Free agency 2018 could potentially mark the beginning of a new era in Los Angeles. With expiring contracts and the availability of big-name players this summer, the Lakers have the opportunity to become a playoff team. While there are plenty of options, Paul George seems to be the fan favorite in LA to come home and play alongside the young core of the Lakers. But should the Lakers want Paul George?
First of all, let’s talk about who can’t be signed to new contracts for the Lakers for this summer to be a success. Brook Lopez, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Corey Brewer. These 3 combine for nearly $50 million in the last year of their current contracts. None of these guys deserve the money they are making now and are not essential for the Lakers that are clearly building for the future. Julius Randle, who has been in trade rumors for what seems like forever, is on the last year of his contract, making about $4 million. However, Randle is only 23, and he will have a solid career as a power forward in the NBA. The Lakers need to seriously consider trying to keep him around.
Now, this is where the other options come in to play for the Lakers. There are two players that I see fitting in best with Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, and Julius Randle. Those players are none other than Demarcus Cousins and Avery Bradley. But why pursue Avery Bradley and not Paul George? The answer to this is simple. The Lakers are arguably always the center of attention in the NBA media. I can already imagine all of the stories and articles regarding the tension between Paul George and Demarcus Cousins. I just don’t see these two working well together. If George plays for his hometown Lakers, he will want to be the leader, and to be honest, I wouldn’t blame him. I don’t see Cousins taking the backseat to Paul George.
Avery Bradley and Demarcus Cousins just make sense to me. Lonzo and Cousins seem like the perfect match. Lonzo will create on offense and Cousins will feed off of it like we’ve never seen from him before. Bradley, a great defender and good scorer, will also fit in naturally. If they can keep Randle, I like the potential that the Lakers would have, while also being a strong team in the bottom half of the playoff picture in the West. But no matter what happens, the Lakers cannot mess up this summer. The money they have available can be spent poorly in free agency. We see it all the time, teams overpaying players is the trend. The Lakers need to be aggressive with the better free agents and make something happen. There is only one name that could POTENTIALLY (I’m not sure I see this) complicate things for the Lakers: LeBron James. If he shows any interest in the Lakers, they don’t have any other reasonable option other than making it happen.
With the new vote count among Eastern Conference guards, it has become clear that fan voting has turned into a popularity contest. I could go on and talk about why Ben Simmons isn’t a top 3 guard in the East, but I’m going to dismiss that for now. Dwyane Wade and Isaiah Thomas are actually in the top 10. Yes, I already checked if you were wondering, this is indeed the voting for this year. Dwyane Wade, who doesn’t start, and Isaiah Thomas, who has played 3 games, are ahead of Bradley Beal. I honestly don’t give a shit about Bradley Beal, but he sure as hell deserves to be in the all-star game above those two, as he averages almost 24 ppg. Unfortunately, most of the fan voting occurs on social media, which allows people to simply retweet to vote for undeserving players. Obviously, there are more Cavs fans due to LeBron James and their recent dominance of the Eastern Conference than there are fans of Bradley Beal.
The fans have officially made a joke out of what it means to be an all-star in the NBA. Luckily, fan vote does not solely determine who makes the all-star game. There is plenty wrong with the current vote count, and if this is any reflection of who ends up making it, things are going to get bad for the NBA. It’s time for the NBA to realize fans can’t even handle the ability to vote for players that deserve all-star status.
And also, if you think Ben Simmons is a top 3 guard in the East, please seek help.
Knowing that the NBA playoffs ended last month and free agency isn’t even completely over, would it even be a blog if we didn’t start talking about the 2018 playoffs?
- Golden State Warriors – No reasoning needed.
- San Antonio Spurs – I don’t believe anyone in the West improved enough to take the 2 spot over the Spurs.
- Oklahoma City Thunder – With the addition of Paul George and the resigning of Roberson I see the Thunder as one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. Oh yeah, and they have Russell Westbrook still.
- Minnesota Timberwolves – I think with trade for Jimmy Butler losing potentially nothing and the signings of Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson. I think the Wolves win 20 more games moving them up to 4th in the West this year.
- Houston Rockets – I think with the addition of Chris Paul the Rockets became worse simply because there is only one basketball and now two ball dominant guards.. Also they’re trying to trade for Melo???? Reminder Houston: 1 BALL.
- Portland Trailblazers – Lillard and McCollum are just amazing. Nurkic stays healthy averaging 15pts 10rebs 3ast and 2blks. I think they have a bright future. Even though I think the Zach Collins pick was awful. I believe they got a steal in Caleb Swanigan in the draft.
- Los Angeles Clippers – The Clippers became drastically worse this off season but I still don’t see them falling out of the playoffs. (assuming Blake is healthy which is a long shot) I believe in the Chris Paul trade they received enough to keep themselves in the playoffs.
- Denver Nuggets – Jokic is arguably the most interesting player in the NBA. Pair him along side Paul Milsap and I see the Nuggets in the playoffs. The only thing that troubles me about the Nuggets is they have way to many “bigs” who deserve to play and not enough guards.
- Boston Celtics – The Celtics have something to prove after signing Hayward. Also they drafted Jayson Tatum and if you’ve watched summer league wow! That kid can play.
- Cleveland Cavaliers – Easy as this they have LeBron. The only reason they’re not the 1st seed because LeBron takes 3-4 games off a month and their bench is horrendous.
- Milwaukee Bucks – I believe this year the Bucks make the jump from the 6th seed all the way up to the 3 seed. Jabari is going to stay healthy and be one of the top scorers in the whole Eastern Conference. Also don’t forget they have Giannis.
- Washington Wizards – They ultimately gain nothing and lose nothing this off season so I like the Wizards staying here at 4.
- Toronto Raptors – The raptors became worse this off season changed nothing and lost two role players in Corey Joseph and Demarre Carroll and received C.J Miles…. If you think C.J is going to bail your underachieving out then think again. Also drafted OG Anunoby who may not play this year. I don’t understand the Raptors off season at all.
- Charlotte Hornets – With the East being so terrible, I believe the pick up of Dwight Howard for this Hornets teams actually launches them into the playoffs. Plus I think Malik Monk and Kemba Walker are going to be a deadly combo with each other. A center who is going to average over 10rebs a game is going to really help this team.
- Atlanta Hawks – Not really much to say. The East is awful this could be a 36 win team in the playoffs.
- Philadelphia 76ers – A team of great talent only if they can all stay healthy. They drafted Fultz who can already score like a NBA veteran, the kid is going to light up the stat books. Also could only be a 36-35 win team and make the playoffs and if everything comes together I think they could possibly even steal a couple of games from the 1 seed in the playoffs.
This is a long shot because we are still almost a year away until the playoffs start. Injuries, trades, etc. still will happen between now and then. But on July 12, 2017 this is how I believe the playoffs will look like come April of 2018.
The Celtics announced Friday that they were trading SG Avery Bradley to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for PF Marcus Morris and a 2nd round pick.
This trade was made to clear cap room for the newly acquired Gordon Hayward, who many believe could help the Celtics get past the Cavs. But, the loss of Avery Bradley diminishes those chances.
Yes, Hayward has more star power and is a better scorer, but Bradley is arguably the best on-ball defender in the NBA.
When you dive deeper into the numbers you see that Hayward is not much better than Bradley. Hayward averaged 21 points per game last season while shooting 47% as the go to guy on the Jazz. Bradley averaged 16 per game while shooting 46% as the third fiddle behind Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford. Bradley is also a better rebounder and a much better defender.
Then the issue for the Celtics becomes finding someone to fill the other guard position. Hayward could play there, but is better suited to play Forward. Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown could, but the Celtics would be giving up scoring for defense that still isn’t quite on Bradley’s level.
Make no mistake about it, the Celtics will be good again. But they are giving up more on defense than they will gain on offense, and in the end, it’ll be the same playoffs result as last year.
Free agency is winding down, so let’s look ahead at the Indiana Pacers outlook for next season.
- PF TJ Leaf (via draft)
- C Ike Anigbogou (via draft)
- PG Edmond Sumner (via draft
- SG Victor Oladipo (via trade)
- F/C Domantas Sabonis (via trade)
- PG Darren Collison (via free agency)
- SF/SG Bojan Bogdanovich (via free agency)
- PG Cory Joseph (via trade)
- SF Paul George (via trade)
- PG Jeff Teague (via free agency)
- SG Monta Ellis (waived)
- PG Aaron Brooks (expired)
- F CJ Miles (via trade)
- F Lavoy Allen (expired)
Obviously the big takeaway here is that the Pacers lost Paul George. They got at least one mid-level starter out of it, but it is definitely a rebuilding year. The Pacers have a little bit of a log jam in the front court as they have loaded up on bigs. Expect Anigbogou, and Sumner to spend the season in the D-League, and possibly TJ Leaf as well, if Thad Young remains on the team throughout the season. The addition of Collison was just to get a serviceable point guard and to add veteran leadership. This signing will probably keep Lance coming off the bench next season. Getting Cory Joseph for CJ Miles was a nice pickup as CJ was bound to leave anyway. This shows that the Pacers don’t believe much in Joseph Young yet. Bogdanovich is probably better than Glenn Robinson III, but he is better suited to play the role of a bench scorer, as he averaged 14 points per game off the bench last season. Overall, the Pacers got considerably worse.
Predicted Lineup (bench player)
- PG Darren Collison (Cory Joseph)
- SG Victor Oladipo (Lance Stephenson)
- SF Glenn Robinson III (Bogdanovich)
- PF Thad Young (Domantas Sabonis)
- C Myles Turner (Al Jefferson)
This Lineup doesn’t look awful on paper until you really dig into it. Collison is a high end backup at point guard at best. Cory Joseph is a solid backup. Oladipo will be a good defender and a decent second scoring option behind Myles, and Lance will provide a huge spark off the bench. GR3 started a lot of games last year when PG was hurt and did a decent job, he’ll provide decent defense and spot-up shooting. Bogdanovich is a good shooter and playmaker off the bench. Thad Young is an aging but still productive player. I don’t see Thad being on the roster by the time the first game comes around but if he is, he will start and be a low double-digit scoring guy. Sabonis off the bench will be a nice spot-up player. Myles is the guy now that PG is gone and he’s going to need to rebound better, but he will protect the rim and lead the team in scoring. Al Jefferson is aging but can still contribute a little off the bench. He’s a skilled post scorer. All in all, the East is weaker than ever, but a team with no star power will have a hard time competing in a star-driven league. Look for the Pacers to be in the lottery next year.
SALT LAKE CITY– All-Star Forward Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz has informed the team that he will be opting out of his contract and testing the open market. This announcement comes as no surprise due to the rumors that have been circulating that Hayward is Boston bound.
Opting out was the right move financially for Hayward as he was on the books for $16.73 million next year, and in free agency he will no doubt attract a 4 year $130 million max deal after a career year in which he averaged 21.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 3.5 assists.
Here are the top three potential destinations for Hayward.
1. Boston Celtics
The obvious favorite in the Hayward sweepstakes, Boston seems like a perfect fit. They have a team that is only a couple of pieces away from competing with the Cavs and the cap room to offer the max. This would also be a Butler reunion between Hayward and Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
It is rumored that if the Celtics do land Hayward that they will push for a trade for Paul George as the last piece to dethrone Lebron in the East.
2. Utah Jazz
If Hayward does decline to sign with the Celtics or if the Celtics go after Blake Griffin instead, his next best option is to stay put and re-up with the Jazz on a new max contract. The Jazz won 51 games last year and made it to the second round of the playoffs, retaining their star should be their top offseason priority.
3. Miami Heat
The Heat were a team that almost snuck in the playoffs last year. They have a near elite center in Hassan Whiteside and an emerging Dion Waiters, along with a veteran point guard in Goran Dragic. They have a good batch of role players in Tyler and James Johnson. Hayward could be the piece that could vault Miami into contention in the East.
My Prediction: Boston Celtics
This match is almost too good to be true. The Celtics need another scorer to pair with Isaiah Thomas and Hayward can be that guy. Hayward and Brad Stevens are still very close and talk often. I’ll be extremely surprised if Hayward is wearing a Jersey that doesn’t have a shamrock on it next year.