The Lakers' backcourt is going to look dramatically different next season


It was pointed at as a significant weakness all year, and now it’s looking like the Los Angeles Lakers backcourt, despite being good enough to win a championship, will go through dramatic shakeups this summer.

First up is Shannon Brown, or as I like to call him, “King of the Missed Garbage Time Dunk.” NBA FanHouse spoke with Brown’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, who said that Brown “probably will” opt out of his contract and join The Free Agency Summer of Doom.

Brown is a considerable asset, coming from the NBA D-League and bouncing around before finding his way to the Lakers. Brown excelled in games when Kobe Bryant was injured, showing offensive versatility and an aggressiveness, especially when freed from the confines of the Triangle system.

Brown is a perfect example of a trend in the NBA, where championship players (especially for the Lakers) who aren’t particularly excellent outside of their specific role positions on championship level squads, are able to translate their team’s success into massive contracts. Brown will probably find a willing bidder looking for a point guard or combo guard, and could get considerably more than the paltry $2.49 million he’s otherwise owed by the Lakers next season.

Jordan Farmar, on the other hand, is not in such an enviable position. Farmar was slated to take over for Fisher when the zombie-like point guard ever decided to retire or when Farmar became too valuable for a bench role. But a series of flaps on the floor have landed him in Phil Jackson’s doghouse, and it looks like he, too, will be searching for greener pastures.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles reports that Farmar told the LA press “goodbye” in case he’s gone this summer.

Farmar has never really fit in with the triangle. It takes a certain type of guard, and that, combined with Jackson’s traditional reliance on a veteran point guard that knows his role and doesn’t try to create, has limited Farmar’s opportunities for the Lakers. Point guard is a premium position in this league (recognize that only one, maybe two will be drafted in Thursday’s draft). Farmar will find candidates.

One such option might be the Memphis Grizzlies, who have been shopping to solidify their backcourt as Mike Conley’s shot has improved but little else. Farmar will want a starting job, but there may be few of those opportunities. However, there will be ample chances for him to earn the top spot in camp.

The Lakers backcourt is going to look very different next season, with or without Derek Fisher.

Byron Scott isn’t thinking about next year’s draft

Byron Scott

A month into the season, the Lakers the only team in the Western Conference that can absolutely be written out of any hopes of playoff contention. They’re in an awkward position with the upcoming draft: they still need talent long-term, and they owe their pick to the Sixers if it’s outside of the top three. Not surprisingly, Byron Scott isn’t thinking about it at all.

Via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:

With the Lakers fielding the NBA’s second-worst record, how much effort will the franchise put in retaining its top-3 protected draft pick?

“I don’t think about that whatsoever,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “I probably won’t until April. That’s something I can’t control.”

The Lakers are in a precarious position. They appear likely bad enough to lose a lot of games. But will they lose enough to land in the top three? Otherwise, the Lakers owe Philadelphia their first-round pick as part of the Steve Nash trade.

“It’s impossible to think about the team, try to get our young guys better, the team better and also thinking about a pick,” Scott said. “That’s six months away and you might not even get it.”

Given Scott’s mentality, it’s not at all surprising that he isn’t thinking about the draft. But with his insistence on playing Kobe Bryant and Lou Williams more crunch-time minutes on this dismal Lakers team than D'Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson, it’s pretty laughable that he talks about wanting to develop their young players.

Scott may not be thinking about the draft, but with the position the franchise is in and the likelihood that they lose their pick, he should be.

Report: Jahlil Okafor stopped for driving 108 MPH three weeks ago

Jahlil Okafor, Derrick Favors

Jahlil Okafor‘s first month in the NBA has been eventful for all the wrong reasons. Early Thanksgiving morning, he was caught on video getting into a fight with a heckler in Boston. Then, a report surfaced of another altercation from October, in which Okafor apparently had a gun pulled on him. Now, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Okafor was recently pulled over in Philadelphia for driving 108 miles per hour:

Four sources independently confirmed to The Inquirer the 76ers center was pulled over on the Ben Franklin Bridge around three weeks ago for 108 miles per hour. Anything over 40 m.p.h. is considered reckless driving.

108 miles per hour in a 40-mile zone isn’t a minor speeding infraction—it’s incredibly dangerous. It might be possible to write off any of these incidents by themselves—particularly the one where he had a gun pulled on him, which doesn’t seem to have been his fault at all. But together, the Boston incident and this speeding report aren’t a good look at all for Okafor. He’s had a solid start to the year for the Sixers, but off the court has been another story.

Harrison Barnes could be out “a few weeks” with ankle injury

Harrison Barnes
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The Warriors’ Friday night 135-116 win over the Suns was bittersweet: Harrison Barnes suffered a sprained left ankle in the third quarter and left for the remainder of the game. He missed Saturday night’s blowout win over the Kings as well, which extended the Warriors’ best-ever start to the season to 18-0.

Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton didn’t have an answer for how long Barnes will be out, but he said it could be a few weeks.

Via’s Ethan Sherwood Strauss:

“He’s being evaluated [Saturday]. We haven’t gotten the results back yet,” interim head coach Luke Walton told reporters before Saturday’s game. “It’s all speculation. It could be a few weeks. It could be a week.

“We’re not going to rush him back because we want to be healthy for later in the season and we don’t want lingering injures, so we’ll have him take his time.”

Losing a starter is never good news, but the silver lining for the Warriors is that they have enough depth and enough of a cushion to be able to take their time and not rush Barnes back. Saturday night, Walton opted to keep Andre Iguodala in his usual sixth-man role and instead start the little-used Brandon Rush in Barnes’ place. Rush responded with a 16-point performance, shooting 4-of-5 from the three-point line. If they can keep getting that kind of production out of their reserves, the Warriors will be able to withstand the loss of Barnes just fine.

Emmanuel Mudiay with the no-look, behind-the-head assist (VIDEO)

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Emmanuel Mudiay is still a work in progress on the court — he’s a rookie, what did you expect? — but he has the court vision and flair you cannot teach.

As evidence, I present this pass from Saturday night, where in transition Mudiay goes with the no-look, behind-the-head dish to Darrell Arthur for the dunk.

The Nuggets dropped this game to the Mavericks 92-81 and have lost six in a row.