By thinking small the Lakers can keep their nucleus together while still addressing their glaring issues at small forward and potentially at point guard if Ramon Sessions opts out.
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Here are the NBA players who shot over 40% on over 100 3-point shot attempts during the regular season. The Lakers did not have a player on the list as Sessions and Murphy shot over 40% but didn’t take 100 shots. If we get Lamar back to replace Pau as starting power forward, we could then use Pau for a point guard and outside shooters. For example, Pau to GSW for Curry and Rush and signing Novak or Allen as free agent? Anyway, pick your shooters and figure out how we get them in purple and gold. Have at it, Lakerholics…
01 – Steve Novak, NYK – 133/282 = 47.2%
02 – Stephen Curry, GSW – 55/121 = 45.5%
03 – Ersan Ilyasova, MIL – 51/112 = 45.5%
04 – Ray Allen, BOS – 106/234 = 45.3%
05 – Mike Miller, MIA – 53/117 = 45.3%
06 – Brandon Rush, GSW – 99/219 = 45.2%
07 – Willie Green, ATL – 50/113 = 44.2%
08 – Jordan Farmar, NJN – 55/125 = 44.0%
09 – Danny Green, SAS – 102/234 = 43.6%
10 – Kyle Korver, CHI – 118/271 = 43.5%
11 – Luke Babbitt, POR – 43/100 = 43.0%
12 – Ben Gordon, DET – 63/147 = 42.9%
13 – Jerryd Bayless, TOR – 44/104 = 42.3%
14 – Matt Bonner, SAS – 105/250 = 42.0%
15 – Chris Duhon, ORL – 50/119 = 42.0%
16 – Richard Jefferson, GSW-SAS – 113/269 = 42.0%
17 – Gary Neal, SAS – 83/198 = 41.9%
18 – JJ Redick, ORL – 112/268 = 41.8%
19 – Klay Thompson, GSW – 111/268 = 41.4%
20 – Manu Ginobili, SAS – 52/126 = 41.3%
21 – James Jones, MIA – 46/114 = 40.4%
22 – Chase Budinger, HOU – 88/219 = 40.2%
23 – Courtney Lee, HOU – 87/217 = 40.1%
The various news rumors about the Dallas Mavs and Lamar Odom possibly revising his contract to enable him to be traded back to the Los Angeles Lakers are fascinating. While alluding that the Lamar is desperate to return to the Lakers and the Lakers interested in getting him back, none of the rumors address the issue of what would the Mavs want in return to trade Lamar back to the Lakers. It’s obvious that Mark Cuban would not be doing this unless (1) the Lakers were interested and (2) they were willing to pay something. The big question is what would it take for the Mavs to make the deal? Maybe Steve Blake would work.
The next question is what do the Lakers have in mind for Lamar Odom? The most likely answer is to back up whomever we have at power forward and reprise his success two seasons ago as NBA 6th Man of the Year. Realistically, however, getting Odom back gives the Lakers options they wouldn’t have without him. Just as he his jack-of-all trade skills provided the Lakers with great versatility on the court, Lamar Odom return to the purple and gold would give the Lakers greater flexibility in retooling the team to championship level.
First, they can trade Pau Gasol without receiving a starting power forward in return because Lamar Odom could easily slide into the starting power forward role alongside Lamar Odom. This means they can focus more on using Pau as trade bait to get a true starting point guard who can successfully defend the position and take the ball out of Kobe’s hands and make his job easier and extend his championship window without having to get a power forward back as part of the deal or involve a third team in a complicated transaction.
For example, the Lakers could seek a twist on the Pau to Houston for Lowry and Scola trade and look to improve their outside, shooting, perimeter defense, and tax situation by trading Pau Gasol ($19M/$19.3M) for Kyle Lowry ($5.7M/$6.2M), Courtney Lee ($3.2M QO), and Chase Budinger ($1.0M). The deal would not only give them the defender and playmaker they need at the point in Lowry, who shot 37% from 3, but also two great players for the bench who both shot over 40% from 3 in Lee and Budinger as well as saving the team over $18M in salary and $18M in taxes next year and getting younger, faster, and more athletic.
As an NBA fan, I will finally watch more than snippets of the playoffs as the Thunder and Heat start what should be an entertaining NBA Finals. Assuming David Stern can keep his freaking ego and hands out of the proverbial cookie jar and his zebras can avoid gifting the Heat with a second dubious NBA championship, I’m picking the Kevin Durant and the Thunder to take out LeBron, Wade, and the overhyped Heat in 5 games.
I’ve always contended that the redundancy of LeBron and Wade, the weakness of their front court, and the lack of depth in their bench were the Achilles heels of the Miami Heat and that individual freak athleticism, while enough to ensure a great regular season, is not enough to beat an equally talented but more balanced team in a 7-game playoff series. The Heat are about to be shown why titles are not awarded by ESPN hype or earned by pimpish braggadocio as the Thunder slam another of LeBron’s championship windows shut.
While the Lakers front office strategizes how to return the team to championship contention and escape from luxury tax purgatory, they will focus on upgrading the roster to better match up with the younger, faster, and more athletic Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat, who will meet tonight in the NBA Finals. Just as the Lakers acquired Michael Thompson to matchup with Celtics’ Kevin McHale and Robert Horry to match up with the Spurs’ Tim Duncan, the Lakers’ challenge this offseason will be to improve their matchup with the Thunder’s Big 3 of Durant, Westbrook, and Harden and Heat’s Big 3 of James, Wade, and Bosh.
Forget all the naïve rhetoric you hear from the national sports media about how the NBA game has changed. The simple reality is that it’s really the dominant players who have changed rather than the NBA game itself. If you want to win an NBA championship, you used to have to matchup with Kobe Bryant, which is why the OKC Thunder added Thabo Sefolosha and the Miami Heat added Shane Battier as they built their rosters. Considering that the Thunder and Heat are both led by dynamic, high scoring small forwards, the Lakers also need to find a better long term matchup at the 3 than World Peace to compete against OKC and Miami.
When you look closer at the Lakers second round loss to the Thunder, it’s also easy to see that, in addition to help at small forward, the Lakers also need to find a better solution at point guard than Ramon Sessions, who was badly outplayed by Russell Westbrook, a tougher more physical player at power forward than Pau Gasol, whose passivity cost the Lakers dearly for a second year in a row, and a scorer of the bench who can get his own shot like OKC’s James Harden and give the Lakers bench some desperately needed firepower. Bottom line, the Lakers need to improve their matchups at every position but shooting guard and center.
Considering the financial obstacles and competitive hurdles the Lakers need to overcome, I expect Mitch Kupchak to return to the failed offseason Chris Paul trade nixed at the last minute by Commissioner David Stern and the failed Michael Beasley trade vetoed at the last minute by Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor. Trading Pau Gasol and Steve Blake to Houston for Kevin Lowry, Luis Scola, and the #16 pick in the upcoming NBA draft and trading Jordan Hill or Josh McRoberts to Minnesota for Michael Beasley transform the Lakers into a younger, faster, and tougher team that better matches up with the OKC Thunder and Miami Heat.
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If the Miami Heat lose this Game 7, they will have a successful careers as actors in ‘Meet the Floppers’: