Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles Lakers’

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Despite the fact he was still rehabbing a tear in his Achilles tendon, Kobe Bryant was awarded a two-year contract extension on November 18th. The terms of the contract are two years for approximately $48.5 million.

Bryant and the Lakers have faced a lot of backlash since the move, with fans and analysts calling Bryant selfish for taking so much money from a team that has plenty of other issues. Bryant took to his twitter page the next night to defend the extension. Bryant tweeted “The cap rules players have to be “selfless” on To “help” BILLIONAIRE owners R the same cap rules the owners LOCKED US out to put in #think.” He also tweeted “Don’t just learn ur sport .. Learn the sports industry #futureathletes.”

There is no denying the impact that Kobe has had in the NBA and that he has earned this money. However, Bryant may need to take some of his own advice and learn the sports industry. If nothing else is true about this industry, the one fact of the industry is loyalty means nothing. With these tweets and the situation in general, a bigger question can be raised. Should teams have to pay homage to there former stars?

To start this off lets look at some of the contracts of the biggest stars in major sports. Derek Jeter, at the age of 39, just signed a one-year contract for $12 million. This comes after he signed a three-year contract for $45 million at the age of 36. Playing in a total of 17 games last year, Jeter hit .190 with 1 HR and 7 RBI. He then injured his ankle and was done for the season.

Bryant’s and Jeter’s situations are even more similar when you look at the situations of their teams. Both the Yankees and the Lakers are in a free fall. Both teams have money tied up in bad contracts and have a general lack of talent on their respective teams. Yet, Jeter and Bryant had no issue taking these large contracts that deter their teams from fixing their issues.

The argument for Jeter and Bryant making their salaries is that they need to be paid not only for what they will do, but what they have done. It is undeniable that these two are among the best of all time in their respective games. Jeter led the Yankees to 5 World Series rings & may go down as the greatest shortstop of all time. Similarly, Kobe has 5 rings and arguments (granted to a lesser extent) have been made that he is the greatest basketball player of all time.

The question ultimately comes down to this. Do teams have pay their long tenured players more because of their past actions. The answer to this question varies. Look at Jim Irsay. He only had to pay Peyton Manning what his contract already was. Instead he released Manning and selected Andrew Luck with the #1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. This move was praised by some and criticized by other. However, there was one universal agreement, there is no loyalty in sports.

This example can go even further. When Danny Ainge traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, he was bombarded with criticism for having a lack of loyalty to his players. Yet, the deal was better for the team, as a whole, in the long term as they brought in expiring contracts and future draft picks to build their team with.

The one option not many people mention is why don’t these players just take less money. That’s the situation of future Hall of Fame PF Dirk Nowitzki. Reports have surfaced that Nowitzki will want to slash his salary by more than half next season so that his team, the Dallas Mavericks, can continue to rebuild. This is an admirable situation, which, unfortunately, does not happen as often as it should in the professional sports.

So is it wrong to trade Pierce or release Manning? At the end of the day, an owner, general manager, and coach need to decide whom they have to be loyal to. Do you have to be loyal to a specific player or an entire team? Last time I checked, there are 52 players on an NFL team and 24 on and MLB team. So why must you be loyal to the minority? Yes this is a utilitarian type of thinking, but it isn’t as far fetched, as it may seem. Must there be more loyalty to Kobe Bryant then an entire team and that teams fan base? That is the ultimate question.

  1. NBA Pacific Division Preview

     

    Over the past year, after some major injuries, offseason trades, and free agency signings, the Pacific Division has solidified itself as an interesting division. With a couple of legitimate contenders, and a couple more interesting teams with very exciting cores that’ll compete in the very near future, this division will be fun to watch.

    With that in mind, let’s check out projections for this coming season.

     

    1. LA Clippers – Staples Center may be home to both the Lakers and the Clippers, but there’s no confusion about who’s the team in LA. Chris Paul is coming off a dominant 17 and 10 season, Blake Griffin is one of the premiere power forwards in the league, and DeAndre Jordan continues to be a force down low on both sides of the ball. The team acquired Jared Dudley, the versatile forward and elite defender, in the offseason for Eric Bledsoe, the athletic backup guard whom had no room to play. New coach Doc Rivers will prove to be a fantastic addition, as he’ll bring championship experience and a strong track record for developing players. Jamaal Crawford, JJ Reddick and the rest of the bench provide depth and versatility that will be key in their push towards the playoffs and beyond.  RECORD: 58-24
    2. Golden State Warriors – I’d put this team in the more 1A category than the 2 in this division. Steph Curry has mounted himself into the conversation of best guard in the NBA. He amazingly continues to develop into a better and more advanced scorer and facilitator. Klay Thompson had one of the most memorable playoffs in recent memory as he’s become a premiere shooter in this league. He and Curry pair to make the most exciting young backcourt in the NBA, with only room to grow. David Lee is perennially one of the most underrated big men in the NBA, capable of putting up 20 and 10 any given night. In July, the Warriors signed one of the premier free agents available, SF Andre Iguodala to a 4 year $48M deal. Paired with Curry, Thompson, Lee, and C Andrew Bogut, the Warriors have one of the strongest starting 5 in the NBA, and expect so see them deep into the upcoming playoffs. RECORD 57-25
    3. LA Lakers – With Kobe Bryant out indefinitely while recovering from a torn Achilles suffered in last years playoffs, the Lakers will struggle to find an identity this season. With an aging roster made up of Pau Gasol, Steve Nash, and other older veterans, the Lakers are left with a team that’s on the downturn. Gasol and Nash may not have much left, plus with Kobe out, the team is left with little to work with. While the team is strong enough to maybe compete for an 8th seed to sneak into the playoffs once the mamba returns, there isn’t enough on this roster to do much else. Look for the lakers to try and dump some of those big contracts by the deadline. Gasol could prove to be a big piece in a contender’s immediate future. But he isn’t in the cards for the Lakers much longer. RECORD: 40-42
    4. Sacramento Kings – The Kings may not compete this year, but they have a very exciting core to build around for the near future. They signed Demarcus Cousins to a 4 year extension just last month. Although he has some character concerns, his talent and impact on the game are undeniable. And at just 23 years old, he’s the type of guy to build your team around. Additionally, I think SG Ben McLemore, the 1st round pick out of Kansas this year was a fantastic get. No one expected him to fall to #7 so the Kings got a steal. He’s a big athletic guard, who at 6”5 can drive and finish in traffic, but has such a pure shot that he has drawn comparisons to Ray Allen. Although its early to jump to conclusions, the Kings are no doubt on the right track. RECORD 32-50
    5. Phoenix Suns – Although the Suns will not compete for a title this year, they’ve made some smart moves to set themselves up for success in the coming years. They acquired Eric Bledsoe, the athletic young guard from the Clippers in a trade this offseason. New GM Ryan McDonough, who came over from the Celtics this past year, pegged Bledsoe as his point guard of the future. McDonough also wheeled and dealed this offseason, trading established veterans and an ability to win at a mediocre level now, for expiring contracts, draft picks, and the chance to win later. By some miracle the Suns turned Hakeem Warrick and Robin Lopez into a top-13 1st round pick from the Timberwolves, meaning Phoenix will receive the pick this year as long as Minnesota doesn’t fall to the bottom 13 of the league, in which case they’d receive it the next year that the Wolves don’t fall into the bottom 13. The Suns also traded Luis Scola to the Pacers for their unprotected 1st round pick. And lastly, they traded C Marcin Gortat to the Wizards for a top-12 protected 1st round pick. The Suns were smart to go all in for this coming draft, as it is the most heralded draft in the past decade, with stars like OSU’s Marcus Smart, and expected one-and-done’s Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, and Jabari Parker. The Suns will look terrible this year after trading nearly all of their established talent for young athletes and draft picks, but with Eric Bledsoe, 1st round pick C Alex Len, out of Maryland who’s big frame and physical style of play will translate well to the NBA, and all those draft picks, the Suns are built for sustained success. Just wait 2 or 3 years before buying your playoff tickets.  RECORD: 17-65

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Ever since the monumental draft night trades in 2008, the NBA has essentially become a league of superpowers. Players have foregone the ideal of rivalries for example, Magic vs. Bird in favor of joining forces to gain guaranteed championships. This started on that infamous night and has continued with signings of LeBron James to the Miami Heat and Dwight Howard to the Houston Rockets. With Carmelo Anthony set to join the free agent market after this coming season, speculation is heavy that he will go out to the west coast to join the Los Angeles Lakers. While a combination of Carmelo and Kobe may seem scary to some, an even more terrifying group may be forming down south.

Recently, on his Grantland podcast, Jalen Rose suggested a more than real possibility that Kevin Durant will be taking his talents to Houston to team up with Dwight Howard and one of his best friends, James Harden. Durant is eligible for free agency in 2016, which would be when he is midway through his prime. If Durant has not won a championship by then, it is more than likely that he will be packing his bags and going to H-Town. Another motivation for Durant to go the Rockets, He played his college ball at the University of Texas. The possible return has its storyline already written.

However, on PTI Friday, host Michael Wilbon made another interesting suggestion for Durants possible destination. Wilbon suggested that Durant might go to the Washington Wizards to team up with PG John Wall and blossoming SG Bradley Beal. This possibility has an even better storyline, based on the fact that Durant was born and raised in Washington D.C.. The Wizards will have a younger and faster core than the Rockets. They will also probably have more cap space to bring in a couple of smaller pieces, which could entice Durant even more.

This potential move from OKC won’t only affect Durant. This move could potential change the power shifts in the NBA. The reason for this is, with Durant gone, Russel Westbrook is likely to move out of Oklahoma City as well. Potential landing spots for him could include the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, or even the Houston Rockets (assuming Durant doesn’t go there). Any of those teams, with the addition of Westbrook, could be extremely deadly going forward.

These hypothetical moves have a lot of variables in play within the next few years. What if Kyrie Irving goes to the Lakers? What if Dwight Howard gets upset in Houston? What if John Wall leaves Washington? Most importantly, what if this superteam trend dies out? These are all valid questions, but assuming the majority of these things don’t happen, it is very possible we will see two new superpowers in the NBA, while the Thunder take the brunt of the storm.