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

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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In a stunning move to shake up their front office, the Lakers announced Tuesday morning that they have cleaned house of their top two basketball decision makers and elevated Magic Johnson from “advisor” to Jeanie Buss to the President of Basketball Operations. From the team’s press release:

Los Angeles Lakers Governor Jeanie Buss announced today that the team has named Earvin “Magic” Johnson as President of Basketball Operations. In addition, General Manager Mitch Kupchak has been relieved of his duties, effective immediately. Furthermore, Jim Buss will no longer hold his role as Lakers Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations.

“Today I took a series of actions I believe will return the Lakers to the heights Dr. Jerry Buss demanded and our fans rightly expect,” Jeanie Buss said. “Effective immediately, Earvin Johnson will be in charge of all basketball operations and will report directly to me. Our search for a new General Manager to work with Earvin and Coach Luke Walton is well underway and we hope to announce a new General Manager in short order. Together, Earvin, Luke and our new General Manager will establish the foundation for the next generation of Los Angeles Lakers greatness.”

While the move itself should not inspire surprise, the timing of it certainly should. The NBA Trade deadline is only two days away and the team just fired their GM and relieved the final say in basketball decisions. Just Sunday night there were reports that the Lakers were in conversations to acquire DeMarcus Cousins (before he was dealt to the Pelicans) and there have been ongoing rumors about the team being in active discussions about trading Lou Williams in advance of Thursday. Now the people who were on those calls and negotiating compensation are now no longer employed by the team! I am almost speechless.

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It’s no secret the Lakers have been active in the trade market this season. They were apparently interested in DeMarcus Cousins before he was dealt to the Pelicans and have also been mentioned as a team who is willing to trade off one or more of their veteran players for an asset which has more long term appeal.

The player whose name is most often mentioned as “on the block” is Lou Williams, a key performer for the Lakers all year who is under contract through next season at a very reasonable price tag. Williams is having his best season as a pro and the Lakers are seemingly ready to cash in on that value when it’s at its peak. As Pete and I discussed on the most recent Laker Film Room Podcast, one team which has been linked to Williams is the Washington Wizards.

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