The Lakers are two time defending NBA champions. And when they tip off next season, they will have improved. Chew on that for a second, Miami.
The Lakers got better at the wing by signing Matt Barnes on Thursday night. The Lakers could offer only $1.7 million this year, next year it would be $1.9 million but Barnes will have an opt out.
Barnes turned down more money, a reported $3.5 million a year for three years from Cleveland. He certainly would have gotten more playing time. But if Barnes was not going to play for a contender, he wanted even more money.
Barnes is coming home — he went to UCLA in college, where he may have been a better wide receiver than a basketball player. Maybe not, but it was pretty close.
The Lakers will now bring Barnes off the bench on the wing, spelling Ron Artest and Kobe Bryant, giving the Lakers some toughness and defense off the bench. Barnes is not a good a defender as his reputation, he shot only 32 percent from three last season. But he plays within himself, can attack the rim, get out and run and makes good decisions.
He also fits with the Lakers theme of versatility. They like guys who can play multiple positions, allowing them to create a host of matchup problems. Barnes can play the two or the three. He is long and athletic.
If the Lakers had a weakness last season, it was that their bench was Lamar Odom and a prayer. Now Steve Blake will come in and be a step up at the one from Fisher, and Barnes can come in at the wing, while Odom will be the four. Basically, the Lakers are eight deep with really good players, plus they have Luke Walton and Sasha Vujacic.
The Lakers are better. That is scary for the league.
NBA teams cut their rosters to a maximum of 15 players yesterday. Only one team, the Bulls, has just 14 players.
That means there are 449 players in the NBA as the season tips off tonight.
How many of them can you name?
Take these two quizzes, one for the Eastern Conference and one for the Western Conference. Players are in a random order within their teams.
Chandler Parsons missed the Mavericks’ final 18 games last season, including the playoffs, due to knee problems.
Now with the Grizzlies, his games missed streak will hit 19.
Michael Wallace of Grizzlies.com:
Maybe this is just a blip. Parsons will get healthy soon enough and diversify Memphis’ offense.
But Dallas didn’t make a stronger push to keep Parsons due to his knees. We could look back on this and chastise the Grizzlies for signing someone to a max contract who wasn’t even ready to play in the first place. They have big plans for Parsons, but he must play for those to work.
Brandan Wright just can’t get healthy. Maybe Memphis will believe this injury warrants missing time.
When it’s news your expected opening-night starting point just makes the team, you’re in a bad place.
But we already knew that about the Kings.
With Darren Collison suspended the season’s first eight games and Garrett Temple the only other point guard with a guarantee salary, Sacramento – despite his preseason problems – will turn to Ty Lawson.
The Sacramento Kings today waived guards Jordan Farmar and Isaiah Cousins, according to Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Vlade Divac.
That allows Sacramento to keep Lawson. Lawson was a good starting point guard until last season, when he struggled with the Rockets and Pacers. Can he re-find the groove he had with the Nuggets? If so, the Kings might be alright. If not, they’re in for a rough start. That Lawson had to settle for a make-good contract says plenty about expectations.
Farmar was Sacramento’s other swing at an experienced point guard. Losing this job to Lawson bodes poorly for his NBA future.
With Cousins, the No. 59 pick, the Kings become the third team to relinquish rights on a 2016 draft pick already. The Celtics waived No. 51 pick Ben Bentil, and the Jazz dropped No. 55 pick Marcus Paige.
Archie Goodwin had been stuck behind better guards with the Suns, most notably Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight.
But when Goodwin lost playing time to someone better and younger – Devin Booker – it became time to exit Phoenix.
Suns general manager Ryan McDonough complied.
Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic:
McDonough said they did not see a way Goodwin would play meaningful time in a fourth Suns season.
“We told Archie Goodwin and his agent at the end of last season that if there wasn’t going to be an opportunity for him to play going into the last year of his deal, that we would try to help him get to a good spot,” McDonough said. “We explored some trade scenarios throughout the summer and into the fall. We tried to help him get elsewhere in a trade.“
Unable to fulfill a trade request from the Goodwin camp, the Suns waived the 22-year-old
This allows Phoenix to keep two players without guaranteed salaries, John Jenkins and Derrick Jones Jr.
Jenkins, the No. 23 pick in the 2012 draft, previous played for the Hawks and Mavericks. He looks like a good spot-up shooter and shot well from beyond the arc in Phoenix after being claimed on waivers last season. But he was dreadful from beyond the arc in Dallas and has had other lulls prior. Despite quality defensive rebounding for a shooting guard, he’s a defensive minus.
Undrafted out of UNLV, Jones is a phenomenal athlete. But he needs to develop his skills and, at 6-foot-7 and 190 pounds, his body. He’s an intriguing project.
So was Goodwin, but the guard didn’t progress enough in three NBA seasons. He remains a lousy 3-point shooter and unreliable defender. His ability to penetrate goes only so far without better finishing or floor vision.
Goodwin’s athleticism and raw tools could convince a team to take a flier on him. But he has a long way to go to being a helpful NBA player. The team that knows him best being willing to let him walk says something.