The Hoop Collective: Russell Westbrook and the Los Angeles Lakers discipline test

The Hoop Collective: Russell Westbrook and the Los Angeles Lakers discipline test

Brian Windhorst and a team of ESPN Insiders take a look at life and news from around the world of the NBA and beyond.

the Los Angeles Lakers they’re 0-3, they’re having roster-building issues and they’ll eventually have to make a trade, probably but not sure, involving russell westbrook.

For now, let’s focus on where the Lakers can go from here because the next big move they make will likely test their discipline. Try it for real. And while there is a risk of overstating this, it could decide the fate of the remaining two seasons that Los Angeles has. Lebron James under contract (yes, he can have a third year, but it’s a player option).

But first, a quick aside: Did you know that the 2020 Lakers champions Alex Caruso ($9 million), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($14 million) and Kyle Kuzma ($13 million) combine to make $36 million this season and the Lakers could have it all PJ Tucker ($10.5 million) for less than Westbrook ($47 million) is making this season? Sorry, it couldn’t be helped, let’s move on.

Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, who, like most people in his job, is cautious when speaking to the media and relies on clich├ęs, platitudes and, uniquely, the occasional parable.

Before the start of the 2022-23 season, he allowed himself to say a few lines of truth without embellishment in assessing the Lakers’ position. And more attention should be paid when GMs say something like this:

“We’ve got one of the best players, LeBron James, who’s ever played on our team. He’s committed to us on a long-term deal, a three-year deal. So of course we’ll do everything we can, picks included, to make deals that give us a chance to help LeBron get to the end,” Pelinka said.

He added: “You have a chance to make a multi-select trade, so if you make that trade, and I’m not talking about any particular player on our team, but if you make that trade, it has to be the right one. You have a chance to So we’re being very careful with decisions about when and how to use draft capital in a way that improves our roster.”

This was a double truth and a rare gem of a statement that didn’t directly answer a question; Pelinka mentioned it himself. Unfortunately, it is also a contradiction.

It’s a challenge to maximize the 38-year-old James’ season (he turns 38 on Dec. 30). Y note the use of the 2027 and 2029 draft picks the Lakers have available to include in trades. In fact, it has already been a challenge. That’s why Westbrook is still on the team: Hitting both goals is a huge demand for any front office.

If the Lakers hired an emotionless consulting firm to assess their path forward, there’s a good chance the advice would go something like this:

Focus on the summer of 2023, during which the team is currently positioned to have about $50 million in salary-cap space and the Lakers can take advantage of this historic player desire to come to Los Angeles via free agency or trade. This is the cleanest, cheapest and possibly fastest way to guarantee a change. It could mean not trading Westbrook, but allowing his salary to simply fall off the books.

While the team can’t trade its 2023 first-round pick now and the new orleans pelicans has unprotected trade rights with him, can be traded on draft night. Waiting to consider major deals until the summer would add this piece as a trade token that could save money part of the Lakers’ future capital draft. Or it could allow them to actually trade Three first if they want to update their goal(s).

He invests heavily in James’ career to become the all-time leading scorer in NBA history, engaging fans in this quest with celebrations and honors that distract from the underperforming team. Check out Kobe Bryant’s 2016 retirement tour for best practices.

After missing the playoffs last season, the Lakers who take this path without passion will probably not be well received by a large part of their fan base. But it makes sense and the Lakers, even if their batting average across roster moves has dipped recently, it can make sense.

Pelinka’s comments made it seem like there was some sort of quid pro quo with James and that agreeing to an extension would mean the team would continue to mortgage their future to secure victory as soon as possible. That’s one way of looking at it. The other is that James was giving the team a gift of time, so he wouldn’t have to have the status of his contract acting as a swinging anvil on midseason decisions because he was well aware of the situation at hand. .

When Lakers president Jeanie Buss gave Pelinka a contract extension until 2026 (!) Before the season, he came in with the understanding that he took the pressure off of making a wild trade in a trade to seemingly save his job. Buss certainly knew this wouldn’t be a season to remember when he did it and the tools to tackle it were slim.

That begs the question: Will the Lakers be able to wait, as Pelinka implies, for the big trade offer? Can they swallow the bad shooting nights, the social media taunts, the media criticism and even the occasional botched shot from James to stick with the set plan?

There could be a stopgap move here or there, a small deal that might not blow next year’s cap space or a trade of those valuable firsts for a marginal upgrade.

It’s not that Pelinka hasn’t looked for the a big one now. According to rival executives, the Lakers have launched two-, three- and four-team trade packages throughout the summer and fall, taking advantage of the panacea that brings in two or three difference-makers at once.

It hasn’t happened. But with a loaded upcoming draft class and probably more teams expected to compete this season than there are contention spots, the outlook has possibilities.

When you have James and anthony davis under contract, 17 championship trophies, a large, wealthy fan base and the allure of Southern California, one is not desperate. So the Lakers shouldn’t make a desperate move.

Right?

Now, here’s the insider information from the NBA front office bobby marks about him toronto raptors‘ strategy to start the season:

More minutes, more problems for Raptors players?

There are three things guaranteed in life: taxes, death and Raptors starters playing more than 35 minutes a night.

In a league where coaches experiment with different lineups at the start of the season, Raptors coach Nick Nurse goes against that logic.

Out of foul trouble scottish barnes found on opening night against the Cleveland Knights (he did play 32 minutes) and then the striker injuring his ankle against the Miami Heatall Raptors starters have played at least 35 minutes in the first three games.

A good example of Nurse’s commitment to his starters is the Raptors’ loss at Miami on Saturday. Even on the second night of a straight game and down 21 at the half, Nurse didn’t pull the lead off of him. They would eventually cut that lead to six in the fourth quarter before losing 112-109. Monday night without Barnes, Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr.. Y Pascual Siakam all played at least 39 minutes. OG Anunoby he played 33 minutes but only because the striker was in foul trouble.

Will that trend continue? Before Monday, the Raptors had been without two key reserves, forwards chris boucher Y Otto Porter Jr.. When both players are fully healthy (Boucher played 12 minutes in his first game on Monday), the heavy workload of Barnes, Anunoby and Siakam should ease. However, if last season is any reminder, VanVleet and Siakam ranked in the top five in minutes played and the other three starters, Anunoby (12th), Barnes (18th) and Trent Jr. (24th) were in between. top 25.

Over the past three seasons, VanVleet has averaged 36.8 minutes per game (second only to Philadelphia 76ers star james harden) and has missed a total of 55 games due to various injuries.

and back to Brian Windhorst on the clever tactics of a Heat player:

Don’t judge a Butler book by its cover

There may not be a bigger troll in the NBA than Miami jimmy butler. Let’s just say that he is well known for provoking people to get angry. But let’s not focus on the bad times, let’s focus on the fun ones.

For example, Butler openly admits that he founded his company, Big Face Coffee, in the Orlando bubble because he was scamming other players out of their money. He had a high-end espresso machine in his room and knew players had a lot of travel money but limited places to use it. He charged $20 a pop, but only because his plan to charge $100, as in “big face” Ben Franklin, fell through.

Well, he reached a whole new level with his preseason move to come to media day with extensions in his hair and his shaved face. Just look at this image (above). She knew that these images would be used for the rest of the season in promotional materials, and as time goes on, the look only seems more outrageous.

Butler cut his hair just hours after the media day photo shoots ended, and the facial hair returned. And every time national TV ads for Heat games appear or his headshot is used, the trolling only grows.

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