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#pounditTuesday, December 1, 2020

Articles tagged: Los Angeles Lakers

Why Lakers vs. Trail Blazers would make for a surprisingly intriguing playoff series

Damian Lillard

This season the Los Angeles Lakers hold a 17-2 record against the six teams competing in Orlando for the right to inevitably lose to them in the first round of the playoffs. It remains no secret that the basketball world yearns to see LeBron James and Zion Williamson square off in a ceremonious battle of the present versus the future this coming postseason. Guidelines weren’t explicitly put in place to ensure a Williamson versus James matchup, but it seems highly coincidental that the ninth seed must finish within four games of the eighth seed to force a play-in game for the final playoff spot, as the Pelicans currently sit 3.5 games back of the eighth-seeded Memphis. Also sitting 3.5 games back of the Grizzlies are both the Sacramento Kings and the Portland Trail Blazers.

While the Kings have continued to improve since their underwhelming 15-29 start to the season, the Trail Blazers remain the most intriguing matchup for the Lakers on account of one player alone: Damian Lillard.

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Report: Lakers should have no issue re-signing Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis Lakers

Like almost all other businesses across the country, NBA teams are dealing with some unexpected financial issues as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. That could have a direct impact on free agency, and some have wondered if the Los Angeles Lakers will have a difficult time bringing back Anthony Davis.

Apparently that is not a major concern. In a lengthy piece examining what teams are doing to offset the losses from not having fans at games and playing a shorter season, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst cited sources who say the Lakers should have no issue re-signing Davis.

Davis has a $28 million player option for the 2020-21 season, and he will almost certainly decline it. He will then be eligible to sign a five-year deal with the Lakers that is worth roughly $200 million. While all teams stand to lose a significant amount of revenue, Windhorst notes that the Lakers have a $200 million television deal and could raise $300 million in a season without selling a single ticket.

Before the pandemic, there was speculation that Davis could sign a 1-and-1 deal with the Lakers, which would allow him to opt out again and be eligible for — in theory — an even bigger max extension following the 2021-22 season. However, he may be more likely to sign a long-term contract now with so much financial uncertainty surrounding the league.

Davis already turned down one contract offer from the Lakers, but that was more of a technicality than anything. No matter what the circumstances, it would be a surprise if LA lets the big man walk.

Lakers fans, show everyone who runs LA with this great T-shirt. It makes a perfect gift for you or a friend. You can buy it here.

Lakers GM says there are ‘extenuating circumstances’ surrounding Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard

The Los Angeles Lakers are set to begin their training camp on Wednesday as they prepare for July’s restarted season in Orlando, Fla. They have signed J.R. Smith to take the place of Avery Bradley, and the team is unsure whether Dwight Howard will be joining them to compete at Disney World. They recognize Howard is dealing with some tough factors.

“We are going to continue to work through those extenuating circumstances with Dwight, support him, support his 6-year-old son and hope for the best that he would be a part of our roster in Orlando,” Lakers GM and VP Rob Pelinka told reporters on Tuesday, via the Los Angeles Times.

The mother of one of Howard’s children died in March due to epilepsy, which shook the Lakers center. He has also been weighing social issues and to what extent playing might detract from his ability to make change.

A previous report said the Lakers believed the 34-year-old would participate in the restart, but the matter is still uncertain.

Howard is averaging 7.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 19.2 minutes per game this season and sharing time with Javale McGee at center for the Lakers.

Lakers fans, show everyone who runs LA with this great T-shirt. It makes a perfect gift for you or a friend. You can buy it here.

Report: Lakers to sign JR Smith for rest of season

JR Smith

JR Smith has been mentioned as the most likely replacement for the Los Angeles Lakers after Avery Bradley opted out of the resumed season, and the two sides are expected to come to an agreement this week.

Smith is expected finalize a rest-of-season contract with the Lakers prior to Tuesday night’s deadline for transactions, Marc Stein of the New York Times reports.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski confirmed the report, adding that the a contract is expected to get done on Monday.

Smith was teammates with LeBron James for four seasons in Cleveland, and the two are longtime friends. The Lakers have shown interest in Smith at various points this season and worked him out earlier this month, so he immediately made sense as someone who can help fill the void left by Bradley’s departure. Smith was also spotted hanging out with LeBron and Anthony Davis at one point last month.

Smith, 24, has not played in the NBA this season. He appeared in only 11 games for the Cavaliers last year before reaching a buyout agreement with them. Smith averaged 6.7 points per game last season and is a career 37.3 percent 3-point shooter.

Lakers fans, show everyone who runs LA with this great T-shirt. It makes a perfect gift for you or a friend. You can buy it here.

NBA restart will open with Lakers-Clippers, Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson

The NBA has announced its abbreviated restart schedule, and they’ve gone for big matchups to open the slate.

Opening night of the restart will feature a tantalizing doubleheader as Zion Williamson’s New Orleans Pelicans face the Utah Jazz on July 30. That will be followed by the Los Angeles Lakers facing the Los Angeles Clippers.

The NBA will utilize three courts in Orlando for the games, with two set aside for national TV games. No more than seven games will be played on any given day.

The NBA certainly knew what it was doing when it set the schedule. Putting Zion Williamson and Lakers-Clippers in an opening night doubleheader is sure to draw huge viewing figures.

Those who are tuning into the games should be prepared to see some things they’ve never seen before from an NBA broadcast.

Nick Young once again reminds Lakers he is ready to play

Nick Young

The Los Angeles Lakers are going to be a player short when the NBA season resumes, as Avery Bradley informed the team this week that he will not be playing again this year. That leaves the Lakers with a hole in their backcourt, and Nick Young is willing to fill it.

Young responded to the Bradley news on Instagram with a simple comment that said “I’m ready.”

Young played for the Lakers for several seasons from 2013-2017, so there’s a level of familiarity there. He has not played in the NBA this year, however, and appeared in just four games for the Denver Nuggets last season. Young’s last full season was when he was with the Golden State Warriors in 2017-18, when he played 17.4 minutes per game and averaged 13.2 points.

The Lakers may already have a replacement in mind for Bradley, and it’s highly unlikely that they will sign Smith. That said, you can’t blame Swaggy P for trying. This isn’t the first time he has pitched his services to his former team.

Lakers fans, show everyone who runs LA with this great T-shirt. It makes a perfect gift for you or a friend. You can buy it here.

H/T LBS reader Wardo

Most crucial questions facing Western Conference’s elite

Anthony Davis Lakers

The NBA is gearing up for a return next month, and the expectation is that we will have playoff basketball. As the Western Conference’s elite teams prepare for the return of the season, we take a look at the most critical question that will define each team’s chances at contending for a championship.

(You can find the biggest questions facing the Eastern Conference’s top teams here)

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Lakers players holding secret group workouts at Staples Center replica?

LeBron James

This might be the wildest rumor to come out of the suspended NBA season.

It’s no secret that LeBron James has been working hard despite the lack of games and staying in shape to be ready when the season resumes. But it may even go beyond that, as some well-connected figures have heard that the Lakers are secretly doing team workouts at a rather secure location.

The Ringer’s Bill Simmons and New Orleans Pelicans guard J.J. Redick have both heard that James and the Lakers are holding secret scrimmages in the Los Angeles area. Simmons and Redick discussed the rumor on Thursday’s “The Bill Simmons Podcast,” with Simmons saying that he had heard chatter about the Lakers working out at “some rich guy’s house.” Redick added that he assumed that if those workouts were happening, they were likely happening at a mansion in Bel Air.

“In regards to the Lakers, I’ve heard similar things,” Redick said. “Obviously, nothing’s been posted on social media supplying us with the evidence we need. But there is a gentleman, I think his house is in Bel Air, who has a Staples Center replica in his backyard. It’s a full court, locker room, weight room, steam shower, whatever you want. I’ve worked out there before. My assumption is those guys are working out there.”

Remember, this is only a rumor. There’s absolutely no firm evidence anywhere that it’s happening, and all we have is some hearsay from two fairly well-connected figures in Simmons and Redick. It would also be illegal if these are group workouts — the NBA has prohibited those at the moment, whether they’re at team facilities or a private facility. We’ve heard that James is working out with one or two teammates at a private facility, so perhaps this is that facility.

The home in question is owned by sneaker mogul Steven Jackson, the chairman of retro shoe brand L.A. Gear. The replica court is obsessively detailed, and even includes imitation Lakers championship banners. Various NBA teams have worked out there over the years. The Miami Heat did so in 2011 in preparation for a game against the Clippers, when James was a member of the team. Sadly, pictures of the place are almost impossible to come by, but it’s pretty clear that teams and players have been working out there — and raving about it — for many, many years. If the Lakers do have access to it right now, they’re clearly in good hands.

We do know one thing for sure: wherever it’s happening, LeBron is definitely playing regularly.

Report: Lakers believe Dwight Howard will participate in Orlando restart

Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard has been at the forefront of discussions about player concerns regarding the NBA’s plan to resume the 2019-2020 season in Orlando next month, but the Los Angeles Lakers still expect him to play.

A Los Angeles Times article published on Wednesday said the following about Howard: “There is a belief around the organization that Howard plans to play”.

As recently as Sunday, Howard’s agent said the center had not made a decision on playing. Howard has been concerned that participating in a restart would distract from pushing forward a social injustice agenda. Some players feel otherwise.

The Lakers were 49-14 when the season was suspended in March and are among the favorites to win the NBA championship.

Howard is averaging 7.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 19.2 minutes per game this season and sharing time with Javale McGee at center for the Lakers.

Lakers fans, show everyone who runs LA with this great T-shirt. It makes a perfect gift for you or a friend. You can buy it here.

Dr. Fauci has Lakers winning NBA title

The Los Angeles Lakers are getting perhaps their weightiest endorsement yet.

In an interview this week on FOX 11 in Los Angeles, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was asked who he had winning the NBA championship this season. Fauci replied that was going with the Lakers “for sure.”

While Fauci may have been pandering to the local viewers a bit, it is a notable seal of approval from a man who has become one of the most trusted voices in America over the last several months (albeit for a very different reason than basketball). It is also a smart pick as the Lakers were a Western Conference-best 49-14 when play was suspended in March.

Fauci did recently express his support for the NBA’s restart plan too, so it sounds like the league is good to go from a public health perspective on the more basic level of even crowning a champion this season in the first place.