The Lakers only have two players under guaranteed contracts for next season in Steve Nash and Robert Sacre, and just a little more than $10 million in total salary committed.
That means there’s a wealth of possibilities in terms of how the team could decide to fill out its roster for 2014 and beyond, and questions will loom large next summer about how L.A. will handle its two biggest stars.
Kobe Bryant is going to be a Laker for as long as he wishes to play; the only question will be at what cost. Considering he’s eligible to make in excess of $30 million, Bryant will likely re-sign for far less if he’s serious about his goal of trying to win one more title before he hangs ’em up.
Pau Gasol, however, might not see things the same way.
In the interest of the Lakers maximizing their financial flexibility, would Gasol accept taking a significant paycut?
“Probably not,” he said. “You have to explore your options, but I would like to continue to play for the Lakers and maybe finish my career here. But you have to see the cards on the table.”
Gasol has been the subject of trade rumors off and on for a couple of seasons now, and has often been the one to take the blame when things aren’t going well in Los Angeles. Just last season, he was completely marginalized when the team tried to cater to the whims of Dwight Howard in hopes of making him happy enough to re-sign in free agency.
Now that the Dwight problem has been solved, the Lakers might have another one on their hands with Gasol. If he’s healthy and plays the way he’s capable of as the featured big man, he’ll have significant value as the trade deadline approaches. Extension talks will likely occur before then to gauge Gasol’s interest in staying in relation to his asking price, but whatever happens, it doesn’t appear as though Gasol is looking to give his current team a hometown discount.
Clippers’ Milos Teodosic opts into $6.3 million for next season
Expect the Clippers to try to trade him in the next three weeks. He would have value to a team looking for a backup point guard — when he did play he averaged 9.5 points per game, shot 37.9 percent from three. The fans will love his passing and play. The coach will like him too… when healthy.
Report: Suns to renounce rights to Alex Len, Elfrid Payton
The Suns want to free up some cap space heading into July. They are not going big game hunting, but with $10 million to $15 million they could bring in some solid veterans to provide leadership to their young core — and win a few games along the way.
Expect them to renounce their rights to center Alex Len and point guard Elfrid Payton, making them both free agents. Ayton’s addition has made Len expendable, and while Phoenix still needs point-guard help, Payton’s inconsistent play last season and, more importantly, his $10 million cap hold figure, likely means he’s played his last game in a Suns uniform.
The Suns acquired Payton at the trade deadline for a second-round pick (which was just by Orlando to land Jarred Vanderbilt) and it was a good flier. The Suns need a point guard to go next to Devin Booker, Payton is a former lottery pick that had shown flashes in the past, so Phoenix rolled the dice on him. It didn’t work out, and the Suns can just move on.
Both Len and Payton probably find new homes in the NBA next season. Len is 7’1″ and can use that size to protect the paint, plus he can score around the rim. Teams can use that off the bench. Payton has shown enough in flashes, and he can get buckets, that some team will grab him, just probably as a reserve.
Markelle Fultz’s new trainer describes him as having the “yips”
It was about this time last year that Markelle Fultz started to change his shot. As Sixers coach Brett Brown said just before the start of training camp: “Markelle has made some personal adjustments to his shot since we last saw him in Vegas, we’ve done stuff with him but really he’s been with his personal trainer over the month of August and since Summer League ended.” What followed was a chicken-and-egg debate about whether the new shooting form caused his shoulder problems or the injury forced the change, either way the combination of the two sidelined for most of his rookie season.
“With Markelle, obviously he has one of the most documented cases of kind of the yips of basketball in recent years, where he completely forgot how to shoot and had multiple hitches in his shot. So for me it was, ‘Hey listen, how can I get this kid that was No. 1 in last year’s draft back rolling and get him to the point where he was before, if not better?’…
“We’ve been working hard every day, working on rewiring his body and getting a kind of smooth stroke back into his shot. We’re way ahead of pace where I thought we were going to be, I thought it was going to take me at least six weeks before we had kind of a serviceable jump shot, and we’re already starting to shoot with a jump in week two.
“It’s not perfect yet, but I think by the end of the summer it will be perfect, he’ll be back rolling and he’ll show people why he was the No. 1 pick. Even though I still give him trouble on a daily basis and tell him and remind him I still believe Jayson Tatum was the best player in that draft.”
That should light a fire under Fultz.
It’s far too early to write off Fultz as some want to do, we just do not know yet what kind of player he will be at the NBA level. His rookie year was lost to the yips, and someday there will be a great 30-for-30 (or maybe just a Drunk History segment) about what happened to Fultz’s shot. It will get the full D.B. Cooper treatment.
The Sixers just want the guy they drafted back, not the one who came to camp last fall. With where he is in the process, we may not see Fultz at Summer League (the Sixers have yet to release their Summer League roster). It may be training camp before we get a good look at his reworked form.
Dwyane Wade wants to own an NBA team someday, ideally in Seattle
I definitely want to be a part of ownership in the NBA. I’m not going to try to buy a team. I don’t have that kind of bread, but I definitely want to be a part of a great ownership group. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is all about players being involved in an ownership capacity. You’ve got players like Grant Hill involved in the Atlanta Hawks. Shaquille O’Neal is involved in the Sacramento Kings. It’s definitely something that I’ve talked about, some of my friends have talked about. But, first of all, I’d have to be retired.
Seattle. I want Seattle’s team, the Sonics, to come back. I think Seattle is a great basketball town. I would love to be a part of that. But I’m open—if you know somebody.
It’s not now, but it’s not going to be that long before Wade retires. Then he’ll have to pick his spots with ownership, just like any business.
Seattle deserves to get a team back (wearing the Sonics colors and uniform). It’s just going to take a while. Right now there is no appetite for expansion among NBA owners, if a team goes to Seattle (or Las Vegas, or Mexico City, or anywhere else) it will be because an existing team moves. Current NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is more about stability and teams staying in cities rather than seeing them move — he helped create the opportunity for Vivek Ranadive to keep the Kings in Sacramento rather than move to Seattle — but the day will come when an owner sells and the new one is looking to get out of the lease and on to a new (usually bigger) market. That’s not on the immediate horizon with the NBA, but it’s coming.