Archives For

Remember back in the summer of 2013 when the Lakers took gambles on former first round picks to see if those guys could revive their careers in Los Angeles? Kobe had just torn his achilles and Dwight Howard had just walked without compensation so the team turned to guys who were called busts or never quite lived up to their draft slot — Wes Johnson, Xavier Henry, MarShon Brooks, Kendall Marshall — as low risk high reward signings.

That summer and those signings instantly popped into my head when I read Marc Stein’s report the Lakers are in “advanced talks” to bring former lottery pick Yi Jianlian back to the NBA from China. Here’s Stein:

Sources told ESPN.com that the Lakers tried in the summer of 2015 to sign Yi and have renewed those efforts in the wake of the former lottery pick’s fourth trip to the Summer Olympics as a cornerstone player for China.

The 7-footer, now 28, has spent the past four seasons with the Guangdong Southern Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association and averaged 20.4 points and 6.6 rebounds for China in its five games in Rio.

A deal is not yet done to secure Yi’s return to the NBA, but sources say talks are ongoing and that the Lakers are hopeful of adding him to the roster before training camp begins in late September.

Continue Reading…

Regardless of how one views the Lakers’ off-season, what cannot really be argued is that the Lakers have improved their talent base. A simple look at the players who have come in vs. the players who have departed spells this out pretty quickly:

In: Luol Deng, Timofey Mozgov, Brandon Ingram, Jose Calderon, Ivica Zubac
Out: Kobe Bryant, Brandon Bass, Roy Hibbert, Metta World Peace, Robert Sacre, Ryan Kelly

The only player on that out list who posted a PER over a league average mark is Brandon Bass. Bass played nobly as a back up C last season, playing well on offense overall while providing smart, rugged defense both individually and at the team level. He was everything fans would have wanted from a veteran leader and he will be missed.

However, beyond Bass (and Kobe*, who I will discuss later) the Lakers have essentially let go of players who were well below replacement level and have swapped them for players who are likely better than that. I understand that is not saying much, but when you are working up from a 17 win team, even marginal improvements matter a great deal on the bottom line. This is the new world, Lakers’ fans.

Continue Reading…

It is the middle of August. Asking legitimate questions about how an NBA team’s rotation shakes out really is all speculation. Teams haven’t yet convened for camp. They haven’t practiced or played a pre-season game. Things like injuries or trades or…really, everything, have not yet influenced how roster battles will shake out or even the final composition of the team.

However, after stating those caveats, a question has been lingering with me since early July and I just can’t seem to shake it any longer: Could Marcelo Huertas Beat out Jose Calderon as Backup PG?

In a way, this seems like a silly question, doesn’t it? Calderon is a known product who has had a ton of success in the NBA. While he’s 34 now, Huertas isn’t much younger at 32 and their relative NBA experience leans heavily towards Calderon having the inside track to back up D’Angelo Russell at point guard. It’s this background which basically led me to believe Huertas wouldn’t even be brought back after the Calderon trade happened.

Then, however, Huertas was re-signed. And then the Olympics started. Then Huertas’ Brazilian team (with him playing a big role) beat Calderon’s Spanish team (with him being marginalized and only playing two minutes) in a notable — though not shocking — upset. Then the very smart John Schumann of NBA.com tweeted this:

Where is the thinking face emoji when I need it?

Continue Reading…

During his exit interview after the season, Robert Sacre said he wanted to return to the Lakers next season. As the only NBA team he’d ever played for, Sacre said he was comfortable in Los Angeles, loved the city and the fans of the team, and did not want to uproot his family.

Well, despite his professed hopes, Robert Sacre will not return to the Lakers next season. Instead, he will fight for a roster spot in New Orleans:

Continue Reading…

One of the ongoing themes of Luke Walton’s hire has been how he wants to rebuild the Lakers’ culture. Coming from the Warriors, Walton has expressed a desire to import the competitive drive and having the proper edge and approach to the work which needs to be done. Yes, he wants his players to have fun, but he wants to ensure he is instilling the proper values in his players.

Building a culture is one of the most important things Walton is tasked with. While ultimate leadership of the franchise starts with ownership, the coach is more than just a bystander in this process. The coach is the one who has the players’ ears, the one who holds them accountable, the one who establishes the daily environment of work.

Walton knows this better than anyone as he came from a team where one of the things the head coach did was tweak the previous culture (and schemes) from those of his predecessor to better galvanize his players and get the most out of them. Walton will need to do the same with these young Lakers. And it will likely need to be more than just a tweak. This leadership will be instrumental in any success he and his team have.

But with a team so young as the one he inherits, Walton will need to be more than a leader, he will need to be a teacher as well. I have said this before, but young players make mistakes. The expectation is that they will learn from them, that over time they will catalog those miscues and put themselves in position to not make them again.

Continue Reading…

It is the summer of 2016 and, as a Lakers’ fan, it is finally okay to dream again.

For most of my life, or at least the part where I understood what I was watching on TV, being a Lakers fan meant dreaming of the team and its players reaching heights reserved for only the greats of the sport. How far would they go in the playoffs? Would they win the championship? Would player X win the MVP? How many players would go to the all-star game? Etc, etc.

For nearly 5 years, those types of dreams have ceased. They dissipated with a ruptured achilles, free agents walking without compensation, a bloated contract extension, the bringing on of stop-gap players, and the hiring of coaches who either couldn’t live up to the memories of those who came before them or reveled so much in the past that embracing the future seemed like an afterthought.

Continue Reading…

The Lakers officially announced they have re-signed point guard Marcelo Huertas. From their press release:

“Marcelo’s understanding of the game, unselfishness, and professionalism are assets to our team and he has an uncanny ability to change the pace of the game,” said Kupchak. “He’s fundamentally solid but also has a flair and excitement to his style of play, which makes him a fan favorite.”

In his first NBA season with the Lakers last year after playing professionally in Brazil, Spain, and Italy since 2001, Huertas averaged a team-best 3.4 assists per game in addition to 4.5 points and 1.7 rebounds over 53 games. Prior to coming stateside, he spent the previous four seasons (2011-15) with Spanish power FC Barcelona, where he was a key piece on their 2011-12 and 2013-14 Spanish National Championship and 2013 Spanish National Cup-winning teams. He also has 165 games of Euroleague experience, and was the 2013-14 Euroleague Top 16 Round Two MVP.

While the Lakers did not announce the terms of the deal, the contract is believed to be worth $3.3 million over two season with the 2nd year non-guaranteed.

Continue Reading…

Some rumors take on a life of their own even if there isn’t much meat to them. The Russell Westbrook/Lakers speculation would qualify as this type of rumor. With Westbrook’s pending free agency next summer, the Lakers working the CBA to create max cap space next summer while also maintaining flexibility right now, Kevin Durant’s recent departure, and Westbrook being from LA, there were a lot of dots being connected even if there were never any reports of discussions between the Lakers and Thunder.

Those rumors, though, can now be put to rest as Westbrook is on the verge of signing an extension to stay in OKC for at least the next two seasons and maybe the next three:

Continue Reading…