Lakers fans live for the days when there are no actual games being played…
This past weekend’s biggest sports news was obviously the Anthony Davis trade. If somehow you missed it, the trade was as follows: Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, the fourth overall pick in this week’s NBA draft, a 2021 first round pick if it is in the top 8 (if not, it becomes an unprotected 2022 pick), an unprotected pick swap in 2023, and an unprotected first round pick in 2024 (which the Pelicans can defer to 2025 if they so choose).
I’ve already tried to make it clear that simply via the cap alone, the Lakers are not going to be players for any significant free agents. However, Lakers fans are once again in their prime as they thrive when there is no basketball being played; the only time they are *allegedly* successful. Sixers fans also have this passion for believing the worst will always happen, somewhat rightfully so (It’s me. I’m Sixers fans).
If you can’t let the numbers provide you with comfort, then let’s try words. Ignoring the fact that I think the cap will force the Lakers to settle for much more marginal players, there are plenty of other substantial factors why we should not worry about our little dudes heading to Hollywood.
Jimmy Butler – 5 years, $190 million. This isn’t about the cap. It’s about Jimmy Butler and his entire career trajectory. Butler has been an elite franchise guard since his days with the Bulls, yet was dealt to Minnesota for Zach Lavine, Kris Dunn, and moving up 9 spots in the 2017 NBA Draft. The Bulls would select Lauri Markkanen with the #7 pick. This all stemmed from Butler’s dissatisfaction with the Bulls organization and coach Fred Hoiberg, who replaced Tom Thibodeau who Butler clearly preferred. Chicago did not see Butler as a star that could take them to a championship, and wasn’t the first time nor the last time that Butler felt personally disrespected as to how he has viewed and valued.
Then came Minnesota. Reunited with Thibodeau, young talent around him in Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, and setting himself up for his upcoming free agency, it felt like Butler had found the perfect situation. However, clearly Butler did not mesh well with KAT and Wiggins, and the Wolves struggled as well despite the talent they had. Butler is known as an intense competitor, and it is becoming clear that Wiggins, and to a lesser degree KAT, are not exactly the most tenacious players, especially on the defensive end. This was never as evident as the infamous practice where Butler took the end of the Wolves bench to a scrimmage win against KAT, Wiggins, and the other Wolves starters. Butler forced his way out of Minnesota and eventually ended up a Philadelphia 76er.
Butler seemed to have tremendous chemistry with the Sixers, especially Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Contrary to all the prior reports, Butler was mostly well behaved and a great leader, especially down the stretch and in the playoffs. Outside of a widely speculated upon event where he spoke up in a film session to Brett Brown, no one had much to say negatively about Butler in his time in Philadelphia. Butler was allowed to shine in the playoffs in Philadelphia, becoming the primary scoring option, getting plenty of isolation and pick-and-roll opportunities, and often accompanied Embiid to the podium postgame, further emphasizing the bond forming between the two.
The point of revisiting Butler’s past is to make it very clear what his priorities have always been: setting himself up to be in a position to sign a maximum free agent deal in a situation where he is valued, happy, and can compete. Butler could’ve simply waited out the clock in Minnesota and likely nothing would’ve changed much as far as the pursuit of him as a free agent. Yet Butler continued to look for a place that he could call home. There has been little to no reason to not believe that place is Philadelphia. Butler is an alpha, a competitor, and to be quite honest, just different than a lot of guys. I can’t see him wanting to be the third option to LeBron and Davis. It was even reported by Woj that he did not want to be traded to the Lakers from Minnesota as he did not want to play with LeBron. Butler likely could’ve forced his way to LA, but he did not. Now, if he did choose to go, he’d sacrifice at least $50 million in total contract value, if not more as he’d likely have to take less to make it work (sorry, ignoring the cap, carry on). He would also enter yet another scenario where the chemistry is unknown, and if we’re betting on it, not likely to be ideal. So far Butler has forced his way out of both of his teams to find more desirable situations, and again, there has been little to the contrary that he has enjoyed the city of Philadelphia, the franchise, and most importantly, the young stars that comprise our core in Embiid and Simmons.
Could Butler leave? Sure. The Clippers, Heat, and Nets all don’t seem like impossible scenarios. I truly believe the Sixers will not mess around and offer him the full 5/190, and I don’t imagine Butler will turn it down. If he does though, it will not be to go to the Lakers. Go ahead and tag @oldtakesexposed.
Harris’ past has a lot of similarities to Butler’s that are not often discussed nearly as much. Having already been traded four times, from Milwaukee to Orlando to Detroit to Los Angeles and finally to Philadelphia, Harris has gone on record saying that he values consistency and is looking to finally find a place to set up shop. I know I’ve argued whether the Sixers should retain Harris or not, but that doesn’t change that I don’t believe Harris would be willing to take his talents to the Lakers.
First off, Harris would be a very strange fit alongside LeBron and AD. Davis is a C/PF, and Lebron at this point is more PF than SF. Harris is also a PF/SF, and really can’t defend either (or anyone) all that well. We also saw, albeit in a small sample size, that Harris struggled in a much more off-ball role in his time as a Sixer. Between LeBron, whoever ends up as the starting point guard, and the usage rate of AD, there would seem to be little opportunity for Harris as it is, and when he will, it will often be in a spot up and shoot role. For the money Harris is likely to command, it would seem like a bad fit for both Harris and the Lakers, and a significant misuse of available cap space.
Second, to go back to Harris looking to finally have some stability, no one is safe from being moved by LeBron James. Playing alongside LeBron is the furthest opposite from stability there could be currently in the NBA. If Harris is looking for somewhere to establish himself, this seems like the last situation that should be on his radar.
The reason I would think Harris would choose to sign somewhere that isn’t Philadelphia would be that he did not think the fit was good for him, and he would like the opportunity to be featured more in the offense and get back to the role he was thriving in as a Clipper. As much as I made it out that Harris did not seem like the best fit for the Sixers, I’d imagine that fit would be similar but even worse as a Laker. The Nets, again, seem like a very real threat to the Sixers for one of their stars, but I just don’t see the Lakers being in play.
Redick has been mentioned more and more now that some are finally figuring out the Lakers may need to set their sights on a lower tier free agent as a result of the cap. Unlike Butler and Harris, I think Redick actually would be a tremendous fit on the Lakers with James and AD for the same reasons Butler and Harris are not. Redick is an elite shooter who doesn’t require handling the ball. The attention guys like LeBron and AD require would make it difficult for teams to pay Redick the attention he has received as a Sixer. Redick as a Laker actually scares me a little bit and maybe could see him perform even better than he has in Philadelphia.
However, this has a lot more to do with Redick than it does the Lakers. During his last free agency after leaving LA, Redick was mainly tied to only east coast teams such as the Nets, Sixers, and Knicks. Redick, a Brooklyn native and approaching 35 years of age, has found the perfect situation in Philadelphia. He can easily commute between his home and Philly, and he has found stability and consistency in his role, his teammates, and his compensation.
At this point, Redick seems to value the consistency in his routine, his role, and the ability to be near his family. It seems unlikely at this point he’d want to venture all the way back to California and spend multiple years that far from his wife and kids. Redick also seems to like being out of the spotlight, as he is notably not on social media, and seems very mild mannered and has enjoyed being mostly drama free in his time in Philadelphia. The sideshow that is playing with LeBron James does not seem like an ideal scenario for an aging Redick. I think he is going to finish his career as a Sixer, but again, the Nets could be in the mix, though Joe Harris seems to make it less than ideal to also have JJ Redick.
It’s no secret that Boban values his relationship with Tobias Harris. The friendship between the two is a social media phenomenon. Boban had his highs and lows as a Sixer, and clearly seems capable as a regular season backup big, but is probably unplayable as you get into the playoffs and move toward the Finals. If the Lakers have aspirations to win a title (they are the current Vegas favorites), they would need a viable backup to make it there, and Boban doesn’t seem like he will be viewed that way by the prime contenders.
Mike Scott ain’t no b***h, so he won’t be a Laker.
He’s probably a Laker. Just feels right. Sorry, everyone.