A Tale of Three Lotteries Part 2: Los Angeles

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

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No More Parties in L.A

DeAngelo fac eThe Lakers are a shit storm, but it was fun watching the Kobe Show’s 60 point Finale – a fittingly dramatic conclusion to the career of the ultimate baller.  Kobe’s retirement overshadowed how horrific they were without him on the court.  Actually, they couldn’t win with him or without him. With the 29th ranked offense and 30th ranked defense, it’s incredible that the Lakers managed to even get a franchise worst 17 win.  It’s time to move on from the Kobe Era and onto the tumultuous offseason ahead, and with new coach Luke Walton coming in and only six players under contract for next season*, Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss have a lot of work to do.

The Lakers hope that D’Angelo Russell will be their starting PG for years to come, but it isn’t as simple as they might assume. Russell might have lost the trust of the locker room and it may be impossible for him to regain it.  That being said, they say winning heals all wounds. If Russell comes out next year and balls out, he can put the Nick and Iggy fiasco behind him as a non-issue, but if they lose, don’t be surprised if D’angelo is traded to a team for future picks.

And of course, there’s the Jim Buss’s promise: 

“If this doesn’t work in three to four years, if we’re not back on the top — and the definition of top means contending for the Western Conference, contending for a championship — then I will step down because that means I have failed.”

Jim Buss, Buss Family Faces Crucial Moment with the Lakers

 

kobe faceWell, that time has come and Buss is desperate to save his job: could Jim do something out of this world?  He knows that Lakers fans won’t tolerate a rebuild: LA just isn’t allowed to keep losing.  The Lakers can’t keep missing out on key free agents, but now that Kobe is gone and the franchise needs rejuvenation, free-agents will come: but will they stay?

Post-Mamba Depression


If the artist formerly known as Ron Artest is in your rotation and it’s 2016 your team needs to reevaluate their choices.

Watching the Lakers this year was like watching Tracy McGrady shoot airballs while being guarded by the guy from Horrible Bosses:

Those days should be in the rearview though, with Luke Walton coming in after a stellar performance as interim coach for a 73-win team**.  But the Lakers aren’t a 73 win team, and now that Walton is without a championship team, left instead with a smoldering roster featuring  Swaggy P, Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr., and D’angelo Russell, the question is – WHAT THE HELL IS ANYONE SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THAT?

The Lakers should try to accumulate good young talent that can develop along with Luke Walton, but they’re not the Bucks: the Lakers should be winning the Championship, not the Lottery.  Expect some serious moves involving future picks and their young core.  Everyone who thinks the Lakers will get Kevin Durant with this present roster needs to stop listening to Lakers talk radio, cause that shit’s crazy.

Let’s Go on a Buss Ride

I’m probably overestimating how much Jim Buss’ job security will affect the outlook of the team this offseason, but I enjoy imagining the possibilities.  I envision the final scene in Terminator 2 where the T-1000*** is melting, grasping for life in every way possible, but is stuck in a vat, unable to escape its demise.  Jim Buss would blow this already minuscule team into pieces if a remarkable player is available to him.  Bill Simmons suggested that the Lakers may be interested in trading for Paul George: what would that cost the Lakers?  Is it worth it to the Pacers?

Who gives a shit?  Isn’t it more fun to watch the dumpster fire burn in L.A.?****

Are there better options out there other than Paul George?  Paul George is certified super-star, and only a few years removed from a coming-out party in which he took on Lebron James head-to-head; but after a devastating leg injury in last off-season, is George really worth giving up valuable assets for? Indiana will demand the Arc of the Covenant and the Holy Grail just to get a Paul George Fathead, let alone the actual NBA player.  Since the Lakers don’t have the Arc of the Covenant to trade, what else might work?

Superstar Possibilities

 

Lakers trade D’angelo Russell, Larry Nance Jr., Brandon Ingram and a future first-rounder for Paul George.

The Lakers need a lot more than just Paul George, but if they can land one big fish it could bring in free-agents that were either unsure about signing with L.A without him or looking to play alongside a legitimate star.  Judging by their recent moves, the Pacers aren’t looking to trade George – it would be fun if they did, though.

(Will never happen)

Lakers trade D’angelo Russell, Lou Williams and Brandon Ingram and next year’s 1st round pick for James Harden.

Enter the new Kobe!!!!  Statistically James Harden is a superior player t0 Paul George: his ‘VORP’ rating is miles ahead of  George.  In fact, the only comparable to players to Harden are All-Time Greats like LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Steph Curry.

From an eye-test perspective, we know that Paul George and James Harden are not far apart in ability: Harden is far better than George on offense, but George is far superior to Harden on defense.   It’s possible that Harden is interested in coming back home to California and playing close to where he grew up, but this trading their shiny new super-star to be would be inexcusable. But Jim just might be desperate enough to do it.

(Probably not)

Lakers trade D’angelo Russell, the Lakers’ 2017 first-round pick and two second-rounders from 2022 or later for Jimmy Butler

Personally, I don’t believe in Jimmy Butler’s super-stardom as many others do.  He’s a talented player, but at most he’s the the third fiddle on a championship team.  He’s a ball stopper on offense and he takes forever to score, but he can still improve.  On defense, he’s unquestionably talented and versatile, with the valuable ability to guard multiple positions.

(I mean, Chicago’s weird.  They might do it)

What to Expect Next Season

kobe confetti

The Lakers are better off working the draft and signing their young talent players on their second and third contracts so their roster has a mixture of young potential stars and experienced veterans to help their rookies develop.  Trading away young talent – even if there’s trouble in the locker room – is a dangerous way to live in today’s NBA.

Now that the Lakers have drafted Ingram and kept D’angelo, let’s assume they sign some lower end free agents and achieve a slightly better season than last year. If I were them I’d bring in former #1 overall pick Anthony Bennett – he’s only 23 and they can literally get him for nothing. He’ll never be as good as Cleveland hoped, but with the pressure of expectations removed from him, some patience could turn his career around.  Now that the Lakers sent Byron Scott packing, and there are less AARP members on the roster, the Lakers should make progress this season.  If they are able to land a free-agent like Al Horford or Zombie Harrison Barnes*****, the Lakers might have a chance at getting close to 30 wins.

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Footnotes:

*Pending their draft pick signings.

**That he’ll never get credit for.

*** a.k.a. Jim Buss.

****Answer: yes.

*****Harrison Barnes died in the Playoffs this year.

By Jake Gongora