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    The Los Angeles Lakers could have a unique opportunity to steal a top free agent this offseason due to a perfect storm of events that could give several elite players leverage to force their teams to make […]

    Four Top NBA Free Agents the Lakers Could Steal with Sign-&-Trade Deals!

    The Los Angeles Lakers could have a unique opportunity to steal a top free agent this offseason due to a perfect storm of events that could give several elite players leverage to force their teams to make sign-and-trade deals.

    The key events unlocking this opportunity for the Lakers teams are the presence of teams unwilling to reward their free agents and the absence of winning teams with the cap space to sign them as unrestricted free agents. The only way for these free agents to get paid what they’re worth and end up playing for a winning team is to use the threat of signing as free agents to force their teams to sign-and-trade them to avoid losing them for nothing.

    Because all of these players are unrestricted free agents, there are no rules preventing the Lakers from contacting their agents and offering more than their teams would be willing to pay to set the stage for a sign-and-trade. With Kyle Kuzma’s rookie contract, $20 million in expiring contracts, and their 2020 first round pick, the Lakers have exactly what teams looking to avoid long term commitments would want to make a sign-and-trade deal.

    Here are the four top free agents the Lakers could steal with sign-and-trade deals. All four are proven young players with upside who could be valuable trading chips in a future sign-and-trade deal for an available superstar.

    1. Toronto Raptors Point Guard Fred Van Fleet

    Fred VanVleet is a 26-year old point guard who averaged 17.6 points, 6.6 assists, and 3.8 rebounds in 35.8 minutes per game for the Toronto Raptors. He earned $9.3M last year and should see that jump to $15M to $18M.

    VanVleet would fill the Lakers need for a 3rd scorer and 2nd playmaker. Lakers could offer Fred $21M per year for 3 years in a sign-and-trade for Kyle Kuzma ($2M), Danny Green ($15M), and their 2020 first round pick.

    2. Brooklyn Nets Shooting Guard Joe Harris

    Joe Harris is a 28-year old shooting guard who averaged 13.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.1 assists in 30.9 minutes per game for the Brooklyn Nets. He earned $7.7M last year and should see that jump to $12M to 15M.

    Harris is an elite 3-point shooter who’d fill the Lakers need for a 3rd scorer. Lakers could offer Joe $18M per year for 3 years in a sign and trade deal for Kyle Kuzma ($2M), Danny Green ($15M), and their 2020 first round pick.

    3. Detroit Pistons Power Forward Christian Wood

    Christian Wood is a 24-year old power forward who averaged 13.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.0 assist in 21.4 minutes per game for the Detroit Pistons. He earned $1.6M last year and that could jump to $15M to $18M.

    Wood is the biggest gamble but also has potential to be a star. The Lakers could offer Christian $20M per year for 3 years in a sign-and-trade for Kyle Kuzma ($2M), Danny Green ($15M), and their 2020 first round pick.

    4. Los Angeles Clippers Power Forward Montrezl Harrell

    Montrezl Harrell is a 26-year old power forward who averaged 18.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.7 assists in 27.8 minutes per game for the LA Clippers. He earned $6M last year and that could jump to $18M to $20M.

    Harrell is a Klutch Sports client and top candidate for 6MOY. The Lakers could offer Montrezl $22M per year for 3 years in a sign-and-trade for Kyle Kuzma ($2M), Danny Green ($15M), and their 2020 first round pick.

    The Miami Heat and perennial losing teams like the Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks, Charlotte Hornets, and Phoenix Suns are the only NBA teams with the cap space to sign a $20M free agent this offseason. That means top free agent players like Fred VanVleet, Joe Harris, Christian Wood, and Montrezl Harrell are going to have to get creative if they want to get paid and play for an NBA team with a chance to win a championship.

    While the Raptors, Nets, Pistons, and Clippers have Bird rights to sign VanVleet, Harris, Wood, and Harrell, the Pistons are the only team that is likely to offer a market value contract to their talented young free agent. That opens the door for the Lakers and other playoff teams to steal one of these young stars by offering their team the opportunity to get something back via a sign-and-trade instead of losing the player for nothing.

    With revenues plummeting due the Covid-19 pandemic and recession, the rich teams in the NBA are just going to get richer and the poor teams poorer. This offseason, the Lakers will be hungry sharks on the prowl.

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    • Sometimes, there’s a confluence of events that opens a door to great opportunities. As a lifetime believer of silver linings, this is what I think the coronavirus, economic, and racial pandemics we are going through right now could represent: an unprecedented opportunity to make substantial sustainable positive change in how our democracy and society work for all people.

      I think a similar confluence of events offers the Lakers a chance to steal a young star whom they would not normally be able to sign as a free agent or win a trade for. These are the types of situations we’ve seen in the past result in the Lakers landing a key component to their championship legacy. And it all starts with players wanting to play for the Los Angeles Lakers.

      That’s a big reason why it’s critical for the Lakers to win the championship this season because it will increase the desirability and attractiveness of the franchise for other players in the league. Guys want to get paid but they also want to win and have fun. It’s no different than you and me and every normal guy out there when they look at their job. We all want to be paid what we’re worth, be part of a successful organization, and have a fun and fulfilling job we look forward to going to every day.

      Just like Shaq, Wilt, Kareem, and Anthony Davis, players wanting to wear purple and gold has been the seed that allowed the Lakers to accumulate rosters of great players who could win championships. I don’t know whether Fred VanVleet, Joe Harris, Christian ‘wood, or Montrezl Harrell have a desire to play for the Lakers but I’ll bet, after watching LeBron and AD play, the chemistry this roster has, and seeing them win the championship once play resumes, one or more of them would be interested,

      The Lakers have a legacy of thinking big and that’s what they have to do this offseason. They need to contact the agents for each of these four players and discuss how together they could get their player paid what they are worth as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. A perfect storm of events is lining up to give the Lakers a great opportunity to upgrade their roster with a talented young star without tearing apart the roster or giving up any ambitions of signing a third proven superstar like Antetokounmpo.

      Opportunity will be knocking this offseason and the Lakers need to answer.

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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 […]

    The Future of the NBA Is On the Line. Just What is Adam Silver Going to Do?

    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.

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    • America is at a crossroads where citizens have to decide what kind of leadership and society they want. Our only hope for grace, civility, and peace to eventually win out over anger, hatred, and despair is for these tragedies to inspire and lead to a new normal for our country and our way of life. Protesting is great but voting is where you make a difference.

      Despite the hate and destruction and visions of a future where the police are more soldiers than protectors, I’ve been buoyed by scenes of protestors trying to protect businesses from being looted, shield reporters from being attacked, and stop hooligans from escalating the violence. I pray these protests will lead to positive change and not more devisiveness.

      Pro basketball is a true microcosm of our society and is facing challenges with the coronavirus pandemic, the inevitable financial collapse accompanying it, and now the racial turmoil that’s been unleashed by the death of George Floyd and other minority victims. It’s great to see NBA players taking a stand unlike NFL players not supporting Kap.

      It’s hard to think about basketball right now but for many of us, the game has been our escape from the harsh realities of day-to-day problems life throws at us. I hope and pray things will cool down and the league will still hold its planned Thursday vote to approve Adam Silver’s plan to resume playing. There’s time to make a point and time to step back.

      It appears that Silver is going to take advantage of the opportunity before him to make major changes in the playoff scheme in hopes of making the rest of the season something that gives fans reason to be excited and optimistic about the future of the league. Everything is going change going forward with old normals leading to new normals.

      The NBA, especially under Silver’s leadership, has always been a model for how players and owners can work together to make their sport better. Let’s hope society can emulate the NBA and find solutions to problems. While we all as fans have our own points of view, I think more than anything, we just want to get back to basketball again.

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    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 […]

    Five Reasons Lakers Should Pursue Sign-&-Trade Deal for Fred VanVleet!

    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.

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    • I’ve posted numerous articles on trade candidates whom the Lakers should consider targeting this offseason but have avoided looking at Fred VanVleet because he is free agent who is projected to attract offers in the $15 to 18 million per year range which is more than the $9.7 million non-taxpayer MLE, which is likely the max we could offer to an unrestricted free agent. Instead, I’ve focused my attention of high priced superstars on losing teams who might become candidates to be dumped to cut salaries and losses in a post coronavirus pandemic economy like Zach LaVine and Bradley Beal.

      However, after a couple of writers including Lake Show Life’s Jonathan Kiernan started talking about the Lakers pursuing Fred VanVleet, I started looking at reasons why that might not be a bad idea. For one thing, VanVleet could be a better fit on the Lakers because he is not going to demand the touches and usage that a LaVine or Bradley would need. Also, he might be more attainable in a sign-and-trade than LaVine or Bradley would be in a trade because the Raptors realize they’re not going to get a superstar or raft of first round picks in return, which is exactly what the Bulls and Wizards would want for Zach or Bradley. As an undrafted 6′ 1″ combo guard, VanVleet is the typical overachiever as opposed to being the next superstar. He’s so underappreciated that the Raptors are unlikely to match a large salary for him despite the fact that he was a huge reason why Toronto won the championship. In fact, without him, despite all the injuries to the Warriors, the Raptors very likely would not have won that series.

      What make VanVleet the perfect fit on the Lakers is his ability to fit their needs without taking away valuable touches for LeBron and AD because his usage last season was 22.0% compared to LaVine’s 31.2% or Beal’s 33.8%. With that limited usage, Fred was able to produce 17.6 points, 6.6 assists, and 3.8 rebounds per game. Slot him into the Lakers’ starting lineup and you suddenly have that desperately needed third scorer and second playmaker as well as a proven championship caliber clutch player who is still only 26-years old and has improved his major stats every year. Since he is a free agent, there’s no problem with the Lakers approaching him and offering him the opportunity to play with LeBron and AD and win more championships for as much money as he would be able to get from joining a losing team like the Hawks, Pistons, Suns, or Hornets, say $20 million per year for three years.

      Toronto would be put in a tough position. They’re not going to pay Fred $20 million per year, which would guarantee they would be in the luxury tax soon as they gave Anunoby a raise to match Siakam. VanVleet could threaten to sign with one of the losing teams with cap space, which would mean the Raptors getting nothing, or Toronto could accept an offer of Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green, and our 2020 first round pick in a sign-and-trade. Suddenly, the Lakers could upgrade their starting lineup and roster for next year and add a valuable trading chip should Giannis actually become available the following summer. It would be a win-win-win deal for Fred, the Raptors, and the Lakers.

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    Tom Wong wrote a new post

    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 […]

    Why Winning Championship Is Key to the Legacies of LeBron, AD, & Lakers!

    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.

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    • When opportunity knocks, great players and teams answer. That’s how legacies are built. We all knew when the Lakers signed 35-year old LeBron James that the clock was clicking and LeBron’s and the Lakers’ championship window was not as long as the four-year contract he signed. The fact that he would be 39-years old and had a player option in the last year of that contract pretty much limited the King’s and the Lakers championship window to a maximum of three years.

      After James’ injury and failure to consummate the trade for Anthony Davis cost the Lakers the first year of that contract, it became critical to LeBron and the Lakers that they win a championship in the second year of James’ contract or risk seeing that window close as his age increased and opportunity diminished. Then, after enduring the untimely death of team icon Kobe Bryant and right when the Lakers had peaked and took over the top spot in most of the league power rankings by defeating their two nemises Bucks and Clippers back-to-back, Rudy Gobert tested positive for Covid-19 and the NBA suspended the 2019-20 season. Suddenly, it looked like the second year of James’ four-year contract might go the same way as the first year.

      But after two months of shelter-in-place and social distancing, it appears that the NBA has a good chance to resume the season in late July and finish the turbulent year with playoffs lasting until late September, meaning hopes of LeBron, AD, and the Lakers to win their 17th NBA championship is still alive. What’s become clear during the two month hiatus from games, however, is just how critical winning this championship could be the future legacies of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the Los Angeles Lakers. To put it simply, this is a must win season for LeBron, AD, and the Lakers. It’s an opportunity that almost was lost and now, that it’s back on the table, it’s an opportunity they cannot afford to miss as doing so could derail the future legacies of all of them.

      While losing could lead to future struggles to remain elite, winning the championship would unlock doors to greatness. LeBron could take a major step at changing his destiny to be recognized not only as one of the greats of the Lakers franchise but also help him surpass Michael Jordan at the GOAT. Anthony Davis could take over the lead as the NBA superstar most likely to rule the decade of the 2020’s like his teammate James ruled as the best player on the planet for the decade of the 2010’s. And the Los Angeles Lakers could not only tie but also set the stage to supplant the Boston Celtics as the NBA franchise with the most championships in the history of the league. If there’s a path to the Lakers convincing Giannis Antetokounmpo to join them as a free agent two offseasons from now, winning this season’s championship is the key that unlocks that door.

      The age old mantra of win or go home clearly applies to LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the Los Angeles Lakers this season. They’re at one of those key moments and critical turning points. Losing would put their joint legacy at risk while winning would unlock the door to greatness.

  • Who Will Take the Throne from LeBron and Rule the NBA the Next Decade?

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    • This is a pretty cool new feature on Medium designed specifically for smart phones. If you’re viewing the site on your smartphone, just click the link and you can scan through the entire series one click at a time with links to the full stories at the bottom of each page. Give it a look. It’s a great way to preview series of related articles, which we’re going to be doing more of for M…Read More

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    Tom Wong wrote a new post

    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 […]

    Who’ll Take the Throne from LeBron? Is Zion Williamson the Crown Prince?

    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.

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    • Zion Williamson is the last of my six candidates to become the best player of the 2020’s decade. Probably the most celebrated NBA rookie since LeBron James was drafted 17 years ago, Zion has a similar combination of otherworld athleticism and brutal physicality. At 280 lbs, he’s like Shaq in a power forward’s body with the handle and stroke of a shooting guard. His freakish body not only promises a level of play few in league history have been able to reach but also legitimate concern over whether he can remain healthy considering his weight and style of play.

      As we’ve discussed when reviewing Giannis, Kawhi, KD, AD, and Luka, winning honors as the best player of the decade requires three things: consistent MVP performances, great health and durability, and a handful of championship rings. For a athletic marvel like Zion, the first certainly seems possible while the second and third may become his handicaps. Despite a great rookie season, injuries prevented him from legitimately being in consideration of ROY honors. And while David Griffin has done an admirable job surrounding Zion with more talent than most #1 draft picks enjoy, the truth is winning championships may be hard to do for a small market franchise like New Orleans Pelicans.

      One of the big surprises for Zion’s rookie season was has ability to shoot the ball. In college, he shot a mediocre 33.7% from deep and a poor 64.0% from the line, raising concern over whether he would be able to shoot well enough to become a generational superstar in the NBA. To everybody’s surprise, Zion shot an amazing 46.2% from deep. Unfortunately, his poor 64.5% shooting from the line probably indicates that his elite three-point shooting may be an outlier, which further muddies the waters as to how good Zion can eventually become.

      To prevail as the best player of the 2020’s decade, Zion will probably have to dominate the second half of the decade as most young superstars have difficulty winning in their first five years in the league. The challenge is especially tough for the Pelicans as they’re in the West and have to deal with the Lakers and Clippers and a host of well-stocked playoff teams. I hope Zion can remain healthy but it could be difficult for a high flying 280 pounder who plays recklessly above the rim. But if the young talent Griffin has assembled around him develops as hoped, he will have a shot to become a transcendent superstar and compete for best player on the planet for the next decade.

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    Tom Wong wrote a new post

    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 […]

    Who’ll Take the Throne from LeBron? Can Luka Doncic Make the Big Leap?

    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.

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    • While the 21-year old Luka Doncic may lack the otherworldly athleticism of LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, or Anthony Davis, the numbers he is putting up in just his second year in the league tell an entirely different story. There may not be another young superstar who has as savvy or well rounded offensive game. He has the size of Magic Johnson, the shooting touch of Steph Curry, and the passing ability of Jason Kidd. And while he has played pro ball since he was in his teens, he is just getting started.

      His biggest hurdles may be that he does not have a legitimate co-superstar, plays for the Dallas Mavericks, and has several more athletic and flashy superstar competitors in the Western Conference. And he’s white and not an explosive athlete. The big question is how high is his ceiling and can he rack up the championship rings you need to become the best player of the 2020’s decade?

      Ignoring Luka could be a big mistake as he could develop into the next Larry Bird and surprise everybody. He is that savvy and smart of a competitor with marvelous skills. To me, he is the closest thing I’ve seen to Larry Bird to come around. There is just something about his confidence and competitiveness that reminds me of Larry. I still think he’s a long shot to be player of the decade and could end up being stuck in Dallas for his entire career.

      Of all the superstars we’ve talked about possibly joining the Lakers someday, Luka tops my list. When LeBron retires, the Lakers will need a great point guard who can do what LeBron does for AD and the perfect candidate is Luka Doncic. Luke will be in his mid 20’s when he has his first chance to become a free agent. AD would be in his early 30’s. They would be a match made in heaven in my opinion. Kind of like a reincarnation of LeBron James as far as skills and smarts.

  • How LeBron Can Differentiate Himself From MJ With Fourth Championship

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    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 […]

    Who’ll Take the Throne from LeBron? Could Anthony Davis Be Next in Line?

    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.

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    • While I am obviously biased as a Lakers fan who’s just been overwhelmingly impressed watching AD dominate at both ends of the court playing alongside LeBron, I firmly believe Anthony is the favorite to win the mantle of best player of the 2020’s decade. My three critical criteria – age, injuries, and championships – all work in Davis’ favor.

      At just 27, Anthony should be in his prime through most of this decade. While suffering minor dings, he has also not suffered any major injuries. That gives him a huge advantage over the older and more injury prone Durant and Leonard. AD could easily play through his late 30’s just like LeBron because his game is one based on skill and talent as much as otherworldly athleticism and physicality.

      Finally, championships. This is where playing for the Lakers and with LeBron becomes a huge plus. There’s a good reason 6 of ESPN’s top ten NBA superstars were Lakers and why the franchise has won 16 championships. I believe AD could win 2 or 3 rings with LeBron in the first half of the decade and chances are the Lakers will pair him with another superstar or two for the second half of the decade.

      Bottom line, if the Lakers dominate this decade, Anthony Davis will be the favorite to win take the best player of the decade crown from LeBron James for the 2020’s. His only legitimate competition could be Giannis Antetokounmpo, but only if he ends up joining AD on the Lakers.

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    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 […]

    Who’ll Take the Throne from LeBron? Can Kevin Durant Return as the King?

    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.

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    • Like we discussed, age, injury, and championships are the key to winning honors as the best player for the next decade. For KD, that means two strikes due to age and injury, which is amazing considering just a year ago there was talk he had surpassed LeBron to become the best player on the planet.

      Becoming the best player of the 2020’s decade, however, is a much more challenging accomplishment and I think KD probably has the least chance of the the three candidates we have discussed with Giannis still the favorite of the three because of age and lack of injuries while Kawhi and KD both are long shots specifically because of their age and injury history.

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    Tom Wong wrote a new post

    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 […]

    Who’ll Take the Throne from LeBron? Can Kawhi Leonard Rule 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 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.

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    • These are the first two 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. Over the next week, I will also post articles featuring Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Luka Doncic, and Zion Williamson, whom I consider the other five legitimate candidates to wear the crown as king of the 2020’s like LeBron James did for the 2010’s.

      Predicting which professional basketball superstar is going to take over the throne from LeBron and become the king of the next decade is not an easy task because the winner will not only need to be the best player in the league but will also have to win multiple MVP awards for the regular season and Finals as well as multiple NBA championships. Thus, co-stars and supporting cast with whom each superstar plays are likely to have a huge impact on how their careers progress and their chances evolve. In a way, predicting the winner must involve predicting his team’s future success.

      The challenge is made even more difficult because a decade is a long time and it’s logical to presume the winner will be a player who dominates the second half of the decade rather than the first half. Since the six candidates to take the crown from LeBron range in age from 21 to 31-years in age, the younger candidates who are still developing and have a lot more to prove and are at a disadvantage now could have an edge down the road. Long shots now, younger candidates like Luka and Zion might have a better shot at winning than older candidates like Kawhi or KD.

      What I’ve tried to do with each article is evaluate the candidate’s chances based on the above criteria. I’ve kept the articles brief in the hopes everybody will read them and hope to create some good discussion about each candidate’s advantages and disadvantages. Hope you will read, enjoy, and comment. Thanks.

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    Tom Wong wrote a new post

    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 […]

    Who’ll Take the Throne from LeBron? Is Giannis Antetokounmpo New King?

    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.

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    • 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. Over the next week, I will also post articles featuring Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Luka Doncic, and Zion Williamson, whom I consider the other five legitimate candidates to wear the crown as king of the 2020’s like LeBron James did for the 2010’s.

      Predicting which professional basketball superstar is going to take over the throne from LeBron and become the king of the next decade is not an easy task because the winner will not only need to be the best player in the league but will also have to win multiple MVP awards for the regular season and Finals as well as multiple NBA championships. Thus, co-stars and supporting cast with whom each superstar plays are likely to have a huge impact on how their careers progress and their chances evolve. In a way, predicting the winner must involve predicting his team’s future success.

      The challenge is made even more difficult because a decade is a long time and it’s logical to presume the winner will be a player who dominates the second half of the decade rather than the first half. Since the six candidates to take the crown from LeBron range in age from 21 to 31-years in age, the younger candidates who are still developing and have a lot more to prove and are at a disadvantage now could have an edge down the road. Long shots now, younger candidates like Luka and Zion might have a better shot at winning than older candidates like Kawhi or KD.

      What I’ve tried to do with each article is evaluate the candidate’s chances based on the above criteria. I’ve kept the articles brief in the hopes everybody will read them and hope to create some good discussion about each candidate’s advantages and disadvantages. Hope you will read, enjoy, and comment. Thanks.

  • 70 players who could be available whenever the offseason starts

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    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 […]

    Four Players the Lakers Could Look to Sign as Free Agents With Their MLE!

    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…

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    • I truly believe the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the NBA combined with the Miami Heat being the only winning team with any significant cap space and only a few free agents worth more than $10 million per year in a healthy market is going to make the Lakers $9.7 million MLE a powerful weapon to help us land an elite free agent like Goran Dragic, Joe Harris, Christian Wood, or Aron Baynes.

      The fact that other than the Heat, the only teams with major cap space are the Knicks, Hawks, Pistons, Suns means that quality players like Dragic, Harris, Wood, and Baynes are going to have to chose signing with a bottom dweller or taking a 1 or 2-year deal with a team like the Lakers to make $9.7 million and get an opportunity to win a championship ring. Rob Pelinka is going to be licking his chops once this season is through.

      Should the league resume the season and the Lakers win their 17th championship, elite free agents like these four are going to be competing to join the purple and gold. When times get tough, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer and that’s what we’re going to see happen in the NBA.

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