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Telling it like it is: Episode 1 - Lakers Pulse

Telling it like it is: Episode 1

Telling it like it is: Episode 1

The Lakers defeat the Clippers 111-104 to end the Preseason (2-4)
Lakers Waive David Nwaba
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to the Lakers is still a strong possibility

Welcome to my new series! This series is to discuss the hot topics on Twitter and speaking on rumors. Also, standout player performances and updates on my views of the direction of the team.  Most of it will be about the Lakers, but I might throw some curveballs about other things going on in the league. My hope is that once the season starts it becomes weekly or bi-weekly. During the offseason, it won’t have a set schedule. When I see there is enough to talk or something catches my eye, there will be more episodes. Hope you guys enjoy it and welcome to Telling it like it is.

1. Westbrook to LA needs to stop

The Lakers and Russell Westbrook will be forever connected to each other because he is a California kid and the Lakers need a superstar. The problem is that the partnerships doesn’t make sense for either side. The Lakers are in a rebuild and are trying to groom their young talent into stars. On the other hand, Westbrook isn’t getting any younger and his game is purely based on how well he is able to attack the rim. He is such a violent athlete and that is what makes him so special. As he gets older, that will begin to diminish. His 29.6% from 3 shows that he is a bad 3 point shooter which gives his game less longevity. He won’t be able to create his own offense all that well therefore giving him less attention and making him a passer. As gifted of a passer that he is, turnovers also follow with his erratic game which gave him a 4.3 TOV per game.

Don’t get me wrong, Russell Westbrook is a top 5 player in this league. He is easily worth a max contract in any market and teams should do what they can to get him during free agency. The hope in trading for him is to get first dibs at resigning him during the summertime. However the price for the caliber of player that Westbrook is does not come cheap.

For the Lakers, it might take a combination of Russell + Randle + Nance to land him. It might even take Ingram to complete the deal. If Westbrook hits the market, the Lakers should 110% go all in for him. Hope is that the Lakers might be a bit further along to make themselves more attractive. Seeing potential realized is much easier to sell than unproven potential. The Lakers are simply too far in this rebuild to blow it up. Trading any of these players at there lowest values makes no sense. The Lakers have a good thing going, no need to shake it up for a player that could just walk after this year. TRUST THA PROCESS.

2. Predicting Zubac’s role with the Lakers in 2016-2017

The Lakers real draft pick on draft night was Ivica Zubac. He fell into the Lakers lap at 32. A top 20 talent fell that far because he didn’t want to get stashed and his injury history might have turned teams off. I went in depth on Zubacca a couple weeks ago, in there I wrote about how he fits with the Lakers and what he is good at and needs to work on. The 19 year old is raw but has plenty of upside on both ends of the floor. He doesn’t fit the mold for a modern center but has qualities that are of value. His issues will get cleaned up with experience and conditioning.

The Lakers did, however, re-sign Tarik Black for 2 year 12.85 million. The money doesn’t count towards the cap so it gives them flexibility to sign other players and also locks him in for 2 years. Tarik couldn’t get much of a role last year because he was one of the long list of members in the Byron doghouse. The Lakers reportedly wanted him to play more last year so this deal makes sense.  It does clarify a bit more how the Lakers will handle Zubac. With Tarik being a lock for the back-up center, it is clear that Zubac will spend a great chunk of the season playing for the D-League.

If the Lakers want him to spend time on the bench learning and practicing with the main squad, they could go that route as well. Giving him a couple minutes here or there. The most likely option being the former not the latter. Mitch describe him as “raw” so it makes sense to play some time in the developmental league. Key thing for Zubac is to gain experience and work on his game, whatever option the Lakers go for, it will be in the best interest for the kid.

3. The Lakers roster construction makes sense up to this point

When making a smoothie, the goal is to have a perfect blend of all the ingredients. My favorite smoothie to make is a banana blueberry milkshake. Since there was a lot of blueberries, I added 4 bananas to make sure that the blueberries aren’t too strong. Also added a bit more milk than usual to compensate for increased usual amount of fruits. Blended it all together and there it is: a well balanced milkshake with everything meshing perfectly (spoiler alert: It was good). That is the same recipe for a well built team. Veterans and young talent are both needed.

One could argue that a Jared Dudley or a player similar could have been had for less. That all is true but it seems as if the Lakers are high on Deng. In this “get him at all cost” mentality, the Laker got their guy at 4 years 72 million. Although the years are not ideal, Deng is a great culture guy that can still play at a high level while also controling the locker room. That is something that the Lakers could have used last year and it seems they have learned their lesson. Moz isn’t exactly a leader but he could serve as a mentor to Zubac and is another guy that won’t cause trouble and will come in and work. Going after young guys like Biyombo or Crabbe makes sense for long term projections but the Lakers don’t need anymore 23 year olds on the team. 30 year olds that have been to the playoffs hold value, they know how it feels to go through slumps and big performances. Veteran leadership and young upside blend together to make a successful structure for the main attraction.

4. Why the amount of years is much more worse than more money

The reason why this free agency was one of the more memorable ones was that nothing went as planned and was as crazy as one could imagine. The Warriors now have 4 of the top 12 players in the league and are the HEAVY favorites to win it all and go down as one of the best teams ever. Dwight went to Atlanta. Pau went to San Antonio. HARRY B GOT A MAX OFFER FROM THE MAVS. Biyombo went to Orlando. Mike Conley makes the most money in league history. This isn’t even half of the craziness that went on. Probably the most stunning thing is the amount of players that got more than 1 or 2 years.

This free agent class has nothing on what 2017 has to hold. Yet teams signed 4 year deals with players that will not live up to all that money on the back end. Yes, Mozgov is one of those players but he isn’t the only one. A lot of players got the long term security that they were looking for. That is great for them as they are now set up for life. The teams on the other hand have tied up their money for a while with players that already are overpaid. Paying a player way more money than they deserve but over a shorter span means it leaves flexibility to get out of a bad contract.

For example: 2 years 40 million is a much better contract then 4 years 64 million for a player like Mahinmi. You get some of his best later years but it doesn’t drag on too deep into the tail end of the career. Teams that didn’t do that mean that why are going to ride with what they have. They might add a couple more mid tier players but with multiple lengthy contracts, their won’t be much movement.

In a rising cap with more money, players chose security over amount, which is fair. Teams got a bit desperate because they knew they couldn’t land higher tier players and overpaid. I expected a bit more give from front offices to get players on overblown contracts but that didn’t happen. The players dictated the market early on and that tone carried throughout. Since GM’s are expected to win now and more teams can bid for players, overpaying and giving the best offer to the player they want is reasonable. Not justifiable because some teams will pay dearly on the back end but in the market it is understandable.

5. Ingram and Zubac are saying all the right things

Ingram and Zubac has their introductory press conference as they each held their jersey and took some questions from the media. Here is some of the highlights:

Both Zubac and Ingram were all smiles and sounded very mature up there. Ingram is talking as if he wants to assert himself as a leader and the Lakers could use some of those. This is still Russell’s team(more on this later) and it is clear that he and Russell are going to be tone setters. Ingram is the next top prospect to follow right after Kobe retired. He gets Kobe’s locker and he is enjoying the spotlight.

Zubac is just trying to figure out where he is. Honestly, Zubac is just a tall European Lakers fanboy that happens to be good at putting the ball in the hoop. The moment feels surreal and he is soaking it all in. Yet he knows that him falling into the second round and being a mystery guy that people won’t expect much from him. Being humble and having that second round chip on your shoulder is something that Clarkson has carried with him. The 19 year old has way to go but his ceiling for a second rounder is very high. The Lakers core is full of great, hard working kids.

6. Summer League mini-preview

Russell and Ingram make their debut together on the floor. Not mention Zubac hits the floor and Nance will look to improve on what he did last year. Most 2nd year players usually feed off of the rookies and guys fighting for the roster spots to shine and show off what they have been working on. Nobody, and I mean nobody, is better poised to have a great showcase than D’Angelo Russell.

He has continually worked on his game and has gotten stronger. In a system tailor-made for a modern PG, Russell checks all the boxes. He can rebound with his size and push the ball all the time. His passing out of pick and rolls will allow him to rack up the assists. What I am most excited for is his amazing passes that he will attempt to pull off. D’Angelo has that swagger and flash that you just know an amazing pass is bound to come at any time. It is just Summer League but setting the tone early would be ideal to show us that we weren’t wrong.

Ingram is coming in with lower expectations. Similar to what Russell had last year, if he has success that is good but the most likely outcome is that he struggles. He hasn’t played in a competitive scene in a while and has to shift his focus back to the court. He is adjusting to a new system and new teammates so it won’t be a seamless fit. He will have flashes and show why he was picked #2 but he won’t be the world beater that he is projected to become.

It will be interesting to see how many minutes Zubac and Fall play as they as easily the tallest duo. Hopefully Anthony Brown starts to come along in his second year. Last year was disappointing and his shooting and defense could be of some use. Since I am a Zubac fan (If you aren’t then I question your soul), I hope he proves his worth to make the rotation. There will be minutes available at the 5 and the battle of Augustine and Zubac for the 3rd big man in the rotation. Summer League is the MOST exciting part of the summer for Lakers fans as they get their first glimpse into the dynamic duo.

Thank you all for taking time out of your day to read this. I hope this can become something that you all look forward to reading in the future. There will be much more for me to discuss about when pre-season and the real season begins. Thank you again and till next time on Telling it like it is.