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LeBron James

The Lakers are executing ‘Plan B’ in free agency

Going into this summer, Los Angeles Lakers fans were skeptical, to say the least. There were just four players under contract, including a $33 million dollar backcourt that played less than 20 combined games last season. The team had over $20 million dollars worth of cap room, more than enough for LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony or Chris Bosh, but very few building blocks in which to attract those players to L.A.. Even after an excellent draft night including acquiring Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson, the prospects of the Lakers transforming back into a contender were slim.
 
But then…
 
Carmelo seemed to be changing his mind after a “very convincing” presentation from Lakers brass. There were rumors that LeBron James felt the same way. Kyle Lowry seemed interested in signing. Pau Gasol, for all the trade rumors swirling around him the previous three seasons, was locked in to re-sign in the event that the Lakers made positive strides with any other free agents. Despite what some felt would be a bleak summer, as always, the sunlight was peering through the clouds in Southern California.
 
This is what I called “Plan A” in a piece I penned right here on Silver Screen & Roll weeks ago. The Lakers, despite Kobe’s massive contract and all the mistakes made with Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, would rise from the ashes and begin the latest championship era of Los Angeles basketball. With either James, Anthony or both in the fold and Bryant’s deal coming off the books in two seasons, the Show would be locked and loaded for years to come.
 
Plan A, it seems, has been a massive failure. What now?
 
Plan B is well underway.
 
(Read more of this desolation at SS&R)

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What’s the plan for the Lakers in free agency?

The Lakers have already fired their opening shot in getting together their next great championship squad: drafting Jordan Clarkson.

But they also picked up a fellow named Julius Randle–the number 7 overall pick–who hopefully will be a building block in LA for the next decade or so.
 
Beyond that? This year’s free agency could tell us a lot about where the Lakers are headed…or if we’re just going to be asking the same questions for another twelve months. What are the Lakers aiming to do in the coming months?
 
Plan A: LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony or Chris Bosh. Or many of them.
 
As with most offseasons, even with no cap room or assets, the Lakers are going to be involved in the free agent rumor mill. But in an offseason where the team has room for a maximum salary contract? They’ll be involved in every whisper, no matter how farfetched.
 
Which is exactly what this situation is.
 
The Lakers have virtually no shot at the former four-time MVP, nor the former scoring champion nor the former Miami Heat Harlem Shake video MVP. The Lakers are essentially bereft of proven talent, the largest factor that any of these free agents will take into consideration before committing to another team. In short, the Show kind of stinks right now and I’m not sure any of these All-Stars want to descend into this pit.
 
(Read on at Silver Screen & Roll!)… Read more...

Is LeBron James threatening Kobe Bryant’s legacy?

Last season, with the Lakers well out of the playoffs and primary nemeses in the Boston Celtics and Clippers out of contention, I shifted my ire towards the remaining final four teams. Like everything else in my life, my passion was directed against all that may do my beloved Lake Show harm. Contrary to the emotional slings and arrows of my purple and gold loving brethren, I almost didn’t mind seeing a Miami Heat victory in the Finals. But watching another chip going to Tim Duncan, Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs? Nothing would upset me more.
 
I conveyed my thoughts in a lengthy post, centered around the notion that we as fans should be most concerned about the clear and present danger to the legacy of Lakers and one Kobe Bean Bryant.That of course, was the Spurs.
 
With a fifth title for Timmy and Pop, San Antonio would tie LA for the most chips this millennium and Duncan–with two MVPs, five ‘ships and what would have almost certainly been three Finals MVPs–would supersede Kobe for the informal title as player of his generation. Double stampies, no takebacks.
 
However, thanks to a most unlikely (and mostly hated) source–a Ray Allen three-pointer–the Spurs and Timmy couldn’t add those accolades to the argument. The Miami Heat prevailed in an epic seven-game classic, giving LeBron James and Allen their second titles and Dwyane Wade his third.
 
This year, the conversation should be largely the same for me, no? Duncan has already built his resume to the point where I don’t even know if you could call Bryant the player of his generation anymore, especially after Kobe’s lost 2013-2014 season. Another championship would etch this in stone.
 
As a Kobe Bryant fan, I can’t root for the Spurs in this Finals matchup. On the surface, they are still the clear and present danger to the Lakers (and Kobe’s) legacy. Those things, more than any lingering hatred I have for The Decision, Jesus Shuttlesworth or Wade’s errant elbows, are what dominate the frontlines of my protective basketball fandom.
 
(Silver Screen and Roll has got the rest…)

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Three-peat? Miami Heat Season Preview

Starting Five: PG Mario Chalmers, SG Dwayne Wade, F Shane Battier, F Lebron James, F/C Chris Bosh

 

Key Bench Players: Ray Allen, Udonis Haslem, Norris Cole, Chris Anderson, James Jones

 

Notable offseason additions: Greg Oden, Michael Beasley

 

Notable offseason subtractions: Mike Miller

 

FACT OR FICTION: Three-peat?

 

Fact. If you had to bet on either the Miami Heat or the field, who do you like? The Heat have LeBron so I don’t see anyway to pick the field. James is the closest thing to basketball perfection right now and maybe ever. He’s not perfect, and he can’t do it alone, but with the same core, some veterans and some potential, and a flat-faced coach who gets his guys to commit on the defensive end, the Heat are definitely the favorites.

 

We all have the same questions about the ‘13-’14 Miami Heat: Can D Wade stay healthy enough to be a consistent contributor? Can Bosh and Chalmers be the players Lebron needs if Wade isn’t a superstar? Will the bench have enough firepower or are Ray Allen and Udonis Haslem too old? Does is matter that Mike Miller is gone and Greg Oden is in? Does Michael Beasley still do drugs?

 

We asked most of these questions last summer. Mostly the answer was “yes”: the Heat won the title so they clearly did not have many major flaws. They beat a very deserving Spurs team, and faced some stiff competition along the way. It was no cake walk. Of course, with a guy like LeBron James, some nights the answers to the those questions were “no”, and it didn’t matter. There are going to be nights like that this year too. The worry for Heat fans is that at some point we are going to remember that James is a human being. But for all us NBA fans, let’s hope we aren’t forced to remember that for a few years.

So let’s focus on what’s different.… Read more...

Dwight Howard’s departure makes a Lakers future with LeBron James harder to see

The short term ramifications of losing Dwight Howard in free agency are obvious: even the most fanciful dreams of returning as title contenders next season are officially dead. The Lakers watched a 27-year-old center–whose capabilities, when healthy, make him a top-5 NBA player–walk right out the door. Gone is a future face of a franchise, whose defensive dominance would have kept the Lakers competitive even in the most dire of injury situations. The Lakers have lost their starting center, the fulcrum of their D and a perennial All-Star.
 
Long term? The damage could be much more profound. The ultimate cost may be losing a significant advantage that could have helped sign LeBron James in July 2014.
 
As I’ve detailed before, next summer’s free agency class is going to be much more underwhelming than many are making it out to be. Aside from James, there no other players that stand out as potential franchise cornerstones. Young players like Greg Monroe, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Paul George will be restricted free agents (if they aren’t extended before the season begins) whose teams are likely to match whatever contract terms they are offered. The crop of unrestricted free agents will be players like Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, Danny Granger, Andrew Bogut and Luol Deng, each of whom is either incapable of carrying a team by himself or too old to be a more than one or two year solutions at best. Then there are the handful of players that can choose to terminate their contracts early, such as the aforementioned James, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony.
 
Out of those four, LeBron is the only player that has age, talent and a winning pedigree on his side to truly serve as the type of franchise savior the Lakers need. Bosh has proven in Toronto that he’s not quite equipped for that type of responsibility, while Anthony has won just two postseason series in his ten playoff trips. Now that the Lakers do not have Howard’s services and Kobe Bryant is much closer to the end of his career than the beginning, the self-stylized “Chosen One” could be LA’s best hope for a quick rebuild.
 
However, without Dwight Howard in tow, it’s going to be a tougher sell than ever before to get LeBron to sign on GM Mitch Kupchak’s dotted line.
 
(Read on at Silver Screen and Roll)

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Disassembling the myth of the 2014 NBA free agent class

In just a few days’ time, Dwight Howard could leave the Los Angeles Lakers. The Houston Rockets have been reported as the center’s top suitor, with LA and the Dallas Mavericks in the mix and the Atlanta Hawks bringing up the rear. It’s a sobering reality to think of a star player leaving the bright lights of Southern California for Dallas, Houston or Atlanta, but Howard is bringing a strange new world to one of the most celebrated franchises in all of sports.
 
As I scan the pulse of Lakers fans everywhere, I’ve noticed a discernible notion that letting Dwight Howard walk is not the worst scenario possible. Some have mentioned that he’s not worth the years or money, while others simply don’t want to build around a player who has such a flair for problematic drama. Another group feels that his prime has come and gone, and his health issues from last season weren’t just a one year malady.
 
There is one more sector of Lakers fans that believe it’s okay if Dwight leaves because the reinforcements are on the way in just 12 months’ time. Regardless of Howard’s status with the team, there will be long-term solutions available.
 
They are wrong.
 
The vaunted 2014 free agent class is a myth. It doesn’t exist. The highlight of the 2014 free agency class starts and ends with LeBron James, who can potentially terminate his contract with the Miami Heat and become an unrestricted free agent next July. At that point, he’ll be able to sign with any team he wishes with the requisite cap room, which as of today, includes the Los Angeles Lakers.
 
Beyond James? There isn’t much there. Let’s break down the list as it stands today:
 
(Read on at Silver Screen and Roll)

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NBA Finals Wrap-Up: Some legacies defined, others left alone

I’m sweating blood, crying stomach acid and secreting brain fluid through my pores. A completely normal reaction considering the seven game gladiatorial brawl we just witnessed over the past two weeks.
 
Game 7 concluded Thursday night with an emphatic finish, a 48 minute slugfest living up the symphonic excellence the previous six games had composed before it. With less than a minute on the board, we had a two point ball game with both teams trading blows like the Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin applying finisher after finisher to no avail. It seemed that in a series where the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs countered each other game to game to game to game, that still no team had an edge over the other.
 
Still, at the concluding bell, I wonder: did the best team truly win? Or was the dramatic, heart-rendering finish of Game 6 so emotionally resonant that we’ve all tricked ourselves into believing that Miami’s had the slightly upper hand? Was it all an illusion born of adrenaline and the singular greatness of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade?… Read more...

NBA Finals: Game 6–A Survivor’s Tale

“I’m going to the gym. I’m all jacked up.”–MAMBINO Contributor El Mariachi, 12:17 am Eastern Time
 
We didn’t watch Game 6 everyone–we survived it.
 
It’s been echoed over and over again all night and all morning. It’s not hyperbole: this was one of the greatest Finals games ever. Off the top of my head, only a handful of games are in it’s company over the last 30 years: Mavericks-Heat Game 5 in 2006, Bulls-Jazz Game 6 in 1998, Pistons-Lakers Game 6 in 1988 and Lakers-Celtics Game 4 in 1987. There are others, of course, but there’s no doubt about it: last night’s epic Game 6 already ranks in the Top 10 of greatest Finals games ever, perhaps even penetrating the sacred sphere of greatest contests in American sports history. It was that good.
 
It’s not just the dramatic finish and the toe-curling proximity to which San Antonio was to a championship, but rather the ebbs and flows of such an excellently played contest that really makes this game stand out. Even the last two Game 7s (Boston/LA in 2010 and SA/Detroit in 2005) lacked the 48 minutes–make that 53 minutes–of artistry that last night’s bout had. Celtics-Lakers was a sloppy affair, with both teams shooting poorly, Kobe Bryant chucking away a 6-24 night and the final combined score ticking in at just over 160 combined points. Spurs/Pistons had the same feeling of inertia, slogging towards a 4th quarter that was largely out of reach for Detroit. Game 6 was dynamic from beginning to end, with each team playing crisply, trading blows and fighting to a standstill up until Bosh emphatically landed the controversial finishing blow. This game was so finely played, with so many featured players, that it’s hard to remember one seminal moment in a myriad of them. That’s what sets last night’s game apart–painting a masterpiece without muddling the colors. … Read more...

NBA Finals Game 3 Thoughts and Game 4 Notes

Three games gone in the NBA Finals, the “Fo, Fo, Fo, Fo” calls for a spotless Miami Heat playoffs seem like a faraway fairytale, prancing on a cloud with unicorns and mermaids. The reigning champs look to be at a significant disadvantage against the San Antonio Spurs, though they’re down just 2 games to 1. The 4-time champs have owned Miami despite a narrow margin of victory in Game 1–after all, it’s not outrageous to say that San Antonio has controlled the series for 10 of the 12 quarters played thus far.
 
Game 3 was an absolute thrashing on the part of the Spurs. In a completely lopsided 113-77 blowout, San Antone hit a NBA record 16 three-pointers, including and outrageous 13-19 clip from Danny Green and Gary Neal. Now, if you’re a casual NBA fan and you don’t know who those two guys are, their games on the court make them seem as unglamorous as the 9th grade chemistry teachers they’re seemingly named after. However, in a complex series of screens and cuts, the two wingmen were able to shake free time after time, getting uninhibited looks from long. They combined for a backbreaking 51 points, accounting for twice the output of Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili (25 points). Though this was the primary narrative of the game, a few other factors stood out:… Read more...

NBA Finals Game 1 Thoughts: It’s a Spurs world, and Miami just lives in it

In the aftermath of an epic Game 1 win last night, a few thoughts stemming from the NBA Finals:
 
It’s San Antonio’s world, and Miami’s just living in it
 
92-88 game, with a 2-point differential in the last 29 seconds? Sounds like a close game.
 
But it wasn’t. Not nearly as much as the final score would have you believe.
 
The Spurs completely dictated the pace of the game, and Miami should be so fortunate that they even kept it that close. The most telling numbers:… Read more...