Los Angeles Lakers Rumors

Western Rumors: Randle, Nash, Stokes

August 20 at 6:10pm CDT By Cray Allred

In an interview with Mike Trudell of Lakers.com, new head coach Byron Scott gave thorough answers on the entire Lakers roster, including this year’s No. 7 pick Julius Randle. Despite the additions of Carlos Boozer and Ed Davis to Los Angeles’ frontcourt, Scott believes in Randle’s versatility and still envisions ample playing time for the rookie. “I love those attributes, being strong, big and quick for his size,” said Scott. “Julius will get plenty of chances to play a lot of minutes. We know he’s a rookie and needs to develop, and a lot of that will come in training camp and in practice. I think he’ll do just that.” Here’s more from the around the West, including more Lakers roster talk:

  • While Scott believes Kobe Bryant could play beyond the next two seasons if he wants to, he isn’t as optimistic about Steve Nash‘s longevity. “With Nash, it’s going to be interesting,” Scott said. “Steve hasn’t played a lot in the last year, and the clock is ticking. I did see him working out here a couple of days ago and he looked fantastic. He says he’s pain free for the first time in a while, and hopefully he’ll be healthy, number one, and hopefully he’ll be able to provide some things for us on the offensive end especially.”
  • Scott also thinks Wesley Johnson could earn a significant role on the team and experience a breakout year.
  • The first two years of Grizzlies rookie Jarnell Stokes‘ three-year contract are fully guaranteed, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders.

And-Ones: Monroe, Carmelo, Lakers

August 18 at 9:30pm CDT By Zach Links

New Clippers owner Steve Ballmer won fans over in his introduction earlier today, writes Eric Kelsey of Reuters.  “I think it’s going to be a great change, a positive change,” said Clippers fan Teri Renty. “It’s something we desperately needed, and it will really be great for the team in giving them the energy and the momentum to look forward to good things.”  More from around the NBA..

  • Greg Monroe is maximizing the limited leverage he has in his contract situation with the Pistons, writes Michael Lee of The Washington Post. The only leverage that Monroe possesses is to sign the team’s qualifying offer prior to the October 1st deadline, and then take control of his own destiny next year without the restrictions he faces now, notes Lee.
  • Carmelo Anthony, who re-signed with the Knicks on a lucrative deal this summer, is “sure” his team is headed to the playoffs, writes Fred Kerber of the New York Post.  Anthony went on to say that he’s happy with the moves the Knicks have made this offseason, though he declined to “get into details about that.”  He added that he hasn’t talked much with team president Phil Jackson since inking his new contract.
  • The Lakers are expected to add Jim Eyen as an assistant coach to Byron Scott‘s staff, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com (Twitter link). Eyen was most recently an assistant with the Kings.

Eddie Scarito contributed to this post.

Knicks Notes: Fisher, Cleamons, Anthony

August 18 at 7:35pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Carmelo Anthony‘s former college coach, Jim Boeheim, believes that if ‘Melo had based his free agency decision purely on basketball reasons, then the Bulls would have been a better destination than the Knicks, writes Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. Boeheim said, “Just from a basketball point of view it would have been better to go to Chicago because they’ve got better players. But he wanted to be in New York and he wants to see if they can turn it around there. I think that’s a great thing.”

Here’s more from New York:

  • Boeheim also believes that Anthony would have left if Phil Jackson hadn’t taken over as team president. Boeheim said, “I would think so. He stayed because he believes Phil. Derek Fisher, he knows the game. If you’re going to pick a coach who hasn’t coached, he would be the guy I would pick. I think he’s a great choice. I talked to Derek a little bit. I think he’s really smart. I think he’ll be a really good coach. I think they’ll show significant improvement this year. If they get a couple of guys down the road, I think they’ll be good.”
  • The Knicks are adding Jim Cleamons to Derek Fisher‘s coaching staff, reports Al Iannazzone of Newsday. Cleamons had coached Fisher during his two stints as a Lakers assistant, and will help teach the Knicks players the triangle offense, notes Iannazzone.
  • With a new head coach, and the team installing the triangle offense, it’s not clear what starting lineup the Knicks will take to the court with. In a separate article, Begley examines some of the possible combinations that New York could utilize.

Western Notes: Aldridge, Asik, Lakers

August 14 at 2:10pm CDT By Zach Links

Earlier today, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders looked at the best free agents in the 2015 class.  Among the top names potentially in the group is Blazers big man LaMarcus Aldridge.  Two seasons ago it seemed like a foregone conclusion that LaMarcus would be leaving Portland. Today it seems unlikely that he won’t be back on a new long term deal in July.  Here’s more out of the West…

  • One might think that Omer Asik has some hard feelings towards the Rockets, but he says that’s not the case at all, writes Jenny Dial Creech of the Houston Chronicle.  Asik, now with the Pelicans, was quite vocal about wanting a trade when Houston acquired big man Dwight Howard, relegating him to the bench.  “I just really want to thank all the fans and all the support I had in Houston,” he said. “I want to thank everyone in the organization and especially my teammates. I really enjoyed my time in Houston.
  • Eddie Johnson of USA Today Sports (video link) says the Lakers need to stop trying to cover up their holes with band-aids and instead make substantive changes.
  • Lakers coach Byron Scott told Mike Trudell of Lakers.com (on Twitter) that he expects to have his coaching staff filled out by the end of the week.

Toure’ Murry Close To Deal With Jazz

August 13 at 5:30pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

WEDNESDAY, 5:30pm: The Jazz are finalizing the deal with Murry, writes Stein, who adds that the Lakers were also interested in the guard’s services.

5:53pm: Murry’s agent, Bernie Lee, said the report of a pending deal with the Jazz is “news to him,” notes Jody Genessy of the Deseret News (Twitter link).

TUESDAY, 5:31pm: Toure’ Murry is close to signing a two-year, $2MM deal with the Utah Jazz, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Murry had also been pursued by the Heat, and his former team, the Knicks, notes Stein. Murry will be able to provide depth at both guard positions for the Jazz, and will compete for playing time off the bench.

Utah will most likely begin the season with Trey Burke as the starting point guard, and Alec Burks at the two guard position. No. 5 overall pick, Dante Exum, will begin his career at shooting guard, but the franchise hopes he can develop his ball-handling and decision-making skills enough to eventually shift over to the point.

Last year, his first season in the league, Murry appeared in 51 games for the Knicks, and averaged 2.7 PPG, 0.9 RPG, and 1.0 APG, while logging 7.3 minutes a night. His slash line was .434/.417/.590.

And-Ones: Cavs, Wiggins, Embiid, Nets

August 10 at 10:58pm CDT By Zach Links

Despite what you may think, Barry Tramel of The Oklahoman reminds us that building superteams in the NBA is not some new fad.  The “Thunder Way” involves growing your own superstars, but the Cavs‘ route of building a superteam is not unlike what others have done in years past.  The Lakers have been collecting All-Stars for decades and the 76ers build a superteam in the 1970s with ABA stars George McGinnis and Julius Erving.  At the end of the day, Tramel writes, both ways work and some franchises never get to make a stab at either gameplan.  Here’s tonight’s look around the league..

  • Wolves president and coach Flip Saunders did well for himself in the proposed Kevin Love trade, writes Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune.  Considering the general lack of leverage that Minnesota had, the Wolves did well by landing this year’s No. 1 overall pick and more.  Ultimately, however, the deal will be judged on how well Saunders can mold the young talent he’s receiving.
  • Kansas will have a lot of work to do without stars Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, but don’t go crying for them just yet.  Yannis Koutroupis of Basketball Insiders looks at the players who will be fueling KU this season – five-star prospects Kelly Oubre and Cliff Alexander. Oubre is a 6’6 small forward who is explosive offensively and an elite-level athlete. Alexander is a rugged big man who thrives with contact and plays with an extremely high motor. Both players are projected as lottery picks in the 2015 NBA Draft.
  • Following a successful season in the D-League, Scott Rafferty of Ridiculous Upside looks at what kind of impact Robert Covington could have on the Rockets next season.
  • Bojan Bogdanović expects to play a key role for the Nets next season, writes Sportando’s Hrvoje Vujanic.

Western Notes: Clarkson, Thomas, Wolves

August 9 at 9:42pm CDT By Cray Allred

With a trade looming that will send Kevin Love to Cleveland, the many Western Conference contenders will have a more daunting team to potentially face in the Finals, and the Bulls are set to improve mightily as well. Still, the West features more proven juggernauts like the Spurs and Thunder at this stage. Here’s a look around the stronger conference:

  • Jordan Clarkson is expected to sign with the Lakers before training camp, reports Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times. Clarkson was Los Angeles’ 46th pick in this year’s draft.
  • It appears DeShaun Thomas will play another year overseas, as Emiliano Carchia of Sportando reports the Spurs 2013 second-round pick is close to signing with an Italian team.
  • John Zitzler of Basketball Insiders says it’s time for Ricky Rubio to take on a leadership role for the Wolves now that Love is departing. Rubio has dazzled as a distributor, but will have to improve as a shooter to help Minnesota recover from the loss of Love, writes Zitzler.
  • Meanwhile, expectations will be sky high for Andrew Wiggins, whom the Wolves will acquire in the Love deal. Bill Self, who coached Wiggins at Kansas, tells Kent Youngblood of the Star Tribune that the wing will be great, but still needs to be pushed. “He absolutely was too nice [before arriving at Kansas],” said Self. “And he’s still too nice. [Wolves coach Flip Saunders] will have to get more of that dog in him. He’s just young.’’

And-Ones: Smith, Motiejunas, Ross

August 9 at 10:21am CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Pistons are in advanced talks with Otis Smith to coach their NBA D-League team, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Smith was the GM of the Magic during Stan Van Gundy‘s coaching tenure with Orlando, and had stepped down from his position in May of 2012, on the same day Van Gundy was fired as head coach of the team, notes Stein. This continues Van Gundy’s trend of hiring his former associates and players. Tim Hardaway was already brought in as an assistant coach, and Quentin Richardson was hired as director of player development.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Chaz Williams has signed with Oline Edirne Basketball of the Turkish League, reports Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. The 5’9″ point guard went undrafted this year out of Massachusetts, after averaging 15.6 PPG, 2.8 RPG and 6.9 APG as a senior. Williams had worked out most recently for the Wizards, with hopes of securing a training camp invite from the team.
  • During an interview with Zip FM radio, Donatas Motiejunas was asked where he’d like to play if he were to leave the Rockets, and his preference was the Lakers, the Basketball Insiders article notes (hat tip to Talkbasket.net). Motiejunas said, “Most likely in Los Angeles because there are no serious bigs and I would likely get chances to play. I mean the Lakers, not the Clippers.
  • Former Ohio State forward LaQuinton Ross has signed with Consultinvest Pesaro of the Italian League, the team reported via their Facebook page (translation by Carchia). Ross went undrafted after averaging 15.2 points and 5.9 rebounds as a junior. Ross had been projected as a possible second-round draft pick this year, but showed up 15 lbs. overweight to the scouting combine, and didn’t perform especially well. He played for the Lakers in the NBA Summer League, but only appeared in three games, and totaled just nine points, six rebounds and four turnovers in 31 minutes.

Pacific Notes: Thompson, Love, Nedovic, Scott

August 7 at 8:27pm CDT By Charlie Adams

The Warriors’ reluctance to include Klay Thompson in any trade talks with the Wolves allowed Cleveland to beat out Golden State in the Kevin Love sweepstakes. The W’s will put forth a solid group next year nonetheless, but it’s one that will look largely the same as last year’s cast that got bounced by the Clippers in the first round of the playoffs. Let’s round up the latest from the west coast..

  • Dealing for Love would have been a defining moment in Bob Myers‘ tenure as Warriors GM, argues Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News, who isn’t sure the decision to hang on to Klay Thompson was the right course of action. The Bay Area News scribe thinks that if Thompson and Harrison Barnes can develop into stud players, then Myers will have made the right choice.
  • Nemanja Nedovic‘s foot injury likely won’t force him to miss extended time, as Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters, including Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group. Golden State signed Aaron Craft to a partially guaranteed deal yesterday, presumably as a backup plan if Nedovic isn’t ready for the start of the 2014/15 season.
  • First-year Lakers coach Byron Scott wouldn’t go as far as to suggest his team would make the playoffs in the upcoming season, but he spoke on The Dan Patrick Show and said the Lakers were going to surprise LA-naysayers, writes Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times.

Trade Retrospective: Dwight Howard To Lakers

August 5 at 9:17pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

It’s an enormous gamble for franchises to trade away their superstars because there’s almost no way to get back equal value in return. Teams usually have to settle for quantity over quality, and have to bank on the returns panning out down the line, or being able to in turn, flip the acquired assets for another team’s star player in another deal. It’s a gamble either way you look at it, and might help in explaining the turnover rate of NBA GM’s.

The current Kevin Love situation playing out in Minnesota is a great example of this. Team president and coach Flip Saunders is still trying to decide whether or not to pull the trigger on the deal, and if he does, which package provides the best return? There’s no way to get equal value for a player of Love’s caliber, at least not for the coming season. If Saunders lands the right package it will benefit the Timberwolves more in the seasons to come, rather than during the 2014/15 campaign. This is true even if they do in fact land Andrew Wiggins, as most of the current rumors suggest.

Minnesota’s quandary made me want to take a look back at some other blockbuster trades where superstars changed hands, and to examine how the trades worked out for both sides. Since we’re discussing a big man, I decided to begin this series with a look back at the August 2012 deal that sent Dwight Howard from the Magic to the Lakers.

First let’s recap the trade, and all the assets and teams involved:

  1. The Lakers received Dwight Howard, Chris Duhon, and Earl Clark from the Magic.
  2. The Nuggets received Andre Iguodala from the Sixers.
  3. The Sixers received Andrew Bynum from the Lakers, and Jason Richardson from the Magic.
  4. The Magic received Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, a 2014 first rounder from Denver via the Knicks (traded to Sixers for the rights to Elfrid Payton) and a 2013 second-round pick (Romero Osby) from the Nuggets; Maurice Harkless and Nikola Vucevic from the Sixers; Josh McRoberts, Christian Eyenga, a top-five protected first rounder in 2017, and a conditional second-rounder in 2015 from the Lakers (protected for picks 31-40).

Looking back at the trade from the Lakers’ perspective, it’s not as bad a deal as one would have thought, considering Howard ended up being a one-year rental. During Howard’s lone season in Los Angeles, he averaged 17.1 PPG, 12.4 RPG, and 2.4 BPG in 76 appearances. His time was most notable for his displeasure with then coach Mike D’Antoni‘s offensive system, and the perception that Howard wasn’t satisfied with being the second biggest star on the team after Kobe Bryant.

Los Angeles went 45-37 in Howard’s only season, earning the seventh seed in the playoffs, where they were swept in the first round by the Spurs. Howard then left the Lakers to sign a four-year, $87.59MM contract with the Rockets.

In retrospect, the Lakers didn’t surrender all that much for their one season of Howard. At the time giving up Andrew Bynum, who was coming off of a season where he averaged 18.7 PPG, 11.8 RPG, and 1.9 BPG, seemed like a gamble, considering re-signing Howard wasn’t guaranteed, but Bynum ended up missing the entire 2012/13 season, and he’s only appeared in a total of 26 games since then.

Josh McRoberts has turned out to be a valuable bench contributor, but he’s not a player who would have significantly changed the fortunes of the purple-and-gold. McRoberts was subsequently traded by Orlando to the Hornets for Hakim Warrick midway through the 2012/13 season, and most recently signed a four-year, $22.65MM deal with the Heat.

The biggest loss from the trade could turn out to be the 2017 first-rounder that went to Orlando. It’s top-five protected, which gives Los Angeles some margin for error. But unless the Lakers make a splash in free agency the next two summers, the loss of the pick will cost them a much needed cog in the rebuilding process, and will negatively impact the franchise. I would say that setback wouldn’t be worth the single season of Howard they received. The record the Lakers have compiled since the trade is 72-92, hardly the result they intended when making the deal.

The Nuggets received a big boost from Iguodala in his one season with the team. He averaged 13.0 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 5.4 APG while appearing in 80 contests. Denver went 57-25 that year, securing the third seed in the playoffs, before getting ousted by the Warriors in the first round.

Iguodala then left the Nuggets in a sign-and-trade deal with the Warriors that netted them Randy Foye. The Nuggets also swapped 2018 second-rounders with Golden State as part of that trade.

Foye had a decent season last year, averaging 13.2 PPG, 2.9 RPG, and 3.5 APG in Denver. He actually outperformed Iguodala’s totals in Golden State, thanks to Iguodala being slowed by injuries for much of the year. Still, in the long term, Iguodala is a much more valuable player, especially on the defensive end.

From Denver’s perspective this trade wasn’t a great success. The one season of Iguodala cost them two excellent years from Afflalo, who averaged 16.5 PPG, 3.7 RPG, and 3.2 APG in 2012/13, and 18.2 PPG, 3.6 RPG, and 3.4 APG during the 2013/14 season, numbers that surpassed anything that Iguodala has provided in Denver or Golden State. Afflalo was re-acquired by Denver this summer in a trade with Orlando which sent Evan Fournier and the No. 56 pick (Devyn Marble) to the Magic. Since the 2012 trade, the Nuggets record is 93-71.

From the Sixers’ perspective, this trade wasn’t a great deal–unless you are on board with their perceived tanking, and the assets they are gathering as a result. The acquisition of Bynum, which at the time was looked at as a win, turned out to be a disaster. Iguodala was a team leader, extremely popular in Philadelphia, and arguably the team’s best player at the time. Bynum had injury and motivation issues, and he ended up being far more trouble than he was worth during his brief stay in Philadelphia.

The loss of Harkless and Vucevic also doesn’t help the trade look any better from Philadelphia’s perspective. Harkless hasn’t set the league on fire, but he averaged 8.2 PPG and 4.4 RPG during the 2012/13 campaign, and 7.4 PPG and 3.3 RPG in 2013/14. He’s still only 21 years old and could develop into a valuable rotation piece down the line.

Vucevic, still only 23 years old, has turned out to be a very productive big man for Orlando. He put up 13.1 PPG and 11.9 RPG in 2012/13, and then 14.2 PPG and 11.0 RPG last season, far better numbers than anything from either Bynum or Richardson, who averaged 10.5 PPG and 3.8 RPG during his one healthy season in Philly.

The Sixers have gone 53-111 since the trade, a ghastly mark that stands in stark contrast to what they were envisioning when making the deal. They couldn’t have anticipated the injuries to Bynum, but that’s the risk a franchise takes with any transaction.

Finally, we come to the Magic. They were in a similar position to the one that Minnesota now finds itself in. They had a disgruntled superstar who wanted out, and they didn’t want to risk losing Howard for nothing if he left as a free agent. So, they made the difficult decision to deal away their franchise player.

After running through what the other teams received, and the minimal returns those assets provided, this might be one of the rare cases where the team trading away the best player actually came out on top.

As I’ve previously mentioned, Afflalo gave them two solid seasons, and Orlando probably should have retained him for another year, considering his talent level and affordable contract. Harkless has given Orlando decent production, and he hasn’t reached his full potential yet.

But the big prize was Vucevic. Productive big men are at a premium in the league, and he is still improving as a player. The problem will come after this season. Vucevic is eligible to sign an extension this summer, or he’ll become a restricted free agent in 2015. He won’t come cheap, and the Magic will have to decide if he’s worth the $10-15MM per season he will most likely seek in his new contract.

The final piece to this trade is Payton. If he can develop into a reliable starter, this trade will look better from Orlando’s perspective. Payton’s presence will allow Victor Oladipo to return to his natural position at shooting guard and reduce his ball-handling duties. The knock on Payton is his lack of a reliable jump shot, and with his questionable mechanics, it might not be a part of his game that will ever stand out. But if he can improve his defense, stay away from turnovers, and facilitate the offense effectively, he’ll be a valuable piece of the puzzle going forward.

Despite “winning” this trade, it hasn’t been reflected in the standings. Orlando has gone 43-121 since dealing away Howard. So, despite acquiring some intriguing building blocks, it also proves that one star player is far more valuable than a roster of good ones. Minnesota, take heed. You might have no choice but to trade Love, but no matter the return, your ranking in the Western Conference most likely won’t improve over the next few seasons.