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 – 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.
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 – see how easily I get sidetracked?