The Lakers (and every other NBA team) are just about ready to kick off the 2016-17 season. Sweet! So what to watch for?
After the big headlines of the day, including stories of Melo-as-activist and an admission from Kevin Durant about what motivated his move to Golden State — we break down this year’s NBA.com GM Survey. What are the surprises? What do GM’s say about the Lakers, and Luke Walton?
From there… it’s Nick Young. Because he’s the most surprising story of training camp, and it’s really not close. After, we take a look at Julius Randle, probably the most “controversial” Lakers young ‘un, insofar as future projections are concerned. How good to opposing scouts think he is?
Finally, we cap this week’s episode with our yearly look at the newest nominees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame… and hand out a statue to Kwame Brown!
With preseason games 2 and 3 in the books, we have a little better feel for this Lakers team, and for the first time in a while… the sun is poking through the clouds!
This team, in our humble opinion, still isn’t going to win a ton of games, but on both sides of the ball have given Lakers fans all the feels to this point in the fake game schedule. Some of the more interesting trends: Jordan Clarkson has come off the bench for all three games, with Lou Williams as a starter. The results have been positive all around, so will Luke Walton stick with that lineup? If so, is that a good thing? Julius Randle has improved his playmaking skills over the offseason. How far can he take it? What about Brandon Ingram? Any concern over his slow start?
This after kicking around some big news, including happy reports on negotiations for a new CBA, and a very unusual ambassadorship for Yao Ming.
Plus, we reveal our most intriguing non-Warriors/Cavs teams in both conferences. Then we cap it off not just with statues for Sasha Vujacic, but a rousing game of Sasha Vujacic trivia!
It’s likely more than you can handle in a single episode, but we’re willing to risk it.
He is one of the funniest people in Hollywood, and has been for a very long time.
Fred Willard is a master of comic improv, evidenced by his roles in the series of Christopher Guest mockumentaries, like “Waiting for Guffman,” “Best In Show,” and “A Mighty Wind.” His newest, “Mascots,” debuts October 13th on Netflix. And without giving too much away, he’s incredibly funny. (Actually, that’s giving nothing away, except what you probably assumed already.)
We spoke to Fred about the new movie, the secrets of improv, what makes a character funny, and one great missed opportunity in his long, successful career. Fun stuff.
The NBA is officially underway! The Lakers, while enjoying all camp has to offer — canoeing, archery, arts and crafts, orienteering, and trying to make out with the counselors at the girls camp across the lake — are also very clearly enjoying the first days of the Luke Walton era. Like, a lot. Which isn’t to say they didn’t enjoy last season’s circus in the same way… except it kinda is.
Hopefully it lasts a while, but for the time being the players who were here last season, particularly the young ‘uns, and particularly D’Angelo Russell, have clearly taken a shine to the new regime.
We break down all the big stories from the early days of training camp, including (but not limited to)…
Evidence a genuine culture has the chance to take root this year.
How feeling empowered by his coaching staff could help Russell on the floor.
Why Kobe needed to retire for Walton’s approach to work.
The Jim Buss Timeline: Mitch Kupchak says he’s really not aware of it. Land O’Lakers Factcheckers rate that a full four Paul Pierce Wheelchairs on the lie scale. Still, while it seems reasonable to believe the Lakers won’t make the Western Conference Finals (don’t shoot the messenger), what happens to Jim Buss if the Lakers show legitimate improvement, over the course of the year? Any shot he stays? And if Jim goes, does Mitch go, too?
And that means we are, too! With a few minor adjustments. Like a total lack of music, thanks to some licensing questions with ESPN podcasts. So rather than run afoul of the law, we’ll abide until we can find a workaround.
But thankfully, we’re still plenty able to talk hoops. And with Monday’s media day right around the corner, we tackle the big topics of conversation surrounding the purple and gold. Start with D’Angelo Russell, who hearts the new coaching staff in ways he, well, may not have hearted the previous one. So how much shade is Russell really throwing Byron Scott?
What about Luke Walton’s decision to bring Brandon Ingram off the bench? Then there are projections! ESPN has the Lakers pegged to win 24.5 games this year. Too high? Too low? Or juuuuuuust right? (Surely there’s a way to win a half game somewhere.)
Finally, the Lakers have signed Metta World Peace to one more make-good deal. Occasion enough to give him a statue! And, of course, more Secret Audio From the LaMarcus Aldridge Pitch Meeting.
Sometimes, the first few days of free agency are a tease. A big ball of underwhelming.
Not this year!
With the salary cap set to explode, money was flying faster and larger than the NBA has ever seen. People you may never have heard of have cashed in on eight figure deals. The Lakers were in the mix, throwing $64 million at center Timofey Mozgov and another $70 mil to forward Luol Deng. (Plus, they wrapped up Jordan Clarkson and Tarik Black.)
Was it money well spent? What do the signings say about the state of the franchise?
And what about Kevin Durant? Why is he going to Oakland, and does that move make Russell Westbrook a #FutureLaker?
All that and more on the new installment of the podcast…
Andy and Brian Kamenetzky are writers and radio hosts in Los Angeles, and have covered local and national sports for over a decade with the Los Angeles Times and ESPN. This is their ninth season covering the Lakers and the NBA.