Tag Archives: L.A. Lakers
With NBA free agency in full swing since Wednesday the 11th, the NBA landscape is a whirlwind of activity from the draft, trades and free agent signings. With so much activity thus far, and the promise of much more before the start of training camps, the DCDime wants to keep you updated on all personnel moves during this busy NBA off-season in a series we are calling the 2012 NBA Free Agency Carousel.
We all know, or should if we haven’t been hiding under a rock lamenting LeBron’s first title, that some big fish have stayed put (D.Will in Brooklyn), some are on the move (Steve Nash to the Lakers) and one remains stuck in purgatory as his fate is decided (Dwight Howard). These players may take up all the headlines, but they are only the biggest puzzle pieces in NBA free agency not all of the pieces. There are players big and small on the move that will impact the standings next year. We will be taking a trip around the league breaking down all the activity by division.
We start our analysis with the runner-up Western Conference and move to the East from there. We will highlight the players that each team has added/lost thus far in the off-season, and we will drop the dime on each team by breaking down what it all means.
The Pacific division out West has been the center of NBA headlines over the last two off-seasons. Last year, two of its members (both L.A. franchises) were involved actively for the biggest off-season target, Chris Paul. Commissioner Stern vetoed him going to the Lakers but accepted the trade of Paul to the Clippers, and the drama and intrigue only began from there. This off-season has begun much the same way, with both franchises paying major roles in the activity thus far. Last season’s division bottom feeders, Phoenix, Golden State and Sacramento, have also been making moves, although not all of them are helping them catch up with the rivals in L.A. Without further ado, here’s a deeper look at the activity thus far in the Pacific.
L.A. Lakers (1st place in 2011-2012)
Players Added: Steve Nash, Darius Johnson-Odom
Players Lost: Ramon Sessions, Matt Barnes
The Dime: Mr. Stern did not want a star point guard to join Kobe and company last off-season, but there was little he could do to stand in the way of Free Agent Steve Nash deciding to put on the purple and gold. In pursuit of the elusive championship, Nash chose to join up with the rival Lakers who he had battled in the playoffs for nearly a decade. If Kobe can handle Nash setting the table for himself and their stable of bigs, this move can immediately make the Lakers a contender again after spending much of last season struggling to find their rhythm and compete against the league’s top teams.
However, the Lakers biggest problem last season, containing the athletic guards in the league, may have become an even bigger issue for 2012-2013. Obviously, they are hoping what Nash offers offensively will void out his deficiencies defensively. The Dime will be interested to see how this theme plays out throughout the season in 2012-2013.
L.A. Clippers (2nd place in 2011-2012)
Players Added: Chauncey Billups, Jamal Crawford, Lamar Odom
Players Lost: Swaggy P. Young, Reggie Evans, Mo Williams
The Dime: The Clips have had an active off-season, re-signing veteran Mr. Big Shot, signing streaky 6th man Jamal Crawford, and bringing Mr. Kardashian back to Hollywood.
The biggest news, however, was re-signing star Blake Griffin to a 5-year max contract. The day he signed the contract, Blake went down in Team USA’s practice with a tear in his meniscus in his left knee. Although he is only expected to be out for eight weeks and should be ready for the start of camp, the Blakeshow now has as many knee surgeries as he has had seasons in the NBA (2). Not what you want for your franchise player.
In other news, Chris Paul has decided to play out the rest of his contract and will become a free agent again at the end of next season. That means the player they moved so many pieces to trade for last year may end up throwing lobs to Melo and Amare in New York after all. More bad news to Donald Sterling and Co. If nothing else, this has been an off-season more in line with what Clippers fans have come to expect over the years.
The thing I will be watching for this season is how the team reacts to coach Vinny Del Negro. Del Negro is one of the league’s worst coaches, but is entrusted with one of its most talented rosters. It will interesting to see how this plays out, but I have a feeling it won’t end well for Vinny in L.A.
Phoenix Suns (3rd place in 2011-2012)
Players Added: Goran Dragic, Michael Beasley, Luis Scola, Kendall Marshall
Players Lost: Steve Nash, Grant Hill (not yet, but he’s a goner)
The Dime: The Suns have officially started the After-Nash Era rebuilding effort. The franchise more or less press reset over the last month. During the draft, the franchise showed it may be ready to move on when they selected DC native and fellow O’Connell-alum, Kendall Marshall. A pass-first point guard, Marshall was widely regarded as the top pure-point guard in this year’s class. After Nash decided to move on and sign with LA, the Suns moved to quickly ink Goran Dragic, Michael Beasley and submitted the winning bid for Luis Scola on waivers.
Although the moves help the Suns compete some in the short team, it is not nearly enough for this team to avoid being lottery bound for the next few years. Nash was the maestro that made the mediocre pieces around him into a whole that was greater than the sum of its parts. Now with him gone, Phoenix fans will be severely missing him and his S.S.O.L (Seven Seconds or Less) Suns’ teams.
Golden State Warriors (4th place in 2011-2012)
Players Added: Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, Festus Ezeli, Andrew Bogut (DNP after trade)
Players Lost: Dorell Wright, Brandon Rush
The Dime: Mark Jackson’s team added another potent outside scoring threat to the back court by choosing UNC’s Harrison Barnes. With Barnes teaming up with fellow youngsters Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, Golden State has one of the youngest and most offensively gifted backcourts in the league.
However, the game is played on both ends of the court. Golden State is hoping that the addition of center Andrew Bogut late last season in the Monta Ellis trade will pay great dividends this year. If the big Aussie can get healthy and stay that way, he has shown he can be an above average NBA defender and rebounder in the paint.
The other draftees, Draymond Green and Festus Ezeli, were both seniors who will bring winning pedigrees to the Warriors. The consistent rebuild in Golden State continues, and I cannot see much from this off-season that makes me believe things will be turning around anytime soon in the bay.
Sacramento Kings (5th place in 2011-2012)
Players Added: Thomas Robinson
Players Lost: JJ Hickson, Terrence Williams, Donte Green
The Dime: After an off-season last year when most of the talk was focused on where the Kings would be playing in the future (and the Maloof brothers avoiding expenditures like the plague), it’s nice that this year the team could focus on improving its roster. Although they have not been an active player in free agency (who really wants to play in Sacramento?), they were able to use the draft to improve their team. They added the former KU bruiser, Thomas Robinson, early in the lottery this year. This pairs him with former 1st round selection Demarcus Cousins in the frontcourt that will be sure to physically impose its will on opponents and rebound with real ferocity.
However, the rest of the roster is such a mess that the Kings will continue to be a bottom-feeder. Without a true point guard on the team, the Kings will continue to rely on the poo-poo platter of Jimmer, Tyreke Evans, and Isaiah Thomas.
With that in mind, I think the big theme to watch for this year is what the Kings decide to do with Tyreke Evans. He is an explosive scorer and athlete, but has not shown great improvement since his rookie year. It may be time for the franchise to move in another direction and use Tyreke as a trade-chip to help improve the roster.
Tags: Chris Paul, Golden State Warriors, Harrison Barnes, Kendall Marshall, Kobe Bryant, L.A. Clippers, L.A. Lakers, Luis Scola, Michael Beasley, Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings, Steph Curry, Steve Nash, Thomas Robinson, Vinny Del Negro