Lakers owner says it is no accident they have 2014 cap space

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It wasn’t LeBron James directly, that is just sort of a happy coincidence.

But it is no accident that in a couple years the Lakers are going to have a boatload of salary cap space.

Lakers owner Jim Buss — his father Jerry still owns the team but Jim is the guy running the show now — told Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register the plan was to have maximum flexibility the year Kobe Bryant’s contract ended, the summer of 2014.

“We purposely ended all contracts that year,” Buss said. “I can’t talk about Kobe (Bryant), but this is what he signed till. So basically we put everything to that, and we want to make a big splash in the free-agent market if we get to that spot. So we designed the contracts and the players and our future all around that….

“Yeah, depending on the free agents that year,” Buss said. “We would basically, money-wise, be able to sign the top free agent – maybe even two. I don’t know the numbers exactly, because we’re not privy to what the cap is and how much room we have, but it’s going to be close to two of the top free agents that year.”

Right now the only Lakers contract on the books for that season is Steve Nash at $9.7 million. You can expect Dwight Howard will be added to that list in the neighborhood of $21 million when he re-signs with the team this summer (he could technically leave but I wouldn’t bet on it). That’s a little over $30 million on the books, which even with the salary cap where it is now would leave them $28 million to chase free agents. That’s at least one max free agent.

A bunch of you just read that and said “the rich get richer” or something like that. Maybe with more curse words in there. And you’re ready to go off on your “the NBA is fixed” rant.

But what the Lakers are doing is something Portland or Memphis or Washington or any team can do — clear out cap space to chase the biggest names in the game.

It’s what the Heat did successfully under Pat Riley — they took a huge risk but it paid off. Other teams, including the Knicks and Nets, have tried similar strategies but it doesn’t always work.

It just always seems to work for the Lakers. Because if you’re a big market and willing to take risks like this, the Memphis’ of the world will almost always lose out no matter how prepared they are.

2017 NBA playoffs have been historically uncompetitive

AP Photo/Elise Amendola
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The NBA Finals so many wanted to see – Cavaliers-Warriors III – is here.

At least it will be.

Today is the first of six off days before the 2017, which begin June 1 in Oakland.

The lengthy delay is the product of an underwhelming postseason featuring few competitive series and numerous blowouts.

Golden State swept its way through the West, and Cleveland dropped only one game (to the Celtics in the conference finals) while winning the East. There have been only two Game 7s, but considering the magnitude, neither felt that compelling. Blake Griffin‘s injury undercut the Clippers against the Jazz, and Celtics over Wizards felt inevitable with home teams winning each game of the series. Between, there have been several lackluster games and series.

There have been just 74 playoff games this year – the fewest before the Finals since since the NBA instituted a best-of-seven first round in 2003:

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That’s 74 of a possible 98 games – 76%, the lowest since 1999 and seventh-lowest ever.

Even if the Finals go seven games, it will be the fewest games in a postseason since 2007. If the Finals go five or fewer games, it’ll be the shortest postseason in this playoff format.

And it hasn’t just been quantity. The quality of games has been lacking, too.

Though there were more blowouts last year by nearly any measure, the 2017 postseason’s average margin in pre-Finals games (13.5) is fifth-highest all-time and second-highest since 1959 (behind 2016, 14.2).

Combine the two factors, and these are the drabbest playoffs in nearly 50 years. Here’s each postseason plotted by average margin in pre-Finals games and percentage of possible games pre-Finals:

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This probably just confirms what you’ve seen: The 2017 playoffs have been in a rut.

We’re all counting on the Cavaliers and Warriors to salvage this postseason, but considering how deep the hole is, anything less than an epic Finals probably won’t cut it.

Kyrie Irving crosses over Avery Bradley, hits 3-pointer (video)

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Avery Bradley got around one screen then, thanks to Kyrie Irving‘s excellent ball-handling, lunged at another that wasn’t coming as Irving hit a 3-pointer.

LeBron James beautifully pass-fakes, makes layup in transition (video)

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LeBron James is a treasure.

Shaquille O’Neal’s big toe is seriously jacked up (PHOTO)

shaq o'neal
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Remember how we we all freaked out when we saw pictures of LeBron James‘ feet back in 2013?

You probably didn’t want to be reminded that it existed, but it does. Still. And apparently jacked up feet is the consequence of a lifetime of playing professional basketball. Once can only assume it has something to do with tight shoes and constant, hard changes of direction in said tight shoes.

We got yet another vision of what basketball shoes can do to feet on Thursday when TNT analyst Shaquille O’Neal showed off his, er, little piggies.

Much to the horror of the Internet in general, it was Shaq’s right big toe that took social media by storm. Mostly because it’s not even close to pointing in the right direction.

I’m going to show you what it looks like. Be forewarned, it might just be NSFL.

Via Twitter:

Oh. Oh … why?

Social media reacted appropriately and proportionately:

Shaq did have issues with that toe during the course of his career, and at one point it was so bad that he had to have surgery to remove bone spurs from the toe in 2002.

That still doesn’t explain why it’s all over your TV and the Internet, but here we are. I am sorry.