Don’t expect Lakers to land Deron Williams or Lamar Odom

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When Lakers’ fans dream, they dream big. With it clear they needed some changes to the roster after getting bounced in the second round for the second consecutive year, they thought big moves, not tweaks.

One of those big moves — get free agent Deron Williams. He fills a need at the point guard spot and would instantly become the second best (at worst) player on the team.

Not going to happen. Lakers fans shouldn’t even bet on the seemingly accepted conventional wisdom they can get Lamar Odom back. From the Los Angeles Times.

(The Lakers) have very little to spend on free agents because they are so far over the luxury-tax threshold. Their biggest tool is the $3-million “mini” mid-level exception.

“I know they don’t have any money to just go out and sign me. It’ll have to be some kind of [trade],” Williams said Wednesday at the E3 Expo, where he promoted the video game “NBA Baller Beats….”

As for Odom, the NBA is standing firm on the relatively new rule that players cannot return to their old teams for a full year after being traded, a change made in the new collective-bargaining agreement last December.

That means Odom cannot return to the Lakers until December, a couple months into the season. Once Dallas either buys out his contract or trades him to another team that buys out his deal (he is scheduled to make $8.2 million but can be bought out for $2.4) Odom will be free to sign anywhere. Except the Lakers. That’s the new rule part of the new labor agreement.

As for trading for Deron Williams, the Nets are not going to do that for Pau Gasol. They might be tempted for Andrew Bynum, but what the Nets really want to do is get a big name player (Dwight Howard) and keep Williams in house. If it’s a sign-and-trade (where Williams now cannot make more than just signing as a free agent) is he going to choose the Lakers and being in Kobe’s shadow over getting to go to his native Dallas and pair with Dirk Nowitzki for the same money?

Not likely. But keep dreaming big, Lakers fans.

Watch Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

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Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.

Pacers fans delivered.

They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.

John Wall returns for Wizards-Grizzlies

AP Photo/Nick Wass
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.

Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.

The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.

“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”

Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.

Pacers president Kevin Pritchard likes tweets critical of Paul George trade

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Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard was widely panned – including by me – for trading Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

Oops.

Oladipo and Sabonis are killing it while George has underwhelmed.

Upon George’s return to Indiana, Pritchard took the opportunity to gloat. The Pacers general manager recently liked these tweets (hat tip: Matt Ellentuck of SB Nation):

This is petty – and I love it. Pritchard earned the victory lap.

Report: Rival executives still expect Paul George to leave Thunder for Lakers

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Paul George has been pretty open about his plans.

He told plenty of people – including the Pacers – he planned to leave for the Lakers in the summer of 2018. Even after the Thunder traded for him, George spoke of the lure of playing for his hometown team.

Of course, George also left the door open to re-signing with Oklahoma City. He proclaimed he’d be dumb to leave if the Thunder reached the conference finals or upset the Warriors.

So far, Oklahoma City (12-14) doesn’t even look like a playoff lock, let alone a team capable of knocking off Golden State or reaching the conference finals. So, cue the inevitable speculation.

Sam Amick of USA Today:

Rival execs still expect Paul to head for the Lakers in free agency

Do these executives have inside information into George’s thinking, or are they just speculating based on already-available information? Some executives are incentivized to drum up the Lakers threat, because they want to trade for George themselves now. If these executives insist George will leave for Los Angeles regardless, they might pry him from Oklahoma City for less.

There’s also a theory George is hyping his desire to sign with the Lakers so a team would have to trade less for him. That got him to the Thunder for what looked like a meager return (but hasn’t been). It might get him to a more favorable situation before the trade deadline without hampering his next team long-term. Of course, this theory isn’t mutually exclusive with George actually signing in Los Angeles. It could just get him better options to choose from this summer.

Surely, the Thunder are trying to parse all this noise. If their season doesn’t turn around, they should explore flipping George rather than risk losing him for nothing next summer. But they should also be wary that he’ll bolt for Los Angeles at first opportunity just because rival executives predict it.