Last season was not the most fun Pau Gasol has ever had in the NBA. Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant were soaking up his post touches, Mike Brown’s offense had him at the elbow and at other times as a glorified stretch four. He was not used well.
Gasol has to love the Dwight Howard for Andrew Bynum trade. For a whole lot of reasons.
Starting with he never wanted to leave Los Angeles. He likes living in a diverse city where there are touches of his native Barcelona — José Andrés’ The Bazaar for food, the weather — as well as a nice lifestyle near the beach. Now he stays (at least for a few years until his contract runs out). Now he has Kobe Bryant saying Gasol will be a Laker as long as he is there (which again is not a long-term guarantee).
But on the court Howard is a better fit with Gasol. Howard isn’t a guy just going to the block, he is also a very effective pick-and-roll big man — he shot 74 percent when he got the ball back rolling to the rim last year. And now it is Steve Nash running that play a lot of the time. Howard may stay out top, giving Gasol room to operate in the post at points. (Howard and Kobe will get touches there as well.)
Gasol will get mismatches at the four he can exploit. He will get runs with the second unit where the offense will go through him. If the Lakers do move to more of a Princeton offense, Gasol will get a lot of touches because of his passing skills.
And on defense Howard will make everything easier. He will clean up a lot of mistakes and shut down a lot of pick-and-rolls.
Don’t worry, at some point this season Kobe is going to rip Gasol to the media because Gasol will be coasting. Gasol does not bring Kobe’s nightly fire to the game.
But he does bring a lot of skills and a lot of things that were key to the Lakers winning two rings. And now maybe he will get the chance to use them rather than being forced out of his comfort zones like last year.
The Raptors promoted Jeff Weltman, still working under Masai Ujiri, to general manager last year.
That paid off for Toronto when the Magic hired Weltman as their new president.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
The Magic have their own and the Lakers’ second-round picks next year. Even the lower of those two selections could be somewhat value.
In other words, Weltman’s already-difficult job is getting even harder simply by Orlando hiring him.
LeBron James has discussed chasing Michael Jordan’s “ghost,” motivating himself by trying surpass Jordan as the greatest player in NBA history.
Just 27 points behind Jordan for the all-time playoff scoring lead – a record he could break in Cavaliers-Celtics Game 5 tonight – LeBron is again discussing that pursuit.
LeBron, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
“It’s just a personal goal of mine,” James said Thursday before Cavs shootaround in preparation of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics. “It has nothing to do with passing the rings, passing the points, passing MVPs. It’s just my personal goal to keep me motivated — that’s all.”
“You guys are going to have the conversations about who is greatest of all time and things of that nature,” James said. “It doesn’t matter to me. At the end of the day, it’s so funny that the conversation is always talked about in the NBA about who is the greatest but it’s never talked about in the NFL about who is the greatest quarterback. It’s just like: [Dan] Marino, [John] Elway, [Peyton] Manning and [Tom] Brady. All great quarterbacks, you know — and it should be the same for us.
Jordan or LeBron? Save your hot takes. LeBron just burnt them all.
The greatest quarterback of all time is never debated? Claiming that is now the hottest take in the entire realm of the Jordan-LeBron debate.
BOSTON (AP) — Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue says that Kyrie Irving‘s left ankle is feeling “good” in advance of Cleveland’s Game 5 matchup Thursday night with the Celtics.
Irving was moving around and putting up shots during the Cavs’ morning shootaround.
The All-Star rolled his ankle in the third quarter of Game 4 when he stepped on Terry Rozier‘s foot. Irving was able to stay on the floor and finish the game, scoring a career playoff-high 42 points.
Cleveland leads Boston 3-1 and can wrap up its third straight Eastern Conference title Thursday night.
Several Celtics are also fighting injuries as they try to stave off elimination.
Jaylen Brown is listed as questionable with a right hip pointer. Jae Crowder is probable with a left groin strain, and Amir Johnson is probable with a right shoulder sprain.
LaVar Ball said his son, highly touted draft prospect Lonzo Ball, would work out for only the Lakers.
You thought he was bluffing?
Celtics president Danny Ainge, whose team holds the No. 1 pick, on 98.5 the Sports Hub:
We just tried to get him in for a workout, and they politely said no.
It’s not ideal.
Listen, we’ve drafted guys that wouldn’t come in for workouts before. I mean, it’s not the end of the world. We’ve watched them play a ton. We have a lot of information on them.
Good for Ball. Professional sports teams already hold inordinate power over players entering the workforce. In no other industry are top young employees assigned to a particular company, the worst-performing companies typically getting priority, with no ability to bargain with competitors.
Ball wants to play for the Lakers, who offer proximity to his family and hold the No. 2 pick. He can’t force Boston to pass on him or Los Angeles to pick him. But he can influence decision-making.
It seemed likely the Celtics would draft Markelle Fultz, and though they could still pick Ball, him declining a workout with Boston makes that only less likely. The Lakers will probably draft Ball, but this plan carries risk. If they pass, he could fall once he gets to teams less familiar with him.
Still, Ball deserves to decide for himself how to manage his career – especially in such a closed job market. Not working out for the Celtics is probably his best path to getting where he wans to go.