Expiring Contracts Loom Over The Lakers In 2014

Phillip Barnett —  October 1, 2013

 MG 2088This is going to be a fascinating Lakers season on various levels, but one is the narrative surrounding the myriad Lakers who are in contract years this season. Outside of Steve Nash, Robert Sacre and Elias Harris, there are no Lakers who have contracts that extend past the 2013-14 season. Nick Young has a player option for the 2014-15 season, but can opt out of his deal for greener pastures should he choose to do so.

Going into a season, we’d normally segregate the various contractual castes, but what the top and bottom of the notional salary totem pole have in common is the dynamic that everyone is playing for a new deal this season. Kobe Bryant playing to show that he’s still worth top dollar, in theory, isn’t any different than Jordan Hill or Steve Blake or Jodie Meeks wanting to have a great season to earn a bigger contract over longer years.

Guys going into a season knowing that they’re in a contract year isn’t a new phenomenon, but a team with this many players not knowing what their respective contract situation for the following season is unprecedented, and could potentially be problematic. One of the Lakers biggest issues last season was a lack of chemistry. From the coaching change to the clashing personalities to the plethora of injuries, the team never got on the same page. Now, with the majority of the team in a position to make more money in the following season, getting on the same page could prove to be difficult.

“It depends on you want personally, said Hill at the Lakers media day this past Saturday. “Do you want to win or do you want money? If you perform and win, you’re going to get the money anyway. I just want to focus on winning and playing hard.”

While it may be difficult to get everyone in a contract year zoned in on that singular focus, there is a possibility that the Lakers could see some pleasant surprises out of some players in the five through eight spots in the rotation. If you google search the worst contracts in NBA history, they’re guys who had phenomenal years proceeding large deals.

  • Rashard Lewis: Following a year that Rashard Lewis posterd a 20.7 PER with a 22.4/6.6/2.4 split per 36, the Orlando Magic gave Lewis a six-year, $118.2 million contract as an unrestricted free agent. Lewis’ win shares would decline for the next six seasons and he would never post a PER above 16.8 in his career.
  • Trevor Ariza: Trevor Ariza had a great 2008-09 year with the Lakers. Both his TS% and eFG% were norht of .500, his turnover percentage was the lowest of his career, he posted decent ORtg and DRtg numbers hand recorded the most win shares of his career. Things got better in the post season as he was instrumental in helping the Lakers get some late game stops to lead the franchis to it’s 15th title while shooting .476 from three. The Rockets would sign the unrestricted free agent to a five-year, $34 million deal and watched as those numbers decline. His win shares would be cut in half and his TS% and eFG haven’t shot back above of .500 since.
  • Amare Stoudemire: Amare Stoudemire has only played 82 games twice in his career, and one of those times he was in a contract year. His 2009-10 season with the Suns, Stoudemire posted a 24.1/9.3/1.0 per 36 split with a 22.6 PER and became an all star. Stoudemire parlayed that great season into a five-year 99.7 million contract. Since then, Stoudemire has only played in 66 percent of games for the Knicks and hasn’t really been able to find a fit into the Knicks system beside Carmelo Anthony.
The list of guys who have excelled in their contract years is limitless, and the possibility of a few Lakers having similar success is high, and performing well in Los Angeles will definitely get a guy like Xavier Henry some looks from teams around the league.

“I think competing takes care if itself,” said Henry on the opportunity to earn a bigger contract by playing well for the Lakers. “If everyone is going out there wanting to win, and we’re winning, everyone is going to get what they deserve at the end of the day. If everyone comes in here and competes, all of those things will work themselves out.

Right now, everyone is saying the right things. Wesley Johnson echoed a lot of what both Hill and Henry said on Saturday, while both Bryant and Pau Gasol don’t seem interested in bringing up their respective contract situations, and neither have began negotiations with the team. Only time will tell whether or not this team will be able to gel and put personal goals aside, but it’s going to be necessary for this team to do so if they’re going to be successful this season.

Phillip Barnett

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43 responses to Expiring Contracts Loom Over The Lakers In 2014

  1. I was suprised to read on ESPN Darius didn’t know that if things are anything close to equal in one on one baskeball the bigger stronger player wins. I think LeBron is only a hair better than Jordan and only because of his outside shooting advantage on offense and only because of his ability to guard more positions on defense. But in one on one basketball between the two it wouldn’t be close. LeBron is two inches taller and at least forty pounds heavier. But it’s not a fair comparison for Jordan. He doesn’t have a PFs body like LeBron. In a real game Jordan wouldn’t be asked to guard LeBron just like Kobe rarley has guarded LBJ. James isn’t the same size as Kobe and MJ.

  2. Then…Jack Haley or prime Mark Lansberger would beat Michael Jordan one on one? Oh close to equal! That’s still not accurate. This isn’t boxing.

  3. Great news basketball fans… I figured they needed to go back in and remove the cartlidge… I was wrong… We will still have our Russ…

    “When Westbrook still wasn’t cleared last week for the start of training camp, the Thunder downplayed concerns about his recovery from April surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus. Turns out there was reason to worry: Today’s arthroscopy revealed that a stitch from the repair had come loose, causing Westbrook’s knee to swell.

    Because the meniscus itself healed, in the long term there shouldn’t be major concern about Westbrook’s health — precisely the reason he and the organization opted to repair the meniscus rather than removing it in the hopes he could rejoin the team during last year’s playoffs.”

    Hale,
    Yes… Do you understand if any big starts with the ball against Jordan they would just back him down and dunk on him every time. Jordan would never touch the ball. It’s the nature of one on one basketball. Jordan won’t make 100 percent of his outside shots. Bigs make 100 percent of their dunks against a guard.

  4. I think having a bunch of players that have break-out years commanding more pay is a good problem to have. The real problem will be making them wait for management to sort out the big ticket players/free agents first.

  5. Hale,
    And if you read closer you would read if “all things were close to equal.” A seven foot computer engineer couldn’t beat a NBA SG in one on one. But any NBA big man today would the vast majority of the time beat Michael Jordan (the second best player of all time in my opinion) at one on one “basketball”.

  6. Aaron,
    when one reads even more closely they see >>> Me: “Oh close to equal!”
    I was just messing with you. It’s not everyday Mark Lansberger gets name checked in the battle of best One on One unicorn and pegasus championship. Nevertheless, I still don’t agree with your summation given the limited variable of size in ONE on ONE basketball. There are so many ways to be effective on the court beyond powering through another player.

  7. Re: centers 1 on 1 – You can’t just drive through a person or back down from the 3 point line all the way to the cup against a good defender with hand-foot speed and tactical know-how. Every time that ball bounces outside of the big man kill zone, that center is heavily under the likelihood of losing the ball. One the flip side, offense, Adrian Dantley’s entire NBA career was making bigger defenders look incredibly inept with his timing and footwork.

    I liked Probasketballtalk’s quip about James and Bryant protecting their drunk uncle Jordan.

  8. Hale,
    There are many ways to be successful on the basketball court… Even in one on one basketball. But the most effective is dunking the ball. And in one on one where there are no double teams and a bigger apponent will eventually back his way under the basket and dunk it… Power and height are the biggest deal. Just like in life. I enjoyed that joke. It felt right. Like with a Chevy chase style dry delivery at “Tie” Webb

  9. There is a very interesting interview with Jordan Farmar at the following link: http://www.nba.com/lakers/news/131001_jordanfarmar

    I recommend it. He talks about how he’s using Steve Nash as a mentor. Also, so far, the player in camp who seems to have impressed Farmar the most is Wes Johnson. Interesting.

    Normally, training camps bore me. But not this one. There are any number of intriguing stories that could arise from this year’s preseason.

  10. Hale,
    Just saw the part about the “small variable in size” between LeBron and Jordan. It’s basically two positions. That’s a big difference in size. Michael Jordan at 28 years old had a normal SG sized body. Pretty much exactly like Kobe at 28 years old. Lebron James is the size of Karl Malone. Forty Five pounds and two inches is a lot to give up to LeBron freaking James. Haha. Two guys who at this time in their careers were both putting up exactly the same PERs for several years in a row like a mirror. Two and a half inches and 50 pounds is a lot to give. up.

  11. Here’s hoping that Houston’s most-recent free agent signing of a former Laker works out as well for the Rockets as the Ariza deal did.

  12. i remember a playoff series where Kobe had to guard Mello and got the best of him, one on one. i’ve seen Kobe get the best of Lebron, one on one in the all-star game. the bigger player doesn’t always win. I’ll bet Jordan can still give Lebron grief in a one on one game and i don’t even like Jordan. i’m originally a Wilt and a West fan…

    i expect these guys to play hard this year.

  13. Guys, a one on one game isn’t the same as guarding someone during an NBA game. Sometimes, some driving lanes are cut due to weakside help, diminishing the offensive players options. That being said (and you can argue that I never played at an elite level), my best friend and I have a running one on one game that will go on forever. He plays PG in our country’s second league. He’s 6’0”, can jump out of the building and has a good 3 point shot. I have 4 inches on him and I’m/was basically a slasher/defensive-type player with no reliable outside shot. And he simply can’t beat me one on one. Whenever I get the ball I just back him up even from the 3 point line and if he goes for the steal I get an uncontested layup.

    That being said, big players in the NBA today are not like Mikan who could hardly dribble the ball without pressure. We’re talking about guys who already have a smooth jumper and are used to being pressured and double teamed since they were 6th graders. Lebron has more than enough technical skills to be gauged against any wing player in today’s NBA and has a significant physical advantage over Jordan. How would Jordan prevent Lebron from backing him up? Even with the occasional Lebron’s miss, he has the physical tools to stop Jordan. And we might want to check Jordan’s career 3pt% before going further into this…

  14. Mid-Wilshire,
    thanks for the link! you´re right, it is a good interview;
    the points you´ve made in your post about how J. Far´s working with Nash & his opinion of Wes Johnson are certainly highlights; I also got a flash of goose bumps when he talked about Mamba – respect

  15. Rusty Shackleford October 2, 2013 at 8:09 am

    That 2009 postseason 3-point shooting run (.476!!!) by Trevor Ariza was the best I’ve ever seen anyone in a Laker uniform put up. This year we have Wesley Johnson.

    The Steve Nash signing was approved by Matt Millen.

  16. Who do you guys think would win a fight between Thor and Iron Man?

  17. Aaron, Jordan and Kobe in their Primes are as strong as Lebron. Size and Strength aren’t the same thing. No center in the NBA could beat MJ or Kobe one on one. The centers ankle would get broken every single time. Even if the center got the ball 1st, all they would need is get the ball once and it will be over. By the way, for anyone thinking Lebron would simply back down MJ or Kobe, MJ and Kobe would post up Lebron and score every time. The best one on one players ever are Kobe and MJ.

  18. Jordan or Kobe would both beat Lebron at one-on-one in their respective primes. Anyone who suggests that Jordan would allow Lebron to back him down and dunk on him is smoking crack… Lebron’s post game isn’t even on par with either MJ’s or Kobe’s.

    Renato- Did you really just compare MJ (arguably the greatest player ever to play) to your 6’0″ tall buddy who you beat because you’re 4 inches taller? Wow. You’re a defensive guy right? Do you think that you could shut down Allen Iverson? He’s 6’0″…

  19. Rr said it best, pick your superhero.

    Leave it all on the court.

    6 beats 5 beats 2.

  20. One of the strongest players in the NBA is Chuck Hayes. He certainly isn’t the biggest player, but try posting him up and see how that goes.

  21. rr-
    “Who do you guys think would win a fight between Thor and Iron Man?”

    I typically love your posts and agree with most of them, but this is just petty. What’s going on in this thread is something that has happened since competitive sports began. Everyone does it. In. Every. Sport. Who’s the greatest boxer? Who’s the greatest homerun hitter? Who’s the greatest shooter in basketball? I understand that you believe that these things really can’t be proven across sports eras, but that doesn’t mean that people can’t discuss them. If it’s beneath you to do so, then don’t comment on the thread.

  22. Thank u KenOak

  23. Backing down a player in one-on-one isn’t just a matter of skill. When the skill levels are in the same universe, the guy with more in their ‘back pocket’ will be able to back down the other guy and prevent the other guy from backing him down. If they are also taller by several inches they also can play slightly off the man and avoid the opponent going around them. Now all that is left is outside shooting ability and that was not Jordan’s strength.

    Some of this discussion is a matter of physics and not simple emotion or dedication to a particular individual. This is another reason the GOAT discussions are pointless.

    One-on-one Russell couldn’t stop Chamberlain and he was perhaps the best defensive center to ever play the game.

  24. rr – I’m gonna have to go with Thor – but I like Iron Man better.

  25. MannyP
    That’s too simple of an answer! Are we talking about regular Iron Man suit or the Thorbuster suit? Because the Thorbuster suit could beat regular Thor hands down! The Thorbuster suit was created with Asgardian tech…

    Uhhhh. Yeah, I’m going to stop there. :P

  26. RR,

    Depends on if you’re talking Classic Universe Thor or Ultimate Universe Thor?

    ***

    With Ron Ron and Bynum gone, the Lakers are once again without an enforcer. Whereas it is not the most important issue, I prefer to have one than none. Maybe one of the new guys has the appropriate amount of nasty in them. At least they do have Farmar now who adds to their player count of dudes who aren’t afraid of the moment.

  27. “One-on-one Russell couldn’t stop Chamberlain and he was perhaps the best defensive center to ever play the game.”
    -Craig W.

    Yep, that’s a little known fact.

    It grinds my gears that Simmons loves to play the whole, Russell was better than Wilt card (based off of championships and basketball IQ) but refuses to discuss the one on one matchups or the fact that Russell’s teammates were always much better than Wilt’s teammates.

    It’s a shame, because a whole legion of basketball fans will grow up citing Bill Simmons, and will actually believe that Russell was better. Thanks for being a dick just because your a Celtic fan Simmons!

  28. I’m picking LeBron to beat both Michael and Kobe. Not that any of this matters. But its a fun conversation anyway.

  29. KenOak,

    The post was good-natured, not mocking. I am very big, as I have said, on the “Talk about whatever you want as long as it is basketball-related and within Darius’ guidelines.” This particular topic does not interest me personally, but other guys should have at it.

  30. “If players have relatively similar skills & are relatively the same size, the guy who wins one on one is the guy willing to cheat more.”

    Kobe or MJ would destroy Lebron based on this one. none are more willing to do whatever it takes to win. at least as far as Lebron is concerned, we already know that he cannot simply back Kobe down. he has NEVER been able to do that. vintage Carmelo, who was/is a monster, couldn’t back Kobe down in their one on one battles. Kobe might be smaller, but he has enough strength to stand his ground. both he and MJ have or had the hops needed to block Lebron’s shot from behind. what MJ and Kobe probably can not do anything about 9 times out of 10, is stop a Lebron dunk when he has a good running start.

    by the way, Wilt Destroyed Russell on the court too. it was Russ’s team that beat Wilt’s.

  31. Assuming that Lebron can beat MJ or Kobe one on one is like assuming that Ronaldo is better than Messi simply because he is taller.

  32. Alright rr. That’s my fault.. I should not have assumed.

  33. Mud,
    Paul Peirce outplayed Kobe in the Finals because pierce was a SF and Kobe was a SG. Kobe was a better player but he was just smaller. When the Lakers got Artest Paul Pierce did very little in the finals. Size matters in one on one spots. And on the rare spots when LBJ matched up with Kobe… Kobe lost those battles way more times than not.

  34. what’s up with the spelling errors?

  35. Everyone read the former players points above. Renato Afonso correctly points out what one on one basketball is. Read it and learn. Every basketball player tells me the same thing Renato did above. Size matters in one on one basketball. It’s the most important thing and there isn’t a close second.

  36. Jay A,
    Football is a different game than basketball. As you know I’m sure. Height matters more in basketball (although it still matters in football). This isn’t a football blog but I will say I think Messi is a very good player but he plays in la Liga (a small and slower league than the EPL). He hasn’t had anything close to the same successes in international football with Argentina or against the good EPL and Bundesliga sides. We have seen Ronaldo dominate in the EPL and with Portugal. I think height and size are the reason for this. There wasn’t one EPL team who offered Neymar a contract this summer. One EPL executive said “we have been burned by small players from Brazil before”. Meaning that even in football size and height matter.

  37. Aaron,
    La Liga is a slow league? smh. I see you chose to ignore all the success Messi has had in Champions League. While size might matter in all sports, there are certain players who are so special that size doesn’t matter. Messi is the best player on the planet, period. He is broken from the same mold as Kobe Bryant.
    BTW, Paul Pirce didn’t out play Kobe in the 2008 finals (I think you need to go watch those finals again). Instead, the Lakers lost because Pau and LO played soft ball.

  38. Don’t you have to get to the key before you back someone down or is the new mandate ball in at the free-throw line?

    Pre-season games please start soon.

  39. Size matters in one on one basketball. It’s the most important thing and there isn’t a close second.

    Size does matter in 1 on 1 games, but only if the individual with the size advantage – and I’m not talking about a game in which a player the size of Shaq is competing against an individual the size of Ray Allen, because in this case, of course size would be the most important factor as to who wins the game – has the prevalent skill set and athleticism to take advantage of his size against the smaller opponent.

    For example, if Boris Diaw, who is around 6’8 – 250-260 lbs (albeit, not solid) was to play Kobe 1 on 1, who would your money be on? I used Diaw as a reference because his dimensions – tho, as I mentioned previously, not solid weight wise – are around the same as Lebron’s. However, one wouldn’t bet a dime on Diaw because he doesn’t have the skill set or athleticism as Bron to defeat Kobe in a 1 on 1 matchup. Even tho he (Diaw) has the size advantage.

    Now ask the same question of Bron (around the same size as Diaw, tho in much better shape) against Kobe and you’ll have a fair amount of individuals who’d put their bread on Bron. Why? Because if one was to take away the size advantage, Bron also has the skill set to make for an interesting matchup against Kobe.

    So it’s debatable whether “size is the most important thing” during 1 on 1′s – unless the size advantage is outrageous – and even if so, Skills are a very “close second.”

  40. Jay A,
    Thanks for the football talk! Messi scored his first goal against an Italian side in the champions league last year. Italians are known for big physical and well organized defending. Barca doesn’t play a quality side until the semi finals every year. His play with Argentina is a more accurate representation of his quality than the bums he plays against in La Liga (besides Real Madrid). Messi might be able to shine against the top athletes in the world. I’m not saying he wouldn’t. I’m just not so sure. I would like to see it for myself. How would we view a little PG dominating in Spain? We would wait to see him play in the NBA on a regular basis to judge. The only time I’ve seen Messi play against the top athletes in the world is when he plays for Argentina in big tournaments. And as we all know he looks very pedestrian. Not just sub football god… But he looks downright average. And I’m not talking about production as he of course is playing in a different system against other superstars. But he can’t run by people or out quick defenders with the ball at his feet. He also gets pushed off the ball and is afraid to attack. These are the reasons I put players like Bale, Ranoldo (the best), and Ibrahemavic, ahead of Messi.

  41. Hale,
    You can back someone down wherever you want. But in the nba you can only do it for five seconds.

  42. ” I think LeBron is only a hair better than Jordan and only because of his outside shooting advantage on offense and only because of his ability to guard more positions on defense”

    This has to be a joke right?Aaron you are so strangely fascinated with Kobe right?

  43. KenOak,

    That last remark is rather… Well, moving on. I would argue that my skillset is closer to my friend’s than anyone in my country is to Allen Iverson’s. We’re talking about players who play “the same” game, if you know what I mean. And Craig W is absolutely right. Skill isn’t as important for a one on one game as most people think. And Lebron is skilled (maybe just not as much as Kobe and Jordan) enough.