Sunday, September 21, 2014
Tags Posts tagged with "Free Agent"

Free Agent

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Photo Credit| FoxSports

The hero we needed and deserved. A memorable line from The Dark Knight, modified to suit Pau Gasol and his place in Los Angeles’ history. Gasol was acquired on February 1st, 2008 for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron Mckie, the draft rights to his brother, Marc Gasol, and two first-round picks.  Rather controversial considering how much better Gasol made the Lakers but Marc Gasol ended up playing at an All-Star level so it evens out, right?  This was the beginning of Gasol’s tenure with Los Angeles, and what a ride it has been.

Gasol, upon being traded to Los Angeles, led them to a 22-5 record and a subsequent NBA finals appearance against the Boston Celtics. Unfortunately, they lost that series in six games in Boston.  The Lakers weren’t done though and they came back the next season with a vengeance, winning the NBA championship in five games over the Orlando Magic.  Gasol averaged 18 ppg and 9 rpg that season while shooting 57% from the field; outstanding numbers that most certainly were the reason the Lakers made it that far that season.

The following season the Lakers did it again, winning the NBA championship in seven games against the Boston Celtics; a rematch of 2008.  Again, without Gasol playing as well as he did (18 ppg, 11 rpg in 2010) the Lakers likely would not have made it as far as they did.  Check out the video below and watch the highlights of Gasol’s 2009-10 playoff play.  It’s sensational.

Gasol was one of the league’s premiere big men and a top power forward at the time, thus raising arguments about who the best power forward in the league truly was.  However, following the failed three-peat attempt in 2011, Gasol came back down to earth.  I don’t believe this is his fault though, as he lost Coach Phil Jackson, arguably the greatest coach in basketball, and then went through a decent year under Coach Mike Brown only to be truly let down by Lakers’ brass when they hired Mike D’Antoni.

Gasol’s numbers took an abhorrent decline in D’Antoni’s first year as coach, averaging a pedestrian 14 ppg, and 8.5 rpg, a career-low in ppg, while only playing 49 games due to injury and D’Antoni actually benching Gasol.  However, this season Gasol’s numbers have definitely bounced back, averaging 17 ppg, 10 rpg, and an underrated 3 apg this season as he attempts to salvage himself and prove to the NBA that he still has some gas left in the tank.  Gasol played only 60 games this season due to various injuries, the latest being a severe case of veritgo that ended his season prematurely.  He certainly showed the NBA he can still play at the same high level he’s shown in the past.

Gasol and Kobe Bryant have had tremendous chemistry throughout their tenure together in Los Angeles.  Winning two championships together back-to-back builds a trust that can’t be earned by just any NBA player, something Gasol and Bryant certainly had.  Bryant may not find another player he can play with and trust as much as Gasol before his career comes to a close.  Sure, they had their hardships, like in the 2011 playoffs against New Orleans when LA dropped game one at home, partially due to a poor performance from Gasol.  Bryant had this to say regarding Gasol post-game.

We could have gotten a little bit more out of everybody. But Pau is our guy. He’s our guy. He’s the next in line. Responsibility and the pressure comes along with that,” he said, “and he’ll be ready to go next game.

Gasol has the relationship with Bryant that not many others ever had; they have each others backs through thick and thin.  As difficult a teammate that Bryant can be Gasol has stuck through and consistently worked on making his team better.  In a blog post earlier this year, Gasol discussed whether his time in Los Angeles was up.

If there’s anything or anyone who could make me stay it’s Kobe Bryant. I’d stay for him, but there’d have to be significant changes. I’ve said it many times: I want to be in a team that has a solid chance to win another tournament and where I can be an important factor in the game….

With Mike D’Antoni out of the picture, it looks more likely that Pau would want to re-sign with the Lakers but that is still up in the air.  Gasol, a first-time unrestricted free agent, has multiple suitors this offseason and he’s sure to take a look at all his options carefully before he makes his choice.

Gasol has often been considered soft, someone who doesn’t try to assert himself down-low or play aggressively enough.  I agree that Gasol hasn’t been the toughest or most formidable foe in the paint, but that’s not the type of player he is, he plays with finesse.  His post moves, footwork, and beautiful touch on his shot will never be forgotten by the Laker faithful.  Laker fans everywhere should be thankful to have had Gasol for the two championships he helped bring to Los Angeles, and the wonderful play he brought to the court, night in and night out.

Gasol is a Laker legend, and rightfully so.  He has always been underappreciated and trashed if he didn’t perform perfectly every night, and it’s unfair to expect that from anyone.  Gasol was the reason the Lakers were able to win back-to-back championships and for the true fans of his game he’ll always be appreciated.

His time in Los Angeles may come to an end this summer, but his legacy will never be forgotten.

Thank you Pau, for everything.

 

 

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While Kobe Bryant has yet to return to the court, some unexpected (and GREAT) news broke early today from the Los Angeles Lakers:

EL SEGUNDO – The Los Angeles Lakers have signed Kobe Bryant to a two-year contract extension, it was announced today by General Manager Mitch Kupchak. Per team policy, terms of the contract were not released.

“This is a very happy day for Lakers fans and for the Lakers organization,” said Kupchak. “We’ve said all along that our priority and hope was to have Kobe finish his career as a Laker, and this should ensure that that happens. To play 20 years in the NBA, and to do so with the same team, is unprecedented, and quite an accomplishment. Most importantly however, it assures us that one of the best players in the world will remain a Laker, bringing us excellent play and excitement for years to come.”

The expectation was that Kobe would enter free agency as the Lakers began to retool their roster with plenty of cap space this upcoming offseason.  While many felt that he would ultimately return to the purple and gold, this is fantastic news for the organization and the fans, showing that the franchise player is not done quite yet as he searches for his sixth NBA title and the franchises quest for #17.

While there are no contract details available in the press release outside it being for two years, it is said that Kobe will be the highest paid player the next two seasons:

The reaction amongst Lakers fans is that of excitement, but also some cautiousness with the amount.  Here’s something important to remember.  The Lakers will never be an under the cap franchise.  They will add the pieces necessary to bring a title back to Los Angeles.  Will they ever be around $100 million salary like they were last season?

Most likely not.

This franchise will pay the luxury tax when needed and one thing I know with this front office, they do not do this type of extension without a plan in mind.  So stay tuned!

Follow LakerNation throughout the day for reaction and more details!

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Another day, another signing for the Lakers.  This time in the form of shooting guard Xavier Henry:

Henry, the 12th overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft by the Memphis Grizzlies, played the last two seasons with the New Orleans Pelicans.  He has played limited minutes, averaging 14 minutes a game during three seasons.

The 6’6 shooting guard adds more depth to what is an already crowded backcourt.   Henry has averaged 3.9 PPG in his brief NBA career which hasn’t exactly lived up to expectations coming out of the University of Kansas.  He was ranked a top ten high school prospect by multiple recruiting services but was one and done in college before jumping to the NBA.

The terms of the deal were not announced.

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As expected, the Phoenix Suns announced they have released forward Michael Beasley:

This move has been rumored to be in the works for a few weeks as a result of the reoccurring off the court problems for the 24 year old forward, who was with his third team since being drafted by the Miami Heat in 2008.  He was selected with the second overall pick out of Kansas State, behind Derrick Rose and ahead of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love.

Beasley, was arrested and cited for marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia after being stopped by Scottsdale police on August 6th.  The five year veteran notably said upon arrival to the Suns that his marijuana use was behind him.   Back in 2011, Beasley was cited for speeding and marijuana possession.  He had previously admitted that he violated the league’s drug policy twice and agreed to enter a treatment facility just two years prior in 2009.

The question now is where will Beasley end up?  The Lakers have had interest in the past, most recently two seasons ago when they had a deal in place to acquire Beasley in a three team deal with Minnesota and Portland.  Although, just minutes before the NBA deadline, Minnesota pulled out unexpectedly because they were hesitant to take on Derek Fisher’s contract, killing the deal which then resulted in the Lakers sending Fisher to the Rockets in a deal that landed Jordan Hill in the purple and gold.

With the Lakers having one more roster spot open, they could very well take a chance on Beasley and I think it would be a good gamble.   He comes with baggage, but in a season where expectations aren’t exactly high like in years past, and young players already added in Nick Young, Wesley Johnson, and Jordan Farmar, Beasley could fit the bill for a one year tryout with the team.

Unlike in Phoenix, Beasley would not be expected to carry the load on this team, but simply be an effective piece the puzzle.   With questions about his maturity, he may not be ready to shoulder the responsibility of being a “core player”.

While he has had his share of off the court issues, he is still a young player that may just need the right situation to keep him focused.   He has shown promise in his young career, averaging 14.1 PPG over five seasons, including a 19.2 PPG average in 2010 with Minnesota.

With his ability to stretch the floor, Beasley at 6’10 could fit the role that Mike D’Antoni expects out of the power forwards in his offense.  The other positive for Beasley would be being surrounded by veterans like Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Steve Nash.

We are sure to hear more about this situation as it unfolds.  We’ll keep you updated here at LakerNation.com!

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