Greg Monroe

Report: After they strike out with big names Lakers likely to target Lowry, Monroe, Ariza

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It speaks to the mentality of the Lakers and their fans that the first none paragraphs of Ramona Shelburne’s latest on the team at ESPNLosAngeles.com talks about them going after LeBron James and meeting with Carmelo Anthony, and how to help lure those guys they may re-sign Pau Gaol.

The reality is the Lakers lack a win-now infrastructure that Anthony or LeBron would be attracted to — the Lakers have an aging Kobe Bryant and…. not much else right now. Phoenix is in a better spot to add a superstar to their roster and win right now (and they have the cap space to do it).

[MORE: Ranking the Top 50 free agents]

So when the Lakers strike out big game hunting in free agency, where will they turn? Shelburne gets to that.

If they are unable to land Anthony or James, the Lakers are also expected to have a strong interest in Washington free-agent forward Trevor Ariza, Raptors guard Kyle Lowry, Detroit center Greg Monroe and Phoenix forward Channing Frye, according to sources.

Let’s rank these for fun:

1) Kyle Lowry. Lowry would be a good piece next to Kobe Bryant and because he is dynamic and can create shots for himself and others, plus he is a tenacious defender. He would take some of the offensive pressure off Bryant and make whoever they get besides that (likely a bunch of one year contract guys) look better. This question however describes how far things have fallen for the Lakers: Is Lowry willing to leave Toronto and a pretty good team for L.A.?

2) Greg Monroe. He has a very versatile offensive game — can play from the pinch post or the traditional post — is a good passer and just is a generally good player. If Mitch Kupchak is one of the GMs around the league that thinks what has held Monroe’s development back is the Pistons and their system this is a good piece for years to come.

3) Trevor Ariza. Ariza had a really nice contract year for the Wizards — he’s done that before, then fallen off after. Buyer beware. If the Lakers think his three point shooting has really turned the corner he’s a nice pick up, but he’s a third option not a primary one.

4) Channing Frye. You fire Mike D’Antoni and now you go get a stretch four?

I think the question many are asking is if the Lakers strike out with their big swings will they really spend much on anyone to fill out the roster, or will they keep their powder dry for the summer of 2015 (and start looking at trade options).

[MORE: Lakers ‘not ruling out’ Pau Gasol returning in free agency]

Add Kobe Bryant to don’t change hack-a-player crowd

Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant gestures after hitting a three point shot during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Associated Press
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LeBron James is already there. So is Kevin Durant. Same with a lot of other old-school GMs and coaches around the league.

Their response to the rapid rise in hack-a-player (shouldn’t it always be hack-a-Shaq?) instances is “tell the guy to hit the free throws.”

Add Kobe Bryant to their ranks, reports Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is starting to feel differently. He realizes he runs an entertainment business and a parade of guys to the free throw line without because of a non-basketball play — you can’t begin to tell me fouling a guy 50 feet from the ball is a basketball play in the spirit of the rules — is bad for that business. It is unwatchable. And while every coach in the NBA “I hate to do it” they all do it with more and more frequency, there will be more than twice as many instances this season as there were a year ago, with more and more players involved. Because it works, and because they are paid to win, not play beautiful basketball.

Change is coming. Old-school types always bemoan change, and that’s not just a basketball thing. But the rest of the world has rules in place to stop this because they realize it’s not basketball, it’s gaming the system. And it needs to change.

Timofey Mozgov with maybe “best” missed dunk of the season (VIDEO)

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On this play the Sacramento Kings played defense like only they can — and you wonder why George Karl’s job is in danger — and gave Cleveland’s Timofey Mozgov a wide-open lane right down the middle for an easy dunk.

Ooof.

LeBron James had a triple-double (the 40th of his career) and the Cavaliers got a needed easy win, but this is the play you’ll remember.

Karl-Anthony Towns with nasty poster dunk on Dante Cunningham (VIDEO)

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Karl-Anthony Towns is a beast.

While the Timberwolves have plenty of question marks around him, but Towns has been exceptional. Coming into Monday night, he was averaging 21.6 points (on 59.9 percent shooting) and 12.7 rebounds a night in his last 10 games.

Then Monday he did that to Dante Cunningham.

The Pelicans went on to win the game 116-102, but Towns continues to play well.

Report: Come 2017, Knicks have real shot to land Russell Westbrook

during the first half of the NBA game at Talking Stick Resort Arena on February 8, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
Russell Westbrook
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The summer of 2016 is all about Kevin Durant — and we don’t know what Durant is going to do as a free agent because Durant doesn’t yet know what Durant is going to do as a free agent. Stay in Oklahoma City, bolt to the Bay Area or maybe Washington D.C.? These playoffs, meetings with teams and his advisors, plus personal factors all will play a role in Durant’s decision. Which he will get around to announcing in early July sometime.

But the sense around the league is that while Durant may very well stay in Oklahoma City, Russell Westbrook was drawn to the bright lights of big markets. If an elite player were to bolt OKC, this was the more likely guy. Westbrook is a free agent in 2017.

In an article about Phil Jackson and the Knicks in the wake of Derek Fisher’s firing, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports said the Knicks have a real shot at Westbrook in a couple of summers.

The Knicks have a real chance to sell Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook in 2017 – New York and Porzingis have his attention, yes – and Jackson ought to start constructing an elite coaching staff to begin that process with Westbrook and with free agents beyond him.

Come 2017, expect Westbrook to meet with a number of big market teams on both coasts, and then make a decision. The summer of 2017 is a couple of NBA lifetimes away, it’s impossible to say what Westbrook will do (he may well decide to stay in OKC if they win enough), but the big market teams looking for a star will get their turn in the batter’s box.

Which is why I still think Durant signs a 1+1 deal this summer to stay in Oklahoma City for another season — he’s going to give everything another chance to come together for the Thunder, then when the salary cap is at its peak in 2017 (an estimated $108 million) he makes his peak seasons decision. He and Westbrook and Serge Ibaka will all be free agents at the same time, and they can make their calls.

And the Knicks could be involved in all of it.