount of fouls given away, leading the Hornets to make 21 of 23 free throws on the night. LeBron James and Co. rallied to blow Charlotte away in the third quarter, which led the Lakers to a routine 120-101 win.
The following home game against the Memphis Grizzlies was a historic night for Anthony Davis, as he became the first Laker player to drop 40 points and 20 boards in 16 years. With the last player achieving this being none-other than Shaquille O’Neal.
Davis also set another record for achieving this in just under 31 minutes as he sat out for the entirety of the fourth quarter, as the Lakers blew out the Grizzlies 120-91 to achieve back-to back blowout wins within a week.
The improvements seemed to come along as Vogel ensured a more solid offensive strategy and rotation, with the Lakers converting 40-86 field goals. The purple and gold also kept the Grizzlies to just 32% shooting. Yet again, the Lakers held a team under 100 points. Solid defense.
It was an extremely positive opening month, which was technically just a week, for everyone involved in the Lakers organisation. The team have most definitely showed character and determination to push until the very end of games.
If it can be kept up and rotations are managed, the purple and gold can certainly make serious noise in a packaged Western Conference.
When one suggests a Los Angeles Lakers–Los Angeles Clippers rivalry, fans of the purple and gold have been quick to quell the thought. Such suggestions are met with familiar refrains such as: “we have 16 championships and the Clippers have none” or “when was the last time the Clippers even made it to the Conference Finals, much less the NBA finals?”.
Laker fans have brought up the Clippers’ past ownership of Donald Sterling, where the team boasted mostly laughable seasons between 1981-2014. In that time, the positive years for the franchise were only as a result of the NBA’s nixing of a Chris Paul trade to the Lakers, that resulted in the “Lob City” years, alongside Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
However, when one contemplates the recipe for a rivalry, the Lakers and Clippers should be considered foes soon, if not right now. Think about what actually makes for a good rivalry. In reviewing many of the great sports rivalries, they generally have all of, or most of the following:
Meaningful post-season encounters
Bad blood between fans
On-the-court instances of bad blood
Competition for similar resources
Meaningful post-season encounters is clearly the only lacking ingredient. The Lakers and Clippers have never met in the playoffs. Both franchises have rarely been good enough at the same time for this to even be a possibility. Additionally, the Clippers have not exactly been pillars of playoff success to this point in their history. Even with their “Lob City” golden years, the team never advanced beyond the second round.
During much of that time, the Lakers have had one of the worst records in the NBA, not making the playoffs for the past six seasons. However, with the purple and gold now having a core of Anthony Davis, LeBron James, and a deep team surrounding them, and the Clippers having Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, the two are set to meet in the post-season very soon.
While the ingredient of competition in meaningful post-season encounters has not historically been present, this promises to change in the near future, you would think.
As far as regular meetings and geographical proximity, this potential rivalry is as strong as it gets. Both teams literally share an arena in the same city and are both in the Pacific Division which guarantees regular meetings. As such, the two teams have the familiarity needed to foster a meaningful rivalry.
In addition, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on August 2 that the Lakers and Clippers were set for a mouthwatering 2019 Christmas Day showdown. On August 3, Shams Charania of The Athletic broke the news that both would face off in the opening game of the season (Oct 22). Both promise to be special occasions in the battle for Los Angeles, and depending on the results of course, memorable ones.
Some may argue that there is no true bad blood between fans. While this may have been the case in the past because the two franchises have not exactly been on any kind of equal footing, recent events have changed this. Twitter may not be an accurate view of fan-bases in general, but it does facilitate discussion with some of the more passionate aspects of a fan-base. And one best believe there is heated chatter back and forth between both sets of fans.
Laker fans have been quick to try and dismiss the Clippers as viable rivals due to their lack of post-season success. Clipper fans have tweaked Laker fans for living in the past. Just look at the reaction to posts about or from “Clipper Darrell”. And then, of course, there was that recent video of Laker fans taunting Kawhi Leonard as he was walking about the city. Clearly, as much as either fan base may not want to admit, the fans have become, and are becoming, more heated towards each other every day.
On-the-court instances of bad blood is arguably something lacking in a Lakers-Clippers rivalry. There is no one moment of heated confrontation that really comes to mind. However, there was an instance between the Kobe Bryant–Pau Gasol Lakers and the first year of the “Lob City” Clippers. This was in 2012, where the teams were involved in an on-court skirmish where multiple technicals were issued after Gasol touched Chris Paul on the head.
Again in 2012, Gasol clashed with Blake Griffin after a forearm dunk from Griffin knocked Gasol to the floor. This was six years ago though and there hasn’t been much else in the way of on-court bad blood since.
It could also be argued that the Clippers turning the tables on the Lakers in terms of head-to-head success in recent years should be enough to foster on-court bad blood. Since 2012, the Clippers have won the season series either 4-0 or 3-1, until last season where they tied 2-2.
Ultimately, the ingredient of competition for similar resources is the strongest of the rivalry ingredients, at least as of late. The Clippers were the recipient of Chris Paul rather than the Lakers back in 2012. Jerry West was a Lakers on-court and front office icon. Now, he’s helping the Clippers land key free agents. The Clippers were said to be among several teams in terms of a potential trade destination for Anthony Davis, before he made his intentions clear that he wished to go to the Lakers. The Lakers lost a head-to-head battle with the Clippers for the prize free agent of 2019, in Kawhi Leonard.
The Lakers felt that they “got played” by Leonard according to a report by Brian Windhorst of ESPN. Some believe the Lakers felt “played” because Leonard never meant to choose them all along. Rather, some felt that Leonard used the Lakers as leverage in order to pressure the Clippers to trade for another star. Or, worse yet, some believe that maybe Leonard delayed his free agency decision in order to sabotage the Lakers’ chances at landing other free agent stars that were available earlier on in free agency, such as D’Angelo Russell or Jimmy Butler.
Add to that the fact that Paul George, a coveted free agent prospect for the Lakers in 2018, failed to give the Lakers so much as a meeting before deciding to re-sign in Oklahoma City before demanding a trade to… the Clippers just one year later. Leonard also reportedly moved the location of a free agency meeting with the Lakers in order to secretly meet with George to presumably talk about teaming up.
Like it or not, the Clippers are a franchise to be taken seriously as competition to the Lakers in Los Angeles. The Lakers’ front office situation has been volatile of late while the Clippers’ have been so beyond reproach, executives are deciding to stay rather than get promotions elsewhere. While Laker fans are quick to bring up the teams’ respective pasts, these same fans are in danger of succumbing to the same Lakers exceptionalism that the franchise itself has become victim to all too frequently.
The Lakers franchise has fallen into trouble expecting their past achievements to equal current success. Fans are also in danger of underestimating a foe in the Clippers that is currently as formidable as any Laker foe of years past. The only thing missing is for both franchises to be good at the same time. This season promises to bring a change in this respect, and with it, a change in perspective from Laker fans.
Like it or not, the Clippers and Lakers will be rivals soon, if they are not rivals already.
Following Kawhi Leonard‘s decision to snub the Los Angeles Lakers to join cross-city rivals, the Los Angeles Clippers, Rob Pelinka and Co. moved fast to form a competitive roster in an alternative manner.
The Lakers signed the likes of Danny Green, Quinn Cook, DeMarcus Cousins, Avery Bradley, Troy Daniels, and Jared Dudley, whilst also retaining the talents of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo, and Alex Caruso. All construct a deep, experienced roster that is expected to challenge at the very top of the NBA in the upcoming season.
Many are praising the Lakers’ front office for the moves made so far. The atmosphere surrounding the franchise is a lot more positive than it was just a few months ago. It’s debatable whether the Lakers will be favourites to win the 2019/20 NBA title, but they should be there or thereabouts, depending on health.
We have brought some UK fans on board to give their views on a variety of topics, including; Kawhi Leonard, the Lakers’ off-season moves so far, the last roster spot, expectations moving forward, and more. Please welcome Mark, Jonathan, Ryan, and Timi.
Q: On July 10, Kawhi Leonard opted to sign for the Los Angeles Clippers over the Lakers and Raptors, what were your thoughts on his decision?
Mark:“Initially I was gutted. The prospective fit of Kawhi alongside AD and LeBron was so tantalising. In the end though he chose the Clippers, so I can only pity him.”
Jonathan:“My first reaction to Kawhi signing with the Clippers was like a gut punch. I think most Laker fans bought into the reports linking him to the Lakers because numerous high profile reporters who seemed to be in the know leaned heavily towards the Purple and Gold. After the initial shock wore off and the Lakers landed some very solid pieces who fit in within the team dynamic and direction the gut punch turned into optimism for the coming season.”
Ryan:“I was annoyed with the length of time it had taken for the decision. I did feel like it had been one big game and that he probably had no intention of coming here in the first place. At the same time I wasn’t all too disappointed as it allowed us to go out and gather players to build a better team with depth.”
Timi:“Honestly at first I was disappointed but then I started to think about all these great duos in the league, and how exciting the NBA is going to be! I’m a Lakers fan first but I care about the whole league. Plus, the Lakers did well to build a solid team that I think can go up against anybody. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of competition.”
Q: Following Leonard’s decision, the Lakers took an alternative route and built a deep roster. We’ll get into specific players soon, but was this a good route for the franchise to take? Is it better throughout an 82-game regular season, plus playoffs, than Kawhi?
Mark:“I would take Kawhi over the alternatives any day of the week and twice on Sunday. You can have all the depth you like, good luck beating Kawhi, AD and LeBron.”
Jonathan: “I definitely think that the Lakers made the right decision in going for depth rather than adding another max player. Maybe if they were given the choice they might have chosen another max guy but with Kawhi taking so long most of the top players came off the board. I am firmly of the belief that Kawhi was the only player worthy of the Lakers giving up all of their cap space.”
Ryan:“Kawhi can’t play all season, he was having more nights off than anyone else this past season and missed a full season through injury not that long ago. I’m glad we’ve been able to add depth with quality players who can perform well instead of hedging our bets on a big 3, where we weren’t guaranteed to have all 3, all season.”
Timi:“I think that time will tell, but let’s not forget that Kawhi himself needs load management. Having a deep team around 2 superstars, and a couple guys who could have star seasons in Kuz and a healthy Boogie, is nothing to complain about. If Kawhi is on the table you go for him, but given what the Warriors went through, perhaps the alternative is better.”
Q: The Lakers’ first signing after the news was Danny Green, who was the last premier “3 and D” player left on the market. In the guard category overall, the purple and gold secured KCP, Cook, Rondo, Caruso, Bradley, and Daniels. What are your views on each signing? Is that enough shooting around LeBron and AD?
Mark:“Signing Green felt like a small victory and an important one. The other signings are OK – Rondo aside. I just don’t get re-signing Rondo. For the likes of KCP, Cook and Bradley, there is potential value there, but they all need to have bounce-back seasons. Fortunately, that is made a lot easier when you’re playing with 2 superstars.”
Jonathan:“I am hopeful that the likes of Danny Green and Avery Bradley can add the defense and 3-point shooting we need and I feel the likes of Quinn Cook, Jared Dudley and Troy Daniels can give us extra shooting off the bench. I think the Lakers added the perfect amount of fire power and defense to the roster to compliment LeBron and AD. One more solid Small Forward would round out the roster nicely.”
Ryan:“I feel like we are still lacking one player, ideally it’s Iggy as I feel his playoff and big game experience could be key in the last few months of the season. I wasn’t overly happy with the idea of KCP coming back as I’m not too sure what he adds at all. Rondo could be a great addition if he understands he’s for use in the second unit. Cook I really like and can be a great asset in the long run as can Caruso.”
Timi:“I think there’s plenty of shooting to go around. Danny Green is one of the best in the league, Cook and Caruso are also snipers (more than 40% from deep). But then you’ve got guys like Bradley, KCP, Kuz who can all put up shooting numbers above league average. Let’s not forget that Rondo shot 36% last year, although at very low frequency. At the very least, he’ll be able to knock down the open shot, which I think is all we’ll need from him.”
Q: DeMarcus Cousins has joined the party too, on a cheap deal. Was this a good move for the Lakers? With JaVale McGee re-signing, who do you think should start at center?
Mark:“Signing Cousins was a great move. The upside could be phenomenal. I would try and ease Boogie into the starting lineup. One thing we learned last year is that JaVale can contribute, but he cannot play starters minutes.”
Jonathan:“If the Lakers value floor spacing then signing Cousins was essential. While Davis can shoot from the 3-point line, he seems to do most of his damage in the paint. Having JaVale start would lead to a clogged lane and would affect the floor spacing. I firmly believe Cousins should be the starter and hopefully he can return to the beast we saw in Sacramento and New Orleans.”
Ryan:“I’d start AD at 5 but he’s said he doesn’t want to play there. I think it’ll be difficult to play AD, Bron, and Boogie as they’re all going to operate in the same areas. If you can’t convince AD to play the 5 then I’d play JaVale and have a duo of Boogie and Rondo leading the second group.”
Timi:“I think Cousins could be the most underrated signing of the off-season. If he’s healthy there’s no debate: he starts. When last healthy he averaged 26/12/5, and was the best big man in the league. People are acting like he’s still hurt, but he’s not only healthy but has lost weight! I can’t wait to see him out on the court in October.”
Q: Alongside Zach Norvell Jr, the Lakers signed Kostas Antetokounmpo on a two-way contract. This means that Giannis is going to be a Laker in 2021, right? In all seriousness, what do you think of the Kostas Antetokounmpo signing?
Mark: “You could argue that getting Kostas Antetokounmpo is a little like signing KCP a few years ago. We had the roster and cap space back then and it gave us a channel to LeBron. Let’s see if he gets a workout with Kobe? (Or tacos with LeBron?).”
Jonathan: “Kostas Antetokounmpo is all potential at this moment in time. He is a low risk, high reward signing. I don’t think he will ever be Giannis but he has the physical tools that usually translate well in the NBA. The main reason the Lakers signed Kostas however is to have a line to Giannis for free agency in the future. Hopefully Kostas can develop nicely with the help of Phil Handy and become a good player but I wouldn’t hold my breath.”
Ryan: “I think he’s a project and a good long-term project who could be a huge asset to the team in a few years, and naively I do believe it’s being used as part of a long term plan for Giannis at the same time.”
Timi:“Haha tampering alert!! No but seriously I hope it works out for him. I question how much time he’ll get for the Lakers, but if he shines for South Bay who knows. One thing that could help is being around guys like Caruso and Cook, who will know what he’s going through. And hey, if he gets a KCP deal in before the 2020/21 season, then we know what’s about to go down!”
Q: There is 1 roster spot available, who do you think the Lakers should fill it with?
Mark:“The Lakers should keep the roster spot open for Iggy, for as long as that is possible.”
Jonathan: “If he gets bought out, Andre Iguodala would be the perfect signing to back up LeBron. He would be a crucial piece in the playoffs. I wouldn’t be against the Lakers getting Carmelo Anthony providing he accepts a lesser role off the bench. If Melo can shave off the pounds like Boogie Cousins has and plays a role then he can possibly help the Lakers. If he refuses then I’d go after someone like Vince Carter. I’d love to see a motivated Vinsanity chasing a ring in his last season.”
Ryan:“Wait for the Iggy buyout and if it doesn’t come then make a play for Livingston, simply because of what he can bring in terms of experience for the latter part of the season.”
Timi:“If he becomes available, it has to be Iggy. A veterans veteran, who can play top defense, comes alive in the Playoffs, can shoot an open jumper, and is crazy clutch! I understand Memphis trying to trade for him, but I hope they do allow him to move on if they can’t get a good deal, which seems unlikely.”
Q: Now we know the makeup of the roster going into the 2019/20 campaign, how many wins are you expecting? What is your minimum expectation for next season?
Mark:“I would hope this team gets above 45 wins. My minimum expectation is to beat the Clippers. If that means getting to the NBA Finals, all the better. No good setting expectations low. We probably have 2 years left of LeBron, our expectations should be 2 Finals appearances and 1 Championship.”
Jonathan:“I think if the Lakers stay injury free they can get 55+ wins. They need to make sure not to run AD or LeBron into the ground but I can see them being a very good regular season team. Anything short of the Western Conference Finals would be a big let down. This team is built to win.”
Ryan:“55 if AD and Bron can remain healthy, maybe more if the second unit can do what they couldn’t last season and contribute to whatever the first unit lay out. If all parts contribute and we find the right system and if LeBron playing the point can work defensively then I think 55 is a good target.”
Timi:“I think 53 wins in the regular season. There will be some trials early on, but we’ll head into the postseason behind Houston, Utah, and Denver, who I think are more equipped for the regular season, and take the 4th seed. The minimum expectation is the WCFs, barring catastrophic injury. I think we’ll get the 4th seed, but the postseason? Well, that’s a different story entirely..”
In the early hours of July 6, Kawhi Leonard shocked the NBA world and opted to join the Los Angeles Clippers, over the Toronto Raptors and the Los Angeles Lakers. Leonard signed a 3-year, $103 million deal with the Lakers’ cross-city rivals. The Clippers paired him with Paul George, of whom they traded for to secure Leonard’s signature.
The Lakers were holding out in the hope that Leonard would lean towards the purple and gold, instead Pelinka and Co. have been forced to take an alternative route, in an attempt to build a championship contender.
Almost instantly after the Kawhi news, we were bombarded with numerous Laker signings. It’s safe to say, so far, the front office deserve praise. They’ve built a deep, talented roster that is more than capable of pushing for championship honours. Whether they get over the line is another thing, but they should certainly be in the mix.
32-year-old Danny Green was the Lakers’ first signing after being dealt the Kawhi Leonard news. Green has signed a 2-year, $30 million deal. He was the premier ‘3 and D’ player left on the market, and it was expected that the Dallas Mavericks would offer a larger, lengthier deal, but the purple and gold secured their man.
The 6-foot-6 guard won the second NBA Championship of his career last season, whilst at the Toronto Raptors. On his way to championship glory, he posted averages of 10.3 points, 4 rebounds, and 1.6 assists, whilst shooting an incredible .455% from 3-point range. Throughout his career, Green is a .404% shooter from beyond the arc so he does perform at a consistent rate in that category.
Defensively he plays hard too. A solid addition on both ends of the court.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will be returning to the Lakers on a 2-year, $16 million deal. The shooting guard out of Georgia does split opinion within the Laker community, and rightly so. Some days he can be lights out from a scoring standpoint and really hold his own defensively, then other days he can simply disappear and barely contribute.
It is easy to forget that Caldwell-Pope is still only 26-years old. In the past few seasons for the purple and gold, he has been developing as a player and understanding his role on the team. In his first season, the Lakers signed him to a 1-year, $18 million deal, and now he will be returning at a considerably less, more reasonable, rate.
If he can actively contribute off the bench, he can be a useful piece. Knocking down open 3s and locking in defensively at a consistent rate will result in a successful season from KCP.
The 2-time NBA Champion, JaVale McGee, was one of the only bright sparks in an all-but miserable season last time out for the Lakers. He played hard and filled a void at the center position. Suffering pneumonia mid-way through the season slowed him down unfortunately, but overall it really isn’t a surprise to see the 31-year-old return to Los Angeles.
Playing 20+ minutes for the first time since the 2010-11 season, McGee averaged a career-high 12 points per game last season. He offered a strong rebounding game, along with interior defense, where he finished 5th for the most blocked shots in the league.
It may be too much to expect McGee to play considerable minutes in a starting role, but in a sensible center rotation he can definitely be an effective player.
Quinn Cook has quite a remarkable NBA story. From going undrafted in 2015, to learning his trade in the then NBA D-League, before signing a 10-day deal with the New Orleans Pelicans, then earning a spot in the Golden State Warriors‘ rotation, to winning an NBA Championship in 2018.
Last season for the Warriors, Cook featured in 74 regular season games, averaging 6.9 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.6 assists. He also featured in 17 playoff games, including the NBA Finals, which will provide further postseason experience to the Lakers’ roster. He has signed a 2-year, $6 million deal.
Throughout his short NBA career so far, Cook has established himself as a solid spot-up shooter. Averaging .418% from 3-point land over 121 games. As a point guard that is just 6-foot-1, he does come with his defensive worries but his offensive game is why he was brought in. After-all, players like Green, Caldwell-Pope, etc, can be moved over to cover his defensive workload.
For many years DeMarcus Cousins has been linked with the Lakers, as a star player. Well, Cousins now joins the purple and gold on a 1-year, $3.5 million deal. Since suffering an Achilles injury in January 2018 whilst at the New Orleans Pelicans, the 28-year-old has been on the long road to recovery. For the 2018-19 season, he opted to join the Golden State Warriors on a $5.3 million, mid-level exception.
It was expected that Cousins would be out until early 2019, at the very least. Cousins did make his comeback ahead of schedule, featuring in his Warriors debut in January 2019. Through the remainder of the campaign the 6-foot-11 center played 30 regular season games, averaging 16.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.5 blocks. In the 1st round of the NBA Playoffs Cousins tore his quadricep, which ruled him out until game 1 of the Finals.
Before injuring his Achilles, DeMarcus Cousins was undoubtedly an elite talent with the Sacramento Kings, averaging 25+ points, 12 rebounds, along with a host of assists, steals, and blocks. He is a low risk, high reward acquisition. The Lakers getting him for less than the Warriors signed him for is a steal. Plus, an Achilles injury is commonly a 2-year injury, of which Cousins is nearing the end of.
With a full off-season under his belt, Cousins should be nearing 80% healthy. Even a partially fit Cousins should be able to contribute 15-20 points and 10 rebounds per game, you would think. Which would be more than enough for this Lakers team, alongside LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Co. If he nears 100% fitness, he could very well be the 3rd star in the team.
Fingers crossed he can stay healthy!
Returning alongside Caldwell-Pope and McGee, is Rajon Rondo. The 33-year-old point guard has signed a 2-year, minimum deal with the Lakers. Last season he posted averages of 9.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 8 assists, and 1.2 steals.
He endured an up-and-down season last time out, where at times he looked a solid piece within the Lakers roster. Namely in the Christmas Day win at Golden State, and with his buzzer-beater winner at his former home, TD Garden. But for the majority of, he was underwhelming. Defensively he was a liability and he appeared to simply lack effort in the latter part of the season.
Nonetheless, the Lakers have opted to bring Rondo back. The point guard pool in this free agency period was sparse, so he does fill a void. Additionally, a recent report from Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports suggests that the Lakers have intentions of starting LeBron James at point guard for the upcoming season. As a result, Rondo could feature off the bench under limited minutes.
Much like Quinn Cook, Alex Caruso‘s NBA journey is a feel-good story. After going undrafted in 2016, Caruso hit the then D-League with the Oklahoma City Blue, before securing the Lakers’ first ever 2-way contract, splitting his time between the NBA team and the G-League affiliate team, the South Bay Lakers.
After lighting up the G-League during the 2017-18 season, but failing to impress in the NBA, Caruso was handed another 2-way deal for the 2018-19 campaign. It was in this season where the 6-foot-4 guard impressed. In 25 games he averaged 9.2 points, 2.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1 steal, on .455% shooting. From 3-point range, Caruso shot at a blistering .480% rate. On April 5, 2019, he recorded a career-high 32 points in a victory against the Clippers.
In his short time with the Lakers, Caruso has become a fan favourite and rightly so. He plays hard, and is clearly talented. For the upcoming 2019-20 season, Alex Caruso has signed a 2-year, $5.5 million contract. With it comes another opportunity to shine, this time on what is expected to be a winning team.
After playing the first part of last season with the Clippers, and the second with the Memphis Grizzlies, Avery Bradley was recently waived and hit the free agent market. Almost instantly, the Lakers snapped Bradley up to a 2-year, $9.7 million deal.
Being highly regarding as a top-level ‘3 and D’ player throughout the majority of his career, Bradley has experienced a decline in recent years. After excelling with the Boston Celtics between 2010-2017, he was traded to the Detroit Pistons, where he continued his impressive play. But then injuries hit and he was moved onto the Clippers. This stalled the 28-year-old guard’s progress.
However, in the latter part of last season, with the Grizzlies, Bradley appeared to regain some form. In 14 games, he averaged 16.1 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 2 assists, on .463% shooting (.384% from 3). Even through the last few years where his play has dropped, his defense hasn’t. Through his 11-year career so far, Avery Bradley has built a reputation for being one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. The Lakers were in clear need of a defensive wing, and they have their man. If Bradley can regain his offensive spark, the Lakers may have grabbed a steal.
Troy Daniels was the 1st player that the Lakers signed this off-season, as they were waiting on Kawhi Leonard’s free agency decision. The general consensus through the last decade-and-a-half has been to surround LeBron James with shooters. With that, Daniels fits the bill.
The 27-year-old guard is a .400% career 3-point shooter. He will most likely see limited minutes behind a deep, talent Lakers roster, but when called upon, Daniels should do a job. He has signed a 1-year, $2.1 million deal.
33-year-old Jared Dudley was the 2nd player that the Lakers turned towards, whilst waiting for Leonard. Signing a 1-year, $2.6 million deal, Dudley adds a smart, veteran presence to the locker room.
He may not be the flashiest of players, but veterans like Dudley are a pivotal to the success of any NBA team. He will provide a calm head to a team that includes many strong personalities, who could clash from time-to-time.
On the court, Dudley is capable of contributing. In 20 minutes with the Brooklyn Nets last season, he posted averages of 4.9 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.4 assists. Defensively he is tough, and can certainly hold his own.
The Lakers’ roster so far:
Rajon Rondo (G), Alex Caruso (G), Quinn Cook (G), Danny Green (G), Avery Bradley (G), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (G), Troy Daniels (G), Talen Horton-Tucker (G/F), LeBron James (F), Kyle Kuzma (F), Jared Dudley (F), Anthony Davis (F/C), DeMarcus Cousins (C), JaVale McGee (C).
The 2019 NBA Free Agency period is just around the corner now. Starting at 6pm ET (11pm, UK time) on Sunday June 30, a whole host of teams will be scrambling to acquire or retain star talent. A wide range of abilities are available, from Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Jimmy Butler, to Danny Green, Patrick Beverley, Seth Curry, DeAndre Jordan, and Brook Lopez, the list goes on.
With whispers swirling daily, this page will act as a live blog, posting up-to-date rumours in relation to Lakers free agency .
Filed to ESPN: The Grizzlies do not plan to give Andre Iguodala a buyout before the season and are actively exploring the trade market for the former Finals MVP, per league sources. Rockets, Mavs among teams with interest.
Free agent Justin Holiday is considering interest from several teams including the Lakers, Clippers, Bulls, Raptors, Pacers, Wizards, Hornets and Cavaliers, league sources told @TheAthleticNBA. Memphis is open to a sign-and-trade with him.
03/07: Kawhi to Make Decision “Later Today, Possibly Tomorrow”
03/07: Lakers Set to Land Dudley
Dudley had a real impact on the Nets young roster a year ago, and really wanted the chance to play for the Lakers. He'll get a chance to impact on a roster that needs veterans capable of contributing in a pressure environment. https://t.co/hemklha12P
1. The Lakers, as we've been saying for more than a week now, believe they are firmly in the lead largely through the recruiting efforts and assurances made on separate fronts from Magic Johnson and LeBron James …
2. Officials from both the Lakers and Clippers appear to determined to say as little as possible — less than ever for a free agent of this prominence as @ryenarussillo likes to say — to avoid upsetting Kawhi's camp when they have insisted on total silence
Free agent James Ennis has agreed to a two-year, $4.1M deal to return to Philadelphia, with second-year player option, league sources tell @TheAthleticNBA@Stadium. Ennis turned down more salary from multiple teams to return to a championship contender.
“There was one interesting question (Leonard) had for Magic: ‘Did you guys try to trade for me when I was in San Antonio?’ And the answer was ‘yes, but because it was Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs, and our history, they were asking for 2,000 draft picks — well, not 2,000 — like four draft picks, first-round draft picks, and we just couldn’t do that.’ And that was one of his questions.”
“The uncle’s questions were ‘what’s really going on in the organization between you, Jeanie, Rob Pelinka, everyone? Is it as dysfunctional as we’re reading and hearing?’ And the response was ‘we had some issues, but we’re past that. I’m past that. We’re still a family, such as you fight with your brothers and sisters sometimes, well, I had somewhat of a disagreement with my sister. And Rob Pelinka, yes, I said he was a back-stabber, but that happened then. Now I want the Lakers to be a championship team. Having Kawhi here would do that.”
“‘You can play for them because it’s not about me, it’s not about Jeanie, it’s really about this franchise. It’s about Kareem. Wilt Chamberlain. Kobe Bryant. It’s about all those great players. You can be another one, you can join LeBron James and you can win more titles, and you don’t have to put as much stress on your body to do that. We have two stars to work with you.’”
“LeBron James was able to bring on his own trainer, his own medical people. (Kawhi) wants to know if he can do that as well. LeBron James brought on some people that weren’t with the Lakers, and he wants to know ‘can I bring with a couple of my guys?’ … And as far as I know, the Lakers would be willing to do that, because you do those things for superstar players.”
01/07: Lakers Reach out to Danny Green
Harrison Sanford, who co-hosts a podcast with Danny Green has confirmed that the Lakers are one of the team’s interested, who have called.
01/07: Market Drying up as Lakers Wait on Kawhi
Kyrie Irving – Brooklyn Nets, 4-years/$141 million
Kevin Durant – Brooklyn Nets, 4-years/$164 million
Kemba Walker – Boston Celtics, 4-years/$141 million
Jimmy Butler – Miami Heat (deal in doubt while Miami find a third team in a sign-and-trade after Dallas pull out), 4-years/$142 million
D’Angelo Russell – Golden State Warriors, 4-years/$117 million
Patrick Beverley – LA Clippers, 3-years/$40 million
George Hill – Milwaukee Bucks, 3-years/$29 million
Trevor Ariza – Sacramento Kings, 2-years/$25 million
Dewayne Dedmon – Sacramento Kings, 3-years/$40 million
DeAndre Jordan – Brooklyn Nets, 4-years/$40 million
Taj Gibson – New York Knicks, 2-years/$20 million
Derrick Favors – New Orleans Pelicans, N/A
J.J. Reddick – New Orleans Pelicans, 2-years/$26.5 million
Terrence Ross – Orlando Magic, 4-years/$54 million
Reggie Bullock – New York Knicks, 2-years/$21 million
*Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Seth Curry, Enes Kanter, T.J. McConnell, Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, DeMarcus Cousins are a few that remain on the market.
01/07: Iguodala on Lakers’ Radar, Along with Green, Curry, Rondo
01/07: Kawhi Hasn’t Taken Meetings Yet
30/06: Ariza to Sacramento
Free agent Trevor Ariza has agreed to a two-year, $25M deal with the Sacramento Kings, league sources tell @TheAthleticNBA@Stadium.
Knicks will meet in Beverly Hills with Lakers UFA Reggie Bullock tonight, per source. He’s ready to commit to a strong offer from New York, though L.A. still would like to keep him and there are other teams also looking to get in front of him.
Sources: The Lakers have reached out to the reps of free agent guard Patrick Beverley. Beverley is one of the best defenders in the NBA and his 3-point shooting has improved dramatically. He’s also a great locker room presence.
The Lakers have also reached out to the reps of free agent guard Seth Curry, per source. Curry is the type of long range shooter the Lakers want. He shot 45.6% from the field last season in Portland, 45% from three. He averaged 7.9 points in 74 games.
The Los Angeles Lakers reached out to D'Angelo Russell's agents at CAA — Austin Brown and Aaron Mintz — to set up a meeting with the All-Star guard, league sources tell ESPN. The Lakers and Russell share a mutual interest in a reunion. Lakers have the cap space to sign him.
Can confirm ESPN report that the Lakers have reached out to D'Angelo Russell's representatives about a meeting. Russell, whom the Lakers drafted 2nd overall in 2015 then traded away in 2017, was an All Star last season.
Once Kyrie Irving commits to a deal, Nets are expected to renounce All-Star guard D'Angelo Russell and allow him to become an unrestricted free agent, league sources tell ESPN. Russell led Nets to the playoffs this past season. There's tremendous league-wide interest in Russell. https://t.co/cJSryXSUJV
29/06: Lakers a ‘Significant’ Threat to Sign Kawhi
29/06: Potential Laker Target Retires
28/06: James and Davis Plan “Hands-On” Approach
28/06: Kawhi Leonard Update
28/06: DeAndre Jordan Rumours Recirculate
Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst of ESPN:“Jordan, who played nine seasons with the LA Clippers, has an interest in playing in Los Angeles again, sources said. He would potentially be a fit for the Lakers, who are expected to try to find a way to sign Jordan and play him alongside Anthony Davis and LeBron James.”
28/06: Klay Could Set Sights on Lakers
Sources: If the Warriors don’t offer guard Klay Thompson a max $190 million deal on Sunday when free agency opens, he will listen to both LA teams, the Lakers and Clippers. Lakers back in the runnings because they now have max slot of $32 million after today’s trade.
Kyrie Irving remains as much a target for the Lakers as Kawhi Leonard, league sources say, now that the Lakers are sure they can open maximum cap space. They are swinging for the fences despite all of the signals that have pointed Irving to Brooklyn …
Adrian Wojnaroski of ESPN:“The Lakers are expected to pursue several scenarios in free agency, including Brooklyn Nets guard D’Angelo Russell, who is a restricted free agent now — and Toronto star Kawhi Leonard, league sources said. If the Lakers decide to break up the money, they’re interested in several combinations of players including Toronto Raptors Danny Green, Orlando Magic Terrence Ross, Portland Trail Blazer Seth Curry and several other free agents with a strong shooting ability.”
27/06: Kawhi to Grant the Lakers a Meeting
Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports:“Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard intends to grant the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers meetings when free agency opens on June 30, league sources told Yahoo Sports.”
“The meetings would be held in Los Angeles, sources said.”
“I know the Lakers want us to believe they’re still in there, and the Lakers do believe they’re still in there, and the Lakers have believed that since the regular season ended. So we’ll see if they can prove the skeptics wrong, but we don’t know what Kawhi is going to decide, we don’t know what KD is going to decide, and there is almost 200 free agents I think… and the party starts with those guys, and until they choose, we’re going to be on pins and needles.”
“If we could poll GMs and get their honest takes, I think it would be painted as a Raptors or Clippers two-team deal. But again, the Lakers, since the regular season ended, long before they had the Davis trade completed, in the midst of all the front office chaos, you would hear these rumbles of Lakers confidence. ‘We’re gonna be in there with Kawhi. We’re a contender with Kawhi, LeBron is recruiting Kawhi.’ You would hear these rumbles.”
“And again, I have not independently confirmed them, and I think a big issue here is that Kawhi’s camp is so buttoned up, there are very few people who have access to the inner sanctum of Team Kawhi, and I freely admit I’m not one of them. So it’s hard to know exactly what Kawhi thinks of the Lakers. We know he’s from Southern California, we know he has had strong pangs to go home for a long time, but I guess that’s long-winded way of saying that the only people who have expressed confidence in the Lakers’ ability to get him have something to do with the Lakers.”
27/06: Kanter Drawing Lakers Interest
Free agent center Enes Kanter is expected to receive interest from the Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics on June 30, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.
Ian Begley of SNY:“Let’s get this out of the way at the top: things can always change, but most executives monitoring Anthony’s free agency see the Lakers as the most likely destination for the 10-time All Star.”
“‘He’s better now,’ Johnson told The Athletic on Monday night, tapping his right temple with an index finger as he stood in a parking lot outside the NBA Awards at the Santa Monica Airport. ‘He’s a different player. He’s more mature.'”
25/06: D’Angelo Russell-Lakers Reunion?
Zach Lowe of ESPN: “There is at least a kernel of truth to the Lakers’ interest in a reunion, sources say, but L.A. has a lot to sort out. Russell fits the Knicks’ timeline in case they strike out on bigger fish, but all indications are that New York will pursue short-term deals in that scenario, sources say.”
24/06: Kawhi Declines Contract Option
Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports:“Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard will decline his 2019-20 player option worth $21.3 million to become an unrestricted free agent, league sources told Yahoo Sports.”
“Leonard, 27, is believed to be seriously considering re-signing with the Raptors, sources said.”
22/06: Russell A Better Option Than Irving
Eric Pincus of The Bleacher Report:“But beyond the talent, Irving is going to demand the maximum, while the Lakers could at least try to get Russell to sign at $20 million (up to $86 million over four years), especially if the Nets let him go.”
“That would give Los Angeles almost $13 million left to spend. That may be enough to go after a starting center (perhaps with Kuzma to the bench) but ultimately, the Lakers are bereft of guards. Could they pull Patrick Beverley away from both the Los Angeles Clippers and other suitors with a four-year, $55.9 million contract, starting at $13 million?”
21/06: Brook Lopez, DeAndre Jordan Linked With Lakers
Brian Windhorst of ESPN on The Hoop Collective podcast: “The Lakers, I think, are sniffing around (Lopez)… I think the Lakers need perimeter players. I think they’re going to have to use their money on perimeter players. I know DeAndre Jordan is a guy on the Lakers’ radar that they’re hoping they may able to get for relatively cheap because he wants to be back in L.A.”
18/06:Kawhi Focused on Clippers Not Lakers
16/06: Lakers Interested in Lopez Return
Dave McMenamin and Brian Windhorst both featured on The Hoop Collective podcast and stated the following:
McMenamin: “I just know that talking to people in the Lakers organization this week, that’s a name that has come up. This is days before the Anthony Davis trade went down, so Brook Lopez is certainly someone that intrigues at least some people in that organization.”
Windhorst: “Also, Anthony Davis prefers to play the four, and LeBron prefers to play the three. You could bring in Brook and then align it the way you want to align it.”
16/06: Kyrie Irving “Wants To Play” With AD
David Aldridge of The Athletic:“Whether it’s Kemba Walker, whom the New York Times’ Marc Stein reported as a potential Lakers target, or Kyrie Irving, whom sources have maintained for months wants to play with Davis, someone dynamic will likely be on the ball next season in L.A.”
16/06: Walker and Butler Are “Top Priorities”
Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports: “With James and Davis as the cornerstones of the franchise, the Lakers still have room to add one more star in free agency. Charlotte guard Kemba Walker and Philadelphia forward Jimmy Butler are top priorities, sources said.“