Author: Kurt Helin

Los Angeles Lakers v Atlanta Hawks

While waiting on Plan A to make up his mind, Lakers mulling Plan B options


Carmelo Anthony is Plan A for the Lakers. They like to mention LeBron James but they were never in that chase. With Anthony, the Lakers are in the final three that he is torn between, along with New York and Chicago.

But if the Lakers strike out, what is Plan B?

Try to get a little better next year, but don’t take on any long term deals so you can still go big game hunting in the coming years. Dave McMenamin lays it out at

The philosophy behind the Lakers’ Plan B is twofold: find a way to be competitive next season to get back on track after a disastrous 27-55 campaign in 2013-14 yet at the same time, protect their cap space flexibility to be able to pursue the biggest names in the summers of 2015 (Kevin Love), 2016 (Kevin Durant) and 2017 (Russell Westbrook).

“It’s a good class, but in terms of today who might be at the very top, maybe it’s not as large as it might be next year or the year after,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said on draft night when asked about the free-agency market this summer. “And keeping that in mind, we structured our salary knowing that, hey, you might not get two or three guys, but we have enough room to get at least one. And if we don’t have one and we choose to, we can go down the road and have flexibility next year and the year after that.”

For my money, the Lakers Plan B should be patience — do not make a max offer for someone like Chris Bosh or an oversized offer for Luol Deng. See if you can sign-and-trade Pau Gasol wherever he wants to go, do it. If you want to see if you can overpay a star for on a two-year deal go ahead (Lance Stephenson, Deng, give them more per year but a really short deal so you have cap space in 2016.

Sell Kobe Bryant to the fans and sponsors, he is the legendary player they want to see anyway, he can the distraction while you rebuild (and struggle a little). The Lakers should improve this season with a healthy Kobe and Julius Randle, but don’t make moves for this season that hurt the bigger long term goals.

Report: Sharpshooter Anthony Morrow considering Clippers, Heat, Wizards, Raptors, Suns

Anthony Morrow

If you want to stick in the NBA as a role player, be great at one thing.

Anthony Morrow does exactly that — he shot 45.1 percent from three last season. He’s not going to give you a lot of rebounding or defense or much of anything else, but the man can shoot the rock.

And a lot of teams could use a guy who can knock down threes, so he has options at this point in free agency, reports David Aldridge of TNT and

To be clear, Aldridge meant teams would want to use money up to the mid-level exception amount, although likely only a portion of it (or an equivalent sum not from the MLE itself).

Those are some good teams that could use Morrow, but he likely waits to see both how the LeBron James saga plays out (Miami far more attractive if he’s there, obviously) and what teams will offer him.

In the end, it’s about the money and who offers the most. But right now Morrow is part of the bottleneck, waiting his turn.

Shelly Sterling says Donald Sterling backed sale until last minute

Shelly Sterling

In a trial where Shelly Sterling is trying to show her husband Donald should not be reinstated as a trustee of the Sterling Family Trust — which happens to own the Los Angeles Clippers — showing big mood swings and questionable judgement from him helps her case.

So that exactly what she did on Thursday in her second day of testimony in Probate court, reports the Los Angeles Times.

On the witness stand Shelly Sterling described her efforts to sell the team for $2 billion to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, saying that Donald had been kept up to speed on the process all along.

He was “happy and proud” that his wife secured the offer before a June 3 meeting of the NBA’s owners because he was worried the owners would vote to seize the team, she said.

“Every day we talked about what I was doing. … He was on the same page I was,” she said.

That all changed the next day, when it came time to finalize the sale’s details.

“He started screaming and cursing. He was uncontrollable,” she said.

Donald Sterling wants to block the sale of the Clippers to Ballmer — something his wife set up and the NBA has supported — and he has sued the NBA on anti-trust grounds in a separate legal proceeding. His best chance to block the sale is to win this probate hearing and have the judge say the steps Shelly Sterling, her lawyers and the doctors went through in to have him declared mentally incapacitated did not meet with the guidelines of the Trust.

Donald Sterling, as is his nature, wants to bully and fight anyone in his way of getting what he wants. Shelly Sterling tried to say that is a part of his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and she talked about that on the stand again Thursday.

She also said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver had been willing to negotiate a reduction of her husband’s lifetime ban from the NBA to one or two years of probation. But the talks fell apart when Donald refused put the terms in writing and threatened to sue the owners.

“Do you think the other owners were happy when he called them monsters and was going to find dirt on them?” she said.

Donald Sterling was so frustrated with Shelly after her testimony on Wednesday he called her a “pig” in front of the judge and courtroom.

It’s going to be a while before we have any resolution here. While testimony in the case closed on Thursday closing arguments are not until July 28. The NBA will not formalize the sale of the team until the results of this court case.

Report: Suns reach three-year, $16.5 million deal to keep P.J. Tucker

Phoenix Suns v Houston Rockets

Every team could use a little muscle up front, the Phoenix Suns are going to keep theirs from last season.

The Suns have reached a three-year, $16.5 million deal to keep power forward P.J. Tucker in house, something first reported by Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports and since confirmed by other reports.

That’s a fair price. Tucker was a fan favorite and a gritty enforcer, a defensive specialist who shot 38.7 percent from three last season to provide a little value at the other end.

Tucker had been in talks with the Suns for a few days and this early in free agency, with so many bigger names out there other teams hadn’t focused on him yet.

Report: Isaiah Thomas meets with Suns on Thursday

Cleveland Cavaliers  v Sacramento Kings

The Phoenix Suns have Goran Dragic under contract and have promised to match any offer for Eric Bledsoe (which has yet to come, but one way or another the man will get paid). Behind them they have breakout star Gerald Green, Archie Goodwin and rookie Tyler Ennis. That’s already a deep backcourt.

Yet the Suns are having conversations that could make it even deeper.

They are meeting Thursday with Kings free agent point guard Isaiah Thomas, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. Those talks will continue on Friday.

Thomas is a restricted free agent and the Kings can match any offer.

Thomas, like so many others (Pau Gasol, Lance Stephenson, Paul Pierce, Luol Deng and on and on) are waiting for the LeBron James/Carmelo Anthony free agency bottleneck to break and for teams to start making offers.

The Suns have the cap space (enough for a couple max deals really) so they can easily afford Thomas, although with the departure of Channing Frye a shooting forward would seem a higher priority. That backcourt in Phoenix is already pretty crowded.

That said, Thomas is a good get. A fan favorite in Sacramento he is small and lightning quick, he averaged 20 points a game with a very efficient .574 true shooting percentage because he can get to the rim and he knocks down shots. He’s a score first point guard, but that can fit in Phoenix. His big issue is defense, but he brings a real energy to the game.

The Kings front office is divided on him, but apparently the guys with the power are not that into him, went out and got a lesser guard (Darren Collison) and appear willing to let Thomas walk, unless the offer for him is so ridiculously low it would be stupid not to match.

Thomas will likely get a nice offer. The question is when and from whom, but the Suns seem an unlikely albeit interesting landing spot.