What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
Back in December, I wrote a plan about how to rebuild the Los Angeles Lakers. Now that we’ve had the NBA Draft Lottery, and now that we know the Lakers kept that “top-five protected” pick at the top end of the first round, with the NBA draft being tomorrow night, there’s a need to revisit that plan. Obviously, having a pick at #2 is a great deal different from losing that pick to Philadelphia as part of that goddamn Steve Nash deal.
But what may not be so obvious is how this change ripples all the way through the plan.
What I originally said:
We’ve already given ourselves four years at the outside to make this transformation, so the key here is to understand that this is really year #1 of a two-year deal. Kobe need to go away after next season. While I’m not really interested in using the “amnesty” clause on one of the greatest players in NBA history, I’ll do it if Kobe doesn’t play along with the plan.
Next year, Kobe gets the Jabbar-style retirement tour, and the Lakers then give him some sort of Magic Johnson-type job in the organization. However it happens really isn’t the point. The simple fact is Kobe is not the future; he’s the past. Presently, he’s the only reason anybody will watch this team, but that won’t be the case once the rebuild is completed.
Eventually, Kobe will need to be replaced, but right now this team is missing so many of the aspects which have defined Laker basketball across the eras…which leads to the rest of my plan.
With the announcement the upcoming season would be Bryant’s last, there’s no longer the need to form the exit strategy. Not only does that get this plan off to a start, but it avoids having to answer some really ugly questions. Now, the Lakers and the rest of the league can give Kobe a “Kareem-Jeter” style farewell tour rather than running the risk of watching another pathetic “Jordan-esque” departure with Bryant toiling for some other team for his last NBA days.
The avoidance of the latter also means the Lakers don’t have to face ugly realities of how a non-amicable divorce with Kobe would go. It would have never happened via trade. Kobe’s contract made that impossible. The Lakers don’t have to find out “the hard way” that nobody wants an aging, beat-up guy with a price tag the size of an ocean liner. Ultimately, the Lakers don’t have to face the prospect of using the “amnesty” clause to get our from under that deal.
That was the “worst-case scenario,” and they’ve dodged it.
What I originally said:
…First of all, he’s not getting any attention from so-called draft experts, which means the Lakers will easily be able to get him given they should be be picking early come June. I don’t get why this guy isn’t higher on everybody’s draft boards, but that’s fine with me. Kaminsky is NBA-ready right now, and more importantly he’s Laker-ready as he solves two problems for them. Kaminsky is a scoring threat from anywhere on the floor. In fact, he compares favorably to some other Laker bigs of the past…
Bullet-point number 2 just became the three-headed hydra of a problem for the Lakers. That’s a fancy way of saying it’s become as likely as Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner becoming a spokesperson for the Dollar Shave Club. Kaminsky significantly upped his stock this past season by being named the AP College Player of the Year, and deep down in places I didn’t want to admit, I really saw the Lakers losing that top-end draft pick to Philadelphia as part of that aforementioned goddamn Steve Nash deal.
That leaves this plan with a set of problems.
First, they can’t take Kaminsky at #2 overall, and while they could trade that pick down, I just don’t see them giving up a shot at getting one of those two tasty bigs at the top of the draft. The Lakers do have another pick in the first round at #27. They also have pick early in the second round at #32. Pretty much every mock draft out there has Kaminsky going somewhere around #15, but this fluctuates wildly, with some having him going as early as #8 to Detroit.
Second, you might be thinking that Okafor solves a lot of the Lakers’ problems in the front-court, which he actually should. But you also have to remember that Laker basketball is now, and has always been, about tandem bigs who split the offensive and defensive duties. Okafor can solve part of that problem, but he can’t do it all by himself.
Lastly, there is the whole notion of what the free-agency period is going to bring. It’s all but official that Kevin Love will leave Cleveland, and the omni-directional sludge pump that is ESPN says Love really only wants to go to either Los Angeles or Boston. Not only does that mean advantage Lakers, but it does change the equation here. Not to mention, the Lakers still feel the sting of betting on young bigs. If the mere mention of the name Andrew Bynum draws scowls from the Laker faithful, imagine what the name “Kwame Brown” does?
What is a certainty is the Laker team which limped off the floor this spring will look significantly different from the one which will take the floor this fall. The difference is going to be in the mechanism of change. Boil it all down to gravy and my original plan of drafting Frank Kaminsky got it from Colonel Mustard in the Conservatory with the revolver.
So, now the question becomes would the jostling which will be necessary to get Kaminsky ultimately be worth it? Can it even be done? The irony here is while the Lakers got a much better draft pick then they expected, that pick may shift the focus of the rebuilding project to the free-agent market. Having said that, it still doesn’t change the remaining overall goals.
What I said:
There’s a couple of possibilities here, all of which revolve around the Lakers making a trade. The real challenge here is because the way the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement is constructed, trades are difficult because there are restrictions based on salaries and other considerations. Couple that with some simple economic realities (such as the fact the Lakers still have Steve Nash under contract, but we all know has zero trade value), and the Lakers only really have a few options when it comes to the trade market.
We can debate over which players they have which have deal value, but the inescapable reality is that to make any deal work, the Lakers are likely going to have to eat some salary. That means looking for a “big” with a price-tag to match and who is on a team that might be looking to make a change. The two most likely possibilities:
- Nick Young and Jeremy Lin to Indiana for Roy Hibbert
- Nick Young and Jeremy Lin to Brooklyn for Brook Lopez
Another solid possibility:
- Ryan Kelly and Robert Sacre to Detroit for Andre Drummond
Another, albeit less likely option:
- Nick Young and Jeremy Lin to Memphis for Marc Gasol
If you haven’t noticed, Jeremy Lin and Nick Young are the two Lakers with the best trade value, although there are some other deals which could be made. Of course, the Lakers haven’t been too interested in playing Let’s Make a Deal since the league killed the Chris Paul trade. However, David Stern is gone, and the Lakers need to create a future where there now is none. When it comes to the trade market two things really hamstring the Lakers; the rules in the NBA concerning trades and the fact they have precious little of value.
This is the part where I think I can salvage the Kaminsky thing and get a rim-protector.
First of all, in the last few days, the Lakers have been pumping a couple of smoke jobs regarding possible acquisitions of DeMarcus Cousins and Dwayne Wade. I’ll come back toe the Wade thing later; Cousins is what matter to this section. I can’t see the Kings making such a deal, unless new their new head coach George Karl has decided Cousins isn’t his kind of guy. Karl had plenty of opportunity to deny this yesterday, and he’ didn’t do it.
On one hand, it isn’t like Kings vice president of basketball operations Vlade Divac doesn’t have a relationship with the Lakers. On the other hand, if the Kings wanted to work a deal, it could be done even with the “bare bones” nature of the Lakers’ roster, even though it would likely mean the Kings would have to take Nick Young and Jordan Hill.
Then there’s the wonderful world of qualifiers.
Marc Gasol hit one in his deal making him an unrestricted free agent. Brook Lopez, Kevin Love, and Roy Hibbert all have player options for next year in the neighborhood of $15 million. Pero Antic and Enes Kanter are both coming off their rookie-scale deals. Tristan Thompson emerged during this past post-season.
That’s just for starters.
The key here is the Lakers have a ton of room under the cap, and let’s not forget the cap goes up next year when all the new TV money kicks in…which does present some mind-boggling possibilities.
What I said:
Drafting Frank Kaminsky is part of this strategy. He addresses the front court scorer need, and the perimeter need. But he can’t do both all the time. That’s why there is another interesting deal out there that also solves two Laker problems. It’s a little something I call the New Orleans Import Project. The deal works like this:
- Jeremy Lin to New Orleans for Omer Asik and Jimmer Fredette
The deal is really about getting Asik, who is a rebounder and rim protector of the first order. But Fredette is a pure shooter who can be had for nothing. Granted, he can’t make his own shot, but coupled with Kaminsky and a backcourt rotation which if it still includes Jeremy Lin (or another shooting guard if need be), Fredette easily can be that guy who can hit threes when needed and can be a guy on the floor not to foul late in games.
The beauty of incentive-laden deals is that they can completely change the possibilities available. In other words, some things hit the table that weren’t out there in December.
Go back to the stuff I said earlier about Dwayne Wade. I’m going to tell you right now what that is all about. The fact the Heat are willing to go mega-deal with Goran Dragic means the “Dwayne Wade” era in Miami is coming to an end.
Well, don’t look now, but there’s a guy who used to play with Wade who is also a free agent with a $21 million player option right now, and is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2016 season, when…guess what happens?
If you said “What is the salary cap goes up, Alex?”, then you deserve congratulations. Final Jeopardy is just like those incentives….they make the scores really change.
Whether it happens or not isn’t the point. The ducks are all in a row for this to happen, and that possibility is going to drive a lot of what happens with free agency after next season. Face it…the Lakers already have a shitload of salary-cap space, which they aren’t going to burn up a lot of this year, and next year, the cap goes up and they get out from under Kobe Bryant’s gorgon-like deal.
Getting LeBron to leave Cleveland again will likely require a marquee team with a lot of money to work with, and the Lakers will fit that bill. To be fair, so will the Knicks and the Celtics.
I’m just sayin’…discuss amongst yourselves.
Originally, this section was all about making a deal with Boston, who at the time still had Rajon Rondo. However since then, the Celtics dealt his ass to Dallas, whose uniform he’ll never wear again. To make a long story short, you can forget about the Rajon Rondo thing now. The guy is a head case, and I don’t need any more of those. Call it the “Lamar Odom” rule if you want; either way, I’m not going anywhere near this guy.
There are some people out there who say the Lakers might stun the world and take D’Angelo Russell from Ohio State, but that ain’t happening. The Lakers either trade that pick, or take which ever of the two coveted big men are left. This is the area the Lakers will address through free agency, and maybe not even this year.
In any event, the first step toward the new era of Laker basketball gets taken tomorrow night.