We told you earlier that LeBron would not be going on a worldwide tour of his free agent destinations as had been previously reported. But the question now is, which teams are most impacted by that decision? Let’s take a look at the candidates and rank the impact this has on their chances on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “no change” and 5 being “dramatically impacts.”
The Pau Gasol trade shaped the face of the NBA as the first decade of the new millennium ended. It made the Los Angeles Lakers relevant again, and gave Kobe Bryant a solid second running mate to push him to another two championships in 2009 and 2010.
Gasol was famously traded in a package that included the rights to his younger brother Marc Gasol, who became a star for the Memphis Grizzlies before being traded to the Toronto Raptors this past winter.
Big trades involving superstars like the Gasol often come with the benefit of advanced knowledge by the player or their agent, and with some communication between them. But according to Gasol, the first person to tell him about the trade was newly-minted Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace, who had joined the team before the 2007 NBA Draft.
Speaking on Adrian Wojnarowski’s podcast, Gasol said that Wallace tried to make light of the situation by pointing out the irony of being traded for his own brother.
Via the Woj Pod:
I walk in and the first thing he tells me is, ‘Pau please, come in, sit down. You just got traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.’
I’m like, ‘Sorry, what?’
I couldn’t take it in. What are you talking about? At that point I was not expecting to be traded at all.
[Wallace said], ‘You got traded for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, a second round pick, and the funniest of all, your brother Marc.’
I’m like, what? Is this a joke, [he’s] trying to be funnier and funnier? At that time I couldn’t process what he was saying, I’m like, is this really happening? Why is he making a joke out of it when I’ve be here for six-and-a-half years, [Wallace] basically just got there, and now I’m traded.
Obviously I got more excited as the minutes went by, but it was crazy and it was Chris that told me. Obviously it was one of the greatest moments of my career just because …. at first it was hard to to process being treated and moving away from the team that you’ve given so much to (and in the other way around) but then I walk into a situation that would allow me to to win. Which is what exactly what I wanted, what I craved, and to play with one of the greatest players and Kobe and to be coached by Phil Jackson.
It is one of the great NBA narratives that both brothers were swapped for one another, and that each had continued success at a level in the NBA that not many siblings have experienced in their lives.
Perhaps he didn’t know why Wallace was joking about the trade at the time, but obviously Gasol knows that it worked out OK for him in any case.
The Los Angeles Lakers could be headed toward a departure with their head coach in Luke Walton. The Lakers will miss the playoffs yet again, this time coming up short despite adding LeBron James over the summer.
James has reportedly wanted Walton out for some time, and when the season ends many are expecting to see the two sides part ways. The list of potential coaching candidates for Los Angeles appear to be a group of also-rans, potential LeBron favorites who no self-respecting basketball decision-maker would want in charge of a championship-hopeful franchise.
One of those potential head coaching candidates is Jason Kidd, who was fired by the Milwaukee Bucks in January of 2018. We have seen rumors of Kidd being on the list of candidates for the Lakers job for some time, but now it appears that Kidd is basing his decision-making on the availability of the Los Angeles job.
Kidd holding out on making an employment decision until the Lakers decide what to do with Walton makes sense. That L.A. would be interested in Kidd to lead their group is another thing altogether.
Talent is a salve that has often pushed teams passed their failings, and this offseason for the Lakers will be a big-time test of that medicine. Los Angeles is not a well-run franchise, and the fact that they have expected anything different from their results speaks to the dissonance between their ability to make basketball decisions outside of branding.
But if they can add one or two big stars in free agency this summer, they might have enough talent on the roster to overcome the inherent issues with having LeBron run the team by proxy. It’s hard to have any faith in the Lakers to make the right decision at this juncture, and considering Kidd for the most important head coaching position in the NBA is par for the course.
Nobody is quite sure where Kevin Durant will play basketball next season. Many are expecting him to leave the friendly confines of the Golden State Warriors and strike it out on his own if they win the championship again this season.
The New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers have all been mentioned so far. The Brooklyn Nets also seem like a potential suitor, and they will have significant cap space before needing to re-sign some of their current players.
Could Durant be interested in heading to New York toward a better run organization than the Knicks? At least one Nets player thinks so. Speaking to the New York Post, Caris LeVert said that he felt Brooklyn had all of the things needed to attract a superstar like Durant.
Via New York Post:
It’s pretty cool,” LeVert said before the Nets eliminated the Lakers from playoff contention with a 111-106 win. “It speaks to not only what we’ve done this season as a team, but to what D’Angelo has done on the court and also being a leader off the court that guys like Kevin Durant want to be close to him and a part of what he’s doing.
“I don’t think superstars, especially Kevin, want to be the one who has to carry the whole team, the full load on his own. He’s in his 30s now, so he definitely wants to go to a team that has a good core, has a good culture, has good guys on the team, and we fit all those categories.”
“[Russell’s] played at an All-Star level. Everybody wants to play with a great point guard, a great floor general, and he’s put himself in that conversation for sure. That lessens the load for a guy like Kevin Durant or another superstar who wants to come play with us. They don’t want to be the only one on the team, so that’s very attractive that D’Angelo has elevated himself to that level to play with.”
What Durant is thinking is anyone’s guess, and what he wants at this juncture is sort of up in the air. I think many of us are getting caught up in that idea of him needing to continue to win championships. That’s probably backed by the rumor that Durant wants to be seen as the best player of his generation.
But if Durant came away from Golden State having won three championships, and with a clear Hall of Fame resume, couldn’t he go somewhere for the final stage of his career simply for the money, the fame, and the branding? The Knicks would be a horrible basketball decision, but Brooklyn wouldn’t be a bad idea. Both would work for the latter strategy for Durant.
The Warriors star is hard to predict, and there’s no use trying to. But at this point, it appears that players are starting to make their overtures to attract one of the best players in the NBA.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Minnesota Timberwolves guard Derrick Rose has undergone arthroscopic surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow.
The Timberwolves announced Saturday that Rose had the procedure done at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The Wolves previously said Rose was unlikely to play again this season. They’re already eliminated from playoff contention.
Rose signed a one-year contract after joining the Wolves for the final few weeks of last season and their playoff series. When healthy, Rose has largely flourished, often playing off the ball instead of his natural point guard position. He averaged 18.0 points and 27.3 minutes in 51 games, his second-highest scoring mark since he tore his left ACL in 2012.
Rose missed 16 games earlier in the season for a variety of lower-body injuries.