A few diehard Lakers fans are still clinging on to the hope they could win an NBA title this season.
Why? Why is the team itself still optimistic? Because they still have so much talent, something Kevin Ding explains at the Orange Country Register. That talent hasn’t been healthy or fit together all that well yet, the defense and bench are in question, but the possibility of what that talent could bring keeps title hopes alive in Lakers nation.
Charles Barkley would like to crush those hopes.
He was on The Dan LeBatard Show on 790 The Ticket in Miami and did not mince words when asked if the Lakers could win a title this year (thanks to Sports Radio Interviews).
“None. Zero. Zero chance. I think Oklahoma City, Memphis and the Spurs are the three best teams in the West. I still have my concerns. Everybody is on the Clippers’ bandwagon. I don’t like their half-court offense. I don’t like their free throw shooting. I love Chris Paul. I said it for years. I thought Jason Kidd was the best leader in the NBA. I passed that mantle, in my personal opinion, to Chris Paul, but I don’t like their half-court offense.”
Earlier in the interview Barkley reiterated what he said on TNT — the Lakers look old and slow.
It’s hard to see the Lakers even getting above a six seed after the hole they have dug themselves. They are not catching OKC or San Antonio, and despite Barkley’s concerns they are not catching the Clippers in the regular season either. (I don’t share Barkley’s concerns about the Clippers, but we will see where they are come March and April.) The West is deep with good teams and while I expect the Lakers make the playoffs they have made their playoff road much more difficult.
Barkley sees what we all do out East — the Miami Heat are the best team and look like a force of nature when they are focused. The Knicks have had some backsliding of late and they still might be the most likely second best in the East (maybe if the Pacers get Danny Granger back and Roy Hibbert out of his slump they can step into that role).
Lakers president Magic Johnson said he wouldn’t fire Luke Walton during the season “unless something drastic happens, which it won’t.”
Does a 4-7 stretch (most of those games without LeBron James) qualify as drastic? Nope.
What about following that with a 2-2 stretching including an ugly loss to the Cavaliers? Apparently not.
Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:
Lakers management continues to project support for Walton publicly and privately — at least through this season, multiple sources told ESPN.
Walton might not be coaching to keep his job the rest of the season. But he’s almost certainly coaching to retain it for next season.
Johnson inherited, rather than hired, Walton. The new boss apparently hasn’t been impressed with his coach. As long as Johnson’s support seems so tepid and the Lakers keep losing, it will be worth continuing to evaluate Walton’s status.
LeBron getting healthy will go a long way. He can cover for this otherwise-deficient roster and make Walton look better.
But, in the meantime, Walton must avoid catastrophe to keep his job. So far, so good.
The Warriors’ player costs this season are in line to be about $195 million (about $145 million in salary, about $50 million in luxury tax).
If they re-sign Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson to max salaries, keep everyone under contract, sign their own draft picks and fill the rest of their roster with minimum-salary free agents, the Warriors’ spending on players next season would project to hit about $355 million (about $173 million in salary, about $182 million in luxury tax).
But maybe Golden State can afford it.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN:
Internally, the Warriors project a nine-figure increase in revenue when they move into the Chase Center next season, sources said.
The Warriors already make so much money on their home games. That’s a whopping increase – one that could alone increase the league-wide salary cap a couple million dollars.
But this figure doesn’t say how much more money will reach Golden State ownership. Revenue differs from profit. The Warriors could have greater expenses, including revenue-sharing obligations, in their new arena.
Still, it’s hard to imagine this won’t be a windfall for the Golden State, one that could go a long way not just in affording stars but also keeping complementary players like Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston.
The salary cap promotes competitive balance. But big-spending teams still have an advantage.
NBA All-Stars wore black and white uniforms last season, and it appears this year’s All-Star game will feature a similar look.
I love All-Star jerseys integrating a player’s NBA team, which comes more naturally now that All-Star teams are selected by captains rather than East vs. West.
But these are pretty bad. They look cheap and generic.
Perhaps, the red-white-and-blue borders are a nod to All-Star jerseys from 1991, when the game was last held in Charlotte:
(AP Photo/Susan Regan)
If so, I appreciate the attempt to connect historically. But the link is pretty weak.
The Hornets have iconic colors in teal and purple. I’d rather see those integrated into the All-Star uniforms.
And I fear the white versions could look even worse. A black-and-white version of the Lakers’ looks too plain in the above photo. That version of a team’s logo could look even blander against white.
Dennis Schroder expressed his dismay last offseason with the Hawks’ losing.
Safe to say, the point guard was happy to be traded to the Thunder.
Schroder, via Erik Horne of The Oklahoman:
“I wanted to be in a winning mentality organization,” Schroder said bluntly, not the first time he’s brought up the different direction he had from the new Hawks, who are 13-30 entering Tuesday’s game. “You just can’t go out there and try to lose.
“I’m a competitor and I try to give everything out there. I want the organization to feel the same way. Right now with our organization, all the players in the locker room, all of the coaches, they’ve got a winning mentality. That’s what makes it fun, when you go out there and go to war with your brothers. There’s nothing better than that.”
Atlanta beat Oklahoma City by 16 last night, turning Schroder’s comments on their head. But that was only one game. Obviously, the Thunder are far better than the Hawks.
Atlanta is doing right by itself by rebuilding. But aggravating veterans should be a consequence of tanking. It’s a natural check on the practice.
Though Hawks players aren’t trying to lose when on the court, management built a team less-equipped to win now with the clear intent of landing a higher draft pick. It’s a miserable situations for veterans who are capable of contributing to a winner – which tends to make those veterans lose interest, which makes the team lose even more, which furthers management’s goals.
Schroder escaped that in Atlanta, maybe in part by complaining about his situation. I don’t blame him for continuing to call attention to the stark differences in philosophy between the Hawks and Thunder right now.