Andy and Brian Kamenetzky bring you a daily look into the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA. The Kamenetzky Brothers have covered the Lakers since 2005 for a variety of media outlets including the LA Times, ESPN and The Athletic, with a unique style combining traditional journalism, informal commentary and offbeat humor. They'll break down all the latest news surrounding L.A.'s premiere franchise on the "Locked On Lakers" podcast, a part of the "Locked On Podcast Network". #nba #lakers
Lakers Lose By 44 to Sixers, An Angry LeBron Says "A Lot" Must Change Going Forward
LeBron James became the NBA's all time leader in minutes played on Monday in Philadelphia, combining regular season and postseason floor time.
Never in those 66K+ minutes has LeBron had 48 where he lost by more than the 44 points the Lakers lost by to the Sixers. It was, by amount, the fourth largest loss margin the franchise has ever suffered. And again, the franchise has played many, many games of basketball over the decades.
It was, in short, a monumental disaster, on the heels of arguably the best game the Lakers have played all year, beating the Cavs in Cleveland on Saturday. So what needs to change going forward? "A lot," James said after the game. He didn't elaborate as to what, even asked a few times. But on a night like Monday, there are plenty of things to point to. Defensive coverages? The Lakers absorbed a 3-point barrage and seemed slow to adjust. They had bad possessions and untimely turnovers.
So there are plenty of things that have to get better ahead of Wednesday's gam
28/11/2023 • 36 minutes 55 seconds
Anthony Davis vs. Joel Embiid: Who Wins Monday's Matchup of Elite Centers?
The Lakers are in Philadelphia Monday, facing a Sixers team with the reigning MVP who is playing at a similar level this year, in Joel Embiid. It will be, as it always is when Anthony Davis faces off against other elite, MVP-level players, a measuring game for Davis. The scrutiny is always going to be there, because the perception (and, frankly, the reality) is that for whatever reason—sometimes his fault, sometimes not—Davis simply has too many games where you can't feel his impact.
Even when some stars don't play well, the best players are always a presence. And the biggest criticism some have of AD is that there are too many games where you just don't notice he's there.
Will this be one? History says no, because Davis has played very well in limited action against Philadelphia over the last couple of seasons, including games where he's outplayed Embiid. He's coming off a huge game Saturday in Cleveland. He knows the questions are out there, and whatever he does will be under major s
27/11/2023 • 38 minutes 8 seconds
Bonus Episode: LeBron Struggles, but Anthony Davis Fuels Big 121-115 Win Over Cavaliers
The Lakers kicked off a challenging road trip on Saturday in Cleveland, and wouldn't you know it? The Cavs got healthy just in time for LA's arrival.
This is a good team when everyone's available, ramping up the degree of difficulty. Especially given that the team was missing Jared Vanderbilt, Gabe Vincent, Rui Hachimura and Cam Reddish.
And the Lakers responded well, even on a night when LeBron James wasn't sharp. 22 points, but on 8-23 shooting, including 1-9 from the 3-point line. So instead of relying on James, which is what the Lakers had done for most of the season for damn near everything, they got big performances from everyone else. Anthony Davis? Massive. 32/13, with two steals and three blocks. Austin Reaves led the team with 10 dimes, and chipped in 15 points. Max Christie had easily his best game of the season, and was particularly influential on the defensive end.
Christian Wood and Jaxson Hayes contributed. Taurean Prince found ways to chip in that weren't about perimete
26/11/2023 • 20 minutes 28 seconds
Lakers Lose to Mavericks 104-101 After Late Mistakes Doom 4th Quarter Comeback
The Lakers had an opportunity to give themselves something to be thankful for today, but in the end... no. They lose to the Mavericks at the Crypt, 104-101.
After entering the fourth quarter down 20, the Lakers shut down the Mavericks offense almost completely, managing not only to eat up the deficit but actually take a lead with a little more than a minute to play. At that point, though, it wasn't a comeback that fell short, it was a lead that they lost down the stretch. And it was thanks to missed free throws (four of them in the last four-plus minutes), a bad turnover from LeBron (after great play in the rest of the quarter) and a really bad defensive mistake from Austin Reaves, leaving Kyrie Irving just a little too open for three. (Reaves, like LeBron, was to that point a huge reason the Lakers had a chance to win.)
So in the end, it was a missed opportunity. One the Lakers could have used to give themselves a little breathing room ahead of a challenging road trip. And more than t
23/11/2023 • 36 minutes 22 seconds
The Lakers Rout Jazz 131-99, Win Group A for In-Season Tournament... But Cam Reddish Injured
Whether because the Lakers get up for the new in-season tourney or because the Lakers, as it turned out, had a pretty fortunate draw in Group A (Memphis, Portland and Utah are somewhere between bad and terrible, depending on your POV) or a little bit of both, it's hard to argue the results.
Tuesday, the Lakers led wire-to-wire, routing the Jazz at the Crypt, 131-99.
The Lakers win Group A (4-0) and now have run their record to 9-6 overall, and took full advantage of a soft spot in their schedule ahead of a tough game Wednesday at home against the Mavericks and a tough road trip starting Saturday in Cleveland. (The Cavs, it's worth noting, could be without Donovan Mitchell.) Tuesday, though, the Lakers were in full control. Virtually everyone who played contributed in a very positive way, starting with Anthony Davis (26/16) and LeBron James (17/7/9), bolstered by good games from D'Angelo Russell (20 points, eight assists, no turnovers) and Austin Reaves (19/5/5).
Other good numbers - 24
22/11/2023 • 35 minutes 49 seconds
How Worried Should the Lakers Be About LeBron's Minutes? Time to Move Taurean Prince to the Bench?
On the one hand, it's been incredibly fun to watch LeBron James put up the numbers he has over the last couple of weeks. The production has been impressive for any NBA player, before you get into the context of a (more or less) 39-year old in his 21st season. Once you factor that in?
But at the same time, as many viewers on the YouTube channel have noted, there's a price to be paid for this type of effort, when it comes to James, and generally that price has been... well, James himself. Injury. Wear and tear. Fatigue.
Eventually, the bill comes due. Of course, the Lakers were designed to take the load off James, with (in theory) added depth and higher end talent in the form of Austin Reaves and D'Angelo Russell, depth players in Rui Hachimura, Taurean Prince, Gabe Vincent and Christian Wood. But the returns on the supporting cast have been mixed. And that means the burden on LeBron has been higher than anyone (likely including LeBron) would prefer. So how can the Lakers change tha
21/11/2023 • 36 minutes 43 seconds
Superstar Performances from LeBron James, Anthony Davis Lead the Lakers Past Rockets, 105-104
The Lakers haven't had many wins over teams playing good basketball, so Sunday's game against the Rockets was a big opportunity to get some momentum because Houston has defied early predictions and been very, very competitive.
And that's what makes LA's 105-104 win at the Crypt a satisfying one. It's easily one of the better performances of the 14 games the team has now played. And it was fueled through two big performances from the team's stars. Anthony Davis put up 27/10 on 11-15 from the floor, putting a stamp on the game despite battling foul trouble throughout (and fouling out late). And LeBron James continues to dominate. Following Friday's huge game against Portland, James was even better on Sunday, with 37/6/8 on 14-19 shooting. And he hit the final free throw to put the Lakers ahead in the end.
Austin Reaves pitched in with a big fourth quarter, Rui Hachimura did some good things in his 32 minutes of play, and Cam Reddish was a big defensive contributor despite an off night sh
20/11/2023 • 36 minutes 37 seconds
LeBron James (35/5/9) Pushes the Lakers Past Portland Trail Blazers, 107-95
The Lakers got off to a rare great start in the first quarter of their 107-95 win over the Trail Blazers in Portland Friday. Nice to see, but it opened the door for a different trend that was a problem for LA—letting leads get away. For most of the game, LA would push the lead out, but rather than putting Portland away, they'd let them back in.
This until the fourth quarter, when they were able to build a double-digit lead and keep it there. So there's that.
On the positive side, LeBron James just keeps doing amazing, unprecedented things. 35 points, five boards, nine assists on 13-22 from the floor, including five triples. Anthony Davis was much better (especially defensively) Friday after a bad effort on Wednesday against the Kings, swatting five shots and controlling the glass (14 rebounds)
Christian Wood had been a little quiet of late, but was loud (10/10). D'Angelo Russell stayed hot from beyond the arc (4-7).
But while the win might have been uninspiring, it was extremely import
18/11/2023 • 18 minutes 55 seconds
Does NBA Media Avoid Criticizing Austin Reaves? Should Darvin Ham Give Rui Hachimura More Minutes?
The Locked On Lakers YouTube page is a great place to communicate with other Lakers fans and the hosts of the show, and it was the source of today's discussion.
Does the media protect Austin Reaves?
More than a few viewers have noted the difference in how he's treated compared to, say, D'Angelo Russell, believing that Reaves doesn't get enough criticism when he underperforms, whether on this show or across the basketball media landscape more broadly. Is that true? Probably, at least to some degree. But what accounts for it? Certainly the Reaves Story (moppy haired, undrafted, relatively unathletic looking white dude from rural Arkansas ascends RAPIDLY to national team status, Taylor Swift rumors and a new contract) contributes. He's an easy guy to root for. Insanely competitive, works hard, etc. But at the same time, does the story (and his skin color) provide more of a shield than it should?
What about the sense that he's "found money?" That there's still some residual sense that the
17/11/2023 • 37 minutes 19 seconds
Sloppy Lakers Lose 125-110 to Kings, Anthony Davis Has Worst Game Since Season Opener
The three game win streak is over, and in relatively embarrassing fashion. The Lakers lost to the Kings Wednesday night at the Crypt by 15 in a game that wasn't that close, really. Final score, 125-110, as the Lakers fell back into all the habits fans hoped they had dropped in Tuesday's win.
Bad first quarter putting themselves deep in a hole? Check.
Too many turnovers? Cheeeeeeeeck, check, check. 23 in total. So much check.
Problems on the defensive glass? Check.
But one thing they thought they were past? A terrible game from Anthony Davis. Because that, for the first time since the season opener, was a big ol' check. Davis himself said as much, even while acknowledging (when prompted and asked about it specifically) that his hip/adductor muscle is still bugging him. He definitely looked uncomfortable, but bottom line? Davis was bad. Offensively, he was a non-entity. Defensively, four blocks are misleading, because Domantis Sabonis had his way with Davis all night.
All players, even s
16/11/2023 • 39 minutes 1 second
The Lakers Crush Memphis 134-107, Anthony Davis Stakes an Early Claim for Defensive Player of the Year
The Lakers couldn't have scripted Tuesday's game against a broken and battered Memphis Grizzlies squad, the front end of a back-to-back continuing tonight at the Crypt against the surging Sacramento Kings.
The Lakers won the first quarter by 11. They won the second quarter by 12.
Only a couple of days after winning a game despite making only four (4) 3-pointers—almost unheard of in the modern NBA—the Lakers tied a franchise record with 22 makes from downtown, drilling their triples at a 63% clip.
D'Angelo Russell, who has played well but shot poorly, was among those getting hot from beyond the arc. Jaxson Hayes had some quality minutes. Rui Hachimura barely missed a shot en route to 23 points. LeBron James only played 23 minutes. 23 minutes!
But for all the good stuff the Lakers did, the takeaway from Tuesday's laugher of a win was Anthony Davis. He hurt the Grizzlies on the offensive end (19 points, six assists in under 30 minutes) but absolutely laid waste to them on the defensive en
15/11/2023 • 36 minutes 50 seconds
Update on Jarred Vanderbilt's Return, and are the Lakers Better off with Austin Reaves as a Sixth Man?
The Lakers have played with multiple lineups and juggled multiple players in and out of the lineup thanks to wide range of injuries. But one guy that's been missed, and has proven his value by his absence, is Jared Vanderbilt.
And good news! The Lakers said Monday that Vanderbilt's heel injury has healed to the point he can now resume basketball activities and ramp up to a return to game action. How long will that take? Nobody knows! The Lakers didn't say. But while fans surely would have loved a little more info, what the team did say certainly beats the alternative -- that he's still not able to do stuff.
So while it could be another week or so before Vanderbilt is available, it's not too early to think about the impact he'll have on the rotation once he's back.
For starters, he'll likely eat into some of the available minutes for Cam Reddish, who played excellent basketball in LA's consecutive victories over the weekend. (Reddish, by the way, was nominated for the Western Conference
14/11/2023 • 37 minutes 20 seconds
Anthony Davis Leads Lakers to 116-110 win over Portland, LeBron Misses Game with Shin Injury
In many ways, Sunday's 116-110 win over Portland at the Crypt was reminiscent of stretches last year when the Lakers pushed their way up the Western Conference standings. No LeBron James? No worries. Anthony Davis (as it was last year when LeBron was hurt) stepped up in the biggest of ways. With James sidelined after banging shins with Kevin Durant on Friday—Darvin Ham says LBJ was definitely uncomfortable, but the Lakers were definitely being cautious and seemed unconcerned—Davis went for 30 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and three blocks, shooting 10-20 from the floor and hitting all of his second half free throws.
That's getting it done.
But he wasn't alone. Rui Hachimura, filling in for LeBron in the starting lineup, was great. Cam Reddish, who did nice work on both ends in Friday's win did the same on Sunday, scoring 18 points over 38 minutes of run. D'Angelo Russell had 11 dimes against only one turnover. Austin Reaves was strong, coming off the bench for a second straight game
13/11/2023 • 37 minutes 12 seconds
Lakers Come Alive Late, Beat Phoenix 122-119 Behind LeBron James and ... Cam Reddish!!!
For most of the first three quarters, Friday's game in Phoenix looked a lot like some of the other lesser efforts for the Lakers this season, including Wednesday's debacle in Houston. Terrible perimeter shooting, horrible defensive rebounding. Disjointed offensively, sloppy on defense, very little spark.
Then, the lid came off the rim. Six straight made and a lift in defensive pressure and suddenly the swagger was back. And everyone was getting involved. Cam Reddish, though, really stuck out as a positive. He had five triples on the night, after making only two through the first eight games this year. Austin Reaves (who played 35 minutes despite coming off the bench) had some huge fourth quarter buckets. Anthony Davis was much better in the second half than the first (finishing with 18 points, 11 rebounds), and Rui Hachimura was excellent.
And, of course, LeBron James was nails all night. 32 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, plus a steal and a block. He kept the Lakers alive until the
11/11/2023 • 23 minutes 21 seconds
Why Has the Lakers' Offense Been So Bad? Can They Turn it Around Tonight vs. Phoenix Suns?
The Lakers are going to be shorthanded tonight in Phoenix against the Suns, the question is just by how much. Jared Vanderbilt and Gabe Vincent are out. Anthony Davis and Jaxson Hayes are questionable. Meanwhile, Phoenix might have their Big Three on the floor together for the first time this season, if Devin Booker can return to the lineup (it's a possibility) and Bradley Beal, who made his season debut on Wednesday, doesn't suffer a setback.
So winning tonight could be a tall order.
But at the very least, the Lakers need to bring much more energy and effort than they did Wednesday in Houston. That, at least, is something they can control.
Meanwhile, the numbers offensively for the Lakers are genuinely awful. Like, basically across the board. They're the worst 3-point shooting team in the NBA, thanks in large part to poor work to this point from LeBron James, D'Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves. They're among the worst offensive rebounding teams in the league. They're a historically ba
10/11/2023 • 36 minutes 59 seconds
Without Anthony Davis, Lakers Get Rolled by the Rockets in Houston, Drop to 3-5...
It has been a tough go for the Lakers in the early going of the 2023-24 NBA season, no question. Huge chunks of the rotation have either been in and out of the lineup, or in the case of Gabe Vincent and Jared Vanderbilt, basically out. Austin Reaves got off to a terrible start before starting to right the ship, and now Anthony Davis is on the shelf with muscle spasms in his hip/groin area.
Meanwhile, the strength of schedule has been intense.
But Wednesday, the Lakers did something they haven't done all year, even with all the adversity — they didn't bother to show up. LA was flat from the get go, and never came close to competing on the same level as the Rockets, fell behind big early and didn't mount any type of challenge in an embarrassing 128-94 loss in Houston.
Save Rui Hachimura, who returned to the lineup after finally being released from the NBA's concussion protocol, the Lakers were awful. Christian Wood, starting in place of Davis had no points, and only took one shot. LeBron
09/11/2023 • 32 minutes 52 seconds
Why Can't LeBron James Get Any Calls? Plus, James vs. Dillon Brooks Tonight in Houston
The Lakers are likely to have Rui Hachimura tonight when they face the Rockets in Houston. They might have Anthony Davis, who sat out the second half of Monday's loss to Miami. They might have Jaxson Hayes, who missed the entire game on Monday. They won't have Jared Vanderbilt or Gabe Vincent, for sure.
So maybe the Lakers will be significantly more whole than they were on Monday... or maybe they won't.
That's been the story of the season so far for the Lakers, who haven't been awful, but haven't been able to get themselves into a groove, either, thanks in part to a very challenging early season schedule, some very poor performances for a few games (looking at you, Austin Reaves... though with less frustration now that things seem to have turned around) and major injury issues that have robbed the Lakers of half of the rotation.
That's the context for tonight's game against a very competent Rockets team, playing .500 ball at 3-3 and featuring a starting lineup (VanVleet, Green, Brooks,
08/11/2023 • 35 minutes 50 seconds
Lakers Lose 108-107 to Heat... Anthony Davis Leaves Game with Injury, D'Angelo Russell Ejected
The Lakers were down a point with just over two minutes remaining Monday in Miami. And they were down a point when time expired. They had five possessions to try and take the lead, but missed four shots and committed an offensive foul. The result was a 108-107 loss to the Heat. And it was a tale of contrasts, because on the one hand, the Lakers played without Jared Vanderbilt, Gabe Vincent, Rui Hachimura and Jaxson Hayes (while welcoming Taurean Prince back into the lineup). Anthony Davis left in the third quarter with spasms in his hip, and then D'Angelo Russell was ejected in the second half for arguing calls.
So it took a seriously gritty, high-end effort to stay in this one, given how few bodies were available to them down the stretch. On the other, they had a chance to win. Multiple chances, really, and couldn't get a bucket to fall. Add this one to the loss against Sacramento where the Lakers missed a chance to win a game against a good team, on the road.
Individually, these don'
07/11/2023 • 36 minutes 21 seconds
Breaking Down the Lakers' Bad First Quarters and Rebounding Issues. Plus, does Russell-Reaves work?
Injuries have become a significant issue for the Lakers as they take the court tonight against the Heat in Miami. Taurean Prince should return to the floor, fingers crossed, but Gabe Vincent, Jared Vanderbilt, Rui Hachimura and Jalen Hood-Schifino remain out, and now Jaxson Hayes has found his way to the injury report as well.
Most teams would struggle missing multiple players from their rotation, even while the stars are in uniform.
But the Lakers have other issues that have shown themselves to be a problem, even before the injury bug started biting. Namely, the Lakers have been hammered on the glass, and as a result are giving up a ton of second chance points (while also doing very little to generate second chance points, themselves). Not unrelated, the Lakers are consistently falling behind thanks to bad first quarters. Even the games they've won have been come-from-behind. Meaning the Lakers are constantly playing uphill.
All of this stuff was in full display, by the way, against t
06/11/2023 • 38 minutes 10 seconds
Did Austin Reaves Break His Slump? Plus, Christian Wood's Surpising Defense for the Lakers.
There is still a buzz around the Lakers following Wednesday's incredibly exciting 130-125 OT win over the Clippers at the Crypt. It was a game that featured big comebacks on both sides, incredible performances by each team's stars, big moments for role players, and—thankfully from the Lakers' perspective—the first real moments of productivity from Austin Reaves this season.
It came after arguably his worst half of basketball as a pro, where he missed four of five shots and tied a career high with five turnovers (that's his career high for a game, not a half) and somewhat ironically, had the Lakers not been so shorthanded on the evening, missing Taurean Prince, Gabe Vincent, Rui Hachimura, Jalen Hood-Schifino and Jared Vanderbilt, there's a non-zero chance that Darvin Ham might have put Reaves on the bench.
Instead, he was out there by necessity, and finally found a groove about halfway through the third quarter, and remained a key contributor through the rest of the game, including big
03/11/2023 • 35 minutes 54 seconds
Shorthanded Lakers Beat Clippers in OT, 130-125, in Gutsy Team Effort
In theory, it should have been the Clippers who were short on players, having executed a significant trade for James Harden that for the time being, at least, left them with fewer live bodies to put on the floor. But in reality, it was the Lakers. Jarred Vanderbilt was already out. Rui Hachimura is now in the concussion protocol. Gabe Vincent was downgraded to doubtful, then just to out thanks to a back injury. Jalen Hood-Schifino? Already shelved with a bum knee. And as the team was warming up, Taurean Prince's knee flared up.
So it's not necessarily surprising that the Clippers got off to a red hot start, running up a 19-point lead on the purple and gold early in the game, and once again it looked like the Lakers would be boat raced by their cross-building rivals. (And meanwhile, Austin Reaves was so bad in the first half - five turnovers, 1-5 from the floor) that the Lakers might have been better off if he was hurt, too.)
But rather than pack it in, LA kept grinding. They got it dow
02/11/2023 • 37 minutes 27 seconds
Clippers Get James Harden! How Does this Trade Impact the Lakers and the Western Conference?
The Lakers may have won on Monday and evened their record at 2-2, but the big postgame news had nothing to do with them. The Clippers and Sixers agreed on a massive trade, sending James Harden to LA for draft compensation, mostly. Other human basketballers also moved in the deal, and whether PJ Tucker going to the Clippers or a host of dudes (K-Mart Jr., Nic Batum, Marcus Morris, etc.) going to Philly, some might make a difference, if only on the margins.
But the big thing for the Lakers is what Harden means for the Clippers.
For starters, it means the LAC are likely going to be shorthanded tonight when they "visit" the Lakers. Not in the same way Phoenix was last week (the stars are likely playing) but robbed of some depth. That tilts the game more towards the Lakers and (as it was vs. Phoenix) makes the game more winnable and therefore more important. These head-to-head games can/will have big implications for playoff seeding.
Long term, does this trade vault the Clippers into that t
01/11/2023 • 35 minutes 15 seconds
Anthony Davis, D'Angelo Russell Lead the Lakers to a 106-103 Win Over Magic.
It wasn't pretty, but the Lakers got it done on the second night of a back-to-back, facing a much improved Orlando Magic team at the Crypt. Final score, 106-103, and on a night where LeBron James was present and game—but fairly inefficient and looked very much like a near-40 year old playing on consecutive nights—the Lakers needed Anthony Davis to be a scary, scary monster on the floor.
And man alive, he was terrifying, if you're a Magic fan.
26 points, 19 rebounds, five assists, a steal and three blocks. And perhaps even more importantly, Davis was everywhere on defense, looking every bit like the best player on that side of the ball in this or any other basketball league. But it wasn't just Davis. D'Angelo Russell, who has done just about everything else well in the early going except shoot from the perimeter, got the shot going on Monday. He was 10-14 from the floor (including 3-6 from downtown) en route to 28 points and eight assists. The flow of his game was strong, he set up team
31/10/2023 • 36 minutes 4 seconds
Lakers Lose to Kings in OT, Darvin Ham to Tighten Rotation. Plus, Austin Reaves Is Struggling.
In context, 1-2 is neither bad nor surprising for the Lakers three games in. They opened on the road against the Nuggets, the defending champs and current consensus "best team in the league." They won at home against Phoenix (albeit in less-than-dominant fashion), and then Sunday lost in OT to Sacramento, who return basically intact a team that was the 3-seed last season.
But Sunday's 132-127 loss is nonetheless a disappointment, because the Lakers had a chance to win, and instead let it get away. And given how competitive the conference is likely to be this season, any truly winnable game (the Lakers had 4th quarter leads) that turns into a loss will feel like a missed opportunity. Especially winnable games against conference rivals.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis were both excellent Sunday night. LeBron again blew through his target minutes window en route to 27 points on an efficient 11-19 shooting, plus 15 rebounds and eight assists. Anthony Davis had 30/16/2/2/3. But while Taurean
30/10/2023 • 36 minutes 3 seconds
Lakers Grind Out a Comeback Win Vs. Phoenix Suns as LeBron Plays the Entire 4th Quarter
With Devin Booker and Bradley Beal on the sidelines, the Phoenix Suns came into Thursday's game at the Crypt at a decided disadvantage. But for most of the game, the Suns were ahead. Down by 12 at the start of the fourth quarter, the Lakers had to play true shut-down defense over the final 12 minutes, outscoring the Suns 28-11 to get the win.
LeBron James, whose minutes the Lakers would like very much to limit as much as possible, blew through the team's 28-32 minute target, playing the whole fourth quarter en route to 35 minutes overall. Still nothing extreme, but definitely more than they're aiming for. And on the one hand, keeping the minutes down did allow the Lakers to use him more liberally down the stretch. Although you could also argue that the light minutes were a reason they were down 12. Either way, LeBron was excellent down the stretch.
Anthony Davis, meanwhile, clearly figured out what the problem was after a scoreless second half in Denver on Tuesday. Thursday night, he h
27/10/2023 • 35 minutes 21 seconds
No Booker, No Beal? Thursday's Game vs. Suns Now Must-Win Opportunity for The Lakers.
Fans were hoping to get a truly marquee matchup Thursday night in the Lakers home opener, with the high-powered, star-driven Phoenix Suns paying a visit to the Crypt. Well, with Bradley Beal and Devin Booker both listed as doubtful, that seems unlikely. Players don't typically get upgraded after being downgraded, and certainly not this early in the year.
So that means it's the Lakers vs. Kevin Durant and ... well, a lot of players casual fans might not know exist.
So in a tightly packed, crabs-in-a-bucket Western Conference, that kind of makes tonight a must win. Not in the sense of immediate, season ending consequences (it's not Game 7 of a postseason series), but this season, when a contender has a chance to take a game off another contender, whether because of injury or whatever, it needs to be done. The Suns do have Durant, but the Lakers roll out the far better roster, and need to take advantage or this becomes a game they might regret in six months.
Meanwhile, LeBron James played
26/10/2023 • 33 minutes 55 seconds
Lakers Lose to Nuggets... Zero 2nd Half Points for Anthony Davis, Only 29 Minutes for LeBron James
The Lakers have long struggled in openers, last winning one in 2016. Tuesday in Denver against the defending champions was no different. The Lakers put themselves in a big hole with a horrible stretch of play over the last half of the first quarter and into the second, but fought back and made a game of it.
Until it wasn't, and Denver pulled away to win 119-107.
Without question, the Nuggets showed that they still appear to be the class of the conference, and over time the Lakers will need to raise their level over the next 81 games. One thing they'll need for that to happen? Much more scoring from Anthony Davis than they got in the second half Tuesday. Like, something higher than zero. Davis had no points after halftime. None. Nada. Zip. This after a 17-point first half. Needless to say, the Lakers can't afford that kind of silence from their most important player. Perhaps worse than the zero points? Only six shots. Again, FAR too few. Even if he misses all of them, AD has to take mor
25/10/2023 • 36 minutes 29 seconds
Lakers vs. Nuggets: A Rivalry Brewing? Plus, Bold Predictions for the 2023-2024 NBA Season
The Lakers kick off the 2023-24 NBA season tonight in Denver, and nobody on either side wants to make it a big thing, or add significance to the game, or talk about bad blood or certainly not to call it a rivalry.
Which, as it turns out, is the best sign it's a rivalry. And after all, the Nuggets -- especially head coach Mike Malone -- spent plenty of time talking about the Lakers in the wake of their title run. The Lakers had knocked them out a couple years earlier, too. And while they tried not to make a thing of it, the Lakers (from Austin Reaves to Darvin Ham) have had some stuff to say about the stuff that was said.
In short, yeah, it's a game that means something a little more for both teams. WHICH IS AWESOME! The Lakers have been woefully short on fun rivalries over the last few years, whether because of down seasons or up seasons that came in the midst of pandemics and thin-to-non-existent crowds.
Now, though? This season has the potential to drive something like LA vs. Denver
24/10/2023 • 37 minutes 32 seconds
Darvin Ham Confirms Taurean Prince Will Start ... at Least Until Jarred Vanderbilt Returns???
The Lakers kick off the regular season Tuesday in Denver, and after a strong training camp have very few questions of significance still in need of an answer. Over the weekend, Darvin Ham said that Taurean Prince would start against the Nuggets at small forward. He did leave the door open to a dinged up Jarred Vanderbilt, however, to re-enter the starting lineup once he's recovered from the heel injury that has cost him most of training camp.
But while for many teams, "Who is in the starting lineup?" feels like a doozy of an unanswered question, on this squad, less so. The Prince lineups have been great in the preseason. Plenty of early evidence they work well. The Vanderbilt lineups helped the Lakers to the Western Conference Finals last season.
Two good options, it seems.
Most of the bench questions feel pretty minor. It's easy to see how someone like Gabe Vincent fits in, even while he's missed a lot of time. Hachimura is a clean and comfortable fit coming off the bench. Maybe there
23/10/2023 • 34 minutes 44 seconds
LeBron, Davis, Russell, Reaves and... Hayes (!!!) Look Good as the Lakers Finish the Preseason
The Lakers finished off the preseason Thursday night in Palm Springs, losing to the Phoenix Suns, 123-100. The score? Doesn't really matter. As it is with virtually everything in the exhibition games, it's much more about process and how certain players—and combinations of players—look on the floor. And for the Lakers, there was again much to like. Anthony Davis was huge defensively in the early going, racking up five blocks in the tirst eight minutes of play. Davis looks very much like a guy who is ready to elevate his team, and understands the obligation he has to be great.
LeBron James looked smooth and spy over the course of 22 minutes, with 19 points including three triples.
D'Angelo Russell continued his run of great play, piling up six assists in short order and showing really high end chemistry with the team's centers, whether Davis or Jaxson Hayes.
But it's Hayes who has been the most surprising person in the exhibition games. Hopes in this space at least for a breakout year,
20/10/2023 • 36 minutes 24 seconds
Ultimate NBA Preview Contenders?: Can They Win the Title? | Lakers, 76ers, Warriors, Clippers, Cavs
Are any of these teams real NBA contenders? Could the Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers, or (dare we say) the Philadelphia 76ers emerge as threats to win the NBA Title?
Tenitra Batiste is joined by Brian Kamenetzky (Locked On Lakers), Cyrus Saatsaz (Locked On Warriors), Keith Pompey (Locked On 76ers), Darian Vaziri (Locked On Clippers), and Evan Dammarell (Locked On Cavaliers) to preview the NBA Season. Can Lebron James & Anthony Davis get the Lakers back to the Finals? Will Steph Curry & Chris Paul work well enough together? What will happen to James Harden and Joel Embiid on the Sixers? Can Kawhi Leonard & Paul George finally play enough together? Can Donovan Mitchell and the Cavs bounce back?
Locked On NBA League-Wide: Every Team, Fantasy, Draft, WNBA & More
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19/10/2023 • 49 minutes 7 seconds
Darvin Ham to Treat Preseason Finale vs. Suns as a "Dress Rehearsal" for Lakers.
Darvin Ham says tonight's preseason finale against Phoenix in Palm Springs will serve as a "dress rehearsal." Meaning for three quarters, he's going to treat everything about it, from player combinations and rotation choices, as if it was a real game. Fortunately for him, too, he'll be able to do it with most of the actors available. Among players expected to play a role in the rotation, only Jarred Vanderbilt is expected to miss the game, thanks to that bad heel. (He'll be evaluated again on Friday.)
So what should fans be looking for? There's the forward rotation, with Anthony Davis, Christian Wood and Jaxson Hayes. There's Cam Reddish, and whether he gets meaningful run (because if he doesn't, it likely means Max Christie has truly sewn up that backup role behind Austin Reaves).
And what about the defense? The Sporting News has a very, very ambitious feature out ranking the top 100 defensive players in the NBA. Ambitious because it's still very challenging to figure out who really b
19/10/2023 • 36 minutes 31 seconds
Even With a New Contract, Austin Reaves Still Has a Massive Chip On His Shoulder
The Lakers have one more game remaining in the preseason before opening next week in Denver. Every indication is that Taurean Prince has locked up what was really the only lineup spot in real question coming into training camp - the starting small forward gig. Still, Tuesday at practice, Darvin Ham nonetheless refused to publicly name who will fill that spot.
At this point, he's just messing with folks for fun, right? Because he's really leaning into the bit.
But it really does feel like performance as much as anything would push Ham to this decision, given how well the presumptive starting unit has played through the first five games of the preseason. And, it should be noted, Ham so much as said he knew who he'd start back at the beginning of October.
Meanwhile, listener/viewer HERKIMER had an interesting observation comparing D'Angelo Russell to Dwight Howard, which is broken down on the show. Is Russell going to have a Howard-like redemption in his second go round with the team, ove
18/10/2023 • 37 minutes 4 seconds
Has D'Angelo Russell Truly Committed to Playing Better Defense for the Lakers?
Among the better stories of a very strong preseason for the Los Angeles Lakers has been the play of D'Angelo Russell. His offense has been outstanding, including some red hot shooting from the perimeter, and improvements in his ability to attack the rim and finish effectively. The change of speed has been very effective, and he's been a leader in setting up his teammates.
In short, he's a big reason the Lakers offense has been so strong.
But the other thing that has stood out? Russell's work on defense. Not that he's some sort of DPOY candidate, but the attention to detail and an understanding that what happened last year, where defense was a big reason he was played off the floor in the Western Conference Finals, something he does not want to have happen again. On Sunday, Russell noted that he's tried now to pattern his game after Celtics point guard Derrick White, someone who he says doesn't get a lot of credit for simply being a winning player who makes winning plays. Not an All-Sta
17/10/2023 • 35 minutes 48 seconds
Has Darvin Ham Settled on Taurean Prince as the Starting Small Forward for the Lakers?
The Lakers finished off another successful weekend of preseason basketball at the Crypt. Yes, they lost both games (Friday to Golden State, Sunday to Milwaukee) but in the moments where rotation players were on the floor, the Lakers continued to play very solid basketball. And the offense, particularly, has been outstanding. Not just the shooting from 3-point range, but all around the floor.
Anthony Davis has looked great in his minutes, with a solid shooting stroke and the activity level the Lakers need from him. Darvin Ham called him the "heart and soul" of the team, and this is no accident. What exactly are Ham (and Rob Pelinka, and LeBron, who also speak in similar terms) trying to accomplish with this kind of praise?
And what about the outside shooting? Is it too early to believe that the Lakers are just destined to be a high quality shooting team? What would that mean for them, because even when they've been good, the perimeter shooting has been a little dodgy. If that changes?
16/10/2023 • 35 minutes 59 seconds
ESPN Ranks the NBA's Top 100 Players: How Many Lakers Made it? Plus, D'Lo Vows Better Defense.
Every year, ESPN's hoops department ranks the top 100 players in the NBA. Every year, it causes a little bit of controversy, because people tend to get really worked up about rankings and lists. But while they're certainly arguable and definitely easy to overrate (does it really matter if someone is the 7th best player or the 9th, the 58th or the 62nd?) lists like these can be instructive.
Particularly in trying to figure out roster depth around the league, and how different teams compare to each other. So how do the Lakers stack up?
Well, they're the only team with two players in the top 10 - Anthony Davis (10) and LeBron James (9). Austin Reaves comes in at 66. And that's it. Many teams have more guys in the top 100 (Denver has four, the Knicks, surprisingly, have five). But when you start to peel back more layers, it's pretty clear the Lakers have a high end roster with a ton of depth. How many players who are average or above (don't poo poo average - half the league is below it) do
13/10/2023 • 34 minutes 43 seconds
Without LeBron, Davis or Reaves, the Lakers, led by D'Angelo Russell, Get Preseason Win Over Kings.
Normally, when Anthony Davis and LeBron James don't play in a preseason game, it's easy to shrug your shoulders and basically ignore anything that happens over 48 minutes of ball. When those guys are missing, plus Austin Reaves and Jarred Vanderbilt, the temptation is to completely discount the game.
But for the Lakers, who are surely expecting James and Davis to miss a relevant chunk of games (some of which might come at the same time) it's actually really important to get a feel for how competitive they can be while those guys are on the sidelines. The hope was with improved depth and more firepower, the Lakers would be better suited to withstand those non-star games than they were last year. And if Wednesday's win over the Kings in Anaheim was any indication, the plan seems to have worked.
D'Angelo Russell, Gabe Vincent, Taurean Prince and Rui Hachimura all cracked double figures in the starting lineup (not playing starters minutes), and were joined by Christian Wood (13 points in h
12/10/2023 • 34 minutes 51 seconds
Did NBA GM's Disrespect Anthony Davis's Defense? Plus, Ham Wants Davis Taking 3-Pointers. Lots!
Ok, so the NBA's GM Survey was released Tuesday, and while this space isn't one for homerism... Anthony Davis is simply not getting the respect he deserves on the defensive end.
Start scrolling through the categories, and you find that Davis is either further down the voting lists than he should be, or simply isn't included at all. And while it's understood that at different times over the course of his career he hasn't quite met the moment... did anyone watch the playoffs last season? Davis was the best defender throughout, until the Lakers were eliminated. In three series against three very different opponents, he was dominant on that side of the ball.
Yet in this year's preseason GM polling, it garnered him surprisingly little love. Why, exactly? What's going on here?
And while we're here, did LeBron's basketball IQ go down over the summer?
Meanwhile, the Lakers took 55 3-pointers on Monday against the Nets in Vegas. That's a ton, obviously more than they'll be hoisting on a nightly
11/10/2023 • 35 minutes 37 seconds
LeBron James, Austin Reaves Make Preseason Debuts, as Lakers Pick Up Win.
The Lakers got some strong frontline performances in their preseason opener Saturday against the Warriors, as D'Angelo Russell and Anthony Davis put up big numbers in short minutes. But two of the big headliners weren't in the lineup. Monday in Vegas against the Nets, LeBron James and Austin Reaves suited up for the first time this season... and looked pretty good, too!
LeBron looked like he had found the bounce that had been stripped during the playoffs thanks to that foot tendon issue, going for 10/3/5 in 17 minutes. Reaves hit his first shot of the night (a triple) en route to 18 points on 5-7 shooting and 4-6 from 3. All told, the Lakers starters (which included Taurean Prince on a night where Jarred Vanderbilt was unavailable thanks to a heel injury) were a robust 13-23 from downtown. The shooting, which was good on Saturday, continued.
And it was an argument for why Prince would be a good choice for that fifth starter role. He would provide low-usage floor spacing, while still br
10/10/2023 • 35 minutes 57 seconds
Russell, Davis, Christie Shine, but Reddish, Wood Struggle in Los Angeles Lakers Preseason Opener
LeBron James and Austin Reaves both sat out LA's preseason opener Saturday in San Francisco against the Warriors, so in one sense, it's hard to view anything about the results of the game (the Lakers lost) as any sort of barometer about what's coming this season. But just because the final score didn't really matter doesn't mean stuff that happened was unimportant.
There was much good:
Anthony Davis looked smooth and sharp, particularly with that perimeter jumper that's been winning praise from folks over the last few weeks. Davis was 2-3 from downtown, and if the shooting form holds (meaning Davis finally becomes the distance shooter he teased at a couple years ago, the Lakers will have a new weapon at their disposal). But broadly, Davis was moving well and looked very comfortable.
D'Angelo Russell was excellent, controlling the flow of the offense en route to 15 points and five assists in only one half's worth of minutes. (Davis only played in the first half, as well.) With a nice
09/10/2023 • 36 minutes 6 seconds
How Much Should LeBron James (and Other Important Los Angeles Lakers ) Play During the Preseason?
LeBron James noted Thursday that he won't be playing in the preseason opener on Saturday in San Francisco, but he does plan to play in about half of LA's six games before the real ones start later this month. That's a pretty decent amount of run, but is it enough? What is too much?
The Lakers have, in the past, gone extremely conservative with preseason playing time for stars. We remember a couple years back when James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook didn't get any time together in dress rehearsals before the regular season, and the results showed. On the other hand, LeBron is officially the oldest player in the NBA, and there is no diminishing AD's injury history. And the Lakers do have some continuity, which matters.
On the other hand, there are still a lot of questions about the rotation that need to be addressed, and more importantly, the Lakers have a very difficult, road-heavy schedule to open the season. IT's important not to fall into a hole early while you figure things o
06/10/2023 • 35 minutes 38 seconds
Who Will Start at Small Forward for the Los Angeles Lakers? Rui, Vanderbilt or Prince?
Because the Lakers are fairly set heading into the 2023-24 season - the primary members of the rotation are more or less set, there are no big controversies, no huge position battles - fans are intensely curious about the one big thing that isn't yet settled:
Who's gonna start at small forward?
Darvin Ham, not surprisingly, hasn't yet committed to answering that question - they haven't even had three practices or played a preseason game - but different players are getting a chance to audition for that spot. Jarred Vanderbilt, Taurean Prince and Rui Hachimura will all get reps with the named starters (Russell, Reaves, James, Davis). Ham's decision will probably be less about who "wins", and rather which player makes the most sense with that group, and how the choice impacts the rest of the rotation. Which combinations in the second unit would make the most sense? Well, you can't always put those together as easily if one of those dudes is a starter.
The good news? Nobody in that crew is
05/10/2023 • 36 minutes 12 seconds
Lakers Cautious with Austin Reaves After TEAM USA, and is Christian Wood Too Concerned with Stats?
The Lakers had their first official practice on Tuesday, and (not that anyone expected otherwise) Darvin Ham was quite pleased with the results, praising the spirit and energy of the Lakers as they prepare for what everyone hopes will be a long run into the playoffs.
He talked up LeBron James and Anthony Davis, who looked like their normal selves, and noted the work Christian Wood was doing defensively, and the commitment he showed to communication and detail.
Worth noting as well that the Lakers seem intent on protecting Austin Reaves early in camp, following his Very Busy Offseason with Team USA playing in the World Cup. It is expected Reaves will not only play a ton of minutes - it's very possible he leads the team - but also high intensity, high leverage minutes, including a lot of time serving as a point guard. With that in mind, it's important for the Lakers to keep him fresh and healthy. It's a long, long season.
D'Angelo Russell remains a fairly polarizing presence for Lakers f
04/10/2023 • 36 minutes 14 seconds
Media Day: LeBron James Discusses his NBA Future, says Anthony Davis is Lakers' Franchise Face.
The Lakers kicked off training camp with Media Day on Monday, and man alive, there was plenty of interesting stuff on the agenda. (What there wasn't? Drama! Tension! Controversy! It was ahistorical for a Lakers Media Day, to be honest.)
So without all the low-hanging, headline grabbing stuff available, the focus was on what's in front of a team that rightly has extremely high expectations following a run to the Western Conference Finals. One big thing everyone was happy about? Continuity. All the returning players, from LeBron James on down, spoke glowingly about what it means for this team to be entering training camp starting somewhere ahead of scratch. They know each other. They know the system. They have to integrate players into it, but the guys who are new are also role players, and in the case of Taurean Prince and Gabe Vincent, are extremely well respected pros. Christian Wood? Well, he's got some stuff to prove, but he's the only player in the rotation with any sort of questio
03/10/2023 • 35 minutes 35 seconds
The Season Starts Today! The Lakers are Legit Title Contenders. Plus, Jrue Holiday to Boston.
The long offseason is over. The season starts today, as training camp kicks off with Media Day and the first official practices.
And it promises to be an exciting season for the Lakers, who are undoubtedly in the mix of the most elite teams in the NBA. Should they stay healthy - a fairly big if given the age and injury histories of their stars - LA seems likely to be one of the two or three best teams in the West, which makes them one of the best teams in the league.
Nice spot to be.
So when the Lakers open camp, it's going to be about how to keep LeBron and Anthony Davis healthy and fresh, about finding the right lineup combinations, and maxing out the impressive depth available on the roster. Two players that have big roles to play that aren't stars? Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura. Both had a lot of attention paid to them last week when Rob Pelinka and Darvin Ham med the media. Reaves was the recipient of high praise from Pelinka, who compared him to Kobe Bryant as an owner of "the
02/10/2023 • 36 minutes 21 seconds
Pelinka, Ham Discuss Russell-Reaves Starting, Anthony Davis' Leadership, Preserving LeBron
With training camp set to open next week, GM Rob Pelinka and head coach Darvin Ham met with the media Thursday, and covered a ton of ground. After all, compared to where they were at this time last season, Pelinka especially was far more comfortable and confident answering questions about the team, and the direction in which it is headed.
To the point where he didn't have to try and talk up their title chances. Frankly, that sort of thing is assumed. This is a group that expects to contend, and isn't dependent on smoke and mirrors to make it seem possible.
That, as a starting point, is a great place to be.
From there, Pelinka spent a lot of time talking about Anthony Davis, and why the team felt comfortable investing that massive contract extension in him, despite a long track record of injury that is certainly not going to fade over the life of the contract. So what was the foundation? "Character, character, character," Pelinka said. The team believes not just in the talent, but also
29/09/2023 • 36 minutes 35 seconds
How the Damian Lillard Trade Impacts the Lakers and the Western Conference
Well, that turned out a little different than many thought it would!
Wednesday afternoon, the NBA finally got the blockbuster it's been waiting for, as Damian Lillard was traded away from the Blazers. But not to Miami, as Lillard had been pushing for since asking out of Portland. Instead, Lillard ends up in Milwaukee, teamed up with Giannis in a three-team deal that also included the Phoenix Suns, who sent D'Andre Ayton to Portland in exchange for some depth pieces that help fill out the roster both from a personnel and a salary standpoint.
So what does this mean for the Western Conference, and by extension, the Lakers?
Well, Portland wasn't going to contend, so that part doesn't matter. But what Phoenix did certainly does. And while the Suns did add needed depth and they did remove Ayton from the building—even with the new contract, that situation still wasn't healthy—did they get better around their Big Three of Durant, Beal and Booker? If you're the Lakers, would you rather play a S
28/09/2023 • 37 minutes 25 seconds
Austin Reaves: Lakers are NBA's Most Talented Team. Plus, the most Intriguing Training Camp Battles!
The Lakers know Christian Wood's talent. Heck, everyone knows Christian Wood's talent.
But the big question about him (one of them, at least) has been attitude. Is he willing to play a role? Can he accept one that might not totally be in line with his self image? On the one hand, he thinks he's really good (which you want in every player). On the other, this is a team with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. It has title aspirations, and other quality players around the roster. Wood was, or should have been, humbled by the market.
So will he fit into LA's culture? So far so good, but it's never been about first impressions, but what happens once things get going.
This is the sort of thing tackled on this episode with guest Dan Woike of the LA Times!
Will Wood start? Come off the bench? Woike thinks it's the latter. And who will be starting? Woike has a potential name that might not be getting quite as much buzz as he should. But what happens when the game gets going?
The Lakers will be loo
27/09/2023 • 37 minutes 33 seconds
Christian Wood can Play with LeBron. Or Anthony Davis. But Not Both At Once. Plus, the LAL Centers!
With training camp only a few days away, it's easy to start to think about what the rotations will look like. One place that's getting a lot of attention? With the addition of Christian Wood, how will the Lakers fold him in a way that makes the most sense offensively AND defensively? To that end, one prevailing argument (expressed on this show, for sure) is that Wood isn't a great option to start because it leaves LeBron James playing far too much small forward by design, which is not a good idea for a nearly 40-year old player in his 21st season.
So in response to a viewer question about the Davis/James/Wood rotation dynamic, we break down how it could work. Yes, the three of them might get a few minutes together here and there, but it's likely not a regular thing. That said, Wood can absolutely, and will absolutely, play with both guys. It's just that more attention goes to his fit with Davis, both because in theory Davis protects Wood defensively, and because it's Wood that helps Da
26/09/2023 • 34 minutes 55 seconds
The Lakers in a Great Spot as Training Camp Opens Next Week. Plus, Breaking Down the Guard Options.
With training camp set to open in a week - I think we're ALL ready for that - it's fascinating to consider where they are now vs. where things were at this point last year. A year ago, the Lakers were still in play for Buddy Hield and Myles Turner from the Pacers. We were all still wondering if the Lakers really were going to enter the season with Russell Westbrook even while Darvin Ham was saying all the right stuff.
Today? While the Lakers have questions and concerns (as all teams do) nobody has to squint or twist themselves into pretzels to feel genuine optimism about where this season could go. There is no leaning into best case scenarios. Instead, this is a group that, if healthy, should be very good. With real balance up and down the roster. That's basically it.
And it's really great!
If there's a spot that shows the contrast between last year and this season, it's in the guard rotation. Last year, there was Russ and Reaves, Patrick Beverley, Lonnie Walker IV, a rookie Max Christ
25/09/2023 • 35 minutes 39 seconds
Buddy Hield Will Not Be a Laker. Seriously. And Christian Wood Says Darvin Ham Recruited him Hard.
Thursday, Christian Wood met the LA media for the first time, and said a lot of "meeting the media for the first time" type things. How excited he is to be in Los Angeles, how (as a Long Beach native) he's always wanted to play for the Lakers.
And how he has a great relationship with Darvin Ham... who called him every day during free agency. Every day? That's a lot of days, and a lot of calls. But even if it's an exaggeration, it also makes some sense. The Lakers didn't have any extra money to offer, but what they could sell were vibes and opportunity. And whether you're a big Darvin guy or not, there probably aren't too many guys around the league who can sell culture to a player better than he can.
And really, context should drive home to Wood the critical nature of this opportunity. If he doesn't make it work in LA, if he can't accept and then thrive in a role on a good team, where does he go from here?
But red flags aside, the Lakers got the most talented player left available on t
22/09/2023 • 36 minutes 16 seconds
Is Anthony Davis Scrutinized More Than Other Stars? Plus, Damian Lillard defends LA's Bubble Title.
Jeanie Buss was a guest on The Athletic's NBA podcast, and had some interesting stuff to say about Anthony Davis. Namely that for the stretch of play last season after he returned from injury (the big one, where he missed 20 games), AD was the best player in the league.
It's not worth debating the point in the most literal sense - everyone remembers how dominant Davis was over that period - but it illustrates how individual the conversation is around Davis. Obviously the expectations he carries are justifiably high, but at the same time, is there to much focus on what he's not doing vs. what he is?
You'd think, for example, that based on last year's arc that there would be a notable difference between Davis's first and second half stats, but they looked basically the same. So is AD being judged more on optics than results? Well, sort of. Because sometimes with Davis, the optics dictate the result. Few players can put up games with identical numbers but totally non-identical impact like
21/09/2023 • 33 minutes 37 seconds
What does Darvin Ham Need to Prove as a Coach Next Season? Have Lakers Fans Bought Into Him?
Tuesday's show was all about the sea change in strategy for the Lakers when it comes to roster building. Where once it was all about cap space above all - meaning no long term contracts for anyone but the biggest stars - now the Lakers have a bunch of multi-year deals for non-elite players. This, by the way, is a good thing, promoting continuity, and actually providing more flexibility for the front office than simply being locked into that "clean sheet" strategy.
But why did they shift? That was a question left on the Locked On Lakers YouTube page.
Was it the opportunity presented by a team that advanced to the Western Conference Finals after playing together for only a few weeks? Was it a reaction to a shift in the league towards continuity and depth? Was it the lack of any realistic way to add a big name star?
Could be some of each, but this year now becomes a bit of a referendum on the shift, and an opportunity to build. That doesn't mean the Lakers won't make moves over the next y
20/09/2023 • 35 minutes 44 seconds
Have the Lakers Changed their Roster-Building Philosophy? Plus, "Winning Time" Gets Canceled.
Monday's show was all about Jarred Vanderbilt's contract extension with the Lakers (which became official on Monday). It covered the meat and potatoes of the deal, from his long term fit to the quality of the numbers. Did the Lakers get good deal? Listen to the show to find out.
But one thing went undiscussed: Vanderbilt's contract represents the last move in big change in team-building philosophy for the Lakers. They've gone from a team that once defined flexibility purely in terms of creating massive amounts of cap space to go out and recruit The Next Big Free Agent. Now, though, the Lakers (even as LeBron nears retirement) aren't hoarding future space. Instead, they're, like, signing players. Good, young, appealing players.
So does this limit their flexibility? Spoiler alert: It does not, and (assuming the players they've signed don't regress) likely increases it.
In the meantime, they get the best of both worlds - a very good team now, and the ability to work with agility, adjustin
19/09/2023 • 38 minutes 28 seconds
Reacting to Jarred Vanderbilt's Contract Extension. Good Deal for Both Sides? Did the Lakers Get a Steal?
Friday, the news broke that Jarred Vanderbilt and the Lakers had agreed to a four year contract extension worth $48 million. The terms (slightly) surprised your hosts, not necessarily on the length, but in the value - on the relative high side of what seemed like the right value. Much, perhaps even most, of the audience disagreed.
Responding to a poll, almost a quarter think the Lakers made out like bandits, because were Vanderbilt to hit the open market this summer, he'd surely get $15 or more, annually.
Maybe... but maybe not.
Vanderbilt is in a strange position, where his path to significant playing time is hardly clear, particularly if (as many believe will happen) Rui Hachimura moves to the starting lineup after re-upping with LA for significantly more money earlier this summer. (And while it seems less likely, if Christian Wood ends up starting at center, the same basic principle applies - it gets harder to find minutes for Vando.) But while Vanderbilt might not have as much flex
18/09/2023 • 36 minutes 32 seconds
BONUS MINI-PODCAST! The Lakers and Jarred Vanderbilt Reportedly Agree to 4yr/$48M extension!
The Lakers have capped an extremely busy offseason (retaining key free agents, signing - among other free agents - Gabe Vincent Taurean Prince, Christian Wood, extending Anthony Davis) by reportedly agreeing to a four year, $48M extension for versatile defensive utility man Jarred Vanderbilt. The deal is fully guaranteed, with the fourth year a player option. Basically, as player-friendly as one could imagine. Now a potential Laker through the 2027-28 season, the Lakers are tied to Vanderbilt as long as AD and Austin Reaves. Which is to say, as long as any Laker on the roster.
What are the implications of this news? Andy Kamenetzky hits some of the high points with a few quick thoughts.
HOSTS: Andy and Brian Kamenetzky
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15/09/2023 • 12 minutes 17 seconds
How Will the Load Management Rules Impact the Lakers? (Especially with the "LeBron Loophole?")
Earlier in the week, news broke that the NBA would be stiffening its policies against stars missing games for rest. Wednesday, the rules were approved, and Adam Silver is clearly looking to dial back the load management movement and make sure more of the league's best players are on the floor more often.
Among the rules: For teams with two "stars" (defined as All-NBA or All-Star over the last three seasons), only one is allowed to miss a game in a night due to rest. Those games shouldn't be national TV games, or in the mid-season tournament, and preferably not on the road, either. And for teams that might be trying to either tank or move disgruntled stars? The NBA will be paying a lot more attention to that, too. Those guys need to be on the floor, barring injury. (Though, perhaps, not "injury.")
How the league enforces all this is hard to say, but for the Lakers, there are obvious implications for LeBron James and Anthony Davis, two players who certainly will need to be maintained thr
14/09/2023 • 33 minutes 48 seconds
Do Lakers Fans Want LeBron, Anthony Davis to Play In 2024 Olympics? We asked. You Answered.
Next summer, LeBron James will have finished his 21st season, and will be pushing 40 years old. Anthony Davis will be a year older, and even in his early 30s, no less injury prone than he is today, at the very least. They will, hopefully, both be coming off a long, long playoff run. Ideally, one ending in a parade. So the notion they'd turn around and play for Team USA in the Paris Olympics in 2024 right after that might give some Lakers fans pause.
Or maybe not.
Turns out, at least based on some relatively unscientific polling of Lakers fans, a majority want to see both guys repping the red, white and blue next summer.
Whatever the reason, from the enjoyment and pride of seeing the best play for Team USA to the story it would be for LeBron to get one more Olympic gold to the cool factor for many fans of watching players from their franchise play internationally, the fear of injury or fatigue setting the 2024-25 season up for failure before it begins doesn't seem to be a huge fear.
13/09/2023 • 34 minutes 52 seconds
Is LeBron James Playing in the 2024 Olympics? Anthony Davis, Too? Is That a Good Idea?
Team USA suffered some real embarrassment in the World Cup, finishing without a medal of any color following the loss to Canada in the bronze medal game over the weekend.
And when Team USA loses with less than its best, typically that's the bat signal for the Avengers to assemble and start getting ready for the next big tournament. In this case, it's the biggest tourney of all - the 2024 Paris Olympics, and the Avengers, led by LeBron James, have reportedly responded. That's LeBron, Steph, KD, AD, Draymond... even CP3 was noted in the report (as if he has any business playing on a team like that at this point in his career). Fortunately, other players like Devin Booker, De'Aaron Fox and Jayson Tatum are also included in the group, keeping it from going full into a hoops version of The Expendables, but it's still an older group.
But more importantly for Lakers fans, do you want LeBron playing in this tournament, following what everyone hopes will be a long season with a deep playoff run
12/09/2023 • 36 minutes 6 seconds
Anthony Davis Still Wants to Play Less Center. Does Signing Christian Wood Make That Happen?
Anthony Davis wants to play power forward, not center. This is not something new. He said it last year, too, but in the end played (not an exaggeration) 99% of his minutes at center. Some of that was context, some of it was the evolution of Davis as a player. The numbers, for a while, have indicated the Lakers are more effective team when he plays there.
So reportedly, Davis again wants to play more PF, and the Lakers did just sign someone who could theoretically make that possible in Christian Wood.
So does Wood's arrival mean that Davis is bound to get his wish?
Well, sort of? The ability of Wood to play with Davis, at least on paper, means that the two of them should be just fine on the floor together. Wood, meanwhile, is someone who can, in theory, play 25 minutes a night. So Davis to the four! Not so fast. The issue isn't just about Davis, but LeBron James. And if Davis plays 75% of his minutes at the four, that means James is playing about that many at small forward. And, that, i
11/09/2023 • 36 minutes 2 seconds
Who Loses Minutes After Adding Christian Wood? Should the Lakers Extend Jarred Vanderbilt?
The Lakers, after signing Christian Wood, have what most teams would consider to be the best kind of problems. Namely, they have more good players capable of playing rotation minutes than they have spots available to actually give them real minutes from night to night.
Sure, guys will get hurt, space will open up... but when the roster is healthy someone is going to have to sit. So who?
One candidate could be Jarred Vanderbilt. Particularly if Wood comes off the bench and Darvin Ham chooses to start, say, Rui Hachimura at forward. If that's the case, where can the Lakers find minutes for Vanderbilt in a suddenly crowded frontcourt?
Now maybe Vanderbilt starts... but then it becomes hard to find enough minutes for Wood and Rui.
And all of this happens as Vanderbilt himself becomes extension eligible with the Lakers. Ironically, the addition of Wood could make it hard to play Vanderbilt this year. But then again, if Wood plays really well, he's likely gone next season... when Vanderbilt'
08/09/2023 • 36 minutes 16 seconds
What Role Will Christian Wood Play for the Lakers This Season? Starter or Off the Bench?
A day after the Lakers added free agent center/PF Christian Wood, there are plenty more questions to ask. His talent, at least offensively, is undeniable, but what about attitude and fit? Well, to that end he said some stuff to Marc Spears at ESPN's Andscape that raised some eyebrows.
There are other important questions to kick around. Like, does Wood start or come off the bench? On the one hand, given Anthony Davis's long expressed preferences to play power forward, many have assumed that this move allows him to do just that. Wood starts at C, right?
Well, maybe not. There are many, many compelling reasons to bring Wood off the bench. So which side of the argument will win out?
Moreover, plenty of people are talking about this as a "risk-free" move for the Lakers. Is that the right framing?
Meanwhile, there is a lot of attention being paid to Wood the talent, but what about Wood the guy? Some believe he's seen himself as entitled. Well, on the way out the door from Dallas, he said the
07/09/2023 • 34 minutes 45 seconds
Report: Lakers Have Interest In Trae Young. Would He Be a Good Fit with LeBron James, Anthony Davis?
After a bad weekend of press, Team USA and Austin Reaves bounced back on Tuesday with a blowout win over Italy to advance in the World Cup. The backlash against the team, and Austin Reaves along with it, disappeared for a day, at least. And for this game, Reaves wasn't the story. He played well, no question, but Tyrese Halliburton and Mikael Bridges combined for 42 points on 14-20 from the floor, and 10-14 from 3-point range.
Comparatively, Reaves (12/4/3) was just hanging out.
But he continues to shine in ways that reflect some of the commentary from a recent story at The Athletic from Jovan Buha, in which he reports the Lakers, always searching for that third star, wonder if Reaves could become that guy, in one form or another. They've also, though, reportedly looked at more conventional names, including Atlanta's Trae Young, a name a that always seems at least tangentially tied to the Lakers, chatter wise.
But is Young a good idea, literally or figuratively, before even discussing w
06/09/2023 • 36 minutes 29 seconds
Report: The Lakers Will Sign Christian Wood to a Two-Year Contract. What are the Pros and Cons?
While maybe it happened a little faster than expected, Tuesday evening what seemed like the inevitable move actually happened, as the Lakers and F/C Christian Wood agreed to a free agent deal. Two years, with a player option (to benefit Wood and let him re-enter free agency faster) for the second year, at the league minimum (which is all the Lakers could offer).
Wood is, unquestionably, the most talented big the Lakers could have signed. He's probably the most talented free agent that had been left on the market at any position. He should be a phenomenal fit offensively, not just when Anthony Davis doesn't play, but also when he does. Wood expands Darvin Ham's option tree in important ways. He can make life easier for LeBron James, by lightening his scoring burden, especially in games where he plays but AD doesn't.
But if it was just about talent, Wood wouldn't have been gettable for a two-year, minimum contract deal. The Mavs would have kept him, or someone else would have signed him
06/09/2023 • 38 minutes 41 seconds
Austin Reaves Backlash Flares Up After Lithuania, and Pat Beverley is VERY Salty Towards the Lakers
By the time most people engage with this episode, the US will likely have finished its game with Italy in the knockout rounds of the World Cup, and in one way or another, moved the weekend's loss to Lithuania off the front burner. But that one was interesting for a couple reasons. First, the USA lost, which always gets people upset.
But beyond that, Austin Reaves had a really bad game. Easily his worst as a member of Team USA.
And the internet let him have it.
No question, there are just a lot of people out there who don't like the Lakers and don't appreciate all the attention Reaves has garnered, and want to see him knocked down a peg or three. But it's also because, yeah, Reaves has been not just the darling of this tournament, but really one of the more hyped stories of the offseason, from the great contract the Lakers signed him to, to the genuinely good story surrounding him coming to, and thriving on, Team USA.
We've talked about him a ton on this Lakers-centered show. But the re
05/09/2023 • 34 minutes 44 seconds
JaVale McGee to Sacramento (No Lakers Reunion). Rob Pelinka Gets Ranked Among NBA General Managers
A prospective option for the 14th roster spot (that's the backup C, or the backup to the backup C, depending on your POV and the play of Jaxson Hayes...) is already off the board before most Lakers fans really had a chance to lean into any possibilities.
JaVale McGee, three time NBA champ, one time Lakers champ, who was released by the Dallas Mavericks at the end of last week, has quickly moved on. He'll be joining the Sacramento Kings, via Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports. Smart move for JaVale, who quickly moves to a team that will play meaningful basketball this season. No reason to sit around waiting to see if there are better offers (especially since his salary is bigger than a minimum, courtesy of the Mavs). But it does indicate that the Lakers didn't see him as a priority relative to Christian Wood, Bismack Biyombo, or any other player hiding behind Door #3.
Mistake? Smart? Discuss.
Meanwhile, there's a novel approach to ranking NBA GMs up at Yahoo! and it leaves Rob Pelinka smack
01/09/2023 • 34 minutes 43 seconds
Can the Lakers Really Lighten LeBron's Load? Plus, Horry says the Lakers Should Retire Coop's Jersey.
On Tuesday's show, we talked about Austin Reaves, his great run to this point with Team USA in the World Cup, and how he might be a catalyst for helping lighten the load on LeBron James this season, something the Lakers have been trying to do for a couple seasons now.
One viewer of the show wondered if that's possible, saying in his mind, LeBron wouldn't let that happen.
But is that really the issue?
Dig into the numbers, and it's clear the team hasn't had any success lowering his burden, even last season after the deadline and the Lakers had a better roster. Why? Well, in part because on offense at least, deemphasizing LeBron is a questionable hoops choice. Is he old? Yes. But he's also still elite, and better at _____ offensively that pretty much anyone the Lakers are going to use (particularly in the role of an orchestrator). Plus, with superstars, it's often the teammates who do the deferring.
So can Reaves help? Well, he does share an ethos and some of the skill set that LeBron br
30/08/2023 • 36 minutes 53 seconds
Giannis Won't Commit to Bucks Extension, Instantly Linked to Lakers. Plus... Reaves Keeps Rolling.
It's August, sure, but when reporting notes that one of the two or three best players in the NBA may—may—not be fully content with his franchise (or at the least, is going to wait and see in order to keep pressure on them). So as Marc Stein on his Substack noted, with Giannis Antetokounpo unwilling to commit (years earlier than he has to, no question) to a forever future in Milwaukee, and then noting that the Knicks and Lakers would be potential destinations?
Well, there isn't much else to keep the mind from engaging with the possibilities.
First, the Lakers will very likely have some space available at the superstar level when something like this occurs, because LeBron James won't play forever. Second, it's impossible not to be giddy and the mere thought of Anthony Davis and Giannis, who could play together with the right combination of people around them, working on the same team. And especially, playing defense together.
Because that would be insane.
And if you're interested in trad
29/08/2023 • 36 minutes 14 seconds
Is JaVale McGee a Good Option for the Other Center Spot? Plus, Kobe's Statue Date is Announced
The Lakers still have an open roster spot that is earmarked for a center, to help fill in the depth chart behind Anthony Davis and (hopefully) Jaxson Hayes. For most of the summer, that choice has been framed, ideally, as one between Christian Wood and Bismack Biyombo. Very different players, but both established NBAers with defined skill sets.
Of course, the Lakers have no leverage to get either one, since all they can offer is a veteran's minimum contract. So the wait continues.
Now, though, a third player is ready to emerge as at least a possibility, since the Dallas Mavericks are reportedly ready to do what has been rumored for most of the offseason: Release McGee if they can't find a trade partner willing to take him. And since he played here already, and no former Laker can hit the market without being linked back to the team when back on the market, and because there are (in theory) reasonable arguments to be made for his return, well, people will make them.
But is he what the L
28/08/2023 • 39 minutes 25 seconds
Austin Reaves Recruiting for the Lakers? And Is Steph Curry Really Better Than Magic Johnson?
Austin Reaves is getting no shortage of press these days, including a new feature from Jovan Buha at The Athletic. It's a deep dive into how Reaves got here, and where he might be going. And while it's worth noting (again) that saying he's not dating Taylor Swift is exactly what someone who didn't want people to know he's dating Taylor Swift might say, those rumors from earlier in the offseason weren't close the big takeaways.
One big one? Reaves is keeping that chip on his shoulder that tells him people still don't believe he's all that good... even as it's clear people are starting to understand, even begrudgingly, that he is. That ability to create slights where they don't exist is a common feature among the most hyper-competitive athletes. And make no mistake, while Reaves is aw-shucks as the day is long... he will cut you.
And might he be the next great recruiter for the Lakers to help bring the next star post-LeBron James?
Who on the Lakers are the players with the greatest varia
In Los Angeles, it's basically become a holiday. They light up the Santa Monica Pier, and buildings around the city to commemorate 8/24, or Kobe Bryant Day.
Given how important this day is for so many fans, and the impact Kobe still has on the league and the city, we looked back at his career and took questions from viewers/listeners to the show. First, it's interesting to think about the different ways Kobe impacts different fans, and the multiple eras he spans. For some, he's an athlete they covered professionally. For others, an athlete they watched for 20 years as an adult. That's a different experience than cheering for him as a kid, or engaging in the mythology of Kobe at the end of his career, after he retired, or even after the helicopter crash that took his life.
There are many eras of Kobe Bryant, one of the many things that make him such a fascinating presence.
The mailbag asks:
What are some of your favorite memories covering Kobe? How did he interact with his teammates?
24/08/2023 • 35 minutes 53 seconds
Will Anthony Davis Play 65 Games? Who Starts at Forward Next to LeBron, Rui or Vanderbilt? (Guest: Mike Trudell!)
Anthony Davis has said he wants to win Defensive Player of the Year. He'd like to make All-NBA teams, and more.
The NBA says you need to play 65 games, at least, to qualify for those, and any other end-of-season awards.
The Lakers have 15 back-to-backs.
So when you start to put all of this stuff together, it creates an interesting potential question. Should A.D. stay healthy enough that injury doesn't fully threaten the 65 game awards threshold, the Lakers will still likely be looking to manage his workload in an effort to help keep him healthy for the postseason. So what happens if his (completely understandable) personal goals are in conflict with what the medical staff thinks is best?
It's not just a question about Davis, really, but whether the NBA's efforts to get stars playing in more games, and resting for fewer, works.
Meanwhile, many people are assuming the Lakers will start Rui Hachimura at power forward this year, because they paid him a bunch of money this offseason. But is
23/08/2023 • 35 minutes 52 seconds
Does Anthony Davis Take More Criticism with the Lakers Than He Deserves? (Guest: Mike Trudell)
Anthony Davis is, to say the least, a conversation starter.
In Part I of our two shows with Mike Trudell (Lakers.com, Spectrum Sportsnet, and more!) we dive deep into the Anthony Davis Experience. Does he get less credit than he should for high level of his play? When people are complaining about his performance, what exactly are they complaining about? Do people focus too much on some inconsistencies in his offensive dominance, without fully accounting and crediting him for his play defensively?
How are the Lakers going to give Davis more support defensively this season so that he doesn't get burned out over the course of the year? How are they better prepared to play good D this year compared to last? Just how good do they need to be to get where they want to go in the regular season?
How will it help the Lakers to have a little bit of continuity going into the season, as opposed to everything they've been doing for the last couple of seasons?
Are people overrating the shooting quest
22/08/2023 • 35 minutes 53 seconds
Darvin Ham: The Lakers Have Championship Level Depth... Is He Correct?
The schedule was released on Thursday... but we recorded this before that happened, so all the big post-schedule-drop-hoodoo will come on Monday.
In the meantime, Darvin Ham says the Lakers have championship caliber depth. Is he right? And more importantly, what exactly does that mean? The answer, particularly the focus on depth, is an interesting change for the Lakers compared to different points in their history. There certainly have been times where depth was measured in the number and quality of stars, rather than viable rotation players going down seven or eight or nine or ten roster spots.
This Lakers team has two bonafide stars. Top 5-10 guys around the league (and better, depending on the day). But they also have Austin Reaves, D'Angelo Russell, Rui Hachimura -- three high end members of the NBA non-star class. They've got Taurean Prince and Jarred Vanderbilt, along with Gabe Vincent,, and some young players worth a flier.
What does championship depth mean? How is that differen
18/08/2023 • 34 minutes 24 seconds
Is Rob Pelinka a Good General Manager? Plus, Stephen A. Smith Regrets Infamous Kwame Brown Rant.
Last week, Harrison Faigen of SB Nation/Silver Screen and Roll joined the show, and we spent much of the show talking about Rob Pelinka, and the redemptive arc he's been riding over the last several months. On the one hand, he has unquestionably fixed the mess the Lakers were in. On the other, he was the one who created it.
So how has Pelinka grown? Is he a different type of GM now than he was when he arrived in LA? Has he been humbled? Has he evolved? Is it a matter of gaining more confidence, so he's not trying as hard to impress?
What's going on here, exactly?
And how should Lakers fans feel about it going forward?
This time, we explore Pelinkaville with Andy, who is back from vacation. Given the criticisms we've had for Pelinka over the years, it only seems fair to open the conversation at a time when things are going well, the future looks solid, too. So are we all at a point where we can say that Pelinka is a high quality GM? Or are circumstances just lining up well for him now?
17/08/2023 • 36 minutes 55 seconds
The James Harden Mess Should Make Lakers Fans Feel Even Better About Anthony Davis' Extension
What a mess they've got on their hands in Philadelphia, with James Harden declaring GM Daryl Morey a "liar," and that he won't play on the team as long as he's there. He wants to get traded to the Clippers, and reportedly will make things as "uncomfortable" as possible for the Sixers until he gets his wish.
Mercifully, this turn of events has, other than the potential impacts on a conference rival, literally nothing to do with the Lakers. There is no rumor, no supposition, no anything linking Harden to the Lakers that is even two percent plausible. Or one percent. Or half a percent. Given the scope of Harden's star power, that's a nice turn of events, and indicates a change in how this sort of thing works. We saw a glimpse with the post-deadline path of Kyrie Irving, where, sure he was connected to the Lakers but there was no momentum there.
What does it mean that the Lakers aren't the automatic "What about?" when stuff like this happens?
And how does this Harden moment compare to anot
16/08/2023 • 35 minutes 46 seconds
Austin Reaves Thriving With Team USA. Is a Breakout Season Coming for the Lakers? Plus, Harden Drama!
Austin Reaves is the only undrafted free agent playing for Team USA in the World Cup this summer. He's one of only two players (Jalen Brunson, the other) who wasn't a first round pick.
But while surrounded by some of the best young talent in the NBA (including some All-Stars), Reaves is showing that he absolutely belongs. He's playing very well, providing a real spark for the US as it preps for the real tournament later this month. For Lakers fans, this isn't exactly surprising. And it's certainly not for this show's hosts, who predicted Reaves would play a significant role on Team USA, and that his coaches would love what he brings.
But it's meaningful for the Lakers that Reaves, called a connector by Steve Kerr, has an ability to do just that - connect players - while still asserting himself in important ways throughout a game. That's a difficult thing to do, and something critical if your running mates in your day job are, say, LeBron James and Anthony Davis. There are some who wond
15/08/2023 • 36 minutes 35 seconds
Pau Gasol Enters the Hall of Fame. If the Lakers Had a Ring of Honor, Who Would Be Inducted?
The Lakers have many, many Hall of Fame players. And now they have one more.
Pau Gasol entered the Naismith Basketball HOF over the weekend, and did so in typical Gasol fashion - meaning with class and grace, honoring his family and teammates and, of course, Kobe Bryant.
Gasol isn't in the Hall because he is a tremendous person, but it's hard not to focus on that. He is as well-respected a player and person as you'll find in this industry. There are players who have excellent public reputations where, off the record, players/coaches/media/team personnel will roll their eyes or flat out contradict the public image. That doesn't happen with Gasol.
Moreover, he's taken the burden—and it is that—of being a leading voice to carry on the legacy of Kobe. Talking about him, honoring him, and so on, in ways and in moments where doing so diverts attention to the quality of player he was. And he was truly outstanding. But Gasol gives up some of that shine and undivided attention in service of som
14/08/2023 • 34 minutes 32 seconds
Crossover: Christmas Day Hoops, Lakers vs. Clippers in '23-'24 and Kobe Bryant Memories (Guest, Darian Vaziri)
The NBA released its Christmas Day slate, and no surprise, the Lakers (who are also featured on opening night against the Nuggets) are right in the center of it. A marquee time slot hosting the Boston Celtics. The NBA went for tradition in a year where both teams are expected to compete for a title.
Not featured? Arguably the most challenging team in the Western Conference, and perhaps the entire league, to predict, the Los Angeles Clippers. Why?
Let's break that, and more, down with Darian Vaziri, the host of Locked On Clippers and the DimeDropper Podcast.
Where have the Clippers gone wrong? Is it just injuries? If they stay healthy, where do they stack up against the rest of the conference? Against the rest of the league? And what about that massive win streak the LAC have against the Lakers? After adding significant wing depth over the last six-plus months, are the Lakers finally built to beat the Clippers head-to-head? If so, how should fans react?
From there, the Daily Mail
11/08/2023 • 35 minutes 28 seconds
Scouting Report: Christian Wood (and JaVale McGee?) with Nick Angstadt, Locked On Mavs
Lakers Nation has been focused on that 14th player, who GM Rob Pelinka promises will be another big to help back up Anthony Davis. That's centered the conversation around Bismack Biyombo, and of course Christian Wood, who was with the Mavericks last season and clearly will not be returning to Dallas this year.
So after extensive scouting reports on the players the Lakers have acquired, it's time for one they're interested in acquiring.
Nick Angstadt, host of Locked On Mavs, joins to break down the problems with Wood's game, and explain why the Mavs (and the rest of the league, apparently, isn't interested in giving him anything close to the type of money his stats would suggest he deserves.
Spoiler alert: It's more than just his total lack of defense, he says.
Still, would Wood make sense? How about former Laker JaVale McGee, who isn't expected to return to the Mavs this season and would, almost instantly, be tied to the Lakers as a potential signee.
Angstadt breaks down both.
10/08/2023 • 38 minutes 47 seconds
How Good a General Manager Is Rob Pelinka? Has He Fully Rehabbed His Image (Guest: Harrison Faigen)
So how good a GM is Rob Pelinka?
There are very few questions you could ask of Lakers fans, and Lakers media, over the last few years and receive a wider variety of answers, depending on the date. The swings here are massive. On the one hand, he's won a title! On the other, he completely destroyed a season-and-a-half with the Russell Westbrook trade, and made a bunch of other technical errors that have cost the Lakers over the last few years.
But then again, the man completely rescued the team from the h-e-double hockey sticks in which he put it at the trade deadline, reforming the roster and forming a group that reached the Western Conference Finals. This summer, he did good work maintaining the roster and adding a little more balance. There was no big swing for a shiny object, no upheaval to try and add another star.
On the other hand... there really weren't any stars to go get. Not without jumping through so many hoops and performing so many surgeries on the roster that the result s
09/08/2023 • 40 minutes 21 seconds
Wood or Biyombo? Hachimura or Vanderbilt with the Starters? Lakers' Title Odds (Guest, Aaron Larsuel, Part 2)
On Monday, Aaron Larsuel (Official Lakers Podcast, All Access Lakers on Playback) joined the show for a deep dive on Anthony Davis.
Today? We hit a bunch of subjects, starting with who ought to get that 14th spot. What type of player are the Lakers looking for? What matters more, the ability to play with Anthony Davis, or effectively sub for him in the games he (very likely) misses? How important is predictability? A good discussion to lay out the differences with Christian Wood and Bismack Biyombo, and who might serve the team's needs better.
Next? Is it fair to have a wait and see attitude about Rui Hachimura, not quite ready to buy his playoff performance as a sign of things to come this season, while having full faith that the Austin Reaves we saw (particularly over the last half of the season) is what's coming this year? Especially as a shooter? A viewer on the YouTube page asks, and we answer.
Finally, FanDuel Sportsbook has its NBA Futures odds posted. Some interesting lines for
08/08/2023 • 44 minutes 33 seconds
Is Anthony Davis Treated Unfairly Compared to Other NBA Superstars? Guest: Aaron Larsuel (Part 1)
Anthony Davis made news on Friday, agreeing to a three-year, $186 million extension with the Lakers that will keep him with the team—or at least under contract with the team—for the next five seasons.
What is the impact for the team? How does the size of the deal, and the numbers that get published around it, reflect changes in the CBA and cost structure of the league that fans (and media) have to get used to?
These are some of the questions kicked around with Aaron Larsuel, host of the Official Lakers Podcast and All Access Lakers on Playback. In this episode, we get deep into Davis. Was the extension the right play for him? For the Lakers? What are the risks involved for both parties, and how might each come out ahead? Is he the right kind of player in which to make this sort of investment?
And from there, is Davis treated differently than other superstars around the league? Do we move the goalposts for him, relative to other stars, more frequently? If so, why?
It's an Anthony Davis
07/08/2023 • 37 minutes 6 seconds
BONUS SHOW: Lakers, Anthony Davis Agree to 3 Year, $186 Million Contract Extension
Friday was the first day the Lakers could offer Anthony Davis a contract extension under CBA rules. It's been widely reported that both parties shared a mutual interest in getting that extension done sooner rather than later.
Well, sooner rather than later turned out to mean Day 1.
The Lakers and Davis agreed Friday to a 3-year, $186 million max extension that keeps him under contract with the Lakers for the next five seasons, and locks in a star for the team that extends past the (presumed) end of the LeBron James Era. The Lakers get the security and certainty of having Davis under contract, Davis gets a bleep ton of money and the security of knowing that injuries over the next couple of seasons won't impact the proverbial bag.
So does everybody win here? In theory, Davis could have made himself a little more money (at the least, by signing a deal after next season that would have been one year, and about $70 million, more. On the other hand, he gets hurt. A lot. And you just never kn
05/08/2023 • 15 minutes 28 seconds
More Lakers Rotation Q's: Should Rui Start? How Much PT for Vanderbilt, Prince? Is Christie Ready?
Thursday's show centered on big questions in the Lakers rotation. How will Darvin Ham chop up the minutes at point guard between D'Angelo Russell and Gabe Vincent? Is it really possible that Anthony Davis spends more time at power forward, which would open up center minutes (while also demanding LeBron James guard small fowards, and put a real minutes crunch on some of the team's better players) for Jaxson Hayes and/or big-man-to-be-signed-later?
That conversation still left one big spot on the table: the forward rotation.
That includes Rui Hachimura, who many people think will start... but should that be taken as gospel?
What about the usage of Taurean Prince and Jarred Vanderbilt? Could Vando get squeezed if the Lakers find themselves in more consistent need of floor spacing or scoring? How does his defensive versatility match up with Prince's?
Where does Max Christie fit in?
These are all good problems for Darvin Ham to figure out, and he does it with a roster that has much more bal
04/08/2023 • 41 minutes 1 second
What Will Be The Lakers' Rotation? Who Closes at Point Guard? Can Anthony Davis Start at PF?
The Lakers have a roster that is far more balanced than the one they had at the beginning of August in 2022. It features coherent parts that make real sense together. There is a sense of legitimate depth, as well. But with these first world problems come challenging questions about how to divide up a limited amount of minutes.
Jovan Buha, who covers the Lakers for The Athletic, has a story up this week providing and early projection about who starts, who finishes, and how many minutes guys get.
Among the big questions:
If the Lakers really do want to play Anthony Davis as a power forward as much as they did in earlier seasons, what does that do to LeBron James? To the rest of the forward rotation? Is it a good idea, before even unpacking whether Jaxson Hayes/center-not-yet-signed ought to be playing in the starting lineup?
What does the point guard situation look like? Does D'Angelo Russell start? Assuming he does, will he finish games, or does that job go to Gabe Vincent, thanks to
03/08/2023 • 36 minutes 25 seconds
The Lakers will Reportedly Offer Anthony Davis an extension this Week. Are Fans Excited?
The Lakers, by all accounts, plan to offer Anthony Davis a three year extension worth about $170 million as early as this week. The logic behind it is sound, the arguments for waiting less so. The Lakers have a star that is, without question, capable of playing at a level only a few other guys around the league can, particularly when you take both ends of the floor into account.
When you have guys like that, you keep them, and you don't screw around with it.
None of that, however, changes the fact that Anthony Davis gives people the heebie jeebies, first and foremost because there's always the lingering threat of injury. The guy does get hurt a lot. He seems unlikely to get hurt less as he gets older. He also sometimes... just... leaves... fans... wanting... more.
Maybe it's because of the expectations for the guy expected to support LeBron through a regular season and into the playoffs. Maybe it's because his top end is so eye-popping, you want it all the time. There's a lot of that b
02/08/2023 • 32 minutes 51 seconds
Jeanie Buss says LeBron James will Have Lakers Jersey Retired. Could a Statue Follow?
Lakers owner Jeanie Buss made it clear in a recent interview that LeBron James will have his number retired by the Lakers once his playing days are over. Whether he'll have to wait to formally enter the Hall of Fame, which is itself a requirement for jersey retirement with this franchise, we'll wait and see. (I think we can all agree it would be safe for the Lakers to raise his number before the HOF actually performs the ceremony - he seems like a pretty safe bet for admission...)
So GOAT candidate who won a title with the team, helped lead them through a very dark time after Kobe Bryant's death, went to a Western Conference Finals, became the NBA's leading scorer, etc. -- good enough for jersey retirement, but that doesn't tell the whole story.
Where would LeBron rank in terms of Lakers legacy, relative to the other greats that have also had their jersey's retired? Is he more Wilt or Magic? Which end of the spectrum are we talking about, here?
How much does that matter? What might it
01/08/2023 • 34 minutes 43 seconds
Cam Reddish Scouting Report: What does the Young Wing Bring to the Lakers?
Cam Reddish has been linked to the Lakers for at least two seasons, whether because he's a young wing with possible upside (a commodity the Lakers have typically lacked), because he's a Klutch client (a commodity the Lakers often sign), or some combination of both. What everyone agrees on, however, is that Reddish has been equal parts tantalizing, maddening and polarizing throughout his career. At times, he's appeared on the verge of a breakout after starts and stops. Others, he's appeared like a shot-happy, overhyped prospect outmatched when competing against NBA peers. After playing for three teams in four season, Reddish finds himself at something of a career-crossroads before turning 24.
Then again, he's never been teamed up with players on the level of LeBron James or Anthony Davis, nor part of an ecosystem as solid as the Lakers'. For that matter, he's never been part of a development program with L.A.'s track record. Could that, plus the pressure of laying the foundation for a
31/07/2023 • 41 minutes 4 seconds
Do Important Lakers Players Not Want Christian Wood? And Who's the Best fifth Starter? Rui? Vando? Prince?
For a guy potentially slated to make a veteran's minimum deal, the final destination for free agent big man Christian Wood has garnered a lot of attention and rumor mill grist, much of connecting him to the Lakers, who are outwardly on the market for a forward/center. But has Wood, often regarded as an empty calories, me-first scorer, unwanted among the most important Lakers? According to what Lakers Nation's Trevor Lane (joined here by LN cohort Sean "Spaces" Davis) heard while in Vegas for Summer League....
While it wasn't clear exactly which Lakers are cold on the idea of Wood, that his presence could prompt mixed enthusiasm in the locker room is a big deal. Lane and Davis help chop up what it all means moving forward, and whether that apprehension could mean going in another direction. We also discuss the potential fifth starter alongside LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Austin Reaves and (most likely) D'Angelo Russell. Many are assuming Rui Hachimura, with his new sizable cont
28/07/2023 • 37 minutes 9 seconds
Could the Lakers/LeBron Get Christian Wood to Buy in, and is Anthony Davis a True Franchise Player?
The Lakers' fourteenth roster spot remains in flux, and according to multiple reports, could be earmarked for free agent Christian Wood, a talented but highly polarizing journeyman forward/center. Why does he rub some folks the wrong way? Because other than scoring, which he's admittedly quite good at, he doesn't seem dedicated to much else, especially defense. How hard would it be to change this?
Well, according to an NBA source who spoke to Dan Woike (LA Times), “If LeBron [James] can get [Wood] to toe the line, it cements LeBron as the greatest player of all time... That's how hard it is."
But according to Woike, that doesn't necessarily mean the Lakers wouldn't give this project a go, anyway. He joined Locked on Lakers to discuss the Lakers' internal split on signing Wood, along with the many pros and cons on either side of the argument. We also delved into the possibility of extending Anthony Davis before the season begins, whether he's proven himself worthy of taking the
27/07/2023 • 40 minutes 5 seconds
Did the Lakers Actually Have the Best Possible Offseason? Plus, Could Saudi Money Disrupt the NBA?
The overwhelming consensus this offseason among pundits, fans, and seemingly LeBron James, was that the Lakers did quite well for themselves in free agency. At worst, they maintained a nice status quo. At best, they even improved. But was there perhaps a better route that could have been pursued, with more big picture flexibility? Anthony Irwin, host of the Lakers Lounge Podcast and Substack author, thinks so. In Irwin's opinion, the Lakers could have set themselves up better with an approach that meant going into the luxury tax, losing full mid-level exception (and by extension, access to Gabe Vincent), and keeping Malik Beasley and Mo Bamba on the roster as expiring contracts for a potential in-season mega-deal.
The pros and cons of each route, and whether economic concerns played too big a role, gets a deep dive examination.
All that, plus thoughts on whether Lonnie Walker IV will be missed, Max Christie's readiness to enter the rotation, and if Saudi Arabia's brash, big money ent
26/07/2023 • 38 minutes 23 seconds
How Would a Shift in the "Player Empowerment" Era Impact the Lakers? Plus, Mailbag!!!
NBA headlines have been occupied by the trade demands of James Harden from Philadelphia, and Damian Lillard from Portland. Tuesday, NBA headlines were occupied by journeyman guard Austin Rivers talking about those trade demands. He doesn't think they're good for the game, and are contributing to what he sees as a bad deal for players in the new CBA.
So beyond the philosophical questions about whether he's right, there are implications for the Lakers in how fans, media and owners view these expressions of player empowerment. The Lakers, after all, have a long history of being central in power plays, whether in trade demands made by Lakers players (think Kobe, Shaq) or perhaps more importantly, players trying to force their way to LA (most recently, Anthony Davis). The Lakers will always be central in these conversations, as a crown jewel of the league and a very popular place to play.
Meanwhile, the economics he's discussing around the NBA's middle class getting squeezed and how large c
25/07/2023 • 34 minutes 43 seconds
Is Rudy Gay the Lakers' Next Free Agent Target? Plus, Gabe Vincent on Gold Medals and NBA Titles.
The Lakers are still waiting on Christian Wood, and are still linked to Bismack Biyombo. Those are the most prominent names attached to their pursuit of a back up center. And if JaVale McGee is eventually released by Dallas, you can throw his name in the mix, too.
This weekend, however, following his release by the Oklahoma City Thunder (following a trade out of Utah), a new name landed on the radar: Rudy Gay.
The (very) veteran forward has, technically, filled the role of a backup, small ball center, having played about 15% of his minutes last season as a C in Utah, part of a trend going back a couple of years. But a real backup center, Gay is not. He'd add a steady, veteran voice to the roster, and a low-maintenance presence for Darvin Ham, capable of playing minutes when needed and sitting without complaint when he's not. On the other hand, Gay's production has dropped off dramatically over the last couple of seasons with the Jazz, and while there has always been some inconsistency
24/07/2023 • 33 minutes 7 seconds
How Close Was Austin Reaves to Leaving the Lakers? Plus, a Taurean Prince Scouting Report!
On the All the Smoke podcast with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson, Austin Reaves talked about his free agency, and who exactly was courting him before he eventually resigned with L.A...
Not surprisingly, it was Houston and San Antonio. Neither team ended up making an offer. The Spurs held off on any big signings, instead choosing to fill in their cap space with more temporary veterans and extensions for their own guys. Houston, meanwhile, went big with Fred Van Vleet and Dillon Brooks. But while both teams might have kicked the tires on Reaves, it seems the Lakers really did scare everyone off because they knew the Lakers weren't letting him go. And with that in mind, why bother?
Surely Reaves would have loved an offer sheet in that $70 or even $80 million range, and surely the Lakers would have matched. Which was the problem. It would have been interesting to see what Reaves looked like on teams like the Rockets and Spurs, who are filled with young talent, and where Reaves would have
21/07/2023 • 34 minutes 50 seconds
Will the Lakers Get Outbid to Sign Christian Wood? (And Is He the Best Option?)
The Lakers are among a group of teams across the NBA interested in signing free agent forward Christian Wood. One reason? Rob Pelinka would like to sign another big who doesn't share the same profile as Jaxson Hayes. Wood certainly qualifies there, with a much more polished offensive game and a general degree of skill Hayes has yet to come close to matching. On the other hand, he makes Hayes look like a DPOY candidate.
So who is the competition for Wood? How long is this going to take to resolve itself?
And is Wood the best option available for the Lakers, anyway?
Are the Lakers better off here with a player who has a higher ceiling, but a lower floor, than a guy like Bismack Biyombo? For all of his shortcomings, Biyombo has an elite-level skill (rim protection) that will come in handy whether the Lakers have Anthony Davis in the lineup or not. What about Collin Castleton? Could he end up picking up some minutes for LA?
Meanwhile... it's time to review the Summer Pro League experience
20/07/2023 • 37 minutes 18 seconds
Will the Lakers Sign Anthony Davis to an Extension this Offseason? Plus, the Lakers-Nuggets Feud Grows!
With most of the big free agent work done, attention can turn to other important issues central to the team's future. Like what's coming for Anthony Davis.
The Lakers star is eligible for a new contract extension before the season, one that could add another three years and nearly $168 million to his contract. ESPN's Dave McMenamin reports the Lakers are likely to come to some sort of arrangement with A.D. before the season starts - details TBD. Obviously those details matter, but bigger picture, it raises all kinds of questions about not only the Lakers and their future (this would be the first deal taking Davis well beyond the LeBron James Timeline, Davis will be well into his 30s, and so on) but the way contracts like this will be handled across the league. With the new CBA, will teams automatically give out these extensions/max contracts to star players?
Is this something the Lakers should automatically do? Would they be better off letting that deal play out? How much risk is there
19/07/2023 • 36 minutes 19 seconds
Scouting Report: Is Gabe Vincent Ready to Take a Leap with the Lakers?
One of the more significant signings of the offseason for the Lakers - some might say the most significant - was Miami guard Gabe Vincent. At the very least, he was their biggest investment, at three years and $33 million dollars. He slots into the role held by Dennis Schröder, and is set to play a really big role in the team's rotation.
He had a very impressive playoffs, including some particularly important moments in the Eastern Conference Finals against Boston. Particularly notable was his outside shooting, which went well above his career norms.
So who exactly are the Lakers getting?
Wes Goldberg, host of Locked On Heat, joins to break it down in a very in-depth scouting report. What are his strengths? How much has Heat Culture influenced Vincent's growth? What will his game look like moving into a group like the Lakers? How will Vincent, the person, fit into a team with LeBron James and the expectations of the Lakers? What kind of locker room presence will he be?
On the floor, wa
18/07/2023 • 41 minutes 53 seconds
Should the Lakers Trade Jarred Vanderbilt for Christian Wood? Plus... Austin Reaves, Future All-Star?
Do not kill the messenger. Sunday, Sam Quinn at CBS noted on Twitter that (relaying a report from Marc Stein) the Mavericks would be willing/happy to flip Christian Wood in a sign-and-trade deal. For obvious reasons, since they could get something in return for him. Wood would clearly love that outcome, because it would mean he's getting something more than a minimum deal.
And the Lakers are part of the conversation because they're one of the teams linked to Wood as a possible free agent destination. Quinn noted, for that reason, that while he doesn't think this will happen and it's currently not a live scenario, one way—and really the only way—the Lakers could engage in a S/T with Dallas for Wood would be by trading Jarred Vanderbilt.
To say the least, that sparked a big online conversation among fans online.
So would you do it? Trade Vanderbilt for Wood?
The consensus among fans was a hard pass, but how much of that is optics? Vanderbilt is a VERY easy player to like. Wood is VERY ea
17/07/2023 • 33 minutes 52 seconds
LeBron James Confirms He's Not Retiring (SHOCKER!!!) and Darvin Ham Has Words For Mike Malone
It's official. During Wednesday's ESPY Awards, LeBron James confirmed he's not retiring and will return to the Lakers. You may go on living the lives you were already engaged in with no change whatsoever. But all jokes aside, while the news wasn't necessarily even news by this point, there was some interesting psychology with LeBron's theatricality, as well as what we suspect was actually going on in his head when he floated the idea of hanging up his sneaks for good.
In the meantime, Darvin Ham is nothing if not confident.
So when visiting the #thisleague UNCUT podcast with Chris Haynes and Marc Stein, maybe it shouldn't be surprising that Ham had some spicy moments. Those 10 teams that passed him up and hired other guys? They "****ed up, royally," he said. Denver coach Mike Malone, who (along with his team) spent an unusual amount of post-title time talking about beating the Lakers? Ham heard, and remembers. "Oh wow, bring up ‘Money Mike,’ the Lakers’ daddy, right? That’s what they c
14/07/2023 • 33 minutes 38 seconds
NBA 2K24 Rates LeBron and the Lakers... and Does Austin Reaves Need to Worry About Flopping Rules?
Is LeBron James really in a five way tie for the best player in the NBA?
Well, if you believe this year's 2K rankings, yes. Yes he is.
The issue isn't whether they're right or wrong, exactly, but it does drive home the paradox of LeBron these days, and the tension that goes along with building a team around him. On the one hand, he's not *that guy* on a night in, night out basis, across a full season's worth of games. He's not going to play in all 82. Or probably even 72. You hope for something over 62. But for one night, can he be that good? For one series? Yes, yes he can.
Anthony Davis? Just behind LeBron's 97 ranking, at a 94. And the same basic dynamic exists with him, too. He's capable of playing elite ball, but do you know he's going to be there?
Meanwhile, the folks at 2K produced some fun numbers about the team, some that seem accurate, some fans hope are wishcasting, and finally others that make you wonder if they've ever actually seen any of these players on the floor.
13/07/2023 • 33 minutes 54 seconds
Darvin Ham Says the Lakers Have a Championship Caliber Roster. Is He Right?
Not that you'd expect otherwise, but Darvin Ham was talking up the Lakers roster earlier this week with Mark Medina of The Sporting Tribune. Ham says the Lakers absolutely have a roster capable of winning an NBA championship. Not that he was saying the Lakers should be prohibitive favorites or anything, but that they've got the pieces to get it done.
So is he right? Or is this just a coach delivering the normal platitudes you get in July?
It's hard to argue with his premise. The Lakers, after all, are coming off a Western Conference Finals appearance, and even if you don't think they radically improved this offseason, they certainly didn't get any worse. (And realistically, while the improvement wasn't massive - that sort of transformative thing wasn't really available to them - they enter the season with a more balanced roster than last season and the opportunity to build with continuity.
That continuity thing? Ham is a big proponent, calling it a major reason the Nuggets won a title,
12/07/2023 • 33 minutes 58 seconds
Is Max Christie the Next Austin Reaves? Plus, D'Angelo Russell Waives No-Trade Clause
The Lakers have constructed most of their roster—just that pesky final center (presumably) remains—and generally to terms very favorable to the team. One wrinkle that was disclosed this week? Via Keith Smith, the cap guru, D'Angelo Russell waived the no-trade clause afforded him (and any other player signing a similar deal) thanks to his contract, which amounts to only one guaranteed year, since the second one is an option.
Does that mean Russell is, once again, on the trade block, before the ink even dries on this deal? Well, sort of? Russell will always be placed into trade rumors. He's been there since the Lakers drafted him. He was in rumors in Brooklyn. He was in rumors in Golden State. He was in rumors this summer. He'll be in rumors next year, the year after, and with whatever teams he plays for before he retires. But it's a setup that benefits everyone. If the Lakers are going well and Russell is playing well, he's not going to be dealt at all. If he's not? It benefits eve
11/07/2023 • 35 minutes 24 seconds
More Anthony Davis at Power Forward for the Lakers this Season? Plus, In-Season Tournament Details!
The young Lakers players on their Summer League team continue to look good, winning two more games over the weekend. But while there's plenty to talk about with Jalen Hood-Schifino, Colin Castleton, Max Lewis, Max Christie and more, it was stuff Rob Pelinka was saying to the media that got a lot of attention.
He noted in a couple of interviews that he had talked to Anthony Davis once again about his position on the floor, and that the Lakers would like to repeat some of the success from 2020, when A.D. played most of his minutes with another big next to him.
Does that mean the Lakers plan to start Davis with another big? Jaxson Hayes, or whoever they look for with the 14th roster spot? (Pelinka confirmed they'd like to find another big.) Would that be a bench configuration the Lakers deploy from time to time, when the matchups are right?
Where Davis plays, at power forward or center, has been a hot-button issue thanks to numbers indicating how well the Lakers perform with Davis as a fi
10/07/2023 • 37 minutes 40 seconds
The Lakers (Officially) Sign (Most of) Their Free Agents... Which New Player Could Have the Biggest Impact?
The Lakers officially welcomed nearly all of their free agent signees on Thursday, putting pen to paper with all but D'Angelo Russell, who appears to be on vacation.
Nothing unexpected, but it feels like the official start of something new, nonetheless.
So with that in mind, which of the free agents are the most consequential? Among the new players, is it Gabe Vincent? He was certainly the highest profile acquisition (and cost the most money). Or maybe Taurean Prince? What exactly has changed from last year to this one, based on who the Lakers have brought in/retained? It wasn't that long ago the Lakers were lining up Patrick Beverley on opposing wings because they didn't have the length to throw at them. Even with the center position still a question mark, that type of imbalance is a thing of the past.
Meanwhile, Austin Reaves might now be on the most team-friendly non-rookie deal in the league. Why didn't anyone else make an offer? Did the Lakers just get lucky?
Finally, there is ple
07/07/2023 • 34 minutes 33 seconds
Max Christie Shines in Summer League.. Plus, Mo Bamba is a Sixer. The Lakers need another Center.
The Lakers lost again Wednesday, meaning they'll leave Sacramento and the California Classic without a victory. But that doesn't really matter, because it's Summer League, after all.
What does? How the Important Players look. First and foremost, Max Christie. For second year players, the expectation is they should perform at a higher level than most of the players on the floor. Playing great doesn't always mean great things are coming, but poor play is a definite red flag. Christie looked excellent Monday in the team's SPL debut, and on Wednesday picked up right where he left off. 25 points, four rebounds, four assists, a steal and a block. He made four of his five 3-point attempts, and shot eight free throws. Once again, Christie was the team's best player, and that's good!
So how long before you feel confident he can play a role in the regular season?
Meanwhile, how did Jalen Hood-Schifino look in his second game? Colin Castleton? What about Cole Swider? Evaluating players in SPL can
06/07/2023 • 33 minutes 57 seconds
Which Free Agent Center Should the Lakers Sign? Plus, Max Christie/Summer League Recap
The Lakers have some decisions to make before the roster is finalized. The most prominent is around the 14th roster spot, widely expected to go to another center. Or at the least, a really big power forward who can absorb minutes at the five. With Anthony Davis's health a priority, and a spotty injury history, reliable backups are critical. Right now, the Lakers only have free agent signee Jaxson Hayes, who disappointed in a big way over four years in New Orleans, and two-way signee Colin Castleton, a rookie out of Florida.
Not exactly the most comforting options for a team that figures to lean on its backup center fairly significantly throughout the year.
So who do they go get?
The names aren't super exciting, and all options have serious flaws (which is to be expected, given the Lakers can only offer a minimum deal). Old faces like Wenyen Gabriel, Mo Bamba, and Montrezl Harrell, or new (to the Lakers, at least) guys like Christian Wood, Bismack Biyombo, and Willy Hernangomez.
05/07/2023 • 37 minutes 14 seconds
Evaluating the Lakers' Free Agency Moves... plus a Scouting Report for Jaxson Hayes
NBA free agency isn't over, but it's mostly over for the Lakers. Save a 14th spot likely to go to a center, and a 15th spot likely to stay open until the Lakers decide it needs to be filled later in the year, the Lakers basically filled out the roster in the first two days of free agency.
Brought back Rui Hachimura, Austin Reaves and D'Angelo Russell on contracts that are all ranging from very reasonable to excellent values.
Signed Miami G Gabe Vincent (to replace Dennis Schröder), veteran F Taurean Prince, C Jaxson Hayes, and F Cam Reddish, who has been linked to the Lakers for so long this felt like an inevitability.
All of this done going the route of using the big exception and allowing themselves to be hard capped at the first apron (about $172 million). for what it's worth, even after they bring in their 14th guy, the Lakers will still have some wiggle room beneath that ceiling, which could definitely come in handy down the road. They brought back the core players
03/07/2023 • 40 minutes 13 seconds
NBA Free Agency, Day 2: Lakers re-sign Austin Reaves, D'Angelo Russell, add Jaxson Hayes
NBA free agency is barely 48 hours in the books, and the Lakers have managed to tie up more or less all of the loose ends facing them when the period began. The 1a priority was retaining Austin Reaves and 1b was retaining D'Angelo Russell, and by lunchtime on the west coast, both were in the bag. Russell is reportedly returning on a two-year deal worth $37M, with a player option for the second season. A fair deal that offers flexibility on both sides, and should allow Russell to settle into a comfort zone where he can bounce back from a Western Conference Finals that left a bad taste in everyone's mouth. As for Reaves, it was never a question of whether he'd be back, but at what price, as the Lakers and Team Reaves waited to see if another franchise called the Lakers' messaging of a willingness to match any offer for the restricted free agent. As it turned out, things just got wrapped up posthaste. Four years, $56M, with a player option for the last season. Assuming Reaves continues to
01/07/2023 • 26 minutes 11 seconds
NBA Free Agency, Day 1: Lakers re-sign Rui Hachimura, Add Taurean Prince, Gabe Vincent, Cam Reddish
Player movement on Day 1 of NBA free agency wasn't as rapid fire as last offseason, but it was nonetheless pretty busy, and the Lakers were very active, moving quickly to leverage both exceptions available to them.
The rundown of activity:
Signed forward Taurean Prince to a one year deal worth a reported $4.5 million, likely the team's biannual exception.
Signed Miami guard Gabe Vincent to a 3 year, $33 million deal, with the team's full midlevel exception - the one opened up when they declined their option on Malik Beasley, and released Mo Bamba.
Signed forward Cam Reddish to a two-year deal at the veteran's minimum. This, like Thanos, was inevitable. Can the Lakers actually help him meet his potential?
Re-signed forward Rui Hachimura to a three year deal at $17 million per, a nice payout for Hachimura. A little higher perhaps than the Lakers hoped, but still low enough that...
...the Lakers still have enough to re-sign Austin Reaves and D'Angelo Russell (assuming he doesn't get
01/07/2023 • 28 minutes 38 seconds
Why the Los Angeles Lakers Signed Rui Hachimura and Gabe Vincent
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01/07/2023 • 9 minutes 11 seconds
Why Taurean Prince Signed With the Los Angeles Lakers
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01/07/2023 • 8 minutes 12 seconds
The Lakers Open Space to Use Full Midlevel Exception as NBA Free Agency Begins
Wednesday, speculation that the Lakers had their eye on a full midlevel exception worth over $12 million a season, rather than the smaller taxpayer version (a little over $5) began to ramp up. And with decisions to make on Malik Beasley and Mo Bamba, we'd all learn pretty quickly what direction the Lakers would be taking.
Thursday, we got our answers. The Lakers declined a team option on Beasley, then released Bamba (along with Shaq Harrison) to give themselves a chance to use that larger exception. The big target? Likely Denver's Bruce Brown, and Thursday The Athletic's Jovan Buha reported the Lakers feel like they have a good shot at signing the versatile, hard-nosed guard.
Granted, they'll have a lot of competition, because basically every team in the league would love to have him.
So should fans print their Brown jerseys? Is Milwaukee center Brook Lopez, mentioned as another player the Lakers would want, even a small possibility? Because he'd be a perfect fit next to Anthony Davis.
30/06/2023 • 37 minutes 34 seconds
Can the Lakers Maintain Continuity... and Also Try to Sign Bruce Brown as a Free Agent?
On Tuesday, introducing the team's two draft picks to the local media, Lakers GM Rob Pelinka reiterated the idea the team enters this offseason valuing continuity. They want to keep this core group together, and build on what was accomplished following the trade deadline last season.
Of course, continuity can mean a lot of different things, as can core.
Some guys are more core than others, right? So who might get left out if the Lakers decide to run it back... mostly? And if they go that direction, do they have a path to better players?
Well, on Wednesday reports indicated the Lakers would be very, very interested in Denver's Bruce Brown, were they to free up use of their non-taxpayer midlevel exception, worth a little over $12 million. They'd have plenty of competition, and even getting to a place where an offer could be made would mean parting ways with Malik Beasley and Mo Bamba, and perhaps more. And it would also require a very astute reading of the free agent market, because usin
29/06/2023 • 31 minutes 36 seconds
NBA Free Agency Preview for the Lakers, and Another Jalen Hood-Schifino Scouting Report!
NBA free agency kicks off Friday at 3 pm PT, and while the Lakers aren't likely to be first out of the gate—that tends to be the teams with real dollars to spend—they'll most certainly be paying close attention to where the first wave of players land, and who might be left over.
A big (or bigger than the Lakers can make, at least) offer to someone like Dennis Schröder could change the landscape a little, too, because it might mean the taxpayer mid-level exception people expect the Lakers to use (and currently, in theory, earmarked for Schröder) would go somewhere else.
It's a thin year for free agents, so who is out there that might make sense?
And what about Jalen Hood-Schifino? There's still plenty to learn about LA's first round pick from last week's draft.
There's nobody better to handle the intersection of these stories than Jacob Rude, who covers the Lakers for Silver Screen and Roll, and Indiana hoops for Locked On Hoosiers. In a fabulous moment of serendipity, his worlds have c
28/06/2023 • 40 minutes 16 seconds
Has the Free Agency Market Been Set for Rui Hachimura? Do the Lakers Need to Keep Mo Bamba?
The Draft is done, and now the NBA is getting ready for the rush of free agency.
In a twist on the normal run of things, the Lakers really aren't a big part of the rumor mill. The reasons are fairly obvious: They lack cap space, and to create any, it would require the Lakers to clear the decks of too many important players. Way too many. Meanwhile, the types of guys they can afford aren't the shiny names that get attention at this point of the process. But logic and reality has never been a big part of determining whether people talk about the Lakers and free agent action.
Instead, the focus really is much more on the market for their own free agents, and whether the Lakers will make a real effort to run it back. That starts with D'Angelo Russell and Rui Hachimura. And the market for Hachimura might have taken shape over the weekend, when Minnesota's Naz Reid signed an extension with the Wolves for about $14 million a season.
And while some Lakers fans had pipe dreams of somehow gettin
27/06/2023 • 34 minutes 59 seconds
Scouting Report for Lakers Draft Picks Jalen Hood-Schifinom, Maxwell Lewis... Guest: Mike Garcia!
The Lakers added four players in last week's NBA Draft: First round pick Jalen Hood-Schifino (G, Indiana), Maxwell Lewis (F, Pepperdine) in the second round, and two undrafted players signed to two-way contracts (D'Moi Hodge, G, Missouri and Colin Castleton, C, Florida). They also signed Florida F Alex Fudge to an Exhibit 10 deal.
Generally speaking, the the Lakers' draft was well-received by those who grade this sort of thing, but who exactly did they get? What are the strengths and weaknesses?
We bring back Lakers draft expert Mike Garcia (@canyondriver) to take a deep dive into the newest members of the purple and gold.
It starts with Hood-Schifino. What are his most translatable NBA skills? Who are his comps? (Is it weird to watch his film and think of a right-handed D'Angelo Russell?) Can he defend at a high enough level to earn minutes as a rookie? What about concerns around his 3-point shooting and finishing ability? Mike breaks down all of Hood-Schifino's strengths and weakness
26/06/2023 • 37 minutes 51 seconds
Lakers Draft Indiana PG Jalen Hood-Schifino, Pepperdine F Maxwell Lewis. Good Picks?
After a lot of speculation, the Lakers had a pretty conventional, uncontroversial and uneventful Thursday at the NBA Draft, and that's a good thing.
They used the 17th pick to take Indiana guard Jalen Hood-Schifino, a (barely) 20-year old combo player who excels in the mid-range and in the pick and roll, and critically has both good length (6'6" in shoes) and instincts to have a shot to hold his own as a defender in his rookie season. It's unlikely the pick is meant to hedge against losing D'Angelo Russell in free agency - asking a rookie to soak up that responsibility on a team with aspirations isn't fair - but that doesn't meant the Lakers wouldn't like him to play. (And might need him to, should Dennis Schröder prove too expensive to bring back.)
In the second round (40th pick - LA traded up earlier in the day to get there), the Lakers selected Maxwell Lewis, a 6'7" wing who managed to put up good numbers on a terrible Pepperdine team, showing real potential as a 3-and-D type. Given
23/06/2023 • 35 minutes 46 seconds
Why the Los Angeles Lakers selected Jalen Hood-Schifino in the first round of the NBA Draft
The Los Angeles Lakers selected Jalen Hood-Schifino in the first round of the 2023 NBA Draft. Brian Kamenetzky, host of Locked On Lakers, joined Tenitra Batiste to discuss how Jalen Hood-Schifino fits in with the Lakers.
Check out all of our NBA Draft coverage across the Locked On Podcast Network.
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23/06/2023 • 8 minutes 58 seconds
NBA Draft Day! Are the Lakers Planning to Trade the 17th Pick?
The NBA Draft is here!
So... what do the Lakers do? That's the big question facing the team. Do they keep the 17th pick, and draft a player they intend to keep? Could they package the pick for an established veteran, pushing more chips into the center of the table in an effort to maximize the LeBron James window? And if so, who do they target?
That possibility seems to be gaining momentum, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, who reports the Lakers are increasingly likely to make a deal. That could be for players like Buddy Hield and/or Myles Turner from Indiana, two guys long entangled in Lakers-related rumors. What about lesser players like Royce O'Neale or Dorian Finney-Smith, two guys from Brooklyn who would likely come at a lighter price? What's worth it? How good does a player need to be to sacrifice a pick, or even two?
It's a delicate balance, because if the Lakers trade back, they could also bolster their chances of landing on players with trade appeal, which could come in
22/06/2023 • 37 minutes 20 seconds
NBA Draft Preview with Mike Garcia: Can the Lakers Find a Rotation Player at #17?
The Lakers are in a unique situation when it comes to Thursday's NBA Draft.
First, they have a first round pick, and seem inclined to actually use it, rather than automatically defaulting to sending the selection away in favor of a more established player. And given the amount of turnover teams face now across the league, sentiment around picking the best player available tends to trump picking for need. Then again, for the Lakers, who are on an accelerated timeline thanks to the arc's of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, they need a guy who can fit in with that core, and ideally could do it quickly. So are there any players who could step into a rotation next season that will be waiting at the back end of the draft?
What exactly goes into that type of selection? What skills translate quickly to fill a niche at the NBA level, when a player isn't going to step into a starring or big scoring role?
We ask those questions and more to NBA Draft expert Mike Garcia (@canyondriver) who specializ
21/06/2023 • 41 minutes 17 seconds
How the Bradley Beal Trade Impacts the Lakers, From Chris Paul to D'Angelo Russell to... Kyle Kuzma???
Over the weekend, the Phoenix Suns acquired All-Star guard Bradley Beal from the Washington Wizards for... well, not a lot.
It's a trade that, at least for now (the deal isn't official) has no direct involvement with the Lakers. That is unlikely to change. But that doesn't mean it won't impact the team in significant ways. For starters, the Suns now have a core of Beal, Devin Booker, DeAndre Ayton and (oh yeah) Kevin Durant. That is a group that will be able to score tons and tons of points. On the other, they don't have any depth, meaningful assets or flexibility, and at least two of these guys (Beal, Durant) have disturbing injury histories.
So did this deal vault the Suns to the top of the Western Conference? There is plenty of skepticism among those who follow the league.
Then there's Chris Paul, who is heading to Washington, at least for now, as part of the deal. That means his contract will be guaranteed for this season at about $30 million. There was talk before he'd be released
20/06/2023 • 37 minutes 43 seconds
Reports: The Lakers Could Trade Down From #17 in the NBA Draft. Smart Idea or Not?
Reports indicate the Lakers might be willing, or even could be seeking, to trade down from the 17th pick in next week's NBA Draft, in order to pick up a few more bites at the Draft apple. That could mean acquiring extra picks this year, or down the road. It might mean drafting more players to try and fill out the back of the roster, and create a pipeline to fill in holes as the Lakers continue through, and then move beyond, the LeBron James/Anthony Davis core.
Of course, there has also been chatter that the Lakers could choose to trade the pick for someone who could theoretically help them faster. Indiana's Buddy Hield is a name that comes up a lot.
How the Lakers choose to handle the Draft is also impacted by the idea that while most teams do struggle to find rotation caliber players at the end of the first round and into the second, the Lakers have a really good track record. So even if it's not for this season, the idea the team wouldn't be able to find good talent doesn't really ma
16/06/2023 • 33 minutes 51 seconds
BONUS EPISODE: 2023 NBA Mock Draft Picks 16-20: Los Angeles Lakers add to LeBron James, Anthony Davis
Assuming the Los Angeles Lakers hold on to LeBron James along with Anthony Davis this offseason, Jett Howard might be joining their roster. GG Jackson and Jalen Hood-Schifino find their NBA homes while the New York Knicks make a big move.
Locked On's NBA Mock Draft Special is here and it's bigger than ever! Led by the dynamic trio of NBA expert Kylen Mills, NBA Draft expert Rafael Barlowe, and College Basketball expert Isaac Schade at the anchor desk; alongside dozens of local Locked On team experts as GMs, you'll get unparalleled insight from the war rooms of each first-round team in an ultimate mock draft experience only Locked On can deliver. Additional analysis provided by NBA Big Board hosts Lief Thulin and Richard Stamen alongside NBA Insider Howard Beck
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15/06/2023 • 1 hour 20 minutes 59 seconds
Should the Lakers be Considered 2024 Contenders? Plus, Kobe Bryant... Memphis Grizzly? Guest: Howard Beck!
The NBA season is now over, which means the Lakers are officially figuring out how to top their recent Western Conference Finals appearance. This means taking stock in what was real, what was lightning in a bottle, and how to make the money work with whatever answers they come up with. LeBron James ain't getting any younger, Anthony Davis is always a risk for injury and the clock is ticking loudly.
What are their best options moving forward? Do they include retaining Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimiura? (Will that be feasible if desired?) How good will the west be next season? Where do the Lakers stack up? These are the pressing questions during a critical offseason for Rob Pelina.
All this, plus a wild story from Jerry West about Kobe Bryant, will be chopped up by longtime NBA scribe Howard Beck.
HOST: Andy Kamenetzky, with guest Howard Beck
SEGMENT 1: Where do the Lakers stack up against the NBA moving forward?
SEGMENT 2: How competitive will the free agent market be for Austin Reave
15/06/2023 • 36 minutes 33 seconds
What Did the NBA Finals Say About How Close the Lakers are to a Title? Plus, Keep or Trade the Pick?
Heading into the NBA Finals, we were curious to see how the results might give a little more context to where the Lakers stand, both relative to the Nuggets, but also to other contenders (from Miami to Phoenix to Memphis and beyond) as everyone heads into the offseason.
Well, after Denver dispatched the Nuggets in five (in pretty convincing fashion) we have an answer: The Lakers definitely have a gap to make up on the champs, but after the Nuggets? Feel free to put LA right in the mix with virtually every other would-be contender. Most have real questions to answer (for the Lakers, they're primarily centered around who they do, and don't, bring back), and it's hard now to forecast who rises to the top by the time training camp rolls around.
But the Lakers are definitely right there.
We answered some viewer/listener mail from the LoL YouTube page, talking about the possibility of Brook Lopez (great idea... no way to make it happen) and also how expectations and popularity of players shi
14/06/2023 • 34 minutes 50 seconds
How Much Money Could Rui Hachimura Cost in Free Agency? Will the Lakers Match? Plus, VanVleet???
One of the big tricks in forecasting free agency is trying to figure out how much value a player has to a large number of teams around the league. Certain players - your stars, or near-stars - generally fit anywhere and will perform as advertised.
Others are clearly more dependent on context. Like Rui Hachimura.
His statistics, particularly in the regular season, weren't much different than the numbers he posted in Washington, his impact with LA, and the niche he filled around LeBron and Anthony Davis, was important. He gave them another large body defensively, a guy who could create his own shot off the dribble in the mid-range, and - at least in the playoffs - step out and hit a 3-pointer.
So while Hachimura may not be a great fit or merit a huge payday with every team, with the Lakers he is a key piece. Particularly when you consider who else the Lakers might find to replace him, should Hachimura land in another city next year. While LA can match any offer he receives, they won't ha
13/06/2023 • 30 minutes 30 seconds
Is a Sign and Trade With Chris Paul and D'Angelo Russell Realistic? Is Any D'Lo S&T Realistic?
There is increasing speculation that the Lakers will look to improve their roster by including D'Angelo Russell in some sort of sign-and-trade deal. Meanwhile, speculation continues to swirl around the Phoenix Suns, and what they might do with Chris Paul.
They might release him, without stretching the $15 mil they still owe him. (Which opens the possibility of him returning on a smaller deal, the Suns using a larger exception, and more.)
They might release him, and stretch him (to open up more flexibility to sign other players).
Or, perhaps, they might try to trade him. Like, maybe as part of a sign-and-trade that includes D'Angelo Russell?
What would that look like? Would it make sense for either team?
The question raises all kinds of questions from the Lakers end. Like, how much do they really value CP3? (They'd owe him $30+ mil, if he's acquired in a trade.) What would it do to the rest of the payroll? How might they be lining up players for the potential end of the LeBron Era? How
12/06/2023 • 36 minutes 40 seconds
Lakers 2023 NBA Draft Preview: Who Should L.A. Target With the 17th Pick?
It's been a minute since the Lakers had, and kept, a first round pick. But at least right now, signs point to the team holding on to the 17th pick in this year's NBA Draft, coming in a couple of weeks.
So with that in mind, it's time to bring in the experts to help Lakers fans get ready.
We spoke with Rafael Barlowe, host of Locked On NBA Big Board, and the NBA Big Board newsletter to get some insight into this year's class, and where the Lakers might find good value.
We started with an overview of the depth of the class. Everyone knows about Wembanyama and Henderson at the top of the lottery, but those guys don't matter much to the Lakers. How much depth is there? Are quality rotation players going to be available at 17? What about the second round, where the Lakers have done really well in their talent evaluation?
From there, Barlowe broke down different names that could be had when it's time for the Lakers to pick. Some that might have been connected earlier in the spring -- Duke's
09/06/2023 • 39 minutes 48 seconds
If the Suns Release Chris Paul, Should the Lakers Try to Sign Him?
Could Chris Paul finally be coming to the Lakers? This time, for real?
Wednesday, multiple reports out of Phoenix said the Suns were looking at releasing Chris Paul, which would make him a free agent. The release could take a few different forms, including one where Paul could return to the Suns for less money than he's scheduled to make next season.
But he could also end up on the free agent market, where he'd instantly be one of the more sought after names.
And of course, one that would instantly be assumed to be coming to the Lakers. After all, he was almost a Laker about a decade ago. He's tight with LeBron. He's ring chasing. And he lives in LA in the offseason. Put it all together, and it makes a lot of sense.
Plus, he'd be a nice fit with LeBron and Anthony Davis, particularly on a team where Austin Reaves would be around to help everyone with ball handling and scoring duties, and the Lakers could still potentially have the ability to keep one or both of D'Angelo Russell and Den
08/06/2023 • 34 minutes 43 seconds
Anthony Davis Is Eligible for an Extension In August. Will the Lakers Offer One to Him?
In August, the Lakers can give Anthony Davis a three-year extension worth $167 million.
The decision of whether to give it to him, or risk him potentially opting out of his deal after next season and walking as a free agent, is a tricky one. On the one hand, the Lakers will be hard pressed to find a player better than him, even while factoring in additional age and mileage. Frustrating as he occasionally is, Davis is still in the NBA's elite tier, and those guys are really, really hard to find. On the other hand, paying Davis over $55 million a year, pushing that past a realistic timeline for LeBron James, would make any GM nervous.
Would it be better for the Lakers to end the Davis Era at the same time the LeBron Era closes?
There's risk everywhere, no question.
So what's the right play, here?
Meanwhile, Austin Reaves has officially made it. The internet has been hopping with Reaves-is-dating-Taylor Swift content this week. Is it true? No, it is not. But even being big enough to be me
07/06/2023 • 35 minutes 10 seconds
Kyrie Irving is Recruiting LeBron James to Join the Mavericks. Would the Lakers Actually Trade Him?
The rumors linking Kyrie Irving to LeBron James are pretty old hat at this point, but Monday provided a new wrinkle. Instead of Irving heading to LA to join James with the Lakers, The Athletic's Shams Charania reported that Irving has called LeBron to try and get him to come to Dallas.
He's got a fan club there, including Irving, Mavs star Luka Doncic, their coach in Jason Kidd, and more.
But while Charania's report got everyone's attention, and fast, the actual mechanics of getting James to Dallas are laughably hard. Maybe he'd accept a buyout, if the Lakers would actually offer him one, which they won't. And even then, it seems unlikely he'd leave the kind of money on the table that he'd have to sacrifice to go from a team that made the Western Conference Finals to one that just missed the playoffs. So what about a trade?
Well, have you looked at the Mavericks' roster lately? Woof.
What if Dallas included as much draft capital as possible, including the 10th pick in this year's Draft
06/06/2023 • 35 minutes 38 seconds
Have The Lakers Already Convinced Other Teams they'll Match Any Offer For Austin Reaves?
Few, if any, players across the NBA made themselves more money this season (and particularly this postseason) than Austin Reaves. Eligible for a 4 year, $52 million deal from the Lakers, Reaves has definitely established market value that goes well beyond that. Around the league, he can receive an offer for the same four years, up to about $100 million. The catch - most of a contract that big wold be backloaded. Reaves can only make about $25 mil over the first two years, meaning a "poison pill" type deal could pay him over $30 mil a season in the final two years.
In theory, that could be enough to scare the Lakers off, and open the door for Reaves to join another team next year. But they've said instead that they'll be matching any offer Reaves gets. Any offer. Some, then, have speculated that opposing teams might be scared off, reluctant to make an offer and tie up free agent money that could go to another player, because they know they won't actually be able to get Reaves away from
05/06/2023 • 36 minutes 59 seconds
Which Young Laker Has the Most Upside? And What Can the Lakers Learn From the NBA Finals?
On the one hand, the Lakers entered the final minute with a real chance to win in three of the four games they lost in the Western Conference Finals to the Denver Nuggets. On the other... they lost all of them. And while you could argue it means the gap between Denver and LA isn't as big as 4-0 might indicate, there's still definitely a gap.
The NBA Finals, which kicked off Thursday, might provide a clue. Both to how the Lakers stack up against the Nuggets, but where they might fit in that next tier of contenders, and how crowded that group might be.
One thing that will help close the gap next year? Internal improvement. Assuming the Lakers bring back the expected group of players, a lot of attention will be given to the relative youth of the supporting cast. Generally, young players are talked about as having "upside." Often, teams have a couple prospects that they hope will become franchise cornerstones, and even elite NBA players. The Lakers don't have that level of prospec
02/06/2023 • 37 minutes 13 seconds
How Much Will Money Impact The Lakers' Roster Moves This Offseason?
In any offseason, the question of payroll and taxes is always a question for the Lakers, who have been known to be far more cost-conscious than teams of their market size and value typically are. It's not that they don't spend a lot on players - they obviously do - but they have limits teams like the Clippers and Warriors might not.
So now that the NBA's new CBA has put punitive penalties for high spending teams, measures that go well beyond just demanding more money and causing real pain when it comes to limitations on roster construction, what will the Lakers do?
On the one hand, the limitations that come with crossing the highest spending thresholds are real. On the other... when you have LeBron James, you kind of need to do everything you can to maximize the roster, right? So what's the best path to do that? There's no clear blueprint at this point, and it will be a looming factor in all the decisions the Lakers make this offseason. Does Rui Hachimura cost $17 million or $19? Does
01/06/2023 • 34 minutes 29 seconds
What's the Best Offseason Plan for Rob Pelinka and the Lakers? Guest: Howard Beck!
It didn't exactly end well, but according to longtime NBA reporter/writer/podcaster Howard Beck (known in these parts as "The Great" Howard Beck), it's hard to call this season anything but a success for the Lakers. Especially, he says, when you consider where things started at the beginning of the year, and where they finished.
Yes, as things improved Lakers fans got greedy - it's what fans do - and the team had a legitimate chance to reach the Finals. But from 2-10 to the Western Conference Finals, with a clear blueprint to keep the team competitive next season and beyond, it's hard to get too riled up.
Of course, this assumes the Lakers stay the course?
We ask Beck what he thinks is the best course of action. Is Kyrie Irving really in play? Would he make sense for the Lakers? What about D'Angelo Russell? Will his market value be in that $25 million per year range he reportedly hoped to get from Minnesota? Or did that bad WCF do the Lakers a favor by significantly driving down his ma
31/05/2023 • 38 minutes 49 seconds
Is a Kyrie Irving/D'Angelo Russell Sign-and-Trade Already Off the Table? Plus, is Rui For Real?
It might have been a holiday across the US this weekend, but that doesn't mean it was a holiday for the NBA's rumor mill.
To wit: Marc Stein, on his Substack, reports that the Dallas Mavericks have zero interest in building a sign-and-trade around D'Angelo Russell that would result in Kyrie Irving finding his way to Los Angeles. Now, the Mavericks certainly have no incentive to make any interest public (would be horrible for their flexibility/negotiating position), but at the same time, the idea they'd want Russell as a potential replacement for Irving at a time where they're trying to make Luka Doncic as happy as possible?
Seems a little far fetched.
So if Russell isn't going to Dallas in an S/T, does that mean he's likely to stay in LA, even after a terrible Western Conference Finals? That depends a lot on how much money he's offered on the open market. It won't be a max- nobody's giving him that- and it probably won't be the $25 mil he wanted from Minnesota. Could it be $20 mil? $15
30/05/2023 • 36 minutes 10 seconds
Is LeBron James Still Better Than 95% of the NBA? (And Is That Good Enough for the Lakers?)
While a lot of the attention (understandably) around LeBron James following the season ending Game 4 loss to the Nuggets earlier this week was centered on the whole "I might retire" thing, James also had other interesting stuff to say. Notably, he told ESPN's Dave McMenamin that should he decide to come back and play next year (which is where most would put their money, even if some aren't taking the possibility of retirement seriously enough), he believes a full summer of rest and rehab of his injured foot would get him back to the player he's been.
"Because I'm still better than 90% of the NBA," he said. "Maybe 95."
So is he right? (Spoiler alert: Yes.)
But the bigger question for the Lakers is whether that's enough. And even more specifically, how do they construct a team that allows him to be that hyper-elite, top 10+ player in the moments of the season that matter most? This is where questions of roster construction become particularly important. No question, depth means some
26/05/2023 • 38 minutes 29 seconds
Should D'Angelo Russell Be On the Lakers Next Season?
It's hard to argue the following:
No Lakers player took more blame for the sweep at the ends of Denver than D'Angelo Russell.
Of all the key players the Lakers need to make decisions about this summer, most fans look at D'Angelo Russell as the player they have the least interest in keeping.
The reasons are pretty simple. Love him or hate him as a player, nobody would argue Russell showed out against the Nuggets. He was bad, and the Lakers suffered for it. Was he bad throughout the playoffs? No, and over 17 regular season games he performed pretty well, too. But when the Lakers needed him most, Russell wasn't anywhere close to good enough.
And he'll cost a good amount of money. Not $30 mil, but not $5, either. So is he worth what could be somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 mil a year?
How fans reacted to hearing him answer questions during exit interviews could shade their opinion. Certainly Russell didn't exactly beg for forgiveness, or even get that deep into his own failures in
25/05/2023 • 35 minutes 3 seconds
Rob Pelinka Preaches Continuity for the Lakers Roster, Patience as LeBron James Considers Retirement
The big news setting the table for this Lakers' offseason came Monday night, after the team lost to the Nuggets in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, and LeBron James indicated he's considering retirement. Like for real. Now maybe it's a leverage play, maybe it's just the fatigue (and the likely need for foot surgery) talking. But maybe he really is mulling it over (a possibility that too many are underselling).
One thing, though, was clear at Tuesday's exit interviews - Rob Pelinka, Darvin Ham and everyone else on the roster were taken by surprise when LeBron said what he said. Nobody had an inkling this was on his mind. And the Lakers, as you'd expect, plan to give him every ounce of time he needs to make a decision. (Whether that means simply deciding he has the juice to keep going, or exerting the influence he wants to exert, or a little of both.)
Pelinka also made it clear that the Lakers, heading into the offseason, are inclined to keep the core of this team together. Obvio
24/05/2023 • 35 minutes 35 seconds
BONUS: LeBron James Indicates He's Considering Retirement After the Lakers get Eliminated
After the Lakers were eliminated Monday in Game 4 against the Nuggets, LeBron James finished his press conference with a somewhat cryptic message. "We'll see. We'll see what happens going forward. I don't know. I don't know. I've got a lot to think about to be honest," James said. "Just for me personally going forward with the game of basketball. I've got a lot to think about."
Obviously that sounds like a guy who is considering retirement, and Monday he certainly played like a guy who might walk away. 48 minutes, 40 points, 15-25 shooting. He left everything on the floor, no question.
In our big show, we tried not to speculate until a little there was a little more reporting. Well...
Both Dave McMenamin and Chris Haynes report that LeBron really does seem to be considering retirement. First, from McMenamin, this exchange:
"LeBron James to ESPN on his thought process going into the offseason:
Q: When you say you got to think about stuff, what thread should we be pulling on that?
23/05/2023 • 22 minutes 36 seconds
Despite 40 points from LeBron James, Lakers Lose Game 4, Get Swept by Nuggets
There was actually a decent amount to like in Monday's 113-111 loss in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals at the Crypt against the Nuggets. The Lakers, led by LeBron James (40 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists, 48 minutes), played through the tape. They did not quit, even while understanding that a win on Monday likely wouldn't have a happy ending overall.
Unfortunately, there were too many things not to like. Anthony Davis did not provide nearly enough as LeBron was leaving everything he had on the floor. The Lakers, once again, couldn't shoot the ball well enough. Rui Hachimura (3-12) picked a bad night to be inefficient. Too many ill-timed fouls, not enough timely buckets.
And that third quarter. Oooof. 36-16 Denver, erasing a 15-point halftime lead, and giving the Nuggets more than enough incentive to try and finish things off without having to play Game 5.
Ultimately, though, whether it was Monday night in Game 4 or sometime in the (likely) near future, the Lakers were destin
23/05/2023 • 36 minutes 41 seconds
Is Darvin Ham to Blame for the Lakers Being Down 0-3 vs. Denver? Should he Bench D'Angelo Russell?
It took a few minutes, but Darvin Ham had finally seemed to build up a little bit of goodwill with Lakers fans through the first two rounds of the playoffs. Well, a big chunk of that has been eaten away by the results of the first three games of the team's Western Conference Finals series against Denver. Facing an 0-3 hole and the chances of getting swept tonight at the Crypt in Game 4, scrutiny has again returned in a big way.
Is Darvin making the right moves?
Is he pushing the right buttons?
Is he pulling the right levers?
The answers to questions like these really depend on your view of the roster as a whole, and how the Lakers match up against a very, very good Denver team.
At the core of these discussions is D'Angelo Russell, who has been horrible through the first three games of this series. Most fans want him benched, if not yanked from the rotation. Ham shortened his minutes considerably in Game 3, but Russell still got 20 minutes of burn. Is that too much? Is it malpractice? O
22/05/2023 • 39 minutes 23 seconds
Lakers Lose Game 3 119-108 to Denver, Now on the Brink of Elimination
The Lakers had to win Game 3 at Crypto.com to keep any reasonable hopes for the season alive. The Nuggets clearly had no interest in giving the Lakers any hope.
Jamal Murray picked up right where he left off after Thursday's absurd fourth quarter pushed the Nuggets to victory in Game 2, lighting the Lakers up in the first quarter Saturday to give Denver a big early lead. The Lakers did what they could to fight back, but were playing uphill for the entire game, and simply didn't have the juice to pull it out. Denver was simply too good down the stretch.
Murray finished with 37, Nikola Jokic 24, despite fighting foul trouble all game. Meanwhile, the Lakers got 28 from Anthony Davis and 23 each from LeBron James and Austin Reaves, but it wasn't enough. Not nearly so, on a night where D'Angelo Russell, Dennis Schröder and Jarred Vanderbilt combined for 10 points, and the team was once again under 33% from 3-point range.
Down 0-3, it would seem the season is functionally over. There's still
21/05/2023 • 20 minutes 37 seconds
Anthony Davis Disappoints, LeBron's Shot Disappears as Lakers Lose Game 2 to Nuggets, 108-103
As it was in Game 1, the Lakers gave themselves a great chance to win Game 2 in Denver and tilt the series in their favor heading back to LA for Saturday's Game 3. And as it was in Game 1, the Lakers fell short, this time losing 108-103. But while the results were the same, how they got there was very different. The Lakers built and early lead, but couldn't maintain it. Anthony Davis, who was great in Game 1, was definitely not in Game 2. 4-15 from the floor, and while he did block four shots and get to the line 11 times, overall wasn't even close to the performance the Lakers needed from him.
LeBron James, meanwhile, did a lot of things well. It was one of the best defensive games James has played in LA, but offensively, he missed all six of his 3-pointers, bobbled away an easy dunk trying to get fancy with it, and then smoked two layups, including one at the end (after a tremendous steal) that would have cut the deficit to two with about 26 seconds left. That was LA's last, best chan
19/05/2023 • 37 minutes 35 seconds
Will Rui Hachimura Start Game 2? D'Angelo Russell to the Bench? Adjustments for the Lakers.
The Lakers played essentially two different games on Wednesday in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals - a small lineup game that put them in a big hole, and a large lineup game that helped them climb out. And while it wasn't enough to actually win, many wonder if the Lakers found a formula they can use in tonight's Game 2 in Denver. Will Rui Hachimura spend a lot of time guarding Nuggets star Nikola Jokic, helping Anthony Davis roam the paint more actively as a help defender?
It worked on Wednesday, but will the Nuggets counter more effectively if/when the Lakers go back to it? And how will the Lakers counter the counter?
And really, when it's all said and done, how much mental and emotional energy should the Lakers spend trying to "stop" Jokic? What does that even mean, really? Instead, could they look to try and put a lid on the rest of the squad, as much as possible?
And assuming Hachimura enters the starting lineup (or, in theory, Jarred Vanderbilt returns to it), who sits? Wou
18/05/2023 • 39 minutes 43 seconds
Lakers Lose 132-126 to Nuggets in Game 1, But Provide Reasons for Confidence Going Forward
The Lakers were thoroughly outplayed early in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against the Nuggets in Denver, falling behind by 12 after the first quarter, and 18 at the half. It was a matter of execution—the Nuggets were razor sharp, and playing with tremendous energy—and it was a matter of lineups—the Lakers went small with three guards, and had trouble matching up with a large Denver squad—and all told, it looked like a game that the Nuggets would run away with.
Not so fast!
The Lakers made some changes in the second half, and suddenly a game that looked like a blowout was one the Lakers could tie with under a minute remaining.
All the game's stars were sharp. Nikola Jokic was insane (31/24/14), and Anthony Davis went for 40. LeBron James posted a very efficient 26/12/9, marred only by a poorly conceived 3-point attempt as the Lakers went for that aforementioned tie. Austin Reaves? Looked good! Jamal Murray? 31! Everyone on the marquee did his part, but importantly, the Laker
17/05/2023 • 38 minutes 21 seconds
Can Anthony Davis Outplay Nikola Jokic? A Lakers/Nuggets Western Conference Finals Preview
The Denver Nuggets have been the best team in the Western Conference all season long. The Lakers were a dumpster fire-turned-contender at the deadline and have been among the NBA's best since reshaping their roster. Both teams have made it through the first two rounds in (by NBA standards) relatively easy fashion.
So in this rematch of the 2020 Bubble Western Conference Finals, who has the advantage as the series opens tonight in Denver?
The Nuggets are more rested, enjoying the benefits of having wrapped up the conference pretty early. The Lakers are tested, having essentially played playoff games for the last two months. That has allowed them, perhaps to improve faster than a team assembled on the fly normally would, but also leaves them open to fatigue, especially given the guys leading them.
And what does LeBron James have left for this series? How much will a series guarding Nikola Jokic wear down Anthony Davis? Can the Lakers find ways to move Davis off the two-time MVP? Can the
16/05/2023 • 45 minutes 25 seconds
Do the Lakers Have Even More Upside? Can They Keep Getting Better vs. the Nuggets?
All things considered, we really haven't had a lot of time to learn about these Lakers. Yes, some of the team has been there all year, but the crew we've seen in the playoffs is a creation of the trade deadline, and even then the number of games played with the core together has been limited by injuries to LeBron James, Anthony Davis and D'Angelo Russell.
So while we likely won't see a true top end for this team that would come with a training camp and a season of seasoning, there is definitely room still for improvement. The Lakers have already beaten the second-seeded Memphis Grizzlies and defending champion Warriors, both as the road team and both in (by NBA playoff standards) relatively easy fashion.
Add in the fact that James and Davis are now 6-0 in playoff series as teammates when both have been healthy and available throughout, and there is plenty of reason to believe the Lakers can, and even will, beat the Denver Nuggets in the Conference Finals, even while acknowledging that
15/05/2023 • 33 minutes 39 seconds
Lakers Blow Out Warriors 122-101 to Win Game 6, Will Face Nuggets in the Conference Finals
The Lakers took a lot of the drama out of Friday's closeout game at the Crypt against Golden State, getting out on a big run in the first quarter and never letting the lead get away. A 10 point lead at the half was stretched out in the third, and the Warriors never really threatened after.
Final score, 122-101. Lakers win the series 4-2, and will advance to face the Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals starting Tuesday in Denver.
This was a great game for the Lakers. LeBron James got off to a great start, and played his best game of the series (30 points on 10-14 from the floor). Anthony Davis was a monster defensively and on the boards (20 rebounds). Austin Reaves had 23 points, including 4-5 from downtown. 13 from Lonnie Walker IV, 19 from D'Angelo Russell.
Just a total, complete team effort, putting a cap on a series the Lakers won, by NBA playoff standards, relatively easily. Can they keep it up in the next round against the top seeded Nuggets?
Yes, though the level of play req
13/05/2023 • 20 minutes 53 seconds
Anthony Davis Expected to Play in Game 6... and Has a Chance to Shut Up the Media.
When Anthony Davis left the floor, and then the arena, following that big fourth quarter forearm to the head from Golden State center Kevon Looney, it was reasonable to think that he might not play in Game 6 Friday night. Or even Game 7, if the series went back to San Francisco on Sunday. It was incredibly deflating in the moment, for the Lakers as a team, and definitely for Lakers fans.
Good news! He's gonna play. Davis didn't even have to enter the league's concussion protocol. So whatever that blow did to him, it apparently wasn't enough to give him a concussion. Good for Davis, good for the Lakers.
Of course, in the interim, Davis absorbed an enormous amount of mockery from high profile members of the basketball media, who all but called him soft. They laughed and mocked in ways they likely wouldn't have for just about any other player in the league. And they did it following a shot to the head. It was all pretty repulsive, and reflective of attitudes about injury and toughness tha
12/05/2023 • 37 minutes 12 seconds
The Lakers Lose Game 5, 121-106, as Anthony Davis Leaves With a Head Injury
There was always a good chance the Lakers could lose Game 5. Golden State wasn't just facing elimination, down 3-1 in the series, but perhaps the end of their championship era, with talk of summer time changes in the air should they be eliminated. The Lakers could always lean in on Game 6 Friday at Crypto.com. So the final score (121-106) isn't necessarily a big deal.
How they lost? Oh yeah, that's a problem. Anthony Davis absorbed a careless forearm from Warriors center Kevon Looney about halfway through the final quarter. Davis, clearly shaken, went straight to the bench, and then was taken to the tunnel where he was wheeled out. Hopefully as a precaution, but it's not good.
Davis could be facing entry into the league's concussion protocol, which (even if Davis wakes up tomorrow and feels like a new man) could put his availability for Friday in question. An by the looks of it immediately following the injury, a quick recovery is hardly guaranteed. (Though Darvin Ham said postgame tha
11/05/2023 • 32 minutes 11 seconds
How Vulnerable Is Golden State in Game 5? Should the Lakers Conserve Energy, Prioritize Game 6?
The Lakers have a 3-1 lead over Golden State in this Western Conference Semi-Final. They won the regular season series 3-1. So at this point, it's fair to say they understand how to play against the Warriors, and are a really bad matchup for them in the same way the Clippers are a bad matchup for the Lakers.
That said, the Warriors will be playing for their season tonight in San Francisco, and depending on who you listen to, potentially even the opportunity to extend this group's window into next year. Golden State has a lot of decisions to make, after all. And they'll be playing in front of their home fans, in a building where they played extremely well all year long, despite major injury problems.
So how hard should the Lakers push to try and win on Wednesday, especially if it means they could compromise the amount of energy guys like LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Austin Reaves (showing real signs of fatigue) would have for Game 6?
A few folks have floated the idea of promoting res
10/05/2023 • 37 minutes 5 seconds
Lonnie Walker IV Has Huge Fourth Quarter, Lakers Win 104-101, Take 3-1 Lead On Warriors
The Lakers went into Tuesday's game with a chance to take a real stranglehold on their series against the Warriors, but they knew it wouldn't be easy. And it wasn't! But the Lakers found a way to win a game they may not have deserved to (not that the Warriors covered themselves in glory, either), 104-101 to take a 3-1 lead.
Anthony Davis was huge in the first half, LeBron James was big in the second. But the hero of the game? Lonnie Walker IV, who had 15 points in the game, ALL of them coming in the fourth quarter. He was a huge factor in the Lakers taking the game. If not the factor. Walker, combined with very timely defensive execution and buckets-when-they-had to happen, was enough to get it done.
So can the Lakers close things out on Wednesday? What will it take to go to San Francisco and win again?
These Warriors don't feel quite as threatening as the team that won last year, or has been generally dynastic. Dangerous? Sure. But not the same. Meanwhile, the Lakers continue to pile
09/05/2023 • 39 minutes 19 seconds
Did Darvin Ham Outcoach Steve Kerr in Game 3? Plus, Lakers-Warriors Game 4 Preview!
The Lakers had success in Game 1 by playing certain matchups that seemed to catch the Warriors off guard - starting Jarred Vanderbilt on Steph Curry, for example. And in Game 3, the Lakers came back with a host of changes. Vanderbilt was switched off of Curry and onto Draymond Green, letting Anthony Davis check (and essentially ignore) JaMychal Green and have more freedom to roam defensively. And, of course, Lonnie Walker IV got the minutes that had been going to Troy Brown Jr., a significant change in the rotation that paid real dividends.
So with the Lakers up 2-1 going into tonight's Game 4, how much credit does Ham get for LA's good showing thus far? It's been a fairly controversial season for the first year head coach, and he's certainly under the microscope.
Should people expect more changes for Game 4? Is there anything Ham can do to preempt any changes Steve Kerr might throw at him? Or is it a matter of having a plan ready based on what might be coming? Certainly the Lakers won
08/05/2023 • 38 minutes 39 seconds
The Lakers, Anthony Davis Crush Warriors in Game 3, 127-97, Take 2-1 Series Lead
The Lakers looked awful in Game 2 upstate, and needed to bounce back in a big way Saturday night in Game 3. And bounce back they did.
Anthony Davis returned to his big game ways, with 25 points, 13 rebounds, three steals and four blocks. LeBron James, who didn't take a shot in the first quarter and didn't play in the fourth, still finished with 21 points on 6-11 from the floor, and 7-8 from the line. D'Angelo Russell carried the Lakers offensively in the first half, and finished with 21 points. Lonnie Walker IV, getting the Troy Brown minutes, gave the Lakers 12 points in 24 minutes.
Overall, the Lakers got back to the line, limited turnovers, and actually made 3-pointers (48.4%). And when that happens, it's really hard to beat them. Especially when the defense is cranked up to the level it was on Saturday. Yes, the Warriors missed some shots they might often make (or did at least on Thursday), but the Lakers were very active, and found a level of aggression coming higher out on the fl
07/05/2023 • 20 minutes 50 seconds
Warriors Blow Out Lakers in Game 2, 127-100. Anthony Davis Struggles. Game 3 Bounce back Coming?
They say the onus is on the team that loses Game 1 in a series to come back and make adjustments for Game 2. Well, that's what the Warriors did Thursday, playing much smaller and putting the ball in Steph Curry's hands, and the results were strong. 127-100, Golden State takes Game 2 in dominant fashion.
The Lakers got off to a decent start, but as the game went along, Golden State's offense started to impose its will. Curry orchestrating, Klay Thompson (8-11 from downtown) hitting basically every shot he took, and the rest of the cast doing its part. The Lakers, meanwhile, got a pretty good game from LeBron James (23 points, 10-18, but no trips to the line), and a nice offensive show from Rui Hachimura, but after that? Austin Reaves looked dead tired, the team kept missing 3's, nobody got to the line, and oh...
...Anthony Davis had a really bleh game. A non-factor offensively, and his least impactful this postseason on the other side of the ball. Draymond Green did a number on him, and
05/05/2023 • 36 minutes 34 seconds
Can the Lakers Take a 2-0 Lead vs. Warriors? Players Like Schröder and Russell Will Need Big Games
In the first round, the Lakers went up 1-0 against Memphis, and had a golden opportunity to win Game 2 with star Grizzlies guard Ja Morant on the sidelines. Instead, they played a horrible, indifferent game and blew a great opportunity.
There are many, many reasons to believe LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the rest of the Lakers won't make the same mistake again in San Francisco. For starters, there are an AWFUL lot of people watching this series, and vanity can be a powerful motivating tool. But more than that, this series is just a little too special for either team to show that level of indifference.
Expect the Lakers to play hard. But can they play this well again? Can they keep the free throw disparity large? Can the Lakers finally have a good shooting game?
The Warriors are asking themselves similar Q's, and will undoubtedly come out as if their season depends on a win, because from a practical standpoint it probably does. The Lakers, on the other hand, can get greedy.
One guy w
04/05/2023 • 38 minutes 40 seconds
Anthony Davis (30 Points, 23 Rebounds) Dominates as the Lakers Beat Warriors 117-112, Lead 1-0
With extended rest following their Game 6 win over Memphis on Friday and the Warriors coming off a Game 7 on Sunday, the Lakers clearly viewed Game 1 as one they had a chance to steal. Still, they'd need rock solid play up and down the roster, and that's what they got on Tuesday, beating Golden State 117-112 in San Francisco to take a 1-0 lead in the series.
Things started and finished with Anthony Davis, who was a force on both sides of the ball, finishing with 30 points, 23 rebounds, five blocks and five steals. He was active early offensively, and over the course of 44 minutes (!!!) was inside the head of basically every Warriors player who ventured into the paint.
It was a superstar performance from the guy who needs to be the best player for the Lakers to advance.
He wasn't alone. D'Angelo Russell had 19 points and six assists, and more than a few of each came at very, very opportune moments. Dennis Schroder was productive off the bench, and was one of the guys who hassled Steph C
03/05/2023 • 36 minutes 30 seconds
Who Guards Steph Curry? Can Kevon Looney Contain Anthony Davis? Lakers/Warriors Mega-Preview!
It's an epic second round series, so we have an epic show ahead of Tuesday's Game 1, in a crossover episode with Cyrus Saatsaz and Kylen Mills, hosts of Locked On Warriors.
It starts with a series of questions about the Warriors...
The season has been all over the place - is there a moment in time Lakers fans should look at, or a certain configuration of available players, or a similar sign to understand what kind of team the Warriors are now? (Because with the Lakers, for example, nothing that happened before the trade deadline matters even a little.) What about Kevon Looney and Draymond Green? Can they neutralize Anthony Davis, in particular? Why do fans seem so upset with head coach Steve Kerr?
Then it's questions about the Lakers...
Who guards Steph? Should Looney scare people who are pulling for the Lakers to win? What role player has the best chance to be impactful given the matchups and the context? (Hint: It rhymes with Fluey Glotchimura.)
Overall, this has the potential to be
02/05/2023 • 49 minutes 3 seconds
Lakers to Play Warriors in Second Round. Savor "LeBron James vs. Steph Curry" While You Can.
The Lakers have a second round opponent, and it's the Golden State Warriors, who beat the Sacramento Kings in Game 7 Sunday in Sacramento to win that series 4-3.
To say this is as high-end a second round series the NBA could muster in this or any other year is not an overstatement. Maybe some series could be its equal, but better? Hard to picture. But that's what fans get for the next couple of weeks. Steph, Klay, Dray and the Warriors vs. LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Crown jewel franchises, and two of the league's brightest stars.
Is it the easier series for the Lakers? Probably not. But from a hoops fan standpoint? The chance to see LeBron and Steph in one more series while both are still elite level players - Curry dropped 50 in Game 7 - is hard to resist.
And make no mistake, LeBron is highly motivated to prove those who think he's too old at this point wrong. He laid a social media smackdown on Dillon Brooks following the end of that series, for example. But it's an interesting
01/05/2023 • 36 minutes 36 seconds
The Lakers Destroy Grizzlies 125-85 in Game 6, Advance to Second Round of the Playoffs
The playoffs are a nervous time for fans, and certainly tension was higher for after the Lakers were badly beaten on Wednesday in Memphis in Game 5. It put a ton of pressure on Friday's Game 6, because nobody connected to the Lakers, fan or player, wanted to go back to Memphis for Game 7.
Well, they won't have to.
The Lakers absolutely destroyed the Grizzlies in front of the home crowd, winning 125-85 behind huge games from D'Angelo Russell (12-17 shooting, 5-9 from 3, 31 points) and LeBron James (22 points on 13 shots). But the most dominant player on the floor for LA was Anthony Davis. He was strong offensively, with 16 points (6-9 shooting). He owned the glass (14 rebounds). He ruled the paint (five blocks, and a seemingly infinite number of altered shots). He was the catalyst of the strongest defensive performance the Lakers have turned in this season. (All of the starters got to sit through the fourth, as well.)
Memphis needed half of the third quarter just to reach 50 points. A s
29/04/2023 • 18 minutes 18 seconds
Can the Lakers Close Out Memphis in Game 6? Will Darvin Ham Adjust His Bench Rotation?
The Lakers hit a wall on Wednesday, missing shots and falling short against a highly motivated Memphis Grizzlies squad in Game 5. LeBron James looked tired, but vowed to be better in Game 6. And surely the Crypto.com Arena crowd will be jacked up for the first closeout game the fans have seen in a very, very long time. One key will be keeping that energy flowing throughout, and not allowing the Grizzlies the ability to put fear into nearly 20,000 folks.
It'll help for the Lakers to hit some shots, because these sub-30% 3-point nights aren't gonna get it done. It'll help to force some turnovers, and create easy buckets.
It'll help for LeBron to do good stuff early, after a really bad night on Wednesday.
And would it also help if Darvin Ham tweaked the rotation? There have been many, many calls for Ham to quit running with the small lineups while Anthony Davis is off the floor, where LeBron or Rui Hachimura is playing center, and the Lakers are undersized. Those small bench lineups were
28/04/2023 • 39 minutes 51 seconds
Lakers Lose Game 5 to Grizzlies as LeBron James Battles Fatigue, Desmond Bane, Ja Morant Explode
The Lakers used up a lot of energy to scrape out an overtime win Monday in Game 4 against the Grizzlies. It was worth it, as the purple and gold went up 3-1, and radically changed the stakes for Wednesday's Game 5. Good thing, too, because the Grizzlies were the better team from the jump, with much more spring in their step and while Memphis didn't exactly shoot the lights out, they were significantly better from 3-point range than L.A., and it was enough to fuel the win.
One big thing in the favor of the Grizz? LeBron James was clearly tired. Like, dog tired. 5-17 from the floor tired. 1-9 from 3-point range tired.
How he bounces back will be a key theme for Game 6, Friday at the Crypt.
The Lakers will also need to hit an outside shot. For the third game in a row, they were under 30% from downtown. That can't continue. Memphis wasn't hot, but did get 30+ each from Desmond Bane and Ja Morant. That was too much for the Lakers to overcome.
Thought don't blame Anthony Davis. He was everyt
27/04/2023 • 36 minutes 48 seconds
Will the Lakers Win Game 5? Could the Grizzlies Implode if the Lakers Start Strong?
The Lakers have a chance to put the Grizzlies away tonight in Game 5 of their first round series. It won't be easy, though. The Lakers were clearly tired at the end of Game 4 -- or at least LeBron James was tired, and meanwhile Anthony Davis (probable for Game 5) was banged up after falling hard on his bum hip in the first half. Memphis, the younger squad by a fair margin, should be able to bounce back faster. And with their season on the brink, you'd expect them to come out with some serious energy.
On the other hand, the Grizzlies are showing signs that an implosion could be coming fast, and with a quick start the Lakers could simultaneously quiet the Memphis crowed and get the Grizzlies to fold their collective tent.
The Lakers get three cracks to close out the series, and while nothing is guaranteed, there isn't a ton of pressure to make it happen tonight. Which could serve them well.
Anthony Davis has had an inconsistent series offensively. Is that fatigue? Something specific to t
26/04/2023 • 36 minutes 30 seconds
Lakers Beat Grizzlies in OT, Take a 3-1 Lead as LeBron James Notches 22 points, 20 Rebounds
This was, in virtually every way, an extremely ugly basketball game. But it was also incredibly exciting, and in the end, it was one in which the greatness of LeBron James, clearly exhausted playing heavy minutes in his 20th season, came through. 117-111, Lakers to win Game 4 and take a 3-1 series lead. James struggled most of the night to get space to score, but managed to get into the paint on the team's final possession in regulation to tie the score and send the game to overtime. In the OT, he drove on Dillon Brooks to draw a critical and-one that essentially sealed the game.
22/20/7 with a pair of blocks.
It was a memorable stat line on a night where James, like everyone else on both teams, struggled on offense. Anthony Davis was 3-14 from the floor (though he did have a huge tip in OT). Rui Hachimura was 2-9. D'Angelo Russell wasn't great until he was, hitting three straight triples in the fourth quarter to bring the Lakers back to life.
It was a gritty win against a younger Memp
25/04/2023 • 34 minutes 31 seconds
The Lakers are Up 2-1 Against the Grizzlies, But Should Darvin Ham Tweak the Rotation, Anyway?
The Lakers go into Monday's game at the Crypt with a 2-1 lead in their first round series against the Memphis Grizzlies. A win doesn't guarantee a trip to the second round, but it sure puts a hammer lock on things for L.A.. Dillon Brooks will not be suspended for tonight's game, after being chucked from Saturday's game for hitting LeBron James in the King's jewels.
So is that good or bad for the Lakers? Given how poorly he's played in the series, are the Lakers better off with him in the lineup?
What about adjustments? Ja Morant went for 45 in Game 3. Should the Lakers change the way they defend him?
Broadly, are there bigger adjustments the Lakers need to make, whether defensively or on the other end? The Lakers have, to this point, limited Memphis to the lowest field goal percentage of any team in the postseason. So maybe it's a matter of keep on doing what's working? On the other end, the offense isn't exactly clicking. Is that a matter of missing shots that are available? Or ought
24/04/2023 • 39 minutes 21 seconds
LeBron, Anthony Davis Lead Lakers to 111-101 Game 3 Win over Grizzlies. Dillon Brooks Ejected.
Saturday was the first playoff game for the Lakers in their home building in front of a sold-out crowd in a decade. And man alive, did those fans get plenty to cheer about. The Lakers finished the first quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies ahead 35-9, and were really never threatened after that, going on to win Game 3 111-101, taking a 2-1 series lead. Anthony Davis had 31 on the offensive side, but was even more impactful on the defensive end. 17 rebounds, three blocks, two steals, countless shots altered.
LeBron James decisively won his battle against Dillon Brooks, scoring 25 points on 10-20 shooting, while Brooks was 3-13 before getting ejected for punching King James in his Crown Jewels.
Did the Lakers get a little loose at times during the game? Sure. They spent three quarters in that weird place where teams with big leads struggle to find the balance between hitting knockout blows and playing conservatively enough to bleed clock and avoid rally-inducing mistakes. But they never
23/04/2023 • 19 minutes 8 seconds
Dillon Brooks Pokes the Bear. Will LeBron James Take the Bait? Plus, Game 3 Adjustments.
Memphis swingman Dillon Brooks has a well-earned reputation as a Grade A pest/agitator on the floor, and after the Grizzlies won Game 2, he took some shots at LeBron James. He called the NBA's all-time leading scorer "old." He said he doesn't respect anyone until they drop 40 points on him. He said he's poking the bear, and he knows it.
So what does any of this mean for Game 3? Is it performance art from Brooks, meant to get himself in the mindspace he thinks he needs to be in? Brand building? Both? Or does he really think he's going to get inside LeBron's head?
And if he does, is there any chance it works? Because, to be fair, Brooks is super annoying. Would you expect LeBron to play any differently than he normally would? And might normally mean going off for a big number because Game 3 is so critical?
Meanwhile, what ought the Lakers look to fix in Game 3, beyond coming out with more intensity and effort? Because that was obviously lacking in Memphis on Wednesday. Start with turnove
21/04/2023 • 39 minutes 42 seconds
Flat Lakers Lose Game 2 vs. Grizzlies 103-93. Anthony Davis, D'Angelo Russell Struggle
The Grizzlies took the floor Wednesday in Memphis for Game 2 of the first round series against the Lakers without star guard Ja Morant. They've played well without him, but given how shorthanded the Grizzlies already are without Steven Adams and Brandon Clarke, it provided Los Angeles with a primo opportunity to steal a second game in Memphis and return to LA for Game 3 with a 2-0 series lead.
Man, did the Lakers squander that chance.
Save a couple players (if this was some kind of hoops version of Top Chef, only LeBron James and Rui Hachimura would be safe from elimination), nobody on the Lakers played anything approaching a genuinely good game. A few were average, a few too many were bad. Particularly D'Angelo Russell (2-11) and Anthony Davis, who while providing some real presence defensively for much of the game was a total no-show on the other end. 4-14 shooting, with a couple of turnovers.
That's just not good enough. But more than any single individual performance, it's the ener
20/04/2023 • 38 minutes 9 seconds
Can the Lakers Take Control of the Series With a Game 2 Win in Memphis? Guest: Howard Beck!!!
The Lakers stole Game 1 in Memphis, beating a Grizzlies team that lost six times at home all year. They go into tonight's Game 2 not only with confidence, but also the knowledge that Memphis star Ja Morant might not play, or could be limited at the least, thanks to a hand injury. If the Lakers can take Game 2, they put a stranglehold on the series as it moves back to LA for Game 3 this weekend.
So can they do it? Do Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura have another great game in them? Is it going to be a LeBron James-driven event? Can Anthony Davis repeat his defensive performance of Game 1, and lead the team on the other end, as well?
These are just some of the questions we dive into with the great Howard Beck, who is joining the network through the playoffs to provide analysis, and has been a longtime friend of our show.
We get into surprises from Game 1, what is sustainable and not, and how all of this has changed the perception around the league of Austin Reaves. Fair to say, he's gone
19/04/2023 • 42 minutes 30 seconds
How Would Memphis Losing Ja Morant Impact Game 2 for the Lakers?
The big news on Monday? ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reports that there are serious doubts around Memphis guard Ja Morant's availability for Game 2 on Wednesday night. While the Grizzlies have played well in the past without Morant, losing their star would obviously be a massive blow to a team already down 1-0 in the series. The Lakers ran away with Game 1 after Morant sat in the fourth.
So what would change in the Memphis attack if Morant can't go? Would it mean more Jaren Jackson Jr. in the post, a place where he feasted against every defender the Lakers tried who wasn't named Anthony Davis. How might the Lakers respond?
Would it make sense for Darvin Ham to go bigger, as a couple listeners/viewers have suggested? Maybe some Mo Bamba, or even Tristan Thompson? (Spoiler alert... no.)
And why didn't Davis get even a single vote anywhere in the Defensive Player of the Year Award voting? He actually played more minutes than Jackson Jr. (your runaway winner), even while playing in fewer game
18/04/2023 • 39 minutes 42 seconds
Lakers win Game 1 vs. Grizzlies, Anthony Davis Overcomes Injury, Reaves, Rui, D'Lo Play Big
The Lakers played a really good game on Sunday in Game 1 of the Western Conference playoffs in Memphis, against a Grizzlies squad that lost six games all year in the regular season. But the game wasn't in the bag until a killer fourth quarter that the Lakers dominated, particularly down the stretch. (Lakers fans know closing hasn't necessarily been the team's strength...)
Leading the charge? Not LeBron James and Anthony Davis (both of whom played well, overall.)
Instead, it was Austin Reaves on the ball, running point. Rui Hachimura hitting shot after shot. D'Angelo Russell making big plays. They pushed the Lakers through to the win, taking advantage of an hand injury to Memphis star Ja Morant that has the potential to keep him out of Game 2.
It's a massive win for the Lakers, who gain an unexpected advantage out of the gate. It was also a big night for Davis, who was dominant early on both ends, but then suffered a shoulder injury right before the half. He clearly was in pain, and was
17/04/2023 • 37 minutes 58 seconds
Bonus Mini-Pod! Lakers Win Game 1 over Grizzlies with Strong Fourth From Reaves, Hachimura, Russell
The Lakers stars played well, LeBron James and Anthony Davis both.
But in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 128-112 win over the Grizzlies in Memphis, giving the Lakers a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven first round series, it was the supporting cast that brought them home. Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura and D'Angelo Russell all were big, earning critical buckets from inside and out as the Lakers pulled away late. An injury to Ja Morant's hand left the door open for the purple and gold, and they didn't just walk through, they blew the entire wall out. Had to happen, too, because if the Lakers don't they blow a huge opportunity.
(Morant, by the way, seemed to make himself questionable for Game 2.)
It was a resounding win for a team that five days ago looked really tired. The rest, clearly, helped a lot. And it was a validation of the depth added by the front office at the deadline.
Huge game, huge win. Lakers are in the driver's seat early.
HOSTS: Andy and Brian Kamenetzky
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16/04/2023 • 14 minutes 44 seconds
Lakers vs. Grizzlies: Is it Prove It! Time (Again) for Anthony Davis? Plus, Series Predictions!
There are four stars on display in the first round series beginning Sunday between the Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies. You've got LeBron James and Anthony Davis on one side, Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. on the other. And while the LA pair have a far deeper pedigree in the postseason, Memphis's duo is ascending. And the Grizzlies as a team are a popular pick to break through.
So who is going to get the best of the series? There are plenty of matchups and trends to watch, including:
Dillon Brooks vs. LeBron James. Is that the matchup for the whole series? Can Brooks limit James over multiple games? Many have tried.
Who wins the rebounding battle? Memphis has been vulnerable on their own glass, and the Lakers have done well crashing the offensive boards.
Who limits transition opportunities? For the Lakers to win, they need to keep Memphis operating in the half court. That means hitting shots from the perimeter, and also making Memphis have to respect their ability to generate second c
14/04/2023 • 37 minutes 22 seconds
Previewing Lakers vs. Grizzlies. Ja Morant or LeBron James? Jaren Jackson Jr. or Anthony Davis?
The Lakers are in a real, live playoff series for the first time in a couple of seasons, and it should be a barnburner! It's the Memphis Grizzlies, who have played quite well all season, save a mid-season lull. It's an intriguing matchup, to say the least. LeBron James and Anthony Davis as established stars, meeting Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr., who are ready to emerge in the next generation of the NBA elite.
But what else is going on, here?
How are the Grizzlies going to match up against LeBron and A.D.? Is Dillon Brooks the key to the series? What about the Lakers role players? How much will L.A.'s perimeter shooting impact what we're going to see. Can Austin Reaves, Malik Beasley and the rest hit enough shots to force Memphis to play things straight defensively?
The ability of either team to do damage in transition could be a huge factor, as neither team is exactly elegant in the half court. Both teams thrive on the move, so forcing turnovers will be a big factor, and from the La
13/04/2023 • 47 minutes 54 seconds
BONUS Playoff Preview: Memphis Grizzlies, Everything You Need to Know
Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr, and the Memphis Grizzlies take on the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1st Round of the NBA Playoffs. How will they overcome their injuries?
Joe Mullinax (Locked On Grizzlies) joins Nick Angstadt @LockedOnNBA to discuss the state of the Memphis Grizzlies going into the NBA Playoffs. What’s the biggest on-court story this season? What will the Playoff Rotation look like and who’s on the bubble? What are their biggest strengths and weaknesses (how have they won and lost games this year)? What are fans/team/host expectations this postseason?
Locked On NBA League-Wide: Every Team, Fantasy, Draft, WNBA & More
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12/04/2023 • 16 minutes 14 seconds
Lakers Get Ugly 108-102 Overtime play-In Win vs. Timberwolves, Will face Grizzlies in Playoffs
The Lakers were not good on Tuesday, all things considered. They were too loose with the ball, they missed too many wide open shots, they made some horrible, poorly-timed choices. And yet in the end, they still managed to beat a shorthanded Minnesota Timberwolves squad, 108-102 in overtime. With the win, they advance to the main draw of the Western Conference playoffs, and will face the Memphis Grizzlies with Game 1 on Sunday.
The best thing about the game was the victory, and the four days of rest it'll bring the Lakers before Game 1 in Memphis.
Anthony Davis had his moments offensively (24 points) and LeBron James led the Lakers in scoring (30), but as has been the trend aggressive defense made it hard for Davis to maneuver, and while James scored a lot, he was very loose with the ball, made some uncharacteristically poor decisions and was not all that good defensively. (He finished as a -14 in a game the Lakers won by six.)
Dennis Schroder, however, was a monster in the second half,
12/04/2023 • 39 minutes 25 seconds
Timberwolves-Lakers Play-in Preview With Ben Beecken, Locked On Wolves
The Lakers haven't exactly been razor sharp over the last three or four games, but overall have gotten the job done. They have, to use Darvin Ham's words, stacked up wins en route to a seventh place finish in the West that would have seemed improbable six weeks ago. LeBron James looked great in Sunday's finale, Anthony Davis seems healthy, and the team is expected to be fully intact for the first time all year on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, on Sunday Minnesota lost forward Jaden McDaniels to a broken hand sustained punching a wall in their season finale vs. New Orleans, and then center Rudy Gobert punched Kyle Anderson in a sideline huddle, and has been suspended by the team.
Is Gobert that big a loss, given his shaky health and cratering reputation? Might the Wolves be better off without him, given the matchups (even while missing backup center Naz Reid, who was already out with a broken wrist)? Can the Lakers exploit the absence of McDaniels, who is easily Minnesota's best defender? Was the
11/04/2023 • 42 minutes 31 seconds
Minnesota Timberwolves, Everything You Need to Know About Rudy Gobert & More | NBA Playoff Preview
The Minnesota Timberwolves are in disarray going into the NBA Playoffs, what will happen to Rudy Gobert, Jaden McDaniels and the Wolves next? What can we expect from Anthony Edwards & Karl Anthony Towns?
Ben Beecken joins Nick Angstadt (@NickVanExit) to discuss the state of the Minnesota Timberwolves going into the NBA Play-In and Playoffs. How will this version of the Timberwolves respond to adversity? What are the expectations for the Wolves now that everything is insane?
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10/04/2023 • 13 minutes 1 second
Lakers Beat Utah on Sunday, Clinch 7th Seed, Will Face Timberwolves In the Play-In Game
The Lakers completed their fairly remarkable run post-trade deadline on Sunday with a 128-117 win over the Utah Jazz, clinching the seven-seed in the Western Conference and the opportunity to host the play-in game Tuesday night vs. Minnesota. It's the culmination of a huge push that was absolutely not at all guaranteed, even with an improved roster, especially given all the injuries to significant players the team suffered.
So now, it's one win to get into the main draw, then what could be a wildly entertaining matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies.
LeBron James, who hasn't been good over the last week, was fantastic on Sunday (especially from the perimeter, where he was 8-14 from downtown), which was quite comforting to see. The Lakers also received timely shooting D'Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves, with a little Malik Beasley sprinkled in. Jarred Vanderbilt took advantage of total apathy from the Jazz, who spent a lot more time focused on other weapons.
But they weren't exactly shar
It wasn't pretty, it wasn't inspiring, but the Lakers beat a Phoenix team sitting basically everyone important on Friday night 121-107 and in the process did some important things. For example...
Clinched no worse than an 8-seed in the West, meaning they'll have a chance to win one game to get in the main draw.
Ensured that they'll finish with no worse than the 7-seed with a win vs. Utah at home on Sunday.
Kept alive the ability to move up, with a win and either two Clippers losses on Saturday and Sunday, or a Warriors loss in Portland Sunday.
Became the first team in two decades to start 2-10 and finish with a winning record.
This is all important stuff.
Also important: Malik Beasley had a great game, badly needed both for the Lakers tonight and for his own mental well-being. A hot-shooting Beasley could be a big difference maker in the postseason for a Lakers team that still doesn't scare people from the perimeter. Austin Reaves was great. Rui Hachimura pitched in. On a night w
08/04/2023 • 20 minutes 3 seconds
How Confident Should Lakers Fans Be In Darvin Ham during the Play-in or Playoffs?
Lakers fans have not necessarily warmed up to Darvin Ham in his first season as Lakers head coach. There have been consistent complaints, mostly about his rotation choices, throughout the season. He has received a lot of flak for what has been an inconsistent, often wildly frustrating season.
On the other hand, to say the man has been dealt an imperfect hand would be a colossal understatement. He started the year with a mismatched roster that became even more mismatched at different points thanks to significant injuries to LeBron James and Anthony Davis. He's dealt with the whole Russell Westbrook thing, which was no picnic, and managed to make it work about as well as it could.
From a buy in standpoint, Ham has done good work. And as the roster improved, lo and behold, so has the team's performance. So how good a coach has Ham been, and could he be the reason the Lakers win or (in the eyes of fans, more likely) lose in high leverage postseason games?
It's an open question, no doubt.
07/04/2023 • 36 minutes 35 seconds
LeBron, Davis, Russell Play, but Lakers Lose (Again) to the Clippers, Five Seed Out of Reach
Coming off an overtime win on Tuesday night in Utah in which the Lakers used far, far more energy and effort than hoped, there was some question as to whether or not LeBron James and Anthony Davis, both nursing injuries, would play Wednesday against the Clippers. This despite it being a really, really, REALLY important game in the Western Conference standings.
Win, and the Lakers would have a very good chance of finishing in the Top 6 out West, and avoiding the play-in entirely. Lose and it's much more likely they're in the mini-tournament, and risk dropping into the quite unwanted eight or nine seed.
Well, they lost to the Clippers. Again. For the 11th straight time, this time 125-118.
Clearly, the Lakers were tired. Very, very tired. And they were tired in part because of that OT game they ought not to have had to play. And LeBron in particular looked like he was running in mud for the first half. It was about as bad as he's looked, certainly as a Laker, perhaps through most of his c
06/04/2023 • 38 minutes 42 seconds
The Lakers Beat Utah, Clinch a Top 10 Spot, but Will Davis and LeBron Play vs. the Clippers?
The game that got them there was, no doubt, inelegant. The Lakers beat the Jazz in OT, but blew a 14 point lead in the third quarter, and a 10 point lead with under two minutes to play in the process. Both LeBron James and Anthony Davis had to work a whole lot harder than was ideal, and while LeBron came up big in the OT, neither star for the Lakers was great down the stretch in regulation.
(The Jazz, it should be noted, clearly made a point of having someone who wasn't Davis beat them in the second half.)
But regardless, the Lakers clinched a spot in the play-in. At worst, they're in the top 10, and obviously still have a ton left to play for over their final three games. That starts tonight, with a critical game against the Clippers. Both teams are 41-38. The winner moves into the top 6, and gains the opportunity to avoid all that play-in tension completely. And now, there are big questions about who will be available for the Lakers in this game, thanks to the effort that was put in
05/04/2023 • 36 minutes 36 seconds
Is Anthony Davis Ready to Play Back-to-Back Games for the Lakers? If not, Should he pick the Jazz or Clippers?
The Lakers have balanced the health of Anthony Davis with the need to win as many games as humanly possible in order to make the postseason, which is why he's sat out a game in back-to-back sets since returning from injury. But are there signs he might suit up for tonight's game in Utah, then Wednesday against the Clippers? Chris Haynes from Yahoo! reported it was possible, but the Lakers haven't said.
Davis is listed as probable for tonight, which if past is prologue means he won't play Wednesday. So does it make sense he could be cleared now to do stuff he wasn't cleared to do two weeks ago? Sure, it could. And you have to figure the Lakers, now that the odds heavily favor them making the play in, wouldn't suddenly get fast and loose with AD's health.
But if he could only play one, which should it be? (Hint: Not tonight.)
From there, it's worth noting the Lakers aren't simply benefitting by having LeBron come back much faster than expected (and returning D'Angelo Russell to the lineu
04/04/2023 • 37 minutes 27 seconds
Davis, LeBron, Hachimura Fuel win over Rockets, Six/Five Seeds now in Reach for the Lakers
Anthony Davis called this road trip a "get back" series of games, where the Lakers could exact some revenge on teams that had beaten them recently, or in the case of Minnesota, repeatedly. And get back is exactly what they've done, sweeping the first three games of the roadie following Sunday's 134-109 win over the Rockets in Houston.
The Lakers didn't have the intensity turned up to 11, but they did have the focus high on the dial. They defended Houston without fouling (only 10 FTs for the Rockets) and didn't fuel Houston's offense with dumb turnovers (only five on the night). Meanwhile, a super-efficient offense meant the Rockets couldn't really get out and run all that effectively, either, because at 56% shooting, the Lakers were forcing them to take the ball out of the basket all night.
LeBron had a cruise control triple double, Anthony Davis went for 40 (and didn't seem to work that hard to get it) and Rui Hachimura played a second straight strong game defensively, and added 20 po
03/04/2023 • 39 minutes 5 seconds
Bonus Episode! Lakers Beat Timberwolves, Now Seven Seed, as Anthony Davis Dominates on Bad Ankle
It's taken a while for the Lakers to climb out of the hole they dug at the start of the season, but they have officially emerged. For the first time since last January (the one in 2022) the Lakers are over .500, following an impressive 123-111 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minneapolis. Anthony Davis was dominant, again, with 38 points and 17 rebounds, leading the Lakers down the stretch despite a bum ankle that he says will not keep him out of Sunday's game in Houston. (We'll see about that.)
But it was a genuine team effort. LeBron James, Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura, Jarred Vanderbilt -- basically everyone who suited up did something to contribute to Friday's win. The Lakers are now 14-7 following the trade deadline, despite not having LeBron around for a big chunk of those games.
They've won the first two games of the road trip, get Houston on Sunday, and still have two games left against a fading Utah squad.
The six seed is still live. But more importantly, this is looking
01/04/2023 • 21 minutes 35 seconds
Should Darvin Ham Tweak the Lakers Starting Lineup? Plus, Revenge Game for D'Angelo Russell?
The Lakers are in Minnesota Friday for a critical matchup against the Timberwolves, with the seven-seed on the line for L.A. It's a great opportunity to climb further up the standings, but to also show that Wednesday's thrashing of Chicago, fueled by a killer starting lineup of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, D'Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves and Jarred Vanderbilt was no fluke. (Russell may also be entering this game with a little extra on his mind, this being the first game against the team that just traded him, much less in that city.)
But despite the first five crushing it, the second unit struggled in ways that cause concern, in part because there were too many minutes with just Dennis Schröder on the court as a ball-handling play-maker. While staggering Reaves, D'Lo and LeBron feels like a simple way of keeping two facilitators on the court at all times, it also raises the question of whether it would just be simpler to play Reaves off the bench again to lead a second unit that was rec
31/03/2023 • 36 minutes 25 seconds
Anthony Davis Puts up 38, plus Big Nights from LeBron, Reaves, D'Lo, as Lakers Beat Bulls
The Lakers started a five game road trip on Wednesday in Chicago, the very team that beat the snot out of them on Sunday, in a very disappointing afternoon for the purple and gold. With only seven games left, the Lakers needed to start the trip strong, and get some revenge. And that's exactly what they did, winning 121-110 in a game they started strong and (save a couple minor lulls) controlled throughout.
Particularly when the starting lineup - LeBron, Anthony Davis, D'Angelo Russell (he's back!), Austin Reaves and Jarred Vanderbilt was on the floor. That group was dominant in the minutes they played together. It looked great, but would Darvin Ham still benefit from tweaking things a little?
In reality, when Davis plays with the type of energy and force he did on Wednesday, it might not matter how Ham deploys his role guys. Davis was excellent from the jump, getting off to a strong start in the game and finishing with 38 points on 13-20 from the floor. LeBron, still under a minutes re
30/03/2023 • 35 minutes 28 seconds
Previewing the Lakers' Final 7 Games. How Many Wins Are Needed? Plus, Austin Reaves' Money.
The Lakers get some good news ahead of Wednesday's game in Chicago, the first of five on the road (four of which actually take place outside of Los Angeles). The team lists D'Angelo Russell and Anthony Davis as probable, and while LeBron James is questionable—a designation likely to follow him through every game left in the season, regular or post—nothing to this point indicates he'd miss the game.
And it's a good thing, too, because not only did the Bulls just beat the snot out of the Lakers Sunday at the Crypt, they also represent potentially the most difficult challenge of any remaining game. If it's not this one, it's Friday in Minnesota. Or maybe April 5th against the Clippers, or the Suns a few days later. The Lakers also get two games against a Utah team that may or may not have packed it in by the time the games roll around (and isn't playing all that well, anyway), and the Rockets. Yes, those Rockets.
Those are three very winnable games. Can they split the four more challengin
29/03/2023 • 33 minutes 49 seconds
Did the Lakers Properly Plan for LeBron's Return? Why Can't the Lakers Get Anthony Davis More Shots?
The Lakers are looking much more like a good bet to finish in the West's top 10, a big change from a month ago when the Lakers were staring down the barrel of weeks without LeBron James available to play. But they went 8-5 in his absence, managed to stay right in the thick of things in a Western Conference that just refuses prosperity, and actually still could finish as high as sixth if things break the right way and the Lakers run, or mostly run, the table.
LeBron said himself after Sunday's loss that he was certainly inspired to crank up the rehab to 11 in order to try and get back on the floor, given how well the team was hanging in. It had an impact. And had the Lakers lost their first six or so games after his injury, that calculus would have (rightly) changed.
So with all that in mind, should he have communicated a little better with the team about his recovery? They seemed to sort of know he was on the mend (they know he's working out, for example), knew enough to upgrade him to
28/03/2023 • 37 minutes 40 seconds
LeBron James Returns from Foot Injury, but Lakers Lose to Bulls, 118-108
The good news? LeBron James, upgraded to doubtful on Saturday was quickly moved to questionable on Sunday ahead of the Lakers' game against Chicago, and declared himself good to go following pregame warmups.
Rather than start, the Lakers brought James off the bench, where he ended up playing 30 minutes, scoring 19 points on 6-11 from the floor, with eight rebounds and three assists. Five turnovers indicated some rust and timing issues with teammates, but all-in-all, James looked pretty comfortable in his first game action in weeks. Nor did he report any discomfort after the game. He now gets two days to rest and continue treatment before the Lakers play the Bulls in Chicago.
The bad news? Everything else that happened Sunday, in a 118-108 loss.
The Lakers were pretty flat out of the gate, got put way behind after the Bulls used a hot shooting spree to build out a lead in the first half. And playing uphill the entire way, the Lakers just couldn't hit enough shots or play enough defense
27/03/2023 • 36 minutes 25 seconds
Anthony Davis (37 points) Dominates as the Lakers Win 116-111 Over Oklahoma City, Get Back to .500
It's taken more than a year, but the Lakers have returned to the .500 mark. Behind a huge game from Anthony Davis (37 points, 15-21 shooting) on a night the Lakers badly needed it (no LeBron, and D'Angelo Russell was a late scratch with a bad hip), Davis provided a bonafide superstar performance, playing well from the first quarter to the end.
He had company, too! Lonnie Walker IV, given a chance to play thanks to the Russell injury, took advantage of the opportunity, scoring 20 points and hitting half of his eight 3-point attempts. Darvin Ham let him close the game, a nice show of trust in a guy who earned the opportunity, based on his play Friday, but hadn't been in the rotation for a while.
Dennis Schröder was great down the stretch, Jarred Vanderbilt made Shai Gilgeous-Alexander work for each of his 27 points, and overall the Lakers defense was nails in the second half. LA only scored 43 points in the final 24 minutes, but held OKC to 19 in the fourth. That's gettin' it done.
25/03/2023 • 19 minutes 56 seconds
LeBron James Gives an Injury Update (Sort of), D'Angelo Russell Opens Up about his Lakers Future
Updates about LeBron James and his injured foot have come out in drips and drabs, and have almost always been couched in very vague language that promises nothing and leaves only a sort of broad, general impression about what might maybe happen, perhaps with a week left in the season or maybe four days or possibly eight or maybe none.
Point being, nobody has been saying anything even a little bit definitive.
But perhaps it's still been too definitive for James, who put out his own update on social media, which let folks know what he's been up to and also did the SMH at "sources" out there. Granted, LeBron's update was equally fuzzy as anything else that's been reported, and didn't even really refute anything. So what was the point of putting it out there? Time to read some tea leaves!
From there, the length of James's absence, combined with the quality of play from Austin Reaves, has some folks overthinking what might happen when James returns, and how the Lakers might want to handle t
24/03/2023 • 36 minutes 2 seconds
Austin Reaves Moves Into the Starting Lineup, Helps the Lakers Beat Phoenix 122-111
For Wednesday's show, we asked whether Darvin Ham needed to make a move to take a slumping Malik Beasley out of the starting lineup.
Apparently, he listens.
Wednesday vs. the Suns, Ham lifted Beasley and replaced him with a red-hot Austin Reaves, and the results were outstanding. The Lakers won 122-111 (in a game where they generally exerted control) and on a personal level Reaves was fantastic. 25 points on only 10 field goal attempts, bolstered by 13 trips to the line, 11 assists and a steal, while only turning the ball over once. He played nearly 39 minutes, and was a +18. So yeah, it worked pretty well! D'Angelo Russell had a very efficient 26 points, making half of his six threes. And then Anthony Davis came alive in the second half to finish with 27/9/5.
With the win, the Lakers regain a place in the Western Conference's top 10, though a very precarious one, no question. They're in a group of seven teams with either 36 or 37 losses. With only nine games remaining on the schedule,
23/03/2023 • 38 minutes 16 seconds
Time for Lakers to Bench Malik Beasley? Plus, Anthony Davis May Not play the Final Back-to-Back
The Lakers catch a break tonight against Phoenix, as the Suns will be missing both Kevin Durant (expected) and center DeAndre Ayton, who (when KD isn't playing) is Phoenix's second-best player after Devin Booker. (Due respect to Chris Paul.) So a must-win game for the Lakers (aren't they all, now?) is much more winnable. It's also an opportunity for Anthony Davis to do more damage, because at the least he will not have the same level of defensive responsibility guarding Jock Landale and Bismack Biyombo.
So we'll see how that goes.
Meanwhile, how Davis performs isn't the only issue facing the Lakers right now, particularly in the starting lineup. Malik Beasley has essentially been in a slump since joining the team (a couple good games notwithstanding) and the low shooting percentage is putting a strain on the productivity of the starting five, which already carries Jarred Vanderbilt, an inconsistent producer of points, to be charitable.
Both guys have been negatively impacted by the abs
22/03/2023 • 37 minutes 27 seconds
How Much Will Austin Reaves Cost The Lakers in Free Agency? Can Anthony Davis Consistently Dominate?
The Lakers are hanging on the fringes of the Western Conference Play-In race (the top 6, at this point, is a real stretch). They've been doing it without LeBron James, who remains sidelined with a bum foot. Before Sunday's game, Darvin Ham said that the team expects James will be available before the end of the regular season. Yahoo's Chris Haynes reports that while it's certainly a possibility James could return, if he does, he won't be 100%. Or really anywhere close.
So what exactly would the Lakers be getting with a diminished-but-available LeBron James? Is that guy enough to help fuel that miracle playoff run that some kiiiiiiinda refuse to rule out, just because he's LeBron James, has won a title with A.D., and the West just isn't that dominant this year? Is he enough to help get the Lakers through a play-in game or two?
Most fans, right now at least, would take the latter and cross their fingers for anything else. What can people expect?
Meanwhile, the Lakers ability to succeed i
21/03/2023 • 39 minutes 57 seconds
Austin Reaves's Career Night Vs. Orlando (35/6/6), Saves the Lakers Season (For Now, at Least)
After dropping a game against the Rockets and then suffering a crushing buzzer beater Friday against the Mavericks, the Lakers are basically all out of hall passes. With 11 games to go, if they want to give themselves a shot at the playoffs, they can't afford more than a couple losses.
And for one of those to come at home against Orlando? Can't have it.
Austin Reaves made sure the Lakers went home with a W. Career game, 35 points, six rebounds, six assists, and 18 trips to the free throw line. He was incredible, and easily the best player on the floor for either team. And the Lakers, who got better performances from D'Angelo Russell (18 points, 4/8 from downtown) and Troy Brown Jr. (4/8 from 3), needed every ounce of production Reaves was able to provide because the Lakers still haven't figured out how to spring Anthony Davis loose offensively now that teams are giving him so much extra attention.
Davis played a good game defensively (four blocks, countless shots deterred/contested), b
20/03/2023 • 37 minutes 25 seconds
Anthony Davis Makes Critical Mistakes Late in the Fourth as the Lakers Lose 111-110 to Dallas
The Lakers played with fire all night, missing free throws and 3-pointers. That was a problem. Anthony Davis, who was pretty good most of the night, had about as bad a final minute as a player can, fouling Maxi Kleber on a closeout, sending him to the line for three free throws. He missed a free throw of his own in the final 15 seconds, and then he lost Kleber on the last possession, leaving enough space for Kyrie Irving to find him with a crosscourt pass. Kleber hit the shot, and the Mavericks won.
That, obviously, was a BIG problem.
Overall, the Lakers did just enough stuff wrong throughout the game to make sure they weren't in a comfortable spot, late. They were too slow out of the gate. They didn't get enough from D'Angelo Russell or Malik Beasley on the perimeter. They couldn't chase Dallas off the 3-point line in critical moments.
And in the end, they missed another opportunity, because while this loss doesn't knock them out of the top 10, it pushes them to the very end of the pl
18/03/2023 • 22 minutes 46 seconds
Report: Lakers Not Interested in Kyrie, Plan to Run Back Roster. (Plus, Fans Unhappy with Darvin Ham)
The Lakers lost a disappointing game on Wednesday in Houston, one that could end up being quite costly in the standings when all is said and done. It was certainly bad enough that the disappointment and anger about it from Lakers fans was still palpable. Many left comments about Darvin Ham's work in that game (starting Rui Hachimura instead of Wenyen Gabriel, for example) or the fact that the Lakers, despite knowing Anthony Davis wouldn't play and that Gabriel was their only available big with Mo Bamba injured, didn't bother to sign another center to have on hand.
A little size couldn't have hurt, given how bad the rim protection was on Wednesday night.
So how confident should Lakers fans be with Ham right now? On the one hand, with better players, lo and behold, suddenly the team is winning a lot more. And while he shoudn't get all the credit, it's unfair only to pin losses on Ham, but never give him credit for success. The pressure on Ham to be excellent has remained consistent, even
17/03/2023 • 38 minutes 38 seconds
Lakers Lose Critical Game to Rockets. Questionable Decisions by Ham, Pelinka Loom Large
Weeks ago, the Lakers built a plan that mapped out exactly how Anthony Davis would be used once he came back from injury. It prescribed no back-to-backs, something the Lakers have stuck with even as the stakes have gone up with time running out in the season.
And that's what they should do. Can't risk a guy's health, if that's what the doctors believe is at stake, here.
But even without Davis, even without LeBron, even on the second night of a back-to-back, the Lakers needed to win Wednesday's game against a terrible Houston Rockets squad. They needed a better game plan. They needed a little more foresight. They needed better performances from guys like D'Angelo Russell (5-17) and Malik Beasley (6-17).
The Lakers didn't get any of that stuff, and they lost. And this one stings, not just because it cost the Lakers a chance to move into a tie for 7th in the West. There just isn't enough season left to set games like this aside.
So why, in a game where margins could be tight, did Darvin H
16/03/2023 • 39 minutes 12 seconds
Anthony Davis Dominates in 123-108 Win Over Pelicans... But Won't Play Tonight in Houston
The Lakers were not pleased with the results of Sunday's loss to the Knicks at the Crypt, particularly Anthony Davis who put the blame squarely on his shoulders. He pledged to do better next time, and that he did. Davis was central to LA's big early run in New Orleans on Tuesday. They put up two touchdowns before the Pelicans were even on the board. At one point, the Lakers were up by 40. It was almost too big a lead, because the Lakers clearly got complacent and had to scramble a little more to hold on than they should have.
Davis finished with 35 points on 11-18 shooting, with 17 rebounds. Malik Beasley broke out of his slump in a big way, hitting 7-10 from 3-point range in the first half. D'Angelo Russell was solid (if inefficient), as were Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura. It was one of those nights, growing more common, where the Lakers look like they have real depth that can match up with a lot of teams.
There's also a much, much more positive energy around the group. Some of that
15/03/2023 • 36 minutes 17 seconds
Will Darvin Ham's Inexperience Prevent the Lakers From Making the Play-in?
The Lakers, according to the fine folks at Tankathon (and by other measurements as well) have the league's easiest schedule down the stretch. That includes tonight's game against a hobbled New Orleans squad, and Wednesday against the Rockets, who are awful. They see the Bulls twice, get a beat up Dallas team, the Suns (at least once) without Kevin Durant and the Magic. By the time the schedule grants two games against Utah, the Jazz may or may not still be playing for a playoff berth. (Of course, they're saying the same thing about the Lakers on Locked On Jazz.)
So the idea they could be playing significant games down the stretch, even understanding that LeBron is going to miss a huge chunk of time, isn't at all far-fetched. Not given how the Lakers have played since the NBA's trade deadline, Sunday's loss notwithstanding.
To get there, they need top shelf performances from Anthony Davis, and on days where he's anything less, elevated performances from the supporting cast. They didn't
14/03/2023 • 39 minutes 20 seconds
Lakers Outplayed by the Knicks in 112-108 loss, Anthony Davis Takes the Blame
Under normal circumstances, Sunday's 112-108 loss to the Knicks wouldn't be a major source of concern. The Lakers played hard, they didn't underestimate their opponent.
They just weren't sharp. It happens.
Except right now, the Lakers simply can't afford to have games where they're not sharp, and can't execute well enough to win games there for the taking.
With the loss, the Lakers drop into a statistical tie with the Thunder for the 10th spot in the West. Still only a game out of 7th, and two out of 6th, but obviously a much shakier spot than they were 24 hours ago. It was a few things - Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt and Troy Brown provided absolutely nothing for the Lakers in support of Anthony Davis and D'Angelo Russell (who was again excellent on Sunday, with 33 points on 13-19 shooting. As a team, the Lakers didn't get to the line enough, and when they did, they - and Davis more specifically - didn't hit enough of them.
Darvin Ham erred it seemed in not keeping either Russell o
13/03/2023 • 38 minutes 4 seconds
D'Angelo Russell Torches Raptors for 28 Points, Nine Assists In Return, Lakers win 122-112
The Toronto Raptors arrived at the Crypt on Friday determined to prevent Anthony Davis from beating them. Whenever Davis got near the ball, he was generally double and even triple-teamed in an effort to either force a pass or prevent him from getting it in the first place.
Toronto was clearly challenging the supporting cast of the Lakers, and to say the least, the supporting cast responded.
It started with D'Angelo Russell, who put up 28 points and nine dimes in his return after missing six games with an ankle injury. But Austin Reaves, Dennis Schroder, Rui Hachimura and Jarred Vanderbilt were all in double-figures as well. Reaves, Russell and Schroder combined for 21 assists, and as a team the Lakers shot over 43% from 3-point range.
Sure, there were too many turnovers, and the Lakers often seemed out of sorts offensively as they tried to work around Toronto's overplay of A.D., but broadly speaking there was a great deal to like about Friday's game, including a lockdown fourth quarter
11/03/2023 • 20 minutes 32 seconds
D'Angelo Russell Expected to Return Friday for the Lakers, but Mo Bamba out a Month
The Lakers are expected to get some serious lineup relief tonight vs. Toronto, with D'Angelo Russell returning to the floor after a six game absence. And none too soon, because while the team has performed admirably with Dennis Schröder and Austin Reaves functioning as primary ball-handlers and team organizers, it's not a role that either is perfectly suited to play. Having Russell back in the lineup returns both guys to a more natural role - Schröder as an attacking guard off the bench, and Reaves as a natural facilitator and connecter, but not necessarily a point guard.
Darvin Ham gets more options, which is something every coach appreciates. Plus, Russell's ability as a shooter should open the floor not just for interior players like Anthony Davis or Jarred Vanderbilt, but should also take some of the heat off a guy like Malik Beasley, who struggled in D'Lo's absence.
Mo Bamba, unfortunately, will be out for about a month with an ankle sprain, robbing the Lakers not just of their on
10/03/2023 • 38 minutes 33 seconds
Will (and Should) LeBron James and Anthony Davis Have Their Jerseys Retired by the Lakers?
Tuesday was a good night for the Lakers in the standings, and for the Lakers celebrating history. They got a big win over the Grizzlies and also celebrated the retirement of Pau Gasol's #16. For the first time in a long time, it seems, the Lakers managed to combine a great night for pageantry with a great night for basketball.
And it got a whole lot of people thinking, what about Anthony Davis and LeBron James? Should those two eventually have their jerseys retired? One of those people putting it out for discussion was Davis himself, who noted how much he'd like to be part of that incredible lineage of Lakers bigs that hover over the floor. Mikan, Wilt, Kareem, Shaq, Pau... Davis would like to be next.
He's unquestionably a Hall of Fame player, even if he hung 'em up today. But would he be in the Lakers Hall of Fame, so to speak?
It seems he'd have some work to do. Yes, there's a title, but has Davis played enough games to earn the honor? Has there been enough consistency? There's cert
09/03/2023 • 36 minutes 31 seconds
Anthony Davis Dominates Grizzlies as Lakers Enter Play-in Mix... And Retire Pau Gasol's Jersey!
It's been a long, long, looooooooong climb, filled with some ups and a whole bunch of downs and aided by a Western Conference that just refuses to kick it into high gear... but the Lakers have finally crawled back into the playoff picture. After beating the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night, behind yet another epic effort from Anthony Davis (30 points, 22 rebounds, 11-17 shooting, two blocked shots), the Lakers are back in the West's top 10, meaning if the season ended today, they'd be in the play-in.
(And tonight, SB Nation/Silver Screen and Roll's Harrison Faigen joins to break it all down!)
It's a remarkable piece of progress for a team that has seen long-term injuries to Davis and LeBron James, has barely played with D'Angelo Russell since acquiring him, and generally has had little to no continuity for... years.
But since the trade deadline, the Lakers have won seven of 10, despite all the absences. The sample size is large enough to say that, while the O might still struggle, th
08/03/2023 • 40 minutes 44 seconds
What is a Realistic Timeline for LeBron James to Return? Plus, the Lakers Retire Pau Gasol's #16!
Of late, The Athletic's Shams Charania hasn't exactly been the bearer of good news for Lakers fans. And Monday, talking with FanDuelTV, wasn't much different.
Charania noted that while the Lakers are going to re-evaluate LeBron James after three weeks, there is certainly some belief that the actual length of LeBron's absence could extend past that mark. Well past it, potentially, calling into serious question just how much regular season action James might get before a (hypothetical) play-in matchup. Or whether the Lakers can hang on long enough to even make those last few games meaningful.
And what exactly will be the considerations the Lakers and LeBron make when deciding whether LeBron can/should return to action?
It's all very speculative and super-unpleasant for the Lakers, and puts that much more pressure on Anthony Davis to elevate the team, D'Angelo Russell to get back on the floor, and the supporting cast to rise a little above role player status. But the flip side? The schedu
07/03/2023 • 40 minutes 6 seconds
Anthony Davis Delivers MVP-Caliber Performance as the Lakers Get a Critical Win Over Golden State
Without LeBron James in the lineup, the Lakers (on most nights at least) will need Anthony Davis to provide 48 minutes of MVP caliber basketball to give themselves a good chance to win.
Friday against Minnesota, he delivered most of that, but not quite all. Make no mistake - Davis was LA's best player, by far. But he couldn't quite deliver perfection to elevate a bad night from the supporting cast. Sunday against Golden State, Davis was everything he could be for the Lakers, and while for a stretch it looked like he might be again let down by his teammates, this time they came through. Whether a big first half from Jarred Vanderbilt, a big fourth quarter from Dennis Schroder, or excellent efforts throughout by Troy Brown Jr. and Austin Reaves, the Lakers role players stepped up and provided great backup for Davis, and as a result, the Lakers picked up a must-have on Sunday.
With the win, the Lakers into a statistical tie for the 10 spot, are only a half-game behind New Orleans for the
06/03/2023 • 37 minutes 49 seconds
BONUS EPISODE: Lakers Lose to Timberwolves, Lose Chance to Jump up in the Standings.
The Lakers had a chance to make a significant move in the West on Friday, as the Clippers, Pelicans and Jazz all lost. Had the Lakers defeated the Timberwolves at the Crypt, they'd have moved into the top 10 and pulled into a loss-column tie with all four of those squads.
Instead, after a 110-102 loss, they're still on the outside looking in, with the Golden State Warriors coming into town Sunday. (On the one had, Golden State has been a wretched road team all year. On the other, Steph Curry is expected to play after a long absence.) It was definitely a missed opportunity, which is perhaps why Darvin Ham was more visibly angry following this game as he's been at any postgame press conference this season.
He said his team lacked urgency and fire. Minnesota played desperate, the Lakers did not. And certainly LA was flat coming out at halftime, where the Wolves pulled ahead and had the Lakers playing uphill for the rest of the game. But how much of their performance was a matter of being
04/03/2023 • 17 minutes 39 seconds
LeBron James Has Tendon Injury in Right Foot, Lakers will Re-Evaluate him in Three Weeks
News earlier in the week had LeBron James missing time, and being re-evaluated in two weeks.
Times have changed, and not for the good. Reports on Thursday provided a little clarity into his injury. Turns out it's a tendon problem in his right foot (ouch!) and the Lakers will take another peek under the hood in three weeks. So let's say for a moment that he's cleared and good to go on evaluation day (which, to be honest, seems unlikely), it would mean the Lakers would be without James for another 10 games. They only have 20 left, so realistically the hope is LeBron could return with about five or six left to play.
So the big question at that point: Will those games, however many there are, have any meaning?
Well, it won't be easy, but assuming D'Angelo Russell, who won't play Friday against Minnesota but hopefully won't miss too much time after that, gets back in the lineup a look at the schedule shows the road is about as easy as could be expected. A couple games against Houston, a som
03/03/2023 • 36 minutes 51 seconds
The Lakers Beat OKC Without LeBron, Davis and Russell... But Did the Lakers Do A.D. Wrong?
A lot of things happened Wednesday afternoon when the Lakers announced that Anthony Davis would join LeBron James and D'Angelo Russell in street clothes for Wednesday's game in Oklahoma City.
People thought Davis, listed as out with a stress injury in his foot (the injury that caused him to miss weeks of play earlier this year, might have aggravated the injury. Or maybe it was that wrist injury he suffered in Memphis a night earlier that, in combination with the foot, had the Lakers sitting him down.
It wasn't just regular maintenance, because the Lakers don't have enough games left to be giving players who can play the night off, even for health reasons.
And certainly the assumption was the Lakers, even against a slumping OKC team without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, wouldn't win the game.
Well, about that...
Much has been made of the team's improved depth in the wake of the trade deadline, and that those players simply fit together in a more coherent, cohesive way. Well, Wednesday was th
02/03/2023 • 38 minutes 34 seconds
LeBron Out at Least Two Weeks, Lakers Lose in Memphis, but Offer Reasons For Optimism
The Lakers got a little more clarity on LeBron James Tuesday, learning that the injury to his right foot will be re-evaluated in two weeks. So more than likely, it means James misses at least 10 games, which would basically mean half of what the Lakers have left to play.
And that's the optimistic outcome.
So it's going to be life without LeBron for a little while, and the Lakers got their first taste of it in Memphis, losing 121-109 in a game that was actually closer than the final score would indicate. The Lakers, who played VERY hard throughout, were within four deep into the fourth quarter, and save a very loose third quarter defensively held up well against one of the best teams in the Western Conference.
The big problem, though, was of their own doing. The Lakers set a season high for turnovers, not only helping provide the Grizzlies with easy points, but robbing themselves of 26 potential field goal attempts. And that was the difference on a night where the Grizzlies were awful f
01/03/2023 • 32 minutes 42 seconds
Report: Lebron James Could Miss Multiple Weeks With Right Foot Injury.
Sunday was one of, if not the, best night of the year for the Lakers, who staged an epic 27-point comeback to beat Dallas and continue their push into the Western Conference playoff race.
But it did come with a catch. LeBron James finished the game following an injury to his right foot in the second half, but he was clearly uncomfortable and limped noticeably as he left the building. It was, to say the least, concerning. Darvin Ham put as optimistic a spin on the situation as he could, but noted they'd need to learn a little more before issuing a definitive update.
Well, there's still no update, but reports from Shams Charania of The Athletic indicate the news isn't good. James is expected to need multiple opinions to figure out the problem and miss multiple games before returning to the floor. The Lakers, he says, are bracing for him to miss weeks. It's the type of news that feels par for the course. Just when things seem to be really, rightly and truly turning around... more of this.
28/02/2023 • 35 minutes 56 seconds
Lakers Score Epic Comeback vs. Mavericks, Fueled by Anthony Davis, Jarred Vanderbilt, LeBron James
NBA teams were 0-138 heading into Sunday's action when falling down by 27 points or more.
They are now 1-138. Why? Because the Lakers executed an epic, and monumentally critical, comeback against the Mavericks in Dallas, clawing back from a 27-point deficit to win 111-108. It was a game that featured huge performances from damn near everyone on the roster. Anthony Davis morphed back into MVP Anthony Davis in the second half, finishing with 30 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks. Jarred Vanderbilt was everything everywhere all at once, with 15 points, 17 rebounds and four steals. LeBron James muscled through another foot injury to score some massive hoops down the stretch. Austin Reaves got scrappy, Malik Beasley hit a critical three -- it was the type of game that builds not only momentum in the standings, but serious belief in the locker room.
Can the Lakers turn this into something bigger in a Western Conference in which 10 -- TEN!!! -- teams have between 29 and 32 losses? The Big M
27/02/2023 • 39 minutes 56 seconds
The Lakers Beat Warriors Behind Malik Beasley and Austin Reaves, Gain Ground in the West
The Lakers generally controlled the proceedings against a shorthanded Golden State squad, missing Steph Curry and Andrew Wiggins. They won (124-111) on a night where Anthony Davis and LeBron James scored 25 points combined. Combined! They won with three-point shooting from a guy who is supposed to be a three-point shooter (Malik Beasley, 7-11 from downtown en route to 25 points), and solid performances up and down from a supporting cast whose floor is significantly higher now than it was a month ago. The group, even while they try and figure each other out, just makes more sense, and can operate with far more coherence.
The Lakers have put the football down at different times this season, and encouraged Lakers fans to go ahead and kick it. And generally speaking, they've pulled that football away, turning all those faithful fans to swing at empty air and end up on their backs, like Lucy does to Charlie Brown.
Thursday, maybe things started to turn.
The only downside? D'Ang
24/02/2023 • 38 minutes 16 seconds
How Many Wins Will the Lakers Need to Make the Playoffs? (Or Keep the Roster Intact for Next Season?)
Say what you will about Darvin Ham, the man is an ambitious thinker.
Wednesday in El Segundo, Ham said the Lakers aren't simply focused on getting into the top 10 in the West, which would give them at least a seat at the postseason table (or the chance to get one, depending on whether you're a person who considers the play-in to be part of the playoffs). No, he's looking at a top 6 seed, that would get them into the big tournament outright, without having to win the qualifying games. With 3.5 games to make up on the Mavericks (currently occupying that spot) and six (6) teams in between, that is a big ask, and would require a tremendous amount of winning.
No harm in setting the bar high, though. Because the Lakers will need to win a lot just to reach the 10 spot. How many games? 15 seems like a safe number, meaning they can afford to lose eight times between now and the end of the season. If 15-8 doesn't get them in, what are you gonna do?
A prime opportunity to get things off on the ri
23/02/2023 • 39 minutes 8 seconds
The Lakers Face Long Odds to Make the Playoffs, Plus, Mo Bamba Scouting Report!
Following the All-Star Game, LeBron James framed the last 23 games of the 2022-23 season as being as critical as any regular season games he's had in his very, very long career. That's a lot of games, and plenty of important ones.
But with the Lakers once again on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff/play-in race, he's absolutely correct that they need to hit the ground running hard to even have a chance down the stretch. It can't be a step forward and a step back, two steps forward one step back and so on. The Lakers need to pile up some wins, starting Thursday against the Warriors.
It's a tall order to jump over multiple teams, and one the mathematicians don't think the Lakers can do. Whether looking at Basketball Reference, FiveThirtyEight or any other purveyor of analytical projections, the odds favor the Lakers landing outside the top 10 when the season is all said and done. And it makes sense, even if you think the Lakers are improved following the trade deadline.
22/02/2023 • 36 minutes 50 seconds
LeBron James Says the Lakers' Final 23 Games are "Critical", and Russell Westbrook to Join the Clippers!
The weekend's All Star Game was, by most reviews, a shammockery of a basketball game. Even by exhibition standards, there was no defense, or any real interest in playing something that could be recognized as an NBA type game.
But at least nobody got hurt, even though for a minute, it looked like LeBron James might have done the unthinkable, suffering some sort of hand injury in the first half of Sunday's game. But based on his behavior once he was out of the game (which included a lot of aggressive high fives and fist bumps with what people thought might be a banged up right hand), Denver coach Micheal Malone's postgame comments (nobody got hurt) and James's own words, it seems like he was just fine, and everyone settled on a predicate for LeBron to sit the second half.
All good. After, though, James talked about the final 23 games of the regular season, calling them among the most important regular season games he's played throughout a career that has seen A LOT of important regular s
21/02/2023 • 35 minutes 54 seconds
What is D'Angelo' Russell's Fit With the Lakers, LeBron, Anthony Davis? What about Beasley and Vanderbilt?
The return of D'Angelo Russell to Los Angeles might not move the needle on a national level like, say, Kevin Durant being traded to Phoenix.
But that doesn't mean it's not a super-intriguing hoops story. In his first go with the Lakers, an immature Russell was sent out to make room for a different point guard the franchise hoped would be the player to lead them back to glory in Lonzo Ball. It didn't happen. After leaving L.A., Russell thrived, making an All-Star team with the Nets and settling into that fringe All-Star space that can be extremely valuable for teams. But he's an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Could Russell, still only 26 years old, be someone the Lakers want to keep for a few years? Would they let him go again?
So much depends on that fit with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and how Russell performs over the next 23 games.
What kind of player did the Lakers re-acquire? Ben Beecken, Host of Locked On Wolves, has had a bird's eye view since Russell arrived in Min
17/02/2023 • 38 minutes 41 seconds
Anthony Davis, LeBron's Return, New Starting Lineup Fuel a Big Lakers Win Over Pelicans
The Lakers needed a win in basically every way on Wednesday at home vs. New Orleans. They needed it in the standings, where a loss would push them even further behind one of the teams they're trying to track down. They needed it mentally, because heading into the All Star break on consecutive losses would be a tough thing to sit on.
And with all that on the line, they got it, and in rather impressive fashion, too. 120-102, in a game they started hot and finished strong.
And speaking of starting, Darvin Ham shook up the starting lineup in a major way, re-uniting D'Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt, all former teammates in Minnesota, in the opening five next to LeBron James (back in the lineup) and Anthony Davis. That crew got off to a very hot start, helping open up a 13-point lead at the end of the first quarter.
The offense slowed down in the second quarter, but overall the team looked like a team with a single style of play and some continuity throughout, no matter
16/02/2023 • 36 minutes 16 seconds
Who Sits When LeBron Returns to the Lineup? Plus, Jarred Vanderbilt/Malik Beasley Scouting Reports
Much of Monday's show was dedicated to the question of whether Dennis Schröder ought to be in the starting lineup for the Lakers and Darvin Ham. Apparently, it wasn't enough to quell any controversy, particularly after the Lakers were wiped out in Portland and Schröder was a non-factor.
When LeBron James returns, perhaps as early as tonight against the Pelicans at home, should Schröder remain? Because D'Angelo Russell is going to start, along with James and Anthony Davis and, presumably for the moment at least, Rui Hachimura? And if it's not Schröder, who should it be?
Troy Brown, Jr.?
As much as fans are unhappy with Ham's choices, there may not be a clear cut, obvious answer, here. Each has its appeal, each brings some problems. Especially when considering the rotation more holistically.
From there, it's a deep dive into the newest Lakers. David Locke, host of Locked on Jazz (and our boss!) joins the show to deliver a scouting report o
15/02/2023 • 39 minutes 14 seconds
Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers Scorch Lakers from three, LeBron James Misses Another Game
The Lakers entered Portland on a small winning streak, but more importantly, fresh off a strong road win against the Warriors, despite LeBron James being shelved with a persistent foot/ankle issue. This game against the Trail Blazers also featured no King, but their opponents were missing Jerami Grant and Jusef Nurkic, and the Lakers' collective confidence seemed high enough to make a night of it in a tough environment.
Until Damian Lillard went absolutely bonkers from behind the arc, and pretty much all of his teammates followed suit.
The Blazers hit 17 threes in the first half, with everyone from Dame (EIGHT, including a few from practically outside the building) to Matisse freaking Thybulle getting in on the action. Conversely, the Lakers hit just three in the opening 24 minutes, creating a 42 point swing on shots from distance. That is a massive discrepancy to battle from the outset, and despite actually turning it on themselves in the second half, the Lakers were in no position
14/02/2023 • 34 minutes 7 seconds
Why Is Rob Pelinka Talking "Pre-Agency" for the Lakers? And Should Dennis Schröder Still Start?
The Lakers will have at least one more game to play without LeBron James, who almost surely will miss Monday's game against Portland, and that shines a light (or a brighter light, to be specific) on the new guys. D'Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt (with Mo Bamba serving the last of his four game suspension) will be needed to help elevate the Lakers past the Blazers -- a team they're chasing in the West.
So what changes will they bring?
Does the additional shooting from Russell and Beasley, who have averaged seven and eight-plus 3-pointers a game this year on quality percentages, fundamentally alter the team's offense? Nobody left on the roster pushes pace like Russell Westbrook, but at the same time, nobody was a more awkward fit in the team's halfcourt sets, which have been... well, underwhelming throughout the year.
Much of Darvin Ham's decision-making around personnel choices has seemed to be oriented around creating and capitalizing on opportunities to run. In pa
13/02/2023 • 38 minutes 30 seconds
New-Look Lakers Beat Golden State, Despite LeBron James Sitting Out With an Injury
LeBron James is banged up, but the Lakers don't have time to tread water in his absence. They have to win games no matter who is in uniform.
So with James on the sidelines, the Lakers debuted their new guys (most of them, at least, since Mo Bamba is suspended for one more game, still) against Golden State in San Francisco. And no question, having three quality rotation players (Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, D'Angelo Russell) available was a big deal. The Lakers were led by Dennis Schröder with 26 points, but got 15 from Russell, 12 from Vanderbilt, and even Beasley (who missed all six of his 3-point attempts) showed what his presence could do, because he forces people to pay attention to him either as a shooter or a rim attacker.
The Lakers played well defensively, despite integrating new players. Anthony Davis still seems off and was ugly offensively Saturday night (5-19 from the floor) but he did lift his intensity in the fourth quarter, and had two massive blocks down the stretc
12/02/2023 • 18 minutes 21 seconds
What Will the New Lakers Rotation Be, and can Anthony Davis Return to an MVP-level?
The Lakers took the floor Thursday against Milwaukee at the Crypt very, very shorthanded. None of the five players acquired on Wednesday and Thursday were available, and meanwhile LeBron James missed the game to rest his bum foot.
So that left them with eight guys who have played real minutes this year, along with Cole Swider, to square off against Giannis and a Bucks team that hasn't lost in a couple of weeks.
The result was... basically as you'd predict. The Lakers played hard, they stayed competitive, they gave themselves a shot, were the Bucks to get a little cute with this one. But Milwaukee did not. They used a big third quarter and a solid-enough fourth to keep the game in hand, and won 115-106. Takeaways from nights like these are tough, but one stuck out: Anthony Davis. Foul trouble was an issue all night, but broadly he still hasn't been able to replicate the impact he had in that stretch before his injury. He wasn't bad on Thursday. He hasn't been bad since his return. But h
10/02/2023 • 37 minutes 22 seconds
Bonus Trade Deadline Wrap: Lakers add Mo Bamba, Completing a Roster Overhaul
The Lakers were very busy on Wednesday, doing good work to turn Russell Westbrook, two non-rotation players (Damian Jones, Juan Toscano-Anderson) and a first round pick into D'Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt. All three will be rotation players. On Thursday, ahead of the NBA's trade deadline, the Lakers stayed active.
They flipped center Thomas Bryant to Denver for three second round picks and forward Davon Reed, then turned around and sent three second round picks and Patrick Beverley to Orlando for center Mo Bamba. Essentially, they traded Bryant's offense for Bamba's rim protection while also giving themselves access to a player they can keep going forward if they choose. (Re-signing Bryant this offseason would have been a challenge.)
So if you're keeping score, the Lakers have added five players in two days, four of which will almost certainly play a real role in the rotation in exchange for two rotation guys (Beverley and Westbrook), one rotation guy who was los
09/02/2023 • 15 minutes 33 seconds
Report: The Lakers Trade Russell Westbrook, Acquire D'Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt
The Lakers looked like a team that might be on the verge of cracking Tuesday in their loss to Oklahoma City. Russell Westbrook got into an open argument with assistant Phil Handy, and then Darvin Ham at halftime. Anthony Davis was oddly detached from basically everything that was going on. It felt like if the Lakers made it through the deadline without trying to improve, things could go south really fast.
Well, Wednesday they tried to improve.
The Lakers reportedly will send Russell Westbrook and a lightly protected first round pick (along with Juan Toscano-Anderson and Damian Jones) to Utah, as part of a three-way trade netting them former Laker D'Angelo Russell from the Timberwolves, along with shooting guard Malik Beasley and forward Jarred Vanderbilt from Utah.
The trade should make the Lakers better right away, replacing one rotation player with three rotation quality guys, two of whom will add genuine three-point accuracy and volume to their offense. The latter is a big thing, be
09/02/2023 • 39 minutes 2 seconds
LeBron James Passes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as All-Time Scoring Leader, but Lakers Lose to Thunder
The range of emotions on display Tuesday at the Crypt was extensive.
On the one hand, LeBron James accomplished something truly remarkable, passing Lakers (and NBA) legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become the NBA's all-time leader in points scored. It came late in the third quarter, with a turnaround jumper over Oklahoma City forward Kenrich Williams. For James, it was the culmination of 20 years' worth of incredibly consistent performance. 27 points a game for two decades, on top of all the assists, the winning and more. One doesn't just stumble into 38K+ points.
He was surrounded by family, by friends, and by basically everyone he considered a key part of his journey as a player and a person, and seemed genuinely moved by the moment and the achievement, even while knowing that the record would be his, barring some type of catastrophic happening. For all his talent, particularly given LeBron's background, none of this was a given.
Kareem, for his part, looked pleased, and the moment gave
08/02/2023 • 37 minutes 43 seconds
How LeBron James Broke NBA Scoring Record & What He Means to Los Angeles Lakers | NBA Roundtable
LeBron James has broken the NBA’s Scoring Record by passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Locked On hosts covering the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, and Cleveland Cavaliers react to Lebron’s career and this accomplishment.
Brian Kamenetzky joins Chris Manning @LockedOnCavs and Wes Goldberg @LockedOnHeat to discuss LeBron James breaking the All-Time scoring record and what this accomplishment means to his career. What does LeBron James mean to the Los Angeles Lakers?
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08/02/2023 • 38 minutes 9 seconds
LeBron James "Disappointed," But Moves On After Lakers Don't Get Kyrie. Who are New Trade Options?
The Lakers didn't acquire Kyrie Irving from the Brooklyn Nets. Instead, he's going to Dallas. Whether they missed out, lucked out, or just behaved prudently depends on your POV, but one guy who clearly hoped Irving would end up in Los Angeles?
His frustration was clear over social media on Sunday. And on Monday, sitting down with ESPN's Michael Wilbon, James admitted he was disappointed, but said he's quickly moved past it and is once again focused on the roster the Lakers actually have. "I can't sit here and say I'm not disappointed on not being able to land such a talent, but [also] someone that I had great chemistry with, and know I got great chemistry with on the floor, that can help you win championships, in my mind, in my eyes," James told Wilbon. "But my focus is shifted now. My focus is shifted back to where it should be and that's this club now and what we have in the locker room."
He also said he believes this team, as constructed, can compete for a championship
07/02/2023 • 38 minutes 38 seconds
Kyrie Irving Traded to Dallas, LeBron James Seems Frustrated. What's Next for the Lakers?
The should they/shouldn't they debate around the Lakers barely had a chance to get going before news came Sunday that the Nets were trading Kyrie Irving to the Mavericks for Dorian Finney-Smith, Spencer Dinwiddie and picks. It all happened pretty quick, and a few things have become relatively clear in the hours since.
First, the Nets weren't interested in Russell Westbrook, and wanted a package that would allow them to stay competitive in the near term while also adding assets to keep building around Kevin Durant and keep him happy. The Lakers couldn't provide any of that. Second, reports also indicate that Nets owner Joe Tsai was imposing a "Laker Tax," not necessarily aimed at the Lakers themselves, but at Kyrie. If Brooklyn was going to reward Irving with his first-choice destination, it would only be for an offer so overwhelmingly lopsided they couldn't possibly turn it down.
The Lakers weren't going to do that, and so while Irving gets his wish to leave Brooklyn, it's not to his f
06/02/2023 • 35 minutes 57 seconds
Lakers Blow Lead against Pelicans and Brandon Ingram, Anthony Davis Quiet Down the Stretch.
It was wholly satisfying to see the Lakers steal a game they didn't deserve to win against the Pacers on Thursday, and equally disappointing to watch them lose a big lead in the second half Saturday in New Orleans, dropping the final game of the five game swing to the Pelicans, 131-126.
The Lakers had a double digit lead in the second half, but sloppy defense and an anemic fourth quarter offense (common themes throughout the year) were their undoing. Darvin Ham will get some heat for not changing things up enough against Brandon Ingram, who dominated quarters 2-4 (Rui Hachimura, for example, didn't play in the fourth), but it's reasonable to ask why Anthony Davis didn't pick up that assignment. And if he didn't, why didn't he find a way to get more done offensively in a quarter where the Lakers scored just 20 points?
It was a reminder of games earlier in the season where Davis was statistically dominant (34 points, 14 rebounds, two blocks) but quiet in the most important moments of the
05/02/2023 • 19 minutes 4 seconds
Report: Kyrie Irving Demands a Trade Before the Deadline. Should the Lakers Make an Offer?
Just when you thought the waters had calmed down on the Kyrie Irving front... they are once again churning, and churning hard. According to The Athletic's Shams Charania and others, Irving has asked to be traded ahead of next week's trade deadline. Or, he says, he won't be resigning with the Nets this offseason, and they'll be left with nothing.
So naturally, attention has quickly turned to the Lakers, who are hoping to make improvements in this year's team, have a couple first round picks to offer, and have (because, well, everything) frequently been linked to Irving going back to last summer.
Should Rob Pelinka get on the phone, and get to work? Should someone take his phone and have him count to 50... or even 500, or 5,000,000 (or infinity) before engaging in talks? What kind of package would make sense for the highly talented, ultra-mercurial point guard? He is unquestionably a transcendent hoops talent. He's also wholly unreliable, trades in conspiracy theories and seems at time
03/02/2023 • 15 minutes 40 seconds
Anthony Davis Fuels Improbable Lakers Win Over Pacers... And Snubbed for the All-Star Game?
The Lakers have lost plenty of games this season that they ought to have won. They've lost a couple of games they should have won, if not for some unfortunate calls at the end of games.
What they haven't done much this year is win games they really had no business winning. Finding a way, grinding it out, and getting just enough great play in the critical moments to succeed. That's exactly what happened Thursday in Indiana, when the Lakers, down for about 46 minutes and change, pulled ahead in the end and beat the Pacers 112-111. It was a game the Lakers were outscored by 30 points on 3-pointers. They missed eight fourth quarter free throws. The defense, save the fourth quarter, was lacking. LeBron James and Anthony Davis both had decent statistical nights, but weren't exactly dominant ... until each (especially Davis) came up with huge moments at the end.
And with that win, the Lakers have a chance to finish this road trip, which started so horribly with the loss in Boston followed by
03/02/2023 • 35 minutes 48 seconds
Is LeBron James Signaling to Rob Pelinka He Wants to Retire a Laker? Plus, Rui Hachimura's Fit So Far.
The Lakers take on Indiana tonight, looking to win a second straight game and set the table for a 3-2 finish to the road trip that started with so much frustration in Boston. But while there's plenty of focus on the team's record, there's also a lot of attention on the team's star. LeBron James is about a week away from passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become the NBA's all-time leading scorer. And he's going to push way past the Cap, because James noted following Tuesday's win that he plans to play for a few more years.
Over the course of the season, James has made it clear he's in no hurry to retire, and still believes he can play at a very high level (demonstrating that on the floor, too). He's also clarified his position on playing with his son. LeBron doesn't need to be teammates with Bronny, just share a professional court with him at some point, should fortune smile on the younger James and get him to the NBA.
He's also made it pretty clear he loves LA, his family loves LA, he has
02/02/2023 • 37 minutes 18 seconds
The Lakers (and Westbrook!) Get a Big Overtime Win vs. Knicks, LeBron Now 4th All-Time in Assists
By electing to sit both Anthony Davis and LeBron James Monday in Brooklyn, the Lakers were essentially putting all their eggs in Tuesday's basket, turning their game against the Knicks into a must-win type game. And win they did, though it wasn't easy. (It never is.) 129-123 was the final score, as the Lakers topped the Knicks in overtime behind 28/10/11 from James, 27/9 from Davis, 19 points from Rui Hachimura (who started, more on that later) and 17/8 from Russell Westbrook.
Westbrook, it should be noted, was both a significant contributor to a bad stretch of play in the last few minutes after LA built a 6-point lead with about 90 seconds left-- making him a large reason they went to overtime -- and arguably the team's best player once they got there.
He was great at times, he was awful at times, and as it always seems to be with Westbrook, there just wasn't a whole lot of normal stuff in between. There never is much normal in between, which is one reason Westbrook can be so difficul
01/02/2023 • 40 minutes 37 seconds
Lakers lose to Nets, LeBron James Has a Foot Issue, Fans are Losing Patience.
The Lakers are faced with a genuine Catch-22. They may not be able to make the playoffs without pushing Anthony Davis and LeBron James past safe limits of physical output, but if the org pushes them past those limits either or both are likely to get hurt, in which case they'll miss the playoffs.
This was the issue facing the Lakers Monday in Brooklyn, where both James and Davis sat the front end of a back-to-back following Saturday's epic OT loss to Boston. The hope was that maintenance was the driving force behind keeping both in street clothes, and in the case of Davis it probably was. But Monday we learned that LeBron is battling a foot problem that put a fresh spin on his absence. And Lakers coach Darvin Ham wouldn't say if James will play tonight against the Knicks at the Garden.
He said they didn't want to get ahead of themselves. That's not going to make Lakers fans feel better! Because if there's no real injury problem here, the answer to "Is LeBron James going to suit up to pl
31/01/2023 • 37 minutes 55 seconds
LeBron James, Anthony Davis to Miss Tonight's Game vs. Nets, Myles Turner Signs an Extension in Indiana
The Lakers were still stinging Sunday from the happenings at the end of Saturday's loss in Boston, and the egregious non-call on a last-second layup attempt from LeBron James, in which he was obviously fouled. But the refs missed it. They acknowledged that they missed it after the game, and even sent out another apology on the official NBA Officials Twitter Feed (who knew?) on Sunday, noting how torn up about it they were.
Boo frickin' hoo. What do the Lakers do with this information?
Even if it's not malicious, and nobody on this show suggests it is (the default conspiracy position in the NBA is to put LeBron and the Lakers into the playoffs, not keep them out), it's still very damaging. There is a massive difference between being two games under .500 and four. Especially because Monday in Brooklyn, the Lakers will sit both LeBron and Anthony Davis for maintenance purposes, with the idea of keeping them healthy for the stretch run.
Gotta do what you gotta do, but it would have been a
30/01/2023 • 37 minutes 42 seconds
The Lakers Lose In Boston, Referees Miss Obvious Foul on LeBron James at the End of Regulation
The Lakers have faced an uphill battle to put the season back on the rails after starting the year 2-10. To their credit, they've fought hard, developed a culture and played decent ball since (four games over .500), despite losing LeBron James and Anthony Davis at different points to injury.
They've blown some very winnable games. That's on them.
But Saturday, the Lakers rolled into Boston and played very well. They were strong defensively throughout. They found ways to score. They played hard against a very good Celtics team. And the referees blew it for them. LeBron James was fouled as time expired. Blatantly, obviously fouled. So obviously fouled that Patrick Beverley showed crew chief Eric Adams the photographic evidence afterwards. (For which Bev received a tech.) So obvious that it took the league about seven seconds after the game ended (Boston wins, 125-121 in OT) to say, "Yeah, we mucked that up."
Darvin Ham was semi-diplomatic after the game, though not so diplomatic that he
29/01/2023 • 19 minutes 1 second
Who Should Be In Darvin Ham's Rotation for the Lakers? Is Fred VanVleet Worth Two Firsts?
Thursday's show was centered largely around a lineup choice Darvin Ham made against San Antonio that Lakers fans find particularly irksome, namely playing Dennis Schroder, Russell Westbrook and Pat Beverley at the same time. Three guards? Not necessarily a problem. THOSE three? A problem.
In the comments of the YouTube section, many listeners/viewers felt Ham was being given too much leeway by the hosts (or one of them, at least). So with the news today that Lonnie Walker IV is getting very close to a return, and Austin Reaves is getting closer as well (and now having Anthony Davis available, and in a post-Rui Hachimura trade world), it all begs the question:
With everyone healthy, who should be in Ham's rotation?
So for Friday, it's a look at starting lineups, closing lineups, and the guys who will play and those who won't. At least not every game. Spoiler alert: Some guys who have played significant minutes, including some quality minutes, are likely to get squeezed. Some of the ques
27/01/2023 • 35 minutes 18 seconds
Lakers Beat San Antonio as Anthony Davis Makes His Return, Rui Hachimura Makes His Debut
For all the excitement about getting Anthony Davis back in the lineup, and for putting newly acquired forward Rui Hachimura into it, there was still the grind-of-the-NBA nature of Wednesday's game. It was the second night of a back-to-back, against a lousy and slumping San Antonio team that has done precious little winning of late. It's not unusual to see teams do the bare minimum to get by, which it seemed the Lakers were willing to do in a 113-104 win that was competitive into the fourth quarter.
The game was disjointed, as Darvin Ham negotiated a minutes restriction for Davis and found minutes for Hachimura.
But it was easy to see the impact of both. Davis technically didn't pick up right where he left off - there was about four minutes of rusty play before he got it back into gear, finishing with 21 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks in only 26 minutes.
Hachimura, who also came off the bench, seemed a little nervous early before finding a groove, finishing with 12 points and six r
26/01/2023 • 37 minutes 9 seconds
Lakers Lose to Clippers, But may Get Anthony Davis Back - and Rui Hachimura Debut - Tonight
The Lakers took the court Tuesday vs. the Clippers on a high from Monday's epic comeback, and with some excitement following the deal to acquire Rui Hachimura from Washington. But the Clippers came into the game feeling pretty good about themselves, too, and are getting healthy fast. And for the 10th straight time, the LAC beat the Lakers, burying them with a barrage of first half three-pointers. Final score, 133-115. The Lakers got 46 from LeBron James (who now has notched a 40 point game against every team in the league), but save a tidy 15 from Thomas Bryant didn't get much help.
Meanwhile, the Clippers again exposed the challenges faced by the shorthanded Lakers defending a team with that much wing size, something a player like Hachimura should help address (even if he's not arriving with the rep of a great defender).
What else will help? How about Anthony Davis?
ESPN's Dave McMenamin reported after the game that Davis, who has missed 5 1/2 weeks with a stress reaction in his foot,
25/01/2023 • 42 minutes 4 seconds
Trading for Rui Hachimura Could Signal the Lakers' Offseason Plans (Plus, Lakers vs. Clippers!)
The Lakers made the first notable trade of tradin' season Monday, acquiring Washington forward Rui Hachimura for three second round draft picks, plus guard Kendrick Nunn. We covered a lot of what Hachimura brings to the table in a special bonus episode of the podcast Monday afternoon, but to summarize:
Hachimura brings much more balance to the rotation, providing a wing who can score and much needed size in the place of a guard (Nunn) who won't play once Lonnie Walker and Austin Reaves return.
The price to acquire Hachimura was pretty low for a team that has multiple second-round picks.
Hachimura has been disappointing in Washington, but that franchise has been very unstable and not very competitive on the floor, which can definitely limit a young player's development. In LA, Hachimura won't have the pressure of bein ga lottery pick. he's just a dude here to play a role. Context matters.
LeBron makes a lot of guys better, if they can figure out how to play with him.
Now, it's a c
24/01/2023 • 40 minutes 2 seconds
Report: Lakers Acquire Washington Forward Rui Hachimura for Three 2nd Round Picks, Kendrick Nunn
With the Lakers showing real signs of life through major adversity following the disastrous 2-10 start, fans (and players, surely) have been hoping the front office would come through with some help for a roster of game-but-limited guys? For LeBron James, who has been balling out to keep the team afloat in the absence of Anthony Davis? Especially now that Davis could be back over the next week or so?
Monday, the Lakers pulled the trigger, reportedly agreeing to send Kendrick Nunn and three second round picks to the Washington Wizards for forward Rui Hachimura, the 9th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Is it a good deal? One that can move the needle for the Lakers as they try to climb back into the playoff race?
Well, if nothing else, it's a good balancing of the roster. The Lakers need size and athleticism up front (with some scoring punch) much more than they need Nunn, especially once Austin Reaves and Lonnie Walker IV are healthy and back. Hachimura is a restricted free agent following th
23/01/2023 • 18 minutes 17 seconds
The Lakers Overcome 25 Point Deficit, Beat Trail Blazers 121-112 Behind 37/11/4 From LeBron James
They always say that basketball is a game of runs.
The Lakers and Blazers took that to some serious extremes Sunday night in Portland. The Lakers got out to an 18-4 lead, and were then outscored 57-28 over the rest of the half, including 45-13 in the second quarter, the worst Q2 point differential in franchise history. LA came out of halftime, though, and plastered Portland, winning the third quarter by 20 points before running away with things in the fourth. As a result, the Lakers get their second big win of the weekend, and keep themselves in that tight bunch of teams muddying up the middle of the Western Conference.
LeBron James was huge, particularly in the second half, finishing with 37 points on only 24 field goal attempts, along with 11 rebounds, four dimes and two blocks. But he had plenty of help. Thomas Bryant scored a career high 31 points on only 15 shots, Dennis Schröder poured in 24 points and dished out eight assists, and Patrick Beverley's defensive energy on Damian Li
23/01/2023 • 36 minutes 56 seconds
Lakers Score Win over Grizzlies Behind LeBron, Westbrook, Schröder. Plus, Anthony Davis Back Soon?
Say what you want about the Lakers this season, about Darvin Ham's coaching, about Westbrook's efficiency, LeBron's 3-point shooting or anything else - they do not quit on games, even after a series of heartbreaking and often frustrating losses.
Friday at home against Memphis, winners of 11 straight games, that resolve was on full display. Because there were multiple opportunities for the Lakers to pat themselves on the back for a good effort and go ahead and fold up for the night, but they didn't. Memphis couldn't put the Lakers away, and in the end Dennis Schröder came up with a massive steal, bucket and free throw to give the Lakers a lead in the final moments.
And they held on!
This was a huge game not just in the standings, but also for morale, especially because it comes the same night there was positive news about Anthony Davis reported by multiple outlets. Davis, it appears, could be back as early as this time next week, rather than deeper into February. That give him a chance
21/01/2023 • 19 minutes 19 seconds
Should Rob Pelinka Make a Big Deadline Trade, or Big Offseason Moves? What's Better for the Lakers?
Trade season is starting to heat up, and while the Lakers aren't currently at the center of any big rumors (no, Cam Reddish chatter doesn't count), they're generally expected to do something in one form or another before the deadline. Because, if nothing else, they're the Lakers and under a ton of pressure to at least give the appearance of trying to provide LeBron James a fighting chance to compete.
This, of course, is all predicated on the idea that a) Anthony Davis will return at some point soon—Davis participated in parts of Thursday's practice and is at least trending in the right direction—and b) the Lakers are actually interested in trying to salvage this season, vs. waiting until the summer.
To that end, an interesting breakdown on the merits of "Now or Later?" on the Rob Pelinka Decision Tree was posted to Hoopshype by cap guru Yossi Gozlan. He lays out the case for making a move today. In essence, it's about maximizing the ability to spend more, whether on higher end players
20/01/2023 • 36 minutes 22 seconds
Lakers Again Can't Execute (plus LeBron Looks Tired) Down the Stretch, Lose 116-114 to Kings
The stat line wasn't bad by any stretch - 32 points, eight rebounds, nine assists, only one turnover - but for the first time in a while LeBron looked kinda mortal, and definitely seemed to be showing signs of wear from carrying the Lakers in the absence of Anthony Davis. Particularly down the stretch, the legs and movement weren't really there and the Lakers had no real Plan B. So once again, bad late game execution turned a winnable game, one the Lakers were up huge in the first quarter, into a frustrating loss.
116-111 was the final.
The final five minutes were again a tire fire, featuring a parade of late-clock three-pointers and precious few actual points. Meanwhile, Sacramento, playing without star center Domantas Sabonis, found ways to get critical buckets when they were needed, whether from De'Aaron Fox (who routinely torches the Lakers these days) or Harrison Barnes (who wasn't efficient, but had a critical and-one along with a couple timely triples).
After the game, Darvin Ha
19/01/2023 • 37 minutes 8 seconds
Why Anthony Davis Is the Cause of and the Solution to All the Lakers' Problems
The trade deadline is not all that far off, and at the least, Trade Chatter Season is well underway. Which is why it's so strange that a few recent reports about the current state of the market didn't just say the Lakers were, for the time being, quiet. They just kind of skipped the Lakers altogether. That's an unusual spot for LA to be, because the Lakers, if nothing else, are usually the team that sources around the league throw into conversations just to get the juices flowing. They're the leverage team, because it's always at least kinda plausible the Lakers would be interested in whatever player is being discussed.
But for now? Crickets.
That doesn't meant the Lakers aren't trying, but at least as things stand in mid-January, it's fair to say that the hopes and dreams for the team on how the market would play out as the season went along (the kind of hopes that prompted them to pass on potential deals this summer/during training camp) haven't panned out. It's actually been a night
18/01/2023 • 37 minutes 25 seconds
LeBron James Carries the Lakers Past Rockets. How Long Before Anthony Davis Returns to Help?
Watching LeBron James these days is, from a basketball standpoint, a blessing. Seeing any player, let alone a 38-year old, post the kind of numbers he has over the last month or so is genuine fun. You can't love watching the NBA and appreciate incredible athletic achievement without finding this run incredible.
For Lakers fans, though, it's also a little uncomfortable. Because he is, unquestionably, putting out a tremendous amount of effort for the Lakers to to tread water while Anthony Davis remains sidelined. (The Lakers are currently 9-8 since Davis went down, which is pretty impressive given the other injuries the team has faced.) Is there a limit to this? At some point, does he hit a wall, where the production can't be sustained at this level? Does the body break down? If so, where exactly does that leave the team?
The same context that makes his play so engaging is what makes it unsettling.
How far are they from having a roster that can compete consistently with the big dogs in t
17/01/2023 • 37 minutes 14 seconds
The Lakers Lose to Sixers, as Darvin Ham's Coaching Decisions Under Fire
All things considered, the Lakers played a pretty good game Sunday. LeBron James, who crossed the 38K threshold for career points, was excellent (35/8/10/1/1 on 15-24 shooting). Russell Westbrook was (for the most part) good until the last 14 seconds. (More on that in a minute.) The Lakers got contributions from Wenyen Gabriel, Troy Brown and more as they went toe-to-toe with one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference before losing 113-112.
But that final possession was as bad as any possession can be. With 14 seconds remaining, the Westbrook rebounded a Joel Embiid miss, and pushed the ball up the court. Darvin Ham elected not to call timeout. Westbrook never gave up the ball, dribbling down the clock trying to break down Embiid. In the end, it was hard to tell if the thing Westbrook kinda sorta threw up near the bucket was a pass for Gabriel or a shot (Westbrook for his part focused more on the fact he thought he was fouled doing whatever it was he was doing).
James never touc
16/01/2023 • 36 minutes 19 seconds
LeBron and Westbrook Run Out of Gas, Lakers Lose in Double OT to the Mavericks
The Lakers were again shorthanded Thursday vs. Dallas (no Davis, Reaves or Beverley) and fell behind by 19 points in the first quarter. Not exactly a great way to start a stretch of critical home games. To their credit, the Lakers fought back, despite Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic doing superstar things. LeBron James and Russell Westbrook pushed hard to the basket, Wenyen Gabriel played arguably his best game as a Laker. Max Christie was a strong presence making only his second career start. Even Kendrick Nunn had a couple of big buckets.
But the Lakers missed 31 three-pointers (including Lebron's 0-7), and were only 17-27 from the free throw line.
It's hard to win with those numbers. And ultimately, when they couldn't steal the win in regulation, Doncic had more left in the tank then LeBron, and, if you want to include him, Westbrook, too. That's the downside of having your best players deep into their 30s, vs. one of the rising young players in the NBA. And, it should be noted, any
13/01/2023 • 37 minutes 2 seconds
Has Russell Westbrook Been Good, Bad or Both for the Lakers This Season? (Plus 2nd Half Predictions)...
It's an easy question to ask, and a really hard one to answer.
Is Russell Westbrook playing well for the Lakers this season?
Ask 100 Lakers fans and you'll get 100 different answers, in part because even before the trade that brought Westbrook to Los Angeles, even before his genuinely disastrous first season in a Lakers uniform, Westbrook already was already a polarizing figure in the NBA community. Like Kobe, Westbrook for many is an avatar for larger conversations about how basketball should be played, and what ought to be valued. He's often been at the center of the divide between "old school" and "new school" analysts, or folks who just kinda don't like the guy and find him abrasive.
So there's no question he's not worth $47 million.
There's no question the trade was a horrible idea, and could haunt the Lakers for years.
But none of that is really related to answering the question of how well Westbrook is playing. For starters, well compared to who? Compared to what? What's the rig
12/01/2023 • 40 minutes 1 second
Lakers at the Halfway Point: Grades for Darvin Ham, Biggest Surprise, Biggest Disappointment, and more!
The Lakers wrapped up the first half of their season Monday, losing in Denver on a night where LeBron, Anthony Davis, and so many other players were in street clothes that rookie Cole Swider was pressed into big minutes. The result was hardly a surprise. But after, Darvin Ham was asked about the first half of the season. He noted the tough start, and the fact the Lakers have lost a bunch of games they should have won. Disappointed as he clearly is to be three games under .500 at the midpoint, Ham expressed a belief that the team is trending in the right direction, and is better than the record suggests.
Progress, after all, has been made under still-challenging conditions. Because a 2-10 start is a heck of a hole to put yourself in as a team.
So is he right to be optimistic about the final 41 games?
While all the normal caveats remain - nobody knows when Anthony Davis plays again, or if he'll stay healthy once he does, LeBron is 38, the supporting cast is largely untested, and so on -
11/01/2023 • 39 minutes 31 seconds
The Lakers lose to the Nuggets, and get an Update on Anthony Davis' Possible Return.
Winners of five straight, the Lakers basically made a calculated sacrifice of that accomplishment, going into Denver Monday night and electing to give LeBron James, struggling with any number of physical maladies despite MVP-level play, the night off.
But without Austin Reaves, Lonnie Walker IV, Troy Brown Jr. and, of course, Anthony Davis, there was a very, very good chance the Lakers (despite playing so well of late) would have lost in Denver even if LeBron had played. And now he'll get a chance to rest until Thursday's game at home vs. Dallas. Four full days off (Sunday-Wednesday) is about as much rest as an NBA season provides, while only missing one game. So the Lakers were wise to take advantage, something easier to do now that they've regained contact with the rest of the conference.
Still, despite a home heavy stretch through the end of the month, the Lakers still face a stiff challenge to keep the momentum going while so many players are out. And to make matters worse, Pat Bev
10/01/2023 • 31 minutes 8 seconds
LeBron James is Putting More Pressure on the Front Office as the Lakers Win More Games
The Lakers have won five straight at a time when the rest of the conference is slumping. The Suns and Clippers have both lost six straight. The Jazz are sliding, the Blazers with them. as a result, the Lakers aren't just in contact with the play-in, they're creeping up on the real live playoff teams. Just a couple games back of the five spot.
That's a ton of unexpected progress at a time when, with Anthony Davis (and more!) on the sidelines, the Lakers just weren't thought of as a competitive team.
Yet here we are! And with that, LeBron James is cranking up the heat on the team's front office to kick it into high gear and make some trades to help improve the roster. Not later, not next season, now. In a walk-and-talk following Saturday's win over Sacramento with The Athletic's Sam Amick, LeBron said without saying that he thinks the front office should make a move. Sunday on Twitter, he tried to dial it back, but even a generous reading of the conversation (printed in full at The Athle
09/01/2023 • 38 minutes 26 seconds
Despite Davis, Reaves, Walker, and Brown injured, Lakers Beat Hawks Behind 25/7/10 from LeBron James
The day started poorly for the Lakers, who announced that Austin Reaves (hamstring) and Lonnie Walker IV (knee) will miss the next two weeks (at least), and meanwhile Troy Brown (quad) wouldn't be able to play Friday against the Hawks at Crypto. The Lakers were down so many bodies they signed veteran SG/SF Sterling Brown (not the actor), and had him suit up.
So would the Lakers suffer on the court, giving back a game after a fantastic win Wednesday over Miami?
Absolutely not! LeBron James was again excellent, but he had tons of help. Dennis Schröder stayed hot, scoring 21 points. Thomas Bryant was 8-12 from the floor, and had 13 rebounds. Russell Westbrook was strong, and Kendrick Nunn (remember him?) had easily his best game as a Laker. 23 points in just under 27 minutes. With so many guys on the shelf, Nunn will get more minutes now out of necessity, and doesn't need to look over his shoulder quite as much. Maybe that's the thing that can help him reach the form that prompted the Lak
07/01/2023 • 20 minutes 55 seconds
Optimism Around Anthony Davis's Return? And How Much Help Do A.D. and LeBron James Really Need?
After a genuinely horrendous 2-10 start to the season, the Lakers have managed to play winning basketball more than not. Now 17-21, they've moved themselves back into spitting distance of the magic 10 seed in the Western Conference. Not exactly the goal, but the bare minimum of what's required to have a shot at the postseason. So with decent news coming out of El Segundo regarding Anthony Davis—his recovery seems to be going as well as anyone could expect, with no discernible setbacks—and LeBron James playing like a 28-year old, not a 38-year old, there is a renewed focus on the supporting cast.
Wednesday's win over Miami was, definitionally, all supporting cast. No A.D., no James. All that's left are the other guys, and between 32 points from Dennis Schroder, generally solid play from Russell Westbrook, another good game from Thomas Bryant and continuing contributions from Austin Reaves, the Lakers got enough to squeak past a Heat squad at full strength.
So what does that say about th
06/01/2023 • 36 minutes 58 seconds
Lakers Beat Miami ! Schröder-Fest! Plus, what's the future for LeBron, Davis and Westbrook in LA? Guest: John Nichols (aka, LaJethro Jenkins)
No LeBron James, no Anthony Davis, no Lonnie Walker IV, no Troy Brown Jr. in the second half... no problem for the Lakers. Behind 32 points from Dennis Schröder, the Lakers scored their most improbable win of the season, 112-109 over the Miami Heat at the Crypt. The Lakers played an incredibly gritty game, fighting off multiple pushes from a Heat squad playing basically at full strength.
The win, which steals one back for the Lakers from the pile of games they had no business losing, moves the team to 17-21, with the Hawks coming to town on Friday.
So the Lakers, after that 2-10 start, have gone a much more respectable 15-11. It's not a pace that would make the 73-win Warriors blush, but it's not nothing, either. Especially given the choppy health of the roster (most notably, an injured Anthony Davis). So is this team worth trying to rescue? Should Rob Pelinka go all in around the Davis/James core? Even if it costs every asset left in the cupboard?
We talk about this and more with John
05/01/2023 • 41 minutes 33 seconds
Westbrook For 6th Man of the Year? Could LeBron Enter the MVP Race? Plus, Lakers Trade Targets!
Our friends at Betonline have put out a fresh set of odds for postseason awards, as teams near the halfway point of the NBA season (it's coming quickly, folks). What's interesting about the Lakers in this area is, primarily, that so few Lakers are even mentioned. Guys like Anthony Davis, who had briefly put themselves on the board for MVP and Defensive Player of the Year, are now off it. Only Russell Westbrook remains, and not only is he a betting favorite for Sixth Man of the Year, he's the betting favorite.
Should he be?
It's certainly a strange year for 6MOY, without a ton of obvious candidates on really strong teams. And certainly Westbrook has made a good pitch, and has a compelling narrative (and we can tell you, narrative is a huge factor in media-driven awards). But would someone like Jordan Poole (Golden State) or Malcolm Brogdon (Boston) be more worthy? Will the same media priming Westbrook now for the award grow tired of him, especially if the Lakers slide out of the playoff
04/01/2023 • 35 minutes 49 seconds
LeBron James Scores 43 Points as the Lakers Beat Hornets, but Russell Westbrook Injured.
The Lakers needed a win in Charlotte to finish out the road trip, and they got it. 121-115 over the (very, very bad) Hornets, behind yet another MVP-caliber performance from LeBron James, whose hot streak is rolling on unabated. 43 points, 11 rebounds, six assists. 16-26 from the floor, including 0-5 from 3-point range, giving an idea of just how strong James was from inside the arc (and at the rim, particularly). Over the team's last 10 games, James is averaging 33.4 points on 58 percent shooting. He's certainly keeping the Lakers afloat without Anthony Davis...
...but how long exactly can James keep this going, at this level? Are the minutes unsustainable (up around 40 in the last two, close to 37 overall over the last month)?
One wrinkle - Russell Westbrook left Monday's game with a foot injury, and his status going forward isn't known. While the Lakers have had some problems getting those two working at maximum efficiency, not having Westbrook at all would put that much more pressu
03/01/2023 • 38 minutes 35 seconds
Anthony Davis Explains His Injury... But Not When He'll Return. Can LeBron Keep the Lakers Going?
The Lakers had a busy weekend. LeBron James celebrated his 38th birthday in Atlanta by burying the Hawks in an avalanche of high end, classic James performance. 47 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, on 18-27 from the floor. LeBron, who had a slow-by-his-standards start to the season, is now putting up numbers eerily similar to his career stats. He is, in short, balling at a very high level, particularly over the last 10 games.
But can he continue at that level in a January where the Lakers need to start making moves in the Western Conference to insert themselves back into the playoff race out West?
Particularly when, as we learned before the game, Anthony Davis is still a giant question mark. Davis spoke to the media in Atlanta, and broke down his breakdown. There's a stress injury in the foot and a bone spur in the ankle. The pain is starting to dissipate, but hasn't gone away completely. He wasn't willing/able to put any sort of timetable on a return to play. It seems unlikely any
02/01/2023 • 38 minutes 32 seconds
Can the Lakers Make a Trade to Help LeBron? And what's LeBron's Trade Value, if he Requests One?
Reports currently forecast Anthony Davis will be sidelined through mid-January... at the earliest. So maybe that's the next 10 or so games, maybe 15, if we're all being reasonably optimistic, based on current information. Where will the Lakers be when he returns? How much time would they have to integrate new parts, even if the team actually made a deal?
Does the record even matter, or has the braintrust already made up its mind, short of some sort of miracle development on the trade market?
And now that LeBron James has made it abundantly clear he wants/expects to play meaningful basketball games, the kind occurring in playoff series, in his final seasons, how does that factor in? Do the Lakers need to consider LeBron's comments as February's trade deadline approaches? Is there even a meaningful deal out there to make?
Are the Lakers more frightened of making a deal or standing pat? How much confidence do they have in the Davis/James core? If they're shaky, whats the taste for risk in
30/12/2022 • 35 minutes 59 seconds
LeBron James Sends Message to Lakers: He Wants to Play for Championships... Or At Least Win Games.
The Lakers lost Wednesday in Miami, on the second night of a back-to-back. While they gave themselves a shot in the fourth, too much damage had already been done thanks to a massive amount of turnovers (26) and a massive disparity in second chance points. LeBron James played well, turnovers notwithstanding, and the Lakers got unexpected production from Juan Toscano-Anderson (back from injury) and Troy Brown Jr... but Lonnie Walker IV and Austin Reaves were both scoreless, which helps explain why the team struggled offensively.
So the Lakers lost a game that, with more focus, they could have won, but at the same time, seemed like a good candidate to lose heading in, given the context.
What happened after, when LeBron met the media, was much more interesting.
James, asked to reflect on turning 38 later this week, and what he sees as his basketball future, made it very clear that he still believes he can play at an elite level, and that with the right pieces around him can win titles. And
29/12/2022 • 38 minutes 23 seconds
The Lakers Get a Badly Needed Win in Orlando Behind (Tweet Deleter) LeBron James and... Patrick Beverley?
LeBron James entered Tuesday's game in Orlando with the NBA's longest active streak of scoring 30+ points in a game. That came to an end for the Lakers, in the best way possible. James was excellent against the Magic, but he had lots of help in LA's 129-110 win. The Lakers just didn't need to be carried in quite the same way, and for one night at least, that's good news.
Particularly given that the Lakers play again tonight in Miami.
Against the Magic, who entered having won nine-of-ten, the Lakers had six players reach double digits, including Troy Brown Jr. (who exploded for 15, his first double-digit performance since November) and 21 from Thomas Bryant (who continues to play well in part by staying in his lane - taking 3-pointers, rim running and leaning into the pick-and-roll.
And perhaps most significantly? Patrick Beverley continues his run of quiet good play, reaching double digits for the fourth time in the last six games. For the month, Beverley is shooting nearly 40% from 3-
28/12/2022 • 37 minutes 35 seconds
What Do the Lakers Owe LeBron James? Is Rob Pelinka Not Keeping Promises?
The 2022-23 Lakers are in deep trouble, but are also, by all indications, in a holding pattern when it comes to making deals to try and rescue this season. As they head into Tuesday's tilt with Orlando seven games under .500 and staring down a long stretch without Anthony Davis, the prospect of another disaster of a season has people asking whether the Lakers are wasting the best/rest of LeBron James's career.
What do they owe him? Did Rob Pelinka really make a commitment ahead of training camp to do anything to try and win while he's here?
How big a commitment did James make to the Lakers, really? Yes, he signed an extension, but just for a year, plus an option. It's not like he created some sort of blood pact with the team. But all of this begs more questions. Are the Lakers correct in holding tight, even if it makes them look bad in the reflection of their own history, with Team James, and in some media circles? If they're correct about this, does it change the basic calculus about
27/12/2022 • 37 minutes 12 seconds
The Lakers Lose to the Mavericks on Christmas, and are Struggling Without Anthony Davis
Coming off one of the season's more frustrating losses Friday at home to Charlotte, the Lakers kicked off a five game road trip with a Christmas Day tilt in Dallas. It started well. It didn't finish that way. An 11-point halftime lead was erased in humiliating fashion, as the Mavericks outscored the Lakers by 30 points in the third quarter. 30. 51-21. That's a one-quarter point differential that hadn't been seen in decades, and it was enough to effectively bury the Lakers.
This despite a great game from LeBron James, who scored an efficient 38 points, took care of the ball, distributed, and so on. The rest of the starting lineup, though, offered nothing. Only two other Lakers players (Westbrook, Reaves) cracked double figures. It was simply not enough support. The Lakers continue to struggle without Anthony Davis, falling to 1-4 since he hurt his foot.
The Lakers struggle to score and struggle to defend without Davis, adn after the Lakers announced that Davis will be out indefinitely,
26/12/2022 • 37 minutes 25 seconds
The Lakers' Four Options for Trades and Fixing The Roster. Plus, LeBron Posts A Cryptic Tweet!
The Lakers finish out the year with (stop us if you've heard this before) basically a must-win home game against a lousy Charlotte team tonight, then a very winnable road trip against Dallas (a .500 team), Orlando (a bad team), Miami (a .500 team), Atlanta (a .500 team) and Charlotte (as noted, lousy). Are they gonna sweep? Get swept? Split? No idea, but as far as NBA road trips go, this is about as favorable as they come.
And the Lakers are getting a bit of good news, too. LeBron James and Russell Westbrook are expected to play tonight, and Austin Reaves has been upgraded to questionable. Maybe that means he needs another game, but it signals availability on Christmas, and through the road trip. And how the team fares will have a significant impact on its attitude about trades. Here, they have basically four options:
Do something on the margins this year, maybe for an expendable contract and a second round pick, but nothing that sacrifices the big stuff or moves the needle all that
23/12/2022 • 34 minutes 24 seconds
Why Haven't the Lakers Issued an Update On Anthony Davis' Foot Injury? Is That a Bad Sign?
Sometimes no news is good news. But other times, no news is nerve-wracking, and sets off all sorts of alarm bells. Like when the news nobody is getting is about Anthony Davis and his health, following a foot injury last week that seemed innocent enough at the time. The Lakers were reportedly going to deliver an update on Monday... and we all went to bed Wednesday night without anything. Not even the now-standard "will be re-evaluated in X number of weeks." There's not even an official diagnosis.
Fans can be forgiven for assuming the news may not be good.
Nobody necessarily expects him to miraculously appear on the floor Friday or on Christmas, but the longer they go with radio silence, the more concerned Lakers fans will get. Maybe they clear it all up on Thursday!
On the floor, meanwhile, a Lakers squad missing AD, Russell Westbrook, Austin Reaves and Juan Toscano-Anderson took it on the chin in Sacramento, losing 130-114, in a game the home team generally controlled throughout and th
22/12/2022 • 40 minutes 12 seconds
The Lakers are Chasing the Kings in the West. How Legit Is Sacramento? Guest: Matt George!
The Lakers, definitely without Anthony Davis and possibly without Austin Reaves and Russell Westbrook, face a Sacramento squad Wednesday that might be without star center Domantas Sabonis and veteran forward Harrison Barnes. So maybe the Lakers catch a break, maybe they don't, but either way the game represents the changing nature of the Western Conference, where upstarts like Sacramento, New Orleans and Utah are making unexpected noise early.
So what should Lakers fans make of the newly competent Kings? Is this a group with staying power? Assuming they have a full lineup, how will they attack the Davis-less Lakers?
Joining us to break it all down is Matt George, host of Locked On Kings.
We start with the team. What accounts for the turnaround? There are a few factors, but it chief among them is the play of Sabonis, who is the focal point on both ends and has been posting cartoonish numbers, particularly over the last month. Mike Brown, he of former Lakers head coach fame, has had an e
21/12/2022 • 39 minutes 50 seconds
How Does Anthony Davis' Injury Impact The Lakers Moving Forward? Will Rob Pelinka Make a Trade?
Monday night in Phoenix, the Lakers were without Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Austin Reaves and Russell Westbrook. Sure, Patrick Beverley and Wenyen Gabriel were back in the lineup, but that wasn't nearly enough and predictably, the Lakers lost big to the Suns. It was in many ways a scheduled loss, and it seems Darvin Ham might have had his eye on keeping James healty heading into Wednesday's game against Sacramento, and then Friday's very winnable game against the Hornets.
Why does all of this matter? Because the Lakers can justify thinking that they're too far behind to make real noise in the West, especially with Davis set to miss a lot of time. But they can also justify thinking that, based on recent results, if they can hang in there long enough while Davis is hurt, the Lakers can play with anyone. So do they make a trade? Do they hold off until the offseason, and try to build then? What exactly is available to them now, anyway? Have they closed off avenues that once were open?
20/12/2022 • 36 minutes 49 seconds
LeBron James Leads Lakers Past Wizards. Can They Keep Winning Without an injured Anthony Davis?
The Lakers won Friday against Denver with Anthony Davis on the sidelines for most of the game. Sunday, news broke that Davis is expected to miss about a month because of a foot injury (no official confirmation from the team, yet, but an announcement of some sort is expected Monday). Sunday night, the Lakers beat a struggling Wizards team at the Crypt, 119-117. Without question, they caught some breaks, and benefitted from the general terribleness of their opponent.
That said, the Lakers also did a lot of things right. For starters, LeBron James (33/7/9, no turnovers) was excellent. But the team also got contributions from Thomas Bryant (16/10, including two 3-pointers), Lonnie Walker (21 points), and Dennis Schroder (12/7). Max Christie played 24 minutes, and hit a pair of 3's while guarding both Bradley Beal and Kyle Kuzma (not at the same time) down the stretch.
The Lakers pushed pace, hit some threes, and didn't turn the ball over. That's the formula they need to try and repeat goin
19/12/2022 • 39 minutes 4 seconds
BONUS EPISODE! Lakers Beat Denver as Anthony Davis Exits Early With a Foot Injury
There was good news and bad news Friday at the Crypt. The Lakers, coming off an incredibly frustrating loss to Boston Tuesday night, bounced back with a decisive win over a very good Denver team, 126-108. LeBron James was incredible, finishing with 30 points, nine rebounds and four assists, on a tidy 13-20 from the floor. Russell Westbrook finished with a triple double (15/11/12) and didn't turn the ball over in the second half. Austin Reaves had 16, Dennis Schroder had 15, and Pat Beverley (10/4/5) played his best game as a Laker.
Heck, even Thomas Bryant had 21 points, on 9-11 shooting.
Which leads to the bad news. Why was Bryant playing so much? Because Anthony Davis left the game at halftime and didn't return, after injuring his foot in the first half. It didn't look like much at the time (so much so that it took the TV folks a minute or two to figure out when the injury even happened), but Davis was clearly uncomfortable, and once the teams got to the break wasn't able to continue
17/12/2022 • 20 minutes 52 seconds
Anthony Davis vs. Nikola Jokic: Lakers-Nuggets is FUN!!! Plus, Trading for Kyle Kuzma?
The Lakers play a big game on Friday, welcoming Denver to the Crypt. Given the schedule for the rest of the month —decidedly short on home games—and their current record—not very good—it's about as close to a must-win as December games get. And their track record following disappointing games like the Boston loss on Tuesday is pretty good! So there are reasons to believe the Lakers will, at the least, put on a credible show. But from a fan's standpoint, there's also the matchup between Denver's Nikola Jokic and Anthony Davis. Two of the more remarkably skilled players going head to head, with different skill sets and styles. AD has faced off with Giannis and Embiid recently, and now gets the fourth of the four great bigs in the NBA right now (Davis being the fourth, given his play over the last month).
It's a moment to appreciate just how good these athletes are, and the truly remarkable things they can do. It can be hard to divorce results from stuff like this, but even in moments of
16/12/2022 • 33 minutes 38 seconds
Remove Patrick Beverley From the Lakers Starting Lineup... Plus, Other Rotation Suggestions for Darvin Ham
After the Lakers gave up a 13 point fourth quarter lead to the Celtics, this after mounting a huge comeback to overcome a 20-point deficit, coach Darvin Ham noted that one problem the team has is falling behind early. Stop doing that, and you don't need to expend the energy for furious comebacks, and maybe it'll be easier to hold leads late.
Fair enough! And if that's the case, one way to solve the problem is change who starts, because the Lakers are consistently a terrible first quarter team. One of the NBA's worst. And a big issue there is Patrick Beverley. While the vet has been a positive defensively when put in the right situations, he's been a disaster on the other end, and it's dragging the team down. Especially if Ham wants to keep Dennis Schroder in the starting lineup as well. The data shows the two of them are a tragic combo for the Lakers. (Things get even worse when Ham uses three small-guard lineups, that might add Russell Westbrook or Kendrick Nunn.)
Is it all his fault?
15/12/2022 • 34 minutes 4 seconds
The Lakers Waste Huge Comeback (and Performances from Anthony Davis, LeBron) vs. Celtics, Lose in OT
When does a great comeback morph into a massive disappointment? How about when you lose a 13-point lead with about 4:30 left in the fourth quarter, as the Lakers did Tuesday against Boston. This after coming back from a 20-point third quarter deficit. But ultimately, the Lakers lost in overtime, 122-118, falling to 11-16 on the season. Anthony Davis, aside from a pair of critical free throws he missed with under a minute to go, was again strong. LeBron James played arguably his best game of the season, taking into consideration the competition.
Both guys played basically the entire second half, and all of OT. 46 minutes for AD, 43 for LeBron. That's a lot of energy used without a victory to show for it.
So great, the Lakers played another top level team tough, and had a chance to win. But bigger picture, they didn't, and more importantly, at this point it's fair to say the Lakers have a major problem closing games. Whether you're talking about Tuesday vs. Boston, games against Sacramen
14/12/2022 • 35 minutes 14 seconds
Lakers vs. Celtics Preview: Can Anthony Davis and LeBron Slow Down Tatum and Brown?
Lakers vs. Celtics! It always means something, even when the teams aren't competing for titles against each other. And Tuesday's edition at the Crypt is poised to be a fascinating game for L.A., especially. They've shown signs of life, but have a lot of ground to make up to get back to .500, and challenge for a playoff spot. After beating Milwaukee on the road trip - the East's second best team - can they beat the NBA's best? It's a big measuring stick game, as well as an important one in the standings as the Lakers make their way through a brutal December schedule.
To break it all down, we welcome the great John Karalis, host of Locked On Celtics!
We start by looking at the rivalry itself. What does it mean to today's players, especially these Celtics? Does this game mean a little more, even to a younger generation of players who haven't played a Finals vs. LA? Meanwhile, why have the Celtics been so good bouncing back from a turmoil-heavy offseason? One that made the regular controve
13/12/2022 • 39 minutes 29 seconds
LeBron, Anthony Davis and the Lakers Finish the Road Trip 3-3, Beat Pistons 124-117
The Lakers needed a win Sunday to finish off their first extended road trip at 3-3, and behind strong performances from Anthony Davis (34/15/7/2/1) and LeBron James (35/5/5, plus a steal), who combined to shoot 26-42 from the floor as L.A. knocked off Detroit 123-117. They left town four games under .500, and return four games under .500. That was a fair goal before the trip started... so why does the result feel vaguely disappointing?
What about the game itself? While Davis finished with strong numbers, the Lakers actually played well in the first half without the team having to rely on AD carrying them. The two-man game between LeBron and Russell Westbrook was particularly effective, which is always a welcome sight given how much that pairing has struggled together. Lonnie Walker looked good, and Austin Reaves nailed a couple massive three-pointers. The Lakers also got the full Pat Beverley experience (good and bad) and may have watched an incredibly effective and compelling audition
12/12/2022 • 37 minutes 29 seconds
Anthony Davis Fights Foul Trouble as the Lakers Lose in Overtime to 76ers
With Anthony Davis in foul trouble and LeBron James struggling in the fourth quarter, the Lakers didn't deserve to win Friday night in Philadelphia, but the Sixers tried really hard to give it to them, anyway. Unfortunately, they refused to accept, and lost 133-122 in overtime. Anthony Davis was incredible in the fourth quarter, but missed a free throw to win at the end of regulation. Austin Reaves missed a critical free throw down the stretch as well. And to their credit, the Lakers didn't quit when Philadelphia had a big lead with under a minute to play.
But good teams accept gifts when they're given, and steal wins they shouldn't. If this team is supposed to be considered good, then the Lakers can't let games like this slip away. It was one of the strangest, most entertaining, and ultimately frustrating games the Lakers played in a while. And losing - the Lakers scored a grand total of two points in OT - even in a game where the Lakers fought admirably, ultimately hurts for a team t
10/12/2022 • 23 minutes 15 seconds
Trade Talk! Who Can the Lakers Get for Russell Westbrook, Patrick Beverley and/or Kendrick Nunn?
December 15th is approaching fast. That's the day the NBA's trade market opens up wider, as players (like Patrick Beverley) who signed contracts last summer can be traded. So what could be coming for the Lakers? It's fairly common knowledge that the Lakers would be willing to package Kendrick Nunn with Beverley in an effort to bring in some help, in a move that could be helpful if less splashy than trading Russell Westbrook. But what does that look like? What kind of player would the Lakers get in return? Is it a matter of taking on long term salary? Giving up one pick instead of two?
Are there any potential deals where the Lakers could actually demand draft capital come to them?
And regarding Westbrook, how has his play changed the context of a deal? It's no longer addition by subtraction, given the success Russ has found as a sixth man. And meanwhile, the context around the league has also changed. Are the Pacers, for example, in any hurry to trade Buddy Hield and Myles Turner, given
09/12/2022 • 36 minutes 14 seconds
No LeBron James, No Anthony Davis, No Win for the Lakers vs. Toronto Raptors
The Lakers were missing LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Patrick Beverley and Wenyen Gabriel Wednesday in Toronto. Juan Toscano-Anderson, who started the game after barely hitting the court for most of the season, turned an ankle. So it's no surprise the Lakers found themselves down by 20 (give or take) relatively quickly, and for most of the game before ultimately losing by 13, 126-113. They didn't do anything wrong, really, and there were again some highlights (16 points for Thomas Bryant on only five FGAs, for example), but in the end, what happened was exactly what most people would have expected.
So the Lakers are again four games under .500, looking at a gimpy LeBron, an under-the-weather A.D., an already-out Gabriel... is there a risk of losing the momentum they built up after winning eight of ten? Is there extra pressure to push through, trying to capitalize on the positive momentum they created, and got everyone so excited?
How do the Lakers balance the long haul vs. the shorter t
08/12/2022 • 34 minutes 24 seconds
Lakers Lose to Cavaliers as Anthony Davis Exits Early With Fever. Plus, Why is Pat Beverley Starting?
Eight minutes into Tuesday's game in Cleveland, Anthony Davis went to the locker room. Surely most Lakers fans freaked out, given AD's injury history, but this turned out to be (relatively) benign - flu like symptoms. Davis apparently had a 101-degree fever. Nothing that should keep him out long-term. That said, when Davis left the game, the Lakers chances of winning diminished significantly, especially with Wenyen Gabriel out as well (shoulder).
So shorthanded, the Lakers stuck with one of the NBA's best teams, a squad that had lost one game on its home floor. Only with a late fourth quarter push were the Cavs able to put the Lakers away. This despite LA shooting barely 16% from 3-point range, and (aside from Thomas Bryant) struggling to score efficiently.
They hung in thanks to a combination of effort and confidence, finding ways to make a play whenever Cleveland made a push. After, though, nobody was particularly impressed. LeBron noted that this is how they expect to play. There wa
07/12/2022 • 36 minutes 7 seconds
Guest Nick Lagios on How The Lakers' Scouting Dept. Succeeds, and the NBA Building a Presence in Mexico
The Lakers are rolling of late, but with an off-day between Sunday's win over the Wizards and upcoming back-to-back games in Cleveland and Toronto, the Kamenetzkys thought it was a good time for a different conversation earmarked for a while on this show. The NBA is both looking to build its global footprint and G-League's profile, and these goals meet with the Capitanes, the NBA's team in Mexico City. Now a little more than year into its existence as a full member of the league, General Manager Nick Lagios has been tasked with turning this squad into a sought-after destination for players looking to showcase themselves for NBA scouts, as well as help the larger goal of making the NBA in Central America a viable concept.
It's no easy assignment, but it undoubtedly helped that Lagios gained experience working several years inside the Lakers, whether for the South Bay Lakers or the big club, with jobs ranging from video intern with the lakers (just like Frank Vogel!) to Director of Baske
06/12/2022 • 36 minutes 24 seconds
Anthony Davis Scores 55 as the Lakers Beat Wizards. Plus, DeRozan/Vucevic to L.A.?
The first long road trip of the season is off to a perfect start for the Lakers, who followed up Friday's win over Milwaukee with another victory, this time beating the Wizards 130-119 in Washington, a game the Lakers basically led throughout. It was another monumentally dominant performance from Anthony Davis, who laid a double nickel on the Wiz (that's 55 points to the uninitiated) along with 17 rebounds and three blocked shots. All of this on an uber-efficient 22-30 from the floor.
LeBron James, meanwhile, had another very strong game (29/8/6), and Lonnie Walker IV chipped in with 20 points. The Lakers have now won eight of ten, and crept to within two games of .500 and ever so close to the mix of teams in the Western Conference's (early season) playoff conversation.
The dominance of Davis makes many things the Lakers do seemingly less important. On another night against another team, for example, maybe Darvin Ham's choice for starting lineups, and maybe even closing lineups, which
05/12/2022 • 35 minutes 15 seconds
BONUS EPISODE: Anthony Davis Scores 44 Points as the Lakers Score a Huge Win Against Bucks!
The Lakers kicked off their first big road trip of the season in spectacular fashion, winning their best game of this season and probably last year as well, 133-129 over the Bucks in Milwaukee. Once again, it was Anthony Davis leading the way. This time, he blew up for 44 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots, extending an eye-popping, MVP caliber run to eight games. The Lakers got plenty from the rest of the squad, including 27/11 from LeBron James, 11 dimes from Russell Westbrook (who had assists on his first five possessions Friday night), and Lonnie Walker IV, who poured in 14 points in the third quarter.
Basically, every Laker who stepped on the floor brought something useful to the table. Now winners of seven games in their last nine tries, the Lakers go to Washington on Sunday with a real chance to turn this road trip into something special.
It's been a minute, but Lakers fans might actually be excited about the team. Like, legitimately looking forward to the next game.
03/12/2022 • 21 minutes 48 seconds
How Good Do the Lakers Need to be During a Brutal December Schedule?
The Lakers have won six of their last eight games, and now head out on the road for their first extended road trip of the season. Six games, five coming against teams currently good enough to qualify for the playoffs, in one form or another (Milwaukee, Washington, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Toronto) and a sixth (Detroit) coming at the end of the trip. This long roadie is just one bit of a brutal December schedule that includes only four home games, over 10,000 miles of travel and a ton of playoff-caliber opponents.
While they've made some progress, it'll be a big thing for the Lakers to avoid losing ground to the rest of the conference between now and the new year.
So how good is good enough, whether on the trip or for the month more broadly? Is 3-3 enough? 8-8 for December? How far below those marks can the Lakers go without causing too much damage, since they're entering the month four games under .500 at 8-12?
Are they capable of playing consistently enough to tread water until things
02/12/2022 • 37 minutes 47 seconds
The Lakers Bounce Back, Beat Portland 128-109 Behind Anthony Davis, LeBron James and Austin Reaves
The Lakers played three great quarters against Indiana Monday, before blowing a huge lead in the fourth quarter. Wednesday against Portland, they again built up a huge lead in the final period, but decided this time to finish strong. The result: a 128-109 win over Portland at the Crypt. It was a huge bounce back for the team, fueled by a strong game from LeBron James (31 points on only 18 shots), Anthony Davis (27/12 with three blocks) and Austin Reaves (22 points), who continued his strong play through November.
This was exactly what the Lakers needed to restore a little confidence before heading out for the first extended road trip of the season, starting Friday in Milwaukee.
Davis and James found a great formula in the fourth quarter, as well, a place where James has often been inefficient and Davis has flat disappeared. 23 points between the two (with Davis leading the way), a higher usage rate for Davis than James. Overall, they found more ways to get Davis moving around and LeBro
01/12/2022 • 36 minutes 12 seconds
Do the Lakers Have a LeBron James Problem? (Spoiler Alert: Yes, They Kinda Do)
For much of the early season, there was an intense focus on the performance of Anthony Davis, and how it wasn't bad, exactly, but was definitely disappointing and not nearly at the level the Lakers need to be successful this season. But over the last seven or so games, that has definitely changed. Meanwhile, LeBron James hasn't just struggled with his health, dealing with a series of maladies (including an ankle issue that could keep him out of tonight's game against Portland).
He's been pretty ordinary on the court, as well. At least by his standards, and the standard to which the Lakers will need. The effect has been particularly noticeable on offense, where LeBron's rating trails his other name brand teammates (Davis, Russell Westbrook). He's been particularly disappointing in fourth quarters, exemplified by Monday's 2-8 showing.
So what do the Lakers do about it? Can they get him going, assuming James can stay on the court long enough to find a rhythm? What can LeBron do, and how h
30/11/2022 • 35 minutes 6 seconds
The Lakers Blow a 17-point Fourth Quarter Lead, Suffer Crushing 116-115 Loss to Pacers
Through three quarters, the Lakers were on track for their best, most impressive win of the season. The kind of game that would validate winning five of six against lesser competition. Instead, they let Indiana back in, losing a 17-point lead over the final 10 minutes, losing to the Pacers on a last-second 3-pointer from rookie Andrew Nembhard.
Nothing went well for the Lakers down the stretch. The defense broke down, as Indiana came up with multiple offensive rebounds (including the most critical one, on the game's final sequence). LeBron James was 2-8 from the floor. The Lakers couldn't figure out a way to shake Anthony Davis loose from an aggressive Pacers defense. And LA's defense fell apart on that last play, with multiple miscues including one from James.
Really, though, it never should have reached that point. The Lakers have little experience closing teams out (and with only one win against a team over .500, no real experience closing out good teams) and it showed.
But beyond t
29/11/2022 • 40 minutes
The Lakers Have Won Five of Six, Face (and Scout?) Myles Turner, Buddy Hield Monday Night
The Lakers were once 2-10. Today, after winning five of six, they'll enter Monday's game against Indiana (one of only six home games between now and early January) with a 7-11 record. Still not good, but trending in the right direction. And most of that progress has happened without a full roster available to them. So now that Anthony Davis and LeBron James are both expected to play against the Pacers, can the Lakers continue their momentum?
How much of that upturn was legitimate, anyway, and not a product of a (finally) softening schedule? We'll all find out soon enough, but at the least, the Lakers were due to some positive move to the mean. They weren't, for example, going to shoot 20 percent from 3-point range all year. Over their last 10? About 35 percent. Not great, but not catastrophically damaging to the offense, either. The Lakers were always better than a team paced to win 12 games all year.
Good enough to finish over .500? Top eight? Top 10? We'll see. But not 12-wins bad.
28/11/2022 • 33 minutes 54 seconds
How Will LeBron James' Return Impact a Red-Hot Anthony Davis? Plus, Patrick Beverley suspended!
The Lakers kick off a critical back-to-back Friday in San Antonio, and presumably LeBron James will be on the floor, hopefully for both ends. In his absence, the Lakers have found a little rhythm offensively (albeit against weaker competition) and Anthony Davis has gone bananas, in terms of his overall production. So the question for the team becomes figuring out ways to keep Davis in the space he's in with James back on the floor. Because the overall numbers for LeBron this year, offensively speaking, aren't great. His rating isn't high, relative to teammates. The team has performed better in his absence, with a lot more efficiency.
Is that all on James? No, but his personal numbers speak to that type of inefficiency, as well. And overall, the all just seems to have been a lot less sticky over the last week-plus. Players are moving more, and are being rewarded for it.
In a perfect world, a dominant Davis will help make space for LeBron, lighten his load, and make his decisions easier
25/11/2022 • 36 minutes 44 seconds
Anthony Davis Makes History, but the Lakers Lose to Suns in on Tuesday Night
Well, if you were wondering whether Anthony Davis could continue this forward momentum against better competition, following some dominant games against bad frontcourts, you got your answer Tuesday. Davis was, literally, historically good, dropping 37 points on only 17 shots, then adding 21 rebounds, five steals and five blocks.
He was, it could be argued, the only reason the Lakers, who otherwise were not good offensively as a team (4-22 from 3-point range, 17 turnovers, 0 points combined from Troy Brown, Patrick Beverley, Dennis Schroder and Wenyen Gabriel), were competitive deep into the fourth quarter. And it's an indication of what it means for the Lakers when Davis plays like a guy who could be argued as one of, if not the, best player in the league vs. a more run of the mill All Star.
The Lakers need more of it, and then need LeBron James to elevate once he's back on the floor, which according to Bleacher Report's Chris Haynes is expected to be Friday in San Antonio.
23/11/2022 • 38 minutes 3 seconds
Is Anthony Davis Ready to be the Lakers' Best Player, Even When LeBron Return?
For the last two seasons, pundits, team officials and Lakers players alike have all agreed that the key to the team's success is Anthony Davis. He needs to be their most dominant player on a night in, night out basis. The difference between All Star AD and MVP caliber AD is the thing that can elevate the Lakers more than any other personnel move that's available to them.
The last three games for the Lakers, all wins, have shown what that looks like, as Davis has thrashed the competition. But that's without LeBron James in the lineup, and against subpar competition. So what has to happen for this version of Davis to be the one the Lakers see even when James is back? When the schedule toughens up, and teams game play for even more heavily than they already do?
Is it James that has to change? He's been the team's leading scorer in fourth quarters every year they've played together, including the 2020 title year and the playoff run. Is this a matter of habit - LeBron has been a closer his
22/11/2022 • 34 minutes 12 seconds
Anthony Davis Just Keeps Dominating as the Lakers Win Third Straight Game
On the one hand, the Lakers have won three games in a row. On the other, they're 5-10. So which is the thing that indicates what the Lakers are?
Anthony Davis is trying to provide an answer. He was, again, huge on Sunday as the Lakers beat San Antonio in a genuine blowout, 123-92. A.D. put his imprint on the game early, with 18 points in the first quarter, en route to 30 (on a night where he sat most of the fourth). This, plus 18 rebounds, three steals and a block. This is the Anthony Davis who gets imaginations going. The one the Lakers need if they're going to have a prayer of making noise this season.
Cynics might note that these last three games have come against horrible teams with bad frontcourts (the Spurs on Sunday were missing Jakob Poeltl, who is a very good defensive center). Does that diminish what Davis is doing? No, and the hope is it helps AD gain the muscle memory to keep it going when LeBron James (out again Sunday) returns and the competition also gets a little stiffe
21/11/2022 • 37 minutes 22 seconds
BONUS EPISODE! The Lakers, Fueled by a Dominant Anthony Davis, Beat the Pistons!
LeBron James warmed up, but ultimately needed the night off to rest the adductor injury bugging him for the last week-plus. That meant Anthony Davis had to step up for the Lakers, and STEP UP HE DID! A monster game, with 38 points, 16 rebounds and four blocked shots as the Lakers overcame a double-digit second quarter deficit to beat Detroit 128-121 Friday at the Crypt.
Davis was undoubtedly the catalyst for L.A., but he had help. Six Lakers scored in double figures, including Austin Reaves, who finished with 16/4/6, and led the Lakers with a +14 plus/minus. Lonnie Walker IV and Kendrick Nunn kicked in with some scoring, Thomas Bryant had a successful season debut, and Russell Westbrook, while not exactly the picture of efficiency as a scorer, finished with 12 dimes (10 in the first half).
Was it perfect? Oh Lord, no. The Lakers were sloppy with the ball, turning it over 16 times in the first three quarters. The defense, particularly early, was... lax.
But if they want to climb out of
19/11/2022 • 18 minutes
LeBron James, Dennis Schröder, Thomas Bryant Could Return as the Lakers Hit a Crucial Stretch
The journey of 1,000 miles, otherwise known as "Operation Get Back to .500" begins with one step. That's tonight, as the Lakers play a promising-but-not-yet-good Detroit Pistons team at the Crypt. They'll have reinforcements, with Dennis Schroder and Thomas Bryant likely joining the lineup, and more importantly, with LeBron James a real possibility to suit up. He was a full participant in Thursday's practice for the Lakers - albeit a non-contact practice for all involved - and Darvin Ham said James was running and jumping, looking "great."
So if LeBron can play, the Lakers really have no excuse to drop a game to the lowly Pistons, right? And they really should beat a San Antonio squad rapidly coming back to earth after a quick start, right? They can't get back to .500 in a day or a week or even a month, likely. This is a project. And while technically, it doesn't matter which teams they beat en route to a return to contention, it sure is easier if you beat the bad teams.
Plus, vibes. T
18/11/2022 • 35 minutes 40 seconds
Myles Turner Is Still Top of Mind for Lakers Fans as the Lakers Face a Critical Stretch
The Lakers still don't know if LeBron James will play Friday night against Detroit. He was a participant in Wednesday's practice, but only in the non-contact portions. Is it a sign he's not healing? Of extra caution? Hard to say. But one thing is clear - both games this weekend (Friday against the Pistons, Sunday vs. San Antonio, both at home) are super important not just from a wins-and-losses standpoint (can't keep making the hole deeper) but also vibes. Detroit and San Antonio are bad teams. With or without LeBron, if the Lakers want to believe they have a chance to compete this year, these games have to be won.
The mental damage that comes with losing over the weekend might be as significant as the hit in the standings. Maybe more.
Along those lines, these games are important in the whole, "Will they or won't they, should they or shouldn't they?" questions around trades. It's fair to say that Lakers fans are still thinking hard about Myles Turner, who continues to tantalize by play
17/11/2022 • 36 minutes 45 seconds
Is LeBron James Clearly a Top 5 Player? Is Anthony Davis Clearly a Top 10 Player?
Tuesday's show was centered around the question of why the Lakers seem to be waiting before pushing hard on a trade. Multiple reports, starting in the preseason and moving through this week, have stated in one form or another that the team wants to see what it has with everyone available before making big decisions. In this case, seeing Dennis Schroder and Thomas Bryant in the lineup, both of whom ought to be back on Friday vs. Detroit.
Is that enough for the team to compete? Is it enough to show they'd be good enough to push their remaining chips into the center of the table? A lot depends on Anthony Davis and LeBron James (ok, just about everything). If those guys are super elite? If they're not? What about something in between? The answer to that question is something the Lakers need to consider.
We put it out on a poll, and got some interesting responses from Lakers fans. That, no surprise, is a major discussion point.
But first, news!
The aforementioned Bryant and Schroder practic
16/11/2022 • 34 minutes 7 seconds
Why are the Lakers Waiting to Make a Trade? Should There Be More Urgency?
With their team sitting at 3-10, Lakers fans have already done their evaluations, and have decided this team needs a great deal of help, and fast. So when more reports emerge the Lakers are in wait-and-see mode—this time from Marc Stein, who notes they want to see what it looks like when Dennis Schroder and Thomas Bryant return to the lineup, likely on Friday vs. Detroit—it understandably gets them upset.
So two questions: First, what exactly will the return of Bryant and Schroder do for Darvin Ham and the rest of the roster? How big an impact can they make? Because we're not talking about All-Stars, here, no disrespect intended.
Second question: What exactly is motivating Rob Pelinka and crew to wait? Is it because they believe these guys, with a health Anthony Davis and a returning LeBron James, are enough to help the Lakers climb out of their hole and back into playoff contention, even if they don't make a move? Or is it to see if those guys, in combination with whatever they could
15/11/2022 • 31 minutes 42 seconds
Anthony Davis (37 Points, 18 Rebounds) Dominates as the Lakers Beat Brooklyn, 116-103
It's hard to have a must-win game after 12 games of an 82-game season, but Sunday the Lakers faced something pretty close to it. And with LeBron James still sidelined, they needed, and got, a monster performance from Anthony Davis. 37 points on 25 shots, plus 18 rebounds, 10 of them coming on the offensive side of things. He was unstoppable in the paint, delivering the type of game teams need from superstars in adverse circumstances. So what was different about Sunday's game, where A.D. was a factor throughout, and Friday where he was quiet down the stretch (again)? What were the Lakers doing better on Sunday, and where did Brooklyn leave the door open?
Meanwhile, the Lakers got good performances out of Lonnie Walker IV, Austin Reaves and sneaky good production from Wenyen Gabriel, and turned in one of their better defensive performances since the early part of the season (Brooklyn's cold shooting notwithstanding).
Where do the Lakers go from here?
For starters, they have a rare in-sea
14/11/2022 • 37 minutes 27 seconds
The Lakers Give One Away Against Sacramento, Lose 120-114, Fall to 2-10
No LeBron James on Friday, but as Darvin Ham noted, this was a very winnable game, anyway. Well, that didn't stop the Lakers from losing! 120-114 was the final against Sacramento. The Lakers fall now to 2-10, and with Brooklyn coming to town on Sunday and LeBron potentially missing another game, the team is running out of time to right the ship and play their way back into the Western Conference playoff race. (Seems crazy to say that 12 games into the season, but they're 2-10, so it's not really crazy at all.)
Anthony Davis wasn't a factor in the fourth, but was it his fault? Sacramento overloaded hard on Davis, sending two or three defenders at the slightest hint he'd catch the ball, and the Lakers simply had no counter. Meanwhile, DeAaron Fox went off for the Kings, having his way against multiple Lakers defenders and picking up critical buckets down the stretch.
The Lakers closed the first half horribly, then blew a lead late in the second. This one, LeBron or not, needed to be in t
12/11/2022 • 18 minutes 9 seconds
LeBron James Out for Friday vs. Sacramento, Maybe Longer? Plus, James Lends Kyrie Irving Support
Lakers fans have faced some indignities through the early part of the 2022-23 season, but perhaps none is bigger than entering Friday's game against Sacramento as an underdog. At home. Again, vs. Sacramento. And while the Kings aren't hot garbage this year, they're still the Kings. One reason the Lakers are dogs? LeBron James will miss the game with, officially, an adductor strain suffered in Wednesday's loss to the Clippers.
There's a good chance he'll miss Sunday, too. Is that the right play? On the one hand, two more losses and the Lakers would be a staggering 2-11. On the other, after Sunday, the Lakers don't play again until Friday, meaning James could get over a week of rest between games. It's the best chance to give him extended rest without missing a bunch of games, and expect the Lakers to take advantage.
Especially if they can win on Friday. And along those lines, Anthony Davis, it's your time to carry a team. Seriously. This is what stars do. Sometimes you just have to stea
11/11/2022 • 39 minutes 54 seconds
LeBron James Injured as the Lakers Lose to the Clippers, Fall to 2-9
Last season, the Lakers needed 63 games to fall seven games below .500. This year? 11. And in the fourth quarter of Wednesday's 114-101 loss to the Clippers, LeBron James was forced to the locker room with a groin injury. He said after it wasn't as bad as the one that cost him a huge chunk of his first season in Los Angeles (the Christmas Day Slip vs. Golden State), but that doesn't mean it's all good. James hopes to be able to play Friday vs. Sacramento.
Seems unlikely now, but even if he can, the wear and tear is starting to pile up on James, who needs to be monumentally productive for the Lakers to have a chance to compete and get back in the playoff race at some point this season. That's not a good combination.
So what do the Lakers do? Can they protect the health of their best player while still winning enough games for that health to matter?
The Lakers are shorthanded, without Lonnie Walker IV (ill), Dennis Schroder and Thomas Bryant (thumbs, both). Ham, for all intents and purpo
10/11/2022 • 37 minutes 44 seconds
Are the Lakers More Likely to Trade Anthony Davis Before Russell Westbrook?
Jeanie Buss and Rob Pelinka were trending today, and these days that's never a good thing. Fans seem to have been angry about commentary (including from The Athletic's Shams Charania) that the Lakers won't be trading the two first round picks they currently control ('27 and '29) if the team continues to perform as it has. The reasoning - no trade would save the season, and they'd be better off waiting. Is that correct? What kind of option tree are the Lakers even looking at right now? With LeBron banged up and a subpar supporting cast?
Which leads to an interesting hypothetical - is it possible Anthony Davis is the one who gets moved this year? Before Russell Westbrook? Could it be both? What would an A.D. trade look like? Would it be for a star? For depth pieces? Picks and maybe a young good-but-not-star player?
And what kind of return would Davis even fetch right now?
And has Westbrook's value changed, given his success as a sixth man? What would it mean for the Lakers if teams no lo
09/11/2022 • 35 minutes 55 seconds
LeBron Misses Monday's Game as the Lakers Lose in Utah, Drop to 2-8
Lakers lose, 139-116 with LeBron James on the sidelines.
Darvin Ham said following Monday's game that he didn't come to Los Angeles to lose, and the Lakers didn't bring him to LA to lose... but that's what the team is doing right now. Monday's 139-116 loss to the Jazz in Utah dropped them to 2-8, an already big hole in a brutally competitive conference. LeBron James missed Monday's game with a nagging foot injury, and Ham said they'll have to monitor his minutes going forward. That's not good. Patrick Beverley and Lonnie Walker IV missed the game with illness, leaving the Lakers very shorthanded against a Jazz team that is now the best in the West.
So from a talent standpoint, the Lakers really didn't have much business winning.
Still, giving up 76 points in the first half? 139 overall? After 114 vs. Cleveland, and 130 vs. Utah on Friday? The wheels are coming off that defense that played so well earlier in the year, something Ham says needs to change quickly.
This team, Ham says, wil
08/11/2022 • 33 minutes 46 seconds
The Lakers lose to Cavaliers. Anthony Davis Scores No Fourth Quarter Points for Third Straight Game
It was fun while it lasted.
The Lakers have fallen back into (even earlier) early season habits around bad shooting and stagnant offense. Both were on display Sunday as the Lakers lost to Cleveland at the Crypt, falling to 2-7 on the year with a Monday game against the surprisingly excellent Utah Jazz (who spanked the Lakers in LA on Friday). Anthony Davis was strong early, but invisible down the stretch, scoring no points in the fourth quarter for the third straight game. He only took two shots in the second half, and while in previous games some of the late game invisibility can be attributed to his recurring back problem, that didn't seem to be an issue Sunday.
So what gives? Is it an AD problem? Something related to the rest of the offense? A problem with a deteriorating defense?
Yes, yes, and yes.
This was not a Dear Diary night for the supporting cast, either. Russell Westbrook was fantastic (particularly early), scoring 12 first quarter points and finishing with 19. He also sing
07/11/2022 • 38 minutes 34 seconds
Locked On Lakers-Locked On Nets Crossover: Comparing and Contrasting Franchise Drama!
(Note: This episode was recorded before the Nets announced their suspension of Kyrie Irving.)
The Lakers and Nets have made some of the NBA's biggest, splashiest and most impactful moves over the last few seasons. But while both teams have made headlines (and more headlines, and more after that) neither franchise has actually done much winning. The Lakers have disintegrated in the standings, and the Nets have become the type of non-stop chain of fires that can't seem to be controlled. The last week, with Kyrie Irving being embroiled in controversy completely of his own making, being the latest example.
So what exactly has gone wrong with these two high profile franchises? What similarities and differences are there? Can either team reasonably be expected to turn things around this season?
And what, exactly, should the Nets do with Irving, and are the Lakers part of that answer?
These questions and more are the subject of a crossover episode with Adam Armbrecht, host of Locked On Nets.
04/11/2022 • 44 minutes 29 seconds
Lakers 120, Pelicans 117: Lonnie Walker IV and Matt Ryan (!!!) Save the Day.
Wednesday's thrilling overtime win over New Orleans felt like a change of pace for the Lakers not just because they won - but because it spared everyone some genuine heartbreak and the Lakers were actually the beneficiary of some good fortune (namely two critical missed free throws). Plus, it gave everyone indelible moment, from Matt Ryan drilling a game-tying 3-pointer to Austin Reaves making the clutch pass to get it to him to Darvin Ham drawing up the play to begin with. It's the sort of thing that can help change the atmosphere around a team that has been struggling to find sustained reasons for optimism.
Wednesday, the Lakers managed to win without a great game from LeBron James. They overcame some late adversity. They got contributions from Lonnie Walker IV (28 points) and Troy Brown (15 points, 10 rebounds), along with Ryan (11 points). Russell Westbrook continues to be impactful off the bench, contributing a first half that was probably his best run as a Laker. Was it quite as
03/11/2022 • 38 minutes 15 seconds
Can a Trade Fix the Lakers? Can They Afford Not to Try? Guest: Howard Beck, Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated has a great new book out on the Lakers, which compiles decades worth of great writing about the team by its iconic hoops writers into one volume. And the forward? Written by the great Howard Beck (who also contributes a story about Kobe Bryant's influence on the Lakers even after his death). The man knows the organization, having covered the Shaq/Kobe teams for the LA Daily News, and its management structure. He gets the culture, and the ethos.
And he thinks they have real problems now - no shooting, no depth, and no reason to feel confident that Russell Westbrook will really settle into a pattern of great play - and in the future.
What should the Lakers be doing right now? For one, it could start with recalibrating the purpose of a trade, whether for Indiana's Buddy Hield and Myles Turner, or someone else. If clear-cut contention is the bar the Lakers would have to clear, Beck believes there won't be a trade available to get there. Relevance, however, is attainable,
02/11/2022 • 40 minutes 49 seconds
Myles Turner Says the Lakers Should Seriously Consider Trading for Myles Turner
In a podcast with ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski that dropped on Monday, Indiana center Myles Turner said the Lakers ought to give serious consideration to making a deal to acquire Indiana center Myles Turner. This in response to a very direct question from Woj, who to his credit did not beat around the bush! This was the first question!
Turner pointed out that he has a lot to offer as a player, on both sides of the ball. He can score at all three levels, defend at an elite level, and -- this is important for any player who wants to play with the Lakers -- sees himself as a center. Not a power forward/center hybrid, but a center. Which, as it turns out, happens to the position foundational player Anthony Davis doesn't want to play.
Turner notes what the Lakers need, that they could use the shooting Buddy Hield provides, and so on. None of this is done with a tone or attitude slagging his current employers, but it also is made clear Turner believes this is a business, and that the Pacers do
01/11/2022 • 36 minutes 38 seconds
The Lakers Beat Denver and Get Their First Win as Crowd Embraces Russell Westbrook
The Lakers got their first win of the 2022-23 season Sunday, beating the Denver Nuggets 121-110 at the Crypt. It was significant in a bunch of ways, first and foremost... they finally won a game. Things were getting a little tight, you know? It's Darvin Ham's first NBA win. The Lakers hit over 40% of their 3-pointers, and had five players in double figures, a first for this season's group.
But most of all, it was the home debut of Sixth Man Russell Westbrook, and the results were excellent. He came off the bench and provided pace and energy - that's the goal, always - but did so with much more efficiency than was there Friday against Minnesota. 18 points, eight rebounds, eight assists on 50% shooting and a reasonable three turnovers over 32 minutes.
He served as a hype man for a home crowd dying for something to cheer for. And they did cheer... for Westbrook! Something that has happened very infrequently for the LA native since his homecoming.
Is this something that can be built on? Do
31/10/2022 • 37 minutes 40 seconds
BONUS EPISODE: Davis Sits, Westbrook Comes off the Bench, Lakers Lose to Timberwolves
Well, it was an eventful game, if nothing else. Anthony Davis woke up with his back feeling extra stiff, and had to sit out Friday's game in Minnesota. Russell Westbrook made his regular season debut as a sixth man, with some positive moments mixed in with... less positive moments. LeBron James was aggressive, but very inefficient. The Lakers hit some three pointers... but fell apart from two-point range and turned the ball over like crazy.
They played hard, they tried their best... and nonetheless fell to 0-5 with a 111-102 loss to the Wolves.
The hope is that Davis will be available on Sunday, but with Denver coming to town the Lakers will still need to elevate their play in order to get that first win. The hole is getting very, very deep, and we're not even to Halloween, yet.
Is there any real help on the horizon?
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29/10/2022 • 16 minutes 39 seconds
Is LeBron James Already Taking Shots at Rob Pelinka, Jeanie Buss and Lakers Management?
Maybe it's nothing... but nobody seems to think that.
Lebron James, who is no stranger to passive aggressive use of social media to make a point, posted Thursday on Instagram a highlight dunk, and a question: "How long will you be taken for granted?" It was widely interpreted as a shot at Lakers management, with the idea they're wasting a still highly productive James. Or at the least, he seemed more than willing to let people make that assumption for at least a day. And James, no neophyte when it comes to social media, certainly understands how a post like that would be interpreted.
So what does it mean if James is already taking shots? Does it change the calculus for how the Lakers can and should look at the trade market? Does it raise the temperature on Rob Pelinka to relent and make a deal he'd otherwise rather pass on? Is there reason to believe that some of the problems with the offense are due to an entire team slumping at once, shooting well below career norms?
How much improve
28/10/2022 • 34 minutes 52 seconds
The Lakers Lose in Denver without Westbrook, Drop to 0-4 as Anthony Davis Shows Signs of Injury
There was some hope that the Lakers might get a little addition by subtraction Wednesday night in Denver, as the struggling Russell Westbrook was in street clothes thanks to a hamstring injury. Without Russ, the theory went, things would run more smoothly. The offense would improve. The Lakers might, you know, win.
They looked essentially the same, and that's not a good thing. Still outrebounded, still outshot, still unable to mount anything resembling a credible NBA offense. LA's problems on that end run deep. Without Westbrook in the lineup, the shortcomings of Kendrick Nunn, off to a brutal start, were more apparent. Patrick Beverley has offered virtually nothing offensively, even relative to expectations. Lonnie Walker IV has put up points, but is shooting 17% from 3-point range on high volume.
Meanwhile, Anthony Davis is showing real signs of injury. The back that bugged him through the preseason flared up again Wednesday, and while AD, to his credit, didn't leave the game,
27/10/2022 • 36 minutes 16 seconds
Russell Westbrook Doubtful (Hamstring) vs. Denver. Should Troy Brown Jr. Enter Starting Lineup?
At practice on Tuesday, Lakers head coach Darvin Ham said "not today" when asked about making a change to the starting lineup. Only minutes later, the Lakers announced that Russell Westbrook would be listed as "doubtful" for Wednesday's game in Denver thanks to a hamstring injury that popped up in the preseason. Maybe Darvin knew that decision could be made for him?
With Westbrook sidelined, Wednesday's game takes on an entirely different meaning. If the Lakers play well with him out of the lineup, it could be the used as the evidence Ham needs to make an adjustment to the rotation. That's particularly true if the injury costs Westbrook Friday's game in Minnesota, as well.
Or, if the Lakers continue to falter, the panic meter rises because the guy people tend to blame for all of this isn't there, and the Lakers are still struggling. Either way, the conversation still centers around him, which gets to another stress on this season so far - Westbrook is sucking up tremendous amounts of o
26/10/2022 • 36 minutes 6 seconds
Magic Johnson's Advice for Russell Westbrook, and is Terry Rozier a Solution for The Lakers?
It's enjoyable to poke fun at Magic Johnson's social media presence, and even some of the stuff he says in normal spoken word interviews. But appearing on Shannon Sharpe's podcast, Magic had some surprisingly straightforward and reasonable advice for Russell Westbrook. "First off, take accountability. If you don’t play well, admit it. Stop trying to fight the media and the fans and go out and perform," he said, using his own Finals failure (Tragic Johnson, anyone?) in '84 as a template.
Is it an apples to apples comparison? No. But is he wrong? No. Is Westbrook built to follow Magic's advice? That's an open question.
Meanwhile, Shams Charania at The Athletic reports the Lakers are planning to wait 20-25 games before making a trade both to truly assess the team's needs (not sure that requires 17 more games), and (more likely) hoping the market opens up to give them more and/or better options than what's been available to this point. Charlotte's Terry Rozier and San Antonio swingman Josh
25/10/2022 • 36 minutes 23 seconds
Lakers 0-3 After 106-104 Loss to Portland, as Tension Around Westbrook is Rising.
The Lakers have a Russell Westbrook problem. It was evident on Sunday in a home loss to Portland dropping the team to 0-3 as they stare down two upcoming games against Denver and a third in Minnesota. 0-6 is a real possibility. Westbrook, Sunday, wasn't uniformly bad, but was on the floor as the Lakers blew a late lead, and contributed to it with some goofy choices, including a terrible decison to pull up for an early-clock jumper with 28 seconds left in an effort to get a 2-for-1.
Technically, Westbrook finished the game on the bench, sitting for the final 13 seconds, but given that he wasn't exactly dominant to that point, most fans wondered why Darvin Ham had him back in the game down the stretch to begin with.
And it's a reasonable question.
So what does Ham do? Is he unwilling to pull the trigger on playing him off the bench, or sitting him for critical stretches? He doesn't seem so, at least if you take his words on the topic at face value. Is he still too much a believer in West
24/10/2022 • 36 minutes 7 seconds
Lakers Lose to the Clippers, Drop to 0-2 as Russell Westbrook Is 0-11 from the Floor
On the one hand, the Lakers lost Thursday's home opener to the Clippers, 103-97, dropping to 0-2 on the season. On the other, they played a much, much stronger game than the one put forth on Tuesday against Golden State. Then again, the Lakers still didn't get nearly enough help for Anthony Davis and LeBron James from the supporting cast. Russell Westbrook, Kendrick Nunn and Patrick Beverley, for example, were a combined 1-25 from the floor, more than enough to offset an encouraging game from Lonnie Walker IV (26 points).
So do you feel better or worse heading into the weekend?
Darvin Ham said they're trending in the right direction, which is true, but the shortcomings are real and solutions might be slow to develop. Given the early season schedule, if there's anything the Lakers can do to ramp up the learning curve, they'll need to.
Meanwhile, reports note that Rob Pelinka is unlikely to do anything in the very near term to change up the team, but will give it 20 games or so to evalua
21/10/2022 • 39 minutes 52 seconds
Lakers-Clippers Game Preview with Darian Vaziri (Locked On Clippers)
It was an inauspicious beginning to the 2022-23 season for the Lakers Tuesday night, and things don't get any easier in Thursday's home opener against the Clippers. If the Warriors are considered the consensus best team in the West, the LAC are certainly second, and because it's the first game are as healthy as they're going to be. So how do the Lakers respond? We preview the game with Locked On Clippers host Darian Viziri!
On paper, a matchup against a team with two dominant wings is one that hurts the Lakers, who are, um, a little thin in that area.
On the other hand, the Clippers don't have a natural answer for Anthony Davis.
Of course, it gets a lot easier to defend A.D. if the Lakers shoot in the way they did Tuesday, where the Warriors just packed the paint and dared LA to make a jumper. Certainly Clippers coach Ty Lue will make the Lakers prove themselves before opening up the floor for Davis and LeBron. One key there, Darian says, is Patrick Beverley. A complete non-entity in t
20/10/2022 • 43 minutes 14 seconds
The Lakers Lose the Season Opener to Golden State, In Ways Feeling Unsettlingly Familiar
Last season, the Lakers often lost thanks to defensive breakdowns, turnovers, bad outside shooting, a lack of support from the role guys and horrible third quarters. Wednesday in the season opener against Golden State at Chase, they lost thanks to defensive breakdowns, bad outside shooting, a lack of support from the role guys and a horrible third quarter.
It was, to say the least, not a game that left Lakers fans feeling great about where this team can go.
To be fair, it was a strange and challenging night. The long delay to tipoff thanks to the ring ceremony had both teams playing in mud early. Golden State is, as the ring ceremony might suggest, really freaking good. They have continuity and depth that might even eclipse last year's group. They're dominant in that building. So no shame in losing... it just didn't feel very good.
So what was good? LeBron James, Anthony Davis and even Russell Westbrook put up numbers, and the early effort/results on defense were commendable. Davis car
19/10/2022 • 37 minutes 31 seconds
2022-23 Predictions: Total Games for LeBron and Anthony Davis! Westbrook Trade? Lakers in the Playoffs?
The Lakers start the 2022-23 season tonight in San Francisco against the Warriors. Last season was an unmitigated disaster. What will this season bring?
Yes, it's time for some big, bold predictions about the Lakers, the Western Conference, and more!
How many games will LeBron James play? How about Anthony Davis?
Will Russell Westbrook finish in the running for... Sixth Man of the Year? Will he be traded before the end of the year?
Will Kendrick Nunn get the bag?
And most importantly, will the Lakers miss the playoffs entirely? Make the play in? The regular playoffs? Will they even win a round?
It's all on the table on the predictions podcast!
Dennis Schröder underwent surgery on his thumb Monday, and will be out of action for around a month. It's hard to know exactly what this does to the team's rotation - not much was solidified during the preseason, and he only played nine minutes of it, anyway - but Schröder's absence does potentially free up minutes for a crowded backcourt
18/10/2022 • 36 minutes 44 seconds
Will the Lakers Bring Russell Westbrook Off the Bench to Start the Season?
The preseason is over, and the Lakers at least tried to make headlines in the finale, bringing Russell Westbrook off the bench against the Kings. Unfortunately, the night turned into a dud, because Westbrook left the game in the first quarter, not all that long after checking in, with a hamstring injury and didn't return. (And no, people, he wasn't faking as a passive-aggressive way of protesting the move.) So the Lakers didn't really get to see what Westbrook on the bench looks like, or how it impacted the starters over the course of a game.
Definitely a disappointment.
So what happens now? The Lakers believe Westbrook could be available for Tuesday's opener in San Francisco against the Warriors. Will Darvin Ham start Westbrook? Would it be smart, if that's their inclination overall, just to get it over with? There are certainly basketball reasons that make Westbrook as a reserve seem like a quality idea, namely making it easier to stagger Westbrook's minutes against LeBron's, but how
17/10/2022 • 34 minutes 47 seconds
Russell Westbrook Addresses "Huddlegate," Jeanie Buss Defends Her "Inner Circle"
Wednesday's game featured two moments where Russell Westbrook's destructive attitude was, at least in theory, on display. Twice he seemed either to ignore or try and separate himself from teammates, indicating that he's a toxic influence destined to sink the season for the Lakers. Except as it turns out, both moments had perfectly reasonable explanations, fairly well confirmed by available evidence. First, he appeared to be communicating with the bench while Patrick Beverley was waving teammates together. And Westbrook has moved away from the team huddle after pregame introductions for years.
So the latter was the norm, and the former doesn't seem like a particularly big deal.
All of it, though, reminds people that when it comes to Westbrook, many (many, many) fans are ready to vent some serious anger about his play, the trade, management and everything else connected to the deal.
Anthony Davis, meanwhile, said he's ready to start at center if that's what the team needs to win, but he'
14/10/2022 • 38 minutes 12 seconds
Lonnie Walker, Patrick Beverley New Starters in Lakers Preseason Loss. Plus, Westbrook "Bad Vibes" Alert?
The Lakers are still experimenting with lineups, as the regular season draws close. Wednesday against Minnesota, Darvin Ham went small, starting Patrick Beverley and Lonnie Walker IV next to Anthony Davis, LeBron James and Russell Westbrook. No "traditional" center. So is that the five Ham will roll with on the 18th when the regular season begins? Should it be? Walker certainly did good work, scoring 12 points in 19 minutes before exiting with an ankle injury. (No word yet on how serious, though he did walk out under his own power.)
Ham has a ton of options, none of them obviously the right play. So with that in mind, how does he come up with the right one? Is Walker a better option than say, Austin Reaves? Than Juan Toscano-Anderson (who was sitting with a thigh bruise)? Walker was the only member of the supporting cast who played well on Wednesday, but fans hoping to see strong signs from James and Davis continue to be pleased. Both of LA's stars looked great, and Davis particularly
13/10/2022 • 35 minutes 31 seconds
Is Anthony Davis More Likely to Get Injured Playing Center? Could the Lakers Win a Late Season Trade?
The Lakers are giving real consideration to playing Anthony Davis at center this season, something that was a question last year, and even during the title year as well. Beyond any positive and negative impacts on Davis's play (there certainly weren't any on display Sunday night, when Davis started at the five and throttled Golden State), there are tremendous logistical advantages for the Lakers, given the construction of the roster.
Still, reaction to Tuesday's show, which went deep on this question, was strong, and resistance was centered around one major issue: health.
A host of commenters on the Locked On Lakers YouTube page expressed the believe that Davis is simply too fragile to play center, and that he's better protected at power forward. The physical rigors are too much against bigger bodies serving as one of the points of the theory. But does it actually make a difference? Could the position he plays really impact how healthy Davis stays throughout the year?
There are reasons
12/10/2022 • 37 minutes 30 seconds
Could Anthony Davis Start at Center for the Lakers? Darvin Ham Says It's Under "Heavy Consideration"
This is not a new topic of conversation, but it's back in the news cycle. Asked about the possibility of Anthony Davis starting at center (as he did Sunday, when he scored 28 points in 21 minutes) as opposed to power forward this season, Lakers head coach Darvin Ham said it's under "heavy consideration" for reasons that are pretty obvious:
Davis has thrived at the five as a Laker.
The Lakers have thrived with Davis at the five.
The team's best players are all in the backcourt. The best opportunity to give them the most playing time demands Davis play center and open up more minutes at small forward that would otherwise be used by LeBron (James).
The team's centers have been ok-to-meh to this point in the preseason.
They will almost surely finish most games with Davis at center, so why not start him there?
So how likely is it that Ham will go ahead and pull the trigger? If he does, what does it mean for the starting lineup? Who fills the void at the three, especially while Troy Br
11/10/2022 • 38 minutes 58 seconds
Anthony Davis Dominates vs. Golden State, and Rob Pelinka Gets a Contract Extension
What a busy weekend! The Lakers broke a 9-game preseason losing streak, and while wins and losses don't necessarily matter in these games, Sunday's win over Golden State had some significant developments. First, Anthony Davis was dominant. 28 points in 21 minutes, with every facet of the game on display. Hit some threes, hit some mid-range, dominated in the paint, got to the line. And he showed some swagger. It was the type of performance the Lakers are going to need - a lot - through the season if they want to exceed expectations. Plus, Kendrick Nunn played great, Lonnie Walker IV shot the ball well and generally speaking the Lakers looked good when important players were on the floor.
Meanwhile, though, the Lakers didn't play LeBron James, Russell Westbrook or Patrick Beverley, and are running out of time to develop the type of continuity in a still-complex rotation they'll need. Darvin Ham says it's all part of the plan, but in some ways it would have been nice for the plan to put a
10/10/2022 • 38 minutes 33 seconds
Lonnie Walker IV Promising in Lakers Debut. Thomas Bryant Breaks Out. LeBron/Davis/Westbrook Sit.
As always, context matters in the preseason. The Lakers lost again Thursday, but played without LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Kendrick Nunn, Patrick Beverley, Dennis Schröder and Troy Brown Jr.. Doesn't matter if you think this season won't be that good, if you remove those seven dudes from any game the results will be ugly. Particularly since the Wolves used their regular rotation. Still, there were highlights, including the season debut of Lonnie Walker IV and a bust out game for Thomas Bryant.
Walker was given a lot of responsibility, running the offense in addition to trying to spark it, and broadly the results were positive. A couple highlight reel plays mixed in with some surprisingly good passing. He finished with three assists, but it rightly should have been much higher. This was not a Lakers squad that capitalized on every opportunity to give a teammate a dime.
Moreover, Walker was praised by Darvin Ham for his effort and intensity on defense. His give-a-ble
07/10/2022 • 36 minutes 8 seconds
LeBron, Reaves, Nunn Shine In Preseason Loss. And are the Lakers now "Team Normal?"
In keeping with the theme of the Lakers' preseason so far, the Lakers remain winless, this time 119-115 against the Phoenix Suns, but it was another game where the players who mattered... and played... provided fans with increasing optimism about what may lie ahead when the real contests begin. Anthony Davis was a last minute scratch with lower back tightness, but LeBron James had a dominant first half of 23 points (8-11 FG) and great activity on both sides of the ball. Kendrick Nunn pitched in 21 points off the bench in just 19 minutes, and Austin Reaves was quite the stat-stuffer, leading the team with nine assists to go along with six points, seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Even Russell Westbrook, whose 12 points were the result of diminishing efficiency, had a strong first quarter.
But of course, AD sitting out with any injury, even one framed as minor, will make fans squeamish. Does this feel like deja vu all over again?
And finally, the Warriors made headlines on Wed
06/10/2022 • 41 minutes 25 seconds
NBA GM Poll Reflects Anthony Davis's Reputation Dropping Around the NBA. (LeBron Still Respected!)
Every year, NBA.com produces the GM poll, asking execs around the league all sorts of questions about players, teams, coaches and beyond. In most years, the Lakers and Lakers players are well represented, given their high profile, high expectations, star power and so on. This year, however, when it comes to the Lakers the results are notable mostly because the Lakers are an afterthought. LeBron James pops up in a couple of categories, Darvin Ham in another. The Lakers are expected to finish around 8th in the conference, which makes sense and certainly isn't unfair.
Most notable, though, is the near-total absence of Anthony Davis, who doesn't get mentioned among the best defensive players, centers, power forwards, MVP candidates and so on and so on and so on. One place he does pop up? Breakout candidate, a place usually reserved for much younger players. In total, it shows the massive reputational hit Davis has suffered over the last couple years thanks first and foremost to his inabili
05/10/2022 • 36 minutes 46 seconds
Lakers Lose Preseason Opener by 30, but Big Three Meshed! Plus, New Westbrook/Pacers Details!
On Monday's show, it was noted that context is a big thing when evaluating preseason scores. That's definitely the case for Monday's 105-75 loss to Sacramento in the Lakers' preseason opener. 30 points is a blowout, but for the parts of the game where LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook played, the Lakers looked significantly better than that score. Davis, for example, went for 11 points and 11 rebounds in his 16 minutes, even hitting a pair of 3's! Westbrook had a couple good shots at the rim, and played with aggression. The team looked bouncier, and showed considerably more investment in the preseason compared to last year. (Low bar to clear.)
Defensively, the Important Lakers were engaged and efforting, holding Sacramento well under 40% shooting in the first half. Some of that was bad offense from the Kings, but not all of it.
No question, the Lakers looked rusty at times. They didn't always move the ball well. The second half was downright ugly. Rebounding and outside
04/10/2022 • 38 minutes 30 seconds
The Lakers' Preseason Opens Monday. Is Darvin Ham's Early Starting Lineup the Right One?
Last season, the Lakers approached the preseason with an attitude of a team that believed it was championship caliber, had plenty of veteran experience and could afford to, well, ease into the season. The pretend games? Whatever. Not worth the time and energy to take seriously, or in the case of the Big Three of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook, participate in fully so that the three of them could build some chemistry with each other, and a roster that had completely turned over.
It... didn't work very well.
The Lakers didn't just go 0-6 last preseason, they looked even worse than the record might suggest in the process, and a tone was set for the entire year. The Lakers never caught up. So this season, it looks like everyone from LeBron on down is going to be available, and the intensity of these games is going to look different. They don't mean everything, but they do mean something, and for a team that needs to get off to a good start in a deep Western Conference, i
03/10/2022 • 37 minutes 30 seconds
Darvin Ham's Vision for Anthony Davis and the Defense. Plus, DeRozan Keeps Talking About the Lakers!
The Lakers need to improve their defense in a big way, after last season's disaster, and that starts with Anthony Davis. On the one hand, Darvin Ham can use him in multiple ways, because he's extremely versatile on that side of the floor. Ideally, Ham's mission is to figure out a way to deploy Davis in a way that a) maximizes Davis, b) maximizes the Lakers' defense, and c) avoids overextending Davis to the point he risks injury. Because if he gets hurt, the whole thing falls apart.
Unfortunately, those are not necessarily three easy things to align.
So what's the best way to handle things? How much better is the supporting cast around Davis this year, compared to last? Because the answer to that question has a real impact on what Ham can do with AD (and LeBron, and Pat Beverley for that matter). It's an example of the challenge Ham faces this year, trying to figure out how to get the most out of a roster with holes on the wing and significant injury risk among its best players.
30/09/2022 • 35 minutes 57 seconds
Anthony Davis Sets Goal to Be Available for All 82 Games, Reveals Wrist Injury Last Season
Monday at Media Day, LeBron James noted that his biggest problem over the last few seasons has been availability. Once an iron man, James is now a much larger injury risk. Still not larger than Anthony Davis, though, who has struggled to stay in the lineup throughout his career. Wednesday in El Segundo, the Lakers forward said his goal this year is to be healthy enough to play in all 82 games. That doesn't mean the Lakers won't rest him, but it means his body won't be the reason he misses games.
So nobody thinks 82 is a reasonable number for most players, let alone Davis. But is 70 a fair expectation? 65? What's the threshold past which the number is too high for anyone to have faith it'll come true?
Meanwhile, speaking of injuries, Davis revealed Wednesday that last year he was struggling with a wrist problem that he says hurt his follow through. Did it hurt his numbers? Not necessarily. In fact, not that the 3-point shooting was good at any point, but it actually seemed to improve a
29/09/2022 • 36 minutes 13 seconds
Lakers First Practice Report: Darvin Ham's Rules, Patrick Beverley/Russell Westbrook's Relationship
Tuesday marked the first day of practice for the Lakers in the 2022-23 season, and it started with new coach Darvin Ham making clear his rules (the "non-negotiables") and expectations for the year. Meanwhile, players were impressed by the attention to detail he showed, and the efficiency of his first practice. Because NBA players, more than anything, want their time to be used wisely and with respect.
And while a couple of Lakers were still off the floor due to injury or visa delays, Kendrick Nunn was a full, unrestricted participant in a practice for the first time in a long, long, LONG time. And it felt good! Nunn is one of the guards who certainly could start for the Lakers, especially if Russell Westbrook doesn't, and as Ham noted Monday, nothing for Russ is guaranteed.
But as he clarified Tuesday, not being guaranteed a starting gig is not the same as saying he's not potentially going to start. It's reasonable to assume that all things being equal, Ham would prefer to start Westbr
28/09/2022 • 37 minutes 12 seconds
Lakers Media Day Reaction: Westbrook Not Guaranteed Starting Role, LeBron Focuses on Availability
There were, literally, dozens of questions asked and answered on Media Day for the Lakers Monday, but not surprisingly, it was the questions asked to, and asked about, guard Russell Westbrook that dominated the headlines. First, Darvin Ham made it abundantly clear that no starting role will be promised, or even assumed, for Westbrook. They have a lot of time to figure out what they're going to do, and a lot of guards to figure out how to do it with. Westbrook, Ham indicated, is just one of those options. It was a message delivered with praise, for sure (Ham continued talking about how great Westbrook has been this offseason) but delivered, nonetheless.
Meanwhile, Westbrook echoed many of the comments published over the weekend by ESPN. Does he feel wanted by the org? "Doesn't matter." His job, Westbrook said, is to go be a pro and play hard, filling whatever role he's asked. And you know what? That's the right answer. He can pretend that Lakers want him, but Westbrook knows it's not tr
27/09/2022 • 38 minutes 1 second
Russell Westbrook: "I Just Need to Do My Job." But What Is It? Plus, Questions for Lakers Media Day!
The Lakers kick off training camp Monday, at a time when, to say the least, folks have a LOT of questions. About the direction of the roster, the philosophy of management, the present, the future, and basically anything in between. For one day, at least, some of those questions will get answered as the process of turning the hypothetical into the actual begins.
Will Russell Westbrook really come off the bench?
What exactly is LeBron James prioritizing these days?
How does Darvin Ham's job change going from lead assistant to head coach?
Why didn't Lonnie Walker develop the way everyone wanted in San Antonio?
Just a few of the questions people want to understand as the season starts.
Russell Westbrook spoke with ESPN recently, and had some interesting comments about "the job" he's going to do this year. He just has to show up and do his job. He's all in on doing whatever it takes to win. In theory, being all in to do what it takes to win is well in line with doing the job. I
26/09/2022 • 38 minutes 53 seconds
Boganovic traded to Pistons. Are the Lakers Keeping Westbrook... and Playing Him Off the Bench?
Bojan Bogdanovic, one of the big rumored targets for the Lakers in any potential transaction involving Russell Westbrook (because he's one of the only players they have who would make a ton of sense on LA's roster) was traded to Detroit on Thursday. Not for any big haul, either. Going forward, the remaining pieces available from the Jazz have even less utility, and would be even less worth surrendering any picks. So more evidence that the Lakers plan on rolling into the season with Westbrook and the current roster basically as it is. Maybe something happens at the margins, but nothing significant.
So no Indiana deal.
No Utah deal.
The Lakers are waiting to see what comes, and if all else fails, going into the offseason with cap space and some first round picks to try and get themselves back into title contention.
Is that the right call? It's very, very hard to say. The Indiana deal is the best out there for this season, but is it best for the next three? Does it put a cap on them that
23/09/2022 • 36 minutes 31 seconds
Have the Lakers Closed the Door on Myles Turner and Buddy Hield? Plus... More on LeBron and BaldGate!
Wednesday, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that the Indiana Pacers expect to open the season with Myles Turner as their starting center. Which means, definitionally, that he will not be acquired before then by the Lakers with Buddy Hield in exchange for Russell Westbrook and two first round picks. Nor is it expected that the Lakers will trade for anyone on the Utah Jazz as they look to rebuild after trading Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell.
So what are they going to do? Does Rob Pelinka just plan on punting the season? Does passing up an opportunity now mean the Lakers won't have a better one later? Are any of the options available to them today better than what might be behind doors as the season proceeds? Could Turner and Hield be an option closer to the deadline?
Are any of these trade options better than simply waiting, holding the picks and combining that with some cap space in the summertime?
One good bit of shorthand about the talent level available to the Lakers in trad
22/09/2022 • 34 minutes 59 seconds
LeBron James Shaves His Head, Lakers Postpone Pelinka/Ham Press Conference, Forwards Preview
Welcome, LeBron James!
Tuesday started with a shock. James, who has seemingly clinged desperately to the remnants of an ever-shifting hairline (sometimes robust, sometimes uneven, sometimes unattended to) finally did the right thing and sent out a picture of his super clean, Bic'd up dome. Nary a hair left on the top portion of his head. Yes, he's one of us, now (meaning the hosts of this show). And in all seriousness, even a billionaire will feel the liberation that comes with finally letting go of the thing that was no more.
And to the extent that James was putting any mental energy into trying make that mess of sad follicles look good on TV before every game, now that all goes into basketball! Win for Lakers fans, too! And a reminder: Alex Caruso shaved his head and the Lakers immediately won a title. Just saying.
Meanwhile, Wednesday's scheduled pre-Media Day press conference with Rob Pelinka and Darvin Ham was rescheduled for Media Day (likely Monday), giving perhaps one final tea
21/09/2022 • 38 minutes 26 seconds
How Will Darvin Ham Sort Out the Lakers' Rotation? More Moves Coming for Rob Pelinka?
The Lakers have, to say the least, a complex set of questions facing them this season. They include health, personality and now, a wonky configuration super heavy on guards and very light on wings. Wednesday, Darvin Ham and Rob Pelinka will meet the media in the traditional pre-training camp press conference, and will likely get lots of questions about all of this stuff. How they respond will provide some early clues on what's in store for the Lakers this year. Are they going to try to find ways to get everyone on the floor, or are some players who would expect to play going to be disappointed? What about all those, um, vibrant personalities?
Are there more moves coming? How does Pelinka view the current roster? A work in progress (slow as it may be) or something close to the final version?
Certainly this year's team has the opportunity to be better, if players can stay healthy, but is there something out there capable of pushing the team to the top of the conference?
And what about in
20/09/2022 • 38 minutes
Why the Lakers Signed Dennis Schröder, and Patrick Beverley's Reported Defensive Role
The Lakers made weekend news signing free agent guard Dennis Schröder to a one-year deal, bringing him back for a second run in El Segundo. Through the weekend, more reporting emerged explaining why the Lakers thought it was a good idea reunite with the mercurial German. There was a good performance at Eurobasket, which is some pretty high end competition. And that he went to play there without the security of an NBA deal in hand. (A cynic would note that added need for him to go play, in order to get one.) There was lobbying from Schröder to return, and some strong statements about righting unfinished business on his Instagram page that demonstrates a desire to contribute to the purple and gold.
And, of course, some practical understanding that more depth could come in handy, given lingering question marks around Kendrick Nunn's health and a fairly well-established injury history with Patrick Beverley (he's missed a ton of games over the last few seasons). Plus LeBron James, and natur
19/09/2022 • 38 minutes 44 seconds
The Lakers Sign Dennis Schröder... Does THIS Mean Russell Westbrook is On His Way Out?
It was long rumored as a possibility, and Friday it happened. The Lakers reportedly are bringing back former PG Dennis Schröder on a one year, veteran's minimum deal worth just north of $2.5 million. Like many things the Lakers have done this offseason, it's a move that raises just as many questions as it answers. On the one hand, Schröder is definitely better than your average player at that salary. On the other, he just adds another body to an already crowded backcourt, one that might struggle to play with some of those other bodies, and put still more bodies on the bench for lack of available minutes.
Unless, of course...
The Lakers think they're on the verge of trading Russell Westbrook. Or they think Kendrick Nunn might not be quite as healthy as they hope. Or they worry about Patrick Beverley's health. Or they think they'll just reduce Westbrook's role significantly, or entirely. Or that they plan to run a lot - A LOT - of small lineups, so that guys like Austin Reaves can get th
17/09/2022 • 36 minutes 42 seconds
Who Should Start for the Lakers This Season? Who *Will* Start for the Lakers This Season?
Lakers fans have been looking for signs all season that Russell Westbrook is on his way out of town. This week, we learned his 13,500 square foot Brentwood home is indeed on the market. Does that mean the trade rumors are coming to fruition? Is he on his way out of town?
Not so fast. Ever since it turned out Kevin Garnett buying a house in Malibu didn't in fact mean he was a Future Laker, we've understood the relationship between real estate deals and NBA transactions is tenuous. Could Westbrook know something we don't? Obviously. He's been on the block all summer, and nothing outwardly has changed with his situation. Maybe inwardly - meaning with Westbrook, Rob Pelinka and so on - some agreement has finally been forged. But... probably one doesn't really have much to do with the other. Westbrook, even if he's traded to Salt Lake City, won't be playing there and still will own a house in Los Angeles.
So sorry Lakers fans. Westbrook may be traded yet, but the house was likely going on t
16/09/2022 • 36 minutes 38 seconds
The NBA Comes Down - Kinda - on Suns Owner Robert Sarver. LeBron Says More Punishment Needed.
It's not been a good week for the NBA. While we inch closer to training camps and the start of all the fun stuff, the league announced it would be suspending Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver for a year and fining him $10 million for ... well, a tremendous amount of racism and misogyny that permeated the organization for years. An independent review confirmed the core of what ESPN's Baxter Holmes revealed in a report last year, and put the league in a postion where it had to act.
Still, the consensus is that Sarver got off easy, and when Silver spoke to the media about it Wednesday, he seemed to confirm that different rules exist for owners vs. players, when it comes to conduct. Certainly Lakers star LeBron James seemed ticked, Tweeting his disapproval. As did Chris Paul. Others will surely follow. But Silver inelegantly noted the League's hands are tied, insofar as it comes to removing Sarver from his team. They can suspend him, and could have suspended him longer. But removing him as
15/09/2022 • 39 minutes 47 seconds
Do Laker Fans Have Any Sympathy for Russell Westbrook? Plus, Pau Gasol Entering the Hall of Fame Solo?
Year 1 was... not good. Russell Westbrook arrived with a lot of fanfare (and a lot of trepidation on the part of fans and pundits alike) and almost from the jump nothing went well. The fit was bad, the team lost, and lost and lost some more and all the while Westbrook didn't play particularly well. And then there was finger pointing, a lack of self-awareness and accountability when it was all done. Westbrook famously lit up LeBron James and Anthony Davis in his exit interview.
Most people assumed the Lakers would do ANYTHING to get rid of Westbrook, but then the summer came, and suddenly Westbrook looked like a guy who might be around for a while. Not because the Lakers necessarily want it that way, but because trading him is really hard. And since, Westbrook has tried really hard to look like a guy fitting in. He's showed up at press conferences for Darvin Ham and Patrick Beverley. He threw Pat Bev a towel and engaged him in a super awkward bro hug. Ham has praised Westbrook's attitud
13/09/2022 • 36 minutes 14 seconds
Should a Rising Salary Cap for the 2023-24 Season Change How the Lakers Approach 2022-23?
For much of the summer, the Lakers have been looking at the choice of making trades to resurrect (or try to at least) this season, with the idea that cap space to rebuild after the year would be available, but not necessarily large enough to be truly impactful. That changed last week when the NBA announced that the new projections for the 2023-24 season could see an $10-11 million jump, leaving the Lakers with (potentially) $30, maybe even $40 million to work with.
Granted, they've have very, very few players on the roster were they to max it out (perhaps just LeBron James and Anthony Davis) and A LOT of holes to fill, but that amount of space could buy one or two good players for sure, or let the Lakers acquire players via trade into that cap space, and they'd still be able to trade the first round pics they've held on to.
So is that a better path forward than the presumptive Utah or Indiana deals?
What could the Lakers do with that kind of space? And how good are they now? Marc Stein
12/09/2022 • 38 minutes 4 seconds
What Do Playoff Odds and NBA2K Ratings Reveal About the Lakers' Prospects This Season?
It's a good time to take stock of where the Lakers stand in the Western Conference, and all around are little signs of what the rest of the world thinks of them. Not just the pundits on the major websites, but gambling houses and video game makers. To that end, the folks at Betonline and NBA2K have weighed in, with revised playoff odds and ratings for the upcoming season's edition of the iconic game.
Currently, the Lakers have the eighth best odds to make the playoffs, behind Golden State, the Clippers, Phoenix, Memphis, Denver, Dallas and Minnesota. They're just a hair ahead of the Pelicans. All of which seems fair, more or less. So how much better would the Lakers have to get to climb that list? What has to happen? How likely are some of these other teams to see the type of misfortune that could knock them down a peg or two (because it's easy to forget, every team has land mines in their path, in one way or another).
Any teams behind the Lakers likely to jump up and surprise?
09/09/2022 • 37 minutes 58 seconds
Darvin Ham Says Kendrick Nunn Looks "Great," and Revisiting Westbrook-to-Utah Trade Options
Among the items left from Tuesday's introductory press confab for Patrick Beverley was some commentary from Darvin Ham on the health of guard Kendrick Nunn. He missed all of last season with a bone bruise in his knee, and has been working towards full recovery throughout the summer. Some reports indicate it might be going a little slower than hoped, though Nunn himself seemed to refute that. For his part, Ham says he thinks Nunn has looked "great," though seemed to indicate that's been in individual workouts and in the weight room, as opposed to full five-on-five sessions.
That's not necessarily a big problem at this point - it's only early September - but for many fans, until they see Nunn on the floor doing everything he's supposed to do, without restrictions, there's going to be some concern.
And rightly, because Nunn is super-important for any opportunity the Lakers have to exceed expectations. Not because he's an All-Star, but because he's a legit scorer who can help stretch the f
08/09/2022 • 37 minutes 24 seconds
The Lakers Introduce Patrick Beverley... and Russell Westbrook Attends the Press Conference!
Russell Westbrook was in the building. That's the headline from Tuesday in El Segundo, when newly acquired guard Patrick Beverley was introduced to the local media. He gave Pat Bev a towel (Beverley was finishing a workout when he started answering questions) and the two bro-hugged awkwardly when it was done. But he was there, and Westbrook has been around a lot through the summer. Is he doing the right stuff because he's reached a place of understanding? A spot of zen where he truly understands what's required for him to play in the way Darvin Ham will demand? Out of spite to pay back those who have criticized and written him off?
The former would be better, but at least as it pertains to Westbrook, the latter might work for a while, too.
Ham talked about the way those two could be on the court together, too. There's no reason Beverley and Westbrook can't work as a backcourt... if they play defense. Which means, "if Russ plays defense," because at the least we know Beverley will be wo
07/09/2022 • 33 minutes 32 seconds
Are the Lakers Running out of Trade Options for Russell Westbrook?
So much of the summer has been a waiting game, with the league and the Lakers (and Russell Westbrook) in a holding pattern until the situations around Kevin Durant in Brooklyn and Donovan Mitchell in Utah. Well, both have been resolved, and Russell Westbrook is still in Los Angeles. So what happens now? What options are realistically remaining on the Russell Westbrook Trade Option Tree? There's Indiana, Utah's skeletal remains, and whatever's behind Door #3 - basically some future option we just don't know about yet..
(And, of course, you could hold on to him... but that's not something people like to talk about.)
So how good do these deals need to be to make them "worth it?" Is a trade pointless if it doesn't vault the Lakers into high end contention? Is there even a deal out there that could do that? Probably not. So what about legit top 6? A real, live playoff team (something, thanks to the depth of the Western Conference, that's not entirely guaranteed by the best deal currently in
06/09/2022 • 32 minutes 12 seconds
How Much Would the Lakers Improve if They Trade for Myles Turner, Buddy Hield? Guest, Tony East
The Lakers have been trying hard to improve their roster, and no trade seems as available as one with Indiana, where the Lakers would send out Russell Westbrook and a couple first rounders for Buddy Hield and Myles Turner. Without question, Hield's perimeter shooting and supplementary scoring would come in handy for a team that lacks a lot of the former, especially. But the more intriguing player, the one the Lakers would be sacrificing that second pick to get, is Turner.
Only 26, he's a rangy shot-blocker with a good offensive game and a reasonable outside shot. He would fit on both ends next to Anthony Davis. He's young enough to sign to an extension that makes sense for the Lakers. So would it be worth giving up all the stuff the Lakers have left to get him, along with Hield?
Tony East, host of Locked on Pacers, joins the show to break it all down. How did Indiana get here? Why aren't they interested in keeping Turner themselves, given his relative youth? What would the Lakers get i
02/09/2022 • 39 minutes 47 seconds
Jeanie Buss Talks Westbrook, LeBron and the Lakers Power Structure. Plus, Another Russ Trade Option?
There have been stretches where leadership for the Lakers has been hard to find. No interviews, no communication, no insight. Lots of room for speculation. This... hasn't been on of those moments, at least as it relates to Lakers governor Jeanie Buss, who has been doing a ton of interviews in support of the Hulu doc on the team, for which she serves as executive producer. This time, she made some headlines in a conversation with The Athletic's Sam Amick. It started with comments about Russell Westbrook, who she initially called the team's best player last season, until (after Amick gave her a chance to clarify), she explained she meant most consistent. As in consistently available.
Which is true, because Westbrook was available basically every night for a team that didn't get much of that. But while it makes sense for her to find positive things to say about Russ - he's likely to be around, folks - but Buss is lucky she had a chance to clean up the quote before it became a thing. Meanw
01/09/2022 • 35 minutes 18 seconds
Mailbag, Part 2: Favorite Kobe Interactions, Best Lakers Highlights, Shaq's Dominance and More!
It's Part 2 of the Locked on Lakers Summer Mailbag, taped at the Du/er shop in Los Angeles.
We start talking the evolving Lakers backcourt. First and foremost, is there any chance the Lakers might hold on to Pat Beverley and Russell Westbrook, despite the fact these guys legit hate each other? What would that look like? And just as important, if Westbrook is still here, what exactly does that mean for the rotation? How does Darvin Ham chop up minutes between Westbrook, Beverley and Kendrick Nunn, given some of their size and defensive limitations?
From there, it's a lot of questions that look back at great Lakers moments.
Favorite non-basketball interaction with Kobe Bryant? Hint, it involves an opportunity to make fun of Sasha Vujacic!
All=time favorite highlight of a Lakers team?
What made the Threepeat, back-to-back and Bubble title squads special, respectively? Was it style of play? What made each unique?
Do people focus too often on how the greats could have been greater, or in th
30/08/2022 • 37 minutes 31 seconds
Lakers Mailbag, Part 1: Can Beverley and Westbrook Co-Exist? Would Myles Turner Give LA an Elite Defense? And More!
It's the end of August. The Lakers have made one trade (Patrick Beverley, welcome!) and are looking to improve by making more. Will it happen? Is Russell Westbrook automatically headed out the door? What does the rotation look like if he stays? These are just a few of the questions we address in Part 1 of our Locked On Lakers mailbag, taped live at the Du/er store in Los Angeles!
We start with questions about Westbrook and the roster. Could they still waive-and-stretch? Regardless of what they do with Russ, LeBron and Anthony Davis have to dominate for this team to have any chance, right? Deeper into the roster, what are reasonable expectations for Max Christie? What could he show to indicate he'll be a solid NBA player one day?
From there, we answer a segment's worth of questions from Locked On viewer Alan, who stopped by the Du/er shop. He had a trifecta: Could Pat Bev play the 2 for LA? Would Myles Turner, combined with Beverley, give the Lakers an elite level D? Finally, who would
29/08/2022 • 38 minutes 13 seconds
The Lakers Acquire Patrick Beverley for Talen Horton-Tucker and Stanley Johnson. Is Westbrook Next to Go?
It wasn't the trade people were expecting, necessarily, but it was a pretty important one. Wednesday night, the Lakers agreed to send G/F Talen Horton-Tucker and forward Stanley Johnson to Utah for veteran point guard Patrick Beverley. Assuming Beverley at 34 can keep up his track record of defense and (a slump from distance last year notwithstanding) good 3-point shooting, he'll improve the Lakers in both areas this season. Meanwhile, THT and Johnson both had potential, in different ways, and potential value, in different ways, but neither had a clear path to significant playing time.
So in that sense - one guy in who will play a lot for two guys out who might not have - the Lakers improve.
So what's next? On the surface at least, it appears to be a trade that comes before another trade, in part because it leaves the Lakers with a glut at point guard in Beverley, Russell Westbrook and Kendrick Nunn (on a team already featuring a point guard in LeBron James), but also because Westbrook
25/08/2022 • 38 minutes 21 seconds
Kevin Durant is Staying in Brooklyn, Which Means Kyrie Irving Isn't Coming to the Lakers. Plan B?
So, all that stuff? Just kidding. Nothing to see here, anymore.
Yep, Tuesday saw Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets agree to move forward together in pursuit of an NBA championship. Nothing about this is particularly surprising - short of an overwhelming offer Brooklyn had zero incentive to move Durant and KD had almost no leverage to force the team's hand - but it is nonetheless revealing. The landscape in the NBA has changed and superstars flexing, or trying to flex, are finding that context can make a big difference in determining whether that flex works.
For the Lakers, there are long term implications around stars and star culture, but the more immediate impact? No Kyrie Irving. If Durant ain't moving, neither is Kyrie. So where to the Lakers go now, knowing that their top trade target is off the market, and there aren't exactly a ton of teams clamoring to take Russell Westbrook off their hands?
Does it put more pressure on them to engineer a deal with the Pacers, trying to preser
24/08/2022 • 36 minutes 2 seconds
Part 2: More Reasons for Optimism with the Lakers in 2022-23
Monday's episode was all about reasons to feel optimistic that this year's Lakers could pay off ESPN predictions to become Team Turnaround, rather than those picking them to be this season's Team Turmoil. Subtle indications the shooting could be a little better than believed, for example. Today, more reasons to feel positive! Because we're all about the vibes this week.
For starters, go to the centers. The Lakers had arguably the worst, most unplayable pair of C's the league has seen in a while, ping-ponging from DeAndre Jordan to Dwight Howard when Anthony Davis was either unavailable or playing power forward. With Thomas Bryant and Damian Jones, the Lakers recover a lot of the qualities they've worked effectively whether with JaVale McGee/Howard in 2020, or what was supposed to be working with Marc Gasol and Montrezz Harrell two seasons ago. Spacing, vertical threats, athleticism, and so on.
Then there's coaching. His fault or not, Frank Vogel didn't add value last year, and probably
23/08/2022 • 42 minutes 21 seconds
Could the Lakers Make a Big Turnaround in 2022-23? Reasons for Optimism, Part 1
There are plenty of reasons to worry about the Lakers this season, especially if you're setting the bar at a championship. Or even avoiding the play-in tournament. Or if you want to get really dark, making the play-in tournament. But while ESPN gave them better odds this year to be "Team Turmoil," they also landed on the "Team Turnaround" list in their annual summer polling of execs and whatnot. So how can that happen?
First, it's important to define terms. What does a turnaround mean? Is it a championship? Because if that's the only definition, Lakers fans are almost certain to be disappointed. But if turnaround can mean something else?
And to that end, it's important fans remember that damn near everything that could go wrong last season did. Technically, not everything - it could have been worse - but replicating that string of bad outcomes will be hard.
So with that in mind, what are some realistic things that could change this season that will help improve the team's fortunes?
22/08/2022 • 32 minutes 49 seconds
Will the Nets Decline the Lakers' Best Offer for Kyrie Irving? Plus, Lakers Retiring Pau's Jersey!
It's been assumed (by many, at least) the Lakers, once Brooklyn was ready to deal and the Lakers would throw in a second first-round pick, would acquire Kyrie Irving from the Nets. But what if the conventional wisdom here isn't correct? What if the Nets, even after Irving goes on the market, simply aren't interested in a package built around those two picks, especially if it means taking on Russell Westbrook (which it would)?
That's the question percolating as the week comes to a close, as multiple reports are noting this might be the situation facing L.A.... Brooklyn isn't currently interested in what the Lakers have to offer. Now some of that is probably posturing. Brooklyn obviously wants as robust a market for Irving as possible, should they decide to move him. But it could also reflect their preferences, and that matters.
So if they can't get Irving - not just before the season, but period - what do the Lakers do next? Pull the trigger on a trade for Buddy Hield and Myles Turner w
19/08/2022 • 34 minutes 23 seconds
LeBron James Signs a Two-Year Contract Extension, and the Lakers Have a Schedule!
Wednesday was a busy one for Lakers news. Big enough that the NBA's schedule drop wasn't even close to the top news of the day coming out of El Segundo. Instead, it's LeBron James! He and the Lakers have agreed to a two-year contract extension (with a player option for the 2024-25 season) that will keep him with the team for at least two more seasons. This puts to bed in relatively short order any potential for the future of James and the Lakers to become a storyline through this season, and gives both sides a little bit of certainty going forward.
So why did LeBron agree to stay? Is he confident the Lakers front office is moving things in a positive direction? Does it mean a trade for Russell Westbrook is soon to follow? Does he just like it in Los Angeles, and doesn't want to uproot and/or leave his family for a couple seasons, before potentially doing the same again in a couple seasons if the chance to play with his son presents itself?
Unfortunately for Lakers fans, this one doesn'
18/08/2022 • 35 minutes 17 seconds
Hulu's "Legacy" Explores a Complex Buss Family Dynamic, and Dr. Buss' Success Building the Lakers
This week, Hulu dropped the first two episodes of "Legacy: The True Story of the Los Angeles Lakers." And while it appears on the surface to be a direct response to the fictionalized HBO adaption of Jeff Pearlman's "Winning Time," that's not exactly the case. (One doesn't whip together a 10-part documentary in a few months.) Still, it's clearly got the stamp of approval from the organization, which translates into tons of participation from people across the Lakers universe, great footage, and a host of interesting stories.
But is it good?
Yeah, it is! While it's fair to say the doc and director Antoine Fuqua don't go scorched earth (not a requirement for a documentary) there is early reference to the issues the Buss children will face trying to carry the legacy of their father forward, and serious screen time paid to the shortcomings of Jerry Buss as a father and a husband. Fuqua does a good job contrasting those failings against his enormous accomplishments as a businessman, his visi
17/08/2022 • 36 minutes 48 seconds
Can the Lakers Be Contenders if They Trade for Kyrie Irving? (Guest, Trevor Lane, Part II)
In Part I of our interview with Trevor Lane of Lakers Nation, we talked a lot about what the Lakers are now. In Part II, we focus on what they might become, if the team can swing one of the rumored deals on the table for Russell Westbrook. First and foremost, which deal does Trevor think is best for the Lakers? He's a believer in the Kyrie Irving swap, based on the upside, especially if the Lakers can get a couple other players back in the deal.
First, Kyrie is still a transcendent talent, all the weirdness aside. Second, acquiring him with someone like Joe Harris would sort out the current rotation in a more coherent way, while making the spacing around Anthony Davis and LeBron James significantly better. Yes, there are risks - significant ones, at that -
So how much better would the Lakers be, if they managed to pull this off? Would they become contenders in a crowded Western Conference? High end, but needing a break or two? What would the Lakers expect from Kyrie from a behavior sta
16/08/2022 • 37 minutes 40 seconds
The Lakers Will Open The Season Against the Warriors, then the Clippers. (Guest: Trevor Lane)
It's Part 1 of a two-part show with Trevor Lane of LakersNation.com! We start with the weekend's news - that the Lakers will open with a pair of very tough games, October 18 against the Warriors in San Francisco to open the NBA season, then October 20 at the Crypt vs. the Clippers. For a team that needs to get off to a good start, that's a tough early slate. So is that good for them? Bad? What happens if they win? How much angst if they're blown out?
Do the Lakers, who had a soft schedule early last year and struggled against it, benefit from a tougher early season slate?
How good are the Lakers, right now? ESPN projected them at 42 wins. Fair? Unfair? How many things have to go right for the Lakers to get to their ceiling? How many of those things are likely? What does Trevor feel like they did well this offseason? What are the strengths, what are the places that are going to be more problematic? (In the plus side, youth! On the minus, shooting!)
At the least, compared to last year, t
15/08/2022 • 35 minutes 56 seconds
The NBA Will Retire Bill Russell's #6. Should LeBron James Change His Number? Plus, Kyrie Tweets!
The NBA announced Thursday that Bill Russell, the larger-than-life icon who died last month at the age of 88, will be honored in a series of ways this season. First, his #6 will be retired leaguewide, though players (like LeBron James) who currently wear the number can keep it if they choose. Second, there will be jersey patches worn across the NBA, and every stadium will have a shamrock with a #6 inside, displayed next to the scorer's table.
It's that last part that has at least some Lakers fans cringing a little, even if they know it's the right thing to do. Is it ok to lean into the pettiness of the Lakers/Celtics rivalry here, and balk at the shamrock on a Lakers home floor? Might Russell himself understand where Lakers fans are coming from?
The bigger question: What does LeBron do? There is obviously an argument to be made that James should immediately give up his #6. Especially since he's worn 23 at different points in his career, anyway. On the other hand, if James, a person wit
12/08/2022 • 36 minutes 27 seconds
Darvin Ham and LeBron James Agree, Anthony Davis Should be the Focal Point on Offense
The Lakers braintrust met recently and covered a lot of ground, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports. Interestingly enough, a contract extension for LeBron James wasn't really the frontburner item. Instead, Rob Pelinka, Darvin Ham and James tried to lay out a vision for the season, and gain a common understanding of what's coming. And there was a lot discussed over an hour or so. Anthony Davis is going to be the focal point of the offense. Things will run through him, everyone agrees. So what does that mean? How will that impact LeBron's ability not just to stay healthy, but give a little more to the defensive side of things than he did last year?
Haynes reports that Pelinka plans to be patient with the roster, and everyone agreed to see how things shake out before making any big moves. That's code for "Russell Westbrook is going to be here." (That's a message not just for the players, but for the fans, just as a heads up.) So if that's the case, what are they going to do with hi
11/08/2022 • 35 minutes 35 seconds
Lakers in Holding Pattern After Joe Tsai Rebuffs Durant's Ultimatum. Plus, the Ham/Russ dynamic.
Monday, it was revealed that Kevin Durant served Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai with an ultimatum: You can keep me, or you can keep coach Steve Nash and GM Sean Marks. But you really can't keep both, if you want to keep me happy, at least. Tuesday, Tsai revealed his response: We like support our coach, our GM will make decisions based on what's best for the org and will do it on our timeline.
So there you have it. Many Lakers fans saw the news and assumed that KD and the Nets are now at loggerheads, and that a trade would have to come fast. And hey, maybe it does, but unfortunately for the Lakers (who want to swoop in on that fallout and snatch up Kyrie Irving), Durant and Brooklyn being at an impasse doesn't necessarily mean the trade will come quickly, or that the Nets automatically trade Irving even when it does.
And big picture, what we've seen over the last couple seasons with the failures of the Nets and Lakers could usher in a major culture change in the league, regarding how team
10/08/2022 • 35 minutes 41 seconds
How Kevin Durant's Ultimatum to the Brooklyn Nets Impacts the Lakers, Westbrook and Kyrie Irving
The Lakers are still reportedly very, very interested in acquiring Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving, and to get him the Nets likely need resolution to the Kevin Durant Trade Situation. And that end of things saw some huge news Monday, as The Athletic's Shams Charania reports Durant gave Nets owner Joe Tsai an ultimatum: You can have me, or you can have GM Sean Marks and coach Steve Nash. You can't have both.
So does that make it more likely Durant is moved? On the one hand, Tsai can't give into Durant's demands, or he cedes total control of his organization to one player, and torches his credibility across the league. On the other, what team wants to give up the farm for a 34-year old superstar who got EVERYTHING he asked for in Brooklyn, and still demands a trade?
And even if Durant is moved, does that mean the Nets will automatically be in a situation where they are tearing it all down and have to rebuild, adding the spoils of an Irving deal to whatever they get for Durant? Not so fa
09/08/2022 • 36 minutes 56 seconds
Would Trading Russell Westbrook to Utah Be a Better Option for the Lakers?
A new trade possibility emerged for the Lakers (and Russell Westbrook), at least in theory. According to Michael Scotto of Hoopshype reported late last week that Los Angeles could get itself involved in the talks between New York and Utah around Donovan Mitchell, whether as literal players in that hypothetical swap (turning it into a three-team deal) or as a vulture picking at the carcass of a now rebuilding Jazz squad. But the bones of a deal: Westbrook and a first rounder for two of Bojan Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson, Malik Beasley and Pat Beverley.
Is this a good idea?
Well, it depends on a few things, namely whether the Lakers could maneuver to a place where they could absorb as much unpleasant money tied to useful-but-overpaid players without surrendering significant assets. Draft capital, specifically. If that's an option? Sure, let's break Westbrook up into smaller contracts, and add some useful players in return.
But if that's not an option? While many fans would appreciate the
08/08/2022 • 35 minutes 12 seconds
Can LeBron and Anthony Davis be the Best Duo in the Western Conference? (Guest: Mo Dakhil, Part 2!)
LeBron James and Anthony Davis have the potential to be a formidable duo, despite last year's disaster. That is, of course, if both stay healthy and especially if Davis is an All Star (which is good... but not good enough) or an All-NBA caliber player. Someone in the MVP conversation. That's what the Lakers need, of course, to have a chance. Can all that stuff happen? That's one question asked to The Athletic and Bleacher Report's Mo Dakhil in Part 2 of his appearance. In a conference filled with stars, where does LA's Big 2 stand?
From there, it's a look at how the hell the Lakers find themselves in this position, anyway. How did the team go from winning a title in 2020 to missing the playoffs in 2022 and being a massive, massive question mark for the 2023 postseason. What is it about their approach/work that has led everyone here?
And what about the rest of the supporting cast? Even if the Lakers can squeeze what they want from LeBron and Davis, is the rest of the roster, 3-14, anywh
05/08/2022 • 43 minutes 3 seconds
Where the Lakers Stand in the Western Conference Today, with Guest Mo Dakhil! (Part 1)
The Lakers have had another summer of change, and more change is expected (or at least, if you're John Q. LakersFan, badly wanted). But right now, as the NBA offseason rolls into the dog days of August, where do things stand for Los Angeles relative to the rest of the conference? Are they a playoff team? A play-in team? Something (gulp) worse? How exactly did the Lakers get to this place, and is there any way out? (Hint, the issue could be cultural, coming from the front office.)
Andy is still wandering the wilderness, but that's no problem. Fielding all of these questions and more is the great Mo Dakhil, of Bleacher Report, The Athletic and the host of One Mo Thing, one of the great educational NBA segments on the Internet. It's Part 1 of a Two Part Moapallooza!
What kind of timeline are the Lakers on when it comes to a Kevin Durant trade, so it might move things along with Kyrie Irving? What comes out of the big summit meeting between Durant and Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai? Can th
04/08/2022 • 36 minutes 49 seconds
Why Russell Westbrook's New Agent Matters, Plus Jeanie Buss: Hacked! and the Best Trade Options
Andy's still out, but that's ok! Jacob Rude, the fantastic writer for Silver Screen and Roll joins the show. We start with Thomas Bryant, returning to the Lakers after a few years in Washington. As a former Indiana Hoosier, Jacob (who also hosts Locked On Hoosiers), Bryant has been a player he's followed closely. What exactly can the Lakers expect from the guy in his return? What's different about Bryant now vs. the guy the Lakers drafted. Is he going to start?
From there, it's on to Russell Westbrook. He has a new agent, Jeff Schwartz, who certainly represents a host of big players across the NBA, and has also negotiated a ton of buyouts. That, no question, got people's attention. Will that be relevant before the season starts? Does Jacob think the Lakers should give it a try, or just cut bait? What about the potential trades? Is Kyrie worth waiting for, or should the Lakers pull the trigger on Indiana (Buddy Hield and Myles Turner)?
Finally, Jeanie Buss's Twitter feed was hacked, and
03/08/2022 • 37 minutes 13 seconds
Scouting Juan Toscano-Anderson, Plus an Outsider's View of the Lakers and Their Best Trade Path
Andy's on vacation, but the show doesn't stop! Cyrus Saatsaz, host of Locked On Warriors, stops by the show. We start with a scouting report on Juan Toscano-Anderson. What is a reasonable expectation, and how many minutes are too many for JTA? It's been a while since the Lakers had a real, live wing, but while Toscano-Anderson should be a fan favorite, just how big a role could/should he play for the Lakers this year?
We talk trades. The Lakers efforts to trade Russell Westbrook and get Kyrie Irving are tied to the Nets moving Kevin Durant. Is Golden State still a live possibility? Are the Lakers a contender if they can swing a one of these big trades? That leads to a conversation about how long these Warriors could play at a championship level, obviously a question of importance to Lakers fans given GSW's status as one of the teams LA would have to chase down.
Spoiler alert: With vets who could age well in Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, a third cog in Draymond Green they can increasin
02/08/2022 • 45 minutes 13 seconds
Will LeBron James Sign a Contract Extension with the Lakers Quickly, Or Will He Make Them Wait?
With all the conversation about roster building and trades, especially trades involving Russell Westbrook that are yet to happen, one bit of critical housekeeping has received at least a little less attention. LeBron James is eligible for a two-year extension starting on August 4th. The Lakers are expected to quickly get the offer out there, but nobody is quite sure yet if/when James might accept it. He has options - he can sign for one additional year, two additional years (or perhaps one and an option year) or just become a free agent after this season.
Obviously his decision has a massive influence on the direction of the franchise going forward.
So what is James going to do? Reports suggest he and his family are very happy in Los Angeles, and at the least, aren't angry with the Lakers. But on the other... I think we can all agree that at least right now, the Lakers can't be considered high-end contenders in the Western Conference. Historically, when James feels like he can't win,
01/08/2022 • 42 minutes 51 seconds
Does Talen Horton-Tucker Have a Clear Spot In the Lakers' Rotation? Plus, Don't Forget Kendrick Nunn!
We all know the Lakers are still working the phones, trying to improve the roster. Because, let's be honest here, this roster isn't currently good enough to win much of anything this season. But while we wait, it's reasonable to look at where things stand. What might a rotation look like? Who starts, who comes off the bench? Friend of the show Jovan Buha did just that over at The Athletic, and in doing so noted that Talen Horton-Tucker, L.A.'s fourth highest paid player, doesn't have a clear-and-easy space where he fits into a 10 man rotation.
Maybe he's right, maybe he's wrong, but the problem Jovan notes (THT needs the ball in his hands, needs shooting around him, and so on) are things others have seen as well. And it's a function of building a team out of scraps the rest of the league doesn't prioritize. Beggars can't be choosers. So how do they fix it? And more broadly, how many players in this rotation have to exceed expectations for the Lakers to make real noise in the West?
29/07/2022 • 35 minutes 54 seconds
Do the Lakers Have a Deadline To Trade Away Russell Westbrook? Can he Actually Attend Training Camp?
There is no question the Lakers need to get better, and in related news, they'd also like to trade Russell Westbrook. Doing the former by doing the latter, though, is proving to be a challenge. At least not without surrendering more assets than the Lakers (who are asset poor to say the least) would like to give up. There is, nonetheless, a line of thinking put out by many smart folks in the Lakers Opinionverse that says things are too far gone with Russ, and the LA needs to get a deal done before training camp.
A practical deadline, if not a hard and fast one.
But are they right? What happens if the Lakers open camp with Westbrook still on the roster? What if they open the season with him there? Is it guaranteed to be a disaster? Do the normal factors typically impacting these situations - the friction between a team trying to trade a guy and then failing to do it - apply in this situation? And if he's still in Los Angeles, is the best solution for the Lakers simply to pay Westbrook to
28/07/2022 • 35 minutes 49 seconds
Phil Handy Gets an Extension, Darvin Ham Generates More Confidence, and No Rasheed Wallace?
News around the Lakers has been dominated by potential trades, whether for Kyrie Irving or Myles Turner and Buddy Hield. Tuesday, the rumor mill was quiet, giving everyone a break. At least for a day. And we learned the Lakers made a low key important move, as ESPN's Marc Spears reported a contract extension for assistant coach Phil Handy. As one of the most respected assistants in the game, with a strong background in player development, the franchise (and new head coach Darvin Ham) need his skill set in a big way. A contract extension may not keep him here forever - there is always chatter Handy could end up a head coach - but it helps.
Handy's ability as a communicator becomes important as Ham moves to a different role than he has traditionally played. Darvin won't stop talking with players, and won't stop dealing with them straight, but there's a difference between being head coach and an assistant when it comes to the freedom players often feel to talk about issues they might have
27/07/2022 • 38 minutes 41 seconds
Does The Celtics Going after Kevin Durant Make It Harder for the Lakers to get Kyrie Irving?
There is a line of thinking that the minute the Brooklyn Nets trade Kevin Durant, it becomes easier for the Lakers to acquire Kyrie Irving. This seems to be the preferred outcome for the organization, and certainly many fans, compared at least to the possibility of acquiring Buddy Hield and Myles Turner from Indiana.
But Boston's potential package for Brooklyn could be really good, including both Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart, plus another rotation player and some picks. If that's the case, the Nets would still, in theory, have a very competitive team and wouldn't be in a hurry to jettison Kyrie (who, for what it's worth, says he wants to stay with the Nets) or if they did trade him, would potentially want more instantly useable players than Russell Westbrook.
At least the Lakers would have clarity.
So which trade would ultimately be better? Would the Lakers benefit more from the defense someone like Turner could bring, next to Anthony Davis?
Finally, some housekeeping: We can confirm,
26/07/2022 • 37 minutes 9 seconds
Is the Hield/Turner for Westbrook/Draft Picks Trade Dead? Should the Lakers Revive It?
Last week brought the news that the Lakers had been kicking the tires again on a potential trade with Indiana that would bring guard Buddy Hield and perhaps center Myles Turner to Los Angeles in exchange for (broadly) Russell Westbrook and draft picks. Or apparently, draft PICK, which explains why the deal is reportedly dead for now. The Pacers want the Lakers to include both of their tradable first round picks, and Lakers are only willing - for now - to part with one. Is that a mistake for the Lakers, who undeniably need to improve their talent base and upgrade their shooting to have even a moderate shot at contention this year?
Would making this deal improve them enough to make it worth it?
If they hold out, what exactly might those assets bring? Can they wait around for Brooklyn to sort out this Kevin Durant mess, and by extension, the Kyrie Irving question? Given the way the NBA trade market is currently working, is it reasonable to expect those two distant first rounders to yield
25/07/2022 • 35 minutes 57 seconds
Should the Lakers Wait for Kyrie Irving or Trade Now for Buddy Hield? How Badly Do They Need a Deal?
Some interesting numbers were released today by our friends at Betonline - namely, the first look at win projections. Every team gets a marker set, and bettors can go over or under. Well, almost every team. The Lakers and Brooklyn Nets were conspicuously off the board. Why? Because people are expecting trades (or at least recognizing the possibility) and understand the impact could have a massive impact on win totals. If the Nets trade Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, for example, and if the Lakers both ditch Russell Westbrook, and/or acquire someone like Irving or perhaps Indiana sharpshooter Buddy Hield and maybe center Myles Turner.
They're not giving the Lakers a number until they know what kind of team that number is assigned to. It indicates a big range of potential outcomes, depending on what the Lakers do. So first, how badly do the Lakers need a trade? Is there any other way they can add shooting beyond packages from Indiana or Brooklyn (which could also throw in Joe Harris and
22/07/2022 • 37 minutes 24 seconds
Are the Lakers Now Looking to Trade for Buddy Hield Instead of Kyrie Irving?
While the world waits to see if the Lakers can swing a trade for Kyrie Irving with Brooklyn - a tough proposition given that Brooklyn will almost certainly wait until they get resolution on the Kevin Durant situation before moving Kyrie - could L.A. again be looking in another direction? A familiar direction? ESPN's Dave McMenamin reports the Lakers are again exploring a trade that would bring Indiana's Buddy Hield to Los Angeles. Remember, it was Hield the Lakers were set to acquire before going in a VERY different direction and acquiring Russell Westbrook from Washington, instead.
So what would a trade for Hield look like? Could the Lakers do that AND still stay in the Irving sweepstakes? What if they have to choose? If nothing else, do the Lakers have to do SOMETHING that brings in more shooting before the season starts?
Meanwhile, Westbrook, LeBron James and Anthony Davis reportedly spoke during the first week of NBA Summer League, in an effort to make sure they were on the same pa
21/07/2022 • 35 minutes 3 seconds
Where it All Stands for the Lakers, Nets, Westbrook, Kyrie, Durant, LeBron... Hell, Everyone!!!
A day barely passes without some news leaking about the Los Angeles Lakers, the Brooklyn Nets, and some trade that will affect Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Anthony Davis... even folks like Joe Harris, Seth Curry, and Talen Horton-Tucker, or teams like the San Antonio Spurs, Phoenix Suns, Indiana Pacers or Charlotte Hornets. So much of the NBA landscape is essentially stuck in neutral as the Nets sort out their conflict with the disgruntled Durant, which could create a butterfly effect of massive proportions.
So what's happening these days in Brooklyn? To break it all down, Andy Kamenetzky (with Brian Kamenetzky out on vacation) spoke with Adam Armbrecht from Locked On Nets. The topics included the trade offers thus far declined for Durant, what makes him difficult to move, why he even wants out in the first place, and where things stand between the Nets and Irving, the Lakers' high profile target. Would the Nets move him without first having a resolution
20/07/2022 • 36 minutes 48 seconds
More Reaction to Drama with Westbrook, LeBron and the Lakers, plus Cole Swider Fever is Catching!
A day has passed since a weird weekend that began with Russell Westbrook splitting with long-time agent Thad Foucher (according to Foucher's statement, over a conflict about Westbrook's future with the Lakers) and ended with LeBron James dominating the Drew League after sending out a tweet that felt like possibly trolling his current teammate. Increasingly, it appears LeBron would prefer Russ become an ex-teammate, but for the time being, there's no traction on a deal for his preferred/former running mate, Kyrie Irving. If anything, it feels just as likely that LeBron and Russ could be stuck together for another season under less than ideal circumstances.
Either way, it's been a brutal year for Westbrook's image, as Foucher noted while explaining his side of the story.
With Brian out on vacation, Andy spoke with Silver Screen and Roll writer/podcaster Alex Regla (@alexmregla) about this mess in L.A., LeBron's possible endgame here, and Westbrook's fall from grace. Plus, his thoughts on
19/07/2022 • 37 minutes 32 seconds
Russell Westbrook, Agent Part Ways in Disagreement about Lakers. LeBron Seems to be Trolling Russ.
Friday night saw Russell Westbrook and his longtime agent Thad Foucher part ways in what was described as "irreconcilable differences," featuring the longest, most detailed post-split statement from a rep... ever? In a nutshell, it appears that the Lakers were the source of tension between the men, with Foucher of the belief that Westbrook would be best served by playing out his final season with the purple and gold, rather than getting traded for the fourth time in four seasons, and Westbrook... well... disagreeing.
Meanwhile, barely any time passed after this news broke before LeBron James' agent Rich Paul Tweeted out "It's a cold game!" Client LeBron then retweeted Paul with "Facts!!! (COLD EMOJI) a$$ game brother!" What exactly they were saying here could be interpreted several different ways (in and of itself a problem), and none of them feel particularly charitable towards Westbrook (an even bigger problem). This social media jab(?) comes off as an increasing effort by LeBron to
18/07/2022 • 32 minutes 32 seconds
Scouting Report: Could Lonnie Walker IV Break Out Next Season?
So, yeah. Here's the deal. Very, very few Lakers fans were excited when the Lakers announced, only a few hours into free agency. an agreement with former San Antonio Spurs guard/forward Lonnie Walker IV. One year, full taxpayer midlevel exception. The Spurs, well known for their talent development chops, decided Walker wasn't worth bringing back, even though he's a recent first round pick, and is only 23. His three-point shooting has tailed off as his volume rises, and Walker is, charitably... not a good defensive player.
On the other hand, he's an athletic freak, and as shown the ability to attack the rim. If the Lakers run the way Darvin Ham seems to want, Walker could have some utility. But did they rush too fast to sign Walker? How might Walker respond to a different coaching staff? To having a guy like LeBron on the squad?
This was, at least by dollar amount, the big free agent signing of the offseason for the Lakers. Is it as big a misfire as some believe?
Meanwhile, the Spurs ha
15/07/2022 • 36 minutes 59 seconds
Should the Lakers Trade for a (Different) Star, or Trade for Better Roster Depth?
Over at The Athletic, Seth Portnow has issued his yearly "tiers" ratings, And while we're not yet at the main course (where do LeBron and Anthony Davis end up?) the series has already revealed a couple fairly devastating things about the Lakers, and the level of talent on the roster. Russell Westbrook, who cost the Lakers a first round pick and valuable depth, is near the bottom of Tier 5, ranked outside the top 100 players in the league. Meanwhile, no other Lakers (aside from James and Davis) will appear on the list at all.
Compared to other teams in the Western Conference, this illustrates a staggering lack of roster depth. Is there any way the Lakers can make it up? Even if you think their middle tier guys pop a little - think Lonnie Walker, Thomas Bryant, Talen Horton-Tucker, Austin Reaves - does that get them to the talent level of, say, Denver? Of Golden State?
Ummmmm..... no. It doesn't.
So how can they fix it? Well, with Donovan Mitchell trade rumors now swirling, it raises an
14/07/2022 • 38 minutes 47 seconds
Wait, Now Kyrie Irving Wants to Stay in Brooklyn? Seriously? (Hint: Not Seriously.)
Another day, another spin in the Wheel of Kyrie Irving Trade Rumors! Today, it's a report in the New York Post from sour