A few diehard Lakers fans are still clinging on to the hope they could win an NBA title this season.
Why? Why is the team itself still optimistic? Because they still have so much talent, something Kevin Ding explains at the Orange Country Register. That talent hasn’t been healthy or fit together all that well yet, the defense and bench are in question, but the possibility of what that talent could bring keeps title hopes alive in Lakers nation.
Charles Barkley would like to crush those hopes.
He was on The Dan LeBatard Show on 790 The Ticket in Miami and did not mince words when asked if the Lakers could win a title this year (thanks to Sports Radio Interviews).
“None. Zero. Zero chance. I think Oklahoma City, Memphis and the Spurs are the three best teams in the West. I still have my concerns. Everybody is on the Clippers’ bandwagon. I don’t like their half-court offense. I don’t like their free throw shooting. I love Chris Paul. I said it for years. I thought Jason Kidd was the best leader in the NBA. I passed that mantle, in my personal opinion, to Chris Paul, but I don’t like their half-court offense.”
Earlier in the interview Barkley reiterated what he said on TNT — the Lakers look old and slow.
It’s hard to see the Lakers even getting above a six seed after the hole they have dug themselves. They are not catching OKC or San Antonio, and despite Barkley’s concerns they are not catching the Clippers in the regular season either. (I don’t share Barkley’s concerns about the Clippers, but we will see where they are come March and April.) The West is deep with good teams and while I expect the Lakers make the playoffs they have made their playoff road much more difficult.
Barkley sees what we all do out East — the Miami Heat are the best team and look like a force of nature when they are focused. The Knicks have had some backsliding of late and they still might be the most likely second best in the East (maybe if the Pacers get Danny Granger back and Roy Hibbert out of his slump they can step into that role).
A new Collective Bargaining Agreement is expected to be finished soon, but with months until the current deal expires, both the owners and players can afford to take their time and get the details right.
Both sides reportedly agreed to keep the age minimum – which requires players to be 19 and one year removed from their high school class’ graduation – in place.
David Aldridge of NBA.com:
Other issues, like the age limit for players entering the league, are still on the table. The league has long sought to increase the age limit from its current 19, and at least one year removed from one’s high school class, to at least 20 years of age. The union has talked about a “zero and two” setup, similar to that used by baseball — players can enter the Draft out of high school, but if they choose to go to college, they have to stay in college at least two years (in baseball, it’s three years) before declaring for the Draft.
The union wants to lower the age minimum. Adam Silver wants to raise it.
Most likely, the current one-and-done rule remains in place.
But a zero-or-two setup could be an interesting compromise. That would allow players certain they’re ready for the pros out of high school to declare for the NBA draft. In all other cases, Silver would get his wish.
Again, the status quo likely remains in tact. But it’s good both sides are discussing the issue to see whether there’s a better solution.
Take comfort, chairs and staffers.
The 76ers have raised Joel Embiid‘s minute limit from 24 to 28.
Jessica Camerato of CSN Philly:
This was never a hard limit. Embiid played more than 24 minutes in five of his 12 games with a high of 27 in an overtime contest. Presumably, the new “limit” will also allow for Embiid to sometimes it.
Embiid’s numbers per 36 minutes are eye-popping: 28.6 points, 12.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 3.8 blocks and 6.4 turnovers. A small workload likely factors into his per-minute dominance, and he’s still a long way from typical starter minutes. But I’m interested to see how his production translates over a larger sample.
The 76ers, in their mission to be less bad this season, will also appreciate a few more minutes of Embiid. They defend like the NBA’s second-best defense with him on the floor and the league’s second-worst defense without him. They also score a little better with him. Overall, they get outscored by just 2.2 points per 100 possessions with him and a whopping 14.2 points per 100 possessions without him.
This could give Philadelphia a couple extra wins over the rest of the season. At minimum, it’ll make the 76ers more enjoyable to watch for a few more minutes each game.
Opponents shoot just 41.8% at the rim with Rudy Gobert defending it – which is now second to Hassan Whiteside among the 50 players who defend the most shots at the rim per game.
But James Johnson went up with no fear, scoring two of his 24 points in the Heat’s 111-110 win over the Jazz last night.
The Hornets didn’t just beat the Mavericks, 97-87, last night.
Nicolas Batum got Charlotte style points with this pass through Dwight Powell‘s legs, assisting Cody Zeller.