HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
Lakers, LeBron After Kobe?
By Eric Pincus
The Los Angeles Lakers have about $100 million in committed salaries going into the 2012/13 NBA Season. With luxury taxes, the team is looking at a total payroll of about $130 million.
The goal and expectation for the Lakers is to sign newcomer Dwight Howard to a long-term extension next summer starting at about $20.5 million, which would keep the Lakers deep in the tax. Next year the rate increases so dramatically, the Lakers could conceivably double-up into uncharted territory.
Certainly they’ll try to cost-cut before then but if they win a title as is? How far will the Buss family go to keep winning championships?
Despite their massive projected payrolls for the next two seasons, the Lakers only have one player in the books for the 2014/15 NBA Season. Assuming they do retain Dwight Howard, LA would have about $32 million invested in just Steve Nash and Howard.
Both Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol will have completed their contracts. Could this be the final two years they’re in Los Angeles? Over the summer, Bryant has noted that he expects to play just two or three more seasons. Does he decide to retire or will the Lakers be faced with a difficult decision?
Bryant would be eligible for a new deal starting at around $32-33 million (a number no other team would reasonably be capable of nearing). Is there a dollar figure both Bryant and the Lakers would be comfortable settling on and does that negotiation go smoothly or contentiously? Could Bryant actually end his career on a different team altogether?
Are The Older, (Maybe) Wiser NY Knicks Better?
By Tommy Beer
J.R. Smith will celebrate his 27th birthday on Sunday (follow Swish on twitter and I’m positive you’ll get plenty of “interesting” details of said celebration…); which means that when the Knicks take the floor on opening night next season, each and every member of their rotation will be 27 years of age or older.
In fact, a contingent of that rotation will be significantly older. At the end of last season there were a grand total of five active NBA players over the age of 38. The Knicks signed and/or traded for three of those of five players over the course of four days back in July…
Here is a quick recap (in chronological order) of the offseason acquisitions and departures orchestrated by New York General Manager Glen Grunwald:
- Traded guard Toney Douglas (age 26), centers Josh Harrellson (23) and Jerome Jordan (25) and two future 2nd round draft picks and cash to the Houston Rockets for center Marcus Camby (age 38)
- Re-signed J.R. Smith (age 26)
- Signed guard Jason Kidd (age 39) and re-signed forward Steve Novak (29)
- Opt not to match offer sheet on Landry Fields (age 24); Fields signs with Toronto.
- Traded forward Jared Jeffries (30), center Dan Gadzuric (34), the draft rights to forwards Georgios Printezis (age 26) and Kostas Papanikolaou (age 22), a 2016 second-round pick and cash to the Portland Trail Blazers for guard Raymond Felton (28) and forward Kurt Thomas (39)
- Opt to not match offer sheet on Jeremy Lin (age 23); Lin signs with Rockets.
- Signed guard Pablo Prigioni (age 35)
- Signed guard Ronnie Brewer (age 27)
The West’s Surprise Team?
By Bill Ingram
The Western Conference has been ridiculously tough over the last few seasons, with one or two games meaning the difference between making the playoffs or missing out, as well as having home court advantage or starting the postseason on the road.
It’s been just that close.
Naturally, with rosters all but set, we’ve already been starting to look at who the top teams in the league might be, and on the West side it’s harder than ever to decide which teams are the likely postseason qualifiers. There is one team, however, that seems to be getting the least attention, and it’s a team that could very well be in a bracket when the dust settles on the 2012-13 NBA season.
Losing Steve Nash and Grant Hill are blows to the Phoenix Suns, for sure, though those were also pieces of a past that Phoenix has quickly left behind. The payroll for the team that made it to the Western Conference Finals a couple of seasons ago was more than majority owner Robert Sarver was willing to sustain, and he began moving in a new direction when he traded Amar’e Stoudemire, the front court foundation of that team. When GM Lance Blanks traded Steve Nash to the Los Angeles Lakers this summer it represented the end of that era altogether.
Upcoming Player Milestones for 2013
By Lang Greene
With training camps for the 2013 season set to officially open at the end of this month, here is a look at a few milestones we will likely witness once the regular season gets into full gear.
NBA All-Time Scoring List
There are five active players who currently rank in the league’s top 25 in all-time scoring, each possessing a chance to improve their positioning on the all-time list this season.
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
All-Time Rank: 5
Total Career Points: 29,484
Needs: 1,936 points to move pass Wilt Chamberlain into fourth place
Bryant scored over 1,600 points in the lockout shortened 2012 campaign. Over 82 games, Bryant would need to average 23.7 points to achieve the milestone this season (25.8 points over 75 games). For reference, Bryant hasn’t averaged less than 24 points per game since 2000.
Michael Jordan Watch: Bryant is 2,808 points behind Hall of Fame guard Michael Jordan who sits at No. 3 on the all-time scoring list. If Bryant were to average 22.5 points over his next 125 games he’d surpass his childhood idol.
Olajuwon Feels The Rockets’ Pain
By Yannis Koutroupis
If any team could turn back the hands of time, it would definitely be the Houston Rockets. They long for the days when Hakeem Olajuwon was patrolling the paint and leading them to back-to-back championships. Olajuwon left the team in 2001, but the glory days really ended in 1997. Since then they’ve been to the playoffs just seven times, only making it out of the first round once. They’re currently three seasons removed from their last trip to the postseason.
The post-dream era has been difficult for the Rockets and especially their fans, which Olajuwon is now one of, to endure.
“It is tough (to see them struggle),” Olajuwon said to HOOPSWORLD. “I know management especially is trying to get back to the glory days, having a championship caliber team. It’s very difficult when you’re in the middle, where you don’t get a chance to pick the best (in the draft). We have an average team, maybe get in the playoffs or first round. Being in the middle is very difficult. How can you end that cycle where you stand in the middle of the pack all the time? That’s been their challenge.”
The Rockets actually had a center in Yao Ming who at one point looked capable of taking the Rockets to the heights they reached with Olajuwon. Unfortunately, right as Yao was establishing himself as the game’s best big man he suffered a string of injuries that eventually led to his premature retirement in 2011.
New Faces in New Places: NBA Executives
As NBA enthusiasts, we all think we know what’s best for our favorite teams. Whether it’s a deal gone wrong, a signing gone awry or a draft pick gone bust, NBA fans around the country feel like they could’ve done a better job given the same situation.
This is why NBA General Managers have such a tough gig.
In the NBA, there’s a good amount of turnover in the front office because generally when there’s a public backlash for player personnel decisions, the GM is the first head on the chopping block. A handful of teams found themselves in the situation of needing to replace a GM this offseason and, while some have found an answer, others remain in the market for a new decision maker in the front office.
We’ve already taken a look at the head coaches residing in new places this summer, now it’s time to turn our attention to the front office:
Neil Olshey, Portland Trail Blazers
Last season – Chad Buchanan (Interim GM)
After helping to lead the LA Clippers out of a lottery-bound abyss over the last few seasons, Olshey joins a Blazers squad clearly on the upswing. After agreeing in principle to remain with the Clippers this offseason, Olshey decided it was best for the two sides to part ways and joined the Blazers to become the 10th GM in franchise history.
The Clippers reached the playoffs this past year for only the second time over the course of the last decade thanks to a few savvy moves from Olshey and the Clipps front office. Some of Olshey’s subtle moves over the past few offseasons played a huge role in that other LA team becoming contenders in the West.