Lakers News: Latest Intel from LA's Tumultuous Offseason
Suffice it to say the Los Angeles Lakers have had better offseasons. In fact, it's probably fair to place this among the franchise's worst summer months in history.
Dwight Howard leaving $30 million on the table to become a Houston Rocket is obviously chief on that list. By jettisoning Los Angeles, he's the first real superstar ever to do so—unless you want to count A.C. Green, which I do not. Howard's move signified a changing of the garb in Los Angeles and a shift in the way Lakers are viewed superficially, which will probably leave the team fighting desperately for the eight seed.
At the very least, it seems the Lakers have acknowledged next season will be a transitionary pilgrimage. ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein are already reporting the Lakers are having LeBron dreams and Carmelo thoughts for next offseason, hoping to bring two of the game's best forwards to Los Angeles to pair with Kobe Bryant.
That's all well and good. Plenty of teams plan to make free-agent splashes—just look at Mark Cuban's miserable Dallas Mavericks situation. The Lakers are obviously a different case and present, arguably, the greatest legacy among NBA franchises. They will probably land a superstar within the next calendar year, mainly because that's how league history tells us that's how things work.
For now? Welcome to the Chris Kaman and Nick Young era. The Lakers have been fast at work on the market to prove they aren't tanking the 2013-14 season, but it's still left LakerLand longing for some positive news to trickle out from the offseason doldrums.
How about a superstar player openly saying he'd be willing to play in Los Angeles? And a Kobe Bryant injury update while we're at it?
Here is a look at the latest news from Los Angeles.
Paul George Happy in Indiana but Open to Playing in Los Angeles
Pacers forward Paul George knows the Los Angeles basketball scene. He grew up in Palmdale, a boisterous city in Los Angeles County that rests about 60 miles away from South Figueroa Street where the Lakers play their home ball. And while he went up north to Fresno State for college, the 23-year-old's first major basketball experience outside the great state of California didn't take place until his rookie NBA season.
In the three years since, George has developed from a raw tools player to Danny Granger's underling all the way to face-of-the-franchise status with Indiana. With Granger out for all but five games of the 2012-13 NBA season, George developed into one of the finest two-way players in the game. He hounded opposing perimeter players with his length and athleticism while—after an initial rough patch—becoming an All-Star as a primary scorer.
Things are good for Paul George. So good, in fact, that it seems almost a given that he'll sign a maximum contract within the next 12 months. And expectations are that the Pacers will back up their Brinks truck and offer George a five-year deal, one that George will probably accept in order to secure financial security for himself and family.
The question is whether George is willing to stay in Indianapolis long-term or would prefer a move to a bigger market—specifically Los Angeles. He's spending the summer in California rather than Indiana, which has fueled the (relatively minor) speculation he might want to go elsewhere.
Speaking with Scott Agness of the Pacers' official website, George maintained he was completely happy with the Pacers and wants to stay "loyal" long-term. But the local kid manage to leave the door open, noting specifically his admiration of Kobe Bryant.
“Of course it would be tough (to say no to Kobe)," George said. "You’re talking about playing [at] home.”
It's at least a little jarring for George to so outwardly acknowledge he'd consider another franchise. Even in the day and age where everyone is changing their luck via free agency or forcing a trade, you rarely see a guy so outwardly call out a specific team in that manner. Pacers fans are among the most logical and level-headed in the NBA, so it's unlikely this causes a firestorm the way it would have had LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony made the same remark.
Will Paul George ever be a Laker?
Ultimately, it's likely nothing comes of this. Indiana's power in offering George a five-year deal is huge for someone who is still playing on a (relatively) modest rookie deal and hoping to get his first major superstar payday.
It's possible that George winds up playing for the Lakers somewhere along the line, but we're looking at about a half-decade into the future if history is any indication. Standard procedure involves giving George an opt-out after three or four years in his new deal, at which point he would become an unrestricted free agent.
The logistics behind what it would take for George to become a Laker any sooner than that are just too unrealistic. Indiana would either have to not match a restricted free-agent tender—not happening. Or George would have to forgo signing a lucrative extension with the Pacers and risk two years of possible injury to arrive in Los Angeles in 2015, at which point the Lakers might not have cap space.
Again: Not happening.
Chris Douglas-Roberts Clarifies, Says Kobe Not Three Months Ahead With Recovery
For a guy who is merely hoping to make the end of the Lakers bench for next season, Chris Douglas-Roberts sure knows how to stir up some controversy. The former Memphis standout created a ruckus on the Internet when he commented on the injury status of Kobe Bryant, claiming that he's far more ahead of schedule than anyone could have expected.
"He told me he's three months ahead of schedule, which is very Kobe-like," Douglas-Roberts in an interview with SB Nation blog Silver Screen and Roll.
Of course, folks reacted just as one would expect. They were quick to proclaim Mamba as a superhuman species, able to reform ligaments and limbs like some sort of X-Men character. Fans tend to do this, and Bryant's history of recovering from injury tends to lend itself to such plausibilities.
The logic soon creeped in, however, pooh-poohing Douglas-Roberts' claim pretty quickly. Superhuman species or not, it's pretty hard for a player to be three months ahead on his recovery when his surgery happened three months ago. Medical science exists for a reason. And with major surgeries like the one Bryant had on his Achilles, folks became rightfully dubious that anyone could have a concrete time table at this point in his recovery.
Well, it turns out we had nothing to react about in the first place. Remember that three-months comment? Turns out it was merely a joke. Mike Trudell of the Lakers' official website caught up with Douglas-Roberts in Las Vegas, where he's a member of the team's Summer League squad, and he clarified what he meant by the comments:
CDR to me: "Kobe told me he was ahead of schedule and I jokingly said he's probably 3 months ahead because that's very Kobe-like."— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) July 17, 2013
Douglas-Roberts also confirmed what most thought—that no, Bryant isn't three months ahead in his recovery:
The whole situation was avoidable had Douglas-Roberts' tone been read correctly in the initial interview. But since there is no video available of what Douglas-Roberts said, it's wholly possible that he said what he did in a serious tone but the words got mixed up.
Whatever. None of this especially matters all that much because we're unlikely to have even a tentative timetable from the Lakers until late August or September. Bryant by all indications is doing well in his recovery and is ahead of schedule. That phrase "ahead of schedule" is relative and can change at any moment.
I mean, remember this? So it's best for everyone to keep a cautious optimism, hope Bryant again defies the laws of aging and human composition and that Vino will be able to lead Los Angeles to a back-half playoff seed.
Adding any dates or labels is pure fiction at this point.
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