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Michael Beasley on Lakers: ‘I think we can be exactly where we want to be at the end of the year’

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Just how good are the LeBron James led Los Angeles Lakers going to be?

Predictions have ranged from a three seed to out of the playoffs, and Las Vegas set the under/over for wins at 48.5. The only safe bet is that they are going to be in the middle of the playoff fight in a stacked and difficult West where the margin between the three seed and being out as the ninth seed will be very slim.

Michael Beasley is one of the new Lakers, and he has confidence in this squad — and all the other veterans like him who were added to the young core — will make it work. Here is what he told Bleacher Report.

But I think we’re a team that will be able to decide our own fate by how hard we work and how much we’re willing to sacrifice physically and mentally. I’m not going to put my foot in my mouth and say we’re going to win 25 championships or 75 games, no. But I’m confident that we got a group of guys that wants to play basketball the right way, wants to win and work hard. With that being said, I think we can be exactly where we want to be at the end of the year.

Spoken like a veteran, although “exactly where we want to be” can be interpreted a lot of ways. Management wants to be competitive while maintaing cap space for next summer, the Lakers likely will do exactly that. The players want to be contenders, but that seems an overreach. Does Beasley expect a roster with a lot of new faces to mesh well?

I don’t know for sure because we haven’t gotten together yet, but first thoughts: Running and spacing the floor will be so fun this year. It’s rare you play with three guys who average seven-plus assists, and we have it. For us to average 30 assists per game this year, I wouldn’t be surprised if we get somewhere around that number.

Assists have two parts: The pass and the made shot. Count me among the skeptics that envision the lack of shooting on this roster catching up with the Lakers and holding them back from being elite. That can be addressed via trade or players stepping up, but that is the most glaring concern on paper, and the lineups Luke Walton puts on the floor will evolve to where he finds guys who can space the floor. There are a lot of shot creators on this roster, a lot of high IQ guys, but if teams can clog the paint there isn’t room for anyone to operate.

Beasley, I expect, will have a solid season. He’s a guy with a role in the NBA now as a bench scorer, and while he told Bleacher Report he’d like more stability, he understands that doesn’t often come with his role. He’s matured. He gets it.

The Lakers are going to be good, a playoff team (barring major injuries), but just how good remains to be seen. Beasley is likely right, the Lakers after the All-Star break likely will have found a groove and be pretty dangerous, they just can’t stumble too much getting there. The West will be unforgiving this season.

 

 

 

Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma trolling now in ad for Wish shopping app

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The Lakers asked Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma to back off on their social media trolling battle.

However, they made an exception for this new Wish.com app ad (Wish is the Lakers’ jersey ad sponsor).

Well played guys.

Miami bringing Briante Weber into camp with chance to make roster

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For three seasons, Briante Weber has bounced around the fringes of the NBA. The defensive-minded point guard has played in short stints (often 10-day contracts) for the Grizzlies, Heat, Warriors, Hornets, and last season he got in 13 games for the Rockets (plus five in Memphis). He’s spent most of his career in the G-League, working for his chance to get in the door.

Miami is bringing him into training camp, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

This is apparently camp invite.

There is roster space in Miami if Webber blows them away. Miami has 12 fully guaranteed roster spots and, with Webber, two partially-guaranteed deals (Malik Newman, who was undrafted out of Kansas, is the other).

The problem for Webber is Miami is deep at the point guard spot: Goran Dragic will start, and if Tyler Johnson is healthy (as expected) he will get a lot of minutes behind him, and then there is Newman. The Heat also have in the guard rotation Dion Waiters, Wayne Ellington, Rodney McGruder, and possibly Dwyane Wade if he returns (all of those guys are more two guards).

That’s a lot of guys for Webber to beat out and find a spot. On the other hand, his defensive style is something different from what the Heat have on the roster.

Webber is a longshot, but he’s at least going to camp.

Russell Westbrook “very, very excited” Paul George re-signed with Thunder

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What did you expect him to say?

Rather than a potential rebuild — or another “Russell Westbrook vs. The World” season — the Oklahoma City Thunder were one of the big winners of the off-season when Paul George agreed to re-sign with the team. They also moved on from Carmelo Anthony, will get Andre Roberson back from injury, and added Dennis Schroder to give them a shot creator off the bench.

Needless to say, Westbrook is a happy man. We could kind of tell that from the party he threw the night George agreed to re-sign, but he said it directly in an ESPN interview while in China on his Jordan Brand Tour.

“I’m very, very excited. Paul has been an unbelievable teammate, obviously a great friend. I’m very, very excited that he is back and we’re ready to make some noise. We are just going to take it one day at a time. I think our team has a lot of great, young talent. We have one goal now and that is winning a championship.”

While it’s hard to envision the Thunder reaching that goal (as constructed), the Thunder could well be the three or four seed in the West and have home court in the first round of the playoffs. While the margin for error in the West will be minuscule (with 12 teams having a shot at the eight playoff spots), with the Thunder’s strong top-10 defense and two stars who can take over games nightly, they should be one of the more consistent regular season teams in the West.

Either way, the Thunder are a lot more interesting with George than without. It’s going to be a good season for the Thunder.

PBT Extra: Carmelo Anthony officially a Houston Rocket now — this can work

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Did the Houston Rockets get better this summer? The conventional wisdom is no, they will miss the switchable defense and versatility of Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute against the NBA’s other elite teams.

But with Carmelo Anthony officially signing with the Rockets on Monday, don’t expect a big step back, something I cover in this latest PBT Extra.

The Rockets had the second-best offense in the NBA last season (almost tied with the Warriors) and ‘Melo can enhance that — he can still punish switches in the post, he has a catch-and-shoot game, and while he may not be as efficient as he once was, the man can get buckets. Whether he starts or comes off the bench, expect Mike D’Antoni to find him minutes while Chris Paul and James Harden rest where he can be an offensive focal point.

This all could work out in Houston.