- The Open Floor crew dives into the mailbag to answer questions about the Lakers future and more.
In the latest episode of the Open Floor podcast, Andrew Sharp and Ben Golliver open their mailbag and discuss the future of the Los Angeles Lakers as a playoff team and briefly examine why LA might be the best possible destination for LeBron James outside of Cleveland.
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Laker fan question: I'm a lifetime Laker fan. I was at Thunder-Lakers Wednesday night and I am trying to be patient and understanding of the time it's going to take to be at least a sixth or seventh seed in the playoffs but I am wondering when we are going to start making some moves. Clarkson, Randle, don't get me wrong I love them but if we are going to be a playoff contender we need a lot of pieces that is not on this roster. I want to hear your takes on the future playoff Lakers.
Andrew Sharp: What's your take Ben?
Ben Golliver: What if I told you this Andrew. What if I told you the coach's preferred style is to play as fast as possible but the players that he had were the league leaders in turnover rates, that would be problem right?
AS: Not a good sign.
BG: Not a good start. So what if I told you that same coach wanted to play an outside-in offense relying pretty heavily on trying to play pace and space using a stretch 5 whenever possible, keeping guys out of the paint and yet they have the worst three-point percentage in the league that would be a problem too right?
AS: Another bad sign
BG: That's the Lakers and we can get into some other issues in terms of locker room stuff and the dynamic with these contracts and their recent team meeting and all that but what you have here is a team where their goal is to be that kind of fast who they want to be is not who their personnel is and it's very hard to bridge that gap.
Ultimately the emailer has come to the right conclusion: They just need better players and better fit players, guys who are going to play that style Luke Walton wanted to play and wanted to import from Golden State, the problem is that they have no shooters and play very careless in part because they are young and that is tricky.
One guy to keep an eye on here is your favorite guy, Brandon Ingram. He has definitely made strides in Year Two, there's no doubt but for him to really work in this system he is going to have to be a knockdown three-pointer shooter. That is going to have to be a weapon that he can go to so people can respect his ability to pull-up, and he can get into the paint and get to the rim, and get to the free-throw line and his game will open up when he gets there but he's just not there right now. But in terms of when they are going to become a playoff team, I'm tracking Ingram's development.
AS: Ingram is interesting. He is in that category where we put a lot of players in, where we talk about how great they are at various aspects of the game like OK if he gets a jumpshot he is going to be unstoppable—80 to 90 percent of the guys we put into that category is never going to get a jumper but I am very bullish on Ingram leveling out to be a 35 percent three-point shooter at some point. His mechanics are encouraging and there is more to work with Ingram more than a guy like Ben Simmons or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, he doesn't have to start from scratch. The shots just haven't started falling yet.
BG: You can't put Simmons and Ingram in the same sentence when it comes to shooting potential long term. He is very young and he has shown the ability to hit some shots in big moments and you like that because that means he has the right mentality. He needs to continue to show progress there or what are we talking about? They are kind of building the team around him. If your main building block is a very skinny 20-year-old wing that can't shoot threes you are going to be one of the worst team in the league, just like the Lakers are.
AS: ... After every single Lakers loss it's really easy to make jokes about their free agency plans and the future and it's kind of the lowest hanging fruit for basketball Twitter this year or the so-called smart basketball people out there. To sort of watch what the Lakers are doing this season and pretend that it is insane to think that they can build next year and I just think it is all kind of BS.
People talk about the Lakers as if they are the Knicks and they are really not the Knicks. They have a couple things that they have working in their favor and it's not just hype. I think this summer, the appeal of Los Angeles is very real. We talked about this before and you can absolutely become a much bigger star playing for the Lakers than you can for some small market team. Like Giannis is known to hardcore basketball fans now but he would own the planet in LA.
People coming out of that Thunder game and questioning if Paul George would really sign his career over and come to LA for the next four years for a 20-win Laker team. I think that it is a little bit more complicated than that. Like they have things other teams will not be able to offer even including Oklahoma City.
BG: I've come away from that game between those two teams with more optimism ever for Laker fans for Paul George. No. 1, loose lips Paul was back. He couldn't stop talking about how he wanted to get traded to his hometown and how everyone would love that situation. And then No. 2, Russell Westbrook is out there talking about how they going to keep Paul George because they are going to win the title. Breaking news: Oklahoma City, you are not going to win a title this year. I think people might push back on your first point a little bit and about the platform that we have heard for five years now and guys have consistently turned their back on that idea, do you think those were all independent situations where guys like LeBron or Carmelo or other guys who decided to not use that Lakers platform in past decisions and you think something is going to change here?
AS: I sort of put the last few years of the Lakers in a little bit of a different category because for a while there, Jim Buss was in charge and they really were as dumb as the critics said and now I don't think that is true. The LeBron thing to me is not crazy, at this point I would put it as 50/50 for him staying in Cleveland because that is a good a situation and there are moves that the Cavs can make that will entice him to stay. But if he leaves I really do think the Lakers would make more sense than any other team in the league. They are basically well-positioned to give him a shot to build whatever team he wants. There are assets they can trade, there are contracts they can use to bring in someone else to create space and people worry about how it will fit under the cap, if you look back over the last few years, when superstars want something to happen, they make it happen.
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