NBA AM: Will Lakers Target Iguodala Again?
Andre Iguodala was nearly traded from the Philadelphia 76ers to the Los Angeles Lakers last June. In the hours leading up to the 2011 NBA Draft, the two teams were discussing a potential deal that would’ve sent Iguodala to Los Angeles in exchange for several pieces including Lamar Odom and a draft pick.
The Lakers were ready to pull the trigger on the deal and the Sixers strongly considered it. However, Philadelphia ultimately turned down the trade because they believed that Odom would be unhappy and unmotivated after being dealt from Los Angeles.
After watching Odom struggle with the Dallas Mavericks and get dismissed from the team in April, there’s no question that Philadelphia made the right decision. Their read on Odom was entirely accurate – he had the worst year of his career, averaging 6.6 points and 4.1 rebounds – and now they find themselves one game away from the Eastern Conference Finals.
However, if the Sixers are eliminated by the Boston Celtics in Game 7, the general consensus around the league is that they’ll try to trade Iguodala this summer. Even with Philadelphia’s recent success, league sources insist that Iguodala is a player who could be moved this offseason if the right offer comes along.
The Lakers, who are looking to shake their roster up this offseason, are expected to once again emerge as a potential suitor for Iguodala. The 28-year-old would be an excellent fit for Los Angeles and solve their problem at small forward. Sources close to the situation say that Kobe Bryant would welcome the move since he has wanted the Lakers to acquire an athletic, versatile small forward for several years.
After missing on Iguodala last summer, the Lakers may be able to land him this offseason if they’re willing to part with the right pieces. With that said, Los Angeles will have competition for the small forward. Many teams are expected to express interest if Iguodala becomes available. This season, he averaged 12.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.5 assists in 62 games with the Sixers.
Many players will be mentioned as possible targets for the Lakers this summer, but Iguodala is a realistic option given that these teams have flirted with this possibility in the no-so-distant past.
Magic Will Talk to O’Neal: Shaquille O’Neal is in the mix for the Orlando Magic’s general manager job and he’ll talk with the team next week, sources close to the situation confirm. ESPN first reported that O’Neal would meet with the Magic regarding the vacancy.
After discussing their plans internally, Magic brass assembled a list of candidates on Wednesday and started scheduling interviews. O’Neal is on that list, but sources say there are many others who will also be considered for the job.
The decision to interview O’Neal seems like a head scratcher at first, especially with how critical he has been of Dwight Howard over the years. During the final years of Shaq’s playing career, he took shots at Howard on a regular basis, criticizing Howard’s game and use of the “Superman” nickname. Even since becoming an analyst at TNT, O’Neal has continued to take subtle digs at Howard, most recently saying that Andrew Bynum is the best center in basketball and defending that belief against a pro-Howard Charles Barkely.
However, ESPN’s Marc Stein writes, “The two privately have a friendly relationship and often send text messages to one another. In fact, O’Neal often has been a confidante for Howard during this trying season in Orlando.”
The only way hiring O’Neal in Orlando makes sense is if he and Howard have become friends. If Shaq can get Howard to sign a long-term contract with the Magic then his lack of experience can be overlooked.
At this point, there’s no question that Orlando’s top priority is getting Howard to commit long-term and if there’s any chance that O’Neal can deliver that, it’s worth giving him the time of day for an interview.
Also, it’s important to remember that O’Neal has an excellent relationship with Brian Shaw, who many believe is the top coaching candidate on Orlando’s wish list as they try to replace Stan Van Gundy. Howard would like to see Shaw become the next coach of the Magic, according to sources close to the center.
If O’Neal does get the job in Orlando, the Magic will hire an experienced executive to put alongside him such as Donnie Walsh. That way, Orlando could take advantage of O’Neal’s relationships while grooming him for the job.
At this point, O’Neal is just one of many candidates that the Magic are considering and interviewing. However, if he can guarantee that Howard will sign a long-term deal and that Shaw will become the next coach in Orlando, he suddenly becomes the frontrunner.
Inside the Celtics-Sixers Series: Here are some interesting stats from the Elias Sports Bureau.
• The 76ers and the Celtics played a dramatic, if somewhat ragged, Game 6 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals series, with Philadelphia finally outlasting Boston, 82-75. The 76ers made only 17 of 28 free-throw attempts (60.7 percent), connected on only one of nine three-point shots (11.1 percent), and were out-rebounded, 48 to 37 – yes, those were the statistics of the winning team. Since the NBA instituted the three-point field goal in 1979, Philadelphia became the first team to win a playoff game in which its free-throw percentage and three-point field-goal percentage were so low and it had a double-digit deficit in rebounds.
• With the Celtics’ Game 6 loss in Philadelphia on Wednesday night, Doc Rivers is now 2-13 (.133) as an NBA head coach in road games in which his team had a chance to clinch a playoff series. He has surpassed Jack Ramsay (1-6) for the lowest career winning percentage in potential series-clinching road games among all NBA head coaches who appeared in at least five such games.
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