Shootaround (June 14) -- Los Angeles Lakers reportedly split on who to pick No. 2 overall
Plus, Mychal Thompson sees more titles in the Warriors' future and other news from around the NBA
This morning’s headlines:
- Lakers hoping to bring in Ball for second workout
- Silver: ‘Let’s create more great teams’
- Mychal Thompson sees string of titles ahead for Warriors
- No need to disparage LeBron’s legacy after Finals loss
Lakers have workouts for Jackson, Fox; Ball may get another look — The notion that the Los Angeles Lakers are taking former UCLA star Lonzo Ball with the No. 2 pick in the 2017 Draft is not a given just yet. According to the Los Angeles Times‘ Broderick Turner, the Lakers had workouts for former Kansas star Josh Jackson and Kentucky standout De’Aaron Fox yesterday and are still weighing their options — which may require another Lakers workout for Ball:
It was not possible to draw a definitive conclusion from Kansas forward Josh Jackson’s second pre-draft workout with the Lakers on Tuesday because the team plans on bringing in UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball for another workout.
Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox had worked out for the Lakers earlier in the day before Jackson arrived hours later, in the afternoon.
But according to several NBA officials who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter because no decision has been made yet, the Lakers are split over whether to use their No. 2 pick in the NBA draft on Ball or Jackson.
The Lakers, the officials said, have been having a healthy debate on which course to take because they are intrigued by the talents of both players.
The Lakers are being diligent, and bringing Jackson for the workout at their practice facility showed how serious they are about him. The Lakers saw Jackson work out in Sacramento last Thursday.
Ball, who worked out for the Lakers last Wednesday, is a 6-foot-6 point guard many see as being in the mold of Johnson because of his court vision and ability to find open teammates.
Jackson, meanwhile, is a 6-8 wing player who is athletic and versatile. He said he was happy the Lakers asked him in for a solo workout, but didn’t put much stock in the notion the team might be leaning in his direction.
The Lakers were still trying to make arrangements for Ball’s second workout sometime this week
Several executives said Ball appeared “out of shape” and way “too cool” during his first workout with the Lakers, but another executive said the point guard still was impressive and that “his body of work at UCLA” demonstrated how skilled he is.
The Lakers have a 6-9 small forward in Brandon Ingram, who just finished his rookie season, but Jackson doesn’t see that as an issue if the two were to become teammates.
“I don’t think playing with Brandon would cause any problems,” Jackson said. “I think it would be really special, honestly.”
Fox had his moment to showcase his skills for the Lakers in Tuesday’s workout. He knows the competition at his position is Fultz and Ball, and was asked after his solo workout whether he was motivated by that.
“Um, I mean, yeah,” Fox responded. “You can say that about anybody. But right now I’m just worried about myself. I’m not really worried about those guys.”
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) June 13, 2017
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) June 14, 2017
Silver has no desire to break up Warriors, other super teams — The Golden State Warriors are the NBA champions after completing a 16-1 playoff run one season after a record 73-9 regular season. Their two titles in three years and their offseason addition of Kevin Durant last summer has many calling the team simply not fair to the rest of the NBA. In a discussion with The Washington Post‘s Adam Kilgore, though, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says the issue isn’t the Warriors’ greatness, but the need for more teams to simply be on a great level:
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver does not want to break up the Golden State Warriors. He just wants the rest of the league to catch up to them.
Silver, though, took no issue with the construction or quality of the Warriors. He expects other franchises to keep up.
“Rather than focusing on the top of the league, we should be focusing on the rest of the league,” Silver told The Post before Game 4. “Rather than talking about how to break up or knock down a championship-caliber team, my focus should be on how we do a better job developing more great players in this league.”
Silver pointed out that the Warriors had succeeded through savvy drafting and player development before signing Kevin Durant, who became NBA Finals MVP. They chose Draymond Green with the 35th pick, Klay Thompson at No. 11 and Steph Curry seventh. Signing Curry to an extension early in his career allowed them the flexibility to keep their nucleus together with key role players.
“And yes, an incredible free agent was added to that squad,” Silver said. “All the focus seems to be on, ‘They’re too good’ as opposed to, ‘What is it we should be doing to create more great teams in this league?’ That’s what my response is.
“My answer is, let’s create more great teams, rather than completely focus on one incredible team and whether that’s seemingly unfair to the other team. I think it’s the nature of competition. Ultimately, it’s about raising the bar for all the teams in this league and celebrating excellence.”
Silver is right — other franchises will attempt to compete with the Warriors. But the only way to combat their five all-stars would be to gather stars themselves. “There’s going to be a lot of teams that’s trying to figure out ways to put personnel together to try and match that,” LeBron James said after Game 5.
At some point, though, there are only so many stars to go around. New CBA provisions aim to prevent teams from luring stars, and the salary cap spike the Warriors took advantage of in signing Durant was a freak occurrence, tied to the NBA’s new television rights deal, that will not happen again. But players control player movement more than ever, and they have options to accommodate teams wishing to sign them, if they choose.
A logical conclusion is an extreme version of the star-clustering currently happening in the NBA, with two tiers of teams — a small few with stars, and a vast many with none. It would create titanic clashes with national appeal, but local ratings and attendance would decrease.
“That’s of course something we wouldn’t want,” Silver said. “Are stars born, or are they made? The issue here, this wasn’t a function of a bunch of star players coming together and saying, ‘Let’s choose a team to go play for.’ You had one incredible free agent join a group of other stars who weren’t stars until they came together, and came together under Steve Kerr and demonstrated excellence.”
Silver also believes the NBA can solve the potential problem of not enough big-name players to go around by simply creating more stars. He thinks a greater number of international players can raise the level of play. He wants to change the NBA’s age-limit rule, primarily to develop more skilled, prepared players entering the league.
“Draymond, four years in college. Steph and Klay spent three years in college,” Silver said. “So what does that say? The message is, it doesn’t mean that we should absolutely raise the minimum age. It just means that what we should is focus on, is there something about the way they were developed that turned them into such great players? My answer is, let’s create more great teams.”
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Mychal Thompson: Warriors set to win titles in four of next five years — When the Los Angeles Lakers were going on NBA Finals runs and winning titles in the late 1980s, big man Mychal Thompson was a key reserve on those teams. As the father of Golden State Warriors guard (and two-time NBA champion) Klay Thompson, Mychal knows just how good his son’s team is … and can be. He didn’t mince words about that latter point in an interview with The Greg Papa Show, writes Daniel Mano of The Mercury News:
Mychal Thompson offered a less-vitriolic version of vicarious pride than LaVar Ball’s methods during an appearance with The Greg Papa Show on Warriors flagship station 95.7 The Game.
“This Warriors team now, man, they could beat any team in any era because the way they defend — they’re so versatile on the defensive end — and the way they shoot the ball — better than any team in history,” Thompson said Tuesday. “This team right now could beat anybody, anywhere — and probably would.”
Which is why Thompson boldly forecast four more NBA titles for Golden State in the next half-decade.
“I’ll predict right now, over the next four years, I give ’em four rings,” Thompson said, a day after the franchise won its fifth championship. “Sometimes things pop up and you can lose one. You don’t want to get too greedy. But I think they’ll win four more over the next five years, as long as they stay healthy. They’re so young and so good and so well-coached and so-well run in the front office.
“As long as they stay humble, hungry and healthy, they’re going to win another four.”
Warriors faithful will also likely appreciate Thompson siding with Golden State in a discussion among Showtime Lakers about this squad’s place in league history. Magic Johnson said last week that the Los Angeles teams from the 1980s would sweep these Warriors, a statement backed up by then-coach Pat Riley.
Thompson almost laughed off the idea that Golden State couldn’t beat those Lakers.
“The competitive (way) that Magic is, and Kareem and Worthy and those guys, and Byron Scott, they’re not going to give into anybody, think anybody can beat ’em,” Thompson explained. “So I don’t blame Magic for thinking that they could beat the the Warriors in four games. But I’m a realist. I have an ego but I don’t think that my ego’s so big that I can’t admit we could lose to somebody lose to somebody. We did lose to somebody, we lost to the Pistons (in 1989) — so we could be beaten.”
No apologies necessary for LeBron after Finals loss — In league annals, perhaps only the stars of the Boston Celtics’ title teams of the 1960s come closest to the run of Finals appearances that LeBron James has amassed. Over the last 10 seasons, he’s been in eight of them and although he’s now 3-5 all-time in Finals series, there’s no disgrace in that mark. Mike Wise of ESPN’s The Undefeated has more:
No player in NBA annals has ever averaged a triple-double in the Finals except James, who parlayed a 41-point, 13-rebound night in Game 5 into 33.6 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists per game over two weeks of superb and sublime basketball that left him with nothing to apologize for and nothing to be ashamed about, including his NBA Finals ledger.
If you spend one minute knocking James for falling to 3-5 in the Finals, you don’t merely know nothing about basketball — you know nothing about sports.
Memo to TV and radio brethren: If you spend one segment eviscerating James’ legacy, may your brain be infested with the fleas of a thousand feral cats.
Kevin Durant is king today, and the Golden State Warriors are deserving NBA champions again. Yet, moments after the confetti stopped falling in Oakland, California, the ‘Bron-Lost-the-Big-One-Again chatter began to grow in disturbing numbers and volume on social media. This was not only low-hanging fruit. It was fermented and rotten, and it smelled worse than Zaza Pachulia’s practice socks. This is the most tired angle of the Finals and has nothing to do with reality. When you look at his numbers, it is actually more interesting, in fact, to break down why Rihanna bailed on the Cavs in their most vulnerable moments.
There was but one time to knock James in the Finals: 2011. He came up small in big moments and repeatedly disappeared in the fourth quarter of a series the Dallas Mavericks somehow stole from Miami.
Fact: Except for Games 5-7 against Golden State last year, when James and Irving remarkably delivered the Cavaliers their first title and Cleveland its first major sports title in 52 years, he played as well as he ever has on the league’s biggest stage.
Fact: This Cleveland team was by far the best Cavaliers team he ever played on, better than last year’s NBA champion. James wasn’t undone by his roster as much as the fact that the team with the best regular-season record in the history of the NBA a year ago went out and got the second-best player in the league. The Warriors won this title last July on Long Island, New York, as much as they won it Monday night in Oakland, recruiting Durant to join their forces as if he were a 17-year-old five-star recruit and they were John Calipari. Kyle Korver was a good pickup, but he was never going to compare to picking up Durant in the offseason.
Fact: James has been to two more NBA Finals than Michael Jordan, and he still has as many championships as Larry Bird, two more than Julius Erving, one more than Isiah Thomas and three more than Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone and John Stockton.
Fact: Losing five Finals is not a bad thing, America. James joins select company again (Jerry West and Elgin Baylor) as players to lose five or more Finals. If there were All-Time NBA teams, West and Baylor arguably do no worse than making that third starting five. No one talks derisively about Magic Johnson losing four of the nine Finals he played in, or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar losing four of the 10 he played in. West, in fact, was 1-8 in the Finals. No one is knocking Zeke from Cabin Creek’s legacy today. And if they are, West is looking for them to punch them in the teeth.
Fact: If James retired today, at minimum he’d go down as one of the three to five greatest players in the history of the game. Pay no attention to the yammering anti-‘Bron crowd. You’ll find that the people who use James’ Finals record to define his legacy as a player are often the same people with other misguided opinions about sports and life. Many of these misguided souls, in fact, took the Titanic over the iceberg in ’12 and Michael Spinks over Mike Tyson in ’88. And while it may be too much to wish them all to be set afire and then have the flames put out with golf shoes, the least they can do is shut their pieholes and let ‘Bron be. James is more interested in what Irving said than what any of us will say.
“Well, for me personally, I left everything on the floor every game, all five games,” James said Monday night. “So for me personally I have nothing to be — I have no reason to put my head down. I have no reason to look back at what I could have done or what I shouldn’t have done or what I could have done better for the team. I left everything I had out on the floor every single game for five games in this Finals, and you come up short.
“So it would be the same if you feel like you wrote the best column of your life and somebody picked another one over you. That’s — how would you feel? You know, so you wouldn’t hold your head down, but you would be like, OK, it’s just not my time.”
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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Hours after his Golden State Warriors wrapped up the 2017 NBA title, Draymond Green was back at the gym getting a workout in … ICYMI, here’s the info on the Warriors’ championship parade Thursday … The trailer for Stephon Marbury’s new movie is pretty intense … Thirty-six international players have withdrawn from the 2017 Draft pool … What a season it was in the NBA … Just nine days to go until the 2017 Draft is here …