Needs: Considering the fact that the Lakers have just three players signed to guaranteed contracts for next season in Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Robert Sacre, there are glaring needs at virtually every position. They will take the best remaining talent available once it’s their turn on the clock, and whether it’s a guard, wing or big man, whoever it is should be someone who can be a solid, productive NBA player for many seasons to come.
Trade possibilities: The problem here for the Lakers is also their strength, which is that with only three players under contract, there’s nothing to offer along with their seventh pick in order to truly make some noise. It’s nice to have all that flexibility in case there are desirable options in free agency, but in terms of making a deal in advance of the draft, having no players to package with the pick would appear to be a substantial hinderance.
Besides, L.A. needs young talent as much as it needs superstars. A trade of any kind seems extremely unlikely, if not completely impossible.
Predictions: Before it was revealed that Joel Embiid would require foot surgery, it seemed as though the Lakers would be in line to grab either Julius Randle or Noah Vonleh with the seventh overall pick — either of whom would have been fine choices. But Embiid may fall now, though just how much remains to be seen.
The reality is that this is a very deep draft, and there will be plenty of surprises with how the top of the draft order plays out. The Lakers will have multiple players available who could fill a need from a talent standpoint, but just as it is with any team, choosing wisely will be crucial to the team’s rebuilding effort and its chances to begin to piece together a roster geared toward long-term success.
Potential No. 1 pick Joel Embiid suffers stress fracture
Report: Derrick Rose away from Cavaliers, evaluating his future in basketball
Rose has been out with what seemed like a relative minor, for him at least, ankle injury. The 29-year-old could stick in the league for a while thanks to his reputation and ability to attack the rim to create shots for himself. But the guard is a shell of peak form after years of more serious injuries. This isn’t the career anyone expected for him when he was named the youngest MVP ever in 2011.
The Suns made Mike James – a 27-year-old rookie on a two-way contract – their starting point guard.
Though he eventually ceded the role to Tyler Ulis, James – the only player on a two-way contract to start an NBA game – is still a rotation regular. He’s an aggressive defender and possesses plenty of offensive moves.
The problem: Unless demoted to Phoenix’s minor-league affiliate before then, he’ll max out the 45 allowable NBA days for a two-way player Dec. 6.
We’d still like to get him on the 15-man roster and we’re looking at different ways to do that.
The Suns can unilaterally convert James’ two-contract into a standard one-year minimum deal. Both sides could also negotiate a longer contract.
The bigger issue is clearing a roster spot.
Phoenix has the maximum 15 players with standard contracts with no obvious cuts. Derrick Jones Jr. doesn’t play much, but the 20-year-old’s athleticism creates intriguing upside. Second-rounder Davon Reed is hurt, though teams rarely cut bait so quickly.
The Celtics established themselves as one of the NBA’s elite teams, a contender for the Eastern Conference title, during their 16-game win streak.
However, that hot streak to start the season will matter as much as Thanksgiving leftovers in the back of the refrigerator in April by the time the playoffs roll around. This is a team that still has work to do.
“There’s still a lot to accomplish going forward,” Irving said. “It was a nice streak. But it was time to come to an end.”
This team still needs to get better and more consistent. The Celtics had to come from behind in the fourth quarter in eight of the 16 wins, and while the team defense was impressive the offense still can be hit and miss. Al Horford and Kyrie Irving play well off each other, but this is still the 20th ranked offense in the NBA. They are taking more long midrange jumpers than most coaches want, but the bigger challenge is they have not been finishing around the basket.
Titles are not won in November. Irving gets that. Jayson Tatum will hit the rookie wall at some point (they all do) and he needs to prove he can break through. Al Horford is playing maybe the best ball of his career and needs to keep it up. The Celtics need to keep their defensive focus (the fundamentals are there to have a top five defense). I could go on but you get the point, and so does Irving — there is a lot of work for this team to do.
Boston is off to a fantastic start, but it’s just that.