Brandon Ingram

Rumor: Lakers will not include No. 2 pick, Brandon Ingram in Paul George deal. Why would they?

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With Paul George‘s people telling the Pacers he’s going to be a free agent next summer and wants to head to the Lakers, there is only one reason for the Lakers to get involved in a trade for him now: Fear he gets dealt to Cleveland or Miami or wherever, wins some, decides he likes it and stays.

The Lakers can be proactive and make a trade now, but they shouldn’t give up any player or pick they think has real value. Which brings us to something Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports said in his podcast this week (hat tip RealGM) :

“The Lakers aren’t giving them Brandon Ingram,” added Wojnarowski. “They aren’t giving them the No. 2 pick.”

Why would they? The Lakers shouldn’t overpay for a guy that wants to come there anyway. It probably goes beyond just those two things.

The Lakers might do one young player — Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle — and the 28th overall pick in the draft (via Houston in the Lou Williams deal) to get something done. At most. L.A. would love to unload one of the bad Timofey Mozgov/Luol Deng contracts, but the Pacers are going to ask for more than one young player and one pick to take that on.

The Pacers are going to talk to every team in the league and take the best deal on the table. It’s simple for them. It seems unlikely the Lakers will have the best offer since they believe they can land him a year from now as a free agent and give up nothing.

 

Report: Lakers trying to acquire another first-round pick

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The Lakers, who have the Nos. 2 and 28 picks in the upcoming draft, were reportedly discussing trading the second pick.

What do they want?

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

The Los Angeles Lakers are trying to acquire another first-round pick for Thursday’s NBA draft, league sources told ESPN.

The Lakers have engaged at least two teams in the lottery, sources said, as they search for players to improve their outside shooting and perimeter defense.

While there have been inquires on the No. 2 pick, sources said it remains unlikely the Lakers would trade out of that position.

Trading down from No. 2 with the Kings, who have the Nos. 5 and 10 picks, would be a relatively simple way to land an extra first-rounder. But, as Shelburne says, the Lakers don’t seem particularly keen on parting with the second pick.

The Lakers have a roster full of players new team president Magic Johnson didn’t acquire, a fact he made glaringly clear when he declared everyone but Brandon Ingram tradable. D'Angelo Russell or Julius Randle – and maybe even Jordan Clarkson or Larry Nance Jr. – could fetch a first-rounder and allow Johnson to choose a player he wants rather than inherits.

We’re past the days of big-market teams like the Lakers just buying first-round picks. The salary scale and team control makes first-rounders just too valuable. But the Lakers have ammo to acquire another first-rounder.

They must be mindful of Paul George – what assets, if any, they want to trade for him. If they don’t trade, they need a plan to open max cap space for him next summer.

As long as they keep that in mind, there are plenty of logical ways for the Lakers to add a first-rounder while keeping the second pick. It’ll just cost them one of the talented young players they already have.

Report: Paul George tells Pacers he’s planning on leaving in 2018, wants to join Lakers

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Let the Paul George saga continue.

Booming news was dropped on Sunday, with Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reporting that George has apparently informed the Indiana Pacers that he will leave the team in free agency in 2018.

George’s top choice for his landing spot? The Los Angeles Lakers.

We’ve heard rumblings about this for months, but if Wojnarowski’s report is true then it will have a huge impact on the trade and free agency market not only in 2018 but in 2017 as well.

George’s reported informing of the Pacers also allows Indiana to make appropriate plans over the next year.

Via Yahoo! Sports:

George hasn’t requested a trade before he can opt out of his 2018-19 contract, but did have his agent, Aaron Mintz, tell new Indiana president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard that he wanted to be forthright on his plans and spare the franchise any confusion about his intentions, league sources told The Vertical.

George can sign a four-year deal worth as much as $130 million with Los Angeles next year. George is a Southern California native and playing for the Lakers would represent a homecoming for him.

George plans to play out the 2017-18 season with Indiana, but wants to give the organization the chance to plan appropriately for its future – which George told the team won’t include him, league sources said.

There now appears to be some kind of expectation that the Pacers and Lakers could initiate a trade for George, so Indiana doesn’t lose him completely as an asset. Julius Randle has been floated in trade talks — he doesn’t appear to fit Magic Johnson’s vision for the team — and could be part of a nice get in a package for George. Then again, if the Lakers are sure they’re going to get George anyway, that trade could come elsewhere. ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne is reporting that L.A. does not plan on trading young assets for George.

Indiana lost the opportunity to sign George to a Designated Player Veteran Exception when he missed the All-Star Game this year, but reading the situation at this point it’s hard to tell if that would have been a huge swing for the Pacers as they tried to keep their star. As noted above, L.A. can still give George a $130 million contract.

Meanwhile, the Lakers suddenly are in a great position to expand. With the No. 2 overall pick likely to be Lonzo Ball, a nice little core around D'Angelo Russell, Ball, George, Jordan Clarkson, and Brandon Ingram allows them lots of options around the wing and even more in the trade market.

This is a bummer for fans in Indiana, but we’re still a year away from George being gone. Things change, and the NBA is where crazy happens.

2017 NBA Draft Prospect Profiles: Is Jayson Tatum the next Carmelo Anthony?

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Jayson Tatum had the slowest start of anyone in the 2017 NBA draft class, and it probably had quite a bit to do with the fact that his season didn’t actually begin until early December.

Tatum suffered a foot injury during a Duke practice in October, one that kept him off the floor for roughly a month and out of the lineup for the first eight games of Duke’s season, and despite an impressive performance in a win over Florida in Madison Square Garden in just his second game as a collegian, Tatum was not all that good for the first half of his freshman campaign.

Through 13 games, he was shooting under 43 percent from the floor, below 30 percent from three and had more turnovers than assists as Duke dealt with what can best be described as a power struggle amongst the stars on their roster. At one point, Duke was 3-4 in the ACC. But by the end of the year, Tatum was averaging a more-than-respectable 16.9 points, 7.3 boards and 2.1 assists while shooting better than 50 percent from the field and 34 percent from three while thriving in a small-ball four role previously occupied by the likes of Jabari Parker, Justise Winslow and Brandon Ingram.

The question now is whether or not Tatum can do the same at the NBA level. Will he be tough enough and strong enough to play the four at the highest level of the game? If not, does he actually have the physical tools to be able to create offense against NBA perimeter defenders?

Height: 6’8″
Weight: 205
Wingspan: 6’11”
2016-17 Stats: 16.8 points, 7.3 boards, 2.1 assists, 50.4% FG, 34.2% 3PT

Jayson Tatum (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

STRENGTHS: You cannot talk about Jayson Tatum without talking about just how good of a 1-on-1 scorer he is. According to Synergy, there was no high-major player that averaged more isolation possessions per game than Tatum did, and he did so while posting a solid 0.896 points-per-possession, the 70th percentile nationally. He also led all high-major players in efficiency on post-up possessions, scoring 1.303 PPP.

Tatum’s offensive repertoire is as polished as any one-and-done you’ll see. His bread-and-butter is his jab series — his footwork, whether facing up or playing with his back to the basket, is impeccable — but he has the entire package offensively: crossovers, step-backs, turnaround jumpers, fadeaways, jump hooks, in-and-outs, rip-throughs and he even pulls out the Dirk Nowitzki one-foot fallaway jumpers from time-to-time.

He’s only gotten better offensively as his jumper has continued to develop. In high school, one of the knocks on Tatum was that he didn’t have three-point range; he thrived on mid-range pull-ups. As a freshman, however, he shot a solid 34.2 percent from beyond the arc, getting better as the season progressed. The stroke is there — he shots 85 percent from the free throw line and averaged 1.22 PPP on unguarded jumpers at Duke — but his release, at this point, is still somewhat slow. If he doesn’t have time and space, when he rushes his shot, is when the inconsistency kicks in.

Tatum has a reputation for having a tremendous work ethic, and this is precisely the kind of issue that gets fixed with reps. I’m not concerned about his ability to make shots in the NBA, including from the NBA three-point line. He’ll get there in time.

The other thing that Tatum has going for him is his frame. He stands 6-foot-8 with a 6-foot-11 wingspan, which is more than respectable for a guy that is projected to play the combo-forward — or a hybrid 3-4, a small ball four, a big wing, however you refer to it — role in the NBA. He already looked much bigger as a freshman than he did as a high schooler, and his broad shoulders suggest he has a frame that can hold more weight.

In addition to weight, he needs to add lower body strength and quickness (we’ll get to that in a minute) but Tatum not only showed flashes of having the toughness to guard in the paint. He was more of a play maker defensively than you may realize, averaging 1.3 steals, 1.1 blocks and 6.0 defensive rebounds per game.

Put another way, Tatum has the tools to potentially be a versatile, multipositional defender at the next level.

That versatility, both offensively and defensively, is incredibly valuable the way the NBA has been trending.

Jayson Tatum (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

WEAKNESSES: Generally speaking, the biggest concern that scouts have with Tatum is his jump shot, but as I mentioned earlier, I’m not all that concerned about whether or not he will be able to develop NBA range in time.

To me, the bigger concern is his shot selection. According to hoop-math.com, roughly 40 percent of Tatum’s shot attempts in the half court came on two-point jump shots, and he only made 40.2 percent of them. This is why Tatum’s efficiency numbers are relatively low given his skill level; he’s not getting the extra point that comes with shooting a three, and he’s not drawing fouls at the rate that he would by getting all the way to the rim.

This goes to a broader concern that I have with Tatum: Just how high is his basketball IQ? Tatum had a bad habit of being a ball-stopper with the Blue Devils, particularly early on in the season, and he didn’t seem to read the game all that well. He missed the extra pass on ball rotations, he struggled to identify where help defense was coming from, he seemed to decide on the play he wanted to make instead of reacting to what the defense gave him. For example, often he’d try to force a dump-off to a big man instead of seeing the defense collapse, leaving shooters open on the perimeter.

To be fair, he did get better as the season progressed, and this may have just been a case of a freshman doing freshman things when his season started six weeks after everyone else. But it is something to keep in mind; sometimes workout warriors with every move in the book don’t know when to use those moves.

There are also questions about Tatum physically. For starters, he’s not all that explosive. He does have a decent first step going to his right, and his long strides make it tough to catch up to him once he gets a step, but he does struggle to turn the corner against quicker defenders, particularly off the bounce. This is an issue that is magnified by Tatum’s loose handle, and it begs the question: Just how effective of a perimeter scorer is he going to be if he’s guarded by NBA wings?

Tatum also has a habit of “playing high” — he doesn’t sit in a stance and he isn’t all that low when he puts the ball on the floor, which is part of the reason he lacks some initial burst. Some of this can be fixed as he adds lower-body strength, which is something that he is going to need to be able to handle defending NBA fours. I’d also guess he probably needs to add at least 15-20 pounds to his 205 pound frame.

The question, essentially, is this: Tatum needs to develop one of two skills — the quickness to score on (and guard?) NBA wings, or the strength to be able to handle NBA fours in the post.

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

NBA COMPARISON: Anyone that watched Tatum play last season will understand why the easiest comparison to make is to Carmelo Anthony. They’re both roughly the same size with roughly the same skill-set — isolation scorers that can face-up, score in the post and thrive on making tough, two-point jumpers. The difference, however, is that Melo was a good 30 pounds heavier than Tatum after his one-and-done season, which is why he averaged 22 points and 10 boards and led Syracuse to a national title. Melo is the prototype for the kind of big wing or small-ball four that has become so valuable in the NBA.

I don’t think Tatum will ever be as good as peak-Melo was, and that’s assuming he puts on the bulk to be able to play the four. Perhaps the better comparison, then, is Paul Pierce, who was more of a natural wing scorer, a guy with less-than-stellar athleticism and a terrific mid-range game.

Either way …

OUTLOOK: … it’s probably unfair to put Tatum’s name in the same conversation as a pair of 10-time all-stars would could both end up in the NBA Hall of Fame one day, but if everything comes together for him, I don’t think it’s out of the question that he could average 20 points in the NBA for the next decade.

That’s how good of a scorer, and how hard of a worker, he is. I have little doubt that he’ll iron out some of the wrinkles in his jump shot and tighten up his handle.

For me, Tatum’s ceiling is going to be determined by his ability to do one of two things: Putting on the strength to be able to play the four in the NBA, where he is going to be able to have matchups that he can exploit, or adding enough initial burst and explosiveness that he’ll be able to create offense against NBA wing defenders.

Report: Lakers taking and making calls on trading No. 2 pick

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Will the Lakers draft Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson or someone else with the No. 2 pick?

Or nobody at all?

Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times:

Just after the Lakers secured the second overall pick in this year’s NBA draft through the lottery, general manager Rob Pelinka made two things clear:

1) He’ll listen if teams want to talk about trades.

2) It’s unlikely the second pick in the draft gets moved.

In the month since, however, the Lakers have been taking and making calls about trading the pick, said a source who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. They’ve had scenarios presented to them, and offered their own.

I doubt there’s a single pick the first round where the team that owns it hasn’t discussed trading it with other teams. Are these talks particularly substantive? I don’t know, though the tone of the article – and the fact that it was written at all – implies they are.

But we don’t know what the Lakers are seeking or what they’re being offered. These hypothetical trades might be nowhere near completion.

In particular, don’t get your hopes up Pacers fans. It’s hard to see the Lakers trading the No. 2 pick for Paul George.

On the other hand, Lakers owner Jeanie Buss has openly discussed her desire to add a star immediately. Especially with Brandon Ingram off the market, the No. 2 pick might be the Lakers’ optimal asset to deal for a star.

As much as Magic Johnson is preaching patience, pressure from his boss could lead to trading the No. 2 pick.