In their first game after the All-Star break, the Lakers lost by a double digit margin to the Thunder in OKC. While the final score wasn’t pleasant, there were a few things I did like about the game. The team competed until the end and showed some defensive spirit in the 4th quarter. D’Angelo Russell was aggressive all game, posting an 11 point 5 assist 1st half and then pouring in 18 more points in the second half.

Russell’s game was a reminder of how much of a natural scorer he can be, hitting shots from all three levels (even though he shot especially poorly from behind the arc). It was encouraging to see Russell get into the paint and finish, something I’d like to see become a more permanent part of his game rather than the once-every-five-game affair it’s been this year. I’d also like to see him continue to find that balance between scorer and playmaker – after a 1st half with 5 assists, he only had 1 helper in the 2nd half. Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather Russell skew aggressive than not and if that means his assist numbers suffer, but he scores well, I’m okay. But this speaks to why I want him in the game and getting reps in every and all types of game situation.

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UPDATE: Jose Calderon has officially been waived. Terms of the buyout were not released, but the team issued a press release confirming the move. Calderon must clear waivers before he would become a free agent who could sign with any team. It is believe he will sign with the Warriors once that occurs. Read below for my original analysis when this was being reported as possible

Even though the trade deadline has come and gone, the Lakers may not be done changing their roster construct. ESPN’s Marc Stein is reporting that the Lakers and Jose Calderon are discussing the potential of a buyout. From Stein’s report:

Los Angeles Lakers guard Jose Calderon has emerged as a potential candidate to join the NBA’s annual March buyout market, according to league sources.

Sources told ESPN that it’s not yet a certainty Calderon will secure his release from the Lakers in the coming days, but the sides are indeed discussing the options as Wednesday’s playoff eligibility deadline nears.

As Stein notes, the deadline for when players need to be released in order to be playoff eligible for a different team is this upcoming Wednesday. Players don’t need to be signed to their new team by that point, but they must be released. For the Lakers and Calderon, it may be mutually beneficial for them to find common ground simply because Calderon is not a rotation player and the Lakers may be better off with an open roster spot to pursue their own additions before the season ends.

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After over a week off, All-Star weekend, a front office shakeup which captivated the league, and two separate trades with the Rockets (Lou Williams for Corey Brewer + a 1st round pick and, later, Marcelo Huertas for Tyler Ennis), the Lakers are back playing actual basketball tonight when they suit up against the Thunder.

 

The Thunder, too, have a different look after trading Cameron Payne, Anthony Morrow, and Joffery Lauvergne to the Bulls for Doug McDermott and Taj Gibson. In the short term, this deal likely helps the Thunder more than the Bulls as Gibson is the best player traded. In the long term, this trade likely comes down to who becomes the better pro — Payne or McBuckets, which is something we just can’t know at this point.

In any event, this is a match up of two teams who will look different than the versions which entered the All-Star break, which means adjustments to new/tweaked roles and incorporation of new guys. Having practiced yesterday helps, but there’s still some things to work out — something which applies more to the Thunder (adding guys who should be in the rotation) than the Lakers.

Beyond accounting for those adjustments and some potential rust due to the long layoff, I am hopeful for a good game which puts the focus back on the court and what the players can do. It’s easy to be caught up and distracted by the events of the last few days, but I think it’s fair to say those moves were (mostly) made to correct course and establish the long term plan which best fits this organization.

That means further empowering the young players and letting them sink or swim. Which is something I will be watching for tonight. Will the young guards get longer stints? Will they close the game? This isn’t to say that you can’t coach them hard or pull them for making mistakes or do whatever else is needed to establish good habits. That said, the focus should shift even more in their direction now and there’s at least one fewer excuse/impediment to them on the roster now.

With that, I hope to see a good game where the team competes hard. They should be refreshed and looking to make their mark in the last 20+ games of the year. Let’s see what they’ve got.

Where you can watch: 5:00pm start time on Spectrum Sportsnet.

When the Lakers traded Lou Williams for Corey Brewer and a 1st round pick, my thoughts were mostly centered on the quality of the draft pick and the ramifications of no longer having Lou on the roster. Those things, to me at least, were the key parts of the trade since the pick is the main asset and the redistribution of Lou’s usage to younger players offer the most long term meaning to a rebuilding roster.

My analysis on Brewer, then, naturally was lower on the list of things which actually mattered. Here is what I wrote:

I am not too keen on Corey Brewer being part of this deal. I would have preferred the Lakers push for KJ McDaniels, a younger, more rangy athlete who still has some upside. Brewer is a fine veteran who has been on some good teams and can be another voice in the locker room. He can also contribute as a try-hard defender and an open court player who will fill the lane well. But, overall, as someone who is signed through next season at a higher cap number than Williams and someone who has suspect offensive decision making, I would have just preferred the team chase a younger player as the “throw-in” to make the deal work.

I stand by that, but I also think the Brewer aspect of the deal deserves more than a single paragraph. I don’t know what role Brewer will play on the court — and there will be some analysts who say it should be “none” — but I am interested in seeing whether Luke decides to give him some spot/situational minutes to see what he has in Brewer.

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After trading Lou Williams, the Lakers didn’t quite sit out the rest of the trade deadline but they also didn’t make any large moves — especially the one many fans were wondering about as rumors around Paul George’s availability swirled all day. No, the Lakers settled for more of a minor move, dealing Marcelo Huertas for the Rockets’ Tyler Ennis.

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Trade Deadline Day Thread

Darius Soriano —  February 23, 2017 — 55 Comments

It’s one of the best days of the year for NBA fans – Trade Deadline Day! Rumors will be flying, players will be changing teams, and we will all be refreshing our twitter feeds waiting for the next Woj Bomb. I love it.

The deals have already started, in fact. The Mavs are reportedly trading Andrew Bogut, Justin Anderson, and a 1st round pick to the Sixers for Nerlens Noel. This is a good move for the Mavs and some nice value for the Sixers for Noel. We have to see the protections on the pick, but a young player and Bogut (who could be bought out or traded again) is a good package.

As for the Lakers, things are sort of quiet, which is normal for them at this time of year — but now that a new regime is in place I don’t think we can assume this is a normal year. On Wednesday, the idea was floated that the team had made inquiries on Paul George, though there were not details as to whether an offer was made. Today, there are reports that the Celtics are in discussions with the Pacers for the All-Star forward and that the C’s are willing to include this year’s pick from the Nets (which could end up being 1st overall).

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After firing Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak and elevating Magic Johnson from “advisor” to President of Basketball Operations, the Lakers are reportedly close to filling their vacant GM position.

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In a day which saw the Lakers elevate Magic Johnson to President of Basketball Operations while removing Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak from their respective front office positions, more change is afoot. The team has reportedly traded Lou Williams to the Houston Rockets.

Per David Aldridge, the pick the Lakers are receiving from the Rockets is not protected in any way, so the team will have at least one draft pick in the upcoming draft with a possibility of still retaining their own selection should it fall in the top 3. The Lakers have reportedly been insisting on getting a 1st rounder in exchange for Williams, and my guess is that the lack of protections probably swayed them towards the Rockets considering there was also interest from the Jazz and Wizards.

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