A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Posts Tagged ‘Lakers

Could the Lakers get both Lebron James and Kevin Love?

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The Lakers have been long been rumoured as a Lebron destination. I’ve always taken it with a grain of salt. Remember when Kevin Love was supposed to be obsessed with playing with the Lakers, then laughed it off and resigned with the Cavs? How about DeMar Derozan returning home? The Lakers have a lot of fans, so writing about them conquering all in free agency is a good way to get page views. 

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The biggest obstacle is getting enough talent. Sure Paul George wants to play there, but is that and kids enough to beat the Warriors? They could use a 3rd all-star. What if he’s on the Cavs, available for a trade in the case of Lebron leaving, and happens to be an L.A. native?

Let’s say the Lakers signed George and got both Lebron and Kevin Love, either in a large S&T or in separate deals. Their starting lineup could be Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Paul George, Lebron and Love. Not bad. It’s taking the Lebron and Love combination which was enough to win the East this year without a lot of help and greatly improves their perimeter in a matchup with GSW. Unlike the Cavs perimeter, the combination of Ball, Ingram and George is perfect to defend the Warriors by switching everything to cover their shooters much like the Rockets did in the conference finals. Ingram and George are two of the longest wings in the league and Ball is a 6’6 PG who shined on the defensive end this year. Unlike the last two finals where the Cavs had no answer for Durant 1 on 1, George is one of the best fits in the league physically to defend him.

Offensively the combination of Lebron and Love’s floor spacing and post play remains lethal. The Lakers could even resign old friend Channing Frye to play the same spacing role he did in Cleveland. George gives them a 20 point creator on the perimeter and Ingram is on his way to being one. Much of their fortunes could lie in the hands of Ball’s development as his shooting could make him hard to play if he continues to struggle. Nevertheless they could look for a veteran PG as a ring chaser or shop him at the trade deadline if Ball doesn’t work out.

More than just Love improving the Cavs talent level with a 3rd all-star and offensive creator beside Lebron and George, it’s about experience and trust level. Love faced GSW in the finals three times, he’s seen Game 7s. He was one of the guys Ty Lue started in Game 7 against the Pacers with Kyle Korver, J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson beside Lebron because he wanted players who’d been there on the championship team. With a player like Julius Randle or Kyle Kuzma in Love’s place there’s always the chance they’re the next Rodney Hood and fall apart consistency wise in the playoffs.

How does LA get Love while retaining the capspace to sign Lebron and George? A requirement may be dumping Deng’s contract to Cleveland. Last rebuild without Lebron the Cavaliers used capspace to get assets and young players knowing they weren’t going to be a free agent destination, so they could do the same by taking Deng for compensation. With assets like Kuzma, Randle (sign and trade), Josh Hart, Cavs 2018 1st, Lakers 2019 1st, there’s a lot of pieces that could make it worth it for the Cavs without trading Ball or Ingram. A deal like Kuzma, Randle sign and trade and a 1st would be a nice rebuilding package for them to swap Deng for Love. With the Cavs at about 102 million without Lebron and Deng making 6.1 million less than Love next year, there should be enough wriggle room for the Cavs to take on Deng, Kuzma and Randle (if they want him) while staying under the tax and apron.

Overall the Lakers with just Lebron, George and kids like Ball and Ingram may not be quite enough, but with another all-star at center in Love it could be enough to put them as a believable contender in Lebron’s eyes. It takes the Cavs two all-stars, but makes their perimeter far more Golden State match-up friendly by giving them a 20 point scoring, Durant defender in George and two other long high potential starters in Ball and Ingram. This is a clear upgrade.

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Written by jr.

June 11, 2018 at 11:48 pm

Make this trade: Josh Smith (+ Zaza Pachulia, HOU or ATL 1st) for Dwight Howard

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Josh Smith | Atlanta Hawks

Josh Smith | Atlanta Hawks (Photo credit: Basketball Schedule)

The Los Angeles Lakers season is the story that keeps on giving. It’s a reality show, between Kobe’s cerebral bluntness and Howard’s immaturity and inability to stop talking. I don’t believe Howard is the right fit for the Lakers long term. There is too much blood in the water. The heat is too strong and he has proven fragile under it.

But the most likely all-star caliber talent to move this trade deadline is fellow Georgia native and Howard’s former high school teammate Josh Smith. He wants out of Atlanta and they don’t want to give him a maximum contract. Getting assets for him now instead of receiving none when he leaves in unrestricted free agency, is the smart move.

I believe these players should be traded for each other. A trade of Josh Smith, Zaza Pachulia and one of Atlanta’s 1st round picks (they have their own and Houston’s) for Dwight Howard fits.

Why should Atlanta do this? Howard if he can be nursed back to health is a superstar who has led a team to the Finals. He’s the type of star franchises need to compete for an NBA title. The Hawks have been kicking their wheels for some time in the 1st and 2nd round of the playoffs and look to continue to do that if they trade Smith for smaller assets than Howard. If they can get Howard to resign in his home state this summer, they have one of the best frontcourts in the league with Al Horford at PF and Howard at C. Jeff Teague and Lou Williams is a good start to the perimeter scoring needed to compliment them. While it’s a risk to give up a 1st round pick and the assets Smith can otherwise return for Howard when it’s unclear whether he’ll resign, geography and the dose of humility Howard has received in Los Angeles is on their side. There also isn’t a terrific situation for Howard to leave Atlanta for. Dallas isn’t scaring anyone as a Howard poacher. The Houston Rockets are lurking, but Howard was uninterested in the team last summer. Worst case scenario if the Hawks lost Howard to unrestricted free agency, they’d have the capspace to sign a player like Paul Millsap or Al Jefferson to compliment the Horford, Teague and Williams core. It wouldn’t be the end of the world. I believe the Hawks trading Smith for Howard would be a risk they have to take, to give themselves the chance at changing the direction of the franchise the rest of this decade. It gives them a pathway to building a team who can contend for a title if things fall into place.

Why should the Lakers do this? Dwight Howard may be a sexier name than Josh Smith, but I believe having Smith has a few advantages. For one, the Lakers would be heavily favored to resign him. After living in the shadows of Atlanta, I see no reason why Smith wouldn’t embrace the bright lights of the Lakers franchise as most stars do. One would presume there’s a greater probability of Smith resigning in Los Angeles, than there is for Howard – so any risk that comes with taking UFA Smith, is there just as much if they keep Howard the rest of the season. But the main reason I like Smith for the Lakers is fit. Going into next season they play Smith at PF with Pau at C. This is a terrific situation for the latter, at the position he now produces much better at – with a small power forward stretching the floor and giving him space, as Lamar Odom used to do during his best Lakers years. Smith is also a great fit for Mike D’Antoni in the Shawn Marion role as a transition scorer and defender. He makes the Lakers faster and more athletic, which is what they need. I like the chances of the Nash, Kobe, Smith, Pau-led Lakers doing very well next year. They’d have dynamic offense with the skill and IQ of their hall of fame backcourt and post scorer, while Smith gives them a needed athletic boost. The 1st I made Atlanta throw in to this deal, would also help their depth if they chose a productive rookie. Pachulia could also resign as a needed backup C.

Josh Smith may not have the long term upside of Dwight Howard, but if the Lakers want to try and win another title with Kobe Bryant, the best move may be dealing Howard. I really like the idea of simply flipping him for Smith.

Written by jr.

February 14, 2013 at 9:24 pm

Team Volatility

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I typically like to have some kind of tight argument in my posts here, but this one is loose. I welcome any feedback from people who’d like to see the data presented in a different light. With the major trades occurring at the trade deadline, I thought it of interest to to take a look at the data surrounding how volatile teams are in terms of player movement. In the above graph, the vertical represents team wins this season, the horizontal represents the amount of players who’ve played for the team in the past 3 years, and the size of the dot represents the payroll of the team right now.

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Written by Matt Johnson

March 13, 2011 at 12:22 am

Lame Duck Melo = Best Offense in the League?

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So don’t look now but the Denver Nuggets have the best offense in the league. Their offensive efficiency is at 112.4, which is the best in franchise history, and when you account for strength of schedule their performance this year as an offense moves even ahead of the one team this year with a superior raw efficiency (Lakers).

Of course their doing this in a year where their putative superstar, Carmelo Anthony, has told the organization he wants to be somewhere else, and questions and rumors have formed a dark cloud around everyone associated with the Nuggets.

More tangibly, they are doing this in a year where Carmelo has missed 7 games, is playing less per game than in previous years, and most importantly his scoring has dropped from 28.2 PPG to 23.6, while his shooting efficiency has dropped from 54.8% TS to 52.2 (the league average is 54.0%).

I’ve posted before on the question of how good Carmelo is, so you know I’m not a huge fan. It’s funny though, the thought about how good the Nuggets offense is right now just didn’t come to mind. What’s funny is that that whole debate was kickstarted by Nate Silver’s odd argument about Melo making his teammates shoot better. The argument has been shot down, but on a superficial level without looking at previous seasons, this season’s performance by the rest of the Nuggets would seem like a great piece of evidence in Melo’s favor. Teammates Nene, Arron Afflalo, and Chauncey Billups are all shooting at 62% TS or better, which is utterly insane. The best offense from last year had none of their big minute players shooting that well.

So either, Melo’s reached the pinnacle of improving teammate shooting by deciding he doesn’t care about his team any more and going into a personal slump where he plays less than ever, or, the rest of the Nuggets are good enough that it doesn’t make sense for them to stand around while Melo volume scores. And of course, if you don’t want Melo to volume score, why would you want to pay him upwards of 20 million dollars each season?

Written by Matt Johnson

January 27, 2011 at 11:38 am

Cavaliers’ Fall now Worst in History

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Well, after last night’s horrendous 55 point loss to the Lakers, it’s worth revisiting the poor Cleveland Cavaliers.  Their SRS for this year is now down to -10.19, the worst of any team in the past decade.   That also puts their SRS fall from last year at -16.36, which surpasses the ’98-99 Bulls -15.82 for worst fall in history.

Again we can talk about how the Cavs are down on themselves and have had some injuries, but so have plenty of other teams in history, and none have fallen like this.

Written by Matt Johnson

January 12, 2011 at 10:29 am