Top Free Agency Targets

nba_free_agentsAs I promised, it is time for me to cover the Lakers free agency targets and strategy. We are currently on the cusp of one of the greatest NBA free agency summers in recent history. The Lakers are in a great position to pick up some talent since they have cleaned up the roster and picked up 3 draft picks (including our #2 D’Angelo Russell). There are a plethora of agents to choose from, so in order to keep this blog short and sweet, I am only going to list the free agents that I think we should recruit, and who I think we have a legitimate shot of getting. Therefore, LeBron James will not be on this list. With that said here are my top free agent targets:

Forwards/Centers:

LaMarcus Aldridge

Before I discuss LaMarcus Aldridge, I want to concede that I believe he will go to San Antonio. However, there have been rampant rumors recently that L.A. has moved up his list. I think he might just be using this as a strategy to get more money, but he is a game changer so I believe that we should try to lure him to L.A. He would be a perfect power forward to partner up with Russell. That combo would instantly put us in the playoff discussion.

Paul Millsap/Greg Monroe/Brook Lopez/Robin Lopez

Since we already have a point guard, we obviously need a big to partner up with him. Aldridge is my first choice, but if we can’t convince him that to play in L.A. then we will need a backup plan. Any of these four choices would be solid. I am concerned about these players being overpaid, but the Lakers can afford it.

Guards:

Aaron Brooks/Rajon Rondo/Goran Dragic

I know we just drafted a guard so all of our attention should be on bigs, but Russell is a rookie and we might want to consider getting a more veteran guard to play with him. Kobe is on his way out the door, so we will need another player to take his starting position. Russell is a combo guard so we can put a second point guard into the mix and really run the floor. I think these 3 choices would be great to work with him. I have always loved Brooks, and Rondo has the ability to average a triple double. I also love Dragic and how he ran the floor in Pheonix. L.A. would love a Showtime-esque type of point guard again.

Dark Horse Picks:

DeAndre Jordan/Marc Gasol/Wesley Matthews/ Jimmy Butler

I have selected quite a melting pot of dark horse picks. These pics I have selected are dark horses for various reasons. Some of these I do not think will leave/come to L.A., whereas others I am not sure are really on L.A.’s radar. I would look for L.A. to get some role players in order to make some trades. Mitch has already said he wants to get rid of some of our rookies, but we will need more assets in order to make these trades worthwhile.

Stay tuned to see what the Lakers and other teams do this summer. I will post an update after some moves are made and we have an idea of what our roster will look like this year.

Post Draft Day Analysis

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwy2mjgzntk1mtrlzwvhy2m2zgywndawm2y3yza2yjey-e1435290349615Yesterday was a pretty historic day for Lakers fans. We got to draft our number 2 pick, and Mitch Kupchak managed to shock everyone by selecting D’Angelo Russell. I am hearing a lot of complaints from my fans, but I am very happy with this decision.

If you take a look at my draft day prediction blog, you will actually see that I wanted the Lakers to consider Russell:

“Before we all jump on the Okafor bandwagon, I would like the Lakers to take a good look at D’Angelo Russell: a combo guard from Ohio State. Personally, I would love for the Lakers to acquire a young guard for Kobe to mentor and take over the team. I think it would be a great transition for Kobe to use his last months with the Lakers prepping his predecessor. Theoretically, Kobe could do this with Okafor, but Okafor is a big with a completely different game. Plus, Kobe tends to clash with our centers. ***Cough Cough*** “Shaq” ***Cough Cough*** “Howard.” Sensing a theme yet?

I think Russell could be a great addition, and the Lakers are in dire need of a quality point guard. Despite his faults, I believe the Lakers will end up with Okafor, but Russell is my dark horse pick.”

Therefore, my LakHer fans should not be too surprised by this decision. I did say that I thought we would pick Okafor, but to keep an eye out for Russell. I actually believe that Russell will be a better fit for the Lakers in the long run. Many analysts are actually predicting that Russell will be the best player in the draft. ESPN’s Statistical Plus/Minus (SPM) numbers

Additionally, a lot of people are complaining that we passed on a great center, and this franchise is known for great centers. I would like to counter that argument. There are 3 Lakers players statues outside of Staples Center: Kareem, Magic, and Jerry. Only one of those players is a center, and the other two are guards. The Lakers are known for having great players. Period. Magic defined Showtime, not Kareem. Between Kobe and Shaq, only one of them stuck around. The Lakers picking a point guard and not a center just shows that they are paying attention to what is happening in the league. Golden State just won the championship behind dynamic guards. Every great team in this era needs a great guard.

Also, Mitch made the point that he wasn’t convinced that Okafor would be a franchise player. I mentioned his deficiencies in my previous draft blog, so I can agree with his point. I am not convinced that Okafor will be great. Drafts are always gambles, so we can definitely revisit this topic at a later date.

Picking a point guard should also give Lakers fans great hope for the future. It has been reported that the Lakers wanted a point guard because Mitch is confident that we will score one of the free agent big men this summer (Marc Gasol, Aldridge, Love). There have been a lot of rumors flying that these players are looking at the Lakers with renewed interest, so stay tuned. I think we have put ourselves in a great position to lure one of them in with the starting line up of Russell and Randle.

Lastly, I know that there was a lot of speculation that the Lakers will trade Russell, but I am not buying it. I think Russell is here to stay, but that our 27th pick is a goner. We used that pick to draft Larry Nance Jr. but I do not think Kobe wants this guy around. Three years ago Larry stupidly tweeted this: “Gee I sure hope Kobe can keep his hands to himself in Denver this time. #rapist”

Everyone has his or her own opinions about that case, and I will certainly not be diving into it. That case happened over a decade ago. Needless to say though, I do not think Kobe and his ego are going to want this guy on the team. He did delete this tweet minutes after he was drafted, but I really do not think it matters. It will be a distraction, and will cause a feud before these two even meet.

Mitch has said from the beginning that he would trade at least one of these rookies, so I think Larry shouldn’t be making any plans to move it L.A. yet.

One final note about Russel, here is what he said after he was drafted, “I want [Kobe] to take me under his wing and gain every piece of knowledge I can possibly gain. That franchise isn’t used to losing, and I’m a winning player.” Thank you Russell for proving my point and proving that you are here to win and learn. I can tell I like you already.

Knick’s Pick

I am not going to cover the other teams picks, since I find them to be irrelevant to the Lakers, but my Uncle Rick and cousin Aidan are Knicks fans and were very distraught yesterday by the selection, so I will discuss that one for them.

I am not sure about this pick. Kristaps Porzingis is a huge gamble. He is not NBA ready, but he has a lot of potential. Unfortunately for Phil Jackson this pick will either be praised for being the diamond in the rough, or he will be slaughtered for squelching the Knicks opportunity to rebuild in the draft.

The biggest problem for Phil, is that he selected this player because he fits the mold for the triangle offense. While the Lakers are evolving their game plan to stay relevant in this league, Phil is sticking with the triangle offense, no matter how many games the Knicks lose.

Analysts are pretty split on whether this was a good decision or not. Personally, I do not know how this will play out, but if I were Phil, I would not be gambling right now. He has lost favor with the Knicks fans, as it was obvious when the fans booed this decision, and now Carmelo Anthony is complaining about it. I know that Dolan gave him a huge contract, but he has been known in the past to fire employees. Phil should be careful. Knicks fans had high expectations for Phil to come in and turn this franchise around, but Phil only has bad deals and records to show for his time in New York.

Phil Jackson Needs to Stop Talking

phil-jacksonWriting this blog is physically hurting me. I have admired Phil Jackson almost my entire life. He was the man who brought my Lakers out of the darkness (not once but twice) and brought back the winning culture. He won 5 NBA championships as a Lakers coach, so naturally I would defer to him on most issues.

However, lately he has lost his ZenMaster aura and instead has turned into an angry old man yelling at the young kids from his porch. I want to cry when I write that sentence, because it is the truth.

He has spent this post season, and now off season criticizing the top NBA teams and players. During the playoffs he regularly used Twitter to blast the Golden State Warriors. This was so petty, since everyone knew he was clearly upset that Steve Kerr decided to go to the Warriors instead of the Knicks. He trolled the Warriors when they went down 2-1 to the Grizzlies, but we all know how that turned out in the end…

PJ1

PJ2

Additionally, Phil Jackson just did an interview with Bleacher Report discussing offensive schemes throughout the league (not just GSW), and felt he should call out LeBron and the Cavaliers. He said, “When I watch some of these playoff games, and I look at what’s being run out there, as what people call an offense, it’s really quite remarkable to see how far our game has fallen from a team game…Four guys stand around watching one guy dribble a basketball…I watch LeBron James, for example. He might [travel] every other time he catches the basketball if he’s off the ball. He catches the ball, moves both his feet. You see it happen all the time. There’s no structure, there’s no discipline, there’s no ‘How do we play this game’ type of attitude. And it goes all the way through the game. To the point where now guys don’t screen — they push guys off with their hands.”

Look, I don’t necessarily disagree that the one-on-five method is sustainable. Clearly LeBron couldn’t beat the Warriors by himself, but he did manage to get to the finals with minimal help.  Phil Jackson may not like it, but that is more than his lottery Knicks can say.

This is why Phil Jackson needs to stop talking. I don’t think it is classy to troll other teams, but if you are going to do it, then you better be able to back up your claims. Phil may have 13 rings, but he hasn’t won a Championship in 5 years. The league is evolving, and Jackson isn’t.

I spent 2 years blasting Jim Buss for not giving Phil Jackson control of our team, but now I am very grateful he doesn’t have that power. I never wanted Mitch Kupchak to lose his job, but I thought Phil would be a great asset in selecting players. However, he has proven in New York that he cannot win in the front office. While I will never condone the hiring of Mike D’Antoni, I can admit that Jim was correct in not giving Phil power over player decisions. If I am going to write tout my correct predictions, then I must also hold myself accountable when I get one wrong. Jim Buss, you get this one.

Follow up to Last Week’s Post

I have received a lot of positive comments in regards to last week’s post about the reports. I am glad that my fans enjoyed that topic. I would like to point out that I actually wrote that post because my dad asked me to cover it. I am always happy to take requests if you want to hear my take on a subject. Please leave me comments so I can cover the topics you want to hear about, otherwise I will keep picking them myself. Thanks!

How the NBA Reporters Almost Ruined My Finals Night

LeBron James giving his post game interview

LeBron James giving his post-game interview

I woke up very tired this morning, and it is not because I was emotionally exhausted after watching an intense series between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers come to an exciting conclusion. Instead, I was tired because I stayed up late watching the post-game coverage. You might be wondering why I stayed up to watch this coverage since I have no allegiance to either team. Well here is the answer: I wanted to see LeBron’s interview.

There were 2 questions I wanted to hear LeBron James answer:

  1. You have a player option to come back and play for the Cavaliers, are you going to come back, or will you explore free agency again?
  2. You said throughout these playoffs that you had a secret motivation. What was it?

I sat watching post-game coverage for an hour before LeBron finally took his seat at the podium, but no one asked either of my 2 questions. The closest anyone got to asking either of those questions was when one reporter asked LeBron how quickly it would take him to start thinking about next year, to which LeBron replied he isn’ thinking about next year yet. My 2 questions are the only ones that really matter. Instead of asking my questions, the reporters took the opportunity to ask the most frivolous questions.

One reporter actually asked LeBron how much this finals loss hurt in comparison to his other finals losses. Seriously? First of all, that is just a dick question. Way to shit on a guy when he already feels terrible. Second of all, who cares? LeBron actually did a very good job of keeping his composure during these redundant and idiotic questions, but I love the fact he actually gave this “journalist” some attitude. He told him that they all hurt the same, and that an elimination from the Finals hurts no matter what team you are on, or where it happens. Burn! (In text you can’t tell, but there was some sass in his voice).

In case you haven’t figured this out yet, I absolutely hate the basketball “reporters.” I think they ask the stupidest questions. Whenever my dad and I watch the games together we actually make fun of Doris Burke the whole time. The only reason why she gets the brunt of our abuse is because she “interviews” during the game, so I have no choice but to hear the horrible questions she asks the coaches and players. I rarely watch post-game interviews for that very reason. I try to avoid these interviews as much as I can.

I actually love how Greg Popovich and Phil Jackson normally answer their questions. Pop always gives a one word answer, and Phil normally shows some sass. I wouldn’t have a problem with players pulling an Allen Iverson and going off on reporters when they asked these ridiculous questions.

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You know that old saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all?” Well I would like to revise that rule for NBA reporters: “If you don’t have anything intelligent to ask, then don’t ask anything at all.”

Players and coaches do not like giving these interviews, but they are contractually obligated to do so. I think we are doing a disservice to these men by making them endure these stupid questions. Instead of having these mandated interviews, why don’t NBA officials actually talk to these reporters and ask them if they have any real questions to ask. By the way, I am totally in favor of punishing reporters for asking bad questions. Remember in school if you repeated a question you got in trouble since you were clearly not paying attention? Why not make that rule apply to the reporters as well. Let’s eliminate repeat questions, and if a reporter doesn’t have another question then he can simply pass his turn. Wouldn’t that be nice?

I felt so bad for LeBron last night. Not only did this man endure a heartbreaking loss, but he then had to sit there and answer the same questions asked 10 different ways. Every single reporter asked (in some variation) about his feelings losing the game and how the loss of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love affected the outcome. Only one reporter had an original question and asked him to analyze how Andre Igoudala played defense against him.

As fans we demand greatness from our teams, and I think we should hold the reporters to the same standard.