February 28, 2014 — 7:30 PM (PST)
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
The Lakers will face off vs. inter-state rivals Sacramento Kings in a battle of Western Conference bottom dwellers who destine themselves for a lottery pick in this upcoming NBA Draft.
Currently suffering a 3-game losing streak, the Lakers seek to get back on a winning track and end another dismal month on a positive note by playing with high energy tonight. The Lakers could not quite finish their comeback vs. Grizzlies after falling behind by 19 in the first half.
Along with Gasol, who I will mention later, SG Jodie Meeks continues to have a career year this season, scoring 19 points while shooting 7-10 from the field vs. Grizzlies. Meeks has scored 14.4 PPG this season while shooting a very high 39.4 % from behind the 3-point line.
The Kings will be without their leader C DeMarcus Cousins tonight to serve a one-game suspension for his actions vs. Rockets. Therefore, the Kings will be led by SF Rudy Gay, an all around player who averages 20.1 PPG and 6.3 RPG. Lakers‘ F Wesley Johnson will need to lock him up tonight in order to come away with a victory tonight.
PG - Kendall Marshall / Isaiah Thomas [Advantage: Kings]
SG - Jodie Meeks / Ben McLemore [Advantage: Lakers]
SF - Kent Bazemore / Rudy Gay[Advantage: Kings]
PF - Wesley Johnson / Jason Thompson[Advantage: Even]
C - Pau Gasol/ Aaron Gray[Advantage: Lakers]
Notable Bench Players
Kings: PGRay McCallum, F Reggie Evans, F Derrick Williams
Lakers: PG Jordan Farmar, C Chris Kaman, F Jordan Hill, G Marshon Brooks
Bench Advantage: Lakers
Kings: Out-C DeMarcus Cousins, Out-G Jason Terry
Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant, Out-PG Steve Nash, Out-F/G Nick Young, Out-G Xavier Henry
Keys for Lakers Success
Feed the Bigs: Kings C Demarcus Cousins will miss tonight’s game, leaving a gaping hole in the post for the Kings that the Lakers must take full advantage of. C Pau Gasol had a successful 2nd half vs. Grizzlies by scoring 12 points while dishing out 3 assists after teammate PG Jordan Farmar insisted the team ditch the small-ball philosophy and run the entire offense through Gasol. Although the Lakers fell short vs. Grizzlies, the Gasol led Lakers out scored the Grizzlies by 15 in the 2nd half. Even if Gasol is not out on the floor, The Lakers should run their offense around C Chris Kaman, who people can argue as one of the most offensively skilled center in the NBA.
Tonight, the Lakers should and will get a victory vs. the Kings. That is if they play to their strength, which means to play through Gasol and Kaman. Currently, the Lakers would do anything to win a game, whether it’s within their usual offensive system or not. Regardless of the rankings these two teams currently sit themselves in, a win vs. Kings always brings peace to the city of Los Angeles.
After 16 NBA Championships and 31 Western Conference Titles, the Lakers have been one of the most storied and successful franchises in NBA history. From the eras of West, Chamberlain, Kareem, Magic, and Kobe, there have been countless record-breaking performances and memorable games that have added to Lakers glory. Let’s take a look back at some notable moments for the purple and gold, from the week of February 23-March 1, over their 66-year history.
February 23, 2007
The Lakers ousted the reeling Celtics 122-96, behind 38 points from Kobe Bryant at the Staples Center. Bryant, who added nine assists, scored 22 points in the first quarter, going 9 for 12 from the field. This game marked the second largest regular-season margin of victory in the history of the Los Angeles-Boston rivalry.
February 23, 2010
Kobe Bryant hit a game-winning three-pointer over Rudy Gay with 4.3 seconds left in regulation to lift the Lakers over the Grizzlies 99-98 in Memphis. Bryant’s game-winner occurred during his first time back on the hardwood after missing five straight games due to an ankle injury. He scored a team-high 32 points, including the Lakers’ final nine points of the game. Pau Gasol finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds for the Lakers in the win.
February 28, 1987
Lakers broadcaster Chick Hearn broadcasted his 2,000th straight game for Los Angeles in a 107-100 loss to the Utah Jazz. His unprecedented streak spanned 3,338 consecutive Lakers games over 36 years.
February 28, 2008
Los Angeles won its tenth straight game with a 106-88 victory over the Miami Heat. Jordan Farmar led a balanced attack for the Lakers, as he scored a career-high 24 points. Kobe Bryant added 21 points, while Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol chipped in for the first place Lakers with 13 points apiece. This win marked the 23rd double-digit winning streak in franchise history.
February 29, 2000
The Lakers defeated the Portland Trailblazers 90-87 in Oregon. Going into the game, both teams had records of 45-11, as well as 11-game winning streaks. Shaquille O’Neal led the way for the purple and gold with 23 points and 10 rebounds, while Kobe Bryant added 22. This victory marked the twelfth straight Los Angeles win, en route to an eventual 19-game winning streak.
The Los Angeles Lakers made a huge statement to its organization and its loyal fan base.
Kobe Bean Bryant will be a Laker for life.
The Lakers officially signed superstar SG Kobe Bryant Monday morning to a 2-year extension worth $48.5 million, according to ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Ramona Shelburne. At $48.5 million, Bryant will receive $23.5 million in 2014-15 and $25 million in 2015-16 from the Lakers. Bryant’s contract gives the Lakers an open shot at signing a free agent to a maximum contract either during this off-season or the next.
“This was easy,” Bryant told Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski on Monday night. “This wasn’t a negotiation. The Lakers made their offer with cap and building a great team in mind while still taking care of me as a player. I simply agreed to the offer.”
Assuming Bryant fulfills his new contract, he will become the longest tenured player in NBA history to play with a single franchise—playing for 2 decades with the Los Angeles Lakers.
However, Lakers fans have had mixed reactions in regards to Bryant’s new extension. Due to the league’s complex new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), most Lakers fans have difficulties answering the following question;
How does Bryant’s extension affect the Lakers’ cap room and their quest to help Kobe win another championship to tie Michael Jordan’s 6 championships?
Using their views, let’s take a look at the Lakers’ current salary cap situation for this off-season.
Lakers’ Current Salary Cap Situation
As Larry Coon noted, the Lakers currently have Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and Robert Sacre on books for next season, while Elias Harris has a non-guaranteed contract and Nick Young has a player option next season. The Lakers will also have a 1st round draft pick, which would fall to the 15th pick if season ended today at a cap hit of about $1.5 million.
Here is the scenario that Larry Coon gives the Lakers to work with:
“If they remove both [Elias] Harris and [Steve] Nash, their team salary will drop to about $34.44 million, which would give them about $28.46 million in cap room. This would give them the opportunity to sign one maximum-salary player, and a second player at around the mid-level amount. They would also be eligible to utilize the Room Mid-Level exception for around $2.7 million.”
Now, let’s say the Lakers use the Room Mid-Level exception on current SG Jodie Meeks, who is averaging 13.3 PPG and shooting 47.7% from behind the three-point line this season.
Also, lets assume the Lakers re-sign PG Jordan Farmar and F Wesley Johnson to veteran minimum deals.
According to Eric Pincus, “Their cap holds will be just $915,243 next summer…the Lakers can negotiate small (7.5%) raises for each, if both sides are willing — after the team uses its cap room.”
Pincus also mentioned that C Pau Gasol and C/PF Jordan Hill’s cap holds stand at $20.3 million and $6.7 million respectively for this off-season. The Lakers would definitely need to renounce Gasol’s bird rights and possibly Hill’s also to make a legitimate run at a max-contract player. Furthermore, Gasol would need to accept a steep discount, approximately $5.5 million to $8 million per season, to have any chance to rejoin the Lakers under any scenario.
After retaining Bryant, Young, Sacre, Meeks, Johnson, Farmar, and a 1st round pick before the 10-day July moratorium period ends, the Lakers would then maintain up to approximately $26.63 million of cap space to sign free agents this off-season.
Using the facts obtained from Larry Coon’s and Eric Pincus’ columns, let’s see the most plausible route the Lakers can take from here.
Scenario #1: Sign Carmelo Anthony and choose between Pau Gasol or Jordan Hill
The Lakers told Bryant they have room to sign one max contract.
After hours of studying the salary cap and analyzing multiple reports, Carmelo Anthony seems to be the one and only max player the Lakers can reasonably sign next summer.
Anthony, a 29-year-old superstar forward for the New York Knicks, is currently in his 11th season in the NBA with career averages of 25.0 PPG, 6.4 RPG, and 3.1 APG. Anthony had a monster 2012-2013 season, scoring a career high of 28.7 PPG and leading the Knicks to the 2nd round of the playoffs.
The Knicks, however, are currently struggling with injuries and a lack of team chemistry, causing them to fall to a dismal 3-10 record to start off this season.
To make things worse for the Knicks, they cannot retool their roster around Anthony as their roster currently stands due to expensive contracts. Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani, two overpaid players way past their primes, will most likely opt-in for $23.4 million and $11.5 million salary respectively next season. Tyson Chandler also has another year left in his contract, worth $14.6 million next season
According to HoopsRumors.com’s Luke Adams, Anthony can earn a max contract for either $129 million for 5 years with the Knicks, or for 96 million for 4 years with another team, including the Lakers as a free agent this off-season. Anthony could also have a player option after his 3rd season under both potential contracts.
Anthony and Bryant have a very close relationship both on and off the court. Bryant and Anthony built their relationship from being teammates at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, where they both made significant contributions in winning two gold medals. Also, their wives Lala Anthony and Vanessa Bryant have a very close friendship as well.
If Anthony signs with the Lakers at the maximum level, Anthony would most likely earn $22.45 million salary his first season, giving the Lakers an additional $4.18 million to sign other free agents, including Hill and Gasol.
For the Lakers to retain Jordan Hill in that scenario, the Lakers would have to renounce Jordan Hill’s bird rights and re-sign him for the remaining cap space of $4.18 million. At this amount, Gasol would most likely not re-sign, leaving the Lakers with no other choice but to re-sign Hill.
If, however, Anthony somehow decides to take a minor paycut to join the Lakers for about $90 million over 4 years instead, he would earn approximately $21 million his first year, leaving the Lakers with $5.63 million cap room left to spend.
At $5.63 million, the Lakers would potentially have the option to sign either Hill or Gasol. Unfortunately, the new CBA will most likely not allow the Lakers to sign both of the valuable big men, forcing the Lakers’ front office to choose between Hill and Gasol.
Bottom line: signing Carmelo Anthony will give Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers their best chance to make another championship run in the short term. However, the Lakers would have to become very creative with their salary cap space if they have any hopes of re-signing both Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill under this scenario.
Scenario #2: Sign Rudy Gay, Re-Sign Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill
In the scenario in which Carmelo Anthony decides to re-sign with the New York Knicks, the Lakers can potentially make an acquisition that would also appease Kobe Bryant.
Rudy Gay, who last season was traded by Memphis Grizzlies to the Toronto Raptors in a multi-team trade, has an opt-out clause in his contract that will allow him become a free agent following this season.
Gay, a 27 year-old NBA veteran, has averaged a solid 18.0 PPG and 5.8 RPG throughout his eight year NBA career. Like Gasol before the Lakers acquired him, Gay has been the best player on his team the majority of his career, despite never making an all-star team. Gay has also shown significant improvement defensively, playing with a lot of hustle and energy on that end lately.
Although the Raptors have a good nucleus of young talent to build around Gay, the Raptors still have little chance to make a run at an NBA Championship.
The Lakers would gain a solid consolation prize in Gay if he opts out after this season.
Gay would most likely not turn down the opportunity to team up with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers to make a run at a title, if the Lakers were to offer him a contract. Like Gasol did after he moved from the Memphis Grizzlies to the Lakers, Gay could evolve from being the best player on a mediocre team to an all-star player who contributes to a title-contending team like the Lakers.
If the Lakers sign Gay for the market value for 4 years, he should cost the Lakers only about $15 million per season. Therefore, the Lakers could re-sign both Jordan Hill and Pau Gasol under this scenario.
The Lakers would have approximately $11.63 million cap room to share between Hill and Gasol. If the Lakers can convince Gasol to take a huge paycut for $7 million and Hill to accept $4.63 million salary for the 2014-2015 under a 2 or 3 year contract, the Lakers would definitely upgrade their lineup despite losing out on the biggest prize in Carmelo Anthony.
Scenario #3: Wait for the 2015-16 Free Agent Class
If the the Lakers miss on both Carmelo Anthony and Rudy Gay, the Lakers should take the same approach this off-season as they did last off-season.
Sign everyone to one-year contracts.
The formula of placing a bandage on the team this season seems to have worked out fairly well—finding diamond in the rough players like Wesley Johnson and SG Xavier Henry.
Rather than overpaying for a player or signing average players to multi-year contracts, the Lakers could build the team around Bryant with eager young players who seek to revitalize their careers under the tutelage of Bryant.
This current Lakers team has shown that they have the heart and energy to compete with any team in the NBA. They have already defeated the Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors, and Houston Rockets without Bryant—staying afloat at a respectable 7-7 record.
Through patience and waiting until the 2015-16 free agent class, the Lakers could potential have many potential free agents to choose from.
The 2015-16 free agent class includes Minnesota Timberwolves C/PF Kevin Love and PG Ricky Rubio, Boston Celtics PG Rajon Rondo and F Jeff Green, Brooklyn Nets C Brook Lopez, and Indiana Pacers C Roy Hibbert.
If the Lakers are forced to take this route, Bryant’s chance at a title for 2014-15 might become the same as this season. However, it will definitely give him the best chance to win if they sign one of those free agents under this scenario.
The status of Steve Nash determines how much cap room the Lakers have to retool their roster around Kobe Bryant. As mentioned before, the Lakers can either waive Nash or continue supporting him as he attempts to play through nerve damage.
If the Lakers decide to let Nash finish his contract and play next season, the Lakers will not have the cap space to sign Jordan Hill or Pau Gasol under the Carmelo Anthony Scenario, and would have to choose between Hill and Gasol under the Rudy Gay scenario.
Furthermore, Larry Coon explained two additional scenarios in regards to Steve Nash during his interview with Beto Duran and Arash Markazi on ESPN LA Radio’s Mason and Ireland Show, two more possibilities exist in regards to Steve Nash.
If Nash retires, his entire 2014-15 salary would come off the books. Nash and the Lakers would most likely negotiate a buyout after retirement, in which the buyout amount will count against cap, but the Lakers can stretch that cap hit over a three year period.
In the unlikely scenario where Nash retires for medical reasons, the Lakers would receive a full salary cap relief from Nash’s contract while paying him the $9.7 million he is owed for the 2014-2015 season.
Under Scenario #1 and Scenario #2 as previously mentioned, the Lakers will fill the rest of the team with veteran minimum level salary players this off-season, similar to this season. However, the Lakers know how to find talent that have not been utilized to its full potential by other teams. Players such as PF/C DeJuan Blair, C Ryan Hollins, and G/F Brandon Rush are examples of veteran minimum level players who can make a major contribution to the Lakers’ championship run.
Although fans have shown mixed emotions regarding the amount of money Bryant is scheduled to receive on his new extension, we know a few things for a fact:
The Lakers clearly know what they are doing.
Doctors have full confidence that Bryant will return to how he played prior to his devastating Achilles injury.
And finally, the Lakers and Bryant are fully committed to a final NBA championship run.
Tired of hearing about the Dwightmare that seems to take a new turn every day? Yeah, me too. With the latest turn of events we see that Dwight Howard reportedly has said that he plans to play in Brooklyn next season. This coming from a source close to ESPN basketball insider, Stephen A. Smith. Here’s what the source said via BleacherReport:
A source close to the situation found that the Los Angeles Lakers center recently told Rudy Gay, “on the court,” that he made a mistake by getting traded to the Toronto Raptors.
D12 allegedly went on to say that the swingman “should have waited” until next year, when the two stars could have wound up in Brooklyn together.”
Notice the fact that the report says that Dwight spoke to Rudy Gay “on the court” regarding Brooklyn. The Lakers haven’t played either The Grizzlies or The Raptors since the trade that sent Gay to Toronto went down. This leads to questions of credibility about the source that gave out this kind of information. Is it just another story to fire up the rumor mill? Does it have any clout in the sports world whatsoever? These are questions that lead me to believe that these reports are highly exaggerated or fabricated entirely.
This was also taken from the BleacherReport article regarding Howard wanting to go to The Nets:
Ryan Ruocco, Smith’s co-host on the radio program, asked if Dwight was “delusional” by thinking he is still going to wind up in Brooklyn. Smith confirmed that D12 truly believes he will be a Net and that the star center thinks he can make something happen to get there in the near future.
It’s because of stories like this that make me nervous about where Dwight will be at the start of next season. Whether or not the report is true about Dwight speaking to Gay on the court, it doesn’t cover up the fact that Dwight may very well have his sights set on Brooklyn and not Los Angeles.
That February 21st trade deadline is coming in hot, and who knows what moves (if any) Mitch Kupchak is going to make. I feel if the Los Angeles front office isn’t at least 80% sure Dwight Howard will resign with The Lakers we need to trade him. The worst possible scenario would be Dwight leaving to free agency and Los Angeles getting absolutely nothing but the door shutting behind Dwight as he leaves Staples Center. However, it’s still unlikely that Mitch will make a move even if Dwight wants to leave due to the foot injury to Pau Gasol. Gasol is still up to 7 weeks from returning to the lineup, and LA can’t afford to be without a big man until then. The Lakers front office would have to trade Dwight for another big man such as Brook Lopez of the Brooklyn Nets in order for a trade to work without leaving The Lakers in a situation where they lack a front court entirely.
Personally, I hope Dwight Howard stays with Los Angeles; sure he’s not been the power house Dwight Howard we all knew, but he has the potential to be. Once all this hype over The Lakers dissipates and Dwight continues to heal and move forward from his back injury last April, he’ll come back to being more of his former dominating self. One thing Dwight needs to know is that when Kobe Bryant retires (unfortunately, he has to at some point), Dwight will become the centerpiece of
Los Angeles, it will become his team. Kobe could play a few more years should he so choose, but if The Mamba sticks to his guns he plans on calling it quits at age 35. His 35th birthday would land right before the start of the next and possibly final season for Kobe Bryant.
Can Dwight wait that long? Does he even want to be King in LA? More questions about the Dwightmare continue to circulate and won’t likely cease until Dwight lands somewhere and inks a long-term contract. I want to hear what you think, where do you think Dwight will end up after this season? I suppose only time can truly tell.