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Saturday, July 21, 2018

Articles tagged: Los Angeles Lakers

Report: Kawhi Leonard has not changed stance on wanting to join Lakers

Kawhi Leonard

It has been reported for months that Kawhi Leonard wants to play for the Lakers and will sign with them as a free agent next summer if he is not traded to Los Angeles sooner, but some have wondered if LeBron James’ latest career decision altered Leonard’s plans at all. That doesn’t appear to be the case.

NFL Hall of Famer Cris Carter, who has been sharing Leonard scoops this week and seems to have some connection to the star forward’s camp, said on FS1’s “First Things First” Friday that Leonard has not had a change of heart and still wants to play for the Lakers.

“Kawhi can be traded anywhere, so is it a possibly? Yes, but nothing’s changed from Kawhi’s side,” Carter said. “He still wants to go to Los Angeles, and he’s still not interested in being rented out for one season — that being Philadelphia, Boston, Toronto or any other team.”

Carter had another noteworthy report about the Leonard situation earlier this week when he said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is trying to make Kawhi happy.

As long as the Lakers are confident Leonard wants to play with LeBron, they’re the only team with leverage. While a surprise suitor has entered the mix, teams aren’t going to give up much for Leonard in a trade if he just plans to sign with the Lakers anyway. And if the Spurs have no chance of smoothing things over with Leonard, they have to trade him eventually or risk losing him for nothing. At this point, a LeBron-Kawhi pairing still seems likely.

Lakers GM: Only LeBron James is guaranteed starting spot

Lakers logo

The Los Angeles Lakers have a lot of young talent, but they’re going to have to earn the right to start alongside LeBron James.

According to Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, James is the only player on the roster who is guaranteed to start, and everyone else will have to battle it out to earn one of the four spots alongside him.

That means the likes of Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram will have to earn it in camp. In Ball’s case, we already knew about this. It’s a good way to challenge the young players, given that the standards will be much higher than they have been in the past now that James is in the fold.

Given LeBron’s praise of some of these players, you have to wonder if he has a preference.

Jeanie Buss criticizes previous Lakers’ regime, which included her brother

Jeanie Buss

Los Angeles Lakers controlling owner Jeanie Buss made a controversial decision last year to revamp the franchise’s basketball operations department, which included removing her own brother from his previous position. Now that the Lakers have landed LeBron James, it is clear Buss feels validated.

In a conversation with ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, Buss credited president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka for landing one of the biggest free agent prizes in NBA history. She compared them to the “previous regime,” which she indicated was far less prepared.

“Magic and Rob, they really prepared and did their homework, where I think maybe the previous regime was a little bit more roll the dice and then react,” Buss said. “We had our best-case scenario, but there was a plan B and a plan C and a plan D and E.

“Nothing was really up to chance other than the player’s decision. It’s up to [James] to decide, but we’d done everything that we could.”

Buss said in past years the Lakers got caught in some situations that reflected poorly on them as an organization.

“We’d gone into a free-agency period with no coach,” she added. “How are you going to convince somebody to come if you don’t know who the coach is going to be? And they [the previous regime] were like, ‘Well, they’ll have feedback into who the coach would be.’

“I’m like, ‘What if you can’t get the one that they want?’ I didn’t understand or like that process.”

If you heard some of the remarks one former Lakers coach made about Jim Buss and Kupchak, it seems like communication became a big problem after Jerry Buss passed away in 2013. Jeanie Buss obviously feels those issues have been remedied, and LeBron’s decision to sign with the Lakers after a top secret meeting with Johnson and Pelinka supports that.

10 NBA teams that have improved the most this offseason

Magic Johnson

Fans and analysts knew this NBA offseason could be crazy, with a number of big-name players potentially changing uniforms — and the league hasn’t disappointed. So far, we’ve seen the unsurprising (LeBron signed with the Lakers), moderately surprising (Paul George is sticking with OKC), and downright stunning (DeMarcus Cousins is headed to the Bay Area).

But the above moves are just scratching the surface of all that’s happened. Other teams improved through the draft and through signing players who aren’t household names but should still make a big impact.

Which squads have made the biggest leap over their 2017-18 iterations? Here’s our take on the 10 teams that have improved the most so far this summer.

10. San Antonio Spurs

The biggest move of San Antonio’s offseason, of course, has not yet happened: the trade of Kawhi Leonard, which seems all but certain to occur. And even though they’ve lost Tony Parker and Kyle Anderson, the Spurs have still had a good summer to date. Marco Belinelli won a title with the Spurs in 2014, and they’re happy to have him back. He was a key piece on the Philadelphia team that at times looked unbeatable late in the season, and he’s one of the league’s best shooters. Snagging him at $6 million a year is a real value. R.C. Buford lucked out landing Lonnie Walker, a cold-blooded creator from Miami, at No. 18 in the draft – one of my favorite picks. He’s shown shades of Dwyane Wade.


Kawhi Leonard favored as next star to join Lakers

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard may have to wait a year before he can join the Los Angeles Lakers, but oddsmakers still expect him to join LeBron James at some point.

On Thursday, BetDSI Sportsbook released some odds regarding Leonard’s future. Among a list of star players who could potentially wind up with the Lakers, Leonard is viewed as the most likely.

Also of note is that this particular sportsbook seems to think the San Antonio Spurs will not end up trading Leonard to the Lakers. Their odds on where Leonard will end up at the start of the 2018-19 season list L.A. as the third most likely destination.

With news surfacing on Friday that the Oklahoma City Thunder are planning to part ways with Carmelo Anthony, it’s possible he could move ahead of Leonard as the most likely star player to join LeBron. There have also been rumblings that Kawhi may not be keen on playing with LeBron, even though most reports indicates the Lakers are his preferred team.

Report: Lakers had specific reason for passing on DeMarcus Cousins

Many were surprised to learn that the Los Angeles Lakers reportedly passed on signing DeMarcus Cousins with their mid-level exception, but the organization did have a reason for their decision.

According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, the Lakers did not feel they were in a position where they could wait deep into the season until Cousins was healthy, instead choosing to pursue players who could safely be counted on to contribute from day one.

Fair enough. The Lakers are trying to make an impact from the start, and Cousins was simply too much of a wildcard. It ultimately sounds like it was a series of fluke events that led Cousins to Golden State, where he wasn’t even necessarily their first choice either.

Lakers reportedly content to sign Kawhi Leonard as free agent

Kawhi Leonard

Before the Los Angeles Lakers reached an agreement with LeBron James, there was a belief that they may have to trade for Kawhi Leonard in order to convince LeBron that signing with them is a good idea. Since that obviously was not the case, is there really any need for them to give up assets for a player they’re confident they can sign?

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski spoke about Leonard’s trade value on “SportsCenter” Tuesday night, and he said the Lakers are now content to play hard ball with the San Antonio Spurs.

“The Lakers now, in the way they’ve approached these trade talks with San Antonio, they’re kind of showing their hand that they may be willing to just wait until next summer in free agency,” Wojnarowski said. “They have not made an overwhelming offer. I don’t think they’ve come close to meeting the threshold that the Spurs have.”

As long as Leonard insists his plan is to sign with the Lakers when he becomes a free agent next summer, the Spurs have little chance of getting a significant return for the star forward.

“Teams like Boston, Philly, others, they’re weighing the chances they have to re-sign him. Leonard has been very consistent privately that he wants to go to the Lakers,” Woj added. “So, to take him on essentially as a rental and give up players and picks for a player who’s gonna leave after one year, Boston and Philly don’t really have to take risks like that.”

LeBron could have signed a two-year deal with the Lakers with an opt-out after Year 1, but he plans to sign for four years with an opt-out after the third. He plans to remain with L.A. for the long haul, and there have been reports that Leonard could go to great lengths to get what he wants. As long as LeBron is willing to be patient, the Lakers have no incentive to trade a big package for Leonard.

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