Lakers not actively trying to trade Pau Gasol. Not yet, anyway.

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Can you have a Lakers season where a chunk of their fans don’t want to trade Pau Gasol?

It hasn’t happened yet, but for the first time since Gasol came to Los Angeles from Memphis and was central to them winning two NBA titles, there may be some validity to the talk.

Gasol is struggling to find his niche in Mike D’Antoni’s offense — he had 13 points on seven shot attempts in the win over Dallas, but had six and eight points in the two losses before that. He was benched in the fourth quarter of the loss to the Grizzlies. Gasol wants more touches in the post. D’Antoni’s offense is not really designed for two big men (it isn’t really designed for one traditional post player) and Gasol feels like the odd man out.

That has led some around the league to think Gasol will go on the market, but it hasn’t happened yet reports the Los Angeles Times.

The Lakers aren’t actively looking to trade Gasol right now, The Times has learned, because they want to see what happens when Nash returns from a small fracture in his leg.

After that, there are two important dates: Dec. 15 is when teams can deal players they signed during the off-season, opening up about 20% more of the NBA’s player pool; and Feb. 21, the league’s trade deadline.

Gasol’s passing skills, midrange jump shots and fluid moves in the post made him a natural fit in Phil Jackson’s triangle. While some of the less savvy Lakers fans decided Gasol was soft and wouldn’t let the label go (even after he outplayed Dwight Howard in the post in the 2010 NBA finals) the team saw his value.

But in the current Lakers offense, what is valued more is outside shooting and the Lakers don’t have it. Obviously the Lakers are not going to trade Kobe Bryant (too valuable to the franchise and too good a player), Steve Nash isn’t going anywhere because he is the lynchpin to the D’Antoni offense, and Dwight Howard is the future (if the Lakers can re-sign him as expected).

Which makes Gasol ripe for trade speculation. And there would be a market for him, there just are not other skilled big men like him around.

But he is making $19 million this season and $19.3 million next season — there are not a lot of teams willing to take that on, and none really willing to give equal value back. The Lakers may take less value if it includes outside shooters, but there likely will have to be a bad contract in there to balance it out.

It’s not happening yet. It may not be happening for a while (we don’t even have a return date for Nash to the Lakers yet), but know the Gasol trade speculation and rumors will be back with a vengeance this season.

LeBron James says he has scratched cornea, could sit Saturday vs. Wizards

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With time running down in the third quarter, LeBron James went hard to the basket for a layup, and the shot was contested by Jeremy Lamb, who ended up poking LeBron in the eye on the play.

It isn’t intentional, but it looks painful.

 

 

That blow could have LeBron sitting out Saturday night when the Cavaliers take on the Washington Wizards in Cleveland. From Joe Varden of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

LeBron James said he suffered a scratched cornea in his right eye in Friday’s 112-105 win over Charlotte after being examined by a Hornets team physician.

James, who scored 32 points in 40 minutes, could not keep his right eye open during his postgame interview session and said his vision was blurry… Summing it all up, James said “if coach decides to give me a game off (Saturday), it’s not because I’m resting. It’s because I’m banged up.”

He was treated by the Hornets’ team doctor who administered eye drops, but the Cavaliers will make the call closer to game time depending on how LeBron is feeling.

The Cavaliers are 0-6 without LeBron this season. They also have just a one-game lead over the Celtics for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. (Boston beat Phoenix on Friday, despite Devin Booker dropping 70, and they have a key game with the Heat on Sunday.) That said, the Cavaliers are two games up in the loss column on the Celtics, which is a decent lead, but the Cavs need to start winning consistently.

And beating a hot Washington team will not be easy even with LeBron.

NBA reacts to Suns’ Devin Booker dropping 70 on Celtics

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Devin Booker was the story of the NBA Friday night.

The 20-year-old Suns’ guard — who never scored more than 19 points in a game at Kentucky in college — dropped 70 on the Boston Celtics in a losing effort. He becomes only the sixth player in NBA history to score at least 70 in a game. At the end the Suns were fouling and calling time outs to stop the clock and get the ball back to Booker, but as Phoenix coach Earl Watson said to those who complained, “You got a problem with that? Do something. Simple as that.”

NBA Twitter exploded at what Booker did.

Booker himself responded this way.

Lonzo Ball makes expected official, declares for NBA Draft

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There was no hesitation. None was expected.

After UCLA was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in the Sweet 16 by Kentucky, the Bruin’s Lonzo Ball — who is expected to be a top-three pick — declared for the NBA draft this June.

Ball is expected to go second or third in the upcoming NBA draft. Speaking with people around the league Washington’s Markelle Fultz is a clear No. 1, but after that if the Lakers — the team with the second-worst record in the league — have the No. 2 pick they are expected to snap up Ball. Depending on how the lottery shakes out the top of the draft, Ball could fall a little — there are teams that like Josh Jackson — but not much.

Ball is a 6’6″ point guard who averaged 14.7 points, 7.6 assists and 6.1 rebounds a game for UCLA last season. He has fantastic passing vision, impressive shooting range (although he can take some questionable shots), and a great sense of floor spacing and how to run an offense, particularly in transition. However, his weaknesses were exposed in his final game some as De’Aaron Fox of Kentucky completely outplayed Ball. Defensive pressure took Ball (and the Bruins) out of rhythm, forced them to play in the half court (where Ball is not as strong), and it’s one of the things Ball is going to have to adapt to at the next level where everyone is more athletic. Also, he’s going to need to get more consistent defensively.

The potential for Ball to be special is there, which is why he will go high in the draft.

And no, the rantings of his father will not change that. Teams see the father as a distraction that can be handled, they aren’t going to let him get in the way of drafting talent.

Watch highlights of Shaquille O’Neal’s statue unveiling outside Staples Center

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Kobe Bryant said “Thank you. I learned so much from you as a player.”

Jerry West said he loved him like a son.

Jeanie Buss said “No one celebrates a championship like you, but please no more asking Mark Madsen to dance.”

The Lakers unveiled a new statue for Shaquille O’Neal Friday night, one flying high over a Staples Center entrance, and the stars were on hand for the event. Phil Jackson was there making Snoop Dogg jokes. Shaq and Kobe were sharing laughs. It was a big night for a big man with a big personality. And a big heart.

Check out the highlights above.