No longer winless in the preseason, the Lakers are back in action Tuesday night against the Kings in…Las Vegas. After getting in a Monday practice, the team jetted off to Sin City and will face a team who, just like them, is looking to make a strong move forward and out of the western conference basement.
The Kings are an interesting lot where thousands of words could be spilled about them and not sufficiently cover all that’s occurred in the past season plus. What’s important heading into this game is that they have, essentially, reconstructed their roster in the hopes of fulfilling the promise they showed last year before DeMarcus Cousins was diagnosed with viral meningitis (which triggered a losing streak and, ultimately, the firing of then head coach Mike Malone).
To add to their core of Cousins, Rudy Gay, Darren Collison, and Ben McLemore the Kings went wild in free agency adding Rajon Rondo, Marco Belinelli, Kosta Koufos, Carol Butler, and Quincy Acy. In the draft, they landed Kentucky big man Willie Cauley-Stein. What we have, then, is an entire new rotation of players the FO hopes can lead a push towards the 8th seed. That’s probably overly optimistic, but, if nothing else, the combination of George Karl and this roster of headstrong and eccentric personalities should lead to some exciting play and some potential locker room fireworks.
The Kings new team will face the Lakers new team — well, at least most of it.
Brandon Bass practiced today, but Marcelo Huertas (strained hamstring) is out for tomorrow.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) October 12, 2015
It is still unclear if Bass will play, but considering the glut of forwards on the roster, him sitting out wouldn’t be the worst thing from an evaluation standpoint. Byron Scott noted that cuts could happen this week, so today may actually be the last game for some of these guys to make an impression. Or, it could be their fate is already sealed and any look tonight is a gesture of good will to see if any other team wants to snatch them up.
In other injury news, Roy Hibbert sat out Monday’s practice with a sore knee but has said he plans to play against Sacramento. Hibbert said he tweaked it in Sunday’s game, but after being examined by team doctors, it was determined he did not need any X-rays or an MRI. We’ll see if he’s laboring at all against the Kings — especially since he’ll be dealing with Cousins a fair amount.
The other item worth noting is that D’Angelo Russell will again come off the bench in this game while Anthony Brown starts in his place. I don’t think this is anything to be concerned about long term and agree with Mike Trudell in that we’re likely to see Russell starting when the season starts. I do think, though, that they are very much intrigued by what Brown brings to the table as a small forward and want to get a better look at him — especially next to more talented players who can create shots for him and where he can expend all his energy on defense.
Regarding how any of this impacts the game, I don’t expect it to, really. Russell is likely to see lots of minutes with a mix of starters and reserves, likely coming in for Kobe or Clarkson around the 6 minute mark. He’ll match up plenty with Rondo and Collison throughout and will get a better test — on both ends of the floor — than he’s had at any point this preseason.
The other juicy match ups are fairly obvious — Hibbert/Cousins, Randle/Cauley-Stein, and Kobe/McLemore all offer various levels of intrigue. The Randle/Cauley-Stein battle will be especially interesting not just because of their shared University of Kentucky history, but because WCS is the type of long, quick athlete who could, theoretically, give Randle problems. We’ll see if Randle can use his strength and craftiness around the hoop to still be effective or if WCS’ defensive chops win out.
After getting a win in their last game, it would be nice if the Lakers could keep the trend going. The Kings pose a tougher challenge than Maccabi Haifa, but the things the Lakers did well in Sunday’s win are portable. Make the extra pass, dial up the defensive intensity, and attack the backboards on both ends. If they can hit some shots in the process, they’ll be right there with a win in reach.
I feel like this is an interesting test because of a number of the match-ups mentioned in the write-up. While the Kings are not a great team, they has some talent at key positions that will serve as a gut-check for the present construction of the roster. I also think that the Kings, like the Lakers, have something to prove coming out of preseason. Both teams should play like they mean it.
Cauley-stein is a starter????
I thought rondo wanted to be a laker..whos better upshaw or Cauley-stein lol… i think hibbert is good and the matchup with cousins should showcase him.. most of their offense revolves around getting gay the ball off screens…our most exciting thing is young/williams combo
I hope Upshaw gets some extended minutes tonight, see how he goes defensively against a seasoned center in Cousins. Also not a bad idea with regard to the Hibbert knee tweak. Like the A. Brown decision to start, another guy who needs some minutes to show his defensive chops.
Aaaaand Cousins is out of the line up
Clay Bertrand says
This is not really a comment on the game tonight per se, but I am speaking more toward the report that the initial Cuts are coming after this game. Looking toward those Cuts:
1.) It appears we are so woefully thin at PG that we are going to have to keep a 30-plus Brazillian who used to play in Spain and will have played, AT BEST, SOME parts of 3 PRESEASON games against teams very likely to be resting a number of their regulars (I don’t see the defending champ Ws playing their 1s too much against us)??? Now I’m all for optimism and I know that Clarkson CAN slide over and play some 1 but Huerta would be taking a roster spot for the sole reason that he is a PG and not because hes a PG who has shown he can play at the NBA level. I recall Andre Miller was out there all summer as a FA who could have been a great mentor and CAN STILL PLAY SOME NBA MINUTES at PG and hes from…..LOS ANGELES of all places. Good Locker room guy too. He signed with Minnesota so clearly, he has no championship dreams in his head. I think we could have nabbed him instead of Huerta who may be OK but is a clear gamble as injured even as a 3rd PG.
2.) When looking to the possible cuts, its an interesting evaluation to ask, “If we cut any of the following: Upshaw, Holmes, Sacre, Black, Frazier, J. Brown, Huerta, MWP, will ANY of these guys get snatched up by other teams??” I mean, if other teams with clearly better talent on their rosters take ANY of our guys, then theoretically, WE SHOULD NOT HAVE CUT THOSE GUYS!!! I think its interesting to look at it in terms of pure talent regardless of team need. We don’t have OUR CUP OVERFLOWETH with talent and we can’t afford to lose talent that goes to other teams. Its a ZERO SUM game of sorts where the Lakers get worse while opposing teams that are ALREADY better improve even more by grabbing guys we cut and plugging them into useful roles.
3.) The Lakers need to DEVELOP TALENT whenever and wherever they can being that 2 of the next three First Rounder picks have already been traded along with the Second rounder that went in the Hibbert deal to Indiana. You might say, “BIG DEAL. A second round pick in 2019 is NOTHING!!” But this team has consistently traded away its picks for YEARS and wasted many others. We need to be beating the bushes to find talent!!! I’m not saying we have to sign Larry Sanders to party with Upshaw, but I am saying that clearly, a team without picks from the last 5 years on its roster producing (NOT looking at you Bob Sacre!!!!) needs to back-fill somehow as much as possible for the traded/wasted picks. Most ALL of the top teams ALSO HAD DECENT DRAFTS to go with their ALREADY TALENTED ROSTERS!!!!
BOTTOM LINE: The Lakers, and we the glorious fanbase have got to stop comparing this team with last years team (or the year before) so much and start REALISTICALLY evaluating them relative to the OTHER teams in the league. This team won’t be playing last year’s team but will be playing everyone else in the league obviously. While IMPROVEMENT is exciting to witness compared to the downright joyless and depressing doldrums of the last two years, our expectations should allow for the REALIST appreciation that we need to be GAINING on the league in terms of talent and NOT merely KEEPING PACE.
We KNOW that Maccabi Haifa can’t STEP TO US!!!! Now lets BEAT the Sac QUEENS like rented MULES!!!!!!!!!!!!! Go Lakers!!
P.S. Always appreciate your insight Darius and the people on this site are the most level headed Laker fans around!!!
TRIVIA QUESTION: Name the only player ever to play for the Lakers who is a Native of Iceland. (I know you guys will nail this…….)
Hope things get better for LO and he makes it through this.
Looked like last year’s offense. No easy baskets.
There are a few more ominous signs that we should be even more pessimistic about prospects for next season: it almost seems like both the Kings and the Jazz actually adjusted personnel to keep the game more competitive (e.g. no starting center).
Warren Wee Lim says
Hopes and Prayers go out to Lamar Odom. My 8+ years or so of cheering for him has made him part of my life. Anyone who’s crossed-path with him tells he’s a good dude. Hope he pulls through and becomes 1 heck of a recovery story.