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Barring a devastating reignition of the coronavirus pandemic, the good news is the NBA is going to resume the season. The bad news, however, is nobody knows what the resumption of the season is going to look […]
Barring a devastating reignition of the coronavirus pandemic, the good news is the NBA is going to resume the season. The bad news, however, is nobody knows what the resumption of the season is going to look like.
Fortunately, it looks like we’re not going to have to wait much longer to find out exactly how, where, and when the league will resume the season as the Board of Governors will approve plans to proceed this coming Thursday. The league surveyed teams’ general managers whether to finish the regular season with more games, conduct a play-in tournament, or go straight into the playoffs and whether to seed the playoffs or stick with conferences.
While nobody knows for sure what Adam Silver will recommend, Twitter is flooded with rumors as to what his plan will include. Using that info and common sense, here’s my take on what Silver’s plan might look like:
What do we know?
- The teams are ready to approve the plan commissioner Adam Silver recommends. The owners understand this a challenging time for the league and completely trust Silver to make right decisions.
- The season is scheduled to resume on Friday, July 31st, which gives the league time both to prepare to play as well as time to finish the playoffs and offseason in time to start next season on Christmas Day.
- Disney World in Orlando appears to be the likely venue for all games to be played to create a controlled bubble where players, coaches, key personnel, and their families can be safely isolated and protected.
What can we surmise?
- There’s a good chance there will be some form of play-in tournament, most likely involving the two teams holding the eighth playoff slot in each conference and the six teams who are within six games of them.
- There’s a good chance playoff teams will be seeded 1–16 based on record regardless of conference since five of the six team within six games of a playoff spot are in the West and only one in the East.
What remains unknown?
- Whether there will be additional regular season games to meet the 70-game minimum on team local television contracts since most teams had only played 63 to 66 games before the season was suspended.
- Whether playoff rules will be changed so teams can carry two-way players in addition to the 15 players on the roster and whether teams can designate more than the 13 players to be active for games.
Who wins and who loses?
- The winners would be the six teams — Blazers, Pelicans, Kings, Spurs, Suns, and Wizards — who get a shot at making the playoffs and the Lakers, who will be in a separate bracket from the Bucks and Clippers.
- The Losers would be the Grizzlies and Magic, who instead of making the playoffs would now have to participate in an 8-team play-in tournament and the Bucks and Clippers who will be in the same bracket.
- The teams are ready to approve the plan commissioner Adam Silver recommends. The owners understand this a challenging time for the league and completely trust Silver to make right decisions.
Toronto Raptors’ free agent point guard Fred VanVleet was looking forward to getting paid this offseason after enjoying his best season in the NBA by averaging a career best 17.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 6.6 a […]
Toronto Raptors’ free agent point guard Fred VanVleet was looking forward to getting paid this offseason after enjoying his best season in the NBA by averaging a career best 17.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 6.6 assists per game.
Unfortunately, timing is everything and despite being one of the players leading the Raptors to the second best record in the East and third best record in the NBA, Fred’s chances of a big pay day don’t look promising. Currently making less than $10 million per year, VanVleet’s hopes for a multi-year contract paying more than $20 million per year may have been crushed by the league’s mounting losses due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Complicating the situation even more, the Raptors may not be willing to pay Fred the $15 to $18 million that most pundits are predicting he’s likely to be offered on the free agent market by teams like the Detroit Pistons. After signing Pascal Siakam to a max contract, the Raptors are looking to clear cap space to pursue Giannis Antetokounmpo next offseason and aren’t willing to sign long term contracts with any player other than OG Anunoby.
With the Miami Heat being the only non-losing team with cap space to sign VanVleet to big contract, there might be an opportunity for the Lakers to swoop in and steal Fred VanVleet in a sign-and-trade deal with Toronto. While the Lakers don’t have the cap space to sign Fred as a free agent, here are five reasons why they should pursue a sign-and-trade deal to send Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green, and their 2020 first round draft pick for VanVleet:
1. Championship Point Guard
Fred VanVleet proved in last year’s NBA Finals that he is a championship caliber point guard, averaging 14.0points, 2.2assists, and 2.7rebounds while shooting 44.4/40.0/85.7% and even receiving a vote for Finals MVP.
2. Proven Clutch Scorer
VanVleet was the star in the Raptors series clinching win in Game 6 of last year’s finals when he scored a career playoff best 22 points including 12 clutch points in the fourth quarter to lead Toronto to their first title.
3. Tough Relentless Defender
Fred VanVleet is not just a one-way player as he proved in last year’s Finals when he hounded and harrassed Warriors’ superstar Steph Curry in the Raptors 4–2 triumph forcing him into tough shots and turnovers.
4. Has Not Reached His Peak
Just a 26-year old who has improved every major stat in each of his four NBA seasons, VanVleet could give the Lakers a second young star to play with LeBron James and create a bridge to the future with Anthony Davis.
5. Trading Chip for Giannis
Giving VanVleet a 3-year contract at $20 million per year would help the Lakers’ chances of winning championships plus give them an valuable trading chip in a potential sign-and-trade deal for Giannis Antetokounmpo.
While Fred VanVleet wants to get paid, I believe he also wants to win. To me, that means he would likely be very interested if the Lakers were to approach him about a possible 3-year sign-and-trade deal for $60 million. Since Green’s $15 million expiring contract wouldn’t hurt their plans to chase Giannis, the Raptors would get a young star in Kuzma plus a first round draft pick for a player they were going to let walk for nothing.
Meanwhile, the Lakers would upgrade their roster with a talented two-way point guard who would fill their urgent need for a third scorer and second playmaker to complement superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Pro sports is replete with key moments or tuning points that transformed careers and changed legacies of players and teams. LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the Los Angeles Lakers find themselves at one of those […]
Pro sports is replete with key moments or tuning points that transformed careers and changed legacies of players and teams. LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the Los Angeles Lakers find themselves at one of those moments.
With the coronavirus pandemic not only threatening the current season but also the future of how we watch and enjoy NBA basketball, the legacies of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the Los Angeles Lakers are on the line. Whether they have an opportunity to resume play and how they perform under unexpected and unpredictable situations will go a long way towards determining how sports history views them as players and as a team.
For 35-year old LeBron James, missing a golden opportunity to win his first championship as a Laker and fourth overall would be a big disappointment while winning would add major credence to his drive to be the best ever. And it would unlock the door to the possibility of winning a second and third championship in purple and gold to not only solidify James’ position as a Lakers great but also launch him on a path to replace Jordan as GOAT.
Meanwhile, winning his first championship would solidify chances Anthony Davis would sign with the Lakers long term and give him a boost in the competition to assume the crown as the best player of the next decade. Helping lead the Lakers to the championship over the Clippers and Bucks could elevate Davis to the level of the Leonard and Antetokounmpo and give him a head start on surpassing them in the race for 2020’s supremacy.
As for the Los Angeles Lakers, winning their 17th championship would tie them with their rival Boston Celtics for the most NBA championships and make them the odds on favorites to repeat and attract another superstar. The Lakers winning could also conceivably trigger Giannis Antetokounmpo to decline a supermax offer from the Bucks this offseason to become a free agent the following offseason and possibly sign with the purple and gold.
Every great superstar legacy and franchise dynasty has been launched by a memorable title triumph and winning a championship this season could be the key to unlock the door to greatness for LeBron, AD, and the Lakers.
This is the last in a series of six articles about the top NBA superstars who hope to dethrone King James as the best player on the planet over the next decade. Here are links to our five previous articles […]
This is the last in a series of six articles about the top NBA superstars who hope to dethrone King James as the best player on the planet over the next decade. Here are links to our five previous articles covering Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, and Luka Doncic.
Heralded by everyone as the next LeBron James coming out of high school, the 6′ 6″, 280 lb 19-year old Zion Williamson has the freakish athleticism and otherworldly physicality the NBA has not seen since LeBron James.
The challenge for Zion to become the new king of the decade is he’s just 19 years old, not even a full season out of high school, and is likely going to need a few years to develop his game and grow into a legitimate superstar. The torn meniscus he suffered in his right knee that cost him half of his rookie season only added to the concerns certain experts had about his possible propensity to get injured because of his style of play and weight.
Despite missing the first half of the season and playing in only 19 games before the season was suspended, Zion Williamson gave fans good reasons to believe all of the hype about him being the next LeBron James were real. He not only showed flashes of the athleticism and physicality that had made him the unquestioned number one pick in the draft but also an impressive ability to shoot well from three-point range he never displayed in college.
While it may take some a couple of years to get going, Zion has the raw physical talent and athleticism to elevate his game to a level few superstars could match and is surrounded on the Pelicans by a talented young roster. Five years from now, it’s possible he could be the best player and the Pelicans one of the best teams in the league but prevailing as best player of the decade won’t be easy playing in a small market like New Orleans.
As the assumed heir apparent to LeBron James, many NBA pundits believe uber talented Zion Williamson is destined to take over the throne and rule the decade of the 2020’s much as the King presided over the 2010’s.
This is the 5th in a series of six articles about the top NBA superstars who hope to dethrone King James as the best player on the planet over the next decade. Here are links to our four previous articles […]
This is the 5th in a series of six articles about the top NBA superstars who hope to dethrone King James as the best player on the planet over the next decade. Here are links to our four previous articles covering Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, and Anthony Davis.
Luka Doncic looks more like the NBA version of ‘White Men Can’t Jump’ than a legit candidate to defeat an elite cast of athletically gifted superstars like Giannis, Kawhi, and KD to become best player of the next decade.
But looks can be deceiving and the 6′ 7″, 230 lb 21-year old Luka’s dramatic rise to superstar status and head-to-head exploits against proven superstars like LeBron, Giannis, and Kawhi in two short seasons have turned heads. Luka could finish the decade in the heart of his prime while competitors could be winding down their careers, bolstering the idea Doncic could be the dark horse winner in the race to be king of the NBA for the 2020’s.
To reach those heights, the Luka and KP Mavericks are going to have show they have the talent and drive to compete with championship competitors in the Wild West like the LeBron and AD Lakers and Kawhi and PG Clippers. The road for Luka Doncic to earn the title of king of the next decade not only requires multiple MVP awards and multiple NBA championships for the Dallas Mavs but also goes directly through the city of Los Angeles.
Luka Doncic is already putting up near triple-double superstar numbers in only his second season and nobody really knows how high his ceiling as a player may be since he is still only just 21-years old and not near his peak. Already averaging 28.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 8,7 assists, Luka’s best could be something we haven’t seen in today’s modern NBA and could set new standards for what qualifies as superstar performance in the future.
While he might lack the supernatural physical talent of other candidates competing for king of the 2020’s, Luka Doncic with his savvy court sense and smarts might turn out to be the best basketball player of the decade.
This is the 4th in a series of six articles about the top NBA superstars who hope to dethrone King James as the best player on the planet over the next decade. Here are links to our three previous articles […]
This is the 4th in a series of six articles about the top NBA superstars who hope to dethrone King James as the best player on the planet over the next decade. Here are links to our three previous articles covering Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, and Kevin Durant.
Despite spending his first seven years with the Pelicans out of the spotlight and his year with the Lakers in the shadow of LeBron James, Anthony Davis has the physical talent and basketball skills to be king of the next decade.
Like the 25-year old Antetokounmpo, the 6′ 10″, 250 lb 27-year old Davis is young enough to enjoy a championship caliber career that could span the entire decade of the 2020’s much like James did for the decade of 2010’s. And unlike the 28-year Leonard or 31-year old Durant, Davis has been able to avoid suffering any major injuries and could have the opportunity to play at his highest possible level for the entire decade, including the last years.
The keys to Anthony Davis replicating LeBron James’ decade long reign as the king of the NBA will be his ability to win multiple NBA championships with the Lakers before LeBron retires and dominating the post James era. That will require the Anthony Davis and LeBron James Lakers to prevail over the Kawhi Leonard and Paul George Clippers, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton Bucks, and Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving Nets.
The challenge Anthony Davis will face to be the best player on the planet for the next decade is proving he can break out from LeBron’s shadow and lead the Lakers to championships in the 2020’s years after James has retired. Taking the torch from LeBron James as superstar leader of the Los Angeles Lakers just as LeBron James took the torch from Kobe Bryant would make Anthony Davis the favorite to take the throne as best player of his decade.
While Anthony Davis may not be the favorite for best player of the 2020’s, he has the talent and position to pass the younger Giannis Antetokounmpo as well as the older, more injury plagued Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant.
This is the 3rd in a series of six articles about the top NBA superstars who hope to dethrone King James as the best player on the planet over the next decade. Here are links to our two previous articles […]
This is the 3rd in a series of six articles about the top NBA superstars who hope to dethrone King James as the best player on the planet over the next decade. Here are links to our two previous articles covering Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard.
A two-time NBA Finals MVP and NBA champion, Kevin Durant was another superstar whom, like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard, analysts believed had surpassed LeBron James to be the best player in the league.
Even though age and recent Achilles injury have taken some of the luster off his chances to dethrone James and become the best player of the 2020’s, the 6′ 10″, 240 lb 31-year old Durant cannot be discounted as a candidate. Before his injury during last year’s Finals, many experts considered Kevin to be the best player in the NBA after leading the Golden State Warriors to back-to-back championships over LeBron and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Now with his third team in twelve years, Kevin Durant has joined Kyrie Irving and a talented young Brooklyn Nets team that should be one of the favorites to challenge the Milwaukee Bucks as the best team in the East. Like Giannis and the Bucks and Kawhi and the Clippers, Kevin and the Nets will need to become a dominant team and win multiple NBA championships for him to have a chance to earn honors as the best player of the decade.
How KD recovers from his torn Achilles will determine whether he’ll be able to come back and be included in the conversation as to which superstar will assume the throne from LeBron and become the king for the next decade. The 31-year old, Durant will face an uphill battle not only to regain the transcendent ability he had before the injury but also to stay relevant and rule for an entire decade in the 2020’s as LeBron did during the 2010’s.
If Kevin can fully recover from his Achilles injury and with Kyrie turn the Brooklyn Nets into an NBA long-term dynasty, he could then beat the long odds and be able to replace LeBron as the NBA king of the next decade.
This is the 2nd in a series of six articles about the top NBA superstars who hope to dethrone King James as the best player on the planet over the next decade. Here is a link to our previous article […]
This is the 2nd in a series of six articles about the top NBA superstars who hope to dethrone King James as the best player on the planet over the next decade. Here is a link to our previous article covering Giannis Antetokounmpo.
As the reigning Finals MVP and a two-time NBA champion, Kawhi Leonard is another superstar whom, like Giannis Antetokounmpo, certain analysts believe has now passed LeBron James as the best player in the NBA.
After spurning an opportunity last summer to join the Lakers and play with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard instead charted his own path and recruited Paul George to join him in signing with the Clippers. Having already shown he can win at the highest level by leading the Spurs and the Raptors to NBA championships, Kawhi has demonstrated he’s not afraid to take risks or make controversial decisions to further his career.
The 6′ 7″, 225 lb 28-year old Kawhi Leonard, who is now on his third team in his nine NBA seasons, will need to avoid injury, stay healthy, and play at a high level for many more years to become the best player of this decade. Unlike Giannis and LeBron, who have never suffered a major injury, Kawhi missed almost all of the 2017-18 NBA season due to a serious quad injury and has needed extensive load management to play the last two seasons.
Avoiding another major injury and remaining healthy will be a major factor in Leonard’s quest to supplant LeBron James as the best player in the NBA over the next decade and likely why he’s not favored over Antetokounmpo. Kawhi faces a daunting challenge to become the NBA’s best player for the next decade as he will have to both overtake a still resilient LeBron James while holding back the challenge of a younger Giannis Antetokounmpo
If Kawhi can dodge injuries and elevate his game and lead the Clippers to overcome LeBron and the Lakers and Giannis and the Bucks the next two years, he would have a good start to being King of the NBA for the 2020’s.
This is the 1st in a series of six articles about the top NBA superstars who hope to dethrone King James as the best player on the planet over the next decade.
As reigning MVP and odds on favorite to […]
This is the 1st in a series of six articles about the top NBA superstars who hope to dethrone King James as the best player on the planet over the next decade.
As reigning MVP and odds on favorite to repeat again this season, Giannis Antetokounmpo is the superstar most analysts believe will dethrone LeBron James as the king and best player on the planet over the next decade.
As a likely back-to-back winner of the league’s regular season MVP, some have already the anointed Giannis as the new king, although that honor is premature since he has never won a championship or made it to the Finals. While the 6′ 11″, 240 lb 25-year old Antetokounmpo has the physical tools and potential talent to be the next king, he’s still going to have to develop a consistent jumper and the mental toughness to win a championship.
With just seven NBA seasons under his belt, Giannis Antetokounmpo possesses the greatest physical talent and athleticism of any of the current challengers looking to dethrone LeBron James as the king of the NBA. Should he continue to hone and develop his basketball skills and grow and mature as a competitor, there’s no question Giannis has the potential to take the throne from LeBron and hold onto it for the rest of the decade.
What happens this season and next will tell us a lot about the trajectory of Giannis Antetokounmpo’s career. To take full advantage of his potential, Giannis needs to make it to the NBA Finals and ideally win a championship. While failing to reach those goals wouldn’t eliminate him from replacing LeBron, it would likely result in his leaving Milwaukee and joining a team with other superstars, which could change the dynamic of his career.
Giannis may be the favorite to become king of the NBA for the next decade but he’ll have to develop a consistent jumper and the mental toughness to win a championship and hold off a host of older and younger superstars.
With only a few bottom dwelling teams having cap space, a dearth of elite free agents, and a chance the salary cap and luxury tax limits will go down, the Lakers’ non-taxpayer MLE could suddenly become a p […]
With only a few bottom dwelling teams having cap space, a dearth of elite free agents, and a chance the salary cap and luxury tax limits will go down, the Lakers’ non-taxpayer MLE could suddenly become a powerful weapon.
Whether the league decides to use cap smoothing to limit the damage, there’s a good chance this offseason will be a sobering reminder to the NBA that business as usual is going on a two-year hiatus as the losses mount. Financial uncertainty combined with diminishing cap space is going to cause players to decline options to become free agents and many teams to look for ways to dump unproductive players with expensive contracts.
Elite free agent prospects like Fred VanVleet, Danilo Gallinari, Montrezl Harrell, or Davis Bertans are going to be forced to sign with losing teams like the Knicks, Hawks, Pistons, and Suns or seek sign-and-trade deals. Teams over the cap but under the tax threshold like the Lakers who can offer free agents their $9.7 million MLE may suddenly find themselves perfectly positioned to land players they did not expect to be able to sign.
With that in mind, let’s take a look a four talented players whom the Lakers might be able to convince to sign for their $9.7 million non-taxpayer MLE who would be great adds to their 2021 roster to help them win a championship:
1. Miami Heat Point Guard Goran Dragic
Goran Dragic is a 6′ 3,” 190 lb, 34-year old fourteenth year unrestricted free agent point guard who averaged 16.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists in 28.4 minutes per game as Kendrick Nunn’s backup for the Miami Heat. Coming off the bench for the first time since early in his career, Goran shot 43.7/37.7/76.9% this season, taking and making the most three pointers in his career and showing he was still capable of playing at a high level.
While Dragic made $19 million in the last year of his contract, the Heat are one of the few teams with significant cap space and will be looking to sign a second superstar to play alongside Jimmy Butler this or next offseason. That means they’re unlikely to offer Dragic anything but a 1-year deal, which could open the door for the Lakers to sign Goran with their $9.7 million MLE for an opportunity to win a ring playing with LeBron and AD.
Goran would be a perfect fit on the Lakers as the third scorer and second playmaker they desperately need. He could both start at the point and run the offense with Anthony Davis when Lebron James was on the bench.
2. Brooklyn Nets’ Shooting Guard Joe Harris
Joe Harris is a 6′ 6,” 220 lb 31-year old sixth year unrestricted free agent shooting guard who averaged 13.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists in 30.9 minutes per game for the season as a key starter for the Brooklyn Nets. Acknowledged as one of the league’s elite three-point shooters, Joe shot 47.1/41.2/74.7% for the season and would seem to be the perfect player to create space for the Nets’ superstar duo of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
In a normal market, Harris would be in for a big raise from the $7.7 million he made last year but this offseason is anything but normal with few teams having money to spend in a market where the salary cap is likely to drop. With Brooklyn already slated to pay luxury taxes and the coronavirus pandemic probably increasing the bill, the Nets may decide they can’t afford to pay Harris, which could open the door for the Los Angeles Lakers.
While signing Harris for their $9.7 million MLE and a chance to win a ring might be a long shot, the Lakers would be smart to contact Joe’s agent as he would be the perfect sharp shooter to create space for LeBron and AD.
3. Detroit Pistons’ Power Forward Christian Wood
Christian Wood is a 6′ 10,” 214 lb, 24-year old fourth year unrestricted free agent power forward who averaged 13.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists in 21.4 minutes per game in a breakout season 2020 with the Detroit Pistons. Wood can play both power forward and center and shot an impressive 56.7/38.6/74.4% this season, showing great athleticism attacking the rim as well as the ability to stretch the floor with elite three-point shooting.
Christian is currently earning the veteran’s minimum with the Pistons but is due for a big raise. The Celtics and Rockets tried to deal for him at the trade deadline and salary cap experts expect him to earn from $5 to $8 million. While other teams might tempt him with a chance to start, the Lakers could offer Wood their $9.7 million MLE and the opportunity to play with LeBron James and Anthony Davis on a powerhouse championship caliber team.
Christian would not only give the Lakers a stretch four who could help them win now but a talented, long, and athletic forward who could fulfill the void for a budding young star they had once hoped Kyle Kuzma could provide.
4. Phoenix Suns’ Center Aron Baynes
Aron Baynes is a 6′ 10,” 260 lb, 33-year old eighth year unrestricted free agent center who averaged 11.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists in 22.3 minutes per game sharing center with Deandre Ayton for the Phoenix Suns. The veteran Baynes is a solid defender and rugged screen setter who shot 48.0/35.1/74.7% this season. Depending what happens with DeMarcus Cousin, Baynes could be a perfect backup stretch five for the Lakers.
Aron is currently earning $5.4 with the Suns, who are unlikely to resign him since Deandre Ayton is their future at center. Baynes could be tempted to sign a short term deal with the Lakers for a similar amount to win a ring. Baynes elite screen setting and pick-and-pop abilities would add a well needed dimension to the Lakers’ offense by spreading defenses and opening up driving lanes for LeBron James and Anthony Davis to attack the rim.
Baynes would give the Lakers the perfect weapon against teams like the Bucks and Clippers who love to play drop coverage on pick-and-rolls to clog up the middle and make it hard for James and Davis to get into the paint.
When you’re a Lakers fan, it’s a challenge to select four superstar players to be immortalized on your Mount Rushmore but choosing one superstar with which to start a franchise among these legends is tan […]
When you’re a Lakers fan, it’s a challenge to select four superstar players to be immortalized on your Mount Rushmore but choosing one superstar with which to start a franchise among these legends is tantamount to impossible.
How do you choose from what are without question four of the greatest players to ever put on a purple and gold jersey, possibly the best NBA point guard, shooting guard, small forward, and center to ever play this game? It’s an impossible task but you have no option. You’re the general manager with the number one pick in the draft and this is the greatest draft class in the history of the league. So put on your big boy pants and make your pick.
The rules are simple. We’re talking about today’s modern NBA game where the three ball dominates, the game has become positionless, and science has given us 21-year old clones of these four players to start new teams. You’re to assume there will be elite players available with modern skill sets at all five positions with which to build out your roster and bench but none with the dominant generational superstar talent of these four players.
The challenge is figuring out who would be the best superstar around which to build a championship team considering the talent, character, versatility, and durability of these players and their fit in the modern game. To help you make your final decision who to draft, here’s my brief take on the relative strengths of each of the players as well as critical questions regarding how they might fit in today’s analytically driven league:
1. Magic Johnson, 19.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 11.2 apg, 52.0/30.3/84.8%
There’s a strong argument to be made that no position in today’s modern game is as important as point guard and there’s almost universal consensus that the 6–8 Magic Johnson is the best point guard to ever play the position. Winner of 5 NBA championships, 3 League MVPs, 3 Finals MVPs, 2 All-Star Game MVPs, and 9 First Team All-NBA awards in 13 NBA seasons, Magic was the ultimate fast break orchestrator and championship team leader.
If you have a chance to draft the greatest point guard in the history of the game, it’s hard not to decide to take Magic. His only weakness might be his mediocre 3-point shooting percentage and average defensive rating.
2. LeBron James, 25.7 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 10.6 apg, 50.4/34.4/73.5%
No superstar in NBA history can match LeBron James’ versatility and unique ability to play and defend all five positions on the court. It’s why when his career is over, he may be considered to be the greatest ever. Winner of 3 NBA championships, 4 League MVPs, 3 Finals MVPs, 3 All-Star Game MVPs, and 12 First Team All-NBA honors in 17 seasons counting, we may never see another superstar with LeBron’s physical and mental talent.
If you have a chance to draft the player who may eventually be the GOAT, it’s hard not to decide to choose LeBron. That he can play the point as well as Magic but is a better 3-point shooter and elite defender may be decisive.
3. Kobe Bryant, 25.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 4.7 apg, 44.7/32.9/83.7%
There is no superstar more beloved by Lakers fans than Kobe Bryant, who’s tragic death with his daughter Gigi in a helicopter crash earlier this year shocked the city of Los Angeles and basketball fans around the world. Winner of 5 NBA championships, 1 League MVP, 2 Finals MVPs, 4 All-Star Game MVPs, and 11 First Team All-NBA honors in 20 seasons, Kobe was one of the greatest clutch scorers and toughest defenders in NBA history.
While the opportunity to draft a generational superstar like Kobe Bryant is special, it’s hard to imagine him matching the impact of a Magic Johnson or LeBron James despite his unique two-way talent and Mamba mentality.
4. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 24.6 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 3.6 apg, 36.8/5.6/72.1%
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scored more points than any other player in the history of the NBA and his offensive and defensive prowess makes him in the minds of many experts the greatest center to every play the game. Winner of 4 NBA championships, 6 League MVPs, 2 Finals MVPs, 5 First Team All-Defensive teams, and 10 First Team All-NBA honors in 20 seasons, the Captain and his sky hook will always be among the league’s legends.
It’s hard to argue against drafting a superstar who scored more points in his career than any other player and was one of greatest two-way centers ever but the game has changed and centers no longer anchor championship teams.
Choosing between four of the greatest superstars in the history of the NBA is not easy, especially when you think of each in their prime. While you couldn’t go wrong with any of them, the truth is the game has changed. That’s why I would select LeBron James first because of his unique physical talents, his positional versatility, his ability to fit in the modern analytics driven NBA of today, and the fact he he still has time to add to his resume.
While most NBA franchises would be happy to win a single championship, the Los Angeles Lakers have always looked for ways to build dynasties that could win multiple championships. That’s how you win 16 c […]
While most NBA franchises would be happy to win a single championship, the Los Angeles Lakers have always looked for ways to build dynasties that could win multiple championships. That’s how you win 16 championships.
The Los Angeles Lakers have more unfinished business besides finishing the 2019–20 season and winning their 17th NBA championship. Their goal this offseason is going to be to make a blockbuster trade for a third superstar. While speculation has the Lakers waiting until next offseason to pursue forward Giannis Antetokounmpo as their third superstar, the smarter move might be for them to go hard after a young superstar guard this offseason.
When you look at the great superstar duos or trios in NBA history, they all included at least one superstar guard. Magic and Kareem, West and Baylor, Michael and Scotty, Kobe and Shaq, LeBron and Wade, LeBron and Kyrie. Trading for a young superstar guard this summer could actually enhance the Lakers’ chances of landing Giannis Antetokounmpo if he opts to leave Milwaukee next summer by giving them a valuable sign-and-trade chip.
Here are four trades for talented young guards with superstar potential who would be great fits with LeBron and AD and give the Lakers a second star to play alongside the 26-year old Davis when the 35-year old James retires:
1. Lakers Trade for Chicago Bulls’ Shooting guard Zach LaVine
25-year old Zach LaVine would be the perfect complement to LeBron James and Anthony Davis. He averaged 25.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game with the Bulls last season while shooting 45.0%/37.5%/80.2%.
The Lakers would have to include their 2020 and 2025 first round picks along with budding star Kyle Kuzma, proven veteran Danny Green, and bench GOAT Alex Caruso to tempt the Bulls to trade the talented LaVine.
But Zach would give the Lakers the third superstar they desperately need to make them the unquestioned best team in the league now and give them the second superstar to go with Davis once the 35-year old James retires.
2. Lakers Trade for Washington Wizards’ Shooting guard Bradley Beal
26-year old Bradley Beal would be a great fit playing with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. He averaged 30.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 6.1 assists per game with the Wizards last year while shooting 45.2%/35.3%/84.2%.
The Wizards might be tempted by an offer for Beal of potential young star Kyle Kuzma, proven vet Danny Green, bench GOAT Alex Caruso, defensive ace Avery Bradley, and the Lakers’ 2020 and 2025 first round draft picks.
Adding a third superstar like Bradley Beal to the Lakers’ LeBron James and Anthony Davis would elevate the Lakers over other NBA teams and give them a young superstar to complement Davis and eventually replace James.
3. Lakers Trade for Indiana Pacers’ Shooting guard Victor Oladipo
27-year old Victor Oladipo would give the Lakers a dynamic young guard to go with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. He has career averages of 17.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 3.9 assists while shooting 44.1%/35.0%/79.3%.
Because of his injury and looming big raise, the Pacers might be interested in an offer of the Lakers’ 2020 first round pick, young star Kyle Kuzma, bench GOAT Alex Caruso, and proven vet Danny Green for young Victor.
A healthy Oladipo would solve the Lakers need for a third superstar to make them the dominant team in the league and give them a superstar guard to anchor the team with Anthony Davis when LeBron James finally retires.
4. Lakers Trade for Utah Jazz’ shooting guard Donovan Mitchell
23-year old Donovan Mitchell would be an ideal third superstar to go with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. He averaged 24.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game last year while shooting 45.3%/36.3%/85.9%.
Because Mitchell makes so little, the Lakers would need to offer their 2020 and 2025 first round picks plus Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green, Alex Caruso, and Talen Horton-Tucker for Mitchell and Ingles to interest the Jazz in a trade.
The youngest of the four trade targets, Mitchell would be give the Lakers a superstar shooting guard to go with LeBron and AD and make them the best team in the league and give AD a great running mate after LeBron retires.
Nobody knows if the Bull, Wizards, Pacers, or Jazz are going to be willing to trade a young superstar like Zach LaVine, Bradley Beal, Victor Oladipo, or Donovan Mitchell or whether the Lakers’ offer would be the best available. How the various Lakers’ players included in the above trades perform should the NBA resume the season and playoffs will certainly be a major factor in determining their value in any potential trades this offseason.
Even if they win their 17th championship this season, the Los Angeles Lakers are not going to stand pat. They’re going to be looking to take the team to the next level and build a sustainable championship dynasty.
Slowly but surely it’s become obvious the coronavirus pandemic is going to create a new normal we never envisioned and transform everything we’ve known and become accustomed to about the NBA and professional spo […]
Slowly but surely it’s become obvious the coronavirus pandemic is going to create a new normal we never envisioned and transform everything we’ve known and become accustomed to about the NBA and professional sports.
How many games are played, when the seasons and playoffs start and end, the stats and records, the conferences and divisions, salaries and finances, everything will forever be divided into eras before and after coronavirus. Just as life in general is going to change, get ready for a new reality as the rush to salvage the 2020 season and economic challenges will undoubtedly scramble professional sports like nothing we have seen in modern times.
Forget worrying the pandemic is going to put an asterisk on this season because coronavirus is going to change everything going forward and compress what could have been decades of changes into a year or two. Games without fans, realignment of divisions and conferences, rise and fall of big markets, shortening of seasons, and limits to free agency are just a first wave that will inundate and change the landscape of sports forever.
Just as the pandemic will transform how we work, study, and get services and speed up the adoption of telecommuting, online education, and remote services, it’s going to change the basic fabric of sports and entertainment. Streaming sports and entertainment events to remote viewers will grow even faster than before as people look to avoid the risks associated with attending live games and concerts in crowded arenas and stadiums.
The halcyon days of 15,000 rabid fans at an NBA game, 40,000 at at an MLB game, or 100,000 at a college football game may be long gone should the coronavirus turn out be be more deadly or last longer than expected. Even after the pandemic is over, attending a live game may never be the same. Stadiums may have to dramatically reduce capacity to allow for social distancing to ensure their fans it’s safe for them to show up in person.
The NBA’s talking about hopefully finishing the current season and playoffs with teams playing in arenas without fans in an isolated venue like Las Vegas or Disney World with the NBA Finals stretching as far as September. Keeping options open to finish the 2019–20 season and crown an NBA champion has resulted in the league seriously planning to shift the start of the 2020–21 and future seasons from late October to Christmas Day.
MLB’s plans to finish the current season include ditching the American and National Leagues and realigning teams into Cactus and Grapefruit leagues playing in Arizona or Florida depending on their spring training venues. That solution to save this season then sparked ideas for a radical permanent geographical realignment with ten-team East, West, and Central divisions designed to reduce travel and increase regional and local rivalries.
The truth is we’re in one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments in time when something major happened that changed everything in ways we didn’t expect and couldn’t predict, like after a world war or the great depression. Sports could fade away and become inconsequential or they could evolve into that one thing that allows people to escape for a few vicarious minutes the tough times and experience the joy of victory and the agony of defeat.
No matter what your crystal ball or time machine predicts, the coronavirus pandemic has opened up an unpredictable Pandora’s box of changes for the NBA and other professional sports leagues. Radical change is on its way.
There’s a chance LeBron James may choreograph an entirely different kind of last dance than the high scoring egos of Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan created, one that could set the stage for a Los Angeles Lakers d […]
There’s a chance LeBron James may choreograph an entirely different kind of last dance than the high scoring egos of Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan created, one that could set the stage for a Los Angeles Lakers dynasty.
Unlike Bryant and Jordan, whose last dances were focused on the individual accomplishments of their personal careers as shoot first superstars, the pass first James may take an entirely different approach to the end of his career. Instead of demanding a max contract like Kobe and MJ did at the end, LeBron might be willing to accept less than the max salary to create cap space for the Lakers to sign a third superstar like Giannis Antetokounmpo.
That’s a move that not only opens the door for the Lakers to create a dynasty that would last beyond LeBron’s career but also give James opportunities to extend his personal career and honor his legacy with more championships. It’s also a move that might appeal to a selfless superstar like James who’s never been as burdened with taking and making the last shot as Bryant and Jordan nor measured his greatness by points scored or dollars earned.
A close scrutiny of the Los Angeles Lakers’ salary cap machinations clearly shows they believe this is a possibility as there is no way they could sign Antetokounmpo to a max contract without James agreeing to take less. Whether it’s Giannis or another max player, the Lakers know they need to find another superstar to pair with Anthony Davis and ultimately replace LeBron James to maintain the Lakers as an elite championship contender.
Watching LeBron embrace his role as a member of the Lakers and assume the leadership mantle from Kobe Bryant, I’m confident LeBron already has a different kind of last dance in mind as his Lakers’ career comes to a close.
There was a time, as a devout Kobe Bryant stan, I was guilty of downplaying how great a basketball player LeBron James was and taking great pleasure in the harsh criticism he received for his ‘Decision’ to joi […]
There was a time, as a devout Kobe Bryant stan, I was guilty of downplaying how great a basketball player LeBron James was and taking great pleasure in the harsh criticism he received for his ‘Decision’ to join the Miami Heat.
Championing Kobe and downplaying LeBron quickly became my mantra as James assumed the mantle as the league’s ‘new’ greatest player and took over from Jordan as Bryant’s primary competitor and major protagonist. Supporting Kobe over LeBron became a Herculean task over Bryant’s last six years as the Lakers failed to make the NBA Finals or win a championship while LeBron participated in six Finals and won three championships.
Then Kobe retired and rumors started the Lakers wanted to sign LeBron as a free agent, a move I quickly and vociferously opposed as a desperate gambit that would surely compromise the team’s independence and future success. For me, signing LeBron James was tantamount to the Lakers capitulating and becoming a west coast version of the Cleveland Cavaliers, handicapped by his 1-year contracts and handpicked teammates’ costly long term deals.
When Magic Johnson signed LeBron to a four-year contract, I was skeptical and still suspicious about how much control the Lakers would have to yield to James, fearing he would become the team’s defacto GM and head coach. The media spin that LeBron had joined the Lakers because of his long-term desire to move his family and business to Los Angeles rather than any short-term hunger to win another NBA championship only increased my doubts.
Despite a promising start, LeBron’s first season with the Lakers only added to my concerns when he went down to a groin injury on Christmas day against the Warriors and the team finished the season with a 35–47 record. Magic’s failed attempt to trade for Anthony Davis ended up undermining any chance the Lakers had at developing team chemistry and eventually resulted in Johnson’s resignation and head coach Luke Walton’s firing.
But those events created the opportunity for Rob Pelinka to take control of the Lakers, get everybody in the organization on the same page, complete the trade for AD, and install Frank Vogel as the team’s new head coach. Then came two monumental events that finally convinced me LeBron bled purple and gold and deserved to wear a Lakers jersey and converted me from a tried and true Kobe Bryant stan into a die-hard LeBron James fan.
The first of course was LeBron James passing Kobe Bryant for third place in the NBA’s all-time scoring list, an event that resulted in a mutual love fest of respect and praise between the former and the new faces of the franchise. That LeBron at thirty-five years old was still playing at such an elite level, embracing playing for the Lakers, and so respectfully assuming the mantle as the franchise’s new leader simply melted away any lingering negativity.
The second event was obviously how LeBron James stepped up to take the Lakers’ torch from Kobe in the aftermath of the devastating helicopter crash the very next day that killed Bryant, his daughter Gigi, and seven others. Kobe had congratulated LeBron the night before about passing him and LeBron left no doubt he loved Kobe as a big brother and was committed to carrying on Mamba’s quest for Lakers’ championships and greatness.
The death of Kobe Bryant and the suspension of what was looking like a possible Lakers’ championship season due to the coronavirus pandemic have been a tough double whammy to the Lakers and their millions of fans. On the bright side, LeBron James is still a viable candidate for best player and the Lakers for best team in the league and hope still abounds that the season will be resumed and the Lakers can win the championship.
While Kobe’s death broke our hearts, his passing of the torch to LeBron has erased any conflict between respecting and appreciating the greatness of the Mamba while still embracing King James as the new face of the Lakers.
The Los Angeles Lakers are hoping and praying they’ll get the opportunity to resume the 2019–20 season and bring home their 17th NBA title to avoid another promising season joining the ghosts of Lakers’ lost […]
The Los Angeles Lakers are hoping and praying they’ll get the opportunity to resume the 2019–20 season and bring home their 17th NBA title to avoid another promising season joining the ghosts of Lakers’ lost championships.
While their 16 NBA championships are the second most won by any NBA franchise other than the 17 won by the Boston Celtics, the Los Angeles Lakers have also lost a record 15 NBA Finals, more than any other team. They’ve lost 9 times to the Boston Celtics, twice to the New York Knicks and Detroit Pistons, and once to Philadelphia 76ers and Chicago Bulls. 4 of the 9 Celtics’ losses and 1 of the 2 Knicks’ losses involved losing Game 7.
So as great as their storied legacy is, having appeared in 31 NBA Finals, the Los Angeles Lakers are certainly no stranger to ghosts of lost championships as their NBA Finals record of 16 wins and 15 losses is barely over 50%. Digging deeper, when you take away their 5 Finals’ wins and 1 Finals’ loss when in Minneapolis, the ‘Los Angeles’ Lakers record in NBA Finals is only 11 wins and 14 losses, which translates to a win percentage of just 44%.
To be fair to the Lakers, 6 of their 9 losses to the Boston Celtics were from more than fifty years ago. When you look at the Lakers’ record in NBA Finals over the last fifty years, it’s a more respectable 11 wins and 8 losses. Unfortunately, no matter how you want to spin it, the Lakers have missed several golden opportunities to win in the NBA Finals, which has inevitably caused them to be haunted by multiple ghosts of lost championships.
So let’s take a brief tour of the missed opportunities that could have been Lakers’ titles but ended up becoming the ghosts of lost championships:
(1) 1961–62 Finals’ Loss to the Boston Celtics in 7 games.
Led by superstars Elgin Baylor and Jerry West, the Lakers lost a Game 7 overtime heartbreaker to the Celtics by 3 points after Frank Selvy’s potential game-winning jumper from 18 feet at the end of regulation fell short.
(2) 1965–66 Finals’ Loss to the Boston Celtics in 7 games.
Led again by superstars Elgin Baylor and Jerry West, the Lakers once again lost Game 7 to the Celtics, this time by 2 points after furiously rallying and coming back from down 16 points at the start of the fourth quarter.
(3) 1968-69 Finals’ Loss to the Boston Celtics in 7 games.
With Wilt Chamberlain joining Elgin Baylor and Jerry West, the Lakers had home court advantage and a 3–2 lead over the Celtics before losing Games 6 and 7 in the only Finals where Jerry West, a losing player, won MVP.
(4) 1969–70 Finals’ Loss to the New York Knicks in 7 games.
Finally getting a shot against a team not the Celtics, the Lakers with Bayler, West, and Chamberlain were favored to win the title before an injured Willis Reed limped onto the court and inspired the Knicks to a Game 7 win.
(5) 1983–84 Finals’ Loss to the Boston Celtics in 7 games.
Facing the Celtics for the first time since 1969, the Magic and Kareem Lakers won the first two games of the series before McHale’s clothesline foul of Rambis turned the tide and Boston won three of the next four games.
(6) 2003–04 Finals’ Loss to the Detroit Pistons in 5 games.
Having signed HOF stars Karl Malone and Gary Payton, the Lakers were favorites to win the title but Malone’s injuries, Bryant’s rape allegations, and destructive Kobe-Shaq feud derailed any championship hopes.
(7) 2007–08 Finals’ Loss to the Boston Celtics in 6 games.
This was the ninth and final time the Celtics with their Big Three of Garnett, Pierce, and Allen defeated the Lakers with Bryant and Gasol for the NBA championship. Two years later, Kobe and the Lakers got their revenge.
As you can see from my above recaps, 5 of the 7 Lakers’ Finals classified as lost championships resulted from Game 7 losses. In contrast, only 5 of the 16 championships the Lakers have won were the result of Game 7 wins. While the Lakers’ record in Game 7’s is just 5 wins and 5 losses, basically a 50% win record, the flip side is 11 of the 16 championships the Lakers won were in series that they were able to finish off in 4, 5, or 6 game series.
Right now, I’m optimistic the Lakers will get an opportunity to win their 17th NBA championship. If the NBA does cancel the season, the Lakers will ultimately find themselves haunted by another lost championship.
I’ve always believed, if you look hard enough, you can find silver linings in every cloud. Even though the coronavirus pandemic hanging over our world has put that philosophy to its ultimate test, I still b […]
I’ve always believed, if you look hard enough, you can find silver linings in every cloud. Even though the coronavirus pandemic hanging over our world has put that philosophy to its ultimate test, I still believe in silver linings.
Sometimes it takes great tragedy to inspire great change. That’s a theme we’ve seen repeated throughout history, great depressions generating new economic resurgences, deadly world wars leading to long periods of peace. Out of the ashes of this pandemic, I’m hopeful a national political and social renaissance will unite our country to embrace universal healthcare, create prosperity with a new green deal, and inspire us to build a better America.
Even though the suspension of the NBA season threatens to rob the Lakers of a chance to win their seventeenth championship, I still believe there are silver linings to be found in the dark clouds of this coronavirus pandemic. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at a couple potential silver linings we might be able to find in the storm clouds the coronavirus suspension has cast over the Los Angeles Lakers’ current as well as future seasons.
Silver Lining 1: Lakers could have better chance to win championship.
While the Lakers appeared to be the favorites to win the NBA championship before the NBA suspended the season, chances are looking good the season will resume and the Lakers could be in an even better position to win it all.
To start with, the recent success shelter-in-place and social distancing have had in controlling the growth of the coronavirus pandemic has dramatically improved odds the NBA will resume rather than cancel the 2019–20 season. Right now, that’s all the Los Angeles Lakers want, a chance to continue their great season and win their seventeenth NBA championship. They were the best team before the suspension and could even be better after the layoff.
The key to the Lakers’ championship hopes is the health of their superstars, especially 35-year old LeBron James who, because of his age and mileage, could clearly benefit from a brief two to three month midseason vacation. No player in the NBA who takes better care of or makes a bigger investment in his body than LeBron James. And unlike most NBA players, he has the dedicated training staff and personal gym to remain in prime game shape.
While LeBron James has missed only three games this season, the Lakers’ other superstar Anthony Davis has missed eight games with a host of minor injuries and dings endured during the sixty-three games the Lakers played. Like James, Davis is one of the few NBA players who has a full-time personal trainer and a full court gym in his home so he can work on his game rather than just conditioning like most players who don’t have access to a gym.
The playoffs are a tough second season that could last twenty-eight games. Going into the playoffs with a healthy and rested James and Davis could be a huge difference maker that could give the Lakers a dominant advantage. While the Lakers were playing at their peak before the suspension, James and Davis could be an even more formidable superstar duo after getting a couple of months rest before embarking on the grueling playoff schedule.
Then there’s the rest of the Lakers’ veteran roster, many of whom are also nursing or trying to recover from nagging injuries, including Avery Bradley, Danny Green, Kyle Kuzma, Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, and Alex Caruso. Having them healthy and rested could be the key to the Lakers’ playoff run. Just as important could be giving recently signed free agent Dion Waiters time to get in game shape to be the Lakers’ wild card once play resumes.
While the last thing the Lakers would have wanted was a delay right after dominating the Bucks and Clippers, the opportunity to get everybody fully healthy and rested could improve their chances of winning a championship.
Silver Lining 2: Lakers’ long-term prospects could be even better.
The likely changes facing the NBA as a result of the coronavirus pandemic could actually improve the Lakers’ prospects to improve their roster next season and beyond and increase their chances of winning championships.
The biggest factor impacting the Lakers’ future prospects is the projected drop in the salary cap the next couple of seasons, which is likely to dry up free agent markets and motivate most players to stay with current teams. Specifically, that eliminates the slim possibility Davis exercises his option and leaves the Lakers in free agency end of this season. As an eight year vet, he probably signs a two-year deal with LA to become supermax eligible.
The Lakers also have four role players who have options to become free agents this offseason, including three who possessed de facto no-trade clauses that limited the Lakers’ ability to pull off a major trade this winter. With the limited free agent market, there’s a good chance Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Avery Bradley, JaVale McGee, and Rajon Rondo will all opt to decline their player options and remain with the Lakers for next season.
Winning the 2019–20 championship, locking up Anthony Davis for the next two years, and having most of their free agents decline their player options should put the Lakers in an enviable position heading into the offseason. They’ll have Kyle Kuzma, their 2020 first round draft pick, and over $20 million in expiring contracts as trading chips to go after a second playmaker and third scorer to complement LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Since the Lakers will be over the cap at the end of the season, they will also have their full MLE or Mid-Level Exception worth over $9 million to use to help fill some of the holes in the roster they were unable to fill last winter. The result is the Lakers should have the ability via free agency or trade to make major upgrades to their roster that should make them an even stronger team than the one favored to win the championship this season.
Looking even further down the road, the big question remaining is how the reduced salary cap over the next couple of years is going to affect superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo’s decision to remain with the Milwaukee Bucks. The lower salary cap is likely to make it even more difficult for the Lakers to create the cap space to pursue Antetokounmpo as well make it more likely Giannis decides to sign a supermax extension to stay with the Bucks.
In a way, that could be a blessing in disguise as it could force the Lakers to focus on improving their supporting cast behind LeBron and AD rather than once again futilely pursuing and failing to land that elusive third superstar.
As I said at the start of this article, sometimes it takes adversity to unleash greatness. The coronavirus pandemic and the resultant suspension of the 2019–20 NBA season clearly portend a brand new normal for the league. While the games are likely to resume, there is no doubt it will be without live fans in the stands but sometimes people don’t know what they will miss until they actually find themselves in a situation where they lose something.
As basketball junkies, we became complacent and took the game and how important it was for our lives for granted. Being finally able to watch games again will be something I think we as fans are going to greatly appreciate. Being able to play games again is something I think NBA players are also going to greatly appreciate. I wouldn’t be surprised if the 2019–20 NBA playoffs are one one of the greatest playoffs in the history of the game.
I also think LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the entire Los Angeles Lakers team is going to be so appreciative of the opportunity to finish the season that we’re going to see them win their seventeenth NBA championship.
While we’re still a month or two away from a decision, there are optimistic signs public health measures like shelter-in-place and social distancing may have given the NBA hope they may be able to resume the 2 […]
While we’re still a month or two away from a decision, there are optimistic signs public health measures like shelter-in-place and social distancing may have given the NBA hope they may be able to resume the 2019–20 season.
While we’re not out of the woods yet and are are surely facing a new normal until we have a vaccine to protect people, there are reasons to believe we’ve been able to flatten the curve and avoid the original dystopian predictions. With shelter-in-place and social distancing lowering projected infections and deaths, the time’s come to begin making realistic plans how to fight our way out of this pandemic, restart our economy, and win back our lives.
Whether we’re talking about employees going back to work, kids going back to school, or people returning to restaurants, theaters, or sporting events, we’re probably talking about a long, slowly evolving, multiple year process. Social distancing is likely to remain with seating in bars and restaurants and number of customers allowed in stores and shops limited accordingly. In fact, it could be years before we see large crowds at sporting events again.
However, the encouraging signs we’ve flattened the coronavirus curve and urgency by state and federal governments to get the country started on the road to recovery bode well for professional sports leagues to resume play. Even leading public health experts like the esteemed Dr. Anthony Fauci have chimed in that playing games without fans is how professional sports leagues could help the country get started adjusting to the new normal.
So what do the prospects for the NBA resuming the 2019–20 season look like right now? To begin, we’re still probably at least a month away from having enough data from which to make a decision to resume the season. The good news, however, is some of the parameters that will determine whether and how the season could be resumed are starting to take shape as the NBA and the players’ association continue to explore possible options.
First, considering most players have not had access to facilities to maintain conditioning, the biggest non-coronavirus concern is determining how much time players will need to get back into shape to safely play games. There now appears to be a league-wide consensus that players will need at least 25 days to get ready to play games to avoid risking major injuries, 11 days of individual workouts followed by 14 days of full team workouts.
Second, there also seems to be a consensus the league needs to complete the season by having all teams play at least 70 games, that being the magic number guaranteed by the NBA to its national and local television partners. Right now, most teams have played 64 to 66 games with the Lakers’ 63 being the least and the Mavs’ and Hawks’ 67 being the most, which means NBA teams needing to play between 3 to 7 more games to reach 70 games.
Third, because there’s no way the games are going to be played before live crowds, there’s a consensus remaining regular season and playoff games will have to be played at a central location like Las Vegas or the Bahama. Limiting games to a central venue is realistically the only way to reduce travel time and enable controlled isolation and testing of players and possibly their families to insure nobody gets infected or spreads the virus.
Fourth, because the NBA, like every pro sports league, is going to face major financial challenges getting live fans to return to arenas, their new normal is going to have to become maximizing television and streaming revenues. That means making sure they generate as much broadcasting revenue as possible once they resume the regular season, which means the league will likely stick with the traditional best of seven format for the NBA playoffs.
While we still have a long way to go and testing and treatment challenges to win the war against the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important for our mental health and wellness to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Whether it’s being able to safely go for a run, meet friends for dinner, go back to work, school, or shopping, or just watch the Lakers play the Bucks in the NBA Finals, we desperately need be able to return to that new normal.
For the first time in a long and arduous six to eight weeks of dread and dismay, there are signs we’ve turned the corner and may finally be able to envision our hopes and prayers being answered and better days coming.
The Los Angeles Lakers’ top priority for next season is a proven point guard who can fill their need for a second playmaker to backup LeBron James and a third shotmaker to complement the scoring of James and D […]
The Los Angeles Lakers’ top priority for next season is a proven point guard who can fill their need for a second playmaker to backup LeBron James and a third shotmaker to complement the scoring of James and Davis.
There have been numerous veteran point guards discussed as potential solutions for the Lakers, including Goran Dragic, Derrick Rose, Mike Conley, Jeff Teague, and Darren Collison, but these are all short-term solutions. Frankly, with Kyle Kuzma and their 2020 first round draft pick as their only viable trading chips, the Lakers would be smart to focus on acquiring a proven younger point guard who could grow and develop with the team.
With the Lakers in a win-now situation, they need a point guard who’s shown he can create shots for himself and teammates, which eliminates drafting a college player or opting for a young inexperienced point guard. With the China controversy and coronavirus pandemic reducing the salary cap and causing players to decline player options, the Lakers will also not be likely to fill their needs for a proven young point guard in free agency.
That leaves trading as the only option for the Lakers to acquire a qualified point guard. Between Kyle Kuzma, their 2020 first round draft pick, and $20 million in expiring contracts, they have more trade assets than last year. While that wouldn’t be enough to trade for an elite point guard like Damian Lillard or Jrue Holiday, it should be enough to find a young point guard who’s played a few years to prove his worth but still has untapped upside.
Ideally, the Lakers should target a point guard no older than twenty-six, who earns less than $20 million per year, averages at least 12.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game, and shoots better than 38% from deep. When you search NBA.com stats for players who fit these criteria, the search comes up with just four candidates: the Pelicans’ Lonzo Ball, Raptors’ Fred VanVleet, Hornets’ Terry Rozier, and Thunder’s Dennis Schroeder.
So let’s take a closer look at each of these four candidates to see how they would fit on the current Lakers’ roster, why their current team might be willing to trade them, and what the Lakers could offer to complete a trade:
1. Lonzo Ball
The Lakers trading to get Lonzo Ball back is a long shot but he would be an excellent fit for the Lakers roster, especially since he is younger, would cost less, and is a better playmaker and rebounder than the other candidates. While Lonzo’s improved his three-point shooting, he’s still a poor pick-and-roll facilitator and atrocious free throw shooter. With Jrue Holiday on the roster and Brandon Ingram in line to get paid, Lonzo could be expendable.
The Pelicans originally tried to get the Lakers to include Kyle Kuzma in the Anthony Davis trade so a package of Kyle Kuzma, JaVale McGee, and Quinn Cook could be tempting enough for the Pelicans to agree to trade Lonzo. While Ball would need to improve his pick-and-roll playmaking and free throw shooting, the trade could give the Lakers a 22-year old who could belatedly become the two-way star they envisioned when drafting him.
2. Fred VanVleet
Fred VanVleet would be a perfect fit on the Lakers and would fill their need for a second elite playmaker and third clutch shotmaker who’s proven his championship caliber ability and leadership at the highest possible level. With Lowry still playing at an elite level, Siakam in line for a big payday, and the team hoarding salary cap to pursue Giannis the summer of 2021, the Raptors may be unwilling to give Fred VanVleet the big raise he deserves.
The Lakers would likely need to give VanVleet $20 million per year and offer the Raptors a sign-and-trade package involving Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green, and Quinn Cook, plus their first round pick to trade for Fred. However, the 26-year old VanVleet would give the Lakers the playmaker they need when LeBron is not on the court and the proven third shotmaker they need to complement superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
3. Terry Rozier
Acquired by the Hornets in a sign-and-trade deal for Kemba Walker last summer, Terry Rozier is another talented young point guard who could fill the Lakers’ need for a proven second playmaker and consistent third scorer. With the Hornets in flux and rookie Devonte’ Graham taking over Kemba Walker’s starting point guard role, the 26-year old Rozier’s name continues to come up in trade rumors and he may not be in Charlotte’s future plans.
More of a shoot-first point guard who needs the ball in his hands to be effective, a package built around Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green, and Quinn Cook could be enough to convince the Hornets to trade Rozier to the Lakers. While he would not get the touches and shots he did with the Hornets, Terry has more elite offensive ability and upside to develop into a top tier NBA scorer than any of the four candidates and could be a great fit on the Lakers.
4. Dennis Schroeder
Of all four candidates, Dennis Schroeder may be the best option for the Lakers for an talented young point guard who could fill their playmaking and scoring requirements and be acquired via trade with available assets. With veteran point guard Chris Paul starting and star shooting guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander capable of playing the point, Schroeder could be available for trade and be the perfect target for the Lakers to pursue.
The Lakers would likely need to offer a package that includes Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Quinn Cook, plus their first round draft pick to interest the Thunder in trading point guard Dennis Schroeder to them. Just 26-years old, Schroeder could be the perfect point guard for the Lakers as he could run the offense when LeBron sits and become the consistent 20-points per game scorer to complement LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
While nobody knows yet if the season will be resumed or cancelled or if the Lakers will get the chance to win their seventeenth championship, they’ll still have an excellent opportunity to be an even better team next season. Trading for a talented young point guard like Lonzo Ball, Fred VanVleet, Terry Rozier, or Dennis Schroeder would make the Los Angeles Lakers even more formidable and should be their number one goal this offseason.
As our country prepares to endure a coronavirus pandemic likely to kill more Americans than we lost in any war in our history, it becomes harder and harder to imagine a return to a normal anything like we had […]
As our country prepares to endure a coronavirus pandemic likely to kill more Americans than we lost in any war in our history, it becomes harder and harder to imagine a return to a normal anything like we had before.
Maybe it’s an overreaction but the emotional and economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our country and the world is going to change life as we have known it into something dramatically different going forward. Less fortunate parts of the globe could easily slide into a dystopian reality, while others could require decades to fully recover from the tragic losses of life, liberty, and opportunity this deadly plague has stolen from them.
Internationally, the planet is going to become a less bountiful and less trustworthy world. Rather than embracing globalization and globalism, we’re more likely to see a resurgence in nationalism and isolationism. Interpersonally, we may see similar traits among individuals, a distrust and fear of large crowds, an increased tendency to relate digitally rather than personally, a new social order that changes how we interact with others.
We’re already seeing major changes that may be previews of what’s to come. Can anybody doubt retail stores, movie theaters, and sporting events are going lose the wars with their online versions even faster going forward? Buying groceries, eating out, and going to the gym have been usurped by Instacart, Doordash, and Peloton and going to work, school, or the doctor’s office replaced by telecommuting, telemedicine, and online education.
So what does that bode for professional sports and the NBA in particular? With NBA League Pass, MLB Extra Innings, NFL Sunday Ticket, and a host of live streaming options, going to the games has almost become obsolete. The extravagant cost of tickets to live games has turned the average fan into a televiewer and transformed seats in modern stadiums and arenas into exclusive luxury boxes which are capable of generating more revenue.
The idea of NBA teams playing in empty arenas due to the coronavirus pandemic could be a forbearer of games held in the not so distant future in arenas with the fans protected by glass sealed and mic’d up luxury suites. Teams could even staff arenas with team avatars, professional fans whose jobs would be to replicate the feeling and intensity of a live crowd for the benefit of the luxury box audience and millions of remote viewers.
It’s a future where people bunkered down in their homes have avatars run their errands, do their shopping, and deliver their meals while technology let’s them remotely do their jobs, access healthcare, and connect socially. Future sports fans may want to avoid the exorbitant cost and infection risk of attending games in person and instead opt to experience the excitement of being there live by using advanced forms of virtual reality technology.
In the end, who wants to spend hours in traffic, hundreds of dollars for a ticket, and risk getting infected when they can watch a game at home with virtual reality letting them sit next to Jack Nicholson in a front row seat?
With America on the verge of becoming the international epicenter for the coronavirus pandemic, it almost seems disrespectful to discuss whether the league should even consider resuming the 2020 NBA season and […]
With America on the verge of becoming the international epicenter for the coronavirus pandemic, it almost seems disrespectful to discuss whether the league should even consider resuming the 2020 NBA season and playoffs.
But just as winning the battle against Covid-19 will ultimately depend on smart government planning and execution, the future of the NBA as a thriving professional sport could well depend on the strategies they adopt.
While they may have no choice but to cancel the 2020 season, the NBA still has a responsibility to the players, employees, and fans who depend on the league to consider their options to resume the season and the playoffs.
Hopefully, we’ll eventually defeat the coronavirus, stay-in-place restrictions will be lifted, businesses will reopen, people will go back to work, and life will slowly return to a new normal. While the pandemic may linger, chances are much of the population will have contracted and become immune to the virus, enhanced and expanded testing will enable us to control the spread, and there will be a concerted worldwide effort to restart our economies.
To be ready when that happens, here are the five critical questions the NBA must answer before they can resume the 2020 season and playoffs:
1. Why Finish the Season?
The announcement that Rudy Gobert had tested positive for coronavirus and the quick decision to suspend the 2019–20 NBA season were in many ways the first shots fired in the worldwide war to contain this pandemic. When the worst is over and America has dodged an apocalyptic event, the NBA could once again be the leader in showing the world how to move on and help return us to some form on normalcy by continuing the season.
While the games would likely not be in front of fans and the thousands of workers whose livelihoods depend on the NBA would not be able to go back to work, finishing the season could be a cathartic first step to recovery.
2. When Would Play Resume?
The next two months will probably give us a good indication of how deadly and how long this pandemic will last. Because the virus is so contagious, we should see the apex of the curve for infections and deaths the next 30 days. That’s assuming the stay-in-place restrictions that now cover over two hundred million Americans work as hoped and our government is able to catch up with the need for enhanced and expanded testing for the virus.
Should the above scenario begin to materialize, the NBA could then start to lay out plans to resume the season sometime in mid to late June, with an abbreviated regular season and playoffs culminating in the NBA Finals.
3. How to Keep Players Safe?
The challenge the league faces if they want to resume the season in mid to late June is making sure every player is free of the coronavirus when the season resumes. That can only be accomplished via extensive repetitive testing and strictly enforced quarantine of players to prevent new infections. Since several players have already tested positive, those players are going to have to be proven to be free of the virus before being allowed to participate.
To resume the season in mid to late June means players will need to be tested and coronavirus free at the end of May and then quarantined until the season and playoffs are over to eliminate the risk of contamination.
4. How to Compress Season?
If quarantining players is the only way to keeping them safe, then the league needs to reduce the number of games left in the regular season and the playoffs. Finishing the regular season would require a month and the full playoffs two months. There’s no way the league could quarantine players for three months, even if they were to include their families. Realistically, the league needs to compress the season and playoffs to less than a month.
The NBA should cut the regular season to a few games to get teams in shape and then run a single elimination tournament to find two teams to meet the Lakers and Bucks in the Conference Finals, followed by the NBA Finals.
5. Where to Play the Games?
By playing the the rest of the season and playoffs in a single venue like Las Vegas, the NBA can reduce travel time, simplify quarantining players, and compress the schedule and finish the 2020 season in less than a month. There’s simply no way to accomplish this in multiple venues. The complex logistics of quarantining players and their families for almost a month to ensure no players get infected will be challenging even in a single city.
The games would of course be played in empty arenas without fans but at least they would be played and Conference and Finals champions crowned. Right now, that’s the best we can hope for as Lakers and NBA fans.
The retired jerseys hanging from the rafters of Staples Center tell the story. The Los Angeles Lakers, via smart drafts, savvy trades, and free agency wins have managed to acquire more superstars than any other […]
The retired jerseys hanging from the rafters of Staples Center tell the story. The Los Angeles Lakers, via smart drafts, savvy trades, and free agency wins have managed to acquire more superstars than any other NBA franchise.
While the Lakers do have advantages over many franchises like great weather and the second biggest market in the nation, the reason so many NBA superstars want to play for them is the legendary history they’ve built. Lakers’ exceptionalism is why superstars like Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis all wanted to play for the Lakers as much as the lure of sunshine and the glitter of Hollywood.
While there are always honest differences of opinion as to which NBA players were superstars, there’s no question the Lakers have had the most superstars. My personal list classifies eleven Lakers players as superstars. The list starts with George Mikan and includes Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis.
Since LeBron James and Anthony Davis are still playing, their jerseys are not yet retired. I also did not include Gail Goodrich or Jamaal Wilkes, two legendary Lakers with retired jerseys whom I did not classify as superstars. You can divide the Lakers superstars into five distinct eras: the Mikan era, the Baylor, West, and Chamberlain era, the Abdul-Jabbar, Johnson, and Worthy era, the Bryant and O’Neal era, and the James and Davis era.
So journey with me to see how the Lakers were able to acquire these eleven superstars and how they contributed to the franchise winning sixteen NBA championships with the possibility of winning more titles in the future.
1. The George Mikan (Draft) Era.
The story begins back in 1947 when Ben Berger and Morris Chalfen bought the disbanded Detroit Gems and moved them to Minneapolis. While the Gems had no players under contract, they had the top pick in the NBL draft. That’s when the Lakers’ acquisition of superstars began as they used that pick for future Hall of Fame center George Mikan, who became the first on the long list of legendary superstars who would wear a Lakers’ jersey.
After playing in and winning the NBL championship in 1948, Mikan and the Lakers joined the BAA , which ultimately merged with the NBL and became the NBA, and won the first of their sixteen NBA championships in 1949. Mikan then led the Lakers to their second NBA championship in 1950 and three more titles from 1952 through 1954 to create the NBA’s first dynasty and bring the total number of purple and gold NBA championships to five.
The NBA game was in its infancy during the George Mikan era. There were no big television contracts and players were paid so little they had day jobs. After the Lakers lost a game 19–18, the NBA introduced the shot clock. Mikan was the prototype for NBA centers for several decades, leading the league in scoring six straight years and helping win five of the Lakers’ sixteen championships. Yet his jersey still does not hang in Staples Center.
While the Lakers include the five titles won in Minneapolis in their sixteen championships, they only hung one banner in Staples to commemorate the five Minneapolis titles and one banner to honor five Minneapolis players.
2. The Baylor (Draft), West (Draft), and Chamberlain (Trade) Era.
Injuries forced George Mikan to retire in 1954 and the Lakers floundered over the next four years, only making the playoffs once, falling to last place in the league only to be fortuitously awarded the top pick in 1958 draft. Once again, the Lakers struck superstar gold, picking Elgin Baylor, who won NBA Rookie of the Year and led the Lakers to the NBA Finals, where they suffered the first of a long litany of losses to the hated Boston Celtics.
After struggling the next two years, new Lakers’ owner Bob Short moved the Lakers to Los Angeles in 1960 where they struck superstar gold in the NBA draft for the third time, choosing Jerry West with the second pick. Over the next ten years, the superstar duo of Elgin Baylor and Jerry West led the Lakers to the NBA Finals seven times, only to lose every time, including six times to Bill Russell and their nemesis Boston Celtics.
Frustrated by not being able to beat the Celtics, then owner Jack Kent Cooke made the first of what would be a recurring series of blockbuster trades for superstar centers to transform Lakers teams into championship contenders. Before the 1969 season, Cooke traded for a disgruntled Wilt Chamberlain, who’d beaten the Celtics and led the 76ers to their first NBA championship in 1967 and basically forced Philadelphia to trade him to the Lakers.
The combination of West, Baylor, and Chamberlain would lead the Lakers to the best record in the league and make them the odds-on favorites to win the 1969 NBA championship, only once again to lose Game 7 to the Celtics. Lakers fans will never forget the tipped ball as the shot clock expired going straight to the Celtic’s Don Nelson, whose 15 foot jumper kicked high off the back rim 6 feet straight in the air before dropping down through the net.
The second year of the West, Baylor, and Chamberlain superstar trio also ended with a devastating loss as the Lakers lost to the Knicks in the 1970 Finals in one of the most dramatic games in the entire history of the NBA. This was the series where Jerry West sank at 63 foot shot at the buzzer to send Game 3 into overtime and become the first player on the losing team to win NBA Finals MVP before an inured Willis Reed saved the Knicks.
After Baylor retired nine games into the season, the 1972 Lakers set a record for the longest winning streak in NBA history at thirty-three games and then beat the Knicks for their first championship in Los Angeles and sixth overall. It was a season of revenge and redemption for the Lakers and their two superstars as the beleaguered Wilt Chamberlain led the league in field goal percentage and rebounds and frustrated Jerry West led the NBA in assists.
I remember listening to Chick Hearn on the radio during the thirty-three game winning streak like it was yesterday. Wilt Chamberlain had been my favorite NBA player and the reason I had finally become a Lakers fan.
3. The Abdul-Jabbar (Trade), Johnson (Draft), and Worthy (Draft) Era.
After losing to the Knicks in the Finals in 1973, Wilt Chamberlain retired and Jerry West did the same the following year, leaving the Los Angeles Lakers without a superstar to continue their quest for NBA championships. But once again a familiar story Lakers’ fans had heard before and would hear again emerged as superstar center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar announced he wanted the Milwaukee Bucks to trade him to the Los Angeles Lakers.
While the Lakers’ 1975 trade for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar gave the franchise their fourth legitimate superstar, they were not able to win a championship and Jack Kent Cooke eventually sold the team to Dr. Jerry Buss in 1979. Much like when Ben Berger and Morris Chalfen bought the Detroit Gems in 1947, Dr. Buss took over a team that fortuitously owned the top pick in the 1979 NBA draft, which the Lakers used to pick Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson.
The rest you could say is history as the Showtime Lakers picked up a third superstar in James Worthy via a trade for the top pick in the 1982 draft and won five more NBA championship in 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, and 1988. The legendary battles between Magic Johnson and Lakers and Larry Bird and the Celtics in the 80’s were likely responsible for saving a failing NBA and transforming it into the juggernaut professional sport it is today.
With a legacy of seven superstars and eleven NBA championship under their belt, the Los Angeles Lakers’ next twelve years was the franchise’s longest drought as they struggled to find a new superstar and failed to win a title. After Magic and Byron went down with hamstring injuries and the Lakers lost to the Pistons in the 1989 Finals, Kareem retired. Then in 1991, Magic announced he had the HIV virus and the Michael Jordan era began.
The Showtime Lakers with Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and James Worthy won the hearts and souls of casual Southern California basketball fans and transformed them into diehard lifelong Lakers fans.
4. The Bryant (Trade) and O’Neal (Free Agency) Era.
The seeds for the Lakers resurrection from the turmoils of the 90’s were planted in 1996 when general manager Jerry West orchestrated one of the best offseasons in NBA history by acquiring the Lakers’ next superstar duo. First, West traded center Vlade Divac to the Charlotte Hornets for 17-year old Kobe Bryant and then followed that by signing free agent All-Star center Shaquille O’Neal to restock the Lakers with a new duo of superstars.
It took Jerry West three years to build an elite roster around Kobe and Shaq and hire the right head coach in Phil Jackson before the Lakers were ready to be champions and win three straight NBA titles in 2000, 2001, and 2002. Jackson’s hiring proved to be the catalyst needed to get Bryant and O’Neal to set aside their personal rivalry and conflicts and merge their talents to play the dominant basketball needed to be able to accomplish a threepeat.
The Lakers would struggle the next few years, losing to the Spurs in the West Finals in 2003 and then to the Pistons in the 2004 Finals, after which the Lakers basically imploded. The Kobe and Shaq feud blew up completely. Phil Jackson left as head coach and was replaced with Rudy Tomjanovich. Shaquille O’Neal demanded and was traded to the Miami Heat. And Kobe Bryant signed with the Lakers after almost signing with the Clippers.
The Shaq trade was a crushing blow for Lakers fans who had been forced to take sides because of the feud and felt betrayed by Shaq demanding the trade. This was the first time in history the Lakers traded away a superstar. Fortunately, Kobe Bryant was not done winning championships. After going into solo scoring mode for five years, including a memorable 81-point performance against the Toronto Raptors, help was finally on the way.
After budding star center Andrew Bynum went down with a major injury, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak pulled off a blockbuster trade with the Memphis Grizzlies for Pau Gasol in February 2008 that resuscitated the Lakers hopes. With Phil Jackson back as head coach and Kobe Bryant enjoying an MVP season, the Lakers once again made the Finals, only to lose again to the Boston Celtics, this time with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen.
But Lakers championship time had returned. With a towering front court of Gasol and Bynum and Kobe Bryant playing the best basketball of his career, the Lakers bounced back to win the NBA championship in 2009 and 2010. The most remarkable thing about these Lakers’ championships was they were won with Kobe Bryant being the team’s only legitimate superstar. While Gasol and Bynum were great players, they were not superstars.
The five NBA championships won by Kobe Bryant are a testament to his greatness as a superstar. Winning three championships as #8 and then, after six years, two more championships as #24 may never be matched.
5. The James (Free Agency) and Davis (Trade) Era.
Nine superstars and sixteen championships later and after another six year title hiatus , the Los Angeles Lakers have reloaded their roster with 35-year old superstar LeBron James and 26-year old superstar Anthony Davis. Unfortunately, the Lakers’ pursuit of their seventeenth championship is currently on hold and may be derailed due to the current suspension of the 2020 NBA season because of the Coronavirus pandemic in America.
Despite an MVP caliber season by LeBron James and a potential DPOY season by Anthony Davis, the Lakers find themselves unable to control their future after sweeping their main two competitors the last weekend of play. Now sitting atop most of the major NBA power rankings, the Lakers are hoping the government will be able to get the pandemic under control so the NBA will resume the season and they’ll be able to win another title.
The problem for the Lakers is the ticking clock on how long 35-year old LeBron James can continue to hold Father Time abey and the looming free agency this summer of Anthony Davis, whom they traded for last summer. The Lakers had counted on winning the NBA championship this summer to convince Anthony Davis to re-sign with the team. While that likely will still happen, the Lakers know their championship window is slowly closing.
That’s why a lost season is the last thing the Lakers want to endure but the situation is now completely out of their hands. The best they can hope for now is for the suspended season to resume after a couple of month’s delay. Unfortunately for the Lakers, any advantage they might have had before the season was suspended will likely be wiped out by a two month’s delay and resuming the season and the playoffs will likely be a brand new ball game.
Right now, the Lakers would gladly take that as the outcome. There’s not a better superstar duo in the league than LeBron James and Anthony Davis and the Lakers would like nothing better than a chance to prove that.
So what’s the final tally for how the Lakers acquired their eleven superstars? Five were acquired via the NBA draft: George Mikan, Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Magic Johnson, and James Worthy. Four were obtained via trades: Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant, and Anthony Davis. Two were signed via free agency: Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James. Over 73 years, the Lakers’ eleven superstars won sixteen NBA championships.
But the Lakers are not done winning NBA championships or acquiring superstar players. They’re already eyeing potential replacements for 35-year old LeBron James with their sights on the Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo. That may turn out to be a long shot, especially with the future of this season and next almost impossible to predict because of the current Coronavirus pandemic but history tells us it would be foolish to count out the Lakers.
One thing that’s been proven year after year is winning championships in the NBA requires a roster with at least one and preferably two superstars. Acquiring superstars is clearly an art the Los Angeles Lakers have mastered.
While it’s not a subject Lakers fans want to contemplate, there’s potentially a strong chance the 2020 NBA season may end up getting canceled if the United States cannot quickly control the expanding cor […]
While it’s not a subject Lakers fans want to contemplate, there’s potentially a strong chance the 2020 NBA season may end up getting canceled if the United States cannot quickly control the expanding coronovirus pandemic.
In a season already thrown in turmoil by the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, the last thing the Lakers want to happen would be the NBA deciding to turn the current season suspension into a championship killing cancellation. Despite clawing their way to the top of the league’s power rankings, the Lakers’ opportunity to prove they’re the best team in the league and tie the Celtics with their seventeen NBA championship may be out of their control.
So while we wait to see what happens with the Lakers’ 2020 season, let’s peer into the future and look at the opportunities and obstacles that will confront the Lakers as they try to build a championship contender for 2021. That’s something VP of Baseketball Operations Rob Pelinka and the Lakers front office staff will be looking at closely, especially since a cancellation of the season could throw the team’s salary cap situaion into complete chaos.
Two major factors will influence the makeup of the Lakers roster for 2021. The first is the potential 10% to 15% projected decrease in the NBA salary cap for next season because of lost revenue should this season be cancelled. The second is the ripple effect the lower salary cap would have on free agency, especially from players who have to decide whether to exercise or decline player options on contracts to become free agents next summer.
The Lakers’ repected beat writer and noted capologist Eric Pincus estimated the cancellation of the 2020 NBA season due to the coronavirus pandemic could result in a huge drop of $10 to $15 million in the salary cap for 2021. That could mean that the salary cap for next season could end up being $100 to $105 million instead of the projected $115 million the Lakers and NBA teams have assumed in making their financial plans for next season.
The lower salary cap has even greater implications for the 2022 season when the Lakers allegedly plan to pursue superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo should he opt not to sign a supermax extension with the Milwaukee Bucks. The Lakers were counting on projected large increases in the salary cap over the next two years giving them enough cap space to sign a third superstar to complement James and Davis and ultimately replace James when he retires.
A large drop in the salary cap could not only make it harder for the Lakers to create the cap space for a third superstar but also motivate Antetokounmpo to opt to stay with the Bucks who can offer him more money and security. Realistically, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic will likely cause NBA players as well as the general public to reevaluate their priorities and place a grater value on security going forward than they did before these events.
The coronavirus pandemic will also likely exacerbate what was projected to be a tough next summer for free agents with only a few teams projected to have cap space, making it not a good time for players to become free agents. For the Lakers, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Avery Bradley, Rajon Rondo, and JaVale McGee are likely to decline player options on the second years of their contracts and stay with the Lakers rather than risking free agency.
The decrease in the salary cap probably also guarantees Anthony Davis will remain, likely signing a two year deal with the Lakers with a second year option so he could qualify for a supermax extension the summer of 2022. The limited free agent opportunities next summer also likely results in DeMarcus Cousins and Dwight Howard deciding to stay and signing new contracts with the Lakers close to what they were earning this season.
So where does that leave the Lakers’ roster for 2021 should the coronavirus pandemic result in the NBA cancelling this season and the favored Lakers losing a golden opporunity to win their seventeenth NBA championship? There’s no doubt the 2021 Lakers will look a lot like the 2020 Lakers. As a team, they will be highly motivated to take care of unfinished business and win the NBA championship the coronavirus pandemic stole from them.
The 2021 Lakers will have five returning players under contract in LeBron James, Danny Green, Alex Caruso, Kyle Kuzma, and Talen Horton-Tucker. They also have five players likely to decline player options or sign new deals in Anthony Davis, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Avery Bradley, JaVale McGee, and Rajon Rondo, plus two players likely to sign new contracts in DeMarcus Cousins and Dwight Howard, bringing the roster total to twelve players.
Since Cousins was waived this season, that leaves four players unaccounted for from the current roster: Quinn Cook who has a team option, and Jared Dudley, Markieff Morris, and Dion Waiters, who would become free agents. Additionally, the Lakers would have two players on two-way contracts in Kostas Antetokounmpo and Devontae Cacok, both of whom have played almost all their time this year in the G-League with the South Bay Lakers.
While Morris and Waiters could be candidates for one of the remaining three roster spots, the Lakers will be aggressively looking next summer to fill their need for a second playmaker, third scorer, and elite wing defender. While they won’t have open cap space, the Lakers will have their $9 million full MLE and their first round pick, plus Kyle Kuzma and seven players with tradeable expiring contracts worth $40 million to upgrade their roster.
That should give the Lakers the ammunition they need to acquire the second playmaker, third scorer, and wing defender to complement LeBron and AD and fill their roster holes and make them a formidable favorite. With no cap space and limited prospects in the free agent market, the Lakers are more likely to look to the trade market to fill the holes in their roster, with a package built around Kyle Kuzma and their first round pick as bait.
While a Kuzma and first round package wouldn’t be enough to bring back a true superstar, it might be enough with to interest a team like the Chicago Bulls to trade combo guard Zach LaVine, who would be a great fit for LA. Another prominent target the Lakers could pursue would be Nets’ combo guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who like LaVine could fill the team’s need for a second playmaker and third scorer and be a great fit with LeBron and AD.
Imagine a Lakers’ starting lineup with Avery Bradley, Zach LaVine or Spencer Dinwiddie, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and DeMarcus Cousins with a deep and talented bench with some combination of Alex Caruso, Danny Green, Rajon Rondo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Dion Waiters, Markieff Morris, Javale McGee, Dwight Howard, and Talen Horton-Tucker. That would be a deeper and more talented roster than the 2020 Lakers.
Hopefully, the United States government will be able to get the coronavirus pendemic under control and the NBA and the players will be able to work out a plan to complete the 2020 season with or without fans at the games. That would be wonderful news for the Lakers and the country as it would confirm the devastation expected by the coronavirus pandemic had been miraculously avoided and the Lakers chances to win a championship saved.
Whether that happens or not, the Lakers should be in great position to roll out an even stronger team next season with a healthy DeMarcus Cousins and a deeper, more diverse and talented roster than the current season.
Tonight’s battle between the 53–9 Milwaukee Bucks and the 47–13 Los Angeles Lakers will be a showdown between the two teams with the best records in the league and a likely preview of this summer’s NBA Finals. […]
Tonight’s battle between the 53–9 Milwaukee Bucks and the 47–13 Los Angeles Lakers will be a showdown between the two teams with the best records in the league and a likely preview of this summer’s NBA Finals.
With the game at Staples Center in Los Angeles, the Lakers will be looking to avenge their earlier 111–104 loss to the Bucks in Milwaukee back in December 2019 and even the series between the teams at one game each. The game will not only pit the Lakers and Bucks in a battle to gain an advantage should they meet in the Finals but could also determine whether LeBron James or Giannis Antetokounmpo win league MVP honors.
There is no question the Lakers and Bucks rematch is the biggest game of the season. The Lakers and the Bucks both need to win this game and the outcome will dominate expectations as both teams head into the playoffs.
The Lakers don’t want to go into the Finals having lost to the Bucks twice including at home in the most recent game and the Bucks don’t want to go into the playoffs having lost their most recent matchup with the Lakers.
Keeping in mind what happened during the teams’ matchup in December 2019, here are the five things the Lakers need to do to win tonight:
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