Might the Lakers have an interest in Michael Beasley?

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The short answer to the Michael Beasley question in Los Angeles should be a resounding “no,” for a variety of reasons. But believe it or not, the case can be made, so let’s break down exactly why it’s unlikely that the Lakers would bother to pursue the talented but troubled forward who was waived by the Suns on Tuesday.

Beasley’s struggles away from basketball make him toxic to add to any team right now, but as always has been the case, he’s intriguing from a pure talent standpoint, especially to a Lakers team looking to emphasize offense and that has holes at the small forward position.

From Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles:

Getting Beasley at the minimum for 2013-14 would not only allow the team to keep the financial flexibility for next summer that it so covets, but it would give Mike D’Antoni another offensive weapon to work with. This is a guy who has a career high of 42 points, a guy who once put up 22 points and 15 rebounds in a playoff game, a guy who has a 34.5 percent career mark from 3, but has shot 36.6 percent or better from deep in three out of his five career seasons. …

However, style of play wise, L.A. could be perfect for him. Not only are D’Antoni’s open-court sets suited for his game, but Beasley had his best season as a professional while coached by Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis when he was the head coach in Minnesota in 2010-11.

All of that is true about Beasley, of course, but the primary issue with him is never addressed when smart NBA people only observe him from afar.

A scout from another NBA team nailed the Beasley problem perfectly when speaking to Randy Hill of Fox Sports Arizona.

“I guess, from a talent standpoint, it made sense,” an advance scout employed by another NBA team said of bringing in Beasley. “The money wasn’t all that prohibitive, really, and the guy has had some big moments scoring the ball. All of the peripheral stuff … I can’t say anything about that. I just watch what he does on the floor — things that go beyond the numbers.”

What types of things?

“Well, for the most part … he’s just not engaged all that often away from the ball,” the scout said. “At both ends, his focus drifts and it just kills what his team is trying to accomplish … whether it’s rotating or closing out in time or with effort on defense or making a hard cut on offense. He has the physical tools to succeed but rarely plays with a fire. Even when he has the ball, you can see that in how he tries to finish at the basket.”

And that’s it exactly.

It isn’t that Beasley can’t do the things that made him a desirable NBA talent anymore; it’s that he won’t. There’s no passion, fire, or consistent high level of play associated with his game that make him worth taking any type of risk any longer.

The Lakers just signed Shawne Williams, and in doing so already took a chance on a player that flamed out of the league. Don’t expect them to now pursue Beasley, who has struggled with the same issues that derailed the career of Williams, and has had them occur far more recently.

Rumor: Raptors trying to trade up in draft for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
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The Raptors have major problems in the playoffs annually.

Is a coaching change enough to fix them?

Toronto already fired Dwane Casey and promoted assistant Nick Nurse after a highly successful regular season. Perhaps, major roster turnover could follow.

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander projects to be a late lottery pick. The Raptors have no selections in this draft. So, acquiring one high enough to pick the Kentucky point guard would take plenty.

Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are stars. Toronto’s bench is stocked with solid young players. O.G. Anunoby is very promising.

So, the Raptors have pieces to move. The only question how much they’d package for a draft pick.

Toronto already has Lowry, Fred VanVleet and Delon Wright at point guard. But Lowry is 32, and VanVleet will be a restricted free agent this summer. If they really believe in Gilgeous-Alexander, the Raptors should try to get him.

All that said, this is the time of year rumors – both credible and not – fly. So, it’s worth remaining skeptical while still considering the validity of what reputable reporters like Stein convey.

Luka Doncic, Donte DiVincenzo, Jerome Robinson among NBA draft invitees

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Of course DeAndre Ayton will attend Thursday’s NBA draft. The Suns will likely draft him No. 1 overall.

But what about more marginal first-round prospects?

The NBA’s draft invite list is an important tool in judging their stock. The league wants to avoid players sitting in agony until their names are called. So, the NBA works to invite only the prospects most likely to get picked high in the draft.

The full list of invited players (which the league notes is subject to change):

Luka Doncic will go high in the draft, and though how high is still uncertain, his inclusion on this list says nothing about his stock. It just speaks to whether we’ll see him Thursday night. His attendance will depend at least on when Real Madrid’s season ends, though the NBA is apparently confident enough to list him.

Jerome Robinson has climbed draft boards since the season ended. He must be impressing in workouts and interviews.

Donte DiVincenzo is a bit of a surprise selection, as he’s not widely viewed as a first-round lock. Perhaps, the league is looking to capitalize on his popularity stemming from a breakout NCAA tournament championship game.

This will only reinforce the idea Chandler Hutchinson received a promise. Otherwise, he’s a surprise invitee.

Among the top players not attending: Kevin Huerter (Maryland), Jacob Evans (Cincinnati), Troy Brown (Oregon) and Josh Okogie (Georgia Tech). Though they could go higher than players listed here, that says something about Huerter’s Evans’, Browns’ and Okogie’s stock, too.

Report: Rudy Gay opting out of Spurs contract

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Kawhi Leonard reportedly wants to leave the Spurs, but he’s at their whims.

This doesn’t mean Rudy Gay will depart San Antonio, but he’s taking control of his future.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

Gay’s option-year salary was $8,826,300.

I doubt Gay, who turns 32 this summer, will draw such a high starting salary on his next contract – though I certainly wouldn’t rule it out. He could likely get a multi-year deal with a higher total value.

Or he could chase a ring elsewhere.

Remember, Gay gave up money to leave the Kings last summer. No matter how much the Leonard situation should make us rethink the Spurs’ culture, San Antonio probably isn’t “basketball hell.” Still, the Spurs clearly don’t look as appealing as they once did, and Gay has shown how much he values team quality.

Gay is coming off a nice season, and San Antonio might try to re-sign him. Danny Green has a $10 million player option for next season, which will swing whether the Spurs have the flexibility for a bigger move this summer.

Report: LeBron James’ camp likes Collin Sexton

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In 2014, LeBron James tweeted his fondness for Connecticut point guard Shabazz Napier. The Heat traded up to get Napier in the draft, but LeBron left for the Cavaliers that summer, anyway.

Could history repeat itself, this time in Cleveland?

LeBron has already talked up Oklahoma point guard Trae Young, but maybe LeBron and his camp want the Cavs to take a different point guard – Alabama’s Collin Sexton – with the No. 8 pick.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com, via Jordan Zirm of ESPN Cleveland:

The Cavaliers should take the best prospect available. Worrying about what LeBron might want makes a mistake only more likely.

LeBron might stay in Cleveland, but as 2014 showed, it won’t be because of a draft pick. If he stays, it very well could be by opting into the final year of his contract. His player-option salary ($35,607,968) is slightly higher than his projected max salary as a free agent (about $35.35 million). If LeBron opts in, the best chance of keeping him long-term is building a better team around him.

That means taking the best prospect at No. 8 or trading the pick for someone who can help LeBron win now. If the top prospect is Sexton, that’s fine. But the Cavs are fare more likely to appease LeBron by getting the pick right in the long run rather than choosing the prospect he wants now.