Unless you’re an out of state Laker or Warrior fan, I hope you make enough disposable income to get NBA League Pass. Because with the best and most popular NBA player in the league now joining the most storied franchise, you’re about to be inundated with even more Lakers games on national television than before.
According to data collected by Yaya Dubin, the Lakers had the fifth most amount of nationally televised games (ESPN, ABC, TNT, and NBA TV) in the league, trailing only the Warriors, Rockets, Cavs, and Thunder. Keep in mind, the Lakers hadn’t won more than 27 games since the 2012-13 season. For a trash lottery team run by a family that’s basically enacting a low-rent sports version of Game of Thrones in their front office, that’s more than these perennial playoff teams: the Celtics, Spurs, Clippers, and Raptors. The Bucks had fewer than five, and they have the second best player in the Eastern Conference in Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Now that the LeBron James business has joined the Lakers, you can bet that there will be even more televised Lakers games. I wouldn’t be surprised if they had over 60 games on national tv, dwarfing the younger, rising teams like the Sixers, Celtics, Pacers, and Jazz, for example. In fact, they’ll dwarf every team’s numbers, even the Warriors. Hopefully the league will trojan horse those young fun teams into the national spotlight by showcasing their games against the Lakers. More people need to watch the majesty of Giannis, the workman’s grit of Oladipo, and the high-flyingness of Donovan Mitchell. By the way, expect every Lakers/Warriors game to be televised, no matter how much Golden State smokes them by.
Which will happen. LeBron is not flanked by Paul George, who signed a long-term contract with OKC, or by Kawhi Leonard (yet). He’s got…Javale McGee and Lance Stephenson as the other big free agents the Lakers signed. The second best player on that team is Brandon Ingram entering his third season. The NBA will subject you a 34 year old LeBron who plays no defense before May running the court with kids and morons.
Most teams are waiting for the 2019 offseason, which bodes ill for the Kings
Ever since the first weekend of free agency, this offseason has been boring. No big trades, no signings of immediate high impact, and a bunch of casualties of limited cap space. The market was always going to be a little limited for Demarcus Cousins, but nobody saw him signing with the Warriors for $5.3 million.
The cap spike of 2016 continues to fuck over teams and players. Instead of blaming Michele Roberts and the rest of the NBPA like we’ve been doing, we should probably blame these general managers for the insane contracts they gave out. As of now, only the Kings have significant cap space anymore. And that’s partially because of them forcing the Bulls to match a pricey contract for Zach Lavine. Speaking of Lavine, he had to pivot from “Sacramento wanted me more” when he signed their offer sheet to “I always wanted to be in Chicago” after the Bulls matched. It was an inelegant exercise in pre-emptive expressions of loyalty. He tried to make it sound like he just wanted to be wanted, instead of acknowledging that he was trying to get as much as he could have, which is not just his right but also his responsibility, coming off an ACL tear.
Next year is the year those 2016 contracts come off the books and cap space opens up for a lot more teams. Some of those teams, like the Pacers, will be one max-level player away from true contention. According to Spotrac, about 9 teams will have enough practical cap space to outright sign a max guy, depending on the guy’s years of service. That includes the Pacers, the Clippers, the Knicks, and the Lakers. The Kings are also there, but they lose all the leverage they have this year if there are other choices.
The Kings, for their part, still operate on a completely different level than anyone else. Not in a good way, either. They passed on Luka Doncic to avoid taking the ball out of De’aaron Fox’s hands, according to Vlade Divac. They then…offered Zach Lavine 4 years and $80 million. There are no rumors that they were even players in the kind of trade that Denver engaged the Nets in that offloaded two expiring contracts and a first-round pick to Brooklyn in exchange for basically cap space. The Kings will have more cap space than anyone besides Brooklyn next year unless Vlade Divac gets a wild hair up his ass and signs another washed ass veteran.
Quick aside: a lot of Kings fans only saw this as adding two more power forwards to a team overloaded with them and thus not worth the pick. To which I say: do you not know that a team like the Kings can waive players like this and still have the cap space next year anyway? Speaking of which, today the Kings traded away Garrett Temple, the team’s best defender and a stunning example of on- and off-court leadership, to the Memphis Grizzlies for center Deyonta Davis and two old friends: Ben McLemore and Cash Considerations.
THIS SMELLS LIKE MALOOFERY
Apparently, the cash is to give the Kings extra leeway to buy out the two bootsy-ass players they received, so the Kings basically traded Temple for yet another second round pick and freed up an extra $900,000 thousand in cap space for a team already below the salary floor.
Which begs the question: *extremely irritated George Carlin voice* WHYYYYYYYYYY? Did Temple want out? I can’t blame him. But there wasn’t another team aching for a strong 3-and-D guy on an expiring contract who could have given a better asset?
Kings shill du jour Grant Napear assures that the team has a plan, but do they really? If the plan was to wait for the free agency boom of 2019, why offer Zach Lavine a giant contract? Because he’s young? Wouldn’t he take the ball out of the hands of Fox (and Bogdan Bogdanovich and Buddy Hield who also should get the ball)? More importantly, does Vlade Divac understand that draft picks have immense value? Does he understand that the more teams with cap space, the less leverage the Kings have on the open market because they’re total ass and no one wants to play there?
Does anymore offseason chicanery await us?
The Kawhi Situation and the Clint Capela/Daryl Morey standoff have yet to be resolved, but other than that there isn’t much I can think of that has the potential for fireworks. But that’s the best part of this league; it’s always what you don’t expect that yields the funniest results.