Report: Lakers working to clear out more cap space to land both LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre Jordan

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UPDATE: The amazing Larry Coon ran the numbers in detail over at his CBAFAQ and came to the decision the Lakers could not get both on max contracts, not and keep Kobe (and they are not trading Kobe). Now, maybe you could get one or both to take a slight discount (a couple million) to make this work, but those guys didn’t become free agents this year to take discounts.

The other option is to land, maybe, Aldridge at the max and another top free agent just below that number — someone like Dwyane Wade or Robin Lopez, depending on what direction the Lakers want to go. Either way they are still thinking big.

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These are the Lakers their fan base expects — not just thinking big, they are thinking massive.

The Lakers have the cap space to offer a max contract to someone, and they have meetings set with the biggest names looking to move — LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre Jordan and Greg Monroe, among others.

But why just settle for one? The Lakers are trying to clear out the room to get a couple, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo Sports.

I have to start here: If the Lakers hadn’t offered Kobe Bryant the largest contract in the NBA — $25 million next season — and gotten him to take a little bit of a discount, this process would be a lot easier. The only guy they can try to move to really help them is Nick Young (and there’s not a great market for volume shooters).

It’s a long shot the Lakers land those two (one of Jordan’s issues is he wants more recognition and a bigger role than he’s had with the Clippers, would that happen here with Kobe Bryant, LaMarcus Aldridge and D’Angelo Russell?). All of the top players are meeting with multiple teams — Jordan and Monroe for a piece to start, Aldridge seven. Those guys will have options. But even if the Lakers strike out completely with all the big names this summer, this is the kind of news they want their fans to see — “look, we’re trying to go big here.”

More than that, the Lakers believe that after a rough couple of years, they are primed to return to the NBA’s elite. Look at what Jeanie Buss — the Buss child with the most power in their complex family control of the team — told Sam Amick of the USA Today.

“We’ve got everything that should allow us to be competitive. Now does that mean that it’s that easy just to snap your fingers and win a championship? I know a lot goes into it, and it’s hard to win a championship. Only one team gets to do that every year, but there’s no reason why we can’t be one of those teams that’s talked about and that people look forward to seeing how they’re going to do in the regular season and in the playoffs. And that’s important that every employee, not just our basketball front office, knows that they’re being held to a standard to deliver on their job.”

Even with the restrictions of the new CBA, the Lakers and the city of Los Angeles are a big draw to free agents. Maybe not the draw they were 15 years ago, but they are a draw. The Lakers are in the mix for the best on the board — and they are being understandably greedy and going after as much of that talent as they can get.

It’s the Lakers being the Lakers again.

LeBron James on Lakers clinching No. 1 seed: ‘They said I couldn’t do it’

Lakers star LeBron James
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The Lakers clinched the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.

LeBron James, via Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times:

“They said I couldn’t do it.”

“I’ll enjoy this one,” James said, nodding as he grinned. “They said I can’t do it.”

The Lakers entered the season fifth in the West in over-under wins (behind the Rockets, Clippers, Jazz and Nuggets).

But nobody credible thought the Lakers couldn’t get the No. 1 seed. With LeBron and Anthony Davis, the Lakers obviously had that type of upside. Their championship odds were far more favorable. The main doubts stemmed from how seriously LeBron would take the regular season.

That said, in the age of social media, players hear both more praise and more criticism than ever before. LeBron surely heard from haters who ruled him out. Crowning himself the Washed King, LeBron probably internalized that fringe opinion.

Many players find slights to use as motivation. It worked for Michael Jordan. It works for LeBron.

But it does sound silly when an exalted player like LeBron talks this way.

Report: Larry Bird resigned as Pacers president because team didn’t spend enough

Pacers owner Herb Simon and executives Donnie Walsh, Larry Bird, and Kevin Pritchard
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Paul George said he left the Pacers because they weren’t willing to spend enough.

Apparently, he wasn’t the only one to feel that way.

Larry Bird resigned as Pacers president in 2017, citing a desire to do more things outside basketball. Yet, he also reportedly had another reason.

Jackie MacMullan of ESPN:

Indiana is a small-market team that consistently has not gone out and paid big money. We know that this was something that frustrated Larry Bird, who is a legend in the state of Indiana and elsewhere, I might add. It frustrated him enough that he stepped aside.

Pacers owner Herb Simon has a certain way of doing things. Indiana hasn’t paid the luxury tax since 2006, the first year the tax line was set before the season.

Despite that, the Pacers have been pretty good. They’ve qualified for the playoffs nine of the last 10 seasons, peaking with appearances in the 2013 and 2014 Eastern Conference finals.

Still, Indiana has lost in the first round four straight years. Another first-round loss appears the most likely outcome for this season.

That’s not exactly satisfying for players who want to win championships. Spending big isn’t absolutely necessary to compete on the highest levels. But it helps.

Pacers star Victor Oladipo is approaching 2021 unrestricted free agency. He’s a competitor who’ll evaluate, among other things, whether his current franchise matches his ambitions.

It’s easy to spend someone else’s money. Simon can decide his own limits. But there are consequences of his spending restraint – especially as perception grows about his relative thriftiness.

J.J. Redick describes thought behind meme: ‘I was angry we got our butts kicked. It’s embarrassing’

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J.J. Redick has made the playoffs all 13 of his previous NBA seasons.

The Pelicans have put that streak in jeopardy.

New Orleans lost its first two games in the bubble, a nail-biter against the Jazz and a rout against the Clippers. During that loss to L.A., cameras captured Redick – on the floor exercising his back while out of the game – with a distant stare that became an instant meme.

Redick on ESPN Daily:

I was angry we got our butts kicked. It’s embarrassing, and I think my face summed up that first half pretty well.

There’s so many circumstances you could apply the emotions that I was going through in that moment.

Redick is right: That meme fits many occasions, which gives it staying power.

However, it has plenty of competition. Though the feelings displayed aren’t the exact same, Redick didn’t even have the best reaction inside the bubble by an exasperated NBA player. That belongs to Nuggets star Nikola Jokic:

At least Redick got reason to perk up. The Pelicans beat the Grizzlies yesterday to gain ground in the playoff race.

Darren Collison says talk of him playing for Lakers was “overhyped”

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Darren Collison shocked the NBA last summer when he walked away from the game at age 32 — and a likely contract in the four-year, $70+ million range — and retired. His reasons were legitimate, he wanted to focus on his religion — “While I still love basketball, I know there is something more important, which is my family and my faith,” Collison said at the time — but the league has seen a lot of players say they were walking away for good reasons only to come running back.

The rumors about a Collison return started just after January 1 and spun out of control in Los Angeles when he sat with Lakers’ owner Jeanie Buss at a game.

Collison stayed retired, and told the “Minute til 6” podcast it wasn’t even close. He was never coming back.

“To keep it 100, they overhyped the whole thing. Like, I wasn’t even thinking about coming back.”

That game he went to? He just came to watch his friend Russell Westbrook.

“I just wanted to come watch the game as a fan.”

Collison also is smart enough to know how him sitting with Buss would be perceived.

Collison was wanted. The Lakers run LeBron James at the point but could have used the veteran Collison in the role Rajon Rondo filled as a secondary playmaker (Rondo is currently out with a thumb injury). Collison was rumored to the Clippers as well, and Doc Rivers can always find a way to use more guard depth.

Collison, however, seems at peace with his decision. If he wanted to return, he would have done it last summer for 10 figures a season, not for the minimum in January.