Report: Jahlil Okafor and Emmanuel Mudiay top Lakers’ 2015 NBA draft board


The Lakers didn’t trade for Rajon Rondo.

Not Greg Monroe, either.

But as the 13-38 Lakers head toward their worst season in franchise history, they’ll continue to try distracting their fans from the mess on the court.

Hey, the NBA draft is around the corner, and the Lakers could have a high pick. With Jahlil Okafor, Emmanuel Mudiay, Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell coming into focus as the top tier, whom do the Lakers favor?

Chad Ford of ESPN:

If they finish with the worst record in the league, Okafor is a slam dunk for them. Their best and only big man is Jordan Hill, and he’s a far cry from Okafor. For a team that has a long legacy of elite big men — from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Shaquille O’Neal to Andrew Bynum (OK, not so much Bynum) — the Lakers would love to have a young front line of Okafor and Julius Randle. Okafor’s closest competition I’m told is Mudiay, but it’s not that close right now.

Go ahead, Lakers fans. Dream about Okafor and a healthy Julius Randle lifting Kobe Bryant for his final seasons. Enjoy it while you can, because the dream might not last long.

The Lakers, who have the NBA’s fourth-worst record, send their first rounder to the Suns if not in the top five. Los Angeles needs a bottom-two record to guarantee keeping its pick this season. Anything lower in the lottery standings would require varying degrees of luck.

Even if the Lakers finish with the league’s worst record, they’d still have just a 46.5 percent chance at a top-two pick necessary to guarantee an opportunity to draft Okafor or Mudiay.

On the bright side for the Lakers, they’ll probably keep their pick this season. But Okafor or Mudiay aren’t quite as likely to end up in Los Angeles.

Report: Lakers would like to trade Jeremy Lin but market is “weak”


Once the Lakers traded for Jeremy Lin they had to know he was going to be with them all season. It’s mostly about the contract, which counts for $8.4 million against the cap but is actually north of $15 million in money paid out (part of the poison pill contract he signed with Houston back in 2012).

The fact that he has been in-and-out of Byron Scott’s doghouse hasn’t helped matters.

The Lakers are shopping Lin around but not with any success, reports Sean Deveney of the Sporting News.

He still would make a good backup point guard, and the Lakers would move him if they could get an asset in return, but the market for Lin has been weak.

Lin does some things well — he is aggressive and attacks off the pick-and-roll, he can finish around the rim or knock down threes — but he’s not a great assist guy, he turns the ball over too much, and he’s not a great defender.

Deveney hits the nail on the head: Lin is a solid NBA backup point guard. If it weren’t  for “Linsanity” and his oversized contract, the expectations of him would not be so high and he could blend in around the NBA.

But that’s not the case, and because of the contract he’s not getting traded. (It’s much the same with Jordan Hill, the Lakers are not finding a huge market for the big man, his hip injury is not going to help matters.)

This summer some team will pick Lin up as a free agent for $5 million or so a year to use as a reserve point guard behind their more established star, and that role will work for Lin. He’s a solid player who is still defined by a hot month a few years back.

Report: Lakers’ Jordan Hill likely out 2 weeks with strained hip


Jordan Hill has been a (relatively small) bright spot in another dismal Lakers season, starting in all 48 of the team’s games thus far, and averaging a career-best 12.3 points and 8.0 rebounds in 28 minutes per contest.

But the injury bug continues to strike in Los Angeles, and Hill will be sidelined for at least the next few games.

From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Lakers forward Jordan Hill has a strained hip muscle and will likely miss two weeks, league source tells Yahoo Sports.

And from Mike Trudell of

LAL doctors say Jordan Hill has a grade 1 hip flexor strain. He’s out Wed., and doubtful to play Fri. or Sun. but will rejoin the team.

Only three teams have a worse record than the Lakers at this point in the season: Minnesota, Philadelphia and the Knicks. The Timberwolves just got Ricky Rubio back, and New York has been playing somewhat inspired ball lately, winning five of its last seven contests.

We bring this up, of course, because the Lakers are simply playing for ping pong balls the rest of the season. While they (or any other team) won’t ever lose games intentionally, Hill missing a little time further diminishes L.A.’s chances of winning on a nightly basis, organically improving the team’s future Draft Lottery prospects in the process.

Lakers’ players trying to adjust to Byron Scott’s random rotations


LOS ANGELES — Jeremy Lin went from around 15 minutes a game to more than 30 minutes, to a DNP-CD, to almost 30 minutes again — and that was all in the span of two weeks.

Ronnie Price used to be the starter, now he’s the third point guard in the rotation. Nick Young has seen his minutes fall (although there may be good reasons for that). And that list goes on and on.

There is a randomness to the Lakers rotations, a lack of consistency that has left the players — who like a routine and rhythm — searching. And wanting.

After Sunday night’s Lakers loss to the Rockets Lin was asked about dealing with the inconsistent minutes. He just basically shrugged, took a long pause, then said, “I guess you just control what you can control… I mean, the only thing you can get used to is you don’t know what’s coming next. And that’s kinda been true this whole season.”

Lakers coach Byron Scott says before pretty much every game that he’s got his starters but will let the flow of the game dictate his rotations. That is not changing for a while.

“The starting five I have out there now, I’m going to keep that for a while,” Scott said. “I’m going to fluctuate with some of the substations just based on what I see on the court and what they are giving me as well, It could be different each and eery game for the next 15 to 20 games.”

That starting five is rookie Jordan Clarkson at the point, Wayne Ellington, Ryan Kelly, Jordan Hill and Robert Sacre. Even their minutes are not guaranteed. After that Carlos Boozer was the first guy off the bench Sunday, followed by Lin, Ed Davis and Nick Young.

More than just up and down minutes, the lineups change nightly, with new combinations all the time.

“I feel like, at this point it’s kind of like everybody has probably played with everybody,” Lin said. “So whatever lineup is out there, you have to do your best. You go out there and play. Maybe not worry about the little things, but just go out there and attack, run the plays hard and see what happens.”

To be fair, this is more than Scott’s nature, his hand was forced n some cases. He entered the season with a healthy Kobe Bryant and a team he thought could make the playoffs. But Scott struggled to find rotations that worked and he started to realize this team wasn’t as talented as his opponents most nights. He was searching for answers. Then Kobe’s body needed more rest, adding another level of randomness to the mix — would the guy the Lakers’ run their offense through play or not? Now they unfortunately know the answer to that question.

Pile on some other injuries to the team and Scott has struggled to have guys for the rotations he wants.

That said, he is not the only coach dealing with these issues — go ask Scott Brooks or Flip Saunders about it — yet Scott’s response has been experimentation, which continues halfway through the season. And not knowing if you will play, or how many minutes, or with whom, or in what role, starts to throw players off.

“I think it effects, for me, my rhythm level maybe,” Lin said. “And I think to some degree your confidence level. My confidence level, it’s just you don’t see yourself doing certain things.”

You may want to be careful about having a Lakers’ player on your fantasy roster the rest of the season. Because the randomness will continue.

Five Things we learned in NBA Sunday: Cleveland will not stop digging the hole deeper


Pay  attention and every night in the NBA you can learn a little something. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to help with those lessons. Here’s what you missed while thinking clearly you have a lot of movies to see before the Oscars….

1) LeBron being out isn’t Cleveland’s biggest problem. Maybe we didn’t actually learn this tonight, we had a pretty good idea already, but getting just thrashed 103-84 by Sacramento really drove the point home. This feels like the old Cavaliers — they need LeBron James to carry them because the rest of this team isn’t near good enough. That shouldn’t be the case, with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love this team should be respectable. But they have lost five in a row and after Sunday players admitted they didn’t really play hard enough (while the Kings players did and owned the game because of it). Cavs coach David Blatt is going to take the heat and maybe the fall for this play, and clearly he is not reaching this roster, but also those players haven’t really given him a chance. A coach should be able to count on hustle, on effort from professional players — this isn’t some “rah rah” college kids, these guys should be able to motivate themselves. They are not. And ultimately it has to fall to LeBron to both hold them accountable and lead by example, the latter of which he was not doing consistently before his shut it down for a couple of weeks.

2) Damian Lillard owns fourth quarters against the Lakers. For the second time this season a Kobe Bryant-less Lakers team hung around with the Trail Blazers for a little more than three quarters. And then Damian Lillard said “screw this” and just took over — he had 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the final frame, leading Portland past the Los Angeles Lakers to a 106-94 win. Oh, and he did this to the rim and Jordan Hill.

And earlier in the game he did this.

3) Hassan Whiteside cannot be stopped by mere mortals. Well, at least for a day. Sunday afternoon Hassan Whiteside looked more like DeAndre Jordan than DeAndre Jordan did (or, more accurately, he looked like the DeAndre Jordan the Clippers wish they had consistently this year). Whiteside came off the bench for Miami and was the second best big man in the game, putting up 23 points (on 10-of-13 shooting), 16 rebounds, two blocks, and two steals. (The real problem for the Clippers is the best big man on the court in this game was Miami’s Chris Bosh, who had 34 and hit everything, contested or not.) Whiteside, who was in the D-League earlier this season, has scored in double digits in the last four games for Miami and has brought a real energy off the bench, something the Heat needed. He keyed a quality road win for them.

4) The Atlanta Hawks remain the best team in the East. We can debate if the Hawks can hang with the best of the West for seven games (they’ve beaten Memphis, Portland and the Clippers recently). Honestly, I don’t think they can if they get to the Finals — but make no mistake they can get to the Finals. They went up against a solid Washington team Sunday and just destroyed them — eight Atlanta players scored in double figures, the ball movement and player movement left the Wizards defenders lost, and the Hawks forced turnovers on 21 percent of the Wizards’ possessions (19 total). Maybe come the playoffs, when teams can really focus on the Hawks offense, they can slow the team down. Maybe. We thought that might happen to the Spurs in the playoffs last season and….

5) Marc Gasol is the best double overtime player in the league. Apparently. This was not a great night overall for the Spaniard, he was outplayed by Alex Len for most of the game. Then in the second overtime he poured in seven points on 3-of-4 shooting and the Grizzlies pulled away from the Suns for a 122-110 win. Despite the high score this was actually one of the better defensive games from Memphis in a while, which is the end of the court where they need to turn things around. Oh, and if you want some fancy shooting from Gasol, we can show you this: