The Lakers will pursue star free agents this summer and/or next. LeBron James, Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler and Kyrie Irving have been mentioned.
If Kobe Bryant had his way, the Lakers won’t roll out the red carpet for any of those players.
Kobe, via ESPN:
“You know, the thing about this franchise is that you shouldn’t need recruiting to come in it,” Bryant said. “It takes a special person to want to play for this franchise, and take the pressure that comes along with playing for this franchise. The pressure of following Magic [Johnson]’s footsteps, myself and the dynasty that we’ve had, it takes a special person to do that.
“And if I need to convince you come here, to carry that legacy forward, then you ain’t the one to be it.”
The Lakers’ prestige and popularity matter and largely speak for themselves. But that alone doesn’t make Los Angeles desirable enough for most top players.
Players want to know how they fit on the court on a winning team. The Lakers neglected to explain that properly to LaMarcus Aldridge, submarining their attempts to sign him in 2015. That the Lakers have stunk for five straight years only makes it more imperative they sell free agents on their vision. There’s a difference between historic winning and winning now, and the Lakers can’t just point to their recent success. They must explain how they’ll thrive again.
I suspect Lakers president Magic Johnson will. He’s a big personality and should be an excellent recruiter.
For Kobe, this is more about legacy protection. The Lakers struck out on numerous major free agents while he played, and some blamed him. But if the problem was those players not having the right mindset, Kobe couldn’t be at fault, right?
DeAndre Ayton will go No. 1 to the Phoenix Suns Thursday night. Marvin Bagley III probably goes second to Sacramento (but that’s not a lock).
After that, things get wide open in the 2018 NBA Draft. Teams value different players at very different levels this year, and there are going to be a number of trades.
Which makes putting together a mock draft for this year more random than a roulette wheel. Not that it stopped me. Here is my final mock draft for the 14 lottery picks. I present it without much confidence, but I’m throwing it out there anyway.
The Hawks’ rebuild got going with big John Collins. Though they’re reportedly eying Luka Doncic with the No. 3 pick, they could easily draft another big – Jaren Jackson Jr., Mohamed Bamba, Marvin Bagley or Wendell Carter.
And then there’s veteran center Dewayne Dedmon.
He no longer fits in Atlanta (never did, really). But he’s not bypassing a chance to earn $6.3 million.
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
There just wasn’t going to be that much money for the 28-year-old Dedmon in a tight market this summer.
Dedmon is a good defender, and he developed his ball skills – as a 3-point shooter and passer – in Atlanta last season. The Hawks could look to trade him. Maybe, in a deal primarily about his expiring contract, he adds extra value to the other team due to his playing ability.
If Atlanta doesn’t move him, Dedmon will be a fine player on a likely tanking team. At least he’s not good enough to subvert the Hawks’ tank, especially with the new lottery format.
Nick Young will say and do nearly anything for attention.
Empowered by the Warriors’ championship, he swung for the fences when asked about Canada passing marijuana legalization.
Young, via TMZ:
“I want people to pass cocaine,” the NBA star told TMZ Sports outside 1 OAK on Tuesday night … “Everybody needs to do cocaine!”
Predictably, that caused a bit of an uproar. Then, Young backtracked:
Too late, Nick. People are already asking questions you don’t want asked.
The 76ers have too many 2018 draft picks – Nos. 10, 26, 38, 39, 56 and 60.
Philadelphia already has 11 players under contract for next season. Plus, the 76ers have the space to add premier players. There just isn’t room for everyone on the roster.
So, Philadelphia unloaded one of those selections.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
This is good return for the 76ers, who everyone knew had to trade a draft pick. The rebuilding Bulls could easily land a higher second-round pick than No. 39 next year.
Why do the Lakers want an extra second-rounder this year? Second-round picks don’t count against the cap until signed, and they can always slightly sweeten a trade offer. They’re helpful for a team with big plans and little wiggle room.