Tag: Steve Nash

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Jeanie Buss cites draft pick Lakers owe to Phoenix as reason she doesn’t see the logic in tanking this season


If the Lakers don’t finish the season with a friendly bounce of a ping pong ball that lands them a top-five pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, L.A.’s first round draft choice will belong to the Suns.

That was part of what went back to Phoenix in exchange for Steve Nash, who Lakers fans are still angry with to this day for the injuries that limited his ability to contribute much at all during his brief time in Los Angeles.

But even if the Lakers do keep the pick this season, at some point, they’ll be sending one back to the Suns.

L.A.’s first round picks in 2016 and 2017 are top-three protected, but in the unlikely event that they manage to keep both of those, the pick would finally become the property of Phoenix in 2018.

This fact — that the Lakers will have to give up a first round pick to the Suns eventually — is the reason Jeanie Buss recently cited for being against the idea of tanking this season.

From Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times:

“The draft pick to Phoenix, if we don’t give it to them this year, we have to give it to them next year, so I don’t really see what the logic would be,” said Buss on Tuesday, via SiriusXM NBA Radio’s “Off the Dribble” with Jared Greenberg and former Lakers champion Rick Fox.

“Try to tank to keep it this year, because we’d just have to give it away next year — that doesn’t resonate with me,” she continued.  “I think it’s impossible to tell your coach and tell your players, ‘Try not to win.’  That goes against everything an organization is about.”

Since Buss uses the word “logic” here, it’s worth mentioning that this argument doesn’t contain any.

Bottoming out this season would ensure help would be on the way that much sooner, in the form of a lottery pick that would be added to the roster. That’s as good a reason as any to “tank,” because even if the pick the following season would then be unavailable, it would be because the team improved to the point where a top-three pick would be unlikely to be received.

As for the part about telling the coaches and players to “try not to win,” we’ve been here many times before.

It’s extremely obvious that players and coaches at the professional level are not doing things to intentionally try to lose games. When we discuss tanking, we’re talking about an organizational decision to not field as competitive a team as possible — see what the Sixers are doing this season, or take a look at what Phil Jackson just did to the Knicks by trading Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith away for nothing more than future salary cap space.

Every organization has an internal debate about how to rebuild its roster when the time comes, and tanking is inevitably a part of that discussion. The Lakers may not openly choose that path, and that’s fine. But the fact that they owe a future first round draft pick to Phoenix is not a viable reason for deciding whether or not to do so.

Kyle Lowry on almost being a Knick last year: “Essentially, I was gone”

Kyle Lowry

Raptors fans have James Dolan’s fear of getting fleeced by Masai Ujiri — again — to thank for their position a top the Eastern Conference.

Remember at the start of last season the Raptors just were not working, they needed changes, and GM Masai Ujiri was clearly thinking big moves. First he traded Rudy Gay to Sacramento (which worked out well for both sides), then he set up a deal that would have sent Kyle Lowry to the Knicks for Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert and a 2018 first round pick (Metta World Peace’s name was rumored also). A reasonable trade. But Dolan backed out (he didn’t like how the Carmelo Anthony trade went with Ujiri), Lowry stayed and the Raptors started winning. A lot.

Lowry reflected on all of that and last season speaking with Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun (hat tip Eye on Basketball).

A day after the Raptors failed to sign Steve Nash as a free agent, (then GM) Bryan Colangelo brought Lowry in from Houston in a trade for a first-round pick and somebody named Gary Forbes. Lowry remembers his emotion on that day.

“Two and done and I’m going home,” he said….

“I figured two years and I’d be a free agent and go somewhere else. This wasn’t where I wanted to be. I tell people that all the time. You can’t predict your future. You have to live it by the day….

“Our season last year was a helluva story. I was traded (to New York). Essentially, I was gone. My best friend (Rudy Gay) got traded. It was all messed up.”

Now Lowry is happy — he signed a new deal with the Raptors this summer (four years, $48 million), he loves the city and he loves all the winning. Lowry matured, his game matured and everything fell into place last season.

Lowry is playing at an All-Star level again this season — 20 points and 7.7 assists a game with a PER of 23.9 — and the coaches are not going to leave him off the list this year as an alternate (he’s fourth in the fan voting, Toronto has come out for him in numbers, but it’s not likely the fans vault him past John Wall, Dwyane Wade or Kyrie Irving to be a starter).

As for the Knicks… well, you don’t need a ball dominating point guard in the triangle really. So you can try to console yourself with that.

Report: Lakers interested in Josh Smith, can offer more money than other reported suitors

Los Angeles Lakers v Detroit Pistons

Josh Smith, released by the Pistons, has no shortage of suitors.

The Rockets, Mavericks, Clippers, Kings and Heat all reportedly have interest.

Though Houston considers itself the front-runner, one other team also wants in the mix – the Lakers.

Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders:

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Even if Miami gets a disabled-player exception for Josh McRoberts, whom the Heat said is probably out for the season, they couldn’t offer as much as the Lakers, who are armed with Steve Nash’s disabled-player exception.

Here’s how much each team could offer Smith for the rest of the season – both in terms of cost to the team and money toward Smith after the Pistons set off a portion of his new salary – if he signs tonight:

Team Cost to team Extra money for Smith
Lakers $4,850,500 $2,833,491
Heat $2,652,500 $1,734,491
Rockets $2,077,000 $1,446,741
Mavericks $608,367 $889,651
Clippers $608,367 $889,651
Kings $608,367 $889,651

The Lakers have the worst record among those teams, so their best pitch is financial – unless Smith appreciates the comedic potential of him joining a team that already features Kobe Bryant, Nick Young and Carlos Boozer.

Report: Lakers refused to give up rookie Julius Randle in trade for Rajon Rondo

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers

Before Rajon Rondo was traded to the Mavericks, the Lakers were one of the teams in talks to acquire him from the Celtics.

Boston ultimately believed the package that Dallas had to offer was more appealing, and pulled the trigger on a deal that netted  Brandan WrightJae Crowder, Jameer Nelson and a future first- and second-round draft pick, the former of which turned out to be heavily protected.

One offer the Lakers discussed included (presumably) the expiring contract of the injured Steve Nash, Jordan Hill, and one or more draft picks in exchange for Rondo and Jeff Green — which would have been a steal for Los Angeles.

There were likely other scenarios, however, and one of the pieces that may have gotten a deal done for the Lakers was rookie big man Julius Randle, who is currently out for the season due to injury.

From Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports:

The Lakers and Celtics had mutual interest for a Rajon Rondo deal, but the Lakers weren’t willing to give up injured rookie Julius Randle, a source said.

I believe Rondo’s impending free agency, more than the Lakers’ desire to retain the promising rookie, is what ultimately informed L.A.’s decision.

It’s no secret that the Lakers are desperate to add star-level talent to the roster. L.A. is not a market that will stand for the team undergoing a faceless rebuild of potential stars through the draft that may take several seasons. It requires a star to sell tickets, even in down seasons like this one where losing more often than not is the expected result.

That reality is why Kobe Bryant received such a large contract to play out the final two seasons of his career, even though it was counterintuitive to give him that much when considering the team’s need to improve, and the limitations L.A. would now face from a salary cap standpoint.

If stars don’t come willingly to the Lakers in free agency (and they haven’t in recent seasons), then at some point, the team will need to trade for one still under contract, and will likely need to overpay to do so.

The option was there where Rondo was concerned, but like Dwight Howard before him, Rondo would have been able to bolt as an unrestricted free agent after just one season — and despite the Lakers wanting to add a star with Rondo’s resumé, his contract situation was such that giving up Randle proved to be too steep a price.

Report: Lakers would rather pursue Rondo in free agency than give up assets in trade

Rajon Rondo, Zach Randolph

It doesn’t sound like the Los Angeles Lakers will be the ones trading for Rajon Rondo. They’ve made offers to the Celtics that haven’t really gained traction, and a new report by Sports Illustrated‘s Chris Mannix suggests that the Lakers might just wait it out until this summer and try to sign Rondo as a free agent.

According to previous reports, the Lakers have offered packages involving either Jordan Hill or Steve Nash along with a first-round pick, both of which were rejected by Celtics GM Danny Ainge.

Given the Lakers’ lack of young assets, that’s about the best they’ll be able to do. They’re not going to give up 2014 No. 7 pick Julius Randle, who still has tremendous potential even though he’s out for the year with a broken leg. And they would be foolish to trade their upcoming pick, which is currently owed to Phoenix unless it’s in the top five. They could remove the protections for the first five picks for the Celtics, but they need as much young talent as they can possibly get, so that’s not going to happen.

The Lakers also own the Rockets’ first-round pick in the upcoming draft, but with Houston poised to be one of the top teams in the Western Conference, that won’t be a high enough pick to entice Ainge.

If Rondo gets traded anywhere before the deadline, it seems like it will be either Dallas or Houston. The Lakers will be forced to wait until free agency if they want to make a run at him.