Archives For Laker Analysis

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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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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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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The Lakers 19-39 entering the All-Star festivities and in need of a break. I need a break, so I know they do. The loss to the Suns was as bad a defeat as I’ve witnessed this year, not because of the final margin but because of the lack of attentiveness and care put into managing the game. They were careless with the ball offensively and as hapless defensively — especially in transition — I have seen this season. The Suns were treating fastbreaks like the All-Star game, throwing lobs and trying to dunk every time there was even a sliver of an opening.

So, this time away — at least I hope — will be useful. But beyond the chance to vacation on a beach somewhere and get away from the game for a week or so, the next time the Lakers take the floor will be after the trade deadline. Which, for this specific version of the Lakers, actually means something. This team has a load of young players and some veterans who might have some value who could be on the move. Even more than that, though, is that the team itself is actually looking to make moves.

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On Playing the Young Guys…

Darius Soriano —  February 15, 2017

The Lakers lost a close game to the Kings on Tuesday night, breaking some fans hearts on Valentines Day. For Shame! All jokes aside, after the contest I took to the twitter machine and said a few things which lit my mentions on fire:

Needless to say, I wasn’t happy. I also wasn’t exactly mad either. It was more a sense of indifference, a feeling I felt for long stretches of the previous two seasons but not much (if at all) this one. So, it was all very familiar and I was trying to reconcile that with myself. At the end of it all, I determined to look towards Wednesday’s game and go from there. No reason to fuss over this one, I thought.

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Tarik Black’s journey to becoming the Lakers’ full time starting center has been a bumpy one. First acquired by the team as a waiver pick up in his rookie season, Black saw good minutes on an injury decimated team in Byron Scott’s 1st season. Black posted a 16.3 PER with the team that season and looked like a player who could contribute the following season.

Only that didn’t happen. Not at all, actually. In their second year together, Byron Scott promptly jerked Black around by limiting his role and (as he did nearly every other young player) speaking poorly of him in the press. This, from a January 2016 column on Scott and Black:

“Go ask Tarik what I told him this summer,” Scott said before the Lakers hosted the Houston Rockets on Sunday at Staples Center. “Just ask him what I told him he needs to do to stay in this league for 10-15 years. When he gives you the answer, come back and tell me and I’ll tell you if that’s exactly what I told him.”

Naturally, a handful of reporters approached Black for his recollection.

“He told me to be a beast, get every rebound and play aggressively,” Black said, reflecting on his exit interview with Scott and Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak. “They told me to work on my skillset. I’m better in my mid range with my size and height in the NBA.”

Okay, that seems rather tame (and probably incorrect since Black is not “better in the mid-range”) but there’s more:

But Scott reported he told Black he wants him to model his game after an NBA All-Rookie first team member (Denver forward Kenneth Faried), a Hall of Famer (Dennis Rodman) and a four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year (Ben Wallace).

“He hasn’t done that yet,” Scott said. “They played balls out, full of energy and aggressive. They didn’t care about the offensive end. … That’s what he has to do to be an integral part of any team.”

“He has been OK. What he gives me off the bench, I don’t know,” Scott said. “He hasn’t done anything spectacular. But he hasn’t done anything devastating where you say, lets send him down to the D-League. But when you’re bringing guys off the bench. You want them to have an impact. He doesn’t have that.”

I don’t rehash all of this to trash the former coach. He had his opinions and they impacted how much Black played — which was not much at all. Black ended up playing in only 39 games for a total of 496 minutes last season. But in a season where Scott leaned heavily on Roy Hibbert (who was terrible) and behind him Brandon Bass (who was good) at C, it seemed odd that Black couldn’t get more minutes (especially at Hibbert’s expense). Even odder was the excuse that Black somehow wasn’t playing hard in his minutes.

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We have already discussed Magic Johnson’s hiring as an advisor to Jeanie Buss at length, offering some thoughts on how it might impact Jim Buss’ job as well as why I am taking a more wait and see approach to how his role actually plays out before I make any lasting judgments.

One of the under-discussed aspects of Magic’s hire, however, is what might happen to Mitch Kupchak. I will get this out of the way up front — I like Mitch. I think, in the aggregate, he’s been good at his job as General Manager. I think he has a good eye for talent and roster construction while also being quite good at saying a lot without saying anything at all (which is important for a guy in his position when speaking publicly or making on the record comments).

That said, how I feel about Kupchak doesn’t matter. What does matter is how Jeanie Buss and, now that he’s on board in his new role, Magic feels about him. And, according to a report from ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, their opinions may not be as clear cut as mine:

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Let’s Make a Deal…

Darius Soriano —  February 4, 2017

First, a confession: I am an NBA Trade Machine addict. I fiddle around on ESPN’s tool more than I should, always trying to find a way to make the Lakers’ roster better without giving up players I like. Considering my fondness for roster construction and the concept of team building, maybe this isn’t a big surprise. Or, maybe because we still outlaw outright trade speculation in the comments of this site, it is.

Anyways, as someone who likes thinking up trades and someone who is invested in the Lakers’ success has often meant whatever ideas I have wither on the vine. I mean, the Lakers rarely make deals in general and, less frequent, make them in-season. There was that flurry of action on 2012 that saw the team trade Derek Fisher and Luke Walton in separate deals which brought back Ramon Sessions and Jordan Hill, but after that I have trouble remembering a deal the team made before the February deadline.

I say all of this as a reminder that it’s pretty unlikely the Lakers make a trade before the February 23rd deadline. History tells us they won’t for whatever reason. Maybe they value their young players too highly. Maybe the offers teams will make for their expendable veterans either don’t include enough value or are hampered with too much excess the team doesn’t want to take one. Or maybe nothing materializes with enough time left to actually work out the details. As I said on the most recent Laker Film Room podcast, it takes two teams to make a trade and that often complicates things.

Now that I’ve listed all those caveats, I think the Lakers need to make a deal (or more) in the next couple of weeks. Or, maybe better said, I’d like them to.

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