The New-New Lakers look like the Old-New Lakers
Look at this wall of text on ESPN's transaction page!
Fired general manager Mitch Kupchak, executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss and vice president of public relations John Black. Promoted Magic Johnson to president of basketball operations. Traded G Lou Williams to the Houston Rockets for F Corey Brewer and a future draft pick.
The Lakers cleaned house in the front office and put Magic "at the point." And while that might initially give me some optimism, that was immediately dashed. First, Baxter Holmes at ESPN noted the following:
Magic on trades: "Our untouchables are our young talent right now…There’s been people that have been calling for [them], but we’ve said no."— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) February 21, 2017
Hoo-boy. According to our numbers, the Lakers currently have two "good" (Points over Par per 48* over 2.0 and at least 500 minutes played) - Lou Williams (you see where this is going) and Larry Nance Jr. While it's possible Magic meant Nance in regards to "our young talent", it's unlikely. Larry Nance Jr. was drafted 27th (with a Rockets pick the Lakers acquired, oddly) and has started in only 22 of his 102 NBA games. Magic likely means Brandon Ingram and D'Angelo Russell, who were both selected with the number two pick in the draft. Both are young and can improve, but neither has shown much promise.
Now, onto the trade, the Lakers actually did make. I don't want to give Lou Williams too much credit. Throughout most of his career, he's hovered around average. He's also entering his 30s. I don't think we should expect a ton out of him, honestly. But he's also on a cheap short-term deal. Lou Williams is owed $7 million a season for the rest of this season and the next. He's the Lakers best player (ouch, let that sink in Lakers fans.) The Lakers did acquire a pick for him, but it's a future first-round pick from the Rockets, who aren't likely to be a lottery squad with Harden and Capela. The Lakers also acquired Corey Brewer, who we've always thought of as terrible. In fact, he's been one of my repeated question marks for the Rockets. So let's run this down.
1. The Lakers, who are already terrible, sent away their one decent player for a future pick, which will likely be late in the draft, and a bad player.
2. The Rockets, who are looking to contend this season, got an above average shooting guard (a position they need help at) for a future first round pick (which, as we repeatedly mentioned on the last Podcast, are routinely overrated) while also getting rid of one of their worst players.
I think this move pretty much cements Harden as the MVP for the season. And sadly I think it's a sign that the Lakers, who have been in "rebuilding mode" and already have two top-two picks, will likely stay there for a while.