Who’s been the most successful player after leaving the Lakers?

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When Shaquille O’Neal signed with the Lakers, Jerry West took him to the Staples Center Forum and showed him the retired jerseys hanging from the rafters – including those of Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elgin Baylor and West himself.

Great players tend to find there way onto the Lakers, not out of Los Angeles.

Dwight Howard obviously bucked that trend, but his legacy will now hinge of if he can accomplish anything after leaving the Lakers. There will be plenty of time for Howard to prove himself, but for now, who has had the most success after leaving the Lakers?

Honorable mention: Dick Barnett, Bob Boozer, Caron Butler, Archie Clark, James Edwards, Eddie Jones, Brian Winters

3. Clyde Lovellette

The Minneapolis Lakers drafted Lovellette in 1952 and then waited out Lovelette’s amateur/Olympic career and his time working and playing for Phillips Oil Company in Oklahoma. Lovellette played behind George Mikan as a rookie, and after Mikan retired, Lovellette became the Lakers’ top player. In the next three years, Lovellette averaged 20 points and 13 rebounds per game and made two All-Star games.

But Lakers coach John Kundla said his team couldn’t win with Lovellette and traded him to the Cincinnati Royals.

Lovellette had three more 20-10 seasons with Cincinnati and St. Louis and made two more All-Star games. He closed his career with the Celtics, winning titles in both his years with Boston.

2. Shaquille O’Neal

A feud with Kobe Bryant forcing his ouster, Shaq was traded in 2004 to Miami, where it seemed like a young Heat player named Dwyane Wade might become good enough, with the right pieces surrounding them, to help Shaq win a title.

It turned out – even though Shaq was twice named first-team All-NBA with the Heat – Wade was good enough to lead Shaq to a title. There’s no sin in being No. 2 on a championship team, and Shaq still got the first laugh against Kobe after their breakup by winning it all in 2006 (though, Kobe obviously had the last couple laughs), but Shaq was clearly no longer the league’s most dominant player after leaving Los Angeles.

Shaq spent a few years as strange fits with the Suns, Cavaliers and Celtics as his body gradually gave out, but if expectations hadn’t been raised so high by his Laker greatness, he was still pretty good in those final stops.

1. Adrian Dantley

Dantley came into the NBA with quite a pedigree. He played at distinguished DeMatha High School and then at the even-more-distinguished University of Notre Dame, was pick No. 6 overall in the 1976 draft and won Rookie of the Year. But he bounced around the league early in his career, including a season and a half with the Lakers.

Those Lakers also had Jamaal Wilkes, and, deeming the two forwards redundant, they traded Dantley for Spencer Haywood of the Jazz.

Dantley spent seven seasons in Utah, where he twice led the league in scoring, made two All-NBA second teams and was a six-time All-Star. He also thrived for the Detroit Pistons, who traded him during their first championship season for Isiah Thomas’ childhood friend, Mark Aguirre. Dantley hung around a little longer, playing for the Dallas Mavericks and Milwaukee Bucks, but he never won a championship.

Whenever all-time lists are compiled, Dantley is usually underrated. He was a brilliant offensive player in his time thanks to an awesome array of post moves. Dantley ranks in the top 25 in NBA history for points – one spot ahead of Laker great Elgin Baylor, incidentally – and 81 percent of his scoring came after he left the Lakers.

Gregg Popovich says he was ‘guilty of over-coaching’ LaMarcus Aldridge

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LaMarcus Aldridge has been much better for the San Antonio Spurs this season. This comes after a tumultuous offseason in which it became clear that Aldridge was unhappy with his time in Texas.

That information came to light over the summer, and indeed both Aldridge and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich sat down to have a discussion to work out their differences in preparation for the upcoming season.

The results have been stupendous, with Aldridge playing better than ever in San Antonio despite the team lacking star Kawhi Leonard. Aldridge is averaging career highs in points per-100 possessions, which makes sense given his career-high 119 offensive rating.

Apparently part of Popovich’s change in dealing with Aldridge was how he coached him. Popovich told NBA.com recently that he made the mistake of over coaching Aldridge, saying that the veteran didn’t need as much guidance as young star players did when they came to him in the past.

Via NBA.com:

“We broke bread a few times, talked about it, laughed about it, discussed what we thought needed to happen, and frankly 95 percent of it fell on me because I made an error in trying to change him too much. That might sound odd, but he’d been in the league nine years and there’s one way he plays on the offensive end and feels comfortable with. I tried to turn him into Jack Sikma, told him I was going to teach you how to play on the elbow, go on the wing, face up. It was confusing for him. It really didn’t fit his style of play. I was guilty of over coaching in a sense.

“We came to an agreement on what had to happen. Well, on defense, I told him ‘I’m going to get on you like I do everyone else. But on offense, I don’t even want to talk to you. When they double you, kick it. Other than that, you be LaMarcus Aldridge.’ You see the result right now. He’s happy, confident and kicking everybody’s butt.”

Now that everything is sorted for the Spurs, we just have to watch out for them as they gain momentum heading into 2018. Leonard made his debut for the season on Tuesday night against the Dallas Mavericks, and as a publication time he had nine points in 10 minutes.

God help us if Gregg Popovich has finally found a way to make the mercurial LaMarcus Aldridge happy and pair him with a fully healthy Leonard.

Raptors’ Jonas Valanciunas offers advice to Ball brothers on Lithuania

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Lithuania is a hoops-mad country.

The Baltic nation has fewer people in it than the Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area, yet it has three players in the NBA right now — Jonas Valanciunas, Donatas Motiejunas, and Mindaugas Kuzminskas — and has put 11 players in the league total (such as Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Arvydas Sabonis, and Sarunas Marciulionis). The country has won three bronze medals in the Olympics ( 1992, 1996, and 2000). It’s Lithuanian league also has been the launching pad for Celtics’ Aron Baynes to make the NBA.

Now the Ball brothers LiAngelo and LaMelo are headed there on professional contracts.

One of those players — the Raptors’ Valanciunas, had advice for the Ball brothers, speaking to ESPN.

“They’re getting themselves into a great opportunity. Lithuania is beautiful country… We have great basketball history. We’re such a small country, but we have many, many great players. Our basketball school is good., so they chose a really good school. They just gotta work hard — it’s all about working. You can be as good as you can be by working. Talent is one thing, but work you put in, that’s gonna show up.

“If they have any problems, let me know. I can help them out.”

Good luck finding anyone around the NBA who thinks this ends well, especially those who know the Ball family. They are sending a college freshman and a high school junior to a small city in a former Soviet bloc country with a very different culture, that will be a major adjustment. The coach doesn’t speak English and his former American players have not spoken highly of him. The Lithuanian league itself has men — far more physically developed than the Ball brothers — and is known for a physical style of play. It’s also known as a league where the players have a reasonably high hoops IQ and don’t like undisciplined players.

But if LiAngelo and LaMelo have any problems, they can call Valanciunas.

Paul George on return to Indiana Wednesday: “For whatever reason, I’ll be booed”

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This week is the Oklahoma City Thunder’s “you can’t go home again” week of the schedule. On Saturday night, Carmelo Anthony will return to New York where Knicks fans should welcome him with cheers and open arms — he meant a lot to that franchise in recent years — but may very well not.

First up, however, Paul George returns to Indiana in a Thunder uniform Wednesday night.

There’s little doubt how he will be greeted by Indiana fans, who felt betrayed by a man they stuck by through recovery from a severe injury. George knows what is coming,

Here are the key lines from PG13:

“Boos. I honestly wouldn’t think it would be any other way. The Pacers fans outweigh the Paul George fans. That’s what I’m looking forward to. For whatever reason, I’ll be booed, but I’m gonna embrace that. I’m gonna thrive on that.”

For whatever reason? You asked to be traded and fans take that personally. There is no loyalty in sports — I have no problem with players asking out because teams show no hesitancy in dumping players they no longer have a use for (and fans are almost always good with that) — but he had to know how this would be taken in Indiana.

What George might want to worry about is stopping the red-hot Victor Oladipo (he averaged 35.7 points per game last week), because he and the Pacers are playing better than the Thunder right now.

Kawhi Leonard returns Tuesday on minutes restriction

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The Spurs have been the Spurs this season, going 19-8 with an elite defense and offense that’s good enough to get them wins, thanks to LaMarcus Aldridge playing at an All-Star level.

Starting Tuesday, they add Kawhi Leonard back to the mix.

He will return to the lineup against Dallas, but will be on a minutes restriction, coach Gregg Popovich said on Tuesday. He would not say how many minutes, although around 20 seems a logical starting spot.

Leonard is one of the five best players in the NBA (and that may be selling him short). He averaged a career-high 25.5 points a game last season, he’s arguably the best perimeter defender in the NBA, and he finished third in the MVP voting last season.

However, there are going to be adjustments. LaMarcus Aldridge has been the focal point of the offense, but he could see fewer touches, particularly in crunch time. Kyle Anderson could see fewer minutes, and Rudy Gay may as well because Popovich liked some small-ball lineups last season with Leonard at the four. A lot of players will see their rotations change.

That said, it’s the Spurs. Do we really expect them to be anything but an incredibly good regular season team? One that is about to get better?