There’s a feeling in Los Angeles that all the Lakers just need a swift kick in the, um, how shall we say, behind to get playing with a sense of urgency again.
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak told NBA.com’s Scott Howard-Cooper he was considering just such a kick.
“Regarding a trade, I may have to,” Kupchak said at the team’s practice facility a day after the convincing loss to their heated rivals, the Celtics. “I’m not saying that I’ve made calls today or I’ll make them tomorrow. But I just don’t think that we’re playing as well as our talent level should allow us….
“I wasn’t (considering making a trade),” Kupchak said. “But it looks as if we may have to. … It’s something I may do in the future. I just don’t think that our talent level is playing as well as they can play. We have an incredibly high payroll and we do that because we have players that normally produce at a high level. And I’m not sure I see that now.”
This may be more threat than reality, but Kupchak has to be thinking about it after recent Lakers performances.
Any trades would likely be around the periphery — the Lakers core is locked up for two seasons beyond this one at top dollar and the Lakers won two titles with that group, they’re not breaking it up because of an off January. After that, it’s not likely anyone is taking the two years and $11.4 million Luke Walton is still owed off the Lakers hands. Or the three years and nearly $22 million Ron Artest still has. It’s not likely the Lakers could find a deal where they got much back for guys like Matt Barnes. They may well be interested if they could bring in a more defensive-minded point guard or a more steady outside shooter, maybe. But who is going to trade them that and risk the wrath of Popovich?
After a couple of days of public flogging and plenty of hand wringing on Los Angeles talk radio about this team’s struggles — being 9-9 against teams over .500 with ugly losses to the Heat and Celtics — it will be interesting to see how the Lakers respond on Thursday night against the Spurs.
If they are flat again, Kupchak may be pushed into action.
As of tomorrow, training camps around the league open, and all the focus goes to the 2016-17 season.
For fun, let’s look back one more time at last season — the 50 top circus shots of last season.
Stephen Curry driving the lane and throwing up prayers once he draws contact (and hitting them), there is Russell Westbrook throwing the inbounds pass off an opponent’s back, and so much more. Enjoy. Then let’s get on with next season.
Kevin Garnett intimidates people. In the machismo-fueled world of professional sports nobody comfortably admits they were intimidated, but in the wake of Garnett announcing his retirement, a number of players stepped forward to say exactly that. And that KG trashed talked them fearlessly.
Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams found a way to avoid that — tell KG he didn’t speak English.
Adams was lucky, KG had a reputation for going harder at foreign-born players with his trash talk and intimidation. Then again Adams is not the kind of guy prone to be intimidated.
Athletes are injecting themselves into the needed national conversation about race, violence, and policing in this nation. That has taken some very public forms, including LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony speaking at the ESPYs, and Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem and leading others to do so. Some NBA players likely will follow Kaepernick’s lead.
Pistons coach/GM Stan Van Gundy likes seeing players speak out.
A couple of his Detroit players — Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris — said they backed the 49ers quarterback. Here is what the never shy Van Gundy said about all of it, via Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.
“I’m encouraged by the fact of what some of those guys stood up and did at the ESPYs and had a conversation,” Van Gundy said. “I’m really proud of the fact that we have guys that not only see the problem, but want to try to do something about it…
“To me, in some ways, (police brutality is) just the most visible to focus on and it goes to deeper inequities in our criminal justice system, our education system so there’s so much to focus on,” Van Gundy said. “I think it’s great that we have players that want to be part of that conversation, and a lot of players that want to go beyond the conversation and be part of the solution.”
Van Gundy has been telling his players part of that solution is to vote.
The players union and NBA sent out a release saying they wanted to work together to create positive change, but details are still vague on what that might be. The only thing we know for sure as we head into the NBA season — with as divided a nation and election as anyone can remember as a backdrop — is that some NBA players are going to try and keep the conversation going.
It was the last game of the group stage of the 2000 Olympic basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics, the USA was taking on France, another USA win on its way to another gold medal.
But what we all remember is this one play — Vince Carter dunking over the 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis.
Best. Dunk. Ever.
Weis was never the same.
In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.
Hat tip to nitramy at NBA Reddit.