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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Should the Lakers Take Another Look at Lance Stephenson?

Los Angeles Lakers' Lance Stephenson (6) reacts to a missed 3-point shot during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors Thursday, April 4, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
(Image/Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

Before the whole of Lakers Twitter lynches me for even contemplating the thought of Lance Stephenson returning, (insert meme team gifs here), hear me out, the buyout market seems to be very sparse this year.  

With targets like Darren Collison staying retired, along with Marvin Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist signing with other contenders, the buyout market post-trade deadline has not turned out the way the Los Angeles Lakers would have wanted. 

Therefore, this forces the Lakers to look at not so conventional means to try and improve the team. Here stands a potential target that both the Lakers and Frank Vogel know well. Lance Stephenson.

Stephenson is unconventional. He is certainly not the player that he once was in Indiana. But he is certainly better than some options in the buyout market.

The main thing with potential free agent targets this late in the season is the level of trust people within the organisation would potentially have with the signing. Whether that be the front office, the coaching staff, or the players who they would be going to war with for the rest of the regular season and postseason stretch.

Lance Stephenson certainly fits the former as his best years have come under coach Frank Vogel whilst at Indiana. Under Coach Vogel at the Pacers, Stephenson blossomed into a defacto play-maker at the 2-spot on an NBA court.

He was also a hard-nosed defender who usually had the assignment of defending the best play-maker on the opposing teams consistently. He came up against one LeBron James multiple times in the playoffs. Most famously blowing into James’ ear.

Image result for lance stephenson lebron james
(Image/Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

At this late point in the season, he would certainly have Vogel’s trust from previous years and could also be vital as a secondary playmaker off the bench. There has been a dearth of play-making when James has been on the bench during games, so someone who can get some type of secondary play-making on this Lakers team would be very welcome. 

Now, let’s get into realism. Lance Stephenson has only been a good NBA player whilst playing within the city of Indianapolis. There was something just special for Stephenson wearing the white, yellow and navy blue of the Pacers.

He has never replicated that outside of the Pacers though and there is no real evidence that he could either. He has averaged 26.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 3.8 assists this season in China but we need to be realistic. Playing for the Liaoning Flying Leopards is nowhere near the level of even the G-League, let alone the NBA.  

His 3-point percentage in China is also a major red flag. Shooting 30% in a league where the 3-point line is a lot closer too is not a good sign. He also has not been a good NBA defender since he left the Pacers the 1st time round.

The things that you’d need him to do as an impact player off of the bench, (shoot well, play defense, play-making) he would not be able to do any of those things to a high enough level where it would be worth the Lakers bringing him back in a meaningful role. Even though it may make sense to some within the organization. 

Image result for lance stephenson china
(Image/ABS CBN Sports)

To conclude, while the Lakers would be right to start looking outside of the box to bring in potential secondary play-makers to help alleviate some of the flaws on the roster, and while he may be better than one of our back-up point guards on the team already, it may not be worth adding him in a meaningful role on the squad. It would be more uncertainty in the secondary play-maker role, and would not be worth the risk. 

When we also look at playoff minutes, LeBron James will be hovering around the 38-40 minute mark. While the secondary play-making in those minutes could be vital, it would be better looking at other potential targets and hoping a certain team based in Manhattan buy out a former Clippers wing, in Maurice Harkless.

While many wouldn’t be totally against the move of bringing Lance Stephenson in. It doesn’t really move the needle at all for the Lakers in either direction.


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Dion Waiters: The Player the Lakers Have Been Waiting For?

(Image/Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported recently that Darren Collison would remain retired and not enter the free agency market. This leads the Los Angeles Lakers to look towards other buyout options as they look to better their roster.

One name that has popped up is Dion Waiters. He was recently waived by the Memphis Grizzlies, after being traded there by the Miami Heat in the deal involving Andre Iguodala.

Though a controversial figure, Waiters is a dynamic player, who might not address all of the Lakers concerns, but could definitely be a help to the team.

Defensively, Waiters is not ideal. Standing at just 6-foot-3, he does not possess the size that the Lakers are looking for to guard a wing. However, he can definitely help with the offensive struggles that the team has at times.

He possesses the ability to knock down the 3-ball, and finish in the paint. His ability to create his own shot on broken plays is desirable also. Although he can be inconsistent, the nights in which he is able to knock down his shots could make him a real difference maker. Is Waiters worth taking a punt on?

One interesting statistic to look at is per Basketball Reference. Waiters hits 52% of his left side corner 3-point shots. Pair this with Kyle Kuzma‘s 49% efficiency rating on the right side corner, and we can see the possibility for both players to make a scary duo from that standpoint.

Off-the-court Waiters does host problems. He has only played 3 games this season, and one of the main reasons for that is due to his increasingly evident problem of staying away from using recreational drugs. Whether this remains an issue or not is a major concern with acquiring Waiters, as if he cannot address, he will not be able to contribute to the team.

But the signing of Dion Waiters could work out well. He is capable of providing some explosion off the bench and drain shots when he needs to. He would most likely be an improvement for the team.

If productive, he could assist in the resting of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, which would probably be the main reason for his acquisition. Come playoff time, it is unlikely that Waiters receives many minutes, so as a temporary addition to help with the regular decision, he should definitely be considered.


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Should the Lakers Sign Jeremy Lin?

(Image/Getty Images)

The year is 2020. The Lakers are looking for a ball-handler with experience, a play-maker, and a guy who can make a shot or two. Surely, they can look no further than Jeremy Lin. Right?

No, this isn’t a statement from 2012. It is a statement that is highly applicable to today’s Los Angeles Lakers. It may seem very left field, however, the Lakers would appear to be looking for a secondary ball-handler who can make a shot. The ‘exploratory’ conversation with Dion Waiters would suggest as such.

The Lakers were very heavily linked with a move for 32-year-old Darren Collison, a player who, arguably, played his best basketball from 2010-14. You may see where this is going. But, Jeremy Lin at 31, also played his best basketball through those years and went on to play roles on several teams after that, including the hapless 2014-15 Lakers.

Image result for jeremy lin lakers
(Image/AP Images)

As it seemed that everyone was very high on Collison. Let us step back a moment and compare the two purely from the numbers standpoint. Darren Collison trumps Jeremy Lin in career stats in 3pt%, games played, FG%, assists, steals, FT%, average minutes, and he has fewer career turnovers. The numbers aren’t helping our point here. Let’s move on.

Lin is currently playing in China for the Beijing Ducks, averaging 24.9 points, 6 rebounds, and nearly 6 steals per game. These are numbers that may make the Lakers front office stand back up and take notice, especially after that horrific stat comparison in the last paragraph.

Lin can clearly score the ball, he can clearly play-make, and the fact that he isn’t Rajon Rondo will mean that Lakers Twitter will most likely be somewhat on board with being linked with a Linsanity/LA, part 2.

Jeremy+Lin+playing+for+the+Beijing+Ducks.+Pictures+by+Bleacherreporter.+
(Image/ pchcorral.com)

In all seriousness, if the Lakers front office is looking for another guard in the playoff run they could do a lot worse than Jeremy Lin. He is working hard out in China and most definitely has a fire in his belly after not being picked up by an NBA team for this campaign.

He is less of a squad morale risk than Dion Waiters, has a higher potential ceiling than that of Tyler Johnson, and although he didn’t clock a lot of minutes, he did win a ring last year with the Toronto Raptors. He clearly, therefore, knows what it takes to be a locker room guy on a championship team.

It is a very left-field suggestion but it has a very small chance of being a highly successful and shrewd move. What is the worse that could happen?


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New Free-Agency, Buyout Options for the Lakers

(Image/Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports)

The Trade Deadline came and went with no activity from the Lakers. As the games fly in it is still widely believed that the Lakers are in need of another piece. With the free-agency and buyout market opening up, can they acquire that extra piece in there hunt for that illusive 17th championship?

At time of writing, the Los Angeles Lakers are 40-12 on the season. Despite having the second best record in the league, fans and experts believe they need something else.

The main pieces required are an extra ball handler and a bit of depth at Small Forward. In the ball handler category, the Lakers need a player to come off the bench and run the offence while LeBron James rests.

This is a problem that is extremely obvious when watching the reserves, with Rajon Rondo struggling to play at a level that is adequate for a championship contender. Not to forget of course the depth at Small Forward being a problem whilst James is on the bench. Someone with a defensive mindset would be perfect to fill this role.

Other options for a initiator within the organisation include giving more minutes to players like Quinn Cook and Alex Caruso. Some fans have even called for rookie Talen Horton-Tucker to play some back-up wing minutes. Unfortunately, especially for Horton-Tucker, these players are probably too inexperienced to lead an aspiring championship bench to a deep playoff run. Therefore the Lakers are probably best looking elsewhere.

There are a few main front runners that are well worth a look for Rob Pelinka and the Lakers as they search the market for a initiator that is capable of running an NBA offence and a wing defender that is skilled enough to slow down some of the best in the world.

J.R. Smith

(Image/Kim Klement)

Probably considered the least desirable option, J.R. Smith was a key part of LeBron James’ last championship team back in 2015-16. Smith averaged 10.6 points in that legendary Finals series, becoming a major contributor to the winning of that ring.

Since, it has been all down hill for Smith. In the next two seasons he only managed to average 8.4 points on 28 minutes a game. Not all that productive. Not to mention the fact Smith only played 11 games in the 2018-19 season with the Cleveland Cavaliers attempting to trade him for almost the entire campaign. He was then waived in July last year and has struggled to find a landing spot ever since.

The main reasons Smith has been linked with the purple and gold is a presumptuous list. One of them being his past experience at a high level. Throughout his 16 season career he has amassed nearly 4000 playoff minutes averaging just over 11 points per game.

Another common link to the Lakers is of course his relationship with James, after playing 3 seasons together in Cleveland. This may seem a stretch to base a rumour off. But it is important to remember they did win a ring together, something that can often bond two people for life.

Anyway, it is yet to be seen whether The King can forgive his old teammate for his colossal mistake in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals.

Tyler Johnson

(Image/Rick Scuteri/Associated Press)

Tyler Johnson is a interesting fit for this Laker team, having averaged 10.5 points and 2.4 assists per game in his career so far. He could definitely be a good piece for the bench unit.

Although Johnson has struggled this season, only playing 31 games as he has not only suffered knee problems but has had a hard time gaining trust from the coach. In all fairness, he hasn’t set the world on fire when given the opportunity. Only mustering 5.7 points on the season. Johnson’s career really has hit a downwards slope since he left the Miami Heat just over a year ago.

Johnson’s huge drop off in minutes has not helped his point totals. He has only averaged just over 16 minutes this season. This is an extremely small sample size compared to his time with the Heat, in which he averaged 26.7 minutes per game in his first four season with the franchise. This could very easily attribute to his drop off in production from 11 points (first five seasons in the league) to only 5.7 points this time out.

If the Lakers were to pick up Johnson from waivers, it would be with the hope that he could start being effective in minor minutes. Especially in other ways then just points. The Lakers’ biggest problem is the lack of cohesive play-making checking in off the bench. One that if Johnson bonds with this team, he is very capable of filling as a now established Point Guard in the NBA.

Dion Waiters

(Image/Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Perhaps the most intriguing of the bunch is Dion Waiters. A player the Miami Heat signed to a 4 year, $52 million deal back in 2017 for a reason, he is capable of being a good player on a good team. However, after signing that contract he went on to miss a total of 90 games over the next 2 seasons due to various injuries.

The straw that broke the camels back came when Waiters carried out actions throughout the off-season and into the season which were considered ‘detrimental to the team’. This carried along with the rise of players such as Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn. His Heat tenure came to an end when he was a piece in the recent Andre Iguodala trade. Only to be bought out shortly later.

Over the last three seasons, Waiters has averaged 14 points and 3.4 assists per game. Not bad for a player available off waivers. Although this is while playing nearly 29 minutes a night, a threshold he is unlikely to reach if given an opportunity with the Lakers.

The arrows that point towards Waiters being the right choice would of course be his potential production but also his ability to create, not only in the half court set but out of broken plays. He is very much a player that ‘thrives in chaos’. A trait not only the Lakers’ bench struggles with, but the whole team at times. A true entertainer to collect a lose ball with 8 seconds left on the shot clock.

Maurice Harkless

(Image/Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

With reports being made that Maurice Harkless may be made available on the buyout market after his trade to the New York Knicks, the Lakers should definitely look into signing the 6-foot-7 Forward. Especially with the wing being one of the skinnier positions in the depth chart.

Averaging only 5.5 points and a single assist on the season, this would most likely be a defensive pick-up. Harkless also averages a steal per game and 4 rebounds. Not to mention he is second at his position for Defensive Box Plus/Minus at 2.9. This means that for every 100 possessions he is on the floor, he contributes 2.9 defensive points more then the league average.

He has also got some playoff experience to go along with his defensive prowess. Over the last four seasons, he has played in 33 playoff games, averaging just over 9 points, 1 steal and 1 block a contest.

Harkless would be filling a slightly different role to the other players on this list, yet a desperately required one. A defensive player to guard the opponents wing player when LeBron James is off the floor. In a game full of extremely effective scorers at the Small Forward position, this could be a critical role for the Lakers to fill as they head into the playoffs.


So it is clear to see that the Los Angeles Lakers have options, and there are more too. But how good they truly are will been seen in the coming months. If not picked up by the Lakers, these players are good enough in there own right to warrant a call from another playoff team. Now it just falls on the Lakers front office to pick the right one(s).


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Have the Lakers Built a Competent Roster?

(Image/USA Today Sports)

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.

Image result for kawhi leonard clippers
(Image/SportsNet)

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.”

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(Image/ Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

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.”

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(Image/FanSided)

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.”

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(Image/NBA.com)

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..”


By Matt Evans (@mattyyyevans)

Live Blog: Free Agency Opens

(Image/Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

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 .

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(Image/The 5th News)

08/07: Avery Bradley Set to Sign


08/07: Daniels and Dudley Made Official


07/07: Caruso Is Back


07/07: Lakers Announce Acquisition of AD


07/07: KCP, McGee, Cook, Cousins, Green, All Made Official

https://twitter.com/Lakers/status/1147686732583723008?s=19


06/07: Rondo to Return


06/07: Cousins to Team Up With LeBron, AD, and Co.

https://twitter.com/wojespn/status/1147576077533011968?s=19


06/07: Quinn Cook to Join the Lakers

https://twitter.com/ChrisBHaynes/status/1147502491585544192?s=19


06/07: Lakers Build Following Kawhi Decision


06/07: Kawhi Joins the Clippers


04/07: Iguodala Update


04/07: Justin Holiday An Option?


03/07: Kyle Korver May Hit the Market


03/07: Kawhi to Make Decision “Later Today, Possibly Tomorrow”


03/07: Lakers Set to Land Dudley


02/07: Kawhi Update From Stein


02/07: Ennis Drops off the Board


02/07: Is James Ennis a Potential Option?


02/07: McGee Meets with Houston and Detroit


01/07: Ellington and Kanter Off the Board


01/07: Lakers to Sign Troy Daniels


01/07: Seth Curry Snapped Up By Dallas


01/07: Details Emerge of Kawhi Leonard’s First Conversation with Magic, Lakers

Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times on Spectrum SportsNet (quotes via Silver Screen and Roll):

“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


30/06: Reddick Snapped Up By Pels


30/06: Knicks to Meet With Bullock


30/06: Kawhi Leonard Update


30/06: Bucks Tie Up Lopez


30/06: Lakers Making a Late Push for Butler


30/06: Timberwolves Lead Russell Chase..


30/06: McGee to the Rockets?


29/06: Lakers Reach out to Beverley, Curry


29/06: Lakers Set a Meeting With Russell


29/06: Kyrie Set to Join Nets


29/06: Kemba off the Board


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


28/06: Kyrie’s in the Mix


27/06: Lakers to Target Green, Ross, Curry

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.”


27/06: Anthony Davis Trade Package Expands!


27/06: Lakers Suitors for Patrick Beverley


27/06: Can the Lakers Lure Kawhi?

Marc Stein of the New York Times on the Silver Screen and Roll Podcast:

“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


26/06: Caruso/Williams Update

The Lakers have announced that they have extended qualifying offers to Alex Caruso and Johnathan Williams.

This will make both restricted free-agents. Williams will become a two-way player if he accepts.

https://www.nba.com/lakers/releases/lakers-extend-qualifying-offers-alex-caruso-and-johnathan-williams


26/06: KCP Could Return to the Lakers


26/06: Carmelo Anthony To Team Up With LeBron?

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.”


26/06: Collison Could Be An Option


26/06: Lakers Interested in Russell


25/06: JR Smith To The Lakers?

Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports has suggested that if JR Smith is traded by the Cleveland Cavaliers, then waived, he will join the Lakers.


25/06: Lakers Set A Meeting With Russell

As first reported by Arye Abraham, later mentioned by Fred Roggin of NBC Los Angeles.


25/06: Magic Johnson Would Welcome Russell Reunion

Bill Oram of The Athletic: “The very man who deemed Russell unfit for the Lakers would welcome a return.

“‘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.


By Matt Evans (@mattyyyevans)

Free Agency Predictions

Image result for d'angelo russell kawhi leonard 2019
(Image/Hoops Hype)

The Los Angeles Lakers rocked the NBA world on June 15, when it was announced that they had struck a deal with the New Orleans Pelicans to acquire 26-year-old superstar, Anthony Davis. The move provides much-needed star talent alongside LeBron James. Although, the attention does shift towards free agency now, with the question being; do the Lakers push for a third star, or look to build a deep roster?

There are concerns around the exact amount of salary that the franchise will have available to spend, as we have outlined previously. But either way, a minimum of $23.6 million will be accessible. There are methods where that number can be taken up to the maximum salary slot of $32.7 million, but this depends on a variety of factors. The timing of the Davis deal being announced, his trade bonus being waived, Moritz Wagner and Isaac Bonga potentially being moved on, and so on.

Fans around the world have been sharing a wide-range of opinions and scenarios that could unfold this off-season. Some which include acquiring another star in Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, and Kemba Walker. Some veer towards the idea of building a deep roster, through the likes of J.J. Reddick, Danny Green, Seth Curry, Patrick Beverley, and Brook Lopez.

As always with our prediction articles, we have gathered four fans to discuss their views on the Anthony Davis trade, and how they think the off-season is going to unfold.

Image result for anthony davis 2019
(Image/USA Today Sports)

Q: First of all, the Lakers recently obtained superstar Anthony Davis in a huge trade with the New Orleans Pelicans. What are your views on the acquisition?

Frank: “Based on what we “know”, I really believe that this was a fair trade for both sides. Laker fans, of course, know the potential upside of Ingram and Ball.  Hart was also a solid contributor. However, we are also very aware of their injury history. After 2020, New Orleans essentially owns the Lakers’ draft picks until potentially 2025. On the other hand, the Lakers received a future hall of famer in Davis that is just entering his prime at 26 years of age. Rob Pelinka could possibly have been a bit more stingy and reluctant in terms of negotiating assets and the timing of the trade, but the deal needed to be done and he did it.”

Jonathan: “I’m absolutely thrilled about the trade, while we did give up a lot of assets (I would have loved to have kept Lonzo), it was essential that we made the trade. When you have one of the best players in the world in LeBron James, you need to maximise your chances of winning. Bringing Anthony Davis into the fold does that and gives the Lakers a legit chance of winning a title next season.”

Jamie: “It was fascinating watching the AD trade pan out, but I was just glad it got done in the end without us looking silly like we did back at the trade deadline. We got a top 5-player in exchange for some young guys who could be great but at the moment only hold potential. If we didn’t have LeBron then we would have kept the young guys, but with LeBron here we need to win now.”

Amandeep: “AD was a must, the trade has put us on a championship level. It’s a game-changer!”

Q: Davis’ contract does expire at the end of next season, does that worry you or are you confident of him committing long-term?

Frank: “In light of Dwight Howard’s departure after one season, the prospect of Davis leaving should scare me, but it doesn’t. He put the Lakers on a list of two teams that he would be willing to be traded to, so it would seem odd if he hit the ejection button after just one season. Also, while I loath to give the Lakers’ front office the benefit of any doubt, I can’t help but think they were given certain assurances prior to pulling the trigger about Davis’ future prospects. On the other hand, Howard never wanted to be a Laker and Kobe was not exactly rolling out the welcome wagon for him, so Dwight leaving the Lakers was not shocking.”

Jonathan: “I’m not worried about it at all, a lot of people can look at the Dwight Howard trade and see when trading for a superstar goes wrong. But Dwight made it clear that he wanted to be a Net, and not a Laker at that time. With Davis, he and Klutch made it very clear that Davis wants to be a Laker long term. I guarantee you that Rob Pelinka would not have given over any assets if he believed that Davis would walk in 12 months time.”

Jamie: “I’m not worried about AD staying long-term. After all the noise that he and Klutch Sports have made getting him to LA, it would take something spectacularly bad for him to consider leaving us at end of next season.”

Amandeep: “I’m fully expecting him to re-sign on a long-term max deal, I feel the Lakers are his no.1 choice and why shouldn’t he? He’s getting paid the max and is paired with the best player on the planet, at the most prestigious franchise, in the most glamorous city!”

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(Image/ David Dow/Getty Images)

Q: As a result of the trade, the Lakers’ available salary is unknown and is dependent on the timing of an official announcement. Would you prefer to push to acquire a third star in free agency, or look to add depth to the roster?

Frank: “I would push for a third max player. While in theory it makes sense to try and build a more balanced roster with multiple good players rather than one, or three, great ones, based on several factors, the multiple good player route doesn’t work very well in practice this year. Many teams will have cap space in which to spend money to acquire free agents, which will mean more competition for the same players. To me, the choice is obvious: create the cap space, if the Lakers can, and go for the max star. But, if the Lakers strike out, getting multiple good players to go around Davis and James is not a bad consolation prize.”

Jonathan: “It really depends on the superstar. If Kawhi Leonard is available and wants to be a Laker, then you 100% go for him. There are players like Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, and Kemba Walker, who could be in the conversation for the max slot. But I am of the opinion that with that the Lakers could bring in three players that would add a lot more depth to the roster than just adding a team full of veteran minimum guys.”

Jamie: “I’d be happy either way to be honest. Personally I would go all out for Kawhi and if we can’t land him, I would split the money.”

Amandeep: “The only max guys I would go for are Kawhi or Kyrie. If we cannot get them I would rather break up the remaining cap space and buy great role-players rather than purchasing a B+ player that wouldn’t be a superstar. Like we saw in Toronto, depth is key for success!”

Q: A host of stars are up for grabs this summer, as are a wide range of useful role players. Obviously, the answer to this question will depend on your last, but who would be your top-3 in terms of who you want the Lakers to prioritise signing?

Frank: “My first choice is Kawhi Leonard for sure.  He is arguably the best player in the game and can dominate both offensively and defensively. If Leonard is not an option, Kyrie Irving would be my second choice as the Lakers currently have no back court signed at all. Irving has already been proven to be a great fit next to LeBron. With his ability to create shots and space the floor, coupled with Davis and James, this would be an unstoppable combination on the offensive end. For similar reasons, Kemba Walker would be my third choice.”

Jonathan: “If I was Rob Pelinka I would prioritise Kawhi Leonard above all else. You only need to look at his finals performances to understand the calibre of player he is. Imagine having Lebron, AD and Kawhi on one team. It would be like the scene in Avengers: End Game when Iron Man, Captain America and Thor joined together to fight Thanos, it would be beyond epic.”

Jamie: “I don’t mind Butler or Kemba, but they aren’t in same league as Kawhi. If we don’t land Kawhi, who would be my top target, I think the money would be better spend elsewhere on players in the $10 million bracket.”

Amandeep: “1) Kawhi, 2) Kyrie, 3) Klay, even when he’s injured!”

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(Image/USA Today Sports)

Q: Let’s have a bit of fun with some player predictions. Here’s a list of free agents available, where do you think they will end up?

  • Kevin Durant – Warriors (Frank), Brooklyn (Jonathan, Amandeep), Knicks (Jamie)
  • Klay Thompson – Warriors (Frank, Jonathan, Jamie, Amandeep)
  • Kawhi Leonard – Lakers (Frank, Jamie), Clippers (Jonathan, Amandeep)
  • Kyrie Irving – Nets (Frank, Jonathan, Jamie, Amandeep)
  • Jimmy Butler – 76ers (Frank, Jonathan, Amandeep), Nets (Jamie)
  • Kemba Walker – Hornets (Frank, Jonathan, Jamie), Knicks (Amandeep)
  • DeMarcus Cousins – Lakers (Frank, Jonathan), Warriors (Jamie), Knicks (Amandeep)
  • Khris Middleton – Bucks (Frank, Jonathan, Jamie, Amandeep)
  • D’Angelo Russell – Knicks (Frank, Jamie), Suns (Jonathan), Celtics (Amandeep)
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(Image/12Up)

Q: Let’s say all goes well, whether it be through acquiring a third star or filling the roster deep, what would your expectations be for next season? There has been a lot of talk of the Lakers being the favourites for the 2019/20 NBA Championship.

Frank: “The Lakers should be a viable title contender next year. A large part of the equation will be just how good Pelinka is at filling out the team. With Golden State’s injury concerns, Houston’s infighting and D’Antoni’s history of postseason disappointments, Portland’s limited playoff ceiling, and Oklahoma City’s proclivity for underachieving in the postseason, the Lakers have a realistic path to the finals. The major roadblocks for them will be a formidable Utah team in light of the recent trade for Mike Conley and a Denver team which is very good and very deep. However, no team in the NBA will have a better combination of stars than LeBron James and Anthony Davis.”

Jonathan: “I think now is when the hard part starts for the Lakers, landing Anthony Davis has put the franchise in an excellent position to compete but if they don’t put a solid squad together then they’re doomed to fail. If the Lakers can add some solid 3-point shooters, good perimeter defenders and provide enough talent around the two stars then they should be considered as the favourites to get out of the West and into the NBA Finals. Could they win it all? They have a real chance, here is hoping everything goes to plan.”

Jamie: “Whether we get a third superstar or fill the roster, my expectations are going to be high with two of the top-5 players in the NBA on our team. Players are going to want to come and play with us, even more so if we land Kawhi/Butler/Kemba as well. I expect us to reach the Conference Finals, minimum. Then it could be a showdown with the Warriors depending on how their roster is looking injury-wise. I have to say though, I’m dreaming of another Championship and I think most Laker fans will be doing the same!”

Amandeep: “Regardless of whether we get a max or fill out our roster… we are gonna be the 2020 NBA Champs!”


A huge thank you goes to Frank, Jonathan, Jamie, and Amandeep for taking the time to answer our questions. Remember, the 2019 NBA free agency period is fast approaching, beginning on June 30 (11pm, UK time). It’s usually a hectic period, but it will be even more so now Anthony Davis has teamed up with LeBron James in Los Angeles.

By Matt Evans (@mattyyyevans)

The Lakers Agree a Deal to Acquire Anthony Davis

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(Image/USA Today Sports)

The saga is over! A short time ago, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski dropped the news that the Los Angeles Lakers have agreed a deal to acquire superstar Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans.

Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and three first-round picks are reportedly included in the deal. One of those future first-round picks is this year’s #4 pick.

Whilst it may make Laker fans’ eyes water, the price paid to acquire Davis does not come as a surprise. The purple and gold look to have stayed firm on not including Kuzma in the deal, but a collection of future first-round picks are now New Orleans-bound.

From a salary perspective, the deal works. Lonzo Ball ($8.7 million), Brandon Ingram ($7.2 million), Josh Hart ($1.9 million), and the 2019 #4 pick (circa $7 million) all but cover Davis’ contract ($27 million). According to our brief calculations, the Lakers will be slightly off maintaining a mid-tier maximum salary slot for the upcoming free agency period.

Image result for lonzo ball brandon ingram
(Image/USA Today Sports)

However, Moritz Wagner ($2 million) and Isaac Bonga’s ($1.4 million) contracts can be shipped out to free up salary which can open up that maximum salary slot. This looks like the most likely scenario, which will certainly make free agency an interesting one as top talent will now be looking to link up with LeBron James and Anthony Davis in Los Angeles.

The deal does work for both parties. The Lakers have acquired arguably a top-5 player in the NBA as they look to win now, and the Pelicans have received a host of promising young players along with a wealth of draft picks, in an attempt to rebuild post-Anthony Davis.

Don’t relax just yet though, we’re just getting started. Let the free agency rumours commence!


UPDATE 16/06: Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report has provided some expert insight into the Lakers’ salary moving forward, along with an excellent podcast from Trevor Lane of Lakers Nation and Keith Smith of Yahoo! Sports. The full details of the flexibility is unknown, but it appears that the timing of the deal being officially announced has a huge role to play.

Both teams will have to wait until July 6 to announce the trade, which means that the Lakers will pick on behalf of the Pelicans at Thursday’s NBA Draft. Anthony Davis does possess a 15% trade bonus of circa $4.1 million that will come off the Lakers’ books, if exercised.

Of course, Davis can waive his bonus to allow the purple and gold to acquire more talent alongside himself and LeBron James. If so, the Lakers will have an estimated $32.5 million in cap space moving forward.

Although, the above scenario does sit slightly short of the $32.7 million maximum that players like Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, and Kemba Walker, are expected to receive. As mentioned above, Wagner and Bonga can be moved to bump the salary available up, or the likes of Leonard, Irving, Butler, and Walker can accept a pay cut.

In addition, just to make things more puzzling, for the salary of this year’s #4 pick ($7.1 million) to be included in the trade, the Lakers will need to sign the player drafted, on July 1. From here, the deal would have to wait 30 days until it can be officially announced.

If the option is not taken to wait 30 days, the Lakers’ cap space drops to $27.7 million. Should Davis then choose to take his trade bonus, the space would shrink further to $23.6 million. Way off the maximum salary slot desired.

The 30 day wait would be the best situation, as it maintains available salary. Also, Davis can accept his trade bonus at that point without impacting the spending power of the Lakers. Leaving $32.5 million in available cap space, which opens up a path to sign a third star to the roster.

The question is now, do the Lakers star chase or do they use the salary to build a deep roster?


By Matt Evans (@mattyyyevans)

Don’t Forget About the Center

(Image/AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Remember the center position? Remember the position that used to dominate the NBA? Over the past few years it has become trendy to spread the myth that centers in the new NBA are as extinct and unimportant as pet rocks, discos, New Coke, or fidget spinners. But is this myth actually true?

That’s what the 2018-2019 Lakers front office thought last off-season when they only addressed the center position with JaVale McGee and… no one else, after letting capable centers walk. Such as Brook Lopez and versatile, small-ball center, Julius Randle. In their place, behind McGee, the Lakers hoped to play a small-ball style with a hodge-podge of bodies including Kyle Kuzma, Michael Beasley, and even LeBron James. This experiment did not go well.

As the season begun, it was this hole in the roster that led to the Lakers rushing to acquire an aging Tyson Chandler who helped resuscitate the Lakers defense for a brief stretch of games. In fact, as the season progressed it became clear that most of the teams the Lakers faced had a strong big man presence that they could not match up against on a night-to-night basis.

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(Image/AP News)

Now that we are so late into the post-season, it is easy to forget how important the center position is during the regular season. That’s why the emphasis for the Lakers this off-season is on signing a star wing or a point guard, as well as acquiring much-needed shooting. However, when one looks at the centers of the Pacific Division in which the Lakers play, as well as the eight 2019 Western Conference Playoff teams, it is clear that having strength at the center position is vital:

Golden State Warriors – DeMarcus Cousins

Phoenix Suns – DeAndre Ayton

Oklahoma City Thunder – Stephen Adams

Houston Rockets – Clint Capela

Utah Jazz – Rudy Gobert

Denver Nuggets – Nikola Jokic

Minnesota Timberwolves – Karl Anthony-Towns

San Antonio Spurs – LaMarcus Aldridge

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(Image/USA Today Sports)

Amongst the Pacific Division and Western Conference playoff teams, there aren’t many nights where the Lakers can take a night off from a center position standpoint. Luckily there are plenty of potential options should the Lakers choose to take the position more seriously than they did last time out.

The 2019 free agent class for centers is a strong one. Consider the following, who will be unrestricted free agents: Nikola Vucevic (20 ppg and 12 rebounds), DeMarcus Cousins (16 ppg and 8 rebounds), Brook Lopez (12 ppg, 4.9 rebounds, and a 36.5% 3-point), and DeAndre Jordan (11 ppg and 13 rebounds). There are also players that have options on their contracts which, if not exercised, could place them on the market. Including; Jonas Valanciunas (15 ppg and 8 rebounds), Al Horford (13 ppg and 6.7 rebounds), and Marc Gasol (13 ppg and 7.9 rebounds).

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(Image/Sportskeeda)

While we all can agree that the Lakers need more shooting, and while we all can agree that signing another star is of paramount importance, failing to address the center position could be an easy mistake for the franchise to make yet again this summer.

Many Laker fans would see signing one of the above centers to be a free agent fail. However, this kind of thinking ignores the evidence that having strength at the center position clearly leads to success for a vast majority of teams that are currently enjoying regular and post-season triumph.

By Frank Gaulden (@FrankGaulden)