Friday Forum

Dave Murphy —  May 17, 2013

The playoffs continue to roll with the Memphis Grizzlies heading for a down and dirty showdown with the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. For the Los Angeles Lakers, the story continues to be whether Dwight Howard will or won’t resign and how to fill in the gaps around a core group of expensive veterans. General wisdom holds that Lakers need to preserve the ability to rebuild during the 2014-15 season when Kobe and Pau’s contracts come off the books. The new CBA doesn’t give much wiggle room regardless ā€“ the upcoming season poses the challenge of fielding a supporting cast through the team’s own free agents, the mini mid-level exception, veteran minimum deals, the 49th pick in the 2013 draft and any potential Pau Gasol trade.

Jovan Buha for ESPN’s Lakers Index writes about Lakers under and not under contract and who could fill in the gaps on one-year deals.

Drew Garrison from Silver Screen and Roll takes a look at free agent Raja Bell, an affordable veteran who hasn’t played in over a year.

The Kamenetzky Brothers’ latest podcast at the Land O’Lakers covers the Dwight scenario and the likelihood that it could be a long summer of waiting.

Chuck Schiliken for the LATimes writes about the highest-paid athlete in Los Angeles and fourth-highest in the nation, one Kobe Bryant.

Mike Trudell from the official Lakers blog offers a player capsule for Jodie Meeks. The shooter has a team option for the upcoming season for $1.55 million.

Finally, a cool article by Alex Wong aka Steven Lebron for TSFJ about Kobe’s musical musings.

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Most of the recent stories about Derek Fisher have centered on his continuing quest to win one more ring. With the Thunder now embarking on their summer vacation, Fish’s last best shot may have passed. He’ll be 39 in August and will no doubt continue to be a free agent news item until he finally makes it official and hangs them up for good. The reports of Billy Hunter’s new lawsuit against Fish and other interested parties brings us back to a different but all too familiar saga. Hunter is seeking to prove in a court of law that Fisher circumvented the bounds of his own contract by negotiating secretly with handpicked NBA owners.

There’s a couple obvious hurdles that Billy Hunter has to cross. For starters, the NBA lockout and resulting negotiations were hardly a matter of secrecy. The whole mess was covered in excruciating detail not only by sports outlets but by the national media on whole. The players association was joined in its efforts by some of the heaviest hitters in the fields of mediation and litigation, namely George Cohen and David Boies. The association ultimately disbanded and filed anti-trust suits which achieved the desired result of forcing the owners back to the bargaining table. Whether the final agreement was good for the players or the NBA in general is debatable. One of the linchpins of the case however, is a claim that an unnamed NBA player and his representative called Hunter on October 27, 2011 to apprise him of a backdoor agreement between Fisher and certain owners.

Does Billy Hunter have a winnable case? Probably not but the Machiavellian quest for revenge and redemption will continue to roll. Hunter will never again serve as the head of the NBPA but his latest legal action is simply the logical extension of a power struggle with long and bitter roots. There will be parties within the association’s executive committee as well as media members with personal motivation who will gladly keep this thing going throughout the summer and well beyond. This lead-out bumper was actually going to continue along the free agency topic ā€“ see how easily I get sidetracked?

Dave Murphy

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10 responses to Friday Forum

  1. Francisco Garcia would be the best pickup available this offseason, I think. Oh, and a time-machine pickup of Nick Van Exel wouldn’t hurt, either.

  2. Rusty Shackleford May 17, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    Anthony Peeler.

  3. Warren Wee Lim May 17, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    We need guys that are under 30 and can run. Cicso’s best days are behind him. Although for the vet min he won’t be a bad pickup at all.

  4. Perhaps it’s as a Rockets fan,I’ve grown accustomed to players as “assets”,but there are a couple of such on the Lakers.
    Blake is an expiring contract that can be traded for up to @ $5.3mil in salary. A team going thru a rebuild might prefer Cap relief in 2014 over a MLE-ish player who isn’t going to be a part of that team’s future.
    Duhon can be traded for up to $4.4mil in salary and has a $1.5mil buy-out. That could be an instant savings of over $2mil for either cheap ownership or a team looking to reduce their Lux Tax payments.(And if the Laker’s kick in the $1.5mil…)
    While Hill has value,I imagine his ability to play beside both Howard and Gasol on a fairly cheap contract far out-weighs any theoretical trade value.

  5. Can someone explain how trading players for draft picks works? Is it possible to trade one of our players for a lottery pick? I’m on record as saying Trey Burk from Michigan is going to be a stud. Say he was to be tye next Derrick Rose, wouldn’t that be worth trading Gasol to get him?

  6. If we are going all in for a PG – not my first or second choice – I would emphasize a pass-first player with some defensive chops over a Rose type player. First, the Rose type player will be totally out of our wheelhouse and second, we need someone who can distribute the rock at just the right time and can defend. Scoring is not our primary need now, or probably in the future. While he was a scorer, Steve Nash’s greatest contribution to his Phoenix teams was his ability to create career-years for the players around him. That’s what we need. If we don’t get greedy, we just might be able to get more.

  7. Rudy: Good question – I am sure others can give you a more thorough answer, but here is my take. A team under the cap would need to be very foolish to make a trade like that. Why would they want Pau at $19 million, when they can keep their pick and then sign FA’s? A team over the cap might trade a pick, but they would not part with a lottery pick. They might give us a later pick, but they would also have to give us back $19 million in contracts. These contracts would be boat anchor contracts for vagabond type players. I am part of a consortium who is firmly against the Lakers accepting any post 14 garbage. WWL and others are optimistic that we can get a deal without such garbage involved, but I am skeptical it will be executed : ) We therefore keep our team as is for the most part, with the exception of the fact that rr is looking for a couple suitable youngsters who are willing to play for peanuts ( a most challenging task).

  8. Pau will be hard to trade, but the recent history of the league has shown us that any contract is tradeable. Gilbert Arenas, Joe Johnson etc. One reason someone might want Pau is that while his contract is huge, it is also expiring. People who are fixated on the Lakers’ clearing cap space for 2014 seem to forget that other teams might want to do the same thing, and adding Pau for this year could help them in that regard while also giving them a low-post option for the coming season. IOW, another team would make the same use of Pau that the Lakers will.

    So, it would need to be a deal in which the Lakers got a guy making 10-12 million coming off the books this year, and then couple of more guys on cheap deals. Also, due to the cap rules, the salary numbers don’t have to match exactly. It will be hard to do but not impossible.

    As to “boat anchors” and “vagabonds”, well, Shannon Brown and Matt Barnes are “vagabonds” according to your own definition, and you have said about 20 times that the the Lakers should have kept both of them. MWP and Blake are “boat anchors”, and again, 2014 is not FantasyLand. The Lakers are simply going to be finding players and paying them, and some of them will be probably have to be overpaid so that the Lakers can field a team. And some of them are not going to be particularly good. If the Lakers take on a couple of reasonable contracts for guys who can help the team, it is not the end of the world.

    As to the last point, one effect of the new CBA will be that it will reduce the ranks of the NBA middle-class. More and more guys in the 6-9 roster spots will be playing for the mini-midlevel and the minimum. We have already seen some of this, and we will see more of it. That is the reason that SSR wrote a piece on Wesley Johnson and why a bunch of people here have talked about him: he is an example of a young guy who might only get minimum offers.

    One small advantage that the Lakers do have is that, generally, defense is cheaper than offense. That may change as more and more advanced analysis creeps into the game, but hustling guys who will D up and can run a little are usually out there. The Lakers need to find a couple of playable ones in their 20s and put them on the floor.

  9. As to Rudy’s question, I think the only lottery team that might want Pau is Minnesota. If their pick is 8th-12th or something, they might include it in a Pau deal. This draft is supposedly a very weak one.

    Next year’s draft is the one that the scouts et al say is the big one, headlined by Andrew Wiggins, who some believe may be a franchise player on the James/Jordan level. Wiggins is the son of former NBA guard Mitchell Wiggins and his mom was an Olympic sprinter. He has committed to Kansas but will be a one-and-done guy. The Lakers do have their 2014 pick, so if Howard walks, there will be calls for tanking, blowing it up, etc.

  10. Rudy,if I may.
    Draft picks have zero Cap value in a trade.
    To trade a player(or players) for a draft pick,the trade has to be allowable without the draft pick being involved. If it’s allowable then the draft pick is “thrown in”,even if it was the point of the trade.
    A draft pick can’t be traded for nothing,some form of value has to be involved. A team can buy a draft pick and customarily some future Second protected out the wazoo is included. However a team can only give $3mil max in a trade,and the new CBA limits teams to a total of $3mil total for a season.(In the past you could buy a pick for $2.5mil and throw in another $3mil in a different trade as a sweetener. Now you can still buy the pick for $2.5mil,but you’re limited to just $500,000 available for sweeteners in other trades. OTOH the NBA Season officially ends June 30. So teams that haven’t thrown in cash on trades have the full $3mil to buy a pick.(For instance the Knicks paid Houston $2.5mil to cover Toney Douglas’s salary in a trade last summer. So they only have $500,000 to pay for picks or ease trades-until July 1. July 1,the clock resets and everyone has their $3mil again.)