Report: Lakers offered Steve Nash, draft picks for Rondo


Update: Sam Amick of USA Today:

The Lakers inquired about a deal Thursday that would send forward Jordan Hill and a first-round pick to the Celtics for Rondo and forward Jeff Green, but the Celtics declined that offer, a person familiar with the details told USA TODAY Sports.

I’m assuming that proposal also would have included Steve Nash to make salaries match, but that’s only the beginning of the problems with this offer.

The Lakers can’t trade Hill until Jan. 15 — and not without his consent. I’m not sure why he’d approve a trade to Boston and forfeit his Bird rights in the process.

Plus, Green going back to the Lakers makes this totally unappealing to Boston. I doubt the Celtics would even do the deal without Green included. Hill and a single first rounder for Rondo just isn’t enough, and it’s definitely not worth waiting until January if the Mavericks have a good offer on the table now.

Maybe Rajon Rondo and Kobe Bryant breakfasting together meant something after all?

The Lakers, who are reportedly interested in signing Rondo this summer, have tried to to pry loose the Celtics point guard sooner.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

Obviously, it all depends on the picks. Because they owe the Suns (and Magic) a first rounder, even though they have an incoming first rounder from the Rockets, the Lakers are very limited in what first-round picks they can trade. They could include just one unprotected first rounder in a Rondo trade – their own in 2020 or 2021.

They could also add a first with complex reverse protections based on when they receive Houston’s pick and send picks to Phoenix and Orlando. That protected pick would have high upside but the potential never to be conveyed (or it could turn into a second rounder if not conveyed by a certain year).

There’s at least potential for the Lakers to make an intriguing offer.

Steve Nash’s expiring contract just gives the Celtics a clean break. He’s out for the year, and his career is probably over. He’s included in this deal only to make salaries match.

My Rondo-to-Mavericks trade idea – Brandan Wright, Raymond Felton and picks for Rondo – includes Boston taking Felton’s unappealing contract. Felton has a player option for 2015-16, which gives him negative value to the Celtics, but his salary is necessary to make the trade work. Nash wouldn’t have that drawback.

They key question on the Lakers’ end is whether they’d re-sign Rondo. Their experience with Dwight Howard should at least force them to consider the possibility Rondo would bolt this summer. Maybe Kobe, after speaking with Rondo, could provide some insight on that front.

If the Lakers want to make this happen – and I sort of suspect they just made a token effort and would prefer to target Rondo in free agency – they better hurry. The Mavericks just followed Rondo on Twitter (hat tip: Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders).

Report: Rondo “open” to re-signing in Dallas, Houston if traded there


It’s one of the reasons the steep asking price the Celtics have consistently requested for Rajon Rondo lately has not been met — teams were afraid he wanted to play the field in free agency next summer and would bolt them (Rondo is in the final year of his contract and is an unrestricted free agent July 1). You’re not going to give up quality assets for someone you can’t keep.

However, Dallas and Houston might well be able to keep him.

The Mavericks are in “substantive” discussions with the Celtics about Rondo, while Houston has always lurked on the fringes of the discussions. But if he went to those cities he might well re-sign with them, reports Ken Berger of

With Celtics president Danny Ainge seriously engaging several teams on Rondo trade scenarios, a league source told Thursday that the point guard is open to re-signing with at least two of them — the Mavericks and Rockets….

Given Rondo’s looming unrestricted free agency, any deal would have to come with assurances that he’d be willing to re-sign with his new team. While those discussions have yet to take place with agent Bill Duffy since no trade agreement is in place, a person familiar with Rondo’s thinking said the possibility of competing for championships in Dallas or Houston intrigues him.

Officially Rondo is denying he even wants a trade, saying to reporters in Boston last night — including PBT’s own Dan Feldman — about these kinds of trade rumors, “It’s a way of life since I’ve been here.”

But Celtics GM Danny Ainge knows he’s likely to lose Rondo this summer as an unrestricted free agent and is motivated to make a move — Boston is rebuilding and contenders are going to come knocking on his door. Not to mention teams like the Lakers — Rondo could get a huge offer to come and help lead the team past the Kobe Bryant era (and play with Kobe for a season or two). Ainge has to get something for him.

Dallas and Houston are among the teams motivated to get something done. They see Golden State and Memphis on top of the West early, they know the Spurs will at some point become closer to the Spurs of last year (if not get all the way back), they see the Clippers, and both teams realize they will need more to get out of this conference and get a chance to win a title in the short term.

A Boston trade with Dallas reportedly would involved Brandan Wright and other players to make the salaries work out (Raymond Felton does it perfectly) plus there would need to be multiple picks in this deal, like a couple first rounders. Dallas does have all their picks and could make the move. With Rondo’s playmaking — setting up Monta Ellis, Dirk Nowitzki and Chandler Parsons — and defense Dallas would become a much bigger threat in the already loaded Western Conference. Same is true of Houston — Rondo would make Dwight Howard and James Harden’s lives much easier and there wouldn’t be a defensive drop off.

Dallas apparently would have a good chance to re-sign Rondo, although they are smart enough to talk some off-the-record dollars with his agent to get an idea if a deal could be reached this summer. (That would be done through back channels to avoid tampering.)

Ainge and the Celtics have seemingly come close to dealing Rondo before only not to pull the trigger. Don’t be shocked if they try to use the Lakers (Steve Nash’s $9.7 million plus one of their two first round picks this year) or Knicks or Rockets (lots of young players and picks) as leverage to get more out of Dallas. But with Rondo’s free agency looming there is more pressure on Boston to make a move now than there has been in the past.

Jeanie Buss: Lakers chose to build around Steve Nash not Dwight Howard


Jim Buss — the man at the top of the Lakers’ basketball operations food chain — has said all along that hiring Mike D’Antoni as coach back in 2012 was a call his farther Jerry Buss made from the hospital bed he would eventually pass away in. Father and son talked, Jerry had always wanted a return to Showtime and Jim wanted his imprint on the team, so they went with D’Antoni five games into a season with a roster that was a wretched fit for his style of play.

But was it worse than that? Did the Lakers consciously choose to build around 37-year-old (at the time) Steve Nash over then 26-year-old Dwight Howard?

That’s what Lakers president Jeanie Buss says in a Q&A she did with ESPN’s fantastic Ramona Shelburne.

“It came down to hiring a coach. [The Lakers hired Mike D’Antoni in November 2012.] When you have a big man and a guard, you have to decide whom you’re going to build your team around. The choice was to build it around Steve Nash and what suited Steve Nash instead of what suited Dwight Howard.”

Clearly Jennie Buss has a dog in this fight — she is engaged to Phil Jackson, the runner up in that coaching race. That’s who she wanted, who most Lakers fans wanted, and who Dwight Howard wanted as coach. But to bring in Jackson — at a salary three or four times what D’Antoni would make — would have shifted the balance of power in the organization toward Jeannie. Jackson would have coached the Lakers for a couple years but he wanted the kind of front office job he eventually got in New York, immediately Jackson would have had some say over players/personnel, and that eats away at Jim Buss’ power.

Jim again told ESPN this was all about what Jerry Buss wanted.

Jim: I’ve been on record as saying [hiring D’Antoni] was my dad’s decision. I know that makes Jeanie uncomfortable, but I’d sit down with him for hours going over Laker decisions. In my opinion, he was sharp.

Jeanie: [Interrupts] Dad was in the hospital. I would always run things by Dad too. But he was in the hospital, not feeling well, and that is why he counted on us to make the decisions. So I agree that he would have input, but he needed my suggestion or Jimmy’s suggestion or [GM Mitch Kupchak’s] suggestion because he was confined and did not have access to all the information that we did.

I’ll say this: I don’t believe Jim Buss thought “we should build around Nash.” He may have wanted to go to that up-tempo style and thought Nash could help bridge the gap to the next star player, but no way he thought Nash was some kind of long-term cornerstone. Nobody would.

That said, Jim may want to lay the D’Antoni hiring off on his father, but he can’t. For several years prior to this Jerry was not really involved in the operations of the team, he was more consultant than active partner. Jerry would not have forced D’Antoni on Jim, this was an idea from Jim that Jerry was good with. This was two guys thinking alike but also more about the power play than what would work on the court.

And it was a big swing and a miss.

Hiring D’Antoni was a decision that turned off Dwight Howard — he wanted Phil Jackson. The guy the Lakers shot down with a late-night call. More than that, Howard wanted to feel listened to, like his input mattered to the team, and getting a coach with a system that was the opposite of fitting what Howard wanted to do was a sign he wasn’t being taken seriously. This was one of the early dominoes that ended up having Howard opt for Houston as a free agent. Lakers fans can say “good riddance” but they got nothing in return for a superstar walking out the door. That’s a loss.

There’s many more layers to this story — obviously Howard and Kobe Bryant didn’t get along in terms of approach to basketball — but what is clear is the Lakers set themselves back with that coaching hire. It was one where most of the people around the league were scratching their heads at the time it happened, now it retrospect it was an unmitigated disaster. One of several situations that led the Lakers to the mess they are right now. And will be for a while. And the Buss family will have to own up to that.

Byron Scott has talked to Kobe Bryant about starting at point guard


The Lakers are having a hard time finding a point guard.

Steve Nash is out of the year. Jeremy Lin got benched. Ronnie Price has underwhelmed as a starter. Jordan Clarkson is a rookie and plays like it.

Could Byron Scott turn to an unconventional candidate, say, Kobe Bryant?

Bill Oram of the Orange County Register:

Shifting Bryant to point guard at critical junctures is something Scott said he had been thinking about, and he said he has gone so far as to contemplate starting the 36-year-old at the position.

“I even talked to him about it,” Scott said. “I said, ‘I’m thinking about it, but I’m not there yet.’ So yeah I have thought about it.”

The Lakers have played just 21 minutes all season without a traditional point guard, and Kobe has been on the floor for all of them. A third of those minutes came down the stretch of the Lakers’ win over the Kings on Sunday, and Los Angeles outscored Sacramento by seven in the seven minutes Kobe ran point. Prior to that, the Lakers had been outscored by 12 in 14 minutes without Lin, Price or Clarkson.

Don’t put too much stock into that small sample, but moving Kobe to point guard seems like a desperate idea done for flawed reasons, anyway. The numbers just support what shows on the court.

Kobe started at point guard for a stretch last season, “unfortunately” as he put it. He clearly had no interest in shouldering the burden of the position as he worked his way back from injury, but the Lakers’ failure to build a competent roster around him necessitated him playing the point.

Kobe is healthier now, and maybe he’d be more open to a position switch.

But the circumstances leading to one haven’t changed one bit.

Kobe Bryant says he is being patient with Lakers’ teammates. Relatively.


With Kobe Bryant, patience is relative.

He is by his own definition an old-school, hard-a** taskmaster who is going to drive those around him. He doesn’t like losing, he doesn’t tolerate a lack of preparation or effort. He’s going to push himself and he’s going to push this team.

He’s also smart. Certainly smart enough to know this Lakers team is bad, they are not playoff bound in the West (despite a couple straight wins) and the real question at the end of the season is if they will finish in the bottom five and hold on to their pick (if their first round draft pick is six or higher it goes to the Suns from the Steve Nash deal). Kobe knows this team is only going to be pushed so far.

All of which is to say he’s being patient. For Kobe. That’s what he told Adrain Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

“The idea of me having no patience is misunderstood,” Bryant told Yahoo Sports on Tuesday night. “I don’t have patience when we’re not putting the work in, if I see that we’re not doing our job as professionals. If that’s happening, I’ll let my team know about it. But this is not that kind of group. We work. These guys want to get better every day. They’re there early working, they’re there late working.

“This organization put forth a lot of effort to try and land some of these top free agents. They went for it. I respect that. I appreciate that.

“Now it’s time for me to go out there and do my job – not whine or complain about it.”

Guys on the team such as Jeremy Lin say Kobe is talking to them, mentoring them. And yelling a little too. It’s all connected for Bryant.

Kobe’s going to put up numbers this season. He’s going to be a show. And while he can no longer lift a team as high doing that as he once did, he will fill Staples Center’s expensive seats with people who want to see it. Ratings will be up, sponsors will still flock to the Lakers.

This summer they will swing again at big free agents, and like most Jim Thome trips to the plate the strikeout is far more likely outcome than the home run. And the cycle will repeat.

And next season Kobe will be patient. For Kobe.