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Thread: Official NBA Thread
08-19-2013, 08:54 PM #6181
08-26-2013, 06:11 PM #6182
yeah i watch football? and fantasy back to back champ! and lakers nation just saying
09-11-2013, 02:07 PM #6183
09-11-2013, 02:31 PM #6184
The Los Angeles Lakers don't rebuild. That's been true since their early days back in Minneapolis, when the franchise nickname made sense, and it's been true through the eras of George Mikan, Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant.
The latest projection from my ATH system has the Lakers with 34 wins in the coming season, and the system's most recent round of simulations had Los Angeles making the postseason in three of 1,000 replays of the season. ESPN.com's Summer Forecast also has the Lakers finishing 12th in the West, much to Bryant's chagrin. In other words, Los Angeles could be headed for their first single-digit draft slot since taking James Worthy first overall in 1982. If you think my projection is an aberration, be aware that I've seen other projections. It's not.
That's just scratching the surface of the Lakers' woes. Depending on how the standings fall, Los Angeles could be without its first-round picks in 2015 and 2017, and wont' have a second-round pick in three of the next four seasons. The team's top three players -- Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol -- have a combined 46 years of NBA mileage under their collective belt, and all three have undergone some kind of surgery over the past year.
On the bright side, before he was hurt last season, Bryant was as good as ever, averaging 27.3 points on the third-best true shooting percentage of his career. And the Lakers' long-clogged salary cap is about to finally come unstuck, with only Nash due significant guaranteed money after 2013-14. The coming flexibility will coincide with what could be a major shuffling of power in the NBA, with the loaded 2014 draft class and a sparkling free-agent market in the offing.
With a roster headed by three future Hall of Famers, it's certainly not out of the question that L.A. outperforms its dire statistical forecast. However, if and when the season goes south, how can general manager Mitch Kupchak bring the luster back to Los Angeles?
09-11-2013, 02:38 PM #6185
09-11-2013, 02:39 PM #6186
09-11-2013, 02:42 PM #6187
09-11-2013, 05:14 PM #6188
09-11-2013, 05:33 PM #6189
1. Recognize Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant as the foundation.
This isn't a move, but a recognition of the franchise's situation. Bryant's presence is what dictates everything. As perhaps the greatest Laker of them all, rebuilding is not an option after what will be 18 seasons with the team. With Bryant's contract expiring, Kupchak will have the opportunity to structure a roster and payroll, in cooperation with Bryant, that will give him one more window to chase title No. 6, while setting up the Lakers for the long term.
As for Gasol, the paucity of quality big men in the league, his track record of success with Bryant and, most importantly, his own expiring contract all combine to make him a solid fit to remain a Laker. Gasol's knee problems are a concern, making his production an important issue.
2. Trade Steve Nash for future assets.
Nash still has plenty left in the tank. He averaged 18 points and 10 assists per 40 minutes last season during the minutes in which he didn't share the court with Bryant. When teamed with Bryant, Nash was a lower-volume, higher-efficiency player. In a vacuum, that's fine. However, just as important as any awkwardness on offense, it's not a tenable defensive backcourt.
With a reasonable contract and a valuable skill set, Nash would be a welcome acquisition for most contenders in the league. The Lakers would not take back any money beyond next season in such a trade, and would only ask for a late first-round pick or, more likely, a couple of second-rounders in return. Under the reality of the new CBA, even the Lakers can't continue to ignore the draft.
3. Keep the 2014 draft pick
A Nash deal wouldn't come down until the deadline, by which time it's apparent that 2012-13 is a lost season. Gasol rumors would be rampant by that point, but we've already established that we're keeping him barring a blockbuster deal. So the next chance for Kupchak to set himself up for 2014-15 will be on draft night.
A 48-loss season would give the Lakers an outside shot at lottery magic. And let's face it, this is one franchise that is used to good fortune. Even if the Lakers don't move up, a pick at Nos. 7 or 8 (in one of the deepest drafts ever) would still put them into position to grab a future All-Star. Chad Ford has the Lakers selecting raw but talented Kansas big Joel Embiid at No. 10. The selection could also be a key trade piece down the line.
4. Sign Bryant and Gasol -- quickly
Bryant and Gasol will have massive cap holds on the Lakers' books upon hitting free agency -- a combined $52 million. Until they are resolved one way or another, Kupchak's offseason agenda will be choked.
Here's the strategy: Sign Bryant and Gasol to one-year deals for as low as the veteran's minimum.
Under this arrangement, the Lakers would open up massive amounts of cap space. After renouncing the other free agents, accounting for Bryant and Gasol's minimum salaries, the guaranteed money due to Robert Sacre, CBA-mandated minimum-player holds and the hold for the first-round pick, the Lakers still only have about $11 million of the cap accounted for -- easily enough room for two max-contract free agents.
It would be an extreme show of faith by the Lakers' stars. Kupchak could offer both players huge pay increases after 2014-15 using their Bird rights, in essence giving them an average salary commensurate with their current-day talents. However, this can't be agreed upon beforehand. Even if Bryant and Gasol can get past the ego issues of the pay cuts, there is still the risk of injury to scare them off. It's tough. Kupchak would be tasked with making a sales pitch without overtly making the sales pitch.
5a. Sign two max free agents
Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports
Could LeBron James opt for Los Angeles' bright lights and deal with Bryant's ego?
It's so simple, right? With all of this cap space, Kupchak opens up the check book, signs LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, and lives happily ever after. I'm not sure anyone really wants to see Bryant and Anthony on the same team, but besides those two, Paul George and Chris Bosh are the only potential free agents I see as possible max-type targets.
We've also seen that, these days, having an attractive talent core may be more important to elite free agents than max money, or a glitzy locale. The Lakers learned that first hand from Dwight Howard this summer. Still, you have to roll out the red carpet, especially for James.
5b. Sign two next-tier free agents to short-term deals
This is the lesson I took from the blockbuster Nets-Celtics trade on draft night: If you signed an OK player to a bloated contract -- like Gerald Wallace -- you can use his salary slot to acquire a better player.
If the Lakers strike out on the heavy hitters in the next free agent class, the next level of available players would be targeted. We're talking about players like Paul Pierce, Andrew Bogut and Luol Deng. Landing two of those players on short-term contracts for eight figures per season not only adds on-court talent, but it locks down two high-dollar salary slots.
The key is to keep the duration of the contract short, or else you risk ruining the trade value of the player. The eventual target would be a top-10 player who decides he can't continue in his current situation.
Who knows who will be the next disgruntled superstar? Maybe if things go bad for the Thunder, Kevin Durant will seek brighter lights. Maybe Chris Paul doesn't like playing for Doc Rivers, or things go bad for Blake Griffin. Perhaps Kevin Love wants out of Minnesota, or LaMarcus Aldridge bails on Portland, or the Kings tire of DeMarcus Cousins. We never know when these situations will crop up.
By locking down two decent players with sizable, but moveable contracts, the Lakers would become a team capable of dangling near-term cap space for an opponent hitting the reset button. Packaging one or both of the free-agent signings with the aforementioned prized draft pick will sweeten the pot that much more.
This is just one of many paths Kupchak can take to return the Lakers to relevance. The scheme requires luck, faith, failure, guts and cunning. Getting a team to the championship level always does, and when you can't truly rebuild, a few things are going to have to fall your way. If this plan seems desperate to you, well, that's kind of where the Lakers are at.
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09-11-2013, 06:33 PM #6190
09-11-2013, 08:07 PM #6191
09-16-2013, 03:41 PM #6192
Heat are cheating some how and the lakers cant catch a break!
09-16-2013, 04:20 PM #6193
LOL @ cheating
09-17-2013, 04:20 AM #6194
So um Rose declared himself 100% fit.
It isnt as exciting now to hear that. I would be if he said it a year ago but anyways Bulls 2013/14 champs
09-17-2013, 05:25 PM #6195
Lakers nation reunited! If Kobe was a competitor he will be back by opening night!
10-14-2013, 03:26 PM #6196
J. Lin block on granger is eye opening even tho its from behind, all players know someone will try to get it from behind
10-14-2013, 10:16 PM #6197
10-16-2013, 10:31 AM #6198
I don't know what ESPN is smoking but I want some. Ranking Kobe 25th is just ridiculous and downright disrespectful.
2013 NBA Player Rankings 21-25 - ESPN
Hey punjabi212, think you can post this story when you get a sec: Why Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant ranked so low - NBA - ESPN
Would love to know their reasoning behind it. Injury or not Kobe is not 25.
10-16-2013, 08:07 PM #6199
Why Kobe Bryant ranked so low
Health concerns a major factor for low placement in #NBArank
Kobe Bryant likes to tweet about numbers. Now, the Los Angeles Lakers star will have another number from ESPN to serve as motivation: 25th, his place in this year's ongoing #NBArank countdown of the league's top 500 players, as voted by the ESPN Forecast panel. Let's take a look at what this ranking means -- and what it doesn't.
1. This is a response to Kobe's injury
Let's put to rest any suspicion that the #NBArank voters are Kobe haters. As recently as April, when the same panel was asked to rate the league's top players, Bryant came in fourth. Amazingly, that was his highest finish since NBArank began prior to the 2011-12 season. Bryant finished seventh then, and sixth before last season, but his efforts carrying an injury-plagued Lakers squad back to the playoffs pushed him back into the league's top five players.
The same week Bryant's ranking was posted, he ruptured his Achilles' tendon in a game against the Golden State Warriors. Concerns about his recovery from that injury -- especially at the age of 35 -- explain his 21-spot drop in the rankings.
2. #NBArank measures value, not ability
An important tweak to the instructions sent to the ESPN Forecast panel this summer clarified that #NBArank should take into account "both the quality and the quantity" of a player's expected contributions -- which is to say, injuries count. Some two weeks before the Lakers host the rival Clippers on the opening night of the 2013-14 schedule, Bryant's availability still is in question. While he's been cleared to practice, Bryant has indicated he won't play until he's back in shape -- something he said last week would take "about three weeks."
When Bryant does return to the court, presumably his minutes will be limited at first, and at no point is he likely to see the kind of heavy action he did last season prior to his injury. There's also the possibility that Bryant struggles with other injuries. Players who have been able to make it back from ruptured Achilles tendons have missed more than a quarter of their games the following season after returning to the lineup. Chauncey Billups, for example, was dogged by groin injuries last season and played just 22 games.
3. What Bryant is attempting is nearly without precedent
As I detailed when Bryant first went down, only one player in NBA history -- Atlanta Hawks legend Dominique Wilkins -- has ever made an All-Star team after rupturing his Achilles. Wilkins, who was 32 and in his 10th NBA season at the time of the injury, returned to make two more All-Star appearances.
Naturally, most players who suffer Achilles ruptures aren't nearly at the level of Bryant or Wilkins in the first place. But former All-Stars like Elton Brand and Mehmet Okur were unable to maintain their previous level of play after their injuries. As a group, players returning from Achilles ruptures have seen their per-minute winning percentage drop by 6.0 percent.
4. Even a healthy Bryant maintaining his level of play would be largely without precedent
Besides the injury, Bryant also is facing the unconquerable opposition of aging, which usually makes it worse on smaller players. Few shooting guards have managed to play at a high level into their mid-30s. Per Basketball-Reference.com, just four shooting guards have been All-Stars past age 35: Ray Allen, John Havlicek (if he's considered a guard and not a small forward), Michael Jordan and Jerry West.
Bryant led all players in All-Star voting last season, so he's nearly certain to join that list. Deserving to make the All-Star team -- and ranking among the league's top 25 or so players -- is less certain. Applying the latter criteria strips out Jordan's two appearances with the Wizards, when he was effective but no longer elite, and West's final appearance at age 35 during a season in which a groin injury limited him to 31 games.
Since Havlicek's twilight years came before the league tracked turnovers, only one shooting guard in the WARP era has reached the 10-WARP figure that typically signifies an All-Star-caliber season: Clyde Drexler in 1997-98 (11.7).
5. But Kobe has defied precedent before -- including last season
As recently as this time a year ago, it was easy to construct a gloomy projection for Bryant, who had slipped to 9.2 WARP in 2011-12 -- his lowest total since age 20. With the condition of Bryant's knees deteriorating, it looked like he might never be the same player. Instead, Bryant bounced back with his best WARP for a season (13.0) since 2008-09. Jordan (14.3 in 1997-98, his final season in Chicago) was the only shooting guard who rated as more valuable at the same age.
Bryant improved his efficiency by sharpening his shot selection to cut down on long 2-pointers. In their place, renewed athleticism allowed him to get to the basket more frequently than he had in previous seasons. Coming off the Achilles injury, maintaining those driving scores might be difficult, but Bryant would do well to continue turning those long 2s into more valuable 3-pointers. Last season, he attempted as many 3s as long 2s, per Hoopdata.com.
If Bryant isn't quite as valuable on offense, he can compensate with improved attention at the defensive end. Last season's lapses and lax attention meant the Lakers allowed 4.4 more points per 100 possessions with Bryant on the floor, according to NBA.com/stats. If Steve Nash and Pau Gasol are healthy and more productive in the first full year under Mike D'Antoni, Bryant might not have to carry such a heavy load on offense and should have more energy left for the defensive end of the floor.
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10-25-2013, 10:04 PM #6200
I need one more person for the fantasy Basketball league on espy draft will be tuesday.
Everyone from last year please check make sure you got you invite and join. If you don't want to be apart of it again this year let me know and ill take you off