NBA@2: L.A. Lakers Keeping Gasol, Bynum?
Last season, the Los Angeles Lakers seemed dead set on trading All-Star power forward Pau Gasol. They traded him, in fact, before the season started, only to have NBA Commissioner David Stern nix the deal acting as the owner of the New Orleans Hornets. Gasol was also very much on the market as the trade deadline approached in March, with a number of teams ranging from the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Houston Rockets involved in some level of talks for the Spanish big man.
Since the Lakers’ untimely demise in the second round of the playoffs, we’ve heard Gasol’s name surface in a wide range of rumors, with the most interesting one possibly landing him in Memphis to play alongside his brother Marc.
Today, however, Lakers executive vice president Jim Buss tells the Los Angeles Times that the team will not be making any major moves over the offseason.
Buss started by saying the chances that Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol will still be Lakers when the 2012-13 season gets underway are “very good.”
“I think changes are going to be made moving Pau lower to the basket,” Buss said. “We can improve that way with a change in coaching strategy rather than a change in personnel.”
Any personnel changes, according to Buss, will involve the bench.
“We will try to sign (Ramon) Sessions when the rules allow beginning in July,” Buss said. “And improve the bench.”
As much as Lakers fans would like to see Dwight Howard or Deron Williams in L.A. next season, the chances of either heading that far West continue to be remote. The Orlando Magic would want to start a package for Howard with Bynum, whom Buss is adamant that he won’t trade, and the Brooklyn Nets aren’t even willing to consider the possibility that Williams won’t be their starting point guard next season.
That’s not to say that changes aren’t need. After all, despite having one of the best starting lineups in all of basketball, the Lakers have been ousted in the second round for two years in a row, and Gasol and Bryant aren’t getting any younger. Ramon Sessions may be the point guard the Lakers were lacking, but they still need to replace the production that the player formerly known as Lamar Odom was giving them off the bench.
Dallas Mavericks’ free agent Jason Terry, anyone?
The best way to improve the team would seem to be to trade Gasol for two or three players who immediately impact the rotation in a positive way, but if Buss is being genuine in saying that’s not an option, the Lakers will have to rely on his deep financial pockets to make it happen. The team is already some $20 million over the cap going into next season, and that’s with only seven rotation players under contract and assuming Sessions doesn’t get a better offer than $4.5 million he turned down as a player option.
Keeping the Lakers’ big three together is going to be a very expensive proposition, and if the result is another second round loss in 2013, bigger changes could be in store next summer.
NBA Draft: Bernard James
The 2012 NBA Draft is certainly heavy on big man talent, and that’s probably a big part of the reason why most are predicting that Florida State’s Bernard James is a likely second-round pick. He might not be the flashy name in the class, but after a short conversation with this young man, it quickly becomes apparent that he could be an impact player on and off the court. At 27 years old, James has served multiple tours in the Middle East, he’s been in multiple war zones and doesn’t seem to understand the meaning of the word pressure. How’s that for an NBA prerequisite? You won’t want to miss Bernard James’ unique story about his journey to the NBA draft in this HOOPSWORLD exclusive interview:
Orlando Magic Set To Hire GM?
The long-awaited decision from the Orlando Magic regarding who their next general manager will be may be coming in the next few days, according to the Orlando Sentinel‘s Josh Robbins.
The three finalists — former New Orleans Hornets GM Jeff Bower, Oklahoma City Thunder Assistant GM/Player Personnel Rob Hennigan and San Antonio Spurs Vice President/Assistant GM Dennis Lindsey — have met with members of the DeVos family in Michigan for the final round of interviews. The final interview may have taken place this past Friday.
The question may very well come down to which candidate is most willing to be one voice among many, as the Magic have a number of people already involved in personnel decisions and aren’t looking for an overruling personality. Given the state of the team, which teeters on the precipice of disaster as the fate of Dwight Howard is to be determined, the idea of working as part of a bigger process could be a deal-breaker for a GM looking to remake a team in his own image.
Sources close to the situation tell HOOPSWORLD that Bower is the most likely candidate because of his willingness to be one voice among many, as well as his track record as the GM of the New Orleans Hornets. He built a team around Chris Paul that many felt could contend for a championship, though injuries ultimately prevented that team from ever realizing its potential.
Lindsey and Hennigan, of course, come with pedigrees from two of the top organizations in the NBA, so either would be a solid choice. Lindsey is said to be less interested in being a role player in managing a team, and may prefer to hold out for a job that gives him the freedom to make decisions unencumbered. The Spurs are already exploring replacements for Lindsey, as they see him as the next in a line of executives who have left the team to take on bigger roles elsewhere.
Once the Magic make their GM decision, a head coach should be decided upon in short order. In a perfect world, the new GM and head coach will play important roles in what could be a very important draft day for the Magic.
The fate of Dwight Howard could well hang in the balance.
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