Okay, so maybe that headline is misleading. The Lakers are very likely to pick whoever the 76ers do not pick from the Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram duo. But with the 76ers reportedly telling Simmons he will go #1, the Lakers have reportedly made up their minds that Ingram will be their guy.
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It is NBA Draft Week. And while the crowning of the Cavs as the new NBA Champions will make up many of the storylines over the entirety of the off-season, the draft will occupy more and more of our time as we get closer to Thursday. Expect to read more mocks, more articles about who is moving up and down draft boards, and what each team should/will do.
Oh, and expect rumors. Lots of rumors.
I have a hard time reading the tea leaves when it comes to what Byron Scott’s future might entail. Last month, when a report surfaced that the Lakers were “torn” on whether Scott would return for a third season as Lakers’ head coach, I was not really surprised. I am sure Scott has backers in the front office (remember, these people hired him) and Scott is Lakers’ family due to his showtime connections.
When that last point is put into the context of the Lakers being a family business, it truly matters. There were whispers for a long time that Dr. Buss was quite fond of Scott and as a coach whose biggest influence is Pat Riley, that connection to the past is strong.
That said, when the aforementioned report surfaced, I also wrote a leak like this signified that Scott also has detractors in the front office. That there’s no reason for a leak like this to come out unless Scott being let go was truly a consideration. And that concerns which go beyond the team’s record and spill into how he’s handled the team’s young players might carry more weight than the circumstances he’s faced with injuries (his first season) and the Kobe retirement tour + incorporating a slew of young players (season two).
Why does this matter today? Well, Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck floated an interesting theory this morning on Scott’s potential future with the organization which adds another variable to the equation:
I don’t know if it is like this for Bulls’ fans, but Phil Jackson will always be that dude for a lot of Lakers fans. His two stints as Lakers’ coach led to seven trips to the NBA Finals and five Larry O’Brien trophies. It’s not that the man can never do wrong, it’s just that, when he does, it’s almost immediately written off or shrugged away because his history of doing so much right overwhelms it.
Basically, Phil being Phil has a way of being the overriding sentiment whenever he might do or say something Lakers’ fans might get really upset about if it were someone else saying it. His ties to the organization — not only as a former coach, but as the team governor’s/part owner’s fiancé — only add to this familial quality he possesses.
What does this have to do with anything? Well, as we all know, Phil has always had a way of just saying things to the press that don’t always fly so well with any number of listeners. And today, when talking to the NY Press in advance of the Knicks’ opening training camp, he was back at it, this time regarding Kobe Byrant and his future with the Lakers.
What once seemed like a late August part fun rumor, part feel good story which wasn’t likely to happen, now seems to have more legs. Could it be the Lakers may really sign Metta World Peace? According to Adrian Wojnarowski, they are getting closer:
Yahoo Sources: Metta World Peace has begun to work out daily at Lakers’ facility, inching closer to a return to franchise on one-year deal.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) September 9, 2015
As I noted when I wrote about the initial reports of the Lakers’ interest in Metta, I did not think he was a particularly good fit. From a roster construction and position crunch standpoint, his addition would seem to be redundant. However, that perspective was shaped mostly by what Ron might provide on the court. Eric Pincus of the LA Times has a different perspective:
The Lakers and Metta World Peace may once again become an item. Adrian Wojnarowski broke the story on Monday afternoon:
The Los Angeles Lakers are discussing the possibility of signing free agent forward Metta World Peace to a one-year contract, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
No deal has been agreed upon, but there have been talks between the Lakers and World Peace’s representatives, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
There are varying degrees of interest within the Lakers organization about bringing him back to the franchise at 35 years old, although the idea has been met with enthusiasm from Lakers star Kobe Bryant, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The LA Times’ Brad Turner called the discussions between Metta and the Lakers “casual conversations”, but did add he has been a presence around the team this summer:
World Peace has been working out at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo with Julius Randle the last two months, and the two have played pickup basketball at the Clippers’ practice facility in Playa Vista, an official said.
While these reports clearly state nothing is imminent, this is all very fun to discuss.
When Ron — he’ll always be Ron to me — first arrived to play for the Lakers, I was skeptical about his fit and weary of his reputation as a ball stopping wing who had a tendency to play outside of his role and on the verge of doing something that would compromise his team’s chances to win.
Ron always played with an intensity and competitive fire that was distinct. And while playing on the edge in the way that he did would sometimes lead to him crossing the line between fair and foul, his determination and desire to give his all on the floor was something that many don’t always provide. When you combine his temperament with some of his big game performances, Ron will live on in Lakers’ lore for a lifetime.
I mean, I will never forget his put-back against the Suns in the 2010 Western Conference Finals nor the even bigger performance — and clutch 3 pointer — he provided in game 7 of the NBA Finals. His post game press conference is also the stuff of legend, but that just obscures the fact that without Ron in uniform, it’s unlikely the Lakers defeat their long time foes to claim the title, or even get that far for that matter.
That was two years ago, though. Regarding his current fit, there is a logic that the Lakers are thin at SF, Ron plays SF, and, hence, this is the reason to sign him — or at least explore the option. However, I would argue that Ron is much more of a small-ball PF at this stage of his career. He was already skewing that direction in his final season with the Lakers and, in the limited time he saw in New York, was also moving in that direction for the Knicks.
Part of any building process is the acquisition of assets. While in this stage, whoever is responsible for raising a roster from the ashes has to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves as competitors deal with their own issues. In this case, the Lakers could benefit from the Phoenix Suns and an extremely unhappy Markieff Morris.
Anytime a player demands a trade, though, the scenario is obviously pretty complicated. Morris’ situation is no different and the outside variables cannot be ignored. Before we get to those, though, let’s first examine why the Lakers should kick the tires.
The Lakers have been quiet on the personnel front in the last few weeks, though have reportedly agreed to a contract with undrafted free agent Jonathan Holmes. Adding a combo forward doesn’t necessarily seem like the biggest need, but his combination of youth, skill set, and versatility are worth a longer look.
More of a need, at least according to Mitch Kupchak, is another big man. The Lakers were rumored to have interest in former Wizard F/C Kevin Seraphin, but the Knicks signed him to a deal earlier this week. With one former Wizard off the market, maybe the Lakers would explore signing a different former Wiz:
Sources close to JaVale McGee say he's focused on getting healthy. Several teams have shown interest. Mavs, Lakers seem like frontrunners.
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) August 8, 2015
As long as McGee remains unsigned, his combination of name recognition, athleticism, and “potential” will have some fans intrigued. And, with the report above — a report, it should be noted, comes from sources “close to McGee” — those same fans will likely get a bit more excited.
I, for one, am not a fan of McGee and don’t see him as a particularly good fit on the Lakers despite front office desires to add another big man. For all of McGee’s ability, it’s rarely been channelled into long stretches of productivity. And while a lot of his “issues” that have earned him a questionable reputation seem to just stem from a quirky personality or a general aloofness, I’m of the mind that the Lakers could probably do just as well without him in the fold as with him.
This doesn’t make him a bad person or a bad player. Again, his combination of size, athleticism, and ability to impact a game by using both well is not the question. The question is whether he can provide this ability for long enough stretches over the course of a full season. Based on his injury history and how he has shown a proclivity for either checking out mentally or simply making boneheaded plays, I think these questions have probably already answered themselves. Or at least they have for me.
In saying all that, though, McGee is out there and sources close to the player seem to be saying the Lakers have an interest. Whether that interest turns into anything more than a summer flirtation remains to be seen.